Thursday, March 31, 2011

Buke and Gass - Riposte (2010)

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Before listening to Buke and Gass' debut album Riposte, someone needs to warn you how incredibly catchy it is. If you don't want their songs stuck in your heard for days let alone weeks, you probably shouldn't listen to it. But if you're able to make peace with that then you're in for an interesting experience. The Brooklyn duo certainly don't hold back, with frantically paced album opener "Medulla Oblongata", it's the listener's introduction to the homemade instruments, crash-bang foot percussion, stratospheric vocals, and jumbled but strangely sensible lyrics that are used thorough the whole album. "Medicina" with its deceptive slow start tricks you into thinking that the album will wind down before launching into a frenetic rock groove.

Riposte is a splendid introduction to a band that's doing something new and inventive. It's not everyday a band crafts it's own instruments, let alone plays them to such a startlingly catchy degree. Each song on Riposte is memorable and infectious, energetic and bold in its delivery. Their somewhat disjointed style works well for them, like someone so excited they have difficult getting their thoughts out fully. And yet, Buke and Gass with it's genre-defying minimalism no doubt has its ideas fully formed to be able to switch between them so effortless. Riposte is definitely a must have, unrivaled in its flair, that's sure to become a much-listened-to favorite.

Hello MTN preview album with new track

Hello MTN have been hard at work recording their first album for the past month and a half and today fans can finally hear the band's progress. The track is an early mix of what they plan to be the album's opening track and even though it's a reference mix, there's an awful lot going on in this somber track like goose-bump inducing harmonies and the surprising inclusion of instrument after instrument. Enjoy this early mix of "State Lines": State Lines (early version) by hellomtn

Hello MTN are currently in Europe, touring with Cat Odell's other band Horse Feathers but here's hoping there's more from them in the immediate future cause the new track has got me hooked.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fleet Foxes release new video for "Grown Ocean"

It's been nearly 3 years since Fleet Foxes' self-titled debut album hit music store shelves and almost equally as long since the band's released any sort of music video. Now with the album release so close you can almost taste it (or hear it - since a new track seems to be springing up pretty much weekly), the band offer up a new video for previously unreleased song "Grown Ocean". The video was filmed and edited by bandleader Robin Pecknold's brother Sean and features a bunch of old style documentary clips of the band recording set to the music with various splashes home life, nature, and the occasional cartoon clip. It follows in the fast-paced energy of previously released track "Battery Kinzie" and just proves beyond reasonable doubt that Helplessness Blues is going to be an amazing album.

Speaking of which, you can now pre-order the album here.

Enjoy the video for "Grown Ocean" filmed by Sean Pecknold:

Fleet Foxes - Grown Ocean from Fleet Foxes on Vimeo.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pitstop: Buke & Gass

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Normally I ignore when Amazon recommends something to me (Sorry, Amazon). Not anymore. For countless weeks, Amazon recommended Buke & Gass to me because I bought music from Ivan & Alyosha, The Heligoats, Maps & Atlases, First Aid Kit, GOASST, Surfer Blood, Midlake, and GAYNGS. I'm not exactly sure how any of these are linked to Buke & Gass aside from being equally as awesome. Which leads me to explaining who exactly Buke & Gass are. Buke & Gass are a Brooklyn based duo who create oddly catchy minimalistic songs on homemade instruments: the buke - a modified six string baritone ukulele and the gass - a guitar/bass hybrid peppered with some foot percussion and lilting vocals provided by Arone Dyer. It sounds kind of new age-y and gimmicky until you actually hear their songs. Then you realize that this band isn't just your run of the mill New York area experimentalists. As if there music wasn't awesome enough, the duo are also involved with The Blue Man Group. Aron Sanchez builds instruments for the Blue Man Group and Dyer sang on "What Is Rock" on The Complex. Suddenly everything makes sense.

Get a taste of Buke & Gass with this video for "Page Break" off their debut album Riposte released last fall. If you like what you hear, you can check out more of their tunes on their MySpace, their Bandcamp, or buy their album wherever you prefer to buy your music.

Fleet Foxes release another new track, offer up vinyl for charity

Earlier this week, fans were graced with a another preview of Fleet Foxes sophomore album Helplessness Blues, a humdinger of a diddy by the name of "Battery Kinzie" and while the album was leaked earlier today (much to the dismay of the band), another track has resurfaced for all those that like Fleet Foxes subtle, slow seduction, a new track "Bedouin Dress" has surfaced. It's a mid-tempo jam which rocks for all the right reasons and has something not heard in many Fleet Foxes songs: fiddle. But just enough to pique your interest and catch your ear before it blends in among the more common guitar and drums. Listen to "Bedouin Dress":
Bedouin Dress by SloaneRanger

And in case you didn't know, Fleet Foxes is auctioning off their test pressing of Helpnessness Blues and donating the proceeds to Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. The band has also announced that they intend to match the donations of the final bid. Which certain is a doozy as it's already reached $3,000. If you're at all interested you can bid on the vinyl test pressing here.

The Dodos release video for "Black Night"

The Dodos' new video for "Black Night", directed by Ariel Danziger, combines Hitchcock suspense with the slow-pacing prevalent in western films. It's rare that you can take a scenario like a secret underground boxing ring and have so very little happen in it but they manage to do so that you don't even notice. The bandmembers make cameos in the video with Logan Kroeber as the speakeasy era bartender and Meric Long as a mystical cloaked referee. You never quite understand what's happening in the video as it's infused supernatural elements that's blended seamlessly with the reality of the plot. Enjoy the video for "Black Night":

Thursday, March 24, 2011

tUnE-yArDs release new video

tUnE-yArDs kind of set the bar pretty high after the thoroughly enjoyable video for "Real Live Flesh" and with her latest video for "Bizness", Garbus certainly outdoes herself. For starters, the video has some semblance of a story but not enough to bog down the video with meaningless details. The video starts in a classroom with a young Garbus-look-a-like rallying her other students into a kind of pseudo dance rebellion. Then there's this awesome light in the mouth scene, followed by Garbus herself leading a bunch of dancers in a forest made of cardboard trees. There's lifts, choreographed writhing on the floor, funny faces, all held together by bright colors and Garbus proving herself to possess another talent (like she needed one). Enjoy the video for "Bizness":

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Johnny Flynn announces North American Tour

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After about a month long stint at the Royal Court Theatre in London as Ben Shotter in The Heretic (where he debuted a new song), British folk singer Johnny Flynn has announced a North American tour beginning in May with his full band The Sussex Wit.

5/15 Vera Project - Seattle, Washington
5/16 Doug Fir Lounge - Portland, Oregon
5/17 The Independent - San Francisco, California
5/18 The Echo - Los Angeles, California
5/19 Hard Rock Cafe - Phoenix, Arizona
5/21 Hi-Dive - Denver, Colorado
5/23 Blueberry Hill - St. Louis, Missouri
5/24 7th Street Entry - Minneapolis, Minnesota
5/25 Mayne Stage - Chicago, Illinois
5/26 The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
5/27 Il Motore - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
5/28 Bowery Ballroom - New York, New York
5/30 Middle East Downstairs - Cambridge, Massachusetts
5/31 Iron Hall Music Hall - Northampton, Massachusetts
6/1 World Cafe Live - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
6/2 The Ottobar - Baltimore, Maryland

The Middle East announce debut album

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The Middle East are my favorite band that almost wasn't. They released The Recordings of the Middle East, a 5 song EP, right before they decided to break up in 2009 and it generated enough buzz to convince them to get back together. Since then The Middle East have been taking it relatively slow. Relatively. They played their first US tour with Mumford & Sons, played a couple shows in Europe (where they also played with Laura Marling and Frightened Rabbit) and then laid low for while, playing the occasional show in their native Australian. Now they're announcing the release of their debut album I Want That You Are Always Happy on April 8th in Australia and New Zealand. While this is unfortunately for their fans elsewhere, it's also great news considering they haven't broken up and a worldwide (or at least US/UK) release might not be far behind. Here's to hoping.

You can also listen to new songs "Jesus Came to My Birthday Party" and "Black Death 1349" on their Facebook page. And if for some odd reason you don't have a Facebook you an listen to "Jesus Came to My Birthday Party" at their MySpace page here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Laura Marling premieres new song at Radio 2 Folk Awards

Firstly I have to mention I had no idea that folk awards of any kind existed but it's a pretty awesome idea. Especially considering how many pop-centric awards shows exist. Secondly, Laura Marling's new song "Flicker and Fail" is absolutely amazing. At age 21, Marling already has two albums under her belt and another one on the way. It's exciting every time a new song pops up because simply put: They are all so good. Marling's songwriting ability is truly something to envied, combine that with her radiant vocals and its no wonder she's racking up award after award. But enough gushing. Enjoy Laura Marling's new song "Flicker and Fail" live from the Radio 2 Folk Awards:

New Fleet Foxes track premiered in UK

Earlier today (tonight if you're from Europe), a new track "Battery Kinzie" was premiered off Fleet Foxes upcoming album Helplessness Blues on BBC's Zane Lowe and thanks to the magic of the internet (and the folks over at Listen Before You Buy) you can hear the new track too.

Here's hoping the new track will tide you over til the album's May 3rd release.
Fleet Foxes - Battery Kinzie by One Thirty BPM

Now Streaming: The Antlers premiere new album tracks at SXSW

It was only about two weeks ago that Brooklyn trio The Antlers announced details to their new album Burst Apart, the follow up to the heart-breaking, soul-shattering Hospice. And while the album isn't out to early May, the trio sought fit to play their full album at NPR's SXSW Thursday showcase.

You can watch a recording of the live broadcast as well as listen to streaming audio of the performance at the NPR website here.

Tyler James - It Took The Fire (2010)

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Never has the world seemed smaller than when I discovered that Ten Out of Tenn artist Tyler James (who I was introduced to via Andrew Belle) was also keyboardist for Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Considering that the two artist collectives are radically different, I was intrigued as to what Tyler James' solo recordings might sound like. Combine that curiosity with Noisetrade offering it up for free and it didn't take long for Tyler James' debut It Took the Fire to end up in my music library. I don't know what I was expecting but still It Took The Fire managed to shatter them. From lead track "All I Got" it's obvious this isn't going to be your standard singer/songwriter fare.

Tyler James manages to channel his multi-instrumentalism into a fusion of brilliantly soulful piano-pop. Its one of those fusions that combines enough elements as to be ultimately undefinable for all the good reasons. Add in remarkable choices in instrumentation and arrangement, and Tyler James creates a truly enjoyable experience. Get a taste of Tyler James with the music video for "All I Got":

Noah and the Whale - Last Night on Earth (2011)

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After the endearing heartbreak of Charlie Fink's post-heartbreak catharsis captured eloquently on 2009's The First Days of Spring, Noah and the Whale return with something a bit more upbeat. Trading in their folksy canter for dancier beats, sunnier arrangements, and uplifting lyrics, Last Night on Earth is a celebration of life: the answer to the pervasive melancholy of the previous album. Despite the more pop and rock influenced sound, Last Night on Earth still resembles the Noah and the Whale fans remember thanks in part to Fink’s narrative lyricism. Whereas First Days of Spring was continuous and interconnected, Last Night of Earth’s tracks have a definitely stand-alone quality connected in album form mainly through the reoccurring theme of living life to the fullest. The first three tracks (“Life is Life”, “Tonight’s the Kind of Night”, and “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N) actually sound pretty much the same lyrically: It’s not until “Wild Thing” where the listener is offered up something completely different. That’s not to say that the album’s three tracks are bad or unoriginal, rather they seek to establish a story much like the previous album did as a whole. The setup is what makes energetic, celebratory tracks like “Give It All Back” and “Waiting For My Chance” feel unforced; genuine and sincere. That’s when the album really hits its stride. After shedding the purely pop rock-esque vibe, the talents of Noah and the Whale’s members are best utilized with driving, delightful instrumentals.

Last Night on Earth is a major step for Noah and the Whale proving that the band is able to properly integrate new influences without losing any of their charm or sounding like an entirely new band. The band also re-introduces female backing vocals in a big way: explosive gospel-reminiscent appearances on “Tonight’s the Kind of Night” and “Old Joy”. Last Night on Earth is a definite success, proving there’s life after heartbreak in an entertaining way. It’s an album (that unlike its predecessor) you can crank at any time guiltlessly and simply enjoy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pitstop: Bibio

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Meet Bibio. Chances are you’ve already heard at least one of his songs if you watch any sort of television. You see, part of “Lovers’ Carvings” was used in a commercial for the Amazon Kindle and that’s exactly how I was introduced to his music. Bibio is the moniker of British music producer Stephen Wilkinson and his music is a zesty blend of folk and electronics. Wilkinson integrates DJ-esque tricks like found sounds with his own field recordings and musical concoctions. His latest studio album Ambivalence Avenue (from which “Lovers’ Carvings” was taken) was out in 2009 and consists of a dizzying array of varying types of tracks. Since then he’s released a remix album and his upcoming album Mind Bokeh is due out March 29th. The new album promises to be a departure from the folk influence and a dive into a more pop-oriented sphere.

Get eased into the folksier side of Bibio with the track that inspired it all (or at least this post) "Lovers' Carvings":

Teitur to release new album in the UK

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I have no idea how it's managed to escape my mention for so long but: Faroese singer-songwriter Teitur has a new album out. Unfortunately, Teitur's new album Let the Dog Drive Home has yet to receive a release date in the US, but will enjoy a release date in the UK early next month. It'll be Teitur's second studio album release in the UK after 2008's The Singer and last year's compilation album All My Mistakes. So until the day he announces a US release date,thanks to the marvel of the internet you can at least get a small taste of the new album.

Enjoy the video for "Freight Train":

The Voluntary Butler Scheme - The Chevreul EP (2011)

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The Voluntary Butler Scheme aka Rob Jones' one man band is back. After the release of his debut album At Breakfast, Dinner, Tea. almost two year he's returned with the new four song Chevreul EP. Jones has always used computers and various technology to craft his song but his latest venture is the first time it's actually sounded like it. Instead of the easy-breezy pop melodies of his debut, the new ep has a cut-and-paste electronic sound. Sure there's still melody in the songs but they've shucked off the easy listening retro-pop vibe and instead pull from an almost completely different set of influences: most notably some hip-hop and chillwave. Although the retro-influence still remains in "To the Height Of A Frisbee". What's even more genius is the method Jones used to create several of the songs on the new EP: cutting up some of his oldest tracks to create drastically different ones. It's an idea that you'd think would sound better in theory than in actual practice but Jones' flawless execution and masterful arranging make it work.

Hear The Voluntary Butler Scheme's new sound with the video for single "Do the Hand Jive":

You can also listen to the EP as well as a remix of "Do the Hand Jive" by The Go! Team on his bandcamp.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Strokes - Angles (2011)

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When it comes to The Strokes there are only two kinds of people: casual listeners and die-hard fans. Everyone has heard of The Strokes or has at least heard one of their songs as their reach is all but inescapable. I'd classify myself in the former category: A casual listener. And yet when I heard that they'd be releasing their first album in nearly 5 years, I was excited and when I heard it would be similar in style to their debut album Is This It, I was doubly excited ("Someday" is one of my favorite Strokes songs).

When "Machu Picchu" starts, it's obvious that Angles will be no mere duplication of Is This It. Their sound is cleaner, tempered by age and experience, and it's clear that The Strokes can never sounds like they did back in the 90s. At least not exactly. Tell any listener that the blips of sound in "Machu Picchu" are made by a guitar and not by a synthesizer and be prepared to be met with considerable amounts of disbelief.

I have no idea how it stands when compared to other Strokes albums but Angles stands alone as a decent effort. By no means it is perfect but I doubt that was their intention and that's not what real rock music sets out to be. And yet it's surprisingly hard to classify the album as a straight up rock record. Sure, "Under Cover Of Darkness" and "Taken For A Fool" (definite album highlights) jam like proper rock songs but tracks like "Games" and "Gratisfaction are far from it: a little unsettling in their poppiness. But as I said before: Angles is a valiant effort; a worthwhile triumph after years of low output. Here's hoping it doesn't take another 5 years for the next album to come out but if that's how long it takes to deliver another decent album then so be it.

Now Streaming: The Strokes - Angles

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After various preview tracks and a performance on SNL, The Strokes have thoroughly teased their upcoming fourth album, Angles and finally the album is almost here. In exactly a week from today, actually. But before that, a full week before its scheduled release, The Strokes are offering their new album up for a listen on their website here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

tUnE-yArDs premieres new song live in Paris

Before her SXSW stop and subsequent North American tour, tUnE-yArDs decided a trip to Paris was necessary. While there she set up at Paris' Place des Vosges and proves she's so talented she doesn't even need instruments, relying only on drumsticks played on a concrete wall and a delay pedal hooked up to her ukelele. Enjoy the video of tUnE-yArDs' acoustic version of new song "Doorstep" live from Paris:

HibOO d'Live : Tune-Yards "Doorstep" from on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Robin Pecknold release three songs

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Robin Pecknold (of Fleet Foxes) recently released a free three song EP via Twitter. The EP features a duet with Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste, an original song, as well as a cover of New Zealand folk singer Chris Thompson's "Where Is My Wild Rose?"

You can download the free EP here.

The Antlers release new album details

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Brooklyn trio The Antlers' follow up to emotional powerhouse Hospice is almost here. The new album entitled Burst Apart , due out May 10th, is the result of the band's increased interest in electronic music and promises to be as emotionally enriching as fans have come to expect.

You can pre-order the new album on CD or Vinyl at InSound.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Megafaun announce new tour dates

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North Carolina folk trio Megafaun are hitting the road next week after months of recording their upcoming album. Playing with acts like Menomena, The Mountain Goats, and close friend Sharon Van Etten, their tour's bound to be a good one. And looks like New Yorkers are in luck: Megafaun are playing not one, not two, but FIVE New York dates. Check out the tour dates:

3/15 Republic - New Orleans, Louisiana (with Menomena)
3/16 Warehouse Live - Austin, Texas (with Menomena)
3/17 The Mohawk - Austin, Texas
3/19 Hometapes Friend Island - Austin, Texas
3/24 The National - Richmond, Virginia (with The Mountain Goats)
3/25 9:30 Club - Washington, D.C. (with The Mountain Goats)
3/26 Strand-Capitol Performing Arts - York, Pennsylvania (with The Mountain Goats)
3/28 Bowery Ballroom - New York, New York (with The Mountain Goats)
3/29 Bowery Ballroom - New York, New York (with The Mountain Goats)
3/30 Bowery Ballroom - New York, New York (with The Mountain Goats)
4/1 Paradise - Boston, Massachusetts (with The Mountain Goats)
4/2 Castaways - Ithaca, New York (with The Mountain Goats)
4/3 Opera House - Toronto, Ontario, Canada (with The Mountain Goats)
4/5 Vic Theatre - Chicago, Illinois (with The Mountain Goats)
4/6 Mercy Lounge - Nashville, Tennessee (with The Mountain Goats)
4/7 Variety Playhouse - Atlanta, Georgia (with The Mountain Goats)
4/8 Cat's Cradle - Carrboro, North Carolina (with The Mountain Goats)
4/10 Grey Eagle - Asheville, North Carolina (with The Mountain Goats)
4/11 Wexner Performing Arts Center - Columbus, Ohio (with The Mountain Goats)
4/12 Mr. Smalls - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (with The Mountain Goats)
4/14 The Ottobar - Baltimore, Maryland (with The Mountain Goats)
4/15 Theater of Living Arts - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (with The Mountain Goats)
4/16 Music Hall of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, New York (with Sharon Van Etten)

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Dodos - No Color (2011)

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Beginning with "Black Night", No Color marks The Dodos triumphant return to percussive reliant folk-inspired rock duo. It's surprising how full a song can sound with only two band members and yet The Dodos use every tool at their disposal to create a incredibly diverse sonic palette. No Color is definitely an album worthy of multiple listens. Each track on its first listen seems rather simplistic but is anything but. Repeat listens reveal a little more into the surprisingly complex composition of No Color's song. It's obvious the duo have learned many valuable lessons from previous album Time to Die, keeping in infectiously memorable and aurally pleasing melodic lines afforded them by vibraphonist Keaton Synder previous stint in the band. "Going Under" is the first instance that Neko Case shows up on vocals. I was curious how Case was going to factor into the equation and she's used to wonderfully marvelous effect. She's far from overpowering, allowing the duo's album to remain their own, but her presence is definitely noticed.

No Color crackles with an almost overwhelming amount of energy, at no point letting up. The Dodos are in full control, using their talents with remarkable precision. The album is a technical masterpiece, yet at no point does it seem like it and that is perhaps the band's greatest strength. The rather complex nature of their songs are downplayed by a jam-like aura which make it widely accessible.

No Color is out next week (March 15th) but you can listen to the full streaming album here and pre-order the album at their website here.

Now Streaming: The Dodos - No Color

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About a month ago, San Francisco duo The Dodos gave their first preview of their new album No Color with the release of new track "Black Night" and now the whole album is available for full streaming from the lovely folks at NPR. Listen to the album in its entirety here.

Arctic Monkeys release new video and tour details

I'm completely ashamed to admit this but I kind of forgot about The Arctic Monkeys. Nothing to do with them, they just kind of dropped off my radar after the release of their second album and I never heard about them again. So low and behold when I read that their newest song "Brick by Brick" (off their upcoming fourth album) has a music video. The new song is cleaner than I remember the band sounded but still has the appropriate amount of hard rock grit, that fans have come to love. The new song sounds a little like a combination of psychedelic and surf rock so it's no wonder the video features shots of the band on the beach in what would appear to be Los Angeles. The other half of the video is strangely enough just a vinyl record spinning around, along with some quick flashes of the band performing, and some recording equipment. It all makes sense this sort of weird way. Enjoy the video for Arctic Monkey's "Brick by Brick":

They're also plays a small slew of North American tour dates:
5/17 9:30 Club - Washington D.C.
5/18 The Electric Factory - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
5/19 House of Blues - Boston, Massachusetts
5/21 Kool Haus - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
5/22 Olympia de Montreal - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
5/24 Rumsey Playfield (aka Central Park Summerstage) - New York, New York
5/26 Clutch Cargoes - Detroit, Michigan
5/27 The Rave - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
5/28 First Ave - Minneapolis, Minnesota
5/30 The Ogden Theatre - Denver, Colorado
5/31 In The Venue - Salt Lake City, Utah
6/3 Hollywood Palladium - Los Angeles, California

Sondre Lerche release new track, readies North American tour

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For those lucky enough to hear about Brooklyn-based Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche's 24 hour ticket pre-sale, they were gifted with new track "Ricochet". Now Sondre Lerche, fresh from a two day stint in Jakarta, is previewing another track from his new self titled album (out 6/2). The new track, "Domino" continues with the soft rock vibe established in the album's lead track. You can listen to the new track here.

In addition to the track release, Lerche has also announced a much anticipated North American tour.

5/31 The Mod Club - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
6/1 Sala Rossa - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
6/2 Paradise Rock Club - Boston, Massachusetts
6/3 World Cafe Live - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
6/4 Bowery Ballroom - New York, New York
6/7 9:30 Club - Washington, D.C.
6/9 Cat's Cradle -Carrboro, North Carolina
6/10 12th & Porter - Nashville, Tennessee
6/11 The Variety - Atlanta, Georgia
6/12 WorkPlay Theatre - Birmingham, Alabama
6/14 Southgate House - Newport, Kentucky
6/15 The Old Rock House - St. Louis, Missouri
6/17 Fine Line Music Cafe - Minneapolis, Minnesota
6/18 Schubas Tavern - Chicago, Illinois
6/19 Lincoln Hall - Chicago, Illinois
6/21 Larimer Lounge - Denver, Colorado
6/22 Urban Lounge - Salt Lake City, Utah
6/24 Biltmore Cabaret - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
6/25 The Croc - Seattle, Washington
6/26 Doug Fir Lounge - Portland, Oregon
6/28 Great American Music Hall - San Francisco, California
6/29 El Rey - Los Angeles, California
6/30 Belly Up - San Diego, California

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Live!: Matthew Bourne's Lord of the Flies at the Theatre Royal

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After viewing a production of Matthew Bourne’s emotionally gripping adaptation of Swan Lake this past fall during its NYC season, I knew a transatlantic journey was a definite must. And so on the announcement of his newest work, an adaptation of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (with an extremely limited run of about 5 days); I was drawn to Glasgow’s Theatre Royal through a sort of siren song and the promise of good theater.

British director/choreographer Matthew Bourne has brilliantly reimagined many a work, from Bizet’s Carmen to Prokofiev’s Cinderella and most famously Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. His latest creation, Lord of the Flies certainly doesn’t disappoint. The production marks the first work since the start of his company, New Adventures, that wasn’t choreographed by Bourne, instead entrusting veteran company dancer and associate director Scott Ambler to bring his latest vision to life.

With Golding’s Lord of the Flies as the subject matter, there are certainly pitfalls and expectations as to what it would be like which Ambler and Bourne shatter effortlessly. Rather than set the action inside a jungle, they resorted to creative use of the space and an industrial inspired set although several elements of story’s fearsome jungle remain. Ambler, through his use of flowing lines followed by unpredictable hard-hitting choreography, did an incredible job of capturing the primal influence of the jungle- aided most definitely by frequent New Adventures collaborator Terry Davies’ score.

Dominic North’s portrayal as responsible peace-keeper leader Ralph was earnest, sincere, and heartbreaking: most notably in a lovely trio with Tim Bartlett (Simon) and Sam Plant (Piggy) as he questions his continued leadership and at the plays end where he sits dejected, tears streaming after the boys are rescued and the disaster averted. Adam Galbraith, Danny Reubens, and Jack Jones proved to be startlingly convincing as the terrifying violent trio of Jack, Roger, and Maurice while Luke Murphy and Phil Gardner as twins Sam and Eric with their picture perfect symmetry and radiant, bewilderingly charm was a definite highlight of the production and offered much needed comic relief.

Perhaps the ballet’s greatest achievement was in its inclusion of local children (many of whom had never danced before) giving them vigorous and challenging choreography to learn which they performed ably, like born professionals. Ambler’s choreography relying on a lot of repetition and synchronicity, the boys really stepped up to the challenge and tackled the difficult steps to fantastic effect.

Bourne’s Lord of the Flies is a true testament to the trust he has in the company members to bring his vision to life, the high level of talent contained within his company, as well as the effectiveness of his company’s educational branch Re:bourne. Here’s hoping there are plenty more innovative and imaginative collaborations from Bourne and his company. I know as long as there are, I’ll be willing to endure more transatlantic voyages to see them because quite frankly, they’re worth it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Princeton release video for new track "To the Alps"

Early last month, Los Angeles Princeton made their triumphant return with the release of dance-y track "To The Alps". Now that track has a video. Directed by Sean Barrett, the video is simple, straight forward, and yet amazing. Capitalizing on the track's pure dance-inducing qualities, they add in roller break-dancers of varying skill levels to brilliant effect. Part choreographer roller skate dance, part unadulterated fun, Princeton managed to create a video that'll be sure to merit many repeats. Enjoy "To the Alps":