Twelve years after their last album, it’s easy for Blur to pick up right where they left off—the Britpop band never made two albums that sounded the same. “Lonesome Street” starts the album with a loopy, mid-tempo jangle, and it’s tough not to cheer upon hearing the reunion of frontman Damon Albarn’s lonely, sleepless croon with guitarist Graham Coxon’s vigorous strums, especially when he kicks up the distortion on the chugging “Go Out.” The band’s songwriting more than ever calls to mind late-era Beatles on songs like “Ice Cream Man,” a somber tune buffeted by squirrely synth noise. Magic Whip gets more experimental (and better) as it goes, as though throwing bones to longtime fans is out of the way. “Thought I Was a Spaceman” is a beautiful, searching ballad with a bossa nova feel and soft digital-tribal bounce. “I Broadcast” has the spirit of early-’90s Blur with the kind of noisemaking capabilities they now have in their arsenal, throwing in vocal samples and filling the space with extra guitar and synth sounds. Blur recorded The Magic Whip in a stopover in Hong Kong and finished it up separately over time, but miraculously, it doesn’t sound disjointed, keeping the hazy, layover feel of the original session, while the band’s experimentations are mostly folded into the music and don’t distract from the songs themselves. Though occasionally you wish for the frenetic energy of early Blur on more tracks, in their place is a laid-back tunefulness on songs like the loungey “Ghost Ship” and eerie “Pyongyang,” kind of like Roxy Music settling into their Avalon era. The Magic Whip is what you want from a reunion album: it’s the sound of a band progressing, with nods to the past that don’t hold them back in the slightest. Long may they run.
Thee Oh Sees – “Withered Hand”
This is exactly what we needed this week—some brain pummeling riffs from John Dwyer and Thee Oh Sees. It’s the second track (after “Web”) that they’ve premiered from Mutilator Defeated at Last (out May 18 on Castle Face) and it’s just one of the most exciting songs they’ve ever put out, an all-guns-firing guitar assault with a gorgeous solo. Listen via Pitchfork. Just in case you thought he ever slept, Dwyer also is releasing another electro-rock solo album under the Damaged Bug moniker called Cold Hot Plumbs, due June 1 on Castle Face.
HEALTH – “New Coke” video
Remember when coke was the devil, and every time someone took it on TV or in movies they died or something awful happened to them? Glad we’ve progressed beyond that—aside from the whole slow-motion projectile vomiting thing in this new HEALTH video. Right, there is a lot of post-party barfing in the video below, so beware. The booming electro-noise-pop track comes from the L.A. band’s just-announced new album, DEATH MAGIC, due Aug. 7 on Loma Vista.
Los Angeles trio LA Font play a brand of nervy power-pop with melodies that wrap their wires around you before you know it. The band is playing Amoeba Hollywood April 23 at 6 p.m. in support of their new EP, Hangtime Vol. 1, out April 28 on Fleeting Youth Records. We’ll also be giving out FREE split 7”’s with Roses (who play Amoeba Hollywood May 7) as part of Converse Rubber Tracks, a series of releases in which Converse gives up-and-coming bands studio time and releases the results as 7” records.
We took a minute to speak with singer/guitarist Danny Bobbe, who leads the band along with Harlow Rodriguez (drums) and Greg Katz (bass), before the band’s performance.
Tell me a little bit about the LA Font story. How did you guys meet, where are you from and when did you start playing together?
Bobbe: Seven years ago, I hung fliers across town looking for a drummer. I hung one in Amoeba in the stairwell next to the other fliers. I was worried mine would get taken down or covered up so I stood up on the handrail and taped it to the ceiling. I came back three years later and it was still there. I felt very proud. It's since been removed.
What can you tell us about the Rubber Tracks recording you guys did?
DeMarco’s extended tour includes a stop in S.F. for Outside Lands Aug. 8.
1 The Way You'd Love Her
2. Another One
3. No Other Heart
4. Just Put Me Down
5. A Heart Like Hers
6. I've Been Waiting For Her
7. Without Me
8. My House by the Water
He announced the new album through a silly home video filmed by his girlfriend, Kiera McNally. Watch below via Pitchfork.
The film will have its L.A. premiere this week at the ArcLight Hollywood. Tickets are available now, but you can also score free tickets to the April 25 screening at 8 p.m. followed by a Q&A with director Brett Morgen and former Soundgarden manager Jeff Suhy by coming to Amoeba Hollywood starting on April 22 and asking at the Info Counter (one ticket per customer, available while supplies last). Read more about it here.
Morgen found the cover among the hundreds of hours of unheard Cobain tapes he was given access to by Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, for the documentary, according to Rolling Stone. It's especially notable given than the late Nirvana frontman was wont to say that he loved the Beatles but hated Paul McCartney. ("And I Love Her" is a McCartney tune off their third album, A Hard Day's Night.) The film's score will include this song plus numerous others Morgen unearthed.