New Music Tuesday: Atoms for Peace • Kavinsky • Johnny Marr • Gold Fields • Autre Ne Veut


Every Tuesday, we focus on new music releases by naming our top tracks, album highlights, lowlights and important takeaways for select albums.

Atoms for PeaceAMOK

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Judge, Jury and Executioner”
“Reverse Running”

Album Highlights: Yep, this is a good one, but let’s be honest, did anyone expect anything less than great from Thom Yorke and his All-Star cast? From the first few notes, you get a general picture of how the next 40 minutes are going to sound, only it grows and expands more and more as the tracks develop. It’s been evident that Yorke has become fond of progressive electronic music, as demonstrated on King of Limbs, and on AMOK, he utilizes the knowledge that he has gained from acts such as Flying Lotus, Pearson Sound and Four Tet, to name a few. Yorke, Flea, Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco sublimely build tracks from a simple point, then expand and grow them from there to rapturous peaks of rhythm and synth coupled with Yorke’s unmistakable vocals. Waronker and Refosco elevate drumming and rhythm to high plateaus, blending the line between man and machine.

Album Lowlight: Fans who are keen for Yorke to return to early era Radiohead guitar anthems will have to keep on waiting. While this album can be viewed as really just the sequel to Eraser, it solidifies the personnel who were wrangled once Thom wanted to bring it on tour originally in 2010; basically, there are no surprises. Would be kind of cool to hear Flea use his thumb, too.

Takeaway: Simply put, this is another string in the masterful tapestry that Yorke has woven for over two decades. The complexity of the rhythms, while still being palpable overall to the masses, is refreshing while leaving room for more depth to be explored on the stage. To know that more people will open up to the possibilities that electronic music production can bring is also a comforting notion. The evolution of sound from Eraser to Limbs and now AMOK comes in perfect step, and one can only wonder what Thom Yorke has up his sleeve next.

~Kevin Quandt


2.5-BamsTop Tracks:

Album Highlights: While Outrun marks Kavinsky’s first full-length album, it contains a couple hits that make the record seem familiar. While Kavinsky has put out three EPs already, “Testarossa Autodrive” was heard on loop in Grand Theft Auto IV. And most people know Kavinsky, or Vincent Belorgey, as the creator of the most memorable part of the Drive soundtrack with “Nightcall.” The first half of Outrun highlights new material, and “ProtoVision” jumps out as the best “new” track on the record. It instantly grabs you, to the point where you feel like you’ve heard it on the Drive soundtrack or in Grand Theft Auto…

Tracks like “Suburbia,” which features Havoc on the mic, and to a lessor extent “First Blood” with Tyson, hint at where Kavinsky is likely heading in his career; Kavinsky should be making tailor-made beats for Emcees. “Suburbia” makes the vocal-less tracks feel a bit empty by comparison.

Album Lowlight: The biggest drawback with Kavinsky is that his tracks are built on the concept of hooky repetition, to the point that you’ve heard all there is to hear within a minute to ninety seconds. “Deadcruiser” and “Grand Canyon” are a couple yawners that repeat to Nowheresville.

Takeaway: Kavinsky’s mellowed, crunchy house beats are similar to the repetitive sounds Justice has made famous by mixing a modulated back-beat with synthetic overlays. Justice is popular because of where they take songs, and how the beats evolve. The french duo play with expectations, while Kavinsky seems pretty content with two tempos, fast and slow.

That’s how Outrun feels at least. It contains a handful of entertaining dance jams, most of which have been heard before. The listenable shelf-life for a Kavinsky music session isn’t long due to repetition that never dares to go anywhere or evolve.

~Mike Frash

Johnny MarrThe Messenger

2.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“The Right Thing Right”
“Sun and Moon”
“New Town Velocity”

Album Highlights: The former Smiths guitarist and writer puts another notch in his musical belt with The Messenger, a pleasant piece of 21st century Brit-rock. Having left behind his backing band the Healers behind on this effort, it’s being called Marr’s solo debut. The guitar work is undeniably Marr, and beckons the brighter side of recent Brit-rock such as Doves. The pace of the album is pretty constant till you reach “Sun and Moon,” which makes way for some howling and harder strumming coupled with a faster beat and a more noticeable use of synths.

Album Lowlight: Though fans of Brit-rock may not find this album displeasing, listeners with a different knack for rock and roll may find it monotonous and stale. There is a lack of freshness in the tracks, proving that Marr may need a co-captain at all times, like Moz in the Smiths or Bernard Summer while in Electronic, in order to be the most effective.

Takeaway: Marr has been this kind of wondering minstrel of music since his departure from the Smiths in the late 80s, and on this album we see him sketch out an identity of what he is really all about. There are some elements which make this album a critical flop, but can be overlooked to define this release as the whole sound of a solo Johnny Marr. Overall, it’s a pleasant listen, but is going to leave most listeners not thrilled. I’m curious to what his next effort will be.

~Kevin Quandt

Gold FieldsBlack Sun

2-BamsTop Tracks:
“The Woods”
“Happy Boy”

Album Highlights: “The Woods,” the most energetic track on the album, breaks away from the standard structure and BPM backbone the band relies heavily upon throughout the majority of their full length. The samba inspired drumbeat hits hard from the jump-off and remains consistent, whilst interspersed between cryptic lyrics and Gold Fields’ attempt at wolf howls. A fun track, this will probably be a live show highlight and is the best representation of the type of EDM-influenced pop emerging from the Australian scene currently.

Album Lowlight: Had “Ice” been a minute less in length, it would have been the “takeaway” track of the album. It’s structure leads you to believe that there will be some type of worthwhile climax, but it falls short on delivering anything but breathy layered vocals and a change in frets. It’s a good effort, but ultimately just left me craving a piece of Dentine Ice: “nothing’s cooler than…”

Takeaway: “Happy Boy” is a stand out track for it’s diversion from the rest of the material on Gold Fields’ debut album. Although a bit monotonous lyrically and lacking in any type of groundbreaking musical innovations, the band achieves a classic groove through funk quint essentials. This track is a nice change of pace to their somewhat predictable material.

~Molly Kish

Autre Ne VeutAnxiety

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Play by Play”
“Gonna Die”

Album Highlights: Arthur Ashin, or Autre Ne Veut, has crafted a modern R&B gem with his second LP Anxiety. The songwriting and super-sexy falsetto delivery of the lyrics wreak of authenticy, and Ashin’s Vocals shine brightly over a new wave-influenced production. Ashin’s use of repetition works, especially over the LP’s bookends “Play by Play” and “World War.” Both songs allow for repetitious crooning: “I just called you up to get that play by play” and “No way you’re gonna be my baby.” “Counting” is a hypnotic hit-in-waiting; it is reminiscent of some of the best parts of Yeasayer, How to Dress Well and Passion Pit, yet it’s fresh and addictive upon first listen.

Album Lowlight: “Ego Free Sex Free” would have been just fine without the Alvin and the Chipmunk vocal modulation. That track, placed next to “A Lie,” provides a brief lull.

Takeaway: Anxiety is a sexy record, and it successfully melds an indie-rock mentality, new wave tinged instrumentation and R&B vocals to break new ground. The lyrics and vocal delivery are full of heartache and passionate in-the-moment urgency, often in powerful climatic fashion. Hyper-synthesized background vocals are frequently used for emphasis and as a tool to build emotion at critical points, and the overproduction skillfully enhances the end product. Ashin provides ecstatic moments, one after the other, guided by syncopated electronic drum beats colliding with harmonious synth beds.

Autre Ne Veux could tour with How to Dress Well or Miguel, showing Ashin’s potential audience range going forward.

~Mike Frash

Coachella 2013: What you should know before you go

Coachella 2013

So now that we have had time to let the 2013 Coachella line-up settle in, it’s pretty good, right? People were freakin’ out there for a minute. There has been a universal panning of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers performing as the closing headliner, even though they were a last hour addition. And rightfully so – there have been some popular sets that have shut down Coachella the past few years (Dre/Snoop, Kanye West, Gorillaz).

Goldenvoice clearly lost an expectation game with the reactions to the headliners this year, most notably due to the rumors swirling around Daft Punk and Rolling Stone. That didn’t stop them from selling out both weekends within a day, including weekend one within 15 minutes, so saying Goldenvoice lost anything is pure silliness.

Coachella 2013

Rock, particularly British Rock, leads the charge this year (Blur, The Stone Roses, the xx, New Order, Hot Chip, Grizzly Bear, James Blake, alt-J, Jessie Ware).

Conversely, Electronic Dance Music bro-house is gone compared to 2012. There is no major DJ act closing out a night on the main stage for the first time in years. There are no EDM acts on the top two lines of any day. It seems like a concerted effort was made by Goldenvoice to enact a change in direction, and it has been welcomed by many Coachella vets.

Subscribe to the Spotify Playlist Coachella 2013.
Coachella-2013Friday 2013

Friday should be a day to remember, as there are plenty of reunions and first time performances scheduled (see below). Lou Reed fits the “living legend” bill, Nick Cave’s supposedly on-hiatus Grinderman will appear for a one-off, and half of The Smiths songwriting partnership will be present with Johnny Marr performing. Bassnectar or Dog Blood (Skrillex & Boys Noize project) will close the Sahara Tent, and Justin Vernon’s new blues project The Shouting Matches will play one of their first shows. Hopefully Vernon sticks around for the weekends and makes some surprise appearances with the many acts he is associated with.

Friday Reunions

Damon Albarn’s Blur returning to the US for the first time since their reunion is a pretty big deal, though the American masses may not agree. Sure “Song 2” is a bit played out, but there are albums full of some of the best Brit-pop in decades. Songs like “Coffee and TV” and “She’s So High” beckon back to the 90s for many, but not all. Luckily this reunion is including Graham Coxon, a seminal part to the vocal arrangements of Blur. 

The co-headliner for Friday is also an English exported reunion, courtesy of the Manchester sound-makers The Stone Roses, fresh off a 15 year hiatus. Sure, New Order captured American fans a little more than the Roses, but they created a serious body of work for well over a decade starting in the mid-80s. John Squire’s guitar-work is something to marvel in as aspects of the Roses’ sound would be borrowed by some serious US acts like the Pixies. Having released an album last year, the Coachella masses should plan to hear these tracks coupled with hits like, “I Wanna Be Adored.”

Jurassic 5 is a name more fans will recognize over the one-two combo of Blur and the Roses. After a 6 year break, the LA hip-hop collective are back on the circuit with a banner set. The question will be if all the original members show up, as many of the artists have branched off to become successful solo artists; mainly Cut Chemist, Chali 2na and Nu-Mark. While the landscape of hip-hop has shifted a bit since their departure, tracks like “Quality Control” and “Concrete Schoolyard” will whip the crowd into a frenzy as equally as Danny Brown.

UPDATE – Jurassic 5 doesn’t know “How far” reunion can go.

Possible Friday Collaborations
Johnny Marr with Modest Mouse
Justin Vernon with Poliça

Friday Firsts (First shows ever/First in the US)

How To Destroy Angels – Trent, Marqueen, and Atticus will debut their newest project on Friday, and boy is it gonna be something. As many miss Nine Inch Nails, this band is pretty damned close in sound and personnel, and their two released EPs show great strength and should be an awesome early evening set in the warm desert winds. Look for their upcoming LP, and likely national tour. 

TNGHT – The duo that is Hudson Mohawke and Lunice has almost single handedly birthed the trap music sub-genre that is permeating bass music and hip-hop alike. Their debut EP is so fresh and hot, I needed an oven mitt to flip the vinyl. Having only played a show or two in NYC, this will be the marquee US debut of this Canadian meets Scottish production duo. The kids are gonna be losing their shit for this set, as trap is all the rage on the dance floor. Second in command to this movement is Baauer, who is featured this year as well. Will Kanye make an odd appearance on stage as he did in New York?

Earl Sweatshirt – Years in the making, and the anticipation is still sky high for Thebe’s live, full set premier. Expect massive crowds for this Odd Future cast-away, as his talent is undeniable, his story unbelievable and his allure is unquenchable. This set has lots of guest potential, as his OFWGKTA crew will likely be in tow for support both morally and lyrically. The Earl mixtape from a few years ago is such an impressive collection of explicit, yet Rhodes smart tunes that many fans are dying to hear them first hand from the man himself. Will Flying Lotus don his Captain Murphy cape and back Earl on the massive track “Between Friends?” Will Syd tha Kid be on the decks and buttons? 

Best Friday “Bottom-Liners”

Purity Ring’s sound is as future-pop as it gets, and the light-show matches the duo’s vibe and timing. Each light change is controlled by percussionist & beat-maker Corin Roddick’s drum strikes. Hopefully they are given a night tent set so they can show what they’ve got.

Jamie xx (Jamie Smith) is the chief producer, percussionist and DJ for The xx (performing Saturday), and he’s already well known for his progressive sound and excellent remixes.

•The lo-fi dream-pop from Trevor Powers’ Youth Lagoon will be a chill way to get started Friday.

Beardyman uses live sounds to make instant dance grooves, and it’s impressive how good he is at his niche skill.

Lord Huron is an indie-folk rock group on the rise. Their 2012 record Lonesome Dreams was highly underrated.

Palma Violets are a buzzy British psych-rock group that wil likely have a big year. Catch them early when most people haven’t arrived yet.

Coachella-2013Saturday 2013
Saturday is stacked: Phoenix, the xx, The Postal Service, Sigur Rós, New Order, Hot Chip, Grizzly Bear. If you are as excited as we are about the top two lines for Saturday, be ready to make tough decisions. There will be conflict. This doesn’t even include Yeasayer, Franz Ferdinand or Spiritualized into the conflict factor. Saturday is fucking stacked. It appears Knife Party will close the Sahara, and Simian Mobile Disco, Major Lazer & Richie Hawtin should deliver top notch electronic sets. Saturday also features FOALS, Ben Howard, Danny Brown, Janelle Monáe, Wild Nothing, El-P, & Booka Shade.

Saturday Reunions

The banner reunion on Saturday is squarely held by The Postal Service, the exciting collaboration of Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello. Their first announced show since 2005 came as a surprise to most music junkies as mumblings of The Smiths, as always, took first prize in the reunion hype category. Their upbeat electro-pop sound is pretty perfect for a sunset Saturday show, maybe warming up the majority to the dance-rock stylings of Phoenix later that night. Will Jenny Lewis make an appearance to sing as she did many times in their touring days a decade ago?

Many readers and attendees may not be familiar with The Make-Up, and that’s cool, but this soul-garage-politico-punk act is a force to see. The organ driven sound is highly infectious, and their live show has been compared to a punk rock gospel. Having only recently regrouped to play ATP, persuaded by Les Savvy Fav, this will be their marquee return, similar to Refused last year. Maybe Dischord co-owner Ian McKaye will accompany his labelmates for a track.

Violent Femmes slowly faded off the radar about 5 years ago as Gordon Gano and Brian Ritchie were tangled in royalty lawsuits stemming from the sale of “Blister in the Sun” to Wendy’s. It now appears the hatchet has been buried and they are returning to what they have been at for a couple of decades, making kitschy alternative rock. Their folk-driven sound is unmistakably likable, and devastatingly difficult to not sing along to. “Gone Daddy Gone” and “Add it Up” will be heard throughout the polo fields in the afternoon on Saturday. Will we get some surprise members to their infamous Horns of Dilemma? 

Toss The Descendents in the “sort-of reunion” column, but don’t diminish their key addition to the quintessential Southern California festival lineup. Birthed in Manhattan Beach in the late 70s, this seminal punk band that pioneered the skate, even pop-punk sound is still playing shows when singer Milo Aukerman can fit it between his demanding job as a biologist. Surely, the majority of attendees will recognize the Buddy Holly-glasses wearing frontman and his cartoonish caricature. They’ve been back at it a few years now, but mainly at small punk festivals, not the 80,000-size crowd that will be in attendance. Milo Goes to College is a must in your pre-fest rotation.

Possible collaborations:
Danny Brown & El-P
Danny Brown & Purity Ring
Ian McKaye with The Descendents

Saturday “Firsts:” (First shows ever/First in the US)

Savages – London’s all-female post-punk band have been building lots of buzz and lots of comparisons as they bring a fresh act to the music landscape this year. It’s hard to not hear Siouxsie and Banshees and the infectious howl of Karen O at first listen, but there’s a lot more going on here. Coachella will be their first trip across the ‘Pond’ and they will be hitting the road hard before, after and in the middle of the festival. 

Best Saturday “Bottom-Liners”

Birdy Nam Nam is a four man turntabilist crew from France, and their sound champions a mix of jazz, funk & downtempo. Asses will be shaking.

Action Bronson is fire breathin’ fat fuck who spits mostly about food, and he does it damn well over sick beats. All true.

•Bummed about no Warpaint? Get your girl power on early with Savages (check out the preview above).

•Singer-songwriter Kurt Vile made a delicious record with Smoke Ring For My Halo in 2011, and he’s got a new LP lined up for later this year. Preview his new songs in April.

•If you like Hot Chip, check out The 2 Bears, which is a DJ collaboration between Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard and producer Raf Rundell. Think Hot Chip’s tone with more dancing and less instruments.

Coachella-2013Sunday 2013

Sunday has the “dreaded” Red Hot Chili Peppers headlining, but Wu-Tang will get more love. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and RHCP may create the most empty scene on the main stage ever. Cool dads will profit. On the other side of the field Pretty Lights and Eric Prydz will be spilling ragers outside of the Sahara Tent parameter. If there is a god Tame Impala will get a sunset slot. Where will the house crew consisting of Julio Bashmore, Jamie Jones, Loco Dice, Maya Jane Coles, etc. end up? Sunday has a deep undercard with Grimes, the Faint, Father John Misty, Tanlines, Jessie Ware, Disclosure, Cloud Nothings & Thee Oh Sees.

Sunday Reunions

Wu Tang Clan’s inclusion this year isn’t so much a reunion, but a re-introduction. After talk of a new album around 2011 went quiet, fueled by reserved speculation by some members, it appears this new recording will see the light of day this year, and Coachella will likely mark the beginning of a busy year for RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, and Master Killah.

Possible Collaborations:
Jessie Ware live with Disclosure
Justin Vernon with James Blake

Sunday “Firsts:” (First shows ever/First in the US)

Excision – Many EDM artists are creating bigger, brighter and blinkier stages on the road and festival circuit, and Canadian brostep artist Excision is the next to toss his hat into the ring. Excision presents the Executioner will be making it’s big stage debut at Coachella after a few US dates. It promises to be loud, flashing and full of pre-pubescent kids losing their collective minds. 

La Roux – Even though the synth-pop princess and her producer aren’t a new act to the US or even Coachella, their cancellation from last year is being rectified with a slot in 2013. Look for some new material from this act in the upcoming year after a hiccup in the previous.

Best Sunday “Bottom-Liners:”

•Zachary Cole Smith from Beach Fossils started DIIV (originally “Dive” until they were sued) as a solo project, and their dreamy, building indie songs will put a smile on your face.

Little Green Cars offers five-part harmony anthems in the vein of Local Natives and First Aid Kit.

•The electro-pop group White Arrows put on a great show, and their set can get pleasantly psychedelic and heady at times.

Wild Belle is a prime candidate to be a 2013 breakout group, and their set at Treasure Island Music Festival went over well last October. Elliot and Natalie Bergman’s debut LP will arrive in March.

Subscribe to the Spotify Playlist Coachella 2013.

Coachella 2013