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.
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.
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.
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.
Read the rest
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.
Sound it Out # 33: Beth Orton- "Magpie” (MP3)
I can’t think of anyone who makes more consistently beautiful, melancholy music than Beth Orton. Her songs are full of nuanced wisdom and the sound of her voice alone can make your heart delightfully heavy.
Orton's new album is her first in six years and is out on October 2nd. It’s called Sugaring Season and the songs are as lush and lovely as you would hope. Go ahead and download “Magpie” -- it’s a gift from Orton and the folks at Anti- Records.
Sound it Out # 32: Black Moth Super Rainbow - "Windshield Smasher”
There’s a guy in Pittsburgh who calls himself Tobacco. He's been making music as Black Moth Super Rainbow since 2003. His sound has transitioned from disjointed psychedelia to more guitar-heavy dance music, though all of it has a trippy element to it. It shouldn’t surprise you that people enjoy doing drugs and going to see Black Moth Super Rainbow play.
Black Moth Super Rainbow just finished a very successful (and entertaining to read) Kickstarter campaign, raising over $125,000 to release the new album Cobra Juicy. Premiums included a haunted house tour, a roller skating party and hand-painted, glow-in-the-dark masks with a USB stick jammed into the mouth like a tooth. Eric Wareheim starred in one pitch video for the campaign.
“Windshield Smasher” is the new song from Cobra Juicy. It's sort of like a malevolent stadium anthem that gets progressively weirder. Listen and download below.
BONUS: Here’s the video for “Windshield Smasher”. I tend to hate music videos, but this one kept me watching all the way through.
Sound it Out # 31: Redd Kross - "Stay Away From Downtown"
The brothers Steve and Jeff MacDonald are the core of Redd Kross, who played their first show opening for Black Flag at a middle school graduation party in 1978 (Steve was 11; Jeff was 15). The band quickly became a big part of the LA punk rock scene - their pop sensibilities and long hair made them stand out from the crowd. Their energy and charm made them beloved in nearly any setting.
As Redd Kross matured, they became more and more fascinated with pop culture; they wrote songs inspired by the likes of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, breakfast cereal, and Linda Blair. They had a few major label deals, opening spots for giant rock tours and some radio and MTV play, but somehow never acheived the success of their peers.
34 years after opening for Black Flag, Redd Kross is back with Researching the Blues, their first album in 15 years (out today!). The record is 32 minutes of melody-laden pop/rock, and “Stay Away from Downtown” is a worthy introduction to the band and the new record. Download it below.