Tuesday, March 29, 2016

#BestNewMusic 2016 Vol.3

In the March edition of #BestNewMusic we are featuring tracks from the latest releases by Quilt, Autolux, Primal Scream, Bob Mould, Big Ups and The Veldt: "Roller" is taken from Quilt's third album "Plaza", one of our favorite records of the month, "Soft Scene" is the new single off "Pussy’s Dead", the first LP by Autolux since 2010 which is expected on April 1st, "Where The Light Gets In" marks the return of Primal Scream with their eleventh studio album "Chaosmosis", "Voices in My Head" heralds the arrival of the latest solo work by the legendary Bob Mould, "National Parks" introduces us to Big Ups' sophomore album "Before a Million Universes", while "Sanctified" is the opening track from The Veldt's mixtape EP "The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation", a must-hear for fans of bands like A.R. Kane or Slowdive. Have a listen:

Quilt - Roller

Autolux - Soft Scene

Primal Scream feat. Sky Ferreira - Where The Light Gets In

Bob Mould - Voices in My Head

Big Ups - National Parks

The Veldt - Sanctified

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hits, Cult Classics & Obscurities: 1986

It's been a while since the last post in our "Hits, Cult Classics & Obscurities" series, so I'll start by reminding you that the simple idea behind it, is to pick a year and then select three great songs released as singles that fall in one of these three categories, based on the level of their critical and commercial success.

Last year, when we did our first post in this series, we started by going back 30 years to 1985. This is exactly what I'm going to do for the reboot: time for a flashback to 1986 for three, pretty "funky" songs; one that you definitely know, one that you probably do and one that the odds are you're hearing for the first time:

Run DMC - Walk This Way

The more than 27 million views of this video on YouTube really says it all about the level of success for Run DMC when they had the brilliant idea to cover Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" with the participation of its songwriters, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. The song became the first hip hop single to crack the US Top 5 and helped "Raising Hell", Run DMC's third LP, to achieve triple-platinum status and become the first rap album to reach Number One in the charts. This was not the first track to bring hip hop and rock together, but its unprecedented level of success birthed the rap-rock hybrid and opened the doors of the mainstream to hip hop music.

Julian Cope - World Shut Your Mouth

"World Shut Your Mouth" was the title of Julian Cope's first solo album in 1984, a few years after the demise of The Teardrop Explodes, one of the key bands of the post-punk Liverpool scene of the late '70s - early '80s era. The song of the same title surfaced two years later when it was released as the single to prepare the ground for Cope's third solo LP, "St. Julian", which followed in March 1987.

The upbeat single became Cope's biggest commercial success, reaching the Top 20 in the UK and even managing an entry into the US Top 100. The 12-inch version of the single is highly recommended as there you can also find a Trouble Funk remix of the title song, as well as two killer cover versions of the 13th Floor Elevators' "(I've Got) Levitation" and Pere Ubu's "Non-Alignment Pact", two of Julian Cope's favorite bands.

The Spikes - River of Love

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is a video for The Spikes' 1986 single "River Of Love", as the band from Adelaide, Australia that was active between 1983 and 1986 never found much commercial success and an internet search of their name will not give you back many useful results (apparently there was also an Irish band with the same name in more recent years).

The Spikes made their debut in 1983, a fine era for Australian rock, with the excellent single "She’s Melting" which was released on Greasy Pop Records, a label founded by their guitarist Doug Thomas. After the 1984 mini LP "Six Sharp Cuts" and another single ("Bloody Mess") the next year, they released in 1986 their first and last album "Colour In A Black Forest", a great "lost" garage-rock gem of the '80s, which opened with the funky bass line of "River Of Love", also released as a 7-inch single. I could say that this was a track ahead of its time, as it was bringing together rock and dance grooves a few years before the rock-dance crossover started to rise in popularity in the UK indie scene of the late '80s - early '90s. Unfortunately the The Spikes were from a different continent and a few years too early for that, so they remained a name known only to those few who kept an ear to the underground Aussie rock scene of the '80s. Not that the rock-dance thing was their main style. Check out here "Colour In A Black Forest" to better understand why The Spikes deserved a wider audience.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Listening Habits 02.2016

Our February list of favorite albums is the first one to feature mostly 2016 releases and among them at least two that already have earned a place in our shortlist for "Album of the Year"!

DIIV’s sophomore album "Is The Is Are" comes almost four years after their debut "Oshin", a record with strong moments, like the excellent single "Doused", that despite its ups and downs left the promise of greater things to come from Zachary Cole Smith and his band. After a period of turmoil for the DIIV front man, his band resurfaced last year with a handful of exciting new songs and some very promising live shows indicating that DIIV were back on track again. 

Indeed the new, incomprehensibly titled, 63-minute long double album "Is The Is Are" is nothing less than a triumph for DIIV, featuring 17 equally strong tracks, buzzing with melodic guitars and powerful rhythms. Dream pop meets krautrock influences, '80s new wave melodies clash with grunge-era raw energy and the end result is fresh, intoxicating 21st century rock’n’roll.

Two more sophomore albums complete our Top 3 for this month. Savages’ perfectly formed debut "Silence Yourself" took 2013 by storm, ending up among the top positions of many year-end lists (no. 3 in ours). The equally strong "Adore Life", bristling with life-affirming new rock anthems like "The Answer", "T.I.W.Y.G." or "I Need Something New", showcases a more mature and confident band that looks certain to repeat the triumph this year. It is so far the album we have played the most during the first couple of months of 2016, with the more recent DIIV release gaining momentum and closing the gap lately.

The third sophomore release that completes the month's Top 3 was certainly more of a surprise to me. Daughter’s atmospheric 4AD debut "If You Leave" didn’t raise too much the profile of the band and it was actually Warpaint’s remix of "Winter" that made me notice them. The two excellent singles that came at the end of 2015, "Numbers" and "Doing the Right Thing", showed the band’s true potential and now their second album "Not to Disappear" comes to prove that Daughter can create majestic, sad and beautiful music that fits right in with the great, dark pop tradition of their label.

Here are the lists of our favorite albums and tracks for February 2016:

Top 10 Albums

1.  Is The Is Are - DIIV
2.  Adore Life - SAVAGES
3.  Not To Disappear - DAUGHTER
5.  Emotional Mugger - TY SEGALL
6.  Jet Plane And Oxbow - SHEARWATER
7.  Blackstar - DAVID BOWIE
8.  The Waiting Room - TINDERSTICKS
9.  Distractions - SAUNA YOUTH
10. Art Angels - GRIMES

Top 10 Tracks

1.  The Wheel - PJ HARVEY
2.  T.I.W.Y.G. - SAVAGES
3.  Is The Is Are - DIIV
4.  Cathy With The Curly Hair - ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER
5.  Doing The Right Thing - DAUGHTER
6.  Were We Once Lovers? - TINDERSTICKS
7.  Lazarus - DAVID BOWIE
8.  Filaments - SHEARWATER
9.  Emotional Mugger / Leopard Priestess - TY SEGALL
10. The Bridge - SAUNA YOUTH

Diiv - Bent (Roi's Song)