The Super Bowl Halftime Show has become an overblown spectacle of such proportions and delusionary grasping at the straws of musical-artistic relevancy that it quite simply may never be good again. Yet there have been some standout performances – mostly those that concentrate on actual performing. There were some very dark years here and there that were not focused on the artists and their music as much as the pageantry (I’m looking at you Disney), so I didn’t even count those. There were also a lot of ‘meh’ moments that are not really worth getting into.
2000: PHIL COLLINS, CHRISTINA AGUILERA, ENRIQUE IGLESIAS, TONI BRAXTON
I don’t remember this and I’m not going to watch it, but it’s awful. It’s literally the worst thing I’ve never seen.
Philly-based indie rock outfit Free Energy have been bringing classic rock riffs back since the mid 2000s, when three-fifths of their members were part of Minnesota hometown heroes Hockey Night. With Love Sign, the band’s follow-up to their 2010 release Stuck on Nothing, Free Energy is channeling a whole new decade to expand on their ’70s sound. We talked to lead singer Paul Sprangers about the ’80s influences on the new album, his affinity for certain recurring phrases in his lyrics, and what makes the idea of rebellion so appealing.
OS: How did the band approach writing the new material compared to Stuck on Nothing?
Paul Sprangers: Scott and I demoed songs together, like the last record, but this time we were able to bring the songs to the band, work on arrangements, then re-demo, sometimes repeating and refining the process many times. Then the songs would undergo more arranging with John Agnello so we were able to spend more time refining the songs and letting them ferment. We also had a clearer vision of the production aesthetic going in, partly because of our experience working with James, and also because we had been listening to so much mid-80s music in the last 5 years. INXS, Def Leppard, Peter Gabriel, AC/DC, The Bangles, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Ocean. John Agnello worked on the first Outfield record, and a Cyndi Lauper record, so those were two huge sonic reference points. (more…)
Talking by phone from her mother’s Toronto home, she talked about how her 2011 release Little Red Boots inspired her to more fully explore the roots of country music.
Noting that the first book she read was Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams by Phil Hemphill, Ortega discovered Williams was heavily influenced by the blues. “That’s when I started to see a real connection between blues and country. I tried to listen solely to blues for months at a time, right around the time I was writing the songs for this record.”
She enlisted Colin Linden, a renowned producer and blues guitarist who has an extensive knowledge of blues. Linden helped Ortega weave the blues into the outlaw-traditional-country-with-hints-of-rock sound she developed. In a significant way, Cigarettes & Truckstops is an maturation of Ortega’s music from her debut album Little Red Boots. Although her sound is now more sophisticated and blues based, it has the heartfelt sincerety that drew listeners to her earlier work. (more…)
When the rolls of power-pop royalty are read, before one can go back to early-˜70s ur-power-pop bands like Big Star and Badfinger, you have to hail the genre’s late-˜70s/early-˜80s heyday. Among the handful of acts whose names are invariably invoked in that context”Cheap Trick, Dwight Twilley, The Knack, The Rubinoos, etc.”Shoes are always near the top of the list. The Zion, IL band is considered by the cognoscenti to be one of the quintessential bands to combine melodic pop hooks with urgent rock & roll momentum. Their discography boasts stone-cold classic albums like Black Vinyl Shoes (1977), Present Tense (1979), and Tongue Twister (1980), and most of the rest rate just a step behind them. But Shoes released only one new album in the ˜90s, 1994’s Propeller, and haven’t really been heard from since, until now.
Ignition, the first record to feature new Shoes material in 18 years, will be unleashed on August 14. It features all three original Shoes: Gary Klebe and brothers Jeff and John Murphy, all of whom have always made equal singing/songwriting contributions to the band’s albums. In fact, a key aspect of the group’s sound is the way the members’ individual styles blend together to create a true collective identity. Jeff Murphy says it comes from the fact that Klebe and the Murphys all learned their instruments between ˜73 and ˜74 specifically to start Shoes. That’s part of why we communicate so well with each other, Jeff explains, adding the striking admission, We still don’t know anything about music. We can’t read music, we don’t know what proper chord structure is, or scales, or any of that. But we learned together, so we’re all in the same skill level. We speak the same language.”
“I get high with a little help from my friends,” Ringo Starr sang on the Beatles‘ 1967 classic. These days, so do many of music’s top stars. Two’s company, and so is three and sometimes four. The more the merrier, the higher and higher they get.
On the charts, that is.
In the Top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 for the week ending December 10, seventeen songs were collaborations between separate recording entities. Four of them featured Drake, and three apiece featured Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, who both appeared on tracks with Drake and with each other. But will.i.am featuring Jennifer Lopez and Mick Jagger”and debuting at No. 36 with “T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever),” which the threesome performed on the November 20 American Music Awards”was probably the one that nobody saw coming.
Old-school Rolling Stones fans must be cringing at the idea of Jagger going anywhere near Lopez and will.i.am so soon after Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera went to No. 1 by invoking his hallowed name on “Moves Like Jagger.” But for a sixty-something legend like him, hit records”even if in name only, a la Duck Sauce‘s GRAMMY-nominated “Barbra Streisand”are a near-impossible dream unless they’re in tandem with other, often younger, stars.