Sound it Out # 46: Alpine - “Gasoline” (MP3)
Here’s a lovely, dreamy little pop gem to make any spring day even brighter. The band is called Alpine, and formerly called themselves Swiss, even though they are from Australia. Go figure.
Their excellent debut album A is for Alpine comes out in the US (and most other territories from what I can gather) on May 21.
Free download below!
Sound it Out # 45: Charles Bradley - “Strictly Reserved for You” (MP3)
Soul singer Charles Bradley has a lot of feelings, and it's not hard to see why: he's lived on the street, discovered his brother’s murdered body, and spent most of his 64 years as a James Brown impersonator, all while dreaming of recording his own music. His songs teem with the incredible anguish of his life, and his gratitude for its turnaround. Bradley has only seen success in the last few years, and his deep love for his life and fans is apparent. I’ve never seen someone give so much of himself on stage; he will actually burst into tears while wailing “I love you” and thanking the audience when he performs. It's irresistible.
Victim of Love is Charles Bradley’s excellent new album (out today!), and it sounds like a classic soul record with some sneaky psychedelic overtones. Charles has agreed to share this free download of the first single “Strictly Reserved for You” with us. Take a listen, know that Charles loves you, and head over to a record retailer to show your love right back.
We featured Django Django's first single over a year ago. The record came out in the U.S. in October and is still going strong. "WOR" is their 7th video from their self-titled debut, and is a mesmerizing peek into the lives of daredevils drivers at a fair in Allahabad.
Go see the band live - they're fun, charming,extremely talented and have the biggest tambourine you've ever seen. I highly recommend it - tour dates here.
I start the New York Times Crossword every day (I can't always finish) and have often fantasized about throwing down with the real puzzle masters at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Photographer Rufus Mangrove was there last weekend, and his artful shots of the event make it look like a blast.
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Clam Lynch is a wildly-creative artist and actor...and therefore terminally broke. He’s also a dad who is trying to raise enough cash to move from San Francisco to Utah to help his daughter Eloise get set up for college. He’s selling custom-printed and numbered tote bags to help finance their journey. Bids start at $20 for these fine-looking bags.
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The new Beach House video for "Wishes" was directed by Eric Wareheim (Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!) and features Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, Reaper, classic 70's TV), horses & fireworks. It takes place during a sort of demented halftime show. It's fantastic.
Sound it Out # 43: Junip - “Line of Fire” (MP3)
Junip is a band from Gothenburg, Sweden, comprising members Elias Araya, Tobias Winterkorn, and José González. Though their first EP came out way back in 2005, they are only now releasing their second full-length album, Junip, which arrives on April 23rd. Singer/guitarist González’ much-lauded solo career has kept him away from the band for big chunks of time. It's been worth the wait.
Junip's new single “Line of Fire” is an atmospheric gem. Whispery vocals, exotic percussion and an overall ominous tone make for a highly addictive song. Download/listen below.
I'm going to be cooking a dinner featuring locally-produced honey at canelé restaurant in LA next Tuesday, February 19. The restaurant has a program called "Friends Cook", where they invite neighborhood pals to cook a special menu at the restaurant. Here's how they describe it:
Every so often on a Tuesday night we share our kitchen with some special folks for our popular "friends cook at canelé." These pals, ranging from experienced chefs to absolute newbies, conceive, prep, and cook to order a 3 course prix-fixe menu with the advice and assistance of our chef, cooks, and servers.
Here's the menu:
SHAVED BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD
with dates, toasted walnuts & Stilton, and a honey vinaigrette
SMOKY HONEY-CURED SALMON*
slow roasted and served with white beans & cavolo nero
SPICY GINGER/HONEY CAKE WITH HONEY GELATO
Feral Honey gelato from Pazzo Gelato in Silver Lake
* Vegetarian option: pasta with white beans & cavolo nero
I'll be curing the salmon next Sunday morning, then cold-smoking it with alder wood that night. We'll slow roast it to order at Canelé on Tuesday. It's a long process, but with a super-delicious result.
It'll be really fun and a great opportunity to watch me burn myself. I'd love to see you there if you happen to be in LA!
Sound it Out # 42: Helado Negro - “Dance Ghost”(MP3)
Helado Negro is the musician alter ego of the visual/experimental artist Roberto Carlos Lange.He’s the son of Ecuadorian immigrants who grew up in South Florida and now lives in Savannah, Georgia. The music of Helado Negro (translation: Black Ice Cream) is a moody mish-mash of samples and rhythms that evokes the haunted mood of a David Lynch movie. Helado Negro’s fourth album is called Invisible Life and will be out March 5.
Meanwhile, Lange has a commissioned live performance coming up on February 23 at the Savannah College of Art & Design. It’s called Brain Finger Composition and includes sounds that members of the Savannah arts community uploaded to Google Voice. He will also conduct a 10-piece orchestra by connecting each musician to one of his fingers with a piece of yarn.
“Dance Ghost” is one of the first songs that Helado Negro has sung in English. It has a haunting, languid tone that you can imagine being an ideal soundtrack for a sticky Georgia/Florida/Ecuador summer night. Download it below.
Sound it Out # 41: The Cave Singers - “Easy Way ”(MP3)
I’ve gone on about my love for The Cave Singers here before.
What’s changed: They’ve added bassist & multi-instrumentalist Morgan Henderson (Blood Brothers, Fleet Foxes) and are now a 4-piece. The new record sounds lusher and includes some new sounds (background singers! reverb! flute solos!).
What hasn’t changed: The Cave Singers continue to sound like nobody else. There’s an intense rural feeling to their music that feels like a moonshine-soaked porch sing-along.
Their fourth album is called Naomi and is out March 5, but you can pre-order it here and download it next week.
The band has given us a free download of “Easy Way” for two days only, so grab it now. I also highly recommend seeing them when they tour the U.S. in the spring. You’ll be glad you did.
On the rare occasion, a dreamy, jangly, coming-of-age pop song can make me dance like a moron in the kitchen.
Download “Teenage”, put down the knife, press play, and behold the power of London’s Veronica Falls as you shake your thing. Their second album Waiting for Something to Happen is out on February 12 and is full of angsty gems like this.
Sound it Out # 39: Guided by Voices - “She Lives in an Airport ”(MP3)
Dayton, Ohio’s legendary Guided by Voices broke up in 2004. Over the course of a 21-year run they’d gone through numerous personnel changes, with singer and main songwriter Robert Pollard as the only consistent player throughout.
Pollard reunited the band's mid-'90s lineup in 2010 and released three albums in 2012: Let’s Go Eat the Factory (January), Class Clown Spots a UFO (June) and The Bears for Lunch (November). All three records have classic Guided by Voices attributes: hilarious song titles (“How I Met My Mother”, “Worm with 7 Broken Hearts”, “Finger Gang”), hard-to-tolerate noisy parts, and extremely catchy and well-crafted rock music.
Much has been written about how GBV and Robert Pollard could release flawless albums with some self-editing and higher production values. Maybe that’s true, but it’s missing the point. Robert Pollard is deeply compelled to produce copious amounts of music, and part of being a fan is listening to all of it.
That said, I think The Bears for Lunch is the best and most consistent release of current-era Guided by Voices. The clever and tender turns of phrase in “She Lives in an Airport” make me believe that there is no more talented songwriter than Robert Pollard. He makes me want to quote lyrics, which is something I’ve vowed never to do in music writing.
Check out "She Lives in an Airport" in the free download below, and then dig in to all three albums from 2012 right away; true to form, Guided by Voices has a new record called English Little League coming out sometime in the first half of 2013.
Sound it Out # 38: Lord Huron - “Time to Run”
Record labels tend to release best-of collections and superstar schlock (now approaching: new Aerosmith, Ne-Yo, Kid Rock, and a Backstreet Boys Christmas album) around the end of the year, and I’m having a hard time finding new music to recommend. Every once in awhile, though, an indie artist is brave enough to put their music up against the 4th quarter sludge heap. Lord Huron’s new record Lonesome Dreams came out about a month ago and it’s all I want to listen to.
Lord Huron started as just Ben Schneider, a Michigan-born Navy brat with fond memories of his father playing guitar around a campfire at (you guessed it) Lake Huron. Ben’s since moved to LA and morphed Lord Huron into a 5-piece melodic hootenanny machine. The songs are lush and accomplished and feel perfect for this time of year. “Time to Run” is my favorite song, and the band is giving us a free download for a week. Start your holiday playlists here.
Click to watch Chaos the Great Dane give birth to her litter sometime really soon. She's looking mighty uncomfortable right around now.
Video: Lego reenactment of the Stratos jump from this morning. Scale 1:350. That was fast!
Scene from “Where the Wild Things Are” from the Aldeburgh Festival, directed by Netia Jones
Video artist Netia Jones holds a 21st century-style Wild Rumpus in the LA Phil’s production of Oliver Knussen’s opera version of Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are. With Sendak’s blessing, Jones devised a multimedia marvel where live opera singers are projected into Sendak’s world, creating an environment where monsters react to the onstage performers and vice versa.
The opera, written by Knussen in conjunction with Sendak, features honorary Wild Thing Gustavo Dudamel leading the LA Philharmonic in the loud, blustery and…well, wild affair.
Gustavo Dudamel and a "Wild Thing". illustrations © Maurice Sendak, images by Netia Jones
If you grew up with Sendak’s books and happen to be in Los Angeles this weekend, I highly recommend this performance. You can get tickets here.
Disclosure: I work for the LA Phil.
I love firemen! I love brotherhoods! I love gay marriage! This ad has everything!
Justin Timberlake just unveiled a video that shows off the new MySpace beta.
It appears that they're hoping to build on their popularity with musicians and the UI looks pretty nice. No word yet on when this will be open to the public.
Sound it Out # 37: Jenny O. - “Automechanic” (MP3)
I posted Jenny O.’s first single almost a year ago. At that time, Jenny was just getting started - she had moved from NY to LA and had a five-song EP called “Home” that she released herself. Since then, all five songs on “Home” have been featured on TV series, car commercials and video games...some of them in all three. Jenny has toured the country a few times, played a residency in LA, turned some heads at SXSW, and made a new record. She's on a roll.
The new album is called Automechanic and though Jenny has been courted by record labels large and small, she opted to put it out on her own imprint, Holy Trinity, on February 5th. There’s a purity and a fire to Jenny O. that I find irresistible. Her almost child-like voice is an evocative counterpoint to the confidence and complexity of her music.
Here’s a free download of the title track from Automechanic. Thanks Jenny!
Sound it Out # 36: Earlimart - “97 Heart Attack” (MP3)
Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray make records as Earlimart and also help other artists make theirs. Aaron owns The Ship Recording Studio in LA, which evolved from a group of friends who liked to drink beer and play music to a place where artists from around the globe come to make records.
The studio employs the latest recording technology, but Aaron also likes to toy with old-school techniques.
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Sound it Out # 35: Divine Fits - “Would That Not Be Nice”
Divine Fits is a great band that plays melodic indie rock. I saw their seventh-ever live show last week and they played with a reckless joy that one rarely sees these days. They have two singers who also swap out guitar and bass duties; I loved watching them switch instruments in a silly and complicated maneuver that that resembled a wrestler’s tag-out move. They played their hearts out and seemed to enjoy every sweaty minute. There was a sense in the audience that we were sharing something special.
This is a new band, but these dudes are probably not new to you. Divine Fits is Britt Daniel (Spoon), Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade & Handsome Furs) and Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks). They’ve made a fun and cohesive record (coming out Tuesday) titled A Thing Called Divine Fits.
“Would That Not Be Nice" is sung by Britt and features a beefy bassline and synthy keyboards by Alex Fischel. Grab the free song below and don’t forget to buy the record on Tuesday.
Sound it Out # 34: Diamond Rings- "I’m Just Me” (MP3)
When I was a naive and confused tween, I yearned to lose my virginity to Boy George. I later learned that a few of my male friends shared this same fantasy. Now a new generation of youth gets to feel this way about Diamond Rings.
John O is Diamond Rings. It would be easy to dismiss him as a post-80’s mix of Vanilla Ice and Max Headroom if he weren't so adorable and talented. I saw him play a small showcase last week and he completely owned the room by throwing himself into his performance. He danced on tables and vamped like he was playing in a vast stadium instead of a tiny room holding fewer than 100 people. John's persona is a crazy mix of macho and effeminate and the show could have been ridiculous if it hadn't been delivered with such complete confidence and charm.
If there’s any justice in this world, this new Diamond Rings song will be a massive hit. “I’m Just Me” is a perfect summery club anthem with a great message about being yourself. Download it below.
Back in May, I posted about a nearby Little Free Library I happened upon, and promised to open my own. Well, we did it yesterday. You can see it in person here.
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