Merrill Garbus has performed as tUnE-yArDs since 2009, and that band name has always been synonymous with forward movement—whether because of her explosive performance style or the always-surprising way in which her songs unfold. In 2011, tUnE-yArDs released its second album, w h o k i l l, a startling and sonically adventurous statement that led to widespread acclaim. She took the fall of 2012 off to relax and take Haitian drum lessons, but when 2013 came around she still hadn’t written any new music. As a challenge Garbus started working on two new ideas a day. She made rules: One day she would only use drum machines; on another she would start with vocals first. Soon she had 30 songs to play with – and 13 of those became her latest and greatest album, Nikki Nack. Her new enthusiasm and percussion skills are perfectly embodied on “Water Fountain” – the hyper and addictive first single that plays like a 21st Century jump-rope chant. Quiet Storm R&B, 80’s pop in the vein of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, and they hypnotic rhythms of Haitian folk music also make their way into the mix, but it’s Garbus’ amazing voice and tricky melodies that make Nikki Nack indispensible. You need this
Admirers have likened Eli “Paperboy” Reed to such luminaries as Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett, but he’s not merely trying to recreate a sound — Reed is channeling his influences and inspirations into making something all his own. “For me,” saysReed, “it’s all about writing pop songs. Soul music was the greatest pop music of the 20th century. I’m not trying to put anything on; this is what comes out, this is what happens”Nights Like This, which Reed produced with his guitarist and longtime collaborator Ryan Spraker, represents a sonic evolution beyond the singer’s soulful roots, taking his affinity for classic R&B and blending it with the ebullience of modern pop music – big beats, choppy samples, but plenty of old school charm and a killer voice. Nights Like This features the single “WooHoo” as well as “Shock to the System” which was co-written with Michael Fitzpatrick of Fitz and the Tantrums.
Do To The Beast is the first new album by The Afghan Whigs in over a decade and a half. Founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1988, the band has long stood out from its peers, with their savage blend of hard rock, classic soul, and frontman Greg Dulli’s searing angst and obsessions. The new album is both a homecoming it marks their return to Sub Pop and a glimpse into the future of one of the most acclaimed bands of the past thirty years.
Kelis describes her sixth album as “a kind of unspoken lovefest”, involving
two unlikely partners.
On the one hand, there is Kelis Rogers, who first came to prominence singing the hook of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s 1999 hit ‘Got Your Money’. This was the visually and sonically compelling 20 year-old whose debut album ‘Kaleidoscope’ helped usher in the wave of sharp, thrillingly futuristic R&B that dominated the charts in the early Noughties, as exemplified by her global hit, ‘Milkshake’.
On the other there is Dave Sitek, guitarist in acclaimed Brooklyn experimentalists TV On The Radio and producer to a certain kind of smart, indie band (the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Foals and Liars to name a few). ‘Food’ is a startling combination of Kelis’ most frank and vulnerable vocals to date, and Sitek’s inimitable sonic imprint. Littered with transcendent, Spector-esque lift, warm bottom ends and vast depth, the music is the perfect backdrop for Kelis’ unique voice. The latter has only improved with time and experience, and the album candidly explores pain, happiness and everything in between.
Recorded at Sitek’s house in LA (and entirely produced by him), Kelis’ new album, ‘Food,’ mints a sound that’s rootsy without ever being self consciously retro, that pitches live horns and gospel organ against electronics, that for all its classic soul and funk influences, couldn’t have been made any time but now. With two Grammy nominations, Platinum and Gold records, BRIT, Q and NME Awards and dozens of top 10 singles to her
name, Kelis has collaborated with the likes of Björk, Raphael Saadiq, Moby, Outkast, P Diddy and Skream to name but a few. Her recent collaboration with Calvin Harris, ‘Bounce,’ went straight into the top 10, and when she posted new track ‘Jerk Ribs’ without warning a few short months ago, she set the blogs alight.
Decisions is a collaboration between blues legend dubbed ‘King-of-the-Chitlin Circuit’ Bobby Rush with 7-piece funk band Blinddog Smokin’ and 6-time Grammy winner and Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee Dr. John. Rush’s last album was the Grammy nominated album Down In Louisiana. Despite the 50 year friendship of Rush and Dr. John, they had never recorded together until this year’s Another Murder In New Orleans. The song that finally brought these two masters of the blues together is the first single from Decisions, the first collaboration between Bobby Rush and Blinddog Smokin’. Dr. John and Rush with Blinddog Smokin’ have also filmed a music video coming out in early 2014, a rare appearance by Dr. John. Decisions comes as Rush continues his late-career emergence from the chitlin’ circuit underground to music mainstream. Having previously been featured in the ”Road to Memphis” segment of the Martin Scorcese documentary The Blues, Rush enjoyed perhaps the biggest success of his career last year with the Grammy-nominated record Down in Louisiana for Best Blues Album. Bobby Rush is a 2-time Grammy nominee, multiple Blues Music Award winner, and creator of the singular sound folk-funk.