Monday, June 19, 2017

Melissa McMillan: Frail Ground + Shade




Brooklyn based singer-songwriter Melissa McMillan graduated from the University of North Texas with a music degree before moving to NYC and picking up composing. An in-demand session
singer, she eventually formed her own band and released a stellar six-track self-titled debut EP in 2015. 

On March 16 she performed a new and stunning song of hers entitled "Frail Ground" at the Chord Club on the Upper East Side as part of the ongoing Sofar concert series; the clip was uploaded to the Sofar YouTube channel June 14.  (NOTE: no word on who the excellent guitarist is).

McMillan's flawless live vocals are as mesmerizing as the ones she delivers in the recording studio: the most recent example is the dreamlike video accompanying the beautiful track "Shade" uploaded to Vimeo in October of last year by the director Aaron Vazquez. 

No gigs are scheduled at this point, but check her website and FB now and then for announcements.



https://www.facebook.com/melissamcmillanmusic

http://www.melissamcmillanmusic.com/live/

https://itunes.apple.com/dk/album/melissa-mcmillan-ep/id981388620?ign-mpt=uo%3D4%26amp%3Buo%3D4

https://melissamcmillan.bandcamp.com/releases

https://vimeo.com/bluecamelot  (director Aaron Vazquez)












Monday, June 12, 2017

Dua Lipa: Lost In Your Light (Featuring Miguel)




Dua Lipa has a very busy concert schedule that stretches into next year. Currently performing at summer festivals, she kicks off her fall tour October 5 in Brighton and wraps up a month later in London; in between is a string of gigs in continental Europe, including Scandinavia. In late February/early March she has four shows at the Spark Arena in Auckland.

The 21-year-old London native with Kosovar-Albaian parents dropped her self-titled debut full-length earlier this month. The sixth single off the album is the irresistible "Lost in Your Light" which features Miguel and was co-written by him as well.  The video perfectly matches the floating-on-a-cloud vibe; the clip was shot in L.A, but no word on who directed it.


https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dua-lipa/id1227678117

https://www.facebook.com/dualipaofficial/app/308540029359/?ref=page_internal






Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Charlatans: Plastic Machinery




The Charlatans dropped their 13th full-length 'Different Days' this week: the low-budget teaser video for the outstanding track "Plastic Machinery" was published a month ago.

Among the contributors on the album are The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, New Order drummer Stephen Morris and Paul Weller.

Shows:

- Tonight, lead singer Tim Burgess and guitarist Mark Collins will be doing an acoustic set at the annual Sound City festival in Liverpool.

- Tomorrow, the band has a gig at Rough Trade East in London.

- So far, four summer festival appearances are on the schedule for June, July and August.

- On November 29 the band kick off their UK fall tour in Nottingham; it wraps up in Belfast December 11. (There is also a show in Dublin on December 10).  


https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/different-days/id1220549285

http://www.thecharlatans.net/#gigs

https://www.facebook.com/thecharlatans







Saturday, May 20, 2017

Nick Hakim: Roller Skates + Bet She Looks Like You




Three years after dropping the excellent two-part EP 'Where Will We Go', singer-songwriter Nick Hakim has released his twelve-track debut full-length 'Green Twins'. The 26-year-old Washington D.C native graduated Berklee College of Music in Boston before relocating to Brooklyn in 2013 and it's here that he seems to have truly found his own voice.

On the new album, the soul influences are still there, but more layers, reverb and distortion have been added into the musical cauldron by Hakim and collaborator/Berklee classmate Andrew Sarlo. In "Roller Skates", Hakim has created a trippy soundscape with echoes of a late Beatles period/early solo career John Lennon. On "Bet She Looks Like You" he whips up a frothy, mad bartender cocktail of Motown and Hendrix with a pinch of country. The result is beautiful and gutsy.

The superb, tragic-comic animated video accompanying "Roller Skates" so perfectly compliments the song one would think Hakim and Kansas-based director/musician Micah Buzan were in the same room when it was made.

Fellow Brooklyn artist creative Terence Nance directed the video for "Bet She Looks Like You". I personally don't feel this clip serves the song very well. But to each their own.

Tour:
Tonight he's performing at Rock & Roll Hotel in D.C.
October 14:  ALC Festival in Austin.
June 9: the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles.
June 12: Amoeba Records, L.A.
In early November he returns to the UK for five shows.

Other interesting facts: His mother is from Peru, his father is from Chile. Both of his brothers are musicians. He teaches and mentors kids and teens in NYC.  He has spoken openly about struggling in school where he was placed in special ed classes from second to tenth grade, in great part due to his dyslexia.



https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/green-twins/id1199752694

https://www.facebook.com/nickhakimmusic/app/123966167614127/?ref=page_internal

http://www.micahbuzan.com/roller-skates-animation/

http://terencenance.com/work/









Monday, May 15, 2017

Kristian Kostov: Beautiful Mess




The annual extravaganza known as The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final took place Saturday night in Kiev, Ukraine. Portugal's contestant 27-year-old Salvador Sobral's beautiful performance of his sister Luisa Sobral's lovely composition "Amar Pelos Dois" won first place. A far cry from the uptempo pop or power ballad type of entry which usually wins the ESC, it was nevertheless an early favorite among both juries and viewers in the 42 participating countries. A soft, cabaret style, vintage Brazilian jazz flavored song (Antonio Carlos Jobim-meets-Billie Holiday), it clearly moved those listening in the arena and in front of their TVs at home.  A wild card, a dark horse, but a worthy winner.

My personal favorite in the race however was the runner up, Bulgaria's superb entry "Beautiful Mess", performed by 17-year-old vocalist Kristian Kostov. Born in Moscow to a Bulgarian father and a Kazakh mother, he was singing from the age of six as well as competing in contests in Russia. In 2015 he came second in the fourth season of X Factor Bulgaria and was signed to Bulgarian record label Virginia Records.

One of the five co-writers of Kostov's almost-winner is listed as Alexander V. Blay, better known as Danish artist Alex Vargas whom I first blogged about in 2014, before he became a big name in Denmark. "Beautiful Mess" has a distinct Vargas touch to it, so much so that it's hard to believe he didn't pen it on his own. Kostov has stated he is a dedicated Vargas fan; it would be interesting to see them perform the song together live at some point.

The official clip was directed by renowned Bulgarian music video producer Liusi Ilarionov. The shoot required 35 actors and lasted more than 20 hours. The result is powerful and bears a great resemblance to one of my all-time favorite videos, "Iron" from 2011 by Yoann Lemoine aka Woodkid. It also recalls Lemoine's stunning 2012 clip accompanying "Take Care" by Drake ft. Rihanna.



https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/beautiful-mess-single/id1228720475

https://www.facebook.com/Kristian.Kostov.OfficialFanPage



My three blog entries about Alex Vargas:
http://latenightdj.blogspot.dk/search?q=alex+vargas

My blog entry about Woodkid/Yoann Lemoine:
http://latenightdj.blogspot.dk/2012/05/drake-featuring-rihanna-take-care.html






Saturday, May 6, 2017

Haley Johnsen: Feel The Water + Broken Open + If




In 2012 at age twenty-three, Haley Johnsen was a contestant on American Idol Season 11. Since then, the west-of-Portland, Oregon native has become a bona fide singer-songwriter, releasing the stellar debut EP 'Through the Blue' in 2014 and playing venues in the North-West.

Her most recent single is "Feel the Water". On March 8 in Portland, she offered up a sublime, stripped down acoustic version of this outstanding song as part of the ongoing concert series Sofar.

Another flawless live performance is "Broken Open", track # 5 on 'Through the Blue': the video was Johnsen's submission for a coveted spot on National Public Radio's renowned Tiny Desk Concert series. Though she failed to get accepted this time around, I'm guessing NPR host/Tiny Desk creator Bob Boilen invites her to do a set on the show as soon as word gets around about this superb artist who not only is blessed with an astounding voice, but is also a highly gifted songwriter. Be sure to listen to all of her songs on Bandcamp.

I'm also posting Johnsen's beautiful cover of one of her personal favorites, the 1971 hit "If" by L.A. band Bread, a classic which she manages to make her very own, never an easy feat when covering originals.

There are currently five dates scheduled in Oregon and Washington between May and September plus one gig at the Hard Rock Cafe in Pittsburgh June 30.



https://haleyjohnsen.bandcamp.com/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/haley-johnsen/id1004119393

http://www.haleyjohnsenmusic.com/shows/

http://www.songkick.com/artists/6384409-haley-johnsen/calendar

https://www.facebook.com/HJohnsenAI11









Sunday, April 23, 2017

Gorillaz: Saturnz Barz (Spirit House) + We Got The Power + Andromeda + Ascension + Let Me Out


Albarn & Hewlett (Vanity Fair, August 2013)

One of the most anticipated full-lengths of 2017 drops April 28: 'Humanz' is the first Gorillaz album since 2010/11 ('The Fall') from Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, both just turned 49 years old.

Five outstanding songs from Albarn and his co-writers have been released to whet our appetites: "Saturnz Barz", "We Got the Power", "Andromeda", "Ascension" and "Let Me Out".

In addition, Hewlett's superb video Spirit House featuring the virtual animated band members Noodle, Russell Hobbs, Murdoc Niccals and 2-D was published March 23 to accompany "Saturnz Barz".

The 20-track album is a cornucopia of guest performances: Vince Staples, Peven Everett, Popcaan, De La Soul, Grace Jones, D.R.A.M, Anthony Hamilton, Mavis Staples, Pusha T, Benjamin Clementine, and more. The 26-track deluxe version also features Rag 'n' Bone Man, among others. (Nearly all of the contributing artists also co-wrote their respective tracks.)

Summer and fall tour: Fifteen North American dates are on the schedule; many of the shows have sold out. Upcoming: One show at Rough Trade in Brooklyn April 25. Note: The UK 'Demon Dayz' event June 10 in Margate is apparently close to sold out.


https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/humanz-deluxe/id1217911994

http://www.gorillaz.com/tour/

https://www.facebook.com/Gorillaz