FKA Twigs is the stage name of singer/songwriter Tahliah Barnett, who together with a team of some of the best producers working in pop music (Blood Orange’s Devonte Hynes, Clams Casino and Paul Epworth of Adele/Coldplay fame, among others) come up with one of the most brilliant debut records of 2014. What at first sounds like icy, alien R&B ends up feeling amorous, empathetic and intriguing to no end. Songs like “Lights On” at first sound not so out-of-time, fitting in nicely with the adventurous alt-soul stylings of The Weeknd or current Beyonce, but the songs are continuously chewed up and breathed back out into wondrous concoctions that bear little resemblance to anything else out there. Vocally, Barnett calls to mind someone working to effect change within the mainstream like Aaliyah once did as much as she does weirdos like Yma Sumac and Bjork (especially on the bold “Preface”), her airy voice warping into new dimensions yet latching onto reality on the touching “Two Weeks” and suddenly coming through clear as day as she pleads with sexual abandon through classic soul phrasings for a would-be lover amid analog-sounding robotic textures. As much as FKA Twigs is a product of a time in which introspective artists who allow for empty space to permeate their music are the norm, from The XX to How to Dress Well and James Blake, Barnett’s music feels more fun to listen to and not at all dreary, even if mostly downtempo. “How would you like it if my lips touched yours?” she suddenly entreats in the laser-streaked “Hours” and it’s hard not to think of some fantastical Janet Jackson comeback. “Video Girl” is more direct, asking “is she the girl from the video?” (Barnett has a background as a backup dancer in music videos) as Barnett goes on to prove she’s a lot more than that through stunning lead and layered vocals while the song’s lush, post trip-hop music sways and lurches sensuously. But “Pendulum” will no doubt be her entrÃ©e to most audiences, as the Epworth production literally knocks on your door with its stuttering beat and introduces a girl capable of delivering a Prince-level combination of heartache and confidence while keeping sly pop hooks on the backburner right until they’re ready to sizzle. It makes you happy to be listening to pop music in this day and age when something so exciting as this will bubble to the top.
Portishead will celebreate the 20-year anniversary of their debut record, the trip-hop classic Dummy, by reissuing it on 180 gram heavyweight vinyl. The band should be announcing a release date via their website this week.
The first 1,000 copies of the album will be on blue vinyl, defaulting back to black vinyl after that. It will also come with a download card of the original album. Dummy won’t be seeing a remaster or additional songs added to the original tracklist.
Even more great news in the Portishead world is word that the band is headed back to the studio soon to work on the follow-up to 2008’s Third, band member Adrian Utley told The Quietus in February. Given how amazing Third was, we’re on the edge of our seats in anticipation.
Watch the video for "Glory Box" from 1994's Dummy below:
Moon Block Party is happening at the Fairplex in Pomona on Oct. 18 from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. It’s an all-ages show, and tickets are $45 (you can also buy them at Amoeba Hollywood with only a $2 service charge). Amoeba is proud to be a sponsor of the event—look for our booth!
The great, literary singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen celebrates his 80th birthday next month (on Sept. 21). What better way to do that than with a new album?
Popular Problems will likely be out sometime next month, Rolling Stone reports. Though Cohen’s representative could not confirm the album or a release date, it was hinted at during last week’s Cohen fan convention, Leonard Cohen Event 2014, and the album is listed on Amazon France with a Sept. 22 release date.
Here’s what Jarkko Arjatsalo, a Finnish accountant that runs Cohen’s official website, said about the album in the foreward of the event booklet:
“Leonard has worked hard on his next studio album of entirely new songs. He asked me to let you know that Popular Problems will be out at the end of September, shortly after his 80th birthday.”
No tour plans have yet been announced. Cohen’s last album was 2012’s Old Ideas, for which Cohen recorded songs that didn’t make the cut that could make it onto this album, he told RS in 2012:
“I rehearsed some other songs on the road—new songs that didn't make it onto the record. So I have a new record [after this one], at least two-thirds of it, anyway.”
Old Ideas was pretty great, so we're more than OK with that. Hear that album's opening track, "Going Home," below:
When Smashing Pumpkins released their beloved-in-retrospect fourth album, Adore, back in 1998, frontman Billy Corgan couldn’t resist talking a lot about a great song he left off the album called “Let Me Give the World to You.” Perhaps to preserve the nocturnal feel of the classic 4AD indebted Adore, the song wasn’t included on the album—the title alone promised a bombastic rock single in the vein of songs like “Tonight, Tonight.” But we got another version of the song later, on the digital-only Machina II, albeit in a different version that sounded quickly recorded in the best way, with gauzy, Cocteau Twins-inspired guitars and jangly pop feel.
Now Corgan has released the original recording, produced by none other than hip-hop producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin. So it’s that over-the-top “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” thing, right? The song is closer in feel to “1979,” with muted new-wave guitars and a level of restraint not typically seen with this band, yet its Beatles-inspired arrangement is, of course, heartfelt and grabbing. Though Adore is lovably imperfect as is, I can’t help but feel this recording would’ve slotted in nicely near the end of the album and perhaps provided a crucial breakthrough third single that could’ve changed the troubled history of the band for the better. Sigh.