Nada Surf – The Dulcitone Files EP review

Minus a few exceptions, I tend to be a pessimist when it comes to acoustic renditions. Unfortunately, Nada Surf’s new acoustic EP doesn’t fall into my exceptions list. Although, I can definitely appreciate these stripped down melodies from their 2012 album, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy. The Dulcitone Files obviously takes a subtler approach to these five songs, but don’t really sound any better than the original versions.

For example, take a Foo Fighters song like “Everlong,” which has a hard crunching chorus and nice gooey verses in between. Mellow it down to just Dave Grohl’s voice and the song’s main guitar chords, and you’ve got a love song that’ll make any softie weak at the knees. In contrast, let’s take Nada Surf, who have already created somewhat mellow alt rock tracks. If you take even more intensity out of them – what are you left with?

Albeit, “Clear Eye Clouded Mind” has made the switch rather well, slowing down one of their faster songs, but not too much. It still has its original feel and is worth a listen. “Waiting for Something” doesn’t sound all that bad either, but otherwise – the other three songs fall flat. For example, the original version of  “When I Was Young,” is an acoustic song as it is. Why redo another version and stick it on this EP?

Nada Surf’s tunes are by no means bad, but acoustic tracks can be an acquired taste for some. It goes without saying that you might as well stay away from this EP if you’re not much of an acoustic person, or not a huge Nada Surf fan. For now, I’ll stick with the originals.

The Mynabirds Announce Record Store Day Release Of Generals 7” Includes “Generals” and non-album track “Fallen Doves”

The Mynabirds Announce Record Store Day Release Of Generals 7” Includes “Generals” and non-album track “Fallen Doves”

Check out The Mynabirds on one of their remaining dates:

03/21/12 Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews w/ Big Harp
03/22/12 Minneapolis, MN – 7th St. Entry w/ Big Harp
03/23/12 Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room w/ Big Harp

Coming off a successful SXSW run and with a few more tour dates to go, The Mynabirds announce the Record Store Day release of a 7” from their upcoming album, GENERALS. The “Generals” single precedes the June 5th album release and includes the non-album track “Fallen Doves.” The 7” features silk screened sleeves that are hand stray painted and numbered by band leader Laura Burhenn. The covers are available in 5 different paint colors and limited to 1,000 copies on black vinyl.

Following 2010’s critically acclaimed debut What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood and a year on the road touring as part of Bright Eyes, singer-songwriter Laura Burhenn teamed up with producer Richard Swift again and emerged with GENERALS, a sophomore album fully armed. In place of the Zen meditations found on the Mynabirds’ first album, GENERALS is filled with armies of stomps and claps, sweeping full spectrum orchestrations, and moments that range from intensely personal pleas to shout-out-loud protests with teeth.

GENERALS is both a protest record and concept album. It’s fueled by a full decade of Burhenn’s political frustration and aimed at finding a revolutionary yet pacifist way in a world where, these days, it seems warring comes quick. Musically you can hear echoes of early PJ Harvey, politically-charged Nina Simone and Low-era David Bowie. It gets down and hip hop dirty, flirts with African melodies and rhythms, goes four-on-the-floor for all out dance jams and has plenty of percussion. Burhenn even plays drums herself on a couple of songs, and a 5-gallon bucket in homage to DC street Go-Go on another.

Lyrically, GENERALS sings the voice of the collective frustration, then moves beyond that. “It was important for me that this record made sense of my own anger and turned it into positive energy,” Burhenn says. “I needed it to be transformative – of both the individual and the body politic. It’s as much a meditation on Walt Whitman’s hope for America as Gandhi’s directive to ‘be the change you want to see in the world.'”

The album’s name comes from a Richard Avedon photo entitled “Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution.” Looking at the portrait of upper class ladies in their pristine satin gowns, Burhenn considered her own supposed eligibility to be a member of DAR and thought about what true revolutionary American women look like. The lineage of women that have stood up to injustice for well over a hundred years – women like Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf – they get their hands dirty. And Burhenn wanted to pay tribute to that.

In conjunction with the release of the album, Burhenn is launching a portrait project called The New Revolutionists (www.thenewrevolutionists.org). In an election year when so much time, energy and money will be spent on political contests, Burhenn wanted to shine a light on women making a difference – often on shoestring or even nonexistent budgets – in their own communities all over America, whether they’re making headlines or not.

Tegan and Sara In The Studio Recording Seventh Album

TEGAN AND SARA IN THE STUDIO RECORDING SEVENTH ALBUM AND FOLLOW-UP TO 2009’S CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED ALBUM SAINTHOOD RECORDING WITH GREG KURSTIN, MIKE ELIZONDO, AND JUSTIN MELDAL-JOHNSEN

Canadian pop-rock icons Tegan and Sara are in the studio recording their as-yet-untitled seventh studio album, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2009 album Sainthood. The Quin sisters are working with three separate producers on the album: Greg Kurstin (The Shins, Lily Allen, Sia), Mike Elizondo (Regina Spektor, Mastodon, Rilo Kiley), and Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Neon Trees, M83, Moving Units).

“Sara and I are trying to step outside of our comfort zones and push ourselves to the extreme with this one so get ready for a whole new T+S sound!” Tegan says. “We strive to keep things fresh and exciting with each new record and I definitely feel like we’re accomplishing that so far.”

Tegan and Sara have already finished up with Elizondo and are currently working with Kurstin before beginning sessions with Meldal-Johnsen in early May. Fans can keep up with their progress via an online web series “Carpool Confessional,” which captures them in the car as they travel to and from the studio each day. New episodes (which have featured such special guests as fun., Sia, and AFI’s Hunter Burgan) are posted every Tuesday on www.teganandsara.com. Rolling Stone is documenting the action as well, with new photojournals being posted every Wednesday. See the ongoing behind-the-scenes photo gallery here. Alternative Press also ran a Q&A with Tegan about working on the new album.

In other Tegan and Sara news, the band’s 2011 DVD/CD Get Along has been nominated for a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy’s) for “Music DVD of the Year.” The winners will be announced during the weekend of March 31st. In addition, the girls’ collaboration with DJ Morgan Page, “Body Work,” is currently available on iTunes. Watch the video featuring Tegan and Sara here

The band is also featured on the cover of this month’s Curve Magazine.

Zammuto headlining tour dates

ZAMMUTO ADDS HEADLINING DATES AND ADDITIONAL SUPPORT DATES FOR EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY TO SPRING TOUR

GROUP RELEASE ANOTHER TRACK, “THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME”, AND OFFER PREORDER OF UPCOMING ALBUM

DOWNLOAD “THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME

Zammuto-the new four-piece band fronted by Nick Zammuto (co-founder & chief composer of innovative collage-pop duo the Books) have added additional headlining dates to their first US tour with instrumental rock icons and labelmates, Explosions In The Sky. The announcement comes on the heels of a glowing feature of the group’s newly released track, “Too Late to Topologize,” on NPR’s All Songs Considered as well as the premiere of album track “The Shape of Things To Come” on Pitchfork.

The trek coincides with the release of Zammuto’s debut album (out April 3rd on Temporary Residence Ltd.) In anticipation of the tour, the quartet has given fans the opportunity to preorder their upcoming album online on the Temporary Residence Ltd. website.

FULL TOUR DATES

4/5/12 Boulder, CO – Boulder Theater #
4/6/12 Grand Junction, CO – Mesa Theater & Club #
4/7/12 Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue #
4/8/12 Missoula, MT – Wilma Theater #
4/10/12 Seattle, WA – Moore Theater #
4/11/12 Eugene, OR – McDonald Theater #
4/12/12 Reno, NV – Knitting Factory #
4/15/12 Davis, CA – Mondavi Center #
4/16/12 San Francisco, CA – Palace of Fine Arts Theater #
4/17/12 San Francisco, CA – Palace of Fine Arts Theater #
4/18/12 Pamona, CA – Glasshouse #
4/19/12 San Diego, CA – Soda Bar*
4/20/12 Visalia, CA – The Cellar Door*
4/22/12 Flagstaff, AZ – Orpheum Theater #
4/24/12 San Antonio, TX – Backstage Live #
4/30/12 Brooklyn, NY – Glasslands*
5/1/12 Annandale-on-Hudson, NY – Bard College*

# with Explosions In The Sky
*New Headlining Dates

WZRD – WZRD album review

The continued fusion of musical creation across genres is in full display with the self titled debut of WZRD.  The amalgamation of Kid Cudi’s lyricality and Dot da Genius’s custom built rhythms blends two styles seamlessly to produce a record that’s already sold tens of thousands of copies, both in store and online, in a modern market that involves more pirates than purchasers.  East Coast meets Midwest as a pair of young men unite to propel the evolution of mainstream onward through the second decade of the 21st century.

Dark bass announces “The Arrival” before more familiar drum beats and strings filter into the opening track of the eleven part production.  Dot, the multi platinum producer, lays the groundwork for Cudi’s exploration.  Moving away from the hip hop scene that’s created his success the Kid from the Middle West attempts something closer to the rock world.  Guitar riffs open “High Off Life” as his rolling lyrics rise through the beat for the first time.   “I never ever thought it could, never thought the day would come for me, when I would be high off life.  There’s so much I haven’t seen.”

Dot’s genius is on full display throughout the entirety.  His backdrops range from rock to introspective, dreamy and back again.  The subject matter on display is that of two men growing up through their realities and the place they’ve carved for themselves in the music industry.  Life, love and learning through the world’s sometimes harsh lessons bleeds through speakers as the tracks spin on.  “Follow your heart” is implored through the quickly firing guitar strings of “Love Hard”.

Drifting through the recollections and ponderings of our time in this place WZRD’s debut magicks itself toward the end.  Reaching the top of several charts in the little time since release this duo’s blend of electro hop is the latest in an onslaught of genre bending creations splashing across the mainstream.  Successfully meeting hip hop, rock and electronica in the middle, Kid Cudi and Dot da Genius created something larger than their separate talents.

Miniature Tigers – Mia Pharaoh album review

Mia Pharaoh: Not Much More Than Background Music

Sometimes a double take is necessary. Sometimes you have to give your mind a moment to adjust. Sometimes first impressions aren’t lasting impressions. However, this was not the case with Mia Pharaoh by Miniature Tigers. The first time I listened to the album, I had already formulated an opinion, a predominately negative one, and though I have listened to it repeatedly, hoping something would change as far as my opinion, it has not.

From the first note sung by front-man Charlie Brand, vocal potential is obvious, but by the end of the first line in “Sex On The Regular”, his voice can easily become annoying. Some men can sing in falsetto and have women swoon over them; Brand is not one of those men. When he sings lines like “Come over if you want it and jump me again” (Sex On The Regular) or “What’s your fantasy? Can I make you come true?” (Female Doctor), they are meant to be sexy and enticing but instead come across as dorky and virgin.

As if his adolescent voice doesn’t make the album unbearable enough, it is paired with lyrics that are equally immature. If the song is meaningful enough, melody doesn’t matter as much, but lyrics like “Trust me, if I could control it, it’d be under control” (Ugly Needs), “So high, you’re up in the sky” (Easy As All That), and “They wanna take your picture over by that thing” (Flower Door) are bland and disappointing. Of course, on “Husbands & Wives”, when Brand isn’t attempting sexuality and gives in to his youthfulness, his infantile voice is cute, almost endearing, but that is one song of ten.

On the other hand, the backing tracks improve the entire quality of the album. People will put up with poor lyrics and singing if the music sounds good. The intrumentals on the album vary from synth-pop to space age pop to even a 1950s feel. While the music behind “Husbands & Wives” transports the listener to a different time, and the music behind “Flower Door” transports the listener to another place, the music behind “Angel Bath” and “Ugly Needs” transports the listener to another dimension.

A good song should either make the listener think or feel. Overall, with few exceptions, Mia Pharaoh does neither. Ironically, the irritatingly childlike vocals and underwhelming lyrics make the album difficult to play through, but the otherworldly back beats almost classify this album as easy listening music. Though it can’t stand alone as art, any given track on Mia Pharaoh could work well as elevator music, soundtrack music for a movie, or really any form of background music.

Estelle – All of Me album review

Estelle’s third album, All of Me, features an elegantly classic black and white cover, all shadows and contrast. The artist made the jump from the U.K. to America because she believes she wasn’t taken seriously as an R & B singer and took some time off from 2008’s “Shine”, which featured her Grammy Award-winning song, American Boy.

For all her looking like a smoky-eyed chanteuse, the material ends up being pretty lightweight in intensity and  doesn’t deliver. There’s no discernable theme, if you will to what she is trying to be: a bluesy rapper, a hip hop R&B-er or a sultry pop diva. She is competing with the likes of Adele and Lauren Hill, powerhouse vocalists who know what genre of music they are in at the moment and go after it full-force. Estelle is tentative and uncommitted to a particular sound and ends up sounding watered-down. Produced by Don Cannon and Jerry Duplessis, there really should be more organization and clarity to the tracks.

Love the Way We Used To  has an odd time signature and ends up sounding like a mashup of two songs, in the way that listening to two songs through the same set of headphones does and is mostly irritating.

There are a couple of spoken tracks that sounds like parts of interviews thrown in to do…what? Don’t Break it  has a musical underlay to a discussion of breakups, so I don’t know if it’s the music that is the focus or the sentiments of whomever is speaking. I assume Estelle is in there, but who is she talking to?

Speak Ya Mind and Do My Thing (with Janelle Monae) are fun hip hop tracks, practically begging for radio play, but Break My Heart (featuring Rick Ross) and Thank You have already been released as singles. Estelle teamed up with Chris Brown on International (Serious), although neither she nor the track needs him and it gets kind of crowded in there with Trey Songz vying for airtime.

Estelle has the chops to do R & B and perhaps with a little more passion, to do hip hop very well. In this day of single-track downloads, it’s hard for an artist to hold their audience’s attention to follow the scheme of a whole album, if there is one. Estelle seems to want us to think there is a point to All of Me and by looking at the track listing, a listener might think it was about relationships. But don’t count on it.

Miike Snow – The Wave video

Miike Snow – The Wave video

TOUR DATES:

Tue. 03-13-12 SXSW Austin, TX
Tue. 03-20-12 Music Hall of Williamsburg New York, NY
Fri. 03-23-12 Ultra Music Festival Miami, FL SOLD OUT
Tue. 04-10-12 Paramount Theatre Seattle, WA
Wed. 04-11-12 Roseland Theater Portland, OR
Thu. 04-12-12 Fox Theater Oakland, CA SOLD OUT
Sat. 04-14-12 Coachella Indio, CA SOLD OUT
Tue. 04-17-12 Los Angeles-El Rey Theatre with The Big Pink
Wed. 04-18-12 Los Angeles-El Rey Theatre with Wolfgang
Sat. 04-21-12 Coachella Indio, CA SOLD OUT
Tue. 04-24-12 Terminal 5 New York, NY SOLD OUT
Wed. 04-25-12 Terminal 5 New York, NY SOLD OUT
Thurs. 04-26-12 Terminal 5 New York, NY SOLD OUT
Fri. 04-27-12 Electric Factory Philadelphia, PA
Sat. 04-28-12 9:30 Club Washington, DC SOLD OUT
Sun. 04-29-12 House Of Blues Boston, MA
Tue. 05-01-12 Sound Academy Toronto, ON
Wed. 05-02-12 Metropolis Theatre Montreal, QC

FS – Half Android album review

Brooklyn based dubstep producer/composer/musician, Fred Sardolini (better known as FS) recently released his new LP Half Android on Play Me Records.

In this release, his skills as a composer and artist gleam through the album’s diverse sound.  It’s not a surprise to find out he’s been playing different kinds of music since he was ten.  Every track offers an eclectic variety of sounds sampled, which creates a layered mix unique to most electro-glitch artists.  He also features former Root’s member Rahzel, and fellow dubstep artists Calvertron and Reid Speed. 

With mixed in melodies laced into the complex beats, heavy drops, and dynamic danceable rhythms, the album is a must listen for all your electro lovers. Incorporating the sounds of hip-hop, reggae, and jazz, the album provides an all inclusive sound.

Check out “iLLest Android,” “Lazers N Bass,” “Dub Combination,” and “Dial 999.”  Keep your eyes and ears out for this rising artist.

SMASH PALACE RETURNS WITH DO IT AGAIN BAND’S EIGHTH CD OUT ON ZIP RECORDS ON APRIL 24, 2012 “Living It Lonely” First Single

SMASH PALACE RETURNS WITH DO IT AGAIN BAND’S EIGHTH CD OUT ON ZIP RECORDS ON APRIL 24, 2012 “Living It Lonely” First Single
Album Release Show Announced

“Smash Palace, a powerpop/rock band with a 28-year pedigree still has the spirit and exuberance necessary for this tough-to-pull-off style.” – USA Today

With their eighth CD, “Do It Again,” Smash Palace delivers the perfect soundtrack for the Spring and Summer of 2012. The ten rock n roll tracks represent the signature Butler brothers’ sound – 60’s jangle rock, 70’s rock swagger, 80’s power pop and 90’s Brit rock – but rolled into a contemporary 2012 style of its own. Imagine that you are listening to ten of your favorite songs even though you haven’t heard any of them before! Welcome to “Do It Again.”

Stephen and Brian Butler were first discovered by Hilly Kristal at NYC’s original punk club, CBGB’s. Later, as “Quincy,” they were signed to Columbia Records, and then were reborn as Smash Palace and moved to Epic Records.

“Do It Again” will be Smash Palace’s fourth release for Zip Records, and will be released on April 24, 2012. After playing a show at Liverpool’s Cavern Club, label head Art Herman rediscovered the band and immediately signed Smash Palace to his San Francisco-based indie label.

“…a swath of British invasion verve, an effortless blend moving with a catchy rock swagger that’s infectiousness enough to require Cipro.”
– Philadelphia Weekly

“The lion’s share of the credit goes to the Butler brothers’ razor sharp songwriting skills, particularly their ability to meld soaring pop melodies to clever lyrics.
– Amplifier Magazine

Smash Palace will play an album-release show on Sunday, April 22nd at The Ritz Theater, as well as several other east-coast area shows (below).
More dates to follow.

April 22, Sunday night – The Ritz Theater in Haddon Twp NJ Smash Palace CD release show

May 18th, Friday night – The Record Collector in Bordentown NJ

June 8th, Friday night – The Sellersville Theater, Sellersville Pa

July 7th, Saturday night – The World Cafe Live, Phila. Pa.