Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I Will Never Let You Down - Rita Ora

Song: I Will Never Let You Down
Artist: Rita Ora
Album: I Will Never Let You Down

Big Pop Song alert...

Rita Ora is a British singer-songwriter and actress who released her debut album Ora in 2012.  "I Will Never Let You Down" is the first single from her as-yet untitled sophomore album which is expected sometime this year.  The song is written and produced solely by Calvin Harris, whom Ora is currently dating.

Ora's early singles never really grabbed me, and her success was pretty limited to the U.K. and Europe.  Things may change with this record, which is quite the grower, coupled with a profile-raising role in the Fifty Shades of Grey film adaptation.

The track itself reminds me of Jessie J's "Domino" and the Harris-penned/produced smash for Rihanna; "We Found Love."  Not sure just how big this track will get, but it's a perfectly catchy and summery track that will sound good blaring out of cars in the sun.  I'm a big Calvin fan, but both this and his own recent single "Summer," don't really push things forward all that much.  Does it matter?  Maybe not now... Mr. Harris, as evidence from his last album which spawned no-less than eight successful singles, knows what radio wants right now.


I Will Never Let You Down
How We Do (Party)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Supernova - Ray LaMontagne

Song: Supernova
Artist: Ray LaMontagne
Album: Supernova

I've known about singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne for years but for whatever reason, never took the time to get to know his work.  I've really become obsessed with Lana Del Rey's new song, and the 60s psychedelic vibe she's switched to.  So when I read that LaMontagne's new album Supernova was also produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and was a bit of departure in sound for him, I was intrigued.

LaMontagne's sound over his first four albums has been grounded in an Otis Redding meets Stephen Stills soulful folk feel, and with Supernova he shifts slightly to yes, a little 60s psychedelia, which you feel from the start.  Given Auerbach has fully produced both records, is Supernova an indication of what Ultraviolence will sound like?  Like a female flip of it?  While she may have helped me get here... I'm not thinking about Lana all that much because Supernova is simply amazing in it's own right.  What has taken me so long to give this guy a shot?!?!

I grew up on 60s psychedelia thanks to my Dad, and I can't help but be transported back a bit when listening to Supernova.  The album has it's folky moments, but also has that rollicking, tripped out sound on songs like "Julia" and the title track.  The Summer of Love vibe is felt straight off the top with album lead "Lavender" and it's whispered "chick-ahs!" that remind me of some classic track that I can't place.  Grrr... what is it? (Edit: it came to me on the way to work, it's "Time of the Season" by The Zombies.  Man... that's get's a big "duh!")

Supernova, despite it's pointed look back doesn't sound dated... it sounds classic.  LaMontagne has written some great songs for this record... I feel like I'm only just starting to understand how good it is.  I'm sharing this with everyone.  I'm highlighting the title track because it's upbeat, catchy, and sounds like yes, a long-lost classic.  But listen to this whole record.



Monday, April 28, 2014

Do it Again - Röyksopp & Robyn

Song: Do it Again
Artist: Röyksopp & Robyn
Album: Do it Again

On may 26th Robyn will return (sort of) with a mini album collaboration with Röyksopp, whom have also been quiet musically since 2010 when they released their follow-up/companion album Senior to '09's Junior, which contained a killer track with Robyn called "The Girl and the Robot."  Prior to that Robyn worked with the duo on her own track "None of Dem" which was on her last triumphant release Body Talk.

They are also hitting the road together for a joint tour this year.

Suffice to say we've all been eagerly awaiting new material from both, so "Do it Again," the mini-album and first single from the project come with a heavy dose of expectation.  I remember when Body Talk Pt. 1 was released and it seemed impossible that she'd be able to top her gargantuan single "With Every Heartbeat" from her '05 album Robyn, but then "Dancing on My Own" happened.

 That track took on a life of it's own, boosted by several killer addition songs from Body Talk, so it's hard not to come at "Do it Again" without unrealistic expectations...

But the track is really a corker, and fits within Robyn's heartache-on-the-dancefloor wheelhouse.  Sonically it's pretty hard-hitting, peppy, and catchy... and repeated listens reveal a now-typical deeper lyrical content of cyclical bad decisions.  Get ready some (more) life-changing personal transcendence on the dancefloor!  (How does she do this so effortlessly?!?!)

There's a couple tracks that pass the eight-minute mark, and a low-quality stream of some of the other songs reveal an experimental edge to the project.

Color us excited.


Do it Again

Monday, April 14, 2014

West Coast - Lana Del Rey

Song: West Coast
Artist: Lana Del Rey
Album: Ultraviolence

Lana Del Rey returns with the first single from her upcoming sophomore album Ultraviolence called "West Coast."  It's a woozy, druggy, sexy track that has a bit of a sinister, psychedelic 60s vibe to it and an odd tempo change in the chorus.  Perfect for slowly spinning on a hot Summer night in... well I suppose the pale moonlight.

"West Coast" doesn't get an official release until May 18th with no word when to expect the album.  Producer of the track hasn't been confirmed, but Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys is producing part, or possibly all of the new album.

While it's less pop than her previous work, I like this.  She creates a mood in her songs so effortlessly, and this is like the transition out of the faux-50s feel of Blue Velvet into a darker, drug-addled freak-out 60s.


West Coast

Thursday, April 10, 2014

In Your Shoes - Sarah McLachlan

Song: In Your Shoes
Artist: Sarah McLachlan
Album: Shine On

I listened to a bit of Tori after yesterday's post, as well as some Spotify Radio under a Tori Amos channel and it was like a Lilith Fair, 90-Alt Rock girl reunion... Poe, Paula Cole, Jewel, and... Sarah McLachlan, the Mother of Lilith Fair, who incidentally is releasing her eighth album next month...

Shine On will be the singer-songwriter's first release in four years after 2010's Laws of Illusion.  After being a pretty big fan for her first four albums, I.. like man, fell out of interest.  Call it consistency, her just more-of-the-same approach, or the frankly downbeat nature of her recent work... I just haven't been here for Ms. McLachlan.

First single "In Your Shoes" teams her, once again, with longtime collaborator Pierre Marchand, for a rather upbeat folk-pop song.  It's nice if not remarkable.  The album is apparently about the death of her Father, which sounds... about right for McLachlan.

I was reminded hearing all those girls just how much I was into that folky, "alternative" chick sound back then.  And how much I'm not now.


In Your Shoes

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Trouble's Lament - Tori Amos

Song: Trouble's Lament
Artist: Tori Amos
Album: Unrepentant Geraldines

Singer-songwriter Tori Amos returns from a multi-album and project exploration of classical and orchestral music with a new pop/rock album, Unrepentant Geraldines.  It is her fourteenth (!!) album since the release of her debut album Little Earthquakes in 1992. (If you don't count Y Kant Tori Read.)

First single "Trouble's Lament" is a folky, dark track that's unmistakably Tori and sound-wise close to her Scarlet's Walk/The Beekeeper eras.  The former being one, if not my favorite albums of hers, with the latter being my hands-down least favorite.  We'll see.

The fourteen-track album's concept revolves around the singers relationship with art; each track being inspired by a specific piece of art.


Trouble's Lament
Making of Unrepentant Geraldines

Monday, April 07, 2014

Stay in Love - Plastic Plates

Song: Stay in Love
Artist: Plastic Plates feat. Sam Sparro
Album: Stay in Love

Plastic Plates is the stage name for Felix Bloxsum, a Sydney-born DJ and music producer who has played and worked with a wide variety of artists from Empire of the Sun, Sneaky Sound System and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Clarkson, and Christina Aguilera.  He's been on the Kitsuné label for some time, releasing a handful of singles and a couple EP's.

Plastic Plates sound is best described as disco-infused Electro-House.

"Stay in Love," a brand new single with vocals by Sam Sparro has been on on my iPod since February but has just recently sunk in.  It's quite the slick, catchy track, love Sam's voice and the production.  It's really a winner.

Bloxum and Sparro actually grew up together, going to the same primary school in Sydney, and Felix's father and Sam's Grandfather also played in local jazz bands together.  They've reconnected since both started making music and Bloxum apparently played drums on every track on Sparro's last album, Return to Paradise.  

No word if an album is on the way, though his singles and the very good EP for "Things I Didn't Know" are all on Spotify.


Stay in Love

Friday, April 04, 2014

Sambinha Bossa Nova - Sergio Mendes

Samba Week!

Song: Sambinha Bossa Nova
Artist: Sergio Mendes
Album: The Swinger from Rio

Would Samba Week be complete without a little Sergio Mendes?

Mendes is a Brazilian musician born in '41 with over fifty-five releases under his name.  He's most recently worked with The Blackeyed Peas updating his sound to a modern audience, but his early material at the dawn of the early 60s Bossa Nova craze is very notable.

Mendes went to school to be a classical pianist but got interested in jazz and played with Antonio Carlos Jobin, a key musician and songwriter in the history of Samba/Bossa Nova who became a mentor.  He played piano on Cannonball Adderley's 1962 Samba album Cannonball's Bossa Nova (a discovery this week, check it out) moved to the U.S. and released a couple albums with all Brazilian musicians for Atlantic Records.  He replaced singer Wanda de Se with Chicago singer Lani Hall and switched to Herb Albert's A&M.  The result was a new band called Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66 which recorded three albums in three years starting with Herb Albert Presents: Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66 which spawned the Jorge Ben-penned hit "Mas Que Nada."

This series of albums went a bit more 60s groovy and pop, covering tracks like "Going Out of My Head," the Beatles "Day Tripper," "Night and Day" by Cole Porter, and "The Look of Love" by Burt Bacharach to name a few.  Brazil 66's lineup changed, but Mendes continued to record through the years.

The Herb Albert Presents album is an important one, and marks the point where Samba's popularity flourished and became a part of culture.  But for where I am in my Samba phase, I'm connecting to the more instrumental early albums including the groovy Dance Moderno from (1960) and 64's The Swinger from Rio, his first album with Atlantic.  They're more in line with the Samba I was initially drawn to.

All of these albums can be found in the WeCastPlaylist Do You Samba? on Spotify.  I've discovered some more killer albums just this week as I researched these artists more and know this playlist will continue to grow as I get into more.  And to ease you back into typical WeCast fair, check out this Mendes remix album.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Agua De Beber - Astrud Gilberto

Samba Week!

Song: Agua De Beber
Artist: Astrud Gilberto
Album: The Astrud Gilberto Album

After the success of Stan Getz Jazz Samba album in 1962, he teamed up with João Gilberto for the album Getz/Gilberto the following year.  João's wife Astrud, despite having never sung outside of their home prior, was used as vocalist on two tracks, "Corcovado" and the opener, "The Girl from Ipanema," which became an international hit, selling over a million copies and single handedly launched her career as a singer.  She collaborated again with Getz in '64 for the more American-leaning Getz Au Go Go, and in 1965 she released her first album, The Astrud Gilberto Album, which highlighted her sweet/fragile voice and returned to the slow, Bossa Nova sound that made "Ipanema" a smash.

The Astrud Gilberto Album is a sweet, vocal Bossa Nova album that sounds like it was tailor made for an audience hungry for an album full of "The Girl from Ipanema"'s.

Astrud divorced João in the mid-sixties and then struck up a romantic relationship with Getz while on tour.  [Scandal!]  She continued to perform throughout the next several decades and notably recorded the Samba classic "Desafinado" with George Michael for the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Rio.  A track I didn't even know existed until friend and reader Geoff tipped me after posting the Getz/Byrd version at the beginning of the week.

An unlikely Bossa Nova/Samba superstar that at the age of 61, co-wrote and recorded the album Jungle in 2001.  She is 74.


Agua De Beber

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Loie - Ike Quebec

Samba Week!

Song: Loie
Artist: Ike Quebec
Album: Soul Samba

Ike Quebec is an American-born jazz tenor saxophonist.  Born in Newark, NJ, he was an accomplished pianist and dancer who switched to the saxophone in his early twenties and quickly gained recognition as an accomplished player.

He recorded and played with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Frankie Newton, and Hot Lips Page to name a few.  Hampered by drug addiction and the decline in popularity of swing music, Quebec didn't record much in the 50s, but did play regularly.  In 1959 he started a comeback with several releases on Blue Note.  Soul Samba, from 1962 would be his last recording.  Released in October of '62, he would be dead from lung cancer in January of '63.

Soul Samba was released at the height of the Samba/Bossa Nova craze and is notable in that none of the musicians on the album were known for Brazilian jazz prior, and not one of the tracks was written by Tom Jobin.  (Who wrote "Desafinado.")

This is the first Samba album I got and the one that started the kick for me.  It's a warm, sexy blend, of guitar, sax, and Bossa Nova groove that I really fell for.  Really just gorgeous.

Soul Samba was the third album Quebec released in 1962, the other two are also highly recommended, but are not Samba.  Blue and Sentimental is probably his best known and regarded, but Easy Living is pretty amazing as well.  What a year!

This might be my favorite of the Samba records I've heard... but you never forget your first right?


Blue Samba
Goin' Home

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Águas de Março - João Gilberto

Samba Week!

Song: Águas de Março
Artist: João Gilberto
Album: João Gilberto (Águas de Março)

João Gilberto is a Brazilian singer and guitarist whom is one of the first names in Samba & Bossa Nova, releasing his debut album Chega De Saudade in 1959.  He recorded the title track in '58 after creating the minimal, guitar-based offshoot of Bossa Nova, and it became a hit, starting the craze for the Samba sub-genre.

Gilberto later teamed up with Getz for the '64 album Getz/Gilberto, which became one of the best selling jazz albums of all time, helped by the runaway success of the track "The Girl from Ipanema," sung by Gilberto's wife Astrid, that became a worldwide pop music standard.

I really gravitated to the much later self-titled 1973 album sometimes referred to as "The White Album" as a play off The Beatles.  João Gilberto, also known from the first track "Águas de Março," is a beautiful, stripped-down affair containing Gilberto, his guitar, and minimal drumming/percussion from Sonny Carr.  It's quiet, serene, and simply a beautiful listen.

Gilberto has a lot of material, I've only just started to get to know some of it but recommend the debut, Chega De Saudade, this self-titled album, and his work with Getz.  All have been added to the Samba playlist!


Águas de Março