Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Quick News

In the final posting of 2013, here is the final Quick News post. Happy New Year everyone, thanks for making 2013 so special for us!

U2 will be awarded the Sonny Bono Visionary Award at this weekend's Palm Springs Film Festival. The band will take the top honors thanks to their song, "Ordinary Love" from the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom soundtrack. The award usually goes to a filmmaker, however, because of the band's activism and the inspired life of Nelson Mandela, the festival is awarding it to the Irish rockers.

Jimi Hendrix's former London flat will be turned into a museum. A £1.2 million grant has allowed the UK's Heritage Lottery Fund to recreate the interior of the iconic guitarist's former flat, where he lived during the summer of 1968 and beyond. He lived in the attic of the house which is located at 23 Brook Street in London. Hendrix, who was with then girlfriend Kathy Etchingham in the house, £30 a week to live there.

Queen guitarist Brian May has been undergoing urgent test's for cancer. May wrote on his website, "So around Christmas I've been having a succession of blood tests, ultrasounds, and various kinds of scans, to see if they could rule out various kinds of cancer. Now, on hearing the 'C' word something happens inside you ... of course. I've seen so many of my dear friends fighting it ... and my Dad lost his battle at age 66, exactly the age I am now. So over the last few days I've been in various states of unrest. But the great thing has been that the team my GP assembled to check out the possibilities has moved Heaven and Earth to gather all the information I need quickly over the Christmas period ... not an easy time." We wish him the very best.

Monday, December 30, 2013

RIP Benjamin Curtis

Very sad news to report, School of Seven Bells and former Secret Machines member, Benjamin Curtis lost his battle with cancer. He was diagnosed earlier this year and his family broke the new via the School of Seven Bells website that he had passed. Curtis was 35. Here is what was written on the band's site:

Dear friends,
Last night, Dec. 29th 2013, we lost our friend and brother Benjamin Curtis to his fight against cancer.
While we had hoped to delay this announcement until a more suitable time when his friends and family could feel better prepared and settled to greet any correspondences from folks attempting to reach out, unfortunately the news has prematurely leaked. So we felt it would be appropriate to at least offer an official acknowledgement from us, in light of all the fans who loved and supported Benjamin and his music.
We kindly ask that his immediate family, friends & bandmates' privacy be respected during this time, and that instead, any inquires, well wishes, or notes-of-consolation be sent through School of Seven Bells' management, where it can be shared with them at the suitable time. They can be sent to a special e-mail address here: sviib@wizkidmanagement.com
If relevant, further information will be made available through the suitable channels in the near future.
We can't thank all of you who supported him and his music through the years enough. All of you who attended or participated in the various benefits in and around New York City over the past year since his diagnosis, and of course those who contributed and gave generously to help support him throughout that journey. You made it possible for all of us, and for him, to see how truly loved he was and how many lives he had touched through his music by your gestures. We will all miss this incredibly talented and rare person every day, but we are fortunate enough that he shared with us his music, and that is something that we can keep forever.

Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this time. May he rest in peace. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Best Reissues / Compilations

Each year massive box sets, reissues, and compilations emerge from top artists to celebrate an anniversary of a landmark record, highlight an artist's career, and simply see who is a casual fan and who is a die-hard fan on whether customers will buy one of these. In an effort to showcase what to spend some left over holiday money or how to use those pesky gift cards you may have gotten, we have broken down the best reissues and compilations of the year. Take a look!

Nas - Illmatic - Deluxe "Gold Edition" Box Set
While, Nas' 1994 landmark debut, Illmatic, and what some consider (us) the greatest album in the history of hip-hop will turn 20 in 2014, the Queens native celebrated early by releasing a Deluxe "Gold Edition" Box Set of his master album. The set featured a 24k Audiophile Gold Disc” CD with re-mastered audio and actual 24-karat gold embedded in the CD, housed in a “Cherrywood Trophy Box” with gold plaque, 48-page full-color, hard-cover book including liner notes from The Source founder Jon Schecter, extended artwork and full album lyrics, Black 2-piece outer box with 1994 “Nas” red-on-white logo sticker, Reproduction of 1994 Illmatic press release, with two 8 x 10 glossy promo photos from Illmatic PR campaign, and a rare 1994 promotional poster with full album lyrics printed on back.

Fleetwood Mac - Rumors Deluxe Edition Box Set
Rumors was one of the 1970's landmark albums and a record that defined a generation, so in 2013, when the band announced a reunion tour, they cashed in even further and released a Deluxe Edition Box Set of Rumors. The set contains the original album and the b-side "Silver Springs, " a dozen unreleased live recordings from the group's '77 world tour, an entire disc filled with unreleased takes from the album's recording sessions, an additional disc of outtakes, a DVD that features The Rosebud Film, a 1977 documentary about the album, and the album on vinyl.

Ghostface Killah - Ironman Premium Collection
Ghostface Killah released one of the best albums of the year with his epic collaboration with Adrien Younge -- 12 Reasons to Die, he also reissued his landmark debut, Ironman. The Premium Collection bundle contains a 24k Audiophile Gold Disc (the CD itself is embedded with 24-karat gold) housed in a "Cherrywood Trophy Box" with a gold IRONMAN plaque, 48-page full color hard cover book, including extended artwork, album lyrics and text written by Chris Faraone, Black 2-piece outer box with gold foil sticker embossed with the Ghostface Ironman logo, 12"x12" puzzle featuring a reproduction of the Ironman cover art,  Double Vinyl Full Color Gatefold LP - 18” x 24” replica of the original retail poster.

Mad Season - Above box set
After the passing of Kurt Cobain and the heightening careers of Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam, in 1995, members of Alice and PJ got together to form Mad Season. The band, which released one album in 1995 called Above. The album was a hit with grunge fans and critics liked it, but then the band faded away. In March of this year, the surviving members of Mad Season decided to reissue Above as a box set that featured the remastered album, a live DVD, and a bonus disc featuring songs written by R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and musician Mark Lanegan.

The Clash - Soundsystem
The only band that mattered made sure that their box set was the only one that mattered in 2013. The Clash released an epic box set that was shaped like a camo-boom box and featured the band's five studio albums re-mastered, three bonus CDs featuring rarities, non-album singles and B-Sides, a bonus DVD featuring contributions from Julien Temple and Don Letts, plus rare live footage and complete promo videos,  Armagideon Times fanzines, a 36 page Special Edition curated and designed by The Clash,  a poster, dog tags, stickers and badges.

R.E.M. - Green
One of the greatest American bands of all time celebrated the 25th anniversary of one of their landmark album's. R.E.M. reissued and remastered Green for the first time and brought it to life with a bonus disco of outtakes, live cuts, and b-sides and also released it as a massive 180-Gram vinyl collection.

Nitzer Ebb - Basic Pain Procedure
One of industrial musics pioneers and living legends, Nitzer Ebb, celebrated 2013 by releasing their 1983 demo tape, Basic Pain Procedure on cassette and CD. The album also contained eight bonus live cuts.

PiL - First Issue
One of the 1980's new wave darlings and post-Sex Pistols outfit, Public Image Limited (PiL) released their remastered reissue of their first album, First Issue, this past summer. Thanks to the magic of modern music technology and remastering, Johnny Rotten never sounded so good!

Echo & The Bunnymen - Crocodiles
Another of the 1980's darlings, cold wave and post-punk pioneers Echo & The Bunnymen reissued their landmark 1980 LP, Crocodiles as a double vinyl containing the original remastered record and a bonus disc of outtakes and b-sides. The set also featured a massive hardcover book that featured behind-the-scenes stories on the making of the record.

Nirvana - In Utero 
For the 20th anniversary of one of the 1990's most conflicted albums, Nirvana's In Utero, the surviving members of the grunge gods released a massive 3X vinyl set featuring the entire record remastered over a double 180-gram stack and a record of b-sides and outtakes.

Flaming Lips - Demo EP
On Record Store Day one of the most magnificent discoveries was the reissue of The Flaming Lips demo tape on cassette and signed by singer Wayne Coyne. The band only released about 2,000 of the tapes for RSD but hearing a band at the start of their career in the medium in which many did back in the day must be a delight.

A Perfect Circle - 360
A Perfect Circle have been mum with new music for a long while, which makes their "Best Of" compilation one of the years best, simply because it contains a couple new tracks, and takes you through memory lane with some of their classic cuts and tracks that got overlooked over the years from their three studio albums. Fingers crossed for a new record in the new year.

Mastodon - Live at Brixton
Easily one of the best live albums of the year, the metal monsters Mastodon simply slay on this pristine recording of a Brixton, England gig from 2012.

The Beatles - Live at the BBC
Part one of the greatest band of all-times BBC sessions was released in 1994 as a double CD, yet, this year, the band released for the first time, a second part of their iconic BBC recordings that helped create Beatlemania and introduce all of Europe and soon America to a band that forever changed the landscape of music. This four CD and two book set is further proof that there will never be a band like them ever again. 

Lost Talking Heads Instrumental Resurfaces

 A lost 1976 live recording of a rare Talking Heads instrumental song from a performance at CBGB'S as they were opening for Television has resurfaced. The clip, originally uploaded to YouTube in November, began getting steam this week as major outlets discovered it and its obscurity. Take a listen!

Quick News

On April 10, Nirvana will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the small town of Hoquiam, Washington, are making that day "Nirvana Day." The town, which has a population of less than 10,000 people, is just four miles down the road from late singer Kurt Cobain’s hometown of Aberdeen. The town's Mayor Jack Dunrey told radio station KXRO that the band deserve the honor. He said, "They bring great honor, I think as I say, to our entire community. And I think that it's good Kurt Cobain lived in Hoquiam for a little while, but he and Krist Novoselic are part of our community, and I think it's good to honor our sons and their great accomplishments."

After releasing their latest album 13, earlier this year, Black Sabbath are unsure if they will release a new album again down the line. Guitarist Geezer Butler told Classic Rock magazine, ""To me, it's been nicely rounded off now. If we did another album, it just wouldn't have the same vibe as far as I'm concerned. And with this one doing so well, the next one would have to be Number One everywhere too or people would see it as a failure."

On a promotional tour to talk about his new film, Her, music video director and filmmaker Spike Jonze spoke to IndieWire about a feature film he and Beastie Boys were working on called, We Can Do This. The film never panned out, but Jonze said, “It was so surreal and out there and [Adam Yauch’s filmmaker alter-ego] Nathanial Hornblower was a character as the director. One of the characters from ‘Sabotage,’ Sir Stuart Wallace, was a character. Both played by Yauch and it just would’ve been ridiculous and fun. Mike [Diamond] played a Country star [his alter-ego Country Mike] – those [country] songs we wrote for the movie actually. Adam Horowitz played this kid, Nino Vincenzi, who lived on Roosevelt Island with his dad who was a mechanic and was a little bit a John Travolta Saturday Night Fever type of kid. I forget all the different characters but… it would have been funny to see them on-screen.”

After being released from prison early, Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have said they are no longer Pussy Riot at a press conference in Russia. They said that they would be starting a non-governmental human rights group called Zona Prava, which translates to Justice Zone. Alyokhina added,"We can promote our cause without playing any shows. And we will never play any shows for money."

Monday, December 23, 2013

Darlene Love on Letterman

On Friday, legendary singer Darlene Love made her annual trip to the Ed Sullivan Theater to spread some Christmas cheer on The Late Show with David Letterman. Take a look!

Pussy Riot Are Free!


Thanks to a Russian amnesty that just passed, the remaining imprisoned members of Russian Riot Girl group, Pussy Riot have been set free. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were supposed to serve until March, but were released this morning.

The two released a statement: "We all recognize that the whole amnesty program is a PR move by Putin, likely of course a bit of image clean up prior to the Olympics, said Hunter Heaney, Executive Director of The Voice Project, an organization that has worked behind the scenes for the women's release and worked together with family members to keep the Pussy Riot women safe and monitored while they were in the camps, raising over $120,000 for the support efforts. "Amnesty being "granted" to two women put in prison for a 40 second song performance, who would have been released in a mere couple of months, after missing nearly two years with their young children and loved ones is, of course, absurd. Last minute amnesty does not make up for that or the rule of law denied to so many others by the Putin regime and our thoughts are with them today. However, we are so happy that Nadya and Masha are safe, have come through this ordeal healthy and strong, and two young mothers will now be getting to see their children. A very large community of activists and donors around the world have worked hard to help to see that happen."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Another Look at 2013

After we announced our picks for the 10 Best Albums of 2013, our fantastic group of correspondents have given us theirs to share. The beauty of music, like any type of art form, is that it is subjective and everyones outlook will be a bit different. Take a look at what our correspondents picked as their favorite albums of the year!

Here is a list from our photographer and premiere NYC DJ RICH D SMOOV:
1. Action Bronson & Party Supplies - Blue Chips 2 
2. Ill Bill - The Grimey Awards
3. Inspectah Deck, 7L & Esoteric - Czarface
4.Deltron 3030 - The Event 2
5. RA the Rugged Man - Legends Never Die
6. Run the Jewels
7. Carcass - Surgical Steel
8. Gorguts  - Colored Sands 
9. Nails - Abandon All Life
10. Take Over and Destroy - Endless Night

Here is a list from our photographer Le-La Cloutier:
1. Arctic Monkeys- AM
2. Portugal. The Man- Evil Friends
3. Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires in the City
4. Justin Timberlake- The 20/20 Experience
5. Cold War Kids- Dear Miss Lonelyhearts
6. Jake Bugg- Shangri La
7. Kings of Leon- Mechanical Bull
8. Lorde- Pure Heroine
9. Arcade Fire- Reflektor
10. Fitz and the Tantrums- More Than Just A Dream

Honorable Mentions:
1. Skylar Grey- Don't Look Down
2. Grouplove- Spreading Rumours
3. The Strokes- The Comedown Machine

Here is a list from our correspondent Matthew Warford:
1 - Classixx - Hanging Gardens
2 - The National - Trouble Will Find Me
3 - Jessie Ware - Devotion
4 - Pusha T - My Name Is My Name
5 - Haim - Days Are Gone
6 - Rhye - Woman
7 - Holy Ghost! - Dynamics
8 - Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
9 - James Blake - Overgrown
10 - Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

Honorable Mentions:
Phoenix - Bankrupt!
Disclosure - Settle
Drake - Nothing Was The Same
AM & Shawn Lee - La Musique Numerique
Houses - A Quiet Darkness

Here is a list from our correspondent David Blanchard:
1. Smith Westerns - Soft Will
2. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II
3. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
4. The Head and the Heart - Let's Be Still
5. Lucius - Wildewoman
6. Washed Out - Paracosm
7. Cayucas - Bigfoot
8. Fuzz 
9. Olafur Arnalds - For Now I am Winter
10. James Blake - Overgrown

As Tall As Lions Documentary Trailer

 In 2010, as their popularity was hitting a fine pulse, Long Island indie band As Tall As Lions called it quits. A new, just announced documentary arriving on Christmas, will explain that story. Take a look at the film's trailer!

20 Best Gigs of 2013

We covered a ton of shows this year. Everything from Cannibal Ox's reunion show in Vegas to Maryland Death Fest and Philly's This is Hardcore Fest. From A Tribe Called Quest's farewell to NYC to Nine Inch Nails' live return, to the NYC debut of The 1975 and half of The Smiths reuniting and so much in between. 

Here is a list of our 20 favorite gigs of 2013:

Friday, December 20, 2013

Coldplay & Lily Allen Perform Together

At a charity gig in London on Thursday night, Coldplay & Lily Allen joined forces on stage at the Apollo Hammersmith in London and performed Allen's "The Fear." Take a look.

Chance the Rapper on Arsenio

Watch Chance the Rapper perform "Chain Smoker" on Arsenio!

Young the Giant on Conan

Watch Young the Giant perform their new single, "It's About Time" on Conan!

Thursday, December 19, 2013


 Take a look at December's 27-track playlist and hear / subscribe to it on Spotify!

Quick News

Thanks to an amnesty bill and pardon from Russian President Vladmir Putin, the remaining members of Pussy Riot could be released any day. The remaining two members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, and Maria Alyokhina, 25, were due to be released in March, but the bill will get them out earlier. Fuck Yes!

After years of waiting and hoping, iconic hip-hop duo Mobb Deep are reuniting and will release their new album, The Infamous Mobb Deep in the spring. The album will be a double LP, one of brand new cuts and another to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut, Infamous, which will feature rare cuts, and remastered songs.

Pusha-T has confirmed that he will enter the studio next month with Pharell to work on the follow-up to this years LP, My Name is My Name.

Speaking of Pharell, he will release his first solo album in eight years next year. No word yet on a release date.

Haim on Kimmel

Watch Haim perform their hits, "The Wire" and "Forever" on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Bad Religion on Conan

Watch Bad Religion spread Christmas cheer on Conan!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Live Pix: Run the Jewels @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

On Friday, Converse Rubber Tracks Live presented Run the Jewels at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg. We were on hand to cover the event, take a look at some of RICH D SMOOV's Live Pix of their performance. 

 Until the Ribbon Breaks 
 Mr. Motherfuckin eXquire 

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Great Soundtracks: Man on the Moon

This past year, rumors surfaced that legendary comedian Andy Kaufman was not dead and pulled off the greatest gag and hoax of all time -- convincing the world he was dead. Well, that rumor was just that, a rumor and a great hope. However, in 1998, Kaufman came back to life in the Milos Foreman film, Man on the Moon, when Jim Carey portrayed Kaufman in the biopic about his rise and untimely death. The film, which was more of a drama than comedy, was moved along from a great soundtrack by R.E.M. 

The Athens, Georgia, band had brought Kaufman to a new generation thanks to their 1992 single, "Man on the Moon," and then provided the score and original songs to the film. The music, which was what R.E.M. were dabbling around with at that time, which would be their Up-era, was more electronic, and experimental rather than the guitar and garage sounds fans were accustomed to. While the soundtrack is an unofficial R.E.M. album, it hears the bands versatility to a film and story that is memorable.

Recommended Reading: Scott Weiland "Not Dead & Not For Sale"

No front man in the 1990's captured fan and media attention more than Stone Temple Pilots' Scott Weiland. Weiland, whose drug usage and antics were as documented as if he was the male Lindsay Lohan of the decade that saw Generation X and Y emerge to dictate what was cool and good. With the success of Stone Temple Pilots, Weiland's drug usage and rehab stints soared just as the band's singles. In 2011, he documented it all in his autobiography, Not Dead and Not For Sale.

Weiland, who grew up in the midwest and was a star football player, would be the last person you would expect to run to Hollywood to try and start a band. In his book, he documents years of physical and sexual abuse he endured by his father and ran away to escape. Once landing in Hollywood he had rock and roll dreams as he was a limo driver, where he would then meet his future ex-wife, model Mary Foresberg Weiland, and then his bandmates to form Stone Temple Pilots. He documents and speaks candidly about his drug addiction, rehab stints, and his crazy days in a band that had the world in the palm of their hands. Weiland also opens up about his solo career, and his stint as the frontman to Velvet Revolver, who took the music world by storm in 2004. While STP have now continued on without Weiland and with Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, Weiland is a solo artist and this book hopefully closed some very dark times and chapters in his life.

Quick News

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the class of 2014! Being inducted at a ceremony at Brooklyn's Barclays Center in April will be Nirvana, KISS, Peter Gabriel, The E-Street Band, Yusef Islam, late Beatles manager Brian Epstein, and former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham.

Dave Matthews and Jakob Dylan have joined forces to form a new band called The Nauts. The band are currently self-producing and making their debut album.

7 Seconds front man Kevin Seconds will release his latest solo album, Off Stockton in February.

Speaking to Yahoo, Pixies front man Black Francis spoke about the firing of bassist Kim Shattuck. He said, "The big question mark is, if it was going so well, why are you changing it up again? I guess it’s a fair question, but what I would say is, just because some shows went well or a recording session went well with somebody, that doesn’t mean that now you guys are married and this is forever. It’s not really how it works when you’re a band. And it’s hard to explain to people, especially if they get emotionally attached to one person. Frankly, you don't want to explain it to anybody – it’s a lot of its personal, private shit. It's like politics and sports and people’s personal lives have all been smeared together in this modern world. It’s a very presumptuous attitude about a lot of things. [People say], 'Oh you’re shifting something in your world – we demand a statement as to why.' I’m not the mayor, this isn’t the bus service for a town. This is a rock band. There’s been a shift in the lineup, big woop-dee-doo… as far as we’re concerned it ain't that big of a deal."

A new petition has been posted on Change.org to get the famous corner used on the cover of Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique to be renamed in honor of the iconic album. The street corner of Ludlow and Rivington in New York's Lower East Side, is being petitioned to be renamed "Beastie Boys Square." You can learn more and sign the petition HERE.

The National & Gregg Allman on Colbert

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Watch The National and Gregg Allman perform "Silver Bells" on The Colbert Report!

Chris Cornell on Letterman

Watch Chris Cornell perform "Misery Chain" with Joy Williams from the film 12 Years A Slave on Letterman.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013 The Albums - Top 10

So, here we are, the end of an explosive year in music. A year that saw new material from artists we never thought would craft new music again like David Bowie, My Bloody Valentine, Suede, Deltron 3030, Mazzy Star, Black Sabbath with Ozzy. Even seeing artists like Nine Inch Nails, Death, Daft Punk, TLC, return to the scene after years of hiatus was invigorating.

2013 was a year chock-full-of-great music that was very difficult narrowing down to 10 Best Albums, Honorable Mentions, and a special League of Their Own award. It wasn’t just albums from acts we love like Pearl Jam, Paul McCartney, The National, Janelle Monae, Justin Timberlake, Frank Turner, that caught our attention, it was rising artists like London Grammar, Haim, Chvrches, Savages, Jake Bugg, Rudimental, Parquet Courts, that really had us focusing on what could be the next big thing. Yet, looking back, this is a list that really sums what this year up the way we saw and heard it.

It was a year that indie hip-hop stormed through and gave heavy hitters like Jay Z, Kanye, Eminem, Drake, a run for their money. It may have been the year that Yeezus emerged, but it was the year that hip-hop flexed the muscles that would be it’s future thanks to Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$, Danny Brown, Earl Sweatshirt, A$AP Crew, and Kendrick Lamar’s verse on “Control.” This year also marked the 20th anniversary of Wu-Tang Clan’s triumphant debut, and while we were promised a new Wu album, that didn’t pan out. However, two of the group’s masterful lyricists, Ghostface and Inspectah Deck, laid out separate solo albums that sliced and diced the competition and showcased the new class how it has to be done. It was a year that sounds were darker and filled with landscapes that could only be cultivated in the mind of a musician and visited by a listener. Now, here we are, the Top 10 Albums of 2013. As always, in short and then long form:

2013 Top 10 Albums In Short Form:

10 - John Wizards
9 - Sigur Ros - Kveikur 
8 - Arctic Monkeys - AM
7 - Action Bronson & Party Supplies - Blue Chips 2
6 - The 1975
5 - Thundercat - Apocalypse 
4 - Ghostface Killah - 12 Reasons to Die
3 - Inspectah Deck, 7L & Esoteric - Czarface
2 - Suede - Bloodsports
1 - James Blake - Overgrown 

Now, In Long Form with Explanations:

10. John Wizards

The late, great Nelson Mandela fought and dreamed of his country to become a rainbow nation and fought and dreamed for all Africans to come together and unite as one. John Wizards takes Madiba's dream and makes it a reality. The band, who are based in Cape Town, South Africa, combine African drums, hip-hop, trippy electronica, ambient, shoe gaze, rock, new wave, and so much and manage to filter it through in a way that doesn’t sound over produced, over saturated and most importantly overdone. This band is the brain child of Cape Town’s John Withers who linked up with Rwandan singer Emmanuel Nzaramba to craft this unique and very creative sound and vision. The album plays like the soundtrack to the dreams you have at night and feels as if you are on a cultural and psychological journey with the musicians as they travel from one form of music to another. John Wizards simply create great music for fans of music. 

Key Tracks: I'm Still A Serious Guy, Limpop 

9. Sigur Ros - Kveikur 

The Icelandic giants returned and did a total 180 from last year's disappointing, ValtariKveikur hears Sigur Ros experimenting with metal, industrial, hard rock and create one of their finest albums of their illustrious career. This harder and much more aggressive seventh album from Sigur Ros is something that will appeal to fans and those that are still questioning the musical capability of this magnificent band.

Key Tracks: Brennisteinn, Stormur

8. Arctic Monkeys - AM 

We have watched Arctic Monkeys grow-up and evolve right in front of our very eyes, from their brilliant barnstorming debut, Whatever People Say I Am Is What I Am Not to their very latest, AM. They have been around for less than a decade and manage to maintain their rock and roll identity but explore different paths within it. On this year's release, AM, the bands fifth, they mature as songwriters and musicians. They haven’t played their instruments at 100 mph since their first two LP’s but they have learned to make the same impact by doing less. AM is a record that does just that. It is not the stoner-rock joyride that Humbug was, nor is it the lyrical masterpiece that Suck It And See was, AM is older and wiser, in fact in many ways it is better than all of those things. AM holds the key to the Monkeys future and proves that Alex Turner’s clever songwriting is not someone trying to do all of these things, but just is. AM could be viewed as a lazy title, but in fact, it is the symbolic outlook of the bands music, doing so much with less, AM could be looked at as “am,” and the Monkeys could be telling us this is who they are. If that is the case, we are glad they are making music in this day and age. Plus, any band referencing Scorsese’s Mean Streets deserves high recognition.

Key Tracks: R U Mine?, Knee Socks

7. Action Bronson & Party Supplies - Blue Chips 2 

Last year, Bronson and Supplies teamed up for their near flawless mixtape and one of last years best albums, Blue Chips. Now, the prove that they are one of the best rapper / producer teams in hip-hop with the brilliant Blue Chips 2. The latest mixtape proves that sequels do not suck and hears them paying homage to the mid 90’s. It is a slice of life style tape that features samples from Phil Collins, Billy Joel, Tracy Chapman, and memorable bites from NBA players of the era, and of course raw sampling and beat work that is a throwback to hip-hop’s glory days. Bronsolino and Supplies do it again, and we hope there is a third installment to the Blue Chips saga in the works.

Key Tracks: Jackson & Travolta feat. Mayhem Lauren, Midget Cough 

6. The 1975

We have raved all year about The 1975, even calling them this year's "Best New Artist," so, it should come as no surprise that their debut landed somewhere on our Top 10 list. The British band combine the perfect blend of dance rock and pop hooks that proves that good pop music can be played with a guitar and good rock can have pop / radio appeal. After you are done listening to this album, you are just going to want to hit repeat and play again.

Key Tracks: Sex, The City 

5. Thundercat - Apocalypse 

Every artist making a second album needs to pay attention – Thundercat shows how you do it! The Brainfeeder bassist went into orbit to show off his dynamic range more than before. Apocalypse is a vivid, colorful, jazz, funk, rock, prog, dance showcase that fuses genres so perfectly together. Think if Flying Lotus had Justin Timberlake in a studio with Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew-era band and were told to make a record with the spirit of early Michael Jackson, well, that is what Thundercat did. I dare you, in fact, I double fucking dare you to try and sit still listening to this album or not attempt to be blown away by this perfect craftsmanship.

Key Tracks: Tenfold, Oh Sheit It's X 

4. Ghostface Killah - 12 Reasons to Die

In a year when hip-hop was dominated by the biggest names in music, one of parts of hip-hop's most legendary group showed how to really push a few boundaries, blur genre lines and still be creative but staying true to your style. Taking his love of mafia films, horror movies, comic books, and music and rolling it into one epic album, Wu-Tang's Ghostface Killah returned with his best album since 2000’s Supreme Clientele. Working with composer Adrian Younge, Ghost brings a storyline that Hollywood wish they could write. 12 Reasons to Die is a concept record set in the 1960’s about Tony Starks, a man who is muscle for the Italian mob, when Starks falls in love with a don’s wife, they whack Starks but little do they know he will return as the Ghostface Killah. Rapping over an original orchestral score provided by Younge, Ghost delivers a supreme hip-hopera.

Key Tracks: I Declare War feat. Masta Killa, Rise of the Ghostface Killah 

3. Inspectah Deck, 7L & Esoteric - Czarface

Three hip-hop titans teamed up for a trident of intense beats, rhymes, and progress to the future of the genre while throwing back to what has been laid down already. Taking queues from hip-hop’s glory days of the 1990’s, Czarface also lays out a blueprint to future collaborative hip-hop groups as to how it should be done. Much like Ghostface's album, Wu-Tang's Inspectah Deck teamed up with the underground rap duo 7L & Escoteric to create a hip-hop concept record about a superhero that could only come from the imagination of creators like these. With special guests Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, Ghostface Killah, Cappadonna, Mr. MotherFuckin Exquire, and more, Czarface plays like The Avengers coming together on the mic.  

Key Tracks: I Declare War, It's Raw feat. Action Bronson 

2. Suede - Bloodsports 

Suede or The London Suede (depending on what part of the world you are from) returned after 11 years with their latest, Bloodsports and show everyone in music – This is how you make a comeback! One of the finest comeback records ever released, Bloodsports heared the Britpop legends refreshed, reenergized, reinvigorated, and most of all renewed for the next chapter of their careers. From singer Brett Anderson’s unique powerul falsetto voice to the bands inspiring guitar and rhyme sections, each song of Bloodsports is a fight to show why this band still matters. If each track is a new round in this fight, they come back swinging harder, faster, and stronger with each building song.

Key Tracks: Barriers, It Starts and Ends With You 

1. James Blake - Overgrown

The British beatmaker and digital crooner, James Blake returned with his sophomore album and after his breakthrough 2011 beautiful self-titled debut, Blake grew and stretched his limbs as an artist, composer, singer, producer, and lyricist. Overgrown hears Blake take more of an R&B approach to his music rather than writing folk tunes over dubstep beats, it is a swelling and emotional record that takes the listener on a journey into the darkest places of their heart and mind. With a guest appearance from RZA, it is a testament that a brilliant mind from another genre is running to work with him. In a year filled with magnificent sounds and styles, Blake showcased it all on a record that will be talked about for years to come, which is why it is our album of the year.

Key Tracks: Take A Fall For Me feat. RZA, Digital Lion 

So, that is it folks. The year in sound. Thanks for checking it out and hope you enjoyed the list! Take a look at our other year-end music lists below:

Live Review - Queens of the Stone Age @ Barclays Center

The success of Queens of the Stone Age has been a steady sustained incline since they arrived in 1998. Thanks to their first two albums they became critical darlings, but in 2002, with the release of Songs for the Deaf, they became international rock radio superstars. They managed to keep that momentum going with 2005's Lullabies To Paralyze and then slipping a bit in 2007 with Era Vulgaris. Thanks to a few side projects, a few line-up changes and a six year wait, Queens of the Stone Age roared back this year with one of the best albums of their career and one of the best of the year, the Grammy nominated ....Like Clockwork. To celebrate the triumph of success that their new album brought on, they staged their very first headlining arena tour which landed at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on Saturday night.

As the houselights dimmed and a giant screen projected a 60-second countdown for fans to anticipate the arrival of Queens, they strolled on stage with instruments and drinks in hand and ripped it from the get-go. Opening with "You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire," and then jumping right into "No One Knows," to the first ...Like Clockwork single, "My God is the Sun," they managed to extend each song a bit by jamming and feeding off each others playing as if they were an improv jazz group that were using roaring guitars and thick bass rather than trumpets and saxophones. "We were in Boston last night," singer Josh Homme told the crowd, which was met with a chorus of boos, "Boston has a lot of rules. This is New York City, you have no rules. You are at a Queens show, you can do whatever you want," he said just before going into "Burn the Witch." It is with that mentality that has gotten Queens the respect they deserve over the years. They are one of the few rock and roll bands, that still know how to be rockstars. They may not be trashing hotel rooms or discussing their womanizing, but they can surely play as hard as they want and encourage their audience to live as hard as they want. One in a while, you need a band like that to come around and shake things up a bit. In their 90-minute main set they covered a majority of their discography from 2000's Rated R to present, only eliminating songs off their 1998 self-titled debut. Closing with "Go with the Flow," they had all of Brooklyn cheering and screaming for more. As they retreated to the wings, the shouts for an encore were louder than some of the songs the band had played.

As Queens strutted back on stage, lighting cigarettes and taking their places for the encore, something I had not seen in ages at a concert began to happen, as the band began playing the dark and somber "The Vampyre of Time and Memory," most of the arena began to raise lighters in the air. The lighters made a  concert comeback after years of being replaced by cell phones, it was a great old school gesture to show the band. As the somber moments came to an end and the lighters went away, "Feel Good Hit of the Summer," and "A Song for the Dead" brought the energy and rock and roll extravaganza back to the show. Leaving the audience pulverized, it was time to say goodbye. For nearly two hours on stage, they hit us in ways only they know how.

Queens of the Stone Age 12/14/13 Barclays Center Setlist:

You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire
No One Knows
My God Is the Sun
Burn the Witch
Smooth Sailing
Monsters in the Parasol
I Sat by the Ocean
…Like Clockwork
I Never Came
If I Had a Tail
Little Sister
Fairweather Friends
Make It Wit Chu
Sick, Sick, Sick
Better Living Through Chemistry
Go With the Flow
The Vampyre of Time and Memory
Feel Good Hit of the Summer
A Song for the Dead

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Live Review: Run the Jewels @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

"They are saying that these shows are becoming stuff of legend," Killer Mike said about three songs into his set with his partner-in-crime, El-P, who make up one of 2013's hottest rap groups, Run the Jewels. The duo, who are some of the most electrifying emcees in hip-hop, and El-P a production legend, teamed up to create Run the Jewels after having a very successful 2012 working with each other on their respective solo albums, Killer Mike's brilliant R.A.P. Music and El-P's mind bending Cancer 4 Cure. Run the Jewels was a free album that went viral and made these team larger than they already were on their own and to cap off an amazing 2013, they performed inside a pact Music Hall of Williamsburg for a few lucky fans who were able to score free tickets to Converse Rubber Tracks latest live series at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg.

Opening with the bombastic title track, "Run the Jewels," all of Music Hall began dancing and jumping around thanks to the aggressive beats, killer lyrical flow and hard hitting delivery. "We have had an incredible year. These last three years have been amazing and the critics are recognizing us, but we have to recognize you guys. The fans. You made us," Killer Mike said to the crowd as he wore a shirt that said, "Fuck Hope Do Dope," he and El-P have a lot to be thankful for, after years of respect in the underground, the mainstream community is taking notice to their fantastic work. After plowing through most of their debut in full and bringing out special guest Until the Ribbon Breaks, they closed their main set with Santa Claus hats as they did "A Christmas Fucking Miracle," and retreated to the wings. After a brief break, they came back on stage and began to deliver hits from their solo work. Killer Mike started up first doing his last album's title track, "R.A.P. Music," and then "Butane," before El-P hit it off with "The Full Retard," "Drones Over Brooklyn," and "Oh Hail No," which saw him bring out special guest, Mr. MotherFuckin eXquire. However, the most special moment of the night came for the grand finale. Killer Mike got himself into the crowd and had the DJ drop a slow beat as he brought the cadence down to his pulse pounding track "Reagan," where he focused the audiences attention to the words he was saying and not just a song. Almost like a slam poet, Killer Mike had everyone paying attention to what he was saying about his problems with former President Ronald Reagan and the presidents that followed after, before adding the final line "R.I.P. Mandela." It was a poignant way to close a show that, as they proclaimed, has become stuff of legend.

Opening the show was rap/rock supergroup The White Mandingos, which features the legendary Darryl Jennifer of Bad Brains, Murs, and journalist and musician Sascha Jenkins. The socially conscious punk and hardcore hip-hop outfit delivered an intense set that showcased the parts of the groups sums talents. Murs, still one of the most underrated emcees ever, seems to be having the time of his life in this band, while it looks like another day in the office for Jenkins and Jennifer. For their hour-long set they included songs like "My First White Girl," "Wesley Snipes," and "Warn A Brotha," and called out Kendrick Lamar for their track, "King of New York." Their fantastic set came to a close with the Minor Threat cover of "Guilty of Being White," and then Murs going solo with their DJ freestyling as the rest of the band walked off stage.

A fantastic Christmas gift at the right price thanks to Converse.

Quick News

After all of these years, The Beatles and Kraftwerk will be honored with a special Lifetime Achievement Grammy at February's Grammy Awards.

Schoolboy Q will release his much anticipated new album, Oxymoron, in February.

Due to personal reasons, Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison has left the band. The band has vowed to continue on without one of their founding members and has announced they will reveal the personal details of Jordison's departure at a later date. The band have also announced they will release a new record in 2014.

Mongol Horde, the hardcore side project of Frank Turner and his former Million Dead band mates, Ben Dawson and Matt Nasir, are finally recording their long awaited debut. Last year, Turner announced the project, but thanks to Turner's busy schedule, the band finally began recording this month in London. They hope to have a record out next year.

Speaking to UK's XFM, Vaccines frontman Justin Young said that a new album is on its way, but not anytime soon. Young said, "We've always written in quite a solitary manner so we've actually already started writing the next record. I kind of feel by admitting that people are going to expect it sooner than perhaps we're ready to put it out. We're not set on releasing it any time soon. When we feel like we've made the best record we're capable of making, which is hopefully sooner rather than later, then we'll put it out and we're halfway to doing that really." Young then spoke about the band's new direction, "I think that [the new album] certainly won't sound like the first two records. I think it will closer stylistically to the 'Melody Calling' EP. I think we feel that was probably a bridge. In a way I kind of hope that 'Melody Calling' served as something to stop people going 'what the fuck?' when we release our next record because I don't think it will sound anything like the first two."

The Black Lips have announced their new album, Underneath the Rainbow, will arrive in March. The record was co-produced by Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney. Take a look at the tracklisting below:
01 Drive By Buddy
02 Smiling
03 Make You Mine
04 Funny
05 Dorner Party
06 Justice After All
07 Boys in the Wood
08 Waiting
09 Do the Vibrate
10 I Don't Wanna Go Home
11 Dandelion Dust
12 Dog Years

Seasick Steve on Letterman

 Surprisingly, after all of these years, Seasick Steve has never been on TV to promote any music...until now! The blues legend performed "Cut My Wings" on Letterman.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lee Ranaldo & The Dust on Conan

Watch Lee Ranaldo and his backing band, The Dust, perform on Conan!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Live Review - Glen Hansard @ Ed Sullivan Theater

For the final show of 2013 for the Live on Letterman series at the iconic Ed Sullivan Theater, they could not have found a better artist to close another memorable year. Oscar winner Glen Hansard, who was in town to promote his latest EP on The Late Show with David Letterman, stuck around and even had a few friends, his old band, The Frames, join him for one of the best gigs the series has ever put on.

Hansard, the tall Irish songwriter who has captured our hearts over the years, even was backed by a small string and brass ensemble that made this particular show even more special. In a near 90-minute set that included songs from his solo material, The Frames, The Swell Season and sprinkles of covers like Aretha Franklin's "Respect," The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York," and a full cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Drive All Night," Hansard had everyone eating out of the palm of his hand. Hansard's set is much like a Pixies song, it goes from rambunctious and loud to as quiet as a mouse, it is the basis of his song style and how he crafts his set list. Aside from being a brilliant lyricist and frontman, he is a fantastic storyteller. It is the Irish in him. In between songs he would talk about how the Irish celebrate Christmas and tried wrapping his head around America's political correctness of the term "Happy Holidays." While he would make jokes and tell funny stories, it was the heartfelt backstories of his songs that really had the audience wanting more. It was the origin stories for songs like "Song of Good Hope," and "Love Don't Leave Me Waiting," took on new meaning after hearing them live. After plowing through an extended version of Springsteen's "Drive All Night," and when everyone thought it was time to go home, Hansard did the song that made him an household name, "Falling Slowly." While his former bandmate, co-star, and girlfriend Markéta Irglová, was not there to sing co-vocal duties, Hansard managed to pull it through on his own and bring an epic night to a close. Hansard, who has not let his fame and fortune get to his head is still as humble as ever, which is why his career has had the longevity it has over the years and whatever project he is apart of is simply gold. Tonight's concert, which was broadcast online for all of the world to see, proved that.

Katy B New Album Details

British songstress Katy B will release her new album, Little Red in February. Take a look at the cover above and the tracklisting below, as well as the video for the first single, "5AM." 

01 Next Thing
02 5 AM
03 Aaliyah [ft. Jessie Ware]
04 Crying for No Reason
05 I Like You
06 All My Lovin'
07 Tumbling Down
08 Everything
09 Play [ft. Sampha]
10 Sapphire Blue
11 Emotions
12 Still 

Iron & Wine w/ Calexico on Fallon

Watch Iron & Wine with special guests Calexico on Fallon!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

2013 - Best New Artist

This superlative and tradition began in 2011 when a little British artist made a lasting impact on us, that artist James Blake, has gone on to release a handful of superb EP's, a magnificent sophomore LP, won the Mercury Prize and was nominated for a Grammy. Needless to say, we feel like we were correct in picking him and starting this award with him. 

Last year, we left it up to you, the readers, to choose for us, simply because the field was much to great and we couldn't pick on our own and needed help. You all spoke out and named England's The Heartbreaks as your 2012 Best New Artist and we were so proud and pleased. That band, who will release a new album next year, has continued to release fantastic music and live up to the title.

Now, comes 2013's pick.

The 1975

From the moment we heard their single, "Sex," we knew that The 1975 were going to be massive. In the span of 13 months, they released four fantastic EP's and one of the year's best albums and one of the best debuts we ever heard. When we caught their very first NYC performance on a cold March night at Mercury Lounge, we knew that this band could back up their brilliant music with a fantastic and humble live show. They also, coincidentally, carry on the tradition that the best new music does in fact come from Britain. However, The 1975 are an English band that can unite all music fans, from fans of Joy Division to One Direction, they have the perfect balance between poster-boy pop-rock and Britrock. 

We also got a chance to know them this year, take a look at our interview with the band HERE

Morrissey At Nobel Peace Prize Concert

 Watch Morrissey perform "People Are the Same Everywhere," Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love," and "Irish Blood, English Heart," at the Nobel Peace Prize concert!