Following the success of 2011′s The SMiLE Sessions, Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson is releasing a brand new album in April. The artwork above is for No Pier Pressure, which is Wilson’s 11th solo album and features a huge cast of collaborators, including both members of She & Him (M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel), country music darling Kacey Musgraves, fun. singer Nate Ruess, and former Beach Boys members Al Jardine, David Marks, and Blondie Chaplin. Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities is also featured along with plenty of others.
Der Weg Einer Freiheit (translated: “The Way of Freedom”) are a German black metal band that formed in 2008. In a blind taste test, though, I’d have guessed that they formed in Sweden circa 1994. That particular time and place gave rise to a lot of metal niches, but the one I’m thinking of here is a frigid, propulsive brand of black metal that eschews minimalism in favor of clarity, death metal-ish force, and the kind of absurdly majestic melodies that might get you psyched up for an intense cross-country skiing session. Popularized by the likes of Dissection, Dawn, Sacramentum, and many other bands that were fond of blue-and-purple album covers, this style occasionally gets called “melodic black metal” — which is confusing, since virtually all black metal is at least somewhat melodic. That’s metal subgenre terminology for you, though.
Sacred Bones is a dependable label; they have a wide geographic scope, but most of their artists sound like they should be hanging out together in some dark cave, surrounded by a contemplative and gloomy echo. The self-described “cosmic music” band Föllakzoid hail from Chile and will be releasing the full-length III (the follow-up to II) later this year on the Brooklyn-based label. “Electric” is the album’s first single, and it’s a 12-minute-long meditative track that merits the “cosmic” tag — the song sounds like it could trudge on into infinity. Listen below.
Last week, Bob Dylan gave his first interview in three years to AARP Magazine, in which he discussed his forthcoming album, Shadows In The Night, and his love of Frank Sinatra. The new Dylan LP can’t even really be considered his own — it’s a collection of songs that Sinatra made famous way back when Dylan was a kid. Dylan is calling this a Sinatra tribute album, but to be clear, this is a collection of songs that Frank Sinatra performed exceedingly well, songs that he is remembered for, though he may not have been the only person to record them. “That Lucky Old Sun” is a great example — the song was written by the legendary Beasley Smith and Haven Gillespie, and a slew of equally legendary musicians have famously performed it after Sinatra including Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, and Willie Nelson. Sinatra recorded his version the same year it was written, in 1949.
Last year, YouTube announced that it’s getting ready to launch Music Key, its own streaming service. Given all the power that YouTube and its parent company Google wield in the music universe, it’s poised to become an overnight power player in the streaming wars, and it looks like its contracts might be even rougher on artists than those of competitors like Spotify. A few days ago, the cellist and composer Zoë Keating wrote a blog post about her negotiations with YouTube, and it included some troubling informations. To hear her tell it, YouTube is requiring artists to upload their entire catalogs, refusing to let music debut anywhere else before it debuts on YouTube, and demanding that everyone sign five-year contracts. They’re also threatening to block the YouTube channels of anyone who doesn’t comply. (A YouTube “communications manager” has already dismissed Keating’s story as “patently false,” though there seems to be some incoherence on their end.) David Lowery, the Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven frontman who’s become a vocal foe of digital music practices, has now jumped into the conversation, and you can probably imagine that he isn’t too happy about this.
When The Black Keys filmed their Austin City Limits episode last November, they mostly stuck to songs from their 2014 record Turn Blue. But to close out the episode, they performed “Little Black Submarines,” one of the highlights from their 2011 breakout record El Camino. After picking his way through an extended intro, Dan Auerbach launches into the song, keeping it in the slower, acoustic range until it seems like the duo just aren’t going to kick into the next level for this performance. But when the lights dim, it’s just so Auerbach can switch guitars to do the bluesy breakdown justice. Watch the exclusive clip below.
There’s this amazing rock club in Athens, Ohio called the Union, one of those skuzzy dive bars that favors punk and garage rock but plays host to all sorts of sounds. It burned down a few months ago, which was absolutely tragic for those of us who frequented it during our stay at Ohio University — even more so for the longtime residents that spent more than four years haunting the place — but thankfully it’s being rebuilt. One of my best memories from the Union was 10 years ago when I saw a powerful garage-punk double bill featuring the Black Lips and the King Khan & BBQ Show. I remember being blown away by the unbounded energy that coursed through both bands, the way they made basic rock ’n’ roll seem like the only music I would ever need. Mark Sultan (BBQ) and Arish Ahmad Khan (King Khan) have each built up notable solo careers in the ensuing years, but I always think of them as a unit thanks to the impact they left on that night. So it’s awesome to see them touring together again in support of the upcoming Bad News Boys. “Illuminations,” our latest preview of the new record, is exactly the sort of chugging, slugging, barebones rock song these guys specialize in. A few chords, a driving rhythm, some powerful harmonies, and a rad guitar solo add up to a prime garage rock specimen. Hear it below, where you’ll also find their tour dates.
Purity Ring’s sophomore album Another Eternity is easily one of the most anticipated records of 2015. Megan James and Corin Roddick teased “Push Pull” back in December before all the details for the album surfaced along with second single “Begin Again” a few weeks ago. Now they’ve debuted director Renata Kaksha’s visuals for “Push Pull,” which are something of a call back to the album’s artwork. In the clip, James is encased in gossamer threads and wheeling through cosmic landscapes, until the external light begins to come from within her, too. It’s a very Purity Ring aesthetic, continuing their exploration of the messy, complex relationship between the spiritual and physical realms. Watch it below.