In my professional life, when I’m not posting about music on Boing Boing, I run the digital team for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. People often tell us that they’re curious to come to one of our concerts, but don’t know much about classical music and or which concerts they might like.
So today, after much agonizing and formulating and coding, we are launching a beta version of Concert Master. It’s a web app that asks you a handful of questions about yourself and recommends concerts based on your answers. It’s meant to be a fun experience that takes some of the intimidation out of classical music and points you to the performances most suited to your taste. If you’re in LA or a fan of the arts, we’d love your thoughts.
In other LA Phil news, our website that celebrates 10 years of the LA Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall went live today as well.
Sound it Out # 58: Man Man - “Head On” (free MP3)
Philly band Man Man’s fifth record On Oni Pond finds singer (and main songwriter) Honus Honus collaborating with drummer Pow Pow. The record, out on September 10, is quirky and optimistic and has a charming appeal that feels like an evening at a carnival.
“Head On” is the first new Man Man song in a couple of years. It’s got a fetching string section, plucky piano, and a singalong chorus that relentlessly sticks in your brain. Download it below!
We've been offering up free songs this week, and I hope you have a solid summer playlist as a result. If you missed them, you can see all of the featured artists here
, and still have plenty of time to download the mp3s for your collection. Tell us over at BBS
which songs resonate with you! — Amy
Sound it Out # 57: Scout Niblett - “Gun” (free MP3)
Emma “Scout” Niblett kind of scares me. Her songs are intense and the characters she inhabits in them are so intimately drawn that you wonder whether they’re fictional or real.
Her newest record It’s Up to Emma is powerful and manic. Spartan drum and guitar parts serve to accent raw vocals that sound backed-in-a-corner furious. “Gun” is one of the best vengeful spurned-woman songs I’ve heard, and I’m excited to give it to you as a free download below.
Sound it Out # 56: Small Black - “Free at Dawn” (free MP3)
Small Black’s new album Limits of Desire is seemingly at odds with itself. It’s bombastic yet intimate. The songs are slick-sounding but minimally-produced. Parts of the record feel like they could be inspirational theme songs from a 1980s John Hughes film, while others are much more quiet and mysterious. Yet this bashing-together of disparate styles somehow works; get past the Brooklyn indie-rock exterior and you have a bunch of anthemic, hit-worthy songs.
I find myself singing along the title phrase of “Free at Dawn” even though I have no idea what it means. Maybe you will too. Free download below for two days only!
Sound it Out # 55: Pond - “Xanman” (free MP3)
It would be easy to hear the music of Perth, Australia’s Pond and think they are ironic or retro, but you’d be wrong. Catch them live to discover that their psychedelic guitar layering and spacey jams are completely sincere. A few members of Pond are also in Tame Impala, and something down there has precipitated a wonderful movement of dense and fuzzy rock.
Pond’s new album Hobo Rocket (out 8/6) is geared towards channeling their incredible live energy into a recording. “Xanman” is the most arena-ready Pond song yet and should satisfy all of your rock needs.
Sound it Out # 54: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - “Nightwater Girlfriend” (free MP3)
Naming your band after a Russian political leader does not necessarily get you noticed in his home country, but it eventually did for Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. The Boris Yeltsin Foundation has been following the Springfield, MO band’s consistently lovely music-making for years, and invited them to visit the motherland as headliners of the Old New Rock Festival in Yekaterinburg, Russia this past January.
Once the band accepted the gig, the U.S. consulate in Yekaterinburg named them cultural ambassadors to Russia for a day. SSLYBY performed at a local high school and answered questions about being an American rock band. There’s a forthcoming documentary about this trip called “Discussions with Russians”.
Where do you go from there? SSLYBY returned to Missouri in the spring and wrote/recorded a new record in guitarist Will Knauer’s parents’ attic. It’s called Fly By Wire and is full of deliciously earnest pop gems like “Nightwater Girlfriend”, which you can download below.
Sound it Out # 53: Dr. OctoTron - “Spaz” (free MP3)
Keith Thornton has appeared under many personas in his twisted hip-hop career, but my favorite was always Dr. Octagon. Sadly, Dr. Dooom (also Keith) killed off Dr. Octagon in 1999. Since then, Keith has created hilarious, weird and scatological music as as Kool Keith, Keith Korg (as part of Analog Brothers with Ice-T and others), Black Elvis and so many more. You can see a huge list of Keith’s aliases here.
Dr. Octagon may be deceased, but we now have Dr. OctoTron. This new Keith-fueled medical professional is a collaboration with Del the Funky Homosapien and is produced by KutMasta Kurt, who co-produced (with Dan the Automator) the 1996 release Dr. Octagonecologyst.
This is all to say that the new Dr. OctoTron single “Spaz” is exactly what I hoped it would be: groovy, with raps that are delivered with great skill and humor. No news yet on whether we can expect an OctoTron album, but I sure hope it happens. We have a free download of “Spaz” for one week only, so get it while you can.
Sound it Out # 52: Big Star “Thirteen" (Alternate mix, 1972) (free MP3)
I’ve never been fond of the Beatles. Maybe it had something to do with my dad singing along with the especially dopey early-era stuff and embarrassing me in front of my pre-teen friends, but they always struck me as trite and clunky. I realize that they influenced much of the music I love, they just never moved me. When I first heard Big Star, they appealed to me the way that I imagine the Beatles do to many: the innocent and heartfelt lyrics, the gorgeous vocal harmonizing, and the gentle and jangly melodies come together (*heh*) to form something magical. Big Star are my Beatles.
The original Big Star (and the one that I refer to) only existed from 1971-1974. Positive press did not amount to any kind of real-world success, and the the band fizzled out. There’s a lot more to this story, including the tragic and early deaths of all of its members save for drummer Jody Stephens and the the briefly-lived second incarnation of Big Star in 1993. It’s all told in a new documentary called Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me. The movie is in select theaters and on pay-per-view and iTunes. Pesco did a post about the film here.
The soundtrack for Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me includes outtakes and unreleased mixes from Big Star’s short career. This version of “Thirteen” is a great example of all the things I love about the band. Click on the word "Download" in the Soundcloud player below to download.
Sound it Out # 51: Kid Karate - “Heart” (free MP3)
Kid Karate is the rock band I’ve been looking for all summer. These two guys from Dublin create an intoxicating ruckus that I have been listening to non-stop recently. Their debut EP is called Lights Out and it’s released today at the usual digital music outlets. We’ve got a free song called “Heart” for your yowling pleasure. Buy the EP if you love it as I do.
Sound it Out # 50: Caitlin Rose - “Only a Clown” (free MP3)
Caitlin Rose’s second record The Stand-In finds the Nashville native straying a bit from her roots in the country music world (her mother has written songs for Taylor Swift, Leann Womack and others), and plants her squarely in the footsteps of the great American songwriter/storytellers. Rose knows how to shape a narrative, and while many of her songs are about the familiar themes of heartache or being wronged, her perspective is always original and surprising.
“Only a Clown” is a fine example of a sparkly-sounding pop song that turns out to be deeply melancholy. It’s yours for a click below.
Sound it Out # 49: Maps - “A.M.A” (free MP3)
James Chapman makes music under the name Maps in his basement in Northampton, England. And while he appears to be something of a loner as a musician, the songs on the new Maps record Vicissitude have a welcoming sweetness that feels like a fortuitous amalgamation of many talented minds.
“A.M.A.” is the first single from the new record, and it’s a keeper. Chapman’s whispery vocals combine with a sparse and relentless beat that is simultaneously cheerful and foreboding.
Download “A.M.A” for free below!
This is day one of Free Song Week on Boing Boing. Every day this week, I’ll post at least one free song that I think deserves a place on your summer playlist.
Since these artists have been so kind as to give you a song, please support them by buying their records or seeing them live.
All of the songs will be collected here
as they go up. — Amy
Only last week, The Pixies announced that bassist Kim Deal had left the band. Now they have a new single that seems to be about bad breath, with some backing vocals that sound a lot like Kim, but apparently are not her. It's a super weird song that is rapidly growing on me, and the video is pretty entertaining too. You can download a free mp3 of "Bagboy"at their website.