She & Him has always had a retro sound, but their latest music video for "Thieves" looks like it was plucked from a bygone era, too. The footage is shot almost silent film-style with the chintzy special effects to match. It's a cute concept, though the dark tones seem more suited to someone like The Dead Weather. Do you agree? Or are you smitten with it, grainy images and all? Watch when you read more
Just yesterday we got word that Zooey Deschanel will star in a new HBO series, but first she's got an album to promote. Though She & Him Volume 2 won't hit us until March 23rd, there's some good news for fans of the Deschanel/M. Ward collaboration: the first single has been leaked!
"In the Sun" is just what we've come to expect from the indie duo; Zooey Deschanel's soft, girlish voice sings over M. Ward's melodic tune on the piano and guitar. Vocally, we don't hear any of the "him," but Zooey gets a boost from special guest Tilly & the Wall. The tune is upbeat and soothing (if not just a little forgettable), and I'm still pretty eager to get my hands on the full album. To give it a listen for yourself, just read more
The soundtrack for Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's upcoming romantic film (500) Days of Summer (opening in limited release July 17) looks like an awesome lineup, and we've already checked out one of the songs, the Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition," featured in the movie's trailer. Also included on the soundtrack is the Smiths' "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want," along with a cover of the song sung by Zooey Deschanel herself. Deschanel and M. Ward, as musical duo She & Him, give the tune an old-fashioned '50s feel, with Deschanel's plaintive voice telling us once more that if she gets what she wants, "Lord knows, it would be the first time."
I'm looking forward to hearing the entire soundtrack when it's released July 14, but for now it's fun to get a taste with She & Him. To check out the cover, read more
Tuesdays are big in entertainmentville: Not only do all the new DVD releases hit Netflix, but new music also pours into stores. So I take a spin through each week's music releases and pick out some albums and tracks worthy of a download. Here are today's selections:
Strumming my pain with his fingers: OK, so I'm not really in pain, but if I could choose someone to strum what I was feeling, I'd nominate M. Ward. I can say this with confidence as I've already taken a first listen to this new album of his and found that the tracks offer a more mature rendition of his signature sound. To get a taste of this goodness, check out his duet with Lucinda Williams, "Oh Lonesome Me," and the title track, "Hold Time."
Man with baby: Good news, Morrissey fans: People are liking his new album. One critic says, "his songs now sound informed by an anger-stirring heartbreak," and that is apparently a good thing. I feel like I've been waiting forever for this release! I'm already digging into tracks that include "I'm OK by Myself," "Black Cloud," and "Something Is Squeezing My Skull."
It feels like a rock 'n' roll day today! One more still to come so read more
"She" makes an appearance here, as do Lucinda Williams and Rachel Blumberg of The Decemberists. In return, Ward offers a more mature, surprising rendition of his solidly signature sound. Hold Time doesn't come out until Feb. 17, but I've been streaming the CD over at NPR. To read my initial thoughts on all 14 songs, read more
When Jenny Lewis first went solo from Rilo Kiley, she had the Watson Twins to help her let us into her most soulful, folksy thoughts with each song. That debut was excellent and, like Death Cab's Ben Gibbard, I've been excitedly awaiting her next solo project, Acid Tongue. Today we can hear the whole thing for the first time on her MySpace page.
I've read that she was interested in rocking out this time, and that's definitely the case on this new album which is full of (non-twin) collaborators. There's M. Ward, Zooey Deschanel, Chris Robinson and even Elvis Costello! At times the vibe is psychedelic and trippy, but mostly I'd describe the album as eclectic. There's still twang there — even in her rock — which is smart because that's what suits her voice best, I think. But she also brings in the gospel ballads, along with tunes that sound exactly like some good ol' Rilo Kiley stuff.
What I appreciate most after taking a first listen is how ambitious it all is, and overall I like the way her tracks transported me to another hazy time. This is definitely an album that will be awesome to hear live. I've jotted down a few thoughts on each of the songs for your consideration, so read more
When I saw She & Him play a live show here in San Francisco, Zooey Deschanel sounded great but seemed a bit nervous to be performing in front of such a large crowd. In this first video of a song off her album with M. Ward, those stage jitters are nowhere to be found. Instead we get to see the quirky, ironic Zoe we've come to know and love onscreen.
"Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" is such a cute song and the video made me laugh out loud, mostly due to the strange animated creatures and a smiling Zoe frolicking together in an otherwise dark little world (see: animated blood spilling out from an oft-murdered Zoe).
I won't give anymore away; to check it out for yourself, read more
If you've been dying to know what Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward's musical collaboration, She & Him, sounds like, wait no longer: Merge Records is streaming their debut album, titled Volume One, right now!
The album doesn't come out till Tuesday, but why wait? I heard most of the songs from the album at their Noise Pop show, and it's great to revisit the recorded versions. So far, I think the more uptempo songs are my favorites — "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here," "I Was Made for You," and especially "Sweet Darlin'." Those songs seem to show off Deschanel's voice and the project's overall sound the best, though a few of the ballads ("Change is Hard," "You Really Got a Hold On Me") are growing on me too.
What's your verdict? Take a listen and let me know!
Last weekend, San Francisco was thoroughly rocked by the 16th installment of the Noise Pop music festival. For six nights, local favorites played alongside national stars at some of the city's greatest music venues. I had the pleasure of attending four of this year's Noise Pop shows, and this week, I've been letting you in on my Noise Pop diary. I've already told you about seeing The Magnetic Fields and The Mountain Goats and coming across Whispertown2000 for the first time. Today, I'll tell you about my final two shows of the weekend: Tilly and the Wall and She & Him.
Tilly and the Wall, 3/2, The Rickshaw Stop — Here's the biggest thing I learned upon seeing Tilly and the Wall live for the first time: No matter how you feel about the band, you've got to have respect for tap dancer/percussionist Jamie Pressnall. That girl works harder than anyone else, dancing for the full 45-minute set and hollering out the lyrics of the songs to boot. Plus, hearing tapping take the place of drumming live is really something — and it's definitely no gimmick.
The rest of the band seemed to feed off Pressnall's energy, loosening up and getting more and more excited with each song. In addition to playing favorites from their full-length albums Wild Like Children and Bottoms of Barrels — even the ones, like "Rainbows in the Dark," that they weren't 100 percent sure they knew how to play — they broke out several songs from their new album, which is expected to be out in June. One new track, the single "Beat Control," was pure, dancey fun — and I think it bodes well for the album that it was my least-favorite of the new songs.
The highlight, for me, was the first encore song, "Lost Girls." With all their peppiness, it's easy to forget that the Tilly girls are actually great singers, and Kianna Alarid's piercing voice almost made me understand the guy behind me who kept yelling for them to have his babies.
Up next: She & Him, so read more
Here's some news to make you go "squee": Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis has started recording her second solo album. While there's no word on whether the Watson Twins will be back for another round with Lewis, many wonderful friends have already signed on, including Jonathan Rice, Elvis Costello, and — wait for it — M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel. See? Squee!
Lewis' charming solo debut, Rabbit Fur Coat, was one of my top 20 albums of 2006, and I've been wondering since then how her next non-Rilo album might sound. As much as I liked Rabbit Fur Coat, I was even more enamored with several of the songs Lewis and her backing band performed together after the album's release, including the jubilant "Fernando" and the haunting "Acid Tongue." In fact, instead of listening to Rabbit Fur Coat itself, I often find myself playing this live recording, which has my favorites from Rabbit Fur Coat plus many of the newer tracks.
So, I'm curious to see if Lewis has continued in that post-Rabbit Fur direction, or if she'll come out with something entirely new. A source told Entertainment Weekly that "It all sounds super natural, nice, and simple. Like it doesn't belong in any decade. It's just timeless." Sounds promising. What are your hopes for Lewis' next solo outing?