Outside Lands 2021 moves to Halloween weekend as Glass Animals, Kaytranada & more join the party

Outside Lands - 2021 lineup

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
October 29th-31st, 2021 //

The past 12 months have been a tense and agonizing time for musicians and live music fans everywhere. With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the concert and festival circuits for months on end, many of us around the world have had to resort to livestreams and drive-in performances to help get us through the chaos until normalcy resumes.

But those days could be coming to an end soon in the U.S. as vaccinations continue to rise and for those who are looking to celebrate Halloween this year in style with both friends and strangers (if you can believe it), look no further than Golden Gate Park when Outside Lands makes its long-awaited return to SF.

While the three-day music festival made the decision in June to cancel any plans for 2020 and instead target August 2021 for its 13th installment, organizers have given us a spooky surprise by shifting the event back more than two months.

Because whether you’re a kid or an adult, who doesn’t love the spirit of Halloween? The new dates scheduled for October will mark the first time that OSL won’t occur during its usual month of August, though those aren’t the only changes that were announced with this latest postponement news.

The fest, in fact, is also giving its 2021 lineup a slight makeover with the additions of Glass Animals, Kaytranada, Lord Huron, SG Lewis, Flo Milli, 24kGoldn, Cannons, Buscabulla, JESSIA, Claud and several others while previously confirmed acts such as Beach House, Bonobo, Polo & Pan, Big Thief, Tones and I, EOB, Parcels, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and The Beths have unfortunately been removed from the poster. And for those hoping to see Tame Impala, Lizzo and/or The Strokes on the Lands End stage, don’t you worry — all three are still set to make their headlining debuts once day turns to night. See the poster above for the rest of the lineup.

Itching to get back out there and ready to don your best festival costume? Three-day GA and VIP passes to Outside Lands 2021 are on sale now with payment plans available for both so don’t forget to purchase your tickets here and check out our Outside Lands coverage over the years here.

UPDATE (March 23rd): Wow! And just like that, three-day GA and VIP passes are sold out. If you’re looking for single-day tickets, stay tuned for more details soon.

Outside Lands - 2021 daily lineups

UPDATE (April 27th): Outside Lands has released its daily lineups for 2021, with The Strokes headlining Friday, Lizzo performing Saturday and Tame Impala on Sunday to wrap up the weekend. Take a look at the daily schedules above before single-day tickets go on sale here for $165 (GA) and $375 (VIP) plus fees starting this Thursday, April 29th at 10 a.m. PT.

Outside Lands 2019

Outside Lands cancels 2020 edition, reveals lineup for 2021 with Tame Impala, Lizzo & The Strokes

Outside Lands - 2021 lineup

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 6th-8th, 2021 //

As most of us know by now, 2020 has been a really rough year for the music industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has completely wiped out the concert and festival circuits, with free live streams and drive-in performances serving as our indefinite replacement during these strange and unpredictable days, weeks and months.

So when multiple major events like South by Southwest, Ultra Music Festival and Coachella canceled their 2020 editions and the entire U.S. shut down in March, it seemed unlikely that Outside Lands would actually transpire this summer.

Now that forecast has been officially confirmed, with the three-day music festival announcing that it will not take over Golden Gate Park during the weekend of August 7th-9th this year. It’s sad news for many in the Bay Area community and beyond, but OSL organizers did their very best to lift fans’ spirits by not only releasing the fest’s 2021 dates but also unveiling its lineup.

The 13th installment, in fact, will see Tame Impala, Lizzo and The Strokes each make their OSL headlining debuts with a solid undercard behind them that’s led by Tyler, the Creator, Vampire Weekend, J Balvin, Kehlani, The 1975, ZHU and Young Thug. The undercard might even be better, though (if you can believe that).

Other notable names on next year’s roster include Khruangbin, Beach House, Bonobo, Nelly, Brittany Howard, Burna Boy, Melanie Martinez, Polo & Pan, Big Thief, Troyboi, Angel Olsen, SOFI TUKKER, EARTHGANG, Tones and I, EOB, Sharon Van Etten, Marc Rebillet, A R I Z O N A, JPEGMAFIA, Dr. Dog, Shiba San, Boy Pablo, Rico Nasty and more. Check out the poster above for the rest of the lineup.

UPDATE (Jan. 12th): As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the country, The 1975 have made the difficult decision to cancel all of their tour dates scheduled for 2021, including Outside Lands in August. The good news is that they’ll be replaced by RÜFÜS DU SOL, who made their OSL debut in 2016 and have swiftly climbed the festival ranks since issuing 2018’s Solace. “We have fond memories of playing the Panhandle stage at Outside Lands five years ago and we are excited to be back this year,” the Australian alt-dance trio says in a statement.

Outside Lands 2021 might feel like a long way away at this point, but it will be here before you know it so don’t forget to purchase your tickets when they go on sale here this Thursday, June 25th at 10 a.m. PT — Eager Beaver passes that were bought in 2020 will also be honored while those who choose to roll over their admission to the following year by July 24th will also have the opportunity to win exclusive upgrades and other prizes — and make sure to check out our coverage from 2019 here.

Outside Lands 2019

Coachella drops 2018 set times & map changes

Coachella 2018

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival //
Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA
April 13th-15th & April 20th-22nd, 2018 //

Breathe easy, Coachellans. All of your scheduling conflicts have finally arrived.

The three-day, two-weekend music and arts festival has delivered this year’s set times just after 7 p.m. PT (7:02 p.m. to be exact), precisely one hour later than it did in 2017.

Part of going to Coachella is having to make some tough decisions when it comes to choosing which artists to see, and veterans like ourselves have become quite used to experiencing this #FirstWorldProblem over the years.

But now that the cat is out of the bag, you can start mapping out your 2018 schedule if you’re headed to the Empire Polo Club this weekend.

So, what’s your biggest conflict on this year’s schedule and who are you most excited to see?

WEEKEND 1 SET TIMES

Coachella 2018 - Friday set times

Coachella 2018 - Saturday set times

Coachella 2018 - Sunday set times

WEEKEND 2 SET TIMES

Coachella 2018 - Friday set times

Coachella 2018 - Saturday set times

Coachella 2018 - Sunday set times

Over the last several years, it has become more common to see the folks at Goldenvoice make some slight tweaks to Coachella’s Weekend 2 set times after the first weekend ends (the most notable might have been in 2015 when Florence Welch broke her foot during her performance Sunday on the main stage), and the same has proven to be the case in 2018, starting on Day 1 with Benjamin Clementine’s set being moved from the Gobi Tent to the Coachella Stage. Rick G., meanwhile, has been moved into Clementine’s 1:30 p.m. slot in the Gobi Tent, with DMM no longer preceding it at 12:30 p.m.

Some other noteworthy changes for Friday are Fisher, who didn’t perform during Weekend 1 but will replace B.Traits in the Yuma Tent, and Late Night Laggers, who were the first act to perform in the Sahara Tent on Day 1 but won’t be back for Weekend 2. Absent from Friday’s Mojave Tent lineup is Smiles Davis, which consequently has pushed Francesa Harding’s set back to 12:25 p.m., and Chulita Vinyl Club has replaced Jim Smith.

On Saturday, hip-hop producer Ahwlee will fill in for Salami Rose and Joe Lewis in the Mojave Tent, while Ron Gallo has been moved from the Gobi Tent, which lost Birdtastique and added Loboman, to the Sonora Stage, where Bane’s World, Otoboke Beaver and Mild High Club have all moved back one hour and five minutes to make up for the loss of R.O.C. Furthermore, Feel Good Green has replaced Palm Desert DJ Alf Alpha at the Outdoor Theatre, and Mexico City’s N.A.A.F.I. has been added to the Sahara Tent lineup in place of Jimbo Jenkins. The Coachella Stage also now has an eighth performer, with Gabe Real + Juicewon kicking things off at 1:25 p.m. on Day 2.

The third and final day of the festival’s second weekend sees the removal of Gabe Real from the Coachella Stage, leaving LION BABE as its first act to perform, while Los Angeles-based producer nostradahm will fill in for Juice won at the Outdoor Theatre. In the meantime, the Gobi, Mojave and Sahara Tents will each have new openers on Sunday: mr. rotu (replacing Phantom Thrett), VNSSA (replacing Pax) and EMME (replacing CVSS), respectively. And we couldn’t not mention that Jessie Ware’s set at the Outdoor Theatre has been moved back 15 minutes (as well as MAGIC GIANT’s by 10 to 2:25 p.m.), meaning that Weekend 2 attendees will have to settle for only 35 minutes from the UK singer-songwriter rather than 50.

Coachella 2018 - Weekend 2 set time updates

UPDATE (April 20th): Weekend 2 changes! Goldenvoice has announced some more tweaks to the schedule, with Jessie Ware moving from the Outdoor Theatre at 5:55 p.m. on Sunday to the Coachella Stage at 2:50 p.m. on Saturday (we have to think it has something to do with Cardi B performing around the same time after she drew one of the biggest crowds during Weekend 1). The other alterations are related to Sunday’s set times in the Sahara Tent, as Illenium (now at 6:35 p.m.) and French Montana (now at 8:05 p.m.) have switched places. Petit Biscuit will still precede both at 5:10 p.m., while chart-topping hip-hop trio Migos are expected to hit the stage at 9:30 p.m., although we’ll see if they’re a little more punctual this time compared to the first weekend of the festival, technical difficulties and all. Of course, we recommend downloading the Coachella app on your mobile device to receive the latest updates if you’re out in Indio for the festivities.

MAP

Several hours before revealing its Weekend 1 set times, the festival unveiled this year’s map, and it looks quite a bit different in comparison to some of Coachella’s past editions.

Last year, Coachella made some notable changes to its map, with the Mojave and Gobi Tents switching places and the addition of a third VIP section named “Hacienda Del Toro” that sat in between the Gobi and Sahara Tents. Goldenvoice even offered an updated location for the GA beer garden on that side of the polo field, which was supposed to improve the traffic flow behind the Sahara Tent, though we’re not sure it totally worked to be honest.

Now, the Mojave Tent has been moved far away from the Gobi Tent and into the same area that the Sahara Tent once occupied (next to the VIP Rose Garden). In its place will be the Sonora Stage, which Coachella introduced last year, with the third VIP section (no longer named “Hacienda Del Toro”) directly behind it rather than off to the side. The Gobi Tent, meanwhile, has moved back to its old confines closer to the Outdoor Theatre, where the Mojave Tent was located just a year ago.

Coachella - 2018 map

Another brand-new addition for Goldenvoice’s signature event is the Indio Central Market, a covered food hall that will feature 15 different restaurants and be situated behind the Sonora Stage. Inside will not only be New York City burger chain Shake Shack for the very first time, but also street food stand Cena, Moby’s vegan restaurant Little Pine and David Chang’s fried chicken sandwich shop Fuku. So, make sure to come hungry if you’re going to Coachella this year — we know we will.

But the biggest modification to the fest’s layout has to be the Sahara Tent’s new home after seeing the massive stage outgrow its longstanding location over the last decade. Positioned next to the main entrance, it will sit just in front of the Cantina and Beer Barn with the iconic ferris wheel and The Do LaB Stage nearby. And from what we can decipher by looking at the map, it appears that the Sahara Tent will be not as long as it used to be, but instead wider, a structural adjustment that was likely made to fit the space within the grounds.

We’ll make sure to give our two cents about these changes and much more when we return from the desert to share our favorite moments from this year’s installment, but as we often like to say around this time … Happy Coachella!

Coachella wastes no time, revealing 2018 lineup headlined by The Weeknd, Beyoncé & Eminem

Coachella - 2018 lineup

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival //
Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA
April 13th-15th & April 20th-22nd, 2018 //

Well, that didn’t take long.

Just one day into the New Year, and Coachella has already revealed its 2018 lineup, signaling to music fans worldwide that festival season isn’t far off.

After it was reported almost two weeks ago that this year’s headliners would be The Weeknd, Beyoncé and Eminem, that indeed will be the scenario, marking the first time in all 19 years that the three-day, two-weekend event won’t have a rock act topping its bill (a real sign of the times as some might say). Coachella’s 2018 edition will also serve as Beyoncé’s official debut after being forced to cancel last year due to pregnancy, as well as Eminem’s (the only time he has appeared was as a guest back in 2012 during Snoop Dogg’s and Dr. Dre’s headlining set). The Weeknd will be back on the polo fields for the first time since 2015, when the R&B singer closed the main stage on Saturday night as a sub-headliner after Jack White’s headlining slot.

Other notable names listed on the festival’s famed poster this year include HAIM, ODESZA, Kygo, Jamiroquai, Portugal. The Man, David Byrne, St. Vincent, The War on Drugs, alt-J, A Perfect Circle, Fleet Foxes, Chromeo, MØ, Chic feat. Nile Rodgers, Kamasi Washington and Jungle. The undercard, meanwhile, does feature some buzzworthy indie-rock acts such as Perfume Genius, BØRNS and King Krule, but as was the case in 2017, there continues to be more of a focus on hip-hop and R&B, as evidenced by this year’s headliner selections along with the second-line poster placement of SZA, Tyler, the Creator, Migos, Vince Staples, Post Malone, Cardi B and Miguel.

Coachella’s first weekend is scheduled for April 13th-15th, with its second weekend slated for April 20th-22nd. All tickets will go on sale for both weekends this Friday, January 5th at Noon PT here.

Got your sights set on the California desert this April? Relive our five favorite moments, from Radiohead to Kendrick Lamar, after last year’s festival.

Coachella 2017

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2017

Coldplay at Levi's Stadium


Coldplay at Levi’s Stadium // Showbams’ Photo of the Year, by Steve Carlson

Let’s be frank: 2017 had its ups and downs. And when it came to the political sector in this country, it was mostly the latter during Year 1 of the Trump administration. But as art often does in times of turmoil, music flourished in new and exciting ways. From stripper-turned-rapper Cardi B topping the charts to veteran alt-psych rockers Portugal. The Man filling the airwaves for Top 40 radio stations all over America, there were plenty of unexpected twists and turns this year. Amid all of them, we still managed to consume a healthy diet of music, both live and recorded, and once again it’s time for us to ante up our annual “Best of” lists, much like we have done each of the past few years (see our 2016 picks here).

So, without further ado, Showbams presents The Bam Team’s five favorite shows, albums and songs from 2017.

See our favorite performances from 2017 here.

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2017:


Nine Inch Nails at FYF Fest 2017


Nine Inch Nails at FYF Fest 2017 // Photo by Josh Herwitt

Josh Herwitt // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2017
1. Tool at The Gorge Amphitheatre – George, WA – June 17th
What could be a better bachelor party than getting to watch your favorite band at the most scenic outdoor music venue in the U.S.? Seeing any concert at The Gorge would likely be a surreal experience, but my first trip to Washington’s holy grail was that much more special with Tool returning to the amphitheater for the first time since 2006. And even though their gap between albums has stretched to more than 10 years, Maynard and company still know how to elevate the live show to new heights both sonically and visually. Talk about a dream come true for this die-hard fan.

2. Nine Inch Nails at FYF Fest – Los Angeles, CA – July 23rd
3. LCD Soundsystem at Hollywood Palladium – Los Angeles, CA – November 18th
4. Gorillaz at The Forum – Inglewood, CA – October 5th
5. Radiohead at Coachella, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 14th

Top 5 Albums of 2017
1. The War on DrugsA Deeper Understanding
Adam Granduciel had to know that it would take a monumental effort to match, let alone top, 2014’s Lost in the Dream (one of our favorite albums that year), but The War on Drugs’ primary songwriter and band leader delivered another masterpiece in late August with the release of A Deeper Understanding. It’s an album that will touch your heart and soothe your soul as the LP moves seamlessly from one track to the next, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a much better soundtrack for the road over the last 10-15 years. A Deeper Understanding doesn’t need to win a Grammy in 2018 to validate its legitimacy as an Album of the Year candidate, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt either.

2. Slowdive – Slowdive
3. The xx – I See You
4. The National – Sleep Well Beast
5. Grizzly BearPainted Ruins

Top 5 Songs of 2017
1. The War on Drugs – “Holding On”
There’s something about Adam Granduciel’s guitar playing that will make you want to play air guitar, and maybe no better example of that is the second single from The War on Drugs’ fourth studio album A Deeper Understanding. For nearly six minutes, Granduciel takes his listeners on a ride through peaks and valleys, as the song finishes with him doing what he does best: shredding. But what makes “Holding On” even more powerful is its music video starring actor Frankie Faison, who plays a middle-aged man coping with his wife’s passing. It’s a sad, yet touching story written by Granduciel’s girlfriend, Krysten Ritter, that offers an important reminder about love and just how precious it is.

2. Kendrick Lamar – “DNA.”
3. Washed Out – “Hard to Say Goodbye”
4. The National – “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”
5. Nine Inch Nails – “Less Than”


Sigur Rós at Greek Theatre Berkeley


Sigur Rós at Greek Theatre Berkeley // Photo by James Nagel

Brett Ruffenach // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2017
1. Solange at FORM Arcosanti – Arcosanti, AZ – May 12th
Taking the stage in the amphitheater of Arcosanti, a scenic artist compound that’s built into the canyons sitting north of Phoenix, Solange and her nine-piece crew brought her critically acclaimed LP A Seat at the Table to life right before our eyes. As an album entrenched in the modern experience of the black woman, Solange’s live production turned these themes into one visually stunning, intricately choreographed and sonically vibrant experience, coupled with a subtle balance of strength and vulnerability. Deep bass, soaring harmonies and tight rhythms made each song a joy to watch, including older hits like “T.O.N.Y.” After a year that was as emotionally taxing as 2017 was, it was a breath of fresh air to watch Solange present her own truth, her own experience with such bravado and mastery.

2. Gorillaz at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival – San Francisco, CA – August 11th
3. Sigur Rós at Greek Theatre – Berkeley, CA – April 8th
4. Mitski at FORM Arcosanti – Arcosanti, AZ – May 13th
5. Kevin Morby at Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA – September 23rd

Top 5 Albums of 2017
1. Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Pure Comedy captures a different perspective in this politically drenched culture we’re in now — one that chooses to embrace the insanity of it all and laugh, as privileged and unhelpful as that might be. “She’s like, ‘Oh great, that’s just what we all need / Another white guy in 2017 / Who takes himself so goddamn seriously'” croons Josh Tillman. His lyrics in “Leaving LA” are just one of several scores of quotable lines that fill this nihilist-yet-comforting, saddening-yet-hilarious album. Being a privileged white man who lives in a liberal bubble, this album marks the definition of a guilty pleasure for me. Pleasure, because it is sharp, honest and bold. Guilt, because I am capable of even laughing in the first place.

2. Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder
3. Sylvan Esso – What Now
4. Lorde – Melodrama
5. Brockhampton – SATURATION II

Top 5 Songs of 2017
1. Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – “Over Everything”
Its jangly guitars and wonky rhythm, combined with the chemistry of Courtney Barnett’s and Kurt Vile’s singing and occasional harmonizations, make “Over Everything” my favorite song of 2017. It’s an instant earworm — the cadence of Barnett’s and Vile’s lyricism gives the duo a distinct identity but still allows them to come together at the right moments to make the song feel whole. And after watching them make their live debut at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass earlier this year, they continue to raise my spirits and remind me to wear earplugs.

2. Real Estate – “Darling”
3. Selena Gomez – “Bad Liar”
4. Kendrick Lamar – “DNA.”
5. Bonobo – “Bambro Koyo Ganda”


J.I.D at Day N Night Fest 2017


J.I.D at Day N Night Fest 2017 // Photo by Rochelle Shipman

Rochelle Shipman // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2017
1. J.I.D at Day N Night Fest – Anaheim, CA – September 9th
The J. Cole-signed rapper proved to be much more than just another name from Atlanta with a nonstop, energetic set that established him as a young goat. Keep tabs on this one.

2. Sonder at The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever – Los Angeles, CA – April 19th
3. Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals at FYF Fest – Los Angeles, CA – July 21st
4. Gorillaz at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival – San Francisco, CA – August 11th
5. Erykah Badu at FYF Fest – Los Angeles, CA – July 22nd

Top 5 Albums of 2017
1. Smino – blkswn
This album brings nothing but warm vibes and impressive wordplay from the fast-rising St. Louis emcee. Since it dropped in March, not a week goes by that I don’t bump this debut for me and all my neighbors.

2. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
3. Dirty Projectors – Dirty Projectors
4. Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps
5. Tyler, the Creator – Flower Boy

Top 5 Songs of 2017
1. Smino – “Anita”
The dude rhymes “ice cream” with “chocolate” and gets away with it. Enough said.

2. Cardi B – “Bodak Yellow”
3. Dirty Projectors – “Up in Hudson”
4. Vince Staples – “Love Can Be…”
5. Phoebe Bridgers – “Funeral”


Slowdive - Slowdive

Andrew Pohl // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2017
1. Slowdive at Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – October 28th
This was my first time seeing Slowdive, and they completely took my breath away. It was one of those perfect shows in which the sound was on point, the band brought its A game and the visual elements complimented the music just right. They played cuts from their entire catalog, and by the end of the night, the audience was completely happy.

2. Quicksand at Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA – September 8th
3. LCD Soundsystem at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco, CA – November 15th
4. Band Together Bay Area: Metallica, G-Eazy, Rancid, Dave Matthews, Dead & Company and Raphael Saadiq at AT&T Park – San Francisco, CA – November 9th
5. Roger Waters at Oracle Arena – Oakland, CA – June 10th

Top 5 Albums of 2017
1. Slowdive – Slowdive
A totally perfect album from start to finish. There have been a lot of bands that have emulated Slowdive’s dream-pop/shoegaze sound over the past few years, but this album, their first in 22 years, proves why the UK group is one of the genre’s true originals. Lush soundscapes, paired with gorgeous vocals, made for what was easily my most-listened-to album of the year.

2. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
3. Quicksand – Interiors
4. Versing – Nirvana
5. Hobosexual – Monolith

Top 5 Songs of 2017
1. Quicksand – “Illuminant”
I had been waiting so patiently for the new Quicksand album to drop, and when they released this single, it was one of those completely satisfying musical moments. From that opening riff to the breakdown, “Illuminant” showcases the post-hardcore band’s evolution since the early 90’s while remaining true to its roots. Interiors is a fantastic album front to back, but this song is the one that stands out the most.

2. Slowdive – “Star Roving”
3. Elbow – “Magnificent (She Says)”
4. LCD Soundsystem – “Call the Police”
5. Versing – “Body Chamber”

Showbams_Sticker_Rectangle2

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

New Music Tuesday: Tyler, The Creator • Alkaline Trio • Cold War Kids • The Black Angels • Charles Bradley

Tyler, The Creator - Wolf

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


Tyler, The CreatorWolf

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Jamba”
“Colossus”
“IFHY”

Album Highlights: “Wolf” opens Tyler’s new album, flexing his pension for odd intros before bursting into “Jamba.” At this point, you are either nodding along with the analog-sounding beat and rhymes or have turned off the album in disgust. This is the nature of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All’s ringleader. Love or hate him, Tyler has churned out a stylish album full of profanity and confessional sincerity. “Slater” features the smooth vocals of Frank Ocean, just one of many guests, including most of Odd Future along with Pharrell Williams and Erykah Badu.

Album Lowlight: As long as you can take his obscenity with a grain of salt, realizing this is his “art,” you will enjoy this album if a fan of off-kilter hip-hop. Many people may write off the whole thing as juvenile, but once you look past that there is lots of fun to be had on this release.

Takeaway: Wolf is a wild romp of an album, as is to be expected from the off-the-wall personality that is Tyler, The Creator. The pace of the album is a bit reserved, which is refreshing coupled with the blistering baritone voice of Tyler. Maturity may come slow for this crew, but that certainly does not mean there isn’t a fair amount of talent shining through all the obscenity and profanity.

~Kevin Quandt


Alkaline TrioMy Shame Is True

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Kiss You to Death”
“The Torture Doctor”
“I’m Only Here to Disappoint”

Album Highlights: “Kiss You to Death” is my personal favorite, as it has a style similar to the songs that gave Alkaline Trio its start. Staccato guitars and big break downs with harmonic vocals that play on the juxtaposition of love, life and death all come together in this track to make you nostalgic for their earlier works, when all the songs seemed to have this same energy and feeling behind them.

Album Lowlight: “Only Love” was a bit of a snoozer to me, and it just sounded like they needed to throw in a more down tempo, change of pace song. It’s also just plain boring, with the chord progressions being pretty repetitive and the slight organ sound in the background just making it seem overproduced and more formulaic pop than the other songs.

Takeaway: “The Torture Doctor” grew on me the more I listened to it. It’s got enough energy and harmony to bring back memories of their older work, but enough maturity to give hope that the band’s particular brand of pop infused, tongue in cheek dark rock can keep going for years to come without sacrificing quality. Overall the album wasn’t amazing, but it has a handful of tracks that will entertain old fans and new fans alike.

~Sean Little


Cold War KidsDear Miss Lonelyhearts

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Miracle Mile”
“Lost That Easy”
“Tuxedos”

Album Highlight: Packing a punch with “Miracle Mile”, Cold War Kids kick off their fourth album with a track that gives established fans, new listeners and soon-to-be-converts a friendly reminder of just how talented of a powerhouse act they are. Nathan Willet’s vocals reign true, but aren’t necessarily the focus of this piano driven, guitar heavy track. Regardless of where this pop-rock anthem fits into a live set, it will undoubtedly get the crowd on its feet screaming along with the falsetto laced call-response chorus.

Album Lowlight: Although characteristic for the band to throw a couple slow, drawn-out tracks on each album, “Dear Ms. Lonely Hearts” almost is trying to be too epic. The initial build-up prepares you for what lies ahead, but it takes too long to kick in to the remainder of the song. Once past the initial lyrics and operatic drum rolls, the song still remains sub par and simply gets by on the Willet’s vocal skills.

Takeaway: An unexpected electronic effort, Cold War Kids masterfully execute their dance-rock track “Loner Phase”, showcasing their versatility as songwriters and ability to assimilate to current musical trends. Known as a band with a pension to branch out style-wise, this track ups the ante creatively and brings a whole new level of intensity to the band as they teeter between indie rock and mainstream success.

~Molly Kish


The Black AngelsIndigo Meadow

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Don’t Play with Guns”
“Indigo Meadow”
“Evil Things”

Album Highlights: The opening three songs to Indigo Meadow are the heavy hitters in the bunch, especially the first single “Don’t Play with Guns”, which is dark, psychedelic and could easily come from prior generations if you didn’t know better. The title track and opening song “Indigo Meadow” sets the stage quite nicely for the whole album, which contains The Black Angels’ signature psych-rock.

Album Lowlight: Indigo Meadow fucking rocks, but a few songs were a little too polished. I love the dirty acid rock that these guys started playing almost a decade ago in a grungy garage in Austin. Don’t stray too far.

Takeaway: If you dig the psychedelic sounds of the Velvet Underground and Jefferson Airplane, then I would definitely recommend Indigo Meadow. A casual listen will not do this album justice. You must listen to it loud and late at night — and you’ll get the idea.

~Pete Mauch


Charles BradleyVictim of Love

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Love Bug Blues”
“Strictly Reserved for You”
“You Put the Flame on It”

Album Highlights: Charles Bradley, The Screaming Eagle of Soul himself, is back with his sophomore release Victim of Love. Just like 2011’s No Time For Dreaming, Bradley pours his soul out with every song he sings. This man bleeds soul. Victim of Love continues where No Time For Dreaming left off, full of sounds reminiscent of the 60’s and 70’s. You won’t know what decade you’re in when listening to Charles Bradley.

Album Lowlight: Don’t get me wrong, Bradley oozes and drips soul from every pore of his body, and as great as this style is, it feels somewhat pedestrian at times. Not much new musical ground is broken with Victim of Love, but that’s not the point. This album is all about the funk, soul and Bradley’s emotional release, which is very apparent with this record.

Takeaway: They don’t call him The Screaming Eagle of Soul for nothing. Charles Bradley is a modern day soul singer who draws comparisons to James Brown and Otis Redding. That’s quite a pair to be associated with, but who else is doing what Bradley is doing these days?

~Kevin Raos

Mystery emcee Captain Murphy revealed to be Flying Lotus

Captain-Murphy

Captain Murphy, an unknown hip-hop pseudonym, seeped up from the underground no more than a couple of weeks ago, making the rumor mill work overtime to unmask this mystery emcee. Theories swirled after a track released for “Adult Swim” featured the name Captain Murphy along with Flying Lotus and Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt.

Flying Lotus feat. Earl Sweatshirt and Captain Murphy – “Between Friends”

After a few weeks of inactivity, the mix tape Duality was released to much fanfare and accolades, both due to the variety of production and rhymes. The vocals tend to sound slightly altered, which fueled the rumor that it may be more than one artist. Some thought the lyrical quality lent itself to the Odd Future camp and may be some combination of Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, The Creator, and rumors swirled around with links to Flying Lotus, who also was a possible addition to the audio-tweaked stew. Some even thought it was a collaboration between the Low End Theory crew with up-and-coming wordsmith, Zeroh, a young LA writer and performer.

Zeroh – “Barkpench”

The mix of production featured on Duality is a variably “who’s who” of beat producers, the bulk hailing from Los Angeles. Production credits include Jeremiah Jae, Madlib, Teebs, Just Blaze, SAMIYAM and the mega-hot TNGHT. One of the best tracks on the release utilizes TNGHT’s track “Bugg’n”, a big beat that has been begging to be flowed over.

Captain Murphy – “Shake Weight”

Captain Murphy – “The Prisoner” (Live at The Airliner)

Then last week, it was announced that Captain Murphy’s identity would be revealed at The Airliner on Wednesday, November 28th at the weekly staple, Low End Theory. The masses arrived early, which is pretty standard at this progressive Thursday night church, and not long after, a caped and masked man took the stage to Gaslamp Killer on the controls. He stood tall, and most in the know figured it out quickly. Stephen Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, was in fact the mysterious voice spitting semi-obscene rhymes over a surprisingly refreshing mix tape.

Earl Sweatshirt – “Between Friends” (Live at The Airliner)

Earl Sweatshirt decided to make a rare stage appearance for “Between Friends” at The Airliner, donning his signature fishing hat and grinning ear to ear. One can only hope he starts to get more stage confidence as many wait on baited breath for any release or semblance of a tour.

A deluxe edition of Duality features a track-by-track breakdown, a plethora of psychedelic artwork and even instrumental versions of the tracks. The accompanying videos on the Captain Murphy website have a great visual quality, which further enhances the total package.

There has not been much from the camp since the unveiling, and like Earl Sweatshirt, one can only hope for more shows and polishing from this promising project. Flying Lotus’ critical ascent appears to have larger wings than once thought.