Jack White Announces New Album ‘Lazaretto,’ Hear “High Ball Stepper” Now

Posted in Music on April 1st, 2014 by Nick

jakkJack White has been laying semi-low lately, probably because he’s too busy being amazing like the Jack White that he is. So lets bask in the glory of this announcement of a new Jack White album.

You should probably save a spot in your Best of 2014 lists. Because Jack White.

The followup to 2012′s Blunderbuss is called Lazaretto, and it’ll be out June 10 in the U.S. and June 9 in the UK through his label Third Man.

Hear an instrumental track from it, “High Ball Stepper”, below. The title track first single is due later this month.

Third Man’s Vault will release a limited edition version of the album featuring a 40-page book of lyrics and art, a poster, a bonus 7″ containing demo versions of album tracks “Alone in My Home” and “Entitlement”, and “a linen, letter-pressed postcard”.

I LOVE the piano work in this song. That is all:

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TLW’s Top 10 Albums of 2012

Posted in Music on January 2nd, 2013 by Nick

Happy New Year, gentle readers!

I don’t care what the fogies or hipsters say: 2012 was a great year for music. Music never dies and if you put the time and effort in, there is greatness to be had and discovered. Although this list has quite a few returning favorites, there are also some breakout hits, new artists, and other nuggets of excellence in my Top 10 this year. As I usually disclaim, my Top 10 and subsequent Honorable Mentions are chosen with all of the following criteria in mind: personal faves (cuz this is my blog and fuck you), critical reception, public opinion, and overall badassery. I love all genres equally, so I like to have a list that is representative and eclectic, while still abiding by my ignorant, yet justified creed that Country music is just something that dumb people have imagined in their tiny little brains.

Awkward transition. Enough already, right? Here we go:

10: Walk the Moon – Walk the Moon

Walk_the_Moon_AlbumBased in Cincinnati, Ohio, this four-some Pop Rock outfit is definitely an up-and-comer. Their melodies are infectious, sometimes sugary, but never wavering in attitude. It’s dance-rock at its finest – a definite party starter. The band also gets bonus points for pulling out tunes like Bowie’s “Lets Dance” and Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal” live. Their shows are visual representations of everything the album showcases: vibrant riffs, larger-than-life sing-along choruses, and energy to the max. They may be young, but with a successful follow-up, they could very well become the next Killers. I wouldn’t count them out for a second.
Hear Here: Anna Sun, Jenny, I Can Lift A Car

9. Screaming Females – Ugly

Screaming_Female's_Ugly_album_coverScreaming Females leading lady Marissa Paternoster means business. She’s the band’s only screaming female, in fact, screeching and shredding her band through angsty punk and hard rock cuts album after album. Paternoster even made SPIN’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time – no surprise to anyone who’s seen the band’s live show. Ugly is their fifth official effort and is all the proof one needs to recognize these guys as a cohesive rock powerhouse. Though earlier albums are rawer and messier, Ugly shows growth without losing edge. Take a bite, bang your head, scream along.
Hear Here: It All Means Nothing, Doom 84, Extinction

8. The Killers – Battle Born

The_Killers_-_Battle_BornBattle Born is the album The Killers have been waiting to make their entire career. Having started with Hot Fuss, a youthful romp through New Wave and Pop, the band then traversed through Springsteen-esque rock, steel drums, saxophones and more, eventually landing to the Battle Born era of huge Arena Rock songs, bolstered by Flowers’ booming vocals. It’s a slow burn, but those that put in the effort are rewarded with an album that just feels huge, undoubtedly able to fill the large scale arenas and venues that The Killers always wished they would play. In a world where Kings and Keys grow up and gain traction while losing….something…The Killers have grown and matured without ever sacrificing artistic integrity. This album may not land on many top lists from this year, but it should.
Hear Here: Flesh and Bone, Runaways, Battle Born

7. Emeli Sandé – Our Version of Events

Emeli-Sande-Our-Version-Of-EventsEmili Sandé is somewhat of an Ellie Goulding-type story. America will catch up later, rather than sooner and that’s a shame. Sandé has played in both the Opening and Closing ceremonies at the London Olympics. She’s written songs for Rihanna, Leona Lewis, Cheryl Cole, Tinie Tempah, and more. The Scottish singer’s album peaked at number one in the UK shortly after its February release. After all this and countless television appearances, she’s still yet to make a huge “Lights”-like explosion across the pond. Regardless, Our Version of Events is one of the best R&B albums in recent years. Her voice is powerful, packed with the emotion of her own music and lyrics (the singer states that she never wanted to be an artist who performed other people’s music). Though a “new” artist, she sounds wise beyond her 25 years.
Hear Here: Heaven, My Kind of Love, Breaking the Law

6. Tame Impala – Lonerism

Tame_Impala_Lonerism_CoverEvery couple of years an album is released that sounds like it was found hidden in a time capsule buried in the 60’s, yearning for the present day to come to its senses and discover it. Welcome to Lonerism, an album that sounds so intimately connected with the zeitgeist of the past after canoodling with the sounds of The Beatles, The Who, and Pink Floyd, and more. Hell, it even sounds like Floyd members played on this record. Its influences ooze throughout every song, with the support of modern song structures and arrangements, psychedelic keys and synths, and undulating tempos. It zigs and zags throughout its 52-minute trip, dipping into the past and the present, simultaneously. It’s a divine, near-perfect listen. If you missed this one in 2012, you missed out.
Hear Here: Apocalypse Dreams, Endors Toi, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards

5. Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

Cloud_Nothings_Attack_on_Memory_album_coverCloud Nothings are a great tale of Indie Rock awesomeness. Originally starting as a solo project in the basement of singer Dylan Baldi’s parents house, Baldi recorded in GarageBand and posted on MySpace under several different fake band names. Cloud Nothings was one of them. A couple years, three band members, and one record deal later, Cloud Nothings released Attack on Memory, the third official release, on Carpark Records. It’s everything you’d want from a true indie band: An authentic garage feel, dark and desperate lyrics and themes, and relentless energy as the album unapologetically stomps through a meager 34-minute run. You’ll play it once and immediately spin it again. Though youthful, short and sweet, the album is just as calculated, precise and determined. Look no further than “Wasted Days” – a track about not living up to your own potential and expectations. When Baldi screams “I thought I would be more than this” at the end of the nine-minute rager, you’ll get the chills.
Hear Here: Wasted Days, No Future/No Past, Separation

4. Jack White – Blunderbuss

Jack_White-BlunderbussHasn’t everyone drank the Jack White Kool-Aid by now? Make no mistake, White is a sensational song-writer, musician, and rock star. In fact, he’s one of the few true rock stars we have left. With Blunderbuss, White finally settles into his solo groove with a polished collection of tracks that he wrote, recorded, and produced entirely by himself. He’s one of the few Jack-of-all-trades the industry has left and Blunderbuss goes to show exactly what White is still capable of: White Stripes-esque rockers like “Sixteen Saltines,” slower introspective tracks like “Love Interruption,” and the ever-so-slight twang of the title track. The best part about Blunderbuss? The confirmation that if he can’t scratch an itch with The Dead Weather or The Raconteurs, he’ll set out on his own. There’s seemingly no stopping him and no limit to what the man can do. And only good can come from a restless spirit like White.
Hear Here: Sixteen Saltines, Trash Tongue Talker, Weep Themselves to Sleep

3. Garbage – Not Your Kind of People

garbageFree from the oppressive rule of a major label, Garbage is currently making some of the best music of their career. Impressive, though it’s not like they weren’t around the block before (Butch Vig, anyone?). Releasing this album under their own StunVolume, Not Your Kind of People feels like Garbage circa the 90’s: the production is slick (as always), the drums are mean, and Shirley Manson’s lyrics are dark, foreboding, and real, forging a bond with its audience. And those guitars on “Blood for Poppies”? What’s not to love? A lot of bands calm down by the fifth or sixth album, unplugging their guitars for quieter fare. Garbage are not those kind of people. They’re not afraid to make a balls-out, heavy and electrified track like “Battle in Me,” and I fucking love them for it. These four are a group of seasoned, under-appreciated professionals and Not Your Kind of People deserved way more fanfare, way more critical praise, and way more time in the spotlight than it was given this year. I won’t make that mistake here.
Hear HereAutomatic Systematic Habit, Battle in Me, Beloved Freak

2. Santigold – Master of My Make-Believe

220px-Santigold_-_Master_of_My_Make-BelieveIf Santigold (née Santi White, Santogold) releases an album, you put it on your top albums list. Plain and simple. No other artist is doing what she’s doing on the music scene right now, nor doing it with such grandiose artistry. Master of My Make-Believe picks up right where her debut left off, with beautiful arrangements and funky beats (thanks in part to a slew of producers including Switch, Diplo, Nick Zinner, Greg Kurstin, and more). She’s quite possibly the most eclectic artist of late as well, masterfully blending rock, pop, hip-hop, funk, and more into her own genreless concoction. Whether listening to the fierce, bouncy single “Go!” (featuring Karen O), the airy, lulling “Disparate Youth” or the bass-bumping “Look at These Hoes,” there is no mistake that you’re listening to a Santigold record, no matter how diverse the sound or message. It’s the glory of being caught off-guard; of strapping in and letting her take you for a ride from beginning to end. It’s always a breath of fresh air.
Hear Here: Disparate Youth, Go!, The Keepers

1. Fiona Apple –The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

Fiona-Apple-The-Idler-Wheel-album-cover-300x3001When Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel released back in June, I had a pretty good idea that the album would land in my Top 3 this year. As the months went by, I couldn’t shake or match that excitement. I praised it left and right in conversation, at live shows and here on the blog. What Apple accomplished tops anything else she’s ever done: it’s musically complex and puzzling, it’s terrifyingly honest, it’s dark. It’s everything we’ve ever come to love about Fiona Apple and her music, magnified. The album’s arrangements zig when you think they will zag. On first listen, the melodies are hard to grasp, yet they wash over you, leaving listeners with nothing to do but accept them and cling to them. Apple shows maturity here, both in her songwriting and her demeanor. She accepts her life as is without trying to make excuses. She’s come a long way from her “Criminal” days, and The Idler Wheel is Exhibit A, B, and C. Though it feels somewhat unsettling to listen to at times, it’s a sigh of relief that artists are still making music this interesting and this real.
Hear Here: Left Alone, Jonathan, Daredevil

Honorable Mentions: If I wasn’t such a lazy blogger, I’d expand this list to a Top 20. Here are some honorable mentions that I loved this year, but fell slightly short of the Top 10:

Mika – The Origin of Love
Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal
Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox
Nada Surf – The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy
Muse – The Second Law
Chairlift – Something
Green Day – Uno!

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Festin’ It Up at Firefly: Three Days of Music and Madness

Posted in Live Shows, Music on July 25th, 2012 by Nick


I totally almost passed out at work today.

As I write this, my feet are blistered, my shins are sore, my neck, charred from too much natural Vitamin D. I still feel like I need to sleep for a week, mostly because I got my ass kicked and had the time of my life at Dover, Delaware’s brand spankin’ new Firefly Festival, held right around the corner from the city’s International Speedway.

For a first-time festival (and also my first!), Red Frog Events did a fantastic job in planning this three-day adult playground/shitshow. A fast-moving entrance line with little-to-no hassle and a smart layout of the grounds made for an efficient, organized weekend full of music, rain, sun and debauchery. A special vineyard area, hammock hangout, arcade, and Dogfish Head on-site brewery, equipped with the festival’s own branded brew (Firefly Ale!), kept festival goers happy, entertained, and drunken.

For a full list of bands or for more information about Firefly, head here, but here’s some (hopefully brief) commentary on the bands my gang saw throughout our experience:

FRIDAY:

Heartless Bastards – These guys really blew me away. Erika Wennerstrom’s voice was powerful and charged; the band, as a whole, completely tight, never missing a single beat or mini jam session. I liked them before, and I love them now.

OK Go

Walk the Moon – These guys are up-and-comers who have not quite reached mainstream appeal, but will definitely do so soon. They’re one iTunes commercial away from being mega-stars. Hailing from Ohio, these guys were young and had energy seething through their veins. Lots of face paint, lots of synths, and even a Bowie cover. Nice!

Bassnecter / Silversun Pickups – Kiiinda wish I stayed for the entire Bassnecter set. From what I did see, it was an experience for the kids who were fucked up enough.

Jack White – Hands down, the best set of the entire festival. White set the bar high, cruising through the catalogues of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather, while scattering his solo tracks in between. White plays with no setlist, so his band usually has to be ready for anything. That they were.

SATURDAY:

Polica

Cults – Cutesy little duo that played superb afternoon surf/Motown/chill jams. Singer Madeline Follin is the kinda gal you want to take home to your Mom after buying her some chocolate and winning her a teddy bear at the carnival.

Grouplove – Speaking of Apple commercials, we saw Grouplove! They were loud, poppy, fun, blue-haired, harmonized, and killed a Whitney Houston cover. In fact, this band’s live show made my Festival Five!

Cake

Modest Mouse

Yeasayer – Yeasayer had to be called in as a last-minute replacement for Passion Pit, who cancelled. But dammit, I’m glad it worked out this way. Yeasayer was an intense, 80’s-inspired dance party. A must-see!

The Killers – The Killers used to be one of my favorite bands when they first hit the scene. Their set was filled with both new tracks that hadn’t even debuted yet and oldie-but-goodie faves, serving as a perfect nostalgic throwback for this festival-goer. YouTube new track “Here On Out,”; avoid “Flesh and Bone.” Oh, yeah. And a shitload of fireworks is very visually appealing for partiers who are….less than sober.

SUNDAY:

Penguin Prison – Electropop outfit led by Chris Glover. For having a rough noon timeslot, Glover brought the dance-party hours ahead of its time, making for a fantastic start to our last day there. Download “Multi-Millionaire” and love your life.

The Head and the Heart

AWOLNATION – Some might know AWOL from that one song that repeats the word “Sail” a lot, but trust: AWOLNATION is not a one-trick pony or one-hit wonder. Led by Aaron Bruno (formerly of Under the Influence of Giants), AWOL brought some much-needed Hard Rock to an otherwise indie festival. The electronic-rock sounds found on the album were all amplified by 11. Festival Five!

Fitz and the Tantrums – Fitz’s live show proves that vocalist Noelle Scaggs is underused on their debut, Pickin’ Up the Pieces. But let me tell you – she works well with Michael ‘Fitz’ Fitzpatrick, and their cover of the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams” was unforgettable.

Girl Talk – DANCE. FUCKING. PARTY. (Dance party, that is. Not an orgy or any other weird sort of ‘fucking party’. That’d be pretty gross at a smelly festival).

The Black Keys – To be honest, I thought I was going to puke and had to take a time out. From what I heard through my stupor, they sounded pretty…Black-Keys-ish. That’s kind of my problem with these guys. Seven albums later and they still sound pretty same-ish. Good times, but in my opinion, White and The Killers outshined the Keys.

With no further adieu, here are my Festival Five!

1) Jack White
2) AWOLNATION
3) Grouplove
4) Heartless Bastards
5) The Killers

Honorable Mentions: Girl Talk, Penguin Prison

So there you have it, ladies, gents and music lovers! Would I recommend the Firefly Festival to others looking for a good time? Hell yes. In fact, a limited number of pre-sale wristbands go on sale TODAY for 2013! Don’t miss it – I know I won’t.

Were you at Firefly? Share your stories and let me know what your fest highlights were!

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New and Noteworthy: Jack White and The Cranberries

Posted in Music on January 31st, 2012 by Nick

In the past 24 hours, two new tracks by older artists have made some waves in my ear canals, ladies and gents. These two cuts, from Jack White and The Cranberries, bring these former faves back into the limelight (though I’m really repressing the urge to spit out a Clueless reference right about now…).

Let’s start with Jack-y boy:

This is the first single off his upcoming SOLO ALBUM (yessss) due out in April called Blunderbuss. White said that this collection of upcoming songs was truly the only group he felt comfortable releasing solely under his own name. Either way – we’re in for a treat. Jack White is one of the most interesting and dynamic rock stars/artists out there today. There’s just no way it could suck.

The Cranberries also have an upcoming album dropping – their first in over a decade.

These guys are very black and white. You either like ‘em or you don’t. I love the 90′s-esque vibe to their sound and it’s always a nostalgic listen for me. I’m not sure if the band has any juice left with their new release, Roses, on the horizon, but this single would argue that they do.

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