This Week’s Playlist
The Best of 2019 Playlist keeps on going (and is updated regularly).
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This Week’s Releases
Billie Eilish “everything i wanted”
Billie Eilish was due to release something new. The days of an artist releasing an album and then waiting a year or two to drop something else are long gone. We’re living in the future, kid. Artists drop new music all the time these days.
Eilish’s breakthrough album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, came out all the way back in March and in these fast-paced times that we live in, that seems like a lifetime ago. Eilish is still riding on the success of “bad guy” but now does seem like a good time to give the people something new.
The new track, which Eilish put together with her frequent collaborator and brother Finneas, has traces of “bad guy” to it but more aligns itself with more of the sparse and reflective tunes that the young singer has done.
Presumably the song is a product of the song-writing sessions Eilish and Finneas have been participating in recently, as Eilish told Zane Lowe last month that the two were “deep into the creative process on new material for sure.”
Eilish kicks off a world tour in March.
DJ Shadow Our Pathetic Age
DJ Shadow has been at it for a while now and throughout this career, he’s routinely demonstrated an ability to spin grooves that bounce and jams that you can zone out to. On top of that, he can dish out dope instrumentals as well as produce beats that come alive when he teams up with the likes of Run the Jewels or De La Soul.
On his new album, Our Pathetic Age, DJ Shadow doesn’t bother picking between the two sides of his career and instead, divides them into two parts. The first half of the album is comprised of instrumentals like “Rosie,” which he released back in September.
In the second half of the album, he brings in the ringers. Guests include Run the Jewels, Nas, De La Soul, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, Gift of Gab, Lateef the Truth Speaker and more.
What’s consistent throughout both parts of the album is a theme, one that touches on the way people communicate or how they respond to communication.
“The subtle signals that humans send each other, the way people behave, their frustrations and ebbs and flows,” Shadow said in a statement. “In my part of the world, people are scared. There’s rampant homelessness and a real fear of falling into generational poverty. People are addicted to, and addled by distraction; they’re angry and confused, and disaffected by their own governmental institutions. There’s songs that are inspired by this energy and seek to harness it, to make sense of it.”
Don’t worry though. If you think that means that lyrically and thematically, the album is going to be a buzzkill, you’d be mistaken.
“Despite the title, it’s a hopeful, vibrant album…there is always light in darkness. I want it to reflect the times we live in, a signpost in the ground to mark the era…Our Pathetic Age.”
When you’re ready, we can move on.
Chadwick Stokes & The Pintos Self-Titled
Chadwick Stokes or Chad Stokes depending on who you talk to first came crashing into our lives via Dispatch, who amazingly enough got popular at the turn of the century. I don’t want to date myself here, but I definitely first heard “The General” via Napster. Sometime when I get a chance, I’ll tell you a funny story that involves Napster, my friend Joe and Joe all but destroying his computer. Might save that one for a slow week.
But back to Stokes.
Dispatch has had an interesting career. They broke out around the turn of the century but then called it quits in 2004. To mark the end of the road for them, they performed a show in Boston that was expected to draw 20,000 to 30,000 people but ended up drawing over 100,000. They briefly reunited in 2007 for a benefit concert and then embarked on a reunion tour in 2011. They’ve been back together sporadically ever since.
During that first break-up phase, Stokes formed State Radio. They were like Dispatch, but just harder.
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The band released a handful of albums before Stokes pulled the plug on the band in 2013.
Throughout the run of both bands, Stokes had released and performed politically-driven acoustic tracks. He’s always been a fighter and his music has always had a protest vibe to it. That vibe is strong in his latest project. Stokes and company tackle everything from PTSD to women’s equality, immigration to gun violence on the new album.
In a statement, Stokes was clear with his intentions for the new album, saying that “we’re living in a crazy time, a very upsetting time. If we’re not protesting, there’s a problem.”
Stokes and the Pintos are on tour this winter.
Brass Against Brass Against II
When Brass Against started out, they could have easily been dismissed as a novelty or passing fad. They were a brass band who played Rage Against the Machine covers. Awesome.
But then they kept going.
They released a new song via YouTube about once a month and started broadening their horizons, playing brass-heavy, funked-up versions of tracks by Living Colour, Pantera, Tool, Audioslave, Black Sabbath and Run the Jewels. The band rotated fierce singers like a baseball team with stacked pitching staff and in 2018, released their first album consisting of songs they had previously released mixed in with a few new ones.
Now the band, fresh off of a few tours of Europe and shows in the U.S. outside of their friendly confines of New York City have released Brass Against II.
Whereas their first release was Rage-heavy, this new collection features their takes on the other bands they’ve incorporated into the mix, most notably Tool. The new album features two Tool songs, which is impressive seeing as how any band covering Tool has their work cut out for them, let alone one consisting mostly of brass instruments.
“‘The Pot’ was the first Tool song we went for and I was so damn nervous,” Brad Hammonds, the band’s guitarist, said in an email. “Tool is my favorite band and I knew we would have to really do it justice. It really exceeded my expectations- Sophia (Urista) just nailed it and Andy Gutauskas (baritone sax, musical director) really stretched the arrangement!”
The band plays a few shows in the states this winter before heading to Australia and back to Europe. Hammonds says the band is also currently in the studio, working on some of their own songs.
Local Natives “Nova”
Local Natives have always been a band that’s a little tough to pin down. I mean, what would you call their style of music? How would you describe what the band sounds like to a friend?
Uh, their early stuff was super percussive and full of harmonies and on their last album or two, they’ve toned down the percussion a bit, but are still full of harmonies.
I don’t know even know what that tells you.
I would just go with my dudes, Local Natives are really good and leave it at that.
On Friday they released “Nova,” a song that was slated to be on their most recent album, Violet Street but was an eleventh-hour cut. The song is predictably good and interesting and soothing.
But here’s where it gets interesting because apparently the song was inspired the Christopher Nolan film Interstellar and the Playboi Carti song “Location.”
“It’s about the haze that surrounds you when you first fall in love, the all consuming fantasy of it,” the band wrote in a press release. “The recording was a prime example of the wild processes we undertook with our producer Shawn Everett. Like a mad scientist, Shawn spliced together moments of us jamming live as a full band inside his warehouse and the sound of smashing beer bottles into a trashcan. We edited all of it to sync up with the scene in Interstellar where Matthew McConaughey goes inside a black hole. With that scene being too long, we ultimately edited it to sync up with Playboi Carti’s music video for “Location.””
Yeah, sure. Why the hell not?
…And You Know Us By the Trail of Dead “Don’t Look Down”
So here I go dating myself again, but back in about 1999 or so, I was taking a photography class and one day, my professor and I were talking about music and he asked me if I had heard of this band …And You Know Us By the Trail of Dead.
No sir, I hadn’t. I was more of a Phish guy at the time and they didn’t seem like something a Phish guy would like.
Either way, I was definitely down with the band’s name because it’s an awesome name. Just fantastic. And while I never really listened to them all that much, I never forgot about their name. How could you? It’s one of the most interesting band names ever.
Unbeknownst to be me, the band has kept on going since that day in 1999 and earlier this week released the first song from their new album, X: The Godless Void and Other Stories. It’s their first new album in six years and comes as the band is set to celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2020.
Here at The New Music Round-Up, we are big, big fans of both super cool nicknames and anniversaries. Talk about a twofer, huh?
Marcus King “The Well”
Shit man, how old is Marcus King?
He’s ONLY 23???
You could have told me he was 16 or you could have told me he was like, well, 23. However old he may or may not be, dude sounds like he’s much, much older than that. He sounds older both singing and playing guitar. It’s that blues vibe he has. He sounds weathered as if he’s been around the block once or twice and while you can definitely have been around the block once or twice by the age of 23, it takes work to get around as much as he sounds like he has.
I guess it’s also somewhat surprising that King is only 23 because it feels as if he’s been around for a few years.
Oh well, it could just be that I’m getting old and vengeful. Very likely.
King is releasing his debut solo album, El Dorado, in January and earlier this week he released the first single from the album, “The Well.” The album was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys who says that “Marcus is known by so many as a phenom guitar player, and rightfully so. He’s regularly the best player in the room, hands down.”
But Auerbach was equally amazed by King’s singing, saying that it’s “so effortless, so soulful, straight from the heart.”
El Dorado comes out on January 17.
Elsewhere in Music…
Should You Care That The Black Crowes Are Back?
The short answer?
The long answer?
I guess it depends. It depends on whether or not you liked that back in the day when they were at the peak of their powers. If that’s the case, then you definitely should.
Earlier this week, the band announced that after six years apart they were getting back together. Or more specifically, Rich and Chris Robinson were getting back together and bringing along some random dudes to fill out the rest of the lineup as the rest of the original Crowes were sitting this one out for one reason or another.
The band will hit the road next summer to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their breakthrough album, Shake Your Money Maker, which was released back in 1990.
Shortly after announcing the reunion and tour, the band played the Bowery Ballroom in New York where they played Money Maker as well as a handful of other tunes.
So in conclusion, the Black Crowes were a rock-solid rock band back in the day and will probably sound pretty damn close to that when they tour next summer. If that’s your thing, giddy-up. If not, Harry Styles is going on tour.
Concert Security Guards Are Human Too
The Taylor Swift Back Catalog Saga Continues
First off, some background.
Earlier this year, word came out that Taylor Swift was being kept away from her past recordings, specifically music she recorded while signed to Big Machine Label Group. Big Machine was recently acquired by Scooter Braun, the manager for Justin Bieber and others, and were allegedly blocked Swift from licensing her old songs among other things.
Swift countered, saying she was going to re-record everything, re-release everything and ha, jokes on your dicks.
But then that plan kind of went bust and for a few weeks, things had been relatively quiet.
On Thursday night, Swift took to Twitter to once again bring up the Big Machine dispute, saying that most recently, they were blocking her from performing her old materials at the American Music Awards, where she was going to be presented with Artist of the Decade.
In the tweet, Swift said that Braun and Big Machine weren’t allowing her to use old songs at the award show, as well as in an upcoming Netflix documentary unless she ditched her plans to re-record her catalog next year.
In other words, Swift said, “the message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”
On Friday morning, Braun and Big Machine responded, saying that “the narrative you (Swift) have created does not exist.” They went on to say that Swift has admitted to owing them money and that both sides had been committed to working things behind the scenes.
Suckers. Taylor Swift doesn’t do “behind the scenes.”
Obviously, when it comes to deals artists make with labels, especially early in their careers, it can be dicey and it seems as if this one is no different. What is different though, is that this dust-up feels a little petty and once pettiness is in the mix, all bets are off.
This Week’s Podcast Recommendation
Broken Record, a music podcast co-hosted by Malcolm Gladwell and Rick Rubin, is currently in the middle of their third season and has proven to be an interesting and enlightening podcast, especially for music nerds. Gladwell and Rubin get into the weeds with their guests and the results are great.
On their most recent episode, Rubin sits down with The Back Keys for a conversation that covers the band’s start, the recording of their latest album, touring and more.
If that doesn’t good to you, there’s a new Billy the Kid podcast that’s pretty sweet.
And Now, Lil Nas X With His Thoughts on Children’s Books
This Week in Hey, Thanks YouTube
And We’ll End Here
See you next week!