Monday, November 29, 2010

The Big Beat 'cast 03

Alas, the stream had to come down but here's what was featured.

Weekend - Age Class
Crystal Stilts - Shake The Shackles
Glasser - Mirrorage
Paper Crows - Cloudbusting
Oh Land - Sun Of A Gun
Giant Sand - Monk's Mountain
Trophy Wife - Take This Night
Tame Impala - Solitude Is Bliss
Alex Chilton, Ray Davies, & The 88 - Till The End Of The Day
The Kinks - All Day And All Of The Night
ID - Sunrise
Focus - Hocus Pocus
Yes - Tempus Fugit

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mona - Dayton to Nashville to London


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I don't know about you, but this is my favorite holiday. Not a lot of pressure, just food, friends, football and a bit of downtime. We're staying put in Austin but will be thinking about our families back in Ohio. Hers is near Hillsboro and mine's in Dayton, to be precise.

The Gem City also happens to be the hometown of Mona. The quartet won the 2005 Dayton Band Playoffs before relocating to Nashville the following year, and are the latest from the Music City hoping that the path to stardom winds through London. Just as Kings Of Leon, Cage The Elephant, Be Your Own Pet, and Caitlin Rose - all Nashville based - really launched their careers by spending a considerable amount of time cultivating a British audience, Mona is following their lead.

Their first trip to the UK came barely two months ago after being named to NME's Best New Bands of 2010 list. Now, they've a tour scheduled throughout December that includes the opening slot on a Brixton Academy bill with the Manic Street Preachers, White Lies, Two Door Cinema Club, and The Drums. Just last week, Mona appeared on Jools Holland's show alongside up-and-comers Robert Plant, Adele, and Arcade Fire. Watch 'em performing their debut single "Listen To Your Love".

Make no mistake: Mona make anthemic, radio-friendly music that could very well see them following KOL and Cage The Elephant to success in the US charts. Perhaps they'll be the latest musical success story from Dayton, Ohio, USA, joining Guided By Voices, The Breeders, Brainiac, the Ohio Players, Hawthorne Heights, and so on. Sample their take on Beach House's "Walk In The Park":

Mona - "Walk In The Park"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Tunes Tuesday - November 23, 2010

As the year winds down, generally speaking, so does the new music. But, I've stockpiled a few choice cuts that, although some have been floating around for a while, I thought were worth sharing. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Jim Jones Revue "High Horse" (Punk Rock Blues Records/[PIAS]) - I'm feeling the rawk today, so let's start with a band that's doing their part to bring it back. The most earth quakin’, booty shakin’, rock’n’roll blooz makin’ bunch anywhere released Burning Your House Down overseas in September, and will see it released in the US early next year. Jones, formerly of scuzzy UK psych rockers Thee Hypnotics, channels Little Richard and out-Jon Spencer’s Spencer himself on this single from the disc.

[STREAM] The Jim Jones Revue - "High Horse" (via [PIAS] Germany)

Weekend "Age Class" (Slumberland) - Perfect for fans of Joy Division, The Jesus & Mary Chain, and labelmates Crystal Stilts, the darkly buzzy, C86-inspired debut Sports is right in my wheelhouse. Looking for singalong choruses? There's not much here, but if you like throbbing, noisy, neo-post-punk (should I really use two hypens?), then this is for you. Download two tracks from TBB's earlier coverage here.

[STREAM] Weekend - "Age Class"

No Joy "You Girls Smoke Cigarettes?" (Mexican Summer) - The lazy description of these two ladies from Montreal would be a noisier, more lo-fi version of Warpaint. And if that does it for you, then OK. Yes, it's shoegazey. Debut Ghost Blonde is soft and languid but also hard and fast, and mixed by The Raveonettes' Sune Rose-Wagner to boot. I kicked myself for blowing off seeing Dungen a few months ago, now made even worse by realizing that No Joy opened. If you haven't heard much about 'em yet, you will: they've snagged the opening slot on the upcoming Best Coast / Wavves tour that ought to be a coast-to-coast sellout. Download the storming "Heedless" for free from Bandcamp. (Austin: @ Emo's January 25)

Giant Sand "Monk's Mountain" (Fire) - Blurry Blue Mountain, the latest entry in Giant Sand's catalogue, comes 25 years after mainstay Howe Gelb's first outing under the name. With a quick scan through this blog, you could conclude that 'organic' isn't something I get excited about. Chances are an acoustic guitar and little else gets me about as excited as cleaning out my gutters. So when something a bit more rootsy and Americana in nature actually does connect with me, I kinda think it's pretty special simply because it's pretty rare. For the uninitiated, Gelb's compiled another disc of (mostly) understated alt-country paired with a few roadhouse blues-based stomps and piano-driven ballads. Ever a grizzled storyteller, his husky voice recalls Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. Released in Britain a month before its US release, the album has received mixed to positive reviews, with the most common refrain being that it's not quite up to the lofty standard set by previous outings. Fans of the better known Calexico, which was actually formed by ex-Giant Sand members, will certainly want to investigate.

Korallreven (feat. Victoria Bergsman) "Honey Mine" (Acéphale) - Readers were first introduced to this Swedish duo in mid-September with a pair of blissful Balearic tunes. At the time, I posted a radio rip of the best-is-yet-to-come. Well it's here, all official like. With ex-Concretes vocalist Victoria Bergsman (Taken By Trees) out front, this should be the track that puts Korallreven on the map. Indeed, an irresistible, sweet-as-honey song. Download a remix by Lissvik here.

[STREAM] Korallreven feat. Victoria Bergsman - "Honey Mine" (via Hypetrak)

Cut Copy "Take Me Over" (Modular) - Here's the second song to surface in advance of the Aussie duo's long awaited follow-up to In Ghost Colours, Zonoscope, which arrives on February 8. European dates have been announced for March 3-23, so it seems an appearance at SXSW is out.

[STREAM] Cut Copy - "Take Me Over"

Alex Chilton, Ray Davies, & The 88 "Till The End of the Day" (Decca) - Let me state emphatically that I'm a huge Kinks fan, and have quietly championed the notion that Ray Davies should be mentioned in any discussion about the greatest songwriters of all-time. I've been disappointed that his solo work over the last few years has been largely ignored by the US record buying public, to say nothing of radio's scant support. To that end, the recent cancellation of a scheduled US tour - for health reasons - was accompanied by whispers of poor ticket sales being the real culprit. It's then even more disappointing to report that a star-studded collaborative tribute disc, See My Friends, is quite simply not up to snuff.

Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Bon Jovi.
Spoon, Black Francis, Billy Corgan.
Mumford & Sons, Lucinda Williams, Jackson Browne.

Certified stadium fillers, alternative rock staples, reliable AAA headliners. They've all lined up to play in tandem and tribute to rock royalty, along with UK stars Amy McDonald, Paloma Faith, and Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody. And it's really underwhelming.

Supposedly a long-standing passion project of Davies himself, it's telling that the liner notes mention more than once how a song was either recorded quickly or that a session was hastily arranged. Sadly, it shows. For example, Metallica provides the requisite crunch on "You Really Got Me" but without putting much of a stamp on the song. Frankly, it sounds like they've got a bus to catch.

Perhaps part of the problem is that each song is truly a collaboration with Davies. In some cases, the starpower of the guests overpowers that of the star. By inserting himself into every track, it renders the guests unable to make the cover their own. They're still working within his template and as a result, it's a lot less interesting than it could have been. It's a reasonable bet that Davies probably saw See My Friends as a vehicle to refocus the spotlight on his body of work. It's just a shame that this probably won't do the trick. You can judge for yourself by streaming the entire disc here.

Of note, though, is that the CD contains what is likely one of Alex Chilton's final recordings. He and Davies became friends during the latter's sojourn to New Orleans (and where he famously got shot) in 2004. Their take on "Till The End of the Day", joined by the L.A. band The 88, is the best thing on the disc. See My Friends is out now overseas, due in the US in March.

[STREAM] Alex Chilton, Ray Davies & The 88 - "Till The End Of Day" (via Decca Records)

Oh Land "Sun Of A Gun" (Epic) - Straight outta Copenhagen, Nanna Øland Fabricius started making music a few years ago, played SXSW in 2009 and relocated to Brooklyn earlier this year. Residing in the same neighborhood as Marina & the Diamonds and Lykke Li, the dreamy pop of "Sun Of A Gun" also features Bjork-inspired tribal beats, similar to those on Li's new "Get Some". The photogenic Dane - a former ballerina who bares no small resemblance to Heidi Klum - has already scored a deal with Sony worldwide. Time will tell if she's a budding star like Florence Welch or a cult favorite like Annie. Watch the pretty cool video here.

Crystal Stilts "Shake The Shackles" (Slumberland) - The newish single from the New Yorkers should, for the moment, set aside any worries of a sophomore slump. Still beautifully dark in tone, this is fantastic 60's-filtered garage pop. It serves as a taster of the band's second disc, due out early next year.

Veronica Falls "Beachy Head" (No Pain In Pop) - A few years ago, I flipped for "All The Rage", a very C86 tune from the Scottish band The Royal We. It was one of those songs I had on repeat for weeks. They band was so short lived, though, they'd split before the full-length was even released. A couple of members went on to form Sexy Kids, who put out a few singles and split before ever getting 'round to an album. These very same members went on to form Veronica Falls, and while the first few tunes I've heard are pretty great, would it be wrong to suggest not getting your hopes up? A recent interview reveals they've all got day jobs but that a full length is in the works. The video's here.

[STREAM] Veronica Falls - "Beachy Head"

Sex Beet "Sugar Water" (n/a) - I've been introduced to a lot of bands over the years by the radio show from Artrocker magazine. I tuned in yesterday for the first time in a long time and within a few minutes, host Paul Artrocker had me scrambling to the web to find out more about Sex Beet. A London-based trio, "Sugar Water" reminds me of a lo-fi Surf City: lots of guitar driven melody without much in the way of production quality. Somehow they slipped into the States for a few shows, including one here in Austin just last week. A return for SXSW is rumored, but not yet announced.

Mogwai "Rano Pano" (Sub Pop) - From the awesomely titled Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, the Scots are back with the first track from their 7th studio record. It's a noisy but not caustic instrumental. In other words, it's Mogwai. A lengthy US tour starts in April. (Austin: @Stubb's May 16)

[DOWNLOAD] Mogwai - "Rano Pano" (via Hypetrak)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Art of the Shuffle, Vol. 1


When I was full-on at WOXY, I immersed myself in new releases nearly all the time. So much so, that I never lingered too long on even my most favorite new discs: gotta move on, gotta go, gotta find the next favorite band. As a result, I hardly ever touched my iPod. Hell, that's where the old stuff was! Still, I kept stockpiling CD's and would tell people that I was building my record collection for the rest of my life.

So now, nothing gives me a bigger kick than walking the dogs and putting the 40GB on shuffle and just being surprised as to what comes up. Obscure tunes, all-time favorites and songs I mentally note to delete are all fighting in the mix. I'll think a random segue might be worthy of airplay. Lately, if the mix is rockin', I've taken to driving past the entrance to our subdivision and head for the wide open spaces of Texas because nothing, absolutely nothing, beats driving with the sunroof open, the windows down, and the stereo cranked on a warm, sunny day. And, thank goodness, there's a lot of those in Austin.

Often I just enjoy the randomness of it all. I guess this is what I was missing out on by staying laser-focused on the radio station. Plus, I love how a shuffle often provides a glimpse, if not a snapshot, of one's collection and greater musical taste. Over the past few months, I've digitized so much music that my hard drive is full. My goal is, of course, to upgrade to the 160GB iPod. No videos. No games. Just music, as originally intended.

So, here's the latest long shuffle from my old beast, Version 3.1.1, currently with 5155 songs. There's still work to do. BTW, it looks like it's Foals, FTW:

A Place To Bury Strangers - Dead Beat
The Black Angels - Telephone
Atlas Sound (w/ Laetitia Sadier) - Quick Canal
Pixies - Down To The Well
Missing Persons - Walking In L.A.
Foals - Miami
Foals - Olympic Airways
Wolf Parade - Fancy Claps
Orange Juice - Poor Old Soul (Part Two)
The Beatles - Get Back (Love OST)
Chuck Berry - You Never Can Tell (Pulp Fiction OST)
The Maxwell Implosion - Grasshopper
The Long Blondes - You Could Have Both
M.I.A. - Paper Planes
Snow Patrol - Wow
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings - I'll Still Be True
The Muslims (The Soft Pack) - Extinction
Rush - Limelight
PJ Harvey - Me-Jane
Kate Bush - Watching You Without Me
Foals - This Orient
Moby - Run On
Sonic Youth - Sugar Kane
The Psychedelic Furs - President Gas
Spacemen 3 - Walkin' With Jesus (Sound Of Confusion)
Squeeze - Up The Junction
The Kinks - A Well Respected Man
Daft Punk - One More Time
Elbow - Weather To Fly
David Bowie - Diamond Dogs
ABBA - Super Trouper
Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick (single edit)
Heart - Dreamboat Annie
Sex Pistols - No Feelings
Imelda May - It's Your Voodoo Working
Squeeze - Annie Get Your Gun
The Lodger - You Got Me Wrong
Jonsi - Around Us

What do some of your mixes look like?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Let's Talk About Blog

I've always been flattered and humbled by the number of people that I've met or had contact with who tell me how much my work at WOXY has inspired their interest in music and musical taste. Starting The Big Beat is my way to continue having a voice. It's different - very much a hobby - and I must admit to being a bit sad that I can't devote as much of my time towards creating daily playlists, sprinkled with discoveries new and old for listeners like yourselves, wherever you may be.

Ultimately, the blog is more an extension of my voice than a faceless music site, no matter how great and informative it may be. The Big Beat isn't about me but it is from me. I've always, always been an advocate of having an opinion, and the blogs and writers that inspire me are listed along the right side of the site. Usually, they're ones who put their own voice out there, crafting and curating their site, rather than just posting anything and everything they can find. They all come with my endorsement whether they're aware of it or not. So while I've stepped back a bit to double down on my next big discovery - a full time job - feel free to give them a visit.

To that end, I've been sitting on this for the past few weeks and it speaks to the whole notion of music blogging itself. The excellent Breaking More Waves blog posted a few thoughts and better still, audio (via Rawkblog), of a panel conversation on the subject that took place during last month's In The City Festival in Manchester, UK. Speakers included Pitchfork's Ryan Schreiber, The Hype Machine's Dev Sherlock, Oliver Clueit of My Band's Better Than Your Band, Rawkblog's David Greenwald and Sean Adams from Drowned In Sound.

They discuss the explosion of indie music media and the blogosphere, a bit of the differences between US & UK-based sites and, in their opinion, what makes a blog good. You may agree or disagree with some of the points raised. It begs the question (from me): what's important to you? Reviews, band profiles, photos, new new new, audio/downloads, contests...? For example, I don't care much for live reviews. Just don't. Your opinion may vary.

Listen. Enjoy. Discuss.

In The City: Music Blogging in the USA panel, 10.13.10

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Tunes Tuesday / The Big Beat 'cast 02


[MP3] Sweet Lights "Endless Town" (self-released) - After a decade fronting Philly's The Capitol Years, Shai Halperin has gone all one-man-band under the name Sweet Lights. I really enjoyed his self-titled debut and while you can grab a few freebies on Bandcamp, you simply can pick up the entire record for a mere 7 bucks. There's also a non-album cover of the Traveling Wilbury's "Handle With Care" out there for free, too. (via I Guess I'm Floating)

The Answering Machine "Lifeline" (Heist Or Hit) - The title cut from their second CD, due in 2011 and a likely single choice, this might be one of the more full bodied tracks on the record. I like the way the band utilizes space in the middle of song to, in essence, reload for the finish. Watch TAM play an acoustic version here.

[MP3] Warpaint - "Bees" (Rough Trade) - Of the current batch of neo-shoegazing chillwaveblisspop bands, I'm tipping these ladies as the most promising. Their upside is pretty huge and The Fool, their just-released debut, should quickly move them beyond tastemaker's darlings. "Bees" leaps out of the speakers, an unquestioned highlight of the disc.

Daft Punk "Derezzed (Tim MCJ remix)" (n/a) - Southport, England's Tim McCarthy-Johnson has been a DJ & producer for about 15 years. He took the snippet of Daft Punk's first offering from the upcoming Tron: Legacy soundtrack and mixed it into a first-rate tune, kindly sending it out to a list of bloggers including yours truly.

[MP3] Daft Punk - Derezzed (Tim MCJ remix) by Tim MCJ

James Blake "I Only Know (What I Know Now)" (R&S) - Pitchfork is usually pretty naked about artists they're really going embrace. A Rising feature coupled with regular Playlist or Forkcast entries often act as stepping stones to a Best New Music mention. Currently, London's James Blake seems to be reaping the benefit of their support and no matter what you may think of PF, that's massive. At all of 22, Blake has 4 EP's under his belt, the latest coming a few months ago, Klavierwerke. Very much in the dubstep realm, Blake puts a friendlier face to the genre that an artist like Burial does not. This is less dark, seemingly more personal and as a result, more approachable. The song is sparse and pretty. Pretty sparse, more accurately.

[MP3] James Blake - I Only Know (What I Know Now)

Disclosure "Offline Dexterity" (Moshi Moshi) - Speaking of dubstep, I featured this promising pair of teenage brothers not long ago. Most definitely worth repeatedly bringing them to your attention.

Crystal Castles (ft. Robert Smith) "Not In Love" (Fiction) - I don't know about you but I stopped paying serious attention to The Cure's work a long time ago. Like, nearly a generation maybe, this is the platform where ol' Bob just might work best: as a surprise guest vocalist. Crystal Castles covered this song from Canadian new wave heroes Platinum Blonde on their self-titled record earlier this year. Enter Mr. Smith to give the song a new feel, to be issued as a single on December 6th.

[MP3] Crystal Castles (ft. Robert Smith) - "Not In Love" (via Slicing Up Eyeballs)

65daysofstatic (ft. Robert Smith) "Come To Me" [single version] (Hassle) - Back to back Bob on The Big Beat, baby! As 65dos have opened for The Cure on several tours, the instrumentalists allow Smith to handle the vocals on their first honest-to-goodness song with lyrics. The band enjoys a worldwide following and although the lack of distribution and promotion have kept them under the radar in the States, 4th CD We Were Exploding Anyway, released in April, peaked at #99 in their native Britain, proving their profile is on the rise.

[MP3] The Joy Formidable "I Don't Want To See You Like This" (Canvasback / Atlantic) - After being blown away by debut set A Balloon Called Moaning, this first single from The Big Roar sounds like the Welsh trio is pulling their punches a bit. A little more produced, perhaps; a little less ragged exuberance. Not bad, but I'll wait for the full before rendering a verdict. Check the vid here. (via The Boy With The Thorn In His Side)

Trophy Wife "Microlite" (Moshi Moshi) - Straight outta Oxford (England) comes this trio who just released their debut on the ever on-the-money Moshi Moshi label. With stated influences The Notwist, Studio, and Ennio Morricone, you'd be correct in assuming there's a motorik, cinematic quality to their work and first single "Microlite" confirms that. A UK tour supporting fellow Oxfordites Foals begins this week. B-side "Take This Night" is worth a listen as well.

[STREAM] Trophy Wife - "Microlite" (via ListenBeforeYouBuy)

[MP3] Braids "Lemonade" (Kanine) - Calgary formed, Montreal based Braids seemed to enter the recent CMJ Festival with a fair amount of momentum and emerged with an additional head of steam. There's probably nothing quite like a notice from the New York Times to put in your scrapbook (Stereogum was also an early supporter), especially for a band whose debut of dreamy artpop doesn't hit until next year. (via Stereogum)

Gold Panda "Same Dream China" (Ghostly) - Debut full-length of instrumental electronica from UK beatmaster, real name Derwin 'Panda', who has earned a growing reputation remixing fellow British acts like Bloc Party and Little Boots. An interesting assortment of trance-like ambience, tape loops, and Balearic beats make for an alternating soothing and challenging listen.

The Sir Not Appearing In This Film Flying Fickle Finger of Fate goes to:

The Soft Pack "Answer To Yourself" (Kemado)
Gang Gang Dance "House Jam" (XXXChange remix) (n/a)

New Tunes Tuesday - October 19, 2010
New Tunes Tuesday - October 12, 2010

New Tunes Tuesday - September 28, 2010

New Tunes Tuesday - September 21, 2010
New Tunes Tuesday - September 14, 2010
New Tunes Tuesday - August 24, 2010
New Tunes Tuesday - August 17, 2010
New Tunes Tuesday - August 10, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Paper Crows - Cloudbusting Behaviour


It's the reaction every band hopes to get from you:

"This is awesome!"

Y'see, I'm not one of these guys that needs to hear the entire record before I can get interested in or excited about a band. Just one song - that's all - can flick my switch to love. Two songs, and I'm damn near a stalker. Kudos, then, to The Recommender for introducing me to London duo Paper Crows. Allow me to do the same to you.

18 year old Emma Panas and Duncan McDougall (age 24) have been making music together for about a year and are currently recording their first album with the production team Future Cut (Lily Allen, Dizzee Rascal). Emma's vocals are haunting and ethereal, even a bit gothic, so if you're a fan of Bat For Lashes or the Cocteau Twins or our new crush Esben and the Witch, this'll be right in your wheelhouse.

Their debut single "Stand Alight", recently released via Future Cut, is a stunner. It buzzes and builds and draws you in, enveloping the listener with a warm, comfortable hum.

[MP3] PAPER CROWS "Stand Alight"

But if for some reason that hasn't intrigued you or you'd simply prefer a bit more tempo, Monsieur Adi (Marina & the Diamonds, Ellie Goulding) arrives, adding plenty of extra bounce. A classic remix, it gives the song a totally different sound.

[MP3] PAPER CROWS "Stand Alight" (Monsieur Adi Remix)

And for this guy, the knockout punch comes with the pair's cover of Kate Bush's "Cloudbusting" set to the backbeat of Björk's "Human Behaviour". It garnered several immediate, repeat listens and I'm guessing it might do the same for you. So, that's strike 1, 2, and 3 for me: I'm in...and looking forward to more.

[MP3] PAPER CROWS "Cloudbusting" (Kate Bush cover)