Album review: Black Lips – Underneath The Rainbow {Psych/Garage Rock}

March 20, 2014 in Album reviews, Classic Rock, Garage Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Surf Punk

blacklipsunderneaththerainbow

REX’S RATING: 10 / 10

KEY TRACKS: 

“Dog Years”
“Drive-By Buddy”
“Funny”
“Dorner Party”
“I Don’t Wanna Go Home”

If you haven’t listened to the Black Lips before, then in order to truly enjoy the Underneath The Rainbow listening experience you’re going to need to get familiar with some of their past work. Maybe start off with this wicked track, then dabble around here a little bit before moving on to here and here, and then tip toe around here before you end off here. Actually, maybe while you’re at it, check out here and here too.

So now that you’ve got edumacated and stuff you can probably grasp what the Black Lips (and ultimately, Underneath The Rainbow) are/is all about. It’s hard to pin the band down to a specific, defined sound because that would be too boring and predictable. And the Black Lips are anything but boring and predictable. Their sole purpose is to evoke a reaction out of you before they violate you; but most importantly, they want your undivided attention. Badly. (Oh who am I kidding, they just want to violate you).

If you’re familiar with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, then you’re probably already well aware of the game that the Black Lips are trying to play here: They mirror past genres and classic rock greats to grab your attention, throw in a few odd-sounding instruments and vocals to make you kink your head a little bit and give a good, honest side-eye, and then finish you off by totally blowing your mind out of its skull. And by the time they’re done with you they’re either going to make you feel a wave of ultimate delight or total profound disgust. Do you laugh? Do you scoff? It’s all just part of playing the Black Lips’ game.

And with Underneath The Rainbow, the Black Lips continue to succeed at evoking all sorts of different emotions and reactions out of the listener. There’s songs that make you laugh (“Dorner Party”), songs that make you cry (“Dog Years”), and even songs that make you shit your pants in fear (“Do The Vibrate”). There’s also a palette of different sounds, instruments, vocals, rhythms, as well as screams, whoops, hollers and grunts. (And whistles. Don’t forget the whistles). Not to mention that “Boys In The Wood” is like the White Stripes-meets-George Harrison, “Drive-By Buddy” sounds like The Rolling Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown,” and “Dandelion Dust” sounds like Queens Of The Stone Age-meets-The Black Keys (and the fact that Patrick Carney produced seven out of the 12 tracks on the album is not lost on me).

But what I enjoyed most out of the album was its opener and closer, which are possibly two of the best songs I’ve heard from the group yet. The intro “Drive-By Buddy” sets the tone for the album perfectly with a nitty-gritty lo-fi version of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” and in doing so direct their focus on the album’s target audience: The outsiders. The Breakfast Club-ers. The kind of people who refuse to conform to normal, everyday society. But it doesn’t stop there. There’s also the epic closer “Dog Years,” which acts as a sort of teary-eyed send-off as you prepare to finish the album and go about your merry way. And one of the highlights on the whole record for me is the epic half-spoken, half-chanted monologue at the song’s two minute mark:

“You came to the party and you stepped outside / You grabbed your Virginia Slim Ultra-Light Menthol 100s crushed soft pack / You lit a match and the puny flame could barely withstand the wind / You looked at me so wild / You blew smoke into my draping eyes / And it burned as the carbon dioxide activated my pulsating retinas / Staring back at you in awe / Like some cutting-edge piece of technological equipment / I knew you were the one.”

Swoooooooooooooooooooooon.

But as I’ve mentioned before, the Black Lips are always full of surprises; and even as a fan for many, many eons they still managed to shock-me-shock-me-shock-me with their deviant punk behaviour. I couldn’t help but be stunned after hearing the group tread into more poppy, surf punk territory – even though they’ve been dabbling around in that genre for the few past albums now – but on Underneath The Rainbow it comes out in full-force. Some fans and/or critics may not like this new vibe (best heard on tracks like ”Smiling,” “Make You Mine,” and “Waiting”), but I can gauran-fucking-tee that this is just part of the Black Lips’ plan, and their next album is bound to have a totally different genre thesis. And believe me, there WILL be another album. The almighty Black Lips are music-making nerds like that.

So on the one hand, I can see why the album has received such uneducated mediocre reviews (maybe the critics should have followed my descriptive course outline at the start of this review??) But on the other hand, they succeeded at continuing to keep listeners on their toes, so the fact that the album still achieves at doing what the Black Lips have been doing all along proves that they haven’t changed their tune at all, even if the tune sounds different. All in all the album serves its purpose perfectly, and that’s to provide listeners with an album’s worth of head-turning rock & roll. And because of that I applaud the band for continuing to violate me, over and over again.

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Top new tracks: Daft Punk ft. Jay-Z, of Montreal, St. Vincent + Big Boi rapping about Daenerys Targaryen

March 13, 2014 in Art Rock, Dream Pop, Electronic, Electropop, Hip Hop, Indie, Instrumental, Psych Pop, Rap

Big Boi – “Mother Of Dragons” {Rap/Hip Hop}

Word on the street is that Big Boi is a big boi fan of Game Of Thrones, and that’s kind of a big boi deal in my mind (OK I’ll stop now…) Seriously though, can you imagine Big Boi curled up on a couch crying like a little bitch during The Red Wedding episode? Not that I did that or anything…Anyways, this track is off the new HBO-produced/Game Of Thrones-inspired mixtape Catch The Throne which was released on Friday, and you can find out more info about it here.

Daft Punk ft. Jay-Z – “Computerized” {Electronic/Rap}

I probably wasn’t alone in having a “say whaaaa?” moment when I first heard about Daft Punk collaborating with Jay-Z. If anything I’m ashamed I didn’t see it coming sooner (seeing that famewhores music collaborating nerds tend to team up with other famewhores music collaborating nerds). Some folks were starting to think that the tune was a fake (much like many other supposed “Daft Punk” tracks), but this one is the real deal.

St. Vincent – “Del Rio” {Art Rock/Electronic}

We’ve been so busy with our Angel Olsen, Beck, Sam Roberts (and soon-to-be Metronomy) album reviews we totally forgot that St. Vincent’s new album dropped on February 24th – shocking I know, seeing that Annie and her Wayne Coyne locks are EVERYWHERE at the moment. So listening to this new B-side of hers was a great way to prepare for my Digital Witness listening marathon (which is probably going to last at least two to three months…)

)

of Montreal – “Jigsaw Puzzle” {Psych Pop}

Because Kevin Barnes is Kevin Barnes-like, it seems like every other week he’s pulling some kind of surprise out of his ass that ends up blowing me away. Apparently this tune was recorded during the making of one of our favourite albums of 2013 Lousy with Sylvianbriar, but was left off the release because let’s get real here…no album can handle THAT much awesomeness.

Dfalt – “Untitled Morning #1″ {Electronic/Instrumental}

Here’s something that’s a little different. Apparently this L.A.-based producer is in the midst of releasing a track everyday for his new track-per-day project via Daylight Curfew, and all of his songs released to date are currently streaming on his Soundcloud Page. As of today he’s on “Untitled Morning #25” so if you have some extra time on your hands definitely check that shit out.

How To Dress Well – “Words I Don’t Remember” {Electronic/R&B}

As if having one of the best band names ever wasn’t enough, How To Dress Well AKA Tom Krell is now releasing mysterious tracks as well as prepping for his upcoming tour (which apparently includes openers Forest Swords – kind of a big deal). No word yet as to whether this tune will be included on an upcoming album, but a music nerd can only dream.

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Fear Of Men – “Outrun Me” {Indie/Dream Pop}

It’s hard to believe that Fear Of Men’s debut album hasn’t even hit the pavement yet seeing that we’ve been such huge fans for what seems like forever now…Loom is going to be released on April 7th via Art Is Hard, and apparently the group will also be releasing a 7″ on April 7th as well. So yeah, March is going to be the longest month ever.

The Range – “Washingtons” {Electropop/Rap}

Apparently The Range AKA James Hinton has been turning a lot of heads in the last year with his wicked electronica, but this is actually the first I’ve ever heard of his project. This track, which perfectly meshes together the synthpop and rap genres (who knew synth and rap went together so well???) is off his new album Panasonic which is out March 25th via Donkey Pitch.

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Top 5 indie tracks of the week

March 3, 2014 in Alt-Folk, Alternative, Americana, Disco, Electronic, Experimental, Free downloads, Funk, independent bands, Indie

The Two Koreas – “Can Explain” {Alternative Rock}

The fact that I’m sitting in a pile of my own piss might have already given it away that our numero uno favourite Canadian band has FINALLY released the EP they were hinting at when we interviewed them a couple of years back, and to say we’re excited is an understatement. To buy their LP Winner EP for as little as $4 (or each track for $1) click here.

Sam Sniper – “Something To Say” {Americana/Rock}

This vocalist sounds just like Adam Duritz from Counting Crows (minus the nasty dreadlocks/singing about how he wants to be Bob Dylan and buy himself a grey guitar, of course) and his voice swooned us within seconds of pressing that play button. The band is currently running a Kickstarter to fund the release of their album on vinyl this summer, so if you want to help some brothers out click here.

Ang Low – “Voodoo Woman” {Experimental/Electronic}

This Afrobeat/world music-ish song is as trippy as Ween’s “Voodoo Lady,” and that’s saying a lot. Low is based out of Brooklyn, New York, and this wicked song is off his brand spankin’ new and debut EP (which hits the pavement on March 31st via Luv Luv Luv Records).

Uaxyacac - ”Double Seeker” {Experimental/Electronic}

A tribal, belly-dancing kind of beat, a Liars/Grimes vibe and enough layers and textures to make you feel as if you’ve floated onto another planet for a few minutes…have I given it away that this group is Quebecois yet? This track is off their Double Seeker album which was released in December, and you can buy it for $5 here.

Few Friends – “You I’m Moving To” {Disco/Funk} + Free downloads

Who needs “a few friends” when you can listen to funkalicious tunes like this? This is actually only the second song the band has released to date, so if that impressed you as much as it impressed me you can download the song for free in the player below and give the group some “Like” love on Facebook here.

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Top new videos: Black Lips, St. Vincent, Angel Olsen, Bleeding Rainbow + burgers; delicious, juicy burgers

February 4, 2014 in Alt-Blues, Alt-Country, Alt-Folk, Alternative, Blues, Experimental, Grunge, Indie, Pop, Psychedelic Rock, Rock

Bleeding Rainbow – “So You Know” {Pop/Rock}

Have you ever wished you could turn back time like Cher? Well the guy in this music video did…(kinda). The video starts off with some lonely looking fellow flipping through old photographs of his ex during happier times, but then soon develops into some crazed, photo-manipulation-turned-time-travel storyline. It’s some pretty thought-provoking shit.

Angel Olsen – “Hi-Five” {Alt-Country}

Given that I’ve been listening to this track over and over and over again since we first discovered it a few weeks back, I was pretty stoked to see that Angel Olsen went ahead and released a video for the jaw-dropping tune. But I still have some lingering questions; like “why did she draw on her hand like that?” “Where did those arms come from?” and “Will I get sued for stealing her epic choreography the next time I’m on the dance floor?”

St. Vincent – “Digital Witness” {Experimental}

This is some Benjamin Button shit with St. Vincent and the new Wayne Coyne locks she has going on, but I digress…When we first caught a glimpse of the cover of St. Vincent’s new album and her Flaming Lips hairdo glory, we just knew she would be packing the visual punches for the first music video off the record, and pack the visual punches she certainly did.

Adult Jazz – “Springful” {Indie Rock/Experimental}

Apparently this video was inspired by the novel Siddharthabut I’m starting to wonder if the whole point of this video was to make me seethe with jealousy over the fact that this dude is special enough to be carried around by four cute boys all day like royalty. If only all my retail therapy sessions could be like this…

Sebadoh – “State Of Mine” {Alt-Folk/Rock}

Sebadoh is getting all political and stuff with this new music video and we’re totally L-O-V-I-N-G it!!! The video tackles everything from the economy, sexism, the American Dream, the stresses of jugging parenthood and marriage…Actually now that we think about it we may have read into it a little too much – maybe it’s a story about a depressed businessman who’s obsessed with babies?

Minor Alps – “Waiting For You” {Pop/Rock}

If you’re feeling the Valentine’s Day humbug then you best be preparing yourselves, because this video is all about the lovey-dovey “awwws” and everything that goes along with it. The video stars both members of Minor Alps (Matthew Caws and Juliana Hatfield) with their storyline romantically intertwining as they make their way around the city.

Libel – “Tomorrow’s Children” {Rock}

We love us some animated videos, but damn…this shit went way, way over our heads. The falling stars (or are they snowflakes?) the synchronized swimmers (or are they people with just really bad fashion?) and the person pulling the sun straight out of the sky (or was it just a massive yellow ball?) Yeah we don’t get it either.

Black Lips – “Boys In The Wood” {Psych Rock/Blues}

What’s so scary about sex, drugs and rock and roll? Well you’ll soon find out after watching this horror-movie-of-a-music-video. And of course being the Black Lips that they are there’s a whole lotta NSFW going on here, so if you have delicate eyeballs (and eardrums) then proceed with caution before you hit the play button.

Teen Daad – “Have A Bite” {Rock/Grunge}

They may not be Quebecois, and they may not be buddy-buddy with Jamie Oliver, but what this band has going on in this music video could possibly be as epic as Epic Meal Time. The juicy burgers, the slimy Nutella, the mouth-watering ice cream…There are so many temptations going on in this video it’s hard to keep track of them all. Who knew that Nutella getting trapped in a beard could be so damn sexy?

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Top new videos: Elbow, of Montreal, Deerhoof, Architecture in Helsinki + a sexy dude holding a puppy

January 31, 2014 in Alt-Country, Alternative, Electronic, Experimental, Pop, Psych Pop, Rock

Deerhoof – “Flower” {Experimental Pop}

A cute, adorable little puppy-dog? CHECK. A sexy bearded Canadian-looking dude who looks like Jesus? CHECK. A comprehensive storyline that I can actually follow and understand? Ummm…well maybe next time. This is Deerhoof we’re talking about, after all.

Jagwar Ma – “Uncertainty” {Electronic/Rock}

I’m as addicted to Jagwar Ma as much as The Wolf Of Wall Street was addicted to the bad shit, so the fact that the band released yet another sexy slo-mo video like the one for “The Throw” made me squeal with delight. Swooooooon.

of Montreal – “She Ain’t Speakin’ Now” {Alt-Country/Rock}

This here is everything you would expect from an of Montreal music video: Random images that leave you feeling confused and perplexed and excruciatingly bright colours that make your eyeballs feel like they’re on fire. It’s delightful, really.

Be Forest – “Captured Heart” {Psych Pop}

This is the first we’ve heard of Italy’s Be Forest, but if dancing on an Italian beach without a care in the world and braiding eachother’s hair is what they’re all about…then I’m totally game.

Elbow – “New York Morning” {Alternative Rock}

Apparently this video from chronicles the life and times of the famous Brooklyn couple Dennis and Louis (who you may or may not remember from that Happy Mondays tune). The video shows shots of their massive music collection (some of which includes Ramones memorabilia), which is ten times cooler than what I thought this music video was supposed to be about (AKA a lost episode of creepy doll hoarders).

Albert Hammond Jr. – “Strange Tidings” {Pop/Rock}

Good ol’ Albert is back with some more Strokes leftovers off his new solo album AHJ, and this video is the most up-close-and-personal we’ve seen from him thus far…literally. The video has a constant sped-up and slowed-down effect as the camera follows him around through the streets of (where else?) Paris! Duh…

Architecture in Helsinki – “Dream A Little Crazy” {Pop}

This new video kind of reminds me of this creepy indie film one of our college buddies directed recently (watch it here, if you dare). I was a little too curious to be horrified by this music video thanks to the mad scientist vibes it has going on, and although the song isn’t really our cup of tea the video was one of the best we’ve come across this past week.

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Rex Manning Day’s 10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

January 27, 2014 in Album News

10. Outkast – TBA

It didn’t surprise me too much when I heard that Outkast would be reuniting for a 40-date festival tour, (only because that’s what two talented musicians who have haven’t been making music together for awhile should do….except Simon and Garfunkel, of course). But to find out they were releasing a new LP made their reunion extra, extra special. Maybe André 3000 will write a sequel to “Ms. Jackson” and call it “Kiss My Glittery Ass“? Because that would be awesome.

9. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There?

Listening to Van Etten’s last record Tramp made me want to sit in a dark room, light some candles, chug back a bottle of wine and feel like a WO-MAN (Shania style). In the same vein as Cat Power and Fiona Apple, Van Etten’s songs stand for empowerment, depth, passion, and intense heartache fueled by the complacent asshole who broke your heart into tiny little pieces. Apparently her new album is going to be released in May, and although not a lot of information is being released about it yet, the Tumblr-er of F Yeah! Sharon Van Etten has been posting a few speculations here and there, so if you’re a fan I would check that shit out.

8. Modest Mouse – TBA

It’s been seven long years since Modest Mouse released their last album We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, which is pretty much the equivalent of a lifetime in the music world. Vocalist Isaac Brock could have been chilling in a flooded basement for all we know, or the bassist could have pulled a Weezer and disappeared off the face of the planet. My point is, is that I just don’t know what to expect from this new Modest Mouse album, but that doesn’t make me any less curious. It could be shit, it could be (in the words of Simon Cowell) “forgettable” or it could be totally MIND-BLOWINGLY-AWESOME!! Either way the suspense is killing me, and I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for MM.

7. The New Pornographers – Together

Living in British Columbia during the early 2000s, it was hard to escape the amazing wrath of The New Pornographers. Initially I only gave them a chance because I was beyond-obsessed with Ryan Dahle (AKA the brains behind Age Of Electric and Limblifter), the brother of drummer Kurt Dahle (who also drummed for Age Of Electric). But eventually their melodic and ridiculously happy music grew on me, and if anything off their new album sounds like “Bones Of An Idol” or “My Rights Versus Yours” I’ll be a happy camper. The album is being released on May 4th via Matador, and will also feature contributions from Beirut, St. Vincent, an Okkervil River and the Dap-Kings.

6. Tokyo Police Club – Forcefield

If I didn’t hear the band’s leading single off the album (“Hot Tonight”) a couple of weeks back, then TPC (as us hardcore fans like to call them) would have been way higher up on this list. But as soon as I pressed the play button my heart sunk. Where’s the sporadic drum beats? The trancey piano chords? The chorus of people chanting in the background? AnyTPCPleaseComeBackToMe, I’m still curious to see what the band has in store, I just hope they don’t let my fragile little music nerd heart down. The album is being released on March 25th via Mom + Pop (in the US), Dine Alone (in Canada) and March 24th via Memphis Industries (in the UK).

5. Liars – Mess

2012 just wouldn’t have been complete without seeing that warped energize bunny doing all sorts of sexual and kinky moves on my computer screen. And in all honesty, I wasn’t expecting to like their last album WIXIW (which is technically pronounced as “Wish You” but I like to incorrectly call it a word sounding similar to “Worcestershire”) as long as I did, but that lovely mullet eventually swooned me, and I’m still listening to “Brats” on repeat to this day. So in a classic case of “sweet baby Jesus YES!,” finding out that some new Liars would be coming our way in March made me piddle in my panties a little. The album will be out March 24th/25th in the U.S. via Mute.

4. Grimes – TBA

With a unique sound combining the electronic, industrial, noise rock and R&B genres, and a voice that I can only describe as sounding like a lispy chipmunk whose been sucking on helium balloon for the past four days, Grimes’ music was definitely not my cup of tea when I first heard it; but her last album Visions eventually grew on me. Apparently Grimes (real name Claire Boucher) wrote Visions holed up in an apartment for three weeks high on amphetamines, and it’s obvious once you focus on the amount of layering and texturing going on in the release. Her new album isn’t due out until September, but in the mean time you can stay up to date on any Grimes-related news on Boucher’s Tumblr page.

3. Thee Oh Sees – TBA

It seems like only last week we were talking about how much we loved Thee Oh Sees 2013 album Floating Coffin (oh wait, it was last week), and it also seems like only last year we were talking about how much we loved their 2012 album Putrifiers II (oh wait, it was last year). So the fact that the San Francisco-based psych rockers plan on releasing yet another release this year, despite the fact that they’re supposedly taking a hiatus (*tear*) gives us hope that this won’t be the last album we’ll hear from them.

2. Black Lips – Underneath The Rainbow

The almighty Black Lips are coming back for another round, and I can’t wait to hear what the drugged-up lunatics have been up to since we last heard from them. With any new Black Lips album there’s always going to be some kind of experimentation, new vocal arrangement or a strange high-pitched (and slightly annoying) sound that I’ve never heard before, so I’m expecting a lot of surprises and delights from this new record. The album (appropriately titled Underneath The Rainbow) was recorded with Tommy Brenneck (of Budos Band) and Patrick Carney (of The Black Keys), and is being released on March 18th.

1. Julian Casablancas – Voidz

The Strokes are DONE, man. And the sooner everyone gets over it, the better. They fulfilled their RCA contract, Albert is off quitting heroin and working on his own solo career, Fabrizio is busy getting over Drew Barrymore, Nick Valensi is knocking women up with twinsies, and Nickolai is being silent, as usual. So as far as I’m concerned, Julian has every right to keep releasing solo material. Apparently he was bummed how his last album Phrazes For The Young did buzz-wise, but clearly he didn’t hear my telepathic message saying “OH MY GOD JULIAN YOUR SOLO WORK IS SO AMAZING I WANT TO HAVE YOUR BABIES AND WALK AROUND IN THE DARK AND LISTEN TO YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR PHILOSOPHIES ON LIFE!!!” Yeah, I’m pretty stoked.

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Top new tracks: Tokyo Police Club, Drive-By Truckers, Broken Bells + Kevin Drew sings about good sex

January 22, 2014 in Alternative, Americana, Art Rock, Classic Rock, Disco, Electrogoth, Experimental, Garage Rock, Indie, Nu Disco, Pop, Punk, Rock, Southern Rock, Sunshine Pop, Synthpop

Tennis – “100 Lovers” {Sunshine Pop}

Ain’t no polar vortex gonna bring this duo down! This track is exactly what we needed to hear on a cold, miserable January day (where my East Coasters at??) and just like any other Tennis song, this one acts like an instant anti-depressant. This is yet another track off their new EP Small Sound which you can buy for $4.99 here.

Drive-By Truckers – “Pauline Hawkins” {Southern Rock}

Listening to the Drive-By Truckers always brings out the redneck that is hidden deep down within the depths of my soul, and this track is no different. This song first debuted on Rolling Stone earlier this month, and is off their 10th LP English Oceans which is due out on March 4th via ATO.

Tokyo Police Club – “Hot Tonight” {Pop/Rock}

As any non-Canadian will tell you, Tokyo Police Club are kind of a big deal in Canada (just because every non-Canadian I’ve ever met has never heard of them). This track is waaaay poppier than what we’re used to hearing from the band, so now we’re curious as to what else we’ll be hearing off their new album Forcefield (which is out on March 25th in the US/Canada and March 24th in the UK).

The Coathangers – “Follow Me” {Garage Rock/Punk}

Yes, I only decided to check out this track just for the sheer fact that their name is “The Coathangers” – so sue me. (No, please don’t). Either way I’m glad I did end up checking this track out, because turns out they’re one of the most badass all-female punk groups I’ve ever come across in my life. Plus their new album is called Suck My Shirt – it doesn’t get more badass than this people.

Kevin Drew – “Good Sex” {Pop/Rock}

What’s better than good sex? Being a Broken Social Scene fan and finding out that Kevin Drew is releasing his sophomore album this year. (And no, that isn’t an over exaggeration). This song is off his new LP Darlings which is being released on March 18th via one of our numero uno favourite record labels Arts & Crafts.

Trust – “Rescue, Mister” {Electrogoth/Synthpop}

Trust (AKA Austra’s sideproject-that-couldn’t-possibly-compete-with-Austra-but-still-comes-pretty-damn-close) has a brand spankin’ new track that is dark, mysterious and deliciously synthy – everything we’ve grown to love about the band since we first heard their impressive debut album TRST back in 2012. Their new LP Joyland is being released on March 4th, so mark those electrogoth calendars!

Broken Bells – “After The Disco” {Nu Disco/Pop}

Get those cheesy synth hats on and ready, because there’s so much happy-go-lucky synth going on in this tune it’s hard to keep track of it all. In case you didn’t know, Broken Bells is the baby of James Mercer from Danger Mouse and the Shins, and they’ll be putting on their new album of the same title on February 4th.

St. Vincent – “Digital Witness” {Experimental/Art Rock}

We’re ashamed to admit that we didn’t discover St. Vincent until her collaboration with Talking Heads’ frontman David Byrne, and we’re so obsessed with the collaborative album we still can’t imagine Ms. Clark without a bony jaw as seen on the Love This Giant album cover. There’s a lot of depth and texture going on this track which is way, way out there even for St. Vincent standards; it’s no wonder why Byrne wanted to collaborate with her.

ceo – “Wonderland” {Indie Rock}

We can’t explain why we like this song as much as we do. Maybe it’s the Vampire Weekend elements, or perhaps it’s even the not-so-subtle classic elements with all sorts of different instruments getting thrown into the mix. Either way it’s a musically delightful and stimulating track, and now we can see why so many indie music bloggers have been buzzing about it.

The Men – “Pearly Gates” {Classic Rock}

We’re not too sure what to make of this track, which makes us even more excited for The Men’s upcoming album just because now we don’t know what to expect. (The Men are tricky like that…Alright boys, you have our attention!) This is the first single off their forthcoming album Tomorrow’s Hits which is out on March 4th via Sacred Bones.

Hospitality – “Rockets & Jets” {Alternative Rock/Electronic}

This track slacks a bit on the production side which is not what we’re used to hearing from the band, but Amber Papini’s pleasant voice smooths it all over (as always). And just when you think you have the song figured out, halfway through it goes into full-on Metric-mode, which overall makes for a pleasurable listening experience. The band’s new album Trouble is out next week via Merge Records.

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Rex Manning Day’s Top 10 Albums of 2013

January 17, 2014 in Album reviews, Alt-Country, Alternative, Americana, Classic Rock, Electronic, Electropop, Funk, Jazz, Psychedelic Rock, Rock, Top 2013

10. Cage The Elephant – Melophobia

cagetheelephantmelophobia

Alright I’m not going to lie: There are only two songs I listened the hell out of on this album, and by “listened the hell out of” I mean played that shit on repeat; all day, erryday. I feel bad ignoring the rest of the songs on the album. Honestly, I do. But when I’m staring down at my iPod and “Halo” and “Take It Or Leave It” are sitting there and screaming “LISTEN TO MEEEEEE!!” I have a weak moment and disregard the rest of the album. But I can’t deny the fact that I’ve been listening to these songs probably hundreds of times each since I first discovered this album a couple of months back, and that deserves some proper recognition. (Not to mention that I expected the band to burn out in a fiery, one-hit-wonder haze after “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked.”) If it wasn’t for the band’s nasty habit of constructing a limp-dick chorus this album might have been higher up on the list, but either way this release proves that Cage The Elephant aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

9. Elvis Costello and The Roots – Wise Up Ghost

elviscostellowiseupghost

I know, I’m just as shocked as you that this album made our list. Yes, The Roots are great, but I’ve been grimacing at Costello’s tunes since oh, I dunno…1995, but after listening to this album I can honestly say for sure: Costello and his Roots have officially raised the bar for future collaborative albums. Although there are a few skip-worthy tracks like the title track “Wise Up Ghost” and “Tripwire” and the tail-end tracks off the album, “Viceroy’s Row,” “Wake Me Up” and “Walk Us Uptown” make up for it. Anyways, we’ve already ranted and raved about how much we loved this album here and here, so instead of boring you to death with our Costello/Roots collaboration obsession I’ll just say this: If The Roots can act as a musical prozac for someone as old as Costello well then…hey ?uestlove, call me!

8. Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin

Thee Oh Sees Floating Coffni

Oh, Thee Oh Sees: Continuing to put out great release after great release, year after year. I know it’s not fair that the band has been getting quadruple the amount of coverage than any other band covered here at RMD, but I just can’t help it! The Kurt Cobain-like squeal on “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster,” the Pixies-meets-Joy Division vibe on “No Spell” and the hyperactive guitar section that mirrors some vintage Ramones on “Tunnel Time”…there are so many memorable tracks on this album that I never got sick of, which seems like a true rarity these days. But before you give this album a listen I must warn you: It may bring out the hidden ADHD in you and make you want to strip off all your clothes, run out into the street and mosh pit with random people while old people stare at you with a disapproving look and scoff in your direction. Not that it happened to me or anything…

7. of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar

ofmontreallousywithsylvianbriar

I’ve been a huge fan of of Montreal (heh) for quite some time now thanks to the epicness that is “Wraith Pinned To The Mist” and “I Was Never Young,” but I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been shying away from the band’s releases as of late because everything I’ve heard from them has just been way, way too out there for me (and that’s saying a lot considering I praise the holy Boognish). So in a classic case of “woooahhh where did that come from?” I was nearly blown off my seat the first time I listened to this album. It’s so…normal! I still can’t believe this is the same Kevin Barnes, who chose a more personal and vulnerable approach to the album, and the end result was nothing short of amazeballs. Not to mention that tracks like “Colossus,” “Belle Glade Missionaries” and “Hegira Émigré” were some of the best alt-country songs I heard all year. I shit you not.

6. The Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

Black Angels Indigo Meadow

There’s so many things I like about this album I don’t even know where to start. From The Doors nostalgia to the continued tribalness…and most importantly, the fact that the group has our numero uno favourite female drummer and is led by a bearded hippie who I may or may not have been crushing on for the past five years because he looks like Jesus (you know how us Catholic girls can be…) But anyways…I’m begging you don’t let The Black Angels fall under the radar with the rest of the Blackie rock bands like The Black Keys or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, because this group has so much more to offer. Sure their psychedelic vibe hasn’t won over all the critics out there, but from all of us here at RMD: Flower Power on, dudes.

5. The Knife – Shaking The Habitual

The Knife Shaking The Habitual

There are so many tiny little details hidden in this album, I could listen to it hundreds of thousands of times and still discover something new after each listen. From the grunting alien heard on “Full Of Fire,” the addictive riff on “Without You My Life Would Be Boring” to the palette of different drum beats and instruments on “A Tooth For An Eye,” listening to this album is more like travelling across the globe and experiencing all these new and different cultures, ideas, sounds, smells and tastes. But what I loved most about the album was its lyrics and the duo’s passion for using their music as a tool to help bring awareness to political issues that they deem important.

4. Jagwar Ma – Howlin’

Jagwar Ma

I was already listening to “Come Save Me” on repeat for a few months before I immersed myself in Howlin’, but the first time I heard/watched “The Throw” music video something just clicked. Maybe it was the slow motion sexiness, or the vocal range that is so out of this world it’s hard to believe that it comes from a human, but suddenly we “got” Jagwar Ma. It’s weird because if you were to listen to any of these songs individually you wouldn’t even think they were by the same band. The album covers every musical corner and quirk that I love (from tribal and experimental to electronic and poppy rock), and just listening to “What Love” changed the way I listened to how a song can be created just because there are so many different elements, layers and designs going on that you will never get bored listening to it.

3. Austra – Olympia

AustraOlympia

Olympia is a release that marks a considerable change in the band’s musical style, with Austra switching from dark, gloomy witch house to danceable, electropop tunes (but still with the trademark Stelmanis edge, because of course). Even Austra’s primary songwriter Katie Stelmanis (AKA Mozart-in-Bloom) claims she wrote the album differently than she wrote Austra’s past albums by focusing more on the structure of the song instead of its “vibe.” There are still some typical Austra and experimental operatic-like tunes like “What We Done?” and “I Don’t Care (I’m A Man)” although the true gems are found in tracks like “Forgive Me” and “Painful Like.” But what I liked best about this album is that it proves that Austra is constantly evolving and changing, so instead of becoming stale fans are forced to grow along with them.

2. Wampire – Curiosity

wampirecuriosity

This album is packed full of so many different vibes (the psychedelic “Magic Lights” or the Americana-ish “The Hearse”) as well as punches (the keyboards on “Snacks” and the sexiness on “Trains”) it’s hard not to be intrigued by it all. (Oh who am I kidding? The powerful, glowing yellow eyes are what really drew me into the album…) But the organ sounds are what truly sold us on the record, and are so vampire-y is the band actually from Transylvania (or Transylwania? Hard to be sure…) The album as a whole is like a rock essay that’s constructed meticulously, with each song flowing into the next and providing a cohesive structure for the listener to get comfortable with. Let’s just hope that the band doesn’t get a case of the sophomore blues, because Curiosity is going to be pretty hard to beat.

1. Arcade Fire – Reflektor

arcadefirereflektor

I’ll be the first to admit of the Arcade Fire-overload these past few years, and I was ready to shit all over this album once it was released. But given the fact that LCD Soundsystem has officially risen from the grave through Reflektor, I don’t give a flying fuck what people think of Arcade Fire and this new album; they have officially redeemed themselves in the eyes of RMD. Yes, they’ve received more mainstream attention than Lady Gaga and Nickelback combined (OK that might be a slight overstatement), but there’s no denying that Reflektor is to Arcade Fire like what OK Computer was to Radiohead. Well maybe James Murphy being producer has something to do with it…Oh and one more thing: Don’t judge the album by its singles. The end.

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Top Tracks of 2013 {Part 4}

January 14, 2014 in Alternative, Americana, Country, Dream Pop, Electronic, Electropop, House, New Wave, Pop, Psych Pop, Psychedelic Rock, Rock, Shoegaze, Sunshine Pop, Top 2013, Traditional Country

{PART 1} {PART 2} {PART 3}

Girls Names – “Hypnotic Regression” {New Wave}

This song is so deliciously 80s you can almost picture Emilio Estevez playing with the strings of his hoodie and Ally Sheedy crunching up potato chips in her sandwich…but I digress. Plus the song sounds like The Cure and Joy Division meshed together perfectly; Oh and if Cage The Elephant needs any tips on how to write a chorus properly they should take a note from this track.

Quilt – “Arctic Shark” {Psych Pop}

We were in a rush the first time we discovered this song, and we were so wowed by it that we made a mental note to ourselves to come back to the song and listen to it again, just in case it was all a dream. And after watching this video a second time we can honestly tell you that yes, it was a dream. A wondrous, flowery, colourful dream:

Pearl Jam – “My Father’s Son” {Rock}

Pearl Jam’s new record sucked monkey balls, but it would have sucked major monkey balls if this track wasn’t included on it. It may start off sounding like any other basic Pearl Jam rock song, but the chorus does all these interesting twists and turns via Vedder, which makes it one of the most memorable tracks on the album by far.

Tennis – “Mean Streets” {Sunshine Pop}

Tennis has been on the receiving end of a lot of review hate for their lacklustre live shows, but this song proves that the sunshiny duo are best listened to through headphones and/or speakers. (Well actually, Tennis is really best listened to on a sunny, warm day while you’re chillin’ on the beach sucking back double piña coladas…but anyways). Sounds like recording in pajamas really paid off!!

The Dismemberment Plan – “Invisible” {Alternative Rock}

The first 30 seconds of this track really threw us off guard. Is it rap? Is it classical? Is it Alt-J trying to pull a quick one on us? Not to mention that it has a perfect blend of Frightened Rabbit-like vocals, Stooges-like piano chords, and a Duncan Sheik-like chorus…what’s not to love?

Billie Joe Armstrong & Norah Jones “Long Time Gone” {Traditional Country}

We were already digging Billie Joe Armstrong’s and Norah Jones’ collaborative Everly Brothers cover album before the news broke of Phil Everly’s death, so we’ve been blasting the record ever since we lost one of the world’s best harmonizing geniuses. This is one of our favourite tracks on the album, but if you have some time on your hands check the rest of the album out and you won’t be disappointed.

Whitley – “TV” {Rock/Americana}

Sure the chorus leaves a lot to be desired…but that dark, gloomy American riff tho. Whitley is a one-man-band led by the Australian musician Lawrence Greenwood (although he is often joined onstage by a few other talented peeps for his live shows), and if you like this tune as much as we do you should give him some “Like” love on Facebook here.

Dr. Dog – “The Truth” {Blues/Rock}

It may not be the most memorable song the first time you listen to it, but after a few listens it gets stuck in your head for days, and then weeks (or in our case…months). We’ve already professed our profound Dr. Dog-love here, so instead of boring you to death you should really just press that play button, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Toro Y Moi – “Say That” {Electronic/House}

This South Carolinan cutie pie has been a huge, huge thing in the indie world over the past few years, so naturally a lot of indie kids hopped all over his new album (us included). The song was our favourite off of the album, and is all over the place musically, lying somewhere in between R&B, electronic, trance, old school house, and a bunch of mellow awesomeness.

I Break Horses – “Denial” {Dream Pop}

We’re still riding our dream poppy haze from last year, and while Empress Of kept us going throughout this past spring, it was “Denial” that wet our delicious dream pop appetite throughout the second half of the year. Them Swedes never fail to impress.

Queens of the Stone Age – “If I Had a Tail” {Alternative Rock}

We’re not going to deny that QOTSA’s 2013 album …Like Clockwork was just …meh, and despite our QOTSA tattoo and our heads being so far up Homme-boy’s ass we’re not afraid to say it. But this was hands-down the best (and only?) good track on the album, so we have to give a shout-out when a shout-out is due (especially when Josh Homme’s sexyness is involved…)

The Mary Onettes – “Hit The Waves” {Alternative Pop}

We first checked out the band because we thought their name was “The Mary Omelettes,” but this group proves you don’t need an accidentally hilarious name to get our attention (well….) This here is another tune that defined our 2013 thanks to the mad Cure vibes and 80s nostalgia.

Washed Out – “All I Know” {Dream Pop}

Looking back at 2013 it would be hard to imagine our year without “All I Know” and the close-up of Victor’s blubbering face at the start of this music video. And as much as we loved Washed Out’s latest album, nothing beats this leading single off the record.

Zero 7 – “On My Own” {Electropop}

This song may start off just like any other Cut Copy or !!! song, but Londoners are full of surprises like that…and they certainly know how to craft a great electropop tune. This track is off the duo’s 12″ of the same title, and you can stream a crapton of their songs for free over at their Soundcloud page.

{PART 1} {PART 2} {PART 3}

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Top Albums of 2013 {Part 3}

January 6, 2014 in Album reviews, Alternative, Blues, Classic Pop, Classic Rock, Dream Pop, Electrofunk, Electronic, Electropop, Free downloads, Funk, Hip Hop, Industrial, Jazz, Metal, New Wave, Pop, R&B, Rap, Rock, Soul, Top 2013, Tribal, Tribal Pop, Tribal Rock, Trip Hop, Uncategorized

{PART 1} {PART 2} {PART 4} {PART 5}

Cage The Elephant – Melophobia

cagetheelephantmelophobia

RIYL: The Stone Roses, Weezer

Melophobia is everything Arctic Monkeys’ AM shoulda-coulda-woulda been if them Monkeys weren’t too busy ripping off the rock gods to notice that they were ripping off the rock gods, but I digress. If you didn’t like Cage The Elephant the first time around you may not get your mind changed just yet; but let’s get real here: “Take It Or Leave It” alone could possibly surpass The Strokes’ “Take It Or Leave It,”  (which is saying a lot coming from us).

Frankie Rose – Herein Wild

frankierosehereinwild

RIYL: Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls, Joy Division

Frankie is one of those rare artists who never fails to disappointment no matter what album or project she’s working on. Her sound is unique yet reliable and familiar, and technically it’s no different than her 2012 album Interstellar, but anything remotely similar to that kind of awesomeness is bound to be mindblowing.

To read our review of Frankie Rose’s cover of The Damned’s “Street Of Dreams” click here
To read our review of Frankie Rose’s “Sorrow” click here

Beyoncé - Beyoncé

beyonce

RIYL: Destiny’s Child, Mary J. Blige

It shocked the shade out of us when we found out that Beyoncé released a new visual album with zero promo or teasers beforehand at all, and honestly…it’s pure genius! With all the Artpop/shit/Random Access Memories album promos being shoved down our throats all year, this album is proof that Jay-Z’s wife The Big B. doesn’t even need all that Artpop-like hoopla thankyouverymuch.

Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks

ninhesitationmarks

RIYL: Prince, Depeche Mode, Marilyn Manson

We can all collectively sigh in relief now that Trent Reznor put How To Destroy Angels_ on the backburner to work on some fresh, new NIN. (Okay well maybe his side project wasn’t that bad, but nothing beats new NIN, especially new/good NIN).

To read our Hesitation Marks review click here.
To read our review of “Copy of A” click here

To read our review of the “Come Back Haunted” music video click here

White Denim – Corsicana Lemonade

whitedenim

RIYL: The Black Keys, The Raconteurs, The White Stripes

White Denim sounds so much like the The Raconteurs we can’t help but wonder if Jack White is being all sneaky-sneaky on us (as always) and releasing music under a secretive name (sometimes not always). The album is kind of all over the place – almost jazz-like, but mixing that together with a blues/rock foundation makes the album stand out for the rest of the blues/rock releases of the past year.

To read our review of White Denim’s “Pretty Green” click here.

Camera Obscura – Desire Lines

cameraobscura

RIYL: Stars, The xx

Camera Obscura have earned a massive, massive following over the years, (similar to that of their Canadian twinsies Stars), and this album certainly helped catapult their cult-like fame even more. The album is packed full of happy, feel-good-lucky tunes that warmed our cold Canadian hearts, and for that reason alone deserves recognition in itself.

To read our review of “Troublemaker” click here.
To read our review of “Fifth In Line to the Throne” click here.  

Jagwar Ma – Howlin’

Jagwar Ma

RIYL: Kasabian, Django Django, Beta Band

“Come Save Me” was the first track to break our Jagwar Ma cherry, and we became so obsessed with the tune we thought we’d give the rest of the album a listen…and are we ever glad we did. There are a couple of poppish songs similar to the leading track (like “That Loneliness”) but there’s also a few experimental, tribal tracks hidden in the mix as well (e.g. “What Love” and “The Throw”).

Elvis Costello And The Roots – Wise Up Ghost

elviscostellowiseupghost RIYL: The Roots, Van Morrison

Costello has been collaborating with The Roots AKA Jimmy Fallon’s “backing band” for quite some time, but working together for a new Costello record brought the art of genius collaborations to a whole new level. Without The Roots, Wise Up Ghost could have easily been another snore-inducing adult contemporary album we’ve been hearing all too much of from Costello as of late, but throw a little ?uestlove funk into the mix and you’ve got yourself a winner.

To read our Wise Up Ghost review click here.
To read our review of Elvis Costello & The Roots’ song “Walk Us Uptown” click here

MGMT – MGMT

MGMTMGMT

RIYL: of Montreal, The Flaming Lips, Empire Of The Sun

We were half expecting MGMT to go down in a fiery, 2004 neon-lit haze, and although a lot of people seem to be on the fence about it we were actually surprised at how much we enjoyed the record. It doesn’t sway too much away from MGMT’s usual electropop formula, but we have to give credit where credit is due: They haven’t lost their neon touch.

To read our review of MGMT’s “Alien Days” click here

Deafheaven – Sunbather

Deafhaven Sunbather

RIYL: Ash Borer, Vaura Metal

Don’t be fooled by its pinkish exterior, because Sunbather was hands-down one of the most badass metal releases of the year, and its tracks have been circulating around the music blogverse ever since it was released back in June. Oh and PS you can download their single “Dream House” for free in the player below.

Paul McCartney – NEW

paulmccartneynew

RIYL: The Wings, The Beatles, Mark Ronson

Sure, Sir Paul may or may not have used five young producers as a crutch for this record (OK, he totally did) but it was a total genius move on his part. Some tracks were a little ho-hum, but other tracks like “On My Way To Work” and “Alligator” prove that Paul has still got what it takes, and will hopefully remind this younger generation who the real genius was behind Sgt. Pepper’s.

To read our album review of NEW click here.
To read our song review of “New” click here

Cults – Static

cultsstatic

RIYL: The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Beach House

It seemed like everywhere we turned Cults’ glittery GIF album cover was shimmering back at us, and because we easily get mesmerized by SPARKLES!! we eventually gave into the hoopla and checked this album out. The release is clearly 2013′s answer to Beach House’s Bloom, and although the high-pitched vocals can be hard to stomach, if you can put up with Grimes for three minutes you can put up with anything.

To read our review of Cults’ track “High Road” click here
To read our review of the music video for “High Road” click here

Kanye West – Yeezus

kanyewestyeezus

RIYL: Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Timbaland

Profound hatred and annoyances aside, there’s no denying Yeezus‘ place on any end-of-year list. In a typical “FUCK YOU” move on Kanye’s behalf, the album was recorded in Paris and shockingly starts off with some Eurostyle electronic drones; and as much as we like to make fun of the guy for all the vomit that pour out of his mouth, “hurry up with my damn croissants” is the new “It’s Britney, bitch.”

London Grammar – If You Wait

londongrammarifyouwait

RIYL: Florence and the Machine, The xx

London Grammar is one of those bands that immediately grab your attention as soon as you hear them, and 2013 just wouldn’t have been complete without Hannah Reid’s deep, booming voice groaning in the distance. Just listening to the album will make you feel as if you’re falling down a well of sadness, darkness and depression…so yeah…it’s a great listen!

To read our review on London Grammar’s “Strong” music video click here.

Volcano Choir – Repave

volcanochoirrepave

RIYL: Grizzly Bear, Tom Waits

We could care less about the hipster stamp Bon Iver has been getting, because Volcano Choir is no Bon Iver (OK well maybe a little bit thanks to Justin Vernon…but anyways). Repave has helped Volcano Choir become a band that is best listened to by album instead of by individual song, and we have to give credit to an exquisitely-crafted experimental record that made us feel as if we were being transported to another planet.

To read our review of the “Byegone” music video click here

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