Friday, March 6, 2015

POSTED: Thursday, March 5, 2015, 5:26 PM

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the third edition of The Dan and Dan Music Podcast, the bi-weekly show I'm doing with WXPN Music Director and drive-time deejay Dan Reed.

Topics under discussion this week include Kanye West, the Grateful Dead, Scarlett Johansson, Esme Haim, Mumford & Sons, Paul McCartney, the Firefly Music festival, global new music release day moving from Tuesday to Friday, the greatest Irish music ever recorded, and, most importantly, the role of the Music Critic in the digital music era.

Follow Dan and Dan at @ddmusicpodcast on Twitter and listen up at soundcloud.com/ddmusicpodcast. Or just push the play button below.


POSTED: Sunday, March 1, 2015, 10:29 AM
Janet Weiss, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney at Union Transfer. (Colin Kerrigan / Philly.com)

Desperately loved bands break up and get back together all the time. What’s rare is when they come back at full strength, returning not only with skills intact and wisdom gained, but also the sense of urgency that made them so desperately loved in the first place.

Such is the case with Sleater-Kinney, the gloriously alive three piece rock and roll band of singer-guitarists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss who played a bristling-with-energy show at Union Transfer on Saturday night. The band originally named for a road north of Olympia, Washington where they rehearsed in the mid-1990s - Sleater rhymes with “greater” - are back on the road after going separate ways following their 2005 album, The Woods.

All three women pursued rewarding projects in the interim. Tucker recorded two albums with an eponymous band while raising a family, Weiss played in indie pop duo Quasi, as well as with Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks and Wild Flag. And Brownstein was one of the principals in that band, while also going on to comedic glory with Fred Armisen in the satirical cable series Portlandia.

POSTED: Friday, February 20, 2015, 11:26 AM

This week the curtain comes up on The Dan and Dan Music Podcast, a bi-weekly show I'm doing with Dan Reed, the music director and afternoon drive time host of WXPN (88.5-FM ).

Twice a month, Dan and I will get together to talk about the great pop music issues of the day, play some tunes, and argue or agree about what's good and what's bad. We'll chop it up about the state of the industry, interviews artists and insiders, talk about exciting stuff we've seen and heard, and what we're looking forward to.

There are two episodes up right now that can be clicked on at soundcloud.com/ddmusicpodcast. The first was a Grammy preview that you can listen to hear how bad our predictions were.


POSTED: Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 10:33 AM
Drake. (Robb Cohen / Associated Press.)

Drake wins the expectation game with If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late. The Thursday night surprise release - the same night of the week Beyonce and Azealia Banks dropped their out of the blue albums - was supposed to be a mixtape, a casually offhand sampling of new material given away for free as a stopgap before unleashing an official album, expected to be called Views From The 6, later this year. Instead, If You’re Reading This (Cash Money *** 1/2) feels like a fully thought out, cohesive piece of work, a 17 song display of the 28 year old Toronto emcee’s dexterity on the mic that benefits from the creative space allowed by not being under pressure to produce hits.

And while it may have been conceived as a mixtape, Drake is charging real money for it on iTunes, perhaps as a way to fulfill his contractual obligations to Cash Money, the label his mentor Lil Wayne is also at odds with. So let’s call it a real album. It certainly works as one in the artistic sense, though it gets off to a rough start “Legend,” a de riguer boast that’s the least interesting song on the record. From there, though the 28 year old rapper born Aubrey Drake Graham moves confidently and casually through one slinky, minimalist mood piece after another.

Many of those contain the numeral 6 in their title. That’s a reflection of Drake’s obsession with Toronto’s 416 area code. “6 Man” is of note because it begins with a reference to former Sixer and current Toronto Raptor Lou Williams and ends with Drake singing the Erykah Badu chorus to The Roots’ 1999 hit “You Got Me.” And “You & The 6” is a mother loving song which finds the emo rapper proclaiming “I can’t be out here being vulnerable mama!” - laughably, since Drake is always out there being vulnerable - and tenderly thanking her for working in tandem with those mean Canadian streets in giving him a quality upbringing: “You & the 6 raised me right.”

POSTED: Tuesday, February 17, 2015, 4:23 PM
The official Firefly lineup, question marks included.

So is Paul McCartney playing the Firefly Festival, or isn't he? Last month, organizers promised a lineup announcement was just around the corner for the Delaware mega-music festival which takes place in Dover from June 18 to 21 this year.

When it didn't come as quckly as planned, a Twitter account called @EDMsecrets leaked a mighty official looking poster that had McCartney, Kings of Leon and The Killers listed as headliners, with Morrissey, Snoop Dogg and Foster the People listed on the line below. 

Now, this afternoon, the lineup has officially been announced, and all those names are on it except McCartney's, with a string of question marks occupying the place his name was. The rest of the official poster also bears a strong likeness to the leaked bootleg one: Sturgill Simpson, Modest Mouse, DJ Mustard, Spoon, Charli XCX, and Matt & Kim are all on there.

POSTED: Monday, February 16, 2015, 10:18 PM

Lesley Gore, who died of lung cancer on Monday at the age of 68, is often cited as a proto-feminist pop music heroine, mostly on the strength of her hit "You Don't Own Me," which reached #2 on the charts in 1964 when she was just 17.

Rightly so. "You Don't Own Me," which was written by Philadelphia songwriters John Madera and David White (who also wrote "At The Hop" for Danny & the Juniors) is a song of explicit defiance that says what it means in blunt, direct langauge. "Don't tell me what to do, don't tell me what to say!," sang the born in Brooklyn, raised in Tenafly, N.J. teen, who later graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. "And please, when I go out with you, don't put me on display!"

4th September 1964: American pop singer Lesley Gore is giving up full time singing so that she can continue her education. 18 year-old Lesley, who sang 'It's My Party, I'll Cry If I Want To' is in London at the start of a British tour, after which she will go straight to university near New York. (Photo by Keystone (Getty Images)
POSTED: Friday, February 13, 2015, 9:25 AM

Drake is the latest to spring a surprise album on his fans in the middle of the night.

It was rumored that the Canadian rapper last heard from with Nothing Was The Same in 2013, had new music on the way, but not a full fledged 17 song album, which is what the excellently titled If You're Reading This It's Too Late, which he dropped Beyonce style jsut before midnight on a Thursday, is.

Buy the album on iTunes here. Watch the 14 minute film Jungle, which he released earlier in the day on Thursday. below.

The Drake album cover.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 10, 2015, 2:32 PM

The Districts grab your attention. The four members of the Philadelphia-based rock band formed in Lititz, Pa. - none of whom are old enough to legally drink alcohol - are a formidable live unit who make an immediate impression with dynamic scream-to-a-whisper song structures that take a page out of the playbook out of 1990s bands like Nirvana and The Pixies. That furious energy - and the commanding, frayed at the edges vocals of singer Rob Grote - have led to the band’s second full length album, A Flourish And A Spoil (Fat Possum ***)  to be hotly tipped as one of the breakout releases of the young year. Good luck trying to take your date to their show at Union Transfer on Saturday night - it's super-sold out.

A Flourish And A Spoil - a title that does not trip off the tongue, and hints at the poetic affect that can get in the way of the emotional immediacy of the songs - was recorded in Minnesota and produced by John Congleton, who did laudable work last year with both St. Vincent and Angel Olsen. He helps focus the energy of a band that tends to fall back on clotted intensity in spots where a less cluttered approach might better carry the day.

But the album also shows the foursome confidently expanding its palette in subtle yet substantial ways, while being unafraid to display their influences, as on the humble bow down to Kurt Cobain in the “all we are is all we are” lyric on “6 am.” A Flourish & A Spoil is a coming of age album from a band that’s full of promise. “I’m sick of this longing, but I feel too dull when it’s gone,” Grote sings on “4th & Roebling,” at once capturing the anticipatory exhaustion of youth and looking forward to the uncertain journey ahead.

The Districts. (Ryan Farber.)

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