Friday, July 25, 2014
Arguably the hardest working band in show business, Brooklyn natives The So So Glos' most recent collection of perfect punk entitled 'Blow Out' dropped in February. On the sublime tracks "All of the Time" and "Speakeasy" are echoes of The Clash, The Stooges, The Kinks and The Ramones, but they have managed to forge a sound of their own.
The excellent videos for the two album tracks have shockingly few views on YouTube despite a loyal fan base: "All of the Time" directed by Daniel Ralston is a textbook example of less-is-more, whereas "Speakeasy" is a comparatively big production number with a clever commentary on the Age of the Smartphone; it was directed and edited by Chris Elia.
The quartet has more than a dozen dates left of their current North American tour; half of those will be opening gigs for Stiff Little Fingers. Between October 7 and 25 they will be touring Ireland, the UK and continental Europe with fellow Brooklynites The Hold Steady.
Monday, July 21, 2014
20-year-old singer-songwriter Rae Morris drops her second EP 'Cold' on July 29. On the stellar title track she has teamed up with fellow British tunesmith Benjamin Garrett aka Fryars who also co-stars with Morris in the cleverly choreographed video.
Her debut EP 'From Above' was released last year; it includes the beautiful "Wait a While" for which a clip was shot at the famous arcade in her native Blackpool.
Morris is currently touring the UK; there are also two shows in Switzerland (July 31) and Germany (September 18) scheduled. Between October 13 and November 2 she will be opening for George Ezra on his extensive European tour: first gig is in Dublin, last one in Copenhagen.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
A big radio hit here in the U.S. since its release earlier this year, SomeKindaWonderful's superb single "Reverse" sounds like Phil Spector producing Cee Lo Green in the 1960s, with some samples from a Ennio Morricone spaghetti western score sprinkled on just for kicks. Jordy Towers' outstanding voice is wisely given the spotlight on this outstanding track; the arrangement and production are supportive as opposed to suffocating. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, that can't be said for the remaining somewhat oddly eclectic material on the band's self-titled debut album which dropped June 23. Instead, Towers' vocals too often are buried in the mix, not to mention distorted. It's a crying shame. (Puzzling also is the lack of music videos so far; the clip that currently accompanies "Reverse" consists only of the song lyrics and repetitive artwork.)
Frustrated in Los Angeles after feeling an Interscope record deal had taken him in a wrong direction career wise, Towers retreated to suburban Cleveland, Ohio to lick his wounds, staying with a cousin. He soon found himself jamming one night at a local bar with drummer Ben Schiegel and guitarist Matt Gibson who happened to be looking for a singer. After about four hours spent in Schiegel's studio down the street the same night, the trio of new friends had come up with "Reverse." Keyboardist Steve and percussionist/backing vocalist Sarah were added later.
The quintet's spring/summer concert schedule will wrap Saturday July 26 as part of the music lineup at the week-long World Series of Beach Volleyball event right here in Long Beach. An extensive U.S. fall tour, opening for Danish band New Politics, runs from October 17 to November 30.
NOTE: Their stellar and very different take on 2Pac's classic 1995 anthem "California Love" is not on the debut full-length.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Bali, Indonesia born bona fide piano prodigy Joey Alexander turned eleven years old June 25, yet is already playing like a journeyman. This weekend, as part of the annual Copenhagen Jazz Festival, he wraps up a ten-date engagement (with his trio put together for the occasion) at The Standard club which opened last September on the waterfront, just around the corner from Nyhavn; it was co-founded by renowned Danish musician Niels Lan Doky who is also the music director.
Learning the keyboard at age six, Joey soon began favoring jazz instead of classical, listening to records and teaching himself by ear at seven. The following year he relocated to Jakarta with his parents and began performing at jazz festivals/events and participating in contests, several of which he won. In May of this year one of his biggest heroes, trumpeter/composer Wynton Marsalis invited him to perform at the Jazz at the Lincoln Center in NYC.
Not bad. Not bad at all.
Monday, July 7, 2014
After self-releasing 'EP1' in 2012 and dropping 'EP2' via UK label Young Turks last year, FKA twigs (born Tahliah Barnett) has taken the next logical step and named her eagerly awaited debut full-length 'LP1'; it will be out August 12.
The 26-year-old London based singer-songwriter-dancer also co-creates most of her videos, including the controversial 2013 clip for the track 'Papi Pacify'. Her new video for the upcoming album track "Two Weeks" however was shot by acclaimed L.A. based Iranian-American-Australian director/photographer Nabil Elderkin who has done his finest work in several high profile clips for Frank Ocean.
FKA twig has nine dates scheduled for July and August in the UK and North America; only one of these shows is a festival gig.
http://fkatwi.gs/# (incl. tour schedule)
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Singer-songwriter-guitarist-producer Ryan Adams releases his first full-length in three years on September 9, two months before his 40th birthday November 5. The self-titled 11-track album's opener will be "Gimme Something Good" and is also the teaser single, released digitally as well as a 7-inch yesterday. No video yet, but judging from the stellar audio track, come September, something very good indeed is in store for his many loyal fans.
He has six shows scheduled this summer, including a performance Friday July 25 at the legendary three-day Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island, held since 1959.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Many know his composition "Across 110th Street" from the 1972 film of same title, and later used on the soundtracks to Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997) and Ridley Scott's American Gangster (2007), but Bobby Womack contributed so much more to music history, not least the legendary and hugely influential 1981 album 'The Poet' which featured some of L.A.'s best session musicians, including bassist Nathan East, guitarist David T. Walker and drummer James Gadson.
For singers especially, it is vital to have a distinctive voice and Womack was blessed with an unmistakable baritone which he could effortlessly turn from honey smooth to a sandpaper rough in a nano second. In addition, he was a highly gifted guitarist who was able to create sublime riffs, chords and changes that together with his vocals give the listener a natural high.
His many accomplishments and recordings from a 50-year long career are too numerous to list here. I have highlighted 'The Poet', not only because it is a flawless, timeless album, but because it showcases Womack's immense talent for masterful genre "cross pollination", in this case seamlessly mixing soul, gospel, R&B, funk, blues, jazz, rock, rock 'n roll, and country.
R.I.P. Bobby Womack, March 4, 1944 - June 27, 2014.