Showing posts with label The Roots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Roots. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

You Breathing to the Choir That Prayer's the Drug Game

Having a day job apparently has upped the productivity of The Roots. Since becoming Jimmy Fallon’s house band five years ago, the group has released six albums which includes duet albums with John Legend, Betty Wright, and last year’s Wise Up Ghost with Elvis Costello (and people that the Lou Reed / Metallica pairing was odd). More surprising than the output is that spending their days with the annoyingly chipper Fallon has gotten increasingly moody.

The Roots never were a party group, always focusing on the underbelly of hip-hop but 2010’s How I Got Over saw them collaborate with indie artists like Dirty Projectors, Joanna Newsom and repurposed the Monsters of Folk song Dear God. That was followed by undun, a concept album about the life of an urban youth told in reverse chronological. Now the band is back with ...and then you shoot your cousin and with a tite like that, you can guess no one will ever pick one of these songs in a lip sync battle with Fallon anytime soon.

The new album is another concept album, but much looser than the last but still touching on recurring themes like urban plight and thoughts on God with a soundtrack more foreboding than the previous album. After a Nina Simone song plays, the album starts up with a haunting choir on Never setting mood very well for what is to come. That is followed by When the People Cheer which sounds like old school The Roots. Black Rock hit like classic nineties rap, taking back the genre from the hip-pop that has littered the radio over the past decade.

Understand follows Dear God to church, this time with gospel type organs that shakes the pew and features the chorus, “People ask for God, 'till the day he comes. See God’s face; turn around and run. God sees the face of a man. Shaking his head, says ‘he'll never understand’” As moody as the album gets, it does end with the hopeful Tomorrow which even open up with some whistling which you can also find yourself smiling during. The song is a satisfying ending to maybe the tightest album the band has produced yet.

Song to Download - Understand

...and then you shoot your cousin gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Monday, May 19, 2014

I Want My Music Television: 5/19/14

There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I thought I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.

Part II (On the Run) – Jay-Z featuring Beyoncé

Okay this is less a music video for the Jay-Z song and more a teaser for the upcoming Jay-Z / Beyoncé summer tour. And for those that did not stick around for the end, the movie is “coming never” but I actually enjoyed the generic trailer if just for Rashida Jones and Kat Dennings as a police officer. Oh, wait, that was Emmy Rossum? Ooops.

Understand – The Roots featuring Dice Raw and Greg Porn

I do not sure if it is true or not, but I am just going to go ahead and believe the latest The Roots music video is an homage to two great 80’s videos Rockit by Herbie Handcock and Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel.

Appreciate – Paul McCartney

So the I, Robot robots really do take over the world and then create own Night at the Museum scenario with Paul McCartney.

We Exist – Arcade Fire

So in the last month, Spider Man has dressed in drag for Arcade Fire and made out with Chris Martin… is he trying to say something? I hope he is trying to say Gwen Stacey is available, I personally would be happy to take her off his hands. I hope he is not saying he wants to star in a Flashdance remake even if he’s about a good a dancer as Jennifer Beals. But if it did happen, who should sing the theme song? Keeping with the gender bending theme maybe Ed Sheeran.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The 25 Best Live Performances of 2013

I have linked the YouTube videos where available and click the iTunes badge to buy the performance where available.

1. The Weight – Elton John, Zac Brown Band, Mavis Staples, Mumford and Sons, Alabama Shakes, and T-Bone Burnett (2013 Grammy Awards)

2. Ignition (Remix) – R Kelly and Phoenix (Coachella)

3. Lonely Boy – The Black Keys, Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (2013 Grammy Awards)

4. I Will Wait – Mumford and Sons (2013 Grammy Awards)

5. Medley – Beyonce (Super Bowl)

6. Ain’t No Sunshine – Keith Urban and Miguel (2014 Grammy Nomination Special)

7. Locked Out of Heaven / Walking on the Moon / Could You Be Loved – Bruno Mars, Sting, Rihanna, Ziggy and Damien Marley (2013 Grammy Awards)

8. The Scientist – Holly Henry (The Voice)

9. Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke, Jimmy Fallon, and the Roots (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)

10. Royals – Lorde (2014 Grammy Nomination Special)

11. Bottom of the River – Vocal Rush (The Sing-Off)

12. Put Your Records On – Danielle Bradbery and Caroline Glaser (The Voice)

13. Strong Enough – Haim and Lorde (VH1 You Oughta Know Concert)

14. Love Interruption / Freedom at 21 – Jack White (2013 Grammy Awards)

15. With a Little Help from My Friends – Mumford and Sons and Friends (Glastonbury)

16. Follow You Arrow – Kacey Musgraves (2014 CMA Awards)

17. Folsom Prison Blues – Midas Whale (The Voice)

18. Forrest Gump – Frank Ocean (2013 Grammy Awards)

19. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Jack Johnson and the Roots (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)

20. The A-Team – Ed Sheeran and Elton John (2013 Grammy Awards)

21. Tiny Dancer – Caroline Glaser (The Voice)

22. What Makes You Beautiful – Street Corner Renaissance (The Sing-Off)

23. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift (2013 Grammy Awards)

24. Gravity – Ryan Innes (The Voice)

25. My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘em Up) – Vocal Rush (The Sing-Off)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Musings from the Back 9: Music Edition XVII

It is easy to write off Jack Johnson as a modern day hippie or the beach bum equivalent of a beach bum, who is so mellow he can gets lampooned by Andy Sandberg on The Mellow Show sketch on Saturday Night Live. Sure Johnson got his revenge on Samberg in the hilarious At or with Me music video. If you have already dismissed Johnson, his latest From Here to Now to You is not going to change your mind as it is filled with another batch of sleepy acoustic song. Of course if you own all or most of his previous catalogue, you will be happy to know that the new album is filled with even more sleepy acoustic songs to play in the early evening be it around a bonfire on the beach or in your landlocked back yard.

From Her to Now to You gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

I usually start off my reviews for new albums from The Roots by saying how I thought their album releases would become far and few in between after signing on as Jimmy Fallon’s house band for Late Night, but this is actually their fifth album since taking the gig in 2009 (and there could be a sixth one coming as soon as later this year). Wise Up Ghost is their second collaborative album, but where the soul classic cover album with John Legend made sense, most people had to do a double take when it was announced they would do one with Elvis Costello. Wise Up Ghost (of which the title track is the best song on the album) continues the experimental sounds of Undun mixed with Costello’s voice and lyrics about urban decay. The combination is as weird as you would expect, but it will take many more listens before I decide if it is a good weird or a bad weird. Check back in December when I do my list of the best albums of the year to see where Wise Up Ghost lands to see where it falls.

Wise Up Ghost gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on Terror Alert Scale.

A year before Kimbra and two years before Lorde stormed the American charts all the way from New Zealand; fellow kiwis The Naked and Famous released their ultra catchy indie-pop anthem Young Blood that should have been as big as Somebody That I Used to Know and Royals. But now that their countrywomen pushed opened the door they cracked for them, The Naked and Famous are poised for their breakout moment. Except there is nothing as intrinsically catchy on their sophomore album In Rolling Waves like Young Blood from their debut. The closest is first single Hearts Like Ours which comes off like a more mature and pensive version of Young Blood. But overall the new album is just missing some punch.

In Rolling Waves gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Ten Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 2013

It has been an abysmal year for music. In the first eight months there were only four marquee albums released by Daft Punk, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, and Jay-Z. Except Yeezus bombed, Magna Carta... Holy Grail and The 20/20 Experience will probably end up being the two best selling albums of the year but were still disappointing, and Random Access Memories has yet to garner a second hit. Just think that the next biggest release this year was the Fall Out Boy comeback. Was anyone even hoping for a Fall Out Boy reunion twelve months ago?

What is worse, the music industry has yet to create a breakout artist this year. Just think back to this time last year when Gotye, Fun., and Carley Rae Jepsen all had massive hits while The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men were still building steam. The closest thing the music industry has to a breakout star this year is Anna kendrick. No shots at Cups because it is extremely catchy but it is sad that an acapella song by an actress from movie released in December of last year is still hovering around the iTunes top ten in September. With that said, I really hope Anna capitalizes on the success and goes into the studio to create a full version of No Diggity. At any rate, rumors are there is a Pitch Perfect Christmas album coming our way this winter.

Yeah the year in music has been extremely bad this year, but hold off declaring that 2013 has overtaken 1999 as the worst year in music ever. Usually it is hard for me to come up with five albums to make up my Most Anticipated Albums list each quarter, but this Fall I could have easily come up with a top twenty this time around and that is not even using the albums that are just rumored to be coming out sometime in the next four months like U2 and The Black Keys. Although I hope all of those marquee albums named in the TBA category hold off their albums until early next year so 2014 does not start off as abysmal as this year. Here are some albums that are scheduled to come out over the next four months. Click on the album title or art to pre-order on Amazon and the artists name to go to their iTunes page.

1. Magpies and DandelionsThe Avett Brothers (October 15): After putting out steller folk albums on their own, The Avett Brothers hooked up with uber-producer Rick Rubin for their best album to date, I and Love and You four years ago. Just last year, they collaborated again for another good album The Carpenter. So my hopes are high when they hooked up for the third time with a new batch of songs recorded during The Carpenter sessions.

2. Wise Up GhostElvis Costello & The Roots (Tomorrow): When The Roots signed up as The Late Night house band, I thought it was slow down their output, but they have managed to put out as much, if not more music than ever. And it has opened them up to unexpected collaborations, The Dirty Projectors, Jim James, and Joanna Newsome have appeared on their albums and The Roots did a whole album with John Legend. And now maybe their weirdest collaboration yet with Elvis Costello. And like the previously mentioned collaborations, this one weirdly works.

3. Pure HeroinePure Heroine - Lorde (September 30): If you had at the start of the year a sixteen year old from New Zealand who spouts anti-materialism anthems as the breakout star of 2013, you would be raking it in right now. And while Miley is off twerking, Lada Gaga is trying to hard to be shocking, Katy is recycling songs, and Britney trying too use profanities again to jump start her career, the pop world really needs Lorde right now. Her five song EP was great and though Royals will pop up on the full length debut everything she has done so far has been great. Seriously, she even made a song off of Yeezus listenable.

4. From Here to Now to YouJack Johnson (Tomorrow): At this point, Jack is not changing anyone's mind, and the new album will not be changing anyone's mind. But if you are already on the Jack Johnson bandwagon (like me, I own all of his albums), he has put together another set of songs that will help you remember the summer as the days start getting shorter.

5. Days Are GoneHaim (September 30): This fall is so jammed packed with music, the two highest profiled debuts arrive on the same day (not so coincidentally, I believe this is the last day to be eligible for the 2014 Grammy Award which is why so much music is being released on a Monday instead of the usual Tuesday; and Haim and Lorde are pretty much a lock for Best New Artist along with Kacey Musgraves with the other two slots taken by Capital Cities and... um... could Anna Kendrick really get the last spot? Actually the Grammys will probably not realize 2 Chainz has been around for a decade and give him the final spot). Like Lorde, Haim put out a solid EP which mixed southern California pop with nineties RnB and somehow makes it sound awesome. Listening to Heartache Tonight biting first single, their full length debut will be more of the same (but unlike Lorde, much of their EP shows up on Days Gone By).

6. Lightning Bolt Pearl Jam (October 14): After some unremarkable albums durning the late ninties to the early 00's, Pearl Jam has had a bit of resurgence with their last two album. They go full agro on first single Mind Your Manners which brings up memories of Spin the Black Circle off their best album. Here is hoping Lightning Blt turns out to be their best album yet, or at the very least the best since Vitology.

7. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 - Eminem (November 5): I cannot say I have ever anticipated an Eninem album, but that all chanced with the release of Berserk and word that the album is being co-produced by Rick Rubin and Dr. Dre. As you can tell by the cameo in the video Rubin was responsible for the beat, the first he has done since 99 Problems a decade ago (both sample a Billy Squire which make me wonder if Rubin will try to resurrect his career Johnny Cash style in the near future). No word of Eminem goes full retro on the whole album, but I certainly hope so.

8. NewPaul McCartney (October 15): Another artist I usually do not get too excited for, because aside from Spies Like Us, is there any other solo songs from Paul McCartney to get excited about? But for his next album, the former Beatles has teamed up with probably the best new producer of the past decade, Mark Ronson whose retro soul style helped launch the careers of Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, and Adele.

9. Speak a Little Louder - Diane Birch (October 15): As Ronson ushered in a new age of retro female British singers, American Diane Birch was unfortunately ignore with her retro leaning debut Bible Belt which was one of my favorite debuts from last decade. From what I have heard, the follow up is a bit darker with influences from eighties shoe-gazers. Hopefully the whole album is as good as the first one.

10. To All the Girls… - Willie Nelson (October 15): Willie Nelson is jumping on the duets bandwagon, but as the title suggests, he is just singing with his favorite ladies including featuring Dolly Parton, Mavis Staples, Sheryl Crow, Loretta Lynn, Wynonna Judd, Rosanne Cash, Alison Krauss, Miranda Lambert, Tina Rose, Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Secret Sisters, Brandi Carlile, Lily Meola, Shelby Lynne, Melonie Cannon, and Paula Nelson.

I put together a Spotify playlist of the first singles off of the albums listed above which you can listen to at right while you peruse seventy other albums coming out this fall that should at the very least be worth a spin on Spotify.

Last Week
The Electric LadyJanelle Monáe
AMArctic Monkeys
Feels Like HomeSheryl Crow
Kiss LandThe Weeknd
B.O.A.T.S. 2# Metime2 Chainz
DynamicsHoly Ghost!
Now, Then and ForeverEarth, Wind and Fire
Say That to Say ThisTrombone Shorty
Sound System - The Clash

New ConstellationToad the Wet Sprocket
In Rolling WavesThe Naked and Famous
Spreading Rumours - Grouplove
Battle Maximus - GWAR
BookmarksFive for Fighting
Sun Will Rise – Animal Years

September 24

Mechanical Bull – Kings of Leon
The Diving BoardElton John
The Last Ship - Sting
Seasons Of Your DayMazzy Star
Build Me Up From BonesSarah Jarosz
NegativityDeer Tick
Bones of What You BelieveCHVRCHES
WishboneOh Land
Shout! - Gov't Mule
Sammy Hagar and FriendsSammy Hagar
My Brothers KeeperK-Ci and JoJo
Metallica Through The Never (Music From The Motion Picture)
In Utero (3CD+DVD Super Deluxe Edition)Nirvana

October 1
VIIBlitzen Trapper
Blur the Line – Those Darlins
B-RoomDr. Dog
I'll Find A WayThe Blind Boys of Alabama
UnvarnishedJoan Jett and The Blackhearts
Lucky Numbers - Dave Stewart

October 8
Back to ForeverLissie
Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of SongAmos Lee
Bitter RivalsSleigh Bells
Tin StarLindi Ortega
You Can't Make Old Friends - Kenny Rogers
Frame By FrameCassadee Pope
High RiseStone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington
MelophobiaCage the Elephant
My Name Is MyPusha T

October 15
Let's Be Still – The Head and the Heart
Make A Move - Gavin DeGraw
No Poison No ParadiseBlack Milk
Mary ChristmasMary J. Blige
Unplugged: Expanded and Remastered (2xCD+DVD) - Eric Clapton

October 22
Smoke and MirrorsBrett Dennen
Fade Away - Best Coast

October 29
Reflektor – Arcade Fire
Night Time, My Time - Sky Ferreira
Get There – Minor Alps (Juliana Hatfield and Matthew Caws of Nada Surf)
Wrapped in RedKelly Clarkson
Recharged - Linkin Park

November 5
Magic Hour - Luscious Jackson
Mantangi – M.I.A.
Avril Lavigne – Avril Lavigne
Loved Me Back To Life - Céline Dion
Miami Pop Festival - The Jimi Hendrix Experience

November 12
Black Panties - R. Kelly
Under the Covers, vol. 3 – Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs
November - Grace and Tony
Inside Llewyn Davis Soundtrack
Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection - Jewel

December 3
Love, Marriage and Divorce – Toni Braxton and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds

blackSUMMERSnight – Maxwell
The Art of War: World War III - Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
Fading West - Switchfoot
Better Than Ezra
The Black Keys
Danielle Bradbery
Ed Sheeran
Lily Allen
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

And of course I have to mention the obligatory this may be the quarter that Dr. Dre finally releases Detox.