Category: News

So I think it’s safe to say that Sweden has sent me into overdrive with good news the last several weeks. To add fuel to that fire, minimal techno auteur Axel Willner, more commonly known as the Field has announced that he will be releasing new material in 2011. This morning on Kompakt’s website, the label announced Willner will return October 24 with Looping State of Mind, a title that perfectly encapsulates his music.

In the press release, it was revealed that Willner recorded the album in Germany, and that he is continuing to incorporate live instrumentation into his combination of ambient soundscapes and looped micro samples. It was mixed by Jorg Burger, who goes by the moniker of the Modernist, and Willner said that he is still expanding upon ideas that first came to him when he was recording his 2007 debut From Here We Go Sublime. Looping State of Mind will feature seven tracks, and while the announcement didn’t come with a taste of what Willner has been up to the last few years, track names like “Is This Power” “Arpeggiated Love” and “Sweet Slow Baby” will leave plenty for people to ponder over unti lthe album is released.

Looping State Of Mind:

Is This Power

It’s Up There

Burned Out

Arpeggiated Love

Looping State Of Mind

Then It’s White

Sweet Slow Baby


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…

To say that the last hour or so in Fun Fun Fun Fest’s 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!

One of the saving graces of the Austin City Limits Music Festival for people who don’t have $200 laying around is the fact that they usually have a chance to catch some of their favorite artists perform in real venues at official aftershows. For those without passes, picking and choosing which aftershows to go to is an event in itself. This morning, the festival revealed it’s official list for 2011, with shows scheduled around Austin from Sept. 15-18. While there were no huge announcements like the Strokes preshow last year, it is a solid list that should provide plenty of choice for those who want to get in on some of the action.

Perhaps the biggest of these shows will occur on Sunday night, when Iron & Wine plays the Paramount Theater with My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James’ alter ego Yim Yames. Given the success of both of these artists over the last several years, this one is guaranteed to sell out in a matter of days. Some of the other big names include Nas, who is confusingly opening for derivative electronic act PRETTY LIGHTS in a show before the festival at Austin Music Hall, Manu Chao at Stubb’s on Friday, and Bright Eyes with Kurt Vile and the Violators at Stubb’s on Saturday.

There are also several great shows from some of the festival’s smaller acts. For me, the most exciting of these shows is Wild Beasts performing with Telekinesis at the Parish on Saturday. The English quartet’s latest album, Smother, is easily in the running to be one of the top albums of 2011, and the fact that the festival is the only stop in Texas on their US tour is more than enough reason to see them. Unfortuneately, this means missing out on the chance to see the recently reunited Death From Above 1979, who play with much hyped UK band The Vaccines at Emo’s.  However, it is likely they will be back in Austin again before Wild Beasts.

Friday night will probably see me at Emo’s for a stacked lineup that includes Twin Shadow with a DJ set from Cut Copy outside, and Theophilis London and Diamond Rings inside. This show marks the only chance to see Diamond Rings during the festival, as he is not part of the ACL lineup despite touring nationally with Twin Shadow. Another show that should not be missed on Friday night is Smith Westerns and Cults playing the Parish.

There is no doubt something for everyone this year, and it should give those who don’t have the means to pay for a three day pass a chance to feel a part of the festival. To see the full list, which includes Delta Spirit, The Head and the Heart, Fitz and the Tantrums and others, visit the festival’s official aftershow page.

It’s safe to say that Fun Fun Fun Fest has made the process of announcing artists more entertaining than most over the past couple of years. From incorporating band names in old video footage to encoding the names of this year’s performers in semaphore, they have made their leaks into events that should help in getting people excited about the festival. This morning they used another semaphore video to announce five more acts, and judging by these and the previously announced groups, they are well on their way to having their deepest lineup ever.

The first performer announced was stand-up comedian/musician Reggie Watts, who has gained notoriety for how he uses little more than his own beat boxing techniques, minimal instrumentation and his soulful voice to form full-fledged songs. Next came beat making hero Flying Lotus, who’s 2010 album Cosmogramma won scores of accolades from critics and listeners alike. The festival continues it’s track record of reuniting your older brother’s favorite bands with the addition of Kid Dynamite, a major player in the late 90’s emo scene that have only performed a handful of times since breaking up in 2000. Perhaps the most exciting of today’s leaks came in the form of tUnE-yArDs, who released one of the most original, and thereby critically acclaimed, albums of the year with w h o k i l l. This album was a monster leap forward for Merrill Garbus, and when I caught her at SXSW this year, I was stunned by the amount of energy and presence she brings to the stage. Rounding out the announcement was class of 2008 indie pop darlings Ra Ra Riot. Their sophomore album The Orchard, released last year, cracked the Top 40 on Billboard’s album charts. It’s safe to say that the band will have a healthy turnout when it’s their turn to perform.

These groups join M83, Okkervil River, X, Brian Posehn, and Odd Future, who were announced last week. Between the addition of a third day, relocating to Auditorium Shores, and the overall quality of the lineup so far, this year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest is shaping up to be the biggest and best installation of the festival yet. I’m curious to see who they add to the lineup in the coming weeks and months, and I look forward to attending for a third year in a row. It’s been great to watch how the festival has grown over the last few years, and 2011 may just be the year it breaks through as another can’t miss Austin festival.

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.

It has been almost four years since Swedish songwriter Jens Lekman released 2007’s Night Falls Over Kortedala, his now classic sophomore album that gained him legions of new fans and cemented his place in the indie pop lexicon. Aside from the occasional tour, contributing a few of Kortedala‘s tracks to the soundtrack for Drew Barrymore’s film Whip It, quietly releasing the single “The End Of The World Is Bigger Than Love” last year, and hanging out with Barrymore and Kirsten Dunst, he has kept a rather low profile the last few years. However, he looks to be writing new material again, as he recently played a brand new song on the podcast of comedian Tig Notaro, his friend and newly acquired labelmate.

Lekman debuted the song “Cowboy Boots” on Notaro’s Professor Blastoff (you can stream the song by clicking the link) late last week. While the song only consisted of an acoustic guitar and Lekman’s soothing croon, it still posseses the kind of attention to detail and wit that is purely his own. In a brief two and a half minutes, we have Lekman talking about having a dream “730 nights in a row,” wanting a pair of cowboy boots to help him get away from a lover, and an awkward walk where he searches for “something flippable, like a dime” while he ponders the nature of forgiveness. In other words, “Cowboy Boots” manages to condense all of Lekman’s lyrical strengths into a nice and neat little package. It’s likely that the studio version of the song will be more expansive and feature plenty of samples, but even in it’s infancy it is a high quality song.

While there has been no word yet on when Lekman will release his third album, the release of “Cowboy Boots” can only be seen as a positive sign. Lekman is one of the genre’s most accessible and genuinely talented artists, and there is little doubt that his next album will continue to demonstrate his effortless ability to write great pop songs. Here’s hoping a studio version of “Cowboy Boots” and an announcement of his next release aren’t too far off.

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.