MusicMonday finally returns from an extended hiatus with a bunch of tasty jams, new and old! Find out what the CL Music Team is listening to rocket launch the work week. Click here to check out previous entries.
Leilani - Django Django, Django Django (Ribbon Music) Upon first listen through the eponymous debut from Scottish foursome Django Django, I decided I finally found a group that was proudly carrying the torch of the Beta Band, with just the right mix of organic, electronic and quirk. And it's no wonder; Django bandleader David Maclean is the younger brother of Betas keyboardist John Maclean. This band genre-nabs elements of garage pop, '70s rock, New Wave, modern dance music, art rock and psychedelia, and adds a healthy dose of vibrant percussive texture, weirdo moments, exquisite vocal harmonies (ethereal, droning, sweet, looped and layered), with bits of sample and synth flotsam scattered amid it all. I am definitely in love. Check out the video for "Hail Bop" after the jump and read the rest of this week's MM entries.
Joel - Japandroids, Celebration Rock (2012) When I was younger I hated when some old, out-of-touch asshole ranted about the death of rock n' roll. Now, at 31, I feel bombarded by EDM and anthemic pop/rock. Thank fuck for Japandroids. Two dudes playing ferocious, catchy, Springsteen-filtered garage-punk about partying and girls. Their 2012 SXSW performance set music blogs on fire and their debut full-length earned them a Polaris Prize nomination for Best Album by a Canadian Artist. Celebration Rock is admittedly somewhat formulaic. Take lead single “The House That Heaven Built,” epitomizes the best and worst about Japandroids. (Video below.) Even four-minute songs sometimes seem too long considering this band’s style. But killer lead breaks and jubilant crowd chants are a beautiful formula to abuse, and Celebration Rock is a deep breath of fresh air. Or perhaps more appropriately, a massive punch to rock music’s “reset button.” (Critics' Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Stars)
Shae - Various Artists, Empire Records Soundtrack (1995) Whenever I start growing depressed about getting older, I feel the need to pour salt in the wound by waxing nostalgic and listening to the music of my youth. This morning it's the soundtrack to Empire Records, my favorite movie in middle school. This album is quintessential end-of-the-dial '90s alt-pop. Gin Blossoms? Check. The Cranberries? Check. Better than Ezra? Yeah, them, too.
I remember listening to The Martinis' "Free" on repeat at 3 a.m. with my best friend as we plotted how, as soon as we turned 18, we were going to shave our heads and get far, far away from our nowhere-PA hometowns. And while I've never shaved my head, I did leave at 18, and I still roll down my windows and blast "Free" as I speed down the highway, feeling rebellious, and still bedroom dance to The Meices' "Ready, Steady, Go." While my boyfriend and I argue about whether or not the movie holds up after all this time (I say yes), there's no question the soundtrack does. After all, this music is the glue of the world.
Julie - The Oh Sees, Putrifiers II (2012) More satisfying than a Snickers when your ears long for rock that's got a little garage rust without the predictability.
Gabe - T. Rex, Dandy In The Underworld (1977) Marking the anniversary of the tragic loss of T.Rex frontman (any my personal idol) Marc Bolan several weeks ago, I decided to make it a strictly-Bolan month ... and it's carried over into this Monday morning. Thirty-five years ago, the father of glam rock seemed to be on an upswing in his career. Following a few good albums that had failed to chart in his native UK, Bolan seemed like he was forever reduced to a musical dinosaur in the wake of the exciting UK punk rock explosion. However, with the release of this album, he re-established himself as a viable force thanks to the strength and return-to-form of Dandy In The Underworld. He's also gained the nod of approval from plenty of the punks that were in vogue in 1977, too; Siouxsie Sioux was a firm supporter in the press and The Damned went so far as to jump on a touring bill supporting Bolan in the summer of '77. The album garnered respectable chart success and boasted a few hit singles, too. Sadly, a fatal car crash claimed the life of Marc Bolan and Dandy In The Underworld, his last album, would remain as his legacy. Sounding remarkably fresh and energized, Bolan was destined to revive his career and re-establish himself as the rock giant he was. Luckily, we still have this (and the rest of the magnificent T. Rex catalog) to entertain us and thrill us for many more years to come.
Taylor - Luminate, Welcome to Daylight (2012); Chris August, The Upside of Down (2012); Remedy Drive, Resuscitate (2012), TobyMac, Eye On It (2012) Lots of new releases circling my ears these past few weeks. I've clearly been on an anthemic Contemporary Christian kick lately, and these albums are doing the trick.
Valerie - Alex Clare, Lateness of the Hour (2011) I came across Alex Clare's album on Spotify's top list for the UK, the song "Too Close" sounded familiar — definitely heard it on the radio and apparently also in an Internet browser commercial. Right from the first track "Up All Night," the tribal rhythms thump along thick basslines that are dubstep reminiscent, but not enough to make it annoying. By mid-album, “Hands Are Clever” comes out of nowhere with a strong bluesy intro, a horns section followed by a soulful group chorus. His debut work is the perfect balance of versatile vocals, danceable beats, essential slow jams and that extra inexplicable British charm.
Deborah - Jessie Ware, Devotion (2012) The British vocalist's contributions to the SBTRKT album and a gushing "Best New Music" recommendation from Pitchfork.com earned Devotion a listen, though I expected to blow off it's saccharine-sweet pop a few songs in. Surprisingly, within the first 24 hours I owned the album, I played "Wildest Moments" 25 times (video below); I never thought the album would be just too catchy to stop playing.
Ware's vocals are an instant reminder of early '90's Whitney Houston or Jennifer Lopez, but layered atop R&B-influenced pop-tronica, it provides something hip and effortless about it that feels like the decade's influence is back in the right way for the first time.
Nicole (elawgrrl) - Frank Turner, Last Minutes and Lost Evenings (Xtra Mile/Epitaph, 2012) “Life is about love, last minutes and lost evenings, about fire in our bellies and furtive little feelings, and the aching amplitudes that set our needles all a-flickering, and help us with remembering that the only thing that’s left to do is live.” Yep. The title of this comp is from the lyrics of the song that introduced me to Frank Turner in 2008 via a Lucero Message Board Comp, I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous. That song stayed with me for days after I first heard it and I haven’t stopped listening to Frank Turner since. That’s pretty much how Frank’s music affects people — it stays with you long after the first listen and not just because many of the songs are of decidedly ear-worm quality but because he has an unparalleled knack of connecting with people’s heart and souls in addition to their ears.
And now I am so glad that Frank Turner has selected a fantastic collection of 15 songs for this new compilation, including tried-and-true fan favorites, like “Substitute” and “The “Ballad of Me and My Friends,” as well as new hit sensations like “I Still Believe.” Last Minutes & Lost Evenings is available for download from iTunes for a mere $7.99, but if you order from Epitaph for $8.99, you also get a DVD copy of Frank’s sold-out Wembley Stadium show. Longtime Frank Turner fans will want the DVD if for no other reason than seeing Frank Turner on stage with Billy Bragg playing “The Times They Are a Changin’.”
While I love to listen to Frank recorded, the best thing ever is experiencing a Frank Turner show live. He actually manages to create a sense of community at shows (see attached photo where he managed last weekend to get 1,400 people to play air harmonica with him in one of the hippest places on earth, NYC). Frank, more often than not with his band The Sleeping Souls, has played in Tampa Bay several times over the past few years — with Dropkick Murphys at The Ritz (March 2012), Andrew Jackson Jihad at Crowbar (September 2011), Social Distortion and Lucero at Jannus Landing (November 2010), Flogging Molly at The Ritz (March 2010), the first Revival Tour at The State Theatre (2009), and even Transitions Art Gallery before that! If you haven’t heard of Frank Turner, get this record so you’ll be ready to sing-a-long with all your heart the next time he plays here, and also so you have a chance at claiming, “I knew Frank Turner before he was famous,” because the window on that claim is nearly shut. Check out Frank playing "Photosynthesis" (a favorite track of mine that didn't make it on the comp) below at The Ritz in March.
Shanna - Foxy Shazam, "Oh Lord" (2010) My new favorite song this week. Found out about this band through a new friend. I thought for a minute that maybe the lead singer was actually a chick dressed in man drag, but his voice really is that high. It's awesome and I totally want to marry him - and this song.