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issue no. 3 // march/april 2012

Features

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RIHANNA’S GREATEST HITS With eleven No. 1’s, Rihanna is the new unstoppable dictator on the pop charts. We compile fifteen of her finest singles.

PUTTIN’ ON THE MIX

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In his own words, mix king Tom Moulton spins for us a wonderful mega-mix of Philly soul, disco and his views on race.

R&B: THE NEXT GENERATION Wonder what the freshman class of r&b stars look like? Look no further.

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2011: IN REVIEW THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE FUGLY Take the time machine back through 2011’s headlines and crazy episodes.

TOP 33 1/3 ALBUMS OF 2011 Our annual roundup of the year’s best LPs (or CDs or digital download albums) are worth beholding.

TOP 45 SINGLES OF 2011 Forty-five of the best 45 r.p.m. singles of 2011 all for your viewing pleasure. look like? Look no further.

HIFI MAGAZINE. Volume 1, Number 3. Copyright 2012 by HIFI Media LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without proper permission is prohibited. This publication is published four times a year, with one double-issuein the summer. Single copies: $4.99 U.S. per issue. OFFICE OF PUBLICATION: 317 Sheridan Road, Birmingham, AL 35214. Printed in the United States of America. SUBSCRIPTION INQURIES: admin@hifimagazine.net. ADVERTISING INQURIES: ads@hifimagazine.net SEND FEEDBACK OR COMMENTS: jmatt@hifimagazaine.net HIFIMAGAZINE.NET

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HIDEFINITION HIFIDELITY DUE DATE REVIEWS PICK OF THE LITTER CHART BUZZ CALENDAR FADE TO BLACK

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FURTHER INSIDE FeaTuRe PReseNTaTION: album Reviews: Coldplay (Mylo Xyloto), Florence + The Machine (Ceremonials), Kanye West & Jay-Z (Watch the Throne), Black Keys (el Camino), blink-182 (Neighborhoods), Lil Wayne (Tha Carter IV), Rihanna (Talk That Talk), YaCHT (shangri-La), Red Hot Chili Peppers (I’m With You), Jason Derülo (Future History), Bon Iver (Bon Iver), 311 (universal Pulse), J Cole (Cole World: The sideline story),Hot Chlle Rae (Whatever) + dozens more

PICK OF THe LITTeR: Load up the Pod with hot tracks from The Black Keys, Florence + the Machine and The Roots. When you’re done, check out the song selections at www.hifimagazine.net

STAFF Editor-at-LargE and PubLishEr J Matthew Cobb Contributing Editor Juaquin sims PubLiCity ManagEr Juanita Vann Contributing WritErs brent Faulkner, ryan burruss, Monick Jackson Lee, Jay bee

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WHAT’S AT HIFIMAGAZINE.NET FEaturEs

best singles of 2011 a super deluxe jukebox playlist featuring our 45 best singles of 2011 - and beyond. greatest Voice of all Whitney houston emerged in the early ‘80’s as the chosen voice of her generation. her thirtyyear career, marked with triumphs and chaotic pitfalls, abruptly ended with her unforunate passing in February. still, she leaves a massive catalog of top 40 hits and platinum albums as her goodwill inheritance. 50 years of stone rollin’ in honor of the rolling stones’ fiftieth anniversary, we look back at the legendary rock band’s legacy, the deluxe reissue of 1979’s some girls, and their definite hits.

JuKEboX

april 2012 Listen to new jams from John Mayer, the black Keys, snoop dogg & Wiz Khalifa, Pitbull, Paul McCartney, bruce springsteen, Madonna, sharon Jones & the dap-Kings, amos Lee, ry Cooder and more.


from theeditor

a

ssembling a print or digital magazine is a grueling process, especially when you’re working with a skeleton staff. in the early chapters of hiFi MagazinE, it’s been a pleasure for me to watch the pages develop; the stories come in and see the work being done. trust me when i say that this is a labor of love. it might take forever to finalize these things, but in the end it stands as a strong testament of our willingness and faith to keep good music alive. this issue that you’re looking at ended up mushrooming to become a double-issue for a plethora of reasons. but without sacrificing valuable space, i will say that once november and december arrives, you’re caught up in all the madness that comes with the holiday season. that is when i suddenly realized we needed to start compiling our “best of” lists for 2011. usually i like to wait until december bows out to start finalizing those lists, because we don’t like omitting those albums that dropped later in the year. and that certainly ended up happening: the new albums by the black Keys and Florence + the Machine definitely caught me by surprise. and so, here we are. almost a month after our deadline. Late as ever. and it’s my fault. i will take all the blame. i haven’t been doing a great job in prioritizing my time in between projects and trying to do everything at one time. What ends up happening, the quantity and quality of your work starts to loose ground. but i can say this one thing, despite the tardiness of hiFi MagazinE, issue no. 3, this remains the best issue yet. the pages in this edition are almost double the standard size of our first issue.

We are also proud to announce the fresh prospective from two new writers: r&b music devotee Monick Jackson Lee and entertainment columnist Jay bee. both contributed something new and unique to the table and are welcoming additions to this special issue. towards the last days of last august, i was able to chat with legendary mix king tom Moulton for a side project i was asked to do. around the same time, sPin MagazinE released their “dance music issue.” inside, a little blurb on Moulton’s contributions to the genre teased my creative juices and i decided to write a story on him. sometimes i feel he’s an unsung hero in the world of music, but Moulton is still hard at work, constantly working on more stuff to mix. hopefully, the story inside will help introduce Moulton’s legacy to a new generation of disco maniacs and strobe light glitter freaks. issue no. 3’s album review section – what we take great pride in at hiFi MagazinE – is also beefed up with dozens of contributions, totaling a whopping forty-seven entries. ryan burruss and brent Faulkner add their critical analyses to the table and also weigh in on some of the more recent releases. our cover story promises to point to the year’s best music in the world of albums and singles. i personally believe it’s one of the most diverse and most accurate lists out there. the only addendum i had to make before publishing this issue was the rearranged benediction, which features an obit on ‘soul train’ creator don Cornelius. his death – on the very first day of what is being observed as black history Month – shocked us all, but his enduring legacy marches on. this issue is dedicated to him in his memory. J MatthEW Cobb Editor-at-Large


HD

HI DEFINiTION saLuTe TO seXY Justin Bieber pays allegiance to LMFaO’s “sexy and I Know It” campaign at the 39th annual american Music awards, held at the Nokia Theater in Los angeles.

MaRCHING TO ZION

MaC a YaNNI

R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn joins Prof. Cornell West during an Occupy Wall street march. Minutes after, both were arrested.

During a sNL skit , Maroon 5 frontman adam Levine poses as Greek musician Yanni.

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DResseD TO KILL Nicki Minaj goes galactic on her aMa performance 1) while Lady Gaga shows off her pointy neon pink hat (2). Florence Welch, frontlady of Florence + the Machine, unveils a stunning Black swan dress at the Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year awards.

BLues BROTHeRs On the last week of his exit from Live! With Regis and Kelly, Regis Philbun joins up with legendary crooner Tony Bennett for a very special farewell duet on “The Best Is Yet To Come.”

HaRD WORK aND COLDPLaY Chris Martins takes a leap of faith on stage at this summer’s Glastonbury Festival.


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MADE IN AMERICA

SEPERATE LIVES

CHASING AMY

DRESSED 4 SUCCESS?

Highlights of the 2011 american Music awards unveiled

alt-rock band R.e.M. bids farewell - as we know it

Posthumous LP of amy Winehouse originals, demos expected

2011’s best and worst dressed gets the spotlight

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HIFIDELITY THe BLaCK HOLe: Wikipedia goes dark on January 18 to protest anti-piracy bills. Google joins in the fight.(below)

The Black Out Seen Around the World Wikipedia, Google speak out against SOPA and PIPA bills

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on stewart opened up his Daily show segment about the ruckus surrounding Twitter’s latest trending topic known best as sOPa. Like an Italian pizzeria regular, he jumps up with jolly, repeatedly saying “sopa, sopa!” using his best Italian accent. acting as if he had no previous knowledge of what this sOPa was, he retreats to his apple laptop and quickly journeys to Wikipedia.com to gather up expedient information. and just like that, stewart goes for the ultimate joke. “What do they expect us to do? Go to the library…like a common masturbator?” he asks. Wikipedia, the free Internet encyclopedia easily accessed by millions, which also operates as a non-profit organization, participated in a oneday only blackout that used the fury and smarts of the Occupy Wall street movement. The blackout affected over 162 million people who tried to access the u.s. version of the site. “Imagine a world without free knowledge” was the message Wikipedia posted on January 20, beginning at 12 midnight. For the entire day, the site was inaccessible, sending college students and regular info hunters distressed. eventually, Wikipedia got their message across, pushing 8 million u.s. readers to call up their congressional reps and leave their disappointment over two anti-piracy

bills, the stop Online Piracy act, which now sits in the House and the Protect Intellectual Property act (PIPa), which sits in the senate. Google also joined in on the protests, although the site was still functional. The popular global search engine only published their message with a blacked-out Google header and also posting a link to additional information on the cause. at least 25,000 WordPress blogs also participated, along with Reddit and popular blog Boing Boing. "In the past, the media industry has often gone after particular infringers -- people who have downloaded stuff off the Internet and sharing it. and now they're going after websites that link to these things," Rob Beschizza, Boing Boing's managing editor, said Wednesday. "The bill is supposed to let copyright holders get court orders against them, and there's all sorts of various measures for getting sites blacklisted or blocked. In an interview with CNN’s erin Burnett, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales stated “I’m a big believer that we should be dealing with issues of piracy and dealing with them in a serious way, but this bill is not the right bill.” The biggest problem with the sOPa and PIPa bills is how the ramifications of a passed senate version of the bill would affect the normality of

freely-accessible websites, and even censoring free speech. Personal YouTube videos would also be affected. If a record company spotted a music lover singing their copyrighted material, without gaining permission, they would be fall into the grapples of a potential lawsuit. If these bills are enacted by Congress, an influx of frivolous lawsuits will emerge and websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube be left motionless. The protest seems to have gotten some major traction. Three co-sponsors of the bill have dropped their support. "We can find a solution that will protect lawful content. But this bill is flawed & that's why I'm withdrawing my support. #sOPa #PIPa," Republican sen. Roy Blunt wrote on his official Twitter page. Republican senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska, original co-sponsors of PIPa and sOPa, also reversed their positions. Record and media companies along with power corporations like Viacom, Time Warner, NewsCorp are all supporting the bill. sOPa and PIPa critics all believe that the bill’s backers do not understand the complexities of the Internet’s architecture and are concerned that legislation will destroy the free world of the Internet.

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HIFIDELITY

American Pie

2011’s American Music Awards crowns Taylor Swift and Adele has champs, while TV ratings take another slump

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ast year’s american Music awards, the 39th celebration that gives out trophies to fan favorites, had his share of good performances and surprises. 2010’s show stunned viewers with bieber fever and also producing the worst recorded ratings in aMa’s entire history. Well, the ratings in 2011 were about the exact same, matching 2010′s all-time low (4.3 rating in adults 18-49). abC’s three-hour broadcast of the music kudos was actually up from the previous year in total viewers, averaging 12 million over the course of the night. it also posted its highest rating in teenagers (12-17) since 2004, up 24 percent from 2010. its lead-in show, Countdown to the aMas , performed terrible. down 25 percent from the previous week’s america’s Funniest home Videos , it brought in a 1.3 rating in adults 18.49. For the night, abC averaged 10.14 million viewers and a 3.5 in the demo. the aMa’s reallyshould have awarded the night’s big winner, nbC’s sunday night Football, which aired a match-up of the Eagles vs. giants. opening up the evening’s festivities, nicki Minaj took the stage wearing a pair of speakers on her much-talked about derriere. the three-hour ceremony, held at nokia theatre in Los angeles, also included performances from Justin bieber, singing “under the Mistletoe” material off of his new holiday album and Kelly Clarkson working a big band rendition into her latest single,“Mr. Know it all.” Christina aguilera also joined Maroon 5 once again on stage for a rocking performance of “Moves Like Jagger.” the finale featured bieber dancing around with dance-pop duo LMFao wearing yellow zebra print pants on their summer party smash, “Party rock anthem.” as silly as it sounds, baywatch star david hasselhoff stripped down to his smiley face undies along with the rap pair. stripped down performances also dominated the night, with the band Perry providing an intimate acoustic version of their top 40 hit ”if i die young,” Katy Perry singing “”the one that got away” with only a guitar in

hoW Lo Can you go?: Jennifer Lopez performs with rapper Pitbull during live performance at the 39th annual american Music awards sight. a platinum blonde Chris brown tried a laid-back “all back” in his live routine, but pumped up the volume and energy on “say it With Me.” Jennifer Lopez joined will.i.am on his latest single “t.h.E. (…hard),” while also trying to pump more steam into her “on the Floor” hit by dressing in a skimpy lustful dress using a medley of songs that included guest appearances from Pitbull and ex Marc anthony. taylor swift seemed to rack up most of the trophies at this year’s celebration, thanks to her best-selling 2010 effort speak now . the fan-favorite album has sold over 5.5 million copies to date. she tied the night with brit soul sensation adele, winning three trophies each. still, swift was able to best adele in the best artist category, also beating out heavyweights like Lady gaga, Katy Perry and Lil Wayne. adele was a no-show due to her recovery from vocal cord surgery, while also following doctor’s orders to encourage vocal rest. Maroon 5 also won their first american Music award in the category of Favorite Pop-rock band/duo/group. beyonce picked up the trophy for Favorite soul/r&b Female artist, while bruno Mars took home Favorite Pop/rock Male artist. also, one of the evening’s shockers included nicki Minaj‘s bit wins over her mentor Lil Wayne in the categories of Favorite rap/hip-hop artist and Favorite rap/hip-hop album.

big wins at american music awards so you won’t feel so bad...we’ve listed the big wins at the american Music awards...or the ones you should sorta care about. Favorite Pop album, Favorite Female Pop artist, Favorite adult Contemporary artist adele artist of the year, Country Female artist, Country albumtaylor swift Favorite Favorite alternative rock artist Foo Fighters Favorite soul/r&b album rihanna Favorite Pop-rock band/duo/group Maroon 5 Favorite rap/hip-hop artist, Favorite rap/hip-hop album nicki Minaj new artist of the year hot Chelle rae special achievement award Katy Perry Favorite soul/r&b Male artist usher Favorite Country band/duo/group Lady antebellum Favorite Contemporary inspirational artist Casting Crowns


Go Your Own Way R.E.M. unexpectedly part ways, ending 31-year career CoLLaPsEd into noW: r.E.M. announced their farewell as a group in september. the band admits to putting hints of their disbaning on their 2011 album, Collapse into now.

THIS JUST IN U.S. X-Factor Cuts Abdul, 2 More Reports from The Hollywood Reporter, e! News and Billboard are confirming that the u.s. version of X-Factor are dropping two of its panelists, Nicole scherzinger and former Idol judge Paula abdul. execs are also dropping the show’s host steve Jones. although no explanation on their departures have been revealed, the shakeup stems around simon Cowell’s need to add a bigger celebrity to the show., according to one source. No word yet on who will replace them, although rumors are quickly swirling that executives are in talks with Britney spears to join the cast.

John Mayer Back on Vocal Rest

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t’s the end of r.E.M. as we know it, after the alt-rock band - with three decades of music, fifteen studio albums and with 85 million albums sold worldwide - announced they are finally calling it quits as a band. band members Michael stipe, Peter buck and Mike Mills posted the status of their breakup on their official website and even released a brief press release to the public about the sad news: “To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.” the athens, ga. band rose to stardom in the late Eighties when they recorded “the one i Love,” which rose to no. 9 pop and no. 16 on the uK singles’ Charts. 1991′s “Losing My religion,” “shiny happy People” and 1993′s “Everybody hurts” continued their chart-topping momentum. since their career exploded with grand success, sparked by sold-out tours and their ingenious blend of activism into their enigmatic folk-rock, most of their album releases have gone gold or platinum, including their 1983 debut Murmur, 1984′s reckoning, 1991′s out of time and 2001′s reveal. in 2007, the band was inducted into the rock and roll hall of Fame. this year, the band released their last album, Collapse into now, earning a healthy dose of critical acclaim and debuting at no. 5 on the billboard 200, despite the band’s reluctance of performing the new songs in subsequent live concerts. the band acknowledges that they ended their work relationship on good terms and that the final decision was mutual. “during our last tour, and while making Collapse into now and putting together this greatest hits retrospective, we started asking ourselves, ‘what next’?,” bassist Mike Mills wrote on the r.E.M. site. Mills added: “there’s no disharmony here, no falling-outs, no lawyers squaring-off. We’ve made this decision together, amicably and with each other’s best interests at heart. the time just feels right.” “i hope our fans realize this wasn’t an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way,” says frontman Michael stipe. to help round out the band’s climatic departure, r.E.M. recorded three new songs to be included on a two-Cd greatest hits collection, r.E.M. Part Lies, Part heart, Part truth, Part garbage 1982-2011, which was released november 15th. but their future remains in the air. “now i’m a former pop star,” stipe says. “i don’t really know what i’m going to do from here.”

after having surgery last year removing a granuloma above his vocal cord, John Mayer plans to extended his recovery after a recurrence of the granuloma interrputed his plans of a spring tour to coincide with his upcoming album, Born and Raised. The album is still scheduled for release in May.

Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks Star In Sparkle Remake The 1976 film sparkle, which captalized on Curtis Mayfield’s aretha-supported soundtrack and featured Michael Thomas and Irene Cara in its lead roles, is set for a reboot. The late Whitney Houston and Jordin sparks are expected to star in the feature, along with Derek Luke and Cee-Lo Green. The film, slated to be finalized in mid-2012, is being directed by salim akil and written by Mara Brock akil, with Christian megachurch pastor and author T.D. Jakes serving as an executive to the project. The film would be the last feature film starring Houston.

Ticketmaster Settles Lawsuit Over Fees, Will Offer Credits The outcome of a recent class-actionlawsuit against Ticketmaster will have the super concert seller pumping $11.25 million for the next four years back into the pockets of those that purchased tickets using their services. The various fees and subcharges, sometimes quadrupeled to 40 percent beyond actual event costs, became a pestering problem for many customers, which lead to two men to sue the company. a nationwide class-action law suit was affirmed by the courts last year. any persons who purchased tickets via Ticketmaster from Oct. 21, 1999 to Oct. 19, 2011 will earn $1.50 off future transactions. Individuals who purchased expedited ticket delivery through the uPs will be eligible for a $5 credit. Ticketmaster continues to emphasize that they were not admitting to any wrongdoing because of the settlement.


OUTSTANDING ITEMS MARCH 6 Bruce Springsteen Wrecking Ball Monica New Life

MARCH 16 Chris Brown Fortune

MARCH 20 Adam Lambert Trespassing

Anti-Flag The General Strike Casey James Casey James

Eye of the Tiger

Posthumous Lioness focuses on unreleased songs, outtakes and last recorded track with Tony Bennett

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ince the tragic passing of Brit soul singer amy Winehouse on July 23, were fixated on her estate to pull out the previouslyrecorded unreleased jewels from the vault. Winehouse parents, Mitch and Janis, knew the world was anxious to hear new material from their daughter, but already came to the conclusion that the idea of releasing a series of posthumous albums like Michael Jackson was next to impossible. But Lioness: Hidden Treasures erases some of that doubt. The album, due in early December, contains a bundle of unreleased tracks and rare alternate takes compiled by producer salaam Remi and Mark Ronson. Two original tracks were considered “complete” and were expected to land on her highlyanticipated follow-up to 2006’s Back to Black. “Between the Cheats” showcases her love for doo wop and her neat idea to re-

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Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures (Universal) Release Date: December 6

vive it with modern pop. “Like smoke” was tweaked with an added rap cameo from Nas, which adds powerful lyrics penned by the rapper reflecting on her passing. Other rarities coming out of the vault include a 2002 bossa nova number “The Girl From Ipanema,” a cover of the shirelles’ classic “Will You still Love Me Tomorrow” and “Halftime,” which bears live drumming by The Roots’ ahmir ?uestlove Thompson. The disc also features the stunning duet

with Tony Bennett on “Body and soul,” which was included on the crooner’s No. 1 record, Duets II. Both of Winehouse’s parents were originally concerned about the disc, even the record label. “Mitch first said to me, ‘I might have to leave the room after a couple of songs,” producer salaam Remi said. “He was expecting to hear a train wreck.” after they heard the album’s selections, they had a change of mind.

TONY aND THe TIGeR: Tony Bennett and Winehouse joins forces on Lioness

MARCH 26 Madonna MDNA

APRIL 3 Rascal Flatts Changed

APRIL 10 Alabama Shakes Boys & Girls

Bonnie Raitt Slipstream

COMING ATTRACTIONS

Sting of the Bee Springsteen returns with 17th LP

the boss is back with another record on his hands. the new album, Wrecking ball, due for release on March 6, will contain brand new music and will be supported by its lead single, “We take Care of our own.” With the patrotic pulse of “born in the usa,” bruce springsteen relies on his dylan-esque poetry to organize a timely message song for the pivotal election season: “Whereever this flag’s flown/We take care of our own/from Chicago to new orleans, from the muscle to the bone/from the shotgun shack to the super dome/there ain’t no help, the Calvary stayed home/there ain’t no one hearing the bugle blowin’/We take care of our own.” says springsteen’s longtime manager, Jon Landau, “bruce has dug down as deep ashe can to come up with this vision of modern life. the lyrics tell a story you can’t hear anywhere else and the music is his innovative in recent years.”


HIFIDELITY

RIHANNA’S

JusT a LIL’ RI-sPeCT: Whether you love or hate her, Rihanna has already amassed eleven No. 1’s on the Hot 100. Only the Beatles (20), Mariah Carey (18), Michael Jackson (13), Madonna (12), the supremes (12) and Whitney Houston (11) lead the pack.

GREATEST HITS

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he has enough records under her slate to cull out an excellent greatest hits album. in just a relatively short time, rihanna has been elevated to a superstar status that pop artists only dream of. With “We Found Love,” the Calvin harris-produced lead single off of her 2011 talk that talk album, dominating the hot 100 top spot for the third week in a row, rihanna is soon to eclipse the hot 100 leaders of Mariah Carey, Madonna and Whitney houston, for having the most no. 1 hits. she currently has eleven number one singles in her corner, and she shows no sign of stopping any time soon. so if we were to compile a fifteen-track greatest hits collection, lifting tracks from each of rihanna’s album releases from 2005’s Music of the sun to 2011’s talk that talk, including her long list of guest collaborative tracks with beefy rappers and rock stars, we believe these offerings would land on that list.

1

SOS (No. 1 pop; 3 weeks) from the album A Girl Like Me (2005) This song samples every corner of Soft Cell’s 1981 “Tainted Love,” to the point where it seems uncreative on the surface. But Rihanna slips in some Britney Spears sass, dancehall spice and Beyoncé’s “dangerously in love” lyrics.

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from the album Music of the Sun (2005) Island beats

(feat. Ne-Yo) (No. 7 pop)

Paying homage to the deejay, the song enforces tap dance and dancehall-pop with hand-clapping classic R&B. The combination sets off a chain of recurrences in the rhythmic Top 40 to come, with Beyoncé being the busiest.

from the album Good Girl Gone Bad (2007) This Stargate production takes the leftovers of NeYo’s “Sexy Love” and “So Sick” and molds out a earnest R&B midtempo duet that feels so reminiscent of Alexander O’ Neal and Cherelle’s midEighties pairings.

Pon de Replay (No. 2 pop)

3

Don’t Stop the Music

Hate That I Love You

6

Take A Bow (No. 1 pop)

You can hear Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” bubbling towards the front. There’s something so charming about that “makossa” chant.

from the album Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded (2008) Ne-Yo digs up a sarcastic goodbye lyric that smells like a dry humor Hallmark card. She sings, “You put on quite a show, really had me going/Now it’s time to go, curtains finally closing.” And she sings it without a hint of regret.

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7

Umbrella (feat. Jay-Z)

Disturbia (No. 1 pop)

(No. 1 pop; 7 weeks)

from the album Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded (2008)

(No. 3 pop) from the album Good Girl Gone Bad (2007)

from the album Good Girl Gone Bad (2007) The-Dream and Tricky Stewart originally planned to give the song to Britney Spears, but her management forfeited it. It became Rihanna’s first No. 1 hit single and remained there for seven weeks – thanks to the infectious “ela-ela” sing-a-long hook and woozy hip-pop production.

Rihanna takes on sizzling Madonna pop. Ri’s ex Chris Brown also contributes to the songwriting process.


v

HIFIDELITY 8 If I Never See Your Face Again MAROON 5 feat. RIHANNA

(No. 51 pop)

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SNIP BITS

12 Love The Way You Lie EMINEM feat. RIHANNA

(No. 1 pop; 7 weeks)

from the album Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded (2008) Maroon 5 recorded this funk-rock jam without RiRi on their sophomore album It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, but the band felt that Rihanna’s presence on a much needed remix would give the song a little extra fire. They didn’t lie.

9 Live Your Life T.I. feat. RIHANNA

(No. 1 pop; 6 weeks) from the album Paper Trail (2008) This feel-good encourager doesn’t have the overjoyed razzle dazzle of Kanye West’s “Good Life,” but it’s not that far behind.

from the album Recovery (2010) Rihanna became the queen of hooks after teaming up with a revived Eminem on this super summer smash of 2010. Rihanna ended up recording her own version for Loud, featuring newly crafted verses. It was good, but Nem’s Coldplay-ish track remains the feistiest.

singing in thE rain: “umbrella” appears on a number of “best-of” lists. besides Entertainment Weekly ranking the no. 1 hit as number one on their 10 best singles of 2007 survey, rolling stone magazine ranked it no. 412 on their updated 500 greatest songs of all time.

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13 What’s My Name? (feat. Drake) (No. 1 pop; 1 week) from the album Loud (2010) Dreamy StarGate electro-R&B fits smoothly on Rihanna’s sexy island phrasing and Drake’s clever rapsing mix.

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Run This Town JAY-Z feat. KANYE WEST and RIHANNA

Only Girl (In The World)

(No. 2 pop)

(No. 1 pop; 1 week)

from the album The Blueprint 3 (2009) Rap kings Jay-Z and Kanye West scoops Rihanna up right after her messy public domestic abuse of ex Chris Brown. It proved to be a good omen for the rap duo. It took home two Grammys.

from the album Loud (2010) Donna Summer Eurodisco overtakes the dancehall queen. And it seriously works.

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15

Rude Boy

We Found Love

(No. 1 pop; 5 weeks) from the album Rated R (2010) “Rude Boy” came out of the gate swinging with its dancehall swagger, girl power and sexual lib intensity. Rihanna’s been burning for that good sex ever since.

MaKing thE bannEd: “s&M” wound up being rihanna’s tenth no. 1. but the concept video to the risque sex-slave anthem got the boot in a total of eleven countries.

{ color by numbers } 11

197,040

5

No. 1 singles by Nov 2011

platinum-selling albums

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from the album Talk That Talk (2011) If “Last Dance” was reworked into the electropop of modern Top 40 but without its sophisticated string of lyrics, “We Found Love” would be the end result. This is a sing-a-long arena-sized anthem that traces the effectiveness of ‘90’s club grooveland.

10,155,173

units of Talk That Talk sold in first week

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tattoos

Twitter followers

Grammy awards

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28

$1,168,000

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weeks “Umbrella” reigned at No. 1 in the UK

MARCH/APRIL 2012

(feat. Calvin Harris) (No. 1 pop; 10 weeks so far)

Top 40 hits

money spent on hair styling per year

4

countries that banned “S&M” music video


HIFIDELITY

THIS JUSTPART IN 2 Fogerty Entertains Potential Reunion of CCR Looks like a good moon may be rising for legendary blues-rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival, as frontman John Fogerty contemplates the idea of a reunion tour with original members stu Cook and Doug Clifford. ”It’s possible,” Fogerty said to Rolling stone. “If you feel good and you get busy, [eventually] … your heart heals.” The band made their split in 1972 and has not formally reunited since their last album, Mardi Gras.

Google Music Launches search engine giant Google jumped into the MP3 war with iTunes and amazon when it launched its digital android Marketplace library on November 16th. The store boasts a collection of 13 million songs, daily free songs and attractive exclusives like a Coldplay live eP and official Rolling stones bootlegs, like 1983’s Brussels affair. Google Music can be accessed at www.google.com/music

Rock Radio Shrinks in 2011 Two big rock radio chains laid off dozens of deejays and radio programmers last quarter, including those with Clear Channel Communications and Cumulus. Corporate stations are favoring controlled playlists and syndicated shows and are distancing away from local programming. “It’s a decrease in expense for the company, but the dirty little secret is it’s going to be less local,” says Tony Florentino, who was also affected by the layoff. Rock artists are highly concerned that they will hardly gain any exposure on radio in certain markets.

Adele Wins Big at Grammys The Brit soul singer, who struck gold with her second LP 21, took home all the trophies she was nominated for at the 54th annual Grammy awards, including awards for album of the Year and song of the Year. Kanye West and the Foo Fighters also walked home with multiple wins, both winning four awards respectively. Performers also saw a major spike in record sales following the show’s live telecast, including Katy Perry (“Part of Me”) and the Foo Fighters, who performed three times during the show. Jennifer Hudson’s tribute to the pop legend Whitney Houston,, helped elevate seven of Whitney’s previous LPs back into the Top 200. The 2012 Grammys scored its highest Nielsen rating since 1984, with a record-breaking 40 million viewers tuned in.

Have A Little Faith

George Michael ‘improvin g steadliy’ with unexpected battle of pnuemonia, while facing radical Christian group calls for his death

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ritish pop singer

george Michael, 48, may be facing the fight of his life and his career as he recovers from severe pneumonia. but doctors at Vienna’s aKh hospital unveiled news of improvement in a november 30 statement stating that the 48-year old singer is ‘improving steadily,’ a week after he fell ill; causing him to postpone the remaining 2011 dates of the European portion of his symphonica tour. the singer was admitted into intensive care due to the severity of the illness, but is bouncing back slowly. in a statement, Professors gottfried Locker and Christoph zielinski said: 'We are happy to announce that Mr. Michael is improving steadily with an impressive regression of pneumonic symptoms and follows a steady rate of improvement as hoped.” doctors are also dismissing all speculations and claims about other health concerns. “there are no other health issues with regards to the patient other than the underlying pneumonic disorder, and no further measures had to be taken,” doctors said. Michael’s family, including ex-boyfriend Kenny goss, have all visited the ailing singer in the hospital and are all wishing him a speedy recovery. but some overzealous Christian groups aren’t all that wishful. according to the huffington Post, a twitter account for Christians For a Moral america, a conservative morale blog, tweeted hateful messages soliciting prayers for Michael’s death. one of the group’s supporters, godsWordisLaw, tweeted “apparently george Michael has aids. Figures since he’s a homosexual and it goes with the territory. another sodomite bites the dust?” he also added,

“Pray for george Michael’s demise” in a second tweet. the twitter account of Christians For a Moral america normally condemns the Lgbt community and has since grown from 78 to 893 subscribers two days after the posts were published. doctors hope the singer will make a strong recovery, but are fearful over the health of his voice. dr. gerrit Wohlt, an an expert doctor caring for Michael, said, "it depends how long he spends on the ventilator, but in the worst case his illness could seriously affect his singing capacity. the pressure is very close to his vocal cords and it could affect them." Family and friends are also optimistic about Michael’s recovery. hair stylist Fadi Fawaz, who has been dating the singer since the breakup of Kenny goss, told the daily Mail that the singer is improving daily. “there is nothing to be concerned about, he says. “he is doing fine. We are very happy.”


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2011’s

DRESSED

“WE DIDN’T JUDGE THE BOOK BY ITS COVER, BUT WE DID JUDGE THE CELEBRITY BY THEIR DRESS”

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By Jay Bee Contributing Writer

e all want to be able to dress like our favorite celebrities, but we know they are human beings – just like us. And even they make a few FASHION MISTAKES from time to time! Throughout the year, we look forward to watching our favorite award shows and the glitzy red carpet events to witness what they are wearing. As another year comes to a close and a new year unfolds, I wanted to take a look back and name my Top Five best and worst dressed celebrities of 2011.

BEST

TOP 5

5 4 3 2 1

When i first saw her in this dress at the grammys this year; it was really touchand-go for me. she wore a see-through allwhite dress. although i’m not a big rihanna fan, she did look dazzling in this dress. however i feel she could have done something better with her hair. i’M Just saying!

TOP 5

WORST Who else should start off 2011’s worst dress than nicki Minaj. at the 53rd annual grammy awards, Minaj walked onto the red carpet looking like a tiger wearing one of her signature high top wigs.

Country pop star taylor swift arrives at the CMas in a J. Medel-designed gray gown. it featured intricate folds of fabric and a tulle train that was breathtaking! taylor was dolled up from head to toe. great job, taylor! you finally look like a grown woman.

the country singer arrived at the CMa’s in a terry gordon-designed emerald velvet gown. this dress did absolutely nothing for me. the only part of this dress i liked was the halter that was bedazzling! Fancy had her one chance, but she let me down.

MJb brought out her wild side when she arrived at the american Music awards 2011 wearing an animal print outfit. unlike someone i mentioned in my worst dressed, MJb kept it classy and simple.

the actress really tried to make this work but it didn’t go so well. the dress nicole Kidman wore to this 2011’s oscars had such great potential but there was just too much going on. the old saying still holds true today: sometimes less is more.

Wow! Look at that new figure. Jennifer hudson arrives at the american Music awards in a short metallic dress showing off her new figure. Keep up the great look, Jennifer, even though i liked you as a chucky baby, but do you!

the winners of 2011’s best dressed are viral sensations sophia grace brownlee and rosie brownlee, who won over Ellen degeneres’ heart on youtube. these two girls rocked their tiaras and came all dolled up in pink.

umm, what was she thinking?

to round out my top five, the winner of 2011’s worst dressed is country singer Faith hill. she looked like a liquid paper brush. she arrived at the CMas dressed in all white, with her hair in an up-do that spoke volumes. hill has been in the country music for years and is a very elegant woman. however, this dress did not do her any justice.


PUTTIN’ON THE MIX Since Doomsday prevailed the disco world thirty years ago, mix king Tom Moulton is still hard at work and extending the boogie

BY J MATTHEW COBB

e’s like the cool guy you wish you ran into at a local music store. You know, the kind you find surfing through a crate of dusty vinyl and you abruptly interpret his flow with your brain-picking inquiry, then your dialogue drifts off into your parade of all-time favorites. Suddenly find yourself going back and forth through two hours of tireless, rewarding conversation about your favorite bands, those college days and what new albums sucks the most. Then you realize you’ve been in the shop for over two hours. Usually in those cases, you never get their first name and you hardly see them for another year or so. Luckily, everyone knows who Tom Moulton is. Not because he’s probably the guy you’ve run into a record shop, but because Moulton probably worked on that record you’re wandering for.

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TOM MOULTON during his Ford modeling days, late 1960’s


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n a laidback summer weekday, my phone conversation with tom Moulton is supposed to be about his work on new horizon, isaac hayes’ first album with Polydor records, in which he handled three of the album’s glorious mixes. but the conversation curtails towards grander achievements, familiar episodes and Philly soul. some of the questions i ask, he’s been asked a dozen times already. you can tell it in his voice.

did you mix the single edits? i believe i mixed those two. Was it a requirement to have that phrase attached to your work? it was after it was successful. yes.

“I was doing an internet radio show several months ago and someone instant messaged me during the live show and asked, ‘Is it true that there was a 19 minute version of “Disco Inferno” that never came out?’ and I said, ‘No, there never was a 19 minute version. It was a twenty minute version.”

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hose questions are a bore to him. he’s also brutally honest about some of those questions: half-way answering them or just responding with quick yes or ‘no’s just to move to the next question on the check-off list. but when a subject comes up that deserves a hard laugh or a little more backstory, the remix king doesn’t hesitate to give the details. isaac hayes may just be the king of mammoth epic suites, breaking the three-minute radio rules with his six-minute singles and breaking every rule in the book on r&b records by taking up whole sides with fifteenminute offerings. For Moulton, fifteen minutes of mixing was a tease. “i had done a twenty minute version of “disco inferno” and i cut it down to eleven minutes,” Moulton says. a twenty-minute version of “disco inferno? it might sound like a stretch on paper, but the trammps’ hit that highlighted the box office smash saturday night Fever, causing a delirious pandemonium of disco Mania on the consciousness of hip americans in 1978, was one of those songs that you dreamed never ended. but hearing the possibilities that the revered Philly classic once had a twenty-minute time stamp sends me into a state of shock. Moulton continues: “i was doing an internet radio show several months ago and someone instant messaged me during the live show and asked, ‘is it true that there was a 19 minute version of ‘disco inferno’ that never came out?’ and i said, ‘no, there never was a 19 minute version. it was a twenty minute version.’ People are still talking about that thing. i found that to be so funny.”

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om Moulton’s career begins in san Francisco as a promotional salesman for King records, the label that pumped out endless singles for James brown. he eventually worked his way up the ladder with other labels until he got tired of the behind-the-scene politics that came with the day job. tom Moulton’s story then takes a series of lavish turns into the genesis of the new york underground disco sound of the early seventies – a movement sparked by a knee-jerk retraction

ticular addendum became the crème de la crème in dance music tradition.

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he superpowers exhibited on Moulton’s mixtape experiments would find its way on wax in 1974 when MgM records allowed him to mend together the album’s best uptempo songs together as a super dance medley. norman harris’s “honeybee” opens up the set, exposing more of Moulton’s trademark instrumental breakdowns which allowed the song to entrap dancers to the dance floor. When it starts to fade, “never Can say goodbye” shoots out immediately. the same happens on the fade of “never Can say goodbye.” after gaynor shoots out a wail of ecstasy, the song tumbles with a series of heavy bass drum thumps until it the melodic chorus of the Four tops’ classic “reach out, i’ll be there” springs to life. this strategy, now dubbed a megamix, has been a prominent display in the world of dance music and has been used on epic albums for donna summer, Madonna, britney spears and duran duran.

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PICTURED ABOVE: The 7” inch single of “Disco Infermo” teased the R&B charts in 1976, but by the time the 12” inch version hit the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, the public was screaming for the 12-minute version. caused by the glorification of heavy rock and a heavy sixties protest against Vietnam, racism and social injustice. after a visit to Fire island, Moulton watches the gay white guys dancing to infectious r&b and quickly notices a serious problem with the music: the songs were all under three minutes. the records went on and they were off. and the deejays had no sense of atmosphere and tempo then, mixing songs together that would kill the mood of the previous track. he starts making his own mix tapes and they slowly make their way to the dance floor at the sandpiper. those long hours of splicing together obscure tracks of ann Peebles, syl Johnson, the detroit Emeralds, yvonne Fair and b.t. Express paid off, earning Moulton studio mixing privileges at scepter records. the early stuff was the blueprints to disco glory: Patti Jo’s “Make Me believe in you,” ultra high Frequency’s “We’re on the right track” and the independents’ “i Love you yes i do” were just some of the labels’ most memorable moments into the dance craze. one record from the scepter label, in particular, catapulted Moulton into the forefront of dance torchbearers. in the hands of Moulton, don downing’s “dream World” earned a noticeable extension that included a hearty percussion-fueled instrumental break best known as the “breakdown.” that one par-

om Moulton‘s legacy stretches its way to 212 n. 12th street in Philadelphia, where gamble & huff cut their distinguished soul records using the tapestry of bobby Martin’s arrangements and a sophisticated symphonic unit comprised of the best musicians in town, who ended up being tagged Mother Father sister brother (M.F.s.b. for short). at sigma sound studios, Moulton handled thousands of records for gamble & huff’s Pir label and for outside talent for a smorgasbord of record labels looking to get a taste of the bubbling contagious sound that transcended upon the discos. “you have no idea of how busy i was during that time,” Moulton exclaims.

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round the time Moulton started his long-term relationship at sigma sound, the place where the o’Jays, harold Melvin & the blue-notes, and billy Paul cut their hit records using a rare sweetening designed by don renaldo’s strings and Vincent Montana’s vibes, sigma’s general manager harry Chipetz approached him with a golden opportunity to become part of the Philly machine. “When they finally asked me to do something for gamble & huff, i told them i really don’t have to do anything for them,” remembers Moulton. “i told ‘em i was busy all the time.’ he then told me, ‘Well, you know we like to keep it in the family because it’s a family thing down here.’ and i went, ‘Well…okay.so what do you got?’ they ended up giving me a bunch of acetates and i listened to them and i came across People’s Choice.” released as a single in 1975, “do it any Way you Wanna,” the mostly-instrumental funk jam which soared to no. 1 r&b and no. 11 pop penned by Leon huff, was a definite benchmark in tom Moulton’s mixology. in

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at the very mention of the song’s name. he takes a moment to pause before he elaborates further on the backstory for the infectious r&b number. “i can’t say what i want to say,” he says with hesitation. “or maybe i can. i don’t want you to take things the wrong way,” he further tells me.

oh, you’re fine, go ahead. Let me explain something to you. My parents were both musicians and i didn’t grow up knowing that black people were different than us. i grew up believing we all were the same. and you’re born with nothing and you die with nothing and you try to make the best of what happens in between, which makes a lot of sense. so anyway, when i started doing records for Philadelphia [international records], a lot of black people would say “ugh, they whitened up those records with all of that string and horn shit.” and i said “Excuse me?” and they would say, “yeah, you know, they whitened ‘em up. they’re not really black records.” i used to get pissed over that. so when i listened to People’s Choice’s “do it any Way you Wanna,” i said i’m going to tackle this and i am going to show them what a street nigga record is. and i said i defy one person that says, “ah, that whitened it up.” i guarantee you, this is about as black as it’s going to get. and i made damned sure that it had that nasty, aggressive sound to it. to tom Moulton’s surprise, Kenny gamble wasn’t pleased with the first mix. “they argued with me,” he says. “they had me to mix it again because they didn’t like the intro. i told them, ‘Listen…let me explain something to you. When it comes to that kind of a nasty record, you gotta slap them people across the face and say, ‘WhaP!’” gamble refused to consent to Moulton’s mixing touches. “he told me, ‘i don’t know, tom. i don’t like that intro. it sounds like it’s tough.’ i told him, ‘that’s like a slap on the face, Kenny.’ Well what do you follow a slap on the face with? you follow a slap on the face with a nasty, aggressive song like that.” Moulton’s funky, in yo’ face mix was released as the single version and as a hefty fiveminute extended mix that proved to be a favorite in the discotheques. it ended up being a lifeline for Moulton, opening up even more opportunities for a colorful list of names that ranged from studio 54 regular grace Jones to porn actress andrea true. “you have no idea what that record did for me. Everybody and their mother knew i mixed that record. you wouldn’t believe the folk that would call me up.” Moulton then dons his best impression of an exhausted southern record executive. “ah you that tom Moulton?” um, yeah. “uhh, can you mix mah re-ckard?” umm, maybe. “you da one that mixed that ‘da it Ene Way you Wanna,’ right?” umm, yeah. “Can ya make mah bass sound like that?”

Moulton immediately bursts into an abundance of laughter. the set of chuckles are contagious, causing me to laugh along. the tales are pouring out now. “they would even ask me, ‘have you ever thought about using another name.’ i said, ‘sure’ and i’ll go, ‘to what?’ When they finally met me, they would go, ’oh my god, you’re white.’ and i said ‘only on the outside.’” in Moulton’s world, being black comes natural. “i keep telling people that black is not a color. it’s a feeling. People always look at me strange when i say that. i think you have to understand this music and know what i mean when i say that. i think being black is truly a feeling. it really is.”

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om Moulton didn’t hesitate to try dabbing his fingers in other genres, with his body of work stretching across a colorful palette of musical genres and styles. grace Jones’ “La Vie En rose,” in which he also produced, contains a light-disco shuffle layered atop luxurious bosanova grooves and Edith Piaf’s French lyrics. one of his early mixes, big all downing’s “i’ll be holding on” cut on Chess records, felt like country disco. he also ventured into the world of spacey electro by produced for Kebekelektrik (pronounced Quebec Electric), a band that patterned after Kraftwerk’s futuristic space sound, the dance flavor of Prelude records’ bigger hit records alongside the creative input from gino soccio. orlando riva sound, a german band, earned Moulton’s mixing treatment on their 1977 disco sensation “Moon boots,” which successfully merged giorgio Moroder galactic experiments with silver Connection’s lyric-less philosophy. Moulton also worked on a number of reggae records for island records. still, it was the Philly soul and disco where his legacy shined the brightest.

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1977 double-LP featuring some of Pir’s best hits went under the knife, earning disco-friendly facelifts that literally doubled the time of the original singles. Philadelphia Classics was totally overseen by tom Moulton’s supervision, curating mixes for the o’Jays’ “i Love Music” and the three degrees “dirty ol’ Man,” along with the infamous M.F.s.b. gem “Love is the Message,” which later became a radio favorite on new york’s WLbsFM. he didn’t get a shred of credit on the mixes on the 1977 album release or on any of the commercial releases of “do it any Way you Wanna.” the oversight originally bothered Moulton, especially knowing the hard work that went into the revised gems. “Look… i know i did it,” he says. “i made sure when the album was reissued again on Cd that my name was on there. My name was inadvertly left off.” on the 2002 re-issue of Philadelphia Classics, tom Moulton finally got full credit for his work. in the liner notes of the repack-

aged album, disco historian brian Chin observed Pir’s previous mistake. “his credit never appeared on "do it any Way you Wanna" or on the original Philadelphia Classics LP. We correct that omission here, as Moulton discusses his work and the undying magic of Philadelphia.” after that incident transpired, Moulton made sure that any of his future products crafted during those grueling hours of mixing were autographed with his “a toM MouLton” signature. it wasn’t designed to be ego boost, just an informal way to alert fans of the expanded grooves tucked on board the vinyl.“Well that idea came about because i changed parts of the songs around and did a lot of creative editing and things like that,” Moulton says. “having ‘tom Moulton Mix’ on it meant that the song was special. it wasn’t just a mix, it was a special mix.”

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oday, tom Moulton claims he has mixed well over 4000 songs. that number doesn’t include the quantity of mixes he’s made for those songs, which include 7” edits, album versions and those timeless 12” max-single copies that bear the marquee glory of “a toM MouLton MiX” on it. by the way, a studio experiment at Media sound on “so Much For Love” by Moment of truth that included Moulton and studio staffer José rodriguez gave birth to the 12” inch single. the grooves were wider and the bass levels were heavy, but it was clearer and more vibrant than commercial 7” inch 45’s. the craze caught the attention of other labels. Promotional copies of 12” inch singles were being rushed to deejays and discos in numbers, until new york’s salsoul records cashed in on the opportunity to issue the very first commercially-available 12” inch single in June 1976 featuring Walter gibbons’ remix of double Exposure’s “ten Percent.”

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ormally a guy creeping past their seventies would’ve put the brakes on a fulltime job. not Moulton. he’s presented with just as much music to mix than he had during his disco heyday. in 2006, Moulton earned his own greatest-hits compilation – aptly titled a tom Moulton Mix, which assembled some of his most treasured and landmark mixes. a couple of years later in 2010, Philly grove records approached the mix king with an once-in-alifetime opportunity to mix northern soul classics for a two-volume set. since then, the mix master has produced mixes for tortured soul, Cool Million, brand new heavies, Kings go Forth and richard Earnshaw. he also contributed the foreword to the recentlyreleased Complete introduction to disco, a deluxe four-disc box set distributed by universal uK. he’s also heavily busy working on new mixes for disco classics. one of the big projects he’s working on is a four-disc box set of “gamble & huff stuff” that is expected to be ready by 2012.


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MO’ ON MOULTON

(1)

Tom Moulton talks with us about some of the landmark songs his fingers touched over the years.

“T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia)” // performed by MFSB feat. The Three Degrees Mine always had ‘People all over the world, doo-doo.” That’s my version.

“Love Is The Message” // performed by MFSB

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In fact, I tricked [Leon] Huff into playing the piano on that, on the piano part. It was funny because I came up with the idea to do that album (Philadelphia Classics). And I said you know you gotta put like a Rolls Royce or an old classy car on the cover. And they thought it was a great idea. And I picked the songs I wanted to do the song and the one song I picked that wasn’t a hit was “Love Is The Message.” And they couldn’t understand why I wanted to do it. And I said, “Well, let me put it to you another way: If I don’t do that song, I don’t want to do the album.” I felt the song was so important.

“More More More” // performed by Andrea True Connection

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DANCE HALL DAYS: (1) Tom Moulton with record execs at West End Records. (2) Today, Tom Moulton is still giving the people what they want. (3) The proof can be found on these recently-released compilations.

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ne would believe that tom Moulton’s recent “comeback” – if that’s what you want to call it – has everything to do with the tempo of today’s top 40. Everywhere you turn these days, pop acts are fueling up their albums with nightclub workouts that would have easily substituted for a round Frisbee at a disco demolition party. but the disco sucks bandwagon has been broken down for quite some time, with acts like Ke$ha, Lady gaga, Katy Perry, rihanna, david guetta, deadmau5 and the black Eyed Peas constantly pumping their four-on-the-floor seasoning into their electro pop. Moulton prefers the real stuff, hearing real musicians making the music rather than an emotionless drum machine performing studio gimmickry. but he claims he enjoys much of the music of today. “i like today’s music,” he says. “i think people really appreciate the music aspect of it.” once again, the mix master, the original sir Mix-a-Lot, is a bit short in his response. this is probably one of those subjects he wishes i would change. it’s a strong possibility that sir Moulton may not be all that familiar with today’s radio airplay due to the high volume of work he’s been meticulously toying with lately, but so much of today’s dance music rests on the backs of his creativity. they are still pumping out the instrumental breakdowns, 12” inch single mixes and mega-mix tapes. if sir Moulton is still hard at work in his senior years, you best believe deadmau5 is going to be around for quite a long time, until he falls upon some strange music industry rat trap.

Did you know the story about Andrea True? I didn’t know when I did it. If I knew it then, I wouldn’t have done it. That’s why I made it so pretty. I thought she was talking about the music. I’m serious. While reading the history on the track, I was like, “Whoa, I wonder if Tom knew that.” No Tom didn’t! I didn’t know she was a porn star. I wanted to take that line out of the song that says “If you wanna know how I really feel, just get the cameras rolling and get the action going.” I wasn’t listening to that part ever. I was more focused on ‘more more more, how do ya like it?” That’s why I made it so pretty. I thought she was talking about the music. I never once made the connection that it was. And everyone was like you was wondering if I was just naïve. No I wasn’t. If I told you the real reason why I wanted to mix that song originally, you wouldn’t believe me. You wanna know what it was? It was that hokey Herb Albert-sounding trumpet solo. You gotta remember now it had only been four or five years that everything was Herb Albert and then everybody got so tired of him that no one wanted to hear the trumpet again. And I was like maybe it’s time for the trumpet to come back. And that was the whole reason I wanted to do the song. It was so interesting.

“Do It Till You’re Satisfied” // performed by B.T. Express When they played that for me originally, they said what do you think of this And I said, I can do something with that. And when they told me the name of the group, I almost laughed. Brothers Truckin. What is that? A tribute to Eddie Kendricks? And I said, “Where are they from?” They said New York. And I said, “Well, for God’s sake, why don’t you name them after a subway or something?” Brothers Truckin! Oh my god. I said I don’t know how you people come up with this crap. It sounds like an artificial band. B.T. Express sounds like a bad-ass name, but you don’t wanna know what it stands for. Now we know.

“Honey Bee” // performed by Gloria Gaynor The guitar buzz on the opener? It was Bobby Eli playing that. (Humming) That’s him on the bee. See “Never Can Say Goodbye” was done in Philadelphia.

“Dr. Love” // performed by First Choice The timing kept changing and I was so frustrated. And I had to constantly speed it up and slow it down til’ it matched. I was going out of my mind because the tempo changed so much. Earl [Young] kept changing the hi-hat pattern and it gave the appearance that it was slowing down and speeding up and so I wanted to make it all consistent and that’s why I was having all the trouble. It will always be one of my favorites.

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hat do you hear when you turn the radio on? drake, beyonce, Lil’ Wayne, Kanye and nicki Minaj. these are just some of the hottest musical commodities in today’s world of hip hop and r&b. and you will find their tunes blaring over the air waves and getting countless spins on most stations all over the u.s. and they deserve the attention, but what about the barely visible and mostly forgotten independent artists?

believe it or not: independent artists – or “indies – make up quite a number of artists in the music industry today. indies are free from major commercial record labels and their subsidiaries. although indies have the backing of independent labels, they tend to pump a lot of their own blood, sweat and tears into recording, publishing and distribution for the most part. For some, being indie allows the artist more freedom to creatively do their music without the hassle and politics from the “majors.” this liberty is largely the main reason why some artists opt to go independent. in other cases, indies were once signed to major labels and did not meet expected album sales, appearing unprofitable to execs. regardless of the case, indies may not be marketable enough for the majors, but they are most definitely here to stay. their works are often times more organic, heartfelt and more relatable to the average music listener. thanks to effective ways of marketing including the internet and the traditional “word-of-mouth,” indie artists are gaining overwhelming exposure. in this segment, i would like to introduce you to several independent artists that you probably have never heard of, but if the “music gods” are listening, hopefully that will change.

R&B

THE\ NEXT GENERATION

by MONICK JACKSON LEE

Looking for the next batch of emerging talent on the rise in r&b and soul music? don’t look any further.

NOEL GOURDIN at the age of twenty-four, the Massachusetts native was signed to major recording label sony/Epic records. With roots in the south, this r&b singer’s upbringing laid the foundation for his works. gourdin has that “old school” feel that is very prevalent to his sound. in 2008, his debut album “after My time” scored a hit single, “the river”. the song was featured in a movie soundtrack and was well received. despite having a hit single, gourdin started to feel overlooked by the competition at sony/Epic records and felt constricted creatively. With only modest record sales from his debut album, gourdin parted ways from sony. after a three-year absence from the music scene, he returned in 2011 with his sophomore album Fresh: the definition. With a new independent label, gourdin still brings that kind of soul that defined his sound on his debut. by being an indie, it allowed him to be more creative and to work with a closer knit unit; he finally felt that comfort he was missing at the major label. WATCH gourdin often says that he is “city to the heart, southern to the soul,” which the THIS! latter truly reflects through his works. http://tinyurl.com/6ntaazc gourdin currently resides in alabama: Comfortable now in a place where his heart truly is.


BEN CINA

DEONIS

hailing from dallas, tX, deonis Cook, a producer, arranger, songwriter and vocalist, has been singing since the tender age of four. as a member of god’s Property (a grammy award winning group who worked with gospel artist Kirk Franklin), deonis did not realize his musical potential until his stint in god’s Property. as a result of the god’s Property connection, he was allowed to work with an array of gospel greats including Fred hammond, Kim burrell and darwin hobbs, just to name a few. While branching into mainstream music, he’s had an opportunity to work with musical greats, which include Erykah badu, J dilla, Musiq soulchild and Eric roberson. Kat Phood, his debut album, was released in 2006. in early 2011, deonis dropped a mixtape entitled he got next, which was a preamble for the March 2011 release of his sophomore album breaking Point. this album offers a collection of soul music that includes sexy contemporary r&b ballads and mid-tempo songs. With a likening sound to the artist Prince and Mint Condition’s stokely, deonis is not a one trick pony. he brings a taste of versatility in his musical approach WATCH and topics.

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With a neo-soulful, jazzy vibe, this singer/songwriter/musician brings something you might not expect from a Killeen, tX native. While growing up, Cina’s musical inspirations included al green, bill Withers and otis redding. as a student, he spent two years taking vocal and piano training at the university of texas Jazz Program. in 2010, Cina released his self-produced debut EP the spiritual Progress. back in the studio now, Cina is now collaborating with music/vocal producer rob bass (V.i.P. Music group). boasting over 100 compositions in his war chest of original tunes, Cina is definitely making his mark in music: “happiness and Peace,” produced by bass, is an WATCH Easy Lee-sounding tune that unequivocally showcases the brilliance of this fresh collaboration. With over six years of live performing experience under his belt, Cina still plays in bars and other venues across texas. http://tinyurl.com/7uyn7og

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KRISTOPHER LAMONT With music in his bones, this detroit native was bound to follow in the musical footsteps of his first musical influence – his mother. at a young age, Lamont was exposed to various creative forms of art; whether through play performances, singing in the glee club, playing drums or writing poetry and short stories. in 2008, Lamont was handed an opportunity that he could not pass by. While attending a jazz show in detroit he was asked by rachelle Ferrell, one of his musical idols, to join her onstage. he “ripped” the stage with her that night and the audience loved him. if Lamont can hold his own with Ferrell, you best believe he has some major skills. by the way. Lamont’s range is phenomenal. i will never forget when i first heard him sing; i honestly thought that Lalah hathaway had released a new single i hadn’t heard about. stepping out on faith, Lamont walked away from his job as a truck driver to pursue his true passion of becomig a singer. “Change” is his first single as an independent WATCH singer under his own label. Lamont is looking forward to releasing his debut album sometime in the very near future. in the meantime, Lamont performs shows in detroit and Las Vegas and has also been the opening act for soul http://tinyurl.com/7g5bww5 artist Eric roberson.

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VEDO THE SINGER While most eighteen-year old high school graduates are chasing the next party and enjoying the prime of their wonder years, this is not the case with young atlanta entertainer Vedo the singer. his mother first discovered his talent at the age of eight. With explosive vocals accompanied by his energetic dance moves; Vedo entertains hundreds, if not thousands of people weekly. Currently he has two mixtapes available for digital download. With these attributes this young man can give some of the industry’s most seasoned veterans a run for their money. Vedo the singer is the “total package.” some of his musical influences include the temptations, Michael Jackson, usher, Musiq soulchild and WATCH Chris brown. Vedo the singer is currently being “groomed for greatness” with guidance from his manager. his passion for artistic http://tinyurl.com/89fuwrj entertainment, love of his family and his god-given gift are going to take this singer places i’m sure he has only dreamed of.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS Avery Sunshine Allen Stone Esnavi Rudy Currence Tracy Cruz


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fugly

reflecting on 2011’s highs and lows are important in our struggle to learn from wise choices and bad mistakes. as for the fuglies, we only pray that we don’t reduplicate those. here’s our guide of 2011’s major attractions.

JAN 24 ADELE’S 21 DEBUTS AND SAVES MUSIC INDUSTRY

JANUARY

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2011 was the year of Adele. The Brit soul singer ushers in yet another wave of British Invasion with her unstoppable sophomore album, 21. The independent album, released on XL Recordings, spent thirteen weeks in the No. 1 hot spot on the Billboard 200, which came very close to the sixteen weeks the soundtrack of Titanic spent at No. 1. It remained the year’s biggest selling album with over 4.5 million copies accounted for.

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JANUARY

FEBRUARY

FEB 2

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FEB 6

BLACK EYED PEAS ROCK THE SUPER BOWL

Some liked the lights and pyrotechnics, plenty hated hearing the never-ending electro boogie of Black Eyed Peas’ hits and hearing Fergie’s shriveling vocals live. Still, it was a lot better than watching The Who play air guitar.

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Surprise! Jack White and Meg White officially ended their career as the White Stripes on a high note, citing “a myriad of reasons,” but “mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band.”

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WHITE STRIPES BREAKUP

FEBRUARY

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good

THE THE bad

FEB 11

GUITAR HERO PULLS THE PLUG

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FEB 10

LIVE NATION BUYS TICKETMASTER

No more Star Power for the Activision gaming franchise. At one time, Guitar Hero pumped millions into the rhythm game franchise and reinvigorated the future of video gaming. Now millions of plastic guitars and rubber drum sets rest in the corners of their owners awaiting for a green light from game developers.

The concert and live entertainment behemoth just got bigger.

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FEB 13 INDIE BANDS RULE AT GRAMMYS

FEB 16 LADY GAGA SCORES 1,000,000 NO. 1 ON BILLBOARD HOT 100 Call it a leap of faith. After an egg-cellent performance at the 53rd annual Grammys, Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” becomes Billboard’s 1,000th No. 1 single to hit the Hot 100. It also made iTunes history, selling one million copies in just five days.

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MAR 1

After releasing a highly-anticipated new album in late 2010 and announcing tour dates with Kem and Ledisi on what looked like a promising comeback after sixteen years of silence, a thankful soul singer El DeBarge stands in need of another stint of drug rehab. Bad habits are hard to break.

“Beautiful” singer battles her last big downfall before she finds a light at the end of the tunnel on NBC’s hit reality-TV show The Voice. She is arrested in L.A. on a misdemeanor charge of public intoxication after the police pulls her boyfriend over due to suspicion of driving while under the influence.

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RIP LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY

The big voice behind Marky Mark’s “Good Vibrations” hit and the disco diva that led many New York’s dance magnets like “Hit and Run” and Dan Hartman’s “Relight My Fire” passes away.

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MAR 2

KIM KARDASHIAN TAKES A STAB AT MUSIC. LITERALLY

The reality-TV star proves once and for all that music is not where she needs to be. Shame on you Ryan Seacrest!

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MAR 21

XTINA ARRESTED FOR PUBLIC INTOXICATION

EL DEBARGE ENTERS REHAB

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Enrique Iglesias pulls out as headliner for Britney Spears tour.

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MARCH 29

MARCH

A surprise to many pop residents who are out-of-touch with the indie world, Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire snags the Album of the Year trophy for their critically-acclaimed The Suburbs album. The Black Keys, another indie act, also takes home two awards. Upsetting many Bieber fans, jazz vocalist Esperanza Spalding takes home the coveted Best New Artist award.

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MAR 22

CHRIS BROWN ACTS UP ON GMA Road rage is so 2010. Chris Brown takes a bite at Good Morning America’s Robyn for bringing up on old news during his morning stop for F.A.ME. coverage. Agitated by the media maneuver, Brown storms off the set, dashes backstage and breaks a window. He later apologizes, GMA welcomes him back and everyone was happy again.


APRIL

APR 4 CEE LO GREEN’S “F**K YOU” ZOOMS TO NO. 1 ON POP SONGS AND MAINSTREAM TOP 40 It took forever, but the potty-mouth Motown-inspired gem we’ve all grown to love finally hits No. 1 on the Pop Songs’ survey and also the Mainstream Top 40.

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APR 2

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM SAYS GOODBYE

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APR 1

KOL AND GLEE PRODUCER AT ODDS Glee producer Ryan Murphy wants to use “Use Somebody” in one of his Glee episodes. But Kings of Leon adamantly says no. What emerges from the conversation is a Twitter feud that was one for the books.

JENNIFER HUDSON ‘FEELS GOOD’ WITH WEIGHT WATCHERS Her March album, I Remember Me, sells doo doo eggs and with no radio hits to boot. But who cares, after the Idol alum drops a startling eighty pounds and reveals a curvaceous slimmer body worthy of the runway.

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Over 20,000 fans crowded into Madison Square Garden to witness the final chapter to James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem. The sold-out affair went on for four hours and went in the history books. “It’s like New Year’s but like next year, we’re dead,” quips Murphy. As the disco ball lowered towards the end of their set, “Us v. Them” had new meaning: “The time has come, the time has come, the time has come today.”

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APR 20 RIP GERARD SMITH After completing the recording sessions to Nine Types of Light, TV On The Radio loses their bassist to lung cancer. He was 36.


APR 27 THE VOICE ROARS; BECOMES BIG HIT FOR NBC

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MAY 20

MARCH/APRIL 2012

In a tight battle of country finalists, 17-year old Scotty McCreary wins Season 10 of American Idol.

MAY 25

Mother Monster knows a thing or two about supply and demand. She sales digital versions of her sophomore album, Born This Way, for $1 and reaps a multitude of rewards. In her first week of sales, she reaches the one million sales mark. The move scares industry pros and critics, but Gaga doesn’t care.

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After months of layovers caused by six delays, cast member injuries and terrible pre-show reception from Broadway critics, the $70 million-produced Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, which contains a musical score written by U2’s Bono and The Edge and flashy Cirque du Soleil sequences, finally makes its debut. Months later, the departed Julie Taymor – who served as the former director – hit the creators with a $1 million lawsuit. Once again, Spider-Man gets pulverized by the Green Goblin of cash.

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MAY 26

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U2’S SPIDER-MAN FINALLY DEBUTS (WITH MIXED TO POOR RECEPTION)

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LADY GAGA BREAKS RECORDS BORN THIS WAY

WITH

After 25 years, Oprah Winfrey ends her syndicated talk show.

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MAY

MAY 31

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Cutting into Idol’s superpowers and buzz was NBC’s The Voice. Despite the show’s fresh concepts including the supercool Lazy-Boy spinning chair, it was the judges that commanded the attention of millions of Americans. Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton are relevant superstars that boasted creamy chemistry, talent and humor. Those combinations proved to be riveting for TV, which made the show’s debut the highest in the time period since May 12, 2009. Javier Colon, a former EMI recording artist, was crowned the first season’s winner, and has since released a new CD to coincide with his realty-TV triumph. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but most Americans weren’t watching the show to find the next voice in pop music. They wanted to hear the present-day voices in pop music fight over who they thought should be tomorrow’s voices of pop music.

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MAY 27

RIP GIL SCOTT-HERON Kanye West influence, rap inspiration and renowned soul-jazz poet dies at 62.

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MAY 29

SEAN KINGSTON SURVIVES JET SKI ACCIDENT

A Miami Beach freak accident almost claimed the life of hiphop kid Sean Kingston. Due to “inexperience” and “inattention,” Kingston’s jet ski crashes into a bridge and lands him in the hospital. Eleven days afterwards, the singer/rapper underwent open-heart surgery to fix a torn aorta.


JUL

JUN 14 CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME FOR ALABAMA MISSISSIPPI TORNADO VICTIMS

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JUNE 8

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Signs of a good tour: New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys (as NKOTBSB) sells out Toronto’s Air Canada Centre in two-day run ($2.2 million).

Devastation in the South, spurred by violent F4 and F5 tornadoes, brings forth a union of musicians and artists across all aisles of genres. Country band Alabama initiates the first string of benefit concerts to help aid survivors, including the sold-out BamaRising charity concert, which featured big names like Rodney Atkins, Sheryl Crow, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Sara Evans and Darius Rucker. A televised telethon spearheaded by Hank Williams, Jr. and Alabama’s Randy Owen also brings in major donations. Rihanna also adds a Birmingham tour stop on her Loud Tour to help raise monies for devastated areas.

JUNE

JUNE

JUN 15

JUN 18 CHEAP TRICK SURVIVES STAGE COLLAPSE During a performance at the Ottawa Bluefest, heavy winds caused the stage to collapse on the rock band. Luckily, no one in the band was injured.

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JULY

4

J.LO, MARC ANTHONY ANNOUNCES DIVORCE

America’s beloved Latin couple calls it quits. Weeks later, Jenny is back on the block with a new boyfriend.

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JUN 18

JUL 23

RIP CLARENCE CLEMONS

RIP AMY WINEHOUSE

‘The Big Man’, known for being ‘The Boss’ longtime guitarist, dies at 69. His last guitar recording was featured on Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory.”

Gone too soon. With only two albums to her credit, the unfortunate passing of Amy Winehouse instantly made her the Janis Joplin of our generation.

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JUL 30

ON THE VERGE OF BREAKDOWN, KINGS OF LEON, CANCELS TOUR A tour stop in Dallas, Texas causes the Kings to pull the breaks on everything. Caleb Followill is having serious problems with the bottle and the fans know intervention is necessary. But isn’t the sauce what makes the Kings’ music so enchanting to the ear?

JOHN MAYER


AUG 17 KATY PERRY TIES WITH MJ

AUG 1 The biggest tour in rock history surpasses the numbers of the Rolling Stones’ $558 milliongrossed A Bigger Bang Tour (2005-2007) feat. U2’s super show grossed a total of $736 million and attracted a worldwide attendance of 7 million.

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AUGUST 11 After taking down Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” LMFAO takes the top spot for Billboard’s Summer Song of 2011 with “Party Rock Anthem.”

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U2’S 360 TOUR BREAKS RECORDS

AUGUST

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GRAMMYS TRIM THIRTY CATEGORIES

Urban and Latin genres are infuriated by the massive cuts in award categories, but the Academy has good reasons to make the decisions. According to the board, there was just way too many trophies being passed out in a very dismal time for music sales.

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AUG 6 OVER

The critics constantly blast fun pop, but Katy Perry – a magnum cum laude graduate from Madonna Institute – proves she could be become the next queen of pop. She tied with the King of Pop for having five No. 1 singles off of one album. He scored five No. 1’s from Bad. Perry scored five off of Teenage Dream.

AUG 14

THE SUGARLAND STAGE COLLAPSE A YouTube video shows the shocking seconds of a horrific stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair caused by large wind gusts reaching 100 miles per hour. It’s hard to believe that Sugarland was preparing to enter the stage at that very moment. Five were killed and dozens were injured.

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AUG 19

LINDSAY LOHAN GETS MAD AT PITBULL

AUG 22 + 23 RIP JERRY LEIBER AND NICK ASHFORD Rock n’ roll songwriter – mastermind behind Elvis’ “Hound Dog,” “Stand By Me” and “On Broadway” – dies at the age of 78. A day later, the Motown songwriter and male half of R&B/disco duo Ashford & Simpson dies at 69.

One lyric in “Give Me Everything” pisses off embattled (ex-)movie star Lindsey Lohan. Rather than getting her life together, she wants to screw up the life of a successful rapper, all because she’s tired of being poked fun at.

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l top

COVER STORY

33 1/3

adele had us all worked up, Jay-z & Kanye becomes 2011’s dynamic duo, britney spears got her groove back and Coldplay pulled off their finest art pop record to date. get a close-up on hiFi’s best albums of 2011.

albums of 2011 by

1/3

33

LIL WAYNE

THA CARTER IV

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31 TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND

Lil Wayne delivers ‘the goods’ once again on the fourth installment of his ‘tha Carter’ series. tha Carter iV finds the restless rapper somehow putting together another set of diverse, yet consistent cuts:“6 Foot 7 Foot” bizarrely finds Wayne rapping atop a killer track, “day o” sampling production that is instantly infectious from the first listen and the heartfelt, sensitive “how to Love” finds him out of character, though effectively. While it lacks some of the edge of its predecessor, tha Carter iV still packs a mean punch. [ bF ]

32 R.E.M.

COLLAPSE INTO NOW

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the cautionary album title, screaming with a flair of finality, flew past all our radars. although r.E.M. decided to end their 30-year saga abruptly, they didn’t rush to some throw together some dreadful collection loaded with incoherent band anarchy. the bittersweet folk-pop sendoffs on the album start to pile up with “Überlin” and “Walk it back.” then their alt-rock magic gets louder. and to cap their farewell, r.E.M. revs up the beatles rock on “alligator aviator autopilot antimatter.” instead of going for something totally revolutionary, stipe, Mills and buck stays true to form. [ JMC ]

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MARCH/APRIL 2012

J MatthEW Cobb, ryan burruss and brEnt FauLKnEr

REVELATOR

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From the very first downbeat on the Muscle shoals rhythm-sounding “Come see about Me,” this lively combo band – uniting husband/wife duo derek trucks and susan tedeschi – slow-cooks a sultry stew of southern comfort blues, sweaty soul and Lynyrd skynyrd funk. tedeschi is the main center of attention as she sanctifies “bound for glory” and stuffs aretha’s drown in My own tears” into “until you remember.” but this armed and dangerous band uses every trick in the book – from sassy horns to shredding guitar solos to exceptional songwriting – to pull off one of the most organic and soulful albums of the year. [ JMC ]

30 DURAN DURAN ALL YOU NEED IS NOW

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if rio needed a successor, this would’ve been the perfect candidate. Mark ronson’s careful culling of Eighties nu Wave and pop-dance aboard this valuable set reimagines the pretty boys of rock as an opulent alternative to top 40’s assembly-line synth-pop. you can easily hear the inspirations of “rio” aboard “blame the Machines” and musical footprints of “hungry Like the Wolf” in the title track. but some of duran duran’s finest moments come out of brilliant Eurodisco ditties like “safe” and “girl Panic.” Even on ballads like “Leave a Light on” and “before the rain,” duran duran bends our predictions with artsy avant-garde strokes. [ JMC ]


29 THE SOUNDS SOMETHING TO DIE FOR

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Coming off a string of less-inspired, youthful synth rock albums, sweden’s the sounds overhaul their sound with a shiny new electronica coat on their fourth studio release something to die For. While the familiar and sometimes juvenile rock songs are still present, they manage to be some of their best yet (“the best of Me”), but regardless, these are totally overshadowed by the new synth and dance beat-driven tracks like the fantastic intro pairing of “it’s so Easy” and “dance With the devil.” definitely a sign of good things to come for the band’s evolution. [ rb ]

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KELLY PRICE KELLY

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Kelly Price’s soulful aretha pipes have finally found the most appropriate outlet to resonate, thanks to Mint Condition contemporary soul (“not My daddy”), a delicious sample of War’s “galaxy” on “and you don’t stop” and a surprising Whitney moment (“the rain”). With lively r&b instrumentation and a delicate slab of producers helming the way, Kelly delivers the finest moments of her career. [ JMC ]

27

COLDPLAY MYLO XYLOTO

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stylistic evolution is a common thread for many of this year’s best albums, and Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto unquestionably makes that list, amounting to the biggest stylistic departure in their entire career. While the familiar lilting and somewhat folky melodies and instrumental textures are still there (“us against the World”), they’ve been bolstered by a bevy of synthesizers, r&b beats, samples (as in “Charlie brown”’s intro), and a guest appearance by rihanna. tracks like “hurts Like heaven” manage to fuse both styles effortlessly, pointing to a new age for the aging alt rockers. [ rb ]

26 WILCO THE OTHER LOVE

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reinvented and now on their own label, Wilco, led by Jeff tweedy, digs deeper into experimental folk-rock and unravels their wooziest country-fried psychedelic set to date. two lengthy performance songs bookend the other Love, but inside it the band chronicles the tug of war of love using otis reddingmeets-rolling stone rock n’ roll (“i Might”), lovelorn ballads (“i don’t wanna end this fight/goodbye,” tweedy sings on “sunloathe”) and bruno Mars“grenade” ideology on “open Mind.” [ JMC ]

25 BRITNEY SPEARS FEMME FATALE

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the former pop queen may have been dethroned by the new legion of electro queens like gaga, rihanna and Katy Perry, but britney spears reinforces her dominion in the pop kingdom with all the right elements and moves. Who cares if she can’t pull off the elements on a live stage and that this is clearly a producer’s record. With songs as naughty as “i Wanna go,” as adventurous as “Criminal” and as energetic as “til the World Ends,” the a-list of producers, including dr. Luke, Max Martin and stargate, team up to help put spears back where she belongs. [ JMC ]

24 TUNE-YARDS WHOKILL

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taking one listen to the sultry, dark tones of tune-yards’ Merrill garbus on their second LP WhoKiLL, it’s not uncommon to be surprised that she’s actually a nerdy middle-class white girl who happens to LoVE african music. beyond this gimmick, the album wows with its innovative, loop-heavy take on afro-beat (“the bizness” and “gangsta”) and an eclectic bit of avant hip-hop thrown in for good measure (“Es-so”). Even chill tracks like “Powa” resonate due to garbus’ powerfully emotive voice, making WhoKiLL one of this year’s biggest surprise breakthrough hits. [ rb ]


23 BOOKER T. JONES THE ROAD FROM MEMPHIS

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With ?uestlove on board, booker t. Jones regains his muse for stax soul-powered instrumentals and James brown funk on the road From Memphis. the roots, Jimmy Fallon’s house band, have been courteous enough to lay down their retro thunder on everyone’s albums, but this eleven-track set with the legendary organ master reveals some of their finest work to date. this is a fine groovy record spiced with pelvic thrusting originals, a dash of solid remakes and surprising cameos. only thing missing on this disc is the iconic stax soulfinger logo: hear “Progress,” where Jones and the band lays down a cool Philly groove with yim yames channeling his inner delfonic. [ JMC ]

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FOO FIGHTERS WASTING LIGHT

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in a year where rock did not always ‘rock hard’ or few acts truly excited, Foo Fighters made sure that Wasting Light was a consistent, hard-rocking and hard-hitting effort through the course of its eleven cuts. Easily trumping 2007’s Echoes, silence, Patience & grace, which was noted for “the Pretender,” Wasting Light is arguably the band’s strongest release to date. the guitars are overwrought, frontman dave grohl is more intense than ever, and everything seems to fall into place. [ bF ]

21

IRON & WINE KISS EACH OTHER CLEAN

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another artist to unexpectedly evolve this year is iron & Wine’s samuel beam, who on Kiss Each other Clean bolstered his typically sparse folk instrumentation from previous efforts with a whole band, including electric guitars, atypical percussion instruments, and synthesizers. Vocally repetitive songs like the bookending “Walking Far From home” and “your Fake name is good Enough For Me” invoke smilingly pensive, almost trancelike states, while tracks like “tree by the river” offer up the kind of upbeat ballads of the early 70’s, which with the modern synthesizers effectively take listeners on a historical journey of stylistic eras. [ bF ]

top selling albums of 2011

20 WARREN HAYNES MAN IN MOTION

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on the gov’t Mule frontman’s 2011 disc, it wasn’t a surprise to hear him doing the honors of cutting a raw, gutsy set ripe with shimmering guitar solos and extended instrumental jam sessions. he’s been down this avenue many times, particularly on his live sets, but Man in Motion strokes his rock ego a little harder using unbridled soul power, thunderous horns and fiery powerhouse vocals – from his gospel-pickled “river’s gonna rise” to his almighty title cut, which spawns a Jack daniels-spiked juke joint jam session for the books. and he seals his bravado with the opening statement: “Love of the game, thrill of the chase/it’s only eight seconds but you live for the ride.” [ JMC ]

19 RAPHAEL SAADIQ STONE ROLLIN’

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raphael saadiq’s stone rollin’ may have lacked the commercial edge of many of its urban companion efforts, but critically, the soul effort outclassed almost all of its contemporaries. saadiq fine tunes and hones in on his retro-soul sound to create a natural throwback soul effort laden with strings, horns, and most cleverly mellotron. actually, he never sounded grittier than he has on this classic retro-soul release. [ bF ]

18 JAY-Z & KANYE WEST WATCH THE THRONE

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in a year where high-level standout rap releases took center stage, Jay-z and Kanye West experienced very little competition. unsurprisingly, the two hiphop giants easily delivered with the finely crafted Watch the throne. Loaded with hits from the understated, mysterious opener “no Church in the Wild,” to the passionate, braggadocio of “n***as in Paris” to the otis redding sampling “otis,” Watch the throne lives up to the hype, delivering nothing short of a solid effort from two of hip-hop’s most renowned emcees. [ bF ]

sourCE: niELsEn soundsCan

1 adele; 21 (XL recordings) 5.8 million 2 Michael buble; Christmas (reprise) 2.5 million 3 Lady gaga; born this Way (interscope) 2.1 million

4 Lil Wayne; tha Carter iV (young Money) 1.9 million 5 Jason aldean; My Kinda Party (broken boy) 1.6 million 6 Mumford & sons; sigh no More (glassnote) 1.4 million


17 THE STROKES ANGLES

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Marred with band drama and a bundle of solo albums to help feed their musical appetites, the strokes faces an uphill battle in trying to work together as a team and the clever assignment to match their ground-breaking garage-rock revival debut is this it. their fourth disc, angles felt like a hit-and-miss to some, but the new york band found an accessible pathway to make all the bullshit work. it rumbled through excavations of Eighties art rock (“Machu Picchu,” “games”), Cars-esque nu Wave (“two Kinds of happiness”) and thin Lizzy rock (“gratisfication”). the band pulls off satisfying performances with “taken for a Fool” and the rock radio-ready lead single “under Cover of darkness,” while frontman Julian Casablancas uses his woozy Jim Morrison-inspired vocals to walk in front and then behind the spicy guitars and menacing drums. needless to say, angles is a positive footnote in the band’s career, even if they are on the verge of collapse. it’s one of those albums that sound alright at first and then it grows on you with each listen. [ JMC ]

16 YACHT

SHANGRI-LA

STATE COWS STATE COWS

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sweden powerband state Cows are a little bit of toto and a lot of steely dan. thankfully, the band - who started out as a steely dan tribute band - pulls off the contemporary jazz-pop fusion on their self-titled debut. Without going for cheesy soul-pop, state Cows pull off gaucho blueprints (“Lost in a Mind game,” “new york town”), energetic rock ‘n soul (“stella by the barlight”) and breezy West Coast aC (“Come to the Point”). [ JMC ]

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M83

HURRY UP, WE’RE DREAMING

drake; take Care (Cash Money) 1.3 million Justin bieber; under the Mistletoe (reprise) 1.3 million

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as easily the most adventurous vocal electronic album of the year, M83‘s twodisc journey through the dream world offers some of the best indie electronic songs and instrumentals of the year, marking a milestone for the French group. any given track from one disc is beautifully represented in mirror form on the other, giving the album an unparalleled sense of unity. highlights include the head-bopping “Midnight City,” the energetic anthem “steve McQueen,” the somber solitude of “splendor.” these cuts along with the instrumental tracks abound to make the whole experience a touching journey unlike any other this year. [ rb ]

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adapting their quirky indie dance style into a post-utopian disco concept album probably wasn’t the first thing yaCht fans were expecting of the duo, but the results are stellar, as shangri-La is a marked improvement over their previous album see Mystery Lights. While some tracks diverge from the heavenly theme, the strongest cuts stay true to the concept, so be it the utopian party of “i Walked alone,” the controlled anarchy of “dystopia (the Earth is on Fire)” or the celebratory “shangri-La,” yaCht’s 2011 LP is the rare disco ride that truly rewards repeated listening. [ rb ]

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14 13 LADY GAGA BORN THIS WAY

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born this Way may have lacked some of the initial shock of Lady gaga’s debut the Fame, but it certainly didn’t hurt the ubiquitous pop chanteuse from penning another fascinating set of songs. this round, the songwriting deeply oscillates between messages of empowerment, with songs like the anthemic “born this Way” and the inspiring “the Edge of glory,” which is quickly becoming a newly inducted favorite at sporting events. she even shows off the true depth of her vocal range on “yoü and i.” [ bF ]

12 BLACK KEYS EL CAMINO

k

after surmounting their success with brothers, the ohio twosome responded with a follow-up album fueled with much of the muscular alt-rock that turned fans on to them. and without pulling off a retread of the same, dan auerbach and Patrick Carney hammer down grittier garage rock performances, framed by hypnotic choruses and rolling stone rhythms. Certainly the beatles-meets-hawaii Five-o lead single, “Lonely boy,” opens the festivities, but “gold on the Ceiling,” “nova baby” and the stax shuffle of “Mind Eraser” keeps party-goers standing on their feet. although El Camino doesn’t possess enough technical might to beguile those away from brothers, it still feels like the most perfect sequel. [ rb ]

9

Jay-z & Kanye West; Watch the throne (roc-a-Fella/def Jam) 1.2 million

10 Lady antebellum; own the night (Capitol nashville) 1.2 million


11 DRAKE TAKE CARE

k

in a year flooded with a number of standout hip-hop/rap releases, drake’s restrained, moody take Care easily takes top honors. drake croons and raps in ‘stream-of-conscious’ fashion throughout the enjoyable effort. oscillating through the contemporary r&b vibes of “take a shot For Me” and contrasting with over rap performances on the rick ross assisted “Lord Knows,” take Care is easily one of the year’s highlights. [ bF ]

10 GOTYE

MAKING MIRRORS

k

the third LP from australian songwriter gotye, Making Mirrors, is the kind of indie pop fusion album that resonates despite its instantly familiar elements, likely due to superb production craftsmanship and some superbly hidden sampling. styles range widely here: there are sting-like moments (“Eyes Wide open”), 60’s-era pop tunes (“i Feel better”), Chromeo-esque vocoder slow jams (“state of the art”) and subtle electronica (“smoke and Mirrors”). above all though is the single “somebody that i used to Know,” adding up to one of the year’s best indie pop albums. [ rb ]

9

HOT CHELLE RAE WHATEVER

k

nashville boy-band hot Chelle rae takes the bread and butter of the backstreet boys along with the funk of Maroon 5 and squeezes it into a never-ending top 40 playlist on their eye-opening sophomore disc. so don’t worry if you’re losing optimism if they can pull of the perfect follow-up to “tonight tonight.” there’s so much more where that came from: Listen to the teenrebel pop of the title track and “i Like it Like that,” where they fire up their hip-pop swagger without sounding like “the white kids.” [ JMC ]

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BJORK BIOPHILIA

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While experimental albums may not be everyone’s preference, björk’s latest effort biophilia is eerie, creative, and cerebral. the concept captures elements of biology and the cosmos through one compiled suite-like soundtrack made up of individual tone poems. although the songs serve more as sound palettes as opposed to traditional records, biophilia benefits from its mysterious diversity. [ bF ]

7 FLEET FOXES HELPLESSNESS BLUES

k

aboard helplessness blues, Fleet Foxes’ band leader robin Pecknold uses dreamy psychedelic folk and brushstrokes to create a sinewy canvas of paranoiac activity laced with lyrical sorrow and confusion. the mood change is quite a shift for the seattle baroque pop band, but it’s one that never feels painful or outdated. With the inclusion of Pecknold’s self-analyzing poetry and the heart piercing beach boy-influenced harmonies, the disc glows like a long lost artifact from the Paul simon-sgt. Pepper era. [ JMC ]

6

FLORENCE + THE MACHINE CEREMONIALS

k

an album characterized by its mix of pop, indie-rock, and soul, Ceremonials is easily one of 2011’s most special efforts. the LP, a surprising and unexpected gem, is incredibly consistent and polished from start to finish, ceding no filler material whatsoever. Lead singer Florence Welch delivers nothing short of nuanced vocal performances and mature, clever songwriting. Well produced and well engineered, Ceremonials is nothing short of a winner. [ bF ]


5 BON IVER BON IVER

k

taking his penchant for softer timbres, high pitched melodies, and intimate lyrics to a new level by adding adventurous yet simple electronic textures and other instrumental effects, bon iver’s eponymous sophomore album manages to walk that fine line of evolving whilst minimizing the loss of fans of his sparser material. From the subtly energetic “Minnesota, Wi,” and the electronic pulsations of “hinnom, tX” to the 80’s synth-laden and Phil Collinsesque closer “beth/rest,” bon iver adds up to one of the most sublime albums of the year, raising expectations even higher for the Midwest’s shining folk star. [ rb ]

4

CHILDISH GAMBINO CAMP

k

the most underappreciated and surprising debut this year, Childish gambino’s Camp managed to outshine every other mainstream hip-hop recording this year with its perfect combination of strong vocal delivery, clever pop culture allusions, and producer Ludwig göransson’s stellar backing tracks. Whether it be the aggressive Justice-esque “heartbeat,” the dance-along vibe of “sunrise” or the intimate r&b track “all the shine,” Camp stays strong throughout and never lets up. sure, it’s inspired by the likes of Kanye and drake, but when you manage to one-up the big boys, haters will be sure to follow. [ rb ]

3

PAUL SIMON SO BEAUTIFUL OR SO WHAT

k

so beautiful or so What, arguably Paul simon’s best album in over two decades, stands out as an epiphany. Most will compare the work with graceland on first listen, but listen deeply to the experimental sampling of rev. J.M. gates on “getting ready for Christmas day,” which feels like a mid-Eighties Prince throwaway. or listen to “the afterlife,” where its oblique folk storytelling about afterlife politics (“buddha and Moses and all the noses from narrow to flat/had to stand in the line, just to glimpse the divine”) intertwines with upbeat cheerful melodies. he’s also invigorated with african music and odd instruments like the glockenspiel and angklung. he even goes for the jugular by challenging religious traditions without looking like the antiChrist. you need big cajones to do that. [ JMC ]

2 ..

MY MORNING JACKET CIRCUITAL

k

Continuing on their journey to elevate southern rock to proggier heights while also retaining a strong sense of accessibility, My Morning Jacket’s sixth studio album Circuital is the kind of album that’s got something for virtually everyone, from cute piano driven numbers (“the day is Coming”) and sentimental ballads like “Wonderful (the Way i Feel)” to the expected prog intro “Victory dance” and the quirky tongue-in-cheek 60’s era “holdin’ on to black Metal.” add to this an impressive sense of timing from track to track, and you’ve got a classic album, regardless of genre. [ rb ] arguably the year’s best alternative showing, Circuital finds My Morning Jacket delivering an effort that the band can easily take a “victory dance” on. the tight ten-track disc is consistent from top to bottom and finds the band experimenting with rock and even soul sensibilities. the songwriting is smart, the production and instrumental arrangements are fine-tuned and impressive, and frontman yim yames’s vocals are as polished as ever. [ bF ]

1 ADELE 21

k

Very rarely will you find an album that crosses a wide variety of audiences and sound so good. adele’s 21 is the rare album that accomplishes this feat. the british singer/songwriter is the right mix of soul, finesse, and youth. Jampacked with songs of love and heartbreak such as “rolling in the deep,” “turning tables,” and “someone Like you,” 21 is easily 2011’s biggest, finest, and most impacting effort, no questions asked. [ bF ]

oh, don’t be surprised. adele’s alternative approach of southern soul and her mesh of americana folk and pop, highlighted by career-defining performances of “rolling in the deep” and “someone Like you,” had america believing in ballads and authentic soul music again. and it’s quite ironic that adele conquered a number of firsts. as the underdog, she broke past the conventions of the tight organization of the music industry and whizzed past the record sales of gaga, drake, Lil Wayne and bey. the most beautiful thing about it all: she didn’t have to take her clothes off to have a good time. any “best-of-2011” list without adele’s 21 on the list needs to be tormented by the grim reaper. [ JMC ]

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k top

COVER STORY the glitzy strobelights of gaga, dev, britney and rihanna dominated the top 40 radio in 2011, but that wasn’t all that stood out amongst the pack. adele’s bluesy soul and Foster the People’s unexpected breakout hit changed the rules of the game.

singles

of 2011

as always, you can count on hiFi to bring together all the year’s best released singles - whether it’s a radio sensation, a digitial download or a quiet sleeper. by

45

“IN THE DARK”

44

“MIRACLE WORKER”

DEV the britney sleaze and glam-disco, found on this nineties’ Latin house-inspired jam, enforces the rule that good dance music is normally a producer’s playground.

SUPERHEAVY somehow the gumbo of Mick Jagger’s drunkard vocals, Joss stone’s saucy pipes and damian Marley’s reggae urgency works here.

He’s NOT HeaVY , He’s MY BROTHeR Marley, stewart, Jagger, Rahman and stone team up as new supergroup superHeavy

J MatthEW Cobb and brEnt FauLKnEr

43

“TONIGHT TONIGHT”

42

“DON’T PLAY NO GAME THAT I CAN’T WIN”

HOT CHELLE RAE “there’s a party on the rooftop top of the world,” sings ryan Follesé, on what should have been the summer anthem of 2011. oh well, there’s always new years’ day.

BEASTIE BOYS FEAT. SANTIGOLD With santigold going in-and-out like a new age-Lauryn hill, the beasties showcase more of their delectable hip-hop innovation across smart Caribbean beats fueled with Fugees swagger.

41

“THANK YOU”

40

“OTIS”

39

“WOO”

ESTELLE using a Mary J sweetening and a sade softness, the brit soul singer pulls off one the year’s major sleepers in r&b.

JAY-Z & KANYE WEST “h.a.M.” received mixed reviews from fans as Watch the throne was being promoted, but the “try a Little tenderness” sampling “otis” was an instant hit and easily one of the most memorable tracks of 2011. Jay-z and Kanye West are on fire from the onset and never cease throughout the three minute duration. [ bF ]

ANTHONY HAMILTON aboard an al green-esque retro groove, anthony hamilton – a good southern church boy still wrestling with matters of the flesh – finds a clever way to get around saying “hot damn” over a sexy brickhouse.


38 37

“SURE THING” MIGUEL While Miguel’s single “Quickie” leaves little to the imagination, the refined “sure thing” keeps chivalrous intentions alive. the overall timbre of the cut is understated with Miguel restraining his vocals to deliver perhaps the year’s most impassioned r&b cut. [ bF ]

“GETTING READY FOR CHRISTMAS DAY”

33

“I MIGHT”

32

“TURNING TABLES”

31

“ÜBERLIN”

30

“WE FOUND LOVE”

29 28

“THE WORLD AS I SEE IT”

27

“IF I DIE YOUNG”

26

“DOMINO”

PAUL SIMON Paul simon sampling? hell yeah, it’s happening. but instead of going for obscure ‘70’s records and timeless Muzak treats, he digs up a rev. J.M. gates’ Christmas sermon on a 78 rpm disc and creates one heck of a rhythmic message song without summoning the jingle bells.

36

“BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE”

35

“UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS”

34

CHRIS BROWN FEAT. BENNY BENASSI a portal of ubiquitous Eurodisco and electro-pop loaded with strobe-lit beats and benny benassi’s cool pipes. Without worrying about alienating his urban r&b crowd, Chris brown pulls off his most confident and sultry single to date.

THE STROKES atop a rollicking top 40 rock n’ roll shuffle, Julian Casablancas attacks this song with a kind of precision and grungy crooner magic that rejuvenates itself and never grows tired.

“MAKE ME PROUD” DRAKE FEAT. NICKI MINAJ drake’s ear for top 40 hip-hop is in full effect here, but nicki Minaj’s cameo eclipses drake’s World with more of that Pink Friday razzmatazz.

2011’s best-selling singles sourCE: niELsEn soundsCan

1

aDeLe “Rolling in the Deep”

2

LMFaO feat. LauReN BeNNeTT & GOONROCK “Party Rock anthem”

3

KaTY PeRRY feat. KaNYe WesT “e.T.”

4

MaROON5 feat. CHRIsTINa aGuILeRa “Moves Like Jagger”

5

PITBuLL feat. Ne-YO, aFROJaCK and NaYeR “Give Me everything”

6

FOsTeR THe PeOPLe “Pumped up Kicks”

7

aDeLe “someone Like You”

8

Cee LO GReeN “F**k You (Forget You)”

9

NICKI MINaJ “super Bass”

10

LaDY GaGa “Born This Way”

5.81 5.46 4.82 4.11 3.88 3.84 3.75 3.72 3.60 3.48

WILCO if “i Can’t get no satisfaction” needed a soul sister, Wilco just penned it. despite its “piss and blood” and “kids on fire” idioms, the song travels the road of a feel-good rock n’ soul pop record.

ADELE What can be said, it was adele’s year, hands down. “turning tables” received less notoriety than “rolling in the deep” or “someone Like you,” but was performed with just as much raw, heartfelt emotion. the production is superb, absent of drums with the piano part (a la “hometown glory”) serving as the sole percussive backdrop and strings adding lushness to the overall timbre. Vintage in sound yet relevant in message, “turning tables” appeals to all ages. [ bF ]

R.E.M. despite the ubiquity of Michael stipe’s otherworldly lyrics, the calming folk-rock gem of “Überlin” gives us comfort in knowing that our imaginations can soar past the prison of our realities. “i will make it through the day...and the night,” stipe sings, on what perhaps was r.E.M.’s way of waving goodbye. somehow there’s more to this song than meets the eye.

RIHANNA FEAT. CALVIN HARRIS as addictive as any of rihanna’s offerings, “We Found Love” ends up being the perfect match for a singer who excels in the area of ‘catchy’ records. Written and produced by Calvin harris, the production is driving, helping to propel rihanna easily to a lengthy stay at #1 on the pop charts. [ bF ]

JASON MRAZ Mraz uses Einstein physics and robin thicke soul to work up his loveliest mid-tempo love ballad to date.

“DOWN BY THE WATER” THE DECEMBERISTS With all the americana and neil young-like harmonica floating in the background, you can easily hear the benefits of r.E.M’s “the one i Love” all on this number, creating one nice blend of country and folk-pop.

THE BAND PERRY on one of the more cryptic songs of 2011, the band Perry has no problem looking at death with a slight smile. “Funny when you’re dead how people start listenin,” lead vocalist Kimberly Perry outlines.

JESSIE J it’s so easy to believe this could have been a Katy Perry single. on this non-album single, Jessie J switches her style for Perry’s jubilant bubblegum soul. as bothered we were in hearing another Katy sound-a-like, “domino” on this bubbling pop star seems to be quite forgivable.


25 24 23

“MARVIN’S ROOM” DRAKE there was a reason so many artist wanted to cover drake’s promo single “Marvin’s room” - it was entirely different from everything else on radio. Perfecting the introspective tone that has reared it head in hip-hop, noah ’40’ shebib’s production is at its minimalistic best, while drake delivers a powerful lyrical punch despite his restrained, yet honest performance. [ bF ]

“FREE” GRAFFITI6 the London duo, made up of singer-songwriter Jamie scott and producer tommyd, offers up a sweet selection that collects bubbly pop-rock melodies, Motown bass and a brassy coat of british soul. When scott goes for the chorus, belting out a contagious “set me free baby,” he delivers the kind of warm, transparent emotion that makes records turn golden.

“IT WILL RAIN” BRUNO MARS “it Will rain” doesn’t flow like the previous bulk of singles of bruno Mars. it has a definite edginess to it; a phobia that shivers with creepy paranoia and a much starker dispensation than “grenade” (“if you ever leave me baby/Leave some morphine at my door”). but it’s when Mars shoots a cupid arrow at the twilight crowd where the song’s darkness becomes the green light on his ability to make great pop records: “i’ll never be your mother’s favorite/your daddy can’t even look me in the eye.”

22

“LONELY BOY”

21

“THE SHOW GOES ON”

20

“WINDOWS ARE ROLLED DOWN”

19

“BEST THING I NEVER HAD”

18

“CARDIAC ARREST”

17

“TIL THE WORLD ENDS”

16 15

“TAKEN FOR A FOOL”

14

“COME SEE ABOUT ME”

13

“BORN THIS WAY”

12

“EVERY TEARDROP IS A WATERFALL”

11

“MOTIVATION”

THE BLACK KEYS With three minutes in total, the black Keys tosses the right moves into their lead single off of El Camino for a fantastic retro workout: rolling stones blues, buddy holly boogie and the classic “feel sorry for me” lyric.

LUPE FIASCO With a smart sample from Modest Mouse’s “Float on,” Lupe Fiasco spits out the caliber of rhymes that boost his street cred and raises his Kanye pop power.

AMOS LEE across a lyrical spectrum of grey skies, amos Lee beams his optimism through the eyes of country-side cruisin’. “Corn rows have companion feel/this rocky road and this steering wheel,” the singer-songwriter sings, after being absorbed in rustic americana.

’ BEYONCE

BRITNEY SPEARS Ke$ha had already created the bedrock for britney’s comeback club anthem using “blow.” it was a damn good dance record, but “til the World Ends” was far better.

THE STROKES strokes of genius! Funky nu Wave rock grips this melodic number by its cusp and swings it around like an immortal ‘80’s pop record.

“KEEP YOUR HEAD UP” ANDY GRAMMER Feel-good sunshiny pop done with a crisp of delightful charity. Even with all the summer hits engaging in the overuse of the “ohh” chants on the chorus, this one tends to sneak on the brain like a feelgood “a-ha” moment.

TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND a gutsy bonnie riatt-looking fire protruding through a haze of Memphis soul and delta blues: that’s how you best describe this display of dazzling horns, King Curtis gospel organ blasts alongside derek trucks and susan tedeschi’s guitar spasms.

LADY GAGA Channeling a mix between classic Madonna, neo-disco and modern pop, “born this Way” was unsurprisingly a number one hit. Perhaps not as definitive as gaga’s ubiquitous “Poker Face” or “bad romance,” “born this Way’s” clear message of empowerment and tolerance for people of all different lifestyles spoke volumes to audiences of all ages. [ bF ]

COLDPLAY atmospheric arena-rock takes center-stage again. With a little bit of Kings of Leon-esque guitar sparkles and u2 surreal dynamics, the song finds a charm that works it way across all genre aisles.

KELLY ROWLAND FEAT. LIL WAYNE in a year where rowland found herself once again competing with beyoncé, rowland’s understated, yet sexy “Motivation” easily won the battle. From a cursory listen, “Motivation” ruffles little feathers, but with successive listens, the greatness of the cut easily unfurls just like a rose. Lil Wayne further adds a lift making “Motivation” the rap/sung collaboration of the year to beat. [ bF ]

With babyface added to the co-writing task, beyoncé shells out another one of those “irreplaceable/halo” anthems. this time, the ethereal timelessness is wrapped around a bruce hornsby-sounding piano and climatic gospel belting.

TEDDYBEARS FEAT. ROBYN With a little black Eyed Peas’ disco and blondie pop-rock, robyn gives birth to a new kind of new-gen Madonna dance music.

RaPPeR’s DeLIGHT Drake’s woozy euphoric hip-hop keeps our attention.


10 9 8 7

“ALL I WANT IS YOU” MIGUEL FEAT. J. COLE two unknowns in r&b and hip-hop made their way to the front of the pack with this dreamy roots-y salaam remi-produced track.

3

“THE EDGE OF GLORY” LADY GAGA as donna summer disco mounts over Lakewood worship music, “the Edge of glory” – a composition originally penned as a tribute to Lady gaga’s deceased grandfather – stood out as one of 2011’s finest moments to impact radio. When gaga mired the song to an intimate acoustic performance, the song proved gaga didn’t need all the glitzy gimmicks.

“SHAKE IT OFF” FLORENCE + THE MACHINE

FOSTER THE PEOPLE this tune snuck up on us like a creepy assassin with a vendetta. We should have expected that, especially when the low-fi pop/rock tune by the emerging L.a. trio is all about some gun-toting school student having some deranged beef with kids wearing “pumped up kicks.” it’s a disturbing chapter for pop music, especially with the recent rise of kids taking their gears of War philosophy to classrooms, but it’s a song that’s charming nevertheless.

6

“N***AS IN PARIS”

5

“GOOD LIFE”

4

“PARADISE”

JAY-Z & KANYE WEST Perhaps the year’s most braggadocios cut of the year, “n***as in Paris” shines through its unquestionably arrogant, self-assured tone as one of most memorable hip-hop cuts of 2011. Jay-z and Kanye West seem to be on ‘autopilot,’ rattling off one conceited, confident rhyme after another, capping the cut off with “you are now watching the throne.” [ bF ]

ADELE With only a sparse piano, adele serenades like only she can. during the intimate moment, she belts the finale of a failed relationship. unlike “rolling in the deep,” where she goes hard on her brokenness, she finds enough strength to “wish nothing but the best for you.” [ JMC ] “someone Like you” gave singer adele her second number one hit of the year. it contrasts the pounding four-on-the-floor beat of “rolling in the deep” in favor of piano accompaniment supporting the singer’s strong, nuanced lead vocals. [ bF ]

2

“SHAKE ME DOWN”

1

“ROLLING IN THE DEEP”

Like an annie Lennox attacking a pipe-organ gospel hymn (“it’s always darkest before the dawn”), Florence Welch digs a hole in the devil’s cranium (“and it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off”). thankfully, it’s not crammed with an overload of preachyness or religious politics. that’s because the whole tale is about getting delivered from a bad-ass hangover. oh, how clever.

“PUMPED UP KICKS”

“SOMEONE LIKE YOU”

CAGE THE ELEPHANT this thought-provoking rock ballad does a fine job dissecting the dynamics in the finality of life’s uncertainty: aging, fear of isolation and the quest to find a resolve for expedient peace. With pouncing percussion flowing like a rush of adrenaline to the heart and the fear of death looming over all our heads, the lyrics of “shake Me down” point to a relieving silver lining: “Even on a cloudy day, i’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun.”

ADELE Well produced, written, and performed with nothing short of vigor and soul-laden conviction, “rolling in the deep” is the best song of 2011, easily. adele’s passion is easily discernible from the initial line (“there’s a fire...”) to the song’s peak as she sings nearing spiritual conviction: “We could of had it all, rolling in the deep.” [ bF ] With a menacing blues guitar and gospel choir inflections, adele finds a way to fight through the hell of a fractious irreparable relationship. rather than mellowing in “Love the Way you Lie” scorn, she fights through the pain: “see how i leave with every piece of you/don’t underestimate the things that i will do.” Clearly this is the “respect” of our generation, except this one seriously takes care of business. [ JMC ]

ONEREPUBLIC taken from their 2009 album, the single bubbled up as the middleage alternative to LMFao’s summer smash “Party rock anthem.” Even though the song proved it had centipede legs in the world of licensing, the song uses Coldplay-ish auras, feel-good whistles and a sing-a-long chorus to create its mental bookmark in the minds of those who managed to live through 2011 (“We are god of stories but please tell me/What there is to complain about?”).

COLDPLAY r&b beats, serenading strings and an angelic chorus decorate Coldplay’s fiercest shot at top 40 royalty yet. not only did they manage to create such a mystical thing; they succeeded in their endeavors, almost eclipsing the might of 2008’s “Viva la Vida.”

ROLLING DeePeR adele pulls off the year’s fiercest breakup anthem.


reviews

43 Coldplay 44 blink-182 44 David Guetta 44 Mayer Hawthorne 45 Tony Bennett 45 Cobra Starship 45 Rihanna 45 Red Hot Chili Peppers 46 Lil Wayne 46 311 46 Michael Jackson 46 They Might Be Giants 47 Hot Chelle Rae 47 State Cows 47 Joe Jonas 47 Le’Andria Johnson 49 Jay-Z & Kanye West 49 Gabe Dixon 49 J. Cole 49 Daryl Hall 50 Jason Derülo 50 Yelle 50 YACHT 51 Taking Back Sunday 51 Amy Winehouse 51 Black Keys 53 Theophilius London 53 Florence + the Machine 53 Lady Antebellum 53 Bon Iver 55 2011 Holiday Album Roundup 59 2011 Box Set Roundup

XOXOXO FOR MYLO Brit alt-rock band pulls off poppiest record yet with surprising results

d

espite the large amount of resources and inspiration they had undoubtedly gained over the past decade, british alt rock band Coldplay took few stylistic risks with each of their previous four albums, so it was a safe bet that seven grammys’ worth of positive reinforcement would only perpetuate this trend going into their fifth album, Mylo Xyloto. Fortunately for the sake of progress, Coldplay had other plans: instead of crafting yet another set of melancholic, lilting soft rock songs with the same instrumentation and their trademark hint of british folk styles, Mylo Xyloto introduces modern synthesizer lines, hip-hop-influenced beats, occasional sampling, and a more upbeat vibe to their estab-

lished formula, resulting in a mashup-like mélange certain to polarize the public at large and diehard fans alike. yes, Mylo Xyloto still sounds like Coldplay, but depending on perspective, either comes off as the band trying too hard to be relevant in today’s market, or as their admission that their talents were being progressively less tapped each time they failed to reinvent themselves. Purportedly intended as a concept album (though the concept itself is often lost in the fray), Mylo Xyloto features eleven full-length tracks with three brief instrumental electronic segues, but if nothing else, the LP feels unified simply due to the presence of synthesizers on nearly every track. there is however the occasional quiet acoustic moment, such as the tracks

“u.F.o.,” the intro to the album closer “up with the birds,” and the touching “us against the World,” with its lovely rolling refrains. the bulk of the songs though are upbeat electronic-fused numbers like the opener “hurts Like heaven,” with its springsteen-like backbeat, and the lead single “Every teardrop is a Waterfall,” with steady kick drums and an optimistic disposition. the album’s biggest surprise is its guest spot by r&b star rihanna on the track “Princess of China,” which though interesting, fails to reiterate its catchiest moment, a big chorus that’s later supplanted by the intro material. other standout moments include the peppy instrumental refrain found in “Charlie brown,” featuring a truncated rhythmic feel for variety, and

COLDPLAY Mylo Xyloto (Capitol/Parlophone)

{ } RECORD RATING

kkkkk Classic kkkk Excellent kkk Good kk Fair k Poor

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// REVIEWS //

the “could-have-been” album closer “up in Flames,” a somber piano-driven number atop an r&b beat that is surprisingly followed by two additional uptempo tracks, mostlikely due to the album’s supposed concept. hate it or love it, Mylo Xyloto is unquestionably a wellproduced album with a lot to offer regarding the songwriting itself: if one has a hard time getting past its faddish trappings, they need only picture the songs without the synthesizers and beats to realize that this new Coldplay is at its core, just a cosmetic makeover. yet, for those that found Coldplay’s style quickly growing stale, this could be all that was needed to reinvigorate their appreciation for the band. regardless, it’s good to see the guys mixing it up a bit, so here’s hoping this spirit of reinvention is the beginning of things to come. ryan burruss

SPIN THIS! “hurts Like heaven,” “Charlie brown” “us against the World”

BLINK-182 Neighborhoods (Reprise)

Following their 2003's self-titled debut, a reunited blink-182 returns with the 2011 LP neighborhoods. the punk band that “stay[ed] together for the kids” have returned older and wiser, and for the most part, so has their audience. although there’s nothing like "dammit (growing up)" or "all the small things" aboard this round, that’s no longer the expectation for these mid-late thirty-somethings: neighborhoods is still signature blink-182. despite their evolving sound, blink-182 does a pretty good job incorporating their illustrious, angst-filled past with some of the experimentation of their alternative-rock and respective side products (angels & airwaves and +44). the opener "ghost on the dance Floor" benefits from a typical blink-182 treatment - a harmonic progression and a catchy chorus. travis barker's pummeling drums are instantly recognizable, and the band enhances its distinct sound with some lovely string synths. the next cut, "natives," keeps the tempo accelerated capably complementing

“ghost on the dance Floor.” "natives" finds the band sneaking in the 'f-bomb' during the wordy, but memorable refrain. First single "up all night" keeps the listeners engaged by opening with intense production work that finally settles into a traditional punk-pop cut. as always, the songwriting structure is perfect, following a sequence of verse, pre-chorus, chorus, etc. blink-182 starts of 3-0 as far as 'winning' cuts. "after Midnight" is more standard fare than preceding cuts but just as solid. on the deluxe edition the band follows it up with "snake Charmer" and "heart's all gone interlude." "snake Charmer" is one of the more experimental cuts, possibly prompting its appearance as a bonus cut. "heart's all gone" appears in full fruition with a ferocious sound archetypical of the punk-revivalist movement. "Wishing Well" eclipses its predecessor, yielding a pre-chorus that opens on neutral vocal syllables - very clever and simple. the driving bass line and complex percussive groove are selling points. "Kaleidoscope" is less exciting than previous cuts and more 'mysterious.' "this is home" is a b+ at best, despite the brevity of the cut. on the positive side, a few 'f-bombs' make it, well, blink-182. "Mh 4.18.2011" is forgettable when compared against the first couple of tracks, but the band rebounds on closing standard edition cut "Love is dangerous." the deluxe edition tacks on two additional cuts at the end "Fighting gravity" - the better of the two - and "Even if she Falls." overall, neighborhoods is a solid comeback effort from the trio with a couple of average cuts towards the end. sure the band is past their angst-laden peak, but there is no reason for concern releasing an album of this quality, particularly after an eight-year hiatus. brEnt FauLKnEr

SPIN THIS! "ghost on the dance Floor," "natives," "up all night," "after Midnight"

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crossover from nightlife to bright life. guetta earned major attention after producing the black Eyed Peas’ millionseller “i gotta Feeling,” and has been building up his repertoire using Kelly rowland, Fergie and akon cameos. on his fifth disc nothing but the beat, he isn’t changing the face of his normal electro house routine, but has slightly bent the rules by incorporating atmospheric arena-ready rock into the clubland layouts. the usher-featured “Without you” – guetta’s successful take at blending strobelight ecstasy and glimpses of aC balladry – feels like Coldplay in the hands of tiesto. in other places, guetta works his sound around the bigger personalities. nicki Minaj utilizes her multiple personality swagger on “Where them girls at,” overshadowing almost every rhyme sporting Flo rida. Minaj emerges again on “turn Me on,” where she pulls off britney spears five times better than, umm, britney spears. as one of the album’s major surprises, an electro-enhanced snoop dogg sings his way through “sweat,” a song that somehow puts him in the same vocal class of will.i.am. What gets in the way of guetta getting what he wants on the disc is the unfair accreditation that comes with this kind of top-billing. guetta’s dance-floor production is made possible with the help of a superteam of electronic underclass men (including afrojack and black raw) and starpower vocalists that is equally aggressive in nabbing the spotlight. aside from the technical gripe from the inside, you have uptempo tracks that easily become identified as last-minute album filler. With a little disco 101, the Jessie J-guested “repeat” would’ve sparkled beyond its robotic pop and the Jennifer hudson-anchored “night of your Life” might have channeled some of Loleatta holloway’s gospel-honed workouts without sounding like a desperate clone of rihanna’s “only girl (in the World).” J MatthEW Cobb

SPIN THIS! "Without you,” “turn Me on”

DAVID GUETTA Nothing But The Beat (Reprise)

today’s superproducers are seriously hungry for the stardom and French deejay david guetta, one of the major players in dance-pop, has been eyeing the opportunity to

SOUL SURVIVOR Blue-eyed soul wonder finds his swagger on second neo-retro disc

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otown apprentice and vinyl geek Mayer hawthorne, still dressed in his buddy holly get-up, is turning up the volume on his old-school revival. he’s definitely not alone in the r&b retreats (hello duffy, John Legend, bruno Mars, the roots and raphael saadiq), and he isn’t the strongest leader in the bunch due to his timid mediocre vocals, but he’s the most proficient in churning up synchronized Motown and Chicago soul. on his highly-anticipated sophomore LP (and his first on a major label) how do you do, hawthorne beefs up his confidence, puts a little more hip in hop (rapper snoop dogg demonstrates a very stunning vocal on “Can’t stop”) and plays with a more organized lively palette of groove-oriented r&b, versus the commercial pop that oversaturated his debut a strange arrangement. as a pro bono to hawthrone’s credit, he lifts the advantages off of his first record– being the Curtis Mayfield soul and Vandella shuffles – and plants them directly on round 2. “the Walk” is an instant hit, even if it leans too heavily on tommy James’s “Crystal blue Persuasion” and overexerts the pep in his step using Cee Lo graffiti (“but your shitty f**king attitude got me changing my mind”). there’s a bundle of decent tracks on board, although they aren’t sensational hall & oates-sounding standouts. “Finally Falling,” a very well-crafted track and the closest to screaming for a daryl hall cameo, plays with dobbie brother soul while “a Long time” feels like a neglected steely dan groove. add in the Motown –seasoned “you Called Me” and “hooked” along with a stronger dub of the 2010 viral giveaway “no strings,” uncovering more of hawthorne’s strong hip-hop earthiness, and how do you do feels like a legit update. the crooner – barraged with too many robin thicke quasi-falsetto performances – still has a long way to go before capitalizing on Cee Lo’s royalty, but blueeyed soul still remains his strongest suit. J MatthEW Cobb

JINGLE THIS! “the Walk,” “Finally Falling,” “no strings”

MAYER HAWTHORNE How Do You Do? (Reprise)


ssss TONY BENNETT Duets II (Reprise)

the old-school traditional pop seems to be holding its tight grip on nostalgia-hungry baby boomers. and there’s no better person to throttle those hunger pains than legendary crooner tony bennett. now in his fiftieth year of show business and still seasoned with vocal ripeness, the 78-year old is surrounded by younger, teen-loving superstars on duets ii, the sequel to his best-selling collaborative 2008 disc. the set is lavished with top-notch pairing, some feeling like once-in-alifetime match-ups. the irony of pinning bennett down to a duel with Lady gaga sounds far-fetched and inconceivable, until you hear the glam-pop diva on jazz and filling in the role of a loose caboose on “the Lady is a tramp.” the late amy Winehouse, another album spotlight moment, visits the 1940’s jazz standard “body and soul” and leaves her suspended in mid-air using dinah Washington aerial somersaults. Even outside the big surprises, the album still struts with confidence. John Mayer swivels in Frank sinatra cool on a lounge-like arrangement of “one For My baby” while Mariah Carey, no stranger to smaltzy adult-contemporary, sprinkles her pop glitter on “When do the bells ring For Me.” Even the Queen of soul herself aretha Franklin shows up on a gleaming “how do you Keep the Music Playing” to revisit her pre-atlantic days. though the album opens with a feisty uptempo and giddy fun, much of the album anchors itself to smooth, slow-paced snail rides. Part of the problem surrounds the Phil ramone string arrangements, severely loaded with exhaustive miles of symphonic legato which turns most of the big band chowder into disney soup. but the intricate duet arrangements, tagged with bennett’s cool swagger, offset most of the premature gripes. Even country icon Willie nelson feels like a snuggly fit in the tony bennett all-star Vegas show. J MatthEW Cobb

SPIN THIS! “the Lady is a tramp,” “body and soul”

COBRA STARSHIP Night Shades (Reprise)

When hearing the summer smash “you Make Me Feel…,” you start to anticipate a full album of synthpop disco loaded with bubbly guitar, four-on-the-floor madness and mighty sing-a-long crescendos. by the way, the dance floor orgasms are a long ways from the n.y.-based band’s strong roots in pop punk, but the change of pace was much needed when punk went further underground and their curiosity in revving up altpop started to bubble. but night shades is a hodgepodge of just about everything pop. the ryan tedder-supported “#1night” and “disaster boy” are the only cuts present that pattern themselves after the recipe of “you Make Me Feel.” “Fcked in Love,” a twisted cousin to “you Make Me Feel…,”

borrows Lady gaga’s symphonic synths, while opening itself up to Kara diogourdi’s songwriting presence. the rest of the album goes in varied directions. “Fool Like Me” breaks open the sixties pop nostalgia piggy bank using bruno Mars airbrushes, while “you belong to Me” finds gabe saporta dipping his lead vocals into John Mellencamp rock. “Middle Finger,” with a Mac Miller emcee cameo and an arena rock tempo akin to Coldplay, flows like a justifiable crowd pleaser with enough grit to be just as effective at an occupy Wall street protest (“throw your cups in the air, we so fly/Middle finger up to the sky”). With all the apparent shuffling from one style to the next, you start to wonder if Cobra starship should be taking serious. they aren’t as careless or whimsical as LMFao, but there’s so much odd pairing on the disc, such as collaborating with French girl band Plastiscines and susan boyle producer Le tigre, the questioning of Cobra starship’s authenticity grows louder. but that’s obviously the main reason why night shades satisfies. Like a never-ending celebration of rebellious adolescence, night shades is packed with lots of carefree summer fun across a genre-swinging microcosm of interesting modern pop. and to those heavy with concern over the album’s heightened expectations, we are in luck to find more feel-good treasures buried within the disc. J MatthEW Cobb

SPIN THIS! "you Make Me Feel Like...,” “Middle Finger,” “Fool Like Me”

RIHANNA Talk That Talk (Def Jam)

rihanna’s code isn’t hard to crack: she falls in love, she falls out of love, she puts on the kinky, she falls back in love again and she takes kinky into love. but on talk that talk, the r&b/pop princess is healing from the brutality of “Love the Way you Lie,” although she’s still scarred from all that “s&M” torture from Loud. she likes it rough and likes to exfoliate those fantasies in song. “Cockiness (Love it”) allows her to say what she really wants while dancing around double entendre. “red Lipstick” does the same, as does “birthday Cake” which turns the “icing” into some sugar-coated hypnosis to turn her boy toy into her “bitch. but rihanna’s also surrounded by a good hefty dose of donna summer love-crazed Eurodisco. With “you da one,” ri takes a familiar Whitney line and soaks it in a midtempo marinade of dancehall-inspired r&b that’s light on the gimmicks. she’s also comforted by continual support from dr. Luke as the 4/4 beats of “Where have you been” keeps her at the top of synthpop’s food chain. the electric hit parade continues with the Calvin harris-produced “We Found Love,” which lacks the substantial breath of a classic pop record but satisfies anyhow with its magnetic orchestrations atop one of rihanna’s best vocal performances. the subject of love can be traced throughout the disc (“We all Want Love, “Fool in Love”). unlike Loud and rated r, rihanna relaxes some of her shock value while juggling a better slate of genre-crossing selections. Even with the silly album filler, talk that talk raises her artistry levels up a notch. J MatthEW Cobb

SPIN THIS! "Where have you been” “We Found Love”

THE CHILL IS ON Blue-eyed soul wonder finds his swagger on second neo-retro disc

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chieving long-term success as a rock band these days is actually quite rare given the considerable changes to the music industry over the past fifteen years, but unquestionably one of the few bands deserving this honor is L.a.’s red hot Chili Peppers. While it’s true that the bands’ rebirth as a more mature version of themselves (with 1999’s Californication onwards) has produced its fair share of truly deserving hits, their newest offering i’m With you might signal the beginning of the revered band’s decline into creative obsolescence. the likely cause is that the band’s simply getting too old to be breaking new ground, and though they’ve pumped some new blood into the mix with longstanding guitarist John Frusciante’s 32 year-old replacement Josh Klinghoffer, something is missing on the new LP, and the band must be aware of it, as a noticeable portion sounds like it’s ripped straight from the catalogs of other bands: “dance, dance, dance” and “did i Let you Know” sound a bit too similar to 311, the piano heavy “Even you brutus?” smacks of Maroon 5, and the strange blend of a tom Waits-esque shuffle with the sing-songy southern rock choruses of “happiness Loves Company” doesn’t sound like the funky band fans know and love. add to this a couple bland slow songs like “Police station” and “Meet Me at the Corner,” and you’ve got a particularly weak second half of the album. Fortunately, the first half is much stronger, with many more Chili Peppers-esque tracks like “Factory of Faith,” “Look around,” and the first single “the adventures of rain dance Maggie.” still, the big problem with even the decent tracks is that either their verses or their choruses are particularly strong, but not both, creating a sense that the album was (at best) a little half-baked. the only two tracks not suffering from this ailment are the funky “goodbye hooray,” bolstered by a solid bass solo by Flea, and the rousing and dancey “Monarchy of roses,” set to be the album’s second single. rounding out the better first half are the two thoughtful, more laidback tracks “Ethiopia” and “brendan’s death song,” the latter a tribute to longtime friend and nightclub owner brendan Mullen, whose passing occurred around the time of the LP’s sessions and seems to have set the mood for many of its fourteen tracks. in the end, though i’m With you is of rather inconsistent quality and might easily be considered the Chili Peppers’ worst to-date, some of this is quite forgivable considering the members’ increased age and the creative growing pains often accompanying the addition of a new guitarist into the fray, so the band’s future beyond this misstep really depends on how much of of their original inspiration they’ll be able to recapture in the coming years, and how well Klinghoffer will be able to fill the massive void left by the departure of Frusciante, who was easily at the center of the band’s instrumental heart. ryan burruss

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS I’m With You (Reprise)

SPIN THIS! “Monarchy of roses,” “goodbye hooray”


ssss WAYNE’S WORLD Fourth installment in Weezy’s journal packs more schizo, less radio magnets

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il Wayne's tha Carter iV is easily one of the year’s most anticipated releases, hip-hop or otherwise. Lil Wayne (dwayne Carter) has become one of rap's most endearing, controversial and idiosyncratic figures. the album bows given lofty expectations following the grammy-winning tha Carter iii, but for the most part it doesn’t disappoint. Where it lacks the radio staples of its predecessor, it adds another strong set of schizo-minded cuts to Weezy's discography and outshines i am not a human being. “intro” opens the effort with a bang, finding Wayne slaying through his rhymes in his typical stream of consciousness, expletiveladen fashion ('f-bombs' are free one assumes). he jumps right into "blunt blowing," which may be most notable for its hook ("and i'm a blunt blowing, polo draws showing/ i don't give a lovely motherf**k ass n**ga with my money growing..."). "Mega Man" has a pounding, pummeling beat working in its favor to complement the emcee’s passionate flow. though it is "a Milli" styled rival "6 Foot 7 Foot," featuring up-and-coming rapper Cory gunz, that is the clear triumph and victory lap for the emcee with an infectious loop providing its backdrop ("6 Foot 7 Foot 8 foot..."). “nightmares of the bottom” is softer in sound, but still contains plenty of signature Weezy punch lines despite the piano-driven, bright production work. "she Will" features drake accompanying his mentor over production similar to drake's hit, "over." "hate," featuring t-Pain, is the set's weakest moment, finding both overindulgence and overconfidence in auto tune and, well, t-Pain. Weezy reasserts his gangsta without even being present on "interlude," which mirrors the production of "intro" and features tech n9ne and andre 3000 – sweet atonement. “John” featuring 'the boss' rick ross may be an old hat, but there ain't a thing wrong with this tried and true cut that possesses the memorable lines: "i'm not a star, somebody lied i got a choppa in the car, i got a choppa in the car..." "abortion" is not as fiery as the title might lead one to expect, nor is it a disappointment. "so special" allows an incredibly soulful sounding John Legend to shine, but Wayne never loses his luster. "how to Love" gives Wayne a surprisingly vulnerable moment and turns out to be a spectacular cut. a superb track, "President Carter" follows showing off Wayne's unrelenting creativity. "it's good" features drake and Jadakiss against dramatic production. the closing "outro" features bun b, nas, shyne & busta rhymes with Weezy nowhere to be found. overall tha Carter iV suits Wayne well. Fans and casual listeners accustomed to Wayne's schizophrenic efforts will be pleased with this effort, as should a crop of new 'Martians.' brEnt FauKLnEr

LIL WAYNE Tha Carter IV (Cash Money)

SPIN THIS! “blunt blowing," "6 Foot 7 Foot," "John," "how to Love," "President Carter"

311 Universal Pulse (311 Records/ATO)

Following the stylistic hiatus of their past two albums, 311 return to form with their tenth studio album universal Pulse. at a mere twenty-nine minutes of upbeat (though sometimes laidback) reggae influenced alt-rock, the quintet leaves little time for filler, so despite the less memorable middle tracks, the experience passes so quickly that it’s easy to just focus on the standout bookends. the strongest potential criticism is that its tracks almost seem lifted from different previous albums, acting as a stylistic compendium of the band’s history to-date. the rhythmic “time bomb” mirrors soundsystem, the hard-hitting “rock on” echoes From Chaos, and the fantastic closer “and a Ways to go” mirrors both transistor and Evolver, but considering 311’s consistency of quality over the years, this borrowing might easily amount to more of a celebration than a step back, as universal Pulse is 311’s best in years. ryan burruss

SPIN THIS! “time bomb,” “rock on,” “and a Ways to go”

MICHAEL JACKSON

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS

Immortal

Join Us

(Epic)

(Idlewild)

unlike 2010’s Michael, which featured rarities and vault treasures resembling thriller and invincible throwaways, immortal plays like a deluxe greatest-hits collection. Certainly the market is proliferated with dozens of MJ compilations, but what sets this disc apart from the rest is how the featured mixes hardly deter away from the familiar originals. some are quite inventive, such as the strippeddown version of “i’ll be there,” which places Jackson’s vocal on a warm piano accompaniment, and “Man in the Mirror” somehow adds a spirited gospel piano to the closing vamp. Most of the tracks are slightly shortened to make way for twenty-plus tracks; eight of which are super medleys. the most effective of the album’s combo workouts is “dancing Machine/blame it on the boogie,” which spreads the Jackson 5 disco across marching band beats and newlytransplanted electro house pulses. but don’t forsake the “immortal Megamix,” which somehow infuses four big MJ tunes into nine-minutes using mixtape poignancy. immortal isn’t strong enough to replace your library of MJ compilations, but it doesn’t leave loyal supporters on the hunt for fake vocal overdubs, nor does it ruin his colossal legacy of eternal pop treasures. J MatthEW Cobb

SPIN THIS! “i’ll be there,” “Workin’ day and night”

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Extending they Might be giants’ already sizable discography to a whopping total of fifteen studio albums, Join us, with its eighteen quirky indie pop tracks, comes off less as a stylistic evolution and more as a middling continuation of their status quo, offering few true highlights yet maintaing a standard roughly on par with the filler material off their more notable LPs. yet, frontmen John Flansburgh and John Linnell still manage to offer their unique blend of clever lyrics, instrumental diversity, nerdy vocals and sparklinglyclean production, with standout tracks like the incoherently rambling “Cloissoné,” the touchingly odd love song “i never Knew Love” and the hard to grasp sing-a-long march “three Might be duende.” thus, though Join us is certainly good enough to add to fans’ collections, the rest of the world will probably be better off sticking to tMbg’s better received albums. ryan burruss

SPIN THIS! “Cloissoné,” “never Knew Love,” and “three Might be duende”


// REVIEWS //

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SOME LIKE IT HOT Blue-eyed soul wonder finds his swagger on second neo-retro disc

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HOT CHELLE RAE Whatever (RCA)

ake the edge of bon Jovi, the playfulness of Katy Perry and the melodic sweetness of bruno Mars and blend them carefully together: you’re bound to get something like hot Chelle rae’s second album Whatever. the album plays like a non-stop top 40 playlist flooding with rhythmic sizzle, addictive hooks, sing-a-long choruses and towering vocal performances. When “i Like it Like that” opens the disc, its strong parallelism to the nashville band’s top 10 smash “tonight tonight” is instantaneous, but the ear quickly forgives the obvious comparisons when the gritty synths and guitar funk atop ryan Follese’s mountaintop solo take over the track. and the fun never stop: “Keep you With Me” flows like a joyful backstreet boys’ offering, while “Forever unstoppable” sounds like an adam Lambert attacking a nashville pop gem. “honestly” and the title track exhibits the youthful adrenaline that comes with spring break rebellion, like a poppier twist on all-american rejects’ “gives you hell.” Luckily when hot Chelle rae go for LMFao “i-don’t-care” sass, they lay down a supplement bearing a warm summery gloss that’s bound to appeal to the masses. Probably the only quip to mumble about is the indulgence of pop-rock top 40 immaculacy. “tonight tonight,” the buoyant summer jam, may be the album’s vocal point, but everything surrounding the song sounds like its equal. the highly-dominant up-tempo disc never seems to break away from that spell. Even if it sounds like the next addition to the now! that’s What i Call Music club and is loaded with never-ending pop radio singles, Whatever is everything a modern pop record should be striving to be. J MatthEW Cobb

SPIN THIS! “i Like it Like that,” “tonight tonight,” “Keep you With Me”

STATE COWS State Cows (Avenue of Allies)

LE’ANDRIA JOHNSON

JOE JONAS Fastlife

The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson

(Hollywood)

(Music World)

sweeden band state Cows makes a loud noise with their eponymous debut album by playing with East Coast soul and steely dan jazz fusion chords. Coping steely dan is a hard ass job to pull off, but it’s one that group leaders daniel andersson and stefan olofsson meticulously harbors on. Like a sequel to gaucho, this album celebrates the glory of ambitious lyricism and breezy jazz that’s so remisicent of experimental Eighties pop-rock. “new york town” features Jay graydon (the guy who nailed the guitar solo on “Peg”) on one of the album’s certifable standouts. but it’s quite hard to find favorites when much of the album plays with similar results: “Come to the Point” struts with george benson soul, “i’ve Changed” sways with toto pop, “stella by the barlight” could easily work its way into the infectious grooves of steely dan’s “hey nineteen,” while “riding this highway,” one of the only ballads present, proves to be a perfect marriage of Eighties aC and nashville pop. the album suffers from one tiny weakness: by midpoint, the song starts to gel together without any obvious distinctions. because of the lack of ballads, the use of atmospheric interludes is set in place. but when the album bows out with “Lost in a Mind game,” you’re reminded once again of the greatness of steely dan and more thankful that the next generation of artists are aspiring to be just as great. J MatthEW Cobb

SPIN THIS! “new york town,” “stella by the barlight,” “Lost in a Mind game”

sometimes it’s good to break away from the gang. For Joe Jonas, he sounds confident and poised on his solo debut Fastlife. and he has very good reason to appear that way; he has a striking Justin timberlake-usher dance-pop makeover that incredibly exceeds the hueless formulaic teen-pop of the Jonas bros. collection. that unexpected makeover, harnessed by Jonas’ songwriting and the album production by danja and rob Knox (Justin timberlake), gives Jonas an opportunity to enjoy the strobe light music and to flex his maturity in the r&b-influenced dance-pop world. he struts a dash of sex appeal on the P.M. dawn-natured “all this time” and proves he has a penchant for dashing r&b mechanics (“still in Love,” “Fastlife”). on the electro-pop sparkler “not right now,” the newborn solo stud smartly does a subtle repackaging of Jason derülo synthpop. he succeeds in his experiments as he lays low on the selfish braggadocio while avoiding the horny egoism of trey songz. still, Joe Jonas has a lot to learn if he wants to be a king on the dance floor (or the bedroom for that matter). having strong beats and slick lyrics is just half of the battle; putting heart and aggression into the vocal deliveries is the other half. and as cool and dangerous it is knowing Weezy is spitting rhymes on an explicitly laced remix of “so in Love” – a sign that Joe has no fear of drifting away from the buoys of his brothers’ safety – it’s still not enough to put him in Justin timberlake’s league, despite timberlake’s leave of absence from music. but regardless of any and all of the album’s shortcomings, Fastlife proves to be the most enjoyable experience to ever come out of the Jonas camp. J MatthEW Cobb

bEt’s sunday best victor Le’andria Johnson delivers her debut EP the awakening of Le’andria Johnson to mixed and puzzling results. Johnson is a capable vocalist, but the featured material is sub-par at best. despite the presence of producer Chuck harmony, the effort never ‘gels’. opener “sunday best Medley 1” starts the effort in clunky fashion. Johnson sounds gritty, but the medley is poorly recorded and executed. “Cast the First stone” is slightly better, but the songwriting is too repetitive. “Make him Like you” and “new reasons” are merely okay, not ‘earth-shattering.’ “Jesus” and “struggle not” are highlight cuts, but not without flaws. Closer “sunday best Medley 2” does Johnson little favor where cohesiveness is concerned, delivering another poorly recorded medley. hopefully, Johnson’s full-length debut will yield a better rounded effort. brEnt FauLKnEr

SPIN THIS! “Jesus”

SPIN THIS! “so in Love,” “all this time”

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GABE DIXON One Spark (Fantasy/Concord)

THY KINGDOM COME Rap’s new dynamic duo fires up the flashy

bling-bling and unapologetic (ego)rgasms

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ather than dueling it out for an interesting Clash of the titans, rap kings Jay-z and Kanye West level out their individual egos for an evened out tag-team spectacle exposing their countless wealth and unrest for hip-hop domination. it’s silly to hear these sizable rap icons resorting to the basic novelties of hip-hop, but hearing them brag on their extravagances on “ni**as in Paris” sets them apart from the amateurs. “ball so hard, i’m shocked too, i’m supposed to be locked up too,” Jay-z asserts in his cocky verse. tracks like “h.a.M.” and “illest Mothef**ker alive” puts the two in the crossfires of occupy Wall street envy. but besides the highfalutin showcase, the two craft a delicious follow-up to West’s beautiful dark twisted Fantasy by infusing a collage of samples upon a lyrical canvas that places them in the courtyards of mighty rap duos like Eric b. & rakim and big boi & andre 3000. “no Church in the Wild,” for example, contains guitar riffs from Phil Manzanera’s “K scope,” drums from spooky tooth’s “sunshine help Me” vocals from a rare James brown track. adding Frank ocean to the infectious hooks only exaggerates the genius of their craftsmanship. on “that’s My bitch,” where Jay-z shows off his fair lady, a nostalgic ‘90’s hip-hop vibe takes over with Charlie Wilson carrying the bridge and the rhythm track paying homage to the eternal incredible bongo band track “apache” and James brown’s “get up, get into it, get involved.” in the midst of the big benjamin splurges and swag showoffs, “new day” – centered in the middle of the disc –allows them to paint a few regrets into their reality as they solemnly humble themselves to their future children. sometimes Watch the throne becomes careless in its assembly phases. When “otis” resurrects otis redding’s “try a Little tenderness,” they slow down redding’s vocal to the tune of a damon Wayans’ handy-Man. “h.a.M” puts their ego orgasms on overload as they play to the dizzy club background of opera and Lex Luger leftovers. despite the hangovers, the album feels like a glorified mixtape while playing to the strengths of both Jay-z and West. but as smart as West is at crafting ambient arrangements and developing a world of alternative hip-hop, Jay-z still reigns as the better rap king. West has some big moments, like on “illest,” where he pours on the knowledge (“don’t look at the jewelry or get your blur on/too close, you comatose, so dope you overdose”), but when Jay-z can move from sweettributes (“i taught you so, i live in disguise/rest in peace to the leader of the Jackson 5”) to crafty religious seques (“Jesus was a carpenter, yeezy laid the beats/hova flow the holy ghost, get the hell up out your seats/Preach!”), you know there’s only room for one king on the throne.

JAY-Z & KANYE WEST Watch The Throne (Roc-A-Fella/Roc Nation)

SPIN THIS! “n****s in Paris,” “no Church in the Wild,” “new day”

singer/songwriter may be too limited of a genre for gabe dixon, who pulls off his first solo album without his gabe dixon band earning marquee attention. one reason why is because one spark sounds like an Elton John-Paul simon seventies’ record while riding high on the embellishments of gleaming nashville pop. sure the comparisons with Jason Mraz and ben Folds are going to continue, but he breaks fertile ground on a genre that lately has been duplicated more of the same. the gorgeous melodies of “running on Fumes” and “burn for you” sound pure and innocent, while the surprise duet with alison Krauss on “Even the rain” gives way to dreamy piano atop remnants of Eighties’ adult-contemporary. “Perpetual Motion,” possibly the grandioso moment aboard the twelve-track album, unveils a gleam of highly-accessible aC pop while rendering a heartfelt chorus celebrating dixon’s sensitive vocals. he doesn’t sacrifice his yearning for the crossover when incorporating bluegrass violins, fiddles and taylor swift buildups. With dixon’s warm vocals, the album never feels like just another nashville assembly line product, thanks to a wide range of indie and altrock co-writers like trent dabbs, daniel Wilson and starsailor frontman James Walsh and a smart decision to choose Los angeles as the recording locale. that probably explains why this well-rounded and poignant disc, which plays a bit against the conventions of nashville politics, was so ignored by the masses. their lost, not ours. J MatthEW Cobb

out as one of the few modern concessions on this entire effort. the chemistry and connection between the two emcees are evident. Cole slays through some earlier noteworthy cuts including "Can't get Enough" (featuring an under-the-radar trey songz), "Lights Please," and the album title cut (“sideline story”). “Cole World” proves a solid track, but is upstaged by a series of even stronger cuts. "in the Morning," featuring drake, is a sound collaboration between two of the industry’s bright young stars. "Lost ones" is heavy, yet brilliant and finds Cole detailing the reality of ‘babies taking care of babies.’ "Lost ones" also features one of the most poignant, vulnerable hooks of the effort: "and i ain't too proud to tell you that i cry sometimes, cry sometimes about it." "nobody's Perfect" features Missy Elliott's lovely vocals and yields another standout moment for the emcee. Cole concedes very little momentum on solid cuts like "never told," "rise and shine," "god's gift," and "breakdown." the final cut on the standard edition, "Work out," is Cole’s most commercial moment from the effort. the emcee even manages to impressively lift off of Paula abdul ("straight up now tell me..."). some editions include Cole's buzz worthy single "Who dat" and "daddy's Little girl" as bonus cuts. overall, consistent material pays off on J. Cole's understated, yet notable debut effort. While the ornate bells and whistles may be absent, Cole makes good use of the “less is more” philosophy. brEnt FauLKnEr

SPIN THIS! “dollar and a dream iii,” “Mr. nice Watch,” “Lost ones,” “Work out”

DARYL HALL Laughing Down Crying (RocNation)

SPIN THIS! “Perpetual Motion,” “burn for you,” “on a day Just Like today”

J COLE Cole World: The Sideline Story (Roc Nation)

rapper J. Cole, signed to Jay-z's rocnation label, delivers an old-school vibe hip-hop effort with his anticipated debut Cole World: the sideline story. Veteran producer no id handles much of the production, along with J. Cole, making a vintage sound that makes little effort to conform to the latest hip-hop production gimmicks. this approach along with Cole's heavy rhymes doesn’t make Cole World an outright commercial-thinking effort. however, this non-conformist spirit from Cole makes this release a more consistent and focused affair than many of its 2011 counterparts. the album never shocks per se, nor does it disappoint. Following a brief intro, Cole digs right in with the standout cut "dollar and a dream iii" which is well produced and shows off Cole's versatility as an emcee. Cole's style demonstrates that he is cut from the same cloth as emcees like Jay-z or nas. on the marvelous “Mr. nice Watch,” he even raps alongside Jay-z; given its electrifying production, “Mr. nice Watch” stands

i love daryl hall, preferably with John oates. the idea of separating the two is like withholding cereal from milk. although it is fair to say that daryl hall has always upstaged his writing partner in terms of spotlight time, oates’ contribution, along with ‘80’s co-writing buddy and hall’s former girlfriend sara allen, is never overshadowed. Just look at the couple of solo albums hall has previously released. 1979’s sacred songs, 1986’s three hearts in the happy Ending Machine or 1996’s Can’t stop dreaming (even with the glorified aC single “Cab driver” or the title track) doesn’t hold a candle to h&o superior catalog. so why is daryl hall still trying to flex his solo muscles on his third project Laughing down Crying? Well it’s because at the age of 60, hall still sounds extraordinary great and he’s still having fun demonstrating his songwriting skill. Like the excellent h&o do it For Love offering, hall slims his productions down to acoustic-driven productions, hampering tight to nashville simplicity. the only time he tries to fuel up the album using futurisms and feel-good ‘80’s banter is on “Eyes for you (ain’t no doubt about it),” which sounds like a dub take of “i Can’t go for that.” some of the offerings sound like do it For Love keepsakes, including the fluorescent “talking to you (is Like talking to Myself),” the “Wade in the Water”-sounding “save Me” and the romantic blue-eyed soul of “Lifetime of Love.” although the grooves billow with melodic subtlety, much of the album – mostly on the album’s backend – suffers from stiff lyricism and tired aggression to reach

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// REVIEWS // for broader expansions; plus there’s a distracting echo tucked behind hall’s lead vocals on many of the tracks. although one must separate hall’s solo work from the legacy embedded in the h&o stuff, it’s hard not to act like those timeless tunes don’t exist when listening to this album. it is that solemn knowledge that impairs the sudden celebration of this disc. J MatthEW Cobb

SPIN THIS! “Eyes for you (ain’t no doubt about it),” “Lifetime of Love”

.. JASON DERULO Future History (RocNation)

derülo makes a few detours into the urban r&b stratosphere, with hopes to add a little extra braggadocio to his content. “Make it up as We go” goes for sexy club-laden rhythms. on the other end of the disc, “that’s My shhh” unexpectedly goes for naughty trey songz foreplay, but seems way too zany on the dance-pop kid. Future history makes a few important adjustments in derülo’s progress, but eventually many of the tracks start to quickly resemble one another; failing to showcase any major breakthroughs in his “future” music. “Pick up the Pieces” and the “africa”-sampled “Fight For you” begin to feel like usher’s leftovers, while the synth-powered “X” would’ve been a bit more interesting if he had taken his ex-girlfriend ode and added two more “x’s to the equation. the sophomore jinx is to be expected, especially for a young chap experiencing his first dose of fast-food stardom, but derülo needs to prove even harder that he has a brighter future ahead of him rather than becoming “history.” J MatthEW Cobb

SPIN THIS! “it girl,” “don’t Wanna go home” Jason derülo proved he could grab the attentions of top 40 with his electro-pop hits on the first round, but his sophomore disc, Future history, is his attempt at pushing past those comfort levels without looking desperate. “don’t Wanna go home” opens the disc interpolating harry belafonte’s “day-o” and robin s.’s ‘90’s dance jam “show Me Love” into his familiar four-on-the-floor urban pounce. it’s a very good move, but one that puts him in the same situation as his last singles. bad habits are hard to break, especially those irritating “Ja-son de-rülo” chants that headline each of his songs, but derülo is making a few careful moves to break away from his teen-pop associations. “breathing” traces the pulses of Enrique igleslas’ “tonight (i’m Lovin you)” and the airy club vibes of Chris brown’s “beautiful People,” while “it girl” allows him to approach a heartfelt midtempo ballad using street romance (“you can be my it girl/baby, you’re the shit, girl”). unlike his self-titled debut,

YELLE Safari Disco Club (RocNation)

Coming off her internationally successful 2007 dance-pop debut Pop-up, French singer yelle (Julie budet) and company have returned with a noticeably more mature sophomore album in safari disco Club. the album leans less towards the cutesy joke-rap themes that originally earned the group an audience but instead moves forward with

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thoughtful instrumental parts paired with melody-heavy lyrical content. yelle’s work continues to be replete with perky electro-house dance beats and synth lines, but the overall vibe of the album begs the listener to take the group seriously, and at this yelle is most certainly successful. though the language barrier (being entirely in French) is something american audiences typically struggle with when connecting with a foreign release, the music still manages to resonate due to its superb production values and compositional pedigree (with instrumental parts by French electro sensation tEPr and bandmate grandMarnier). the album’s opener and first single, “safari disco Club,” hints in the verses at the lighthearted marimba-like synth parts found in Pop-up but moves in the choruses to the weightier minor key harmonies that so assertively carve out this album’s unique sound. songs like “Comme un Enfant” and “La Musique” are perhaps the best representations of this new stylistic direction, keeping things bouncy throughout while taking the material to a new, darker soundscape. also present is a smoother disco vibe than before, often occurring in the album’s bigger choruses, like those found in the second single “Que Veux-tu.” While the rapping from Pop-up does live on in this album, it’s most often given a melodic contour, although tracks like the staccato “C’est Pas une Vie” and the somewhat uninspired “unillusion” keep the initial style alive. Perhaps the most progressive track on safari disco Club is the slow-burning, abba-like disco number “Le grand saut,” especially with its eerie minor-tomajor vocal breakdown. ultimately, the album is best when it’s getting you moving, and no track better embodies this than the 80’s-infused “J’ai bu” with its horse-trot rhythm synthesizer arpeggio patterns and celebratory spirit. tying things up nicely is the pensive yet march-like anthem “s’eteint le soleil,” which brings back many of the album’s chief textural motifs, albeit in a grander style better suiting the end of an album. While the language barrier certainly doesn’t make yelle’s newest offering quite as accessible to american audiences as it deserves to be, any fan of dance music will be able to see past the lyrics and appreciate the well-conceived craftsman-

STRANGERS IN PARADISE Indie duo’s heavy concept album packed with cheery fun

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t’s rare for a concept album to simultaneously make a point and have fun, but indie duo yaCht’s new release shangri-La manages to pull off both effortlessly in a well-conceived package that greatly improves on its lauded predecessor, 2009’s see Mystery Lights. as the title suggests, shangri-La, a utopian society, although only formally addressed on one track, is arguably linked with the negative consequences of trying to achieve perfection in the real world. this sentiment is present throughout the LP. though the subject matter is potentially weighty, the band manages to balance the heavier elements with enough lighthearted music-making to render the subject tongue-in-cheek. While the utopian concept isn’t woven uniformly throughout the album’s ten tracks, its presence is sufficient to elevate what would have otherwise been a solid indie disco record into a memorable and rewarding experience, despite a couple disappointing tracks. the journey begins with the celebratory disco jaunt “utopia,” fronted by original member and primary composer Jona bechtolt. bechtolt only has solo lead vocal duties on one other track, the similarly upbeat but more modern-sounding and vocoder-sprinkled dance number “i Walked alone,” which though less connected to the theme of the album, ends up amounting to one of its catchiest numbers. the remainder of the album features collaborator Claire L. Evans’ distinctive and sultry alto, either solo or in duet with bechtolt. after the cheery opening yin of “utopia” comes its yang counterpart “dystopia (the Earth is on Fire),” painting a contrasting morbid picture of anarchy and disorder which keeps you dancing all the while. unfortunately, this block of great songs is followed by the lumbering “Love in the dark” and the tedious “one step” - neither track adds to the cohesiveness or quality of the album and are generally skippable. things pick up nicely with the religion-themed “holy roller;” the ode to alien contact “beam Me up” à la b-52’s and the talky “Paradise Engineering.” things cool down with the extended-length psychedelic track “tripped and Fell in Love.” the whole experience’s real comedown lies in the sing-along title track with its album summarizing chorus “if i can’t go to heaven, let me go to L.a./...if we build a utopia, will you come and stay?,” all set to a pleasing mix of soft instrumentals and thick string parts reminiscent of the beatles. While shangri-La isn’t the most cerebral of concept albums, it’s easily the most fun you’ll have with one, and the pair of offending sub-par tracks aren’t enough to capsize the experience. on the whole, the album vastly improves on the somewhat disjointed and inconsistent array of songs featured in yaCht’s debut (as a duo) and serves as a good indicator of what’s yet to come from this promising group, assuming they maintain their inspirational momentum. ryan burruss

SPIN THIS! “dystopia (the Earth is on Fire),” “i Walked alone” “shangri-La”

YACHT Shangri-La (DFA)


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craftsmanship evident here. Musically, there are few (if any) duds on the album; the songs all have a strong sense of cohesion without seeming too similar. the group truly inhabits a stylistic realm you won’t easily find anywhere else, so if you fancy yourself a dance music fan, you owe it to yourself to give safari disco Club a spin or three. ryan burruss

SPIN THIS! “Que Veux-tu,” “J’ai bu,” “Le grand saut”

TAKING BACK SUNDAY Taking Back Sunday (Nonetusche)

returning to their initial lineup for the first time since 2002’s tell all your Friends, this year’s eponymous release by Long island’s taking back sunday is the band’s attempt to recapture their original cohesion. this cohesion perhaps comes at the cost of a slight downturn in overall quality, especially when compared with their last outing, 2009’s new again. While lead singer adam Lazzara, rhythm guitarist Eddie reyes, and drummer Mark o’Connell have weathered the group’s lineup changes for all five albums to-date, it’s difficult to tell if the return of lead guitarist John nolan and bassist shaun Cooper is responsible for the band’s slight change in direction. Perhaps it’s the band’s inability to resonate quite as they have in the past. Clearly, the return of Eric Valentine as producer from his sessions with the group on their critically-acclaimed adventurous third album Louder now wasn’t the missing piece. despite that, taking back sunday is a well-produced album that continues to tread the band’s familiar brand of alternative emo-rock, albeit with noticeably less angsty lyrics, which itself is most likely a sign of the band’s increasing age. the album opens with its heaviest song, “El Paso.” this isn’t necessarily a good thing, as it’s not a particularly con-

vincing heavy track and doesn’t really fit with the vibe of the rest of the album. Fortunately, things pick up right after with the album’s lead single “Faith (When i Let you down),” whose references to various forms of faith in comparison with personal loyalty is set in the lighthearted yet pensive musical setting at which the band excels. While tracks like “best Places to be a Mom,” “since you’re gone” and the second single “this is all now” all reside squarely in the style of the octave and power-chord laden, big-chorused anthems the band is known for. the exceptions are really what makes this album its most notable, whether it be the lilting, near-folky verses in “sad savior,” the dancey pre-choruses in “it doesn’t Feel a thing Like Falling,” or the atypical sentimentality and calm of the album’s closer “Call Me in the Morning.” these tracks help redeem the album from its otherwise lack of identity amidst the band’s four previous releases. in the end, taking back sunday is a mild speedbump in the road towards musical evolution for a band that’s been tough enough to weather the rise and fall of their own genre. if taken as a mere gear shift towards moving forward with their new/original lineup, then this album is an acceptable pause before things hopefully heat up again. ryan burruss

SPIN THIS! “Faith (When i Let you down),” “it doesn’t Feel a thing Like Falling,” “Call Me in the Morning”

AMY WINEHOUSE Lioness: Hidden Treasures

passed before actualizing the bounty of her gift. Lioness: hidden treasures, a short collection of unreleased tracks, alternate takes and lost demos, could’ve been a third album. and a pretty decent one at that. it opens with a smoldering ska-tinged cover of ruby & the romantics’, easily replacing the dexterity of the original. retro soul covers continue to abound with Mark ronson’s take on the Phil spector classic “Will you (still) Love Me tomorrow?,” which emerges as an album standout as its concocting marching drums and dramatic presentation add weight to Winehouse’s vocal . “Valerie (’68),” previously released on ronson’s Version, also makes it to the set, along with an alternate take of “tears dry” without the “Mountain high” sample. on “Like smoke,” rapper nas spits a few fiery lyrics at past loves, the recession and the tax man: “yo, this recession is a test/ it's affecting my complexion/ Misdirection my affection/ My concerns are bill collections.” towards the back of the disc is where the reality of a damaged soul, desperately screaming for help, comes through the speakers. “body and soul” channels her inner dinah Washington alongside jazz giant tony bennett, while her incoherent vocals on an isaac hayes-esque arrangement of “song for you” feels like a messy intoxicated outcry for help. the closing tracks aren’t as embarrassing as her cover of Leslie gore’s “it’s My Party” for Quincy Jones’s Q: soul bossa nostra, but it’s an unfortunate display of a gifted soul singer left stranded at the bottom of the blues. and everyone should know there’s no sign of relief at the end of the bottle. J MatthEW Cobb

SPIN THIS! “our day Will Come,” “Will you still Love Me tomorrow,” “Valerie (‘68)”

(Island)

want more reviews? the untimely death of amy Winehouse left a much different impression on the music world than that of the untimely death of Michael Jackson: Jackson actually lived out his musical genius and relished in its glory, while Winehouse

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SOUL BROTHERS Songcraft of Ohio duo tightens up on Brothers’ follow-up

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BLACK KEYS El Camino (Nonesuch)

ome will rush to some rash conclusion that the black Keys has gone cuckoo for pop. the akron, ohio duo experienced a surge of momentum with their gritty garage rock and soulful retro blues on 2011’s brothers – similar to that of Kings of Leon after “use somebody” went global. Part of the aftermath came with commercial licensing, arena-size crowds, high-profiled magazine covers and super music festival headlining. but all of the attention hasn’t gone to their head. after just one year from the grammy buzz surrounding brothers, the black Keys return with their seventh record, El Camino: a similar-sounding blues revival album that sways with the same tempo of its predecessor. instead of bending the rules or experimenting with their formula, lead vocalist/guitarist dan auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney prove to be committed to their regimen, without feeling like sucker traditionalists. What is different this time around, the band engages in more Muddy Waters blues, proliferate their rawness and “tightens up” their lyrics. “Lonely boy” is surrounded by dazzling guitar spells, a Chuck berry fire, an angelic chorus and a marvelous underdog story that screams to the top of top 40 rafters: “but i came to love you/am i going to bleed? any old time you keep me waiting.” on “dead and gone,” they repeats that same genius, using rolling stone force. “gold on the Ceiling” explores beatle-esque psychedelia, while hammering home their catchiest chorus to date (“Just a matter of time, before you steal it/it’s alright, ain’t no god in my eye”). as if the guys were recruited into a Motown funk band, they explore more of their retro dynamo on “stop stop” and “sister.” Certainly some of the rhythms feel like they’ve been locked into a continual cycle and auerbach’s vocals feel as if they’ve been oppressed once again by experimental reverb, but it’s an organic style that so stylishly contrasts with the fuzz guitars and the whirlwind of southern blues and surf rock. some will protest the record for sounding so much like its predecessor. and there are a lot of similarities. What made brothers so magical was how good the music sounded. but what makes El Camino so magical, besides its strong sense of fluidity, is how the guys have replicated that sound with a perfected inescapable lyricism. J MatthEW Cobb

SPIN THIS! “Lonely boy,” “dead and gone,” “gold on the Ceiling”


THEOPHILUS LONDON Timez Are Weird These Days (Reprise)

after a string of mixtapes and a well-received EP, trinidad-born american rapper theophilus London unveiled his debut LP timez are Weird these days, with mixed results at best. on the surface, London’s pop-infused style resides between b.o.b and Kid Cudi without achieving either b.o.b’s catchiness or Cudi’s depth, all atop a stream of slightly dated electro-funk of often questionable quality. the album starts strong with the energizing and almost militant beats of “Last name London” and the jazzy “Love is real,” featuring indie songstress holly Miranda, but things take a turn for the ho-hum until the strong closer “i stand alone” with Coldplay/sting-like vocals for the verses/choruses, respectively. While these three tracks are fairly convincing and eclectic, they’re simply not enough to elevate this debut past its freshmen level status, though you can tell London’s got some untapped potential waiting to emerge. ryan burruss

jectory into artful sorrow. thankfully, without becoming a dido experiment, Ceremonials unveils its face from the murky waters when it has to, to promising results. “breaking down” yields itself to a world of beach boy psychedelics, “Lover to Lover” allows Welch to expose the pipes of a Janis Joplin freshman and “spectrum,” one of the album’s glowing highlights, gives the singer a gorgeous chorus and a feverous load of lyrical confidence to rise above the dark clouds: “say my name/and every color it illuminates/ and we are shining and we will never be afraid again.” Without having to repeat her debut album’s pattern, the musical boudoir on Ceremonials is a mix of Motown joyrides, alt-rock whirlwinds and experimental Eurythmics pop. it also stands as a strong testament to Welch’s will power for not caving in to the industry pressures and expectations to become the latest gaga or Katy Perry. instead of getting in the long lines of top 40 sound-alikes, Florence + the Machine remains comfortable in being the adele alternative. that’s not a bad decision after all. J MatthEW Cobb

SPIN THIS! “shake it off,” “spectrum,” “What the Water gave Me,” “if only for a night”

SPIN THIS! “Last name London,” “Love is real,” “i stand alone”

LADY ANTEBELLUM We Owned the Night (Capitol Nashville)

FLORENCE + THE MACHINE Ceremonials (Island)

surely the dog days are long gone for Florence Welch and her army of art rock misfits. after the initial wave of success from their 2008’s debut LP Lungs and the two-year old hit single “dog days are over,” Florence Welch along with her backing band the Machine rose to the front to become the latest adele alternative. the song and the album that spawned it clearly could’ve transformed her into the next peculiar pop star, and that is what most folk were banking her to duplicate on its follow-up. but Ceremonials clearly steps into another direction: Kate bush art rock, moody annie Lennox soul and medieval harmonics are all at the helm of the album’s interior design. the album’s opener, “if only for a night,” is charmed with Middle age echoes, gorgeous strings and with enough bait for a future Kanye West sample. it then marches into “shake it off,” Welch’s gospel-tinged pop single celebrating the deliverance of a mad hangover: “it’s always darkest before the dawn…it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back/so shake him off.” With the help of a slight borrowing of the chorus from annie Lennox’s “no More i Love you’s,” the song ultimately creates the migraine for the devil using arena-rock gimmickry. in an unexpected twist of fate, the album suddenly succumbs to darker tones and hallowed dimensions in its quest for björk alt-rock. “What the Water gave Me,” produced by Paul Epworth, serves as the perfect antithesis to adele’s “rolling in the deep” as the enormity of a raging ocean overtakes the innocent soul. “Lay me down, let the only sound/be the overflow, pockets full of stones,” Welch sings, as she becomes the living sacrifice to the brooding track. “never Let Me go” and “seven devils” continues that downward tra-

at one time, Lady antebellum’s musical decorum could be easily described as a tennessee Valley Fleetwood Mac, with just enough solemn and ambiguity to set them apart from many of their country-western competitors. there was just enough bite to transcend past the nashville country-pop’s limitations. We owned the night, the trio’s third album, somehow drifts away from the artsy “i run to you” and the despairing sadness of “need you now.” actually, the trio trade in their adultness for a taylor swift giddyup, minus some of the diary gloom. “Friday night,” merging with classic rock elements, gives Lady antebellum something to party to. the same happens on the light-pop of “singing Me home,” which makes the band sound more youthful than before. strangely, the biggest material feels like safe performances stalled in country-pop mediocrity. the vocals of Charles Kelley and hillary scott, often blending in harmony, never bust a sweat. strong cases of that description can be heard on “Love i’ve Found in you” and the pedestrian soul of “somewhere Love remains.” only on the string-laden “Wanted you More,” a distant cousin to “i need you now,” pumps up the adrenaline long enough to give the album a triumphant finish. We owned the night is a relaxed effort, although doused with good pop-meets-aC melodies and southern pride. Fans of the band will enjoy it as a satisfying chapter in their career. Careful observers will mark it as a rushed effort to keep the engine a-going on their crossover popularity and will certainly question the enigma of the album title. there’s nothing seriously here that can prove Lady a owns the night.

SPIN THIS! “Wanted you More,” “Just a Kiss”

BON FIRE Kanye’s Fantasy hookman pulls off

experimental folk LP loaded with solitude

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hile an acclaimed songwriter’s stylistic reinvention is generally expected at least once in the trajectory of their career, achieving this immediately after their debut is quite remarkable, especially when the results are beyond stellar. such is the case with Wisconsin indie folk artist bon iver (Justin Vernon), who in the course of his mere two albums to-date has gone from the sparse folk instrumentation of For Emma, Forever ago, which was recorded alone in a remote cabin, to his eponymous sophomore LP, which though similarly chill, is fully realized with a group of additional musicians and instruments, most notably frequent use of synthesizers and electric guitar. in fact, the net effect of the album’s strongly cohesive sound world, coupled with tracks named after various presumably relevant cities/states makes bon iver come across as a quasi-concept album, elevating the already sublime experience even further (though Vernon’s ghostly vocals often make it a bit difficult to discern individual lyrics). the musical journey begins in “Perth” (presumably australia, but possibly ontario, as the rest of the track locations seem to reside in north america), with its somber martial undertones amidst slightly overdriven guitars, but we’re quickly off to Vernon’s neighboring big city of “Minnesota, Wi,” easily one of the album’s strongest tracks with its uncharacteristically low-pitched verses and slowly building climaxes amidst an array of fingerpicked guitars, synthesizers, and heavier drum articulations. next up is “holocene” (presumably in Portland), with its laidback drum grooves and progressively more complex instrumental textures, followed by “towers,” which effectively breaks up the somber vibe a bit with the album’s strongest hints of roots music, especially at its climactic upbeat bridge. things mellow considerably in the album’s middle act (if you will), a trio of downtempo, contemplative songs, the highlight of which is easily the Junior boys-esque “hinnom, tX” with its nonstop pulsing synth pads and minimal aesthetic, eventually bleeding into the haunting piano-driven number “Wash.” set in a rolling triple feel. bon iver’s final three tracks conclude the journey on a celebratory high note with “Calgary”’s upbeat drums and the retro, polysynth-laden “beth/rest,” which in many ways resembles the best of Phil Collins’ haunting ballads from the mid-Eighties. at the end of the day, while bon iver’s follow-up album is quite different from its highly regarded predecessor, fans shouldn’t be disappointed, as Vernon’s creative spirit has been carefully preserved through the transition, evoking the same sense of quiet solitude, albeit with a new sonic palette. the biggest criticism one could lob at the LP is its stylistic sameness throughout, but whereas most albums guilty of this charge reek of compositional boredom and/or lack of inspiration, bon iver’s consistent style couldn’t seem more intentional, as his artistic vision rings true throughout its brief forty minutes and never lets go. the only question remaining then, is how bon iver could possibly manage to top this great achievement with his much anticipated third offering...

BON IVER Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar)

SPIN THIS! “Minnesota, Wi,” “hinnom, tX,” “beth/rest”


LITTER

when you’ve got it, you’ve got it. the Black Keys once again takes a trip back to ‘60’s melodic rock , backed by soaring guitars, choir-like background vocals, whoozy synths and hammering drums.

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“wall street Part of town,” ry Cooder finally - a modern “we shall overcome” protest song we all can rock to: “we’re in trouble again/But this time we’ve got friends.”

“our day wIll CoMe,” aMy wInehouse

“I Know how It feels to Be wIth you,” roBIn thICKe

Channeling his inner frankie Beverly and Marvin gaye, robin thicke falsetto appears to be in cruise control, proving to be his best vocal since “lost without you.”

“only If for a nIght” florenCe + the MaChIne florence welch proves she’s got swag. here she walks across a hip-hop’s sampling goldmine and annie lennox art soul.

reggae beats decorate this rare amy winehouse previously unreleased track. It’s quite eerie hearing a cover track spring from the vault like this. It should’ve been dusted off and used on Back to Black.

“Better than I Know Myself,” adaM laMBert

try to hit those high notes if you want. adam lambert soars on an electro pop ballad that would’ve fell flat and lifeless on the generic pop singer.

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Jessie J may be eating away from Katy Perry’s aesthetic, but Perry continues to reign as the queen of bubblegum. on this feelgood singa-long, she is occupying the same space that Madge once dominated.

Coldplay, watch it. Cobra starship has honed in on your Coachella magic and injected it with some badass cool.

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“there I go agaIn,” aMos lee

a Muscle shoals soul injection brings out the best in amos lee’s latest hybrid of southern folk-rock.

“gold,” CoMMon Common swings out the gate with a hip-hop soul magnet that feels like Jesus wooing the disciples out the hood: “I am the voice of the meak and underpriviledged/the smell of the success, I want you to get a wiff of this.”

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“you and Me, leroy,” Betty wrIght feat. the roots

the roots supply the retro breadth and puts the soul siren back into her comfort zone, as she serenades her discouraged boo: “say the hard times can’t last, I know it wil pass/trust me, it’s all about you and me/we’ll get through this.”

“MIddle fInger ,” CoBra starshIP feat. MaC MIller

“Part of Me,” Katy Perry

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“gold on the CeIlIng,” the BlaCK Keys

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of the

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PICK

Hear our Pick of the Litter in 5 January 2012 Jukebox at

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“Center of the sun,” state Cows a digital single that contains the easy breeze of robbie dupree’s “steal away” and the brains of donald fagen.

“we taKe Care of our own,” BruCe sPrIngsteen

the Boss slips a few “Born to run” antics, notably the feelgood strings and vibes, into a politican’s nightmare. once again, springsteen puts his dylanesque pen to good use.

GOOD PICKINGS

Here’s a few delightful tunes that’s making an impact on the current charts. Download away. gotyE “somebody that i used to Know” #5//hot 100, #1 rock songs, #1 alternative songs fun. feat. JanELLE MonaE “We are young” #1/hot 100, #3/rock songs, #2/alternative songs thE Fray “heartbeat” #42/hot 100, #10/adult Pop songs, #22/aC r. KELLy “share My Love” #31/r&b KELLy CLarKson ‘stronger (What doesn’t Kill you)” #1/hot 100, #1 Pop songs, #1 adult Pop songs

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holiday albums are always a must-have to help make the season bright. 2011 wasn’t short in its share of naughty and nice offerings. by J MatthEW Cobb

THIS MARX THE SPOT Short and sweet holiday EP comes out of the gate of Richard Marx

although considered lately to be a pop reclusive, richard Marx is already working on album no. 23. the ”right here Waiting” singer/songwriter, known for writing a bundles of aC hits for a laundry list of big names including the Luther Vandross’ grammy winning “dance With My Father,” pumps out a Christmas EP as a kickstarter to his upcoming full-length holiday project for 2012. one thing’s for sure: the sampler is a festive appetizer that stays true to Marx’s style. “Christmas spirit” conjures the subtleties of Mariah’s “all i Want For Christmas is you” while masked with a Phil spector Wall of sound glisten. he even goes for reverent hymn remakes on “o holy night” and “silent night” without sounding too much like a Vienna boy graduate. Much of the arrangements feel like tasteful performances that either would be transplanted on a bestof-Marx album or on a hipper nashville pop set. on “i heard the bells on Christmas day,” the digital EP’s obvious showstopper, the atmosphere is enshrouded with serenading strings and Coldplay visuals. although his voice never suspends to the clouds on its enrapturing chorus, Marx settles for a comfy midflight performance that still oozes heartthrob glamour. Even with the EP’s brevity, a Christmas EP is as good as a holiday EP will ever get.

JINGLE THIS! “i heard the bells on Christmas day,” “o holy night,” “Christmas spirit”

RICHARD MARX A Christmas EP (Merge)

ALSO INSIDE: Justin Bieber Chicago Michael Bublé

Carole King She & Him Lady Gaga

Scott Weiland Glee Cast Ginuwine


JUSTIN BIEBER Under the Mistletoe

CHICAGO O Christmas Three

CAROLE KING A Christmas Carole

(Chicago)

(Hear Music)

(Island)

the last person Justin bieber wants to be buried under mistletoe with this Christmas is a starstruck fan hungry with a paternity test in hand. Luckily, the bieb is joined by a diverse slate of pop royalty (boyz ii Men, usher, the band Perry) eager to join the teen-pop star on his first egg nog toast, under the Mistletoe. it isn’t enough to cover up the obvious: bieber’s timbre is sharply yanked down a few notches, with his kiddie vocal range now reduced to a Jesse McCartney. on the plus side, bieber does a grand job in pulling in original tracks. tweens hoping to push the bieber craze onward into his adolescent years will enjoy the Jodeci bedroom swagger of “Christmas Eve,” the bruno Mars-ness of “Mistletoe” and the country-pop of “home this Christmas,” all decent originals. the r&b-injected “Fa La La” probably stands out the strongest due to boyz ii Men’s harmonic ad-libs. some tracks are worth excavating for family fun time, like the Jackson 5 bubblegum pop reinvention of “santa Claus is Coming to town,” but bieber makes a few careless mistakes that are almost too hard to swallow. an irritating shell of reggaeton spoils the potential of “drummer boy,” although busta rhymes shines on his cameo. in a Protools age, it’s easy to patch a pre-recorded Mariah Carey on a bieber vocal track, which explains the existence of a recycled “all i Want For Christmas.” but the most disappointing revelation aboard under the Mistletoe falls on bieber. With the jaw-dropping key change in place, he sounds less engaged and bored. only on the bonus track “Pray,” where his voice sounds like remnants of better times, bieber sounds like the pop monster he’s been made to be.

JINGLE THIS! “Fa La La,” “Mistletoe”

Cleverly titled o Christmas tree, Chicago’s third holiday effort (or Chicago XXXiii in super bowl language), puts the jazzy brassy rock band back in the hands of producer Phil ramone for another unpredictable display of arrangements of favorite carols and modern pop oddities. Much like What’s it gonna be, santa!, the album mixes up the familiar ho-hum melodies using James Pankow’s sophisticated horn arrangements and instrumental breaks. Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” gets a sweet r&b frosting and pairs Jason scheff’s soaring tenor with the occasional pop-ups of guest vocalist dolly Parton. it’s a sweet opener, and much of the album swings with similar sweetness. there’s the *nsynC cover of “Merry Christmas, happy holidays,” which favors the laidback vocal of robert Lamm. others goodies are also aboard: “it’s the Most Wonderful time” sways with slower romantic tempo; “i’ll be home for Christmas” revisits the swagger of night & day big band and “rockin’ and rollin’ on Christmas day” transplants Chicago into the land of stax using gospel organ bursts and a mean guitar solo from stax legend steve Cropper. o Christmas three does bear its share of grinches to maneuver. “rockin’ around the Christmas tree” generates a display of Midnight special rock and even bubbles with excitement on the guitar riffs bearing similarities to oK go’s “here it goes again,” but it tends to slump downward with its wacky modulations and a karaoke-natured arrangement. “My Favorite things” sounds like an odd afrobeat-calypso merge that only percolates when the horns perform their harmony solos. Even the absence of bill Champlin is sort of disappointing to the holiday mix. the Chicago alum could’ve came back to his alma marter for at least one of the album’s tracks.

how adorable to see Carole King using her name on her first holiday album. it’s the good ole industry gimmick that never fails when developing a title for a Christmas album. a Christmas Carole sure beats “Christmas tapestry.” the famed singer/songwriter may be a little late in getting in on the Christmas rush, with 2011’s gloomy forecast of economic depravity. but her good cheer may bring some added relief to the home system as she seeps her teeth into golden holiday pleasantries. she doesn’t go for goofy santa standards or go for titles that would render her public ridicule at Christmas parties, but the songwriting legend falls for safe renditions while failing to produce any original compositions from Carole’s pen. “Christmas Paradise,” co-penned by her daughter Louise goffin, is probably the album’s bright spot, with the original selection displaying dreamy calypso atop utopian lyricism. there are a few hot spots to observe: the stax favorite “Everyday Will be Like a holiday” feels nice on King’s quasi-soulful voice; “Chanukah Prayer” sounds like a spike Lee production and “have yourself a Merry Little Christmas” dons an angelic innocence. still, with all the cheery selections aboard, a Christmas Carole makes a slight dip when it plays with big Motown r&b on “Christmas in the air.” sorry but “it’s too Late” is as far as her voice will take her.

JINGLE THIS! “Christmas Paradise,” “Everyday Will be Like a holiday”

JINGLE THIS! “Wonderful Christmastime,” “it’s the Most Wonderful time of the year,” “Merry Christmas, happy holidays”

AMichael SWINGING CHRISTMAS Bublé’s festive journey comes with jingle bells and the same ole Lang syne

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t’s hard to imagine Canadian crooner Michael bublé not ever singing holiday music. his chipper personality and relaxed fluidity, like a 21st century version of blue Eyes, creates the dreamiest cozy blankets that save us all from the bitter cold of december. on his first holiday full-length disc Christmas, the smooth jazz singer gives the festive crowd something to be jolly about. dreamy big band numbers are in effect (“it’s beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” “santa Claus is Coming to town”), so are the wishful arrangements of modern pop jewels (“Christmas (baby Please Come home”), but it’s when bublé tweaks his image with some harry Connick soul where he becomes a bit more interesting. “Jingle bells” kicks up Ella gusto, “White Christmas” with shania twain transports bublé into the drifters’ doo-wop take and he does justice to burl ives’ “holly Jolly Christmas.” you can even hear the saucy new orleans jazz merge into the cabaret-styled “blue Christmas.” but Christmas isn’t exactly the sleigh ride in Central Park; Mariah Carey’s “all i Want For Christmas is you” is marred with a sub-standard last-minute aC arrangement and “santa baby” sounds its creepiest yet with grinch-like backups and obvious gender fender-bender on the lyrics, all while bublé misuses his cool card on stucco phrases like “buddy” and “papi.” For those anxious for more holiday treats, bonus editions add in “Winter Wonderland” and a warm “silver bells” attached to naturally 7’s harmonies. another down side to the disc: don’t expect any originals here, except for the melodic light-pop of “Cold december night,” which is good enough to land on the next noW Christmas set. the album’s a delightful addition to the list of stocking stuffers, but lacks the imagination of necessary risks to soar above the stockpiles of holiday entries.

JINGLE THIS! “have a holly Jolly Christmas,” “Jingle bells”

MICHAEL BUBLE Christmas (143 Records/Reprise)


TWO TURTLE DOVES AND A PEAR TREE She & Him pour their artsy alt into creamy holiday LP

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ndie-folk rock duo she & him – made up of new girl actress/singer zooey deschanel and competent Portland musician M. Ward – puts their infatuation for beach boy tempo and Mid-west folk into overdrive on their first holiday outing and third disc to date. “Little saint nick” and “Christmas day,” both brian Wilson tunes, are packed with sunny backing vocals, while zooey’s lead vocals never protruding past its buttery Patsy Cline-esque crème. she handles much of the set’s lead vocals, but when the two of them unveil their close-knitted harmonies on tracks like the rare Joey spampinato gem “Christmas Wish” and get playful on “baby it’s Cold outside,” their voices echo the gleaming innocence of the holidays. inside the framework of the music, the vocal echoes prove to be very important to the sonics, so are the guitar ad-libs and modest arrangements. the intimate acoustic element, tapered with a ukulele and sparse instrumentation, makes the yuletide effort perfect for couples. only handicap to pout over besides the lack of rock in “rockin’ around the Christmas tree” is the obvious absence of a few originals from the talented pair, but their safe adventure of the holiday songbook will guarantee a few repeats on Muzak for Christmases to come.

SHE & HIM A Very She & Him Christmas (Merge)

JINGLE THIS! “Christmas Wish,” “Christmas day,” “baby, it’s Cold outside”

LADY GAGA A Very Gaga Holiday (Interscope/Kornline)

Lady gaga going Christmas on us doesn’t seem so far-fetch in 2011 after she broke out of her shock-jock shell with a duet with legendary crooner tony bennett and delivering mouthdropping live acoustic performances of “you and i” and “the Edge of glory” on the four-track EP a Very gaga holiday, gaga tries to squeeze some smooth big band jazz on us for the holidays. the clips are lifted from a primetime gaga thanksgiving special, which ruins the idea of a full-length album or a deck the Walls extravaganza. only one of the tracks celebrates boughs of holly, others are accented with childhood stories and boasts of american pride. (“Put your drinks for america,” she belts on “you and i”) but gaga reinforces her primal reign as a uncontainable supertalent as she moseys through a laid-back swinging “White Christmas,” which leans on gaga’s newly-penned verse, trumpet trimmings, light drum brushing and a cozy piano. Meanwhile, “orange Colored sky” feels like an attractive attempt for initiating a nat King Cole covers’ album. the brilliant acoustic versions of “you and i” and “the Edge of glory,” with gaga occasionally squalling with bonnie raitt gusto alongside her Elton John-esque piano skills, just proves she’s doesn’t need the million-dollar broadway choreography and risque productions to entertain. While the EP fails to satisfy our need for holiday shopping music, it remains gaga’s most intimate collection yet. and that’s saying a lot.

grunge-rock resume, offer up a starbucks stocking stuffer. it’s even more surprising to hear him, dressed in harry Connick cool, attempting warm mood music for Christmas gatherings. he’s out to prove he can croon, but it isn’t the high caliber of crooning that will make grandma throw away her sinatra records. he turns a nat King Cole classic into old King Cole with his rushed phrasing; “i’ll be home For Christmas” eerily encounters lackadaisical impression of bing Crosby and the endless string serenades on the opening cuts start to overshadow Weiland’s every move. one original from Weiland surfaces with “happy Christmas and Many More” but fails to stand out amongst its company of carols. some actually glow with better performances, such as “have yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” the bob Marley-influenced “o holy night” or the playful “silent night.” surely the sinatra decorum is a bit of a reducer for Weiland’s fans, but he does try to have a little fun on the mix. unfortunately he doesn’t bring enough fun or enough inventive a-ha moments to make the disc all that believable or essential. but you have to give him major props. What bad-ass rocker you know would attempt a holiday album? don’t expect the rolling stones to crank out a “Jingle bells.”

JINGLE THIS! “have yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

GLEE CAST The Music, The Christmas Album, Vol 2 (Columbia)

JINGLE THIS! “White Christmas,” “the Edge of glory”

SCOTT WEILAND The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Softdrive)

it’s an eyebrow raiser to hear stone temple Pilots’ frontman scott Weiland, with his not-so-squeaky clean reputation and

still churning up its endless volumes of high-end karaoke, the popular glee cast returns to the recording booth for another round of holiday cheer on the Christmas album Vol. 2. as always, the disc returns to the familiar set-up: spin up the oldies, add some sprinkle to the newbies and and produce a few originals. the originals are comfy additions: “Extraordinary Merry Christmas” sounds like a Katy Perry-“Jingle bells” update, while Matthew Morrison’s “Christmas Eve With you” bubbles with nashville pop smartness. but don’t expect too many surprises here, unless you want to hear an appetizing vocal coming from Mark sailing on bruce springsteen’s gruffy classic “santa Claus is Coming to town,” Lea Michele take on Joni Mitchell’s “river” or another cute update on the Waitresses’ 1981 holiday gem

“Christmas Wrapping.” We don’t know when these albums will cease. as long as the series endures, you best believe Vol. 2 won’t be the last present they’ll unwrap for upcoming holidays.

JINGLE THIS! “Christmas Eve With you,” “river,” “do you hear What i hear?”

GINUWINE A Ginuwine Christmas (Notifi Music Group)

Prepare for a holly un-jolly internal ear bleed. ginuwine tries to squeeze the sexy into Christmas using stale r&b beats and unforgiving mixed messages. on the album opener “Mistletoe,” Elgin uses horny “Pony” antics on weak turn-on lines that certainly trivialize the popular porn-and-b sound (“i know my name ain’t santa Claus, but c’mon sit on my lap”). adding b2K flair to “12 days” doesn’t help the set, nor does the rave-peppered “Joy to the World” bring the joy. although ginuwine plays with a few decent originals (“all i Want”) and turns the manger scene into a Luther Vandross love fest on the one-minute “silent night,” the songs sound like they were culled from home-studio demo phases and are married with subpar arrangements. Without sir tim Mosley nowhere nearby to help steer the r&b singer into an avenue of satisfying holiday sex jams, ginuwine is disappointedly harboring back on his younger years to get some trey songz inspiration, while neglecting a perfect opportunity to sing sexy mature music that doesn’t feel corny or appear to sound like a desperate attempt at winning some quick holiday cash.

JINGLE THIS! “all i Want”

NEED MORE TINSEL FOR THE HOLIDAY? Check out the our Holiday Guide at

www.hifimagazine.net/holidayguide

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h buying in bulk has its advantages. thank god for box sets.

the purpose: to pack in the hits and get the job done. reviews by J MatthEW Cobb

BEACH BOYS Smile Sessions

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EARTH, WIND & FIRE

Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011

The Columbia Masters

(Warner Bros.) Sugg. Retail Price: $10

(Capitol) Sugg. Retail Price: $139

oming off the beach boys’ 1966 landmark Pet sounds album, brian Wilson quickly went to task on a follow-up. the plan was to take the breezy upbeat sunshine pop of Pet sounds and interchange it with the beatles’ sgt. Pepper psychedelic experiments while also taking advantage of the newly-revealed 8-track recorder. the incomplete album was curbed spiked by disagreements amongst the band, brian’s Lsd use and the budding mental issues that followed along with the expensive and lengthy recording process using both 4-track and 8track recorders. the fragments were resurrected forty-five years later from the day they were originally recorded. though portions of the unreleased smile have been leaked to beach boy box sets in recent years, smile sessions stuffs the gamut of the recordings into an envisioned complete piece of work. the other brothers may be agonizing over the package, but Wilson is upbeat over the launch, so are beach boy surfers. “good Vibrations” is the album’s template, but mostly everything around the double-disc charity is a

R.E.M.

compliment to its modular production and spaced-out fun, particularly “Vega-tables” and “do you Like Worms.” beach boy harmonies are still bubbly across the milky way of psychedelic rock (“heroes and Villains”). there’s plenty of outtakes that actually become fun interludes. some will become irritated in the incompleteness, but smile sessions almost feels like an interactive map that becomes whatever you want it to become. as good as the music is or may have been if actualized, the boys were hard at work turning art into science. they didn’t come out with a cure, but the experiments were just as trippy as their choice of drugs. Luckily, the album bears the resemblance of a long player. the gigantic 5-disc box set just reinforces more of what you’ve heard along with the endless possibilities that it could’ve, would’ve should’ve been.

SPIN THIS! “good Vibrations,” “Vega-tables”

this is the end of r.E.M.as we know it, but at least the music tagged at the end of their career sounded just as good as the beginning. Most bands who’ve lived that long can’t say that much. r.E.M. pokes fun at themselves with the “part garbage, part lies” conjuncture, but this two-disc, forty song set offers none of that. that’s because it attempts to squeeze all the hits and album favorites of their thirty-plus career into the set. and although it flows like an itunes playlist, it has its advantages. it play in chronological order, it brings both their exhaustive Warner bros. catalog and their indie work on i.r.s. records together and it squeezes a their final unreleased tracks, recorded in the summer of ’11, into the mix. the new tracks are poised to attract the most attention for just being the last of the last for the band, but they are attractive additions to the set. “a Month of saturdays” channels the upbeat clumsiness of the Cars and “We all go back to Where We belong” is a somber farewell using burt bacharach strings and woodwinds. Cramming standouts from a slate of fifteen albums into two discs is a { CONT.D ON PG. 61 }

(Columbia) Sugg. Retail Price: $159

the funk gods of the elements are long overdue for a box set. While Columbia is combing through their inventory to cull out re-mastered deluxe box sets on Kansas, sam Cooke, Electric Light orchestra and nina simone, none of those collections bear the auspicious glow of Earth, Wind & Fire. the fifteen-disc set contains all the EWF albums with the label, which sums up everything relevant to the band’s career. after performing the music on Melvin Van Peebles’ sweet sweetback’s baadasssss song soundtrack, the Chicago-based band, led by Maurice White, was signed to Columbia by Cbs mogul Clive davis and released their highly-ignored debut album Last days and times. the follow-up, head to the sky, fared better. the band eventually found their groove with that’s the Way of the World, with a series of gold-certified albums immediately following. Collectors will be enthused over the availability of Last days and times and long overdue re-mastered copies of 1980’s Faces, but fans will invade the box for its rarity disc which hosts Live in rio performances, two instrumen{ CONT.D ON PG. 61 }


ssss STING 25 Years (Cherrytree/A&M) Sugg. Retail Price: $119

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seT THeM FRee: sting’s super box set comes with a super price

SPIN THIS! “Fragile,” Fields of gold,” “driven to tears”

VARIOUS ARTISTS A Complete Introduction to Disco (Universal UK) Sugg. Retail Price: $60

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ssembling all the greatness of disco – from its humble underground beginnings to its last-minute top 100 climbs – into four discs is a feat that sounds virtually impossible to pull off. but it’s one that universal Music pulls off with a Complete introduction to disco. Just like the title says, the box set covers all the bases for those willing to take a course on the glam, the funk and the boogie of disco. What sets this collection apart from the endless train of disco party packs in the marketplace is that it goes for rarities and overlooked gems like Carrie Lucas’s “dance With you,” Coffee’s “Casanova,” “Can’t Live Without your

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f you’re like me, you probably like your sting with the Police. there he doesn’t feel like a limp noodle eager to try out every style, technique and guise known to music. still, sting isn’t some regular “englishman from new york.” as an unconventional musical explorer, he’s known for testing the waters and despising the boredom that comes with familiarity. that doesn’t mean he cringes over the reggae and jazz of his early days. after departing the Police in 1984, sting made his leap into jazz pop with the dream of the blue turtles and began his journey through a myriad of styles that included worldbeat, nu Wave, blue-eyed soul and most recently classical on symphonicities. so it’s no wonder that 25 years is so tough to comprehend and digest. the three-disc diet is cluttered with sting’s encyclopedia of music, from meditative Celtic folk “soul Cake” to gospel-pop (“if you Love somebody set them Free”) to warm Eighties pop (“Fragile”) to blue note jazz (“Moon over bourbon street”) to rave electro (“send your Love”). but the disc rewards listeners with live-recorded perks that include a six-minute “driven to tears” and a super 12-minute medley of “bring on the night/When the World is running down.” a new delicate mix of “if you Love somebody” is also present along with everything great about sting’s solo material like “Fields of gold,” “Englishman in new york,” “be still My beating heart” and “seven days.” but the symphonic touches on his 2010 remake of “next to you” don’t hold a candle next to the Police’s original and the absence of “demolition Man” and sting’s collaboration with bryan adams/rod stewart on the no. 1 pop hit “all For Love” in a slim box set priced over $100 is simply inexcusable. Love” and slick’s delightful futuristic “space bass,” which appears here in its seven-minute 12-inch version. the first disc also focuses on funky soul records that were inspired by James brown’s loose jams (bobby byrd’s “hot Pants”); covering territories from stax to Motown to Loft classics like Eddie Kendricks’ “girl you need a Change of Mind” and Manu dibango’s “soul Makossa.” there are a few faults here: Choosing the trammps’ “happy People” over “disco inferno” is a curriculum blunder, unearthing bad mixes of Chic’s “dance, dance, dance (yowsah! yowsah! yowsah!” and shalamar’s “take that o the bank” seem unforgiving. but with chunks of disco glory like dan hartman’s dancefloor suite “Vertigo/relight My Fire” and sylvester’s “you Make Me Feel Mighty real” aboard and thirty-eight pages of marvelous liner notes scribed by the disco stars and the ones that made them (tom Moulton, Patrick adams, John Morales, Leroy burgess), the goods outweigh the bad.

SPIN THIS! “Casanova,” “space bass,” “From here to Eternity,” “Can’t Live Without your Love”


VARIOUS ARTISTS The Fame Studio Story 1961-1973 (Ace) Sugg. Retail Price: $48

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tlantic, Chess and stax may have had the illustrious name power, but rick hall’s Fame studios, home of the Muscle shoals sound, crafted the behind-the-scenes engine that helped stimulate those hit-making factories. the Fame studio story, a three-disc set chronicles the glory years of all the hard work and creativity that blossomed from the northern alabama studios, covering a large swath of coverage from ahmet Ertugen’s northern soul stable, Memphis’ stax empire and many of the Fame label stars and their talented unknowns. at the same time, their own legacy surrounds their heroic achievements of integrating black and white musicians during the heat of the Civil rights era. delightfully opening with arthur alexander’s “you better Move on,” rick hall’s first swing of success , disc 1 goes through a swing of styles ranging from brill building pop (“dan Penn’s “Let them talk”), romantic soul (James & bobby Purify’s “i’m your Puppet”), southern funk (the Fame gang’s “grits and gravy”) Motown pop (Linda Carr’s “Everytime”) and gutsy stax-influ-

POINTER SISTERS Break Out (Big Break) Sugg. Retail Price: $16

enced rock ‘n soul (arthur Conley’s “i Can’t stop (no, no, no)” and Wicked Pickett’s “Land of 1000 dances”). northern labels wanted in on the hit-making recipe, which ended up helping ease the burden sprouting from the escalating demand for more output. unlike the tight restrictions on personnel at Motown, Fame musicians offered their services to a host of household acts like Little richard, Etta James, Clarence Carter, Wilson Pickett and the osmonds. those acts are represented on all three discs, but the overlooked and forgotten stars easily steal the spotlight. Candi staton works her gutsy thunder into the lovelorn gems “the thanks i get for Loving you” and “i’m Just a Prisoner (of your good Lovin’”), easily setting her up for the disco blues of “young hearts run Free” and “Victim” that followed her into the seventies. roscoe robinson’s “What Color is Love” also stands out, along with Mitty Collier’s “take Me Just as i am.” the set beams with joy as a young aretha Franklin makes history with the legendary “i never Loved a Man (the Way i Loved you)” and otis redding inserts his Macon soul into the sparse instrumentation of an unreleased demo of “you Left the Water running.” Certainly Fame did more than procreate soul music, but soul music was what Fame was most legendary for. still, those that follow the Fame saga may frown over the set’s failure to include Fame’s biggest r&b hits. not including Candi staton’s cover of tammy Wynette’s “stand by your Man” and Clarence Carter’s “back door santa” is baffling to hear. thankfully, there’s still a lot to dig your teeth into on the Fame studios story. as a comprehensive guide to the greatness of Fame, and for historical preservation reasons, this set – packed with exhaustive liner notes and photos – is as close to a befitting tribute to the unsung institution than anything ever issued before.

SPIN THIS! “the thanks i get for Loving you,” “Land of 1000 dances,” “Let them talk”

beats burst with disco-burning animation. With the long version of the emotionally-drenched ballad “i need you,” the instrumental of “Jump,” an extended “automatic” and a ferociously funky seven-minute mix of “baby, Come and get it,” this deluxe edition has everything inside to get dance floors excited again.

SPIN THIS!

“baby Come and get it (12” remix),” “i need you (12” special remix),” “nightline”

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efore break out, the Pointer sisters were wrestling with cover songs of rock royalty (bruce springsteen’s “Fire”), cutesy pop (“he’s so shy”) and following up on their grand ole opry obligations (“slow hand”). the family group had done everything under the sun except remained a viable presence on r&b radio and furthermore, an act without a solid album. sure the Pointers had hit singles on their shoulders, but they hadn’t achieved the task of delivering a solid full-length album. When producer richard Perry revealed 1983’s break out, anita, June and ruth got their wish. With four top 10 hits and with black radio anchoring tightly to “i need you” and “baby Come and get it,” the Pointer sisters scolded the mouths of critics by beating the odds, finally unveiling the perfect centerpiece for the growing electronic/dance genre of the Eighties. a year later, Planet records pulled a smart move by re-releasing the LP with a slightly altered update including a remix of “Jump (For My Love” and also adding the previously released “i’m so Excited” to the mix in the heat of the album’s peaking success. that idea is now considered normal practice in the world of deluxe editions; helping to add more time to the stop watch. almost thirty years later, uK’s big break records gives break out its buoyant honors with a double-disc affair sporting remastered tracks, 12” remixes, single versions and the unveiling of the track that got away from Michael Jackson (“nightline”). Enclosed inside the digi-pack is a glossy 24page booklet with extensive liner notes featuring colorful fan club eye-candy along with interviews with the Pointers, principal songwriters and a foreward from Perry. the most recent u.s. Cd version is a pale knock-off when compared with bbr’s supersized combo. on that edition, the dance tracks are subdued to a whisper. in bbr’s hands, the synths and drum programming

R.E.M.

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is a hard ass job and a taxing one for a band like r.E.M., who lit the flame of progressive alt-rock using a careful blend of jangly bob dylan folk and precocious rock and secured their prominence amongst giants using enduring songs like “the one i Love,” “Losing My religion,” “orange Crush,” “Everybody hurts,” “at My Most beautiful” and 2011’s “Überlin.” but the attractive set proves to be a winner for those hungry for a sweet introduction to the band and those hungry for a goodbye souvenir. honestly it stands out as their finest “greatest hits” collection, as we know it.

SPIN THIS! “We all go back to Where We belong,” “Überlin,” “orange Crush”

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tals (“boogie Wonderland,” “Let’s groove”), Maurice White’s productions for other stars and unreleased material. Certainly the gripes may pile up on the lack of single edits and 12” inch mixes but with a 40-page booklet loaded with photos and commentaries and original LP mini-jackets tucked inside, Earth, Wind & Fire’s Columbia Masters has enough stars to make a satisfying constellation.

SPIN THIS! “boogie Wonderland (instrumental),” “Let’s groove (instrumental)”


SEPT 24 VIVA LAS VEGAS FOR IHEART FEST

AUG 28

SEPT 15

BEYONCE BABY BUMP REVEALED

T.I. FINALLY GETS “OUT OF JAIL” CARD

s s

AUGUST 28 Gaga introduces us to Jo Calderone on MTV VMA’s.

3

SEPTEMBER

4

SEPT 8

#RIP SOULJA BOY’S CAREER

Out with the squeaky clean-teen hip-hop, in with the bad ass N.W.A. ego. Unfortunately his leaked anti-military “f**k the army” rap, released weeks before Labor Day, gets him in a world of trouble. Goodbye cool points.

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SEPT 14

GUCCI MANE DOES THE JAILHOUSE ROCK Besides that gory senseless two scoops of ice cream that now beguiles his face, Gucci Mane is making a career out of prison life. He did a six-month prison term in 2005 for assault and did a year in jail for violating his probation in 2009. Now add six more months to his record in 2011 after admitting to pushing a woman out of his car.

4

SEPT 14

NEAL SCHON AND HOUSEWIFE MICHAELE SALAMI DATING

s 3

SEPT 17 Occupy Wall Street protests begins in NYC

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2

3

SEPTEMBER

After violating his probation for the umteenth time, T.I. gets out of jail and vows to not go back. Let’s pray for the best. T.I. is currently serving a year of probation.

2

At the MTV Video Music Awards, Beyonce’ stuns the crowd during her performance of “Love on Top” with a finale for the books. Unveiling the baby bump was probably more important on social media than any of the Moon trophies passed out that night.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but the iHeartRadio usic Fest - tagging headliners like Coldplay, Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas, Nicki Minaj and Jay-Z to its inaugural event – sells out in less than ten minutes. Looks like the pop world finally finds their Monterry Pop Festival.

s 4

STAR

SEPT 19

Reality TV had nothing on this. Who would’ve imagined Real Housewives of D.C .star Michaele Salami, best known for crashing President Obama’s first state dinner back in 2009 - ditching her husband Tareq Salahi for Journey guitarist Neal Schon? Nobody.

CHAZ BONO DEBUTS ON DANCING WITH THE STARS Being Cher’s son… e’hem…daughter has its advantages and disadvantages. Singing and acting could flow through the genes and you’re promised to have double the support (including supports of Bono). Unfortunately dancing just wasn’t one of them.


OCTOBER

SEPT 28 JUSTICE FOR MICHAEL

TONY BENNETT LANDS CAREER FIRST NO. 1 ALBUM

The trial of the century kicks off. And with every passing day during the trial, the evidence unveiled by the prosecutors dig a crater into the defense’s plans. It didn’t take long for the verdict to drop. Murray gets the maximum sentence of four years behind bars.

Age ain’t nothing but a number and pop crooner Tony Bennett proves just that after making a historical first, at the age of 85, by landing at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with Duets II. It’s his first time at the top spot.

SEPT 27

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3

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OCTOBER

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4

OCT 5

RIP STEVE JOBS

SEPT 21 R.E.M. BREAKS UP Instead of falling into the trap that the Kings of Leon faced in May or crumbling apart like most rock bands, the Athens, Ga.-based altrock band decides to ends the 31year career on a positive note. No friction, no drama, just a simple goodbye. The band released Collapse Into Now, their fifteenth studio album, back in March and released a two-disc compilation merging together the best from their I.R.S. and Warner Bros. catalogs. A future reunion tour/album promises to reap in the rewards of their sudden and solemn departure.

The Apple co-founder revolutionized the portable music player and re-introduced to doubters the possibilities of digital sales using iTunes.

s

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OCT 6

HANK WILLIAMS, JR. SUFFERS FROM PUBLIC GAFFE

OCT 7

RCA CLOSES JIVE, ARISTA AND J RECORDS RCA decides to bring down the house on popular ‘90’s label Jive Records along with the entire Clive Davis’ post-CBS empire with the shutdowns of Arista and J Records. #RIP

Hank Williams, Jr. + FOX News = another one of those Rush Limbaugh “OMG” moments. The country legend compares President Obama with Hitler during a joke gone wrong and lands him in hot water, when ESPN ends their Monday Night Football associations with the country singer.

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NOVEMBER NOVEMBER NOV 7

DEC 7 GUNS, CHILIS, BEASTIES AND NYRO TO BE INDUCTED IN ROCK N’ ROLL HALL OF FAME The inductees for the 2012 class of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame includes Guns N’ Roses, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Beastie Boys. Rod Stewart will be inducted for the second time for his involvement in Faces/Small Faces. Laura Nyro, folk rocker Donovan and the late Don Kirshner round out the list.

DEC 15

3

DECEMBER

s s s 4

THE JUSTIN BIEBER BABY SCARE

Before Maury Povich could say “you are not the father,” the Justin Bieber baby mama drama involving Mariah Yeater and her infant son heads tanks to an insidious low. A lawsuit scares Bieber to take a paternity test, but she immediately drops it afterwards. Her ex-boyfriend, Robert Powell, who is serving time in jail, claims he is the father of the child and that she selected Bieber as the celebrity in order to make money off the story.

4

NOV 11

EMI BOWS OUT And then there were three. EMI, one of the major labels and sporting a library of records for the Beatles, Coldplay, Katy Perry and Pink Floyd, went up for sale for $1.9 million. The new owner: Universal Music Group. Looks like we’re in for a very long bumpy ride.

4

NOV 22

?UESTLOVE & THE ROOTS BLAST BACHMANN WITH BITCHIN’ ENTRANCE SONG In the heat of Occupy Wall Street protests and Republicans campaigning for their bid for the White House, leave it to the Roots to stick it to the man. In this case: the woman. Michele Bachmann makes her grand entrance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon with Fallons’ band, The Roots, playing an instrumental chorus of Fishbone’s ska hit “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” as her walk-on song. Of course, the Pubs had no idea what the song was or who sung it, but some someone spilled the beans on the prank. ?uestlove apologizes, so does Jimmy Fallon. But NBC lays the law on late night’s funkiest band. The punishment: censorship by at least three NBC executives. There goes the end of free speech using art.

2

s

Howard Stern announced as judge on ‘America’s Got Talent’


DEC 15 BEACH BOYS UNITE FOR 50TH ANNIVERSARY

3

DEC 19

VAN HALEN ANNOUNCES TOUR WITH DAVID LEE ROTH

MICHAEL BUBLE BRINGS HOLIDAY CHEER TO MUSIC INDUSTRY Leave it to a crooner to bring good tidings and joy to the world. Christmas, the holiday effort from Michael Buble, has already sold 1.52 million copies in the U.S. after only seven weeks of sale. At this pace, the album is slated to become the secondbiggest selling album of 2011 sitting comfortably behind Adele’s 21, which has already amassed 5 million in U.S. sales.

s 4

DEC 19 Melanie Amaro wins Season 1 of X-Factor

s s

s 3

d

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DEC 1

DEC 16

SHOW BIZ KIDS GET UNRULY ON X-FAC-

ETTA JAMES TERMINALLY ILL

TOR

Their talent wowed millions, but their spoiled brat ways got in the way towards their quest of fame. On Simon Cowell’s US version of X-Factor, the kids proved to be too much for voters. First up was 14-year old rapper Astro, who showed he had a very bad attitude weeks before his boot. Next was Drew - a singer who possessed a musical mix of Florence Welch and Adele. When she learned she was a goner, tears started to flow like Niagra Falls from her BFF. But it was Rachel Crow’s elimination that shocked viewers with the cry heard all over the world. Crow, 13, collapsed on the stage as if she attending a funeral. Despite Cowell’s decision to allow young teens on his show, many critics believe the kids are too young to handle their newfound fame and public rejection. We kinda agree.

Hot For Teacher indeed. Van Halen announces a 2012 tour with former frontman David Lee Roth. The tour will coincide with a new album featuring Roth.

The “At Last” singer, 73, gets grim news about her life as she battles with hepatitis C, kidney disease, leukemia and dementia.

DECEMBER

s

DEC 19

2

In 2012, Beach Boys fans will be surfing across the USA as the band, including Brian Wilson, plans to reunite in celebration of their fiftieth anniversary. Along with a highly-anticipated 50-date tour, a new album is also in the works. Putting bad blood and painful memories behind him after years of mental problems and substance abuse, Brian Wilson is highly enthusiastic with reuniting with his buddies. “This anniversary is special to me because I miss the boys, and it will be a thrill for me to make a new record and be on stage with them again,” Wilson said in a statement. Already on the calendar for more of the “Good Vibrations” will be their first concert at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and a possible surprise appearance at the Grammy Awards.

s 4

DEC 30

KATY PERRY AND RUSSELL BRAND ANNOUNCES DIVORCE Seems like the ‘Firework’ in the marriage for pop singer Katy Perry and Brit comedian Russell Brand is out. According to Us Weekly, after a big spat over lastminute holiday plans, the two decided to part ways, citing irreconcilable differences. The two were only married for fourteen months.


get more buz-z-z at www.hifimagazine.net

Top 5 Songs

Top 5 Albums

1 1 We are Young

fun. featuring Janelle Monae

2 1

21 adele

2

2

stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) Kelly Clarkson

3

-- Various artists

Now 41

3

3

set Fire to the Rain adele

4

16 Lady antebellum

Own the Night

4

4

Glad You Came The Wanted

5

9

5

The Boss is back, netting his tenth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. The new unit sold 196,000 in its first week of release. It is notable in becoming the first LP to push Adele’s 21 out of the top spot, ending her 23-week nonconsecutive run.

Mylo Xyloto

29 Coldplay

somebody That I used to Know Gotye featuring Kimbra

t

Wrecking Ball

-- Bruce springsteen

t

1

Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” holds tightly to the No. 2 spot (162,000, down 2%), as fun. has all the “fun” at No. 1.

t

YOUTUBULAR BELGIAN INDIE SINGER BREAKS THROUGH POP CHARTS

A surprising hit from Belgian-Australian singer-songwriter Gotye - born Wouter De Backer - has topped the UK charts three weeks straight and is now making major noise in the U.S. “Somebody That I Used to Know,” the hit single featuring alt soul singer Kimbra as guest, made an astonishing 26-16 leap on the Hot 100 and has ascended to its highest peak so far - No. 5. The music video has already been viewed on YouTube over 119 million times and has been promoted by actor Ashton Kutcher on his Twitter account. Gotye’s third LP Making Mirrors (see pg. 36 ), which sports the single, reached No. 20 on the week of Feb 8.

Top 5 Mainstream Top 40

Top 5 Digital Albums

20 Lady antebellum

3

23 Coldplay

4

-- Bruce springsteen

5

Take Care 8 Drake

t

Own the Night

2

12

stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) Kelly Clarkson set Fire to the Rain

2

1 adele

Mylo Xyloto

3

4 David Guetta feat. Nicki Minaj

Wrecking Ball

4

3 Jessie J

5

7 Gym Class Heroes feat. Neon Hitch

A .25 cent one day sale by Google Play (and later, AmazonMP3) caused some of 2011’s big releases to resurrect back into the Top 10, including Lady Antebellum’s Own the Night, Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto and Drake’s Take Care. Smart move indeed, since the first four weeks of an album’s shelf life are disqualified of charting if it is sold under $3.49.

Turn Me On

Domino

ass Back Home

ReD letters determine new entry 00 Chart position on March 17 00 Chart position on March 10

t

Now 41 1 19 Various artists

Jessie J’s bubbly pop song maintains its sustaining power at radio and in record sales, jumping 10-8 (111,000 singles sold).


1 21adele

1 fun.

We are Young

2

Glad You Came The Wanted

Voyage

3

stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) Kelly Clarkson

Il Volo Takes Flight: Live...Detroit Opera House

4

set Fire to the Rain adele

Duets II

5

somebody That I used to Know Gotye

6

Part of Me Katy Perry

7

Wild Ones (feat. sia) Flo Rida

8

Call Me Maybe Carly Rae Jepsen

9

Good Girl Carrie underwood

10

sexy and I Know It LMFaO

3 Celtic Thunder 4 Il Volo

The Greatest Hits Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston’s music proves to be the healing salve for those hurt over her earthly departure. Currently, her Greatest Hits collection proves to be the best-seller unit in her entire catalog (45,000, week of March 21).

Port of Morrow

7 The shins 19

8 adele Release Me

9 Lyle Lovett

The Hunger Games: songs from District 12...

10 James Newton Howard

1

Take Care (feat. Rihanna)

Turn Me On (feat. Nicki Minaj)

2

Turn Me On (feat. Nicki Minaj) David Guetta

The One That Got away

3

set Fire to the Rain adele

4

We are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)

5

Love You Like a Love song selena Gomez & the scene

ass Back Home (feat. Neon Hitch) Gym Class Heroes

6

so Good B.O.B.

Domino

7

Wild Ones (feat. sia) Flo Rida

Not Over You

8

starships Nicki Minaj

You Da One

9

Feel so Close Calvin Harris

Fire to the Rain 1 set adele

2 David Guetta 3 Katy Perry

Good Feeling

4 Flo Rida

SEE THE VIDEO & EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS

We Found Love

5 Rihanna 6

Adele continues to munch up the charts with 21’s tracks. So far, 21 has become the longest-running No. 1 album since Prince’s Purple Rain (1984, 1985). The momentum behind “Set Fire to the Rain,” 21’s third single, is esclating in sales (297,000 on the week of Feb. 29) and at radio, despite being buthchered on American Idol by finalist Eben Franckewitz.

HIFIMAGAZINE.NET

7 Jessie J

9 Rihanna Disaster

10 Jojo

t

8 Gavin DeGraw Rihanna turns up the sexy in a flirtatious presentation loaded with black & white imagery and Cee Lo lyric video concepts.

all charts placements above compiled on March 18 2011

10

Drake =

=STATION PICK

fun.

KIIS-FM (102.7 FM) Los Angeles, CA

NOMINATE A STATION

pickme@hifimagazine.net

t

6

t

5 Tony Bennett

t

Wrecking Ball (special edition)

2 Bruce springsteen

International Love (feat. Chris Brown) Pitbull

Rapper B.O.B. experiences a major spike in adds with “so good” single, jumping 17-6.

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CALENDAR

TOURS FESTIVALS CLUB PERFORMANCES

CALENDAR SUBMISSIONS All press releases for North American tour and music festival schedules should be sent to:

calendar@hifimagazine.net

Van Halen

sPring ForWard: springsteen does sXsW, then hits the road for ‘Wrecking ball’ tour

BIG NAMES, BIG REUNIONS EXPECTED TO CAP 2012 TOUR SEASON u2 may be done with their gigantic record-breaking 360 world tour, but there’s a handful of acts out there destined to fill in the gap.

a new album and a new record deal with interscope seals the deal. Eddie roth is also coming along for the ride, so tickets should be selling like hot cakes. still, expect them to run through a medley of their hits.

The Who the Who has been quite inactive in their touring gigs, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t hip to the idea. Pete townshend wants to hit the road with a tour celebrating Quadrophenia, their 1973 famed mod-opera LP which was re-released in a director’s cut edition last year. roger daltrey has also confirmed that the group will likely do something in 2012. they might want to refrain from using that shameless air-guitar gimmick used in their super bowl halftime performance,

Madonna Madonna just signed a $120 million major contract with Livenation, so you best believe a major tour is underway. With a new digital single hitting the markets, a super bowl halftime performance en route and a rumored full-length album for 2012, Madonna may just be competing with gaga in certain markets.

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band With a 2012 album slated to drop and a performance slot at this year’s grammys, the boss is expected to hit the road with force in 2012. the passing of longtime E street saxophonist Clarence Clemons, maybe tough to swallow for springsteen, but he will toil on with a renewed vigor as fans rush to check out his Wrecking ball tour, which is expected to kick off this spring in the u.s with 19 shows. uK dates will run from the middle of May until the end of July, while the u.s. dates are still being tweaked out. springsteen hasn’t toured since his Working on a dream tour, which ended in december 2009.

The Rolling Stones although Keith richards’ mouthdropping memoir may have put the nail in the coffin of his relationship with band mate Mick Jagger, it shouldn’t get in the way of a 50th year anniversary tour. their last tour broke records and brought in millions. Expect the same to happen. Plans are already being made for rehearsals in London, according to richards.

Beach Boys also celebrating 50 years of music, the beach boys are reuniting for a 50-date run. they are already booking arenas, but keep your fingers crossed. With brian Wilson back in the mix, who’s to say that a little scuffle might not envelop overtime.

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Lady Gaga gaga loves to perform. she feeds off the energy of the crowds, so expect her to return with another Monster ball incarnation. it might not supersede the length of her Monster ball tour (201 dates), but it will be major.

Adele after weeks of recovery from last november’s vocal chord surgery, adele will be springing back to life in 2012. she has a hot album on her hands and the demand to see her in person isn’t diminishing. after a planned performance at this year’s grammys, adele will once again hit the road to finish up her u.s. tour.

footnotes

T After returning to his work regimen, John Mayer announced he will be cancelling his 21-city tour because of a recurring vocal cord issue. He made the annoucement via his Tumblr account: “I went in for a visit on Wednesday [3/7] and a scope of my vocal cords revealed that the granuloma has grown back where it had mostly healed. This is bad news. Because of this, I have no choice but to take an indefinite break from live recording.” Mayer , 34, just completed his fifth studio LP, Born and Raised. The album will is still scheduled for release on May 22.


UNDER THE RADAR o

0 FESTIVITIES hot

BLACK KEYS TAKES EL CAMINO ON THE ROAD

T

he Black Keys will hit a few spots in their El Camino (get the joke?) to celebrate the arrival of their 2011 disc. The first leg of the alt-rock duo’s North American tour (with Arctic Monkeys as opener) includes larger arenas than before, and will cap off with two big shows at Coachella and back-toback shows in Texas and Colorado. Although their popularity has soared into the cosmos since 2011’s critically-acclaimed Brothers, the pair aren’t losing sight of their musical roots. “We don’t change anything, whether we’re playing on a small stage or a big stage,” says Auerbach. Carney echoes his buddy: “We play the same way we’ve always played.” [ DATES AND LOCATIONS SUBJECT TO CHANGE ] » March 9 - Washington, DC @ Verizon Center » March 10 - Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center » March 12 - New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden » March 13 - Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre » March 14 - Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre » March 16 - Indianapolis, IN @ Conseco Fieldhouse » March 18 - Grand Rapids, MI @ Van Andel Arena » March 19 - Chicago, IL @ United Center » March 20 - Cleveland, OH @ Quicken Loans Arena » March 23 - Norfolk, VA @ Constant Convocation Center » March 24 - Charlotte, NC @ Bojangles Arena » April 13 - Indio, CA @ Coachella » April 20 - Indio, CA @ Coachella » April 22 - Frisco, TX @ Edgefest 2012 (FC Dallas Stadium) » April 24 - Houston, TX @ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion » April 25 - Austin, TX @ Frank Erwin Center » April 27 - St. Louis, MO @ Chaifetz Arena » April 28 - Tulsa, OK @ BOK Center » April 30 - May 1 - Denver, CO @ 1stbank Center

RED HOTS READY FOR “i’M WITH YOU” TOUR

T

our dates are now surfacing for Red Hot Chili Peppers’ rescheduled 2012 tour, while more dates will be added this fall. Multiple foot injuries sustained by Anthony Kiedis caused the tour to go on pause last year. The frontman has since recovered and will hit the road with his fellow Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, along with Flea and new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, to finish up the rest of their U.S. itinerary. [ DATES AND LOCATIONS SUBJECT TO CHANGE ] » March 29 - Tampa, FL @ Tampa Bay Times Forum » March 31 - Orlando, FL @ Amway Arena » April 2 - Sunrise, FL @ Bank Atlantic Center » April 4 - Raleigh, NC @ RBC Center » April 6 - Charlotte, NC @ Time Warner Cable Arena » April 7 - Columbia, SC @ Colonial Life Arena » April 9 - Greensboro, NC @ Greensboro Coliseum » April 10 - Duluth, GA @ Gwinnett Center » April 12 - Memphis, TN @ FedEx Forum » April 27-28 - Toronto, CAN @ Air Canada Centre » May 4-5 - Newark, NJ @ Prudential Center » May 7 - Boston, MA @ TD Garden » May 10 - Washington, DC @ Verizon Center » May 11 - Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center » May 19 - Gulf Shores, AL @ Hangout Music Festival » May 25 - St. Louis, MO @ Scottrade Center » May 26 - Grand Rapids, MI @ Van Andel Arena » May 28 - Rosemont, IL @ Allstate Arena

1

4 3 25

1 aPriL 13-15 / 20-22

Coachella Empire Polo Field | indio, Cali. tickets: $52-$412 guests: dr. dre, radiohead, the black Keys, bon iver, david guetta, shins, Wild Flag, snoop dogg www.coachella.com

2 aPriL 27-May 6

new orleans Jazz & heritage Festival new orleans Fair grounds | new orleans, La. tickets: $45-$975 guests: Eagles, Foo Fighters, the beach boys, zac brown band, Eddie Veder, herbie hancock, ne-yo, My Morning Jacket, bon iver, Florence + the Machine, Cee Lo green, al green, bonnie raitt, Janelle Monae, Maze featuring Frankie beverly, tom Petty & the heartbreakers www.nojazzfest.com

3 august 12-14

schaeffer Eye Center Crawfish boil bJCC | birmingham, ala. tickets: $30-$140 guests: snoop dogg, Jane’s addiction, Wiz Khalifa, Lupe Fiasco, Megadeth, the Cult www.schaeffercrawfishboil.com

4 JunE 7-10

bonnaroo great stage Park | Manchester, tenn. tickets: $209-$1399 guests: radiohead, red hot Chili Peppers, Phish, the beach boys, bon iver, avett brothers, the shins, Foster the People, skrillex, the roots, Fun., santigold, Ludacris, the Civil Wars, the black Lips www.bonnaroo.com

5 May 18-20

hangout Music Festival gulf shores beach | gulf shores, ala. tickets: $194-$749 guests: dave Matthews band, red hot Chili Peppers, Wilco, alabama shakes, the Flaming Lips, Jack White, yelawolf, Michael Franti & spearhead, Chris Cornell, Cage the Elephant www.hangoutmusicfest.com


FADE TO BLACK

k

The Hippest Conductor in America

W

ith the swagger of billy dee Williams and the professional wit of dick Clark, don Cornelius would broadcasted his charm using his deep velvety baritone voice into living rooms across america with now-infamous catch phrases like “it’s a stone gas, honey” and “in part, we wish you love peace and soouull” for a long run of thirty-six years on the hippest trip in the world – soul train. he was the maestro of each 60-minute saturday morning presentation and he led the show through the ever-changing decades of music, until the train pulled into the station for good in 2006. on February 1, 2011, don Cornelius was found dead in his sherman oaks, California home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 75. the iconic show, which holds the distinctions of being the longest-running, first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history, was known for its world of fashion and the hottest dance moves. (Jody Watley, Jeffery daniels of shalamar, nick Cannon, Jermaine stewart, Carmen Electra and rosie Perez all started out as soul train dancers.) but the show was best known for launching virtual unknowns in the music world to the top of the charts. although soul train focused its musical aim towards r&b and soul music, it constantly reinvented itself with the times, bringing disco, hiphop, gospel, pop and everything else with it. Elton John was a fan of the show, and even performed on the show. so did david bowie, duran duran, abC and other white acts. For some, soul train was the black alternative to american bandstand, but in actuality it was black folk jamming to hot dance songs, regardless of who performed it. While dick Clark’s american bandstand focused in on top 40 hits, soul train focused most of its interests on building an enterprise for the black product, during a time when very few black images were aired on television. that all changed when don Cornelius, a former Chicago deejay and television anchor and a fan of dick Clark, exercised his wisdom to bring change to that reality. after producing the show in its first season in Chicago, Cornelius took the train to California and expanded its viewership across 80 markets by its third year. the move proved to be a winning formula and put soul train into the history books. the music world and fans of the show are mourning over the untimeliness and unfortunate news surrounding don Cornelius’ passing. Kenny gamble, co-founder of Philadelphia international records and composer of the no. 1 “t.s.o.P” that ended up being the show’s legendary theme song, says Cornelius was a great contributor to american, not just black, culture. “soul train, like apple and Coca-Cola, is an american

1983-2012

brand,” gamble says.

lest we forget... Etta JaMEs 1938-2012 Chess records singer Etta James, 73, died after suffering from a myriad of health problems that included hepatitis C, leukemia and dimentia. she battled with obesity in her latter years but resolved matters after having gastric bypass surgery in 2002. born in Los angeles, James helped transformed the growing dynamic of rhythm & blues in the 1950’s and ‘60’s along with pioneering icons like ray Charles and ruth brown. hits like “trust in Me,” “i’d rather go blind, the gospel-inspired “something’s got a hold of Me” and the pernieal classic “at Last” defined her career. in 1993, James was inducted into the rock and roll hall of Fame.

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hubErt suMLin 1931-2011 howlin’ Wolf guitarist hubert sumlin, 80, died of heart failure in Wayne, new Jersey. the legendary Chicago blues guitarist inspired an elaborate list of rock ‘n roll stars including Eric Clapton, the rolling stones and Jimi hendrix with his signature work on Wolf recordings like “smokestack Lightning” and“spoonful.” after Wolf passed in 1976, sumlin continued to record music and tour, even joining the allman brothers and the rolling stones on stage. his 2004 solo LP, about them shoes, paired sumlin with a hefty list of greats including Keith richards, Clapton, Levon helm. the stones wound up taking care of all of his burial expenses.

raLPh MaCdonaLd 1944-2011 Legendary percussionist and songwriter ralph Mcdonald, age 67, died of lung cancer on december 18, 2011. best known for cowriting roberta Flack & donny hathaway’s grammy-winning runaway hit “Where is the Love” and bill Withers’ “Just the two of us,” Mcdonald has rendered his musicianship to a host of albums for george benson, stevie Wonder, Paul simon, Luther Vandross, hall & oates, david bowie, billy Joel, James taylor, ashford & simpson, aretha Franklin and amy Winehouse. he also contributed the funky “Calypso breakdown” to the bestselling saturday nighy Fever soundtrack.


HiFi Magazine, Issue No. 3  

HIFI Magazine is the new, official resource for the avid music lover. From rock to pop, R&B to hip-hop, HIFI Magazine strives to incorporate...

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