Music

Music

There are 10 films nominated for Best Picture at this Sunday's Academy Awards. Only one is a musical — and it has a good chance of winning. If La La Land does take home the honors, Justin Hurwitz, who wrote the music that is so central to the film, will probably take to the stage alongside director Damien Chazelle, his friend since their college days at Harvard. (Hurwitz is also nominated for three Oscars himself: for Best Original Score and twice for Best Original Song.)

Paul McCartney is giving fans a preview of what to expect from the upcoming deluxe reissue of Flowers In The Dirt, an album he originally released in 1989. The newly remastered version will include rare outtakes and demos from the recording sessions, snippets and goodies from which McCartney has been sharing in the build-up to its release.

The industry has finally seen the light... at least, that's one way to interpret Future's second major-label release in the span of two weeks.

Almost a month ago, President Trump's immigration ban pushed words with long histories back into the foreground of the public conversation; one was "refugee." Since then, much analysis and inflated rhetoric has attached itself to that word, but not that many Americans have had (or have taken) the chance to interact directly with those to whom it applies. Music has long provided one way for outsiders to connect with refugees' hopes and fears. A recent encounter in Nashville reminded me of the revelations it bears.

The Austin music industry isn't whole. The business underlying "The Live Music Capital of the World" stands bifurcated between its lucrative festivals (SXSW principally, but Austin City Limits, Fun Fun Fun Fest and others, too) and, as studies have found, a dwindling local music scene. Austin didn't become the self-styled "Capital" solely by hosting a handful of gargantuan events, which were first born from and since have capitalized handsomely on Austin's brand to increase their now-global footprints, which have drawn outsized attention to the city.

"I feel your pain." The phrase might still be linked to Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, but it's also an apt descriptor for a new project by The Crossing, the adventuresome Philadelphia-based choir, based on some very old music.

In America, there is a rare echelon of pop stars so big they only need one name: Madonna, Cher, Prince. In Italy, that name is Zucchero.

Little Bandit is a group devoted to the songs of Alex Caress, who's making classic country music with a sassy and subtly political twist. Caress first impressed Nashville audiences as part of the dream-pop band Ponychase, which was led by his sister, Jordan. More recently, he's played keyboards in breakout punk-blues star Adia Victoria's band.

As the shorter half of the sketch-comedy duo Key & Peele, Jordan Peele was ever on the lookout for distinctive ways to tackle ethnic stereotyping, so it makes sense that he'd leaven his film directing debut with more than just a dash of social satire.

Get Out, billed in its opening credits as "from the mind of Jordan Peele," is a horror-flick with a decidedly Peelean take on genre and on race — one that subverts familiar horror tropes while encouraging audiences to simultaneously react to them, and step back to look at them more closely.

The Associated Press is reporting that Beyoncé will not make it to Indio, California in April for her planned headlining performance at Coachella, one of the world's most successful and highest-grossing music festivals.

When STRFKR's Josh Hodges and Keil Corcoran wrote the synth-pop romper "In The End," they say they imagined it as "a cross-dresser, alien-abduction-type thing." Their new video for the cut came close — it's a drag queen heist film.

Gabriel Garzón-Montano is one of the most promising new artists of 2017. His full-length debut on Los Angeles label Stones Throw, Jardín, is a solid listen from front to back, and his sexy, soulful songs have been a favorite on KCRW's airwaves. He and his drummer performed our current favorite, "Crawl," live in our studio.

SET LIST

  • "Crawl"

Photo: Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW.

It may be easy, as you focus in on the sharp synths, rolling bass and snapping drums (one can hardly be blamed) driving "Meticulous Bird" to miss the remarkable message being sung by Thao Nguyen, leader of Thao And The Get Down Stay Down.

Whatever else you might say about the themes of La La Land — that it's a film about the ins and outs of young romance, or the pros and cons of creative ambition, or the movie musical as a renewable art form, or the culture of Hollywood, or the state of jazz (more on that in a sec) — you'd have to acknowledge the line it draws between illusion and disillusion.

On Wednesday, as protesters near the Dakota Access Pipeline began to break down their shelters and leave the area, Brooklyn singer Holly Miranda released a song, a cover of an obscure late-'70s science-fictional folk song, that she'd been working on for two months in support of those leaving.

From its very beginnings, country music has scarcely lacked for songs about Jesus — you could fill several box sets with them and barely scratch the surface. But thanks to rising Texan alt-country songsmith Jason Eady's "Barabbas," the shadowy figure whose presence is crucial to Christ's tale is getting a rare shot at the spotlight.

Buried somewhere in the fathoms of YouTube is a recent clip of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, apparently filmed with a smartphone in Santiago de Cuba. The band, synonymous with the ebullient spirit of New Orleans, is playing a staple of its book, Professor Longhair's "Go to the Mardi Gras." What's notable about this version of the song, from December of 2015, is the punchy assist provided by some Cuban percussionists, who fall right into step with its second-line groove.

For nearly 20 years, Little Big Town's members have plugged away through label troubles, divorces and the death of loved ones, but they've never endured a lineup change.

My enduring memory of Chicano Batman dates to the first time I saw them perform, back in 2010, at a bar called Footsies in Los Angeles's Glassell Park neighborhood. It'd be generous to even describe the space as "tight," as the group was surrounded by fans so close that one could have swiped Bardo Martinez's keyboard off the ironing board he used as a stand.

First Listen: Blanck Mass, 'World Eater'

Feb 22, 2017

As half of the experimental electronic duo F--- Buttons, Benjamin John Power has spent most of his musical career pushing toward extremes.

First Listen: Ibibio Sound Machine, 'Uyai'

Feb 22, 2017

Eno Williams, the lead singer and spiritual force behind Ibibio Sound Machine, was born in London, but she relocated to her mother's native Nigeria as a girl. It's a move that, years, later, would make a profound impact on musical career. In 2014, Ibibio Sound Machine's eponymous debut album skillfully combined London electronic club music with Nigerian funk and pop, making for a compelling, ear-popping experience. The band's follow-up album, Uyai, strengthens and deepens that cross-cultural alchemy.

An air of nonchalance hangs over Talaboman's debut album. To read producers John Talabot and Axel Boman describe their collaboration, there's not much to it: just "a Catalan and a Swede talking blip blop until we felt that we had something worth saying." As for which thematic platitudes might best describe that "something," the underwhelming admissions — "a journey to reach our subconscious," to "push imagination," "open your mind," the realization that "love is all this world needs" — all make a decent case that sometimes the "blip blop" should speak for itself.

The 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which takes place every four years, begins later this spring in Fort Worth, Texas. For the past six weeks, judges have been traveling the world to hear potential competitors audition. One notable stop is Moscow — where the American pianist for whom the contest is named stunned the world 59 years ago, winning the International Tchaikovsky Competition at the height of the Cold War.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Danish songwriter Agnes Obel's session might give you the shivers for more than one reason. Her latest album, Citizen Of Glass, was named for a pretty eerie concept. "I got the idea from the German term gläserner mensch, which is the term you use when an individual in a state has lost all his or her privacy," she says.

The Brit Awards — the looser, goofier, British-er cousin of the Grammys — are currently underway from the O2 Arena in London. You can see the full list of nominees and winners below.



MasterCard British Album of the Year
WINNER: David Bowie -- Blackstar
The 1975 — I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It
Kano — Made in the Manor
Michael Kiwanuka — Love & Hate
Skepta — Konnichiwa

I Draw Slow On Mountain Stage

Feb 22, 2017

The Dublin roots band I Draw Slow makes its debut on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. Ireland's answer to Americana, the five-piece string band (led by siblings Dave and Louise Holden) follows the same musical path as Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss in finding new, folky grooves in old-time Appalachian song.

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