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Archive for May, 2011

Jagjaguwar Post Lyrics to Bon Iver’s ‘Bon Iver, Bon Iver’

Jagjaguwar has posted the official lyric sheet to Bon Iver‘s upcoming album Bon Iver, Bon Iver. The highly-anticipated follow up to 2007’s For Emma, Forever Ago is set to be released on June 21 in the US via Jagjaguwar and on June 20 in the UK and Europe via 4AD. Unsurprisingly, the lyrics are chock full of Justin Vernon’s signature undecipherable lyrics. Our favorite lines?

Here are some early contenders:

  • armour let it through, borne the arboretic truth you kept posing
    sat down in the suit, fixed on up it wasn’t you by finished closing
  • settle past a patience where wishes and your will are spilling pictures
  • …and at once I knew I was not magnificent
  • I… we’re sewing up through the latchet greens
    I… un-peel keenness, honey, bean for bean
    same white pillar tone as with the bone street sand is thrown where she stashed us at
    all been living alone, where the cracks at in the low part of the stoning
  • errant heat to the star
    and the rain let in
    the hawser rolls, the vessel’s whole and Christ, it’s thin

As for an explanation behind the album title? No official word from Vernon yet, but due to the number of location-based songs on the tracklist, Bon Iver, Bon Iver may be a play on words along the lines of “Minnesota, WI”, “Hinnom, TX” and “Lisbon, OH”.

Frank Ocean’s ‘Nostalgia, Ultra.’ to Be Released by Def Jam

When Odd Future‘s Frank Ocean released his debut album Nostalgia, Ultra. earlier this year as a free download, he took the world by storm, surprising even his own record label, Def Jam. The record label reportedly was planning on releasing Ocean’s debut album this year, but passed on it, which led to the singer to release the album on Tumblr like the other Odd Future releases.

Now, Def Jam have agreed to commercially release the album, announcing a release date of July 26th. The first single will be “Novacane”, which will be released on May 31st. We reviewed “Novacane” back in March, giving it a score of a 9/10.

Interview: Chiddy Bang

I had the opportunity to chat with Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin, the duo behind rap group Chiddy Bang. We discussed Chiddy’s record-breaking freestyle for MTV.com, their new mixtape Peanut Butter & Swelly, their upcoming (and highly anticipated!) debut album Breakfast, and their involvement with Taco Bell’s Feed The Beat Program. They’ll be performing a concert in Philly next week for Taco Bell and for those of you who can’t make it, you can catch the performance live on the Facebook page.

Check out the full interview below.

Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege: Yo yo yo what’s up? How are you doing?

LitS: Good, how are you?

Chiddy: Good, good, just chilling in Orlando, Florida.

Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin: Wassup?

LitS: First off, Chiddy, congratulations on your new world record. Nine hours is an incredibly long time. What was going through your head while you were freestyling?

Chiddy: What was going through my head was like, “Man, I hope I have the endurance to be able to successfully rap for nine hours.” After the first hour, I was like man I could do this because I thought I had been rapping for maybe twenty minutes or so, but when I looked at the clock it had already been an hour, hour-fifteen. I was like, oh that went by kind of fast! Time pretty much flew by.

LitS: Why did you guys decide to do the freestyle in the first place?

Noah: I think it was actually our manager’s idea, right?

Chiddy: Yeah, it was our manager’s idea.

Noah: Our manager came up to Chiddy and was like, “Yo, you’re gonna rap for nine hours. It’s gonna happen.”

Chiddy: And I was just like, “Okay, I mean, I can rap, you know what I’m saying?” I thought about it and was like it’s a big achievement, you know, and I was thinking to myself, like I could actually have a Guinness Record. This was something I felt that although it was long and extremely strenuous, I did it. (more…)

Review: Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Released: May 2, 2011
Label: Sub Pop
Purchase: iTunes | Insound | Amazon

Indie-folk darlings Fleet Foxes shot to fame in 2008 with the release of their highly acclaimed self-titled debut album. Their vocal harmonies and organic, grassroots lyrics and music that define the band were a unique addition to the prevailing music scene. With the release of their follow up, Helplessness Blues, the band faces the challenge of dealing with their fame and living up to the high bar they already set. With a new level of accessibility, they manage to not only reach this bar, but even surpass it.

All across the board, the band displays a previously unseen level of confidence. Singer Robin Pecknold steps more into the spotlight, not shying behind the backup harmonies, though fans of these harmonies should know that they are still adequately present. The music has much more character, with stronger melodies and more varied instrumentation, such as the violins of “Bedouin Dress” or the effective flutes on “Lorelai”. There is also more experimentation in the musicianship, tending away from the traditional verse-chorus structure, especially in its two-part songs, “The Plains/Bitter Dancer” and “The Shrine/An Argument”.

More important than all of these new strides, however, is the improvement in the lyrics. The band’s slice of Americana on their debut was refreshing, but as enjoyable as the imagery and stories were, the lyrics rarely felt deep or relatable. Their success prevents them from revisiting many of these themes, but they have been supplanted with charming, universal musings and beautifully touching tales of love. In an album packed full of high points, the lyrics are the biggest of them.

“Sim Sala Bim” is an excellent combination of all of these developments. It starts with a calm description of a dream, but vanishes with a swelling burst of strings, leading to the questions, “What makes me love you despite the reservations? What do I see in your eyes besides my reflection hanging high? Are you off somewhere reciting incantations, ‘Sim Sala Bim’ on your tongue?” This climax gives way to a relaxing denouement, the same mood as the beginning. A review of The Avett Brothers’ most recent album said that the reviewer didn’t want to listen to it at work for fear of being forced to tears. In this song and several others on Blues, the threat is just as present.

Several other songs employ similarly engaging song structures. “The Plains/Bitter Dancer” builds with the band’s trademark cascading vocal waves, but later evolves into a sound reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel. “The Shrine/An Argument” has four movements. Hearing the first, with its surprisingly racing intro and Pecknold’s intense, haunting vocal dynamics, listeners may find it difficult to top, but the tonally darker second movement certainly gives it a run for its money. The blatantly ugly and chaotic woodwind outro is the sole weak part on the entire album.

Although not listed as a two-part song, the titular track is perhaps the most dichotomous. The musically and lyrically reflective second half answers the helplessness blues proposed in the first. Deep, catchy, musically interesting, and five minutes of nirvana in general, it stands out as a strong contender for track of the year.

With such high strengths, one might expect that other songs suffer in comparison, but nearly every single track holds its own even in such great company. The mildly swinging “Bedouin Dress” is a fun jaunt down memory lane. “Lorelai” makes excellent use of its bouncing ¾ time with an exceedingly simple, yet beautiful melody. Instrumentals occasionally feel like wasted tracks, but even “The Cascades” is a highly pleasurable journey. Drummer Josh Tillman takes center stage driving closer “Grown Ocean,” which effectively sums up the experience of the entire album.

The only track that doesn’t compare with the rest is “Blue Spotted Tail.” Although it has a poetic structure similar to “Someone You’d Admire,” “Tail” fails unlike “Admire” because its lyrics go slightly too far over the philosophical deep end. While “Why in the night sky are the lights hung? Why is the Earth moving ‘round the sun, floating in the vacuum with no purpose, not a one?” may seem like deep lyrics, they feel out of place on the album and ultimately boil down to meaningless passing thoughts.

“Tail” aside, the album is packed with strong songs and even stronger songs. I felt that I didn’t appreciate their debut as much as everyone else, but such is not the case with Helplessness Blues. The songs have more personality and the lyrics are greater than I could have expected. Just as their debut was oft-pegged for album of the year, Blues is a worthy follow up already in contention for the title this year.


Standout Tracks: “Sim Sala Bim”, “Helplessness Blues”, and “Lorelai”

Listen: Bon Iver – “Calgary”

The first single from Bon Iver‘s new album is entitled “Calgary” and can now be streamed or downloaded in exchange for an email. “Calgary” is our first taste of Bon Iver’s highly anticipated self-titled album, which will be available on June 21 via Jagjaguwar in the US and on June 20 via 4AD in the UK and Europe.

Bon Iver:

01 Perth
02 Minnesota, WI
03 Holocene
04 Towers
05 Michicant
06 Hinnom, TX
07 Wash.
08 Calgary
09 Lisbon, OH
10 Beth/Rest

Interview: Sink Tapes

We recently got a chance to speak to Gabe Chilarello, lead vocals of Sink Tapes, an indie band based out of the Asbury area of New Jersey. We were able to learn a lot about the background of the band, their first album, Same Strange Dream, their upcoming sophomore album, what they’re all about, and what they’re about to bring to the plate.

LitS: So, Sink Tapes, many people are curious as to what the origin of your band name is. Could you tell us?

Sink Tapes: It’s probably better left unsaid. It’s kind of one of those things that no one will understand. It’s a name we decided to go with because we had already been called a few other things and we were forced to figure out what to call ourselves, and something just happened where we decided the name Sink Tapes. There’s no meaning to it, but we had people telling us we should be “sync” tapes, but we like NOT making sense so it makes it fun, just like how our songs are. Just fun.

LitS: When did Sink Tapes first form as a band?

Sink Tapes: We probably started playing about two summers ago as Sink Tapes with our original songs. We first met through friends; none of us go to the same schools and we just started seeing each other at shows in the Asbury area so we decided to jam together on covers and what not. Eventually, we played a backyard show with a few bands and since then we just kept playing. I don’t think we meant it to happen, but it slowly got serious yet fun, and now we’re working on our second album.

LitS: Are your current members the original members?

Sink Tapes: Yes, it’s just Alex, Ricky, Tom and I, just like it has always been. Alex goes to school in Maryland, which sucks, but whenever he comes home we make it a point to play shows as a four-piece.

LitS: So, when he’s not around, you still perform with just the three of you guys?

Sink Tapes: We don’t prefer to play with just the three of us because with Alex, we have a more complete sound, of course. But over a few months, we relearned how to play our songs as a three piece so we could continue to play while he was in Maryland so we don’t slow down and we’re able to keep process. When he goes to school in the fall, we definitely want to travel there and play a bunch of shows with him in his area. (more…)

Review: Tyler, The Creator – Goblin

Tyler, The Creator – Goblin

Released: May 10, 2011
Label: XL Recordings
Purchase: iTunes | Insound | Amazon

Fame is a rather unfortunate phenomenon, an idea that rapper Tyler, The Creator certainly understands. The past few months have been a whirlwind ride for Tyler and his Odd Future friends, from Tyler and Hodgy Beats’s fear-inducing performance on Jimmy Fallon to the formation of the group’s own Odd Future Records record label. Goblin, Tyler’s first official release on a record label, has been surrounded by an incredible amount of hype, blowing up the blogosphere and getting Tyler, as he puts it on the first song, “cosigns from rappers that I don’t even like.” This hype and the young rapper’s sudden exposure to fame undoubtedly affected the creative process Goblin, but is it for the better?

Unfortunately, no. Although Goblin features a much-improved Tyler – in terms of both lyricism and storytelling – the fame that Tyler is dealing with hinders the album and restricts his creativity, causing the album to fall well short of his first release, BastardGoblin, to put it simply, is weighed down by the burden of matching the massive hype and pressure surrounding it. In the days of Bastard, Tyler made music for himself, something he has stated in the past and again brings up on opening track “Goblin”, but now, his music is no longer just for him; whether he likes it or not, he has become a sort of cult hero and his music is as much for them as it is for himself.

His fans aren’t the only ones listening to his music, however. Because of his naturally dark subject material, Tyler is forced to qualify his lyrics, spending a large chunk of the album pointing out that his stories of killing and misbehavior are in fact stories. On “Radicals”, Tyler opens with the lines “Don’t do anything that I say in this song. It’s [expletive] fiction. If anything happens, don’t [expletive] blame me, white America.” For all intents and purposes, Tyler can be compared to a young Eminem, albeit one who is way more apologetic.

Apologies, precautions, and qualifications aside, the lyricism on Goblin shows a natural progression from the days of The Odd Future TapeBastard, and even last year’s Radical. He’s still an angsty, obsessed teenager with numerous problems and his favorite target is still his missing father. The one problem, however, is how erratically hit-and-miss his lyrical style can be, leading to the inconsistency of the entire album, one of the main flaws of the album. Goblin contains a few very good songs, but also a handful of very bad ones.

When Tyler is on his A-game, he is, in fact, a “walking paradox.” As Wolf Haley, he spins tales of misogyny, juxtaposing with Tyler’s vulnerability in his personal search for love; Wolf Haley commands his “Wolf Gang” followers to revolt against everything, while Tyler worries that people may blame him for others’ wrongdoings. The only problem is, cringe-worthy moments like the muddled “Radicals”, the utterly boring “Fish”, the swag-rap tribute “Bitch Suck Dick”, and the incredibly tedious posse-cut “Window” weigh down the album, especially due to the album’s length — 74 minutes of Tyler’s minimal beats, variety of voices, and Dr. TC-framed-dialogue.

Goblin is essentially and fundamentally very similar to his first album Bastard, featuring Tyler discussing his life problems with his counselor Dr. TC. The production is also incredibly similar; Tyler’s never been lavish with his beats, electing to take a minimal, jarring style similar to that of his idols The Neptunes. Unfortunately, his beats begin to bore as the album drags along, showing that Tyler still has plenty of room to grow. To put it simply, his other beats pale in comparison to the masterful, eerie beat of “Yonkers”.

Goblin, in essence, is a strong effort by the nineteen-year-old rapper. He provides an ominous yet introspective look into his life, showing that he is not entirely as indestructible as he seems. While it may not have lived up to the hype, Tyler and Odd Future are still breaking new ground with Goblin, building a huge following of extremely dedicated and loyal fans who will no doubt eat this release up.


Standout Tracks: “Yonkers”, “She (feat. Frank Ocean)”, “Tron Cat”, and “Golden”

Listen: James Blake – “Give A Man A Rod (Alternate)”

British artist/producer James Blake has been considered by many to be one of the leaders of the dubstep and post-dubstep musical movements. His latest track, a reworking of the The Bells Sketch tune “Give A Man A Rod”, is probably the closest he has come to traditional dubstep music. The new song will be featured on Hessle Audo’s new label compilation 116 & Rising, out on May 16. You can purchase the compilationhere.

Check out the song below.

Jimmie’s Chicken Shack Playing Free Show at Jersey Shore

A favorite alternative band of the ‘90s is making their way to the Seaside Music Festival in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, next week. Jimmie’s Chicken Shack, best known for their fun, upbeat MTV hits, “High,” and “Do Right,” will be making their appearance at the festival on Saturday, May 21st, and all events during this 3-day music-lover’s fest are free admission.

Jimmie’s Chicken Shack hails from Annapolis, MD and has been rocking stages across the US since 1994. Originally signed to Elton John’s Rocket Records, they releasedPushing the Salmanilla Envelope, and are currently signed to their own label, Fowl Records. The band could be described as a staple for the emergence of post-grunge music in the ‘90s through their involvement with MTV. Jimmie’s Chicken Shack’s style can be compared to funky acts such as The Bloodhound Gang and Insane Clown Posse, for the band is known for putting on captivating shows.

Jimmie’s Chicken Shack will be playing on the Beach Stage, on the sands outside the Aztec Bar and boardwalk in Seaside Heights.  Admission is free and all-ages at this stage, and a map of the festival, band lineup, and more information can be found here.

Watch: Kanye West and Jay-Z Perform in NYC

On Tuesday, Kanye West and Jay-Z performed at NYC’s MOMA. The two are currently working on their joint album Watch the Throne, out sometime this year via Def Jam Recordings.

You can see the performance below, courtesy of NYClout.