Electronica Album Reviews

Holly Herndon: Proto review – dizzying beauty and bracing beats

(4AD)

Related: Holly Herndon: the musician who birthed an AI baby

It’s credit to Holly Herndon’s skill as a musical guide that her third album, though up to its elbows in complex ideas, feels so invigorating. Her boldest attempt yet to reconfigure modern dilemmas musical, technological and philosophical, it looks back, finding inspiration in the church choirs of her youth, and leaps forward, with a self-designed “AI baby” called Spawn – no android overlord, but just another member of her ensemble.

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Laurence Pike: Holy Spring review – cosmic drum trips

(The Leaf Label)

A solo album by an improvisational drummer would in most circumstances elicit a wary groan, but Australia’s Laurence Pike is no ordinary percussionist. He’s played with a miscellany of jazzers (notably pianist Mike Nock), and embraced genres from psych to electronica to spiritual jazz. Nonetheless, his 2018 debut, Distant Early Warning, was a surprise, blending Pike’s rhythmic skills with sounds culled from a drumpad sampler to create an uber-ambient suite, part acoustic, part electronic.

Holy Spring doubles down on that approach with impressive results. It’s inspired by Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (Russian title Sacred Spring), and aims “to connect with something universal”. It certainly does. Pieces such as Dance of the Earth rumble and thud, overlaid by splashes of cymbals, with more rhythmic trickery than Reich or Glass could serve up. Drum Chant, with indigenous Australian clapsticks in the mix, evokes the pulse of that continent’s vast, red interior. Elsewhere, it’s deep space that is conjured up. On Daughter of Mars, aliens appear to be calling to the blue planet, while the title track could serve as the soundtrack for a close encounter. Full of morphing grooves and moods of imminent revelation, it’s a quicksilver delight.

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Ishmael Ensemble: A State of Flow review | John Lewis’s contemporary album of the month

(Severn Songs)
Combining genres from jazz to minimalism with a great city’s musical heritage, without resorting to pastiche, is no mean feat

Ishmael is a saxophonist, DJ, producer and bandleader, known to his friends as Pete Cunningham. Over the past few years, he’s conducted some madly varied DJ sets, created stately remixes of tracks by Detroit techno legend Carl Craig and performed a whole album’s worth of songs by the Yellow Magic Orchestra. He’s also brought his studio-bound inventions to life with the help of a band, the Ishmael Ensemble, making music that’s pitched somewhere between astral jazz, burbling electronica, trippy minimalism, psychedelic dub and 20 years of club culture.

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The Matthew Herbert Brexit Big Band: The State Between Us review – spacious political elegy

(Accidental Records)

The Matthew Herbert Big Band are attempting something that so far seems beyond our politicians: “To work out what a new kind of relationship with our European neighbours may look like.” This BPI-funded project has taken Herbert to Syria, China and Russia and has provided work for more than 1,000 musicians from across the European Union. It’s certainly a very big Band, although the project has perhaps lost some impact by no longer coinciding with the now-delayed Brexit. Still, as the wheels of democracy grind, The State Between Us certainly offers space for reflection.

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Jazz & Blues Album Reviews

Galactic – Already Ready Already | Album Review

Galactic – Already Ready Already

Tchoup-Zilla Records

www.galacticfunk.com

8 songs/24 minutes

Funk is a form of the Blues. There is no denying it. There are direct connections on both sides. The Blues side: Albert Collins, Junior Guitar Watson and Freddie King’s greased up Blues drip with the Funk. Even more convincingly, the Funk side: Funkadelic’s early albums all had slow Blues burners, James Brown (enough said), the Meters’ sturdy grooves lean Blue, Sly’s blissed out hippie explorations have deep Blue pockets. Even the modern Funk/Jazz explorations sparked by John Schofield and Medeski, Martin and Wood in the 90’s are undoubtedly Blues.

Galactic, the premier NOLA Funk/Jazz/Pop masters, have staked a sharp new Blues claim with their taught new release Already Ready Already. They expertly collaborate with exciting and creative singers and fully realize themselves as concise songsters bringing their expansive group songwriting/improvisation to a new level of perfectly focused pop-art. This clarity and focus creates modern-day Blues similar to how Chuck Berry wrangled the ornery abstractions of his country predecessors into a digestible tight package that was no less revolutionary and moving.

Galactic is Ben Ellman on saxophone and harmonica, Robert Mercurio on bass, Stanton Moore on drums, Jeffrey Raines on guitar and Richard Vogel on keyboards. Although each musician in this quintet is a master and often do their own excellent side projects, the magic happens when the 5 of them create together. A collaborative collective they share songwriting credits and their free spirited improvisations can be heard in full effect on their early albums such as Crazyhorse Mongoose, Late For the Future and Rukus. Galactic never let the endless jam drag on always utilizing great singers and always using New Orleans hit making sensibility. In 2007, in-part response to the deteriorating health of go-to singer Theryl DeClouet, these monsters started to branch out and evolve, including collaborations with rappers and singers and exploring all different flavors of music.

Already Ready Already is a distilled, highly potent shot of these musical journeys featuring collaborations with five different singer/songwriters. “Going Straight Crazy” featuring Princess Shaw with background vocals by Boyfriend is a loping lowdown throw-down come-on. “Clap Your Hands” featuring Miss Charm Taylor is a hyped up call to party. Delving into Emo-Electronica, “Everlasting Light” featuring David Shaw and Nahko is as brooding as it is infectious. Live performance muse and Tina-esq diva, Erica Falls offers the appropriately menacing “Touch Get Cut” (“touch get cut…back off her daddy leave the girl alone” ). And finally Boyfriend gets her feature on the stand-out “Dance At My Funeral” a breakneck look back at her own imagined NOLA second line memorial (“that ass better shake the pew”).

Galactic stretch their instrumental muscles throughout with support from trumpet ace Shamarr Allen (who is on tour with them) and trombonist Corey Henry. All the musical breaks, background horn charts, distinctive guitar and keyboard sounds and enveloping drums and samples create unique and highly original music. The one true instrumental on the record, “Goose Grease,” is a modern Meters work out, at times cool and grooving, at times urgent and spastic. Bookend intro and outro, “Already” and “Ready Already,” are diffuse and grooving at the same time and not only unify the album but pack so much exploration into a combined 3 minutes.

Your humble reviewer caught Galactic on their current tour in Boston. It was my first time seeing them and a revelation. Taking more time with the jams, as is appropriate in the live setting, the band featuring the indomitable Erica Falls kept the place bouncing all night. This is a band at the top of their powers producing grade-A highly creative inventive Funk. If the purpose of the Blues is to drive away trouble and offer consolation, Galactic fit the bill. Go and see this band and listen to this record over and over (it’s short), you won’t be sorry.

Katarina Pejak – Roads That Cross | Album Review

Katarina Pejak – Roads That Cross

Ruf Records

http://katarinapejak.com

11 songs/43 minutes

Katarina Pejak is one of those young people with an “old soul.” She has a voice, an attitude and a style that belies her age and appearance. A talented piano player and nuanced songwriter, it is Pejak’s singing that shines on her Ruf Records debut Roads That Cross. Produced by Mike Zito and featuring the guitar virtuoso Laura Chavez, this record is a showcase of Katarina’s diverse and unique range.

First the voice. Pejak has a distinctive timber to her voice and clear confident phrasing. At once apathetic and cool then urgent and fiery. Katarina is able to morph her voice through various emotions doing emotional switchbacks like Joni Mitchell. This is highlighted on the Mitchell cover “Sex Kills.” Building the bridges up emotionally and then flatly laying out the chorus, Pejak inhabits Mitchell’s groundbreaking technique. However, Katarina has grease and dirt on her voice, it would be hard to describe her as folk. The only other cover, Janis Joplin’s “Turtle Blues,” shows the fire, channeling Bessie Smith’s spirit and bombast.

Next the songwriting. Katarina is a mature and creative songwriter. The opening co-write with Zito (the only co-write, everything else is hers alone) “Nature of My Blues” is 50s kitsch in which Pejak lays it out for a suitor. “If you get mean you know I’ll get cruel, I know you want to win but it’s better if you lose, that is just the nature of my blues.” “Chasing Summer” is a lament to love lost. “Drinking each other down but we lost the thirst.” “…we can’t keep chasing summer, just because our hearts are cold.” Beautiful imagery and sneaky lyricism is how Pejak rolls, avoiding cliche while maintaining simplicity and clarity.

Finally, the playing. Katarina is a talented pianist playing Hammond B3 organ, electric and acoustic pianos. She studied at Berklee College of Music and is endorsed by B3 authority Dave Limina (the head of the Berklee department and long time Ronnie Earl Broadcaster). Pejak plays straight forward and within the song. This isn’t a piano record, the piano is simply one element.

Wisely, Pejak and Zito didn’t make this record a big expansive guest riddled affair. This is a clean, in the moment, band record. Laura Chavez adds real deal Blues fire and cred, she is one of the best guitarists of her generation! The rhythm section is Lonnie Trevino on bass and Damien Llanes on drums and they are versatile and connected. Save Mike Zito contributing tasty slide guitar and background vocals to the rocking “Midnight Rider,” that’s it. As a result this record snaps and the performances are intimate, immediate and enthralling.

Stand out tracks, in terms of performance and originality, include: “Cool Drifter,” an upbeat feel good stomper with a gospel funk vibe; “Chasing Summer,” a Stones jangler with soaring vocals; “Down With Me,” a Reggae-lite, by way of Clapton, dark rock song about pain and suffering; “She’s Coming After You,” all LA-noir like when Tom Waits and Rickie Lee Jones were all f-ed up in the 70’s.

The final cut of Roads That Cross, “The Harder You Kick,” is a solo organ and vocal meditation on love lost, depression and the importance of moving on. It is a moving ending to this excellent Blues album. Katarina Pejak lays it all on the line and delivers. Roads That Cross is a bold statement from an artist on the cusp of her prime. Watch out!

Murali Coryell – Made in Texas | Album Review

Murali Coryell – Made in Texas

Shake-It-Sugar Records

www.muralicoryell.com

CD: 12 Songs, 52:00 Minutes

Styles: Ensemble Blues, Eclectic Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock

Contrary to the old saying, sometimes one can judge a book – or CD – by its cover. The jacket design of Murali Coryell’s Made in Texas is colorful and dramatic, with a touch of psychedelics. A river gushes through a gorge, adorned by lush cacti sporting red berries. In the background, palm trees and golden clouds frame a rocky monument. The music inside is as vibrant as the art outside, even eclectic. Fear not, purists: the “E” word only applies to a couple of songs. Coryell counts Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana (with whom he lived) as two of his influences. Their style is clearly showcased on this twelve-track album, mixed with Murali’s unique oeuvre. Well-written original ditties like those reviewed below will get listeners’ hearts pumping and bodies jumping, while covers such as “Woman Don’t Lie” and “I Pity the Fool” provide familiar footholds near the end. On balance, this ensemble album lights the proverbial envelope on fire.

Murali is the son of jazz guitar legend Larry Coryell (a musician featured here) and author/actress Julie Coryell. He’s also the grandson of TV, film and stage actress Carol Bruce. Since fame runs in his bloodline, it’s no surprise that he’s had dinners with Miles Davis, opened for B.B. King, and played with Buddy Guy. He’s also acclaimed by Billboard, CNN, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times. His affinity for languages and cultures (English, French, Spanish and Russian) has brought him to places as distant as Australia, Lebanon and the Caribbean.

Accompanying Murali (guitar and vocals) are Ernie Durawa on drums; Augie Meyers on Hammond organ, piano and Tiger organ; Speedy Sparks and Chris Alcaraz on bass; Paul Oscher on harmonica and piano; Peggy Stern on Fender Rhodes and background vocals; Jimmy Shortell on trumpet; Russell Remington on tenor sax; Joe Morales on alto sax; David Hamburger (no joke) on pedal steel guitar; the aforementioned Larry Coryell on guitar and harmony vocals; Harry Wilkinson on drums, and Gary Brown on bass.

The following three songs are the yee-haw-iest on the album, surefire dancefloor hits.

Track 03: “Big Love” – Go back to the ‘50s with this twisty tune, complete with surfer-style Hammond organ by Augie Meyers and great harmony on the chorus/refrain. Reminiscent of Santana at his best, it allows Murali to pay homage to one of his greatest inspirers. Even though it lasts two minutes and fifty-three seconds, that’s enough time to take one’s partner for a spin.

Track 04: “Ain’t it a Shame” – This one’s more of an air-guitar song than a dance number, but it’s also got a classic Texas blues beat and passionate harmonica from Paul Oscher. Check out how he propels his instrument of choice into the stratosphere in terms of pitch and timbre. Yow! Another plus: When Coryell sings lyrics like, “She keeps me satisfied, and you know just what that means,” one can vividly imagine the glint in his eyes and the leer on his face.

Track 10: “Satan’s Woman” – The tempo and instrumentation here are hotter than you-know-where. It starts off with ominous, trembling guitar and Murali’s warning, “Well, well, well, well, I’ll tell you about SATAN’S woma-a-an!” If that’s not a signal to hold on to your hats, blues fans, I don’t know what is.

Made in Texas may be a little too “out there” for some, but Coryell’s true blues is outstanding!

Phil Manca – Signs | Album Review

Phil Manca – Signs

www.difymusic.com/phil-manca

Tremelo Editions Productions

10 songs time-41:08

Europe seems to have an affinity for hot shot blues rock guitarists and France’s Phil Manca is the latest in a long line. He concentrates entirely on his axe except for background vocals, leaving the lead vocal chores to several others. His style of playing tends toward a more manic approach. His band is limited to the usual suspects-drums, bass and keyboards. Half the songs are band originals.

Josselin “JJ” Jobard takes up the vocal on “Brand New Game” with his capable rocker’s voice wailing over the guitars. The vocal on the title track is courtesy of Lois Landoi. This one is at a slower pace with slide guitar over power chords. “JJ” steps in again on “Colorblind” with acoustic guitar, slide and what sounds like a mandolin contributing to the atmospherics. A cover of The Beatles “Yer Blues” is a festival of guitar noise.

John Mayall’s “Little Girl” continues the guitar feeding frenzy. “S.M.I.L.E.” has Phil sliding his guitar in speed freak fashion. “JJ” takes the vocal on the jumpin’ little ditty “Hot Little Mama”. A change of pace in a lovely ballad “Lay By My Side” with Renaud Hantson on vocal and some beautiful lilting guitar work. To close out the CD they reach back to cover an AC-DC song from Bon Scott’s tenure with the band-“Down Payment Blues” and manage the rock and roll energy and frenetic guitar antics quite well.

A heavy dose of blues rock and rock from this guitar centric band. It doesn’t hurt that a variety of first class singers do a grade “A” job throughout. If blues rock is your thing you just can’t go wrong here. Phil Manca lays down a virtual guitar frenzy as a firm foundation for their songs. This is a blues rock keeper.

Vin Mott – Rouge Hunter | Album Review

Vin Mott – Rouge Hunter

www.vinmottsrnb.com

self release

12 songs time-42:55

Lo and behold what emerges from the depths of The New Jersey Delta, but an original bluesman steeped in the authentic blues tradition. Vin Mott and his band bring a blues sound rooted in the past, but that speaks of the present. Vin wrote and arranged all the songs found here. You can hear snippets of guitar and harmonica that sound like they were delivered by the ghosts of blues masters of the past. Vin’s hearty voice combine with his harmonica skills to create something fresh and vital. Guitarist Dean Shot is right on the money when playing regular or slide guitar. Drummer Matt Niedbalski and bass player Steve “Pretty Boy” Kirsty combine to provide a solid foundation. This recording was recorded mainly live off the floor solely with the core band, no outside help.

Vin digs right in with his inspiration that we can all relate to-“Car Troubles Made Me A Good Blues Singer”. Yes he is in possession of an appropriate set of pipes for the job, nicely rough. He’s no slouch in the harmonica department either. the band just chugs along with him. “Give Me Cornbread” keeps the momentum charging along. The title track is a slide guitar infused blues shuffle. Shades of Elmore James here. The harmonica playing shines in this testosterone tale.

“Ice Cold Beer” is a guaranteed concert crowd pleaser. It’s a shuffle with band answer vocals. With it’s ever present wailing harp and old school blues guitar this is the real deal. The guys evoke Slim Harpo’s loping swamp groove on the mainly single entendre “Honey”. “Whistlin’ By The Graveyard” gallops along with slapped upright bass.

“Paterson Is Crumblin’” is a slow lament about the decrepit state of Paterson, New Jersey. The band rips right into the shuffling “I Got The Blues On My Mind”. That Dean Shot can sure unleash some great guitar alongside Vin’s beefy harmonica riffing. An old timey blues vibe is achieved on “Countin’ On Them Chickens”.  A fine change of pace is delivered in the R&B flavored “Fire To Your Flame” with its’ pretty harmonica and guitar melodies.

Vin spins a tale of trading his soul to the devil for harmonica skills in “Please Mr. Devil”, a song that features cool slide guitar-harmonica unison playing. On the instrumental “Greaser” Link Ray guitar meets blues harmonica for a fifties style sound.

These guys manage to merge the essence of old timey blues to create something fresh and vital. No blues-rock posers here bull shucking about life on the road. They are putting down the real sound.

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Pop Album Reviews

Madonna adds new dates to Madame X tour, including shows in Vegas, Philly, Boston, and Miami

In support of her upcoming album, Madame X, Madonna will stage a series of lengthy residences in cities across the US and Europe throughout late 2019 and into early 2020.

Today, she’s expanded on her upcoming itinerary with the announcement new shows in Las Vegas, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Lisbon, and Paris. Additionally, she’s tacked on more dates to previously announced stops in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and London.

As it stands now, Madonna’s tour schedule spans 68 performances, including 17 nights at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in New York; 12 shows at the London Palladium; and 11 at the Wiltern in Los Angeles.

(Buy: Tickets to Madonna’s Madame X Tour)

Ticket requests for the newly announced dates are ongoing now through through Friday, May 24th at 12:00 noon ET via Live Nation. The purchase of each ticket includes a copy of Madame X, which is out officially on May 24th.

Tickets are also available via StubHub.

Over the weekend, Madonna made a controversial appearance at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, where she performed “Like A Prayer” and the Madame X track “Future”.

Madonna 2019-2019 Tour Dates:
09/12 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
09/14 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
09/15 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
09/17 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
09/19 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
09/21 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
09/22 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
09/24 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
09/25 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
09/26 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
09/28 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
10/01 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
10/02 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
10/03 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
10/05 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
10/06 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
10/07 – New York, NY @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
10/15 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre
10/16 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre
10/17 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre
10/21 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre
10/23 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre
10/24 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre
11/07 – Las Vegas, NV @ Colosseum at Caesars Palace
11/09 – Las Vegas, NV @ Colosseum at Caesars Palace
11/10 – Las Vegas, NV @ Colosseum at Caesars Palace
11/12 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
11/13 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
11/14 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
11/16 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
11/17 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
11/19 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
11/20 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
11/21 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
11/23 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
11/24 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
11/25 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
11/30 – Boston, MA @ Boch Center Wang Theatre
12/01 – Boston, MA @ Boch Center Wang Theatre
12/02 – Boston, MA @ Boch Center Wang Theatre
12/07 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Met Philadelphia
12/08 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Met Philadelphia
12/11 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Met Philadelphia
12/14 – Miami, FL @ Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater
12/15 – Miami, FL @ Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater
12/17 – Miami, FL @ Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater
12/18 – Miami, FL @ Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater
12/19 – Miami, FL @ Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater
01/16 – Lisbon, PT @ Lisbon Coliseum
01/18 – Lisbon, PT @ Lisbon Coliseum
01/19 – Lisbon, PT @ Lisbon Coliseum
01/26 – London, UK @ London Palladium
01/27 – London, UK @ London Palladium
01/29 – London, UK @ London Palladium
01/30 – London, UK @ London Palladium
02/01 – London, UK @ London Palladium
02/02 – London, UK @ London Palladium
02/04 – London, UK @ London Palladium
02/05 – London, UK @ London Palladium
02/06 – London, UK @ London Palladium
02/08 – London, UK @ London Palladium
02/09 – London, UK @ London Palladium
02/11 – London, UK @ London Palladium
02/18 – Paris, FR @ Le Grand Rex
02/19 – Paris, FR @ Le Grand Rex
02/20 – Paris, FR @ Le Grand Rex
02/22 – Paris, FR @ Le Grand Rex
02/23 – Paris, FR @ Le Grand Rex

Ariana Grande gets slapped with lawsuit for posting picture of herself

While Ariana Grande may be the biggest pop star at the moment, she may also be the unluckiest. A human embodiment of Newton’s third law, it seems like every harmless thing the thank u, next singer attempts spurs some negative and, if we’re being honest, hilarious cosmic reaction. She gets a Japanese-themed tattoo promoting a new single; it reads “charcoal grill.” She headlines Coachella; someone chucks a lemon at her head. The list goes on.

Now comes word that the “7 rings” vocalist is getting sued… for posting a picture of herself.

Earlier in the week, paparazzi photographer Robert Barbera filed a lawsuit against Grande, alleging that the starlet violated copyright law by posting two pictures of herself on social media. The photos in question — which Barbera snapped from afar, presumably without her consent — showsthe singer walking out of a building with a bag sporting the name of her Sweetener LP. She posted the two pictures on Instagram and Twitter last August to coincide with the release of the 2018 album.

Now, Barbera is suing her for damages amounting to the larger sum between $25,000 per picture or all the profits Grande earned from the photos, meaning he’s probably angling for a healthy slice of Sweetener’s first-day sales. The lawsuit reads, “[Grande] infringed [Barbera’s] copyright in the Photographs by reproducing and publicly displaying the Photographs on the Instagram Page… [Grande] is not, and has never been, licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publically display, distribute and/or use the Photographs.”

So, while Grande didn’t get permissions to use the photos, the whole thing begs questions about the fairness of someone getting sued for posting pictures of literally themselves.

The National: I Am Easy to Find review – strangely lacklustre

(4AD)

Twenty years into their career, the National have had a radical rethink for their eighth album. Film-maker Mike Mills has come on board to challenge the way they record, as well as cooking up a complementary but standalone short film of the same name, starring Alicia Vikander, but the bigger change finds frontman Matt Berninger sharing centre stage with – and frequently ceding it to – a string of female co-vocalists, including Sharon Van Etten, longtime Bowie foil Gail Ann Dorsey and Lisa Hannigan.

The resulting songs still sound unmistakably like the National – thoughtful, refined indie with restrained guitars and inventive rhythms, courtesy of drummer Bryan Devendorf – even if they’re at times smothered beneath choirs and strings. Indeed, perhaps the only elements missing from this overegged affair are, crucially, excitement and anything so much as a memorable melody. Elegant song after elegant song wafts past without ever quite succeeding in engaging. It’s not without its moments: Rylan at least possesses some energy, and the standout Not in Kansas is an affecting Berninger stream-of-consciousness set to minimal backing, which could double as an elliptical short story (and in which he references Roberta Flack and Annette Bening, and quotes Lifes Rich Pageant-era REM lyrics, a trick he repeats with Guided By Voices on the title track), before he’s joined by a chorus of Dorsey, Hannigan and This Is the Kit’s Kate Stables. But it’s an all too rare peak on a strangely flat album.

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Maluma: 11:11 review – party tunes meet hunky smouldering

(Relentless/Sony Latin)

US pop has been travelling south to appropriate Latin heat since time immemorial. But since 2017’s Puerto Rican smash Despacito and particularly Justin Bieber’s remix, there’s no longer a meaningful divide between anglophone territories and the global pop market. Perfectly placed to ride this wave is Columbia’s Maluma: rapper, singer, reggaetonista, catwalk model, social media presence and abettor of Madonna in her latest Latin fetish. You can hear the pop baton being passed when Ricky Martin jumps on No Se Me Quita, one of 11:11’s many two-handers.

In the run-up to Madonna’s Medellín, Maluma’s 2018 F.A.M.E. album went 6x platinum in the US. His fourth album boasts even more A-list producers (Max Martin), and more bilingual outings: Ty Dolla $ign crops up doing his best Drake impersonation on Tu Vecina, in which a neighbour wonders where all the sex noises went. For Soltera, Madonna piles on Auto-Tune and a weird accent.

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Madonna performs “Like a Virgin” and “Future” at Eurovision 2019: Watch

Madonna took the stage at 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, which took place in Tel Aviv, Israel on Saturday. The Queen of Pop marked the 30th anniversary of her 1989 album, Like A Prayer, by performing its title track. She also previewed her new album, Madame X, by teaming up with Migos’ Quavo for Future”. Replay both performances below.

Madonna’s Eurovision appearance was not without controversy. Worsening conditions in Palestine have led a number of prominent artists to launch the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement in protest of Israel’s oppressive policies toward Palestine. However, Madonna resisted calls to cancel her performance, saying in a statement: “I’ll never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be.”

She further acknowledged the controversy during her performance. “Let’s never underestimate the power of music to bring people together,” Madonna said at one point. Two of her backing dancers also briefly appeared wearing the Israeli and Palestinian flags.

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