Tag: Neil Young

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. 

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New Video: The Breezy and Summery Visuals and Sounds of Wooden Shjjips’ Road Trip Anthem “Already Gone”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the renowned San Francisco, CA-based psych rockers Wooden Shjips, and as you may recall, although the act is currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Ripley Johnson (guitar, vocals), Dusty Jermier (trumpet, bass), Omar Ahsanuddin (drums) and Nash Whalen (organ), the band can trace their origins back to 2003 when Johnson started the band with the intention of finding a group of non-musicians and creating music with them, centered by the underlying idea that untrained musicians would have a different outlook on what music is and how it’s played, essentially bringing something fresh to to the table in a fashion reminiscent of the garage rockers of the early 60s, the  Velvet Underground and 70s punk rockers did. As the story goes, Dusty Jermier, one of the longest tenured members of the band was originally recruited to play saxophone, an instrument he had never picked up before while members of earlier iterations of the band frequently had such a lack of interest in playing live for anyone that the band didn’t bother looking for gigs. 
Eventually, the band settled to its current lineup but with different intentions. Johnson, who’s a fan of largely impenetrable albums and arcane, small-press poetry books was fascinated by the idea of books that went unread or became largely out of favor and/or of print that were rediscovered by collectors or some bored critic looking for something different, and praised for being lost and under-appreciated gems. The band had purposely set out to make obscure albums that Johnson envisioned randomly leaving in libraries, thrift store margin bins and on park benches. Eschewing a MySpace page, a Soundcloud account or a website with MP3 downloads, the band gave away a limited pressing of 300 copies of their debut 10 inch vinyl album, paying the shipping costs for out of town requests — and unexpectedly, the album received some rave reviews, including one from Rolling Stone, which raised the album’s cachet and the band’s profile, thanks in part to a sound that the band has described as “a minimal, droning kind of garage band-influenced psychedelia with a noticeable 60s Krautrock influence” with some comparing the band to Suicide, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Soft Machine and Guru Guru.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the members of Wooden Shjips released 2006’s “Dance California”/”Clouds Over the Earthquake,” to mark the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which sold enough for the band to break even on their investment, and “Summer of Love 2007,” a single inspired by groups, who worked to make the world the kind of place they wanted to live in, like the Diggers, a local anarchist collective that founded the first Free Store and served free meals in Golden State Park to any and all comers, and the proceeds from the single went to the charitable foundation Food Not Bombs. Adding to a growing profile, the band’s second, real gig found them opening for the psych rock legend Roky Erickson.

The band’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut was recorded in the band’s rehearsal space, using a half-inch eight-track console that Jermier found, making the album a strictly analog affair aimed at getting high-quality and high-fidelity on an extremely low budget. Some tracks were layered-up demos while others were live studio jams with drum parts adding later, since they only had two tracks of the drums and no way to keep instruments from bleeding into each other noisily. But despite — or perhaps because of its DIY fashion, the album was released to critical applause that lead to the “Loose Lips”/”Start to Dreaming” 7 inch released by Sub Pop Records. Since then, the band has released three more full-length albums, 2009’s Dos, 2011’s West, 2013’s Back to Land and two compilations 2008’s Volume 1 and 2010’s Volume 2 — and they’ve managed this while the band’s Johnson has been busy with his acclaimed side project Moon Duo, with Sanae Yamada that has released four full-length albums and one EP.  Interestingly, V, the Bay Area-based psych rock band’s fifth full-length album and first album in over five years, finds the band reportedly expanding upon their sound while lightening the overall vibes, with the material being decidedly laid back, almost summery jams. 

Written last summer, Johnson has publicly said that he has viewed the material as a necessary antidote to the pervasive political anxiety and apocalyptic panic of American life; in fact, as Johnson says in press notes,“We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.” 

V’s first single ““Staring at the Sun” featured a shimmering guitar pop sound with a steady groove reminiscent of Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” and Psychic Ills‘ Inner Journey Out, and “Red Line,” its shoegazer rock meets classic psych rock-inspired follow up single may strike listeners and fans as a bit of return to form, as it features a hypnotic groove — while much like its predecessor, emphasizing slowing, down and pressing the reset button in a world gone absolutely mad. The album’s latest single is the twangy, Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young and Crazy Horse-like “Already Gone” — with a subtle twist to the proceedings, twinkling synths reminiscent of Who Are You-era The Who; but regardless of its influences, it’s the perfect road trip song, as it possesses an overwhelmingly optimistic view, centered on the possibility of new adventures, new friends, of transformation, of being lost and found within the double lines. Unsurprisingly, the recently released video begins with the band’s Johnson getting his bike to ride to the band’s studio space on a glorious day — much like today here in New York — to meet the rest of the band. And of course, they play some hackeysack together — because they’re hippies. But all is right and glorious: bullshitting with your friends and playing music is necessary in a world that’s mad. It’s sometimes the only thing you’ve got. 

New Video: Introducing the Bittersweet and Anthemic Pop of Jack River

Holly Rankin is a Forster, New South Wales, Australia-born, Sydney, Australia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and label head and overall boss, who has received national attention with her solo recording project Jack River. Rankin’s first Jack River single “Fool’s Gold,” amassed over 3 million steams and landed at number 64 on Triple J’s Hottest 100 earlier this year, and has opened for the likes of Midnight Oil. Along with that, she’s the founder of the Electric Lady concert series, which has featured women artists such as Ali Barter, Alex Lahey and Gretta Ray, the founder of the Grown Your Own Music Festival, a community-enhancing music festival and the founder of Hopeless Utopian, a production company and label that houses all of those various projects.

Rankin’s forthcoming album Sugar Mountain is slated for a June 22, 2018 release and the album derives its title after Neil Young’s bittersweet ode to youth and the loss of innocence, and as the up-and-coming Australian singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and mogul says of the album “It’s the souvenir of my youth, the wish of what it could have been.” As for the aforementioned, attention grabbing “Fool’s Gold,” the single is a shimmering and atmospheric track with a soaring and anthemic hook and thumping beats; but underneath the shimmering surface is heartache over a failed relationship in which the song’s narrator recognizes that she was ultimately at fault to some degree. Sometimes, the hardest thing about getting older is accepting when you’ve behaved poorly, foolishly and selfishly and that it can have dramatic, life-altering consequences.

Directed by Matt Sav, the recently released video for “Fool’s Gold” possesses a swooning, dream-like logic that centers over a longing for a failed relationship that the song’s narrator cannot get back.

New Video: The Easy-Going and Soulful 70s AM Rock Sounds of Andy Jenkins

Co-founded by Richmond, VA-based singer/songwriter Matthew E. White back in 2012, Spacebomb Records has quickly become a renowned indie folk label that has released a number of critically applauded albums including White’s own Big Inner, Natalie Prass’ self-titled debut, the work of singer/songwriter Bedouine and others.  Their newest artist Andy Jenkins has toiled behind the scenes of the Spacebomb Records universe for some time, and interestingly enough, Jenkins and White can trace their friendship back to several high school bands they both played in. 

Jenkins’ full-length debut Sweet Bunch is slated for a June 15, 2018 release through Spacebomb, and the album’s latest single, album title track “Sweet Bunch,” which features labelmate Matthew E. White is a down-home folksy take on indie rock centered on twangy and bluesy power chords, a propulsive backbeat, a sinuous bass line that brings Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Allman Brothers and Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere-era Neil Young to mind; but beneath the easy-going, bunch of guys jamming, drinking and maybe smoking a little weed in a room vibe, there’s a thoughtful and deliberate attention to craft that gives the song its soulfulness and purpose. 

New Audio: SVVAMP Returns with a Bluesy Single that Brings Thin Lizzy and Grand Funk Railroad to Mind

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the  Jönköping, Sweden-based trio SVVAMP, and the band which is comprised of longtime friends Adam Johansson,  Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren can trace their origins to a mutually shared love of rock, folk and the blues — and the band since its formation has received praise for a classic rock-inspired, heavy psych sound that has drawn comparisons to Cream, Eric Bell-era Thin Lizzy, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse but with an unpretentious, uncontrived vibe. Or in other words, while clearly drawing from the sounds of the late 60s and early 70s, the Swedish rockers aren’t in it for irony-fueled shits and giggles, there’s real soul and heart in what they do and how they do it. And as a result, the Swedish trio’s self-titled debut landed in the Top 20 Albums of 2016 in the Doom Charts consortium of music journalists, critics and radio stations.

SVVAMP 2, the Swedish trio’s highly-anticipated sophomore, full-length effort is slated for a June 8, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album finds the band making the massive, technological jump from self-recording on a 4-track tape deck to a 6-track tape deck, which allows the band to expand upon their overall sound while improving its fidelity. Interestingly, SVVAMP’s move from 4-track to 6-track recording follows the development of early psych rock bands moving towards increasingly state-of-the-art studio equipment (for their day), going from 4, then 6, then 8 and eventually 16 tracks and onward; however, as the band’s Adam Johansson explains, their sophomore effort finds the band stripping some elements of their sound down with all of the instruments being treated equally. “They all have their place in a song,” he says. “Obvious with 6-tracks now available, we’ve had a bit of fun with that.”

Earlier this year,  I wrote about “Queen,”SVVAMP 2‘s swaggering and self-assured first single, a track that finds the band crafting a sound that sounded as though it could have been released in 1968, thanks in part to its enormous, power chord-based riff, and arena rock friendly hooks that immediately bring Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” The Allman Brothers Band and Neil Young and Crazy Horse to mind but within a rather expansive, jam-like song structure. “Hillside,” the album’s second single may remind some listeners of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen,” with an effortless balance of the cool, self-assuredness of old pros and the immediacy of three musicians with an incredible simpatico, who are honored into the exact same frequency. SVVAMP 2’s latest single “Alligator” is a  full-throttle, swampy and bluesy affair that nods at Thin Lizzy and Grand Funk Railroad.  

New Audio: Sweden’s SVVAMP Returns with a Classic Rock Inspired, Power Chord-based, Arena Rocker

Comprised of three long-time friends, Adam Johansson,  Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren, who all share vocal duties, the Jönköping, Sweden-based trio SVVAMP can trace their origins to a mutual love of rock, folk and blues, and unsurprisingly, the band has received quite a bit of praise for a classic rock-inspired heavy psych rock/rock ‘n’ roll sound that draws Cream, Eric Bell-era Thin Lizzy, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse — but with an unpretentious, genuine and downright uicontrvibed sound and vibe. And as a result, the Swedish trio’s self-titled debut landed in the Top 20 Albums of 2016 in the Doom Charts consortium of music journalists, critics and radio stations.

SVVAMP 2, the Swedish trio’s highly-anticipated sophomore, full-length effort is slated for a June 8, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album finds the band making the massive, technological jump from self-recording on a 4-track tape deck to a 6-track tape deck, which allows the band to expand upon their overall sound while improving its fidelity. Interestingly, SVVAMP’s move from 4-track to 6-track recording follows the development of early psych rock bands moving towards increasingly state-of-the-art studio equipment (for their day), going from 4, then 6, then 8 and eventually 16 tracks and onward; however, as the band’s Adam Johansson explains, their sophomore effort finds the band stripping some elements of their sound down with all of the instruments being treated equally. “They all have their place in a song,” he says. “Obvious with 6-tracks now available, we’ve had a bit of fun with that.”

Now, as you may recall, I wrote about “Queen,”SVVAMP 2’s swaggering and self-assured first single, a track that finds the band crafting a sound that sounded as though it could have been released in 1968, thanks in part to its enormous, power chord-based riff, and arena rock friendly hooks that immediately bring Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” The Allman Brothers Band and Neil Young and Crazy Horse but within a rather expansive, jam-like song structure. “Hillside,” the album’s second single will further the Swedish trio’s growing reputation for crafting 60s and early 70s inspired hard psych and rock — and while the song may remind some listeners of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen,” the song has the band managing to balance the cool, self-assured of old pros, who know what they’re doing and how to go about it, and an immediacy of three musicians in a room, quickly honing in on the same frequency. 

New Audio: The 60s-Inspired Heavy Psych Sounds of Sweden’s SVVAMP

Comprised of three long-time friends, Adam Johansson,  Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren, who all share vocal duties, the Jönköping, Sweden-based trio Svvamp can trace their origins to a mutual love of rock, folk and blues; in fact, the band has received praise for a classic rock-like heavy psych sound that draws influence from Cream, Eric Bell-era Thin Lizzy, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse — but with an unpretentious, genuine and downright uicontrvibed sound and vibe. And as a result, the Swedish trio’s self-titled debut landed in the Top 20 Albums of 2016 in the Doom Charts consortium of music journalists, critics and radio stations.

The Jönköping, Sweden-based trio’s highly anticipated sophomore effort SVVAMP 2 is slated for a June 8, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album finds the band making the massive jump from self-recording on a 4-track tape deck to a comparably expansive 6-track tape deck, allowing the band to expand upon their sound while improving the overall fidelity of their sound. Interestingly enough, there can be a comparison to when many psych rock bands began recording with increasingly state-of-the-art studio equipment (for their day), moving from 4 to 8 and eventually 16 tracks; however, as the band’s Adam Johansson explains, their sophomore effort finds the band stripping some elements of their sound down with all of the instruments being treated equally. “They all have their place in a song,” he says. “Obvious with 6-tracks now available, we’ve had a bit of fun with that.”

“Queen,” Svvamp 2’s swaggering and self-assured first single finds the band crafting a sound that deceptively sounds as though it were released in 1968 or so, thanks to its enormous power chord-based riff, and arena friendly hooks — nodding at Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” The Allman Brothers Band and Neil Young and Crazy Horse within a rather expansive, jam-like song structure while capturing a “you-are-there” immediacy.
 

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 Video: The Lush Swooning and Psychedelic Visuals and Sounds of Jonathan Wilson’s “Loving You”

Jonathan Wilson is a Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who has collaborated with the likes of Father John Misty, Lucius, Karen Elson and Conor Oberst, contributed guitar and vocals as a member of the backing and touring bands for Roger Waters‘ Grammy nominated Is This The Life We Really Want?, and throughout that same period, the highly sought after Wilson has released two albums which have garnered comparisons to the Laurel Canyon troubadours of the 1960s and 1970s — in particular Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Young, Dennis Wilson, Tom Petty and others; however, Wilson’s third and forthcoming album, Rare Birds, which is slated for a March 2, 2018 release through Bella Union Records is reportedly one of the singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s most ambitious, “maximalist” works to date featuring contributions from collaborators Father John Misty and Lucius, as well as Lana Del Rey and New Age musician Laraaji.

While much of the album’s material thematically and lyrically find Wilson meditating on a failed relationship and its aftermath, he has insisted in press notes that it’s not meant to specifically be a concept album. “It’s meant more as a healing affair, a rejuvenation, a reconciliation, for others, and for me. I wanted to balance personal narrative with the need I feel for calming, healing music. I think we need journeys in sound, psychedelic gossamer-winged music, to incite hope, positivity, longing, reckless abandon and regret. It’s all in there.” Late last year, I wrote about the album’s first single “Over The Midnight,” which brought to mind Peter Gabriel 3, Security and So-era Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush and Tears for Fears  while nodding at the lush psych pop of Tame Impala; but the song is underpinned by a swooning Romanticism, as it’s about a sacred and profoundly safe space where lovers could exist and freely be in love, escaping a world on the verge of collapse.

Rare Birds’ latest single “Loving You” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as its a lush yet deeply meditative track with the bittersweet tinge of regret of someone, who’s looking back at a major relationship in his life, and of all the things he felt and believed that he should have or could have done. And as a result, it evokes the lingering ghosts of a man, who’s lived a messy and complicated life. Wilson says in press notes about the song, “One day, one of my musical heros Laraaji came into my studio to just experiment and record some music. I had the ditty ‘Loving You’ lying around, (it was a song I wrote from a feeling or inflection of a word I heard John Lennon emote in one of his songs) and I then put down a simple little drum machine beat along with the piano and vocal that you hear now. Laraaji then beautifully chanted over the song, one take … then he played his cosmic zither, undulated gracefully with his ipad, and truly shaped the scope of the track. I then added a specific drum/cymbal treatment used throughout Rare Birds, my funky Crumar bass, Lana Del Rey, a few other things and boom that was the genesis of the new album Rare Birds, that song set the tone.”

Directed By Matthew Daniel Siskin, the recently released video for “Loving You” will also continue Wilson’s run of pairing trippy and beautiful visuals to lush instrumentation. In this case the video features the renowned New Age multi-instrumentalist Laraaji floating over some gorgeous natural scenery — at points holding an old TV monitor that features a meditative Wilson singing the song. Later on, Wilson’s face and on that old TV monitor is seen in a number of New York locales, including an airport, a train station, a Manhattan intersection and so on. And interestingly, the visuals manage to further emphasize the swooning nature of the song.

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.