Five Bands We’re Excited For At Boston Calling Fest

By ; May 23, 2013 at 12:41 PM 

Screen shot 2013-05-23 at 12.25.32 PM

The inaugural Boston Calling music festival is set for May 25th and 26th. Taking place in Boston’s Government Center, the festival is hopefully the first of an annual tradition of bringing good music to the heart of beantown.

There’s a ton of notable bands descending on Boston for the two day fest, but these are the five I’m most excited to see.

The National:
The National is one of the most consistent acts in modern music. Twelve years since their eponymous 2001 debut album, the band still releases fantastic music, each album is arguably better than the last. How many other bands playing in their second decade can you say that about?

Trouble Will Find Me comes out on May 20th and I’m dying to hear the new tracks in the live setting. Watch any YouTube performance of “Graceless” and it’s clear that this will become a showstopper. Lead singer Matt Berninger screams the lyrics at the song’s climax, something last heard in the days of Alligator. The album’s other rocker, “Sea of Love,” sounded killer on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and songs such as “Don’t Swallow The Cap” and “Humiliation” should be similarly promising.

The National may make delicate music but their live shows are always kinetic. Berninger is one of indie rock’s most entertaining frontmen. When he’s not singing in his instantly-recognizable baritone, he’s sipping wine, stumbling around stage, and making the occasional quip. The Dessner twins deliver intricate, yet anxious, guitar and the rhythm section is tight with Bryan Devendorf’s hypnotic and tom-heavy drumming and brother Scott Devendorf’s underappreciated bass.

Youth Lagoon:
Youth Lagoon is the stage name of 24-year-old musician Trevor Powers. His debut album, 2011’s The Year Of Hibernation is filled with delicate numbers that seem made for listening in dark and quiet rooms so it will be interesting to see if the band can conquer the festival setting.

Songs such as “Posters” and “17” start from the simple, almost primordial, existences and rise to soaring highs. At Boston Calling, I want the foreboding introductions to lead to cathartic releases of rumbling bass and body-moving guitar. It would be the ultimate in plant and payoff. Youth Lagoon’s recent release, Wondrous Bughouse, is a livelier affair and proves that the band can amp up the energy. Even so, I wonder if Youth Lagoon’s bedroom sounds will translate in the hot summer sun.


Of Monsters And Men
:
For a brief time, it seemed as if nobody in the Western World could go more than a week without hearing the Icelandic band’s debut single “Little Talks” play on some soundsystem somewhere. The song is irresistibly catchy with shout-along “heys” and earworm horns and dominated the charts worldwide, turning the band into a festival staple in the process.

While I have only given their My Head Is An Animal a few listens, Of Monsters And Men really does seem to be an ideal festival band — their music is anthemic and cathartic, complete with the spiraling crescendos and trembling energy that make Arcade Fire so great. Like Arcade Fire, the band integrates an eclectic instrument selection and isn’t afraid to err towards bombastic. Ultimately, I’m excited to see if the band can live up to their positive press.

Portugal. The Man:
Portugal. The Man has worked relentlessly to get where they are. They put out an album a year between their independent debut in 2006 and their first Atlantic Records release in 2011. During that time they also maintained an exhausting touring schedule. While they are still largely unknown to the casual music fan, they are prime for a breakout now that they are working with producer Danger Mouse on this summer’s Evil Friends.
I’ve seen a ton of Portugal. The Man concerts in my day thanks to the band’s heavy touring history and affordable concert prices. Even so, I’m always impressed with their ability to rearrange their own songs so that they sound different each performance. Surprise covers, medleys of old numbers, and extended jams also create a unique concert experience. With a large catalogue, it will be interesting to see what Portugal. The Man sneaks in their carefully curated setlist.

The Shins:
This might be embarrassing for a writer on a hip music website to admit, but I’ve never really listened to The Shins. Yes, “Caring Is Creepy” is a great song but I mostly know frontman James Mercer from his days with Broken Bells. ‘What, haven’t you even seen Garden State you ask?’ but I pretend I didn’t hear and stare at the ceiling [Ed. note: You're really not missing all that much]. Really interesting things happen up there, I swear. With that out of the way, I want to embrace Boston Calling as an opportunity to check out these indie giants in earnest. Their set will undoubtedly be a nice breezy break during the festival’s first day.

The Playlist: No Guitars Go

By ; May 3, 2013 at 11:35 PM 

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

The Playlist is a weekly column where staff writers and occasional guest musicians will have the opportunity to put together a Spotify playlist of songs which they’ve been listening to recently.


There are times when we’ve heard one power chord or one gently strummed acoustic ballad too many, and we feel the need to shed the confines of the guitar and look toward more unconventional instrumentation.  In that spirit, some of the staff here at Beats Per Minute have chosen songs for The Playlist this week which feature no guitars in any capacity.  You’ll find the mournful organs of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and Daniel Johnston, as well as the electronic glitches of Radiohead–we’re throwing in some Animal Collective and They Might Be Giants because, yeah, they’re amazing tracks as well, and there’s nary a guitar in sight.  Listen to the No Guitars Go Spotify playlist above and read why we chose these particular tracks below.

01. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – “Roberta C”

“The worlds bummeriest bummer jam of all time features nothing more than Owen Ashworth’s scratchy, conversational baritone, a cheap drum machine, and a synth organ sound. CFTPA’s brilliance was always in doing a lot with a little. This is the electronic music equivalent of a dude sitting around with an acoustic guitar whispering lines about suicide.” ~Colin Joyce

02. Radiohead – “Idioteque”

“Something from Kid A was bound to show up on a no-guitars mix and so we have “Idioteque,” one of the most recognizable tracks from that record.  At the time of its release, Radiohead fans were appalled and fascinated in equal measure.  Where had their beloved OK Computer Radiohead gone and where were the guitars?  With an answer as definitive as it was resounding, the band showed their fans that guitars were not a prerequisite for music that would come to be viewed as quintessentially Radiohead.” ~Joshua Pickard

03. Cat Power – “Colors and the Kids”

“Chan Marshal and a piano.  That’s all there is to “Colors and the Kids” from her much lauded Moon Pix album.  You would think that a 6+ minute track of just Marshall and a beautifully played piano would lose its ability to hold your attention in about half that time but there is a sadness–a mournful acceptance–that drives this track toward some unforeseen destination.  Marshall herself doesn’t seem to know where she’s heading either.  So this mutual sense of discovery allows us an unfettered glimpse of the person behind the moniker.  And far from trying to keep us at a distance, she beckons us onward, hoping that we’ll keep her company for just a little while longer. Stunning.” ~Joshua Pickard

04. Animal Collective – “Daily Routine”

“After guitarist Deakin decided to take time off from the group, Animal Collective would create an a sample-heavy electronic psychedelia album in Merriweather Post Pavilion. This cut off the album fronted by Panda Bear may be the most under-appreciated on it. Perhaps that’s because synth loop is a bit jarring to some but I love it. I dare you to set it on your alarm clock to wake you up and get you started on your daily routine.” ~Evan Kaloudis

05. Black Moth Super Rainbow – “Drippy Eye”

“Combining a love for 60′s psych-pop and an affinity for the gossamer harmonies of bands like The Beach Boys and Van Dyke Parks, Black Moth Super Rainbow gained notoriety with the release of their Dandelion Gum record.  Weaving together technicolor landscapes and psychedelic instrumentation, the band found that perfect balance on “Drippy Eye,” a song so indebted to its psych influences that it could have passed for one of the songs from which is so thoroughly and superbly borrowed.  Listen and be swept away on the rising melody and deceptively simple pop construction.” ~Joshua Pickard

06. Beirut – “Nantes”

“Greatly inspired by the rhythms and traditional composition of Balkan music, Zach Condon incorporates all of these themes, and his own sense of the music (and no guitars obviously), into “Nantes,” a stand-out track from his 2007 record The Flying Club Cup.  Tribal percussion, deeply reverberating brass, and Condon’s own quivering vocals display an impressive ability to condense his influences into something unique and devoid of mimicry.” ~Joshua Pickard

07. Daniel Johnston – “Walking the Cow”

“When I hear the name “Daniel Johnston,” I imagine a 20-something-year-old, wistful and bug-eyed, feverishly hammering at six strings for faceless crowds and home tape recorders. But for me, the chord organ is a magic prism for Johnston’s manic brilliance. While his hands desperately stammer away on “Walking the Cow”, his voice collapses under the weight of his uncertainty. Broken and beautiful, this song makes the day just a little easier to get through.” ~Malcolm Martin

08. Kraftwerk – “The Robots”

“The forefathers of all things electronic, German innovators Kraftwerk were well into their career by the time they released The Man Machine and has fully embraced the mechanized rhythms and structures that they would still be known for to this day.  “Robots,” with its mechanical voice and sputtering beats seems about as good an entry point into the record as you’re likely to find–and it’s a good introduction to the band as a whole.  Seeming to be pulled from some chromatic dystopian future, “Robots” showed Kraftwerk at their most accesdible but still willing to push themselves into new sonic territories.” ~Joshua Pickard

09. They Might Be Giants – “The Day”

“Marvin Gaye ties the knot with Phil Ochs and world peace is achieved in this multi-layered and multi-faceted accordion ballad. Is it about the absurdity of the hippie movement’s dream? Or is it a wacky story that we’re not meant to read into? They Might Be Giants aren’t telling.” ~Harrison Suits Baer

10. The Cure – “The Funeral Party”

“Robert Smith and Co. may not be the first band you think of when discussing bands without guitars but they often as not dropped the atmospheric strums and clanging chords of their guitars to go solely synthtastic.  And their efforts were never so amazing and honestly emotional as on Faith-cut “The Funeral Party.”  Working within the template that they themselves helped to establish, the band swirled waves of synths against the drive of drummer Lol Tolhurst rhythms, with Smith’s vocals seeming to straddle the surging tide as effortlessly as on anything that we’d heard from them before.  It’s absolutely affecting while being  completely conscious of its own importance.  So, yeah…it’s classic Cure.” ~Joshua Pickard

If you enjoy any of these tracks, please support the artists by purchasing their respective albums. 

The Playlist: April 26th, 2013

By ; April 26, 2013 at 3:42 PM 

Daft Punk

The Playlist is a weekly column where staff writers and occasional guest musicians will have the opportunity to put together a Spotify playlist of songs which they’ve been listening to recently.


 

01. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky” (feat. Pharrell)

Daft Punk are back with their first single in three years, and they’ve brought Pharell and Nile Rodgers along for the ride. Using no samples and nothing more technical than the vocoder on the bridge, “Get Lucky” is an infectious disco-funk anthem and will certainly be taking over our Summer playlists. SOTY anyone? Just listen below. ~Evan Kaloudis

 

02. Fred Neil – “The Dolphins”

With an expansive soundtrack spread out munificently over its six seasons, The Sopranos was a gold mine for music, new and old. I binged on this show a few months back, and Fred Neil was probably my favourite discovery. “The Dolphins” plays over a mobster tripping on heroin on the outskirts of a carnival. While the serene sadness of the visuals and the audio sound like they were made for each other (see here), the song is just as beautiful on its own. ~Brendan Frank

03. Vhol – “The Wall”

Metal super group Vhol (whose members are all metal veterans of related bands) recently released their debut album on Profound Lore Records, and it is loud, mesmerizing, and appropriately bone rattling. On lead track “The Wall,” you can practically hear the band tearing apart the studio through sheer force of will—the mammoth guitar riffs and jackhammer percussion don’t hurt either. The entire album maintains this level of dynamic interplay and labyrinthine tonality, and it will absolutely shake the skin from your bones. ~Joshua Pickard

04. Charli XCX – “You (Ha Ha Ha)”

Charli XCX (aka Charlotte Aitchison) makes hip-shattering, electronic bubblegum-pop. And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Her songs, despite their superficial pop gaudiness, hide subtle variations on the pop templates that radio riders have been using for years. She subverts pop expectations while sounding as though she could chew through the latest pop starlet without thinking twice about it. “You (Ha Ha Ha)” encapsulates all the best aspects of her seditious pop stylings. Once you hear it, it’s difficult to think about anything else. Listen but listen with caution. Go ahead, press play…I dare you. ~Joshua Pickard

05. War – “Brodermordet”

While the Copenhagen duo is now a quartet for their forthcoming Sacred Bones-released debut as Vår, this early single features  longtime friends Elias Bender Rønnenfelt (of Iceage) and Loke Rahbek (of Sexdrome). “Brodermordet” (which translates to “fratricide”) buries Rønnenfelt’s mumble amidst blown out synth pop. This is bleary industrial techno as heard through club walls after a long night out, translated by drug induced insomnia into something that straddles the thin line between fantasy and terror. ~Colin Joyce

06. A Hawk and A Hacksaw – “Ivan and Marichka/The Sorcerer”

I’ve been a fan of A Hawk and A Hacksaw ever since my formative Elephant 6 obsession. And when I heard that AHAAH co-founder Jeremy Barnes was associated with and had played on various E6 records, I didn’t need any more incentive to dive into the band’s discography. The band’s latest album You Have Already Gone to the Other World was inspired by filmmaker Sergei Parajanov’s 1965 film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. And “Ivan and Marichka/The Sorcerer” draws heavily upon Myroslav Skoryk’s original score for the film but updates the traditional European leanings with modern-day production and even manages to sneak in a furious electronic drum freakout toward the end. I guess I never really grew out of that initial E6 obsession. And artists like A Hawk and A Hacksaw are probably a big part of why I didn’t. ~Joshua Pickard

07. CHVRCHES – “Recover”

People sometimes forget how essential a good melody is to any given song and how difficult it can be to make that melody integral to the song. Some musicians think that a sickly sweet synth line or a repeated electronic squiggle can be used in place of well crafted melody but that’s only so much window dressing to cover weak songwriting. Scottish electro-pop group CHVRCHES seem to understand this far better than most of their electronically-minded peers. On their song “Recover,” which is the title track from their recent EP, the group put together one of the stickiest, most memorable melodies I’ve heard all year. It ranks up there with Robyn’s recent output in terms of pure pop satisfaction. ~Joshua Pickard

08. Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto – “mur”

Ryuichi Sakamoto, the keyboardist of Yellow Magic Orchestra and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence Soundtrack fame, has built something of a late career renaissance as a purveyor of beautifully sparse piano songs. His solo work is certainly compelling in its own right, but his work in collaboration is stunning, if only for comparing the ways that each of his partners treats his piano signal. Christian Fennesz casts a slight veil around the whole thing, shrouding Sakamoto’s work in brief swells of reverb, his touch is light and largely allows the piano to speak for itself. Sakamoto’s work with famed German electro-aesthete Alva Noto is often more heavy handed, but on “mur” he takes a similarly slight route, allowing Sakamoto’s keyboard work to soar above his bedrock of percussive blips and airy waves of noise. As I bury myself in a stack of final papers due as the semester draws to a close, I need fuzzy, indistinct tunes like “mur” to keep me company. ~Colin Joyce

09. Daughn Gibson – “The Sound of Law”

Daughn Gibson’s 2012 solo debut All Hell combined samples of country music with Gibson’s studied vocal crooning and delivered one of the most underrated albums of the year (and one that definitely got lost in the shuffle of year-end lists). He recently signed to Sub Pop Records and will release Me Moan, his first record for the veteran indie label, in June. “The Sound of Law,” the lead-off track from his new record, immediately ups the ante in terms of back roads workmanship, with tremulous guitars and snare rolls creating a vast deserted highway of inescapable isolation. His new record can’t get here soon enough. ~Joshua Pickard

 

10. Great Thunder – “Kees”

The Breeders-era rock crunch of Katie Crutchfield’s main band Waxahatchee has given way to something more relaxed—something more loosely knit together. This side-project, under the moniker Great Thunder, is also the home to Swearin’s Keith Spencer, and the two have formed an inimitable bond over mid-90’s alt-rock. They have just quietly released an EP of new material called Strange Kicks, and it is as deliciously and unapologetically pop/rock-ish as you might imagine. “Kees” shows Crutchfield and Spencer blowing through their influences at a marathon pace, tossing off rows of hummable guitar licks and tongue-curling melodies. You can hear the full EP over at their Bandcamp page. ~Joshua Pickard

 

If you enjoy any of these tracks, please support the artists.

The Playlist: April 5th, 2013

By ; April 5, 2013 at 8:34 PM 

The Radio Dept

The Playlist is a weekly column where staff writers and occasional guest musicians will have the opportunity to put together a Spotify playlist of songs which they’ve been listening to recently.


*”The Things That Went Wrong” by The Radio Dept is not currently available on Spotify.  A video created by staff member Autumn Andel has been substituted.

01. The Radio Dept. – “The Things That Went Wrong”

“My favourite band is The Radio Dept. and in 2011, I saw them three times in concert – Portland, Denmark, Sasquatch – all within a few months. They were supposed to return to Portland that November but the tour was cancelled. Then I tried to find my way to South America to see them last spring but couldn’t make it happen. Recently, I’ve learned that they are touring Asia this month and playing in Istanbul in June – information that came too late… the consequence of a band that has no interest in the Internet. So once again, I am mourning over the fact that I won’t be able to see them again.” ~Autumn Andel

02. Brown Bird – “Nine Eyes”

“”Nine Eyes”, the first single off Brown Bird’s new album Fits of Reason (April 2, Supply and Demand) encapsulates the duo’s transition from “folk artists” to kick-ass music makers. With a potent Middle Eastern feel, the band’s new direction is razor-like: cutting, precise; perhaps too sharp for some, but ultimately exhilarating.” ~Brian A. Hodge

03. Fishboy – “Minus Two”

“Sometimes the simplest songs are the ones that stay with you the longest.  I came across Denton, TX’s-own ecstatically pop Fishboy and fell hard.  I was just getting into the Elephant 6 Collective and fuzzy, catchy pop was my go-to drug of choice.  And “Minus Two” was one of the most insanely memorable songs that I’d heard in a very long time.  For quite some time, I wanted to have written this song.  Not too late, I guess.  Just let me dig out my Way-Back Machine.” ~Joshua Pickard

04. L-Vis 1990 – “Ballad 4D”

“I have become totally obsessed with this track: it sounds like typical Night Slugs fare until the minute-mark when the song plunges to ridiculous depths, somehow bringing forth a bass tone that sounds genuinely like a subaquatic transmission. I mean, the whole package is great, but the self-styled ‘submarine vibes’…damn. Hammering the replay on this one.” ~Gabriel Szatan

05. Apple Miner Colony – “The Heat Haunted Fever”

“There’s something to be said for getting exactly what you want and expect from a song. From the first time I heard “The Heat Haunted Fever,” I knew exactly what I wanted, and Apple Miner Colony were more than happy to oblige me.  The slightly folksy, slightly indie rock-ish tune just builds and builds until you know just when to expect the inevitable cathartic crescendo.  And when  it does come, it washes everything away–scrubbing you raw.  There’s something almost baptismal about the song–in the way it seems to wash you clean and leave you feeling slightly out of breath but happy to be breathing.” ~Joshua Pickard

06. Women – “Shaking Hand”

“This is the song that helped me understand that beautifully meticulous guitar work can be lifted to importance in the modern sense. “Shaking Hand” is a euphoric moment in the short life of a band that never quite got its full due.” ~Andrew Halverson

07. Jackson C. Frank – “Blues Run the Game”

“Beloved by folk historians and adored by filmmakers like Wes Anderson, Jackson C. Frank is the kind of ar artists that you kick yourself for never having heard of him…until you do.  His honey-coated vocals subtly remind you of Nick Drake but his rhythms and acoustic precision feel closer in tone to Paul Simon oddly enough.  “Blues Run the Game” is the consummate time capsule of mid-60′s minimalist pop folk perfection.” ~Joshua Pickard

08. Sean Nicolas Savage – “Common Ground”

“Sometimes, it takes a while for a song to “click” with you. This song didn’t “click” with me until one day I was driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, and it was overcast and my gas tank was just about empty and I’d just been dumped by a guy I’d been seeing and I tried to ash my cigarette out the window but I think the flaming ashes just flew into the back seat. Oh well. Thanks for understanding, Sean.” ~Josh Becker

09. Milk Music – “Illegal and Free”

“The living ghosts of the late ’80s converge on Olympia, Wa for 11 minutes of off the rails, Coxen-wailed, desert rock. Oh and guitarist Charles Waring says it’s the “best fucking record ever made.”” ~Colin Joyce

10. Ween – “She Wanted To Leave”

“Ween are…Ween.  If you’re a fan, you know why. If not, I’m not sure I could successfully articulate why you should love them, but you should.  Beneath the dick jokes and superficial assholery, Dean and Gene Ween are kickass musicians with a vicious dark humor.  But on The Mollusk (probably their best record to date), they toned it down and wrote a sea shanty of sorts about the wandering ways of a woman who has been loved and cared for her whole life.  And she has turned her back on this man who loved her above everything else, and only at his lowest does he finally understand.  And his last statement of “I’m not the man I used to be/Now, I’m one of them” is as honest a confession as you’re likely to ever hear.” ~Joshua Pickard

If you enjoy any of these tracks, please support the artists by purchasing their respective albums. 

The Playlist: March 29th, 2013

By ; March 29, 2013 at 6:37 PM 

David Bowie

The Playlist is a weekly column where staff writers and occasional guest musicians will have the opportunity to put together a Spotify playlist of songs which they’ve been listening to recently.


To commemorate David Bowie’s latest release The Next Day–his 24th studio album–the staff at Beats Per Minute have chosen an all-Bowie tracklist for The Playlist this week.  Read about and listen to our choices below.

01. “The Man Who Sold the World” (from The Man Who Sold the World, 1970)

“I came to Bowie relatively late in my musical education, and this was one of the first tracks that I really gravitated towards.  Forget the Nirvana cover–though it retrospect it probably did raise awareness of Bowie during the grunge years.  But that odd echo effect on his voice is so otherworldly, and the sense of desperation and violent intent is so palpable that the song still stands as one of my all-time favorite Bowie tracks.” ~Joshua Pickard

02. “We are the Dead” (from Diamond Dogs, 1974)

“Not sure why but I am drawn to music inspired by and is a reinterpretation of other art forms. Based on Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, Bowie best conveys the essence of the modern tragedy with this lyrically-dense track from Diamond Dogs.” ~Autumn Andel

03. “(You Will ) Set The World On Fire” (from The Next Day, 2013)

“My image of Bowie, even when he was experimenting, is that of a decidedly British pop-star. He has that British sound, so I love how un-British this opening riff is; it’s heavy and brutal.” ~Daniel Griffiths

04. “Subterraneans” (from Low, 1977)

“I got Low as a birthday present in high school. While I didn’t “get” most of it, this song, the album’s haunting closing track, stuck with me. In addition to being one of Bowie’s finest cuts, it also served as my gateway drug to Brian Eno.” ~Harrison Suits Baer

05. “Queen Bitch” (Hunky Dory, 1971)

“Remember when Bowie made the catchiest album of his career and then pretended to be Lou Reed and sang some gibberish about bibbity boppity hats? Never was Mr. Bowie more endearing, except perhaps in his turn as Nikola Tesla in The Prestige.” ~Colin Joyce

06. “Heroes” (from Heroes, 1977)

“”Heroes” is Bowie at his most glorious. Don’t argue. Amidst the bizarre ventures of the Berlin Trilogy, Bowie and Eno birthed the perfect pop track. Somehow, it wasn’t a true hit upon release. The story since is painfully obvious – Hell, supposedly, it’s his most covered song. It’s easy to see why. There’s plenty of debate as to when Bowie was at his best as ‘speaker for the culture’, but for my money, it’s right here. It doesn’t matter how many years pass. If a kid coming of age hears this song, he will understand it. He will love it. As the years start to heap on, rather than pass with ease, a growing mind can’t help but burst with life at the joyous desperation in Bowie’s chant. He, and his hypothetical lover, want to grasp life and tear it in the direction they’re going - fuck what reality demands. Because we can be heroes, if not for one day, no matter how jaded any of us become, we can believe it while the song is playing. That is a priceless thing. If you can’t just feel the explosion (I, I WILL BE KING! AND YOU, YOU WILL WILL BE QUEEN!), well, it’s time to figure out what the hell is wrong with you, buddy.” ~Chase McMullen

07. “Five Years” (from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, 1972) 

“Holding the distinction of being the first Bowie album that I ever bought, Ziggy Stardust has carved out a very special place in my heart, and the same could be said for its’ opening track “Five Years.” Having been covered by everyone from Arcade Fire to The Old 97′s, this track perfectly encapsulates the primal urges and cathartic necessity of Bowie’s music which seemed to always be on the verge of spilling out of the speakers onto your living room floor.” ~Joshua Pickard

08. “African Night Flight” (from Lodger, 1979)

Lodger, more or less unfairly, is often seen as the (no pun intended) low point in the ‘Berlin Trilogy’ collaboration between Bowie and Brian Eno. To be fair, there’s some truth in saying it’s their most scattered effort, but amidst the frolicking debris are some of the years-spanning project’s most deliciously “Eno” moments, such as the bizarre, Africana tinged track found here. Over the nearly playful drums and aggressive guitar, Bowie sounds quite nearly panicked, and if you can’t picture a cocaine fueled romp over questionably safe skies in an unknown continent, I’ll be damned. The Talking Heads have to be jealous of this one.” ~Chase McMullen

09. “Rock n’ Roll With Me” (from Diamond Dogs, 1974)

“I love the simplicity and sincerity in the sentiment of this song and it has one of the best choruses Bowie ever managed. It’s gotta be one of the more straightforward glam ballads recorded, but all the pieces are so perfectly placed–the drum fill that opens the track, the crash cymbal into the first chorus, the octave-up on the second verse, the syncopated guitar solo–and that last chorus is such a heart stopper.” ~Will Ryan

10. “Let’s Spend the Night Together” (from Aladdin Sane, 1973)

“It may be sacrilegious to say so, but I prefer this version to the original. The chaotic arrangement is a great showcase for Bowie’s impeccable piano chops, coming across like a more unhinged Elton John on the keys.” ~Harrison Suits Baer

11. “Always Crashing in the Same Car” (from Low, 1977)

“I like how this song has it’s mind set towards two directions; early 70′s era guitar-driven Bowie, and a more ethereal synth Bowie and it never seems to set both feet in either camp. Even the vocals move between the two.” ~Daniel Griffiths

“So much of Bowie’s music is, shamelessly, unabashedly drug-fueled. It goes without saying. It both certainly took years of creativity from him in the long run, and skyrocketed the completely, unnaturally perfect, fulfilled nature of his best artistic wanderings. It bleeds through, oh so obviously, in near all his 70′s material. “Always Crashing in the Same Car”, is an intriguing outlier. Recorded in the USA during a supposedly “sober” period in his career, it doesn’t much matter if he was, or if he wasn’t. Because what shines through here is his desire to be. Whereas his usual swagger revels in the debauchery he was famous for, here we can hear the pain, the desperate need for a “better” self, however Bowie could define such a thing. The dark title says it all – he doesn’t succeed, and worse, he already knows it. It sure makes for a great, painful pop tune.” ~Chase McMullen

12. “Space Oddity” (from Space Oddity, 1969)

“This track always seemed to place Bowie on some other world, musically and physically.  He was willing to go to the places where other musicians could not and would not go.  He was that one person who never backed down but crossed over into the darkness willingly.  He never hesitated to light a candle for us in that darkness, extend his hand, and ask us to trust him.   And I’ll be damned if we didn’t follow along with him every time.  It’s probably a good thing too–I’m not sure I can imagine a world where David Bowie wasn’t David Bowie.” ~Joshua Pickard

*Bonus Track: Iggy Pop – “Nightclubbing” (from The Idiot, 1977)

“If you ask me, no collection of Bowie tunes is complete without a drop by from The Idiot. The story goes like this, for some time following the implosion of The Stooges, Iggy Pop was far from the rock idol he’s remembered for, and always should have been. Lost in depression and rampant drug addiction, it’d take an army to get material out his ailing soul. Or, as it turned out, David Bowie. As to exactly how positive an influence Bowie was, well…that’s debatable. Rumors still circle suggesting he smuggled cocaine in to Pop at the treatment center he’d holed up in. Who knows, truthfully, all that matters in retrospect is that Bowie got him back to where he truly needed to be – making music.

As Pop regained his strength, his recordings would grow to sound all the more himself, but the first record to spawn from his return reeks of Bowie’s paw prints. In fact, the album is oft considered the true beginning of Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy, the man himself later admitting Pop had been a “guinea pig” for his sound. All the luck to Pop, as it blossomed into one of his finest records. “Nightclubbing”, perhaps in particular, spoke of Bowie’s influence, Pop describing it as the product of how it felt “hanging” with Bowie. Still, the sarcastic, faux narcissistic, doomed vibe of the slow-trodding krautrock like track fit Pop’s own mentality at the time perfectly, a truly consummate meeting of the minds.” ~Chase McMullen

If you enjoy any of these tracks, please support the artist by purchasing any of his albums. 

The Playlist: March 22, 2013

By ; March 22, 2013 at 6:55 AM 

Sigur Ros_2

The Playlist is a weekly column where staff writers and occasional guest musicians will have the opportunity to put together a Spotify playlist of songs which they’ve been listening to recently.


* “Stare and Fallin’” from Zacarocha and “The World is Full of Angry Young Men” by XTC are unavailable on Spotify.  Soundcloud and YouTube links have been substituted.

01. Sigur Rós – “Sæglópur”

“Sometimes you just want to hear something without worrying about what it means and Sigur Ros are usually perfect for that. Last years Valtari was brilliant but nothing can really compare to Takk and ‘Saeglopur’ is one of the best from that album.” ~Leslie Fernandez

02. Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse (feat. The Flaming Lips) – “Revenge”

Dark Night of the Soul, the collaboration between Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse and the final recorded album Mark Linkous left behind for us, has never really blended in for me with the rest of the Sparklehorse catalog. As much as I’ve wanted to warm up to it, I never have. But this song is absolutely incredible and remains a propped open gateway to the other songs on the album. So long as I keep coming back to this one track, Dark Night of the Soul will keep getting chance after chance to click. I’m hopeful that one day it will.” ~Andrew J. Bailey

03. Zacarocha – “Stare and Fallin’”

“Like a chopped-and-screwed James Blake on steroids, Portugal’s Guilherme Lopes takes ambient and future garage tropes and infuses them with a loving dollop of haunted soul. Great stuff, especially for a first release.” ~Josh Becker

04. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – “More News From Nowhere”

“The back catalogue of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is a wonderful, glorious thing, and the closing track on Dig Lazarus Dig! is full of violent, stirring poetry from an ace storyteller. Cave sure goes to some weird parties.” ~Brendan Frank

05. Future Bible Heroes – “Losing Your Affection”

“Stephin Merritt’s intentions for the direction of his Future Bible Heroes side project (a collaboration with ex-boyfriend Chris Ewen and Magnetic Field Claudia Gonson) can best be summed up by the fact that he once contributed three covers, with three separate aliases, to a Human League tribute album and saved “Don’t You Want Me” for this one. The collaboration just dropped the first single from their newest effort, Partygoing, so now’s as good a time as any to acquaint yourself with this excellent opening cut from 2002’s Eternal Youth.” ~Ryan Stanley

06. Thanksgiving – “Thanksgiving”

“I’ve spent some time lately delving into the weird secluded world of Adrian Orange. This self-reflective cut is culled from Orange’s 2005 self-titled effort as Thanksgiving, released when he was only 19. Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie called Orange, around this time, the writer of the greatest songs in the world, and Orange’s sonorous voice and fumbly acoustic guitar ramblings don’t do much to shirk that assertion.” ~Colin Joyce

07. Bonobo – “All In Forms”

“Bonobo’s new album, The North Borders, is out in a couple weeks and I’m pretty excited. This track’s a gem from his 2010 album Black Sands. I love when he holds the drums from coming in a few seconds too long before letting them crash in. Pure escapism, this one.” ~Will Ryan

08. Iceage – “Ecstasy”

“I’ve been too busy to listen to numerous new releases, but finally got around to hearing the latest Iceage album, in anticipation of their show this Saturday. The ferocious heedlessness of the song feels like an antidote to the annoying two-week old pain I’ve been experiencing from nerve/tissue -related damage. I’m sure I’ll be feeling ecstasy on Saturday night instead of pain.” ~Autumn Andel

09. XTC – “The World Is Full Of Angry Young Men”

“XTC’s songs have a way of being somehow even more relevant 30 years later. This is one such song, whose sentiment has, with the advent of the internet, become far too apparent.” ~Harrison Suits Baer

10. Yo La Tengo – “Cast A Shadow”

“I’d always enjoyed Beat Happening for tunes like “Indian Summer” and “Tiger Trap,” but it was “Our Secret” and “Cast a Shadow” that made me love them. Yo La Tengo’s cover of the latter trades in the original’s frayed beauty for something more traditionally pretty, but it never loses the heart of the song’s charm. As such, it might just be the perfect window into Beat Happening’s world for anybody initially put off by Calvin Johnson and co.’s often unabashedly ugly style.” ~Ryan Stanley

11. Zomby – “Strange Fruit”

“Predating both studio releases that brought the Anonymous fiend to wider attention, ‘Strange Fruit’ is a seemingly endless rendering of warped Game Over melodies, hefty knocks and welterweight bass that adds up to one of the most energetic tracks in Zomby’s repertoire, and one of the best to boot. Over the weekend I watched a DJ drop this in a packed club at peak time; no-one had heard it in years but it proved absolutely revelatory, a full half-decade after release.” ~Gabriel Szatan

12. Phosphorescent – “The Mermaid Parade”

“With Matthew Houck having just released his latest record as Phosphorescent this week, I found myself going back and forth between his latest, Muchacho, and his previous record Here’s To Taking It Easy.  The absolutely stunning apex track on Here’s To Taking It Easy, the deceptively laid-back, yet emotionally devastating tale of marital collapse that is “The Mermaid’s Parade,” plies much of its intensity and wrought-iron integrity from Houck’s honestly effective and plain spoken lyrics.  And when he sings “But god damn it Amanda, oh god damn it all,” it just kills me.” ~Joshua Pickard

If you enjoy any of these tracks, please support the artists by purchasing their respective albums. 

R.I.P. Jason Molina

By ; March 18, 2013 at 2:34 PM 

jason molina

R.I.P. Jason Molina

It was announced today that Jason Molina, who released a bunch of beautiful albums under the names Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. (amongst others) has passed away from organ failure due to alcoholism. His alcoholism was known about for a while, and not too long ago his family put out a plea asking for donations to help Jason get into rehab, but Molina’s notoriety was never that high, and had faded substantially in the last few years as he fell off the map, so evidently they never managed to get him together. Which is a real fucking shame.

Why is it the deaths of the artists that made sad music and had sad back stories that affect me the most? I remember when Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) died a few years ago I was depressed for days, and I have a feeling it’s going to be the same with Molina. I think it’s because they had tough times and it seems like they never got their happy endings, which is just how brutal life is in reality, I suppose.

Linkous suffered from depression his whole life and mal-formed legs following his overdose while supporting Radiohead in the 90s. It had seemed like the problems were behind him though, having just released an album with Danger Mouse and David Lynch in 2009 and with talk of a new Sparklehorse album in the works, when the news came that he had killed himself in March 2010. By shooting himself in the heart.

With Molina, I had ignorantly assumed that his friends, family and fans would gather around him and nurse him back to health and he would release a stunning comeback album filled with stories beautifully rendered in song about the pain and strife that he’d been through. Alas, it was not meant to be.

Both Linkous’ and Molina’s music is hauntingly beautiful and I think that’s also part of the reason why their deaths affected me; their music is so brutally honest it was refreshing and crushing in equal measure, and I had endless time for it. Now their songs will haunt me in different ways.

Molina has such a vast back catalogue that I still haven’t even managed to get through it all, but I’ll be doing my best to do so in the coming months. My favourite album of his is The Magnolia Electric Co., the last album he released under the name Songs: Ohia in 2003, before taking up the album’s title as his new artist name. Below I’ve posted the opening track “Farewell Transmission,” which seems appropriate as Jason makes his journey to wherever we go to after we leave this plain. In fact, I’ve been listening through the album as I write this and pretty much every song seems perfect for this moment – particularly the closing “Hold On, Magnolia,” but you should listen through the whole album to reach that point – he was a genius at tapping into these moods. I recommend you listen to it. (It’s here on Spotify.)

So farewell Jason, I hope the next life treats you better.

Here are the full and brilliant lyrics to “Farewell Transmission”

The whole place is dark
Every light on this side of the town
Suddenly it all went down
Now we’ll all be brothers of the fossil fire of the sun
Now we will all be sisters of the fossil blood of the moon
Someone must have set us up
Now they’ll be working in the cold grey rock,
in the hot mill steam… in the concrete
In the sirens and the silences now
all the great set up hearts
all at once start to beat
After tonight if you don’t want us to be
a secret out of the past
I will resurrect it, I’ll have a good go at it
I’ll streak his blood across my beak and dust my feathers with his ashes
I can feel his ghost breathing down my back
I will try and know whatever I try,
I will be gone but not forever
The real truth about it is
no one gets it right
The real truth about it is
we’re all supposed to try
There ain’t no end to the sands
I’ve been trying to cross
The real truth about it is my kind of life’s no better off
If I’ve got the maps or if I’m lost
The real truth about it is there ain’t no end to the desert I’ll cross
I’ve really known that all along
Mama here comes midnight
with the dead moon in its jaws
Must be the big star about to fall
Long dark blues
Will-o’-the-wisp
The big star is falling
Through the static and distance
A farewell transmission
Listen

The Playlist: March 15, 2013

By ; March 15, 2013 at 11:23 AM 

Biggie

The Playlist is a weekly column where staff writers and occasional guest musicians will have the opportunity to put together a Spotify playlist of songs which they’ve been listening to recently.


For the inaugural installment of The Playlist, our staff writers culled through hundreds of songs that they’ve listened to recently and came up with 12 tracks to highlight.  These songs represent a sizable cross-section of genres and individual tastes and is representative of the wide range of music that we here at Beats Per Minute enjoy.  The Playlist will be be posted every Friday and will attempt to document a small chunk of the music which has been filtering through the listening habits of the BPM staff.

* “Miasma Sky” by Baths and “Rafflesia” by Boris are not available on Spotify, so Soundcloud and YouTube links have been substituted below.

01. Baths – “Miasma Sky” (from Obsidian, 2013)

“The first single from Baths’ new album Obsidian reflects the qualities that he’s been teasing towards in recent interviews–a dark-but-hooky sound that leans even further in the direction of Cerulean’s pop tunes “Plea” and “Hall” and farther away from blissed out instrumentals like “Aminals” and “Maximalist.” If you weren’t stoked already, you should be now.” ~Ryan Stanley

02. Josh Ritter – “Wildfires” (from The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter (Bonus EP), 2007)

“Josh Ritter’s new album, The Beast In Its Tracks, came out last week and has inspired me to pick back through his back catalog. “Wildfires” is one of Ritter’s most subtle, ethereal songs and was released on a bonus EP to complement 2007′s The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. For best results, try listening through the privacy of headphones under the cover of darkness.” ~Andrew Bailey

03. YAST – “Stupid” (from “Stupid” single, 2012)

“Released in the fall of 2012, “Stupid” is the summer nostalgia bottled in a song, Swedish dream pop style – a perfect pick-me-upper for when weather or life becomes dreary.” ~Autumn Andel

04. Kendrick Lamar – “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” (from Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, 2012)

“My recent obsession with this song started as an attempt to annoy my non hip-hop appreciating cousins but they somehow ended up loving it as much as me. Proof that some songs are just too good or just too fun to be limited by genre.” ~Leslie Fernandez

05. Daniel Johnston & Jad Fair – “Chords of Fame” (from It’s Spooky, 1989)

“I’ve always liked Daniel Johnston’s music more in idea than in practice. It’s always just a bit too rough around the edges, but this collaboration with Jad Fair of Half Japanese (and in particular this heartbreaking/heartwarming Phil Ochs cover) reels in the ramshackle guitar work to make something charmingly inept, instead of just…inept.” ~Colin Joyce

06. Jim James – “A New Life” (from Regions Of Light And Sound Of God, 2013)

“Try as I might, I can’t seem to shake Jim James’ “A New Life” from my head. The song is pure wishful thinking and wistful ease – particularly the bari-sax-led breakdown that fills the song’s second half – but sometimes that’s just what people need. Time to stop trying to shake the song and start shaking other things.” ~Brian Hodge

07. Queen & David Bowie – “Under Pressure” (from Hot Space, 1982)

“With the release of The Next Day, I’ve been revisiting some of Bowie’s best performances. This may be the pinnacle. Faced with Freddie Mercury’s theatrics Bowie stays reserved throughout, but when he does decide to go up the gears the results are simply magnificent.” ~Daniel Griffiths

08. The Notorious B.I.G. – “Notorious Thugs” (from Life After Death, 1997)

“In commemoration of the 16th anniversary of his death, I’ve chosen the opening track off disc 2 of Life After Death for this inaugural edition of The Playlist. Accompanied by Bone Thugz, B.I.G. gifts us with one of his best flows every recorded to tape. R.I.P. the King of Rap.” ~Evan Kaloudis

09. R.E.M. – “Shaking Through” (from Murmur, 1983)

“If I ever hit it big and get to make a guest appearance on Sesame Street, this is the song I want to play. Absolutely perfect pop music. And that rumbling piano is so rich and cozy. Possibly the most fun song R.E.M. ever wrote.” ~Josh Becker

10. Boris – “Rafflesia” (from Rainbow, 2007)

“Michio Kurihara’s guitar solo on this song is a cosmic force. For a group that traded so heavily in the subterranean oppressiveness of drone doom, Boris sure knew how to fly.” ~Will Ryan

11. The Game & 50 Cent – “Hate It or Love It” (from The Documentary, 2005)

“In a year where he scored two reprehensible smash hits about his member and managed to fall out with pretty much everyone he came into contact with, The Game included, it seems as if the remaining positivity and decency left in Fiddy’s body was channeled solely into this track. The buttery soul sample perfectly compliments the uplifting message of anti-materialism and hard graft that both MCs put forward, adding up to a sublime track; eight years on and neither has come close to bettering it.” ~Gabriel Szatan

12. The Righteous Brothers – “Unchained Melody” (from Just Once In My Lifetime, 1965)

“From the rising harmonies and surprisingly cathartic instrumentation to the downright flawless melody (obviously), this absolutely stunning track from The Righteous Brothers never ceases to amaze. If the hairs don’t stand up on the back of your neck on your 100th listen, then I’d wager you’ve got ice water in your veins…and you probably hate kittens too. ~Joshua Pickard

If you enjoy any of these tracks, please support the artists by purchasing their respective albums. 

Listen to Purity Ring cover Soulja Boy live

By ; January 22, 2013 at 2:40 PM 

Purity Ring

Photo by Michael Do

I traveled down to Tampa this weekend to catch electronic pop favorites Purity Ring at the Orpheum, where the duo performed exactly one song that wasn’t on last year’s Shrines: a soulful RnB-ish number that was later identified, awesomely, as a cover of Soulja Boy’s “Grammy”, from the rapper’s third album The DeAndre Way. Judging from Youtube videos, the duo has apparently been performing the cover throughout the most recent leg of their North American tour — at this point all we can do is pray for a recorded version. Maybe they can get Soulja to jump on that banger “Belispeak” rework too. The possibilities are truly only as limited as the imagination. But even if nothing comes from it all, we finally have something to listen to alongside Beach House’s Gucci Mane cover, and that’s really all we can ask for.

Watch a video of Purity Ring performing the song in Atlanta below, and under that listen to Soulja Boy’s original.

Ray’s Overlooked Records of 2012

By ; January 9, 2013 at 12:00 AM 

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