Tunng – “Don’t Look Down or Back” [Free MP3]

Tunng“Don’t Look Down or Back”

The UK-based folktronica collective, Tunng, is about to release their fourth album, …And Then We Saw Land,  in early April.  They’re sharing this track, “Don’t Look Down or Back”, as a free download now. Enjoy.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre Say: “Let’s Go Fucking Mental” [MP3]

The Brian Jonestown Massacre - “Let’s Go Fucking Mental”

BJM have cleared a track for free download from their forthcoming tenth album, Who Killed Sgt. Pepper, due out February 23rd.  Tour dates have also been announced. “Let’s Go Fucking Mental!”

BJM tour dates:
5/28: Cabooze, Minneapolis
5/29: Turner Hall, Milwaukee
5/30: Metro, Chicago
5/31: Grog Shop, Cleveland
6/02: Phoenix Concert Hall, Toronto
6/03: La Tulipe, Montreal
6/04: Paradise Rock Club, Boston
6/06: Webster Hall, New York
6/08: TLA, Philadelphia
6/09: 9:30 Club, DC
6/10: Mad Hatter, Cincinnati
6/11: Off Broadway, St Louis
6/13: Bluebird Theater, Denver
6/14: Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City
6/15: Knitting Factory, Boise
6/17: Crystal Ballroom, Portland
6/18: Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver
6/19: Neumos. Seattle
6/21: Fillmore, San Francisco
6/22: Henry Fonda Theater, Los Angeles

Everything Will Be Alright. Be Cool.

Golden Ages - Everything Will Be Alright”

“Be Cool

Philadelphia-based Golden Ages seems to have the making for success.  His ethereal, experimental soundscapes evoke references to the icons of his genre – Deerhunter, Panda Bear and Animal Collective. Both “Be Cool” and “Everything Will Be Alright” are two singles coming from his full length called Tradition, releasing this Spring. Rarely do I like to plagiarize a musician’s artist statement or press release, but this one was too good not to.

“Everything Will Be Alright” is about those tough times in life when you feel like you have no control over anything but you have to realize that things will work out, and even if they don’t, things will look up in time. “Be Cool” is about taking it easy, not being frustrated or impatient, and just enjoying life instead of worrying about the little things. The record’s describes that phase in life where you find yourself maturing both mentally and emotionally. “It’s about the transition from the aimlessness of youth into the difficult task of determining your own place in the world. The way growing up changes your relationships with those who are close to you, for better or for worse, and the need to leave in search of something better.”

Radiohead Benefit for Haiti – Concert Review, Set List, Video

Standing on the floor of LA’s Music Box Theater last night waiting for the Radiohead Benefit for Haiti to begin, it was hard not to muse over the crowd – a mix of the star-studded Hollywood elite and die-hard fans.  On my immediate right was 007 himself, Daniel Craig.  In front of me, some dude from The Practice (sorry, not up on my TV).  And to my left was a lone 18-year-old kid in a fur earflap hat trying to borrow one of our mobile phones so he could text his friends he made it in.  Hmm, I thought.  If you don’t even own a cell phone how could you possibly even afford the $475 minimum ticket price for tonight’s show.  Turns out he traded a scalper his MacBook Pro for a ticket.

Clearly, this wasn’t your average Sunday night.  Nor was this your average concert. This was Radiohead, one of the biggest and influential bands of our time, getting ready to play a one-off gig at a venue the size of San Francisco’s Bimbos 365 Club. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and everyone knew it.

At 8:30 Thom Yorke and company took the stage and set the intention for the evening: “It’s going to be a sing along tonight.” And indeed it was.  They gently eased us into an epic evening of music with  “Faust Arp” followed by “Fake Plastic Trees” and “Arpeggi/Weird Fishes”. Then all hell broke loose when they launched into “National Anthem”/ “Nude”/ “Karma Police”. If you weren’t sing along or yelping with glee, you were finding God, speaking in tongues and uttering phrases like “Jesus Christ… Oh my God…Oh my FUCKING God!!!”

Yes, it was a religious experience.  The best moment? Pick one.  Pick any.  Like when Yorke serenaded us on the piano with “Everything In It’s Right Place,” or the novelty of the band asking the audience to choose the next song: “Just” or “Airbag”. (The latter won.) Or the sneak preview of their new song, “Lotus Flower.” It was all insane.  But for me, I lost my mind at “Bodysnatchers”.

In the end, and most importantly, the band raised over $570,000 for Haiti. We all helped to support the cause.  And we all walked away with an experience we won’t soon forget.

Set List
Faust Arp
Fake Plastic Trees
National Anthem
Karma Police
Kid A
Morning Bell
How to Disappear Completely
Wolf at the Door
The Bends
Dollars and Cents
Exit Music (for a Film)

First Encore
Everything in It’s Right Place
You & Whose Army?
Pyramid Song
All I Need

Second Encore
Lotus Flower (new song)
Paranoid Android
Street Spirit

Music Industry Forecast: Cloudy

The music industry is in upheaval. Just look at the revenue projections – continued decline. The old model doesn’t work and, in desperation, the industry has tried many new models on for size: a la carte downloads, subscription services, ad-supported streaming. With the exception of iTunes, no one has had runaway success with any of these approaches.  So what’s next for the music industry?  Look to the clouds.

This week, TechCrunch, posted an insightful entry from digital music veteran Michael Robertson on Apple’s secret cloud strategy with iTunes and why their recent acquisition of LaLa is so critical. Like many, I assumed the acquisition was to further the development of the long anticipated subscription-based music service – like Rhapsody, Spotify, etc. Turns out this speculation is far from reality and there is no subscription-based service coming down the pike from Apple. The secret sauce to the Lala acquisition is actually it’s personal music storage service, which provides software to store a personal music library online and then play it from any web browser alongside web songs they vend.

The expectation is that Apple will unveil a mobile iTunes sometime in 2010 that will leverage Lala’s technology to copy users’ personal music libraries to the net (or cloud), making it available from any browser or net connected ipod/touch/tablet/computer. Once loaded, users will be able to navigate and play their music, videos and playlists from their personal URL using a browser based iTunes experience. Pretty cool, huh? The cloud-centric model is not lost on others in the space.  The acquisition of Lala will just help Apple get there first – again.

Album of the Week: Broken Bells

Broken Bells - “The High Road”

Danger Mouse strikes again.  This time with The Shins’ James Mercer in the self-titled debut, Broken Bells. Do I really need to say any more? Okay, the two met at a Danish music festival way back in 2004 and began secretly working on the album late 2008. The pair released “The High Road”as the debut single late December to promote the album that’s due out March 9. But the full album leaked that same month anyway. Are these things really accidental?  Hmmm, I wonder. Regardless, it’s fantastic and I love it.  Experimental and melodic, chalk it up to another Danger Mouse masterpiece. He truly is the man with the Midas touch.

For The Record: Imaad Wasif

Imaad Wasif - “The Priestess”

Sticking with the dark, moody rock theme this week, meet my latest obsession – Imaad Wasif.  No stranger to the indie music scene, the Canadian born, Indian singer-songwriter and guitarist has been in numerous bands including lowercase, The New Folk Implosion and alaska!, but is probably best known as the touring guitarist for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. His latest solo LP, The Voidist, has me completely entranced and intrigued. I had the good fortune to catch up with him to learn more about the album and the inspiration behind it.  Truly amazing…enjoy!

Be sure to catch Imaad tomorrow, January 19, at Bottom of the Hill and/or February 27 at The Independent for the NoisePop Festival.

The OCMD: I’m really enjoying your new album, ‘The Voidist’. What’s the inspiration behind it? What does that title mean to you?

The more uncommon the highest truths are, the more inhuman must they be and the less they speak to you as something valuable and meaningful concerning human essence and being. The voidist does not speak against me but for me, and proves how universally human I am and how much I too not only need redemption but also deserve it.

The OCMD: Your music evokes a lot of musical references for me – from the freaky sexiness of a Devendra Banhart, to the tender lyricism of a Jeff Buckley and the monstrous guitar riffs of a Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page. Am I missing any musical influences here?

Karen Dalton, Nico, Marianne Faithfull, Moe Tucker, Lulu Jackson, Brigitte Fontaine, Patti Smith, Elizabeth Cotton, Geeshie Wylie, Nina Simone, Yoko Ono, Mariska Veres

The OCMD:  With references to sorcery, rapture, karma, celestial beings, worship and sacrifice the album definitely comes across as very spiritual and mystical. With whom or what or who were you grappling with when you wrote these songs?

My spirit reflected on everything rare and uncommon, it pried its way into unfound possibilities, towards paths that lead into the hidden, towards lights that shine in the night. And as my spirit did this, everything ordinary in me suffered harm without my noticing it, and it began to hanker after life, since I did not live it. I was smitten by the romantic. The romantic is a step backward. To reach the way one must sometimes also take a step backward. Mine is a spirit of torment. It tears asunder my contemplation, and it would dismantle everything and rip it apart. I am still a victim of my thinking. I should rise above my thoughts to my own self.  My journey goes there, and that is why it leads away from people and events into solitude. Is it solitude to be with oneself? Solitude is true only when the self is a desert. Should I make a garden out of the desert?

The OCMD: In the song “Priestess”, I love the verse “Learn how to accept how far we are from perfect/Slowly undress The Priestess.” What is The Priestess a metaphor for?

The oracular woman. If you take a piece of joy from the devil you accept your pleasure. But pleasure immediately attracts everything you desire, and then you must decide on whether your pleasure spoils or enhances you. If you are from the devil, you will grope in blind desire after the manifold, and it will lead you astray. But if you remain with yourself, as a man who is himself and not of the devil, then you will remember your humanity. You will not behave toward women per se as a man, but as a human being, that is to say, as if you were the same sex as her. By giving in to your apish appetite, you infect others, because the ape stimulates the apish. So you turn yourself and others into apes.

The OCMD: What comes first for you, the lyrics or the melody?

Neither, the mystery.

The OCMD: I could be wrong here, but your album leaves me with a feeling of reverence (and maybe a little fear) toward women.  Do we intimidate you?

Man should not seek the feminine in woman, but seek and recognize it in himself, as he possesses it from the beginning. One can hardly say of the soul what sex it is.

The OCMD: I have a serious girl crush on Karen O. You’ve toured with her in the past as the guitarist for the YYYs and most recently worked with her on the “Where The Wild Things Are” soundtrack. Is she as cool in real life as she is in my head?


For the Record: Petter Ericson Stakee of Alberta Cross

Alberta Cross - “Leave Us and Forgive Us”

Those who know me know how deep my obsession runs for the Brooklyn, by way of London, based band called Alberta Cross. A band I feel like I’ve been waiting for all my life.  They hooked me with their EP, The Thief and The Heartbreaker, in 2007. Left me waiting (what felt like) an eternity for their debut LP, The Broken Side of Time, that released last fall, and even longer for their tour to hit the West Coast.

Thankfully, the wait ends tonight at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill. And I know, just like their debut album, it will be well worth the wait.  I had a chance to catch up with lead singer, Petter Ericson Stakee, before the show to talk to him about the album, the tour, and what took him so long.

The OCMD: How’s the tour going so far? I’ve been waiting so long for you to come to California. Is this your first official West Coast tour?

Petter: It’s going great.  We just played the Troubador last night in LA and sold out which was great. And yeah, I’ve been waiting a long time to get out here too.  I love it out here. We’ve been out this way before for some gigs and a few festivals – like Coachella and the Download Festival.  But this is our first official West Coast tour.

The OCMD: You grew up in Sweden and London –both of which have distinct musical influences– yet your sound has such a retro Americana/ blues-rock vibe.  How did that come to be?

Petter: I grew up listening to loads of different music.  I do think we have a bit of that blues/Americana thing but we also have a lot of English influences in us too.  Growing up there, we listened to a lot of bands like My Bloody Valentine and The Verve so there’s definitely a mix of influences for us.

The OCMD: You now live in New York.  What inspired the relocation?

Petter: I’m living in Brooklyn now and it’s great – a really inspiring place to live with a lot of energy and amazing bands. We had a hard time the last year or two and when we went to New York for a festival, we met so many amazing bands and were so inspired that we decided to make the move. It’s been good for us but there’s so many places in America we still want to see. We really loved Austin, Chicago and the whole West Coast is really amazing.

The OCMD: I’ve read that Alberta Cross is actually an anagram. Is that true? Can you tell us what it means?

Petter: It is true.  But I’m not going to tell you what it means.

The OCMD: Is there a prize if we figure it out?

Petter: [laughs] Sure, as long as it’s not too much money.

The OCMD: If Alberta Cross is an anagram, is the song “ATX” an acronym? What does it stand for?

Petter: Yeah, it stands for Austin, TX.  The album was recorded down in Austin.  We thought it would be a good idea to get out of New York and the City and record in some place new.  And we really loved it there. It’s a beautiful place, full of great people and great music. So we really just wanted to name something after it.

The OCMD: Speaking of Austin, will you be there again this year?

Petter: I think we probably are but we have quite a busy tour schedule so we’ll have to see if we can work it out. I hope we go, definitely. I’d love to go.

The OCMD: Broken Side of Time is one of my favorite albums of 2009, though it seems more dark and brooding than The Thief & The Heartbreaker EP. What was happening for you when you wrote it?

Petter: I think the album got that vibe because of the stuff we were going through at that time. We were in London and in kind of a dark place.  We left our label and were feeling lost and broke. Then we moved to New York. It was really exciting but we were still kind of in the same situation for a while.  And when we moved here Bush was still the president. So it was a crazy time and that definitely inspired the vibe of the album.  We’ll see where the next album takes us.

The OCMD: What are the plans for the next album?

Petter: We’re writing stuff all the time and we’re recording stuff that we might release pretty soon.

The OCMD: Alberta Cross + Hacienda = one kick ass live rock show. Are you excited to tour with them? I saw them support Dan Auerbach last year where they pulled out a cover of The Animals “Inside Looking Out” that literally melted my brain.

Petter: Yes, we’re doing the whole tour with Hacienca. We saw them when they were touring with Dan Auerbach and met them down in Austin. They’re an amazing band and good friends of ours now.

The OCMD: Speaking of covers, I have a real soft spot for them and loved the cover of John Lennon’s “Steel and Glass” you did. Are you planning to play more? Can I make a request for one tonight?

Petter: Ohhhh, we’ll see. That’s kinda soon. We are definitely planning to play some more cover songs, but we don’t have that many right now. We’re working on a couple. Covers are fun.  It’s always fun to play other people’s songs. But “Steel and Glass”, yeah, we might play that one.

The OCMD: Okay, I’ll hold you to it!

The Joy Formidable – “Austere”

The Joy Formidable“Austere”

The best part of the year end ‘Best Of’ hullaballoo is discovering new music you may have missed, like The Joy Formidable. Thanks to Dany and his ‘Best Of’ contribution to The OCMD, I now have this North Wales trio on heavy rotation. “Austere” is off their 8 track called A Balloon Called Moaning.  Speaking of moaning, their video for the track, featuring les facettes de la petite mort, was recently banned on YouTube.  But don’t fear, you can watch the banned version on their website here.