Brand New – single and tour

I actually believe that middle-aged angst is more genuine and immediate than the early-life variety that most of us leave behind sometime after college.

Brand New, a band well-versed in the disenchantment of Gen X nihilism, returned last year with a caustic new single “Mene” and dropped an official release of the long-circulated Leaked Demos 2006 earlier this year.

Now, on the verge of a tour with Modest Mouse, Brand New unleash “I Am A Nightmare” on an unsuspecting world busy debating about Donald Trump, Blake Lively and other innocuous entertainment drivel.

3:20 of romantic miscreantry.

“I am a nightmare and you are a miracle.”

“Shake your zen out and give me pure energy.”

Yes! Indeed.

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/track=2622503459/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/transparent=true/

06-01-02 Vancouver, British Columbia – Vogue Theatre
06-04 Edmonton, Alberta – Union Hall
06-05 Calgary, Alberta – Macewan Hall Ballroom
06-06 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – O’Brians Event Centre
06-09-10 Toronto, Ontario- Sound Academy
06-11 Montreal, Quebec – Olympia De Montreal
06-28 Magna, UT – Saltair *
06-29 Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre *
07-01 Bonner Springs, KS – Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre *
07-02 Chicago, IL Firstmerit Bank, Pavilion *
07-03 Clarkston, MI – DTE Energy Music Theatre *
07-05 Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE *
07-06 Cary, NC – Koka Booth Amphitheater *
07-08 Miami, FL – Bayfront Park Amphitheater *
07-09 Tampa, FL – MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre *
07-10 Atlanta, GA – Chastain Park Amphitheater *
07-12 Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion *
07-14 New York, NY – Madison Square Garden *
07-15 Mansfield, MA – Xfinity Center *
07-16 Philadelphia, PA – Mann Center for Performing Arts *
07-19 Nashville, TN – Ascend Amphitheater *
07-21 Tulsa, OK – Bok Center *
07-22 Grand Prairie, TX – Verizon Field *
07-23 Del Valle, TX – Austin360 Amphitheater *
07-25 Phoenix, AZ – Comerica Theater *
07-26 Chula Vista, CA – Sleep Train Amphitheatre *
07-27 Inglewood, CA – The Forum *
07-28 Berkeley, CA – Greek Theater *
07-30 Seattle, WA – Keyarena *
07-31 Portland, OR – Moda Center *

Hammock – Everything and Nothing

 

hammock-600-3

I stumbled upon the meaning of adult life 9 years ago.

Not that I actually figured out much about what it all means. But my daughter, the one who’s unloading the dishwasher while I write this, was born and I was struck with the sudden epiphany of accountability.

hammock-600-4No excuses.

Lots of regrets.

Relentless pacing and emotional inventory.

Fierce belonging.

Explosive kindness.

Surprising mercy.

Hammock has spent the last 11 years soundtracking those kind of moments for thousands of completely unrelated stories from completely divergent individuals. J Edward Keyes writes “one of the most remarkable things about the Nashville duo Hammock has been their ability to almost uncannily translate the pulse and fiber of human emotion into actual chords and melodies.”

I couldn’t ever hope to improve on that sentence. http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=4067613091/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/

I don’t want to go into the details… The music tells the story. Throughout our body of work, we’ve lived with ghosts, not disembodied spirits, but the ghost-like memories of those who disappeared.  We’ve composed and sung songs to the dearly departed, passed over into oblivion with hymns of finite longing.  All the while inhabiting our own impermanence… in endless distraction from the whole catastrophe… Until it all became too much.  It was time to face life on life’s terms. – Marc Byrd

 

Bazan's Trouble With Boys

David Bazan is back, he never really disappeared but the man has such a finely tuned pop culture calendar, that just when you start wondering if he’s going to come out with a proper LP, the announcement drops.

Since 2011’s excellent Strange Negotiations Bazan has been releasing music directly to fans through limited edition releases, now he’s compiling ten of his best compositions for the label-issued Blanco.

“Trouble With Boys” is the first single from the forthcoming Blanco, and it’s vintage Bazan. Observational, heartfelt and almost cute …. if it wasn’t so heartbreakingly damn sad.

More on the new record from the official website:

“Blanco” will be released world-wide on May 13, 2016 by the fine folks at Barsuk Records! Blanco is made up of songs that were previously available in a very limited edition 7” vinyl series called Bazan Monthly, Volume 1 and Volume 2. David picked ten of those songs to update, remix and flesh out into a cohesive album format that’s easier for fans to collect and bring home.

BARK163LP_Gatefold

SONGS
Both Hands (Over My Eyes)
Oblivion
Kept Secrets
With You
Trouble With Boys
Teardrops
Little Landslide
Someone Else’s Bet
Over Again
Little Motor

Top 10 Albums of 2015 + Honorable Mentions

Better late than never – my top 10 albums of 2015 + honorable mentions.

 

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

There isn’t much left to say that hasn’t already been said about this powerhouse of an album. The most culturally and socially relevant album of my lifetime, To Pimp a Butterfly is the platform on which Kendrick attacks issues of race in America unlike any artist before him. The strongest track is “Alright,” which has become the soundtrack of the modern day civil rights movement. But more than just the chant of “We gonna be alright” being belted out across the country in the wake of unarmed African Americans being killed by police, “Alright” has an underlying cynicism about the current state of race relations that is poignant.

The album packs a punch start to finish. From the radio and club-friendly “King Kunta” to the angry, heart throttling beat on “The Blacker the Berry” to the album’s closing song “Mortal Man” where Kendrick engages in a conversation with Tupac. This is an album that we will tell our children about, if they don’t ask us about it first.

2. Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free

Jason Isbell has experienced enough heartache to last multiple lifetimes. Though the majority of it is – by his own admission – his doing, it is these experience that provide him with a unique ability to tell stories through his music that almost anyone can directly relate to. Isbell has been around the block, from the Drive By Truckers to the 400 Unit to now putting out two incredibly well-done solo albums. While 2013’s Southeastern announced his return to music, 2015’s Something More Than Free has solidified him as one of America’s most talented, if underappreciated, singer songwriters. The album’s first single “24 Frames” is powerful, conveying the fleeting nature of most everything in life, and the need to let go of things beyond your control. But for me, the standout track is “Flagship,” where Isbell’s desperate plea with himself to not repeat mistakes from past relationships comes through beautifully.

3. Radical Face – The Bastards

Ben Cooper, aka Radical Face, actually released this as four separate EPs (The Bastards: Volumes I, II, III, and IV) beginning in 2011 and concluding this past year. The Bastards is a break from his concept album trilogy The Family Tree (set to be completed in 2016), which follows “the story of a fictitious, sometimes otherworldly 19th century family called The Northcotes.” I often try not to include these types of compilation albums in end of year lists, but The Bastards comes across cohesively both in theme and sound. The standout track is the “Nightclothes,” which serves as a sweeping, haunting closing the album.

4. The Wonder Years – No Closer to Heaven

It’s a little depressing that it’s even possible for there to be an album that is a throwback to my angsty teenage years, but alas, I’m in my 30’s now and fully allowed to reminisce. No Closer to Heaven harkens back to pop-punk’s glory days at the start of the millennium, when Brand New, Saves the Day, and Alkaline Trio were ruling the roost. This album is great because it’s deep – conceptually, musically, lyrically. It takes you for a ride you might not expect, but once engaged, all you can do is hold on and enjoy it.

5. Twin Shadow – Eclipse

While great in spurts, previous albums by George Lewis, Jr. – aka Twin Shadow – could, as a whole, seem limited at times. Not so with his newest endeavor, Eclipse, which represents a giant step forward for Lewis. Stadium-sized tracks permeate the album, including “To the Top” and “Old Love/New Love.” If this progression continues, I can’t wait to hear what he comes up with next.

6. Kurt Vile – b’lieve I’m going down…

Whether labeled lo-fi, stoner rock, slacker rock, or what have you, for me Kurt Vile was the artist equivalent of apples – I feel like I should like them, but everytime I try them, I’m left wholly unsatisfied. That all changed with b’lieve I’m going down…I had trouble NOT listening to this album. It can be a good driving soundtrack, background music to a solid book, or as Mr. Cohea put it, a “mellow remedy for a slow-moving afternoon in the office.”

7. Tame Impala – Currents

Though released in July, Currents didn’t appear on my radar until November, but thank god it did. The album kicks off with the nearly 8-minute “Let It Happen,” and only picks up steam from there. With synth hooks as catchy as they come, this album didn’t escape critical acclaim – it was #4 and #13 on Spin and Rolling Stone’s Albums of 2015 lists, respectively.

8. Leon Bridges – Coming Home

Way outside my musical comfort zone, Leon Bridges’ Coming Home was a revelation to me this year. As a 5’9” white dude with few musical inclinations, soul is about the last thing I have. But every time I listen to this album, I feel like the ghost of Marvin Gaye.

9. Mumford and Sons – Wilder Mind

Yes, it’s different. But it’s also sooo good. As one Ryan Townsend said: If you really liked Mumford’s previous albums, you don’t like this album. I think that’s true to an extent, except that I always had a soft place in my heart for Mumford, and I still think this album is awesome. Listen to it, enjoy it, accept it.

10. Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy

The only reason this album isn’t higher is its lack of “hits.” A “rock opera” clocking in at 93 minutes and 29 tracks, The Most Lamentable Tragedy is truly a behemoth. Though the sum often feels greater than its parts, if you don’t have an hour and a half to spend getting your eardrums beat in, standout tracks include “Dimed Out,” “Fired Up,” “I Lost My Mind (+@)” and “Come On, Siobhan.”

 

Honorable Mention

  1. Grisbee – Sail Another Day
  2. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
  3. CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye
  4. Disclosure – Caracal
  5. City and Colour – If I Should Go Before You
  6. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
  7. Brandon Flowers – The Desired Effect

Best of 2015: Albums

BEST OF

Love and disappointment and success and miscalculations and friendship and the beach sand that gets stuck in the cuff of your raw selvedge denim. 2015 was both a reasonable year and totally insanely bonkers. Plus, I chose some albums that probably land me firmly in the adult contemporary-demo. Still, here’s my list …

10. Leon Bridges – Coming Home (Columbia)
9. Sleater Kinney – No Cities to Love (Sub Pop)
8. El-Vy – Return To The Moon (4AD)
7. Playdough – We Buy Gold
6. Ryan Adams – 1989 (Pax-AM)
5. Langhorne Slim – The Spirit Moves (Dualtone)
4. Twin Shadow – Eclipse (Warner)
3. Brandon Flowers – The Desired Effect (Island)
2. Kurt Vile – b’lieve i’m goin down (Matador)
1. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)

Honorable mentions: Wilco – Star Wars, Modest Mouse – Strangers to Ourselves, CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye, Eels – Royal Albert Hall, Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, Passion Pit – Kindred, Purity Ring – Another Eternity, John Foreman – The Wonderlands,

3 Post-Christmas songs

Christmas has come and gone. Boxing Day has come and gone. If you are one of those people who quits listening to holiday music immediately after putting the trash bins with the wrapping paper out then maybe you won’t be inclined to check out these unheralded gems. But you can always bookmark them for next year.

The internets sometimes confuse Puller with Lifter Puller. But they aren’t the same band, trust me. After For Love Not Lisa broke up, Mike Lewis regrouped with Puller and the band put out several excellent albums on Tooth And Nail Records. “Saviour of The Fools” is an original song from the first Happy Christmas compilation, long out of print and not available in online retailers. It’s a shame because it is one of the best, and saddest, holiday songs ever written in the late nineties. Also enjoy songs from Starflyer 59 and a recent, sneaky-good Phoenix track featuring Bill Murray and others that is really a cover of a lost Beach Boys tune.