Tag: Single Review

Initially formed under the highly controversial name, Viet Cong, the members of the band now known as Preoccupations — Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar) —unknowingly and unwittingly found themselves in the middle of furious and tumultuous debate around cultural association and the association with historical groups and actions that would immediately evoke the horrors of despotism, war and genocide. And as an understandable result of that controversy, the members of the Canadian post-punk act made the difficult decision to change their name before releasing their highly-anticipated sophomore album.

When the members of the band reconvened to write the material that would comprise their self-titled effort as Preoccupations, each individual member of the band was in a rather unsteady and uncertain position: the members of the band had all relocated to different cities across North America, which made their long-established creative process of writing material while on the road extremely difficult. Along with that, as it turned out several members of the band were dealing with the heartache of having long-term relationships end, just as they were set to write. Adding to a growing sense of uncertainty, their sophomore effort found the band going into the writing session without having a central idea or theme to consider or guide them, making the sessions a collective and blind, leap of faith.

The end result was an album that drew from very specific things — the anxiety, despair and regret that has most people up at night. In fact, album singles like  “Anxiety,” focused on the natural and forced change placed upon the members of the band, and more generally on people while simultaneously capturing the confusing push and pull of human relationships, while “Degraded” one the album’s most straightforward and hook-laden songs was full of bilious accusation and recrimination. The album’s expansive, third single “Memory” as comprised of three distinct and very different movements held together by the song’s central narrative, which focused on the weight of one’s memory and the past has on every relationship and aspect of our lives.

Building upon a growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post punk, centered around themes of creation, destruction, futility, the Canadian post-punk band’s third, full-length album New Material is slated for March 23, 2018 release through Jagjaguwar Records, and the album, which finds the band recording the album themselves and enlisting the assistance of Justin Meldal-Johnson on mixing duties is as the band’s frontman Matt Flegel says in press notes, “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.” Much like their previous album, the band went into the process without much written or demoed — and it was arguably the most collaborative writing sessions that they’ve ever had. While, writing New Material may have been extremely architectural with the band building ideas up, tearing others down to the support beams without quite knowing what exactly they were about, and as they were writing they had resolved for it all to show, not tell.

But reportedly, the writing and recording sessions led to a reckoning for Flegel.  “Finishing ‘Espionage’ was when I realized. I looked at the rest of the lyrics and realized the magnitude of what was wrong,” says Flegel. To that end, it’s interesting that “Espionage,” the murky and angular Manchester/Joy Division-like single is the first single off New Material — and in some way, the song evokes a narrator, who has finally become aware of his disturbing penchant for self-sabotage in every aspect of his life but despite the dark theme of the song, it finds the members of the JOVM mainstays crafting some of the most infectious, danceable material they’ve written to date.

Preoccupations will be embarking on a lengthy tour to support the album that begins in Toronto and includes two NYC area dates — April 19, 2018 at Rough Trade with Freak Heat Waves as an opener and April 20, 2018 at Elsewhere’s Zone One with Odonis Odonis as an opener. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

 

TOUR DATES
4/14/18 Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
4/18/18 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
4/19/18  Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade *
4/20/18 Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere (Zone One) ^
4/23/18  Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts *
4/24/18  Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel *
4/26/18  Columbus, OH @ The A&R Music Bar *
4/27/18  Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle *
4/29/18  Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry *
5/1/18  Winnipeg, MB @ Pyramid Cabaret *
5/3/18  Edmonton, AB @ Starlite *
5/4/18  Calgary, AB @ Palomino *
5/5/18  Calgary, AB @ Palomino
5/9/18  Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt
5/11/18 Seattle, WA @ Barboza #
5/12/18  Portland, OR @ Star Theater #
5/14/18  San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop #
5/18/18  Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo #
5/19/18  Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar #
5/22/18 Austin, TX @ Barracuda
5/23/18  Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
5/24/18  St. Louis, MO @ Firebird
6/5/18 London, UK @ London Underground
6/7 Berlin, D @ Musik & Frieden
6/10/18 Hilvarenbeek, NL @ Best Kept Secret Festival
6/11/18 Paris, France @ Maroquinerie
6/12/18 Ramsgate, UK @ RMH
6/13/18 Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
7/3/18 Amsterdam @ Sugarfactory
7/4/18 Hamburg @Molotow
^ w/ Odonis Odonis
* w/ Freak Heat Waves
# w/ Moaning

 

With the release of their first two EP’s 2016’s Sorry I Messed Up and Please Call Me Back, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based indie rock quartet Holy Now, comprised of Julia Olander, Ylva Holmdahl, Samuel von Bahr Jemth and Hampus Eiderström Swahn quickly developed a reputation as one of their homeland’s up-and-coming indie rock/guitar pop acts — and with tours across Sweden and in London, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based quartet received praise from the likes of DIY, The 405Festivalrykten and Nöjesguiden, and others.

Building upon their growing national and international profile, “Feel It All,” will further cement Holy Now’s reputation for crafting jangling guitar pop with soaring hooks paired with plaintive and tender vocals and while clearly drawing from 80s and 90s guitar pop, like The Sundays and others, the Swedish quartet puts a subtly modern spin on it, along the lines of the likes of La Sera and others — complete with a deep yearning to feel and know everything.

 

 

The late bluesman Roscoe Chenier was born in the tiny town of Notleyville, LA. And although his sharecropper family were extremely poor, Chenier grew up within a deeply musical family. Although he was related to zydeco legend Clifton Chewier and bluesman Morris “Big” Chenier, his father, Arthur “Bud” Chenier, a cajun accordionist, who was frequently accompanied by his first cousin, fiddler John Stevens (the father of Duke Stevens) was the Roscoe Chenier’s bigger influence; in fact, Bud Chenier and John Stevens were best known for playing at popular weekend house parties, where Roscoe would soak up the music.

In 1958, Roscoe Chenier was invited to join one of the region’s hottest traveling bands in the region — CD and the Blue Runners, which featured Lonesome Sundown on lead guitar and three of the Gradnier brothers on harmonica, drums and bass. Chenier played with CD and the Blue Runners until 1970, finding enough work to survive as a bluesman despite the popularity of the British Invasion acts of the 1960s. However, as tastes changed, Chenier like a lot of the great old bluesman discovered, it was difficult to eke out a living — especially when some gigs paid maybe $6 per man per night. And throughout the better part of the 70s, Chenier began a succession of jobs as a truck driver while picking up the occasional hired gun gig, playing in the backing bands of Good Rockin’ Thomas, Good Rockin’ Bob, his old bandmate Lonesome Sundown, Clarence Randle and Duke Stevens.

By 1980, Chenier was leading his own band and through a combination of reputation, luck and skill, he was able to recruit a number of talented musicians while desperately trying to remain as financial independent as possible, which by the late 90s became increasingly difficult. And yet, Chenier and his band managed to play several of Europe’s most prestigious festivals including Blues Estafette (in 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2001), North Sea Jazz Festival, toured across Europe several times and released a few albums before his death in February 2013 including 1998’s Roscoe Style and 2006’s Waiting For My Tomorrow. Roscoe Chenier’s last record, featured a haunting and folksy, acapella rendition of the old gospel standby “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” that immediately brings the early Delta Blues to mind — in particular, Son House, Lightnin’ Hopkins, early Muddy Waters and the like.

Interestingly, ElectroBluesSociety, a Dutch blues act, comprised of Japser Mortier (drums, bass) and Jan Mittendorp (guitar, production), who worked with Roscoe Grenier on several releases and several European tours decided to pay tribute to their late friend by adding a spectral and moody arrangement Chenier’s vocal that’s appropriately bluesy yet subtly modern, while retaining the timeless vibe of the original vocal take.

 

 

New Audio: Los Angeles’ VOWWS Releases an Anthemic Hook-Laden Single

With the release of 2015’s debut effort, The Great Sun, which was recorded with longtime friend, mentor and renowned engineer Kevin S. McMahon, the post-punk duo VOWWS, comprised of Sydney, Australia-born, Los Angeles-based duo of Rizz and Matt quickly received attention for a sound that drew upon a diverse array of influences including classic Western, electronica, surf rock, metal, film soundtracks, post-punk and industrial rock; however, the duo’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort, Under the World, which continues their ongoing collaboration with Kevin S. McMahon, finds the duo reportedly eschewing the familiar post-punk and industrial tropes to allow much more hook for razor sharp hooks, direct vocals and richer, nuanced textures.

And with Under the World’s latest single “Forget Your Finery,” the duo pair angular guitar and bass chords played through layers of fuzz and other distortion pedals with thumping and propulsive drumming — but throughout the song there’s a deliberate attention to melodicism and crafting an infectious, arena rock friendly hook in what may be one of the more anthemic songs I’ve come across so far this year.

New Audio: Up-and-Coming Portland, OR-based Act Blackwater Holylight Specializes in a 120 Minutes-era Alt Rock Sound

Comprised of founding member, Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass), Laura Hopkins (guitar, vocals), Cat Hoch (drums) and Sarah McKenna (synth), the Portland, OR-based rock act Blackwater Holylight began as an experiment of what Faris’ own version of what should feel heavy both sonically and emotionally. “I also wanted a band in which vulnerability of any form could be celebrated.” But interestingly, as Faris explains in press notes, her current band can trace its origins to when Faris’ longtime band split up. “In my last band, I was the only female in a group of 6, so I wanted to see how my songwriting and vulnerability could glow taking the drivers seat and working with women.” 

As you’ll hear on “Sunrise,” off the band’s self-titled debut effort, the band’s sound meshes elements of Breeders-era alt rock and garage, swirling and towering shoegaze, psych rock and moody post punk with soaring hooks — and although the song manages to be reminiscent  of classic, 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock, the song structurally walks a tightrope between moody, slow-burning dirge, anthemic power pop within a fluid song structure that eschews the familiar verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus of the past. 

New Audio: JOVM Sylvan Esso Return with a Sinuous and Propulsive Dance Floor Friendly Single

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few years, you’ve come across a handful of posts featuring JOVM mainstays and blogosphere darlings Sylvan Esso. And as you may recall, the duo of Mountain Man’s Amelia Heath (vocals, synths)  and Megafaun’s Nick Sanborn (synths, programming, production) have received attention for  a slick, minimalist yet propulsive and thumping pop sound that’s a radical departure from the duo’s previous, individual projects.

Continuing their ongoing run of critically applauded and commercially successful releases, the duo’s Grammy-nominated, sophomore effort What Now featured the duo crafting material that inched towards a self-assured and coquettish, dance floor and radio friendly sound as you would have heard on album singles like “Radio,” “Jump Kick Start,” and “Die Young.” Thematically, the material on What Now focused on a critical and deeply sobering question” where we do go now as a culture, when it feels as though everyone and everything is standing at a precipice?  And as result, What Now’s material was imbued with the urgency of our contemporary political moment. 

“PARAD(w/m)e,” the duo’s first single of 2018 — and the follow up to their critically and commercially successful sophomore effort, will further cement their reputation for coquettish yet forward looking electro pop as Heath’s come hither cooing is paired with a slick and glittering production featuring shimmering arpeggiated synths, hand clap-led percussion, thumping beats and a sinuous hook.  And while sonically being upbeat, lyrically the song continues in a similar vein as their sophomore effort, as it manages to be deceptively ambivalent — is a celebration of love or a celebration of survival at all costs? Considering the contemporary political moment, perhaps ambivalence at all things is par for the course. 

Rayvon Owen is a Richmond, VA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, who can trace the origins of his musical career to when he was a child; in fact, at a very young age, Owen sang in church choirs, toured with gospel musicians and performed in local musicals. Influenced byLionel Richie, (who has become Owen’s mentor) John Legend, Katy Perry, and Stevie Wonder, Owen has developed a reputation for being a introspective songwriter with an expressive and easy-going soulful vocal style. After studying at Belmont University. the Richmond, VA-born singer/songwriter spent time in Nashville, TN, where he spent his time writing and and performing with local musicians at a number of local events and showcase before relocating to Southern California, where he eventually wrote and recorded his debut EP  Cycles which featured his standout hit “Sweatshirt.”

However, Owen found national attention when he appeared on American Idols 14th season in which he was a “Twitter Save” champion and Top 4 finalist. And although, it’s been a while since I’ve personally written about him, his single “Can’t Fight It,” which was released on Valentine’s Day, featured visuals in which the singer/songwriter publicly came out as gay. As Owen say in press notes, “I was working on “Can’t Fight It”, and one of my close friends passed away. He was struggling with who he was and what he wanted to do, and never really accepted himself. And I really was thinking like- what legacy will I leave- is it going to be my authentic self?”

Interestingly, “Gold,” Owen’s latest single continues in a similar vein, as it’s a shimmering and anthemic club banger with a swooning and anthemic hook that captures the giddy sensation of finally finding the love you’ve been seeking for so long while simultaneously being a contented, celebratory “hell yes! this right here!”  As Owen told Billboard, “I wrote the song with my buddy Nate Merchant, who I worked with on “Can’t Fight It.” That day, we were feeling good. There was a good energy in the room. Whenever I write, it’s a stamp in time that captures the emotion of what I’m feeling that day. We were talking about coming out to L.A. and being out in the industry and how stressful that can be. He was kind of diggin’ someone, I had just started dating my boyfriend and exploring being a gay man — I’ve never felt that emotion before, being with someone like that. I’m getting chills right now just thinking about it. It’s been a long time coming for me to feel that. I know there’s so many other people who don’t get to feel that, but I’m hoping that they do when they come to terms with who they are.

So that fueled us, and I just wanted to say, “Hey, you got me feeling good as gold.” What better feeling do you have? Falling in love is such a beautiful thing. I love singing about love in general — the good and the bad — I write sad songs too, which will be on the future project too. You’ll kind of see the whole gamut. But in that moment, we were feeling good and thankful.”

Fronted by 23 year-old Jacob Duarte, the Houston, TX-based indie rock trio Narrow Head has quickly developed a reputation for a sound that draws from 120 Minutes-era alternative rock, as it simultaneously possesses elements of grunge and shoegaze — and considering that the band suggests acts like Hum, Deftones, Failure, Swirlies and My Bloody Valentine as influences, that shouldn’t be surprising.

Recorded at the end of last year, during recording sessions intended for their next full-length album, the Houston-based trio’s latest single “Bulma” will further cement the trio’s reputation for a decidedly 1990s sound, as they firmly add their names to a growing list of contemporary bands, who have brought back a familiar and beloved sound with a subtly modern twist, like Dead Stars and others.

The band is currently on a West Coast tour. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

Jan 13 – Fullerton, CA @ Programme
Jan 14 – Oakland, CA @ tba
Jan 15 – San Francisco, CA @ tba
Jan 16 – Eugene, OR @ Voodoo Donuts
Jan 17 – Portland, OR @ Blackwater
Jan 18 – Olympia, WA @ tba
Jan 19 – Seattle, WA @ Black Lodge
Jan 20 – Vancouver, BC @ Subculture Club

Over the past couple of years of this site’s history, I’ve written a bit about the Brooklyn-based psych rock/indie rock trio  Sunflower Bean. Comprised of founding duo Nick Kivlen (guitar, vocals) and Jacob Faber (drums) with Julia Cumming (bass, lead vocals), the band can trace their origins back to when Kivlen and Faber were members of local indie rock act Turnip King together — and at the time, Kivlen and Faber had been spending a great deal of their time away from the band jamming together, before deciding that they should start their own project. Cumming, who was then a member of Supercute! with Rachel Trachtenburg, was recruited by Kivlen, who had known her through mutual friends.

The band quickly became a buzz-worthy act with a run of attention grabbing, critically applauded sets during 2014’s CMJ Festival, which they promptly followed with a series of shows across town; but with the release of that year’s Rock & Roll Heathen EP and 2015’s Show Me Your Seven Secrets EP, which featured singles “Tame Impala” and “2013.” the band quickly rose to national and international prominence. Adding to a growing profile, the Brooklyn-based psych rock trio toured across the US and the UK both as a headliner and as an opener for  Wolf AliceBest Coast and The Vaccines. Sunflower Bean completed a breakthrough run with the release of their  Matthew Molnar-produced debut effort Human Ceremony, which was released to critical praise back in 2016.

After spending the better part of 2016 with a roughly 200 date world tour, the members of the band initially planned to take a well-earned, extended break; however by mid-December. the trio were in Faber’s Long Island basement with song ideas that eventually became their highly-anticipated Jacob Portrait and Matt Molnar-produced  sophomore effort, Twentytwo in Blue, which is slated for a March 23, 2018 release through Mom + Pop Records, which is both 22 months after the release of their full-length debut — and coincidentally, when each member turns 22.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout 2017, you may have come across the trio’s single “I Was A Fool,” a single that you may recall found the trio closely hewing to the late 60s psych rock and 70s classic rock that has long inspired their sound and aesthetic, but while gently pushing their sound in the direction of Fleetwood Mac. and others.  As the band’s Nick Kivlen explained in press notes at the time, “‘I Was A Fool’ is one of those songs that seemingly crept up from nowhere and into our practice space. it was a special moment between the three of us, Julia and I both improvised the lyrics. It feels far longer but it’s been nearly two years since ‘we’ve put new music into the world. I think this song is a good example of how we’ve grown as a band, while still staying true to the band that first played together back in high school.”

Interestingly, “Crisis Fest,” Twentytwo in Blue‘s first official single from the album finds the band tackling much more sobering topics with song directly discussing the uncertainty and politically volatile period in which it was written. “While writing this album, we often reflected back on the people we met while on tour. We felt a strong kinship with the audiences that came to see us all over the country, and we wanted to write a song for them — something to capture the anxieties of an uncertain future. ‘Crisis Fest’ is less about politics and more about the power of us, the young people in this country.” And as a result, the song which sonically finds the band touching upon glam rock — in particular, to my ears, a bit of Bay City Rollers‘ “Saturday Night” mixed with Ace Frehley’sBack in the New York Groove” as it’s an rousingly anthemic stomper of song, that’s indirectly a call to action that suggests that now it’s the time for young people to start getting the world right — or we won’t have a chance.

The members of the band will be embarking on a lengthy tour to support the album that includes a February 13, 2018 stop at Brooklyn Steel. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

Tour dates

1/26 – Philadelphia, PA @ Everybody Hits
1/31 – Chicago, IL @ Metro ^
2/01 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement East ^
2/03 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk ^
2/05 – San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger ^
2/06 – Dallas, TX @ Granada ^
2/07 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall (Inside Downstairs) ^
2/09 – New Orleans, LA @ Republic New Orleans ^
2/10 – Athens, GA  @ 40 Watt ^
2/11 – Raleigh, NC @ Lincoln Theatre ^

2/13 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel ^
2/14 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club ^

2/22 – London, UK @ The Jazz Cafe @
3/01 – Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan Lounge
3/02 – San Francisco, CA @  Rickshaw Stop

3/24 – Nottingham, UK @ Rescue Rooms

3/26 – Norwich, UK @ Open Norwich

3/27 – Birmingham, UK @ Hare and Hounds

3/28 – Newcastle upon Tyne, UK @ Riverside

3/29 – Leeds, UK @ Wardrobe

3/30 – Manchester, UK @ Gorilla

3/31 – Liverpool, UK @ The Magnet

4/01 – Glasgow, UK @ Stereo

4/03 – Bristol, UK @ Thekla

4/05 – Brighton, UK @ Concorde 2

4/06 – London, UK @ Koko

4/09 – Paris, FR @ Point Ephemere

4/10 – Antwerp, Belgium @ TRIX VZW

4/11 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso

4/12 – Hamburg, Germany @ Molotow

4/13 – Copenhagen, Denmark @ Loppen

4/14 – Berlin, Germany @ Rosis

4/15 – Vienna, Austria @ Chelsea Club

4/17 – Lausanne, Switzerland @ Le Romandie

4/18 – Zurich, Switzerland @ Bogen F

4/19 – Cologne, Germany @ Blue Shell

5/20 – Gulf Shores, AL @ The Hangout Music Festival
^ – w/ Sleigh Bells

@ – supporting Jessie Ware

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.