Spring has arrived -- flowers and music in full bloom. Some of it only hints at what might be as summer approaches. Until then, here are few things I'm carting around in my wheelbarrow. Dig it.
"Spiderlegs" Danny Malone: Balloons (DM)
Happy accident as I had no prior knowledge of Mr. Malone prior to listening to his new album, but no worries. Here's a wonderful folk-rock tune from this Austin-based singer/songwriter's second long-player. He recorded this set of confessional musings in a haunted 15th century castle in Denmark, each song in a different room. He calls his music "sexy, dirty, sad songs about the human condition." This remains my favorite track; and the video below is pretty bloody "sexy" too.
Alicia Keys at Prudential Center April 8, 2013, Newark, NJ
I'd never seen her live, and I don't why, but I'm damn happy I finally did. She is a major talent, but you who love her already know that. She straddles many musical genres although it's her R&B swagger that keeps it all together. She can sing her ass off -- three-octave-range voice, plays a gorgeous classical-slanted piano, and can dance just as good as she wants. Her show is packed full of hits -- five albums of tunes to chose from, and whether she's crooning in ballad mode or bringing it with her vocals, it's all magical. And during her encore it became quite clear that the Girl on Fire and Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" has officially replaced Sinatra's "New York New York" cover as The Big Apple's official theme song. Here's my favorite track from her latest:
"My God is the Sun" Queens of the Stone Age: Like Clockwork (Matador)
That sonic guitar attack you hear is nothing to worry about. Just Josh Homme's latest hard and heavy blast of six-string fury from his very formidable quartet. And it's what we've come to expect from him -- melodic and driving and relentless and, as always, fun. Due for release on June 4th; I would strongly suggest you preorder your copy today.
Waiting for Henry: Ghosts & Comprise (WFH)
A few years back, Mr. Henry, fronted by vocalist/guitarist Dave Slomin, was the band that should have been the big breakout band in New York City. Never happened for various reasons. Not to worry as Mr. Slomin is back with a new band and better than ever. Added to their R.E.M.-like alt-rock mix is Chicago-based drummer/guitarist/vocalist David Ashdown. His no-nonsense 'tude brought them some serious Midwestern rock and roll sensibilities. This is not the pretentious art rock that often rises from the rank and file of New York's club scene, just straight ahead timeless classic rock -- two guitars, bass, and drums -- and perfect for any playlist in any era.
David Bowie: The Next Day (ISO/Columbia)
HIs first studio recording since 2003's Reality, this is not the best Bowie in his peerless catalog but it's still a pretty damn pretty thing. Back is longtime producer and collaborator Tony Visconti and his longest-tenured band member, guitarist Earl Slick, as well as most of the players on his previous effort. Recorded in NYC at the Magic Shop and Human studios, this is the sound of Bowie, well, being Bowie -- a little Ziggy, some Thin White Duke, German experimenter, NY crooner (vocals are spot on). These 14 songs are comfort food; they will sustain and nourish until genius strikes again. I predict that will be on his next album.
Greetings from Tim Buckley (Tribeca Film & Focus World)
Music bio pic about Tim and Jeff Buckley couldn't be bad, right? While it's not a true bio pic, as the director Daniel Algrant and his writers do take poetic liberties with the truth, thankfully it's a moving tone poem. Sadly many young music fans don't know how genius and prolific Jeff's father was during his brief life; a drug overdose claimed him at 28. This film uses the 1991 Tim Buckley tribute at St. Ann's in Brooklyn as its backdrop. It was Jeff's coming out gig. And he wouldn't look back. (I caught him countless times solo at Sin-e and as well as with Gary Lucas' Gods & Monsters.) This is a small, nuanced beautiful movie about the complexities of father-son relationships using the music and performance of two legendary singer-songwriters -- although Jeff's mother would not grant the use of Jeff's music. (There is another "official" Jeff Buckley bio pic in the works.) Kudos to Penn Badgley as Jeff, Ben Rosenfield as Tim, Imogen Potts as Jeff's love interest, and Frank Woods as Gary Lucas. Rent it today!
"Mid Century Modern Nightmare" Neon Neon: Praxis Makes Perfect (Lex Records)
If you were a fan of The Normal's "Warm Leatherette," the Flying Lizard's cover of "Money," OMD, or early Depeche Mode, then this quirky new wave ditty is perfect for your summer playlist. Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals) and Boom Bip follow their 2008 Mercury Music Prize-nominated Stainless Style (concept debut album based on the life of John Delorean) with their sophomore effort that explores the colorful life of Italian publicist and revolutionary Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.
"Shoot the Moon" This Is Thunder: This Is Thunder E.P. (Sp1records)
And furthermore, if you loved Wire, then you'll appreciate the dance-this-mess-around production and execution of this initially Transatlantic, SF-based duo -- underground rock veteran Jen Schande (Boyskout, Shove) and French electronic experimentalist Nopse. Nopse has a thing for Sonic Youth, as this track will attest.
Chelsea Light Moving: Chelsea Light Moving (Matador)
Speaking of Sonic Youth... After splitting with his wife Kim Gordon after 27 years of marriage, Thurston Moore decided to retreat to his garage. His new quartet doesn't stray all that far from his comfort zone, albeit a tad more VU here and Nuggets-era primal punk rock there and with little excess noise... what?... well, actually there is still plenty of Thurston's alt-tuned guitar flourishes and tilted melodies that will keep even the most ardent Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, and Jesus & Mary Chain noise freaks very happy. These heavy riffs beg to be played loud!
"Things Will Change" Treetop Flyers: The Mountain Moves (Partisan)
If you dig Mumford & Sons but wish they'd plug in, then you'll dig this U.K. five piece. In fact, the retro-fitted tunes of the Treetop Flyers pack a lot more meat on their rockin' bones. This terrific folk-rock tune is from their forthcoming debut set for a June 25th release. It smacks of that quintessential West Coast '60s sound meshed with the contemporary vibe of Band of Horses. In fact, these lads remind me of the chart-topping catchy-as-hell folk-rock U.K. act from that golden age -- America. My favorite song of the spring, so far. Listen and share...
Go and play outside.
This article originally appeared on CultureCatch.com.