Monday, January 30, 2012

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet - Leonard Cohen, Gotye, Fleet Foxes, Avett Brothers, Elbow, The National, Bon Iver

With a new year comes the waiting and the anticipation of new albums scheduled for release.  While we wait, here are a couple that are currently available for streaming in their entirety:

Leonard Cohen- After 7 years, the man who wrote one of the most covered songs ever ("Hallelujah") is back with a new album, out on Tuesday 1/31.  NPR Music is offering up a First Listen of the album in full HERE.
Old Ideas - Leonard Cohen

Gotye - Suddenly ubiquitous (thanks to the below video) Gotye is releasing his album Making Mirrors in the US on Tuesday 1/31.  My personal jury is still out on his popular single from the below cover video, "Somebody That I Used to Know", but lovers or the curious can take a listen to his album in full HERE.

Making Mirrors - Gotye

Elsewhere on the musical interwebs, the Fleet Foxes performed on "Austin City Limits" with Joanna Newsom.  Fans of my review of First Aid Kit may want to pay special attention to this (via Pitchfork):

Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

For more folky goodness, The Avett Brothers (who sing THIS song) performed a cover of Bob Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings" live on Jimmy Fallon.  Is anyone else enjoying the most recent wave of folk revival as much as I am? (via Paste)

The Avett Brothers Live, Vol. 3 - The Avett Brothers

UK band Elbow was recently profiled on NPR Music, which you can check out HERE.  For those that are unfamiliar with Elbow, they are brilliant. Check out "Lippy Kids" to get a sense of the brilliance. (via  A Heart Is A Spade)
Build a Rocket Boys! - Elbow

The National performed at the Cross-Linx music festival in the Netherlands in 2011.  Check out their performance here (via Totally Fuzzy):

The Chieftans are releasing a new album this year (2/21) and have given us a bit of a taste with a gorgeous collaboration with Bon Iver.  Bon Iver's voice sounds made for music like this.  You can check it out (via Pitchfork) HERE.
Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Listening - Snow Patrol

Some people prefer music that is heartfelt and upbeat, uplifting and optimistic.  For the rest of us, there is Snow Patrol - a band who's music more often than not leans to a darker side- in a place where the music speaks to heartbreak, hurt and loneliness.

Snow Patrol (Gary Lightbody on lead vocals, Nathan Connolly on lead guitar, bassist Paul Wilson, Jonny Quinn on drums and Tom Simpson on keyboards) released their new album, Fallen Empires, on January 10th in the US.  Admittedly taking note of Arcade Fire's The Suburbs and its bigger, more robust sound, the band set out to make an album that was different from any of their previous albums.  The result is an album that is much harder, more electronic, industrial and larger sounding than previous albums- and definitely a big step from songs of the "Chasing Cars" nature.   Snow Patrol purists will find solace in songs like "Out in the Dark" which are still along the veins of what Snow Patrol fans became used to on albums in the mid-2000's.  But there are now defiantly anthematic songs like "The Weight of Love" and the title track of the album "Fallen Empires" with its hard synth sounds and driving beats.  The album can feel disjointed at times, jumping from these hard beats into a softer more "Snow Patrol-y" sound but somehow, it works.  And often, it works because of Gary Lightbody's lyrics.

With days of liner notes long gone, lyrics can get lost in songs - but this album forces attention on the lyrical brilliance of each song, in particular the stellar, standout "This Isn't Everything You Are", the second single released off the album.  At first listen to the lyrics it brings to mind someone who desperately needs to let go of a toxic relationship: "Feels like you loved him more than he loved you, and you wish you'd never met".  The simple repetition of the words in the chorus "Don't keel over, don't keel over now" relay the simple image of someone unable to hold on.  At the peak of this sensation comes the final verse, when it becomes clear in the lyrics this song is also about much more: "When you took the call/how could you know/that he'd slipped away last night/and you wish you went home/days ago/to say goodbye or just hello".  Then, they pull off a lighter tone with lyrics in "Life-ning", a track that calls out the simple things he wants in life: kids, Ireland in the World Cup.

Overall, this album is bigger, broader, grander - but they do so without losing the simple greatness that is Snow Patrol, with their ability to pick at certain emotions that live inside everyone at one time or another in our lives.  Some songs stay safely in the territory of evoking where the band is from (Northern Ireland, Glasgow) and its sad grey skies, while some are different from this entirely.  The idea of evoking these places on previous albums lent itself to their sound, which could be partially responsible for the changes in sound on this album as the album was recorded entirely in California.   Not just anywhere, either - but some of the hottest, sunniest, happiest places in California- Joshua Tree National Park, Malibu, Topanga Canyon.  Its a strange thought to imagine songs of this nature being created in a place with a quite literally sunny disposition.

Unfortunately, Snow Patrol has decided to join the ranks of a few other recent releases (like Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto) by not allowing this album initially available on streaming services like Spotify and MOG, but you can purchase on iTunes to add it to your collection.  And with an album as full and well rounded as this, its worth it.
Fallen Empires - Snow Patrol

More of the RS acoustic set and interview HERE.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Good Things To Come

Now that the holidays are behind us, the music world seems to be waking up again, with word of a few key potential album releases this year.  While last year was a great year for music, it's looking like 2012 is shaping up to compete.  With expected releases from some big well-knowns, we can also expect huge releases from smaller known acts.  Thankfully we've got releases from artists big, small, and everything in between to look forward to in the coming months.  Here's a not-so-comprehensive list of what's to come in music.  Add those I've missed in the comments.

Tuesday 1/10
Snow Patrol- Fallen Empires
You can sample & buy the album here:

Midwestern rockers Red Wanting Blue released their 9th album (their 2nd with a label), From The Vanishing Point.  Here's their first single and the link to download on iTunes (below):

Tuesday 1/24
Ingrid Michaelson - Human Again
Tim McGraw- Emotional Traffic

Tuesday 1/31
Ringo Starr- Ringo Starr 2012

Tuesday 2/7
The Fray- Scars and Stories
Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth

Tuesday 2/14
The Cranberries - Roses
Sleigh Bells- Reign of Terror

Tuesday 3/15
The Shins- Port of Morrow

TBD's & Rumors
The Killers - While no official release date has been announced, word is they are expecting to release in summer 2012.  What we do know is that which has been announced straight from the horse's mouth (if the horse is named Brandon Flowers) - that The Killers will finally be releasing an album.  Not a Brandon Flowers solo album, not a holiday charity single, not an awesome cover for a U2 cover album, but an actual, bona-fide album by The Killers.  The last time we saw a full album was in 2008 with Day & Age, so I'm adding this one to my personal list of hotly anticipated albums this year.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - A release is slated for this year, although the release date is TBD.

Madonna - No surprise given her upcoming performance at the Super Bowl halftime show, as well as some of the demos that have recently leaked online.  The album is expected (but of course, not promised) this spring.

T.I. - After a roller coaster year that saw T.I. involved in a drug bust, in prison, then out, then back in, and talking a man off of a ledge, fans can expect his tentatively titled Trouble Man, aiming for a February release.

Pearl Jam- As of September 2011, Paste Magazine was reporting that Pearl Jam was halfway done with their new album.  No release date has been announced, but it's potentially due out in Spring of 2012.

Soundgarden- In keeping with the trend of 90's music being everywhere again, Soundgarden has been recording music and working on a new album (their first since 1996).  A potential early 2012 or Spring 2012 release.

Smashing Pumpkins - Titled Oceania, expected this spring.  With Billy Corgan the only remaining original Pumpkins member, it will be interesting to hear how the sound has evolved, although Billy has recently hinted that this is their best work since Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness.