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Contemporary Music (The Guardian)
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(Jagjaguwar). Since her last album - 2014's Are We There - Sharon Van Etten has dropped off music's radar. She studied counselling, prompted by fans who have turned to this intense singer-songwriter in distress.
(Jazz Village). The title track of Leyla McCalla's third album shows the 33-year-old singer and multi-instrumentalist is not fooling around. Born in New York to Haitian parents, McCalla's previous two records have referenced the 1920s Harlem poet Langston Hughes and the diaspora of American folk she first explored with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, also the alma mater of sister-in-arms Rhiannon Giddens.
Royal Opera House, LondonA relentlessly heavy-handed concept can't detract from the glorious music-making in Royal Opera's The Queen of Spades Maddening yet spectacular, prickling with insight but oh so laboured in execution, Stefan Herheim's new staging of The Queen of Spades (1890) at the Royal Opera House pounds Tchaikovsky's late masterpiece to a pulp as if resolved to break down its very enzymes. That's Herheim's habit, though he may not describe it that way. If you saw the Norwegian director's Pellas et Mlisande at Glyndebourne, or his La Cenerentola in Edinburgh, or his Les vpres siciliennes at the ROH, you will know he cannot resist a concept, the bigger the better.
A love letter to his partner brimming with guest spots and west-coast vibes, James Blake's fourth LP is a long way from his 'blubstep' roots It's not hard to see why someone might fall in love with Jameela Jamil - the star around which James Blake's fourth album, Assume Form, orbits. The character Jamil plays on NBC's The Good Place gets called things like sexy skyscraper (and sexy giraffe, and a hot rich fraud with legs for days). Jamil's penthouse suite is well furnished too.
This Sheffield trio make invigorating synthpop for difficult times When times are hard for Britain, Sheffield produces brilliant electronic pop groups. The Human League in the 80s, Moloko in the early 90s and now International Teachers of Pop, arriving ready for Brexit with a dazzling debut album and tour. They first appeared last summer with minor-key synthpop epic Age of the Train, which they described as Northern Rail-baiting nerd disco.
Musicians ordered to preserve evidence related to a tweet by Musk that shareholder plaintiffs claim caused financial losses to Tesla The US district court of northern California has granted a motion to subpoena the musicians Grimes (AKA Claire Boucher) and Azealia Banks in the ongoing lawsuit against Tesla founder Elon Musk brought by a group of the company's shareholders. Additional subpoenas will be served against the publications Business Insider, the New York Times and tech website Gizmodo. The subpoenas will instruct the parties to preserve certain documents, including Twitter and Instagram messages and other potential evidence relating to the lawsuit, which the filing argues are highly subject to deletion.
The Garage, GlasgowThe pop-country duo charm a lustful crowd with an evangelical hour of skywritten love songs and falsetto floor-fillers On the launch night of Celtic Connections, Glasgow's remarkable annual festival of roots music, a rival hoedown has completely sold out a local nightclub. Valiant pop-country princes Dan + Shay - AKA young songwriting duo Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney - may not yet be familiar names in the UK, but their strident, soaring take on the modern Nashville style has seen them continuously level up in the US. The release of their self-titled third album and its breakout track Tequila last year seemed to be a tipping point: they brought in 2019 by guesting on beloved TV institution Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve and will celebrate their two recent Grammy nominations by playing the awards ceremony next month, sharing a bill with Post Malone and Cardi B.
(Capitol Records) Maggie Rogers' career has been buoyed by one song: Alaska, released in October 2016 after a clip of Pharrell Williams being bowled over by it went viral. Since then, Rogers has amassed three million monthly listeners on Spotify, done well-received live shows, and performed on Saturday Night Live, all with only an EP (and Bandcamp juvenilia) to her name. Now her debut album is here.
(Carpark Records) It's 10 years since the dawn of chillwave, the music scene that looked at synthpop, soft rock, reggae and more through a rose-tinted kaleidoscope while contemplating the day's first craft IPA. Was its supremely unbothered demeanour the product of a time of relative harmony, or the only reasonable reaction to a banking crisis and recession: a music that turned from a future on fire to the softer warmth of the past? Anyway, the Brooklyn hipster culture that birthed it became the mainstream, most of the scene's players presumably got bored and started cold-brew coffee startups, and the world got steadily worse. Continue reading.
(Edition)Lockheart hitches a jazz group to a classical orchestra for this fine, ambitious recording For a musician to have been in at the birth of one of the most vivaciously untrammelled big jazz ensembles ever formed in the UK could have been happenstance. That he did so again with a small group that stretched jazz's comfort zones enough to be nominated for a Mobo award once and a Mercury prize twice, was hard evidence that the saxophonist/composer Mark Lockheart - a co-founder of the revolutionary big band Loose Tubes in 1984, and the genre-fluid Polar Bear 20 years later - has long had more than luck on his side. Lockheart's laconically Wayne Shorter-ish sax sound, and influences including Duke Ellington, Gil Evans and Burt Bacharach as well as his Loose Tubes and Polar Bear alumni, have brought him now to the most ambitious recording of his two decades as a leader.
As the band prepare to release their first new studio album in 13 years, we rate all their UK singles - from 1960s mod chaos to majestic rock opera Pinball Wizard-ish guitars decorated the first single from 1982's reviled It's Hard, but this is haunted by the sense that the Who were running out of steam. There is not much of a song behind them, and - with respect to Kenney Jones, handed perhaps the least enviable gig in rock - an audible Keith Moon-shaped hole in the rhythm track. Continue reading.
Women have accused the singer of sexual abuse for decades. So why are they only being listened to now? Blame misogyny and racism - but also the potency of his music Yo, Pac! You can almost feel the spittle as Gary Oldman launches into his soliloquy. It is 2012, and he is performing in a skit on Jimmy Kimmel's US talkshow, reciting from R Kelly's autobiography with the plummy majesty he later brought to the role of Churchill.
Blake is clearly in a good place, unexpectedly embedded at the centre of pop culture, and his new album adds bright colours to his sound It feels strange now to recall a time when James Blake's elevation from underground post-dubstep auteur to hotly-tipped mainstream artist seemed like the result of a clerical error. It was hard not to be impressed by his eponymous 2011 debut album, but it was equally hard not to wonder whether this really was the stuff of which silver medals in the BBC Sound of poll and spots on the Radio 1 A-list were made. If you listened to its sparse, abstract, deeply uncommercial assemblages of treated vocals, electronics and piano, there was something very odd indeed about his name being mentioned in the same breath as Jessie J.
Brixton Academy, LondonWith ambient passages aplenty and next to none of his old favourites, the chart-topper became joyless and closed-off At what point did Ben Howard decide It's All About the Music? Probably at some point early in his career - in 2012 or 2013, perhaps, when the amiable single Only Love seemed to be everywhere, and he was typecast in the thankless role of Devonian-surfer-who-sings-folksy-love-songs. Maybe the 329th time he heard it playing over the PA in a motorway service station stiffened his resolve to be less like Tom Odell and more like Thom Yorke. Certainly, there is a hefty dose of It's All About the Music at the first of four big sold-out London shows.
Born Teresa Ryan, Doom was a key part of the band who helped shape the sound of hardcore punk Lorna Doom, the bassist with cult Los Angeles punk band Germs, has died. Born Teresa Ryan, her age and cause of death is unknown, her death made public when the band's drummer Don Bolles posted on Facebook: She left this mortal coil today [Wednesday] around 1. Tributes have been paid by punk musician Laura Jane Grace, who tweeted: I can still see the 'Germs burn' on my wrist from when I was 14 years old.
Musician reportedly faces eviction from building amid complaints that people are living there, violating zoning rules Chicago city inspectors raided R Kelly's warehouse recording studio on the city's Near West Side on Wednesday, looking for possible building code violations. City inspectors observed building code violations, including evidence the space had been used as a residency, though the building is not zoned for residential use, the building department said. Inspectors also found evidence of work performed without approved plans or permits.
In Instagram post from inside car, house music pioneer says police confronted him in his own backyard In a video posted to his Instagram, the Detroit DJ Moodymann captured what appears to be a confrontation with aggressive police. The clip begins with Moodymann, whose real name is Kenny Dixon Jr, filming from inside his car as police surrounded the vehicle, rifles pointed at him. Unlock the door now, one of the officers screams in the video posted on Tuesday, which has since been removed.
Pop star accuses Ronald Fenty of damaging her beauty brand with his company Fenty Entertainment Rihanna has filed a lawsuit against her father, Ronald Fenty, in a dispute over the use of the Fenty name by their respective companies. The pop superstar has had huge success in recent years with her label Fenty, selling cosmetics, lingerie and, in collaboration with Puma, sportswear. Ronald Fenty has also used the family name in his company Fenty Entertainment, which in his words is dedicated to developing original television programmes, motion pictures, live concerts, and record producing as well as talent.
It has comforted the downtrodden, inspired Britain's schoolchildren and even been sprayed as graffiti. Now, the book has shifted shape again - into music It felt like the folk music equivalent of Avengers Assemble. Last September, I found myself sitting at a wooden dining table in the Lake District with multiple superheroes of British folk.
Namibian-German artist Max Siedentopf set up an installation of six speakers that play Africa by Toto on an infinite loop in an undisclosed spot Somewhere amid the sand dunes of the world's oldest desert croons a soft voice: It's gonna take a lot to take me away from you. The voice belongs to the American band Toto, whose hit song Africa has been indefinitely tethered to an undisclosed spot in the Namib coastal desert thanks to Namibian-German artist Max Siedentopf. Continue reading.