Sunday, December 16, 2012

Top 25 Songs of 2012

Every now and then I find myself envious of blogs that only cover a particular genre. Now would be one of those times. While it may be easy to list the top hip-hop tracks or dance songs, I listen to everything. Originally at 82 songs, revised to 47 and eventually to 25; I hope this post can be seen as evidence of how strong music is right now. It doesn't matter if you are on a major label or sharing your bedroom recordings on Soundcloud, good music will find its way.

#25. The Shins - No Way Down
After another roster shuffle, James Mercer returned to his favorite project and resurrected The Shins with the release of Port of Morrow. In recent interviews he said that most of the changes that occurred were for the betterment of the songs and product. On No Way Down, you definitely can hear it. 

#24. The Hives - If I Had A Cent
God bless The Hives, seriously. What they manage to do in one minute and twenty-seven seconds, Green Day can't accomplish in three full albums. Up next for them, an opening slot on Pink's US tour.

#23. Tanlines - All Of Me
While this Brooklyn duo has been criticized for not having their own sound, All Of Me was simply too good to ignore. So what if it sounds like something from Yeasayer or MGMT. Things could be worse, much worse. 

#22. The Tallest Man on Earth - 1904 [Free Download]
Without a doubt, the most viewed post of the year was The Tallest Man on Earth. His release There's No Leaving Now, was incredible and the cornerstone was 1904

#21. Kendrick Lamar - Swimming Pools (Drank)
On almost every track of Kendrick's good kid, mA.A.d city you'll find the confessions of this country's inner city. Collectively, it makes for an amazing journey. Swimming Pools (Drank) has just enough shine to be a jewel among the rubble.

#20. Fiona Apple - Periphery
And the award for best use of velcro goes to... Fiona Apple! Behind the assembly line piano, you'll find that familiar tear. Is it a wallet? A brace? Shoes? Who cares. Unconventional is what we've come to expect from her and it comes through effortlessly.

#19. RAC - Hollywood (ft. Penguin Prison) [Free Download]
RAC has gained quite a following with his amazing remixes. However, this year he found time to hook up with Penguin Prison for his first original song. No word on whether this single will turn into an album. I sure hope so.

#18. Best Coast - The Only Place [Free Download]
Beth Cosentino's love affair with California continues. The Only Place has all the gleam of a gorgeous day and might be a direct response to Death Cab For Cuties' LA bashing Why You'd Want To Live Here.

#17. Band of Horses - How To Live
As a whole Mirage Rock was a disappointment for me, but How To Live nails it in every aspect. The harmonies, the Allman Brothers riff, the soulful solo; I can't find a single thing wrong with it.

#16. Lana Del Rey ft. Wiz Khalifa - Money is the Anthem [Free Download]
DJ Black Irish mashed up these 2 artists and almost broke the internet. The entire album Born Too Fly finds M.I.A., Lil Wayne and Wale adding verses to the most loved/hated artist of the year.

#15. Miike Snow - The Wave
Hands down the best snare drum of the year. A highlight among many from this year's Happy To You. Although I am still upset about their canceled show at the Congress in September...

#14. Animal Collective - Applesauce
This song sounds like tumbling down a hill on acid. Say no to drugs, kids.

#13. Asher Roth - Turnip The Beet
Asher Roth was just giving away jams this summer. Case in point this ridiculous track that had me rewinding for days to try and keep up with his flow. Also see the Smokey Robinson sampling Good Morning View, built for your next summer cookout.

#12. Kill Paris - I Do Love You [Free Download]
I briefly thought of having this song as part of my remix post, but it's more than that. LA's Corey Baker use of samples is closer to Kanye, than most of the dance scene. Here he takes a classic oldie by GQ and makes it all his own.

#11. Andrew Bird - Near Death Experience, Experience
Only Andrew Bird can make plane crashes and cancer seem so whimsical. Honestly, any song from Break It Yourself could have found its way onto this list. 

#10. John Mayer - Love Is A Verb
I must have listened to Born and Raised, more than any other album this year. Mostly because I wanted to like it so much. Sadly, that never happened. Thankfully, Love Is A Verb should replace Daughters the next time he comes to town.

#9. Childish Gambino - One Up (ft. Steve G. Lover)
Best verse of the year. "Bino lay it down and work it out like a sit-up." Get the full mix tape Royalty, at

#8. Absofacto - Lies
How Absofacto has not been signed to a record deal is beyond me. Although he might not need them. Using Kickstarter, he managed to press his debut album Sinking Islands and is hard at work on new material.

#7. Azealia Banks - Jumanji [Free Download]
Ever since she was the first announced artist for Coachella, it's been her year. While we wait for her debut album, she gave fans a taste with her mix tape, Fantasea.

#6. Blende - Fake Love
When I first heard this song I immediately thought it was a long-lost Justice track, especially with those strings. Those looking for even more energy can pick up Villa's remix for free on Blende's Facebook page.

#5. Desaparecidos - MariKKKopa
One of my all-time favorite bands reconvened and out popped 2 new songs! Conor Oberst's punk outfit sounds as angry as ever, and looking back on their only album, a little prophetic. MariKKKopa is an open indictment of Sheriff Joe, complete with an utterly brazen sound byte.

#4. Purity Ring - Fineshrines
Something happens when I hear Megan James sing. I hope it happens to you too. Spoiler Alert: their debut Shrines will find its way to my best albums post.

#3. Jack White - Sixteen Saltines
Why do I get the feeling that Jack White has a few hundred songs just like this locked away? The man with limitless talent did it again with Blunderbuss

#2. Kanye West - Clique (ft. Big Sean & Jay-Z)
Producer Hit-Boy followed up his hit N*ggas In Paris with another monster. Clique was so good, it even made Big Sean sound like a superstar as he traded verses with two of the biggest, Kanye and Jay-Z.

#1. Frank Ocean - Pyramids [Free Download]
Who saw John Mayer making it onto this list twice? While Mr. Mayer's contribution to Pyramids might be minimal at best, it's just another example of Frank Ocean's talent. Clocking in at a shade under 10 minutes, it never loses focus and still finds time to stretch out, especially the second half.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Top 5 Remixes of 2012

Let the year-end madness begin! While I'm happy to say that 2012 was a big year for the blog, no one is having a bigger/better year than the Electronic genre. The lazy title of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) seemed to be everywhere, including for the first time, on a Grammy ballot. There's some serious talent on this list. Here we go...

#5. Bingo Players - Rattle (Luminox Remix)
If this is your first introduction to Trap Style, you are missing out. A hybrid that keeps the bass heavy, the beat punishing and the tone dirty; it was unavoidable. Key players like Flosstradamus and Baauer are killing it right now, but Luminox's remix for Rattle is the best I heard all year. Originally from Chicago, now in Phoenix, this guy is putting out quality stuff.

#4. Passion Pit - Constant Conversation (St. Lucia Remix) [FREE DOWNLOAD]
Passion Pit released their second album this year and immediately I was hooked on Constant Conversations. The R&B vibe gets kicked up a few notches, courtesy of New York's St. Lucia. Part hazy dream, part slow jam, if this is number 4, what's next?

#3. Justice - On'n'On (Brodinski Remix)
Improving on a Justice track is no easy task, unless you're Brodinski. His work with the vocals alone merit a spot on this list. Chopped, Screwed, Looped; he did it all and dance floors ate it up. Sadly, this track is still a Beatport exclusive, so don't go searching iTunes.

#2. Classixx - Stranger Love (RAC Remix)
What would a year-end list be without RAC? They are at it again with this mesmerizing remix that ends way too soon. This remix of Stranger Love can be found on Chapter One, a compilation of RAC's best work featuring: Phoenix, Chromeo, Temper Trap and more.

#1. Hot Chip - How Do You Do (Todd Terje Remix)
When A-Trak calls you a "fucking genius", you've done your job. Somehow Todd Terje found just the right amount of simplicity and flare with those cascading notes to make a classic. It doesn't get any better than this.

Up Next: The Top 25 Songs of 2012.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ray LaMontagne - Chicago Theatre, November 30, 2012

Ray LaMontagne returned to Chicago Friday night for the first of two sold out shows at the Chicago Theatre. Although this recent tour is being sold as a "solo" tour, "acoustic" would be a better word, as Ray was accompanied by Zachariah Hickman on upright bass for the entire show. Either way, the 20-song set was a real treat for fans, as his entire catalog was represented and a few surprises too.

The stage set the tone for the night. An incredibly simple design of a small office or barn, with a wooden end table and antique phonograph for a little warmth. Behind them two exposed spot lights would change from time to time, reminiscent of a high school play.

Those who have listened to Ray since his exceptional debut in 2004, should already know that he doesn't need much else other than his gravelly voice and a guitar. Opening with New York City's Killing Me, the song transformed into a slow, bleak confessional. Where the original had the help of slide guitar and shuffling drums from his usual backing band, The Pariah Dogs, this one was isolated and aching.

Sarah was another highlight, focusing on reflective lyrics, lines like "There ain't a thing I can say that will ever repair/And you, who had so much advice and yet couldn't share" found a true spotlight.

As Ray has grown in popularity, so has his ability to share stories with his audience. While mentioning his visit with Mayor Emanuel, he also shared his concern about the recent election; "It's very troubling to think that someone would think people expect a hand out, when all they really need is some help up."

Some songs received a slight makeover, most notably Jolene. The guitar was forceful and direct, so much that I mistook it for an earlier, unreleased song. Even the verses seemed shorter, almost spoken. That could have been in part to Ray recent poor health. The 2 shows prior to Friday night in Atlanta and Nashville were postponed due to strep throat.

Never was it more evident than during Trouble, where the soaring refrain, particularly the word "saved" never found its height. After that the duo became a trio, as Irish Singer/Songwriter, Lisa Hannigan joined the group for the next 8 songs. Her stunning duet with Ray on A Falling Through, was made for the acoustics of the Chicago Theatre.

One Lonesome Saddle was a real surprise. Ray introduced it as an outtake from the Trouble LP, but it truly is much more than that. The song is actually the title track to a demo album he made before being signed to a label. It may not be the first song he ever wrote, but it was a clear example of his talent from day one.

You Are The Best Thing transformed into a emphatic statement, another song that found new life with less flash than the original, but devotion to spare. Following that with Like Rock & Roll and Radio, almost became too much to bear as his song of days past and the confusion of a lost relationship rang true for a speechless audience.

The tour continues on to Ohio and back to Tennessee for the rescheduled dates. Please check him out if you have the chance. The poster above was designed by Methane Studios. Arrive early for a chance to buy a few signed by Ray, or head over to Methane's site for a print, limited to 530, signed and number by the original artist.

1. New York City's Killing Me
2. For The Summer
3. Empty
4. Beg, Steal, Borrow
5. Sarah
6. Jolene
7. Old Before Your Time
8. Trouble
9. A Falling Through *
10. I Still Care For You *
11. Gone Away From Me *
12. Be Here Now *
13. One Lonesome Saddle *
14. Winter Birds *
15. Meg White *
16. Gossip In The Grain *
17. Repo Man
18. O Sleep * (Lisa Hannigan Cover)
19. You Are The Best Thing
20. Like Rock & Roll and Radio

* with Lisa Hannigan

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shout Out Louds - Blue Ice

When last we heard of Shout Out Louds, the Swedish lads were locked into the 6th spot on our "Top 10 Songs of 2010" post, with the infectious, 1999. Today we get to see what they've been working on since then. Blue Ice is the first track from their forthcoming album, due early next year. The song finds them slowing down a bit with a measured tone and gentle strings.

While the song doesn't exactly evoke frigid temperatures, the title and their "Ice Record Project", certainly does. An extremely limited run of 10 box sets will let fans create a 7" of out ice. I'm not exactly sure what that does to your needle and turntable. But, those interested can enter to win one by sending your name and address to the bands email account, Good Luck!

Head over to their site for a free download of Blue Ice, and watch the video below for more info about the "Ice Record Project".

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ra Ra Riot - Beta Love

Ra Ra Riot will release their third album, Beta Love, on January 22nd, via Barsuk Records. Today, we got our first taste with the title track, Beta Love. While the soaring vocals of Wes Miles remain, the energy has been kicked up a few notches with synths front and center.

The change could be attributed to the departure of cellist, Alexandra Lawn. Violinist, Rebecca Zeller, remains with the group and manages to find a few spots to accent the optimistic, buoyant track.

As a fan of their previous work, one that earned the genre baroque/chamber pop, I feel this is a natural progression. Whether it be their faithful cover of Steve Winwood's Valerie, or Wes' side project, Discovery, these guys always had the energy and talent to make a song like this. Let's hope there is much more to come.

Tickets for their show at the Metro are still available. Free download, enjoy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Eddie Vedder - Sleeping By Myself [Video]

Eddie Vedder released a new video last week for Sleeping By Myself, to coincide with the start of his solo tour. While his album, Ukulele Songs, was released well over a year ago. The tour and publicity was delayed as he received treatment for temporary nerve damage in his arm.

Recovered and ready to go, the 14-city tour will mainly focus on the South, wrapping up in Florida. As usual, Eddie has asked some amazing artist to contribute posters, with Munk One setting the bar pretty high on opening night. The glow-in-the-dark print is available now for $45, signed and numbered, limited to 200.

In related news, Pearl Jam has announced a new series of official bootlegs. The "Instant Classic" series will feature shows deemed classic by the band, with the hopes of getting them out to fans as soon as possible. The first show to receive this honor is their recent show in Missoula, Montana; a benefit for Senator John Tester. For a limited time starting today, fans can download the complete show for $4.99. The offer expires November 13th.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Black Keys & RZA - The Baddest Man Alive [Video]

The Black Keys and RZA have joined forces again, this time on the lead single for The Man With The Iron Fists soundtrack. A project that has RZA leading the charge in every possible direction. The film, produced by Quentin Tarantino, was directed, co-written and stars RZA in this homage to kung-fu classics.

The video itself pits all three against each other, fighting for a single fortune cookie. Don't you hate when that happens?

If you like what you hear, you can stream the entire album below. Vinyl junkies may want to skip the standard double LP, for the Deluxe Ultra Pack, limited to 300 copies and pressed on red vinyl.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ben Harper - Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley Cover)

 While I realize that Hallelujah, was originally recorded by Leonard Cohen, for me this is a Jeff Buckley song. The beauty of his album, Grace, is something very few artists achieve, and to hear Ben Harper say it only solidifies what the world already knew.

The following song was recorded at The Cadillac Palace, in Chicago, on September 27, 2012. Ben played a monster 27-song set, well past curfew and I was fortunate to be there. The poster was designed by Alex Lodermeier, more info can be found at 1974Design.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

RAC - Hollywood (Cassian Remix)

RAC, or Remix Artist Collective, has managed to put out only one song, but damn if they aren't getting some milage out of it. Hollywood, released earlier this year via Green Label Sound, was originally a stand alone single featuring Penguin Prison. However, some big names have stepped up to remix the track, and they just keep coming.

The latest batch includes a pulsating mix from Cassian, that loses the bass line in favor of 80's synths. Give it a listen and head over to Green Label Sound where you can get all the remixes and original for free.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Benjamin Gibbard: Former Lives [Full Album Stream]

Benjamin Gibbard will release his first solo album, Former Lives, next Tuesday. But, you can listen to the entire album right now. Most of you will know Gibbard as the lead singer of Death Cab For Cutie and the album is what you expect; a collection of soft, folk-pop that chooses familiarity over risk.

He does manage to stretch his legs on a few tracks, notably, Something's Rattling (Cowpoke), which features a mariachi band and western feel. Duncan, Where Have You Gone is more Ben Folds, with a heavy piano and soaring refrain. Broken Yolk in Western Sky, brings it all home with a cruising, steel guitar and fading lyrics.

Ben has said that the songs came together over the course of 8 years, most of them not fitting in with the central themes of Death Cab albums. A supporting solo tour comes through town on November 2nd, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Tickets are still available.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bon Iver, Bon Iver: Stems Project

In August, Bon Iver invited fans (and friends) to remix their latest album, Bon Iver, Bon Iver, with Justin Vernon hand-picking the winners. Today, we get to hear the tracks, dubbed the "Stems Project".

Most of the remixes simply don't do enough, chopping up vocals and adding subtle accents that only lead back to the original version, which was much better in the first place.  

Minnesota, WI (Daydreamer Remix) is standout, rushing the vocals and giving it some force, making it more likely to be played at your next party, than Starbucks. Towers (Stop The Car Remix), abandons the entire foundation in favor of mellow bass line and fragmented vocals, similar to early Passion Pit. Wash (Dan Huiting & Adam Rucinski) is the most charming, reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem's Someone Great before switching gears into Atoms For Peace territory.

You can listen to the 10 winners, plus 6 additional bonus tracks, below, courtesy of Spotify.

Friday, September 28, 2012

St. Lucia - September (Alex Metric Remix)

Jean-Philip Grobler, aka St. Lucia, released the September EP this week and it has been on repeat, especially the Alex Metric remix. The New York resident, originally from Johannesburg, continues to build on the buzz created by his debut EP, with more hypnotic, electro-pop.

The latest track, September, has all the right elements: soaring vocals, hand claps, horns and new wave synth. If The Presets and Penguin Prison had a baby, it'd be this.

The talented Alex Metric, turns the song on its side, bringing the vocals to the front and adding a bit of dirt and grime to the beat. Reminiscent of MSTRKRFT, minus the distortion, this is a must have.

Want more? Head over to St. Lucia's Facebook page and get the "Punks Jump Up" remix. Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Andrew Bird - Three White Horses

Andrew Bird will release his second album of 2012, on October 30th. The album titled, Hands of Glory, is said to be a companion piece to this year's stellar, Break It Yourself.

During a show at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium in April, Andrew explained that one of his pedals had broken earlier in the day and because of that, they would have to play a few songs differently. Whether that was simply stage banter, or the actual genesis of the project. Hands of Glory, has attempted to recreate that sound, recording all members with one mic and acoustic instruments.

You can listen to the opening track, Three White Horses, below and even watch my recording of Orpheo Looks Back from the mentioned Ryman show. Limited edition pre-order bundles are available now, including an "orange splattered" 180 gram vinyl option. A hand-numbered, signed lithograph is also part of the package.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Band of Horses - Mirage Rock [Full Album Stream]

Band of Horses will release their fourth album, Mirage Rock, next Tuesday. But, you can listen to the entire album right now. That's the good news. The bad news is the album as a whole, is a big disappointment.

The band worked with legendary producer, Glyn Johns, and while the intention might have been to bring in some classic rock elements, the result is misguided and mediocre at best. Glyn Johns has worked with some of the best artists (The Who, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin), and it feels like the band thought his reputation was enough. They might have even heard Ryan Adam's brilliant Ashes & Fire, which Johns produced last year, and  thought he could do it one more time.

But, a producer is only as good as the material he has on front of him, and a handful of songs come off as first-draft demos. It's not all bad, just not quite as cohesive as you would expect from a band known for a certain sound and a producer who has captured some of the greats at their best.

I love the strut at the beginning and end of How To Live, it has an Allman Brothers flare, and more than likely the best example of John's production skills. Ben Bridwell's voice has always had a bit of strain and wear. Couple that with the pragmatic lyrics and you have a real, emotional connection.

A Little Biblical, is another highlight. Direct and to the point, with the best refrain of the entire album, you'll find yourself humming the melody and tapping your feet. Shut-In Tourist, might be the only song they test the waters and stretch out. They don't wander off too much, but it's a hint of what they are capable of.

Dumpster World, starts off a dreadful second half. To the casual fan, the rest of the album seems pretty generic. Even worse, I doubt actual fans can find a song they'd want to hear in concert. I predict a lot of bathroom breaks if the guys load upcoming shows with the new material.

The most baffling song is closer, Heartbreak 101. I still don't know if I even like it, or it's just a welcomed break from a five-song string of bad. With spoken word lyrics closer to Bruce Springsteen meets Tom Waits, and strings, I'll take what I can get.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hot Chip - Look At Where We Are (Major Lazer Remix)

Looking for more Hot Chip? I got'cha. Actually, Diplo and Major Lazer got you. For 24 hours (22 since this post), Diplo is giving away their remix via Soundcloud.

It's been out for over a month, and a favorite this summer. Stop reading, and download. The clock is ticking...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hot Chip - How Do You Do (Todd Terje Remix)

Hot Chip's latest single, How Do You Do, is getting the remix treatment, with none better than the Todd Terje remix. Todd manages to stretch the song to 9 minutes, building it slowly, while keeping the beat strong. After listening to this, you might find the original too abrupt and constricted. I know I did.

No word on a digital release, only way to grab this is on a 2x12" next Tuesday, the 11th. Along with Terje's remix, you find James Zabiela, Ossie, Mickey Moonlight and Joe Goddard switching things up.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Villagers - The Waves

Conor O'Brien, aka Villagers, debuted a video this morning for a new song, The Waves. The single is scheduled for release on October 22, as limited edition 7" on Domino Records. A digital copy is available now on iTunes.

Fans of his 2010 debut, Becoming a Jackal, will find few similarities. The Irish singer/songwriter ended up on a lot of "best of" list for his bleak indie folk.

This time around, we find him experimenting with electronic elements, adding some accents with steel drums and horns. For some reason I am getting a strong hint of Peter Gabriel, and that can't be bad.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How To Dress Well - Again (Janet Jackson Cover)

How To Dress Well is set to release its second album, Total Loss, on September 18th. Following the success of his debut album, Love Remains, you can expect more deconstructed R&B to soundtrack your late nights/early mornings.

Based on the first two singles (Cold Nites & Ocean Floor For Everything), I'm happy to hear clearer vocals and smoother production. Most of Love Remains was built around lo-fi vocals, vinyl pops and fuzzy synths.

If you ever questioned his sincerity, today we got a gushing, heartfelt cover of Janet Jackson's Again. A song that was already frail and damaged, ends up wounded and alone, if that's even possible. Take a listen and download it for free.

Vinyl geeks take notice; the album is being sold right now on a Pink/White marbled run of 350, that includes a bonus 7". If you miss out on that, you can order a Pink vinyl copy, limited to 1000. Both available at the Acephale webstore.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Polica - Amongster (Exitmusic Remix)

Polica's debut album, Give You The Ghost, is getting re-released today, via the fine folks at Mom+Pop. Hopefully, you caught them at Lollapalooza and can't wait to spend your cash on this killer album.

Considering the album is less than a year old, they have bundled it with a remix ep to give fans some new music. Dark Star Remix EP, features remixes from Gardens & Villa, Hype Jones, Alluxe, Marco Hawk and Exitmusic.

The Exitmusic remix keeps the tone in tact, stretching out the song with a shimmering intro and distant vocals. Give it a listen below. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Lollapalooza Week - Justice

With the gates set to open in 5 minutes, Lollapalooza is here! Our final band of Lollapalooza week is French duo, Justice. I'm constantly amazed by their talent, as well as, their ability to control their career.

Taking a cue from Daft Punk, Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay, do very little on other people's watch. After releasing their debut Cross, in 2007, packed with the monster single, D.A.N.C.E. the guys played practically everywhere. Over the course of two years, they became on of the hottest bands in electronic music.

Five years later, we have a second album, Audio, Video, Disco, that had them incorporating live instruments and less club heavy tracks. The result has been explained that if Cross was a night out, then Audio, Video, Disco is a summer day. These guys don't make singles, they make incredibly cohesive albums that are sure to drive the crowd into a frenzy.

I know EVERYONE is telling you to go see Jack White, but he'll be back in town before you know it. Justice played a dozen shows in the US this year and is wrapping up their tour, so catch them while you can. Justice hits the stage Sunday night at 8:30, on the Bud Light Stage.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lollapalooza Week - Passion Pit

From the outside, Passion Pit are having a really good time. A top 10 debut for their latest album, Gossamer, a sold out tour and a trio of can't-miss singles: Take a Walk, I'll Be Alright, Constant Conversations.

But if you happened to read Pitchfork's cover story on lead singer, Michael Angelakos, you'd know how important their set at Lollapalooza really is. After a string of cancellations so Angelakos could "improve his mental health", they are going to attempt to straighten the ship on the biggest stage. 

While you might have these songs playing at your next party, just take a look at the titles: Love is Greed, Cry Like a Ghost, Two Veils to Hide My Face. Personally, I think they should have canceled the entire tour, but the industry doesn't work that way. I really do feel sorry for the guy. He makes a great record and he can't even enjoy it.

So go check them out, sing along so loud he forgets for a couple hours about the stress and chaos. You have THREE chances to see them. They are playing a sold out show on Thursday at the House of Blues. Followed by a DJ set at the Filter party in Logan Square. Their Lolla slot is Friday, 6pm at the Bud Light Stage.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lollapalooza Week - Polica

When Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver) says, "They're the best band I've ever heard." People tend to take notice. Polica, a duo out of Minneapolis, only has one album under their belt. But, damn if it isn't a stellar album. Give You The Ghost, released in February, is a true R&B album, wrapped up in electronic textures and auto-tuned vocals.

Frontwoman, Channy Leanagh, has all the right tools, weaving in and out and over the music, supplied by Ryan Olson (of equally awesome GAYNGS). Although the album can seem one-dimensional, and out of place at a festival. Their early slot is just the right thing to ease into your day.

Polica play the Sony stage on Sunday, at 1:30.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lollapalooza Week - Black Sabbath

Rarely do you get to see true pioneers in music. To be frank, Black Sabbath invented Heavy Metal. While credit can be spread out to a few more bands of the time, specifically, Led Zeppelin. No band has ever packaged the drudge and doom of metal quite like Black Sabbath.

From the horror filled lyrics to the tuned down guitar, the boys from Birmingham, England, quickly became the band of the 70s with a string of 6 ground-breaking albums. But don't take my word for it, Rod Halford of Judas Priest has called Black Sabbath, off their debut album, "the most evil song ever written."

While they can't match the hits of Zeppelin, or the Stones, or even the Who; their influence is unparalleled. You really can't go wrong with any of their albums BEFORE the departure of Ozzy in 1979. But, my favorite is Master of Reality.

Sadly, it's not the "reunion" that was originally billed, with Bill Ward not participating due to a contract dispute. However, it might be your last chance to see these guys, with all of them well into their 60s.

Black Sabbath plays the Bud Light stage on Friday, at 8pm.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Lollapalooza Week - Frank Ocean

Lollapalooza is back, and so is the 2012 edition of "Lollapalooza Week". Check back each day this week, for an artist not to be missed.

While I'm not ready to crown Frank Ocean's debut album Channel ORANGE, the year's best. I'm certainly not dumb enough to deny his talent. A member of hip hop collective Odd Future, he began his career writing hits for John Legend and Brandy. Last year he collaborated with Jay-Z and Kanye on Watch The Throne, released a critically acclaimed mixtape, Nostalgia ULTRA, and the hits just kept on coming.

If you've listened to Channel ORANGE, its an incredible debut. I'm just not comfortable with the amount of snippets and half songs, that make it more of a collage than a finished product. A few songs end so abruptly, I thought there was something wrong with my copy.

However, when he does stretch out and finish his thoughts, the results are brilliant. Pyramids, coming in at just under 10 minutes is the perfect amount of funk, hip hop, R&B, and electro. Thinking Bout You, I'm sure has at least a few artists wishing he was still selling his songs. Other highlights include Pilot Jones and Forrest Gump, giving him more than enough material to merit catching his whole set.

Catch him at the Google Play stage, Saturday, at 8:45.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tom Petty - The Waiting (ft. Eddie Vedder)

Let's get two things clear: I love Eddie Vedder, and I love The Waiting by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Last month, the gods smiled upon us, giving Pearl Jam a day off during their UK tour, while conveniently placing Tom Petty in the same town.

In the past, Pearl Jam, specifically Eddie, has cover Tom's classic, I Won't Back Down. You can find some great early versions, around the time of the Ticketmaster trial, "Sponsored By No One" tour. But, with the future so bright for both bands, Eddie decided to jump on stage for one of my favorite songs.

This video was shot on June 24th, at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Andrew Bird - Give It Away [Video]

To quote Andrew Bird, "Piñata's are fun." Case in point, his new video for Give It Away, the second single from this year's Break It Yourself. Mildly disturbing, but ending on a redeeming note, see what happens when a living, breathing piñata attends a child's birthday party.

The video was directed by Jessica Paliza, and stars Moe Farrah, as the unfortunate Piñata.

Lastly, I'm giving away 3 copies of his new EP, Northwest Passage. Simply leave a comment below, or follow me on twitter (@theearlynerd), sending me a tweet using the hashtag #NWPassage. Good Luck! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The xx - Angels

The xx released their new single, Angels, yesterday, the first from the upcoming Coexist. The track, a dreamy mix of adoration and devotion, is reminiscent of Polica or Beach House.

Angels, is available now, and Coexist, has a release date of September 11, via Young Turks Records. See the full tracklist after the video. They have also announced a Fall tour, with a stop at the Congress Theater, October 20. Tickets on sale this weekend.

1. Angels
2. Chained
3. Fiction
4. Try
5. Reunion
7. Missing
8. Tides
9. Unfold
10. Swept Away
11. Our Song

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Band of Horses - Knock Knock

Band of Horses, announced the release of Mirage Rock, their fourth studio album on Tuesday. Produced by the legendary, Glyn Johns and scheduled for release on September 18th, You can hear the first single, Knock Knock, below.

Those who pre-order the album through iTunes, will receive the new single immediately, plus a bonus track, Ego Nightmare. No details yet on a vinyl, or deluxe package. See the full tracklist after the video.

The band will head overseas in November, after they complete their supporting slot on the current My Morning Jacket tour, which includes a stop at Pritzker Pavilion, August 22. Lawn seats are still available.

1. Knock Knock
2. How To Live
3. Slow Cruel Hands of Time
4. A Little Biblical
5. Shut-In Tourist
6. Dumpster World
7. Electric Music
8. Everything's Gonna Be Undone
9. Feud
10. Long Vows
11. Heartbreak on 101

Friday, July 6, 2012

Introducing: L'Etranger

To be perfectly honest, Ben "L'Etranger" should be on your radar, but more than likely isn't. The UK producer has all the talent in the world, remixing or creating tracks with so much French House flare, it should come with a disco ball. The latest is a reworking of Alan Braxe & Fred Falke's Most Wanted, released this morning.

I've been a fan of his since I heard his remix of Napoleon III's The Unknown Unknown, last year. Slowly, but surely, some original tracks have been coming out (Touch, Falling For You, Darlin') and 2 great mixtapes. His rework of Kool & The Gang's Get Down On It for The Ignition Switch's mixtape series is flawless.

Check out a few of my favorites, all available for DL, except Falling For You. Plus both his mixtapes. "Like" him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or Soundcloud. Anything to get this guy on US soil for a few shows.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Azealia Banks - Nathan (ft. Styles P)

Harlem MC, Azealia Banks released Nathan, over the weekend. The third song from her upcoming mixtape, Fantasea.

I know there is a lazy formula in music right now, with so many artists using electro beats, but she is working with some talented producers and the results are incredible. London producer, Drums of Death, is helping out this time with huge bass and short circuit synths.

Listen/download all 3 tracks (Nathan, Aquababe & Jumanji) and grab the full mixtape on July 11.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Presets - Youth In Trouble

The Presets have released a video for their first single, Youth In Trouble. Directed by New York visual artist, Yoshi Sodeoka, it's a hyper-color, pixelated mash of graphics and scrambled footage. Perfect for big screens in dark rooms.

Pacifica, is scheduled for release on September, 14, on Modular Recordings. You can preorder it now on iTunes, or go for the Limited Edition Deluxe Package which is limited to 1500 and includes: Vinyl, CD and MP3, a hard cover book and signed lithograph.

A Chicago show has already been announced. They are playing the Metro on Thursday, October 25. Tickets on sale this Saturday at noon.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Big Boi - Gossip (ft. UGK & Big K.R.I.T)

With Andre 3000 in Dublin, filming the new Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side, the world will have to wait a bit longer for a true Outkast album. Thankfully, Big Boi realized that we still need some of that ATL flavor and released Gossip, the first single off his new album, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors.

Despite the album having a release date of November 13, it makes sense to give fans one, or maybe even two songs to blast all summer. A classic beat, with a little help from UGK and Big K.R.I.T. is more than enough to whet your appetite.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Usher - Climax (Paper Diamond Remix)

The latest remix of Usher's Climax dropped this morning, courtesy of Paper Diamond, and it is hot. While it seems like there has been an endless stream of remixes, this one takes a few chances, particularly with the vocals. He managed to take one of the smoothest voices in the industry and tweak it with stutters and so much distortion when the refrain kicks in, it just sails.

If you like what you hear, you can grab Paper Diamond's Wavesight EP, out now on Mad Decent. Chicago people you have two chances to catch him, he's playing a Lollapalooza after party at the Bottom Lounge and Perry's Tent. Download the track now for free, just in time for those 4th of July parties.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Bloody Beetroots - Rocksteady

The Bloody Beetroots released a new single this morning, the aptly-titled Rocksteady. It's been almost three years since their debut, Romborama, but the energy and aggression is still there.

That's not to say Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo hasn't been busy. Last year they released Church of Noise, featuring vocals from Dennis Lxyzen, even bringing him out during their killer set at Lollapalooza. They also released a collection of remixes, my favorite being their remix of Escape, by The Toxic Avenger.

Will Rocksteady, be the first single off a new album? No word on that just yet. But with a string of live dates over the summer a few things have been promised:

"Don't expect the same old show though, the masks are different, the sounds are changing and they have a brand new hi-octane club banger ready to annihilate the dance floor."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Tallest Man On Earth - There's No Leaving Now [Full Stream]

Swedish songwriter, Kristian Matsson aka The Tallest Man On Earth, released his latest gem on Tuesday, There's No Leaving Now and the result is his best album yet.

Since his debut in 2006, Matsson has steadily gained fans with his brand of folk music. Given his vocal style and bare arrangements, he has been compared to Bob Dylan on more than a few occasions. Although it has its merit, I find more similarities with Van Morrison, particularly on the first half of this album.

From the soft keys on To Just Grow Away, to the freight train shuffle and weaving guitars of Revelation Blues, there is a warmth and texture reminiscent of Van Morrison's Moondance. Matsson's ability to craft simple, concise songs often lead to an instant connection and comfort very few artists can achieve.

One of the things I like best about the album, is that it never sound rushed or cluttered. Every instrument has enough space to contribute, but not enough to wander off. The first single, 1904, is a perfect example with scattered single notes that brighten the song like a star-filled night. A lesser artist would have drenched the song with them, instead we are left hoping for more.

The title track, There's No Leaving Now, a gorgeous piano ballad, is filled with so much despair, it's hard not to think of your toughest days. You can practically hear the struggle as he counters subdued piano against stretched, weary vocals.

The entire album is available to stream right now, with a free download of 1904, courtesy of Dead Oceans. As an added bonus, I've added his cover of Paul Simon's Graceland, released earlier this year on his Record Store Day release, King of Spain.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Passion Pit - I'll Be Alright

Passion Pit released another new song over the weekend, the frenetic track, I'll Be Alright. It's the second single from their new album, Gossamer, available July 24.

Built on stuttering drums, 80's synths and soaring vocals, it pretty much expands their sound, almost to the breaking point. The bridge at 3 minutes is just killing me, I can't wait to hear this live.

If you have a conflict with the just released Lollapalooza schedule - they are up against The Shins - today is your lucky day. Passion Pit have been announced as one of the official after shows, playing the House of Blues, Thursday, August 2. Tickets will go on sale this Friday, at 10am.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Willie Nelson - Just Breathe (Pearl Jam Cover)

Willie Nelson released a video for Just Breathe this morning, the first single off his new album, Heroes. The song was originally recorded by Pearl Jam, a standout track from 2009's Backspacer. The feel of the song remains in tact with minor changes, mostly to accommodate Willie's style - harmonica instead of organ, lap steel guitar substituted for strings.

My only problem with the cover is Willie's son, Lukas and his delivery. Instead of sounding like a younger version of his father, it comes across as a chipmunk, helium-filled imitation of his dad's signature style. Check out the video below, followed by the original from Austin City Limits.

Watch Pearl Jam "Just Breathe" on PBS. See more from Austin City Limits.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

RAC - Hollywood (ft. Penguin Prison)

If you've been following the blog (or ANY music blog for that matter), you should be familiar with RAC aka Remix Artist Collective. As their name suggests, for the better part of 5 years they have been releasing remixes for artist such as: U2, Phoenix, Tokyo Police Club & Ra Ra Riot.

However, last month saw the release of Hollywood, the first track to bear their name as a group, and it's pretty awesome. The same qualities you would find in their best remixes have come together to make a perfect song for the summer. A mixture of shimmering synths, breezy guitars and bouncing bass with a little help from Chris Glover of Penguin Prison, on vocals.

If indie pop isn't your thing and you're looking for something with a bit more energy, you're in luck. Last week, a remix by The Magician was released with a stronger beat and hand claps to spare. Both are available for download, courtesy of Green Label Sound.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Hives - Lex Hives [Full Album Stream]

The Hives will release their fifth album next week, Lex Hives, and you can stream the entire album, courtesy of The New Yorker.

The Swedish rockers manage to squeeze 12 songs into 30 minutes, sticking to their formula of quick, hook-heavy, garage rock/punk. Similar to their other albums, they pack enough energy into a handful of songs and before the freshness wears off, they're already gone.

True to form, there is the lead single, Go Right Ahead, with the same brashness and stomp of their hits (Hate to Say I Told You So, Walk Idiot Walk, Tick Tick Boom). Other highlights include Wait A Minute, reminiscent of Devo, and If I Had A Cent, a minute and a half that would make the Ramones proud.

A deluxe edition is available on iTunes, with two bonus tracks. Insane is streaming right now on Rolling Stone and High School Shuffle is up on RCRDLBL.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Adam "MCA" Yauch 1964-2012

I still remember the day my cousin brought home the Beastie Boys' License To Ill, she immediately took me to the bathroom to look at the album in the mirror. Looking at the cover, I realized the meaningless characters "3MTA3", flipped to spell "EatMe" and we both giggled hoping no one would find out. They had me hooked and I hadn't even heard a note.

As she played the album in my room, I could hardly contain myself. Every song blasted through the speakers, every beat made me want to dance, and every line made me wish I was as cool as them. For the next 4 hours I played Paul Revere, trying to mimic their voices and memorize each line. I was 8.

Over the last 20+ years, I've been a fan of the Beastie Boys, admiring their skills, researching every name dropped in a verse and appreciating their efforts to make this world a better place. One of my first posts here was 3 years ago when Adam "MCA" Yauch announced he had cancer. Sadly, he lost that battle this morning, he was 47 years old.

Adam's raspy voice and signature style are part of hip-hop history, that's a fact. His distorted bass riff on Sabotage is embedded in my generation's DNA. More importantly, his efforts to raise awareness about Tibet and his subsequent benefit concerts ushered in a new level of social consciousness. It may seem like an accepted idea now, but he was fighting back in 1994.

The most amazing thing about him was his ability to try and teach you something without ever being a preacher. Listen to Sure Shot, between its ridiculous flute sample and some of their best lines, he adds "I want say a little something that's long overdue/The disrespect to women has got to be through/To all the mothers and the sister and the wives and friends/I want to offer my love and respect 'til the end." Try finding that on a #1 album today.

No disrespect to Mike D. or AdRock, but on some of their best songs you'll find MCA leading the charge, either by opening the song or handling the hook. I've often wondered if they heard him on Stand Together and just gave up, like 'No way, we're touching that.' They can be heard coming in with 15 seconds left on the song!

For all the songs he started, nothing can compare to the way he ended Professor Booty, my all-time favorite track. It should be taught as Diss Track 101. Changing flows and working one of the dopest transitions ever, it breaks my heart to know I'll never hear him again.

Too many times people get immortalized simply because they were a celebrity; offering no actual worth or change to those around them. Adam "MCA" Yauch was a pioneer, a philanthropist and an incredibly talented individual. He was above hip-hop, above punk, above alternative, above indie. He was a person I've looked up to for so long and I don't plan on stopping any time soon.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Eddie Vedder - Skipping

Starting today, you can pick up Every Mother Counts 2012, a star-filled benefit album with a brand new song from Eddie Vedder. Skipping is one of the 19 tracks, 13 of which are previously unreleased, and features a little help from Eddie's daughter, Olivia.

Other artists contributing to the project include: Dave Matthews Band, Paul Simon, Faith Hill, Beck and Coldplay. Sold exclusively at Starbuck's, $8 from each cd will be given to the organization, in support of maternal health care worldwide. You're probably there every morning, so please support a great cause, with great music.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Introducing: Oberhofer

Brad Oberhofer has been releasing his brand of lo-fi indie pop since 2010. Originally from Tacoma, Washington, he has a knack for finding the line between chaos and melody.

On his latest release, Time Capsules II, you'll find a collection of yelps and howls that are as much about energy, as they are innocence. Songs like Away Frm U and Haus, are as direct as can be, musically and lyrically.

In fact, the entire album never strays too far away from the formula of crashing cymbals and chugging guitars. The surprise is that it never gets old, with some help from xylophones, strings and unexpected breaks that swell at just the right moment. Listen to the entire album below and check out their latest video too.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Miike Snow - Paddling Out (Penguin Prison Remix)

So this year's Lollapalooza lineup was announced yesterday and one act that I will not be missing is Miike Snow. It's been a long time since their debut album in 2009, but they're back with a new album, Happy To You, and a slick remix from labelmate, Penguin Prison.

If you haven't picked up the new album, you are really missing out. Need a little incentive? How about the Penguin Prison remix, the lead single Devil's Work and another remix of their hit Animal, for FREE. You're welcome...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tenacious D - Rize Of The Fenix

Way back in 2001, Tenacious D released their first album. A mix of metal, comedy and folk that found a cult following. Prior to that duo was best known for their appearances on Mr. Show and a short-lived series on HBO.

For better or worse, after gaining quite a few celebrity fans, the D was pushed to the back burner as both actors worked on films. To make matters worse, after Jack had a series of hits, they decided to release a movie and album titled, The Pick of Destiny. The 2006 film bombed and all has been relatively quiet since then.

However, 2012 will see the Rize Of The Fenix, a new album slated for release on May 15th. In typical oddball fashion, the first video includes no actual music, but tries to bring us up to speed. Listen to the first single after the video and catch them at the Aragon, July 7th.

Absolutely genius, don't you think? As an added bonus you can watch their video for Fuck Her Gently, easily the greatest video of all time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sigur Ros Announce New Album & Debut Ekki Mukk

Sigur Ros announced a new album titled Valtari and posted a video for the presumed first single, Ekki Mukk earlier this week.

Despite being on hiatus since 2010, they actually have been quite busy. Lead singer Jonsi released a solo album, Go, and also composed the score to the film We Bought A Zoo. The band also released Inni, a live album/video in September and now comes word of a new album.

The 8-song album will be released on May 29, and is available for pre-order right here.

Sigur Rós - Ekki múkk from Sigur Rós on Vimeo.

If that wasn't enough, they are also re-releasing Hvarf/Heim, their collection of unreleased material and acoustic renditions on colored vinyl for Record Store Day. A limited run of 1250 copies will be sent to participating independent record stores.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Cool Kids - Rush Hour Traffic [Video]

Back in November of last year, I told you guys about a free concert/video shoot for Chicago's The Cool Kids. Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish invited fans to the Bridgeport Art Center on the city's South Side and finally, we can see the end result. Rush Hour Traffic, off last year's When Fish Ride Bicycles is an animation/effects filled video that pops off the screen. Directed by Joey Garfield, check it out below...

Cool Kids "Rush Hour Traffic" from Aaron Kemnitzer on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Introducing: Absofacto

Jonathan Visger has been recording under the name Absofacto for over 4 years now, releasing singles and remixes from his home base of Ann Arbor, Michigan. His remix of Ra Ra Riot's Each Year was featured on RCRD LBL in 2010 and with each new track, I am impressed.

Initially, his music was more experimental, loaded with textures and effects. However, recently it has developed a much stronger pop sentiment, without losing an ounce of honesty. Last year saw the release of Sinking Islands, a collection of his singles, plus 2 news ones.

Since then, he's been adding songs to an album called Loners, which is actually not an album at all. Instead a collection of misfits looking for a home. One of them, Lies, was released in late January and has quickly become a favorite. A full length debut is due this year, with the promise of a few shows as well.