Monday, December 5, 2011

Top 25 Songs of 2011

Last year I gave you my top 10 songs of 2010, but 2011 was a pretty big year. A big year for established bands (Radiohead, Beastie Boys, Foo Fighters), a growing trend for dance music and remixes (7 remixes made the list this year) and some promising new artists (Childish Gambino, ARMS, SBTRKT). He we go...

#25. Wilco - Art of Almost
The first track off this year's The Whole Love is 7 minutes of controlled chaos.I wish the final 2 minutes could go on forever.
#24. Sondre Lerche - Red Flags
Criminally overlooked and underrated, Sondre Lerche crafts amazing songs. Not a single note is wasted, and lyrically, it just seems so effortless. His album Sondre Lerche is filled with gems.

#23. A-Trak - Ray Ban Vision (Remix) [ft. Donnis, Pill, Danny Brown & Cy-Hi Da Prynce]
Two reasons this track made it. One, A-Trak is amazing. Two, Danny Brown is a beast. The newest member of the Fool's Gold family wrecked this song and then dropped XXX in case you thought he was joking. 

#22. Eddie Vedder - Tonight, You Belong To Me [ft. Chan Marshall]
Fans of Steve Martin's film The Jerk will recognize this song. A playful cover with the help of Chan Marshall aka Cat Power. Ed's second solo album Ukulele Songs is exactly what it says. 16 songs with a ukulele and it became a favorite of mine, while receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album.

#21. Justice - Audio, Video, Disco (Para One Remix)
Although Justice's album Audio, Video, Disco was a bit of a disappointment, I can't blame them for trying something new. Maybe my expectations were too high, but this remix by Para One is a nice consolation.
#20. Mathieu Santos - I Can Hear The Trains Coming [FREE DOWNLOAD]
Mathieu Santos released Massachusetts 2010 earlier this year and I loved the single. Very similar to his day job as bass player for Ra Ra Riot, the album is solid. Is everyone in that band incredibly talented?
#19. Penguin Prison - The Worse It Gets (Starsmith Remix) [FREE DOWNLOAD]
Technically, this remix came out in 2010. But, since Penguin Prison just released his debut album in October, I'll let it slide. It seemed like all summer he kept dropping a new single and a slew of remixes. I'm not complaining.
#18. Coldplay - Hurts Like Heaven
I had a few reservations about Mylo Xyloto. I saw them at the Aragon for Parachutes, at the Vic for A Rush of Blood to the Head and then it just seemed like too much. Thankfully, I can say this is better. Not great, but the best I've heard from them in years.
#17. The Rapture - How Deep Is Your Love? (A-Trak Remix)
The Rapture's In The Grace Of Your Love was a highlight of the year, with some serious dance tracks. Add A-Trak to the mix and you have a classic.
#16. Foo Fighters - White Limo
 The Foo Fighters were very much like Coldplay and had to prove something to me this year. Enough of the ballads and acoustic shows, give me a rock record. Dave Grohl and company set up shop in his garage and turned up all the knobs. 6 Grammy nominations, I'd say that's a good year.
#15. Tokyo Police Club - All My Friends (LCD Soundsystem Cover)
Tokyo Police Club took cover songs to a completely different level this year, releasing 10x10x10. Ten songs, in ten days from ten years, starting with 2001. While some were forgettable (Party in the USA?), this LCD Soundsystem cover is perfect.
#14. Delorean - Stay Close (RAC Remix) [FREE DOWNLOAD]
If you read last year's list, RAC's remix of Everything You Wanted by Kele was the only remix listed. A year later, they snatch up two spots and it could have been three. Part of VOL 2, these guys are on point like no one else.
#13. Bright Eyes - Haile Selassie
As the lists start to come in, a lot of people are sleeping on Bright Eyes' The People's Key. I am not one of them. I made my first trip to NYC in March to see them at Radio City Music Hall, and saw them two more times. Everything I love about Bright Eyes is neatly packaged into one song.

#12. Beastie Boys - Make Some Noise
Last year, there was a very good possibility that we might never hear new music from the Beastie Boys. When Adam Yauch announced that he had cancer, all music including the album Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 was put on hold. Thankfully, he's on the mend, we got this jam and a hilarious video too.
#11. Radiohead - Lotus Flower
Following an 18 track double album with a concise 8 song, 38 minute album is not what I expected. But, Radiohead rarely does what people expect. A US tour in the spring is up next, get ready.

#10. Cults - Go Outside (Menahan Street Band Remix) [FREE DOWNLOAD]
Take out the spoken word, add a brilliant organ and throw on The Big Lebowski. You're welcome.

#9. ARMS - Fleeced [FREE DOWNLOAD]
I wrote about them last month, so this shouldn't be a shock. Let's get these kids signed and playing in Chicago soon.
#8. Drake - Headlines
I never listen to the radio or watch MTV, so when a song blows up so much that you simply can't avoid it, you have to show respect. I'm not going to throw Take Care on my best album list, but this song is major.
#7. Gigamesh - When You're Dancing (RAC Remix)
When I posted this song a few months ago, I called it the remix of the year. Somebody prove me wrong.
#6. Tune-Yards - Bizness
If not for Bon Iver, Tune-Yards would have been my album of the year. So fresh and exciting, it's charm is untouchable.
#5. Death Cab For Cutie - Stay Young, Go Dancing
Let's try for a minute to forget the absolute train wreck that was the Keys & Codes Remix EP and appreciate a really good song, from a really good album.
#4. Childish Gambino - Freaks & Geeks
Yes, he's Troy from Community. Yes, he just released a damn good album. But, this was blasting all summer for me. You can't find a better line/flow than "Nigga can't you tell that my sample of Adele was so hot I got these hood niggas blowing up my cell". Exhibit B is Backpackers (from Camp) where he is trying to hurt people.
#3. SBTRKT - Wildfire
Assist of the year goes to Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon for making this track a killer. This is what it sounds like when planets align.
#2. Jay-Z & Kanye West - Otis
Collectively known as The Throne and currently murdering the US on tour, Jay & Ye sampled Otis Redding's Try a Little Tenderness and that's all you need to know.
#1. Bon Iver - Holocene
The play count for this song is easily over 200 and considering how much music I listen to, that is saying a lot. Very few people could follow up an album like For Emma with something better. But, Justin Vernon did just that. Every person that immediately followed him like a cult, dying to hear more music, got more than they ever expected. I used to see the line "I could see for miles, miles and miles" and think of the Who, not anymore.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hear 5 Songs From The Black Keys

The Black Keys will release El Camino on December 6th, but you can hear 5 songs right now. Do I really have to say anything else? Simply add your email address and get access to their first single Lonely Boy, plus Gold on the Ceiling, Little Black Submarines, Sister & Run Right Back

Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Star Announce New Album

Mos Def and Talib Kweli, collectively known as Black Star are making some noise with two new songs and a new album due in 2012. The album would be there first release since their debut in 1998! Fix Up was released on Friday and this morning we got You Already Knew. Both tracks are said to be part of an album inspired by Aretha Franklin, tentatively titled Black Star Aretha. You can hear both tracks below and watch the classic video for Definition.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Childish Gambino - Heartbeat

At least one member of the NBC sitcom Community had a good day. The same day his the sitcom was "benched", Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino released his debut album Camp on Glassnote Records. After releasing 3 albums and an EP for free, it's time to pay up. The album was previewed a week early on NPR and is getting solid reviews from pretty much everyone. What started as a sample-heavy mixtape for hipsters, he has definitely transitioned into a well-produced artist. When I first heard him on I am just a Rapper, I found the Sleigh Bells and Grizzly Bear samples a bit too reminiscent of Chiddy Bang, and quite frankly that gets old after a while. Last summer's Freaks & Geeks EP was a huge step in the right direction and a favorite of mine in 2011. Lyrically, his ability to turn words and snap one-liners is his greatest asset. He stopped by Conan last night to play Heartbeat, his second single and my favorite song on the new album. Check out the video below along with his track Break, killing Kanye's All of the Lights.

Heartbeat (Radio Rip)


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Introducing: Star Slinger

I first became aware of Star Slinger after he released a remix of Childish Gambino's Freaks & Geeks, earlier this year. The original has been on repeat since it was released, but the remix was just so different, I had to check him out. He followed that up with a massive mix for Fabric and has been on fire ever since. Despite being from Manchester, Star Slinger relies heavily on Soul samples, deep cuts that I've heard for too many years to count. On his collaboration titled Teams vs Star Slinger he samples Barbara Mason's Yes, I'm Ready with absolute precision. A track from his release Volume 1, titled Mornin' speeds up the classic Let's Do It Again by the Staple Singers and it's the illest thing I've heard in a while. He recently finished his first US tour and thankfully I caught him at Lincoln Hall. A proper debut is in the works, with the first single Dumbin' available as a free download from Green Label Sound. Normally I give you a single song or video to let the goodness sink in, but I honestly couldn't decide on just one.
Dumbin' (ft Reggie B) [FREE DOWNLOAD]

April Fabric Mix [FREE DOWNLOAD]

Childish Gambino - Freaks & Geeks (Star Slinger Remix) [FREE DOWNLOAD]

Teams vs Star Slinger - Punch Drunk Love [FREE DOWNLOAD]

Mornin' (From Volume 1)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rostam - Don't Let It Get To You

Fans of Rostam Batmanglij, rejoice! The Vampire Weekend member released his second song in a little over a month, creating whispers of a solo album. The song titled Don't Let It Get To You, is everything you'd expect from him. A bit of tribal drums, cascading synths and spoken word lyrics. The electronic elements bring to mind Discovery, his other side project, a collaboration with Ra Ra Riot's Wes Miles. Follow him on tumblr or Soundcloud, because I'm sure there is more music to follow.
Don't Let it Get to You by ROSTAM

Friday, October 21, 2011

Justice - Audio, Video, Disco Review

Occasionally artists tell the truth. When asked about the direction the new album was taking, Xavier de Rosnay (Half of French Duo, Justice) replied "the album would have a bit more sunshine... daytime music". He wasn't lying. Fours years after their massively successful debut Cross, they are set to release Audio, Video, Disco next week. While it's bound to be compared to their first album, the new material takes a lot of risks, with results good and bad.

If you are looking for the funk and strings of DVNO, you won't find it. How about the distortion and stutter of Waters of Nazareth? Nope. A hint of D.A.N.C.E., their biggest hit? Maybe. While most of the last album was constructed on a computer, this one was created with real instruments, giving it a completely different feel. They may not be the greatest musicians, but surprisingly, it's the live tracks that show the most growth and the electro instrumentals that feel a bit stale.

Horsepower, the opening track felt wrong from the beginning. Did anyone else think they were about to hear Michael Jackson's Beat It? It's basically a drawn out intro to Civilization with the last 30 seconds sounding like something from Legends of Zelda. Civilization was supposed to a hit. Similar to D.A.N.C.E. and tied to a worldwide Adidas campaign, it's the best example of both styles working together. Lyrics have never been their strong suit and you can get away with it when you are asking people to dance the night away. But, "Beating of a million drums/The fire of a million guns/The mother of a million sons" just seems lazy and lethargic.

Thank god for On'N'On, easily the best track. It really saves the album after the average Ohio and Canon. On'N'On is fluid from beginning to end, the vocals and strings build the song properly and it gives you a brief glimpse of what might be. After such great promise and excitement, we get Brainvision which features the most guitar, albeit single-note, and little else. It's these missteps, followed by the bland Parade that frustrate me the most. They are failing where they should be succeeding. Just give me a great synth line with some energy!

Amazingly, they seem to get it together at the end. I can't say a bad thing about the final three songs. New Lands starts off by borrowing the riff from Ac/Dc's For Those About to Rock and there's nothing wrong with that. The breakdown in the middle is just enough to indulge in while resisting the temptation to make a mess of a very good song. Helix is what they do. You've got it all, stuttering vocals, great hook, focus and energy. It was originally reported that this was going to be left off the album (it was included on the Audio, Video, Disco EP), but this song restored my faith in them. While the closing track doesn't break new ground, it does give that ray of light, that peak of sunshine. I just wish it didn't take so long.

Rarely do you find a dance album that doesn't have filler, I understand that. But, the peaks and valleys of this album are so far apart that you are left with 5 good songs and 6 bad ones. It's baffling. Despite the fact that half of the album is sub par, I'm very interested to see how it works live. A new album always means a new tour and there's nothing wrong with that. Listen to the whole album below (via NME) and pick it up next Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Black Keys Announce El Camino

Either The Black Keys are releasing new music or they are going to great lengths to sell a minivan. A fake ad was released on Sunday that features Bob Odenkirk attempting to sell a minivan. Maybe Akron is thin on actual El Caminos, or maybe it's another part of the joke; either way it got my attention. The clip ends with the words, "The Black Keys, El Camino, December 6". Also popping up is the site, which has a phone number for potential buyers. The number goes directly to a message from Patrick about the car with no mention of new music or an album. Lastly, Patrick sent out a message on Twitter yesterday to follow @WannaBuyAVan. The account is based out of Akron, Ohio and has zero tweets.

Pre-Order information is up now and the first single, Lonely Boy is due October 26th.
1.Lonely Boy
2. Dead and Gone
3. Gold on the Ceiling
4. Little Black Submarines
5. Money Maker
6. Run Right Back
7. Sister
8. Hell of a Season
9. Stop Stop
10. Nova Baby
11. Mind Eraser

Monday, October 10, 2011

Introducing: ARMS

While digging around Daytrotter last year, I stumbled on to a band called ARMS. The side project of Todd Goldstein has since become his main focus following the breakup of his former band, Harlem Shakes. After hearing their new single, that doesn't seem to be a bad thing. Todd released 2009's Kids Aflame playing most of the instruments and keeping it a fairly solo project. 2010's ARMS EP was recorded with band members and the growth is evident. Heat & Hot Water is a great song built on a rumbling bass line and Todd's drawn out vocals.

My hope is that 2011 will be their breakout year, with a full album, Summer Skills due in November. The first single, Fleeced is a huge step forward with the addition of synthesizers and more energy. Fans of Local Natives or Ra Ra Riot should enjoy their ability to incorporate a lot of rhythm without losing the drive or focus of a true gem. Both the ARMS EP and Fleeced are available now for free on their Bandcamp page. With absolutely no hint of a label, these guys are doing it themselves and should be supported.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mayer Hawthorne - The Walk

I had the pleasure of catching Chromeo last Friday at the House of Blues and the boys did not disappoint. However, it was the opening act that really impressed me. As someone who grew up on Motown and can appreciate the genius of Smokey Robinson, I am very skeptical when it comes to new R&B. Especially when it comes across as some sort "Retro/Neo-Soul" gimmick. Admittedly, when I initially heard Mayer Hawthorne and his first album, A Strange Arrangement, I dismissed it as such.

But, like so many of those hard-working Motown Revues in the 60's, Mayer Hawthorne & the County bring so much energy, it's hard not to leave a fan. His music immediately got the crowd moving and even had Jill Scott singing and dancing from the balcony. His second album, How Do You Do was released on Tuesday and his video for "The Walk" debuted a few days ago. The Night Falls Tour featuring Chromeo, Mayer Hawthorne & The County, and Sammy Bananas runs through November, so check them out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Death Cab For Cutie - Stay Young, Go Dancing

Death Cab For Cutie released a video this week for their newest single, Stay Young, Go Dancing, my favorite song from this year's Codes & Keys. The video follows a man and woman through the years, starting as an aged couple and ending with them as children. It seems a bit too VH1 and will no doubt lead even more fans to complain about their path to "Dad Rock". But for every "New Year", they had a "I'll Follow You Into The Dark", so this really shouldn't be too much of a surprise. For some reason the line, "Lost in a maze, of a thousand rainy days" stuck with me and I'm just passing along a really good song. They are about to start a Fall tour with the closest show in Champaign, October 1st. The video was directed by Claire Carre.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gigamesh - When You're Dancing (RAC Remix)

It took a while, but the remix of the year has arrived. Gigamesh is a Producer/DJ from Minneapolis who is set to release the Gigamesh EP in October. For those of you that get your tunes from Beatport, they have an exclusive release on the 4th, followed by a full release on the 18th. It's good to hear that Prince isn't the only funky thing coming out of Minnesota. His stuff is heavy on synth and I'm loving the horns. RAC in typical fashion brings a little bit of flavor and make a stellar track even better. Described as "Scifi Space Disco", this is absolutely killing it right now...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

George Harrison - Living In The Material World

It seems as though the "quiet one" has a few things to say. A new documentary directed by Martin Scorsese about George Harrison will debut in two parts, October 5th and 6th, exclusively on HBO."George Harrison: Living In The Material World" packs new interviews, videos and performances into an epic 3 1/2 hour film. I've very interested to see the second half, as the first half ends with The Beatles breakup. Aside from releasing well received solo albums, he was a member of the Traveling Wilburys, produced a Monty Python film (I had no idea) and put together the unbelievable Concert for Bangladesh. For those of you without cable, the film will be released October 10th on DVD, Blu-Ray and a Blu-Ray Deluxe Edition that includes a cd and book. Is there a better song than "Here Comes The Sun"? Thanks, George.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


In less than a year, The MID has become the spot in Chicago to see the best DJs from around the world. I have personally been there for sets from A-Trak, Green Velvet and most recently, MSTRKRFT. JFK played one of the first shows there in January, and this time showed up with Al-P for an official Lollapalooza after party. The venue is tight, maxing at 800 with the main dance floor sharing space with booths that offer table service. The stage is so small, that A-Trak couldn't even fit his most recent setup (check it here) when he played there in May. If you want the theatrics, maybe you should check acts out at the Congress. If you want a sweaty mess of a night, get here, immediately. Upcoming events include The Twelves, Questlove, Crookers & SBTRKT.

React & C3 Present: MSTRKRFT at the MID - Control Saturdays from React Presents on Vimeo.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lollapalooza Week - Foo Fighters

My biggest complaint about Lolla's lineup this year is the horrible choices for headliners. It seems like they regularly only have 1 or 2 bands that interest me over the entire weekend and out of this year's choices, I only want to see the Foo Fighters. So far it's been a pretty good year for the guys with the release of Wasting Light and a career-spanning documentary, Back and Forth. One of the main reasons they continue to have so much success is due to the fact that they really do try and reach the fans. Before the release of their new album, they played secret shows throughout California and then went out the "Garage" tour, where they played 5 garages in the US. I've seen them many times, expect a ton of energy and all the hits. Fuck Deadmau5, Cold War Kids & Kid Cudi, you better be at the Music Unlimited stage Sunday night.A dug pretty deep for some nice tracks, download and thanks for reading. I'm off to Lollapalooza, follow me on Twitter (theearlynerd) for updates all day...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lollapalooza Week - Death From Above 1979

Death From Above 1979 is proof that all you need is one, great album. The Canadian Electro/Punk duo released one album, You're a Woman, I'm a Machine in 2004 and set the bar pretty high. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that they blurred the lines enough to make Punk danceable, and Electro dirty. A brief 2 years later, the band had broken up and moved on to other projects. Jesse F. Keeler is currently one half of MSTRKRFT and Sebastien Grainger went on to release solo albums. As abruptly as they announced their demise, they reunited this year with a riot-inducing set at SXSW, and a prime slot at Coachella. Catch them tonight at the Metro for a SOLD OUT pre-Lolla show, or on Saturday, 4pm on the Bud Light stage.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lollapalooza Week - Bright Eyes

Riding the wave of a critically-acclaimed album and an amazing tour, Bright Eyes show no signs of stopping. Prior to the release of this year's The People's Key, Conor Oberst had hinted the end was near. But if you have either heard the album or caught them on tour, you can easily see they are firing on all cylinders. Just last month, they added a West coast leg to the tour and I am so happy they are making their first appearance at Lollapalooza. That is not a typo or misinformation, this is the first time they will enjoy Grant Park and all its beauty. I hope I see the entire city of Chicago at the Bud Light Stage, Friday at 6:30. The video is for their newest single, Jejune Stars and the audio is a bonus song from 2007's Cassadaga.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lollapalooza Week - The Bloody Beetroots

The best thing about The Bloody Beetroots is that they are constantly getting better. Starting off as a DJ duo, they more than held their own at Perry's Tent in 2009. Their brand of aggression and punk seemed like a distant cousin to Boys Noize and MSTRKRFT who followed them. As the remixes seemed to pile up for The Chemical Brothers, Shitdisco and Micky Green to name a few, the crowds increased as well. Choosing to assemble a live band and create Death Crew 77 was exactly what the fans wanted. I had a chance to catch them at Lincoln Hall last year and I was blown away. I'm almost hesitant to even put up a sample of their music because their live set is completely different. So let's give another group some love and consider this a 2 for 1. The song is Awesome off their album Romborama and features Chicago's own Cool Kids. For a fresher look, check out the videos and prepare for a sweaty, exhausting mess... The Bloody Beetroots will destroy Perry Stage on Friday at 5pm. The Cool Kids were a late addition and are at Perry's Stage on Sunday at 3.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lollapalooza Week - Local Natives

For the next 5 days, I'll post a video or song from a band I refuse to miss at this year's Lollapalooza. I wish I could say that I am thrilled with the lineup, but it's ok, I guess. If you've been reading my posts, you might be able to predict the next 5 days, so I'll try to give you a demo or acoustic version for your trouble.

Local Natives is a really good band out of California, that isn't afraid to represent the West coast. They have been compared to Vampire Weekend, due to their Afro-Pop and World beats. But, I enjoy them because of their harmonies and subtle textures. Where most bands from the East coast tend to be more aggressive, Local Natives allow the song to expand and never seem in a hurry. Pick up 2010's Gorilla Manor and check them out Saturday at 5:30 on the Sony stage.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pearl Jam Twenty Trailer and Screenings

Pearl Jam finally released the trailer for the career-spanning documentary, Pearl Jam Twenty. Directed by Cameron Crowe and filled with ultra rare footage, it is not to be missed. There will also be a soundtrack and book to accompany the film. The band announced today that they will have a one day national screening across North America on September 20th. Chicago details are TBD. This looks awesome...

Pearl Jam Twenty from Pearl Jam on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kanye West & Jay-Z - Otis

Now this is more like it. Yesterday the second track from the upcoming album "Watch The Throne", a collaborative effort from Jay-Z & Kanye West was leaked. Simply titled "Otis" and sampling Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness", it's good to see Ye bringing back the soul samples. From "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" sampling the Jackson 5, to "Through the Wire" with a sped up Chaka Khan hook, Kanye makes classics from classic songs. Would Common's "Be" even exist without all the samples on that album? I don't know where they have this album locked up, but with less than 2 weeks until its scheduled release, they are doing a great job of enticing fans and avoiding a leak.

Want even more proof that soul makes the world go 'round? Check out "Kanye's Soul Mix Show", a mixtape by A-Trak. Download it for free right here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Avett Brothers - The Once & Future Carpenter

I'll admit it, I got into The Avett Brothers very late. If you were a fan prior to 2009, I will be very impressed. Despite limited airplay, their album I and Love and You peaked at #16 on the Billboard chart and found its way to a lot of year end "best of" lists, thanks in part to the beautiful title track. The folk/bluegrass group from North Carolina has actually released 7 full length albums since 2000 and has built a strong following from constant touring and word of mouth. Some of those words found there way to producer Rick Rubin and attention followed. He signed them to his American Recordings label and produced their last album and follow up, scheduled for release in late 2011/early 2012.

While recording a show for CMT's Unplugged series, they debuted a new song, "The Once & Future Carpenter". The entire episode is available online, please check it out. The second video below is a favorite of mine, giving you a prime example of their energy, style and most importantly, lyrical content. They will be in town for a SOLD OUT show at the Aragon, September 30th.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The White Stripes - I've Been Loving You Too Long

Yesterday was a good day. The latest installment (#8) in Third Man Records' Vault subscription arrived and one of the highlights was The White Stripes' cover of the Otis Redding classic, I've Been Loving You Too Long. For those of you not familiar with the vault, it is a chance to get some extremely limited items from the entire Third Man Records roster. Previous installments have included live albums from The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs and of course, The White Stripes. Occasionally, you may get a shirt or poster. But, the real gems are the 7" records that these guys dig deep for and painstakingly produce for members only. Installment #7 came with a tri-color reproduction of the out of print single, Party of Special Things to Do. It's gorgeous.

I wish I had joined sooner, as I have already missed out on a "Hello Operator" picture disc and a companion piece to "Under Great White Northern Lights". Buyer beware, this is not a cheap membership. Members will pay $60, four times a year, to receive quarterly installments that are announced with enough notice to allow you to join or cancel your membership. Other perks include a dedicated site with videos and occasional live shows. Plus, special offers on merchandise and presales for upcoming concerts. Information is posted for #9, which seems to be heavy on the timeless, Wanda Jackson.

This most recent installment contained 3 separate White Stripes items: A dvd recorded in 2000 just after the release of De Stijl, a double LP of the White Stripes final show and a 7" from 1997, only 2 months after the band was formed! I immediately gravitated to the 7" because I love Otis Redding and hearing Jack & Meg play this was worth every penny. On the a-side is another cover of "Signed DC", originally recorded by the band Love. The live dvd titled "Under Moorhead Lights All Fargo Night" is a very rough and grainy view of the band before true popularity caught them. Playing at Ralph's Corner Bar with a hoarse throat, the band looks so innocent. The part when Jack introduces Meg as his "little sister" to a crowd of 20 people made me laugh. It was still so new and honest. The double LP simply titled "Live in Mississippi" is an absolute treasure. Recorded July 31st, 2007, it is the last show they ever played and they just crush it. All six of their releases are represented, as well as a couple of Robert Johnson covers and a Son House's "Death Letter". Listening to the show, you just shake your head in disbelief that they will never play again after displaying so much talent.

Friday, June 24, 2011

SBTRKT - Full Stream & "Wildfire" Video

SBTRKT aka Aaron Jerome will release his debut album next week on Young Turks Records. I've been listening to the first single, "Wildfire" featuring the talented Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon for the last 2 months. The video premiered this morning on Pitchfork and you can stream the entire album below thanks to Hype Machine. He'll be in town Labor Day Weekend along with a number of other great artists for the North Coast Music Festival.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs - June 7th at Pritzker Pavilion

Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs came to town on Tuesday, playing their brand of folk music before a sold out crowd at Pritzker Pavilion. Despite temperatures near 95 degrees, the band endured oppressive heat to deliver an evening filled with fan favorites and a couple of covers. The 18-song setlist, comprised mostly of their latest release God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise, gave the audience a chance to see them stretch out some songs and inject energy into others.

As he casually walked onto the stage for a solo performance of “Like Rock & Roll Radio”, the harmonica never sounded so worn or beaten. One of my favorites off the new album, it really displayed the simplicity of his work. The band joined in the fun, particularly on “Repo Man”, one of the few upbeat songs played. One of his earliest hits “Shelter” was accompanied by a great slide guitar, giving it a bit more depth, if not some new life.

As much as I enjoy the new album, I was really hoping for some new music. The middle part of the show was identical to last year’s tour, aside from a cover of the Byrd’s “Blue Canadian Rockies”. Also, there was not a single song from his second album, Til The Sun Turns Black. By the time he got to “Trouble” & “Jolene” later in the evening, the crowd was anxious and appreciative. After a brief break, the show ended with a 2-song encore of “Let It Be Me” and “All the Wild Horses”. They are touring all summer, so please check them out. Also, if you are interested in concert posters, they have 50 autographed posters at each show, so get there early.

1. Rock & Roll Radio
2. Hold You In My Arms
3. For The Summer
4. Beg, Steal or Borrow
5. Repo Man
6. Mama Tried (w/the Secret Sisters) (Merle Haggard Cover)
7. Shelter
8. Devil in the Jukebox
9. Are We Really Through
10. NYC is Killing Me
11. God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise
12. Blue Canadian Rockies (The Byrds Cover)
13. Trouble
14. Old Before Your Time
15. Jolene
16. Henry Nearly Killed Me (It’s a Shame)
17. Let It Be Me
18. All the Wild Horses

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Alphabet Project: E

For whatever reason, I really seem to neglect this project. That being said, I am actually through the letter J. I just find it so hard to pick the actual artists that make it to these posts. On a happier note, one of the bands featured in the letter D, Death From Above 1979 has reunited and it feels so good. Maybe they saw the post and immediately felt compelled to play again, I'd like to think so...

Artists: 25
Albums: 53
Songs: 813

This was actually a very easy letter to complete, filled with one-hit wonders and established artists. On the other hand, it left me with very little to choose from. One band is relatively new and another I've listened to all my life.

The Eagles of Death Metal initially started as a duo and side project for Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme. While Josh played the role of primitive drummer (and that is putting it mildly), Jesse Hughes assumed both guitar and vocal responsibilities. The result is a mix of dirty riffs, cymbal crashing drums and cocky lyrics. At times it can be very one-dimensional, but when that one dimension has the knob cranked to 11, you can't help but feel the energy. Although, they have released 3 albums (Peace, Love, Death Metal; Death By Sexy & Heart On), the band has rarely played together. In fact, the touring band is a 4-piece with Jesse being the only founding member. With Josh's commitment to Queens of the Stone Age (currently touring), and the formation of Them Crooked Vultures, little time has been spent on this project and it's apparent with each new release. There are currently no plans to record a 4th album.

Elvis Costello is the epitome of Pop. I'm constantly amazed by the amount of people that think he stopped making music in the 80's. In fact, I can't think of another artist that has continued to put out albums on a regular basis for so long. 30 albums since his classic debut, My Aim Is True in 1977 with no more than 3 years between releases. That's impressive. Growing up I heard the obvious hits: Alison, Radio Radio, Everyday I Write The Book and caught a few videos. But, I didn't take interest until I heard "Miracle Man" in the Godfather, Part 3. I still remember humming the tune throughout the movie so I could figure out who actually sang the song.

Even if you stopped paying attention to his musical talents; I hope you didn't miss his short-lived show, Spectacle: Elvis Costello with... The talk show invited some amazing guests to talk about the music industry and perform. My favorite episode was with Smokey Robinson, check it out on demand. Elvis is currently on tour and if you look at his site, you will get a brief taste of "The Wheel". Every night he spins a wheel and plays whatever comes up. Not a bad idea for a man that has so many songs to choose from. The video below is a nice jab at his first appearance on SNL. When asked to fill in for the scheduled guests, the Sex Pistols, he was asked to play "Less Than Zero", despite wanting to play "Radio Radio". After a few bars of "Less Than Zero", he stopped and apologized on live television before breaking into "Radio Radio". The rest is history. Thankfully, the Beastie Boys were watching and invited him back for their show.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bon Iver - Calgary

Bon Iver released the single Calgary this afternoon, and I had to pass it on. All indications have been that the new album, titled Bon Iver and available June 21st, will have a bit more energy. I love the new sound. He's using more instruments, definitely plugging in and bringing some of the effects he incorporates into his live sets to a studio album. But, let's be honest, the voice is still magnificent and that break at the end where you get him at his clearest sounds like a long, lost friend. He is playing the Chicago Theatre on July 24th, definitely not to be missed. Get the song for free right now by signing up for his mailing list below.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Freelance Whales Release Benefit EP

Freelance Whales released The Benefit For Japan EP this week, an 8-song digital release featuring remixes and acoustic performances. RCRD LBL is currently giving away Hannah (Ra Ra Riot Remix), a cresting, upbeat track that begs for sunshine. All net proceeds will be donated to aid earthquake relief in Japan, giving you the option to purchase it for as little as $5. Preview the Ra Ra Riot remix below, along with another free track, Hannah (Easy Does It Remix) not included on the release.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sondre Lerche - Domino Video

I almost feel like I should apologize for not posting something sooner about Sondre Lerche. The guy has made phenomenal music for over a decade and is showing no signs of stopping. The Norwegian singer/songwriter is releasing his self-titled album on June 7th and just debuted a video for the single, Domino. The first time I heard Stupid Memory from 2004's Two Way Monologue, I immediately recognized his talent to craft pop songs with beautiful arrangements. If you were to listen to his entire catalog, you would find elements of Bossa Nova, Jazz, Folk and Rock. He gained some popularity in 2007 when he composed the soundtrack for Dan In Real Life, even making a cameo in the final wedding scene. Pick up any album and I guarantee you will not be disappointed. In support of the new album, he will play back to back nights at Schubas and Lincoln Hall in mid-June. SUPPORT LIVE MUSIC.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

Waking up early on a Saturday occasionally pays off. The Beastie Boys debuted their new album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two by playing the album on a boombox at center court of Madison Square Garden. Aside from a cameo from Sasquatch, there wasn't much to report. Thankfully, the music was so great, you didn't need anything else. Stream the entire album right here and pick it up next Tuesday when it is officially released.
Hot Sauce Committee Part Two by Beastie Boys

1. Make Some Noise
2. Nonstop Disco Powerpack
3. OK
4. Too Many Rappers (ft. NAS)
5. Say It
6. The Bill Harper Collection
7. Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win (ft. Santigold)
8. Long Burn The Fire
9. Funky Donkey
10. The Larry Routine
11. Tadlock's Glasses
12. Lee Majors Come Again
13. Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament
14. Here's A Little Something For Ya
15. Crazy Ass Shit
16. The Lisa Lisa/Full Force Routine

Watch live streaming video from beastieboys at

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Coming to a theater near you...

Apparently, musicians have more to say than what is recorded in the studio. Beginning this Friday, three major acts will release documentaries to tell the story of their band. If you listen to some of the reviews, these 3 films are not to be missed.

The Foo Fighters are set to release "Back and Forth" in a limited screening tonight, followed by a 3D concert where they will play their new album, Wasting Light in its entirety. Sadly, the closest showing was in Dekalb, IL; so I'm missing it. However, for readers with the cable channel Palladia, they will premiere it this Friday. The trailer looks like it could really get into some dark material, unusual territory for a good time having band. In fact, drummer Taylor Hawkins recently said he would prefer the film not be released. In a recent interview with NME he said, "I wish we wouldn't put the fucking movie out to be honest because I'm not really comfortable with the public sort of openness... We almost broke up and I almost died and all those crazy things have happened. And that's what people want".

The Kings of Leon released a trailer today for their film, Talihina Sky, which will premiere at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. For those of you not familiar with the Followill's upbringing, their father was a Pentecostal preacher and let's just say; the boys strayed from the pack a little bit. The film includes home movies, concert footage and more than a few shots of their well-known debauchery. Watch the incredibly honest scene where their father stops just short of saying they are going to hell.

Probably the most anticipated film for me is PJ20, the Cameron Crowe directed film commemorating Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary. The band has not issued a trailer or release date, but rumors have it debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival later this year. Guitarist Mike McCready uploaded a 30 second segment on to the band's Youtube channel, and that's about it. Although, bassist Jeff Ament recently mentioned that he was amazed at all the early footage in the film, adding "I don't even remember cameras being around for some scenes". As soon as I get a trailer, it'll be posted. I promise.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Death Cab For Cutie - You Are A Tourist

My very first post was about Death Cab For Cutie's Open Door Ep. In fact, it was 2 years ago today! Damn, I can't believe I've been doing this for 2 years already. If you haven't heard they will be releasing a new album titled Codes and Keys on May 31st. The first single "You Are A Tourist" has been released and you can give it a listen below (via Atlantic Records).

The guys sent out an email today asking fans to visit YOUAREATOURIST.COM on Tuesday, April 5th at 6pm CST for what is being described as the "First Live, Scripted, One-Take Music Video Shoot. Ever". They also are playing a series of small clubs, including a sold out show at The Metro. If you are in Chicago, please follow me on Twitter (@theearlynerd) as I announced the presale code for this show and many others. Last, but not least, they will also release Live At The Mt. Baker Theatre, a dvd filmed in April 2009. You can pre-order the album in a series of bundles, including the dvd and other items now.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bright Eyes - March 15, 2011 at the Riviera

When Conor Oberst announced he was moving pass the moniker Bright Eyes and issued his self-titled debut, I was a bit confused. I mean, Bright Eyes is Conor, quite similar to Trent Reznor and his band Nine Inch Nails. Over the years he definitely had help creating those albums, but what would Bright Eyes be without him? The answer is a duo. As critics and blogs heaped on the praise and crowned him the new Dylan, two key components were overlooked: Nate Walcott & Mike Mogis. Truth be told, if you caught Bright Eyes before I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, you might not even recognize this band.

As each album progressed, more and more instruments and genres were explored. I often attributed that to Conor leaving Omaha, living in New York and traveling the world on his many tours. On stage, you get a very different answer. You get a band that really is great and when together, unstoppable. The constant rumor that this is in fact the final album and tour was swirling around the crowd with fans hoping for a certain song (I was praying for "Going For The Gold"). If this is the last go around, they are having a blast doing it.

The opener Firewall was one of the eight new songs played, but in a set of 24, there was plenty of time for a bit of everything. Walking onto the stage as the opening narrative played, they began a marathon of favorites with minimal crowd interaction, but plenty of energy. The first highlight/surprise was "Take It Easy (Love Nothing)", a track that probably couldn't be fleshed out with his previous shows. Nate Wolcott, sitting behind a stack of synthesizers and horns really showcased his talents as the staggering keys and beeps drove the crowd into a frenzy.

A favorite of mine "Cleanse Song" had Mike Mogis playing a beautiful slide guitar that was as clear as a bell while Conor swayed with the crowd. It brought a smile to my face. Another song that found rebirth was "Falling Out of Love at This Volume", a song written in 1995 and almost as old as the 18+ crowd.

The 3-song sequence of "Beginner's Mind", "Bowl Of Oranges" & "Poison Oak" would have been enough for me to call the night a success as they found their folk side. Lyrically I couldn't ask for more honesty than lines like "stay awhile, my inner child/ I'd like to learn your tricks/know what makes you tick/nurse you when you're sick" or the welcomed sadness of "well, I don't think I ever loved you more/than when you turned away/when you locked the door/when you stole the car/and drove towards Mexico". How can such a sad song be so damn good?

"Lua" was played especially slow with an acoustic guitar and a whimpering horn. "Road to Joy" should have been the closer, with so much built up tension and those fantastic words "let's fuck it up boys/make some noise!". Instead "One for You, One for Me" was the last song played, ending much like the new album, only much, much louder... The band is currently playing shows in the US through June, so please go see them.

1. Firewall
2. Jejune Stars
3. Take It Easy (Love Nothing)
4. Four Winds
5. Cleanse Song
6. We Are Nowhere and It's Now
7. Shell Game
8. Approximate Sunlight
9. Arc of Time (Time Code)
10. Falling Out of Love at This Volume
11. Triple Spiral
12. Hot Knives
13. An Attempt To Tip The Scales
14. Padraic My Prince
15. Beginner's Mind
16. Bowl of Oranges
17. Poison Oak
18. Old Soul Song (For The New World Order)
19. The Calendar Hung Itself...
20. Ladder Song
21. Lua
22. Lover I Don't Have to Love
23. Road to Joy
24. One For You, One For Me