Pharrell Williams: G I R L (Columbia) Few would deny that the most fascinating album release of the week comes courtesy not just of the talented Pharrell Williams, but via his extraordinary hat, which in the scheme of things—the world at war, recent American cultural ceremonies honoring the best of music and film, hot TV shows like True Detective—could not be more profoundly relevant. Plus, like his hat, were you to buy this album in its vinyl configuration, place it between two sheets of glass measuring roughly a square foot or more, then place the entire mess in your oven for a few moments, you could pull it out, bend it over your head, and perhaps dig the fabness of being Pharrell himself. Hint: wearing sunglasses helps! With a set of great duets featuring Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys, absolute hipness beyond belief following his Oscar performance, and his association with the now godlike Daft Punk megaclassic of last year, Williams is simply the most impressive musician everRead More »from The Cat In The Hat Comes Back!
Blog Posts by Dave DiMartino
- Dave DiMartino | Yahoo Music – Mon, 3 Mar, 2014 1:07 PM EST
Kevin Winter/WireImageWhile the Y! Music studios have hosted musical performances of nearly every shape, size and genre, it has to be said that the recent visit from world-renowned concert pianist Lang Lang was unprecedented.
The 31-year-old Chinese pianist was in town for his memorable—and quite unexpected—live collaboration with Metallica on the recent 56th Grammy Awards Show in late January.
In our studio two days prior to that broadcast, the pianist graciously gave all of us a preview of what he’d providing for the night’s special arrangement of “One.” While we wouldn’t exactly call it heavy metal—it’s hard to get the necessary screech out of a Steinway piano—it rocked, it moved, and it was intense.
A warm and gracious interview subject, and, of course, an incomparable player, Lang Lang detailed for us what his life’s been like of late, what his post-Grammy show plans were, and what’s up for him next.
Directly next? Off he went to China--appearing before an audience of 814 million people for China Read More »from From ChopinTo Metallica: All The World Is Lang Lang’s Stage
Beck: Morning Phase (Capitol) It struck me as I was listening to this new Beck album for maybe the third time that 1) It is very good and 2) Lots of people I know are bigger fans of him than I am. “Oh, isn’t this record great?” asked one co-worker, “it’s like his best since Sea Change.” Someone else came by twice and caught me listening to it two days in a row. “This is like my favorite album of the year,” said she. “It reminds me of Sea Change.” Frankly, if you asked me what Sea Change’s cover looked like, I couldn’t begin to tell you—it come out 12 years ago, and how it snuck in through the back door to become everyone’s secret favorite Beck album is beyond me. All I know is Morning Phase is smooth as you like, hook-filled and harmony-crammed, positioned to be his “California album,” as if all the other ones weren’t, and about as listenable and original sounding as influence-sponge Beck has ever been. I suspect I would be slightly more enthused if this were to be the result of a
Though this purports to be a weekly recap of the week’s best, most exciting and best-decorated album releases, there are those certain times when, to be blunt, your guess is as good as mine!
Back before my friend Larry invented the Internet, most music critics dealt in a world of print publications with three-month album review lead times, advance cassettes, promises not to leak said cassettes to over-eager radio stations, and a well-orchestrated publicity and promotion plan perfectly timed to guarantee maximum consumer interest and, hopefully, sales! Sometimes the writers had months to figure out if the albums were any good!
Not any more!
These days, when there’s a Monday holiday such as, say, Presidents’ Day, lazy writers can simply stream the new albums once on Spotify on a Tuesday morning, write their reviews on Tuesday afternoon, then, with appropriate drink in hand, sit back and laugh at their witty reviews just hours later thanks to the marvelous Internet!
Luckily, everything’sRead More »from Benmont Tench: I, Heartbreaker!
Between the Grammys and last weekend’s Super Bowl halftime show, and the insanely whacked out world of today’s social media in overdrive, you’d think the entire world has embraced pop music like never before.
But Bruno Mars vs. the Red Hot Chili Peppers? Really?
I don’t know about you, but most everyone I know thinks Bruno Mars is an extremely talented dude with not too much “there” there! And the Red Hot Chili Peppers? Obnoxious, shirtless, and tuneless!
In short? That’s why football is best!
Broken Bells: After The Disco (Columbia) While the union of Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) and the Shins’ James Mercer seemed an ostensible one-off back in 2010, with album No. 2 here—combined with everyone’s short memory span—the pair seem very much a band here, and the album both surprisingly delightful and "bandish." Perhaps in keeping with the album title, there are several unexpectedly retro sonic cues—vocal hints of Bad Company & Foreigner, no lie—but it’s all subtle, moody, evocative,Read More »from Bells Of The Ball!
Have to admit to being more impressed than usual by Sunday night’s Grammys awards broadcast!
Why? It’s simple!
*The nice assemblage of top-level talent.
*The eye-opening array of very popular artists who, I’ve come to realize, mean very little to me personally.
*The surrealistic, often jarring performance combinations—Kendrick Lamar with Imagine Dragons, say, or Metallica with Lang Lang.
*My unexpectedly lengthy stay at the Sherman Oaks Jiffy Lube--which made me miss the opening number by reclusive superstars Beyoncé and Jay Z! Yikes!
Luckily, I saw a few GIFs of the latter, so I’m all caught up!
David Crosby: Croz (Blue Castle) In theory I begin each installment of New This Week with what experts predict will be the week’s hottest album. And unless I’m nuts, some folks are expecting bigger than usual things for this, the first studio album by singer David Crosby in more than 20 years. With its bold cover missing only a postmark, a number, and the word "HELVETIA," the album isRead More »from He’s Croz, But He’s Not Angry!
In some ways it feels as if the rock ‘n’ roll era is folding into itself!
In the same week I witnessed the extraordinarily famous Eagles performing live in L.A.’s newly revamped Forum, I can now pick up a brand new box set of most of the Beatles albums, or a superb DVD celebrating the history of the Doors, and eagerly await this weekend’s Grammy Awards--which all these years later will feature a performance by former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr!
But between you and me, it’s the Super Bowl halftime show—coming Feb. 2 and featuring modern day titans Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers—that’s pointing the way toward pop music’s glorious future!
Oddly, that same future is bottled and sitting in my refrigerator!
The Beatles: The U.S. Albums (Capitol) Now that major labels have taken to boxing up the complete works of such artists as the Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, it’s tempting for any rock critic to simply review one of these collections and say it’s no good!Read More »from Beatles, American-Style!
Hello and Happy New Year—which, as you might note, isn’t exactly new at this point, but about as close as we’re going to get in a column running down the week’s more interesting music releases!
What have we missed in the meantime?
*An unexpected Beyoncé album!
*A spectacular New Year’s Rockin’ Eve featuring a timely live version of “Imagine” urging us to begin 2014 with the full realization that there is “no heaven” and therefore nothing matters!
*The horrifying news that this year’s Superbowl show will feature both Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers!
*Lots of dandy new clothes!
And frankly, that’s about it!
Between you and me? Kind of a disappointment!
Bruce Springsteen: High Hopes (Columbia) Considering that this new Springsteen set has been preceded by a startling number of qualifiers—it’s an oddity, a collection of covers, remakes, unreleased tracks, etc.—it’s a pretty strong listening experience throughout. Greatly aiding things: The energetic presence of guitarist TomRead More »from New Bruce: He’s Still Got The Goods
As music fans coast into the last half of December—with the excitement of both the recent American Music Awards and the Grammy Awards concert behind us—one thing is obvious: Nothing new is any good!
Well, maybe that’s an overstatement. Something probably is!
Still, as I look at my carefully compiled list of the week’s most interesting album releases, it does strike me as odd than more than half are either reissues of older material—by artists who’ve already had their commercial day—or just weird old stuff that, to be frank, is a heck of a lot better than everything else! It doesn’t make sense that entire industry would simply throw its hands up in the air, admit defeat, and spend the remainder of its dying days profiting from countless repackages of music recorded long ago, does it?
But then, of course, it hits me: This week R. Kelly has released his brand new album, Black Panties, and nothing will ever be the same again!
Especially human dignity!
R. Kelly: Black Panties (RCA) As theRead More »from R. Kelly’s ‘Black Panties’: Tight And Fitting!
Like most of us, after watching the recent American Music Awards, I’m convinced that pop music has now reached its all-time zenith!
And while I’m certain Miley Cyrus’s cat and Lady Gaga’s horse will rank up there with Blonde On Blonde and Sgt. Pepper’s in terms of pop culture references in years to come---though in the long run they’ll have a way to go to beat No Doubt and Sublime!—it doesn’t mean even more great stuff won’t be coming before year’s end!
And sure enough, with names like Barbra Streisand, One Direction and charismatic rockers Deicide in the mix, who can deny 2013 may be music’s best year ever?
One Direction: Midnight Memories (Syco/Columbia) Though I am not the world’s biggest fan of One Direction, nor the sort of writer willing to give a semi-serious thumbs up to the typical ‘N Sync/Backstreet Boys boy band of the moment, I must admit that—perhaps accidentally, or perhaps due to the fact that all music is getting dopier by the moment—this latest set byRead More »from One Direction: New Album Release Shock!