New Music listening Wednesday March 21, 2012

@@@ Back on the Amber Waves of Twang underappreciated records of 2011 which you can find here.

@@@ The Barr Brothers: Self-titled. I would call this orchestral folk roots music.  Good production, singer has a strong voice.  I think a lot of folks could get into this music.

@@@ Mark W. Lennon: Home of the Wheel (Vagabond Tune).  A more ragged voice and a more country feel.  More good playing, people who dig the roots music should check both of these records out.

@@@ Esperanza Spaulding: Radio Music Society.  I would call ths an album of jazz fusion songs — smooth and unchallenging to listen to.  She’s worked really hard on her vocals though her songs sound a little awkward to my ear.  It’s an intricate album, but sterile sounding.  More of a showcase than a heartfelt expression.  I will fully admit that I find the Esperanza Spaulding marketing show to be extremely annoying and it prejudices me against her music, but if it works for folks, have at it.

Read the AllMusic email blurb below and tell me this album isn’t aimed at non hardcore music listeners to make them feel smarter for buying this record:

Esperanza Spalding’s fourth album, Radio Music Society (a companion piece to Chamber Music Society in name only) is one of enormous ambitionpolished production, sophisticated, busy charts, and classy songwriting — that consciously juxtaposes neo-soul and adult-oriented jazz-tinged pop. It employs a stellar cast, largely of jazz musicians, to pull it off.

@@@ Anti-Flag: The General Strike.  (Side One Dummy).  A revved up California Orange County punk/rock fhybrid.  Solid, but I’ve heard this formula too many times to get excited.

New music listening Tuesday, March 20 2012

@@@ I appreciate what Amber Waves of Twang has going on over here.  10 2011 albums that flew under the radar.  Don’t get all obsessed with release date.  I’m still finding great music from 2011.  I’d rather find something great from 2010 that I hadn’t heard about rather than some 2012 biscuit.

@@@ The New Familiars are at the top of the above list.  Their 2011 album Between the Moon and Morning Light is up on Spotify but they have mostly live videos up on Youtube.  These guys are happenin’.  No pretense, no marketing bullshit, just folks playing straight ahead roots rock ‘n roll.

@@@ I try to stop by Invisible Oranges when I can.  There’s a post up over here on the band Sigh and their new record In Somniphobia.  If you’re into the genre mashup these guys might work for you.  A hot stringy punk bass sound, some double pedal kick drumming, some epic proggy guitar playing and yer classic heavy metal vocal gruntfest.

I give them big points for waving the freak flag — they’re just rocking their own formula unashamedly.

@@@ Bunch of new music discussed over here at Music Under Fire.  All their tunes are embedded on the page so you can be super lazy and check out a bunch of new music.

@@@ Tanlines Mixed Emotions is not getting a lot of buzz as much as it’s getting a big paid for push.  They were profiled on NPR and if it makes it to NPR there’s a 95% chance there’s a PR campaign going.

Isn’t this whiteboy disco?  I think this is white boy disco.  So I don’t know what the wrapper says, but this candy bar is white boy disco.  It’s a decent pop tune, nothing particularly unique at any level as far as I can hear.

There’s a comment on their Youtube video page where someone says ‘This song makes me feel like everything is gonna be okay.’  Wow is all I can say.  I don’t want to be a downer but this tune is not going to make anything more or less okay.

@@@ The Shins: September.  Singer has a good voice, tasteful arrangement, really nice tremolo guitar sound behind the chord progression.  Sound A-, lyrics B-.

New Music listening Monday, March 19, 2012

Just a reminder that this is not a music review blog.  It’s a links blog as well as a diary of a hardcore music listener.

Today I’m checking out a few bands from Aquarius Records SXSW showcase.

Vaz — Guitar/drums duo.   I’m checking out Demonstrations in Micronesia from 2008 out on Load Records.  Strong B+/A-.  Noisy, but still within the realm of songs.  The drummer is the star in this group.

Shit and Shine from the UK.  I’m listening to 229-2299 Girls Against Shit.  It’s a sort industrial rock hybrid.  Aquarius calls it art rock, I don’t know what that is.  It’s all right, a little repetitive but it’s artsy so have at it.

Night Control.  Not rock, kind of spooky softer rock — a lot of reverb on the vocals, ringing guitars.  A little like the Cure.  It’s all right.

Conclusion:  I starred Vaz in my Spotify whatever and will check some more of their music later.  The singer is a little flat and detached — that doesn’t always work for me, but I really dig the drummer and the noisiness of what they do.

Music biz thought Friday March 16, 2012

From the Lefsetz letter:

All these people have handlers and friends who blow smoke up their ass, telling them their new music is good. No one ever speaks the truth to an established artist.


This gigantic cloud of ass smoke goes far past folks not telling rock stars their new songs aren’t very good.

In our fan-fucking-tastic music blogosphere I see musicians with debut records proclaimed as geniuses and compared to legendary musicians with deep and outstanding discographies.

One good record and you’re a genius?  I think this qualifies as smoke being blown up an ass.

Why does this happen?  I maintain it’s all about the clicks.  A musician or label takes a great review (even if untrue) and they spread that link far and wide.  It’s in the self-interest of a blog operator who hopes to draw advertising to like records.

I try not to be cruel about how I feel about records I don’t like.  I try to be rational and honest and give some praise where I can, but I only like a record publicly if I would buy it myself and have listened to it for pleasure in my life.

If you think that’s a common occurrence, I think you’re wrong.

Music biz thought Thursday March 15, 2012

This guy is really smart and you can read the whole post here:

Excerpt 1:

Of course, what we say doesn’t matter so much. What we do is what matters, and we have far more influence that we’d like to confess.

Excerpt 2:

We say we love art, the brave work that touches us, but we listen to oldies and rarely head out to hear live music or visit a cutting edge gallery.

Hypocrisy may be an epidemic, but the problem isn’t in what we say. It’s what we do.

I agree with this statement.  Read the whole post.

Serious and active music listening Thurs March 8, 2012

Each day’s listening begins with a spiel — that’s the price you pay for having someone working on the listener’s behalf instead of on the music biz/promo machinery.

I got some negative feedback following yesterday’s Hypem listening tour.  Apparently, the indie crowd is not too excited to have someone put a critical ear up to their genre.  I put out free jazz, and nobody hesitates to shit all over my genre so get your thick skin on because the truth is that indie music is king because of its organizational hyping prowess not because it contains the greatest musicians playing with unheard of originality.

As it was so much fun yesterday, on to the Hypem:

@@@ Over here at The Sky Report you can catch the OFFICIAL new song by Beach House, coming out on Sub Pop.  Or you can listen below.  It’s dreamy, it’s soft, the singer can at least sing.  There’s a nice segue in the middle of the tune, so there’s some songwriting skills in residence.  Overall, not your usual indie dreck and not anything to jump up and down over.

@@@ Onward.   Over here at Awkward Sound you can read about Loma Prieta.  Here’s a picture of the band — those Orange amps are pretty sick. I’ve never played one, but I’ve been at show that contained herewith said amplifiers.

As far as tuneage, it’s a hardcore meltdown.  I can’t embed the video on the the blog, so you have to click through.  These gents can bring it, I’m sure it’s a cathartic live show.  I like hardcore live over hardcore recordings, but this is a real band putting some muscle into it.  The drummer is the star of this band, in my opinion.

@@@  Over here at Oh My Rock, the fine bloggers there are on about Jessie Ware.  She is down below doing her thing.  It’s a solid B example of modern day smooth R&B.  Not what I was expecting, very professional, and not particularly passionate.

@@@  Over here at Feast of Beast you can see a video of Keep Shelly in Athens.  Before we discuss Keep Shelly in Athens, you can also find the Beach House tune posted over there.  What a shocker.  Is this our unbelievable grassroots blogosphere in action or is it the silent hand of the Music PR folks?  I’ll let you decide.

As for Keep Shelly in Athens, it is an indie electronic, highly synthesized thang.  I’m not a huge fan of this sound, but it’s a decent specimen of that now very trendy trend.

@@@ It seems fitting to end today’s Hypem listening fest over here at The Digital Outhouse.  Oh, my, I’m not even sure what to say here.  This is not my cup of tea, and I will leave it at that.

Conclusion: Another tough day in Hypem listening land and I want to sign off by saying that I will give it up for great music.  I will buy it, I will tell others, I will blog it and fuckin tweet and mash it up and wipe the band’s ass.

Serious ass music listening Weds March 7, 2012

More time with Hypem blogs and it wasn’t productive time.  My hit to shit ratio as a listener was 1/2 out of 5 bands.  I kinda liked the first tune.

@@@  Would you like some alternative rock from Lovedrug?  If so, go over here to HillyDilly or click below.  It’s the best of what I’ve heard today so far and it’s a solid B.

@@@  Via Pop Goes the Radio here’s some new Free Energy.  The first album was extremely derivative and it sounds like they’ve picked up right where they left off — right down to the cowbell!

@@@  If you’re looking to get your indie on head over here to Music Under Fire.  There’s some decent tunes over there but I listened to six tunes and I did not jump up and down once.

@@@  Would you like some electro-house F.O.O.L. (Fuck Our Ordinary Lives) courtesy of the fine people Stoney Roads.

Put your hands in the air
put some gel in your hair
get to all those malls out there

@@@ Check out Casey Diamond — I found her at Ryan’s Smashing Life over here.

Check out the verbiage from the blog and tell me this wasn’t written by a music publicist:

Having appeared on last season of NBC’s “The Voice,” Boston’sCasey Desmond is the proud owner of dozens of songwriting awards and has recently enjoyed a string of successes; her work has been picked up by several television programs – she is clearly a player on the rise in the music world. Casey’s unique style and music combine her soaring vocal melodies, synth-driven electro dance rhythms & socially conscious lyrics with a retro yet ahead-of-the-curve fashion sense that keeps today’s tastemakers wanting more, landing her coverage in The Examiner, Star and Keyboard Magazine. Elements of her song and art have seen her compared to electro-pop icons like David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, and today’s dance pop divas like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.

Are you fucking kidding me?  I call this putting lipstick on a pig.  There’s nothing ahead of the curve here and there’s no socially concious lyrics.

I call this bullshit.