U2 Surprise Album “Songs of Innocence”

U2 - Photo: Paolo Pellegrin.  PUBLICITY 2014

U2 – Photo: Paolo Pellegrin. PUBLICITY 2014

 

U2 invades your iTunes, get the eviction notice ready

 They release new album for free in iTunes

You may or may not like U2 or its frontman, but no other rock band does rebirth like U2.  No other band – certainly of U2’s duration, commercial success and creative achievement – believes it needs rebirth more and so often. But even by the standards of transformation on 1987’s The Joshua Tree and 1991’s Achtung! Baby, Songs of Innocence – U2’s first studio album in five years – is a triumph of dynamic, focused renaissance: 11 tracks of straightforward rapture about the life-saving joys of music, drawing on U2’s long palette of influences and investigations of post-punk rock, industrial electronics and contemporary dance music. “You and I are rock & roll,” Bono shouts in “Volcano,” a song about imminent eruption, through a propulsive delirium of throaty, striding bass, alien-choral effects and the Edge’s rusted-treble jolts of Gang of Four-vintage guitar. Bono also sings this, earlier in a darker, more challenging tone: “Do you live here or is this a vacation?” For U2, rock & roll was always a life’s work – and the work is never done.

Songs of Innocence is aptly named, after William Blake’s 1789 collection of poems about man’s perpetually great age of discovery – childhood. For the first time, after decades of looking abroad for inspiration – to American frontier spirituality, Euro-dance-party irony and historic figures of protest such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela – Bono, the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. have taken the long way ’round to metamorphosis: turning back andinward, for the first time on a whole record, to their lives and learning as boys on the way to uncertain manhood (and their band) in Dublin.

Bono’s lyrics are striking in their specific, personal history. In “Cedarwood Road,” named after a street where he lived, the singer remembers the fear and unrequited anger that drove him to music andto be heard – and which won’t go away. “I’m still standing on that street/Still need an enemy,” he admits against Clayton and Mullen’s strident, brooding rhythm and the enraged stutter of the Edge’s guitar. “Raised by Wolves” isa tension of metronome-like groove and real-life carnage (“There’s a man in a pool of misery . . . a red sea covers the ground”) based on a series of car bombs that bloodied Dublin one night in the Seventies.

In “Iris (Hold Me Close),” Bono sings to his mother, who died when he was 14, through a tangle of fondness and still-desperate yearning, in outbreaks of dreamy neo-operatic ascension over a creamy sea of keyboards and Clayton’s dignified-disco bass figure. “You took me by the hand/I thought I was leading you,” Bono recalls in a kind of embarrassed bliss. “But it was you who made me your man/Machine,” he adds – a playful shotgun reference to his youthful poetic conceit in Boy‘s “Twilight” (“In the shadows boy meets man”) and his wife Ali. The teenage Bono once gave her Kraftwerk’s The Man-Machine as a gift while they were dating.
For U2 – and Bono in particular – the first step on the road out of Dublin was the sound of a voice, and they name it in the opening track, “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone).” U2 have always been open in their gratitude to New York punk and the Ramones in particular, and this homage to unlikely heroism – that kid you least expect to take on the world and win – is suitable honor: a great, chunky guitar riff and a beat like a T. Rex stomp, glazed with galactic-Ronettes vocal sugar. “I woke up,” Bono sings, “at the moment when the miracle occurred/Heard a song that made some sense out of the world.” U2 also pay due diligence to the Clash in “This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now,” dedicated to Joe Strummer, and there is a strong hint of the Beach Boys’ allure – their standing invitation to a utopia far from the Dublin grit and rain – in the Smile-style flair of the chanting harmonies in “California (There Is No End to Love).” “Blood orange sunset brings you to your knees,” Bono croons in an awed register. “I’ve seen for myself.”These are the oldest stories in rock & roll – adolescent restlessness; traumatic loss; the revelation of rescue hiding in a great chorus or power chord. But Songs of Innocence is the first time U2 have told their own tales so directly, with the strengths and expression they have accumulated as songwriters and record-makers. This album was famous, long before release, for its broken deadlines and the indecision suggested by its multiple producers: Brian Burton a/k/a Danger Mouse, Paul Epworth of Adele fame and Ryan Tedder of the pop band One Republic. Those credits are misleading. Burton, Epworth and Tedder all co-produced “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)” and contributed keyboards; that’s Epworth on the additional slide guitar in “Cedarwood Road”; and Burton arranged the chorale in “Volcano.” But the extra hands and textures are thoroughly embedded in the memoir. There is no time when the telling sounds like it was more than the work of the four who lived it.And it is a salvation, U2 believe, that keeps on giving. “Every breaking wave on the shore/Tells the next one that there will be one more,” Bono promises in the tidal sun-kissed electronica of “Every Breaking Wave.” And “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)” comes with a pledge to every stranded dreamer who now hears Rocket to Russia, Give ‘Em Enough Rope or someU2 for the first time and is somehow, permanently, changed. “We can hear you,” Bono swears. “Your voices will be heard.”Just find one of your own. Then shout as hard as you can.

Listen: GRMLN’s new song “White Lung//Black Lung”

GRMLN

GRMLN

 

When singer-songwriter Yoodoo Park, aka GRMLN, moved from Japan to Southern California a few years back, he immediately distilled his music with the region’s carefree dynamic and innately sunny vibes. The result was 2012’s Explore EP and last year’s Empire full-length, both of which were born out of a romantic approach to free-wheeling pop-punk. Now, after lengthy touring and a bit of personal reflection, Park finds himself exploring much darker waters on his sophomore album, Soon Away, due out September 16th via Carpark Records.

The 10-track effort was written in Japan and while Park was traveling stateside. During the latter, Park holed himself up in Different Fur Studios in San Francisco alongside Empire collaborators/producers Patrick Brown and Sean Paulson. He recruited friend and drummer Keith Frerichs and his brother/bassist Tae San Park to round out the recording lineup

According to a press release, the result is an “aggressive album, darker and heavier than what’s come before. While it carries these characteristics, there’s a certain peace to Soon Away, thanks to Park’s personal growth. The album grapples with letting go and getting used to good-byes. The singer-guitarist sees the constant changes of life allowing people to embrace the true nature of living. The teachings of Krishna were an inspiration to Park while writing the record and it’s a force that helped define Park’s perspective in these songs.”

Already Park has shared the driving lead single, “Jaded”; today, he unveils “White Lung//Black Lung”. Clocking in at five minutes in length, the track packs the immediacy and surging energy of early ’70s punk. Yet even as Park has renounced its poppy undertones for utter hopelessness, the song still vibrates with slight tinges of pop-punk optimism.

Listen in below.

 

Cold War Kids announce new album, Hold My Home, stream “First”

coldwarhomelp

 

Cold War Kids have announced details of their fifth studio album, Hold My Home, which will arrive October 21st via Downtown Records. It serves as the follow-up to 2013’s Dear Miss Lonelyhearts.

The 11-track album was produced by guitarist Dan Gallucci and frequent collaborator Lars Stalfors (Mars Volta, Matt and Kim) at the band’s personal studio in San Jose, California.

Already we’ve heard the stirring lead single, “All This Could Be Yours”. Now, to coincide with today’s announcement, the band has shared “First”. The track is grand and regaling, a sonically uplifting mix of jittery guitars, handclap rhythms, and dynamic vocal harmonies. Again, Cold War Kids aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel, but rather emphasizing their core strengths of solid, enjoyable guitar rock.

Listen in below:

 

Hold My Home Tracklist:
01. All This Could Be Yours
02. First
03. Hot Coals
04. Drive Desperate
05. Hotel Anywhere
06. Go Quietly
07. Nights & Weekends
08. Hold My Home
09. Flower Drum Song
10. Harold Bloom
11. Hear My Baby Call

The band has also shared the music video for “All This Could Be Yours”, a black-and-white clip of one woman’s journey around a big city. Watch it below.