New Music Round-Up 2/1/19: Cage the Elephant, Big Boi, Karen O, Deer Tick, Interpol & more
Welcome to the BroBible New Music Round-Up, where we see what new music has been released this week and continue to throw boiling hot water in the air, regardless of what the temperature might be. For updates, follow me on Twitter for more: @ryanoconnell79
For a glimpse into the not-so-distant future, check out our rundown of some of the music releases we are most looking forward to in 2019.
Cage the Elephant “Ready to Let Go”
The may have a weird, if not slightly controversial name, especially if you’re an animal rights person, but moving past that, Cage the Elephant are a solid rock band and have been since they first entered our lives back in 2009. And if you have read this column before, than you know how I feel about the state of rock music and because of that, my feelings about the importance of young rock bands. TL;DR: Rock music = struggle city, pls send help. I’m not saying the Cage the Elephant are or need to be saviors or anything, but rock music is in an “any port in the storm” situation these days, so any help is appreciated.
This new song, “Ready to Let Go,” is the first single off of their upcoming album, Social Cues, which is set to be released in April. It’s their first new studio album since 2015’s Tell Me I’m Pretty, which won a Grammy. The band released a live album, Unpeeled, in 2017. Yet during that time period, one that included recording the new album, the band’s singer, Matt Shultz, found himself going through a pretty legit rough patch as his marriage was unraveling and eventually ending.
“There were times like that,” Brad Shultz, Matt’s brother and Cage’s guitarist recently told Rolling Stone. “We’d think he was getting back to normal, then he would melt down.”
Shultz tried to channel his emotions and frustrations into the album, saying that he “explored the hidden recesses of his psyche, creating characters to tell different parts of his personal story,” which is impressive because I once had a relationship fall apart and I explored the hidden recesses of ice cream and weed. I guess some of us are just wired differently.
Social Cues features a guest spot by Beck and was produced by John Hill, who has worked with Portugal. The Man and Florence and the Machine.
Deer Tick Mayonnaise
Deer Tick’s new album is (checks notes) a collection of covers.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. A collection of covers? My dudes, that is so last week.
But wait, Deer Tick’s latest album isn’t just covers and furthermore, the covers that are there are random covers. The band covers songs by The Pogues, some dude named George Harrison, Ben Vaughn and Velvet Underground. So it’s a little different. The album is also comprised of outtakes, presumably from sessions while recording their 2017 releases Deer Tick Vol. 1 and Deer Tick Vol. 2.
The band’s first single from the album is “Bluesboy” and the accompanying video has an interesting twist to it, in that it was filmed at a basement show in Providence, Rhode Island and includes fan-shot footage. Deer Tick head out on tour later this year.
Karen O “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”
If we’re going to talk about cover songs, then let’s add one more to the conversation: Karen O’s take on “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” by the Smashing Pumpkins. The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s singers version appears on the soundtrack to “Hanna,” a new Amazon series.
Karen O’s song retains the sense of menace that the original had, but is more robotic than the original. If the song ultimately feels like a call to action for some sort of uprising, Karen O’s is calling on the machines to eventually take over the world (because let’s be honest, that’s going to happen at some point,) whereas the Pumpkins’ version feels like the soundtrack to a working class revolt. If you haven’t listened to the original, it’s worth going back to it. If nothing else, the song folds up and is still as fierce as ever.
“Hanna,” which is based on a 2011 Saoirse Ronan film, premieres on February 3rd.
The Specials Encore
If, like I did back in the day, you went through or flirted with any kind of ska phase, then you’re hip to the Specials. The band are icons in the ska scene. Or were icons in the ska scene? The tense gets a little tricky here because while they are technically still a band, they’ve reached that point in their run where all that’s left in the current lineup are a couple of the band’s original members, thus opening themselves up to questions about whether or not they’re still actually The Specials or not. Say what you will about U2, but the band is still chugging along with all four original members. The Who on the other hand are still out their playing shows billed as The Who, despite half of the band’s original lineup having died. That’s certainly not their fault, but there should be some sort of rule out there when it comes to bands still claiming to be a band even though most of the people who made that band what they were are no longer involved. It’s complicated, I know. But it still feels kind of important.
I say let’s get this Russian interference in our elections thing figured out and then tackle this next.
Back to the Specials, the ska gods have released a new album, Encore. The new album features a Specials’ lineup that consists of just three of the group’s original members: Terry Hall (vocals,) Lynval Goldberg (guitar, vocals) and Horace Panter (bass.) Notably absent is Jerry Dammers, “the architect of the Specials and the 2-Tone movement,” according to The Guardian and your friend who is still into ska. Dammers allegedly tried to prevent the band from doing anything under The Specials moniker, but apparently those efforts were unsuccessful.
Encore does enough to remind you of who The Specials once were and if you were a fan or maybe still are, is capable of drawing you back in, if only momentarily. They dabble with new sounds and provide hints of a future for this new incarnation of the band, which let’s be honest, may or may not be something you’re really looking for. Sounds like a you question if you ask me.
Big Boi feat. Sleepy Brown “Doin It”
Yes, Maroon 5 and Travis Scott are performing during halftime of Sunday’s Super Bowl, but so is Big Boi, something that has kind of skated under the radar. The Atlanta native and Outkast alum has managed to dodge the scrutiny leveled at his fellow halftime performers, which is kind of interesting, but also not interesting because really, who gives a shit? At least someone from Atlanta is performing. It’s literally the least the NFL can do.
If there were any questions about Big Boi’s appearance it was if it would lead to any new material from the rapper and owl-enthusiast. Ha, of course there is! We’re morons.
Big Boi has dropped two new tracks, one featuring his longtime collaborator Sleepy Brown and another featuring Killer Mike of Run the Jewels and Backbone. You’d be smart to study them now so that when he most likely performs them on Sunday, you’re ready. Or you can continue to hold out hope that he brings Andre 3000 with him and we get the Outkast reunion performance we are all hoping for.
Interpol “Fine Mess”
Interpol have released “Fine Mess,” their first new music since their 2018 album Marauder. If you were wondering, yes, yes it sounds like Interpol, and if that’s something you’re into, you’re in luck. I like that Interpol doesn’t really sound like anyone else. We need more bands like that out there.
Interpol kicks off a world tour this weekend out in the Pacific Northwest. The tour has them doing stops at Lollapalooza in both Brazil and Argentina, as well as the NOS Primavera Sound Festival in Portugal.
Theophilus London feat. Tame Impala “Whiplash”
Back in October, London and Kevin Parker of Tame Impala told Virgil Abdoh’s Beats 1 Radio show that not only were they collaborating pretty regularly, but if you were so inclined, you could call the collaboration Theo Impala, which definitely sounds like a name a celebrity would use when checking into a hotel. The duo’s first release was a cover of “Only You” by Steve Monite, a track from 1984 which couldn’t sound anymore 1984ish if it tried. The cover is faithful to that specific vibe, which is something that we here at the New Music Round-Up very much appreciate.
Their latest release, “Whiplash,” also has an 80’s vibe to it, but also more of a traditional hip hop one to it as well. The track originally appeared during a live show in 2016.
Tame Impala recently announced dates for a summer tour and are rumored to have a new album coming out sometime this year. It would be their first since Currents came out in 2015. That album featured the track “The Less I Know The Better,” also known as “The More I Hear The More I Can’t Get It Out of My Head and I’m Okay With That.”
Happy Anniversary to Green Day’s Dookie
Today marks the 25th anniversary of Green Day’s breakout album Dookie and that sound you hear is me painfully realizing I’m old. The album, which featured “Longview,” “Basket Case,” “When I Come Around” and “Welcome to Paradise” was in many ways, as ground-breaking and seminal as Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and if you would beg to differ, then I’ll just assume you are either young or forgetful. Dookie straight up dominated MTV and radio airwaves for at least a year or so and spawned just as many pop punk imitators as Nirvana spawned grunge rock lookalikes. Green Day was also a breath of fresh air after two years of morbid, kicking rocks grunge, which was great, but a little bit of a downer after a while.
Dookie was loud, fast, raring to go and all pretenses aside, a fucking blast to play loud.
There are two things that would fall under crazy when looking at Green Day’s legacy. The first is just how well Dookie holds up 25 years later. The second would be that in their career, the band had not one, but two points where they were the biggest band in the world, with the second coming in 2004 when they released their rock opera American Idiot. Most bands would kill to have one such moment, but Green Day had two. And those moments weren’t in succession either. Dookie happened, they got huge. They then started to fade in popularity as the 90’s went on before all but disappearing at the turn of the century. Then they came back when American Idiot came out and just like that, they were huge again. Subsequently a familiar trend happened, as their popularity started to wain again as the decade went on. Do they have a third such moment in them? Doubtful. But we can’t sleep on the fact that they had two. That’s impressive.
For a trip down Green Day memory lane, check out this ranking of all of their albums. And if you’re interested, here’s a playlist of my favorite Green Day songs.
And Now, A Quick Word About Maroon 5…
As previously mentioned, Maroon 5 is playing at halftime of this year’s Super Bowl. It was a booking that was an anti-climactic, head scratcher when it was made and continues to be so today. If, when it was announced, your reaction was Really, that’s who they got? then you’re not alone. You have friends. Plenty of them.
Now while Maroon 5’s past decade or so of making music has been questionable at best and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who would tell you that they are their favorite band, I just would like to point out that their debut album, Songs About Jane, was really good. Now it sounds like an album by another band, but either way, it was a solid pop rock album that called to mind Hall & Oates, among others.
I just wanted to get that out.
Thank you for your time.
Look Out, David Crosby’s Got Jokes!
This Week in It’s Funny Because It’s True
And Let’s Just End Here
If you’re into this kind of thing, here is a moderately comprehensive breakdown of the various eras the Super Bowl Halftime Show has gone through.