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Archive for the ‘podcast’ Category

“Reign of Terror,” Sleigh Bells

In Album, podcast on February 24, 2012 at 6:08 am

It begins in the most appropriate place:  the surge of an arena-sized crowd, primed and ready for the show. Anticipation peaks as the lights drop. The band dives headfirst into ten sublime tracks of stomping, pulsating metal-fused anthems. But this isn’t a sweaty, muscle-shirt-meathead-four-piece. This isn’t Slayer, or Ratt, or Def Leppard. This is Sleigh Bells: a hipster chic boy-girl duo with confidence aplenty and seemingly nothing to prove. They know their job. Their job is to rock. And rock they do, with triplet echo guitars.

This all could have gone so badly: from their 2009 debut “Treats” all the way up to the early buzz and Marianas Trench pressure of this follow up. But like a pyrotechnic explosion at the edge of the stage “Reign of Terror” delivers on every fist-pumping promise made by its predecessor. If “Treats” felt fresh and bold, this one is bewildering and intoxicating. For every buzzsaw guitar riff and stadium-sized hook (“Comeback Kid”) there are delicate, beguiling waves of gentle exuberance (“You Lost Me”). Even up in the nosebleeds we’re swooning. And pumping our fists, indulging in the big sounds and the big hooks. This reign of terror is frighteningly fantastic.

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Click here for a Spotify playlist of Sleigh Bells’ “Reign of Terror.”

Whitney Houston, Tribute

In podcast, Tribute on February 17, 2012 at 7:24 am

The news of Whitney Houston’s death is like losing a little of my adolescence. Whitney was there for my first sleepover, for my first kiss, for growing up. She was such an overwhelming example of a woman: sexy, gorgeous, hardcore, powerful, and seemingly independent. That smile, the way she made you dance, and of course, the voice. “How Will I Know,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “You Give Good Love;” these are the songs that make you feel good about having fun. And then those anthems—the ones that may have literally made the world a little more lovely: “One Moment In Time,” “Didn’t We Almost Have it All,” and “I Will Always Love You.” Damn if she can’t have you bopping around the room and then nearly in tears. Sometimes I don’t know if I believe in true love and all the sap that comes along with it, but, Whitney did, and that makes me want to believe in it. The Bodyguard will no doubt be playing on cable nonstop for the next few weeks; I’m sure I’ll watch it, but more than anything, I’ll be thinking about what a huge influence Whitney had on music: thank you, woman. Now, get out there and feel the heat with somebody.

-Micah Ling

Click here to subscribe to the official Beat Jab podcast via iTunes.

Etta James (Tribute)

In podcast, Uncategorized on January 27, 2012 at 8:40 am

No doubt iTunes and Spotify have been blown up with Etta James searches since the announcement of her death last Friday. She was a legend. She is a legend. These people never really die. But the news is crushing: just the knowing that we won’t get any more from them—that we’ll have to savior what we already have. The first thing that I listened to when I got the news, was her rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” I know: not “At Last” or “I’d Rather Go Blind”? I always think it’s momentous when legendary artists try their hand at someone else’s material. I like that. An acknowledgment of admiration for other artists. A reminder that even the most famous—the most admirable—absolutely love the creativity of their craft, and are constantly learning. (Also, I kind of have a thing for Prince). But then I listened to “Something’s Got A Hold On Me,” and damn: such an anthem of the dizziness that comes with falling in love. James has that intoxication: she gives me butterflies for real. Celebrate this woman and this voice—get the hell out of your chair and give the woman a movement.

-Micah Ling

Top Ten Albums of 2011: #1 Bon Iver and Beirut

In Beat Jab Best of 2011, podcast on December 16, 2011 at 6:10 am

Beat Jab’s Best of 2011 rolls into the station today with Jay and Micah picking their favorite albums of the year. Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to check out our official Beat Jab Best of 2011 Spotify playlist and well as the Beat Jab Podcast. This week features an extra-long Best Of edition with tracks from the top five. Subscribe via iTunes by clicking here!

We’ll see you in 2012!!!

#1 Album of the year:

Micah Ling:

Bon Iver: “Bon Iver”

This album may redefine how you think about music and sound altogether. For me, the concert in Indianapolis (reviewed here earlier this year) became the experience that all other concerts have to live up to. The album was so highly anticipated that it almost became nerve wracking. But it delivered—and continues to. The sound is so stripped down and meditative—and somehow absolutely rocking. Justin Vernon is messing with genre and everything else that tends to classify music. This album won’t get old; it might just define each emotion you experience.

Jay Cullis:

Baroque, bold and beguiling, no album this year entered so unexpectedly. Last time around, bandleader Zach Condon was indulging his every musical whim. But on “The Rip Tide” all those here-and-gone melodies instead linger. Rather than traipse off to the musical wilderness of gypsy traditionals or French cabarets, Condon chooses to focus on home. It’s the sound of an orbit making a final turn – a pulling back and setting a definite course. It’s a postcard: succinct, but touched by remorse and regret. Every trip has its end. If only all endings were so sweet.

Click here to subscribe to the official Beat Jab Podcast on iTunes.

Click here to link to our Beat Jab Best of 2011 Spotify playlist. The playlist will update every day with new albums from our list.

Top Ten Albums of 2011: #5 Beirut and Fleet Foxes

In Beat Jab Best of 2011, podcast on December 12, 2011 at 9:47 am

This week Beat Jab continues our look at our favorite albums of 2011…

#5 Album of the year:

Jay Cullis:

Fleet Foxes: “Helplessness Blues”

Was there a more honest record this year? One more traumatic? One more in tune with the grief that we all eventually face? By the time Robin Pecknold wails about the “sunlight over me no matter what I do,” you realize where he’s at.  And he knows it too. This light – this, the simplest, most elementary factor in the solar system – this is all there is. The planets spin around the sun. The moon obits the earth. The stars move across the sky from east to west. We love. We hurt, time and again. It’s elementary. But it’s not easy.

Micah Ling:

Beirut: “The Rip Tide”

This band emerged in 2006, but feels like it’s still just getting started. There’s a lot of jazz here, a lot of world music and smart, young musicians who have been to interesting places. Place is important—ask any writer. The Rip Tide is where things just seem to fall into place. It’s short and nearly perfect. It feels old-fashioned: these songs stick with you, all day, and they’re comforting. What ever this band does next will likely be vastly different from this album, but they will, no doubt, continue to be worth following.

Click here to subscribe to the official Beat Jab Podcast on iTunes.

Click here to link to our Beat Jab Best of 2011 Spotify playlist. The playlist will update every day with new albums from our list.

Long Live the King, The Decemberists

In EP, podcast on November 11, 2011 at 10:37 am

This is, perhaps, the very definition of EP: it’s exactly that—an extension of the ever-popular The King is Dead. The titles even mesh. And the EP is just as likable as the album that came out back in January. The six-track collection starts with a murder ballad—it’s reminiscent of Jack White—it’s old and new at once. “Row Jimmy” is a well-done Grateful Dead cover (is that ironic?) It feels like summer in some out-of-the-way bar, even when you know winter is coming. “I 4 U & U 4 Me” is why The Decemberists are loved—it’s nearly impossible not to just love the sound here—not to want to hear it over and over. “Sonnet” rounds this tight EP out. Traditionally, a sonnet is known to be a “little song:” it tells of some sort of problem and turns toward a solution. If those horns aren’t the solution to whatever sort of problem you may be in the middle of, well, keep reading sonnets—keep listening to this EP. Life has its ups and downs—it’s little struggles that are always littler than they seem. On Spotify, you can listen to Long Live the King and The King is Dead back-to-back. Do that.

-Micah Ling

Check out the latest Beat Jab podcast via iTunes

Smile Sessions, The Beach Boys

In Album, podcast on November 4, 2011 at 9:13 am

They say the human voice is the most remarkable of the instruments. Primal, guttural, angelic, soaring. Voices can bring a tear to my eye sooner than any trumpet, guitar, or cello. The unparalleled voices of the Beach Boys pushed serious boundaries by career’s end. That pushing – captured here in great detail – eventually crushed them. We’ve seen Smile before in various forms:  the abbreviated Smiley Smile and Brian Wilson’s recreation in 2004. But here we have it as it was intended:  from the mouths of the Beach Boys themselves. Toss aside surf music clichés and you’re left with bizarrely arresting pop music. Forsaking instrumentation the Boys create a-capella soundscapes unlike anything they’d ever committed to tape. Brian Wilson’s tragic genius is in full effect, as well as his crisp, clear and commanding voice (recently tested in the high registers). A masterpiece of vocal composition and instrumental orchestration, Smile is the history of America seen from its shores. Byzantine, it flits between banjo-plucked Americana, lounge swing, chain-gang chanting, and church choir hymns. Like waves crashing on a shore, songs come and go. But linger awhile and you’ll find yourself catching the big one and riding it to shore.

-Jay Cullis

Check out the latest Beat Jab podcast via iTunes

Skate Away by Seth Pettersen

In EP, podcast on October 21, 2011 at 11:48 am

This is bottled sunshine. It’s surf, sand and skateparks. And it’s familiar territory for this Southern California songwriter. With a short, sweet EP Seth Pettersen reaches beyond pop sentimentality and surf guitars to plumb the deeper waters offshore. But even in the deepest waters, this lifelong surfer knows that sometimes a sandbar pops up and you can put down your feet. Survey the scene. Behind the sundown glow and the salty hair, Pettersen sees something somber and reflective. At first he’s ready to run from the hurt. “I think I know what to do/to take away my safety blues,” he sings in “Biscuits (Disarm Everything). Skate, surf, run – for the first half of this short EP it’s flight over fight. But toward the end of the record Pettersen faces up those fears and the songs take on new life. “Mother is a Moth” is a beautiful dirge. “Once in a While” is a hula funeral fueled by the slide guitar work of Neal Casal (guitarist for Ryan Adams’ now defunct band The Cardinals). “Is it better to turn than to face your fear?” In answering that question, Pettersen swims away from shore only to return again riding the tide.

-Jay Cullis

Seth Pettersen

Check out the latest Beat Jab Podcast via iTunes

Ashes & Fire, Ryan Adams

In Album, podcast on October 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

Is this Ryan Adams’ best work? Not by a long shot. But those who would complain that Adams has gotten stagnant – that his songwriting is suffering from a lack of drama and his musicality suffers from a lack of Cardinals – are missing out. This is perfect autumn music. The songs are fire-lit and warm, the palette gray and brown and drab. These are not the story songs we’re used to. These are sketches – leaves falling from branches. They tend toward sentimentality. There’s a soft-rock Nora Jones aspect here, which is fitting considering she guests on a couple tracks. But his songs tend to grow like storms brewing on the horizon. Right now they’re just dark clouds, but give them time. Whatever comes, a weary Adams seems peculiarly prepared to weather it out. When the pace picks up it’s a welcome relief from some of the more somber walks. And there are certainly somber walks here. Adams said the album is about sitting in one place, decaying and being reborn at the same time. It’s about looking backwards and forwards simultaneously. He said (back in 2009) that he’d never record another record. Here’s to more looking forward.

-Jay Cullis

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Torches, Foster the People

In Album, Concert, podcast on October 7, 2011 at 9:09 am

Don’t dismiss this as techno: it’s not. This is as interesting as The Temper Tramp and Neon Trees and Band of Horses. They’re poppy but they’re also throw-back. You’ll get glimpses of the 70’s disco ball here. Sure, you can dance to this stuff—workout and whatever—but it’s more than just a strong beat. It’s falsetto and electronic and rock, but somehow easy to listen to. The kind of thing you play at a party and have everyone noticeably happy. “Pumped up Kicks” is one of the more popular tracks, but rightfully so: it makes you wait almost too long to get in. And then it gives that narrative that isn’t as cheerful as the beat suggests. Mark Foster is doing things—subtly. It’s no surprise that these guys are almost artificially attractive: synthesized good looks. Of course they fell into fame—they’re the cool kids at school, but, the ones you can’t help liking, can’t help having a crush on. “Miss You,” one of the lesser- played songs on the album, lends itself to a memorable echo-beat that almost loses itself, but then ends starkly for a perfect transition into the final track, “Warrant.” Keep an eye on these guys: how can you not?

-Micah Ling

Check out our review of the Foster the People concert in Indianapolis via NUVO.

Video from the Indianapolis concert.

And of course, the latest podcast via iTunes!