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Archive for July, 2011

Listen: Drake – “Headlines”



With the release of “Dreams Money Can’t Buy”, “Marvin’s Room”, and “Trust Issues”, Drake‘s forthcoming Take Care has quickly become one of our most anticipated releases of the year. October’s Very Own has finally released the first official single, which is called “Headlines”. The Toronto rapper linked up with his long-time friends Boi-1da and Noah “40” Shebib, who team up to produce the track.

The two previously collaborated on the rapper’s debut album Thank Me Later, working on quite a few songs including “Miss Me”.

MP3: Drake – “Headlines”


“Headlines” features more sung vocals than rapped ones from Drake. The song will be most likely be released officially on iTunes next week, but Drizzy released the song for free on his blog earlier today. You can listen or download above.

Ariel Pink, Kurt Vile, and More Contribute to ‘Recorded for Japan’

joomplu:292Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Kurt Vile, R. Stevie Moore (with members of MGMT) and more artists recently recorded a compilation album entitled Recorded for Japan to aid the relief effort in Japan. A hundred percent of the proceeds will be donated directly to the ongoing relief and reconstruction, with the money going to the Japanese Red Cross.

The compilation will be available on August 4 and is digital-only. You can purchase it here.

Recorded for Japan Track Listing:
01. Beige – Focus *
02. R. Stevie Moore (feat. Members of MGMT) – You Are Too Far From Me *
03. K. Heasley – Belief Match
04. Ice Choir – Two Rings (Hard Mix)
05. Chairlift – The Chase (Propaganda cover)
06. Pablo Picasso – Whip *
07. Kurt Vile – Been Searchin’
08. Kuroma – Running People
09. Acrylics – Sparrow Song *
10. Violens – When To Let Go *
11. Erika Spring – 6 More Weeks (Vacation Version) *
12. Patrick Cleandenim – In My Baby’s Eyes (After Dark Version) *
13. Regal Degal – Excuse Me Who Am I Talking To? *
14. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Thespian City (Live)

*in-studio performance

Review: The Gallery – Come Alive

The Gallery – Come Alive

Released: February 22, 2011

Label: Unsigned

Purchase: iTunes | Amazon | Bandcamp

The Gallery is a band on the rise. Having built grassroots bases in their New England home and later in Florida, they embarked on a national tour in 2009 and have been more recently performing with bands such as The Maine and We the Kings. After a few spins of their EP Come Alive, you’ll see that this brewing rise is well-deserved and you may just be inclined to hop on the bandwagon before there even is a bandwagon.

Just a few seconds into opener “Catalyst”, listeners will likely catch one reason for the band’s increasing popularity: it’s not difficult when your biggest musical influences are already well-established within mainstream and indie circles. In a nutshell, they’re Bruce Springsteen without the synths and saxes, The Hold Steadywith fewer keys and less of a bar-rock sound.

Getting through the rest of the song, listeners will see another reason: “Catalyst” is really good, perhaps even too good. Catchy hooks are a dime a dozen these days, but songs that combine these hooks with such simple, earnest lyrics are harder to come by. It’s true that there are no deep insights, but lines like “This is a walk away / from those dirty little games you played. / I heard your sorrys, but I saw no change. / I gave you love, you gave me pain,” when backed by such honest music and Brendan Cooney’s hometown vocals packs a solid punch. It almost makes the rest of the EP struggle slightly to keep up in comparison, but it gives a valiant effort.

“Ballroom of Broken Hearts” slows down the tempo, but maintains the EP’s pace. Vocally and lyrically, it leans more heavily on The Boss than any other track, telling the tale of a girl “unlucky in lust.” It showcases their mature musicianship by effectively stripping down the first chorus, but doesn’t rely on it for the other choruses, instead adopting a fuller sound becoming less wistful, adapting to the entire song’s structural buildup. It’s less likely to be heard on the radio than “Catalyst”, but it is nonetheless good enough to prove that “Catalyst” wasn’t a fluke.

Tackling a different lyrical theme is “Who’s in the Right”. On one level about a fighting couple, it undeniably speaks to our country’s bigger conflicts as well with the simple observation “We’ll drop bombs all day and night/ to show who’s in the wrong and who’s in the right.” Even though it’s an anti-war song to some extent, it doesn’t fall on the trite clichés that today’s bands loved during the Bush era (i.e. no mention of a “gas war” or “fighting daddy’s battles”). Sincerity abound, it even feels close to The Avett Brothers. Unfortunately, the lyrics are stronger than the music, which relies too much on a bland guitar line.

The lightness of “Last Goodbye” serves as an excellent counter to the heaviness of its preceding track. The drum driven pre-chorus and explosive chorus are certainly engaging, but clocking in at close to five minutes, it runs slightly long.

Rounding out the EP is “Free,” which is actually a bit of a letdown. For once, the music feels too generic and the lyrics are excessively sappy. Though not a terrible song, it’s certainly a disappointment when compared to everything else before it. Not the best end, but it doesn’t detract too much from the quality of the EP on the whole. It’s not the deepest music you’ve ever heard, but it’s a solid effort by a band that you should make a point to know.


Standout Tracks: “Catalyst” and “Ballroom of Broken Hearts”

Review: Fucked Up – David Comes to Life

Fucked Up – David Comes to Life

Released: June 7, 2011
Label: Matador Recordsl
Purchase: iTunes | Insound | Amazon

Fucked Up is a punk band with epic aspirations. And their recently released third full length album, David Comes to Life, only serves to further demonstrate Fucked Up’s ambition. Divided into four acts, it tells the story of David Eliade, a factory worker, and his lover Veronica Boisson’s scheme to construct a bomb and the aftermath of its early detonation; namely, Veronica’s death. Beyond that, it’s difficult to decipher the plot; to do so, one would have to spend extensive time analyzing the lyrics to each track. But as a listener who still doesn’t fully understand the intricacies of the story-line of this self-proclaimed “rock opera”, I can assure you that complete comprehension isn’t at all vital to enjoyment of David Comes to Life.

Besides the complicated lyrical aspects of the album, David Comes to Life isn’t an easy listen for another reason: its length. At eighteen tracks and seventy-eight minutes, the listener must be patient to easily manage a complete spin of the album in one sitting. Yet when in the right mood, one will find this album one of the most rewarding of the year.

Nearly the moment David Comes to Life commences, it’s apparent this is no ordinary punk album. Opener “Let Her Rest” is an instrumental track, decorated with twinkling piano and ambient noise. To some readers, that description might bring to mind post-rock. Yet the song is more accurately defined as a dramatic build, a preparation for what’s to come; as it progresses, the guitar lines slowly become more punk, more representative of the remainder of the album. In effect, the track’s purpose is to gradually accustom the listener to the sounds that follow.

The following track, “Queen of Hearts”, is the first we hear of Damian Abraham’s (A.K.A. Pink Eyes) snarl. It’s as ferocious as ever, yet Abraham seems to have improved his emotional range. It’s also the first we hear of Cults Madeline Follin, who plays Veronica. The shimmery guitars grant the tune a bright feel and the dual narration is a unique storytelling technique. It’s certainly a standout and has the potential to become known as one of punk’s defining love songs.

The next three songs — “Under My Nose”, “The Other Shoe”, and “Turn the Season” — share lyrical similarities in that each mention “the other shoe”. In fact, it is the track named after that lyric which succeeds the most out of the three. Beginning with Follin’s cries of “Dying on the inside”, Abraham soon makes his most tortured appearance, yelping, “It can’t be comfortable when the whole thing’s about to fall.” Far and away, this is the most poignant moment on the album. An unrelated but significant side-note is that Abraham also declares that “The new lyrics follow the same old meter.” And interestingly enough, many of Abraham’s lyrics throughout the album do follow similar rhythmic patterns. But this only serves to further the cohesiveness — characterized not only by the aforementioned but similar guitar tones and song structures as well — of David Comes to Life.

That concludes the album’s first, and arguably strongest, act. Its second, however, is by no means bad. “Running on Nothing” is the highlight, with its catchy 50’s rock guitar riffing, and “A Slanted Tone”, with its brief acoustic guitar intro, is another solid tune and one of David Comes to Life‘s fastest.  Despite all this, it is here and in the third act where the album drags most. It’s simply due to a couple of lesser (but still good) tracks which don’t help distract the listener from the album’s length. Yet despite the bit of unevenness in the second and third acts, it’s impossible to penalize Fucked Up too heavily, because there is just so much to explore. And because of that, David Comes to Life is an album with unquestionable lasting value.

The fourth and final act is probably the second best of the four. Its only real fault is that “One More Night” is so good that closer “Lights Go Up” is a bit of a letdown. Yet the positives of “One More Night” far outweigh the negatives of the track’s placement. It’s truly an anthem. Soaring guitar lines complement accented drumming and Abraham’s violent, defiant bark until Abraham’s shouts of “I don’t wanna be right / Just one more night” enter the mix and the guitars are left to ring out. It feels so much like the album’s conclusion; perhaps that’s why “Lights Go Up” is disappointing, merely because the listener doesn’t want to hear anymore of anything. But that’s a small price to pay for such a well-conceived album by one of the best bands operating in punk music.


Standout Tracks: “Queen of Hearts”, “The Other Shoe”, “Running on Nothing”, and “One More Night”

Mixtape: Hoodie Allen – Leap Year

joomplu:287It’s been quite a year for Long Island-based rapper Hoodie Allen. After releasing Pep Rally to widespread acclaim and accumulating tons of buzz in the blogosphere, Hoodie decided to leave his stable job at Google and pursue his music career full time. To wind up a whirlwind year of touring and recording, the MC released a brand new mixtape, entitled Leap Year, for free download on his website.

Hoodie says that the mixtape is “me growing up on record” and on first listen I’d have to agree with him — for the most part. While the mixtape still features a number of fun and poppy samples intended to draw in first-time listeners on the Hype Machine or just through blogs in general (Fitz and Tantrums on the first track, for instance), Hoodie’s lyricism and delivery has greatly improved since Pep Rally. But the greatest change between this mixtape and the latter is Hoodie’s attempt to open himself up to his audience through slower, more introspective songs. Most of the production is still handled by long-time collaborator RJF and the mixtape still sounds quite similar to his earlier work, but Hoodie attempts to tone himself down, a bold move towards revealing his serious side.

Sure, he hasn’t yet mastered this new style and he’s still finding his comfort zone, but that’s alright — considering his work ethic and dedication to his music career, I’m sure Hoodie will eventually find his place. Until then, here’s to leap year.

Download: Hoodie Allen – Leap Year (Mixtape)

Stream Aficionado’s New Album

Aficionado has officially released the stream for their new self-titled album, which is out today on No Sleep Records. This new release follows the band’s successful debut EP, When It Comes To CreatonAficionado was recorded with AJ Mogis, who has also previously worked with CursiveBright Eyes, and M. Ward. You can stream the album here. Read more to see if the band is coming to play near you.

Aficionado Track List:
1. The Things You Like
2. Stir Like Hell
3. Everything Was Right
4. Grandfather
5. Confidence Is Intimidating
6. Honesty
7. Falsified Inspiration
8. Permanent
9. Characters
10. Open Doors

Listen: DOOMSTARKS – “Victory Laps”


joomplu:289MF DOOM (all caps when you spell the man’s name…) and Ghostface Killah, known together as DOOMSTARKS, have finally released “Victory Laps”, the first official single from their forthcoming album. While the two masked rappers have yet to announce the album’s release date, Nature Sounds will first be releasing a picture disc vinyl with “Victory Laps”, the Madvillain remix, and the two instrumentals. You can listen to the two trade lines over a grimy piano loop below.

MP3: DOOMSTARKS – “Victory Laps”

You can preorder the Serato 12″ here.


Kanye West and Jay-Z Announce Tour Dates


In preparation for the release of Watch The ThroneKanye West and Jay-Z have announced that the two have formed a duo called The Throne and will be embarking on a massive North American tour together this fall.

Kanye and Jay-Z also announced that Watch the Throne will be released on iTunes on August 8th. The album will then be available on other physical and digital retailers on August 12th.

The tracklisting and full tour dates are available below. You can listen to “Otis” here.

Childish Gambino Premieres New Song at Comic Con


Donald Glover / Childish Gambino appeared at San Diego’s Comic Con this weekend to promote his show Community, but the actor/rapper also managed to play a show on Friday night, tearing up the House of Blues and premiering a brand new song. Apologizing for his recent disappearance online and lack of tweets, Gambino announced to the energized audience that he has been busy working on new material before launching into the song, our first taste of the new album. While most of the beat is hard to make out, Gambino’s clever punchlines are clear enough to be made out: “Man, why does every black actor have to rap some? I dunno, all I know is I’m the best one.”

Check out the video after the break. Childish Gamino’s new album will be out in September.

Listen: Gold Leaves – “Cruel/Kind” and “The Ornament”


joomplu:288Seattle-based singer-songwriter Grant Olsen, best-known as half of the folk duo Arthur & Yu, is making his return not with the second Arthur & Yu record, but with a new project called Gold Leaves. His debut release The Ornament has been four years in the making, accompanying Olsen through a wide range of new experiences: marriage, traveling through Central and South America, birth, and death. Linking up with producer, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist Jason Quever of Papercuts, Olsen created a collection of intimate, heart-warming tracks, blending Americana with ’60s pop influences. You can listen to two songs, “Cruel/Kind” and “The Ornament”, below. The album will be out on August 16 via Hardly Art (tracklisting after the break).

MP3: Gold Leaves – “Cruel/Kind”

MP3: Gold Leaves – “The Ornament”

[Via Stereogum]