Author Archives: M Fund

Watch Mickey Guyton's Roof-Raising 'GMA' Performance

Calling it “the ballad that’s gonna blow you away,” Good Morning America co-host Amy Robach introduced “Better Than You Left Me,” the current single by Mickey Guyton, who dropped by the morning show to perform Monday. (Watch the performance above.)

The radiant Guyton, decked out in a yellow sundress, was complimented by Robach on her big smile, with the host pointing out that the widespread critical acclaim she’s received and the record-breaking success of the single, are no doubt helping put the smile on the Texas native’s face.

Inspired by a difficult break-up, Guyton, one of Rolling Stone Country‘s Artists You Need to Know, penned “Better Than You Left Me” — with co-writers Jennifer Hanson, Jenn Schott and Nathan Chapman — during her first-ever Nashville writing session.

“This was one of those songs that just fell from the sky,” Guyton tells Rolling Stone Country. “I had my final fight with my ex-boyfriend — he was trying to come back into my life after we’d been going back and forth for about four years. He just couldn’t get it together, and I was telling him no. He said to me, ‘Don’t make me find someone else.’ I couldn’t believe he would say something like that! I was charged up from that conversation and went into my first co-write in Nashville…. I went through the whole relationship, and Jennifer Hanson said, ‘But you know what? You’re better than he left you.'”

Noting the dearth of African-American women in country music, Robach said to Guyton, “You’re changing that.” The singer replied that there have been a few throughout history, but country music could use more. “And more girls,” she added.

Guyton’s debut album is due this summer. She’ll hit the road in June with Brad Paisley.

Grateful Dead's Original Lyrics, Posters and Furniture Go to Auction

A selection of Grateful Dead memorabilia, including posters, original drafts of lyrics and even the group’s office furniture, is headed to auction. The Grateful Dead Family Jubilee Auction will take place at Donley Auction Services in Union, Illinois on April 11th and 12th, in advance of the band’s upcoming block of summer Fare Thee Well shows in Chicago. Former employees and friends of the Dead contributed the items in the auction.

Most notable among the offerings are an original draft of Robert Hunter’s lyrics to “He’s Gone,” which appeared on the band’s Europe ’72 live release; it is expected to go for $150,000. A chair with lion-paw legs used by Jerry Garcia in a 1987 Rolling Stone photo is expected to fetch $50,000.

Other items include the kitchen table that once sat in the band’s San, Rafael, California office – which, the auction house colorfully offers, “the band gathered around to drink coffee and consider the day” – original poster art by Rick Griffin and Stanley Mouse and the “Soto List,” a list of the band’s concerts that served as the basis for one of the first Grateful Dead Internet databases. A desk, the government patent document entitling the band to the name the Grateful Dead, original “long strange trip” lettering and a photo signed by Garcia, Hunter and Dave Nelson are also going to auction.

The Dead will commemorate their 50th anniversary in July with three farewell concerts featuring help from Phish frontman Trey Anastasio and pianist Bruce Hornsby. It will be the last time that percussionists Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, bassist Phil Lesh and guitarist Bob Weir will play together.

Nicki Minaj to Kick Off Pinkprint North American Tour in July

Nicki Minaj kicked off her European tour for The Pinkprint in Sweden on Monday, and now she’s gearing up to take the album on the road back home. The rapper-singer announced her North American summer dates, beginning on July 17th in Dallas and wrapping up in Edmonton, Alberta on August 19th. Minaj noted on Instagram that a few more dates will be added to the schedule.

She’ll have good company on the journey, with support from Meek Mill, Rae Sremmurd, Tinashe and Dej Loaf.

Minaj released The Pinkprint, her third album, last December. In her January cover story interview with Rolling Stone, Minaj described the mission behind her new work. “One of my goals was to give people a glimpse into my personal life, because it’s something I’ve kept very private,” she said. “I struggled with ‘Do I express these feelings?’ And I decided there’s no reason for me to hide. I’m a vulnerable woman, and I’m proud of that.”

Nicki Minaj Pinkprint Tour Dates

July 17 – Dallas, Texas @ Gexa Energy Pavilion
July 20 – Miami, Fla.@ Bayfront Park & Amphitheater
July 22 – Bristow, Va. @ Jiffy Lube Live
July 24 – Holmdel, N.J. @ PNC Bank Arts Center
July 26 – Brooklyn, N.Y. @ Barclays Center
July 28 – Toronto, Ont. @ Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
July 29 – Montreal, Que. @ Bell Centre
July 31 – Clarkston, Mich. @ DTE Energy Music Theatre
Aug. 2 – Atlanta, Ga. at Aaron’s Amphitheatre @ Lakewood
Aug. 4 – Charlotte, N.C. @ PNC Music Pavillion
Aug. 6 – Camden, N.J. @ Susquehanna Bank Center
Aug. 8 – Burgettstown, Pa. at First Niagara Pavilion
Aug. 9 – Tinley Park, Ill. @ First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Aug. 11 – Denver, Colo. @ Pepsi Center
Aug. 13 – Chula Vista, Calif. @ Sleep Train Amphitheatre
Aug. 14 – Concord, Calif. @ Concord Pavilion
Aug. 16 – Vancouver, B.C. @ Pepsi Live at Rogers Arena
Aug. 18 – Calgary, Alta. @ Scotiabank Saddledome
Aug. 19 – Edmonton, Alta. @ Rexall Place

Drake Enlists J. Cole, Big Sean for OVO Fest

J. Cole will route the latest leg of his Forest Hills Drive tour through Toronto for Drake’s OVO Fest this summer, bringing along guests Big Sean, YG and Jeremih as well, Pitchfork reports.

This year’s event will take place on August 2nd and 3rd, with Drake headlining the second night. The August 2nd concert will also feature Bas, Cozz and Omen — all of whom are signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records — while Drake will be joined by unspecified special guests on the 3rd.

Tickets for OVO Fest go on sale March 20th, while the event itself will be held at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. Last year, Outkast split headlining duties with Drake, who was joined onstage by Lauryn Hill, Usher, 50 Cent and G-Unit.

Before hosting the sixth iteration of OVO Fest, Drake will headline a handful of other festivals, including Coachella, Governors Ball and the Wireless Festival at Finsbury Park in London.

In February, Drake surprise-released a new 17-track mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, to iTunes, one day after dropping the moody short film Jungle. If You’re Reading This included a number of previously released cuts, including “6 God” and “Used To,” though it remains unclear if it was a price-tagged mixtape, or if his fourth album, tentatively titled Views from the 6, evolved into this project.

While Drake has plenty to look forward to in the coming months, he and his OVO brethren are not anticipating the release of the upcoming concert documentary, Drake’s Homecoming: The Lost Footage. The rapper recently took to Twitter to denounce the film, which is centered around a 2009 concert at Toronto’s Sound Academy, just before he signed with Lil Wayne’s Young Money label. Homecoming is set for a one-night release on March 19th.

Watch Clean Bandit Explore America, Do Insanity Workout on U.S. Tour

When Clean Bandit formed in 2008, they were a Cambridge-based string quartet with an open ear for garage and R&B. Pop success didn’t seem likely at the time, but last year their breezy dance cut “Rather Be” spent four weeks as the Number One single in the U.K. This week, the band will make its South by Southwest debut, riding the single’s momentum and showcasing “Real Love,” its equally buoyant follow-up. 

Clean Bandit’s Texas dates come in the midst of their second North American tour. Above, watch a behind-the-scenes short film documenting their progress thus far. Although these U.K. kids initially seem intimidated by the wide swath of country they’ll be covering, they quickly get the hang of the American road-trip lifestyle.

The clip opens with the band taking the stage at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore. “It was such a shock, the warmth and energy of the crowd,” says cellist Grace Chatto says. “It was just so fun and we were so happy because we had no idea, really, if anyone would know who we were out here. And definitely we thought people wouldn’t know any more than ‘Rather Be.'”

The doc goes on to offer a glimpse at all the details that make up a life on the road, from hunkering down in tour-bus bunk beds to browsing the racks at local record shops. The band even demonstrates how they keep in shape while traveling, thanks to their dedication to the Insanity Workout.

Leonard Cohen Live Album 'Can't Forget' to Feature Two New Songs

A new Leonard Cohen live album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, will feature two tunes the singer-songwriter has not released anywhere else and two previously unreleased covers.

New songs “Never Gave Nobody Trouble” and “Got a Little Secret” feature midway through the LP, recorded onstage and during soundchecks of his Old Ideas World Tour, and his takes on Georges Dor’s Quebecois love song “La Manic” and George Jones’ “Choices.” The rest of Can’t Forget, Cohen’s second live album since the release of 2014’s Popular Problems, contains many infrequently played tunes from throughout Cohen’s career.

Late last year, Cohen released the LP and video release Live in Dublin, which, as the title suggests, showcases his three-hour performance at Irish capital’s O2 Arena in 2013. But before that, he put out the studio album Popular Problems. The record won Album of the Year at Canada’s Juno Awards, the country’s analog to the Grammys, earlier this month.

In an interview with Rolling Stone around the time of Popular Problems, he explained how he knows when a song is working. “You can pretty well tell,” Cohen said. “We play it for select people, like my daughter – there’s a few people who aren’t afraid to tell you that it isn’t working. We had another song on the album, which was called ‘Happens to the Heart,’ which will be on the next album. It’s a very good lyric, a very good tune, but we didn’t nail it. So we didn’t put each other on about it – not for more than a week or two.”

Can’t Forget is due out May 12th.

Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour Track List:

1. “Field Commander Cohen”
2. “I Can’t Forget”
3. “Light as the Breeze”
4. “La Manic”
5. “Night Comes On”
6. “Never Gave Nobody Trouble”
7. “Joan of Arc”
8. “Got a Little Secret”
9. “Choices”
10. “Stages”

Eli Young Band Take 'Evolutionary Step' With New EP 'Turn It On'

Out with the old and in with the new Eli Young Band. The veteran group’s new musical chapter is full of experimentation, as heard via Turn It On, their new four-song EP that finds the four bandmates working with new producers and blurring genre lines.

“We felt like ‘Turn It On’ was a good transition song to introduce this next sound that we have started developing,” lead singer Mike Eli tells Rolling Stone Country of the title track, which is now at country radio. “It all started developing with the new producers [Ross Copperman and Jeremy Stover] and some of the new writing. It’s that new evolutionary step for the band.”

Eli Young Band’s last full-length, 10,000 Towns spawned their third chart-topping hit, “Drunk Last Night,” and further fueled the momentum that began with their Republic Nashville debut, Life at Best, which featured the breakout hit “Crazy Girl” and the Grammy-nominated “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.”

When they first started working on music for their new album, the guys admit they didn’t know fans would get to hear it this soon. “We started out in the studio to cut an experiment with Ross and Jeremy,” Eli says of fellow band members Jon Jones, James Young and Chris Thompson. “We went to the studio recording these four songs, originally intending to put into demos or maybe to lead into our next record, but then that’s when [Executive VP Big Machine Label Group/President of Republic Nashville] Jimmy Harnen and [Big Machine Label Group SVP of A&R] Allison Jones came into the studio to listen and they fell in love with what we were doing. They decided that they wanted to fast track an EP and get a single out as soon as possible. It was exciting for us because when we’ve recorded albums in the past, it takes some time to get it out. We just recorded this stuff in the middle of January, and the fact that we’re already out is pretty astounding to us. It’s going to be fresh to us on stage when we play it live — for us and the fans too.”

“When you’ve been making music for 15 years like the four of us together, you’ve got to change it up a little bit,” Thompson says of the band’s new sound. “The most positive change that we made was working with Ross and Jeremy. It’s different than anything we’ve done before and that’s exciting. They went in the studio with us and pulled the best out of us, really pushed us to make something great, special and new.”

“Going back into the studio really reinvigorated us,” Jones adds. “We are more excited than we have been that I can remember. For the most part, all of the tracks were done, the meat and potatoes were laid out in two days. Mike did some of the vocals at his house and got to go back and sprinkle stuff on afterwards, but the four of us just [recorded these songs] in two days — a really fun two days.”

In addition to the title track, the EP includes three other new tunes: “Plastic,” “Your Place or Mine” and “Drink You Up” — which Young deems “a pop song.” “It’s a little bit of a departure from where we’ve gone in the past, but we have always kind of flirted with pop rock and this just seemed a natural fit to us,” he says, “and it’s a blast to play live. We’re starting out each set every night with this song.”

Eli describes “Your Place or Mine” as a prequel to “Drunk Last Night” and says they had to dip back into their personal dating history to come up with lyrics about the longing and uncertainty that come with an on again/off again relationship. “We’re four guys that are now happily married, and finding that moment where we were going through that [angst], we had to go back a few years,” he says. “Jon and I co-wrote that with Jeremy and Ross, and we [thought back to] that moment where you’re sitting with someone and you’re on break, and you can’t help but continuing to gravitate towards that person. Luckily Jon and I feel like we had a happy ending when it came to that, because we married those girls.”

Fans will hear those new tunes this spring as the band hits the road on both Toby Keith’s tour and their own headlining dates. “We’ve been on so many tours the last two or three years,” says Jones. “It’s exciting to be able to continually play dates that we can play two hour shows versus playing a 45-minute opening set. We’re excited about getting down the road, doing the Eli Young Band thing.”

Pharrell Partners With United Nations for International Happy Day

After years of high-profile musical collaborations, Pharrell Williams has partnered with the United Nations to, fittingly, promote the organization’s International Day of Happiness, held each year on March 20th.

Specifically, Pharrell will be using his post to further raise awareness of climate change issues ahead of the UN’s conference on the subject in Paris this December. Compounding his duties as Creative Director of Live Earth, he’ll be encouraging people to sign the eco group’s petition urging global leaders to adopt a new climate accord, with the hopes of garnering 1 billion signatures before the conference.

Furthermore, the musician will spread the joy by inviting people to join a “Global Happy Party” by uploading pictures of themselves, which will then be combined into a massive animated .gif set to the musician’s smash, “Happy.”

“In a year where there is so much turmoil in the world, from social conflict to climate change, we need moments to stop and celebrate happiness,” Pharrell said in a statement. “Protecting our planet is fundamental to the pursuit of human happiness and that is why we have chosen to support Live Earth’s movement to raise a billion voices for climate action. We believe that happiness can change the world.”

Pharrell has also curated a special mixtape for Internet radio service Pandora to promote the movement. The sprawling collection is available to stream now and boasts tunes from Daft Punk, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Weezer, Kanye West, Missy Elliott, Ray Charles and more.

Earlier this week, John Legend, Ed Sheeran, Cody Simpson, David Guetta, James Blunt and Charlize Theron joined forces with the United Nations to create “the world’s happiest playlist” and launching its weeklong #happysoundslike campaign.

Pharrell’s partnership with Live Earth — co-founded by Al Gore and Kevin Wall — was announced in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. To further raise awareness of climate change and the Paris conference, Gore, Wall and Williams announced they would revive the Live Earth concert, which first took place in 2007 in 11 cities around the globe. While no artists have been announced for the 2015 edition, Live Earth will return on June 18th with concerts scheduled to take place in New York, South Africa, Australia, China, Brazil and Paris.

James Murphy Chills Out on 'We Used to Dance' Instrumental

The anxiety of aging has been a theme in James Murphy’s work since he mulled his inevitable obsolescence on LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge.” While he’s dispatched the reference-laden lyrics, the same neurosis is still apparent on the instrumental, “We Used to Dance,” which premiered on IndieWire and will appear on the Murphy-helmed soundtrack for While We’re Young, the latest film from Noah Baumbach.

“We Used to Dance” doesn’t boast a thumping four-on-the-floor invitation to dance yourself clean, but instead finds Murphy crafting a gorgeous ambient number anchored by intermittent drum kicks that echo into an abyss of synths. The criss-crossing melodies all carry a certain melancholy, but together they swell into something that conveys a quiet acceptance and triumph.

The mood of “We Used to Dance” certainly fits the themes of While We’re Young, which stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as a forty-something couple who befriend two — to quote Murphy in “Losing My Edge” — “Brooklynites in little jackets.” As the film’s trailer shows, the younger couple, played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried, show Stiller and Watts the joys of not acting their age, introducing them to hip-hop dance classes, fedoras and rollerblading. The film also stars Beastie Boys’ Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz as a friend, and new father, trying to keep Stiller and Watts in check.

While We’re Young marks Murphy’s second score for Baumbach, following his work on 2010’s Greenberg. Along with Murphy’s contributions, the While We’re Young soundtrack boasts an impressive array of artists including A Tribe Called Quest, Paul McCartney, David Bowie and Haim.

The soundtrack will be available on CD and digitally March 24th via Milan Records, while a vinyl edition arrives on May 19th. While We’re Young opens in theaters on March 27th.

Music Composers Play Major Role In Canada's Film And TV Industry

The Country Celebrates Its Substantial Contributions To The Film And Television Industry, And Canadian Music Composers Play A Significant Part