of Montreal’s UR FUN album released today (1/17)

Today, of Montreal released their new album UR FUN via Polyvinyl Record Co. prior to release, they shared electro-pop protest song “Peace to All Freaks,” the pet-friendly video for “Polyanuerism” and the intimate, “You’ve Had Me Everywhere” giving us a taste for ten concise electro-pop songs to follow. It’s a collection that exposes the depths of Kevin Barnes’ current life, his private thoughts—both optimistic and brooding— and his passionate relationship with songwriter Christina Schnieder of Locate S,1.

The new love we heard about on the last of Montreal record, White is Relic/Irrealis Mood, is settling. If that was the falling-in-love record, then this is the staying-in-love record. That was the easy part; this is the interesting part, the challenging part, the next chapter of Kevin Barnes’ autobiographical album streak, UR FUN

The public diary that started with of Montreal’s classic album Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? has continued into a growing string of increasingly personal works. On UR FUN, Barnes is more candid than ever, presenting. This ramped-up vulnerability has inspired Barnes to strip his stage persona of costumes and drag, just appearing as himself on recent tours for the first time in many years.

After several albums recorded with collaborators and various band members, Barnes opted to record this one completely alone. In his home studio in Athens, Georgia, Barnes isolated himself in creative hibernation, working obsessive 12-plus hour days arranging manic synth and drum machine maps on a computer screen with bouncy, melodic basslines, glam guitars and layered vocal harmonies. Inspired by albums like Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual and Janet Jackson’s Control, Barnes set out to make UR FUN into the kind of album where every song could be a single, complete with huge hooky choruses and nostalgic dance grooves. The result is an unstoppably fun album that could also pass for a carefully sequenced greatest-hits collection if taken out of context.

Tour Dates 
02/27 – Athens, GA @ Georgia Theatre #
02/28 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel # 
02/29 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle #
03/01 – Richmond, VA @ Broadberry #
03/02 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club #
03/03 – Providence, RI @ Columbus Theatre #
03/04 – Boston, MA @ The Sinclair #
03/05 – Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere #
03/06 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer #
03/07 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre %
03/08 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom %
03/09 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme %
03/10 – Madison, WI @ The Majestic Theatre %
03/11 – Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line %
03/12 – Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge %
03/13 – Cincinnati, OH @ The Woodward Theater %
03/14 – Nashville, TN @ Little Harpeth %
03/26 – Memphis, TN @ The Hi Tone $
03/27 – St. Louis, MO @ The Ready Room $
03/28 – Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room $
03/29 – Englewood, CO @ The Gothic $
03/30 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge $
03/31 – Missoula, MT @ Top Hat $
04/01 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos $
04/02 – Eugene, OR @ WOW Hall $
04/03 – Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s $
04/04 – Berkeley, CA @ UC Theatre $
04/05 – Los Angeles, CA @ Regent Theatre $
04/06 – Tucson, AZ @ 191 Toole $
04/07 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent $
04/08 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sister $
04/10 – Dallas, TX @ Trees $
04/11 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk $
04/12 – New Orleans, LA @ Howlin’ Wolf $

# w/ Lily’s Band
% w/ Lily and Horn Horse
$ w/ Locate S,1

of Montreal Links:
Website

Altuz “Bitchin'” and “Altuz Baby”

Altuz Baby! showcases a backing beat and rap flow that are immediately at 100. A piano line tracing back to 1970s rock is married to a bold and confident flow that refreshes the 1990s NYC scene like no other. The high-water mark of Altuz Baby! hits right before the end, as the rapper effortlessly lays down some of the most complex lyrics we’ve heard.

Bitchin’ has a tremendous backing beat that allows Altuz’s flow to pop. The song is able to call back to the late–1990s with bits of Uncle Kracker and Nappy Roots. Altuz’s vocals call back to performers like Everlast and Puff Daddy here. Bitchin’ pops brightly in an era of mumble rappers, perfectly polished and ready for heavy rotation.

Altuz “Bitchin'” and “Altuz Baby” / Domain /

Nuke The Soup “Feed The Fire”

Nuke The Soup have just cut their Feed The Fire. This sizzling track defies all genre conventions. This means there are nods to reggae, funk, soul, and progressive music. Easy-going on its surface, there’s no denying that Nuke The Soup can create some heady instrumentation here. The track moves into Police-level of intricacy between the drums, bass, and guitar lines. Vocals drip with charisma here while a sizzling horn line and impassioned drums set listeners off into one of the most jam-packed minutes of music that we’ve ever heard laid down. We’re excited to hear more from Nuke the Soup in 2020.

Nuke The Soup “Feed The Fire” / Domain /

Snypa “That’s It”

That’s It has Snypa coming forth hard as head. With nods to Migos and Lil Wayne in his vocal flow, Snypa is given a further boost through a booming backing beat that is part trap, part Hypnotize Minds. A distorted, echoing drum beat cuts through the silence between Snypa’s bars, adding a hint of urgency to the composition. Wrapping up things with a nice bow at the 2:30 mark, Snypa makes a huge splash with his latest single. Straightforward, this wrecking ball destroys current rap and sets Snypa up at a lead position for what is to follow.

Snypa “That’s It” / Twitter /

Habitz “Cadillac Dippin”

Habitz goes back to the mid-1990s with his latest effort, Cadillac Dippin. With luxurious synths representing the backdrop, the soulful vox that issue forth shortly after delve into the funk of Zapp & Roger. Including Knitwit and Trazel into the mix, Habitz are able to refresh the style of a Too $hort or an E-40. The duo are able to approach their flows in a distinctly different fashion, ensuring that Cadillac Dippin stays as fresh three minutes in as it was when the effort started. The bouncy beat and deft flows encountered here make Cadillac Dippin a must-listen single for Q1 2020. Check out the video and let us know what you think.

Habitz “Cadillac Dippin” / Twitter /

bree “Broken”

Broken is a fun pop-rock track that marries confident vocals with straight-foward guitars and splashy drums. The back and forth between the insistent vox of bree and the sizzling guitar riffs that follow immediately afterward calls back to performers like Kelly Clarkson and Bif Naked. Broken takes a strong turn at the two-minute mark to allow the guitar, bass, and drum to craft one seriously heavy instrumental interlude. Bree’s latest track will easily find its way into fans’ brains and onto college rock and pop stations this winter / spring.

We took a deep dive into BREE’s Damn, I’m Being Me Again back at the end of November.

bree “Broken” Domain /

Broke Royals “Love & Tatters”

Love & Tatters look back to the synth-popo of the mid-1980s for inspiration during their new single, Love & Tatters. The alluring vocals, synth sequences, and hard-hitting choruses ensure that this track will have legs for days. The band reaches a higher plateau with a multi-part vocal harmony. Touching upon Walk The Moon and Dave Grohl’s vocal stylings, Broke Royals are able to bring fans in while crafting their own unique approach. Love & Tatters’s synth/drum interaction (most noticeable at the 2:35 mark) provides a nice change-up that amps up the momentum until the band closes up shop.

We’ve covered the Broke Royals a few times previously; take a look at our Saint Luxury,  HigherBad Chemicals, and Christmas Cookie Blues pieces to see our previous impressions.

Broke Royals “Love & Tatters” / Domain /

Raven Salve’ – CoCo Brown (Remix)

Raven Salve’s CoCo Brown is a sultry, slow R&B track that immediately showcases Salve’s vocals like no other. Raven is able to pull double duty during this track as she’s able to weave a cogent story alongside building up the fat beats and Childish Gambino-esque guitar lines playing in the background. The effort is timeless in its execution, drawing from the late 1990s and early oughts rhythmic style just as it broaches current and contemporary approaches. Tattooing the titular phrase throughout this cut, Salve’ ensures that fans will be singing along long after the song ceases to play.

Raven Salve’ – CoCo Brown (Remix) / Facebook /

Marquee Grand – Self-Titled EP

Lost Cause is a taut track that provides Buffalo band Marquee Grand with a good amount of positive vibes as the band begins their new extended play. The track builds upon the framework of The All-American Rejects and Yellowcard, marrying charismatic vocals with intense bass line and jangly guitar work. The song even touches upon The Killers and Goo Goo Dolls, easily ensuring that it could garner playlist and radio rotation play.

Take Me Around has a wonderful one-two between the vocals and the sizzling guitar work. During the instrumental stretches, the guitars and drums are able to play off of one another – a punctual percussion immediately follows serious guitar chops. With each side of Marquee Grand able to stretch their creative wings, what results with Take Me Around is nothing less than great. We covered Marquee Grand’s Maybe back in December, but it represents a vital crux to this eponymous EP that ensures the release’s momentum is high as fans move into Impala and Sex.

Impala slows the tempo of this album down considerably. It’s a vital song for fans to delve into as it showcases the more emotional side of the act. One will be able to recall their own experiences with love during this cut. Where the track itself is nearly four minutes long, the laid-back style of Marquee Grand here makes the composition go down extraordinarily easily.

Sex is the band’s coda to this EP. Rather than resting on their laurels, Marquee Grand are able to pack in some of the headiest instrumental licks and bright compositions. Ending things with as much vibrancy as things began, the act is able to put an emphatic exclamation on this disc.


Top Tracks: Take Me Around, Lost Cause

Rating: 8.6/10

Marquee Grand – Marquee Grand / 2020 Self Released / 5 Tracks / Facebook / Domain / Twitter /

Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions Release Deluxe Version of Limbo 1/31

For a period of time in the early-to-mid ’80s, Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions were one of the hippest bands in the Los Angeles. So hip that members of such acclaimed L.A. bands as X, Los Lobos, the Gun Club, The Plimsouls and The Blasters lent their talents to their recordings and live shows. So hip that the brilliance of Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions was largely unknown apart from Los Angeles scenesters.

That could change with the two-CD deluxe reissue of Limbo, the band’s long out-of-print debut full-length album, out January 31 on Manifesto Records.This remastered two-CD set also includes the band’s debut EP, West Hollywood Freeze-Out, as well as a second CD of rarities, demos, live tracks and the rare 1986 self-released single “Only Lovers Left Alive.”As Phast Phreddie (real name Fred Patterson) humbly puts it in the liner notes, Phast Preddie & Thee Precisions lasted a mere six years (from 1979-1985) and they may be “a footnote of a footnote in the history of rock ‘n’ roll,” but the band was ahead its time. Long before the Squirrel Nut Zippers scored an unlikely hit with “Hell” in 1997, Thee Precisions brought jump blues to a new generation. The band also gave sax-man extraordinaire Steve Berlin his first notable platform, long before he joined The Blasters, and later Los Lobos, and was featured on an R.E.M. song.

Phast Phreddie was initially known for his written words in his self-published fanzine Back Door Man from ’75-’78 and also wrote for L.A. punk journal Slash, before it became the influential record label.Initially, Phast Phreddie put together thee Precisions with his pal Jeffrey Lee Pierce (though he soon left to front the Gun Club), Berlin, fellow scribe and bassist Don Snowden from the Los Angeles Times, drummer Chris Bailey and guitarist Harlan Hollander. That lineup soon landed gigs opening for The Blasters, The Plimsouls, Levi & the Rockats and others.The live gigs led to an invitation from Dan and David Kessel to record an album for Martian Records. Recorded live to two-track in September 1981, West Hollywood Freeze-Out featured some of the band’s jump blues covers as well as an original, plus a mind-blowing cover of the James Brown ballad “Goodbye My Love.” Blasters guitarist Dave Alvin and pianist Gene Taylor joined the party on “Sloppy Drunk.”On Limbo, aside from the core lineup, the album also features a who’s-who of L.A. musicians, including Taylor on “Oooh Wow,” X drummer D.J. Bonebrake on vibes on the original “Sweet Gin,” and Plimsouls man main Peter Case on acoustic guitar on “Out in the Cold Again.” Long Ryders frontman Sid Griffin turns up on “In Walked Bud” and one of the several other takes of “Sweet Gin” features old pal Jeffrey Lee Piece back on board.

The second disc features rare live tracks (including a smoking cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Stone Free” reimagined as an Otis Redding track) — recorded at such legendary L.A. hot spots as the Whisky-a-Go-Go and Club Lingerie — as well as various demos and rarities.The package also includes scream-of-consciousness testimony by the late, great Don Waller, to whom this reissue is dedicated.Though you may have missed them in their prime, it’s not too late to get hip to Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions. Pick up a copy of Limbo, belly up to the bar, pour yourself a shot and get down with your bad self, baby!Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions will be doing a reunion show on February 1st at Joe’s Great American Bar & Grill in Burbank, California. This will be the first time they have played together in over 34 years!