Archive For The “Music” Category

Don Wilson, cofounder of the instrumental guitar group The Ventures, dies at age 88

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Don Wilson, cofounder of the instrumental guitar group The Ventures, dies at age 88

Bob Spalding, left, and Don Wilson of The Ventures perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York, March 10, 2008. Wilson, a co-founder of the band, died Saturday at the age of 88.

Jason DeCrow/AP

Jason DeCrow/AP

TACOMA, Wash. — Don Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist of the instrumental guitar band The Ventures, has died.

He was 88.

Wilson died Saturday in Tacoma of natural causes, surrounded by his four children, The News Tribune reported.

The band’s hits included “Walk, Don’t Run,” and the theme song for “Hawaii Five-O.” They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

“Our dad was an amazing rhythm guitar player who touched people all over world with his band, The Ventures,” son Tim Wilson said in a statement. “He will have his place in history forever and was much loved and appreciated. He will be missed.”

In the 1960s and early 1970s, 38 of the band’s albums charted in the United States.

The Ventures had 14 singles in the Billboard Hot 100. With over 100 million records sold, the Ventures are the best-selling instrumental band of all time.

The band scored the No. 2 hit in the country with “Walk, Don’t Run” in 1960.

Ventures founders Bob Bogle and Wilson were bricklayers when they bought guitars and chord books at a pawnshop in Tacoma in 1958.

“They were just really cheap guitars,” Wilson once recalled. “They didn’t stay in tune very well. But we wanted to learn.”

By the next year, they had formed the Ventures, adding Nokie Edwards on bass guitar and Howie Johnson on drums.

Johnson broke his neck in a car wreck in 1961 and died in 1988. Skip Moore played drums on “Walk Don’t Run,” and Mel Taylor took take over on drums and rounded out the classic lineup, with Edwards on lead guitar, in 1962.

The band continued to perform through numerous lineup changes, but Wilson was the one constant throughout. He didn’t miss a tour until his retirement in 2015, according to the family’s statement.

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Tom Smith, founding member of noise band To Live and Shave in L.A., has died at 65

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Tom Smith, founding member of noise band To Live and Shave in L.A., has died at 65

Tom Smith performing on Dec. 13, 2013 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Patrick Spurlock for NPR

Patrick Spurlock for NPR

Tom Smith, a relentless musical experimenter and prominent figure in the international noise scene for decades, died on January 20 in Hanover, Germany. He was 65. His partner, Claudia Franke, confirmed to NPR that the cause was colon cancer.

As word of Smith’s passing spread, friends and colleagues — including Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Pylon’s Vanessa Hay, and Matmos’ Drew Daniel –shared tributes on social media. On Instagram, Moore called Smith a “beyond-post-punk noise provocateur and visionary,” while writer Byron Coley described him on Twitter as “a big lunk, impossible to handle and will never be replaced.”

“I’m a purveyor of organic folk, a product of environment, a fusion of innate — and perhaps largely wasted — intellect and Southern dyspeptic aesthetics,” Smith told The Wire in 2002. “I’m a very happy guy.”

Born in Adel, Georgia on April 10, 1956, Smith spent his teen years discovering King Crimson, Sun Ra and, most importantly, the dub innovations of Lee “Scratch” Perry. In 1978 he started the group Boat Of, which included future R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe. He once described their sound as “guitars played through tinny, crackling drive-in loudspeakers, swooping, absurdly overdriven bass lines, re-edited Scientist dubs… with exceedingly sarcastic, willfully cryptic vocals. “

In 1984 Smith moved to Washington, D.C., where he promoted shows at the nightclub DC Space, briefly joined local bands Velvet Monkeys and Pussy Galore, and created the group Peach of Immortality. Featuring tabletop guitar, cello, and Smith’s tape manipulations, Peach of Immortality courted confusion, titling one of their albums Talking Heads ’77. “It was just a ferocious racket and most people didn’t get it,” Smith told The Quietus in 2020. “But some did!”

30-Minuten Männercreme by To Live And Shave In L.A.

Smith’s longest-lived project emerged when he moved to Miami in 1991 and met musician and producer Frank “Rat Bastard” Falestra. The pair named their band To Live and Shave in L.A. after a Ron Jeremy porn film. “It fit into my aesthetics,” Smith said of the band’s name in 2020. “High and low, stupid but immediate.” The band’s 1994 debut 30​-​Minuten Männercreme was a dizzying barrage of cut-and-paste audio, influenced by Public Enemy’s production team The Bomb Squad, and produced by Smith during his off-hours as an audio engineer at the TV network Telemundo. Reissuing the album in 2010, Hanson Records founder Aaron Dilloway called it “a masterpiece that blew my teenage mind wide open… letting all the world’s sickness and perversion sneak in and pollute it.”

In 2004 To Live and Shave in L.A. recorded Noon and Eternity at Sonic Youth’s New York recording studio, with an expanded group that included Moore on guitar and Andrew W.K. on drums. Their final album, As Gods Are Skinned, came out in 2019, inspired by what Smith termed “the absolute calamity that befell humanity in 2016 and the fetid hell we sank into. Why not channel that into music?”

Based in Germany for many years, Smith was prolific until the end of his life, releasing work through his own Karl Schmidt Verlag label. His enthusiasm for collaboration made him a mentor to generations of experimental musicians. “I got the sense that he had been through it all, done everything we had done, thought everything we had thought… synthesizing these higher approaches that we could barely fathom,” Andrew W.K. told The Wire in 2008. “And it was so inspiring, the idea that this guy was doing exactly what he wanted to do, making sounds and music that I had never imagined before.”

“Music should ideally be entropic,” Smith told The Wire. “[It] should move in all dimensions and spatial configurations, and it should f****** kick a** while doing so.”

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The cuatro players of C4 Trio are the future of Venezuela’s national instrument

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The cuatro players of C4 Trio are the future of Venezuela’s national instrument

The members of C4 Trio, L-R: Rodner Padilla, Edward Ramírez, Héctor Molina and Jorge Glem

José Blanco /Courtesy of GroundUP Music

José Blanco /Courtesy of GroundUP Music

The Venezuelan group C4 Trio has taken the national instrument of their homeland, the four-string cuatro, to new heights. They’ve recorded seven albums, collaborated with singer Rubén Blades and, in 2019, won two Latin Grammys for their album with salsa singer Luis Enrique, Tiempo al Tiempo.

The title of a new book about C4, written by Venezuelan journalist Gerardo Guarache Ocque, sums up the essence of the singular group: La Leyenda de los Cuatros Explosivos. The group — composed of cuatro players Edward Ramírez, Héctor Molina and Jorge Glem, as well as bass player Rodner Padilla — is a legend, and their music is an explosion of sounds.

Edward Ramírez says what brought them together was a strong desire to play music that was not from Venezuela, on the Cuatro. “But we also wanted to challenge ourselves and play Venezuelan music from a different point of view, and play other music genres with the Cuatro” Ramírez says. “We wanted to find new ways for the cuatro to expand its palette, so that the possibilities of the instrument would continue to grow.”

In 2005, Ramírez, Glem and Molina were each invited to play solo pieces at a concert in Caracas. Each musician is from a different region of Venezuela, and they admired each other’s style. After rehearsing a few tunes together to play at the end of the concert, they liked the sound of the multiple cuatros so much that they decided to form a group. The following year, they recorded their first album and adopted C4 as their name, in reference both to the cuatro and the guitar group known as G3. Their self-titled album launched their career. Bass player Rodner Padilla joined them in 2009.

The cuatro is a small, guitar-like instrument, with four nylon strings. It’s played across the country, in many different styles of music. Every Venezuelan family has a cuatro hanging on the wall, says Héctor Molina. “It’s undergone a huge development in recent years,” he says. “We always say that we’re a consequence of the work that’s been done for the instrument by masters such as Jacinto Pérez, Hernán Gamboa, Fredy Reyna and Cheo Hurtado. They’re major figures of the Cuatro and musicians who have helped to expand the sonic possibilities of the instrument.”

Ramírez, Molina, Padilla and Glem are now based in Miami, due to the political and economic climate in Venezuela. “It’s a very tough situation and we hope that this nightmare ends soon so we can go back and do concerts in Venezuela,” Glem says.

José Blanco/Courtesy of GroundUP Music

José Blanco/Courtesy of GroundUP Music

Musician and producer Michael League invited C4 to play at the GroundUp Music Festival in Miami Beach a few years ago. The festival is run by League’s GroundUp Music, the group’s new label. “C4 is like the group that our festival was made for,” says League. “It’s a group that maybe a lot of people don’t know about, outside of their kind of niche, in the music world. But it is impossible to see them play and not remember them for the rest of your life.”

League co-produced C4’s forthcoming new album, Back to 4. He says the group has one foot in tradition, one foot in innovation, and the desire to mix and constantly add colors to their palette. “These guys can make their instrument sound like a conga or a flute. They’re not bound by the tradition. And I’m not an expert in that tradition, but just from five minutes of speaking with them, you can tell that their heads are as much in the future as they are in the past.”

As the social, political and economic situation got more complicated in Venezuela, the members of C4 realized they had to move somewhere else to keep the group alive.

In 2014, C4’s bass player, Rodner Padilla, migrated to Miami. Glem went to New York in 2016, and Molina arrived in Miami the following year. Ramírez first migrated to Colombia in 2017, and then moved to Miami last year.

Now, the group is together again, based in Miami, home to the largest Venezuelan immigrant community in the U.S. Glem says despite the ongoing difficulties in Venezuela, they remain positive and hopeful. “Wherever we go, we try to put on the most beautiful face of our country and we do whatever we can to help our folks back home,” he says. “It’s a very tough situation and we hope that this nightmare ends soon so we can go back and do concerts in Venezuela.” Glem says the cuatro is their flag and they just want to play music, in their own, sometimes explosive, way.

A documentary on the group, 10 years

YouTube

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Marty Roberts of Los Angeles lounge duo Marty & Elayne is dead at 89

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Marty Roberts of Los Angeles lounge duo Marty & Elayne is dead at 89

After performing six nights a week for nearly four decades, Los Angeles musician Marty Roberts has died. He was half of the husband-and-wife duo Marty & Elayne.


AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The jazz and lounge music world has lost one of its most iconic personalities. Marty Roberts, one half of the married lounge act Marty & Elayne, died last week at 89.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

For decades, the duo performed five or six nights a week, Marty on drums and vocals, Elayne on piano and flute.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “SWINGERS”)

MARTY AND ELAYNE: (Singing) You can tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man – no time to talk.

KELLY: They were fixtures at the Los Angeles bar and restaurant the Dresden Room, where they played an eclectic mix of jazz standards, original numbers and their own twists on pop hits.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “SWINGERS”)

MARTY AND ELAYNE: (Singing) Staying alive – ah, ah, ah, ah, staying alive.

CHANG: That rendition of “Stayin’ Alive,” a cameo in the 1996 movie “Swingers,” shot them into pop culture stardom. Their daughter, Hali Gillin, says the duo often drew standing-room-only crowds.

HALI GILLIN: They have fans in probably every country. And they would come to America, and that would be one of the stops that they needed to make.

CHANG: And though they may have come for the music, the fans would get plenty of personality, too.

GILLIN: If you were rude and talked a lot while my mom was playing certain songs, she would turn up the synthesizer and teach you that’s not polite (laughter). And my dad – if you talked too much, he would literally get on the mic and say, hey; you don’t have a speaking part in this.

KELLY: Gillin says that frankness was on full display when her mother first met Roberts back in 1970.

GILLIN: My dad – he was a hairdresser before. And so he looked at my mom and basically said, like, I need to trim your hair. Like, you got some split ends (laughter). My mom was like, how rude. But eventually they got past it. And my mom said she knew right when she met him that she was going to marry him.

KELLY: And she did. They married just four months later.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “COME FLY WITH ME”)

MARTY AND ELAYNE: (Singing) Come on and fly with me. Let’s fly. Let’s fly away.

CHANG: Through the decades, the pair has had their share of famous fans. When Frank Sinatra showed up to see them play, Roberts serenaded Sinatra with one of the legend’s own tunes.

KELLY: Marty & Elayne continued to record together until just about a month ago. Marty Roberts died of cancer last Thursday. He was 89 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “COME FLY WITH ME”)

MARTY AND ELAYNE: (Singing) Come fly with me. Let’s fly. Let’s fly away. (Scatting).

Copyright © 2022 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Chris Pierce on Mountain Stage

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Chris Pierce on Mountain Stage
Chris Pierce on Mountain Stage

Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Blessed with a soaring, church-built vocal range that’s often compared to Ray Charles, Chris Pierce has been all over the scene for the past 15 years. Discovered by Seal while attending USC, the indie, folk and blues singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has kept the rubber hot, touring 150 days a year while sharing the stage with such artists as Jill Scott, Al Green, Robert Cray, and Toots and the Maytals.

Making his first Mountain Stage appearance, recorded at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, S.C., Pierce shared power-packed songs from a new, critically acclaimed album titled American Silence.

Accompanied by acoustic guitar and vocals, Pierce carved the words of that album’s title track into the bones, singing of the American posture – complacency – in addressing and dealing with race issues: “Can we sing a song for you? / Will music move your heart and mind? / Will our song arrest you? / American silence is a crime.”

Concluding the tune on a fierce note, Pierce tells the crowd the origin story of the next: “I started to get a lot of calls from family and friends, and I come from a very diverse family … they all wanted to hear about what it felt like to be a Black man in America. I wanted the chorus to be a summary about racism, ‘Shame it, face it, damn it all to hell.’ This is ‘Sound All The Bells.’ “

Pierce closes the set with “Young Black and Beautiful,” a song of hope and resilience he wrote as a love letter to young Black kids everywhere – and to his former self, a 15-year-old who went deaf before eventually regaining most of the hearing in his right ear.

“Keep walking on against the wind / When you fall down get up again / You may be pushed, shoved and tossed / Know in your heart it is their loss.”

Set list:

  • “American Silence”
  • “Sound All the Bells”
  • “Chain Gang Fourth of July”
  • “It’s Been Burning For A While”
  • “Young, Black And Beautiful”

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Brazilian samba singer Elza Soares dies at 91

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Brazilian samba singer Elza Soares dies at 91

Brazilian singer Elza Soares performs at the Rock in Rio music festival in Rio de Janeiro in 2019. Soares died on Thursday.

Leo Correa/AP

Leo Correa/AP

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian samba singer Elza Soares died in her Rio de Janeiro home on Thursday afternoon, family members said on the artist’s official Instagram account. She was 91.

The singer “moved the world with her voice, her strength and her determination,” they said, adding she “will forever be in the history of music and in our hearts and the thousands of fans around the world.”

The family said Soares died of ”natural causes” and did not provide further detail.

Soares in 1970 in Rome.

Gianni Foggia/AP

Gianni Foggia/AP

Elza Gomes da Conceição was born in June 1930, in a modest Rio de Janeiro household. She became famous singing samba in the early 1960s, before diversifying to other genres, winning her the title of “singer of the millennium” in a BBC London competition in 1999.

Last month, she featured in a documentary series paying tribute to Black women singers who paved the way for other artists.

“Just like Elza Soares wanted, she sang until the end,” family members said in a statement Thursday.

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Sierra Ferrell seems to have always known where she was headed

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Sierra Ferrell seems to have always known where she was headed

  • “Jeremiah”
  • “Why’d Ya Do It?”
  • “In Dreams”

Sierra Ferrell is a what you might call a free spirit — someone who follows her dreams wherever they take her; like when she joined a troupe of wandering musicians in her 20s. On the other hand, Ferrell seems to have always known where she was going.

She started performing when she was just 7 years old. Now, she lives in the musical epicenter of Nashville, getting high praise for her vocal talent and songwriting skills — and if the title of her second album is any indication, that’s what she somehow knew she’d one day be doing. It’s called Long Time Coming.

In this session, Sierra Ferrell sits down to talk about her life and adventures so far, along with live recordings of her performances from last years XPoNential Music Festival.

Hear the session and her complete festival performance in the audio and video players above.

World Cafe: 1/20/22

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Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST: Kombilesa Mí, Northern Cree, Son Rompe Pera

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Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST: Kombilesa Mí, Northern Cree, Son Rompe Pera

YouTube

Premiering tonight at 8 p.m. ET.

For the second consecutive year, NPR teams up with globalFEST for a thrilling online music festival we call Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST: three nights, nine bands, and a world of musical traditions beamed into your living room.

Every January, I attend globalFEST at a New York City nightclub and see some of the most fantastic music I’ll experience all year. Not being able to do this live and in person again is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity: Leaving the nightclub for the desktop lets us share this festival with the world. And … IT’S FREE!

For each of the three nights, Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST will present artists in intimate settings (often behind their own globe-topped tiny desks), some of whom are making their globalFEST debuts, while a few others are notable past performers.

It’s all hosted by African pop star and four-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo. She is one of the greatest artists in international music today, a creative force with 13 albums to her name. She also performed at the inaugural edition of globalFEST in 2004.

Tiny Desk has been working from home since March 2020, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. We’ve tried to maintain the same spirit as the shows at my NPR desk — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just in a different space. The following biographical information about each performer was written by the globalFEST team.


Kombilesa Mí

Born from the rich musical and historical heritage of San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia (the first free Black town in the Americas), Kombilesa Mí fuses the traditional sounds of the community with urban pop. The band’s members experiment with the instruments created by their ancestors (and introduced to them when they were young) by layering them between new sounds.

Over traditional percussion, metal handmade drums of their own design, and marímbula, Kombilesa Mí rhymes and raps in Spanish and the traditional Palenquero language, a fusion of African Bantu, Portuguese, French and English. During the performance, you’ll hear them call their music “RFP,” which means Rap Folklórico Palenquero, a combo of cumbia, son de negro, mapalé and son palenquero.

SET LIST

  • “I tando pa palenge”
  • “I a piyá bó”
  • “Kumo kusa tá”
  • “Los peinados”
  • “Asina gue”
  • “Ma Nduse”
  • “Ata uto begá”

Northern Cree

Northern Cree is a powwow and round dance act, based in Maskwacis, Alberta, Canada. Formed in 1982 by the Wood brothers – Steve, Randy, Charlie and Earl Wood of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation – most members originate from the Treaty 6 and are members of the Cree Nation. This year marks Northern Cree’s 40th birthday as a group.

Northern Cree has recorded 50 albums and been nominated for a GRAMMY nine times. They made history in 2017 when they became the first powwow group to perform at the Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. They recorded this performance at the powwow arbor of the Tsuut’ina Nation.

SET LIST

  • “The Dream”
  • “Kohkominaw”
  • “Storytelling Warrior”

Son Rompe Pera

Born and raised in the deep outskirts of Mexico City, the three Gama brothers are keeping alive the rich legacy of marimba music running through their family. Originally performing alongside their father at local events as kids, they now find themselves at the forefront of the contemporary international cumbia scene with their sonic explorations of the classic marimba.

From the Salón Los Ángeles in Mexico City, this quintet urges listeners to their feet with their unique style of garage-marimba-cumbia rock, played on the historic marimba like no one has ever heard or seen before.

SET LIST

  • “La Tortuga del Arenal”
  • “Cumbia Pa’ Tu Madre”
  • “Proteus”
  • “Ay David!”
  • “Los Chucos Suaves”

Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST

TINY DESK TEAM

Producer: Bob Boilen

Video Producer: Maia Stern

Audio Mixing: Josh Rogosin

Tiny Production Team: Bobby Carter, Kara Frame, Joshua Bryant, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins

Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

GLOBALFEST ARTISTIC TEAM

Co-Directors: Shanta Thake, Isabel Soffer, Bill Bragin

2022 Curators: Shanta Thake, Isabel Soffer, Bill Bragin, Gabrielle Davenport

GLOBALFEST PRODUCTION TEAM

Event Producer: Ian Thake

Producer: THE OFFICE performing arts + film

Video Producer: Karim Tabbaa

SPECIAL THANKS

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

National Endowment for the ArtsNYC Department of Cultural Affairs

NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment

JanArtsNYC.org

Social Media Manager: Valerie French

Publicity: Yuri Kwon, Pitch Perfect PR

Legal Services: Tamizdat

Legal Services: Duane Morris

THE OFFICE performing arts + film consists of Rachel Chanoff, Laurie Cearley, Olli Chanoff, Erica Zielinski, Nadine Goellner, Lynn Koek, Noah Bashevkin, Catherine DeGennaro, Gabrielle Davenport, Chloe Golding, Kyla Gardner, Tess Peppis, Zion Jackson, Scout Eisenberg and Jose Alvarado

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The Grammys have been rescheduled and moved to Las Vegas

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The Grammys have been rescheduled and moved to Las Vegas

Jon Batiste performs at the Austin City Limits Music Festival Oct. 10, 2021. The musician is nominated for 11 Grammy Awards.

Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP

Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP

The music industry’s biggest night was supposed to take place at the end of January, at the Crypto.com Arena in downtown Los Angeles. Then the omicron variant happened.

Now, the big award show is set to take place on April 3, and in a new venue too — the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Representatives from the Recording Academy wouldn’t confirm the reasoning behind the location change, but it does look like the Crypto.com Arena’s calendar is full in the days leading up to April 3, not to mention both a Clippers and a Lakers game on the day of.

The move is not without its ripple effects, though, as it will be bumping the CMT Music Awards, which was scheduled for that same date.

The Grammys have been having a tough go of it recently. Last year’s ceremony tanked, with viewership dropping to 8.8 million. That’s a 53% drop from its 2020 numbers. The 2021 show was also the same ceremony that pop star The Weeknd vowed to boycott after being snubbed for any nominations, citing the anonymous committees that make up the initial ballots for voting as the main driver of his protests.

The Recording Academy has made some moves to increase equity to its roster of nominees — including doing away with those anonymous committees, as well as expanding the number of potential winners in the big categories.

Comedian and The Daily Show host Trevor Noah is still set to host the evening, which will be broadcast live as well as streamed on Paramount+.

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Molly Nilsson, ‘Pompeii’

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Molly Nilsson, ‘Pompeii’


Dark Skies Association
YouTube

A glorious piece of goth hit streaming services over the weekend: Molly Nilsson, a reigning queen of DIY synth-pop, capped her excellent new album, Extreme, with this soaring slice of skeletal melancholia, addressing the endgame of everlasting love. The Pompeii couple immortalized in ash, killed while in each others’ arms after the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius, serve as inspiration here, and Nilsson doesn’t shy away from the macabre implications. “I’d say I love you but I catch my breath,” she chants, “Cause whatever I love I always love to death.” All the while, an assortment of synthesizers and drum machines churn away, steadfastly growing louder and brighter until all that’s left is bittersweet beams of light.

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