April 26, 2016

New Starflyer 59 album 'Slow' coming June 17

Despite June 17 being less than 2 months away, there has been no band or label promotion for this, Starflyer 59's newest LP, 'Slow'.

It can be pre-ordered on Amazon here.

There is some information that can be found here, including the track-list:
1. Slow
2. Told Me So
3. Cherokee
4. Hi Low
5. Wrongtime
6. Retired
7. Runaround
8. Numb

This Twitter exchange last fall hinted about the album:

And here is hoping all the songs on 'Slow' are slow like this...

March 4, 2016

Great new streaming music from upcoming albums: Explosions in the Sky, Rob Crow, Hammock, Neko Case, Fiona Apple & more

There are many, many great new albums set to release in March and April, and this week has been an especially good one for advance streams from those albums. I'll only embed one song, a new track from Explosions in the Sky, from their upcoming album The Wilderness. Pre-order the vinyl here; album drops in April.

Rob Crow of Pinback has a new band, called Rob Crow's Gloomy Place, and the album You're Doomed. Be Nice. releases today. Consequence of Sound is streaming the full album, and I have listened to it a dozen times over the last couple days. I am can't wait to hold the orange and purple splatter vinyl I ordered here.

Hammock is set to release their first album since 2013. Everything and Nothing releases on April 1 and you can stream three songs right now and pre-order the vinyl on the Hammock Bandcamp page.

Frightened Rabbit's new album Painting of a Panic Attack releases on April 8. They released the first single from the album this week, "Get Out", accompanied by a unique video filmed on location in Kiev, Ukraine. I have been to the park and monument where much of the video was filmed. Pre-order the vinyl here.

In one of the more bizarre combinations I have heard of, Neko Case, k.d.lang, and Laura Viers are releasing an album together on June 17, titled case/lang/viers. The first single, "Atomic Number", is also streaming on YouTube.

Another collaboration is a duet from Andrew Bird and Fiona Apple. "Left Handed Kisses" is on YouTube and will appear on the forthcoming album  Are You Serious by Andrew Bird on April 1.

The first new band on this list is the British punk act Muncie Girls. Their debut album From Caplan to Belsize releases today and is streaming in full on Stereogum.

Finally, Asthmatic Kitty is taking pre-orders for a 10th Anniversary vinyl release of Sufjan Stevens' Illinoise. Along with the release is a demo of the song "Chicago", which you can listen to on YouTube. That song is being released as a vinyl single on a red, star-shaped record. If you already own Illinoise on vinyl, you can order just the red star by itself for $8. Scratch that, they are already sold out!

February 17, 2016

Viola Beach tragedy

Last week all four members of the band Viola Beach, along with their manager, died as their car went off a bridge in Sweden while they were on tour. From the BBC news release: "Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe and Jack Dakin and manager Craig Tarry were killed when their car plunged more than 25m (82ft) from a highway bridge into a canal." I encourage you to read all of the BBC story.

Like most of you, this tragedy is unfortunately my introduction to the band. I have been listening to them quite a bit the last few days though, and they were excellent. Below you will find links to some of their music, and I encourage you to check it out as you remember them and the pain their families and friends are dealing with right now.

First of all, here is a link to a live Daytrotter session they did in October.

And here is their first two songs streaming on Bandcamp:

And their most recent song on Soundcloud:

20 years later, Circle of Dust is back

Yesterday was the official, formal announcement that Circle of Dust is back. If you are reading this, you are probably like me, and Circle of Dust was your introduction to the industrial genre back in the early 90's. From yesterday's announcement...

Circle of Dust, the 90s industrial / electronic-rock project created by visionary artist/producer Klayton, marked the beginning of the musical career of the man who later went on to create independent success as Celldweller, as well as forming his own label - FIXT. Along with four full-length Circle of Dust albums in the 90s (Circle of Dust, Brainchild, Metamorphosis, Disengage), Klayton created a side-project under the name Argyle Park, which featured a vast collection of guest collaborators, including Tommy Victor of Prong, J.G. Thirlwell of Foetus and Mark Salomon (Stavesacre/Crucified).

Locked away collecting "dust" for 20+ years, the rights to the Circle of Dust & Argyle Park albums were unavailable to Klayton as the original labels they were signed to shut down in the mid-90s. After 2 decades of pursuing a deal to re-gain ownership of the albums, Klayton was finally able to reclaim the rights in 2015.

As Klayton began planning the remastering and re-release of the original albums, a new idea began to grow. He decided to not only re-release each album, but to fully resurrect the project and create a new full-length Circle of Dust album, to be released December 2016, nearly 20 years after the last Circle of Dust release.

Not only are all the re-releases being remastered, but each will include demos, unreleased bonus tracks, acoustic/alternate versions of tracks as well as some new remixes, with each album being released every 8 weeks, starting with the Self-Titled on March 4th, 2016.

Here is a brand new Circle of Dust track, Contagion, available as a free download.

The image above is the original Circle of Dust logo, and a sticker I displayed on my car in the mid-90's. I probably got more comments on it than any other sticker on my car, and a friend actually got the same sticker and placed it on the exact same location of his car in 1996.

I have followed Klayton's career since I first heard Circle of Dust in 1994 or so. From Circle of Dust to Argyle Park to Angel Dust to Celldweller, I have tried to pay attention and listen to a lot of it. Unfortunately, most of Klayton's music, while super-impressive from a technical and production standpoint, has not grabbed me like the stuff from the 90's. I'll admit this is probably mostly due to nostalgia. His work as Celldweller has been unbelievably extensive, and he does a great job connecting to the fans and offering all his music for reasonable prices with tons of free downloads.

Argyle Park is far and away my favorite release from Klayton, and all the guest vocalists and musicians are probably the reason for that (he left out Jyro and Jeff Bellew above). The "final" Circle of Dust album, 1998's Disengage, would be my second-favorite. Third would be the self-titled Circle of Dust album, which in March will be re-issued for the second time. Jason Morehead wrote a great essay about this album last year, celebrating the 20th anniversary of it's re-release:
Circle of Dust’s Circle of Dust

Circle of Dust was released in 1992, and then again in 1995. I have never taken the time to truly compare them side-by-side. Now the album will see a 2016 release, and you can pre-order it here.

One of the most confusing things about Circle of Dust early on was all the re-releases and different versions. Not only was the self-titled album released twice in three years, the other early Circle of Dust album, Brainchild, was also released twice in a short span. That original release even had a different band name--Brainchild--and the album was titled Mindwarp. Confused? Me too.

Finally, here is my favorite Circle of Dust song, and also the most mellow song Klayton has ever released...

February 11, 2016

Ninety Pound Wuss Shirts!

I am thrilled to announce today that new, original design, Ninety Pound Wuss shirts are for sale! I worked closely with Jeff Bettger (lead singer) to create these, which are in memory of John Spalding. John died of cancer in 2008 and was Ninety Pound Wuss' guitar player. The shirt features lyrics from the song"At the end of it all" from the album Short Hand Operation.

Buy them here!

They are available in multiple colors, and as short-sleeved tees, long-sleeve tees, hoodies, and tank tops. Here is a close-up of the art:

I am also selling a couple other shirts right now that are music related. I am working with a few other artists' right now, so more band shirts soon!

February 3, 2016

Turn Off the Radio t-shirts!

I decided to try something new today: I have put up Turn Off the Radio t-shirts for sale! They are available in USA and Europe, and ship reasonably to both places. (Also ships other places in the world, but shipping is not so reasonable to those locations!)

I have always been against ads on my blog, so I am trying this to see if I can make a little bit of cash (only around $1 per shirt). I set the prices VERY low, the cheapest option is only $12.

This is a crowd-funded campaign, but it only takes 10 people to order for the shirts to print. And you of course only pay if the minimum is reached.

Two different styles and dozen different colors available...

Standard Tee:

Premium Tee:

Thanks for your support!

February 1, 2016

Concert review: mewithoutYou, The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, and Them Fleurs in Switzerland

As I have already mentioned, I was able to see mewithoutYou perform in Luzern (Lucerne), Switzerland on January 29 at the Triebhaus. When I learned they were playing so closely to me (an hour and a half drive south), I researched their tour-mates, whom I had never heard: The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die.

(I want to buy this poster! If you know who designed it or where it might be for sale, please comment. The bands did not have it on tour.)

I was initially very impressed with The World Is..., and from a recorded standpoint, I still am. But their live show left a bad taste in my mouth; more on that below.

The location and venue were perfect. In my previous post you can see the view from the nearby lakefront. Most all major cities in Switzerland are on lakes, and are always gorgeous. The Triebhaus is a restaurant and bar, with the actual concert hall in the back. The place is full of unique artwork, and you can see a photo of some cardboard sculptures in my previous post.

The concert hall was very small; the smallest I have been to in quite some time. The last time I saw mewithoutYou was Cornerstone Festival 2007, and the tent they played was so packed and so hot and sweaty (in July), I listened to most of that show from outside the tent. Here are some photos of that show and festival. The cover shot, which despite its blurriness, has always been one of my favorites. It is the outside of the mewithoutYou tent, and accurately shows how crowded it was...

Cornerstone Festival

In 2016 mewithoutYou typically plays shows to hundreds of people (if not thousands) and this room at the Triebhaus could not hold more than 150. So as I talked to band members at the merch table before the music began I wondered: 1) How would all the fans fit and 2) How would all the members of The World Is... be able to stand on the stage.

The opening band, Them Fleurs, was impressive and about as much as one can ask of an opening band. They were local, and because of that, they crowd filled the small room and was paying them close attention. My overall opinion is that I loved their sound and guitar work, but the vocals did not compliment the music. My fellow concert-goers agreed that the vocals prevented them from truly enjoying the band.

Them Fleurs gallery (14 photos): Them Fleurs

While mewithoutYou and The World Is... are co-headliners on this tour, mewithoutYou played first and as far as I know it has been the same order all tour. They both played hour-long sets.

I had high expectations for mewithoutYou, and they did not disappoint. The venue was full, but not overly so, and it was possible to move around and get as close to the stage as one would like. As I moved through the room everyone was at minimum paying very close attention, and there were many fans singing along to every word.

mewithoutYou's energy is second-to-none, propelled by drummer Richard Mazzotta. He plays a small kit, but is relentless. While the band did not seem as tight as I usually hear them described, their complete investment into their music makes it easily to excuse their mistakes. For example, when Mike Weiss prematurely launched into the opening fuzzy guitar riff of "February, 1878", it seemed the band initially considered stopping to continue with their planned setlist. But brother Aaron Wiess said, "Go with it" and they continued unfazed.

While I did not see or note the setlist from the show I attended, this one from a few nights prior in Leipzig, Germany seems to be very close, with maybe two or three different tunes. From memory I would say there was one additional song from Brother, Sister and one less song from Pale Horses. I was very surprised to hear a song from A to B Life, because I have not listened to that album in years (and is really the only mewithoutYou album I never revisit). When they began playing it I initially thought to myself, "New song?" but then realized, "Nope, very old song!"

I was especially impressed with Brandon Beaver, mewithoutYou's "second" guitar player who joined the band in 2012. Not only did he seem to play just as many essential leads as Mike Weiss, his background vocals were flawless and essential to the songs from Ten Stories. I love all the female vocals parts on Ten Stories, and Beaver's falsetto replaced them well.

Singer Aaron Weiss is obviously the key to the band, and he was fascinating as always: sitting at times, at one point partially hidden behind the drummer, but most of the time bouncing around the stage. His charisma and passion makes him the perfect frontman, but his awkwardness and humility imply the opposite. Either way, it is nice to have a band leader who is genuine and not at all full of himself. This photo perfectly encapsulates the dynamic of the band; Aaron seems to be of another world...

mewithoutYou Live at the Triebhaus-21.jpg

Overall the show clearly reminded me that Brother, Sister is my favorite--and the best--mewithoutYou album. Ten Stories would be next, and the percentage of the songs from these two releases only trailed 2015's Pale Horses. I was surprised that no songs were performed from It's All Crazy! It's All False...; and it was the only album not represented. (Edit: I was reminded that they did play a small segment of "Cattail Down" as an introduction to another song.)

mewithoutYou closed with the epic "Rainbow Signs", and was the only song Aaron Weiss played electric guitar on, adding to the fullness and intensity:

mewithoutYou gallery (46 photos):
I may be one of the few, but I really like the too-long band name. As I mentioned, I had never heard of The World Is... until two weeks ago. I bought their newest album, 2015's Harmlessness, very quickly because: 1) It is great and 2) only $7 digitally. Not only that, I downloaded most all of their discography because they have it as free downloads.

I have become obsessed with the song "January 10, 2014", its fascinating true-life story, and outstanding video. The band has a shirt for sale with "Diana the Hunter" on it, and I chatted with David Bello about the song. The band opened with it, and for the most part, it sounded exceptional.

Unfortunately, not completely exceptional. While musically The World Is... was tight and sounded great, lead vocalist David Bello sounded awful. I would like to think he was off or having a bad night, but from what I have read, he sounded as he usually does.

From a recorded standpoint, I like Bello's vocals, but live, they were off-key and out of sync. What is crazy that I just discovered he actually has solo work, and his vocals on it do sound the same as I heard them. So there must be some people who like his voice the way it is. Plus he has been an active musician in a number of bands for a very long time. And if he also writes the lyrics, he does a great job in that regard. (Because there are so many revolving members of the band, and have had so many vocalists over the years, it has been impossible to figure out who writes what.)

But his vocals were a distraction. First of all, my two friends who accompanied me to this show were completely put off by his vocals. They were hearing The World Is... for the first time, and it is doubtful they will give the band another chance. Secondly, the venue cleared out. It was obvious before The World Is... played that most attendees were there for mewithoutYou, and they left as the final set began. The longer The World Is... played the smaller the crowd got. There were far more people in the bar in the next room than there were in the concert hall.

I don't want to get away from how good the band sounded otherwise. The music and guitar work overall was intricate and sounded almost exactly like their recordings. However, I have more complaints. While talking to a few members of the band before the show I asked how many members they had on tour with them, as I had read they sometimes had as many as a dozen. They told me they were playing with eight, one less than the nine they had on their last US tour. They said the violin player couldn't come because the plane ticket was too expensive.

That all made sense to me until I saw them take the stage with FOUR guitar players. The line-up was a vocalist who played no instruments; four guitar players, two of which who sang sometimes; a bass player; a drummer; and a female keyboard player who also sang lead on occasion (Katie Lynne Shanholtzer-Dvorak is easily one of the most important people in the band). One of the guitar players could have easily been removed from the stage and no one would have noticed. The other three guitar players all played interesting parts, but the parts could have been covered by two players fairly simply. (I have seen bands play live with only one guitar player and the sound was equally as full.)

After a few songs I was pretty upset they left the violin player behind. And all three background/alternate vocalists could sing WAY better than the lead singer. With eight touring members, a couple of which I would say were non-essential, I don't see how the band is making money on this European tour. I hope for their own sake they break-even and are able to just enjoy it as a vacation.

Overall I would say The World Is... was able to overcome the poor vocals. I enjoyed their show as a whole, and just last night bought the band's first LP, Whatever, If Ever. If my complaining serves any purpose maybe it is just to lower the expectations of those readers who may see the band play in the future.

The World Is... gallery (18 photos):
The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die

January 30, 2016

mewithoutYou and The World Is... in Luzern

I saw mewithoutYou, The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, and Them Fleurs in Luzern, Switzerland last night. I took hundreds of photos, and am currently sorting through them. I also shot video of one song, mewithoutYou's "Rainbow Signs", and I am thrilled with how it turned out. Due to my ridiculously slow upload speed in rural Germany, I won't be able to put up the video and photo galleries until I am at work on Monday. Until then, here are a few photos...

Lakefront in Luzern
At the bar inside the Triebhaus
Them Fleurs
The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die
Full galleries and video on Monday!

January 21, 2016

Thrice update: tour dates and studio photos

It is fairly easy to keep up with Thrice due to their excellent social media presence, but I wanted to elaborate a little with my own thoughts. A couple weeks ago the band began posting photos of the recording process for their new album, set to release later in 2016 (more on that below). Then a couple days ago they announced their first headlining tour in more than 5 years. They of course played a bunch of festivals last year, and I was fortunate enough to see them at Hevy Fest in the UK.

Unfortunately I am probably not going to see any of this tour. I am going to be in the States this summer for a couple months, but the dates don't line up to my family's travel plans. While I did see Thrice only a few months ago, the big thing about this upcoming tour is NEW SONGS from a NEW ALBUM. Also, it is worth mentioning that one of the opening bands, Gates, is terrific.

As I mentioned, Thrice is great with social media and have been posting lots of pictures from the recording sessions for the new album. The photos and the corresponding comments from the band have gotten me very excited about the album because they show that the album will be diverse and heavy. As great as the last Thrice album was, they lost their diversity. So yes, I guess you could say I am complaining the band was too focused. :)

As I have written on this blog, my favorite Thrice is the Alchemy Index 4 EP set, because it is so creative, original, experimental, and diverse. Just seeing photos of keyboards and a piano already lets everyone know this new album is going to be different than Major/Minor, and maybe more diverse in the vein of Vheissu.

January 20, 2016

The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die

I discovered this band yesterday and I have been listening to them constantly ever since. This video is of my favorite song by them. The backstory on the lyrics is fascinating, I'll leave it to do the research--it is worth it! Also just made plans to go see them and mewithoutYou next week in Luzern, Switzerland next week!

Can't believe it took me long to find The World Is a Beautiful Place..., as they are right up my alley. Just about everything they have ever released is on Bandcamp and for sale dirt cheap; I bought a few things last night.