Ummmmm. Arcade Fire has started streaming their highly anticipated album “Reflektor” on youtube with a monster lyric video suddenly. This is unexpected twist in the saga that has been hype and promotion for this album. It was leaked in Ireland due to an early release so it looks like the band has taken it upon themselves to make sure fans hear the record directly from them before it becomes available for purchase next week.
You ever buy concert tickets months in advance for a show that you are completely stoked about only to have the day come and not feel like going at all? That was me yesterday. Rarely do I find myself not wanting to attending anything that is potentially fun let alone a concert that already has that guarantee attached. It was a Monday, sue me. I paid the money so of course I went like a trooper thinking that I would just “make the best of it.”
Walking up to the historic Wiltern theater on the corner or Wilshire and Weston the emerald green marquee was bright with the letters of one band responsible for selling out three nights in a row. Alex Turner, Jamie Cook, Nick O’Malley, and Matt Helders are the members of British rock sensation Arctic Monkeys and I had no idea what I was in for.
Sold out shows are awesome in LA. Yes, they happen all the time but when they do bands rise to the occasion. On top of that the band made it known their new album called “AM” was recorded “just down the road” as if it wasn’t going to be enough for the sold out crowd alone. Opening the show with a flood of strobe effects, a curtain reveal of giant LED A and M letters which exploded with light to the beat and the brooding opening song from “AM” called “Do I Wanna Know?” was a perfect way to kick off the night. The new song followed by “Brainstorm” from 2007′s “Favourite Worst Nightmare” and my favorite Monkey’s song “Dancing Shoes” from their debut album literally sent the crowd into a frenzy. I have seen this happen before, but last night I wasn’t expecting it at all. Alex Turner donning a red sequin jacket had the entire Wiltern in the palm of his hand starting from song 1. The floor was on fire with the mass of people jumping dancing and screaming (I’ll get to the screaming part in a minute.) As the set progressed and the band moved through over half of their new record with a sprinkle of their other 4 full length releases (my only complaint). They leaned a little too much on the new material and with a back catalog like theirs I under stand it’s hard to play everything/ it’s nearly impossible, but still. Come on no “Fake Tales of San Francisco?” There were glimpses of the old with a monster rendition of “I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor” and “Crying Lightning” from their 2006 debut album and 2009′s “Humbug” respectively. Aside from the songs I mentioned my two favorite moments of the night we actually the two least upbeat songs of the whole night. Midway through the set the Monkeys played a track from ‘AM’ called “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” which has a slow almost hip hop groove. It’s dark and awesome. Then toward the end of the show they played another slow one this time with Turner on acoustic guitar called “No. 1 Party Anthem” which is by far my favorite song off the new album. Both songs combined with the high energy that the Monkeys are known for made for a very well rounded show.
Now let’s talk about the crowd. Holy S-Word. I had ear plugs with me and honestly I didn’t need them for the band. I was up in the balcony and the sound was crisp and well balanced. I was extremely impressed. It was the crowd that drove me to popping them in. They were completely nut’s. It was one of the loudest LA crowds I have ever been a part of. That’s why sold out LA show’s work 9 times out of 10. The people wanted to be there on a Monday night and the band whether they wanted to be there or not had no choice but to give the energy right back to the maniacal crowd. I have been following Arctic Monkeys since day one back in 2006 and have seen them a couple of times at a couple of festivals. They always put on a good show, but I had no idea the fan base that this band has gained over the last 7 years. Hats off to them and their rabid fans. I am now one of them and I can’t wait until they come back.
Here’s the full on set list for those who are curious:
Do I Wanna Know?, Brainstorm, Dancing Shoes, Don’t Sit Down Because I Moved Your Chair, Teddy Picker, Crying Lightning, Snap Out of It, Evil Twin, Old Yellow Bricks, Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?, Arabella, Pretty Visitors, I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor, Cornerstone, No. 1 Party Anthem, Fluorescent Adolescent, Knee Socks Encore: One For The Road, Do Me A Favor, R U Mine?
Steve Rippin | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @stevewithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC
You’re going to hear about them eventually if you haven’t already. Their debut album has set pace for an incredible career ahead. The 1975 released their self-titled debut earlier this month, and it is definitely one of the best albums released this year. It’s not something that has simply appeared with some marketing money after a bit of time in the studio. Matthew Healy (vocals, guitar), Ross MacDonald (bass), Adam Hann (guitar), and George Daniel (drums) began playing music together in 2002 when they first met at met at Wilmslow High School near Manchester, England. The band name came after a few previous guises, and was inspired by “scribblings found in the back page of an old beat poetry book dated 1 June, The 1975.” However, it is also a significant indicator as to some of the band’s influences: Michael Jackson, My Bloody Valentine, Peter Gabriel, Boyz II Men, Alexander O’Neal, Brian Eno, and more. It’s been a long road and a lot of writing for the band as they released four EPs leading up to the debut album. Facedown, Sex, Music for Cars, and IV gained almost instant popularity in the UK through BBC radio and other outlets. The band toured extensively to support their new music over the past couple years, landing spots opening for Muse, The Neighborhood, and even The Rolling Stones. Their ability to perform live is obviously a huge part of why they are where they are with their music. Check out their appearance on Conan, playing “Chocolate.”
The sound that fans have come to love from the 1975 has been crafted over years of playing together, but also with the help from the co-producer of their debut release, Mike Crossey. When asked about the process, Healy mentioned, “He was more than aware of the uncertainty that can be presented when you depart from a certain way of thinking or in this case — producing records, so he just made sure we understood we would be going in on a co production level.” A good producer won’t try to change someone’s sound completely, but instead work to develop and pull greatness out of what already exists, and that’s exactly what Crossey did. You can hear it all on the album; the dance, the M.J., the rock n’ roll, and the level of musicianship that it takes to execute all of the sounds, lines, rhythms, and harmonies at once. Most of all, it’s fun and refreshing to listen to. Check out “The City.”
With creative compositions and lyrics about finding yourself and young relationships, The 1975 managed to acquire fans of One Direction and Muse; two totally different groups of music listeners that seem to appreciate different and overlapping qualities of the band and their music. They are currently on tour in the United Kingdom, having just recently played iTunes Festival in London. The band will hit North American venues starting in October, then continue through Europe and other parts of the world in November. The 1975 will be busy, that’s for sure, but I don’t think they’ll be getting tired of it any time soon… not with the crowds they’re about to face around the world. It’s exciting stuff. If you like what you heard, click on the album art below or the Amazon links on the left and get you some 1975. Do it!
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC.
I think it’s amazing to see the progression of music throughout time, especially when songs and ideas from decades ago are revisited by contemporary artists. We all know that there’s nothing quite as good as the original, unless it’s completely taken apart and put back together again. I’ve found a perfect example. The history of the song is even enough to get you moving, but the groove won’t disappoint. It was co-written by Robert Cray and Dennis Walker in the early 1990′s, and was featured and performed by BB King (Blues Summit) and Tony Bennett (Playin’ With My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues), among others. Both albums won Grammy awards. The song has now been resurrected in 2012 by Masters In France as their latest single.
The song officially released on October 22, 2012 and recently exploded with over 1.3 million views on YouTube due to it’s placement in an Ikea advert, but we won’t hold that against it. After all, it’s all about “bringing people together this holiday season.” Check it out.
Masters In France is an alternative band from the UK that released their debut EP, Inhale, in September 2011. Though an ironically misleading name suggests otherwise, Masters In France actually originate from Bangor in Whales. The band has been together since 2009, but began officially releasing singles two years later. They write and perform in both English and Welch, while their music is driven by bass lines, heavy grooves, heavy riffs, and crisp blending vocals. Like their cover of “Playin’ With My Friends,” the rest of their music is energetic, musically complex, and well produced. Their current single, “Mad Hatter,” has been rolling for over a year with heavy support from BBC’s Radio 1. The rest of the EP is full of great songs with influences from a variety of genres ranging from dark heavy rock to pop and dance. Here’s the official music video for their latest single, “Mad Hatter.”
You might try listening to the music without watching the video the first time. Despite the odd story line, which makes some sense considering the title, I really like how this video was shot. You can count on Masters In France to keep the quality coming, and let’s hope for a debut album in 2013. Until then, visit their Facebook page for the latest updates on music and touring. Pass it on!
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC
Do you like when people play guitar? Do you like it when people who play guitar have awesome voices that compliment their really cool guitar playing? Do you like good music? Do you like the blues/ RnB? Survey over. If you answered ‘yes’ to all of those questions (which you should have) you can continue reading as we take a look at Gary Clark Jr’s new album and first full legnth release called “Blak and Blu.”
Aint Messin’ Round – Gary Clark Jr.
Yea I know right? This is the first track off the record and he starts big. I saw Gary and band play this song live last weekend at Austin CIty Limits and they destroyed it in the best way possible. After listening to this first track needless to say this is exciting. Gary Clark Jr. has been touring and playing shows fro quite some time and has made stops at just about every major US festival the energy he brings to his live shows comes through on this record. As I move through my favorite tracks you’ll quickly realize this is not a one trick guitar fuzz laden album. The mix of blues to RnB to country to rock and roll back to the blues might make you think that Gary Clark is struggling to find his musical identity, but as you’ll see that’s just not the case. I can only imagine he is a music lover with respect to all genres and with talents like his writing genre specific music doesn’t seem to be an issue.
Blak and Blu – Gary Clark Jr.
In a complete 180 from ‘Ain’t Messin’ Round’ the title track “Blak and Blu” shows a completely different side. RnB meets a little bit of soul. His voice compliments this direction and even though its a departure from the massive rock sound it still works. I don’t know if I’m 100% on board with the lack of transitions or fluctuations between genres given the next tune sends us right back into the wailing guitar world.
Bright Lights – Gary Clark Jr.
This song picks up right where ‘Ain’t Messin Round’ and the second track “When My Train Pulls In” left off. It’s hard to avoid the obvious Jimi Hendrix comparison especially since he covers ‘Third Stone from the Sun’ later in the record. His look an demeanor and guitar playing are definitely reminiscent of the legend. I think thats it though. The songs as a collection really don’t have anything to do with Hendrix at all so I’ll leave it at that.
Here’s where I got a little bit confused. The pseudo alt country tune (sorry if anyone takes offense to that) ‘Travis County’ and the tune ‘The Life’ back to back baffled me. ’Travis County’ as you’ll hear below is an upbeat guitar rocker while ‘The Life’ is a RnB borderline Hip Hop Tune ready for top 40 radio play. After hearing some of the other music on this record it honestly doesn’t even sound like Gary Clark Jr. I’m more of a rock guy so my tendencies lie there when it comes to what music I like better and RnB has its place but the two songs back to back just threw me for a loop. I’d say it’s a ballsy move that I’m not sure paid off in my book, but whatever. I guess it depends on what you prefer but as I referred to before, there is most definitely something for all music fans on this record.
Travis County – Gary Clark Jr.
The Life – Gary Clark Jr.
Segueing out of ‘The Life’ we come across a track called ‘Glitter Ain’t Gold (Jumpin’ For Nothing)’ where once again I have to apologize for making obvious comparisons to Lenny Kravitz. It sounds like him. Whatever. It’s important to note that even though these comparisons exists and as I wrap up this review as a body of work these tunes are awesome and I’m a new fan. After witnessing his live show at ACL this year and after webcasting him over the course of this past summer I really wish I had a ticket to his three upcoming shows at the Troubadour.
I’m exited to hear more from someone who can take all genre’s of music and make them his own. Later on in the record he has a pair of tunes called ‘Please Come Home’ and “Things are Changin’ which are slow burners but really tie into each other nicely. As the record draws to a close we venture back into the guitar laden fuzz Gary Clark Jr. has become known for. With ‘Third Stone from the Sun / If You Love Me Like You Say’ and ‘Next Door Neighbor Blues’ which are an excellent end to a whirlwind of music. As a collection of music this album delivers on many levels. Those who enjoy pop and RnB there is a taste in here for you and for those who like their guitars nice and loud, there is plenty in here for you. All in all I think music lovers are the real winners when it comes to what this record can provide. Seriously does anyone have an extra ticket to the troubadour shows?
Third Stone From The Sun/ If You Love Me Like You Say – Gary Clark Jr.
Next Door Neighbor Blues – Gary Clark Jr.
The Temper Trap put on an amazing show Thursday night at Marathon Music Works during their first time ever in Music City. The Australian rock band features Dougy Mandagi on lead vocals, Jonathon Aherne on bass guitar, Toby Dundas on drums, Lorenzo Sillitto on lead guitar and Joseph Greer on keyboards and guitar. With a long list of film and TV placement, the band has become quite well known for their distinct sound and songwriting ability. Over the past few years, “Sweet Disposition,” off their first album, Conditions, has been their strongest song to date, setting the pace for a highly anticipated sophomore release. Their self-titled second album, The Temper Trap, dropped in June 2012 and is an awesome follow-up to their their debut. There were more than a few songs that I couldn’t wait to hear live when they played in Nashville the other night and one of them was their first single from The Temper Trap, “Need Your Love.”
The video was directed by Dugan O’Neal and resembles a short story similar to that of the Karate Kid. Having fresh media is essential if you’re a band or artist in today’s music industry. People are constantly being bombarded with videos and information, and it’s easy to be left in the dust if you’re not keeping fans and listeners engaged with your music. This is especially true if the music isn’t on the radio or getting publishing (film and TV) opportunities. Videos allow listeners to experience songs in a few ways; by showing the band’s live energy and emotion when performing, telling a story, and/or a creative combination of both. The Temper Trap does an incredible job of staying relevant with videos that engage their listeners in all of these ways. In the case of “Trembling Hands,” my personal favorite, they incorporate a story that shows the struggles of a trapeze artist while training her performance. Directed by Tom Haines, the video was shot in Cuba and features Dougy Madangi. ”Trembling Hands” is my favorite song on the new album and it was astonishing to hear them play it live in concert!
Aside from the sheer power of these songs, the success of the marketing and distribution side of things can be linked to their deal with Glassnote Records, one of the world’s best independent labels. While Glassnote uses Sony’s RED Distribution, the label still remains independent from the majors. They’ve even beat out majors by helping Mumford & Sons sell the most copies during first week album sales this year. The Temper Trap is linked with excellent management as well, being signed with Lunatic Entertainment who also manage Gotye. It all proves how essential it really is to have a solid team linked with an artist or band. The Temper Trap is now on tour in the US through the end of October, and believe me, you don’t want to miss your chance to see them here! They’ll be heading over to New Zealand and Australia to play shows in November (some of which will be with Coldplay). If you like what you heard in the videos above, get your copy of The Temper Trap and check out upcoming tour dates by clicking on the album art below.
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC
The XX is a band that appeared out of nowhere in 2009 with a huge self-titled debut album. Originating in London, England, the band has just released their sophomore album, Coexist, in proper “X” style.Their new album is an embellishment of the vibe created on their debut album, and it stems from club music. Jamie Smith revealed, ”We’ve all come back off tour and been partying a bit more. We left when we were 17 and we missed out on that chunk of our lives when everyone else was partying. Club music has definitely had an influence on the next record.” After listening to Coexist, I think that maybe that statement is more of a generality as the album retains a soft vibe throughout. The production is in regular “XX” fashion, but you can hear subtle tone qualities and mixing techniques that have been pulled from the club scene. Take a listen to the leading single, “Angels.”
Many fans have considered the album to be a retract from the work that The XX did on their debut, but others feel differently, relating with the late-night vibe of the album. ”Angels” definitely shows off that somber feel that many of their fans are hearing, but the passion in that song is strong for sure. Also, the repeating lyric “being as in love with you as I am” is something you’ll probably hear in a new upcoming club remix. Other songs allow listeners to hear various club themes more in the music. ”Chained” contains rhythms and production work that generates more of an upbeat vibe for those car rides home after a night out. Listen to it here:
Coexist is a great second album for The XX. During the week prior to it’s release, in a collaboration with Internet Explorer, the xx released the entire Coexist album to stream on the website, http://coexist.thexx.info/, until it dropped on Sept. 11, 2012. The location of the website, which contained a free preview stream of the album, was given to one single fan on Sept. 3. Millions of people viewed the site between the start of the experiment and the release date of the album, which concluded the experiment. The website now shows an amazing map of how the album was shared that week. As you can see from their videos and the way they promoted the album, the band is fairly imaginative and creative. The XX consists of Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim, and Jamie Smith who all met at Elliott School in London. It’s only been a few years since they formed, and now have received global attention for their unique music. If you liked what you heard in these couple songs, be sure to check out the rest by clicking on the album art below!
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC