Neil Young has been talking up Pono, a high-fidelity alternative to the MP3 format, for years now, even using space in his 2012 autobiography Waging Heavy Peace to discuss its possibilities (called “PureTone” then). Now, finally, the details of PonoMusic have been revealed and you can pre-order your very own PonoPlayer at a discounted rate ($300; retail is $400) via this Kickstarter campaign. You also have the option to pay the full $400 and have your PonoPlayer “signed” (via laser engraving) by your choice of Beck, Jack White, Patti Smith, Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band, Willie Nelson, and many others.
But hang on. Maybe it’s all the SXSW “innovation” chatter this week, or the fact that PonoMusic’s CEO is named John Hamm, but I’m seeing something very different described on this Kickstarter page than what has been previously hyped. It was my understanding that Pono was going to be a file format combining the convenience of small-size MP3s and the full-spectrum audio quality of FLACs. This was far more exciting to me than the details of the Player, and I know that I was not alone in this basic assumption. In fact, here’s part of Pitchfork’s announcement today:
The Kickstarter page clarifies that Pono is not just a new audio file format. “It is a grassroots movement to keep the heart of music beating,” the Kickstarter reads. “PonoMusic aims to preserve the feeling, spirit, and emotion that the artists put in their original studio recordings.”
Cool quotes, but what the Kickstarter actually clarifies is that Pono is not a new audio file format at all. Instead, the PonoPlayer is equipped to play FLACs. “CD lossless” FLACs, “high-resolution” FLACs, “higher-resolution” FLACs, and “ultra-high resolution” FLACs, but still the same FLACs that have been available as a format since 2001. Also, how could a 128 GB PonoPlayer hold the long-promised “1,000 to 2,000 albums” if they’re all in massive FLAC files? Well, it couldn’t! Not even close! As an updated post on Consequence of Sound reveals, “the device will hold up to 5,000 tracks, which would be about 417 12-song albums.” And that’s at “CD lossless” quality, the lowest of four available on the PonoMusic store.
Does that not matter to you? Seems pretty important to me.
• PonoMusic: http://www.ponomusic.com
Members of Slint and Grails form Watter; self-liquefaction deemed less important than the release of their debut LP
I’ll try not to dramatize. Get ready for the musical equivalent of the famous Predator handshake, complete with subsequently-added nuclear explosion, and if the theatrical version had a third muscly limb slowly inserting a lubricated drumstick in between the two mutually grasping palms. Of course, the original was some sort of handshake-mid-air-arm-wrestle hybrid, so in order to replicate the competitive aspect, Britt Walford of Slint would have to start drumming some knots into the forearms of his now-official bandmates — all in the name of playful camaraderie! Because comrades they are and have been, leading to the more recent happenings that are the subject of this article.
Watter is the new band consisting of Zak Riles (Grails), mutli-instrumentalist Tyler Trotter, and the aforementioned Britt Walford of Slint (among other projects). So, while it might be slightly misleading to label this a true amalgam of Slint and Grails (for which atomic imagery might be more justified), the resulting music earns, perhaps, the expected description. This World, their debut LP out on May 27, is a “stunning combination of heady psychedelic rock, vintage cinematic New Age explorations, and sinister Krautrock,” according to a press release. The album was recorded in their collective studio in Louisville, KY. Okay? Kentucky!? Quit bugging me to give your state a shout-out.
Here’s a somewhat ethereal track off the new album, and beyond that, a few April dates with Om:
This World tracklisting:
01. Rustic Fog
02. Lord I Want More
03. Small Business
04. Bloody monday
06. This World
04.16.14 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall *
04.17.14 - Los Angeles, CA - Center for the Arts Eagle Rock *
04.18.14 - Phoenix, AZ - Crescent Ballroom *
04.19.14 - Albuquerque, NM - Sister *
04.20.14 - Denver, CO - Bluebird Theater *
Forecastle Fest has Outkast, Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, tUnE-yArDs, The Replacements, Spoon, and a shit ton of bourbon
Is Forecastle the answer to this nation’s “Oh God, I want to see the bands at Coachella but please don’t make me go to Coachella ughhhhhghhh Paris Hilton was there I saw it in US Weekly please in the name of all that’s holy” drunken slobbering? Well, “we’re a better Coachella” MAY not be the exact message Forecastle Fest is trying to send, but with Outkast, Slint, The Replacements, Jack White, and Beck all performing, well let’s just take a moment to mutter a few words of thanks/sacrifice a goat/whatever your religious beliefs motivate you to do because now we can all go to Louisville, where the people are gracious, the ponies are a-racin’, and the natives worship the old gods, i.e. Bourbon.
Which isn’t to say that Forecastle has the same acts as Coachella just sans mind-numbing heat and loud hippie tent sex reverberating through your campsite! No! Forecastle also has Spoon, Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, tUnE-yArDs, Waxahatchee, Band of Horses, Dwight Yoakam, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Local Natives, and more! Are any of those other people playing Coachella? Shit, I don’t know! I’m on my 17th mint julep! And so shall it also be for you, when you’re basking in the summery glow of downtown Louisville from July 18-20, buying a shit ton of juleps because you saved so much money (weekend passes start at $144.50 plus fees) from the Bourbon Lodge, where they’ll have bourbon education, offerings, booze-inspired food, and more! (More means t-shirts. Always in this context. XXL t-shirts.) Tickets are now on sale, and full lineup (so far) is below.
Outkast, Jack White, Beck, The Replacements, Ray Lamontagne, Band of Horses, Spoon, Nickel Creek, Dwight Yoakam, Twenty One Pilots, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Local Natives, Gary Clark Jr., Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Jenny Lewis, Trampled By Turtles, Lord Huron, tUnE-yArDs, JJ Grey & Mofro, Action Bronson, Slint, Flume, Against Me!, Sun Kil Moon, Sharon Van Etten, The Black Lips, St. Lucia, Brett Dennen, Tourist, Lucius, Nightmares on Wax (live), Charli XCX, Claude VonStroke, Spanish Gold, Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, The Soul Rebels, Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, Reignwolf, Waxahatchee, Chrome Sparks, Hayes Carll, Willie Watson, Foy Vance, Hurray For the Riff Raff, The Districts, Benjamin Booker, Johnnyswim, Leagues, Old Baby, Blue Sky Black Death, Matrimony, Mount Moriah, Seluah, The Weeks, JaLin Roze, Young & Sick, Jill Andrews, The Wans, Goodbye June.
• Forecastle Fest: http://forecastlefest.com
If you’re like me (and you live in a non-tropical climate), then you’ve been coping with this bleak, terrible, colorless, and never-ending winter the only way one possibly can: by listening to as much soft, spacey, ambient Harold Budd shit as possible. Fuck you, winter. I’ll be in my cocoon a.k.a. the Pavilion of Dreams!
However, if you’re less of a wiener and more like Vancouver’s incredibly brash and fearlessly noisy punk sons-of-bitches White Lung instead, you’re probably coping with it a little more like they are: by signing with Domino for a new apocalyptic mindfreak of a shredder called “Drown with the Monster.” They’ll be releasing said track as a 7-inch on April 29, and you can pre-order it now at Domino’s website. Granted, winter will probably be long-gone by the end of April when this actually comes out; but GOD KNOWS we’re all going to be residually angry about it for, like, the next three years, easy.
Either way, you’ve got options. Either check out the official video below, or meet me back in the cocoon in five. I’m gonna go take a piss real quick and reload on patchouli and dandelion root tea…
[Photo: Pooneh Ghana]
Yann Tiersen is like that kid in elementary school who was always more interesting than you. Your family went to Disney World over spring break? This kid’s family went to Brazil. Your mom taught you how to ride a bike? This kid’s uncle taught him how to sail a BOAT. Your dad works as a private investigator? This kid’s dad is a motherfucking CIA OPERATIVE. But it’s cool everybody, because Yann Tiersen wants to share the wonder of being Yann Tiersen with you all. And that’s why he’s giving the world ∞ (Infinity), the most unGoogleable album title this side of Prince’s whole early-90s deal.
Infinity, the followup to 2011’s Skyline, comes out May 20 via the always lovely Mute Records. You can check out two video “prologues” to the album below, filmed on Ushant Island in Tiersen’ native Brittany. The album was crafted in both Iceland and Ushant Island, and features speakers of crazy-awesome languages like Breton (Ar Maen Bihan), Faroese (Grønjørð), and Icelandic (Steinn). It was produced by Gareth Jones (Depeche Mode, Einstürzende Neubauten, Wire) and Mute founder Daniel Miller. Tiersen’s intimate 300-person show at London’s ICA sold out within five hours, but he’s playing selected glamorous cities over a very leisurely few months.
05.14.14 - London, UK - ICA
05.31.14 - New York, NY - The Highline Ballroom
09.26.14 - London, UK - Royal Festival Hall
10.27.14 - Paris, France - Olympia
∞ (Infinity) tracklisting:
01. Slippery Stones
02. Midsummer Evening
03. Ar Maen Bihan
07. In Our Minds
08. The Crossing
A Winged Victory for the Sullen perform an auditory striptease with upcoming EP Atomos VII; new full-length set for release later this year
I’m listening to Kayo Dot right now, so allow me to channel what little knowledge of ballet I have by making a reasonable judgment on why rock-ish scores generally haven’t worked and don’t work in such a setting: the uncontrollable growing of that stereotypical long hair! Disregard, perhaps, more reasonable assumptions that the tone of rock music has a tendency to conjure disharmony with the fluid and graceful motions of the dancers; there’s actually a reason why the ladies of ballet commonly have their hair so tightly-packed into a virtual helmet around their skull — any melodic meandering into that once-devil music coaxes a follicular explosion! And don’t forget the emerging track marks! It really is a phenomenon. I’m surprised I’m the first to report on it.
Not wanting to tarnish with freakish controversy his legendary career as a choreographer, founder and Artistic Director of Random Dance, Wayne McGregor, recently commissioned A Winged Victory for the Sullen, whose music he had regularly played at practice following their self-titled debut (TMT Review), to score a long-form dance piece, Atomos. We’ll have to wait until later this year for the full-length version of that score, but in the meantime, the duo of Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O’Halloran have a preparatory EP, Atomos VII, coming out April 29.
The EP features a track from the upcoming Atomos, an “outtake” from their debut LP, and a remix of the title track from Ben Frost, who’s no stranger to scoring himself, if you’ve been following his movements. That’s neither a sports nor a sexual reference, though I could totally believe the latter, given his sumptuous facial hair.
Atomos VII tracklisting:
01. Atomos VII
02. Minuet for a Cheap Piano One
03. Atomos VII (Greenhouse Reinterpretation) (w/ Ben Frost)
Red Bull Music Academy purchases New York City, hosts 15 shows in May: Panda Bear, Autre Ne Veut, Wolf Eyes, Lucrecia Dalt, Lit City Trax, many more
Imagine: prep school blazers. Hot teens from Gossip Girl. Smoking weed and cutting class and not giving a fuuuuuuuck cuz ya daddy’s rich. And lots and lots of Red Bull. Okay, so Red Bull Music Academy NYC 2014 is actually nothing like that; it’s a ton of high-profile music events happening in a short amount of time in New York. Plus lots and lots of Red Bull.
SO MANY EVENTS! Over the course of May, Red Bull is gonna make crazy shit happen all over NYC. There’s Panda Bear. Autre Ne Veut. Wolf Eyes. Lucrecia Dalt. David Byrne, Kele from Bloc Party, Alexis from Hot Chip, and a whole bunch of other people paying tribute to William Onyeabor, the mysterious 1970s Nigerian synth/funk guy whose music has been most recently pushed by Luaka Bop but, like, nobody knows where he is or what happened to him and probably everyone wants to Searching for Sugarman him. The premiere of Robert Henke’s “audio/visual spectacle” Lumière with a soundtrack by The (mighty) Haxan Cloak. A lecture with D’Angelo at the Brooklyn Museum.
Basically it’s like Christmas, Halloween, and Mardi Gras all rolled into one, plus more caffeine. Full details/dates/answers to life’s burning questions here.
• RBMA: http://www.redbull.com
[Photo: Tony Blasko]
Lykke Li shares first track from new album, plots tourdates, also has breathtaking album trailer featuring a chimp on a motorbike from the future
Swedish singer/songwriter Lykke Li is back with a new album, I Never Learn, due May 5 on LL/Atlantic Records. Idolator is calling it “the final installment in a loose conceptual trilogy,” which started with the singer’s debut full-length Youth Novels (TMT Review) and continued with 2011’s Wounded Rhymes (TMT Review). The new album will bring Lykke Li’s epic song cycle about the travails of a motorcycle-riding chimp in a post-apocalyptic carnival to a conclusion. Wait, what? That’s not what the “loose concept” of the trilogy has been about? Oh, it’s about looooove? Ohhhhh okaaaaaay yeah that’s pretttttttttty conceptual.
In any case, you can check out the haunting album trailer for I Never Learn below, followed by the video for album track “Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone.” The trailer includes evocative footage of Lykke Li in a dramatic high priestess-y robe, and someone walking around in a house where people have either moved out, leaving behind the detritus of their broken dreams/lives (conceptual!), or been DRIVEN out by an off-the-rails motorcycle-riding chimp. Your call, dear readers.
I Never Learn tracklist:
01. I Never Learn
02. No Rest for the Wicked
03. Just Like a Dream
06. Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone
07. Never Gonna Love Again
08. Heart of Steel
09. Sleeping Alone
And here are the tourdates announced so far:
04.24.14 - Stockholm, Sweden - Berns
04.27.14 - Brussels, Belgium - AB
04.29.14 - Berlin, Germany - Astra
04.30.14 - Munich, Germany - Kesselhaus
05.02.14 - Cologne, Germany - E-Werk
05.03.14 - Utrecht, Netherlands - Tivolivredenburg
05.06.14 - Paris, France - Trianon
05.08.14 - London, UK - Village Underground
05.09.14 - London, UK - Village Underground
05.15.14 - New York City, NY - Apollo Theatre
05.19.14 - Los Angeles, CA - The Theatre at the Ace Hotel
Liars are back with a new album, an absolutely bonkers-sounding remix track, and an album teaser trailer that’ll make you say, “Why did I just watch that?” That’s right: Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill, and Julian Gross are celebrating the release of Mess, due March 25 on Mute, the record label God himself prefers. To get the party started, here’s the remix of lead track “Mess on a Mission” by friends of the band Black Bananas, followed by the album trailer, which features a rainbow laser shooting out of things you’d expect it to, like an ocean pier, the men’s room, and a car’s fuel tank. You know, STUFF.
And guess what? The boys and their laser are hitting the road this spring to promote Mess! They’re kicking it all off with a stint at Desert Daze, then on to Austin Psych Fest, then a few cities, then Sasquatch! Fest, then a few more cities. The album was produced by Angus Andrew and mixed by Timothy “Q” Wiles (VCMG). It will be available on CD/double vinyl/digital. Limited-edition vinyl is already sold out.
04.26.14- Mecca, CA - Desert Daze Festival
05.02-04.14 - Austin, TX - Austin Psych Fest
05.07.14 - Philadelphia, PA - Underground Arts
05.08.14 - New York, NY - Le Poisson Rouge
05.09.14 - Brooklyn, NY - The Wick
05.10.14 - Allston, MA - Brighton Music Hall
05.23.14 - George, WA - Sasquatch! Music Festival
05.24.14 - Portland, OR - Star Theater
05.27.14 - Los Angeles, CA - The Fonda Theatre
Fear of Men cower to the mythical male telling them to release more music, announce Loom LP, North American tour dates
No, Jessica, quit being so accusatory! I haven’t said I’m a seer, and just because I, along with my brethren in the Oracular Order, gather every Tuesday night for a cloaked consumption of Grand Slamwiches at the local Denny’s doesn’t mean I seriously think I can predict the future — no matter what you suggest in that relevant track off the new (and as it turns out, old) Fear of Men album! And now you’re strangling me for some reason. Society hasn’t known such an aversion to foresight since elementary school kids when they’re alerted of a snow-turned-rain storm. Meteorologists: the secret players of youthful emotion.
In reality, even if we hadn’t been afforded a press release on the subject, it wouldn’t have been hard to predict the release of Fear of Men’s new album Loom, which comes out via Kanine on April 22 (or April 19 if you want the Record Store Day-approved super-limited two-colored deluxe vinyl edition of stupendousness). The endearingly impassive lyrical delivery on Early Fragments (TMT Review; among our favorites of last year), along with the album’s unembellished pop melodies, might’ve inspired recollection of a litany of bands preceding them, but just as that wasn’t a hindrance to getting started in the first place, neither is that a reason to keep from moving forward.
Early Fragments is a collection of previously released singles. That essentially makes Loom their debut LP, and it’s an oddly refreshing thing to listen to in 2014. Who said emotional honesty needs to come with a performance fit for an Oscar nomination? Points for referencing recent pop culture happenings? Listen to a track below. Also, peruse these still-warm North American tour dates.
03. Green Sea