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Girl Jam

Portia Monique

Because Seattle is all but synonymous with grunge and “alternative” rock, its other schools of music sometimes have an uphill battle for national recognition. You might not ever read about Seattle’s neo-pop soul movement stealing the flannel throne, but you could very well read about the rise of one of its practitioners—Portia Monique. Monique takes R&B and gives it a forward-thinking hip hop edge. She’s blessed with a voice that can be feather light (see the dreamy piano ballad, “Get To Know You,” which was written and recorded in one sitting) or soulful, strong and limber. “Midnight Thoughts” starts with a fluttering beat, then adds layers and layers of vocals and textures, taking the listener through the twists and turns of a restless mind. The mood lightens on the percussive, synthy “I’m Not Your Girl,” where Monique echoes the sentiment of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone.” The girl has talent, and all we can say is, here we are now. Entertain us.

“Midnight Thoughts” – Portia Monique

Breaking Bad

The Worsties

The Worsties play the kind of music that immediately lends itself to dance parties, fisticuffs and other forms of bacchanal. It’s fun, rowdy and isn’t afraid to bite. Which may be why the band has been picked up by shows like The Real World and Bad Girls Club. Led by the feline yowl of Anna Worstell (not far off from Karen O), the Worsties elbow their listeners to the dance floor with new wave, rock and punk that’s stylish and savage. “Party Dress” is straight out of the Motor City circa 1969. Frayed guitars and rock steady drums make for a pent-up rocker that demands you belt it out in unison. Likewise, “XOXO,” is an anthem for bad behavior, made up of thrashing drums and kiss-off guitars. Tightly wound and pressure-cooked, the track is about what happens when you let off a little steam. On “Let’s Go,” you not only get feral dance rock, you also get a spelling lesson. After the sing-a-long chorus Worstell declares, “I just wanna dance all night.” So do we. And so will you.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Amy Winehouse wants live like the bombshell she is

Bad news for Amy Winehouse, but good news for those prone to schadenfreude, the singer’s diaries from when she was 17-years-old were found in a dumpster in London this week. On the teenager’s to do list: buy a flat in London, buy a car, get a gym membership, get teeth fixed, and (ahem) “live like the bombshell I really am.” Well, we’re pretty sure she has a flat.

The Bad

Teena Marie dies

Soul singer Teena Marie died this week in her home at the age of 54. The singer’s cause of death remains unknown, but her publicist stated that she had suffered a grand mal seizure a month ago. Teena Marie, born Mary Christine Brockert, was the protégée of funk legend Rick James, with whom she would go on to have a turbulent personal and professional relationship. In a scene dominated by African American artists, the singer rose to the top of the charts with R&B hits like “Lovergirl” and “Square Biz”—earning her the nickname “The Ivory Queen of Soul.” R.I.P.

Departing Paramore members spill the beans

If you were wondering why Paramore founding members and brothers Josh and Zac Farro left the band this month, wonder no more. In a blog post entitled “Tetelestai” Josh reveals all his reasons, from Hayley Williams’ overbearing dad to unruly bandmates. Some of his points seem valid, a lot seem preachy. Probably the biggest stretch is Farro’s complaint that William’s lyrics in “Careful” (“The truth never set me free so I did it myself”) are “negative” and contradict what it says in the Bible. Thou shalt not be negative, Hayley.

Bob Dylan prankster to pay for pizza prank

After a prankster phoned in an order for 178 pizzas, claiming they were for Bob Dylan, a New Jersey pizzeria found itself left in the lurch to the tune of $3,900. The man who placed the order promised employees a big tip if they stayed open late to make the pizzas—which were supposed to be for an after party for Dylan’s show at the Mullins Center—but never showed up to collect his order. This week the pizzeria reached a settlement with the jerkface. The moral of the story? Don’t mess with Dylan.

The Ugly

Talk about adding insult to injury. Two robbers were arrested in Connecticut this week after they broke into 50 Cent’s home. One of the perpetrators was found in a closet, drinking the rapper’s wine. So much for his theory that you can find them in the club with a bottle full of bub.

Miscellany

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

New Muppets film to feature Lady Gaga, Jack Black, Dave Grohl

Last time we saw the Muppets, they were busy reuniting Gonzo with his alien family in Muppets From Space. Who knows what sort of crazy capers they’ll undertake in the new Muppets movie, currently in production. What we do know is that Jason Segel wrote the script and Dave Grohl, Jack Black, Lady Gaga and Ricky Gervais will all reportedly make an appearance. Grohl will step in for Animal behind the drum kit. No word on what role Gaga will be playing. Our guesses are either Janice’s long lost sister or a Kermit-obsessed version of Buffalo Bill from “Silence of the Lambs.”

Amy Winehouse nets $1.55 million for private concert

Amy Winehouse delivered a two-hour private performance to Russian businessmen—her first full singing gig in two years. The price tag? A cool $1.55 million. One member of the crowd called her performance “fantastic.” They drink a lot of vodka in Russia, right? Just asking.

The Bad

Captain Beefheart dies

Captain Beefheart, an influential icon of the ‘60s psychedelic scene, died from complications of multiple sclerosis this week. He was 69. Beefheart, born Don Van Vliet, garnered attention for the often eccentric, always innovative rock he created with his Magic Band, a rotating roster of musicians. Beefheart spent his later years as a reclusive painter in California. R.I.P.

Kings of Leon’s tour bus catches on fire

Kings of Leon had to cancel their concert at London’s O2 arena on Tuesday after two tour buses caught fire in the loading area of the venue and were burned out completely. Six people were treated for smoke inhalation. No word on the source of the inferno, but reportedly the band’s sex is on fire, so you do the math.

The Ugly

Lady Gaga bites head off Santa

Ozzy Osbourne will forever live in infamy for once biting the head off a bat in concert. Now Lady Gaga has her own tale of stage carnage to add to her legacy. At a show in London last Friday, a fan threw a stuffed Santa Claus doll onto the stage. Gaga responded by biting into its neck while shouting, “I hate the holidays. I’m alone and miserable you fucking stuffed little toy.” After beheading St. Nick with the heel of her shoe, the singer resumed her performance. And that, little children, is how Santa Claus died.

Miscellany

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

T.I. helps talk down jumper in Atlanta

T.I.

T.I.’s getting a head start on the community service he may face for his parole violation last month. The rapper helped police talk down a suicidal jumper from a 22-story high rise in Atlanta on Monday afternoon, arriving on the scene after hearing about the incident on the radio. Using his gift of persuasion (and rhyming?), the rapper was able to coax the man down, who was then taken to the hospital. Moral of the story: Great things can happen when you put down the sizzurp.

American Music Awards nominations announced

Eminem

Slim Shady is poised come home with more trophies than Lady Gaga at this year’s AMAs. Eminem is nominated for five awards along with country act Lady Antebellum. Lady Gaga will have to make do with her Artist of the Year and Best Female Artist nominations. And we will have to make do with our nomination for nothing.

Help determine who will be the winner by casting your vote here:

The Bad

Adam Lambert’s Malaysian concert protested

Adam Lambert

He kissed a boy, and he liked it … but Malaysia didn’t. Pop star Adam Lambert has been asked to alter the content of his upcoming performance in Malaysia amid protests from the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), who claimed the show promotes a “gay lifestyle.” Lambert responded to that claim via Twitter, saying, “Does my show ‘promote the gay lifestyle’? It promotes living ANY lifestyle that includes the freedom to seek love and intimacy. Gay, straight, bi, young or old. It’s all inclusive.” That said, Lambert promised to put his lips on lockdown for the show.

The Ugly

Die Antwoord versus Bristol Palin

In one corner we have South African freak rappers Die Antwoord and their new video for “Evil Boy.” In the other, Bristol Palin in a video by Alaskan hard rock group Static Cycle. What’s creepier—an albino girl in a cloak of rats, or Bristol Palin dressed like a Russian pretending to be Mother Nature? You tell us.

Miscellany

Walking the Line

Alanna Clarke

Years ago, you knew a band was the shit if they played The Peach Pit on 90210. Younger generations had The O.C. as their musical zeitgeist. And the new guys now have the Canadian teen drama Degrassi to tell them who to pay attention to. Alanna Clarke may not have made an appearance on the show herself, but her song “Fine Line” did, and it’s an effective ambassador for the 18-year-old singer. The tremendous pop hook of the chorus alone is enough to send the nearest teenage girl flying to her computer to start downloading. (OK, maybe a 30-something one, too). Clarke’s voice is a gemalternating between lilting and feathery coos and full-throated warbles. “Bedroom Window” is a supple pop number, where strings and pining sighs in the background infuse the tune with adolescent restlessness. “Can’t Turn Around” is just as pretty, but with a darker, bluesy bent, thanks to a low cello moan and some emotive strings. To her credit, Clarke’s able to indulge some of the sugar addiction of her age group, but proves she’s also capable of sophisticated songcraft that’s palatable for geezers like us.

Luck Be A Lady

Whether talent comes from gods in heaven sprinkling it on the chosen few, or from a lucky combination of genetic material, it’s seldom a fair shake. So don’t hold it against sisters Kamille and Kelly Rudisill that they happen to be very good at several things, among them soccer, dance and song. Classically trained with degrees in music, the duo writes, produces and performs their own material under the moniker Karmina. It’s impressive on paper, but more so when you listen to the music. Karmina’s seamless, lustrous harmonies are redolent of Wilson Philips, but updated for a younger, hipper audience. “The Kiss” is fulsome pop, polished to a high-pro glow, but that doesn’t mean the emotion doesn’t come through. Plaintive and restless, the melody tugs at your heart while tickling your id. “Slow Down” is a driving song—layered with soft, lilting harmonies but equally insistent. Karmina is just starting out and the future for any young artist is uncertain. Good news is, they’ve got talent in spades. All they need is a little luck.

Karmina

 


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