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by Ian Mathers

18 Jan 2010

The deliberately mysterious and reserved British duo Hurts have yet to put out so much as a single, but between the stylishly retro videos for “Wonderful Life” last year and now “Blood, Tears & Gold”, whatever they manage to put out in 2010 ought to be incredible. What they do isn’t exactly innovative—the Guardian described them as “a boy-duo styled by Helmut Newton, directed by Anton Corbijn and produced by Trevor Horn on a Martin Hannett tip”, but if you like the certain kind of elegant, tightly reined in pop music those names conjure up, you ought to be paying attention, because so far Hurts do it exceptionally well.

“Blood, Tears & Gold” is the ballad counterpoint to the soaring Pet Shop Boys/OMD/Eurythmics synth-pop of “Wonderful Life”, and honestly, despite my love for that song, I didn’t know if they could pull something less icy off.  But they do, and they do so magnificently.

by Allison Taich

18 Jan 2010

Tuesday, January 19th marks the birthday of the late, great Janis Joplin. Born in 1943, Joplin rose to rock stardom in the mid-‘60s with her raspy, soulful vocals and colorful demeanor as the front woman of Big Brother and the Holding Company. Unfortunately, her life and career were short-lived due to continuous run-ins with various substances, ultimately passing away from an overdose on October 4th, 1970. Regardless, Joplin’s spirit, presence, and voice will be immortalized in her music. Happy 67th, Janis!

by PC Muñoz

18 Jan 2010

Over the past 20 years, dream-pop/spoken-word artist Ingrid Chavez has quietly and powerfully carved a unique path and place for herself in the world of music. Many music fans first encountered Chavez as the angelic character “Aura” in Prince’s 1990 film Graffiti Bridge. Pop and dance fans may remember her as the author of the words to Madonna’s erotic mega-hit “Justify My Love”, and R&B fans likely recall her groundbreaking 1991 Paisley Park release, May 19, 1992, which was packed with dancey grooves featuring both spoken poetry and spirited, sung vocals. Sonic adventurers of all stripes may also know her as a guest vocalist on recordings by composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and maverick recording artist David Sylvian. After taking some time off to raise her daughters and limiting her music output to a few sporadic guest spots, Chavez is now back with a highly anticipated new album, A Flutter and Some Words, which effectively coheres her diverse background and particular set of influences into an enchantingly fresh sound.

A Flutter and Some Words is a collaboration with a duo of super-talented Italian maestros, Lorenzo Scopelliti (co-writer, multi-instrumentalist) and Alessandro Mazzitelli (recording and mixing engineer). Recorded mostly in Italy (save for some production work on the title track by longtime friend/collaborator Richard Werbowenko) the 14-song collection is a treasure trove of sonic delights: an earthy mix of lovely organic textures, otherworldly soundscapes, found-sound percussion and traditional string and wind instruments, with Chavez’s exquisite voice and words holding it all together.

by Sarah Zupko

18 Jan 2010

The musical event of the week on TV had to be the Austin City Limits appearance of two of the world’s best rappers, the incomparable and adventurous Mos Def and the Somalian born K’naan. Both produced sterling albums last year that found their way into many top music of 2009 lists, including our Top 60 list, and both create the kind of thinking-person’s hip-hop that has expanded the boundaries of the genre.

K’Naan “Waving Flag”

by Bill Gibron

18 Jan 2010

Mo’Nique was there to pick up her statue. James Cameron was a far more gracious “king of the world” this time around. There were as many predictable turns as there were outright stunners. And Ricky Gervais was generally funny. All in all, the Hollywood Foreign Press and their annual Golden Globes argued for their continued obsolescence and/or cutting edge insight into the current state of cinema, rewarding some clear consensus picks while pulling a few jaw-droppers out of their swanky continental collective. For those who missed the ceremony, here is a recap of the major movie awards: 

Best Motion Picture - Drama

Nominees:
Avatar
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Up in the Air

Perhaps the only real surprise here is that a film that’s made over $1 billion dollars internationally would NOT win the best picture award. Cameron’s epic has clearly touched a nerve overseas, and with this win (beating presumptive favorite Hurt Locker and Up in the Air) definitely positions itself as the new Oscar frontrunner…for now…until the inevitable backlash begins (if it hasn’t already). 

Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy

Nominees:
(500) Days of Summer
The Hangover
It’s Complicated
Julie & Julia
Nine

Considering its gross out, over the top, toilet bowl buffoonery, a Hangover win definitely stands as almost unbelievable. It would be easier to see any of the other films nominated picking up the little gold orb over this massive mainstream hit. While (500) Days of Summer would be preferable, it’s amazing that the Hollywood Foreign Press have decided to reward Todd Phillips film over what many might see as more “traditional” fare.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

That Ribbon of Highway: Sharon Jones Re-shapes Woody Guthrie's Song

// Sound Affects

"Sharon Jones and Woodie Guthrie knew: great songs belong to everybody.

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