If there were any justice in the world, Janiva Magness’s newest, Original, would be as ubiquitous as Adele’s last album. You should hear her songs pouring out of car windows, women (and men) singing along, tears in their eyes from the sheer power of it. After all, Magness has an unbelievable voice, emotive and strong, and writes personal lyrics that speak to everyone. Janiva Magness, of course, isn’t marketed that way, which is a shame. She needs to be heard by a wide audience. She’s amazing.
Though the BPMs on La Roux’s new album, Trouble In Paradise, are lower than on her surprise hit debut, it’s still the kind of record that moves you to the dance floor. After a tumultuous break (losing her voice, breaking off from her former partner in La Roux), Elly Jackson has returned with a much warmer, fun record, and it’s a very welcome one.
I have and will always be biased when Gina Carano plays the lead or has a major role in a movie. She’s always been a favorite of mine and I get super giddy whenever I watch anything she is in. When I heard about her new film In The Blood I was freaking pumped.
By Cait Brennan
New York-born, L.A.-based singer/songwriter LP is a true American survivor. With roots in the music business going back to the ’90s, LP recorded two promising albums in the early 2000s, collaborating with Cracker’s David Lowery and hit maker Linda Perry in the process. But the impossible to pigeonhole artist and her considerable charm and swagger never really fit in with the machine. Deals with labels like Island Def Jam didn’t pan out, and LP reinvented herself as a songwriter, co-writing smash hits for Rihanna (“Cheers [Drink To That]“) and Christina Aguilera (“Beautiful People”), among others.
On her second album, All Or Nothin’, Nikki Lane (with the help of producer Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys) lets fly with incredibly hook-filled songs about drinking, smoking pot, one night stands, and crappy ex-boyfriends. Nikki Lane is a hard one to pin down: her music easily thematically fits into the “outlaw country” camp, and her voice is a magical mix of Loretta Lynn and Dusty Springfield, and All Or Nothin’ is crazy with the steel guitar of country, but she’s not exactly country. The most striking tracks on All Or Nothin’ sound like they’re straight off of the Red Bird label, the early ’60s girl group record company founded by Leiber and Stoller.
The problem with being a hardcore fan of any artist is the constant desire for more. We want new songs. We want new versions of new songs. We want a tour. We want new videos. We want it all, and we want it now, sooner if possible.
The new Suzanne Vega concert DVD, a show from Rome filmed in 2003, is great for those who haven’t had the chance to see her live. It’s a stripped-down affair, with Vega on acoustic guitar and vocals, Mike Visceglia on bass, and a translator, Valerio Piccolo. It has the earmarks of a small, intimate show. We would have a better sense of that, if we were ever shown the audience outside of some silhouette shots.
Toronto and London-based Lowell has the kind of voice that veers dangerously close to being exploited in an iTunes commercial. Which is why it’s significant that her new EP I Killed Sara V. opens with the blisteringly original “Cloud 69.” That music and those lyrics could never be used to sell hybrid cars. The crush of percussion and synths and the descending “oooooh” in the chorus make the heart pound faster. It’s an extraordinary song and unlike anything else I’ve heard.
Kathleen Hanna was my dream girl growing up. It all started when I went to a record store and found a copy of Reject All American by Bikini Kill. I had no clue what it was but the cover intrigued me. I gave it a shot because it only had a 99-cent price tag.
I left the store with a few CDs that day (mostly punk) and listened to them throughout the rest of the week, but that night I popped that one in and it did a number on me. First, it sounded completely badass. It was raw and ferocious. The lyrics were well thought out and this girl singer was not fucking around. Between “Rebel Girl” and “Statement of Vindication,” this was the best album that I’d heard in years. I immediately found out who Kathleen Hanna was and tracked down everything she put her hands into.
Suzanne Vega is one of the few survivors of the Great Folk Uprising of the Eighties. Her career hit its heights with her single, “Luka,” which was later covered by The Lemonheads. The British producing team, BNA, turned her a capella tune, “Tom’s Diner,” into an international dance hit. You know. “Doo do doo DO doo do-doo DO.” That one.
As it happens with some artists, as Vega matured as a performer and songwriter, her presence on the music charts decreased. Some of her best works went practically unnoticed (why people never caught onto her album Songs in Red and Gray is one of the great mysteries of our time).
After a seven-year break, Vega is back with Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles, a fascinating mix of bitterness and release, spirituality and despair.
There’s a delightful ramshackle quality to the newest album by Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs. All Her Fault has a spontaneous, lively sound, and wickedly witty lyrics. It’s the kind of album that is not only instantly engaging, but also gets better with each listen.