Tag: Mariah Carey

Throwback: Happy 52nd Birthday, Mariah Carey!

The first two weeks of Spring and of the astrological sign Aries is rather auspicious for music — Aretha Frarnkin, Diana Ross, Elton John, Damon Albarn, Lee “Scratch” Perry are all among an incredibly talented and legendary array of artists who were born between March 21-March, 31. Of course, we can’t forget Mariah Carey, who turns 52 today.

Carey is the voice of a ridiculous amount of smash hit songs — many which I know deep in your soul you love, and will happily sing along to in the shower or while doing karaoke. Personally, I’ve always adored her cover of The Jackson 5’s “I’ll be There.” So, to that end, Happy birthday, Mariah. May there be many, many more!

New Video: Black Marble Releases a New Wave-like Synth Cover of Mariah Carey’s Christmas Smash Hit

Black Marble is an acclaimed synth pop/coldwave project founded by its creative mastermind Chris Stewart in 2012. Initially started as a duo featuring Team Robespierre’s Ty Kube, the act has released an EP and three full-length albums — with 2012’s Weight Against the Door EP and A Different Arrangement, and 2016’s It’s Material recorded as a duo.

Interestingly, It’s Immaterial reflected several major changes for the acclaimed act: the album marked Kube’s departure from the project, and Stewart’s move from Brooklyn to the West Coast. And since relocating to the West Coast, Stewart has released his third Black Marble album, last year’s Bigger Than Life and this year’s I Must Be Living Twice EP, a covers EP featuring covers of Wire, Robert Palmer, Lives of Angels, The Field Mice, and Grouper.

Closing out 2020, Stewart, along with an impressive array of indie synth pop stars took part in a charity video compilation Synthmas: A Holiday Special, which encourages donations to two important and worthy causes:

Alexandria House: Founded in 1996, Alexandria House is a Los Angeles-based transitional residence that provides safe and supportive housing for women and children — particularly women and children of color — who are in the process of moving from emergency shelter to economic stability and permanent housing, They also serve the broader Mid-Wilshire section of Los Angeles by providing educational and enrichment opportunities for their neighbors, as well as for their residents.

In response to the needs of the women and children living in Alexandria House, as well as the larger neighborhood, Alexandria House’s goal is to be community-orientated and intentionally multicultural and anti-racist.

More than 92% of the women who have moved through the Alexandria House program have succeeded in securing financial stability and permanent housing.

Save Our Stages : Created by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) and its 1300 member venues, NIVA’s mission is to preserve and nurture the important ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters across the US. As a result of their efforts, NIVA was able to win crucial federal funding as part of the most recent COVID relief bill. But while the federal funding was desperately needed, indie venues across the country could still use your help during one of the most difficult economic periods in recent memory.

Stewart’s contribution to the Synthmas compliation is a decidedly 80s New Wave/New Order-like cover of Mariah Carey’s ubiquitous smash hit Christmas anthem “All I Want For Christmas Is You” that turns the song into a lonely and bittersweet ode to longing for the family and friends we can’t see because of the pandemic — and for the hope that we’ll be able to do the very human things we all miss so much right now.

“Given all that’s happened in the last year It struck me as likely that many of us are in the same boat right now and thinking about this idea of missing our friends and loved ones and wondering when we will be able to gather together again,” Black Marble’s Chris Stewart says in press notes. “I usually take it for granted that I’ll be able to see my family for instance at this time, but for me and a lot of us this year, those plans were put on hold. The original intent of the song seems more playful, but because of these ideas, it took on, for me, more of a tone of longing and wishing to be with the people you care about and not having much appetite for the usual more commercial trappings of the season in light of this thing we’re all going through. Also, I mean who doesn’t love some Mariah Carey around this time – and I thought it would be fun to do a more synthy take on such a well-known classic pop song as well as update it tonally to reflect this current reality.”

Co-directed by Ashley Leahy and Stewart, the recently released video for “All I Want for Christmas Is You” was shot in Los Angeles and features Stewart unwrapping his gifts — a synthesizer and guitar — and performing the song in a bare green-walled room and in front of Christmas-themed sights across Los Angeles. Additionally, we see Stewart rocking out and passing out gifts. There’s a restlessness and boredom throughout that should feel familiar — like the restless boredom we’ve experienced over the past few months.

“For the video we wanted to get across the idea of this character who is sort of restless and longing for someone who’s not there and doesn’t really have the time or headspace for the usual holiday festivities,” Stewart explains. ”
That’s why we shot the scene of presents being passed from hand to hand and sort of discarded as if they are unimportant or an afterthought, and why we shot the exteriors all over town as if the character is in search of someone or something. Or this idea that wishing for someone or something is universal right now and not confined to one particular place.” He adds: “In addition we wanted a humorous offbeat tone and took inspiration from the classic ‘80s video ‘You Can Call Me Al’ that Paul Simon did with Chevy Chase. I wanted two versions of me and for them to have distinct personalities, with one character really feeling the sentiments of the song and the other kind of aloof and absent minded and sort of breaking the fourth wall with all these technical problems.”

Before I forget, the single is currently available through Bandcamp and additional digital retailers — and will be widely available on Christmas Day.

New Video: Funk and Soul Legend Releases a Powerful Visual for Uplifting “Make a Difference”

Dayton, OH-born and-based singer/songwriter and drummer Steve Arrington got his start as a member of the legendary Dayton-based funk and soul act Slave in the 70s, eventually becoming known for contributing lead vocals on smash hits like “Watching You,” and “Just a Touch of Love.” Continuing upon the success he attained with Slave, Arrington went solo recording a handful of albums before leaving the secular music world in 1991 to focus on spiritual and ministerial work.

Since 1991, an impressive and eclectic array of artists including Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Mariah Carey, N.W.A. and a lengthy list of others sampling his work in Slave and as a solo artist. Interestingly, after nearly two decades away from professional secular music, Arrington returned in 2009 with the release of that year’s Pure Thang, which he followed up with 2013’s collaborative album with Dam-Funk, Higher, released through Stones Throw Records. And in the decade or so since the release of Pure Thang, the Dayton-born and-based legend has collaborated with old-schoolers and youngbloods alike, working with Snoop, , Kool Moe Dee, George Clinton, and Thundercat.

Released earlier this year, Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Lessons is Arrington’s first solo album in 11 years, and the album’s material sees the funk and soul legend finding peace with himself and God while casting an easygoing yet still razor-sharp critical eye on the world around him. The album also captures an old schooler, who’s still restlessly creative and as vital as ever. As a 40-something that kind of thing is inspirational to me.

Produced by DJ Harrison, “Make a Difference,” Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions‘ third and latest single continues a run of strutting and sinuous pimp struts featuring a a shimmering arrangement of twinkling and reverb-drenched Rhodes, a sinuous bass line, sunny horn lines and a stuttering boom-bap like beat. But unlike its immediate predecessor, the Quiet Storm-like “Soulful I Need That In My Life,” “Make a Difference” is centered around a proud and defiantly hopeful message: we haven’t achieved Martin’s dream of the promise land yet but we’re making much progress towards it. And while things are difficult, we can’t give up the hope that Black folks will be free — and that America will live up to its ideals. There’s just too much to lose for all of us.

“Make a Difference” address “the current state of things in this country,” Arrington says. “As far as the racial tensions . . . so much of it is being promoted by politicians with agendas. And you have moments like Black Lives Matter, and different races coming together to say: ‘We’re not going back. We’re not stepping back into the forties and fifties.’ This song speaks to that. The great John Lewis — the message that he left for all of us, to understand and move forward, not making a difference for a few months, but a lifetime of living.”

Shot in a gorgeous and cinematic black and white, the recently released video for “Make a Difference” sees Arrington as a musical community elder, gently instructing the listener and viewer on Black history, putting the struggles and triumphs in a proper historical context, with Black Lives Matter being a continuation of a generations-long struggle for equality. And while we see the photography and footage of the talented and brave Black folk, who have influenced the world and have pushed for justice, the video also finds Arrington blessing the younger generation.

New Audio: Funk Legend Steve Arrington Releases a Shimmering and Much-Needed Bit of Spiritual Uplift

Dayton, OH-born and-based singer/songwriter and drummer, Steve Arrington got his start with the acclaimed Dayton-based funk and soul act Slave in the 70s, eventually becoming known for singing lead vocals on the act’s smash hits “Watching You,” and “Just a Touch of Love.” Continuing an incredible run of professional success, Arrington went solo, releasing a handful of albums before leaving the secular music world in 1991 to focus on spiritual and ministerial work.

As Arrington focused on the spiritual matters, an impressive and eclectic array of artists have been influenced by his work, with artists like Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Mariah Carey, N.W.A. and a lengthy list of others sampling his work in Slave and as a solo artist.

After nearly two decades away, Arrington returned to secular music in 2009 with the release of that year’s Pure Thang, which he followed up with 2013’s collaborative album with Dam-Funk, Higher, released through Stones Throw Records. Since then the Dayton-born and-based funk legend has had a number of attention-grabbing guest spots and collaborations with Snoop Dogg, Kool Moe Dee, George Clinton, and Thundercat.

The funk legend’s first solo full-length album in 11 years, Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions is slated for a Friday release through Stones Throw Records, and the album reportedly sees Arrington finding peace with himself and God, while casting an easygoing yet razor-sharp critical eye on the world around him. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles: the slow-burning Quiet Storm-like pimp strut “Soulful I Need That In My Life,” a song that offered prescriptive advice for listeners in a time of heightened anxiety, uncertainty, stress and despair — and proud and defiantly hopeful and shimmering “Make a Difference,” which reminds the listener that while we have achieved so much, we still have a lot of hard work to do to achieve Martin Luther King’s and John Lewis’ vision of America.

“The Joys of Love,” Down to the Lowest Terms’ fourth and latest single is a shimmering, neo-soul strut, centered around twinkling Rhodes, boom bap-like drumming, an infectious two step-inducing hook and Arrington’s imitable crooning. Considering the bleak and unending Kafkaesque hellscape that is our current world, this song is frankly a much-needed blast of spiritual uplift.

New Audio: Funk Legend Steve Arrington Returns with an Upbeat and Positive New Anthem

Steve Arrington is a Dayton, OH-born and-based singer/songwriter and drummer, who got his start with the acclaimed Dayton-based funk and soul act Slave in the 70s, eventually becoming known for being the lead singer on the act’s smash hits “Watching You,” and “Just a Touch of Love.” Continuing an incredible run of success, Arrington went solo, releasing a handful of albums before leaving the secular music world in 1991 to focus on spiritual and ministerial work.

An impressive and eclectic array of artists have drawn influence from Arrington’s work with artists like Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J,Mariah Carey, N.W.A. and a lengthy list of others sampling his work in Slave and as a solo artist.

After nearly two decades away, Arrington returned to secular music in 2009 with the release of that year’s Pure Thang, which he followed up with 2013’s collaborative album with Dam-Funk, Higher, released through Stones Throw Records. Additionally during the past decade, the Dayton-born and-based has had a number of attention-grabbing guest spots with the aforementioned Snoop Dogg, Kool Moe Dee, George Clinton, and Thundercat.

Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions is the funk legend’s first solo full-length album in 11 years, and the album. which is slated for a September 18. 2020 release though Stones Throw Records reportedly sees Arrington finding peace with himself and God while casting an easygoing but still razor-sharp critical eye on notes world around him. Last month, I wrote about the album’s second single “Soulful I Need That In My Life,” a slow-burning, Quiet Storm-like pimp strut centered around twinkling and gurgling synths, a sinuous bass line, plucked bursts of guitar and Arrington’s sultry crooning. And while bearing a resemblance to his work in Slave, the song offered some advice for listeners in a time of uncertainty, stress and despair — “downshift,” slow down and take it easy. 

Produced by DJ Harrison, “Make a Difference,” Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions’ third and latest single continues a run of strutting and sinuous pimp struts  featuring a a shimmering arrangement of twinkling and reverb-drenched Rhodes, a sinuous bass line, sunny horn lines and a stuttering boom-bap like beat. But unlike its immediate predecessor, the track is centered by a proud and defiantly hopeful message: at its core, the song reminds us that although we haven’t quite achieved Martin’s promised land yet, we’ve made a lot of progress towards that — and we can’t let that go. That bright and glorious future is coming and we all need to work our asses off to get there. 

“Make a Difference” address “the current state of things in this country,” Arrington says. “As far as the racial tensions . . . so much of it is being promoted by politicians with agendas. And you have moments like Black Lives Matter, and different races coming together to say: ‘We’re not going back. We’re not stepping back into the forties and fifties.’ This song speaks to that. The great John Lewis — the message that he left for all of us, to understand and move forward, not making a difference for a few months, but a lifetime of living.” 

 

New Audio: Funk Legend Steve Arrington Gives Us Advice on Getting Through These Dark Times

Steve Arrington is a Dayton, OH-born and-based singer/songwriter and drummer, who got his start with the acclaimed Dayton-based funk and soul act Slave in the 70s, eventually becoming best known for being the lead singer on the act’s smash hits “Watching You,” and “Just a Touch of Love.” Continuing an incredible run of success, Arrington went solo, releasing a handful of albums before leaving the secular music world in 1991 to focus on spiritual and ministerial work. 

An impressive and eclectic array of artists have drawn influence from Arrington’s with artists like Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Mariah Carey, N.W.A. and a lengthy list of others sampling his work in Slave and as a solo artist. 

Arrington returned to secular music in 2009 with the release of that year’s Pure Thang, which he followed up with 2013’s collaborative album with Dam-Funk, Higher, released through Stones Throw Records. Additionally during the past decade, the Dayton-born and-based has had a number of attention-grabbing  guest spots with the aforementioned Snoop Dogg, Kool Moe Dee, George Clinton, and Thundercat. 

Slated for a September 18, 2020 release through Stones Throw Records, Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions is the funk legend’s first solo album in 11 years — and the album reportedly sees Arrington finding peace with himself and God while casting an easygoing but still razor-sharp critical eye on the world around him. The album’s second and latest single “Soulful I Need That In My Life” is a slow-burning, Quiet Storm-like pimp strut centered around twinkling and gurgling synths, a sinuous bass line, plucked bursts of guitar, and Arrington’s imitable crooning. While bearing a resemblance to Arrington’s famous work in Slave, the song offers prescriptive advice for listeners in at time of uncertainty, stress and despair — “downshift,” and slow it down. “Some nice, soulful music is going to bring some peace to this time of trouble and stress,” the funk legend says in press notes. And you know what? I suspect he’s right. 

Created by Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf and Jamma D, “Soulful I Need That In My Life” the song can trace its origins to when the song’s producer Jamma D ran into Wolf at the label’s Gold Line Bar during the early states of the album. Wolf invited Jamma D to share some beats. And after sending a bunch of beats over, Jamma was surprised to hear that the funk legend wanted to use a beat for the album.“A few months after that I was behind the board in a studio watching Steve in the booth write, record, and ad-lib the entire jam in about 3 hours.” Jamma D says. “It was the pleasure of a lifetime to bear witness to the funk in its purest undiluted form, the INVADE is upon you!”

Comprised of singer/songwriter Aluna Francis and producer George Reid, the renowned London-based electronic music duo AlunaGeorge can trace their origins back to 2009 when Reid remixed My Toys Like Me‘s  “Sweetheart“. And since their official formation in 2012, the duo have developed a reputation for a sound that slickly meshes 90s and 00s R&B, synth pop, house music and EDM inspired by the likes of Flying Lotus, Chris Clark, Hudson Mohawke, Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah and Mariah Carey among others.

The duo has spent most of the past year working on new material — but in the meantime, AlunaGeorge’s Aluna Francis teamed up with young, up-and-coming Liverpool-based electronic music producer, songwriter and electronic music artist SG Lewis on the house music club banger “Hurting,” a track centered around shimmering arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and Francis’ sultry vocals singing about the raw, sexual yearnings of the post-breakup blues. Sonically speaking, the song is a slick and modern take on the classic house music sound, while revealing a careful attention to craft.

As Lewis says of the track, “Aluna and I met for the first time in LA earlier this year, and I was talking to her about the album concept, and in particular, Dark. Aluna has been a part of so many dance records that I love, so I knew I wanted to make a club track with her! After we ate burritos and hung out, we made ‘Hurting’ super quickly – the whole process was super natural between the two of us, and she has such an amazing ear for production.”

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Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brampton, ON-born, Toronto, ON-based DJ, violinist, singer/songwriter, sync pop artist and JOVM mainstay Maya Killtron, and as you may recall Killtron first came to attention both nationally and Stateside with the 2012 release of her debut EP Hipster/Gangsta. As a result of the surrounding buzz around her debut EP, Killtron made the rounds across the North American festival circuit with appearances at Miami’s Winter Music ConferencePride TorontoThe Halifax Jazz Festival and CMJ. Adding to a growing profile, her collaboration with NYC-based production duo Love Taps “Back For More” received attention from the likes of Stereogum and Huffington Post for a sound that meshed moomba and R&B – and for visuals that showcased a sadly bygone NYC. Additionally, Smalltown DJs, The Slow WavesEyes Everywhere, Brothers In Arms and City Kid Soul have all have remixed “Back For More” — with the City Kid Soul remix being named in the Top 5 at Toronto’s Bestival.

Killtron’s latest single “Satin Sheets” will further cement her reputation for crafting thumping, 80s synth pop/synth funk and 90s dance music-inspired tracks — and while rooted in a sweet nostalgia for slow dances at the school dance, for creating mixtapes of your favorite jams straight from the radio or for that new sweetheart of yours. Sonically speaking her material immediately brings to mind the likes of (the oft-mentioned on this site), Cherelle, I Feel for You-era Chaka Khan, Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, early Mariah Carey and so on, with a similar swaggering self-assuredness and an underlying heartbreaking angst — but bolstered by an incredibly slick modern production that’s both radio friendly and club friendly. As Killtron says of her  latest single “Satin Sheets,” “With this track I wanted to take it back to my hometown high school summers. Picture it: Brampton 1999, Cruisin’ along Queen St. on the 1A to Bramalea City Center, summer crushes at the Professor’s lake beach, tryin to catch the eye of the L-section babes for a slow jam at Rec dances, between pizza roll breaks, & bright summer afternoons crushing banquet burgers with the whole squad at Sunny’s. This song is high school Maya, the stacked vocal harmonies, the 90’s bass, the Brampton top down beat. As with all of the Never Dance Alone (my forthcoming Album) tracks, it’s the music I always wanted to make. Not just a nod or throwback, not disposable or following any trend. Its a real gateway into my musical past in ever bar. Syrupy, rich & full of R&B high school angst.”