Miami’s Young Circles are excited to release their first video off their recently released debut LP, Jungle Habits for the track “Love Hitch”. The video was directed by band member Adam Badlotto, using more than 7,000 stop motion images—none were generated by a computer—animated on a flat bed scanner, incorporating live footage. The band described the concept as “a psychedelic journey that visualizes the cognitive process of forgetting a lost love; an experience that represents the chemical reactions in our brains.”
Young Circles had a busy year, releasing their debut, Bones EP in January, followed by Jungle Habits in August, and, most recently, the single “Ninety-Nine Percent,” a tribute to the ongoing Occupy Wall Street movement, with all proceeds from the single being donated directly to OccupyWallSt.org.
Young Circles has been working on the follow up to Jungle Habits, as well as plotting a tour for the spring, which will include dates at SXSW.
Oxford, UK-based quartet Jonquil announce their forthcoming full-length, Point of Go, set for a February 21st release with Dovecote Records (The Futureheads, Hooray For Earth). The album follows their recently released split 7″ single with Solid Gold Dragons (Jonquil bass/trumpet player Sam Scott), and their radiant One Hundred Suns EP, celebrated for its upbeat tempos and creative integration of afro and indie-pop. Fronted by Hugo Manuel, who also performs under the solo moniker Chad Valley, the quartet recently returned stateside for CMJ ’11, following a phenomenal US spring debut where they performed three sold-out New York sets in 48 hours.
Point of Go emerges as a glimmeringly positive step in a new direction, a record that is, in their own words, “far more poppy and accessible” than anything they’ve previously written. Recorded over a six-week period in a farmhouse studio it takes the band’s summery flourishes and intricate guitars, and strips them back to a set of immediate, direct pop songs. With influences rooted firmly in the past – from Fleetwood Mac to The Smiths, Chic and Earth, Wind and Fire to Arthur Russell – the quartet’s LP is an exercise in classic pop sensibilities held up by a modern backbone. Point of Go will be released in the rest of the world by Blessing Force; a growing community of artists, musicians and writers in Oxford (UK) that involves the band’s other projects Chad Valley, Pocket House and Solid Gold Dragons.
Swedish native, Soso, is compelled to execute the entirety of the creative process herself. The self-indulgent journey that is her record, That Time I Dug So Deep I Ended Up In China, is a literal metaphor as Soso is known to not be very keen on leaving her home environment. The album title has a suitable double meaning as China is the furthest, most foreign destination she could think of in contrast to the familiar and to stay true to her theme she has played around a lot with traditional Chinese instruments in her electronic productions. Soso also remembers her mother saying to her, while playing in the sandbox as a child, “Soso, if you keep digging like that, you’ll end up in China!” Well, she’s has dug herself a big hole and put a soundtrack to it. The debut album, set to be released in 2012, is an intensely personal journey into the heart of Soso. On one hand, lyrically raw and lo-fi, but on the other, paradoxically pop in its unintentionally sophisticated melodies.
Soso portrays an almost awkwardly honest autobiography. The process of her recording has been totally limited to her bedroom in her apartment in the Södermalm district of Stockholm. In it, she has written and self-produced every track on the album. Every video and photograph has been shot by her boyfriend in her apartment or backyard. She directed and edited them all herself and claims that her press shots were taken in her bathroom. This project takes the concept of “DIY” to a new level.
The record features a number of preludes and semi-instrumentals, including titles “Every Man I Love Has Got A Girlfriend,” “Everything Near Becomes Distant” and “Sab Lackath”. The latter, an anagram for Black Sabbath, is a track in which Soso recorded herself crying and edited it into a rhythmic beat. Within the parameters of her technique she truly invites us to her inner most private places.
“Happy People” is a soulful and bittersweet track evoking an earlier time, when life was simple and free from complication. “Joaquin Phoenix” is a one-take-love-song to the decadent actor that Soso recorded impulsively after watching his mockumentary “I’m Still Here” in 2010. Opening single, “Who’s Gonna Love Me” is a slow-building pop gem that battles intimate issues like insecurity and abandonment. It perfectly showcases the singer’s commanding vocals and hard-hitting sound.
There is also a mindblowing interpretation of Cody Chestnutt’s “My Women, My Guitars” on the record, in which Soso all too effortlessly sings the lyrics “I’ve Got A Dick Full Of Blood And A Wide Open Heart To Lean On…” as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Soso’s debut takes listeners on an exhilarating and sometimes pleasurably awkward journey, daring to explore the skeletons we hide in the closet set to an incessantly catchy soundtrack.
As music delivery becomes more and more digital, the music spectrum outside the Top 40 has become more diverse than ever. That said, this year’s BRB Top 10 albums are a diverse bunch that feature a combination of up-and-coming artists, as well as some who are old enough to be your parents.
Without further ado…
10. Mr. Lewis and the Funeral 5 – Delirium Tremendous: Roll up your sleeves and order a few drinks, because this is a soundtrack for the night. If The Presets met The Kinks at a Tom Waits concert, you’d just begin to get an idea of the swagger Mr. Lewis and the Funeral 5 deliver.
9. Kyng – Trampled Sun: Kyng succeeds where so many other rock bands have failed. They combine classic rock, grunge, and metal into a sound that is wholly unique and incredibly listenable for fans of just about any kind of rock. They call it “California Heavy.” We call it “Fan-f#cking-tastic!”
8. Animals As Leaders – Weightless: Often, the problem with pushing the extremes is that the extremes are almost unlistenable. You can only play it so fast, detuned so far, or in so many odd time signatures before it becomes about catering to the extreme itself and not making a musical statement. Enter Animals As Leaders and their mastermid guitarist, Tosin Abasi, who combines soaring melodies, djent rhythms and odd time signatures in a way that is listenable… in the extreme. Weightless is rewriting the rulebook for progressive metal.
7. Grand Pianoramax – Smooth Danger: To call Smooth Danger an eclectic album would be a tremendous understatement. Never has one album combined funk, electronic, hip hop, and avant garde music in a a way that is so completely organic. If you are looking for candy pop, look elsewhere. Smooth Danger is 88 keys and the truth!
6. Russian Circles – Empros: Funny thing about Russian Circles. They’ve proven, record after record, that a great album doesn’t need a vocalist to tell a story. And while SPIN spends countless pages stroking Explosions in the Sky, Russian Circles drops Empros, which reaffirms what music fans already knew: while Explosions in the Sky is good, Russian Circles still rules the realm of post-rock instrumentalism.
5. Younger Brother – Vaccine: When bands make lineup changes, they instantly put themselves up for criticism. Many diehards were tough on Vaccine for all the ways it wasn’t like its predecessors. What most of them failed to realize was that, judged completely on its own merits, not only was Vaccine a stellar album, it was one of the best from any band in 2011. Vaccine brings together elements of ambient electronica and indie dream pop in a collection of convincing and infectious songs.
4. Anthrax – Worship Music: I grew up in the denim and leather generation with Anthrax and Metallica patches on my jean jacket. I say this so we can establish some credentials to remove any hyperbole from this statement: After 30 years, Anthrax released the album of their career with Worship Music. That alone is reason enough for you to have this album in your collection. Period.
3. Alert New London – Youth: From the rock hotbed of Columbus, Ohio comes Alert New London. Their unique brand of melancholia is visceral and never forced in a way that hasn’t been heard in more than a decade. From lyrics to music, this is the complete package.
2. Scarlet Season – The Taxidermist: Many reviewers called out the obvious influence of Tori Amos, but Scarlet Season goes further, incorporating elements of minimalist electronica into her beautiful, angst-ridden vocal delivery. Indeed, The Taxidermist exudes a panorama of dynamics not seen since Siouxsie Sioux.
1. Egypt Central – White Rabbit: In an age of singles, many bands are abandoning the concept of an album that contains songs that, together, make a statement. Egypt Central fly directly in the face of convention, then, with White Rabbit. The album follows the story of someone succumbing to his addictions and the perils that come with it. Musically, each song could be a single and a staple of rock radio. Together, these elements bring music fans what they long for most, but are finding in shorter supply each year: an album they can listen to from beginning to end and never want to skip a track. In the end, White Rabbit gets our vote as the top album of 2011 because it was the most accessible album we heard all year that didn’t sacrifice an ounce of integrity, coming out leaps and bounds more mature than its predecessor.
After bestowing the videos for “Boots Electric Theme” and “Complexity” upon us, Eagles of Death Metal’s Jesse Hughes is sharing a third track from his solo project, Boots Electric. Click here to stream/download “I Love You All The Thyme.”
The track finds Hughes showing a different side from his notorious winking, seductive persona that gets all the girls. Instead, “I Love You All The Thyme” is a moment of genuine pining for someone he loves who seems to have an eye on someone else. The song is on Honkey Kong (Dangerbird Records), Hughes’ debut album under the Boots Electric moniker. The album was produced by Tony Hoffer (Beck, Depeche Mode, The Kooks) and co-written with legendary keyboardist Money Mark, best known for his many collaborations with the Beastie Boys.
After creating three albums of dirty and danceable garage rock anthems as the frontman of Eagles of Death Metal, Hughes expands his sonic palette as Boots Electric while continuing to deliver the hooks that he’s known for. The electronic drums that kick off opening track “Complexity” immediately signal the new direction. The track is a mix of glam-pop, keyboard-heavy dance grooves, and Hughes’ signature brand of rock ‘n roll grit that drips with swagger. Elsewhere, he tries on space-funk synths on the track “Boots Electric” and “Trippy Blob” has some of his most absurdist lyrics yet.
Hughes continues to show his earnest side on tracks like “No Fun” is an honest-to-goodness ballad and “Swallowed by the Night” is a soulful slice of honky tonk gold. Honkey Kongreveals what many already knew – beneath the tongue-in-cheek lyrics and his charismatic strut, Hughes has always been a gifted pop songwriter at heart. Boots Electric is coming out of the closet.
Germany’s electronic duo Digitalism is bringing their live show back to North America this week, kicking off a full tour sponsored by Jägermeister. The band has also announced the Circles EP, which will see a release on December 6th via V2/Cooperative Music/Downtown. The band premiered the Dillon Francis remix of “Circles” via RCRD LBL, head over to their site to download the track for free.
The band released their sophomore album, I Love You, Dude, this past summer, and hit the road with the HARD Festival Summer Tour in support. The album features 10 tracks, each of which has their own vibrant identity. With amazing tracks like “Forrest Gump,” co-written with Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas, “Circles,” with its Who-ish keyboard and apparently existential lyrics and standout lead single “2 Hearts.”
Digitalism North American Tours Dates 2011
11/28 – Chicago, IL – Metro
11/29 – Toronto, ON – Mod Club
11/30 – Montreal, QC – SAT
12/1 – Boston, MA – Paradise
12/2 – New York, NY – Webster Hall
12/3 – Philadephia, PA – Trocadero
12/5 – Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall
12/7 – Asheville, NC – Orange Peel
12/9 – Austin, TX – Parish
12/10 – Dallas, TX – Granada Theater
12/12 – Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up
12/13 – Los Angeles, CA – The Music Box
12/14 – San Francisco, CA – Mezzanine
On December 13, 2011, Keller Williams delivers Bass, his 17th album. Starting with 1994’s Freek, Keller has done solo albums, live albums, one with The String Cheese Incident, another with Bob Weir, Michael Franti, Bela Fleck and a bunch of other personal heroes, a bluegrass covers album with Keller & The Keels, a children’s album, a remix album, and more. Here Keller shows off, you guessed it, his bass skills with his first record that finds the multi-instrumentalist only on bass guitar.
Bass is also the first album to be recorded with Keller’s live reggae-funk band Kdubalicious. Formed in late 2010, in addition to Keller on bass and vocals, the group features Jay Starling on keyboards and Mark D on drums. Though Keller’s music, both what he listens to and what he puts out, may always be changing and evolving, there’s always one constant: his unique, playful songwriting. Bass is no different in that regard. This may be reggae music—with heavy doses of dub, funk, jazz and even bits of pop and psychedelia—but at the core, it’s a Keller Williams record, his warm voice and equally inviting attitude driving the positive vibrations.
Since Keller Williams first appeared on the scene in the early ’90s, he has helped define the term independent artist. Looking at the diversity of his fall plans, you can certainly ascertain why. Look for Keller on tour through the end of the year in several of his various incarnations, including his newest collaboration – The Travelin’ McCourys Featuring Keller Williams – which debuted this fall at Magnolia Fest, Voodoo Music Festival, and others. Also recently announced, a New Year’s run: beginning December 28 at The Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh, North Carolina. Then on December 29 and 30 the show rolls to The National in Richmond, VA and Norfolk’s NorVa respectively, with Keller Williams on stage for one set solo and one set with his project Kdubalicious, plus very special guests The Pimps of Joytime. For New Year’s Eve, Keller & The Keels ring in 2012 at Brooklyn Performing Arts Center in Wilmington North Carolina. All four venues will also host a Keller Plays for Kids matinee performance earlier that day.
Keller Williams Tour Dates
11/30—12/1 The Abbey Theatre Durango, CO
12/2 El Rey Theatre Albuquerque, NM
12/3 Orpheum Theater Flagstaff, AZ
12/4 Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas, NV
12/8 Infinity Hall Norfolk, CT
12/9 Pearl Street Northampton, MA
12/10 Historic Blairstown Theatre Blairstown, NJ
12/11 Sellersville Theater Sellersville, PA
12/28 Lincoln Theatre Raleigh, NC (KIDS Show)
12/28 Lincoln Theatre Raleigh, NC
12/29 The National Richmond, VA (KIDS show)
12/29 The National Richmond, VA with The Pimps of Joytime
12/30 The Norva Norfolk, VA (KIDS show)
12/30 The Norva Norfolk, VA with The Pimps of Joytime
12/31 Brooklyn Performing Arts Center Wilmington, NC (KIDS show)
12/31 Brooklyn Performing Arts Center Wilmington, NC Keller and the Keels
1/9—1/14 Jam Cruise 10 Fort Lauderdale FL Keller and The Keels
1/13 The Abbey Bar at ABC Harrisburg, PA
1/14 Mr. Smalls Theatre Millvale, PA
1/17 New York Guitar Festival New York, NY
1/19 Harlow’s Sacramento, CA
1/20 Arcata Theatre Arcata, CA
1/21 Great American Music Hall San Francisco, CA Keller Williams (KIDS Matinee)
1/21 Great American Music Hall San Francisco, CA
1/22 Mystic Theatre Petaluma, CA
2/2 Coach House San Juan Capistrano, CA
2/3 Belly Up Tavern Solana Beach, CA
2/4 Club Nokia @ LA Live Los Angeles, CA
2/17 Ziggy’s Winston Salem, NC
3/14—3/17 Jam in the ‘Dam, The Melkweg, Amsterdam, NL
Michigan-based singer-songwriter, Chris Bathgate, has debuted a new video for single “Big Ghost.” Following a year of touring, several hometown festival appearances, a NPR Tiny Desk Concert, and a recent performance at CMJ ’11, he continues to support his acclaimed full length release, Salt Year on the road with Americana artist Adam Aracuagi. Bathgate is also putting the finishing touches on his latest and greenest output, an EP titled Old Factory with a bar of soap and download code acting as the physical product.
Bathgate has received national acclaim since being signed to Quite Scientific Records (Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Cotton Jones) in 2007, following years of self-releasing his own albums. Salt Year was featured in NPR Listeners Poll as “Best Of The Year (So Far).” Originating from a period of personal tumult in his life Salt Year was the most difficult album he has made to date.
Chris Bathgate Tour Dates
11/22 – The Grid – Kings Beach, CA
11/23 – The Starline Ballroom – Oakland, CA
11/26 – Amnesia – San Francisco, CA
11/27 – SoHo – Santa Barbara, CA
11/28 – Molly Malone’s – Los Angeles, CA
11/29 – House Show – Venice Beach, CA
12/2 – The Blue Door, Oklahoma City, OK
12/3 – The Deli – Norman, OK
12/4 – House Show – Denton, TX
12/5 – TBA – Lawrence, KS
12/6 – Slowdown – Omaha, NE
12/7 – TBA – Iowa City, IA
12/8 – House Cafe – DeKalb, IL
12/9 – The Strutt – Kalamazoo, MI
12/10 – Ottawa Tavern – Toledo, OH
12/11 – Old Town – Ann Arbor, MI
The Denver-based songwriting duo of Kael Smith and Matt Herron (known as Mombi – pronounced Mom-bee), grew up together and have been making music together for the last six years. Smith and Herron spent nearly three years sculpting hours of material into the eight cohesive songs that form the Mombi debut album, The Wounded Beat, out now on Luxembourg’s Own Records.
Recorded and mixed by Keith Kenniff, known for his ambient/electronic music under the name Helios and his post-classical piano music as Goldmund, The Wounded Beat is a warm and intimate listen, with just enough optimism lurking amidst its lonely sounds. The album is full of dark, moody folk music set to a subtle backdrop of ethereal atmospherics, with each track painting a different shade of melancholy through soft, weighty vocals, layered guitars, keys and hazy electronics.
“The Misunderstanding” is the first single and video from The Wounded Beat. An unabashedly gloomy song with ghostly electric guitar swells and a strong, driving rhythm, the track’s meticulous nature is evidence of the artistic teamwork developed through Smith and Herron’s long friendship and years-long dedication to the creation of The Wounded Beat.
Brett Netson is a name that should be familiar to anyone who grew up during and survived the alternative nation explosion of the ’90s. The Boise, Idaho native has, since 1993, played guitar with the long-running rock dynamo that is Built To Spill and has spent time backing up folks like Mark Lanegan and former Dinosaur Jr. bassist, Mike Johnson. As well, Netson crafted over a half dozen amazing albums with his own art damaged, high desert blues/metal outfit, Caustic Resin.
For someone as prolific and creative as Netson, it’s amazing to think that he’s never released any material under his own name before. That’s all about to change, though, with his incredible new album Simple Work for the Dead, to be released on November 22nd via The New Black Records.
Simple Work is the culmination of Netson spending the past 15+ years absorbing the varying styles and sounds that he has been involved with and having them finally bearing fruit in one urgent explosion of original material. The doomsday, psychedelic drive of “Someone Else” could have come right out of a Caustic Resin set list, and “God Is Wrong” and “Piss Anywhere” both seethe and swoon with the bitter regret that has marked so much of Lanegan’s solo work. Netson’s inclusion of cover of Bob Dylan’s “Masters Of War” should give you a hint at Netson’s source of anger.
Comparisons aside, the vision for all these songs is all Netson. And to hear him tell it, the work featured here came to him quickly in involuntary fits of action. “They were mostly written as they were recorded and each song was usually done in one sitting.” It’s quite an achievement, especially as you dig into the dense arrangements that he cooked up for these tunes (he played almost all the instruments on the album as well). Songs are replete with multi-tracked vocal harmonies, droning keyboards and guitar feedback, and Netson’s pitch-perfect acoustic guitar work.
“It’s a meditation on the end of capitalism and cheap energy. Sad songs about Western culture’s craving for authority in the guise of convenience and comfort. We are infantile and helpless. There is no way to tell what even the near future will look like” In anyone else’s hands, that could spell an album full of inchoate anger that is alienating as it is unlistenable. Not so with Simple Work. Netson explains, “My band Caustic Resin was more of a call to a feral subversive lifestyle, but the intent here was to make music for everyone.” The resulting work plays like an unexpected note from your neighbor. Not a complaint, but an observation and an offer of help, a sonic attempt to break through the barriers that isolate people – an affecting and personal soundtrack for all those likeminded orphans who act without permission.