Three prominent members of our artist community here at OurStage are featured in the new Spike Lee series She’s Gotta Have It on Netflix. Soulful R&B singer Shawndrell, winner of multiple chart awards on OurStage, had her song “Save Yourself” added to episodes five and six of the new show, which is a reimagining of Lee’s groundbreaking 1986 film of the same name.
Multi-talented New York artist Brittany Campbell, who plays the character Black Diamond in three episodes of the new comedy series, is featured on the soundtrack as well, with her 2016 single “Buzz” (watch her great video for the song, below).
Lee also selected Nikki Lynette‘s “My Mind Ain’t Right,” after personally inspiring and encouraging the singer and songwriter to begin a new phase in her creative life. When we spoke to her back in September, Lynette told us, “Spike is the ultimate storyteller, and he is always super excited about everything he is working on. Being around him made me feel like maybe I could be passionate about music again if I just told a story that would be bigger than me, the way Spike does.” (Read our full interview here.)
That’s right, the new video for Air Traffic Controller‘s “After Party” features Spiderman battling the villainous Donald Trump (who is also portrayed as a villain in the video), along with several other former presidents.
A la Point Break, a group of ne’er do wells stage several heists, donning presidential masks to break up and loot children’s birthday parties. They are continually thwarted by a very young web slinger.
Here is a humongous-sounding dose of powerful pop music by Virginia’s My Radio, a band formed by former Bostonian JP Powell, who we remember from his time performing with Bleu as well as the excellent vehicle for his own songwriting, Chauncey. The new release is called Tada IV, a seven-song set that repurposes some of the aesthetic of familiar ’80s radio giants to propel the band’s otherwise wholly modern, anthemic rock out of your speakers with urgency. The whole thing is streaming now.
Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown have a new album on the way, the first since their 2013 debut Wild Child. The self-titled LP, out November 3rd, marks another milestone in the band’s evolution and a kind of creative rebirth, after years on the road with no less than ACϟDC, The Who, and Guns N’ Roses. The 2015 EP The Wayside found the band moving away from the blues guitar pyrotechnics that first brought attention to Bryant as a young prodigy and into a more fuzzed-out sonic landscape. Now, the band pairs that aesthetic with their most sophisticated set of songs yet, leading with the first single, “Heartland;” a call for unity and recognizing our shared humanity, inspired by the positive communal experiences the band has been experiencing onstage. Those tour experiences are the focus of the new lyric video which you can check out below, along with European tour dates stretching through the end of 2017.
Hot on the heels of her single “Thunderstorm” comes phase one of Nikki Lynette’s ambitious new project, Happy Songs About Unhappy Things. The three-part release will be a multi-media exploration of the artist’s own struggle with identity and depression. Part one, released this week, is called Manic Pixie Dream Girl, after the familiar archetype defined first by film critic Nathan Rabin, who described a “bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life…” More broadly, she’s a character allowed no agency or nuance and, in fiction, represents a troublingly idealized male vision of femininity in the real world. Lynette talked to us about this trope, her own journey as an artist and woman, and of course her amazing music.
OurStage: This is part one of a three-part project, so it is understandably a bit shorter than a standard album release. Will you consider the entire three parts, together, a full-length album? Or will it be something else entirely? I know you’ve said this will ultimately include visual art and film, so what will parts two and three consist of?
Nikki Lynette: The reason I broke down Happy Songs About Unhappy Things into three separate musical releases is that I want to tell the story of my mental health breakdown and recovery in a way that lets me walk the listener through it. Manic Pixie Dream Girl is the “Before.” The next one, Chronicles of a “Craxy B!+¢#, is the “During,” the actual process of being driven crazy. That will be a bit longer of a project because there is a lot to that story. The last one, The Suicide Bridge, is the “After,” the point when depression has taken hold and you are walking that line between wanting to get better and wanting to die. I plan to roll out visual art with all of them because, again, it helps to tell the story. And the film will come after all three have been released. The project is extremely layered, but at this point in my music career I’m kinda known for being complicated (laughs).
OS: How did you conceive this project? I can’t think of an artist who has released a project in this way. Just in terms of format, does it have any forebears?
NL: I chose to release it this way when I realized that I have music that I recorded during all these different phases in my life. On Manic Pixie Dream Girl, the song “Outshine the Sun” is the most recent. Even though the song is an uplifting tune, you can hear my pain in it. In “The Plot Twist,” you hear my pain. Doing it this way gives context to my depression, and if people can empathize with me then they can empathize with their own friends and loved ones who battle mental health issues. On the next release, Chronicles, there are songs on it that I produced when I was living in the hospital with my mom while she was dying, songs I wrote in response to being diagnosed with PTSD, songs I did at the studio after I broke down crying during the session then wrote a song in 15 minutes and recorded it. I don’t think I have seen a project released this way before; there are a lot of moving pieces involved because right now I am literally producing and recording two albums at once. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.