Let it all be a reminder of how surely David Draiman rocks — Device’s self-titled debut delivers, “Vilify” leading the charge
There’s something about David Draiman’s inspired take on hard rock, tinged with all which is both invigorating and frustrating about the millennial hybrid fusion of rap and metal, that simply can’t be purged from my ears. For many of the same reasons I can’t stop listening to new Meatloaf records despite the fact that for every genius hook there’s an equally disappointing plummet, I find myself salivating whenever I hear any new track with that distinctive sing-song growl. “Arrrrrrrrrraughhhhhh!” It must be a product of my frenetic rock upbringing throughout the nineties which simply destroys all denial.
Draiman’s latest outlet, Device, has a self-titled debut coming out April 9th via the Warner label, and it arrives at once as addictive as anything Disturbed’s yet released, yet with more of an 80′s-inspired twist, particularly the incredible duet with Lizzy Hale on Device’s brilliant cover of Ozzy Osborne and Lita Ford’s 1988 “Close My Eyes Forever” which manages to blend pop hooks with Draiman’s typically uncompromising vocal energy. More on that in a moment.
First things first, however, as “You Think You Know” opens the album with typical Draimanesque bluster, including classic lines like “Get off me, you don’t know where I’ve been,” sung before he abruptly calls the mystery female a whore while referring to the monsters inside him. He’s like the opposite of Meat Loaf’s usual protagonist, the one constantly in arrested-development teenage lust, searching for desperate sexual release. Instead, Draiman’s songs come from that utterly opposite position where it’s all about living on a razor’s edge between fear, lust and ultimate insanity, a world rotting to its core.
You think you know, but it’s all in your mind. The sickness is everywhere, and we’re losing the battle.
What’s great about Device is the band’s willingness to twist the knife even as they merge Disturbed’s typical hard rock pastiche with backdrops built on layer after layer of Nine Inch Nails industrial and New Order inspired pop gloss. The opening triptych that is “You Think You Know,” ‘Penance” and the album’s first single, “Vilify,” unite everything fans will have come to expect from Draiman and Disturbed, but the new band seems more willing to play with those conventional expectations. “You’ve never had control from the onset,” he tells us. “Go find another lapdog, fucker!” He’s got this roiling tide of bile, distrust and confusion about the past, present and future, and the only way to get anywhere is to subvert every demand placed on the music.
Fuck you all!
Let every minute be a reminder
Of how it all came crashing down
Can’t believe this is happening
Don’t want to start over again!
How can this all keep happening
Over and over and over again?”
At that moment we finally come to a fork in the road — that aforementioned incredible cover of “Close My Eyes Forever” which should be the next single and the album’s ultimate mainstream breakthrough. Call it “Draiman Unchained” — apart from our demands for repeated past glories, the singer becomes a man willing to finally take the album to a new level. “If I close my eyes forever will it all remain unchanged?” Draiman and Hale sing back and forth, and while the answer in the end has to be “no,” we understand where they’re coming from.
It is easy to understand why Draiman has gone to such trouble to tell fans this isn’t an outlet to replace Disturbed — clearly he’s after a chance to redefine what’s come before, look toward the future and rediscover why he’s here to rock in the first place. The remainder of the album continues Device’s experimentation with hard rock and industrial, proving to be way more than a vanity side project while Disturbed takes a hiatus. “Out Of Line,” “Hunted” and “War Of Lies” won’t win over everyone who may have left Disturbed and David Draiman behind them a decade ago, but these songs (and in particular the album’s first four tracks) showcase a performer who knows his voice and is ready to get out there and dominate yet again, blending elements of the last three decades of hard rock into something perfectly shaped for our modern alternative landscape.
It’s not indispensable, but there’s something refreshingly invigorating about this album. Let it all be a reminder of how surely David Draiman rocks, and why we all could stand to take ourselves a little less seriously.
Diana Krall turned to T-Bone Burnett to produce her latest album, Glad Rag Doll, due out October 2 on Verve, and the result invigorates what has already been a many storied career. The album’s second track, “There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth The Salt Of My Tears,” channels Tom Waits so effectively you’ll think you’re listening to a long-lost outtake from Small Change, and the remainder of the album builds on that energy. Glad Rag Doll is Krall’s love-letter to the 1920s, building up to the title cover of the Alger and Yeller theme which more than lives up to the challenge she’s set for herself to create an intimate album which feels like you’re traveling the world while being whispered to in your own living room. This isn’t the most flashy album, or even the most anticipated, to be issued this fall. But Diana Krall’s Glad Rag Doll is a significant departure from what she’s done before, and it serves as an excellent reintroduction to a performer who deserves to be more widely acknowledged.
You can hear the official first single from the album, “Just Like A Butterfly That’s Caught In The Rain,” below.
If you think Mumford and Sons are the greatest folk band to make the crossover to pop, you’ve barely scratched the surface of what the Avett Brothers offer. Their album I and Love and You should have been their massive breakthrough to mainstream success, but instead it left room for their latest, the Rick Rubin-produced The Carpenter, which drops September 11th. But you don’t have to wait that long to hear it — NPR’s excellent “First Listen” series has the exclusive on the full album stream, which showcases how little it took to twist the band’s signature sound enough to make this perhaps the surest success of the fall thus far. “The Once And Future Carpenter” opens the album on a strong Vandaveer-esque note, but the band really gets going on the stunning ballad “Winter In My Heart,” which is everything one could want from an Avett Brothers song and more. I can’t wait to dig deeper into this album, which is perfect as an introduction or a continued exploration for fans who already know they love what the band offers.
At long last the new Wallflowers single “Reboot The Mission” is available to stream via Rolling Stone, and tomorrow you’ll be able to find it for free download at thewallflowers.com. The new single off the band’s upcoming album Glad All Over, due out in October, is their first since 2005′s Rebel, Sweetheart, and showcases the band revamping its sound to be both retro and modern. The goal, says Jakob Dylan, was to be “a rock band that could make a dance track too, without crossing over to the extreme side,” and by bringing in the Clash’s Mick Jones to play guitar and contribute guest vocals, the result is a perfect blend of Some Girls-era Rolling Stones with hints of early Clash.
It’s hard to imagine Joe Strummer wouldn’t have had fun with this one. Though it is still way too early to get a sense of what the whole album’s going to sound like, but if you’re going to reintroduce yourself to the world of pop music in the year 2012, clearly the Wallflowers had the right idea here: go for the throat with a solid hook while pushing your own musical envelope in directions your band hasn’t yet taken. It’s unlikely the single’s going to get much radio play — nothing good does these days. But it’s replayable, ear-catching and an overall invigorating listen which bodes well for the band’s future. I, for one, can’t wait for my chance to hear this live!
You haven’t heard the Trillions. But if you’re a fan of Weezer, you’ll enjoy hearing the Trillions.
These are nuggets of blissful 90s alt-pop held in a time capsule and released cryogenic-fresh for your audio enjoyment. This Richmond, Virginia “shred-pop foursome” has a new album, The Tritones, coming out next week, and their brand new single “The Experts” is available to stream or download above. Still, I’m partial to the addictive-yet-simple concept of “You Got To Be Kidding Me!”, which is punctuated by frequent echoes of Fountains of Wayne-esque “oh yeahs” and distinctive vocals which, coupled with the effectively simple guitar hooks, will hold your brain for ransom. You can view their video for below and decide for yourself, but you’ve been warned!
Bottom Line: The Trillions are working their way up the hard way, as complete indies, but their dedication to helping foster a stronger local music scene is laudable, and the music itself is top-notch. Give the Trillions a shot and you’re likely to become one of their soon-to-be-legions of loyal fans.
Sunday Lane has warranted mention on Hear! Hear! before. Her EP Bring Me Sunshine was a breath of fresh air when I stumbled on it last summer, a piano-driven mashup of Colbie Caillat and Ingrid Michaelson which maintained enough alt-country flair to keep every song on the tip of your tongue long after you last listened. Clearly I’m not the only one to think so; One Tree Hill revived the album with their season premiere this year, which featured Sunday Lane’s music prominently enough to ignite a blowup of interest in this talented young songwriter.
But when, you might ask, are we going to get more than an EP? The wait, thankfully, is not a long one. Sunday Lane’s first full-length album, From Where You Are, releases to ITunes tomorrow, and from what I can gather from the two exclusive singles she’s graciously allowed us to share here at “Hear! Hear!” – see above, y’all! — the album is going to more than live up to the hype.
“Waiting For You” has to be the sentimental favorite. The song opens with just Lane’s stunning vocals and a bare-bones piano backdrop: “I gave you everything and truth is I’d do it all again,” she sings. “But you’ll never change for me …” The song builds magnificently, a full-blooded arrangement which more than supports Lane’s powerful vocals. The build at the chorus is so intense you’ll be singing along long before the song ends, and repeats will be mandatory. This is a single crying out for radio love.
But then there’s “A Little Too Young,” the bouncier pop nugget which shows the lighter side of Lane’s songwriting style. Even as the lyrics touch on love’s darker edges, the arrangement here keeps things sunny and bright, a singalong waiting to happen as the chorus builds: “I’m a little too young to feel this old,” she sings, backs by a chorus of “whoah oh whoah oh oh’s” and a wall of shimmering horns. This is summer in a bottle, and if the rest of the album keeps building on this momentum, From Where You Are is going to be the only place discerning music fans want to be in the coming weeks.
Lana Del Rey’s video for “Video Games” took the web by storm earlier this year and the question became when would she dare release a full length album and prove there was more to her success than a fluke viral video? The answer, I’m told, is that Born To Die will be issued on January 31, 2012 on Interscope Records. Recently featured in Rolling Stone’s “Hot Issue” while being dubbed Vogue’s “most striking singer of 2012,” Del Rey’s shows have been selling out amid strong demand for this young songwriter’s innovative blend of retro torch music. Needless to say, Born To Die is set to be this critic’s most anticipated album of the first quarter (so far). I suspect that if the material on the album matches the quality of her early internet work, she’ll have a surefire hit on her hands. You can listen to the title track below:
When I wrote in July about Jack’s Mannequin’s upcoming new album People and Things, due for an October 4th release, I knew I was going to have plenty to enjoy about the new songs regardless of long long I’d have to wait to hear them. But the more I’ve learned about Andrew McMahon’s latest effort, the more I am convinced this is certain to become his magnum opus. I present for you his own trailer for the album, which describes in his own words the pain and power behind the material on People and Things. I’ve transcribed his words below. They say more than I could say about why this should be one of the most invigorating listens of the fall. [Any mistakes in the transcription of the video are my own. And all the links have been added by me, for those of you who want to explore deeper.]
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Seven years ago I started making music for a project I called Jack’s Mannequin. I was 22 years old. I wanted to tell a story. Up to that point the story was pretty interesting: My high school band had become teen idols. We toured and recorded constantly. Eventually things came apart. In my life, when things fall apart, things start coming together. I started over. I made a record about breaking up, week-long benders and pop music.
The next part was unexpected. I got sick. So sick that, six years later, it’s the one thing people talk to me about the most. People called me a lot of things after I got better – a fighter, a hero, an inspiration. I didn’t see it that way. I made a record about that. I hated that record for some time. It was a reminder of what sickness had taken from me: my youth.
I love that record now.
I thought about not making records after that. I thought about a lot of things. I started writing music; lots of music. I wanted to talk about the world I lived in. A world where love is not the stuff of greeting cards. An entrenched world, worth fighting for. A world of tenuous connections, drifting in and out of relevance. I travelled the country with these songs. I wrote some of them with dear friends. I began recording, but something was missing.
I started over.
I wrote more songs. I moved to the desert with my band and they learned to play them. We returned to LA, and with the help of some friends, we committed them, once and for all, to record.
I love this album for what it says and for what it took to get there. It may not be life or death, but it’s life. It’s my new record, and it’s called People and Things.
With a lead singer who looks like Tim Meadows and a sound that’s straight-up retro funk fusion, Brooklyn-based Mighty Fine has a sound which truly lives up to their name. This is the perfect music to blast out loud as we all come down from the long weekend, and it’d make a perfect mix with some Imelda May and Fitz and the Tantrums to showcase the wild unpredictability of 2011′s revivalist leanings. The band’s already made the rounds with TV on the Radio and Clap Your Hands & Say Yeah while promoting 2006′s The Dirty Sessions, and they’ve been working on what was to become 2011′s Get Up To Get Down since 2008, recording everything on 12-track tape live, to preserve the raw sound and fury of a Mighty Fine show intact on record. That album comes out October 25th, but until then you can enjoy the fresh funk of “Black Train,” which debuted today. Download the song here if you get hooked like I did — all it’ll cost you is an email address.
For those of you who, like me, follow news of new Jon McLaughlin music with a respectful sense of anticipation, you’ll be glad to hear his latest album, Forever If Ever, will see the light of day September 6th. More important, it sounds like he’s getting to go back to the sound of his first (and best) album Indiana, if this live performance of the title track can be properly judged. It’s a beautiful piano arrangement of a song that showcases his ability to craft a pop hook without drowning in modern pop mediocrity. Here’s hoping the new album gives his music enough room to breathe, because it could be one of 2011′s best pop albums … we’ll just have to wait and see!
Needless to say, McLaughlin is a central Indiana pop music treasure, and if you haven’t had the chance to hear his stuff, by all means check it out! You won’t be disappointed. Especially if you give Indiana an extended listen or three.
Bon Iver – “Bon Iver” (2011, Jagjaguwar)
Reviewer: Matthew Sanderlin
Justin Vernon, founder and leader of indie-rock team Bon Iver, has never taken the easy route. The man had spearheaded several other independent bands before his success with Bon Iver, each previous group being critically lauded, but sadly unsuccessful commercially. Vernon fell especially hard after the disintegration of his long-time group, DeYarmond Edison, and took the breakup as a sign to seek seclusion in an isolated cabin.
For Emma, Forever Ago, Bon Iver’s unsuspectingly gorgeous and additionally enduring debut album, took refuge in Vernon’s prior defeats, only to raise them from the dead and bolster them towards new heights with dignity.
Bon Iver, the eponymous second and latest Bon Iver project, is no safe bet either. Where For Emma was uninhibited and raw, Bon Iver is careful and clean. Rusty guitar strings and nearly-primal vocal outbursts are swapped for shimmering guitar strands and meticulous harmonic structures. No safe points here.
It’s not like it would be that difficult to spot the instant contrast on even the album’s opener, “Perth,” but “Holocene” is the clearest example of the “new” Bon Iver sound. The guitar picking is coated in a harp-like essence, engulfing its neighboring sounds with sincerity and serenity. The unorthodox percussion arrives late in the track; dropping subtle hints at first, and then following it with a controlled charge.
Lead single “Calgary” also displays sonic innovation, with its foggy synth padding, stirring guitar slides and methodical drum arrangement. The difference here is that the melody truly shines above even the carefully-constructed soundscape with a gripping and memorable formulation.
And that’s the true trick when it comes to Vernon’s second Bon Iver endeavor. Surely, there are some magnificent melodies aboard the Bon Iver vessel. “Perth” is a truly spectacular anthem, followed by the overwhelmingly gorgeous declaration “Minnesota, WI,” and resolved by the strikingly winsome vintage-tinged finale “Beth/Rest.” But not all are quite as charming.
“Wash.,” a close relative of previously-released tune “Beach,” is not an irredeemable piece, but it is far from immediate with its seemingly unfocused melody and off-putting, simple piano patter. Additionally, “Lisbon, OH” is purely filler material, and “Hinnom, TX” pushes the limit in the “nasally voice” department.
I will admit that repeated listens to Bon Iver are highly encouraged if one is to extract the succulent juices surrounding its coveted core. Still, it’s not wholly accessible, and not generally as immediate as For Emma. If you’re already a fan and can handle a substantial shift in sound, then definitely go for it. Otherwise, I’d listen to the album beforehand to see if you’re up for the “repeated listens in order to crack this coconut” type of ordeal.
Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Small Kingdoms is a band worth checking out, even if there’s not a great deal of information about them on the internet at the moment. Their new album, She-Devil, has been in the works for seven months and is finally available to be premiered via Soundcloud. Featuring a blend of alternative rock and hip-hop (sounding somewhat in the vein of Gym Class Heroes), they’ve crafted quality recordings which showcase their sound fully and smartly. This does not sound like something recorded independently; the quality’s there for a national push if they can get the right promotion behind it. Check out “Rat Bastard” and “The 15s and the 45s” and tell me this isn’t a group headed for bigger things. I dare you!
Jack’s Mannequin’s third album, People and Things, has a release date! And fans who pre-order the album will gain access to a bonus track, “My Racing Thoughts,” to tide them over until the album actually drops on October 2nd. Andrew McMahon, the man behind the music, has this to say:
“I consider ‘People and Things’ a relationship record. My goal with many of the songs was to strip away the flowery language and sentiment attached to newer love and replace it with starker, less blinded language about more binding love. In the time following the last Jack’s album the people in my world were moving in together, getting married, trying to find quote unquote ‘real jobs’ and reconciling new lives that looked a lot less like youth than some of us cared for. Marriage is a bit of a beast to tackle in a pop record but when I wrote ‘My Racing Thoughts,’ it became clear how powerful and loaded a subject this kind of love is and somewhere in that moment I began to lock into the broad concept for the writing sessions to come.”
Fans who can’t wait to hear the new music can check out Jack’s Mannequin during this year’s post-Warped Tour dates with opening act Guster (always good for some amazing live moments, themselves!) A full list of tour dates can be found on the band’s official website.
I’ve just received word from Mike Doughty’s record label that the erstwhile Soul Coughing frontman turned solo superman has announced his upcoming album Yes and Also Yes for an August 3oth release date on Snack Bar / Megaforce / Solo Red records. Normally I don’t reprint press releases, but I found this one amusing, so I’ll quote below:
TEN THINGS MIKE DOUGHTY WOULD LIKE YOU TO KNOW ABOUT HIS NEW ALBUM…
# 1 “The title, YES AND ALSO YES was the headline of my profile on an online dating site. I improvised it off the top of my head, because they wouldn’t let me post until I wrote a headline. I was unsuccessful at online dating”
# 2 “The first single, “NA NA NOTHING”, was partially stolen from a song written by Nikki Sixx, Dan Wilson (wrote “Closing Time”), and Matt Gerrard (wrote a bunch of tunes in “High School Musical.”) (I got their permission to steal it)”
# 3 ”Holiday,” a Christmas song, is a duet with Rosanne Cash. I did a show with her, and she said, onstage, “I feel nervous playing my new songs, because Mike Doughty is here, and he’s such a great songwriter.” That BLEW MY MIND.
# 4 “The song “Into the Un” was written for, and rejected by the Twilight soundtrack. (It’s about goth kids on LSD in a train station)”
# 5 “I recorded it in a studio in Koreatown, Manhattan, from July ’10 to April ’11. Pat Dillett produced. Notable musicians included my trusty factotum Andrew “Scrap” Livingston on bass, and the pianist Thomas Bartlett, aka Doveman, who basically plays with everbody who’s groovy (Justin Bond, Antony and the Johnsons, Glen Hansard, the National, David Byrne, Yoko Ono). I’m releasing it on my own label, SNACK BAR, through Megaforce. I split with Dave Matthews’ label ATO so I could run my own shop and have more control, business-wise.”
# 6 “I wrote most of the songs at the legendary artists’ colony Yaddo, where Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, James Baldwin, Truman Capote, Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, Sylvia Plath, and a lot of other all-time giants worked. It was founded by a railroad tycoon’s wife, in her mansion, built in the 1890s. They put up artists for a month or two, feed them in an opulent dining room, and give them space and time to work.”
# 7 “I used a capsule of the antidepressant duloxetine as a percussion instrument on some tracks. I held the tiny pill between my thumb and forefinger, put it close to the mic and shook it so it made a shcka-shcka-shcka! sound.”
# 8 “I wrote a book about my ugly, drug-doing years called THE BOOK OF DRUGS. It’s coming out in 2012 on Da Capo/Perseus.”
# 9 “The song “Makelloser Mann” is in German”
# 10 “I play a Chinese lute (called a zhong ruan) on the song “Telegenic Exes #1”
# 10.5 “…in the liner notes, I say I exclusively wear Paul Smith suits and Sol Moscot eyeglasses, and eat only gummi bears made by Haribo. I did this because I hope they’ll send me free stuff…”
Here’s hoping the new album lives up to the hype! Mike Doughty’s one of those original songwriters who has a stylistic flair that’s been lacking among his contemporaries. He also happens to have been on my “must see this artist” bucket list. Enjoy my videos of “True Dreams of Wichita,” “Fort Hill” and “Girl In The Blue Dress” below from a show he put on in Indianapolis in 2008.
EDITED on 7/25 to update release date to August 30, 2011, and to add a more recent photo.
In a burst of excellent news, Okkervil River will be streaming a live performance of their complete, new album I Am Very Far, which won’t otherwise be available until May 10th! You can get this stream courtesy of NPR Music, starting at 6 p.m. central / 7 p.m. eastern time as an audio / video webcast for a limited time at this address.
The webcast marks the first chance to hear ‘I Am Very Far,’ which has already garnered critical acclaim. SPIN raved that the album “often [recalls] Dylan in deep-basement mode.” Billboard said the new songs “push sonic boundaries even by Okkervil River standards” and Uncut praised it as “thrilling” and “their best album yet.”
Today, JAGJAGUWAR released “I Am Very Far: The Lyrics Book” by frontman Will Sheff, a hardbound lyrics book meant to function as an entrance point into the album’s music. Order it here: http://bit.ly/fzgDmW
Okkervil River has also added several new headlining dates to their upcoming tour in support of ‘I Am Very Far,’ which includes a show at NYC’s Terminal 5 on June 7th. See below for a full tour schedule.
4/28 – New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks
4/29 – Oxford, MS – Double Decker Festival: AT&T South Stage
4/30 – Dallas, TX @ Gexa Energy Pavilion (w/ Arcade Fire)
5/31 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse * #
6/01 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle * #
6/02 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club * #
6/03 – Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero Theatre * #
6/04 – New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place * #
6/07 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5 #
6/08 – Boston, MA @ Royale * #
6/09 – Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom * #
6/10 – Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre * #
6/11 – Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall * #
6/12 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue * #
6/14 – Omaha, NE @ Slowdown *
6/15 – Denver, CO @ The Bluebird Theater *
6/16 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge *
6/17 – Boise, ID @ Egyptian Theatre *
6/18 – Seattle, WA @ Neptune Theatre *
6/20 – Vancouver, BC @ The Vogue Theatre * &
6/21 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom * &
6/22 – Oakland, CA @ The Fox Theater * &
6/23 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern * $
6/24 – Solana Beach, CA @ The Belly Up Tavern * $
6/25 – Tucson, AZ @ Rialto Theatre * $
6/27 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater *
6/28 – Lubbock, TX @ Jake’s * $
* w/ Titus Andronicus
# w/ Future Islands
& w/ Julianna Barwick
$ w/ NewVillager
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For more information, visit http://www.okkervilriver.com.
It’s clear after ten seconds of Paul Simon’s new single, “The Afterlife,” that the American songmaster is back in his best form, making So Beautiful or So What, his upcoming spring release, all the more difficult to wait for.
For all of you who are too young to understand why Simon is a legend of American songwriting, think for a moment about whose albums Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints inspired the complete sound of popular indie act Vampire Weekend. But when the man’s at peak form, he puts all the imitators to shame … “The Afterlife” is one of those perfectly “Simonesque” songs that sucks you in from the first hints of bluegrass-meets-zydeco bliss, and it’s distinctly him. Very few artists today can lay claim to such a solid blueprint.
Minnesota’s really been a hotbed for the development of smart, innovative alternative hip hop, and Doomtree Crew’s been right up there for raw creativity. Andrew Sims (a.k.a. Sims) is set to release his second solo album, Bad Time Zoo, on February 15, 2011. And while I’ve heard a few of the new tracks (but can’t release them yet) I can vouch that this is an envelope-pushing LP from a rapper with a strong flow and lyrical sense that rivals Atmosphere or Brother Ali for raw explosive exploration. I can tell you this: “Burn It Down” is destined to break this guy into the mainstream if there’s any justice in the world.
Preview Sims’ first solo album Lights Out Paris at Bandcamp:
and check out his performance of “Key Grip” from that album, via a live performance:
Leave it to Josh Groban to craft an album with Rick Rubin that completely defies the “stripped down” reputation Rubin has built for himself over all those albums with Johnny Cash.
Full disclosure — I’m an unabashed Groban fan, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I even sang “You Raise Me Up” at my own wedding, for what that’s worth. But the new material on Illuminations pushes Groban in a smart direction. Clearly he’s not afraid to embrace his role in the music world as a lover of bombast, a singer of big songs for listeners who crave symphonic pop that isn’t ashamed to be as much pop as symphonic. Classical? Hardly. Glorious? If you keep an open mind, certainly.
“Hidden Away” is destined to become Groban’s biggest crowd-pleasing hit since “You Raise Me Up,” because he’s able to embrace a broad theme — don’t hide your talents and beauty beneath a bushel and all that — without drowning in saccharine treacle. Rubin’s production steps deftly to the side and lets Groban’s voice do the work, and the hook is right there to latch onto. It’s going to stick in your head and dare you not to try and sing along, matching Groban note for note.
There’s been a lot of talk about whether the song has a hidden message of religious or sexual tolerance. Whether Groban is gay is hardly relevant, but if the song is picked up by someone who is, and it gives him or her some sense of acceptance, I say let them take up the song as a shield. It could work in much the same way as Five For Fighting’s “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” which many took to be a direct reference to September 11th, despite the album it was on having been released six months prior. Did that take away from the effect the song had on all of us after September 11th?
In the end we take from a song what we put into it. And “Hidden Away” is a fine contribution to Groban’s musical legacy, one which I suspect will have a long shelf-life. And if you haven’t given Illuminations a listen yet, what are you waiting for?
Can this Only Son upcoming album release for Searchlight get any more tantalizing before the world gets to hear it in full? Short answer: “Hell yes!” With “It’s A Boy,” his second single off the album (which isn’t even out until January 18, 2011, former Moldy Peaches guitarist Jack Dishel rocks things into a whole new dimension by taking on … eugenics? Again: “Hell yes!” In one of the creepiest videos I’ve seen in a long time, played completely straight by Dishel, with Aleksa Palladino (of Boardwalk Empire) and her EXITMUSIC bandmate Devon Church providing able support, is a (not so distant) future where the perfect child can be built from scratch … for a price. And those who can’t pay … well, it’s best not to think about it.
Check out the video before it goes super-viral, so you can say you saw it first! (Lyrics below). And as soon as I can get a full-length review copy of the album, I’ll run a review by you all to further draw out the anticipation.
Let’s start with the baby’s gender … do you know what you both want?
Well, we’ve discussed it, and we’re pretty sure we’d like to have a boy.
Okay … that’s fine.
Six-two with perfect vision, good teeth and perfect skin.
Block the addiction gene and quarrantine his temper if you can.
Okay … we’ll see.
He needs a homing chip put deep inside his wrist,
In case somebody tries to steal our “little Prince.”
You’re not the first in line, and I don’t have a lot of time.
And if you’ll look I’m sure you wouldn’t mind
To pick one of our stock designs.
I’ll leave it with you.
He shouldn’t have to go to school like all those people off the grid.
He needs a good head start, like every single normal other kid.
I’m sure we’ll find a way to pay …
He needs a humor chip – put it second on the list,
For when he’s old enough to realize where he is.
And if we can’t afford to give him what he’s worth,
Just make sure that he’s strong enough to work.
You’re not the first in line, and I’m running out of time.
I can recommend a friend of mine who deals with our “low budget” line.
But if you want to make him right, so he has a better life
You can sign us back his human rights and get him now for half the price.
It’s a pretty good deal …
These guys are like clockwork, producing classic, raw alternative-rock / country year after year. Their latest effort, Go Go Boots, comes out a mere eleven months after 2010′s stellar The Big To-Do, and judging by this live cut, it’s going to be as good as ever.
The new album comes out February 15th, and if you pre-order on their website, you’ll have a shot at winning a pair of tickets for every DBTs show in 2011 (at least every show after February 15, 2011). As usual there are multiple ways to buy the album, everything from a $9.99 digital download to a $74.99 “Deluxe Edition” including vinyl, bonus tracks, the full CD, the digital version of the album, a special DVD of videos and a series of special art prints from Wes Freed, who has been designing the band’s album covers for years.
As a special bonus, check out one of my favorite recent DBTs songs, “This Fucking Job,” performed live on Letterman from back in March.