Category Archives: Jazz

Open Windows 2: Nice dreams, coathangers and shoegaze/metal fire

Atlanta garage punk group The Coathangers paid a visit to Paste’s studios recently. The band members all have stage names ending in Coathanger — Rusty Coathanger, Crook Kid Coathanger and Minnie Coathanger. They’re already seasoned punk veterans, with their fifth album, Nosebleed Weekend, out April 15 on Suicide Squeeze Records.

With the constant tick-ticking of the rim and two acoustic guitars, the three of them play a stripped-down version of their song “Make It Right” for Paste, but to hear them in their full punk-rock glory, watch them do the cutting in their video for “Hurricane” from 2011:


The debut from Boston-based thrash-metal-shoegaze group Astronoid is out June 10 on Blood Music, and Metal Injection has posted the lyric video for “Up and Atom.” One listen to that song will hook you– their vocal harmonies simply float in the heavens, while waves of guitars perform their own shredded masterpiece below. Their debut is going to be huge.


Almost everyone’s reviewing Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, including an 8-year-old who’s broken the songs down in very simple terms. Radiohead’s music is extremely dense and layered with different meanings, so it’s refreshing to see a child tackle the album, track by track. And to be honest, every music critic has to start somewhere, and my early reviews started like this, so kudos to him for getting an early jump.

Read it for yourself:

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 9.35.55 PM

Jazz/classical/synth and sonic mastermind Floating Points (Sam Shepherd) has released the studio version of an 18-minute song called “Kuiper,” part of his upcoming Kuiper EP out July 22 on Luaka Bop/PLUTO. Shepherd had earlier released the live version on video. His instrumental works are pieces of electronic art. Kuiper will be available to download May 20.

Actor and MC Daveed Diggs can rap 19 words in 3 seconds — the fastest rapper on Broadway. While there’s not many rappers on Broadway, that’s pretty damn impressive. Diggs shows off his skills in the song “Guns and Ships” which he performs on the massive Broadway hit “Hamilton.”

Don’t blink as he slams a few verses from his hip-hop group, clipping., on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon:


EL VY, a project created by The National’s Matt Berninger and Brent Knopf of Menomena, have mixed and released Wye Oak’s song “Need A Friend.”

Wye Oak’s Andy Stack said this about the remix:

I spent the last quarter of 2015 playing drums on tour with EL VY. “Need a Friend” was consistently our closer, and arguably the most high-energy song of the set. By contrast, when I went to remix it, I imagined it as a Sade-style slow jam (complete with horn solo), a genuine reading of the angst, “love” and “heartbreak” which the original presents as more tongue-in-cheek. 

Wye Oak has been hinting at new music and will head out on tour this summer.

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Filed under Electronic, Garage Punk, Hardcore punk, Instrumental, Jazz, Metal, Noise Punk, Open Windows New Music, Rap, Shoegaze, Synth, Thrash, Uncategorized

Nina Simone’s estate to Zoe Saldana: ‘Take Nina’s name out your mouth’

The estate of Nina Simone has spoken out after a trailer of the upcoming Simone biopic, ‘Nina,’ was released.

The trailer, released today, stars actress Zoe Saldana as Simone. The film’s production has remained controversial for several years since it was announced that Saldana was to play Simone, a jazz singer, pianist, activist and songwriter, also known as the High Priestess of Soul.

In a story on the Guardian‘s website, Saldana has been seen on the set wearing dark makeup and a prosthetic nose. The backlash has come down hard. Simone’s daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, has continuously disavowed the film due to its casting choice.

Today, the Twitter account representing Simone’s estate tweeted to Saldana:

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 9.25.51 PM

The account also posted a link to a Simone interview, called “That Blackness,” where Simone talks about black culture and how she’s dedicated to helping black students  who feel alienated in white colleges:

“To me we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world,” Simone says in the clip.

Simone’s Twitter account also posted a link today to Simone’s performance of “Go To Hell,” recorded in 1968 at The Bitter End in New York City. Some of the lines in “Go To Hell”:

“If your mind lies in the devil’s workshop/evil doins your thrill/ and trouble and mischief is all you live for/ you know damn well /that you’ll go to hell

Now you living high and mighty / rich off the fat of this land
Please don’t dispose of your natural soul / cause you know damn well that you’ll go to hell”

In 2013, Zaldana responded to the backlash that was already building at the time, saying in part, “I know who I am and I know what Nina Simone means to me. So that is my truth and that set me free.”

So far Saldana hasn’t directly responded. ‘Nina’ is due for release in April. Read more on the story at the Washington Post.

Watch the trailer for ‘Nina’ below:

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Filed under Biopics, Blues, Jazz, Soul, Uncategorized, VIdeos

Erykah Badu imparts cosmic wisdom to fans on Okayplayer

Singer songwriter Erykah Badu, maker of the baddest rendition of “Hotling Bling” to date, recently answered fans’ questions for Okayplayer.

Hear gems of wisdom from the Analog Girl in a Digital World as she discusses her new mixtape and other pressing matters on “The Questions.”

(Disclaimer: The “Hotline Bling” link in the first graf is not the best, but it’s been removed from Soundcloud, as it’s now on her But You Caint Use My Phone EP.)

In the meantime, listen to Badu’s live performance of “Tyrone” to get a sense of the Queen’s power:

Visit for more, and check out highlights of her Reddit AMA.

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Filed under Blues, Erykah Badu, Jazz, Neo-Soul, Okayplayer, R&B, Soul, Uncategorized

Floating Points’ debut album, “Elaenia,” is finally here

Floating Points mug

Although the stream of Floating Points’ debut album “Elaenia,” is no longer streaming at NPR Music, you can still hear it through a Spotify link there or on Soundcloud. It’s an extremely interesting angle on the electronic music scene.

Composer and producer Sam Shepherd (Floating Points) can sight-read music and once sang with the Manchester Cathedral Boys Choir. But he’s also a DJ, and began releasing singles as dubstep was finding its feet in England. That doesn’t completely explain his unusual music, which rarely involves vocals and relies often on live instruments like keyboards, as well as weeping string sections.

Shepherd incorporates jazz and its improvisations into synth and prog-rock. His take on these different styles (like on “Silhouettes (I, II, and III”) is freeing to hear, as experimentation in music should be.

In case you haven’t seen it, watch the gorgeous, trippy light show that is the video for “Silhouettes”:

Floating Points has just a few tour dates:

Oct 30 – Utrecht, NL – Catch Festival
Oct 31 Leuven, BE – Het Depot
Nov 2 – Paris, FR – New Morning
Nov 5 – Turin, IT – Club to Club
Nov 7 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
Nov 17 London, UK – Islington Assembly Hall

Elaenia is out now on Luaka Bop in the U.S., and Pluto in the UK.


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Filed under Dubstep, Electronic, Jazz, Progressive Rock, Synth, VIdeos

Autre Ne Veut faces judge and jury in a cappella video for “Panic Room”

The video for Autre Ne Veut’s new single “Panic Room” is an a cappella version of the song. Autre Ne Veut (aka Arthur Ashin) walks in front of a panel of three people and unceremoniously starts singing against a black background. Even though he’s putting all he has into the performance, eventually a panel member puts a stop to it and Ashin slinks off into the darkness, the audition a flop.

The video was meant to call up the anxieties artists can have when they’re performing in public, and was inspired by a Swedish Idol audition. The panel is actually Autre Ne Veut’s manager, his sister, and Pitchfork writer Ian Cohen. Ashin’s sister is the one who stops his performance.

Watch the video below.

Listen to the non-a cappella stream of “Panic Room”:

Autre Ne Veut’s latest album “Age of Transparency” follows his critically acclaimed 2013 album “Anxiety” and is a fusion of alt R&B, jazz and electronic sounds. The album’s title is also apparently a marketing phrase — a way to sell things.

According to Ashin: “

“I’’ve been listening to jazz since I was a kid and wanted to experiment with it. “For me, it taps into this comforting and antiquated image of the truth.””

Autre Ne Veut’s “Age of Transparency” is out Oct. 2 on Downtown Records, and he’ll be touring with GEMS next month.

U.S. Tour Dates
Fri Oct 09 – Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour*
Sat Oct 10 – San Francisco, CA – Social Hall SF*
Mon Oct 12 – Portland, OR – Star Theater*
Tue Oct 13 – Seattle, WA – Barboza*
Fri Oct 16 – Denver, CO – Los Lake*
Sun Oct 18 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall*
Tue – Oct 20 – Toronto, ON – The Hoxton*
Wed Oct 21 – Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle*
Thu Oct 22 – Boston, MA – Middle East Downstairs*
Fri Oct 23 – Washington, CD – U Street Music Hall*
Mon Oct 26 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom*

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Filed under Fusion, Jazz, R & B, VIdeos

As Pluto comes into view, children’s musician puts deGrasse Tyson’s words to starry magic

P_LORRI_Pluto color

This week, detailed photos of Pluto (everyone’s favorite non-planet planet) will come pouring in via New Horizons on its billions-of-miles trip through space.
Lori Henriques, a children’s jazz pianist, composer and singer, recently read words by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson about his thoughts on the universe and how everything is connected.

Via Brain Pickings:

“When I look up at the night sky and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe … the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up — many people feel small, because they’re small, the Universe is big — but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars.”

Henriques used the jazz melody from “Saint James Infirmary Blues” to romanticize deGrasse Tyson’s words, which seem to be hand-picked for children.

The song, “When I Look Into the Night Sky,” and its resulting video, with silver paper stars and red galaxies, is hauntingly beautiful and bright.

Many thanks to Maria Popova and her site Brain Pickings, which truly does sort out the good from the bad on the vast interwebs.

Listen to Louis Armstrong’s dark “St. James Infirmary” to see just how vast music notes can travel.

You can also download “When I Look Into the Night Sky” with a printable coloring page for free here.

Thanks in advance to Lori Henriques, for providing more good music for my 4-year-old daughter to check out.

(for pluto)

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Filed under Jazz, Kids stuff, Science, Space the final frontier

Hear Ryley Walker’s gauzy folk song “Sweet Satisfaction”

Ryley Walker: "Primrose Green" is out March 31 on Dead Oceans

Ryley Walker: “Primrose Green” is out March 31 on Dead Oceans

Ryley Walker has shared another song, “Sweet Satisfaction,” from his latest album, “Primrose Green,” out March 31 on Dead Oceans.

Walker’s “Sweet Satisfaction” elegantly strikes a pretty balance, walking between folk-pop and the edge of an electric buzz.

via Dead Oceans and Stereogum, Walker says:

“The songs are never “done” or anything, it always expands live. That’s my favorite part about playing music. I’m not much of a ‘sit down, here’s my three verses and a few choruses, song’s done.’ It comes from the jam. Having a song set in stone would drive me crazy.”

Ryley Walker talking with Stereogum

If that doesn’t give you a good intro to Walker’s music, you should also spend time listening to the title track of “Primrose Green,” a sort of 60s throwback solitary sound that’s highly lacking in music today.

Walker’s tour starts next week, playing with acts like Real Estate, Moon Duo, Steve Gunn, Hiss Golden Messenger, Kevin Morby and Heartless Bastards. Walker will also hit the festival circuit, performing at Pitchfork Music Festival, SXSW, NXNE, Levitation and more.

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Filed under Acid Folk, Folk, Jazz

Arthur Fowler’s struggles abound in “What’s Keeping Me Going”

Arthur Fowler: What's Keeping Me Going

Arthur Fowler: What’s Keeping Me Going

Singer-songwriter, Milwaukee native and Tokyo transplant Arthur Fowler has culled influences from Jimi Hendrix, Cat Stevens and Carlos Santana to create his own fusion of acid-folk on his debut, “What’s Keeping Me Going.”

Fowler uses other instruments such as harmonica, accordion and fiddle to express his lounge-jazz style and to incorporate flecks of flamenco and psychedelic folk. And sometimes what is revealed is a success.

On the title track, the sound of running water, birds and calm harmonies melt with acoustic finger work and gentle bongo drums to create a sweet and tender love song, while the Caribbean motion of “Love The Music” is delicately played and stays light on its feet — indicative of the overall melodic sway of “What’s Keeping Me Going.”

But his contemporary retelling of Jimi Hendrix’ “Room Full Of Mirrors,” while honest, leaves only the lyrics as a reminder of that cutting song, replacing anguish and lust with busy zydeco and jazz notes. On Neil Young’s “For the Turnstiles,” Fowler stays more faithful to that country-folk classic, but it’s far less memorable. Fowler’s preference for a slower tempo drags things down a bit too much.

The despair in the guitar notes of “Splash” are touching, but when he switches tracks and deadpans “I can’t live without your loving, I can’t live at all,” it clumsily misses the mark. The blues-tinged harmonica and obvious lyrics are misguided, though it’s clear Fowler is trying to express ambivalence and struggle.

Despite a few missteps, at least one shade of Fowler’s eclectic style on “What’s Keeping Me Going” should appeal to those seeking a new take on folk.

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Filed under Acid Folk, Folk, Jazz, Review

The majesty of Nina Simone’s “Plain Gold Ring”

Nina Simone

I recently discovered singer/songwriter Nina Simone by accident, while searching for James Brown music on Youtube.

Simone was a classically-trained jazz pianist, who succeeded in not pigeonholing herself into any genre. She performed standard covers with emotional original arrangements. Hearing her sing on a loving “Brown Baby” hooked me on her sultry voice, dark and mellow. She also sounded defiant and full of spite, as on the scathing “Backlash Blues” in later years, when she championed civil-rights causes.

So I bought a Nina Simone ‘greatest hits’ CD —— ‘Nina: The Essential Nina Simone —— to dip my toe in the water. One song that stood out for me was ‘Plain Gold Ring,’ about a woman pining for a married man.

She sings plainly at first– she knows he’s not going to be available, and she’s resigned to that fact. Before the second verse though, she cries out a regal ‘oh’ which extends into a plaintive anthem where you can almost see her riding a cold ocean, waiting for the man who never comes. It’s clear that wanting what she can’t have is going to keep her from living.

The stark drums march the tune along as her repeating piano melody keeps step. As she sings the chorus at the end, her voice fades into the dark. I love to listen to it.

While surfing the Tube, I found Kimbra’s version of this song. I’m aghast at Kimbra‘s take, in which she  unabashedly uses an Audacity-type voice editor. It’s so sterile when up against Simone’s.

It’s not possible to really compare these two versions of ‘Plain Gold Ring,’ but you can try:

Let me know what you think.

‘Plain Gold Ring’:

Dig It or Ditch It: Dig Simone’s version, Ditch Kimbra’s.

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Filed under Blues, Jazz, Remake, Uncategorized, VIdeos