Tag: The Rolling Stones

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.

Over the past two years or so, you’ve likely come across a number of posts featuring the London-based JOVM mainstays Ten Fe. Initially comprised of singer/songwriter duo Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan, the duo won national and international attention for pairing their distinct writing styles and voices into a unique sound.

Now, as you may recall Moorhouse and Duncan had played in a number of London area bands in which they individually felt as though there was pressure to fit into a particular scene, whether through a one way of playing or a certain way of looking, and it was something they felt unnatural and unnecessarily labored — and it was something that they deeply reviled. Interestingly enough, as the story goes, Moorhouse and Duncan met at a party and became busking partners in the London Underground. In those very early days, they enjoyed the very simple pleasures of playing music they loved — mostly early rock, early Beatles and the like — and earning cash while doing so. Coming from a place of pure joy, they noticed a profound simpatico, and they began to play their own original material. “We had a very clear idea of what we wanted. For things to be simple, based around songs that are unashamed in their directness, and that we love: The CureU2Springsteen and The Stones. We’d spend years playing through these on the tube, realising you don’t need to break the mould. Its best to ignore all the voices telling you that you need to for the sake of it, and go for something deeper,” the duo explained in press notes.  And with Ten Fe, Moorhouse and Duncan wanted to focus primarily on the song with style serving the song — and while being anthemic and downright arena rock friendly, their sound is difficult to describe and even more so to pigeonhole, as it possesses elements of the Manchester sound, Brit Pop, Americana, electro pop and contemporary indie rock. They manage to do this while balancing careful, deliberate attention to craft with soulful earnestness and bombast.

Moorhouse and Duncan then spent the next two years, writing, revising and recording in each other’s bedrooms, which included prolonged writing sessions at Duncan’s dad’s house in Walsall, UK, relentless busking, hustling and saving, and an impossibly lengthy list of band members and producers before they signed a publishing deal and briefly relocated to Berlin, where they recorded their Ewan Pearson-produced full-length debut effort Hit the Lights. “Its no coincidence that the name of this band means ‘have faith’” says Leo Duncan.

After spending the past 18 months touring to support their full-length debut effort Hit the Light, which included an incredible set at Mercury Lounge earlier this year, the project officially expanded into a full-fledged band with the permanent additions of touring members Rob Shipley (bass) and Johnny Drain (keys), who are two of Duncan’s oldest friends from Walsall, and Alex Hammond (drums). Returning back to England, the newly constituted quintet began writing material for their highly-anticiapted sophomore effort, and the first bit of recorded output as a quintet “Single, No Return” may be a bit of a taste of what we should expect from the new album, as it manages to capture the band’s live sound and energy, complete with a swaggering and jaunty stride. Interestingly, the band has referred to the song as being a descendant of Hank Williams‘ “Ramblin’ Man,” a song which the band’s founding members used to play while busking in the London Underground, and although they claim that when it came to the song’s arrangement they thought of The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young but with a bit of swing to the mix, to my ears it sounds a bit more like the Psychic Ills, filtered through Brit Pop; but no matter — the song manages to evoke life on the road and its seductive pull on one’s soul while further establishing their ability to craft effortlessly slick, hook-driven material.

New Video: The Darkly Seductive and Soulful Visuals and Sounds of The Afghan Whigs’ Newest Single “Demon In Profile”

Currently comprised of founding members Greg Dulli (guitar, vocals) and John Curley (bass) along with Dave Rosser (guitar), Jon Skibic (guitar), multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson and Cully Symington (drums), the Cincinnati, OH-based septet The Afghan Whigs can trace its origins to when its founding members — Dulli, Curley and Steve Earle (drums) founded the band in 1986 after the breakup of Dulli’s previous band The Black Republicans. Curley introduced Dulli to Rick McCollum (guitar), a frequent jam partner, who had developed a reputation across the Cincinnati scene for use of effects pedals. With their initial lineup finalized, Dulli has publicly described the band as intending to be a cross between The Band, The Temptations and Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

Although the band has gone through several lineups, including a lengthy breakup and a recent reunion, the Cincinnati-based band has the distinction of being among the first batch of bands that Sub Pop Records signed outside of the Pacific Northwest, as well as being one of the more highly-regarded and critically applauded bands of the early 90s, with 1993’s Gentlemen landing at number 17 on The Village Voice’s Pazz and Jop critics list and 1996’s Black Love, which landed at number 79 on the Billboard Top 200, while being critically praised for a sound that reportedly drew from 1970s Rolling Stones while setting themselves apart from the rock music being released that year.

After their breakup in 2001, the members of the band went on towards other creative pursuits — with Dulli frequently and famously collaborating with Mark Lanegan and others; but after reuniting for a series of festival tours, the band released 2014’s Do To The Beast, which marked both the band’s first proper release in over 16 years and the band’s return to Sub Pop Records. And while arguably being one of that year’s most forceful albums rooted around Dulli’s angst and bile-filled lyrics, evoking the bitter, lingering and fucked up memories of a relationship gone terribly sour; but while also focusing on Dulli’s long-held obsessions.

In Spades, the band’s forthcoming album is slated for a May 5, 2017 release through Sub Pop Records and the album, which was produced by the band’s Greg Dulli reportedly finds the band at their most soulful and urgent and while being darkly seductive, emphasizing a pop leaning sensibility. And much like their previously recorded work, the material manages to be veiled. “It’s a spooky record,” notes Dulli. “I like that it’s veiled. It’s not a concept album per se, but as I began to assemble it, I saw an arc and followed it. To me, it’s about memory — in particular, how quickly life and memory can blur together.” And as you’ll hear on the album’s first single “Demon In Profile,” the song evokes life’s lingering ghosts — the electric touch of a lover’s skin, their smell and the sense of loss and confusion that permeates everything once a person is no longer in your life, and how at times its inescapable, that letting go seems impossible and unfeasible. While being one of the more soulful tunes the band has released, thanks in part to the horn section, its one of the sexiest yet anthemic songs they’ve released in some time.

The recently released video possesses a dream like logic as it follows several characters haunted by both their demons and their pasts in various ways — but spending the most amount of time on a fat, washed up, weary and arrogant pop star, getting ready to perform before a crowd of teenyboppers. But is it the present? Or is it a glorious past that of wild success, drugs and women that fuel this fantasy? And it ends suggesting that it’s main character is stuck within some uneasy, never-ending, dread-filled nightmare.

Preview: Living Colour at City Winery 3/13/17

Currently comprised of founding members Corey Glover (vocals), Vernon Reid (guitar, synths, backing vocals) and Will Calhoun (drums, percussion, keys, samples, backing vocals), with Doug Wimbish (bass, drums, guitar, programming, backing vocals), the New York-based rock quartet Living Colour originally formed in 1984 and they quickly received attention for a sound that meshed elements of heavy metal, funk, jazz, jazz fusion, soul, prog rock and alternative rock with lyrics that frequently focused on the personal and sociopolitical, frequently commenting on and attacking Eurocentrism and racism in America. The quartet’s original lineup, featuring featuring the founding trio of Glover, Reid and Calhoun with Muzz Skillings (bass) cut their teeth and honed their sound and live show playing shows at CBGB’s.

Interestingly, the band found an unlikely champion in The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, who took the band under his wing, produced a demo, which caught the attention of Epic Records. And with the release of 1988’s commercially and critically successful full-length debut Vivid, the band’s original lineup, quickly rose to attention with their smash hit “Cult of Personality,” which won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance; they also won the Best New Artist Award at 1989’s MTV Video Music Awards. Adding to a growing international profile, The Rolling Stones had Living Colour opened for the rock legend’s Stateside leg of the Steel Wheels tour. They quickly followed that up with 1990’s sophomore effort Time’s Up, which also won a Grammy.

After releasing three full-length albums with a number of major and minor hits, the band split up with the members focus on a variety of creative projects; in fact, Wimbish, Calhoun and Glover had teamed up with Glover in a project called Headfake, which played frequently in the New York City area. And as the story goes, in late 2000, Headfake played at CBGBs with Reid joining them, leading to rumors of a Living Colour reunion. Of course, those rumors proved to be true, as Living Colour went on their first tour together n six years the following summer.

The members of the band have since released one of their most experimental efforts to date, 2003’s Collideøscope, followed by 2005’s rarities and B-sides compilation, a few live albums, 2006’s Best of compilation, Everything Is Possible: The Very Best of Living Colour and 2009’s Chair in the Doorway. And over the past couple of years, the band has been on a rather busy touring schedule, touring to support the 25th anniversary of their seminal effort Vivid.

As a personal note, as a music obsessed boy, I’ve almost always listened to a wildly eclectic variety of music, and in the 80s metal was a big thing. I loved Metallica, Def Leppard, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue and the like; but when I watched their videos and concerts, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me — and even in my 8 year old mind, I knew that I couldn’t be those guys. I was black and from Queens. However, seeing someone who looked like me with guys who came from neighborhoods that I knew or had family in, kicking ass and taking names was a revelation. And it made them heroes to me.

Sadly, I was too young to catch them back then; however, I have since seen them twice — once at Afropunk during their Vivid 25th Anniversary Tour and later at Brooklyn Bowl, and I’m thrilled to know that the band is playing tonight at City Winery.

New Video: The Surreal and Playful Visuals for Izzy True’s “Mr. Romance”

Renowned punk label Don Giovanni Records released the band’s debut EP Troll last year, and their much-anticipated full-length debut Nope officially released today, and reportedly draws from frontperson Isabel Reidy’s experiences dropping out of school, returning back home to deal with mental illness and a desire to find a cathartic and joyful way to combat them all — and ultimately, about loneliness, hating yourself and then leaning how to actually like yourself. Much like the album’s first single “Total Body Erasure,” the album’s latest single “Mr. Romance” consists of a scuzzy, classic rock-leaning that sounds as though it owes equal debts to Marquee Moon-era Television, The Rolling Stones and Pretenders; however, unlike the preceding single, this single manages to deal with the anxious confusion about one’s self and who and what they should want and love, with a self-effacing irony — and in some way, the song’s narrator knows those answers will be difficult to come by, especially if you’re strange.

The recently released video features Isabel in an aluminum jump suit, playing and singing the song, drinking and making out with a variety of people and a shit ton of glitter and makeup.

New Video: The Cinematic and Lonely Visuals of Psychic Ills’ “Baby” and “Another Change”

Directed by New York-based filmmaker Jason Evans, the cinematically shot videos for “Baby” and “Another Change” were designed as two parts of an extended short film, shot in and and around New York and at Cowtown Rodeo in New Jersey. The videos form a portrait of a young cowboy, desperately longing for something he can connect with, a desire that becomes clearer by the end of the second video. Throughout both videos, the viewer follows its male lead John Reddy, who actually grew up on as a rodeo rider in Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, as he smokes in his tiny room, gets dressed, commutes back and forth between suburban New Jersey and a backbreaking job in a restaurant in the City and runs errands. And from the way he walks and dresses, the videos protagonist doesn’t quite fit in anywhere — and from his expressions our protagonist carries a profound sadness and loneliness that’s old-fashioned and proud but with a masculine vulnerability. When he encounters a lovely young woman in a local bar, there share a simple yet profound moment of connection over their shared loneliness and heartache, and it’s shot with a subtly golden hue that suggests it’s those small moments that remind us of our humanity.

The second videos follows our protagonist to Cowtown Rodeo, where he watches fellow cowboys ride horses and he quickly falls in love with a beautiful white horse that he immediately connects to — and as he connects to his horse, he find himself with the young woman at the bar.