Thursday, January 26, 2012

Singled Out - Yukon Blonde's Stairway

Vancouver's Yukon Blonde has a new album coming out. The first single Stairway is good, full of guitars, energy and simple harmonies. Quick hooks go a long way.

A little jealous they won't make it to the DC area on their 62-stop North American tour, but if you're in Philly you should check them out. They'll also be at SXSW.

You can grab the song for free from their SoundCloud page. Their debut album Tiger Talk will be out 20 March on Die Alone Records.

Stream and download Yukon Blonde's Stairway from SoundCloud

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What We're Watching - Mark Ronson's A La Modeliste

This has kinda been ruling my world since I saw it at the beginning of the BCS Championship Game. Trombone Shorty, the artists formerly known as Mos Def, Ms. Badu and the Dap Kings. Plus Mark Ronson behind the boards.

I don't know what the Hyundai/GRAMMY RE:GENERATION project is, and don't really care (what's a Skrillex?). I know this song is excellent.

Singled Out - Glory by Jay-Z ft B.I.C

It's nice of Jay to take a second away from the Lennox Hill Hopsital Suite/Mobile 40/40 club to drop a new track honoring his baby girl. But I almost kinda wished he didn't.

 Jay still is, a magnificent rapper. His word play and flow are, all things considered, consistently remarkable over a long career.

 But that's just it. This is a remarkably unremarkable song for Hov. And it's a remarkably unremarkable song for his first born to boot.

The lyrics are treacle over the top, even given the subject matter. I paint the sky blue? That's real cute. Sounds of her cooing? No. Talk about conception in Paris? Ew. I kinda gave up on it with his line about Destiny's child. I might've thrown up in my mouth a little.

 The only thing redeeming is The Neptune's produced track underneath. Pharrell always turns out

I'm happy for Jay and Beyonce. I wish them all the happiness that their daughter will bring to their life, because I know the happiness that my two boys have brought to mine. But maybe not tribute songs to her or the next one anymore?

 Stream Jay-Z's "Glory" at Life + Times

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Best Albums of 2011 - Three Albums About Los Angeles

"They call Los Angeles the City of Angels. I don't know if I'd call it that exactly, but there are some nice people here."

And so Sam Elliot starts out The Big Lebowski, one of many love odes to Southern California. It always seems bands are writing songs about leaving New York, or missing the South, but with Los Angeles it just seems like home. No one's writing about coming, and surely no one is writing about leaving.

Dawes' sophomore effort Nothing is Wrong fits that bill. It's full of dusty rock n roll seen through the prism of LA, but rooted in the best parts of American folk and Southern rock. It's a music meant for driving, but not too fast, and definitely away from the city. And listening to them wax about charming but sad Angelenos almost makes you think about relocating.

It would take California to bring Ryan Adams back to focus on Ashes and Fire , his finest and most coherent album in years. Working through inner ear problems and clearly loving his marriage to Mandy Moore (still WTF?), he's eschewed the agressive alt country stylings, the metal sidetracks and even his Replacements-style rock for an easy, stripped down, honest album about his life. His voice and songwriting are still as perfect after all these years (Do I Wait, Save Me, Come Home). Does he get mushy and sentimental? Sure, but it works.

Sometimes it's the isolation in a region of 12 million people that gets you. It's being trapped that makes you write. So was the case for Ross Flournoy, who pushed by an NPR songwriting contest found the inspiration for a new band an album. Apex Manor's Year of Magical Drinking is remarkable . Fun and spirited, driven by excellent tracks like I Know These Waters Well and Teenage Blood, it is one of the most accessible and energetic albums out in 2011.