Category: General


Swedish artists have an almost uncanny ability to stay out of the spotlight between albums, seemingly dropping off the face of the planet for periods of time to focus on their art. It’s been two long years since Joel Karlsson and Henrik Markstedt have released anything as Air France, and even longer since their 2008 landmark EP “No Way Down.” This morning, the duo finally broke their silence with “It Feels Good to Be Around You,” another breezy slice of Balearic gold that has become their stock and trade.

“It Feels Good to Be Around You” sounds as if it could have been released any time during the band’s existence. It features the same kind of bright and sun kissed vibe that evokes images of a tropical paradise, complete with steel drums, and a pulsating back beat that just begs for your attention. In addition to the reverberated female vocals that have helped propel some of their best songs (“June Evenings,” “Collapsing At Your Doorstep”), there’s an interesting distorted voice sample that brings to mind the work of Burial.  However, they use the haunting sample to good effect here, and aside from the initial shock of hearing it, it does nothing to take away from the overall quality of the song.

There has been no news yet as to whether Air France will follow up this single with an EP or their long awaited full length debut. However, it is good to finally hear something new from them, and “It Feels Good to Be Around You” is a welcome return. Between this and the release of Jens Lekman’s “An Argument With Myself” yesterday, Sweden has made it’s mark all over the end of this week. Now if only we could get something new from The Field…

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To say that the last hour or so in Fun Fun Fun Fest’s Turntable.fm room was crazy would be a grave understatement. Big name bloggers, aggressive tweeters, and music fans alike successfully jammed the music sharing website while several of the artists playing this year’s festival were announced. Now that all the fun (no pun intended) is over, we have the official lineup for Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011, and it is nothing short of incredible. Instead of trying to type out all the details, I will simply post the official lineup poster. Enjoy!

It’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of June, and even harder to believe it’s been a month and a half since I’ve been to a show. Being stuck in Houston, more specifically Sugar Land, for the summer has been a total live music nightmare. I had just started at both of my jobs when Free Press Summer Fest was happening, and I worked the night that The Thermals came to town. To add to my frustrations, the summer calendars at many of Houston’s “best” venues leave a lot to be desired. Most of them feature bands that don’t pique my interest (here’s looking at you, Foster The People) or groups that are better suited for Warped Tour. With the exception of a free Royal Bangs show in a few weeks, and of course I’ll probably be working that night, the well looks completely dry for the duration of my time here.

This makes my anticipation to return to Austin for good even more feverish, as there are plenty of great bands coming early in the school year to make up for a lackluster summer. I’ll be getting an early start, as I’m making a special trip to Austin in early August to see none other than Arctic Monkeys, a band I’ve wanted to see live since they released their first single. Here is an early list of the shows that should help make my summertime blues a distant memory:

Arctic Monkeys: Aug 2 at Stubb’s

Handsome Furs: Aug. 26 at Mohawk

Japandroids: Sept. 8 at Mohawk

Austin City Limits After Shows: TBD

Cymbals Eat Guitars: Oct. 1 at Emo’s

Gang Gang Dance: Oct. 3 at Mohawk

Braids: Oct. 4 at Mohawk

Toro y Moi: Oct. 8 at Mohawk

Friendly Fires: Oct. 11 at Antone’s

Battles: Oct. 21 at Emo’s

Fun Fun Fun Fest: Nov. 4, 5, &6 at Auditorium Shores

Here’s hoping that more shows will be continually added to this list, and that I will have the chance to see/review them all!

It’s been a little over a year since Brooklyn new wavers The Drums released their self-titled debut. In the time since, they’ve toured endlessly, lost guitarist Adam Kessler, and have found a good amount of success overseas. Now, according to a new video on their website, the band are hard at work on the follow-up, though little to no details were unveiled.

The video begins with grainy footage of the band working in a studio and trying out new sounds, always a promising sign. However, the vast majority of the clip consists of white noise, city scenes, and even a solo shot of a cross. Whether this was done to indicate a new, darker direction for the band or to be deliberately cryptic remains to be seen. However, the band hinted at the title for their new record, as the word “Portamento” was shown several times throughout the video. The folks at NME did their research and found that portamento is an Italian word that stems from the phrase “portamento della voce,” or “carriage of the voice.”

Hopefully, more information will be made available in the coming months. If their next album is anything like “The Drums” or their brilliant debut EP “Summertime!,” the band may have a certifiable hit on their hands. But if the band decides to take a new artistic direction, it will be just as exciting to see how it works out for them. The Drums are well versed in the ways of pop songwriting, so there is a good chance that they will be able to churn out many more memorable tracks regardless of the musical template. Only time will give us the answer, but for now enjoy one of the band’s earliest classics.

When you’re a band that tours as long and as hard as Future Islands, it is nothing short of a miracle that you find time to record new material. The ever prolific band will release their new single, “Before The Bridge,” on July 19, but they have made the A-side of the same name available for download here. The single will be released as a 7″ limited to 750 copies, and it marks the band’s first release of 2011.

“Before the Bridge” displays the band in the same fine form that made In Evening Air one of last year’s best albums, and this is arguably one of their most straightforward and pop friendly songs to date. Gerrit Welmers atmospheric synths and an excellent guitar line join William Cashion’s prominent bass playing to form the backdrop for Samuel Herring’s laments and his one of a kind voice. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the song is that the band utilizes live percussion, as opposed to a drum machine. This gives the song an even bigger sound, and it allows Welmers more room to to concentrate on creating memorable synth lines, such as the one used to a master effect in the chorus.

If this song is an indicator of where Future Islands are headed, this can only be a good thing. The production values are great, the addition of live percussion will give their songs even more force, and it is proof that the band have lost none of their abilities to write beautiful music. They are still a criminally underrated band, but for those willing to give them a chance, Future Islands are one of the most unique groups around, and they only continue to get better.

Over the last few months, there have been rumors going around that The Decemberists might be calling it quits. The talks were mostly sparked by front man Colin Meloy mentioning a “long hiatus” in an interview, and the fact that the band will be taking some time off after finishing their current tour. However, he silenced all speculation by assuring that the band has no plans to split up.

Speaking to the Associated Press this weekend while at Bonnaroo, Meloy was quick to deny the rumors, saying “With this record I feel we have a whole world in front of us with plenty of options and I’m excited to continue writing music for The Decemberists and performing with The Decemberists.”

The sudden news that accordian player and keyboardist Jenny Conlee had been diagnosed with breast cancer early last month has, no doubt, contributed to the band having to adjust their plans. While the band will play as scheduled without Conlee for most or the rest of their tour, which include a return to Stubb’s in Austin on August 8, they have no plans to hit the road this fall.

Instead, Meloy will be promoting the young adult novel “Wildwood,” which he wrote in collaboration with his wife, artist Carson Ellis. He also plans to spend more time at home with his family and work on other creative projects. Several of the band’s other members, including Conlee, guitarist Chris Funk, and bassist Nate Query will continue to write new material with their bluegrass project Black Prarie during the time off.

These breakup rumors never seemed entirely believable for several reasons. First, the band is still only a few months removed from debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 with The King Is Dead. It is very hard to think that the group, or any band for that matter, would fold at the height of their popularity. Secondly, there have been no tensions between band members, or any other external forces besides Conlee’s cancer, that would warrant a breakup. The Decemberists are easily one of the most tight knit groups out there, largely keeping the same roster for the 10 plus years they’ve been together. Additionally, the band sounded in top form when they played Stubb’s at the end of April, so any sort of speculation that the band had lost their vitality was out of the question.

In the end, though, it’s good to know that the band will get some much needed rest after what has been a whirlwind year. The King Is Dead was another great outing for them, and it gained them an even larger following than many of their longtime fans could have ever hoped for. Besides, the band has taken long breaks between albums before, so I think it’s safe to say that most will be willing to wait until they announce a follow up.

Apparently, the title of the new Arctic Monkeys album is a little too controversial for some American distributors. The band’s new release, Suck It And See, will be sold stateside with a giant sticker slapped over the title, according to an interview done with London’s XFM. There was no word on which stores will take the initiative, but chances are good that big box retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy are the primary culprits.

In the interview, front man Alex Turner told XFM’s John Kennedy, “They think it is rude, disrespectful they’re putting a sticker over it in America in certain stores, big ones.”

While there has certainly been no shortage of albums that have had to undergo the glitter treatment in order to be sold at big box retailers, the fact that this move comes only a week before the record’s release is kind of a low blow. Of course, given the squeaky clean image that these stores put forth, it would be safe to assume that their morally righteous constituents would take offense to an album title that could be construed into something sexual.

In my opinion, the move is an overreaction on the retailer’s part, especially considering the fact that they sell movies that glorify endless amounts of violence and the gross mistreatment of women and minorities. If nothing else, this news serves as further proof why you should buy your albums at local record stores, who have considerably more freedom in terms of the content they can sell. It also demonstrates the irony of how these stores, who thrive off of cheap labor and an economic model that does more harm than good, can get their feelings hurt by the title of an album by a band that most of their customers have never heard of.

Suck It And See comes out next Tuesday, June 6. Expect a review early next week.

The touring hip-hop festival Rock The Bells announced the lineup for this year’s edition, and the bill is enough to make almost any fan of hip-hop over the last 20 years green with envy at the four lucky cities that get to experience it. Last year’s festival saw Snoop Dogg performing his breakthrough album Doggystyle in it’s entirety and A Tribe Called Quest doing Midnight Marauders. This year’s festival expands upon the full albums concept by having even more artists reliving some of their most influential moments.

Headlining the festival is Ms. Lauryn Hill, who will be performing her highly successful and well respected The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Joining her will be Nas, who will bring his debut album Illmatic to the stage after years of refusing to do it through other mediums. In the festival’s press release, Nas was quoted as saying  “For years people have been asking me to do Illmatic in so many ways, from stage plays to movies to books, but the time wasn’t right. Where music is going now, the time is right. This will be my biggest production and it only makes sense to do it on the best rap tour which also happens to be a brand I’ve built and am a partner in.” Joining them in the full album motif are Cypress Hill performing Black Sunday, Raekwon and Ghostface to do Raekwon’s classic Only Built For Cuban Linx, Mobb Deep performing The Infamous, GZA performing Liquid Swords, as well as several other acts.

Perhaps the most exciting announcement is Mos Def and Talib Kweli performing under the Black Star moniker for the first time in many years to do their classic 1998 album Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star. Though a follow-up album has only been hinted at through Kweli playing a new track at a show in Houston last year, as well as an alleged new song released earlier this year that has not been confirmed by either member, it will be interesting to see if the two will take the opportunity to put the questions to rest and perform new material together.

Also on the tour are several influential talents and rising stars in the underground and indie rap scenes, including the legendary Erykah Badu, conscious rap god figure Immortal Technique, blog favorites Curren$y and Freddie Gibbs, and Community star Donald Glover taking on his Childish Gambino alter ego.

While the line-up looks stellar, the only downside to the festival is that it only has four stops, none of which even come close to Texas. The dates are as follows:

Aug. 20: San Bernardino, CA – San Manuel Amphitheater
Aug. 27 Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre
Sept. 3 New York, NY – Governor’s Island
Sept. 10 Boston, MA

Here’s hoping the festival grows to the point where it can make more stops and bring quality hip-hop to the masses.

As it turned out, Saturday May 21 was your a relatively normal and uneventful day. Some had predicted that the sky would open up and that all good Christians would ascend to heaven, while those who did not accept Jesus in their lives would be subjected to eternal torment, etc. etc. In a somewhat brilliant PR move, New York dance-punk pioneers The Rapture celebrated man’s survival today by announcing today that they will be releasing a new album September 6.

In The Grace Of Your Love (their first album since 2008’s lukewarmly received Tapes) sees The Rapture returning to DFA Records, the label that put out the band’s highly influential singles and their breakout album Echoes in 2002 and 2003, respectively. After a stint on Universal Records and watching the scene they had created oversaturate almost to the point of self-parody, the band’s re-signing to James Murphy’s brainchild shows that the band are ready to try and make a statement again. Philippe Zdar, the French producer who has worked with Phoenix, The Beastie Boys, and Chromeo among others, produced the album. According to the press release, “Through the course of its eleven tracks, you can immerse yourself as waves of lyrical optimism & introspection crash between angular guitars & pulsing synthesizers, pounding drums & into sweet rhythmical lullabies. This is the sound of The Rapture re-engaged and revitalized with a voice as clear as they ever had.” Like the supposed end of times that was supposed to grace us on Saturday, we will have to experience it before we beleive it.

It’s nice to see that one of the genre’s premier groups is returning to the label that gave them their footing all those years ago. It will be interesting to see how In The Grace Of Your Love stacks up amidst the likes of Cut Copy’s Zonoscope,  Friendly Fires’ Pala, and several other albums released this year that have continued to build upon The Rapture’s foundations. No word yet on whether the band will announce a follow up on Dec. 22, 2012.

Welcome to Flipside Sounds! This site marks a new chapter in my never ending quest to turn my music writing into a vocation. With the advent of Summer 2011, I decided that Musings On Music had run it’s course. This past semester was an insanely busy one or me, as I had an eighteen hour course load, my internship with KGSR, and I was writing show reviews for the AV Club Austin and the Austinist (which I plan to continue doing in the fall). As such, I didn’t have as much time to dedicate to the site as I would have liked. However, that is all about to change.

Flipside Sounds will see me continuing to provide all the great analysis and reviews that you came to expect from MoM, but on a much wider scale. Now armed with a legitimate domain name, I hope to reach a wider audience and continue to build my reputation as a music writer. You can expect plenty of content from now on, and I am excited to bring all of you along for the ride. Catch you on the Flipside!

-Ryan