The Lonely Minotaur

Music & Concert Reviews

Big Thief Unleash “Not”, Ready New Album — August 25, 2019

Big Thief Unleash “Not”, Ready New Album

To the surprise of many Big Thief have dropped a new single titled “Not” and also announced a new album due out on October 11, 2019 called Two Hands. Big Thief are already coming off a banner year with rave reviews for their album U.F.O.F. with many people believing it is the album of the year for 2019. I really can’t argue with that. This band is on fire at the moment with a steady stream of great albums since 2016’s Masterpiece and 2017’s Capacity. Throw in lead singer Adrianne Lenker’s solo album abysskiss from last year and it is safe to say the group is sitting on a purple patch of creativity much to listeners delight.

Our first glimpse of Two Hands is the super charged, raw and emotional “Not”. It has made the rounds as a fan favorite live track over the last few years but until now has never seen the light of day studio wise. The song features a ferocious guitar solo that runs almost 3 minutes long and would almost certainly make Neil Young blush in admiration. This is easily the best song I’ve heard all year. It is not even close.

Two Hands is described by the band as the twin sister to U.F.O.F.  and is billed as “the celestial twin” with Two Hands as “the earth twin.” Big Thief recorded the album at Sonic Ranch in the border town of Tornillo, Texas and features very little overdubbing, with an emphasis on live takes.

As Adrianne Lenker states in the press release:

“Two Hands has the songs that I’m the most proud of; I can imagine myself singing them when I’m old. Musically and lyrically, you can’t break it down much further than this. It’s already bare-bones….While you listen, let your own two hands rest in front of your body with palms facing inward and see what power grows between them.”

Two Hands:

1 “Rock And Sing”
2 “Forgotten Eyes”
3 “The Toy”
4 “Two Hands”
5 “Those Girls”
6 “Shoulders”
7 “Not”
8 “Wolf”
9 “Replaced”
10 “Cut My Hair”

Pre-order the album here.

https://bigthief.ffm.to/twohands.opr

Can we talk about how awesome a year 2002 was for indie music? — February 16, 2019

Can we talk about how awesome a year 2002 was for indie music?

By the time of my senior year of high school, class of 2000, I was desperately pinning away for a back to basics rock revival. By 1999 grunge and Brit Pop, my two biggest genre obsessions, were basically extinct. Hip Hop, Boy bands and a rap/metal hybrid were dominating the charts, the airwaves and the television. Basically my worst musical nightmare. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I finally began to see a beacon of hope. That hope was The Strokes. Seems cliche to write but they really were transcendent without really being overly revolutionary in September 2001. They helped kick the door down and were at the front of the march towards the rock revival over the next handful of years. Sure other bands might have been technically more advanced and ambitious but nobody looked cooler as they played good old fashioned rock n roll with killer melodies and lyrics. Finally, after many years waiting, the tides were beginning to turn. My prayers were about to be answered. 

When the calendar flipped to 2002 a whole new era of bands were emerging, getting tons of press, played across radio and television and most importantly inspiring people to pickup the guitar again as an instrument of art. Being a rocker was cool again it seemed. I knew a vast purple patch of great music was starting to take hold across the globe, I just didn’t realize fully at the time how tremendous the overall year of 2002 was. It really was an incredible time of new bands bubbling up (The Walkmen, Interpol, The Coral) and more established bands (Wilco, Flaming Lips, Bright Eyes) hitting their artistic apex all at the same moment. If anyone really wants to get a feel for the excitement of these times I highly suggest buying Lizzy Goodman’s book “Meet Me In The Bathroom” which focuses on the rock revival in New York City between 2001 and 2011. 

So in honor of the year 2002, I’ve decided to rank my Top 20 albums of that year and provide a killer playlist of outstanding tunes. Enjoy. 

Top 20 Albums of 2002

  1. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot 
  2. Coldplay – A Rush of Blood To The Head
  3. Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
  4. Sigur Ros – ( )
  5. Doves – The Last Broadcast
  6. Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
  7. The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi battles the pink robots part 1
  8. The Soundtrack of Our Lives – Behind The Music 
  9. The Walkmen – Everyone Who Pretended To Like Us Is Gone
  10. Bright Eyes – Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
  11. Beck – Sea Changes
  12. The Coral – The Coral
  13. Spoon – Kill The Moonlight
  14. Death In Vegas – Scorpio Rising
  15. The Notwist – Neon Golden
  16. Sonic Youth – Murray Street
  17. Iron & Wine – The Creek Drank the Cradle
  18. Blackalicious – Blazing Arrow
  19. Trail of Dead – …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
  20. DJ Shadow – The Private Press

 

The Playlist

The Walkmen – “Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone”

Wilco – “Heavy Metal Drummer”

Doves – “There Goes The Fear”

Coldplay – “The Scientist”

Pearl Jam – “Down”

Oasis – “Songbird”

The Soundtrack Of Our Lives – “Nevermore”

Iron & Wine – “Faded From Winter”

DJ Shadow – “You Can’t Go Home Again”

The Coral – “Dreaming of You”

Interpol – “PDA”

The Flaming Lips – “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1”

Broken Social Scene – “Cause = Time”

Bright Eyes – “Lover I Don’t Have To Love”

The Hives – “Hate To Say I Told You So”

Beck – “Lost Cause”

The Notwist – “Consequence”

British Sea Power – “Childhood Memories”

Moby – “We Are All Made of Stars”

Spoon – “The Way We Get By”

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – “Relative Ways”

U2 – “Electrical Storm” (William Orbit Mix)

Death In Vegas – “Scorpio Rising”

Damon Albarn – “Sunset Coming On”

Sigur Ros – “Untitled 4”

Ekkehard Ehlers – “Plays John Cassavetes 2”

Boards of Canada – “Dawn Chorus”

Blackalicious – “Blazing Arrow”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Bang”

Sonic Youth – “The Empty Page”

Badly Drawn Boy – “Silent Sigh”

LCD Soundsystem – “Losing My Edge”

Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Can’t Stop”

Bruce Springsteen – “The Fuse”

So This Was 2018…. — December 30, 2018

So This Was 2018….

I have to admit that with each passing year I find less and less albums that I truly love enough to listen to straight through on multiple occasions. I’m not sure if that is a reflection of the current state of the music industry or just my own personal listening habits. I still think there are tons and tons of fantastic tracks being made on a yearly basis. I’m just not finding a lot of them strung together on the same album release it seems. There are still rays of hope out there for the future of the album format. Rookie bands like Rolling Blackouts Costal Fever, Soccer Mommy and Foxwarren delivered the goods and have my complete attention moving forward.

Anyways, without further ado, here are 10 of my favorite albums of 2018 followed by 25 of my favorite songs from this calendar year. It is a pretty eclectic list that leans hard on indie rock but with a handful of hip hop jams sprinkled in. Also thank you to anyone who has read this site over the last few months. It is very much appreciated.

 

My Favorite 10 Albums

Kurt Vile – Bottle It In

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs

Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Sparkle Hard

Soccer Mommy – Clean

The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

Spiritualized – And Nothing Hurt

KIDS SEE GHOSTS – KIDS SEE GHOSTS

Bill Ryder-Jones – Yawn

Low – Double Negative

 

My Favorite 25 Songs

Kurt Vile – “Loading Zones”

Spiritualized – “A Perfect Miracle”

Arctic Monkeys – “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”

Bill Ryder-Jones – “Don’t Be Scared, I Love You”

Bradley Cooper – “Maybe It’s Time”

Young Fathers – “In My View”

Childish Gambino – “This Is America”

Soccer Mommy – “Your Dog”

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – “Kite”

J Mascis – “See You At The Movies”

Interpol – “If You Really Love Nothing” (Reimagined by Petr Aleksander)

Thom Yorke – “Unmade”

Rolling Blackouts Costal Fever – “Talking Straight”

KIDS SEE GHOSTS – “Reborn”

Low – “Disarray”

Kanye West – “Ghost Town”

Conor Oberst – “No One Changes”

Foxwarren – “Lost On You”

The Coral – “Reaching Out For A Friend”

The 1975 – “Love It If We Made It”

Rostam – “In A River”

Parquet Courts – “Tenderness”

Iceage – “Pain Killer” featuring Sky Ferreira

Jonny Greenwood – Tree Synthesisers

Jeff Tweedy – “From Far Away”

 

 

 

Mark it….FAB! The Best of The White Album box set — November 24, 2018

Mark it….FAB! The Best of The White Album box set

The White Album turned the big 5-0 this week and much like last year’s 50th birthday celebration for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a grand rollout of goodies was included. Giles Martin, son of legendary Beatles producer George Martin, remixed the entire album for today’s millennial ears with some good and some getting use to results. The remix will of course take some time to adjust to, the White Album has sounded only one way since 1968 and not many ever called for it to be cleaned up or fiddled with in the first place. It’s a masterpiece through and through. Warts and all.

The highlight of this extravaganza is of course the Esher demos that were done at George Harrison’s bungalow in May of 1968. It features almost every song on the proper album plus songs like “Not Guilty”, “Junk”, “Child of Nature”, “Sour Milk Sea” and “Circles”. It’s basically The Beatles Unplugged and it makes me wonder why something like this wasn’t mined decades ago because the material is a fantastic listen. If you love The Beatles go out and buy it. You won’t be disappointed. It’s worth the price of admission alone. 

The rest of the deluxe box set includes a wealth of studio demos and outtakes. I’ve listed below what I feel are the true gems of the batch and offer new perspective on The Beatles creative process.

Revolution 1 (Take 18) – A 10 minute slow honky tonk attempt with plenty of messing around and jamming. The Beatles still unsure what direction to take John’s new protest anthem.

A Beginning (Take 4) / Don’t Pass Me By (Take 7) – Ringo’s debut Beatles composition begins with a lovely George Martin conducted orchestral arrangement (previously heard on Anthology 3) before a country hoedown takes over.

Good Night (Take 10 with a Guitar Part from Take 5) – A complete 180 from the lush strings laden version that caps off the studio album. Ringo is joined by John, George and Paul who sing supporting harmonies with finger picking guitars. Truly a breath taking moment for this box set. Who knew material of this caliber lay in the vaults?

Cry Baby Cry (Unumbered Rehearsal) – A stark contrast to the final acoustic rendition, this attempt at the song is led by heavy organ playing that reminds me of Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” which was a huge influence on John Lennon back in 1966.

Helter Skelter (First Version / Take 2) – A slow burning 13 minute bluesy rocker with loads of guitar jamming and minimal drumming. A far cry from Paul trying to make the loudest rock song ever made in retaliation to Pete Townshend writing The Who classic “I Can See For Miles”.

Hey Jude (Take 1) – Simply one of the coolest cuts found in the entire box set. Paul warming up his vocal cords moments before uttering the iconic opening “Hey Jude…” makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The last 3 minutes or so is Paul just going completely mental improvising his lyrics and losing himself in the process. Fabulous stuff.

Not Guilty (Take 102) – Without question one of the best songs The Beatles never released and I’m not sure why. George’s tune fits the overall vibe and ascetic of The White Album. This version of the song features a dirtier sounding guitar compared to the one found on Anthology 3 and an extended jam outro.

Let It Be (Unumbered Rehearsal) – Really more of a song fragment compared to the cherished version found on the album of the same name. This “Let It Be” is a bluesy psychedelic run through. Not really sure how else to describe it. I only wish we had a full 3 to 4 minute version. So fascinating to listen to after all these years.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Third Version / Take 27) – The previous outtakes of this future Beatles masterpiece were of an acoustic approach. Take 27 is heavy, grittier, with sharp guitar licks as George and Eric Clapton hone in on the final definitive version.

Happiness Is a Warm Gun (Take 19) – It has often been said that “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” is basically the entire White Album condensed into a 3 minute version. I’ve always agreed with that take. This is one of the best songs John Lennon ever sang. Superior vocals. Listening to take 19 you realize that it took a lot of work to make this song rise to the level of perfection we are so use to.

Honey Pie (Instrumental Backing Track) – When you take off Paul’s vocal track, you begin to realize that “Honey Pie” sounds like some lost Vaudeville classic from the 1920s. I have to imagine George Martin had his paws all over this one as the final product is beautifully crafted.

Long, Long, Long (Take 44) – Always one of my favorite White Album contributions, this outtake has the ghostly and eerie atmosphere dialed back several notches. Driven by George’s acoustic strumming, this song feels less about God as George once claimed and more about lost love rediscovered. The fade out ad libbing by George is also a fun little treat.

I’m So Tired (Take 7) – I’m a sucker for John Lennon studio banter and this outtake features some great stuff at the front and back ends. Not to mention John playing and singing superbly as the final version of “I’m So Tired” is eventually realized.

Julia (Two Rehearsals) – One of John’s most personal songs. You can feel his pain and longing for his mother who was taken too soon from him. Not far removed from the proper studio version. This raw outtake sounds like you are sitting right next to him in studio two in Abbey Road.

The next question is what will Apple Records and Giles Martin turn their attention to next? The smart money is on the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road but I wouldn’t be too keen on that by its self. Abbey Road already sounds like a modern day produced album and most of those songs were born out of the Let It Be sessions from earlier in 1969. I wouldn’t be against Apple Records combining the celebration of Abbey Road to also include the full sessions of Let It Be. We know a treasure trove of material was recorded during that time period. Endless hours of  outtakes, band arguments and studio jams. That is how I would personally handle potential 50th anniversary specials in 2019.

Thom Yorke Announces “Suspiria” Soundtrack Album…. — September 4, 2018

Thom Yorke Announces “Suspiria” Soundtrack Album….

What has only been teased and hinted at over the last year has finally been confirmed today. Thom Yorke is indeed back with a brand new soundtrack album for the upcoming horror film Suspiria which is out stateside October 26. The album will feature 25 tracks ranging in scope from proper song structures, instrumental compositions and brief interludes that are heavily influenced by Berlin in the late 70s. Also of note is that this is one of the few Yorke projects in recent memory not to feature longtime producer and collaborator Nigel Godrich at the helm. This time Yorke is co-producing the record with Sam Petts-Davies.

To kick things off, a supportive single was released across various musical outlets titled “Suspirium”. It is a simple yet melodic piano ballad with a haunting Yorke vocal delivery. Hopefully a song like this will be performed on Yorke’s upcoming North American tour in November. One can only pray it will be along with other key tracks from the film. Yorke described the making of this soundtrack as “a form of making spells” and seeing what transpires in his home studio. As of now we have heard only “Suspirium” along with short instrumental pieces heard in the film’s two trailers that remind me of the work Philip Glass did for the Vietnam War classic Hamburger Hill.

 

Tracklist

  1. A Storm That Took Everything
  2. The Hooks
  3. Suspirium
  4. Belongings Thrown In A River
  5. Has Ended
  6. Klemperer Walks
  7. Open Again
  8. Sabbath Incantation
  9. The Inevitable Pull
  10. Olga’s Destruction (Volk tape)
  11. The Conjuring of Anke
  12. A Light Green
  13. Unmade
  14. The Jumps
  1. Volk
  2. The Universe is Indifferent
  3. The Balance of Things
  4. A Soft Hand Across Your Face
  5. Suspirium Finale
  6. A Choir of One
  7. Synthesizer Speaks
  8. The Room of Compartments
  9. An Audition
  10. Voiceless Terror
  11. The Epilogue

 

You can pre-order the album here:

https://store-us.wasteheadquarters.com/products/suspiria-music-for-the-luca-guadagnino-film

 

Bill Ryder-Jones returns with new single “Mither” — August 22, 2018

Bill Ryder-Jones returns with new single “Mither”

It has been almost three years since the release of West Kirby County Primary, an album rooted deeply in Slanted & Enchanted era Pavement, early Strokes and the gentle side of Lou Reed’s solo years. That record was an absolute pleasure to discover and devour track by track. New single “Mither” shares similar hallmarks to West Kirby, guitars turned all the way up to eleven, feedback buzzing and cellos swirling. I would not be shocked to learn that it was born out of those same sessions. Bill has completely nailed that mid 90s American alternative rock vibe. Few, if any, can do it better. The highlight of the song is the grandiose 3 minutes long guitar fadeout that sounds like Sonic Youth covering My Bloody Valentine. Bill’s brand new album Yawn is out November 2nd and features 10 songs.

You can pre-order it here: https://billryderjones.dominomart.com