Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Music Notes: Lana Del Rey's "Born to Die" Hits the Stores & the Critics Weigh In

Lana Del Rey's full-length is out; see below for links to reviews.
Lana Del Rey's debut album "Born To Die"was released today, and finally everyone has more than just a few songs and her painful SNL performances by which to judge her. The album will have attracted plenty of detractors no matter what it sounded like, but there are some critics and journalists that are giving "Born to Die" a fair hearing.

Among those giving "Born to Die" reviews that focus on the music rather than the hysteria surrounding LDR: The New Yorker (by Sasha Frere-Jones), Spin, Pitchfork, and the L.A. Times. Many of the reviews I've seen mention how the lyrics seem to portray a woman who's submissive and/or eager to please, and preoccupied with fame and material pleasures, which is all part of the reason for the controversy surrounding Del Rey.

Another common theme is that the Del Rey persona can vary widely from song to song and seem inconsistent, as well as devoid of real emotion. "There is little wisdom in 'Born to Die,' but more than enough pleasure," Frere-Jones writes, ultimately concluding that "the character of Del Rey, authentic or not, is so inconsistent that she fades from view, into her own photo spread."And Lindsay Zoladz writes in Pitchfork, "The ultimate disappointment of "Born To Die"... is how out of touch it feels not just with the world around it, but with the simple business of human emotion."

All of the reviews I've seen mention the lyrics, but Rob Harvilla's Spin review singles out of number of them as "Objectively Ridiculous Lyrics on this Album," including "Everything I want I have / Money, notoriety, and rivieras," which Del Rey uses in the bio section of her Twitter profile.

In a blog post entitled "The Last Thing I've Ever Write About Lana Del Rey," ex-Titus Andronicus member and feminist Amy Klein examines the former Lizzy Grant's music and persona in terms of the vision of women that society wants. "The problem is that when it comes to women, we seem to want a character and not the truth, " Klein writes. "We want Lana Del Rey, not Lizzy Grant."

Like most people in the world, I haven't yet heard "Born to Die," although retailers are making it a low-risk proposition. In the U.S., iTunes is selling the album download for $7.99, and Amazon.com is selling the "Born To Die" download for $5.99and the CD for $7.99(for today only, it seems). [NOTE: Prices are still in effect as of the night of Feb. 2nd]. "Born To Die" is on Spotify, if you have an account there.

Now that the full-length album is out, Lana Del Rey will no doubt continue to stir controversy. It will be interesting to see if she can now develop a confident stage performance that will captivate concertgoers more than "Born To Die"has the critics.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from Sharon Van Etten, Paul McCartney, K'Naan, Heartless Bastards, & More

Paul McCartney's new album, "Kisses on the Bottom," is one of the notable new releases streaming online this week, but the album I'm most interested is "Tramp," the latest from Sharon Van Etten (which I've written about before).

Sharon Van Etten's "Tramp" is streaming online this week; hear a live set she performed at WNYC below.

Granted, I pre-ordered "Tramp" and have had the digital version of the album for a couple of weeks, although it doesn't formally come out until February 7th. It's a solid progression from her breakthrough album, "Epic," and was produced by Aaron Dessner of The National, with whom Van Etten has worked with and toured.

(You can listen above to a live performance she did at WNYC a couple of weeks ago, or download the audio here.)

Paul McCartney's new album will no doubt be the most-streamed release this week. I can't say I've really been a fan of McCartney's work in recent years, and cute titles like "Kisses on the Bottom" and "Memory Almost Full" haven't gotten me enthusiastic about him. But I'll probably check this new album out anyway.

Other notable releases streaming online this week: the new album from Heartless Bastards, the follow-up to "The Mountain" ...  an EP from Somali-Canadian rapper K'Naan (best known for the rousing anthem "Wavin' Flag,") ... the new album by Kami Thompson, daughter of British folk legends Richard and Linda Thompson ... and a collection of unreleased recordings by the late folk singer Karen Dalton, who counted Bob Dylan among her many fans.

And if you missed Leonard Cohen's new album on NPR Music or KCRW last week, it's streaming on AOL Music this week.

KCRW Album Preview:  (also streaming at NPR First Listen)
"Kisses on the Bottom" by Paul McCartney
"Tramp" by Sharon Van Etten
"Arrow" by Heartless Bastards

Spinner.com's Listening Party:
"More Beautiful Than Silence" (EP) by K'Naan
"Knew You Were Waiting: The Best of Aretha Franklin" by Aretha Franklin
"Out of Frequency" by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
"Nature Experiments" by The Big Sleep
"1966" by Karen Dalton
"Love Lies" by Kami Thompson
"sami.the.great." by sami.the.great.

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Old Ideas" by Leonard Cohen
"Idiot Heart" by Carsie Blanton
"Golden Gate Groove: The Sound of Philadelphia Live 1973" by Various Artists
"Putumayo - Brazilian Beat" by Various Artists

Friday, January 27, 2012

Concert Notes: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Death Cab Going on Sale

See below for links to tickets to Springsteen and other NYC-area concerts.
Springsteen's New York area shows aren't the only high-demand concerts going on sale this weekend. (See my post with links to tickets for the NYC-region Springsteen shows.) Here are some other gigs on sale today and tomorrow that should sell pretty briskly:
And there are some interesting upcoming shows now on sale that, while not as popular as Springsteen or the others, are in small venues and will be well worth attending for fans of this blog:
By the way, congrats if you got tickets to see The Boss: I got shut out of the Prudential Center and MSG shows. The wait times on Ticketmaster were unlike anything I had ever seen. No doubt scalpers were out in force to snap up the tickets. No doubt Springsteen and band will add more shows, maybe at MetLife Stadium or other outdoor venues in the late summer after they wrap up their European tour in late July.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from Leonard Cohen, Ingrid Michaelson, Matt Pryor, & More

This is another good week for album previews, with new releases from Ingrid Michaelson, Leonard Cohen, Martin Sexton, and even rock and roll legend Dion, among others.

Ingrid Michaelson's "Human Again" is one of the albums streaming free this week.

There are also new streaming albums from some artists who I've just recently heard of, including the Belgian musician who goes by the name Gotye and Canadian band The Darcys (whose new EP "AJA" is, as you'd guess, a set of Steely Dan covers). And there are albums from musicians that are totally new to me, such as Ana Tijoux and Adam Arcuragi.

Of Adam Arcuragi NPR Music wrote, "This isn't groundbreaking music: You can hear Bruce Springsteen here, 16 Horsepower there, and some dark, gospel-infused folk along the way. But it's all so full of soul, so unadorned; it's a sound that always feels as if it's reaching toward the sky."

And some albums from last week's post are now streaming at other sites (listed below). Enjoy!

Spinner.com's Listening Party:
"Tank Full of Blues" by Dion
"AJA" by The Darcys
"Fall Like Rain" by Martin Sexton
"May Day" by Matt Pryor (formerly of The Get Up Kids)
"Plastic Moon" by Madi Diaz
"The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy" by Nada Surf
"Something" by Chairlift
"Clear Heart Full Eyes" by Craig Finn
"The Lion's Roar" by First Aid Kit
 Also at Spinner: new albums by Leila, Cardinal, Lazerbeak, and Mark Stoermer.

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Human Again" by Ingrid Michaelson
"Emotional Traffic" by Tim McGraw
"Sinners Never Sleep" by You Me at Six
"Listen to This" by Anchored

KCRW Album Preview:  (all streaming until Jan. 31, and also at NPR Music)
"Old Ideas" by Leonard Cohen
"Making Mirrors" by Gotye
"La Bala" by Ana Tijoux

NPR First Listen:
"Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It…" by Adam Arcuragi

Bruce Springsteen Announces Spring 2012 U.S. Tour Dates

Bruce Springsteen today announced a slate of U.S. tour dates starting in March (see below). These dates all precede the late Spring/Summer European tour that Springsteen put out last week.

Of special interest to those in the NYC area, Springsteen and the E Street Band will play two shows in NYC (Madison Square Garden, April 6th and 9th) and three in NJ (two at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, April 3rd and 4th, and one at the Prudential Center in Newark, May 2nd). Tickets for all of the NYC and NY shows go on sale this Friday, Jan. 27th.

Springsteen's website doesn't say what time tickets go on sale, but it's typically 10 a.m. or noon. I'll post the time if I can find it. UPDATE: Izod Center tickets go on sale 10 a.m.; Prudential Center at 11 a.m.; and MSG at 12 Noon.
"Wrecking Ball,"the 17th studio album by Bruce Springsteen, goes on sale March 6th.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Upcoming Shows at Maxwell's: Thurston Moore, Bombay Bicycle Club, Cate Le Bon, Craig Finn, & More

Maxwell's in Hoboken has a great lineup of concerts planned in the coming weeks, and below are some of the highlights. I'm mentioning shows going a little far out, through the end of March, since the club has a small capacity and some of the more popular performers will sell out weeks in advance. (The March 2nd Cults show sold out at least a couple of weeks ago.)

Thurston Moore performing "Circulation" from his most recent solo album, "Demolished Thoughts."

As you'll notice, opening acts and set times are not available for some of the shows. Check the Maxwell's website for more details (you should probably check it anyway, to make sure the schedule hasn't changed). You can buy Maxwell's tickets online at Ticketfly, or at Tunes CDs in Hoboken or Other Music in NYC.

As usual for Maxwell's, the upcoming gigs reflect an eclectic mix of types and genres of rock. And generations as well. There are acclaimed new artists such as Welsh singer Cate Le Bon and British band Bombay Bicycle Club, and veteran acts including Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore (performing solo) and singer-songwriters Marshall Crenshaw and Garland Jeffreys. The Hold Steady's Craig Finn is also stepping out on his own, supporting his new solo album.

And there's the return of some blasts from the past: the Feelies side project Yung Wu, the Scud Mountain Boys, The Lemonheads (performing their album "It's A Shame About Ray"), and the Psychedelic Furs.
  • Thurs. 1/26: Teddy Geiger/Jack Skuller, 8:30 p.m., $15 
  • Fri. 1/27: The Gories/Boom Chick, 9:30 p.m., $20
  • Thurs. 2/2: Jenny Owen Youngs/special guest, 8 p.m., $10 adv./$12 d.o.s.
  • Fri. 2/3: Thurston Moore/Rhyton, 9 p.m., $20 SOLD OUT
  • Sat. 2/4: Marshall Crenshaw/Garland Jeffreys, 9 p.m., $20
  • Thurs. 2/9: Jeff the Brotherhood/t.b.a., 9 p.m., $10
  • Fri. 2/10: Cate Le Bon/special guest, 7:30 p.m., $10 adv./$12 d.o.s.
  • Fri. 2/10: "Pretty Good Friends" featuring Eugene Mirman, Kurt Braunohler, and more, 9:30 p.m., $13 adv./$15 d.o.s.
  • Sat. 2/11: Dum Dum Girls/Widowspeak, 9:30 p.m., $15
  • Fri. 2/17: Scud Mountain Boys/John Cunningham, 9 p.m., $15
  • Sat. 2/18: Young Wu/East of Venus/Thousand Pittes, 7 p.m., $10
  • Sat. 2/18: Mates of State/special guests, 10 p.m., $15
  • Thurs. 3/1: Craig Finn, $15 SOLD OUT
  • Sat. 3/3: Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby (7 p.m.), $10 adv./$12 d.o.s.
  • Thurs. 3/8: Bombay Bicycle Club, $20
  • Mon. 3/12: The Lemonheads performing "It's A Shame About Ray," $20 adv./$22 d.o.s.
  • Tues. 3/13: The Lemonheads performing "It's A Shame About Ray," $20 adv./$22 d.o.s.
  • Wed. 3/14: John K. Samson (of The Weakerthans) and The Provincial Band, $13 adv./$15 d.o.s.
  • Sat. 3/24: The Psychedelic Furs, $40
  • Sun. 3/25: The Psychedelic Furs, $40
  • Wed. 3/28 Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg, $20

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Bruce Springsteen Album Details; Single "We Take Care of Our Own" Out Now

Bruce Springsteen is back, and he's back with a vengeance. You can buy his new single "We Take Care of Our Own" now (it went on sale at 12 Midnight on Jan. 19th). The song is available for sale on Amazon.com and iTunes here in the U.S. It's also on sale in the U.K. (and possibly other places as well). [UPDATE, 1/19 11 a.m.: Springsteen has posted a video version of "We Take Care of Our Own" at his website... complete with lyrics (uh, for doing sing-alongs?).]

(For a first impression of "We Take Care of Our Own," see the comments of NYC music writer and Backstreets contributor Caryn Rose on her Tumblr, Jukebox Graduate.)

The new Bruce Springteeen album, to be called "Wrecking Ball," will be released on March 6th in the U.S. A batch of European tour dates have been announced for the spring and summer for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (U.S. tour dates and more European gigs will be announced later [see U.S. tour dates below]). If the album's name sounds familiar, it's the name of a song Springsteen wrote to commemorate his run of shows at New Jersey's Giants Stadium (he was the last performer to play there before it was demolished).

[UPDATE: See initial series of Bruce Springsteen U.S. tour dates here.]

Rolling Stone quotes Springsteen's manager, Jon Landau, as saying that "Wrecking Ball" is a "big-picture piece of work" that has, as one source who's heard it described, "unexpected textures–loops, electronic percussion... influences and rhythms from hip-hop to Irish folk rhythms." Landau says the album touches on issues of politics and social justice, and RS quotes him has saying that Springsteen feels it is "the angriest album he's ever made."

"Wrecking Ball" was produced by Ron Aniello. Here is the track listing:
  1. We Take Care of Our Own
  2. Easy Money
  3. Shackled and Drawn
  4. Jack of All Trades
  5. Death to My Hometown
  6. This Depression
  7. Wrecking Ball
  8. You've Got It
  9. Rocky Ground
  10. Land of Hope and Dreams
  11. We Are Alive
The Springsteen European tour begins May 13th in Seville, Spain and includes stops in Barcelona, Lisbon, Frankfurt, Berlin, London, and Oslo, among other places before wrapping up in late July. (See all the current Bruce Springsteen tour dates here.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from Nada Surf, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Craig Finn, & More

This week there's finally a meaty selection of new albums for you to preview online. The releases include Craig Finn of the Hold Steady stepping out for a solo album, Nada Surf with the latest effort in its 20-year-long career, the second album from the duo Chairlift, and a lot more.

There are new albums from First Aid Kit, Ani DiFranco, and singer-songwriter Jessie Baylin, and a change of pace for the flamenco guitar-meets-hard rock duo of Rodrigo y Gabriela. On "Area 52"the  pair revisit nine of their previously recorded songs, but with an orchestra from Cuba filling out the sound. (See the album trailer below.)

To add another twist to the album, "Area 52"is produced by Peter Asher—yes, the one who produced many of Linda Ronstadt's 1970s albums and before that was half of the 1960s recording duo Peter and Gordon.

One of the album trailers for Rodrigo y Gabriela's "Area 52."

Some albums I mentioned in last week's post are now streaming at other sites (shown below), including the releases by Cate Le Bon and Kathleen Edwards.

As usual, most of the albums are streaming for a week unless otherwise indicated (KCRW seems to be the only streaming site these days that actually gives dates).

KCRW Album Preview:  (all streaming until Jan. 24)
"The Lion’s Roar" by First Aid Kit (also streaming at NPR Music below)
"Area 52" by Rodrigo y Gabriela (also streaming at NPR Music)
"The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy" by Nada Surf (also streaming at NPR Music)
"Something" by Chairlift

NPR First Listen:
"Clear Heart Full Eyes" by Craig Finn
"Emotional Traffic" by Tim McGraw

Spinner.com's Listening Party:
"Which Side Are You On?" by Ani DiFranco
"Beautiful Things" by Anthony Green
"We Don't Know Any Better" by Black Taxi
"Little Spark" by Jessie Baylin
"CYRK" by Cate Le Bon
"Voyageur" by Kathleen Edwards

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"All Our Heroes Drank Here" by Hannah vs. the Many
"Buena Vodka Social Club" by Leningrad Cowboys
"Strange Ways of Going Home" by Sep7ember

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lana Del Rey Played SNL (VIDEO); Controversy Rages On

The meteoric rise of Lana Del Rey continued when she performed as the musical guest on "Saturday Night Live" last night, and like everything else involving this young singer, there was much controversy before and after the fact. (See her SNL performances below.)

I like Lana Del Rey's voice and songs (all three or four that I've heard), but found her performance on SNL tough to watch (especially "Video Games"). She has limited touring experience, and clearly didn't seem ready for such a big stage. She did seem more relaxed and expressive on her second number, "Blue Jeans." Watch the videos and see what you think.

For those not familiar with Del Rey (real name: Elizabeth Grant), she came out of nowhere last year to become a sensation (and a lightning rod for criticism) upon the release of her song "Video Games." The 25 year old has a voice that is sometimes sultry and sometimes vulnerable, and the tune itself is catchy.

Del Rey's good looks (and willingness to show them off in sexy clothes and poses) no doubt contributed to her rising popularity... and to the inevitable critical backlash. According to Wikipedia, Del Rey/Grant's father is a millionaire investor who has used his money and marketing skills to promote his daughter's career.

The fact that a performer with such limited experience got the plum SNL gig just stirs the controversy even more. (Her first full-length album as Lana Del Rey doesn't even come out until the end of this month; she apparently had an album under the name Lizzy Grant a couple of years back.) (You can pre-order the forthcoming album, "Born to Die,"here.)

Some music critics see her as an intriguing new voice (such as the hosts of NPR's All Songs Considered, where I first heard the song). Others are not impressed with her voice or style, and see her as a manufactured pop princess. As often happens, there are plenty of new Lana Del Rey fans, and haters, who are just jumping on the bandwagon.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

NYC Concerts On Sale: Bjork Residency; Fountains of Wayne; Megafaun; & More

 Friday the 13th is a lucky day for New York City music fans, with tickets for some in-demand shows going on sale. Here are some details on Björk, Fountains of Wayne, and other acts.

Icelandic singer Björk is doing a series of multimedia shows in conjunction with her new album "Biophilia," which was released as a mobile app as well as an album. Because of the special demands involved in staging the presentation, "Biophilia Live" will be held in a most unusual concert venue, the New York Hall of Science (four shows), as well as at Roseland Ballroom (six shows).

Björk brings her "Biophilia Live" show to New York for 10 shows.
The shows take place from Feb. 3rd to March 2nd. Tickets for all of Björk's New York shows will go on sale here at 10 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 13th. Besides some novel instrumentation in the shows, the residency will include a number of educational events in conjunction with The Creators Project.

Fountains of Wayne return to New York for one show at Irving Plaza on Saturday, April 21st. Get tickets here starting at 10 a.m. Friday.

Megafaun plays the Highline Ballroom on Saturday, March 17th. No, they're not Irish, but they're an exciting new-ish band, and they should be great live. Megafaun tickets go on sale Friday at Noon.

Sinead O'Connor plays two shows next month, on Feb. 23rd and again the 24th. Whatever you think of her personal eccentricities, O'Connor has a beautiful voice that is gorgeous to hear in person (at least is was years ago, when I last saw her. Tickets go on sale Friday at Noon.

If you're in a retro mode, the reformed Van Halen featuring David Lee Roth is returning to New York for two shows at Madison Square Garden, Feb. 28th and March 1st. Kool and the Gang opens for Van Halen, and tickets go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m.

And if you're in the mood for dancing, DJ David Guetta performs at Roseland on Thursday, Feb. 9th. Tickets go on sale Friday at 12 Noon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Coachella Announces 2012 Lineup; Expands to Two Weekends

Coachella fans, your wait is over: the lineup was announced last night for the festival's 2012 edition. For the first time ever, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival will be held over two consecutive weekends, April 12th to the 15th and April 20th to the 22th. What's more, the lineups are exactly the same for each weekend (all bands playing on the first Friday are playing on the second Friday. etc.).

You'll see the full lineup in the poster below, and some of it in this post below the poster. (Since the poster photo here is small, see the Coachella site and click on the poster graphic at the lower left corner to see a larger version.) Check out the Coachella 2012 lineup in alphabetical order, with social media links for performers, on the festival's lineup page.

Coachella 2012 has a strong lineup each day.

Headliners for Coachella 2012 will be the Black Keys on Friday, Radiohead on Saturday, and Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg on Sunday. And the rest of the lineup is quite strong, too. Here's a brief look at some of the acts performing:

Friday: The Black Keys, Swedish House Mafia, Pulp, Refused, Arctic Monkeys, Mazzy Star, Afrojack, Explosions in the Sky, M83, Amon Tobin, Cat Power, Jimmy Cliff, Girls, and The Horrors.

Saturday: Radiohead, Bon Iver, the Shins, David Guetta, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Kaskade, Miike Snow, Jeff Mangum, Sebatian Ingrosso, Andrew Bird, Feist, Firehose, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, St. Vincent, SDTRKT, Kasabian, and Buzzcocks.

Sunday: Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, At the Drive-In, Justice, Florence and the Machine, AVICII, La Roux, Beirut, The Weeknd, Girl Talk, the Hives, DJ Shadow, Wild Flag, and Calvin Harris.

And those are just the acts listed on the top three of the six or seven lines on the Coachella poster. Other highly popular performers include groups that have headlines arena shows or have had well-reviewed albums that showed up on many "best-of" lists in 2011.

This includes Texas psychedelic rockers the Black Angels, the quirky Tune-Yards, British pop-folk singer Laura Marling, and the all-female Mexican garage-rock group Le Butcherettes, whose album "Sin Sin Sin" was named best of the year by Jim DeRogatis of the "Sound Opinions" music podcast.

It's not unusual for defunct bands to herald their return at big festivals, such as Rage Against the Machine did at Coachella a few years back. This year the much-admired post-hardcore band At the Drive-In, which split up more than a decade ago, announced its return with a new Twitter account (@AtTheDriveIn_).

Coachella is held at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio, California. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. Pacific time.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Free Album Streaming: New Music from Kathleen Edwards, Cate Le Bon, Howler, Laura Gibson, & More

New CDs from singer-songwriters Kathleen Edwards, Cate Le Bon, and Laura Gibson are most notable of the relatively small crop of albums available for streaming this week. Edwards burst on the scene a few years back with her song "Six O'Clock News," and the Canadian has gotten some solid critical and commercial success with her debut album "Failer" and subsequent efforts. You can hear her latest album "Voyageur" (produced by Edwards and Bon Iver's Justin Vernon) at NPR Music below.

"Change the Sheets" by Kathleen Edwards from "Voyageur," streaming free at NPR Music. 

Welsh singer Cate Le Bon has a new album, "CYRK," coming out on next week, which coincides nicely with her first headlining tour beginning early in February (she plays at the Mercury Lounge on Feb. 9th and at Maxwell’s in Hoboken the next night.) You can hear"CYRK" at the at the Paste Magazine preview below.

The Minneapolis band Howler has been racking up critical acclaim despite its youth (in the age of its members, and in its existence as a group). On the heels of EP earlier this year, it's out with a full-length, "America Give Up," that's full of short, catchy power pop tunes.

Singer-songwriter Laura Gibson hails from the Portland, Oregon area and has appeared with other well-regarded performers from that area, including Colin Meloy of The Decemberists and Laura Veirs. Her latest album, "La Grande," is also streaming at NPR Music, and the title song is today's free song download from Minnesota Public Radio's The Current (download the song "La Grande" here).

There's a modest number of other albums for free preview, most from artists I haven't heard of, but I'll check out some of them. Based on a quick first listen I enjoyed the self-titled album from Grand & Noble and "Normal" by Run Dan Run.

NPR First Listen:
"Voyageur" by Kathleen Edwards
"La Grande" by Laura Gibson
"America Give Up" by Howler

Paste Magazine Album Stream:
"CYRK" by Cate Le Bon

Spinner.com's Listening Party:
"Dark Matters" by Expensive Looks
"Normal" by Run Dan Run
"Grand & Noble" by Grand & Noble
"Passenger" by Kalyn Rock

AOL Music Listening Party:
"From the Vanishing Point" by Red Wanting Blue
"Peace of Mind" by Rebelution
"Garden Window" by O'Brother

Friday, January 06, 2012

Sharon Van Etten Plays "Serpents" on Jimmy Fallon (Video); Starts Presale for New Album

The up-and-coming Sharon Van Etten has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention recently, the biggest being her debut network TV appearance last night playing "Serpents" on Jimmy Fallon (video below). She also opened for The National on one night of their multi-night stand at the Beacon Theatre.

And today Van Etten announced on Twitter that her new album "Tramp"(which contains "Serpents"), is now available for pre-order online (the album drops on Feb. 7th). You can buy it on CD, vinyl, or a deluxe bundle, and each version includes a poster of SVE and a code that lets you download the full album on MP3 on Jan. 17th. (See photo of the deluxe bundle below.)

The album was produced in the garage studio of Aaron Dessner of The National (who also played with Van Etten on the Jimmy Fallon appearance above).

I ordered the CD version today, and can't wait until I can download the album on the 17th. I'm impressed with what I've heard from her previous albums, especially her most recent release "Epic," and am interested to see how her new collection sounds.

Van Etten will be playing two shows in New York City next month, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Feb. 24th and at Bowery Ballroom the next night. Tickets are on sale now for both.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Tickets for Allman Brothers Band Beacon Shows Go on Sale Fri. A.M.

Tickets for the Allman Brothers Band's annual run of spring shows at New York's Beacon Theatre go on sale tomorrow morning, Jan. 6th. The band announced the show dates on Dec. 31st.

The Allman Brothers Band at the Beacon last year. From left: Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks, Derek Trucks.

Ten shows have been announced: March 9th, 10th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 20th, 21st, 24th, and 25th. You can get Allman Brothers Beacon Theatre tickets here starting at 10 a.m. You'll notice that there are ample open dates; the band usually adds additional shows as tickets for the original dates get sold.

And the tickets will sell quickly, with many fans buying tickets for multiple shows. So if you want to get the best seats, I'd suggest having the Allman Brothers page on Ticketmaster loaded in your browser at 9:59 a.m.

The band usually has a special guest or two on stage with them for part of the show each night. And with this year marking the 40th anniversary of the group's landmark "Eat a Peach" album, I'm guessing they might have more guests or surprises than usual.

Video Roundup: Guided by Voices, WU LYF on Letterman; Ted Leo & Sharon Van Etten Cover the Soft Boys

Guided by Voices on Letterman? Sharon Van Etten covering "I Wanna to Destroy You" with Ted Leo? Yep, they both happened in the last week. In case you missed them, here are a few videos from recent performances.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists played at Maxwell's on New Year's Eve, and Van Etten opened (I'm still kicking myself for not getting tickets before they sold out). At one point they joined forces for a lively version of the old Soft Boys tune, "I Wanna to Destroy You." The video is below, and at the end of it you'll find choices for other videos from the New Year's Eve at Maxwell's by these two Jersey natives. [Note: Sharon Van Etten will be the musical guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon tonight, Thursday, Jan. 5th]

With its reunion album out, Guided by Voices appeared on Letterman and played that disc's "The Unsinkable Fats Domino." One interesting unplanned moment occurred when bass player Greg Demos slipped and fell straight on his rear end about 36 seconds into the song (you can hear his bass emit a strange noise as he fell). Demos got up and continued the song, playing with a big smile on his face. No damage done, it seems.

The British band WU LYF was the musical guest on Letterman January 4th. The guys from Manchester have gotten a lot of attention and acclaim for their new album, "Go Tell Fire To The Mountain,"which was rated best album of the year by fellow blogger Ben at I Have 19 Voices.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Best (or Favorite) Music of 2011: A Roundup of the Critics' Picks

What was the best music to come out in 2011? Such lists are all over the Internet and print media this time of year, so I thought I'd present a look at some of the opinions from some major music critics and journalists, as well as music fans who I follow. (Note: I've never really done a list of top 10 or so best or favorite songs/albums/artists of the year, because it's always been too hard to narrow them down to such a small number, and to quantify what makes one album or band with a certain sound "better" than another with a different sound or approach.)

PJ Harvey's "The Last Living Rose," from "Let England Shake."

Here are links to some opinions of the best (or favorite) music of 2011, many of which include streaming songs from the artists:
Besides hearing songs from many of the artists at some of the links above, the hosts of Sound Opinion have put up their annual mixtape podcast, which features some of their favorite new songs from 2011. The podcast has excerpts of the songs, but you can stream full versions from the shownotes page.

As usual, I love poring over these year-end lists not because I care about the scorekeeping of who made it onto the most lists, but because they're valuable for discovering new albums and artists that I may have overlooked.

OK, those are the opinions of some music critics, fans, and bloggers. What are your favorites?