Tag: Karen O.

Throwback: Happy (Belated) 44th Birthday, Karen O!

JOVM’s William Ruben Helms belatedly celebrates Karen O’s 44th birthday!

New Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs Share Cinematic and Feverish Visual for Dance Floor Friendly “Burning”

After teasing their first new bit of music in over nine — nine! — years, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Karen O. (vocals), Nick Zinner (keys, guitar, drum machine, bass) and Brian Chase (drums) — announced their long-awaited and highly anticipated fifth album, Cool It Down last month. 

Cool It Down is slated for a September 30, 2022 release through Secretly Canadian and features cover photography by Alex Prager. The eight-song album reportedly is an expert distillation of the band’s gifts and will impel the listener to move, cry and listen closely. 

“To all who have waited, our dear fans, thank you, our fever to tell has returned, and writing these songs came with its fair share of chills, tears, and euphoria when the pain lifts and truth is revealed, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O wrote in a statement to the band’s fans. “Don’t have to tell you how much we’ve been going through in the last nine years since our last record, because you’ve been going through it too, and we love you and we see you, and we hope you feel the feels from the music we’ve made. No shying away from the feels, or backing down from what’s been gripping all of us these days. So yes we’ve taken our time, happy to report when it’s ready it really does just flow out.”

“The record is called Cool It Down which is snagged from a lesser known Velvet Underground song. I told Alex Prager whose photo graces our record cover that her image speaks to sweeping themes in the music and sums up how I, Karen, feel existentially in these times! But there’s always more to the story. This is how our new story begins, we present to you with heads bowed and fists in the air ‘Spitting Off the Edge of the World’ featuring Perfume Genius.

Cool It Down‘s first single, the Dave Sitek-produced “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” featuring Perfume Genius is a slow-burning and cathartic power ballad centered around glistening and droning synths, Chase’s thunderous drumming, a distortion-driven guitar solo by Zinner, arena rock friendly hooks paired with the lush interplay between Karen O’s and Perfume Genius imitable vocals. Sonically “Spiting Off The Edge of the World” to my ears sounds like a slick yet subtle synthesis of Show Your Bones and It’s Blitz — and as a result, the song is simultaneously urgent yet an exercise in restraint. 

Lyrically, the song reflects on the current state of the environment, and the need for honesty about the damage we’re inflicting on the Earth. “I see the younger generations staring down this threat, and they’re standing on the edge of a precipice, confronting what’s coming with anger and defiant,” Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O explains. “It’s galvanizing and there’s hope there.” 

The album’s second single., the Andrew Wyatt-produced “Burning” is a dance floor anthem built over a twinkling piano loop inspired by The Four Seasons’ “Beggin’” and features Zinner’s fiery guitar sprawl, thumping beats, Chase’s funky drum patterns pared with Karen O’s imitable croons and shouts. The song captures the Karen O being engulfed in the tumult and unrest of Los Angeles in 2020 — with fire and smoke bearing down on the city and everything its in path. Sonically, the song sounds like a subtle refinement of It’s Blitz!-era YYYs that nods at Fever to Tell.

“Back when I was 19 living in the East Village, one night a roommate dragged me out of the apartment for an impromptu drink across the street,” Karen O writes. “I left a votive candle burning on a plastic yaffa block which, in my absence set flame to my room. Within an hour and-a half of having one drink down the block, firefighters had come and gone extinguishing the fire. I came home to find that a natural disaster had occurred (to my room) and most of my stuff, lost in the flames. All electronic goods were melted and demolished like my laptop, cameras etc. but oddly enough the items that held the most sentimental value remained intact like sketchbooks, a favorite sweater with hearts across the chest, and photographs. I had photos of my parents in their youth where the fire burnt around the two of them as if there was some intangible force field protecting them, many photos like that, mysteriously leaving the beloved subjects untouched.”

If the world is on fire I hope the most beloved stay protected and that we do all we can to protect what we cherish most in this life. ‘Burning’ is a song about that feeling, smoke signals for the soul. Begging to cool it down, just doing it the best we know how. Nick and I nodded to Frankie Valli’s ‘Begging’, with the line ‘oooh lay your red hand on me baby.’ We’ve cut a rug to many a soulful sixties bangers in our day, it was in our DNA by the time we wrote ‘Burning’.”

Directed by the band’s longtime collaborator Cody Critcheloe a.k.a. Ssion, the accompanying video is cinematically shot fever dream that nods at 60s B movies, West Side Story and Los Angeles low-rider culture before ending with the video’s protagonist staring at a raging conflagration.

New Video: Danger Mouse and Black Thought Team Up with A$AP Rocky and Run The Jewels on a Glitchy Roller Coaster Visual for “Strangers”

Danger Mouse (born Brian Burton) is arguably one of the most versatile and prolific artists and producers in music right now: As an artist he has been one-half of Broken Bells and Grammy Award-winning Gnarls Barkley. He has recorded collaborative albums with  Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ Karen O and the late, legendary MF DOOM. As a producer, he has worked with AdeleU2The Black KeysGorillazRed Hot Chili PeppersMichael KiwanukaParquet Courts and a lengthy list of others. 

Black Thought (born Tariq Trotter) is a co-founder and frontman of Grammy Award winning, pioneering hip-hop act The Roots. Trotter is also an accomplished solo artist who has released a critically applauded album and two EPs: 2020’s Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Able and 2018’s Streams of Thought Vol. 1 EP and Streams of Thought Vol. 2 EP, which helped further his reputation among the cognoscenti — and real hip hop heads — as one of the dopest emcees to ever spit bars. Adding to a lengthy list of accolades and accomplishments, Trotter has acted in film and theater, along with having writing and producer credits.

The acclaimed duo’s long-rumored, long-awaited and highly-anticipated joint album Cheat Codes officially dropped today through BMG. While Cheat Codes simultaneously marks Danger Mouse’s first hip-hop album since 2005’s DANGERDOOM with MF DOOM and the follow-up to Black Thoughts’ solo trilogy Streams of Thought, their collaboration can be traced back almost almost 20 years earlier: Trotter and Burton first met back in 2005. They started working on material — but time went on, life happened, other projects and obligations came up. 

Following 2004’s acclaimed The Grey Album, Burton became one of the most in-demand and prolific producers of the day, helming several commercially and critically successful projects, which led to a bevy of accolades and awards. He also developed collaborations with a unique and eclectic array of artists while expanding upon and honing his own musicianship, production and writing. 

During that same period of time, The Roots released a batch of critically applauded albums and became the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon then The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Trotter released his aforementioned, critically applauded solo trilogy Streams of Thought. He collaborated with the likes of EminemJohn LegendPusha T.Griselda, and a list of others. He wrote, composed and starred in the widely-praised off-Broadway show Black No More. And adding to a lengthy list of accomplishments, he co-produced a TV series with his Roots bandmate Questlove

Each mistakenly thought that the other had moved on and their collaboration just died, but as it turned out, neither one never stopped wanting to work together. Burton had long felt an instinctive need to return to his roots and make a timeless hip-hop album. He knew that Trotter was one of the few emcees truly capable of fulfilling that vision. Simultaneously, Trotter was seeking a space, where he could express himself musically and creatively beyond the confines and structures of his own band. 

This time, Burton was a far more seasoned songwriter and producer, Trotter an even more extraordinary emcee.  So, setting aside all distractions, Burton played Trotter some new music he had had. The ideas and words quickly flowed — and the experience was liberating. 

Meticulously built over a period of several years, Cheat Codes finds Burton pushing widescreen, soul-infused hip-hop soundscapes to new directions paired with Trotter’s commanding presence, incisive lyricism and dexterous wordplay. Unlike the typical producer-meets-rapper/side project, Cheat Codes is an effort between two like-minded collaborators, who raise each other’s games to new heights. 

The album also features an equally acclaimed cast of guests including A$AP Rocky,Run The Jewels, MF DOOM, Michael Kiwanuka, Joey Bada$$RussRaekwon, and Conway the Machine

So far I’ve written about three Cheat Codes singles: 

No Gold Teeth,” which featured a warm and dusty psych soul-like production that brings RZAPete Rock, and DJ Premier to mind, that serves as a lush bed for Black Thought’s dense, rapid fire, lyrical deluge. 

Because,” which features a slow-burning, psych soul-inspired production paired with a vocal hook by Dylan Cartlidge. While being another example of the deep and uncannily innate simpatico shared between the two acclaimed collaborators, “Because” is chock full of dope bars, impressive wordplay and mind-blowing inner and outer rhyme schemes in an easy-going yet urgent cypher between Black Thought, Joey Bada$$ and Russ, that weaves in and out of the political and the personal. 

Aquamarine,” a woozy and cinematic song featuring skittering hi-hat, thumping beats and squiggling bursts paired with a soaring hook from acclaimed British soul artist Micheal Kiwanuka. The production is a lush and roomy bed for Black Thought’s imitable, hard-hitting bars. “For ‘Aquamarine,’ when I heard the music I just had a feeling to sing about standing up for something that’s unique and following that path”, Kiwanuka says. “I don’t know why but that’s what came out.  Sometimes when you’re following something that’s unique to you it’s as if ‘enemies are all around’. At times life can feel fragile like ‘everything’s burning down’. For some reason the chords and music made me feel that way.”  

“Strangers,” the last single off Cheat Codes before its release, is a neck-snapping banger featuring four of the dopest emcees out there right now — Black Thought, A$AP Rocky and Run The Jewels spitting flames on a woozy and dusty production and glitchy centered around tweeter and woofer rattling beats, sampled, B-movie-like dialogue, soulful vocals. 

“We were honored to get down with our elite and legendary friends Danger Mouse, Black Thought and A$AP Rocky on this banger,” Run the Jewels say in press notes. 

I’ve said this before, and I’m not bullshitting here: Cheat Codes may arguably be the best hip-hop album — and possibly, the best album — of this year. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

Continuing the duo’s ongoing visual collaboration with video production team UNCANNY, the accompanying, grainy black and white visual is a wild rollercoaster ride that sees each of the song’s four incredible emcees, Black Thought, A$AP Rocky, Killer Mike, and El-P passing the mic — or in this case their phones for them to spit fire. The video captures the song’s urgency and dusty glitchy vibe.

After teasing their first new bit of music in over nine — nine! — years, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Karen O. (vocals), Nick Zinner (keys, guitar, drum machine, bass) and Brian Chase (drums) — announced their long-awaited and highly anticipated fifth album, Cool It Down last month.

Cool It Down is slated for a September 30, 2022 release through Secretly Canadian and features cover photography by Alex Prager. The eight-song album reportedly is an expert distillation of the band’s gifts and will impel the listener to move, cry and listen closely. 

“To all who have waited, our dear fans, thank you, our fever to tell has returned, and writing these songs came with its fair share of chills, tears, and euphoria when the pain lifts and truth is revealed, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O wrote in a statement to the band’s fans. “Don’t have to tell you how much we’ve been going through in the last nine years since our last record, because you’ve been going through it too, and we love you and we see you, and we hope you feel the feels from the music we’ve made. No shying away from the feels, or backing down from what’s been gripping all of us these days. So yes we’ve taken our time, happy to report when it’s ready it really does just flow out.”

“The record is called Cool It Down which is snagged from a lesser known Velvet Underground song. I told Alex Prager whose photo graces our record cover that her image speaks to sweeping themes in the music and sums up how I, Karen, feel existentially in these times! But there’s always more to the story. This is how our new story begins, we present to you with heads bowed and fists in the air ‘Spitting Off the Edge of the World’ featuring Perfume Genius.

Cool It Down‘s first single, the Dave Sitek-produced “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” featuring Perfume Genius is a slow-burning and cathartic power ballad centered around glistening and droning synths, Chase’s thunderous drumming, a distortion-driven guitar solo by Zinner, arena rock friendly hooks paired with the lush interplay between Karen O’s and Perfume Genius imitable vocals. Sonically “Spiting Off The Edge of the World” to my ears sounds like a slick yet subtle synthesis of Show Your Bones and It’s Blitz — and as a result, the song is simultaneously urgent yet an exercise in restraint. 

Lyrically, the song reflects on the current state of the environment, and the need for honesty about the damage we’re inflicting on the Earth. “I see the younger generations staring down this threat, and they’re standing on the edge of a precipice, confronting what’s coming with anger and defiant,” Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O explains. “It’s galvanizing and there’s hope there.” 

The album’s second single., the Andrew Wyatt-produced “Burning” is a dance floor anthem built over a twinkling piano loop inspired by The Four Seasons’ “Beggin'” and features Zinner’s fiery guitar sprawl, thumping beats, Chase’s funky drum patterns pared with Karen O’s imitable croons and shouts. The song captures the Karen O being engulfed in the tumult and unrest of Los Angeles in 2020 — with fire and smoke bearing down on the city and everything its in path. Sonically, the song sounds like a subtle refinement of It’s Blitz!-era YYYs that nods at Fever to Tell.

“Back when I was 19 living in the East Village, one night a roommate dragged me out of the apartment for an impromptu drink across the street,” Karen O writes. “I left a votive candle burning on a plastic yaffa block which, in my absence set flame to my room. Within an hour and-a half of having one drink down the block, firefighters had come and gone extinguishing the fire. I came home to find that a natural disaster had occurred (to my room) and most of my stuff, lost in the flames. All electronic goods were melted and demolished like my laptop, cameras etc. but oddly enough the items that held the most sentimental value remained intact like sketchbooks, a favorite sweater with hearts across the chest, and photographs. I had photos of my parents in their youth where the fire burnt around the two of them as if there was some intangible force field protecting them, many photos like that, mysteriously leaving the beloved subjects untouched.”

If the world is on fire I hope the most beloved stay protected and that we do all we can to protect what we cherish most in this life. ‘Burning’ is a song about that feeling, smoke signals for the soul. Begging to cool it down, just doing it the best we know how. Nick and I nodded to Frankie Valli’s ‘Begging’, with the line ‘oooh lay your red hand on me baby.’ We’ve cut a rug to many a soulful sixties bangers in our day, it was in our DNA by the time we wrote ‘Burning’.”

The trio are in a middle of a handful of summer and fall dates that includes a highly anticipated October 1, 2022 stop at Forest Hills Stadium. Check out the remaining tour dates below. 

Tour Dates

September 18: Riot Fest @ Chicago, IL

October 1: Forest Hills Stadium @ New York, NY [Special Guest TBA, The Linda Linda]

October 6: Hollywood Bowl @ Los Angeles, CA [Japanese Breakfast, The Linda Lindas]

New Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs Team Up with Perfume Genius on an Urgent Power Ballad

After teasing their first new bit of music in over nine — nine! — years, the Yeah Yeah YeahsKaren O. (vocals), Nick Zinner (keys, guitar, drum machine, bass) and Brian Chase (drums) — recently announced their long-awaited and highly anticipated fifth album, Cool It Down.

The forthcoming album is slated for a September 30, 2022 release through Secretly Canadian and features cover photography by Alex Prager. The eight-song album reportedly is an expert distillation of the band’s gifts and will impel the listener to move, cry and listen closely.

“To all who have waited, our dear fans, thank you, our fever to tell has returned, and writing these songs came with its fair share of chills, tears, and euphoria when the pain lifts and truth is revealed, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O writes in a statement to the band’s fans. “Don’t have to tell you how much we’ve been going through in the last nine years since our last record, because you’ve been going through it too, and we love you and we see you, and we hope you feel the feels from the music we’ve made. No shying away from the feels, or backing down from what’s been gripping all of us these days. So yes we’ve taken our time, happy to report when it’s ready it really does just flow out.”

“The record is called Cool It Down which is snagged from a lesser known Velvet Underground song. I told Alex Prager whose photo graces our record cover that her image speaks to sweeping themes in the music and sums up how I, Karen, feel existentially in these times! But there’s always more to the story. This is how our new story begins, we present to you with heads bowed and fists in the air ‘Spitting Off the Edge of the World’ featuring Perfume Genius.

Cool It Down‘s first single, the Dave Sitek-produced “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” featuring Perfume Genius is a slow-burning and cathartic power ballad centered around glistening and droning synths, Chase’s thunderous drumming, a distortion-driven guitar solo by Zinner, arena rock friendly hooks paired with the lush interplay between Karen O’s and Perfume Genius imitable vocals. Sonically “Spiting Off The Edge” to my ears sounds like a slick yet subtle synthesis of Show Your Bones and It’s Blitz — and as a result, the song is simultaneously urgent yet an exercise in restraint.

Lyrically, the song reflects on the current state of the environment, and the need for honesty about the damage we’re inflicting on the Earth. “I see the younger generations staring down this threat, and they’re standing on the edge of a precipice, confronting what’s coming with anger and defiant,” Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O explains. “It’s galvanizing and there’s hope there.”

The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s longtime collaborator Cody Critcheloe a.k.a. Ssion, who designed the cover art for Fever To Tell, and who also directed Perfume Genius’ “Queen” directed the accompanying video which stars Perfume Genius as an avenging angel limo driver to Karen O’s desert rebel queen.

“A note on this video, it’s a dream collaboration with one of our favorite artists of the 21st century Cody Critcheloe who did the artwork for our first record back in 2003 and has been making visionary music videos for the last decade,” Karen O notes. “The time to collaborate again came with ‘Spitting,’ the shoot in Kansas City was dream-like, the dreams you have after eating something really greasy right before bed; bizarre, poetic, and intense. Perfume Genius was incredibly gracious to roll in the very cold mud as my co pilot and steal scene after scene with his surreal charm.  We trusted Cody implicitly, he surpassed expectations and gave us our November Rain. YYY’s spirit is alive and well through the eyes of Cody Critcheloe. Custom Yeahs limo was largely his handiwork, fueled on love.”

New Video: Danger Mouse and Black Thought Team Up for a Banger

Born Brian Burton, Danger Mouse is arguably one of the most versatile and prolific artists and producers in music right now: As an artist he’s one-half of Broken Bells and Gnarls Barkley and has recorded collaborative albums with Yeah Yeah YeahsKaren O and the late, legendary MF DOOM. As a producer, he’s worked with Adele, U2, The Black Keys, Gorillaz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Michael Kiwanuka, Parquet Courts and a lengthy list of others.

Born Tariq Trotter, Black Thought is a co-founder and frontman of The Roots. Trotter is an accomplished solo artist who has released a critically applauded album and two EPs: 2020’s Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Abel and 2018’s Streams of Thought Vol. 1 EP and Streams of Thought Vol. 2 EP. While considered by the cognoscenti as one of the dopest emcees to ever do it, Trotter has also acted in film and theater. And has producer and writing credits.

Their long-awaited joint album together Cheat Codes is slated for an August 12, 2022 release through BMG. While Cheat Codes marks Danger Mouse’s first hip-hop album since 2005’s DANGERDOOM with MF and the follow-up to Black Thoughts’ solo trilogy Streams of Thought, their collaboration can be traced back almost almost 20 years: Trotter and Burton first met back in 2005. They started working on material — but time went on, life happened, other projects and obligations came up.

Following 2004’s The Grey Album, Burton became one of the most in-demand and prolific producers of the day, helming several commercially and critically successful projects, which led to a bevy of accolades and awards. He also developed collaborations with a unique and eclectic array of artists while expanding upon and honing his own musicianship, production and writing.

During that same period of time, The Roots released some critically applauded albums and became the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon then The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Trotter released his aforementioned, critically applauded solo trilogy Streams of Thought. He collaborated with the likes of Eminem, John Legend, Pusha T., Griselda, and a list of others. He wrote, composed and starred in the widely-praised off Broadway show Black No More. And adding to a lengthy list of accomplishments, he co-produced a TV series with his Roots bandmate Questlove.

Each mistakenly thought that the other had moved on and their collaboration just died, but as it turned out neither ever stopped wanting to work together. Burton felt an instinctive pull to go back to his roots and make a timeless hip-hop album. He knew that Trotter was the only emcee capable of fulfilling that vision. Simultaneously, Trotter was seeking a space, where he could express himself musically and creatively beyond the confines and structures of his own band.

This time, Burton was a far more seasoned songwriter and producer, Trotter an even more extraordinary emcee.  So, setting aside all distractions, Burton played Trotter some new music he had had. The ideas and words quickly flowed — and the experience was liberating.

Meticulously built over a period of several years, Cheat Codes reportedly finds Burton pushing widescreen, soul-infused hip-hop soundscapes to new directions paired with Trotter’s commanding presence, incisive lyricism and dexterous wordplay. Unlike the typical producer-meets-rapper/side project, Cheat Codes is an effort between two like-minded collaborators, who raise each other’s games to new heights.

The album also features an equally acclaimed cast of guests including A$AP Rocky, Run The Jewels, MF DOOM, Michael Kiwanuka, Joey Bada$$, Russ, Raekwon, and Conway the Machine.

Cheat Codes‘ first single “No Gold Teeth” is centered around a warm and dusty old school, psychedelic soul production that to my ears is a slick synthesis of RZA, Pete Rock, and DJ Premier. The production serves as a lush bed for Black Thought’s rapid fire, lyrical deluge. This is that real hip-hop: dope emcees spitting flames over dope beats.

Directed by UNCANNY, the UK-based creative duo of George Muncey and Elliot Elder, the accompanying video is a hypnotic and mind-bending collage of machine learning-created images superimposed over Black Thought’s head.