“Hundreds of Ways” is the first single from “Upside Down Mountain,” and it’s a bright, strummy song about being happy after tough times. It features vocals from the Swedish sisters in First Aid Kit, and they apparently join Oberst on most of the album.
According to Rolling Stone, most of the songs are about settling down and finding peace after turmoil. (Oberst is married, so no surprise there.)
“Upside Down Mountain” will be Oberst’s first major label album. Nonesuch is a subsidiary of Warner Bros. His previous albums have been released on Saddle Creek Records and Merge Records.
For Record Store Day,” Oberst will release a 7″ single with “Hundreds of Ways” and album outtake “Fast Friends.” Record Store Day is on April 19.
Tickets to Oberst’s Omaha performance go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. via onepercentproductions.com. Folk rock band Dawes will open the show and serve as Oberst’s backing band throughout the tour. (No Mystic Valley Band to be found.)
Listen to Oberst’s new song, “Hundreds of Ways,” below. Full tour schedule is after the jump.
Broken Bells, ‘After the Disco’ (Columbia) Available now Rating: ★★★ (out of four)
James Mercer’s best quality as a songwriter is that he knows how to write a great pop song. With his indie rock band, The Shins, those songs are masked in shimmering guitar and folk rock sounds.
With Broken Bells, you get much of the same, but with incredibly lush productino courtesy of Mercer’s collaborator, producer Danger Mouse (real name Brian Burton).
Unfortunately, the band’s first album focused a little too much on the production and we ended up with an album that was enjoyable, but a little too spaced out. Broken Bells knew it wanted to do something, but it didn’t know what exactly.
This time around, Burton and Mercer again take on almost all of the instrumentation. And they do it in a much more cohesive manner, creating a solid base for Mercer’s desperate and lonely lyrics instead of overshadowing them with disparate space-rock arrangements.
“After the Disco” includes a host of horns (including an appearance by Bright Eyes’ Nate Walcott) on songs such as “No Matter What You’re Told” and strings on half the album — the best being the slow-moving “Lazy Wonderland.”
Amid all the lushness “The Angel and the Fool” stands out for its sparsely picked guitar melody, light synth sounds and slowly ebbing strings.
It’s songs such as “Medicine” that really capture the feel of the album: A song swelling like a rising tide that really magnifies Mercer’s lyrics about being alone and getting hurt.
A brand new single, “Five of Everything,” dropped from the Omaha natives in 311.
Coming off of the band’s upcoming album, “Stereolithic,” the new tune is a lot of what you’d expect from the group: Guitar melodies intermingled with heavy, crunchy guitar and a rhythm that keeps things moving. Add in a little mix of sung lyrics (from Nick Hexum) and rapped words (from S.A. Martinez), and you’ve got it.
“Five of Everything” doesn’t break new ground, but it will be a big hit with the rather large and intense 311 fanbase.
“Stereolithic” will be released March 11 (3-11 Day!) on the band’s own independent label, 311 Records. You can pre-order the album via PledgeMusic and iTunes.
The new album was recorded with producer Scott Ralston, who helped the band make some of their best work including “Music” (1993), “311″ (1995), “Transistor” (1997) and “Soundsystem” (1999).
Bruno Mars performs during the halftime show of the Super Bowl (Photo by The Associated Press)
Bruno Mars‘ halftime performance was, in short, great.
Two things stood out: 1) It was fun, and that’s the whole point of of the halftime show. 2) Mars can really perform, and that was a bit of a surprise for me.
Mars kicked off the thing with an overlong drum solo, but drum solos are one thing people generally love and it was the first peek into his talent.
(Also, is the pompadour back? I think the pompadour is back.)
Mars strung together hits such as “Locked Out of Heaven” and “Just the Way You Are” with songs such as “Treasure” while he and his Motown-styled band danced around onstage.
Just when things were getting really fun, the mostly-shirtless Red Hot Chili Peppers jumped onstage to rock the band’s old hit, “Give It Away.” It injected some more rock/funk energy into the already-entertaining show as well as a bit of nostalgia. The only thing lacking was the transition from the band’s noise jam back to Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” ballad.
Flea and Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform at halftime of the Super Bowl. (Photo by The Associated Press)
It was nice to see a halftime performer actually perform during the show. Mars was singing his heart out (and actually singing, not lip-syncing) and dancing like a pro. (That said, was his band a bunch of dancers holding instruments or performers that can dance? They were almost too good.) He sealed it with his fast footwork during “Runaway Baby” and you have the complete package.
I’m now really excited to see Mars on his upcoming tour. I’m guessing he’ll kill it.
Add in the crazy lights, all those fireworks and the singalong nature of Mars’ best pop tunes and you end up with one of the best halftime performances ever.
My favorite song from Mars was the aformentioned “Runaway Baby,” which is the kind of rocking tune that really lets him show off his range (he’s not just a hook-slinging hired gun for people’s pop songs).
Conor Oberst performs at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, R.I. (Photo by the Associated Press)
Conor Oberst is in a Nashville studio right now making a solo album.
Rolling Stone sat down with the Bright Eyes frontman over sausage pizza in a Nashville bar for an interview about the album and a whole lot of other stuff.
There are several tidbits in there that Bright Eyes/Oberst fans will be interested in:
• Oberst officially revealed that he’s married, something that quite a few people knew but few ever really talked about (especially Oberst). It’s something I’ve known for a long time, but never felt the need to publicize. Dude’s personal life is his personal life. ”She’s a reason to go home,” he told the magazine.
• Jonathan Wilson is producing Oberst’s solo album , which has a country flavor. It’s an interesting producer choice, and it probably goes well with the style he’s trying to achieve. Wilson has recently produced albums by Father John Misty, Dawes, Jason Boesel and others.
• Oberst spent six months writing a screenplay about Monsters of Folk. The project fizzled.
• Oberst hates social media. (No surprise there. His official accounts hardly ever post anything.) “I don’t know if it makes me an asshole to not want to talk to my fans. But I’m not going to sit on a … computer and try to talk to some … 16-year-old in wherever-the-(f-bomb),” he told the magazine. “I try to remind myself to be grateful. I’m not a …superstar. I’m not a bazillionaire. I get to do my (stuff), and for the most part people leave me alone. And that’s the way I want it.”
The Grammy Awards are always a big event – so big that they’re dubbed “music’s biggest night.”
Overall, I thought it was a pretty solid telecast that would have been made even better with a better thought process regarding the flow of the show. Too much effort was put into mashing together popular artists and not enough thought was put into how that show would actually flow together. It was really disjointed, but the telecast still ended up churning out some memorable moments.
After watching the 56th annual Grammy Awards (and reviewing some post-game tape), I found a lot of things to love and quite a bit to forget every happened.
Pink is a real force. Her high-flying act is pretty impressive, and her song with Nate Ruess is incredibly catchy. Aspiring pop star should pay attention.
Ringo and Paul didn’t play any Beatles songs, but I couldn’t help but smile when Ringo played “Photograph” with his band and the two played a new McCartney composition together.
Willie, Merle and Kris had a great time onstage as a half-resurrection of the Highwaymen (without, of course, the late Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings). Why they added in Blake Shelton, I don’t know, but I was happy they played a medley of “Highwayman,” ”Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee.”
Kacey Musgraves beat Taylor Swift for country album of the year. A win for Musgraves and her country-but-ignoring-the-usual-country-tropes was much-deserved and quite a surprise. Swift didn’t look too happy.
Photo by The Associated Press
Daft Punk won a lot of awards and they were cooler than cool in their silence (and those white suits and helmets).
Sara Bareilles and Carole King teamed up to sing Bareilles’ “Brave” and you could tell that she was absolutely beaming to share the stage with King. Sadly, a lot of kids tweeted that they had no idea who she was. Get educated, kids!
Billie Joe Armstrong and Miranda Lambert’s tribute to Phil Everly was pretty simple, but pretty perfect. Armstrong’s vocals held up surprisingly well next to Lambert’s powerful voice.
I think Jamie Foxx thought he was being funny and chummy with Jay Z, but he was just kind a creepy during his brief time onstage. He began with a bad British accent, then made a comment on how good Beyonce looked and it actually go worse from there. Stick to the teleprompter, Jamie.
Who produced the show last night? It felt like someone was asleep at the control panel (possibly by their own doing). The telecast started with a slew of slow performances that put people to sleep. “Boring” was a word I heard a lot. They should have stacked the front end with a few high-energy collaborations to get us interested. I wonder how many viewers dropped out after the first 15 minutes. And then who decided to put a short Lou Reed tribute next to a Metallica performance? Or Kacey Musgraves back-to-back with Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons? Good performances, awful transitions.
Speaking of production, it was a bad idea to show YouTube cover versions of pop songs instead of the actual songs themselves during the awards announcements. Isn’t the point of a music awards show to hear the music? Seemed like a stab at seeming hip, but it failed. Big time.
I was really excited to see Robin Thicke play with Chicago. It sounded like a great match, but it just didn’t turn out very well.
That Super Bowl halftime show commercial with Ditka was just plain terrible. I know part of the Deion Sanders/Terry Bradshaw thing is that they’re goofballs, but that commercial was completely weird. I don’t think it accomplished what they were going for.
Photo by The Associated Press
Whatever it was that Madonna was wearing.
Photo by The Associated Press
Cutting off Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Lyndsie Buckingham and Dave Grohl was a pretty bad move. It’s not the first time they’ve done so, but the telecast ended with a pretty sweet rock performance from NIN, Queens and their pals. Then was cut short with sponsorship messages and credits and then, shortly before the song was over, they simply cut it off. It’s pretty disrespectful to ask someone to play for you and then do that to them. NIN’s Trent Reznor was pretty upset about it. After the show, he tweeted, “Music’s biggest night… to be disrespected. A heartfelt (expletive) YOU guys.”
The Grammys loved telling us how rare, historical, powerful and intimate various parts of the show would be. They loved to tell us how awesome the Grammys were when we were already watching the show. Please, Grammys, just concentrate on putting on a good show and stop telling us how good it is. We get it.
The sound was pretty bad. I bet the performances sounded fine inside the Staples Center, but it didn’t translate that well to the TV broadcast. Metallica and classical pianist Lang Lang’s performance of “One” would have been awesome if it sounded better.
Of the 20 categories that I predicted, I correctly chose 11 winners. Of the top four categories (album, song, record and new artist), I got three out of four.
Overall, I did better than my usual .500 batting average, which is pretty solid. So, where did I go wrong?
I continue to be vexed by the country awards. Every year, I do the worst there.
I also thought that the hard core hip-hop folks among the Recording Academy voters would outweigh those who would vote for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. I was (mostly) wrong there.
Though I thought Lorde was very deserving, I thought that her absence from the nominations for best new artist meant that Grammy voters wouldn’t care for her enough to give her any awards. I was wrong.
“Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake — Timberlake’s tune is a piece of perfection: A little prog rock mixed with a very layered pop song. Plus Timberlake’s vocals on the refrain are gorgeous.
“Royals” by Lorde — You couldn’t escape this tune, and for good reason. Lorde’s song is about not caring about all the fancy stuff, and the effortless vocal reflects the same “I couldn’t care” vibe.
“Get Lucky” by Daft Punk — Disco and R&B nostalgia looms large in this tune, which is great for a chill night or for a dance party.
“Just Give Me a Reason” by Pink and Nate Ruess — The melody and the vocals work so well on this song that I can’t get it out of my head. It just plays over and over up there.
“Always Alright” by Alabama Shakes — Brittany Howard kills it with this song. Fantastic bluesy stuff.
“F**kin’ Problems” by A$AP Rocky, Drake, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar — The best rap collaboration that’s been out. It’s an incredibly catchy song even if I don’t agree with the sentiment.
“I Want Crazy” by Hunter Hayes — This one’s nominated for “best country performance” and it’s an incredibly fun, catchy tune. A song from a more established artist will probably win, and that’s unfortunate because Hayes’ tune is super-fun.
“The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” by David Bowie — Welcome back, Mr. Bowie. You did a great job. Again.
“Cut Me Some Slack” by Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear — No surprise, but these four dudes absolutely rocked when they got in a room together. Love that McCartney took part in something so heavy.
“Diane Young” by Vampire Weekend — Baby, baby, baby, baby, I love this song.
“Holy Grail” by Jay Z and Justin Timberlake — I think it’s the best rap song from the last year and Timberlake’s hook is a smash. I expect it to win both “best rap-sung collab” and “best rap song.”
“Swimming Pools (Drank)” by Kendrick Lamar — Lamar’s atypical hip-hop was so huge you saw big stars follow in his footsteps. This is the best of his efforts.
“Highway Don’t Care” by Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban — You really can’t beat this collaboration, which includes three of the biggest names in country. Wow.
“I Drive Your Truck” by Lee Brice — Brice’s song is absolutely wrenching. Best-written country song around.
“Merry Go ‘Round” by Kacey Musgraves — Musgraves is a true talent, and this song’s message about messed up families is one of her best.
Defy Grav is a local production team that puts on EDM-focused events, which have become pretty pretty popular.
They’re so popular that Defy Grav is launching a record label along with Make Believe Studios and Andy Garlock, who local folks might know from hosting The Freak Factory radio show on 89.7 The River.
“Working with these talented and motivated people over the past few weeks has been incredible and I can’t wait to see what the future may hold,” said Garlock, who also makes music by Buzz Junior and as part of the trio Buckhunter.
Defy Music’s first release – a compilation from six local electronic artists - is coming on Saturday. The multi-level “Silly Wonderland” party happening at Sokol Auditorium and Underground will act as the release show. It will be available on iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, Google Play “and pretty much anywhere else.”
With Defy Music acting as a way to organize and promote local electronic artists, it could signal a surge of EDM producers and DJs moving onto bigger and better things like a highway from local exposure to national exposure. A label could be just what our scene needs.
“Our mission is to unite the talent of Omaha and other areas through unique projects and collaborations,” the label states on its Facebook page. “(We’re) here and ready to shake up the music scene.”
Updated: It’s a very, very fine distinction, but this post was changed to reflect that Defy Grav is an event production team that includes musicians, DJs and non-DJs.
Above, Eric Church performed at All My Friends: Celebrating The Songs and Voice of Gregg Allman in Atlanta. On Friday, Church opened for George Strait with an hour-long solo set. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Eric Church played what is likely the first opening gig he’s done in awhile, but he did so for a legend.
George Strait brought the “Springsteen” singer on tour for the weekend including a Friday date in Omaha where Church took the stage without his backing band to play an hour-long set all by himself.
In it, he played 14 songs, showed off two nearly brand new tracks and showed why he’s a performer than anyone can and should admire.
Church is of the breed of country singers that like to mix bad boy rock stuff with your traditional country tunes, hence songs such as “Smoke a Little Smoke” and “Drink in My Hand” (as well as some songs not about imbibing). Or put another way: He’s a country singer in a tight T-shirt and a ballcap, not mother of pearl and a 10-gallon hat.
But that’s part of why he’s awesome. He’s a country singer not afraid to be a rock ‘n’ roller when he has to be nor is he afraid of singing about Jesus.
Enter Friday’s performance where Church walked onstage with close-cut hair, a pair of Ray Ban aviators, a silver chain and a tight black T-shirt. He quickly strummed the intro to “Drink In My Hand” and fans began filling in the words as he continued into the song.
“As you can tell, I’ve always wanted to do this,” he said.
Later, Strait even paid Church compliments for doing his set solo.
“That’s pretty cool, comin’ up here like that,” Strait said.
Other country artists who rely on a wall of sound may fold with nothing and no one backing them, but Church (and his songs) absolutely shined.
His head-on attitude, his voice and his guitar skills carried him through the set. He stomped out the beat and played the swampy riff of “Outsiders” on an electric guitar and he later played a bluesy version of “Country Boy Can Survive.”
Songs such as “Jack Daniels” and “Smoke a Little Smoke” make me think that Church could cross over to rock if he felt like it. (I, for one, would buy a straight rock record by him.)
A pair of songs from his new album – “A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young” and “Dark Side” – were shown off for fans that likely haven’t heard them before. (Friday’s performance was one of the first several times he’s played the tunes, which will be released on “The Outsiders” come Feb. 11.)
“A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young” was about a 36-year-old finding his first grey hairs, Church said from the stage, but it also dealt with a man who thought he would die young but was coming to terms with getting older and not being a young punk any more. In the end, the song concludes “I’m gonna stick around and live forever.”
“Dark Side” was about moving past all the bad stuff someone has done, and how Church “got a wife and got a son and they don’t know half the stuff I’ve done.” The concluding (and haunting) last line was about how if anyone ever messed with his boy, that dark side would come right back.
He also played his latest singles, “The Outsiders” and ”Give Me Back My Hometown.”
Church closed out the set with “Springsteen,” of course, and fans flipped out for it. I loved that he dropped in a few lines of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” to the end of the tune, but he had fun the whole night weaving melodies and lines from different songs together. Church is talented enough to do it on the fly, and he did so several times.
“I have enjoyed the hell out of this,” said Church, who acknowledged how much he liked Omaha and how he recorded the video for “Drink in My Hand” in Council Bluffs. “Thank you, Omaha. I appreciate you letting me do this.”
Friday’s performance from Church made me think he should do an acoustic record or at least a live tour or album where he ditches the band and plays some smaller venues. He’d kill.
“Drink In My Hand”
“Give Me Back My Hometown”
“Like Jesus Does”
“Guys Like Me”
“Over When It’s Over”
“A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young”
“Jack Daniels” (medley with “Livin’ Part of Life”)
“Country Boy Can Survive” (medley with “Homeboy”)
“Smoke a Little Smoke”
“Springsteen” (medley with Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire”)