Tag: Sting

New Audio: Foo Fighters Release a Socially Conscious Anthem

Early last year, Foo Fighters — Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, and Rami Jaffee — finished work on what would eventually become their tenth full-length album, the Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters co-produced Medicine at Midnight. At the time, Grohl and company intended for the album’s release to coincide with a massive world tour that the applauded act was about to embark on to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. But like countless other acts around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a monkey wrench into their plans.

Because of the uncertainty of the situation, the members of the band waited for a while, trying to figure out what their next steps were, but eventually they all came to the realization that music is meant to be heard, no matter“whether it’s in a festival field with 50,000 of our coolest friends or alone in your living room or on a Saturday night with a stiff cocktail,” the band’s Dave Grohl wrote in an letter accompanying press notes.

Now, as you may recall, Foo Fighters’ tenth album Medicine at Midnight is slated for a February 5, 2021 release through Roswell Records/RCA Records — and they managed to start off the New Year with the enormous arena rock friendly ripper “No Son of Mine,” a track that nods at Ace of Spades-era Mötorhead, Kill ’em All-era Metallica and Queen‘s “Stone Cold Crazy, complete with anthemic, raise-your-beer-in-the-air and shout along worthy hooks.

Medicine at Midnight’s third and latest single “Waiting On A War” continues a remarkable run of arena rock anthems — but in this case, the new single manages to pull from several different Foo Fighters eras — The Colour and the Shape, There Is Nothing Left to Lose and One By One in particular come to mind as a result of its song structure: Beginning with acoustic guitar and string arrangement driven verses and an enormous, rousingly anthemic hook, the song slowly builds up in intensity until the 3:15 mark or so, when the song turns into a cathartic explosion of power chords and thunderous drumming. Lyrically, the song manages to recall ’80s anthems like Nena’s “99 Luftballons,” Sting’s “Russians” and others, and it seems to suggest, much like the old saying, “the more things change, the more things remain the same.” Decades have changed, and we still seem to be on brink of our own annihilation . . .

Interestingly, as Dave Grohl explains in press notes, the song is inspired by personal events — and may be among the more personal songs in the band’s extensive catalog:

“Last fall, as I was driving my daughter to school, she turned to me and asked, ‘Daddy, is there going to be a war?’ My heart sank as I realized that she was now living under the same dark cloud that I had felt 40 years ago,” Grohl recalls.

I wrote ‘Waiting on a War’ that day.

Everyday waiting for the sky to fall. Is there more to this than that? Is there more to this than just waiting on a war? Because I need more. We all do.

This song was written for my daughter, Harper, who deserves a future, just as every child does. “

New Audio: Italian Act The Apex Releases an Expansive, Prog Rock Take on Jazz Fusion

With the release of last year’s debut EP Here Comes The Apex, the Rome-based jazz rock/jazz fusion trio The Apex — Francesco Carrreti (guitar, production). Francesco Ferilli (bass) and Danilo Ombres (drums) — quickly established a songwriting approach and sound inspired by Weather Report, Miles Davis, Robert Glasper, Squarepusher, Snarky Puppy and others.

While supporting their EP with live shows in and around Rome, the act spent the next year writing and working on the compositions that would eventually comprise their forthcoming full-length debut, Kick Me with arranger/producer Toni Armetta. The album’s latest single, the eponymously titled “The Apex” features guest spots from Javier Girotto (sax) and Banco del Mutuo Socorso’s Gianni Nocenzi. Interestingly enough, the expansive composition sonically — to my ears, at least — reminds me of a slick yet soulful synthesis of Nothing Like the Sun-era Sting, Return to Forever/the aforementioned Weather Report with a subtly prog bent.

New Video: Rising Afro Pop Artist Poundo Releases a Swaggering, Global Club Banger

Poundo Gomis is an emerging Guinea-Bissauan-French singer/songwriter, dancer, writer producer, , blogger and fashionista who currently splits her time between her hometown of Paris and New York, who performs under the mononymic moniker Poundo. Exposed to and influenced by the best of Africa and the West, Gomis immersed herself in the performing arts as a dancer and vocalist — and in fashion.

Over the past few years, Gomis has been incredibly busy. She has worked with some of the world’s top directors and choreographers — including Opéra de Paris’ Marie-Claude Pietragalia, Jérôme Savary, Georges Momboye, and Anne Fontaine. She was a featured danced in the Broadway musical Fela! — and since then, she has worked with Alicia Keys, Bill T. Jones, Spike Lee, The Roots and Cirque du Soleil, Aya Nakamura, Gims, Dadju, Vitaa, Amir, Hyphen Hyphen, Sting and a growing list of others.

As a recording artist Gomis has crafted a global, genre-defying take on pop music. Drawing from trap. pop, hip-hop and Mandingue music, the Paris-born artist’s work draws from her own personal experiences paired with political statements — while being accessible and club friendly. Slated for a November 27, 2020 release, the Guinea-Bissauan-French artist’s debut EP features a collection of touch upon her love of fantasy while bravely exploring her vulnerability.

The rising Guinea-Bissauan-French artist’s latest single “O Wassa Waru,” which means “A Beautiful Soul” in Mandjak is a slickly produced, club banger with a cinematic quality. Centered around looping twinkling kora lines. African polyrhythm, staccato handclaps, stuttering trap beats, staccato handclaps, wobbling low end and an infectious hook paired with Gomis’ self-assured delivery in English and Mandjak. Switching between swaggering rhymed versions and sultrily sung vocals, the track suggests that Gomis may have been influenced by Lauryn Hill and others — but with a brash, global bent and a righteous message. “It’s an ode for girls and women,” Gomis says. “I wrote and produced the track between New York, Paris and Conakry. I sing in English and Mandjak because I couldn’t do it a different way. 🙂 I grew up speaking Mandjak, French, Wolof and later learned English & Spanish at school. That’s why this song shows how international I am.”

Directed by LDITCH, the recently released video for “O Wassa Waru” is a gorgeous and cinematically shot visual featuring some serious black girl magic: beautiful and talented black women being badass in equally gorgeous settings,

Individually Norwegian-born and-based trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær and French-born, Brooklyn-based percussionist Mino Cinelu have had accomplished careers: Cinelu first gained attention playing on Miles Davis‘ We Want Miles and Amandla, which has landed him gigs playing with Weather Report, Gong, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Sting, Santana, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and a eclectic and lengthy list of internationally acclaimed artists. The French percussionist has also released three solo albums and has collaborated with Dave Holland and Kevin Eubanks on World Trio. With 1997’s Khmer released through ECM Records, Nils Petter Molvær quickly established his unique sound and aesthetic — one which combines the Nordic feeling of nature with Southeast Asian sound philosophies. But since then, Molvær’s work has found him pushing his sound deeper into uncharted areas, while exploring various combinations of acoustic and electronic sounds. His work has allowed him to collaborate with German electronic producer Moritz von Oswald in 2013 with reggae artists Sly and Robbie in 2018 and with Bill Laswell on several occasions.

Slated for a September 4, 2020 release through BMG’s Modern Recordings, Cinelu and Molvær’s collaboration together SulaMadiana can trace its origins back to 2015 when the duo first met at a solo Molvær played in Turkey. Quickly agreeing to embark on a joint project together, it took several more meetings in different parts of the world and a handful of years before they were able to get together for a studio session in Oslo. Early this year, the recordings were rounded off in Cinelu’s Brooklyn studio with post-production completed as a remote, Transatlantic endeavor as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns. Speaking about the process, Cinelu says “The best way to start something is to start it. So I said: ‘let’s get started’. Nils brought a groove along which I liked, we enriched it with sounds and other grooves, wanted to find a melody, and it just made ‘Bang’. It was a real trip. A lot of blood, sweat and tears, but even more love.”

Sonically speaking both artists’ work represents two completely different worlds — Molvær’s work evokes the boreal cold of his homeland while Cinelu’s work evokes the rhythms and heat of Latin America and Africa. The album, which derives its name as a tribute to both artists’ heritage — Sula is the Norwegian island where Molvær grew up and Madiana is a loving nickname for the island of Martinique, where Cinleu’s father was born. The album’s material finds the duo finding a common sonic playground initially inspired by their previous work — but while pushing each other and their sound together into completely new territories: the album’s material finds Cinelu taking up vocal duties while Molvær plays acoustic, electric guitar and various other electronics. Of course for this to work, the interplay between the musicians is key. “We are different, but what we have in common is that we like to give some space to things,” Molvær says. Cinelu adds: “It doesn’t matter who has what share in music. We both know each other’s cultures, we find bridges and crossings, and often we walk these paths that lead in the same direction. We wrote everything together and followed our feelings. There are no limits or barriers.”

The album’s first single, album title track “SulaMadiana (For Manu Dibango)” is an ethereal yet funky tribute to Cinelu’s mentor Manu Dibango, centered around a propulsive acoustic guitar line, pedal effected trumpet, shimmering electric guitar soloing, atmospheric electronics, Afro-Latin percussion and Cinelu’s dreamy vocals. The end result is an adventurous and loving Vulcan mind-meld in which a wintry breeze blows through the propulsive funk in a way that evokes late summer.

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Balthazar Releases a Shimmering R&B Inspired Single

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a lot about Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Maarten Devoldere, best known for being the frontman of two critically applauded, internationally recognized JOVM mainstays Balthazar and Warhaus. Interestingly, Devoldere’s work with Warhaus managed to recall The Church, The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun era Sting, Edith Piaf, and Leonard Cohen.  

While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a remote retreat in Kyrgyzstan, his longtime friend, songwriting partner and Balthazar bandmate Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, focusing on his old school R&B inspired solo project J. Bernardt. During Balthazar’s hiatus, the band’s songwriting duo enjoyed the ability to indulge their individual whims and creative muses, crafting commercially successful and critically applauded work — and Deprez and Devoldere found it liberating. Interestingly enough, the duo found that the time apart created an undeniable urge to work together again, propelled by a much broader artistic horizon and an even greater mutual respect for each other’s individual work. 

When the members of Balthazar reconvened to work on last year’s Fever, they did so without any particular plan beyond just desiring to improve upon their previously released work and to further the band’s story. And as they were beginning to write material, Deprez and Devoldere mutually agreed that the album’s material should have a less serious, less melancholy feel — and while being looser and more playful at points, it retains the hook-driven quality and craftsmanship that has helped the band win national and international attention. 

Last year saw the band on a relentless touring schedule to support Fever that included — as you may recall — a stop at Baby’s All Right in May. During that tour, the band wrote their latest single “Halfway.” Possibly deriving its title because it falls between the release of Fever and its highly anticipated follow-up, the song finds the band continuing the flexible songwriting of its immediate predecessor: co-written by Devoldere and Deprez, the song features Deprez taking on vocal duties, which give the song a sultry, old-school R&B feel centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive percussion, some gorgeous harmonizing and an infectious hook. Interestingly, the track finds the band continuing in the vein of Fever while expanding upon it, revealing an adventurous and ambitious band pushing their sound and approach in a new direction with a pop-leaning accessibility. 

With “Hedonistic Dread,” which has received over 50,000 Spotify streams since its release, the Chicago-based act Bum Chic has began to receive some attention nationally. Building on that momentum, the act’s latest single, the Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun-era Sting and Roxy Music-like “Late Last Night” further cements their jazz-tinged sound, as the song is centered around expressive sax soloing, driving drums, atmospheric synths, a sinuous hook and plaintive vocals. Adding to the overall bluesy, late night feel the song thematically touches upon excess, nostalgia, stress and chasing a lost sense of fulfillment in an empty and materialistic world.

 

 

New Audio: the bird and the bee’s Jazz-like Take on Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher”

Last month, I wrote about the Los Angeles-based indie pop act the bird and the bee — singer/songwriter Inara George and seven time Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin, who has worked with the likes of Sia, Adele, Beck, Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney — and as you may recall, the act can trace their origins to when the duo met while working on George’s 2005 solo debut All Rise. Bonding over a mutual love of 80s pop and rock, the duo decided to continue to work together in a jazz-influenced electro pop project.

The Los Angeles indie pop duo’s debut EP Again and Again and Again and Again was released in late 2006. They quickly followed that up with their self-titled full-length debut in early 2007 — and with their earliest releases George and Kurstin quickly developed a reputation for bringing a breezy elegance to their work, which finds them putting their own idiosyncratic twist on time-bending indie pop.

Although serving as the long-awaited follow up to 2015’s Recreational Love, the bird and the bee’s fifth album, Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen actually closely follows 2010’s critically applauded Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Hall & Oates. And while Van Halen‘s most anthemic and beloved work may initially seem like an unlikely vessel for the Los Angeles-based duo’s sound and approach, George and Kurstin are both lifelong fans of David Lee Roth-era Van Halen. Back in 2007, George caught her first-ever Van Halen show — and it was the first tour to feature David Lee Roth as the band’s frontman since 1985. George was so charmed by Roth’s presence, that after that show, she approached Kurstin about writing a song for Roth. The end result was the swooning serenade “Diamond Dave,” which appeared on their 2008 sophomore album Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future. “We asked him to be in the video, but instead he signed a picture and gave me the yellow top hat he’d worn at the show I saw, which I thought was very sweet,” George says in press notes. “When we were trying to figure out who to cover for the second volume of Interpreting the Masters, we were both a little bit like, ‘Oh my god, can we really do it?’ But then we just went for it.”

Slated for an August 2, 2019 release through No Expectations/Release Me Records, the duo’s fifth album features an impressive backing band of guest musicians including Justin Meldal Johnsen (bass), who has worked with Beck and Nine Inch Nails; Joey Waronker (drums), who has worked with R.E.M and Elliott Smith; and Omar Hakim (drums), who has worked with the David Bowieand Miles Davis assisting the duo in making familiar David Lee Roth-era Van Halen anthems completely their own, imbuing even the most over-the-top tracks with a slinky intimacy.

Interestingly, for Kurstin, an accomplished jazz pianist, who once studied with Jaki Byard, a pianist that once played in Charles Mingus‘ band, one of the greatest challenges he had translating Eddie Van Halen’s virtuoso guitar work into piano arrangements that kept some of the spirit and vibe of the original. “I know there’s a jazz influence with the Van Halen brothers, so I tried to channel some of the things that I felt might’ve influenced Eddie,” Kurstin notes. “In a way ‘Eruption’ is almost like a piece of classical music, so I mostly treated it that way as I interpreted it for piano,” he adds, referring to the iconic instrumental guitar solo from Van Halen’s self-titled debut. 

While creating arrangements around Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work will reveal the duo’s ingenuity and playfulness as interpreters and arrangers paired with a deeply nuanced reading of the material, which is influenced by their deep and profound emotional connection to the band.“I remember being 10-years-old and seeing their videos and feeling both excited and totally terrified—I responded to them in this very visceral way,” George says in press notes. Kurstin, who also is a lifelong fan, actually got a chance to work with Eddie Van Halen in the early 80s when the Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist was a 12 year-old member of Dweezil Zappa’s band. “I got to hang out with him in the studio and go backstage when Van Halen played The Forum, which was a really big moment for my younger self,” Kurstin recalls.

The album’s two singles found the members of the bird and the bee taking on Van Halen’s “Panama” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” The duo turned “Panama” from a power chord-based arena rock anthem into a sultry club banger, centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, bright blasts of twinkling piano and cowbell, a wobbling Bootsy Collins-like bass line and George’s sensual vocal delivery. Their cover of”Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” was a slinky and shimmering New Wave-like take that recalled New Order and It’s Blitz-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs while imbued with a feverish quality.  The album’s third latest single finds the band taking on “Hot For Teacher,” the last official single that band released with their original lineup.  Featuring drummer Omar Hakim, who has worked with David Bowie, Sting, Daft Punk, Weather Report, Madonna, Kate Bush and others and a spoken word cameo from Beck, the bird and the bee deliver a swinging bop jazz-inspired take that actually pulls, tugs and teases out the jazziness of the original — particularly within Eddie Van Halen’s dexterous guitar solo-ing. Interestingly, much like Easy Star All-Stars take on Dark Side of the Moon, the bird and the bee version of “Hot For Teacher” isn’t a purely straightforward cover — rather, it’s a subtle and mischievous modernization that retains the spirit and intent of the song in a thoughtful and loving way. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Balthazar Return with a Deceptively Straightforward Rocker

Over the past handful of years, I’ve written quite a bit about Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Maarten Devoldere, best known as the frontman of two critically applauded, internationally recognized acts and JOVM mainstays Balthazar and Warhaus, which was a side project conceived during a lengthy hiatus. Interestingly, Devoldere’s work with Balthazar was a sonic departure, as the project’s sound could be described as atmospheric, jazz-inspired art rock that may remind some listeners of The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, and Leonard Cohen — paired with Devoldere’s urbane, decadent, novelistic lyrics.

While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a remote retreat in Kyrgyzstan, his longtime friend, songwriting partner and Balthazar bandmate Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, holing himself in the studio, where he indulged his love of old-school R&B, eventually releasing a solo album as J. Bernardt. And during their primary gig’s hiatus, Devoldere and Deprez enjoyed the ability to indulge their whims and follow their individual creative muses — while individually receiving commercial and critical success to be liberating. The duo also found that the time apart created an undeniable urge to work together again, propelled by a broader artistic horizon and their mutual respect for each other’s work. 

So when the members of Balthazar reconvened, they did so without any particular plan, just a desire to improve upon their previously released work and to further the band’s story.  As they were beginning to write material, Devoldere and Deprez agreed that their new material should have an overall less serious, less melancholy feel while leaning towards a looser, refreshed sound that retained the hook driven quality that won the band national and international attention. “Fever,” the first single and album title track off the band’s recently released Fever was inky and sultry track, centered around a strutting bass riff, stomping percussion, a swooping string motif, a sinuous hook, a twinkling bridge and Devoldere’s plaintive baritone to create a song that was playful and infectious.  “Entertainment,” the album’s second single continued in a similar vein as its predecessor but was centered around a swaggering and strutting vibe and an anthemic hook. Sonically, the Jinte Deprez-led song nodded at The Rolling Stones‘ “Sympathy for the Devil, but with some Afro pop-like polyrhythmic percussion. “I’m Never Gonna Let You Down Again,” the album’s third single was a slow-burning, Jinte Deprez led Quiet Storm-like jam that reminded me of Milagres’ “IDNYL” and classic Hall and Oates. As Deprez explained in press notes, “I’m Never Gonna Let You Down Again’ is a breakup song with a twist, a groovy soul ode with a synthesizer, a chorus with a Bee Gee touch. It’s shaking it off, wherever it stuck.”

“Wrong Vibration,” Fever’s fourth and latest single is a Maarten Devoldere song is a  superficially a sultry come-on that slowly reveals frustration and confusion over mixed signals. Much like its predecessors, the song is centered by an infectious and breezy hook, a sinuous yet propulsive bass line while being arguably one of the more straightforward rockers on the album. 

Directed by Benny Vandendriessche, the recently released video for “Wrong Vibration” features the band’s creative duo in a dramatic, slow-motion theatrical stage performance, seemingly rooted  in a series of mixed signals and miscommunications.