Tough Love finds the singer who made her name in the world of dubstep stretching further into pop environs, with help from the likes of Dev Hynes (Blood Orange), Miguel and Ed Sheeran. The Kate Bush-inspired title track that opens the album is already brighter and warmer than anything she has done before. The radio-ready but cool throbbing beats of “You and I” successfully split the difference between her “indie Sade” past and the pop horizon she now faces. Still, she’s really in her element amid the chilled out synths and digital handclaps of the sumptuous “Cruel.” Ware’s voice is in top form throughout, working wonders on the soulful “Say You Love Me,” amid gospel touches and a skittering beat. Her biggest issue is still somewhat anonymous lyrics, but the music and her voice always seems to make the most of them, driving home lyrics of heartbreak with a nuanced touch, while the tenuously sexy “Kind Of … Sometimes … Maybe” shows off her personality brilliantly, coming off as an update on Janet Jackson’s coy sensuality, filtered through Ware's old soul. Musically, Ware and her collaborators manage to move all over the map and make it seem like they’re travelling a straight line, keeping things rhythmically intriguing on tracks like the sultry “Sweetest Song” and even making room for a throwback disco track like “Want Your Feeling.” If it’s less cohesive than her debut, Devotion, it’s also a lot more fun, and perhaps more consistently rewarding. Tough Love should find Ware expanding her audience beyond the soul, electronica and indie fans who have already discovered her and into the pop realm without losing a shred of her estimable cool.
Electronic music duo and recent Grammy nominees Disclosure have been quickly becoming dance music's latest craze. The English born musicians are brothers Guy and Howard Lawerence. Despite being born in the mid-'90s when U.K. garage was peaking, Disclosure pulls from the past to create their own brand of 2-step house. Some critics call them revivalist while others praise their elaborate production chops. The dudes are really good.
Disclosure made a lot of noise when they gave Jessie Ware's "Running" a hyper-soul synth pop makeover. The remix resulted in millions of plays on YouTube and Soundcloud. It didn't take long before promoters from London to Ibiza were falling over each other to book the duo.They quickly found fans in some of dance music's tastemakers, including Pete Tong and Annie Mac.
Their debut album, Settle, entered the U.K. charts at #1, followed by a Grammy nod for Best Dance/Electronica Album. The duo will now ring in 2014 with a world tour. Pretty impressive for a couple of kids born in the mid '90s.
Disclosure recently visited Amoeba Hollywood for another awesome episode of What's In My Bag?. These dudes are very much the "producer's producer" as it goes. Big fans of Hip Hop, Guy and Howard pick up J.Dilla's Welcome 2 Detroit, a classic in the underground Hip Hop scene. They also grab Gangstarr's Ownerz and A Tribe Called Quest's Anthology on vinyl. They make sure to dig up some house music and find a copy of Pepe Bradock's Lifting Weights 12". Clearly these guys love all things with big deep bass! These two brothers are super cool, down to earth and insanely talented. Check out the full episode of "What's In My Bag?" below.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito
Deluxe CD $19.98
Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ sultry fourth record starts with a bang, a big soul-rocker complete with gospel choir called “Sacrilige.” From there it’s a smorgasbord as colorful as their mosquito-attacking-a-baby album cover, including moody, atmospheric sound pieces (“Subway”), Banshees-esque post-punk rockers (the title track), dubby soundscapes (“Under the Earth”), “X-Files”-inspired new age ballads (“These Paths”) and rockers (“Area 52”). And that’s all before you get to a dark collaboration with Dr. Octagon and James Murphy (“Buried Alive”), as well as breathtaking new entries into Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ pantheon of after prom-style bittersweet ballads in the form of the picturesque “Always,” the slow-burning, oddly uplifting “Despair” and touching “Wedding Song.” Mosquito is a very different beast from the previous YYY’s albums and takes some getting used to, for sure, but repeat listens offer new rewards (as with every album the band has produced since its debut). Its eeriness and campiness at times call to mind a Cramps record, while its hollowed-out space represents something else entirely, something new and alluring. You might miss some of their previous raucousness (or continuity), but hearing them fling new ideas to the wall to see what sticks is intriguing enough. Yeah Yeah Yeahs are one of the few bands who know how to make its constant tinkering with its sound both interesting and entertaining. Hearing them restlessly forge new ground on Mosquito screws with your head in the best way possible. It inspires you to shake old notions of what stadium-size rock bands can and should do, and that lone is something to celebrate. Pick up "Mosquito" at any Amoeba store 4/16 and get a limited edition autographed lithograph and a special 7” (while supplies last).
Beatles LOVE Lamps and Mugs
Nothing says “love me do” like a Beatles LOVE lamp. Who doesn’t love the Beatles? Weirdos, that’s who. For a V-day gift that won’t break your budget, Beatles LOVE mugs are the ticket, for only $10. I personally like the John & Yoko mugs — if there’s a couple who ever made it through adversity and symbolized love above all else, it’s them. Check out all of our Beatles lamps and all mugs. Or pick up the Beatles catalog, recently reissued on vinyl.
British songstress Jessie Ware emerged dressed down, looking like Stevie Nicks in a black ensemble and hoop earrings, Jan. 22 at Amoeba Hollywood. It’s only worth mentioning as it coincided with the difference between her live show, raw and organic, and her more digital records, on the covers of which she appears glossy and glammed up.
Ware, known as kind of the hipster Sade, began with “Devotion,” the title track to her Mercury Prize-nominated debut album, which will see a physical release in the U.S. later this year. Her voice sounded quiet against her band’s booming basslines, but by the set’s second song, the title track to her EP, “If You’re Never Gonna Move,” everything locked into place as she began loosening up, and tried to loosen up the audience too, who laughed when she called out their serious faces. “Sweet Talk,” which appears on both the album and EP, sounded lush and bassy as her four-piece created an approximation of the recordings, with one guy handling both guitars and keys. Her voice sounded incredible on “Sweet Talk” as well as “What You Won’t Do for Love,” a cover of the Bobby Caldwell quiet storm classic.
Ware’s voice and manner grew more confident over the course of the show, with each subsequent song, like “Wildest Moments,” sounding better than the last. She hurriedly introduced her band and gushed about playing with The Roots on “Jimmy Fallon,” pulling the audience in with endearing gratitude for her success. The show demonstrated how Ware is still developing as a central performer (she rose to prominence guesting on tracks by Joker and SBTRKT) and learning how to work a stage, but her voice was impeccable, reserving her belting for a spine-tingling finish in “Running.”