Tag: Grammy Award

Over the past 18 months, the Mollymook, Australia-born, Sydney, Australia-based sibling duo Clews — Grace and Lily Richardson — have quickly emerged into their homeland’s national scene with the release of their first two singles “Museum” and “Crushed,” which displayed the sibling duo’s soaring vocal and guitar harmonies. As a result of the attention they’ve received for their first two singles, the Richardsons have opened for Portugal. The Man, Laurel, Albert Hammond, Jr. and Ocean Alley — and recently, they’ve headlined their own shows.

Building upon their growing national profile, the duo’s Nick DiDia-produced latest single “Hollywood” continues their collaboration with the Grammy Award-winning producer, who has worked with Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against The Machine and Pearl Jam. Sonically, the track is centered around shimmering and jangling guitars, the Richardson’s gorgeous harmonies and a soaring hook. And while the song subtly recalls the slick yet heartfelt pop of Lily & Madeleine, the song finds the sibling duo thematically focuses on the growing pains felt during the transition between youth and adulthood — and is rooted in autobiographical detail and the hard-won personal experience.

“‘Hollywood’ describes feeling so small that you end up making yourself invisible,” Clews’ Grace Richardson says in press notes. “It is full of self-fulfilling prophecies, and the common theme of feeling strongest when you’re alone. It’s a lot about what forces act on us to change our personalities.”

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Earlier this year, I wrote about the commercially and critically successful London-based soul and funk act The Brand New Heavies. And as you may recall, the act which is led by founding members, primary songwriters and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Levy and Simon Bartholomew was at the forefront of Britain’s late 80s and early 90s Acid Jazz movement, alongside the likes of Young Disciples and Grammy Award-winning and multi-BRIT Award-winning act Jamiorquai.

With the release of their debut single, the celebrated club classic “Got To Give,” through Chrysalis Records, the members of The Brand New Heavies began to make waves in their native UK. Eventually, the band signed to Acid Jazz Records, who released their applauded self-titled debut album in 1990 across Europe and elsewhere, while the album was picked up in the US by renowned hip-hop label Delicious Vinyl. Now, if you were around and conscious back in 1990, you’d likely recall their debut album’s Top Three R&B smash hit, “Never Stop,” which led to the album being on the R&B Album charts for the better part of year — and to the act winning a MTV award for the track. As a result of the wild success of “Never Stop,” the album went on to becoming arguably the most commercially successful of their career, as it went Gold in the UK.

Interestingly, the London-based funk and foul act’s full-length debut proved to be both popular and influential within hip-hop circles. In fact, the members of the band have wound up collaborating with an impressive array of the genre’s luminaries including A Tribe Called Quest, and Kool G. Rap, Gang Starr and Main Source for Heavy Rhyme Experience.

The London-based neo-soul act’s follow-up two immediate efforts — 1994’s Brother Sister and 1997’s Shelter — went Platinum, with the act eventually scoring 16 Top 40 hits including “Dream Come True,” “Stay This Way,” “Midnight At The Oasis,” “Sometimes,” and “Dream On Dreamer.

Coincidentally, the acclaimed London-based funk and foul act have been a major influence on the equally acclaimed, smash-hit multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ and singer/songwriter Mark Ronson, who caught their first lineup and first show in New York in 1991. Ronson invited the members of the band to play at his 40th birthday party — and later began collaborating with the band on the first batch of new material in over five years, the disco-like groove “Getaway” which featured a horn line that hinted at Cheryl Lynn‘s 1978 disco smash hit “Got To Be Real,” and the soulfully sultry vocals of longtime vocalist N’Dea Davenport, with whom they’ve earned their biggest charting, best-selling work.

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through their longtime label home Acid Jazz, the band’s forthcoming Sir Tristan Longworth-produced album TBNH finds The Brand New Heavies carefully refining and reimagining the sound that won them international acclaim while featuring a variety of vocalists throughout the album — including longtime vocalists N’Dea Davenport and Siedah Garret along with Beverly Knight, Angie Stone, current vocalist Angela Ricci and labelmate Laville. TBNH‘s latest single is a breezy, 70s soul-tinged cover of Kendrick Lamar‘s “These Walls” that features longtime vocalist N’Dea Davenport, a warm, Quincy Jones-like horn arrangement, twinkling Rhodes and a sultry hook — and while retaining the soulfulness and swagger of the original, The Brand New Heavies gently push the street banger into the lounge and into the club.

 

 

 

New Audio: the bird and the bee’s Jazz-like Take on Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher”

Last month, I wrote about the Los Angeles-based indie pop act the bird and the bee — singer/songwriter Inara George and seven time Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin, who has worked with the likes of Sia, Adele, Beck, Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney — and as you may recall, the act can trace their origins to when the duo 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 to work together in a jazz-influenced electro pop project.

The Los Angeles indie pop duo’s debut EP Again and Again and Again and Again was released in late 2006. They quickly followed that up with their self-titled full-length debut in early 2007 — and with their earliest releases George and Kurstin quickly developed a reputation for bringing a breezy elegance to their work, which finds them putting their own idiosyncratic twist on time-bending indie pop.

Although serving as the long-awaited follow up to 2015’s Recreational Love, the bird and the bee’s fifth album, Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen actually closely follows 2010’s critically applauded Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Hall & Oates. And while Van Halen‘s most anthemic and beloved work may initially seem like an unlikely vessel for the Los Angeles-based duo’s sound and approach, George and Kurstin are both lifelong fans of David Lee Roth-era Van Halen. Back in 2007, George caught her first-ever Van Halen show — and it was the first tour to feature David Lee Roth as the band’s frontman since 1985. George was so charmed by Roth’s presence, that after that show, she approached Kurstin about writing a song for Roth. The end result was the swooning serenade “Diamond Dave,” which appeared on their 2008 sophomore album Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future. “We asked him to be in the video, but instead he signed a picture and gave me the yellow top hat he’d worn at the show I saw, which I thought was very sweet,” George says in press notes. “When we were trying to figure out who to cover for the second volume of Interpreting the Masters, we were both a little bit like, ‘Oh my god, can we really do it?’ But then we just went for it.”

Slated for an August 2, 2019 release through No Expectations/Release Me Records, the duo’s fifth album features an impressive backing band of guest musicians including Justin Meldal Johnsen (bass), who has worked with Beck and Nine Inch Nails; Joey Waronker (drums), who has worked with R.E.M and Elliott Smith; and Omar Hakim (drums), who has worked with the David Bowieand Miles Davis assisting the duo in making familiar David Lee Roth-era Van Halen anthems completely their own, imbuing even the most over-the-top tracks with a slinky intimacy.

Interestingly, for Kurstin, an accomplished jazz pianist, who once studied with Jaki Byard, a pianist that once played in Charles Mingus‘ band, one of the greatest challenges he had translating Eddie Van Halen’s virtuoso guitar work into piano arrangements that kept some of the spirit and vibe of the original. “I know there’s a jazz influence with the Van Halen brothers, so I tried to channel some of the things that I felt might’ve influenced Eddie,” Kurstin notes. “In a way ‘Eruption’ is almost like a piece of classical music, so I mostly treated it that way as I interpreted it for piano,” he adds, referring to the iconic instrumental guitar solo from Van Halen’s self-titled debut. 

While creating arrangements around Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work will reveal the duo’s ingenuity and playfulness as interpreters and arrangers paired with a deeply nuanced reading of the material, which is influenced by their deep and profound emotional connection to the band.“I remember being 10-years-old and seeing their videos and feeling both excited and totally terrified—I responded to them in this very visceral way,” George says in press notes. Kurstin, who also is a lifelong fan, actually got a chance to work with Eddie Van Halen in the early 80s when the Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist was a 12 year-old member of Dweezil Zappa’s band. “I got to hang out with him in the studio and go backstage when Van Halen played The Forum, which was a really big moment for my younger self,” Kurstin recalls.

The album’s two singles found the members of the bird and the bee taking on Van Halen’s “Panama” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” The duo turned “Panama” from a power chord-based arena rock anthem into a sultry club banger, centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, bright blasts of twinkling piano and cowbell, a wobbling Bootsy Collins-like bass line and George’s sensual vocal delivery. Their cover of”Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” was a slinky and shimmering New Wave-like take that recalled New Order and It’s Blitz-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs while imbued with a feverish quality.  The album’s third latest single finds the band taking on “Hot For Teacher,” the last official single that band released with their original lineup.  Featuring drummer Omar Hakim, who has worked with David Bowie, Sting, Daft Punk, Weather Report, Madonna, Kate Bush and others and a spoken word cameo from Beck, the bird and the bee deliver a swinging bop jazz-inspired take that actually pulls, tugs and teases out the jazziness of the original — particularly within Eddie Van Halen’s dexterous guitar solo-ing. Interestingly, much like Easy Star All-Stars take on Dark Side of the Moon, the bird and the bee version of “Hot For Teacher” isn’t a purely straightforward cover — rather, it’s a subtle and mischievous modernization that retains the spirit and intent of the song in a thoughtful and loving way. 

Live Footage: Mavis Staples Performs “We Get By” on “CBS This Morning Saturday Sessions”

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the legendary, Chicago-born singer, actress, and civil rights activist Mavis Staples and throughout a music career that has spanned over eight decades, several different genres and styles as a member of The Staple Singers and as a solo artist, Staples has had achieved commercial and critical success, as well as a proverbial boatload of accolades. Staples has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards with the Staples Singers, winning one — a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2004. She received a Grammy nod for a collaboration with Bob Dylan. And as a solo artist, she’s been nominated for five Grammys, winning two — Best Americana Album for 2010’s You Are Not Alone and a Best American Roots Performance for  2015’s”See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.” The legendary, Chicago-born vocalist has also been nominated for 11 Blues Music Awards, winning nine, including Album of the Year for 2004’s Have A Little Faith, which featured Song of the Year and album title track “Have A Little Faith.” She’s also won three Soul Blues Female Artist Awards — one in 2004 and back to back wins in 2017 and 2018. And let’s not forget that Mavis was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Staple Singers in 1999, was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2016 and inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2017. 

Staples turns 80 next month — July 10, 2019 — and while many artists at her age and with her achievements would have understandably begun to slow down, the legendary vocalist has managed to be wildly prolific, releasing three, critically applauded albums in her late 70s with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Her latest album, the Ben Harper written and produced, We Get By was released by her longtime label home Anti- Records a few weeks ago, and as the legendary vocalist says in press notes, “When I first started reading the lyrics Ben wrote for me, I said to myself, ‘My God, he’s saying everything that needs to be said right now. But the songs were also true to my journey and the stories I’ve been singing all my life. There’s a spirituality and an honesty to Ben’s writing that took me back to church.”

“I come from a family of Mavis fans,” the multi-Grammy nominated and multi-Grammy winning Ben Harper explains in press notes, “so her music has been woven into the fabric of my life from the very start. When I got the call for this gig, it felt like my entire career, everything I’d ever written, had been pre-production for this.” 

The imitable Mavis Staples was recently on CBS This Morning’s Saturday Sessions where she and her backing band performed the uplifting album title track”We Get By.” Naturally, the track is what Staples has long specialized in: heartfelt, uplifting spirituals centered around lived-in experience — particularly, finding some way to survive in a difficult and uneasy world with your dignity, sanity and spiritual life intact. 

Comprised of singer/songwriter Inara George and seven time Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin, who has worked with the likes of Sia, Adele, Beck, Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney, the Los Angeles-based indie pop act the bird and the bee can trace their origins 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 to work together in a jazz-influenced electro pop project.

The Los Angeles indie pop duo’s debut EP Again and Again and Again and Again was released in late 2006. They quickly followed that up with their self-titled full-length debut in early 2007 — and with their earliest releases George and Kurstin quickly developed a reputation for bringing a breezy elegance to their work, which finds them putting their own idiosyncratic twist on time-bending indie pop.

Although serving as the long-awaited follow up to 2015’s Recreational Love, the bird and the bee’s fifth album, Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen actually closely follows 2010’s critically applauded Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Hall & Oates. And while Van Halen‘s most anthemic and beloved work may initially seem like an unlikely vessel for the Los Angeles-based duo’s sound and approach, George and Kurstin are both lifelong fans of David Lee Roth-era Van Halen. As the story goes back in 2007, George caught her first-ever Van Halen show, during the first tour to feature David Lee Roth as the band’s frontman since 1985. George was so charmed by Roth’s presence, that after that show, she approached Kurstin about writing a song for Roth. The end result was the swooning serenade “Diamond Dave,” which appeared on their 2008 sophomore album Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future“We asked him to be in the video, but instead he signed a picture and gave me the yellow top hat he’d worn at the show I saw, which I thought was very sweet,” George says in press notes. “When we were trying to figure out who to cover for the second volume of Interpreting the Masters, we were both a little bit like, ‘Oh my god, can we really do it?’ But then we just went for it.”

Slated for an August 2, 2019 release through No Expectations/Release Me Records, the duo’s fifth album features an impressive backing band of guest musicians including Justin Meldal Johnsen (bass), who has worked with Beck and Nine Inch Nails; Joey Waronker (drums), who has worked with R.E.M and Elliott Smith; and Omar Hakim (drums), who has worked with the David Bowie and Miles Davis assisting the duo in making familiar David Lee Roth-era Van Halen anthems completely their own, imbuing even the most over-the-top tracks with a slinky intimacy.

Interestingly, for Kurstin, an accomplished jazz pianist, who once studied with Jaki Byard, a pianist that once played in Charles Mingus‘ band, one of the greatest challenges he had translating Eddie Van Halen’s virtuoso guitar work into piano arrangements that kept some of the spirit and vibe of the original. “I know there’s a jazz influence with the Van Halen brothers, so I tried to channel some of the things that I felt might’ve influenced Eddie,” Kurstin notes. “In a way ‘Eruption’ is almost like a piece of classical music, so I mostly treated it that way as I interpreted it for piano,” he adds, referring to the iconic instrumental guitar solo from Van Halen’s self-titled debut. 

While creating arrangements around Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work will reveal the duo’s ingenuity and playfulness as interpreters and arrangers paired with a deeply nuanced reading of the material, which is influenced by their deep and profound emotional connection to the band.“I remember being 10-years-old and seeing their videos and feeling both excited and totally terrified—I responded to them in this very visceral way,” George says in press notes. Kurstin, who also is a lifelong fan, actually got a chance to work with Eddie Van Halen in the early 80s when the Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist was a 12 year-old member of Dweezil Zappa’s band. “I got to hang out with him in the studio and go backstage when Van Halen played The Forum, which was a really big moment for my younger self,” Kurstin recalls.

Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen‘s first single is the duo’s  “Panama,” which finds the them turning the beloved, power chord-based arena rock anthem into a sultry club banger, centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, bright blasts of twinkling piano and cowbell, a wobbling Bootsy Collins-like bass line and George’s sensual vocal delivery. The album’s second single “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” is a slinky New Wave-like take on the original, centered around an angular and propulsive bass line, atmospheric electronics, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and while bearing an uncanny resemblance to New Order and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the track is imbued with a feverish quality.

While much of Van Halen’s material, whether it was David Lee Roth-era or Sammy Hagar-era is seemingly familiar to the point of well-worn, the first two singles off Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen finds the duo crafting a loving and thoughtful take on beloved material. And they manage to do so in a way that retains familiar elements but within a playful, post-modern, decidedly feminist fashion.

 

 

The bird and the bee will be embarking on a 15 date North American tour throughout the summer, and the tour will include an August 17, 2019 stop at Elsewhere. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

Tour Dates
08/02/19 – Los Angeles, CA @ John Anson Ford Theater # – TICKETS
08/11/19 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club * – TICKETS
08/12/19 – Chicago, IL @ Sleeping Village * – TICKETS
08/14/19 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre * – TICKETS
08/15/19 – Providence, RI @ Columbus Theatre * – TICKETS
08/16/19 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live * – TICKETS
08/17/19 – Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere * –TICKETS
08/20/19 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle * – TICKETS
08/21/19 – Atlanta, GA @ Aisle 5 * – TICKETS
08/22/19 – Birmingham, AL @ The Saturn * – TICKETS
08/24/19 – Dallas, TX @ Trees * – TICKETS
08/25/19 – Austin, TX @ Parish * – TICKETS
08/28/19 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom * – TICKETS
08/29/19 – San Diego, CA  @ Casbah * – TICKETS
08/30/19 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop * ^ – TICKETS
# = featuring Dave Grohl on drums and Justin Meldel-Johnsen on bass
* = support from Samantha Sidley and Alex Lilly
^ = additional support from DJ Aaron Exelson

Live Footage: James Blake Performs “I’ll Come Too” on KRCW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic”

Born the son of musician James Litherland, James Blake is an acclaimed London-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who showed an interest and aptitude in music at a very young age: he received classical piano training as a child, eventually attending Goldsmith, University of London, where he received a degree in Popular Music. While attending Goldsmith, Blake and a friends hosted a series of Bass Society music nights that featured British artists like Distance, Skream and Benga. 

Blake first received recognition for a series of EPs in 2010 — CMYK EP and Klavierwerke and his 2011 self-titled debut, all which were released to critical praise. His sophomore effort, 2013’s Overgrown won that year’s Mercury Prize and a Best New Artist Grammy nomination. 2016’s The Colour in Anything further established Blake’s unique sound and approach, which draws from electronic music, electro pop, R&B and blue-eyed soul. 

Throughout his career, Blake has managed to collaborate with a wide and eclectic variety of contemporary artists including Mount Kimbie, Bon Iver, Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce, Vince Staples, Rosalia, Jay-Z, Oneohtrix Point Never and Frank Ocean — and for his remixes under the moniker Harmonimix. His most recent album, the critically applauded Assume Form finds Blake collaborating with Travis Scott, Metro Boomin, Andre 3000, Moses Sumney, and Rosalia.

Recently, Blake was invited to perform the first-ever live session at KCRW’s brand-new Annenberg Performance Studio. The session aired on KRCW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic hosted by the station’s Musical Director, Jason Bentley.  Joined by his bandmates Rob McAndrews and Ben Assiter, Blake performed material from Assume Form, including the album’s title track, “Barefoot In The Park,” “I’ll Come Too,” and “Don’t Miss It,” as well as a live version of his song “Retrograde” and a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.” “I’ll Come Too” is a slow-burning and atmospheric track centered around Blake’s ethereal and plaintive vocals, shimmering synths, stuttering beats and a soaring hook — and while   bearing an uncanny resemblance to classical music, the track finds Blake expressing an achingly passionate yearning and vulnerability. 

Led by founding members, primary songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Andrew Levy and Simon Bartholomew, the commercially and critically successful London-based soul act The Brand New Heavies were at the forefront of Britain’s emergent Acid Jazz movement, alongside the likes of Young Disciples and Grammy Award-winning and multi-BRIT Award-winning act Jamiorquai.

The act began to make waves with the release of their debut single, the celebrated club classic “Got To Give,” which was released through Chrysalis Records. The London-based neo-soul act eventually signed to Acid Jazz Records, who released their applauded self-titled debut album in 1990 across Europe and elsewhere, while the album was picked up in the US by renowned hip-hop label Delicious Vinyl. Now, if you were around in 1990, you may recall their debut album’s Top Three R&B smash-hit “Never Stop,” which led to the album being on the R&B Album charts for the better part of a year — and to the act winning an MTV award for the track. And unsurprisingly, the album may arguably be the most successful of their career, as it went Gold in the UK.

Interestingly, The Brand New Heavies’ full-length debut proved to be both popular and influential in hip-hop circles, and as a result the members of the band have collaborated with an impressive array of hip-hop luminaries including A Tribe Called Quest, and Kool G. Rap, Gang Starr and Main Source for Heavy Rhyme Experience.

The London-based neo-soul act’s follow-up two immediate efforts — 1994’s Brother Sister and 1997’s Shelter — went Platinum, with the act eventually scoring 16 Top 40 hits including “Dream Come True,” “Stay This Way,” “Midnight At The Oasis,” “Sometimes,” and “Dream On Dreamer.

As a result of their massive commercial success in the UK, the band led by Levy and Bartholomew have been lauded by Mark Ronson, who invited the band to play at his 40th birthday celebration. Interestingly, the act’s first bit of new material in five years, “Getaway” finds the act returning to their longtime label home Acid Jazz Records, as well as collaborating with longtime collaborator, vocalist N’Dea Davenport, with whom they’ve earned their biggest charting, best-selling work.

Centered around a warm, disco-influenced groove, a horn line that hints at Cheryl Lynn‘s 1978 disco smash hit “Got To Be Real,” a massive hook, and Davenport’s soulfully sultry vocals, the track is a dance floor friendly escapist fantasy, expressing the desire of getting away from the world and its stresses and routines with a love-interest/lover, and to simply enjoy the moment.

The Brand New Heavies will be playing a number of dates across the UK over the next few month with more dates to be announced soon; but in the meantime, check out the recently announced tour dates below.

TOUR DATES

 

May 24-26 – Upton on Severn, UK – Mello Festival

May 31 – Bedford, UK – Corn Exchange

July 05-8 – Lewes, UK – Love Supreme Festival

July 12-14 – Moseley, UK – Jazz Funk & Soul Festival

July 12-14 Caversham, UK – Readipop Festival

Sept 07 – London, UK – Electric Soul Festival @ 02