V.V. Brown – Travelling Like the Light

If the Motown sound still existed today, it would be a safe bet to say V.V. Brown would be doing Motown proud!

I mention Motown, and this really comes to mind most significantly on “L.O.V.E.”, however in general, it’s a great soul, and rock (also as in rock & roll) and dance album! VV Brown does not really want to be confined to a single genre, although she had thought of doowop indie, which sounds right.

V.V. Brown, born as Vanessa Brown is yet another talented English female singer making waves. Her debut, Travelling Like the Light, was actually released a year ago (in the UK, earlier this year in North America), however I only caught the video for “Shark in the Water” late last year or so. A very pleasant surprise. A soulful, yet fun single, and making for a great listen.

If the album itself was not enough to show off VV Brown’s talent, the way in which she writes her songs drives the point home. She believes songs come to the artists, and not the other way around, that certain chords and melodies are associated with certain lyrics. “Crying Blood” was written (as was the whole album apparently!) on a one string guitar! The Presidents of the United States of America would be proud (listen to “Back Porch”)!

The album jumps right in, and quickly starts with the rock and soul in nature, “Quick Fix”. For the most part the album is generally mostly up-tempo, and a highly pleasurable listen. It does slow down for “Back in Time”, and “I Love You”. It picks back up with the retro soul number “L.O.V.E.”. Another love song follows, in “Everybody”. This is a modern toe tapping bass heavy, piano heavy track. Making for an excellent example as a track not released as a single. “Game Over” a nicely layered R&B/soul track, that includes percussive elements and hand claps.

As a whole, I highly recommend the album. It makes for an especially great summer listen.

Music videos:

Crying Blood
Leave!
Shark in the Water
Game Over

Plenty more on YouTube:

VV Brown YouTube channel
VV Brown US YouTube channel
If that was not enough,
VV Brown on Vevo!

Sources:
Exclusive Interview: VV Brown on Piano
V.V. Brown – Crying Blood (Acoustic)

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Music on television July 26 – 30

Monday July 26

Hanson on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
She & Him on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals on Jimmy Kimmel (not) Live!

Tuesday July 27

Dierks Bentley on The Late Show with David Letterman
Jaron and the Long Road to Love on The Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien
The Black Keys on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
Angelique Kidjo on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Backstreet Boys on Lopez Tonight

Wednesday July 28

The Flaming Lips on The Late Show with David Letterman
Dierks Bentley on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Thursnday July 29

Interpol on The Late Show with David Letterman
Stone Temple Pilots on The Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien
Of Montreal on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Friday July 30

Green Day on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Bad Religion and The Raveonettes on Last Call with Carson Daly (repeat from March 24)
Sheryl Crow on Live with Kelly and Regis
Court Yard Hounds on The Ellen DeGeneres Show (Repeat from May 12)

The ‘Socalled’ Movie movie review

My friend Clint wrote this review unexpectedly, and sent it to me. We had been talking about a web project, well, my web project, that I asked if he would like to contribute to. I was thinking of a creating a test site, however I never have to this point. So he submitted this review to me, and apparently it takes me a lot longer to copy and paste than to write my own blog posts. He sent it to me June 5. Apologies to him.

The review is of the film titled The ‘Socalled’ Movie. It is about Josh Dolgin, aka Socalled, and as Wikipedia puts it, he

is a Canadian rapper and producer, known for his eclectic mix of hip hop, klezmer and other styles, for example drum & bass and other types of folk music.

Alas, here is the review:

SoCalled Film More about Character Than Musicmaking By C.B. Earle

In a music scene littered with desperately dull vocoder-ridden vocal stylings, boy bands with the emotional depth of your average shop mannequin, and divas who put more work into wardrobe choices than their songs; Montreal’s SoCalled, cuts an unlikely, self-deprecating figure. When not playing piano, accordion, singing or triggering beats and samples onstage as SoCalled; Montreal’s Josh Dolgin, is combing the bargain shops and bazaars for esoteric vinyl, plotting out his next concert, magic performance, or painstakingly arranging a song in his cluttered Montreal apartment. The generosity of Dolgin is readily displayed by this documentary, as he shares his love of drastically different styles of music first with musicians and songwriters and then with bewildered but soon-to-be enchanted, audiences.

Bespectacled, carelessly dressed and follically-challenged, Josh Dolgin, will not be mistaken for Justin Timberlake any time soon. Celebrity and the trappings thereof, are not Dolgin’s currency. What Director Gerry Beitel’s film makes clear, is Dolgin’s avid enthusiasm and musical curiosity, which seem virtually unchanged from the home movies of a grinning kid playing piano, to a 32-year-old multi-instrumentalist wowing an Apollo Theater crowd in New York City. The songwriter and arranger, seems equally comfortable working with a 94-year-old pianist (Irving Fields), a fifty-something Klezmer clarinettist (David Krakauer) and a more contemporary rapper (C-Rayz Waltz ). SoCalled’s permanent partner-in-crime, Montreal singer,Katie Moore, provides a serene, melancholy counterweight to Dolgin’s kid-in-a-candystore eclecticism. The film’s producers and Director Gerry Beitel, embrace the quirkiness of their subject by letting SoCalled speak for himself. They also show Dolgin delving into cartoons and a diary from his childhood. Two self-authored short films by Dolgin are even inserted into this warm, light-hearted portrait.

Actually an amalgamation of eighteen short films, SoCalled the film, is divided into segments, each with their own animated title. Some titles are given the names of songs, some are derived from telling quotes. Each segment sheds light on the creative intelligence and drive of SoCalled. From Montreal’s Mile-end district to Paris, to the Ukraine, Dolgin pursues his singular vision combining old school funk, klezmer, and hip hop with upbeat rap & pop vocals. Classifying Dolgin’s music is pretty much impossible, which is part of the point of his musical approach. While coaxing wildly diverse samples together, and somehow recruiting the expertise of largely forgotten masters like Fred Wesley (of James Brown fame) , Dolgin celebrates cultural differences while matter-of-factly rejecting the cultural barriers that so many artists don’t seem to question. Dolgin’s music features anti-cool references to religious music from his own Jewish heritage, sentimental piano melodies, and klezmer-inspired soloing; and emerges refreshingly unpredictable in a sea of musical conformity.

Whatever it’s failings, this film turns a spotlight on the character of a dedicated artist and it’s tough not to feel a bit of a soft spot for this plucky, restless talent. Sure you can dismiss him as deliberately backwater; but consider that the SoCalled video for “You Are Never Alone” garnered two million hits on youtube. These days “backwater”, was never a more fleeting state. SoCalled the Movie, is at the very least, one heck of a promotional tool and being seen and heard is the greatest challenge for any songwriter/performer these days. SoCalled may just be on his way to becoming the Woody Allen of Rap.

A few of the “punks” being paraded across the airwaves by MTV or MuchMusic, might want to consider whether SoCalled’s approach is actually closer to the original punk ethos than their own. That said, this film will probably prove too slow for the two-Red-Bulls-a-day crowd. The editing of the film isn’t particularly effective in matching the emotional tone and dynamism of the music for any length of time. Some scenes transition very poorly and almost no effort at placing SoCalled’s music in a broader context and seeking out critical discussion is in evidence. This is a friendly film about a group of diverse friends making music. To be fair, brief references to the murder of thousands of Ukranian Jews and the frustrating and insulating use of culture and religious belief are touched upon for a couple moments. Cinematography is clearly not the forte of this product of three years and many authors. The occasional shot of real beauty usually stands out like a sore thumb.

On the subject of sore thumbs, of the hundreds of Montrealers who turned out to see the Montreal premiere and the live performance that followed, some probably had sore hands in the morning. The crowd clapped and sang along to songs like. “You are Never Alone” and the finale, “These Are The Good Old Days”, while a sweaty six-member band made the best of it. The confines of the Ukranian Federation, (on Hutchison street) felt like a virtual love-in as friends and family of the filmmakers and Josh Dolgin had obviously attended in full force. When the last SoCalled number concluded, the band started to wind down with some lighter jazz. Dolgin’s singular musical vision rose to the occasion. “No jazz”,he said, “no jazz”. The band halted. Would Justin Timberlake have had the guts to do that? With the melody of “These are the good old days” still in their heads, the smiling crowd started filing out into the rainy Montreal night.

Upcoming releases, and future music

Alas, a new upcoming releases (and future music) post. Of course it is all future music, however I am mostly using that to refer to albums not yet scheduled for release.

Ones I am looking forward to include Sophie Ellis-Bextor‘s new release, Straight to the Heart, it looks like an October release. Part 2 of 3 of Robyn‘s Body Talk series, is scheduled for September 6.

Some good hip hop will be released in September including Kid Cudi‘s Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, and N.E.R.D.’s new release. At some point,the Beastie Boys, and Kanye West will have new releases. The Beastie Boy’s album (Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 1) of course was delayed when Adam Yauch found out he had a form of cancer in his salivary gland. Part 2 is supposedly just about done as well, so I am guessing some six months or so after part 1 we may see it released.

Also, KT Tunstall‘s third album, Tiger Suit, is looking like a late September release. For some pop, JoJo and Girlicious have releases coming out, and for R&B, Estelle and Teairra Marí. And Serj Tankian‘s new solo effort, Imperfect Harmonies.

I’ve also added artists with new music in the not so distant future. Albums that are probably still being worked on. A few include Jamiroquai, Duffy, No Doubt, Kelly Clarkson, and Dropkick Murphy‘s.

August 2

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

August 10

Black Label Society – Order Of The Black

August 16

The Saturdays – Headlines

August 17

Teairra Marí – Sincerly Yours

August 24

Helmet – Seeing Eye Dog
Katy Perry – Teenage Dream
Girlicious – Rebuilt
Jessie James – Daughter of a Gypsy

August 31

The Pretty Reckless – Light Me Up

September 6

Robyn – Body Talk Pt. 2

September 7

Sara Bareilles – Kaleidoscope Heart
N.E.R.D. – Nothing

September 14

Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon 2: The Legend of Mr Rager

September 21

Kelly Rowland – Kelly Rowland

September 28

Bad Religion – The Dissent of Man
KT Tunstall – Tiger Suit
Jimmy Eat World – Invented

October 25

Taylor Swift – Speak Now

October

Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Straight to the Heart

Unknown

The Adolescents – The Fastest Kid Alive
Phil Collins – Going Back (covers album)
Serj Tankian – Imperfect Harmonies
Kanye West – Good Ass Job
Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 1
JoJo – All I Want Is Everything
Estelle – All of Me

Future music

Jamiroquai
Coldplay
No Doubt
Dido
Dropkick Murphy’s
Duffy
Kelly Clarkson

Good New Music Videos (Marina and the Diamonds, Ellie Goulding)

A few weeks old, but still very good, Marina and the Diamonds newest video for “Oh No!” was released. Very nice, song and video!

Also, Ellie Goulding’s latest video for “The Writer” has been out for a little over a week.

Both videos are highly recommended, as are their respective albums. I’d recommend clicking on the videos to find your way to Youtube for best quality viewing options. And of course coming back here when done!

Music on Television July 19 – 23

Major highlights this week would be Robyn on The Late Show with David Letterman, and fellow Canadians Metric on the Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien! As usual picks are in bold.

Monday July 19

Robyn on The Late Show with David Letterman
KISS on The Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien
N.E.R.D on Jimmy Kimmel (not) Live!

Tuesday July 20

Sheryl Crow on The Late Show with David Letterman
The Black Keys on The Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien
La Roux on The View (talking for sure, performing, beats me!)

Wednesday July 21

Metric on The Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien
Big Boi on Chelsea Lately

Thursday July 22

Sheryl Crow on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Friday July 23

Gaslight Anthem on The Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien
MGMT on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
Lily Allen on Last Call with Carson Daly (repeat from March 12)

Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)

The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) finally arrived May 18, 2010. Of course as it was very much anticipated after her debut EP from just about three years earlier, Metropolis Suite I (The Chase). I was late to get to know her, as only I heard the EP for the first time sometime in 2008. “Many Moons” being the first track I heard, as it was a single and a music video made for it (linked). Definitely a song I did not mind time after time! It remains one of my favourite tracks from her!

Theme wise, the album is futuristic, science fiction, and fantasy. The ArchAndroid being a continuation of the 2007 EP, Metropolis.

Just like trying to classify The ArchAndroid in one distinct genre, that being hard, describing it feels the same. It really has to be heard.

If one genre had to be nailed down I might suggest R&B, but not in the traditional sense, be it early R&B or even contemporary R&B, so I suggest indie R&B.

Regardless, All Music calls it indie rock, neo-soul, dance-rock, and contemporary R&B. R&B is actually left off of the Wikipedia article. All Music also calls the theme as “The Creative Side”, I cannot disagree! One mood (again at All Music) listed that feels like it nails it is theatrical. The album clocks in at over 68 minutes, and is a great album to listen to tracks individually, and even better to set aside 68 plus minutes and listen cover to cover so to speak.

Janelle’s versatile voice is displayed on tracks ranging from hip hop, “Dance or Die”, to country, “Oh, Maker”, to rock, “Come Alive The War of the Roses” and to pyschedelic on “Mushroom & Roses”.

The album starts with “Suite II Overture”, and if any album can get away with an overture that is not classical in nature, this is it. From there it jumps right into the hip hop? orientated “Dance or Die”. Without any pause, the song morphs, and changes into “Faster”. “Faster” is an extremely catchy, toe tapping number. Earlier in the year I said how Jully Black’s song “Running” is a good song for runners. I say the same for “Faster”, a must on a running mix.

The album does slow down, in that there is a space between tracks, for “Suite III Overture”. Starting off the third suite is “Neon Valley Street”, a track that is as contemporary R&B as you’ll get on this album, yet still it is more of a throwback to early R&B than anything, ranging from orchestral to rock backgrounds, and if that was not enough it has a futuristic rap too.

Some song melodies, and string arrangements actually came to Janelle Monáe in her sleep, and recorded them upon waking up: “a lot of the music came to me in my dream… record what it was that I could remember”. “This song is absolutely gorgeous, I cannot panic or I’m going to forget the string arrangement I’m going to forget how my voice is supposed to sound”. As such is the case for “Neon Valley Street” (link cited at the end).

One of my favourite tracks is “Wondaland”, a futuristic dreamy romp, with beats and voice modification that will have heads nodding in definite agreement (think Homer Simpson in the episode “Homerpalooza“). Plus the song has dual meaning as she started the Wondaland Arts Society in Atlanta.

“Oh, Maker”, as mentioned above, manages to land somewhere between country and R&B.

Although it is not the final track on the album, the orchestral ending of “Say You’ll Go”, could have fit very well as such, feeling like the very ending of a movie, where the credits are about to roll, or finishing rolling, right around where one would get chills down their spine, or similar positive emotion. Similarly would be the feel for the ArchAndroid. That being the second to last track, while “BaBopByeYa” the actual final track finishing just shy of nine minutes (in three movements!) ends with the lyrics, “My freedom calls and I must go”. Until Janelle Monáe and Cindy Mayweather return with Suite IV, we have The ArchAndroid to fully appreciate. An Aural feast.

Source used: Janelle Monae: Dreaming In Science Fiction (Janelle Monáe on All Things Considered on NPR).

Bad Religion quote #14

Disjointed politics founded on petrochemical plunder and we’re its hostages

An easy choice from the excellent album The Process of Belief. The song being “Kyoto Now!”. Easy choice given the current BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. And big oil in general. The time is now for 100% clean energy. If we the consumers speak loudly enough, and ensure our voices are heard, they will have to listen. That includes trying to use as little petroleum based products as possible.

Finally, skim off some oiliness from your everyday life. Obvious enough when it comes to choosing cycling and subways over gas-powered transport, but can you get through the rest of your week without buying a single item of plastic (from electronics cases to dental floss)? Can you steer clear of petrochemicals altogether? That means no synthetic fabrics, no synthetic fragrances, no foods grown with synthetic fertilizers, no synthetic shampoos.

That is from Now Toronto’s most recent Ecoholic column written by Adria Vasil. Read it in its entirety, at nowtoronto.com. And read all of her Ecoholic articles and access the Ecocast here.

And as usual, access full album lyrics, Greg on writing, and Brett on recording The Process of Belief at the album page at badreligion.com

Music on television July 12 – 16, 2010

As always, artists in bold are picks of mine. And this week I highly recommend checking out Tracy Bonham on The Tonight Show Monday night, and Marina & the Diamonds on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson Thursday night. Also, I am just listening to Grace Potter & the Nocturnals for the first time, albeit sound samples on the web, and they seem pretty good, plus they are from not far from here, so I’ll definitely check them out. On with the listings!

Monday July 12

Tracy Bonham on The Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien
Big Boi on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Dierks Bentley on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
Sublime with Rome on Jimmy Kimmel (not) Live! (repeat from June 25)
Angels & Airwaves on Last Call with Carson Daly (repeat from April 7)
Lady Antebellum on Live with Kelly and Regis

Tuesday July 13

M.I.A. on The Late Show with David Letterman
Kelis on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
The Morning Benders on Last Call with Carson Daly (repeat from May 21)

Wednesday July 14

Melanie Fiona on Live with Kelly and Regis
Laurie Anderson on The Late Show with David Letterman
Flo Rida on The Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien
M.I.A. on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
OK Go on Last Call with Carson Daly (repeat from May 25)
Big Boi on Lopez Tonight
Weezer on The Ellen DeGeneres Show (repeat from May 20)

Thursday July 15

Jimmy Cliff on The Late Show with David Letterman
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals on The Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien
Marina & the Diamonds on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
The-Dream on Jimmy Kimmel (not) Live! (repeat from June 29)
City and Colour on Last Call with Carson Daly (repeat from May 26)
Lifehouse on Lopez Tonight
OneRepublic on Live with Kelly and Regis

Friday July 16

The Swell Season on The Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien
Nas & Damian Marley on Last Call with Carson Daly (repeat from May 27)
Julie Gribble on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
Jack Johnson on The Ellen DeGeneres Show (repeat from May 25)
Roxy Music on the last Friday Night with Jonathan Ross

Bad Religion quote #13

You’ve got a chance to confront the world today

The start of the chorus on track one, “You’ve Got a Chance”, from The New America, the album that would eventually spell the return of Brett Gurewitz to the band.

The quote is pretty straight forward, basically, you do have a chance. It continues,

Desperate romance is the curse of castaways
What good is skill if you don’t make it to the dance?

and

Despite circumstance, you’ve got a chance.

Bonus quote, also from “You’ve Got a Chance”:

I’m tired of all this Shakespearean misinformation

The way I see that quote, for example could be the mainstream news, we have to seek out the truth on our own, and make sure it is heard. Hence the first quote as well.

The New America album cover:

This is the international album cover (and I believe that it was originally going to be the main album cover, however I guess that changed at some point):

Greg on recording and artwork for The New America at badreligion.com