Jake Shears Hub




MUSIC NEWS: Frankmusik, Nirvana, Erasure, Arthur Russell, Portishead, Kele, Sneaky Sound System, Death Cab For Cutie

Frankmusik

BY NORMAN BRANNON

Guestblogger Norman Brannon is a pop critic, musician, and author based in New York City. He presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad and writes regularly at Nervous Acid.  

Follow Norman on Twitter at @nervousacid.

EXTENDED PLAY:

Frankmusik-do-it-in-the-am Frankmusik Do It In The AM (Cherrytree/Interscope)

Frankmusik launched his second album firmly on the defense. "It's got bit of an American twang to it because, f*ck it, I'm in America," he said in an interview this past April. "So when people are gonna say it isn't me, 'Frankmusik sold out,' I'll just say, 'No, Frankmusik got more concise,' and they can suck a d*ck." Well, OK then!

Historically, of course, great records have rarely been initiated with the self-awareness that there may be something disingenuous about them, and in the case of Do It In The AM, that self-conscious decision-making is nearly audible on songs like "No I.D." — the spiritual cousin to Rebecca Black's "Friday" and Murray Head's "One Night In Bangkok," if you can imagine that — and the commercial-radio-by-the-numbers title track which, as Frankmusik attests, sounds painstakingly American. Like he was trying. Fortunately, once you get past these ill-fated attempts at having the next Pitbull-assisted radio hit (sans Pitbull, thankfully), there is an album: Opener "We Collide" flirts with the kind of pleasurable, but edgy electropop that Stuart Price pioneered with recent albums for Take That and The Killers, while "Wrecking Ball" sounds like it could have emerged from Frankmusik's successful album sessions with Ellie Goulding. In fact, by the time you get to Track 10 — the simply brilliant "Struck by Lightning" — it becomes increasingly hard to believe that the lows on Do It In The AM are so damn low. Because the highs are simply transcendent.

The point Frankmusik seems to have missed in his preemptive strike is that this has less to do with "selling out" as it does with knowing what makes you unique and developing that to its greatest potential. When he speaks in his own voice, Do It In The AM is delightful. But the detours are disastrous.

Also out today: Nirvana — Nevermind: 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Geffen), Wilco — The Whole Love (Anti-), Blink-182 — Neighborhoods (DGC), Plaid — Scintilli (Warp), Twin Sister — In Heaven (Domino), Spank Rock — Everything is Boring and Everyone is a F*cking Liar (Bad Blood), Apparat — Devil's Walk (Mute)

THE DISPATCH:

Nirvana with rupaul Road For the 20th Anniversary of the release of Nirvana's Nevermind, I put together a list of ten albums also released in 1991 that less noticeably changed the world. They sold about 29 million copies less than Nevermind — at least — but all of them altered the course of music in the last twenty years.

Road Frankmusik's new album may be touch and go, but I've got high hopes for his work with Erasure: A complete stream of Tomorrow's World and track-by-track commentary by the band is online now.

Road Experimental pop and disco pioneer — and queer icon — Arthur Russell changed the face of the dancefloor with "Let's Go Swimming." This week, Audika Records reissues the single with a dub mix from disco legend Walter Gibbons and a previously unreleased version of "Make 1, 2 (Gem Spa Dub)" that clocks in at eleven minutes long.

Road Influential trip-hop trio Portishead are threatening to go back into the studio for the first time since 2008's Third. "I'm going to start in January," says Geoff Barrow. "Historically that could mean f*cking ten years."

Jake-Shears Road Scissor Sisters mainman Jake Shears isn't penning your average collaborator dream-list: At the top of the heap is Queens of the Stone Age singer Josh Homme. "I really, really want to sing on the next QOTSA album," says Shears. "I think that he's a genius, a genuine rock hero living among us."

Road New music you'll want to stream: Beni's forthcoming House of Beni promises to do for runway house what Frankie Knuckles did for whistles. "Someone Just Like You" is the latest track to surface and features The Rapture's Mattie Safer on vocals. Also, MGMT have curated the latest edition of the Late Night Tales series, out next week, and the band covers Bauhaus' "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything" for the occasion. Neo-psychadelic goth, then? It actually works.

Bjork-2011_610 Road Björk talks with New Scientist about the technological and scientific inspirations and intersections on her forthcoming album, Biophilia: "If you write a song with acoustic guitar, is there [automatically] soul in it? I've heard tons of guitar songs with no soul at all. If music created with electronics or a computer has no soul, it's because nobody put it there."

Road R.E.M. announced their break-up after thirty-plus years as a band, but they won't go out quietly: Their final release is called Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982–2011, and it will be a two-disc, 40-song retrospective of the band's inimitable career — also featuring three new tracks.

SOUND & VISION:

Kele — "What Did I Do?" (featuring Lucy Taylor)

Bloc Party's out frontman is kind of worried that he's been kicked out of his band, but not enough to halt the release of his upcoming The Hunter EP on October 31. "What Did I Do?" is the lead single, and introduces a bunch of firsts: Guest singer Lucy Taylor, a new dubstep-tinged direction, and a newly muscled and shirtless physique he wasn't exactly touting on the Silent Alarm tour.

Washington — "Holy Moses"

I know very little about Washington outside of this video, and sometimes, that's the best way to evaluate something: The costuming might recall Lady Gaga and Tori Amos, but the song itself is one of those effortlessly ebullient tracks that are basically impossible to contrive. Washington's vocal, meanwhile, is strong, seductive, and best of all, perceptibly sincere.

Sneaky Sound System — "Big"

I'm starting to really look forward to the third album from Sydney–based Sneaky Sound System. Due out on October 7, From Here To Anywhere has already spawned a pretty fantastic lead single in "We Love," but single number-two connects the band with a more emotional tenor: "Big" comes from the Robyn school of slightly-melancholy-but-ultimately-uplifting arpeggiated pop. This is much harder to pull off than you'd think.

Death Cab For Cutie — "Stay Young, Go Dancing"

The latest by Death Cab is something like The Notebook of indie rock videos: You're kind of expecting Ryan Gosling to jump out and win someone's heart. But it's actually more sweet — and realistic — than that. "Stay Young, Go Dancing" is an anthem of aging in love.


 


'Tales of the City' Musical to Open

Tales The NYT today posted a big story on the new musical based on Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City and its collaborating creative team of director Jason Moore, librettist Jeff Whitty, and composers John Garden and Jake Shears:

The result of that five-year collaboration will make its debut in — where else? — San Francisco this month as a $2.5 million production that includes a company of 21 actors, nearly four dozen characters, at least two pairs of knee-high patent-leather go-go boots and more than 200 other costumes. (And God knows how much polyester.)

It’s the most expensive show ever produced by the American Conservatory Theater, whose schedule usually mixes classical revivals with more experimental pieces. Single-handedly producing new musicals isn’t typically part of its programming, but Carey Perloff, the theater’s artistic director, said that “Tales of the City” fit both the company’s mission of doing work about the Bay Area as well as providing a low-pressure environment for creators.

“It’s a nontraditional kind of piece — lots of characters, lots of story lines, lots of sex and drugs — and I think we fit what they were looking for,” said Ms. Perloff. “This isn’t a particularly ‘Broadway’ audience. This audience is very game for unusual musicals.”

Previews start May 18, and the show opens on May 31.


Watch: Jake Shears, Jason Moore, Jeffy Whitty, and John Garden Discuss 'Tales of the City' Musical

Totc2 Totc

Director Jason Moore, librettist Jeff Whitty, and composers Jake Shears and John Garden, the creative team behind the forthcoming Tales of the City Musical, talk about how they were introduced to the book.

The show has its world premiere on May 18 at San Francisco's ACT Theatre.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Watch: Jake Shears, Jason Moore, Jeffy Whitty, and John Garden Discuss 'Tales of the City' Musical" »


Listen: Jake Shears Sings His 1000th Tweet

Shears

Frontman Jake Shears celebrated his 1000th tweet Scissor Sisters-style.

Listen, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Listen: Jake Shears Sings His 1000th Tweet" »


Watch: Scissor Sisters Jake Shears and Babydaddy Talk About Their Robert Mapplethorpe Exhibit

Scissorsisters

Scissor Sisters lead singer Jake Shears and musician and lyricist Babydaddy curated a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit at the Alison Jacques Gallery in London. It's called "Nightwork" after their album, for which they used a Mapplethorpe photo as the cover.

Said Shears to CNN: "I really wanted to acknowledge those people and those creatives that had been through this world before us and had really paved the way for a band like us to exist -- because we were never the first people to do what we do, you know, there were plenty before."

Watch their interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

The show is open thru March 19.

Nightwork

Continue reading "Watch: Scissor Sisters Jake Shears and Babydaddy Talk About Their Robert Mapplethorpe Exhibit" »


MUSIC NEWS: Winter/Spring 2011 Preview, Part 1 — Adele, Eliza Doolittle, Kimberly Caldwell, White Lies, Cut/Copy, Natalia Kills, Jessie J, Tina Dico; plus five free downloads

AdeleHEADER
 
GuestbloggerMODERN TONIC

Modern Tonic — a blog that highlights gay-approved pop culture gems — delivers a weekly music column on Towleroad. (The site is currently being re-designed and will re-launch later this spring.)

RoadSPECIAL EDITION: 2011 WINTER/SPRING MUSIC PREVIEW

There's so much good new music coming down the pike we're splitting our 2011 Preview into two columns. Next week — a column just for LGBT next-big-things. First up: some sassy sisters, electric grooves for everything from dancing to moping and some quiet tunes for moments of reflection.

Towleroad - January 11, 2011 by moderntonic.com

RoadSISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES:

Adele21Adele — 21 (February 22): This superstar was chasing pavements on her debut 19, but at 21 — both her age and the title of her sophomore, Rick Rubin-produced release — she’s "Rolling In the Deep," a title that could reference both her soul and her limitless talent. 
 
AnnaC Anna Calvi — Anna Calvi (March 1): This English thrush counts Nina Simone, Ravel and Debussy among her influences, but throw in the vocal prowess of Florence Welch and the intensity of PJ Harvey and now we're talking.
 
ElizaEliza Doolittle — Eliza Doolittle (Spring TBA): Eliza Sophie Caird is veddy British — what’s more English than naming yourself after My Fair Lady’s archetypal lead? But she travels well. Check out her Lily Allen-esque singles "Skinny Genes" and "Pack Up" from her U.S. debut, both big U.K. hits in 2010.

KimcaldwellKimberly Caldwell — Without Regret (April 19): This seventh place rocker from American Idol's second season channels Melissa Etheridge, Pink and — imagine! — Kelly Clarkson on her debut. As she puts it on last year's single, she’ll make a "Mess of You." (Stream the Digital Dog club remix of "Desperate Girls & Stupid Boys" in player.)

Also: Corinne Bailey Rae — The Love E.P., Olivia Newton-John and Friends — A Celebration in Song (January 25); Claudia Brücken — Combined – The Best Of (import, February 7); PJ Harvey — Let England Shake (February 15); Florence + The Machine — Between Two Lungs, Lauren Pritchard — Wasted in Jackson (CD: February 22); Lykke Li — Wounded Rhymes, Linda Eder — Now (March 1); Avril Lavigne — Goodbye Lullaby (March 8); Oh Land — Oh Land (March 15; stream the Jonathan Peters mix of "Sun of a Gun" in player); Lenka — Two (April 19); Lady Gaga — Born This Way (May 23). 


RoadELECTRIC AVENUE:

WhiteliesWhite Lies — Ritual (January 18): Gloomy U.K. modern gods of Goth up the ante with romantic anthems and stadium size choruses on their sophomore release Ritual. (Stream a remix of “Bigger Than Us” in player.)

Cut/Copy — Zonoscope (February 8): Australia synth-pop quartet follow-up the eerie dance pop of In Ghost Colours with the full-on radio hooks of Zonoscope, featuring the single "Take Me Over" (free download of a remix in player).
 
Natalkia Natalia Kills — Perfectionist (March TBA): This U.K. singer/actress darkens up the electro-pulse of M.I.A., La Roux and Lady Gaga and wraps them all in slamming beats for her forthcoming debut. (Free download of Frankmusik's remix of single "Mirrors" in player.)
 
JessiejJessie J — Who You Are (Spring TBA): The buzz is deafening for this English performer, already the recipient of the Critics Choice award at the BRIT Awards 2011. Is she all that? Single "Do It Like a Dude" out-snarks Ke$ha, and "Price Tag" is a slice of Adele-like soul. So, yeah, she just might be.

Dom — Sun Bronzed Greek God (February 15) Like the title of their E.P., this Worcester, MA quartet's fuzzed-out surf riffs sound like they've been sun-baked for days. And with their singer’s androgynous voice, they also recall Silversun Pickups riding the wave of '90s alt-poppers The Primitives.

Also: The Decemberists — The King Is Dead, The Script — Science and Faith (January 18); Ben + Vesper — Honors, Cold War Kids — Mine Is Yours, David Guetta — One More Love, Radio Dept. — Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010 (January 25); Green Day — Awesome As Fuck (March 15); The Human League — Credo (import, March 21); Yelle — Safari Disco Club (March 29); Dirty Vegas — Electric Love (get the single free on Amazon today; April 26)


RoadHAVE YOU NEVER BEEN MELLOW?
 
AuditoriumAuditorium — Be Brave (January 18): Auditorium is one Spencer Berger, who grew up on the stage of the Met and now sings acoustic tunes that frame his quivering, unearthly voice. Be Brave may be stripped back and simple, but it’s got variety to spare from the glammy "Girls Will Love Your Lips" (free download in player) to the folksy dirge of "New York Sky."

TinadicoTina Dico — Welcome Back Colour (February 1): The seventh release from the Danish singer-songwriter's a double CD of five new tracks, her overseas radio hits and acoustic versions of well-loved cuts. Since many here don’t know her yet, this would be the place to start. (Free download of single "Love All Around" in player.)
 
BirdsongBirdsong At Morning — Annals of My Glass House (February 1): These Massachusetts  professionals — a professor, a business VP and a new media consultant — make gorgeous acoustic music. This collection of four E.P.s from 2009 and 2010 feature lovelorn originals ("Those Beautiful Words") and inspired covers (Blondie's "Dreaming" is a highlight).

Also: James Blunt — Some Kind of Trouble (January 18); Iron & Wine — Kiss Each Other Clean (January 25); Noah and the Whale — Last Night On Earth; Heidecker & Wood — Starting From Nowhere (March 15).


RoadMUSIC NEWS:
Large_3_jake_large
RoadRufus Wainwright and Jake Shears are the subjects of photographer Tim Hailand's two new A Day in the Life... books, due out next month. Hailand spent a day photographing each of them, from morning until night, including live performances. Jake's book has an intro by Elton John and an afterword by Kylie Minogue, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit The Elton John AIDS Foundation; Rufus's book has an afterword by Cherry Vanilla, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit The Kate McGarrigle Fund. Shears and Wainwright each wrote the text that accompanies the photos in their books.

RoadOrchestral Manouevres in the Dark announced North American tour dates to support their History of Modern comeback album, starting March 5 in Toronto.

RoadPenguin Prison (see video at bottom) will be accompanying sample-meister Girl Talk on tour this Spring. Tour schedule here.

RoadGossip's Beth Ditto has released a 4-track digital EP (also on limited edition vinyl) produced by Simian Mobile Disco, with whom she collaborated on 2009's fantastic "Cruel Intentions."

RoadJanet Jackson's new greatest hits tour, Number Ones, Up Close and Personal, begins March 7 in Chicago. She also publishes a diet and exercise book called True You on February 8.

Road Frankmusik-e1293993698572-520x2681 Frankmusik is giving away a new 4-track digital EP, featuring "Our Discovery," a tribute to Daft Punk.

RoadKylie tours America this spring.


RoadMUSIC VIDEOS:

Hercules & Love Affair — "My House"
DJ Andy Butler’s NY house music project follows up Hercules' sparkling debut with this teaser single from their forthcoming Blue Songs release. And, honey, this dance jam's so hot it could melt the snow right off your L.E.S. tenement steps.

Penguin Prison — "Golden Train"
The video's your standard performance clip with manipulated footage (slo-mo, pixilation, etc.), but Chris Glover aka Penguin Prison, with the help of Holy Ghost's Alex Frankel, is one funky white boy.

Discodeine feat. Jarvis Cocker — "Synchronize"
Pulp’s unkempt frontman lends steely vocals to a bouncy dance track from Discodeine’s French DJ-producers Pilooski and Pentile. Note for the squeamish — the close-up of one lover giving another a homemade tattoo is, well, graphic.

Wolf Gang — "Lions in Cages"
A gloomy, autumnal clip accompanies the dark, roiling dance-pop of England’s Max McElligott aka Wolf Gang. Debut Suego Faults is due mid-2011.



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