This is going to be a huge post about new music that you may have passed up the past couple of years. But first we just want to quickly let you know that we will be closed this Sunday (June 12th), sorry for any inconvenience but we will be back at it on Monday like usual.
We have a couple midweek recent vinyl releases to feature, then we are revisiting some of the great releases that you may have overlooked for something familiar.
Minor Victories – Minor Victories
A happy accident? A feted coming together of like minds? Something beyond and outside their control? Minor Victories birth and progress has contained elements of all of this and more, both for those on the inside and us lot, looking in through the window. Minor Victories includes members of Mogwai, Editors, and Slowdive, and their self-titled debut is a mix of sighing shoegaze, cinematic wanderlust, and gloomy riffage.
Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered
Untitled Unmastered is a compilation album by American hip hop recording artist Kendrick Lamar. It consists of previously unreleased demos that originated during the recording of Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly, continuing that work’s exploration of politically-charged and psychological themes, as well as its experimentation with free jazz, soul, avant-garde, and funk styles. Upon its release, the compilation album received acclaim from music critics, and it debuted atop on the US Billboard 200.
ICYMI – 18 Albums From the Past 2 Years
Here at Backbeat we love new music, we never stop listening and discovering new bands and albums to fall in love with. Hey, that’s what a record store is all about! Lately though it seems like everyone is a little stuck on the re-issue merry-go-round. We want you to check out these albums you may have overlooked for something familiar. Let’s never stop discovering new music and expanding our palette a little folks, get off that “merry-go-round” and hop on the “roller coaster”.
A is for
Alice in Chains “The Antlers”
Antlers – Familiars – 2014
In seven years together, Brooklyn’s The Antlers have created a quiet revolution in thought and sound with their harrowing and often haunted tales of love unmoored, human frailty and emotional evisceration. On Familiars, their fifth album, and first for new home ANTI-, The Antlers – vocalist / guitarist Peter Silberman, multi-instrumentalist Darby Cicci, and drummer Michael Lerner – have resumed the journey they began with 2009’s Hospice and continued over the next two albums Burst Apart and Undersea, which found the trio picking their way through a labyrinth of fear, doubt, love and loss against a backdrop of layered textural songs that were as deeply atmospheric as they were anthemic. More hopeful in mood than its predecessors, the new album emanates a palpable release of despair and an almost operatic verve on nine songs that took shape over the past year and a half. “We became really obsessed with Alice Coltrane’s Journey in Satchidananda, Charles Mingus’ The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady, and Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew,” says Cicci. “We wanted to connect to the humanity of music from the past,” adds Silberman. “To capture grace and the heart within those performances.” So this time around The Antlers made a soul record in the truest sense of the word.
B is for
The Beatles “Beach House”
Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars – 2015
Thank Your Lucky Stars was the 6th album from Beach House (and 2nd full length of 2015)! The band had the following to say about it: “Thank Your Lucky Stars is our sixth full length record. It was written after Depression Cherry from July 2014 – November 2014 and recorded during the same session as Depression Cherry. The songs came together very quickly and were driven by the lyrics and the narrative. In this way, the record feels very new for us, and a great departure from our last few records. Thematically, this record often feels political. It’s hard to put it into words, but something about the record made us want to release it without the normal “campaign.” We wanted it to simply enter the world and exist.
C is for
Coldplay “Carlton – Vanessa Carlton”
Vanessa Carlton – Liberman – 2015
From Pitchfork: A million years ago, Vanessa Carlton released “A Thousand Miles”, the pop song that launched a generation of piano lessons. Now, she’s released the raw, muted, refreshingly weird Liberman, a record that could share headspaces with Perfume Genius or Angel Olsen.
D is for
The Doors “Damon & Naomi”
Damon & Naomi – Fortune – 2015
Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang started playing music together as the rhythm section, co-songwriters, and sometime singers in Galaxie 500. When that band ended, they continued as a duo, first recording for Shimmy Disc and then on a series of albums for Sub Pop Records. In 2005, they formed their own label (20/20/20) and have since released four further Damon & Naomi albums – The Earth Is Blue, Within These Walls, False Beats and True Hearts, and Fortune.
F is for
Foo Fighters “Flowers”
Flowers – Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do – 2014
London based trio Flowers ends their live shows with singer Rachel Kenedy utterly still, accompanying herself on a one string bass guitar, soul laid bare. It is a stark and quiet moment in comparison to what came before, which can be characterized by Sam Ayres blur of kinetic energy on guitar and Jordan Hockley’s urgent and precision drumming all performed with a sense of minimalism and brevity. It is this minimalist approach that best characterizes the fourteen deceptively simple pop songs that comprise Flowers debut, Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do. Produced by Bernard Butler, Flowers’ genius is in their ability to convey a remarkable amount of emotion with minimal instrumentation. Rachel possesses one of those beautiful pop voices to die for, with echoes of Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins), Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) and Harriet Wheeler (The Sundays). Haunting, mesmerizing and intense, Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do is an impressive calling cared from a sensational new band.
G is for
Green Day “Gallagher – Noel Gallagher”
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday – 2015
Chasing Yesterday is the second studio album by the English rock band Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Written and produced by eponymous frontman Noel Gallagher, the album was recorded in 2014 at Strangeways and Abbey Road Studios in London. It was released on 25 February 2015 by Gallagher’s record label Sour Mash Records, preceded by the singles “In the Heat of the Moment” and “Ballad of the Mighty I”. Chasing Yesterday topped the UK Albums Chart in its first week of release.
H is for
Hendrix “Have and Nice Life”
Have and Nice Life – The Unnatural World – 2014
From Pitchfork: For all its unrelenting gloom, the Connecticut post-punk outfit Have a Nice Life’s six-years-in-the-making second album, The Unnatural World, oozes beauty. Sinuous instead of rigid, bloody instead of embalmed, the album refuses to be frozen in time or place.
K is for
KISS “The King Khan & BBQ Show”
King Khan & BBQ Show – Bad News Boys – 2015
After a five-year hiatus, rock ’n’ roll’s renegade-angel savior The King Khan & BBQ Show returns with a brand new album of high-energy, low-brow rockers! Known as the hottest duo from Montreal to come out of Berlin, the King Khan & BBQ Show is dirty, funny, irreverent and always a good time. Their raw, stripped-down mix of doo-wop, early rock ’n’ roll, soul and punk is drenched in pure energy. Known to their mothers as King Khan and Mark Sultan, these guys make this stuff sound simple, but make no mistake – it takes serious talent as well as balls to pull this off. Bad News Boys takes its title from the original moniker the duo gave themselves when they first started over ten years ago. They recently threatened to revert to this name before deciding that it might make things too confusing.
L is for
Led Zeppelin “Lushes”
Lushes – What Am I Doing – 2014
Lushes are a band born of tensions – between art and math, order and chaos, planning and chance. You can hear it in their songs – taut, twitching art-punk that balance anxiety and elation, often within the space of a few bars. Album opener “Harsh” glides along slowly, feeling like a moody and measured art-rock meditation until you zero in on the words in the chorus: “Harsh on my ears, that’s the way I like it.” This is push-pull music, songs that temper the jagged fitfulness of groups like June of 44 and Slint with the soft-focus sweetness and open-ended song structures of The Sea & Cake and The Notwist.
M is for
Metallica “Magic Castles”
Magic Castles – Starflower – 2015
Magic Castles are a five-piece band from Minneapolis MN. Their sound has been described as droney psychedelic pop, combining the organ drenched hazy atmospherics of mid/late 60s with sun-drenched west coast folk-rock. Magic Castles toured with Brian Jonestown Massacre in 2012 and released a beautiful split single with BJM on Record Store Day spring 2014. Their 2014 sophomore release “Sky Sounds” (‘A’ Recordings) and successful west coast tours sees the rapidly improving band reaching new heights.
N is for
Nirvana “No Joy”
No Joy – More Faithful – 2015
The album bears the fruits of a band that has refined its work ethic in the gulf of time between recording sessions. The outcome – a juxtaposition of unrest and calm, beauty and chaos, truth and fantasy, in the throes of maxed-out amps and hair-whipping guitar goddess rock music – is as unwavering as ever. Where No Joy’s last album, Wait To Pleasure balanced textural differences with the freewheeling novelty of the studio environment, More Faithful documents a much more rigorous creative process and performance. For More Faithful No Joy worked with musician and producer Jorge Elbrecht (Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Chairlift, Lansing-Dreiden). Recording was split between tracking at Brooklyn studio Gary’s Electric and an old farmhouse in Costa Rica. In this rural Costa Rican setting, Elbrecht created a makeshift but nurturing studio environment where he and No Joy did the mixing, overdubs and cut vocals for 12 hours a day. Repairing themselves to an isolated environment strengthened No Joy’s regimented approach to making a record that satisfied their vision. There is no question that More Faithful is the most forward, throttling record No Joy has made, taking their sound to the wall in a brazen display of beauty-laced power. At times More Faithful is heavier than anything they’ve done yet, while also their fastest – riffs shooting upward in discord and drifting down in angelic harmonies.
O is for
Oasis “Odonis Odonis”
Odonis Odonis – Hard Boiled Soft Boiled – 2014
Born out the same Toronto DIY scene that spawned Metz/Soupcans/HSY/Greys, Odonis Odonis cut their teeth at the now defunct Buzz Garage, where they built a solid foundation as a crushing live band. Onstage, Tzenos (vocals, guitar) is flanked by Denholm Whale (bass) and Jarod Gibson (drums). The live show is the point where their diverging influences and hypnotic visual aesthetic collide. 2011’s Hollandaze showcased the band’s ability to create something that was uniquely theirs out of a patchwork of influences as disparate as surf, industrial and old b-movie horror films. No one label fit, so “industrial surf-gaze” was coined. The group returned in 2013 with their Better EP, upping the intensity of their frantic post-punk by focusing in on their talent for tuneful abrasion.
Their follow up and Polaris Prize Nominated Album, Hard Boiled Soft Boiled finds Odonis Odonis pushing their sound into new territory, because much like the hypnotic spiral that came to be associated with the band’s debut record Hollandaze, Odonis Odonis do not follow a linear path.
P is for
Pearl Jam “Parks – Tess Parks”
Tess Parks – Blood Hot – 2013
A native of Toronto, Tess Parks moved to London, England at the age of seventeen where she briefly studied photography before deciding to focus on music. Tess made an impression on industry legend Alan McGee, founder of Creation Records, albeit the timing of their meeting could hardly have been less ideal; McGee was no longer involved in music and Tess was due to move back to Toronto. After moving back to her hometown in 2012, Tess formed a band on the advice of McGee and less than a year after their meeting, he returned to music with his new label, 359 Music. Tess became one of his first signings and released her debut record ‘Blood Hot’ in November 2013 to excellent reviews. One reviewer described her as “Patti Smith on Quaaludes”. Others have mentioned her “gauzy psychedelic sound” and “smouldering voice”. Alan McGee himself said: “She’s only 24 and is already an amazing songwriter… she just doesn’t quite know she is yet … her most beautiful quality is her lack of ego.
R is for
Radiohead “Real Estate”
Real Estate – Atlas – 2014
Atlas, the new album from Real Estate, was recorded over the summer and fall of 2013 with producer Tom Schick [Rufus Wainwright, Mavis Staples, Low]. To commence the follow-up to their sophomore breakout, Days, founding members Martin Courtney (guitar/vocals), Matt Mondanile (guitar) and Alex Bleeker (bass/vocals) were joined by new full-time members, Jackson Pollis(drums) and Matt Kallman (keyboard) and producer Schick this past summer at Wilco’s Chicago studio, The Loft. The songs were recorded over a two-week period and the result is the band’s most collaborative, richly detailed album to date.
S is for
Soundgarden “Secret Cities”
Secret Cities – Walk Me Home – 2014
Having met at band camp and on an internet message board, the trio had made music together for nine years without ever living together in the same city. After recording two albums and a handful of singles via email, they decided it was finally time to enter a real studio where they could play and record together in real time. They chose San Francisco’s Tiny Telephone studio, where Jay Pellicci manned the controls for a week-and-a-half of the most spontaneous, democratic, and visceral recording of their lives. They emerged with Walk Me Home, an album that finally reflects their live chemistry and their diverging lives and musical tastes. Appropriately enough, it took years of traveling in different directions for Secret Cities to make an album that brought them closer together than ever.
T is for
The Tragically Hip “Toy Guitar”
Toy Guitar – In This Mess – 2015
Jack Dalrymple has cultivated a near legendary status with his involvement in One Man Army, Swingin’ Utters, Dead To Me, and The Revolts. Of course, few musicians in punk rock possess a calling card like Jack’s velvety vocals, but his song writing and guitar work are just as renowned. All three talents are on full display in Jack’s latest endeavor, toyGuitar. Filled out by Miles Peck, Rosie Gonce, and Paul Oxborrow, all outstanding musicians in their own right, toyGuitar churns out a hyper-elevated level of garage rock. Based on the raw fuzz of 70’s protopunk and complemented by intricate guitar leads, unbelievably hook laden melodies, and captivating lead and backing vocals, toyGuitar’s ultra-stylized sound even incorporates elements of surf, 60’s soul, and power pop. In This Mess is toyGuitar’s first full-length and first release on Fat. From the Bowie-esque twinge of ‘Human Hyenas’, to an attitude reminiscent of The Stooges on ‘In My Head’, to the hypnotic vibe of ‘Roller Coasters’, every track on In This Mess offers something unique without ever losing the album’s pervasive jolt of energy.
V is for
Van Halen “Vision Fortune”
Vision Fortune – Country Music – 2015
Country Music is the second album by prolific experimentalists Vision Fortune, and their first for ATP Recordings. Recorded during an intense two-month research residency, generously funded by the Cuatroquesos Foundation, in the idyllic yet remote region of Tuscany, Italy, Country Music is both a significant development and audible departure from the sound of the band’s debut Mas Fiestas con el Grupo Vision Fortune. Confined in an expansive country villa for the duration of the project, the group soon found the breathtaking beauty of the area little compensation for the almost complete lack of wheat-and/or gluten-free products, a severely limited selection of DVDs, and minimal recording equipment. Only able to record in scant free hours, and forced to make the most of their immediate sonic environment, the group often had no choice but to forgo their simple daily routines of sampling local gastronomic delicacies and honing their horse-riding skills in order to complete the album.
W is for
White Stripes “Woods”
Woods – With Light and With Love – 2014
“Woods’ brand of pop shamanism has undergone several gradual transformations over their past few albums, but on With Light and With Love, the tinkering reveals an expanded sonic palette that includes singing saw, heavier emphasis on percussion, and a saloon piano that sounds like it was rescued from a flooded basement. Distinct from both the stoned volk of their earliest recordings and the kraut-y dalliances of more recent fare, With Light and With Love showcases a more sophisticated brand of contemporary drug music that owes more to Magical Mystery Tour than motorik. If you’ve ever thought of Woods as a pop group comprised of weirdos, or a weirdo band that happens to excel at playing pop songs almost in spite of itself, With Light and With Love provides a corrective in the form of songs that show these two elements as natural, inextricable bedfellows. Throughout the album, vocals are frequently emitted through Leslie speakers and guitars perform one-string ragas like Sandy Bull reared on shoegaze and skate videos. With Light and With Love is an album of deeply psychedelic, deeply satisfying songs for a new age of searchers, of Don Juan and Animal Chin alike.” – James Toth
Hey did you actually make all the way down here? Good job, now go listen to something new will ya?