Archive for May, 2011

Gold Leaves: Spacious, Spare, Melodic

Gold Leaves is a new project from Seattle-based songwriter Grant Olsen, who has also recorded as one half of duo Arthur & Yu. “The Ornament” is the spacious, spare, melodic title track from the upcoming album.

Frank Ocean: Hottest new voices in R&B 2011

Odd Future’s Frank Ocean debuts video for “Acura Integurl” which is an unreleased track not previously included on his nostalgia, ULTRA LP.  The clip was directed by Dave Wilson.

Frank Ocean is one of the most interesting new male performers in the R&B space lately. The production is good and more importantly Frank is soulful, so soulful. This is the second time in a week that we’re featuring him, and I’m sure you understand why.

Def Jam will package new material along with tracks from nostalgia, ULTRA for release this summer. No specific date is set just yet, despite the rumors. Frank Ocean also just came off a run of Odd Future dates on the East Coast where he performed “She” off Tyler, The Creator’s album and a couple of other tracks from his nostalgia, ULTRA LP on the road. Keep an eye out for other select live appearances that Frank Ocean may pop up at this summer and beyond while he works on his own live show.

Don Alney re-interprets the Bombay Skyline

My father, Don Alney, working from the top of an “old Bombay” skyscraper has interpreted a skyscape that portrays Bombay, Mumbai -whatever the hell you want to call it – and has tremendous truth to it. It shows the immenseness, the density, the construction, the obscenity (read: Ambani private residence which is the massive structure to the right of the image) and much more. Part Blade Runner, Part Dhobi Ghat – to me. I see the work of a man that is taken with a scene that shows the globalization of India, the massive divide between the rich and everyone else, and the romance of a city that has its own stories, its own fairy tales, its own tragedies, its own myths. This is a side of the city that is separate, in its solace and in its growth skywards, and yet only a tiny fraction of what happens there.

Duncan Alney is equally inspired by Wyclef Jean, Brian Eno, and Kieslowski. He’s living the American Dream with his wife Angela and their cats Boogie, Pookie and Zooie.

Creep: “Days” is ominous, appealing horror pop (goth to me)

Introducing Creep. They’re Lauren Dillard and Lauren Flax from Brooklyn. The music is at once dreamy and ominous. This is the first single from December 2010 and features The XX’s Romy Madley Croft whose sound is so unique to me. Its definitely worthwhile. File it under neo-goth, witch house or horror pop. Delicious however you file it.

CREEP / Days by Young Turks

Duncan Alney is equally inspired by Wyclef Jean, Brian Eno, and Kieslowski. He’s living the American Dream with his wife Angela and their cats Boogie, Pookie and Zooie.

White Denim: New “Stoner Harmonies”!

Photo Credit: Michael Hammett and Bobby Weiss

The Austin rockers’ fourth studio album features Southern-fried guitar licks and stoner harmonies.

For a healthy dose of instrumental noodling, listen to White Denim’s live performance of ‘At The Farm’ – a track off their new album ‘D’ which dropped yesterday on Downtown Records.

Stream the whole album here:


Today flower-punk provocateurs Black Lips are offering listeners their first opportunity to hear the band’s new album Arabia Mountain via a full album stream on Grooveshark. Arabia Mountain is the sixth full length from Black Lips, featuring production by Mark Ronson, Lockett Pundt (of indie perennials Deerhunter), and the band themselves. This week also marks fans’ first opportunity to pre-order the deluxe edition of Arabia Mountain from iTunes, featuring the exclusive bonus track “Kiss It Goodbye”. The album sees its official release on June 7, after which the Lips will embark on the next leg of their continuing US tour (dates below).




Marvelous Minimalism: Stacy Barthe “Without You”

This track has blown me away. The Fader put it up a few days ago. Apparently it was released last summer. But its blowing up on iTunes. It’s just so different, and yet bursting with flavor and talent.

Duncan Alney is equally inspired by Wyclef Jean, Brian Eno, and Kieslowski. He’s living the American Dream with his wife Angela and their cats Boogie, Pookie and Zooie.

Kanye West, George Michael & Stevie Wonder: huh?

Recently, Kanye covered Stevie Wonder’s somber classic “They Won’t Go When I Go” a benefit show hosted at The Moma in NYC. Here’s Kanye’s cover, George Michael’s version and the original by Stevie.

Lou Reed adds two dates on UK Tour

Lou Reed has added another date to the UK leg of his upcoming European tour in July.  Reed and his band will play the Wolverhampton Civic Hall on Friday July 1st.  Tickets, priced £35, can be ordered from 0870 320 7000, or ticketmaster.

Reed will play two further concerts in the UK including The Hop Farm Music Festival (Saturday July 2nd) and London HMV Hammersmith Apollo (Monday July 4th).  In addition to the UK dates, Reed will perform several concerts in France, including Le Grand Rex (Tuesday July 5th), and an extensive tour of Italy that includes dates in Milan, Rome and Taormina, Sicily.  The European tour follows the announcement of a Reed’s new ‘Lollapalooza Live’ DVD that will be released in July.

Tony Diodore has just been confirmed as Reed’s new guitarist, who will join the current line-up of Rob Wasserman (bass), Tony Smith (drums), Kevin Hearn (keyboards), Ulrich Krieger (sax), Sarth Calhoun (processing, fingerboard continuum) and Lou Reed (vocals, guitar).

Duncan Alney is equally inspired by Wyclef Jean, Brian Eno, and Kieslowski. He’s living the American Dream with his wife Angela and their cats Boogie, Pookie and Zooie.

Ladytron’s White Elephant is lush, melodic heaven

Liverpool’s notable electronic lovelies, Ladytron, are back with a full length album (due September). The first single is “White Elephant” and is just heaven. Reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins, it’s driven by dreamy, sparklingly persistent synthesizers and a catchy melody. Vocalists Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo’s marriage of harmonies reverb into your welcome consciousness. It’s a big track. Perhaps my favorite ever from the band.

Ladytron's fifth studio album is due in Sept 2011

Duncan Alney is equally inspired by Wyclef Jean, Brian Eno, and Kieslowski. He’s living the American Dream with his wife Angela and their cats Boogie, Pookie and Zooie.

Julian Casablancas covers Buddy Holly

Strokes front man - Julian Casablancas - promoting his solo debut at Luna Music, where community and music live. Photographed by Duncan Alney.

New solo material from Strokes front man Julian Casabalancas. He’s covering Buddy Holly’s “Rave On”.

Julian Casablancas Photo Credit

Duncan Alney is equally inspired by Wyclef Jean, Brian Eno, and Kieslowski. He’s living the American Dream with his wife Angela and their cats Boogie, Pookie and Zooie.

Rome: Danger Mouse’s Homage to the Spaghetti Western

Danger Mouse. Jack White. Norah Jones. A tribute to the spaghetti western. Here’s the first track. More coming from passionati on this important release! The first few listens have been sublime. An alcohol influenced review is forthcoming.

Danger Mouse: Rome

Bootsy Collins: the Man Who Put Bass In Yer Face

Bootsy Collins is the Man Who Put Bass In Yer Face. He’s the undisputed, original funk ‘n’ roll wild child, the Godzilla-toned high minister of the all-powerful “one”, a sly dog who with his trademark psychedelic stovepipe, knee-high platform boots and star-studded bass guitars, makes the Cat in the Hat look tame.

Inspired by Jimi Hendrix and tutored by no less an authority on the big beat than James Brown, Bootsy has stomped his way through the last 40 years of music history and lived the high life.

After spraying outer space bass all over classic recordings by the Godfather of Soul,
P-Funk, and his own trail-blazing groups, including Bootsy’s Rubber Band, the Sweat Band and Praxis – Bootsy has arrived at a kind of Zen-like balance that he credits for inspiring his new album Bootsy Collins’ Tha Funk Capital of the World.

“The secret that I learned,” he explains from Bootzilla Word Headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, “is that you can not tell the Universe what to do. When the Universe is ready, it will tell you – and then you got to be ready. And when the Universe told me it was time to record my new album, Lord, I was ready!”

So was an elite coterie of Bootsy’s friends, a blend of musicians and cultural giants who took up temporary residence in Tha Funk Capital of the World to help the illustrious Mr. Collins create a collective masterpiece so full of grooves, grit, guts and glory that he calls it “the best thing I’ve ever done – a whole new chapter in the life of Bootsy.”

His booty shakin’ co-authors include a staggering A-list of real-life heroes: the scholar Dr. Cornell West, the activist Rev. Al Sharpton, the actor Samuel L. Jackson, rappers Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and Chuck D, P-Funkers George Clinton and Bernie Worrell, percussionist Sheila E, R&B legend Bobby Womack and guitarists Buckethead and Catfish Collins; the latter Bootsy’s brother and longtime six-string foil, who passed away during the disc’s making.

From the opening “Hip Hop @ Funk U” to the closing “The Munchies 2011,” Bootsy Collins’ “Tha Funk Capital of the World” is a percolating playground of soul-deep rhythms and layered melodies punctuated by lyrics that range from meditations on the nature of truth to the joys of fun-loving hipness to spiritual transcendence. And while Bootsy’s bass is the album’s heartbeat, it’s his voice that brims with giddy delight, goosing up the blissed-out vibe.

As much as “Tha Funk Capital of the World” stays sonically in Partytown, many of its songs do reveal higher ambitions. Freedumb features Dr. West testifying about the deceptions and distractions of the modern world while Bootsy brings his thunder, and “Minds Under Construction” is Bootsy’s ode to the creative potential of youth.

“Young people have so much intelligence and ambition and desire, and we need to help them harness that and express it, instead of letting them become lost under the weight of poverty or drugs or the other pressures of today,” Bootsy explains. “There are real messages on this album that I wanted, to share, and, again, that idea of being open to the Universe, of just getting in the zone and letting the songs and the ideas come right through me, was so important in realising that.”

“Mirrors Tell Lies,” which samples Jimi Hendrix’s song “Roomful of Mirrors,” is a dream-come-true for the head chancellor of Funk U. “To be able to share a stage or a song with Jimi was something I fantasised about as a young man listening to him on cassettes while I rode in James Brown’s bus between gigs,” he says. “Suddenly, just as I’m about to turn 59 years old, it happens.”

Another zenith is “Still the Man,” a Brown biography authored and rapped as a sermon by Rev. Sharpton. It’s a thoughtful and heavily funky analysis of Brown’s style and impact, set to a groove plucked from the same bag as “Super Bad,” “Soul Power” and “Sex Machine,” classics Bootsy and Catfish helped put the shake to during their early ’70s tenure in Brown’s band the J.B’s.

“In a way, Mr. Brown is the biggest influence on this whole album,” says Bootsy. “When I joined his band, he took me under his wing and taught me about the business, but the most important thing he taught me about was the ‘one’ – the downbeat that always drove his music and is the engine for all great funk.”

“What’s funny is that I was a guitar player before I joined Mr. Brown’s band, and I wanted to play bass like Jimi Hendrix. Eventually, that’s exactly what I did, adding effects and freeing up the instrument to go anywhere I imagined it could go. That’s how Bootsy became Bootsy. James Brown wanted me to just keep it simple and keep on hitting that ‘one’. I used to grumble about it, but today I’m thankful.”

“Recently I’ve been volunteering to teach music to young people, and all they really want to know about is how to really get on that ‘one.’ And in 2008 I did a James Brown tribute tour, and I found myself just getting back to the really basic, driving old-school way that Mr. Brown wanted me to play. I loved it! That led me to be open to that sound and style as the foundation of Bootsy Collins’ “Tha Funk Capital of the World” when these songs started coming to me.”

Ultimately, though, there was a bigger lesson in James Brown’s music, and in Jimi Hendrix’s, which Bootsy absorbed and applied to everything – his image, his sound, his style and all 22 of his earlier albums as a leader. What he heard from his inspirations wasn’t just driving beats and high-flying sonic architecture, but freedom.

“What all of this – my music, my life – is about, is liberty,” Bootsy explains. “It’s about pursuing the sounds and ideas and things that you believe in and that you feel. The best music urges you to open your mind and your heart and take a bigger look at the world and what you can bring to it. That’s really what Bootsy Collins’ “Tha Funk Capital of the World”trying to teach.”

Duncan Alney is equally inspired by Wyclef Jean, Brian Eno, and Kieslowski. He’s living the American Dream with his wife Angela and their cats Boogie, Pookie and Zooie.

Harsh City: THC and booze fueled LA adventure

Editor’s Note: Watch this film if you’re up to it!

Christian Bale is my favorite flawed character actor. I would want to fuck with character in a dark alley. This is a film Hunter Thompson would have loved. Drugs, sex, violence, and the underbelly of LA. Not to mention destructive friendships and recklessness that is powerfully upsetting. Bale is menacing. He’s scary. I’ve met people like this in real life. And once they have their first drink – I want to step off the ride asap. I imagine that a soldier’s life during a war is awful regardless – but this seemed to convincingly communicate the aftermath of war (for a soldier) better than any other portrayal I’ve seen.

Its not an easy  movie. There is no happy ending. There is no reward. And yet its a helluva ride. You up for it?


Haunted by nightmares from his murderous military past, the honorably discharged Jim (Christian Bale) spends his time between his impoverished fiancee in rural Mexico and cruising the streets of east L.A., knocking back beers and smoking joints with his buddy Mike (Freddy Rodriguez). They also pawn a gun, run into some trouble with a jealous gangster, and fool Mike’s girlfriend (Eva Longoria) into thinking he’s actually dropping off resumes instead of getting drunk and high with his buddy. Homeland Security meanwhile wants to recruit Jim for some special ops in Central America, but first he has to pass a urine test.

This is the directorial debut of David Ayer, who wrote TRAINING DAY, which this film resembles with its smog-saturated cinematography and loving attention to the minutiae of male bonding and “homey codes” in and around L.A.’s inner-city drug culture. One never knows where the story is going, or what’s around the next corner in this off-center yarn, and Ayer captures that uneasy feeling of cruising through a bad part of town in a car with someone who you slowly realize cannot be trusted. Christian Bale delivers, as usual, a towering performance: growing progressively more disturbed as the film goes on, he weeps, roars, struts, shouts and flips out, maintaining audience sympathy all the while.

Ibrahim Ferrer’s music is triumphantly beautiful

You have to know Ibrahim Ferrer‘s music. It is at once old and new, captivating, sweeping yet intimate and one of the most memorable voices in recent music.

Duncan Alney is equally inspired by Wyclef Jean, Brian Eno, and Kieslowski. He’s living the American Dream with his wife Angela and their cats Boogie, Pookie and Zooie.

Hanni El Khatib: “abundant garage punk swagger”

“Hard to believe that only one man can pack this much heat.” – NYLON

“Hanni El Khatib’s sound is a blistering barrage that you’d expect from a former San Francisco skate punk, recently transplanted to LA. Perhaps the closest comparison is to a “De Stijl”-era Jack White, if he had claimed lineage from the Stax catalog instead of Son House.” – LA TIMES

“Bathed in crimson light, these two men filled the giant theater with the kind of music you’d want at the beginning of a bar fight or when Clint Eastwood rode into town with a knife in his boot. Peppered with dark tales of violent love, betrayal, and a city that’s “dirty as fuck,” this was the kind of sound that crawled up your leg and made your hair stand on end.” – LA WEEKLY

“L.A.’s Hanni El Khatib proved there’s plenty of life left in the guitar/drums duo gimmick. Especially when it’s attacked with abundant garage punk swagger.” BOSTON HERALD

Wilcox Sessions – Hanni El Khatib (Dead Wrong) from Wilcox Sessions on Vimeo.

Duncan Alney is equally inspired by Wyclef Jean, Brian Eno, and Kieslowski. He’s living the American Dream with his wife Angela and their cats Boogie, Pookie and Zooie.

Flame & Citron is compelling, stunning cinema

Stylish and yet retains gritty period realism

In the mood for a war film? Flame & Citron is based on the lives of two Danish resistance fighters. Wel,l okay, they’re assassins. Nazi assassins mostly. The two central characters have real chemistry and the performances are compelling. Mads Mikkelsens’ quirky Citronen, a nervously energetic, emotionally charged man and his partner, the red-haired, cool-headed Flammen (Thure Lindhardt). The film is stylish and yet retains gritty period realism – yet its dreamy and noir-ish. The film is full of the politics we rarely see depicted in a convincing way in world war II films, double cross, intrigue, coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, and even a femme fatale. The leading men have relationship problems and this frankly makes the film more believable. There is no glamor in this story, and there are frayed and broken relationships strewn everywhere – but this is a film about Nazi occupied Denmark. Think “Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid”, or really more accurately the stylish “Bonnie & Clyde”. Its a stunning film and is based on a true story.

Duncan Alney is equally inspired by Wyclef Jean, Brian Eno, and Kieslowski. He’s living the American Dream with his wife Angela and their cats Boogie, Pookie and Zooie.

Derby Hats 2011 – The bigger the better

Our style maven, Margit Fawbush, brings us the scoop from Churchill Downs

The much anticipated first Saturday in May is a treat for people watchers and horse-racing fans alike. Yes, I love watching the ponies run (and placing a few bets as the Juleps grease my pocketbook), but mostly, I love the hats. Here are a few that stood out – both in a good way and well…it’s a matter of opinion. But I can tell you with confidence that these ladies looked long and hard for just the right chapeau and spent a pretty penny. And in honor of the die-hard Derby fans who take a more tongue in cheek approach – I’ve included a shot of a long-standing annual favorite – she’s got spunk!

Margit Fawbush is an aficionado of restaurant experiences, boutique hotels and is currently seeking the perfect Gin & Tonic.