Thursday, March 22, 2007

My Summer of (Music) Love

2005 was a great music year. A lot of my favorite bands released new albums that year, but unfortunately most fell flat.

I’ve got a good feeling in my bones for this year though.

Although RJD2’s latest is a sour way to start the season, LCD Soundsystem’s “Sound of Silver” is exactly what I wanted.

On to the upcoming…

Beastie Boys – I appreciated 2004’s To The 5 Boroughs because it sounded different than everything else coming out at the time, but I haven’t found myself listening to the album since then. And when it comes to politics, I think the Beasties work best with subtlety, which Boroughs seriously lacked. Two weeks ago, Adam Yauch (MCA) said "the Beasties are 'focusing on playing instruments [and] not really working with drum machines and samples' on the record, which they are in the process of mixing. The album is currently untitled, but they hope to release it this spring." I doubt they'll make it in time for a spring release, but that doesn't bother me. I'm counting on a solid return/back-to-basics-Beasties album to come in early June.
Excitement score: 10 of 10

Queens of the Stone Age - Half of 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze was awesome; half of it was just all right. Quite simply, it’s just difficult for me to get excited about QOTSA without Nick Oliveri contributing screams and riffs. Scheduled for a release in June, Era Vulgaris is “‘rumored’ to feature guest appearances from the Strokes' Julian Casablancas, Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor, Mark Lanegan, and ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons.”
Excitement score: 10 of 10

White Stripes – Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Get Behind Me Satan a whole lot; I just enjoyed Elephant a whole lot more. It’s difficult to judge what this next Stripes album might hold in store, but I’m hoping Jack picks the guitar back up and lays down some greasy blues and distorted guitar solos. No set release date yet, but I’d bet Icky Thump arrives early summer.
Excitement score: 10 of 10

Plump DJs – The world’s biggest breakbeat act has been around since 1999 but has only released two mix albums and one studio album, 2003’s Eargasm. Still, that hasn’t kept them from releasing some insane squeaks, bleeps, beats and breaks. My brother and I had the opportunity see the Plumps in action in London last summer and were blown away. Along with the usual dancefloor murderers, Eargasm also featured tracks with vocals and a thicker sound. Lee Rous and Andy Gardner have said their sophomore effort, currently untitled but due this summer, will feature varied tempos, more vocals, different instruments and that familiar Plump touch.
Excitement score: 993 of 10

Justice – I don’t know a whole lot about the French duo’s upcoming album, due this summer. I do know that these guys are releasing the most energetic dance music around right now. Their baselines are so ridiculously distorted it’s damn hard to hear different notes; they’re blurring the line between dance and rock.
Excitement score: 10 of 10

Chemical Brothers – Hands down, The Brothers are my favorite band. They mix so many different influences so many different ways. Rock, rap, dance, psychedelic whathaveyou… they’ve got more variation in their sound than anyone else I know. 2005’s Push the Button was damn good, but ended up sounding a little formulaic by the end. In December they released two Electronic Battle Weapons, tracks intended for clubs, are mediocre at best, but at least they diverse sounds. According to their MySpace page, “The Brothers are set to return with the release of their eagerly anticipated sixth album, titled 'We Are The Night' to be released in late June/early.”
Excitement score: 587 of 10

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

SXSW for people who aren't in Austin

Two brief notes on SXSW for people who either can't go or don't want to brave the crowds...

First, the annual SXSW torrent file is available here. For the uninitiated, the fine folks at SXSW make a zip file available with one mp3 track from each band playing the fest. This years torrent weighs in at 739 bands and 3.1 Gigs. That should be enough music to keep you going for a while...

Second, if you've got DirecTV, you can watch some of the shows live on channel 101. DirectTV will begin showing Thursday night from 4pm until midnight, central time. The music continues Friday and Saturday same bat-time, same bat-channel... Looks like these are special performances for DirecTV -- there's a schedule here.