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.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bishop Briggs: Dark Side + Fire

The eagerly awaited self-titled debut EP from Sarah McLaughlin aka Bishop Briggs dropped April 14. The six-song collection includes two new outstanding tracks, "Dark Side" and "Fire" from the 24-year-old singer-songwriter.

Born in London to Scottish parents, McLaughlin grew up in Tokyo and Hong Kong with her family, before moving to Los Angeles on her own at age 18. Enrolling in college at the renowned Musicians Institute while doggedly playing small venues for four years plus paid off in 2015 when former Interscope A&R man George Robertson heard her singing one night, an event that led to the debut single "Wild Horses".

2016 was a bona fide pinch-myself-I-must-be-dreaming time for the artist: the hit single "River", opening for Cold Play, recording "So Tied Up" with Cold War Kids, performing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, as well as countless print and video interviews.

Interestingly, in the interview clips, she comes across as a bubbly young woman with a solid Southern California intonation, a persona that contrasts with her less-than-sunny music and lyrics. And then there's that voice: belting like the best of soul/blues/rock greats, yet also at times turning it down several notches for a more spooky-alt vibe, this gifted vocalist has created a highly intriguing sound, one she has stated was essentially developed as early as during her childhood years in Japan. singing karaoke and being a member of a gospel choir.

Today and next weekend Bishop Briggs will be playing at Coachella. On her busy tour schedule are a string of dates the U.S.. She has one gig in Toronto May 3 plus two shows in Australia July 20 & 21.

No proper videos yet for "Dark Side" and "Fire", but here's hoping they're in the works.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Scarlet Pleasure: Deja Vu

Alexander, Emil, Joachim, March 2017

A video for "Deja Vu", the first single from Danish trio Scarlet Pleasure's next full-length (release date TBA), is out now. Shot in Nice, France by Copenhagen based director Ryan Løkken, the clip has the feel of a baby boomer era 8mm home movie. The track is one of the band's best, with lead singer Emil Goll once again channeling Michael Jackson, a thumping bass and synth bouncing along with his vocals.

A few shows in Denmark are scheduled for November; surprisingly, so far, no summer festival appearances have been announced for Emil, bassist Alexander Malone and drummer Joachim Dencker, but check Songkick or their FB page now and then.

UPDATE April 19: Scarlet Pleasure have just been added to this year´s seven-city Grøn Koncert bill. The popular Danish summer festival tour kicks off in Copenhagen July 20 and likewise wraps up in Copenhagen July 30. All proceeds have for 35 years gone to the Muskelsvindfonden [Muscular Dystrophy Fund].  (iTunes Denmark)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Allan Rayman: 13 (Verona's Obsession) + 25.22 (The Cage)

Toronto based Allan Rayman dropped his debut full-length 'Hotel Allan' before getting signed to Communion Records (co-founded by Ben Lovett of Mumford and Sons); the label released his thirteen-song sophomore album 'Roadhouse 01' February 24.

Two stellar videos were made to accompany the superb tracks "13" and "25.22"; they were given the intriguing titles Verona's Obsession and The Cage, respectively. The first clip was directed by Gabriel Adelman, the second by Steph Verschuren; both are fellow Toronto creatives.

Together, Rayman's haunting music & clips take the listener/viewer to a strange and enticing place, one that might feature a modern era Robert Johnson in a David Lynch film, traveling all the way from the Mississippi Delta to Lost Springs, Wyoming from where the singer-songwriter is said to hail.

The singer-songwriter kicked off a North American tour late last month; he's playing at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana, CA tonight. One summer festival gig Friday July 28 has also been added to the schedule: the three-day Way Home Arts and Music Festival at the Burl's Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, about 40 miles north of Toronto. (On the same bill are top acts such as Frank Ocean, Flume, Imagine Dragons, Schoolboy Q, Rag 'n Bone Man and many more.)