India Arie has released her first single since 2013, a hymn titled “Breathe.” As one writer put it, the track “serves as a guiding mantra, a means of dialing back the hurt and frustration that flooded the collective consciousness of the world in these trying weeks and shows us how to process, how to simply ‘Breathe.’” Watch the song’s video after the jump....more
For those of you nostalgic for Warped Tour summers, all ages shows at community centers, and taking your skateboard literally everywhere (you’re right, it was totally messed up that they weren’t down with boards in the mall’s Olive Garden), we’ve got some good news: NOFX is coming out with a new album....more
Sly and the Family Stone’s anarchic album There’s a Riot Goin’ On, released in 1971 following several tumultuous years in America, has been called “blunt and unflinching” and “very much informed by drugs” and “paranoia.” While the funk group’s creative dynamo, Sly Stone, had indeed been sidelined by drug abuse for months, his disillusionment with the failed promise of the 60s permeates the album....more
Mild High Club’s sophomore release, Skiptracing, is out on Stones Throw and gathering some pretty enviably wild descriptions from reviewers. Alex Brettin’s sound is described in psych-loungey terms like, “smooth, psychedelic jazz/funk infusions with spacey tinges that sound like warped AM radio hits from another galaxy.” Intergalactic metaphors abound, with another reviewer claiming one track, “Homage,” “opens a door onto a colorful, dreamy outer-space place, arpeggios gliding across the page like comets.” Another argues that through the album’s noir conceit, this alien vibe is satisfyingly recast over a remembered past: “…in investigating the spirit of American music, Mild High Club re-imagine AM radio hits as blasting in from a parallel universe, the sound of early ’70s LA in a smog of sativa.”...more
In a piece on a new production of Mozart’s “Abduction from the Seraglio,” the New York Times makes a case for this old art form’s role as an agent of change in our tumultuous cultural reality:
For centuries, opera has been a tool of power, a spectacle developed and organized by influential Western nations and the elites within them.
That vinyl has experienced a resurgence is a much exhausted topic, with LPs selling at large lifestyle stores and cutesy budget turntables available from any number of the same. But most labels who release albums on vinyl also release them electronically, through some combination of free-download-with-purchase promos, SoundCloud accounts, iTunes sales, etc....more
An official documentary about Marvin Gaye is finally in the works, and has been approved by the late singer’s family. The film will be titled What’s Going On, Marvin? and will center around the making of the seminal album. The artist’s children released a joint statement about their excitement for the film, saying:
Our father was complex, but we are confident that with Noah Media Group’s attention to detail and their dedication to the truth, the positive, inspirational and aspirational aspects of his life will be handled and shared with the world in a way never seen before.
Soul guitarist Willie Hale is perhaps most widely-known for his head-bopping contribution to Betty Wright’s hit song, “Clean Up Woman,” and maybe just as widely recognized for his nickname, Little Beaver. He apparently received the nickname in honor of his prominent teeth....more
In addition to his song “Spiritual,” which deals with the issue of police brutality, Jay Z has released a playlist of songs to get us through the crushing violence lately exposed by social media. “Songs for Survival” includes music by Beyoncé, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, Common, Outkast, Gil Scott-Heron, Fela Kuti, Kendrick Lamar, Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Kanye West, and others....more
Now that Prince’s death has officially been linked to opiate use—an accidental overdose of Fentanyl, the be specific—some artists are heeding the icon’s death as a warning to get their own opiate use in check. Chaka Khan, who counted Prince as a friend, has checked herself into rehab to treat her own Fentanyl use....more
The violence of the past days has left the nation in a state of shock, and citizens are reacting with the full range of human responses to crisis. Many artists can be counted among those who demand we respond as a country to the violence against black bodies....more
While promoting his new show Roadies, Cameron Crowe was asked to recount the most ridiculous tour story he’d ever heard. Of course the story had to do with a crazy demand made by Axl Rose:
There was a guy that worked with Guns N’ Roses, and there was a show and Axl Rose needed a yellow jacket that he’d left in England before he would perform.
Male siblings seem to dominate many famous musical groups. Examples range from contemporary bands like Kings of Leon and The National to household names like The Jackson 5, The Beach Boys, The Allman Brothers, The Isley Brothers and The Neville Brothers....more
Freetown Sound, Dev Hynes’s third album under the moniker Blood Orange, is garnering praise for both its sound and its substantial examination of racial identity. Pitchfork writes, “Freetown resonates with everyone sagging under the weight of systemic oppression.” Consequence of Sound’s review celebrated Hynes’s achievement in the marriage of sound and subject matter:
Hynes has built a career of combining seemingly divergent and outdated musical genres to find emotional resonance, and in that sense Freetown Sound is the culmination of what he’s been building towards.
Elvis Presley’s lead guitarist passed away this week in Nashville at the age of 84, and in tribute the Guardian has published a piece discussing how the musician shaped Elvis’s country-blues rockabilly sound so evident in songs like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Mystery Train,” and “Jailhouse Rock.”
Scotty Moore’s legacy can possibly best be mapped through how he paved the way for other lead guitarists....more
For years, people have been referring to lost sessions featuring Betty Davis and her former husband Miles Davis playing with bending genres, with Betty Davis introducing the jazz giant to Jimi Hendrix and the sounds of psychedelic rock. Recorded from 1968-1969 at Columbia’s 52nd Street studios, the mythic sessions laid the groundwork for the mix of jazz and psychedelia that later coalesced in Miles Davis’s radically innovative Bitches Brew....more
“Yesterday I woke up sucking on lemon,” sings Thom Yorke in the enthralling first song from Radiohead’s groundbreaking 2000 album, Kid A, which Rolling Stone called the “weirdest Number One album of the year.” Take what you will from Yorke’s reference to lemons—their bitterness, the possibility of making lemonade out of them—but the message in the title of this thrumming, synth-centered single is like an uplifting koan....more
The Internet’s been freaking out about Kanye West’s latest bid to be the center of all things surreal about our culture: his video for the track “Famous” features breathing sculptures of celebrities who may or may not have given permission for their likenesses to be represented naked, as if asleep, and in bed together....more
The Atlanta-based post-punk band is releasing their first album, Deluxe, on July 8th and have been garnering anticipatory kudos around the Internet. Raven Sings the Blues wrote, “All the songs on their debut, Deluxe are bent and battered into metal shapes, though it’s their vocals that betray their new wave nods under the veneer of true grit punk spirit,” and Pitchfork noted that the group has “caught that essential combination of steely rigor and fiery energy, ripping out quick gems that exude control without sacrificing guts.” The trio includes Frankie Broyles (formerly of Deerhunter), Billy Mitchell, and Philip Frobos (of Carnivores)....more
There has much apprehension following last week’s vote in favor of a British withdrawal from the EU. Some are predicting what the change will mean for the region’s music industry. PJ Harvey reacted to the vote by stopping mid-performance to read John Donne’s “No Man Is an Island.” Liam and Noel Gallagher, Bat for Lashes, Blood Orange, Lilly Allen, Disclosure, and plenty other British artists went to social media to express their own frustration, with more than a few also referencing the Donne poem....more
A long list of known and respected musicians from a wide variety of genres have signed a petition against the systemic enabling of illegal streaming provided by entities such as YouTube and Google.
The petition urges Congress to reform the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which protects companies that host user sharing from being held accountable for copyright infringement if they take down offending videos or songs when requested by the artist....more
Frank Ocean has released a message about the Orlando shooting that is mournfully beautiful in both its reflection on the hate that fueled the attacks and the hope for a counter-balancing beauty to emerge in its wake:
I heard on the news that the aftermath of a hate crime left piles of bodies on a dance floor this month.