Personal anecdote time. A few months back, I was meeting with Ralf Hütter, who you may know best as one of the founding members of pioneering electronic group Kraftwerk. Me, I know him from a mutual hobby that Ralf has insisted his involvement with stay private. Anyway, we had met in a cafe in Vienna to discuss, well, I really can’t say what we discussed. Halfway through the meal, though, Ralf’s face opened up, revealing a bed of circuits and wiring.
“Hey Ralf,” I ventured. “If you don’t mind me asking, are you some sort of robot?”
“Robot?” he responded. “Eric, that is crazy. You are being crazy. Are you saying that your face does not suddenly detach once-to-twice a day, revealing the circuitry that makes you the man you are? Of the two of us, I think it is you who is the strange one.”
I can’t prove it, but I am fairly sure the members of Kraftwerk are robots. At the very least, they’re some sort of man machine. Just look at these tour dates, as reported by Pitchfork. For men in their 60s, that’s quite a lot of touring. And some of these dates have both early and late shows? No man could perform so much music in one night. But a man machine, one built to perform the music we mere humans are not capable of recreating, could. Oh, how that man machine could play.
01.21-23.14 - Stockholm, Sweden - Cirkus
03.13-15.14 - Mexico City, Mexico - El Plaza Condesa
03.18-21.14 - Los Angeles, CA - Walt Disney Concert Hall
03.23-25.14 - Oakland, CA - Fox Theater
03.27.14 - Chicago, IL -Riviera Theatre
03.29.14 - Toronto, ON - Sony Centre
03.30.14 - Montreal, QC - Metropolis
04.24-25.14 - Asheville, NC - Moogfest
05.18.14 - Vienna, Austria - Festwochen
07.10.14 - Tremčín, Slovakia - Pohoda Festival
07.18-20.14 - Salacgriva, Latvia - Positivus Festival
08.02.14 - Rattvik, Sweden - Dalhalla
• Kraftwerk: http://www.kraftwerk.com
Evian Christ announces new EP Waterfall and London launch party details, invites you to come to his house to watch the Winter Olympics in the meantime
Boy, the more I poke around on the internet, the more everyone keeps telling me that the work of Evian Christ (a.k.a. UK producer Joshua Leary) “eludes any sort of easy categorization.” And you know what? Who the hell am I to argue with pretty words like those? I’m just not even going to try to discover or explain shit to you about what he sounds like.
Instead I’m just going to say that the dude (who has apparently recently spent his time working on Kanye’s Yeezus, collaborating with conceptual artist Matthew Barney, and performing around town with peeps like Purity Ring, Actress, and Four Tet) has got a new EP coming out on March 17. It’s his first release since 2012’s Kings and Them mixtape (I know, I know; there’s probably some descriptions of the “sound” of that mixtape in that piece, but just ignore those); and it’s all coming at us via Tri Angle Records as a digital download and limited-edition vinyl. I’ll also tell you that he recorded some of it in his hometown of Ellesmere Port, UK and some of it out in New York, and that it was subsequently mixed by Noah Rubin (Pusha T, Wu-Tang Clan) and mastered by Heba Kedry (The Mars Volta, Liturgy, Fis); but THAT sure as heck doesn’t clear too much up, now does it?
Nope, to truly find out what this guy’s all about, you’ll just have to attend the celebratory “Trance Party” that he’ll be throwing at London’s Oval Space on March 21. Travis Scott, Millie & Andrea (Andy Stott and Miles Whittaker), Lil Silva, Sophie, Powell, and Mssingno will all be doing stuff there. You know some of them, maybe, right? Ooh, isn’t the suspense is just killing you!?
(Okay, fine; I suppose you could grab the first single, “Salt Carousel”, off of iTunes right now, or even just listen to it below and spoil the mystery now and forever. Me? I’m gonna keep this willful ignorance going for a while. It’s fun.)
01. Salt Carousel
02. Fuck Idol
New streaming service Beats Music to launch next week, forever causing a fundamental change in the way music industry paradigm shifts are altered
Are you sitting down, readers? Because, well, it’s like this. You’re gonna want to remember where you were the moment when TMT’s own badass rogue renegade newsman extraordinaire delivered the news — after ever-so-slightly tweaking the content he ganked off of Hypebot — that Beats Music (a.k.a. the streaming music service founded by Interscope’s main man Jimmy Iovine and main money-men like Dr. Dre, Luke Wood, Trent Reznor, and Ian Rogers) will officially be having its non-terrestrial launch on January 21, 2014! Boom. Oh, shit… are you fainting???
…So yeah, welcome back! Good thing your co-worker had those smelling salts on him. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah: according to a bunch of industry people that I’ve never met or even talked to firsthand, Beats Music will be launching “in a competitive sector as a premium service.” Basically, that means that there is no awesome “free” version like everyone else has, which I guess puts a rather strong emphasis on this thing being for serious pros like Diplo or whoever. Instead, they’ll offer a 30-day free trial, then start juicing $9.99 a month from you. Although there’s also some deals through AT&T where “Beats Music will be available to customers on a multiline account for $14.99 a month for up to five family members across 10 devices,” and for a limited time, “AT&T wireless customers who subscribe to the family offer of Beats Music get the first 90 days free starting January 24,” so that’s cool! Also, Target will reportedly give customers “30-day free trial cards with the purchase of select electronic items and Beats Music gift cards, and a 30-day free trial for all Target Red Card holders,” but who cares about Target, right? You’re an AT&T man, I can tell.
Anyway, let’s see, more details… it’ll be available on iOS, Android, and Windows, and it claims to pay out the same royalty rate to both major and indie labels and artists (unlike certain Spotify-ishly named companies who’s names I won’t mention). It also claims that it’ll “provide a platform for greater fan interaction” (thank gawd!) and include the following features, all of which promise to revolutionize the way music revolutions structure their revolts from here on out:
• Just For You: “A personalized selection of albums and playlists delivered at least 4 times a day to each user. Selections are delivered based on users’ musical preferences, time of day, activity, and additional cultural and contextual clues.”
• Right Now: “A continuous playlist compiled from users’ answers to four specific questions about their location, their activity, their surroundings, and their musical preference at that moment.”
• Highlights: “Beats Music editorial staff-recommend playlists or albums compiled based on time of year, news, cultural milestones, and new releases worth noting.”
• Find It: “An enhanced browsing function that lets users seek out playlists [and individual songs] by genre, activity or curator.”
But enough from me on this shit, right? You want to know what fucking TRENT REZNOR has to say about all this, don’t you? I know, I know. Here you go:
“Beats Music is based on the belief that all music has value and this concept was instilled in every step of its development. We want it to be just as meaningful for artists as it is for fans.”
—Trent Reznor, Beats Music Chief Creative Officer
You heard the man. Sign up now, or you hate music and aren’t a true artist.
• Beats Music: https://beatsmusic.com
Shackleton announces three-track 12-inch Freezing Opening Thawing, a rhythmic tale of one man and his grocery store chicken breast
On a personal level, there’s an obligation to write about Shackleton (first name Sam), because few other contemporary artists have had the uncanny ability to literally propel the socks off my feet upon listening their music. Taking a cue from your average magician, I urge you to check my feet for strings and to examine the prints on the opposing wall for their forceful authenticity. How fortunate, that inability to maintain softening footwear, because Music for the Quiet Hour (TMT Review) + much of his output leaves one with a certain desire to embrace the ground beneath, unclothed, as one ritualistically traipses about. It’s been a fair while. How about some motivation to keep us moving?
Next week, on January 20, Freezing Opening Thawing strives to serve as intermediate satisfaction until his (presumed) next LP. Shackleton’s own Woe to the Septic Heart label, who’ll be sponsoring the transitionally-named 12-inch, describes it as “having an involved narrative, poly-rhythmic percussive elements and a psychedelic edge.” Achieving an identical meaning, you could simply say, “it’s a release from Shackleton.” Head over here to listen to a few samples, which I’m guessing don’t do the tracks themselves justice, ultimately. A digital version also awaits.
Freezing Opening Thawing tracklisting:
01. Freezing Opening Thawing
02. White Flower with Silvery Eye
03. Silver Keys
• Woe to the Septic Heart: http://www.surus.co.uk/woe-to-the-septic-heart
Liars announce new album Mess out March 25, share first single, will totally get to the dishes first thing tomorrow
I’ve got a riddle for ya: you’re out walking and you come to a fork in the road and you don’t know which way to go. Lucky for you, the guys in Liars are there. You know two of them always lie and one of them always tells the truth, but you don’t know which are which. What one question do you ask that will help you figure out which is the correct direction beyond a shadow of a doubt? Stay tuned after the news post for an answer to this head-scratcher.
Liars have a new album coming out and it’s called Mess and it’s out March 25 on Mute. You can preorder it right now through the Liars store on CD, digital, and vinyl. There’s also a special edition vinyl for which details are forthcoming. In addition to the album, you may or may not also receive a cross-stitched wall hanging made by your very own grandma or whatever that says “Bless This Mess” in big bold letters surrounded by the band’s logo and a really detailed rendering of your gently sleeping face, but DON’T MAKE IT WEIRD, okay?
Mess is supposed to be, well, a little messier than 2012’s WIXIW (TMT Review). Where WIXIW found them with their balls tucked neatly into their Dockers, on Mess you’ll find “Liars with their balls out,” even though it’s winter and really cold out and a lot of people don’t even want to have someone’s balls (no matter how clean they are) in their face while they’re trying to eat lunch, for Pete’s sake. Liars’ Andrew Angus says of the album, “Working on the last record was really doubtful and paranoid, and that’s fine, but it just meant that when work started on this one, it was the exact opposite. It was way more instinctual, fun and confident.” If that sounds like your speed, check out the album trailer below.
In closing, I’m sorry to say that there is no answer to the riddle. No matter what you ask, they’re all just going to say “Facts are facts, and fiction’s fiction” like they do in the chorus of their new song “Mess on a Mission,” (SoundCloud embed below) because that’s how PR blasts work, little bud. If it’s any solace, you can catch the band at a couple tourdates this spring… if you don’t choose the wrong path at the fork and get eaten by territorial wolves before then. Good luck!
01. Mask Maker
02. Vox Tuned D.E.D.
03. I’m No Gold
04. Pro Anti Anti
05. Can’t Hear Well
06. Mess On A Mission
09. Dress Walker
10. Perpetual Village
11. Left Speaker Blown
04.26.14 - Mecca, CA - Desert Daze Festival
04.02-04.14 - Austin, TX - Austin Psych Fest
Brooklyn weirdo folk enthusiasts Woods are back, with a new, even more folked-up sound, plus an even more positive album title. With Light and With Love, the album title that makes you want to hug yourself, is set to drop April 15 on their own Woodsist label in a veritable cornucopia of formats, including CD, LP, and digital. You and yourself can sway in each other’s arms across the ol’ dusty sawdust-covered barn dance floor as you luxuriate in the haunting sounds of singing saw, saloon piano (!!!!), and regular boring old band instruments, for such is the effect of this psychedelic folk pop extravaganza. Listen to track 6, “Leaves Like Glass”:
If you enjoy human company apart from your own self, you can also see Woods live this spring! The band will be touring the finest musical outposts of this great Northern part of this here continent, with stops everywhere from Montreal to Asheville, with of course, an obligatory stop at the Austin Psych Festival.
With Light and With Love tracklisting:
03. With Light and With Love
04. Moving to the Left
05. New Light
06. Leaves Like Glass
07. Twin Steps
08. Full Moon
09. Only the Lonely
10. Feather Man
04.25.14 - Philadelphia, PA - Boot and Saddle
04.26.14 - Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel
04.27.14 - Richmond, VA - Strange Matter
04.28.14 - Asheville, NC - Mothlight
04.29.14 - Atlanta, GA - Masquerade - Purgatory
05.01.14 - Houston, TX - Mangos
05.02.14 - Austin, TX - Austin Psych Festival
05.03.14 - Dallas, TX - Club Dada
05.04.14 - Lawrence, KS - Love Garden’s 24th Anniversary Celebration @ Seed Co. Studios
05.06.14 - St Louis, MO - Firebird
05.07.14 - Chicago, IL - Subterranean
05.09.14 - Toronto, ON - Great Hall (Canadian Music Week)
05.10.14 - Montreal, QC - Il Motore
05.11.14 - Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
05.13.14 - Portland, ME - Space 538
05.14.14 - Boston, MA - Sinclair
05.15.14 - Kingston, NY - BSP Kingston
05.16.14 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
LISTS! Americans love LISTS! Year-end lists, lists with not-at-all-related photos of kittens next to every number, astoundingly stupid Buzzfeed lists! You put a number in front of it, you add a minimal amount of words and a cute animal, and then you watch as people eat that shit up! So I’ll keep this short, because you don’t have an attention span anymore, friendo! Here’s the deal: we all know CD sales keep going doooooown (14.5% as a matter of fact, last year), and even digital downloads are lookin’ sad, thanks to streaming services like Spotify. But vinyl? According to Mashable, sweet/precious vinyl sales grew 32% last year, from 4.5 million in 2012 to 6 million in 2013. So very wow! What sale! Such music industry!
And here are the records that did it! Good job team, high fives, Gatorade, and butt slaps all around. The top-selling vinyl album of 2013 sold 49,000 units, so… don’t let coach down in 2014, okay, guys? Without further ado, for better or for worse, your 2013 Vinyl Overlords:
01. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
02. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
03. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
04. Mumford & Sons – Babel
05. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
06. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
07. Bon Iver – For Emma Forever Ago
08. Lumineers – Lumineers
09. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
10. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience
Leyland Kirby announces new EP Breaks My Heart Each Time, ironically repairing your broken heart because you’d forgotten how to love
Remember how to love? No, none of us do. Love is over. I miss it. Perhaps you too miss it. Ever since “the event,” this massive Earth has lacked warm feeling, along with true affection. But, let me tell you a little bit about a little something my mother liked to call hope. One man can return love to this land, one man can repair our shattered hearts. That man is Leyland Kirby with a new EP, ironically titled Breaks My Heart Each Time.
As reported by self-titled, the new EP will be out February 17 through Apollo Records (the ambient division of R&S). Though he’s put heart-restoring material out as The Caretaker and The Stranger in recent years, Breaks My Heart Every Time will mark his first material under his own name since 2011’s Intrigue & Stuff series. In keeping with Kirby’s inclination to making his music actually about, you know, actual stuff, man, the EP consists of “subtle personal reflections upon his roots in rave and acid house in the UK.” I, too, like to reflect upon the halcyon days of rave and acid house in the UK. Back then, love was alive.
Breaks My Heart Each Time tracklist:
01. Breaks My Heart Each Time
02. Last Ditch Legacy
03. Diminishing Emotion
04. Staring Down the Sun
Not to deliberately ignore the doubtless litany of bands lending their palates toward the production of personalized alcoholic beverages, but it seems Mastodon and Hanson have more in common than just a mutual aptitude for creating instrumentally challenging, musically fierce tunes. (I mean, what is “MMMBop” if not an onomatopoeic call for violence? Luckily the brothers have so far repressed their desire to “da ba doo wop” and potentially send someone to the hospital.)
Yes, no one need doubt Mastodon’s musical bonafides given their discography over the last decade-plus, but little did we know that behind all of that tattooed intensity lies a rather elegant appreciation for the IPA. They give the contents of their glass a swirl. On stage, they spew at the crowd the most uniform stream possible, in the process, resembling fountain sculptures of antiquity. And in a notable step forward as beer connoisseurs, last week it was revealed that the band, in collaboration with British craft beer makers Signature Brew, have come up with their very own, Mastodon-approved beverage: a Double Black IPA called Black Tongue. It’s filled with hops and such; excuse my ignorance. I’m also fairly certain no giraffes were harmed in its creation.
Not much to add beyond that. Check out the short doc below, and look forward to the release of Mastodon’s sixth studio album sometime this year.
• Mastodon: http://www.mastodonrocks.com
285 Kent is closing, but at least we get a few more performances from Laurel Halo, Autre Ne Veut, Dan Deacon, etc.
People in Brooklyn all sad because their favorite DIY venue 285 Kent is closing down. Don’t be sad, people in Brooklyn! Like this hand-painted plaque in my aunt’s bathroom says, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” —Dr. Seuss. (There is really a hand-painted plaque in my aunt’s bathroom saying this. Just FYI.) And although there will be weeping, there will also be much joy, so very wow, for the final four shows at the venue.
The cool kids at Pitchfork and Ad Hoc + Todd P have assembled lineups for these final events that will have you writhing in your seat with the agony of knowing you’ll never again experience such a level of amazingness. (Remember the Dr. Seuss quote. SMILE, friends in Brooklyn, SMILE.) On January 11, you got a Maxmillion Dunbar, a Laurel Halo, a little bit of Autre Ne Veut, some Ital, some Bookworms, and that magickal thing, a Special Guest! Will it be the reanimated corpse of Aleister Crowley? You never know!!! This is BROOKLYN, people, and that witch shit is big again! Go DYE your hair pastel.
The lineup for January 17 includes people like DUST, Dan Deacon, DJ Dog Dick (!!!!!!), Ava Luna, Tonstartssbandht, Uumans, and once again, that mysteeeeeerious Special Guest. (Might it be a DRUID? I think it’s a druid.) January 18 has a special guest headliner (come on, we’re all kidding ourselves if we pretend like it’s anything other than Macaulay Culkin’s pizza band), plus Wolf Eyes, Noveller, Alberich, MV Carbon, Lussuria and Sugarm. Finally, January 19 sees Fucked Up, DIIV, White Lung, Guardian Alien, and Lodro taking the stage. There is no Special Guest listed because the Special Guest is all of you ahhhhhhhhhhh don’t cry, Brooklyn.
• 285 Kent: http://285kentave.com