The title of Madeleine Peyroux's latest album has Buddhist meanings for her,
but even without that connection it is built on simplicity - there are no
jazz horn solos or kd lang vocal duets as on Half the Perfect World, and the
songs (almost all Peyroux's, in a step away from the covers-artistry she has
specialised in) are, if anything, more wistful and still than ever. At
first, her favoured Fats Waller swing beat on the opening song Instead
suggests the old familiar mix, but the soft organ purr and guitar chords of
the title sets the real tone, for an album of heartaches mostly without
regrets - written in collaboration with Steely Dan's Walter Becker and
producer Larry Klein, and influenced by Leonard Cohen's blend of
impressionism and stark honesty, particularly on a track such as Love and
Treachery. Peyroux comes to Britain this month, but though the Cheltenham
jazz festival figures in her dates, jazz is more of an ephemeral reference
here than ever. Nevertheless, she's one of the few singers who can make me
keep replaying a track just to hear her intone one word - this time it was
the hypnotically repeated "do" in her Becker collaboration You Can't Do Me.
Peyroux's care for her materials never falters.
Everything Everything In The Media
DAVID KOSTEN produced and mixed 'Man Alive' as well as the "My Kz, Ur Bf" single.
Yelpy vocals. Worldly percussion. Triumphant horns. Listening to Suckers' debut EP-- co-produced by Yeasayer's Anand Wilder-- is like listening to a late-00s indie-rock greatest hits sampler. This band may not blow you away with innovation, but there's no expiration date on indelible songs. And Suckers have at least one of those to their name so far: the quaking, crescendoing "It Gets Your Body Movin'", which still sways just right 40+ listens later. And it's also got the best whistle solo of the year, bar none.
With the band currently in the middle of writing their first full-length, we recently called up lead singer Quinn Walker, 28, to get a little background on the New Haven, Connecticut-raised, Brooklyn-based band. The onetime "recluse musician" talked about being homeless, his DIY healthcare philosophy, and his take on New York's current rash of loose and mystical MGMT-type bands:
Pitchfork: What was your first instrument?
QW: I took Suzuki piano lessons when I was three years old. And then, in middle school, I had this amazing guitar teacher who would teach us stuff like Jimi Hendrix and Steely Dan while telling us about his familial problems. [laughs]
Pitchfork: How did you make the transition from classic rock to the more indie stuff you're making now?
QW: Growing up, I would listen to a lot of a lot of punk and hip-hop, too, and my dad was a big Velvet Underground fan. I didn't really get into indie stuff until I was introduced to Modest Mouse. I actually started off making songs to annoy my best friend's dad.
Pitchfork: Why did you choose the name Suckers?
QW: We had called ourselves Feelings for about a week, kind of as a joke. Then we were like, "Well, we don't really like this name very much. Why don't we just call ourselves Suckers?" It can be interpreted as self-deprecating, or that everyone else are the suckers.
Pitchfork: What's your take on the MGMT/Yeasayer/Chairlift mystic-pop scene happening in Brooklyn right now. Is it competitive?
QW: The musical community here is more about friendship than music. Everybody hangs out with each other, but we don't necessarily influence each other that much. We actually played one of MGMT's first shows. It was us, MGMT, and Yeasayer at a theater on the Lower East Side a couple years ago. There were probably about 200 people there. Recently, Yeasayer, Man Man, Suckers, and Dirty Projecters were all together in Woodstock for a birthday. I broke my foot, so I couldn't make it.
Pitchfork: How did you break your foot?
QW: My friend Cameron fell on me. [laughs] He was running, tripped, fell, grabbed me for support, came down on top of me and my foot got stuck underneath him and it just snapped. But I'm walking it off-- no cast.
Pitchfork: Do you have healthcare?
QW: I do, actually. I was homeless for seven months, so I got Medicaid. But you have to wait months to see an orthopedic surgeon under Medicaid so it's kind of useless at that point.
Pitchfork: When were you homeless?
QW: Last June to about December. I was sleeping on friends' couches or in the practice space.
Pitchfork: What's the band up to right now?
QW: We have been writing a lot of new material. If it were up to me I'd like to put out two or three albums a year.
Pitchfork: You don't want people getting sick of you right off the bat, though.
QW: Yeah, but nobody's forcing anyone to listen to any of it. It's just there for anybody's consumption.
Pitchfork: Would you record with Anand Wilder again for the LP?
QW: I love working with him and he's a really good friend of ours-- it's definitely a possibility.
"It Gets Your Body Movin'" from the Suckers EP out now on IAMSOUND
FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE Critic's Choice By The Times in London
Click the image for a larger view
TELEPATHE Featured In Soma Magazine
IAMSOUND Records synth-pop duo, TELEPATHE have been featured in the spring issue of Soma Magazine.
Click on the photo to view the complete article.
SF Guardian Blog Reviews TELEPATHE
SF Bay Guardian blog
By Brandon Bussolini
Dance Mother (IAMSOUND)
This debut album by a pair of self-styled producers finds Telepathe at a turning point some bands only reach several albums into a career: ditching trad-rock instruments for synths and sequencers, and turning an eager ear to mainstream pop for cues. A recent profile of the Brooklyn duo of Melissa Livaudis and Busy Gangnes (formerly of First Nation and Wikkid, respectively) portrays the band coming into their own by teaching themselves Logic, a software production program. Dance Mother fleshes out the bedroom MIDI sketches with typically precise production from TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek. It also plays up the retro-tinged futurism: indie rock’s an insular enough realm for a Mannie Fresh influence to be novel.
Dance Mother’s opening salvo of “So Fine” and “Chrome’s On It” crutches on indie’s high tolerance for mumbled lyrics. The melodies are potent stuff, though, and the songs’ productions, which might not have taken more than an hour to throw together, stand in contrast to the vogue for wet, overworked psych in the band’s home borough. There’s some unevenness to those two compositions, which are the album’s most accessible — it’s hard to decide if we should be frustrated or charmed by the way “Chrome’s On It” smooshes lovely, indistinct verses into a daffy breakdown. (Livaudis sings, with a kind of suburban carriage, "I can feel the real bang bang, I can do the real thing thing.")
By track three, Telepathe’s trying out both the Velvet Underground’s “Murder Mystery” sing-speak and the heavy romantic deconstruction of the Kim Gordon-led Sonic Youth Evol track “Shadow of a Doubt.” By track six, Livaudis and Gangnes are making a serious bid to be your new favorite band with the heart-tugging swoon “Can’t Stand It,” which marries the chiming samples of Seefeel and waifish contemporary doo-wop. It’s so measured that you take your emotional cues from the repeating floor tom-and-cymbal motif. This is one to put on the shelf next to Merriweather Post Pavilion for achievements without guitars.
Village Voice Preview TELEPATHE
BY MIKAEL WOOD
They just completed a stint warming up crowds for Ladytron and the Faint, but these Brooklyn avant-pop ladies' record-release party is worth catching even if you just saw Telepathe at Webster Hall last week. On Dance Mother, which they recorded with Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio, Melissa Livaudais and Busy Gangnes bridge the gap between TVOTR's future-soul rock and the art-damaged experimentation of freakier Big Apple bros like Black Dice and Gang Gang Dance; they're dedicated to exploring texture and tone, but they don't wanna pay for it with melody and groove. Following this gig, Telepathe head to Europe and Japan, which will keep them away from home till the summer. Don't sleep.
The Decider Previews TELEPATHE
A band that started out making a bleary, oblique drone that was something akin to Gang Gang Dance on cough syrup, Brooklyn’s Telepathe upped the energy—and the pop hooks—considerably on its recent Dance Mother. Building on a formidable wall of synth splatter and tribal drums from TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek, the core duo of Melissa Livaudais and Busy Gangnes reinvented themselves in the atmospheric, synth-chilled vein of experimental electro groups like The Knife, albeit considerably less restrained. Live, they create a blizzard of samples, mesmeric loops, and reverb-drowned guitars that inspires a response somewhere between trance and dance.
Atlanta Music Blog TELEPATHE 'Dance Mother' Review
By Stephanie Roman
Dance Mother is the debut full-length CD from Brooklyn-based electronic duo Telepathe. The first track, "So Fine," is driving piece of electro pop that cleverly draws the listener in with gorgeous tone and a perfect mix. Put this in your ear next time you're gliding through France on the Eurostar for an unforgettable ride.
Next up, we find some stripped-down tendencies toward hip-hop paired with probing lyrics. Some tracks sound like they were the result of audiophiles let loose with new toys for the first time, which may have been what happened when the girls began recording the album in a studio full of vintage synthesizers belonging to Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio).
"In Your Line" is a simple song about a lost love, with the familiar backing vocals belonging to !!!'s Shannon Funchess. At times the repetitive rhythms could stand an occasional twist or turn. Telepathe takes us into the stratosphere once again during "Can't Stand It" with dreamy vocals similar to Ladytron or the Smashing Pumpkins.
"Trilogy" contains a beautiful violin-toned break that hearkens back to early Depeche Mode, and "Drugged" continues with melodies that could have been lifted from a traditional Japanese opera (little wonder the band is so loved in the land of the rising sun). Overall, a very impressive debut release.
After touring Europe this May, Telepathe plays 529 in Atlanta on June 23 (tickets available here) and Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, DC on June 25 (tickets available here).
Tracer Reviews TELEPATHE Album
Some of us have imaginary fairy godmothers to fruitlessly call upon in times of need... and some of us apparently have the very real and very successful TV on the Radio to give us their magic dancing shoes. Congratulations, Telepathe. How friggin' lucky—and well connected—can you get?
Furthering the popularity of the mantra that "It’s all about who you know,” Busy Gangnes and Melissa Livaudais struck professional and creative gold when TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek signed on to produce the duo’s debut, Dance Mother. Yet another in-your-face-talented Brooklyn group has descended upon us, and their femme-fatale narratives are unnervingly difficult to ignore.
The howling call to arms of “Sinister Militia” strongly echoes that of fellow left of dial dubber Santogold [ed: recently rechristened Santigold], in both mood and vocal styling. In fact, I felt I was witnessing the marriage of Santigold’s sublime, subtly sexual vocals and Does It Offend You, Yeah?’s knack for making forgettable synth sequences sound vital and progressive more than once while enjoying Dance Mother—the duo does all of the above almost perversely well. Summer 2008 certainly owed much of its sweat to the hipsters who enjoyed a plethora of both intimate and outdoor performances from the two previously mentioned acts. With extensive touring plans laid out already, it’s entirely possible that Summer 2009 will belong to Telepathe, and if the girls can likewise put on a live show that is as engrossing as their recordings, their cult status alongside these other recent phenoms will surely be clinched.
The duo has already garnered a fair amount of buzz with the track “Chrome’s On It.” The colliding keyboard arpeggios of this particular song add a freaky futuristic quality to its poppy, honeysuckle vocals. Quite frankly, if an indie filmmaker doesn’t cue this lovely experiment of a song at some point this year, I will be shocked. Also pulling in the admirers is the chugging semi-ballad “I Can’t Stand It,” and the would-be single (and its odd, albeit charming, music video ) “So Fine.”
Though they are a primarily electronic band, Gangnes and Livaudais successfully maintain a sense of accessibility and romance that can elude similarly gadget dependent groups. Telepathe already seems to be about five steps ahead the rest of us in clout, creativity, and cool factor, so the only question that remains is whether they will keep it up or fizzle out. I’m rooting for the former.
East Austinite Video Interview with TELEPATHE
Bob Lefsetz on Bat For Lashes
Bob Lefsetz Newsletter 4/25/09
The job of the deejay is to play that which the audience will embrace. That doesn't mean the deejay can't test the listeners' limits, just that you don't play the record for yourself, but those who are tuning in. That's what a recommendation service does, turn you on to stuff it thinks you're going to like, not what other people think is great.
We hate the professional recommenders because they've researched product to death, rather than test limits, they're living in an extremely confined universe. Then there are the self-professed experts online, pontificating on their sites. We want to believe, but what they tell us to listen to slides right off of us, if it doesn't outright offend us. We don't need more software, aggregating useless information, we need more experts, human beings who can navigate the waters, bringing music from the tributaries to the lakes and ultimately the oceans, where the masses reside, wanting to be turned on to new music, yet overwhelmed.
This is the heart of the chaos. If you're a music fan, where do you go, where do you turn? It's not about having friends who are into music, who play tunes all day, but knowing an individual whose taste aligns with yours, who lets you know what you'll like.
Which brings me to Bat For Lashes. I just got a tweet from a guy in Ireland saying he was 20 hours late, but he wanted to recommend a cut.
Stunningly, the video he linked me to was not as good as one of the other tracks on the band's MySpace site.
I'm not going to say Bat For Lashes is the Beatles, but professionals will get it immediately. This is salable music. Stuff a mass of people will listen to and enjoy. Yet not sans so many edges that it can be derided and discarded out of the box.
Not surprisingly, the band is from the U.K. and is signed to a major label.
Somehow, music survives in the U.K. Absent the consolidation of radio and the endless commercials that resulted, never mind the homogenization in playlists, you can still listen to what comes over the airwaves in the U.K. And get excited about not only the specific tracks, but music itself. Music still drives the culture in the U.K.
Maybe because there's more of a class system, less social mobility, with no American Dream to pluck you from the projects, music enlivens your days, gives you hope. Meanwhile, the performers speak their truth and are hopeful of exiting the pain of a dreary existence.
Bat For Lashes is good. But where can they be exposed in the U.S?
They've been on TV, but I don't sit through those programs, and obviously most other people don't either, because Bat For Lashes has almost no traction here. If it were 1982, their video would be all over MTV and they'd be nascent stars. Today, there's not an obvious radio format for them to fit into, and no one's listening anyway, not enough.
As for the online recommenders, we've tuned out, they're recommending too much that isn't quality.
As for the label... Parlophone (Astralwerks in the U.S.)... Is anybody even working at EMI anymore? If this were on Interscope, it would have a leg up.
We love our female rockers, chicks with balls. From the Wilson sisters to Courtney Love to...
Check this out.
Not because it's phenomenal, but because it's good enough. It hits the target.
All Music Reviews TELEPATHE
All Music Review
Review by Heather Phares
On Dig That Treasure, Cryptacize played tug of war with innocence and sophistication, and form and freedom, all the while pitting melodies as pure as standards or lullabies against radically simple yet artful playing. Their sound was strange, in the best possible way, and difficult to pin down; on Mythomania, Cryptacize trades some of that strangeness for immediacy, which isn't necessarily a bad thing -- previously, their sketches and vignettes were so delicate and spare that they often seemed in danger of floating away. Here, that delicacy is tempered by more regular rhythms and structures that give these songs at least a few roots in terra firma, without sacrificing too much of their experimentalism or charm. While nothing on Mythomania is as immediately breathtaking as Treasure's "Cosmic Sing-A-Long," the album's more polished, grounded sound lets Cryptacize stretch their range to include "Blue Tears"' harpsichord-driven chamber rock, and the surprisingly funky wah-wah groove of "One Block Wonders." But, in true Cryptacize fashion, for every brash and bright moment on the album, a gentle one complements it. "What You Can't See Is" feels guided by dream logic as it drifts from partly cloudy musings to sunny, autoharp-driven reflections; "Galvanize" is just as ethereal and narcotic as a song with lyrics like "Fields of poppy, you hypnotize me" should be. As Mythomania unfolds, it reveals that the band's sound paintings are just as bright and expressive as ever, particularly on album opener "Tail & Mane," which moves from madcap electronics to clip-clopping percussion as it tells the tale of a lovelorn horse thief. The album's best moments are direct yet sweetly odd, like the title track, one of the few songs that sorts itself into clearly delineated verses and choruses; "The Cage" switches from garage pop with adorable harmonies to dramatic, organ-driven passages; and "New Spell," which closes Mythomania with a mischievous twinkle. Throughout it all, Nedelle and Chris Cohen's vocals are prettier than ever, heightening the surrealism of these songs -- and "The Loving Sun" and "Gotta Get into That Feeling" in particular -- with bell-like clarity. Even though Cryptacize remain difficult to pin down, the chances they take on Mythomania bring them a little bit closer to reach.
Fuel TV Reviews 'Dance Mother' By TELEPATHE
Telepathe - Dance Mother
Telepathe prove that sometimes machines can do the work of men, and do it well. Their electronic debut Dance Mother is about as synth heavy as a record can be, but don’t get out your Drum Machines Have No Soul stickers just yet. They use their machines to their advantage, making it feel futuristic and foreboding, while maintaining a very danceable backbone. Robot Dance Party anyone?
SUCKERS Featured in NME
Brooklyn's Suckers Get Your Body Movin
By Scott Wright
In some photos NY quartet Suckers look like regular dudes, and in others they look like face-painted hippies from the planet WOAH. This the MGMGT effect, where every Brooklyn band from Amazing Baby to Chairlift is now expected to arrive swaddled in psychedelic robes and doused in pixie dust.
It’s true, Suckers penchant for chants and uplifting group harmonies mean they occupy a similar musical space to their Kings County bredren, but their music is relaxed and charming enough to survive without the fancy dress.
It Gets Your Body Movin is their calling card, an epic, sing-scream-and-shout-a-long crescendo of chorus. Pan from the band told me how it came to pass: “It Gets Your Body Movin was written when we were still a three piece. I think it was actually the first song the three of us had written altogether if I'm not mistaken. I had just decided to pick up the trumpet again after about 15 years... I remember being on a train listening to this Love song (the band Love) and there was this kind of call and response thing with a vocal line and the brass section... when I was adding the trumpet part to "Body Movin'" I thought that kind of thing might work well with the song.”
You can download It Get’s Your Body Movin free from Pinglewood.
The Telegraph (UK) Reviews Madeleine Peyroux Concert
Madeleine Peyroux live at the Barbican, review
Madeleine Peyroux established herself as an interpreter of others' songs, but her show at the Barbican see her shine as a composer.
By Neil McCormick
Such is the air or hushed reverence about Madeleine Peyroux that a member of the audience complains that my note-taking is distracting. Maybe I need to invest in a quieter pen.
Ever since she briefly disappeared during a publicity campaign, there seems to be an exaggerated air of concern about Peyroux's alleged fragility. She does her best to dispel such notions tonight, with jokes, drinking songs (which she prefaces with the perhaps cautionary note that they sound even better "when you're not drinking") and a batch of what she describes as "happy" songs, because, she says "I like to have that covered."
In her frock coat and bowler hat, the singer actually has a robust stage presence. Her mellifluous, husky, soft-edged, jazzy vocal style may suit melancholy more than jollity, but at least half of her set is almost perversely high spirited. Even break-up song 'It's Alright' is introduced as "a happy break up song".
Plucking expertly on an acoustic guitar, stretching her vowels with a languid, tuneful elegance reminiscent of a folkier Billie Holiday, Peyroux has the gift of totally inhabiting a song, whatever the mood. Her four-piece band fall into place around her, tastefully bathing her vocals in washes of delicate piano, electric guitar and feather-light drumming.
Peyroux established her reputation as an interpreter, covering such singer-songwriter greats as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits. She has belatedly taken to composing herself, and a set largely drawn from her new co-written album, 'Bare Bones', suggests she has learned her lessons well. The lyrics (some written with Steely Dan's Walter Becker) are poetic, witty, wise and, occasionally, even very funny.
In the sprightly 'You Can't Do Me', she describes herself as "blue-ed like a Mississipi sharecropper / Screwed like a high school cheerleader". The mourning ballad to her father, 'River Of Tears', and a poetic ode to lost women. 'Our Lady Of Pigalle', strike a more sombre mood and are particularly well received.
Yet, as if determined to avoid preciousness, Peyroux announces she wants to liven things up with some "rock and roll", because, she says, "it's too quiet in here." Mind you, the jazzy chanteuses's idea of what constitutes rock and roll probably wouldn't impress fans of My Bloody Valentine. The volume barely goes up a notch as her four piece band exercise elegant, gentle riffs at a loping mid-pace while she scats gently over the top. You could still hear a pin drop. Or a pen scratch, apparently.
One of the things I liked about early Telepathe was the spooky, hollowed, and echoing sound. While it's a fun record, the Dave Sitek-produced Dance Mother loses that vibe amid the hi-fi layers. Which is why it's interesting hearing standout "So Fine" paired down and minimized by Chairlift. You can spot Charlift's Caroline Polachek dancing in the Burzum-toting "So Fine" video, so they clearly dug that version, but this takes it to a darker party down the street. It's one of three remixes on the CD version of Dance Mother.
You can hear the Atticus Ross Remix of "Michael" at the band's MySpace. The other one's the Big Pink Reality's remix of "Devil's Trident."
Dance Mother is out via IAMSOUND. There are bunch of shows upcoming:
06/02 - Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Upstairs
06/05 - Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
06/06 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
06/09 - Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret w/ Nite Jewel
06/10 - Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey w/ Nite Jewel
06/11 - Portland, OR @ Holocene w/ Nite Jewel
06/12 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill w/ Nite Jewel, Hawnay Troof
06/13 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Smell w/ Nite Jewel, Abe Vigoda
06/16 - Costa Mesa, CA @ Detroit Bar w/ Nite Jewel
06/17 - Phoenix, AZ @ Modified Arts w/ Nite Jewel
06/19 - Austin, TX @ Emos Jr. w/ Lemonade
06/20 - Denton, TX @ Hailey's w/ Lemonade
06/22 - Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon w/ Lemonade
06/23 - Atlanta, GA @ 529 w/ Lemonade
06/24 - Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506 w/ Lemonade
06/25 - Washington, DC @ Rock and Roll Hotel w/ Lemonade
06/26 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brendas w/ Lemonade
07/31 - Jersey City, NJ @ All Points West Festival
Under The Radar Reviews New FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE EP
Click on the image for a larger view
Cleveland Scene CD Review of TELEPATHE
CD Review: Telepathe
Dance Mother (IAMSOUND)
The debut album by these two N.Y.C. girls sounds a lot like TV on the Radio. That's not much of a surprise, seeing that TVOTR's Dave Sitek produced it. There's plenty of electronic buzzing and whirring going on in the background of these nine songs, always distracting from the action happening up front. Good thing, since Telepathe's Melissa Livaudais and Busy Gangnes really can't sing, and there ain't a whole lot else keeping the record together. At least Sitek builds Dance Mother on layers and layers of his trademark noise textures, constructing glorious aural architecture out of the surroundings. A couple of songs — "Chrome's on It" and "Can't Stand It" — manage to wrestle part of the spotlight away from Sitek's machines, but it's obvious who the real star is here. — Gallucci
Pitchfork Reviews TELEPATHE's 'Dance Mother'
Melissa Livaudais and Busy Ganges' stock has been rising for a year or so now. On the strength of singles "I Can't Stand It" and "Chrome's on It", which display the two distinct sides of their increasingly synth-heavy avant-pop approach, the Brooklyn duo comprising Telepathe has generated a good amount of buzz. Pick up a copy of any self-respecting culture rag and there's likely to be a front-of-book profile featuring the girls looking ultra cool in chunky sunglasses and designer hoodies. It stands to reason that their first proper LP, the David Sitek-produced Dance Mother, could certainly capitalize on such attention.
But not everyone's convinced. Ask a friend who's caught Telepathe live and he'll tell you what an aggravating experience it is, that the band's lackadaisical stage performance borders on disinterest not only for their audience but also their own material. And there are questions of musicianship: Ganges and Livaudais share an unschooled, tinny vocal presence and don't appear to be masters of, y'know, instruments and stuff. While those aren't clear reasons to discount a group (good ideas should certainly trump chops), they do raise issues about whether or not Telepathe are skating by on style, geographical allure (Brooklyn, Bushwick, whatever), or musical associations.
Bobbling an opportunity to prove the band's merit once and for all, Dance Mother leaves many of these questions unanswered. The album's most obvious problem is that its two best cuts-- the above-mentioned singles-- are those fans are already familiar with. All rapid-fire bass and squiggly synths, "Chrome's On It" is an accomplished indie-electro reimagining of the standard hip-hop radio banger, but if you picked up the 2008 EP of the same name chances are you've worn it out already. "Can't Stand It", meanwhile, gets a spit-shine courtesy of Sitek here, adding depth and polish to the scratchier version that appeared on Rare Book Room's Living Bridge compilation. No less gorgeous than before, it doesn't quite take the place of a brand-new track of equal quality.
Take the repeats out of the equation and you're left with a decidedly mixed bag; just a few of Dance Mother's newbies manage to rival their older siblings' success. The futuristic love-lost ballad "In Your Line" is one such standout. Over TV on the Radio member Sitek's arrangement (which brings to mind the lovely, underappreciated "Family Tree" from his fulltime band's most recent LP) of tribal hand-drums, swirling guitars, and crashing cymbals, Livaudais and Ganges examine past relationships, realizing they miss their exes (perhaps each other-- the band was once a couple) more than they'd care to admit. "It never meant that much to me... So where did it go? I think I lost it in my heart," they sing in tandem.
With its skittering beats and lunar synths, "Michael" is another track that sounds great pouring out of your headphones. One can't help but wonder, though, if the credit for a song like this, where the appeal lies mostly in the production, should go to Sitek instead of Telepathe. Since the record was a collaborative affair, it's hard to say for sure. But part of what makes me dubious is the lyrical missteps that appear elsewhere on the album. Head-scratchingly opaque and sometimes just plain bad, the girls' lyrics often do serious damage to a few otherwise decent songs. Sometimes they sound like stoners swapping Lost theories: "Hand-painted the orchid, because we have a second-rate sun," they chant out of nowhere in "Devil's Trident". Other times it's like Def Poetry Jam: Bushwick up in here: "Only givers give a hint of the hunt! Fill it up with a pound of gold!" they exclaim, spoken-word style in "Lights Go Down".
Moments like these make Dance Mother an uneven, sometimes puzzling listen. In many ways the record contradicts itself: It features a song I could enjoy for years to come ("Can't Stand It") and others I'd be fine with never hearing again. Flashes of real beauty and sonic adventurousness split time with stuff that seems outright dumb. So it's hard to say what happens to Telepathe from here besides, surely, a few more glossy photo spreads. Are they a flash-in-the-pan case of style over substance or electro-indie savants working towards finding their footing on a mind-blowing sophomore LP? I certainly hope it's the latter, but this album offers no real clues in either direction, so I honestly couldn't tell you.
— Joe Colly, April 16, 2009
Daily Trojan Review 'Dance Mother' by TELEPATHE
New York City is no stranger to artsy, groundbreaking music. From the Velvet Underground in the ’60s to Sonic Youth in the ’80s to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in the beginning of the new millennium, the Big Apple prides itself on being a veritable breeding ground for experimentally bent musicians hoping to create shocking and novel ways of expressing ideas through song.
But as the ’00s draw to a close, anyone banking on becoming the next big thing in the world of influential music best look away from the Manhattan skyline — the latter part of this musical decade belongs to Brooklyn.
Peppered with the likes of freak-folk acts such as Grizzly Bear and Yeasayer, experimental electronic groups High Places and Gang Gang Dance and nearly household names Animal Collective and MGMT, Brooklyn’s eclectic neighborhoods seem to continuously give birth to such endless throngs of indie-minded music spawn that the borough now sits in dire need of an act to break it from its musical monotony.
Enter Telepathe (pronounced “te-le-PA-thee”), the Brooklyn-based duo of Melissa Livaudais and Busy Gangnes — former female lovers lending their sing-song voices to assorted dance-heavy backing tracks fueled by drum machines.
Hold on a minute — duetting female vocalists? Electronic beats? A misspelled band name? This all sounds awfully familiar.
But Telepathe adamantly insists it is different from its musical peers — really different. Claiming to draw inspiration from famed New York hip-hop radio station Hot 97 rather than more rock-driven outlets, it stresses the darker, foreboding elements of its sugary-sounding lyrical hooks. (Oh, and it has a hipster-approved wardrobe of oversized sunglasses and baggy multicolored hoodies, too — how unique.)
After sparking up the blogosphere last year with two insanely catchy singles — “Chrome’s On It” and “I Can’t Stand It” — Telepathe released its first full-length LP, titled “Dance Mother,” to high expectations; unfortunately for the band, its first foray into the album world is a pretentious affair, lacking both focus and the genuine innovation needed from Brooklyn’s grungy streets.
Produced by TV on the Radio member Dave Sitek, “Dance Mother” combines Livaudis and Gangnes’ former explorations in ambient pop and noise music with the sleek, sensual neo-prog of their latest artistic exploits. A beyond-brilliant concept on paper, to be sure; on record, however, the genre fusion lacks its glossy appeal.
Sitek unsurprisingly outshines the androgynous girl duo on the album, expanding the sonic spaces with lush synthesizers and hard-hitting tribal drums as Livaudais and Gangnes spin odd, nonsensical tales with one another through their difficult and generally cheesy lyrics. (On “Devil’s Trident,” they muse of a child that’s Superhuman, acknowledged absurd subhuman before half-heartedly wondering, Does one expect an afterlife?)
Aside from the two well-known aforementioned singles included on the album, “Dance Mother” only offers one more track worth repeating; opener “So Fine” bounces with a quasi-hip-hop drum beat and a cottony melody of oohs and aahs fit for any hipster party. For a nine-track album, however, the ratio of “good songs” to “bad songs” on “Dance Mother” sadly does not work in Telepathe’s favor.
Rather expectedly, “Dance Mother” provides no linear progression by which to anticipate Telepathe’s next musical move. True, such attempts at predicting a still-burgeoning artist’s future endeavors are often misguided; Telepathe may have much more up its sleeves than a collection of singles and a hip neon wardrobe. Yet, somewhere buried beneath the handful of catchy beats and halfway-decent lyrics sprinkled throughout the album, it seems far more likely that Telepathe will fizzle out on this teetering wave of Brooklyn Music Mania.
Beyond Race TELEPATHE 'Dance Mother' Review
Telepathe - "Dance Mother"
Dance Mother is a particularly interesting title for this album for the following reason: it's not that dancey. While the opening and closing tracks of "So Fine" and "Drugged" are fairly club friendly, the rest of the album isn't. It sounds more like something you can sit in your room and enjoy while smoked out of your mind.
Each song is unique and does stand on it's own. But as a whole, Dance Mother has a sort of collective sound. Essentially, each track sounds different from the next but collectively they make sense together. Take "Chrome's On It" (track 2) and "Devil's Trident" (track 3) for instance. While both tracks sound drastically different from each other, they are placed in sequence. And it just works; there are no musical ear sores on this album.
Well, maybe one - the singing. At first, the vocals on this album seem like the typical vocals of most any other Brooklyn band: flighty, faint, and female. Though all the singing sounds exactly the same on the entire album, that's actually the problem. Some vocal variation definitely would've enhanced the overall tone of the record.
IAMSOUND Acts, LITTLE BOOTS & THECOCKNBULLKID Featured In Spin
From The Times
April 10, 2009
Madeleine Peyroux: Bare Bones
In the age of manufactured fame, it’s refreshing to encounter a singer with
zero interest in the celebrity trappings that come with selling a
million-plus albums. So the only way to get to know Madeleine Peyroux is
through her work.
Not that the opening of her fourth album is particularly auspicious. The
mid-tempo shuffle, the brushed drums, the way Peyroux’s smoky alto languidly
caresses a lyric all sound a little too familiar on Instead. But stick with
her. For the first time, she has forgone the cover versions that made her
name and co-written all 11 songs here.
Gradually a set of subtle, sophisticated tracks that run the emotional gamut
is unveiled. On the one hand are two fine break-up numbers ‹ River of Tears
and the magnificently barbed Love and Treachery . On the other is the joy
and hope of Somethin’ Grand, a (pre-economic meltdown) response to the
coming of Barack Obama.
Among her collaborators is Walter Becker, of Steely Dan. The title track has
a typical Dan-like guitar figure and cryptic opening line: “I remember what
my daddy told me about how warm whiskey is in a cold ditch”. And You Can’t
Do Me, a reggae shuffle full of tumbling wordplay, is surely the finest song
the Dan never recorded.
Two more tunes were composed with Julian Coryell, the son of the jazz
guitarist Larry, and the producer Larry Klein’s presence is felt in the
intimate, woody sound. But overall, the focus is squarely on Peyroux.
Occasionally she’ll settle into a well-worn rut but the biggest compliment
you can pay her is that you don’t miss the input of Joni Mitchell, Bessie
Smith, Bob Dylan and her usual cast of covers.
For this reluctant star, her time in the spotlight isn’t over yet.
NICK LAUNAY in NME - In the studio with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Maximo Park
JOE BLANEY produced one of Rolling Stone Magazine's Best of 2008
"Holy", the title song from the album by Love As Laughter, which was produced by Worlds End client, JOE BLANEY has been recognized by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the 100 Best Singles of 2008. The track was ranked higher than singles released by Madonna, Lil Wayne, and Sheryl Crow.
Oasis have announced today (August 15) that they will make their UK live
comeback by touring Britain this autumn.
The band will hit the road immediately after releasing seventh studio album
'Dig Out Your Soul' which was produced by DAVE SARDY.
The band kick of the dates on October 7, the day after the record is
released, with the first of two shows at the Liverpool Echo Arena.
The tour - the set for which Oasis previewed last night (August 14) at an
invite only show - will then call at Sheffield, Birmingham, London,
Bournemouth, Cardiff, Belfast and Aberdeen, before ending at the Glasgow
SECC on November 5.
Tickets for the tour go on sale at 9am (BST) on Wednesday (August 20).
To check the availability of Oasis tickets and get all the latest listings,
go to NME.COM/GIGS now, or call 0871 230 1094.
The band release their new album, 'Dig Out Your Soul', on October 6.
It will be preceded by the single, 'The Shock Of The Lightning', which will
be backed with the band's first ever remix, on September 29.
Melody Gardot Review on Guardian.com
Melody Gardot at Bloomsbury Theatre
From The Times
July 23, 2008
Melody Gardot at Bloomsbury Theatre, WC1
It's easy to appreciate why some people are so cynical about the number of
jazz or jazz-inflected singers competing for attention at the moment. Is it
just a marketing craze? Well, yes, it can be, but if the instrumentalists
are once again being pushed into the background it is partly because the
muscle-bound technocrats among them have done all too thorough a job of
scaring off listeners.
The truth is that there is a growing audience for sophisticated music with a
strong emotional content, and Melody Gardot, the newcomer from Philadelphia,
is ideally placed to cater to it. Reserved she may be, but she already
possesses more stage presence than Norah Jones or Madeleine Peyroux, while
her compact band boasts stronger jazz credentials than either of her rivals.
While this was a shortish set, lasting only just over an hour, it was a
measure of Gardot's confidence that she felt able to play her two strongest
cards - the lilting Sweet Memory and her debut album's title tune, Worrisome
Blues - so early in the evening. By the time she reached her encore, a lithe
version of the Ellington-Tizol standard, Caravan, she had turned the
auditorium into the most intimate of jazz clubs.
The voice doesn't span a particularly wide range and the tempos rarely
venture beyond slow-to-medium, but she has a thoroughly distinctive taste in
material. Her opening number, an audacious a cappella treatment of one of
the blues chants unearthed by that tireless musicologist Alan Lomax, was
propelled with nothing but fingersnaps and soul. Everyone else is revisiting
Tom Waits, but she reminded us that it's still possible to find emotional
depths in Bill Withers's Ain't No Sunshine.
Her trio could not be more skeletal, Ken Prendergast's supple bass lines
supported by Chuck Patierno's admirably controlled brushwork. Patrick
Hughes's unhurried trumpet playing adds the sparest of punctuation. Halfway
through, Gardot briefly left the stage while the musicians paid homage to
Chet Baker on My Funny Valentine, although she returned in time to supply
some suitably bitter-sweet vocals at the end.
The addition of one or two more musicians would bring a few more shades to
Gardot's palette. But her own occasional contributions on piano and guitar
were beguiling, and when she embarked on Somewhere Over the Rainbow (shades
of Eva Cassidy) a hint of bossa nova blended effortlessly with a soupçon of
calypso. She already seems an old hand.
From The Sunday Times
July 20, 2008
Melody Gardot in Italy
From a near-fatal accident to her discovery of jazz, Melody Gardot’s story
is well worth listening to ‹ and so are her songs
On a sultry evening on Bologna’s Piazza Verdi, the audience is waiting for
Melody Gardot and her band to make their appearance on the open-air stage.
Amy Winehouse’s songs are roaring from the speakers ‹ an ironic touch,
really, because Gardot’s intimate ballads are a million miles from the
English girl’s brash showmanship. Winehouse grabs you by the throat; Gardot
invites you to pull up a chair, bend your head forward and listen closely.
Her songs are as soft and delicate as a whisper.
This is her first visit to Italy, and, though she scarcely ventures further
than an occasional “grazie”, she slowly draws her listeners into the heart
of the music as she switches between acoustic guitar and piano. We soon pay
no heed to the noise of buses or scooters. Passers-by who had been
chattering on the edge of the crowd gradually allow their eyes to wander
towards the bandstand. Gardot’s voice tends to have that effect on people,
which is why the dreamy young singer-songwriter from Philadelphia is already
being spoken of as a rival to Norah Jones.
The difference is that Gardot’s work, for all its stylish veneer of Joni
Mitchell-ish pop and occasional twang of country-and-western romance,
contains a deeper strain of jazz. Like the footloose Madeleine Peyroux, she
is winning over the kind of listeners who probably never thought they liked
jazz. In reality, Gardot is almost as much of a beginner as many of her
admirers. When I arrive at her tiny hotel room the next morning, her laptop
is playing Charles Mingus.
She listens hard to part of a saxophone line, enraptured by the slow bending
of the note. Yet it turns out that she is not an old Mingus hand at all. She
had first encountered the great bassist-composer’s volcanic recordings only
a month earlier, courtesy of the musicians in her band.
She is absorbing new names all the time. One day it is Bessie Smith, the
next Anita O’Day. Her tastes wander far across the blues, pop and
world-music spectrum, from plantation songs recorded by the musicologist
Alan Lomax to a slab of material by her favourite artist, the chameleon-like
Brazilian master Caetano Veloso. She keeps the music playing during our
conversation, pointing out snippets she admires and at one point echoing
Veloso’s keening phrases.
Gardot, you see, is at that happy stage of her career when she soaks up
influences almost effortlessly. “With a band that knows so much, and me
knowing so little, I’m always in a position to learn more,” she says.
“That’s a good place to be. I feel that none of us truly masters one thing
in a lifetime, but it helps to have beautiful people surrounding you. I’m
like a sailboat surrounded by beautiful breezes.”
What makes her achievement all the more impressive is that she is living
with the consequences of a near-fatal traffic accident that left her with
serious physical and neurological disabilities. She wears tinted glasses
because of her extreme sensitivity to light, and uses a walking cane to move
around on stage. Strapped to her waist, much of the time, is a small device
‹ a Tens machine ‹ that emits electronic impulses to curb the pain. Touring
can be an ordeal. The curtains are drawn when I arrive in mid-afternoon;
incense is burning. Gardot, who seems immune to self-pity, jokingly explains
how one of her first priorities on arriving at a hotel is checking that her
room has a good bathtub. Long soaks in epsom salts and healing oils are
among her ways of dealing with life on the road.
The accident happened when she was 19. Cycling near a junction, she was
struck by a 4WD that had jumped the lights. Her pelvis was shattered and
head injuries erased her short-term memory. Bedridden for a year, she
consulted a string of doctors before one of them, who took a special
interest in the effect of music on theneural pathways, suggested that she
take up the guitar and songwriting. Gardot had already been making some
money by playing in piano bars. During her convalescence, she embarked on
the long and painful journey to the recording of what was to become her
first album, Worrisome Heart.
Her long hair half hidden beneath a beret, Gardot rests on her bed as we
talk. She seems particularly frail today, but is clearly reluctant to go
into too much detail. Music is what matters most of all ‹ she laughs at the
memory of how, when she first wore the Tens machine for a concert, it caused
a buzzing sound on her guitar pick-up. It took her a good 20 minutes to
realise what was causing the problem.
The night before, in her show, there was a sense that her energy levels were
dipping. The urban setting, for all its allure, had its drawbacks in terms
of distractions. “It was difficult,” Gardot admits. “Our music is at times
so intimate, you sometimes think you almost need the stillness of a field
for people to be able get it.” Her penchant for ballads can also make
excessive demands on an audience’s concentration. By and large, however, the
approach pays dividends. “I kind of see music in two ways,” she explains.
“It’s just like in speech. If you hear someone who talks loud and fast,
you’re going to back away. If you’ve got someone who talks slowly and
softly, you might get annoyed, because you have to strain to listen. But
there’s that middle ground that can be inviting.”
This is music that is full of silences. The instrumentation is unusually
stark ‹ just bass, drums and trumpet for the most part, with Gardot adding
subtle textures on keyboard and guitar. As she observes: “It’s more
challenging to play less. They’ve all come to me and said that. It’s fun to
play a lot of notes, because they can goof off, but they love the challenge
of having to underplay.
To tell a drummer to go slowly, I think that’s harder than going fast. He
has to play delicately and consciously. You have to play the notes that
aren’t there, as it were.”
Music is worthless, Gardot believes, unless it comes from the heart. Before
every concert, she and her musicians hold hands and join in a prayer in
which everyone asks the spirits of great players of the past to watch over
the performance. On stage, there is a hint of the mysterious vamp about her.
The clothes and hairstyle have an unmistakeable touch of bohemian chic, as
befits a former art and fashion student. Face to face, though, she looks
much younger, much more endearingly girlish. If she can seem cool and
distant when she is performing, it is her all-embracing enthusiasm that
makes the biggest impression in conversation.
When I notice a copy of Tchaikovsky’s diaries on the table, Gardot talks
about her love of Dostoevsky, Tom Stoppard and the theatre of the absurd.
(“It’s funny: one of the themes of my tours is waiting around for me. You
know, Waiting for Gardot.”) She discovered the diaries in her local library.
The copy was so old that the librarian would not allow it to be taken out of
the building, so Gardot used to visit every day simply to read a few more
pages. In another life, she says, she might have been a teacher.
Her art training constantly comes into play. “I see all my music in
colours,” she says. “When things feel good, they blend together, like
watercolours. If it’s not right, they stay linear ‹ the reds, the blues and
the rest are completely separate. I always draw analogies to painting, which
drives my musicians insane. In fact, at one point I kept saying Œframe’
instead of Œbar’. They said, ŒWhat are you talking about?’ ”
Gardot did learn music theory when she was much younger, but most of it has
been forgotten now. She pauses and stares into space. “Perhaps it is an
advantage in some ways,” she says. “I feel freer not thinking in circles of
fifths.” Yes indeed, the heart has its own reasons.
Melody Gardot performs at the Bloomsbury Theatre, WC1, tomorrow
Latest Albums Produced by JOE BLANEY Reviewed In Rolling Stone and Billboard
Sky Bombers are A&R Worldwide's "Artist Of The Week"
A&R WORLDWIDE’S "ARTIST OF THE WEEK" – SKYBOMBERS
Melbourne, Australia’s Skybombers are one of the strongest and most
consistent new rock bands to emerge from Down Under (or anywhere else in the
world, for that matter) in the past decade. They’ve been an A&R Worldwide
favorite since they came to our attention back in the summer of 2006 (when
the band had barely formed) and have been featured several times over the
past two years. The four-piece possesses enormous global potential, which
makes it no surprise as to why Alberts--home to AC/DCŠone of the
biggest-selling rock bands in the world--inked these talented lads
immediately. Skybombers have recorded a brand-new album, Take Me To Town,
which is already garnering critical acclaim from journalists, tastemakers
and fans alike. The album was recorded in Los Angeles with respected
produced RICK PARKER and is full of numerous potential hit singles,
including “Eleanor’s Lullaby,” which could be a multi-format smash across
the globe – it’s a perfect anthem for all seasons and all demographics that
love great songs. Skybombers have racked up hundreds of plays on US
commercial radio with no label support and have also been added to
Australia’s national youth radio network station Triple J amongst many
others (including early support on Xfm in the UK and Motor FM in Germany).
To listen to the single “Eleanor’s Lullaby,” click HERE. For additional
details, check out www.myspace.com/skybombers.
Uncut Magazine Awards Walter Becker's New Album 4 Stars
PETER KATIS talks with E.Q. magazine
Peter Katis chats with E.Q magazine about producing the latest Mates Of State Album.
Click here to
read the article.
Herbie Hancock and Joni Mitchell perform on Nissan Live Sets On Yahoo!
Herbie Hancock and Joni Mitchell perform tracks from Herbie's Grammy Award Album Of The Year "River: The Joni Letters" on Nissan Live Sets On Yahoo! "River: The Joni Letters" was produced by LARRY KLEIN. Click here to
IAMSOUND in 944 magazine
Our sister label IAMSOUND Records makes it into 944 Magazine!.
KEVIN BARNES in Rolling Stone!
KEVIN BARNES talks about his work on the forthcoming Of Montreal album in the April issue of Rolling Stone.
NIN, Music Ripe To Remix
Music Ripe to Remix By Jon Pareles New Yokr Times, March 10, 2008 "Ghosts I-IV"
(The Null Corporation)
Anything Radiohead can do, Trent Reznor can do his way. Nine Inch Nails, his recording project, has joined Radiohead among the million-sellers who are now free agents in the digital era, and his first move is radical: "Ghosts I-IV," an album made to be shared and altered freely.
"Ghosts I-IV" is 36 instrumental tracks (or near-instrumental, since human voices are among the sounds) and a coordinated set of elegantly eerie photographs. It's available as a high-fidelity, easily copied download for $5, a two-CD set for $16.99 (including shipping) and in deluxe versions from ghosts.nin.com; in April there will be a retail four-LP vinyl version for $39. The opening nine tracks are also available free, from ghosts.nin.com. Instead of a standard copyright, Mr. Reznor gave the music a Creative Commons license; it can be shared and reworked as long as music built on "Ghosts" is noncommercial and attributed to Nine Inch Nails.
Mr. Reznor's collaborator on "Ghosts" is Atticus Ross, his programmer and co-producer; a few guest musicians like Adrian Belew add guitar and other noises. Even without verbal cues — the track titles are numbers — much of the music is still unmistakably Nine Inch Nails: overloaded electronic dance beats (3, 7, 16, 19, 24, 29), isolated piano notes and elegies (1, 9, 12, 36), pounding rock (4, 26, 27, 31, 35) or all of them together (10), usually in minor keys in the bleak, open soundscapes that Mr. Reznor has perfected. "Ghosts" also shows his pattern-building side, with plinking Steve Reich percussion in tracks 10 and 21, and tries some uncharacteristic sounds like thumb piano in 21, orchestral samples in 11 and banjo in 28.
Most tracks can stand on their own, but they could also be heard as incomplete or anticipatory, potential soundtrack music or backing tracks for songs. Unlike Radiohead, which labors to make every song definitive and complete, Mr. Reznor has fully embraced a user-generated era. He has encouraged listeners to remix, "mutilate or destroy" the Nine Inch Nails catalog, even providing some separate instrumental parts. Now, with "Ghosts," he's virtually inviting other people's voices. It's Nine Inch Nails karaoke - add your own angst.
Herbie Handcock on CBS Morning Show
Check out this story about Herbie Handcock's Grammy Award wining album "River: The Joni Letters" on The CBS Sunday Morning Show. The album was produced by Worlds End client LARRY KLEIN.
Herbie Hancock Rides On The River by Todd Leopold/CNN.com
Herbie Hancock has been here before.
Herbie Hancock has won 10 Grammys -- and could add more to his take this year.
The famed jazz pianist has 10 Grammy Awards to his credit -- for such works as "Rockit," "A Tribute to Miles" and "Gershwin's World" -- not to mention nominations for several more. He's no stranger to other honors, having won tributes from organizations ranging from MTV to the National Endowment for the Arts.
But, he says, it was still a shock to hear his name announced among the nominations for Grammy's 2007 album of the year for his album "River: The Joni Letters" (Verve).
"I was blown away by the nomination," he says in a phone interview from Los Angeles.
But, he adds, in a way it's appropriate.
"It's so timely. It's the 50th anniversary of the Grammy Awards, and the Recording Academy and the Grammys were designed in order to expose a variety of music to the public. In a way [this year's nominations] are a way to get back to the purpose of what the Academy is about in the first place," he observes, noting that the five album of the year nominees -- "River," Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black," Vince Gill's "These Days," the Foo Fighters' "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace" and Kanye West's "Graduation" -- are from five different genres.
"I'm just fortunate that one of them happens to be for my record," he says. The awards are scheduled for Sunday.
On the one hand, "River" would seem to be a natural for a Grammy nod, based on the Recording Academy's politics. Hancock, 67, is a musical eminence with decades of professional experience, including stints with Miles Davis and his own V.S.O.P. quintet. His use of electronic keyboards in jazz was groundbreaking, and he's even had a couple of hit singles.
The Recording Academy likes to honor longtime veterans almost as much as it does newcomers, as it has with Ray Charles, Tony Bennett and Eric Clapton -- all of whom won album of the year in the last 15 years -- so Hancock would seem to have an edge over his fellow nominees for the big honor.
On the other hand, "River" is an unapologetic straight jazz album, with unusual harmonies and expansive running times -- not exactly a radio-friendly multiplatinum smash. In fact, in the history of the Grammys, only one pure jazz album -- Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto's 1964 "Getz/Gilberto" -- has won the big prize, one less than the number of comedy albums that has done so.
Hancock says "River: The Joni Letters" came about because of a suggestion from Verve executive Dahlia Ambach Caplin, who asked what Hancock was going to do for his next jazz record following 2006's somewhat pop recording, "Possibilities." Knowing about Hancock's friendship with Mitchell, the idea came up of doing an album of Mitchell songs, many of which have jazz underpinnings.
Hancock worked with producer LARRY KLEIN, Mitchell's ex-husband, on the record. "I knew he'd have an excellent understanding of Joni and her music," Hancock says.
The pianist was also accompanied by a crack band -- saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist Dave Holland, guitarist Lionel Loueke and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta -- and, on some cuts, joined by a spectrum of vocalists that included Norah Jones (singing "Court and Spark"), Corinne Bailey Rae ("River"), Leonard Cohen ("The Jungle Line") and Mitchell herself ("Tea Leaf Prophecy").
Hancock says the choice of songs -- some well-known, others well-hidden -- was deliberate.
"We didn't want to look for things that were the most popular," he says. "We wanted some obscure songs."
Though the famous vocalists' names have created interest in the album, on a number of songs, the instrumental arrangements tell the story. On the much-covered "Both Sides Now," which Judy Collins took to the top 10 in 1968, Hancock and his group create a wintry soundscape highlighted by piano and drum brushes, giving a wisdom to the song's (unheard) lyrics, written when Mitchell was in her mid-20s.
"I didn't start out thinking of the lyrics at all," Hancock says. "I started off with the melody ... and ended up with something kind of interesting."
But that's not to say he wasn't aware of the words and their tale of changing perspective ("I've looked at love from both sides now/ From give and take and still somehow/ It's love's illusions I recall/I really don't know love at all"). "I know Joni and how her songs come from the lyrics," he says. "Whatever I do has to relate directly to the lyrics."
For Hancock, "River: The Joni Letters" is another step in his growth as an artist. He resists stereotyping and says that, even at 67, there's plenty left to learn.
"I don't pay attention to pigeonholes," he says. "The more I can expand myself, the more I can find a common ground between myself as a human being and other human beings, the more material there is and the more ideas there are -- the more ways of expression there are available to me."
TIM PALMER Interviewed For The New H.I.M Album
HIM Jan 1, 2008 12:00 PM By Bryan Reesman
COURTING VENUS DOOM
You may not yet be familiar with HIM's music, but you've probably seen their symbol: the Heartagram, a pentagram with its top two corners rounded off. It symbolizes the group's symbiotic marriage of darkness and light, menace and melody in their self-described "love metal" Ñ a combination of infectious hooks, driving rhythms and passionate, crooning vocals that wax poetic about the melancholy side of love. The music is Goth in spirit, metal in attitude and pop in accessibility, without losing its rough edges. The Finnish band has amassed a loyal following on both sides of the Atlantic during the past several years. Having a new song in the soundtrack for the movie Transformers movie certainly hasn't hurt their visibility.
HIM albums are like Star Trek movies: The odd numbered ones are good, the even numbered ones are great. The quintet's sixth album, Venus Doom, is their heaviest and darkest work yet, contrasting with the 2005 more radio-friendly Dark Light. It's an album rife with emotional turmoil, which is not surprising given that during the past two years, frontman/songwriter Ville Valo went through a tumultuous long-distance relationship, was victimized in a drugging and mugging incident after a show, and lost a friend to suicide. It was heavy stuff, but luckily he and his bandmates had a familiar friend, producer Tim Palmer, to guide them through the creative catharsis. Palmer previously mixed their 2003 Love Metal album and produced Dark Light, plus two songs on the band's greatest-hits compilation, And Love Said No.
"We reached the comfort zone, where everyone is relaxed, faster," reports Palmer, who has also worked with Ozzy Osbourne, Tin Machine, Robert Plant and many others. "Trust is something that has to be earned and does not come automatically, but as we had all worked together in the past, we just got straight into it. [Co-producer] Hilli Hiilesmaa is a great engineer, and he and I work together well as a team, so it all made sense. We got a lot achieved in quite a short time."
HIM's brooding Venus Doom Ñ which charges through head-banging numbers like "Passion's Killing Floor" and melodic anthems like "Bleed Well" and closes with the psychedelic ballad "Cyanide Sun" Ñ was recorded at Finnvox in Helsinki, Finland, during February and March 2007 and mixed at Paramount Studios in Hollywood in April. The album follows in the footsteps of its heavier cousin, Love Metal.
The group Ñ Valo, guitarist Lily (Linde) Lazer, keyboardist Emerson Burton, bassist Mige Amour and drummer Gas Lipstick Ñ was up to the challenge. They combined crunching, speaker-rumbling guitars with delicate melodies and fast-paced passages with slower breaks, balancing emotional agony with contemplative serenity. One wonders if the harsh Scandinavian winter and the area's history of moody art played any role in the album's contrasts.
"I was reading a lot of Scandinavian poetry, but it doesn't directly influence me; maybe the mood a bit," explains Valo, who has the faces of Charles Baudelaire, Charles Bukowski and Finnish poet Timo K. Mukka tattooed on his forearms, and the eyes of Edgar Allen Poe on his back. "We recorded the album in Finland during the winter, so it was cold and dark. It's not necessarily depressing, but I've gotten used it to because I've lived there for some years. There are some heavy riffs that maybe needed some heavy subject matter, as well."
Los Angeles transplant Palmer set off for Finland during the winter. He expected cold and darkness and was not disappointed. He went skiing at Mammoth Lakes, Calif., near Yosemite National Park, for two days prior to traveling to acclimatize himself to Finland's freezing conditions.
"Personally, I find being dropped into a new city to make an album is an exciting prospect," he says. "It's hard to be away from family, but in return you can totally commit yourself to the music. The time lag was a bit of a problem. I was waking up at 5 a.m., and the band didn't like to start until 3 p.m. At the beginning, that was too much free time, but once music was recorded I used that time to edit and compile on my laptop [with Pro Tools LE] in the hotel. In Helsinki, I worked with Hilli, and this was great as he works a lot at Finnvox and knew the studio well."
The producer reports that there were strong vibes in the studio when the group set out to record Venus Doom. "We were all excited about the new material and the band are all great players, so we were just having fun with it," he says. "We decorated the studio, drank a lot of coffee, smashed violins, ate reindeer and even had time to drink a few beers." Smashed violins? "For stress, some people have a drink, some pop a pill, some take Yoga and some get a massage," he quips. "I smash up classical instruments."
Whatever works. At Finnvox, the group recorded in a large live room using an SSL AWS 900 console and DAW controller with a sidecar of Neve 1081 preamps. They monitored on Genelec 1031A speakers. When it comes to mics, Palmer says he's no snob. While he is extremely fussy about what he wants to hear, "I couldn't give a damn how I get to it!" he declares. "If it sounds good to me, it's all good." Palmer says that he likes "a lot of the classics," and that the Shure SM57 is probably his all-time favorite microphone.
"I use it on guitar amps, snare drums and many times on a lead vocal," he says. "I [once] tracked David Bowie's vocals on an SM58. For overheads and room mics, I generally use Neumann 87s and maybe Neumann valve [tube] U47s for the room mics. For Ville's lead vocal, we used a Neumann valve 67, a really nice one that the studio had. We tried many mics on Ville's vocal while we were tracking the acoustic B-sides, so when we came to do the album vocals we knew which mics we liked."
Lipstick pounded on a Tama Starclassic kit, while Amour played a '76 Fender Precision bass through a Mesa Boogie amp and an old Prince combo. He also used a Hamer 12-string bass.
In the control room at Finnvox are, from left, engineer Hiili Hiilesmaa, producer Palmer, keyboardist Burton, Valo, drummer Gas Lipstick, bassist Mige Amour and guitarist Linde Lazer.
"Linde mainly used his Gibson SG guitar, but as we added overdubs, new parts and textures, we tried a variety of other guitars," Palmer notes. "We often used an old semi-acoustic guitar that Ville owns. It is from the '40s and is called a Levin, and it sounded great through an amp. It has a really special sound. For the low parts, we used a Danelectro baritone guitar. We also used a Telecaster for some solos and an ESP Baritone. Burton had a nice old Wurlitzer, and the Roland V-Synth and Fantom synths. I think he had a Clavia Nord Modular, also."
The distortion that's prevalent throughout much of the album came from a combination of amps. Palmer says that some songs "featured the Laney with a little Marshall and vice versa. I had it set so I could adjust the balance as the track began to take shape. Obviously, we could go for a different sound also by choice of guitar. For a lot of the clean parts and the textured overdubs, I often used a plug-in to create a distortion. I like the Ôclassic' [Line 6] Amp Farm plug-in, and I am a big fan of the Sound Tools bundle. It's wonderful to be able to fine-tune your plug-ins right up until the point of printing!"
Venus Doom includes some intriguing sounds beyond the regular rock instruments. Some screams from Valo are placed in background spots, while on the title track, a sample of a child screaming on a rollercoaster that Palmer recorded was used behind the main riff. Music box samples are also incorporated, notably on the ambient break of the 10-minute-plus epic "Sleepwalking Past Hope." "I think one sample was taken from an old music box my father found in Germany in the '40s," recollects Palmer. "It has an eerie quality." The other sample was created by Burton and used in the ambient middle section of the title track.
One track was not recorded in Finland, but at a famous Los Angeles hotel on the spur of the moment. Valo got some inspiration and picked up his acoustic guitar, and the producer captured him recording the minute-long "Song or Suicide," the shortest track in the band's history. The tune was inspired by a folk song from the '70s: "It's a quote from a folksy singer who died from a heroin overdose, Judee Sill," explains Valo. "She had a relationship that was really bad, and in an interview she just said it was either a song or a suicide, so she wrote a song about it."
"At this point, Ville was in a pretty dark place, and we were spending quite a few evenings at the Chateau Marmont just chatting and listening to music," recalls Palmer. "I had my laptop with Pro Tools LE and an Mbox around, so after a few too many drinks we decided to try and record in the bungalow. It was really fun, and it was just an acoustic and vocal. It catches the mood well, and you can hear the cars moving along Sunset Boulevard at the end."
The album was mixed at Studio C at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, which Palmer says has been his studio of choice for a while. "I love the huge control room," he says. "I leave the room at the end of the evening without feeling like I have been closed-in all day. They have a very large J Series SSL and as much outboard equipment as you could wish for. The room is very true, so when it sounds good in there you are not in for any surprises later. The staff is very efficient and the room is very private."
Venus Doom certainly marks an important step in HIM's evolution. The sonic contrasts are more striking and the songwriting more mature. "Many albums are a reaction to the band's last work," offers Palmer. "Dark Light's more textured and warmer sound, I guess, are a reaction to the more edgy Love Metal. Venus Doom and its Black Sabbath riffs and complex arrangements are a reaction to Dark Light. I prefer Venus Doom because it is a step forward in songwriting and sonics. It is the sound of a band firing on all cylinders, not afraid to bring back the rock."
Billboard Reviews Neil Young's New Album Co-Produced and Engineered by NIKO BOLAS
Chrome Dreams II NEIL YOUNG Producer(s): Neil Young, Niko Bolas Label: Reprise
If Neil Young has been consistently inconsistent throughout his career, he is rarely as all over the map on the same album as he is on "Chrome Dreams II," named akin to a 1976 album that never materialized. The humble, sweet strummer "Beautiful Bluebird" conjures the mid-'70s acoustic classic "Comes a Time"; the steel guitar-soaked "Ever After" recalls the pure country of "Old Ways"; and "Ordinary People" and "No Hidden Path"Ñwhich together clock in at nearly 33 minutesÑoffer an electric swirl of "Greendale," "Broken Arrow" and "After the Gold Rush." It's a hodge-podge that presents Neil the fighter, Neil the philosophizer, Neil the husband, Neil the softie and Neil the hippie. "Ordinary People" is the dividing line: a rambling, piano- and horn-encrusted portrait of America sure to be loved and hated equally. Overall though, is the album better than "Prairie Wind" or "Living With War"? Yes.ÑWes Orshoski
The Sunday Times Reviews New Peter Grant Album Produced by CHRISTOPHER NEIL
Is there room for another Jamie Cullum? Absolutely, and it's to Peter Grant's enormous credit that he already seems on the way to becoming his own man. Okay, as with Cullum, echoes of Harry Connick Jr Ð a gifted musician with a knack for irritating the more puritanical critics Ð are hard to overlook. But there's a gritty quality to his singing and choice of material that grabs your attention. The title number is a convincing stab at the dancefloor, and Grant bares his soul convincingly on the soul ballad Until You Come Back to Me. Barely out of his teens, he has proved he can hold the stage at Ronnie Scott's. This is the next step in what promises to be a fascinating journey.
EMMY ROSSUM Debut "Inside Out" Debuts at #10 on iTunes.
LOS ANGELES, August 3, 2007
Four days into Emmy Rossum's recording career, the actreess best known for her acting roles in Phantom Of The Opera, Mystic River, and The Day After Tomorrow, has her diversity validated with her debut, Inside Out, landing at #10 on I Tunes' top album chart.
Inside Out is a three song digital bundle exclusively sold on iTunes released through Geffen Records on July 31. Along with the songs each bundle comes with a free 18 minute documentary about the making of her full length album which is due out this fall.
On top of the #10 ranking across all genres Inside Out was #2 on the iTunes Pop Charts, and is in the digital stores' "Best of The Stores" section, where the iTunes staff picks 13 songs into an eclectic mix tape.
Despite her being known primary as an actress, music has always played a major role in Emmy Rossum's life. When she was seven years old, she was singing with the Metropolitan Opera, and by the time she was a teenager, she had auditioned, and won, the part of Christine in the film version of Phantom of the Opera, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination.
Rossum recorded her new music with producer Stuart Brawley, with whom she co-wrote all of the songs, and it represents a showcase for her remarkable vocal range.
"I feel a real emotional connection to these songs," she says. "It's a real expression of my innermost thoughts and feelings, hence the title Inside Out."
"Slow Me Down," the first single and included on the iTunes bundle, incorporates more than 150 different vocal parts and harmonies, every one sung by Emmy herself.
"It's about finding a respite from all the craziness," says theperformer about the song. "I wanted to create a kind of music that wouldallow me to use my voice as an instrument. I tried to discover the boundary of the human voice.
The World According to JACK ENDINO
The World According To Jack Endino By Merrick Angle | August 2007
Since starting out ages ago, back in 1985, Jack Endino has managed to record literally hundreds of albums, helping define the grunge sound by working extensively with the likes of Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Tad, and heaps more. Legendary productions aside, Endino is also the consummate musician-recordist, having played in acts as diverse as Skin Yard and Kandi Coded, as well as his self-titled solo project (a new album Ñ Permanent Fatal Error Ñ is out now).
Perhaps what Endino is best known for is the mammoth guitar sounds he consistently gets from the bands he works with and in. By adhering to a "less is more" ethos Ñ focusing more on capturing inspiring performances and translating the artist's true intent to tape instead of being too heavy-handed with production trickery Ñ Endino as a producer has become synonymous with pure rock. Catching up with Endino at his home in Seattle, we decided to pick his brain about the tried-and-true production techniques he's employed throughout the years to achieve some of the greatest guitar sounds for some of the most important rock albums of recent years.
EQ: What is/has been your philosophy on recording, and how has it developed over the years?
Jack Endino: When I was starting out, I tried really hard to make my records reach what this idea I thought "professional" sounded like. I went thru all the pitfalls you go through as an up-and-coming engineer Ñ I totally drank the Kool-Aid. Compressing the crap out of everything, click tracks, noise reduction, automation, renting tons of fancy gear, blah, blah, blah. I made some records in three months, some in three weeks, and some in three days. Finally it dawned on me that the "three month records" weren't really the best ones, and that began a long process of unlearning and rethinking. I guess you could call me an anti-perfectionist now. I believe you should make the best record you can, so I don't like lo-fi sloppiness for its own sake, but it comes down to what you really mean by "best." I realized that if records are too slick or too perfect, you just get tired of listening to them sooner. The "soul" lives in the little imperfections. Think of the albums made by the Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, James Brown Ñ even Motorhead for that matter; records that are slightly raw but still sound good are the ones we keep listening to decades later. The big Seattle grunge bands knew this instinctively. . . .
EQ: The rough edges are what define many great recordings.
JE: It's like I have a sterility meter in my head. I want to make rock records that are honest, sound good, and will stand the test of time. My position now is this: There's no compelling reason whatsoever to waste days and days in the studio putting a rock band on a grid with a click track, auto-tuning the vocals, and replacing all the live drums with samples. None of that has anything to do with music.
EQ: So what sort of techniques, specifically, did you use in those early days but no longer bother with?
JE: I used click tracks for rock bands a few times, and now I just refuse to. I might start the song with a click just to make sure the band is in the right ballpark, but then I take it out of their headphones. My feeling is that recording music to a perfect grid is a huge killer of soul. The natural variations contain the most emotion and expression; remove those and one entire dimension of the music is gone. And that push-pull thing drummers do against click tracks literally makes me cringe. Click tracks have one purpose and one purpose only, and that's to make it easier to use certain production techniques. It's changing the music to fit a production methodology instead of the other way around. But almost anything you once needed a click track for, you can do now without one, with only slightly more work involved. I recommend a little gadget called a Beat Bug [www.luglock.com] for drummers or producers who are worried about tempo. If the drummer's good enough to play convincingly to a click, he probably doesn't need the click.
Another thing I avoid like the plague is console automation. Never liked it. It slows me down too much. I'm glad I held out because Pro Tools renders it 100% obsolete. The last record I mixed on an SSL, I never even turned the automation on, just the snapshot thing. Ninety-five percent of the records in my discography were recorded without click tracks or samples, and mixed without automation . . . and for the vast majority I used no compression on the stereo bus either. Mixing without bus compression forces you to work harder on getting your mixes right.
EQ: You're known for the guitar sounds you manage to get on the records you produce. How do you recommend guitarists prepare for a session?
JE: Change the strings the day before the session, so they have a chance to stretch and settle in. I tell drummers the same thing about drumheads: If you change them at the studio, you're wasting studio time, plus we will have to keep retuning them every five minutes until they stretch.
EQ: Your recordings have been described as having the quintessential big rock guitar sound. What are some of your choice techniques for achieving enormous-sounding guitar tracks?
JE: Well, less is more. When doubling rhythms, I like one left and one right Ñ that's it. If you start layering too much of the same performance, playing the same part, you get mush. The character of any performance, the humanity, is contained in all the tiny imperfections and timing differences. Too much layering averages all those little imperfections out. Instead of perfection, you end up with a sort of smeared statistical cloud of guitar with no personality or groove. And trying to make the performances "perfect" so they'll line up exactly when tripled or quadrupled is just a waste of studio time. One or two killer performances, recorded well and mixed loud, will always sound way more massive than ten almost identical performances layered together. Look, it may have been 20 years ago at the start of my career, but most of Nirvana's Bleach album has one guitar track, that's it. We had eight tracks and they had no money, but it worked because the performances were good.
Classic AC/DC and Van Halen are other good examples. A much better way to get a thick sound is to "Y" the guitar out to two or more amps with completely different distortion characteristics, and use different mics, like a [Shure] Beta 58 on one and a [Sennheiser] 421 on another. For instance, a Fender Bassman with a ProCo RAT pedal, and a Marshall with only its internal distortion, can combine and get a huge sound. You can nudge one of 'em in Pro Tools until they are exactly phase aligned. Pan those and you can get an extremely stereo sound from a single performance . . . or combine them on one side, and then double it, maybe trying a different amp combo. You do have to watch for polarity issues, though, as often one amp's output will be 180¼ out from another, depending on how many tube stages the signal is going through in each amp.
Now, if you just use two different speaker cabs with the same amp, the stereo difference is almost not worth bothering with. And using micro-delay tricks to "split" the sound left and right is a total waste of time unless you are doing it on purpose as a gimmick. It never combines to mono very well.
EQ: Since you put more stock in the performance than the production technique, do you tend to push guitarists to do hundreds of takes?
JE: Screw that! There's a bell curve to performing: It gets better for a while, and then it just gets sterile. I'm extremely sensitive to finding the top of that curve, which just might be the key to my whole career. Absolute perfection is boring. Sometimes I think you should get to the point where there is one tiny imperfection left that no one else can hear, and then stop. But often I lose that argument, we do 15 more takes, and pretty soon I'm ready to kill myself. My advice is: If you sense that the players are getting into a rut, move on to something else and come back to it fresh.
EQ: What to you are the defining aspects of a great guitar sound?
JE: The player. Amateur guitarists don't know when they are out of tune; they use too many effects Ñ too much reverb or distortion. Sometimes they'll want to put the mic too far away, or think a "room sound" is important when they haven't even gotten a decent close-up sound yet. Worst of all, amateurs may not realize when they have a crappy, shrill guitar tone with too much 2.5kHz (what I call the "pain" frequency). And I'm sorry; amp simulators are nice for not bothering the neighbors, but nothing beats actual air moving.
EQ: So how do you deal with an amateur guitarist?
JE: That's easy: Get them a great guitar sound and a great mix to play along with, and then start telling them stories about some of the other bad guitarists I've made great records for. Get them to play a few takes, whack together a quick composite track of the best bits, play it back and watch them smile as they realize it just doesn't have to be that hard. And remind them that it's just rock Ñ not rocket science.
Billboard Reviews New Korn Album Co-Produced by ATTICUS ROSS
BILLBOARD REVIEW Untitled KORN Producer(s): ATTICUS ROSS, Korn Label: Virgin
Korn's eighth studio album may lack a title, but there isn't much else that remains undefined about the band more than 10 years into its career. The act has evolved into a reliable source for efficiently brooding guitar riffs and lyrics heavy with antipathy, although it isn't afraid to still let loose its inner freak and experiment a bit. Check "Bitch We Got a Problem," an elegy to schizophrenia with a booming, fist-pumping chorus. Yet it's the delicate keyboard flourish and electro-buzzed verses that ultimately provide the hook. Here, Korn brings some of the adventurousness of 2002's "Untouchables" to 2005's radio-ready "See You on the Other Side," with angelic background vocals on "Starting Over," a bit of '60s psychedelia on "Kiss" and an epic-like build to a thrashy breakdown on "Ever Be." Indeed, Korn is one step closer to crafting an album built for arenas and headphones alike. ÑTodd Martens
Billboard Reviews New Hanson Album Co-Produced by DANNY KORCHMAR
BILLBOARD REVIEW The Walk HANSON Producer(s): DANNY KORTCHMAR, Hanson, Bleu Label: 3CG
"The Walk" has an iconic American sound in the same way that, say, Michael Bay makes iconic American movies; this is music to play while speeding a convertible down country roads at sunset with a blonde in a sundress standing up in the passenger seat, arms outstretched. Such an approach will, of course, endear Hanson to about as many people as it horrifies, but there's no doubt that 10 years after it sprung "Mmmbop" on an unsuspecting populace waiting for that Prodigy album, Hanson remains as aggressively accessible as ever. "Been There Before" packs a na-na-na chorus, "60" is the group's shot at the "Grey's Anatomy" market looking for something cuter than the Fray, and "Georgia" is all heartland jangle and cheeseburger-and-a-beer production that could fit right into pop, AC or country playlists. ÑJeff Vrabel
Los Angeles Times Reviews New Ozzy Osbourne Album Co-Produced by KEVIN CHURKO
Los Angeles Times Album Review Ozzy Osbourne - "Black Rain" (Epic)
Sobriety, injury and family headaches have not blunted the Ozzy edge. Aside from a pair of bloated ballads wherein lifelong basket case Osbourne unconvincingly proffers himself as a pillar of strength, "Black Rain" is largely worth the six-year wait for new originals.
True, only two songs kill, and they're the only ones Ozzy and co-producer Kevin Churko wrote without guitarist Zakk Wylde: "God Bless the Almighty Dollar" stomps like a giant robot crashing through riff thickets, an eerie piano interlude and a sarcastic chorus melody; and the album pitches to a heart-pounding conclusion with the muscular effrontery, punching-bag rhythm shifts and ear-biting tunefulness of "Trap Door."
But even if the rest lacks the same dynamism, it rocks ruthlessly thanks to Wylde's warhead guitar riffs and squirming-weasel solos, and the atmosphere slogs armpit-deep in sepulchral reverberations, sick-ax textures and nagging Bombay drones. Ozzy's doomy complaint of a voice, suspect in recent years, sounds supple, even gymnastic.
The lyrics? Ozzy's been watching TV and fears we're spiraling down the sewer Ñ news it ain't. At 58, though he's felt he was dying for decades, he sings that he's still "not going away."
"Black Rain" can't be compared with Ozzy's early-'80s work, falls just below the mark of 1991's "No More Tears," and floats close to the level of his other major statements over the last two decades Ñ all different, all unbalanced, all good.
Ñ Greg Burk