Friday, June 30, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat (Extended Edition)

Beach House – “Chariot” (After thirteen years and six albums, the dream-pop duo of Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand are set to release a comprehensive collection of B-sides and rarities, appropriately-titled, B-Sides And Rarities, out today on Sub Pop.  The 14-track set stretches back to 2005, includes songs from their 2010 iTunes Session and the more recent Depression Cherry/Thank Your Lucky Stars sessions.  One of those recent tracks is the A-side quality opening track heard here with its syrupy, rafters-reaching organ, stair-stepping synths and slow, swaying rhythm.)

Fleet Foxes – "Third of May / Ōdaigahara," (After a seemingly endless six year wait, Robin Pecknold and company return triumphantly with their highly-anticipated third album, Crack-Up, out now on Nonesuch Records.  The epic and ambitious new album does not disappoint and without going too far, the band actually stretches out their trademark harmony-rich folk sound with prog-rock complexities, elements of jazz and experimental instruments; remaining true to their beloved organic sound.)       

Jeff Tweedy – “Laminated Cat” (The Wilco frontman finally released his long-promised solo acoustic debut album, Together At Last.  Out now via dBpm Records, the 11-track set is a collection of stripped-down acoustic versions of Wilco classics such as “I’m Always In Love”, “Hummingbird” and “Sky Blue Sky” as well as a song each from his side projects Loose Fur and Golden Smog.  The sparse arrangements really serve to highlight the inherent beauty of each song.  Listen to the Loose Fur track here.)   

Royal Blood – “I Only Lie When I Love You” (The British rock duo of bassist/vocalist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher recently released How Did We Get So Dark?, their sophomore album.  On the new album released by Warner Bros. Records, the duo creates a larger-than-life sound with mammoth rhythms, buzz-sawing bass-led grooves and a highly melodic pop sense.  Check out the cowbell-leaden standout single here.)   

Arcadea – “Army Of Electroons” (Arcadea is the new synth-driven prog-rock project led by Mastodon’s drummer/vocalist Brann Dailor along with Core Atoms (Zruda, Gaylord) and Raheem Amlani (Withered, Scarab).  Their impressive self-titled debut album was recently released on Relapse Records and is a headphones-worthy galactic world waiting to get lost in with strange sci-fi lyrical themes and an otherworldly sound that is psychedelic and metallic; organic yet electric.)    

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind 20th Anniversary Edition

I graduated high school in 1997 and Third Eye Blind’s self-titled debut album, released that spring, provided much of my soundtrack that year and beyond.  Led by singer/songwriter Stephan Jenkins, Third Eye Blind provided an infectiously catchy power-pop alternative to the post-grunge sound of the time and the album was loaded with anthemic hit singles that dominated modern rock radio, such as the still-inescapable "Semi-Charmed Life”, "How's It Going to Be", “Graduate”, "Jumper" and “Losing A Whole Year”.  The whole album - front-to-back - is extremely solid and holds up well after twenty years.      
To celebrate and to quench nostalgia, the band recently released an expanded 20th Anniversary Edition of their eponymous album via Rhino/Elektra Records that is available digitally, as a 2-CD set and a 3-LP collection.  The expanded reissue includes the multi-platinum original album and features a second disc of eight previously unreleased demos and new recordings, highlighted by the inclusion of the tracks, "Alright Caroline" and "Scattered," two recently recorded songs that were written during the original Third Eye Blind sessions but were never fully recorded in the studio until now.  Also of note are a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin”, a demo version of “Semi-Charmed Life” and "Kiss Goodnight," which later became "Ode To Maybe" from the band's 1999 sophomore album, Blue.  The only bummer is that the packaging lacks any special liner notes or additional photos.  Maybe on the 30th anniversary set?      
Additionally, the band is setting out on tour this summer in which they will perform the album in full along with a selection of other hits and fan favorites.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Stream It From The Mountain: EX EYE – EX EYE

EX EYE is the new instrumental jazz-metal quartet featuring renowned saxophonist Colin Stetson, drummer Greg Fox of Liturgy, Shahzad Ismaily (Secret Chiefs 3, Ceramic Dog) on synths and guitarist Toby Summerfield.  Their impressive self-titled debut album was released last week on Relapse Records.  The quartet’s experimental sound is a mind-blowing showcase of technical talent informed by jazz-inspired improvisation and avant-garde extremes with an equal penchant for abstract rhythms and aggressive metal-inspired grooves.    
“Xenolith; The Anvil” - the shortest track by far, at just shy of 4 minutes - opens the album with a punishing symbiotic groove created by Stetson’s sax and Ismaily’s synths before dissolving into caterwauling chaos for the perfect introduction to the rest of the haunting, expressive and epic album.  Experience it for yourself below.     

Monday, June 26, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat – "Mid-Century Sounds: Deep Cuts From The Desert" Edition

Recently released by Phoenix-based Fervor Records is Mid-Century Sounds: Deep Cuts From The Desert, a compilation of B-sides, deep cuts and cult classics - spanning from the 50’s to the 70’s - taken from the expansive musical archives of fellow Phoenix native, Floyd Ramsey.  Beginning in the mid-1950’s, Ramsey was a musical visionary who ran several record labels - Liberty Bell, REV, MCI, and Ramco Records - and was instrumental in launching the careers of music icons such as outlaw country pioneer Waylon Jennings, Wayne Newton, Duane Eddy (laying the groundwork for the 60’s surf rock movement), Lee Hazlewood, and Al Casey (The Wrecking Crew), among others.  Ramsey was also famous for introducing the “Phoenix Sound”, a reverb-rich sound made from recording in a giant water tank that helped put surf rock on the map.         
Spanning 29 tracks, the 140 gram 2-LP set is wonderfully packaged in a gatefold jacket with insightful liner notes for each track and comes on white (LP1) and black vinyl (LP2) and is limited to only 500 copies.  The track list features songs from Waylon Jennings, The Newton Brothers featuring a 15 year old Wayne Newton and his 17 year old brother Jerry, Louisiana piano player Tommy Strange, teen heartthrobs Nick Landers and Ritchie Hart and his Hartbeats and 60’s soul and 70’s funk from Soul Blenders.   
Listen to 3 of my favorite songs from the compilation here: 
Donnie Owens – “Boo Hoo” (A classic Country & Western/50’s rock hybrid with tongue-in-cheek humor and a hip-shaking rhythm from the 60’s country-pop artist who was also a guitarist/vocalist in Duane Eddy’s Rebels and a part of The Twang Gang alongside Eddy, Sanford Clark and Lee Hazelwood.)

Fat City – “Ain’t No Time For Stoppin’” (Fat City were a seven piece horn band in the vein of Chicago and Tower Of Power that melded jazz fusion and world music with psychedelic funk complete with bubbly horns and howling vocals.)      

The Tads – “She Is My Dream” (This twinkling, “Sleepwalking”-like ballad by the Phoenix-based late-50’s doo-wop group was recently heard in episode 504 of the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black.)

For more info or to purchase the Mid-Century Sounds LP, visit:

Friday, June 23, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat

Algiers – “The Underside Of Power” (Out today via Matador Records is The Underside Of Power, the sophomore album from Algiers.  The trio recently added Bloc Party drummer Matt Tong and the album was produced by Portishead’s Adrian Utley, and it expands on their highly-experimental Gospel-infused brand of politically-charged art-punk by adding in hip-hop inspired beats and elements of British grime, buzzing early industrial, 60’s soul and horror film soundtracks.  The resulting music and lyrical themes are stark, revelatory and riotous; providing the perfect soundtrack for a call to arms against this dark political climate.)         

Hundredth – “Neurotic” (It is rare for an established band to change their sound as drastically as the melodic metalcore band Hundreth has on their new album, Rare. Out now on Hopeless Records, the South Carolina band – which reunited with original guitar player Alex Blackwell prior to recording - has shifted their sound to a still heavy, roaring shoegaze-influenced sound on their fourth album.  The music hits with as much visceral velocity as ever but the hardcore screams are replaced with moodier melodies and hints of hazy, dream-pop for a fresh take on the genre that suits them well.)     

Broadside – “Disconnect” (Just in time for summer, the L.A.-by-way-of Richmond, VA pop-punk purveyors have recently released Paradise, their aptly-titled sophomore album via Victory Records.  The new album showcases the band’s growth as it leans more towards the pop side of pop-punk with bright, infectiously catchy melodies and positive, inspiring lyrical vibes that reflect their recent move to L.A. and constant touring over the last two years.  In a few years, Paradise will no doubt be heralded as a gold standard in the genre.)         

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Stream It From The Mountain: Office Culture – I Did The Best I Could

Office Culture is the new band featuring members of Brooklyn art-rock band Ball Of Flame Shoot Fire.  Led by vocalist/keyboardist Winston Cook-Wilson’s floating falsetto and unique phrasing, the band creates a smooth and sophisticated brand of synth-heavy pop-rock with elements of jazz, 70’s glam, and 80’s funk and lite rock that further blur the lines of classification on their recently released debut album, I Did The Best I Could.   
The 9-song album is led by the standout single, “Molly” with its soft twinkling synths, gurgling bass line and swooning vocal sway.  Other standouts include the jazzy swing of “Favor”, the 80’s-indebted synth stabs that highlight the soulful “Fool” and the danceable bluesy shuffle of “Cooler Heads”.      

Stream I Did The Best I Could

Friday, June 16, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat (Extended Edition)

Kevin Morby – “City Music” (Hot on the heels of his acclaimed 2016 album Singing Saw, City Music is Kevin Morby’s fourth solo album and is out today on Dead Oceans.  Where his last album was focused mostly on acoustic 60’s and 70’s folk, the new songs - just like a city - are bristling with energy and lively guitar work and are equally indebted to storytellers like Dylan and Lou Reed as they are to The Ramones.  Check out the simply stunning, nearly seven-minute title track with its liquid guitar lines and shuffling rhythm here.)    

The Drums – “Heart Basel” (Out today is Abysmal Thoughts - the fourth album and first for new label, Anti Records - from the indie-pop project, now solely led by Jonny Pierce.  Musically, he hits the sweet spot between dreamy, psychedelic synth-pop and surf-y, sighing 60’s guitar jangle and lyrically, it his most inwardly-looking and personal; for his best and most immediately-gripping album in years.)   

Dead Heavens – “Adderall Highway” (Dead Heavens is the new psych-rock project led by the increasingly versatile frontman Walter Schreifels - Gorilla Biscuits, Rival Schools, Quicksand, etc – along with members of Cults, White Zombie and Youth Of Today.  Their impressive debut album Whatever Witch You Are - out today on Dine Alone Records - is a blistering blend of grungy, blues rock and heavy, psych-rock complete with dueling discordant guitar solos and hazy yet catchy vocal melodies.  Check out the appropriately-propulsive standout single here.)   

Pink Frost – “Bare Roots” (The Chicago quartet led by vocalist/guitarist Adam Lukas are set to release their long-awaited new album, New Minds, today via Under Road Records.  The four year wait proves worth it as their gargantuan fuzzed-out psych-rock riffs build up the wall so the catchy, 90’s alt-rock melodies and touches of Smashing Pumpkins-like dream-pop can bust through, for their heaviest and most anthemic set of songs yet.)      

Tombs – “November Wolves” (The New York black metal band led by Mike Hill will release The Grand Annihilation, their fourth album and debut for Metal Blade Records today.  The trio experiments by adding stark and haunting, Nick Cave-like post-punk melodies to their scorched brand of black metal for a world-conquering mixture that is both brutally heavy and highly melodic for their most forward-thinking yet accessible release to date.)    

Monday, June 12, 2017

SHOW ALERT: Damien Jurado at Warehouse 4 in Vandalia, OH 6/14

Seattle folk-pop singer-songwriter Damien Jurado is set to embark on his highly-ambitious 50 State Tour this week, beginning in Ohio and Indiana.  Since the mid-90’s, Jurado has released more than 12 albums, – including last year’s trilogy-completing Visions of Us on the Land via Secretly Canadian – and countless EPs and singles and has toured the country, playing every major market.  Now with the Woody Guthrie-inspired 50 State Tour, he will hit those smaller spots – delis, record stores, living rooms and coffee shops in the suburbs on the way to and from those major market cities, as a way to connect with fans and to “[celebrate] our country and the things that not only make us the same but also the beauty of our differences”. 
Damien Jurado is scheduled to play a total of seven shows in Ohio, including a performance on Wednesday, June 14 at Warehouse 4 coffee shop in Vandalia, a suburb of Dayton near the airport.  Toledo Americana artist Ben Stalets will open the show at Warehouse 4.    
The performances will be stripped down affairs, hearkening back to his folksier earlier days.  So of course, I hope he plays my favorite song, “Ohio”.  It would only be fitting.
For more info on Damien Jurado and the 50 State Tour:

Friday, June 09, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat (Extended Edition)

Rancid – “Telegraph Avenue” (The influential punk rock kings return today with the Hellcat/Epitaph Records release of Trouble Maker, their ninth album.  The excellent, timeless new album is further proof that Tim, Matt, Lars and Branden are the best at what they do and what they do is create hooky, reggae-laced punk rock.  But you already knew that and you already know that you should be listening.  So do it!)  

Phoenix – “J-Boy” (Out today on Glassnote Records is Ti Amo, the long-awaited sixth album from the French indie pop band.  The highly-anticipated 10-track album is highlighted by the infectiously danceable rhythms the band is known for and more of a focus on synths, especially glittery 80’s inspired ones alongside catchy melodies that border on soft rock and dream-pop with gauzy, velvety-smooth textures that give the romantically-inclined lyrics a boost.  Well worth the wait.) 

Junior Astronomers – “That’s Why” (Out today on Refresh Records, the N.C. indie rock quartet - led by the passionate howl of frontman Terrence Richard -  returns with Body Language, their long-awaited sophomore album.  The four years since their impressive 2013 debut have been more than kind to the band, allowing their sound to mature and they have added brighter melodies and even catchier hooks this time around; swerving the sophomore slump entirely.)       

INVSN – “The Constant War” (After reuniting Refused two years ago, frontman Dennis Lyxzén is set to release The Beautiful Stories, the new album from his project INVSN.  Out today on Dine Alone Records, the band including - Sara Almgren, Christina Karlsson, Anders Stenberg and André Sandström - creates another fiery set of politically-charged punk rock anthems streaked with touches of folk, soul and 80’s synth-pop that comes at just the right time in this troubling political environment; especially on the empowering, rhythm-driven rave-up heard here.)        

Friday, June 02, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat

‘68 – “This Life Is Old, New, Borrowed and Blue” (The experimental, post-everything duo of Josh Scogin – formerly of The Chariot and Norma Jean - and Michael McClellan return with their stunning second album, Two Parts Viper, out today on Cooking Vinyl.  The dynamic new album is slightly less abrasive - highlighting their soulful blues and Nirvana influences a little more on some songs - but overall it is still just as characteristically chaotic, raw and dangerous as you would expect.)  

Marika Hackman – “Boyfriend” (The London singer-songwriter steps away from her folk rock roots on her sophomore album, I’m Not Your Man, on her new label, Sub Pop.  Out today, the new album, produced and mixed by Charlie Andrew (Alt-J), finds Hackman singing about femininity, life and love – with a witty sense of humor - backed by fellow London quartet The Big Moon, as she blends 90’s grunge rock and Britpop into her catchiest and most immediate collection of songs yet. Check out Marika Hackman and The Big Moon on a co-headline tour of North America this summer.)

Chastity Belt – (I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone, the third album from the Seattle quartet – featuring Julia Shapiro, Gretchen Grimm, Lydia Lund, and Annie Truscott - is out today via Hardly Art.  The impressive new album showcases their moody, guitar-forward brand of post-punk that blends in laid-back dream-pop textures and dissonance and melody in equal measure; perfectly summed up on the epic, noise-addled album closer heard here.)