BeachLife Festival taps Jane’s Addiction, Cage the Elephant, Counting Crows & more for 2021 roster

BeachLife Festival - 2021 lineup

BeachLife Festival //
Seaside Lagoon – Redondo Beach, CA
September 10th-12th, 2021 //

What’s summer without a day at the beach?

Whether you’re a fan of the sand or not, we know that it sure wouldn’t be a party down by the shore without a weekend of live music. That’s why after a successful inaugural event in 2019, BeachLife Festival is headed back to the South Bay of Los Angeles County for a second stint after its 2020 edition last May was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic — much like every other major U.S. music festival that was supposed to take place last year.

However, a number of the same acts are still scheduled to perform this September at Seaside Lagoon in Redondo Beach, including Counting Crows, Ziggy & Stephen Marley, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Fitz and The Tantrums, Sugar Ray, G. Love and Special Sauce, Phosphorescent, Save Ferris and more.

Joining Counting Crows and the Marley brothers as the fest’s other headliners will be LA alt-rockers Jane’s Addiction for their first hometown gig since 2017. Fronted by Perry Farrell, the band has not released a new studio album in almost 10 years — since 2011’s The Great Escape Artist — but that doesn’t mean it has forgotten how to put on a show with Cage the Elephant also serving as a Day 1 co-headliner for what should be an epic Friday night.

And even if you’re not a big fan of Jane’s or Cage, there are plenty of other exciting additions on BeachLife’s 2021 lineup with The Revivalists, Men at Work, Portugal. The Man, Silversun Pickups, Gary Clark Jr. and Thievery Corporation standing out among the pack.

Three-day GA and VIP passes are on sale here for $349 and $799, respectively, as well as single-day tickets for $125 (GA) and $299 (VIP). Of course, there’s also the three-day Captain’s pass if you’re willing to shell out a small fortune of $2,999 or $1,250 for one day so climb aboard while you still can!

Outside Lands 2014 night shows: Keep it going ’til the AM

Girls-on-Fire-Main-Stage-TimWritten by Molly Kish //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 8th-10th, 2014 //

We’re only a few weeks away from one of the most anticipated summer festivals of the 2014 season. Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival has announced their official schedule for this year’s five consecutive evenings of night shows. In case you missed this past weekend’s announcement or weren’t privy to the ticket holder password, fret not — we’ve got you covered with our rundown of after-parties and links for you to win or purchase your tickets. The party does not have to stop on the polo field!

View the 2014 schedule and create your custom grid to share with friends!
View our 2014 beer/artist pairings!


Phosphorescent

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 6TH

Phosphorescent @ The Independent // SOLD OUT: Win tickets via Do 415

Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Matthew Houck, aka Phosphorescent, kicks off this year’s lineup of OL night shows with a sold out performance Wednesday night at The Independent. A follow up to last year’s show at the Indy with his five piece band, the Alabama native returns to the venue, bringing his mix of “western ballads and swelling jams” to the intimate venue. On tour promoting his most recent record Muchacho, one can expect to hear standout tracks from this critically acclaimed 2013 release. A perfect Wednesday night warm up for Houck’s Friday set, hardcore fans will be starting their weekend early, and we recommend you do the same!


THURSDAY, AUGUST 7TH

Typhoon @ CA Academy of Sciences // Buy Tickets

Comprised of twelve singers, songwriters and multi-talented instrumentalists, this small army of a band will be bringing their impressive live show to the CA Academy of Sciences on Thursday night. A band whose sound is characterized by their complicated arrangements and articulate orchestration, Typhoon’s catalogue of work ranges from “sea shanties, to country western and Eastern European inspired songs.” Across the board they cover various styles, meld multiple genres and produce thematically dense work, focusing heavily on lead singer-songwriter Kyle Morton’s struggles with mortality and finding strength through personal relationships. A beautiful setting to catch an equally stunning set, grab your tickets here to take part in this OL edition of Nightlife.

Discover our Outside Lands beer pairing for Typhoon.

Glen Hansard @ The Fox Theater // Buy Tickets

Irish songwriter, actor, vocalist and guitarist Glen Hansard will headline the Fox Theater Oakland with opener Sean Hayes on Thursday night as well. Founding member of The Frames and half of the critically acclaimed duo, The Swell Season, Hansard has been creating seminal folk rock internationally for well over a decade. Gaining attention in the states initially for his role in the 1991 film The Commitments, Hansard recorded his first solo album in 2006 with help from Czech singer and mutli-instrumentalist Marketa Irglova, whom he would go on to co-star with in the 2006 Sundance Festival World Cinema Audience Award winning film Once and form the band The Swell Season within the same year. Hansard has since recorded and produced various songs on film scores and compilations, leant opening support for Eddie Vedder’s solo American tour, guest starred on American primetime sitcoms and released his solo debut Rhythm and Repose in 2012. NOT PERFORMING AT THE FESTIVAL, this performance is an exclusive night show only date! Grab tickets to this limited OL affair right here.

Diarrhea-Planet

Those Darlins and Diarrhea Planet @ Brick and Mortar Music Hall // Buy Tickets

It’s going to be a dual-headliner, Nashville rock throw down Thursday night at Brick and Mortar Music Hall. With Those Darlins founding members meeting at the Southern Girl’s Rock & Roll Camp in Tennessee, country roots run deep in the musical history of this band. Formed in 2006, releasing their alt-country debut in 2009, the band fluctuates between traditional southern instrumentation, rockabilly and garage rock. Partners on the bill, fellow Nashville natives and six piece rock band Diarrhea Planet complement the foursome perfectly with their explosive guitar shredding, pop-laden “drunken sing-along” spectacle of a performance. Fresh off of touring their volatile live show to this past year’s South By Southwest, Bonnaroo, Governor’s Ball and various other festival stages (we reviewed their inspiring show at The Indy in 2013), the band brings their energetic ensemble to Brick and Mortar Music Hall for another exclusive night show only performance. Be sure to grab your tix here.

Mikal Cronin and Bear Hands @ The Independent // Buy Tickets

Two separate OL acts for the price of one! Mikal Cronin and Bear Hands, both performing day one of the festival, will be headlining The Independent in a one-off warm up session on Thursday night. Cronin, having released his self-titled debut in 2011, has had a busy few years questioning long term relationships, moving to San Francisco, touring and recording with musical counterpart Ty Segall, forming his own band and releasing his sophomore album MCII as a Merge Records artist. A multi-instrumentalist, Cronin’s gritty garage rock sound blends perfectly with co-headliner Bear Hands’ post-punk influenced indie rock. Fresh off the release of their second studio album, Distraction, Bear Hands’ “New York buzz band” reputation precedes them, gaining the group national attention on several music blogs and entertainment websites. Be sure to grab your tix here.


Soul-Rebels

FRIDAY, AUGUST 8TH

The Soul Rebels @ Brick and Mortar Music Hall // Buy Tickets

Bringing the NOLA funk to Friday’s Outside Lands festival lineup, The Soul Rebels plan to keep the party going well into the evening at Brick & Mortar Music Hall that evening. Fate brought together original members Derrick Moss and Lumar LeBlanc when they met as percussionists in Dejean’s Young Olympia Brass Band. Although trained in New Orleans jazz fundamentals, the two opted to take the traditional brass band sound they were raised on to the next level, incorporating their love for contemporary R&B, funk and hip hop. Branching off in a new direction, the duo left to form their own group, quickly winning over local audiences and officially being christened the “Soul Rebels” backstage before their opening slot for the Neville Brothers, by Cyril Neville himself. Since then the band has released several full lengths albums, set up a residency at Uptown NOLA club Le Bon Temps, have become a staple act at festivals throughout the globe and most recently released a mixtape Power=Power, premiered by Noisey, including brass band renditions of Jay-Z, Drake, Kanye West, Daft Punk and more. Easily the most funky of post festival Friday night festivities, this show will be the dance party of the weekend. Be sure to grab your tickets here.

Death Cab for Cutie @ The Independent // SOLD OUT: Win tickets via Do415

Heavy hitters on Saturday’s OL bill, Death Cab for Cutie bring their iconic indie rock to The Independent for an extraordinarily intimate one night only performance. For 17+ years, DCFC have been impacting the modern shape of indie rock, becoming one of the most prominent mainstream alternative bands during this time. Recording a discography comprised of seven studio albums, five EPs, a demo and numerous side projects/solo efforts, DCFC has carved out a significant place in music history and remain a staple within the contemporary scene both through their continual contributions to music, film and live entertainment. Announcing via social media that they’re in the process of working on their eighth studio album, the group just celebrated the 10 year anniversary of their seminal 2003 album Transatlanticism and released a live album of material from their 2012 tour dates with Magik Magik Orchestra. This show will be one for the books and quite possibly the only time you’ll be able to catch this caliber of a band in a club-sized venue ever again. Register to win a pair of tix here.


The Killers

SATURDAY, AUGUST 9TH

The Killers @ The Independent // SOLD OUT: Win tickets via Do 415

Headlining what is undoubtedly the biggest night annually in the SF music scene, The Killers will be playing to a sold-out crowd at The Independent on Saturday night, preceding their Sunday night closing set at Outside Lands. The Las Vegas foursome formed in 2001 and has become one of the largest names in alternative rock over the past decade with four hit studio albums. Selling over 25 million albums worldwide, the band has garnered mainstream success worldwide after performing in over 50 countries and headlining arenas on six continents. On the 10-year anniversary of their first show ever, The Killers released their greatest hits compilation Direct Hits last September and have been touring the festival circuit and selling out dates around the globe since then. This year’s OSL appearance will be their first at the festival and first show back in the Bay Area since playing the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium last April. Tickets to their pre-festival, late-night show sold out minutes after their release, but there’s still a chance to win a pair of tickets to what easily will be one of the most coveted shows of this year’s summer concert calendar. Register to win a pair of tix here.

Gold Panda @ Mezzanine // Buy Tickets

Multi-faceted producer Gold Panda returns to Mezzanine on Friday night with his genre-bending take on electronic music. With the rise of producers such as Flying Lotus and Flume, many other similar artists are breaking out to larger crowds and stages as forward-leaning electronica garners a new level of popularity and appreciation. Gold Panda represents a vast amalgam of electronic music, borrowing influences from all over the world to weave an upbeat, futuristic tapestry. His latest release Half of Where You Live has been critically hailed as his third stab at a comprehensive full-length album. Tracks like “Brazil” demonstrate his use of South American rhythms in a contemporary manner while consistently maintaining a dance beat. There are no ‘drops’ or huge frills to his dance ethic, but rather a rapturing, constant beat that listeners can lose themselves in rather easily. Ghostly International only signs the finest in contemporary dance music, so it’s no surprise that Gold Panda reps the prolific label. Teamed with local opener Doseone, this after party will keep the positive energy flowing from Saturday night straight into Gold Panda’s festival set that closes out the weekend on Sunday. Purchase tickets for the only electronic night show announced for Saturday.

Woods @ Brick and Mortar Music Hall // Buy Tickets

BK-based Americana neo-psychadelia outfit Woods will be headlining Saturday night at Brick and Mortar Music Hall ahead of their festival set on the final day of OL. The trio have released eight albums since their formation in 2005, which have garnered them both critical acclaim across the board. Dubbed “pop shamanism”, the band is currently on tour celebrating the release of their new album, With Light and with Love, exploring “expanded sonic palettes” heavy with percussion, altered vocals and experimental guitar riffs. Their latest release on their self-run record label, Woodsist, is described as distinctly different from their previous work, “showcasing a more sophisticated brand of contemporary drug music,” relatable to the Beatles iconic Magical Mystery Tour, catering to a “new age of searchers, of Don Juan and Animal Chin alike.” Easily the biggest head trip of the OL night show options — if you’re looking to get weird Saturday night you’re going to want to buy tix here.

Discover our Outside Lands beer pairing for Woods.


SUNDAY, AUGUST 10TH

Deer Tick @ The Rickshaw Stop // Buy Tickets

The ever-rambunctious, consistently capricious, gut punching Americana enigma that is Deer Tick will be closing out the weekend after parties at Rickshaw Stop with help from fellow Saturday OL performers, The Districts. After years of touring with a rotation of band members and various name changes, Deer Tick officially formed and released their debut album War Elephant in 2007. Signing to Partisan Records in 2008, re-releasing their debut along with second and third albums to critical acclaim, the band took off running. On their fifth album Negativity in 2013, the band has aimed to “capture the raw and spontaneous kerosene blaze” of their live shows in their studio recordings. Exploring personal tragedies suffered throughout the recording process such as his father’s tax evasion prison sentence, the death of his uncle, a broken engagement, drug and alcohol abuse, etc., lead singer John McCauley brings brutal honesty to the stage that is an all-encompassing, sometimes tragic, explosive performance. Truly an incomparable performance, this show will be the one that punctuates the weekend with one, final, lasting impression.

Kool and the Gang SuperJam @ The Independent // Buy Tickets

Last but not least, the Kool and the Gang SuperJam will be taking over The Independent Sunday night for a one-time only collaborative concert event, closing out the festival in proper fashion. Featuring members of the legendary funk outfit along with Eric Krasno, Adam Dietch, Nigel Hall, The Shady Horns and top secret special guests, this diverse group of musical luminaries will be on stage reimagining a variety of classic songs from Kool and the Gang. The Grammy Award-winning group have influenced three generations of musicians worldwide, selling over 70 million albums which earned collectively 2 Grammy’s, 7 AMA’s, 25 Top Ten R&B hits, 9 Top Ten Pop hits, 31 gold and platinum albums and the title of the longest running R&B group in the history of the genre. If there is one show where artists from Outside Lands would randomly decide to sit in on a performance, this would be the one. Can’t see yourself wanting to call it an evening on Sunday night? This show might be the best option for you. Be sure to buy your tix here.

OutsideLands2

Outside Lands 2014 daily lineup highlights

Outside-Lands-2013

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 8th-10th, 2014 //

So, three-day tickets for Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival sold out in record time. Now’s your chance to snag single-day passes for SF’s premier music festival. Get ready: tickets go on sale Thursday, April 17th at 10 a.m.

Still choosing which day might be best for you? Here’s our take on the headliner options, along with choice picks and reasons to get there early this August in Golden Gate Park.

OSL-2014

Friday, August 8th

HEADLINER OPTIONS: Kanye West Vs. Arctic Monkeys (or Disclosure)

Yeezus himself will handle headlining duties on day one, but the real question is whether or not Arctic Monkeys or Disclosure will helm Twin Peaks come nightfall. Both acts are worthy of a headlining slot — time will tell.

CHOICE PICKS:

Run the Jewels: El-P + Killer Mike , “Rap’s most dangerous Duo”, are returning to SF after their game changing shows last year at the Independent. Expect top notch beats over future-forward production. In a perfect world they would open for West.



Phosphorescent: Matthew Houck’s understated, twisted take on indie rock is refreshingly breathtaking, exemplified most strikingly by the majestic “Song for Zula”:

Holy Ghost!: Ready for a disco-dance party fed by instrumentals? Yes you are. One of our favorite acts from the last year will set Golden Gate park ablaze.



DIGGING DEEP: (reasons to get there early)

• Mikal Cronin
• Greensky Bluegrass
• Typhoon
• Bear Hands

THE VERDICT: Eclectic with as many rap options as dance choices.

OutsideLands

Saturday, August 9th

HEADLINER OPTIONS: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers vs. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

This one’s going to be a pretty simple choice for most folks — the classic rock singalongs versus the contemporary pop-rap anthems. These headliners starkly contrast from one another.

CHOICE PICKS:

SBTRKT: Known to perform with iconic tribal masks, Aaron Jerome fuses innovative electronic production with drums, synth, keys & live singing, usually with help from touring partner Sampha. SBTRKT’s new EP Transitions delves into icy-instrumental territory.



Atmosphere: Slug and Ant are back this year, and they’ve got a new song entitled “Kanye West”, which doesn’t go after the Day 1 headliner, but it does address hip-hop crowd interactions in a playful, positive way.



Tycho: Scott Hansen is as much a visual artist as he is a musician — his projected imagery melds simple geometry and super slow-mo romanticism and works in hand with his newly cemented band’s ambient, yet driving beats. This one deserves a night time slot, say closing down the Panhandle Stage?



DIGGING DEEP: (reasons to get there early)

• Woods
• Jagwar Ma
• Valerie June
• Trails and Ways

THE VERDICT: Save for a handful of rowdy spots (Macklemore, Duck Sauce, Capital Cities), the offerings are relatively mellow.

OutsideLands2

Sunday, August 10th

HEADLINER OPTIONS: The Killers vs. Tiësto (or The Flaming Lips)

These two options to end the weekend are, once again, clear cut. But here’s hoping Ranger Dave harkens back to the early years and offers a third headliner option in The Flaming Lips. Their drone-psyche spectacle of a freak out deserves darkness and would offer an incredible third option.

CHOICE PICKS:

Cut Copy: Every time these electronic-oriented Australians swing through the Bay Area, we’ll be there. Dan Whitford & Co. will make you dance and reach for the sky.



Lykke Li: The Swedish Songstress is returning to the touring circuit this year, and her first offerings from her forthcoming LP I Never Learn are more sedated than swirling. Li’s ownership of the stage and visceral passion request your attendance.



Flume: Skyrocketing electronic-music amalgamator Harley Streten creates big, bold beats centered by a chill tone. Since releasing his self-titled LP to worldwide acclaim in 2012, he’s brought in a host of top level rhymers to give the music new meaning and fresh life (listen below). We’re excited to see how this influences his live show.



DIGGING DEEP: (reasons to get there early)

• Gold Panda
• Courtney Barnett
• Jonathan Wilson
• Tumbleweed Wanderers

OVERALL VIBE: Sunday has a lot of high-decibel acts. A good day for dance enthusiasts.

Check out our Outside Lands 2014 playlist:

OL 2014 Daily Lineups

Showbams’ 40 best albums of 2013

Best-Albums-of-2013

“Best of” lists are always subjective, and this one is no anomaly. When it comes to the best albums of any given year, we can most likely agree that the best records are excellent from beginning to end — no “skip ahead” songs — and that groundbreaking new music can emerge from any genre.

At the same time, we imprint music on moments in our lives, and this will always influence personal taste. Combine these past influences with modern streaming capabilities in 2013, where new records are now accessible before an album release date, and our collective creation and criticism of music begins to transform, adapt and influence more rapidly.

Here are our most addictive albums of 2013, the records we couldn’t stop spinning.

01. Arcade FireReflektor
02. DisclosureSettle
03. Atoms For PeaceAmok
04. FoalsHoly Fire
05. Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
06. Daft PunkRandom Access Memories
07. Kurt VileWakin On a Pretty Daze
08. James BlakeOvergrown
09. White DenimCorsicana Lemonade
10. Toro Y MoiAnything In Return

11. RhyeWoman
12. DarksidePsychic
13. Boards of CanadaTomorrow’s Harvest
14. The NationalTrouble Will Find Me
15. My Bloody Valentinem b v
16. Sigur RósKveikur
17. Parquet CourtsLight Up Gold
18. Danny BrownOld
19. Holy Ghost!Dynamics
20. Jagwar MaHowlin

21. Run the Jewels (El-P & Killer Mike) – Run the Jewels
22. Washed OutParacosm
23. ClassixxHanging Gardens
24. Hanni El KhatibHead In The Dirt
25. Queens of the Stone Age…Like Clockwork
26. The StrokesComedown Machine
27. Thee Oh SeesFloating Coffin
28. Volcano ChoirRepave
29. A$AP RockyLONG.LIVE.A$AP
30. Anders OsbornePeace

31. Jon HopkinsImmunity
32. Yeah Yeah YeahsMosquito
33. King Krule6 Feet Beneath The Moon
34. Kanye WestYeezus
35. Mount KimbieCold Spring Fault Less Youth
36. Superhuman Happiness – Hands
37. BonoboThe North Borders
38. Tyler, the CreatorWolf
39. PhoenixBankrupt!
40. PhosphorescentMuchacho


Vampire Weekend at Fox Theater Oakland 4/17. Photo by Marc Fong.


Vampire Weekend at Fox Theater Oakland 4/17. Photo by Marc Fong.

Mike Frash // Founder, Editor, Columnist // @MikeFrash

Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
1The focus on larger themes of mortality and spirituality in Modern Vampires of the City have catapulted this indie group from angst-ridden collegians to mainstream players — and in the process Ezra Koenig and company crafted an American classic. Compulsively listenable, this record matured with age in 2013, just like the artistic path Vampire Weekend seem to be on. The album continuously waxes poetically about death and higher powers, and “Unbelievers” sums it up best: “Girl you and I will die unbelievers, bound to the tracks of the train.” The ambiguousness is biting, as it is tough to tell if the statement is earnest atheism or harsh criticism of Godless existence. In “Step”, we’re told, “Wisdom’s a gift but you’ll trade it for youth, age is an honor it’s still not the truth…we know the true death, the true way of all flesh. Everyone’s dying, but girl – you’re not old yet.” Even “Dianne Young” is a double entendre for ‘dying young’. Every track is filled with high-level substance lyrically, but sonically it’s multi-faceted as well, melding baroque sensibilities and African grooves at a wonderfully variant pace throughout. Ultimately, it’s a supremely empowering coming of age album from Vampire Weekend, one that stares mortality in the face while celebrating time’s finite quality.

Run the Jewels (El-P & Killer Mike)Run the Jewels
2Early in Run The Jewels, Killer Mike announces, “Producer gave me a beat, said it’s the ‘beat of the year’, I said ‘El-P didn’t do it, so get the fuck outa here.’ El-P, the sole producer of rap music’s most dynamic duo, bases his production in captivating weirdness, micro-sampling everything from classic organ to nintendo glitch sounds to electric guitar, building epic beats for Killer Mike & El-P to deliver clever rhymes, based both in reality and playful hyperbole. One of Run The Jewels’ greatest successes is that it can be both funny and deadly serious within the same song, and often within in the same flow or line at times. So motherfuckin’ grimy, “Job Well Done” highlights how successfully dolphin sounds can contrast with aggressive lyricism, for example. Killer Mike broaches serious topics, bringing up the “elephant in the room” whenever possible, and EL-P is hyperactive and light-hearted as he spits his ‘future shit’. Put these two together and you have the best hip hop album in years.

FoalsHoly Fire
3The beauty is in the build with Foals, and that is the case with Holy Fire more than prior album as the UK-based festival-headliners-in-the-making have largely abandoned their post-dance punk sound aesthetic for a more ballad-based approach. Sure, “My Number” and “Providence” continue the upbeat, math rock-dance-freak-outs, but overall Foals have centered their 2013 record around patient song development in order to establish more memorable, ecstatic moments. “Milk & Black Spiders” does just that, taking a full three minutes and forty five seconds to reach it’s blissful summit. “Late Night” is a harrowing slow burner, repeating the line, “Calling out your name,” asking for the subject of the song to “Stay with me.” Lead singer Yannis Philippakis’ impassioned vocals, paired with Foals’ guitar interplay and non-standard rhythms make Foals a unique force in the world of modern rock.

The NationalTrouble Will Find Me
4Matt Berninger has a way with words — who else could make the phrase “full of punks and cannonballers” sound eloquent and measured in the track “I Need My Girl”? The National thrives on non-literal lyricism, but the instrumental elements from The National in Trouble Will Find Me prop the singing up on a pedestal better than prior records. Void of any filler, this contemplative record easily allows the listener to take their own meaning from any given track, applying it internally. The first half impresses quickly with “I Should Live In Salt” through “Sea Of Love”, but it is the second half that solidifies the effort as The National’s best work to date. An album that also gets more addictive with subsequent listens, Trouble Will Find Me works well as both a “pick me up” record and one to embrace life’s good times, an odd duality indeed.

Volcano ChoirRepave
5Who needs Bon Iver when Justin Vernon is making music like he has with The Shouting Matches and Volcano Choir in 2013? Vernon, the creative centerpiece behind Bon Iver, announced while promoting Repave that Volcano Choir is his new band. Arguably, this is a genius move, as Vernon is exhibiting a higher level of confidence and innovation with this possibly permanent collaboration with members of Collections of Colonies of Bees. Repave traverses a path that balances grandiose and minimalism, choosing off-beat, unexpectedly contrasting moments to ‘drop the sound hammer’ in both “Comrade” and “Byegone”. “Drop the sound hammer” refers to the mesmerizing technique Volcano choir uses to quickly transition from falsetto-based minimalist intros into hard-hitting Philip Glass-like synth blasts and authoritative drums. I’m fine with Vernon considering himself a legend, as long as he continues creating music with cryptic, poetic lyrics and the progressive intermingling of intense and soothing sounds.

06. Darkside – Psychic
07. James Blake – Overgrown
08. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
09. Rhye – Woman
10. Disclosure – Settle
11. Kurt Vile – Wakin On a Pretty Daze
12. My Bloody Valentine – m b v
13. Atoms for Peace – Amok
14. Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
15. Washed Out – Paracosm
16. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
17. Bonobo – The North Borders
18. Phosphorescent – Muchacho
19. Jagwar Ma – Howlin
20. John Vanderslice – Dagger Beach


Atoms For Peace at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19. Photo by Marc Fong.


Atoms for Peace at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19. Photo by Marc Fong.

Molly Kish // Artist Relations Manager, Columnist // @MollyKish

Atoms For PeaceAmok
1Alternative Rock super group Atoms for Peace delivered one of the most evocative, skillfully executed and notable debuts of 2013, completely as expected. Bringing together some of the most innovative, iconic and artistically defining tastemakers of the past two decades (most notably Thom Yorke & Flea), Atoms for Peace composed a near-perfect representation of contemporary sound evolution. Touring this past year promoting Amok through intermittent concert dates and festival-headlining performances, Atoms for Peace captivated live audiences on a global scale while generating critical acclaim, and for good reason.

Toro Y MoiAnything in Return
2Drawing artistic influence from elements of 90s dance music while paying homage to the iconic hip hop sounds of the era, Chaz Bundick departed from his signature “chillwave” style to compose his third studio album, Anything in Return. Revisiting harder house elements from his 2010 debut Causers of This, Bundick taps into a funky soundscape filled with intensified vocals and hard hitting jam-based percussion. Paying homage to legendary producer J Dilla, Anything in Return touches upon intimate subject matter while remaining accessibly pop-driven, delivering Bundick’s “biggest sounding” album to date.

DisclosureSettle
3UK sibling duo Disclosure was one of the most successful breakout acts of the past year, largely in part to the global commercial appeal of their debut album, Settle. Mixing the perfect blend of R&B vocals, UK garage, two step and deep house cuts, Settle is a seamless composition of dance floor ready hits. Disclosure’s first full length succeeded in curating a sound both primed for the band’s spellbinding live improvisation and the album’s inevitable mainstream sampling and remixes.

Daft PunkRandom Access Memories
4Preceding its April release date with a show-stopping album trailer debut at Coachella (and nationally syndicated on Saturday Night Live) and a video website series presented by The Creators Project, Daft Punk set the bar early this year for the future of mainstream album promotional campaigns. Defying the expectations of their devoted fan base along with the speculatory opinions of many EDM counterparts, Random Access Memories marks the band’s groundbreaking introduction of live musicians into their otherwise strictly electronic body of work. Their most successful album to date, Random Access Memories is a definitive album that highlights the robots’ personal influence, and the effect is a lasting impact on popular music.

Arcade FireReflektor
5Arcade Fire’s Reflektor serves as a testament to their creative ingenuity as a modern art rock group. Its evolutionary sound was produced by nu-disco vanguard James Murphy and features collaborations with David Bowie, Kid Koala and an armada of additional percussionists and recording personnel. Promoted and released through an ingenious guerrilla marketing campaign, intriguing the attention of a frothing worldwide audience.

06. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
07. Kanye West – Yeezus
08. Washed Out – Paracosm
09. Holy Ghost – Dynamics
10. Phoenix – Bankrupt!
11. Devendra Banhart – Mala
12. Major Lazer – Free The Universe
13. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
14. Starfucker – Miracle Mile
15. Cut Copy – Free Your Mind
16. Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
17. Classixx – Hanging Gardens
18. The Strokes – Comedown Machine
19. St. Lucia – When The Night
20. Jay Z – Magna Carta


Thee Oh Sees at Phono Del Sol 7/13. Photo by Mike Frash.


Thee Oh Sees at Phono Del Sol 7/13. Photo by Mike Frash.

Kevin Quandt // Assistant Editor, Columnist // @KJQuandt

Parquet CourtsLight Up Gold
1In a year with many strong rookie efforts (Haim, Disclosure, Lorde, etc.), it was this Brooklyn quartet that rejuvenated garage-tinged, punk rock with a blisteringly fierce debut LP, Light Up Gold. Opening track “Master of My Craft” lets us know we are in for one helluva a ride and it doesn’t let up in the least as Andrew Savage belts out anthems full of modern tales of urban decay and the slacker lifestyle. This we do-whatever-the-fuck-we-want mentality was also clearly present on a recently released EP entitled Tally All the Things That You Broke, which was equally as impressive as the full length. Alas, all is not lost when it comes to irreverent rock music in a sea of shiny synths and EDM takeovers. 

My Bloody Valentinem b v
2If this album was a person, it could legally drink in this country. Now, after that fact settles in, we can concentrate on how impressive m b v actually is. Kevin Shields and cohorts took 22 years to deliver this baby and it is chock-full of all the aural beauty that made these shoegaze legends modern rock royalty a couple of decades ago. Standout final track “wonder 2” is a whirling dervish of otherworldly drums, guitars and distorted vocals, slowly building into one serious rapture. Attention to detail is not lost on this album as meticulous craftsmanship is ever-present, especially when listened to fully, or in the distinct ‘3 EP’ structure that m b v is recorded in. All I ask Kevin Shields is that I don’t have to wait till I’m almost 50 years old to hear another new release from My Bloody Valentine.

Arcade FireReflektor
3There’s little surprise that this ‘double’ release ended in my, and many others, top albums list. Why? Because Arcade Fire make great albums, and I enjoy great albums. The grab bag of influences on this album is truly startling and lends much to it’s overall success whether it be deep Haitian rhythms or the the electro-dance production of James Murphy. With so many standout tracks, it really makes you wonder what they are putting in the water up in Canada. “Joan of Arc”, “Normal Person”, “Afterlife” and so many others create something fully unique and fully Arcade Fire. 

Boards of CanadaTomorrow’s Harvest
4It was a bit of a long wait for fans of BoC, but well worth the interesting journey that was to become Tomorrow’s Harvest and it’s unique marketing campaign which precluded the June release. Not much has changed from the ambient electronic soundscapes that put these Scots on the map nearly two decades ago. What makes Boards so significant is their knowledge of analogue gear they use to transform sound into warm ambience that is loaded with emotion, complexity and cinematic themes. Songs like “Nothing Is Real” fully demonstrate their textbook mix of instrumentation and warm, vintage synths which gracefully paint a picture of the natural world which we live in. It’s albums like this which should make every listener wanna go out and spend four figures on some serious headphones, and Boards of Canada wouldn’t object.

Thee Oh SeesFloating Coffin
5It’s been a long time coming for the San Francisco garage titans that, most popularly, go by Thee Oh Sees. John Dwyer once used this moniker as his solo effort, but eventually became his primary effort, eventually growing from one man to a full blown band. Floating Coffin shows a shifting of the tide as the once tin-can recording sound has matured to a sonic boom of heavy guitar, driving rhythm and quintessential weirdo vocal. All these elements, and many more, equated to the most comprehensive sounding release in their extensive discography. “Come From the Mountain” opens this album with atomic bomb-shredding guitar and doesn’t really relent from this style till the soothing album closer, “Minotaur”. What’s most profound about Floating Coffin is that they have arrived with a permanent lineup, a better produced sound and a band mentality that creates a more unified front as opposed to it being solely Dwyer’s project. Oh yeah, they are also straight bananas on stage.

06. Disclosure – Settle
07. King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath the Moon
08. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
09. Atoms for Peace – Amok
10. Tyler, the Creator – Wolf
11. Jon Hopkins – Immunity
12. Kurt Vile – Wakin On a Pretty Daze
13. Rhye – Woman
14. Danny Brown – Old 
15. David Bowie – The Next Day
16. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires in the City
17. White Denim – Corsica Lemonade
18. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
19. Pickwick – Can’t Talk Medicine
20. Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth


White Denim at Bill Graham Civic Center 10/31. Photo by James Nagel.


White Denim at Bill Graham Civic Center 10/31. Photo by James Nagel.

Pete Mauch // Festival Manager & Columnist // @PeteMauch

Arcade FireReflektor
1All-star collaboration of these Canadian rockers and producer James Murphy proved a success with their fourth release. The album, filled with instant hits like “Reflektor” and “Here Comes the Night Time”, is heavily influenced by traditional Haitian music that adds a deep rhythm to the elongated grooves, but the real treat is how its all tied together. Arcade Fire let loose on Reflektor, finding comfort in initiating a party atmosphere while staying confident with a dash of weirdness.

Jagwar MaHowlin
2There seems to be a psychedelic air blowing in Australia these days, and Jagwar Ma’s debut album is filled with trippy yet danceable songs like the opening pair “What Love” and “Uncertainty”. “Come Save Me” evokes a dream land where the Beach Boys created acid-dance music. This album is gonna get a lot of play on Friday nights for many years to come.

White DenimCorsicana Lemonade
3These Texas rockers put out an intense album in 2013 filled with screaming guitar solos layered over intense time signatures and wailing vocals, but White Denim makes it all sound so simple. Songs like “Pretty Green” and “Cheer Up/Blues Ending” are straight up rocking songs, rooted in the genre’s past while offering a progressive take at where rock is heading. It never hurts to have Jeff Tweedy producing as well.

Daft PunkRandom Access Memories
4The instantly classic single “Get Lucky”, the summer anthem of 2013, is still hyper-catchy, but “Instant Crush”, “Lose Yourself to Dance” & “Doin’ It Right” succeed as pleasantly repetitious tunes that represent a variety of decades. What makes Random Access Memories work completely is all the mellow cuts, perfect for bedtime or a drive down the coast. The music lesson that is “Giorgio by Moroder” just takes off after the ballsy call to include an interview with Giorgio Morodor before launching into an exploratory space jam. 

Anders OsbornePeace 
5Underground New Orleans guitar slayer Anders Osborne released a very impressive long player, filled with deep personal songs that are truly outstanding. Title track “Sentimental Times” showcases Osbornes’ brilliant songwriting, and his guitar work is simply phenomenal and engrossing. Personal favorite “Sara Anne” begins with a reggae feel that builds into a great bouncy song that has me repeating it often.

06. Kurt Vile – Wakin On a Pretty Daze
07. Atoms For Peace – Amok
08. Sigur Rós – Kveikur
09. Superhuman Happiness – Hands
10. Foals – Holy Fire
11. Holy Ghost! – Dynamics
12. Jonathan Wilson – Fanfare
13. Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
14. Darkside – Psychic
15. Bonobo – The North Borders
16. Phosphorescent – Muchacho
17. Savages – Silence Yourself
18. Deerhunter – Monomania
19. Ty Segall – Sleeper
20. Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God


Toro Y Moi at Fox Theater Oakland 11/15.


Toro Y Moi at Fox Theater Oakland 11/15. Photo by James Nagel.

Kevin Raos // Columnist // @Semirec

Toro Y MoiAnything in Return
1Toro Y Moi just keeps getting better and better with subsequent listens. Part dance, part melancholy electro, Anything in Return strikes many different chords. From feelings of longing and romance, to coming to terms with growing up, Anything in Return ranges the emotionally gamut. This album stood the test of time in 2013, being one the first albums of 2013 to make a dramatic impact, then remaining front of mind come Christmas time.

RhyeWoman
2Woman is the mellow album of the year — If you need to relax, fall asleep, or just chill out, this is the album for you. A go-to in the bedroom, Rhye’s Woman also has the uncanny ability to cradle and comfort you from start to finish. Equally as good in a live setting, Woman proves excellent musicianship can flourish in downtempo form. The record’s male vocalist, Milosh, also released an excellent solo record titled “Jetlag” in late 2013 that clicks at a slightly faster tempo.

White DenimCorsicana Lemonade
3Funky, fresh and just downright dirty, the guys from Austin can bring the heat. Corsicana Lemonade is an album that might not make many end of the year album lists, but it should not be overlooked. Cool and collected while still being rhythmically aggressive, Corsicana Lemonade pushes forward an innovative rock sound that should make The Black Keys nervous their throne is currently up for grabs.

Danny BrownOld
4Danny Brown’s Old creates a new genre of hip hop, one with an electronic psyche. Old may offend some and be lost on others, but Brown’s distinctive voice and tongue-flaunting rhymes constitute a “grower”. Here we have a rapper who isn’t afraid to talk about more than banging it out in the streets, and all together Brown breathes more fresh air into a hip hop landscape that has been seeing a resurgence the past few years.

Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
5It’s tough to deny that indie kings Vampire Weekend are on top of their game right now. If you haven’t heard of these A-Punks that escaped from Cape Cod, you surely have been living under a rock. With Modern Vampires of the City, an already huge band has gotten huger, blasting off into new territory more than in previous efforts. Did I mention they shout out Oakland and Alameda, too?

06. Foals – Holy Fire
07. Sigur Rós – Kveikur
08. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
09. Atoms For Peace – Amok
10. Disclosure – Settle
11. James Blake – Overgrown
12. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
13. Darkside – Psychic
14. Kurt Vile – Wakin On a Pretty Daze
15. Jon Hopkins – Immunity
16. Camera Obscura – Desire Lines
17. Wild Belle – Idles
18. Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks
19. Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
20. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle


Classixx at Fox Theater Oakland 11/15. Photo by James Nagel.


Classixx at Fox Theater Oakland 11/15. Photo by James Nagel.

Sean Little // Columnist // @Splittle

FoalsHoly Fire
1Foals have made their best album to date with Holy Fire. It’s a wall of sonic noise mixed with strong doses of angst that starts with “Prelude” and continues to pin listeners to their seats until the last track. The British quintet have produced my number one record of the year, and their live performance is one to see if you haven’t.

ClassixxHanging Gardens
2Classixx made a superb album here. Being a primarily electronic poduction group, their skills show something much deeper and diverse as they move from bouncey disco tracks to deeper, more evocative tracks like “Borderline” where they showcase their ability to craft a tune that hits heart strings and nods heads. Classixx are vastly underrated and should be given a serious listen, even by non-electronic fans.

DisclosureSettle
3What can be said that hasn’t already about this brotherly duo? They hit the scene hard and made a lot of people snap their heads in their direction. Their production quality and use of instruments in their sets has turned many notions of a “DJ” set on its head and opened the doors for a whole new type of set that calls to the crowd more. This album is full of gems that will surely go down in dance history as classics.

Hanni El KhatibHead In The Dirt
4Hanni grew up immensely since his last album and really fine-tuned his sound. This is a pure rock album with no pretense. If you arere tired of pop rock bands trying to make the next iPod commercial-worthy track and long for a record that slaps you in the face to wake you up while still being a tad gentle about it, this is the one for you.

A$AP RockyLONG.LIVE.A$AP
5Hip Hop has fallen to the wayside in years past as electronic has made its resurgence. Fans have grown weary of the over-produced, same old lyric songs that most artists offer. A$AP though brings in, what I consider to be the finest hip hop album of the year. Production by Skrillex, and cameos by Florence Welch, Drake, and Birdyman attest to his range not just as a rapper but as a producer and curator as well.

06. James Blake – Overgrown
07. Queens of the Stoneage – …Like Clockwork
08. The Strokes – Comedown Machine
09. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
10. DJ Koze – Amygdala
11. Atlas Genius – When It Was Now
12. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends
13. Bass Drum of Death – S/T
14. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
15. MS MR – Second Hand Rapture
16. Tesla Boy – The Universe Made of Darkness
17. Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
18. Cut Copy – Free Your Mind
19. Ryan Hemsworth – Guilt Trips
20. The Weeknd – Kiss Land

Treasure Island Music Festival 2013 predictions

TIMF-2013

Treasure Island Music Festival‘s 2013 lineup will be unleashed Tuesday (May 28th), so it got us thinking: Who will perform at the festival on the bay October 19th-20th? This scenic festival usually offers about 25 acts over two days and is conflict-free — no sets overlap.

Our predictions are based on simple research; we take a look at artists that fit into Treasure Island Music Festival’s curation history who also happen to be touring in or around October. Be warned — this is pure speculation. The confirmed lineup will be released Tuesday morning after Memorial Day weekend.

UPDATE: The lineup was announced May 28th, and it’s a good one. We got a handful of artist predictions correct, and remember to snatch up those early-bird tickets when they go on sale Friday at 10 a.m.


Atoms for Peace
Atoms-for-Peace
Thom Yorke and his band of merry players are the first and most glaring treat that is likely to headline Saturday’s traditionally dance, hip-hop and electronic-friendly bill. Their particular tour route puts them right in the Bay Area after a pair of instant sellout shows in Southern California. It appears Thom will will bring the group of Flea, Nigel Godrich, Mauro Refosco and Joey Waronker to stay consistent with this project’s past. Rich rhythmic arrangements and lush synths are certain to keep patrons dancing well into a, hopefully, warm Indian Summer night with the cityscape as one of the best backgrounds a fan can ask for. Their 2010 Fox Theater shows were well received and at capacity, so tickets for Treasure Island this year could go quickly. AMOK received high praises a few months back, and now with a deeper bag of songs to pull from, one can only be thrilled at this lauded fall tour finishing in the Bay.

The Cure
The-Cure
It was rather surprising that this name didn’t appear on the Outside Lands lineup, but what better veteran rock act is there to close out Sunday evening? Though Robert Smith won’t be touring a new record, he will likely have a few tricks up his sleeve after a multi-year tour hiatus, except for a handful of European festivals in 2012. The Cure will be active in October, performing at Austin City Limits, and it’s been nearly a decade since they played the City proper, so what better time than October?

Queens of the Stone Age
QOTSA
Giddy up! Josh Homme and his crew of stony musicians are back for more after a hiatus from touring with his most-famous project to date. With their forthcoming release …Like Clockwork arriving in June, it’s sure to be a busy second half of 2013 for QOTSA as the California band books festival after festival, getting these new tracks into the ears of anxious listeners. One other aspect that we have to look forward to is the inclusion of John Theodore (ex-Mars Volta) as QOTSA’s new drummer, sure to propel the pummeling drive of the Hommes’ quintessential stoner hard rock.

Animal Collective
Animal-Collective
The psychedelic, seizure-inducing LSD flashback of a freakout known as Animal Collective would be a fine fit in TIMF’s scope of artists, and they could possibly headline at this point. They have been touring with Dan Deacon and were forced to cancel a block of dates in March due to Avey Tare’s mondo case of strep throat. Many of these shows have been rescheduled for October, and there is a noticeable gap on their tour docket from October 18th-23rd. AC will also be performing at other music festivals like Austin City Limits and Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit, making a TI performance even more logical.

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick-Lamar
California native Kendrick Lamar has only set foot in San Francisco/Oakland once since releasing his instant classic LP Good Kid, Mad City, and TIMF has provided at least one marquee hip-hop name on the lineup the past three years with Public Enemy, Dizzee Rascal & Die Antwoord (zef-hop?). Let’s hope this continues with a victory lap performance from the Dr. Dre protégé, which seems logical. Lamar will continue a hectic tour schedule through the summer, then he’s on board to perform at Austin City Limits the two weekends prior to Treasure Island.

James Blake
james-blake
Much like Atoms, James Blake has some shows scheduled in the southern region of the state, and one can only make the educated leap that Blake will be featured at Treasure Island this year. With a constantly rising stock, Blake continues feverishly touring his latest release Overgrown, and it’s his year to bring his unique post-dubstep take on soulful balladry to a wider audience. His sunset slot time at FYF in LA last fall was superb, and one can only imagine the beauty of Blake’s set on the tiny rock in the San Francisco Bay. His crossover style makes it difficult to decipher which day he will be featured, but then again that’s one of the best aspects of music today — genre lines are being blurred more and more each year, and Treasure Island Music Fest embraces this quality so well.

Death Grips
Death-Grips
From San Francisco house parties to mid-tier festival act in a short amount of time places this highly-buzzed band square in the crossfires of Treasure Island. An extensive summer tour leaves Northern California off the itinerary, and therefore the Bay Area is likely to get some love come fall. Their brutal stage show has been turning heads, along with their shock-tastic media attention, whether it’s pissing off their label or putting out pornographic album art. Plus, they hail from Sacramento, so it would be a proper nod the region.

Disclosure
Disclosure
Treasure Island has always prided themselves on booking forward thinking, up-and-coming acts, so it would make sense to snatch up the UK two-step/house amalgam that is Disclosure. Having not returned to the Bay Area since the young lads’ banner SF premier last fall leads me to believe this would be an ideal spot to showcase the producer/brother pair. Furthermore, it would be their first under-21 show in the region and would be a perfect warm-up to Atoms for Peace on Saturday.

OTHER LIKELY PERFORMERS @timfsf
MIA
Dan Deacon
Dinosaur Jr
Foxygen
John Talabot
Palma Violets
The Shouting Matches
Savages
Paper Diamond
Phosphorescent
Haim
Autre Ne Veut
Iceage
Mikal Cronin
White Arrows
Social Studies

Phosphorescent’s western ballads & swelling jams light up The Independent

PhosphorescentWritten by Mike Frash ~ Photos by Mark Fong

Matthew Houck may create and produce his music in a solitary environment, but he’s currently touring with a revamped five-piece backing band, including two keyboardists. Lead keyboardist Scott Stapleton stole the show throughout the evening at the Independent Saturday with his ferocious speed, quick dexterity and enthusiastic head-banging. While the keys & synth enhanced Phosphorescent’s sound for most of the show, these instruments did not work in mimicking the violin sounds in “Song For Zula.” This lead single from the new Phosphorescent LP Muchacho is one of the best songs of 2013 so far, but without the strings present, the song loses almost all of the emotion from the record cut, and it sounded hollow.

One of best moments of the night did not include Phosphorescent’s backing band. The first encore song “Wolves,” from Houck’s 2007 record Pride, allowed him to loop the outro lyrics “To wait till those wolves make nice”, essentially adding his own layered harmonization to beautiful effect. The entire group let loose during “Quotidian Beasts,” another standout track from Muchacho. It’s an upbeat track that allows every artist in the group to shine. “Quotidian Beasts” transitions back and forth between the wall-of-sound refrain and the verses, which show off Houck’s unique, crackly voice.

Phosphorescent exhibited a duality of sound from song to song at this live show; the setlist traded back and forth between methodical, western ballads and swelling jams. This is an effective way for Houck to exhibit his music, as things might get a little too mellow otherwise. The track that ended the set seemed aimed at San Francisco. The lonely cowboy desperation in “Down to Go” includes the exclamation-point-lyrics “Leave the city, can’t we go, I mean right now, I know it’s a pity, It’s getting cold…” He must be referring to a San Francisco summer, right?

New Music Tuesday: Justin Timberlake • Black Rebel Motorcycle Club • Palma Violets • Phosphorescent • Low

Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience

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


Justin TimberlakeThe 20/20 Experience

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Pusher Love Girl”
“Suit & Tie”
“Strawberry Bubblegum”

Album Highlights: Justin Timberlake, boy band heartthrob gone full-blown-pop-megastar-actor-sex-symbol, has released one of the most interesting R&B pop albums in years. The 20/20 Experience is an album of two halves. First there’s the radio-edit half, mostly catchy pop tunes that are, for the most part, pretty standard. Then there’s the musical outro half. The dancey half, booty-shakin half. Most tracks on 20/20 are over 7 minutes, and contain an extended dance outro. Songs like “Pusher Love Girl,” “Don’t Hold the Wall” and “Strawberry Bubblegum,” to name a few, have extended dance time. This second half concept is what makes the album so interesting, and it opens the door to unlimited musical possibilities. From the dirty south to jazz clubs, this album touches upon many genres and styles. With The 20/20 Experience, Timberlake can have his cake and eat it, too.

I love it and I hate at the same time. It’s so poppy and produced, yet it hooks you with the musical interludes. There really is something for everyone on this record.

Album Lowlight: This album draws from so much of what has been done in the past. The beat in “Suit & Tie” sounds like an updated version of the beat from Outkast’s “Rosa Parks.” But it works, that’s why it’s so popular.

Takeaway: JT has created an album that contains songs with two distinct halves. The first half, the radio-friendly half, will be heard on AM/FM dials from here to Bombay. The second half, the half that makes me want to buy $10 watered down cocktails and grind on the dance floor until sunrise, will be responsible for unplanned pregnancies for years to come. Don’t expect to have a quiet evening with Pintrest and your hubbie while sipping Gewurztraminer in your snuggie with 20/20. Expect to channel your inner R. Kelly and bump n’ grind to this album. It is this yin-yang dynamic that makes this album worth a listen.

And just when you’ve had enough Justin, Timberlake announced on Monday that the second half to The 20/20 Experience is on the way.

~Kevin Raos


Black Rebel Motorcycle ClubSpecter at the Feast

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Fire Walker”
“Hate the Taste”
“Funny Games”

Album Highlights: This seventh full-length release from the leather clad rockers signifies their return after years off the radar, and they have turned a painful time (death of crew member) into one of their best albums to date. A split album of heavy and mellow rock is evident, but doesn’t detract much as the album acts as tribute to a fallen brethren. Fuzzed out guitar and bass has made it’s way back to the forefront as demonstrated on soul-tinged track, “Hate the Taste.” The brooding tension on “Sell It” is some of the heaviest music out of these guys, and is one track you can’t resist head-banging to.

Album Lowlight: Nothing ground-breaking from this rock band. Though they weren’t active 20 years ago, the album does have a sound that might have been more palpable in the 1990s, alongside bands like Alice in Chains and Tool.

Takeaway: Specter at the Feast features the band’s return to straight ahead garage rock after flourishes in alt-country and outlying styles. Expect a big year from them as this record will win over new fans while fulfilling the desires of almost all longtime fans with a return to the B.R.M.C. sound that launched their career. A must listen for fans of harder-edged music, and a repeater for fans of leather jackets and true rock and roll.

~Kevin Quandt


Palma Violets180

2.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Step Up for the Cool Cats”
“Rattlesnake Highway”
“I Found Love”

Album Highlights: Reminiscent of a western themed battle hymn, the band channels punk rock roots in the format and lyrical structure of “Chicken Dippers”. Equal parts a moody ballad and rockabilly revamp, “Chicken Dippers” showcases both the band’s musical talent and songwriting ingenuity. A creative risk uncommon on most debut albums, Palma Violets pulled this track off with the bravado of seasoned professionals.

Album Lowlight: Sounding more like the band professionally edited this during a studio warm up, the lyrics to “Last of the Summer Wine” are lackluster and the song’s composition is all over the place. This track’s delayed pick up leaves you in anticipation for a climax which is never fully reached, bottoming out awkwardly into a conclusion that even the band talked through while recording. Guess they were that bored.

Takeaway: A stomp box and surf guitar riff lead you into the lo-fi “Best of Friends” that instantly hooks you from the moment Sam Fryer shrieks out the opening lyrics. An homage to the clangy Brit rock singalongs of the late 60’s, Palma Violets produce a rousing garage rock anthem bound to be a crowd favorite during live performances. This track is not only the perfect introduction to the bands overall sound, but also is the strongest representation of their group dynamic on the album.

~Molly Kish


PhosphorescentMuchacho

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Song for Zula”
“The Quotidian Beasts”
“A Charm / A Blade”

Album Highlights: If all “country music” sounded this good, I might be able to move away from the city. The opening “Invocation” and closing “Exit” songs frame Muchacho with such sonically delightful harmonization that the bookend helps all tracks within it shine. “Song for Zula,” the second track on the record, is surely in the running for best song of the year going forward. Matthew Houck’s spiritual voice is matched by a layering and swelling of strings. The track is striking as a timeless song at first listen, and it succeeds while hardly rooting itself in any of today’s trends. “Song for Zula” holds so much emotion it’s cinematic – the song could carry a boring montage to lofty heights and probably will. The third track “Ride On / Right On” is based around a crunchy beat and distorted guitar, creating a contrasting instrumental base for Houck’s vocals. Either way, whether featuring his voice over a symphonic, hopeful chorus or a steady distorted head-bobber, it all works magnificently.

Album Lowlight: The standard country arrangements in “Terror in the Canyons” and “Muchacho’s Tune” cause the tracks to end up hidden within the scope of the record, yet these cuts provide just enough pause to help you realize how easy this record is to absorb, and how addictive it is.

Takeaway: It’s all win for the most diverse-sounding and best Phosphorescent album yet. Muchacho is a soaring LP, and one of the best so far this year. The latter third of the record, from “A New Anhedonia” through the end, might be the strongest section. It’s power lies within “The Quotidian Beasts,” an epic track in the vein of Crazy Horse and The Allman Brothers that might serve as a rambling set-closer live. Instantly catchy yet nuanced, Muchacho achieves an elevated sound quality and long-lasting resonance through varied arrangements that serve as a continuous bed for Houck’s desperate, searching voice.

~Mike Frash


LowThe Invisible Way

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Plastic Cup”
“Holy Ghost”
“Just Make It Stop”

Album Highlights: The subtle guitar and piano work fits perfectly with the angelic harmonies of husband and wife duo of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. The simpleness of this album is what makes the harmonies truly stand out and makes this album special.

Album Lowlight: The pace of the album is really slow, so if you’re looking for a jump start to your day this album is not for you.

Takeaway: Producer Jeff Tweedy from Wilco seemed to stay out of the way in his production duties and let the trio truly shine on their own. The harmonies and lyrics are what stand out on this album, especially the album opener “Plastic Cup,” where Sparhawk explains how our trash will be looked upon as a kings treasure in the future.

~Pete Mauch