Tag Archives: Danger Mouse

Happy 2014 – Some Albums to Look Forward To

2 Jan

2014

After finishing 2013 with a list of top sings from the past year, The Music Court is ringing in 2014 with a few album previews for exciting new albums to be released in the coming months. Will these albums feature songs that appear on the top 10 songs of 2014 list? I can’t think that far in advance! Before we swing back into new band profiles and other new, rich content, let’s check out three albums on the platter of melodies for the new year. We start with a duo of accomplished musicians who will look to pin their respective ability against the dreaded sophomore album slump.

Broken Bells

Broken Bells, the Indie rock side-project of Shins leadman James Mercer and multifarious producer/musician Danger Mouse (Brian Burton), is coming off an uber-successful eponymous release back in 2010. After the Disco, the much-awaited second release from the duo, has already received some serious buzz from music lovers (The Music Court wrote about the first single from the album – “Holding on For Life” – back in November). The album is a bit spacier and implements elements of disco (Mercer’s airy vocal helps for this). Will it be a second revelation for the band or spell an end to the project? Check out for yourself on February 4th

High Hopes

This is Bruce Springsteen’s 18th studio album. Yes, 18. The Boss will never stop working, and he clearly has high hopes for this unprecedented release. Unprecedented, you say? This is the heartland rocker from Jersey’s first studio album composed entirely of covers, unreleased material, or reimagined versions of past songs. For other musicians this may be considered the beginning of the end, but for Springsteen it is a celebration. Tom Morello joins Springsteen on eight out of the 12 tracks, and late saxophonist Clarence Clemons (the big man) and organist Danny Federici (Phantom Dan) appear on two tracks. If you haven’t already gotten a copy of the leaked album it comes out for real on January 14. 

Fanfarlo

Fanfarlo has had a dear spot in my musical heart since the release of its debut album in 2009. The London-based band that defies all genre defining (the band describes its sound as Space Opera meets Spaghetti Western, so do with that what you will) features a plethora of rich instrumentation and potent vocals. Not band for a quartet of multi-instrumentalists. The band’s last release was a concept EP that explored the past, present, and future of humanity. Let’s Go Extinct comes out on February 10. 

 

Fall 2012 Music Preview

29 Sep

 

Fall is not only Oscar season. Some of the best albums are also released. This Fall is no different. There are several promising albums coming out. I often find it is difficult to keep track of all the albums that are being released. Often, an album is released, and you don’t find out about it until it is already old news. And, come on, I know everyone likes being a Hipster and knowing about things “before they are cool.” So, consider this your Hipster Fall 2012 primer. Here are some albums you should be looking forward to.

Just to be clear, Mumford and Sons released their second LP Babel earlier this week. Ben Folds Five released their comeback album the week before, and the Killers released Battle Born on 9/18 as well. These albums are not on the list because they have already been released. Here are some more that have been recently released for your consumption

– Green Day album Uno (bet you can guess what the follow-up is going to be called)

– Bob Dylan’s Temptest (soon enough, his albums will be composed of one 60-minute poetic narrative)

– The Avett Brothers: The Carpenter

– Pete Seeger: Peter Remembers Woody AND A More Perfect Union

The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth – October 2

What is it?: The Mountain Goats’ ambitious 14th album

Why should I be excited?: Because lead-goat Darnielle is a lyrical master and the Goats’ music has just become more diverse and creative. This supreme cult-band is among my favorite acts, and the album will most likely be crafty, original, and depressing (like all good Mountain Goats albums).

Muse – The 2nd Law – October 2

What is it?: Muse’s 6th studio album featuring “Survival” which was the official song of the London Olympics this year

Why should I be excited?: Muse has been working on this article since last September. This is their first release since 2009, and that album featured the incredibly popular “Uprising.” The band is comfortably in the zone of solid releases. The album combines their blend of symphonic rock with dubstep and synth pop. Will it overtake the popularity of their last release. I don’t know. Check it out to see.

John Cale – Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood – October 2

What is it?: John Cale, of Velvet Underground fame, is releasing his first studio album in seven years.

Why should I be excited?:  John Cale is a talented musician, and he is combining his alt/rock electronic talents with a staff of uber-talented musicians – Danger Mouse, Mike Jerome, Dustin Boyer. This is one of the more interesting releases on the list, and I am anticipating some handy work by these guys

Other Releases to be Excited About:

10/2

  • Flying Lotus: Until the Quiet Comes
  • The Wallflowers: Glad All Over
  • Chris Rene: I’m Right Here

10/9

  • Freelance Whales: Diluvia

10/18

  • Jason Lytle: Dept. of Disappearance

10/30

  • Andrew Bird: Hands of Glory

11/13

  • One Republic: Native

 

Forever Finding Oren Lyons

20 Aug

Oren Lyons

Oren Lyons is a Native American faithkeeper who is widely recognized for his advocacy for indegenous rights. Oren Lyons is also a band, whose nostalgic mix of cinematic Western symphonic rock is a musical “return to the land” and a true pleasure to listen to.

Oren Lyons formed this past January in Silver Lake, California, a Los Angeles neighborhood known for its modernist architecture and hipsters. It combines the work of composer and multi-instrumentalist Gueorgui Linev with guitarist/producer Peter Potyondy, singer Kristianne Bautista, violinist Dannon Rampton, drummer Randy Wagner, and bassist Ian Anderson.

The end result of this combination is an ambient sound that refreshingly transforms the genre of progressive rock into a calm, ethereal, dream-like sequence of delicate string arrangements, soft vocals, and excellent rhythm. “Forever Found,” the band’s debut single, can be streamed on their website. The effort reminds me of Rome, the 2011 album written by Danger Mouse and Italian composer Daniele Luppi, featuring Jack White and Norah Jones. That album featured musicians who recorded spaghetti western soundtracks in the mid-60s. “Forever Found” is cut from the same mold, a track that could have easily found itself on a Western sountrack, and this old-fashioned styling is far from outdated.

The song begins with strings that fall into percussion and an introductory bass line. The bass work in this song is notably good. With a name like Ian Anderson, you almost certainly have to be talented. Kristianne Bautista’s voice can be best described as haunting. It elegantly dances with the music, oscillating with the strings skillfully. The song continues to rise, taking a step up for the second verse, and this leads to exciting string work. The strings are certainly one of the main elements of the song, and they do carry it. I must say though, when the song descends at the 2:40 mark, Peter Potyondy’s guitar introduces a new element to the piece, providing it with an infectious folk-esque riff. The ending is wonderfully constructed. It also provides the listener with a most important conclusion – I want to hear more!

You can explore the band’s Facebook and Soundcloud

Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi Break Boundaries with Rome – A Full Album Review

10 May

Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi first started the Rome project five years ago with a musical dream. Let’s create an ode to the soundtrack of spaghetti westerns, a la “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” It was an ambitious goal, but one that fit comfortably into the parameters of both Luppi, an Italian composer, and Danger Mouse, a modern music producer and drummer. Add in the vocals talents of Jack White and Norah Jones and you get a melodic combination that effortlessly mixes classical music with an eclectic taste of electronic/folk/rock. The resulting album will be released in a week, but it currently is streaming on Rolling Stone’s website (http://www1.rollingstone.com/hearitnow/player/dangermouse-rome.html) and I definitely suggest taking a peak at this sneak preview.

Each track on the album deserves special attention because of the compelling intricacies and complexities they provide, so my track-by-track review follows all 15 songs, as the clear concept album creates a tale of intriguing sound. Yes, spaghetti western is considered to be a derogatory term, but this album destroys the hackneyed movie connection, and instead explores the creative music that lined its sun-splattered back drops. Rome crushes pop constructions and demonstrates modern respect for classical music. It is a work of sheer creativity, a western waltz, and certainly the best album of the year thus far.

“Theme of Rome”

The first track is an instrumental with ties to Pink Floyd’s work on “Welcome to the Machine,” with the single-struck chords and “The Great Gig in the Sky,” with the vocal chant. It sounds like a combination of these two mixed with the subtle element of a western. This introduction presents the album’s artsy and ambitious attempt well, almost creating a sun rise image, darkness slowly giving way to light.

“The Rose with a Broken Neck”

The beginning screams Danger Mouse, electronic, studio sounds that embrace listeners. Jack White stars as the male vocal part. The music is a little overpowering, somewhat incongruous with the vocals. It almost sounds like a unorganized bad dream, premised by a frightening lullaby provided by the backing keys. It works, though. There is beauty to its organization. The melody is infectious. As Okocim describes it, “it sounds like a video game, or rather a waltz.” And this is so true. It is a waltz in time signature and feel

And oh the classic western connection of the motif of “lonely” and repeating verse:

Lonely I see
Lonely I need
Lonely I feel
And lonely I bleed
Lonely I trust
And lonely I must
Be the rose with the broken neck

Morning Fog”

 The keys dominate the early album. This interlude is dreamy, because of the keys, and its 40 seconds drift the listener into the following song.

 “Season’s Trees”

 Here comes more of a traditional folk song with strings and Norah Jones’ sultry voice, sensual, inviting and candid. It moves well. I do love her voice. It is folk/pop and pretty conventional. The strings layer nicely, but are almost unnecessary. The song does not fit into the album’s key-heavy western pattern well. It is a blip of blasé and despite the ending doesn’t do it for me.

Her Hollow Ways (Interlude)”

And then we are back to the beautiful combination of Luppi and Danger Mouse. This is a perfect example of their flawless combination, an example of how classical can mix seamlessly with modern musical conventions (electronic). The composer meets the independent production that is Danger Mouse. A welcomed interlude. And the choir just moves the album, like a movie.

Roman Blue”

Basic chords. The song is in three, moving away from the normal pop convention of the 4/4 beat. It then immediately takes on this lull. This is my favorite instrumental. It is an instrumental masterpiece. The strings work is beautiful. It is powerful. But, one can still hear the Danger Mouse influence with the bass and small, lightly stroked keys. The wailing voice is such a Floyd thing, but its painful connotation ends the song on this awe-striking somber note. It sings western.

Two Against One”

This song was released a while ago and is one of Jack White’s tracks. The acoustic guitar is rapid paced. White’s voice is smooth and is placed over a plucking guitar in a minor key. Then, a bridge collapses into this surf-like electric guitar solo that smells like burning sand. The end features a harpsichord that rings twice, just enough to end the song a freaky note.

“The Gambling Priest”

 Surf guitar mixed with moaning voices and unconventional percussion. What the heck? This is like surf-psychedelia. The drum beat is exceptional. This is like Brian Wilson meets gothic folk meets Danger Mouse in a comfortable studio. The movie continues. This would be the part prefacing a big fight. Something evil is happening underneath the song and I want to know what it is.

The World (Interlude)”

 A grand piece. The vocals are heavenly, placed skillfully over a tiny keyboard riff.

“Black”

Track 10 came quickly. We begin with Danger Mouse’s most amazing riff since “The High Road” with Broken Bells. The keys are perfect. It sets this magical scene placed beautifully over an acoustic rhythm. This one fits much better into the movie that is Rome. The song works exceptionally well. Norah Jones’ voice is anagogical and smoky. It is more theatrical than “Two Against One,” but the lyric smothers the quick acoustic rhythm in a similar manner. I also am such a sucker for the classical portion with silhouette strings. The song moves like a post-death scene and it takes the title of best song on the album.

The Matador Has Fallen”

A slight change of pace. This is more uplifting. It is a worthy follow us to “Black,” a similar song.

Morning Fog”

The drumming on this album should be recognized. The album moves at an unpredictable pace, but the drums never falter. They are always crisp and acute to sound. Morning fog, suitably with its name, is dreary. The electronic keys are somewhat plangent, but their strength is welcome. The instrumental is carried by the chorus, that sings with strength, and the last reverberating chord is a melodic vibration.

Problem Queen”

 Welcome back Norah Jones. The keys lift and drop like a roller coaster. They are the backing for the song that cooks with Jones’ voice.

 “Her Hollow Ways”

The Her Hollow Ways interlude was the wondrous combination of both Danger Mouse and Luppi. The actual song takes on a lot of its partners qualities. The classical portion is my favorite part of the song, obviously taking most of the interludes melodic structure. The actual song is an expansion of the interlude, a triumphant, but sobering song where the hero reflects. Imagine yourself staring out at a desert expanse, blustery orange sand and a fading amber setting sun.

 “The World”

The World follows up from its own interlude. This sounds more western, and the combination of voices are powerful, sounding off this credits rolling finale of a perfect spaghetti western film. The end of the song presents the perfect climax and the album ends with keys fading out in the abyss.

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