There’s no question that The Walkmen were one of my favorite bands of the 21st century. The band consistently released albums that were flawless from start to finish. Following the release of Heaven, it seemed as though the band had finally gotten the recognition they deserved—bigger shows, better sales, great reviews. Then suddenly late last year, they announced that they would be going on hiatus. In hindsight, it sort of made sense. Band members were split between multiple cities, they had families, and Heaven had given them the perfect swan song album to go out on.
Interestingly enough, the end of The Walkmen has quickly brought an array of solo projects immediately paying dividends.
Multi-instrumentalist, Walter Martin will be the first member to drop a solo album. Featuring collaborations with members of the National, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, as well his former bandmates, We’re ll Young Together will be released on May 13th. It promises to be a playful, fun record that reflects Martin’s recent fatherhood.
Frontman of The Walkmen, Hamilton Leitheuser’s voice is an instantly recognizable force of nature. His solo debut Black Hours will be released on June 3rd, and from the sound of the singles, it will surely please Walkmen fans.
Peter Matthew Bauer
The third Walkmen-related solo album we’ll see in 2014 with be Peter Matthew Bauer’s Liberation! (out June 23rd). Lead single “Latin American Ficciones” promises that this one could reminiscent of a hard rocking Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.
No news yet of any solo albums from Matt Barrick or Paul Maroon, but at this rate, it wouldn’t be surprising.
This is arguably the weirdest thing Pink Mountaintops have pulled off, thanks partially to Giant Drag’s Annie Hardy adding a few freestyle raps to the track (on top of directing the video).
We are pleased to share the music video for “North Hollywood Microwaves,” a new track off Pink Mountaintops’ upcoming record ‘Get Back’ Out 4/29 via JagJaguwar. A.V. Club has premiered the new video today. Check it out here. Directed by Annie Hardy (Giant Drag), “North Hollywood Microwaves” is a catchy, chugging anthem with screaming sax solos and features rapping by Hardy, who is known for her black humor and David Lee Roth-level stage presence.
Director Annie Hardy says, “I’d like to imagine I supplied at least some of the inspiration for “North Hollywood Microwaves.” I met Stephen McBean through my good friend Joe Cardamone (who produced the Pink Mountaintops LP) who always knows who to introduce to who. Joe, Stephen, Travis Keller and I met for lunch, first at my house in North Hollywood (clue 1) and on the way to Mrs Peaches Soul Food I told the car a story of a not-so-distant past that found my house (Full Psycho HQ) rocking 4 microwaves (clue 2). A few weeks later Joe told me Stephen had heard my side project PnP (a “free jizz” band of all improv music that Joe was lucky enough to record: a 51 minute freestyle musical odyssey that I’ve yet to outdo (clue 3)) and Stephen wanted me to come rap on a song. Wouldn’t you know it, I went down and threw down two mere freestyles and forgot about it until Stereogum told me they were debuting it. I asked Stephen if I could make a music video for the song and he said yes. Stephen sent me an amazing video of himself dancing which really legitimized my video. I came down with a vicious kidney infection that ended with me in the ER, which couldn’t have worked out better for the “me and Rod Stewart at the hospital” part of my freestyle. All in all I’d say this video and the experience was a great one and is just more proof that the universe is a magical place for anyone that dares to adventure… And that North Hollywood rules.”
Mecca Lecca’s own Unicycle Loves You has a new album on the way. The Dead Age will be released on June 10th via Mecca Lecca & our pals Highwheel Records. Like a mother’s unconditional love for her child, there’s no denying that I have a skewed interest in the band. But I also wholeheartedly believe that anyone who loves the noisier side of late 80s/90s indie rock will instantly fall in love with The Dead Age. Noisier and more varied than its most immediate predecessor, Failure (2012), Unicycle Loves You’s latest effort sounds like Pet Sounds exploding.
The band’s second single off the album is “Falling Off”. This is classic Unicycle Loves You, combining The Swirlies’ catchy dream pop with manic noise detours a la Sonic Youth.
Upcoming Tour Dates
4/17 – New York, NY – Cake Shop (w/ Steel Phantoms, High Waisted, and D.A. Stern & The Sanctuaries)
6/07 – Brooklyn, NY – Radio Bushwick (Album Release Show, w/ Lost Boy?, Idgy Dean & Whiskey Bitches)
The Dead Age Tracklist:
01. Falling Off
02. We Never Worry
03. Suicide Pizza
04. Silent Minus
05. Face Tattoo
07. Bad News Club
08. Endless Bummer
09. Any Daydreaming Morning
11. X-ray Glaze
12. The Dead Age
Landlady’s Adam Schatz has been a unique presence in the Brooklyn music scene for years. While his time with Man Man may be the most eye catching thing on his resume, one cannot say enough about all of the other various projects Adam has been a part of. He clearly has loads of ideas and the energy to bring these ideas to fruition. With Landlady, Schatz may have outdone himself. On July 15, Landlady will release their debut Upright Behavior on Hometapes. New single “The Globe” gives an early taste of the unpredictable and expansive sound of the album.
Landlady Residency at Shea Stadium (20 Meadow St., Brooklyn)
4/08/14 – Landlady with Ava Luna and Cloud Becomes Your Hand
4/15/14 – Landlady with Yellowbirds and Lone Wolf
4/22/14 – Landlady with Relatives and The Westerlies
01. Above My Ground
02. Dying Day
04. Under The Yard
05. The Globe
06. Upright Behavior
09. Washington State Is Important
10. X-Ray Machine
Califone’s 2103 release Stitches slipped under the radar last year. Until a friend complained that it was being overlooked by critics’ year end lists, I had no idea it was even out. When I did finally take a listen, Stitches consumed me. “Magdalene” was one of the tracks that really stood out, and can it finally has a equally wonderful companion video.
Whether digging through his sexual history or expressing his fear of death through the tale of Richard Ramirez, Mark Kozelek has a way of storytelling that keeps you hanging on every word. A continuation of the songwriting style he began with Among The Leaves, Kozelek has further proven to be a deeply inspired confessional songwriter.
On Perils From the Sea, Kozelek’s remarkable 2013 collaboration with Jimmy Lavalle, the track “Gustavo” appeared as a standout example of his shift towards more intricately detailed storytelling. From opener “Carissa” through closer “Ben’s My Friend,” Kozelek follows a similar structure to that of “Gustavo.” Decades ago, a song such as “Dogs”—about Kozelek’s earliest sexual experiences— would have been heard as over sharing. But in the 21st century these lyrics feel contemporary. Similarly, on “Ben’s My Friend” Kozelek’s details of mundane events echo a society in which millions of people instagram their every meal.
Maybe it’s this ability to remain contemporary that has allowed this relatively simple folk album connect to so many people. Or maybe people have just finally remembered what an incredible songwriter Mark Kozelek is.
RIYL: Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen
Released at the end of January on Trouble in Mind Records, Morgan Delt’s self titled debut joins a growing list of quality psych rock albums being released in the 21st century. Much like Tame Impala and Jacco Gardner, Morgan Delt has seemingly taken the same acid that led Syd Barret, Kaleidoscope, and Tomorrow into taking 60s rock melodies on disorienting voyages.
Within the first few seconds of album opener “Make My Grey Brain Green” Morgan Delt establishes a sense of sonic adventure. The entire album is filled with kaleidoscopic patterns, which make for wildly fun listening experience.
While it may take its queues from a long history of psychedelia, Morgan Delt feels fresh enough to make it worth your time.
RIYL: Tame Impala, Oh No Ono, Kaleidoscope (UK)
Back when 1,2,3 released their debut album, New Heaven, on Frenchkiss, they seemed geared to be the next big thing. A perfect mix of hooks, energy, and scattered influences made New Heaven an extremely fun record that would build a foundation for a massive following.
Here we are a few years later. The band seemingly self-destructed and regrouped. Gone is the support of a major indie label, but on the soon to be self-released double album Big Weather 1,2,3 seems have undergone a revelation. All of the potential that was on display on their debut appears to be fully realized.
It’s a long album, so rather than releasing just a single, the band decided to share both of the first 2 cuts of Big Weather. “Big Weather Pt 1″ is an instant love affair. I can’t help but feel the band has taken the rhythm of Mellencamp’s hand-clapping hit “Jack & Diane” and fused it with Panda Bear’s towards the Beach Boys. “Leave Me In The Sky With The Lawnchair” immediately shifts the pace to an energetic freakout that appears to end as abruptly as it begins.
Big Weather Tracklisting:
1. Big Weather Pt. 1
2. Leave Me In The Sky With The Lawnchair
3. Pontoon Song
4. Waiting For The Horsemen
5. Mile High Grass
6. Bus To Babylon
7. Refusal Bop
8. Shapes of Wrath
9. Fear/Pure Elevation
11. Stone Haus
12. Porch Swing Song
13. Big Black Car
14. Big Weather Pt. 2
15. In The House of The Locust
16. When The Levee Broke at The County Fair
18. Faith Hill
19. Where We Lived
20. Sick of the End
It’s been far far too long since Death Vessel blessed this world with Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us. Finally, he’ll be releasing a new record, Island Intervals, on February 24th via Sub Pop. On the single “Ilsa Drown,” he collaborates with Jônsi. The combination of their two beautiful voices makes my heart quiver.
NØMADS is maximum sound two-piece bass & drum collaboration featuring Nathan Lithgow (bassist for My Brightest Diamond, Inlets, and Gabriel & the Hounds), and drummer Garth Macaleavey (former Inlets touring percussionist, and sound engineer for the Philip Glass Ensemble). NØMADS will be releasing their debut album Free My Animal on April 8 via Mecca Lecca. The band premiered the track “In The Mend” with SPIN, which is the first taste from Free My Animal.
Born and incubated in a tiny room in Brooklyn, NØMADS leans towards the razor-efficient songwriting forms of 90’s bands like Nirvana, Fugazi, and Girls Against Boys, while updating the style and stripping the approach to its essential foundations of lyricism and sonic intensity. NØMADS is a primal sound that capitalizes on conspicuous juxtapositions- minimal instrumentation against maximum sound; aggression against beauty; soft melody versus an aggression of expression.
Free My Animal, the project’s first full-length effort, is an album about liberation, belief, and being alive, incorporating elements of more contemporary rock outfits like Death From Above 1979 and Queens of the Stone Age. Produced, recorded, and mixed entirely by the two members, it is a meditation on shedding a skin and becoming a predator in the modern age.
The spine of Free My Animal is a recorded rehearsal of the songs comprising the album, each performed in one-take, without a metronome, in its most organic form. This is the sound of shutting out the rest of the world in order to create something true, undiluted, and and unapologetic.
Upcoming NØMADS Tour Dates
1/28 – Brooklyn, NY – Glasslands (w/ Bright Future, Dead Stars, The Everymen)
2/28 – Brooklyn, NY – Spike Hill
Free My Animal
Out April 8, 2014
1. In The Mend
2. Free My Animal
3. The Cosmos
4. Summer of Open Wide
5. Blood In The Water
7. Down In Out
I spent the bulk of my 2013 digging through the past. Week by week, I devoted countless hours to listening to what came before. I’ve listened to a more extensive list of music this year than any other year before. I tried to avoid obsessively listening to a single album, urging myself to continue to consume. And yet, at the end of the year, I feel like I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the past. How does one even attempt to sift through an endless sea for the rare fish that has never been seen? Anyone who has grown bored with music and feels like they’ve heard it all will find themselves inside a dusty bubble surrounded by a fertile universe waiting to be explored.
In my listening, a variety of albums consumed me. Some of them were old friends that returned to my life with far more to give. Others were decades old, but totally fresh from my perspective. Listed chronologically (based on time period of recording), the following albums came from the past to consume my present.
As part 1 of a 2 part series, the following albums were released between the 1950s and 1970s
Freight Train & Other North Carolina Folk Songs & Tunes
From here lies the origin of the term “Cotten-picking”, based around her unique technique of guitar playing. Recorded in the 50s, while Cotten was in her 60s, Freight Train & Other North Carolina Folk Songs & Tunes is a collection of songs that Elizabeth Cotten had originally written in the early 1900s as a young girl. Freight Train, the most famous song of Cotten’s career was written when she was only 11 years old. Dusty, intimate folk, Cotten’s aged voice cries with the wisdom of an old soul. It’s hard to imagine the songs providing such an impact when sung in her youth. The marriage of the playful songs of her youth with the weathered voice of her 60s bridges a gap that is rarely left to be returned to.
It’s Everly Time
Few artists have been as influential at Don and Phil were to popular music. By The time they released It’s Everly Time, they had already made their mark with hits like “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie.” On their third LP, they just seemed to perfect their art. Opening with the Don Everly original “So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad),” their harmonies seem to be straight from the heavens, blessed with an impeccable warmth and beauty. With “Memories Are Made of This” a simple finger snap provides a natural percussion that provides an intimacy hard to accomplish with the standard drum kit. Lyrically, there’s little more than the standard love songs of the era and yet those spectacular vocal harmonies give them purpose.
Manhattan Research Inc.
recorded 1953-1969, released 2000
You may recognize Raymond Scott’s name as the musical mastermind whose work was made famous through its use in Looney Tunes cartoons. But Manhattan Research Inc is a much different collection of sounds. Comprised of recordings between 1953 and 1969, Manhattan Research Inc combines early electronic music experiments with commercial jingles. Long before the likes of Eno or Kraftwerk, Scott’s recordings seem ridiculously ahead of their time. “The Bass-line Generator” sounds like a sketch for peak Kraftwerk, but with the warped sensibilities of Silver Apples. The spoken tracks are reminiscent of hip hop sampling. Meanwhile, the Jim Henson narrated “Limbo: The Organized Mind” brings to mind the bizarre spoken works of Tom Waits. Applying his orchestral sensibilities to electronic soundscapes, even the commercial jingles appear as profound technical achievements.
Simon & Garfunkel
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
Up until this point, Simon & Garfunkel could be perceived as a simple folk duo with great songwriting. On Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme , the duo expanded their sound. Still centered around Paul Simon’s gift for songwriting and their vocal harmonies, there’s an atmospheric element that was not present on previous recordings. Whether slowing things down on a pretty ballad like “For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her” or picking up the pace on “Cloudy”, this is Simon & Garfunkel at their very best.
The enormous success of Saturday Night Fever has made the BeeGees synonymous with disco. In the beginning, the trio of Gibb brothers were a 60s psych pop group. Characterized by their beautiful voices and a sense of melodrama, Horizontal has become my personal favorite of that era of their careers. The detailed arrangements are far less predictable than the standard contemporary pop song. On “World” a screaming guitar riff infiltrates an otherwise sugar-coated song about heartbreak. It’s subtle, but effective, even in the context of an album that’s outrageously over-the-top. It would be easy to toss this aside as a Beatles clone. The similarities between the songwriting of the two bands are endless but the BeeGees execute with a level of craft that is impossible to ignore.
Just Another Diamond Day
Prior to the emergence of modern freak-folkers such as Devendra Banhart, Animal Collective and Joanna Newsom, Vashti Bunyan was a forgotten treasure of the late 60s. Her debut Just Another Diamond Day is sweet, dusty, playful record. Warm, uplifting Bunyan’s songs fill your soul with sunlight.
Born on Cat Island in the Bahamas, Macfarlane Gregory Anthony (Tony McKay) Mackey moved to New York City at the age of 17, and eventually found himself in the rich 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene. In 1970, he released his debut as Exuma. Unlike anything coming out of America, Exuma was a mystical album brewed in a pot, mixing calypso, folk, reggae passionately. Tony McKay sang delivered words about Obeah (folk magic, sorcery) with the passion of prime Richie Havens. Behind him, the band created a rich, nuanced percussive environment not unlike a calypso Moondog.
As brilliant as their debut is, Lizard has become my personal favorite of the King Crimson discography. From the opening moments of “Cirkus,” this album is an unpredictable, eclectic prog masterpiece, but the greatest example of Crimson’s brilliance somes on the 11 minute title track. Started with a delicate, haunting piano ballad, tense atmosphere envelopes the song before it suddenly transforms into a BeeGees-esque pop song, complimented by Robert Fripp’s mind-bending guitar work.
Time of the Last Persecution
For past year, there’s no album I’ve returned to more often. And within each return, something new has been revealed. Fitting alongside Nick Drake, Bill Fay is one of the finest songwriting talents of the early 70s. Lost beneath the era’s powerful stadium level performers was Fay’s crippling electrified folk melancholy. Time of the Last Persecution plays like a prophecy of Wilco. Calculated guitar riffs weave throughout the songs as Fay’s words engulf you.
As an original member of The Byrds, his voice should be instantly recognizable. Here we find him years removed from his more famous band. His voice more developed, and his songwriting more refined, “Strength of Strings” is a chilling ballad that would define his solo career. No Other should be regarded as one of the great early landmarks in the history of alt-country.
Her voice is unmistakable. Her presence on The Velvet Underground’s debut gives Nico a rock & roll immortality like few others. Nonetheless, her solo work remains generally overlooked, despite the consistent involvement of John Cale. The End proves to one of Nico’s darkest, and yet most enchanting releases. The drone of the harmonium, along with Cale’s spinning synths cause hypnosis.
The Third Reich ‘n’ Roll
How does one describe such an odd record. A listening experience like no other I’ve ever heard, The Third Reich ‘n’ Roll is a magnificently bizarre collage of 60s pop, Nazi propaganda, commercial jingles and a dark twisted acid trip. This is not casual listening. This is the type of record that wreaks havoc on the sanity of anyone listening.
Heart of the Congos
Like many, my knowledge of reggae is extremely limited. Beyond the obvious Bob Marley & The Wailers, there’s a fertile collection of classic reggae waiting to be discovered by the greater majority, and Heart of the Congos is the best example I’ve come across. Produced by the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry, The Congos 1977 debut is a beautifully warm collection of roots reggae. Where Bob Marley’s songs became polished for the American public, the production here presents the dub aesthetic in its pure form.
A blind street musician with a jazz pedigree, Louis Thomas Hardin was greatly admired by everyone from Charlie Parker and Benny Goodman to Phillip Glas to Janis Joplin and Modest Mouse. H’art Songs came more than 20 years into his career. Unlike much of his previous work, it’s comprised of seemingly simple vocal compositions. What appears to silly melodic ditties, transcend into complicated, introspective album.