Category Archives: Doo Wop

On ‘Anti,’ Rihanna finally slows down and finds her center

Listening to Rihanna’s new album, Anti, it’s obvious there’s no mega-hit — there’s no eletcro-pop gem like “Diamonds,” no “Umbrella”-like anthem.

After her frantic run of albums over several years, Rihanna, paused, tweaked and molded, ripped down and rebuilt Anti. Anti is not a particularly happy or uplifting album either. Rihanna’s emotions shift constantly, from loneliness to lust, vulnerability to indecision.

But there’s still plenty about Anti to love. The depth and darkness she’s uncovered here is the farthest she’s come personally in her music, and it makes for a compelling and captivating album.

Her decision to drop the singles “BBHMM,” “American Oxygen” and “FourFiveSeconds” from Anti was the right one — and whether Anti yields an R&B hit doesn’t seem to concern her right now.

She begins by reclaiming her Barbadian accent on “Consideration,” forgoing her earlier Americanized vocals. “I got to do things my own way darling / “Will you ever let me?” she chants defiantly.

The interlude “James Joint” boils down her love life to smoking weed, making out and not giving a damn about anything else. Although it’s the briefest song, the swirl of soft electro-pop notes is the sexiest on the entire album. Another slow jam, “Kiss It Better,” features an‘80s-era guitar hook that could just as easily be a Prince write-off.

She can play the good girl just as easily as the bad, and it’s her prerogative which character she chooses to embody. She doesn’t need to waste time with emotional baggage on “Needed Me” (“But baby, don’t get it twisted/You was just another n—- on the hit list/Trying to fix your issues with a bad b*tch.”)  Later on the album she plays the vulnerable woman who’s uncertain how to feel when she finds herself in the pangs of new love on the docile acoustic pop of “Never Ending.”

But her best work comes toward the end.

She lets loose on the doo-wop tune “Higher,” accentuating its distorted, wobbly strings, and on its sister tune — the slow, retro 1-2-3 beat of “Love on the Brain” – she’s never been more daring. “I’m tired of being played like a violin,” she says. When her voice is stripped of electronic assets and allowed to become grainy and raw, it shines.

By the time Rihanna closes Anti with a tender piano ballad, it’s clear she’s evolved; you get the sense that she’s come to terms with or is at peace with whatever demons she was fighting. Those annual album drops may now be a thing of the past.

Leave a comment

Filed under Doo Wop, Electro-pop, Pop, Review, Uncategorized

Ezra Furman’s “Perpuetual Motion People” out July 10

Ezra-Furman-Lousy-Connection-picAfter Ezra Furman hit gold with “Day Of the Dog,” he and his band The Boyfriends are back with the upcoming album “Perpetual Motion People.”

His latest song “Lousy Connection” is a mix of doo-wop, Britpop, 50s Vegas act, and all-around brashness. He drops imagery like it’s candy, mentioning writing a letter to Congress about things he thinks they should “address.” When he says he shows up in an Indian headdress and coyly says he thinks “the message was lost,” you know you’re in for some cheeky attitude and a fun time.

ezra-furman perpetual“Lousy Connection” is full of memorable storytelling lines that could all easily stand on their own.

“I”m out of money and I’m out of my mind… I’m all f*ckin’ mumbles…. a royal flush where all the faces are faded…” It’s all wrapped up in joyful, almost insanely happy brass notes. It’s one of the more unusually quirky songs so far this year, and it’s much welcomed.

Listen to “Lousy Connection” on Soundcloud:

You really must watch the video for “Restless Year,” which could pass for a 21st century version of “It’s the End Of the World As We Know It,” or “Shiny Happy People.” Furman speediy floats along a street, going through wardrobe changes and socializing, then says “when you catch my coattails I’ll be miles away.” You believe it.

Furman has a small tour that includes Rough Trade in New York on Aug. 5:

Aug. 5 – Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade

Aug. 6 – Washington, D.C. – DC9

Aug. 8 – Philadelphia, PA – Milkboy Philly

Aug. 11 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall

“Perpetual Motion People” is out July 10 on Bella Union.

Leave a comment

Filed under alternative, alternative pop, Doo Wop, New Music, VIdeos

Watch the bittersweet trailer for the new Amy Winehouse documentary

It starts with a woman singing, “black….,” alone. Then it sails through her life, starting when she was a child, and before you know it, she’s gone.

amy_winehouse_34That’s part of the trailer for “Amy,” the new documentary about British singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse, who died in 2011 at 27 of alcohol poisoning.

For the early seconds in the trailer, Winehouse is smiling, laughing and vivacious. In a later scene, she’s drinking onstage.

When Winehouse burst onto the jazz/soul/doo-wop scene with albums “Back to Black” and “Frank,” her success seemed like a fairy tale. But her inability to cope with sudden fame coupled with alcohol and drug use caused her personal life to spiral quickly.

The documentary will feature previously unseen footage and aims to tell Winehouse’s story in her own words. It’s due for release in July.

“The thing is, I don’t think I’m gonna be at all famous,” she says. “I’m not a girl trying to be a star.”“>Watch the video.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Doo Wop, Soul