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Tag: "rock music"

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Funk Soul Brother

Brandon Kelley

Brandon Kelley grew up the son of a preacher man in the deep South. When he became a musician, he didn’t rebel against his upbringing and dabble in the dark side, nor did he succumb to it entirely and bring piety into play. Instead, Kelley took his love of gospel and joined it in holy union with his pop sensibilities. What you get with Kelley is soulful, catchy rock, not far off from Jason Mraz or James Morrison. “Radio” begins with a plaintive piano before breaking into a torrential chorus that lodges itself in your brain after the first listen. “Don’t Ignore” asks the question we all are wondering: Why are shows like Three’s Company no longer on? Organs, acoustic guitars, an ambling bass and Kelley’s drawled, soulful vocals make for an easy, amiable tune. For funkier, Maroon 5-ish fodder, skip to “What I Need” where a shuddering organ, wah-wah guitars and percolating bass build a monster groove. Expect big things from this artist. We do.

Under the Sea

Squid

When something’s amiss, different species respond in different ways. Squids, for instance, release plumes of ink. In that regard, they’re not unlike your average human, expressing feeling through pen on paper. And there you have the etymology of the band Squid. Based in Tel Aviv, Squid crafts quixotic rock full of imagery and emotion. “Quicksand” is soft and swaying, lulling the listener with hoary tales of knights, maidens and dragons. “Free” brings a flute into the mix, joining bass and guitars for a turbulent flight into the night. The romance is finally broken with “Junky”—a hypnotic, psychedelic groove—and “Not Used To,” where the band channels their inner Nine Inch Nails for darker electro-rock. Searing guitar peals and clanging digital textures create a primal, ominous landscape. Put it this way, if a squid heard it, ink would be spilled.


The Aviators

Those Mockingbirds

We all know, thanks to Atticus Finch, that certain birds should never be silenced. Listen to the music of Those Mockingbirds and you’ll be inclined to agree. The New Jersey band’s wingspan covers orchestral rock to jarring post-punk, and it’s all effing brilliant. Likeminded brethren of Silversun Pickups, Those Mockingbirds provide plenty of theater in their music. Start with “The Deer and the Derrick” where a guttural bass line sounds a low warning before the music breaks into shimmering waves of indie pop. When the guitar and violin lock horns on the bridge, it’s nothing short of thrilling. “We Are the Antidote” is a driving, angular rocker that unfolds in parts: Act I is an elegy; Act II a war. Fans of discordant post-punk will love the frenetic swagger of “Honest? Honest.” Then there’s the band’s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”— faithful to the original, but singers Adam Bird and Tory Daines make a sweeter pair of voices. When the coda arrives, brace yourselves. Those Mockingbirds kill it.

Meow Mix

Kirsten Price

Kirsten Price has lent her voice to ad campaigns for Coke, Campbell’s and Clinique; and has been picked up by networks like CBS, Showtime and MTV for their programming. We’ll give it to the big guys; they got it right. Price seems destined for the upper strata of popular music—her melodies are expertly wrought and impeccably produced. “With or Without You” kicks off with mock-theatric synths, giving way to electric guitar lashes and percolating beats. Think Evanescence’s “Going Under,” but fronted by a smoky chanteuse. “Moving On” is gorgeously layered balladry, with Price’s soulful voice spiraling across swells of synths, guitars and drums. If you’d rather dance than mope, skip to the disco perfection of “Take Me To the Top.” Our favorite, however, is “Give That Girl.” Price’s feathery vocals are like tendrils that curl around each word, tugging you into the mix. It’s feline, minxy and totally provocative pop. Give that girl a round of applause.

Ch-Ch-Changes

Kiven

If you had to distill Kiven down to a one-liner, you could say they create stylish, highly technical rock for short attention spans. You’re lucky to get more than a few measures of the same melody before it changes completely. Like on “Frigid Stars,” which begins as spacious and glacial then suddenly jolts into a turbulent maelstrom of fuzzed guitars, crashing cymbals and muffled shouts. “Giving Rights” is just as protean, the percussion taking off at a breathless gallop, leading the listener through angled guitars, strident vocals and ever-shifting soundscapes. “What I’m Looking For” begins as a soft trot with a flute that makes the track sound almost Celtic. But just as soon as it begins, the march is over and you’re catapulted into a metal quagmire of drone guitars and fitful drums. Not your style? No worries—the next part may be. And it’s only seconds away.

Dancefloor Coup d’Etat

Slutterhouse

Tension’s a funny thing. Too much of it can be explosive. Too little can be boring. Slutterhouse navigate tension like a tightrope walker, always aware of the potential for disaster but never wavering from their goal. The duo is made up of Rabih Mick Salloum and Nabil Saliba, two Parisians by way of Beirut. Musically their DNA seems more linked to Depeche Mode and Crystal Castles. Underground electronica careens and crashes into mainstream club music, yielding songs like “French Robot Leuve,” where watery digital droplets and beeps provide the backdrop for the monotone ramblings of a bionic man. Good stuff. “Made In Dane” begins like an early ‘80s Madonna single, then takes a flying leap into future with diaphanous washes, pops and crackles and some serious sexy talk. Salloum’s incantation on the chorus, “Darling, won’t you dance?” can serve as the overarching mantra for Slutterhouse. If they build a beat, you have no choice but to follow them to the dance floor.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Kanye’s “Monster” gets the Muppets treatment

Watching the Muppets rap Kanye West’s “Monster” is both hilarious and distressing. Count Von Count opening with “Bitch I’m a monster / No good bloodsucker” is entirely apropos, but then when Beaker delivers the line about the you-know-what in a sarcophagus you can almost feel your entire childhood imploding. Watch at your own risk.

Josh Groban sings Kanye’s tweets

It’s a very Kanye Friday everyone. Before you cry “Enough!” be sure to watch this one last clip. GRAMMY-winning singer Josh Groban put all of Mr. West’s tweets to music for a bit on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. If you thought they sounded ridiculous in cyberspace, just wait. Our favorite aria has to be “I make awesome decisions in bike stores.” Find out what yours is by watching the clip below.

Love is in the air … so is anti-love

The celebrity musician zeitgeist got a workout this week with multiple hook-ups and break-ups. In one corner we have Kelly Pickler and Carlos Santana getting hitched (not to each other) and Selena Gomez getting with the Biebs. In the other corner, John Mellencamp announced his divorce from Elaine Irwin and Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal split. Love wins by a hair (a Bieber hair, the most powerful kind).

The Bad

Chuck Berry collapses onstage during Chicago concert

Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry collapsed onstage in Chicago on New Year’s Day as his guitar was being tuned before the show started. After being rushed off stage, the 84-year-old legend returned 15 minutes later and tried to pick up his guitar to play. A man approached Berry and escorted him back offstage. Finally Berry returned to apologize to fans for being too weak to perform. “They’re afraid I’ll do my scoot,” he explained. Berry’s rep later reported that the singer was suffering from exhaustion.

The Ugly

Will Oldham attacks Bill and Melinda Gates Charity Foundation

Will Oldham

Bonnie Prince Billy wasn’t so bonny in an interview with Fogged Clarity this week. The man behind the alternative folk act, Will Oldham, had a lot to say about the ulterior motives behind Mr. and Mrs. Gates charity efforts. His take on Bill Gates thought process went thusly: “I want to eradicate cholera, so I can get another motherfucker to buy my computer.” We’re not sure that third-world kids will be rushing to the nearest Best Buy to buy a Dell, but what do we know?

Courtney Love’s tweets lead to defamation lawsuit

Courtney Love

After Courtney Love was asked to pay up for custom clothing made for her by designer Dawn Simorangkir, the singer reacted with her characteristic grace, calling the designer a “drug-pushing prostitute” on her Twitter page. Now Love is being sued for defamation of character. The trial is set for February. Hope one of those bespoke garments is proper courtroom attire.

Miscellany

What A Feeling

Sullivan Street

Green Point is a small town north of Sydney on the east coast of Oz. Though it may be separated from the US by thousands of miles of ocean, there’s plenty of cultural cross-pollination. Sullivan Street hails from Green Point, but to listen to them, you’d think they grew up stateside on a diet of Matchbox Twenty and Counting Crows. Led by half-brothers Liam Whan and Evan Long, the group churns out panging pop rock, heavy with heart. “Bleeding” begins with a rainfall of piano reminiscent of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” before swelling to pure pop catharsis. It’s a song that would be perfect for a sad scene from an MTV reality series. Sullivan Street aren’t ones to shy away from feelings. Case in point: “Don’t Let Me Down”—a dreamy pop ballad that works itself up to a lachrymose chorus. If all that emotion wears you out, skip to “Different,” a jangling pop rocker that sounds like Matchbox Twenty’s “3 AM,” only from down under. Otherwise, enjoy the sentiment.

Hear Me Roar

Dilana

If the reality show Rock Star: Supernova succeeded in anything, it wasn’t reviving the careers of Motley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke and Metallica bassist Jason Newsted. Instead, it brought some fresh new talent to light, specifically contestants Ryan Star and Dilana Robichaux. Star went on to sign a deal with Atlantic Records after the show, while Dilana, who came in second place in the competition, released her first full-length in nine years on Kabunk Records. Calling to mind both Melissa Etheridge and Linda Perry, the South African singer’s calling card is her tremendous voice. “The Question” kicks up a dust storm of her bluesy, muscular vocals and yowling guitars that dart in and out of the tempest. “My Drug” is a whip-smart rocker about the darker side of love and devotion. “If I give my heart to you, keep it beating,” she warns as guitars lash across the melody. Dilana is tough enough to go up against the rock boys, as she’s already proven. But beneath all the smoke and grit is a softer side that can easily bruise. The elegiac “Still Wanting” and symphonic “Falling Apart” show that the singer can keen just as intensely as she can roar.

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

 


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