Latest Media

Track Premiere: Scott Barkan – “Leaving Here”

By Joshua Pickard; December 11, 2013 at 10:41 AM 

Scott Barkan - Flightless Bird

New York City native Scott Barkan creates music to hold back the shadows of his hometown. Simply by the nature of the city’s expanse, music can have a tendency to fall into the cracks of its streets and alleyways and boroughs. But Barkan’s music, while at times understated and subtle, can build into powerful expressions of folk-rock and Americana aesthetics. Growing up in a Long Island suburb, he became obsessed with music at an early age and formed his first band, Barky, as way to explore his avant-rock/jazz tendencies.

He eventually began doing session work for artists from NYC to Los Angeles but soon realized that he wanted to shift his focus from technical fretwork to something more along the lines of the singers and songwriters with whom he’d been playing — though he would retain that technical prowess in his solo work. And so with that thought, he began recording his own records and diving headlong into his varied and extensive influences. Barkan is now gearing up for the release of his latest record, Flightless Bird, due out January 14th.

For our latest glimpse into the record, Barkan has shared the epic folk rocker, “Leaving Here,” and with its intricately picked guitar notes and deep, rumbling rhythms, the song digs deep into the heart of his musical roots, exploring aspects of folk, Americana, and southern rock. And even though Barkan draws from a variety of inspirations, the song never feels worn or simply the sum of its admittedly fascinating parts. There is a warmth and comfortable cohesiveness that ties the song together, allowing the notes to bend and condense at a moment’s notice. Barkan pulls together bits and pieces of a handful of genres into one definitive musical statement which proudly wears its influences on its sleeve.

Beats Per Minutes is pleased to premiere the second single, “Leaving Here,” from Scott Barkan’s upcoming album, Flightless Bird.

Track Premiere: Anthony Rankin – “Phoenix In Vegas”

By Joshua Pickard; December 10, 2013 at 7:43 AM 

Phoenix-CDBaby-Single

With the release of his latest EP, Love Elektrik, in September, Nashville-based pop artist Anthony Rankin created a simmering brew of sugary pop melodies, pristine production, and soulful vocal theatrics.  But as that release was only the first in a proposed series of interrelated Love Elektrik EP’s, Rankin is far from resting on his laurels.  In fact, the next installment, Love Elektrik #2, is due out in early 2014.  Having already established himself in the country-pop field with tracks that broke the Top 1o0 of the national Medibase Country charts, his crossover to polished dance pop might seem at first to be a bit odd, but as you hear his new songs and feel the beating heart beneath them, you begin to understand that they’re not so dissimilar after all.

For our first glimpse into Love Elektrik #2‘s dancefloor world, Rankin has chosen the vibrant, pulsating beats of “Phoenix In Vegas.”  The technicolor rhythms and chromatic heartbeat lead you through a gossamer pop landscape of iridescent harmonies and thumping percussion.  The track is all surging synthetic momentum and cascading vocals, primed for the club but personal enough to soundtrack any late-night drive through the heart of the titular city.  Rankin effortlessly switches between arena bombast and more intimate feelings at a moment’s notice, but he’s  most comfortable ascending skyward, never resting until he’s well past the rafters and out into the blinding sunlight.

Beats Per Minutes is pleased to premiere Anthony Rankin’s latest single, “Phoenix In Vegas.”

Album Stream Premiere: Snowflake – We All Grow Toward The Sea

By Joshua Pickard; December 10, 2013 at 7:39 AM 

WEGTTS_Outside

Producer and mixer  D. James Goodwin (aka Snowflake) has been manning the boards for a host of artists including Norah Jones, Naki King, and Devo for well over a decade, and now it’s time for him to take center stage.  Goodwin began working on his own project in 2012 and finished sometime ine arly 2013.  Secluded at his personal studio, The Isokon, in The Catskills, he wrote and recorded his debut, We All Grow Toward The Sea, all by himself — with no one else in sight or within earshot.  Chronicling the hesitant decisions and pressures of everyday life, the album develops a determined pop aesthetic that allows it to grow and unfold at its own pace, where the cinematic angles of the music meet and bounce off each other in unexpected ways and often in opposing directions.

Taking a multifaceted look at art-rock, the album swings between moments of fractured rock abandon and quieter introspective asides.  Taking its cue from bands like post-rockers Mogwai and psych icons Pink Floyd, Goodwin imbues the record with a sense of boundless creativity — where one harmony or melodic progression may suddenly disintegrate and become something entirely different.  And its in this sense of unanticipated composition that We All Grow Toward The Sea finds its own niche.  The album never feels staid or still but always seems to be moving forward toward some undefined destination.  And like the the best musicians, Goodwin’s twisting and imaginative journey to that obscure musical end is the real reason to stick by his side.

Beats Per Minute is pleased to premiere the album stream of Snowflake’s debut LP, We All Grow Toward The Sea.

Track Premiere: My Education – “Deep Cut”

By Joshua Pickard; December 9, 2013 at 9:52 AM 

My Education - 5 Popes

Texas post-rockers My Education have been feeling a bit nostalgic lately.  Over the last decade or so, the band has recorded and released a wealth of albums, 7″s, and guest appearances on various compilations.  They’ve even worked on a handful of film scores for different labels.  And in their attempt to translate this plethora of music into a live setting, My Education has developed a notoriously cathartic live show.  And it’s been their rabid fanbase which has been a big reason for their success, and in the spirit of reciprocation, they thought that they would grant a common fan request — that being, the release of their 2001 album, 5 Popes, on vinyl.  The album was originally released on CD via Ballyhoo Withdrawal and Thirty Ghosts Records but will find new life on wax with Beat Imprint Records on February 4th, complete with two new mixes and a bonus track.

The band has chosen to release “Deep Cut” as the first single from the re-issued album, and with its streaks of droning guitars, strings, and guiding percussion, the song is a perfect entry point for those not familiar with My Education’s insular vision of post-rock.   There are peaks and valleys throughout the track, with a euphoric rock intensity threaded into each note and crescendo.  This is music that demands participation and feeds off the emotional response from its listener.  It becomes a sort of musical Rorschach test, with the music suiting whatever memories and sentiment you care to bring along.  And even if you’ve never the song before, it quickly takes on the nature of a familiar favorite, with the audience slipping into is warm and rich tones before you even realize it.

Beats Per Minute is pleased to premiere the new single, “Deep Cut,” from My Education’s recently remastered album, 5 Popes.

Track Premiere: Chalk and Numbers – “Brave Boy Jump”

By Joshua Pickard; December 6, 2013 at 12:41 PM 

Fraggle Rock - Shine On

Do you remember Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock kids show, with the lovable Fraggles, Gorgs, Doozers and “Silly Creatures”? If you grew up during the 80’s, there’s a good chance that you do.  And it seems as though some bands do too.  Recently, the Jim Henson Company quietly released the first two albums in their Fraggle Rock – Shine On compilation — a collection of Fraggle Rock covers performed by Thee Oh Sees, Red Fang, City Lights, and more.  A third disc is on its way sometime in the near future, which includes a contribution from Animal Collective.

But for now, let’s look at Brooklyn indie pop band Chalk and Numbers, as they’ve tackled a song on the compilation called “Brave Boy Jump” and present it as their own slice of aural nostalgia.  Running surf rock guitar lines and a bouncy, pop-centric beat against singer Sable Yong’s hook-y harmonies, the song is a vibrant and colorful accompaniment to the motivational lyrics and fits perfectly within the wildly off-kilter world of the Fraggles.  It’s a song that can get both Muppets and humans dancing in no time — and wastes no time in doing just that.

Beats Per Minutes is pleased to premiere the song, “Brave Boy Jump,” from Chalk and Numbers off the recently released Fraggle Rock compilation, Shine On.

Track Premiere: This Frontier Needs Heroes – “Lonely Kind of Christmas”

By Joshua Pickard; December 6, 2013 at 12:11 PM 

Lonely_Christmas_Single_Cover

Never let it be said that brother-sister folk duo This Frontier Needs Heroes doesn’t get in the holiday spirit.  On a recent stop by the Converse Rubber Tracks Studio in Brooklyn, the group recorded a new song called “Lonely Kind of Christmas” and, with it, are here to offer their own kind of Christmas cheer.  The group also brought on New Yorker illustrator Marcellus Hall to handle the song’s artwork (which you can see above).  As evidenced by the title, the song isn’t your typical Christmas song but is instead a hesitant and slightly maudlin view of love — and the lack thereof — during this season of Santa Claus and Rudolph.  But you got to hand it to them, that sax solo is an inspired  bit of production and anchors the song firmly within the realm of past holiday traditions.

But far some coming across as a mere cash grab for this time of the year, This Frontier Needs Heroes make this song feel as necessary and opportune as anything in their back catalogue — it just happens to be about Christmas.  The undercurrent of longing and self-deprecation can’t hide the fact that the song is indeed a call for people to come together in some fashion, whether its family, friends, or lovers.  And if you happen to lean toward the more Scrooge-y thoughts regarding the holidays, let the simple honesty of its slightly forlorn attitude clear out the festive cobwebs, even if it’s just for a little while.  It is Christmas after all.

Beats Per Minutes is pleased to premiere This Frontier Needs Heroes’ latest song, “Lonely Kind of Christmas.”

Track Premiere: Leona Lewis – “Bleeding Love” (Challenger Remix)

By Joshua Pickard; December 5, 2013 at 7:12 AM 

Leona Lewis - Challenger Remix

There’s really not much left to say about British singer Leona Lewis’ ridiculously popular song “Bleeding Love.”  It was the best-selling single of 2007 in the UK and went on to sale over 9 million copies (digital and physical) across the world.  It reached number one in 33 countries, making it one of only two songs to accomplish this feat — the other being “Candle In The Wind 1997” by Elton John.  The song has had numerous remixes and covers so it’s never really had the chance to leave music fans’ collective consciousness — and now with the new remix by Brooklyn rockers Challenger, the song is given new life and has a visceral punch that few artists have managed to impart to the song.

Trading off the original’s slick pop production for something denser, something more ominous, this re-imagining dirties up the beat and surrounds it in a slight haze of distortion and electronic cacophony.  The song has been transformed from its airy, catchy former self to a foreboding slice of electro-pop.  Lewis’ vocal theatrics and the reconstructed instrumentation circle each other in a hesitant dance before finally giving in and embracing each other in a colossal cathartic release.  But that’s exactly what great pop should do — by giving the listener an outlet for pent-up emotional frustration, music becomes overtly participatory, and we all become part of its legacy.  And that’s precisely what Challenger have done here.  By injecting even more feeling and a communal sense of pop identity to Lewis’ song, they’ve created a song that lives and breathes for its audience — which only makes the Spring 2014 release of the band’s upcoming album, Back To Bellevue, seem like it can’t get here soon enough.

Beats Per Minute is pleased to premiere Challenger’s remix of Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love.”

Album Stream Premiere: Various Artists – You Be My Heart: A Benefit for 826 Valencia

By Joshua Pickard; December 4, 2013 at 7:25 AM 

You Be My Heart

826 National is a non-profit organization which, according to its press release, strives to offer “a variety of inventive programs that provide under-resourced students, ages 6-18, with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills.”  And in service to this cause, more than a few well-known artists have supplied their talents to You Be My Heart: A Benefit for 826 Valencia (due out December 9th), a charity compilation featuring such artists as Mark Kozelek, Bowerbirds, Marissa Nadler, and Saturday Looks Good To Me.

All the songs on this comp were written by long-time 826 National volunteer and musician Devon Reed, and his songs serve as the canvas for each individual artist to create something new from Reed’s original creations.  The proceeds from the sale of this album will go to help raise awareness and money for the program’s continued existence.

From the jangle rock influenced “Mrs. Marquis de Sade” by The Cloud Room to the stark folk musings of Mark Kozelek’s “I Know,” the songs on this album cover a wide stretch of tonal ground.  Even when a song seems fairly uncomplicated like Marissa Nadler’s haunting “Half As Much,” it reveals more and more on repeated listens.  And it’s this act of examination and release which gives the album a sense of purpose and determined momentum.  But beyond even that, this compilation looks to help young people write and explore their own creativity, and if we happen to get a great album out of the process, then that’s just a bonus.

Beats Per Minute is pleased to premiere the album stream of charity compilation, You Be My Heart: A Benefit for 826 Valencia.

Video Premiere: Gloom Balloon – “She Was The One That Got Away”

By Joshua Pickard; December 3, 2013 at 7:20 AM 

Gloom Balloon

After an extensive  13-month tour, Ames, IA pop band The Poison Control Center were ready for some time off.  It was during this period of musical hibernation that The Poison Control Center founder Patrick Tape Fleming found himself slipping into a deep depression with no creative outlet for his musical ideas — but then he began painting.  His first piece was titled “Gloom Balloon” and so the seeds were sown for what would become his musical and artistic salvation.  But even before that, his depression has gotten so bad and so thorough that his mental state had left him on the verge of suicide.  It was then that he heard of the death of his musical hero Olivia Tremor Control’s Bill Doss.

And so Fleming decided to live and honor Doss through his own music as Gloom Balloon, which he does on his latest collection of songs called You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Disaster/Fix The Sunshine Pts. 1-7 (An Ode To Bill Doss) (out now on Maximum Ames Records).  Bringing producer/musician Christopher Ford (aka Christopher The Conquered) and string arranger H.D. Harmsen on board for the album, Fleming creates songs that resonant with a classical tint while also employing a more modern electronic approach — acoustic guitars sit side-saddle with hip hop beats and sax runs meld together with fractured spoken word narratives.

For the video to album cut “She Was The One That Got Away,” Fleming and Ford created an abstract black and white clip where two women stand in a field, one holding a gun to her own head, while the other slowly removes her clothes.  We eventually get a glimpse of a man running toward them from the distance.  The odd visuals pair up nicely with the song’s saxophone trills and curiously rapped verses while leading us willingly into the catchy pop chorus.  It’s hard not to try to lend the video some deeper meaning, but its purposefully obtuse approach to the medium keeps us at bay, with only our best guess concerning the thought behind the clip — it’s a Rorschach test for music lovers and our own interpretation of the intent heightens our level of emotional connectivity to the song.  It’s a fascinating juxtaposition of anticipation and offbeat experimentation, and Gloom Balloon wouldn’t have it any other way.

Beats Per Minute is pleased to premiere  the video for “She Was The One That Got Away,” taken from Gloom Balloon’s debut 7″ single/album.

Track Premiere: Bhavana Reddy – “Smells Like Rain”

By Joshua Pickard; December 2, 2013 at 11:28 AM 

Bhavana Reddy - Tangled In Emotions

Los Angeles-based (though hailing from India) singer and renowned dancer Bhavana Reddy was born to a life of music and art.  Her parents, Raja and Radha Reddy, are known across the world for their exploration of the south Indian dance form known as Kuchipudi.  They run the Natya Tarangini Institute of Kuchipudi Dance in New Delhi and are credited with having taken the traditional aspects of Kuchipudi and injected a sense of modern composition without compromising its base form.  This regiment of dance and song had a profound impact on their daughter, as she became known for her unique take on the dance as well — though in recent years, she has also veered into the musical side of things.

She is set to release her self-produced debut EP, Tangled In Emotions, on February 8th.  Mixing the varying timbres and textures of eastern music with the western rhythms of her native country, Reddy looks to make inroads into blues, rock, and folk through her melodic interpretation of the 72 parent ragas (scales) of Indian Carnatic music.  This amalgamation of styles and execution lends her work a neo-psychedelic feeling — a melting pot of ideas and technique.

On the EP’s lead single, “Smells Like Rain,” she blends a cathartic rock melody with a series of vocal acrobatics to create a song that evokes vaguely middle-eastern sounds while still sounding as though her feet are firmly planted within indie rock’s fertile soil.  Haunting string harmonies and percussive blasts combine to form the platform from which her powerful voice leaps like a diver into the swells of layered instrumentation.   There are moments when the song pulls back to reveal a skeletal frame, where only a stringed instrument and vocal harmonics interweave to form beautiful and icy rhythms.  But these are short-lived as the song repeatedly gathers and expels musical crescendos that carry the listener along on a wave of tonal release.

Beats Per Minute is pleased to premiere the lead single, “Smells Like Rain,” from Bhavana Reddy’s debut EP, Tangled In Emotions.

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