D’Angelo

Over the Weekend (Sept. 21 Edition)

News, new music, videos, and other fun stuff to help you get through the week…

After months of waiting, Run The Jewels finally released their highly-anticipated Meow The Jewels, a joke-remix album for charity that had several producers and musicians recreating the brilliant record Run The Jewels 2 using only cat noises.  If you want to take a listen, a free download is available through the RTJ website, and yes, it is about as ridiculous as you would expect.  As you enjoy such great remixes as “Paw Due Respect”, be sure to read El-P’s interview with Deadspin discussing the project.

Of course, if you want to listen to a more traditional version of Run The Jewels, we highly recommend that you check out their electrifying performance with TV on the Radio for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, if you have not done so already.  Speaking of Mr. Colbert, he had a busy week last week, with the highlight probably being his vocal assistance on Pearl Jam’s cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” to close out one of his shows.

The team-up between Colbert and Pearl Jam was part of a promotion for Saturday’s Global Citizen Festival, with Stephen helping to host and Pearl Jam closing out the festivities.  One of the highlights of Pearl Jam’s set had to have been Eddie Vedder’s performance with the one and only Beyonce of Bob Marley’s classic song “Redemption Song”, though you may have to search for the video yourself as different versions keep getting deleted.

In other news, The Strokes informed announced to the crowd at their recent D.C. show that the band will soon be recording a new album, which we personally hope will be better than Comedown Machine.

Broken Bells premiered a new concert film over the weekend entitled Live at the Orpheum, and the group shared a new track to help promote the movie, an upbeat track with a jittery disco beat called “It’s That Talk Again”.

Don Cheadle has a new film about Miles Davis coming out next month, and Vulture has a brief primer on the legendary musician for those who would appreciate some background before seeing the movie.

And finally, be sure to set your DVRs or plan your schedules accordingly, because Austin City Limits announced that they will be taping shows with Kendrick Lamar as well as D’Angelo and the Vanguard in the next few weeks.  Both of those should be memorable performances.

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Catching Up On The Week (Mar. 27 Edition)

Some #longreads for those still in the throes of March Madness…

After a relative paucity of reading material in recent weeks, this week saw the publication of numerous worthwhile interviews and discussions.  For those who want insight into older music, there’s the Rhino interview with Big Star drummer Jody Stephens and The Guardian behind the scenes look with The Strokes on the making of Is This It.  As for those who are looking ahead, there is Nate Mendel of the Foo Fighters talking with Consequence of Sound about his upcoming solo album as “Lieutenant” and Death Cab For Cutie revealing to Radio.com the background behind the making of their new album.

For those who are looking for more weightier fare, there is a roundtable discussion about the social context of works like the recent albums from D’Angelo and Kendrick Lamar and a Vox op-ed about the prejudicial treatment of rappers and the double standard that is given to rap lyrics by legal authorities, co-authored by Killer Mike.

Finally, GQ has an extended profile of Adam Horovitz, providing a personal in-depth look at the man you probably know as Ad-Rock, as he transitions into his post-Beastie Boys life and looks back on his career.

 

Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone: A Look at “Black Messiah”

The surprise return of D’Angelo was one of the biggest stories in music last year, when after over a decade of silence that allowed wild rumors to flourish, he stunned everyone with the release of Black Messiah.  The album captivated fans and critics alike, with the former finding that the result was worth the wait and the latter frantically trying to rejigger their year-end lists to find a place for its inclusion.  During this time, we did our part in sharing news items about its release, and also highlighting especially worthwhile analysis and explanations for its significance.  However, we never offered our own assessment of the album during this time, and we wanted to provide an explanation why never wrote about this record that we’ve enjoyed.

Our aim here at Rust Is Just Right is to contribute something beyond the usual echo-chamber of ideas that make up most music publications, and contribute genuine insight and any expertise we may have.  To do this, we tend to write about subjects and genres with which we have more history and experience, which explains the focus we give to both rock music and to guitar, bass, and drums.  We realize how boring it can be for readers to read variations of the same stuff over and over again, so we challenge ourselves to explore different genres and expose ourselves to different ideas.  This allows us to avoid ruts both from a writing and musical perspective, and helps contribute to our own musical education, which we then hope to impart on our readers.  It’s a beautiful cycle.

If we were to do a review then of Black Messiah, then we wanted to be able to do so from a position of some authority, with the ability to offer original insights on the record.  However, after multiple listens, it was clear that our lack of familiarity with both D’Angelo (beyond a few cursory listens over the years) and with neo-soul in general would hinder our ability to make truly engaging analysis.  There were few hooks for us to grab hold, and while we felt there were several admirable aspects to the album, it was difficult for us to make any personal connections to it with our initial listens.  That said, it was easy to see how in a live setting D’Angelo could make the songs come alive.

We enjoyed how Black Messiah experimented with various soul and funk elements, like the subtle changes in rhythm in the electric “1000 Deaths”, which inverts and plays with straight and syncopated feels.  This is an album that needs to be cranked up to truly appreciate, with special attention paid to the low end, because the bass playing on Black Messiah is truly a marvel but has the potential to be lost in the mix if no precautions are taken.  Those points represent the extent of our insight, though; the lack of a lyric sheet makes that particular analysis difficult, and it’s clear that there are significant political and social themes that run through Black Messiah that would require more rigorous assessment than what I could periodically catch by ear.

So, consider this a recommendation, but we are unable to show more of the work that led us to that conclusion.  But who knows, maybe after another few months of listening we’ll be able to offer up a more cogent assessment.  At the very least, we’ll at least have a better foundation for discussing the next D’Angelo album–but hopefully we won’t have to wait fourteen years for that.

Over the Weekend (Feb. 2 Edition)

Videos, news, and other fun stuff as you recover from the worst playcall of all-time…

The coffee in Seattle probably tastes extra bitter today after yesterday’s Super Bowl loss, but the weekend wasn’t a total bummer for them since Friday night saw the “reunion” of supergroup Mad Season for a special event.  Blabbermouth has videos of the show which featured original members Mike McCready and Barrett Martin joining the Seattle Symphony to perform a trio of the group’s songs.  The evening also featured guest appearances from other Seattle grunge superstars like Chris Cornell, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Matt Cameron, as well as native Seattleite Duff McKagan.  As an added bonus, the stars also performed a couple of songs from the classic Temple of the Dog tribute album.

Back on the other coast, there was an epic Jack White concert that included a special appearance from Q-Tip, as well as openers Run The Jewels performing with Zach de la Rocha on the fantastic “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)”.  Consequence of Sound has videos of both performances because in all likelihood, you weren’t there.  Elsewhere in the city at a fall smaller venue, Hamilton Leithauser was performing, and with guitarist Paul Maroon debuted a few new songs that may be released in the future.  Considering how much we loved his solo debut, our excitement level is pretty high.

That said, you still had the chance to watch some excellent live performances from your couch this weekend, but if you missed out, we got you covered.  D’Angelo made his Saturday Night Live debut with songs from his new album Black Messiah, and The Black Keys went through a quick set on Austin City Limits featuring mostly recent material.  Stereogum has the links to the appropriate videos.

We also have a couple of new music videos this week.  First, Deerhoof released the video for “Black Pitch” from La Isla Bonita, and it revolves around singer Satomi Matsuzak enjoying the coastal scenery despite the cold temperature outside.

Then we have Run The Jewels’s second appearance in today’s linkfest, since they just put out a video for “Lie, Cheat, Steal”.

If you’re in the mood for lists which prominently feature the Pixies, we have a couple for you.  First, there’s PASTE ranking the 80 Best Albums of the 80’s, and then there’s Consequence of Sound looking at the Top 10 4AD albums for that record label’s thirty-fifth anniversary.

Have some fun thinking about the fact that Rick Rubin is now doing annotations for Genius, and then hurrying over to see what the guru has to say about the great songs that he worked on (and his thoughts on songs he did not).

Finally, spend the day listening to albums from the one holiday-appropriate band that there is for February 2.  We’ll help get you started.

Catching Up On The Week (Jan. 2 Edition)

Some #longreads while you nurse that hangover…

It’s always a treat when we get to hear from Aphex Twin, so you should probably read this interview where the man himself answers questions from several famous DJs and producers in this special from Groove magazine.

The AV Club takes a look at how Pink Floyd ended up with a number one album when they released The Division Bell in 1994, based purely on the power of nostalgia.

A look at the greater context of Black Messiah, with an eye towards how those unfamiliar with the work of D’Angelo should approach it, with help from a fan.

And finally, for the more technologically inclined, here’s a look at how the different ways you physically store your digital music can affect its sound quality.  I haven’t read it yet, but for those readers who have a stronger scientific background, feel free to chime in and respond.

Catching Up On The Week (Dec. 19 Edition)

Some #longreads for your weekend as you mourn the end of the greatest television show of all-time

The music world is still buzzing about the surprise release of D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, with critics greeting it with universal acclaim.  We’re certain that you can find a multitude of thinkpieces on the album from everyone and their cousin on the web, but this analysis from Complex is probably the best you’ll find.

Just how big was that surprise release from D’Angelo?  Big enough that it pushed aside the news that Modest Mouse will finally release a follow-up to We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank as their new album Strangers to Ourselves is set to be released on March 3 of next year.  Meanwhile, keep their new single “Lampshades on Fire” playing on repeat, at least through this weekend.

This article was originally published in January, but we didn’t come across it until this week, so it’s new for us: Buzzfeed explains how the punk band Crass fooled MI6 and other intelligence agencies into thinking there was a Soviet disinformation campaign, all with a crappily-produced prank tape.

It’s the weekend–do you need any other excuse to read an analysis of Billy Joel’s ridiculous hit “We Didn’t Start the Fire”?

And finally, we like millions of others are mourning the end of The Colbert Report, though we’re hopeful that Stephen Colbert will do a terrific job of taking over The Late Show.  Like many, we were impressed by the turnout of former guests that appeared for the final sing-along, but we also were delighted to hear that as the credits rolled for a final time that Colbert had selected our personal pick for greatest song of all-time, Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Holland, 1945”, to be the musical accompaniment.  It turns out that Stephen’s selection of the song was not just a result of his good taste, but the result of a personal connection to the song that is quite touching.  Just don’t ruin the moment by clicking through the links to see what the rest of Slate had to think about music this past year.

Over the Weekend (Dec. 15 Edition)

Some fun links as you laugh at all the Best Of lists that were ruined by a surprise album release last night…

Once again, we’ve got links to a veritable bevy of lists this week for your perusal.  Pitchfork released their 100 Best Tracks list, with several RIJR favorites well-represented throughout the countdown (including multiple slots for Spoon, The War On Drugs, and Run The Jewels).  Then there’s The FADER’s 116 Best Tracks list and CMJ’s 65 Best Songs list for your oddly-numbered reviews, as well as Drowned in Sound’s 50 Favourite Albums of 2014 to help fill out the rest of your day.

As for the surprise album mentioned in the intro, D’Angelo stunned the music world last night when the long-awaited followup to Voodoo was released last night, and the early response has been an endless series of raves for Black Messiah.  It’s available on iTunes and Spotify, and a few hours ago all the tracks were uploaded to YouTube on D’Angelo’s Vevo channel.

There will be a Mad Season reunion of sorts, as Chris Cornell and Duff McKagan fill in for the deceased members of the grunge supergroup for a special performance on January 30th in Seattle.  Mike McCready and Barrett Martin will be reprising their original roles and will have the Seattle Symphony providing support on multiple songs.

And finally, just in time for the 35th anniversary of the Greatest Album of All-Time, Joe Strummer received the rare and prestigious honor of having a new species of snail named after him.  After reading up on the snail, spend some time figuring out what the best five songs on London Calling are.  The fun part is you can make an argument for just about any five tracks on the album!