Boing Boing 

Drowners - "Luv, Hold Me Down" (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 68: Drowners  - "Luv, Hold Me Down" (free MP3)

New wave music ruled my teenage world. The swirly guitars and romantic vocals of bands like Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure and The Smiths gave me great joy back in the 80s and still do today. It’s no wonder then that the Drowners debut album totally pushes my buttons. It has that perfect blend of punchy pop backdrops and moody lyrics that would satisfy any petulant teen, even the one you still carry around inside you.

“Luv, Hold Me Down” is the epitome of this. Grab it now and see if you feel the same way.

OFF! - “Void You Out” (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 67: Off!  - “Void You Out” (free MP3)

 The men of OFF! have some harcore credentials...literally. Even though members Keith Morris (singer for Circle Jerks and Black Flag), Steven MacDonald (bassist for Redd Kross), Dmitri Coats (singer for Burning Brides) and Mario Rubalcaba (drummer for Rocket from the Crypt and Hot Snakes) have lives and children and responsibilities now, they obviously haven’t left behind their joy of stripped down thrash rock.

OFF! has a new album of old-school punk rock gems called Wasted Years coming out on April 8, and all 16 songs on it were recorded and written live in the studio. It’s kind of funny to think about, but OFF! are professionals. They’re the punk equivalent of studio musicians and it’s easy to imagine them spitballing songs and getting right down to the business of punching you in the face with their music.

“Void You Out” clocks in at a little over a minute, but packs in all the fury and melody one could want. Get it below.

 

Tokyo Police Club - “Hot Tonight” (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 66: Tokyo Police Club  - “Hot Tonight” (free MP3)

I must apologize in advance. This song is going to stick in your head, and it’s not going to leave you alone for a long time. It has wormed its way into my brain and literally kept me awake at night.

Toronto indie band Tokyo Police Club has always shown a strong a pop sensibility, but they’ve written a hit song of boy-band proportions with “Hot Tonight.” It’s the first single from their upcoming album Forcefield, most of which is rougher around the edges than this glossy ditty. You can pre-order the record at their Pledge Music page along with a bunch of fan-pleasing bundles.

We have a free download of “Hot Tonight” for two days only. Listen at your own risk.

Total Slacker - "Sometimes You Gotta Die" (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 65: Total Slacker  - "Sometimes You Gotta Die" (free MP3)

It’s hard to take Total Slacker seriously. Get past their name and you still have four people in their twenties wearing 90’s “fashion”. We’re talking high-waisted, acid-washed Guess jeans, oversized jackets and bowl cuts. Singer/frontman Tucker Rountree met bassist Emily Oppenheimer at a laundromat and professes an unironic love for The Olive Garden.

But listen to their new record Slip Away (out on February 11) and you’ll realize that there’s something more going on here. The music is raw, unpolished, and passionate.

Total Slacker’s  original drummer Terence Connor was killed in a hit-and-run accident in 2012 which propelled them into a grief-induced flurry of songwriting and recording. The most obvious result is “Sometimes You Gotta Die”, a song that I think is about how sometimes the only way  to  appreciate life is to experience terrible pain. Hear and download below.

Chaos of Birds - “Rank and Ruin” (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 64: Chaos of Birds  - “Rank and Ruin” (free MP3)

Nicole Thomas and Meghan Adkins are two friends with a supernatural musical connection. They formed the legendary Seattle band Mavis Piggott in the mid-90’s,  then reunited in Oakland years later to form Chaos of Birds. Meghan is a ferocious singer and songwriter, unafraid to show vulnerability yet possessed of a voice that summons astonishing depths of rage and passion. Nicole plays drums with a effortless zeal that belies her technical skill. With Chaos of Birds, they’ve added great guitar and bass in the way of Will Morton and Matt Ray, and the result is well-crafted bluesy sludge.

Having just returned from a UK tour, Chaos of Birds are planning their next steps (take note managers, booking agents and A&R humans!), including some shows on the west coast. They recorded a couple of songs recently and I’m honored to share the first with you. It’s called “Rank and Ruin” and Meghan’s yowl never sounded better.

Barzin - "All The While" (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 63: Barzin  - "All The While" (free MP3)

It doesn’t surprise me at all that Barzin has a book of poetry out in the world in addition to his records. His songs are melancholy and ultra-verbal, avoiding easy turns of phrase or cheap rhymes. Barzin’s fourth record To Live Alone in that Long Summer (out February 25) finds him in the familiar territory of misunderstood overthinkers, frustrated with humans and craving connections. It’s odd that his songs of alienation are so comforting, but the themes are universal and Barzin just expresses them better than most of us could.

“All the While” is an especially lovely introduction to Barzin. Grab it below.

Sabina - “Toujours” (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 62: Sabina  - “Toujours” (free MP3)

You may know Sabina’s voice from her former band Brazilian Girls, though this German-Italian artist is apparently not Brazilian at all. Sabina delivers fanciful stories of talking animals and anthropomorphized objects in a sultry and matter-of-fact tone, while the music spans styles and often defies description. There’s a tone of batshit-crazy genius suffusing it all, making her debut album Toujours a whole lot of fun. It’s out on February 18.  Check out the title track below.

 

Free Music Week Starts Today!

After not hearing much that inspired me in the last months of 2013, I’ve recently been inundated with great music. And so Free Music Week returns! From today through Friday, you’ll get at least a couple of free songs a day to get you going on a diverse (and free) playlist for 2014. I hope you enjoy it!


As always, please support the artists who are sharing their music here by going to their shows or buying their records.

Rhye - “Open” (free MP3)

 Sound it Out # 61: Rhye  - “Open” (free MP3)

Mike Milosh and Robin Hannibal never meant to form a band. Milosh traveled from his native Canada to Copenhagen to mix a track for Hannibal’s band Quadron, and the two musicians discovered an affinity for making sweet music together. Rhye is all about love: not the unrequited or yearning kind (which seems to make for more natural artistic fodder), but the life-changing mutual stuff. Rhye should be on everyone’s makeout playlist.

“Open” is my favorite from Rhye’s debut album Woman. It’s a sexy song - Milosh’s androgynous vocals swirl with a layers of intoxicating beats. Download it below.

Podcast: Imagineer Rolly Crump on designing the Haunted Mansion


Jeff sez, "On episode 5 of the DoomBuggies Spook Show podcast (MP3), designer Rolly Crump gives a very candid interview in which he talks about his career working on Disneyland's Haunted Mansion with Walt Disney at WED Imagineering, and tells personal stories including the time he spent working with co-tinkerer Yale Gracey designing special effects for the Haunted Mansion, and how he was drummed out of the Haunted Mansion project after Walt died."

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Podcast: Cheap writing tricks

Here's a reading of my latest Locus column, Cheap Writing Tricks, which discusses the mysterious business of why stories are satisfying, and how to make them so:

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Podcast: Digital failures are inevitable, but we need them to be graceful

Here's a reading of my latest Guardian column, Digital failures are inevitable, but we need them to be graceful, about the social and political factors that make all the difference when choosing technologies.

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Flowers From Al, written with Charles Stross (conclusion)

Here's the second, concluding part of my reading of my 2003 short story "Flowers From Al," written with Charlie Stross for New Voices in Science Fiction, a Mike Resnick anthology (Here's part one). It's a pervy, weird story of transhuman romance.

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Flowers from Al: pervy singularity collaboration with Stross

Here's part one (MP3) of my 2003 short story "Flowers From Al," written with Charlie Stross for New Voices in Science Fiction, a Mike Resnick anthology. It's a pervy, weird story of transhuman romance.

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Listen to the most epic Beatles-Wings-Paul McCartney mixtape ever, free to download

DJ Chris Holmes, who works with Paul McCartney and often performs deejay sets as an opening act for "Macca's" live shows, shares a real gem with us: a Soundcloud mix to beat them all. Chris says:

I finally had some time to put together a mix for all of you who've been asking over the years of my beatles/mccartney stuff for tour. It's about 2hrs long. I hope you enjoy. I've had the best time in the history of the world making the tracks and putting it together.

It starts off at 88bpm and speeds up until it loops around at 176 (88bpm) completing the cycle.

It's the first time I've shared this stuff in bulk, I hope you all enjoy it.

Here is four years of my Beatles/macca mixes.

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Podcasting Lawful Interception, a Little Brother story

In this week's installment of my podcast, I break my long hiatus with the first part of a reading of my novella Lawful Interception, a sequel, of sorts, to Little Brother and Homeland. In addition to the free online read, you can buy this as an ebook single (DRM-free, of course!).

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Science show on consciousness, with Alan Moore


BBC Radio 4 has kicked off a new season of the amazing science show The Infinite Monkey Cage, and the second episode of the series is a wonderful panel discussion on consciousness called Through the Doors of Perception. This episode is greatly enhanced by the presence of Alan Moore, creator of Watchmen, Lost Girls, From Hell, and many other standout comics. Moore's contributions on the relationship of art and magic to consciousness are the most interesting parts of the show -- though the whole thing is fascinating (Download the MP3).

(Image: Alan Moore, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from mbiddulph's photostream)

Throwing Muses - “slippershell” (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 60: Throwing Muses  - “slippershell” (free MP3)

Throwing Muses haven’t released new music in ten years, though singer/songwriter Kristin Hersh has not been idle. Hersh has various solo and collaborative musical projects, released an excellent memoir called Rat Girl in 2010, and co-founded CASH Music, a non-profit that supplies open-source tools to musicians.

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Muzzling Canadian scientists: Comparing US and Canadian routine scientific secrecy


Canada's Conservative government has become notorious for muzzling government scientists, requiring them to speak through political minders (often callow twentysomethings with no science background who received government jobs in exchange for their work on election campaigns). Government scientists are not allowed to speak to the press alone no matter how trivial the subject, and the default position when reporters seek interviews is to turn them down. (Much of Canada's state-funded science pertains to the climate and the environment; Canada's Tories were elected with strong backing from the dirty tar sands and other polluting industries)

A group of University of British Columbia students decided to measure just how extraordinarily secretive science has become in Stephen Harper's Canada. Dave Ng writes:

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Doombuggies Spook Show: a history of the Haunted Mansion


Jeff Baham writes, "DoomBuggies.com, a tribute to Disney's Haunted Mansion attractions, has commemorated its 16th anniversary with the launch of an audio podcast called 'The DoomBuggies Spook Show' (MP3/Subscribe). The podcast promises interviews with Disney legends and luminaries, Haunted Mansion history, news, and features on other haunted attractions and related events. The first episode features the history of Imagineer Rolly Crump's 'Museum of the Weird,' a proposed eerie Disneyland attraction that was never developed, and Marvel Comics' attempts to resurrect the Museum of the Weird as a new comic series and franchise."

DoomBuggies Ep. 1: Seekers of the Weird (Thanks, Jeff!)

Excellent audio history of the Haunted Mansion

In this episode of the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast, there's an absolutely delightful history of the Disneyland Haunted Mansion (MP3). The hosts explain how the company wrangled and wrangled for more than a decade, trying to find the right design for a Disneyland haunted house, and how the project that emerged is the synthesis of three warring styles that converged brilliantly.

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PRI's Studio 360 on Disney parks


The PRI Show Studio 360 has released a great episode in its "American Icons" series, this one dealing with the Disney themeparks (MP3). I was delighted to be interviewed for it, and they've included our complete, unedited interview with the piece.

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Jonathan Lethem interviewed about his novel Dissident Gardens

Rick Kleffel just posted his interview with Jonathan Lethem (MP3) about Lethem's new novel, Dissident Gardens, his latest New York City novel. It's about a Sunnyside Gardens family whose matriarch, Rose Zimmer, is being drummed out of the Communist Party. What follows is comic, sweet, and thoroughly grounded in New York. Based on Kleffel's review, I can't wait to read it.

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Podcast of CJ Cherryh's award-winning story "Cassandra"

Tony sez, "Hugo winning podcast StarShipSofa has the 1979 Hugo winning short story Cassandra by C.J. Cherryh (MP3, RSS) on this week's show."

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Talking Little Brother on KQED's The Forum

I was privileged to appear on Michael Krasny's Forum on KQED in San Francisco this morning as part of the San Francisco Public Library's One City/One Book celebrations for my novel Little Brother. The KQED people already have the audio (MP3) up on the Internet, which is pretty zippy production-mojo.

Podcast: Ian Tregillis explains the Milkweed novels

Rick Kleffel interviewed Ian Tregillis, author of the amazing alternate history Milkweed books, about Nazi X-Men fighting a secret war against British warlocks. Tregillis describes the process by which he came up with the premise, and especially -- and most interestingly -- how he came up with his brilliant treatment for Gretl, a precognitive villain who is pretty much evil personified (MP3).

Poliça - “Chain My Name” (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 59: Poliça  - “Chain My Name” (free MP3)

On their second album, Shulamith, Minnesota’s Poliça bring a more aggressive sound to their languid, sexy music. Channy Leanagh’s vocals are the ghostly anchor to a dense electronica palette.

The new album is out on October 22 in the US, and right around there in other territories. It’s terrific.

“Chain My Name” is poppier than I would have ever expected Poliça to be. The driving bassline and prominent handclaps are perky foils to the band’s usual dark and moody tone. Download it below.

Audio memoir of original Disney Imagineer, with free sex-and-drugs excerpt!

Last week, I blogged about More Cute Stories: Volume 1, an audio memoir of Rolly Crump, one of the Imagineers who help build Disneyland and maintain it in its early years. I've had a chance to listen to it since then and it is fantastic. Crump is a charming raconteur, and he treats us to many fascinating remembrances that shine light on the personalities, engineering, business reality, and weird and wild times that made up the early years of Disneyland.

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Wil Wheaton's funny, raunchy comedy set


Wil Wheaton did a very funny, 30-ish minute standup set at #w00tstock 5.0, which the Alpha Geek Radio folks recorded and put in their podcast feed. Here's the MP3 -- warning, very NSFW.

AG Radio - #w00tstock 5.0 - Story Time with Wil (via Wil Wheaton)

(Image: Wil Wheaton, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from genevieve719's photostream)

Podcast: "Teaching Computers Shows Us How Little We Understand About Ourselves"

In this week's podcast (MP3/Feed), I read aloud my latest Locus Magazine column, "Teaching Computers Shows Us How Little We Understand About Ourselves," which concerns itself with the ways that we're recklessly formalizing critical elements of human identity such as "names" and "families" for the convenience of corporations and their IT systems and business-models.

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