Tag: Madonna

New Audio: Acclaimed Duo Silk City Team Up with Dua Lipa on a Sultry Classic Chicago House-Inspired Banger

Born Thomas Wesley Pentz, Diplo is a prolific and acclaimed Los Angeles-based producer, DJ and electronic music artist. As a solo artist, he’s managed to see a fair degree of commercial success with 2013’s Revolution EP, which debuted at #68 on the US Billboard 200 — and the EP’s title track was later featured in a Hyundai ad campaign and on the WWE 2K16 soundtrack. Diplo is also known as the co-founder and lead member of the electronic dancehall project Major Lazer, and one-half of electronic music production and artist duo Jack U with Skrillex. And as a producer, the Los Angeles-based producer, DJ and electronic music artist has collaborated with M.I.A., Gwen Stefani, Die Antwoord, Britney Spears, Madonna, Shakira, Beyonce, No Doubt, Justin Bieber, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Trippie Redd, Chris Brown, CL, and G-Dragon. 

Mark Ronson is a London-born and-based multi-instrumentalist, DJ, singer/songwriter and producer and although his debut effort, 2003’s Here Comes the Fuzz failed to make the charts, his sophomore effort, 2007’s Version landed at number 2 on the UK charts, thanks to the fact that the album had three Top 10 singles — and as a result, he won a Brit Award for Best British Male Solo Artist. Building upon a growing profile, 2010’s Record Collection peaked at #2 on the UK Charts.

Ronson also won Grammy Awards for Producer of the Year, Non Classical, Best Pop Album and Record of the Year for his work on Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” and Back to Black. He also produced “Cold Shoulder,” off Adele’s critically applauded and commercially successful debut 19. And unless you’ve been living in a remote Tibetan monastery in the Himalayas, Ronson’s first UK and US #1 single was his collaboration with Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk,” and as a result of the single’s massive commercial success, Ronson won the Brit Award for British Single of the Year, as well as Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. The London-born and-based producer, DJ, multi-instrumetanlist and singer/songwriter’s fourth full-length album Uptown Special was his first #1 album in the UK and peaked at #5.

Ronson’s and Diplo’s collaboration together Silk City can trace its origins to the duo’s long-time friendship, a friendship that dates back to the early 2000s. Their debut single “Only Can Get Better,” featuring Daniel Merriweather was released earlier this year, ahead of their Governor’s Ball set, and they’ve already made several other appearances across the international festival circuit with sets at Bestival and Treasure Island Music Festival among others.  The duo’s second single “Feel About You,” a collaboration with Mapei was a slickly produced and soulful track with arpeggiated synths that subtly nods at Robin S’s “Show Me Love” — but with a clean, hyper modern sheen. The acclaimed duo’s latest single “Electricity” find them collaborating with multi-Brit Award-winning Albanian-British singer/songwriter and model Dua Lipa, and The xx’s Romy Madley-Croft and Diana Gordon, who co-wrote and contributed lyrics and melodies, and much like it’s predecessors, “Electricity” is a slickly produced, anthemic banger. However, the piano-led, hook-driven track draws from classic Chicago house, complete with an irresistible sensual ecstasy at its core.

Directed by production duo Bradley and Pablo, the recently released video for “Electricity” is set during the Blackout of 2003 and stars Dua Lipa, who hosts a loft party that contains so much sexual energy that it keeps the lights on in the apartment. Of course, two of the guests — guess who, y’all? — wind up being stuck in an elevator and completely missing the party. 
 

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OctFest 2018 Preview

Last year, Pitchfork, one of the premier music websites; October, a beer culture-centric website that aims to capture the spirit, ambition, making and drinking of the precious and beloved stuff through essays, travelogues and events; and Bon Appetit, the award-winning food lifestyle brand teamed up for what may arguably be one of the most unique festivals I’ve come across in some time: OctFest, a beer, music and food festival.  2018’s edition of OctFest, which will take place on Governor’s Island on September 8, 2018 and September 9, 2018 will feature a food lineup curated by Bon Appetit , a music lineup curated by Pitchfork that will include Vince Staples, The Flaming Lips and dozens of other music acts, 90+ craft breweries from all around the world – and with arguably some of the most gorgeous views of Manhattan you’ll see in your life.

So let’s talk a bit about each aspect of the festival, huh?

Food

The food program is centered around a Food Village that will offer a number of New York-based quick-serve staples including the Mission Chinese Food, Roberta’s Pizza, Oddfellows Ice Cream Co, Sweet Chick, the STUF’D Truck, Cervo’s, Best Pizza, Oakland, CA-based KronnerBurger and many others preparing specialties to compliment the domestic and international craft beer being sampled.  (Check out the full lineup below.)

FOOD LINEUP

Curated by Bon Appétit

Best Pizza

Cervo’s

Hank’s Juicy Beef

Island Oyster

KronnerBurger

Los Viajeros Food Truck

Mission Chinese Food

Oddfellows Ice Cream Co.

Sweet Chick

STUF’D Truck

Roberta’s Pizza

 

Beer

 OctFest will be hosting 90 breweries from 20 different countries, pouring more than 250 varieties of award-winning craft beer. Several breweries will be making their New York City debut, including Wicked Weed Brewing, DC Brau, Wedge Brewing Co, Four Peaks Brewing Co, Wild Beer Co., and Karbach Brewing, Co. (Check out the full lineup below.)

BREWERY LINEUP

North America – West

10 Barrel Brewing Co. (Bend, OR)
Austin Eastciders (Austin, TX)
Breckenridge Brewery (Littleton, CO)
Elysian Brewing Company (Seattle, WA)
FiftyFifty Brewing Company (Truckee, CA)
Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Paso Robles, CA)
Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, MI)
Four Peaks Brewing Co. (Tempe, AZ)
Golden Road Brewing (Los Angeles, CA)
Goose Island Beer Co. (Chicago, IL)
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (Dexter, MI)
Karbach Brewing Co. (Houston, TX)
Kona Brewing Company (Kailua-Kona, HI)
Live Oak (Austin, TX)
Monkless Belgian Ales (Bend, OR)
On Tour Brewing Company (Chicago, IL)
Rogue Ales (Newport, OR)
The Shop Beer Co. (Tempe, AZ)
Virtue Cider (Fennville, MI)
North America – East

Blue Point Brewing Company (Patchogue, NY)
Brasserie Archibald (Canada)
Braven Brewing Company (Brooklyn, NY)
Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, NY)
Brickworks Cider (Canada)
Circa Brewing Co. (Brooklyn, NY)
Cisco Brewers (Nantucket, MA)
Collective Arts Brewing (Canada)
DC Brau (Washington, D.C.)
Devils Backbone Brewing Company (Roseland, VA)
Flying Dog Brewery (Frederick, MD)
Hanging Hills Brewing Company (Hartford, CT)
Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers (Framingham, MA)
Keegan Ales (Kingston, NY)
Lamplighter Brewing Co. (Cambridge, MA)
LIC Beer Project (Long Island City, NY)
Lord Hobo Brewing Company (Woburn, MA)
M.I.A. Beer Company (Doral, FL)
Microbrasserie Gainsbourg (Canada)
Mill Street Brewery (Canada)
Narragansett Brewing Company (Pawtucket, RI)
Sand City Brewing Co. (Northport, New York)

Springdale (Framingham, MA)
Stanley Park Brewing (Canada)

Sunday Beer Co. (Brooklyn, NY)
The Bronx Brewery (Bronx, NY)
Veza Sur Brewing Co. (Miami, FL)
Wicked Weed Brewing (Asheville, NC)
Zero Gravity Craft Brewery (Burlington, VT)
Europe
Aktien Brewery of Kaufbeuren (Germany)
Birra del Borgo (Italy)
Brasserie La Binchoise (Belgium)
Brouwerij Bosteels (Belgium)
Brouwerij DeKroon (Belgium)
Camden Town Brewery (UK)
Ginette (Belgium)
Hertog Jan (Netherlands)
Jopen (Netherlands)
La Virgen (Spain)
Laugar Brewery (Spain)
Radeberger (Germany)
Wild Beer Co (UK)
Latin America
Barfuss (Argentina)
Bocanegra (Mexico)
Bogota Beer Co (Colombia)
Cervecería Urbana (Mexico)
Cervecería Wendlandt (Mexico)
Cerveza Patagonia (Argentina)
Colorado (Brazil)
Cucapá (Mexico)
Lohn Bier (Brazil)
Melas Beer (Colombia)
Nicaragua Craft Beer Co. (Nicaragua)
Pratinha (Brazil)
Wals (Brazil)
Asia, Africa, Oceania
Bira 91 (India)
4 Pines Brewing Company (Australia)
Balter Brewing Co (Australia)
Boxing Cat Brewery (China)
Cape Brewing Co. (South Africa)
Good George (New Zealand)
Newlands Spring Brewing Company (South Africa)
Pirate Life Brewing (Australia)
Playground Brewery (South Korea)
Taihu Brewery (Taiwan)
The Hand & Malt Brewery (South Korea)

Music

 While I’ll definitely have interest in the food and beer, my primary interest is the music and I’m looking most forward to catching sets from the following:

Saturday, September 8

 Vince Staples: Staples is a 25 year-old, North Long Beach, CA-born and-based emcee and actor, who first rose to prominence as member of hip-hop collective Odd Future, which also featured Mike G, Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler The Creator – and the collaborative Mac Miller-produced Stolen Youth mixtape. October 2014 saw the release of his solo debut EP, Hell Can Wait, which included attention grabbing singles “Hands Up” and “Blue Suede.”

Building upon a growing profile, Staples’ full-length debut 2015’s Summertime ’06 was released to critical applause – with Staples being featured as part of XXL’s 2015 Freshman Class. Staples’ critically acclaimed sophomore album, 2017’s Big Fish Theory found the acclaimed, young emcee expanding upon his sound as the album’s production incorporated avant-garde, dance and electronic influences. Additionally, Staples’ made a guest appearance on Gorillaz’s latest effort Humanz.

Staples is headlining Saturday night and I’m looking forward to hearing material off both Summertime ’06 and Big Fish Theory live.

BADBADNOTGOOD: Currently comprised of founding members Matthew Tavares (keys), Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums) with newest member Leland Whitty (saxophone), the Toronto, Ontario, Canada instrumental act BADBADNOTGOOD derive their name from an abandoned comedy TV project that Tavares was working on before the band formed – and whether as trio or a quartet, the band has developed a reputation for a sound and compositional approach that draws from hip-hop, electronica, jazz, prog rock; but they’re perhaps best known for their jazz-based interpretation of hip-hop tracks, which have allowed them to collaborate with Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Denzel Curry, Danny Brown, Mick Jenkins, Ghostface Killah and others. Interestingly, the band can trace its origins to when the band’s founding trio bonding over a mutual love of hip-hop – in particular MF Doom and Odd Future.

As the story goes, the then-trio played a piece based on Odd Future’s music for a panel of their jazz performance instructors, who didn’t believe it had much musical value – but interestingly enough, after they released the track as “The Odd Future Sessions, Part 1,” the track caught the attention of Tyler The Creator, who helped the video go viral. The Canadian act followed that up with the 2011 release of their full-length debut BBNG, which featured interpretations of A Tribe Called Quest, Waka Flocka Flame and Odd Future. Building upon a growing profile, the members of BADBADNOTGOOD recorded a live jam session with Tyler The Creator in Sowinski’s basement, with videos from the session amassing more than a million views each.

2012’s sophomore effort BBNG2 was recorded over the course of a ten-hour studio session and featured Leland Whitty (saxophone) and Luan Phung (electric guitar) and featured their own original material, as well as renditions of sons by Kanye West, My Bloody Valentine, James Blake, Earl Sweatshirt and Feist. That year, the band was the official Coachella Festival house band, backing Frank Ocean and Odd Future over the course of its two weekends.

2013 saw the release of III, which featured “Hedron,” a track that was also featured on the compilation album Late Night Tales: Bonobo; “CS60” and “Can’t Leave the Night,” which was released with the B-side “Sustain,” and they were involved on the soundtrack for The Man with the Iron Fists, assisting with the production and composition.

2015 saw the release of the band’s fourth, full-length album Sour Soul, and the album found them collaborating with Ghostface Killah – and interestingly, the album is more of a hip-hop album that nods at jazz. They ended the year with covers of a handful of holiday standards, including “Christmas Time Is Here” with Choir! Choir! Choir!

Leland Whitty joined the band as a full-time member in early 2016, and followed that up with producing “Hoarse” off Earl Sweatshirt’s full-length debut Doris and “GUV’NOR,” a remix, which appeared on JJ DOOM’s Keys to the Kuffs (Butter Edition). By the middle of that year, BADBADNOTGOOD released their fifth full-length album IV, an album that featured guest spots from Future Islands’ Sam Herring, Colin Stetson, Kaytranada, Mick Jenkins and Charlotte Day Wilson, and was named BBC Radio 6’s #1 album of the year.

Live the act, which also includes keyboardist James Hill can easily shift between jazz, acid jazz, jazz fusion, hip-hop, prog rock, advant-garde jazz, funk and rock with an effortless and seamless fashion – and seemingly at will. I saw them earlier this summer at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell  and they are a must see.

Preoccupations: Now throughout the past handful of years of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about Canadian post-punk act and JOVM mainstays Preoccupations, and as you may recall, the band which is comprised of Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar) initially formed under the highly controversial name Viet Cong – and as a result of their original name, the members of the band found themselves in the middle of a furious and frenzied debate around cultural appropriation and the usage of terms, names and symbols closely associated with historical groups and actions that evoke the horrors and brutality of despotism, fascism, war, genocide and so on. Ultimately, the band decided it was best to change their name before the release of their sophomore album, an effort that found each of the individual members of the band in unsteady and uncertain positions – at the time, each of the individual members of the band had relocated to different cities across North America, which forced the band to change their long-established creative process.

Unlike their previously recoded material, the band went into the writing sessions without having a central idea or theme to consider or help guide them along, essentially making the recording sessions a collective, blind leap of faith. Interestingly, the band’s sophomore, self-titled album wound up drawing from that mix of anxiety, despair and regret that creates sleepless nights. New Material, the band’s third full-length album was released earlier this year, and the album builds upon the Canadian post-punk act’s growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post-punk centered around themes of anxiety, uncertainty, futility, frustration, creation and destruction but as the band’s Matt Flegel says of the self-recorded album, the album is “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.”  And while the material is dark, murky and deeply introspective, the members of Preoccupations have developed a reputation for having an intense and energetic live show, which reveals the material’s anthemic nature.

Sunday, September 9

 

The Flaming Lips: Currently comprised of founding members Wayne Coyne (guitar, vocals) and Michael Ivins (bass), with Steven Drozd, Derek Brown, Jake Ingalls, Matt Duckworth and Nicholas Ley, the Norman, OK-based psych rock/psych pop/indie rock act The Flaming Lips formed back in 1983 with Coyne (guitar), Coyne’s brother Mark (vocals), Ivins (bass) and Dave Kotska (drums). Interestingly, after Kotska joined the band, Richard English joined the band – and that year, they recorded the only full-length album with Mark Coyne, the band’s self-titled effort.

After Mark Coyne left the band, Wayne assumed vocal duties and the and released their 1986 full-length debut Hear It Is on Pink Dust Records, a psych rock imprint of Engima Records. With that initial lineup, the band released two more albums, 1987’s Oh My Gawd!!! and 1989’s Telepathic Surgery, which was originally planned to be a 30-minute sound collage. From that point on, the band has gone through a series of lineup changes – 1989’s Dave Fridmann-produced In a Priest Driven Ambulance featured Nathan Roberts (drums) and Mercury Rev’s Johnathan Donahue (guitar), and saw the band expanding upon their sound with further experimentation with tape loops and effects, as well as Coyne making a transition to vocal style inspired by Neil Young.

Back in 1990, the members of The Flaming Lips caught the attention of Warner Brothers Records and were promptly signed when an AR rep witnessed a show in which the band almost burned down the American Legion Hall in their hometown with the use of pyrotechnics. In 1991, the members of the band started recording their major label debut Hit to Death in the Future Head, which was delayed for nearly a year because of their use of a sample from Michael Kamen’s score from the major motion picture Brazil, which had a lengthy clearance process. After the recoding of the album, Donahue left the band to focus on his work with Mercury Rev and Roberts leaving the band, citing creative differences.

Ronald Jones and Steven Drozd joined the band and with that lineup they released Transmissions from the Satellite Heart, their only full-length album in which their longtime producer and collaborator Fridmann wasn’t involved; however, because of the success of album single “She Don’t Use Jelly,” the band was featured on Beverly Hills 90210, Late Show with David Letterman, Charmed and Beavis and Butthead. Building upon a growing profile, the band went on a lengthy stint of touring opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Candlebox.

1995’s Clouds Taste Metallic was released to critical fanfare in 1995 although it didn’t achieve the same commercial success of its predecessor. In 1996, the band went through another lineup chance with the depature of Ronald Jones. The three remaining members of the band felt a growing dissatisfaction with stand rock music, led to the extremely experimental Zaireeka, a four CD album intended to be heard by playing all four CDs in four separate CD players simultaneously. Sonically, the material incorporated traditional musical elements, found sounds often manipulated by contemporary recording studio techniques and electronics.

And while their experimental efforts received, the band received mainstream success with 1999’s The Soft Bulletin, which meshed catchy melodies with synthetic strings, hypnotic and carefully manipulated beats, booming cymbals and weird but deeply philosophical lyrics. Critically, the album has been compared to The Beach Boys’ Pet Soundsas it featured the entire studio as an instrument to be manipulated. The Soft Bulletin’s critically applauded follow-up, 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots featured guest musician Yoshimi P-We and found the band incorporating the increasing use of electronics and computer manipulation – and the album is generally considered their first critical and commercially successful album after 20 years as a band; in fact, “Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)” won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, and the album was certified Gold in 2006. Since then the band has been considered one of those must-see acts, thanks in part to a show that has largely been described as a pure spectacle.  

Nile Rodgers & Chic: Nile Rodgers is a New York-born and-based songwriter, guitarist, composer, arranger and producer, who is best known as a co-founding member of smash-hit disco act Chic and for his work as a producer and collaborator with the likes of Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, Philip Bailey, Thompson Twins, Sheena Easton, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Duran Duran, Madonna, INXS, Britney Spears, Spoons, Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams, Avicii, Disclosure, Sam Smith, Pitbull, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue, Max Pezzali, Nervo, Laura Mvula, Sigala, Keith Urban, Christina Aguilera and George Michael among a growing list of artists.

Rodgers is arguably one of the more influential and important figures of pop music and dance music of the past 40+ years, and he’s had a role on some of the most beloved albums and singles, and I gotta admit I’m looking forward to hearing all of those old Chic songs live.

 Yo La Tengo: Yo La Tengo is Spanish for “I have it” — referring to a female-gendered object or person, in which it would be “I’ve got her,” but the Hoboken, NJ-based indie rock band actually derive their name from an old baseball anecdote. During the New York Mets‘ inaugural season in 1962, centerfielder Richie Ashbury and Venezuelan-born shortstop Elio Chacon found themselves colliding in the outfield. As the story goes, whenever Ashbury went for a catch, he wold scream “I’ve got it! I’ve got it!” but Chacon spoke Spanish and had a limited understanding of English. During a game later that year, Ashbury yelled “Yo la tengo! Yo la tengo!” instead and saw Chacon backing off on the play, avoiding further collisions; however, left fielder Frank Thomas, who didn’t understand Spanish and missed the team meeting that proposed using “Yo la tengo!” to avoid outfield collisions, collided into Ashburn. After getting up from their collision Thomas reportedly asked Ashburn, “What the hell is a Yellow Tango?”

As far as the band, the New Jersey-based indie rock band, which is currently comprised of founding members Ira Kaplan (guitar, piano, vocals), and Georgia Hubley (drums, piano, vocals), along with James McNew (bass, vocals) can trace their origins back to 1984. When Kaplan and Hubley formed the band, they played an advertisement to recruit other musicians, who shared their mutual love of The Soft BoysMission of Burma and Arthur Lee and his band Love, and as a result, the band’s first lineup featured Kaplan, Hubley, Dave Schramm (lead guitar) and Dave Rick (bass) with whom they released their debut 7 inch “The River of Water,” which featured a cover of Arthur Lee’s “A House Is Not a Motel.” After the band recorded “Private Doberman” for the Coyote Records compilation Luxury Condos Coming to Your Neighborhood Soon, the band went through a number of lineup changes before settling on their current lineup in 1992 — although the band’s original guitarist Dave Schramm joined the band during the sessions for their 14th record, Stuff Like That There.

Despite achieving limited mainstream success, Yo La Tengo have developed a reputation for being a critically applauded act while maintaining a devoted cult following, thanks in part to their live shows, which reveal an almost encyclopedic repertoire of covers — their SummerStage set last year began with a cover of Ace Frehely‘s “Back in the New York Groove“– and for their annual Hanukkah residency at Maxwell’s that featured a shit ton of covers and special guests, including their parents. Live, they manage to walk a tightrope between power and lush beauty, irony and sincerity within the turn of a phrase.

 

No Age: Comprised of Randy Randall (guitar) and Dean Allen Spunt (vocals, drums), the Los Angeles, CA-based noise rock duo No Age can trace their origins to the breakup of their previous band Wives, in which Spunt played bass and sang while Randall played guitar. The duo’s first official release was an extremely limited release collection of 5 vinyl singles  and Eps that they released on 5 different labels on or around the same day – March 26, 2007. Designed by Brian Roettinger and the members of No Age, the back of each record’s sleeve was a different color and had a different letter that when put together spelled out the band’s name. Half of the songs on the singles and EPs wound up comprising their full-length debut Weirdo Rippers.

Since the release of Weirdo Rippers, Randall and Spunt have developed a reptaution for relentless touring, frequently playing shows at unusual locations – they once played a show at the Los Angeles River and they famously accompanied video artist Doug Aitken and Chloe Sevigny to Athens, Greece and Hydra Island, Greece to perform a multimedia piece “Black Mirror.” The performances took place on an old Greek barge at the Port of Piraeus, off the Island of Hydra and a final performance with the barge driven to the middle of the ocean. Additionally, they’ve found new and interesting ways to pair art around the release of their music – 2009’s Losing Feeling EP was released with a limited edition “Losing Feeling” companion zine; 2012’s “Collage Culture” 12 inch was a soundtrack to readings of excerpts of Aaron Rose, Mandy Kahn and Brian Roettinger’s Collage Culture, split in two channels – one side with readings from the book, the other side with No Age music written specifically for the release.

The acclaimed noise rock act is currently touring to support their latest effort Snares Like a Haircut, which was released earlier this year through Drag City Records.

 

Check out the full musical lineup below.

MUSICAL LINEUP

Saturday, September 8

Vince Staples

BADBADNOTGOOD

NAO

Saba

Preoccupations

Vagabon

Standing on the Corner

Hatchie

Flasher

Madison McFerrin

 

Sunday, September 9

The Flaming Lips

Nile Rodgers & CHIC

Yo La Tengo

Girlpool

Hop Along

No Age

Kamaiyah

Shopping

Julie Byrne

The Courtneys

Tickets are still available, please check out OctFest.co for information.

You can check out information and updates on the festival at Oct.co, and on Twitter by following @Pitchfork and @ReadOctober.

 

I’ll be covering the festival through my various social accounts, so feel free to check me out through the following:

Twitter: @yankee32879

Twitter: @williamhelms3rd

Instagram: @william_ruben_helms

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Meshell Ndegeocello Releases Tender and Joyful Cover of Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded, JOVM mainstay Meshell Ndegeocello– and as you may recall, the singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist was born Michelle Lynn Johnson in Berlin, Germany and was raised in Washington, DC.  When she turned 17, she adopted the name Meshell Ndegeocello, with the surname, as she has explained meaning “free like a bird in Swahili.”

In the late 80s, Ndedgeocello gigged around DC’s go-go circuit, playing with a number of local acts including Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essence before unsuccessfully trying out for Living Colour’s bassist spot, after Muzz Skillings left the band. Deciding to go solo, Ndegeocello eventually caught the attention of Madonna, who signed the singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist to her Maverick Records. Most readers will remember her commercially successful collaborative coverof Van Morrison‘s “Wild Night,” with John Mellencamp, a single that peaked at #3 on the BillboardCharts in 1994 and “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” peaked at #73 later that year. Adding to a rapidly rising profile, she collaborated with the legendary Herbie Hancock on a track for Red Hot Organization’s AIDS awareness, tribute compilation Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, which was named Time Magazine‘s “Album of the Year.”  Her coverof Bill Withers‘ “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)” was a #1 Dance Hit in 1996 and was briefly featured in the major motion picture Jerry Maguire, and she landed Dance Top 20 hits with “Earth,” “Leviticus: Faggot,” and “Stay.” Along with that she collaborated with Madonna, playing bass on “I’d Rather Be Your Lover,” and contributing a verse at the last minute, after Tupac Shakur had criminal charges filed against him. Ndegeocello has also collaborated with Chaka Khan, rapping  on “Never Miss the Water,” a single that landed #1 on Billboard‘s Dance Club Charts and peaked at #36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with the likes of Basement Jaxx,Indigo Girls, Scritti Politti,The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morrissetteand Zap Mama.

Throughout her lengthy career, Ndegeocello has managed the rare feet of achieving commercial success while arguably being one of the most uncompromising and iconoclastic artists of the past 25 years — all while being credited as being at the forefront of the neo-soul sound, thanks in part to a genre defying and difficult to pigeonhole sound that draws from hip-hop, classic soul, jazz, rock, reggae and singer/songwriter pop. Over the past few years, Ndegeocello has been rather busy — she wrote and composed a musical influenced by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, titled Can I Get a Witness?: The Gospel of James Baldwin and released a gorgeous tribute album to the legendary Nina Simone, which featured collaborations with fellow JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnuTT and others.

Ventriloquism, Ndegeocello’s later album was released earlier this year, and the album finds the renowned singer/songwriter and bassist covering songs by  TLC, Janet Jackson, Tina Tuner, Prince and others, who have been influential to her and her work — but with her unique take. As the renowned singer/songwriter and bassist explains in press notes, “Early on in my career, I was told to make the same kind of album again and again, and when I didn’t do that, I lost support. There isn’t much diversity within genres, which are ghettoizing themselves, and I liked the idea of turning hits I loved into something even just a little less familiar or formulaic. It was an opportunity to pay a new kind of tribute.” Ventriloquism’s first single was a coverof Force MD‘s smash hit “Tender Love,” that found Ndegeocello turning the slow-burning, 80s piano ballad into a folksy, Harvest-era Neil Young/Fleetwood Mac track, complete with shuffling drumming, twinkling Fender Rhodes and harmonica. Though she eschews some of the song’s cheesiness, which makes it endearing in its own right, Ndegeocello’s cover retains the song’s earnestness — pointing out that a well-written pop song can reach for something downright timeless. 

The album’s latest single is a cover of Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity,” that briefly nods at Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” as it’s centered around loose, bluesy guitar chords, shuffling drumming and a New Orleans brass band-like bridge — and while retaining the song’s sultry nature, Ndegeocello manages to pull out and further emphasize the song’s tenderness.  Much like its predecessor, the new single continues Ndegeocello’s commentary on society’s narrow expectations on what music created by and performed by black artists should sound like and be like. 

Directed by the Cass Bird, the recently released video for “Sensitivity ” was specifically released in conjunction with the end of Pride Month — and in our dark and uncertain age, the video is a much-needed burst of joy and humanity, as the video was specifically cast to focus on faces, body types and identities that are less conventional, less celebrated and often misunderstood, capturing these people at their most vital, most joyful and most human — whether dancing, tenderly embracing, kissing and loving. Certainly, the world would be a much better place if there was more love and more gentle and human moments. 

New Video: Introducing the Sultry 80s-Inspired Synth Pop of Brooklyn’s Saint Marilyn

Comprised of Che Houston (vocals, synths, drums) and Kevin Marksson (bass, synths), the up-and-coming, Brooklyn-based synth pop duo Saint Marilyn can trace its origins to when Houston and Marksson met while in college. And as the story goes, the duo flirted with the idea of starting a band, eventually collaborating together as a drums-and-guitar power duo back in 2013 — until a period of experimentation with vintage synthesizers led to a change in sonic direction, a new name and regular gigs across NYC.. 

Throughout 2015, the duo quietly self-released demos before entering the studio to record their Josh Benash-produced debut single “Frustrate Me,” a single that caught the attention of Earmilk and Indie Shuffle as it revealed a band whose sound drew equally from 80s New Wave and contemporary electronic music. Over the course of the next couple of years, the band wrote new material, enlisted Will Haywood Smith (drums) for live shows, and further honed their material through a rigorous series of live shows before entering the studio to record their Chris Coady-produced debut EP Tangle, which is slated for release next week, and the EP’s latest single is the slickly produced, dance floor friendly “Standard,” which finds the band further cementing their reputation for a sound that draws from early 80s New Wave, 80s synth pop and  modern electronic music that pairs Houston’s sultry vocals with shimmering, arpeggiated synths, four-on-the-floor drums and a sinuous bass line. Interestingly enough, the song to my ears brings to mind Madonna’s “Everybody,” and “Holiday,” Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back,” complete with an infectious hook. 

The recently released video for the song employs a familiar and beloved concept — it features the band performing the song in a neon-lit studio space. 

New Video: Meshell Ndegeocello’s Soulful and Atmospheric Rendition of TLC’s Smash Hit “Waterfalls”

Born Michelle Lynn Johnson to US Army Sergeant Major Jacques Johnson, a saxophonist and Helen Johnson, a health care work, the Berlin, Germany-born, American-based singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello was raised in Washington, DC where she attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Oxon Hill High School. When she turned 17, she adopted the name Meshell Ndegeocello, with the surname, as she has explained meaning “free like a bird in Swahili.”

In the late 80s, Ndegeocello gigged around DC’s go-go circuit, playing with bands like Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essence before unsuccessfully trying out for Living Colour’s bassist spot, after Muzz Skillings left the band. Deciding to go solo, Ndegeocello, has the distinction of being Madonna’s Maverick Records first signings and while achieving a fair amount of commercial success. Her collaborative cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night,” with John Mellencamp peaked at #3 on the Billboard Charts in 1994 and “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” peaked at #73 later that year. Adding to a rapidly rising profile, she collaborated with the legendary Herbie Hancock on a track for Red Hot Organization’s AIDS awareness, tribute compilation Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, which was named Time Magazine’s “Album of the Year.”  Her cover of Bill Withers‘ “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)” was a #1 Dance Hit in 1996 and was briefly featured in the major motion picture Jerry Maguire, and she landed Dance Top 20 hits with “Earth,” “Leviticus: Faggot,” and “Stay.” Along with that she collaborated with Madonna, playing bass on “I’d Rather Be Your Lover,” and contributing a verse at the last minute, after Tupac Shakur had criminal charges filed against him. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with Chaka Khan, rapping “Never Miss the Water,” a single that landed #1 on Billboard‘s Dance Club Charts and peaked at #36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with the likes of Basement Jaxx, Indigo Girls, Scritti Politti, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morrissette and Zap Mama.

Ndeogecello has also had her music featured in the soundtracks of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Lost & Delirious, Batman & Robin, Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Talk to Me, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, The Best Man, Higher Learning, Down in the Delta, The Hurricane, Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom and Soul Men. And interestingly enough, Ndegeocello has managed the rare feat of achieving commercial success while arguably being one of the most uncompromisingly, iconoclastic and unique artists of the past 25 years. But perhaps more important Ndegeocello has been credited as being at the forefront of the neo-soul movement — thanks in part to a sound that routinely draws from hip-hop, classic soul, rock, reggae, jazz, and singer/songwriter/balladeer-like pop. She has also written and composed a musical influenced by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, titled Can I Get a Witness?: The Gospel of James Baldwin and she released a gorgeous tribute album to Nina Simone, which featured collaborations with JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnuTT and others, which add to her iconoclastic and difficult to pigeonhole reputation. 

The renowned bassist, singer/songwriter and rapper’s latest album Ventriloquism is slated for a March 16, 2018 release and the album will feature covers of songs by TLC, Janet Jackson, Tina Tuner, Prince and others, all of which have been influential to Ndeogeocello’s work — but with a unique take. And if you had been following this site earlier this year, you may recall that I wrote about her folksy Harvest-era Neil Young/Fleetwood Mac-like cover of Force MD”s smash hit “Tender Love,” a rendition that eschewed the 80s keyboard pop cheesiness of the original, which made it so beloved and awkward — while retaining the song’s earnestness, pointing out that well-written songs can be interpreted in countless ways and still be as wonderful as we remember.  Ventriloquism’s latest single is a slow-burning, atmospheric cover of TLC’s smash hit “Waterfalls” that manages to slow the tempo and the melody down to the point that it turns the song into something familiar yet kind of alien, all while retaining the sense of loss and confusion of the original. (I should note that Left Eye’s verse is removed — perhaps for obvious reasons.) Much like it’s predecessor, Ventriloquism’s latest single continues Ndegeocello’s larger commentary on society’s narrow expectations of what Black American music should sound like, be like and thematically concern itself with. 

Produced by Inga Eiriksdottir, directed by Damani Baker and featuring gorgeously cinematic work by director of photography Thor Eliasson, the recently released video for Ndegeocello’s rendition of “Waterfalls,” features a diverse, international cast and although shot in Iceland, the video consists of surreal yet symbolic visuals that at points nods at the original. 

New Audio: Meshell Ndegeocello Releases a Folksy Cover of Force MD’s “Tender Love”

Born Michelle Lynn Johnson to US Army Sergeant Major Jacques Johnson, a saxophonist and Helen Johnson, a health care work, the Berlin, Germany-born, American-based singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello was raised in Washington, DC where she attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Oxon Hill High School. When she turned 17, she adopted the name Meshell Ndegeocello, with the surname, as she has explained meaning “free like a bird in Swahili.”

In the late 80s, Ndedgeocello gigged around DC’s go-go circuit, playing with bands like Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essence before unsuccessfully trying out for Living Colour’s bassist spot, after Muzz Skillings left the band. Deciding to go solo, Ndegeocello, has the distinction of being Madonna’s Maverick Records first signings and while achieving a fair amount of commercial success. Her collaborative cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night,” with John Mellencamp peaked at #3 on the Billboard Charts in 1994 and “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” peaked at #73 later that year. Adding to a rapidly rising profile, she collaborated with the legendary Herbie Hancock on a track for Red Hot Organization’s AIDS awareness, tribute compilation Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, which was named Time Magazine’s “Album of the Year.”  Her cover of Bill Withers’ “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)” was a #1 Dance Hit in 1996 and was briefly featured in the major motion picture Jerry Maguire, and she landed Dance Top 20 hits with “Earth,” “Leviticus: Faggot,” and “Stay.” Along with that she collaborated with Madonna, playing bass on “I’d Rather Be Your Lover,” and contributing a verse at the last minute, after Tupac Shakur had criminal charges filed against him. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with Chaka Khan, rapping “Never Miss the Water,” a single that landed #1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Charts and peaked at #36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with the likes of Basement Jaxx, Indigo Girls, Scritti Politti, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morrissette and Zap Mama.
Ndeogecello has also had her music featured in the soundtracks of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Lost & Delirious, Batman & Robin, Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Talk to Me, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, The Best Man, Higher Learning, Down in the Delta, The Hurricane, Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom and Soul Men.

Interestingly, Ndegeocello has managed the rare feat of achieving commercial success while arguably being one of the most uncompromisingly, iconoclastic and unique artists of the past 25 years — and she’s been credited as being at the forefront of the neo-soul movement, thanks in part to a genre defying and difficult to pigeonhole sound that draws from hip-hop, classic soul, rock, reggae, jazz and singer/songwriter pop. Adding to that iconoclastic nature, Ndegeocello has written and composed a musical influenced by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, titled Can I Get a Witness?: The Gospel of James Baldwin and she released a gorgeous tribute album to Nina Simone, which featured collaborations with JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnuTT and others.

The renowned bassist, singer/songwriter and rapper’s latest album Ventriloquism is slated for a March 16, 2018 release and the album will feature covers of songs by TLC, Janet Jackson, Tina Tuner, Prince and others, all of which have been influential to Ndeogeocello’s work — but with a unique take. The album’s first single, her cover of Force MD’s smash hit “Tender Love,” finds Ndegeocello turning the slow-burning 80s piano ballad classic into a folksy, Harvest-era Neil Young/Fleetwood Mac track, complete with shuffling drumming, twinkling Fender Rhodes and harmonica. In my mind, what makes Ndegeocello’s cover truly fascinating is that she manages to completely eschew the 80s pop ballad cheesiness of the song, which makes it endearing 30 years after its release but without doing away with the song’s earnestness — while pointing out that the song manages to possess something that listeners far removed from the song’s initial release can grasp and connect to on a very visceral level. That’s what separates the great, timeless songs from the countless songs that will be forgotten 6 months or more after they’ve been released.  And on another level, the song will continue the renowned and iconoclastic Ndegeocello’s commentary on society’s narrow expectations of what black music should sound and be like.

New Video: The Classic House Inspired Sounds and Visuals of Moon King’s “Ordinary Lover”

Initially begun as a solo recording project of its Toronto, ON-born creative mastermind, primary songwriter, multi-insrumentalist and producer Daniel Benjamin, Moon King may arguably be best known for the several year period in which Benjamin collaborated with Maddy Wilde (vocals, guitar); but with Wilde’s departure last year, Benjamin has returned to his roots — recording as a solo project. Coincidentally, Benjamin also relocated to Detroit, MI around the same time as Wilde’s departure, and spent that year working and living in the Detroit neighborhood of Hamtramck. .

Benjamin’s stint in Hamtramck inspired a new batch of material, Hamtramck 16, a mixtape that not only documents his arrival into a new, unfamiliar place, it also is a radical change in sonic direction and songwriting approach, as the material on the mixtape captures the Canadian producer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s growing obsession with electronic dance music. And while in Detroit, Benjamin began collaborating with local artists and musicians, until he formed a new band — with the intention of crafting a sound that currently draws from disco, classic, Detroit house, synth pop — and even pop.  Mixtape single “In & Out” found Benjamin pairing his dreamy falsetto with a dance floor-friendly production that channels Nile Rodgers-era Madonna (i.e.,  “Lucky Star” and “Holiday“), Tom Tom Club (i.e., “Genius of Love“) and Larry Levan-era house as a driving groove is paired with fluttering, shimmering and cascading layers of synths, a sinuous bass line, four-on-the-floor-like beats and a razor sharp hook. And much like the sound and period, Benjamin is drawing from, the song manages to be incredibly accessible; in fact, if it wasn’t for the subtly modern production, the listener may have been tricked into believing that the song may have been released in 1983.

The mixtape’s second and latest single “Ordinary Love” is a much more straightforward production and song as arpeggio bursts of keys, tweeter and woofer rocking 808s and swirling electronics are paired with Benjamin’s falsetto vocals — and while seemingly influenced by Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait” and classic house, the song manages to reveal a subtly modern production sheen that nods at Octo Octa‘s Between Two Selves and the 100% Silk Records roster. 

Directed by Bronwyn Ford, the recently released music video manages to be a spot on ode to late 80s and early 90s dance music videos, as the video features a diverse and eclectic array of club-goers dancing to the club-baning track; and it’s shot on similar grainy video that will briefly trick some viewers into thinking that they’ve stumbled on to some rarely played house music gem. 

Initially begun as a solo recording project of its Toronto, ON-born creative mastermind, primary songwriter, multi-insrumentalist and producer Daniel Benjamin, Moon King may arguably be best known for the several year period that it was known as a duo featuring Maddy Wilde (vocals, guitar); but with Wilde’s departure last year, the project has managed to return to its roots. Coincidentally, Benjamin relocated to Detroit, MI around the same time as Wilde’s departure  — notably, the Detroit neighborhood of Hamtramck, where he spent the better part of a year.

Benjamin’s stint in Hamtramck inspired a new batch of material, Hamtramck 16, a mixtape that not only documents his arrival into a new, unfamiliar place, it also is a radical change in sonic direction and songwriting approach, as the material on the mixtape captures the Canadian producer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s growing obsession with electronic dance music.

Finally having some time to himself after years of relentless touring, Benjamin began collaborating with local artists and musicians, until he formed a new band — with the intention of crafting a sound that currently draws from disco, classic, Detroit house, synth pop — and even pop.  Mixtape single “In & Out” found Benjamin pairing his dreamy falsetto with a dance floor-friendly production that channels Nile Rodgers-era Madonna (i.e.,  “Lucky Star” and “Holiday“), Tom Tom Club (i.e., “Genius of Love“) and Larry Levan-era house as a driving groove is paired with fluttering, shimmering and cascading layers of synths, a sinuous bass line, four-on-the-floor-like beats and a razor sharp hook. And much like the sound and period, Benjamin is drawing from, the song manages to be incredibly accessible; in fact, if it wasn’t for the subtly modern production, the listener may have been tricked into believing that the song may have been released in 1983. The mixtape’s second and latest single “Ordinary Love” is a much more straightforward production, as arpeggio bursts of keys, tweeter and woofer rocking 808s and swirling electronics are paired with Benjamin’s falsetto vocals — and while seemingly influenced by Nu Shooz‘s “I Can’t Wait” and classic house, the song manages to reveal a subtly modern productions been that nods at Octo Octa‘s Between Two Selves and the 100% Silk Records roster.

The mixtape is slated for an August 4, 2017 release through Arbutus Records and Benjamin, along with his backing band will be on a mostly American tour throughout August and September to support the new effort, and it includes a September 8, 2017 stop at Silent Barn. Check out the rest of the tour dates below y’all.

 
TOUR DATES
08/11 – Baby G – TORONTO, ON 
08/12 – PN, MONTRÉAL, QC
08/18 – El Club, DETROIT, MI
09/02 – Schubas, CHICAGO, IL
09/03 – The Bishop, BLOOMINGTON, ID
09/04 – MOTR, CINCINNATI, OH
09/05 – Double Happiness, COLUMBUS, OH 
09/06 – Sound Hole, PHILADELPHIA, PA
09/07 – Charlies American Cafe, NORFOLK, VA
09/08 – Silent Barn, BROOKLYN, NY
09/11 – One Caroline, SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 
09/12 – Bard College, ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY
09/13 – House Of Targ, OTTAWA, ON
09/14 – Le Cercle, QUEBEC, QC

New Video: The 80s-Inspired Sounds and Visuals for Moon King’s “In & Out”

Initially formed as a solo recording project of its Toronto, ON-born creative mastermind, primary songwriter, multi-insrumentalist and producer Daniel Benjamin, Moon King may arguably be best known as a duo featuring Maddy Wilde (guitar, vocals) for the bulk of the project’s existence to date; but with Wilde’s departure from the project in 2016, the project has returned to its roots — as a solo project. And interestingly enough, around the same time, Benjamin relocated to Detroit, MI  — notably, the Detroit neighborhood of Hamtramck, which unsurprisingly inspired a new batch of material, Hamtramck 16, a mixtape that not only documents his arrival into a new and unfamiliar place but serves as a radical change in sonic direction for him, as the material on Hamtramck 16 captures Benjamin’s growing obsession with electronic dance music. 

Finally having some time to himself after years of relentless touring, Benjamin began collaborating with local artists and musicians, until he formed a new band — with the intention of crafting a sound that currently draws from disco, classic, Detroit house, synth pop — and even pop. In fact, as you’ll hear on Hamtramck 16’s latest single “In & Out,” Benjamin pairs his dreamy falsetto with a dance floor-friendly production that channels Nile Rodgers-era Madonna (i.e.,  “Lucky Star” and “Holiday”), Tom Tom Club (i.e., “Genius of Love”) and Larry Levan-era house as a driving groove is paired with fluttering, shimmering and cascading layers of synths, a sinuous bass line, four-on-the-floor-like beats and a razor sharp hook. And much like the sound and period, Benjamin is drawing from, the song manages to be incredibly accessible; in fact, if it wasn’t for the subtly modern production, the listener may have been tricked into believing that the song may have been released in 1983. 

The recently released visuals for “In & Out” feature neon-bright animation from Jordan Minkoff that channels the visuals for the aforementioned “Genius of Love” and George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog.” 

Over the past month or so, I’ve written about the first two singles off the border-crossing, synth pop compilation DRUG BLVD —  ACES‘ slow-burning and tender “Just Cut It Out,” and Astronautica‘s lush and dreamy “Reasons.” Interestingly, the album, which was mastered Barry Grint, who has worked with David BowieRadioheadPrinceOasisBeastie BoysMadonnaGuns ‘N’ Roses and others, the compilation will be the first release from new,  Istanbul, Turkey-based dream pop label Drug Boulevard, founded by Kubily Yigit, the founder of renowned Turkish progressive/trance label Blue Soho Records.

Serving as a Drug Boulevard’s in a attention-grabbing introduction, the record label’s compilation will also introduce global audiences to some up-and-coming talents within electro pop and dream pop including Sydney, Australia‘s Guy Brown. Best known as Mammals, Brown has received a growing profile for a production style that effortlessly shifts between indie rock and electronica, and Brown’s contribution to the compilation is shimmering, slow-burning and atmospheric cover of Telepopmusik’s “Breathe” that’s possesses a haunting, spectral feel.