Easy Street Blog
POSTED BY Rod ON Tue Jul 22, 10:59 AM
Common - Nobody's Smiling
"Public Image Limited told us anger is an energy, and that holds true for the veteran MC Common, who channels his rage at the violent troubles in his home city of Chicago with this intensely introspective new record. It's a return to Common's social-observer roots as he's helped by producer No I.D., who provides an expansive sonic canvas for the MC to paint his bleak portraits of a city in distress. Although 'The Neighborhood,' 'Nobody’s Smiling' (with beats echoing gunshots), and the gospel-infused 'Kingdom' are Chicago-specific, Common clearly suggests that the nihilism and chaos reverberate nationally. Frequently his usual velvet flow turns brittle and frayed, mirroring the fraught material. He gives the disc more dimension by including a nostalgic banger ('Diamonds') and an elegant elegy for the late producer and friend J Dilla ('Rewind That'). With electrifying cameos from Chicago's Vince Staples and song-stealing Dreezy, these vital, relevant tracks remind how good Common can be when he's focused." - Ken Capobianco, Boston Globe
Raveonettes - Pe'ahi
"Named after a Hawaiian hot spot for surfers, appropriate considering their predilection for 1960's surfer sounds, Pe'ahi ditches their 60's girl band aspirations and steps away from unpure pop to revisit the C86 fizz and Mary Chain clutter of earlier material. By cranking up the noise, they come up with their most abrasive sounding release since 2007's Lust Lust Lust. It's a move that provides some worthy additions to their canon; 'Sisters' and 'Z-Boys' are forlorn moments of brutal beauty, some of their most upfront pieces of music to date which combine aggression with pretty melancholy. The trip hop beats of 'Wake Me Up' are accompanied with dramatic sweeps of orchestration and some of Sharin Foo's sweetest vocals to date, whilst the dazed and glitchy 'When the Night is Almost Done' is a reverbed seeped epic moment which covers all of the usual typical topics with just one couplet: 'When the love dies/do we die too? I wasted my time with you tonight/I wish I could see behind your eyes.' ... If you’re already a fan, then you might find this is all you require of them, but if you expect a band this far down the line to be taking a few more risks, Pe'ahi, despite being entertaining, cries out for something we haven't heard from them before." - Chris Todd, The Line Of Best Fit
Richard Thompson - Acoustic Classics
"UK veteran Richard Thompson's previous Buddy Miller-produced release was entitled Electric, so this oppositely named follow-up provides the unplugged response. But instead of new material, Thompson raids his existing bulging catalog to rearrange earlier tunes, adding a few obscurities, for solo acoustic guitar. Anyone who has watched Thompson hush a crowd with only his unamplified guitar and voice knows that his jaw dropping virtuosity is just as impressive, arguably more so, in that format. You have to look closely to see that there isn't another person on stage when he lets loose with a flurry of runs that seems impossible for only two hands to accomplish. That talent easily translates to this self-released set of 14 tracks. It's an hour of prime unaccompanied Thompson that finds him running through some of his better known tunes by generally staying true to the original arrangements – this is no Bob Dylan at Budokan set of radical reinterpretations — and stripping the instrumentation down. Some selections don't vary much from the initial recorded ones – '1952 Vincent Black Lightning,' 'Down Where the Drunkards Roll,' 'Beeswing' and 'One Door Opens' were already acoustic performances – but these updated versions bring a newfound fire and/or subtlety. Yet others such as the more upbeat 'Valerie,' 'When the Spell is Broken,' 'Wall of Death' and 'Shoot Out the Lights' reflect a sublime power and presence in these starker performances. A few are no longer in print, so this is also a way for Thompson to reclaim songs that might have faded into obscurity. ... Thompson is in top form as he spins through catalog highlights with all the intensity and punch you would expect from this journeyman." - Hal Horowitz, American Songwriter
La Roux - Trouble In Paradise
"This isn't the way it's meant to go. Back in the mists of pop time, aka 2009, singer Elly Jackson and producer Ben Langmaid, aka La Roux, led a wave of 1980s synth-pop fetishisation with a couple of sleek hits and a lesser album. But when it came to following it up, delay followed delay, Jackson split from Langmaid, and the charts moved on to 1990s house fetishisation. It seemed safe to assume that La Roux's future lay as a pub quiz answer ('or was it Little Boots?') What a wonder this is then: a supremely self-assured work from the now-solo Jackson that sees the temperature rising, to quote opener 'Uptight Downtown.' Gone is the chilly retro-futurism of yore, replaced by a lissom tropical-pop sound, complete with funk guitar, calypso rhythms and love among the palm trees. Indeed, it's the full aural package holiday, ranging from the the Club Tropicana kitsch of 'Kiss and Not Tell.' to the sunset-primed chillout ballad 'Paradise is You.' It's no mere summer sojourn, though: the vacation vibe belies Jackson's exquisite craftmanship. Which is to say songs continue to stretch and bend beyond their killer choruses: see 'Cruel Sexuality,' which begins as a jaunty funk number but turns unexpectedly tortured via a claustrophobic, clubby middle-eight. Or 'Let Me Down Gently:' a fragile electro-torch song that builds into a euphoric, cathartic barnstormer, complete with skyscraping sax solo. At only nine tracks long, but with every one of them worthy of single status, it displays, as pop albums go, both rare economy and staggering consistency. Sorry Ms Jackson, we know you're for real." - Hugh Montgomery, The Independent
Alvvays - Alvvays
"Canadian quintet Alvvays (pronounced 'Always') burst out of the gates with their self-titled 2014 debut, a brief but bright collection of nine songs of nearly perfect, sugar-coated indie pop. The band call on inspiration from the jangly C-86 movement and bands like the Wedding Present or Talulah Gosh, but also lean on the fuzzy, homespun spirit of early American independent bedroom pop and twee while steeping their tunes in a languid dreaminess borrowed from Teenage Fanclub at their most wistful. The album opens with the one-two punch of 'Adult Diversion' and 'Archie, Marry Me,' two single-worthy songs of noisy guitars, gloriously deadpan vocal harmonies, and sticky melodies cemented in the listener's skull by the interplay between guitar and singer Molly Rankin's cascading vocals. The album is full of highlights, from the synthy melancholia of 'Party Police' to the Orange Juice-esque interweaving guitar lines of 'Atop a Cake.' While Alvvays relies on the same reverb-heavy production that an entire generation of beach-obsessed indie pop bands has tended toward, they surpass many of their peers by delivering more inspired songs, often with unexpected shifts or breakthrough moments. This debut surpasses simply being 'promising' by delivering pop as beautifully composed as that of contemporaries like Pains of Being Pure at Heart or Veronica Falls, while also tying in sentiments of punk gusto, twee wonderment, and dream pop thoughtfulness without relying strictly on the musical blueprints of any of those genres. Instead, Alvvays find a way to articulate their heart-struck, dream-like songs with deft intention and control." - Fred Thomas, All Music
5 Seconds Of Summer - 5 Seconds of Summer
"It's been 15 years since LFO sang 'I like girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch' on a smash single called 'Summer Girls.' Michael Cliord, Luke Hemmings, Calum Hood and Ashton Irwin were toddlers back then, but whatever the decade, teens sure don't tire of cute boys singing about babes and clothes. These four Aussies with aw-shucks grins and low-slung guitars named themselves after the correct season (summer, duh) and name-checked the right store (American Apparel) for their international hit 'She Looks So Perfect' – a sublime three-minute wallop of 'hey-ey-ey-ey's, crunchy chords and gym-class angst. Though they wield guitars and punk-y attitude, 5SOS actually have a lot more One Direction than Green Day in their DNA. They got their start covering pop and R&B artists like Chris Brown on YouTube and share management with the British heartthrobs in 1D. The band's members pitched in writing for nearly every track on their debut, which starts with 'She Looks So Perfect' and proceeds through 11 more übertame pop-punk songs about love and heartbreak that wish they were as great (power ballad 'Beside You' comes closest). Still, their self-deprecating tunes have their charms: 'Call me lucky,' one of the guys sings on 'End Up Here,' ''cause in the end I'm a six and she's a 10.'" - Caryn Ganz, Rolling Stone
NOTE: We only have time to spotlight a fraction of the new releases out each week in the Fresh Sheet. See our full list here!
POSTED BY Rod ON Tue Jul 22, 08:12 AM
Oh yeah, baby....come sail away on the time-travel express back to the glorious '80s, when the radio was packed with hits by the mighty Foreigner and Styx, who will both be rockin' Marymoor Park on August 1st! Nothing will get you more hot blooded than winning a pair of tickets from us...and the show itself will undoubtedly make you and your babe feel like the first time! Wanna know what love is? Enter to win by e-mailing email@example.com with the subject line "Dirty White Boy" and please include first & last name with entry. We'll draw a winner on 8/30. Good luck!
Contests leave you cold as ice? Buy tickets here!
POSTED BY Rod ON Mon Jul 21, 02:48 PM
Happy 66th birthday, Cat Stevens! Who else was born on this day??
POSTED BY Rod ON Mon Jul 21, 09:53 AM
Foxygen's bio describes their sound as "the raw, de-Wes Andersonization of The Rolling Stones, Kinks, Velvets, Bowie, etc. that a whole mess of young people desperately need." If that sounds as good to you as it does to us, perhaps you'll want to enter our contest for a pair of tickets to their 7/31 show at Neumos! Enter to win by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "No Destruction" and please include first & last name with entry. We'll draw a winner on 7/29. Good luck!
Not one to take chances? Buy tickets here!
POSTED BY Rod ON Fri Jul 18, 02:52 PM
Bleachers is the side project of Jack Antonoff, guitarist for the ridiculously successful NYC band, fun. Bleachers' new single, "I Wanna Get Better," is being called "the catchiest song of 2014" (Huffington Post), "the song of the summer" (Spin), and Alternative Press takes it a bit further, saying of the debut full length: "You're unlikely to hear a more earnest album than Bleachers' Strange Desire this year, nor are you apt to find a release more faithful to the spirit and sound of Top 40 radio in the late, great '80s." So you want some summer jams? Well good, because we're giving away a test pressing of the new album on clear vinyl! Enter to win it by e-mailing email@example.com with the subject line "Strange Desire" and please include first & last name with entry. Winner must be able to pick up prize at our West Seattle store. Good luck!
POSTED BY Rod ON Fri Jul 18, 11:20 AM
Happy 73rd birthday to Martha Reeves of Martha & The Vandellas! Who else was born today??
POSTED BY Rod ON Fri Jul 18, 10:35 AM
"Weird Al" Yankovic's new CD, Mandatory Fun, dropped this week, and the hive is already buzzing about his videos for "TACKY," "Word Crimes," and "Foil." The vinyl version is not out until August 5th, but one lucky, wacky person can get a jump on it by winning our contest for a signed test pressing! To enter, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Mandatory Fun" and please include first & last name with entry. Winner must be able to pick up prize at our West Seattle store. Good luck, weirdos!