Tag Archives: PopMatters

Lekman New EP – Albarn in Africa – Commonplace Country

21 Jul

I have been so caught up with my exploration of new talent that I have not posted a version of Music News since July 4, 17 days ago. Some probably thought that I was nixing the entire category. Nope, not quite, perhaps scaling back a bit, but not destroying it as a whole. I still want to provide my take on a few music-related items from the news. Let’s get to it.

Jens Lekman Will Release New EP

It may be safe to say that many readers do not know of 30-year-old Swedish musician Jens Lekman and that is definitely a shame. His blend of old pop, witty lyric and sampled strings/sounds is endearing. While he has only released two full-length LPs, he has released numerous EPs and he will add to his EP list this September with his five-song An Argument With Myself.

Lekman consistently receives good reviews from music writers because his style and voice are infectious. This will be his first release in four years. I’m excited. I have only recently gotten into Lekman, but his style of pop is refreshing. I’d certainly urge you readers to take a listen to Lekman’s music. It is not for everyone, but at least you can appreciate its creativity. Take a listen to “Waiting For Kirsten,” a track off of the upcoming EP. (The song starts at 2:50)

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Damon Albarn to Record New Record in Africa

Blur/Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn has announced he will record a new album in the Republic of Congo. Gorillaz can meet some actual gorillas. He intends to record the album in a week without contracting malaria or being mauled by…a gorilla. Okay, I added that last part. Joining him on this African album safari are Kwes, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Franz Ferdinand producer Dan The Automator, hip-hop producer Jneiro Jarel, XL Recordings boss Richard Russell, Actress, Marc Antoine and Jo Gunton.

Currently, Albarn is performing in Doctor Dee, an opera he wrote.

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Is Country Music Leveling Out?

Dave Heaton of PopMatters wrote an article yesterday about the lack of major country music released this year. In the article, he claims that Country music, like Hollywood, is recycling old material.

“For the first half of the year, the #1 country songs in Billboard’s charts were from 2010, or older, like Miranda Lambert’s “Heart Like Mine”, from her 2009 album Revolution,” he writes. “The #1 country albums were from last year – by Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift, Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts – with only a couple of relatively well-known groups releasing albums this year that made the charts (Sara Evans and Thompson Square, for example). By June we did have new albums from Brad Paisley, Ronnie Dunn and Dolly Parton, and more big-ish albums are on the way this summer… but still, the pickings have been slim.”

The article poses the question, what has happened to country music this year? Why is there a lack quality, new releases for listeners to enjoy? Country itself is a limited genre. What I mean by that is there are only so many changes you can make to a country song to make it original. Eventually, when paired with a lack of creativity, this all leads to a stall in quality releases. I am not implying that today’s country stars are untalented. Currently, they are leaning on old material and popular tours. The releases this year have been hokey and tired. Will this improve? The simple answer is yes. I do not believe Country music is leveling out, but rather taking a break.

Look at American Idol this past season. The winner and runner-up were both Country performers. And since winner Scotty McCreery’s attempts at singing any non-Country song were embarrassing, he perpetuated the message and sound of Country each and every week. And, he won. America loves it’s Country music. If you took a poll it would most likely be considered the “National” sound, which is slightly scary, but true. Country followers are loyal to their music and since there will always be a market, the talent will refresh itself constantly.

Read the article

Becoming Jimi Hendrix and a Song for the Road

18 Oct

I have probably exhausted every photo of Mr. Jimi Hendrix that Google images has to offer. But, I can’t help it. It is hard not to write about perhaps the greatest guitarist of all time. Well, in my opinion, he is the greatest. But, what’s the sense of sparking arguments. HE’S THE BEST!

But, seriously, Jimi has not been with us on the physical Earth realm (sounds like a cliche video game) for 40 years, but he still lives on as an indelible musical presence. He is a rare music immortal, a mark in the history books one could say. Well, I am saying it. I know two people agree with me.

Steve Roby and Brad Schreiber published Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius in August of this year. The book is a magnificent read and it provides a well-written, entertaining look at one of music’s greatest. It is the essential inside look at Jimi Hendrix.

PopMatters was kind enough to post an excerpt from this wonderful book and I would like to share it with all of you.

One rainy night, Private Billy Cox and a friend, after seeing a John Wayne movie, waited for the downpour to ebb. Through an open win¬dow of Service Club 1, Cox heard a solo guitar played in a wildly unique manner. He later claimed it was as if Beethoven and John Lee Hooker had merged.

“It was something the human ear hadn’t heard,” Cox reported. “I said, ‘That’s incredible!’ And the guy I was with said, ‘Sounds like shit to me.’ I went in and introduced myself to him and said I played a little upright bass, and I checked out the Danelectro he was playing.”

Boy, Jimi Hendrix was awesome.

Read the rest of the article here: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/129823-becoming-jimi-hendrix-from-southern-crossroads-to-psychedelic-london/

Let me also give you all a good song for the road. I know this is a repeat, but, I am in the guitar mood. “Bridge of Sighs” by Robin Trower is an epic piece of music. A 10 minute live version is just heavenly.

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