• Alex Isley

    8 août 2014, 2h33m

    Let's face it - when it comes to 2nd generation musical artists, the vast majority are not so great. Alex Isley, daughter of music legend Ernie Isley, is a notable exception. She has been around for a few years now, and I am seriously baffled as to why she hasn't made a bigger impact yet. Her first EP, The Love/Art Memoirs was a really nice introduction into her minimalist style of R&B. Alex's latest release, Dreams In Analog is my earworm of the moment. For those of us waiting in vain for that full-length King release, Alex Isley offers a nice alternative. Paris Strother, the mastermind behind the Kind soundscape, is featured on the opening track to Dreams in Analog, which is very fitting. Vocally, Alex has similarities to Chantae Cann A side by side comparison between Chantae and Alex both doing MJ/Stevie Wonder classic track I Can't Help It


    Chantae's version


    Both versions are good, but I prefer Alex Isley's version because it is reminiscent of the original, yet she brings her own vibe to it. It is feminine song, and Alex captures the fleeting, youthful infatuation of the lyrics and arrangement. Her vocals glide effortlessly on this track, as they do on all of her available music.

    Perhaps she is the victim of the dismal expectations of 2nd generation musical artists. I don't know. . . I just know that she is really, truly one of the best R&B artists out here right now and if her name was Alex Smith that would still be the case.
  • I can't keep getting my hopes up . . .

    23 jan. 2014, 4h26m

    Year after year we have waited for a new D'Angelo album. And now a glimmer of hope: This ten second clip is giving me Level 42 meets Prince feels, which is a good thing. Hopefully this year will bring new music, but more importantly, let's all hope that the demons have been kept at bay that caused the unfortunate delays in the first place.
  • Copycats - John Mayer & Katy Perry

    21 déc. 2013, 19h43m

    always had some great design work on their records. Glad someone noticed, but SMH at the lack of attribution. They got the text sizing all wrong too. The original has more subtlety and precision that complements the image.
  • Whitney - Unforgettable voice, Forgettable music (mostly)

    17 fév. 2012, 1h18m

    Whitney Houston was my favorite singer when I was a kid. Her voice at its peak was this untouchable, pure thing of beauty. It soared to heights that will probably never be duplicated, and yet as I sit here thinking about her musical contributions one thing stands out to me: her songs weren't really that good. I mean, sure if "How Will I Know"or "So Emotional" pop up when I have my music on shuffle, I won't skip them, and I will most definitely sing along, but in the overall grand scheme of things, Whitney never had great, classic kind of songs. They were mostly disposable pop-quasi soul songs that were really elevated by her instrument. It makes me kind of sad to think of what could have been if her material had ever really matched her talent.
  • I Still Buy CDs - The Janelle Monáe Edition

    22 mai 2010, 1h56m

    Patience. It is an elusive thing to me these days. I mean, who really wants to wait for things? Not in a world where everything is pre-packaged and bit-torrented , right? Well. . . yes and no. Sure, if I have just downed a liter of water after hot yoga, there is no enlightenment to be found in me standing around jittery with my legs crossed while I hold my bladder. However, there are some things, believe it or not, that are worth putting in the extra effort to wait for. Think, for instance, of that hearty stew simmering away for eight-plus hours. The smells waft through the air tempting you to prematurely pull it off the stove and chow down. You know good and well that if you do give in you are missing out on that special and mysterious coagulation of juices and veggies that stew is - so you find the willpower to chill. And a couple of hours later, there you are laid out on the couch, completely stuffed and pleased. Well, I experienced this feeling all thanks to Janelle Monáe and her official major label full length debut The ArchAndroid.

    Like that stomach-busting stew, The ArchAndroid is mad bloated, but you don't mind it because it is so, so good. And completely worth waiting for. Yes, I waited. No pre-release streams, no leaks and sneak peeks - none of that stuff. It was hard, but before I knew it the proper release date (05.18.10) had arrived. It turned out that I had to wait a little longer than I wanted because Amazon was late shipping, but no big deal.

    My ritual began as it always does. First I ripped at the edges of the plastic and then hurriedly pulled that annoying ass tape/barcode label thingy that is always at the top of the CD off as much as I could in order to pry the jewel case open. After that I read through the liner notes, which was the kitschy and weird experience I expected . After that I jumped in the car, gently inserted the disc, and off I went on a long drive down Rt. 30 from Philly to Lancaster. I was completely enthralled and satisfied by what I was hearing. So many musical risks paying off again and again to create this melange that had me lifted for the whole drive. By the end, I felt the peace of delayed gratification. I was reminded that music, in its purest form, should cultivate the desire for patience. The payoff doesn't need to be instantaneous - it shouldn't be anyway.

    So, yeah . . . sometimes patience pays off. Actually - it almost always does.
  • No 15 Trashcan Sinatras “Usually” (2004)

    30 avr. 2010, 2h11m

    Love the Trashcan Sinatras – sorry - “The Trash Can Sinatras.” Like my other fave The Blue Nile, TCS are proud Scots, and it comes out in the music. A bit provincial, lovely, sentimental, and overwhelmingly beautiful, the Trashcan Sinatras have been around since the 90’s but have never really had the success they deserve. Their most well known song is probably still “Obscurity Knocks.” Don’t get me wrong, that is a great song, but they have a bunch of other stuff that is superior in every way. Like this one:

    And lets not forget about this one:

    Of course this one is an undeniable classic:

    Though it is hard to pick my absolute favorite Trashcan Sinatras song, I would probably go with “Usually” from the 2004 LP Weightlifting. The song starts off kind of slow and awkward. I remember the first time I heard it, I wondered how many times Francis Reader was going to actually say the word “usually.” But then that lush chorus kicks in:
    slide out of my mind, waste the daytime…
    send me one sign: “guess i’m fine.”
    out of my life
    it’s when you’re there, fresh on my mind
    that i just slide

    And then the harmonies towards the end – so damn good in every way. I really can’t say enough good about TCS – I don’t care if they are never hip or popular or famous, I can guarantee that twenty, thirty, forty – hell till the day I leave this earth, I will be listening to the Trashcan Sinatras without shame.

    BTW, In the Music finally released in the US - go buy it and support real music.
  • RIP GURU 42010

    20 avr. 2010, 22h37m

    There was a period in my life when all I listened to was Gangstarr. Morning, Noon and Night - All Day, Everyday. I memorized every rhyme that Mr Keith Elam, AKA Guru spit. Today, 04.20.10, I am devastated that this man's life was cut short by cancer. He was a true innovator. As far as I am concerned, we, and by "we" I mean those who live for true hip hop, WE lost one of the most prolific, underrated geniuses to ever bless a mic. I will remember his work with Premier and solo with his (pre-Solar) Jazzmatazz releases. Hip hop as I have always known it died today. Things will never be the same.
  • No 14 Duke Ellington & John Coltrane "In a Sentimental Mood" (1962)

    15 avr. 2010, 10h52m

    All I remember is being a little kid, eyes glued to Heathcliff and Claire Huxtable dancing on the TV. All was right in the world. It's amazing what a good song can do.
  • No. 13 Hall and Oates “Private Eyes” (1981)

    28 mars 2010, 19h13m

    Private Eyes” by Hall and Oates is one of my favorite songs, mainly because I get to break out my incredible hand-clapping skills whenever it comes on. I won’t mention my creepily intense fantasies involving Oates mustache and massive amounts of Schnapps, let’s just say I really enjoy the video below . . . maybe a little too much.

    On a more serious note, I want to say belated RIP to T-Bone Wolk, one of the chief architects of the Hall and Oates sound.

  • No. 10 Michael Jackson "Stranger in Moscow" (1996)

    2 mars 2010, 22h54m

    June 25, 2009. I see the report on a link from TMZ that a friend sent me and I don't believe it. Michael Jackson is dead. It has been months, and yet I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that one. Not sure it will ever sink in really. I wasn’t a rabid MJ fan. I mean, I loved his music, but I wasn’t one of these people who wept uncontrollably at the sight of him and stuff like that. What I did do was admire his musical genius, his artistry, his full commitment to entertaining the world. I also was completely horrified by the public manifestation of his deep inner struggles. The excess, the weirdness, it was all too much. Looking back, I think we can all say that Mike left clues to his torments that kind of were just swept under the rug. For me, when I listen to what I think is his most underrated song, “Stranger in Moscow,” I get this sudden tinge of sadness. The depths of his loneliness, his longing to just exist as a human being without a constant spectacle around him. It was all there on wax and I never noticed, we never noticed or took it seriously until he was gone. I am sure for decades to come people are going to decipher the messages in his songs. He will be dissected again and again – a constant media circus that will forever blight his legacy. But it shouldn’t be this way. Instead of examining MJ’s music for some salacious detail, appreciate it for its beauty and complexity. “Stranger in Moscow” is a brilliant record. The production is flawless; the lyrics are poetic and deeply moving. And that voice, I swear that man has never gotten his due for being an amazing vocalist, which is a shame. It is a disgrace that his immense and incredible musical output will, for some, always take a back seat to tabloid imagery and endless speculation about his hidden life. For me, it will always be about the music, even more so than the dancing and the amazing videos. His music is the infinite.