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Monday, Jul 19, 2010
by PopMatters Staff

Klaxons
Surfing the Void
(Polydor)
Releasing: 23 August (UK)


British psych rockers offer up their latest album this August in the UK while the US release date remains up in the air. There are already two videos to sample the new music though. Videos and stream after the jump.


SONG LIST
01 Echoes
02 Same Space
03 Surfing the Void
04 Valley of the Calm Trees
05 Venusia
06 Extra Astronomical
07 Twin Flames
08 Flashover
09 Future Memories
10 Cypher Speed


Tagged as: klaxons
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Thursday, Jul 15, 2010

Radiohead’s drummer Phil Selway has an album approaching in August titled Familial. And kindly enough, he has offered up a free MP3 for anyone who signs up for his mailing list. “By Some Miracle” isn’t even three minutes long, but it’s the quality that counts. It shows that Selway, in addition to keeping time with one of the better rock bands of our time, has a natural knack for songwriting. Hopefully the rest of Familial will measure up.


[Download]



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Monday, Jul 12, 2010

Legendary British metal band Iron Maiden posted a link recently to download a “preview” track from their upcoming studio album The Final Frontier, slated for release in August. This will be the band’s 15th studio album, three decades after their self-titled debut. The preview song, titled “El Dorado”, will be the second track from the new album, and it clocks in at nearly seven minutes. 


While initially excited about hearing a new song from one of my favorite bands, after an email discussion with a friend and fellow metal fan, I started to have some doubts. Iron Maiden has had an incredible career, but the last two releases have hardly had the same energy and depth of earlier work. Regardless, I downloaded the track from the band’s website.


Upon first listen, I thought about the positives first. The song has all of the trademarks of a good metal song: raw, heavy guitar riffs, a tight rhythm section, and lyrics full of mythical imagery. I found myself nodding my head or rapping my fingers along to the beat numerous times. Afterwards, however, I was left with one nagging question, and that question wiped out any of the positives I just named.


Why does it sound like American thrash metal?


This isn’t the Iron Maiden that I know. The band’s trademark sound—Bruce Dickinson’s inimitable vocals, intricate guitar work by Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, and Janick Gers, all laid down over Steve Harris’ galloping bass lines and Nicko McBrain’s drums—only presents itself in a few brief instances on “El Dorado”. - As a Maiden fan, and a metal fan in general, I found myself wanting more. Perhaps that’s one of the pitfalls of being in a band like Iron Maiden. The bar is set so high that it’s hard for to match up to what’s been done in the past. I hardly expected another “Run to the Hills”, “Aces High”, or “Wasted Years”, but I expected something better than this. I will admit that after listening to “El Dorado” half a dozen times, it’s started to grow on me, and perhaps when I listen to the remainder of the album this song will sound better to me. For now, I’ll rate this one on the low end, with hopes that I’ll change my mind after hearing The Final Frontier in its entirety this summer.



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Monday, Jul 12, 2010

The latest version of The Smashing Pumpkins—including new drummer Mike Byrne (who fills heavy shoes) and new bassist Nicole Fiorentino—have recently unveiled the first official track from its second EP, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, Vol. 2:  The Solstice Bare. “Freak” is available online and for download at no charge. Billy Corgan notes that the 11 EPs he and the band envision will indeed be part of a larger project, an ambitious box set that will entail some 44 songs.


Unlike the previous Teargarden EP, “Freak” largely explores and builds on the Smashing Pumpkins’ earlier, mid-1990s sound while also very subtly hinting at the newly pointed and cultish, lysergic musical atmosphere of, say, “Astral Planes”. In fact, the swirling, hypnotic guitar bit that accompanies the principal riff is nothing but reminiscent of “Astral Planes”. But mainly the song is a marked departure from the first EP in that it doesn’t evince any sort of Led Zeppelin-oriented influence, as did both “A Song for a Son” and “A Stitch in Time”. Instead, “Freak” is particularly indebted to the uncompromisingly grungy B-sides found on Pisces Iscariot (1994). The song “Plume”, for instance, may be a credible forerunner, save that its riff is rather slow and contained. Nirvana’s In Utero (1993) also is a noticeable influence.


Lyrically, Jim Morrison’s sense of the dramatic attracts Corgan. Doors’ songs “Not to Touch the Earth” and the 11-minute rant-theatre “When the Music’s Over” (“What have they done to the earth?”) are unmistakable and flat-out obvious influences, as both are provocative and negotiate with the same topic of “Freak”. Corgan’s verse also seems a bona fide diatribe against the “killing machine”, especially during the largest oil spill in U.S. history. All of this with the Beatlesque honey of “La da da da da da da la da da da da da da da da da”. Corgan partially occludes his distinctive vitriol with the melodic and infectious. That is, “Freak” parallels Mellon Collie’s “Zero” but that the emphatic mellifluousness reigns supreme relative to the latter’s overt anger and angst.



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Thursday, Jul 8, 2010

R.E.M.’s 1985 album Fables of the Reconstruction has been remastered and will reissued on July 13th on Capitol and I.R.S. It’s been 25 years since this sometimes under appreciated record appeared. The 25th Anniversary edition will feature remastered versions of the album’s original 11 tracks, and a second disc of 14 demos. These demos include versions of the original 11 plus several other songs such as demos of “Hyena” and “Bandwagon” and a song entitled “Throw Those Trolls Away”. Here’s a stream of the demo version of the album’s opening track, “Feeling Gravity’s Pull”. Track list after the jump.


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