Adele performs a song about my favorite place on the planet (London) in unplugged fashion for MTV.
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Blame it on a Bonnarroo hangover perhaps or the weak economy, but this week is one of the lightest new music release weeks in recent memory, rivaling the deserted graveyard that is the post holiday season. While next week promises an embarassment of indie riches, July 16th biggest highlights are a new platter from a barely known outside the indie set Americana band and a collaboration of production heavyweights Switch and Diplo. At the other end of the spectrum, the suits are pegging the week’s sales figures on a new one from the Jonas Brothers. Yeah, it’s a sad week for iTune afficiandos and big box store shoppers. That said, there are a couple of worthy re-issues on offer, with power pop legend, Big Star’s #1 Record/Radio City being at the head of the class.
Major Lazer - Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do
Star remixer Diplo and M.I.A. producer Switch have teamed up for a heavily buzzed about collaboration in Major Lazer. The two creative forces merge reggae and dancehall with electronic beats and textures in a successful cross-genre experimentation. The end result is something like “digital dancehall”.
Release: 11 August 2009 (US) / 4 May 2009 (UK)
1. Leaving Town
6. Work It Out
7. I Love You
8. This Time Around
9. Real Life
10. Stop Dancing
“Headlock “[MP3] from Braveface
“Work It Out (Sinden remix) [MP3]
America Mixtape [MP3]
Royal Tour Mix [MP3]
15 Jun Le Royale - New York, New York
17 Jun Wrongbar - Toronto, Ontario
18 Jun Popscene - San Francisco, California
19 Jun Echoplex - Los Angeles, California
20 Jun Sonoteque - Chicago, Illinois
The Parks Foundation knew they wanted Josh Ritter for the SummerStage season, but booking him opening night created an incentive for panache, so organizers told us. Thus the New York Pops were called upon to accompany the plainly eloquent singer-songwriter for his park debut. Ritter—backed by Zack Hickman, bass, Sam Kassirer, piano, Austin Nevins, lead, and Liam Hurley, drums—pulled out some older tunes over the course of his one-and-a-half-hour set (“Other Side”, “Bone of Song”, “Kathleen”), though most were saved for the end. Mostly the set stuck to his Animal Years and Historical Conquests repertoire. The latter record was also full of orchestrations and arrangements, setting up hopeful recreations. Unfortunately from the opening notes of the Pops’ overture it was abundantly clear that they would be the one blight of the evening. Even by community orchestra standards they were plagued by intonation issues—and technical ones beyond their control. They were able to scrap together competent accompaniments for a few numbers, though (“Kathleen”, “Empty Hearts”).
Salvation came in Ritter himself. He was unabashedly excited about his Summerstage gig, repeatedly doling out thank yous. In other words, he was his usual sympathetic, earnest and boyish self, practically speechless from the enthusiastic crowd and setting. His voice sounded strong throughout, particularly on “Girl in the War” and “Temptation of Adam”, as it either ached for a wronged lover or spun tall tales. His gorgeous melodies resonated with both equanimity and passion, and occasionally picked up the tempo as well (“To the Dogs or Whoever”). Two special guests also appeared, usurping the Pops in substance and style. Violinist Hilary Hahn joined Ritter for a duet of “Thin Blue Flame”, imbuing Ritter’s sound with warmth and feeling. And for his encore Ritter invited Glen Hansard to sing a duet on “Come and Find Me”. Hansard ended up running back onstage for the finale, “Empty Hearts”. It was a satisfying end to a dreary week of rain and an ideal start to the SummerStage season.
Gossip’s major label debut Music For Men releases next week on Columbia. “Heavy Cross” is the new video, a jagged, dancey tune with rather stock performance style visuals.