The post regarding that time I listened to David Bowie’s “Where Are We Now?” and discovered a cure for insomnia
I made it through thirty seconds of David Bowie’s stunningly disappointing single “Where Are We Now?” before I found myself searching for a place to rest my head in disappointment. The weak excuse for a chorus, the ploddingly maudlin melody and Bowie’s ridiculously obtuse lyricism combine to beg the question: “Why now, Bowie?” Excuse me while I revisit ‘”Space Oddity” and Ziggy Stardust, rather than endure even one more replay of this lame excuse for a comeback.
Maybe I’m completely off my rocker. If so, you’ll surely convince me in the comments. But if the only way he can goose this onto a top 40 chart is to give the single away as part of a “pre-order deal” for his upcoming album, don’t expect the song to have much ground to stand on.
Give thanks! Don Ryan lets it all hang loose with “Vulture,” proof that alt-country and punk serve up perfect together
As though there weren’t already about ten thousand reasons to love the hell out of Don Ryan’s flamethrower-punk version of alternative country, “Vultures” will prove he remains at the top of his game. This three-minute barrage of fast-strummed acoustic guitar and a full-on bullet-train of percussion and frantic vocals, the song features Ryan’s signature sound laid bare in all its glory. If the country establishment hadn’t ruined Hank Williams III forever by forcing his Grandaddy’s sound on him in the 90s, he might naturally have come along with something akin to this firecracker when Curb had their shot at him. Instead, Don Ryan’s fighting the good fight in relative obscurity. Shine a light, musical brothers! Music this good deserves a wider audience. Play it for Grandma at Thanksgiving dinner and see if she doesn’t agree!
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Check out footage from the filming of this video (available on Thanksgiving), plus get a copy of the new song via the band’s Bandcamp page. The single will be on Ryan’s forthcoming, as yet untitled, EP. For more information about Don Ryan, check out these older posts on “Hear! Hear!”
- UNDER COVER: Don Ryan – “This Lullabye” (April 8, 2012)
- ARTIST TO WATCH: Don Ryan (October 25, 2011)
Three albums in four months should showcase how Green Day’s musical balls hang so much lower than the rest of ours, there’s no competition. Case-in-point: their new video, which showcases 40-year-old Billie Joe and company rocking out in front of a harem of trashy women who put Courtney Love to shame, while pretending to be twenty years younger.
Won’t you rain on me tonight?
Please don’t pass me by
Don’t stop when the red lights flash
Won’t you take me close to you
Okay, midlife crisis. I’ll give the song a pass because the hook is mindlessly catchy and it’s sure to wind up being a staple on today’s “play twenty songs over and over” top 40 lists. But if they’re going to make three albums worth of material deliver, they’d better really bring the juice on ¡Uno! come September 25, or the real question is going to be ¿Does anyone really give a damn? about ¡Dos! or ¡Tre!
Judge for yourself and sound off in the comments. Is Green Day’s new single up to snuff, or should the band hang it up before they embarrass themselves?
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!
A decade and a half after making early waves in
New York’s mid-90s alt-rock scene, the Pontoons return
with a new single and what may be the longest-gestating
debut album of the era. Was it worth the wait?
Short answer: Definitely.
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4/2/2012 Update: The video at the bottom of this page is the brand-new official video for “Antidote,” directed by Tim Ticehurst, rather than merely the audio for the song.
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In Billboard’s November 1994 issue, Larry Flick wrote that a certain indie-pop band from New York City had “one of the best debuts of the year” with their first single “Juncos and Robins.”
The Pontoons, by that point, had built their reputation through three years of steady touring around New York City. So to the industry reps who continuously trolled such clubs trying to find the next Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins, there was every indication the band was set to carve out a niche in the burgeoning alt-rock scene.
“At the time we were playing out in NYC and the Northeast more [often] than we found ourselves in the studio,” says drummer Christian Harper. “This was mostly due to our efforts to build a local following, but also because we were young and didn’t have the finances to bankroll an entire album.”
Choosing instead to focus on improving their live shows, while building strong word of mouth via college radio for “Juncos and Robins” and “Landslide,” they eventually fell through the cracks. Without ever recording a full-length album, the Pontoons broke up in 1996.
“In retrospect we probably should have focused more on recording,” Harper says. “But we were drawn by the thrill of playing gigs and loved having that direct interaction [with fans].”
With timing being everything – their brief “heyday” preceded the mp3 revolution by half a decade – the Pontoons seemed destined to remain a footnote in the overcrowded historical landscape which is the 90s alternative movement, their blend of REM-inspired jangle-pop to remain virtually out of print. And that’s how it might have remained, were it not for a chance reunion a few years ago.
“We’d rallied around the idea of working together and producing the full-length album we never made,” Harper says. “Tom and I were able to reconnect with our original recording engineer Sal Mormando, and when we shared our plan he was excited about the idea of working with us again. Everybody loves a comeback story, right? Regardless, we’re having a great time and have realized how much we missed making music together.”
Mormando has produced albums for Patti Smith, Billy Squire and Dayna Kurtz among many others, and is currently mixing the upcoming Pontoons full-length, keeping their original sound at the forefront. The latest single, “Antidote” (which you can view a video for below) showcases the duo’s jangle-pop guitar arpeggios, tight rhythms and Tom Hunt’s distinct vocals for three minutes which barely whet the appetite before the obligatory repeat listens. It is a sound as eerily reminiscent of REM as it is more obscure early-90s alt fare like Trip Shakespeare, an early forebear of what became Semisonic.
But that’s what fans who heard the band 15 years ago came to expect, and the new single blends seamlessly with the music of their past while suggesting at the same time that the future looks incredibly bright.
Timing may indeed be everything. With this much talent coming together to produce the album which almost never was, the stars seem to be ready to align in the Pontoons’ favor. With any luck “Antidote” will prove to be exactly that, a refreshing counterbalance to the decidedly lacking state of pop music thus far in 2012. Their current plan is to self-release the album later this summer along with another single, and if the music remains as strong as our appetizer, expect to hear the praise spread rapidly.
It’s official: I can’t wait to hear the rest of what’s to come on What We Saw From The Cheap Seats, Regina Spektor’s upcoming album — which, I must predict, will surely be among the most original and invigorating pop releases of 2012. “All The Rowboats,” her latest single (which you can hear above), is the first song I’ve heard since Soviet Kitsch that fully encapsulates her unique vocal stylings. With pure pop verve and the sense of chaotic inventive inspiration which has always kept her best work just out of reach of the fans who prefer her poppiest songs, “All The Rowboats” is like a twisted ride down the river Styx, but with Spektor’s sultry voice filling in for Charon as ferryman. “Welcome to the tombs,” she sings: “The living dead fill every room / God I pity the violence,” as thundering propulsive percussion and frenetic piano give her vocals the perfect heft to steal your mind away. This is one of Spektor’s strongest singles yet, and if the rest of the album builds on this level of twisted deliciousness, the album’s going to be a juggernaut.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments!
This new track, just released a few hours ago by Nas via SoundCloud, shows why he’ll always have the strongest flow of any lyricist in the game, no matter what you want to say about him. One of the all time greats here, and he’s still got it! “Nasty” lays it all down over a minimalist beat heavy on the percussion, which allows the vocals to roll over these drums as the minimal synth punches add well-placed ear-catching accents.
This is the perfect showcase for Nas’s ridiculous rhyming abilities. Though the lyrics themselves stick to praising his skills and the women and rewards which come from success in the rap game, it’s hard to argue with the reasons behind that success The song should feature prominently on his yet to be released album, Life is Good, and if the rest of the album lives up to this track’s addictive flavor, this’ll be an album worth anticipating!
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.