The Walkmen “In the New Year”

The Walkmen have prepped their fourth official full-length album, You & Me, due August 19th on Gigantic Records. Written and recorded over the past two years between studios in Mississippi and New York City, You & Me is 14 tracks spanning over 60 minutes and bears the marks of engineer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Hold Steady, Dinosaur Jr.) and Chris Zane (Les Savy Fav, The White Rabbits, Asobi Seksu). Pitchfork got first dibs on the album, releasing “In the New Year” yesterday and describing the new single as “more giving and direct than most Walkmen songs, sending familiar themes– romance, the new year– billowing out to grander proportions through the force of the performance.” Listen to it here or on their Myspace page here and mark your calendar for what are sure to be sold out shows at the dates below.


PAS/CAL Was Raised On Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura

Summer is in full swing, and we’re all being rewarded with the release of Pas/Cal‘s highly-anticipated, full-length debut! Set to drop on July 22nd, I Was Raised On Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura , fits in well with the sunny season we’ve been waiting for all year long. Thus far, the band’s six-year career has awarded listeners with three EPs — The Handbag Memoirs (2002), Oh Honey, We’re Ridiculous (2004 ), and Dear Sir (2006 ). But the fourth time would seem to be the charm for this uniquely happy Detroit-based group, currently being praised by Stereogum, Pitchfork, and a host of others. It’s deserved adoration. Indeed, MMLL is such a bewitching concoction of breezy pop, krautrock, Stereolab references, and genre-flaying that it left Detour Mag grasping for a description. “Spectorian-kraut-baroque-weird-pop” might be a mouthful. But we’ll agree. Throughout, there’s masterful use of organ effects, cooing “oohs” and “aahs” to enhance, and everything in between. For a slower but still catchy tune, check out the percussively-focused little ditty “You Were Too Old For Me.” For driving with the windows open or top down, you’ll want to blast “Little Red Radio” and its catchy organ lick and head-bobbing goodness.

MP3: PAS/CAL – “You Were Too Old For Me”

Amy Ray Preps Solo Album For Summer Release

Atlanta-based songwriter, and perennial Indigo Girl, Amy Ray is set to release her third solo album on August 5th. Didn’t It Feel Kinder , the surprisingly brawny follow-up to 2004’s Prom, once again trades in Ray’s acoustic guitar for an electric, and reaffirms her position as one of the most striking voices in contemporary music. But what might come as a surprise this time out is that, for the very first time, Kinder finds Ray enlisting the aid of a producer for her solo work. It’s a choice that most certainly pays off. Fearless listener and multi-talented musician, Greg Griffith (The Butchies, Le Tigre), worked with Ray to incorporate a variety of sounds and influences to bring to life her most engaging, dynamic work yet.

From the clattering riot grrl bounce of “Blame Is A Killer,” to the reserved beauty of album-opener “Birds of A Feather,” Kinder is a record to which any listener can relate. And, and it wouldn’t be a Ray album if she didn’t bring along a few of her friends: former Butchies Kaia Wilson, Melissa York and Griffith, Madonna-collaborator Tomi Martin, Brandi Carlile and the indie-fried boys of Arizona.

MP3: Amy Ray – “Blame Is A Killer”


Ample Samples; If Ya Don’t Know, Ya Betta Ask Somebody

It’s the summer of 2002 at a major label in midtown NY. The interns are all settled in and learning where the extra staples are and how to forward the phone calls. The work flow is flowin’, the AC is humming and the radio has been pumping the classic rock all day. Suddenly The Doors‘ “Five to One” comes on. The volume is up, the drums are pulsing and all of the heads in our row of cubicles are nodding. “Great tune,” says my co-worker. Without missing a beat (no pun intended) our intern turns to my co-worker and says, “Yo…I didn’t know you like Jay-Z! This song is blazin’!”

Should we laugh? Should we throw something at him? HR probably would have frowned upon both options, so we went with the look of frightened surprise and immediate correction. “This is the Doors, dude! Not Jay-Z.” Now strap in and hold on for this next part, cause then the intern says, “Oh,” with a perplexed gaze and an accepting head nod. “So the Doors play Jay-Z songs?”

Shhhhhh…shhhhh. Don’t get angry. Its easy to flip into music guru mode and go off on a passive aggressive diatribe showing off your vast musical knowledge and belittling the intern, but take the high road my friends. Don’t hate on sample heavy artists and don’t hate on knowledgably light fans. Samples bridge gaps and expose different generations to different styles of music, all the while sharing the same line of reasoning behind what makes the song great. It’s a symbiotic relationship, so let’s educate rather than condescend.

Take for example The Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache.” The drums in that song inspired a laundry list of some of the greatest rappers of all time. Like who? Like how’s this for a list of credentials: 2 Live Crew, Apache, Breeze, Busta Rhymes, Busy Bee, Chubb Rock, Coldcut, Dee Patten, Digital, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Double D & Steinski, Everlast, Faith Evans ft Black Rob, Freddie Foxx, Freestylers, Sound of London, Geto Boys, Goldie, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Hammer, Insane Poetry, J. Majik, Jive All Stars, Kool G Rap, Kool Moe Dee, KRS-One, Leaders of the New School, LL Cool J, Moby, Nas, Run-DMC, Schoolly D, Sugarhill Gang, Tone Loc,West Street Mob, and Young MC, just to name a few.

And from there we can look to see how fellow rapper and producer MF Doom struck a chord with Ghostface Killah on his monster record Fishscale. Sampling MF Doom’s “Fenugreek,” Ghost’s “9 milli bros.” is one of the most banging tracks on the record.

From Dr. Dre and the rest of the NWA crew popping on a Brass Construction record, listening to “The Message” and creating “I Aint Tha 1,” to Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand The Rain” helping to put Missy Elliot on the map in Supa Dupa fly fashion, we need to show music fans of today that samples use the momentum of yesteryear to propel their favorite artists of today.

And speaking of launching careers, Pharoah Monch pummeled onto the scene (pun intended this time) with the use of Akira Ifukube’s “Godzilla’s Theme (from “Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah”).

A post about samples wouldn’t be complete without paying homage to the one and only Wu Tang Clan (comin at ya). Their samples are vast and the beats are insane, and it’s a really fun moment when you sit and listen to a compilation like Fallin Off The Reel Vol. 1 , hear El Michaels Affair’s “CREAM,” (Yes, that’s right…not only a sample in the song, but as the title as well) and start envisioning RZA sitting and listening to that record, digging out the sample and laying down the beat.

So there you have it. Samples are all around us and have inspired a generation of artists and fans while simultaneously paying homage and breathing new life into the music of some of the greatest and most soulful artists of all time. And if you don’t know those artists, ya betta ask somebody. Take a cue from the Wu, throw an “S” in front of “C.R.E.A.M.” and scream: Sample Cuts Rule Everything Around Me, SCREAM get the money…dolla dolla bill ya’ll.

Teenage Jesus Superstar

(image from Pitchfork‘s photo stream )

This past Friday, nearly three decades after playing their last show as a “group,” seminal No Wave provocateurs Teenage Jesus & The Jerks played 2 packed-to-the-rafters sets at New York’s Knitting Factory. This unlikely “one-night only reunion” occurred in conjunction with the release of the book No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground. New York 1976-1980, a visual chronicle of the short-lived but highly influential movement by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and veteran critical gadfly Byron Coley [Forced Exposure, Spin, The Wire, and many many others]. A “definitive anthology” of the band titled Shut And Bleed is also scheduled to be released later this year via Atavistic Records. In addition to Teenage Jesus’ studio output, which was previously issued by Atavistic as a 12-track, 19-minute collection titled Everything in 1995, it will include previously unissued live recordings, as well as recordings by frontwoman Lydia Lunch’s concurrent project Beirut Slump.

As might be expected, the event drew a fairly impressive assemblage of personalities, from older folk who had seen Teenage Jesus the first time around, to sixteen year old kids who would have been in short pants when the group’s recordings first became somewhat readily available via reissues. The festivities kicked off at the opening of the accompanying gallery exhibit across the street at 73 Leonard St., where original flyers, photographs, magazines, and records were on display, and visitors could bump elbows with various members of bands like The Contortions and The Gynecologists while they perused the photographs. The two authors held court for a while before the oppressive heat and need for nicotine drove most in attendance out into the street prior to the doors being opened.

More after the jump.