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.
Fruit Bats new album, The Ruminant Band, is due out 8/4 on Sub Pop. After a four year hiatus, I’m looking forward to the upcoming album from Eric D. Johnson. Not that he hasn’t been busy in that time, playing with The Shins and Vetiver. But after a trying out his new material and band to a very eager audience earlier this year in San Francisco, it looks like his ruminations have finally crystallized into a full fledged album!
Check out the footage of them performing ‘The Ruminant Band’ on KEXP recently.
In probably one of the more ingenious marketing launches of an album, the mysterious and elusive details of Dark Night of the Soul – the collaboration between Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and David Lynch (yes, that’s right) – are now available. You can actually stream the album now on NPR Music.
It all started with mysterious posters all around Austin during SXSW this March. I saw them and was intrigued. I love pretty much everything Danger Mouse touches. Then information started to emerge. Dark Night of the Soul is an album of songs written by Danger Mouse and Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse and features a myriad of other artists including James Mercer of The Shins, The Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Frank Black of the Pixies, Iggy Pop, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt, David Lynch, and Scott Spillane of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Gerbils.
The album was supposed to be released in July with a book of photographs by David Lynch. But due to ongoing disputes with label EMI, the album will not see an official digial or physical release. (Oy…labels.) So the band will be releasing the album as a blank CD-R with a note to fans to download it from an illegal filesharing network. For now you can enjoy a free stream of the album on NPR Music. Check it out now, while it lasts. You can pre-order the CD (albeit blank) with book of 100 original photos from David Lynch on the bands website now.
The New Pornographers melody maker, A.C. (Carl) Newman has released his second solo album, Get Guilty, on Matador Records and it’s one of the many great albums released in the past few weeks that has consistently bubbled to the top of my playlist day after day. The songs are beautifully produced, orchestral and lush without being overdone. And his powerful pop lyrics are so catchy and charming you could almost liken him a modern day Elton John. This is the kind of stuff that will get stuck in your head all day long.
But don’t let the ‘pop’ reference mislead you here, there is no shortage of craft and genius on this album. Just as with The New Pornographers, the parts of this production are as impressive as the sum. With the aid of drummers Jon Wurster (Superchunk, Mountain Goats) and Charles Burst along with Nicole Atkins and Mates of State’s Kori Gardner lending some vocals, songs like “There Are Maybe Ten or Twelve” and “The Heartbreak Rides” are transformed into pure magic.
A.C. Newman plays The Independent in San Francisco February 28.
Artist: Chad VanGaalen
Album: Soft Airplane
File Under: Indie Rock
Recommended if You Like: Neil Young, Beck
Featured Track: Willow Tree
I once heard Chad VanGaalen described as the schizophrenic son of Neil Young. And that completely made sense to me. The comparisons to Neil Young are obvious artistically and personally. Both are famously recluse and seem to favor the self-sufficiency of being a one-man band with a penchant for delicate, wavering vocals and a homemade aesthetic.
It’s here that the similarities end, however. As Chad is a much darker character. His lyrics are renown for being morbid and macabre. He seems fascinated by his own death, as the lyrics on ‘Willow Tree’ attest: “You can take my body / put it in a boat / light it on fire / send it out to sea.” Or the notion of his neighbor eating his dog in his own basement on ‘Cries of the Dead’.
I know, it sounds ridiculously depressing, but you really don’t need to have a morbid fascination to appreciate this album. There’s a stark beauty in the basement-recorded ‘Soft Airplane’ (as well as a nice cover of The Shins ‘City of Electric Light’). And while it’s true that the basement can be a dark and scary place at times, it can also be filled with wonder and surprise.