Damon Albarn — “Dr. Dee”: Creative mastermind Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz, Rocket Juice & the Moon) releases the soundtrack to his opera, based on the life of John Dee. It’s a stunning work on its own, but just doesn’t find its footing unaccompanied by visuals. “Dr. Dee” promised to be a challenging work from the outset. Initially it was planned as a collaboration between Albarn, his Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett, and graphic novel titan Alan Moore. Moore reportedly dropped the project early on, but did leave the basic narrative idea, a musical about the life of John Dee, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s closest advisors. — Steven Spoerl
Here We Go Magic — “A Different Ship”: With Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich at the helm, Brooklyn’s Here We Go Magic have basically turned in the album that the former band should have made immediately following “In Rainbows.” Not that Here We Go Magic would have necessarily needed Godrich’s help, per se, because the vast majority of songs to be found on the record reach the pinnacle of A-list indie rock material, twisting their way inside your head and staying there giddily. The album is a tunefully, poppy affair, clearly influenced by ’70s Krautrock, with a completely layered sound that invites you to peel away at it go get to its carefully structured secrets. — Zachary Houle
OFF! — “OFF!”: It’s hard to know what to do with OFF! even though Keith Morris’s latest foray into hardcore pretty much lays its intentions bare. There isn’t an ironic note in the band’s entire catalog — from the material that comprised “The First Four EPs” to the band’s new eponymous full-length. Instead, what we get is a lot of P.O.’d honesty, a lot of vitriol shot out in all directions, in short, quick bursts. It’s an energizing sound to be confronted with, but it hits so quickly and leaves you behind so fast that you might wonder what actual impact there is in such brief blasts of aggression. — Matthew Fiander
Mystery Jets — “Radlands”: Mystery Jets headed to the States last year for inspiration and reinvigoration - and the result is not the US-inspired musical odyssey you might expect. They’ve eschewed synths for a rootsier sound, and although there’s the twang of a country-aping slide guitar on several tracks — “Radlands” is quintessentially British, both in execution and themes. This is, if you like, the sound of four Englishmen looking back at their homeland from the midst of the American South. — David Smith
Other notable releases this week:
- Glenn Frey — “After Hours”
- Mary Halvorson Quintet — “Bending Bridges”
- Keane — “Strangeland”
- Mary Mary — “Go Get It”
- PS I Love You — “Death Dreams”
- Royal Headache — “Royal Headache”
- Silversun Pickups — “Neck of the Woods”
- Tank — “This Is How I Feel”
- Paul Thorn — “What the Hell Is Goin’ On?”
- Sara Watkins — “Sun Midnight Sun”
TUNES ON THE TUBE ... MUSIC ON TV THIS WEEK
“Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC): Silversun Pickups (T), Glenn Frey (W), Carrie Underwood (Th).
“Late Show with David Letterman” (CBS): Macy Gray (T), Florence + the Machine (W), Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros (Th), M. Ward (F).
“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” (NBC): B.O.B. and O.A.R. (T), “The Voice” winner (W), Sara Watkins (W).
“Last Call With Carson Daly” (NBC): The White Buffalo and Speakers (T), Tennis (W), Wallpaper (Th), Thee Oh Sees (F).
“Saturday Night Live” (NBC): Usher (Sa).
“Austin City Limits” (PBS): The Decemberists and Gillian Welch (Sa).
“Conan” (TBS): Reggie Watts (W), The Wombats (Th).
NOW HEAR THIS
Strangled Darlings bring forth punky folk-pop from Portland
Portland’s Strangled Darlings bring punk intensity to folk pop and completely bust the mold, creating smart, irreverent tunes using classic acoustic folk instrumentation paired with rough, impassioned vocals. The lyrics are more political and confrontational than the rather observational style that you often hear in folk. Think of it rather like the Clash with an indie Northwestern American aesthetic and acoustic instruments instead of Telecasters and Fender Precisions. George Veech and Jessica Anderly lead Strangled Darlings, playing tenor banjo, mandolin, cello, fiddle, and bass, while they bring in friends to add percussion and jazzy horn bits.
The group’s latest album, “Red Yellow & Blue” releases May 15 via Mudfarm Records. Today we bring you the premiere of the album’s opening track, “Snake & The Girl,” which takes on organized religion in a big way, saying “stand up for yourself... be your own g--damn salvation.” — Sarah Zupko
Everything But the Girl to reissue first four albums in May
The eclectic, much-loved British folk/pop/dance duo Everything But the Girl have announced they will reissue their much-loved first four albums in May. Issued on May 28 by the Edsel label in the UK, the titles are: the classic folk-pop debut “Eden” (1984), the Smiths-like “Love Not Money” (1985), the Phil Spector-Meets-Country-Western “Baby, The Stars Shine Bright” (1986), and the pastoral adult-pop “Idlewild” (1988).
The first two albums were originally issued in America in significantly altered versions, “Eden” under the title “Everything But the Girl.” These reissues will follow the UK track listings, and each will feature a second disc of contemporary singles, B-sides, radio sessions, and demos.
Best-known for their mid-1990s smash “Missing,” Tracy Thorn and Ben Watt established themselves as versatile, thoughtful indie mainstays with these first four albums. The duo have not released a new album since 1999, with Watt starting the Buzzin’ Fly dance label and Thorn releasing a pair of solo albums. According to the duo’s official website (www.ebtg.com), Thorn is currently at work on a Christmas album.
Here is the video for the “Eden”-era single “Native Land.” Look out for a certain Smith on harmonica. — John Bergstrom
Art Alexakis from Everclear plays for “At: Guitar Center with Nic Harcourt”
Art Alexakis from Everclear is one of the latest major talents who has stopped by Guitar Center to play for the Nic Harcourt podcast series that now numbers 25 entries. Previous podcasts have included a diverse fare, from legends Jimmy Cliff and Quincy Jones to today’s hottest new acts like Alabama Shakes and Dirty Beaches. Today we bring you the premiere of Alexakis performing the hit “I Will Buy You a New Life,” which isn’t included on the Guitar Center website. The podcast is an intriguing series combining live performance and interview segments and is well worth subscribing to both for the quality of content and the wide range of artists represented. After checking out the videos, head on over to Guitar Center to grab the podcast and listen to the interview with Alexakis. — Sarah Zupko
Alex Winston — “Guts” (Sound of Arrows remix)
Alex Winston is a young singer-songwriter from Detroit who melds the ’60s girl group sound with smart and pointed lyrics, turning pop on its head while fully exploiting pop’s standard musical tropes. Somehow it’s only too perfect that someone from Detroit is the one twisting Motown sounds into a new style. Her debut album, “King Con,” received praise from notables such as Pitchfork, Spin and Brooklyn Vegan and she looks set to have an artistically satisfying career. Today we bring you a remix of the album tune “Guts” remixed by Swedish electronic duo the Sound of Arrows. — Sarah Zupko
Boston’s Constants cover Catherine Wheel’s “Strange Fruit”
Boston’s Constants have teased their new album “Pasiflora” by offering a cover of Catherine Wheel’s “Strange Fruit.” “Pasiflora” is due out on July 24th. Though “Strange Fruit” won’t appear on “Pasiflora,” it’s still worth about a thousand listens. The original (http://youtu.be/pn1mzwA4NcE) finds Catherine Wheel at the height of their powers, stirring shimmering guitars into a seething orgasmic frenzy. Constants actually slow down the track just a tad, but, trust me, there’s still sonic juice flowing throughout it. Listen below. It’s good to have it in your head. — Joseph Fisher
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