Music Review

The Story Behind Uptown Funk

April 17, 2015 // 0 Comments

Listen Now When singer Bruno Mars and producer Mark Ronson first landed on the instrumental track and a few lines of what would become the hit song “Uptown Funk,” Ronson says the room was filled with electricity. Get The Podcast “There’s nothing more exciting than that period of the song, because the potential is unlimited,” Ronson tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. But then the process turned long and labored for the co-writers. Mars, Ronson and Jeff Bhasker would meet up in Los Angeles or London or Memphis and work on it, but the energy wasn’t the same. “You can never get that spirit back,” Ronson says. “You try to write another verse, and it seems forced, because the first one was so natural.” In fact, there was a moment where Ronson says they thought, “Maybe this song wasn’t meant to be.” But Ronson, who also plays guitar in the song, says he knew there was potential, so he kept fighting for it. [...]

Wolf Alice Bros

April 17, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Robin Hilton The North London rock group Wolf Alice has been picking up steam this year with a potent mix of vintage ’90s rock, electronics and moody atmospherics. It’s a sound that both shimmers and glowers — part The Sundays, part Smashing Pumpkins. Wolf Alice dances along this line memorably on “Bros,” the latest cut from the band’s upcoming full length debut My Love Is Cool. Propelled by lead singer Ellie Rowsell’s stirring voice, the song is a celebratory but wistful reflection on the waning years of youth. Hear The Song Bros Artist: Wolf Alice From: My Love Is Cool Playlist “Shake your hair/ Have some fun,” sings Rowsell. “Forget our mothers and past lovers / Forget everyone.” “‘Bros’ is sentimental song for us,” says Rowsell via email. “[It’s] taken on a new form as we have grown with it. It’s a simple ode to childhood friendship and imagination. When we first played it [...]

Rock or Bust

April 15, 2015 // 0 Comments

AC/DC’s peculiar musical talent is the ability to remake virtually the same album every few years as if no time at all has passed at all since the last one … and as if the music world itself hasn’t changed a bit since the 1970s. Indeed, any of the 11 songs on these Aussie rock icons’ 15th album in 42 years would have sounded right at home on any of the band’s releases. In 1975, for instance, original lead singer Bon Scott (who died in 1980) sang, “It’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll).” Four decades later, Brian Johnson proudly boasts, “In rock we trust, it’s rock or bust!” For AC/DC, then, the institution of rock music is as close as the band is likely to ever get to religion. But will it really console these guys as the ravages of time and the consequences of poor choices take their toll? In mid-2014, the band announced that at age 61, rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young could no longer record [...]

Shaped Splintered And Remade

April 9, 2015 // 0 Comments

February 07, 201512:40 PM ET Eric Weisbard Colin Davey/Getty Images Music critics these days love to argue about “rockism,” the unexamined prejudices we bring to our musical judgements, and “poptimism,” an effort to celebrate commercial stuff that some think goes way too far. My book, Top 40 Democracy: The Rival Mainstreams of American Music, aims to get us out of that endless back and forth by focusing on the key place songs become pop: radio, which, beginning on AM with Top 40 in the 1950s and then moving to FM in the 1970s, gave music its deepest connection to Americans. Radio made new tunes and styles familiar, perennial, memories. And unlike movies or TV, radio was structurally segmented: Different formats like country, R&B, rock, Top 40 and Adult Contemporary targeted different audiences. Top 40 Democracy The Rival Mainstreams of American Music by Eric Weisbard That’s formats, not genres: Radio sold listeners to advertisers, not music to fans, [...]


April 6, 2015 // 0 Comments

“I Want You to Know” If you went to sleep last night wondering if the current electronic dance music craze has finally run its course, the answer is no. And this movement that’s largely been fueled by European DJs and producers such as David Guetta, Avicci, Calvin Harris and Swedish House Mafia can now add another Continental contributor to that list: Zedd. Zedd—whose real name is Anton Zaslavski—was born in Russia but grew up in Germany. Though he’s relatively new on the scene Stateside, he’s already pocketed a Grammy (in 2014) for Best Dance Recording (“Clarity”). And he’s attracted notice from some high-profile collaborators, namely Selena Gomez and OneRepublic’s omnipresent Ryan Tedder, who together wrote “I Want You to Know” with Zedd (along with one other contributor named KDrew). As is often the case with EDM, it’s not the top-credited band or performer whose voice(s) we hear on this song. It’s [...]

Fifty Years

March 31, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Tom Huizenga Sometimes great things are born from happy accidents. Fifty years ago today in San Francisco, composer Steve Reich premiered It’s Gonna Rain, his first official piece. The music, made by manipulating a recording of a Pentecostal preacher, opened a door to a new way of composing for Reich and helped launch his career. He says the creation of the work came about by chance as he was fiddling with two identical tape loops of the preacher that got out of synch with each other. “Actually the going out of phase was kind of an accident,” Reich told NPR’s Fresh Air in 1999. “But when I heard it I thought, ‘This is fantastic.’ It’s a kind of seamless process that goes on and on. After I did that piece and another one like it, I began to apply that principle to live musicians from about 1967 to 1971, and then sort of moved on from there.” i Steve Reich, with a phase-shifting pulse gate, photographed in New York in 1969. [...]

Mozart In The Jungle

March 20, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Tom Huizenga and Anastasia Tsioulcas  Pill popping, pot smoking, back-stabbing, bed hopping and tantrum throwing — now we’re talking classical music! At least that’s what the new Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle would have us believe is all in a day’s work for orchestra musicians. The 10-part series is based on a tell-all book of the same name published a decade ago by oboist Blair Tindall. The small-screen version depicts the fictitious New York Symphony on the threshold of its season-opening concert, the first with its charismatic but capricious new conductor Rodrigo (single name only, please!), played with goofy charm by Gael García Bernal and more than loosely inspired by Gustavo Dudamel, the dynamic Los Angeles Philharmonic music director. There’s also a perky newcomer oboist named Hailey (modeled on Tindall), played by Lola Kirke; the orchestra’s general manager Gloria, in a believable turn by Bernadette Peters; and Malcolm McDowell as the [...]

Ed Sheeran

March 7, 2015 // 0 Comments

Friday, March 6, 2015 MPAA Rating Album x Genre Pop, R&B Performance Reached No. 2. Record Label Atlantic RELEASED September 24, 2014 Reviewer Adam R. Holz Ed Sheeran “Thinking Out Loud” None of the lyrics on British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” actually include the traditional wedding vow words “for better, for worse.” But that’s exactly the determined spirit of lifelong faithfulness and commitment that it evokes. It’s a song long on promises of resilient romance, the kind that patiently weathers whatever losses the decades might throw at two people growing old together. Sounding something like a parallel-universe (and octaves-higher) reboot of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” Sheeran begins by wondering whether the things that age takes away will undermine his relationship with his beloved: “When your legs don’t work like they used to before/And I can’t sweep you [...]

Top 5 Christian Songs of 1980 – entertain

January 29, 2015 // 0 Comments

 Top 5 Christian Songs of 1980 By Kim Jones Christian Music/Gospel Expert 1980 signaled the end of the “Jesus Movement” in Christian music history and it was my last year in Junior High — the year before that magical time of growing into near-adulthood (high school). Though I haven’t though about those days in years, my youngest daughter recently brought them back to mind. She was going through boxes in the storage room and came across my old 8th grade yearbook. After the obligatory laughter over how we wore our hair (and our clothing/style choices), she asked what the big music hits of the day were. While I remembered a few, I had to dig for the rest. As I listened to the music that helped shape me, I was taken back to a time when things were a whole lot simpler. My hope is that for those of you who are old enough to remember the 80s, this flashback to the top five Christian songs of 1980 will bring you the same smiles it brought me. The Imperials – One [...]