Tag Archive: “Merge Records”

The One About the Best of 2016

Brian and Luke take you on a journey through some of their favorite albums of 2016.   Also, be sure to check out their individual top 20 albums of the year list on the Ghettoblaster Magazine website!

Every week Ghettoblaster feature writers (and dear cousins!) Brian LaBenne and Luke LaBenne will be bringing you fresh new songs with the hopes of introducing you to some that you may consider to be the best song ever.  Both Brian and Luke have no idea what songs the other has picked, so what you are hearing is their genuine reaction to listening to the songs together.  Also, if you enjoy this episode, head to ITunes to subscribe and rate our podcast with the highest rating available to you.


Songs Played on The One About the Best of 2016

Outer Spaces – “Words” from A Shedding Snake on Don Giovanni Records

AJJ – “Cody’s Theme” from The Bible 2 on Side One Dummy Records

DOGBRETH – “Do You Really Want Me” from Second Home on Asian Man Records

Lambchop – “Relatives #2” from FLOTUS on Merge Records

Twin Peaks – “Getting Better” from Down in Heaven on Grand Jury Music

Mutual Benefit – “Not for Nothing” from Skip a Sinking Stone on Mom+Pop

PUP – “Doubts” from The Dream is Over on Side One Dummy Records

Frightened Rabbit – “I Wish I Was Sober” from Painting of a Panic Attack on Atlantic Records

Eric Bachmann – “Carolina” from Eric Bachmann on Merge Records

Kishi Bashi – “Honeybody” from Sonderlust on Joyful Noise Recordings

The One With Thor Talk

Every week Ghettoblaster feature writers (and dear cousins!) Brian LaBenne and Luke LaBenne will be bringing you fresh new songs with the hopes of introducing you to some that you may consider to be the best song ever.  Both Brian and Luke have no idea what songs the other has picked, so what you are hearing is their genuine reaction to listening to the songs together.  Also, if you enjoy this episode, head to ITunes to subscribe and rate our podcast with the highest rating available to you.


Songs Played on The One With Thor Talk

Angel Haze – “Resurrection” from her upcoming sophomore album due in 2017

Wild Pink – “Great Apes” from their debut self-titled LP out February 10th on Tiny Engines

Hurray for the Riff Raff – “Rican Beach from The Navigator out March 10th on ATO Records

Uniform – “Tabloid” from Wake in Fright out January 20th on Sacred Bones

James Supercave – “Esther Reed” out now on Fairfax Recordings

Tim Darcy – “Tall Glass of Water” from Saturday Night out February 17th  on Jagjaguwar

The Clean – “Stars” from the 15th anniversary deluxe remastered version of their 2001 album Getaway out now on Merge Records

Louise Burns – “Who’s the Madman” from Young Mopes out February 3rd  on Light Organ

Since the year 2000, Ghettoblaster has been putting out a quarterly print magazine.  For Ghettoblast from the Past, we look back at the bands and artists that were showcased within these pages.

From Issue 44, Merge Records William Tyler.  Words by Luke LaBenne.

Also from Issue 44, Canvasback Records Adia Victoria.  Words by Tommy Johnson.


To subscribe to Ghettoblaster Magazine or to pick up this issue, head over to our In Print page.

This is Past Sounds. Every Friday Ghettoblaster Magazine is looking back and finding great music from various eras. This week we present some of the best music videos for great songs because, why not?  Below are songs and videos that sound and look great no matter what decade they’re played in. So strap in as we take a musical journey, back in time.

The Avalanches – Frontier Psychiatrist (Since I Left You, Sire Records) 2000

In 2000 The Avalanches released Since I Left You, an absolutely classic album with just around an hour of sample based summery dance music. It’s the type of album you really have to listen to from start to finish in a single sitting as the songs bleed together, providing an astounding DJ set.  Frontier Psychiatrist is not the best song on the album by any means, but the song, and even more so it’s music video, are a very good representation of what the album is all about: manic joy.  This is my favorite music video ever and it is utter chaos.  Looking for a grandma drummer?  How about a turtle with the face of your grandfather?  There are awesome looking horns, a strange parrot and so much more all on a single stage.  It simply is the best.

Robyn – Call Your Girlfriend (Body Talk, Konichiwa Records) 2010

Robyn took the indie pop world by storm in 2010, releasing three mini-albums and a full length collection of the best songs from these as well as some new songs. Everything she put out that year was fantastic and she has since become a staple for Hipster dance parties around the globe.  Call Your Girlfriend is a powerhouse pop song with a stellar music video.  The music for Call Your Girlfriend repeats itself, as do the lyrics, growing bigger and bigger each time until it culminates into an outright synth meltdown.  Likewise, the music video begins in a simple open warehouse with Robyn singing to the camera and dancing; however, over time the landscape changes a bit with great lighting and more involved dancing from Robyn.  The most impressive part of the video is that it is a single long tracking shot and Robyn nails the choreography the whole way through, making the video a visual delight.

Cut Copy – Need You Now (Zonoscope, Modular Recordings) 2011

Cut Copy is not necessarily a stuffy band but they had commanded a sort of stoic presence, especially during their live shows. Need You Now is the opening track on their great 2011 album Zonoscope and really set things off in the right direction.  It’s a fantastic driving song with a solid beat and shimmering synths in the same vein as New Order.  It’s not a playful song and Cut Copy had not been known as a playful band, which is what makes the music video for Need You Now so much fun.  It begins pretty normally with the band performing their song, but various athletes from several different sports show up and are captured on video in full gear, which is edited in a very cheesy and funny way.  Soon they are exchanging equipment, rushing the band’s playing area and eventually declaring love and war on one another.  It’s super fun and the fact that it came from Cut Copy makes it even better.

Lambchop – Gone Tomorrow (Mr. M, Merge Records) 2012

Gone Tomorrow is the opening track from the gorgeous album Mr. M, which was released by Lambchop, a band whose label describes them as “Nashville’s most f*cked up country band.” There’s nothing on this song that really points to their more sinister side, it is just a simply beautiful track.  Yet, that statement from the label does shed some light onto why the video for this slow, lovely song is full of local professional wrestling.  The pacing of the video matches the song and is a meditative and deliberate piece of art that captures wrestling moves the way you would capture ballerinas at a Julliard performance.  The combination of song, subject matter and video aesthetic is absolutely perfect, resulting in a seven minute video that leaves you wanting more.

This is Past Sounds. Every Friday Ghettoblaster Magazine is looking back and finding great music from various eras. Below are songs that sound great no matter what decade they’re played in. So strap in as we take a musical journey, back in time.

The Chills – Pink Frost (Kaleidoscope World, Flying Nun) 1986

The Chills stand out even amongst the stand out bands of the awesome wave of music from Australia and New Zealand in the 1980s. Flying Nun will live in infamy for producing some of the best jangle pop records and Kaleidoscope World is definitely no exception.  Pink Frost is unique both as a song from The Chills and as being released during this jangle pop era.  It begins with a very upbeat guitar riff but soon descends into minimalistic guitar and rhythm section in a much more somber tone.  The lyrics that follow are chilling, sung with a hazy delivery.  Pink Frost results in an uneasy, yet beautiful and fascinating journey for the listener.

The dB’s – Black and White (Stands for Decibels, Capitol Records) 1981

Stands for Decibels was the debut album for The dB’s and is truly a bizarre album.  It almost provides a bridge between 60’s psychedelic pop, 70’s power pop and 80’s new wave all at once.  Black and White stands as one of the best examples of their power pop leanings.  There are shades of punk, 60’s pop and psychedelic music throughout this powerhouse of a song.  An easy to follow and hum-along-to guitar riff propels the song forward as The dB’s sing about love and the loss of it.  There are interesting diversions with the guitar work, but what really shines here are the drums.  As the song goes on the drums get more and more frenetic, ultimately blasting apart by the end of the song.  This is a great one to test your speakers on and just blast away.

The Magnetic Fields – The Book of Love (69 Love Songs, Merge Records) 1999

Full disclosure: my wife and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary soon and this is our song, so I had to post about it.  Stephen Merritt is the beautiful, droll, monotone and expressive vocalist behind The Magnetic Fields and puts together some of the most interesting melodies sung in a truly original voice.  Merritt is also a fantastic lyricist and The Book of Love is a wonderful example of what makes The Magnetic Fields so special.  The lyrics focus on, surprise surprise, the titular book that is huge and full of figures and documents the origin of music and how to love another person.  This really is such a special song that could have not been made by anyone else but The Magnetic Fields.

A Tribe Called Quest – Check the Rhime (The Low End Theory, Zomba Recording LLC) 1991

A Tribe Called Quest is revered as one of the best jazz infused hip-hop groups. Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammed and Phife burst on the scene in 1991 with their classic album The Low End Theory. This was the first step in an output that would prove them to be an incredibly influential crew.  Their music was in direct contradiction to the gangsta rap of the 90s and largely found them rapping about how cool, calm and collected they are.  “Here’s a funky introduction of how nice I am / Tell your mother, tell your father send a telegram” is a line that shouldn’t necessarily work in a hip-hop song but A Tribe Called Quest made a career out of expressing sentiments such as these over and over again in better and better ways.  Check the Rhime also features one of the best horn samples ever; so treat your ears to some really special music.

Every Monday, Ghettoblaster is looking back to new albums released the previous week. Below you’ll find several albums released on Friday May 6th that we believe are definitely worth a listen.

KAYTRANADA – 99.9% (XL Recordings)

99.9% is a truly special debut album with a fully developed signature sound.  KAYTRANADA makes what he has jokingly described as “black tropical house” music, mixing house, disco and soul music with hip hop and RnB. These references have been combined before, but not quite as well as KAYTRANADA does on 99.9%. Also, KAYTRANADA’s heritage growing up in Canada as a refugee from Haiti plays a part in his overall sound as he’s imbued his music with the music of his family’s homeland. 99.9% also features solid contributions from featured singers and rappers including Anderson .Paak, Vic Mensa, Syd and Little Dragon, making this an album that should not be overlooked.


Little Scream – Cult Following (Merge Records)

Little Scream’s new album Cult Following takes the listener on a winding journey through pop, art-rock and singer-songwriter inspired songs. This is an incredibly diverse album with ventures into multiple styles of music. Having an album cover this much terrain could come across as some sort of forced exercise; however Little Scream is able to put together a cohesive album in a singular voice. Cult Following also boasts a massive guest list as Sufjan Stevens, Sharon Van Etten, Owen Pallett and members of The National make appearances throughout. Overall, this is a fantastic and unpredictable listen, which couldn’t have come from anyone else.

Skepta – Konnichiwa (Boy Better Know)

Skepta takes his version of grime to a new place on Konnichiwa. Grime music is a type of rap music that originated in England in the early 00’s, made popular in the U.S. mainly by Dizzee Rascal.  Funny enough, the music is grimy with complex beats mixed with synth, string and electronic sounds and combined with rapid fire and strongly accented rapping. Konnichiwa is a very good presentation of the genre, and is an incredibly enjoyable listen overall. Skepta largely sticks to the grime formula, yet also introduces some U.S. radio friendly tracks, most notably on the Pharell produced “Numbers.” If you’re a hip hop fan and haven’t delved into grime music yet Konnichiwa is a great gateway album to get you started.

King Khan is back at it! On the heels of his recently released “Never Hold On” via Khannibalism/OBEY/Ernest Jenning, he releases single “Children of the World” off his upcoming 7″ on Merge Records dropping June 3 and prepares to tour with the Shrines.

John B. Smith, founder and leader of The Invaders, invited King Khan to provide the soundtrack to their story. “King Khan is a fiery arrow shot into the night sky which no one knows how high or far it will travel. However, we do know that as that arrow streaks across the heavens, its flames will light up dark places along the way,” wrote Smith. “King Khan’s music can become the voice of many around the world, some of whom have never been heard from before.”

A statement from King Khan:

The fact that it has taken so long for The Invaders’ tale to be told just goes to show how the powers that be are as evil and crooked as they were 50 years ago. We must not forget that laws were born from the people’s resistance, to protect them from arbitrary power. The time has come to reclaim our laws and re-emancipate the people.

I wrote “Children of the World” as a reaction to the epidemic of police brutality that has infected America for far too long. Sadly, the greatest victims out of all this are the children. I cannot believe my eyes and ears when I watch this apathy growing out of control and literally choking the breath out of its citizens. People in America are denied the most simple, basic human rights. This return to the Middle Ages needs to stop.

“Gone Are the Times” was written to show how the struggle of the oppressed has not changed in the past century. When will the poor and impoverished stop being abused over and over again? I hope I will see that change happen within my lifetime.

The struggle is the same, so I chose message music as my weapon. May it soothe your ears as much as light a fire under the collective ass that is pulling the strings.

All power to the people!

King Khan & the Shrines on tour:
Jun 3 London, UK — The Blues Kitchen
Jun 7 Atlanta, GA — The Earl
Jun 8 Raleigh, NC — Kings
Jun 9 Washington, DC — Black Cat
Jun 10 Philadelphia, PA — Underground Arts
Jun 11 Brooklyn, NY — Brooklyn Bowl
Jun 13 Cambridge, MA — The Sinclair
Jun 14 Montreal, QC — La Sala Rossa
Jun 16 Toronto, ON — Horseshoe Tavern
Jun 17 Cleveland, OH — Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
Jun 18 Chicago, IL — Wicker Park’s Green Music Fest
Jun 19 Chicago, IL — Subterranean
Jun 20 St. Paul, MN — Turf Club
Jun 23 Seattle, WA — Neumos
Jun 24 Portland, OR — Dante’s
Jun 26 Oakland, CA — Mosswood Park
Jun 27 Los Angeles, CA — Echoplex
Jun 28 Phoenix, AZ — Crescent Ballroom
Jun 30 Austin, TX — The Mohawk
Jul 01 San Antonio, TX — Paper Tiger
Jul 02 Houston, TX — White Oak Music Hall (Upstairs)


M. Ward released his eighth solo album, More Rain, last month via Merge Records. Today, M. Ward shares the video for “I’m Listening (Child’s Theme),” which was directed by Carlos Forster.

Watch the music video for “I’m Listening (Child’s Theme)” below:

Ward has added several west coast tour dates in July including performances in Petaluma, Berkeley, San Diego and a special hometown performance in Portland on July 16. Tickets go on sale Friday, April 8. All tour dates below.
April 29         Saxapahaw, NC @ Haw River

April 30         Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theatre

May 1            Washington D.C. @ 930 Club

May 2            Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer

May 4            New York, NY @ Webster Hall

May 6            Portland, ME @  Port City Music Hall

May 7            Boston, MA @ The Royale

May 27 – 30   Quincy, WA @ Sasquatch!

June 11          St Louis, MO @ Blueberry Hill – Duck Room

June 12          Louisville, KY @ Headliners Music Hall

June 13          Bloomington, IN @ Bluebird

June 16          Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall

June 17          Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theater
July 7             Petaluma, CA @ Mystic Theatre

July 8             Berkeley, CA @ UC Theater

July 10           Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Bowl (with Brian Wilson)

July 12           San Diego, CA @ The Belly-Up
July 16           Portland, OR @ Revolution Hall


More Rain is available now on CD or LP in the Merge store and digitally via iTunes.