: something to tell you: haim tease songs off their new album :

The sibling trio, Haim, are a band I had heard of, but had written off for their membership in a certain teen country star turned pop phenom’s notorious “girl squad.” However, last spring, as I checked out the roster for Gov Ball, I decided to give them a listen. My skepticism was replaced by pure excitement that I can only compare to what I felt when I listened to the synth-pop genius of The Killer’s debut album, Hot Fuss, in 2004. Days Are Gone, evoked the ethereal magic of 70s/80s Fleetwood Mac, with a healthy dose of Stevie Nicks gone solo. It was an album I would listen to in its entirety for several months. Fast forward to spring 2017, and the music world has been buzzing with news of singles from the band’s sophomore release, Something to Tell You, available 7.7.17. 

I’ll start with the good.”Want you Back” kicks off with a nod to the Indigo Girls. Folk inspired vocals work into a Wilson Philips-esque harmony more typical of the band. On the first listen it took me awhile to get into the song, but when I did, I found myself bopping along the way I do to their previous works. On second listen, I was singing the chorus. I’m sure the third will be when I get hooked. Not quite the captivating experience of Days are Gone first listen, but a respectable offering.

Now onto the not quite bad, but bland and  disjointed, “Right Now.” The song, like “Want you Back,” sticks to Haim’s favorite relatable theme of star-crossed love, but that’s where the similarity ends. The track is heavy on the vocals and light on the instruments, creating a somewhat uninviting sound. Frankly, I was surprised this is an album teaser. Seems more like the random track you’re willing to overlook when an album otherwise amazes. It never really comes together. There are hints at a promising chorus that doesn’t transpire. Then there is a whisper voiceover midway through that reminded me of Britney Spear’s awkward Titanic interlude in, “Oops I Did it Again” (yes, I went there, but it’s true). What could have been a polished track to draw in fans and new followers, I can only equate to what sounds like the first run of a brainstorm session with instruments mixed in between waiting to be refined.

While neither single blew me away, I have much respect and admiration for the musical talents of these three women and am still excited to hear the full release in July. Give them a listen yourself on Spotify.

 

: instant video : oasis: supersonic :

90s alternative rock was a turning point for me in music. It took me from a passive listener to an active music aficionado. I distinctly remember how it drew me in with its reverberating guitars, complemented by passionate vocals. One of the most renowned bands of the alt rock era was Oasis. A band of brothers and friends, whose instability fueled their success, but also catalyzed their demise.

In Oasis: Supersonic, Liam and Noel Gallagher tell their story in their own words, recognizing their missteps, but unapologetically owning their experience. Much like Asif Kapadia’s previous documentary Amy, which chronicled the rise and fall of Amy Winehouse, Oasis: Supersonic takes steps to humanize its characters and shed light on the person versus the persona. Unsurprisingly, The Gallagher brothers grew up in emotionally and physically stressful circumstances, rising above their dealt hand to inspire a generation.

What struck me as beautiful in this story is while sibling rivalry remains an unyielding force in the relationship between Liam and Noel Gallagher, both appreciate and recognize the talent of the other — Liam the singer, Noel the songwriter. Together with Paul “Bonehead” Arthur and several others, they acknowledge that while none of them are the greatest musicians in the world, their music transcended themselves, sparked by a devout fan base, it spread like wildfire across the globe, cementing them in history as one of the greatest bands of the 90s.

Timeless for me are songs such as “Wonderwall,” “Champagne Supernova,” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” Streaming for free on Amazon Instant Video for Amazon Prime members, I recommend this walk down memory lane for those that lived the Oasis saga, as well as for those who want to understand one of the key influencers of modern day indie rock.

: holiday spirit arrives at lincoln square : winter’s eve festival :

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This year’s Lincoln Square Winter’s Eve Festival kicked off with the lighting of the Dante Park Christmas tree at 5:30pm. The party continued until 9pm as a cheery crowd traversed a nine block radius down Broadway and parts of Columbus Avenue. Donning Christmas glow sticks, the festival-goers experienced free concerts, the flavors of the neighborhood from Magnolia Bakery to Boulud Sud, and got a head start on their holiday shopping with discounts from local retailers.

Perhaps most enchanting was Ikebe Shakedown, a six person Brooklyn based Jazz band, that soundtracked the evening with a delightful blend of trumpet, trombone, congas/drums, bass, and guitar. Playing songs from their new LP, Stone By Stone, they pleased a multigenerational audience of wool-capped, hot chocolate sipping New Yorkers.  With the ambient brass and strings filling the air, larger than life puppets gracefully glided across the backdrop of Lincoln Center, circling Dante Park to create a magical experience fit for any Hallmark Channel Christmas movie.

Winter’s Eve is sponsored by Time Warner and the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District. For more information visit: www.winterseve.nyc.

To learn more about Ikebe Shakedown, visit their website at: www.ikebeShakedown.com

: soundtrack your weekend : belles of the ball :

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Governors Ball is in less than four weeks. Whether you’re going all out for the three day festival or checking out some acts here and there, this year’s lineup will not disappoint. Here are some of my favorites from the bands on deck:

 

 

 

 

: ailey II returns to new york : march 30 – april 10 :

Ailey II's Jacoby Pruitt and Courtney Celeste Spears in Jamar Roberts' Gêmeos. Photo by Eduardo Patino

Ailey II’s Jacoby Pruitt and Courtney Celeste Spears in Jamar Roberts’ Gêmeos. Photo by Eduardo Patino

Tonight I had the pleasure of attending Ailey II’s spring preview at the Ailey Citigroup Theater. The program showcased excerpts from In & Out, Something Tangible, I am the Road, and a full length performance of Gêmeos.

Artistic Director, Troy Powell, set the tone for the evening with his heartfelt words about the roots of Ailey II and the journey of its dancers through community outreach.  The entire twelve person company provided a spirited mix of modern dance that engaged through fresh choreography, street style inspired costumes, and at times, pulsating sound.

In & Out, choreographed by Jean Emile, and Something Tangible, choreographed by Ray Mercer, harnessed the spirit of Ulysses Dove’s, Episodes, and made it their own with fierce and sensual spurts of pure athletic movement. Gêmeos, choreographed by Jamar Roberts and performed by Courney Celeste Spears and Jacoby Pruitt lent itself to playful competition chock full of highly controlled muscular strength and grace. My favorite of the four featured dances was I am the Road, choreographed by Kyle “JustSole” Clark. This excerpt danced to hip-hop beats and delivered in colorful fare complemented by classic PUMAs was an ode to the Company’s camaraderie and showcased a penchant for fun.

Notable performances were made by Deidre Rogan, whose ballet training stood out amongst the pack in In & Out and continued to inspire awe throughout the evening. Others that shown brightly were Courtney Celeste Spears and Jacoby Pruitt, who both impressed in Gêmeos; but for Spears the full reach of her talent came out in I am the Road. Lloyd A. Boyd III also stood out as one to watch during this number.

It is hard to believe that this group consists of professionals in training. I enjoyed this show in spades over their highly regarded counterparts at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Company. I was won over by the high octane energy flow, formations, and transitions that sewed together perfectly with a thread of rhythmic accompaniment.

Catch them while you can:

Tickets are currently on sale online at alvinailey.org/aileyiinyc or by phone through Ovation Tix at 866.811.4111. Tickets can also be purchased in person at the Joan Weill Center for Dance at 405 W. 55th Street. Tickets for groups of 10 or more are available through group sales at groupsales@alvinailey.org or by calling 212.405.9082. For full schedule of events, click here.

: soundtrack your weekend :

It’s been a long week and one of the things that’s helped me get through it is rediscovering some melodic songs from my music archive. Good music never gets old. Sure, it can lay dormant on the shelf for awhile, but I always go back to it. Here’s a sampling of what I had on rotation and what should prove to be a wonderful addition to your weekend.

 

This entry was posted in music.

: jenny lewis and the watson twins : celebrating 10 years : rabbit fur coat tour :

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Ten years have gone by since Jenny Lewis released her solo debut, Rabbit Fur Coat. A departure from her well-known indie rock roots, the album opened up her creativity to encompass gospel, folk, bluegrass and classic singer/songwriter fare. I was fortunate to see the tour that year at Irving Plaza in New York City, where Lewis, M. Ward, and the Watson Twins created a lasting memory of guitar strums, serenades, chiffon, and candles.

IMG_0028 (1)Fast forward to now, where fans are able to see the ensemble in a souped up version of the original. I had a chance to catch them on their stint in New York at the Beacon Theatre this past Thursday. This three part show certainly covered the price of admission. Starting with M.Ward as opener, it flowed through Intermission 1, continuing with a portal to 2006, where fans from then and now experienced an ode to the Rabbit Fur Coat tour that stood pretty true to the original. After hearing the complete album, the audience was left guessing if the show was over or not. Solving the conundrum was a roadie who passed by the stage with a sign for “Intermission.” Here we voyaged back to present day, where Lewis and her friends covered 70s inspired songs from her more recent works.

Talent abounded in the intimate venue with Lewis’ ever sweet and strong vocals, The Watson Twins’ solid back-up (and dance moves), and a cast of band members who know their way around drums, guitar, and piano.IMG_0018

I left completely satisfied by the experience, as Lewis sang every song of hers that I love, including “Handle with Care,” “It Wasn’t Me,” “She’s Not Me” and even one of my Rilo Kiley faves, “Silver Lining.”

Catch them if you can, the tour concludes tonight in Nashville, TN at the Ryman Auditorium. Tickets available for purchase here.

: subway stories : cover story : new beginnings :

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There is magic to music, this is something I’ve always believed, and last week I saw this magic in action in the underbelly of New York – the subway.

There are many unspoken rules of etiquette to this system of grimy platforms and fast moving trains. Some of which include not making a ruckus, avoiding eye contact, and keeping yourself busy until the train arrives at the station. Last Tuesday, however, I descended the stairs to the 23rd street station to the soft boom of surprisingly melodic singing.

When fully down the stairs and through the turnstile, I encountered an  a capella group of six men, including a bass player, croning out the sweet sounds of Motown on an otherwise dull day. The platform buzzed with people. Not able to ignore the beauty in front of them, apathy soon turned to smiles, claps, and Instragram videos of  “Lean on Me,”  “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” and “Stand By Me.”

Before the doors closed on the next train, I watched as even people seated on the train couldn’t ignore the sounds of the station and pointed out to their friends what they were hearing. I feel lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to be a part of this experience. Heck, I even bought the CD. The band is Cover Story and the album, New Beginnings. Hear a sampling below and enjoy the magic.

Learn more about Cover Story here

This entry was posted in music.

: book it : reckless by chrissie hynde :

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Chrissie Hynde has a distinctive voice that I can remember hearing on the radio as a kid. Her recently released memoirs, Reckless, take us on the journey from her roots in Ohio through her discovery of the 1960s London music scene to the ultimate creation and ascension of The Pretenders (original members) in the rock world.

Hynde is no angel, like many other rock-obsessed teens of her time, she consciously delves into the world of drug and alcohol abuse, free love, and of course making music. Throughout the book, she acknowledges the extremes of her and her friends’ behavior without apologies, but not without reflection.

As she balances feeling like a phony with the overwhelming desire to be part of the music scene, Hynde gives us something surprising, the knowledge that rockstars are just like everybody else. She credits The Pretenders’ success to the musical genius of their original guitarist; but anyone who’s heard her sing can attest that her voice is unique, easily identifiable, and rightfully made her a star.

There’s something about Hynde’s generation that doesn’t quite exist in today’s modern world – a free flow of ideas and the natural coming together of talent that seems (at least upon reading, I’m sure she’d disagree) to come together somewhat effortlessly. Even though it bounced around a bit, I enjoyed this unromanticized account of music history. Hynde writes a story worth reading with confidence and perspective.

: filmed : janis: little girl blue :

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Janis Joplin is one of the most well known names in music. I knew about her persona long before I knew her sound. In the documentary, Janis: Little Girl Blue, we get an intimate view into the rise and fall of this rock legend. Equal parts talented blues musician and heroine addict, Janis Joplin emerges in the film as a delicate flower, who spent her brief life searching for love only to receive it back in fractured pieces. From her early days of being on the receiving end of adolescent bullying to her young adult years of trying to fit her voice into the San Francisco music scene, Janis was a kind, but misunderstood soul.

The film interviews many of Janis’ former friends and bandmates, along with her brother and sister. Not surprisingly, we’re fed the classic pieces of roll ‘n’ roll tragedy  — an immense talent with an immense drug addiction, who lingers dangerously long in her well of solitude. Admired by thousands and yet hungering for love, the common thread in these stories is the glass wall that these musicians feel lies between them and their adoring fans; and then of course the walls go up on all sides and they’re left alone in a box, looking out at a world of chaos.

The ending is one we know, but the end credits take a stab at reflection — artists from then and now share their thoughts on this beloved songstress. The clip that resonated with me the most was an interview with John Lennon, where he ponders why – why have we created a world in which people feel the need to take drugs to deal with it? Smart man. The story is nothing new, but what I came away with are some important reminders – that if you love someone, make sure they know it; to be kind to those that need it most; and most importantly, to be a person that encourages others to be themselves without judgement.

Janis: Little Girl Blue is playing in New York City at IFC and Film Society of Lincoln Center.