If you’re an avid reader of p&p+s (as I’m sure you are) you’ll remember that I was quite excited for Bibio’s upcoming album Mind Bokeh due to this tantilizing album sampler that was released in January:
More labels/artists should make these little youtube videos, because this moved Mind Bokeh from “Mild Excitment” to “Insomnia-Inducing Fervor” on the p&p+s Album Anticipation Scale (PPSAAS) (haha pee pee ass). The video definitely put this album on a lot of people’s radar, including mine. Thankfully, Mind Bokeh leaked today, and I have been genuinely enjoying it from the first listen.
Even the album cover is awesome.
When asked about the album title, Stephen Wilkinson, the lone man behind the sound, had this to say:
Bokeh is the out of focus region of a photograph. It’s not a quantifiable thing, but photographers and lens manufacturers are obsessed with it. In Japanese it means “haze,” “blur” or even “dementia.” I called the album Mind Bokeh because I’m interested in the effect of defocussing your mind, whether through meditation, chemicals or whatever — it’s a state of mind quite alien to Westerners.
It’s always cool to hear artists’ reasons for titles and lyrics for things, even if you don’t like being categorized as a high-strung Westerner.
This is the 7th Google Images result for Stephen Wilkinson. I can only assume that Bibio drives this car.
Bibio’s last album Ambivalence Avenue was hailed as a great album by pretty much everyone, so as with any follow-up to a great album fans were wary of disappointment (The King of Limbs anyone?). Mind Bokeh is better than Ambivalence Avenue. I can’t say there’s a song that I don’t enjoy. Maybe this is a side effect of the album sampler, as I find that I tend to like things that sound a little familiar.
That being said, if you think this album is going to sound like the album sampler repeated 10 times, you’d be extremely wrong. Wilkinson always manages to blend electronic and folk and I don’t even know what else to make his extremely unique sound. Listen to “Saint Christopher“:
This was the song from the sampler that I was most eager to hear. Since the sampler only contained a few seconds of each song, it made me really excited to hear the rest of the ones I liked. So, pretty much all of them. If you can’t tell already, I kind of loved this sampler thing. I probably listened to it 50 times or so.
I think the sampler really worked for this album because it’s a very cohesive piece of music. I don’t think it would work for an album comprised of a few good songs and a bunch of filler tracks, because inevitably you’d be left with a large percentage of shitty song clips.
So, yes, I love this a lot already. And gauging from other reactions I’ve read around the interwebs it’s going to be on a lot of Best of 2011 lists. So listen, love, buy, and let your mind defocus.
Hello Mr. Blog, it’s been a while. While I was gone, Radiohead decided they would announce the release of their new record The King of Limbs much in the same vein of their In Rainbows release. Again they’re releasing independently, but without the pay-what-you-want scheme of In Rainbows. Digital downloads are priced at $9 for MP3 and $14 for lossless WAV files. There is also the fancy vinyl package for $48.
The price point is very interesting to me, as retail CD’s don’t go for much more than the $9 or even $14 they want for the download. Especially since they are releasing this independently as a download and distribution costs are virtually zero, they stand to make lots and lots of money.
Well enough about that. After In Rainbows seemed to be a combination of their previous records, I was interested to see where Radiohead would go with this one. They had released a couple of singular songs in the past year or so, none of which I was really a fan of.
The King of Limbs is short. 8 songs, 37.5 minutes. Radiohead had previously said that they would like to move away from full-length albums and more toward an EP-based approach, so maybe that’s why TKOL is at a kind of in-between length. So for a minimum of $9 you get 8 songs. I think that’s roughly what an album costs on iTunes, though I haven’t bought music from there in a long time. Apple takes something like 30% of all sales on iTunes, which means Radiohead is making more per-sale than they would on iTunes. Which is a long cry from the pay-what-you-want model of In Rainbows. HAHA OKAY REALLY DONE TALKING ABOUT MONEY NOW.
As for the music, the album is a lot more stripped-down than anything else from Radiohead. Stylistically I’d say it’s somewhere in between Amnesiac and In Rainbows. It’s more percussive and a lot less melody-centric than I’m used to from them. It’s certainly a long way away from the triple-guitar driven days of the late nineties.
I guess everyone should stop being surprised when new Radiohead sounds completely different than old Radiohead, seeing as this is the band that has released Pablo Honey and Amnesiac without skipping a beat.
There were too many words in a row so I put this here.
I’ve been discussing this with one Rajib K. Mitra, and we both agree that if you’re looking for serious catchy guitar riffs, you’re going to be disappointed. Fortunately, Radiohead does downtempo sad songs as well as anybody. The King of Limbs is not something you’re going to want to listen to when you want to rock out and pep up your day.
There are some rumors going around that the band is going to release more songs at some point, as the album currently is quite short, and there are many other songs known to be recorded that are not present in the track listing. There’s also something in the lyrics for “Separator” (the last song) about ‘If you think this is over/Then you’re wrong.’ Radiohead have been known to put little hidden things (the presence of the number 10 in In Rainbows, Kid 17) within their albums, so I guess nothing’s out of the question. I would think this would be the last release for at least 6 months though.
So, watch this:
The jury is out on whether this is a legitimate artistic dance interpretation of “Lotus Flower” or whether Thom is snickering at everyone taking this seriously. It’s certainly a change of image for a man seemingly irked by the spotlight throughout his career. As happens with an video of something dancing goofily on the internet, people have taken Thom’s dance and set it to a variety of hilarious soundtracks, this being the best I’ve seen so far:
via Dumb-Bee Elkins
Regardless of your enjoyment of the album, I hope you can agree that Thom dancing to Beyoncé is hilariously awesome.
One new (free) logic board later and my laptop is alive and well. So I do get to post Mine Is Yours after all. I’ve been listening to it more and more, and it continues to grow on me. There are definitely still some tracks better off skipped, but overall I think it’s a solid album. There’s some very catchy parts, but also some parts that are boring as heck. It’s definitely worth a download and few listens though. Here’s “Bulldozer”:
I can definitely see myself listening to this a good bit in the near future. Though it’s decidedly poppier than the Kids’ previous efforts, it maintains enough of their edge to be very listenable. There’s still some of that signature CWC guitar to be heard, but what will keep me coming back is Nathan Willett’s voice, because it’s awesome.
It’s time for a New Junk showdown!!!! In the Sophomore-Slump-Busting Corner we have Ra Ra Riot’s The Orchard. In the Released-an-Incredible-Album-Then-Just-a-Really-Good-One Corner we have Arcade Fire with The Suburbs. DING DING!
When we ran out of tickets for the main event tonight, things got ugly.
The Rhumb Line is amongst the most played full albums in my music library. It is the ever elusive complete album, with not a bad song to be heard anywhere. I tried not to expect too much from the follow-up, as I have learned I am easily disappointed. Especially with a relatively new band in Ra Ra Riot, as I have no idea if they can be consistently awesome or not. Even with all my efforts, I couldn’t help but be massively excited to have my first listen. It was definitely the most excited I’ve been to listen to an album for the first time in a long time. Incredibly, I was not disappointed. At all.
The Orchard is plain wonderful. It keeps all the energy and verve of The Rhumb Line while still progressing and not being boring. The band certainly knows how to arrange songs on their albums too, as this one is built superbly. The title track is the perfect opener, while “Keep It Quiet” rounds out the only 39 minute aural adventure. In between lies a contrast of fast and slow, of dark and playful, and of new and old. “Boy” sounds like a track straight from their first album, which is a huge compliment. Perhaps one reason why I think so highly of this album is that my future wife, Alexandra, gets to sing a whole song! By herself!
Future wife number two. Or three? I don't remember.
I’m still trying to find a bad song, but I haven’t yet. I think I’m just a sucker for strings. Got that Alexandra? Good.
Have a listen to “You And I Know”:
This is the part of the post where I would link you to the album that I host somewhere, but since this album isn’t out yet doing so would probably get this post deleted like last time. I could rant about why me linking to a download is a good thing, but instead I will link you to google, which will then link you to roughly 130,000 places you can download it other than here.
I don’t know if that’s really a mullet, but that’s what I’m calling it because it deserves a strange name. When I heard that Arcade Fire’s new album was called The Suburbs, I was scared. Scared because the suburbs are the city’s less exciting cousin. Would that mean this album would be a boring version of Funeral. In a way, I really expected it to be. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I just couldn’t see them making another solid album. I was wrong. Hipster Mullet 1, Eric 0. Whatever strange brain that lives below those beautiful flowing locks of Win’s is here to stay.
The Suburbs is not at all a departure from the band’s previous efforts, rather a reinvention of them. Capturing the unwavering energy of the band and dark songwriting edge of Win, the album is one full hour of solid listening, which few bands can say they create. Not a whole lot sticks out to me, which isn’t a bad thing. “Empty Room” sounds like Owen Pallett spent some time in the studio with Broken Social Scene (in a good way). “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains” touts a synth line straight from the 80’s. These things, mixed with the well known Arcade Fire strings, piano, guitar, megaphone, and bible tearing make for one great record. Listen to “Ready to Start”:
I haven’t decided where The Suburbs sits in my mind in relation to Funeral and Neon Bible. It’s definitely up there somewhere though. Funeral is an amazing album all the way through, Neon Bible has some incredible songs, but could The Suburbs tie it all together? Probably not, though time will tell. Neon Bible took a long time to achieve its “Quite Awesome” rating in my mind. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it past Neon Bible fairly soon.
Oh right, boxing metaphor, I forgot. Well, Ra Ra Riot came out swinging fast and hard, but Arcade Fire used the illusion of the Hipster Mullet to dodge the blows. The Suburbs struck back with bowling alleys and movie theaters, while The Orchard started throwing apples. Wait what.
It’s a very close call, as both albums are certain to be on many Best of 2010 lists (and deservedly too). However, I’m going to say Ra Ra Riot wins this edition of New Junk. Did you really think I would pick against my future wife? There’s no way I’m sleeping on the couch tonight.
In the haze of finals and other things keeping me busy, a ton of new albums have been released/leaked. Perhaps the one I’ve been most excited for is High Violet, The National’s follow-up to Boxer, which still stands as one of my favorite albums. I’m only a few listens deep, but my initial reaction is that it’s certainly a solid album. It would be greedy to ask for another Boxer, which High Violet isn’t. The new album certainly has some similarities to the old, sometimes sounding like the band has some sort of album formula that it enacts on its songs. There’s the upbeat-guitar-driven song, followed by the slow-sad-piano song, leading to the bass-driven-vocal track and on and on. Not that that’s a horrible thing. If you like The National’s sound, you’ll like this album, and I certainly do. I can’t imagine not liking anything that contains Matt Berninger’s voice. Listen to “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” because that’s all they’ll let me link to:
I was also very excited for the new Band of Horses album, Infinite Arms. As sometimes happens when hopes are high, I was very disappointed. As one comment I saw put it, the band has ventured further to the ‘beard side’ with this album.
Beards: not always a good thing.
Though I loved both of Band of Horses first albums, I found it hard to listen to their newest effort. After struggling through the first listen, I haven’t gone back for another. Perhaps it’ll grow on me, but for now I’ll stick to Cease to Begin and Everything All the Time. Up until now the band, replete with beards if you haven’t guessed, has balanced their bearded country roots with rock in a deliciously listenable way. Now, that balance is all gone, leaving Infinite Arms lacking the edge that made their previous albums great. When they seemingly try to regain that edge, the band comes off sounding like Rooney. Have a listen for yourself, and tell me that this isn’t a Rooney song.
Oh shit you can’t listen cause I got yelled at!
I like Rooney and everything, but this song doesn’t belong. I leave you with this download link, and a recommendation to approach with caution. Oh shit no I don’t cause I got yelled at! Don’t worry, it’s probably for the best.
Stretch Armstrong misses the mark
Foals’ Antidotes was a recent discovery of mine that left me wondering how I had missed out on it for so long. Luckily for me, soon after my discovery, I learned that Total Life Forever, Foals’ sophomore effort, was due out soon. I put off listening to it for a while for reasons I’m not really sure of, but upon finally listening to it I was pleasantly satisfied. A perfect progression from Antidotes, the new album is very rewarding for the patient listener. There’s not really much to say other than download it already. It’s sure to be on many Album of the Year lists, unless the fall brings some kind of crazy musical apocalypse (in a good way). Here’s “Spanish Sahara:”
Broken Social Scene finally has released a proper album, after having their fun with the “Broken Social Scene Presents…” series. Entitled Forgiveness Rock Record, it’s not very different from the sound that everyone has come to expect from them. There’s nothing surprising about it, other than the fact that they have trimmed the list of official band members from over 15 to 7. I can’t say that I like it any better than their other studio efforts, which isn’t saying much because I love Broken Social Scene and You Forgot it in People a whole lot. At the very very least, Forgiveness Rock Record is very good, something that I’ve come to expect from BSS. They’ve certainly set a high standard with their previous work in the studio, including the “BSS Presents…” series, and this lives up to that standard. That being said, I don’t think it will be replacing any of their older efforts in my heart, but it’s very well-done and only adds to the great body of work that Broken Social Scene has created.
I’ve never understood the need for artists to create alter egos for themselves. Beyoncé’s Sasha Fierce routine just seemed silly. Giving herself a porn star’s name and staying the same otherwise? OK, whatever you want. (When googling for the spelling of Sasha, I came across this which was a good laugh.) Anyway, In the case of B.o.B./Bobby Ray Simmons, the discrepancy actually makes sense. B.o.B. successfully bridges the gap between rap, pop, folk, and a number of other genres in The Adventures of Bobby Ray. My guess is B.o.B. is the rapper while Bobby Ray plays the pop songs. Bobby Ray just doesn’t seem like a name that would go over so well in the ‘hood. Be it B.o.B. or Bobby Ray singing, the album is very listenable, especially in a summer setting. T.I. is listed as a producer, which is certainly a good endorsement to have if you’re Bobby Ray. Although I get a little annoyed at lyrics that continually talk about B.o.B./Bobby Ray and the confusion at who is really singing, it’s impossible to be mad after hearing some of the hooks on the album. The discussion of B.oB./Bobby Ray is even more prevalent on one of his mixtapes, entitled B.o.B. vs. Bobby Ray. That’s not a joke. As for the music, I definitely can hear a little of John Legend in Bobby Ray’s voice on the first song, “Don’t Let Me Fall.” I’ve wanted to give the whole album a few more listens through, but I find myself never getting past the second track and putting it on repeat. Listen to “Nothin’ on You,” featuring Bruno Mars:
That’s all for now, until the next time I’m bombarded with highly-anticipated leaks during the busiest week of my year. Next up is a youtube treasure trove of impromptu performances by some awesome people.
Sorry non-existent readers, I’ve been busy with school and such and unable to update for a while. Don’t worry though, soon it will be summer and I will most likely be unemployed and bored for a while, so expect lots of updates then.
It’s just about spring album release time, and there are lots of big names lined up this year. First up, LCD Soundsystem. Their new album This Is Happening isn’t actually being released until May 17th, so don’t spread any mp3’s or you might go to jail. In case this blog post is used in the future against me: Hi judge, you’re looking dashingly handsome/devastatingly beautiful today.
I’ve never been the biggest fan of LCD Soundsystem. I’m not sure what it is, but while everyone else raved about their stuff, I just thought it was kind of alright. I did enjoy 45:33, their Nike-sponsored workout mix thing. (It’s actually 45:58 long, strangely.) Other than that and “North American Scum” off of Sound of Silver, I wasn’t impressed. That is, until I got my hands on This Is Happening. I’m not sure if I finally got James Murphy, but this album is awesome. Perhaps the album title was a reference to me finally welcoming LCD Soundsystem into my regular music rotation. LCDS is hard to place for me, but I guess you could call it electronic-dance-punk-something-or-other. I’ve never been good with genres. Either way, This Is Happening is delightfully dancey, a quality always welcome in any music. TIH is sure to be on many top ten of twenty ten lists, even though it’s songs aren’t exactly something you’ll hear on the radio. With a song called “Drunk Girls” how could they lose! Check out “All I Want below.
Next up is MGMT, who’s new release Congratulations might be one of the most anticipated releases this year. MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular is just plain fun to listen to. The follow up is not. I read an article in the paper here about the album , which basically said while Congratulations is nothing like it’s predecessor in that it has no more infectious melodies or happiness, it still succeeds in that the band is going the direction they want to. I’m really happy MGMT made a record that they can say is exactly what they wanted. So super happy for them. Congratulations even. Unfortunately, Congratulations not what I wanted. I’ll admit that all I wanted was another Oracular Spectacular. If they would have changed the beat a little and thrown in some new lyrics about being young and carefree, I would have been incredibly happy, and probably played the record over and over this summer. Instead, I’ll be listening to “Youth” and “Electric Feel.” Give it a listen if you’re into bands going in unwelcome new directions.
MGMT, sticking it to the man in unlistenable fashion.
The Black Keys are cool. There’s no other way to put it. Just cool. Brothers, their latest effort, is no different. While perhaps not as strong as some of their other albums, Brothers maintains that wonderful bluesy jangle that The Black Keys have going for them. It’s amazing to me how they’ve been able to consistently put out quality albums with nary a let down. If you like this album , be sure to check out their back catalog, as it’s full of gems. Also amazing is that they’re only a duo. They definitely sound like a bigger band. This is another album not due out for another month, oh the wonders of the internet. Remember the days when you actually had to wait until the actual release date to hear an album? I don’t. Listen up to “Tighten Up”:
Yeah, they went this route. Don't worry, it's cool.
The last item of this edition of New Junk is the new Crystal Castles album. I’m warning you right now: this isn’t for everyone. Crystal Castles is probably most-often classified as chiptune. I have no idea what that means, nor does anyone else in the world. It’s kind of electronic spacey-mixed-with-abrasive beat driven stuff. If you don’t download it after that description, there’s something wrong with you. Anyway, Crystal Castles burst onto the scene with their highly acclaimed debut Crystal Castles. They’ve followed that up with their new album Crystal Castles. Yup, that’s right, both albums are named Crystal Castles. Unfortunately this wreaks havoc upon iTunes, which wants to recognize both albums as one. Thanks Crystal Castles for making both Crystal Castles and Crystal Castles have the same name! iTunes frustrations aside, the album is actually pretty good, though I haven’t decided whether I like it as much as their first album yet. I really like “Celestica,” but it’s not characteristic of the rest of the album at all. Give it a listen if you want to listen to some weird stuff, who knows, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Sticking it to the man Steve Jobs style; so cool it hurts
Well, that does it for this edition of New Junk. I hope you like the name New Junk. I sure like New Junk. Next time I’ll have the new Band of Horses, The National, and Foals, which all better be as awesome as I expect them to be.