Music’s Biggest Week?

Music fans had dozens of reasons to be excited this week.  Here’s a few of them:

The Flaming Lips Make A Video… actually 12 videos, to be played simultaneously…

On Valentines Day Flaming Lips’ fans received a unique gift from the group: a bizarre love story (or something like that) in the form of a so-called “YouTube symphony”.  The unorthodox new single “Two Blobs Fucking” is twelve separate videos of music and blob visuals designed to be played at the same time on twelve different devices.  The band’s first new release since 2009, it is completely free.  All you need is access to YouTube and speakers – preferably on numerous computers and/or smart phones. 

The spoken-word track in video 9 sets the scene with “overflowing dumpsters” “one of them full of prosthetic limbs” “feets arms and hands”(how romantic).  Wayne Coyne continues, “we wandered cautiously… in the back door of the company that made them…maybe the third or fourth time…we looked through the window.” “Something was pumping and jiggling… it was dark…two large jiggling things were doing some unspeakable act… ”

Hear Wayne Coyne complete the story with this spoken-word bliss mix, then get three other devices to synch up the drums/ guitar stabs, “hillbilly pickin’ with robot bongos!” and the main “Blob Track“.  Better still, invite some friends with iPhones or laptops over for a party and play all twelve videos at youtube.com/user/flaminglipsfree.  Use the chart (left) drawn by lead Lip Wayne Coyne to guide your experiments.

Who’s excited: all who worried The Flaming Lips’ recent popularity threatened their fearless freakness.

I Want My Music TV…Online!

There sure has been a lot of great music on TV lately (and thus, on the web, the morning after), and this week was no exception.  First LCD Soundsystem made their final TV appearance (before their impeding split) on Colbert and The Black Keys rocked Conan – both Monday.  The next night Drive By Truckers supported their new LP (Go-Go Boots, out that day) on Jimmy Fallon.  On Wednesday night, Odd Future paid a highly buzzed visit to Fallon (performing “Sandwitches” – watch it here) and acclaimed songwriter Amos Lee was on Letterman .

Keep track of late night music guests and other random awesomeness (like when to catch Wayne Coyne’s house on MTV’s Cribs) by following DVRAlert.

Who’s excited: music fans that insist most of what’s worth watching on TV amounts to less than 10 minutes a day.

The 10th Anniversary Bonnaroo Line-Up Is Here

Speaking of Conan (and The Black Keys, Amos Lee, “The Suburbs”, et al), the lineup for the 10th Annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival was announced on February 15thby Captain Coco.

In the days leading up to the announcement, rumours were boiling over – especially after AC Entertainment’s Ashley Capps tweeted, “The line up for #Bonnaroo just went over the top tonight…beyond thrilled. Great line up and some once in a lifetime shows.”

Who could it be that put it “over the top”???  That’s the question that was mulled over on discussion boards…

Being that it was Grammys weekend, the tweet was widely interpreted as a related clue.  Sure enough, Grammy heavy-weights Eminem and Arcade Fire are both headlining this year’s ‘Roo, and other standouts from the award show are also on the festival’s bill (i.e. Mumford & Sons, Florence And The Machine, Ray LaMontagne).  Likewise, Bonnaroo.com uploaded videos leading up to the announcement of Widespread Panic, My Morning Jacket, Robert Plant and Primus – all of which are prominently scheduled in the 10th anniversary line-up.

Most other top rumours – including The Black Keys, Cold War Kids, Matt and Kim, Big Boi and Gregg Allman – also proved accurate (though the Cee-Lo Green, Radiohead and Rolling Stones’ rumours were alas, just rumours).

Looking past the bizarrely mainstream headliners, this year’s line-up is as diverse as attendees have come to expect: The Strokes, The Decemberists, Iron & Wine, Deerhunter, the recently reunited Buffalo Springfield (with Richie Furay, Stephen Stills and Neil Young), Dr. John with The Original Meters, Dr. John with Dan Auerbach, Bassnectar, Girl Talk, Explosions In The Sky, Gogol Bordello, Beirut, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Mavis Staples, Loretta Lynn, Wanda Jackson, Karen Elson, The Low Anthem, Smith Westerns, Freelance Whales, Amos Lee, The Black Angels, Deer Tick, Abigail Washburn, Chiddy Bang, Lil Wayne, String Cheese Incident, Béla Fleck And The Flecktones, The Walkmen, Sleigh Bells, School Of Seven Bells, Best Coast, !!!, The Drums and Wavves and many more…

Who’s excited: all who echo Rodney King’s catchphrase, “why can’t we all just get along” – – yep, Eminem and Arcade Fire both headline…

Can’t Stop The Spring…

Sure, most of the country is still recovering from being pummeled with snow, but spring is just around the corner – and that means tour info for warmer days is here!

So get your Google-fingers and ticket funds ready, because if you haven’t heard already…
…Tame Impala announced an American spring tour (with Yuck), Arcade Fire announced a spring tour of US and Europe, Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum announced an East Coast tour from August through the autumn… Death Cab for Cutie, Walkman with New Pornographers, Yeasayer, The Greenhornes, Queens of the Stone Age, Elbow, Kurt Vile, Lightning Bolt, Handsome Furs, Orbits, Junips, Banjo or Freakout Tour With Papercuts…

And – what’s this – a second night of The Flaming Lips’ playing The Soft Bulletin live, complete at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom…

Who’s excited: drivers of cars with “Live Music Sounds Better” bumpers stickers.

The Post-Grammy Bump

The Grammy’s hype themselves as “Music’s Biggest Night” – and for once, that actually doesn’t seem like a unintentional joke…

And the winners were:
Cee-lo, Danger Mouse, Arcade Fire, Neil Young, Black Keys, Janelle Monae, The White Stripes, The Roots…

Based on Amazon’s sales chart, Mumford and Sons and especially Esperanza Spalding and Arcade Fire, were boosted by The Grammys – though we won’t know exactly how much until the Billboard 200 tracking this week is released next Thursday

This much we do know, billboard.biz:
 “Google was flooded with “Esperanza Spalding” searches after her win was announced. Online album sales hit 3,000 over 12 hours on Sunday night up from an average of 300 the previous week, according to Mike Gillespie, Concord’s senior vice president of sales. The company plans to ship up to 100,000 physical CDs this week, up from the normal 2,000 to 3,000 discs, as stores like Best Buy stock up on the winners. If sold, the amount would more than triple her sales so far.  Arcade Fire’s Durham, N.C.-based indie label, Merge Records, was so unprepared for the win that its founders Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance, of the band Superchunk, were in Japan on tour and didn’t attend the live show.”

Okkervil River’s Will Sheff – nominated for his liner notes for the epic LP he did last year with Roky Erickson, “True Love Cast Out All Evil” – summed it up best in a wonderful essay on his fish-out-of-water experience attended the ceremony for the first time and reading the whoisarcadefire.tumblr the morning after: “I scrolled through…pages and pages of people shouting in all caps “I’VE NEVER HEARD OF THEM!” as if that’s a valid musical critique, as if that’s anything but a braying declaration of proud ignorance. As if somehow the prefab pop royalty whose handlers dropped the most money on promotion are promised a Grammy as a kind of birthright, the way that Will Smith’s kids are guaranteed hit singles and blockbusters if they want them… It was fun to watch the losers win for a change.

The Grammys’ rating were the highest in a decade: 26.66 million viewers, up about 3 percent from last year’s 25.87 million.

Who’s excited: everyone who exclaimed, “now that’s what I call music” after watching one, or both, of these:

Happy Valentines Day From MGMT, Yeasayer and PJ Harvey

It’s not just The Flaming Lips who treated their fans on Valentines Day: MGMT had a heart to heart chat (or something like that), Yeasayer gave away a free EP and PJ Harvey streamed a concert (via deezer.com) from the most romantic city in the world (including a performance of her entire new album – Let England Shake).  RJD2 meanwhile, asked for some help… 

Yellowbirds’ The Color on Vinyl and Silk-Screened Cover CD

Though my recent list of most anticipated albums of 2011 wasn’t a hierarchy, it’s no accident I put Yellowbirds at #1: “Double-speed auto-harp glissandos, glowing backwards pedal-steel, bubbling echo and fuzz guitars coalesce into a warm wall of sound… the picture emerges of a dust-blown, 4th dimensional Future West…existential lyrical themes… delivered nonchalantly over psyched-out aural landscapes…”

Who’s excited?

Fans of songwriting craft matched with imagination and instrumental skill. Fans of The Beatles.  Fans of Apollo Sunshine, Citay, Jay Bennett’s work with Wilco, and mellow-but-still-rockin’-psych sounds ala the Elephant 6.  Brooklyinites in search of the next Grizzly Bear.  Vinyl enthusiasts who knew after hearing the album stream they MUST pre-order the vinyl version (which came with a free CD in a one-of-a-kind case hand silk-screened by band leader Sam Cohen).  People who saw Yellowbirds at the Cake Shop last weekend:

http://twitter.com/yeahello/status/36649184685719554

Yeah, Yuck

A few weeks ago I singled out these youngsters from Britain who call themselves Yuck as one of the best new artists of 2011 (based on tracks on YouTube from their leaked eponymous début).  I was far from the only one to do so… 

Yuck-mania has grown literally everyday since my posting, and as I’ve listened more to those YouTube videos I’ve realized that beyond the initial Dinosaur-Jr-Pavement-Yo-La-Tengo-Pixies-My-Bloody-favorite-classic-alt-rock-band impression, there’s more substance to these songs than these endless comparisons suggest.  It’s not “original”, but wow – they do it well.  Rather than look back to the bands they are clearly modelling their sound on, let’s look forward.  Who knows, this may be the start of a new wave of music like this made by musicians who were toddlers when the originators started to fuzz out – and if so, February 15th, the day their LP was officially out, is ground zero.

On top of all that, it was also announced on the 15th that Yuck will be the support band on Tame Impala’s North American tour this spring… sweet!  They are also probably the most anticipated band playing this year’s SXSW.  It remains to be seen if they can further develop their own ideas into the style they’ve already mastered, but they’ve already proven themselves one of the most promising bands of 2011.

Who’s Excited: NME readers, indie rock bloggers, alt-guitar-band enthusiasts, music nerds looking for the “next big thing” to start a backlash against.

Jeffrey Lewis’ and Peter Stampfel’s Ageless New York Underground

Anti-folk hero Jeffrey Lewis – 35 years young – recently toured abroad with a cult icon over twice his age: The Fugs’ and Holy Modal Rounders’ Peter Stampfel.  They were welcomed back home to New York (specifically, Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Shea Stadium) with a release party gig on February 15th for their new, Come On Board.  Despite the age difference, their chemistry – both in playing and in banter – is as quirky and irreverent as it is infectious.  Whereas Stampfel had songs from his century project (he’s recording a once-popular-now-forgotten song for every year of last century), Lewis had his signature hand drawn “documentaries”… and they came together like new old friends.

Then on Friday, Jeffrey filled in for Phantogram as Dr. Dog’s support at New York’s Terminal 5.  If you are in the area but missed both, no worries, Jeffrey and Peter will be playing Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) next Tuesday (February 22nd) and at WFMU’s “7 Second Delay” on February 23rd.

Who’s excited: New Yorker’s “crowded 5 to an appartment…relegate our dreams to hobbies and deny our disappointment

Sonic Youth Au Courant  

Sonic Youth’s soundtrack for the French film Simon Werner A Disparu (aka Lights Out) was released on Tuesday, and is streaming here.

Who’s Excited: the 22 people who “liked” this video:

Mogwai’s SubPop Debut

Mogwai’s first album for SubPop – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, out February 15th – is a varied set that builds from its compositional subtleties and detailed recording techniques (hear for yourself: it is streaming now at rollingstone.com). Also out from SubPop this week – Greg Dulli’s Twilight Singers’ Dynamite Steps.

Who’s excited: hey hey, my my, c’mon on, you knew Mogwai wouldn’t die young!

More Streaming New Music

Released this week, Gruff Rhys’ Hotel Shampoo is also streaming online, should you need some incentive to buy…

Check out this special embeddable bathroom-shelf icon – each bottle of shampoo streams a different song, the entire album included.  Heavy on reflective piano ballads… as Steven Drozd would say, uh, tweet, #agingrocker

Bright Eyes’ The People’s Key – the entire album is in this one YouTube video:

There are also a few albums to be released in the upcoming weeks currently streaming on NPR: The Psychic Paramount II, DeVotchKa’s 100 Lovers and The Low Anthem’s highly anticipated second album among them.

Who’s excited: music lovers that insist the album is “dead”, just the notion of buying them.

Is This The Best Week Ever?

Tours and Bonnaroo line-up announced!
The most engaging Grammys, like, maybe, ever!
Must see (music) TV!
Artists send their sweet, sweet l-u-v to fans on Valetines Day through the magic of the web!
New music from The Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, Yellowbirds, Mogwai, Gruff Rhys, Deerhunter, PJ Harvey, Bright Eyes, Jeffrey Lewis, Yuck and some Oxfordshire band everyone keeps talking about…

Surely, this must’ve been the most bestest week ever… right?

Well, it wasn’t all peaches and cream, and with so much to be excited about, there was bound to be a bummer on the way:

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have it…

…Still More Album Releases…

Deerhunter released Live from Soho this week, an iTunes exclusive EP, and The Drive By Truckers’ Go-Go Boots displayed their soulful side. 

There’s not just one but… two Vivian Girls’ side projects: Katy Goodman’s, La Sera (streaming at Spinner) and Cassie Ramone’s The Babies (with Kevin Morby of Woods).

Then there’s Dream Diary, Telekinesis, Asobi Seksu, The Dears, Arbouretum … even Bob Geldoff…

All in all, it was perhaps the busiest release week in recent memory, though for some reason, this one band hogged all the attention…

Last, but certainly not least, you might have heard…

There’s not much point in me writing about this – if you care at all you probably read the same few details numerous times on countless sites (all copy and pasting the same information), and even if you haven’t heard the album by now, you’ve certainly heard about it.  Or at the very least, had the opportunity to mock Thom Yorke’s dance moves.

It’s a new album.  It’s a “newspaper album”.  I’m not sure what that means either.  It’s called The King of Limbs.  The debate the title – is it really a dick joke? – has been going on since it was announced Monday (even though nobody outside those who worked on it had heard a single note of it, or even knew the song titles).  This is all old news.  Old being the beginning of the week.

It’s out digitally now: nine bucks for medium-quality mp3s, an extra $5 for the WAV files.  But if you are a real Radiohead fan, that’s just the preview to hold you over to the full monty (sorry, couldn’t resist).  There’s the $48 version (mp3 plus “many large sheets of artwork, 625 tiny pieces of artwork, and a full-colour piece of oxo-degradeable plastic to hold it all together” ) or $53 (same but with WAV dowload instead of mp3) . That edition ships on May 9th.

Who’s Excited: Apparently, lots of people…

…the real question is, will they still be excited May 10th?

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