Tag: Bob Dylan

Live Footage: The Legendary Mavis Staples Performs “Build A Bridge” on “Colbert”

Now, more than enough ink has been spilled throughout Mavis Staples‘ eight decades in music, both as a member of the legendary The Staple Singers and as a solo artist, so I won’t delve into her biography or what other journalists have written about her because I think that for the sake of this post, it’s largely unnecessary; however, whether as a member of The Staple Singers or as a solo artist, Ms. Staples has released some of the most important, influential and beloved songs of the 60s and 70s — and in my book, the woman is a revered, national treasure. Of course, unsurprisingly, Staples has seen quite a bit of American history — including the bitter and shameful prejudice, racism, ugliness, injustice and violence of the Jim Crow-era South, the Civil Rights era, the hypocrisy and wishy washiness of White moderates and liberals, the election of Barack Obama — and yet . . . as the old adage says — the more things change, the more things remain the same. And while the same hate has always remained, rooted around race, gender, class, ethnicity and nationally, for the first time in a couple of  generations, the discussion of whether or not this country has lived up to is ideals have forced itself back into the national consciousness. 

Staples’ soon-to-be released album If All I Was Was Black continues her ongoing and critically applauded collaboration with singer/songwriter and producer Jeff Tweedy — and interestingly, the album marks the first time that Tweedy has composed an entire album worth of music for Staples. And as the story goes, when Tweedy and Staples convened to write the album’s material, the duo found themselves recognizing that this was a critical historical moment, in which they wanted and needed to say something about the current state of things here in the US and about the various fissures along race, politics, gender, gender identity and so on.  “We’re not loving one another the way we should,” the legendary vocalist says in press notes. “Some people are saying they want to make the world great again, but we never lost our greatness. We just strayed into division.” Tweedy adds, “I’ve always thought of art as a political statement in and of itself — that it was enough to be on the side of creation and not destruction. But there is something that feels complicit at this moment in time about not facing what is happening in this country head on.”

Naturally, some of the album’s material reportedly expresses anger and frustration — after all, how it could it not? In some way, Election Day last year felt like major gains made by dear friends in the Black, Latino, LGBQT and Muslim communities were wiped away. And yet, the material while still rooted around Staples’ legendary optimism, the material is balanced with a grounded realism that essentially says “well shit, there’s quite a bit of hard work, love and empathy that’s needed to make things right. Interestingly, when I heard album title track  “If All I Was Was Black,” I was immediately reminded of Syl Johnson‘s aching and bitter lament “Is It Because I’m Black.” in the sense that Staples’ latest single is an earnest and hopeful plea to the listener, imploring them to look into the heart and souls of every individual they come across, and to see them for their unique abilities; to render one’s skin color as relatively unimportant as the color of one’s eyes.

The album’s latest single “Build A Bridge” focuses on the growing sense of alienation, loneliness and misunderstanding of modern life — with Ms. Staples boldly suggesting that many of the world’s problems could be solved if people could allow themselves to be vulnerable and empathetic to the plight of others, so that they can see both the glorious differences in others and the universality of all.  For Ms. Staples sake, I hope we can all try before it’s too late. 

Recently Ms. Staples, Tweedy, their backing band and members of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert band performed the song on Late Show with Stephen Colbert. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Ultrviolence Return with the Stark and Lonely Visuals for New Single “Guillotine”

Throughout their history together, the Calgary, AB-based indie rock/darkwave/New Wave/post-punk act Ultrviolence have developed a reputation for adhering to old-school DIY principles and for frequently ignoring the clichés and dictates of the music industry machine. And over the past couple of years, the band has caught the attention of the blogosphere — and in particular this site, for a sound that seemingly draws from Joy Division, Interpol, Viet Cong and others.

Since the release of last year’s Black Sea EP, the band has gone through a massive lineup change with Nate Jespersen (vocals, bass), the sole founding member, collaborating with several members of Vancouver, BC-based indie rock band ACTORS. Produced by ACTORS’ Jason Corbett, the project’s much-anticipated follow-up to Black Sea EP, Forty Knives EP finds Jespersen and the band’s new lineup building upon the moody, post-punk sound that first caught the attention of this site and the blogosphere while thematically evoking the dark and seemingly unending solitude that arises when one allows themselves to be completely isolated from the world.

“Guillotine,” Forty Knives’ first single is a hauntingly moody and atmospheric track, which finds the band pairing jangling guitar chords played through reverb and delay pedal, shimmering synth chords, a propulsive bass line and a metronomic-like drumming paired with Jespersen’s equally moody baritone vocals. Interestingly, with my 38th birthday being yesterday, this particular song evokes something profoundly familiar — the lingering and embittering ghosts and ill-feelings of a particularly dysfunctional and/or ambivalent relationship; the awareness of time passing by and of the built-in regret that you’ve squandered the most valuable and important commodity you’ll ever know — time; and that feeling of stepping away from the wreckage of a lengthy relationship and not quite knowing what to do next or how to even go about it. And as a result, the song possesses a visceral ache.

The recently released video for the song nods at Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and INXS’ “Need You Tonight”/”Mediate” as the video features a man on the side of the road, holding cardboard signs with the song’s lyrics; however, this man is hitchhiking with a sense of desperate urgency.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’ve likely come across a number of posts about Detroit, MI-based electro pop duo Gosh Pith. And in that period of time, the act has not only become a JOVM mainstay, they’ve seen a growing national profile for a sound that seamlessly meshes elements of hip-hop, electro pop, stoner rock, indie rock, dub, trap music, drum ‘n’ bass, indie rock and several other related  genres.

Interestingly, the duo’s guitarist and vocalist Josh Smith has a solo side project under the simple mononym Joshua. Influenced by Morrissey, Frank Ocean, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Jean-Luc Goddard, Jim Jarmusch and others, Smith’s first single as Joshua is a mash up/cover of The Weeknd‘s “Starboy” and Kiiara’s “Gold,” that he has dubbed “GOLDBOY.” Smith’s mash up/cover retains the glitchy and stuttering production of “Gold” but pairs it with Smith singing The Weeknd’s sultry lyrics. Admittedly, I’m not a big mainstream pop guy but after listening to both songs, my immediate thought was similar to the folks at All Things Go  — “Holy shit, those two songs work together. How come no one has done that before?” Sonically speaking, will further the reputation Smith developed while with Gosh Pith while gently and subtly breaking their mold.