One of the best songs on Arcade Fire’s latest album Reflektor is Afterlife, an epic piece of work that has to be on a short list for best tracks of the year. It’s a song that evokes emotion and deserves an equally moving film to go with it. The Spike Jonze-directed video for the YouTube Music Awards early last month didn’t quite do the song justice. But this recently released video produced by the Creators Project and directed by Emily Kai Bock is really stunning. Watch it below.
Bock has made memorable videos for other artists from Grizzly Bear to Grimes to Majical Cloudz. Read an interview with her here.
If you’re a fan of Waxahatchee (like me), chances are you’ll like Swearin’, the band led by Allison Crutchfield. Allison is the twin sister of Katie Crutchfield, who performs as Waxahatchee. The musical styles of the two projects are not exactly the same (though they’re not radically different, either).
Where Waxahatchee may remind you of Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville, Swearin’ summons another ’90s icon, the Breeders. Neither of these Crutchfields are knockoffs, but the mid-90s reference points are obvious. Born in 1989, the Crutchfield girls began playing in bands together in their teens in Alabama.
Certainly, Allison Crutchfield and Swearin’ deserve to be more than a footnote to Waxahatchee’s great release this year, Cerulean Salt. Swearin’ made a fine album itself with the recently released Surfing Strange.
Swearin’ plays Township Thursday.
Chicago’s Radar Eyes is about to rerelease its 2012 self-titled album next month on cassette! Check out this video for Side of the Road.
Here’s a new video from Islands for Wave Forms off the new album Ski Mask.
New York singer Hayley Coupon performs her take of Tame Impala’s Feels Like We Only Go Backwards. And she does it unplugged sitting in an apartment!
Take a look at this new video from Diane Coffee, the solo project of Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming. The song is Green from Fleming’s debut My Friend Fish.
Here’s a new video from Los Angeles band Obliterations for the song Wage Slaves. It’s pretty subtle. So you’ll have to pay close attention.
There’s no shortage of hype around Arcade Fire’s new album Reflektor. The thing is: The hype may be justified. An Album of the Year Grammy winner, The Suburbs was a fine release but Reflektor is far more adventurous and interesting. With the help of producer James Murphy, Reflektor blends Caribbean beats, disco, punk and pop to create a mish-mash of musical styles that actually do form a cohesive album. As a fan of Murphy’s work, I hear the influences throughout and wholeheartedly embrace the production even as a longtime Arcade Fire loyalist. This is a much different sound than the earnestness of Neon Bible.
Early reviews (both derisive and favorable) for Reflektor point to comparisons with the Clash’s Sandinista! That was the first thing that struck me when I heard Flashbulb Eyes followed by Here Comes the Night Time on the first ”disc” (the physical versions are released as a double album). Those two early songs, one dub style followed by a calypso-sounding number, is reminiscent of the multi-genre Clash classic made more than 30 years ago. But I never feel that Arcade Fire is aping the Clash or anyone else on Reflektor. There are so many good songs, from rockers Normal Person and Joan of Arc to the more dancey Afterlife, We Exist and the title track, that there’s a lot to like here.
I was really skeptical about this album given how commercial success has spoiled so many bands. But Arcade Fire delivers a thoroughly enjoyable record.
Check out this new video from Beach Fossils for Generational Synthetic.
Cass McCombs opens his ambitious new album with (partial) title track Big Wheel set to the tempo of a big ol’ trucker song. “I dig the taste of diesel and the sound of big rigs,” McCombs sings as he starts us on a journey through almost an hour and a half and one of the more intriguing releases this year. Big Wheel and Others is not a concept album and, really, the only unifying aspect about the lengthy record is that it’s a lot of good songs by one of America’s best singer-songwriters. Like most of McCombs’ work, the songs sound personal and from the perspective of an outsider. Country and blues are the most common musical influences running through the record.
Among the many highlights: Morning Star, Joe Murder and Angel Blood. There are far more hits than clunkers on Big Wheel despite its girth.
That’s not to say this is a perfect album. Everything Has to Be Justified is way too long. The jazzy instrumental It Means a Lot to Know You Care doesn’t work for me and seems out of place. When you record 19 songs for a single album, it’s hard for all of them to succeed. And then there are the snippets from Sean, a 1969 short film that features an interview with a 4-year-old boy in San Francisco whose parents are hippies. There are three roughly one-minute sound bites from the movie.
The late actress Karen Black made an appearance on the album, singing Brighter! It’s another highlight of Big Wheel. The song also appears earlier on the album performed by McCombs, but Black truly puts the exclamation point on the song. Black, who died in August of cancer, also appeared on McCombs’ 2009 release Catacombs, singing on Dreams Come True Girl.
Big Wheel closes with Unearthed, a softly delivered country-blues number. Musically, it’s a quiet song and not a particularly strong finish, but, thematically, Unearthed complements the tongue in cheek manliness of the opener, Big Wheel. “I moved seventy-five thousand tons of earth with my teeth.” McCombs, who is notoriously media shy, doesn’t lay out an easy map to read with Big Wheel but that’s part of his mystique.
Radar Brothers is a Los Angeles band that got started in the early ’90s. Reflections is a perky song off the band’s eighth album, appropriately titled Eight, released earlier this year.
Gregg Gillis, better known as Girl Talk, has sampled a lot of hip hop songs on his mash-up albums and shows. Now he’s planning a release, an EP called Broken Ankles, with rapper Freeway. More details will be coming later.
Watch a very chaotic video below from a recent New York show.
The great Parquet Courts has a new EP, Tally All the Things That You Broke, out today. Here’s a video for You Got Me Wonderin’ Now, off the release.
Check out this video from San Francisco’s Sleepy Sun. The song is 11:32.
Cults released a new video, High Road, for a song from the new album Static, out Oct. 15,
Here’s a new video for Bad Reputation, from Bass Drum of Death’s recently released self-titled album.
This new song from Crystal Antlers is off the upcoming album, Nothing is Real, which is out next month.
Here’s a short and sweet video for Misery Over Dispute from the highly recommended new album Cerulean Salt.
Here’s a new video for Star Crawl, a song off the soon to be released Crystal Stilts’ album Nature Noir. I’ve been listening to this album and there’s reason to be excited. It’s set for release September 17.
These guys hit the Empty Bottle October 10.
Flume makes his return to Chicago Wednesday with a show at Metro. This sounds like it will be an elaborate production and I’m a little surprised it hasn’t sold out yet. This should be a pretty hot set.