When considering past Fourth of Julys, the tune that usually brings a star-spangled tear to my eye is Neil Diamond’s “America”. Something about this clip, framed in a tasteless, red, white, and blue banner, showcases Diamond’s whipped-back mane and shredded voice befittingly. The video encapsulates what I loved about my parents’ Fourth-of-July barbecues as a kid. A group of adults could usually be found in the backyard donning similar hairdos, smoking endless cigarettes between highballs and hotdogs. After enough drinks the adults would frequently wind up dancing on the lawn like the middle-aged women in the audience of this clip, lacking rhythm, but full of American spirit.
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Tributes on music award shows don’t always do the artist justice or give the fans a show to remember, but Prince’s tribute last Sunday at the BET Awards was one of the best tributes I’ve seen in a long, long time. It’s been almost a week and I still can’t forget how much fun it was to watch Prince watch other artists sing, reinterpret and celebrate his songs in fine fashion. There were many reason the tribute was so good, but for me the main reason the Prince tribute was a classic award show moment was because it gave us a glimpse into how Prince might of responded as a fan at some of his favorite concerts.
As the medley of songs unfolded, it was like we were watching Prince voyage back to the moment when he first went through his own fan-to-artist live concert transformation. Rarely do we get to see artists respond like this at a live show, let along their own music being celebrated by other artists. I can’t remember seeing an artist be so moved at an award show like Prince was as he sat in the front row bobbing his head, grinning with pleasure and feeling the groove. And what I love the most was having the chance to see Prince get jazzed emotionally and then physically respond as he watched other artists, who he has inspired, re-inspired him all over again. I still don’t know what was better, watching Prince’s reactions or watching the other artist’s performance themselves.
Either way, it was an excellent live music moment, and it all climaxed when Patti LaBelle flung her shoe and Prince caught it during finale of “Purple Rain”. These moments are few and far between during award show tributes. And like Lady’s Gaga’s performance at the 2009 AMA’s, I definitely have a bit more faith in the ability of award shows to deliver the goods for fans at home and the artist watching in the seats.
If you missed the BET award show you can see the whole Prince Tribute on the BET website.
The Wilderness of Manitoba fulfills the promise of last year’s well-received EP Hymns of Love & Spirits with debut full-length When You Left the Fire. The Toronto band draws influence from 1960s folk acts, but in a fresh way, as the familiar elements of the album serve to provide a pleasant context for the otherwise original and memorable arrangements. Guitars, bass and drums are augmented by ukulele, cello, lap steel, and singing bowls, but the songs never seem overcrowded. At the center of the band’s well-crafted sound are remarkable vocal harmonies and stirring lyrics that recall those of Low’s Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, reimagined as a modern folk outfit. Although final track “Reveries en Couleurs” is a bit of an overlong indulgence, When You Left the Fire is a stunner from beginning to end and should be regarded as one of the year’s best debut albums.
While the identity of the person(s) behind iamamiwhoami remains uncomfirmed, the music keeps coming monthly, with the latest being “t” for July.
The video sees the return of the female protagonist, this time playing a tin-foil covered queen of the sea, who emerges to explore the shore and dance seductively with a foil-covered car. Also, there are a group of shadow-obscured dancers who may or may not be naked. And the singer still may or may not be Jonna Lee.
It’s also worth checking out the other video linked in the description to “t” (here), which appears to be a child preacher.
At this point, the single-letter titles of the full-length iamamiwhoami tracks spell out “B-O-U-N-T.” So, is this “bountiful?” A “bounty?” Twitter chatter suggests this site has something to do with it: iambounty.com.
As disco goes, Norwegian producer Prins Thomas (popularly known as Lindstrøm’s other musical half) has always outpaced LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. In a more even-handed critical landscape, Thomas’s self-titled debut solo LP would be received with the level of enthusiasm that surrounded LCD Soundsystem’s recent This is Happening. Easily the better album of the two, Prins Thomas references some of the same 1970s rock influences that Murphy integrates into his current sound, but the result is much more self-assured and dynamic. Across seven lengthy tracks, Thomas melds his electronic and rock music impulses into proggy, funky, and above all rhythmic compositions that are actually quite relaxing and often tuneful, even as they rely on regimentation and the motorik beat. Although the album is mostly instrumental, the use of occasional vocals is effective, especially on the stunning “Nattønsket”. “Wendy Not Walter” and “Åttiåtte” are the two tracks with the clearest relationship to modern dance music, but on the whole Prins Thomas is a delightfully revivalist affair that revisits the age of Neu!, Can, and Cymande with a great deal of credibility and skill.