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Dashboard Confessional unveil new album, Crooked Shadows: Stream

Dashboard Confessional have returned with their first album in over eight years, Crooked Shadows. Apple Music and Spotify users can stream it in full below.

The nine-track collection is Dashboard Confessional’s debut release on Fueled By Ramen. It was produced by frontman Chris Carrabba with Jonathan Clark and co-producer Colin Brittain.

(Read: The 30 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018)

“One day off tour I woke up one morning and I walked downstairs and I wrote a song,” Carrabba told The New York Times about the genesis of the album. “It was evident from the first melodic idea that this was a Dashboard song… After all that time I’d begun to wonder if they’d ever come back, and when they came back they came back in rapid succession. The whole thing was a cavalcade and I just surrendered to it.”

During the lead-up to Crooked Shadows, Dashboard Confessional shared two singles, “We Fight” and “Heart Beat Here”.

Crooked Shadows Artwork:

dc crooked shadows 1 Dashboard Confessional unveil new album, Crooked Shadows: Stream

Crooked Shadows Tracklist:
01. We Fight
02. Catch You
03. About Us
04. Heart Beat Here
05. Belong
06. Crooked Shadows
07. Open My Eyes
08. Be Alright
09. Just What To Say

Crooked Shadows is the follow-up to 2009’s Alter the Ending. Dashboard Confessional will commence their North American trek behind the release on February 21st in Vancouver. They’ll be joined by Philly punk outfit Beach Slang during the US leg of the tour. Check out the complete schedule here, and grab tickets here.

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40 Years Later, Warren Zevon’s Legacy Is Still Haunted by Werewolves

Anyone who knew Warren Zevon prior to 1978, the year his breakthrough third album, Excitable Boy, was released, could tell that he was bound to put out a record like it. The record, Zevon’s lone unqualified public smash, most famously featured a headless Thompson gunner and a werewolf with a taste for chow mein. Some of these eccentric creations can be chalked up to late nights afloat in alcohol: Zevon’s good friend Billy Bob Thornton describes “Werewolves of London” as being written on “a sea of vodka” in the VH1 documentary on the making of Zevon’s final album, 2003’s The Wind. But Zevon’s taste for the macabre predated Excitable Boy. One choice quotation, featured in the oral biography of Zevon compiled by his first wife, Crystal, entitled I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, serves as an early sign of where he would go as a songwriter. After hearing the news of JFK’s assassination over his high school loudspeakers, Zevon looked to his friends and said in a JFK accent, “Jackie, I’ve got this real bad pain in my head.” The headless ghost mercenaries, werewolves, and criminals of Excitable Boy sprung forth from that quip.

Excitable Boy remains the primary gateway into Zevon’s music for new listeners, due primarily to “Werewolves of London”, a charming novelty song that wouldn’t rank among his 20 best tunes. Sure, it’s got a catchy chord progression, and the deliciously dark line “Little old lady got mutilated late last night” might be the best use of consonance in a pop song ever put to tape. Zevon, however, was much more than death’s jester. At his very best, he contends with the greats in the singer-songwriter mold, a fact acknowledged by the wide range of tributes to him after his passing in 2003, with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, and Bob Dylan playing his songs in their live shows. For all of the genius in Excitable Boy, the album also distorts the rich trove of songs in Zevon’s discography. It’s an understandable place to begin one’s experience with him, but in many ways it’s also the wrong one.

To this day, Zevon is primarily regarded as a cult songwriter who had one major hit (“Werewolves of London”) and a couple of still-popular tunes (“Lawyers, Guns, and Money”, “Keep Me in Your Heart”). The uninitiated might look at the tracklist of Excitable Boy and conclude from its stack of classics that it represents a unique distillation of Zevon’s style. But for every “Werewolves of London”, there’s an oddity like “Nighttime in the Switching Yard”, a catchy but insubstantial disco number that achieved what Daft Punk’s 2013 act of retroism Random Access Memories attempted nearly four decades later. The cynicism of “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” remains quintessential Zevon, but its bookend at the beginning of the album is the peppy “Johnny Strikes Up the Band”, which might as well be a Billy Joel song.

Excitable Boy isn’t the only Zevon album to contain its share of oddball moments. Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School (1980) has the goofy “Gorilla, You’re a Desperado”. My Ride’s Here features an earnest but silly Dave Letterman cameo on the hockey tune “Hit Somebody!”. But Excitable Boy contains the sharpest contrasts between peak and weird Zevon. “Johnny Strikes Up the Band” opens up the album pleasantly but inoffensively and is then followed by the black comedy of the dazzling “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner”. The tender “Accidentally Like a Martyr” joins “Hasten Down the Wind” and “Empty-Handed Heart” in the surprisingly deep list of sentimental Zevon songs, yet it rather abruptly segues into the throwaway disco of “Nighttime in the Switching Yard”. Like Zevon himself, Excitable Boy has a tempestuous personality, veering from brilliance to material that is more a product of its time than it is of Zevon’s creativity.

Still, Zevon’s fluff songs have their merits. He called “Werewolves of London” a “dumb song for smart people,” a fair label given that most novelty songs don’t contain such a profundity of cultural references. The surreal image of a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s may be the product of an endless fount of vodka, but it’s nonetheless brilliant and endlessly quotable in its own right. Still, the ups and downs of Excitable Boy are a marked departure from the near-flawless Warren Zevon two years before it. The self-titled album may lack the sensational subject matter of “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” or the comic novelty of “Werewolves of London”, but it has to its credit the baroque piano figure in opener “The French Inhaler” and the masterful “Desperadoes Under the Eaves”, arguably Zevon’s crowning achievement in songwriting. Excitable Boy’s successor, Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School, has its own bumpy moments, but it also showcases Zevon’s desire to merge his singer-songwriter style with the classical composition he grew up studying.

As is the case with many artists, the biggest public appreciation of Zevon’s career did not coincide with his strongest material. His final three albums, which scholar George Plasketes groups together with the title “Deteriorata” in his monograph Warren Zevon: Desperado of Los Angeles, culminated in the release of The Wind and his passing and finally led to a long overdue critical re-evaluation of his work. (In my humble opinion, too many people continue to sleep on 1991’s Mr. Bad Example, a top-five Zevon effort.) But still today, the entry point into Zevon’s career is “Werewolves of London”, which will cause misleading expectations for anyone looking to get into his body of work. Zevon may have written the best dumb song for smart people, but his smart songs are where his greatest treasures lie.

If any song on Excitable Boy functions as a microcosm of Zevon’s brilliance, it’s the title track, which superficially sounds more like a genre experiment like “Nighttime at the Switching Yard” than a Zevon essential. He utilizes a sprightly piano chord progression that’s accented by doo-wop female backup singers, who echo the main refrain of the song: “‘Excitable boy,’ they all said,” he sings, to which the singers assent, “Excitable boy!” At a quick 2:43, “Excitable Boy” would be a trifle in the hands of a lesser lyricist, but Zevon uses the upbeat music as a bleak juxtaposition with his lyrics, which remain one of the best depictions of how male psychosis is facilitated by a permissive, patriarchal society.

The song begins, like so many Zevon songs do, with a strange character study. “Well, he went down to dinner in his Sunday best/ ‘Excitable boy,’ they all said/ Then he rubbed the pot roast all over his chest/ ‘Excitable boy,’ they all said,” he sings. The boy then comes to harm others, biting “an usherette’s leg in the dark” at a movie theatre. Up to this point in the song, however, the boy appears to be an unruly kid in need of some guidance and discipline, not a criminal. A saxophone then joins the female vocalists as the track seems to segue into a jubilant instrumental section, only then to have Zevon take the song in the darkest possible direction. A boy who just seemed odd then becomes pure evil: “He took little Suzie to the junior prom/ ‘Excitable boy,’ they all said/ Then he raped her and killed her, then he took her home/ ‘Excitable boy,’ they all said.” In this turn, Zevon’s song can come across as rape apologia, taking the suffering of a young girl and using it for blackly comedic effect. But the true terror of the song culminates not in the description of the excitable boy’s heinous act, but in the continued repetition of the refrain: “‘Excitable boy,’ they all said.” Nothing is said about the “they” on “Excitable Boy”: is it the boy’s family? His teachers? His community?

Zevon chooses a nameless, faceless “they” because society as a whole enables the excitable boy. By utilizing a harsh contrast between the cheery music and the grave lyrical matter, he highlights the ways in which society not just allows but even facilitates “excitable” behavior. Had those in the boy’s life done something other than mutter, “Boys will be boys” after he bit the usherette, Little Suzie – to say nothing of all the other women in the boy’s life – they could have avoided becoming victims of the violent misogyny in which the boy and those who enabled him participate. In the final stanza of the song, the music quiets down just a bit as Zevon narrates: “After 10 long years, they let him out of the home/ ‘Excitable boy,’ they all said/ Then he dug up her grave and built a cage with her bones/ ‘Excitable boy,’ they all said / Well, he’s just an excitable boy.” The extremity of that action could connote mental illness, but as disturbing as the excitable boy’s actions are, Zevon’s attention centers on the “they” who let him out of the first place, the “they” who can’t see that “excitable” euphemizes the boy’s atrocities and the wider cultural standards of masculinity in which he participates.

Listening to “Excitable Boy” in 2018, Zevon’s diagnosis of toxic masculinity feels all the more relevant. The unrelenting dark humor of the song disqualifies it from being crowned a #MeToo anthem, but that very humor is what makes it an effective depiction of how a patriarchal culture attempts to bury its worst criminal excesses. Zevon himself was a participant in that culture; one of the important revelations of the I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead oral biography is the extensive detailing of his abusive and aggressive personality during the years in which his alcoholism went largely unchecked. He was far from a blameless criticism of masculinity. Some of Zevon’s wrongs documented in I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead are serious, and even those closest to him don’t try to write him a free pass. In that way, “Excitable Boy” distills not just the injustices of patriarchy more broadly, but also certain dynamics in Zevon’s own life that he spent the latter half of it rectifying. “In the songwriting business,” Zevon told Jody Denberg, “There isn’t a section for fiction and nonfiction. It’s all mixed together.”

The major-chord piano music and uptempo quality of “Excitable Boy” make it somewhat natural that “Werewolves of London” follows it, but lyrically “Werewolves” is a sharp deviation from the cultural commentary of the track before it. The distinction between “Excitable Boy” and “Werewolves of London” represents a miniaturized version of the Zevon most people experience and the authentic Zevon that to this day continues to receive little attention.

The mish-mash of high and lowbrow on Excitable Boy lives up to a particularly sharp quotation of Zevon’s given to Newsweek in the late ’70s: “Whereas one of my songs may come off sounding like a satire on The Eagles,” Zevon mused, “It may actually be homage to Bartók.” Zevon, of course, found ways to simultaneously achieve ostensibly contradictory directives. “Excitable Boy” itself shows that Zevon’s music isn’t just fodder for Halloween standards (“Werewolves of London”) or elegiac piano numbers (“Accidentally Like a Martyr”). He wrote songs in the vein of the Laurel Canyon music scene in which he participated (“Mohammed’s Radio”), hard rockers (“Jungle Work”), folk tunes (“Backs Turned Looking Down the Path”), and even hymns (“Don’t Let Us Get Sick”). In that way, Excitable Boy does capture something about Zevon’s entire career: like the man itself, it contains multitudes, and at the level of songwriting it spans the forgettable and the undeniable.

Yet, in revisiting Excitable Boy, a crucial question arises: what if Zevon’s commercial breakthrough had happened with a different album? If the album sales were as effusive as the critical praise for Warren Zevon, would he easily be included on shortlists of the 20th century’s greatest songwriters? Had the proto-cyberpunk of 1989’s Transverse City hit it big, would Zevon have primarily been understood as a literary songwriter and chronicler of the impending technological age? Counterfactuals, those ever-slippery things, are difficult to imagine, and we’ll never know what could have been with certainty. But one thing is for sure: if the common cultural entry point for Zevon wasn’t “Werewolves of London”, requiring people to say, “Hey, you know the guy who wrote ‘Werewolves of London’? He actually wrote some really brilliant stuff,” the sophistication of Zevon’s lyricism would be much more likely to get a fair shake from both critics and listeners.

One of Zevon’s greatest lyrical feats is the song “Genius”, a track on My Ride’s Here co-written with his friend Larry Klein. The song sports some truly great comedic lines (notably, a line about Albert Einstein “making out like Charlie Sheen”), but is noteworthy for its final lines, which read like something Zevon would have wanted put on his gravestone: “If only I could get my record clean/ I’d be a genius.” The power of the line derives in large part from the recognition of his past misdeeds, but it also speaks to the experience of encountering his music as a new listener after his death. I, like many, discovered Zevon after hearing “Werewolves of London” on the radio one day, but after hearing the song, I did what I discovered too few people actually do: I delved into the rest of his discography. After making it through The Wind, I told my 13-year-old self, “I have to go see this guy live.” The year was 2005. In attempting to look up shows, I found he had died two years prior.

Part of my discovery is attributable to not having constant access to the internet, to say nothing of my extremely nascent knowledge of how to navigate it. Most of my friends and family only knew Zevon for “Werewolves of London” and some of the other Excitable Boy tunes, so when I listened through his albums I was only taking the music in and not much of his story. (The astounding and comprehensive I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead came out in 2007 to fill in the gaps). But I like to think that another reason why I believed I could go to a Warren Zevon concert in 2005 is that so much of his music, Excitable Boy included, exudes not just a familiarity but a comfort with death, so much so that I tacitly assumed the reaper would let Zevon die on his own terms. To an extent, he did: his goal was to record a definitive album in the final stretch of his terminal diagnosis, and The Wind is exactly that. When he’s firing on all cylinders, Zevon even now feels imminently, brilliantly alive.

Excitable Boy has some of those moments. Yet, when looking to Zevon’s numerous other achievements, particularly those that fell by the critical and commercial wayside, I can’t help but feel that the primacy of Excitable Boy in the cultural memory of Zevon distorts his artistic achievements. After all these years, we’re still trying to understand the record that Zevon wanted to make clean. But even through the prism of Excitable Boy, for all its ingenuity and imperfection, the genius is still there.

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Dashboard Confessional perform “We Fight” on Conan: Watch

Emo rock veterans Dashboard Confessional are returning on February 9th with their seventh studio album, Crooked Shadows, marking their first LP in eight years. The Chris Carrabba-led group will support the release with an extensive North American tour that kicks off later this month. Ahead of the trek, the band stopped by Conan on Tuesday to perform their Crooked single, “We Fight”. Check out the replay up above.

(Read: The 30 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018)

Dashboard Confessional will be playing a few radio station concerts to close out January before officially heading out on the road. On February 21st, the band will kick off a Canadian leg that will last through mid-March with a show in Vancouver. They’ll commence playing US dates with Philly punk outfit Beach Slang on March 20th in Houston, hitting cities including Boston, Brooklyn, Detroit, San Francisco, and Los Angeles as they continue on through April. Consult the full schedule below, and grab tickets here.

Dashboard Confessional 2018 Tour Dates:
01/19 – Inglewood, CA @ iHeartRadio Alter Ego
01/26 – Rochester, NY @ Marina Jeep Arena
01/27 – Philadelphia, PA @ 104.5 Winter Jawn
01/28 – Wilkes-Barre, PA @ Alt 92.1 Snow Show
02/21 – Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
02/23 – Victoria, BC @ Capital Ballroom
02/25 – Kelowna, BC @ Community Theatre
02/27 – Calgary, AB @ Macewan Hall
02/28 – Edmonton, AB @ Union Hall
03/02 – Saskatoon, SK @ O’Brian’s Event Centre
03/03 – Winnipeg, MB @ Burton Cummings Theatre
03/06 – London, ON @ London Music Hall
03/07 – Ottawa, ON @ Bronson Centre
03/08 – Quebec, QC @ Imperial
03/09 – Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre
03/10 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
03/11 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
03/13 – Oshawa, ON @ Oshawa Music Hall
03/20 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues #
03/21 – Dallas, TX @ House of Blues #
03/23 – Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre #
03/24 – St. Petersburg, FL @ House of Blues #
03/25 – Orlando, FL @ House of Blues #
03/26 – Raleigh, NC @ The Ritz #
03/27 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte #
03/29 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel #
03/30 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues #
03/31 – Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore Silver Spring #
04/02 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Stone Pony #
04/03 – Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues #
04/04 – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s #
04/05 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall #
04/06 – Grand Rapids, MI @ 20 Monroe Live #
04/07 – Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom #
04/08 – Lawrence, KS @ The Granada Theatre #
04/09 – Denver, CO @ The Summit Music Hall #
04/13 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theatre #
04/14 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox #
04/16 – Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades #
04/17 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore #
04/18 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues #
04/20 – Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues #
04/21 – Hollywood, CA @ Hollywood Palladium #

# = w/ Beach Slang

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Dashboard Confessional announce 2018 US headlining tour

Dashboard Confessional are set to drop their seventh studio album, Crooked Shadows, on February 9th. In support, the emo rock veterans have planned out a US headlining tour for early 2018.

(Read: Sad As Fuck: How Early 2000s Emo Became a Subject of Scorn and Salvation)

The trek commences on March 20th in Houston and runs through the end of April. Other cities expected to host the recent Fueled By Ramen signees: Atlanta, Orlando, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Detroit, Seattle, and San Francisco. Philly punk outfit Beach Slang have been tapped to open.

Consult the full itinerary below.

Dashboard Confessional 2017-2018 Tour Dates:
12/04 – Salt Lake City, UT @ X96 Toyota Nightmare Before Xmas
12/06 – Tulsa, OK @ The Edge Christmas Concert
12/07 – St. Louis, MO @ 105.7 The Point HoHo Show
01/27 – Philadelphia, PA @ 104.5 Winter Jawn
01/28 – Wilkes-Barre, PA @ Alt 92.1 Snow Show
03/20 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues #
03/21 – Dallas, TX @ House of Blues #
03/23 – Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre #
03/24 – St. Petersburg, FL @ House of Blues #
03/25 – Orlando, FL @ House of Blues #
03/26 – Raleigh, NC @ The Ritz #
03/27 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte #
03/29 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel #
03/30 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues #
03/31 – Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore Silver Spring #
04/02 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Stone Pony #
04/03 – Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues #
04/04 – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s #
04/05 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall #
04/06 – Grand Rapids, MI @ 20 Monroe Live #
04/07 – Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom #
04/08 – Lawrence, KS @ The Granada Theatre #
04/09 – Denver, CO @ The Summit Music Hall #
04/13 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theatre #
04/14 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox #
04/16 – Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades #
04/17 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore #
04/18 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues #
04/20 – Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues #
04/21 – Hollywood, CA @ Hollywood Palladium #

# = w/ Beach Slang

Revisit Crooked Shadows single “We Fight”:

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Hipster Bruce Springsteen has Lana Del Rey, Sufjan Stevens, and The National on iTunes playlist

Photo by Joshua Mellin

A career in politics may not be in the cards for Bruce Springsteen, but there’s a side gig I’d gladly hire him for ASAP: professional mixtape curator. In a recent interview with Variety, the rock legend revealed some of the artists and songs that make up his iTunes playlist, and it’s a mighty hip bunch. Mom, dad, I hope you’re reading this.

The Boss highlighted Sufjan Stevens, who he described as “great,” as well as The National and Iron & Wine. He also mentioned Steve Earle, commenting, “One of the greatest. I listen to him a lot — he’s always writing songs I wish I’d written.”

(Read: The Top 50 Albums of 1987)

Lin-Manuel Miranda and his Hamilton soundtrack made it onto his digital mix, with Springsteen noting, “An incredible creation, the show was fantastic. High on the list, too, was Lana Del Rey, as the New Jersey native gushed over the extended “Paradise” version of Born to Die (“I love her”).

Springsteen also had some special remarks for Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo album, saying, “I thought that was an amazing creation, especially the arrangements.”

Elsewhere in his chat with Variety’s Jem Aswad, The Boss talked about meeting with renowned producer Rick Rubin, seeing Taylor Swift live with his daughter and her friends, and learning about Rage Against the Machine (“Tom [Morello] can really write”) and Against Me! through his “political/punk” son.

When asked about the surprisingly contemporary nature of his playlist (let’s just say “hipster”), he replied graciously:

“I go back and forth, but I’m always looking for something new that’s inspiring. I’m so well versed in all my old standards — you can always find something new in them — but I’ve mined them pretty well over the years. There’s a lotta good songwriting and tons of good music being made. Music still excites me and it’s an exciting time, but the trick today is you really have to search for it to find it. But I listen quite a bit and it still holds that sacred place in my life. A great song is always inspirational — it makes you want to be great. So I’m always on the lookout.”

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Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace covers The Mountain Goats’ “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton”: Stream

Photo by David Brendan Hall

On April 6th, Merge Records will release I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats: All Hail West Texas, an album featuring covers of each track off The Mountain Goats‘ 2002 album, All Hail West Texas. Set to participate in the project are Andrew Bird, Craig Finn of The Hold Steady, Against Me! singer Laura Jane Grace, and Holy Sons, among others.

Ahead of the LP’s official drop date, each cover will be revealed during a season one episode of I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats, a Mountain Goats-centric podcast featuring frontman John Darnielle. The first episode premiered today and boasted a cover of “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton” by Grace.

(Read: The 50 Most Outrageous Album Covers)

Though the punk rocker debuted her rendition live back in May, this marks its first studio release. “As a songwriter, no other artist has influenced my own work as much,” Grace said of the covers project in a statement. “Darnielle’s ability with words to paint a couple scenes from a story and let your mind imagine the rest of the details is unparalleled and something I’ve always strived to learn from.”

Hear it below.

The Mountain Goats’ 16th studio effort, Goths, came out in May.

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Ted Leo returns with new solo album, The Hanged Man: Stream/download

Photo by Mindy Tucker

Ted Leo celebrates the release of his new solo album, The Hanged Man, today. Apple Music and Spotify users can hear it in full down below.

Self-released and funded through Kickstarter, The Hanged Man marks the singer-songwriter’s 13th studio effort overall. It follows 2010’s The Brutalist Bricks, but is technically Leo’s first album under his own name.

Spanning 14 tracks, the LP was recorded at a home studio in Wakefield, Rhode Island. With the power pop songwriter manning almost all the instruments, it features “familiar sharp bursts of skinny-tie pop-punk — and even these feel streamlined like never before — but they’re offset with an adventurousness in both tone and structure,” according to a press release.

Leo described the time spent working on the record as one of “personal desolation that felt fallow but was actually very fertile.” He elaborated further on his Kickstarter page:

“I probably had enough songs to complete an album a good five years ago, but a number of things – personal and financial – prevented me from doing it. And though it’s always been a constant source of low-level anxiety that so much time continues to pass by, I’ve also come to see that time as a boon. When I missed that first hurdle, that first deadline to PRODUCE SOMETHING, the world didn’t end. Time kept moving, and all of the expectations that I had for MYSELF morphed into a more compassionate and contemplative group of feelings that were more about incubating, honing, experimenting, learning, and rebuilding a certain amount of confidence that I think I’d lost in my stymied relationship with the cycles of releases and promotion and needing support (not just financial) from the label I was working for; and so I started to actually just allow myself that time. It hasn’t always been easy, and I’ve grown and changed some over the long course of working on this. But having the eventual freedom to work on it at my own pace, and in my own space, has allowed this body of songs to change and grow with me. And now we find ourselves in a new political reality, and I find myself compelled to keep writing. We’re close enough, though, that I feel like I can set the stage to finally offer this work to you.”

Although The Hanged Man is the first-ever LP credited solely to Leo, he didn’t go it entirely alone. Chris Wilson of the Pharmacists played drums throughout and longtime collaborator Aimee Mann (whom Leo plays with in The Both) contributed her talents; Jean Grae and Jonathan Coulton also make appearances.

The Hanged Man Artwork: 

ted leo the hanged man stream album new download Ted Leo returns with new solo album, The Hanged Man: Stream/download

The Hanged Man Tracklist: 
01. Moon Out of Phase
02. Used to Believe
03. Can’t Go Back
04. The Future
05. William Weld in the 21st Century
06. The Nazerene
07. Run to the City
08. Gray Havens
09. Make Me Feel Loved
10. The Little Smug Supper Club
11. Anthems of None
12. You’re Like Me
13. Lonsdale Avenue
14. Let’s Stay on the Moon

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Waxahatchee announces US tour dates, shares dreamy new “Recite Remorse” video: Watch

Katie Crutchfield celebrated the release of her impressive new Waxahatchee album, Out in the Storm, this month. Today, she returns with a batch of fall US tour dates in support and new a music video for LP highlight “Recite Remorse”.

The new shows take place in November and feature Canadian post-punk outfit Ought. They also follow a stint over in Europe and a summer run through North America.

Meanwhile, the Ricardo Rivera-directed clip stars Crutchfield as she wanders and slithers through an aquatic, dreamlike setting. The blurry line between reality and beyond suits the song, especially when the singer-songwriter confesses, “I was out of my body.” In a press statement, Rivera offered more details on the visual undertaking:

“I am a video installation artist first and foremost, and this was the perfect opportunity for me to create an interpretive installation. I created an immersive space with layered translucent fabric and video projections and filmed Katie Crutchfield reacting to those elements. Optical layering of imagery onto the fabric and onto Katie created a video effect similar to many music videos of the ’90s, but done in practical way. Dreamy vibes for a dreamy song.”

Watch the video up above and find Crutchfield’s complete tour schedule below.

Waxahatchee 2017 Tour Dates:
07/24 – Seattle, WA @ Neptune
07/25 – Vancouver, BC @ Imperial
07/26 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
07/28 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
07/29 – Los Angeles, CA The Regent
08/01 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
08/02 – Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf
08/04 – Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
08/05 – Austin, TX @ The Mohawk
08/06 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
08/07 – New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks
08/09 – Birmingham, AL @ Saturn
08/10 – Athens, GA @ Athens Pop Fest
08/11 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
08/12 – Raleigh, NC @ North Carolina Museum of Art $
08/13 – Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle
08/14 – Nashville, TN @ Third Man Records
08/15 – Columbus, OH @ Park Street Saloon
08/16 – Detroit, MI @ El Club
08/17 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace
08/18 – Montreal, ON @ Fairmount Theater
08/19 – Boston, MA @ Royale
08/21 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
09/01 – Gdansk, PL @ Soundrive Festival ^
09/03 – North Dorset, UK @ End of the Road Festival ^
09/04 – London, UK @ The Garage ^
09/05 – Manchester, UK @ The Deaf Institute ^
09/06 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club ^
09/07 – Brighton, UK @ Komedia ^
09/08 – Heer, BE @ Deep in the Woods
09/09 – Leffinge, BE @ Leffingeleuren ^
09/11 – Paris, FR @ Le Batofar ^
09/12 – Lyon, FR @ Le Periscope ^
09/13 – Dudingen, CH @ Bad Bonn ^
09/14 – Zurich, CH @ Rote Fabrik ^
09/15 – Capri, IT @ Mattatoio ^
09/16 – Milano, IT @ Biko
09/17 – Munich, DE @ Milla
09/18 – Ljubljana, SI @ Gala Hana ^
09/19 – Vienna, AT @ Arena ^
09/20 – Prague, CZ @ Klub 007 ^
09/22 – Schorndorf, DE @ Manufaktur ^
09/23 – Hamburg, DE @ Reeperbahn Festival ^
09/24 – Lund, SE @ Mejerit ^
09/25 – Goteborg, SE @ Pusterik ^
09/26 – Stockholm, SE @ Obaren ^
09/27 – Copenhagen, DK @ Vega ^
09/28 – Berlin, DE @ Musik & Frieden ^
09/29 – Groningen, NL @ Vera ^
09/30 – Dortmund, DE @ FZW Club ^
10/01 – Amsterdam, NL @ Bitterzoet ^
11/03 – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar &
11/04 – Rehoboth Beach, DE @ Dogfish Head Brewery
11/05 – Jersey City, NJ @ White Eagle Music Hall &
11/07 – Buffalo, NY @ Traif Music Hall
11/08 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Spirit &
11/09 – Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop
11/10 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar &
11/11 – Chattanooga, TN @ Sluggo’s &
11/12 – Tallahassee, FL @ The Wilbury &
11/13 – Gainesville, FL @ The Wooly &
11/14 – Miami, FL @ Gramps &
11/16 – Orlando, FL @ The Social &
11/17 – St. Petersburg, FL @ Et Cultura Festival &
11/18 – Charleston, SC @ The Royal American &
11/19 – Richmond, VA @ Capital Ale House &

$ = w/ Superchunk and Ex Hex
^ = w/ Allison Crutchfield & The Fizz
& = w/ Ought

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Reeperbahn Keeps the Indie Dream Alive for Music Festivals

Photography by Killian Young

Alex Schulz knows exactly when he first felt inspired to start Germany’s Reeperbahn Festival: SXSW 2000. The first iteration of Reeperbahn wouldn’t arrive for over five years after that, but Schulz understood he had seen a festival he wanted to emulate: “The quality is the highest in the world, of course.”

Schulz fought an uphill battle to found a festival — which would eventually meld musical discovery with an impressive array of business-to-business (B2B) sessions — in Hamburg, Germany. At the outset, it was understandably a hard sell.

The dream centered on bringing in a globe-spanning roster of rising talent, 90 to 95 percent being relative unknowns by Schulz’s estimation. Venues questioned whether there was a market to present artists whom the average listener had never heard before.

lydmor killian young 5 Reeperbahn Keeps the Indie Dream Alive for Music Festivals

After six years of securing funding and getting the support of local venues, Schulz’s dream finally became a reality with the first Reeperbahn Festival in 2006. And like in Austin, Hamburg proved the perfect setting to host a dispersed showcase festival. Reeperbahn takes its name from the city’s legendary street and entertainment district. (Its nickname is die sündigste Meile — “the most sinful mile.”)

It’s the only place in Germany where you would find so many theatres and clubs in a row,” Schulz says.

One of the things that struck Schulz about SXSW was how the close proximity of venues made it possible to bounce among shows to find something that suited your tastes. And Reeperbahn has followed suit, growing steadily over the past decade in terms of venues participating, attendance, and events.

This year’s edition will feature over 800 events, including approximately 500 concerts. Nowadays, getting more venues to join in is the easy part, with clubs even outside the central Reeperbahn area asking to host their own shows. It’s refreshing that a local community has rallied so strongly to support new and rising talent.

In America, major companies like Live Nation and AEG are solidifying their strangleholds on the festival circuit, resulting in the homogenization of lineups and events losing their individuality. Schulz is quick to point out that an event like Reeperbahn is wholly different in terms of the type of artists who will perform and how these acts are chosen. For instance, this year’s partner country, Canada, provided approximately 60 lesser-known picks for their showcase, and the festival whittled down their selections to best suit Reeperbahn’s audience. But that’s not to say the Hamburg festival doesn’t have any famous alumni.

Schulz remembers Bon Iver playing back in 2008 when Justin Vernon & co. only had For Emma, Forever Ago to their names. He remembers Ed Sheeran playing to a crowd of less than 1,000 people in 2011. The fun part of the festival is taking in a ton of new music while trying to spot the next indie darling or pop superstar.

Reeperbahn’s NYC showcase perfectly exemplified these ideals during its seven-artist performance at Pianos. The genres of the artists showcased spanned everything from Leyya’s moody synth-pop to Olivier St. Louis’ vibrant funk to We Bless This Mess’ aching, punk-infused folk. Whether it was Carnival Youth’s warm harmonies or Lydmor’s hypnotic dance moves, it’s easy to see how these talented artists could capture the imagination of audiences who didn’t have too much familiarity with them. And it’s even easier to imagine them rocking a packed club or making a strong impression in the early afternoons on the festival circuits.

07 olivier st louis3 Reeperbahn Keeps the Indie Dream Alive for Music Festivals

Even though Reeperbahn won Best Indoor Festival last year at the European Festival Awards, Schulz isn’t resting on his laurels. He still has big dreams for how the festival can grow. For instance, this year, he’d like to have artists use their platforms to encourage voting in a campaign called “Raise Your Voice”. (Germany’s federal elections take place the day after Reeperbahn’s 2017 edition concludes.) Schulz emphasizes that he doesn’t want artists to tell people who to support; he wants to inspire civic engagement.

And the biggest project Schulz has his eye on is the festival’s ANCHOR Award, “an award that recognises promising, international talents on the music scene.” The award is judged by an expert panel, which this year includes Metric’s Emily Haines, Garbage’s Shirley Manson, and David Bowie producer Tony Visconti.

Last year represented the inaugural edition of the award, with soulful singer Albin Lee Meldau taking home the prize. Meldau helped anchor the lineup at the NYC showcase at Pianos and seemed to have the most anticipated set of the evening. Whether it was the wistful “Lou Lou” or “Let Me Go”, the crowd sang and bounced along to singer’s resonant voice.

albin lee meldau killian young 1 Reeperbahn Keeps the Indie Dream Alive for Music Festivals

Schulz hopes that one day the ANCHOR Award will be as prestigious an honor as Cannes Film Festival’s Palm d’Or, with gaining a nomination being analogous to a film being selected by the Toronto International Film Festival or Berlinale. Schulz says there’s something to be said for a human jury endorsing new music, as opposed to an algorithm.

“If you look into radio, it’s getting less and less human-recommended artists,” Schulz says. “We are convinced that music business and music culture needs these people who make up their minds and have very personal opinions on music.”

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Live Review: Reeperbahn Festival Showcase at New York’s Pianos (6/7)

Photography by Killian Young

When I spoke with Reeperbahn Festival founder Alex Schulz, he said that the festival captures its lineup with 90-95 percent of artists who are relatively unknown, but have the potential to make it big. At the Hamburg festival’s NYC showcase at Pianos, as part of A2IM Indie Week, its seven-artist bill definitely highlighted talent who could be gems for early afternoon festival sets in the near future.

Carnival Youth perfectly exemplified this, with their breezy, summer-ready sound. In the main room, the Latvian rockers conjured up good vibes with the piano-driven “Never Have Enough”. With three members who alternated vocals (guitarist Edgar Kaupers, drummer Emīls Kaupers, and keyboardist Roberts Vanags), Carnival Youth were able to vary their sound and harmonize, like on the soaring “Octopus” and rollicking closer “Surf”.

01 carnival youth Live Review: Reeperbahn Festival Showcase at New York’s Pianos (6/7)

After Carnival Youth bid farewell, attention shifted upstairs to the second stage in the lounge. With a two-stage setup, the music literally never stopped from start to finish at Pianos – a blessing for those who grow impatient while waiting between sets. Armed with just an acoustic guitar and his voice, We Bless This Mess took the stage there. But the nearby bar proved to be quite distracting for the singer-songwriter’s set. The Portuguese musician tried to brush it off, diving into “Silence” (which, contrary to its name, was quite the spirited number). His gripes were fair with such a minimalist setup, since it was easy to get drowned out by the surrounding chatter. We Bless This Mess tore through punk-infused folk ballads like “Joy” and “June”. Eventually, his frustrations boiled over, though, with the singer asking, “Can we fucking stop talking? Is that alright?” before closer “Darling”. Despite some angsty songs earlier in the set, the final track ended up being an optimistic stunner, with the singer crooning about hope and the preciousness of living in the moment.

02 we bless this mess Live Review: Reeperbahn Festival Showcase at New York’s Pianos (6/7)

Next up, synth-pop outfit Leyya took the stage in the main space. The cascading sitar intro of “Zoo”, their defiant recent single, entranced the audience from the get-go. Vocalist Sophie Lindinger bounced through pulsing cuts like “I Want You” and “Worthy”.  The dreamy Austrian outfit had a bit more of a hard rock edge live, with guitarist Marco Kleebauer delivering a punchy riff as the sturdy backbone for final track “Butter”.

03 leyya Live Review: Reeperbahn Festival Showcase at New York’s Pianos (6/7)

The music then made its way upstairs again for Lydmor’s dazzling set. The Danish singer-producer proved to be one of the boldest, most fearless performers of the evening. Surrounding herself with four slender neon columns, Lydmor prepared a minimalist, low-light rig. Behind her console, the singer unleashed hypnotic dance moves in a style reminiscent of Grimes or Lorde. Impressively, Lydmor proceeded to break down the boundaries of the stage, sauntering through the crowd and crooning literally inches away from the enraptured audience. Whether it was singing underneath a pulsing blacklight – revealing intricate body paint – or dancing atop tables, the vocalist enchanted the audience with throbbing cuts like “Drugs in My Pocket” and “New Cars and Babies”.

04 lydmor Live Review: Reeperbahn Festival Showcase at New York’s Pianos (6/7)

Back in the main room, Albin Lee Meldau took the stage for what seemed to be the most anticipated set of the evening, with fans cheering the Swedish outfit on from the very beginning. Meldau, who took home the 2016 Anchor Award at Reeperbahn (“an award that recognizes promising, international talents on the music scene”), proved why he’s such a show-stopping singer right from opener “Let Me Go”. Whether it was “Lou Lou” or “Lovers”, Meldau’s rich, sonorous voice carried through the packed room.

05 albin lee meldau Live Review: Reeperbahn Festival Showcase at New York’s Pianos (6/7)

Upstairs, Megan Bonnell emerged in the lounge. The Canadian singer-songwriter effortlessly shifted between piano and acoustic guitar on her gently bubbling tracks. The Toronto vocalist sang through beautiful songs from album Magnolia, like Can’t Have Youand “The Wind”, highlighted by her effervescent voice.

06 megan bonnell Live Review: Reeperbahn Festival Showcase at New York’s Pianos (6/7)

Finally, Olivier St. Louis were tasked with bringing the evening to a close. Just as the energy level of the night seemed to be winding down, the engaging quartet busted through with a rousing mix of funk and soul. “Ain’t Cool” got the crowd moving early, and the funky outfit even covered Thundercat’s “Them Changes” with his bassist rocking a six-string. The highlight of the set came during a call-and-response of the band’s penultimate jam.

07 olivier st louis3 Live Review: Reeperbahn Festival Showcase at New York’s Pianos (6/7)

“New York, this is the part where I ask if I should do it again,” St. Louis teased. “Do it again!” the audience roared. The band reared back, bouncing around the stage and repeating their prior section. “Do it again!” the audience shouted once more. St. Louis gave a big grin, with the band launching into a skewed slow jam of the previous bit, which even morphed into the sludgy closing riff of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”. As the set concluded, the audience begged, “Do it again!” to no avail. After four hours of non-stop music, the audience left hungry for more.

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