May 10, 2013
Let’s talk for a second about Fleet Foxes. You know the band. We all do. They’re a mild mannered group of folk superheroes who wear beanies and have beards. A fair few years back, I got the chance to see the Seattle-ites at Lollapalooza and while I was impressed, I never would have expected that the man stowed behind their drum kit had moves like this…
After years of doing double duty as both a Fleet Fox and the super serious mountain man J. Tillman, one can only assume that Tillman finally reached a sense of nirvana or ego death, fueled by massive drug use, and emerged from the desert in a Peyote-drenched glow, flanked by shirtless witch women, shaking a tambourine, and possibly riding a winged cougar. Thus, Father John Misty was born.
Sure, the music is pretty fantastic…
…but let’s face it. This man has the most gif-able dance moves of all time.
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August 22, 2012
This album has been my jam for several months, but I wanted to wait until the end of summer (and attending their show in Chicago) to make sure. The duo are Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and Swedish producer Johan Hugo, who met in a London thrift shop and soon became musical collaborators as The Very Best.
We’ve come a long way from Paul Simon’s Graceland, but I can imagine what it must have felt like the first time people heard Ladysmith Black Mambazo emerge from a sea of new wave and hair metal. Inherently danceable, with Hugo’s infectious, bouncy, edgy beats offset by Mwamwaya’s joyous multilingual vocals, MTMTMK embodies the spirit of modern globalism. This music would not be possible without internet technology and travel capabilities, and TVB’s growing mainstream notoriety is (hopefully) indicative of Africa’s broadening appeal beyond typical “world music” enthusiasts.
Recording for the duo’s second LP began unsuccessfully in New York, but their inspiration flowed once the duo ventured to Lilongwe, Mwamwaya’s hometown. You can practically taste the heat and the pent-up, flavorful energy of West Africa’s clubs in each track. With distinguished featured guests such as Baaba Maal, Xuman, and Mo Laudi, and a wide range of instruments from flutes to synths, it’s a zazzy, eclectic mix whose range from hip-hop to dancehall to dubstep and reggae-inspired (inspiring?) cuts.
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August 1, 2012
Maybe you’ve already heard the excellent new album by Archie Powell & the Exports, as it came out back at the beginning of May, and they’ve been getting astounding press and done some touring. However, if you haven’t, allow me to fill you in.
Great Ideas in Action is the sophomore full-length from Chicago’s coolest party animals. These boys caught my attention early on for issuing some of the smartest pop-rock concoctions I’d ever had the pleasure of hearing. Lead singer/guitarist Archie Powell was blessed with a voice perfect for crooning out snarky pop lyrics — his nasal tone delivers the words with an audible sneer and when he belts, he belts with reckless abandon. With his band of Exports — bassist Adam, keyboardist Ryan and drummer RJ — Archie taps into a magic formula that is not being matched much in today’s indie rock.
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May 30, 2012
Sometimes you hear a musician and your affection for them is instantaneous. Last year, that happened to me with Noah Gundersen. A few years before that, my heart swelled for Ben Weaver. It doesn’t happen often. Not all my favorites begin as such. But the ones that do can very nearly do no wrong. That is absolutely the case for Los Angeles singer-songwriter Ferraby Lionheart. Every song he writes feels like a musical Cupid’s arrow, captivating and enchanting while I sit felled by my speakers.
Since Lionheart’s 2010 album The Jack Of Hearts, I’ve often found myself wondering what he’s been up to lately, hoping intently that he’s got something new in the works for me to fawn over. Earlier this year, my hopes were finally appeased with the news that he’ll be releasing a new album this fall. His February video for “Desmond” is a sweet tease I cannot get enough of.
Aside from that, he hasn’t really been very vocal about the upcoming, yet-untitled release, so you’ll probably have to keep a diligent eye out for this one come autumn.
April 25, 2012
I’ve been an OK Go fan since I saw them play with Arlo and Fountains of Wayne at the old Crocodile — which I guess must have been at least 10 years ago. Wait. WHAT? Maybe more like 8, I dunno. I’m old and can’t keep track of stuff like that.
Anyway. I was also lucky enough to see them at The Croc again when they were performing the “A Million Ways” dance LIVE on stage. Which was AWESOME. OMFG you guys. Seriously, so awesome. The next best thing though, is the video for it, which they filmed in Damien’s sister’s backyard:
Adorable, right? Love, love, love it. They followed that viral masterpiece up with a couple more traditional videos for “Don’t Ask Me” and “You’re So Damn Hot,” which were also great, but not as great as their dance-fest. So for “Do What You Want,” they came up with this crazy blend-in-to-the-walls concept:
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February 15, 2012
So far, it’s been a good year to buy physical albums. First, Lost Lander’s awesome “Planetarium” packaging for DRRT that projects the night sky onto your ceiling when combined with a flashlight. Now, Ben Kweller‘s radical little diorama with an illustration by Josh Cochran on Go Fly a Kite, not to mention an “Instruction Manual” that includes guitar chords for all the album’s songs. Order the vinyl edition and you might be the lucky owner of a limited-run cream-colored pressing.
There are two important things to note about Kweller’s latest: After taking a little detour into country music territory on 2009’s Changing Horses, Kweller is mostly back to meshing delirious pop hooks with little hints of that old classic rock sound; and Go Fly a Kite is the musician’s first release on his own independent label, The Noise Company. If there was ever a best time to support this guy’s music, it’s now, because I love seeing great artists go off on their own and show that they can do their own thing the way they want to do it. Lucky for Kweller, he’s always pretty much had that freedom, and his records are consistently amazing, but Go Fly a Kite is (as far as I’m concerned) his best since Sha Sha, his debut album — due in no small part, I’m sure, to his commitment to succeeding on his own.
Before I start in on the rest of the album, I need to talk about one of my very favorite sounds I’ve ever heard in a song ever. There are two moments just about three-quarters of the way through “Full Circle” where Kweller sings “ooo ooo ooo ooo” like an excited wolf puppy, and I can’t remember the last time a song filled me with so much happiness. The first couple of times I played the song through, it was a really delightful surprise because one moment I was just enjoying the melody and the next, I had a gigantic grin on my face and it felt like finding out the boy you like likes you back. The next several times I played the song through, I would lean forward, waiting for it, and jump up and down a little when it happened. Try singing along to it. You can throw away your prescription for antidepressants and thank Dr. Kweller for providing the cure.
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