Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet - Coldplay Covers, Bon Iver, Washed Out, Iron and Wine

With the release last week of Coldplay's new album, Mylo Xyloto, this list of Coldplay covers has surfaced (via Stereogum).  There are some great covers like Ellie Goulding's "Don't Panic", Aimee Mann doing "The Scientist", and Weezer doing "Viva la Vida", but the one to single out is by far Willie Nelson doing "The Scientist".  Willie gives this song a sense of background and wisdom it could never have being sung by anyone else.  Its quite exquisite. Check it out HERE.

As per usual, Later....with Jools Holland had Bon Iver in recently.  Pitchfork has video HERE.
REM has released two videos for their very last single, "We All Go Back to Where We Belong".  Prepare to have your heart broken HERE (via We All Want Someone To Shout For)

Washed Out visited Morning Becomes Eclectic on KCRW and performed "Eyes Be Closed" HERE

Pitchfork has a wonderful video of Iron and Wine's "Flightless Bird, American Mouth":

For more Cool Music Stuff On the Internet throughout the week, follow us on Twitter HERE

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Even Better Than The Real Thing (Sometimes) Part Tres - The Q Magazine Achtung Baby Edition

We all know how much I appreciate a good cover.  The operative word here is "good"- as we all know, there are plenty of shit covers out there. (Like THIS ONE....blech).

We also all know I've been somewhat obsessed with the recent undertaking by Q Magazine to create an album of covers-- all of U2's Achtung Baby, all done by other artists.  Various tracks have leaked giving us a glimpse into some of the songs- some have been downright amazing (see: Damien Rice Covers "One"), and some...notsomuch.

Q Magazine released the CD today and ...hang the dj has the full track listing HERE, or you can listen to the full album on Soundcloud HERE.

While "One" is a heavily covered song, there aren't many other U2 songs that you'll hear frequently covered, so I've been particularly interested to hear the rest of the tracks.  There are some interesting artists on this project- Nine Inch Nails, The Fray, The Killers, Jack White, Depeche Mode, Patti Smith, Garbage, Damien Rice, Glasvegas, Gavin Friday, and Snow Patrol.  My initial expectation was that if you are going to undertake such a lofty project, it had better deliver.  Unfortunately it falls fairly short- while there are some standouts, there are also some downright not good covers, and some that could have been great, but just miss the mark.

I'll let you decide which tracks fall on the mediocre-or-worst side of things, but here are my favorites:

Damien Rice "One"

Depeche Mode: "So Cruel"

The Fray "Trying to Throw Your Arms Around the World"
This is one of the most spectacular standouts on the album- U2 songs can be difficult to master as a cover due to The Edge's unique guitar and Bono's emotive voice- but Isaac Slade of The Fray also has a highly emotive voice (meaning, there is so much emotion in his voice it sounds like he's actually living out the song as he's singing it), so it works beautifully.

Jack White: "Love is Blindness"
Is there anything Jack White can't do? Probably not, and here's more proof- he's somehow taken a low and growling song and turned it into his own brand of anguish.

Achtung Baby - U2

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday Listening - Coldplay

Coldplay's last album, Viva La Vida, came out three years ago, keeping roughly with their previous schedule of album releases.  Yet somehow, this album seems to be their most anticipated to date.  Has Coldplay reached a tipping point?

If you listened to Mylo Xyloto then listened to Coldplay's first album, Parachutes, it would be hard to believe they even came from the same band.  Their first three albums (Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head, and X&Y) seemed to follow a natural progression- their standard slow and melodic sound transformed with each album into something more robust, but in a hesitant way, as if they were searching for something but hadn't yet found it.  That hesitation was shattered with producer Brian Eno on 2008's Viva La Vida.  Eno (who's also the powerhouse behind numerous albums such as U2's No Line On The Horizon, and Zooropa), managed to pull out of the band the layered musicalities that now make up their songs. 

Now enter Mylo Xyloto.  Again with Eno's help, they have matured into a sound with layers and layers of ambient sound, yet with driving and twisting guitar that makes certain parts of Mylo Xyloto sound almost Achtung Baby-esque (See: "Major Minus")- if not in sound, then at least in spirit. 

Major Minus - Mylo Xyloto
While some pieces are a bit disjointed (See: "Up In Flames") Mylo Xyloto has an almost concept album feel.  Interspersed in between songs are musical interludes, giving way to a nonstop flow of music.  (Try listening on shuffle and you'll find it difficult- its meant to be played from start to finish as one).  Whether this album styling was done with blind indifference to the single-listening format dominating music today- or perhaps as a giant middle finger to it, is anybody's guess.  Regardless, just when you think Coldplay's evolution from indie moody band into a bona-fide rock and roll band is completing itself on this album, the mood shifts back.  Pinpointing a particular mood or genre becomes elusive.  
(See: "Paradise")

Paradise - Single - Coldplay
This album seems to be completing something that was started with Viva la Vida.  The tone is decidedly more...happy.  (See "Hurts Like Heaven").  That depressing and lilting brit-pop sound is now...uplifting.  Energetic.  Like they have finally found the thing they were searching for on X&Y and Viva La Vida, complete with a sound that seems to come from everywhere and nowhere at once.

Hurts Like Heaven - Mylo Xyloto
The band supposedly had said that the name Mylo Xyloto came from a discussion about what music feels like - music that comes through your fingers and toes, as if you had musical digits- Mylo Xylotos.  Like music is coming from everywhere and nowhere at once.  Like it is everything and nothing the band's sound has been in the past.  The slow, creeping songs that were once the hallmark of Coldplay's haunting sound is giving way to robust melodies, heavy, hard-driving, dare-I-say-it fist pumping beats and chord resolutions that are incredibly satisfying.(See: "Charlie Brown")

Charlie Brown - Mylo Xyloto
This is a solidly transforming album for Coldplay- many who would not give Coldplay a listen or thought over the years should take special notice and give this a listen.  You might surprise yourself...and all your Mylo Xylotos.

Buy Mylo Xyloto Here:

Mylo Xyloto - Coldplay

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Flashback - The Who

I have a soft spot in my heart for The Who.  I happened to hold The Who partially responsible for fueling my adult life's passion for music.  I've always loved music, enough so that when I was a mere 19 years old I had the foresight to buy a ticket to a concert to see The Who.  This was well after Keith Moon's passing (incidentally, in the same flat that Mama Cass from The Mamas and The Papas had died in), but prior to John Entwistle's passing.  Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son) played drums.  And this concert changed my life.  Its the beauty of live music.  I had never seen anything like it.

The Who has been back in the news with the current Roger Daltrey tour of Tommy, which has put The Who back in the front of my mind for go-to music.  And my go-to hasn't changed.  For me its not Tommy.  Its Quadrophenia.

Quadrophenia came out as the band's 6th album, and second concept album/rock opera (after Tommy).  Like Tommy, it tells a story throughout the album, here with the protagonist going through a realm of psychiatric experiences, arguments, and internal struggles, before culminating in a personal revelation.  It is said that the protagonist represents various parts of The Who members' personalities (Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon).  Keith's fantasmical, staccato, frantic drumming is especially notable on this album, as is Roger Daltrey's voice.  In short, its a stellar piece of work that every rock fan should be familiar with (no matter what your age).

Bell Boy

During the recording of Quadrophenia, Pete Townshend took a recorder to various places, picking up sounds that made it onto the album- most notably the sound of ocean waves crashing, which ushers in the album calmly on "I Am The Sea", is heard throughout, and then ushers out the album in a climax of "Love, Reign O'er Me".

There is no other song like it.
Love, Reign O'er Me

Like most other concept/rock opera albums, its impossible to fully appreciate it (or in this case, fully understand it) without listening to the entire album, from start to finish.  I realize that listening to a full album is a lost art form now and we've reverted back to the single being king, but as a music fan- do yourself a favor.  Buy the album- the whole album.  Then go somewhere quiet.  Put on some headphones. And blast it.  You'll never hear anything like it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Damien Rice Covers "One" by U2

We've recently been hearing lots about how Q Magazine is going to be coming out with an album of U2 covers, all from Achtung Baby.  We've also heard that as part of this, Damien Rice would be covering "One" and The Killers would be covering "Ultraviolet". We've already heard Jack White cover "Love Is Blindness" with pretty solid results, but personally I am stoked to hear Damien Rice and The Killers.  While we'll still need to wait a bit longer for The Killers, this week we have been blessed with Damien Rice's cover of "One".  And blessed is just about the most perfect word for a cover like this.  (And I love a good cover).

Damien Rice's "One" has an emphasis on the redemptive qualities of the song with his take- the piano arpeggio interspersed throughout lends itself to a more resolute quality, an unexpected turn.  Let's be clear, the original can't be touched, but this is a great example of how an artist can take another artists' piece and completely re-imagine it into their own.  Its incredibly simple, incredibly understated, and incredibly powerful.  It's incredibly..."One"...

One by u2mexico

Achtung Baby - U2

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Listening - Jane's Addiction

Today's Tuesday Listening is about a band that's been around for a long, long time - off and on since 1985.  And today is the release of their fourth album.

Before we move on, I'll let that sink in.  A band that's been around since 1985.  The members are forces in their own right individually.  With a lead singer that started Lollapalooza. And this is only their fourth album.

In any case, if we are only to get one album every decade or so from Jane's Addiction, it better be good.  This album, The Great Escape Artist, does not disappoint. The first song on the new album, "Underground", makes me want to turn my speakers up as loud as they'll go.  It also kind of makes me want to play a bad-ass vigilante in an explosive action movie.  But I digress.

In the current single from the album, Irresistible Force, the vocals are as if from someone else in the first few notes.  Here, Perry Farrell's vocals are initially reminiscent of "Everybody Knows" by Leonard Cohen before reverting back to unmistakeable and familiar Perry Farrell, but perhaps that's just my brain reverting back to 1990 when Pump Up the Volume came out and so did Ritual de lo habitual.  "Jane Says" was still on repeat in my circles at the time as well, so perhaps its my natural inclination to think back to early 90's Jane when I listen to this album.

"Words Right Out of My Mouth" is a hard rocking track that really lets Dave Navarro shine, while "Broken People" is melancholic and much slower than Jane's Addiction fans are accustomed to hearing.  Their fans have grown up, and clearly, so has their sound.

Click on song titles above to listen, and you can buy it here:

The Great Escape Artist (Deluxe Version) - Jane's Addiction

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Clinton Concert - Usher, Lady GaGa, Bono & Edge, Kenny Chesney

Great things happen when stars align.  This weekend stars of the celebrity variety aligned at the Hollywood Bowl for a little celebration for the William J. Clinton Foundation's 10th year anniversary.  Good will, good deeds, and great stories came out of the evening.  And so did some great musical performances.

Regardless of what you think of the man or his politics, or anything else for that matter, it's no secret he loves music.  This night was clearly no exception, with performances by Stevie Wonder, Usher, Lady Gaga, Kenny Chesney, K'naan, Juanes, and Bono and The Edge.   The concert itself was nearly 4 hours long with varied interstitials (I'd suggest skipping right to the music).  Yahoo! is currently airing the entire concert on its website.   Here are some of the highlights to come out of the evening.

Stevie Wonder doing For Once In My Life
This song starts at 3:57 and he rocks it.  He also sings Overjoyed and rocks it.  He also sings...oh hell, just watch his whole performance- its well worth it.
Stevie Wonder: The Definitive Collection - Stevie Wonder

Usher Covers With A Little Help From My Friends (and he nails it)
Raymond v Raymond - Usher

Kenny Chesney sings You and Tequila with Grace Potter
Hemingway's Whiskey (Deluxe Edition) - Kenny Chesney

Lady Gaga sings You and I
Yahoo! is only showing her whole performance, but I'd suggest heading right to You and I.  She does a large set with Born This Way, Edge of Glory, Bad Romance and finally, You & I, but the vocals & dance on Edge of Glory are just meh. (at best), and there's a lot of yappin' if you're like me (as Toby Keith says, a little less talk and a lot more action) skip ahead to 23:55.  Her vocals are killer on You and I.
Born This Way (Bonus Track Version) - Lady GaGa

Annnnd...the piece de resistance...the entire performance by The Edge and Bono.  They perform Desire, Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Between A Man and A Woman, a very poignant performance of Sunday Bloody Sunday, a performance of One with a full string section, and Miss Sarajevo.  Bono's voice sounded extraordinary this night, particularly on Miss Sarajevo (he belts out the Pavarotti part in stellar fashion), reminding us all why he's called Bono (from the Latin phrase bonovox, meaning "good voice").

All you need is an acoustic guitar, three chords and the truth.
Achtung Baby - U2

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Flashback - Pink Floyd

Lately, Pink Floyd has been everywhere, due to the release of their entire set of remastered works.  Jimmy Fallon honored the band with a week's worth of Pink Floyd tunes, performed by various artists like MGMT and the Foo Fighters.  NPR Music had an intern who had never heard Dark Side of the Moon (say what?) review it for their website.  Dark Side of the Moon was on the cover of the recent Rolling Stone (its 2011!).  Roger Waters went on tour with a full, life-size production of The Wall.   And at the London stop of this tour, the unthinkable happened with David Gilmour and Roger Waters reuniting for Comfortably Numb.

With all this recent exposure, I'm reminded why Pink Floyd is one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time.  They've been through many iterations to get to this point, with significant experiences contributing to their sound, weaving an intricate pattern of sounds and imagery for its listeners.  Here are a few of those sounds to remind us all why they rock.

From: Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here (Remastered) - Pink Floyd
Shine on You Crazy Diamond
Written by Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Richard Wright, this epic piece is said to be based on founding band member Syd Barrett, who left the band shortly after Gilmour's arrival in 1968.  Syd's reported heavy LSD use and psychotic mental decline eventually led to bizarre behavior on and off stage, leading to his departure.  The day Pink Floyd recorded this song in the studio in 1975, Syd showed up unexpected, but no one recognized him initially due to weight gain and the fact that he'd shaved off all his hair and eyebrows.  This was supposedly the last time any of them ever saw Syd.  Syd finally lived out his life with an attempt at removal from the public eye, until his death in 2006.

And, also off Wish You Were Here, just because it never, ever, ever gets old:
Wish You Were Here

From The Wall:

The Wall (Remastered) - Pink Floyd
Roger Waters conceived of The Wall after a difficult tour, where Waters frequently felt separated (as if by a wall) from the audience.  The album was created in addition to the film The Wall, which addresses various themes such as abandonment, authority issues, and mental anguish- themes not unfamiliar to the band in real life.  Roger Waters' own father passed in WWII and in the movie The Wall, the main character (Pink, played by Bob Geldof) starts off as a boy who's father's death in the war provides him with feelings of abandonment (as actually happened to Roger Waters).  Growing up alone and antagonized in the company of other authority figures, Pink slowly continues to build his metaphorical wall.  He becomes a troubled rock star and the final building of the wall is accelerated.  All of this only further serves to contribute to his seemingly growing loss of a grip on reality.  Many themes from this album and movie ran parallel to real life with Pink Floyd's relationship to Syd Barrett, who experienced a similar mental fate.

The movie The Wall is overflowing with intense imagery, using animation and psychedelic ambiance.  There is no script, per se- the entire movie's sound is the album The Wall from start to finish.

Goodbye Blue Sky

Another Brick in the Wall Part 1


From: Dark Side of the Moon

The Dark Side of the Moon (Deluxe Experience Version) [Remastered] - Pink Floyd
Perhaps Pink Floyd's most epic album, its hard to pick single tracks to highlight, since the album as a whole it like one giant song.  Not the first and not the last of the concept album genre, but certainly one of the most profound and popular.  Drunk and high college students everywhere have been exposed to Pink Floyd and Dark Side of the Moon because of the rumor that it syncs up with The Wizard of Oz.   If you haven't seen it, it is quite creepy, but band members have maintained its all a coincidence.  But judge for yourself HERE.

In any case, as with most Pink Floyd albums, there are recurring themes throughout- varying stresses, money/greed, life and death, and once again- a breakdown of the mind.  And some serious wailing by a female vocalist (Clare Torry) on The Great Gig in The Sky.

The Great Gig in the Sky

And one of the greatest endings to any album ever:

From: A Momentary Lapse of Reason

A Momentary Lapse of Reason (Remastered) - Pink Floyd
Normally, when bands begin to fragment and members begin going their own ways- particularly a figure like Roger Waters- the band begins a slow decline.  Especially when departures are as contentious as they were here.  But despite the absence of Roger Waters post-1986, Pink Floyd as a band continued.  Without Rogers the bands sound changed, but one could argue it simply continued.  The anthematic and soaring sounds of latter Pink Floyd albums are what one could imagine the evolution of what the Pink Floyd sound would become.

On The Turning Away

From: Division Bell

The Division Bell (Remastered) - Pink Floyd
Keep Talking

Take It Back

Buy the Pulse DVD here: Pink Floyd
Pulse (Live) - Pink Floyd

More on the Pink Floyd reissues HERE

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday Listening - Peter Gabriel

Those of you that may have heard that Peter Gabriel was releasing a new album, New Blood, this week may have been disappointed to find that the new album is not chalk-full of new tracks, as many a Peter Gabriel fan has long awaited.  A quick glance at the track listing simply shows familiar favorites - In Your Eyes, Red Rain, Don't Give Up, Solsbury Hill- and may lead one to believe that this album is just another remastered attempt by an artist to sell more albums of the same music.  That maybe, Peter Gabriel has just been too busy looking exactly like Paulo Coelho (author of The Alchemist)

No?? Just me?? 

In any case, if you thought any of this, you would be hugely mistaken.  

While New Blood is not full of new songs, the album is full of re-arranged and re-imagined songs, in such a way that they sound new.  On New Blood, Mr. Gabriel takes his works and reinterprets them in an orchestral way, allowing for the full expansive expression of his songs.  Its as if these songs were always meant for this iteration, and they are just now finding their full realization, coming into their full bloom. has three tracks up for exclusive streaming from New Blood.  Check out San Jacinto.  In the meantime, here's a sneak peak of Red Rain:

Buy New Blood:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet - U2, Jack White, Band of Horses, Adam Duritz, Laura Marling

In honor of Achtung Baby's 20th anniversary (man do I feel old) and forthcoming reissue (October 31),  Q Magazine will be releasing a compilation of U2 covers in its October 25th issue.  According to Consequence of Sound and Twenty Four Bit, we can look forward to covers from the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Patti Smith, Depeche Mode, The Fray and more- all doing covers from U2's epic album.  Personally, I can't wait to hear Damien Rice do One and The Killers do Ultraviolet.

Achtung Baby - U2

Band of Horses Guitarist Covers Cyndi Lauper
We all know how much I love a good cover. Like, really a lot.  Especially the unexpected ones.  Which is why I like this cover by Band of Horses' guitarist doing Cyndi Lauper's "All Through the Night" (via Cover Me Songs)

The Essential Cyndi Lauper - Cyndi Lauper

Adam Duritz of Counting Crows Covers The Cars
Adam Duritz had done a week's worth of love song covers in February of this year, one of them being "You Might Think" by The Cars, of which Adam just released a video for.  How Adam manages to turn "You Might Think" into a wistful serenade is beyond me, but if there's anyone to do it, its Adam. Check it out HERE (via Cover Me Songs)

Laura Marling Live Set
Its been no secret how amazing I think Laura Marling is.  She recently performed live in D.C. and the lovely folks at NPR Music are bringing you the entire set live, HERE

A Creature I Don't Know (Bonus Track Version) - Laura Marling

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pink Floyd Week on Jimmy Fallon

Last week, in honor of Pink Floyd's recent release of remastered works, Jimmy Fallon hosted "Pink Floyd Week".  Each night of the week we were treated to Pink Floyd songs covered by some current artists, as well as some collabos with Pink Floyd members.  Here's a nice little package of the week's worth of performances, all in one spot.  Which one is your favorite?

Monday: The Shins- Breathe

Tuesday:Roger Waters/Foo Fighters- In The Flesh

Wednesday: MGMT- Lucifer Sam

Thursday: Dierks Bentley- Wish You Were Here

Friday: Pearl Jam- Mother