Wednesday, December 23, 2015

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM . . .

It seems every musician and their mama has released a Christmas album at some point in their careers. So here is a spotlight on the latest to musically deck them halls and make everything jolly.

KYLIE MINOGUE


For her first Christmas album, appropriately tilted, "Kylie Christmas", Kylie Minogue has put her own special spin to some holiday classics in addition to original material. Minogue has support by an interesting mix of musical talent including duets with Iggy Pop ("Christmas Wrapping"), the new host of "The Late Late Show", James Corden, (a cover of Yaz's "Only You"), her fellow pop-singer sister, Dannii ("100 Degrees" on the Deluxe Edition) and through the magic of technology, Frank Sinatra ("Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"). Here is the music video for a new tune, "Every Day's Like Christmas" which was written by Chris Martin of Coldplay and produced by the hot Norwegian production team, Stargate:




ARIANA GRANDE


One of today's hottest pop artists, Ariana Grande has just dropped a holiday EP, "Christmas & Chill" that features six original songs. Recorded in a week in her home studio, the twenty-two year old vocalist has made an impressive collection of slo-jam Christmas tunes delivered with a modern r&b flavor. These songs are so good you'll want to listen to them anytime of the year. Check out a couple of tracks to help get you in the holiday spirit:

"December" - Ariana Grande (2015) mp3

"Wit It This Christmas" - Ariana Grande (2015) mp3


SHARON JONES AND THE DAP-KINGS


Sharon Jones and her Dap-Kings has brought their retro-soul sound to celebrate the holiday season. With "It's a Holiday Soul Party", the band not only gives those familiar Christmas songs their own brand of funky polish but also delivers a grooving tune explaining the eight days of Hanukkah. There is some rocking new material as well including the touching "Ain't No Chimneys in the Projects" and "World of Love" which is a moving plea for peace over the holidays. Enjoy this video of Sharon & The Dap-Kings doing an amazing version of "White Christmas" like you've never heard before:

Thursday, December 17, 2015

NUMBER ONE FLASHBACK


During this week back in 1975, "That's The Way (I Like It)" by KC & The Sunshine Band topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This was the second of the band's total of five number one singles. Due to the disco craze sweeping the nation, those funky beats of Harry "KC" Casey & his band was exactly what everybody wanted to hear while grooving on the dance floor.

In Hialeah, Florida, a twenty-two year old Casey, who worked part-time in a record store and in the studio for TK Records, started a band, originally called "KC & The Sunshine Junkanoo Band". He met studio engineer, Richard Finch and they began working on songs together. They had a few local successes before writing the 1974 worldwide dance hit, "Rock Your Baby" for George McCrae.

Losing the "junkanoo", KC & the Sunshine Band released their self-titled debut album in 1975 which became an instant smash, eventually selling three million copies. It included their first number one song "Get Down Tonight" and "Boogie Shoes" which was later featured on the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack in 1977.

After disco began to fade by the early '80's, so did the hits for KC & the Sunshine Band. However, when dance music made a return to the pop charts in the 1990's, interest in this classic funk band resurfaced. Casey put together a new Sunshine Band and got to work recording new music and hitting the road.

"That's The Way (I Like It)" - KC & The Sunshine Band (1975) mp3

Thursday, December 10, 2015

RANDOM SIGHTS + SOUNDS

First, let's begin with some new music I'm really loving right now:

"Boys Like You" - Who Is Fancy featuring Meghan Trainor & Ariana Grande (2015) mp3

"Falling For You" - Teenage Mutant + Laura Welsh (2015) mp3

"Automatic" - ZHU + Alunageorge (2015) mp3



I saw drag performance artist, Joey Arias at the Redcat in downtown L.A. last month. He is well-known for a vocal style and mannerisms that imitates jazz legend Billie Holiday. This year marks the centennial of Holiday's birth and Arias is touring in a show that celebrates the singer.  He does amazing versions of some of her classics like "Lady Sings The Blues", "Summertime"  "God Bless The Child" and "Good Morning Heartache". If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend you check out Joey Arias live in concert. Take a look at this clip of Arias performing one of Holiday's most haunting songs,  "Strange Fruit":



And here is Lady Day performing that same song:



David Bowie is preparing to release his twenty-fifth studio album early next year and the sixty-eight year old rocker is exploring experimental art-jazz. He has dropped a ten-minute music video for the song "Blackstar" and the sounds and images are dream-like and trippy. Words will probably not adequately describe this, so just sit back and watch:



I never, EVER thought I would put music by Justin Bieber here on this blog yet shockingly here it is. The song is "Sorry" and it follows his recent number one single, "What Do You Mean?" (which I also happen to like?!) that continues to give the twenty-one year old Canadian singer some much needed musical respectability. Skrillex (who first helped Bieber on the road to being taken somewhat seriously with the surprise hit, "Where Are Ü Now") and Blood Diamonds produced the track and here is the music video that features the amazing moves of ReQuest and The Royal Family dance crews:

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

2015 ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS NOMINATIONS

The Grammy Award nominations were announced and Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar leads with a total of eleven including Album of The Year and Song of The Year.  Country-pop superstar Taylor Swift and alt-r&b artist, The Weeknd followed with seven nominations apiece. While these three acts enjoy major success and are top hit-makers, what is most notable this year is that commercial sales and popularity was not the motivating factor in the selection of many of these nominations. Artistry and innovation is just as important to the Recording Academy and one example of that is Alabama Shakes, a critically acclaimed alt-rock outfit that has a strong cult following but little radio play, received four nominations for their bold second album, "Sound & Color" including Album of The Year. Australian rocker Courtney Barnett may be unfamiliar to many but her debut album, "Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit" caught the attention of the Grammys and earned her a Best New Artist nod.

The 58th Annual Grammy Awards will be held in Los Angeles at the Staples Center on February 15th 2016. Here is a partial list of the 2015 nominations. For the complete list, go to:

Grammy.com

Album Of The Year:

"Sound & Color" — Alabama Shakes
"To Pimp A Butterfly" — Kendrick Lamar
"Traveller" — Chris Stapleton
"1989" — Taylor Swift
"Beauty Behind The Madness" — The Weeknd

Record Of The Year:

"Really Love" — D'Angelo And The Vanguard
"Uptown Funk" — Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars
"Thinking Out Loud" — Ed Sheeran
"Blank Space" — Taylor Swift
"Can't Feel My Face" — The Weeknd

Song Of The Year:

"Alright" — Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Anthony Spears & Pharrell Williams
"Blank Space" — Written by Max Martin, Shellback & Taylor Swift
"Girl Crush" — Written by Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna & Liz Rose
"See You Again" — Written by Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charles Puth & Cameron Thomaz
"Thinking Out Loud" — Written by Ed Sheeran & Amy Wadge

Best New Artist:

Courtney Barnett
James Bay
Sam Hunt
Tori Kelly
Meghan Trainor

Best Pop Solo Performance:

"Heartbeat Song" – Kelly Clarkson
"Love Me Like You Do" – Ellie Goulding
"Thinking Out Loud" – Ed Sheeran
"Blank Space" – Taylor Swift
"Can’t Feel My Face" – The Weeknd

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:

"Ship To Wreck" — Florence + The Machine
"Sugar" — Maroon 5
"Uptown Funk" — Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars
"Bad Blood" — Taylor Swift Featuring Kendrick Lamar
"See You Again" — Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth


Best Pop Vocal Album:

"Piece By Piece" – Kelly Clarkson
"How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful" – Florence + The Machine
"Uptown Special" – Mark Ronson
"1989" – Taylor Swift
"Before This World" – James Taylor

Best Dance Recording
:

"We're All We Need" — Above & Beyond Featuring Zoë Johnston
"Go" — The Chemical Brothers
"Never Catch Me" — Flying Lotus Featuring Kendrick Lamar
"Runaway (U & I)" — Galantis
"Where Are Ü Now" — Skrillex And Diplo With Justin Bieber

Best Rock Performance:

"Don't Wanna Fight" — Alabama Shakes
"What Kind Of Man" — Florence + The Machine
"Something From Nothing" — Foo Fighters
"Ex's & Oh's" — Elle King
"Moaning Lisa Smile" — Wolf Alice

Best Alternative Music Album:

"Sound & Color" — Alabama Shakes
"Vulnicura" — Björk
"The Waterfall" — My Morning Jacket
"Currents" — Tame Impala
"Star Wars" — Wilco

Best R&B Album:

"Coming Home" – Leon Bridges
"Black Messiah" – D’Angelo And The Vanguard
"Cheers To The Fall" – Andra Day
"Reality Show" – Jazmine Sullivan
"Forever Charlie" – Charlie Wilson

Best Urban Contemporary Album:

"Ego Death" — The Internet
"You Should Be Here" — Kehlani
"Blood" — Lianne La Havas
"Wildheart" — Miguel
"Beauty Behind The Madness" — The Weeknd

Best Rap Album:

"2014 Forest Hills Drive" — J. Cole
"Compton" — Dr. Dre
"If You're Reading This Its Too Late" — Drake
"To Pimp A Butterfly" — Kendrick Lamar
"The Pinkprint" — Nicki Minaj

Best Country Album:

"Montevallo" — Sam Hunt
"Pain Killer" — Little Big Town
"The Blade" — Ashley Monroe
"Pageant Material" — Kacey Musgraves
"Traveller" — Chris Stapleton

Thursday, December 3, 2015

BUT YOU CAINT USE MY PHONE


Neo-soul goddess, Erykah Badu has just dropped a new mixtape called "But You Caint Use My Phone" which fans may remember that title as the final line from her hit song, "Tyrone". This project, after a too-long, five-year hiatus by the forty-four year old singer, was inspired by Drake's new single, "Hotline Bling" with Badu recording her own reworked version. That followed with her creating a collection of songs involving communication and technology. With her co-producer, Zac Witness, otherwise known as "White Chocolate", Badu recorded over an eleven-day period out of his bedroom studio in their hometown of Dallas. Each song revolves around usage of the phone, some original and others reimagined covers from various artists like New Edition's "Mr. Telephone Man" and the Isley Brothers' "Hello, It's Me". The self-proclaimed "analog girl in a digital world" merges classic r&b and hip-hop with twisted melodies, chopped-up beats and distorted vocals that has her new music feeling delightfully old-school yet undeniably modern.

"Caint Use My Phone (Suite)" - Erykah Badu (2015) mp3

"Mr. Telephone Man" - Erykah Badu (2015) mp3

As a bonus, let's go back to 1997 and see Miss Badu performing live her then-new song, "Tyrone":

NEW SOUNDS

WHITNEY HOUSTON Words cannot express how much I miss the glorious voice of Whitney Houston . It's been five years since her passing...