Back in 2011, PopMatters’ Matt James raved about Lydia Loveless’ aptly titled sophomore outing, Indestructible Machine, noting that “Lydia Loveless’ second record is, by turns, a succession of swift punches to the face followed by a lover’s warm, passionate embrace. Either way, it holds your attention. Indestructible Machine is as good as anything I’ve heard this year and marks the true, and truly defiant, arrival of what could be a serious talent.”
It’s a good time to be a “souljer”. That’s the name of Russell Taylor’s ever-growing legion of listeners. The singer-songwriter recently premiered his video for “War of Hearts”, the first single off his forthcoming album.
A few years have passed since Taylor’s Confessional (2009) breathed fresh life into the independent soul music scene, but “War of Hearts” proves it’s been worth the wait for new music from one of R&B’s most gifted vocalists and songwriters. “I have been working on this CD for over a year, and ‘War of Hearts’ was the pivotal point for me,” Taylor explains. “It was the genesis for the sound of the entire CD (War of Hearts).” Indeed, the title track is cushioned by an appealing sparseness that accentuates Taylor’s strong vocals.
From “Do I Wanna Know?”: “Ever thought of calling when you’ve had a few / Cause I always do.” Then on the band’s latest, “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”—a tiptoeing, after-hours, R&B-pop ditty—Turner tries repeatedly to arrange a booty call, but only receives the titular question in response (see the hallucination-dotted video below, directed by Nabil Elderkin, for a cheeky rendering). He’s forced to lament, “I haven’t found what I was hoping to find.” Though the distance between Arctic Monkeys’ scrappy roots and their current megastar selves (complete with plush suits, morphing accents, and fewer hooks) is sizable, Turner the lyricist remains a clever and relatable wise guy. It’s his and the band’s most appealing strength.
Erlend Øye’s creativity is endless; as if being part of Kings of Convenience and the Whitest Boy Alive wasn’t enough, he will now release an entire album with tracks sang in Italian under the name of Erlend Øye and La Comitiva. La Prima Estate – which in English means “the first summer”—still doesn’t have a release date, but you can listen to the title track and first single on Spotify. Bubble Records, the label he co-founded with Marcin Øz in 2006, shared some details of this new record on their Facebook page:
“In 2012 Erlend Øye moved from Norway to Italy. It didn’t take him long to discover the goldmine of Italian music of the 60s and 70s and start taking inspiration from its arrangements and style of melodies. Neither did it take him long to take inspiration from the lives of the people around him in the Sicilian town of Siracusa, his new home, and learn enough of the language to write this song, La Prima Estate, his first song in Italian, which centers around his friend Lucia and her day of graduation. Recorded in Berlin, backed by the musicians of The Whitest Boy Alive on bass, drums and synthesizer, Erlend plays the electric guitar and mandolin, while new face Victor Abrahamsson is responsible for the tracks signature flute melodies.”