Daily Archives: October 5, 2017

Lin-Manuel Miranda Talks Puerto Rico Benefit Song 'Almost Like Praying'

It’s been two weeks since Hurricane Maria first raged across the island of Puerto Rico, and the crisis has only grown more complex. What first seemed like a natural disaster has also proven to be a long-standing infrastructural one; most of the island remains without electricity and water, putting its residents at a heightened risk of disease and famine. Yet with Puerto Ricans’ pleas meeting inadequate responses from the White House, Tony-winning Hamilton playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda has taken matters into his own hands – and with the help of many friends. Recorded alongside an all-star cast of Latin artists, including Jennifer Lopez, Gina Rodriguez, Fat Joe, Gloria Esterfan, Camila Cabello and Marc Anthony, Miranda’s new song “Almost Like Praying” is a love song to Puerto Rico as much as it is a fight song. The song’s proceeds will benefit the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS Disaster Relief Fund.

“You know how we always tell artists ‘stay in your lane’ anytime they say something remotely political? I’m trying to use what I do in service of this challenge,” Miranda tells Rolling Stone. “We’re facing a humanitarian crisis right now. And the response from our federal government is not commensurate with the previous two hurricanes, much less up to the unprecedented danger of this disaster itself.”

Miranda began work on the song, an adaptation of “Maria” from 1961 musical West Side Story, two days after the hurricane first made landfall. “I knew the name Maria was forever going to have a destructive connotation to this island,” says Miranda. “It’s also the name of my favorite song from West Side Story. So my brain was already looking for a sample to flip … And that’s what we do in hip-hop, right? We take a sample, we flip it and change the meaning. And so the hook of the song is, ‘Say it soft, and it’s almost like praying.'”

But first, he sought clearance from Stephen Sondheim and the estate of Leonard Bernstein. “They gave their blessing within a day,” says Miranda. “When there’s a crisis, you call in all the favors – call the gods of musical theater! I have the great fortune to count Sondheim as a mentor and a friend. I worked with him and Bernstein on the 2009 revival of West Side Story and its Spanish translations. Sondheim wrote back immediately and said ‘Yes – and what else can I do?'”

Miranda infused the number with a warm blend of dancehall, reggaeton and steel drum sounds; the result is an incendiary and highly danceable clarion call. (“If you’re gonna write a song for Puerto Rico and you can’t dance to it,” says Miranda, “you fucked up.”) Most moving is how many of Miranda’s childhood heroes, including original West Side Story cast member Rita Moreno, take turns shouting out each of the island’s 78 towns – a move Miranda says was inspired by Puerto Ricans’ heartbreaking calls across social media to find their relatives in the wake of the storm.

“There was a terrible silence,” says Miranda. “For some people days, for some people weeks. My Twitter and my Facebook were filled with friends and family listing the names of their towns. ‘My grandmother is in Vega Alta, my father lives in San Juan, has anyone heard from Isabela?’ I began thinking about the towns as lyrics. What unites us in this tiny island that is 100 miles across and 35 miles north to south … Is that we’re from these towns. We ask, ‘Where are you from?’ It is our link to our roots and our families.”

While enlisting collaborators for the track, Miranda says he made new friends in the process. “I broke my Rolodex and called every Latino artist I know,” he says. “And when I didn’t know them, I got on Twitter. I caused a minor uproar with Camila Cabello’s fans when I tweeted her, ‘Hey I have an idea!’ I also sent a private message to Luis Fonsi, who I never met before. I cold-called and every single person said yes, without even hearing the song.”

Within a dizzying 72 hours, Miranda flew from New York to Miami and Los Angeles to be present while the artists recorded their respective verses. Yet some were still recovering in the Caribbean, where resources were scarce and internet access was spotty. “The rapper PJ Sin Suela recorded at home,” says Miranda. “But he didn’t have the bandwidth to email his verse. So he gave a memory stick to Estefan, who was there on a relief mission – she then flew it back to us. When I say ‘all hands on deck,’ I’m really not fucking around!”

Riggs Morales, the executive producer behind the Hamilton Mixtape, mixed and mastered the song in the days that followed. Meanwhile, Miranda harvested stories of Puerto Rico from his collaborators, evoking tears and laughter inside the studios. This behind-the-scenes footage will air as part of a televised benefit, airing commercial-free on Telemundo Saturday, October 7th.

“I asked everyone, ‘What are your favorite memories from Puerto Rico?'” says Miranda. “I will never forget seeing Rubén Blades breaking down about meeting Hector LaVoe for the first time. I’ll never forget Marc Anthony talking about wearing suits before getting on a plane [to the United States] so they’d look white when they landed … And Gilberto Santa Rosa, who sang at my wedding. He was a salsero, but grew up in the same part of town as Daddy Yankee. They could not make two more different genres, but music saved their lives.

“The way music comes out of every frog, every tree, every molecule of the place,” reflects Miranda, “That’s something we share.”

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Contemporary Services Corporation (CSC) Statement on Route 91 Harvest Festival Tragedy

Contemporary Services Corporation. (PRNewsFoto/Contemporary Services Corporation)NORTHRIDGE, Calif., Oct. 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — It is with a heavy heart that we address the tragedy that took place during the Route 91 Harvest Festival. This senseless act of violence which affected our team, family and many others only bolsters our commitment to protecting and serving…


Watch Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris Lead All-Star Tom Petty Tribute

Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and Patty Griffin teamed for powerful cover of Tom Petty‘s “Refugee” during a benefit show in Seattle, Relix notes. Petty died Monday at the age of 66 after going into cardiac arrest.

Griffin took on the song with an understated touch, while Earle followed with his thick drawl and Harris delivered the lyrics with verve. All four singers came together for impromptu harmonies, while Matthews sang the chorus with his unmistakable wail.

Matthews, Harris, Earle and Griffin were performing in Seattle as part of the opening night of the Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees tour. The eight-city trek raises funds and awareness to support education for displaced people via the Jesuit Refugee Service’s Global Education Initiative. Other performers include Joan Baez, Brandi Carlile and Lucinda Williams. The tour wraps October 15th in Dallas.

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Review: Torres Sings Unsparing Meditations on Desire on Latest LP

Singer-guitarist Torres’ 2015 breakout, Sprinter, wasa stirring study in spiritual reckoning. Her latest is even more raw, offeringconflicted images of emotional and physical release over bracingindustrial-rock textures co-produced by Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey). The harsh,predatory “Skim” spools through questions like “Did he hold yourhips with authority?” as if weaponizing betrayal, and on “ThreeFutures,” she seems to give breaking up an almost religious significanceover a spare melody that flickers like a dying prayer candle.    

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Review: Synth Experimentalist Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith Gorgeously Maps the Life Cycle

Pastoral synthesizer landscapist Kaitlyn Aurelia Smithbroke out last year with Ears, an acclaimed set of Terry Riley-esquegurgles and flutters, using noise to evoke nature. On her sixth LP, TheKid, a concept album about the human life cycle, she paints an evenlusher world using cosmic swoops, squelches and lots of her highly processedvocals. Sounds don’t align with the rhythms, and Smith’s voice is awash inalien echoes. But as challenging as this avant-garde music is, it’s also warm,absorbing and gorgeous.    

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15 Seconds of Fame Partners with Austin City Limits Music Festival to Deliver Attendees Their Personal Videoboard Moments

15 Seconds of Fame Logo (PRNewsfoto/15 Seconds of Fame)NEW YORK, Oct. 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — 15 Seconds of Fame (15SOF), the breakthrough social media app that delivers personal video content to fans at live events, is partnering with the Austin City Limits Music Festival for this year’s lineup of performances over back-to-back weekends…


Hear Kelela's Seductive New Song 'Blue Light'

Kelela unveiled an enticing new song, “Blue Light,” from her upcoming album, Take Me Apart, out October 6th via Warp.

The song opens with Kelela’s vocals drifting over a steamy mix of backing vocals, atmospheric synths and drums that echo across a dense soundscape. But “Blue Light” sharpens with urgency when it reaches the chorus. As a gooey synth line expands and contracts, Kelela croons, “Oh I’m on my way right now/ Promise I won’t be long/ Baby keep the blue light on.”

Along with “Blue Light,” Kelela has shared Take Me Apart tracks “LMK” and “Frontline.” Take Me Apart follows Kelela’s 2013 debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me, and her 2015 breakout EP, Hallucinogen. The singer has spent much of 2017 on the road with the xx and Gorillaz, and is in the middle of her own headlining North American tour, which wraps November 21st in Houston.

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Maroon 5 Detail New Album, 'Red Pill Blues'

Maroon 5 will release their sixth studio album, Red Pill Blues, November 3rd via 222 and Interscope records. The LP follows the band’s 2014 LP, V.

The band will release a 10-track standard edition of the album, as well as a deluxe edition with five extra songs. J. Kash executive produced Red Pill Blues, with Kash and Levine producing the album. The LP will feature the band’s recent single, “What Lovers Do,” featuring SZA, as well as collaborations with A$AP Rocky, Julia Michaels and LunchMoney Lewis. The deluxe edition will boast previously released tracks “Don’t Wanna Know” with Kendrick Lamar and “Cold,” featuring Future.

Maroon 5 revealed the Red Pill Blues album art on Snapchat and have launched a contest that lets fans put their own photo on the record’s cover. Fans who share their images on social media will have a chance to win tickets to a Maroon 5 concert and signed merchandise.

While Maroon 5 have yet to announce a tour in support of Red Pill Blues, the band is set to play two nights, December 30th and December 31st, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. 

Red Pill Blues Track List

1. “Best 4 U”
2. “What Lovers Do” (ft. SZA)
3. “Wait”
4. “Lips On You”
5. “Bet My Heart”
6. “Help Me Out” (with Julia Michaels)
7. “Who I Am” (ft. LunchMoney Lewis)
8. “Whiskey” (ft. A$AP Rocky)
9. “Girls Like You”
10. “Closure”

Deluxe Edition

11. “Denim Jacket”
12. “Visions”
13. “Plastic Rose”
14. “Don’t Wanna Know” (ft. Kendrick Lamar)
15. “Cold” (ft. Future)

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Hear the Smiths' Previously Unreleased 'I Know It's Over' Demo

The Smiths unearthed a previously unreleased demo for “I Know It’s Over” on Thursday. The track will appear on a deluxe reissue of The Queen Is Dead on October 20th. 

The demo of “I Know It’s Over” adheres closely to the final recorded version: Rumbly lines from Andy Rourke on bass, sharp triplets from Mike Joyce on drums, light acoustic rhythm parts and pushy but languorous leads from Johnny Marr on guitar. Joyce adds fills and cymbal splats to announce the arrival of each Morrissey hook. Morrissey alters the lyrics slightly, climbing into an “icy bed” (versus “empty” on the official version) and wondering, “I don’t see what else I can do” instead of “I don’t know where else I can go.”

The deluxe edition of The Queen Is Dead also contains a demo version of Louder Than Bombs‘ “Rubber Ring,” the band’s first take of “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” a previously unreleased live album recorded at Great Woods Center for the Performing Arts in 1986 and Derek Jarman’s film The Queen Is Dead.

“You cannot continue to record and simply hope that your audience will approve, or that average critics will approve, or that radio will approve,” Morrissey said in a statement accompanying the reissue announcement. “You progress only when you wonder if an abnormally scientific genius would approve – and this is the leap the Smiths took with The Queen Is Dead.”

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Certified Classics Announces Inaugural Release of Vinyl Reissues

Certified Logo (PRNewsfoto/Legacy Recordings)NEW YORK, Oct. 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Certified Classics announced today eight new vinyl pressings available in stores everywhere on October 20. These titles represent some of the greatest hip-hop and R&B of the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s. Several titles are presented as brand-new color…