Kelis recently put out her new David Sitek produced album, Food, and has been making the rounds to perform it on television. She stopped by Letterman yesterday with a very large band (which Letterman quips about in the beginning) and performed her single “Jerk Ribs.” Watch it below.
“Let’s get one thing straight. I know I shouldn’t like you,” begins the new single from Glasgow band PAWS. It’s a love song that recognizes that being in love doesn’t always yield positive results, nailing the feeling of heartache down to that gloriously descriptive title: “Owls Talons Clenching My Heart.” Lead singer Philip Taylor, singing in an echoing, Robert Pollard-esque drawl, captures the feel of a rocky relationship with a painful lyrical directness: “Everything I say or do to or for you makes me look the fool.” “And I feel bad, because you’ll be mad, and that’ll make you sad, and I don’t want to make you sad.” They’re sloppy lines, all second-guesses that run in circles of uncertainty and confusion which is precisely what makes them hit so hard and ring so true. Between this and the recently released “Tongues,” PAWS are throwing themselves right in the thick of bad vibes, and they’ve never sounded better. Listen below and check them out on tour.
Neneh Cherry returned earlier this year with the Four Tet-produced Blank Project, her first full-on solo album in 18 years. Now, she’s reunited with one of her old music-video directors, the veteran French fashion photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino, who first worked with Cherry on her “Manchild” video in 1989. Mondino did Cherry’s video for the seven-and-a-half-minute workout “Everything,” and the entire thing is one shot, a long, exceedingly slow zoom-in on Cherry as she frantically dances her way across a gigantic white room. It’s a fitting tribute to Cherry’s berserker charisma, and you can watch it below.
Akin to the early-’90s post-Nirvana feeding frenzy in the Pacific Northwest, the Britpop explosion of the mid-’90s spawned a similar slash-and-burn signing boom on the other side of the pond. And as with post-Nirvana culture, the milieu surrounding Blur and Oasis gave way to a litany of fates for bands just hungry for their slice of attention in what rapidly became an over-saturated and bloated scene. There were keepers — the Divine Comedy were seemingly impervious to a slightly raised profile, and have a nearly peerless discography, while Ash astoundingly continue to dazzle, playing from the same deck of cards as Brad Pitt in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, capturing the spirit of youth with even more alacrity as they ostensibly age in reverse. There’s also the feckless dreck — Ocean Colour Scene, 60 Ft. Dolls, and Dodgy were tailor-made to cynically exploit the successes of their contemporaries, and they failed miserably, releasing largely insipid albums. And then there were the bands that perhaps didn’t have what it take to swing for the fences, but nonetheless made the most of their fleeting moments in the spotlight. The prime example of this template is Drugstore, who released one of the more underrated albums of the ’90s with their Radiohead-championed self-titled debut. Rock and roll notoriously gets interesting at its fringes. We’ve chosen 20 of Britpop’s notable wannabes and also-rans to feature in this B-List, which is compiled alphabetically below. Not all these bands deserve to be celebrated, but they do deserve to be remembered. Dig in and you’ll certainly find a few keepers, those who rightfully deserve a place alongside Pulp, Suede, Verve, Blur, and Oasis for having released some of the most compelling music of the ’90s.
Now that his lovely singer-songwriterly album Morning Phase is out and his two Coachella sets are done, the Beck comeback is officially in full swing. Last night, he brought his single “Blue Moon” to Jimmy Kimmel Live. Kimmel had Beck perform on the show’s outdoor festival stage, which was smart, since California twilight is probably the ideal place and time to hear a song like “Blue Moon.” Watch the performance below.
Future Islands have been getting tons of attention ever since 4AD signed them and David Letterman co-signed them. One of the oddest examples is this new “moving portrait” from Google Play in which footage of bandmates Samuel T. Herring, William Cashion, and Gerritt Welmers staring sentimentally at the camera is matched with audio recordings of their responses to questions about what makes them happy, what they need in life, etc. Some of the story behind new album Singles is included. Watch below.
Back when I was a teenage nu-metal fan, “New Skin” was the song that got me into Incubus, which actually was a huge upgrade from some of the dreck I was subjecting myself to at the time. I’ll still ride for the Incubus song, but this new Torres song called “New Skin” is perhaps more in line with our collective notions of good taste and quality. Mackenzie Scott recorded the tune for Philadelphia non-profit Weathervane Music’s web series Shaking Through with a band including Sharon Van Etten, the War On Drugs members Adam Granduciel and Dave Hartley, and Ted Leo/RX drummer Chris Wilson. It’s in line with the mournful and bombastic alt-rock that inspired us to name Torres one of last year’s best new bands. Find audio and video of “New Skin” below plus a featurette about the recording session.
Now that “Happy” has conquered the known universe to the extent that even your mom is starting to get sick of it, Pharrell has finally gotten around to making another video. It’s for “Marilyn Monroe,” the opening track from his deeply enjoyable new album G I R L, and it works overtime to get Pharrell into various rooms with as many women as possible. There’s a lot of dancing in this video — in a rehearsal studio, on a candy-colored set, on a fake Broadway stage. And only some of that dancing is there to get gratuitous butt-shots of stretching women in there, though god knows this video isn’t hurting for gratuitous butt-shots. I’m pretty sure the woman dancing with P at the end of the video is his wife Helen Lasichanh, which means she’s presumably cool with this whole thing. It’s a bright, colorful video, and you can watch it below.