Milani

Victorious by Wolfmother

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This week I’m highlighting the latest release from Wolfmother, which is basically Andrew Stockdale and whoever else he assembles to record their current album.  Wolfmother has a classic hard rock sound that harkens back to the ‘70s, showing glimpses of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and many other bands from that era.  Generally Stockdale plays at a high energy and higher tempo level though, and FUN is always a priority.  Wolfmother favors soaring choruses and massive guitar riffs with plenty of effects.  Are they the most original band playing out there today – no.  Are they usually fun as hell to listen to when you’re in the mood to hear this type of music – most definitely!  Every album has at least half a dozen tracks that are a complete blast.  Consider them the aural equivalent of a classic comedy movie that doesn’t score well with movie critics but nevertheless is still a favorite for many moviegoers.  Wolfmother delivers on all that they attempt to offer, which is simply some classic hard rock good time songs.
 
To give you a little background on the band, they first formed in Sydney, Australia back in 2000, when Stockdale (guitar/vocals) formed the band with a drummer and bassist/keyboardist (really the names don’t matter since it’s a revolving door for everyone else – for the third album Stockdale decided to release it as a solo effort because it really was just him at that point in time and no one else).  The early days were literally just jamming in a garage before the band even performed their first concert 4 years later.  A few months later they got a deal to cut an EP.  The EP charted in Australia and they kept touring before signing with Universal Records to record their debut full-length album.  This self-titled album was huge after it came out in Australia at the end of ’05, eventually reaching quintuple platinum status there (there’s always a good audience for fun hard rock).  This led to the album coming out in other countries throughout 2006, with multiple singles and plenty of film and video game placements.  This started the revolving door of other personnel in the band.  They expanded to a quartet with a second guitarist and released their sophomore album at the end of ’09, titled “Cosmic Egg”.  While it still charted in many countries, #3 in Australia and top twenty in the U.S., it did not generate the same level of excitement as their debut.  This led to many more personnel changes, the aforementioned “3rd album” which was an Andrew Stockdale solo album “Keep Moving”.  This solo effort did not fare well on the charts, even in Australia it peaked at #32.  This led Stockdale to go back to the Wolfmother moniker again and go with a trio for the official Wolfmother 3rd album “New Crown”, released in 2014.  Now, in 2016 Wolfmother’s 4th album “Victorious” has been released.  Legendary hard rock producer Brendan O’Brien produced the album (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine, Black Crowes, Stone Temple Pilots).  Stockdale handled guitars, bass, vocals, he picked up a keyboard guy and used a couple of seasoned drummers on the album (Josh Freese and Joey Waronker).
 
“Victorious” is a solid effort, while there are some missteps there are enough hits to make it worthwhile.  It might as well be a Stockdale solo album, the one element that is missing is more band interplay that could have made the overall album stronger.  But if you listen to it more as a series of singles, it works just fine.  Here are a few tracks to give you a taste of the Wolfmother sound.
 
“Victorious” – The title track certainly is an example of a classic Wolfmother song.  Soaring vocals on a simple chorus spun around a classic guitar riff.  Verses with Stockdale’s high-pitched vocals floating amongst some chugging riffs.  Instrumental breakdown in the latter half of the song, introducing a new pedal effect.  It’s all here and done quickly and efficiently so you’re not tired of the song before it ends.

 
“City Lights” – A screeching distorted guitar riffs rings out to kick this track off.  The bass drives the verses more, with some nice keyboard accents.  The chorus is the highlight, as everything comes together nicely and it hits hard and fast before backing off and starting the whole process over again.  The instrumental breakdown on this track has Stockdale playing two guitar parts for a nice effect.  Phrases like “psychedelic satellite” are thrown out just because they sound cool, not to provide any real meaning.  But that’s ok, you’re not listening to Wolfmother to interpret the meaning of the songs, you just want to rock out.

 
“The Simple Life” – Another flavor of a typical Wolfmother song – this one highlights the drums a bit more and nails another epic chorus with some more cool guitar sounds.  The instrumental breakdown in this song adds some different keyboard elements as well.  Stockdale does a nice job over the last 30 seconds or so bringing everything together to a suitable conclusion.

Real Love Baby by Father John Misty

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Noteworthy releases this week I’ll be checking out include potty-mouth pop singer Tove Lo’ssubdued sophomore album “Lady Wood”, the first album from Nick Valensi guitarist from the Strokes and four other musician friends recording as CRX with “New Skin”, Bay Area thrash metal stalwarts Testament unleash “Brotherhood of the Snake” and Philly pop-punk band Mannequin Pu**y drop “Romantic”. And if you’re a fan of Christmas albums, that time of year has come when the holiday albums are dropping like flies – check out holiday releases from She & Him, Kacey Musgraves, Jennifer Nettles, Neil Diamond, Jimmy Buffet, Straight, No Chaser and others this week.

This week I’m featuring one song by one artist – Father John Misty and “Real Love Baby”. Father John Misty released a well-regarded album last year titled “I Love You, Honeybear”. It was alright, some of it was a little too mellow for me. But I’m fortunate enough to hear this single he released on the independent artist-focused SiriusXM channel I usually have playing in my car. It was a little bit of a grower. I did like it immediately but it’s grown on me even more since. It has a very retro-vibe and a relaxed feel. There’s some great harmonies and background vocals, something Father John Misty is familiar with and is highlighted on his work with Fleet Foxes. A little background on Joshua Tillman, aka Father John Misty. When he was in college in NYC, he played drums in a couple of indie rock bands. But he was writing his own music as well, and he began performing as a solo artist and recording some records. After a couple of years as a solo artist, he joined Fleet Foxes as their drummer in 2008. Their debut album made a big splash and they did a lot of touring. But by 2011, Tillman was ready to go back out on his own. At this point he took on the moniker Father John Misty and began recording under that name. I hope his next album is right along the lines “Real Love Baby”. It’s a breath of fresh air every time it pops up on the radio.

Finally, since Halloween was just a couple of weeks ago, here’s one of my favorite “Halloween” songs:

The Hope Sixth Demolition Project by PJ Harvey

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Notable new releases this week include another solid effort from underrated alternative rockers Band of Skulls “By Default”, new dance music from up and coming Australian electronic musician and producerFlume (and a bevy of guests) with “Skin”, spirited Toronto punk rockers PUP with “The Dream Is Over” and only because this is such a WTH release, the Monkees are dropping a new album “Good Times!”.
 
British alt-rocker PJ Harvey recently released her 9th album “The Hope Six Demolition Project”.  Harvey has evolved her sound over the years since her ’92 debut “Dry”.  Her music started out as loud, fierce and very raw guitar driven sound to slightly more polished but still alternative rock, to a much more stark and hushed tone.  On “White Chalk” she even learned how to play the piano and limited her songwriting to that instrument.  Her prior release before her latest album “Let England Shake” moved away from a personal-based songwriting approach to drawing more from current events.  With “The Hope Six Demolition Project”, Harvey continues to write songs from a different perspective, traveling to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington D.C. and writing songs about what she saw.  Parts of the new album were recorded in public as a type of art exhibit at London cultural center Somerset House.
 
I’ve been following Harvey since ’92 and I’m obviously a fan.  I haven’t been that into her last few albums though.  “The Hope Six Demolition Project” has evolved her sound back into a mode that I enjoy more, although still not quite as much as earlier albums.  Harvey has had a very interesting career, including coming close to a nervous breakdown in between her first and second albums.  She found a way to deal with the pressure though, and has accomplished quite a lot in her career.  She is the only artist that has won the Mercury Prize twice (awarded to best UK/Irish album of the year from a list of 12 nominees).  What I like the most about “The Hope Six Demolition Project” is the vibe on the album, it has a retro-sound but still has a contemporary element as well.  While I recommend checking out her new album, I also recommend going back and listening to any of her first 5-6 albums if you’re not familiar with her as an artist.  Here are two good tracks from “The Hope Six Demolition Project”.
 
“The Wheel” – First time I heard this on the radio, I wasn’t sure what I thought about it, but it quickly grew quite a lot on me.  This song almost has a campfire like vibe, it sounds very loose and spontaneous.  There’s energetic handclaps, ringing acoustic guitars, a nice horn section and a group singalong that standout on this track.  Now that imagery is stuck in my head – a great big campfire jam.

 
“The Community of Hope” –This song kicks off the new album and sets the tone for what to expect throughout the album.  Like “The Wheel”, this track has a raw and spontaneous feel.  Harvey has taken some flak for her lyrics on this track, which is based on her observations while in D.C.  If you listen, you’ll understand why there was some controversy.  Of course, Harvey’s observations were gathered over a day or two of driving around the city, not living there.  But many thought she was out of line and painted a bleak and unbalanced a picture.  Her words are strong though, and work well in the context of the song.  In addition to her interesting verses, the chorus is very strong on this song, with the minimal percussion and background vocalists coming in to provide a contrast to the verses.

Get Gone by Seratones

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Notable new releases this week include an epic loose concept album by emerging indie singer/songwriter Car Seat Headrest “Teens of Denial”, the second album from the pre-Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers band Mudcrutch (with Petty on bass instead of guitar) “2”, new “supergroup” (featuring members from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Blood Brothers) Head Wound City’s loud hardcore abrasive “A New Wave of Violence” and new singles from the Scottish electronic band Chvrches and the criminally underrated Chicago rockers Chevelle.  All worth checking out.
 
Among the many great releases over the past month includes the debut album from passionate Louisiana vintage soul/R&B/punky garage rockers Seratones, titled “Get Gone”.  Imagine Alabama Shakes at their highest intensity, with some added Louisiana swing and a general looseness in their sound that gives off a celebratory vibe.  The band name is very fitting for the music they play, playing off of the word “serotonin” which is a chemical produced by the body that makes you feel happy.  Maybe Car Seat Headrest should talk to this band about coming up with a better name… Anyway, the band first formed in Shreveport, the original three all knew each from the local music scene – vocalist/guitarist A.J. Haynes, guitarist Connor Davis and drummer Jesse Gabriel.  Once they got a block of time in a local recording studio, the three added bassist Adam Davis (Connor’s brother).  The band quickly made a name for themselves on the local music scene with their live shows.  The Seratones got their big break when playing a show in Arkansas with a band called NERVES.  The NERVES lead singer worked at Fat Possum Records, one of the best southern indie labels, and he convinced the label head to check out the band.  The Seratones were signed by Fat Possum, and that led to their debut album that came out this month “Get Gone”.
 
Haynes is a POWERFUL vocalist and frontwoman and she is the main catalyst for the band.  Not that the rest of the band doesn’t do a great job backing her up, because they do.  But Haynes has a strong and dynamic voice that demands your attention.  She developed her pipes singing in church choirs (how many times have you heard that background for great singers?), and her destiny is to be singing this kind of music.  She can rip it up tempo, take it way down as needed – just a ton of versatility with her vocals and delivered with an energy and charisma that you can’t teach.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s in the future for this band, hopefully they gain some positive press and firmly establish themselves in the music world.  And the album has a lot of great songs on it, I’d jotted down over half a dozen before picking the three I’m sharing below.  So there’s plenty of reasons to listen to their debut album – check them out!
 
“Choking on Your Spit” – This is the lead track on the album and it’s a great way to kick-off the record.  This song highlights the band’s punky, loose and loud side, but punk bands don’t typically feature a vocalist with these pipes.  This song launches full bore and maintains the intensity throughout its short runtime.  The one exception is the quick stop-start that is kicked back off by a little bass solo before the rest of the band blasts off into the ending.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iBPC3rR2A4 – bonus live performance from their national television debut
 
“Get Gone” – Taking things down a notch on the title track to show a slower side of the band but there’s no loss of intensity, it’s just shared in smaller doses.  Haynes’ vocals are highlighted a bit more since the music is slower and more open, and she gets plenty of room to stretch them out.  Davis also highlights some understated guitar playing, never flashy but provides some solid riffs throughout the track.

 
“Chandelier” – Kicking it back into a higher gear again, Haynes lets off a great little squeal near the beginning of this song before going into her vocals.  The band does an effective job of slowing it down a bit in order to highlight the sound when dial it back up.  Again, Haynes shows off vocals that are all over the spectrum, knowing when to bring it down and then ratchet up the intensity.  Near the end of this song, there’s a great little drum break before the band and Haynes dial it up to 10 until the track abruptly ends.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9sfVHh1tS4 – bonus live performance from their national television debut
Notable new releases this week are a bit slim but I’ll give a shout out to the new EP from New York indie rockers the Strokes “Future Present Past” and the 5th album from the duo featuring Alison Mosshart (The Dead Weather) on vocals The Kills “Ash & Ice” (it’s good, I’ve listened to it).
 

Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest

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Car Seat Headrest is a pretty stupid name for a band, but there’s a story behind it that makes more sense.  They actually started not as a band, but the work of a single artist, Will Toledo.  Toledo hails from Virginia, and first started recording music on his computer with the built in mic and music software that was included on it.  His recording techniques did grow in sophistication over time, but he was always seeking simple solutions to his recording problems.  When he discovered he preferred recording vocals in his car rather than in his home, that’s where he got the name that he currently records under.  6 years ago Toledo released his first album as Car Seat Headrest, titled “1”.  He then proceeded to release “2”, “3” and “4” within the next few months.  While he made them available on his online store, he added a warning that they were “not very good”.  He then released a compilation of b-sides and random songs that he described as pretty awful, but in 2011 he released an album without any disclaimers about how bad the music was.  He released a second album later that year that gained some critical buzz.  He then released two more albums in 2012 and another in 2013.  At this point, Toledo decided he needed to get out of Virginia, so he packed up and headed to Seattle.  This led to the release of “How To Leave Town” in 2014 which got him even more buzz.  This led him to sign with Matador Records, who released “Teens of Style” in Oct. ’15.  This brings us to May ’16 where Car Seat Headrest has released the new album “Teens of Denial”.  This is also the first album that Toledo recorded with other musicians (on drums and bass) in a professional studio.  While I’ve heard of Car Seat Headrest and read glowing accolades from enthusiasts, I’ve never listened to any of his work until this new album.  Toledo’s sound is a mix of lo-fi noises with pretty clear and innovative production.  He also displays a pretty wide-range of fairly experimental songwriting styles.  This makes for a pretty interesting and sprawling listen, but if you want to hear something that doesn’t sound mainstream, this would fit the bill.  Oh yeah, it’s also a concept album based on a kid named Joe who’s dealing with a host of issues and dilemmas about late adolescence and early adulthood.  The new album gained a little additional publicity when copies of it had to be pulled at the last minute when Ric Ocasek declined permission to use a few bars of The Cars “Just What I Needed” on “Just What I Needed/Not What I Needed”.  All the initial vinyl and cd copies had to be destroyed and Toledo reworked the song and titled it “Not What I Needed”.  Below are a few tracks to check out if you’re curious to hear what Car Seat Headrest is bringing to the table.
 
“Destroyed By Hippie Powers” – This may be the most rocking song on the entire album, so of course I was immediately drawn to it.  Loud guitars, a locked in rhythm section and some good hooks, what’s not to like?  I hear a little bit of Pavement in this track (and Weezer), but also a handful of other influences.  I especially love the part where the sound is cranked up even louder near the end (plus there’s cowbell).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI3UQhuKMQA&list=RDBI3UQhuKMQA – (all I could find was an earlier version of this track performed live at Ground Zero 18 months prior to the album being released, not quite as good as the album version)
 
“Fill in the Blank” – More solid guitars ringing out on this song, which kicks off the new album.  The chorus is cool with just the right amount of sloppiness to give it a live and unrehearsed feel, with plenty of stops/starts.  This song brings in some more influences – yes, I can hear a little bit of the Strokes in there. 

 
“Vincent” – This shows off a little more of an experimental side of Car Seat Headrest’s songwriting.  This video is the edited version of the song, which takes out some stuff in the beginning that isn’t important in the song structure (album version is 7:30 long).  Toledo demonstrates some interesting vocal styles, throwing words out of his mouth at some parts on this song.  This is a track that may not register that hard when you first hear it, but then after you’ve heard it a few times it has suddenly left a very big imprint on your brain.  I heard this track come on the radio on a Sirius XM “alternative” alternative channel and immediately recognized that I knew the song, but wasn’t sure who the artist was until I looked at the name.  Then it all came together in a burst of realization.

 

Who Shot Ya by Living Colour

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Notable new releases include albums from eclectic rapper M.I.A. “A.I.M.” (evidently her last), Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have “Skeleton Tree” which also accompanies a feature film “One More Time With Feeling”, Jack White has a career spanning compilation “Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016”, clipping. features two rappers that are also in “Hamilton” and their 2nd album “Splendor & Misery” is a dystopian science fiction opera and finally The Beatles dropped a live album “Live at the Hollywood Bowl”.
 
Living Colour released an EP today “Who Shot Ya”, which is driving this week’s write-up.  Any new material from Living Colour is a cause for celebration.  Their last album came out 7 years ago so they are overdue for some new music.  While the EP only has three songs on it (along with remixes) and one of the three is a cover of the Jacksons’ “This Place Hotel”, it’s all good because it still has Corey, Vernon, Will and Doug playing together.  Living Colour has been around since the ‘80s, most of you are probably familiar with their biggest hit “Cult of Personality”.  However, this band is vastly underrated, the talent of each of these four guys is truly phenomenal.  For various reasons, they’ve only put out 5 albums over the past 28 years.  The first two albums featured Muzz Skillings on bass who was replaced by Doug Wimbish in the early ‘90s.  Hailing from NYC, the band also features Vernon Reid on guitar (underrated guitar god) and Corey Glover’s incomparable vocal abilities on themic.  And then of course the monster rhythm section of Will Calhoun on drums and Doug Wimbish on bass.  The band was finding their way, regularly performing at CBGB’s, when Mick Jagger took notice of them.  He produced a demo for the band and helped get them signed to Epic.  Their debut album “Vivid”, featuring “Cult of Personality” brought a lot of buzz and even a Grammy award.  Plus the band got to open for the Rolling Stones on their stadium tour that year (which I attended).  Of course since then, there’s only been four more albums.  The band broke up for a while from ’95-’01, before getting back together.  While they are still touring, they are not releasing a lot of new music.  So that’s why I’m featuring a few of the EP songs today, along with a track from their second album just so you can hear how good these guys were.
 
“Regrets” – This track settles into a nice groove, and is a slower and more simple song from the band.  Vernon Reid plays some great riffs and the rhythm section is locked in as always.  There’s plenty of space for Glover to show off his vocals as well.  My favorite lyric on this song is “I raised some hell; it felt like hell raised me”.  During the last minute, the band kicks it up several notches and you’re also treated to a very nice guitar solo from Reid.  This song would play great live.

 
“This Place Hotel” – Yes they covered the Jacksons, but who cares especially since they put their own stamp on this song.  Calhoun/Wimbish lock down a monster groove on this track, and Glover really gets to let loose with his vocals.  The lyrics are a little more simple than you’d typically hear from the band, but Glover takes the opportunity to put his stylistic stamp on them.  Reid also gets some space to throw down another solo near the end.

 
“Pride” – Reid is scorching from the first note on this track, and Calhoun/Skillings lay down a monster rhythm.  Keep in mind this song’s was recorded over 25 years ago.  Glover supplies his usual stellar vocals, but the band is really driving this song, there’s some great playing on here.  Reid demonstrates why he’s one of the most talented guitar players out there.

Nonagon Infinity by Bottomless Pit

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Notable new releases this week include new albums from noise/rap innovators Death Grips “Bottomless Pit”, a punkish yet very focused effort from White Lung “Paradise”, and an interesting collaboration-filled release from Montreal-based producer Kaytranada “99%”.  There were also new singles released this past week by both Radiohead and the Red Hot Chili Peppers – I recommend checking both out.  There was nothing notable or interesting released by Drake – and yes, I’d be happy to say that to his face.  I’ve no clue why he’s popular, do people just feel sorry for his lack of real talent?
 
Well, I touted their new album dropping last week and lo and behold here they are a week later in my write-up – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.  Their new album is titled “Nonagon Infinity” and it’s a very interesting record.  First for some background, these guys formed five years ago in Melbourne, Australia and have just released their 8th album – yes do the math that’s 8 albums in 5 years.  NIN have been going for 28 years and have released only one more album than KG&LW.  These guys have a psych-rock garage sound and are quite experimental with their records.  Last year alone they released a 4-song jazz-prog epic where each track was 10:10 long and a second album recorded only on acoustic instruments.  “Nonagon Infinity” is nothing like either of those, this is their loudest, most focused and ferocious effort to date.  The most unique thing about “Nonagon Infinity” is that it’s designed to flow continuously from song to song with no breaks in an infinite loop – the last track seamlessly works back into the first track on the record.  This also means the songs are similar in pace/tempo and there are some repeating elements from track to track.  Nevertheless it’s a very fun and exhilarating listen – not to mention a great workout record.  The band really pulled it together on this effort and came out with something pretty special.  I’m highlighting 2 of the 9 tracks below.
 
“Gamma Knife” – This song starts off fired up and swinging and stays on that course throughout its 4+ minutes.  Buzz saw guitars, hoots and hollers, some wailing harmonica and a solid rhythm section provide the backbone for this track.

 
“Mr. Beat” – Besides a cool title, this track has a great repeating riff/chorus that just becomes a lockdown mantra in your head.  The singer sings right on the bassline during the chorus and there’s some cool organ work on this song.  Really, the chorus makes the whole song, along with the organ breakdowns.

 
“Brace For Impact (Live A Little)” – Probably the song with the best groove on the album, this song brings out a lot of different instrumentation.  Ringing guitars, a solid bassline, horns, organ – it’s all here on this track. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cBnlhhG4 – live version on Colbert’s late night show
 
“In Bloom” – If this sounds familiar to you, it’s a cover of Nirvana.  But the only part that would sound familiar are the lyrics.  Simpson makes this song his own, completely changing up the arrangement and it sounds perfectly at home within the context of his album.  The soft approach with the lyrics is very effective.  Sturgill grabs a hold of this song, wrestles it down and completely makes it his own.

Midwest Farmer’s Daughter by Margo Price

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Margo Price just released her debut album on Jack White’s Third Man Records label.  Margo definitely brings a classic singer/songwriter vibe to her record, which hints at some of the best parts of the classic country sound from the ‘60s & ‘70s but she adds her own personal stamp so it’s not overly nostalgic.  Titled “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter”, Price’s album has the markings of becoming a classic in this genre.  Her songwriting displays great narrative throughout, and it’s the little details she hones in on that help her stand out from the masses.  She recorded the album at Sun Studios, which she financed on her own.  Allegedly, she sold her wedding ring, car, instruments and vintage recording equipment to fund the recording at Sun.  Jack White was already a fan of Price, seeing her at various local shows in Nashville.  So she sent White her album and he was impressed enough to sign her to his label and release her solo debut.  I think it was worth her investment.
 
Price is not a newbie on the scene.  She grew up in Illinois, sang in the church and went to college to study dance and theater.  At the age of 20 she dropped out of college and moved to Nashville to work on a career in music.  She was in a few bands – Buffalo Clover where she ended up marrying the bass player.  The band released three albums until splitting in 2013.  Price then formed Margo and the Pricetags, a band with a revolving line-up that sometimes included Sturgill Simpson – another upcoming star in the alt-country scene.  This led to Price financing the solo album that got her signed to Third Man Records.
 
I’ve included three tracks below from “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” that will provide a good overview of her sound.  Even if country music isn’t your thing, check these out.
 
“Hands of Time” – This is the first track on the album and a great way to kick it off.  Price assembles quite the narrative during this song, which is an absolute knockout.  Typically it would be hard to follow this with 9-10 more songs that wouldn’t be seen as inferior, but Price is more than up to the task.  6:00 has never gone by so quickly.

 
“Four Years of Chances” – This song has such an awesome vibe to it, bringing the best of the ‘70s with a modern take.  A whole album of music sounding like this would be incredible – or maybe this song stands out that much more because it stands out uniquely.  A great country/rock/blues hybrid, complete with guitar and keyboard solos in the middle, this is a great song from the very first bass note. 

 
“Desperate and Depressed”–This is a stripped down song, just Price’s voice and two guitars spinning a tale ofabout people who only want to take advantage of you.  This track may only appear on MP3 versions of the album as a bonus track.  “10% of nothing ain’t worth a dime” is one of my favorite lines in this song.  There is some nice guitar work throughout on this. 

Post Pop Depression by Iggy Pop

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This week featuring the likely swan song from an artist I’m sure many thought would never still be around at this stage in his life…
 
Considered by many to be the godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop has been playing music for the past 50 years.  Born and raised in a trailer park in Michigan, Iggy (real name James Osterberg) was forming bands while he was still in high school.  He started off on the drums, playing in blues bands in Chicago after a stint at the Univ. of Michigan didn’t work out.  He then went back to Ann Arbor and formed a rock band, electing now to be the frontman instead of the drummer.  His inspirations included Jim Morrison and Lou Reed.  He was aiming for a band that was aggressive, sexually charged and repetitive.  He hooked up with two brothers and a bass player and they formed the Psychedelic Stooges (later shortened to just the Stooges).  Right around the same time, Osterberg changed his name to Iggy Pop.  Iggy gained a reputation for being crazed onstage, confronting the audience and working himself into such a frenzy that he was usually bleeding by the end of the night from various cuts and scratches.    The band released two albums, a S/T one and “Fun House” but they sold so poorly (plus there were drug issues) that the band was dropped by their label.  Ironically both albums have now become classics and were massive catalysts for what became punk rock.
 
David Bowie, who was a fan, ended up tracking down Iggy Pop and convinced the now clean and sober singer to restart his career.  He relocated to England, paired up with a second guitarist the Stooges had enlisted and signed with Bowie’s management company.  They then reunited with the Asheton brothers and the Stooges were back in business.  They signed with Columbia and released “Raw Power”.  Pop’s goal for this record was for it to be so brutal and powerful it would physically hurt the listener as it played.  Bowie produced and the album was another commercial flop.  The band went back heavy into drugs and broke up for a second time.  Iggy was homeless at one point on the streets of Hollywood.  He later checked into a psychiatric hospital and started writing some music while he was there.  Bowie came and visited him and offered to take Pop out on the road with him to support Bowie’s new album.  They moved to Berlin together and Bowie helped Pop get a solo record deal.  Bowie helped write and produce “The Idiot” and “Lust For Life” for Pop, which sold better than any of the Stooges’ albums.  This led to a long solo career, with many ups and downs along the way. 
 
After 30 years had passed since the Stooges were together and many bands had cited them as an influence since then, Pop brought the band back together in 2003 to record some songs on his current album and do some touring as the Stooges.  In 2010, Iggy and the Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and did some touring during that timeframe.  After the second member of the Stooges died in 2014, that closed the final chapter on the Stooges.  That brings us to 2016 when Iggy Pop has now released possibly his final album, “Post Pop Depression”.  The unique thing about this album, other than it probably being the last of a very long and storied career, is that he co-wrote it with Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), with help from Dean Fertita (QOTSA, the Dead Weather) and Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys drummer).  They recorded the album in secret and funded it independently, so it was a complete surprise when it was announced to the public in January.  The album came out last week and it’s a solid effort.  If you like Pop, Homme or QOTSA, there’s plenty to enjoy about “Post Pop Depression”.  I’ve included the first two tracks from the album down below to check out.
 
“Break Into Your Heart” – You’ll get a good idea of Pop’s current vocal style, which is obviously very different from his Stooges days.  Keep in mind he’s 68, and it’s been a HARD 68 years.  It’s kind of a talking/singing voice, but Iggy make’s the most of it.  And actually, his vocal style worksextremely well with the type of music Homme tends to write.  This was actually a surprisingly good pairing.  The end of the song is particularly interesting when it slows down and really focuses on Pop’s voice.    This track could have easily been a B-side from the most recent QOTSA album.

 
“Gardenia” – This track probably has the biggest commercial potential.  Very catchy chorus and again, very well-suited for Pop’s vocals.  The bouncing bass line drives the song forward, while Pop “speaks” his vocals in between the music. 

Firestone by Kygo feat. Conrad Sewell

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Kygo ft. Conrad Sewell – “Firestone” – Kygo comes to us from Norway and is pretty new to the EDM/Dance scene. Like Zedd, Kygo started out in music as a classically trained pianist. When he was about 16, he decided to leave the classical realm of music and started to produce EDM music while watching tutorials on YouTube. He primarily gained success through releasing tracks on SoundCloud and YouTube. In 2013, he released an unofficial remix of Ed Sheeran’s track “I See Fire”; this track has received over 50 million plays on SoundCloud. Thanks to the success of this remix, Kygo was approached by Avicii and Chris Martin from Coldplay to make official remixes of their songs. It was at this time that Kygo established a good relationship with Avicii and toured with him in the early part of 2014. This lead to Kygo stepping in for Avicii during a festival, due to some health concerns for Avicii. In December of 2014, Kygo released his first single “Firestone” featuring Conrad Sewell. This track has helped catapult Kygo into mainstream airplay and it has over 200 million views on YouTube. Since dropping “Firestone”, Kygo has gone on to drop 3 additional songs from his highly anticipated debut album Cloud Nine; sadly there isn’t an official date for the album. I will say that based on the 4 songs that he has released thus far, the studio album is looking like it’ll be a great success.