Saturday, November 26, 2011

SONG OF THE DAY: The John Steel Singers - "You've Got Nothing To Be Proud Of"

You can't find this song on YouTube or SoundCloud. You can really only access it via YouClubVideo (whatever that sketchiness is). The John Steel Singers are relatively unknown. Hailing from Australia, their debut LP Tangalooma was released just this past year. However, each and every song of the record is a standout track. Most impressive is this track, "You've Got Nothing to Be Proud Of." The pop-glamour of this song is terrific and makes it difficult to understand exactly why this band is still flying under the radar. With cued riffs from pianos, guitars and bass extended from the steady drums, this track leads into a beautiful chorus where each part of the band comes together both with their instruments and voices. The chorus soars with the repeat of the title and floats along throughout the song. It's catchy and remarkable at the same time. 

REVIEW: The Black Keys - "Run Right Back"

Grade: 82% (B-)

The Black Keys aren't going for the pop scene with their first two releases from their upcoming LP El Camino (out December 6th). While their 2010 release Brothers garnished large pop-success, the first release from El Camino, "Lonely Boy," is a straightforward punch you in the mouth track. Meanwhile, on the second release, "Run Right Back," Dan Auerbach layers guitars on top of each other while Patrick Carney maintains a steady rhythm with his rather simplistic drum beats. Auerbach covers basic chords with a high and childish lead riff that only he could get away with. However, he even adds on another, darker and more affected guitar riff which acts as the song's bassline of some sorts… Even though it already has one. The album's producer, Danger Mouse, does a great job of synching these four guitar sounds into one cohesive unit running through the song. The vocals are worked just as they are in any other Black Keys song and Auerbach continues to sing about his love life in a biker-bar kind of way. Carney takes a simple take on this track, although he does get a chance to break out when the song slows down about three-fourths of the way through. There is no giant hook to draw in the casual listener; rather, this song is enjoyed by someone with a keen ear for what the duo is trying to do with both their music and their attitude towards making it. 

REVIEW: The Antlers - "VCR (the xx cover)

Grade: 76% (C+)

The xx are a tough band to cover. On their excellent 2009 debut, they shot lyrics back and forth between male and female about love, sex, and the stars. Their ambience is difficult to reproduce, even when they perform live. However, on the Antlers take of the track "VCR," they don't try to be anything they aren't. The Antlers clearly know what they they can do and what they they can't do. Rather than try to perfectly emulate, they do a half-their own version and half-replication. They keep the ambient noise, but produce their own. They keep the down-emotion lyrics but don't try to get too cute with the vocalization. They keep the repeated synth pattern throughout the song but they dial it back and shield it. It's missing the driving baseline and the dueling voices, but it still maintains the original's attitude and spirit. While it is still further from the original than it is closer (it is over a minute longer than the xx version), this track is a good example on how to bridge the gap between musical styles while covering an act that is not entirely within your own soundscape. 

THE DAILY SPIN: My Morning Jacket - The Tennessee Fire

In less than a week, we here at Triple B will be seeing My Morning Jacket live in San Francisco. Therefore, we are celebrating appropriately by listening to each of their albums once through each day leading up to it. Released in 1999, the bands debut The Tennessee Fire garnered minimal acclaim in the US while is enjoyed success overseas in Europe. The album is ripe for the season of fall; it is both dark and light, sad and happy, depressing and joyful. A young Jim James sings of teenage heartbreak, the darkness of twilight and even his prospects of making it to hell. The excitement for the concert could not begin more perfectly than with this sixteen song record spinning in the gloomy, overcast days of Thanksgiving. Listen to this album while going through tough times, and although its darkness may seem to make things worse, the appropriateness of the lyrics only make things better and will always recall you back to those times when things were rough. 

REVIEW: Cloud Nothings - "No Future/No Past"

Grade: 85% (B)

Cloud Nothings will return with their second LP in a year on January 24th with Attack on Memory. The first bit off the follow-up to their eponymous debut is the track "No Future/No Past." In contrast to the poppy upbeat sounds of the first album, "No Future/No Past" starts with slow rhythms led by the drums and the simply-put downer vocals. With some guitar riffage seemingly screwing around in the background, the song builds and the vocals increase in both volume and intensity until an explosion of slamming drums and power chords and the title being screamed into the microphone. It's very interesting to see where a band can go in a year. This song, which is longer than another from their debut by more than a minute, could give us a glimpse of the maturity of the band after a year of touring and promoting. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DOWNLOAD: The Dodos - "So Cold"

You can grab a previously unreleased track from The Dodos entitled "So Cold" by submitting your email in the box below. We highly suggest you do so. Also, you can see them perform with Neko Case on Jimmy Fallon a week from today (11/29). 








REVIEW: Phantogram - Nightlife EP

Grade: 92% (A-)

Lets be honest, bras are over rated. And when Sarah Barthel refused to wear one during Phantogram's set at Lollapalooza she was making a statement. The same can be said about how Barthel and Josh Carter have made a statement with their second official release, Nightlife. On the EP, the electro-pop tandem from New York make it clear that their 2009 debut release Eyelid Movies was no fluke. Recorded in a totally separate session than their first record, Nightlife is not only just as good if not better than their debut, but it also shows the duo's ability to stream a different style of electronic music.  

While Eyelid Movies featured dark rhythms and heavy beats, the follow-up takes the group in a more dance-pop direction with it's upbeat samples and quicker drum loops. The best example of this is on the lead single, "Don't Move." Using a solid variation of synths and samples (including a catchy little pop from the horn section), the song sets the standard for the EP with it's dance-styled drum beats. The synths move softly along the background of Barthel's vocals. Lyrically, she is even more impressive as she pushes the boundaries of her song writing abilities making both direct statements and clever remarks (ex. the chorus is "keep your body still," seemingly mocking the title). 

Both Carter's vocals and guitar work takes the back seat on most tracks like they did on the debut as the pair attempts to assert rhythms and synths as their defining characteristic. However, on "Turning into Stone," he takes the lead vocals in the main verses and his low tones supplement Sarah's voice well in the vocals. Recognizing his inability to boast a star-studded voice, he shields in with effects in the song, which is easily the EP's most impressive track.  

Guitar wise, Carter finds the perfect way to work off of the rhythms and beats Barthel creates and reinforces the driving aspects of each song. This is especially prevalent on "Make a Fist" where he plays with the riff to lead the song into the background of Sarah's vocals and then backs her up as she glides into the smoothed over chorus. 

Intriguingly, the title track shows the duo's ability to stretch out their work into other genres. Considering the back end of the band's debut got a little repetitive, the two go in a different direction with this song. While Carter leads the track with his acoustic guitar work, Sarah eventually works in some synth work and slower tempo drum beats. The song eventually grows into a mid rate track and features some electric guitar work and more driving beats.  

Phantogram's success with their follow-up shows their ability to get away from those sounds that influenced their debut and move along with their development. As they continue to tour behind this release, they will only continue to find more influences and work in newer and fresher sounds to both bridge their first two releases and then move into some different types of noise. 

SONG OF THE DAY: St. Vincent - "Cruel"

St. Vincent's newest album Strange Mercy isn't exactly poppy. However, the song "Cruel," although it still maintains some of the darker/creepier aspects of the album, is probably the most lighthearted and enjoyable song on the record. For the best example of this, point yourself only to the catchy guitar riff that Annie Clark came up with for this tune. In addition, the song features a driving drum/bass beat that maintains a upward rhythm and contains strong background keyboard work to move alongside Clark's high vocals throughout the song. Finally, some percussion samplings compliment the riff in the bridge and chorus to help the song build upon it's giddy feel. The hook is enough to be held in the back of your head all day and you'll certainly be whistling the guitar riff in the near future. 

WATCH: Foster the People - "Broken Jaw"

REVIEW: Foster the People - Torches

Grade: 93% (A)

You have heard the song. I guarantee it. You have likely hummed it without knowing, or even found yourself mumbling, "all the other kids with their pumped up kicks." Foster the People's lead single did in fact blow up this past summer. What people don't know is that that song is just a part of an overall great album. Put simply, Torches is dance music. Whether it is a dance competition in the heat of the afternoon at Lollapalooza or a hipster gathering in a loft in Brooklyn, this album could be spun for it's entirety and not one person could admit that they didn't move to the rhythms at least once. 

The tracks on Torches each sound very similar yet every single one holds it's own individual traits. With the lyrics rotating between personal romance, school shootings and everything in between, the songs are admittedly synth based yet do feature some solid guitar work. The sampling, on "Call It What You Want" for example, is noticeable but the grand piano riffs are still a major part of the core of the song. No bassline is impressive enough to wow but they are just catchy enough to be a worthy part of each song. There is a mixture of both drum machine and classic drum kit work, and on their concert closer "Helena Beat," lead singer Mark Foster duels the main drummer with a solo on a single drum at the front of the stage. Their is an emphasis on the bridges of songs considering the rather simple song set up and they tend to use the bridge as a way to briefly escape the chorus yet still keep you caught on only to hurl you right back into the chorus one last time. 

While songs like "Miss You" and "I Would Do Anything For You" do have their boyish feel (see lyric "Ooo la la, I'm falling in love"), a few listens through and you move past it and just enjoy their poppy goodness for what they are. "Don't Stop (Color On the Walls)" and "Life on the Nickel" are carefully crafted, catchy songs sure to please a casual listener (see advertisements on T.V.). 

The strength of the album, however, is in the back end with the back to back five-minute plus songs of "Warrant" and "Broken Jaw." The band gets a chance to show their serious side from the start of second to last track with it's angelic vocalizations led into a strong baseline by the percussion and covered with strong piano riffs. The lyrics are the key to these two tracks, where Foster sings "I've been judged, I've been a bug unknown." The catchy chorus still remains in "Warrant" but is non-existent for the first time during the closer. Instead, "Broken Jaw" features delicious synths for your listening pleasure. Easily the most emotionally expressive song on the album, the track also has the most impressive bridge, showing a variety of textures and a building keyboard solo that explodes into the most important part of the album, both lyrically and musically. Foster sings, "sometimes you find yourself, waiting for someone, to come around, and it's hopeless hoping to be found, then it arrives and says you're perfect my love," and then uses every fiber of his being to let out every emotion in his body as he screams "take it away." You can't not get chills. It's impossible. And then it ends just as abruptly as it started.

While it might be built to please a group of 17-year old girls, Torches is impossible to resist. Don't be shy to warm up to it once you get over all the reasons you have to not listen to it. Foster the People is certainly talented, and now that they have a lot of their pop out of them, they might head in a different direction with their next record because it may be difficult to replicate something along the lines of Torches. 

WATCH: My Morning Jacket on "Boing Boing"

REVIEW: My Morning Jacket - Circuital

Grade: 87% (B+)

By now you've probably read a lot about My Morning Jacket's sixth LP Circuital. You probably know all about it's "back to roots" nature, how it was recorded in a converted church in their hometown Louisville, Kentucky, and how it is, as some say, "circular" in fashion, spanning influences from the band's entire career. You've read about the weirdness of the single "Holdin Onto Black Metal," the transition from the first into the second track, and even the beauty that is Jim James by himself with the acoustic guitar on "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)." Let's get over all of that.

When I hear Circuital, I do think it is comparable to the band's first two records, The Tennessee Fire and At Dawn, like previous reviews have indicated. However, this comparison ends right where it begins. Musically, there is not much in common between the first two albums and their latest. I do not hear a coming of age James cooing like he does on "If All Else Fails" or the epically slow burner that is "Phone Went West." The comparison, instead, is in the reach of the songs. The album is not of the life altering magnitude of the band's middle two, It Still Moves and Z. It is more like the first two in the fashion that it is a compilation of ten solid songs put together into one for the purpose of expression. There is no "Dondante" or "Steam Engine" on Circuital. While there are classic MMJ jams found in the title track and the dark and twisted "Holdin Onto Black Metal," the album instead focuses on staying true to form, much like TTF and At Dawn had their standouts like "War Begun" and the previously mentioned PWW.  

The gong at the very start of "Victory Dance" truly does welcome in a new age of the Jacket. The song, in contrast to it's lyrics, builds like a sun rising over a distant hill, with you sitting on a bench watching, and waiting, until it climbs into the sky and flows into the southern-indie staple that is "Circuital." While MMJ has been known to release "great" songs in the past, here the standouts are thin, found in the first two tracks and the aforementioned HotBM. Replacing the southern jams are instead four solid and "good but not great" tracks in slots 3,5,7 and 8. However, each has it's own identity. "The Day is Coming" has found itself as a encore selection, with the driving drums and Two Tone Tommy's strong work on the bass. The lyrics of "Outta My System" are enough to make it enjoyable in itself alongside the pulsating tones keyboardist Bo Koster emits after the bridge and Muppets scrap "You Wanna Freak Out" is a prime example of how guitarist Carl Broemel is ever evolving the use of the steel-pedal guitar in modern music. Broemel even rocks out with his saxophone on "First Light," showing the group's ability to continually bridge genre gaps. 

Undoubtedly the LP's best track is "Holdin Onto Black Metal." The best way to describe the vocal chorus is to imagine looking up and seeing the skies open up with a thousand angels flying towards you screaming, "HOLDIN ONTO BLACK METAL." Broemel's guitar riff is catchy in a 50's groove kinda way and spooky at the very same time while James continues to get funky with not only his falsetto, but also the arrangement of his pronunciations. While the solo on the title track is great in it's own way, the one here is superior and leads you right back into the chorus like a tornado whipping you head first back into the storm.  

James makes little challenges with the lyrics throughout the record until the much disputed final two tracks. While "Slow Slow Tune" is exactly what it's title suggests, the guitar break towards the end ushers in a jamminess that is reminiscent of classic MMJ. James speaks directly to a future listener, reflecting on the power of having someone be so affected by art that you yourself put out. On the closer, the even slower "Movin' Away" is not really comparable to any the track by the quintet. While he sings about life changes and leaving a home behind, James also steps back and allows the rest of the band to take the lead, with Koster's straight up piano being somewhat of a first for the band. 

Circuital is not MMJ's best album, nor is it anywhere near it's "worst," but it seems to propel them into the stratosphere of other established bands, allowing them to go any which way with their next effort. They have added solid songs to their catalogue, and each fits into their concert sets perfectly. The aforementioned four solid tracks fit in perfectly in the middle of sets to bridge fan favorites and the epic finish of Black Metal > One Big Holiday will keep fans wanting more for years to come. Circuital is more of a set up album than it is groundbreaking, giving fans the reassurance that MMJ is here to stay and that they will continue on their path of achievement, showing they can now move on their circular path and make more records that change lives. 

WATCH: Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr - "Nothing But Our Love"

REVIEW: Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr - It's a Corporate World

Grade: 91% (A-)

It certainly is a "corporate world," from commercials to race car drivers selling their cars as moving advertisements. But then again, that encompasses a majority of this Detroit indie-rock duo. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. certainly enjoys to screw around. Whether it is their on stage race car suits or even their music video featuring them and friends in a race themselves, they known how to have fun. That is shown most through their debut LP. This record is thirty-seven minutes of relaxing and well constructed indie-pop featuring impressive guitar work shielded by cool vocals.

The album opens with two drum driven songs, which is funny considering the band doesn't include a full-time drummer. The opener "Morning Thought" samples piano noises to start and then leads in with a solid rhythm accompanied by guitar work that just slides to fit in. The soaring chorus is a summertime masterpiece which leads into the beauty of the acoustically drawn up second track. "Nothing But Our Love" includes lyrics that are somehow both intro and extroverted. The sampling moves well with the vocals that make you want to sit in a giant bean bag chair and just release all of the air in your body. With a chorus seemingly mocking the soaring heights of those of the first song, give this song a few listens before you are singing it to yourself without even knowing. 

While the lyrics are both personally relevant and socially commenting, some are simply a smack in the face. Take for example "An Ugly Person On a Movie Screen," where they sing, "you're something no one wants to see, like an ugly person on a movie screen." Songs like "Skeletons" and "When I Open My Eyes" show impressive production skills, seamlessly mixing the backing and front vocals both with effects to continue the mood of the whole record. The two can turn it up and rock too as they show on the title track and the track referring to the decrepit state of their hometown. The dance rhythms of "It's a Corporate World" lead into the back and forth chorus that encompasses the entire album as a whole singing, "it's a corporate world, I'm a corporation cutting back." On "We Almost Lost Detroit," funky keyboard work builds with straight power chords into easily the best hook on the album, with the shouting of the song's title interluded by a perfect guitar riff. 

It's clear that these guys had a lot on their minds and a lot to talk about while recording, but the album as a whole is extremely well produced and mixed. It'd be nice to have more bands emerge featuring two talented musicians who just want to screw around and make music that they seem to enjoy making and performing. 

WATCH: Fleet Foxes - "The Shrine/An Argument"

WATCH: M83 - "Midnight City" On Fallon

That sax solo is tasty live. Give Hurry Up, We're Dreaming a listen already if you haven't... Including a song about a magical frog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

VIDEO: The Rapture - "Sail Away"

The Rapture  - Sail Away (short version) from DFA Records on Vimeo.

TOURS: Smith Westerns Announce Winter 2012 Dates

Smith Westerns have announced a couple of tour dates in early 2012 in order to wrap up their support for their latest release Dye It Blonde. Check out the dates below.

01-27 Toronto, Ontario - Legendary Horseshoe Tavern
01-28 Montreal, Quebec - Il Motore
01-29 Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club
01-31 New York, New York - Webster Hall
02-01 Washington, DC - Black Cat
02-03 Chicago, IL - Metro
02-04  Milwaukee, WI - Turner Hall Ballroom

Monday, November 14, 2011

VIDEO: My Morning Jacket on... The Vampire Diaries

Hot chicks... Hot guys... Hot vampires. Oh, and some tracks off of Circuital.

Jim James on the experience:

"All of the vampires and werewolves we met on the set of The Vampire Diaries were nice regular folks just like most of us – good upstanding citizens, but forced to live with this secret tragic double-life dilemma. They treated us most fairly and with dignity and respect as they sucked our bodily fluids dry and smothered us in sexy kisses. God bless them. God bless them all."

SONG OF THE DAY: Phantogram - "Don't Move"

Don't be turned off by the title… You will do anything but stay still while listening to the top track off of the electro-pop duo's newest EP Nightlife. With it's drum machine rhythms led in by the female-voice sampling, Josh Carter's always smooth, always deceptively simple guitar riffing is introduced after a quick pop from the brass section. Let Sarah Barthel's voice carry you up to the chorus, where she slyly mocks the title singing, "keep your body still." While musically upbeat and groovy, the song's lyrics act as a personal psychiatrist, inspiring you to get over everything from your drinking problem to your inability to stop shaking in bed. This track is tasty, and I can just picture Sarah (first name basis obv) dancing at the keyboard in the drizzling rain on day two at Lollapalooza… Myself and everyone else there still finds her very attractive.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

VIDEO: Broken Social Scene - "Killing in the Name of" (Rage Against the Machine)

Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene has officially ended their tour supporting 2010's excellent Forgiveness Rock Record. Check out them performing classic "Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)" and a cover of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name of" in the encore of their final show. Also, check out the video of Kevin Drew discussing the band's hiatus below.

TOURS: Wild Flag Extend Tour

Wild Flag, who released their eponymous debut earlier this year, have announced an extension of their first tour in support. Check out the dates below via Pitchfork.

11-10 Portland, OR - Doug Fir
11-11 Seattle, WA -Neumo's
11-12 Vancouver, British Columbia - Biltmore Cabaret
12-08 London, England - The Lexington
12-09 Minehead, England - ATP
01-27 Bristol, England - Thekla
01-28 Nottingham, England - Rescue Rooms
01-29 Leeds, England - The Cockpit
01-30 Glasgow, Scotland - Oran Mor
01-31 Manchester, England - Sound Control
02-01 London, England - Electric Ballroom
03-07 Perth, Australia - The Bakery
03-09 Melbourne, Australia - Corner Hotel
03-10 Victoria, Australia - Golden Plains Festival
03-11 Brisbane, Australia - The Zoo
03-13 Sydney, Australia - Manning Bar
03-30 New Haven, CT - Toads Place
03-31 Boston, MA - Paradise
04-01 New York, NY - Webster Hall
04-02 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
04-03 Philadelphia, PA - Trocadero
04-05 Chicago, IL - Metro

DOWNLOAD/STREAM: The Black Keys - "Run Right Back"

The Black Keys, who's newest album El Camino is due out on December 6th, have leaked the B-Side of the "Lonely Boy" single, "Run Right Back," which will officially be released on Record Store Day: Black Friday, on November 25th. Check out the new track below.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NEWS: Sigur Ros to Release New Album in the Spring

Sigur Ros, who will release their live concert DVD Inni, on November 15th, announced in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that they will release a new LP in the Spring. The album was recorded after Jonsi's tour following his Go solo release (via Pitchfork).

NEWS: Tennis Announce New Album

As a follow up to this year's Cape Dory, Tennis will release their second album Young and Old on February 14th of next year. The album was recorded and produced in Nashville by The Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney (via Pitchfork).

You can listen to the newest single "Origins" below, which will be released on December 6th alongside a self-produced track "Deep in the Woods." 

NEWS: Radiohead to Release "Live From the Basement" on Blu-Ray and on iTunes

It was announced today that Radiohead's The King of Limbs: Live from the Basement will be released via iTunes on December 19th and should be out on DVD and Blu-Ray sometime in January. You can watch the recording of "Bloom" from the telecast and check out the tracklisting below via Pitchfork. In addition, Radiohead also announced tour dates a few days ago. Coachella?

01 Bloom
02 The Daily Mail
03 Feral
04 Little by Little
05 Codex
06 Separator
07 Lotus Flower
08 Staircase
09 Morning Mr. Magpie
10 Give Up the Ghost
11 Supercollider (bonus track)

DOWNLOAD/STREAM: The Antlers - "VCR" (the xx cover)

The Antlers - VCR the xx Cover by Pretty Much Amazing

Listen to the newest release from The Antlers as they cover "VCR" by the xx above. The band will be releasing an EP to follow up their excellent Burst Apart LP from earlier this year. You can check out the tracklisting below, including collaborations with Neon Indian and Bear in Heaven (via COS) and download the xx cover "VCR" via Stereogum

01. Parentheses (PVT remix)
02. Tongue Tied
03. French Exit (SNRF version)
04. I Don’t Want Love (Peter’s version)
05. VCR (The xx cover)
06. Hounds (with Nicole Atkins)
07. Rolled Together (with Neon Indian)
08. Parentheses (with Bear In Heaven)

(together) will be released on November 22nd.