28
Apr

Our Daily Prince: Music to Move Forward With and Tanya Olsen’s Poem “54 Prince”

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Since it’s Throwback Thursday, we will continue to obsess the loss of Prince.

There are various ways to make it through. On the music front, for those who love Prince’s music, we encourage you to check out Unknown Mortal Orchestra who recently Princed-up the Soho stage in Santa Barbara.  Their most recent album, Multi-Love, seems at times primarily an homage to Prince (though you will hear other influences), and their concerts repeatedly reminded of his Prince-ness. To get a feel check out below the song and Prince-influenced video for Ur Life One Night. UMO are well worth your time, and particularly when grasping for ways to move forward.

For something completely different and to help take your mind off more morose matters, check out Tawnya Olsen’s great poem 54 Prince below.  Featured in the Best American Poetry of 2015 collection, Olsen writes therein about the poem: “‘54 Prince‘ began as a high five to scientists for coming up with such an awesome term as “Goldilocks planet.” I thought the phrase gave us narrative-craving humans an immediate idea of what the planets were like but still kept them mysterious…. Why Prince? I wondered what else all these ‘good enough’ planets would need to survive. Wouldn’t life be easier if each planet had its own Prince–brilliant, a little off, possibly extraterrestrial anyway?”

We imagine Prince inhabiting heaven and holding up at least 54 planets. “There’s worries now the fish sing but there won’t be worries long.” Amen.

54 Prince

There exist 54 Goldilocks planets
54 planets not too hot
54 planets not too cold
54 planets where the living
is juuuuuust right
in that particular planetary zone

54 planets like Earth
but not Earth Similar
not the same 54 planets close
but different Different
except for Prince

Assless Pants Prince
High-Heel Boots Prince
Purple Rain Prince
Paisley Park Prince
I Would Die For You Prince
Ejaculating Guitar Prince
Jehovah’s Witness Prince
Needs A New Hip Prince
Wrote Slave On His Face Prince
Took An Unpronounceable Symbol For His Name Prince
Chka Chka Chka Ahh Prince

 54 planets each with a Prince
and every Prince
exactly the same
as the one we know on Earth
54 lace 54 canes
54 planets 54 Prince

These 54 Prince swallow 54 worries
The 54 worries become 54 songs
54 songs made of 54 bars 54 bars
using 54 chords 54 downbeats
where they pick up the worries
54 off-beats to lay the worries down again
54 worried skank-beat Prince
birth 54 worrisome funk-drenched songs

Once an Earth year the Prince
gather around Lake Minnetonka
When the cherry moon smiles
they thrust under their heads
Under the water the Prince sick up
the old worries Under the water
worry sacks rise empty again

It takes a worried man the Prince say
to sing a worried song
while beneath the surface of Lake Minnetonka
the perch in the shoals
and the gobies in their holes
nibble at the worries
our skimmed from the top worries
scraped from the bottom worries
spooned from the middle good enough worries
There’s worries now the fish sing
but there won’t be worries long”

Tanya Olson lives in Silver Spring, MD.  54 Prince was originally published in The Awl.  If you like Prince-themed poetry, support the author by buying her first book, Boyishly, which was published by YesYes Books in 2013 and won an American Book Award in 2014.

27
Apr

Break Out the Handkerchiefs and Watch D’Angelo Pay Poignant Tribute to Prince Last Night On Fallon

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We are starting to sound like a broken record. But when we lose one of the greats in this fleeting world, it pays to dwell. Thankfully, we are not alone in this. Other great artists continue to pay tribute to Prince. Last night on the Fallon Show, the mighty D’Angelo deliberately and poignantly performed Prince’s Sometimes It Snows in April. It is no secret that D’Angelo and Prince were frequent allies and friends, so until last night we could only imagine the particular ache in D’Angelo (who also recently lost Phife). Watch below and feel the palpable pain. Towards the end of the song, D’Angelo substitutes Prince’s “Tracy” and sings “I often dream of heaven and I know that Prince is there.” He then pauses, overtaken. The “Princess” backers (the remarkable Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum) step in for D’Angelo and sing: “I know that he has found another friend.”

Not a dry eye in the house.

“And I know that Prince is there….” Indeed.

26
Apr

In Honor of Prince: You Have To Watch Anderson .Paak Light Up Paris

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We have quickly become huge fans of Anderson .Paak. Straight outta and in honor of the untouchable Prince and all of his gifts, we give you the gritty soul of .Paak in Paris.  Watch as .Paak impresses throughout.  .Paak is in ascendance. He does it all: drums ridiculously, sings with verve, and writes and performs ferociously like there’s no tomorrow (see, Prince). And he has the sense to surround himself with gifted musicians. Check out below recent performances by .Paak in Paris, including a tribute to Bowie. A new star has arrived.

25
Apr

Check Out Great New Song “Casual Party” Off Band of Horses’ Impending New Album “Why Are You OK”

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Heart-and-soul body-blows have been raining down for days. Purple geysers everywhere, with any rallying rainbows hiding offshore. First the Thin White Duke and now the Thin Purple Prince, with a Haggard stop in between. Tough pills to swallow. We hope. Cancer and opiates be damned. Left-behinds left to rationalize, but nothing but nonsense still. As the song below sings: “Blind faith don’t sit right.” Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

But we roll on. New music coming, and we’re hoping for a lift. To somewhere else. Like you might find at a Casual Party. Speaking of, check out the first track from Band of Horses’ impending new album Why Are You OK. The new album was produced by Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle with executive production from the ubiquitous Rick Rubin.

In a press release the band explained:

“While [Ben] Bridwell and his bandmates–Tyler Ramsey, Ryan Monroe, Creighton Barrett and Bill Reynolds—convened in South Carolina alongside producer Jason Lytle (Grandaddy), Bridwell struggled to bring the new material into focus. One day, at a particularly crucial part of the recording process Ben’s phone rang. It was Rick Rubin—who’d randomly heard a Band of Horses song on the radio during a drive, and had been moved to pull over and call. Without going into details, Bridwell can’t stress the value of this phone call enough. It was exactly the final push that his songs needed on their journey from conception to being sent out into the world.”

Check out the lyric video for the radiant Casual Party below. Sounds to our ears the new album will be a major return to form by the much-loved Band of Horses. We can’t wait.

20
Apr

Check Out Levitating Song “Aviation” by The Last Shadow Puppets (Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner and Miles Cane)

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We adored Arctic Monkeys when they first alighted in 2006, but their allure somewhat waned over time with their devolution from stellar indie-punk band to comparatively-nondescript hard-rock/metal lunkers. Don’t get us wrong, they’re still a talented lot, and leader Alex Turner remains a magnetic personality and songwriter; it’s just that we’ve got other things to do.

Speaking of Turner and other (better) things to do, earlier this month Turner’s other project (with Miles Cane), The Last Shadow Puppets, released its second album, Everything You’ve Come to Expect. To get a feel, check out below the official video for the superbly chiming track Aviation off the new album. Supported by strings (per TLSP’s usual, the song puts Turner and Cane to great use. The enigmatic video for the song is set on the beach and so must be construed as a companion piece to the earlier beachy video for the album’s title track (which follows).

After the beach scenes, and following their acclaimed set at Corpchella, check out the band performing last night on James Corden and earlier on Seth Meyers.

Here’s hoping that Alex Turner gets back to better business with Arctic Monkeys soon.  In the meantime, we’ll gladly take flight with Aviation.

19
Apr

Check Out Michael Kiwanuka’s Outstanding “One More Night” and Other Great Songs Off Impending Album; and Watch Performance on Conan

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We will confess to not fully-appreciating British soul-singer, Michael Kiwanuka’s, debut album when it came out in 2012. Following the release of new track One More Night from his impending new album Love & Hate, however, we are going to have to give this artist (and peace) a serious chance.

Check out One More Night below and just try to stop that sucker from repeating.  We love the song’s roots reggae-like lyrical mantra (circa The Harder They Come) and chord progression. While we always have concerns about nostalgia-induced soul-revivalists, the best (Charles Bradley, Leon Bridges) manage to infuse the genre with new heart and soul, and provide something more than mere retread. With the new album, Kiwanuka may place himself atop the best in that field. Honestly, we can’t stop listening to the song. Sought-after producer Danger Mouse produced much of the new album along with Inflo, and the collaboration appears to have paid off handsomely for Kiwunuka.

Afterwards, watch the official video for the new album’s equally-superb title track, and then watch Kiwanuka’s recent performance on Conan of another new song, Black Man In A White World.

Last but not necessarily least, check out the official video for his single Black Man In A White World.  While the song’s music doesn’t move us as much as the others above it, Kiwanuka gives a superb performance (see the live performance on Conan), the video was directed by one of our favorite directors, Hiro Murai. Murai rightfully won acclaim and awards for Flying Lotus’s Never Catch Me 2014 video.  This one easily maintains the high standards set by Murai.  Bravo!

Go HERE to pre-order the new album on Universal.

17
Apr

Review: Unknown Mortal Orchestra at Soho in Santa Barbara

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Thursday night we doubled-up by first catching Lord Huron’s near-capacity set at the Lobero Theater (Ma always said “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything;” so….).

We then ventured up to Soho to catch Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s sold-out funkified, psych-jazz rave-party, and all was better with the world. The Portland-by-way-of-New Zealand band UMO was on their way to Corpchella and has been playing to sold out audiences at every stop of their tour as word-of-mouth has caught up with them. Suffice it to say that their fans at Soho were completely tuned-in and turned-on to the band.  Most crowd members knew every word to every song, which is an acid test when gauging a band’s worth live. To pay the highest compliment: UMO’s Soho show reminded us most of TV On The Radio’s ascendant show there in September 2006.

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The burgeoning UMO phenomenon is best comprehended live where their Stevie Wonder-pop-meets-Steely-Dan-jazz-at-Prince’s-funk music and well-conceived lyrics get audiences’ bodies and brains, respectively, moving. Gifted leader, guitarist and vocalist Ruban Nielson has a winsome way on stage, deftly cajoling his instrument and beaming the songs across, while bassist Jake Portrait and drummer Riley Geare comprise one of the best live rhythm sections we’ve seen recently, with imaginative and proficient propulsion-interplay throughout. The band has also been significantly enhanced by the relatively-new keyboardist/synths mastery of Quincy McCrary, who added complex, rhythmic flourishes (particularly on So Good at Being in Trouble) to match the sounds on the band’s critically-acclaimed, ’60s-assaying Multi-Love album from 2015.  The band’s setlist covered their entire discography, featuring all the “hits” (The World Is Crowded was a highlight) and then some during their 90-minute set. Make sure you catch this great live band when they next come to your town (tour dates HERE).

To get a better feel for the band, check out some band videos and live performances below.  We can’t wait to catch them again.

Above photos: (“Front-Row”) Curt Crawshaw

16
Apr

Watch Anderson .Paak (with Schoolboy Q) & the Free Nationals on Kimmel and KCRW Performing “Am I Wrong” and “Come Down”

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While drumming in analog last night on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, rising rap/soul artist Anderson .Paak (A. Dot) impressively performed Am I Wrong (with the Free Nationals and Schoolboy Q) off Paak’s critically-acclaimed and chart-ascendant album Malibu. Check it out immediately below. Refreshing to see an artist drumming and singing sans-autotune and varying the sounds (never mind the occasional vocal similarities to K. Dot).  Great stuff from .Paak.  Afterwards, check out a couple of more-digitized takes on the artist courtesy of KCRW last week.

15
Apr

Listen to New Avett Brothers Song “Ain’t No Man” Off Impending New Album “True Sadness”

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Long-time faves, The Avett Brothers, today revealed a new track entitled Ain’t No Man off their next album, True Sadness, which will be released on 6/24 on American/Republic Records. The new album was once again produced by Rick Rubin. Seth Avett has said about the new song: “I think of ‘Ain’t No Man’ as a self-motivating anthem, a kind of currency to buy a little courage when you’re having trouble feeling courageous on your own.”

Check it out below and be emboldened.

You can pre-order the album via Republic Records.  The band will naturally be out on tour in support (including two stints in California), and you can get tickets HERE.

8
Apr

Meet Margaret Glaspy–Listen to Promising Songs From Her Imminent Debut Album “Emotions and Math”

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These are halcyon days for up-and-coming female artists. We wouldn’t be cooking the books if we said that a large majority of the exciting new artists we’ve encountered recently have been women. Whatever the reason, check out yet another promising new female artist in Margaret Glaspy, whose debut album Emotions And Math will drop in June on ATO.  While her songs mine a classic rock vein, Glaspy stamps the songs as her own with her revealing, insightful lyrics, vocal personality and talented guitar playing (America’s answer to Australia’s Courtney Barnett?). Check out the phenom title track (with its clean production) and two other great songs off the album below.  Glaspy is out on tour in support, alighting in California in the next week.  These songs bode incredibly well for Emotions And Math, which you can pre-order HERE.