Hear, hear! It appears that Dave Grohl’s hit documentary Sound City gets a follow-up. In an upcoming HBO series, Grohl will visit iconic recording studios around North America.

Sound City was released in February 2013 and received overwhelmingly positive reviews. It tells the story of the legendary Sound City Studios in Los Angeles and especially that of the analog mixing console which Grohl purchased after the studio closed in 2011. Sound City Studios saw artists like Neil Young, REO Speedwagon, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Rick Springfield, Nirvana, Kyuss, Santana and more recently Arctic Monkeys, Wolfmother, Queens Of The Stone Age, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica and Kings Of Leon record one or multiple albums. Many of these artists visited the studio again for Grohl’s documentary to record one last album in the building - Sound City: Real To Reel. 

In the new, still unnamed, HBO series, Dave Grohl will visit Rancho De La Luna, a recording studio in Joshua Tree, California, a popular spot for stoner and desert rock bands and the studio at which Grohl’s Foo Fighters recorded their latest album at least partially. Some other studios attended can be found in Chicago, Nashville, Seattle and New York. 

The new series will allegedly air this winter on HBO. 

Jake Bugg has not had an easy youth growing up in Clifton, Nottingham, he told us all about it on his self-titled debut album and continued this theme on last year’s Shangri La. Yet, most recently, the singer was confronted with the living conditions in the slums of Brazil when he visited Heliópolis, a district of São Paulo. 

Heliópolis is one of the largest slums in Brazil. The lack of proper education and the significant poverty rate has many teenagers devoting their life to drugs and the crimes related to it, instead of working on a better future. 

Together with the non-profit organization ActionAid, whose main objective is to fight poverty and injustice worldwide, Jake Bugg payed a visit to Heliópolis and spoke to several inhabitants about their circumstances. Additionally, he did a surprise gig in the so-called favela, during which he played one of his early songs Seen It All with two local rap musicians. 

Watch the mini-documentary about Bugg’s visit right here. More information can be found on www.actionaid.org.uk/jakebugg.

A Guide To Music In May 2014

After a month of absence, here’s my list albums you wouldn’t want to miss this May. 

Lily Allen is back with an album that is poppier than ever and might be viewed as a direct parody on the current pop scene. Even the title is a direct parody on the current music industry: Sheezus. Expect bubblegum-, dance- and synthpop and blatant insults towards the pop stars of today. // On the same day (May 2) comes a more subtle pop record. Swedish singer Lykke Li's third studio album  I Never Learn promises to be another intimate and very fine one, having heard the singles No Rest For The Wicked and Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone.

Fujiya & Miyagi are a band from Brighton who make delicious contemporary Krautrock. Yet, looking closely, you’ll find their music is way more versatile than that. There is bluesy vibes, there is funk, there is world music. Artificial Sweeteners is their fifth studio album and it is out on May 5. // Artists that are impossible to label can be very annoying to write about. tUnE-yArDs is such an artist. Calling this project by New England native Merrill Garbus world music would fall short of accuracy. Also blended in are R&B, indie rock, funk, Afrobeat. You can not miss upcoming album Nicki Nack.

Sore-throated, energetic, rousing, fast-paced and above all real garage punk. That is PAWS. The band from Edinburgh will release its second album Youth Culture Forever on the sixth.

Within a decade The Black Keys went from their dirty basement in Akron, Ohio to the big stadiums of this world. Now it’s their task to not sell out. With El Camino the band said farewell to the blues and their eighth studio album Turn Blue (out May 13) appears to introduce a new, to-be-defined sound to the band´s discography. // Katy Goodman is a Brooklyn-based rock musician gone solo and that is a rare thing. Under her stage name Le Sera she plays rough yet sweet punk rock. Her third record Hour Of The Dawn is out on May 13.

Will Coldplay restore the damage done by Mylo Xyloto? The band’s last album was not only a failure because the name turned out to be unpronounceable, but also the music was way too commercial for the critics. Magic, the lead single of Ghost Stories, however, promises us more atmosphere and more intimacy. We will see on May 15, when Ghost Stories hits the stores. 

It is blues rock, but not the old, weary version. It is American music, but hailing from London, England. It is Archie Bronson Outfit. The band’s fourth record Wild Crush is going to be heavier and more energetic than anything else they have done in their career. It’s out on May 19.

Bands on the rise would do good creating an informative Facebook page or website. Haunted Hearts have done nothing like that. Shame, because their new album Initiation (May 23) might just be a very good one. Look for their song Something That Feels Bad Is Something That Feels Good and hear for yourself how cool this garage rock band is. 

So, that is May. Eat your heart out, June!

The Libertines reunite

As if there weren’t enough reunions going on already, The Libertines have announced they are getting back together for at least one huge gig. On July 5, Pete Doherty and comrades will play Hyde Park at the British Summer Time-festival. Support will come from The Pogues, Maximo Park, Swim Deep, Wolf Alice and many others. 

The Hyde Park show will be the first live performance by The Libertines since their last reunion at Reading & Leeds Festival in 2010 (see picture). The band existed from 1997 till 2004 and brought forth two (rather perfect) albums. Their career, however, was mostly dominated by the continuous drug abuse and misbehavior of singer Pete Doherty, who, up to this day, has not changed much. 

In collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Conservation Biology Institute, Portugal. The Man has started a campaign in order to save the Sumatran tiger. 

The tiger has been labelled as critically endangered by the IUCN and has only 400 individuals remaining alive. In order to grab the public’s attention to this issue, Portugal. The Man has printed only 400 copies of their new single Sumatran Tiger (or #endangeredsong) and send them to influential people: actors, musicians, politicians, bloggers etc. 

The indie rock band, hailing from Wasilla, Alaska, motivates their project of charity as follows: “The 400 lathe-cut polycarbonate records are the only copies in existence and will actually degrade over time as the record is played. The song will go extinct unless it’s digitally reproduced. The Sumatran tiger will go extinct unless we take action.”

It is yet unknown which influential people have been given the copy of the Endangered Song.

Portugal. The Man is currently touring the United States and will make for a few European gigs in June. 

Yesterday, April 19, marked the seventh annual Record Store Day: a day that is extensively celebrated by Jack White’s own record label and store Third Man Records. This year, the company decided to break a record with a record. Within four hours (3:55:21, said the stopwatch), a song was recorded, mastered, pressed and sold to a lucky few in the form of a 7’ vinyl single. Jack White and his Third Man Records broke the Guinness World Record set by Swiss polka trio Volgas Kompanie, who release their album Live the day after recording it in summer 2008. 

The song recorded for this event was Lazaretto, the first single from Jack White’s second solo album of the same name. But not only did White play Lazaretto; the audience at the Nashville-based record store was entertained with an hour-long set, including songs from The White Stripes (Hello Operator, Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground) and multiple new and old solo tunes (the new songs being High Ball Stepper, Just One Drink, Three Women and Would You Fight For My Love and the old songs including Freedom At 21 and Love Interruption). 

Jack White’s Lazaretto is out on June 10. 

With only three days to go till the start of Game Of Thrones’ fourth season, word has come out Sigur Rós will cover the series’ notorious ballad The Rains Of Castamere.

HBO has made a tradition of giving popular artists an honorable walk-on part on the famous fantasy show. Previously Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and Coldplay’s Will Champion featured on Game Of Thrones and songs from the books were rendered by The National and The Hold Steady. Now it is the turn to the Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós.

The Rains Of Castamere is a ballad that belongs to the series’ family of the Lannisters and, as in the books, is often played when something terrible is about to happen. Sigur Rós’ rendition is expected to be part of the end credits of one of the episodes this season. In September 2013, it was already announced by HBO the members of Sigur Rós would be having a tiny guest role.  It is the first time the men from Reykjavik sing in anything but their native language on record. 

Game Of Thrones, season 4, kicks off coming Sunday on HBO. 

The word is out. We knew he was working on something, but now we know for sure Jack White will be releasing his new album Lazaretto on June 10th via his very own Third Man Records.

Lazaretto (Spanish for military hospital..) is the follow-up of his Grammy-nominated solo debut Blunderbuss, dating from 2012. The first single and title track Lazaretto is to be released within the coming few weeks, but with this very pleasant news already comes the first album track. High Ball Stepper, as goes its name, is an instrumental that tells us the new record might be more guitar, more violence and more experimenting in comparison to Blunderbuss.

A great improvement, just when I thought Jack White couldn’t get any more legendary. 

As creepy as it gets. That’s what is the new teaser trailer of The Black Keys’ upcoming album. The video, directed to via a tweet by boxer Mike Tyson, stars a hypnotherapist saying creepy things about you and what he is going to do with you. It is only at the end we learn it is the announcement of the new Black Keys record we have all been waiting for. On May 13, the blues rock duo from Akron, Ohio will release its eight LP, titled Turn Blue. It will most likely contain the single Fever, set for release tomorrow (March 24). Turn Blue is the follow up of the 2011 hit record El Camino. Considering the trailer of El Camino and that of the upcoming record, Turn Blue will be much more sinister and gloomy. The trailer of El Camino had Breaking Bad’s Bob Odenkirk selling you a car. See it here

Record Store Day 2014

Prepare for Record Store Day 2014. On April 19, the seventh edition of the international celebration will be held in indie record stores all around the world. Today, the list was revealed of all this year’s special releases. Here’s a selection:

  • Jake Bugg - Live @ Silver Platters, Seattle (live EP with acoustic versions of There’s A Beast And We All Feed It, Lightning Bolt and others)
  • Black Lips - Funny (brand new single of the latest LP Underneath The Rainbow)
  • Damon Albarn - Hollow Ponds / Lonely Press Play (double single containing two songs of Albarn’s upcoming solo album Everyday Robots)
  • David Bowie - Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide (reissue of the 1972 single from Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust era)
  • Django Django & Benedict Cumberbatch - The Porpoise Song (an already legendary collaboration between the art pop band and the actor from Sherlock and The Hobbit)
  • The Doors - Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (reissue of The Doors’ second compilation album, dating from 1972)
  • Green Day - Demolicious (collection of 18 demos from songs recorded for the trilogy ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré!, including unreleased tracks)
  • LCD Soundsystem - The Long Goodbye: Live At Madison Square Garden (a four hour-long live album, recorded at the band’s 2011 farewell show at the New York City venue - it spans five LPs and contains hits like Drunk Girls and Daft Punk Is Playing At My House)
  • Nirvana - Pennyroyal Tea (re-release of the 1994 single from the grunge band’s final album In Utero)
  • Oasis - Supersonic (reissue of the band’s debut single, dating from 1994)
  • OutKast - Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (reissue of the debut album by hip hop success duo OutKast, originally from 1994 (again!))
  • Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal (new single from the Brooklyn-based punk rock band)
  • Rammstein - Pussy / Mein Teil (re-release of the controversial 2009 single from the German industrial metal band)
  • R.E.M. - Unplugged (live album consisting of the MTV Unplugged sessions the band did in 1991 and 2001, with nearly all the hits included)
  • Ramones - Meltdown With The Ramones (re-release of the relatively unknown EP by the punk rock legends)
  • Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones EP (debut EP of the biggest band on the planet, dating from 1964 - that is before Ronnie Wood)

As usual, that’s a whole bunch of reissues, with some being rather straightforward and others being rather interesting. I am, however, mostly looking forward to that collaboration between Django Django and Benedict ‘Sherlock’ Cumberbatch, the live 5xLP by LCD Soundsystem and demo collection from Green Day. What about you?

Well, never mind then. Even though Jack White previously confirmed working on new material with the band, word is now out a reunion of The Raconteurs is off the table. “The Raconteurs (a Detroit blues rock band comprised of Jack White (The White Stripes, The Dead Weather,solo), Brendan Benson (solo), Jack Lawrence (The Dead Weather, The Greenhornes) and Patrick Keeler (The Greenhornes)) always felt spontaneous. And I think it remains that way. We never planned anything. We never planned a breakup. All of us but one live in the same town, so in the future it could very well work.. or not”, says Brendan Benson in an interview with Billboard magazine. Those given hope by Jack White’s earlier announcement will have to wait a little longer. Or a lot longer.

Foster The People - Supermodel: a track-by-track analysis

Foster The People’s recent promotion campaign was quite a thing, to put it lightly. It took several graffiti art groups 16 days of 12 hours working per day to make the mural that would reveal the artwork of the new album. The album release was preceded by three singles within three months and a number of YouTube mini-documentaries on the production process of Supermodel. Now that it has finally arrived, it is time for a good old-fashioned track-by-track analysis.

Are You What You Want To Be? - No matter how hard they try to make every song sound different, every song is a Foster The People-song instantly. This one is no exception. Are You What You Want To Be kicks off with a grand, repetitive na-na-na-na-na and then gets a thick layer of salsa music over it. This is that song that will make the festival crowds jump in ecstasy. 

Ask Yourself - A not so special indie pop tune. Never does it get truly exciting, yet never does it get overly superfluous. A typical album track.

Coming Of Age - This must be the Pumped Up Kicks of Supermodel. It breathes the spring, it’s catchy as hell and it’s a great one for the charts. A very cleverly constructed pop song. 

Nevermind - This is the best thing so far on the album. It introduces the promised guitar to the work of Foster The People and it’s an acoustic one. Nevermind starts off as a bit of a misfit, calm and bluesy as it is, but as soon as the reverb comes in, it’s undoubtedly a Foster The People-song. 

Pseudologia Fantastica - And again we are overwhelmed by synthesizers, keys and sound effects. Delicious. Pseudologia Fantastica is distinctive for the theme of Supermodel: the ugly side of consumerism and capitalism combined with the personal issues of singer Mark Foster.

The Angelic Welcome Of Mr. Jones - A heavenly interlude which has several layers of backing vocals, lead by Mark Foster, singing peacefully. C’est tout.

Best Friend - This song and especially the chorus must have been made as an alternative party anthem, but even now, Foster The People just doesn’t give in on quality and originality. Best Friend distinguishes itself from the other songs on the album by its heavy bass and prominent percussion. I just noticed.

A Beginner’s Guide To Destroying The Moon - A little playing with computer sounds is fluently followed by a heavy guitar. So this is what it sounds like when Foster The People flirts with hard rock. It even has an epic guitar solo. Wouldn’t be misplaced in a stadium. And still. There is that Foster The People-sound. 

Goats In Trees - Admit it, this is the song you’ve been looking most forward to: Goats In Trees. This feeling is completely justified, though this track is probably not completely what you expected after having heard the title. Of all these instant Foster The People-songs, this one is the least recognizable. It is a bare, acoustic ballad with sporadic sound effects and few unexpected turns. But that is probably the intensity of the song. 

The Truth - Unlike many big releases nowadays, Supermodel only gets better when nearing the end. The Truth is another ‘different’ song. It is more serious in tone and alternates minimal rhythm with top-notch soundscapes. 

Fire Escape - Wow, wait, what? Another guitar ballad? And this one barely has any decorations of any kind at all. Yet, not in any way is this a dull track. We now know what makes a Foster The People-song a Foster The People-song. It is that oh-so recognizable, phenomenal voice of Mark Foster. Magnificent.

And that’s it for Foster The People’s second album. The band has made and still makes a lot of radio-friendly songs that are equally effective on their own. Still, and that really applies for Supermodel, you should play the entire record from beginning to end to hear the originality and integrity these guys from California have put in the last four or five tracks.

Note: This track-by-track analysis was written during a first listen. It is therefore completely objective and not always as coherent as I like my articles to be. Thanks!

Down

It certainly is something different. The Kooks have officially returned from a long time away with their with their new single Down, which premiered tonight on Zane Lowe’s at BBC Radio 1. On April 18, the band will release an EP of which this is the title track.

Just like Arctic Monkeys did last year, The Kooks have experimented with hip hop while creating a new sound. But where Arctic Monkeys picked the groovy, cool sound of Dr. Dre as their example, The Kooks seem to have primarily focused on the playful sound of, say, DJ Jazzy Jeff. 

But that is all talking of a non-hip hop expert. Let’s just say The Kooks have tried hard and succeeded in leaving the rather unsuccessful third record Junk Of The Heart behind and with this new, clean, catchy, energetic sound, the guys from Brighton might just get the festival crowds jumping and dancing again very easily.

The Strokes’ latest album Comedown Machine came without anyone noticing it and more than a year after the release there still is no activity surrounding the New York City band. Yet, frontman Julian Casablancas has unveiled a rather exciting teaser trailer for an upcoming solo album. In two minutes, we see rioters, games and television screens, alongside heavy guitars and sci-fi synthesizer sounds. That would make an experimental record. Too bad these are the only things we know so far. More details on Julian Casablancas’ second solo LP is expected soon. 

A Guide To Music In March 2014

If you don’t like doing the research yourself: here’s a list of albums scheduled for release this month that you just might enjoy. 

They have left the comparison with The White Stripes far behind: Blood Red Shoes. With their fourth, self-titled album, the girl/boy duo from Brighton has laid the focus on stoner rock, thereby also incorporating their more up-tempo and dynamic own sound. // A lot of similarities can be drawn between Pharrell Williams and Justin Timberlake. Both started their solo career with hip hop, both enjoy singing a falsetto and both incorporate soul and funk in their pop music. Difference: on G I R L, Pharrell emphasizes the funk aspect and his songs are more playful than those of Timberlake. Interesting fact: Pharrell’s second solo record has collaborations with Daft Punk, Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus and, indeed, Justin Timberlake. Both the albums mentioned above are out on March 3.

A number of years ago Red Hot Chili Pepper’s former bassist John Frusciante made the switch to electronica. Now, with his new supergroup Kimono Kult he makes another switch to the Spanish language. The band’s debut EP Hiding In The Light, out March 4,is full of bass and soundscapes. // Even before being released Atlas by Real Estate has been praised as one for the year-end lists. Well, we don’t know what is still to come, but sure thing is this neo-psychedelic indie surf rock group from New Jersey have done a really good job. In stores on the fourth.

Elbow were a little doubtful when it comes to the title of their newest album. The final title The Take Off And Landing Of Everything was preceded by All At Once and Carry Her, Carry Me. Allegedly, singer Guy Garvey not only changed the album title, but also repeatedly adapted the song lyrics to his current personal circumstances. Let’s hope this new record, out on March 10, is a bit more consistent when it comes to the music. // On the same day comes the debut of a folk singer-songwriter whose indie folk music is authentic and warm, but could just make it far on the charts. Dan Croll's album Sweet Disarray breathes the spring and can be labelled both accessible and cheerful. 

Who isn’t cheered up immediately by the sound of Foster The People. Thank the gods March 18 brings along their second album Supermodel: a record that is supposed to be more human and organic that its predecessor Torches (2011) and also has more guitars and instruments from around the globe included. Judged by singles Coming Of Age and Pseudologia Fantastica, it’ll be awesome.  // Black Lips from Atlanta have been moving feet since 1999 and will continue this with their newest LP Underneath The Rainbow. Ever since their formation, the quartet has only gained more strength with their lo-fi yet intelligent garage rock. Underneath The Rainbow is out on the eighteenth. // And now for a little subtlety: Lyla Foy, a London-based singer-songwriter whose music is based on electronics and lead by the voice of an angel. Perfect to end the winter with.  

Their debut was internationally praised and two years later Howler has returned with the follow-up World Of Joy. The recipe is simple: guitar + bass + drums + a singer with a cold = clean garage rock with a catchy thing to it. March 24 it is. 

So, that is March. Eat your heart out, April!