Sometimes a singer’s work is too conveniently packaged. Is this one simply a stylist dedicated to carefully approximating their genre? Is that one an innovator? In the case of Sharon Jones, who died last November after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, the truth is somewhere else.
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Having released 12 albums in as many years, one would think Electric Six would by now be running out of ideas, stamina or things to sing about.
Instead, as anyone who listens to their new album Fresh Blood for Tired Vampyres will tell you, it’s as if they discovered the fountain of youth. Their latest is a collection of electro-disco numbers that incorporate metal riffs, spoken bits, and sound effects that would seem welcome in an Ed Wood film. It’s impossible to listen to the album without wanting to throw a block party, their mastery of dark themes with infectious beats a welcome antidote to a world that just keeps getting darker. What remains surprising is how they’re able to inject life into situations that seem uninteresting, their ability to see magic in the mundane as always being their best asset.
Sadler Vaden released his debut full-length solo album in August 2016, which is now available on vinyl. His DIY effort morphed and was scrapped then re-imagined and recorded over a few years. What ultimately became this upbeat, pop-influenced rock record demonstrates Vaden’s expertise gleaned from fronting his own band in the early ‘00s for eight years, playing for Drivin N Cryin, and most recently for Jason Isbell. Even his cover of John Moreland’s song, “Nobody Cares About Songs Anymore,” becomes Vaden’s own, filtered through Big Star and Vaden’s sensibilities.
Allen Thompson Band‘s new album, Brace Yourself, is still kept under top-secret guard, but the stories leading to the title seem surreal. Thompson and band mate, Clint Maine, both broke their backs in separate accidents within a month of each other. The following year helped them expand their sound and get weirder, as they describe.
Thompson called on a slew of music friends to contribute to the record, including the first single, a duet with Elizabeth Cook, “Long Time Thinkin’”, out now.
In 2013, Beyoncé released her self-titled album with no prior announcement, no singles, no product tie-ins, no hype whatsoever. It was a strategy that shattered expectations. How could she and her label expect to make a return on an album that no one knew was coming? There were no pre-orders, no indication of what the demand would be, no focus groups to tell them if the sound was something people wanted to hear in the first place. But it worked. It worked so well, in fact, that in the following years, everyone from Kanye West to Avenged Sevenfold has been trying to recreate the energy that Beyoncé created.