PJ Harvey’s ninth album was recorded in sessions that were open to the public at the museum Somerset House in London. Exhibit attendees could see Harvey creating the album with producers Flood and John Parish through a one-way mirror. The results continue in her tradition of excellence, producing songs that sound lush and layered, yet loose and free, with a strong social commentary running through on songs like “The Wheel” (“Now you see them, now you don’t,” she sings of disappeared and killed children around the world). Harvey wrote these 10 songs after she traveled to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C., for inspiration, and the kind of oppression and suffering she witnessed fuels her songwriting, as she sings of “the pain of 50 million years” on “The Orange Monkey” and in “The Community of Hope,” in which her criticism of rebuilt housing projects that displaced residents who could no longer afford it drew the ire of D.C. politicians. Though the composition of Hope Six is certainly interesting and proves Harvey continues to be a firebrand, ultimately the final product is what matters most to fans. Thankfully, the music is as powerful as ever. As can attest the muscular guitars that back songs “The Ministry of Defense,” the wailing sax that tears through “The Ministry of Social Affairs,” the rousing choruses her band delivers throughout the album and Harvey’s soulful vocals that close out the album on “Dollar, Dollar,” The Hope Six Demolition Project more than delivers on its premise.
Not to be confused with other important dates in the hectic week ahead such as Tax Day (Note: 4/18 this year) or 4/16 (Record Store Day) or 4/20 (Dank Day), 4/15 is the newly assigned annual date to celebrate Frisco Day. That's 4/15 as in April 15th symbolizing the numerals of the 4-1-5 area code of San Francisco (aka Frisco). But 4/15 Frisco Day is more than simply being a day for residents to celebrate pride in their City by the Bay. It's more about solidarity among poor blue collar / working class San Franciscans who've been marginalized and endangered by the influx in recent years of high paid tech workers to their city. That's according to veteran San Francisco hip-hop artist and activist Equipto who is one of the organizers of Friday's 4/15 Frisco Day event. This week the Amoeblog caught up with the passionate and always politically outspoken emcee to ask him about 4/15 Frisco Day, and about life in general and hip-hop in particular in San Francisco in these gentrified times.
Amoeblog: So this is the first official 4/15 Frisco Day but it has been around for a minute already, right?
Equipto: Frisco Day, April 15th is a special day for certain Frisco die hards that I know. My friend Barry, who has the clothing company SFOG, has thrown dope intimate shows on 4/15 for some years now with performers like San Quinn, RBL, myself and more. But this year, this Friday 4/15, will be the first official Frisco Day for the public
-- By Brett Stillo
Only Angels Have Wings once again takes to the skies this week in a comprehensive new video restoration-release from the Criterion Collection (available on Blu-ray & DVD). This is a classic Hollywood romantic drama of the 1930's, accented with bold swaths of adventure and humor, orchestrated by one of the true masters of the craft, director Howard Hawks.
Only Angels Have Wings is the robust tale of a band of bush pilots based in the fictional South American town of Barranca, who risk their necks flying treacherous airmail routes through the Andes. The heat in this Tropic Zone is turned up with the arrival of Bonnie Lee, a down-on-her-luck cabaret singer played by quintessential 1930's heroine Jean Arthur. Bonnie soon encounters the tough, no-nonsense leader of pilots, Geoff “Papa” Carter (Cary Grant). The inevitable sparks begin to fly as these two characters from two very different worlds push and pull at each other's emotions.
The 1930s were the glory days of early aviation, and Hawks subtly isolates the mystique of this era with terse, low-key magnificence. Hawks’ pilots are the new cowboys (Geoff and his fellow pilots all wear gun belts though it’s never explained why, other than it just looks cool), laconic daredevils in leather jackets and wide-brimmed hats (stylistic ancestors of Indiana Jones), who walk and talk with the casual aplomb of men who make a living by risking their lives.
Hip hop heads have a few reasons to celebrate on Record Store Day April 16.
First off, a new posthumous release from the late, great artist and producer J Dilla will be released on LP that day. The Diary comes out on CD and cassette the day before, but April 16’s vinyl release will come with a free 7” inside that includes the song “The Ex” (featuring Bilal) plus an R&B version of the song on the B-side. The song is a Pete Rock production.
The story behind the lost album is that J Dilla (real name James Dewitt Yancey) recorded an album’s worth of vocals back in 2002 that were ultimately shelved his parent label. That lead Yancey to break from the major label system and leave Detroit for California, where he produced his classics Ruff Draft, Jaylib's Champion Sound and Donuts.
Now, following Yancey’s death in 2006, his estate has been trying to get the album released for years. Finally, the album is coming out, with production from Madlib, Pete Rock, Hi-Tek, Nottz, House Shoes, Supa Dave West, Bink! and Karriem Riggins, and guest spots from Bilal, Frank N Dank, Boogie and others.
Finally made it to my local post office yesterday to cop a sheet of the lovingly made new Sarah Vaughan (1924 -1990) Commemorative Forever Stamps that are so well put together that they (almost) look like they could be another great Record Store Day release. Unveiled by the USPS a couple of weeks ago (March 29) with a celebratory event at the Sarah Vaughan Concert Hall in the late jazz singer's hometown of Newark NJ, the sheet of sixteen Forever stamps ($7.52) are the latest in the post office's ongoing Music Icon series. Others have included Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, and Jimi Hendrix whose commemorative stamp was the last one in the series, issued back in March 2014. Like these other Music Icon stamps, Sarah Vaughan's stamp sheet is equally pleasing to the eye of any record collector. Designed with great detail, they perfectly resemble a vintage 45, 7" record picture sleeve on both back and front.
On the back (picture right), where the sixteen peel off stamps are centered, it even looks like the tip of a black vinyl seven inch record peeking out on top. Meanwhile below, just like on some records, is a brief artist bio. Flip it over to the front sleeve art (picture above) and to the right of Vaughan's image is a list of twelve "popular" songs by the artist also known as "The Divine One" and "Dreamy." These include the Sarah Vaughan standards "Body and Soul,” “Whatever Lola Wants,” “Misty,” “It’s Magic,” “Thinking of You,” “If You Could See Me Now,” “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” “Autumn in New York,” “Send in the Clowns,” “Key Largo," "Lover Man," and "It Might as Well Be Spring." Look for these songs on such actual releases by Sarah Vaughan as Sarah Vaughan: Great American Songbook and Sarah Vaughan's Finest Hour.