Tag: Grammy Award

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays Black Pumas Perform “Colors” on “The Ellen Show”

Throughout the course of last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Grammy Award-nominated Austin, TX-based soul act, Black Pumas. The act which is led by Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter and guitarist Adrian Quesada and 27 year old singer/songwriter Eric Burton can trace its origins to when Burton, a popular street performer in his native Los Angeles busked his way across country to Austin, where he met Quesada.

Last year, the Austin-based JOVM mainstays released their critically applauded, commercially successful, full-length debut, and since its release, album single “Colors” saw breakthrough success when a live version of the song managed to amass over 4 million YouTube views — with the song at one point being one of the most added songs to Adult Album Alternative (AAA) Radio. That shouldn’t be surprising:  “Colors” is a decidedly old-school singer/songwriter soul track centered around a looping 12 bar blues guitar line, twinkling Rhodes, some gospel-like backing vocals and Burton’s incredibly soulful and expressive vocals, which manage to express hurt, yearning, pride and awe simultaneously. As Burton, Quesada and company explained to The Fader by email, “‘Colors’ was written while the sun was going down on a rooftop in New Mexico. Finding inspiration in the multicolored hues of the night sky. The song is a message of togetherness, but there’s awareness of mortality mixed in . . .”

The band has developed a reputation for a a relentless tour schedule that has brought their incredible live show across North America and the European Union. Last year  alone, the band made three separate stops in New York: The Knitting Factory, last May; Mercury Lounge, last July; and Brooklyn Bowl last September. Additionally, during that same period of time the band has made begun to make the rounds across the nationally televised talk show circuit, playing  Jimmy Kimmel Live. 

The members of Black Pumas have continued on the massive momentum of last year with an extensive bit of touring that started off last night. Their tour finds them bouncing back and forth between North America, the UK and the European Union and it includes an October 22, 2020 stop at Brooklyn Steel. Feel free to check out the tour dates below, and if they’re stopping at a venue near you, get a couple of tickets and bring a friend. But in the meantime, the band played “Colors,” which is quickly becoming their signature song on The Ellen Show. 

Ben Williams is an acclaimed Washington DC-born and-based singer/songwriter, bassist, composer, bandleader and highly sought-after collaborator. Williams graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Michigan State University and The Juilliard School, winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition(now known as the Herbie Hancock  International Jazz Competition) back in 2009 and a Grammy Award as a member of Pat Metheny‘s Unity Band. He has collaborated with an impressive and remarkably diverse array of artists including Wynton Marsalis, George Benson, Maxwell, Robert Glasper, Pharrell and a long list of others. (He also appeared in Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead.)

As a bandleader and composer, Williams has released two albums through renowned jazz label Concord Records — 2011’s State of Art and 2015’s Coming of Age. Slated for a February 7, 2020 release through Jose James‘, Talia Billig‘s and Brian Bender’s Rainbow Blonde Records, Williams third album I AM A MAN references Memphis‘ historic 1968 sanitation workers’ strike, during which African American men marched through the streets with picket signs that read “I Am A Man” in a boldface type. “The image of this long line of men, holding the picket signs, all saying the same thing — there’s something powerful about seeing this message over and over again,” Williams explains, before saying that the messaging reminded him of how we use hashtags today to help ignite and inspire activism today, such as the Black Lives Matter and MeToo movements. But there’s multiple subtle meanings to the album’s title: as Williams said during his performance at the Rainbow Blonde Records NYC Winter Jazz Fest last week the album wasn’t a typical protest album; that it was thematically an exploration of the black male psyche.

Sonically, the album reportedly meshes past, present and future, as it seemingly draws from The Roots, Erykah Badu, Bilal, D’Angelo, Common, Roy Hargrove‘s RH Factor as well as Marvin Gaye‘s What’s Going On, Curtis Mayfield and others.

Williams plays both double bass and electric bass throughout the album’s material, singing lead vocals on almost every single song on the album. He’s joined by an accomplished backing band of collaborators that includes Kris Bowers (keys), David Rosenthal (guitar), Marcus Strickland (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Bendji Allonce (percussion), Keyon Harrold (trumpet), Anne Drummond (flute), Jamire Williams (drums) and Justin Brown (drums). The album also features a handful of songs with  string arrangements performed by a string quartet — Justina Sullivan (cello), Celia Hatton  (viola), Maria Im (violin) and Chiara Fasi (violin), and vocals from Kendra Foster, Muhsimah, Wes Felton and Niles.

The album’s first single is the cinematic “If You Hear Me.” Centered around an spacious and cinematic arrangement featuring a shimmering and soaring string arrangement, African polyrhythm, Williams’ plaintive and soulful vocals, the track manages brings to Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Landing on a Hundred-era Cody Chesnutt to mind. The album’s second single, fittingly released today is an atmospheric rendition of the civil rights-era classic “We Shall Overcome” that places the song’s timeless struggle and hope for a far better, more just world into a contemporary context:  reminding the listener that the struggle of MLK, Malcolm X,  The Black Panthers and others,  is the same struggle as Black Lives Matter and other movements.

Williams will be embarking on a handful of live dates that includes a February 8, 2020 album release show at Nublu 151. Check out the live dates below.

 

Tour Dates
2/8: New York, NY @ Nublu 151 (Album Release Show)
3/19: Washington, DC @ City Winery

Throughout the course of this site’s nearly 10 year history — we turn 10 in June — I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, Grammy Award-wining singer/songwriter, bassist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. Bruner has long been a Brainfeeder Records cornerstone, releasing critically applauded material including  Golden Age of Apocalypse, 2013’s Apocalypse, 2015’s The Beyond/Where Giants Roam EP and 2017’s Drunk while also establishing himself as a highly sough-after collaborator, contributing to Kamasi Washington’s aptly titled 2015 effort, The Epic and to Kendrick Lamar‘s 2016 commercial and critical smash hit, the Grammy Award winning To Pimp A Butterfly. And in 2018, he teamed up with Flying Lotus to compose an original score for an episode of Donald Glover’s Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning TV series Atlanta.

Drunk, Bruner’s most recent album was conceived and written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and bassist, but importantly, the album represented a major career transition — from virtuoso bassist and collaborator, to globally recognized star while further cementing his reputation for arguably being one of the past decade’s most unique, genre-defying voices. Thundercat’s fourth full-length album, the Flying Lotus-produced It Is What It Is is slated for an April 3, 2020 release through Brainfeeder Records. Much like its immediate predecessor, the album features a who’s who list of collaborators and guest spots from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, The Internet‘s Steve Lacy, Slave‘s Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox among others.

“This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says in press notes. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”

“Black Qualls,” It Is What It Is‘ first single finds Bruner teaming up with Slave’s Steve Arrington and The Internet’s Steve Lacy on a strutting and strolling pimp bop, centered around Bruner’s imitable and dexterous bass lines, four-on-the-floor drumming and a sinuous hook. And as result, the song manages to be a bit of classic Thundercat that finds the JOVM mainstay lovingly highlighting his influences in a mischievously anachronistic fashion: in some way, it sounds as though it could have been on Slave’s Just a Touch of Love and any of Thundercat’s albums simultaneously. But importantly, the song touches on something deeply personal and familiar to me — what it means and feels to be, as the great Nina Simone once sang “young, gifted and Black.” And as Bruner adds, “What it feels like to be in this position right now… the weird ins and outs, we’re talking about those feelings… Part of me knew this [track] was where Steve [Arrington] left us.”

The song emerged from writing sessions with Lacy, whom Thundercat describes as “the physical incarnate of Ohio Players in one person: he is genuinely one funky ass dude.”

The JOVM mainstay will be embarking on a lengthy international tour that includes a March 24, 2020 stop at Webster Hall. Check out the tour dates below. 

Tour Dates:

2/28     Vancouver, BC – Vogue Theatre

2/29     Portland, OR – PDX Jazz Festival 

3/02     Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo

3/03     Arcata, CA – Van Duzer Theatre

3/04     Chico, CA – Senator Theatre

3/06     Oakland, CA – Fox Theater

3/07     Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern

3/08     Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory North Park

3/10     Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren

3/12     Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre

3/13     Omaha, NE – Slowdown

3/14     Minneapolis, MN – The Fillmore

3/15     Chicago, IL – Riviera Theatre

3/17     Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre

3/18     Toronto, ON – Queen Elizabeth Theatre

3/19     Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre

3/21     Boston, MA – House of Blues

3/22     Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore

3/24     New York, NY – Webster Hall

3/28     Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore Silver Spring

3/29     Knoxville, TN – Big Ears Festival

3/31     Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works

4/1       Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel

4/2       Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse

4/9       London, UK – Roundhouse

4/11     Manchester, UK – Academy

4/14     Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso

4/15     Paris, FR – Elysée Montmartre

4/17     Berlin, DE – Astra

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Tame Impala Releases a Shimmering Disco-Tinged Examination of Nostalgia

I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink over the past decade — yes, decade — covering the Perth, Australia-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Kevin Parker, the creative mastermind behind the critically acclaimed and commercially successful psych pop/synth pop project Tame Impala. Now. as you may recall Parker’s third album, 2015’s Currents was a critical and commercial breakthrough. Released to overwhelming and wide-ranging critical applause across the blogosphere and elsewhere, the album was Grammy-nominated, RIAA Gold-Certified effort that reflected a decided change in direction for Parker’s songwriting and sound: the material  featured some of  his most emotionally direct lyrics paired with an nuanced and textured sound that draw from psych rock, psych pop, prog rock, synth pop and R&B. 

Slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Interscope Records, The Slow Rush reportedly conjures the feeling of a lifetime in a lightning bolt, of major milestones whizzing by you while you’re looking at your phone. Thematically, the album focuses on the rapid passing of time and the unending cycles of creation and destruction in life.  “A lot of the songs carry this idea of time passing, of seeing your life flash before your eyes, being able to see clearly your life from this point onwards. I’m being swept by this notion of time passing. There’s something really intoxicating about it,” Parker told the New York Times last year.

Last year Parker released the first batch of new Tame Impala material in over four years — “Patience,” a decidedly upbeat banger that seamlessly bridged 90s house and 70s funk while being a thoughtful meditation on the cycles and phases of life and “Borderline” a blissed out, shimmering mid-tempo track with house music flourishes and a razor sharp hook. Unofficially, those two tracks were the first two singles off Parker’s long-awaited and highly-anticipated fourth album, The Slow Rush. Parker closed out last year with the release of “It Might Be Time,” a swaggering prog rock meets psych pop banger, centered around layers of shimmering  synth arpeggios, thumping beats,  an anthemic hook and Parker’s plaintive vocals.  

The Slow Rush’s fourth and latest single “Lost in Yesterday” is a woozy and hallucinogenic  disco-tinged banger centered around a propulsive and sinuous bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a cathartic and soaring hook and Parker’s plaintive vocals. While sonically the song seems to continue a run of glistening and decidedly 80s inspired synth bangers, the song thematically finds Parker exploring time’s distorting effect on memories. Given enough time, nostalgia gives even the most embittering times in your life a bit of a rosy tinge, and a sense of purpose and meaning that you didn’t feel while experiencing it. At it s core, the song is a plea to break the urge to look back with rose colored glasses and live in the here and now.   

Live Footage: Yola on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

Throughout the course of the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Grammy Award-nominated Bristol, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola. The Grammy Award-nominated JOVM mainstay has led a remarkable life — the sort that I’ve long thought should be made into an inspiring biopic, like What’s Love Got To Do With It: She grew up extremely poor — and fascinated by her mother’s record collection. And by the time she turned four, she knew she wanted to be a performer. Unfortunately, she was banned from making music, until she left home. She has also overcome being in an abusive and dysfunctional relationship, stress-induced voice loss and literally walking through fire, as a result of a house fire. All of this inspired and informed her Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, which was released earlier this year through Easy Eye Sound.

2019 has been a breakthrough year for the Bristol-born, London-based JOVM mainstay with an incredible array of career highlights that included:

playing a breakout performance at this year’s SXSW
making her New York debut earlier this year at Rockwood Music Hall
playing a live session for YouTube at YouTube Space New York 
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, Lincoln Center Out of Doors 
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
and of course, as I mentioned earlier, the JOVM mainstay recently received a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas. 
Adding to a big year, Yola made her late night national television debut last night, performing the swooning and gorgeous album single “Faraway Look” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!  Interestingly, over the past year, the country soul singer/songwriter has made a soulful — and just flat out amazing — cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” one of my favorite Elton John songs, a staple of her live show. Yola performed that as well. I think the live footage will serve as a great taste of her live show. 

Live Footage: H.E.R. Performs “Slide” for Vevo

Born Gabriella Wilson, the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as H.E.R. (an acronym for Having Everything Revealed). Wilson first gained attention when she participated in Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing contest in 2009. By 2014, she had signed with RCA Records and released her debut single “Something to Prove” under her birth name. 

Back in 2016, Wilson re-emerged with her current solo project, H.E.R., releasing her debut EP H.E.R. Volume 1, a seven song collection of slow-burning, post-breakup material, which managed to sound both vulnerable and self-assured. RCA Records initially released the effort that September to limited promotion — but the album effort eventually landed at #28 on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop charts thanks in part to social media co-signs from Alicia Keys and Bryson Tiller, as well as an attention grabbing cover of Drake’s “Jungle.” Wilson followed-up with 2017’s  similarly styled H.E.R. Volume 2, which debuted at #22 on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop charts. 

Continuing the rapidly growing buzz surrounding her, the EPs were soon combined and released as H.E.R. with six additional tracks, including “Best Part,” a #32 R&B/hip-hop hit, previously heard on Daniel Caesar’s Freudian. 

Last year H.E.R. teamed up with pop superstar Khalid for “This Way,” which appeared on the Superfly Soundtrack. That August, Wilson released her third EP, I Used to Know Her: The Prelude, which landed at the top of R&B/hip-hop charts, thanks to the success of “Could’ve Been,” a duet with Bryson Tiller. By the end of the year, Wilson received five Grammy nominations — Album of the year and Best R&B album for H.E.R., Best R&B Performance for “Best Part,” Best R&B Song for “Focus,” and Best New Artist, winning Grammies for Best R&B Album and Performance. 

Since the Grammy Awards, she has collaborated with a diverse and eclectic array of artists including Chris Brown on “Come Together,” Jess Glynne on “Thursday,” Ed Sheehan on “I Don’t Want Your Money” and YBN Cordae on “Racks,” “21” and “Slide.” Some of that material was released on the compilation album I Used to Know Her while others were released as stand-alone singles or the albums of her collaborators. She’s also been nominated for five more Grammy Awards at the forthcoming 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, including Best Album and and Record with I Used to Know Her and Song of the Year for “Hard Place.”  

Recently Vevo invited the Grammy Award singer/songwriter and guitarist for a live session that included the two-step inducing “Slide” Featuring a shimmering and strutting neo-soul/classic soul arrangement and an infectious hook, the song is a perfect vehicle for Wilson’s sultry and self-assured vocals and some ambitious yet accessible songwriting. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Sofi Tukker Releases a Wild Party Themed Visual for “Purple Hat”

Acclaimed New York-based electronic duo and longtime JOVM mainstays Sofi Tukker — Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern — have been widely celebrated for an inclusive, global take on electronic music that’s thematically centered around self-empowerment, unity and liberation. 

“Drinkee,” the duo’s debut single received a Grammy Award-nomination for Best Dance Recording — and they continued an extraordinary run of early successes with their full-length debut Treehouse receiving  a Grammy Award-nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album. Adding to a growing profile of success, the New York electro pop duo’s releases have gone gold or platinum on every continent on the planet — with the exception of Antarctica. They’ve also played sold out shows and festival stops across the planet, and performed on some of the world’s most popular late night talk shows, including Italy’s X-Factor, the UK’s Sunday Brunch, Russia’s Late Show and Japan’s BuzzRhythm, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and most recently Good Morning America.

Released earlier this year, Dancing on the People is Sofi Tukker’s much-anticipated follow up to their highly-successful full-length debut. “Purple Hat,” the EP’s latest single is a joyous and ebullient track with a breezy Brazilian/Tropicalia-like intro that quickly turns into a thumping banger centered around tweeter and woofer rocking low-end, a funky Nile Rodgers-like guitar line, Bhangra-inspired percussion and a rousing and enormous hook while Hawley-Weld and Halpern trade vocal lines about a wild party in which the attendees let go of all pretense and facades and let their freak flags proudly fly. And as long as no one is getting hurt, be yourself, “shake that ass and show ’em what you’re working with!” Considering the hatred, opposition, thievery and bullshit we’ve been inundated with during this current administration, the song is absolutely necessary. 

“We wrote ‘Purple Hat’ the day after our first Animal Talk party,” the duo explains. “We started throwing these parties to bring back the wild and inclusive dancing vibe to the nightclub experience. Tuck was literally wearing a purple hat and a cheetah print shirt, people were climbing on top o people, it was over-sold and sweaty, our favorite people were packed in the booth, everyone was loose AF and feeling themselves. It was wild. Every Animal Talk party since then has been like that, and we wanted to capture that raw feeling in a song. If there was a song that included everything we are about, this would be the one.”

Directed by Charles Todd, a frequent Sofi Tukker collaborator, who also filmed the videos for “Fantasy” and “Swing,” the recently released video for “Purple Hat” was filmed during the duo’s sold out, homecoming show at Avant Gardner earlier this fall. Naturally, the video is split between excited Sofi Tukker fans arriving in cheetah print and purple hat gear, live performance shots and the concert crowd getting sweaty and wild, which further emphasizes the song’s spirit and feel. “This song was literally written about the energy of the crowds at our shows so we wanted to literally capture that energy for the video too,” the duo says of the video.  “It’s always so special playing back in New York, where everything started for us and we thought it would be the perfect show to film the video at. We didn’t want to get actors and have a fake party to recreate the energy — we wanted to do it in real life with real people, like we do most nights of the year. Really happy to relive that night over and over again.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Black Pumas Release an Intimate and Gorgeously Shot Visual for “Colors”

Over the course of this past year, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Grammy Award-nominated Austin, TX-based soul act, Black Pumas. And as you may recall, the JOVM mainstays released their self-titled, full-length debut earlier this year, and since its release the had has rapidly built up a national profile and following through a relentless touring schedule that has included three separate New York stops this year:   The Knitting Factory, back in May; Mercury Lounge, back in July; and Brooklyn Bowl in September. 

Album single “Colors” exploded nationally when a live version of the song amassed over 4 million YouTube views — and since then, the song has become the most added song to Adult Album Alternative (AAA) radio. None of that should be surprising as the song is a decidedly old school singer/songwriter soul-inspired track centered around a looping 12 bar blues guitar line, twinkling Rhodes, some gospel-like backing vocals and Burton’s incredibly soulful and expressive vocals, which manage to express hurt, yearning, pride and awe simultaneously. As Burton, Quesada and company explained to The Fader by email, “‘Colors’ was written while the sun was going down on a rooftop in New Mexico. Finding inspiration in the multicolored hues of the night sky. The song is a message of togetherness, but there’s awareness of mortality mixed in . . .”

Directed by Kristian Mercado, the recently released video for “Colors” is an intimate and profoundly empathetic look at a young and very beautiful Black family — mother, father and son — who hit hard times, and wind up homeless. It’s a heartbreaking and seemingly lived-in display of how easily and quickly one family can lose everything for no fault of their own but the main takeaway from the video is that while they’ve lost material things  and are struggling to survive, they have each other, their essential decency and their humanity.