KT Tunstall Montreal show review November 25, 2010

This was my first time seeing KT Tunstall live, and beforehand, I knew it was going to be a good show. I have seen her do television performances, and am familiar with her and her music. To steal from a Veruca Salt song of the same name, KT’s a born entertainer!

KT’s set started right on time. And it started with Glamour Puss from her new LP Tiger Suit. She did no less than 8 songs from Tiger Suit. Including the terrific “Madame Trudeaux”, for which she was very excited to perform here! Of course, also tracks from her first two albums, Eye to the Telescope and Drastic Fantastic.

She and her band also performed “Uummannaq Song”, which was inspired by her trip to Greenland, and the town of Uummannaq, as a part of the Disko Bay Cape Farewell Project in order to witness the impact of global warming on the Arctic. Visit the Disko Bay section of the Cape Farewell website to see her and all the other artists that were involved (Feist, Vanessa Carlton, Martha Wainwright and more), and read her diary of the trip. Plenty of interesting reading, as global warming affects us all. I’d love to visit the glaciers while they still exist!

She interacted well with the crowd, and introduced numerous songs, and of course introduced her band members. “The Entertainer” being about musicians that are dicks (not the word she used) in real life despite making great music. She also told the story of doing some bookstore shows, and having people dressed like Olivia Newton-John in her workout video at her set, they ended up being jazzercisers, as they like “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” for jazzercising!

Doing “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”, it started with just her and her guitarist, and then ended with the entire band. During the show she of course went through many guitar changes from electric to acoustic of course, as she is a very good guitarist, and incorporates it well into her music. She also used a loop pedal on a couple of songs.

I cannot say there was any single highlight, as I like all of her songs, and they were all performed very well, and true to the album versions. She did a three song encore for the very enthusiastic crowd (myself included!) including an Erasure cover of “A Little Respect”, and ending with “Suddenly I See”. The whole show, encore included was just over an hour and a half! Oh, and KT is even better looking in person than pictures and the like!

She definitely does not need the extra promotion, however I am adding the remaining tour dates, and future ones, to do you the reader a favour, so you know when to catch a great show! As KT said (about her Toronto gig on Twitter), ace gig!

Get the most up to date concert listings at her official website, kttunstall.com.

26 Nov Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero
27 Nov Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
29 Nov Boston, MA @ House of Blues
1 Dec New York, NY @ Terminal 5
19 Feb Galway, Ireland @ Radisson Hotel Galway
20 Feb Cork, Ireland Cork @ Opera House
21 Feb Dublin, Ireland @ Olympia Theatre
23 Feb Dunfermline, United Kingdom @ Alhambra
24 Feb Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom @ O2 Academy
25 Feb Manchester, United Kingdom @ Academy
27 Feb Leeds, United Kingdom O2 Academy
28 Feb Leamington Spa, United Kingdom @ The Assembly Rooms
1 Mar Bristol, United Kingdom @ Colston Hall
3 Mar Birmingham, United Kingdom @ O2 Academy
4 Mar Bournemouth, United Kingdom @ O2 Academy

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In the studio (No Doubt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, Britney Spears, etc.)

No Doubt

They are in the studio, and presently writing for their new album. No release date scheduled yet. They have been back together working since May or so. For the most up to date news, follow them on Twitter, @nodoubt. One Tweet I read they said they wondered how they would perform (whatever they were working on at the time) live! So here’s hoping for a quality return!

Red Hot Chili Peppers

They are hoping for a Spring 2011 release. Again working with Rick Rubin. It is apparently going to be a change, as Flea has been writing lyrics on a piano. They are also experimenting with some Afro-pop, as Flea and new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer went to Lagos, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. Flea is a part of Atoms for Peace, also featuring Thom Yorke from Radiohead.

Lupe Fiasco?

Lupe’s new album, Lasers, is actually done, perhaps post production still being worked on, at the very least album art maybe. It is scheduled for a March 8 release. Read about the fiasco surrounding this album at Wikipedia. And a recent article at Baltimore Sun.

R.E.M.?

Seems it is being mixed now. And the tracklisting has been revealed for the forthcoming R.E.M. album, Collapse Into Now. Check it out over at TwentyFourBit. Also, at the R.E.M.’s official site they have a few links and tidbits. It is scheduled for a Spring 2011 release.

Britney Spears

Looks like she is in the studio now working with Max Martin and Dr Luke. Her follow up to Circus is scheduled to be released before March at this point, according to Dr. Luke. So far looks like at least three songs have been finished. In another article, he (Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald) said their is no timetable for release and it would be ‘grimier’!

Radiohead

Radiohead are definitely in the studio, and the new album will apparently feature 10 tracks. Approximate release date is unknown at this point. I would guess somewhere from April to June.

Follow me on Twitter at tmmblog, as I often post news snippets there that I do not post here!

Music video picks (Fefe and Kelis)

Fefe Dobson – Stuttering

Fefe does it again. Another solid track from her finally released Joy! Worth the wait for sure! Nice video too, well acted on Fefe’s part. And she is not bad looking in the video either!

Kelis – Brave

I did not realise this video was out yet, till I saw it here. Fourth single from her latest, Flesh Tone, and one of my favourite cuts from it. Simplistic video, but I like simplistic ones similar in nature. Like Janelle Monáe’s recent video for “Cold War”, and Alanis Morissette’s “Head Over Feet” from 1996.

Watch in HD for the best viewing experience!

It has been a little while since I updated the Music Video of the Day (search hashtag #MVOD on Twitter, or better yet, view my favourites.) on here, but I’ll do so soon. And starting Friday will be the second themed week, Canadian content this time! Hip hop was the last one a couple of weeks back.

Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy review

After three quality hip hop albums (and 808s), comes Kanye’s IV, or OK Computer.

With all the hype, it certainly felt that way prior to release, and after listening, I dare say it is the case at this point. Although Kanye said his best work is yet to come.

Collaborations are numerous (including a couple of Wu-Tang members! Raekwon on “Gorgeous” and The RZA on “So Appalled”), and yet they all work perfectly, in that, it is hard to recognise everyone, and they blend and flow well. Raekwon almost sounds similar to Kanye on “Gorgeous”, while, The RZA verse on “So Appalled” very much stands out, but works with fellows guests Swizz Beats doing the chorus, and verses by Jay-Z, Pusha T, and Prynce Cy Hi.

“All of the Lights” may very well set a record for most guest spots on a hip hop track. Even if Rihanna, and Fergie are the most noticeable, along with those doing the chorus. Both Elton John and Kid Cudi’s voices are modified, so it is difficult to identify them without knowing. Alicia Keys’ part is just some whoa’s. Also on the track is The-Dream, Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson, John Legend, Tony Williams, and Elly Jackson supposedly. The “All of the Lights” interlude actually has a brief chord progression that reminds me of Roxette’s “Listen to Your Heart”.

“Monster” again, is a track with numerous guests. Nicki Minaj’s rap is the highlight, she is at the top of her game, probably her best guest rap to this point. While Kanye does not seem to be rapping with as much passion as “Power”.

Along with the first track, “Dark Fantasy”, there is only two tracks that are only Kanye. And “Dark Fantasy” does feature other vocals if not as an official guest spot.

Some of my favourite tracks are not so much Kanye’s rapping, but the arrangements. The introductory track “Dark Fantasy” shines with its suspenseful choral singing parts, backed solely by piano. Similarly, “Gorgeous” has a nice guitar backed beat, featuring Mescudi (aka Kid Cudi).

One wonders how much of the album came about on account of his anger with SNL, of course, “Power”, sampling King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man”. However the entire album has a big feel to it, much like “Power”, although maybe not as extravagant.

“Lost In The World” featuring Bon Iver feels like it brings the album down to earth somewhat. “Blame Game” featuring John Legend works, but the Chris Rock ending does not really seem necessary.

“Runaway” seems to be a good track, but it also seems to be Kanye throwing as many derogatory terms as possible, after that is over it does get better.

No doubt this album will be the talk of the year, and numerous people will hear it, of all demographics. And Kanye deserves plenty of credit (we should not feed his ego, even if it has got a tad smaller recently), however we cannot forget all the producers and guests. I’d love to see a making of this album, to know exactly how much credit should go to additional producers along with the guests. To hear Kanye do an album that is just him rapping, and produced by him would be a good barometer.

I would not call it perfect, it does seem very near flawless for the first nine or so tracks, I would say, Good Ass Job!

Norah Jones – …Featuring Norah Jones album review

Definitely an interesting concept for a release. One that features a vast number of tracks Norah Jones has collaborated on. These are of course mostly all other artists songs, that feature Norah Jones as a guest performer.

Right off the bat, I’d love to see this compilation done for Esthero. There was a time around the early 2000s, when she was doing nothing but collaborating with other artists (Black Eyed Peas’ “Weekends”, Nelly Furtado’s “I Feel You”, and even the Blue Man Group’s “White Rabbit” to name a few). Esthero’s voice lends itself very well as a featured performer, of course solo too! The same goes for Nelly Furtado. Also Macy Gray. However I can’t really see it happened for Esthero, as she does not have the Norah Jones star power.

The compilation album starts off with The Little Willies, which is a group featuring Norah Jones. So with that in mind, it really focuses on her musical style. In this case jazz with a country feel to it.

As it is a compilation album, artists she was featured with range from the Foo Fighters, to Q-Tip, to Herbie Hancock, to Willie Nelson, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Therefore the genres found within are quite varied.

Most tracks are indeed featuring Norah Jones, however there are three tracks that are Norah Jones’ songs that feature other guests (“Bull Rider” featuring Sasha Dobson, “Loretta” featuring Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, and “Creepin’ In” featuring Dolly Parton.).

The aforementioned “Bull Rider” is a very good track on its own. Sasha Dobson has been involved in the jazz scene in New York for several years now, and has a couple of albums under her belt. She has also worked with Norah Jones in the past on various side projects. And most recently, she is providing percussion, guitar and vocal harmonies on Norah Jones’ tour promoting The Fall. On “Bull Rider”, their voices work very well together on a country tinged bluegrass track.

The track with OutKast, or Andre 3000 to be more specific, “Take Off Your Cool”, is originally from his portion of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. It finds Andre 3000 toning down his vocals so as to better suit Norah. Not that she could not manage on a standard OutKast track. Whereas one of the other hip hop tracks, “Life Is Better”, Q-Tip has Norah Jones doing the chorus in a more hip hop style, even if the track is fairly laid back, as Q-Tip still raps in the track. Norah does a quite a good job on this track, but to draw from earlier in this review, this is the sort of guest spot where Esthero shines. It is much more in the vein of a smooth hip hop track, not unlike something Guru would have done for the Jazzmatazz series. Similar for the Talib Kweli track, “Soon The New Day”, as it is another mellow track, but does not find Norah straying from her normal vocal style. The latter two are good mellow bouncing hip hop tracks on their own.

“Loretta”, a live track which features Gillian Welch & David Rawlings would not feel out of place on a Norah Jones release. As also would be the case with “Bull Rider”. Of course “Creepin’ In” featuring Dolly Parton is from Norah’s second album, Feels Like Home, but definitely a worthy addition to this compilation.

Individually many tracks work very well on their own, as a compilation, well it is just that, a compilation so genre run a wide gamut. The tracks do seem to be well organised though, making for a decent listen from start to finish. It has been said before numerous times, for numerous releases, and I will reiterate it here. I’d mostly recommend this for fans of Norah Jones. Non fans would probably be better off choosing from one of her four solo albums.

Shut up and Sing film review

Of course, Shut Up and Sing is the 2006 Dixie Chicks documentary film centering on what Natalie Maines said at a London concert just as the Iraq war was just about to start. The exact quote being:

“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”

And when Natalie uttered the last part, she followed it with a sort of laughing smile.

What I most enjoyed about the film was not so much about the controversy, as I was well aware of it, and all of the consequences, but instead the behind the scenes of writing and recording their album to follow the controversy, Taking the Long Way. Prior to Natalie exercising her right to free speech, the film was going to be a general documentary following the band around.

The first behind the scenes look of the making of Taking the Long Way takes place early on when the film jumps to 2005 after looking at all the controversy, and some of the effects, and trying to remedy and address the issue, via the Entertainment Weekly photoshoot, and a Diane Sawyer interview.

Said first scene is of the Chicks and Dan Wilson working on the track “The Long Way Around”. Before being finalised, Natalie can be seen singing “I hit the highway, with two sisters in a pink R.V.” which would eventually become “I hit the highway, in a pink RV with stars on the ceiling”. Natalie then comes up with the lyric “wouldn’t kiss all the asses that they told me to”. The line “gave a lot of blow jobs” did not make it in immediately before “wouldn’t kiss…” for some reason! Emily came up with “fought with a stranger”. Footage of Natalie recording can be seen, some that made the final master, and some that did not.

Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers recorded the drums on the album, so he notes how the Chili Peppers write their own stuff, originating from a jam session, be it a drum beat or a bass line.

Natalie is seen recording “Lubbock or Leave it”, which then segues into the next scene, going to play it for Rick Rubin (the man!) at what is likely his house. It was nice to see Natalie singing with emotion, as that is how it sounds on the final product, or seeing her sing live.

Rick Rubin comments on an early version of “Voice Inside My Head” that he thinks it is more ordinary right off the bat. The fact that he is not emotional attached to the tracks seems to be why the Chicks like him, thus getting an honest opinion. He also says how the chords and melodies are strong.

Father Maines, Lloyd Maines, played pedal steel guitar, among other instruments on the album, and he is shown doing his stuff, making it look easy as he states. He is recording for “Favorite Year”, a track which Sheryl Crow helped pen, and he asks at one point if it sounds too country.

Also, the emotional side of the film is portrayed well, showing them with their families. Emily at the time was very pregnant, about to give birth to what would be twins. Emily talks on infertility, which actually became a song on the album, “So Hard”. Earlier it is noted how making the album is really their therapy, and I feel that definitely comes across as such.

There is also snippets of Dixie Chicks history, as well as fallout from the controversy, and how that affected what would become the Accidents & Accusations Tour in support of Taking the Long Way.

I find it humourous how the American poster for the movie (pictured on the left) photoshops silver burlap sacks (or something!) on the Chicks. The same thing happened on the DVD cover. The execs must have said “they have offended enough people, no need to offend a few more!”

All in all, a pretty good film, with a good portion of the human element while highlighting the music making process. Definitely worth a watch for those that have not seen it already. Seems Google Video has the whole film up, so it can be watched for free online here, of course not the best quality, but it does the job.

(More) new R&B! Keri Hilson album cover and Keyshia Cole

So, to update my last post, I missed the new Keri Hilson, No Boys Allowed, and the new Keyshia Cole is going to be titled Calling All Hearts.

December 21

Keyshia Cole – Calling All Hearts

Still no cover yet.

Keri Hilson – No Boys Allowed

The two single’s covers (Breaking Point and Pretty Girl Rock):

“Breaking Point” is pretty sweet, definitely a good pic!

If I am missing any new upcoming R&B records (between this post and last), tell me! Via comments, or @mention me at @tmmblog.

Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage film review

Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn (Banger Films) return with their fourth film, this time chronicling Canadian rock greats Rush.

The film runs in chronological order, from when Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson were school friends to modern times.

Numerous musicians are interviewed within, including Kirk Hammett (Metallica), who call Rush a huge influence, Trent Reznor (Nien Inch Nails), Billy Corgan (The Smashing Pumpkins and Zwan), Vinnie Paul (Pantera), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne and Black Label Society), Tim Commerford (Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave), Gene Simmons (KISS), and more! The film paints Rush as being a very underrated band in music. Which is probably true, even if they remain quite well-known. Another aspect I find underrated is their influence on other musicians and bands.

What I liked was how the band was portrayed in periods. Such as the period before Neil Peart joined, the period when they received airplay in Hartford, thanks to “Working Man”, and so on. Also, I did not know their toured so extensively with KISS after their second album Fly by Night, as Gene Simmons was a big fan. And after the release of Caress of Steel, the tour was dubbed as the “Down the Tubes” tour. As they went from playing arenas with Kiss to playing much smaller venues. I cannot recall who they were opening for, or billed alongside with, a smaller known act, but not of Kiss’ size that is for sure. Of course with the release of 2112, things picked up again for Rush.

About three weeks has passed since I watched it, and writing this, so I do not remember it all. I do know it is a film I will check out again after having listened to their music once again, perhaps in chronological order. Also pausing the film to listen to specific albums and or songs, such as the complex Hemispheres (and the song “La Villa Strangiato”, having been recorded in Wales. As well as checking out the DVD bonus features!

Highly recommended for Rush fans (assuming they have not seen it yet!), and non rush fans (so they can discover how great Rush are)!

New R&B (November/December)

Some new upcoming R&B releases for November and December, as the blog post title suggests! And a couple already out. I am most looking forward to the new Jazmine Sullivan. I reviewed her solid debut, Fearless, a while back, read it here.

November 16

Rihanna – Loud

November 30

Jazmine Sullivan – Love Me Back

Chrisette Michele – Let Freedom Reign

December 14

Ciara – Basic Instinct

December 21

Keyshia Cole – Keyshia

No album cover yet!

Out now

Faith Evans – Something About Faith

Donell Jones – Lyrics