Sharon Van Etten's new release takes the sound she's been carefully crafting over four albums and injects it with a dose of drama, billowing out her songs until they threaten to overwhelm you with emotion. Ambition looks good on her—and the songs on Are We There even seem to address this change. Opener "Afraid of Nothing" gives her voice enough room to belt, shedding some of the modesty of her previous work. "Even I'm taking my chances" she sings knowingly over an electronic beat on "Taking Chances," that foray into electronica carrying over to songs like the delicate, Beach House-ish "Our Love." On showstopper "Your Love Is Killing Me," Van Etten gives it her all, imbuing the chorus with such emotion in her low vibratto, it's impossible not to get goosebumps. Yet even as she's clearly reaching for the brass ring on Are We There, Van Etten still sounds tastefully restrained when need be, never losing her cool. It's a win-win—new listeners will undoubtedly be taken with Van Etten's powerful voice and immaculately crafted songs, while longtime fans are bestowed her best album yet.
Since it's Memorial Day Weekend, we can start saying it's summer, right? Summer concert lineups like FYF Fest are being announced left and right (weekend passes for that festival are still on sale at Amoeba Hollywood, BTW), and now the Twilight Concert Series has announced its summer lineup of free concerts at the Santa Monica Pier.
The rest of the announced lineup is as follows:
HT Heartache – “Cowboy Poetry” video premiere
We’ve got the premiere for the new video from HT Heartache, for the melancholy country-noir song “Cowboy Poetry.” Shot in stunning black-and-white in Joshua Tree, the video captures “Cowboy Poetry’s” sense of romantic yearning as well as a feeling of being purposefully lost. HT Heartache is the project of L.A.-based singer/songwriter Mary Roth, with help from multi-instrumentalist Christina Gaillard, who recorded the new album Sundowner over the past year and a half in Highland Park. It’ll be available at Amoeba Hollywood starting May 28, so check it out!
Some Ember – “The Thrashing Whip” and Album Stream
Nina Chase and Dylan Travis remember the other side of synthesized music, calling to mind the darkwave and coldwave momements of the 1980s without being overly referential or reverential. “The Thrashing Whip’s” light pulse beat is more reminiscent of an anxious heartbeat than a dance beat, its disintegrating synthesizers sounding like they’ve been sprayed with acid and Travis’ heartbreak croon traversing heady chord changes and ghostly sounds. However, Chase’s sweet backup vocals and the occasional glittering effect helps give the song a feeling of uplift through the gloom. Very intriguing. If you’d like to hear the rest of the California duo’s Some Ember LP (due May 27 on Dream Recordings), check it out on Stereogum.
A new documentary currently in production seeks to explore the fertile punk and hardcore scene of Washington, D.C. in the late 1970s and ’80s.
Filmmakers Paul Bishow and James Schneider are seeking funding for their documentary Punk the Capital, Straight from Washington D.C. via Kickstarter. The film is more than 10 years in the making and will explore how the hardcore movement began and why it has such staying power, focusing on the period from 1976 to 1985.
The filmmakers say they conducted more than 100 interviews with key figures in the hardcore movement, collecting more than 200 hours of archival footage along with flyers, pictures, zines and more paraphernalia from the time. The film includes interviews with and footage of such hardcore luminaries as Alec and Ian MacKaye (the latter from Minor Threat, Fugazi, The Evens, The Teen Idles and Embrace), Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Jeff Nelson (Minor Threat), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Tesco Vee (The Meatmen, Touch & Go), Cynthia Connolly (photographer, Dischord), Joe Keithley (D.O.A.), Sharon Cheslow (Chalk Circle) and more.
There’s this thing going around the Internet right now saying Axl Rose is the greatest singer ever.
This list by something called Concert Hotels has actually done something really cool by showing the recorded vocal ranges of some of pop music’s most celebrated singers, taken from Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list. The Guns N’ Roses singer came in at No. 1, meaning he has the widest recorded range.
|Axl Rose (center) in Guns N' Roses|
It’s fun to see Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and others represented pretty well on the list—did you know Lana Del Rey’s recorded vocal range is three octaves, dwarfing Taylor Swift’s two-and-change? Or that Eminem has a recorded range of more than three octaves?