Archive For The “Music” Category

Portraying Celia: The Role Of A Lifetime (Or Two)

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Portraying Celia: The Role Of A Lifetime (Or Two)

Aymée Nuviola portrayed Celia Cruz in the Cuban telenovela Celia.

Courtesy of NBC Telemundo


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Sometimes destiny seems to drop a little hint of goodness you could never imagine coming your way. For Cuban-born Aymée Nuviola and Puerto Rican-born Jeimy Osorio destiny played out to the tune of Celia Cruz.

Aymée Nuviola was a young singer with Pachito Alonso’s orchestra when she met the legendary “Queen of Salsa” at a wedding in Mexico. It was a brief encounter that sparked an affinity between the two Afro-Cuban singers who were far from their homeland. Cruz offered up a little career advice and as she was leaving, took off her big, stone earrings and gave them to Nuviola.

Whether Cruz was symbolically passing the torch, or honoring an unspoken hermandad (sisterhood), it struck Nuviola. “It was a beautiful moment,” she recalls. “She was very kind,” contrary to things Nuviola had been told in Cuba. “I felt that she was special …. And when I saw her spontaneous gesture I did the same; I took my own off and gave them to her.” She says of the exchange, “It surprises me even today.”

Some 20 years later, Nuviola would have more to wear than those earrings – she would be donning Cruz’s entire persona. She was one of two actresses who landed the role of a lifetime playing the late icon in a Telemundo broadcast docudrama simply titled Celia. Nuviola was cast as the maturing singer to appear about two thirds of the way into the ambitious 80-episode series chronicling her life.

Meanwhile in Paris, emerging singer and professional actress Jeimy Osorio was between gigs and celebrating the New Year when she “asked the universe for guidance.” The next song that came up on her playlist shuffle was “Yo Viviré,” Cruz’s post-Cuba “I Will Survive” remix affirming her resilient musical strength. It was 12:00am. Osorio says she “just knew” it was a sign. Months before, she had met a couple of guys at a gathering who asked her to sing a cappella. Unbeknownst to her, they were the producer and casting director of Celia. Their phone recording of her singing became a sort of pre-audition. She had been singing Cruz songs for a recent role she held. Just 18 days after her “sign,” she formally auditioned and was later offered the role of Cruz as a young rising star.

When it aired in 2015, the series put a powerful spotlight on Afro-Latinas and on the racism and machismo Cruz had to navigate through in a male-dominated industry. Both actresses related to obstacles presented in their parts. For the younger Osorio, one of those was withstanding parental discouragement from following her dream as a performer. By the time she auditioned for Celia she had roles in musicals and on such telenovelas as Una Maid en Manhattan and Porque El Amor Manda.

Unlike Osorio, Nuviola was a novice at acting. It was her musical chops that caught the eyes of the director and casting director, along with having uncanny parallels to Cruz’s life. “We are both from poor neighborhoods of Havana,” she says. “We were teachers. We are Afro-Cubans with all the pros and cons that that brings. We both won singing contests that helped us succeed in Cuba very young. We were immigrants in Mexico and the United States and then we achieved success outside of Cuba with years and much, much sacrifice.”

She got off to a fearful start, but by the second day in a production that — just for the section she appeared in — took some eight months, Nuviola was more at ease. “When I filmed for the second time, I felt that Celia was inhabiting me.” The scene was an intimate backstage conversation with her husband before walking out to a packed Yankee Stadium concert flanked by the Fania All Stars. “She talks about her love for him, about the family and about the show” while sitting at the make-up mirror. “And she sings a little bit and dedicates the song to him.”

What led up to that moment was an entire year of preparation sandwiched between international concerts. Nuviola describes a meticulous undertaking. “I watch[ed] many of her videos, interviews, photographs, her many anecdotes about her personal and artistic life.” She wanted to capture Cruz’s “great love for her husband” and also looked for similarities between Cruz and herself. “I want[ed] everything to flow naturally,” she says.

It was an extraordinary assignment for a new actor to inhabit probably the world’s most well-known and respected Latin music performer. Cruz’s remarkable career generated over 70 albums, numerous Grammys and Latin Grammys, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, inductions into Billboard‘s Latin Music Hall of Fame and the International Latin Music Hall of Fame and an exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History aptly titled after her signature phrase, ¡Azucar! (Sugar!)

The theme song of the series is her popular “La Negra Tiene Tumbao” (The Black Woman has Rhythm). It is among a number of Cruz’s signature songs that were re-recorded for the series, which was produced in Colombia by the production company Fox TeleColombia and the broadcast network RCN.

Another singer was a key member of the portrayal: Patricia Padilla, whose voice was a close match with Cruz’s powerhouse low alto, was brought in to record the singer’s repertoire. Osorio says she and Nuviola interchangeably recorded vocals with Padilla. When the actors sang on camera, Padilla re-recorded their vocals to their movements. And when Padilla’s vocals were leading, the actresses had to lip-sync to them.

Jeimy Osorio as Celia Cruz in the telenovela Celia.

Courtesy of NBC Telemundo


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Courtesy of NBC Telemundo

Cruz was widely known for Cuban son. Her embrace of many other pan-Latin rhythms primed her international rise as the “Queen of Salsa” during New York City’s salsa explosion in a male-dominated arena. What was striking about Cruz was her ability to explore, evolve and adapt while staying true to herself. Despite adversity, nothing seemed to dampen her reverence for life or the contagious joy that lit up the stage and the spaces she shared with others.

Nuviola says that it was a “great honor … to be able to play the role of the greatest Latin artist of the 20th century,” and that letting go of her character was a shock. Playing Cruz required tapping into the twists and turns in the life of a joyous soul that had been forced into exile and the rage of being barred from attending to her dying mother. “When the cameras were turned off for the last scene we recorded I felt that they took ‘me’ away in an instant! Something that had taken me months to make mine, and something that lived in me,” she says. “… my nails, my hair, my clothes — everything. In only an instant I had to leave everything that I had built. I was sad, too.”

Both actresses say that beyond the series, Cruz’s legacy has had a profound effect on their lives.

“She is not only greatness as an artist but she had an immense charisma,” recalls Nuviola, who helps to preserve her legacy by adding a medley of Cruz songs to her shows. “She helped those in need … [like her work with] the non-profit institution named La Liga Contra el Cancer in Miami that helped hundreds of cancer patients every year …. She transmitted happiness and joy and hope.”

The advice Cruz offered her so long ago when destiny smiled down at them? “She advised me that I had to be strong in this career and take care of myself to be able to achieve success.”

According to Osorio, the long hours of filming “felt really light” because of the reverence and respect for Celia that flowed on the set. She says that working on Celia was a “parte aguas;” a life altering experience. That “every day was magical. I felt her all the time. She’s an energy — she’s not just a performer — she’s a living energy. An instrument of peace. She was a product of self-love, love for her people, love for her country, love for everyone.”

“She made herself be respected in a world of men. Her message is that you can do anything,” Osorio says. We don’t need to be empowered — we’re already powerful. Knowing that I am the owner of my story and I can create everything I want, I haven’t stopped dreaming since Celia.”

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Through Grief and Growing Pains, Kemba Creates ‘Gilda’

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Through Grief and Growing Pains, Kemba Creates ‘Gilda’

Kemba’s latest album, Gilda, is out now.

Logan Poe/Courtesy of the artist


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Logan Poe/Courtesy of the artist

Grief can feel like a new world emerging, swallowing up the reality you once knew and expanding into something entirely all-consuming. New York rapper Kemba used that monolithic feeling to create his major label debut album, Gilda, a record that pays tribute to his mother who passed away two years ago.

Kemba’s mother raised him and his two brothers in The Bronx, N.Y., a place that gave him little choice but to be immersed in hip-hop

“Coming from The Bronx, I was forced and raised to study the history and different artists’ technical abilities,” he says. “Whether it was similes, metaphors, inner rhyming, I know all of that stuff, but so do a lot of other people. I think my perspective is what makes my music unique.”

Kemba says his mother helped shape this perspective. The rapper remembers her as a fighter and a self-starter, equally determined to improve herself and shed light on others around her. “I really learned from watching her,” Kemba says. “In my older years, she went to and finished college and got her master’s.”

Kemba also remembers his mother was also always by his side. When he was diagnosed with a tumor on his jaw as a teenager, she was with him every step of the way — even as this setback drew his rap career into question.

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“They told me I shouldn’t rap,” Kemba remembers. “They told me my jaw was so weak that just movement could rip apart the work that they did. That was the first time my mom saw me in a vulnerable way. I was always the strong one of the family, and that just made her break down even more.”

Gilda is named after his mom. Her legacy runs deep through the album, through avenues that are at times heart-wrenching (“Exhale” feat. Smino) and other times, dizzying and chaotic (“Dysfunction.”) Now, with a major label debut, there isn’t anything stopping Kemba from sticking to what he knows.

Kemba spoke with NPR’s Audie Cornish about the themes of Gilda, and the emotional labor that went into making it. Hear their conversation at the audio link.

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Steve Earle & The Dukes On Mountain Stage

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Steve Earle & The Dukes On Mountain Stage

One of the last of the hard-core troubadours, three-time Grammy winner Steve Earle made his seventh appearance on Mountain Stage on June 23 at the Cultural Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. The show occurred during FestivALL, Charleston’s local arts celebration, and featured guest host Kathy Mattea.

Mattea, who used to sing demos for Earle, told the crowd about how she and Earle signed record label deals in Nashville on the same day (which happened to be her 24th birthday). She called Earle someone with “a big brain and a big heart underneath that gruff exterior.”

Earle’s six-song set included songs and stories about his mentor, the late, great country songwriter Guy Clark, who succumbed to cancer on May 17, 2016. (Interestingly, Earle’s first appearance on Mountain Stage back in August 1996 coincided with a performance from Clark.)

Armed with his ace backing band, The Dukes (Brad Pemberton on drums, Kelley Looney on bass, Chris Masterson on guitar and vocals, Eleanor Whitmore on fiddle and vocals, and Ricky Ray Jackson on pedal steel guitar and accordion), Earle started with “Dublin Blues,” the poetic and cinematic title cut from Clark’s 1995 album. He followed it up with three more Clark songs — “Texas 1947,” “Desperados Waiting For A Train,” and “L.A. Freeway” — all from Clark’s 1975 classic, Old No. 1. (You can hear Earle perform these songs in a studio setting on his Clark tribute album, GUY, which came out earlier this year.)

“We were backstage weeping when he sang those Guy Clark songs. They mean so much to so many of us,” Mattea said. “When you write like Steve Earle and choose to make an album of someone else’s songs and steep yourself in someone else’s writing like a tea bag, that says everything about respect.”

After a spirited version of his signature song, “Copperhead Road,” Earle performed a new song, “Union, God and Country,” which he wrote for a play based on the Upper Big Branch Mine coal mine disaster. That play, Coal Country (written by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen), premieres at the Public Theater in New York City in February 2020, and Earle said he is basing his next record on the songs he wrote for the play.

Set List

  • “Dublin Blues”
  • “Texas 1947”
  • “Desperados Waiting For a Train”
  • “L.A. Freeway”
  • “Copperhead Road”
  • “Union, God and Country”

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Angélique Kidjo Celebrates Celia Cruz: ‘Everything About Celia Is Self-Determination’

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Angélique Kidjo Celebrates Celia Cruz: ‘Everything About Celia Is Self-Determination’

Angelique Kidjo’s Celia celebrates the music of Celia Cruz.

Laurent Seroussi/Courtesy of the artist


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Laurent Seroussi/Courtesy of the artist

Turning the Tables aims to reinterpret American music history by putting women front and center. This year, we’re celebrating eight women who invented American popular music — including the legendary Celia Cruz. Her extraordinary career lasted more than 50 years, and before she died in 2003, she had released dozens of albums, won numerous awards (including two Grammys) and earned the title of “The Queen of Salsa.”

Cruz was Cuban, and she always embraced her, and salsa’s, African roots — and West African musician Angélique Kidjo embraced her right back. Kidjo, an Afro-pop legend in her own right, recently sat down with Felix Contreras, host of the NPR podcast Alt.Latino, to talk about the long time influence Cruz had on her career and life. You can listen to the full podcast below, or hear to the radio version of this story via the link above.

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A Sense Of Place Visit To Montmartre, Paris With Keren Ann

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A Sense Of Place Visit To Montmartre, Paris With Keren Ann

Keren Ann performs live for a World Cafe’s Sense Of Place, Paris session.

Kimberly Junod/WXPN


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Kimberly Junod/WXPN

In this special dispatch from Paris, Keren Ann shows us around the artistic neighborhood Montmartre, which has inspired a lot of her writing and is the place she calls home, even though she’s lived in many different places. (She was born in Israel, grew up for a bit in the Netherlands and lived in New York City.)


  • “Sous L’eau”
  • “Bleue”
  • “You’re Gonna Get love”
  • “Nager La Nuit”

We also visit Studios Ferber, where Ann has recorded a lot of music, to hear her perform songs from her latest album, Bleue, with her band. Ann shares insights about using the French language as texture in her music, how the Parisian music scene differs from New York City and how learning to listen to music well when she was a child helped her become a better musician as an adult. Hear the performance in the player.

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Alt.Latino Playlist: Bronx Urbano, Spanish Swing And Brazilian Psych-Rock

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Alt.Latino Playlist: Bronx Urbano, Spanish Swing And Brazilian Psych-Rock

Jenny and the Mexicats are featured in a feast of new music this week.

TONYMADRID/Courtesy of the artist


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TONYMADRID/Courtesy of the artist

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

It’s hard to imagine having a wider swath of Latin music expression as we have this week: OG Latino hip-hop artist Fat Joe teams with a rapper of the moment, a multicultural band plays Spanish swing and members of two Brazilian psych-rock bands unite. If you served drinks in this imaginary get-together ,it would be an excellent party.


Fat Joe, Cardi B & Anuel AA, “YES”

There’s three generations of the Bronx on the latest track off Fat Joe’s upcoming album Family Ties: from the sample of Hector Lavoe’s “Aguanile” to Cardi B’s shoutout to the 5-9 Brims gang. With Anuel AA, the three are an unlikely family. Tied by “Aguanile,” the three make sense together, especially from a car stereo with the windows rolled down as the summer starts to cool off. — Stefanie Fernández


Jenny and the Mexicats, “Bailando Con las Farolas”

A new single from Jenny and the Mexicats is always a reason to yell, “Yay!!” Especially when it features Spanish vocalist El Kanka. “Bailando Con Ls Farolas” will appear on Fiesta Ancestral, continuing the band’s creative streak with music that entertains even as it innovates. — Felix Contreras


Melii, “No Hard Feelings”

Back in March, Harlem Dominican rapper Melii released her first project phAses, and now, she’s already gearing up to release a follow-up EP. “No Hard Feelings” shows a grittier Melii with the same sober honesty, this time on the decline of a toxic romance. Yet Melii treats even this difficult subject with a light touch, explaining on Instagram: “I freestyled to this track same day I cut ‘anime girls’ in Miami while [my makeup artist] handed me henny and joints [laugh-crying emoji].” — Stefanie Fernández


Guaxe, “Desafio do Guaxe”

Formed out of two Brazilian psych-rock bands, Guaxe is the newest project from Dino Almeida of Boogarins and Pedro Bonifrate of Supercordas. Named after a high-flying forest bird that sings synth-like sounds, the group, its self-titled album, and its lead single all seek to mimic the strangeness and beauty of the guaxe with 4-track machines, ambient rainforest sounds, and looped and reversed guitars. All together, Guaxe sounds like the moment you hit water after a jump when time slows, submerged. — Stefanie Fernández

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Brittany Howard Makes Her Declaration As A Solo Star

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Brittany Howard Makes Her Declaration As A Solo Star

“Making this record definitely was just a declaration of who I find myself being,” Brittany Howard says.

Danny Clinch /Courtesy of the artist


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Danny Clinch /Courtesy of the artist

As lead singer and guitarist of Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard has earned her accolades and then some. Since 2009, the band has won four Grammys, performed at the White House and heralded some of roots rock’s biggest hits this decade. Still, Howard feels the urge to try something new every few years.

In 2012, Howard formed the band Thunderbitch with Nashville’s Clear Plastic Masks and Fly Golden Eagle. Then, in 2017, she led a new band, Bermuda Triangle, with Jesse Lafser and Becca Mancari. But before she plotted her next artistic move, Howard did a lot of thinking.

“‘Do I want to do this solo record that I’ve always wanted to do since I was, like, 11 years old when I first picked up the guitar? Or am I going to keep trying to make more Shakes records?,'” Howard remembers thinking. “At the time, when I was rehearsing with the Shakes, it was really not coming to us… The music wasn’t really coming through. So, when I stepped away from that, that’s when things started coming through.”

Now, Howard strikes out on her own. The musician’s debut solo album, Jaime, due out Sept. 20, is named for the older sister Howard adored — the sister who taught her how to play the piano and write poems.

“She was a creative person all around,” Howard remembers. “And when I came into the world, my sister kind of took me by my hand and was like, ‘OK, you know, our family doesn’t have a lot of money but this is how you have fun,’ and just showed me how to use my imagination; how to be creative.”

Jaime died of cancer when the girls were still kids and Howard uses her solo debut to explore how her earliest relationships and the loss of her sister shaped who she is as an artist and a person.

On the album, she sings about what it meant to grow up as a biracial child in Athens, Ala. in the 1990s. The album’s lead single, “History Repeats,” strikes a funky, sweltering groove while “Stay High,” and its accompanying video, channels the spirit Howard’s hardworking father.

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But it’s not all happy memories. On one song called “Goat Head,” Howard recounts an act of racism her parents experienced.

“[My mother] told me the story about how my dad got off work and came to the apartment complex where she lived,” the artist says. “He goes, stays the night, wakes up the next morning, and someone had taken a goat from the co-op — you know, where they raise animals and cattle and stuff — and they had dismembered this animal and put it in my dad’s car. Slashed his tires, broke his windows out of his car and wrote on it, basically, like, ‘Don’t come back here no more.’ And that’s something that really stuck with me.”

As Howard explains, her parents worked hard to shield her from racism as much as possible while she was growing up, but she still picked up on subtle acts of prejudice every now and then: “Growing up, I was just an oddity no matter where I went, you feel me?”

Now, as she steps out on her own, Howard is sure of the solo star she’s presenting to the world.

“I’m a 30 year old woman now. My identity is very clear to me and I don’t have to make it clear to anyone else, because I don’t think that’s important — what anyone else thinks about me, or what box they want to put me in,” she affirms. “But I will say, for myself, making this record definitely was just a declaration of who I find myself being.”

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mxmtoon Leaps From Online To Make Her Debut

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mxmtoon Leaps From Online To Make Her Debut

mxmtoon’s debut album, the masquerade, straddles whimsy and earnest depth.

Nicole Busch/Courtesy of the artist


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Nicole Busch/Courtesy of the artist

With the ease of uploading music online, Internet sensations are made every day. But for one rising bedroom pop artist, it was truly accidental … almost.

Until recently, mxmtoon — who otherwise prefers to go by her first name, Maia — kept her music a secret from the people in her immediate life. Now, with her debut album, the masquerade, mxmtoon is slowly peeling back the layers of her online persona.

Starting at 15 years old, the Oakland, Calif. native would post videos on YouTube from her bedroom under an old screen name, mxmtoon. She would play her ukulele and record covers and original songs quietly after her family had gone to bed. Naturally, mxmtoon sang about what she knew — high school, angst, seasonal depression. One of her first songs, “1-800-DATEME,” was about being single on Valentine’s Day.

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Though she kept this part of herself a secret from loved ones — “I was just so terrified of my family finding out” — the 19-year-old remembers the sense of freedom she felt with each new upload.

“The internet, at that point, allowed me to have this space where I could create my own story and exist and be something other than what I felt like I was stuck as in my day-to-day life,” mxmtoon says.

The teenager kept these two parts of her — Maia at school and mxmtoon online — totally separate for years. That is, until her videos started getting noticed by music publications. As she gained more notoriety, mxmtoon got worried her parents were going to find out about her secret life. It was time to come clean.

“So, I sit my room, take a really deep breath, open the door and walk out to the kitchen. I say, ‘Mom, Dad, I have to tell you something,” she remembers. “It was terrifying to make that jump from something that was so confidential to so public.”

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mxmtoon describes the masquerade as a series of “rhyming diary entries to music” that act as self-serenades. One of the album’s lead singles, “prom dress,” for example, was inspired by her real life prom dress try-off that the artist says quickly divulged to a mini panic attack.

“So much of the themes and the topics of this album are just about, you know, being a teenager and being in that space where you have literally no clue who you are,” mxmtoon says. “You’re trying to figure it out. You don’t know what your story is and how that’s perfectly fine and OK.”

mxmtoon’s the masquerade is out now.

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Viking’s Choice: Cracked Music From The Nurse With Wound List, Hypercolor Rave, More

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Viking’s Choice: Cracked Music From The Nurse With Wound List, Hypercolor Rave, More

Be it prog-rock, free jazz, musique concrète, Krautrock, deranged punk or psych-rock, the experimental music found on the Nurse With Wound List from 1979 could split open a third eye.

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Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

The fastest route to obsolescence is telling y’all that it was better in ye olde days. The truth is that while the mechanisms for music change — rapidly nowadays, it seems — the motivations for discovery don’t. You dig because ya dig, you know?

That said, with digital music’s rise over physical media, we’ve lost liner notes — not just lyrics and layout, but the thank-you section where artists nod to other artists, friends and influences. This is how I found out what my favorite punk bands listened to and promptly made shopping lists the next time I hit up a record store. Not every blind purchase was a winner, but there was a soul-to-soul connection. Is an Instagram Stories shout-out the blink-and-you-missed-it modern equivalent? I don’t know and I don’t judge.

When the British industrial band Nurse With Wound released its debut album, Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella, in 1979, it came with an insert that featured the names of 291 artists that acted less like a thank-you list and more like an anarchic bibliography of the avant-garde. I dug into the “Nurse With Wound List,” as it came to be called, in the mid-2000s as a peer-to-peer network nerd on the hunt for obscure music: Amon Düül (and Amon Düül II), Karlheinz Stockhausen, Univers Zero, Magical Power Mako, Henry Cow, Debris’, Franco Battiato, Taj Mahall Travellers, Iannis Xenakis — decades of radical music made by radical people.

Nurse With Wound would become a force of the avant-garde itself, but the colloquially named NWW List developed a unique culture of its own. Record stores and mail order sites like Aquarius Records — which I celebrated on last week’s column — would send up a flag whenever a new reissue of an out-of-print, NWW List-approved artist would appear. Sharity blogs would tag MP3s “NWW List” even if the connection was tenuous at best, or just flat-out false. It became shorthand for a certain strain of cracked music — be it prog-rock, free jazz, musique concrète, Krautrock, deranged punk or psychedelic music — that could split open a third eye.

Strain Crack & Break: Music From The Nurse With Wound List Volume One by Various Artists

Strain Crack & Break: Music from the Nurse With Wound List finally settles what specific pieces of music that members Steven Stapleton, John Fothergill and Herman Pathak intended when they created that insert 40 years ago. This first volume, of hopefully many to come, focuses on the wild sounds coming from France, from the swinging plink-plonk jazz-noir of Jacques Thollot and Igor Wakhévitch’s horror grooves to the psychedelic freak-jazz of Red Noise and Pierre Henry’s quietly haunting soundscapes. Strain Crack & Break barely scratches the surface, but comes with extensive liner notes about the music selected, appeasing decades of ravenous followers, but perhaps breaking in a new generation.

The Bandcamp picks (and one YouTube Clip) on this week’s column have little to do with the NWW List — to be honest, I’m playing catch-up on a ton of new music — though y’all can think of Viking’s Choice as the NWW List’s lil’ pop-punk cousin from a third marriage. (Note: Some of these tracks can only be found on Bandcamp.)


Buck Young, “Bell Jar of Whiskey”

Is Buck II: Where Do You Want It? a noise record for cowboys or a cowboy record for noise nerds? Hiccuping pedal steel glitches like a sunset in an 8-bit NES game, there’s lonesome whistlin’ over droning field recordings, a harsh-noise stampede and, like “Bell Jar of Whiskey,” genuine affecting ambient-country ballads sung through vocoder.

Buck II: Where Do You Want It? by Buck Young


Dry Cleaning, “Sit Down Meal”

How does this song know that I needed Broadcast‘s monotonic mood, Life Without Buildings’ jagged guitar and Pylon‘s mutant post-punk groove all in one place?

Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks EP by Dry Cleaning


Buildings, “Bear the Dog”

Now that’s a boot-stompin’, gristle-chewin’ riff if I ever heard one. Four albums in, the Minneapolis trio Buildings adds some surf-punk detritus to ride out the noise-rock gruel. Hang ten, my dudes, and watch out for toxic waste.

Negative Sound by Buildings


Chastity, “Spirit Meet Up”

Chastity‘s Brandon Williams punches through a roaring, stadium-rock riff like his life depends on it, throttling around the bend just before diving off a cliff. But he pulls back to deliver the message: “Making a killing / Is taking on new meaning / When you’re fighting / When you’re dying for something.”

Home Made Satan by chastity


Sheena, Anika and Augusta, “Billboards + Bodies”

There’s a cathartic campfire quality to these stripped-down songs from Sheena Ozzella (Lemuria), Anika Pyle (Katie Ellen, Chumped) and Augusta Koch (Cayetana, Gladie) that is at once intimate and open. Healing music from three distinct voices of modern punk and indie-pop.

Simple Pleasures by Sheena, Anika and Augusta


Weeping Sores, “Song of Embers”

Weeping Sores is pretty dang good at suffocating riffs and fathoms-deep growls, but death and doom metal can be pretty, too, you know. The New York trio best incorporates violin when it channels Codeine at a funeral march pace.

False Confession by Weeping Sores


Charles Rumback & Ryley Walker, “Half Joking”

After a few sangin’ albums, Ryley Walker‘s been dippin’ his toe back into instrumental guitar music and it’s a real dang treat to see both sides develop simultaneously. This quiet-yet-busy rambler with drummer Charles Rumback sounds like it could’ve appeared on ECM Records LP with rolling fields painted in pastels on the cover.

Little Common Twist by Charles Rumback & Ryley Walker


Octo Octa, “Can You See Me?”

Nostalgic for ’90s house breakbeats, hypercolor in emotion. This is rhapsodic rave music in the feels of bodies moving as one.

Resonant Body by Octo Octa


Jim O’Rourke, “The no next to our names means we can not recommend you see The Awakening”

Jim O’Rourke‘s crackling synths, purring drones and sumptuous headphone-panning digitalia ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

steamroom 46 by jim o’rourke


Keiji Haino / Jim O’Rourke / Oren Ambarchi, “In the past only geniuses were capable of staging…”

Y’all get a double dose of O’Rourke and absurdly long song titles today. A slow-moving, side-long piece that builds like a cloud of billowing ash, its eruption a sudden squall of Keiji Haino‘s guitar splatter, O’Rourke’s fuzz bass and Oren Ambarchi’s chaos drums. Unlocks ecstatic realms from this long-running trio.

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Tyler, The Creator Peels Back His Layers With ‘A BOY IS A GUN*’ Video

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Tyler, The Creator Peels Back His Layers With ‘A BOY IS A GUN*’ Video

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Tyler, The Creator‘s fifth studio album, IGOR, arrived with little notice back in May. As the smart-aleck-turned-sleek-sonic-purveyor continues to peel back the layers and introduce us to his white-wigged alter ego, this is proving to be a crucial collection in a career-defining era.

For the “A BOY IS A GUN*” visual interpretation, Igor (a.k.a. Tyler) laments over a love interest leaving him just as the pair were enjoying their sprawling, waspy estate. In the most dramatic fashion, his love — a strong-jawed beau or Afro-crowned girl, depending on the shot — appears stoic, disinterested and generally disconnected. This propels Igor to spiral into a clothes-throwing, lawn-sprinting, bubble-bath-soaking mess — you know, as you do during a breakup.

“Take your hoodie off, why you hide your face from me? / Make your f*****’ mind up, I am sick of waitin’ patiently / How come you’re the best to me? I know you’re the worst for me / Boy, you’re sweet as sugar, diabetic to the first degree,” Igor begs.

The video, directed by Wolf Haley, illuminates Igor’s manic behavior. As the piano flutters, wide pans rush by chandeliers, gilded wood and floor-to-ceiling draped windows. The drama ends with Igor’s boo driving off in a chauffeured vehicle while he runs through the house and out onto the veranda. Clearly, this bad romance isn’t over.

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