I always liked hearing Antony and the Johnsons when they came up on KEXP, but I never felt compelled to listen to their music outside of those select, serendipitous moments. In 2016, the band’s lead singer Antony Hegarty, otherwise known as Anohni, released her first solo album, Hopelessness. Where Antony and the Johnsons were good, this album is great. Anohni’s voice is a Björk 45 slowed down to 33 RPM, and the music is a mash of electronic, analog, and otherworldly. Get on it.
Not only did Chance the Rapper create an amazing album last year (it’s called Coloring Book, and I recommend you go find it and listen to it right now), but he also won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2016. And I didn’t hear the album until January of this year. Whomp whomp.
This is the first new Fleet Foxes music in six years. I’m not usually one to put lyric videos on the Bacon Review, but this being the Fleet Foxes, I’m making an exception. The song above, at nearly nine minutes long, is a bit rambling. But given I’d thought we’d heard the last of Robin Pecknold and crew, I don’t care. Their new album, Crack Up, comes out June 16 on Nonesuch.
Another day, another new Radiohead video. This, along with the song/video they released on Wednesday, will be on the band’s unnamed 2016 album, to be released digitally at 11am Pacific Daylight Time this Sunday, May 8.
The above video was directed by famed director P. T. Anderson, who has created many fantastic movies over the years, including Boogie Nights and Magnolia. Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood has a long working history with Anderson, having written the soundtracks to many of his films, including the oscar-nominated There Will Be Blood as well as his most recent movie, Inherent Vice. Additionally, Anderson directed the documentary about Greenwood’s fantastic side project Junun last year.
I’m totally biased here, but I absolutely love these two new Radiohead songs, and I am so very excited to hear the rest of the album.
When an artist I’ve had a decades-long affinity for releases something that surprises me in its newness, I’m in heaven. As it was for me today with “Left Hand Kisses,” a dueling duet sung between the eccentric violinist Andrew Bird and the equally eccentric Fiona Apple.
I haven’t fallen so hard for a song in a very long time, and I’m damn near ready to declare this to be Bird’s best song ever. I do realize how foolish that sounds, having only heard it for the first time today. The song is from Bird’s ninth studio album, Are You Serious, to be released on this upcoming April Fool’s Day.
It‘s not the beautiful counterpoint that Apple brings to the song that bowled me over, but that certainly doesn’t hurt (especially considering her own own masterpiece was my #1 album of the year in 2012). It’s the structure of the song, the battle between the two, the laissez faire way in which Bird sings “now you got me writing love songs with a common refrain like this one here, baaaaaaaaaaby.” It hits me, just so.
Bird will be playing the Showbox at the Market in May, which is absolutely tiny venue for such a gigantic talent. Will I see you there?
No, Neko Case doesn’t have a new album coming out (BOOOOOOO!). But what she does have is a new vinyl box set called Truckdriver, Gladiator, Mule, which places all of her albums in one gorgeous 180-gram collection. So instead of a new song to promote the set, we get a great video for “Man,” from her lovely 2013 album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, which was #5 in the Bacon Top 31.
Love the Neko. Buy all of the things.
On Friday, David Bowie turned 69 and released his 26th album, Blackstar, to critical acclaim. By the end of the day on Sunday, he was dead, having succumbed to an 18-month battle with cancer.
I love David Bowie, and his music will be with me forever, changing, growing, shedding light in otherwise dark corners. He will be sorely missed.
The awesome video above is for the exceedingly honest song “Lazarus” from the new album. In it, he’s all but literally telling us he’s dying:
Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now
Look up here, man, I’m in danger
I’ve got nothing left to lose
I’m so high it makes my brain whirl
Dropped my cell phone down below
Ain’t that just like me
By the time I got to New York
I was living like a king
Then I used up all my money
I was looking for your ass
This way or no way
You know, I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now ain’t that just like me
Oh I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Oh I’ll be free
Ain’t that just like me
And now he’s free.
Remember that feeling when you played Yeasayer’s awesome 2010 album Odd Blood for the first time, and the opening track “The Children” was so off-putting you wanted to stop the music and throw your headphones out the window?
Prepare yourself. Yeasayer have a new album coming out. Amen & Goodbye, due April 1.
The song in the video above, “I Am Chemistry,” isn’t amazing (yet) but it’s certainly classic Yeasayer. But the video itself is… a sight to behold. Watch it. And don’t give up on it. Wait at least until the dance break around the 2 minute mark. It was directed by a group called New Media Ltd, and I can’t find anything else about the group, but the stop-motion figures are all based on the creepy artwork for the new album, created by sculptor David Altmejd. You can see a few tastes of the artwork on Yeasayer’s website, where they have a handful of teaser videos. Enjoy (?).
Early January tends to be a month of regret for me, as it’s when I discover all the albums I missed from the previous year that I should have included on the Top 31. Here’s the first one: San Fermin’s Jackrabbit. This is the Brooklyn-based band’s second album, but it’s the first one I’ve heard. Based on the strength of the title song alone, I’ll be checking out their debut album from 2013 very soon.
Listen above, and I’m sure you’ll agree. And if you’re like me, you’ll turn around and buy tickets to their upcoming show at Neumos on March 29. They’ll be playing with Esme Patterson, who you may remember from such albums as Shakey Grave’s And the War Came, which was my #5 album in 2014.
It‘s been nearly three years since Daughter released their phenomenal album If You Leave (my #11 in 2013). Their new album, Not To Disappear, won’t come out until January 15, 2016, but you can get a little taste of it via the beautiful video above. The video does a good job of conveying the feeling that comes from listening to this melancholy band. I couldn’t be more excited for the new album to come out.
It began yesterday, with a strange Instagram post by Decemberists’ lead singer, Colin Meloy, an animation that featured what appeared to be a religious revival of sorts, with Meloy as the lead evangelist. Underneath, the caption read:
"YOU" ARE ETERNAL CALL 971-23-ALIVE
So this morning, when I came across the post, and without any other information, I called the number. The recording on the other end began with a small clip from the song “Cavalry Captain,” from the band’s 2015 release What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, and then the voice of Meloy posing as “CM,” an evangelist with a message of love and finding your place in the universe. At the end of the recording, the listener was told to “to leave their most ardent wishes” after the tone.
Then later in the morning came the email from the Decemberists’ mailing list, with the same text as was spoken by Meloy in the phone recording. All of this seemed like a strangely timed release of even stranger material, promoting a record that’s already quite a few months old. But then I found the hook, in the caption for the video above, which reads:
We are all Decemberists. Please join us. Call 971-23-ALIVE to find your place in the universe. #Decemberism New EP 'Florasongs' available now.
So there you have it. A bizarre, excessive marketing push for a new EP from your favorite baroque pop band out of Portland, OR. Hop to it.
Nobody does tongue-in-cheek snark quite like Josh Tillman. It starts with his stage name, Father John Misty, which everyone can agree is so ridiculous it’s funny. His live show is 100% camp, strutting around the stage like an over-acted lounge singer, full of swoon-inducing goading and exaggerated emotion. And then there’s his songs. Musically, they’re fairly straightforward indie-folk-rock standards. But once you start hearing the lyrics, the snark comes out. He has a general hatred for anything and everything around him. He doesn’t pull any punches, and that’s a lot of the reason why I like him so much.
For instance, yesterday, with Ryan Adams’s attention-grabbing release of his cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989, Tillman took Adams to task, releasing a couple of covers of Taylor Swift himself, billed as covers of Ryan Adams’s covers, but resembling nothing of the Ryan Adams versions, and everything of what it would sound like if Lou Reed had covered Taylor Swift. Confused yet? You can listen here, even though Tillman himself has removed his covers from where he originally posted them.
Now that you‘ve got the back story, listen to the song above, “The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment,” from Tillman’s February 2015 album I Love You, Honeybear. The album is pretty great all around, as good as 2012’s Fear Fun. The lyrices of this song are particularly snarky, and my favorite line on the entire album comes 30 seconds into the song, when Tillman sings
She says, like literally, music is the air she breathes
And the malaprops make me want to fucking scream
I wonder if she even knows what that word means
Well, it's literally not that
The of the song is full of gems just like that. Give it a listen, then buy the album. You won’t regret it.
My love of electronic music has waned since its heyday in the mid-90s (back when we called it “techno”), but there are a few acts from that time that still get me excited when they release a new album. The Chemical Brothers are one such act, and they’ve just released their eigth studio album, Born in the Echoes.
I’m only just now listening to it for the first time, but if the rest of the album is as good as “Go” (don’t judge a song by its video), then it’s definitely going to be one of the year’s best. In addition to Q-Tip (from A Tribe Called Quest), Beck and Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) make notable appearances on the album.
In the 90s (when I was a poor college student) I would have had to wait until I found this album in the used-CD bins at the local record shop, to which every trip meant leaving with a stack of new music in my hot little hands. Nowadays the equivalent is a flurry of album purchases on a single day, monthly or so. It’s not the same, and I long for the days of rifling through the used sections, but who has room or need for all that plastic? Not me. But a new Chemical Brothers album? Hell yes.
I’ve already watched this video from Japan’s Ladybaby three times, and I’m destined to go a few more times before burning out on it. It’s bizarre, unexpected, and compelling.
Ladybaby is apparently a project started by the man in the group, known as Lady Beard. In his former life, Lady Beard was a professional wrestler in Australia, but has been living and performing in Japan for the last two years. This is the only song by Ladybaby to date, but the single for “Japan Manju” comes out July 29 and will be backed by another song, “ULTRA ☆ LUCKY.” No idea where it will go from here.
Here’s a brand new video from my #1 album of 2014, Mended With Gold from The Rural Alberta Advantage. This band can really do no wrong, and this video is no different. Young interracial love is captured in a dream-like bedroom while the band performs off to the side. A great song, an interesting video, from one of my favorite bands. Enjoy!
When Blur released their fantastic first album, Leisure, I was 17, and I was addicted to MTV’s alternative-music video show 120 Minutes (they brought it back! Who knew?) (incidentally: HOLY CRAP). I would record the show every week and devour it throughout the week until the next episode came out. Blur’s first hits, “She’s So High” and “There’s No Other Way,” hooked me instantly, and I’ve been a fan of the band ever since.
They’ve had their ups and downs. I’ve always kept an ear on lead singer Damon Albarn’s many side projects. But it’s been a long time since Blur has released any new music, and even longer since they produced anything that was worth repeated listening.
I’m happy to report their first album in 12 years, The Magic Whip, is exactly that. It’s good. It’s classic Blur. While there isn’t a “Tender” (what is up with this “official video” version of the song — blech), “Girls & Boys,” or “Song 2,” this album is solid from start to finish. Give it a few listens before moving on — I assure you it will hook you, too.
I had not done my homework, and came into the set totally unprepared for the onslaught I experienced. Barnett, from Melbourne, Australia, is an absolute joy to watch perform, playing her left-handed guitar (labeled “when i was an alien”) without a pick. She wore her guitar with the strap hung around her neck like a necklace, allowing the guitar more freedom to move about.
I’ve been listening to Barnett’s recorded music for the last 12 hours, and the disparity heard between the live performance and the studio recordings is large. That’s not to say that either is bad or incorrect. On the contrary, they both stand out in their own ways. The recorded works would best be described as “singer/songwriter.” Not necessarily understated, but not rocking either. Liz Phair-style sparseness, with jangly guitar and garage-style drums allows Barnett’s doubled-up voice on the recordings to shine through.
Up to that point, the extent of her recorded music was a double EP. Her full-length debut, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, came out March 23. I just downloaded it, and I’m diving in. And thank you to Mr. Defective Yeti, Matthew Baldwin, for reminding me that I’m not an airline pilot or heart surgeon.
Believe it or not, Belle and Sebastian has been around for twenty years. The band formed in 1996 with neither a Belle nor a Sebastian in the band, which remains true to this day. That was the year they recorded and released their first two (beautiful) albums Tigermilk and If You’re Feeling Sinister. This past January, the band released their ninth studio album, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance.
I’ve been listening to this album for a couple months now and it’s really grown on me — the first Belle and Sebastian album to win me over in a very long time. It’s a departure from the late 90s / early oughts B&S albums I learned to love, but if you’ve liked more recent Belle and Sebastian, then this album will feel just right. A little more disco, a little more dancey, new Belle and Sebastian is more upbeat and exciting than the melancholy music you may have first heard from them nearly two decades ago.
The song above, “Nobody’s Empire,” isn’t the best song on the album, but it’s a good example of what you can expect. Plus, it’s fun to watch actress Tamzin Merchant lip sync to Stuart Murdoch’s lyrics. Definitely check out the rest of the album. It’s worth it. And if you’re able, get tickets to see them at the Paramount tonight. It‘s going to be great.