Live footage of JOVM mainstays Black Pumas performing “Fire” at Arlyn Studios in Austin.
I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed and rapidly rising Austin, TX-based soul act, Black Pumas throughout the course of this past year, and as you may recall, the act which is led by Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter and guitarist drian Quesada and 27 year old singer/songwriter Eric Burton and features a cast of collaborators 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.
Black Pumas released their self-titled, full-length debut earlier this year, and since its release the act has been on a relentless touring schedule that has included three separate stops in New York alone: The Knitting Factory, back in May; Mercury Lounge, back in July; and Brooklyn Bowl last month. 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 . . .”
Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the band made their nationally televised debut last night, performing “Colors” on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, arranger and producer teamed up with a 10 member ensemble, The Midnight Hour, which features vocalists Loren Oden and Angela Munoz and guitarist Jack Waterson to compose and record the score to the acclaimed Netflix series Luke Cage. Last year, the ensemble released their self-titled debut which further established their sound: jazz and orchestral-inspired hip-hop that recalls David Axelrod, Quincy Jones and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr.
The act has been and will continue to be rather busy: Linear Labs has already released Jack Waterson’s psych rock solo album Adrian Younge Presents Jack Waterson and albums from the act’s Oden and Munoz, as well as the act’s highly-anticipated sophomore album are slated to be released over the coming months.
The Midnight Hour will be embarking on an extensive fall tour across North America with collaborative opening sets from Oden, Munoz and Waterson. The tour includes a stop tomorrow night at Brooklyn Bowl — and if you want to check out the rest of the tour dates, as well as ticket information, check out the following link:
In the meantime, Linear Labs and The Midnight Hour released live footage of the band performing “Noir” with The Roots’ Black Thought. The track originally appeared as part of Amazon Music’s Produced By series that Younge curated, produced and recorded to collectively celebrate the spectrum of Black Music — with the series appropriately being released during Black History Month. Interestingly, the live footage was filmed this past month at Los Angeles’ Lodge Room that featured collaborations with Estelle, Gallant, Georgia Anne Muldrow and a long list of others.
Of course, the live footage will give you a great sense of what you should expect of the Brooklyn Bowl shows and onward. But just as important, it’s a reminder of a few things — if you’ve forgotten about them:
Black Thought is fucking dope.
All dope emcees should record an album with a live jazz or orchestral ensemble.
When I rule the world, I’ll make sure that’s a law.
As far as the track, it’s a gorgeous and crafted take on hip-hop that’s sophisticated and cinematic while still being gritty street shit that raises the proceedings to a transcendent, Curtis Mayfield/Issac Hayes soundtrack-level artistry. In an age where a lot of hip-hop is mass produced product, we need to be reminded that it can be a transcendent and powerful art form.
Live footage of Steve’n’Seagulls performing “Thunderstruck” at The Knitting Factory on 9/18/19.
Throughout the bulk of this past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the rising Bristol, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Yola. And as you may recall, the JOVM mainstay’s extraordinary personal life have inspired 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 singer/songwriter and JOVM mainstay: she made her New York debut earlier this year at Rockwood Music Hall, played an attention-grabbing SXSW set and has opened for Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates, which has included stops at the Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors and Brandi Carlile’s Girls Just Wanna Weekend in Mexico. She played Mavis Staples’ traveling, 80th birthday celebration tour — and made her national TV debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions performing several songs off Walk Through Fire.
Additionally, the JOVM mainstay performed an intimate set at YouTube Space, which was simultaneously filmed for later distribution across the internet. During that set, she played one of my favorite track off the album, “It Ain’t Easier,” a carefully crafted and earnest love song centered around the concept that love always takes effort and care to survive.
Steve ‘n’ Seagulls is a Finnish act, comprised of Irwin Remmel, Pukki Kaalinen, Puikkonen, Hermann and Wild Till Hiltunen that has received attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere for bluegrass-like renditions of well-known metal and hard rock songs, including this amazing cover of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” which has amassed over 88 million streams on YouTube. Interestingly, much like Gangstagrass, Steve ‘n’ Seagulls make a vital connection between bluegrass and metal and hard rock, reminding listeners that they all essentially come from the same source.
Throughout the course of this past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed Austin, TX-based soul act, Black Pumas. And as you may recall, the act which is led by Grammy-winning producer, songwriter and guitarist Adrian Quesada and 27 year old singer/songwriter Eric Burton and features a cast of collaborators can trace its origins to when Burton, an attention-grabbing street perform busked his way to Los Angeles to Austin, where he met Quesada.
Black Pumas released their self-titled debut effort earlier this year, and building upon the rapidly growing buzz surrounding them. the act has been relentlessly touring, winning fans and critics over with a powerhouse live show. Interestingly, The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” has become both a staple of their live set and a fan favorite — and while their rendition turns the song into an expansive bit of bluesy, psych soul, it plumbs the depth of the original’s existential despair.
With the release of 2013’s Leriq-produced full-length debut L.I.F.E., which featured attention-grabbing singles like “Like to Party,” “Tonight”, “Always Love You”, “Run My Race” and “Yawa Dey,” Burna Boy, a Nigerian Afro-fusion singer/songwriter, born Damini […]
Over the past handful of months this year, I’ve written a bit about the up-and-coming Reykjavik, Iceland-based synth-based post-punk trio Kælan Mikla. Last year was a breakthrough year for the Icelandic act: they played a set at The Netherlands’ Roadburn Festival, were championed by The Cure’s Robert Smith and toured with King Dude, and as you may recall, all of that happened before the release of Nótt eftir nott.
The members of Kælan Mikla are currently in the middle of a lengthy Stateside tour that included a New York area stop last night. (You can check out the remaining tour dates below) Sadly, I had to miss that one — but in the meantime, the trio’s latest single off Nótt eftir nott is the brooding “Hvernig kemst ég upp.” Centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, a motorik-like groove, tweeter and woofer rocking low end, thumping beats, the industrial-leaning, synth-driven track finds the Icelandic act employing a sound that will likely bring early Depeche Mode and New Order immediately to mind.
Over the course of this year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Leuven, Belgium-based post-rock trio BRUTUS, and as you may recall, with the release of their full-length debut, 2017’s Burst, the Belgian trio, comprised of Stefanie Mannaerts (drums, vocals), Stijn Vanhoegaerden (guitar) and Peter Mulders (bass) quickly developed a national and international presence, despite the fact that they’ve achieved it with a sound shaped by necessity: Mannaerts adopted vocal duties because no one else would. Since Burst’s release, they’ve toured with JOVM mainstay Chelsea Wolfe, Thrice, Russian Circles, and played the major heavy EU festivals. Adding to a growing profile, Metallica‘s Lars Ulrich has proudly championed the Belgian trio.
Their Jesse Gander-produced sophomore album Nest was released earlier this year through Sargent House Records. And while the album finds the band making a concerted effort to write tight songs with an expanded sound, the album also finds the band’s Mannaerts fully embracing her dual roles as vocalist and drummer. Thematically speaking, the material focuses on the path the trio have taken together to get to the euphoric highs of achieving a lifelong dream.But there’s underlying moments of deep, introspection, in which they all consider the individual choices they’ve made to get there — and the impact those choices had on their loved ones, and those who they’ve left behind. And as a result, the material possesses a strangely uncomfortable yet necessary friction between wanting to continue their forward progression and a desire to maintain and cherish those connections to all that they love at home. But is that possible when you’ve taken such enormous risks to achieve something extraordinary? And when the things you’ve seen, done and experienced have become so different than those of your peers, can you keep that connection?
I previously wrote about three album singles: “War,” a track that alternated between dreamy and ruminative showcase and aggressive and forceful thrash metal, with enormous, arena rock friendly hooks; “Cemetery,” a track that found the band effortlessly riding doom metal, thrash metal, shoegaze, hardcore punk and stoner rock; and the concise and force “Django.” “Sugar Dragon,” Nest’s latest single continues a run of material that manages to simultaneously be intimate and deeply introspective and explosively cathartic; painterly and gorgeous shoegaze that feels like a painter’s brushstrokes across the canvas and pummeling metal with fiery guitar pyrotechnics. And much like its predecessors, the song captures the bleak and raw ache of taking stock of oneself and their lives — completely alone.