Monday, August 13, 2018

Kim Gordon: My Five Favorite Breakup Songs

Kim Gordon isn’t typically a list maker. “It’s sort of the thing I hate but once I start getting into it, it’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, this is fun,'” she says with a laugh. “I started out with the theme of classic breakup songs, but then it kind of morphed into the general relationship songs.”

Mostly, she came up with the theme because she thought it would be easy. “I listen to a lot of melancholy music,” she says, laughing. But it could have gone another way. “I was actually thinking of picking songs that dealt with different kinds of breaks, like a break with culture. I was gonna pick Bikini Kill’s ‘Suck My Left One,’ which is kind of a breakup with the hardcore scene and the patriarchy [laughs]. Or Buffalo Springfield’s ‘Out of My Mind,’ which is about feeling a separation from a community. Like [the fans are saying] ,’I’m breaking up with you because you’ve become a rock star.’ It’s about realizing, to use Sixties slang, that you’re becoming part of ‘The Man’ instead of being part of the revolution or the counterculture.”

Instead the Body/Head frontwoman, whose new album The Switch is out now, decided on songs by five women who perfectly articulated breaking up in their own unique ways.

Eleanor Friedberger, “Roosevelt Island”

The whole album, Last Summer, has such a great Seventies radio sound in the production. I love her wordplay. She can make something really mundane sound really meaningful [laughs]. On “Roosevelt Island,” she sings about riding the train and there’s a line, “And it goes and it goes.” And I think that song is kind of like, “See you on the other side of a breakup.” It sounds actually hopeful as opposed to the first song on the album, “My Mistakes,” which is sort of mourning a relationship. But on “Roosevelt,” she talks about riding a train and you really get a sense of living in New York and being alone. It’s a window into feeling, in a way, optimistic and excited. It’s about how the city can really energize you, even though going to Roosevelt Island is kind of escaping the city [laughs].

Aimee Mann, “Save Me”
She wrote this song for the movie Magnolia. It’s a classic. Not only does she have one of the most beautiful voices, her lyrics are also amazing: “You look like a perfect fit/For a girl in need of a tourniquet,” and then there’s that great chorus, “If you could save me from the ranks of the freaks who suspect they could never love anyone.”

Lucinda Williams, “Steal Your Love”
The album Essence is such a great heartbreak record, and I love the lyrics, “I don’t want your drugs and I don’t want your money/I just want to steal your love.” She’s just really great at how to be so vulnerable but also the song is dark. She’s really great with her vulnerability because it’s just so raw.

PJ Harvey, “Shame”
The albums Uh Huh Her and B Sides, to me, are two of my favorite PJ records. I love “Shame” because she’s so defiant in it: “I don’t need no ball and chain.” I also love the song “Who the Fuck” on Uh Huh Her. It’s kind of like, “You’re an asshole. Get out of here.”

Angel Olsen, “Unfucktheworld”
The whole Burn Your Fire for No Witness album is a great breakup record. I like “Unfucktheworld” and that line, “I am the only one now/You may not be around.” It’s kind of like, “You’ll always be alone in your life in a certain way” [laughs]. You’re born alone, as they say, although you’re actually not born alone because your mom is there [laughs].

Friday, August 10, 2018

Shemekia Copeland's America

“I'm not like everybody else,” Shemekia Copeland announces rather unnecessarily on her latest, America's Child. Copeland's sound has always been unique, bold, and brassy, attitude coming off her in waves. Since her '98 debut, Turn The Heat Up, the 39-year-old singer has blasted through six records, produced with Dr. John, Steve Cropper, and the Wood Brothers' Oliver Wood. Will Kimbrough is the producer for number 8, her latest on Alligator.

All of her producers have played on her records, but none have affected her style and vision. “I’m so much a part of my record making process,” the singer said in a 2011 interview for North Carolina alt-weekly Indy Week. “Nobody hands me some songs and says ‘These are the ones you have to do.’ It doesn’t work that way — not with me. I choose all my songs, and I don’t do anything unless I want to.”

This time out, Copeland has changed up a bit for a more Americana format, utilizing some special guests to aid and alter her sound. Former Carolina Chocolate Drop Rhiannon Giddens drops in for some African banjo on “Smoked Ham and Peaches.” Emmylou Harris sings background on a couple of tunes, as does John Prine, also featured in a duet with Copeland on “Great Rain.” Legendary Shack Shakers wildman J.D. Wilkes contributes harp to a couple of tracks, and Steve Cropper lends lead guitar to a track.

But just as she professes, nobody can change Copeland much. On “Ain't Got Time For Hate,” the content sounds like Mavis Staples, Kimbrough even capturing a taste of Pops' guitar sound. But Copeland is still herself, powering through it with gospel fervor delivered with enough projection to reach the back rows or nosebleed seats anywhere she shows up. Copeland's showpiece used to be daddy Johnny Clyde's “Ghetto Child,” delivered largely off-mic as Copeland walked around the facility, her voice needing no amplification to reach out and touch every attendee. This one seems to be in contention to replace that, a rousing anthem Copeland can use to reach and rouse audiences for the remainder of her career.

“ We're walking, talking contradictions,” Copeland contends on “Americans.” Backed by a relentless Bo Diddley beat with Paul Franklin's pedal steel leaking in around the edges, it's a celebration of diversity, inhabiting a tricky-to-navigate landscape populated by a plethora of vastly different individuals from a “slick-haired deplorable thinking he’s adorable” to a “Republican contrarian” to an“orthodox Baptist jew wonderin' what would Jesus do” and including a “left-wing liberal geek married to a redneck freak.” But its not a condemnation of anybody's lifestyle. It's an affirmation of individualism: “No two are the same / that's what makes us beautiful ... still free ... to be ... you and me.”

Copeland's message is powerful throughout, but “Would You Take My Blood” is the strongest statement she's ever made against racism. “You've made it clear a thousand times / that you think I'm not your kind,” she tells a hater. But then she asks that if your life was at stake and you were fading fast, would you take her life-giving fluid, or “rather die than to share your life with mine, take my hand reaching out to you.”

John Prine steps in to duet with Copeland, reprising his composition “Great Rain,” co-written with former Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell, who also played on it, along with Petty, on Prine's 1991 release, Missing Years. It's Prine doing what he does best, making everyday life bearable as best he can by finding the humor in bad situations. “I tell you funny stories / Why can't you treat me nice?” he asks his presumed beloved, or perhaps it's just a temporary time-sharer. “I was praying for mercy / And all he ever sent me was you.”

It's a first for Copeland to be mentioning Hank Williams in one of her songs, but he gets a shout-out on “Smoked Ham and Peaches,” Americana-ized with Giddens' banjo clucking in the background. But Copeland's magnificent voice, muted somewhat, still stays in churchy blues mode. “When the whole world seems fake / give me something real,” she asks, but it's already here, and its her.

“Promised Myself,” with Cropper on lead, is vintage Copeland written by her daddy: deep-dish, hair-raising, soulful blues from the church of Shemekia. It's healing blues, Copeland promising herself she'll never fall in love again, but in the last chorus she admits to a relapse: “Looks like I lied to myself / Looks like true love is gonna always win ... oh Lawd have mercy now,” she wails, but it makes the pain sound mighty fine.

If you had any doubts about her agenda, "I'm In The Blood of the Blues” takes care of that. “I'm the jewel in the crown of the mighty kings of Africa / I'm the hands on the shaft of the spear that slew the lion,” she proclaims, backing it with enough bombast to pin pack the ears of doubters.

Copeland transforms Ray Davies' composition “I'm Not Like Everybody Else” from a jangly rocker to a soulful blues, Kimbrough backing her gospel shouts with slinky slide on a tune that should be her theme song.

Although its a bit of different direction, its still the same Shemekia Copeland, heart and soul intact, a proud spokesperson for all of us.

Singer/Songwriter Mariel Darling Releases First Single and Video “No Mirrors”

With a bold tenacity that shines bright in her music and brand new video, it’s no wonder singer/songwriter Mariel Darling has already had a headstart in her music career having been performing and building her career for the past seven years. And with her brand new single and video “No Mirrors”, she continues to make waves in the ever growing and changing world of music media.

A Western Massachusetts native, 16yr old Mariel Darling started recording music when she was only nine years old after being discovered by manager Jackie Sarkis - formerly of Radio Disney, and at age ten she was already turning heads performing at the New York Knicks halftime show. Even in her early years, the young singer knew that she wanted to use her talent to help promote positive messages, and by eleven she was already hard at work writing and performing songs for the National Education Institute encouraging other kids in a fun and upbeat way to read, study, and focus on their education as a way to further their well-being. These initiatives lead Darling to perform on bigger national stages and festivals including the Maritime Festival, Washington D.C.’s CureFest for Childhood Cancer, and the Camplified Tour which saw her perform in front of thousands of teens and tweens at summer camps across the nation at fourteen.

Cut to 2017, and Darling has become an emerging star in the new music world of social media! A verified, crowned “Muser” and host of the globally syndicated show "Jukebox Countdown" on’s “ TV”, she quickly grew to have a large number of fans on the popular music app. Constantly writing and collaborating, she’s been recently working with major label producer/songwriter Cass Dillon, while consulting with Artist Manager/Developer Stefano DiBenedetto of The Hang Productions.

“All of the things that I let get to me, gonna let them fly away// All of the love that I have in me, Oh It’s gonna set me free//I don’t need no mirrors here, I can see it clearer and clearer”


Delving into her latest release “No Mirrors”, co-written with Dillon, the song and accompanying video were two incredibly creative experiences for Darling during a time where she was really trying to find herself. “This is a song about being confident on the inside. People, especially young girls, are always looking for external validation” she says, continuing “I wanted to write a song to encourage everyone to stop trying to look a certain way or act a certain way to fit in. As young woman we go through so many transformations - mind, body, soul. We need to stop trying to live up to all of the perfection”.

In the video, which sees her going through persona changes from “glam” to “raw” and finally finding inner beauty, she considered the process to be an amazing experience turning deeply personal lyrics into a unique visual representation. “I start off with a pop star look, trying to be something that I think people expect to see as a female pop star performer, and go through another phase as I look in the mirror. Done with the glam, I find myself in a kind of darker place and then transition into a simple look, nude colors, to show the raw internal me. The video helped me really express what I’m going through. The teenage years are tough- with social media and all of the images you see on Instagram. It just makes you second guess who you are and try to ‘be like them’, to fit in.

But through all the challenges and triumphs, Darling - who sees Taylor Swift as one of her biggest influences as a multitalented positive role model - still seems to be enjoying the ride. “Being in the studio is such a special experience. In my opinion it’s the hardest work, but the most fun! Its magical and so satisfying to see it all come together right before your eyes!”.

With more music on the way as she continues to write and collaborate with Dillon in 2018, make sure to check out “No Mirrors” (Available via iTunes, Google Play, Spotify etc.) today!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Breeders, Speedy Ortiz BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! at Festival Prospect Park Bandshell, August 11

Sun Ra Arkestra live score to Space Is the Place at Lincoln Center, August 8

"The music is different here. The vibrations are different here." So opens the 1972 Afrofuturist sci-fi film Space Is the Place by jazz cult-icon Sun Ra. But these words could also apply to (le) poisson rouge, the Bleecker Street club known for its diverse, open-minded programming. This cosmic evening, part of LPR’s 10th-anniversary celebrations, builds up to the Sun Ra Arkestra’s live performance of the score to the film, in which Black people create their own paradise on Saturn, transported there by music. Getting us to that place tonight are the beloved songs of Bill Withers (“Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,” “Just the Two of Us”) performed by Blue Note jazz and R&B artist José James. Jazz pianist and composer Samora Pinderhughes opens with The Transformations Suite, a musical examination of the radical history of resistance within communities of the African diaspora.

“The mix of down-home truth-telling and elegant concision in Withers' songs was a natural fit for James, whose voice occupies a similar register, and whose profile has likewise cut across several subcategories of black music.”

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Press Play Fair 2018 Closing Night Concert with Sun Ra Arkestra, August 4th

Sun Ra Arkestra and BEARCAT will take the stage to close out our Second Annual Press Play Fair.

Eclectic, outrageous, and sometimes mystifying but always imbued with a powerful jazz consciousness, the music of Sun Ra has withstood its skeptics and detractors for nearly three generations. Like Duke Ellington and swing-era pioneer Fletcher Henderson, Sun Ra learned early on to write music in an arranged form that showcased the specific talents of his individual Arkestra members and he has retained the services of some of these musicians to this day including John Gilmore, Marshall Allen, and Julian Priester. Sun Ra was the first jazz musician to perform on electronic keyboards, the first to pursue full-scale collective improvisation in a big band setting, and his preoccupation with space travel as a compositional subject predated bands like Weather Report by about 15 years. All this from someone who refuses to even cite Earth as his home planet and prefers to have arrived from Saturn. As Sun Ra once explained it, “I never wanted to be a part of planet Earth, but I am compelled to be here, so anything I do for this planet is because the Master-Creator of the Universe is making me do it. I am of another dimension. I am on this planet because people need me.”

BEARCAT is a London-born, Philadelphia-based artist. She has performed all over the world, including Egypt, Paris, Lyon, Berlin, Leipzig, Barcelona, Mexico City, Oakland, and Chicago. She has worked as a DJ/producer, audio engineer, and professional make-up artist since 2005. BEARCAT provided creative direction for live events and festivals such as Afropunk, Glastonbury, Reading and Lovebox, among others. She has also DJed sets for musicians including 21 Savage, CupcakKe, and Caleborate. She draws from deeply personal experiences and Diaspora roots, and isn’t afraid to delve deep. Her sets are emotive musical selections as a form of therapy. Her ear guides her into creating bass-heavy uncompromising, powerful mixes that harness a symbiotic energy between the music and the crowd to generate the perfect soundtrack to any event. 2017 was a year of astounding new heights. BEARCAT performed at the Guggenheim, Wiener Festwochen in Vienna, Bloomberg Summer Picnic, 29Rooms, Performa 17 Biennial. BEARCAT’s archive of work and sets can be found at