Archive for the 'by Lucy' Category

Monsters of Folk Release Self-Titled Album

The idea of combining indie rock darlings Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, Jim James, and M. Ward, conceived in 2004, finally came to fruition yesterday with the release of The Monsters of Folk‘s self-titled album. The fifteen track disc defeats the old adage, often applied to super-groups, of the sum being less than its parts.

Monsters of Folk

The four artists, each already having their own successes with bands Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket, and She & Him, highlight the best in each other. All four players share songwriting and vocal duties, and no one artist steals the spotlight completely; however, Oberst’s trademark sound does permeate most of the songs. His distinctive wordplay lyrics and jaunty folk-rock are predominant.

James’ past work with many different genres and influences in his band My Morning Jacket comes through on the trip-hop opening song “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.),” and the funk inspired “Losin Yo Head.” The evocative harmonies typical of Ward and Oberst are pervasive. And Mogis, originally of Oberst’s band Bright Eyes, plays a more minor role in the forefront of the album, but was major behind the scenes working as producer.

All four artists brought their best to the table, and created a disc of enjoyable, catchy folk tunes.

monsters-of-folk

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Dirty Projectors

Dirty Projectors

Brooklyn-based band Dirty Projectors have been releasing albums since 2002, but until this year, have been largely seen as too conceptual and highbrow to be listenable. Frontman, Dave Longstreth, is a Yale grad with a propensity for the inventive and experimental. Past albums include ornate interpretations of Black Flag songs, theatrical orchestral pieces, and inspiration from just about every musical genre you can imagine.

dirtyprojectors-bitteorca

Their June release, Bitte Orca, does not break from their pattern of imaginative tracks, drawing inspiration from all different styles; it is, however, their first album to seem like a cohesive set, with a sound accessible to a much broader audience. The songs are still intricate enough to keep a listener’s interest, but do not lose them in overly abstract departures, as in the past.

Earlier this year, Dirty Projectors also collaborated with David Byrne on Dark Was the Night, a compilation album put out by Red Hot AIDS Benefit Series and produced by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of the band The National. Their track, “Knotty Pine,” is lead by bright acoustic guitars and the driving harmonies of the band’s female vocalists, Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian, and Haley Dekle; and the Talking Heads tinge can be clearly heard.

The band is set to release a new EP, entitled “Temecula Sunrise,” next month. Only time will tell if Dirty Projectors will continue with their approachable art-pop rock sound or head back to the unpredictable world of experimental rock.

Nathen Maxwell & The Original Bunny Gang

nathen maxwell

After thirteen years playing with Celtic-punk band Flogging Molly, bassist Nathen Maxwell has put out an album from his solo side-project, Nathen Maxwell & The Original Bunny Gang. Teaming up with his drummer father, who goes by the name maxwellvision, their 10-track disc, White Rabbit, was released last week.

nathen_and_papa_maxwell_in_recording_studio

Surprisingly enough, Maxwell’s album does not fit into a punk rock nor Celtic genre at all. Instead, it is an acoustic album with reggae and folk influences, much more delicate sounding than anything Flogging Molly has ever released. Maxwell explains that he grew up listening to reggae and was inspired to put his heartfelt lyrics to reggae’s softer sound. His lyrics range from topics of politics, in “Chief of a Nation” and “Working for the Man,” to the feelings that come along with new love, in “Love Outlaw” and “Love You Mad”; but all songs share Maxwell’s earnest singing.

Maxwell is the first to warn Flogging Molly fans not to expect what they’re used to; and conversely, tells people who are not fans of the punk band to give him a shot. And as for Flogging Molly’s status, the band is still alive and well but has decreased its touring schedule for the year, allowing Maxwell time to work on this project.

iPhone Instrumentals

Thanks to the multitude of applications available from Apple’s App Store, creating music through your phone has come a long way since Towelie’s “Funky Town.”

In fact, some, like rising YouTube sensation The Mentalists, are taking these applications quite seriously. Check out this band’s covers of MGMT’s “Kids” or Estelle’s “American Boy”.

Stanford University even has its own iPhone ensemble, called the Mobile Phone Orchestra, or MoPhO. MoPhoO director, Ge Wang, developed his own application for the group, called Ocarina, which turns the iPhone into a woodwind-like instrument sensitive to touch, movement, or breath.

The App Store has music applications for everything from digital drum pads to mash-up machines to kazoos. Some of the most popular include Jumpei Wada’s Mini Piano, Curious Brain Inc.’s TouchCords, and Magnus Larsson’s DigiDrummer Lite, all free. These apps are very user friendly, allowing even the least music-tech savvy people try their hand at a little music production.

Just another way technology is allowing a more hands-on experience for enjoying music, much like MixMatchMusic’s Remix Wizard allows artists to bring fans into the mix through remix promotions. For an Evolving Music list of other cool music related apps check out this earlier post.

Tra.kz Artist Spotlight: Junior Reid (Never Let You Go)

Junior Reid

Hailing from Jamaica’s tough West Kingston Waterhouse district, Junior Reid has been a mainstay of reggae and dance hall music since the 70’s. Junior may be best known as the lead vocalist of Black Uhuru, taking over for Michael Rose in 1985; but in the last few years, he has been infiltrating the hip hop scene. Samples of Junior’s best known hit, “One Blood,” have appeared on the Wu-Tang Clan‘s 2000 album The W, and in The Game’s song “It’s Okay (One Blood).” Junior has also collaborated with Mims to create a remix of his hit “This Is Why I’m Hot.”

Junior’s latest solo album, Living Legend is set to be released October 27th of this year, on Bay Area’s ABB Records. To give you a little taste, he has made his new single, “Never Let You Go,” available through Tra.kz for you to listen to, download and share! After you’ve listened to it, be sure to say hello to Junior on Twitter.

Release of Jim James’ “Tribute To” EP

Last Tuesday, Jim James, front man of My Morning Jacket, released his new EP, “Tribute To.” Under the quirky pseudonym Yim Yames, James pays tribute to George Harrison with a collection of six covers of songs from both Harrison’s Beatles days and his solo career. Although James does very little tailoring of the songs to make them his own, his beautiful vocals compliment the slow moving, simple tunes. His voice sounds particularly sweet and haunting on “My Sweet Lord,” a song inspired by Harrison’s practice of Eastern-based religion.

James has had a very busy year thus far, as he is also preparing for the release of a full-length album and an international tour with his collaborative group The Monsters of Folk, made up of himself, M. Ward (successful solo artist, and also the “him” of She & Him with Zooey Deschanel), Conor Oberst (ringleader of Bright Eyes, and more recently, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band), and Mike Mogis (musician/producer of Saddle Creek Records fame). The self-titled album is due out at the end of September, but three tracks are already up on iTunes for purchase.

In other fun Beatles-related news, last week was also the forty-third anniversary of the release of Revolver. To celebrate, enjoy a free track from “Tribute To,” “Behind That Locked Door,” available on James’ (or Yames’…) website.


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