This Labor Day weekend, a number of festivals took place across the nation. There was the North Coast Music Festival in Chicago, the Bumbershoot in Seattle, and Electric Zoo in New York (which ended a day early due to two fatalities). Then there was the Made In America festival in Philadelphia. The Benjamin Franklin Parkway was closed off in its entirety for this new American festival, which is only in it's second year running. Made In America was started and developed by Jay Z, with help from Budweiser, In its first year, the festival included names like Kanye West, Pearl Jam, Skrillex, The Hives, Afrojack, and Jay Z himself. For their sophomore year, they offered the talents of Beyoncé, Nine Inch Nails, Phoenix, 2 Chainz, Empire of the Sun, and so much more. It was destined to be a great festival because of such a line up, but we would have never thought that it would have left such a lasting impression on us.
After a year long hiatus, TV on the Radio’s (TVOTR) latest album, released April 12, features musings of the heart at its center, providing an entirely new perspective from the rock group that is so customarily attentive to cultural critique.
Nine Types of Light showcases TVOTR’s persistent experimentation and cultural subversion at its core, but it contrasts the band’s most recent highly-acclaimed albums, Return to Cookie Mountain (2006) and Dear Science (2008). It translates on first listen almost like serene pop/r&b meditation but the production reveals a deeper tone: the simplicity of the lyrics (still reasonably mutinous) mixed with the variant reverberations, effects, and genre play, display a minimalist quality that speaks volumes to the complexity of restraint. This is most evident on tracks, “Keep Your Heart,” and, “You,” where vocals range from an almost sung-spoken baritone to ethereal falsetto, juxtaposed with a gracefully simple mesh of instrumentation. "Second Song" is a call to listeners and lovers alike to “shift their minds to the light,” while pulsating drum beats and resounding trumpets keep the keen ear alert. “Will Do,” the first single released off the album is reminiscent of TVOTR’s signature style, and is probably the finest example of the synthesis between TVOTR’s complex production abilities and their new love-themed direction because it compromises the two musical identities most evenly.
In her first ever hip-hop collaboration, Sade released a remix to her track "The Moon and The Sky" featuring Jay-Z. The original track from her latest album Soldier of Love traces a female's emotions pining over a love lost, and one in which she speaks philosophically to her ex-lover yearing to know the reasons their love didn't last: "You'll always know/ the reason why/ we couldn't have/ the moon and the sky."
Jay-Z steps in as the voice of the male counterpart, expressing his shortcomings and perspective on the relationship's demise: "I know we could of had it all/ I wasn't ready to go steady no not at all/ Smoking mirrors clouding my vision we hit a wall/ Couldn't see the moon and the sky behind the fog..." Jay-Z further speaks to the female, telling her speculation is useless: "You always thought 'what if'/ but that 'a just drive you crazy baby girl interrupted/ thinking about what wasn't/ thinking about what was it?"
Marsha Ambrosius has already told fans: do not expect a sound similar to her mixtapes. Late Nights and Early Mornings will have a more aggressive edge to it. The album will feature appearances from heavy hitters Alicia Keys, Dre and Vidal, and Just Blaze; writing credits are credited to Lauryn Hill.
Marsha Ambrosius came to the United States as part of the hip-hop duo Floetry. The duo went on to record two studio albums, and one live album. Floetry sold over 800,000 albums worldwide. They have written songs for Jill Scott, Jazmine Sullivan, and Michael Jackson.
When Adele Adkins sung her way into the music world in 2008 with "19", her nationality, voice, lyrical content, and musical style drew comparisons to Amy Winehouse and her well received "Back to Black".
Though both albums were forays into pop soul; that is where the comparisons should have stopped. Amy Winehouse, despite her dependence on drugs, alcohol, and a seemingly emotionally abusive relationship with Balek Fielder-Civil, Amy Winehouse's talent to emote her passion, love, and despair through her expressive lyrics and voice still shone through.
Patrick Stump has had a very interesting few months. His band Fall Out Boy has gone on hiatus, he's lost what seems to be at least fifteen pounds, and has also announced a solo project named SoulPunk with a scheduled release date for next month.
What else is the man going to do? Become a youtube sensation? Why not.
A few days ago Stump recorded an a capella version melody of five songs from the five albums nominated for Grammy's highest honor: Album of the Year.
And the praise has been falling in since, which stumps Stump since he recorded the video to let lose some songs that were stuck in his head.
With a frenzy Stump seems to be stirring, all that is necessary is the official release date of SoulPunk, to really make 2011 his year.
The drummer begins the set with an explosive solo. Two backup singers walk up to their mics and sing, “You cant keep me down, don’t you know I’m a lion, I’m the baddest in town.” Yahzarah walks onto stage wearing bright yellow shades and short, cropped blonde hair. From the moment she opens her mouth it's clear that her voice is bigger than any of the other singers. Her songs move between spoken word and melody. Her music ties together her influences from jazz, rock and soul, while exuding energy and funk.
Bilal enters with a single guitar solo and is quickly joined by the bass and piano. It sounds like something out of Memphis, Tennessee. Bilal steps onto the stage wearing a red beanie, black shades, a white shirt and black leather jacket. Ten minutes in he says, “I was trying to be cool, but fuck that leather coat,” and throws it to the side of the stage. The hat and glasses will come off in due time.
New York City is where everyone goes to "make it," and accordingly, only a very small portion succeed. Countless numbers of actors, artists, writers, musicians, and other “professionals” have ultimately been forced to turn tail and retreat from a city that exemplifies the “dog eat dog” mentality. Rising proudly from the slew of undocumented failures that this city has aborted is The London Souls. When contemporary musicians spend their time experimenting with electronics that clog a stage faster than dreadlocks caught in an overhead fan, The London Souls occupy their time refining their soulful, blues-rock influence into a rocking sound that quickly fills any listener with the warm comfort of a traditional rock feeling. They play fervently with decades of musical influence under their belts and convert that energy into a show ripe with power, charisma, and an overall rock and roll sound that is equally fresh and familiar at the same time, not to mention loud. I got the chance to speak with this unique group of musicians about their music, their influences, the importance of having fun, and playing rock and roll music in the fickle New York music scene.
At 5'6", O'Neal McKnight's presence is far from intimidating. Dressed casually, with a friendly, open demeanour, you would never know that this man has the ear of some of the most celebrated names in the music industry. Perhaps his name is not as well known as that of his cousin Andre Harrell, but from dancing with Outkast, to styling Mystikal, and recording an album with Busta Rhymes, O'Neal McKnight's impressive list of talents and qualities show that there is much, much more than meets the eye.
“I think Mayer is the only artist in the history of the label that I’ve signed after hearing only two songs. Sometimes, you just know it’s the right thing to do.” -Peanut Butter Wolf
When Mayer Hawthorne was introduced to Stones Throw records label head Peanut Butter Wolf, the veteran hip-hop producer couldn’t understand what this clean-cut, white boy from Ann Arbor, Michigan, was trying to sell him. The demo songs that Hawthorne played for the label head sounded like something from a smoky, noir-erotic film from the late 60s. Wolf recalls, “I asked him if they were old songs that he did re-edits of – I couldn’t believe they were new songs and that he played all the instruments.”