LCD Soundsystem – American Dream

As the story goes, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy (lead vocalist and jack-of-all instruments for the band) had no plans to make this record. He was content to stay in retirement after the band closed the door on their legacy with a massive sold-out show in New York City. He couldn’t stop writing songs, however, and all of that creative energy had to go somewhere. It went into the band’s newest record, and one of the best records of the year, American Dream.

The themes are American Dream are familiar ones to LCDSS’s work – love, aging, trying to stay hip, partying, and emotional disconnect in the digital age. The first track, “Oh Baby,” has Murphy pleading for a lover to come back to him as synths beats bubble underneath his vocals. The wicked bass and beats on “Other Voices” underlie the scathing message directed at adults acting like spoiled children instead of sticking up for themselves and others. “Time isn’t over and times aren’t better so it’s letting you down. You keep dragging back to it, keep going back to the well,” Murphy sings before telling us that we’re still babies and pushovers. Vocalist / keyboardist Nancy Whang claims, “It sounds like the nineties.” at one point. We’re back to the emptiness that decade only twenty years later. The final verse is particularly damning: “You’re just a baby now. You should be uncomfortable. Fake like you mean it.”

“I Used To” is a classic example of Murphy realizing he’s an aged hipster and remembering when he thought he was going to change the world (which, in some ways, he has). It’s a track Gary Numan would love, as it sounds like early Tubeway Army material but with vocals more soulful than robotic. The best lyric is “Oh sure, we’re talking tough, yeah, we’re talking tuff, but on suburban lawns in prone positions.” “Change Yr Mind” has LCDSS verging into post-punk with Murphy’s chop guitar work and the snappy beat. Murphy laments his younger days of being Joe Cool with self-introspective lyrics like “I’m not dangerous now, the way I used to be once. I’m just too old for it now, at least that seems to be true.”

“How Do You Sleep?” has Murphy wondering about a former lover who warned him about cocaine even as she was diving into addiction and left him stuck hanging out with “vape clowns.” It’s almost a goth track with its deep bass and Pat Mahoney’s tribal drumming. It’s a stunning piece that I’m sure is a highlight of their current live shows.

“Tonite” is one of the wittiest songs Murphy’s ever written as he salutes and takes down modern pop music (and growing older) at the same time with wicked beats and synth work. His lyrics are brilliant and include gems like “You’re getting older – and there’s improvement unless you’re such a winner that the future’s a nightmare,” “You’ve lost your Internet, and we’ve lost our memory,” and “…embarrassing pictures have now all been deleted by versions of selves that we thought were the best ones.”

“Call the Police” was one of the first songs off the record. It’s soaring synths and Go-Go’s bass propel Murphy’s lyrics about fake rebellion and forgotten passions (“The old guys are frightened, and frightening to behold. The kids come out fighting and still do what they’re told.”).

What is the “American Dream” alluded to in the album’s title track? It’s love. In particular, love that is often right in front of us but we choose to ignore out of fear it will be painful or difficult or might lead to further responsibility. The track is vintage synths, finger snaps, and Murphy’s passionate vocals (“So you kiss and you clutch; but you can’t fight that feeling that your one true love is just awaiting your big meeting, so you never even ask for names. You just right through them as if you already came.”).

“Emotional Haircut” sounds like a forgotten Love and Rockets track with Murphy’s savage guitar work and Mahoney’s wicked drumming. Murphy sings about knee jerk reactions to tragedies and then not being able to move past them at a later date (“You got numbers on your phone of the dead that you can’t delete and you got life-affirming moment in your past that you can’t repeat.”). The album’s closer, “Black Screen,” is almost a darkwave track as Murphy remembers a lost friend or lover who might be dead or simply taking a vacation from the worldwide web. In this day and age, both are equal for many.

LCD Soundsystem wants us to remember that the American dream is achievable if we remember that it’s not about money. It’s about love, helping the little guy, acknowledging our rough past, and not repeating the same mistakes. The nation will be better off if we at least try.

Keep your mind open.

[Don’t wait.  Subscribe tonight.]

Mark Vickness – Places

Easily one of the best acoustic albums I’ve heard all year, Mark Vickness‘ Places is just him and an acoustic guitar that he plays in the “modern finger style” method, which involves using the guitar as both a stringed and percussive instrument.

There are no vocals on the record, only songs about and inspired by places Vickness has visited either alone or with his family over the last few decades.  The impressive “A Thousand Islands is about a lake in the Sierra Mountains where he proposed to his wife.  The almost sad “Wind River” is about a place in Wyoming.  The images of “Prince William Sound” and “New York City” are obvious, but Vickness’ skill is anything but ordinary.  He makes his guitar sound like chimes, an old clock, a dulcimer, and even a sitar at some points.

“Flight of the Rays” is about seeing manta rays swim through the ocean near Hawaii, and Vickness does a great job at bringing the peaceful yet strange images to find with his guitar.  “Bishop Pass” is about another spot in the Sierras and would be great for a drive up there.

“NYC 2.0” is about a return trip Vickness made to the city two years ago.  The song is a bit darker and funkier than the earlier track, reflecting his new perspective on the Big Apple.  The three-part “Wonder Lake Suite” is his salute to Wonder Lake in Alaska and is almost a meditative experience.

The album ends with “I Must Tell Jesus.”  It’s a classic spiritual song that was the favorite of Vickness’ adoptive grandmother, and his imagining of it for the acoustic guitar is both a loving tribute to her and a nice update on a wonderful gospel standard.

Places is a good record if you’re into instrumental guitar and looking for something to chill you out after a day of bad traffic, pointless meetings, and bad coffee.

Keep your mind open.

[I’d like a thousand subscribers.  You could be one of them!]

Wavves – You’re Welcome

Surf / garage punks Wavves (Alex Gates – guitar and vocals, Brian Hill – drums and vocals, Stephen Pope – bass and vocals, Nathan Winters – guitar and lead vocals) make no bones about what they think of their new record.  It’s entitled You’re Welcome.  It’s their gift to us, and we should be thankful for it.

Opener “Daisy” is all about wanting to make it with a cute girl, and the title track right after is an uplifting track.  Both are fuzzy and catchy and just the kind of carefree rock we need in these turbulent times.  The opening distortion on “No Shade” breaks into a wicked performance by the rhythm section and rips past you faster than a cute girl ignoring you as she runs late to the bus station.

“Million Enemies” has Wavves not caring about forces conspiring against them.  “I got enemies, a million enemies; but, baby, I’m feelin’ fine.”  The guitar solo on it is a great, squeaky mess.  I’m sure this song generates a lot of call-back singing when they play it live.  The bass on “Hollowed Out” is downright funky, and “Come to the Valley” is a love letter to Wavves southern California neighborhood. “Animal” has more great bass work, and “Stupid in Love” is a great title for a Wavves song because it sums up many of the themes in their work so well.  Wavves have always crafted catchy songs about the weirdness of love and attraction, and this fun pop-punk track is a prime example of their knack for such tunes.

“Exercise” isn’t so much about physical activity as it is about exercising your right to protest.  Lyrics like “Dancing while the world is burning down,” “I can’t believe the shit they feed to us,” and “They’re lying to our face.” only reinforce the belief.  “Under” is about how love can drag us down if we hold onto it too tight.  “Close your eyes, I’ll be whatever you want me to be…It builds until I can’t take it.  It bends and then you break it.”

“Dream of Grandeur” is about the hopes of a new relationship and quickly realizing those hopes were pipe dreams, and it’s appropriate that an album so heavy on themes of love and strange relationships ends with a track entitled “I Love You.”  It’s also appropriate that it sounds like a 1950’s jukebox favorite love song with its vocal harmonies and guitar strumming.

You’re Welcome is probably the most fun record about the weird world of love I’ve heard all year.  Thank them for it if you get the chance.

Keep your mind open.

[I’d like a million subscribers.  You could be one!]

Melkbelly – Nothing Valley

Chicago post / noise-punk rockers Melkbelly (James Wetzel – drums, Bart Winters – guitar, Liam Winters – bass, Miranda Winters – guitar and vocals) are in no mood to take prisoners on their new full-length album Nothing Valley.

“Off the Lot” opens the album with a rapid-fire attack of Wetzel’s drums and angry guitar chords.  “Kid Kreative” brings to mind some of the Breeders‘ heavier tracks with Miranda Winters’ voice mixing post-punk attitude and garage rock urgency.

I don’t know what “R.O.R.O.B.” means, but I do know that it’s almost a goth rock classic.  Liam Winters’ bass line is one I’m sure Front 242 would love to have in their back pocket, and the rest of the band brings in a slightly creepy vibe you can’t ignore.  “Greedy Gull” has more angles to it than a 20-sided die.  The guitars are restless, but Wetzel’s drumming and Miranda Winters’ vocals keep the song rooted.

“Petrified” might indeed petrify you with its building wall of distorted sound.  By contrast, “Middle Of” will flatten you as it charges like an out of control steamroller.  “Twin Lookin’ Motherfucker” has great jagged guitar riffs throughout it.  “RUNXRN” chugs so hard it’s almost doom metal.  It abruptly ends, making the chaotic drums of “R2PCM” even more jarring.  At first, “Cawthra” sounds like a warped record (in a good way) and is an unexpected and welcome psychedelic diversion before it turns into a rock blitz.  I don’t know if “Helloween” is named after the German metal band, but the track is far more post-punk than metal (although some of the distortion in it would please any metal fan).  It’s also the longest track on the album at over five minutes.  This gives Melkbelly time to stretch their vocal and instrumental muscles in different directions, even dipping their toes into the goth pool for a couple moments.

This is one of my favorite rock records of the year.  I’ve been on a post-punk kick and Nothing Valley is a great addition to my collection.  It would be to yours as well.

Keep your mind open.

[Don’t get caught in the middle of boring music.  Subscribe to get news and reviews about lots of good stuff.]

 

Slow Magic – Float

I’d heard a few singles from Slow Magic‘s album, Float, and I was intrigued with his neat mix of electro, house, and ambient sounds.  I’m happy to say that the entire album is as good as I’d hoped.

Opener “Valhalla” (the drinking hall in the heaven of the Norse gods) starts subtle like a Valkyrie’s caress after death and then it fills with thundering drums and multilayered rhythms that snap you awake from anything fuzzing up your mind.

“Mind” (with Kate Boy on vocals) is probably already tearing up dance clubs in various remixes with its futuristic house beats.  “Skeleton Pink” somehow moves fast (with its beats) and slow (with its synths) at the same time.  “Shivers” brings in a heavy hitter with none other than MNDR on vocals (#swoon) for a big and bold track.

“Drum” loops distorted synths and electronic beats into a groove that you can’t get out of your head.  It might be your new favorite track for sprint workouts.
“Belong 2 Me” (with Peter Silberman taking up the vocals this time) takes you from the racetrack of the previous song to the race’s afterparty complete with premium cocktails in the VIP lounge and a killer dance floor for the people who aren’t too cool to dance.  “Diamond Ring” is a brief moment of synthwave before the grand house track “Wildfire.”

The beats on “=” (“Equals”) are so savage that the song almost sounds like an early 1990’s hardcore rave track.  Things are a bit quieter on “<3” (“Less than three,” “Heart,” or “Love,” depending on your choice), almost like you’re walking out into a morning rain after an all-night rave.  “Light” (featuring Tropics) reminds me of some of Bayonne‘s songs with its echoing vocals backed by poppy and fuzzy synths.

“Midnight Sun” sounds like something from a late night 1980’s sci-fi adventure comedy – and I mean that in the best possible way.  The closer, “Relent,” is a simple, lovely piano piece that leaves you wanting more by the end.

Float is a good debut.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Slow Magic playing EDM-themed festivals in 2018.

Keep your mind open.

 

Chicago’s NE-HI have a sharp new single – “Rattled & Strange.”

NE-HI ANNOUNCE NEW 7″, SHARE VIDEO FOR
“RATTLED AND STRANGE”

US TOUR CONTINUES WITH HEADLINE SHOWS AND DATES WITH WHITNEY, CHAD VANGAALEN, & MORE

Today, NE-HI announce a new 7″ featuring the songs “Rattled and Strange” and “Long Time,” and they share the video (a Weird Life Films production) for the former. “When you’re on the road as much as we are, it’s crucial to have something to occupy your time in between gigs,” says bassist James Weir. “As dive bar aficionados, the game of pool has become that activity. The ‘Rattled and Strange’ video is an homage to The Hustler sequel aka 1986 pool hall drama The Color of Money. The reason being that it’s about the combination of three of the Earth’s most revered treasures: the game of pool, Chicago, and Martin Scorsese.”

The 7″ is out November 3rd on Grand Jury, which happens to be the same week they launch their tour. This will include headline dates, as well as support slots for friends Whitney and Chad VanGaalen. The band also recently recorded a studio session for the AV Club, which can give fans an idea of what to expect on the upcoming dates. Watch it here, here, and here.

WATCH “RATTLED AND STRANGE” VIDEO / PRE-ORDER 7″
http://smarturl.it/nehi.rattled

NE-HI TOUR DATES
Wed. Oct. 18 – Urbana, IL @ Pygmalion Festival (Canopy Club)
Thu. Oct. 19 – Dekalb, IL @ The House Cafe w/ Surfer Blood
Sat. Oct. 28 – Gambier, OH @ The Horn Gallery (Kenyon College)
Thu. Nov. 2 – Chicago, IL @ Metro w/ Whitney, Mt. Joy (Red Bull 30 Days In Chicago)
Sat. Nov. 4 – Sioux Falls, SD @ Total Drag
Sun. Nov. 5 – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium
Wed. Nov. 8 – Spokane, WA @ The Bartlett
Fri. Nov. 10 – Seattle, WA @ Sunset Tavern w/ Chad VanGaalen
Sun. Nov. 12 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge w/ Chad VanGaalen
Tue. Nov. 14 – San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
Wed. Nov. 15 – Los Angeles, CA @ Satellite Club
Thu. Nov. 16 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
Fri. Nov. 17 – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
Sat. Nov. 18 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sister Bar
Sun. Nov. 19 – Denver, CO @ Hi Dive
Tue. Nov. 28 – Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall w/ Whitney
Wed. Nov. 29 – Madison, WI @ Majestic Theater w/ Whitney
Thu. Nov. 30 – Minneapolis, MIN @ First Avenue w/ Whitney
Fri. Dec. 1 – Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room w/ Whitney
Sat. Dec. 2 – Davenport. IA @ Raccoon Motel
Sun. Dec. 31 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall w/ Twin Peaks

Canadian surf punks Bonnie Doon release new single – “Now or Neverish.”

Bonnie-Doon

BONNIE DOON – Now Or Neverish

Share new video and single “Now Or Neverish” – YouTube // Clash

Now Or Neverish’ is a hazy pot dream vision of surf rock, like Jan & Dean getting drunk and wolfing down poutine until the horizon starts to blur.”
– Clash Music

Ottawa’s Bonnie Doon wants you to enjoy their first full-length release Dooner Nooner as much as they enjoy sharing a poutine and chocolate shake 4 ways. The sludgy surf rock tunes captured on wax for the first time were inspired by actual events, such as the struggle of making it to brunch for noon and how it feels to brave a waterslide in a bikini. The album was recorded in the basement of Shoe Horn Audio and was largely fuelled by free coffee from the local McDix.

Dooner Nooner opens with “Haunted Life”, a doom-laced bass-driven throwdown that is guaranteed to cause a serious bang-over. “Pants and a Face” and “Panty Twister” give a fast and furious nod to punk goddesses Kleenex/Liliput and X-Ray Spex while “Sandy’s Song” is a tribute to Sandra the Car (AKA the Doon Buggy) that’s dipped in Bleue Dry and deep-fried in a psychedelic haze. The beach party continues with “Now or Neverish” a wavvvy spaghetti surf groove with lyrics that only a mother could love. “Ghost Story” gets weird as it weaves a tale of murder and eulogizes haunted taverns everywhere. The album closes with two long-time fan favorites, “Messy//Clean” and “B Hole”.

Dooner Nooner will rip your face off and put it back together albeit a bit messed up but totally best enjoyed with a hot pizza and a cool breeze.

Tour Dates:
Oct 6 – Oliver’s Pub, Ottawa ON
Oct 10 – House of Targ, Ottawa ON w/ Weaves
Oct 20 – Brasserie Beaubien, Montreal QC (Record Release)

Boonie Doon – Dooner Nooner (Bruised Tongue)
Boonie Doon Links
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BonnieDoon666/
BandCamp: https://bonniedoon.bandcamp.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bonniedoon666/

Northumbria – Markland

My wife and I were staying on the eighteenth floor of a downtown Toronto hotel while on vacation, and one night I could hear dark, heavy drone rock coming from…somewhere. It seemed to be coming out of the sky like the hum of UFO engines and up from the darkest parts of the city’s sewer system at the same time.

“Do you hear that?” I asked my wife. “I think someone’s playing some drone rock over at the plaza.”

“Is that what that is?” She asked.

It was Northumbria. To be specific, it was Dorian Williamson and Jim Feld playing a guitar and bass loud enough for us to hear it one block away and eighteen stories above the street. Furthermore, it wasn’t just noise. It was ambient, haunting waves of sound that immediately changed the feel of everything around you. Their new album, Markland, is an impressive journey through shadows and starlight.

Take the opening track, “Torngat,” for instance. They somehow manage to create guitars that sound like baritone saxophones. “Sunstone” is appropriate for druidic rituals and flying through a rainy street while hunting replicants. “The Night Wolves / Black Moon” is sure to freak out your dog (as it did mine) with its creepy sonics.

Thunder hails “Ostara’s Return,” which seems like the right way to start such a heavy and creepy track. “Still Clearing” does bring to mind an early morning on a beautiful glen, but there’s a hint of menace underneath it – as if the glen is haunted by a dark tragedy. I think the sun referred to in the title of “Low Sun I” is the setting sun, because it has a creepy dread to it.

That dread is amplified to near-horror movie soundtrack levels in “The Shoes of the Suffering Wind.” It evokes images of rocky shores, ship graveyards, and glistening fish-men rising from black depths in search of prey. “Low Sun II” is the soundtrack ofa tired army marching across a swamp for dry land before the sun sets on them. The beautiful “Wonderstrands” gets me thinking about string theory, and with “The Stars As My Guide” to end the album, I suppose that thought process shouldn’t surprise me. The final track is full of cosmic guitars that eventually whittle down to a lonely hiss not unlike an open communications link between a dead astronaut and mission control.

Another amazing aspect of this album is that there is no percussion in it. It’s all guitar and bass effects (as far as I know) and it’s never boring. Markland changes your perception of everything around you whether you’re across the room or eighteen stories above the street.

Keep your mind open.

[Don’t forget to subscribe before you go.]

Clutch to release limited picture discs for vinyl collectors and fans.

CLUTCH TO RELEASE LIMITED EDITION VINYL COLLECTOR PICTURE DISCS
THE FIRST IN THE SERIES “LIVE AT THE GOOGOLPLEX” OUT TODAY  
October 6th, 2017 – Clutch and Weathermaker Music have prepared three very special Clutch limited edition vinyl collector picture discs.  The first in the series, “Live At The Googolplex” will be available tomorrow.
Recorded in 2002 in Chicago, Montreal, Kansas City, and Columbus, OH.  “Live At The Googolplex”, like all three releases in the series will be the first time these releases will be available as a picture disc vinyl.
The next two releases in the series will be “Jam Room” (scheduled for release October 27th, 2017) and “Pitchfork & Lost Needles” (scheduled for release November 24th, 2017).
Weathermaker Music is releasing 3 limited edition picture discs” states frontman Neil Fallon.  “The first will be Live at the Googolplex.  That will be followed up by Jam Room and thenPitchfork and Lost Needles.  All feature art from the original releases.  For what it’s worth, I drew Medusa’s head for the Jam Room release.  With a pen.  And paper.  This is your chance to own a bit of art history”.
All 3 in the series will be available at all major vinyl outlets and is available to pre-order now at https://www.indiemerchstore.com/b/clutch.
Clutch is set to embark on another leg of the Psychic Warfare World Tour 2017starting November 29th, 2017 and running through December 31st, 2017. All tour and ticket info can be found at:https://www.pro-rock.com.
Clutch is currently in the throes of working on new material for a 2018 release.
CLUTCH:
Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion
For more  information, check out the band’s website:

Thank you, Tom Petty.

To say that Tom Petty had a legendary career is an understatement, but that is how he should be remembered.  I was lucky enough to catch his 40th anniversary (and final) tour earlier this year at a packed St. Louis arena.  It was a solid show with many great tracks throughout it.

Petty’s songs are a part of Americana even if you didn’t grow up in the 1970’s or 1970’s.  He could play everything from garage rock to country blues, and his influence on music reaches around the globe.

Many forget his great contributions to music videos.  Petty was a known lover of music videos, and he and his band came to prominence as MTV skyrocketed in popularity and outreach.  Petty took an active role in the scripts, art, and filming of his music videos and made some of the more innovative ones of the time.

Not many of us get to do what we love for forty years, let alone receive worldwide accolades for it.  It’s okay to mourn Petty, but don’t let it ruin you.  He lived and he rocked.  Do the same.

Keep your mind open.

[Jam along by subscribing.]