Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Most Moving Tributes To Prince

With a stunning image and eloquent words, respectively, NASA and Frank Ocean paid the most moving tributes to Prince, following the artist's death last week, on April 21.

NASA chose to publish a photo of the Crab Nebula, lit up in purple.

Read Ocean's post here:

I felt like posting Frank Ocean's sublime track "Swim Good": it shows the influence of Prince, but is at the same time highly original and remains my favorite song of his.

Video by acclaimed L.A. based director Nabil Elderkin

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prince, June 7, 1958 - April 21, 2016

Backstage at the Bottom Line, NYC, 1980

In January I was very surprised to learn of David Bowie's passing at age 69 from cancer. Today however, I was truly stunned when I read the news that Prince has died at age 57 (the exact cause is unknown at this early stage.)  Like Bowie, Prince Rogers Nelson was hugely influential, enjoyed a career that spanned decades and had an enormous catalog to draw from when performing live - which he in fact did up until Saturday. Thus, it is some comfort to know that he got to do what he loved best, almost until the very end.

Due to his highly publicized opinion of YouTube's business model, there are no official Prince videos on YouTube, and his reps famously remove any illegally uploaded clips almost as quickly as they appear. He was also highly selective of which services should be allowed to stream his music: Tidal is currently the only one.

Stubborn? Check. An eccentric? Check. A so-so actor plus an okay film director? Check and check. But Prince was much more than that: a wunderkind with a debut full-length release at age 19, an extraordinarily gifted songwriter, a superb guitarist, a unique vocalist, a multi-instrumentalist, a mentor, a fashion icon, a gender bender, a chameleon, a sublime live performer, a genius producer. Not to mention someone who continues to inspire his fellow artists, as evidenced by a clip that I found on the very same video site that His Purple Highness may have had his personal beef with, but which in all fairness provides a platform for countless singers and musicians who do not enjoy his kind of fame.

Such is the case with 24-year-old Israeli, NYC based jazz pianist Guy Mintus who recorded a session last year with fellow Israeli Yinon Muallem, a resident of Istanbul since 2002. Born in 1968 to parents of Iraqi origin, Muallem is an acclaimed percussionist, oudist and composer; for this performance he recruited two Turkish colleagues: vocalist Elif Caglar and Erkan Ogur on fretless guitar and E-bow guitar. The result is a beautiful cover of a beautiful original, one that I believe its composer would have loved. And in light of his passing during this particular month in late spring, it seems more than fitting to post "Sometimes It Snows in April".





Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lovespeake: DNA

Norwegian-British quintet Emma Eye Jedi has metamorphosed into all-Norwegian sextet Lovespeake and fortunately, the change is for the better. While EEJ was unquestionably a stellar band, their sound did not truly distinguish them from so many other 2010s indie rock bands; with Lovespeake however, the musical colors used on the canvass have produced a work of art that truly stands out from the crowd.

By contrasting white/grey/black tones with vivid primary colors, the excellent video accompanying the single "DNA" in fact crystallizes this remarkable rebirth from cool-but-slightly-generic band to one with a soundscape containing far more nuances; the clip was directed by Rebecca Wirkola Kjellmann and features dancer Mariama F. Kalley Slåttøy.

The debut ten-track full-length 'DNA' drops April 22 on Norwegian label Toothfairy. Three superb teaser songs have been released: the title track in January, "Tightrope" in February and "Dreamer" this week. (make sure to listen to all three on Soundcloud; see link below)

Songwriters Alexander Pavelich aka Pav (lead vocals, synth, guitar) and Andrew Murray aka Baya (lead guitar, backing vocals) have retained EEJ drummer Andreas Westhagen and added Elisabeth Nesset (percussion, samples, backing vocals), Martin Kaasa (bass, synth, backing vocals) as well as Christian Balvig (synth, backing vocals) for live performances.

Summer festival gigs and a fall tour are in the works; check their FB page for updates.





Monday, April 11, 2016

The Chairman: How It Feels

The Chairman is both the name of an ongoing music project as well as the alter ego of 23-year-old maestro Lucas Berner. On Friday, April 15 the Copenhagen based artist drops his 11-track debut full-length '2064', co-produced by Mathias Bang Madsen.

To celebrate the album release, Berner and a band will be performing all eleven tracks Tuesday April 12 at the prestigious venue Jazzhouse. Physical copies will be available for sale at the concert.

A video for the single "How It Feels" was published last week; the clip was directed by Tue Blichfeldt and features dancers Deva Schubert and Clara Müller. This beautiful song showcases Berner's intense and soulful vocals, not to mention his stellar songwriting skills.


https://dme.lnk.to/BmV_L  (streaming options for "How It Feels")

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Average Rap Band: El Eh

Lui Tuiasau & Tom Scott

Though a duo, Lui Tuiasau and Tom Scott aka Average Rap Band make sure to give credit to the vital third element in their projects, namely the producers; on their superb 2015 debut EP 'Stream of Nonsenseness' it was Dandruff Dicky; on their outstanding debut full-length 'El Sol' released in late March, the magician behind the console was Winters.

Formerly based in Auckland, now residing in Melbourne, the two anything-but-average rappers (as well as Dandruff Dicky) were most recently members of the stellar, now defunct group @Peace whose masterpiece '@Peace and the Plutonian Noise Symphony' must be one of the few sold out albums on Bandcamp. (I've posted the tragic-comic video for the sublime track "Matter" by @Peace at the end of this blog entry). 

video was published last month to go with the deliciously smooth album track "El Eh"; the clip deftly captures that lovely Los Angeles cocktail of sunshine, glitter, grime and desperation.

Average Rap Band have seven shows coming up: five in Australia and two in New Zealand.

Friday April 8:        Mojos, Fremantle
Saturday April 9:    Babushka, Perth
Friday April 15:      Plan B Small Club, Sydney
Sunday April 24:    Boney, Melbourne
Saturday April 30:  Rocket Bar, Adelaide
Friday May 6:         Bodega, Wellington
Saturday May 7:     Neck Of The Woods, Auckland

And yes, in case anyone was wondering: Average Rap Band is a clever play on the moniker used by Scottish funksters Average White Band, famous for the 1974 hit "Pick Up the Pieces", one of the most sampled tracks in music history.