Music News

Whenever Dan Bejar’s band Destroyer releases a new album I feel like a giddy little kid at Christmas. Sadly, their new record, “Ken” won’t be out until October 20th, but they have put out a couple of singles that I’ll be playing non-stop until then. The beginning of the single “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood” could easily be the opening riff of a new New Order song which isn’t too surprising given Bejar’s published penchant for the post-punk pop group. Even the cascading drum fills that close the song remind me of the tribal drumming of New Order drummer, Stephen Morris. Check out the video and let me know what you think. On a more somber note, Sky’s Grey catches Bejar in a mellower downbeat mood….more here?

In a so-obvious-why-didn’t-I-think-of-this pairing comes news that David Byrne and Annie Clark (St. Vincent) have collaborated on a new album, Love This Giant. They’ve shared a pre-release track called, Who that sounds quite good, bringing together many of each artist’s strengths with a backing band comprised primarily of brass instruments. The idea came about because of the constrictions of doing a benefit at Housing Works a venue that the two wanted to perform at together.

According to Byrne, “Annie suggested we use a brass band rather than the typical rock ensemble—which would brilliantly solve the sound problems inherent in performing in a small joint like Housing Works. A brass band wouldn’t need mixing and could be heard acoustically in a room that size. They’d balance themselves. Easy. We’d only need vocal mics”

The collabroation which was written and recorded over a long period because of each other’s tour and project schedules. “It was an education that involved figuring out the variety of sounds and approaches one could come up with using more or less the same group makeup on every song—we could go funky or majestic with the exact same band,” writes Byrne. “A lot of people, hearing a description of this project, assumed that it might be an artsy indulgence, but somehow it didn’t turn out that way. It’s a pop record—well, in my book anyway. I started to sense that we were ending up with a sound and approach I’d never heard before. There were elements that were reminiscent of things I’d heard, but a lot of it was completely new. Very exciting!”

The album will be released on September 11th and coincides with a North American tour. The pair hits Portland with a full brass section on October 18th at the Schnitz. They’ll be playing tracks from Love This Giant and songs from each other’s back catalogs as well. You can download the track here.

There’s a lot of new music preview streaming out there on the interwebs right now, and many of them are sounding quite nice. There’s going to be some great releases this month! But, before we get into the list o’ links, here’s a cool new video from Portland’s Nurses, filmed and edited by the band:

I’ve said this before, but the NPR Music site (National Public Radio–the one the Republican’s want to destroy) is awesome. There’s so much great new music streaming that it could easily be your primary source for music news. And new stuff is constantly being added. What’s there right now?

The new Wilco album, The Whole Love. I’ve only listened once, but the Wilco gang are getting experimental again and it sounded great.

Next up? Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is finally back with fourth album, Hysterical and it’s a nice return to form capturing the energy and spirit of their acclaimed first album with a more nuanced sense of control and song craft. Check it out!

There’s so much more to listen to at the NPR site (like Harold Budd, Neon Indian, the Tiny Desk Concert Series, and the streaming radio show from Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton) but let’s finish here with the new LP from St. Vincent – Strange Mercy. It’s everything you’d expect from Annie Clark – edgy and intense music, beautiful vocals, and haunting imagery all blended together to make great songs, and a great new album.

Want to stream entire new albums by Wild Flag, Eleanor Friedberger, The Music Tapes, or The Ladybug Transistor? Well, lucky for you they are all on super-cool label, Merge Records founded by members of super-cool band Superchunk.

Happy Streaming! – SLP

The official schedule for MusicFest NW has been published and I’m a kind of bummed as many of the bands I was looking forward to seeing are playing at the same time! One of the main conflicts for me is Friday Night’s Midnight slot with the Horrors playing at Dante’s and Olivia Tremor Control playing at Someday Lounge. Take a look at the schedule, and let us know what shows you’re looking forward to, and which shows you’re going to have to flip a coin to decide which one you will see. Meanwhile, here’s the new Horrors single, “Still Life” for those who like their early 80’s sounds on the gloomy side.

Lot of new music is availble for streaming at the moment, and it’s a nice way to check out some new sounds. Providing you don’t mind the typically low-rez sound quality – do yourself a favor and buy the record if you like what you hear!

First up, GLOSS DROP by BATTLES is streaming now at AOL Music. Frenetic and fun, proggish “math rock” minus the insane, but enjoyable chipmunks on acid vocals by Tyondai Braxton (who has left the band for solo projects) from the last record. And, yes that is Gary Numan on track six!

Deerhunter as a live band can be an incredible experience or maybe merely interesting, but never a waste of time. Go see them when they come to your local musicatorium. For now, you can stream a LIVE DEERHUNTER SHOW at Rhapsody. I actually like the show they recorded at the New York Apple Store, iTunes Live from Soho, a little better and for only $3.99 (x 8 tracks), it’s a great deal.

The NPR Music site is an incredible source for new streaming music. Right now you can find Modest Mouse, the Thermals and more live from Sasquatch, the new self-titled Bon Iver album, Death Cab for Cutie’s Codes and Keys and much, much more (like Badly Drawn Boy live in studio on KCRW)! Just bookmark their site already.

Want more? Sorry, I’m out of time but we’ll share more streaming music as we find it!

We live in a world where, thanks to ever-evolving technology, things we need and want come to us faster and easier all the time. News, information, and (yes) digital music all come at us through the internet with no waiting. Twitter is spitting out information even faster than blogs and news sites. So, when the new Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks album was announced on the Matador Records’ Matablog with a release date in late August, someone posted this question:

If the album is in the can, why not just sell it now? I’d BUY it now. I suppose everyone would just steal it in the end either way. But why the wait? Just for the retro aspect of how things used to be?

Patrick from Matador was nice enough to explain…

A few reasons –

1. This is an incredibly competitive market. More releases come out now in a given week than used to come out in a month. It takes time to build up the word & anticipation for a record. A proper marketing campaign will get the maximum possible sales & chart position for a new album on release date, which in turn drives the media to pay attention and drives further sales.

2. Long-lead print press still exists, and their deadlines for features in August is NOW. They won’t run features about a new release 3 months after a record comes out – by then, there will be a whole new batch of records competing for their attention. And they need to spend time music to confirm features, and then spend time writing them.

3. Physical retail, including chains, still exists. Our distributor’s deadline for getting into their August 23 book, driven in turn by their big customers like Best Buy and Target, is NOW. And of course it takes time to manufacture records… you see a cover image above, but we don’t have the full packaging in for the CD and vinyl. The final EQ’d master is in today, and then it needs to get made into a glass master for CD and cut for lacquers for vinyl, which in turn will need test pressings, for approval. Once the records and the print are made, they need to be assembled, shipped to distributors, who in turn ship to stores – and for chains this means depots who ship out to branches, or drop-shipping to individual accounts – all to arrive on a certain date before release date.

Even for digital stores, there’s a time-consuming process which includes metadata for royalty tracking, audio polishing and checking, lots of uploads and downloads and tests.

Then there’s booking advertising, planning the marketing campaign, designing banners, and all the rest.

It’s a delicate balancing act setting up a record properly for release. 3 months is about the minimum lead time possible from delivery to street date.

Lots of people fortunately do still spend money on music!

Here are some sneak peaks of new songs by your favorite Pop artists from the many portals and outposts of the interwebs. Check these out now (before they’re taken down).

TV On the Radio – “Will Do” the first Single from new album is streaming at Rolling Stone. Meanwhile, over at SPIN you can download an actual MP3 of another new song, “Caffeinated Consciousness.”

UNKLE featuring Nick Cave – “Money and Run” from forthcoming UNKLE ep. For maximum enjoyment, play very LOUD.

The Decemberists – “Cuyahoga” an REM cover performed live on KCRW.

Yuck – “The Wall” is streaming at Pitchfork. Haven’t bought the hype yet? Give a listen…

Kurt Vile – “Ghost Town” is also streaming on Pitchfork. Galaxy 500 meets New Order? You decide.

Menomena – “TAOS” video can be seen at the Portland Mercury End Hits blog. Directed by local Alicia Rose.

J Mascis – “Several Shades of Why” is the new album from Dinosaur Jr. guitarist. You can stream the entire album here courtesy of SubPop.

The Dodos – “No Color” the new album from S.F. duo can be heard in its entirety along with other new records (like 90s sound-a-likes The Joy Formidable) at NPR. Defund this, muther-frakker!

The Kills – “DNA” can be downloaded for the low, low cost of your email address. New video “Satellite” a throbbing noir-ish ballad is playing at the same link.

Fuse, Fuse Music TV, or Fusic TV as I like to call it, has a quick 4+ minute overview of the Portland music scene. Yes, they only talk to some of the bigger names in town like The Thermals, Menomena, and Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, but it’s not as cringe-worthy as the first episode of Portlandia. Are you an indie band in need of a town? C’mon down (or up) … I guess we can make room for one or two more.

As the host says, “Welcome to Portland Oregon, where people come to enjoy the great outdoors and the sound of nature. SCREW THAT, LET’S ROCK!” Thanks to Portland Mercury’s Blogtown for the heads-up.