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. Read the rest
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!
Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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! Read the rest
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. Read the rest
Sound it Out # 48: Lightning Dust - “Diamond” (MP3)
This song gives me an ache. A good kind of ache. I get a delicious tightening in my chest that can only be (temporarily) relieved by hitting PLAY again.
Josh Wells and Amber Webber are Lightning Dust. They’re from Vancouver, BC and create wonderfully intimate music. They also play in a fantastic rock-your-face-off band called Black Mountain that couldn’t be more unlike this project.
Grab a free download of “Diamond” below for 48 hours...starting now! Their new album Fantasy is out on June 25. Read the rest
Sound it Out # 47: The Shouting Matches - “Avery Hill” (MP3)
Do you, like me, have a secret love for straight-ahead 70’s rock? If so, that means we can enjoy together the blues guitar and gruff vocals of The Shouting Matches.
The singer and songwriter of The Shouting Matches is Justin Vernon, who you probably know better as the frontman for Bon Iver. He’s busy with a wide variety of musical projects including the collective known as Gayngs, and is featured on a few Poliça songs (including this brand new one). The Shouting Matches played their first show nearly seven years ago, but have just now released their debut record. It’s called Grownass Man and it’s a shit ton of fun.
Go ahead and download “Avery Hill” by The Shouting Matches below. Read the rest
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! Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest