"You will see a lot more of me than you do on the newscast. I don't think you can plan these things. I think it's most compelling and most interesting when things happen organically and authentically. One of the interesting things in this program, I think, will be the surprise of seeing different sides of myself, me learning about the viewers and the viewers learning about me more.
Where that goes, I don't really know, but we'll see.
"In everything I've done, I've always tried to just be authentic and real. If I know something, I'll say I know it. And if I don't know it, I'll say I don't know it and try to learn about it. I want to bring that to daytime. I want to grow with the viewers and just see where it goes from there."
In a statement, he added that alcohol was present, but that it could not be determined what part, if any, it played in her death.
"Toxicology results returned to the Winehouse family by authorities have confirmed that there were no illegal substances in Amy's system at the time of her death," the statement read. "Results indicate that alcohol was present but it cannot be determined as yet if it played a role in her death."
It added that Winehouse's family were awaiting the outcome of an October inquest into the "Rehab" singer's death.
Winehouse had recently recorded a duet with Tony Bennett titled "Body and Soul" for Bennett's upcoming album. A snippet of the song has just been released.
Aside from Watch the Throne, the anticipated collaborative effort from Kanye West and Jay-Z, the summer release drought continues this week. But that doesn't mean there isn't new music to be heard: This time around, I've assembled a handful of free and legal downloads to give away — including a track that's somewhat personal to say the least.
WHY: Los Angeles singer-songwriter Pat Grossi literally began his career as a choirboy, so it's no wonder that last year's Curtis Lane EP introduced a voice that was as angelic as it was ghostly. For his forthcoming debut album, You Are All I See, Grossi reins in his new wave tendencies and breaks new ground with an almost textural R&B — as if Jonsí from Sígur Ros decided to sing the D'Angelo back catalog. This is, trust me, an incredible thing.
WHEN: You Are All I See is released August 23 via Vagrant.
WHY: Longevity is a rare beast in the music industry, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out how it's done: Liverpool electropop vets Ladytron are entering their second decade as a band because they've always been intent on expanding and redefining the boundaries of what it is that they do. With "White Elephant," the band goes back to basics, composing a classic pop standard through a modern pop lexicon. If that's tension that you hear, they're doing it right.
WHEN: Gravity the Seducer is released September 13 via Nettwerk.
WHY: I don't generally merge my two career paths in any way, but it's free download week and I'm in the giving spirit. While the majority of you might only know me for my work here, I'm actually far better known as a musician, having played in a number of bands and worked as a songwriter for others over the last twenty years. Last month, I was commissioned to do a remix for one of the best working artists right now — London singer-songwriter James Yuill — and the resulting track turned out to be one of my favorite things I've ever worked on. If it gives you a more multidimensional image of who I am, then I suppose that's a good thing, right? Enjoy!
WHEN: James Yuill's excellent Movement in a Storm, featuring the original version of "Crying for Hollywood," is out now.
Yesterday, an English high court heard testimony from Swedish club producer Avicci alleging that Simon Cowell and Leona Lewis are responsible for plagiarizing his forthcoming single, "Fade Into Darkness," on Lewis's current single "Collide." Avicci is hoping to prevent the commercial release of "Collide," which is currently scheduled for September 4 in the UK, and the producer has a case: Cowell's label approached Avicii's management to use the song for Lewis, but they declined, having already secured a fall release with Ministry Of Sound. Sad to say, I'm not sure "Collide" is a song worth fighting for.
Influential UK tech-house label Soma celebrates their 20th anniversary this year with a 3-CD retrospective of the label's history. No small footnote to that history, the collection opens with "Drive" — a previously unreleased Daft Punk demo from 1994. The track was originally meant to be included on Daft Punk's first 12-inch EP for the label, but was left off in favor of future classic "Da Funk."
Poly Styrene may have passed away before its release, but her final album, Generation Indigo, still breathes life: "Ghoulish" is being released as a new single this week, and the song is backed with a haunting remix by Hercules & Love Affair that volleys between hypnotic Italo-disco and classic Detroit techno.
It was announced this week that Amy Winehouse's North London home will become headquarters for the Amy Winehouse Foundation — an organization established to help young people with substance abuse problems. Meanwhile, Tony Bennett promised to donate 100-percent of the royalties from "Body & Soul" — his recent duet with Winehouse — to the foundation.
Former Mojo Magazine editor and David Bowie biographer Paul Trynka talks about his latest book, David Bowie: Starman, and gives his best educated guess for the singer's future based on all he's learned: "My heart says he'll come back, but my head says he's not likely to."
World music-slash-indie hybrid Beirut return from their recent cross-pollinations with Blondie for a new record called The Rip Tide, due out on August 30. The entire album is streaming at Soundcloud now. Also worth checking out: German techno favorites Modeselektor are offering teaser streams from their forthcoming album Monkeytown, including the much anticipated "Shipwreck" and "This" — both of which feature Radiohead's Thom Yorke on vocals.
Notable indie director and queer film icon Gregg Araki recently spoke with the Guardian at length about his love for the British shoegaze movement and its recent revival: "The sad thing is, today a band like Slowdive wouldn't be able to have a career. They hardly dealt in huge figures, but they sold enough to get a career out of it," he says. "There's no money for such things at the present, no incentive for record companies to repackage their music."
This week's Rdio playlist was inspired by the recent announcement of nominations for this year's MTV Video Music Awards. I decided to dig into the archives in order to figure out who some of the best losing nominees were, and I was actually quite surprised by what I found. (For example, Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" lost its Video of the Year nod to Van Halen's "Right Now." True story!) But as I continued to dig, I was more surprised to see artists like Jeff Buckley or Roni Size/Reprazent in the nominee pool at all; there seemed to be as much of a story in the artists that got shut out of the VMAs as there was in the winner's circle. So this playlist celebrates the videos that should have won (the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' clip for "Maps" was insanely moving), the videos whose nominations were surprising (Belly's Star is one of the better lost albums from the '90s), and the videos whose artists became next-big-things that didn't quite make it (although Amerie's "1 Thing" still stands as an essentially flawless R&B track). Losers of 2011, take note! You're in excellent company.
SOUND & VISION:
Best Coast — "Our Deal"
It sounds more like a movie than a music video, but the latest single from Best Coast is totally getting the cinematic treatment: Directed by Drew Barrymore, this Warriors–like romantic tragedy stars Community's Donald Glover, Kick-Ass star Chloë Moretz, and, umm, iCarly's Miranda Cosgrove, among others.
Hunx & His Punx — "Lover's Lane"
Having already transcended the queer-punk label with their across-the-board well-received Too Young to Be in Love album, Hunx & His Punx rewrite your prom night with this campy but crucial video for "Lover's Lane" — as if the girl-group era had been merely a foil for gay love this whole time.
Wild Beasts — "Bed Of Nails"
If Smother wasn't one of the best records released so far in 2011, it was certainly one of the most unique. Wild Beasts singer Hayden Thorpe has the kind of highly literate, androgynous voice that endeared us to artists like Marc Almond and Antony Hegarty; on "Bed of Nails," he utilizes that falsetto to raise the anthemic potential on the best hypnotic Krautrock rhythm since "Running Up That Hill."
Toro Y Moi — "How I Know"
As far as indie pop goes, the latest from chillwave's most prominent defector Toro Y Moi is way more sunny than scary. But that doesn't stop the single from getting a satirical, and often hilarious horror treatment: It's a place where ghosts aren't afraid to bust out vintage American Bandstand choreography and bubblegum can literally kill you.
WHO: A legendary pop music and style icon, if there were no Grace Jones, there would be no … well, almost everyone.
WHY: Hurricane has already seen its release overseas, hitting the Top 40 Albums Chart in ten different countries, but its official American release isn't due until next month. Collaborations with everyone from Wendy & Lisa to Tricky and Sly & Robbie guitarist Barry Reynolds flesh out the album, but make no mistake: This is a modern Grace Jones affair.
WHEN: September 6
The Rapture — In The Grace of Your Love (DFA)
WHO: New York City provocateurs who spearheaded this decade's indie-dance movement.
WHY: After a dalliance with the major label world and ongoing collaborations with traditional techno scene stars, Brooklyn's Rapture return to James Murphy's DFA label for their fourth full-length album. Lead single "How Deep Is Your Love?" inverts a piano-house hook into a nu-disco argument against modern quantized rhythms — loose and funky, like what you'd imagine ESG would sound like in 2011.
WHEN: September 6
Das Racist — Relax (Greedhead Music)
WHO: Political satirists, authentic rappers, and neo-Dadaist muckrakers drop their official debut.
WHY: If you wanna get all academic about it, Das Racist are becoming increasingly effective cultural critics with an Absurdist slant. A quick definition of the movement — of "an avant-garde style in which structure, plot, and characterization are disregarded or garbled in order to stress the lack of logic in nature and man's isolation in a universe which has no meaning" — kind of underlines the fact, and on their debut actually-for-sale album, the crew seem at it again: Rest assured, "Rainbow in the Dark" has nothing to do with Ronnie James Dio.
WHEN: September 13
Ladytron — Gravity The Seducer (Nettwerk)
WHO: Longstanding electro-pop favorites from Liverpool, Ladytron anticipated the '80s revival before the '90s were over.
WHY: Having already released three songs from the album, there is a suggestion here that Ladytron are taking a more ethereal approach: "Ambulances" weaves in and out of consciousness not unlike Elizabeth Fraser's Cocteau Twins, while lead single "White Elephant" offers a synthesized take on a classic Motown rhythm. It's a whole lot of ageless beauty.
WHEN: September 13
Björk — Biophilia (One Little Indian/WEA)
WHO: A fearless sonic innovator, Björk's influence and dialogue with the entirety of the electronic music world is inestimable.
WHY: If "Crystalline" is any indication, Biophilia may very well hark back to Björk's more abstract techno output — the tension of its glitch giving way to a lawless breakbeat that, somehow, never loses the melody. The simultaneous control and lack of restraint is just masterful.
WHEN: September 27
Feist — Metals (Cherrytree/Interscope)
WHO: A Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who is both a member of Broken Social Scene and a one-time collaborator with Elmo on Sesame Street.
WHY: The long-awaited follow-up to The Reminder, Feist's fourth proper solo album doesn't seem to be making any drastic left turns, as the singer calls on trusted producers Mocky and Chilly Gonzales to help oversee the project. The addition of Valgeir Sigurðsson to the fold, however, may suggest a more orchestrated approach: Sigurðsson's CV includes work with alt-classical composer Nico Muhly, avant-folk duo Coco Rosie, and fellow Icelander Björk.
WHEN: October 4
M83 — Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (Mute)
WHO: Your favorite French ambient-electro mainstay and nu-gaze architect gets ambitious.
WHY: If you haven't heard the lead single from this forthcoming double-album by M83, then hurry up. "Midnight City" is exactly what Anthony Gonzalez promised from this formidable work, describing it as "pop — and very epic." If he can maintain this kind of enterprising spirit over two discs, we may be talking about an instant classic here.
In one of the more remarkable moments to occur in the wake of Amy Winehouse's death, legendary singer Ronnie Spector released her as-yet-unheard, and utterly amazing rendition of "Back to Black." "I'm devastated," Spector said. "Every time I looked at her, it was like I was looking at myself. She had my beehive, my eyeliner, my attitude. She had such a great soul in her voice and her lyrics were so amazing that I couldn't help but sing one of her songs." Also worth noting: I composed an essay about the cultural and critical response to Winehouse's passing for MySpace Music. The takeaway? This isn't about us.
Beyoncé's younger sister Solange has been making the indie rounds a lot lately — collaborating with members of Grizzly Bear and Of Montreal, among others. Now, she can add DFA recording artist to her budding résumé: Solange lent her vocals to the latest 12" single by Rewards, which you can stream in its entirety now.
As long as we're talking DFA, it's worth mentioning that a pretty fantastic shot-for-shot Lego recreation of LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends" video also came out this week. It's kind of brilliant.
Reissue, repackage, repackage — or so goes the famous song. When Morrissey isn't too busy offending our sensibilities for compassion, he's signing off on insanely embellished box sets like the one Rhino plans to release on October 3: The Smiths Complete: Deluxe Collectors Box Set features remastered versions of the band's entire album discography on both CD and vinyl, as well as 25 7-inch singles, posters, and freshly written liner notes.
Out singer-songwriter and Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi has been tapped to compose the soundtrack for Cameron Crowe's latest film, We Bought A Zoo. The movie stars Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, and it's technically the second time Crowe has turned to Jónsi for scoring: Vanilla Sky featured "Svefn-G-Englar" from Sigur Rós's second album, Ágaetis Byrjun.
If the recent shoegaze revival hadn't already been confirmed, Death Cab For Cutie want to see that it is: The band stopped by the BBC Radio studios last week to perform a cover of the classic Ride song "Twisterella."
This week's Rdio playlist was inspired by the New York heatwave — and more specifically, by my desire to sequester myself in front of an air conditioner and just chill out for a while.
"Chilled" is an anti-heatwave compilation featuring an emphasis on downtempo and acoustic tracks, which as I realized while I was putting this together, tends to seriously veer towards melancholy. But the sad song is a staple of almost every genre — even Shannon's "Let The Music Play" is downright depressing if you think about it — and, on some level, I've always gravitated towards raw nerves: The insanely desperate crescendo of Ida's "Little Things" still gets to me fifteen years later, the resignation of a Christian artist renouncing his Christianity — as on David Bazan's "Hard To Be" — doesn't get any more real, and Owen's "Bad News" is not the kind of song you'll put on to cheer your friend up. Still, there's consolation in the inconsolable: This is one for your more introspective moments or your next Sunday morning comedown.
SOUND & VISION:
Beni — "It's A Bubble" (feat. Sean Delear & Turbotito)
It's almost a bit too feigned to be real, but Sydney producer Beni genuinely wants to usher the underground ball scene into the mainstream with an album called House of Beni, Paris is Burning–derived songs like "O.P.U.L.E.N.C.E.," and the video for "It's A Bubble" — which takes place at a Parisian ball. If vintage bitch-tracks and runway shade turn you on, there's a lot to work with here.
Ellie Goulding — "Starry Eyed" (U.S. Version)
Much-loved London singer Ellie Goulding continues her campaign for American domination with a new video for "Starry Eyed," and maybe I don't know much about these things, but I prefer the playful naiveté of the original version — if only because this one seems to imply that we're more susceptible to videos that feel like outtakes from Twilight. Either way, the song is pretty much perfect.
Underworld — "Diamond Jigsaw"
The standout track from Barking, "Diamond Jigsaw" is a throbbing pop song at heart — its melodic sensibility no doubt improved upon by German trance producer Paul van Dyk, who co-wrote the song. The video is a classic outsider's tale, as told by some sort of denim monster in search of his denim-monster son. I think.
Will Young — "Jealousy"
Outside of the U.S., Will Young has already achieved multiplatinum success as an out gay man and a quasi-soul pop singer — becoming the most approximate successor we've got to, say, George Michael. But on his forthcoming sixth album Echoes, Young teams up electropop producer Richard X for a sound that's already feeling like a reinvention: Lead single "Jealousy" is as emotive and grief-stricken as you can get when you're going four to the floor. It's also total pop gold.
The Dark Knight Rises cast has gathered in Pittsburgh to continue shooting the final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. Still no sign of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, though.
While I like the concept, the set-up and premise sounds terrible: Adam Sandler wants to remake 1987 comedy hit Three Men and a Baby with gay men raising the abandoned child, and hopes to cast Chris Rock, Rob Schnieder and David Spade as the dads.
Speaking of celebrity time warps: Lindsay Lohan and the Hilton sisters are friends again. Your sleepless nights are over.
Why are Republican lawmakers pushing anti-Shariah legislation? From the NY Times: "The more tangible effect of the movement, opponents say, is the spread of an alarmist message about Islam — the same kind of rhetoric that appears to have influenced Anders Behring Breivik, the suspect in the deadly dual attacks in Norway on July 22. The anti-Shariah campaign, they say, appears to be an end in itself, aimed at keeping Muslims on the margins of American life." Sounds about right.
Seventy-three people dead after the increasingly shaky Syrian government deployed soldiers to take down opposition.
Anti-gay author Michael Brown calls Southern Law Poverty Center a "hate group:" "It is the leaders of the SPLC who are either irresponsibly attacking other fine organizations, or worse still, knowingly defaming them. Who then deserves the title of 'hate group,' Focus on the Family or the Southern Poverty Law Center? Who has been guilty of demonizing others and spreading hurtful, inaccurate information? Whose actions and words have been hateful?" Yours.
Openly gay presidential candidate Fred Karger and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, also a White House hopeful, are tied in a new Zogby poll.
Wayne Koestenbaum, author of the new book Humiliation, offers his thoughts on the emotion's relationship to his gay identity: "I think, at least in my generation, being gay involved traveling a long, often illegible, and very badly marked trail of shame. Really without signpost, except for knowledge of what to avoid. So that just to arrive at anything close to a salvageable identity is to experience that hot-cold shiver of humiliation along the way. And I also think that, at least in my aesthetic sensibility, we've made an art out of finding humiliation sometimes reparative."
Openly gay actor Neil Patrick Harris' Smurfs movie tied for number one with Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig's Cowboys & Aliens.