L.A. sister trio HAIM have seemingly been around so long, it’s hard to believe Days Are Gone is only their debut LP. That’s due to the band trickling out singles throughout the year that that have gotten better and better, all of which are included here. “Falling” moves on an echoing drum pulse and middle sister Danielle Haim’s husky, breathy vocals, falling somewhere between Christine McVie and Fiona Apple, and careful, creeping guitar riffs. “Forever” moves on an ’80s R&B shuffle, while the sisters’ back-and-forth vocal aerobics and harmonies employed Este, Danielle and Alana Haim showcase their greatest strength—the inborn chemistry fostered by playing in a band together since childhood. Their best song yet, “The Wire,” is bold enough to get called a Shania Twain knockoff by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow—they must be doing something right. Its Gary Glitter strut allows Danielle to really vamp and play the relieved ex-lover with glee, while youngest sister Alana steals the show with her swaggery second verse. The rest of Days Are Gone isn’t as strong as that dynamite opening, but even when the songs feel overstuffed, the sisters’ boundless energy makes the entire thing such an entertaining ride that you won’t mind the occasional whiplash. The details really make it worthwhile—the way the guitars pulse like they’re emulating synthesizers on “If I Could Change Your Mind,” the crazy, warped Miami Sound Machine-style vocals on the title track. We haven’t had a pop band like this in years, one with both the smarts and technical capability to call to mind classic pop acts from Fleetwood Mac through Destiny’s Child in one feel swoop. And Days Are Gone will no doubt make young women everywhere ask for guitars and pull their sisters into jam sessions. For that alone, we’re thankful for HAIM.
Out Sept. 10
Canadian indie R&B artist The Weeknd returns with a new album following his three mixtapes and their eventual compilation (Trilogy). Expect Kiss Land to live up to its name, judging by the sexy, Portishead-sampling “Belong to the World” heard below.
Out Sept. 17
The first album in 14 years from Sebadoh, the great indie rock band featuring Lou Barlow (also of Dinosaur Jr.), should be a hoot! Even if you’re new to the band, Barlow’s gritted-teeth delivery and brittle guitarwork are a thing to behold.
In addition to a rundown on free kayaking in New York City (video interview above and text overview down below) this 40th New York State of Mind Amoeblog weekly report from the Big Apple will take a look at some of the many events and concerts happening in New York City this mid July where the weather has been extremely hot and muggy of late. Considering that then a good place to be on these hot New York summer evenings is out in the park down by the river such as the Brooklyn Bridge Park where this week the fun summertime Syfy Movies with a View series, that kicked off last week and runs through late August on each Thursday night, continues tomorrow with a free sreening of the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon. There is also an opening short film, Catnip: Egress to Oblivion by Jason Willis, plus music spun by DJ Hahn Solo earlier in the evening to get the mood going as folks gather before dusk at the Brooklyn Heights district park. No cover. All ages. DJ starts spinning at 6:00pm and the movies begin at sundown. Bring a blanket and a picnic. More info here.
This week the annual Metropolitan Summer Opera Recital Series kicked off last night in Central Park and will continue over the next couple of weeks with a total of six concerts that will take place in each of the five boroughs. The second concert will be on Friday, July 19th at 7pm, in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn where the recital will feature Erin Morley (soprano), Isabel Leonard (mezzo-soprano), Stephen Costello (tenor), and Bradley Moore (pianist). Next week the series will travel up to Crotona Park in the Bronx on Tuesday and over to Clove Lakes Park in Staten Island on Thursday where, on both dates, the performers will be Ying Fang (soprano), Mario Chang (tenor), Brandon Cedel (bass-baritone), and Bradley Moore (pianist). Free. All ages. For full details on these and the other upcoming Met Summer Recital Series visit the Metro Opera website. Also outdoors and free in New York City this week is Arriba! - the series of community dance parties with locally themed Latin music, that begins on Friday July 19th, on the High Line. More info. Large scale rock, rap, and pop concerts in NYC this week include the big Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z concert show at Yankee Stadium on Friday and Saturday (July 19 + 20th). Tickets range in price from $49 up to $279.50. More info here. On Monday and Tuesday (July 22nd and 23rd) friends of Amoeba Tegan and Sara perform at Hudson River Park's Pier 26. Tickets are $42.50.
Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience
The latest in epic pop albums comes from Justin Timberlake, whose first album in seven years is an hour-long tour de force that aims to put Timberlake firmly back on top as one of the top entertainers of his generation. Following grandiose albums from some of his peers — Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE, to name the most noteworthy — Timberlake goes big with The 20/20 Experience. Though nearly each song stretches past six, seven, even eight minutes in an apparent bid for every track to hit like Ocean’s huge “Pyramids,” 20/20 thankfully mostly avoids the excess of, say, Beyonce’s I Am… Sasha Fierce and doesn’t pander to his audience of now-grown-up, former teenyboppers, actual teens and “serious music fans.” Producer Timbaland, with whom Timberlake previously collaborated very successfully, shows up to produce 20/20 with Jerome “J-Roc” Harmon (Jay-Z, Chris Brown). Timberland and Harmon keep things relatively mature and redolent of classic soul and R&B, wisely avoiding the sort of europop faddism that has drowned recent efforts by Madonna and Rihanna. “Pusher Love Girl” is funky and spare, allowing Timberlake to unleash the high-end vocals he first debuted on “Cry Me a River” and showing the strongest bit of the Stevie Wonder influence that crops up all over the album. First single “Suit & Tie” moves from slo-mo, tripped-out hip-hop of the classic Timbaland variety before morphing into a swirling, orchestral soul jam and then back again for an unflashy but welcome spot from Jay-Z. The longer song lengths works for Timberlake when the songs have something to say — despite its confectionary name, “Strawberry Bubblegum” is a glorious pastiche of the sort of psychedelic soul pioneered by Shuggie Otis and ’80s radio R&B, shifting its beat several times and sounding inspired throughout. When they’re less inspired, the songs drag as Timberlake occasionally goes too low-key. But for the majority of 20/20, Timberlake and Timbaland keep things equal parts interesting and entertaining, like on “Let the Groove In,” which can only be described as a futuristic version of Debarge or the Miami Sound Machine. On “Mirrors,” an appealing, sweet radio ballad in the vein of Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” or Rihanna’s “What’s My Name,” Timberlake delivers the goods that have thrilled kids since the late ’90s. It’s hard not to let your inner 12-year-old squeal.