Category: new music



Unless you are totally off the grid you’ve probably heard about Apple’s announcement regarding the latest piece of technology that they are releasing in the coming months and that you are supposed to buy. Yes, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be released soon, AND the latest in wearable technology, the Apple Watch will also be here next year. Two fantastic opportunities to further sever true human interaction (kind of a cynical statement but think about it).

Now, I’m not one of those blowhard Apple haters who shares hilarious memes on Facebook about Apple finally catching up to Samsung. I don’t care about that. I’ve been an iPhone user since the first one hit the shelves back in ‘07, but like probably a lot of other people, I JUST got an iPhone 5S recently, and low and behold, my technology is now outdated. But, I don’t really care about that part either. I’m here to talk about another part of that announcement- the release of a piece of music that coincided with the announcement of these new Apple products. I guess you could say, the release of a product to help announce the release of another product. I’m talking about that U2 album.

u2 from the 90s

A bajillion dollar company teamed up with a bajillion dollar mega-star band sharing their music in order to make that bajillion dollar company seem hip and cool. U2 shocked the world by releasing their album via cloud technology to iTunes, iTunes Radio, and Beats users for, get this, FREE. Everyday internet users around the world scour the web for opportunities to get free music. In an unparalleled, totally original move, U2 gave their album away for free to Apple, a company that other artists and bands have been struggling with regarding receiving the money they deserve for their album sales. Then, Apple turned around and gave U2’s album to all of their customers for free. That’s only part of it though. Music is a form of art and artistic expression. Art can be sold or can be given away, and it’s up to the recipient to truly determine the worth and value of the art, we all know that. But, I have questions about the integrity and authenticity of this band, and whether they are still attempting to create art or are they just attempting to grow their brand and popularity by churning out product after product? It’s hard to figure that part out since they are already one of the most popular bands of all time. So my question is, why do this? What’s the gain?


For the past few days, I’ve been pondering if this move was ludicrous and slightly offensive to real music lovers or totally brilliant. I’m leaning towards the former part of that statement because I don’t think it’s cool to force your art, music, or even opinions on other people, particularly in such a creepy, Big Brother way, and I am not alone. The social media universe exploded with anger and frustration about U2 secretly sliding their piece of music into 500 million people’s iPhones, causing Apple to create a website with instructions on how to delete the album from your library. Here’s what I’m saying, people actually don’t want a FREE piece of music when forced on them.

Is U2 a bad band? I’m not a huge fan, but I don’t think so. Also, please forgive this statement but, like everyone with ears, I really dig their older stuff much more. Did I even listen to this album? Nope. This isn’t an album review, it’s a conversation-starting blog post. Did U2 need to do this? No, they did not. Did Apple need to do this? No, THEY did not.

But, like Bono put it in a recent quote to the media, “The blood, sweat and tears of some Irish guys are in your junk mail” and you got this music anyway. Too many times bands and artists partner with major corporations in giant marketing campaigns to force their music on people instead of letting us make up our own minds. Jay Z did it last year with Samsung, and now U2 has done it. Now, I don’t have any problem with bands making money and gaining exposure through commercial licensing. Honestly, if you talk to any up and coming band, they will tell you licensing is one of the very few ways to make money as a struggling musician these days because companies like Apple don’t want to pay fair amounts to bands and artists. But, when you’ve forced your music onto the masses the music becomes, not a piece of creative artwork, it becomes a product. And I don’t know about you, but free or not, I ain’t buyin’ it.


Album Review: Caleb Caudle – Paint Another Layer on My Heart

Caleb Caudle‘s “Paint Another Layer On My Heart” does what I believe to be Caleb‘s best quality as a songwriter; tells a story. Each track on this album vividly “paints” a picture of the meaning behind the songs and the lyrics leave little room for questions or second-guessing. The only thing this album really leaves room for is a place to insert your own life experiences and emotions and watch how every song can relate to each one of us; it’s amazing, sad, beautiful, and heart-breaking.

The 10-track, sophomore album from Caudle, has a glaring underlying theme that rattles true within the state of touring musicians today: The hardships of life on the road. Caudle doesn’t leave room for guessing. These songs are full of lyrics about missing your loved ones, not being home for the holidays and frankly, having to face your own demons and misery on your own, without anyone else to blame or make excuses. It’s not all puppies and rainbows, it’s real life music but somehow Caudle has figured out how to make it sound beautiful.

Caudle was able to corral some other great musicians within the “alt country family” to assist in the instrumentation and backing vocals on “Paint Another Layer on Heart”; Whit Wright of American Aquarium (pedal steel) and Lydia Loveless (vocals). Loveless wastes no time in making her presence known and solidifies her spot on the album with her harmonies on the very first track “How’d You Learn”. On the track “Another Night”, which is a personal favorite of mine, Wright’s pedal steel screams through the shadows while Caudle‘s bellows lines such as “I make up excuses, and I feel less useless, try not to scratch on the 8.” Woah. I’ll give you a second to let the goose bumps subside and your eyes to dry up… Although I had a really tough time choosing my favorite track on the album, it was between “Come on October” and “Trade All The Lights”, I had to go with the latter; it’s full of emotion, desire, want, despair and it also perfectly blends the backing vocals of Loveless and the sweet, soft riffs of Wright’s pedal steel with Caudle‘s descriptive lyrics to create a beautiful song that will remain one of my favorites of 2014.

Paint Another Layer on My Heart, which was released by This is American Music (T.I.A.M), is a great nod to the more classic country/singer-songwriters of our times. Caleb‘s Caudle approach of painting glowing pictures through each song, writing honest, real, relatable lyrics is refreshing and inspiring; I can’t recommend this album enough. Do yourself a favor; get the album, catch a live show (he tours like a man running from the law), and see why “Paint Another Layer On My Heart” has received a spot on my “best of 2014” list.

You can find the record on iTunes or at

It Came From MTV[‘s Video Channels]: VH1

A long while ago in god’s age of 2013, I did a brief review of MTV channels I watched. It was sort of enlightening to see what videos the premium video channels would play but it didn’t really answer what exactly MTV et al. were selling. (I was also really fucking wrong about HAIM. So wrong.) Obviously the main MTV channel couldn’t give a shit about music videos, which you already know. (They do run music videos in the very early morning, in case you needed to see Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” on a television channel at 5am.) That said, the channel they famously founded in the late 80s for the purpose of airing music videos while MTV expanded their content still runs videos at more reasonable times in the morning. This is the examination of VH1 + Music. (Oh god that music block name.)

Bleachers — “I Wanna Get Better”

I watched VH1 for about an hour plus and this video played three times. Someone must be putting some dough in VH1’s coffers. (It’s RCA.) Unfortunately, the most I learned about Bleachers, the less I felt the happy response I do have to this song. Pop songs about the struggle with depression should be a new norm. Pop songs are about idealized delusion anyway, so at least have an anthem for the post-Robin Williams set. The video directed by Lena Dunham doesn’t really present this all that well.

Nico & Vinz — “Am I Wrong”

so beaches
very sunlight
much african desert imagery

band was founded in norway


Stopwatch: Neon Trees – “Sleeping With A Friend”

To explain, Stopwatch is a regular segment VH1 does where a band performs 60 seconds of one of their songs. Now to Neon Trees, I fucking hated “Animal.” This is better. Maybe I won’t get told by the lead singer to go back to bed.


OneRepublic – “Love Runs Out”

Here’s the thing, OneRepublic is awful. But for some reason, their new songs at least figure out that a back beat is more fun than maudlin bullshit. This is still not good as the lead dude oversings like hell and ruins a good thing, basically. The video is nice green screen, I guess.


Charli XCX – “Boom Clap”

I have a massive crush on Charli XCX. This song is no good. So I could talk about Charli’s lovely hair, which is crazy good. Unf.


Pharrell feat. Miley Cyrus — “Come Get It Bae”

You remember how you watched the video for John Legend’s “You and I” and started weeping because it was a well done portrayal genuinely inclusive of all types of women? Well, this is if that video was just traditionally attractive women (and Miley Cyrus) were dancing for Pharrell. It’s like peppy dancing version of Exterminating Angels. Kind of gross. Oh, the song’s not terrible. Finally someone is figuring out limited Miley is generally pretty great.


American Authors — “Believer”

The indie pop movement in mainstream pop is so fucking tiring and actually makes me actively hate the artists that led us down this path. Every song is four shitty white guys with a song obsessed about a hook and nothing else. Which I guess is just integration with some of the more poppy of the independent set. This isn’t THAT much different than Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. but was Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. actually good? I’m starting to doubt that. Oh, the video? Looks like if Bridge to Terabithia was a piece of cowdung.


Meghan Trainor — “All About That Bass”

Look, this song is great and it’s cute as hell. It’s fantastic that we’re actually talking about weight in pop music and that Meghan Trainor could be a legitimate star. I also like that the song admits that skinny women have as much of a problem with body dysmorphia as others do. But here’s my question. What is the difference in bass and treble? Is it the rumble? The movement? What is bad about the treble? Most people hear the treble and like the treble. Still a good song, though.


Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne — “Rather Be”

I kind of hate appropriation of other cultures in music videos. It usually ends in an alarming fashion that doesn’t really help the party being appropriated. In this case, it is a British electronica group appropriating Japanese culture. And yet? This isn’t bad. The use of the Japanese here is in the context of a modern society. This reads a bit like Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” video in the basic theme of normal life being wrecked by dreams of a super house concert extravaganza. But unlike the “Wake Me Up” video, it doesn’t use conventionally attractive white people as “the ones suffering from normal life.” Song’s a little stronger, too.


Kongos – “Come With Me Now”

I heard this song through the most surprising of places: as the “theme song” to the WWE Extreme Rules pay-per-view event. You see, WWE takes a random song that seems like it would be popular and that I guess “fits” with the fictionalized violence the best. Sometimes they are way off, like when they choose any Kid Rock song past 2005. But apparently they were right on the money here as far as a song that became a hit on the pop charts and that they probably got at a good price at the time. Oh, you wanted to know about the song/video? It’s alright, I guess.


(Stopwatch: Chvrches — “The Mother We Share”)

Not quite as well polished as the video version I got super obsessed with for a short time last time we talked about videos.


Ed Sheeran – “Don’t”

Please explain Ed Sheeran. Is his appeal that he talks about shitty subjects with ridiculous singer-songwriter earnestness? Did we need another Jason Mraz when the current one’s trying to stay relevant? Either way, this song is a massive departure. For one thing, it sounds like a pop song circa 2002 and not an easy listening song circa 1991. And then Ed is sort of rap-singing? Ah fuck everything.


John Legend – “You & I”

This video makes me cry so much that I’m going to ignore the incorrect grammar in John’s song title. Also, he had this exchange about Ferguson, Missouri. You are all forgiven for “All of Me.” Because holy shit. Also LAVERNE FUCKING COX. And when everyone smiles, I lose it. You’re a good dude, John Legend. Stay in all of the lanes. We need you in pop music.


Kiesza — “Hideaway”

80s ballad with electronic trappings and an attractive redhead in suggestive suspenders. I mean, it’s pop music in 2014. So whatever. And this is her album cover. Apparently the label is just a New York independent. Not bad. I get the appeal.


Magic! — “Rude”

lol. nope. Never needed a Max Landis expy to suddenly go all Bob Marley with a rebel boyfriend song.


Colbie Caillat – “Try”

So the new trend is to do that John Legend video over and over again with diminishing returns. John Legend’s video is effective in that in as the video goes on, the images of womanhood fit incredibly with the message. And to Colbie’s credit, her song is simply about liking yourself as opposed to a nebulous narrator having to like you. But it’s Colbie Caillat so it doesn’t work the way it should. Colbie shows women taking off their makeup/extensions/et al. and the obvious realization is that these women are all still beautiful. This is strong. But I also kind of think it doesn’t hit home the message if we’re seeing an obviously attractive Colbie Caillat taking off her makeup to reveal a normal looking (but still conventionally attractive) lady. I mean, it’s a good effort and if the “dude singing about women” vibes throw you off of John Legend’s work, then this might be your speed.


Childish Gambino — “3005”

I like this song a good bit. I wish Donald Glover would not be obsessed with the rap career path and most of his songs feel like he is trying far too hard to shed his comedic image. But “3005” is an interesting effort. I will say that it is curious that a video that essentially ends with Donald Glover’s character’s (assumed) suicide to air so soon after the raw nerve of Robin Williams’ passing and I don’t really know if Donald Glover looking dead eyed is a thing we needed. But, you know, that’s the world, man.


summer time

Hello reader. Summer is in full swing and we here at truly hope you are throughly enjoying the blistering heat! We are bringing you another mixtape but this time its the ULTRA SUMMERTIME MIXTAPE with some summer jams to take you way back and some new jams to bring you back to today.

As always, our mixtape contributors Whit and Culture Czar have brought in some cool tracks to share and yours truly dug up and dusted off all kinds of classic songs of summer, from yesteryear, and sprinkled them throughout the mix to keep the summer vibes going.

Whit drops the newest one from Lil Wayne ft. Drake, a song from the highly buzzed about Parquet Courts record, and the two newest Spoon tracks or, in her words, “TWICE THE SPOON!”

Culture Czar had this to say about the more chilled out songs from Panda Bear, Tame Impala, Washed Out, Iron and Wine, and Starflyer 59 which he contributed to the mix: Most people think of summer jams as bouncy, party time music, but I’m more interested in that sunbleached part of the late afternoon where it’s hot and hazy and you can barely see for the setting sun and you just melt into the poolside furniture in a peaceful, blissed out daze as day gives way to night…”


Stay tuned next month when we bring you another mixtape! Enjoy the rest of your summer!



We are nearly half way through the year 2014 and it’s time to share my favorite albums of the year thus far. We’ve seen some pretty big releases this year and I have few I think you, my dear reader, should be spending some time with. I could mention a few more that I like but these are the five albums I’ve been spinning non-stop since they came out.

Enough with the so and so, here’s my favorite albums of the year so far.


salad days

In 2012, Mac Demarco burst onto the indie music scene with his brand of sleazy guitar pop music. He release two albums that year and played a very long tour that bled into the year 2013. On his latest release Salad Days, Mac didn’t stray too far from his core sound although he did add some shimmering synthesizers for an extra layer of texture. This album is easily my favorite of the year so far. There was a lot of anticipation leading up to this one and Mac delivered. I was able to see him and his band of fantastic musicians perform at The Goat Farm in Atlanta earlier this year, if you have a chance to catch Mac Demarco please do it. Not only is he a great songwriter and musician, he and the boys will blow your socks right off playing live rock and roll music.



In the modern era of music when bands go, what some people might consider, “too long” with out a release, the listener or general fan will grow impatient and sometimes seem to lose interest. It’s almost an unspoken rule that you have put out some sort of music (whether it be a new single, remix, b-side, or other) during the years between albums or people start asking “What happened to (insert band name)?” Real Estate released Atlas three years after there hit 2011 release Days, and for this fan, that was a perfect amount of time between recordings. The guys utilized Wilco Loft studio in Chicago to work on this record which may be their best album to date. Atlas picks up where Days left off but this record finds lead writer Martin Courtney tackling more current affairs rather then discussing the topic of nostalgia and old times. Real Estate is establishing themselves as one of the most important bands in modern music and this record is a perfect example of their staying power. Real Estate makes music good for any time of year. I heard Katy Goodman (La Sera, and formerly Vivan Girls) say recently, “It would be a wonderful music to listen to on almost any occasion…being at home, eating breakfast, or going to bed or driving in your car. Pretty much any situation will be better with this music playing”. So. True. (GOOD NEWS FOR BHAM RESIDENTS: Real Estate will be playing at Bottletree Cafe on 9/21! Get a ticket and vibe with me!)


lost in the dream

Americana is one of my least favorite genres of music. I’ve seen other writers and critics label The War on Drugs as a “modern Americana” band but I disagree wholeheartedly. Although their music has some dreamy elements and perhaps a more folksy approach, TWOD is a rock and roll band. Their latest album Lost in The Dream will be on several “end of year” lists this year and for good reason. This is just a great album all the way around. It’s a refreshing dip into the pool of new rock music. The production and instrumentation is near flawless and the lyrics are intentional and beautiful. “I’m a bit run down here at the moment,” from the song Eyes to the Wind, is one of my favorite lines from any song that I’ve heard this year. I’m just fully in love with this album. TWOD should absolutely be in the discussion with larger indie rock bands like The Arcade Fire and Wilco and after this release, I believe they will be.


everyday robots

Damon Albarn has had quite a journey as a musician and producer. You may know him from his work with Blur, Gorilllaz, and the under-appreciated The Good, The Bad, & The Queen. This year Damon released his very first solo album Everyday Robots. He’s currently playing the major festival circuit with his band “The Heavy Seas”. Lyrically the album might come across as the complaining of an older person who just doesn’t get modern life, but Damon’s calling us all out about our obsession with technology and our need to constantly stay connected. I had a conversation with a friend of mine about the theme of this album and we both came to the conclusion that Damon is calling us on our shit and he’s totally right to do it. He also approaches some more tender subject matter on his own struggle with addiction and fame. Musically, the album is structured almost like a folk record but uses various instruments like synthesizers, samples, and vocal modulation to give the whole thing more layers. The thing that got me so hooked on Everyday Robots is the time signatures and percussion. Reminds me a lot of The Good, The Bad, & The Queen in the best of ways. This record is a must have for the year.


palo alto

“Palo Alto” is the indie film version of a collection of short stories written by actor James Franco. The stories are loosely based around James’ own life growing up in suburban Southern California. The film is the directorial debut of Gia Coppola. If you recognize the last name it’s because she’s Sofia’s niece and Francis Ford’s granddaughter. The film itself is largely scored by Devonte Hynes (Blood Orange) but there are also some additional tracks by Gia’s cousin and Rooney frontman Robert Schwartzman. Gia’s other cousin Jason Schwartzman (Coconut Records and Max from Rushmore) also contributes a track. Although I’ve never actually seen this movie (shoutout to Birmingham’s lack of indie movie houses), I can really get an idea for the flow of the movie with this soundtrack and  the songs chosen feel like they are a perfect fit for the movie. The songs are angsty and modern but emotional. Even your boy Mac Demarco contributed his homage to smoking cigarettes, his song “Viceroy”, to the album, which is a song all angsty teenagers should relate to. Also, Devonte Hynes is probably the future genius songwriter/producer we need in the world of music right now so you should really pay attention.


Seagulls – “The Royal We” Album Review


Gravelly vocals, screaming choruses, loud fuzzy guitars, loads of energy and of course, melodies, all these things are what make punk rock great; Seagulls, out of Atlanta, can check yes to all those requirements with their latest EP: ‘The Royal We’ released thru Autumn + Color.

The Royal We’ consisting of 5 tracks, packs a punch right out of

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the gate and never looks back. It does what you expect a punk record to do; it comes at you hard and fast, track after track, leaving you in a cloud of chaos while searching for repeat so you can listen again. Their lead vocalist, Steve-Dave Johnson, almost has a “roar” to his voice when he sings the lyrics to their songs. Either Johnson is a damn good actor or he’s just plain real because his voice, these tracks, ooze passion,

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desire, and candor on a level that will make you respect the band regardless of if you’re fan of their style of music or not.

I was fortunate enough to catch a live show a few months back; take the energy and passion you hear on the album, mix in some whiskey and sweat, turn the volume knob to 11 and back up! The in-your-face delivery, the screaming, infectious, melodic lyrics accompanied with the pounding drums, lead bass and dual-guitar attack, will make even the dullest of people start tapping their feet; you just can’t help it! Oh, word of advice, be prepared for Billy Duncan to come at you like a FN tornado armed with a guitar during any song; hold your beers high. Go Grab this EP (it’s got a song called “Darryl Strawberry Fields Forever” for god’s sake), find a show, and go check these “Jabroni’s” out; you’ll be happy you did!

Track listing:


  1. The Implication
  2. Darryl Strawberry Fields Forever
  3. Close One
  4. F.F.M
  5. Santa’s Little Helper


(Similar to: Red City Radio and Nothington with hints of Off with Their Heads and I am the Avalanche)

No News Is Good News: Is Our City For Sale?

pepsibgAhhhhh! Cold! Refreshing! Corporate!

Yes, who doesn’t enjoy a cold, fizzy soda pop on a hot summer day? From the Jack and Cokes we guzzle at The Nick to the cold Mountain Dews we down in Railroad Park, there’s no doubt our city – like almost every developed city/country in the world – is hopelessly addicted to sweet, sticky sodas. Hell, if health and surviving past the ripe old age of 50 weren’t concerns, I would mainline mounds of sugar via soda on a daily basis. And I’m considered a reserved soda drinker.

So, when the mammoth Pepsi sign atop the Two North Twenty building was quickly announced, installed and settled (according to local government entities, anyway) what right did we, Birmingham area residents, have to get mad? Sure, The Birmingham dot al dot News dot com newspaper website thingy reported eight months earlier that the Birmingham Design Review Committee had flat-out refused the idea more than once. Heck, they even called it a “glorified billboard.” Sick burn, dude!

Yet, like mammoth companies with tons of money and microns of community respect, concern or class commonly do, Pepsi worked and wiggled until their precious (and precocious) sign was “unstoppable.” Our slowly resurging downtown got a shiny new blue rectangle of cockamamie corporate propaganda. SUGAR GODS BE PRAISED! DEATH TO ALL PANCREAS!

I say, good work, city council and mayor! There’s now little doubt that various Birmingham structures are for sell if any impolite but persistent company shows up with enough scratch to keep our local politicians happy. As a concerned citizen (and a proud graduate of Birmingham City Schools), I wanted to do my part and throw out a few more genius advertising ideas.


How about slapping some Depends Undergarments on Vulcan? Imagine the revenue streams (ha…streams!) this could generate. With the aging Baby Boomer population, we need to throw this idea on the anvil and strike while the iron is hot. Let’s be honest, Vulcan’s high, round, firm buttocks have long been an embarrassment. This genius idea could actually kill two birds with one stone. It would protect Birmingham’s puritanical reputation and generate clouds of copious cash for local politicians. BUTTCHEEK BOOYAHH!

Next, let’s paint the exterior of the half-empty Cooper-Green Hospital bright blue and make it a museum. The Blue Cross/Blue Shield Museum presents – The Denied Coverage Hall of Fame! See patients suffer! Watch children weep! Track the history of financially decimated families! Yeah, pretty dark, I know. To boost attendance, they’d have to appeal to typical Alabama voters by adding on a special wing – The Horrors of Obamacare! See the death panels in action! Watch as your money is flushed down a toilet! See poor people who might have a different skin color than you receive medical care! OH NO, THE HUMANITY! They could offer a guarantee with admission: “We guarantee local visitors won’t sleep for a week!”

The possibilities are endless. Heck, these are just two ideas I thought up one Saturday morning with a hangover. Imagine the damage a motivated PR firm with pockets full of payoff cash could do to downtown Birmingham. Sell BET the Civil Rights Museum. Attach Larry the Cable Guy billboards to every downtown church. Tear down the Alabama Theater and build another Wal-Mart. Vivid Video presents: Lynn Park. Think of all that sweet revenue potential.

Seriously though, we have all got to wonder how much of Birmingham is for sale? After local leaders smiled and shook hands as these international money makers moved in with impunity, maybe we should all be a bit skeptical. What do local officials define as sacred? What would they turn down? There’s little doubt that downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods are on the verge of dynamite growth. Untouched and pretty much forgotten for many decades, the area now has the potential to become a unique, funky, fun and affordable area. Yet, only if the powers that be make decisions with their heads AND their hearts. For me and many others, Pepsi’s blue monstrosity appears to be the first troubling sign.



ASG – ‘Blood Drive’

Melodic, punchy rock that avoids all the embarrassing cliches. Having first caught ASG in all their glory opening up for Weedeater at the Bottletree, I didn’t immediately trust them. In the metal world, anyone singing at the top of their ability over catchy riffs is disturbing and suspicious. (Cut to me sipping a PBR: “What are these guys trying to do … become the next Nickelback?) Now, after having seen them live three times and following their last few releases, I get the feeling these guys are sincere. If they were looking for the cash grab, would they still be playing places like Zydeco?

Anyway, iTunes says “Avalanche” is my favorite track from this album, but I think “Day’s Work” is the jewel. Give it a listen:

EDITOR’S NOTE: Phil has been a huge part of our site since 2008. His unique perspective on all things Birmingham make him the perfect sounding board for a regular BHAMFM feature. Like what you’ve read? Send us a shout on Twitter (@bhamfmdotcom) and check back in a few days for more from Phil.