Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nick Lowe - "Endless Sleep"

While listening to Nick Lowe's greatest-hits reboot Quiet Please: The New Best Of Nick Lowe, we stumbled across a serious gem from the singer-songwriter's earlier days. Culled from his Bowi EP  , the track "Endless Sleep" is a bulletproof example of the man at his very best.

Unlike much of his early work, the track is subtle in delivery, and eschews the pub-rock machinations of his hit records at the time. Instead, the track is a subtle build-up centered around a reverb-laden guitar and a pulsing bass drum. Combine that with Lowe's voice being in top form and, well, you've got yourself a classic.

mp3: Nick Lowe - Endless Sleep

Monday, November 19, 2012

Divine Fits Played Letterman (Video)

On Friday night, Divine Fits paid New York a visit, and continued to prove that just about any track from their killer debut could serve as a TV-worthy single. In this case, it was the beat-driven "Baby Gets Worse". The track was simplified from its already-great studio incarnation, and really benefitted from a juxtaposition of instrumentation, with a palpable back-and-forth. What's more, the track emphasized just what makes the Fits' live show so great: a relaxed Britt Daniel easing in with killer bass lines, and a frenetic Dan Boeckner tearing it up on guitar. In short, rock wizardry. Watch now, above.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Divine Fits Played Fallon (Video)

Last night we managed to catch a stunning show from Divine Fits at Music Hall Of Williamsburg. More on that later, but in the meantime, you can get a taste for the vibe at the show by checking out the band's appearance on Jimmy Fallon (above). Featuring the album track "Would That Not Be Nice", which appears to be leading the race for the next single from the band, the performance is incendiary, tight knit, and totally switched on. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

John Cale Readies New Record, BAM Appearances (Video)

Around these parts, our love of John Cale has only increased in recent years, as the once-Velvet rocker has expanded his musical vocabulary to all sorts of electronics, and released some of the most pleasing records of his career. As such, we couldn't have been more delighted to learn that Cale has a new record on tap for next month.

Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood drops on October 1st, and the first taste we've gotten is fantastic. The track "Face To The Sky" is a meditative ballad, with a killer abstract video to go along side. You can check out the video below, and enjoy the loveliness. If the rest of the record follows suit, we're sold.

On top of the new album excitement, Cale is also scheduled to arrive at BAM in January after a fall European tour. Over three nights, he will deliver two performances of his classic solo record Paris 1919, along with a one night tribute to his frequent (and sadly, deceased) collaborator, NICO. It's always good to know there's a highlight in store to make our January a bit less bleak. Excitement abounds!

John Cale Winter 2012-13 US Dates
Wed. Jan. 16 – Brooklyn, NY @ BAM [Life Along The Borderline - tribute to NICO]
Fri. Jan. 18 – Brooklyn, NY @ BAM [When Past & Future Collide: Paris 1919]
Sat. Jan. 19 – Brooklyn, NY @ BAM [When Past & Future Collide: Paris 1919]

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sondre Lerche Drops First Bonus Track From Reissues, Tour Dates

Sondre Lerche @ The Great American Music Hall, from the HAD Archive

It's no secret that we here at HAD are huge vinyl fanatics, so when we heard that Sondre Lerche's first four records were being reissued, and simultaneously would be available on vinyl for the first time, we were very, very, excited. However, our excitement was not to end there.

You see, in addition to all that vinyl-flavored goodness, Lerche is giving us so much more: the reissues are backed with bonus tracks that include demos and unreleased tracks. Stereogum has the first one, a demo of "John, Let Me Go", and if it's any indicator of quality, these are going to be a real treasure trove. What's more, Lerche is also releasing his first live record, Bootlegs, from which you can hear the first track at his website. It is equally killer, and definitely representative of the quality of this live shows.

Which brings us to the final gem: Lerche is headed out on a fall tour in support of the records, and he's covering the bases. He'll be in the East, West, and middle of the US, and provided you're somewhere near a major market, you'll be able to see him. And, let us say, as devotees of his live show since his first US tour for Faces Down, it's one that you don't want to miss.

Sondre Lerche Fall 2012 Dates
9/05 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
9/06 Cambridge, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
9/07 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
9/10 Philadelphia, PA @ World Café Live
9/11 Pittsburgh, PA @ New Hazlett Theater
9/12 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
9/13 Holland, MI @ Hope College – DeWitt Theatre
9/14 Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
9/15 Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Café
9/18 Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
9/19 Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
9/20 San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
9/21 Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room
9/22 Los Angeles, CA @ The Troubadour
9/25 Phoenix, AZ @ Musical Instrument Museum
9/26 Albuquerque, NM @ Low Spirits Bar & Stage
9/27 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
9/28 Waco, TX @ Common Grounds
9/29 Austin, TX @ Stubbs

Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's All Happening: Divine Fits Single, Record Release, and Tour

We'll be the first to admit: we've been remiss in covering the emergence of Divine Fits from studio project into real-life band, but now the time has come. Not only has the Daniel/Boeckner supergroup dropped their first legitimate single, but they've also delivered artwork for their full-length (above), and scheduled something of a mini-tour. And, frankly, we couldn't be more excited.

The single, which is available online or as a pretty vinyl 7", is fronted by the Boeckner-sung track "My Love Is Real". While it is sonically similar to Handsome Furs in both vocal approach and it's synth-laden identity, it also features hints of Daniel backing vocals on the chorus, and syncopated beats that are the Spoon frontman's hallmark. The track's b-side, "I Was Born In A Laundromat" is unquestionably a Daniel-led affair, reminiscent of the first two Spoon records in both production quality, and writing style.

In addition to these two tracks, Merge has also delivered the Daniel-fronted album cut "Would That Not Be Nice". It's nearly impossible to hear this tune and not think of Spoon's cover of "Don't You Evah". That being said, it seems that Daniel has taken on some of Boeckner's vocal reverb and synths for the track, as well as a slightly more clean spacious production approach. It definitely works, and it's a clear example of how this collaboration serves both artists' quite well.

In addition to all of this exciting new material, the band has lined up an end-of-summer tour, and is hitting both coasts, as well as a few spots in between. Tickets for the Music Hall Of Williamsburg show go on-sale tomorrow at noon.

While there are, of course, no guarantees in life, we've got a good feeling about this one. And, despite the fact that we've only heard three tracks, they're sounding damn good (stream all below). If they're any indication of what's to come, this is going to be a record, and a tour, to remember.

Divine Fits Summer/Fall 2012 Dates
AUG 03 2012 Montreal, QC at Il Motore
AUG 05 2012 Chicago, IL at Schubas
AUG 06 2012 Columbus, OH at Ace of Cups
AUG 09 2012 Salt Lake City, UT at Twilight Concert Series
AUG 14 2012 Los Angeles, CA at The Bootleg
AUG 30 2012 Seattle, WA at The Crocodile
SEP 05 2012 Toronto, ON at Lee's Palace
SEP 09 2012 Brooklyn, NY at Music Hall of Williamsburg
OCT 14 2012 San Francisco, CA at Treasure Island Music Festival

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Elton John - To Russia...With Elton

In 1979, Elton John found himself in a strange place in his career: he had largely stopped touring, he had made some odd forays into disco, and his records weren't getting as much traction. Moreover, he was sober, and newly out of the closet - both of which caused a change in both the delivery, and the public perception of, his persona. It was in this climate that he decided to tour the USSR.

While the only explanation given fro the choice of venue is that they "wanted to play in places they had never played", it can't really be stated enough how amazing it is to see a star of John's magnitude behind the iron curtain and loving every minute of it. The tour was a simple one, with Elton and his percussionist Ray Cooper. As a result, it was oddly reminiscent of his earliest 1970 shows as a piano-drum-bass trio. And, as is often the case with John, his solo performance is just as (if not more) incendiary than his full band show.

Luckily for his fans, the tour had a documentary filmmaker along for the ride, and the result is a 74 minute concert film that is among the best ever produced. It features fantastic performances, cultural insight of the 1970's cold war climate, and fascinating back stage glimpses. In short, everything a concert film should be, and the entire thing is on YouTube. If you're a fan of Elton, and you haven't checked out this film (embed above), now is the time. You won't be sorry.

(And, if that's not enough to satisfy you, then follow up with this Live In Australia video. Not quite as much of a "film", but the performances are equally wonderful, and feature the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Blur Deliver Two New Songs, And They're Awesome

The past few years have been on-again, off-again on the Blur front. 2009 saw the band reunite for a series of "comeback" shows, but little more than that in terms of follow up. Then 2010 saw the release of "Fool's Day" for Record Store Day, the band's first new material in seven years. Finally, 2012 saw the band committing to a performance at the London Olympics, and hinting at new material. And yet, all the while, Damon Albarn simultaneously was confirming or denying the band's continued existence, depending what media source you chose to believe.

Well, now little of that matters, because the day has arrived: the band has dropped two new singles (videos with lyrics above) entitled "Under The Westway" and "The Puritan", and if you're even a little bit of a Blur loyalist, you will not be disappointed. The first track is a classic Blur ballad, along the lines of "The Universal", but incorporating some of the scratchy guitar sounds the band discovered on 13. The second song is even more "classic" Blur in its feel, recalling the bouncy brit-pop of the band's earliest days on Modern Life Is Rubbish.

All of this confirms what fans have known all along: that the band are more than able to create amazing new work, and that it's a bit of a travesty that they've been silent for so long. Seeing them play the two tracks live (still streamable here) was a dream come true, and their chemistry is undeniable. Given that, we can't wait to see them perform at the Olympics, but moreover, we can only hope and pray that the experience will push them to at least take one last stab at creating another brilliant record.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Video: Plants And Animals - "The End Of That" Live At Mercury Lounge

Last week when we stopped in at Mercury Lounge to catch a blazing set from Plants and Animals, we also managed to get a video of the title track from their latest full length, The End Of That. We think you'll agree that it's a killer clip - check it out above!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Plants And Animals Played Mercury Lounge - Pictures, Review

Last night we stopped in at Mercury Lounge for Plants And Animals' second show in a two night New York run. Packed into the tiny room, the show was exactly what we had hoped for: a raucous celebration of rock and roll energy combined with a solid dose of musical wizardry and prowess. The band, who continue to reach new heights each time we see them, delivered a killer set for an appreciative crowd, and left us unquestionably hungry for more.

Since the last time we saw them the band have clearly been coming into their own with their new four piece lineup.  Whereas the show in Brooklyn last December showed a group feeling out the boundaries of having a full time bassist, last night was a full fledged exploration of the territories that such a foundation affords. Most of the time there were two guitars blazing in intertwined leads, and even when one went acoustic, the other still was a tour de force of pedal-driven sonic exploration. On top of all this, there was also the welcome addition of a Fender Rhodes, which lent texture to a number of tunes, including a reworked version of "Game Shows" that simply slayed.

One of the most interesting things about Plants and Animals' always-expanding live show is the way that it builds on all of their previous experience. When things change, it's not some abrupt shift. Rather, it's another iteration on a previously explored successful formula, now enhanced with new and meaningful nuance to explore some new facet of sound.  Last night's show unquestionably dipped its toe in the lake of "true" rock and roll.

Without question, the group has always been a rock band, but last night saw them take this vibe to new heights. The vocals were more aggressive and less choral, the arrangements were more foot stomping and the guitars more fuzzy, overall the band just clearly had the urge to rock. All of this was underpinned by the pieces that make Plants and Animals one of the best live bands today: The group have a rapport that is simply unbreakable, and makes for moments of practiced serendipity that never cease to delight.

For us, the highlight of the evening came with the performance of "Lola Who?". The track, which is culled from the band's Avec/With EP, is one of our all-time favorites. It's a sprawling epic that navigates its way through enough sounds that you feel like you've been on a trip for a week after listening. The band seldom plays the tune, and to hear it live, with the advent of their new lineup was, in short, mind blowingly awesome.

We'll be the first to say it: you'd be a fool not to catch up with Plants And Animals on this tour. If we had to guess by the packed house last night, this may be the tour where they begin to graduate to larger venues, and the opportunity to see them "up close and personal" gradually disappears. Whatever the case, the incentive to be at these shows is undeniable, because doing so means catching a band that is close to, if not at, their creative peak.

More photos at the HAD Archive

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Plants And Animals Play Mercury Lounge Tonight

If you're anything like us here at HAD, then not only do you love Plants and Animals, but you've been seriously digging on their new record The End Of That. Not only is it some of the best songwriting the band's ever done, but it takes them in a whole new direction that is more centered on classic rock and roll, dueling guitars, and lyrical witticism. It is a record that is imminently replayable, but also ideally suited to the live environ.

Given that, as New Yorkers we couldn't be more excited that the band is playing a show tonight at Mercury Lounge. Not only do we get to see one of our favorite live bands (seriously, they fucking KILL it live), but we get to do so in a super intimate venue. It's the late show, so doors aren't untuil 9, and tickets are still available.  We'll see you out there, and in the meantime, enjoy the two official videos from the band's latest record, both of which are well worth your time.  Check them out below!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

White Hills Played Mercury Lounge - Pictures, Review

Under the icy glow of blue LED's, White Hills took to the stage at Mercury Lounge and delivered about as much noise as can be created by three people. The band's sonic assault heavily embraced the sound of their records, but did so with even more of a nod to their predecessors in the world of 1970's guitar rock. From the squealing sounds of a pedal-heavy Les Paul, to a generous application of eye makeup and glitter, White Hills clearly had come to rock.

The band's live sound, while faithful, is not identical to that of their records. The three-piece format meant replacing the record's synths with a flurry of guitar pedal work that covered the gamut of tone twisting wizardry. While it didn't quite catch the droney goodness that an organ provide, it did manage to create a wall of sound that was more than immersive enough for a live room.

Which isn't to say that the drone wasn't still firmly in place: the bass lines in particular held true to their staunchly repetitive strains from the band's recordings. While the guitar bled on with feedback-laden squelches, the bass line plodded steadily until it came to dominate many of the night's most poignant moments. At times it became so dominant that it almost seemed to become its own entity operating outside, but in sequence with, the band.

That sequence was firmly held in place by drum lines that were the definition of percussive expressionism. Not satisfied to simply provide a backbeat, the drums were instead an always-present force, playing as an equal member of the trio. At times, as the bass and guitar worked together to create an impenetrable wave of sound, and the drums would take on an almost melodic quality as they weaved in and out.

We have to admit: we were expecting White Hills to be a bit more of a Yo La Tengo-style drone fest in the live environ. Instead, they took those tendencies and turned them on their head, choosing to minimize their record's more subtle moments and instead embrace the music's most boisterous inclinations. While the result was perhaps slightly less artistically diverse, it was also a welcome dose of straight-ahead rock and roll which, let's be honest, these days can be pretty hard to find.

More pictures at the HAD Archive.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lotus Plaza - Spooky Action At A Distance

Given Bradford Cox's prolific output, and penchant for high drama, you wouldn't be blamed for assuming that he was the driving force behind the innovative sounds of Deerhunter, the band which he fronts when he's not performing as Atlas Sound. The fact of the matter, however, is that the band has another, equally important, component in guitarist Lockett Pundt. His outside work, entitled Lotus Plaza, is a window into the other half of Deerhunter's creative output. One listen makes you realize the degree to which the shared band is a creative effort, and how much Pundt has to offer. His latest record with Lotus Plaza is nothing short of a complete win.

As soon as the needle drops in the groove on Spooky Action At Distance, the textures and composition all point to Pundt's contributions to Deerhunter. The sparkling, interleaved guitars, the driving drum beats, and the oddly dry-yet-reverbed sound of the vocals. It is a sonic signature that is tough to imitate, and yet is oddly and deeply tied to Bradford Cox's own solo work.  It's almost as though the artists are travelling a shared path, but Pundt's is the edgier counterpart to Cox's more mellow sibling. While Cox's work can sometimes drift into ethereal bliss, Lotus Plaza stays more grounded in the world of traditional songwriting, with occasional doses of feedback and noise.

And, for what it's worth, that buys the record a lot more repeat listens.  Lotus Plaza has an accessibility and re-listenability that is shared with Deerhunter, and it's largely created by Pundt's fantastic songwriting.  The beats and melodies combine to create a body of work that is fun but complex, and more rewarding with each go round. It is a record that drives you to listen harder, and in turn be rewarded, in a way that only truly great rock records do.

Suffice it to say, we highly recommend you add Spooky Action At A Distance to your listening queue, if you haven't already. We're sure the result will be your presence in your local music hall, as Lotus Plaza starts their tour this week. See you out there!

mp3: Lotus Plaza - Strangers

Lotus Plaza Spring 2012 Tour Dates
4/13/2012 - Chicago IL lincoln hall
4/14/2012 - Ann arbor MI yellow barn
4/15/2012 - Toronto ON the garrison
4/16/2012 - Montreal QC casa del popolo
4/17/2012 - Ithaca NY the haunt
4/18/2012 - Albany NY valentine's
4/19/2012 - Brooklyn NY glasslands
4/20/2012 - Philadelphia PA johnny brenda's
4/21/2012 - Raleigh NC king's
4/22/2012 - Knoxville TN the pilot light
4/24/2012 - Atlanta GA the ear
4/25/2012 - Birmingham AL the bottletree
4/27/2012 - Austin TX psych fest
4/28/2012 - Dallas TX club dada
4/29/2012 - Memphis TN hi-tone cafe

Monday, April 2, 2012

Liars - "No. 1 Against The Rush"

We've got crazy levels of affection for Liars around these parts, so when studio videos started surfacing of the band working on their latest WIXIW, we were totally stoked. But nothing, to be honest, could have prepared us for just how awesome the product of those studio sessions would be. "No. 1 Against The Rush" is an awesome dose of synthy goodness wrapped around the band's signature ethereal songwriting style. The beat may be the most dance-influenced thing we've ever heard from the band, but the track manages to balance the poppy vibe just perfectly with eerie textures that save it from becoming repetitive in the least. We're sure you'll agree that it deserves multiple repeat listens on this sunny Monday morning. While an mp3 has yet to surface, you can stream the new awesomeness via the link below.

Stream: Liars - No. 1 Against The Rush

Friday, March 30, 2012

Menomena - "Forgive Yourself"

This morning, while walking down the street jamming to Menomena's "TAOS", we realized we hadn't checked in on the band in a while, and so we decided to do some digging. Turns out they finished recording their new record at the end of February, and celebrated the occasion by dropping a massive mp3 of a track from the session, "Forgive Yourself".

Not that Menomena is a band to be bound to any one style or structure, but for any band, this one is a doozy.  Clocking in at 30+ minutes, the track is an epic soundscape with variety of White Album-ian proportions. In short, despite the departure of one of their members, the band is clearly not short on ideas or inspiration. Listening is a bit of a roller coaster ride, but if you're a fan of the band, it's a welcome one. What's more, it has us super excited for the new record. Happy Friday!

mp3: Menomena - Forgive Yourself

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Crocodiles Unveil Album Promo and New Track - April Dates in NYC

Crocodiles in 2009, from the HAD Archive

Crocodiles have dropped the promo for their new record Endless Flowers, and they've done it in style. The under-two-minute video clip (below) takes on the form of satire as a badly composed infomercial. More importantly, it features clips of various tracks on the disc, and utterly reassures us that the band (while slightly cleaned up for their infomercial appearance) is staying true to form. Loaded with bombastic drums, fuzzy guitars, and oozing synths, the disc promises to be another solid dose of what makes this duo a repeat-play around these parts.

The lead track from the disc, entitled "Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)" is a fair example of the band's craft: it manages to feel dancey and rocking, while at the same time barraging you with a wall of sound that soothes and immerses at the same time. Obviously, the band is to some degree indebted to some of their English forefathers who pioneered much of this sound. Increasingly, however, Crocodiles are developing their own sonic fingerprint that is both distinctive and engaging.

In live news, the band just wrapped a spring tour that sidestepped New York. However, it appears that they were kind enough to tag us with a few bonus shows at the end, as the band is playing a double header on April 11th and 12th. One show will be at Glasslands and the other at Mercury Lounge. If you have a deep love of dancing to riotous noise, we highly recommend you show your face - you won't be sorry.

Crocodiles Remaining Spring 2012 Dates
April 11 Brooklyn, NY Glasslands
April 12 New York, NY Mercury Lounge

mp3: Crocodiles - Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

White Hills - Frying On This Rock

Are you scared of rock and roll?  If so, you're probably pretty spooked by White Hills.  Their latest, "Pads Of Light", is the lead track from their forthcoming record Frying On This Rock, and it has just the right amount of rock and roll aggression needed to really get the blood going. And it's not alone. The other forty minutes of the record is droney, noisy, deliciousness on par with the best damned sugar cereal your mother ever told you you couldn't have.

Not that you have to take our word for it. To begin with, you can snag the mp3 below. What's more, you can grab the whole record, which dropped last week. If it grabs you like it grabbed us (and if it doesn't, you're probably emotionally dead anyway), then you can see the band on their US tour, which starts the second week in April.  Dates are below. Don't be stupid - show up.

White Hills Spring 2012 US Dates
Apr 9 Brooklyn, NY - Glasslands
Apr 10 New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
Apr 11 Philadelphia, PA - North Star Bar
Apr 12 Boston, MA - Church of Boston
Apr 13 Winooski, VT - The Monkey House
Apr 14 Montreal, QC - Casa Del Popolo
Apr 15 Toronto, ON - Horseshoe Tavern
Apr 16 Buffalo, NY - The Mohawk
Apr 17 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Tavern
Apr 18 Cincinnati, OH - MOTR Pub
Apr 19 Detroit, MI - Majestic Garden Bowl
Apr 20 Chicago, IL - Subterranean
Apr 21 St. Louis, MO - Off Broadway Night Club
Apr 22 Oklahoma City, OK - The Conservatory
Apr 24 Austin, TX - The Mohawk
Apr 25 Houston, TX - Orange Show Center
Apr 26 New Orleans, LA - Siberia
Apr 27 Atlanta, GA - Club 529
Apr 28 Raleigh, NC - Kings Barcade
Apr 29 Washington, DC - DC 9

mp3: White Hills - Pads Of Light

Monday, March 26, 2012

Kendall Elijah - "The Wild"

Given that we tend to be late to the game with hip hop records, we were a bit surprised to see that this jam from Kendall Elijah hasn't got more recognition. We stumbled across it while browsing, and we were immediately taken with its expert sampling of string sections, and a flow that is some of the smoothest we've heard in a long time.

A newcomer out of Maryland, Elijah dropped his Eli Dynamite EP last year, and recently released the video (below) for "The Wild". However, the track is by no means an anomaly. The entire EP is full of killer material. Reminiscent of the best of mid-90's rap, the entire disc is downloadable for free at Bandcamp.  Snag it today - you won't regret it.

mp3: Kendall Elijah - The Wild

Friday, March 23, 2012

Paul McCartney Set To Reissue Ram

News of a bunch of reissues came down yesterday, including those from My Bloody Valentine and Van Dyke Parks, but the reissue that had us most excited by far was the latest in Paul McCartney's reissue collection: Ram. The disc is probably the most underrated (by the general public) of McCartney's post-Beatles career, and also the only disc to be attributed to Paul and his late wife Linda.

So, then, why the excitement for the reissue?  Well, for anyone who seriously digs on this disc (like we do), a treasure trove of extras related to the record is being added to the deluxe editions of the disc. On top of a brand new documentary from Macca himself, the collection will also feature the mono mixes of the record, and an instrumental version created under the McCartney pseudonym "Thrillington".

Granted, if you don't already love this disc, then this reissue is probably a bit of overkill for you. But for those of us who have lovingly cherished it as a highlight of Paul's career, it's super exciting to have these rarities and alternate interpretations come to light.  What better way to spend your summer than with what Paul describes as a record that "reminds me of my hippie days and the free attitude with which was created"? Indeed.

The Ram reissue drops May 22nd.

mp3: Paul and Linda McCartney - Too Many People

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Watch The Nada Surf Webster Hall Show

If you happened to miss Nada Surf's Bowery Ballroom show back in January, have no fear. Unlike most of the internet, which has the attention span of a child whose parent is panicking over an imminent Ritalin shortage, we here at HAD believe good music is still good music, even if it's been around more than a month.

As such, we've embedded a lovely YouTube archive of the show above, which you can watch in its entirety and enjoy a seriously killer set from this seriously awesome band, who seem to grow more and more with each new record. And, while you're at it, you may as well check out the band's video for "When I Was Young", below. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Elton John Returns To His Roots With 3-Piece Band

We'll admit: it's rare these days that we get excited for any kind of Elton John news at all.  While ol' four eyes is one of our all time favorites, we love his 70's gems and even have a soft spot for the 80's and early 90's, it's hard to swallow much of his output post-1995. However, based on a new report from Rolling Stone, we're hoping that's all about to change. 

According to the article, John has headed back into the studio and wrote a 12 track record in two days with producer T-Bone Burnett overseeing the efforts. Burnett convinced John to return to the setup that dominated his first two records and his 1970 tour: piano, bass, and drums. What's more, Taupin delivered a "stack of lyrics" to John from which to cull material. In short, this is a literal return-to-form from the early days of John's writing and performing.

Now, of course, there are no guarantees. John claimed a few years back to be creating the "follow-up" to the classic Captain Fantastic, and it was anything but.  However, given his recent work with Leon Russell, and the fact that Burnett was on hand, well, we definitely have our hopes up. If nothing else, we're certainly waiting with bated breath for the release of The Diving Board this fall, and in the meantime, we can always flash back to the early 70's...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Damon Albarn To Deliver Dr. Dee

We're happy to admit that we tend to go apeshit for anything Damon Albarn produces.  After a quick listen to the video preview (above), his latest project Dr. Dee has us particularly excited.  Based on the life of John Dee, an advisor to Elizabeth the First, Dr. Dee is a stage production that will see its debut in London come June.  In the meantime, the record will drop May 8th, and supposedly features "Albarn's voice with early English choral and instrumentation alongside modern, West African and Renaissance sounds".  Make of that what you will, but if it sounds as good as "The Marvelous Dream", which is featured in the preview, then it's sure to be one of our favorites of the year.  So. Stoked.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Plants and Animals Live - "Before"

Plants And Animals at The Rock Shop in December, from the HAD Archive

It's no secret that we're ridiculously psyched about Plants and Animals upcoming record The End Of That, so when this live rendition of the record's first track "Before" tumbled in to our laps, we couldn't have been more pleased.  The recording demonstrates the band's uncanny ability to perfectly recreate their studio prowess, and then inject it with an added dimension of jammed-out poignancy and soul.  Give a listen below, and then head over to Paste to stream the whole record, which hits record stores tomorrow!

Plants and Animals are at Mercury Lounge on April 18th

Friday, February 24, 2012

Whiskeytown - "Sit And Listen To The Rain"

Ryan Adams at the Catalyst, from the HAD Archive

On this rainy Friday, we've decided to serenade you with the sixth track from Whiskeytown's (in our opinion) underrated final record, Pneumonia. The record found Adams at the height of his songwriting powers, and moreover, the production is masterful.  The result is a record that achieves much of what Adams has spent the bulk of his career pursuing: pop perfection wrapped in a veneer of troubadour street cred.

This track, "Sit And Listen To The Rain" starts out loping and subtle, as many of Adams best work is wont to do.  The choruses drape themselves over the emptiness of their own meaning, and the expansive guitar lines give a feeling of depth and echo.  As the pace picks up by the second verse, one is utterly prepared for the breakout of the bridge, which leaves one with the feeling that maybe hopelessness isn't all bad, and maybe that sometimes that's just the way things are - the only solution is to rock out.

Like we said, perfect for a rainy day.

mp3: Whiskeytown - Sit And Listen To The Rain

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Eleanor Friedberger Heads Out On Spring Tour

Eleanor Friedberger at the City Winery, from the HAD Archive

When we saw Eleanor Friedberger at John Wesley Harding's Cabinet of Wonders last fall, we have to say, we were surprised how much we enjoyed.  We had never really been on board with the Fiery Furnaces, but were taken with Eleanor's solo work.  The songs give her voice more focus and melody, and the production is impeccable. It's one of our favorite listens in recent memory.

As such, we couldn't have been more excited to learn that Friedberger has decided to undertake a spring tour in support of her solo record.  The tour will take place over April and May, covering a fair bit of the eastern US, and one stop in Canada.  Friedberger will be touring with a full band, as well as Merge labelmates Hospitality.  If her two songs at the Cabinet Of Wonders were any indication, this isn't one you're going to want to miss!

Eleanor Friedberger Spring 2012 Dates:
Mar 14-18 Austin, TX SXSW Music Festival (solo)
Mar 24 Marfa, TX Crowley Theater (solo)
Apr 18 Brooklyn, NY The Bell House
Apr 19 Washington, DC Black Cat
Apr 20 Durham, NC The Casbah
Apr 21 Atlanta, GA The Basement
Apr 23 Birmingham, AL WorkPlay
Apr 24 New Orleans, LA Circle Bar
Apr 26 Houston, TX Fitzgerald’s
Apr 27 San Antonio, TX Korova
Apr 28 Austin, TX Frank
May 3 Ferndale, MI Magic Bag
May 4 Toronto, ON Garrison
May 5 Montreal, QC Il Motore
May 6 Allston, MA Great Scott

mp3: Eleanor Friedberger - My Mistakes

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blur Reunite With New Song And Brit Award Performance

Seriously, kids, it doesn't get more exciting than this.  Blur are playing together live again, and have debuted a brilliant new song called "Under The Westway" (video above).  Moreover, rumors are afoot that the band is set to record a new record with William Orbit, the genius collaborator on the band's 1999 record 13. There's not much more to say at the moment, so in the meantime, you can satisfy your cravings by watching videos from the band's Brit Awards performance last night.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Elton John and France Gall: "Donner Pour Donner"

We'll be the first to admit it: finding a gem in the late 70's output of Elton John is a difficult task. His myriad of missteps included temporarily parting ways with songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, crafting an ill-advised disco record, and announcing a retirement from live performance that lasted all of two years. Nonetheless, there were successes amongst the failures, and "Donner Pour Donner" is one of them.

The track is actually the b-side to "Les Aveux",  a France-only single with songstress France Gall.  It's a shame that it ended up as the b-side: "Les Aveux" is a bit of a faux-country trainwreck, while "Donner Pour Donner" is a classic piece of french pop.  In many ways, it fulfills stereotypes, with its bongos, electric piano, and slide guitar.  And yet, somehow it works.  The vocal interplay is perfect, and the stylings manage to be blatantly 70's, while not going so far over the edge that they become intolerable. Plus, Elton manages to pull of the French singing pretty damned well, which is an added bonus.

Interestingly, despite John's hiatus from songwriting with Taupin, this track was apparently cowritten by Taupin and Gall's longtime collaborator Michael Berger. This may explain some of the songs winning qualities, at a time when John was unquestionably a bit stagnant in his songwriting. Having only been issued in the US with the To Be Continued... box set, the track isn't exactly an easy find, but you can check it below.  We promise, it's well worth your while.

mp3: Elton John and France Gall - Donner Pour Donner

Friday, February 10, 2012

Plants And Animals Drop Another Track From Forthcoming Record

Plants and Animals at Bowery Ballroom, from the HAD Archive

It goes without saying that we here at HAD are stoked on the forthcoming Plants and Animals record.  The band has been on our "must play" list ever since they dropped their first full length in 2008, and as they've evolved, they've only gotten better.  Case in point: the newest track from their forthcoming The End Of That.

"Song For Love" embraces the more acoustic songwriter-y vibe that was hinted at in "Lightshow", and even more on display when the band played the Rock Shop on a rainy night in early December. But here's the thing: the band manages to embrace this more conventional aesthetic without eschewing the bits that make their music so distinctive and perfectly unique.  They rock out on the choruses, display utterly perfect technical chops, and create arrangements that are as compelling as they are perfect. In short, this record is fast proving to be another perfect step in the evolution of a band that is getting better by the day.

On top of the killer new track, we also managed to stumble over a killer HD vid for the band's cover of Wolf Parade's "I'll Believe Anything", which was the B-Side to "Lightshow".  If you've seen the band live then, as expected, you'll be psyched for this.  If you haven't, well, check the vid above and enjoy the magic.  Once you're done with that, check out the band's North American tour in support of the record, which starts early next month.

Plants and Animals Spring 2012 Tour 
8th Mar Ritual Nightclub Ottawa, ON
9th Mar Le Cercle Quebec, QC
10th Mar Le Cabaret du Mile End Montreal, QC
14th Mar St David's Church (SXSW) Austin, TX
17th Mar Spill Bar (SXSW) Austin, TX
20th Mar Lucky Bar Victoria, BC
21st Mar Rickshaw Theatre Vancouver, BC
22nd Mar The Crocodile Seattle, WA
24th Mar Mississippi Studios Portland, Oregon
27th Mar Starlite Room Edmonton, AB
28th Mar Republik Calgary, AB
Thu 29th Mar Amigos Cantina Saskatoon, Canada
30th Mar West End Cultural Centre Winnipeg, MB
31st Mar 7th Street Entry Minneapolis, MN
4th Apr TT The Bear's Place Cambridge , MA
5th Apr Kung Fu Necktie Philadelphia, PA
6th Apr Red Palace Washington, DC
7th Apr Local 506 Chapel Hill, NC
8th Apr 529 Atlanta, GA
10th Apr Crowbar Tampa, FL
11th Apr The Social Orlando, FL
13th Apr The Bottletree Birmingham, AL
14th Apr Hi-Tone Cafe Memphis, TN
18th Apr Mercury Lounge New York, NY
19th Apr Mohawk Place Buffalo, NY
20th Apr APK Live London , Ontario
21st Apr Lee's Palace Toronto, ON
11th May Schuba's Chicago, IL
12th May The Frequency Madison, WI
15th May Hi-Dive Denver, CO
16th May Kilby Court Salt Lake City, UT
18th May Bottom of The Hill San Francisco, CA
19th May Satellite Club Los Angeles , CA
21st May Casbah San Diego, CA
25th May Lambert's Austin, TX

mp3: Plants and Animals - Song For Love

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Archers Of Loaf - Vee Vee Reissue

Here at HAD, we are of two minds when it comes to the imminent "two disc" reissues of classic records.  With bands we obsessed over before the reissues, they can be a bit of a let down:  sometimes they don't include one or two key tracks, sometimes the ordering is less than ideal, and (let's be honest) it just hurts to see the tracks you paid hundreds of dollars to obtain as import B-Sides on one convenient $15 bonus disc.  However, with bands for whom we had never invested that level of time and money the two disc reissue is a treasure trove of affordably-priced awesomeness.  Case in point: Merge Records' latest Archers of Loaf Reissue, Vee Vee.

With their first Archers two disc reissue, Icky Mettle, Merge something of an easy time of it.  The bonus disc consisted of the band's classic The Greatest Of All Time, and a bunch of hard-to-find 7" versions of album cuts.  In short, exactly what you'd expect. Which, while complete, held relatively few surprises. By stark contrast, the reissue of Vee Vee is chock full of new and unreleased material.  The easy stuff is tossed aside in the first few minutes, with single b-sides and alternate mixes filling the first five tracks. However, what follows is the true reward: in addition to a number of rarities from compilations, and an previously unreleased track, "Equinox", the second disc fills out with seven tracks from not one, but two separate demo tapes.

The demo tracks are really the highlight of the bonus disc:  they illustrate not only the depth of these songs and musicians, but also the many sides of Eric Bachmann that had yet to be revealed, and would later surface in Crooked Fingers. The "Marathon Boombox" tracks feature Bachmann on a twangy guitar poking through what are barely fragments of songs.  By contrast, the "Vee Vee 4-track Demo" tracks that follow employ a drum machine and multiple guitar lines and give a much better sense of what Bachmann would wind up as when he went solo.  In both cases, the demos are enough to stand up on their own, and become classics unto themselves.

And then, of course, there's the record itself.  For Archers fans, Vee Vee needs no introduction, and for many it marks the advent of the band becoming something more dynamic than simply another alternative rock band.  It has never occupied our "favorite record" slot for the band, not for lack of awesomeness, but simply because the rest of their output is so great. That being said, the new remaster is fantastic, and it's the best we've ever heard this record sound.  It is crisp, clean, and manages to somehow toe the line between a clean "studio" mix, and feeling like you're in the room with a band.  Good production at its finest.

In short, the Vee Vee remaster is everything we could ask for, and is well worth your while. Not only that, but it's gotten us extremely excited for the additional reissues that Merge has promised in the coming year. During their heyday, the Archers never really got what one would call wide-spread recognition (we recall seeing them at the Grog Shop in Cleveland in 1999 with something like 20 other people), but that seems to be turning around.  With a reunion tour, and these fantastic reissues, the band is finally getting their due, and it's a good thing, because it's most certainly well-deserved.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An Horse Tour With Nada Surf, Add Headline Dates

An Horse at Highline Ballroom, from the HAD Archive

Well, count us among the excited:  Australians (and HAD favorites) An Horse have announced that in March and April they will return to the US for a Spring tour, and they're not kidding around.  Starting in March, the band will perform a series of headline dates in the midwest and west coast before meeting up with Nada Surf for a one month national tour as that band's opener.  Never mind the fact that Nada Surf are a great band as well, or that An Horse is touring in support of their killer second record Walls, we're the most excited that the band is back in town from the other side of the globe so soon after their CMJ appearance!  This is a band that's more than worth listening to, but more importantly: absolutely killer in the flesh.  See you there.

An Horse Spring 2012 Tour:
3/9/12 – Pontiac, MI @ The Pike Room
3/10/12 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
3/11/12 – Iowa City, IA @ The Blue Moose Tap House
3/12/12 – Kansas City, MO @ Record Bar
3/14/12 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Rhythm Room
3/15/12 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah
3/16/12 – Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy & Harriet’s
3/20/12 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Music Box ^
3/21/12 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore ^
3/23/12 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom ^
3/24/12 – Seattle, WA @ Neptune Theater ^
3/25/12 – Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre ^
3/27/12 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge ^
3/29/12 – Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall ^
3/30/12 – Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room ^
3/31/12 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue ^
4/2/12 – Chicago, IL @ Metro ^
4/4/12 – Toronto, ON @ Opera House ^
4/5/12 – Montreal, PQ @ Corona Theatre ^
4/6/12 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club ^
4/7/12 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall ^
4/9/12 – Philadelphia, PA @ TLA ^
4/10/12 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club ^
^ w/ Nada Surf

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jack White To Drop Solo Record In April

Well, it's finally happened: Jack White has given up on the facade of a band, and embraced his inner musical genius to release a solo record.  Titled Blunderbuss, the album will be released on April 24th.  The first single is entitled "Love Interrupted", and if it's any indication, this record is going to be exactly what we've been wanting from White for years.

Tempered with woodwinds, and a Fender Rhodes, the track is a simple ballad  in classic White style, with a gentleness that recalls the best moments of the White Stripes' Get Behind Me Satan.  It's been clear that White has had this up his sleeve for years, and we're glad he took the plunge.  Stream the track below.

Stream: Jack White - Love Interruption

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

White Rabbits Drop Video For "Heavy Metal"

Two weeks back we hit you with a mention of White Rabbits' upcoming new record Milk Famous.  Now the band has backed up the first single, "Heavy Metal", with video.  The clip cleverly uses looped video to generate a creepy, static-with-movement feel.  Very cool - check it out above.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Video: Ryan Adams - "Chains Of Love"

On this fine Friday morning, Ryan Adams has brought us a new video for "Chains of Love", and rest assured, this is a video that has it all.  An all-girl backing band, Ryan in a motorcycle jacket looking dreamily into space, pyrotechnics, and even....3D.  Yeah, we broke out our Ashes and Fire deluxe edition 3D glasses, so what?  Stop grumbling, spoilsport, and just watch the damn vid.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

REM - Monster

REM is a strange beast, and in the wake of their breakup, one that deserves some examination. They unquestionably have had a lasting effect on the world of rock and roll, and their disciples are many. They also possess a singular character amongst their peers. Their image is neither rough or fashionable, but more fleetingly nerdy and awkward.  Their hits are often angsty balladry or quirky pop melodies, and they often fill the roll of "cool" band for people who don't like "cool". However, here at HAD, our favorite REM moment has always been one that broke rank with their catalog: the 1994 record Monster.

Often, Monster is cited as REM's response to the grunge movement, and that may have some validity.  The return of the "rock" in rock and roll was unquestionably apparent to the band, and they took a step back from the mellowness that they had spent most of the early 90's fostering. But the fact of the matter is that REM was a rock band long before they were producing pop like "Shiny Happy People" or miserable dreck like "Everybody Hurts". Monster's crunch and vitality was in many ways simply a return to the form that had made REM famous during their tenure at IRS records.

That return to form is one piece of the puzzle that makes Monster so great: the songwriting is exceptional, and the arrangements moreso.  It is garage rock at its best and most crafty, built on a simple foundation of drums, piano, bass, and guitar.  Sure, there's a note more crunch in the guitar, and there are moments where electronica threatens to rear its ugly head, but the dam never breaks, and instead we are left with a selection of songs that are utterly fantastic. But fantastic songs are only one piece of the puzzle.

Let it be noted that we don't particularly love Michael Stipe.  He can be whiny, and thrives on the idea of his own oppression.  He is the ultimate "emotional" rock star, to a fault.  It comes across in his writing, his delivery, and his persona.  And yet, on Monster, he absolutely nails it.  His lyrical content manages to escape literalism for most of the record, and instead return to the poignant abstraction that made "Stand" and "It's The End Of The World As We Know It" such amazing songs. Moreover, his vocals are in bulletproof form, yielding killer falsettos ("I Don't Sleep I Dream", "Tongue"), bizarre monotones ("Crush With Eyeliner", "King Of Comedy"),  straight ahead rock ("Star 69", "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?"), and soulful melancholia ("Strange Currencies").

To try and espouse a band like REM is a fools errand: the band is already installed as one of the seminal foundations of modern rock.  Yet it's worth considering that the things they are appreciated for may not be the band's greatest strengths. Monster is what many would call "out of character" for the REM of today, and a shadow of the greatness of their indie years. The fact of the matter is that it embraces both sides of the band's tumultuous public persona, and the result is the best record they ever recorded.

mp3: REM - Tongue

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Spoon - "I Could See The Dude (Demo)"

The cover for the Soft Effects vinyl 10"

We're always stoked when Spoon drops a new track in their "Bonus" section, but this month we were particularly thrilled. Culled from the demo sessions for one of our favorite Spoon records, the Soft Effects EP, the demo for "I Could See The Dude" is a real treat.

Much like the final studio track, the demo is built around a looped guitar riff overlaid on a bass line that manages to craft the song's chord changes all by its lonesome. The vocals are a little more raw, and (like most of Britt Daniel's demos) the beats are clearly canned.  At the end of the day, however, this is the clear foundation of one of our favorite Spoon tracks.

Give a listen to the mp3 below, and try not to get too excited about the fact that the end of the track clearly has the guitar lead in for a demo of "Waiting For The Kid To Come Out". Fingers crossed we'll be hearing it soon!

mp3: Spoon - I Could See The Dude (Demo)

Monday, January 9, 2012

White Rabbits Drop New Record, Milk Famous, In March

It's been a while since White Rabbits dropped their second full length It's Frightening, so when news came over the wire this morning that they had a new one on the way, we were psyched for the news.  The new record, which drops March 6th on TBD Records, is titled Milk Famous.

While it's not produced by Britt Daniel, the band still kept their Spoon association close, and roped in long time band producer Mike McCarthy to produce the record in Austin, Texas. If the lead track ("Heavy Metal", below) is any indication, McCarthy managed to help the band stay true to the sound of It's Frightening, and deliver a record that is a windy maze of synth laden guitar lines and driving, compact beats.

In addition to the new record, the band will be heading out on tour this spring.  This is, as anyone who has seen the band on stage knows, fantastic news.  Their live show surpasses the greatness of the records to be its own beast, and is an absolutely revelatory experience.  The tour includes stops at awesomely intimate venues across the US, including the Independent in San Francisco, The Paradise in Boston, and (alright, not so intimate) Webster Hall in New York. Suffice it to say, White Rabbits deserve a great deal of your attention this spring.

White Rabbits Spring Tour 2012
March 6: Philadelphia, PA / Union Transfer
March 7: Washington D.C. / Black Cat
March 8: Charlottesville, VA / Jefferson Theater
March 9: Raleigh, NC / Lincoln Theatre
March 11: Atlanta, GA / Variety Playhouse
March 12: Birmingham, AL / The Bottletree
March 13: New Orleans, LA / One Eyed Jacks
March 14: Houston, TX / Fitzgeralds
March 19: Denver, CO / Bluebird Theater
March 20: Salt Lake City, UT / Urban Lounge
March 22: Portland, OR / Doug Fir Lounge
March 23: Vancouver, BC / Biltmore Cabaret
March 24: Seattle, WA / Crocodile Cafe
March 26: San Francisco, CA / The Independent
March 28: Los Angeles, CA / El Rey Theatre
March 29: San Diego, CA / The Casbah
March 30: Phoenix, AZ / Crescent Ballroom
March 31: Tucson, AZ / Club Congress
April 3: Lawrence, KS / Jackpot Music Hall
April 4: Columbia, MO / The Blue Note
April 5: St. Louis, MO / Plush
April 6: Madison, WI / High Noon Saloon
April 7: Minneapolis, MN / Triple Rock Social Club
April 8: Chicago, IL / Metro
April 12: New York, NY / Webster Hall
April 13: Northampton, MA / Pearl Street Downtown
April 14: Boston, MA / Paradise Rock Club

mp3: White Rabbits - Heavy Metal

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Damon Albarn Returns To Africa For Mali Music Follow-Up

We've long been seriously in love with Damon Albarn's Mali Music, so when a friend at New Year's asked if we had heard about the Blur and Gorillaz frontman's African project, we knowingly smiled and knowingly informed them that they were about eight year's late to a seriously awesome musical experience. Well, allow us to stand corrected. It turns out, in fact, that we were about two months late. Albarn returned to Africa and released a new record in October, this time from the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital city of Kinshasa.  The result is a record entitled Kinshasa One Two, and it's a doozy.

With a process similar to Mali Music, Albarn headed to the DRC to allow Western producers to collaborate with native DRC musicians.  While we haven't gotten our hands on full record quite yet, but from everything we've heard it appears to be just as, if not more, enticing than it's predecessor. Albarn apparently brought along Dan The Automator for the adventure, along with XL Records head Richard Russell, and the trio recorded the collaborations with locals in a week's time.  Not half bad, if we do say so ourselves.

Just like Mali Music, the record is an Oxfam benefit, and as such, it would behoove you to purchase an actual copy as opposed to bending the internet to your will.  After all, it is the new year, shouldn't you start it off right?

mp3: Kashasa One Two - Lourds