The Art of the Concept Album

Yesterday saw the official release of Zurich-based Marty McKay’s Sins Disciple; a widely ambitious concept album that runs the gamut from nu metal and rap rock. McKay has shared the stage with Vanilla Ice, and in a way, ends up sounding a little like his protégé as he internalizes the 7 deadly sins and fires off first person raps over the glitchy Euro beats and clean cut pop hooks.

The album, which comes equipped with an elaborate booklet of beautifully shot and staged photos, is also accompanied by a graphic novel which mirrors the themes and characters laid out in the music. It is an incredibly ostentatious debut that has a lot going for it on several levels, namely:

1) It stands at the vanguard of technology; weaving together several formats that are available in both the digital and physical realms.

2) The album and the book feed into each other, creating a multi-dimensional universe curated by McKay. If you dig either the music or the book, there is plenty more to expand on.

3) Besides the somewhat throwback nature of the music, the content is extremely current and enlightening without any intentional finger pointing or name dropping. It is a socio-political masterwork.

I tip my hat to McKay, who had the gumshoe to not only tackle such a grandiose feat for his debut, but to express the songs in English, a language which is not his native tongue. The reason, however, is obvious… McKay has his sights set on bringing his concept art to the masses and has done an extraordinary job completing such an ambitious undertaking.

Sins Disciple is available here

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Nick Drake’s Mom sings from the Grave


One of 2013’s most poignant folk releases was recorded in the 1950s. Nick Drake’s mother, Molly Drake, used to record her own original songs at home on the family’s reel-to-reel recorder.

The 19 tracks were restored by John Wood — an engineer who frequently collaborated with Nick and is often credited for “discovering” him — and released as a self-titled album by the label Squirrel Things Recordings. They are accompanied by ” a biography written by Molly’s daughter Gabrielle Drake, a custom letter-pressed jacket and family photos.

Not only do these songs offer a new starting point as to Nick’s influence, but they also reveal the quietly fierce musings of a housewife in the ’50s, a woman with an artistic soul whose pristine voice and imagist poetry were captured, lost, and then rediscovered.

Via Buzzfeed

Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots: New music

Damon Albarn has seemingly done all he can to avoid having the time to release a solo album. As well as being the part-time frontman of popular beat combo Blur, he’s also released four albums as Gorillaz, created the super group the Good, the Bad and the Queen, released two EPs of scratchy demos called Democrazy, scored films with Michael Nyman and created two operas. One of those operas, Dr Dee, was referred to by Damon at the time as his most personal project to date, with any suggestion of a proper solo album being forthcoming batted away, because he “never really understood the term”. He seems to have changed his mind, however, with the announcement of his debut solo album proper, Everyday Robots.

Described on his Facebook page as “his most soul-searching and autobiographical yet” with a focus on “nature versus technology”, the album features production from XL boss Richard Russell (who Albarn collaborated with on Bobby Womack’s The Bravest Man in the Universe), as well as guest spots from Brian Eno and Natasha Khan. The first song to emerge from the album is the title track, a snippet of which actually appeared on, of all places, Diplo’s Instagram account more than six months ago. Opening with what sounds like strangely filtered strings, piano and creaking, muffled beats, the opening line – “we are everyday robots on our phones” – makes it clear this particular track focuses on the nature/technology dichotomy as opposed to anything deeply personal. As with most of Thom Yorke’s solo album, The Eraser, Everyday Robots is simultaneously paranoid and pretty, casting an eye over society with a sort of sad shrug and a lilting melody.

via The Guardian

Success sans Major Record Label

Seattle’s Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are atop the Billboard charts for the second straight week with their hilarious and infectious hit “Thrift Shop.”It’s an impressive feat for anyone, but it’s extraordinary considering the duo have done it all themselves without a record label or major money behind them.

From college radio stations to Top 40, “Thrift Shop” is everywhere. Long time Seattle radio veteran, DJ and program director for Movin’ 92.5, Maynard, says he’s never seen anything like it.”It’s not like he’s got these TV commercials with the song running in the background. There’s not even the old fashioned way, he’s done it in a way that’s never been done.”

The song is beating out big label stars like Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift for the second straight week. Maynard says that’s even more impressive considering hip hop and rap are at their lowest point of mainstream popularity in more than a decade.”To have somebody come out and just shatter all the other music styles and sales and in demand both on the radio and online is amazing,” says Maynard.Veteran Seattle music journalist Charles Cross says Macklemore’s surprising rise to the top is a testament to extreme smarts, hard work and great music. He says Macklemore has masterfully built an audience through social media and YouTube over the years, with the video for “Thrift Shop” driving the popularity of the song on radio and online.

 

Seattle has hardly been a hot bed for hip hop, at least in the eyes of the rest of the country. Cross says that’s actually an advantage, because Macklemore and Lewis have been able to develop a unique sound.”In some ways that was also the reason that grunge took off because it sounded very different than anything else that was on the radio and bands here had the chance to develop organically and to some degree that same thing is being repeated with Macklemore’s success.”

The Stranger’s Charles Mudede agrees. He says “Thrift Shop” stands alone in what he calls a “homogenous realm of contemporary pop music.””That isolation sort of benefited in the sense that now they’re just making stuff that’s completely different from what’s happening in the mainstream. If you look at the top 10 of the hip hop charts Macklemore just looks like a freak.”

But Maynard says it’s about more than just the music. He says many people have told him it’s also Macklemore’s message, from his moving tribute to former Mariner’s announcer Dave Niehaus to his anthem for same-sex marriage “Same Love.”“You know, he’s got a different message and in a lot of aspects he’s got a real positive message. When you look at the expectations of hip hop and R&B and rap, that he’s really defied those in a way,” says Maynard.

Race has clearly paid a part as well. Cross says the white rapper’s appeal to white audiences is a key to his new-found commercial success.”You can only be so big if you aren’t playing to the suburbs and Macklemore’s music appeals to suburban white kids who want to be slightly edgy but it’s not gangster rap, that’s for sure.”

Whatever it is, it’s a crafty concoction that’s put a couple of kids who were struggling to get a gig in Seattle a few years ago on top of the music world. Who would of thought it would be thanks thanks to a little ditty about shopping at the local Goodwill.via Seattle Sounds

*life of lily*

There is just something about Life of Lily that warms my heart. Maybe it’s here new single’s insanely up beat lyrics or the self-empowering feel of the vocal. Either way, the anthemic “Life Goes On” is a sweet slice of Celtic pop punk rock that is as infectious as any top 40′s pop song on the Charts today. It should be playing on the radio because it would result in less road rage.

The new video, which accents the bluegrass / country appeal of the song, is split in time. Like a split decision, one line of reality turns sour and leaves you on the side of the road while the other thread leaves you basking in the sun with the one you love. Lily doesn’t take sides but proposes a solution by way of attitude adjustment. Isn’t it so much easier and quicker to listen to a song then have to read another self-help book?

After working through some Visa issues, Lily graduated Law School with Honors and moved to New York where she currently resides. How she manages to stay so positive in the city of snark and sarcasm is beyond me but being genuine, I imagine, is the key to her success.

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Life of Lily drops November 5th. Stay up with her New York shows via Facebook

On Nov. 25, Norah Jones and Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong will team up to release Foreverly, a modern-day reworking of the Everly Brothers’ 1958 country folk covers album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, via Reprise.Image

The original album was praised for its (then) contemporary take on traditional ballads and standards from country singers like Gene Autry and Tex Ritter. Armstrong and Jones, both Everly Brothers fans themselves, decided to reinterpret the album’s 12 songs and indulge their love of rootsy harmonies and country music.

For the sessions, Armstrong and his engineer Chris Dugan traveled to Manhattan studio the Magic Shop to record with Jones, along with bassist Tim Luntzel and drummer Dan Rieser.

“A couple of years ago, I discovered ‘Songs Our Daddy Taught Us’ for the first time, and I fell in love with it,” remembers Armstrong. “I was playing it every day and thought it would be a cool idea to redo the record, but with a female singer. I thought of Norah because she can sing anything, from rock to jazz to blues, and I knew her harmonies would be amazing…she has a really good ear for arrangements.”

Says Jones, “Billie Joe’s enthusiasm about the songs and his low-key, open approach to the music was very inviting. He wasn’t set in his ideas, which made it fun for us both to sort of discover what felt right for us, musically.”

Foreverly contains the same 12 tracks as its 1958 counterpart, though in a different order. Here is the track listing:

“Roving Gambler”
“Long Time Gone”
“Lightning Express”
“Silver Haired Daddy of Mine”
“Down in the Willow Garden”
“Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet”
“Oh So Many Years”
“Barbara Allen”
“Rockin’ Alone (in An Old Rockin’ Chair)”
“I’m Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail”
“Kentucky”
“Put My Little Shoes Away”

This story first appeared on Billboard.com

Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson fans, prepare to swoon. Wes is back with a new film. It’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and is out next year. Ralph Fiennes stars as the manger of a fancy-pants hotel accused of bumping off an elderly guest (Tilda Swinton). As you’d expect it’s rammed with an A-list cast (Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel… we could go on).

Ralph Fiennes, not just a Serious Actor

What do you think of when you think of thesp’s thesp Ralph Fiennes? An actor with a piercing intensity and a way with iambic pentameter? Not anymore. Looks like we’ll get to see another side of him in Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. He’s all raised eyebrows and dry sherry one-liners in the trailer, as a hotel manager accused of bumping off an elderly lady guest (Tilda Swinton, completely unrecognisable). ‘Take your hands off my lobby boy!’

Moustaches are not just for Movember

There is barely a frame here that does not feature a Dalston-worthy ’tache. Fiennes wears an elegant Burt Reynolds. His teenage bell-hop (newcomer Tony Revolori) has got a drawn-on pencil moustache. Edward Norton is fetching in a handlebar. Bill Murray rocks a walrus, naturally. If you haven’t got your November fuzz sorted, watch immediately for inspiration.

Tilda Swinton is the coolest actress alive (as if anyone needed a reminder)

Did you even recognise Tilda Swinton as the 84-year-old widow in love with ladykiller Ralph Fiennes. Us neither. We did a double take at the credits. Tilds even manages to look cool as an octogenarian with age spots and a beehive.

Pink is the new tweed

Wes’s world is place a lot people want to be (super fans have Wes Anderson-themed weddings). And we’ve got a feeling his hotel will be setting trends, painted candyfloss pink with tomato red interiors. Expect a copycat Shoreditch establishment soon.

Haters, you are gonna keep on hating

If you find Wes Anderson’s films annoyingly precious look away now. Don’t even think of hitting play. Whimsy, style, quirkier, this has it all.

 

via Time Out London

Tarantino Screenplays Re-Imagined in the Style of Penguin Books)

What a nasty teaser! You cant order these!? Via Paste:

London-based designer Sharm Murugiah re-imagined eight Quentin Tarantino screenplays in the style of Penguin Book covers. The results are quite entertaining. We especially enjoy the Pop Tart Pulp Fiction cover and the buried body for Kill Bill: Vol. 2. Check out the rest below.

(Funk Never Sounded so Fresh)

Toro Y Moi, a.k.a. Chaz Bundwick, has shared a new, digital “tour only” track called “Campo.” It’s laid back and soulful like most of Bundwick’s previous material. The track will be available at his shows this fall and, luckily, he will be performing in Seattle at Showbox at The Market on November 12. [Stereogum]

The trippy feel good nature of this track will be sure to inject some brevity for our collective hump day tomorrow.