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Tuesday Reviewsday: The Black Keys, Swans, Joseph Arthur and Walter Martin

2012 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival - Day 1

Christopher Polk/Getty Images

INDIO, CA - APRIL 13: Musician Dan Auerbach of Black Keys performs onstage during day 1 of the 2012 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Field on April 13, 2012 in Indio, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella)

It's time again for Tuesday Reviewsday, our weekly new music segment. This week, Hollywood Reporter music editor Shirley Halperin and Spin Magazine senior writer Chris Martins are back with some new tunes.

Shirley's Picks


Artist: The Black Keys
Album: "Turn Blue"
Release Date: May 13
Songs: "Fever," "Lovers"
 
This is their eighth studio album for the duo that cut its teeth on the grit of the blues. Here they're progressing as a band, and certainly frontman Dan Auerbach is progressing as a producer. In the past two years, he's recorded with everyone from Dr. John to Ray LaMontagne to Lana Del Rey, but he's most freed up working on his own material. At the same time, working with Danger Mouse on the Black Keys has rubbed off on him, and you can hear the contemporary trends and concentration on what constitutes a hook:

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Here we have farfisa organ, hokey gang vocals, drummer Pat Carney anchoring the song on drums
 psychedelia, warm fuzzy cloud. Perhaps a nod to Gorillaz? But the Black Keys are also straddling multiple worlds, wearing their influences on their sleeve (like you can hear some Prince, nod to Motown Stevie Wonder). It drifts a bit into New Wave territory, and feels kind of stitched together.
Always a blues based band and this stuff is much less so.

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Artist: Joseph Arthur
Album: Lou
Release Date: May 13
Songs: “Satellite of Love,” “Walk on the Wild Side”
 
We Lost Lou Reed in October and many musicians are still processing that grief. One of those is singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur, who’s been around since the late '90s when he released his first album. Not quite a contemporary, but of that age where the resonance of Lou Reed and Velvet Underground could be felt very strongly. This is Joseph Arthur’s appreciation of Lou as a songwriter and he’s chosen albums from all different points in his career – like signposts:

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Helping us remember Lou via his relationship with NYC – that's a perspective and connection that Joseph Arthur clearly made. It's easy to roll your eyes at the concept but it’s brave move. Some of his choices are obvious, some not so much. But Arthur represents a generation of people who moved Lou Reed’s career forward.

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Chris's Picks:

Artist: Swans
Album: "To Be Kind" 
Release Date: May 13

Swans have been around, terrifying music fans, as long as I've  been on this earth — since 1982. They're led by a genuine  musical genius named Michael Gira. They emerged as part of New York's no wave art scene, which musically meant  some combination of post-punk, jazz-funk and avant garde rock.

They were about as confrontational as you could get. Gira was  famous for attacking fans — stepping on any fingers resting on the stage, pulling hair, and freaking out on anyone caught headbanging at his show. In 1997, he disbanded Swans, partly to do with that rep. The anger attracted the wrong  crowd, and the experimentalism got them labeled "noise." So when Swans returned in 2010, it was with a new mission.

'To Be Kind' is their 13th album. It continues a tradition of  grandness — both in terms of orchestral ambition, and sheer  size. This one's a double-disc-er, with only 10 songs that run  a total of two hours. Every single track is a glorious slog  through hell — boom, bile, and constantly building blackness. But in a weird way, Swans music is also uplifting. In that  rapturous, roll-your-eyes-back, let it carry you sort of way. There's also the occasional quieter moment. Like the duet with St. Vincent, "Kirsten Supine," which happens to have been  inspired by Dunst's nude scene in Melancholia.

 

 

Artist: Walter Martin
Album: "We're All Young Together"
Release Date: May 13 

The Beatles wrote plenty of kid-friendly songs, and the "Rockabye Baby!" franchise has remade plenty of Beatles songs for children. But Walter Martin has made the perfect kids song about the Beatles. It's called "The Beatles (When Ringo Shook His Mop)" and it's the best primer you'll hear:

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There's no reason adults can't love it, too, which goes to the title of this man's album: "We're All Young Together." The playful tone of the record may surprise those who recognize his name. Walter Martin is/was the organist (etc.) for New York indie- rock icons, The Walkmen.

The band kind of broke up this year, but it actually multiplied into three mutually supportive solo projects. Singer Hamilton Leithauser's got an album out, bassist Peter Matthew Bauer has one on the way. But none is making music as divergently bright as Martin.  


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