Monday, February 28, 2011

Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo

There is always room for false starts, and Kurt Vile's Matador debut Childish Prodigy was unquestionably that. While it certainly wasn't a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, it didn't hold a candle to 2009's brilliant ...And God Is Saying This To You. It lacked much of the depth of that record, and failed to capture the gentle darkness that so perfectly balances Vile's more rock and roll tendencies. In the time between, Vile delivered The Hunchback EP, which seemed to be more in the right direction, and left us with a gut feeling that that Childish Prodigy was nowhere near the end of the road for the Philadelphia songwriter. Thankfully, we were very, very right.

On Saturday night, as we sat in Black Rabbit, we heard Vile's distinctive voice trickle over the airwaves, and were baffled: not only was it new material, but it was totally amazing. On par with his older material, if not better. We were hastily informed that Smoke Ring For My Halo had made its way onto the internets, and was available for the taking. Excited? Yes indeed.

Sunday morning we bit into the new record, and realized that this is what we had been hoping for from Vile for the past two years: It is a record that recognizes the singer's heavy vibe, but still engages with pop sensibility. It fluctuates between pure rock and roll, and spacey acoustic explorations. At moments you feel like you're listening to a friend play his latest song at the end of a long night, at others like you're in a stadium packed to the gills with adoring fans. It is a record that explores all the nooks and crannies of the rock and roll existence, and it does so masterfully.

"Jesus Fever" is the record's first single, and for obvious reasons: it's accessible, poppy, and absolutely masterful in its construction. In that, it's hardly alone. "Runner Ups" continues Vile's tradition of lyrical callbacks to his own earlier work, while "Peeping Tomboy" lends itself to his more folky inclinations. "In My Time" and "Baby's Arms" manage to occupy a middle ground of gently chugging rock music that is completely at home in its own skin.

In short, Kurt Vile has managed to deliver a record that we didn't expect, but certainly wished for. On Smoke Ring For My Halo he explores the full breadth of his talents, and does so in a way that creates a brilliant montage of his sound. The record is one that you repeat as soon as it finishes, and you wake up wanting to hear again. It is the true heir to Vile's earlier work. It is the very best thing we've heard in quite a while.

Lucky for you: NPR decided to start streaming Smoke Ring For My Halo in its entirety this morning. Check the link below to have your world summarily rocked, starting now.

Kurt Vile is touring with J. Mascis this spring, Smoke Ring For My Halo drops March 8th on Matador.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ryan Adams III/IV Tracks From The Past

Yes, we love Ryan Adams. And yes, we've been obsessing over the lovely III/IV for the past few months. So it was that we were perusing videos on the internets and discovered some "vintage" footage from 2006 featuring some tunes off of his most recent record. While it's somewhat incredible that it took four years for studio versions of the tunes to see the light of day, it's not exactly surprising. The notoriously prolific Adams has always had to self edit, and apparently more than a few songs have had to do their time in the waiting queue. Regardless, we think you'll enjoy these live versions of "Breakdown Into The Resolve" and "Typecast" quite a bit - certainly not a bad way to spend your rainy Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Handsome Furs Plot Spring Tour, New Album On Tap

It's been a little bit of a while since we fell head over heels for Handsome Furs' second record Face Control. As such, we were completely stoked to hear that the band not only has a third record on tap for this year, but has set up a small east coast tour for this spring. The band will be making a one week jaunt up and down the coast, including an April 14th date at Bell House in Brooklyn. Will we see you there? Yes, yes we will.

Handsome Furs Spring 2011 Dates:
04-13 Boston, MA - Great Scott
04-14 Brooklyn, NY - Bell House
04-15 Richmond, VA - Gallery 5
04-16 Clemson, SC - Clemson University
04-17 Raleigh, NC - King's Barcade
04-18 Philadelphia, PA - Kung Fu Necktie

New Grand Lake On Tap For March, Download "The Tourist" Now

It goes without saying that we love bands on our own label. It's one of those things: you don't tend to sign someone to release their records unless you really, really, love their records. Which is why we were stoked when Grand Lake came out of hibernation and told us that they had recorded a new record over the winter entitled Leaves Ellipse!

The record is a fantastic piece of work recorded over the winter in San Luis Obispo, and it explores many of the gentler sides of the band. Loaded with vocal harmonies, natural reverb, and acoustic instrumentation, the record takes the band in a direction that is simultaneously exploratory and welcoming. While on the job, the band recorded a lovely EPK about the experience, which you can check out above.

As though that weren't enough, the band also managed to record a hauntingly lovely cover of Radiohead's "The Tourist" during the same sessions. The track (which you can snag below) gives a wonderful perspective, not only on the band's new sonic explorations, but on the feeling and direction these wintertime California sessions took. If we could say, in a word: fantastic.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Flaming Lips 12 Cell Phone Madness, Live!

You may recall that last Monday we were completely taken with the Flaming Lips' idea to drop a 12-track cell phone masterpiece upon the world. Well, we were so taken that we decided we had to see this thing actually happen in the real world. The only problem was that syncing 12 cell phones, much less having access to that many, is no trivial task.

To wit, we enlisted 12 able bodied souls from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, and got them to sync up their phones to playback the band's lovely experiment. The result (as you can stream above) is lacking somewhat in sonic fidelity, but is unquestionably interesting. Moreover, the exercise of getting 12 individuals to do something simultaneously is, well, harder than you might think.

So, has Wayne Coyne stumbled upon the wave of the future, the next generation of song-creation madness? Not exactly. What he has done is made music social, and as a result created an experience that is, as always, completely and uniquely his own. Still, this time around it belongs to us as well. Well played, Wayne.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Willie Nelson: "Crazy (Demo Version)"

Last night while we were enjoying a few beverages at the always-lovely Rusty Knot, their DJ-slash-doorman played this killer track, and it just about blew our minds. It's semi-common knowledge that Willie Nelson wrote the Patsy Cline classic "Crazy", but this took things one step further: This is Willie's own 1961 demo of the very same track.

Not only are his vocals straight-up impecable, but the track itself is the picture of simplicity. With a quiet slide guitar, and gently moving rhythm, Nelson does his work more justice than Cline ever could, by letting the song speak for itself. Culled from 2003's "The Demo Sessions", we couldn't be happier that this gem managed to surface 42 years after its creation.

There are a lot of great Willie Nelson moments, but this one may take the cake.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

As Though You Needed More Incentive To See LCD Soundsystem Live

Jesus Christ, they're just downright ON. So amazing.

HAD Mix Of The Month: Dead Air By Nabocough

HAD Contributor Nabocough cooked up a nice little Valentine's Day mix for us. Here's what he had to say about the tunes:

Henry Jacobs - Dead Air

Years ago an old friend played this on his radio show on KDVS, and I only remembered it recently. An American born in Chicago, Henry Jacobs first appeared on the radio via XEW in Mexico in the 50s. He gained a cult following in the Bay Area while producing numerous “word jazz” pieces, experimenting with improvisational interviews, sound, and humor. In 1972 KQED aired Jacobs’ “The Fine Art of Goofing Off” of which “Dead Air” is clip—and I think probably one of the funniest things I’ve heard in my short life.

Swimming - Beat Beat of Your Heart Beat

Hailing from the “British Midlands” (wherever the hell that is) Swimming has officially released nothing to date and have no tour plans outside of the UK for this year. Nonetheless, the little that they have released make me think I’m either crazy or that this could be one of the big acts to look for in the coming decade. Their first single to be released in March, “Sun in the Island,” has huge hooks and confounds genres. They could also be the next The Who: “Want to go see Swimming?” “No thanks, I didn’t bring my speedo.” “No, I said, do you want to SEE Swimming?” “Is it Summer Olympics already?” “Uhh… actually, yes it is! Let’s go smoke pot with Michael Phelps!”

Crystal Fighters - At Home

Unlike the other bands with names also starting with “Crystal,” Crystal Fighters feature pop tunes with a sing-along chorus, especially this one, “At Home.” The group mesh folk and funk like you’ve never heard it before: yes, that means playing txalapartas—a percussive Basque instrument made of wood or stone, which mimics the sound of a horse trot—with big house beats.

Gorillaz - Empire Ants (Miami Horror remix)

The Gorillaz: you’ve heard of them right? Have you heard of Yukimi Nagano, the singer from Little Dragon? What about Miami Horror from Australia? Oh god, it’s too much to keep track of! Bottom line: Miami Horror continues to be that electro-pop producer slash DJ slash band underappreciated in America, but who nonetheless has proven himself once again with this remix of “Empire Ants.”

Alice Smith - Love Endeavor (Maurice Fulton remix)

I hadn’t heard of Alice Smith or Maurice Fulton before I heard this track, but it’s not surprising since Smith focuses more on jazz and R&B style singing and Fulton only seems to be coming to the fore now. The kick drums and bass line kill me! And I love how it builds up with Smith’s singing as the payoff.

Matias Aguayo - Rollerskate

Like Timbaland’s work with Justin Timberlake, Matias Aguayo substitutes the human voice for most of his instruments to amazing effects. His “Ay Ay Ay” released a couple of years ago was a huge departure from the genre he had hitherto clung to: minimalism. Still, for a song that sounds unlike anything I’ve ever heard, it’s surprising that we haven’t heard more of Aguayo.

Braids - Lemonade (Green Go remix)

It’s hard to place this remix of “Lemonade” by Braids. Green Go puts shoe gaze through the spinner and comes up this high hat driven song.

Tom Tom Club - Genius of Love (The Pinker Tones remix)

Yeah, you love this song, and if you don’t, we categorize you along with people who don’t like dolphins. But The Pinker Tones give “Genius of Love” a facelift and I think it works well.

Breakbot - Shades of Black

Riding the subway the other day, I found myself wishing Breakbot would at some point come stateward. Has he? If you haven’t heard of Breakbot, please research him! He’s French and he’s tied in with that group that used to be big, what’s their name—Justice? But Breakbot is still hard at work and—I swear to god—everything he touches turns to big fat ice cream cones.

Bag Raiders - Snake Charmer

Bag Raiders lend themselves to the amazing sounds coming out of Australia. Their latest endeavor, “Snake Charmer,” reminds me a bit of my favorite part of that Jay-Z song. The duo has made waves in Australia, but I guess they were having some trouble with customs when coming to the US. Don’t let this one go under the radar!

Gil Scott-Heron - I'll Take Care of U (Jamie XX remix)

Um, hello? Jamie Smith of the xx remixes the full album “I’m New Here” by Gil Scott-Heron? It’s being labeled as Jamie XX versus Gil Scott-Heron, which will be the biggest boxing match since Andy Warhol and Basquiat entered the ring. The album drops February 22 and might make some people be all like, “Radiohead who?”

I Never Dance - I Never Dance

It’s a song called “I Never Dance” by a dj called I Never Dance. With its you-can’t-help-but-thinking-she-failed-her-English-classes-in-high-school singer, its hooks which draw from the Italo Disco scene, and crescendos from the canon of indie dance, guess what? You will dance!

Trash 80 - Missing You
If you’re anything like me, you’re still a little cautious about getting into 8-bit music. Well, if you’re like me you also make the best pasta al pomodoro this side of the Milky Way, so congrats. Oh yeah, and also if you’re like me, Trash80’s “Missing You” pretty much changed your entire outlook on 8-bit altogether.

Dominant Legs - Clawing Out At the Walls (Altair Nouveau remix)

I’m a fan of slow cooking, and DFA-affiliated Altair Nouveau is a fan of slow funk. He puts this track by San Francisco based Dominant Legs in the crock pot and it’s tasty!

Minimal Elvis - Minimal Elvis

Minimal Elvis was released sometime last year, and, to my knowledge, the artist still remains unknown. He was last seen working also on a song called Maximal Michael. If you have any information as to the whereabouts of this human or computer, please contact us immediately. We need more!

Check out Nabocough's Mix Page here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Flaming Lips Drop New Tune For Valentine's Day

Replete with visuals similar to their surround DVD releases, and the sync-voice from the beginning of Zaireeka tracks, "Two Blobs Fucking" is the first piece of monthly new music from the Flaming Lips. Musically, it's pretty damn abstract, and has us seriously wondering if these new tracks won't see the light of day in some sort of surround format down the road. In the meantime, check the track above, and enjoy all the audio-visual curiosity it has to offer up. Love.

Update: Our "wondering" is actually "reality": the band has uploaded 12 parts to the song to youtube, and this is but one of them. Head to the Lips' youtube page along with twelve of your closest pals and sync up your smart-phones to let the fun begin! Check the "instructional video above...

New Radiohead Album Drops This Saturday

Well kids, welcome to the future. Officially gone are the days of record release cycles, advances, or any other kind of requirements for a band who wants to put out a record. What are we talking about? Well, out of thin air, Radiohead has announced that their latest record The King Of Limbs (cover above) will be available from their website for download starting this Saturday, February 19th. Yup, just like that.

The album is a collaboration with longtime cohort Nigel Godrich, and will also be available as a super-deluxe double clear vinyl package, which you can preorder now. That's about all we know about the record at this point, and we have to admit we sorta like it. No hype, no leadup, no warning. Just the record, in your face, this Saturday. Rawk!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The New Strokes Record Is Going To Blow Your Mind

The Strokes At Outside Lands 2010, from the HAD Archive. Photo By Rick Audet.

At least, that is, if the first single is any indicator. We gave you a taste on Monday, and now the full track is here. It far surpasses all of our expectations, and is a totally awesome mix of the garagey goodness of Is This It, combined with the searing guitars of First Impressions Of Earth. In other words, it's all the best bits of The Strokes mixed into one happy sum, and we love it. Enjoy.

Elvis Costello Back On Tour With The Imposters, Return Of The "Spectacular Spinning Songbook"

While we're willing to indulge Elvis Costello in just about any live context, we have to say this is good news: Costello has announced that he'll be hitting the road in May with his band The Impostors, and a return to his rock and roll roots. Given that he's been touring with a bluegrass entourage for the last year or two, this is certainly a welcome return to form. Moreover, Costello will be redeploying the "Spectacular Spinning Songbook", not seen on stage (although more recently co-opted by Yo La Tengo) in 25 years!

The tour is partially on sale already, with more tickets going on sale next week. It covers both coasts, including two nights in both SF (on sale 2/13) and NYC, and a middle-of-the-country stop in Chicago. We're not gonna tell you how to spend your money, but this isn't a half bad activity for your springtime - take our word for it.

Elvis Costello and The Impostors Spring 2011 Dates
5/7 - RENO, NV GRAND SIERRA THEATRE (on sale 02/12)
5/8 - OAKLAND, CA THE FOX (on sale 02/13)
5/9 - OAKLAND, CA THE FOX (on sale 02/13)
5/11 - LOS ANGELES, CA THE WILTERN (on sale 02/11)
5/15 - CHICAGO, IL CHICAGO THEATRE (on sale 02/05)
5/18 - MONTCLAIR, NJ WELLMONT THEATRE (on sale 02/11)
5/19 - UPPER DARBY, PA TOWER THEATRE (on sale 02/12)
5/20 - BOSTON, MA WANG THEATRE (on sale 02/11)

Monday, February 7, 2011

First Taste Of The New Strokes Record Hits The Net

If you're anything like us, most of your web surfing happens during the week, and it's seldom that you spend a Saturday night catching up on the latest web leaks and music availability issues. That being said, when a friend emailed us that a sample of The Strokes first single in 5 years, "Under Cover Of Darkness", had hit the web, we threw on our headphones and ignored the party for the next 30 seconds.

30 seconds, that is, of bliss. Not only do the boys sound amazing, but the tune is a definite throwback to the first record. All of the manicured production of the third record is out the window (at least for the first 30 seconds), and is replaced by the return of the raw, jangly sound that we all fell in love with 10 years ago. It remains to be seen if this will hold true for the entirety of Angles, but for now, we're pretty damn pleased with what we've heard.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Unreleased Nick Lowe Doc Hits The Web

File this under "awesome": a never before seen 1978 documentary on Nick Lowe just hit the web in all it's glory. Needless to say, we have our weekend entertainment carved out for us! Part one of twelve is embedded above - grab the rest here!

Okkervil River Debuts New Material, Terminal 5 In June

Okkervil River @ The Independent, from the HAD Archive

It's been quite a while since we've heard new material from Okkervil River, so we were pretty stoked to discover the band making a very early appearance for their new record I Am Very Far, which drops in May. The band stopped in at Jimmy Fallon and, joined by AC Newman, delivered a solid take on the tromping rocker "Wake And Be Fine".

The track, which is the first single from the record and due on 12-inch next week, is the beginning of what will (presumably) be a big year for the band touring in support of the new record. That support will include a June date at the vacuous T5, which these days seems to be the hotspot of choice for indie bands verging on the bigtime. Stay tuned as the band expands their plans for world domination, and in the meantime enjoy the vid of the new song, above.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Toro Y Moi Drop Video For "New Beat"

What's that? The video we took at Mercury Lounge hasn't been enough to tide over your Toro Y Moi appetite? Never fear: the band just delivered another sweet vid, this time for "New Beat", that's loaded to the top with all the stop-motion goodness your heart could desire.