Sgt. Pepper's Strawberry Jam
Grizzly Bear - "Will Calls (Marfa Demo)" (from Shields: B-Sides)

Most bands would be thrilled with a cut like “Will Calls,” but Grizzly Bear relegates it to a B-Sides album.

Before I say something hyperbolic and overwhelmingly positive, I want to note that writing this music blog is odd because I’m not covering anything that I don’t like. The 200 Pitchfork people’s list albums that I covered were refreshing in part because I got to be critical of music instead of saying that everything was wonderful and if you’re not listening to this then there’s something wrong with you.

Such is the tension that exists in this blog, which hasn’t decided if it’s a full-fledged personal blog or if it wants to be something slightly closer to music journalism. I didn’t really think this through when Sgt. Pepper’s Strawberry Jam was born in the Spring of 2010. At that point, I just wanted to give my music obsession more permanence than my last.fm page. 563 posts later, I’m still not sure what I’m doing.

That being said, if you’re not listening to this, there’s something wrong with you.

(Jokes!)

Grizzly Bear - “Will Calls (Marfa Demo)”

Drake - "Worst Behavior" (from Nothing Was The Same)

WORST!

Drake - “Worst Behavior”

First Listen: Milosh, 'Jetlag'

As a Rhye fanboy, I can’t ignore this release. After one listen, I’m not sure what to think- it’s almost begging to be a Rhye album, but, of course, it’s not. I think I’ll have to listen a few more times to figure it out.

Autre Ne Veut - "Ego Free Sex Free" (from Anxiety)

Apparently I’m a huge sucker for PB&B or R-Neg-B or whatever. We’ve covered this before.

Autre Ne Veut - “Ego Free Sex Free”

Andrew Bird - "Something Biblical" (from Hands of Glory)
10 plays

I’m seeing Andrew Bird for the third (should be fourth, curse you oversleeping!) time on Saturday. My personal indie revolution started with the whistles and loops of Mr. Bird, as I bought a ticket for a show that I would literally have to fly to, having not heard his music at the time of purchase.

Long story short- it was the catalyst of a fantastic semester of new friends in Budapest telling me about a bunch of amazing bands that I for some reason had written off as pretentious (what?). The weekend escape from Budapest to Madrid to see my first Andrew Bird show wasn’t half bad, either.

Andrew Bird - “Something Biblical”

Run The Jewels - "36" Chain" (from Run The Jewels)

How come no one in my life in July said, “Steve, listen to Run The Jewels?”

Hmm?

Run The Jewels - “36” Chain”

Cancel The Astronauts - "Making Dynamite" (from Animal Love Match)
9 plays

I was in Scotland last week for a conference, so I went to a record store- Avalanche Records- and asked for some relatively unknown Scottish indie. The proprietor recommended several album to me, but I ended buying two. The first is from the band “Cancel The Astronauts,” a band name that makes me sad because, well, NASA. They are a pleasant indie pop outfit. Their lead singer sounds not unlike Ted Leo, so take that or leave that.

But yeah, it’s a fun album.

Cancel The Astronauts - “Making Dynamite”

Arctic Monkeys - "R U Mine?" (from AM)

I always underestimate Arctic Monkeys. For each of their albums since #2, Favourite Worst Nightmare, I’ve been hesitant to even listen. But now for the third straight time, first Humbug, the Suck It And See, and now AM, they’ve surprised me with a fresh-sounding, highly listenable set of songs. Maybe my high school taste wasn’t so bad after all (in some cases).

Arctic Monkeys - “R U Mine?”

Local Natives - "Sun Hands" (from Gorilla Manor)
19 plays

I saw Local Natives at the Fox last night. I saw them open for The National two years ago, and their live show has improved considerably. The obvious confidence they’ve gained in putting out Hummingbird, a much more ambitious album than Gorilla Manor, has seeped into their live performance.

I don’t mean to hate on Gorilla Manor, though. Among their best performances last night were Airplanes (of course), an acoustic, La Blogotheque-referencing Who Knows, Who Cares (that video was largely responsible for me getting into the band in the first place), and their gut-busting closer, Sun Hands.

Colombia, a devastatingly sad cut on Hummingbird was kind of ruined by the uberdrunk undulations and scream-talking of a girl standing right by me. Alas.

Rhye - "Open" (from Woman)
9 plays

Yeezus is probably going to be my album of the year, but Rhye’s freshman effort is trying REALLY HARD to make my decision difficult.

Also in the running:

  • Modern Vampires of the City
  • Whatever Drake and Arcade Fire come up with, probably

Earl Sweatshirt feat. Frank Ocean - "Sunday" (from Doris)
79 plays

Earl Sweatshirt’s first proper album comes out today. It’s Tuesday, but hey, here’s to Sunday. And to Frank Ocean rapping, for good measure.

Earl Sweatshirt feat. Frank Ocean - “Sunday”

Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Electronica - "Control (HOF)"
40 plays

You’ve probably heard this about a million other places online already, but I can’t not share it.

Kendrick DESTROYS the rap game with his verse on this track which was cut from Big Sean’s upcoming album. Apparently it was cut because of sample clearance issues, but realistically, it’s probably because Big Sean was so thoroughly embarrassed by how bad Kendrick made everyone else sound.

Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Electronica - “Control (HOF)”

Julian Fulton and the Zombie Gospel - "Lie" (from Heart & Arms)

Sometimes bands send me things via Tumblr. Sometimes that stuff is pretty good.

For example:

Julian Fulton and the Zombie Gospel - “Lie”

Outside Lands 2013

I just got home from the third straight day of basking in the fog of Golden Gate Park for the Outside Lands music festival. This yeah I saw partial or full sets by (highlights in bold):

Friday

  • Smith Westerns
  • Surfer Blood
  • Wavves
  • Jessie Ware
  • Rhye
  • The National
  • Yeasayer
  • Paul McCartney

Saturday

  • Youth Lagoon
  • Jurassic 5
  • The Tallest Man On Earth
  • Grizzly Bear
  • Phoenix

Sunday

  • Foals
  • Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
  • A-Trak
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Matt & Kim
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Kaskade

It was a special weekend, featuring four of my top ten (top 5?) indie rock bands: The National, Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, and Grizzly Bear. I’ve now seen The National and Vampire Weekend 3 times each, but it was my first time seeing Phoenix and The Grizzly Bears (as Jay Z would say).

I’ve been loving Rhye’s early 2013 debut album, “Woman,” so I was jazzed to see them in the park. They did not disappoint, and they looked like they were enjoying themselves just about as much as possible (ok, Matt & Kim were clearly enjoying themselves but it was part of their act in a way that Rhye’s was just honest-to-goodness excitement to be singing love songs to thousands of attentive ears… and Paul McCartney was enjoying himself in a very “Hey, damn, I’m Paul McCartney” kind of way). I’m hoping that Rhye return to the Bay Area soon- I’d love to see them in a small club.

And speaking of Paul McCartney, he played a mind-blowingly good two and half hour long set. That man has still got it. I went through my own personal Beatlemania four summers ago, and I felt myself propelled back into that mode of just loving every word of every song. His set was well balanced between newer McCartney and Beatles favorites. He closed the set with the Abbey Road medley, which is about as much as I could have asked for. Blackbird, Hey Jude, Yesterday, and Helter Skelter were other highlights, but his uke-first rendition of Something (which I believe they played for the first time during the Concert For George)… well, I’ll remember that forever.