Dolly Parton, Blue Smoke

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Blue Smoke, due out May 20, 2014, is Dolly Parton‘s 42nd studio album. Sit back and let that sink in, y’all. It’s vintage Dolly Parton, in the sense that it might not break any new ground, sonically, but yet contains multitudes. No matter which Dolly Parton you like – sassy, sexy, silly, sweet, or bent on saving you – there is something here for you. My Favorites: Unlikely Angel and From Here to the Moon and Back (with Willie Nelson) On the other side of the I Will Always Love You coin is this song about a love that arrives late and unexpectedly, after all hope had been thought lost. The chorus has wormed it’s way into my brain and refused to leave. I suspect it will become the go-to wedding song for people who never expected to be able to be married either at all or ever again. From Here To the Moon and Back, which she shares with Willie Nelson (and originally appeared on To All The Girls . . . (2013), wherein he sang duets with some of the finest ladies in country music today) is probably also destined to be a popular wedding song. This is … Continue reading

Daily Video: The Used, Cry

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Cry, from Imaginary Enemy by The Used: Because Bert McCracken writes the best break-up songs and then performs them looking like he just left a pint of Haagen-Daz melting in his Blanket Nest of Pain. Also because I am seeing them tonight, along with Taking Back Sunday, Sleepwave and tonightalive., and it’s the last real pit I’ll be in for a while. If not forever.

Bobby Bare Jr. and Young Criminals’ Starvation League, Undefeated

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Undefeated, which comes out today (April 15) is Bobby Bare Jr‘s first full-length release since Storm — A Tree — My Mother’s Head (2010). Storm was a solo effort, and landed more on the country end of the spectrum. On Undefeated, he’s backed by a full band, and the tunes are pure roadhouse rock n’ roll: sometimes gritty and aggressive, other times playful. The first thirty seconds of the first track – North of Alabama by Mornin’ – is a burst of static, the audible of equivalent of a fuse being lit and slowly burning down. The rest of the song – the rest of the record, really – is a meditation on the shape of the resulting explosion. The Big Time, a dry, biting, carefully observed exploration of changes wrought by success, is an example of the lighter fare: He’s currently on tour with Cory Branan – New York, your show is this Saturday, at the Mercury Lounge – and in some cities, the documentary about his life Don’t Follow Me (I’m Lost) will be screened before the show. You can also rent it from the REELHOUSE website.

Daily Video: The Gentlemen Thieves, Don’t Worry

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The Gentlemen Thieves are: Ken Taylor (Vocals/Guitar), David Huzyk (Guitar/Vocals), Dylan Ramstead (Bass/Vocals) and Thomas Lesnick (Drums) and they are from Toronto, Canada. This is the video for Don’t Worry, from their upcoming record Uncertainties and it is a one-take home movie lyric video. What it lacks in polish it makes up for in creativity and weird basement-dwelling aliens who seem to be having a rave. NB: Persons with delicate sensibilities, brace yourselves/glance away for a second when the camera starts to move away from the bathroom sink.

Daily Video: Oldtwig, Twigs

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This week’s Friday Night Jam is Twigs, by Oldtwig, a beatmaker, composer, and landscape architect (!) from Paris. It is from Through Hills, which is his first record. It’s a mellow, soothing number, and the video is a visual celebration of spring triumphing over winter. I picked it to share today because a) it’s lovely, b) I feel like this week, not even to mention this winter, has been hard for everyone and we could all use a reminder that the trees will grow new branches and flowers will bloom again some day and c) the combination of animation and live action, especially Rachel Brooker‘s joyful, encouraging dancing, is both surprising and awesome. Oldtwig – Twigs from Phonosaurus on Vimeo.

A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink, Zoë Biggs, The Franklys

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It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss. In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire. The last time I wrote about The Franklys, I shared the awesomely weird video they made for a song called My Love. This past week they released a new single, Puppet, along with another tune called Imaginarium. I happen to prefer Imaginarium, because it has a delicious air of menace, but, since they are both … Continue reading

Daily Video: FAIRCHILD, Burning Feet

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It is not every day you see a music video which successfully makes pointed, sly commentary on what constitutes a “sexy” (or, arguably, “shocking”) video and the gross and ridiculous ways women’s bodies are used in music videos by utilizing a potpourri of visual touchstones that encompass Titanic, Star Wars, Ghost and the videos for George Michael’s Faith, Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines and Jennifer Lopez’s I Luh Ya Papi. And those are just the super obvious ones that I caught in the two times I watched it. But FAIRCHILD, from the Gold Coast, Australia, have pulled it off. Plus the song at the heart of it all, Burning Feet, from the EP of the same name, is a charming pop confection. Here are some of their upcoming shows, if you’d like to go and appreciate them in person: April 12th – Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast (Gold Coast Suns AFL Match) April 26th – The Loft, Gold Coast (Oneway Street Unofficial AFTER Party) May 6th – Baltic Avenue, Toronto (Canadian Music Week) May 10th – Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (Canadian Music Week) May 12th – Cake Shop, New York May 14th – Rendezvous, Seattle May 16th – Silverlake Lounge, Los Angeles Hard … Continue reading

Daily Video, Gary Numan, I Am Dust

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This video, for I Am Dust from Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind) by Gary Numan, was made using a Tachyons + video glitch synth in combination with a HI-8 camera and a CRT television to simulate grainy VHS-style images, and no computer post-production was used. (VHS: those tapes we all used back in the pre-DVD pre-DVR dark ages, when the enjoyment of a significant chunk of popular entertainment depended on the continued strength and resiliance of fickle, degenerating magnetic tape and VCRs we had to set by hand and then hope no-one changed the channel while we were out. We also had to fix mangled cassettes with our pens and carry our CIRCUS magazines home from Tower Records uphill both ways in the snow.) Anyway. It’s a good song, grimy and aggressive and shimmering with industrial menace.

Guest Post: Joy Goes to SXSW, pt. VI: Saturday, March 15

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The sixth and final installment, in which our intrepid reporter won a prize, enjoyed some fine audio engineering and also photographed a clean and tidy toilet. It was apparently that kind of day. Last post I wrote about youthful energy and the fact that SXSW will truly kick your ass. Despite the fact that I’m somewhere just south of 30 myself, I was well and truly dragging by that Saturday. Forget making it downtown by noon: I called it a success that I was out of bed and dressed in real clothes, much less getting coffee near the day’s first venue, by 1pm. Though it helped to know I was on my last day of festivities, it helped even more that I was seeing Kan Wakan again. As much as I’d liked the band before SXSW, I grew to like them expontentially more after seeing them a few times. That’s something I find hard to say about many bands, much less fairly new bands which have been thrown into the pressure cooker of a festival. Like most performers, Kristianne Bautista is appreciative of as much support as fans can offer and will openly admit to stage jitters, but she puts … Continue reading