Category Archives: New Music

Dionne Warwick, always a heartbreaker

My first impression of Dionne Warwick was from listening to her pleasant, calming vocals during car rides with my mother 30 years ago. In the ’80s, her music was experiencing a mini revival, gaining new fans from her time hosting “Solid Gold” and riding on 70s hits like “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” and the 1982 disco-jazzy “Heartbreaker.”

My second impression was that she was from San Jose — she must be, because she says so in the song, right? Apparently a lot of people have thought that, which is what she told me during our interview recently. But the Princess of Pop was totally cool with it and doesn’t fault people for assuming she’s from the West Coast. But she grew up in New Jersey – slightly different locale. One of my favorite lines from the song is when she airily suggests dropping $100 to help buy a car. Sounds like a deal to me!

At the time though, I didn’t realize she was part of one of the most successful collaborations in popular music history. The three of them — Warwick and songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David — struck gold with memorable songs like “Say A Little Prayer,” “Walk On By,” and “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.”

It’s a massive catalog. If you’ve never taken the time to listen to her hits from the 60s, it’s worth it. Part of it is the Bacharach/David easygoing style of orchestral melodies and brass that makes them memorable, part of it is how Warwick was able to melt so gracefully into the lyrics. “Walk On By” is one of my most favorite songs ever; the piano line is so comforting, like a rainy Sunday.

Some of the songs haven’t aged as well — “Wives and Lovers” has a fantastic, breezy melody. The song is a good example of that ’60s James Bond-style grand sound, but the lines about keeping pretty so your husband doesn’t leave are pretty stale now.

I’ll finally get the chance to see her live tonight in Derry, NH. Hearing songs in person when you’ve had the original stuck in your brain for years is a weird experience. She’s probably not going to sound like she did then, but that’s what will make her performance unique.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under '60s, '70s, Disco, Gospel, New Music, Pop, R&B, Soul

Run The Jewels are taken down by the broken prison system in video for “Legend Has It”

Run The Jewels’ newest video places rappers El-P and Killer Mike squarely in the crosshairs of a police state and its standard perceptions that black people and/or rap musicians are criminals.

In the video for “Legend Has It” from RTJ3, the duo mysteriously multiplies as they’re placed in a police lineup. As the song progresses, a little girl, a guy in a full body cast and a nun are later replaced by police officers in the lineup, until just El-P and Killer Mike become the main suspects in an unnamed crime.

Meanwhile, officers discuss who may be guilty, judging by people’s physical description.

“Go with your gut. Which of these gives you a bad feeling?” goes one quote behind the glass. The “woman of God” the body cast guy and the girl are of course let go, until only El-P and Killer Mike are left.

The video also features the view from a dark prison floor, showing the number of incarcerated rising as the decades pass– 1.9 million in 2000 to 2.3 million in 2017. Besides “Legend Has It” being one of the best raps from RTJ3, this is another video where Run The Jewels push boundaries of normalcy as they try to make their point — the U.S. prison system is severely flawed.

There’s quite a lot in the video, but it could have packed even more of a punch if it focused more on those prison numbers.

Watch the video below.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Hip-Hop, New Music, Rap, Run the Jewels, VIdeos

Rebecca Ferguson: I’ll perform at inauguration if I can sing “Strange Fruit”

It’s a New Year.

The U.S. presidential inauguration nears and the line of participants continues to narrow.

British singer Rebecca Ferguson has taken her invitation a step further and today posted she would “graciously accept” Trump’s request to perform at the Jan. 20 inauguration, but only if she can perform “Strange Fruit.”

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-11-16-15-am

“Strange Fruit” is a poem by Abel Meeropol in 1937 and was performed by Billie Holiday in 1939. The melancholy song protests the lynchings of black people by whites and the scourge of racism in America, which is ongoing.

Holiday’s version is haunting, disturbing and explicit. The uneven melody and pointed lyrics, of stinking bodies hanging in the trees “for the wind to suck” are among the most brutal lyrics in American music.

“Pastoral scene of the gallant South/the bulging eyes and the twisted mouth/scent of magnolias, clean and fresh/then the sudden smell of burning flesh” reads part of the song.

It’s been covered numerous times over the years. Nina Simone’s performance  gives the song a wrenched elegance. Jeff Buckley’s acoustic version wanders almost aimlessly, and wallows in the melody. But Holiday’s song grips the hardest and doesn’t let go.

There’s a pretty good chance Ferguson won’t get the chance to perform the song in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, but if her statement generates renewed discussion in the song and its explicit ties to America’s dark history, then she’s done her job.

lynching-of-thomas-sh-007-1

Abel Meeropol was inspired by this image, of the 1930 lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abe Smith, to write “Strange Fruit.” (AP)

 

Leave a comment

Filed under American history, Billie Holiday, Blues, Jeff Buckley, New Music, News, Nina Simone, Poetry, Protest music

The Julie Ruin’s Hit Reset is out now

Hit Reset, Kathleen Hanna’s latest installment of her off, on musical project The Julie Ruin, can be ordered online today, but you can still hear it through Spotify and read Ann Powers’ take on the album at NPR Music here.

If you haven’t heard Hit Reset yet, Hanna sounds just as good as the first Julie Ruin album, a bit more reserved than Le Tigre, and with all the fire she’s had since she was 9, when she first heard Gloria Steinem speak.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/4D4vLiYKRycKzBSX1Y1sjg

Watch The Julie Ruin’s video for “I Decide,” with Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee, wearing a Yoko T-shirt, walking down a thoroughfare at South By Southwest.

Leave a comment

Filed under artpunk, Feminist punk, Garage Punk, Hardcore punk, New Music, Punk, Riot-Grrrl, Uncategorized, VIdeos

Hear Justin Timberlake’s new disco hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling”

justin-timberlake-cant-stop-the-feeling

Justin Timberlake tonight dropped the song “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from his upcoming album. Via Complex, MissInfo and 2DopeBoyz, it’s got a happy disco beat that rides from beginning to end. Pharrell’s been at work with JT for this new project, and you can easily hear that influence. It’s still Justin Timberlake’s dance sound, and thank god for that.

“I got that sunshine in my pocket,” he says, and no one can argue with that.

Check out the audio here, and you can grab it on iTunes as well. The song was set to premier on Friday but apparently has leaked. A piece of the song was already previewed though.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Dance, Music News, New Music, New R&B, Uncategorized

Open Windows 1: New music bits and bytes this week

The year 2016 might not be new at this point, but I plan to make a habit out of this: Tired of not having time to properly blog about everything I want to hear and learn more about, I’m just going to pile up those dozens of web pages with album streams and bandcamp goodies I save through the week, then check out what I like and paste it all here, along with a quick note or two. This way, I’m not totally abandoning them, but at least giving them a more permanent bookmark for readers and the blog — There’s that much good music out there, every day, every week.

First thing’s first:

iggy_pop0

Stream Iggy Pop and Josh Homme’s new album, Post Pop Depression at NPR. Not much more to be said, just the godfather of punk laying down the law with grit and grime, with help from a rock god.

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/469693145/469806971

Oh Bree is a nine-piece orchestral punk band from Philadelphia who’s just put out a four-song EP, just out March 11, Feed Me Poison:

 

Kristin Welchez, aka Dee Dee, Dum Dum Girls’ leader, is back with a new project, the aptly named Kristin Kontrol. Check out “X-Communicate” and revisit the retro-rock ’80s sound Welchez is so good at. The new album is out May 27 on Sub Pop.

 

Noise rap outfit Dalek from NJ has a new single “Guaranteed Struggle,” their first music since 2009. Just make sure you’re in the right headspace for this addictive hummer. Their album, Asphalt For Eden is out April 22 on Profound Lore.

 

Sheer Mag came out with four new songs a few weeks ago, the EP III 7″, and everyone went mad. Catchy, fresh emo-rock, with intelligent lyrics about these shitty economic times.

 

Mitski’s album Puberty 2 won’t be out until June 17, but better find out about her now so you won’t be left behind. Mitski was raised on Japanese pop, and folk records and loves MIA — a compelling hybrid. You can only hear one song from the album so far on Bandcamp, the powerful and bleeding tome “Your Best American Girl,” and that will have to tide you over for now.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Garage Punk, New Music, Noise rap, Noise rock, Open Windows New Music, Post-punk, Shoegaze, Uncategorized

Lush synths lend beauty to Let’s Eat Grandma’s B-side, “Sink”

“Sink,” the trip-hoppy B-side to Let’s Eat Grandma’s experimental debut single, “Deep Six Textbook,” sounds nothing like “Deep Six” and is every bit as good.

Lush strings of high-pitched notes mesh with a funky gothic synth line that oozes the song forward. Rosa and Jenny rap-sing broad, mysterious lines like “To retain the blame is a heavy weight/ I need your help to unblock it …. under the influence of the norm.”

Later, “And I just didn’t know what to say” is repeated and warped as it echoes away amid mounting feedback. The duo, Rosa and Jenny, share vocals and sound as close as sisters.

The beautiful oddness of “Sink” will only feed the fire ahead of their debut album, which is still months away.

2016_LetsEatGrandma_press_080216.hero

Let’s Eat Grandma, recently signed teen instrumentalists Rosa and Jenny, are from Norwich, England. They’re already selling out shows in England and will play at the Great Escape Festival in Brighton on May 19 – 21.

Let’s Eat Grandma is on Transgressive, with new music set for release Sept. 2.

Leave a comment

Filed under alternative, Ambient pop, Experimental, New Music, Synth-pop, Trip-Hop, Uncategorized

FKA twigs is back with sleeper hit ‘Good To Love’

FKA twigs is back again with a rather mellow R&B song, by her standards. “Good To Love” is pretty tame when you compare it the material on last year’s steamy Melissa EP, but it’s still distinctly twigs. Her vocals can range from a growl to a delicate vibrato, and her pretty vocals on “Good To Love” betray a deeper sadness when she says, “make my body come alive/I’ve got right to hurt inside.”

 

The video for “Good To Love” is completely disorienting; shooting it in black and white doesn’t help right your brain. Footage balances out between white sheets and tight shots of FKA twigs and her interpretive dance moves.

Twigs offers this description: “This whole video is a visual representation of me trying to wake up in the morning.” Knowing what we know about twigs, this is probably accurate.

fkatwigsgoodtolove-619

There’s no word on whether “Good To Love” is part of an upcoming EP, but it’s good to see her putting out new music again.

Leave a comment

Filed under Alt R&B, avante garde, Electronic, indietronica, New Music, R&B, Trip-Hop, Uncategorized, VIdeos

TEEN masters the ’80s cable-access TV look for the video ‘Free Time’

You have to admire TEEN for doing things exactly how they want. The Brooklyn-based female quartet has always leaned toward the abstract, warped side of things, mixing space rock with indie-pop and ’70s psychedelic ephemera. No one makes music quite like TEEN, and they go all in, right down to their new video for “Free Time,” below.

The purple-hazy video features dancer Becca Kauffman from Ava Luna, and who also directs the video, which was shot straight to VHS (!) by Mika Altskan at Rollgate Studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

According to Kauffman:

‘Free Time’” was inspired by the 1980’s public access television performances of R. Stevie Moore, the post-punk choreographer Michael Clark’s videodance collaborations with his musical contemporaries, and the barebones production quality and interpretive dance accompaniment to Sid Harvey Fisher’s Astrology Songs.

Listen to “Free Time,” “All About Us” and “Tokyo” on Soundcloud:

“Free Time” is off their new album Love Yes, out now on Carpark Records. They’ve kicked off their North American tour and will perform at SXSW on March 16-20.

Feb 19 Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar

Feb 20 Lakewood, OH @ Mahall’s

Feb 21 Chicago, IL @ Hideout Inn

Feb 22 Cincinnati, OH @ Monday Night at the Comet

Feb 24 New Haven, CT @ BAR FREE SHOW

Feb 25 Burlington, VT @ Signal Kitchen

Feb 26 Stony Brook, NY @ Stony Brook University

Feb 27 Hudson, NY @ Half Moon

Mar 09 Richmond, VA @ Gallery 5

Mar 10 Asheville, NC @ Tiger Mountain

Mar 11 Charleston, SC @ Tin Roof

Mar 12 Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn

Mar 13 Birmingham, AL @ Syndicate Lounge

Mar 14 Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon
Mar 16-20 Austin, TX @ SXSW

Mar 21 El Paso, TX @ Lowbrow Palace

Mar 24 Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress

Mar 25 San Diego, CA @ Whistle Stop Bar

Mar 26 Los Angeles, CA @ Breezer Vol. I at Fais Do-Do

Mar 28 Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court

Mar 29 Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive

Mar 31 Omaha, NE @ O’Leaver’s

Apr 01 Iowa City, IA @ Gabe’s

Apr 02 Grand Rapids, MI @ Ladyfest GR

Apr 04 Detroit, MI @ Marble Bar

Apr 05 Toronto, ON @ The Silver Dollar Room

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Indie, Indie pop, New Music, Psychedelic, Tour Dates, Uncategorized, VIdeos

Let’s Eat Grandma, UK’s oldest teen duo, release “Deep Six Textbook”

Let’s Eat Grandma are two teens from Norwich, UK — Rosa and Jenny, 16 and 17 who have been creating sludgy pop feelings since they were 14. In the world of new music, that’s extremely young. While their voices sound young as well, the moody music they create seems wise beyond their years, combined.

They’re also multi-instrumentalists, in case you’re wondering if they’re solely vocalists with a backing group.

Lets-Eat-Grandma_Sarah-Corlett

Watch LEG’s video for “Deep Six Textbook,” where they drop down onto wet sand and just appear to be really close friends and look like sisters (they’ve been best friends since about 4). They filmed the video at Cromer, on the Norfolk coast, and appear to be the only two people on the planet there.

Rosa and Jenny also created the artwork for “Deep Six Textbook.”

Let’s Eat Grandma (LEG) have signed to Transgressor and their debut is scheduled to appear this summer.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Experimental, New Music, Sludge, Sludge Pop, Uncategorized, VIdeos