Monthly Archives: March 2017

Jay Z Applauds New York Mayor's Promise to Close Rikers Island

Jay Z applauded New York mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement Friday that the city plans on shuttering its Rikers Island prison facility.

The rapper’s recent six-part documentary Time: The Kalief Browder Story focused on a 16-year-old Bronx kid who spent over 1,000 days in Rikers – many of them in solitary confinement – while awaiting trial for allegedly stealing a backpack. 

Although the case was eventually dismissed, Browder committed suicide at the age of 22, with the severe PTSD he suffered while imprisoned at Rikers cited as the reason he took his own life. Browder’s story led to an upheaval of the criminal justice system and served as a catalyst for de Blasio’s announcement Friday.

“Kalief is a prophet. His story will save lives,” Jay Z tweeted Friday alongside a Barack Obama quote. “You guys watching and your compassion made this happen. Thank you.”

At a March panel prior to the broadcast premiere of Time: The Kalief Browder Story, the rapper was optimistic that the documentary would instill some major changes.

“We put people in office; we make the laws,” Jay Z said. “These government officials? They work for us. They speak to us like we work for them, but we are the power. Three million people watched this the first week; we need it to be 20. We need everyone to be talking about this. That’s how this stops.”

When the documentary debuted at Sundance, Jay Z promised that Time “will save a lot of lives.”

On Friday, de Blasio said in a statement, “New York City will close the Rikers Island jail facility. It will take many years. It will take many tough decisions. But it will happen. The goal is to get our overall jail population down to 5,000 people. We believe that can be achieved in the next 10 years. The mass incarceration era did not begin in New York City but it’s going to end here.”

The mayor had previously been critical of the facility and its treatment of Browder, admitting in 2014, “Browder’s tragic story put a human face on Rikers Island’s culture of delay.”

John Legend, who has actively lobbied for prison sentence reform for non-violent drug offenders, also commented on Rikers’ impending closure. “In closing Rikers, New York City takes a crucial step towards ending #massincarceration. Now the hard work begins,” Legend tweeted (via Billboard).

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Tracing the History of the Triple Album, One of Rock's Most Elusive Formats

Triplicate, Bob Dylan’s latest ramble into the wilds of American popular song, continues in the stylistic vein of its predecessors, Shadows in the Night and Fallen Angels. But in the literal sense, it also extends an even weightier tradition.

Comprised of three CDs, Triplicate is that rarity in pop, the triple-record set. Once dismissed as one of rock’s most bloated, needlessly over-the-top formats, Triplicate is the latest example of the way in which the three-disc package simply refuses to die. Despite all attempts to snuff it out, it’s become a perversely durable format, taking on a new context every time it’s revived.

Seemingly, the first three-LP sets plopped onto the scene in 1970 with the release of the first Woodstock soundtrack and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. Both were period-piece gems, and both were only extended to that length thanks to a surplus of material. The Woodstock set had to condense three days of music into one package, and Harrison has been stashing away so many songs during the waning days of the Beatles that he probably had no choice. (He and producer Phil Spector were also smart enough to tack jam sessions onto that third LP, thereby not damaging the cohesiveness of the first two LPs of proper songs.)

Fairly soon after, the triple LP came to symbolize the way rock was expanding – or reeling out of control – in the Seventies. The Grateful Dead’s Europe ’72, Yes’ Yessongs, Leon Russell’s Leon Live, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s perfectly titled Welcome Back, My Friends, to the Show That Never Ends – Ladies & Gentlemen … proudly let their triple-freak-flags fly. Each needed those extra LPs to make room for overlong jams, and guitar, synth and drum solos. Yessongs, for instance, averages two songs a side.

In the Dead’s case, the bulky set also helped pay the bills for that overseas tour. The song-oriented exception to the rule at the time was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken, the group’s mammoth and educational tribute to the roots of country. (Let’s omit compilations like Neil Young’s Decade and the classic series of three-LP artist collections released by Motown during that time.)

Given its association with prog, jam bands and the Seventies, it was only natural that the triple LP would peter out along with flared jeans and Jimmy Carter campaign buttons. But just when the format seemed irrelevant and laughably out of style, punk, of all formats, revived it. At the very end of 1979, Public Image Ltd.’s Metal Box – three 12-inch records crammed into a round tin – put a perverse spin on the format, as did the Clash’s 1981 Sandinista! Since punk was intended to kill off things like, say, prog and triple LPs, those bands’ revivals of the format felt cheeky – the first postmodern take on record packaging.

For a good decade and a half, the three-disc set went into hibernation. The occasional release, like Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995), contained about the same amount of music as three LPs would have, but hid their triple-LP aspirations on two discs. Freed from his Warner Brothers contract and able to release anything he wanted from his studio and vault, Prince unleashed two three-disc sets in the late Nineties, Emancipation and Crystal Ball, but they only served as reminders that even the strongest such releases were sorely in need of pruning. (Same, alas, with his later triple set, Lotusflow3r.)

But starting during that same period, indie rock took up the triple revival with sharper results. The Magnetic Fields’ 1999 opus, 69 Love Songs, freshened up the format by way of Stephin Merritt’s wonderfully droll and touching songs, one after another. Roughly a decade later, Joanna Newsom’s sonically dreamy, harp-driven Have One on Me felt like the best continuation of the original Seventies concept of the triple record, down to its three-LP format. Five years ago, Green Day somewhat took the plunge, releasing ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! as separate releases one month apart. Alas, their punk-cred inclination apparently nixed the idea of packaging all three together for the full trio package.

With each of its three discs only a half hour long each, Triplicate, Dylan’s first venture into the land of the non-compilation three-disc set, could have easily been packaged as two discs. For thematic reasons, he went the separate-disc route. But in keeping with the pre-rock song choices, wouldn’t it be nice to think Dylan also chose to pay homage to another vanishing aspect of the culture? 

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Chance the Rapper Launches New Chance Arts and Literature Fund

After a disappointing meeting with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner earlier this month, Chance the Rapper promised he would come back with a plan on how to better support Chicago’s public school system. Today, he announced the New Chance Arts and Literature Fund.

This afternoon, the Grammy Award winner held a press conference at Robeson High School that was streamed across social media platforms. “We all know the Illinois education system is one of the most underfunded in the nation,” he said before noting the importance of the arts to young students. “I’m excited to announce the creation, in collaboration with the Children’s First Fund, of the New Chance Arts & Literature Fund.”

Working with the Ingenuity fund, Chance’s non-profit Social Works will work to identify CPS schools in most dire need of a better arts program. “We are committed to giving the kids as much as we can,” he said while also noting that the Chicago Bulls have since donated $1 million to the CPS foundation.

Recently, Chance announced his own plans to donate $1 million to CPS, an amount made possible through ticket sales for his spring tour and partnerships with Live Nation, AEG and Ticketmaster. Additionally, Social Works will match every $100,000 raised for the CPS with an additional $10,000 to be allocated to specific Chicago public schools.

Chance and Governor Rauner had a private meeting in early March to discuss funding for Chicago Public Schools, and Chance left notably flustered after the 30-minute discussion ended. “I felt it went a little bit different than it should have,” he told the press. “I’m here because I just want people to do their jobs.”

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Bankruptcy of The Sam Bass Collection to be offered at Public Auction

ROCKINGHAM, N.C., March 31, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — It was announced today that The Sam Bass Collection will be offered at Public Auction on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Mr. Sam Bass is the first Officially Licensed artist of NASCAR and has amassed a huge collection of Original Sam Bass Artwork,…

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Inside Disney's Attempt to Go Metal on New Covers Compilation

The phrase “Disney music” often conjures up images of doe-eyed princesses belting out Broadway ballads. But a new album comprised of classic tracks from the House of Mouse re-imagined with power metal vocals, crushing guitars and breakneck drumming is looking to upend that stereotype.

Metal Disney was released in Japan last year and became a hit, climbing to number three in the Amazon rock/metal charts and number two on the Kids charts. Disney has released the album stateside today, March 31st.

The well-respected heavy metal musicians that comprise the “D-Metal Stars” include Obsession vocalist Mike Vescera, who’s previously worked with Yngwie Malmsteen, and former Ozzy Osbourne bassist Rudy Sarzo. The band is rounded out by fellow Obsession guitarist John Bruno and drummer BJ Zampa, who’s played with Dokken, among others.

The album consists of faithful metal covers of beloved Disney tracks such as The Little Mermaid‘s “Under the Sea” and “It’s a Small World” from the Disneyland theme park ride, all performed with the energy and precision you’d expect of a Metallica record. Vescera sings Winnie the Pooh – sample lyric: “Tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff” – with as much conviction and intensity as classic metal vocalists. 

For Vescera, the combination of heavy metal and Disney makes perfect sense – “It’s all the stuff that I grew up on,” he tells Rolling Stone – with the rest of the band immediately onboard with the idea. “You would think the opposite, being hard rock guys or in that kind of field of music,” he laughs. “But everybody loves it. It’s crazy.” 

The process of turning tracks such as “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” into something that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Iron Maiden album was, Vescera says, “trial and error.” “I basically sat in the studio and tried a million different options,” he explains, drawing on his love of bands such as Kansas and Queen to re-interpret the songs. He was surprised, however, at the complexity of some of the compositions. “You think, ‘Aw, it’s a kid’s song,'” he says. “But when you get into how they wrote these things, they’re quite incredible and really well written and so it’s just figuring out what exactly is going on and then taking it piece by piece.”

Although Metal Disney was recorded between Nashville, Los Angeles and Connecticut, Disney initially balked at releasing it domestically, distributing it through the company’s Japanese arm last fall. Archie Meguro, executive director of Disney Music Group Japan and an executive producer on the album, tells Rolling Stone that Japan was an ideal place to debut the record. The company already has an established history there of re-releasing classic Disney tracks in a variety of genres, from jazz to French pop, with metal being extremely popular in Japan. “Old-school metal has always been very prevalent in our marketplace and so I thought just kind of a mixing of the cultures, of taking Disney and making it into metal versions, seemed like a cool idea,” he explains.

“Japan is just so much more open to everything,” says Vescera, who first worked with Meguro on a similar project called Animetal USA that involved English-language heavy metal covers of theme tunes from anime shows such as Dragon Ball and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Even in Japan, however, where there is an acceptance that Disney is as much for adults as for kids – the world’s first adult fashion Disney Store opened in Tokyo in 2012 – there was still concern that a heavy metal Disney album would be misconstrued given the brand’s family-oriented image. But, Meguro explains, “We kind of said, ‘Don’t say no before you hear it.’ And once everybody heard it, it was fine.”

Although the concept of Disney crossing over with alternative culture may seem anathema, it’s not the first time the House of Mouse has gone over to the dark side. In 2008, Walt Disney Records worked with acts including Marilyn Manson and Korn on a Nightmare Before Christmas cover album called Nightmare Revisited to celebrate the film’s 15th anniversary. Meanwhile, in California, there’s even an annual (albeit unofficial) goth gathering at Disneyland called Bats Day, which sees around 7,000 black-clad Mickey Mouse fans descend on the park, plenty of whom are sporting metal band shirts. 

For Bats Day founder Noah Korda, there’s plenty to sink his teeth into when it comes to Disney’s back catalogue. “There’s a lot of imagery synonymous with Disney that’s very dark and foreboding,” he tells Rolling Stone, such as the Evil Queen in Snow White and demon king Chernabog in Fantasia.

Oscar-winning lyricist Sir Tim Rice, who has written songs for Disney including Aladdin‘s “A Whole New World” and The Lion King‘s “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” (both of which are featured on Metal Disney) admits he could never had envisaged his work ending up on a heavy metal album but, he says, “I think a good song, especially one with a decent tune, can always be done in almost any way.”

“For most people, Disney was part of their childhood and however you wind up you usually tend to have good memories of your childhood musical loves,” adds Rice. “You tend to stick with it to a certain extent so even if you become a spaced-out [member of] Mötley Crüe, you probably still love Nellie the Elephant – even if you can’t admit it.”

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Bollywood Dance Party 2017 at MA Center LA in Redondo Beach on April 8, 2017

MA Center LA, Redondo Beach, CaliforniaREDONDO BEACH, Calif., March 31, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — MA Center LA is holding its second Bollywood Dance Party fundraiser on Saturday, April 8, 2017, from 7 pm until midnight, at its facility located at 128 S. Catalina Avenue in Redondo Beach, California. Proceeds from the event will…

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Bob Dylan, Mastodon, Wire and 17 More New Albums to Hear Right Now

Rolling Stone Recommends

Bob Dylan, Triplicate
Bob Dylan’s third foray into songs previously recorded by Frank Sinatra isn’t only the largest set of new recordings he’s ever released (three CDs, 30 songs), it’s also majestic in its own right. Dylan moves through this area – the region of Sinatra, and also of standards songwriters like Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Hoagy Carmichael, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein – as if it’s territory for him to chart and command.
Read Our Review: Bob Dylan’s ‘Triplicate’ Exudes, Celebrates a Majestic Darkness
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Mastodon, Emperor of Sand
Perma-frowned doomsayers Mastodon are back with yet another friendly reminder that someday everyone will die. This time, it comes in the guise of seventh album Emperor of Sand, a lofty concept piece about a man wandering a desert with a curse over his head set to swirling, frenetic guitars and gut-rumbling drums.
Read Our Review: Mastodon’s ‘Emperor of Sand’ Is Their Most Ambitious in Years
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The Doors, The Doors (Deluxe Edition)
The expanded edition of the L.A. band’s debut features remastered versions of both the album’s stereo and mono mixes. A third disc is an eight-song live set of the pre-fame band performing in San Francisco in March of 1967.
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Nelly Furtado, The Ride
Taking cues from recent collaborator Dev Hynes, an artist who makes emotional synth-pop, Furtado’s first album on her own label finds a home in crunchy indie-centric melodies that perfectly fit her imaginative lyrics. Opening track “Cold Hard Truth” is one of her finest in years, a catchy single with one of the album’s heaviest beats. The alluring “Paris” carries a menacingly sexy synth reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” but with a softer touch.
Read Our Review: Review: Nelly Furtado Goes Indie Label, Indie-Pop on ‘The Ride’
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Pharmakon, Contact
For her third, and best, album, New York noise artist Pharmakon creates a more dynamic battle between her critically acclaimed combination of screams, buzzes and scrapes. A grasp of drama and dynamics, songs begin to emerge from her muck: “Somatic” is three-note feedback dirge and “No Natural Order” is basically a Pissed Jeans song without the guitars or drums. Christopher R. Weingarten
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Aimee Mann, Mental Illness
After a side project with activist-punk auteur Ted Leo that recalled her days as a bass-playing rock & roll bard with ‘Til Tuesday, Mann returns to one-woman singer-songcrafting in an unusually hushed mode. But while the arrangements, most for acoustic guitar and strings, favor the genteel, her poesy is brutal as ever, an exquisitely harmonized catalogue of human failings whose melodic sweetness here only magnifies the pathos. This LP doesn’t include her memorable 2016 song about Donald Trump’s mental illness. But that’s probably for the best; these characters, for all their shortcomings, are actually sympathetic, and the songs as timeless as any she’s written. Will Hermes
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Wire, Silver/Lead
Their 16th studio album, Silver/Lead finds the group exploring fuzzy, atmospheric synths and more traditional song structures. Wire’s members have always fancied themselves to be Dadaists, thumbing their noses at tradition, but here they’ve created a work of anti-Dada – a stark inverse of Pink Flag, full of regular-length songs with bells and whistles and the heavy influence of Berlin-era Bowie. And yet, Silver/Lead songs like the urgent “Sonic Lens” and throbbing “Playing Harp for the Fishes” vibrate with inexplicable anxiety, Wire’s signature since the beginning. It’s a testament to the band’s insistence on seeing through their vision from all possible angles.
Read Our Feature: Wire Reflect on 40 Years as Punk’s Ultimate Cult Band
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Orchestra Baobab, Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng
After 47 years as one of Africa’s most sublime dance bands, Senegal’s Orchestra Baobab return for one more victory lap, looking backwards and forwards. Dieng, one of their multiple singers, died last year; compensating are guest turns by Thione Seck, an early member turned solo star, and countryman Cheikh Lô. The absence of guitar wizard Barthelemy Attisso, retired to his law practice, is more pronounced (see the delicious, career-defining Pirate’s Choice). But the addition of Abdoulaye Cissoko’s kora makes the music feel both more ancient and, in a cultural-fusion sense, more modern. Plus their magical way with Afro-Cuban grooves is still like no one else’s. Will Hermes
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Fleetwood Mac, Tango In The Night (Expanded)
The final album from Fleetwood Mac’s classic lineup is a mix of monster hits (“Little Lies,” “Big Love,” “Everywhere”) and truly inspired, synthtastic circa-1987 overproduction (partially courtesy of Lindsey Buckingham). On the expanded editions, some demos provide a look into more stripped down versions; and dub versions of multiple songs showcase these soft-rock classics transforming into something truly strange and beatwise.
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Various Artists, The Brain Box – Cerebral Sounds of Brain Records
Underground music fans are already familiar with the most famous exports of German label Brain Records: the cosmic swirl of Tangerine Dream, the motorik bliss of Neu! and Harmonia, the deep drones of Cluster and the funky absurdist prog of Guru Guru. But this massive 8-disc summary, spanning 1972 to 1979, shows the entire scope of a label remarkably ahead of its time, a place where hippie-folk, prog chops, extended jams, flutes, washes of feedback, noise, jazz, Floyd-isms, Zappa-isms and early electronic music joined in an unique amalgam that a befuddled press could only dub “krautrock.” The sheer size of this collection means unearthing wild tunes from lesser-knowns, often from records collectors salivate over. Get familiar with the fuzz-punk of Lava, the Santana-Beefheart flute funk of Os Mundi, the flanged bad trip of Gash, the synth drone of Eroc and the garble-glam of Curly Curve. Bonus: It all starts with a song from the debut LP from the Scorpions – yes, of “Rock You Like a Hurricane” fame – back when they were a dreamy psych-rock band in ’72. Christopher R. Weingarten
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Residente, Residente
No longer the bad boy at the helm of Puerto Rican hip-hop group Calle 13, Residente goes it alone in his self-titled debut. The album was conceived after the rapper took a DNA test, revealing a genetic makeup that spanned 10 different countries. Artists from each of the 10 countries contribute to his vision of a borderless, global society – resulting in one eccentric sonic palette, featuring the talents of French alt-pop darling SoKo, Tuareg guitarist Bombino, Hamilton playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda and many others. Suzy Exposito
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Also of Note

Goldfrapp, Silver Eye
On this expansive, often gorgeous LP, themes of ritual and transformation clash with steely electronics and thumping beats. Silver Eye represents a few new directions for the long-running duo. Not only did Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory work intensely with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, John Grant) on the album as a whole; collaborators like composer-producer Bobby Krlic of the Haxan Cloak and guitarist Leo Abrahams also added their input on individual tracks, while Alison helmed the striking visuals for the album, including the video for lead single “Anymore.”
Read Our Q&A: Goldfrapp on How Instagram, Nature’s Mysteries Played Into ‘Tougher’ New LP
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Rodney Crowell, Close Ties
Crowell sings of Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle, of Mickey Newbury and Tom T. Hall, and he riffles through classic song forms – shuffling blues, light honky-tonk and string-heavy ballads. “I’ve lived long enough now that some of my contemporaries are starting to pass from the earth, so those relationships started coming to the fore as I was writing songs,” Crowell explains. “Relationships that were so personal and so evocative in my life had passed away, but here I am, still tickin’, still slippin’ along. More than once I asked myself, ‘Who am I now?'”
Read our Feature: Rodney Crowell on ‘Sh-tty’ Songs, Growing Old and New Album ‘Close Ties’
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Dave Davies & Russ Davies, Open Road
The Kinks guitarist teams with his electronic producer son.
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G-Eazy & Carnage, Step Brothers EP
The Bay Area rap sensation G-Eazy has a brief bust of pop success with his hit “Me, Myself and I” and his collabo with Britney Spears. On this four-song EP, he gets into grimier territory with trap producer Carnage.
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Body Count, Bloodlust
Three decades ago, Ice-T announced himself in his song “Rhyme Pays” as “the vocal projector” over Tony Iommi’s crushing “War Pigs” riff. On his metal band Body Count’s latest he proves he’s still the loudest and most vital O.G. to bridge metal and hip-hop. He doesn’t take that title lightly here either, singing about the same topics he would if it were rap: The chorus to “No Lives Matter” goes “When it comes to the poor, no lives matter,” “Black Hoodie” pays tribute to Trayvon Martin and victims of police brutality and “This Is Why We Ride” tips his hat to his friends who didn’t “make it out the hood.” He’s even got a killer list of featured artists – members of Megadeth, Lamb of God and Soulfly – and a cover of Slayer’s “Raining Blood” to make Bloodlust one of his most over-the-top metal excursions to date. Kory Grow
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Mavericks, Brand New Day
On Brand New Day, the Mavericks’ first studio LP released on their own Mono Mundo Recordings label, the band beckons listeners onto a dance floor where are all genres are allowed. Album opener “Rolling Along” is a stoner’s polka that nods to Willie Nelson in the lyrics and boasts the first banjo ever used in a Mavericks song. “Easy as It Seems” is a blast of Sixties pop straight out of Austin Powers. The single “Damned (If You Do)” grinds along with come-hither sex appeal. And the title track recalls the majesty of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound.
Read our Feature: The Mavericks’ Raul Malo on New Album: ‘You Can Shake Your Ass to It’
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Hauschka, What If
Aphex Twin’s recent Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments get a chiller analog cousin. On his eighth album as Hauschka, German pianist Volker Bertelmann continues down the same jaunty, plucky, hypnotic, playful prepared piano minimalism he’s been working with for more than a decade. But swirls of synth and some plunking player pianos help create a complex sound world. Christopher R. Weingarten
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Pile, A Hairshirt of Purpose
The fifth album from the Boston indie rockers.
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Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Ruler Rebel
At just 33, Scott can be considered something of a forebear to jazz’s current pop moment, when charismatic, socially conscious players like Kamasi Washington perform at packed rock clubs. His new effort, Ruler Rebel, kicks off his Centennial Trilogy, a series of releases that observe the anniversary of the first jazz recordings while tackling themes of social and political peril. Ruler Rebel is striking in its blend of the organic and the electronic, the edgy and the ageless, with Scott’s broad, brooding lines spread across the rough-hewn beats of trap music, the dynamic rhythms of 21st-century jazz drumming and the percussive traditions of West Africa. 
Read our Q&A: Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah Talks Jazz as Protest Music, Trap Influence
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Marc Anthony Launches Mobile App via escapex Platform

International music star, actor, producer, and philanthropist Marc Anthony announced today the launch of his first ever mobile app for fans, in partnership with escapex.NEW YORK, March 31, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — International music star, actor, producer, and philanthropist Marc Anthony announced today the launch of his first ever mobile app for fans, in partnership with escapex.
The new app enables Marc Anthony to engage with his millions of fans all…

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Hear Amber Coffman's Breezy New Song 'No Coffee'

Former Dirty Projectors member Amber Coffman has unveiled her new track “No Coffee,” the second single off her upcoming debut solo LP City of No Reply.

The sunny “No Coffee” is bolstered by a breezy AM Gold groove, a funky bass line and Coffman’s in-demand vocal chops; the singer has collaborated with artists ranging from Frank Ocean to Major Lazer. However, despite the bubbly tone of the music, the lyrics hint at an undercurrent of pining.

“Don’t need no coffee/ I’m wide awake/ I’m not much for sleeping when your love is at stake,” Coffman sings. “I go out walking / I don’t know what to do/ ‘Cause I can’t think about anything but you/ Babe I need you, in a serious way/ Can’t give you all this love and you push me away.”

Coffman previously shared City of No Reply‘s first single “All to Myself” back in October. Earlier this week, the singer confirmed that she is no longer a member of the Dirty Projectors following a breakup with that band’s frontman Dave Longstreth.

“I consider it a loss to no longer be involved with Dirty Projectors, but ultimately walking away was the only healthy choice for me,” Coffman said in a statement. “It was never my intention or wish to leave the band or end my friendship with Dave. It was a surprise to me to learn last September about his album plans, the content, timing, use of the band name, etc.”

Longstreth and Coffman’s breakup also informed the Dirty Projectors’ recent self-titled LP. Longstreth also serves as a co-writer and producer on City of No Reply, due out in June.

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Streaming Helps Music Industry Rebound in 2016 After Years of Decline

The outbreak of streaming has officially helped the music industry rebound after nearly a decade of decline, with the Recording Industry Association of America reporting $7.7 billion in revenue in 2016. That’s the music industry’s highest gross since 2009 and, at an 11 percent improvement over 2015, its best gains percentage-wise since 1998.

For the first time, streaming was the biggest revenue generator for the music industry, overtaking digital downloads and physical sales combined. In total, streaming accounted for $3.9 billion – or 51 percent – of the music industry’s $7.7 billion haul, the New York Times reports.

The chief catalyst for the revitalization was the increase in paid music streaming service subscribers: 22.6 million users now subscribe to services like Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal, nearly doubling the number of subscribers in 2015. As a result, the music industry netted $2.3 billion from streaming subscribers, also doubling last year’s total.

In a blog post that accompanied the RIAA’s report, the organization’s CEO and chairman Cary Sherman noted that 2016’s revenues would have likely been better if not for YouTube, who he accused of paying too little in royalties.

“It makes no sense that it takes a thousand on-demand streams of a song for creators to earn $1 on YouTube, while services like Apple and Spotify pay creators $7 or more for those same streams,” Sherman wrote.

“Why does this happen? Because a platform like YouTube wrongly exploits legal loopholes to pay creators at rates well below the true value of music while other digital services — including many new and small innovators — cannot. It may be the same song requested by the user, on the same device, but the payouts differ enormously because of an unfair and out-of-date legal regime.”

While streaming has returned the music industry to somewhat prosperity, it wasn’t all good news: Compact disc sales continue to plummet, with only 99.4 million physical albums purchased in 2016. That total marks the first time since 1986 that less than 100 million CDs were sold in one year.

On the flip side, vinyl sales increased slightly to bring in $430 million, with a quarter of all physical music sales now coming from vinyl, the highest percentage since 1985, Pitchfork reports.

With the surge in streaming, digital downloads also took an expected hit, sliding 22 percent from its 2015 total and netting $1.8 billion for the music industry.

“As excited as we are about our growth in 2016, our recovery is fragile and fraught with risk. The marketplace is still evolving, and we’ve experienced unexpected turns too many times before,” Sherman added.

“Moreover, two of the three pillars of the business  —  CDs and downloads  —  are declining rapidly. It remains to be seen whether growth of the remaining pillar will be sufficient to offset the losses from the other two. Much rides on a streaming market that must fairly recognize the enormous value of music.”

However, even as the music industry climbed to $7.7 billion in revenues, that’s still just half of the nearly $15 billion they raked in at its peak in 1999, a year before Napster forever reshaped music’s digital landscape.

“A year of growth in the U.S. music business is welcome news,” Sherman concluded. “It suggests that years of patiently nurturing a nascent streaming marketplace has begun to pay off. But it does not erase 15 years of declines, or continuing uncertainty about the future.”

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