Onstage, 19-year-old Archy Marshall looked like a surly high-schooler on class portrait day: a too-big brown sport coat, a thrift-shop tie and a perpetual discontented sneer.
But whenever he opened his mouth at his headlining show Wednesday night, the wounded growl that came out had a rough wisdom all its own.
Marshall's project, King Krule, doesn't have many peers in contemporary music. His gravelly slur gets him deserved Tom Waits allusions; his torrent of bummed-out, street-level lyricism puts him in the line of English greats like the Fall and the Jam. The music on his debut, "6 Feet Beneath the Moon," almost sounds like angry smooth jazz -- moody diminished and augmented guitar chords, played without distortion but with a post-punky panic.
He's got fans in Beyoncé and Frank Ocean, and Wednesday's set proved why many more are likely to follow them.
How does a man who turned his back on the world of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in a quest to be closer to God feel about being welcomed into an institution whose very name celebrates the culture of fame?
“Even though it’s taken time, I’ve always been an optimist,” said the 65-year-old musician born Steven Georgiou, formerly known as Cat Stevens and who now uses the single name Yusuf. “I was brought up on the view that if you wait patiently till the end of the story, the good people will live happily ever after. So this is sort of a fulfillment of that idea.”
The greatest of all holiday specials, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," is on ABC at 8 tonight [Thursday]. (It's also available to stream free via Hulu.) Last year, I wrote about its music, which is some of my favorite music of all time. Unable to restate it any better, I offer the story again here.
It's here. The holiday season. And with it, an ever-creeping onslaught of music stuffed with enough synthetic cheer to weave a polyester overcoat for Dodger Stadium.
Hearing such tidings of great joy seems innocent enough, but repeated exposure could very well cause outbreaks of seasonal affective disorder on sunny days. But for all the bland and often cynically motivated holiday music produced each year (John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, anyone?) there's one constant beacon within the genre that can soften the hardest heart.
Adele is running out of awards and honors she can receive. The artist, who in the last year picked up an additional Grammy Award as well as an Academy Award, on Thursday was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Prince Charles.
Adele was recognized for her contributions to music, according to the Associated Press.
The 25-year-old has remained an international sensation since the release of her debut, "19," in 2008. Her 2011 album "21" has sold 10.8 million copies in the U.S. alone, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The Member of Order of the British Empire (MBE) recognizes "distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services outside the civil service and work with charitable and welfare" groups," according to the British monarchy's website.
Details have been relatively scant regarding a new album from Adele, although some reports have mentioned that a forthcoming effort could include contributionsfrom songwriter-for-hire Ryan...
French dance duo Daft Punk, who have thus far resisted touring in support of its hit 2013 album "Random Access Memories," have booked at least one live date in 2014. The act was among the first wave of performers unveiled for the Jan. 26 Grammy Awards.
Other stars set to appear on the telecast are Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons. The latter two, in Grammy fashion, will be performing together.
Daft Punk, who last appeared on the Grammys in 2008 with Kanye West, looks to be spared a duet partner, at least for now. The Recording Academy is billing Daft Punk's appearance as an "exclusive" one.
Daft Punk and Lamar are competing in the album of the year field. While it's customary for all nominees in the category to perform at the Grammy Awards, Daft Punk cultivates an elusive persona. Persistent, unrealized tour rumors have trailed the band since last spring. When Daft Punk merely advertised "Random Access Memories" at this year's Coachella Valley...
Ray Price was the mentor and the leader. He was discovered and brought to Columbia Records by Lefty Frizzell, and he made his first record on Columbia with Lefty's band. That was a song called "If You're Ever Lonely Darling." After that, after he made his debut on Columbia, he gave many other people a chance to do the same thing. He brought Roger Miller to the surface, and he gave Willie Nelson a job in his band.
In 1966, I was on tour with Ray down in the states of Texas and Oklahoma, and that was the first time I met Ray. Of course, I was a fan for many years before that. If I'm not mistaken, we toured 93 straight days together, took five days off and went home, then came back and did 45 more. That was back in the days you did two shows a night and got paid for one.
Back then, he was like he was when we did the Last of the Breed tour [in 2007, with Willie Nelson]. Every night he was politely giving me and Willie a vocal lesson.
In February, the Swedish duo Icona Pop is set to begin warming up arena audiences for both Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry, whose “Bangerz” and “Prism,” respectively, are among the year’s biggest pop albums.
For a group with its own top-10 hit in “I Love It,” the high-profile gigs represent an obvious growth opportunity (the band has already appeared on “Dancing With the Stars” and later this month will perform on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.")
But the hook-ups also reflect some savvy brand alignment. Headlining the Fonda Theatre on Tuesday night near the end of their own North American tour, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo positioned themselves precisely at the midpoint between Cyrus and Perry: pleasure-seeking troublemakers with hearts of solid gold.
Few year-end culture lists can inspire more morning-after regret than the ones that provide snapshots of things we've done on the Internet. Remember the day, for instance, your coworkers caught you watching local firehouses doing the "Harlem Shake"? The good news is you weren't alone, as Google this week released its most searched-for song list, and early year relic "Harlem Shake" tops it.
A collection of moments that make up the last 12 months, Baauer's video sensation enjoyed its peak search month in March, and has steadily fallen since. Its interest today, for instance, is nearly nil.
Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" came in at No. 2, a climb up the Google search chart that began around the time of her MTV VMA appearance; it peaked in October. That's about a month after the release of the song's official video, which featured a mostly nude Cyrus swinging around an iron ball with a sledgehammer.
Jailed members of Pussy Riot are expected be freed months ahead of when their prison terms are due to end. Russian lawmakers on Wednesday approved an amnesty law that would clear an immediate path of freedom for Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina.
Russian news agency RIA Novosti reports that the amnesty bill, floated in early December to mark the 20th anniversary of the nation's constitution, "will be applied to thousands of Russian prisoners -- primarily retirees, invalids, women with children and pregnant women, and victims of the Chernobyl disaster."
Ria Novosti notes that Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina each have young children and would, therefore, qualify for amnesty.
Early reports out of Europe suggested the two members of Pussy Riot could be freed as early as Thursday, as British outlet the Guardian quotes prison officials who said the inmates could walk as soon as the bill was passed.
Celine Dion was on a Studio City soundstage last week, rehearsing for her performance on a holiday TV special. Ne-Yo had joined the French Canadian singer to run through "Incredible," a duet from Dion's new album, but almost as soon as she'd tilted her head back to unleash a flurry of octave-scaling notes, an abashed expression flashed across her face.
"I was too early," she told Ne-Yo. Then she laughed, aware perhaps that no one else in the room had noticed. "Hey, even when we're bad, we're good," she said.
Few Dion fans could've imagined such an easygoing attitude back when the singer was chewing through the competition with "My Heart Will Go On," the bombastic love theme from James Cameron's "Titanic." The song won Grammy Awards for record and song of the year and drove Dion's 1997 album "Let's Talk About Love" to sales of over 10 million copies in the United States alone.
With no publicity or promotion, 59 Beatles tracks appeared for sale Tuesday on iTunes under the moniker "The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963." The collection, consisting largely of coarse-sounding recordings for the BBC, is retailing for $39.99 in the U.S.
But for how long?
Reports of the set being for sale around the globe began surfacing early Tuesday. A sense of mystery surrounded the project, as it was said to have disappeared and reappeared in some regions. Although it's currently for sale in the U.S., distributing label Universal Music Group declined to comment on the record or its existence.
Sources familiar with the project but not authorized to speak on it publicly would state only that it would remain available for "the foreseeable future." It is not believed it will be sold anywhere other than iTunes, at least in its current state.
The release is widely believed to be related to copyright law in the European Union, for which there is...
Slow motion, couples caressing, wind-swept close-ups, sun-burnt-shaded images of wide-open vistas -- consider John Mayer's video for his duet with girlfriend Katy Perry, "Who You Love," an unintended lovey-dovey response to Kanye West's "Bound 2," with a mechanical bull instead of a motorcycle.
There's romance here, but it's more of the greeting card variety. In addition to the promised intimate shots of Perry and Mayer, the two told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday that everyone else in the video is a real-life couple.
Said Mayer on the telecast, “There’s nothing scripted in that video except putting a bull in the middle of the desert."
By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
What to do with Lee Hazlewood? Too obscure for the Rolling Stone/Grammy canon, too cheesy for most hipsters, too square for hip-hop producers to sample and just freaky enough to startle the conformists, the late singer, producer and label head only dented America's musical imagination a few times during his 40-plus-year career. Most notably, this occurred when he teamed with his most famous collaborator, Nancy Sinatra, to write and produce "These Boots Were Made for Walkin'."
Fewer realize that behind that just-weird-enough hit — its trippy bassline, Sinatra's seductive growl and Hazlewood's baritone-bass vocals — was a would-be label kingpin. In the period following the "Boots" breakthrough, Hazlewood, who first made his mark co-writing and producing guitarist Link Wray's incendiary instrumental, "Rumble," secured financing and distribution through ABC Records to create Lee Hazlewood Industries.
Those five years are collected in "There's a Dream I've Been Saving 1966-1971:...
In the same year that Linda Ronstadt told the world she could no longer sing a note because of Parkinson's disease, she has been elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a possibility that she recently told the Los Angeles Times she’d never "given a second thought to."
Ronstadt, 67, is one of six new members who will be formally inducted next year, along with Peter Gabriel, KISS, Hall and Oates, Nirvana and Cat Stevens.
Acts that made the final ballot but did not make the cut for induction are Yes, N.W.A, Chic, the Meters, Deep Purple, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, LL Cool J, the Replacements, Link Wray and the Zombies.
Part of the reason Ronstadt never aspired to the Hall of Fame came out in "Simple Dreams," her new "musical memoir," in which she wrote that "I never thought of myself as a rock 'n' roll singer — I've thought of myself as a singer who sang rock 'n' roll, who sang this, who sang that."
The Beatles and the National Security Agency? There may be stranger bedfellows, but it’s difficult at the moment to come up with a good example.
Nevertheless, Federal District Court Judge Richard J. Leon turned to the Fab Four in the course of his ruling in Klayman vs. Obama, a suit brought by a consortium of citizens led by conservative public-interest lawyer Larry Klayman. Leon ruled that the NSA’s collection of information on U.S. citizens through their cellphone providers “surely” infringes on the rights of privacy established under the 4th Amendment and is, therefore, unconstitutional.
In reaching that decision, Leon castigated the government for “trying to have it both ways” in claiming that the NSA's communications surveillance program was designed to create a comprehensive database from which to monitor potential terrorist activity “across multiple telecommunications networks.” Yet Leon says...
The singer's latest album, released with no advanced warning, has shattered iTunes' record for the largest sales week for an album.
In just three days, the self-titled recording logged more than 617,200 downloads in the U.S., according to Apple. The company also announced the album has sold 828,773 downloads across the globe as it quickly shot to No. 1 in more than 100 countries.
As much of the country was tucking into bed Thursday night, the singer casually announced that the album was available for purchase on Apple's storefront.
Currently an iTunes exclusive, the “visual” album boasts 14 new tracks and 17 accompanying music videos. In just three hours, 80,000 downloads were logged.
Beyoncé beat the previous one-week iTunes record set by Taylor Swift's massive "Red,” which sold 465,000 copies in October 2012, and she scored the biggest first week sales of 2013 for a female act.
Downtown L.A.'s new Ace Hotel is set to open Jan. 6, and they're preparing to celebrate with a mighty, beautiful noise.
The experimental British group Spiritualized will convene a full orchestra, choir and band to re-create its landmark 1997 album "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" on Feb. 14 at the new hotel's theater. It will be the first performance in the new space, a concert co-promoted by Goldenvoice and FYF.
Tickets go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m., and run $59-$169.
Nine months after his nudity-enhanced video for "Blurred Lines" ignited a firestorm of controversy -- and helped turn the song into one of the year's biggest hits -- Robin Thicke released a new music video Monday for his song "Feel Good."
Not unlike the "Blurred Lines" clip, it's a relatively straightforward affair in which the blue-eyed soul singer performs his song (this one co-written and produced by will.i.am) while various women dance around him.
But where those women went largely without clothes in "Blurred Lines," here they're costumed in the manner of Las Vegas showgirls. (Thicke, as usual, is flexing his end-of-the-night rumpled-tuxedo look.)
Is the video any fun? Eh.
The song, too, feels pretty unremarkable, especially as compared to some of the superior tunes on Thicke's album that haven't yet been issued as singles. The bubbly disco-funk jam "Ain't No Hat 4 That," for instance, is just waiting to warm you up on one of these...
Vevet Underground drummer Maureen "Moe" Tucker reflected on friend and former bandmate Lou Reed in an appreciation published this weekend by British newspaper the Observer. Reed, 71, died in October of complications from a May liver transplant.
"It's just dawning on me that he's not out there anymore," Tucker wrote in the piece, which chronicles her first meeting with Reed as well as how the Velvets transformed her from a simple pop drummer into one trafficking in the avant-garde. Tucker has kept a relatively low profile in recent years, sporadically and quietly releasing the occasionally low-fi rock 'n' roll album.
Tucker's musical relationship with Reed blossomed after he graduated in 1964 from Syracuse University with a bachelor's degree in English. The following year, he first performed with multi-instrumentalist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison and Tucker — a provocative bunch who came to call themselves the Velvet Underground.
Near the end of the first of Jeff Tweedy's four-night residency at Largo in Los Angeles, the Wilco founder started discussing the set like he was doing a post-game interview.
"There wasn't anything left to give," he wryly observed, phlegmy and on the verge of a cold with a throat that over the evening had started to break. "I feel like I left my best stuff out there on the field," he added.
He was kidding, but the Chicago-based rock/folk/country guitarist and songwriter had a point. Through a set of solo acoustic versions of some of his most admired songs -- including "Via Chicago," "Heavy Metal Drummer," "Passenger Side" and "California Stars" (his adaptation of Woody Guthrie's lyric) -- the singer on Sunday burned the best of his energy before an intimate and wonderfully respectful crowd of 130.
"I am an American aquarium drinker, I assassin down the avenue," sang Tweedy to open "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," his and Wilco's career-defining kickoff to "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot."...