Now that the year's over, it’s time to look ahead into 2016. There are already several exciting releases announced for the new year, so here’s your preview of what’s coming out in the next couple of months.
David Bowie’s upcoming 25th album will be released on the venerable artist’s 69th birthday. It’s a seven-song release featuring a few extended tracks, like the nearly 10-minute electro-orchestral opus that is the title track, which also is being used as the opening song for the TV series “The Last Panthers.” So far, we’ve also heard “Lazarus” and “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime),” all of which are fueling anticipation for this being one of the best albums of Bowie’s later career.
99¢ is the title, not the price, of the anticipated, long overdue, third studio album by super-talented Philly born singer/rapper/songwriter/producer extraordinaire Santigold. Scheduled for a recently announced January 22nd, 2016 arrival date at Amoeba Music c/o Atlantic Records in bothCD and limited edition clear vinyl formats, the album can now be pre-ordered from Amoeba. The 12 track new album, the mezzo-soprano born Santi White's first since 2012's Master Of My Make- Believe, features the just released lead single "Can't Get Enough Of Myself (feat. BC)" (audio below). Production credits will include such accomplished figures as Zeds Dead, Justin Raisen, Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend) and David Andrew Sitek (TV On The Radio) to name but some of her new album studio collaborators. Meanwhile the cover (above) for 99¢ is some of the best album cover art to come along in a minute. At a glance it aesthetically reminds me of the cover of Malcolm McLaren's 1983 album Duck Rock (left) with its colors and retro design.
On May 26 and 27 (Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend), UCLA hosts the JazzReggae Festival, featuring a diverse array of artists covering the pop, hip-hop, reggae and jazz arenas. Amoeba Music has tickets for sale to the event. Pick them up at the Info Counter before they’re all gone!
Taking place at UCLA’s Intramural Field, JazzReggae Festival is the largest, entirely student-produced-and-run event of its kind on the West Coast. The festival is divided into two days: the Jam Day May 26 and the Reggae Day May 27. Performers on the Jam Day will include indie dancehall-pop star Santigold, rap hero Common, underground hip-hop crew The Grouch & Eligh, R&B singer Jhene Aiko, and G.O.O.D. music affiliate and artist/producer Ryan McDermott. Reggae Day features reggae star Ziggy Marley, reggae and dancehall artists Barrington Levy and Mr. Vegas, and "Queen of Reggae" Marcia Griffiths. In addition, art exhibits and craft projects by local artists and collectives will be featured at the festival.
Lots of great new stuff came out on Tuesday, and I’ll get to that, but I need to talk about Death Grips a bit first. The Money Store is surely one of the best things anyone has recorded yet this year, a discordant fusion of early hip-hop energy and noise-rock chaos. Hella and Marnie Stern’s Zac Hill is on production duty, along with Andy Morin, and Hill brings the same mania to Death Grips as he does obliterating the drum kit. Stefan Burnett’s guttural spit cuts through but get processed and falls into the background when it needs to, pulling you in and pushing you back simultaneously. Study music, this is not. The entire album feels exactly like this moment:
Check out the dubsteppy “Lost Boys” and head-spinning electro-rap of “Get Got” for a taste.
Coming out Tuesday was the first full-length release from darkwave purveyors Light Asylum, who floored us with 2010’s In Tension EP. Light Asylum delivers as frontwoman Shannon Funchess growls over black rainbow of electronic sound — like freestyle dance music put through the industrial meat grinder. Fuchness and collaborator Bruno Coviello are as capable of extreme aggression (the chilling “Pope Will Roll”) as they are of creating pop thrills with real bite (“IPC” and “Heart of Dust”) and genuinely affecting electro-ballads — “Sins of the Flesh” and “Shallow Tears” dig past their electronic veneers given Funchess’ operatic howl, a Grace Jones-meets-Trent Reznor monster of a voice that can break your heart just as it can make you cower. This is the real deal, an enthralling and sometimes harrowing listen, and a must-hear for any fan of bitterly great music.
Saint Etienne has released a video for "Tonight," the first single from their forthcoming album, Words and Music by Saint Etienne - their first album of new material in seven years! "Tonight" was produced by Tim Powell (Kylie Minogue), and member Bob Stanley describes the song as being about "the anticipation of going to see your favourite group...The whole album is about the power of pop, how it affects and shapes your life."
So far no album release date has been set, but they have announced tour dates around the UK in May so perhaps that's a good indication of when to expect the album.
Santigold released a new single this week, "Disparate Youth," from her forthcoming sophomore album, Master of My Make-Believe (out May 1 on Downtown). You can catch her on tour this Spring with the Red Hot Chili Peppers or at Coachella in April. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that she tours solo as well. I had the chance to see her at the House of Blues Anaheim a few years ago when she was supporting her 2008 self-titled debut album (back when she was still Santogold) and I hope to see her perform again. The new Santigold tracks will have to tide me over until then.
Watch an animated clip of "Disparate Youth" and an official video for "Big Mouth," the album's lead single: