Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sound And Vision: Post-Mortem Pop, Starring Drake’s Aaliyah Resurrection and the Second Coming of Whitney Houston

Drake must be the luckiest guy in music. He’s got an enviable portfolio of assets: looks, talent, street cred, excellent connections, gold and multi-platinum. Now the Canadian rapper has a beautiful woman, too”at least a controlling interest in her legacy. But is ownership of the next posthumous phase of Aaliyah’s career one benefit too many?

That’s what some are wondering as we approach the 11th anniversary (on August 25) of the death of Aaliyah, who was killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas in 2001, at age 22, cutting short one of the most promising careers in music. Since then, there’s been scant new material issued under her name. I Care 4 U, a posthumous album released in December of 2002, was followed by nearly a decade of silence.

Until now. Earlier this month, Drake unveiled a new Aaliyah track, Enough Said, credited to Aaliyah featuring Drake and produced by the rapper’s Take Care collaborator Noah 40 Shebib. There’s more: Drake has promised a new Aaliyah album, executive produced by himself and 40, with 13 or 14 tracks, to be released later this year.

“Enough Said” Aaliyah featuring Drake

But is it a true Aaliyah album if key players in her life and legacy”namely her immediate family”are left out of it? Her brother, Rashad Haughton, went so far as to deny the family’s involvement on Aaliyah’s Facebook fan page. There is no official album being released and supported by the Haughton family, he posted on August 7, several days after Drake released the new single. (more…)

Your Country's Right Here: Lucero Showcases 'Women & Work'

Ben Nichols, frontman of the punk alt-country band Lucero, talks like a man who has been musically reborn.

Or maybe it’s more apt to liken his attitude to that of someone who worked and worked and then finally solved the New York Times‘ Saturday crossword puzzle ” in ink, first time through. Sure Lucero has always had a cool punk, alt-country sound that won them fans well beyond the band’s Memphis, Tenn., home base. But now think of Lucero’s punk, alt-country sound as super charged, thanks to the addition of new players and instrumentation. You can hear it all on the band’s new release Women & Work, on ATO records, home of the Drive-By Truckers, My Morning Jacket, and other like-minded musicians.

“When we [recorded] Women & Work all eight pieces had been on the road for a couple years,” said Nichols of the group’s cohesive musical direction. “We had time to gel, as a complete unit and it was the first time everyone had been involved [in recording a Lucero record] since day one. We had discovered what was possible and went into this record knowing exactly where we stood and exactly what sound we were going for.”

Not that Nichols and the other original members of the 14-year-old band didn’t have the determination or talent or enthusiasm to find that musical sweet spot before. It’s just that, like solving a puzzle, they needed to find the key to the tricky questions. In this band’s case, it was how to whip Otis Redding soul into Lucero’s punk country sound and have a pleasing result.

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Your Country's Right Here: Janie Fricke Joins with the Roys for "The Country Side of Bluegrass"

Janie Fricke has once again added to her already hefty musical arsenal.

After going from a jingle singer (Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Red Lobster are among the corporations that featured her vocals) to a back up singer for A-list hit makers including Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, to a duet partner with Merle Haggard and Charlie Rich, Fricke became an A-list singer herself starting with the 1981 solo hit Down to My Last Broken Heart. Now the singer, who has 18 No. 1 singles, is touring behind Country Side of Bluegrass and reintroducing her songs and voice to a new generation of fans.

At first when they asked me to do it, I thought it’d be pretty interesting, said Fricke of the album she completed with famed Nashville producer Bil VornDick. Then the whole plan came together that included [recording and some touring] with the Roys.

Combining the sound of the brother and sister duo of Elaine Roy and Lee Roy, two-time Inspirational Country Music Duo of the Year award winners, with the much-lauded Fricke whose awards include the much coveted CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Award, give the album’s 12 tracks (plus the Ring of Fire bonus track) true distinction.

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Live Wired: Why We Love Live Music So Much

Every week at Live Wired, we talk about different live performances, from national acts to OurStage artists, and attempt to explore what made each show unique and memorable. Despite what changes in the world of music, artists keep touring the country and the world, and we keep buying tickets to go see them. We can sit and review numbers and earnings from concerts or discuss how important touring is to an artist’s career, but that would be no fun. Instead, we want to get to the heart of the matter; why do we love live music so much? Why do we spend the money, take road-trips, wait in line for hours and sing until we lose our voices? These are the questions we asked all different kinds of people in the past few weeks; young and old, music lovers and casual listeners, all with very different tastes. Here’s what we came up with as we take a stab at figuring out the wonder that is live music.

Sense of Community & Good Atmosphere

When asking people about their best concert memories, the majority of the answers we received centered around the crowd itself and the overall feel of the show. Whether it’s a giant annual festival like Lollapalooza, or a band like Steel Train playing a small show, the people surrounding you are important. A combination of genuine respect for the artist and also for your fellow concert-goers can really make an event that much better; when you’re all focused on the music, it’s the only thing that matters. We heard lots of people tell us that going to a concert makes them feel like a part of a giant family. It’s an incredible thing, being surrounded by strangers who can turn into friends for one night just because you all are passionate about the same thing.

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The EditoriaList: Top Ten Musical Crimes Perpetrated By Great Artists

Top 5 musical crimes perpetrated by Stevie Wonder in the ’80s and ’90s. Go.

Sub-question: Is it in fact unfair to criticize a formerly great artist for his latter day sins… is it better to burn out or fade awaaay?

“ Barry, High Fidelity (2000)

I wish they’d actually discussed this in the film, especially the latter bit. For my part, I say great artists have proven that, somewhere inside, they know better, and so should be held accountable for their sins.

Stevie makes this list, but not for I Just Called To Say I Love You. Not even for The Woman In Red…

10. “Freeway of Love” “ Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul abdicated her throne when, in 1985, she recorded this mechanized, synth-driven offense.

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