Monthly Archives: June 2012
A while back, we discussed the diverse group Cold Blue Kid and their 2012 EP Mimic. But today I want to share an earlier effort by lead singer Alex, the self-titled release Cold Blue Kid. Created solely by Alex in his room with “guitars, vocal pedals, drum machine” and “several bottles of Jameson, twigs and imagination.” It’s an impressive effort considering it was Alex’s first attempt at creating music the way he wanted it to be in a raw, unadulterated state. Grant it, the album is a bit rough, but it’s a grower. The songs have a Kurt Vile tinge to them and they still showcase Alex’s diversity as songs range from mellower tunes like the opening track, “Stay Alive” and “Let Go” to the weird rockers like “White Lie.” Check out the songs below for a sample and be sure to check out the bandcamp for more from the album and a peak at the EP as well.
Cold Blue Kid – Whiskey Eye
Cold Blue Kid – Stay Alive
Work Drugs, along with being synonymous with performance enhancing steroids and Adderall, is also the name of another Philadelphia-based band catching some attention. Work Drugs can be described as a mixture of the chill laid back beach rock of New Jersey’s Real Estate and some 80s synth pop. Gearing up to release their second official album, Absolute Bearing, the two man duo draw heavily from the lo-fi chill-wave feel of the caribbean, and even recorded their new album in the Cayman Islands. This song, “Rad Racer”, is off the group’s self released album, Summer Blood, and is filled with the same vibe and some interesting lyrics about the city, drugs and inner exploration. Check out for the Work Drugs album released later this month and stream all their music on their soundcloud and bandcamp. Oh, and if you are near Philadelphia on July 20th, make sure to check out Work Drugs at the Xponential Music Festival. -D. Gold
It’s nearly impossible to create in a bubble. Without something to inspire, to draw ideas from, one can’t make art. And Heyward Howkins is an expert at drawing from his surroundings. In his debut album, Hale & Hearty (released today), Howkins gathers stories of happiness and also of bitterness, restlessness, and often states of catatonia, an unwillingness to move forward. All of this, on the east coast, mostly around the city of Philadelphia.
The album works almost like a story book, painting pictures of drug abuse like the title track’s “have another bump ‘til it all feels right” and the bittersweet folk tune “Cocaine Bill” which tells the tale of a drug-addled friend. And sometimes it’s not the people that suffer but the city itself. One song in particular, “Spanish Moss” plays a sort of response to The Chili Pepper’s “Under The Bridge” as the singer mourns for his city to the sound of a crackling record and quiet trumpets; a corrupted and wasted place. Even the quiet closer, “Hudson Piers” discusses the tough life of blue-collar workers to the sound of a gently arpeggiated guitar.
But not every song is about suffering and loss. “Plume and Orange” uses birds as a metaphor for young love as two birds find romance. And “Flash Mob” is definitely a standout track for it’s harder hitting guitars and harsh lyrics of taking it to the streets. And, my favorite “The Raucous Calls of Morning” features some of the best female backup vocals, amplifying Heyward and creating intense tension as both sing, “we hammer towards not being so hard,” trying to do right by each other.
All around this album features some of the best folk-rock of the year both lyrically and instrumentally. Howkins uses his voice like a plucked guitar, coming in and out of the songs at will as his own guitar strums along. But the album also features an amazing string and horn section that gives the album it’s unique feeling of quiet fervor. There have already been some great folk albums out this summer (Tallest Man on Earth’s latest, for example) but few tell a story like Howkins can tell one. For some of the best Philly folklore around, check out Hale & Hearty.
P.S. If you’re in the neighborhood, Heyward Howkins is performing tomorrow in Philly at PhilaMOCA
Heyward Howkins – Raucous Calls of Morning
Heyward Howkins – Spanish Moss
“I still watch your tracers as you leave”
Lemonade isn’t a band I’ve given much of a chance. First, it was hard for me to get past the name “Lemonade” and then it took a little while to get into their sound as well. But Lemonade (now I can’t stop using it) really is a band worth hearing. On their latest album, Diver, especially in the song “Soft Kiss” this band takes homage to the 80s to a mellow extreme. ”Softkiss” seems to borrow from the 80s pop music video frame for frame. The band is decked out in preppy haircuts and spiffy outfits, not to mention the weird 80s slow-down frame effect. But what makes this song so good is it’s sincerity. Lemonade may be playing their own brand of 40 year old pop, but they mean every bit of it and they make it their own. Right down to the driving electronic snare and the airy synth parts. Check out the video above.
Just because it’s extremely hot here on the east coast (in the 90s where I am), doesn’t mean you can’t start your weekend off right with a humid summer’s night breeze and Stars in your ears. After two years without any new material, Stars are set to release a new album The North and today they released the first single off the album called, “The Theory of Relativity.” This upbeat electronic tune casually bounces through drugs and experimentation and the effects of time with some beautiful girl/guy duet vocals. Synths hum along in low distorted spurts as the snare drum moves the song along. Things get a little lighter for the chorus, but all around this song really builds and moves along. If you’re goin’ dancing this weekend, keep this song in mind, you won’t be disappointed. Check it out below and look for the album September 4th. (also check out their website for a free download)
Stars – The Theory of Relativity
You probably know The Heavy for their song “How You Like Me Now” which is a little overplayed in commercials these days. But The Heavy are much more than a one hit wonder. They’re a hard-hitting rock n’ roll band with some great tunes under their belt. And now, the British rockers are set to release their second full length The Glorious Dead on August 21st. The first single off the album, “What Makes a Good Man?” seems to blend the modern rock sounds of The Black Keys with some old-fashioned southern soul. Needless to say, it’s a fantastic blend. The Heavy are meant for some great things and I could see this new album turning them into a mainstay of modern rock. Maybe even one of it’s saving graces. Check out the tune below.
The Heavy – What Makes a Good Man?
For those who are not familiar with hiphop producers, The Alchemist is one of those producers that has been around since the late 90s and has worked with some of the industries lead underground rap stars, from his start with Dilated Peoples then to Jadakiss, Cam’ron, and countless others, to name a few. Yet unlike most hiphop producers nowadays, due to the man’s talent and connections, he is readying his 4th studio album, Russian Roulette, to be released on July 17th. The first leak of the album is this song, entitled “Flight Confirmation”, featuring two of the industry’s buzzing artists, Danny Brown and Schoolboy Q. Over chopped guitar riffs and Spanish horn sections, these dudes brag-raps slice through the beat, until a latin dancehall song takes over. Listen for yourself and Enjoy. – D. Gold
Here’s a toe tapping end-of-spring jam for you; the second single off Swing Lo Magellan called “Dance For You.” This upbeat soul-searching song is very different from the first single “Gun Has No Trigger” in style. It moves in such a different direction, that it’s hard to see where this album is gonna end up, but I can’t say I’m not excited to find out. It’s a relatively stripped down track, composed mostly of Dave happily singing around a soft electric snare drum and a guitar (though there are some surprises half-way through the track). Check it out below and see if it doesn’t put a smile on your face.
Grizzly Bear are back with a jazzy new tune from their upcoming fourth studio album. ”Sleeping Ute” is a single reminiscent of Jeff Buckley, with skilled acoustic picking weaving through powerful strums as a distorted electric guitar echoes in the distance. The song also uses some 60s rock style as Droste breaks free of the band to sing, “And I can’t help myself…anymore” before bursting back in to the sound crashing drums. But far from being stuck in the past, this song comes off as refreshing and constantly interesting (not to mention very modern sounding instruments like the synthesizers). It’s a slightly new direction for Grizzly Bear and it has me very excited for this new album. Listen below and check out the tour dates after the break.
Grizzly Bear – Sleeping Ute
“I wanna lay next to you when our glory fades/And I wanna lay next to you, I’ll never turn away”
There’s something about Matthew E. White’s voice that cuts right through me, and I mean that in the best possible way. In his debut single, “One of These Days,” White sings about redemption and love with a voice that soothes, placates and philosophizes. It’s the kind of voice that makes you drift into a dreamy state of mind and your troubles slink away. And while his voices soothes, horns lift and the strings provide a texture grounding the song in strength and optimism. It’s the kind of song you’ll want to hear over and over and over, at least, until White brings us some more masterpieces in August with the release of his debut Big Inner. Check out the jazzy love tune below.