Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How Prince and Bowie started streaming music services

In the wake of Prince’s untimely death, more and more stories have been revealed about his secret life of good works: anonymous checks, civil rights activism, charity concerts, etc. Right now, Paisley Park staff members are handing out to mourning fans purple boxes filled with CDs, t-shirts and other memorabilia.

But I’d like to talk about something else — the NPG Music Club, an online subscription music club founded on Valentine’s Day 2001 as a virtual love letter to Prince’s many fans.

Sure, Prince had a conflicted relationship with the Internet — just try to find any trace of him online (it’s nearly impossible due to his strict control over his music and his liberal use of takedown notices). But what many don’t know is that he was also a digital pioneer in the Subscription Economy.

For five years, NPGMC (named after Prince’s backing band the New Power Generation) offered a monthly or annual membership that not only let fans get new releases, but also provided access to prime concert seats and passes for events like sound checks and after parties.

Perhaps most importantly, the site provided a place for his dearly beloved fans to gather, “to get through this thing called life” amidst a supportive community of like-minded Prince devotees.

As with most things, Prince nailed the subscription business model: NPGMC didn’t just send out invoices once a month as a mere conduit for recurring revenue. It was built on a foundation of meaningful relationships, which were carefully and respectfully cultivated. 

Music itself is going to become like running water, or electricity.— David Bowie

Case in point: When members complained about heavy traffic on the site, which limited their access, Prince lowered the price from $7.75/month ($100/year) to $2.50/month ($25 for a lifetime membership). In 2006, the Webby’s acknowledged the strong community Prince had built with a lifetime achievement award, saying: “Prince’s leadership online has transformed the entertainment industry and reshaped the relationship between artist and fan.”

Prince always wanted to make sure he was putting his subscribers — his biggest fans — first, so after five years, when Prince felt like the music club had “maximized its potential,” he shut it down, saying, “In its current form, there is a feeling that the NPGMC has gone as far as it can go.”

The club was put on indefinite hiatus until such time as Prince could be sure he was providing value to his subscribers and authentically honoring that relationship between artist and fan. NPGMC never did return as a subscription music club, but Prince continued to play a big role in the subscription economy.

Monday, May 23, 2016

David Bowie Rarities -- Including a Song For Frank Sinatra -- Unearthed For New BBC Documentary

Did you know David Bowie was once asked to contribute lyrics for a song eventually recorded by Frank Sinatra? As you might imagine, his version was rejected immediately, but Bowie’s version of “My Way” is just one of several rarities making their official premiere in an upcoming episode of BBC4’s four-part doc, The People's History of Pop.

According to NME, the crowdsourced documentary will feature Bowie’s 1968 rendition of “My Way,” a song eventually popularized by Frank Sinatra after he chose lyrics written by Paul Anka over Bowie’s. It will also contain alternate versions of the Bowie standard “Space Oddity” and his 1967 single “The Laughing Gnome.”

"The program is still being made, but we can confirm that there will be some rare and special Bowie material in it,” a BBC spokesperson confirmed to NME.

The doc’s concept involves fans offering their most prized memorabilia to help tell the story of popular music’s evolution from the mid ‘50s to the mid ‘90s. In Bowie’s case, biographer Kevin Cann gave the BBC access to the storied vault. The Bowie episode is the second installment in the series, which began back in April.

Some of these rarities are available on outlets like YouTube, though The People's History of Pop will give the masses a rare official glimpse. We leave you with Bowie’s “My Way,” based off music originally written by French songwriting legend Claude François:

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Radiohead Graces Us With A Masterpiece On A Moon Shaped Pool

In the days prior to Radiohead releasing their ninth studio album, A Moon Shaped Pool, the group mysteriously erased their internet presence, effectively throwing the music and social media world into an absolute tizzy. Then they released the Trumpton and Camberwick Green-inspired video for “Burn the Witch”, along with a cryptic logo. While everybody tried to guess what the artwork meant, it became clear that amongst all the speculation over the last year or so, Radiohead was finally ready to grace the world with their latest masterpiece. And a masterpiece it is.

A Moon Shaped Pool will find those that didn’t quite feel 2011’s King of Limbs back on the bus, as the album takes the listener on a journey of Radiohead’s past and present, while always staying two steps ahead of us in their just-out-of-reach future. The aforementioned lead single off Pool, “Burn The Witch”, delivers a strong opening, especially with the background strings that lead us into an absolute frenzy, quite the “low flying panic attack”, with Yorke never ceasing to fail in the angst category. The strings become a familiarity throughout the album, and find Jonny Greenwood continuing his pursuit of orchestral and compositional dominance.

“Daydreaming” has a beautiful melody, very much a lullaby of sorts, with the orchestral strings creating a calming dreamscape. Radiohead has always found a way to be both somber and ethereal at the same time, making us look deep inside while reaching for the stars. “Decks Dark” is a case study of how Radiohead can be both so simple and complex at the same time. A simple piano melody, along with a simple drum beat from Philip Selway, and Colin Greenwood delivering a driving bass line. Radiohead has always been a culmination of all its parts (and sounds, for that matter); so simple, with so much going on. So haunting, yet oozing with sex at the same time. By the time you get to the last stanza, if you don’t find yourself bobbing your head ever-so-slightly while undulating your hips, you aren’t listening properly.

The strumming of an acoustic guitar opens up “Desert Island Disk”. Probably the lightest and most straight forward track on the entire album, there are no innuendos here, as Yorke’s lyrics take us on a journey of rebirth and new experience, “Through an open doorway / Across a stream / To another life / And catching my reflection in a window / Switching on a light / One I didn’t know / Totally alive / Totally relieved”….it very much seems that our protagonist has left the past behind him. Could Yorke be discussing his separation from Rachel Owens, his girlfriend of 23+ years and mother to his two children? It is anybody’s guess, but the lyrics are somewhat of a change from the typically angst-ridden Yorke.

“Ful Stop” has that walking down the stairs into a dark, dank underground club vibe to it. The music is muffled at first, then as you make your way further down the corridor, the doors burst open and the trip begins. One of the more uptempo songs on the album, this is going to drive people wild in the live setting, a la Kid A's "Idioteque". This is classic Radiohead at their best; they understand how to layer better than any other group of musicians out there.

At some point, do yourself a favor and walk through a garden or an arboretum, put “Glass Eyes” on and slowly breathe in and out as you begin to glide effortlessly through nature to the string arrangement that Greenwood has so eloquently composed for our ears. Just do it, and your stress level will go down exponentially. The quintet delves into a jazzier realm with the number “Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief”, once again soaring into this ethereal space with strings that eventually fade away as the number comes to a close.

It is interesting to see three songs that have been around for years make it onto Pools. “Identikit” carries a straight groove while Yorke and a backing choir chant, “Broken hearts make it rain”. It is also the most lead guitar we see on the entire album. As with “Present Tense” – a bossa nova number which features that all too familiar Yorke lament - and “True Love Waits” (the latter of which dates back to the 90’s), perhaps this is just another example of the band’s patience and perfectionist nature. This group has always been rather meticulous, and that quality is what makes them one of the greatest bands of all-time.

One thing that we rediscover with A Moon Shaped Pool is the sheer brilliance that is Jonny Greenwood. He could arguably be one of the greatest composers of the last fifty years. He is able to manipulate sound with these expressive tones, lush textures and layered distortions without being bombastic in any way, shape, or form; a stark contrast from the bands early days on Pablo Honey, The Bends, and OK Computer, yet undoubtedly recognizable. If A Moon Shaped Pool is any indication, Greenwood has a lot left in the tank. And within those Greenwood layers, we find the ever-understated Ed O'Brien, an incredible guitarist in his own right, who adds sweeping arpeggios, pedal effects and rhythm guitar in such subtle fashion.

This is still Radiohead, and undeniably so. Thematically, we still receive the alienation and malaise, as well as the serene and beautifully fractured; the band always walking along the precipice of both worlds. Elementally, there is still the balance between embracing the live instrumentation versus the electronic, a concept that Radiohead embraced early on and made no apologies for. We’ve always known that these five gentlemen from England have pushed the proverbial envelope with each of the nine albums they have so scrupulously created. They constantly evolve with each album, make no excuses for it, and sometimes at a pace that is quicker than what their fan base can keep up with. And while most will enjoy Pool on the first listen, this album (and most of Radiohead's catalogue) typically take a second and third listen to truly grasp the magic that is going on.

It could be said that A Moon Shaped Pool is the perfect culmination of each phase of Radiohead, touching upon every different period in the bands career, while at the same time making the argument that this is the band’s swan song, their final statement - as some rumors would make us believe. The album coming to a close on The Bends-era number “True Love Waits” could hint at that, as things may have come full circle. As Yorke sings “Just don’t leave / Don’t Leave” to close the album, we can question the meaning endlessly. Is it about his failed relationship? Is it time for the band to part ways? Or maybe they simply felt that they finally crafted the version of the song that was sought after all along.

Regardless of any of that, to concentrate on the dissolution of Radiohead is a depressing thought when they literally just delivered perfection to us within the last forty-eight hours, and a thought that I personally would prefer to keep at arms length for a while longer. It just doesn't seem like something that many of us are quite ready for just yet. Instead of speculating, we should be least for now. After all, if history tells us anything, we have another four to five year wait anyway. So, just relax and enjoy the album.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn, August 27-28

AFROPUNK BROOKLYN returns to Commodore Barry Park August 27th & 28th for another weekend of live music and good vibes.

Described by The New York Times as “the most multicultural festival in the US,” it promises an eclectic line-up and an audience as diverse as the acts they come to see. More than just a weekend, as the AFROPUNK movement expands into international terrain, experiencing it on its home turf makes AFROPUNK BROOKLYN that much more special.

Join us this summer to add your voice to the sound behind the movement. And most importantly, come ready to party.

Rage Against The Machine and Public Enemy members form supergroup Prophets of Rage

RATM vocalist Zack de la Rocha is not involved.

Members of Rage Against The Machine – guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk – along with Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Cypress Hill’s B-Real have formed a supergroup called Prophets of Rage, Billboard reports.

The band will make their live debut at the Hollywood Palladium on June 3, with a show at LA’s Whisky a Go Go to follow. A summer tour could also be on the cards.

This follow’s the unveiling of mysterious website Prophets of Rage,where a countdown clock has been teasing the release of a big announcement on June 1. It was originally thought that a Rage Against The Machine live reunion was happening, until a source close to the band confirmed otherwise.

In a report from a source close to the iconic ’90s band, it was confirmed that Prophets Of Rage is not a RATM reunion but will involve some of its members. “There’s a lot more to it,” they told Rolling Stone.“There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of exciting news to be revealed.”

We now know Zack de la Rocha is not involved.

Chance The Rapper is on an ultralight beam on the gospel-influenced Coloring Book

On Kanye West’s ‘Ultralight Beam’, Chance The Rapper boasts, “I made ‘Sunday Candy’, I’m never going to hell / I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail.”

The lyric and the song set the tone for Chance’s first solo project since his 2013 breakthrough Acid Rap, Coloring Book, a mixtape that focuses the rap-meets-gospel aspirations of The Life of Pablo into a ray of sunshine that illuminates concerns both worldly and heavenly.

On last year’s Surf, Chance subsumed himself into the Social Experiment, trying his best to step out of the spotlight, highlight his collaborators and be a bandleader. It was a pleasant experiment, but those hoping for a proper follow-up to Acid Rap were probably disappointed; Surf belongs to the collective, not Chance. Thankfully, even as he’s brought in more collaborators than ever, balancing legendary (Kanye, Lil Wayne), contemporary (Future, Jeremih) and compatriot (Towkio, Saba, his cousin Nicole) without losing focus. His voice and personality are so strong that even when Justin Bieber does a bridge and Jay Electronica drops a verse, both are treated like NBD afterthoughts. There is no doubt that Coloring Book is Chance’s record.

Coloring Book is the Gospel according to Chance The Rapper. Not only is it built upon a rock of contemporary gospel music – praise Jesus lyrics, church choirs, Kirk Franklin – but Chance knows who he is and what he wants to give to the world, even more so than he did on the wise-beyond-its-years Acid Rap. Gone is the acid-washed meandering of that mixtape; fame, fatherhood or simply a few birthdays have sharpened Chance’s art into arrows aimed at a handful of targets.

Of those targets, armchair industry experts will probably latch onto the music biz BS: a grinning Chance threatening label execs with “dreadhead niggas in ya lobby,” keeping “the industry in disbelief” by forgoing beef by collaborating with Chief Keef and wondering if he’s “the only nigga still care about mixtapes.” That last question comes amid a push to get the Grammys to consider freely-released music (which Chance has co-signed), and it comes on a song that features Young Thug and Lil Yachty – the two latest artists to continue the mixtape-only innovation of figures like Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, Lil B and Future. In that regard, Chance sees himself on that list, and he’s not wrong (see also: that mixtape of based freestyles).

But in the scheme of things – both on the record and in real life – music industry shenanigans don’t amount to much. Chance is more focused on his family, his city, his soul. He’s raising his baby daughter and “tryna turn my baby mama to my fiancée”; he’s not concerned with four-minute songs, he wants to give his girlfriend “a four-hour praise dance” every morning. And as with anyone from Chicago, the city looms large. After a spell in Los Angeles, he has returned to his hometown and found the same city in pain that he rapped about on Acid Rap, but rather than asking where the media is like he did on ‘Paranoia’, he wonders why the police are expanding when “summer school get to losing students” on the moving ‘Summer Friends’. Apart from politics, Chance proudly carries the torch of the city’s music tradition, too, nodding to early period Kanye, interpolating R. Kelly on a tribute to roller rink dance parties (‘Juke Jam’) and writing a love letter to the city on the juke-inflected, slang-slinging ‘Angels’.

There’s a vein of nostalgia for childhood throughout, which isn’t surprising from an artist who once covered the theme from Arthur. The 23-year-old looks back at not-so-long-ago days of catching lightning bugs, reading Harry Potter and dancing with girls to Chris Brown; the touching ‘Same Drugs’ uses an extended Peter Pan metaphor for an ‘I Used To Love H.E.R.’-type song that is either about old friends, a time before Chicago was Chiraq or both.

As with all nostalgia, there is pain here, but for all the heart-wrenching moments (‘Summer Friends’, ‘D.R.A.M. Sings Special’, ‘Same Drugs’), there are ones of pure joy. Along with the irrepressible ‘Angels’, there’s ‘All Night’, an undeniable, Kaytranada-produced dance track that puts an upbeat spin on the themes of songs like ‘Where Ya At’ and ‘Benz Friendz’. As he raps on ‘Blessings (Reprise)’, “I speak of wondrous unfamiliar lessons from childhood / Make you remember how to smile good.” With that as its mission, Coloring Book succeeds, even if listeners might be smiling while crying like a springtime sun shower. Because no matter how cloudy the skies, we have hope that the sun will come out tomorrow; until then, there’s Coloring Book. Chance rightly proclaims himself “Kanye’s best prodigy,” and as his mentor says on the opening track, “Music is all we got.”

Scott Stapp (The Voice of Creed), Rocket Queen and Shock Radar at Revolution / Amityville, May 28!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Veldt, Your 33 Black Angels, Steep Leans, Earnhart at Union Pool, May 22!

Formed by identical twin brothers singer/guitarist Daniel and guitarist Danny Chavis, and rounded out by drummer Marvin Levi on drums and bassist Dave Burris, The Veldt quickly became the "must see attraction" of the quirky art-rock scene in Chapel Hill, NC (which also held bands like Superchunk, Polvo and Dillon Fence in its ranks). The Veldt released their first proper record, Marigold's, on Stardog/Mercury, in 1992. Marigold's was received well enough to earn the band a much more lucrative contract with Polygram Records. The result was the cult classic Afrodisiac recorded and produced in London, England with Ray Shulman (The Sugarcubes, The Sundays, etc.) at the helm. Afrodisiac's under current rumblings eventually rose to cause a storm as the band soon found themselves sharing stages with likes of Oasis, The Cocteau Twins, The Pixies, Fishbone, Corrosion Of Conformity and a host of other seminal alternative bands. After two more records, Universe Boat on Yesha Recordings and Love At First Hate on their own imprint, End Of The World Technologies, Danny left the band preceded by Burris who left the music business for a career in film in 1994 (he is currently the producer for CBS's hit show Survivor). The Veldt continued on in various incarnations until it was put to bed in 2007. After relocating to New York City, Danny and Daniel focused on their new band Apollo Heights. This time around, The Chavis brothers pushed their musical boundaries with more electronica and trip hop influenced back drops to create texture with Daniel's soulful falsetto croon. Their last recording, White Music For Black People, featured the twins and special guests Mos Def and Lady Miss Kier from Delite fame. TV On The Radio's David Sitek handled some of the production with Danny and Daniel doing the rest.

Friday, May 13, 2016

PJ Harvey touring, playing NYC and LA in August Read More: PJ Harvey touring, playing NYC and LA in August

PJ Harvey, who released The Hope Six Demolition Project earlier this spring, will be in North America later this year for shows at NYC’s Terminal 5 on August 16 and Los Angeles’ Shrine Expo Hall on August 18. Tickets for T5 show go on sale Friday, May 13 at 10 AM.

Those NYC/LA shows comes right after PJ Harvey wraps up her European tour and are apparently the only U.S. dates she’ll do in 2016. All known tour dates are listed below. 

PJ Harvey – 2016 Tour Dates
Jun 04 Primavera Sound Barcelona, Spain
Jun 05 BOIS DE VINCENNES Fontenay Sous Bois, France
Jun 10 Primavera Sound Porto Porto, Portugal
Jun 11 Victoria Park London, United Kingdom
Jun 12 Victoria Park London London, United Kingdom
Jun 17 Sideways Festival Helsinki, Finland
Jun 18 Ahmad Tea Music Festival Moscow, Russian Federation
Jun 20 INmusic Festival Zagreb, Croatia
Jun 20 “Zitadelle Berlin ” Berlin, Germany
Jun 24 Down The Rabbit Hole Festival Ewijk, Netherlands
Jun 25 Rokslide Festival Roskilde, Denmark
Jun 29 Open’er Festival Gdynia, Poland
Jun 30 Festivalpark Werchter, Belgium
Jul 02 Rock Werchter Werchter, Belgium
Jul 03 Festival Beauregard Herouville Saint Clair, France
Jul 07 Pohoda Festival Trencin, Slovakia
Jul 08 Harvest of Art Festival Vienna, Austria
Aug 11 Øyafestival Oslo, Norway
Aug 11 Way Out West Uddevalla, Sweden
Aug 16 Terminal 5 NYC
Aug 18 Shrine Expo Center Los Angeles

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Radiohead are dropping a new album TODAY!

So after suddenly releasing two new songs – ‘Burn The Witch‘ and ‘Daydreaming‘ – the ever weird Radiohead are going to be releasing a full-length album TODAY.

The band’s new digitally released album will either be found over on one particular digital platform (knowing Radiohead) or be available everywhere. The album is set to drop at 7pm! Keep your eyes and ears peeled for that!

While Radiohead are definitely one of those bands who seem smarter than they actually are, the most interesting thing about their new single, ‘Burn The Witch‘, isn’t so much the song itself, but rather the dark, twisted and all too real story the video portrays. Seriously, extra points for being macabre, guys.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Heart on Fire: Concert for Ivan Julian feat. Richard Hell, Matthew Sweet, Thurston Moore, Vernon Reid and Burnt Sugar, Ira Kaplan (of Yo La Tengo), Lee Ranaldo (of Sonic Youth), The Dictators NYC & more! May, 7!

It didn't take long for Ivan's brethren of pals to heed the call to action. Ivan's music resume reads like the history of punk and rock 'n roll and the packed rosters of both shows represent. Richard Hell, Ivan's CBGB Voidoid bandmate, is appearing publicly as a musician for the first time in decades for the May 4 show, and has now been added to the May 7 show, where he will be joined by at least one special unannounced guest. Richard also wrote this message about Ivan:


I’ve known Ivan since he was 21, in spring 1976 (40 years ago), when Bob Quine and Marc Bell and I were auditioning people to become Quine’s Voidoid co-guitarist. Bob was so impressed by Ivan's chops, he copped the slot on the spot. He’s only gotten better, year after year, as a player and all around monster of goodness, and that’s the truth. I love him. It’s horrible that he has to suffer some terribly painful, life-threatening illness, and have it ravage him financially as well. American barbarism. What’s left are his friends, admirers, and sympathizers. Please contribute to his fund if you possibly can.

Ivan Julian Fund
The history of CBGB, Max's Kansas City, No Wave, and the foreground of punk/rock 'n roll come together for a pair of concerts to help support Ivan's battle with cancer. He is facing a long journey of treatment, out of pocket medical and cost of living expenses, which includes keeping being able to keep his recording studio until he can return to work.

The May 4 show sold out in hours: featuring Richard Hell, MC Deborah Harry, Vernon Reid & Burnt Sugar (Living Colour), Ian Hunter, Lenny Kaye & Tony Shanahan (Patti Smith Group, house band) The Dictators NYC, Garland Jeffreys, Willie Nile, The Bush Tetras and special guests.

On May 7 Richard Hell, Thurston Moore & Lee Ranaldo (co-founders of Sonic Youth), Matthew Sweet, Vernon Reid & Burnt Sugar (Living Colour), Tony Shanahan (Patti Smith Group, house band) THE DICTATORS NYC, Ira Kaplan (Yo La Tengo), Arto Lindsay (DNA), James Sclavunos (Nick Cave, Grinderman, Sonic Youth, The Cramps); with MC Lydia Lunch, the voice of New York's underground and special guests.

Backed by a world-class, history-packed house band of pals including: James Mastro (Ian Hunter, music director, guitar) & Nicholas Tremulis(guitar, co-music director, 5/4), Vinny DeNunzio (The Feelies, percussion) Al Maddy (Joey Ramone, Jesse Malin, keyboards, guitar) Steve Goulding (Mekons, drums).

Historical nights of music that will provide much needed funds for cost of living, out of pocket medical. And eye on the prize: adding CANCER FREE to Ivan's resume, he's got a lot more music to make! #TeamIvan

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Radiohead’s ‘Burn The Witch’ is getting a 7” release

Independent record stores are in for a hell of a treat later this month.

Still no sign of LP9, but Radiohead’s new single ‘Burn The Witch’ looks set for a vinyl release.

Independent record shop chain Bull Moose uploaded a new listing today, pointing towards a May 16th release for the new track. According to the listing, it’ll be backed by the Christmas Day surprise release ‘Spectre’ (a rejected Bond theme for the film it shares its name with). It’s an “indie exclusive” too, which is nice.

Catch up with DIY’s verdict on ‘Burn The Witch’ here, and stream the track for yourself alongside its stop-motion video below. Apparently it’s a critique of the refugee crisis.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lee Ranaldo has been added to The Thurston Moore Group at Baby's All Right, May 1

Three of the four (sans Kim Gordon) original members of Sonic Youth will be in the same room tonight at Baby's All Right in Brooklyn, NY. Lee Ranaldo will be performing a solo set along with Thurston Moore's group headlining. You can bet this will be a memorable evening...  get your tickets ASAP!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Don Cheadle kills it in "Miles Ahead"

If you don't know anything about the life or music of jazz legend Miles Davis going into "Miles Ahead," you won't know much more walking out of it.

Don Cheadle's film – he co-wrote, directed and stars in it – might be pigeon-holed as a bio-pic, but it sure doesn't fit any of the accepted parameters of the genre.

For one thing, most of it is made up. For another, it skips Davis's childhood and early formation as an artist, and ignores important collaborators and key people in his life.

Then again, its protagonist was a rule-breaker of the first order, a restless and inventive musician who said, accurately, "Well, I guess I changed music five or six times."

It makes sense that anyone making a movie about the man and the artist should at least take a stab at reinventing the genre, even if it means adding a heavy dose of fiction. As Davis says to an interviewer at the beginning of the film, "If you're going to tell a story, come with some attitude, man."

But if facts don't get in the way of this story, what you will know about Miles Davis is a kind of truth. Cheadle, in an exultant, career-capping performance, shows us the Davis we might have met if we'd been lucky enough to sneak into his apartment in the late 1970s -- a period when he stopped making music, became a recluse and almost disappeared into drugs and paranoia.

That's precisely the plot Cheadle and co-writer Steven Baigelman cooked up for their portrait of Davis. A reporter for Rolling Stone (Ewan McGregor, nailing the charming rascal role), goes to interview Davis, pretty much sneaks into his apartment, and ends up as his sidekick in a weird heist movie, one complete with stolen treasure, screeching car chases, guns and leering bad guys.

Along the way, the reporter attempts an interview. Davis doesn't cooperate, of course, but it leads him into reveries of the past and memories of his first wife, Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi), a stunning dancer who became his muse. Frances gave up her art and her identity when he demanded it, getting in return his infidelities and abuse. The movie suggests that when she left him, so did his music. (True? Who knows?)

These flashbacks take us to the 1950s, when Davis was both the ultimate cool cat of jazz and an intense and driven virtuoso -- facets that Cheadle slips between as fluidly as vividly as the music Davis made. In fact, some of the best scenes in the movie take place in his studio, where Davis works with musicians and composes brilliant pieces on the fly – recalling the studio scenes in the similarly inventive Brian Wilson bio-pic, "Love & Mercy."

But while "Love & Mercy" broke a lot of the genre rules, too, it was a far more successful movie – in large part because most of it was true, even as it departed from standard form.

"Miles Ahead," in attempting to mirror Davis's music with an impressionistic, free-form style, is too often a confusing jumble of flash-backs and digressions.

Cheadle worked on the movie for 10 years, and worked hard to secure financing for it. He delivers a spectacular performance. It's clear that "Miles Ahead" is the very definition of the term labor of love.

Alas, much like its difficult, cranky, unpredictable and genius subject, it is a very hard movie to love.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Mark Newman to Open for Legendary Blues Artist David Bromberg at The Space at Westbury Friday, May 6th

Bringing tones of familiarity yet originality to his new EP “Brussels”--out last March 2015 on Danal Music and on iTunes and CD Baby--singer/songwriter Mark Newman is continuing to make his mark on both East and West Coasts and internationally. Although he’s played a ton of exciting solo and full-band showcases recently, notably NYC’s B.B. King’s for the Delbert McClinton Birthday Show, The Space at Westbury opening for the one and only Don Felder, and The Blue Note in Tokyo, Japan, he has also worked as sideman to so many soul, blues, and rock greats of our time like John Oates (Hall and Oates), Jim McCarty (The Yardbirds), Willy DeVille, Sam The Sham, and Sam Moore! With Spring 2016 rapidly approaching, Newman has added a performance at Rockwood Music Hall Tuesday, June 14th and at The Space at Westbury Friday, May 6th to his list of upcoming performances!

A New York native, Newman’s musical prowess has taken him around the world several times over, playing with an eclectic mix of noted musical talents from Sting to Elvis Costello, and Travis Tritt as well as his own solo work. A multi stringsman, Mark has mastered electric/acoustic/lap steel guitar as well as the mandolin and dobro, and with a voice reminiscent of many rock and bluesmen before him- it has the familiarity of an old friend yet the power and soul of many of today’s rock, soul, folk and R&B icons. For over five years, Newman and fellow songwriter Naomi Margolin have run the “Music From the Hive” Singer/Songwriter Series, and for the past two years- “The Original Music Series” for bands, in an attempt to keep original music alive on Long Island. Newman also records and produces local artists in the Long Island/NYC area.

He’s said of some of his mentors: “You’d have to be an idiot not to learn from the guys I’ve had the honor of playing with,” adding “Hey, Sam The Sham didn’t just write ‘Wooly Bully.’ He wrote some of the best blues songs I ever heard. And Sam Moore’s almost 80 yet sings like he’s 25. He taught me not to over-think, just open your mouth and let it go. I don’t know if I’ve even come close to doing this but what I do know is what I’ve learned from those three is invaluable.”

Having released “Walls of Jericho” in 2010, the album is filled with intricate guitar work and mixed with a plethora of sounds from hard rock to a lighter more Dylanesque folk tinge, but this style comes even more to the forefront on “Brussels”. The new live acoustic-driven EP packs a bluesy punch reminiscent of Clapton’s “Unplugged” album through both the guitar work and raw vocal power. On the first track “Mean Season (Lucille, Lucille)”, Newman bellows “I waited til’ dawn, see if the sun will shine when you’re gone // You turn away, I just can’t stay where I don’t belong” and like many early bluesmen before him, you can hear the soulful longing and strife in his voice. With the brilliant slide-guitar work in “Dead Man’s Shoes” we’re easily transported in our minds to the West in the era of outlaws and cowboy boots, and in “Must Be A Pony” reminded about the power of a child’s enthusiasm and the efforts not to lose it as time goes by.

Upcoming Shows:

Friday, May 6th w/ David Bromberg @ The Space at Westbury, Westbury, NY

Tuesday, June 14th w/ John Platt’s On Your Radar at Rockwood Music Hall, New York, NY

In an age of technology with the power of easy editing techniques at the touch of a button, it can be reassuring to know that a musician can still pack a punch with raw talent as a songwriter and overall accomplished performer, and Mark Newman’s live EP “Brussels” along with his carefully crafted live shows do just that.

You won’t want to miss this incredible performer and guitarist-at-large as he continues bringing his talents to the stage throughout 2016! To see for yourself, head to any one of his upcoming NY dates!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hear Rivers Cuomo's Upbeat Song From New Monkees Album

The Monkees are just one month away from releasing Good Times!, their first studio album since 1996's Justus, and right here you can watch the official lyric video for "She Makes Me Laugh," written by Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo. "I'm super stoked to be writing a song for the Monkees," says Cuomo. "I've always identified with their musical aesthetic – the chord changes and melodies."

Good Times! (in stores May 27th) celebrates the group's 50th anniversary as a recording unit, and it features songs by Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard and XTC's Andy Partridge, as well as Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller. There are also tunes written by Neil Diamond and Carole King in the 1960s that the group never got around to releasing. The album was produced by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne.

The Monkees reformed with original guitarist Mike Nesmith in 2012, shortly after the sudden death of Davy Jones. Nesmith played a series of critically acclaimed tours with surviving members Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork through 2014, but this summer they are hitting the road without him. Nesmith did contribute a tune to Good Times! ("I Know What I Know"), and he plays guitar and sings on several tracks on the album.

Rivers Cuomo is a longtime Monkees fan. "I've always felt a personal connection to the Monkees because I'm from the same small New England farm town as Peter Tork," he writes in the album's liner notes. "I used to hear that one of the Monkees went to my high school, which was an amazing fact to me because it was such a small school out in the middle of nowhere. It gave me the feeling that if an E.O. Smith kid made it to the top once, it can happen again. So let that be an inspiration to you E.O. Smith kids now, maybe 30 years into the future you'll be writing a song for a new Weezer album."

Super Furry Animals at Webster Hall, May 5