2015 December

Milani’s Best Albums of 2015

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While I still have a TON of music to catch-up with that was released this year, I thought I’d share as of today what my favorite albums were from 2015 (in no particular order):

Sleater-Kinney “No Cities To Love” – First album after a 10 year break may be their best – awesome return by an underrated band

Alabama Shakes “Sound & Color” – Second half fades a little but first five songs are so awesome it doesn’t matter – big unexpected step up from their debut release

Blur “The Magic Whip” – Great “reunion” album after a 12 year break, a Britpop album with a lot of variety throughout the 12 tracks

High on Fire “Luminiferous” – Matt Pike plays with a mission and vengeance throughout this album which is one of their best from what was an already impressive catalog

Kadavar “Berlin” –This German trio made some tweaks to their sound and have written some of the best hard rock songs I’ve heard this year and for the past several years

Black Breath “Slaves Beyond Death” –This band continues to grow and evolve with each release and their 3rd album is a monster – who knows where their potential may take them?

Deafheaven “New Bermuda” – The third album is a charm once again as this “new” black metal/shoegaze band have crafted maybe my favorite record of the year – absolutely beautiful and devastating songs

Grimes “Art Angels” – I cannot begin to express how impressed I am by Claire Boucher’s latest album – tremendously talented woman doing everything on her own, writing, playing and producing every sound

Baroness “Purple” – Just released today and I haven’t listened to the whole album yet, but I can’t imagine it not being one of my favorites this year

Black Fast “Terms of Surrender” – I had never heard of this St. Louis thrash band before this album (their second), but I keep coming back to it so they’re doing something right with this release

Honorable Mention (either I haven’t heard these enough yet or they just didn’t crack the top 10):

Trials “This Ruined World”

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Horrendous “Anareta”

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Kylesa “Exhausting Fire”

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Clutch “Psychic Warfare”

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Dead Sara “Pleasure to Meet You”

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Houndmouth “Little Neon Limelight”

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Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp A Butterfly”

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Happy holidays to everyone and looking forward to a great year of music in 2016!

Will Smith Confirms Tour with DJ Jazzy Jeff

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Actor Will Smith just announced that he is going on tour with DJ Jazzy Jeff. In an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show recently, he was promoting his new movie “Concussion.” During the appearance, Ellen asked Smith about his professional relationship with DJ Jazzy Jeff and if he would ever go on tour with him. Smith said he does plan on doing a full tour with the musician. Ellen asked Smith which dates he would be appearing live with Jeff, since many of his fans are likely going to go to a live performance just to see Smith back on the music scene after almost 30 years. Smith just reiterated that he and Jeff would definitely be going on tour together, but he didn’t talk about any specific dates. He also mentioned how he never got to go on a live tour with Jeff early on in his career because he was just starting to appear on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” when his music was getting popular. As most people know, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air became a huge success on television that lasted from 1990 to 1996. Due to this success, it set back the possibilities of Smith doing live tours with Jeff because the shooting schedule for the television series was hectic. For this reason, he didn’t have time to travel around the country, or the world, doing a music tour.
Will Smith’s career first took off after releasing the song “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble” in 1986, which was also done with Jeff. This gave Smith national attention and eventually led him to having some acting gigs. Besides his success on “Fresh Prince,” he also gave notable performances in “Men in Black,” “Ali,” and “Independence Day.” Now after almost 30 years of being a successful Hollywood actor, Smith is finally ready to go out with Jeff and do a full tour with him. Ellen asked Smith if he would be introducing any new music on the live tour or if it would be a rehash of his older music. Smith acknowledged that he keeps a stash of newer music lying around, so he might surprise fans with it if they come to see him. That way it will keep the performance interesting for older fans of his from the 80s and newer fans that have just learned about his musical work and want to hear newer songs from him.

Music Streaming Service Grooveshark Shuts Down

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The music streaming service known as “Grooveshark” is finally shutting down after ten years of service. A letter on their homepage last month announced the termination of the company. Grooveshark was most famously known for being a music streaming service, but they apparently failed to secure the proper licenses with a number of music producers and record companies that owned the rights to the music. Grooveshark claims their intentions were good because they wanted to help fans discover and share music with each other. But due to these legal issues regarding licenses and a settlement that was made with the recording companies, Grooveshark had no choice but to shut down completely.
Many people have misconceptions about music streaming by thinking it must be illegal or unauthorized by the record companies. The truth is that music streaming is perfectly legal as long as you get authorization from the record companies to stream their music. This entails purchasing a license from the company to legally stream their music. The company ends up getting a percentage of the earnings generated from their music streams and the music service provider ends up getting the rest. Some examples of music streaming services that are legally operating are Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Prime Music, Apple’s Beats Music and Deezer.
Grooveshark gained attention because they allowed people to just upload music files to their website. These music files were not screened for copyrights or anything. Grovoeshark basically became a file sharing website where people could just share their music files with each other. The problem with any kind of file sharing service is that illegal activity runs rampant. If somebody uploads a file that is copyrighted and illegal to reproduce, that person is committing a crime. Also the people who download the music are committing a crime as well. On top of that, the file sharing service provider will get in the most trouble for permitting this behavior. That is why authorized music streaming sites, like Google Play, put new artists that submit their music files under very strict agreements. You are only allowed to upload files to Google Play that you own the rights to. It is not a file sharing site where you can just distribute any random file to other people. Each file you upload is screened and the submitter is forced to contractual agree that they hold the rights to it. Unfortunately, this was not the business model that Grooveshark lived by which is why they were forced out of business.

New band of the week: White (No 54)

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TheGuardian.com has ranked the band “White” as the band of the week. The young band performed at the Great Escape festival and was instantly a great hit. Their band consists of lead singer Leo Condie, guitar player Hamish Fingland, guitar player Chris Potter, bass player Lewis Andrew, and drum player Kirsten Lynn. White’s hit single, Future Pleasures, was their debut single as well. It makes allusions to great things of the past and present. You hear a thrilling guitar funk sound that dwells on the disco pop music of bands like Haircut 100 and Spandau Ballet. With all the familiarity in their music, it makes it one of the better debut singles to come from a Glaswegian band.
The members of White already have some experience with success. The lead singer, Leo Condie, previously recorded an album way back in 2009 with Malcolm Ross of the Low Miffs. The track was entitled “The Man Who Took on Love and Won.” The other members of White were previously in a band called “Kassidy,” which was apparently a band that flopped quickly. Some critics say the band members were just too young to take the band seriously. But now just a year ago, they all became part of White with Leo Condie and are finally experiencing success for the first time.
White is currently growing in popular with both music streaming online and live performances around the world. They have already coming out with a second single called “Living Fiction,” which is set to be released at the end of the summer. A lot of fans wonder why the band members chose the name “White.” Even though it may seem a bit provocative, it is a reflection of the color of each band member. White has not released any kind of mission statement or particular direction they plan on going. They just want to make people dance and think about their songs and music. It is their dream to work with producers like Stuart Price and Brian Eno. In the meantime, they are trying to define their music the best they can. White keeps straddling between older-type music and more modern stuff. Music lovers of today have tastes for all kinds of music, whether it is the type that reminds them of the past or new age stuff. When you listen to them play it is like listening to a band from the 1980s that have modern day thoughts and ideas. We will definitely be seeing more of them in the future.

New Music: Ryan Adams

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A quick pre-holiday email this week…

Ryan Adams has been writing songs and playing in bands since he was 15 years old. His first band was a noisy, punk band, but he yearned to do something more melodic and he formed Whiskeytown when her was 20. Whiskeytown had great critical acclaim, but it was a tumultuous 5 year, 3 album run before they called it quits. Adams then went the solo route, with an alt-country sound and he earned immediate acclaim as well with his first solo album “Heartbreaker”. Adams has always been a prolific songwriter, he’s cranked out about 16 albums in 15 years as a solo artist. A year after his first album was released, he had written and recorded enough material for four albums. These 60 tracks were culled down to 13 for his second album “Demolition”. Adams continued to crank out albums over the years, and also starting working as a producer for other artists, including Fall Out Boy and Jenny Lewis.

This summer Adams announced he was recording and releasing a cover album of Taylor Swift’s “1989” (with her blessing). This album came out at the end of September. It’s an interesting experiment, pairing Swift the songwriter with Adams’ musicianship. He has an interesting take on her music, obviously with a different musical orientation. So I’m including a couple of his covers of big singles from Swift’s “1989”. If you’re intrigued, check out the entire album. Hopefully this endeavor nets Adams a few more fans who would have never listened to him otherwise.

“Blank Space” – Adams definitely takes on a melancholy sound on his take of “Blank Space”. I like his subdued approach and how he handles the chorus on this track. The sparse instrumentation, mostly his acoustic guitar, provide a very different backdrop than the original song.

“Style” – Adams brings everything up for this track, but with a different take than Swift’s. He does his own type of bombast, but it’s all guitars, bass and drums. He kind of sounds like another Adams on this track, Bryan Adams. I like what he did with this song though.

M.I.A. Teams With Surkin’s Gener8ion on “The New International Sound Pt. II”

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The talented young rapper M.I.A. has collaborated with French record producer “Surkin” on his Gener8ion project for “The New International Sound Pt. II.” The music is already available to listen to on PitchFork.com and other music media outlets. You can also find it on the new EP by Gener8ion entitled “Bromance.” It has an amazing tracklist with featured songs such as Walled City, Emotion Engine, Close To the Metal and The New International Sound Pt. II. Bromance already came out on June 15th of this year, so you should be able to purchase the full EP in any of the major online and offline music stores. The collaboration between M.I.A. and Surkin is expected to be a big one. Once their project for “The New International Sound Pt. II” takes off, there is no telling what new music the two will create together. If you would like to purchase their music then be sure to check out your favorite music streaming service, like iTunes, because it is expected to be huge there.
M.I.A., or Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, is an English recording artist whose heritage can be traced back to Sri Lanka. She was born and raised in the Greater London area. Not only is she a songwriter and performer, she is also a painter and director as well. The acronym of her name M.I.A. means Missing in Action. This is merely a play on her own name and does not reference any particular military theme. Her musical compositions are a brilliant combination of dance, hip hop, alternative, world music and electronic. She began her career as a designer, filmmaker and visual artist in the year 2000, while residing in West London. In 2002, she fell into a recording career that escalated quickly. Two years later she rose to fame after recording Galang and Sunshowers, which charted in the United Kingdom and Canada. M.I.A. later became nominated for an Academy Award, the Mercury Prize and Two Grammy Awards. In January of 2010, M.I.A. was ranked by Esquire Magazine on its list of 75 of the most influential people of the 21st century. This was quite an honor for her to achieve after singing professionally for less than 10 years. She even made the “Best of the Decade” list by the Rolling Stones and on the world’s 100 most influence people list by Time Magazine. M.I.A. has a bright future and it will be amazing to see where she goes in the next 10 years.

Listen to M.I.A.’s Globe-Trotting New Single ‘Border’

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The singer “M.IA.” is almost finished with her upcoming album entitled “Matahdatah,” but there is no scheduled release date as of yet. This has fans of M.I.A. anxious to hear about when it will be released. However, the singer did release a new single that should tide fans over until the full album comes out. The single is entitled “Border,” which just came out a week ago. The song will be interesting to fans because it discusses the singer’s recent world travels that she made while shooting her short movie entitled Matahdatah Scroll, or Broader than a Border. M.I.A. traveled to West India and Africa to shoot this film, so you can bet she will have a lot of exciting things to talk about.
Judging by the music that can be heard in “Border,” it sounds like M.I.A. might have picked up some new sounds while trotting around the globe. You can hear the sounds of subtle instruments, such as a shenai sounds bursting high in the background, and the standard booming beat from M.I.A. that carries the song in an entertaining way. Because of this, you can tell that M.I.A. has still retained the unique standout style in her performance that gained her notoriety in the first place. Fans of hers will not likely be disappointed when the full album comes out in December. This will be the Christmas present they have dreamt of all year long.
M.I.A.’s full name is Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam. She is an English recording artist, songwriter, director and painter. If you haven’t guessed it, M.I.A. is an acronym that means Missing in Action. However, it was meant to be a play on her own name which starts with an “M” and ends with an “A.” The rapper is known for combining elements of dance, hip hop, alternative, electronic and world music in her songs. Back in 2000, she began her career as a visual artist, designer and filmmaker over in West London. In 2002, she started a recording career and has quickly risen to stardom. In 2004, she released two singles “Galang” and “Sunshowers” that made her reach #11 on the Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales in the United States. M.I.A. has been nominated for two Grammy Awards, the Mercury Prize and an Academy Award. At only 40-years-old, she is continuing to make a name for herself in the music industry with her unique style of performance.

Floating Points: The Gorgeous Electronic Jazz Journey

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Floating Points, whose real name is Sam Shepherd, is known for being a great DJ. But he is also considered a different kind of DJ because he uses classical and jazz music instead of the common hip hop and rap. In fact, his first full length debut features a suite of songs that were all improvised and feature classical and jazz in them. If you are familiar with the works of Caribou and Four Tet then you will appreciate the meditative quality that comes from Shepherd’s music.
Floating Points new album “Elaenia” is said to contain songs with many different ideas and themes coming from them that the listener will always hear something new unraveled. Some might say this will make it difficult for listeners to stay committed to the music. However, they will be completely lost in the sound that it will wrap around them like a blanket.
The track called “Nespole” contains gradually intensifying saxophone sounds while there is a whole 10 minutes of freeform jazz, drums and flashes of strings. This combination of tunes creates music that is both romantic and suspenseful at the same time. As the listener keeps going forward to the next track in the album, each one will cleverly move into the next. This is even true in the middle of the chaotic final track of the album called “Peroration Six.” It contains a repetitive Middle C that sparks emotional feelings in the listener and keeps them listening right up until the very end.
Elaenia is actually the name of a beautiful little South American bird. Floating Points named the album Elaenia because the musical tracks are beautiful and impossible to keep contained in a cage. In other words, the music has such a powerful effect that it will touch the entire world and not just be confined to one type of music lover. That is why if you aren’t a fan of classical or jazz then you will still fall in love with the musical tracks on Elaenia. It has a special power to attract people and keep their attention right from the first track until the last.
Sam Shepherd is a young musician from the United Kingdom that has quickly made a name for himself throughout the world. He is not to be confused with the older playwright and Oscar nominated actor named Sam Shepherd, who recently got arrested on a DUI charge. The young musician Sam Shepherd likely goes by the name Floating Points in order to clearly stand out from the actor with the same name.

Scott Weiland found dead!

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Scott Weiland Cause of Death: Accidental Overdose

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Former Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver singer died of an overdose of cocaine, ethanol and MDA
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He was found on Decemeber 3, 2015 deceased.
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Let’s enjoy his music and appreciate his life in music…afterall it is the music that matters…

Stone Temple Pilots “Interstate Love Song”

Velvet Revolver “Fall to Pieces”

From all of us here at Noisy Planet–we wish you the best. We are fond of the noise you left in our ears, it will remain in our hearts.
Scott Weiland #YourMusicMatters

Milani’s Top 3 for 2015!

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This week I’m highlighting 3 different tracks from 3 different artists that have stood out among the clutter this year…

Tobias Jesso Jr. is a Canadian singer/songwriter who released his debut album earlier this year. He’s got an interesting backstory. He started out in Vancouver in an indie band as a bass player. The band moved to L.A. to back a young pop singer, but that didn’t work out. So Tobias started to work as a songwriter in L.A. He didn’t have much luck as a songwriter and wasn’t finding any work. Then after breaking up with his girlfriend, he got hit by a car while riding his bike (injuring his hand and having his bike stolen in the process). The very next day he found out his mom had cancer. This chain of events helped push him to move back to Vancouver, and he decided songwriting was going to move to hobby status (his music equipment was left in storage in L.A.). He then proceeded to use the family piano to write a song for himself, which he sang (he was never confident in his singing ability). He posted a video on YouTube and Facebook, and started getting really positive feedback from both friends and strangers. As he posted some more material, more buzz followed. This eventually led to some demos and then a record deal. He worked with multiple producers on the album, including Patrick Carney (Black Keys), Ariel Rechtshaid (Usher, Vampire Weekend, Kylie Minogue) and Chet “JR” White (Girls). Adele tweeted a link to his video for “How Could You Babe” which garnered him a lot of attention, and he was booked on The Tonight Show for his TV debut before his album was even released. His album “Goon” came out in March and Jesso Jr. wrote it entirely himself, centering on his piano and vocals. His sound has a very ‘70s era vibe, definitely doesn’t sound contemporary at all. Jesso Jr. continues to gain popularity; I read that he was hanging with Taylor Swift and that he may be collaborating with Adele on a song for her upcoming album. So definitely check him out if you’re looking for something mellow to listen to. I’m including the lead track from his debut album “Can’t Stop Thinking About You”, which is a very stripped-down song with mostly just Tobias and his piano. It reminds me, just a little bit, of the theme from Cheers (part of the piano that is).
“Can’t Stop Thinking About You”

AWOLNATION struck it big with the anthem “Sail” from their debut album “Megalithic Symphony”, which went platinum in the U.S. and double platinum in Canada. This is a solo project from Aaron Bruno, who used it to record music that didn’t fit with his other bands he was playing with. He freely mixed genres, incorporating both live instruments and electronic elements, very slick production and a heavy electro-pop vibe. The sophomore album came out earlier this year, titled “Run”. I’ve heard it’s more of the same, but I have to admit I haven’t yet listened to the album yet. I’ve heard the lead single “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)” many times though, and I still haven’t gotten tired of it (granted I don’t listen to the radio a whole lot). So for those of you that are sick of this track, I apologize, but if you’re not familiar with it then check it out. It has all of the key AWOLNATION elements, bombastic production, and a heavily arpeggiated blend of new wave, electro and pop with a powerful chorus. This is one artist that is maybe better to listen to in small doses, becausehe mixes so many elements into his songs it can be fatiguing to take in an entire album in one sitting. My favorite part of “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf) is the chorus (I like the fast-spoken words). I also like the overly bombastic part about 3 minutes in where the music starts pounding even harder before Bruno starts screaming like a lunatic. Again, the production on this song makes it “pop” when it comes on the radio compared to most other songs.
“Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)”

The Arcs is the latest collaboration from Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys). Auerbach keeps busy, in between Black Keys albums he’s recording solo albums and producing records by other artists. When his bandmate, Patrick Carney, injured his shoulder this year and the Black Keys took some time off, Auerbach pulled together a side project which is The Arcs. He partnered with Leon Michaels, a multi-instrumentalist who Auerbach worked with in the studio on albums by Lana Del Ray and Dr. John. They brought in some other friends to play on the album. “Yours, Dreamily” was released in September. The album was recorded hastily, in two weeks across three different studios, and has a spontaneous vibe to it. The music is not unlike the Black Keys, especially their last album. Auerbach does take advantage of being more experimental, there’s more of a psychedelic tone on some tracks and overall the record is a little more soulful and harkens back to classic R&B. The band is pretty tight and there’s a definite groove throughout the album. Unlike AWOLNATION, this is an album that you can easily digest all of the way through. The track I’m highlighting “Put a Flower in Your Pocket” was a favorite right away after my first listen. The song has psychedelic elements and has some cool production techniques on it to make it sound more retro. But I really like the overall vibe of the track, the band plays well together and it has a timeless element to it – not to mention a great chorus.
“Put a Flower in Your Pocket”