Lots and lots of new videos lately. Yesterday we brought you clips from Best Coast and Lorde, today we have Bowie, The Field Effect, Angel Olsen, and some Daft Punk. So stop working (jk, I mean stop checking Twitter) and watch some, won’t you?
DAVID BOWIE, “I’d Rather Be High”
Yes, it’s a new video for “I’d Rather Be High – Venetian Mix (Wasted Edit),” from Bowie’s recent LP, The Next Day. Unlike the lead video from the record, “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” this one is mostly devoid of Bowie himself, opting instead for manipulated wartime footage. This pairs oddly well with the woozy sway of the music.
This year, two high-profile compilations of Buddy Holly cover songs will come out just months apart from one another, each to commemorate what would have been the Buddy Holly‘s 75th birthday this year. The first of the two albums is last month’s nineteen-track compendium of covers, Rave On (Hear Music), featuring covers from a cavalcade of pop stars from yesteryear and today. The impressive list of contributors on Rave On is also its biggest weakness. By including a smidgen from this era and a smidgen from that, the album seems to suggest half a dozen or so vantage points without any of them feel authoritative. What do Paul McCartney, Kid Rock and Julian Casablancas have in common? Rave On‘s only answer seems to be the vague declaration that they all share a love of Buddy Holly and that love lives on. But what is it about Buddy Holly lives on?
The album’s curatorial impulse seems to have been to attach as much star power as possible and thus includes both alta cockers and indie-rockers. It matters because the Buddy Holly that lives on, for the musician, largely hinges on who Buddy Holly was to them in the first place. On this album, we find as many musicians who first encountered Holly via Gary Busey in The Buddy Holly Story or via Weezer‘s Buddy Holly” song as they did through childhood memories of listening to Holly on vinyl or on the radio. The is a mish-mosh of point of views, with the exception of a few highlights”I’m thinking particularly of Patti Smith‘s sumptuous take on Words of Love and Julian Casablancas’s reverb-rich, garage-inspired, rollicking racket, Rave On”produces more confusion than coherence. McCartney is probably trying to keep up with the youngsters in his quasi-rap-infused version of It’s So Easy and Lou Reed‘s simply moribund take on Peggy Sue feels like he’s compensating too much in the other direction. Meanwhile, Cee-Lo channels Elvis as much as Holly in the steel drum-infused (You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care and Modest Mouse manages to deconstruct That’ll Be the Day to the point of unrecognizability. Karen Elson‘s rollicking Crying, Waiting, Hoping (backed by soon-to-be ex-husband Jack White) suggests an alternative direction the album could have taken: In the denouement of the a garage revival, wouldn’t it have been an interesting project for the leading acts of that movement to have paid homage to the father of garage?
Another star-studded compendium of Holly covers hits September 6, this one in cooperation with his widow, Maria Elena. Listen to Me (Songmasters) is another star-studded affair featuring Lyle Lovett, Zooey Deschanel, Stevie Nicks, Cobra Starship and the titular song, Listen to Me by Brian Wilson. It’s curious that the record along with Rave On were so inclined to trot out the headliners they did. Isn’t Buddy Holly headliner enough?
Four years between records can feel like a long time and four years is like sixteen (or something) in house music years. It’s been almost exactly that length of time since Digitalism released their debut Idealism. Their first album was more than a modest success”the duo (comprised of Ä°smail Tüfekí§i and Jens Moelle) made a big splash in the indie dance music world, suddenly finding themselves on equal footing with contemporaries like Hot Chip, Van She and The Presets. In fact, the only other indie dance record that had as good a debut that year was Justice‘s .
All that said, Idealism was a heck of a record, very much worthy of the praise and following that it gathered. The fifteen song set of housey-electro, presented with a strong, beefy rock influence and structure, was designed for crowd pleasing. However, Idealism had a number of wrinkles to help distinguish the group from some of the competition. The tracks had a lot more punch then some of their other more fey contemporaries, and the duo’s love of Daft Punk came off as charming and celebratory rather than derivative. While the group was relatively quiet during the stretch between albums, they always had their assured, confident debut to build a reputation on.
It looks like Digitalism are trying to keep the magic alive on I Love You, Dude. And they have a great shot the second time around as the record doesn’t suffer from the so-called “sophomore slump” that plagues so many promising bands. The record kicks off with “Stratosphere”, one of a couple of tracks on the album that could easily have been slotted into their previous record. The most obvious trait of the record is tracks like these””2 Hearts”, “Blitz” and “Forrest Gump””are sonically in line with songs from their first record like “Pogo” and “Idealistic”. It’s these tracks, this style, the Digitalism we’re familiar with, that make up the front half of the record.
While their sound is still recognizably “theirs”, they’ve both streamlined their attack and tried to expand their oeuvre. An undercurrent of melancholy populated Idealism with high energy tracks like “Echoes” and “Moonlight” bearing some kind of emotional weight. That same melancholy is still present in much of I Love You, Dude, but the group presents it in a more nuanced fashion. The interesting development is that the group is now producing tracks that sound like they could narrate the fight scenes for a flashy big budget action movie. “Miami Showdown”, a late record highlight, moves with a lot of swagger and “Reeperbahn” feels like a throwback ’90s big beat track that packs a serious left hook.
Still, despite the growth and time between records, Digitalism have kept their rockist core intact. Digitalism worked with Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas on “Forrest Gump” and the pedigree of both acts makes the union work. An indie dance band who treats their synths like guitars getting it on with a rock ‘n’ roller with an electronic music fetish? Hey, it works.
The energy that Jens and Ä°smail bring to I Love You, Dude give a kick to some of the best tracks on the record. “Blitz” proves itself worthy of its title, relentlessly and playfully circling around an upbeat synth riff. “Encore” the last track on the record, holds the line steadily as it builds to a final crescendo to close out the record. While not all of the group’s diversions are as successful as this””Antibiotics” stab at rave house could’ve been more fully realized and “Just Gazin”, while an admirable attempt at effeverscent, pretty synthpop, feels out of place compared to the rest of the record”I Love You, Dude stands as a strong, unified statement. With songs that are sure to frenzy the crowd when the group headlines the summer HARD fest this year and tracks that’ll appeal to the bedroom headnodders, Digitalism has a little something for everyone.
- Bieber’s mouth, meet foot
- Radiohead gets cryptic on Twitter
- Mumford & Sons puke in flower pots, you can take the boys out of the country but…
- Now “Inception” is a threat even on your phone
- Strokes resentment towards Casablancas for not recording together. No kidding.
- The Fallon performance last night that people just won’t stop talking about
- GRAMMYs snub Fantasia, so Fantasia snubs the GRAMMYs
- VH1 is going hipster
- Charlie Sheen gives advice to Lindsay Lohan. Wait, seriously?
- MICK JAGGER IS ALIVE
- Really, people just won’t up about about Odd Future on Jimmy Fallon
Jetson Black (badass name and 100% real) may sound pretty aloof when he sings, but make no mistake, there’s serious fire beneath the surface. As guitarist and lead vocalist for the Asheville, NC, band The Black Rabbits, Black delivers tightly wound vintage rock fueled by unrequited emotion. His brother, Skyler Black, keeps it rock steady behind the kit, while bassist Natalie Smallish and organist Kim Drake add feathery vocals to smooth out the rough edges. Hurry Hurry is a dark little rocker brimming with swag. Guitars strut and drums stomp as the urgency mounts. For Way Too Long Now feels more morose, with female backup acting as treacle to Black’s pent-up anxiety. For a break in the tension, skip to Emotion, a kinetic, retro rock juggernaut complete with purring guitars, twinkling keys, handclaps and tambourines. One part Julian Casablancas, one part Jack White, Black hovers between unflappable cool and manic frenzy. Like a train that chugs along and suddenly threatens to go off the tracks, The Black Rabbits brooding, theatrical garage rock makes for an exciting ride.
Jesus has Christmas and Easter. The Great Pumpkin has Halloween. Even pancakes have their own dedicated day of celebration”so why not record stores? A group of like-minded vinyl enthusiasts felt the same way so they organized National Record Store Day to recognize the importance of the independent music retail shop. Every third Saturday of April, musicians, store proprietors and the customers who keep the brick and mortar shops alive, come together for a day of live music and limited vinyl releases. This year, artists like Bruce Springsteen, Citizen Cope, Tom Waits, Sharon Jones and hundreds more have contributed rare and exclusive recordings, pressed on wax, to be sold only on Record Store Day at participating retailers. So fire up the turntable, break out the rainy day vinyl fund and support your favorite record shop on April 17th!
Introducing “Discourse & Dischord” ” a new column wrapping up the week in music and delivering it to you with a big, fat bow every Friday. This week: The Strokes, Adam Lambert, Chris Brown, Susan Boyle and more.
The Strokes announce first gig since October 2006
It’s been three years since the Strokes’ last live show, and the interim has been filled with band members’ solo projects (Albert Hammond Jr.’s Yours To Keep, Fabrizio Moretti’s work with Little Joy and Julian Casablanca’s latest, Phrazes For The Young). So you wouldn’t have to be much of a gambler to wager that a Strokes breakup might be imminent.
This week the band laid any such fears to rest by announcing a headlining gig at England’s Isle of Wight festival on June 11-13. The Strokes will join the likes of Jay-Z, Blondie and Orbital. Jittery mod rock, shaggy hair and monochromatic croons ”it’s been too long.
Susan Boyle beats Gaga and Rihanna (not literally)
Our Lady of Blackburn emerged at the top of the Billboard charts this week with her Sony debut, I Dreamed A Dream.
The Scottish singer edged out pop front runners including Rihanna, Adam Lambert and Lady Gaga with her album of covers. As you may recall, Boyle’s performance of the title track on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent made her an internet sensation. And she didn’t even have to simulate fellatio on her guitar player (note to self, Lambert).
Adam Lambert, Chris Brown and ABC: A Tale in Three Parts
Speaking of Lambertkins, you may have heard a little bit about his recent AMA performance. In short, he did some naughty things on stage, and subsequently got booted from his upcoming gig on Good Morning America. Network executives claimed Lambert wasn’t wholesome enough for a morning audience, then, in a brain fart heard ˜round the world, replaced him with convicted girlfriend-abuser Chris Brown. Cries of outrage ensued. This week ABC announced that Brown will not be performing on GMA after all, and instead will be interviewed on 20/20 on December 4. Brown’s replacement on GMA will be wholesome Al Qaeda terrorist Syed Hashmi. (Not really, but you never know with these guys.)
Pete Doherty booed off stage for singing Nazi national anthem in Munich. That headline says it all.
Bits and Pieces