Tag: Grammy Award

New Video: the bird and the bee Share a Gorgeous, Animated Visual for Expansive “Lifetimes”

Acclaimed Los Angeles-based indie pop act the bird and the bee — singer/songwriter Inara George and eight-time Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin — can trace their origins back to when they met while working on George’s 2005 solo debut All Rise.

Bonding over a mutual love of 80s pop and rock, the duo decided to continue collaborating together in a jazz-influenced electro pop-leaning project. With the release of 2006’s Again and Again and Again and Again EP and 2007’s self-titled, full-length debut, George and Kurstin quickly established a reputation for crafting pop songs with a breezy elegance.

Since the debut album, the bird and the bee have released three albums, as well as two volumes in their Interpreting the Masters series, in which they re-arranged and re-imagined the music of Hall & Oates and Van Halen in their playful and breezy style.

2020’s Christmas album Put Up the Lights was written and recorded remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Lifetimes,” is the first bit of new material since the release Put Up the Lights — and interestingly enough the song marks two big occasions for the the duo:

  • the first time they were able to work together at Kurstin’s Hollywood-based No Expectations Studio in years
  • and the duo celebrating the 15th anniversary of their self-titled debut, released through Blue Note Records

“It was really nice to be back in each other’s company and working on music together. No matter who you are, there’s always something unique that happens when you are able to collaborate with someone in the same space,” the bird and bee’s Inara George says in press notes. “Since the beginning of the bird and the bee, Greg and I have always had a very easy and fun time collaborating. I think it’s what keeps us playing music together. We have a kind of unspoken understanding and such a creative ease. Being back together inspired this song about our first musical collaboration.”

“Lifetimes” is centered around an expansive and elegant arrangement that starts with angular post-punk guitar that slowly builds up to include blown out beats, twinkling keys, fluttering synths, a dreamy Bossa nova and jazz-like bridge, and an anthemic coda. While telling the tale of the duo’s first collaboration together, the song is also a meditation on the passing of time, and a celebration of a deep and abiding friendship rooted in an unusual understanding of the other.

Directed by Simona Mehandzhieva and Norbert Garab, the recently released animated video for “Lifetimes” follows the song’s story as a swooning platonic love story and a sort of Vulcan mind-meld between two very different yet oddly similar people.

New Video: King Garbage Shares Soulful and Yearning “Busy On A Saturday Night”

Asheville, NC-based, Grammy Award-nominated production, songwriting and artist duo King Garbage — longtime friends Zach Cooper and Vic Dimotsis — have quiet put their imprint on pop, R&B and hip-hop through their work with The Weeknd, SZA, Ellie Goulding, Gallant, and even Billy Porter.

Cooper and Dimotsis made their debut as King Garbage with 2017’s Make It Sweat, an album that amassed millions of streams while receiving praise from Wonderland Magazine and Paste Magazine, who hailed the effort as a “grin-inducing collection of modern R&B and funk.”

The Asheville-based duo were extremely busy last year: They co-wrote “Sing,” which appeared on Jon Batiste‘s We Are and received eight Grammy Award nods, including Album of the Year. They also co-wrote “Sweeter,” feat. Terrace Martin, which appeared on Leon BridgesGold-Diggers Sound and received a Grammy nod for Best R&B Album.

In the middle of a prolific and wildly creative whirlwind, the duo turned to King Garbage, finding the perfect time to return. “It’s the right time, because it’s been about five years since the last album,” King Garbage’s Vic Dimotsis says. “We were lucky enough to have successes with Leon and Jon. In entertainment, it doesn’t hurt to have stuff to brag about during press releases,” he laughs. “We were also insanely lucky to have met Mr. Mike Patton and be given a chance to work with Ipecac. We had been drawn to Ipecac since we were young, so it seemed natural to respect the very source that had inspired us in the first place.”

The duo’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Heavy Metal Greasy Love is slated for an April 1, 2022 release through Ipecac Recordings. The album reportedly sees the duo breaking from the “rough and ruddy” vibe of their critically applauded debut and incorporating a rock ‘n’ roll spirit within the soul sphere they’re best known for.

“It’s a taste of retro without being a reproduction,” the duo’s Vic Dimotsis explains in press notes. “Love and life are very sweet, bitter, and heavy. You’re going to need big tires and a dense frame to cross the desert life can give you. The name felt right. The music is crispy, searing, spacious, sandy, and welded with perfect dimes at the seams. If you read anything about history, you can fall in love with its brutality. Nature is the most metal, always at war with itself and never asking ‘Why?’ when change comes. I believe if you live long enough, the crushing weight and terrible beauty begin to hold hands, and an appreciation is reached, or at least an understanding. This was the best way to describe the album as well as what we see in the world. Love, nature, past, present, and future.”

“If just one person would listen and come away with less fear, less rigidity, more human spirit, and a respect for the unknown, it’s worth it,” Dimotsis adds. “Maybe you think, ‘Well, if these bozos are taking chances and making what they want under the name King Garbage, what could I do with my idea or dreams?’”

Heavy Metal Greasy Love‘s third and latest single “Busy On A Saturday Night” is a slow-burning and atmospheric, Quiet Storm inspired soul ballad centered around shimmering, flamenco-like plucked guitar, strutting horns, jazz-like drumming skittering beats and a soulful and breathy falsetto vocal. But the acclaimed duo’s take on soul is a woozy and left field take that features elements of old-school rock, 60s and 70s soul and trap in a production that helps emphasize the narrator’s unfulfilled, aching yearning.

Interestingly, the song is inspired by a magnet that was on Vic’s Dimotsis’ great grandmother’s refrigerator. “It had a sweaty male stripper pictured on it and said, ‘Everything I want is either taken, or busy on a Saturday night,'” Dimotsis laughs. “Blurry as a memory on a slinky night out. A Tom Waits inspired roadster awaits high high heels on a sure fire adventure. Losing articles of clothing to the magnet of the pavement, the band plays on through a duct from another world, and our eyes blur from both lust and disgust. Such motion seems still, as the accelerator and brakes lose meaning. A quiet lonely brunch awakens us from a distant stare.”

The recently released video for “Busy On A Saturday Night” begins with something we’re all too familiar with — a Zoom conference, where its viewers are introduced to a choreographed dance routine, called “The Scorpion Dance” featuring four extremely similar women, who perform in different rooms with different lights. Clearly influenced by our weird and uncertain moment, the video evokes the deep longing for people — and the gatherings with people we couldn’t have during the bulk of the pandemic.

New Video: Oliver Future Returns After 14 Year Hiatus to Release a Brooding Fever Dream

Split between Austin and Los Angeles, psych rock outfit Oliver Future — currently founding members Noah Lit (guitar, vocals), Josh Lit (vocals, keys), Sam Raver (guitar), Jesse Ingalls — was founded in Austin, back in 2002 featuring a lineup of Noah Lit, Josh Lit, Raver, Ingalls and Jordan Richardson (drums). While in Austin, the band wrote and recorded several albums before their management company relocated the band to Los Angeles in 2005.

The management company (and their stipends) disappeared quickly, and the band was stuck in Los Angeles, too broke to get back home. Luckily, they met producer and engineer Adam Lasus, who has worked with a who’s who list of contemporary indie rock acts, including recording a hit record with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, had just relocated to Los Angeles.

Lasus worked with the band on 2007’s Pax Futura, an effort that was released to widespread critical praise and received airplay on KCRW and NPR Music. The band, who were by then a fixture at Spaceland and The Echo, supported the album with several national tours, as well as stops at Austin City Limits Festival, SXSW, Sunset Junction Music Festival — and a live set on Morning Becomes Eclectic.

Just as the members of Oliver Future started working on Pax Futura‘s follow-up, a famous touring artist hired the band’s rhythm section. Ingalls and Richardson wound up touring the world and winning a Grammy while the remaining members of the band went on to write and record 2008’s In Event of Moon Disaster. Shortly, after In Event of Moon Disaster‘s release, the band broke up. Josh Lit, Noah Lit and Sam Raver returned to Austin.

Shortly after returning home, Noah Lit and Josh Lit became co-owners of popular East Austin craft beer and kolaches bakery, Batch Craft Beer and Kolaches. The successful brothers and business partners were still eager to create new music, and in 2019, they asked Jesse if he wanted to return to Austin to play what was intended to be a one-off, goodbye show at The Continental Club. The show was sold out, and although it was meant to close the book on the band, the fun of playing together was undeniable.

As the drudgery of lockdowns continues into last summer, Josh Lit, Noah Lit and Raver started regularly getting together to jam in their studio. The music instantly sounded like Oliver Future. They contacted Richardson, who remembered two of the songs they were working on before their initial breakup “Phases of the Moon” and “I Can’t Take It.” The rest of the material, which would eventually comprise their forthcoming album A Year at Home was written remotely between Austin and Los Angeles over the past year with the band sending tracks and ideas back and forth through text and email. Studio pro Jimmy Paxson played drums on the album.

The band describes the A Year at Home sessions as “the most effortless recordings they ever got to do.” The final touch was that the band recruited Adam Lasus to mix the record. Although the album is the first album from the psych rock outfit in over 14 years, the album’s material sees the band seemingly continuing where they left off.

“Phases of the Moon,” A Year at Home‘s first single is a slow-burning and brooding song, centered around glistening synth arpeggios, the Lits’ ethereal harmonies, shimmering guitars and a steady yet hypnotic groove. Sonically, “Phases of the Moon” will most likely draw comparisons to Dark Side of the Moon era Pink Floyd and Young Narrator in the Breakers era Pavo Pavo — it’s anachronistic take on retro futurism, which seems to reveal the rot, anxiety, and unease just underneath,

The recently released video for “Phases of the Moon” is an eerie yet gorgeous fever dream inspired by modern life in quarantine doldrums: evil phantasms are everywhere, so the video’s protagonist is left at home trying to hold on to the old normal, and to entertain herself — but she eventually she goes mad.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve spilled a copious amount of virtual ink covering the multi-Grammy Award-nominated Austin, TX-based soul act and JOVM mainstays, Black Pumas. Led by Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada and San Fernando Valley-born singer/songwriter and guitarist Eric Burton, the acclaimed act can trace their origins back to 2017.

Burton, who grew up singing in church and in musical theater, started busking at the Santa Monica pier, where he brought in a few hundred dollars and day and honing his performance skills. He then traveled through the Western states before deciding to settle down in Austin, setting up a busking spot on 6th Street and Congress, a prime location in the city’s downtown neighborhood for maximum exposure.Meanwhile, Quesada was looking to collaborate with someone new. He reached out to friends in Los Angeles and London — but nothing seemed to fit. Serendipitously, a mutual friend recommended Burton to Quesada, telling the Grammy Award-winning songwriter, guitarist and producer that Burton was the best singer he had ever heard. The two musicians connected but Burton took a while to respond. “My friends were like ‘Dude, you’re a mad man, you need to hit that guy back!’” Burton recalls. When Burton did call Quesada, he sang to him over the phone. “I loved his energy, his vibe, and I knew it would be incredible on record,” Quesada says. “From the moment I heard him on the phone, I was all about it.”

Back in 2019, the duo along with a talented cast of collaborators recorded and released their breakthrough full-length debut, which was supported with a relentless touring schedule across both North America and Europe that included three different stops in town: The Knitting Factory, in May 2019Mercury Lounge, in July 2019; and Brooklyn Bowl in September 2019. Additionally, the JOVM mainstays began to make the rounds of the nationally televised talk show circuit, playing  Jimmy Kimmel LiveThe Ellen Show and a lengthy list of others.

Last year, the acclaimed JOVM mainstays released a deluxe version of their breakthrough debut which features new artwork, previously unpublished in-studio and live performance photos, a bonus 7 inch featuring three previously unreleased originals, live, in-studio versions of “Colors,” “October 33,” and “Confines;” a live version of “Know You Better,” recorded at C-Boys Heart & Soul, the Austin club, where the band first made a name for themselves;the band’s attention-grabbing covers of The Beatles‘ “Eleanor Rigby,” Death’s “Politicians in My Eyes,” Bobby “Blue” Bland‘s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City,” and Tracy Chapman‘s “Fast Car.”

Black Pumas are currently touring Europe. And after a couple of weeks off, the JOVM mainstays will embark on a West Coast tour to end the year. 2022 sees the band playing Nashville and a couple of North American festivals. They make stops in South America before returning to the states for Boston Calling next March. Next June and July, the band returns to Europe. As always those tour dates are below — and if they’re in a town near you, I’d suggest you get a ticket and catch Black Pumas.

Initially only available as part of Spotify Holiday Singles, the Austin-based JOVM mainstays’ cover of Lou Rawls‘ “Christmas Will Really Be Christmas” is finally available everywhere for the first time.

Buried on the B-side of Rawls’ 1967 Christmas-themed album Merry Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho!, “Christmas Will Really Be Christmas” was written by James Alexander, whose credits include Sam Cooke’s “Lost and Lookin’,” the R&B standard “I Like It Like That” recorded by everyone from Ray Charles to Van Morrison, Ben Raleigh’s “Laughing on the Outside,” “Faith Can Move Mountains,” “Tell Laura I Love Her” and “Wonderful, Wonderful,” a string of tunes for Lesley Gore, Rawls’ own “Dead End Street” and “Love Is a Hurtin’ Thing,” jazz standard “Midnight Mood” and incredibly the theme song for Scooby Doo, “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?” The original is a slow-burning, minor-key funky bit of soul with profound and much-needed message: Christmas can’t be Christmas without peace, love and happiness for all.

The Black Pumas cover speeds the tempo up a bit and features a series of subtle changes — Burton keeps to his slightly higher register, the horns are replaced with the band’s incredible backing singles, the keys are a bit punchier and placed a bit more forward in the mix. The end result is a cover that the JOVM mainstays make their own while being faithful to the original’s spirit, feel and time period. It’s a difficult balance that the band has made seemingly effortless.

“We were really attracted to the message, the lyrics, the arrangement, the feeling,” Black Pumas’ frontman Eric Burton explains. “It’s a message that needs to be heard right now. I was a little nervous about singing in Lou Rawls’ low register, so I sang it an octave higher and it was nice to arrange vocals with the ladies [backup singers Lauren Cervantes and Angela Miller] as well to put our own spin on it.”

Producer/bandleader Adrian Quesada adds, “A Christmas song isn’t exactly something that we set out to do, but this Lou Rawls song is amazing. It was produced by one of my favorite arrangers and producers, David Axelrod. On that side of it I was drawn to it initially and I confirmed with Eric. I think we were both attracted to the message too, it touches on a message that I think is poignant to today’s times, that Christmas isn’t really Christmas until everyone has peace and happiness.”

Tour Dates

11/16/21 – Lille, France @ Aérone SOLD OUT

11/17/21 – Nantes, Pays de la Loire @ Stéréolux SOLD OUT

11/18/21 – Paris, France @ L’Olympia

11/20/21 – Madrid, Spain @ La Riviera SOLD OUT

12/4/21 – Key West, FL @ Coast is Clear Music & Arts Fest

12/8/21 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater

12/9/21 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater

12/10/21 – Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre

12/12/21 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot

12/15/21 – San Francisco, CA @ The Masonic

12/16/21 – San Francisco, CA @ The Masonic

12/17/21 – Los Angeles, CA @ YouTube Theater

12/18/21 – Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues Las Vegas

2/4/22 – Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium SOLD OUT

2/5/22 – Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium

2/26/22 – 2/27/22 – Tempe, AZ @ Innings Festival

3/2/22 – 3/5/22 – Cancún, Mexico @ My Morning Jacket’s One Big Holiday

3/19/22 – 3/20/22 – Mexico City, CDMX @ Vive Latino

3/25/22 – 3/27/22 – São Paulo, SP @ Lollapalooza Brasil

3/25/22 – 3/27/22 – Bogotá, Colombia @ Estereo Picnic

3/27/22 – 3/29/22 – Boston, MA @ Boston Calling

6/18/22 – Oslo, Norway @ Rockefeller Music Hall

6/19/22 – Stockholm, Sweden @ Berns  

6/21/22 – Hamburg, Germany @ Fabrik

6/22/22 – Dortmund, DE @ FZW

6/29/22 – Roskilde, Denmark @ Roskilde Festival

6/30/22 – Barcelona, Spain @ Vida Festival

7/8/22 – 7/10/22 – Trenčín, Slovakia @ Pohoda Festival

7/8/22 – Madrid, Spain @ Mad Cool Festival

New Video: Redman Contributes to Posthumously Released Third Version of Phife Dawg’s and Illa J’s Loving Ode to Montreal

Born Malik Izaak Taylor, the legendary and beloved Phife Dawg was a co-founder of the multi-Grammy Award nominated, multi-platinum selling, equally legendary and beloved hip-hop act A Tribe Called Quest. Along with his work with Tribe, Phife Dawg was a solo artist, who collaborated with lengthy lists of acts and artists including Fu-Schnickens, Diamond D, Chi-Ali, Black Sheep‘s Dres, De La Soul‘s Trugoy and countless others, eventually releasing his solo debut album, 2000’s Ventilation: Da LP.

If you’re a hip-hop head, you’d remember that the members of A Tribe Called Quest — Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Jarobi White and Ali Shaheed Muhammad — reunited in 2006 to help Phife Dawg with mounting medical expenses as a result of complications with diabetes. They co-headlined that year’s Bumbershoot Festival and played a handful of sold-out across across the States, Canada and Japan, including making appearances at the 2K Sports Bounce Tour. According to Phife Dawg, the members of the beloved hip-hop had planned to release an album to finish-off their six-album contract with Jive Records.

008, A Tribe Called Quest was the headlining act for that year’s Rock the Bells tour. Taylor, who had been dealing with complications from diabetes over the past decade, wound up receiving a kidney translate from his wife. At the end of the that year, Q-Tip released his long-awaited sophomore album The Renaissance, which he followed with the release of 2009’s Kamaal The Abstract, which had been shelved for over seven years.

Tribe co-headlined 2010’s Rock the Bells and that year, Taylor had planned to release his highly-anticipated sophomore album Songs in the Key of Phife: Volume 1 (Cheryl’s Big Son); however, continued health issues delayed the release of the album. In 2013, it was reported that Phife had went back to work on his sophomore album, which was re-titled MUTTYmorPHosis. During that same period, the tense relationship between the act’s co-founder was famously documented in Michael Rapaport’s 2011 documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest.

rs of A Tribe Called Quest reunited to perform on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the act’s debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. In what would be the last few months of his life, Taylor had been incredibly busy: he had finished his long-anticipated sophomore album, now titled Forever, collaborating with a collection of trusted, All-Star producers and artists. Additionally, Tribe had secretly gone into the studio to work on what would be their sixth and final album We Got It From Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service. Tragically, Taylor died as the entire group were finishing the album; the remaining members finished the album and posthumously released the album, as a tribute to their co-founder.

ily and estate will be finally releasing Phife Dawg’s long-awaited sophomore album Forever later this year. “He worked really hard to complete his album before he transitioned, and he was ready to share an album that was near and dear to his heart with his fans,” Taylor’s family says of the album. “His fans meant the world to him.” So far, one single has been released from the album, “Nutshell, Part 2,” featuring Busta Rhymes and Redman — and as a taste of the album, it’s a classic New York hip-hop banger, in which three legendary emcees spit bars and trade zingers over a subtle DJ Rasta Root reworking of a J. Dilla production.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “French Kiss Deux,” which found the beloved and legendary “Five Foot Assassin” teamed up with Vancouver-based production duo Potatohead People and J. Dilla’s younger brother Illa J on a tribute to one of my favorite cities, Montreal that featured the two emcees trading verses admiring the city’s beautiful women and scenery over a subtle Potatohead People remix of the original. The end result is a vibey J. Dilla-like Golden Era hip-hop production centered around shimmering Rhodes, reverb drenched horns and twitter and woofer rocking beats. It’s an infectious, feel good banger — that for me brings back some fond memories of the Quebecois city.

Phife’s estate released a new version of French Kiss, “French Kiss Trois,” which features a new guest verse with the legendary Redman, who helps to build upon a loving ode to Montreal. The third installment came to life when Redman heard “Deux” back in May and fell so deeply in love with the song that he desperately wanted to become a part of a new version of the song.

Redman’s guest verse sees the legendary emcee alternating between hilariously crude while joking about finding a girl that would be comfortable enough to fart in the tub near you, and ask if she wants to watch wrestling or boxing. But simultaneously, Red manages to paint a loving picture of a strong, confident, down to earth woman — the sort of woman that straight men would consider themselves profoundly lucky to find. Maybe that woman can be found in lovely Montreal, right?

“It’s dope to see the evolution of this song, from the first version on my album Illa J to Phife’s version, to 6 years later Potatohead people doing a sick remix of the track, and now Redman adding a verse to it, with Ali Shaheed on the mix,” Illa J says in press notes. “It’s an honor having a track with 2 hip-hop legends on it, this one will always be a special joint for me.”

“When Red called my phone and told me that he had ‘French Kiss Deux’ on repeat, I knew what was coming next,” Dion “Roots” Liverpool adds. “Hedidn’t even have to ask me and I was excited. Once he sent me a video of his computer and pressed play, I remembered yelling really loud!!”

day Dion called and said that Redman had French Kiss on repeat and immediately wrote a verse, I was excited. Phife would be going crazy with Red being on this song,.”Phife’s wife Deisha Taylor shares. “Anytime you hear Redman on any track you know it will be dope. The atmosphere and energy shifts when he is on any song or walks in the building.”

“As soon as I heard the song, I played it back-to-back 100 + times. I had to hit Potatohead People and Dion to tell them I was writing a verse,” Redman says. “Being in the music video was amazing, and I know I’m doing it for Phife. I don’t think he gets enough credit, so God made this my mission to help best way I can.”

Executive produced by Phife Dawg’s longtime friend and collaborator, Dion “Roots” Liverpool and co-directed by Redman, Tony Reames and Konee Rock, the recently released video for “French Kiss Trois” follows Redman and Ill J in Montreal, admiring and hanging out with the city’s beautiful women — at beautiful locations. The video, features some gorgeous animation of Phife and a special guest appearance from Phife’s widow Deisha Taylor, lovingly reminiscing over photos of her husband. The video ends with the group coming together to celebrate and honor Phife’s life and work.

Lyric Video: Aussie-born, British-based Artist Jess Chalker Releases a Shimmering, 80s Pop-Inspired Single

Jess Chalker is a Sydney-born, London-based singer/songwriter and producer, who started her career as the frontwoman of Aussie New Wave duo We Are The Brave. Since We Are The Brave’s breakup, Chalker has developed a reputation as a highly sought-after collaborator, who has worked with Sam Fischer, Vintage Culture, Isamachine, Gold Kimono, and Passenger. Chalker was part of the the Grammy Award-winning songwriting and production team that cowrote Lisa Loeb’s lead single on the acclaimed artist’s kids record Feel What U Feel. And recently, the Aussie-born, British-based singer/songwriter and producer composed “Darkest Hour” for the Amazon Original series Panic, performed by Tate McRae.

Chalker steps out into the limelight as a solo artist with her full-length debut, Hemispheres. The album received funding from the Australia Council for the Arts and is slated for a November 5, 2021 release through her own imprint 528 Records. The album was completed under the weight of the pandemic, and as Chalker grappled with the loss of her day job and heartbreaking health issues simultaneously. Much like countless others across the globe, she found herself spiraling and she turned to music for the creative outlet she needed. Collaborating with friends across Sydney, Los Angeles and London, including Dan Long, Josh Humphreys and Chalker’s former We Are The Brave bandmate Ox Why, Chalker wound up finishing what would turn out to be a deeply emotional album. And interestingly enough, she managed to find much longed-for freedom in the process: “Releasing this album is terrifying and thrilling to me,” the Aussie-born, British-based artist says in press notes. “I grew up in a religion that discouraged us from pursuing career success, where women weren’t allowed on stage to address an audience directly. I think it’s why I’ve always tried to avoid the spotlight but, after the year we’ve all had, my perspective on things has changed quite a lot. I’m not wasting any more time doubting myself.”

Sonically, the album reportedly finds Chalker and her collaborators crafting material featuring guitar-driven hooks and retro synths paired with the Aussie-born, British-based artist’s expressive vocals. Thematically, the album deals with themes that explore the dichotomy between depression and hopefulness, self-doubt and self-love and more. Hemispheres’ third and latest single “Don’t Fight It” was cowritten by Chalker. Grammy Award-winning collaborator Rich Jacques and Martjin Tinus Konijnenburg and was co-produced across Los Angeles and London by Chalker and Jacques. “Don’t Fight It” is centered around glistening synth arpeggios, propulsive, reverb-drenched drums, Chalker’s expressive vocals and her unerring knack of crafting a razor sharp and accessible hook. And while sonically being deeply indebted to 80s synth pop with hints of Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush and Prince, the song is full of bittersweet longing and uncertainty while featuring a narrator who’s physically and emotionally lost and confused.

“There’s a bittersweetness to ‘Don’t Fight It’ that I love… It feels both joyful and sad to me,” Chalker explains in press notes. ““It was written at a time when I was going through some personal stuff, trying really hard to please everyone, not really knowing where I fit and becoming someone I wasn’t. In the end I really surrendered to that feeling of being lost, because acknowledging that made me realize I needed to change where I was going.”

The recently released animated lyric video for “Don’t Fight It” was directed by Thomas Calder and fittingly the visual is centered around 80s video game graphics paired with a noir-ish color palette and sensibility.

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay Yola Performs “Stand For Myself” on “Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

With the release of 2019’s Walk Through Fire, her critically applauded Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut, the the Bristol, UK-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola had a breakthrough year, which included:

making her New York debut at Rockwood Music Hall
playing a buzz-worthy, breakout performance at that year’s SXSW
opening for a list of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates that featured stops at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors
playing a YouTube session at YouTube Space New York
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas
making her late night national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! 
releasing a soulful cover of Elton John‘s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, ”that not only quickly became a staple of her live sets — but caught the attention of Sir Elton John, who praised her and her cover

year, the JOVM mainstay had a massive year ahead of her. Early in the year, it was announced that she was cast to play gospel, blues and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama Elvis alongside Austin Butler in the title role, Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Presley’s mother. Much like everyone else, the pandemic threw an enormous monkey wrench in her plans: Tom Hanks wound contracting COVID-19 while filming in Australia. Pandemic-related lockdowns, quarantines and restrictions added further delays to the filming schedule.

or country superstar Chris Stapleton (at Madison Square Garden!) and for Grammy Award-winning acts  The Black Keys and Brandi Carlile. Those dates were eventually postponed with some dates rescheduled for later this year. (As always, tour dates will be below.)

Luckily, the Bristol-born, Nashville-based JOVM mainstay was able to finish her first Stateside headlining tour, a tour that included a Music Hall of Williamsburg a few weeks before the pandemic wrecked havoc across the globe. With the pandemic putting everything on pause, Yola managed to remain busy: She made virtual stops across the domestic, late night television circuit, which included playing album bonus track “I Don’t Want to Lie” on The Late Late Show with James Corden and a gospel-tinged cover Nina Simone‘s classic and beloved “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” filmed at The Ryman Auditorium for Late Night with Seth Meyers.

With the unexpected gift of time and space, Yola founded herself physically and mentally as she began to write the material that would eventually become her soon-to-be released sophomore album Stand For Myself. Interestingly, some of the album’s material was written several years perviously and was inspired by some deeply personal moments, like her mother’s funeral. Other songs were written during pandemic quarantine and isolation, and as a result, they reflect on personal and collective moments of longing and awakening, inspired and informed by Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements. Album tracks were cowritten with an incredibly diverse array of collaborators including Ruby Amanfu, John Bettis, Pat McLaughlin, Natalie Hemby, Joy Oladokun, Paul Overstreet, Liz Rose, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Hannah Vasanth and Bobby Wood.

Thematically, Stand For Myself’s material will make a connection with anyone who has ever experienced the feeling as though they were an “other,” while urging the listener to challenge the biases and assumptions that fuel bigotry, inequality and tokenism — all of which have impacted Yola’s personal life and career in some way or another.

thinking and paradigm shift at their core.” Yola says in press note, adding, “It is an album not blindly positive and it does not simply plead for everyone to come together. It instead explores ways that we need to stand for ourselves throughout our lives, what limits our connection as humans and declares that real change will come when we challenge our thinking and acknowledge our true complexity.” Ultimately, the JOVM mainstay’s hope is that the album will encourage both empathy and self actualization, all while returning to where she started, to the real Yola. “I kind of got talked out of being me, and now I’m here. This is who I’ve always been in music and in life. There was a little hiatus where I got brainwashed out of my own majesty, but a bitch is back.”

ngside Aaron Frazier (drums), a rising solo artist in his own right, the album is sonically is a noticeable shift from her debut, inspired by the seminal albums she discovered through her mother’s record collection, as well as the eclectic mixtapes featuring neo-soul, R&B, Brit Pop and others that she created as a young person listening to British radio. Aesthetically, the album frequently is a mesh of symphonic soul and classic pop that occasionally hints at the country soul of her breakthrough debut.

For Myself” is a bold feminist anthem written from the perspective of a survivor, who boldly asserts her desire to thrive and to be wholly herself — in her own terms and at all costs. While reflecting on the JOVM mainstay’s belief in the possibility of paradigm shift beyond the noxious mental programming that creates tokenism and bigotry, the song is centered around a rousingly anthemic, shout-along worthy chorus, Yola’s soulful, powerhouse vocals paired with a clean, modern Nashville meets symphonic pop sound.

“The song’s protagonist ‘token,’ has been shrinking themselves to fit into the narrative of another’s making, but it becomes clear that shrinking is pointless,” Yola explains. She adds “This song is about a celebration of being awake from the nightmare supremacist paradigm. Truly alive, awake and eyes finally wide open and trained on your path to self actualisation. You are thinking freely and working on undoing the mental programming that has made you live in fear. It is about standing for ourselves throughout our lives and real change coming when we challenge our thinking. This is who I’ve always been in music and in life.”

Last night, the JOVM mainstay performed a subtly stripped down version of “Stand For Myself” accompanied by a guest spot from Jon Batiste that managed to retain the song’s anthemic nature and powerfully necessary message.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Yola Releases a Rousing, Feminist Anthem

With the release of her critically applauded, Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut, 2019’s Walk Through Fire, the Bristol, UK-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola had a breakthrough year with a series of career-defining highlights including:

making her New York debut at Rockwood Music Hall
playing a buzz-worthy, breakout performance at that year’s SXSW
opening for a list of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates that featured stops at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors
playing a YouTube session at YouTube Space New York
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas
making her late night national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! 
releasing a soulful cover of Elton John‘s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,”that not only quickly became a staple of her live sets — but caught the attention of Sir Elton John, who praised her and her cover

Last year, the JOVM mainstay had hopes to build upon the momentum of the previous year with a handful of opportunities that came her way that many artists across the world would kill for: Early in the year, it was announced that she was going to play blues and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama Elvis alongside Austin Butler in the title role, Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Presley’s mother. Unfortunately, much like with everyone else,the COVID-19 pandemic threw a series of monkey wrenches into her hopes and plans: Tom Hanks wound up contracting COVID-19 while filming in Australia and because of pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions, filming was delayed. During breaks in the filming schedule, she was supposed to open for a handful of dates for country superstar Chris Stapleton and Grammy Award-winning acts  The Black Keys and Brandi Carlile — with one of those shows being at Madison Square Garden, which also got postponed until later on this year. (More on that below.)

However, Yola was able to finish her first Stateside headlining tour, a tour that included a stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg, a few weeks before the world went into lockdown.  In lieu of touring, the Bristol-born, Nashville-based artist wound up making virtual stops across the domestic, late night television show circuit: She played album bonus track “I Don’t Want to Lie” on The Late Late Show with James Corden — and she played a gospel-tinged cover of Nina Simone‘s classic and beloved “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” filmed at The Ryman Auditorium for Late Night with Seth Meyers. 

The Bristol-born, Nashville-based JOVM mainstay used the unexpected gift of time and space to ground herself physically and mentally as she began to write the material that would eventually become her highly-anticipated sophomore album Stand For Myself. Some of the album’s material was written several years previously and inspired by deeply personal moments, like her mother’s funeral. Other songs were written during pandemic isolation, and as a result they reflect on her personal and collective moments of longing and awakening — inspired and informed by Black Lives Matter and other movements.

Tracks were also cowritten with Ruby Amanfu, John Bettis, Pat McLaughlin, Natalie Hemby, Joy Oladokun, Paul Overstreet, Liz Rose, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Hannah Vasanth and Bobby Wood. But importantly, the album’s material will most likely make a connection with anyone who has experienced feeling as though they were an “other” while urging the listener to challenge the biases and assumptions that fuel bigotry, inequality and tokenism — all of which have impacted her personal life and career.

“It’s a collection of stories of allyship, black feminine strength through vulnerability, and loving connection from the sexual to the social. All celebrating a change in thinking and paradigm shift at their core.” Yola says in press note, adding, “It is an album not blindly positive and it does not simply plead for everyone to come together. It instead explores ways that we need to stand for ourselves throughout our lives, what limits our connection as humans and declares that real change will come when we challenge our thinking and acknowledge our true complexity.” Ultimately, the JOVM mainstay’s hope is that the album will encourage both empathy and self actualization, all while returning to where she started, to the real Yola. “I kind of got talked out of being me, and now I’m here. This is who I’ve always been in music and in life. There was a little hiatus where I got brainwashed out of my own majesty, but a bitch is back.”

Continuing her ongoing collaboration with acclaimed producer, singer/songwriter, musician and label head Dan Auerbach, the album which was recorded late last year at Easy Eye Sound is inspired by the seminal albums she initially discovered through her mother’s record collection, as well as the eclectic mixtapes she created while listening to British radio that featured neo soul, R&B, Brit Pop and others. Featuring a backing band that includes Nick Movshon (bass), best known for his work with Amy Winehouse and Bruno Mars alongside Aaron Frazier (drums), a rising solo artist in his own right, the album is sonically is a noticeable shift from her debut, with the album’s aesthetic meshing symphonic soul and classic pop while occasionally hinting at the country soul of her critically applauded debut.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Stand For Myself’s first single, “Diamond Studded Shoes,” a woozy yet seamless synthesis of densely layered Phil Spector-like Wall of Sound pop, country, 70s singer/songwriter pop and late 60s/early 70s Motown soul centered around the JOVM mainstay’s powerhouse vocals and some of the most incisive sociopolitical commentary of her growing catalog. “This song explores the false divides created to distract us from those few who are in charge of the majority of the world’s wealth and use the ‘divide and conquer’ tactic to keep it,” Yola explained in press notes. “This song calls on us to unite and turn our focus to those with a stranglehold on humanity.”

Interestingly, Stand For Myself’s second and latest single is the album title track “Stand For Myself.” Centered around a rousing, shout-along worthy hook, Yola’s powerhouse vocals and a clean, pop-leaning take on the Nashville sound, the song was cowritten by Yola, Dan Auerbach and Hannah Vasanth — and features The McCrary Sisters contributing backing vocals. The track manages to be a bold and proudly feminist anthem written from the perspective of a survivor, who wants to thrive and be wholly herself — at all costs. And yet much like its immediate predecessor, there’s incisive social commentary underpinning the whole affair: Essentially, the track reflects on the JOVM mainstays’ belief in the possibility of paradigm shift beyond the mental programming that creates both tokenism and bigotry.  “The song’s protagonist ‘token,’ has been shrinking themselves to fit into the narrative of another’s making, but it becomes clear that shrinking is pointless,” Yola explains. She adds “This song is about a celebration of being awake from the nightmare supremacist paradigm. Truly alive, awake and eyes finally wide open and trained on your path to self actualisation. You are thinking freely and working on undoing the mental programming that has made you live in fear. It is about standing for ourselves throughout our lives and real change coming when we challenge our thinking. This is who I’ve always been in music and in life.”

Directed by Allister Ann, the recently released video visually is indebted to Missy Elliott’s classic videos of the ’90s and ’00s but with strobe lights and a motorcycle to symbolize, the JOVM mainstay’s escape — and freedom — from those forces that have been oppressing her. And most importantly, depicting a much more nuanced definition of Black female strength — a strength thats balanced with vulnerability. r”My school years were during the 90s and 00s, and Missy Elliott’s videos were always aesthetically superior to me,” Yola says of the video. “I feel that the video is set in the antechamber to freedom. The feeling of escaping something truly oppressive and heading towards an unknown with a sense of hope and choice you haven’t felt in a long time. We all have the capacity to go through this process in our own minds, I kinda look like a superhero at times, but I’m not. I’m just a person trying to be free.”

Lyric Video: Phife Dawg Teamed Up with Illa J and Potatohead People on a Posthumously Released Souful Tribute to Montreal

Born Malik Izaak Taylor, the legendary and beloved Phife Dawg was a co-founder of the multi-Grammy Award nominated, multi-platinum selling, equally legendary and beloved hip-hop act A Tribe Called Quest. Along with his work with Tribe, Phife Dawg was a solo artist, who collaborated with lengthy lists of acts and artists including Fu-Schnickens, Diamond D, Chi-Ali, Black Sheep‘s Dres, De La Soul‘s Trugoy and countless others, eventually releasing his solo debut album, 2000’s Ventilation: Da LP.

If you’re a hip-hop head, you’d remember that the members of A Tribe Called Quest — Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Jarobi White and Ali Shaheed Muhammad — reunited in 2006 to help Phife Dawg with mounting medical expenses as a result of complications with diabetes. They co-headlined that year’s Bumbershoot Festival and played a handful of sold-out across across the States, Canada and Japan, including making appearances at the 2K Sports Bounce Tour. According to Phife Dawg, the members of the beloved hip-hop had planned to release an album to finish-off their six-album contract with Jive Records.

In 2008, A Tribe Called Quest was the headlining act for that year’s Rock the Bells tour. Taylor, who had been dealing with complications from diabetes over the past decade, wound up receiving a kidney translate from his wife. At the end of the that year, Q-Tip released his long-awaited sophomore album The Renaissance, which he followed with the release of 2009’s Kamaal The Abstract, which had been shelved for over seven years.

Tribe co-headlined 2010’s Rock the Bells and that year, Taylor had planned to release his highly-anticipated sophomore album Songs in the Key of Phife: Volume 1 (Cheryl’s Big Son); however, continued health issues delayed the release of the album. In 2013, it was reported that Phife had went back to work on his sophomore album, which was re-titled MUTTYmorPHosis. During that same period, the tense relationship between the act’s co-founder was famously documented in Michael Rapaport’s 2011 documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest.

In 2015, the members of A Tribe Called Quest reunited to perform on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the act’s debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. In what would be the last few months of his life, Taylor had been incredibly busy: he had finished his long-anticipated sophomore album, now titled Forever, collaborating with a collection of trusted, All-Star producers and artists. Additionally, Tribe had secretly gone into the studio to work on what would be their sixth and final album We Got It From Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service. Tragically, Taylor died as the entire group were finishing the album; the remaining members finished the album and posthumously released the album, as a tribute to their co-founder.

Taylor’s family and estate will be finally releasing Phife Dawg’s long-awaited sophomore album Forever later this year. “He worked really hard to complete his album before he transitioned, and he was ready to share an album that was near and dear to his heart with his fans,” Taylor’s family says of the album. “His fans meant the world to him.” So far, one single has been released from the album, “Nutshell, Part 2,” featuring Busta Rhymes and Redman — and as a taste of the album, it’s a classic New York hip-hop banger, in which three legendary emcees spit bars and trade zingers over a subtle DJ Rasta Root reworking of a J. Dilla production.

“French Kiss Deux,” Forever‘s second and latest single finds the beloved “Five Foot Assassin” teaming up with Vancouver-based production duo Potatohead Peopleand J. Dilla’s younger brother Illa J on a tribute to one of my favorite cities, Montreal: Phife and Illa J trade verses about some of that city’s beautiful women and scenery over a warm and vibey neo-soul meets Golden Era hip-hop production centered around shimmering Rhodes, reverb drenched horns and twitter and woofer rocking beats. Simply put, it’s an infectious, feel good banger.

The recently released lyric video is primarily centered around the gorgeous artwork for the “French Kiss Deux” single artwork and its color scheme.