Friday, February 25, 2011

Last Call for $5 MP3 Albums for Feb.: Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs," The Black Keys, The Smiths, Sara Bareilles, & Much More

Arcade Fire's Grammy-winning "The Suburbs" is on sale for  $5 on MP3 download for the rest of February.

It's coming down to the final days of's $5 MP3 albums for February, so I thought I'd post a reminder of some of the notable releases on the list. One is a new, and newly honored, album: Arcade Fire's Grammy-winning "The Suburbs."

Also on the list of $5 MP3 albums for the rest of February:

* Alt-rock, indie-rock, and Americana albums including the Avett Brothers live, "Thickfreakness" by The Black Keys, "Little Voice" by Sara Bareilles, "Once" movie soundtrack, "Begin To Hope" by Regina Spektor, "Revival" by Gillian Welch, "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" by Sarah McLachlan,

* "The Queen is Dead" by The Smiths, "13 Songs" by Fugazi, Buffalo Springfield's self-titled album, "69 Love Songs Volume 2" by The Magnetic Fields, Erasure's self-titled album, "Crimes Of Passion" by Pat Benatar, and "Shake It Up" by The Cars

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from Lucinda Williams, Devotchka, The Low Anthem, & More

Billy Preston's first solo album, getting its first release in over 45 years, is one of the albums available for free preview.  

New Lucinda Williams and rare Johnny Cash and Billy Preston are among the interesting new releases you can preview for free this week. There are many more albums than those listed here, especially on the AOL Music and Spinner sites.

KCRW Album Preview: 
"Blessed" by Lucinda Williams* (streaming until March 1)
"Smart Flesh" by The Low Anthem* (streaming until Feb. 27)
"100 Lovers" by Devotchka* (streaming until Feb. 27)

* Also streaming on NPR (below)

NPR First Listen:
"Anna Calvi" by London singer-songwriter Anna Calvi (streaming until March 1)
"Fading Parade" by Papercuts (which NPR calls "warmly psychedelic") (streaming until March 1)'s Listening Party:
"From Memphis to Hollywood - Bootleg Vol. 2" by Johnny Cash (A compilation with "demos, unreleased songs and rare singles from the '50s to the late '60s.")
"Rachel Goodrich" by Rachel Goodrich

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Fixin' to Die" by G. Love
"The Color" by Yellowbirds (AOL says, "This is the debut album from the Brooklyn, N.Y. psychedelic sextet fronted by Apollo Sunshine's Sam Cohen.")
"16 Year Old Soul" by Billy Preston (Debut album by the late, legendary keyboardist who played with The Beatles and Eric Clapton, and had a long solo career. This album was released Feb. 22nd, marking the first time in 45 years that it has been available. See Billboard article on Billy Preston's "16 year Old Soul" here)

Also on AOL Music: reissues of albums by The Ronettes, The Crystals, and Darlene Love, as well as a Phil Spector retrospective.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Music Notes: Adele on Letterman Tonight; The Cars Record New Album; Music Exec. Rails Against Grammys

* A day ahead of the U.S. release of her new album "21," Adele is performing on the Letterman show tonight, Feb. 21st. She performed a live webcast tonight for the show, which I didn't know about until it had already happened. You might be able to find the Adele live webcast archived here. (See the video for "Rolling in the Deep," the first single from "21," above.)

* New Wave rockers The Cars have recorded a new album. Rolling Stone says that "Move Like This," the band's first album in 24 years, will be released on May 10th. The album features all the original surviving members of The Cars—Ric Ocasek, drummer David Robinson, guitarist Elliot Easton, and keyboardist Greg Hawkes. Original bassist Benjamin Orr (who sang two of their top hits, "Just What I Needed" and "Drive") died in 2000. No word on whether they'll play any concerts, though Ocasek says in the article that it "might be fun to do a couple of shows."

* A longtime record exec is cranky over some of the Grammy Awards given out last week. Steve Stoute, who seems to be especially known for his experience in hip-hop, took out a full-page ad in the New York Times Sunday to slam the ceremony as an “awards show [that] has become a series of hypocrisies and contradictions.” He was miffed that artists like Eminen and Kanye West didn't win more, citing their longtime influence, and also complained that teen pop star Justin Bieber didn't win. "How is it that Justin Bieber, an artist that defines what it means to be a modern artist, did not win Best New Artist?"

Stoute's argument seems to be that sales and popularity should win out over artistic merit. Isn't that the opposite of what the Grammys are supposed to be about? (OK, we know they don't live up to that ideal all that often, but still, his complaint seems pretty off base.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Titus Andronicus Makes a NJ Road Trip to Shoot a Video Sunday - and You're Invited


Titus Andronicus announced yesterday that it's shooting its latest video in several places in New Jersey on Sunday, Feb. 20th—and it's inviting fans to come out and be part of the fun.

The Garden State band, which often mentions NJ in its songs, will be appearing at three different locations Sunday for the Tom Scharpling-directed video to its song, "No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future." Among Scharpling's previous videos are "Moves" by the New Pornographes and "Bottled in Cork" by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.

From the band's statement on XL Recordings:
"The concept of the video is quite simply a one-day tour of the great state of New Jersey, a place that Titus Andronicus is often wont to sing about, and somewhere much beloved by Tom Scharpling to boot. We will run around the state in our van, hop out to rock out, and then on to the next. Get it? Our fondest dream is that when we get to our various locations, you will be there, chomping at the bit to jump up and down in some approximation of punk-ish enthusiasm. Chances are, once we get there and see that you are really nice, we'll probably play a couple other songs for real, just because we live to entertain you. Is that okay? Will you be there?"

Below are the shoot times. You can RSVP if you're coming at the video shoot's Facebook page.
11 a.m.
11 Pinewood Drive
Little Egg Harbor, NJ

3 p.m.
Asbury Park Boardwalk Casino
1150 Boardwalk
Asbury Park, NJ

8:30 p.m.
Roof Of The Iron Monkey
97 Greene Street
Jersey City, NJ

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Radiohead Makes Its New Album, "The King of Limbs," Available for Pre-Order

Radiohead has made its latest album, titled "The King Of Limbs," available for pre-order. If you were hoping this would be another pay-what-you-wish arrangement unlike "In Rainbows," well, you're out of luck.

The band is at first making the album available only as a digital download and as part of a "newspaper album" package. This includes a CD, digital, and vinyl versions of the album (two clear 10-inch vinyls disks); a special record sleeve to hold the vinyl; and "many large sheets of newspaper artwork, 625 tiny pieces of artwork, and a full-colour piece of oxo-degradable plastic to hold everything together," according to the official "The King of Limbs" website.

Buying just the digital download without all the fancy packaging costs $9 U.S. for MP3 and $14 for WAV. Customers who pre-order "The King Of Limbs" will be able to download the digital versions on Saturday, Feb. 19th.

Buying "The King Of Limbs" through this pre-order "newspaper album" will cost either $48 or $53 for U.S. customers, depending on whether you go for the MP3 or WAV format.

But if you'd like a physical product but don't want to shell out the extra bucks for the photos, vinyl, etc., don't worry: "The King of Limbs" will be on sale in regular CD and 12-inch vinyl on March 28th "in all good record stores" (however one defines that). And, I would assume that the digital versions will be for sale on iTunes and's MP3 store.

As much as I like Radiohead, I'll opt for the plain old CD or digital download, rather than going for the "newspaper album."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2011 Grammys: Beyond Gaga's Egg & Cee Lo's Chicken Suit - the Awards You Didn't See on TV

Muse (shown here at Newark's Prudential Center last October) won the Best Rock Album Grammy for "Resistance."

Here at Podcast Party, we're more interested in the pre-telecast awards given out at the Grammys than the glitzy, televised show (which only hands out about a dozen awards in three-and-a-half hours). Fortunately, the magic of the Internet means that you can now watch the nearly one-hundred pre-telecast awards being handed out in the live webcast (which may be archived for later viewing).

I didn't manage to see the entire pre-telecast Grammy show, but here are what I found to be some of the more notable awards that would be of interest to the readers of this blog (see the complete list of 2011 Grammy winners and nominees for more details):

* Best Pop Instrumental Performance - "Nessun Dorma" by Jeff Beck (beating out Laurie Anderson, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Stanley Clarke, and Gorillaz)

* Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance - "Helter Skelter" (live) by Paul McCartney (winning over songs by Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Robert Plant, and Neil Young)

* Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals - "Tighten Up" by The Black Keys (winning over Arcade Fire, Jeff Beck and Joss Stone, Kings Of Leon, and Muse

* Best Rock Instrumental Performance - "Hammerhead" by Jeff Beck (other nominees: The Black Keys, Los Lobos, Dweezil Zappa, and Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds

* Best Rock Song - "Angry World" by Neil Young (winning over songs by Mumford and Sons, Kings of Leon, Muse, and The Black Keys)

* (televised) Best Rock Album - "Resistance" by Muse (over albums by Jeff Beck, Pearl Jam, Neil Young, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

* Best Alternative Music Album - "Brothers" by The Black Keys (other nominees: Arcade Fire, Band of Horses, Broken Bells, and Vampire Weekend)

* Best Americana Album - "You Are Not Alone" by Mavis Staples (over albums by Rosanne Cash, Los Lobos, Willie Nelson, and Robert Plant)

* Best Contemporary Folk Album - "God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise" by Ray LaMontagne and The Pariah Dogs (over albums by Jackson Browne and David Lindley, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Guy Clark, and Richard Thompson)

Best Hard Rock Performance - "Fang" by Them Crooked Vultures (over Alice in Chains, Ozzy Osbourne, Soundgarden, and Stone Temple Pilots)

Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals - "Imagine" by Herbie Hancock, Pink, India.Arie, Seal, Konono No 1, Jeff Beck & Oumou Sangare. This was a surprise, considering who Hancock & Co. were up against: Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg; B.o.B, Eminem, and Hayley Williams; Elton John and Leon Russell; and Lady Gaga & Beyoncé. It's not the first time Hancock has pulled a Grammy upset; his collaborative interpretation of Joni Mitchell tunes won Album of the Year a couple of years back.

And on a final note, the soundtrack from Green Day's Broadway show "American Idiot" won Best Musical Show Album over cast albums from "Promises, Promises," "Fela!," "A Little Night Music," and "Sondheim On Sondheim."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2011 Grammys: Arcade Fire Wins Album of Year for "The Suburbs"

Above: Arcade Fire performs "Ready to Start" at Madison Square Garden last December.

The celebration of music and spectacle know as the 2011 Grammys had a little bit of everything, from bizarre costumes (see: Lady Gaga egg; Cee Lo Green chicken/peacock outfit) to heartfelt performances. You'll find the full list of 2010 Grammy winners and nominees here, including the nearly 100 awards that weren't televised.

The evening's top prize, Album of the Year, went to the Canadian indie-rock band Arcade Fire for "The Suburbs."Although a favorite of both critics and music fans, the band's third album had lost out in the two other Grammys it had been nominated for this year, and for the Album of the Year it was facing a number of popular Grammy-winning favorites: Eminem, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and country band Lady Antebellum (a multiple winner on the night).

Arcade Fire had just performed "Month of May"and was waiting under the stage for the announcement, and was quite surprised when "The Suburbs"was named for the top prize. And then it went on to play a second song from the album, "Ready to Start,"to finish the show. (That had nothing to do with them winning; it had been agreed to beforehand that the band would play a second tune to wrap up the show, no matter who won the night's final award.)

As usual for the Grammys, youth and current trends were served, with nominations and wins for—and performances by—acts like Justin Bieber, Katy Perry,  Enimem, and the ever-bizarre Lady Gaga. But the performances also featured a nod to the older generation influencers: Bob Dylan performed "Maggie's Farm" with two younger, Americana bands, Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers.

Lady Antebellum's “Need You Now”won Record of the Year and Song of the Year, while jazz singer and upright bass player Esperanza Spalding won the new artist, beating out the megastars Justin Bieber and Drake and indie acts Florence and the Machine and Mumford and Sons.

One artist who made an impression Sunday night was singer/songwriter/producer Skylar Grey, who co-wrote Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie"(and received a Song of the Year nomination for it) and performed on Eminem and Dr. Dre's rendition of "I Need a Doctor"on the Grammy telecast. Skylar Grey, whose real name is Holly Brook Hafermann, is a Wisconsin native who has one solo album out under the name Holly Brook.

She has a website,, that only has a few photos and the message "Coming Soon," but she's active on Twitter (@SkylarGrey), where her follower count has gone from 6,000 to over 10,000 in the last few days. There's also an unofficial fan site,, which has news, videos, and tweets, among other information.

More on the 2011 Grammys in the next day or so...

Friday, February 11, 2011

2011 Grammy Weekend is On Now - Watch Pre-Telecast Awards & More Live Online

The official 2011 Grammys telecast isn't until Sunday night, but the weekend full of events started Friday night. The MusiCares Person of the Year award was presented then, and the festivities continue on Saturday and Sunday and you can watch live online at You can also watch live online at You can also follow Grammy news before, during, and after the ceremonies (including photos) at the official Grammy Twitter page,

The pre-telecast awards, which includes the handing out of Grammys in 98 categories, starts at 4 p.m. Eastern and runs for more than two hours. Bobby McFerrin and Esperanza Spalding will host the pre-telecast awards, which will have performances by nominees ranging from Buddy Guy to Cyndi Lauper, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Mavis Staples. (See the Grammy press release for details on hosts, performers, and more.)

The 2011 Grammys Awards telecast will be shown only on CBS TV at 8 p.m. Eastern. It not be shown online, though the Academy will have something called "Dual Screen Experience" (which I'm guess means you'll see backstage and other live content online in addition to what's shown on TV.)

Here's the Grammys online schedule (all times are Eastern):

12:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. - Grammy Moments
5:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. - Special Merit Awards
10:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m. - Pre-Grammy Gala

12:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Grammy Moments
3:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. - Red Carpet
4:00 p.m. - 6:15 p.m. - Pre-Telecast Ceremony
6:15 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - Red Carpet
8:00 p.m - 11:30 p.m - Dual Screen Experience
11:30 p.m - 1:00 a.m. - Grammy Celebration

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from PJ Harvey, Adele, Nicole Atkins, Foo Fighters (Sort of), & More

Above: Foo Fighters performing "Rope," from their forthcoming album. You can preview live versions of what's said to be all the songs on the new album at the link at the bottom of this post.

Some much-anticipated new albums are up for free streaming, including Adele's follow-up to her acclaimed "19," the latest twist in the ever-changing musical journey of PJ Harvey, the sophomore album from New Jersey native Nicole Atkins, and the new work from Bright Eyes. And you can preview the new Foo Fighters album (sort of: a blog has put together videos of live versions of what it says are every song on the band's new album).

See the respective websites for a full listing of album previews being offered. The date that streaming ends is given, when known.

KCRW Album Preview: 
"Let England Shake" by PJ Harvey (streaming until March 8; release date: Feb. 15)
"21" by Adele (streaming until March 8; release date: Feb. 22)
"Bella" by Teddy Thompson (streaming until March 1; album out now)

NPR First Listen:
"The People's Key" by Bright Eyes (streaming until Feb. 15, its release date)'s Listening Party has albums including:
"Mondo Amore" by Nicole Atkins"Tao of the Dead" by ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead
"The Long Surrender" by Over the Rhine
... and three albums by legendary Nigerian singer, songwriter, and activist Fela Kuti

AOL Music Listening Party has album previews including: 
"Now That's What I Call Music! #37" by Various Artists
"Now That's What I Call Music! Modern Songbook" by Various Artists
"The Sing-Off: The Best of Season 2" by Various Artists
"The Music Inside - A Collaboration Dedicated to Waylon Jennings, Vol. I" by Various Artists

Music blog Consequence of Sound has put together videos of what it believes to be all the songs on the new, so-far-untitled Foo Fighters album, which comes out in April, in the order they'll appear. These videos were made at different times and places by different people, so the quality may vary widely.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Sasquatch Lineup & Schedule Announced - Wilco, Modest Mouse, Foo Fighters, Death from Above 1979, Death Cab for Cutie, More

The Sasquatch Festival in Washington State has announced its lineup for 2011—and the proceedings will go on for four days this year. Foo Fighters had already been announced, but now then entire schedule is out (which bands are on which days, anyway; no set times appear on the website).

(Speaking of the Foo Fighters, they have a clever website,, to promote their upcoming album: it recreates the look of an old-fashioned analog radio tuner with controls you can use to "tune in" different "stations" with song samples and at least one interview clip.)

Sasquatch 2011 will take place on Memorial Day weekend, from May 27th to 30th, at the Gorge Ampitheater in George, Washington, near the Columbia River.

Highlights include:
Friday, May 27th: Foo Fighters, Death from Above 1979, Against Me!, Rival Schools, Smith Westerns
Saturday, May 28th: Death Cab for Cutie, Bright Eyes, Iron & Wine, Robyn, Wolf Parade
Sunday, May 29th: Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips, Flogging Molly, Cold War Kids, Ratatat, Yeasayer, Beach House, Tokyo Police Club, Sam Roberts Band, Basia Bulat
Monday, May 30th: Wilco, The Decemberists, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Old 97's, MSTRKRFT, Chromeo, Guided by Voices, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Deerhunter, Best Coast

See the full Sasquatch lineup here. Four-day all-inclusive Sasquatch tickets are on sale now; single-day tickets go on sale Feb. 14th. You can hear songs from various Sasquatch artists on the website. For the latest updates, see the Sasquatch Twitter feed.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Free Music Downloads & Streaming: Live Sets by The Wailin' Jennys, Adele, & More

It's no secret that I like female singer-songwriters and female-fronted bands, so I was happy to find live sets by a number of artists I admire. The downside is that only a couple run more than a half hour.

* The Wailin' Jennys - one-hour concert at McDougall United Church in Edmonton, Alberta, from CBC Radio 2 (listen online or download podcast). (The Wailin' Jennys have a new album, "Bright Morning Stars," coming out on Feb. 8th)

* Adele - the young British singer performs for Philadelphia's World Cafe, 31-minute set (listen online)

* Stars (featuring singer Amy Millan) - 10-minute live set in NPR offices, Washington (watch above, listen online, or download podcast)

* Joan Osborne - live set at WNYC's studios, New York - (listen online or download podcast). Osborne talked about her career and performed a few songs from her latest work, the song cycle "Love and Hate," which she played for the "American Songbook" series at Lincoln Center's Allen Room on Feb. 4th.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Muffs Celebrate 20 Years Together

Sad Tomorrow

The Muffs | Myspace Music Videos

L.A. rock trio The Muffs last week celebrated the 20th anniversary of their first show together with—what else?—a couple of concerts. They came east to play two gigs last weekend, in Brooklyn and then at Maxwell's in Hoboken (which, sadly, I was unable to attend). On Feb. 5th they'll continue the anniversary celebration with a hometown show at The Satellite in L.A.

The Muffs have been making fun indie pop for two decades, and for most of that time that band has consisted of its current lineup of singer and guitarist Kim Shattuck, bassist Ronnie Barnett, and drummer Roy McDonald. They've put out a handful of albums over the years, but you may know them best for their version of "Kids in America," from the movie "Clueless." I've see The Muffs twice at Maxwell's in Hoboken, once when a CD of the show was being sold immediately after it was over, so I fortunately have a memento of that gig.

The Muffs last month re-released their album "Kaboodle," which according to the band's website includes part of their "Hamburger" album and also features singles, demos, B-sides, cover songs, and more, as well as some new tracks. You can order "Kaboodle" from The Muffs website here.

After all these years The Muffs still have bring their fun, goofy attitude to rock & roll, I'm glad to see they're still at (though I wish they'd play more live shows). Happy anniversary, and here's to many more.