Only the Rolling Stones can claim an evolution as variable as U2’s; Bono himself has gone from baby-faced new waver to long haired 80’s rocker to international rock star to tongue in cheek pop shocker, and now in this past decade, to sunglass wearing celebrity. Some criticize bands like U2 and The Stones for continuing to play music well into their years, but why should they? Proper rock musicians have only been around for the past fifty years as it is; there has never been a precedent for retirement. At 95 Chuck Berry still plays a regular once a month gig at a local venue in St. Louis, and B.B King has never stopped touring despite having already surpassed the average American life expectancy by ten years. In comparison U2 is still youthful at 38, and despite rumors of splitting the band has just come out with an album of post-apocalyptic proportions in every aspect. As of yesterday it stands as the only record in history to have been owned by 500 million people at the moment of its release, and as the band’s first album in five years its unexpected arrival could not have created more of a global flurry. In a letter to fans Bono wrote that U2 is “collaborating with Apple on some cool stuff over the next couple of years, innovations that will transform the way music is listened to and viewed.” If this is truly the case, then the album might be the impetus of a new direction for U2, albeit a currently foggy and unknown direction.
Full disclosure, this post was originally written for L.A. label HW&W’s 1.5 day-long Bandcamp free for all. Although it’s ended, not all hope is lost–16 of the albums on their Bandcamp are still available for free while the others are affordable, with prices ranging from $3-$10. I’ve taken it upon myself to cycle through the free ones to make up for this semi-late PSA and to introduce one of my favorite labels, Huh What & Where.
After Yours Truly and Adidas Originals announced their pairing of R&B prince Jeremih and WeDidIt cofounder Shlohmo for their Songs From Scratch series, one could say the Internet was a little more than overeager. Shlohmo’s renowned remix abilities have given listeners an impossibly relaxing yet tasteful take on Jeremih and Natasha Money’s smooth croons in “All The Time” that turned into lazy mornings and late night plays of the remade “Fuck You All The Time.”
Despite legal and label issues along the way, Shlohmo and Jeremih kept building the hype for their No More EP by releasing the eponymous single “No More” on Valentine’s Day. Today, July 17, has a double purpose as Jeremih’s 27th birthday and the album release date. Nab the six track EP for free here.
Death Grips have stepped out of the shadows again and brought with them their new release “niggas on the moon,” which is technically side A of a double album is titled The Powers That B. This release is the first half of a double album and contains only 8 tracks at the moment. At this point in Death Grips’ career you’re probably familiar with their shtick and know what to expect when it comes to their releases. The Sacramento-based experimental hip-hop creates music that mixes elements of hip hop and electronica in a way that results in violent and sometimes frightening music that pushes the limits of the genre. This time around Death Grips don’t disappoint, delivering their signature alternative hip-hop style. Death Grips have come back with a refreshing release that is a satisfying agglomeration of the past years of their work.
The Black Keys’ Turn Blue sounds like a collaboration between Pink Floyd, Broken Bells, Warren Haynes and Gary Clark Jr. The record is smooth yet punchy, with soul and disco dueling through its 11 songs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like The Black Keys we’ve come to love. It’s been four years since their Big Come Up via Brothers and it seems like Bryan Burton, aka Danger Mouse (of Broken Bells) has grown to become the third Black Key. Much has changed in the two years since El Camino, ; not only does the band sound different, but lead Dan Auerbach has gone through a difficult divorce, leading the album to take a more somber tone.