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THROWBACK: Neil Young & The Band – Helpless

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R.I.P. Levon Helm

reviewed by
04-19-12

Kindness – House

kindness

reviewed by
04-19-12

RAVE’S FAVE: Hot Chip – Night and Day

By Bruce Rave

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Hot Chip whetted our appetites with the 7-minute “Flutes”, and now comes the official single “Night and Day”. It’s want you usually want in your Hot Chip: uptempo, melodic, and infinitely danceable. The album comes in June, and this band is poised to gain more and more fans. Assuming the album is strong to go along with their ace live shows, we should be dancing to these guys for the rest of the year.

Hot Chip england (Facebook)

Check out Bruce’s “Go Deep” show on Fridays 1-3 pm Pacific, 4-6 pm Eastern, 9-11pm GMT. Also listen to past shows at Bruce’s blog and follow Bruce on Twitter.

reviewed by
04-19-12

RAVE’S FAVE! Schmidt – Boom Boom

By Bruce Rave

schmidt

Schmidt is a 21 year old from Berlin who has been active in the London music scene. She was discovered by producer Guy Chambers who has worked with Kyle Minogue and Tina Turner. This track is really fun, as is her upcoming album. Imagine “Caberet” meets Feist.

Schmidt – Boom Boom

Schmidt germany (Facebook)

Check out Bruce’s “Go Deep” show on Fridays 1-3 pm Pacific, 4-6 pm Eastern, 9-11pm GMT. Also listen to past shows at Bruce’s blog and follow Bruce on Twitter.

reviewed by
04-14-12

You Walk Through Walls – Not Like You At All

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Members of UK shoegaze band Air Formation return as You Walk Through Walls. The band’s lead track “Not Like You At All” is a sharp sounding shimmery tune with enough rhythm section guts underneath it to keep the song tastefully grounded.

You Walk Through Walls england (Facebook)

Rating 8.1

brown8

reviewed by
04-11-12

Kwes – Igoyh

kwes

Check out this gorgeous new souful tune from Warp records artist Kwes. Charms to soothe the savage beast.

Kwes england (Facebook)

Rating 8.4

brown8

reviewed by
04-11-12

M. Ward – A Wasteland Companion [LP]

By Gareth O’Malley

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Matthew Stephen Ward’s been around a bit since he released his last solo album, Hold Time, in 2009. In that same year, he put out an album with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes under the Monsters of Folk banner. The following year, in addition to releasing Volume Two, the second of his albums with Zooey Deschanel, he was also involved with Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol’s most recent side-project, Tired Pony, who released The Place We Ran From. Last year, he and Deschanel put out a Christmas album, and he put the finishing touches to this, his seventh solo album, A Wasteland Companion. If the concept of a year off has ever looked completely foreign to anyone, it’s this man.

Then again, the main reason that M. Ward doesn’t do years off is probably because, on the evidence of his sixth album of any sort in four years, he doesn’t need breaks. When he does take one next, it will probably only be out of necessity. You would think he’d blown his creative load at this point, but A Wasteland Companion still finds him in fine form. It’s diverse enough to provide something for everyone. There’s some summery, playful indie-pop on the album, giving the lie to its contemplative title; it should come as no surprise to learn that “Sweetheart” is another collaboration with Deschanel, and the upbeat, piano-led “I Get Ideas” is an absolute gem, as is “Primitive Girl”, which is cut from similar cloth.

Away from material like this, however, lies the album’s real strength: it’s immediate enough to keep most people happy, yet behind its accessibility lies some real depth. Ward’s fantastic vocal delivery on “Me and My Shadow” lends the song a sense of urgency, but its biting lyrics (‘You can keep this world, this world is not my home’) hint that Ward has more on his mind than he originally hinted at. Likewise, the atmospheric “The First Time I Ran Away” is superbly complemented by the more mid-tempo title track, which immediately follows it, provides rich and elegant melodies, the sort that mark it out as one of the album’s highlights.

Ward’s had an extremely active last few years, but consistency has never really been an issue for him. He doesn’t seem to be displaying even the slightest signs of creative fatigue, and if anything, A Wasteland Companion seems to get better as it goes on and the pair of closing tracks, “Wild Goose” and “Pure Joy”, are some of the best songs he’s written in years. He deserves to be known as far more than just the ‘Him’ in She & Him, but even if that excursion has stolen his solo work’s thunder, his latest effort is intent on stealing it back, and it might just do that.

M. Ward oregon (Facebook)

Rating 8.3

brown8

reviewed by
04-11-12

Sterling Schroeder and The Chosen Ones – I Really Love You

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Rockers Sterling Schroeder and The Chosen Ones make jamming work on a pop record. From their new Three Year Weekend EP.

Sterling Schroeder florida (Facebook)

Rating 8

brown8

reviewed by
04-10-12

Airbird – Goodnight

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The Ford of Ford & Lopatin (Joel Ford) has a new LP under his Airbird moniker at the ready (due in May) and first release the gorgeous “Goodnight” delivered to you below for your listening pleasure.

Airbird northcarolina (Facebook)

Rating 8.4

brown8

reviewed by
04-10-12

Frank Ocean – Math

frankocean

We lift the b3sci Odd Future embargo just this one time for newly unearthed Frank Ocean track “Math”. The melodies/arrangements/everything on “Math” are insanely good. Try not getting this shit in your head.

Frank Ocean louisiana (Facebook)

Rating 8.3

brown8

reviewed by
04-10-12

Christian Rich – Come & Love Me (Feat. Pharrell)

christianrichcomeandloveme

Star Trak affiliates Christian Rich and Star Trak kingpin Pharrell link up on new house-influenced track “Come & Love Me). Into it.

Christian Rich nigeria (Facebook)

Rating 8.2

brown8

reviewed by
04-10-12

Keaton Henson – Dear… [LP]

By Gareth O’Malley

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I’m not sure why it is – maybe I sympathise, or even identify with it – but I find myself drawn to the kind of intimate devastation that lies at the heart of Keaton Henson’s debut. My favourite album of all time is The Antlers’s Hospice, and one of my favourite debut albums from the last three years is Learning by Perfume Genius. All three of the aforementioned records are difficult to listen to, but what sets Henson’s album apart is that, while the heart-wrenching sadness of Peter Silberman (The Antlers) and Mike Hadreas (Perfume Genius) was covered up by lo-fi production, before they moved on to other things – the follow-ups to both of those albums were markedly different – the production values of Keaton Henson’s Dear… mean that every word leaves the reclusive singer-songwriter’s lips is clearly audible.

Keaton Henson does no press, would rather that he didn’t have to play live, and was prepared to never let anyone else hear these songs, originally recorded in his bedroom. He didn’t get his way, and that’s worked out very well indeed. ‘Get distracted by my music, think of nothing else but art / I’ll write my loneliness in poems if I can just think how to start,’ he says on “Small Hands”; and in two lines, Henson has summed up the essence of his debut. It is an intensely personal record: 10 songs which consist a solitary guitar, a quavering, soft singing voice, heartbreaking honesty, and little else. Embellishments are few and far between, only ever employed – as on “Not That You’d Even Notice” – when they will exacerbate the effects of Henson’s music; otherwise, they are completely unnecessary.

Lead single “You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are” seems most reminiscent of Mike Hadreas’s work; melodically straightforward, yet focusing on guitar and instead of piano, and absolutely drenched in self-reflection: ‘Do you know your lip shakes when you’re mad? / And do you notice when you’re sad? You don’t like to be touched, let alone kissed.’ There are moments when Henson explicitly refers to himself, as he does on the upsetting “Flesh and Bone”, a song which, more than any other on Dear… is excruciating to listen to, as the singer paints a picture of a life – and a body – falling apart: ‘My body’s weak, feel my lungs giving up on me / I’m worried it might just be something my soul needs.’

I very much doubt there will be anyone out there who’s able to listen to Dear… without having some sort of emotional reaction. It’s so intense and reflective that one gets the sense that Henson is well within his rights not to play it live, or at least not tour it until he feels ready; the unsettling “Party Song”, written from the perspective of someone who’s just gone through a messy break-up but has been invited to a party by his ex, who now has a new lover, is harrowing stuff. If he doesn’t feel comfortable with singing lines like, ‘I’m afraid I’d kill your lover while your back was turned … I see pictures now, of the two of you, and it makes me sick,’ on a stage, that’s all fine. His reclusive nature, and the depths of his inner turmoil, are made easier to understand by his debut album – but he has also created a truly beautiful listening experience, and should be applauded for that. In more ways than one, Dear… is astonishingly brave.

Keaton Henson england (Facebook)

Rating 8.75

brown93

reviewed by
04-09-12