For many Americans, this year’s Mercury Prize nominees comprised a whole lotta “Who the heck is that?” I mean: GoGo Penguin? East India Youth? Polar Bear? Did any of those records even get a Stateside release? Yeah there were a few familiar names on that shortlist — FKA Twigs, Damon Albarn, Anna Calvi … Bombay Bicycle Club, I guess — but then you’ve got Nick Mulvey, Kate Tempest … Seriously, who the heck are those people? Yes, they’re accomplished musicians, of course, but besides that! Anyway, the winner of this year’s Mercury Prize Album Of The Year is Scottish hip-hop group Young Fathers, who take home the gold for their album Dead. I can honestly say I have never heard a Young Fathers song (not proud of this cultural ignorance, btw, just being honest with you guys). I guess that will change now! Young Fathers follow James Blake and Alt-J, who won the award in 2013 and 2012, respectively. Congrats! Here’s the list of nominees who did not win:
Angelo De Augustine stays making gorgeously fragile intimate acoustic ballads on that Elliott Smith tip. “You Open To The Idea” is the latest song he’s shared from debut album Spirals Of Silence, and like “How Past Begins” and “Old Hope” before it, it’s just unimaginably pretty. Listen.
On the most recent episode of the British live-music show Later With Jools Holland, tUnE-yArDs came though and played “Water Fountain,” the joyously dazed and rhythmically complex song from their new album Nikki Nack. Even if you don’t love Merrill Garbus’ records, it’s deeply impressive to see her and her bandmates recreating those sounds in person. Robert Plant, a guest on that same episode, was so taken with the band that he charged right over and gushed about how good they were. Strangulated-yelp game recognize strangulated-yelp game. Watch the performance below.
Jack White was part of a panel at Yale last night that also included pioneering rock critic Greil Marcus plus fellow music biz figures Dean Blackwood, Scott Blackwood, and Adia Victoria. The occasion was the imminent release of The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Volume Two, the reissue project from White’s Third Man Records and Dean Blackwood’s Revenant Records. Here’s a summary from The Yale Daily News, where a young Rory Gilmore once plied her trade:
Even with my never-ending obsession with music from the early ’80s, it’s a pretty rare opportunity when I get the chance to write anything about my favorites from that era. Last week, one of those rare opportunities popped up. I called Jim Kerr, the frontman of the Simple Minds — i.e., the man who sang a handful of my favorite songs, ever — while he was in Glasgow to talk about the band’s first new record in five years, Big Music. It’s a title so appropriate for the Simple Minds’ music that it’s surprising it’s taken them more than three decades to apply it. Whether it was the massive choruses of pop-era Simple Minds, like “Don’t You Forget About Me” or “Alive And Kicking,” or whether it was the twistier, artier stuff from Empires And Dance or New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84), there’s always been an expansiveness to their music. At its core, Simple Minds’ music has always sounded to me like the product of city rhythms, but also possessing a hunger to see and consume and understand all the permutations of our world and the people in it. Movement’s always been a major theme, and accordingly my conversation with Kerr touched on little bits and pieces from the whole of this 35-year arc he’s been on with the Simple Minds — from the new, big music to the old, big music, to his love for his adopted home in Italy.
Yesterday Luna announced a run of dates in Spain next spring, their first shows in 10 years, and insinuated that North American dates would follow. Today, in a Rolling Stone interview, Dean Wareham offered further information on the reunion. It seems the band “had a jam” over the summer when guitarist Sean Eden flew to Los Angeles to join ex-bandmates Wareham, Britta Phillips, and Lee Wall for a barbecue. That sparked conversations about playing some shows, so when a promoter from Spain called with an offer, Luna were primed for it. Wareham said the band will probably play US shows in “fun places” such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. “We’re going to wait and see what offers come in,” he told RS. “The news just got out. My inbox is blowing up a little bit, yeah.”
Magnetic Fields songs often hinge on witty, erudite turns of phrase, so it’s not that surprising that band mastermind Stephin Merritt plays a lot of Scrabble. It’s a bit surprising, though, that he’s devoted an entire book to the two-letter words that can often affect the outcomes of Scrabble games. Merritt just published 101 Two-Letter Words, a book of 101 poems for each of the game-beaters. And now he’s given Billboard a few of his tips, most of which are fairly common-sense. Here’s what he offers to Billboard:
There’s one song on Chumped’s upcoming debut, Teenage Retirement, that’s built around the following refrain: “We get old/ Time moves faster/ You stay the same.” The song is called “Pains Of Being…” and it serves as something of a thesis statement for the album as a whole. Teenage Retirement attempts to navigates the messy transition from adolescence into adulthood; it’s a treatise on both the perils of growing up too fast and not growing up at all. The band views “teenage retirement” as a state of being — “moving out of your mom’s basement but not losing what was awesome about living in your mom’s basement,” as one of the band members put it. Each song on the album explores that theme in some way.