Leave it to the musical genius, Jack White, of our generation to combine a rap, throw in a few spanish lyrics, a steady guitar riff, and a fiddle solo in the title track of his upcoming album. After, hearing his first single release “High Ball Stepper” it is clear that the album is going to be boisterous, loud and unrestrained. But seriously, who else can pull this off? Lyrics explain, “They put me down in a lazaretto,” which for those of you who don’t know is a hospital for those with infectious diseases. Maybe we can’t completely identify with the bizarre meaning of the song, but one thing is for certain, Jack White continues to create the most unique and transcendent music of today. I can’t wait to see what songs continue to come from this album and what record he might set next, since he surprised audiophiles by making “Lazaretto” in just under four hours.
They say we shouldn’t call it a comeback, but we at Half Past are absolutely thrilled by the apparent emo revival taking place this year, its most recent form being a new single from storied emo founding fathers Sunny Day Real Estate. “Lipton Witch” was released as a Record Store Day 7” split with Circa Survive, and SDRE hasn’t lost a beat. Lead singer Jeremy Enigk’s voice has picked up some roadside gravel, but the guitars still chime as sharply as they did 20 years ago when the group released their acclaimed debut Diary.
NEW TRACKS: The Snow (Wild Nothing + Beach Fossils), “Memory Loss”
Guys: GOOD NEWS. We have been given a new super group. The Snow*— Dustin Payseur (Beach Fossils), Jack Tatum (Wild Nothing) and Andreas Lagerström (Holograms). Check out their first single “Memory Loss.” It’s a short and dreamy track, with the sort of droning instrumentation that is somehow vaguely catchy, despite its heavy weight. One can hear Ian Curtis throughout (Lagerström handles lead vocals).The song will be one half of a 7”, to be released on Record Store Day via Captured Tracks this coming April 19 (B side “Joy of Life”).
Naturally, that whole “Our powers combined…” concept reigns. These front men, individually, are terrific. The three of them working together is a welcome and fairly ideal collaboration. Here’s hoping the boys have a full album up their sleeves.
*Not to be confused with another super group of the same name, featuring members of Melomane and Bad Reputation.
NEW TRACKS: Kishi Bashi, “Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!”
You know that cliché about someone having the voice of an angel? That stopped being a cliché as soon as Kishi Bashi (stage name of Kaoru Ishibashi… get it?), indie-session-violinist-turned-master-music-craftsman, stepped up to the mic. The Quiche, as I affectionately call him, violinned for acts like Regina Spektor and Sondre Lerche before basing himself in the music hotspot of Athens, GA (go Dawgs) to play with notorious freak folk performance artists of Montreal. Let it be said again that the world owes infinity to Elephant 6 for all of its offshoots, because Kishi Bashi’s first record 151a is the sound of spiritual transcendence magnetized to tape. “Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!” is the first single from his upcoming Lighght, and it follows suit. The trippy, rainbow video features Ishibashi’s adorable family AND the happiest vibes you’ll ever experience. Mark May 13 off on your calendar, because Lighght is going to be one of the best releases of the year.
NEW TRACKS: Kendrick Lamar ft. Tame Impala, “Backwards”
At some point, Kendrick Lamar decided to like indie-rock. Maybe it happened when he sampled Beach House for “Money Trees,” maybe when he decided to collaborate with Imagine Dragons to remix “Radioactive.” In any case, this rising hip-hop star is back with another notable indie sample, this time from throwback psych rockers, Tame Impala.
The sample in question, a lilting vocal line from “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” makes for a gorgeous backdrop to Kendrick’s verses accompanied by Kendrick’s now trademarked bent string lines (see: “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”). For some reason, the rapper draws on the same growl-yell voice he used during the fast third verse of Backseat Freestyle, even though the beat is sublimely serene. If it’s an attempt at contrast, it falls a bit flat.
Lamar’s voice is somewhat difficult to understand over the course of the track, but on the third and fourth listens, his lyrical stylings are as excellent as ever. It’s a very fine line to walk.
NEW TRACKS: Christopher Owens, “It Comes Back To You”
When Girls broke up, I think we were all a little worried that the good vibes and good melodies would be gone, but it seems our fears were unfounded. Christopher Owens is still making goddamn great music. He released this song, saying it comes off of “a new album [he’s] made with dear friends.” Maybe these friends are the old members of Girls? Maybe? …Please? This new song has that same emotional quality and surf-rock/gospel sound mix that makes all of his music so compelling. He has yet to share any more information regarding this mysterious new album, but for this reviewer it can’t come soon enough!
On the heels of touring together last year, hometown hero Ted Leo and rock royalty Aimee Mann joined creative forces to write, play, and record music as The Both. What started for the duo as just an EP quickly turned into a full-blown, eleven-track LP. “Milwaukee,” the lead single from the pair’s forthcoming, eponymous debut album, commemorates the moment Leo and Mann realized they should combine their kindred musical spirits.
“We walked over the bridge in Milwaukee / Past the statue of Fonz in the dirt,” Mann sings amidst vibrant, punchy guitar riffs of that fateful day. In true collaborative style, Mann and Leo share vocal duties, switching off between verses, but always coming together to harmonize the chorus. Throughout the track, interspersed, jarring distortion pays homage to the two’s rock roots while undeniably catchy handclaps convey an overall upbeat, pop punk feel. As the song nears its end, the guitar strumming loosens and drumming slows, mimicking the final seconds of that “nucleus burnin’ inside of a cell.”
The Both drops April 15 on Mann’s own label, SuperEgo Records. Then, just a couple weeks later, the duo play here at the Club! You won’t want to miss it.
Sky Ferreira is busy these days setting the stage as the opening act to Miley Cyrus’ tour/freak show, sulking at the Academy Awards, and making various appearances to promote her 2013 album “Night Time, My Time.” (She killllled it on Jimmy Kimmel. YouTube her performance! DO IT.) Yet, the quasi-pop chanteuse took a minute to let us know, via twitter, her feelings regarding the previously-unreleased song “Rancid Girl,” which was surrendered to public ear last week. “Leaks usually bother me but I actually like ‘Rancid Girl’ so that’s…cool?” A now long-time collaborator with good ol’ Jon Brion, Ferreira also teamed up with Blake Mills and Cass McCombs to write and record this acoustic little nugget back in 2012. Without the strong beat and blaring effects of her other material, “Rancid Girl” showcases a more gentle and subdued version of Ferreira’s habitually bold voice. The chord progression is natural and comforting; the lyrics playful and canny – “Rancid skin, rancid blouse / Filthy mouth, Minnie Mouse” – as well as applicable – “Keep your pipe on yourself/ Just claim it belongs to someone else.” Is the track autobiographical? Who cares. It’s a lovely, albeit throw-away, song.
NEW TRACKS: The Birds of Satan - ‘Thanks For The Line’
The lead track for Taylor Hawkins’ latest project, the Birds of Satan, has hit us with a fury of hard rock and metal awesomeness to be expected from the Foo Fighters drummer. Accompanied by bassist Wiley Hodgden (who previously collaborated with Hawkins for the 70s hard rock cover band Chevy Metal) and shredder Mick Murphy, “Thanks for the Line” plays like a cross between Them Crooked Vultures and 80s metal’s vocals and shredding. Murphy’s solo is on point and just what hard rock needs right now. And who doesn’t like a little cowboy in their songs?
The forthcoming eponymous debut album is due out April 15th and, per a recent Rolling Stone article, will also feature fellow Foo Fighters Dave Grohl and Pat Smear, along with frequent collaborating keyboardist Rami Jaffee. Get pumped for an album that has what is described as “the first documented recorded Van Halen style guitar solo of this decade.” This should be good.
NEW TRACKS: Hercules and Love Affair - ‘Do You Feel The Same’
As we approach the end of this goddamn winter, which threatens to hemorrhage well into March, treat yourself to a listen of the debut track off Hercules and Love Affair’s new album, “The Feast of the Broken Heart,” slated for release in May. This is the third record from the eclectic group, which, again, features multiple vocalists; namely, Belgium’s Gustaph – who belts the lyrics of “Do You Feel the Same?” audaciously, liltingly. The song manages to maintain a throwback-feel, despite sounding totally fresh. That provocative bass line is surely liable. And the build up to the chorus will certainly cause a slight and much-needed skip of your tired heart. (Projecting a bit, here…) As this fun, post-disco group continues to evolve, it is a pleasure to hear the results. Hopefully, Gustaph and his counterpart – Rogue Mary – will join Andy Butler and his crew on their upcoming European tour. Hopefully, the whole gang will tour elsewhere, too. For example - oh, I don’t know - WASHINGTON, D.C.?