In the beginning, Iron & Wine was a one man outfit. Sam Beam made intimate folk albums with nothing but an acoustic guitar, whispery vocals, and a prodigious beard. He stirred hearts with his gentle songs about love, god, and family, all softly tinged with a southern sensibility. Then long before indie folk went the way of top 40, Beam changed his sound entirely. With the 2007 release The Shepherd’s Dog, Iron & Wine went electric, shifting to a full band with a robust and fanciful sound. Beam surprised fans again in 2011 when he expanded Iron & Wine even more to include a full brass section. The album, Kiss Each Other Clean, was far funkier than folky.
I think I know what Lana Del Rey is all about now. She had a heavy dose of hype heading into her Born to Die record (wrote about it here), had difficulty holding her own on Saturday Night Live. Then she flooded 2012 with the aforementioned album and two EPs. She has also been churning out some of the most consistently cinematic music videos I have ever seen from a single artist. Truth is, every time I click to watch one of her videos I have to brace myself for melodramatic production akin to Guns N Roses’ overwrought “November Rain.” Is Del Rey more about the music or the image?
For four decades, Richard Thompson has been crafting and performing his unique brand of literate, heartfelt music. Beginning with the groundbreaking folk rock blend of Fairport Convention in the late 60’s, Thompson as long been acknowledged as one of popular music’s greatest guitarists and songwriters, and as an artist who has never compromised his creative voice. In 2011 he received a Grammy nomination for his live CD Dream Attic, and was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his work in music. Classic Rock Mine’s Mike Conway sat down with Richard Thompson in his hotel room, before an appearance at the Guinness Fleadh at Boston’s Suffolk Downs on June 19, 1999. Thompson’s openness, frankness and sense of humor when discussing his life and career, make this a memorable interview.
The Americans, the new TV drama on FX, follows married KGB sleeper agents living in the US as they carry out missions that are too violent, or sometimes sexually explicit, for a primetime audience. Hopefully this new drama won’t die in the mid-week, late-night spot.
The Danger Zone, with DJs Slam Dunk Tha Funk and IVK, always opens with the Kenny Loggins song for which the show is named and always finishes with “All We Do is Win” by DJ Khaled. From week to week, what will happen in between is anybody’s guess, though the DJs certainly put an emphasis on hip hop. When I came by WMFO to interview Slam (Sam) and IVK (Ian) this Wednesday at midnight, Slam was queuing up the next three songs: “Adorn” by Miguel, “Love Sosa” by Chief Keef, and “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift. ”When you write this article you’re going to want to talk about my live editing skills,” he told me. These skills were put to the test almost immediately, cutting out all the curse words on “Love Sosa,” a relatively tame song compared to most of Chief Keef’s discography. The rest of the playlist was equally diverse, featuring A$ap Rocky, Mumford & Sons, and indie up and comer Autre Ne Veut. Listen to The Danger Zone every Wednesday night from Midnight to 1 am and read my interview with Slam and IVK below the jump.
Watching Beyonce swing her hair around during the Super Bowl halftime show, my mind started to wander over to another dynamic and extremely different musician I had seen recently. Reflecting on Kathleen Edwards‘ performance last week at Brighton Music Hall, I came upon a version of the same question I ask myself about most of my favorite artists: Why isn’t Kathleen Edwards more popular? I might append “in the US” to that as all of Canada will politely remind you that Kathleen Edwards and hockey belong to them.
The new album from moody Scottish alt rockers Frightened Rabbit has landed. Pedestrian Verse is the group’s fourth album and their first under the Atlantic record label. Front man Scott Hutchinson delivers emotional lyrics that give the album an honest feel. Standouts “Backyard Skulls,” “The Woodpile” and “State Hospital” carry the album to success. Frightened Rabbit’s trademark melancholy is ever-present on this LP, notably in the incessant declaration “There is something wrong with me,” on the track “Dead Now.” This album follows a year of touring with Death Cab for Cutie and the strong State Hospital EP released last year. Pedestrian Verse could be the album that brings Frightened Rabbit off of alternative rock’s backburner and into the foreground.
Purity Ring’s music feels precious to me. When I say “precious” I don’t mean it the way some people describe things that are overly cutesy or twee. I mean that the electro-indie duo, comprised of Megan James and Corin Roddick, treat their music as if it is precious. I don’t say this just because of the band’s slow and careful songwriting process. Each song feels to me like a cut jewel, sharp, precise, bright, and clear, to be handled with care and awe. Or at least that is how I felt when I saw Purity Ring play at House of Blues on Wednesday.
Surprise! The Strokes just popped out a new tune called “One Way Trigger” as if we all knew it was coming. Well of course, the Strokes were about due for a tease since 2011′s “Angles” record. And yeah, there are still Strokes fans out there who remember the thrill of “Is This It?” and the excellent yet under-appreciated “Room On Fire”. So hey, even though the Strokes may now be considered rock veterans, predictably steady, or even old hat, when the Strokes release a new song lovers and haters are going to spin it at least once.
Hey all! I took last week off for Bastille Day, but I hope you all enjoyed two weeks ago’s picks of the week! I’m really excited for Alt-J’s American release! Now onto some other stuff,
This week’s MD Picks are…
Pomplamoose has released quite a few tracks via their YouTube channel over the course of the past few years, all of it incredible. They recently dabbled in Electro-Pop with the single linked to above, and just dropped a new EP. Definitely check them out!
Similar to: The Ting Tings, The Submarines, Shiny Toy Guns
Album: Regina Spektor – What We Saw From The Cheap Seats
Regina Spektor is one of my absolute all-time favorite artists, and her new album doesn’t disappoint. Incredible sound, with a bunch of old tracks redone, and some new ones to boot, this album is terrific. And, to all the DJs wanting to play this album on their show, it’s available in the MD-recommended rack in Studio A! Recommended Tracks: “Patron Saint,” “Small Town Moon,” “All The Rowboats.”
Similar to: Ingrid Michaelson, Kate Nash, Immaculate Machine
Song: Madeon – “Finale“
I hope you all were as excited as I was when Madeon dropped his newest track. The 17-year old French electronic artist is an incredible force and one that’s been taking over the electronic scene in the past few years. Check out this track and check out all of his other tracks on his SoundCloud.
Similar to: Yelle, Wolfgang Gartner, Dave Edwards
Enjoy! See you next week!
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