What’s Old Is New Again with Garbage and Hiatus Kaiyote

Garbage released “Strange Little Birds” on June 10th. It’s the band’s first album since 2012 and only their second since 2005. “Empty” is the first track with an official video, and if you like Shirley Manson and the band’s original sound as much as I do you’ll really enjoy it.  To compare it to their earliest days, watch “Only Happy When it Rains” from their eponymous 1995 debut.  Fun fact to know and tell: one of the band’s founders is drummer Butch Vig, a record producer prior to forming the band best known for producing Nirvana’s “Nevermind” in 1991.

While Hiatus Kaiyote doesn’t have the 20-year history of Garbage, they go further back than that in gathering their musical influences. The Australian quartet formed in 2011 and draw on soul, R&B and jazz fusion. They’ve already been nominated twice for the Best R&B Performance Grammy. Here are those two nominated tracks: “Nakamarra” from their first album “Tawk Tomahawk” and “Breathing Underwater” from their second album, last year’s “Choose Your Weapon”.  Actually, the Grammy nominated version of “Nakamarra” included a verse by Tribe Called Quest co-founder Q-tip – you can hear it here at 2:30. Thanks for introducing me to the band, Victoria!

Across the Pond – Little Brother Eli and The Dø

Three years ago I happened across the newly formed British band Little Brother Eli (2013 post) while checking out the music blog Read and Hear.   The band released an EP that year and has now released a full-length effort “Cold Tales”.  The new album features solid rock and roll, as well as some eclectic tracks with deep, bluesy feels.  Check out “This Girl” in the rock and roll vein, and the title track to hear the band’s more eclectic side.

Somewhere over the Atlantic I spent a couple of hours sampling the musical offerings of AirFrance’s in-flight entertainment system. Found some crazy things on there (did you know that Hugh Laurie – the “House” guy – sings old blues tunes?)  Also came across an engaging song by the French duo “The Dø”. “At Last” is from their first album “A Mouthful” released in 2008. Their most recent release “Shake Shook Shaken” has swapped the guitar for synthesizers and a decidedly more electric sound, as you’ll see on “Anita No!”

Red Hot Chili Peppers Are Back, And An Unreleased Track Surfaces

In mid-June the Red Hot Chili Peppers will release “The Getaway”, their first new album in almost five years.  Breaking a 25-year, 6-album string with uber-producer Rick Rubin, “The Getaway” is produced by uber-producer Danger Mouse.  “Dark Necessities” is the album’s first single, and it features Flea playing piano as well as bass (remember that Flea’s first instrument was the trumpet).

Dave Navarro played guitar for the band for five years in the mid-90’s, a tenure that by all reports featured a clash of musical sensibilities between Dave and the other band members.  Recently an unreleased track from that era surfaced, “Circle of the Noose”, which reveals Dave’s straight rock influence and little of the funk that had been the band’s hallmark. Give a listen to this piece of newly recovered history, and also to the Number 1 single “My Friends” from the only album Navarro recorded with the band, “One Hot Minute”.  Dave’s guitar work on “My Friends” is really special.

Eclectic Times Two – alt-J and TV On The Radio

The first thing to know about alt-J is that the band’s name is not alt-J.  If you simultaneously press the “Option” key on your Mac, which also serves as the “alt” key, while pressing the letter “J”, you get the symbol ∆.  That’s the upper case Greek letter Delta, and in an Artist Formerly Known as Prince way, that’s the band’s name. And a triangle makes a great hand sign to hold up at concerts.

Now on to the music. The band released its second album, “This Is All Yours”, in September.  ∆ puts out some pretty eclectic music, but they found their way to a catchy hit with “Left Hand Free”. Check it out and then listen to “Choice Kingdom” to get a feel for the range of material on the album.

TV on the Radio generates an eclectic mix of their own and put out their fifth album, “Seeds”, in November.   Whether you’re a skateboarder or not, you’ll get a kick out of the song and the video for “Lazerray”.  The credits at the end give the names of all the skateboarders and, in a nod to the uncomfortable future, to the drone operator.

While not big chart toppers, the band had a minor hit a few years back with “Will Do”. Nice song with a video featuring what may have been a bad Google Glass prototype.

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Two Bands of Brothers – Punch and Barr

Over a year ago we wrote about the then recent doings of Nickel Creek alums including mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile. Around the time Nickel Creek disbanded in 2006, Thile formed a new group called How to Grow a Band, since renamed The Tension Mountain Boys, since renamed Punch Brothers. Their fourth album “The Phosphorescent Blues” was just released – thanks for the reminder Eric!

The album contains the eclectic mix of styles that fans of the band and of Thile have come to expect. Give a listen to the first single released from the new album, “I Blew It Off”, with its pop vocal harmonies. Then dip back to “Movement and Location” from their prior album “Who’e Feeling Young Now”.

The Barr Brothers released their sophomore effort “Sleeping Operator” last October. Brothers Andrew and Brad Barr originally played together in The Slip, a Boston-based band that performed together through 2011, but have put most of their recent effort into the Montreal-based The Barr Brothers. Here’s a live performance of “Even The Darkness Has Arms” from that album.

“Even Rats” from The Slip’s 2006 album “Eisenhower” was one of the songs adapted for the video game “Guitar Hero”. Listen to a bit of the original, then watch a young guitar hero go at it back in the day!

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