It’s been almost 3 days with no power, thanks to hurricane Irene. Without evening interweb time, You Hear That is a boat without oars, so there’s only one thing left to do: quick-post a song about darkness! Here’s my all-time favorite darkness-related tune, Death Cab For Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.” Sure the void he’s talking about is actually death, and the darkness I’m experiencing is just a neighborhood without electricity (except for the a-holes next door with a generator. Richmond Playlist — you know what I’m talking about), but when you’re creeping up on 72 hours without power, you’re allowed to be a little melodramatic. Check out the video for “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” above and download the album, Plans, here.
I’m on earthquake watch tonight. The biggun happened on Tuesday afternoon, but I slept through both of the subsequent early-morning aftershocks. As I try to stay awake long enough for tonight’s edition, I thought I’d try something totally new — Read It Later roulette. If you don’t use Read It Later (or something like it), it’s an incredibly useful and simple tool (it’s a plugin for many browsers, my iPhone Twitter client uses it as well) that lets you add links to one central list for future perusal. It’s great for when you don’t have time to freely surf the world wide web of information by day, and great for keeping up with music news. Without further ado, let’s play! The following are links I stumbled across at some point today:
Apparently, Kate Miller-Heidke, whose song “Are You Fucking Kidding Me” still has me rotflmao-ing, once sang in an opera about Jerry Springer, which she calls “sheer brilliance” (the opera, not Springer). I think she’s brilliant, and I’m excited she’s recording an album in October! Read an interview with KMH at the Village Voice.
I hope Pearl Jam plans to update the liner notes for their next best-of album, given that the true spelling of some key lyrics to “Alive” have been unearthed. Thank to you Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr for documenting this important archival discovery on their Twitter feed.
St. Vincent released the video for new song “Cruel,” in which she has the worst kids and husband ever. Let’s find Annie Clark a better family, because she seems like a nice lady to me. And if anyone can think of what commercial(s) the husband is from, PLEASE leave a comment. It’s bugging the hell out of me.
Kanye performed a 20-minute version of “Runaway” in Portland, and Rolling Stone posted a fan video. Just when I was ready to cry senseless self-indulgence, he brings the free-form epic to a close by pointing out that he “had the nerve to play you this song.” That is why Kayne is the best. Never ever change, Yeezy.
Lastly, music blogs asploded (and I nearly spat out my lunch) last Wednesday when James Blake cryptically announced a collabo with Bon Iver. The gorgeous tune is called “Fall Creek Boys Choir” and it just made it’s way online. I would like to place an order for an entire album of that. Kthx.
So, still no aftershocks, but I’m going to bed. I need my sleep — hurricane watch is on tap for tomorrow…
Given its title, I couldn’t resist spending today’s post on The Weeknd’s amazing new mixtape, Thursday. While a few other blogs could very well be doing the same thing today, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say few of them can claim the following fun fact: The very first You Hear That post was about The Weeknd’s first mixtape, House of Balloons. It’s true — hearing that album made me get off my blogger laurels and start writing about music. Clearly House of Balloons struck some inspirational chord for me, but when I stop to think about it, that connection is somewhat bizarre. The dark vignettes that Abel Tesfaye’s songs sketch are genuinely creepy to me, and R&B has never been my wheelhouse. So why am I drawn to his music? What does it meeeean?!? I think the connection may stem from the fact that The Weeknd’s creepiness seems profoundly honest to me. So many artists glorify the drug-addled club scene, but songs like “Life of the Party” make it sound as scary as it probably is in real life. Can you imagine listening to these songs while performing the acts they describe? Wouldn’t that be wildly depressing? I don’t mean to suggest he makes public service announcements, just that he’s the documentarian of something that people normally write fiction about. To me, that’s fascinating, and I can see why Drake was so quick to jump on Tesfaye’s bandwagon. Check out “Life of the Party” below, along with the rest of Thursday, and download the whole thing for free here.
Marnie Stern. Where have you been all my life? Listening to the first moments of guitar-ninja Marnie Stern’s most recent album was like eating deep fried Oreos for the first time — “Holy bejeezus! How have I not gorged myself on these before?!?” — and I have Pitchfork’s new “Over/Under” series to thank for the revelation. I’d never heard of Stern, and watched her episode completely on a whim (OK, so the series’ name made me think it was about gambling, and the thought of Pitchfork employees gambling was amusing to me for some reason. As in, what would hipsters gamble on? Please leave any theories you may have in the comments below). Turns out, “Over/Under” asks famous musicians to decide if random things, like “Guitar Center Sales Dudes” and the TV show Lost, are overrated or underrated. After hearing her thoughts on Lost’s disappointing finale, penis size and Ryan Gosling, I headed to Spotify to give her self-titled album a try. Cue the deep fried Oreos. The opening seconds of “For Ash” were so explosive and chaotic and pleasing, and my mind immediately started soaking in the sound like a happy, overstimulated sponge. Stern’s music combines the technically-demanding practice of guitar tapping with constantly shifting rhythms to create colorful and exhilarating songs that transcend their technicality and make you want to scream “This is crazy and I love it!” See what I mean by trying out “For Ash” below, her episode of “Over/Under” here, and if you like what you hear, grab her eponymous album from iTunes here.
Did everyone catch the recent Weezer/Foster the People cover swap? The exchange began on August 4, when Rivers Cuomo armed himself with a lyric sheet and led the rest of Weezer in a cover of Foster the People’s hit song, “Pumped Up Kicks.” Foster the People reciprocated just a week later by performing Weezer’s classic “Say It Ain’t So.” The whole thing oozes postmodernism — the awareness of what another band is doing 2,718 miles away, the printed-out lyrics, the replication of something that was just created… but you know what else it oozes? Goodwill. Mutual respect. I love it. It’s that same positive energy that made me so eager to get my hands on the split 7” record that finds Band of Horses and Cee Lo Green performing a similar cover swap, and I finally found my copy on Saturday at Plan 9. It makes me really happy to see musicians reveling in one another’s creativity and success, especially when they’re so stylistically different and willing to leave their comfort zones. Band of Horses, who are known for a more brooding brand of rock, enlist the University of Georgia marching band in a wonderfully boisterous rendition of Cee Lo’s “Georgia,” and Cee Lo lends his characteristically soaring voice to an uncharacteristically electro-poppy cover of “No One’s Gonna Love You.” The result is a heart-warming artifact of artistic generosity, and I hope you’ll take a moment to check both tunes out below. You can buy Band of Horses’ cover of “Georgia” here and Cee Lo’s cover of “No One’s Gonna Love You” on his album Lady Killer here.
Band of Horses — “Georgia”
Cee Lo Green — “No One’s Gonna Love You”
Yesterday, I wrote about Passenger’s album Flight of the Crow, and mentioned how “The One You Love” is a great example of Michael Rosenberg’s highly engaging songwriting. What I DIDN’T mention (Quick Relationship Tip: Withholding information is OK when and only when dealing with gifts, engagement plans and blog topics) is that “The One You Love” also features an amazing Australian singer-songwriter named Kate Miller-Heidke. While writing yesterday’s post, I got seriously sidetracked when I started sampling her music, and I’ve been excited to share what I found ever since. First, her Wikipedia page led me to “Are You Ready?” (Yes, it’s true. I got a hot music tip from Wikipedia. I’m trying not to dwell on what that means … for me or for society in general), a tune New Yorkers might recognize from a recent state lottery commercial. I loved the song’s energy and memorable lyrics, so I dug a little deeper and found what may be my favorite piece of social (networking) commentary in recent memory. “Are You Fucking Kidding Me” is a brilliantly written, tongue-in-cheek tune that chronicles a phenomenon many of us have encountered — the ex-significant-other Facebook friend request. Miller-Heidke’s impeccable comedic timing, sharp writing and dynamic voice all work together to skewer the “narcissistic asshole” of a requester, and I can’t recommend this live version highly enough. Listen below and click here to grab her EP from iTunes.
Kate Miller-Heidke — “Are You Fucking Kidding Me”
Powerful music can make you get up and dance, give you goosebumps, or heal you when you’re feeling broken, but I believe one of the greatest gifts a song can give you is the feeling that you’re not alone (cue Mavis and Jeff). No matter who you are, it feels good to know that someone else has gone through what you’re going through. The ability to gather one’s experiences and piece them together in a way that engages others separates good songwriters from exceptional ones, and Passenger most assuredly belongs in that second category. I found out about Passenger (real name Michael Rosenberg) when Richmond Playlist tweeted a link to the video for “Settled,” a new song of Rosenberg’s that blew me away with its beautiful and bittersweet lyrics (I believe I actually said “Wow” out loud, even though no one else was around at the time). After receiving a follow-up recommendation from the same trusted source, I gave a listen to Passenger’s most recent album, Flight of the Crow. Released nearly a year ago, this record is comprised of one powerful moment after another. Some are joyful, some are painful, but these moments engage the listener with stark emotion and insight, and no track did so more for me than “The One You Love.” This lilting yet joyful tune about companionship immediately sucked me into its narrative, calling up specific memories and inviting me to count my blessings for the relationships in my life. Check it out below, along with the rest of Flight of the Crow, and buy the album from iTunes here.
To wrap up Spotify week, I’d like to look at what this new (to U.S. Americans) service provides in the way of social connectivity. Let me first say that I haven’t had the chance to use turntable.fm yet, and I do not mess with Ping for iTunes. From the get go, Ping seemed unlikely to catch on, and I really wasn’t in the mood to join another social network (yet I just signed up for Google + — I don’t understand me either). However, I was excited when I found out from my friend Robbie that with Spotify, you can easily browse and listen to friends’ playlists. Choosing which of your playlists you want to make public is simple, so you can hide that embarrassing one you put on when you’re a sad, pathetic mess WHAT I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT MYSELF… or, if you’re extremely proud of one, like a certain someone — Spotify account name YouHearThat — is of their Mario Kart playlist, you can make it available for all to see. This special list of upbeat songs has been battle tested and is guaranteed to boost your Mario Kart performance (trust me on the John Williams stuff — you haven’t lived until you’ve won a race while blasting the main theme to Star Wars). One of my favorite tunes on the list is Karmin’s cover of Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.” While Karmin is usually a duo, this cover features ?uestlove and Owen Biddle of the Roots, and I’m not sure if it’s the driving synth percussion on the chorus or hearing BOOMBADOOMBOOMBOOMBADOOMBOOM repeatedly, but this tune never fails to send me on a red-shell-slingin’, banana-peel-droppin’ rampage. Check out the video above and download the song from iTunes here.
In yesterday’s post, I talked about how convenient Spotify can be. But let’s talk about cost. Unless you’re Jermaine Dupri circa 1998, money IS a thang, and it’s worth learning about Spotify’s price points. The bottom rung of the ladder is free — once you’re invited and set up an account, you can stream millions of tracks on your computer, but there are ads and time limitations, both of which go away when you sign up for the second rung, Spotify Unlimited, which costs $4.99 a month. The third option, the $9.99-a-month Spotify Premium, is where things get interesting. You get access to the same huge library of music, plus you can access music on your phone AND make songs available for offline listening. So, if you’re on the beach, and Jay Ward of White Laces tweets about a band you’ve never heard of, you can hop on Spotify and find out that Other Lives makes wonderfully enthralling and richly layered songs like “As I Lay My Head Down.” If you love finding new music, this is where the value lies. Apple’s iCloud will let me access my music, but Spotify Premium gives me a legitimate way to hear Other Lives’ totally unfamiliar Tamer Animals album right away. I know I’ll keep buying music from iTunes for the time being, because I’m still not used to not “owning” my music (though that brings up an entirely different discussion about Apple’s file format) and I worry that artists won’t see the money they deserve, but I love that in that moment, while checking Twitter on the beach, I was able to find a band that I look forward to patronizing, in one form or another, for a long time. Check out “As I Lay My Head Down” below, and click here to grab the album from iTunes.
Last week was my vacation, but it was also my honeymoon … with Spotify. Spotify and I tied the knot two Saturdays ago, when Mrs. You Hear That, sister Cary and bro-in-law Brian were on the road to Duck, North Carolina, and I subscribed to the $9.99-a-month premium service. To mark the happy occasion, I thought I’d spend a few days looking at what Spotify’s arrival in America means for music lovers like you and me. First off — convenience. See, I have Rodrigo y Gabriela’s self-titled album in my iTunes library, but where did I turn on beach week taco night when Mrs. YHT hit the musical accompaniment nail on the head? I’ll give you a hint — I didn’t open my laptop, find my cord and transfer Rodrigo y Gabriela to my phone, because it was just a quick search away on the Spotify mobile app. Even with crappy reception, the entire album streamed without interruption. And YES, of course the tacos were delicious, because I added a truly ungodly amount of cumin, chili powder and cayenne. As I ate, pretending not to be worried about what the meal was doing to my extended family, I was taken aback for the zillionth time by the virtuosity of the Mexican guitar-playing/drumming/abusing duo of Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero. They’re fast, precise and compelling, as you can tell by the above video of a very awesome and very speedy live version of “Diablo Rojo.” I’ve included the album version below for comparison, and here’s a link to buy the album from iTunes.