Friday, December 15, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat

U2 – “You’re The Best Thing About Me” (After touring this year in celebration of the 30th anniversary of their landmark album, The Joshua Tree, the arena-rock veterans recently released their 14th album, Songs Of Experience, a companion piece to 2014’s Songs of Innocence.  Out now on Interscope Records, the new album finds the band both in their lane with their trademark brand of soaring, emotionally-charged rock and in an experimental mood as well, with contributions from Haim and Kendrick Lamar and the addition of glossy synths and hip-hop inspired beats.  The result is a U2 album that sounds of the moment yet retains the nostalgic pull of the previous albums.)    

Eagle Johnson & Clean Machine – “My Best Girl” (Out next week is Tennessee Beach, the debut album from Nashville roots rockers Eagle Johnson & Clean Machine.  Recalling Dr. Dog’s ramshackle Beatles-esque melodies, Johnson incorporates wide-scoping influences such as classic reggae and pop singer Kimbra - whose bandmates Timon Martin and Stevie McQuinn Jr. make guest contributions – alongside blues, folk and psychedelic garage-rock for genre-defiant sound on their very promising debut.)

Neil Young + Promise of the Real – “Already Great” (Backed again by Willie Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah and their band, Promise of the Real; Neil Young recently released his 39th album titled, The Visitor, via Reprise Records.  Young is in spirited, politically-charged form and the Nelson boys bring the perfect hybrid of classic rock, dusty folk and guitar-led grunge rock for a very diverse and engaging album.  Additionally, Young has created a new archival website that chronicles his entire music career, allowing you to stream all of his music – in high resolution, of course - and includes previously unreleased songs and videos:

Friday, December 08, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat – Extended Christmas Edition

Photo credit: Art Jipson

Dude York – “Takin’ Care Of Christmas” (The Seattle trio offer up their first holiday-themed album with the Hardly Art release of Halftime For The Holidays.  The 9-track album features all new original songs that address loneliness, breakups and other stresses of the holiday season set to their highly-melodic power pop-punk, along with a joyous cover of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Christmas”, heard here.)    

Gwen Stefani – “Santa Baby” (The No Doubt frontwoman and star of NBC’s The Voice recently released her first Christmas album titled, You Make It Feel Like Christmas, via Interscope Records.  Featuring a duet with Blake Shelton, the album is a blend of new originals and classic Christmas covers in her distinct style and voice such as a stirring “Silent Night”, “White Christmas” and “Santa Baby”, the latter of which she was born to sing.)  

Pentatonix – “How Great Thou Art” (The world’s best known a capella group and my 3 year old son’s favorite band recently reissued their A Pentatonix Christmas album – via RCA Records - as a deluxe version with 5 new tracks including, “How Great Thou Art” featuring Jennifer Hudson, as seen here, taken from their NBC television special, A Very Pentatonix Christmas.)

August Burns Red – “Last Christmas” (Per their yearly tradition, the Christian metalcore titans deliver another heavy take on a Christmas classic and this year’s cover is a blistering instrumental performance of the beloved 80’s classic by Wham.  ABR’s excellent new album, Phantom Anthem is out now on Fearless Records.)  

Friday, December 01, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat

Ghost Work – “B Ledgewood (Demo)” (Ghost Work is the new band from Aaron Stauffer of Seaweed, Sean Husick of Milemarker, Dustin Perry of Snapcase and Erin Tate formerly of Minus The Bear.  Their debut release, Starlight & Blue (demos) EP was recently released digitally via the Chicago label, IDEAS.  Through three tracks, they blend their punk and hardcore pedigree with diverse elements of 80’s post-punk, shoegaze and indie rock for a dynamic new sound that is promising - I can’t wait to hear more from this project!)

Quicksand – “Interiors” (The New York post-hardcore pioneers recently returned with Interiors, their third album and first since 1995.  Out now on Epitaph, Schreifels, Vega, Cage and Capone come back hard with their heavy, unmistakable bass-led grooves but add even more spaced-out melody to their sound for a powerful album that defies nostalgia and warrants consideration for year-end lists.  Check out the standout title track here with its sweeping vocal melodies and noisy outbursts.)  

Converge – “A Single Tear” (The Boston metalcore vets recently released their ninth album titled, The Dusk In Us, via Epitaph Records.  After nearly 30 years as a band, Bannon, Ballou, Koller, and Newton still create a noise-addled and visceral hardcore-inspired brand of metal with their pioneering guitar tones and production in tow but have added a more positive outlook and punchier pop hooks this time around.  Check out the emotionally-charged and anthemic album opener here.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

3 Songs: Bedstock 2017

The online music festival Bedstock recently returned for its fourth year. Bedstock is a part of the Children’s Cancer Association’s music program, MyMusicRx, where artists perform from their beds in honor of kids who are forced to spend their holidays in a hospital bed.    
Participating bands of note include, Ringo Starr, Rick Neilson of Cheap Trick, Stephen Malkmus, Charly Bliss, Live, The Breeders, Iron & Wine, Chad VanGaalen (with his daughters), Son Little, Lukas Nelson, Deer Tick and many more. 
Here are my 3 favorite performances:

Iron & Wine – “Call It Dreaming” (Sam Beam performs - the standout track from his Grammy-nominated new album, Beast Epic, out now on Sub Pop - from his bed among stuffed animals.)

Live – “Lightning Crashes” (Ed Kowalczyk performs the band’s moving, heartbreaking classic from a bed at the Austin City Limits festival.)

The Breeders – “Drivin’ On 9” (The Breeders – who are working on a new album - perform the Last Splash track from a cozy bed complete with Kleenex box percussion and iPhone synths.)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Tears For Fears – Rule The World

For the past several years, 80’s synth-pop legends Tears For Fears have been touring a lot and have also talked about releasing a new album which sadly, has not materialized.  While we eagerly await a new album from the duo of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, they recently released a new greatest hits compilation titled, Rule The World.  Out now on Mercury/UMe, the 16-track album features all of their beloved anthems including, “Shout”, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”, “Mad World”, “Head Over Heels” and “Sowing The Seeds Of Love”.   

The best news is that the collection is highlighted by the inclusion of two new recordings, their first new original songs recorded and released since 2004.  The first one, “I Love But I’m Lost”, is soaring, glittering dance-pop at its finest with one nostalgia-inducing foot in the past and one in the modern music they no doubt influenced.  The second - the emotional, atmospheric acoustic ballad “Stay” – also lives up to the other towering tracks on the album; a testament to the duo’s long-lasting songwriting.  
Tears For Fears – Rule The World is available now digitally and on CD and double LP (due 12/8) here:

Revisit the video for “Head Over Heels” here:

Friday, November 17, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat

Plates Of Cake – “No Use For The Sun” (The Brooklyn-based garage-rock trio led by Jonathan Byerley along with Joshua Carrafa and Ian Burns of Old Monk recently released Let’s Not Deprive Each Other, their fourth album.  Released digitally and as a limited edition cassette by Unblinking Ear Records, the new album deftly blends 80’s college rock with 60’s pop while softening the edges of their rock sound by leaning into acoustic instrumentation, psychedelic melodies and fuller, chamber pop-like arrangements for their best and most accomplished effort yet.)

Greta Van Fleet – “Edge Of Darkness” (The emergent young Michigan-based retro-rockers - consisting of brothers Josh, Jake and Sam Kiszka along with Danny Wagner look to broaden the scope of their powerful, Led Zeppelin-esque sound with their recently released double EP titled, From The Fires. Out now on Lava/Republic Records, it combines two new original tracks as well as two covers of originals from Sam Cooke and Fairport Convention alongside the four songs from the band's debut EP, Black Smoke Rising, released earlier this year.  Check out the soulful howl of the bluesy new original, “Edge Of Darkness” here for the perfect introduction to the band.)

HAEMORRHAGE – “Gore Gourmet” (The veteran Spanish grind-gore enthusiasts recently released their seventh album, We Are The Gore, via Relapse Records. Alongside the intentially gross lyrics; death metal riffs collide with punishing grindcore rhythms and a punk rock spirit especially on standout track and mission statement, “Gore Gourmet” heard here with its shout-along chorus and dive-bombing guitar solos.  Current and former members of Carcass, Impaled, Dead Infection and Ghoul make appearances as well.)

Monday, November 13, 2017

3 Songs: as chosen by Josh Berwanger (Berwanger, The Anniversary, Radar State)

K.C. singer-songwriter Josh Berwanger - formerly of The Anniversary and Only Children and also currently of Radar State - recently released his third solo album, The Star Invaders via Good Land Records.  The excellent new album makes great use of vintage synth sounds a little more with some of them sounding cosmic and spaced-out and some, horror movie-inspired.  He also doubles down on the infectious and psychedelic brand of power-pop that has become his calling card as a solo artist for his best and most cohesive album yet.        
The striking album artwork along with standouts such as the epic opening title track and “The Astronaut” carry out a sci-fi concept.  To get a better feel for the inspiration behind the album, I recently spoke with Josh, and in the spirit of my regular “3 Songs” series, I asked him to share three songs that influenced him during the creative process for the new album.  Berwanger said, “This is the first album I've made that is really hard to pinpoint certain songs that inspired me specifically. It was more so inspired by a UFO encounter I had while on vacation in North Carolina.  But there were certain songs that came to mind, the way they were recorded in the studio. Like, “Still D.R.E.” by Dr. D.R.E., “A Rose For Emily” by the Zombies and “Are You the One I've Been Waiting for” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I was thinking a lot about Nick Cave's vocal deliveries and the very open sounds of his records; they are all so personal and intimate, like you are sitting in the room with him.” 
Listen to Berwanger’s 3 Songs picks here and then stream The Star Invaders below to see if you can spot the influences.
Dr. Dre – “Still D.R.E.”:
The Zombies – “A Rose For Emily”:
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Are You The One I’ve Been Waiting For”:

Stream and purchase The Star Invaders here:

Friday, November 10, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat

Angel Olsen – “Sans” (Out today on Jagjaguwar, is Phases, a new rarities and b-sides compilation from the acclaimed folk-rock singer-songwriter, Angel Olsen.  The album pulls from never-heard home demo recordings and tracks recorded during the recent MY WOMAN sessions, features a Springsteen cover and opens with “Fly On Your Wall,” the stunning song previously contributed to the Bandcamp-only, anti-Trump fundraiser Our First 100 Days.  Check out the stripped-down and stirring demo, “Sans” here.)  

Margo Price – “A Little Pain” (After breaking big last year with her critically-adored crossover smash of a debut album, the Nashville native singer-songwriter recently released All American Made, her stunning sophomore album, via Third Man Records.  The new album features a duet with Willie Nelson, and somehow improves upon the old school country & western instrumentation and biting narratives that made her debut so spectacular.  Check out the bittersweet single here.)   

Jim Button & The Beholders – “Time Never Lies” (Led by vocalist/guitarist Jim Button and guitarist Vincent Lawhon, also of K.C. psych-pop band The Conquerors along with bassist Bryan Koehler from El Rey-Tones, drummer Jerad Meadows from Bleachbloodz and keyboardist Ehren Starks; the quartet creates an exciting and catchy blend of gentle psych, surf, 60’s pop and heartland folk rock on their digital-only debut 3-song EP titled, Time Never Lies, out now on High Dive Records.  Stream the jangly, vintage organ drenched title track below.)     

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Bob Dylan - Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 (1979-1981)

The latest installment - Volume 13 - of Bob Dylan’s official Bootleg Series titled, Trouble No More was released last week as a deluxe 9-disc box set via Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings.  Trouble No More compiles Dylan’s highly-controversial conversion to Christianity and the resulting bluesy, Gospel-drenched music he wrote, recorded and performed during the years 1979 to 1981.  Dylan was equally spiritually-inspired and very prolific during this time, releasing three Christian-themed albums, 1979’s Slow Train Coming – featuring the Grammy Award winning “Gotta Serve Somebody” – and 1980’s Saved and Shot Of Love.  The comprehensive Deluxe Edition of Trouble No More spans 8 CDs and 1 DVD and premieres 100 previously unreleased live and studio recordings, including 14 never-before-released songs.    
Of the 8 CDs; two discs feature a full live performance from Toronto in 1980 and two that capture a striking performance recorded July 27, 1981 at Earl’s Court in London that also features hits and favorites from his past catalog.  Also included are two more discs of tour highlights from other performances of the era.  These six live discs are the crown jewel of the entire box set as they feature much livelier versions of the songs with his band and Gospel choir locked in tight.  Rounding out the collection are two discs full of outtakes and rarities including soundcheck rehearsals highlighted by the previously unreleased track “Making A Liar Out Of Me”, which was recorded during rehearsal on September, 26, 1980, heard below.   
The bonus DVD features a new full-length film titled, “Trouble No More: A Musical Film” that combines never-before-seen footage from his 1980 tours with newly-filmed scenes of actor Michael Shannon as a preacher delivering fiery sermons that were written by writer and critic Luc Sante.  Also included in the beautifully-packaged set is a 120-page hardcover photo book loaded with tons of rare photos and memorabilia from the era as well as engaging essays from Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) and acclaimed author and music journalist Amanda Petrusich, as well as an intriguing extensive track-by-track commentary.  A must have for every Bob Dylan collector!       
Trouble No More is also available as a 2-CD sampler set and a 4-LP set on 180 gram vinyl with each set featuring 30 highlights from the deluxe edition.  
To order or for more info:

Stream “Making A Liar Out Of Me (Unreleased song –Sept. 26, 1980)” here:

Friday, November 03, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat

Blinker The Star – “Orion” (Blinker The Star is one of my favorite 90’s bands.  The Canadian synth-driven indie-rock project led by songwriter and producer Jordon Zadorozny recently returned with their seventh album, 8 Of Hearts.  The album features contributions from Mitch Bowden of Don Vail, Eric Matthews, Bob Wilcox and Honeymoon Suite's Ray Coburn and opens with the warped and shimmering synths of the stellar single, “Orion”, heard here.)   

Julien Baker – “Turn Out The Lights” (The young Memphis-based singer-songwriter recently released her highly-anticipated sophomore album, Turn Out The Lights, via her new label home, Matador Records.  Just as devastatingly visceral and beautiful; this excellent new collection of songs – written and produced by Baker – includes piano, strings and some woodwinds to give more texture to her empowering and anthemic torch-songs.)        

Exhumed – “Defenders Of The Grave” (The San Jose gore-metal mainstays recently released their sixth album, Death Revenge, via Relapse Records.  Matt Harvey and crew create a sick, gore-drenched and old school death metal-inspired soundtrack to a series of true stories of murder, mayhem and grave-robberies in 1820’s Scotland for their first concept album.  Also, be sure to catch them on tour now with The Black Dahlia Murder, Suffocation and more.)