Allen Stone's smooth voice plays well against the sometimes curiously synthetic beats that characterize his songs. The soul and R&B singer hails from outside Spokane, Wash., where he began his singing career as part of his church choir. After stints in community college and Bible school, Stone brought his talents to bear with his debut album Last to Speak in 2010. The self-proclaimed hippie crafts his songs with socially conscious lyrics, and his commentary on topics ranging from the economic crisis to technological dependence is wittily pertinent.
Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 9:39 am
Merrill Garbus, the mastermind behind tUnE-yArDs, often uses a minimal assortment of resources — a ukulele, some pedals, a bit of percussion here and there — to craft an explosive, unpredictable, worldly, beautiful and utterly inventive sound. On last year's widely beloved w h o k i l l, Garbus' music forms a cut-up collage of coos, howls and bold statements of purpose, but her live shows fan out into epic rave-ups, complete with a pair of saxophonists.
In recent years, the Chicago-based R&B singer R. Kelly has alternated between elaborate ballads and and the more erotic collection of songs and videos for his series Trapped In The Closet. His new album, Write Me Back, may be relatively chaste in its sentiments, but it's by no means without passion.
Despite the slow, twisting, synth-looping style of Polica, the group's album came together in only a few recording sessions. Recovering from the breakup of her folk rock band Roma di Luna and the breakup of her marriage to one of her bandmates, Channy Leaneagh turned to friend and collaborator Ryan Olson, founder of Gayngs. The two worked together on Gayngs' album Relayted in 2010 and they were interested in working together again.
The image of John Carlos raising a black-gloved fist on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics became a symbol of the Civil Rights era. Last year, he published "The John Carlos Story," which detailed the trouble he faced after that gesture. Now Carlos tells listeners what music inspires him in Tell Me More's occasional series "In Your Ear."
Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 4:21 pm
We took recordings from all the bandleaders at the Newport Jazz Festival this year and put them all in a 24/7 streaming channel. Mostly the actual bands at Newport 2012, with some classics mixed in for spice. Have a listen?
Since expanding from a duo into a sextet, Blind Pilot has given its warmly catchy, charmingly delicate folk-pop a bit of a propulsive kick: For all the band's sweet, easy-going grace, it's a special pleasure to hear it apply a percussive jolt to songs like "We Are the Tide." Released last year, the album of the same name is consistently engaging, but Israel Nebeker's songs about nature and desire sound best when Blind Pilot puts some muscle behind them.
Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 12:58 pm
A simple approach is often the most affecting. In "To The Bone," the latest video from folk and blues artist Mirel Wagner, the singer slowly rises and sinks in a black pool of water, illuminated only by the faintest light. Wagner slowly turns, falls back, and rises again before something pulls her back under. It's both a seductive and unsettling metaphor for love's darker side.
In an email, Wagner described how the video came together.