"Sons of Kemet have crafted a narrative that sees Black people freeing themselves from the constraints of oppression" - NME argues in favour of the fourth album by the London afro-jazz quartet (gave it 5 of 5 stars). The Skinny deems it best SOK album with "a thrillingly rich tapestry that combines passionate reflections on […]

The awesome YouTube musicologist Adam Neely listened to songs of nine artists, offering advice on how to make the music better, through changes in mix, places of emphasys, and even how musicians should treat their bodies while playing. And a general advice he gave - it's just music, don't take it to seriously.

AKAI Solo

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble 'Soon It Will Be Fire' features Moses Sumney, a nearly sacral piece; UK rapper Berwyn offers a lovely hip-hop ballad 'Rubber Bands'; The Mountain Goats share superbly titled 'The Slow Parts On Death Metal Albums'; Hazel English fulfilled her dream - she moved to California and covered 'California Dreamin'', a way too pretty song and a way to nice a cover not to pick it out; AKAI SOLO and Navy Blue share psychedelic rap 'Ocean Hue Hours'; Resynator is a documentary about "a daughter connecting with her late father through the resurrection of a synthesizer from the 1970s that he invented", featuring The National's Matt Berninger and Ronboy doing 'Only a Broken Heart'; The Pleasure Dome share noisy punk 'Pretty Picture'; Wolf Alice keep on promising - 'No Hard Feelings' comes ahead of their new album, out in June; Shannon Lay goes in the best classic singer-songwriter direction with 'Rare To Wake'.

“You can think of music as being a thing in itself that is just sonic, but I don't think it is. Music is part of a bigger scheme of what your world view is, and what your temperament is at any given time” - Sons of Kemet's leader Shabaka Hutchings says in the Quietus interview ahead of their new album 'Black to the Future'. The recording process was shaped with time in mind - "What we did is we recorded the drums, we played for ten, 15 minutes, before the tuba came in. I might play the melody many times. The idea is that kind of communality, where you want to get out of the individual anxiety of what specifically you're playing, so it can just become a group enterprise, and it can only become a group enterprise after we've been playing circularly for ages”.

Revolutionary American composer Alvin Lucier will get a very special 90th birthday present that will be performed by 90 artists and is about to last for 26 hours. Artists will stage their performances of Lucier’s paradigmatic 1969 work 'I Am Sitting In a Room', an experimental work Lucier made to explore his own voice, consisting of echo and dissonance of his reading voice. Beginning on his birthday eve, Thursday, May 13th, 8pm EST (2am, Friday, May 14th Berlin time, 9am, Friday, May 14th Tokyo time) and continuing throughout all of Friday, May 14th, Lucier's birthday. The marathon on Thursday and Friday will feature members of his family, students and colleagues performing in various spaces, some of which have been part of the composer’s life. New York Times looks back into the artist's career.

Dua Lipa was named a double winner at the Brit Awards - she took home the British female solo artist and album of the year titles. Little Mix became the first all-female band to win best British group, Harry Styles took best British single for his song 'Watermelon Sugar', while J Hus received best British male solo artist. Female singer-songwriters Arlo Parks and Griff took home the British breakthrough artist and rising star awards respectively. The Weeknd won the international male solo artist prize, Billie Eilish was named international female solo artist winner, while Haim were dubbed best international group. The BRITs 2021 served as a government COVID pilot event, meaning that a scaled-back live audience – largely made up of NHS and key workers – witnessed this evening’s performances and acceptance speeches in person without the need to wear masks or social distance. NME reported from the event.

Zola Jesus / Nadya Tolokonnikova / ANOHNI

"I really like the parts of NFT that foreground the support of artists directly, and I love seeing whole new forms of art flourish in a new medium. But I think the financialization around the NFT space needs some heavy auditing... I don’t want people to bet on me like a racehorse” - Zola Jesus says to Pitchfork about NFTs, the latest creative-financial trend in music (and broader). Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova believes "NFTs are good because they claim that digital art is art, and they actually show that there is value in something that no one can touch”, whereas ANOHNI thinks "it’s shit".

Slate tracked down imposters using famous artists' names to attract listeners on Spotify, without even trying too hard to hide what they're doing. There was a Diana Ross who didn't look anything alike to the "real" Diana Ross, the age didn't match, music neither, and the artist was actually connected to Philippines-based record label Star Music. Electric Light Orchestra is the English 70s band, with the same name co-opted by an autotune-happy rapper. DJ Quik suddenly on Spotify started rapping in Spanish, and wasn't willing to show his face either. This happens a lot on Spotify, Slate argues.

Looking for the present

Is trap metal the future?

Mimi Barks

The Punk Rock MBA YouTuber this week presents trap metal, a new genre combining trap-rap and metal, especially the industrial segment of it. The video-blogger goes from early pioneers like Suicideboys, Bones, Scarlxrd, Ghostemane, and XXXtentacion, and suggests newer trap metal artists like Mugxtsu, Mimi Barks, Sinizster, Gizmo and Sematary.

Beethoven's morning hygiene routine involved standing half-dressed before a mirror and pouring enormous pitchers of water over his hands while singing loudly to himself. After this, the German composer would count out exactly 60 beans and grind them, and make himself a coffee. Van Magazine's writer tried a week of this routine, as well as other somewhat strange daily routines of 4 other classical composers - Edvard Grieg, Erik Satie, Igor Stravinsky, and Antonin Dvořák.

Jay-Z / Tina Turner / Dave Grohl

Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Jay-Z, Carole King, Todd Rundgren, and Tina Turner have been announced as The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees for the year 2021 in the Performers category. Additionally, LL Cool J, Billy Preston, and Randy Rhoads will receive the Musical Excellence Award. Kraftwerk, Gil Scott Heron and Charley Patton will get the Early Influence Award. NPR reports. "This is our most diverse class in the history of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” - says chairman John Sykes.

Marvin Gaye

If there was a year when music was the agent of change it was 1971, the new Apple TV+ docuseries '1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything' argues, Rolling Stone reports. The documentary was inspired by the book 'Never a Dull Moment: 1971 the Year That Rock Exploded' by David Hepworth, and it features footage of artists, many of whom have albums turning 50 this year, including George Harrison, Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell, Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones, John Lennon, Bill Withers, Elton John, Graham Nash, Bob Marley, Alice Cooper, and more. The eight-part docuseries also touches on the post-counterculture era and political and social upheaval.

Talib Kweli, Yasiin Bey, and comedian Dave Chappelle have launched a new podcast, 'The Midnight Miracle', on the subscription podcast network Luminary, Complex reports. The first episode, titled “How to Inspire,” is available for free via YouTube. The hosts spoke about life between clips of the late Amy Winehouse. The second episode features Bey and Kweli’s first music as Black Star in over 20 years.

The 82-year-old folk artist Peter Stampfel has just released '20th Century', a 100-song album, featuring a cover of one pop song from each year within the 20th century, beginning in 1901 with 'I Love You Truly' and closing on Coldplay’s 'Yellow'. Punk gets its place with The Buzzcock’s 1978 single 'Ever Fallen in Love', disco got its place with 'Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive', whereas the 1990s are represented by The Spice Girls’ hit 'Wannabe' (1996), Beck’s 'Loser', Pulp's 'Common People' and others. The project took nearly 20 years to complete. American Songwriter talked to the cool old man.

Instrumental startup flagged Arizona Zervas nearly two years before Columbia signed the American rapper, Lil Nas X was on its radar months before Columbia came calling, while Tones and I was recognized by the tool long before the Australian-born artist signed to Elektra Records. Instrumental has built-in a new approach to finding musical talent looking only at data – from social media and streaming numbers. Wired presents the tool.

"It’s a wonderful way to say goodbye, a celebration of Tony Allen doing the thing he loved and doing it as brilliantly and as unassailably as ever" - the Quietus wrote reviewing the posthumous album 'There Is No End', by the afrobeat drummer. It's Guardian's choice for their Global album of the month as it "plays as a cohesive record because of Allen’s capacity to slot into place behind seemingly any collaborator without diluting his innate sense of rhythmic style" (collaborators include Sampa the Great, Skepta, Ben Okri, and Danny Brown). Pitchfork argues "'There Is No End' is Allen as his most copacetic, polished self. It doesn’t feel like the finish line, but rather a passing of the baton".

“That’s me now. Fake head of hair, fake eyebrows, fake teeth, fake hip. I’m the biggest fucking fake going!” - Shaun Ryder says in Guardian interview. It's a funny read (maybe not 100% scientific) - "I was a heroin addict for 20-odd years, but there’s been no damage off that", or maybe not entirely - "Yes, my teeth went from the crystal meth and crack cocaine".

Six strands of Kurt Cobain's hair are being auctioned as part of Iconic Auctions' 'The Amazing Music Auction', Loudwire reports. This one-of-a-kind artifact is "accompanied by an impeccable lineage of provenance including photos of Kurt posing with the woman who cut this hair, scissors in hand, and a fantastic shot of the hair actually being cut! The lucky friend who trimmed the Nirvana frontman's iconic blond locks was an early confidant, Tessa Osbourne, who cut his hair in 1989 — well prior to his 'Nevermind' breakthrough — while on the 'Bleach' tour", the press statement reads. The bidding started at $2,500.

Co-founder and namesake of Vans shoe company, Paul Van Doren has passed away at age 90, NBC reports. Van Doren launched Vans in 1966 and has since built the Anaheim, California-based company into a global sneaker and streetwear brand. Last month, Van Doren released his memoir 'Authentic'.

At the Brit Awards on Tuesday, Taylor Swift is to become the first female winner of the Global Icon award, CNN reports. She will also become the first non-British recipient of the prize, which the Brits characterise as their highest honour. Only three other artists have been named Brits Icons - Sir Elton John, David Bowie and Robbie Williams.

DJ Khaled nabbed his third No. 1 album on Billboard 200 chart this week, Billboard reports. Rappers and producer's 12th studio album, 'Khaled Khaled', recorded 93,000 equivalent album sales during its first week out, including 76,000 in SEA units (equaling 106.87 million on-demand streams of the album’s tracks), 14,000 in album sales. and 3,000 in TEA units.

NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars has recorded audio of the Ingenuity helicopter in action, making it the first spacecraft to record the sounds of another spacecraft on another planet. The recording was taken during Ingenuity’s fourth test flight on April 30, C-Net reports. In the video, a low rumble caused by the wind on Mars can be heard as it blows past the rover. From that rumble comes a hum of the helicopter’s blade whipping through the thin atmosphere.

"If you choose to be a musician, you have to understand that it's only worth it if you become the best musician you can be" - parents of classical guitarist Miloš Karadaglić told their son when he set off from Montenegro to Royal Academy of Music in London. He mastered the classical guitar, only to face a new problem - there aren't so many famous guitar concertos. He asked for new compositions for classical guitar - from British film and TV composer Joby Talbot, and 'Lord of the Rings' composer Howard Shore - and got them. NPR tells the pretty story of the Montenegrin.

The US chart authority, Billboard has created a ranking of the most popular songs in the U.S. based on Twitter conversations, Bloomberg reports. The chart, called “the Billboard Hot Trending Powered by Twitter”, is unusual for Billboard in that it’s not measuring what people are listening to, but what they talk about.

Simmons & Matteo

A quintessential blog post at The Melt about "Spago Rock", defined by Mike Pace of Oxford Collapse: "A style of music that could be loosely defined as organic soul with synthetic instrumentation. If the yacht rock sound encompassed the mid-’70s to early ‘80s and centered around good times n' vibes, Spago Rock takes place from roughly 1986-1992, when many legacy artists matured and mellowed into their 40s, yet still wanted to be seen as contemporary and relevant. Artists who cut their teeth woodshedding in the analog days were now embracing the latest in digital studio technology, crafting immaculate electronic-based sophisti-pop while never truly abandoning their rock roots". Pace's new project Simmons & Matteo is the new phase of that genre.

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"Sons of Kemet have crafted a narrative that sees Black people freeing themselves from the constraints of oppression" - NME argues in favour of the fourth album by the London afro-jazz quartet (gave it 5 of 5 stars). The Skinny deems it best SOK album with "a thrillingly rich tapestry that combines passionate reflections on […]

The awesome YouTube musicologist Adam Neely listened to songs of nine artists, offering advice on how to make the music better, through changes in mix, places of emphasys, and even how musicians should treat their bodies while playing. And a general advice he gave - it's just music, don't take it to seriously.

AKAI Solo

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble 'Soon It Will Be Fire' features Moses Sumney, a nearly sacral piece; UK rapper Berwyn offers a lovely hip-hop ballad 'Rubber Bands'; The Mountain Goats share superbly titled 'The Slow Parts On Death Metal Albums'; Hazel English fulfilled her dream - she moved to California and covered 'California Dreamin'', a way too pretty song and a way to nice a cover not to pick it out; AKAI SOLO and Navy Blue share psychedelic rap 'Ocean Hue Hours'; Resynator is a documentary about "a daughter connecting with her late father through the resurrection of a synthesizer from the 1970s that he invented", featuring The National's Matt Berninger and Ronboy doing 'Only a Broken Heart'; The Pleasure Dome share noisy punk 'Pretty Picture'; Wolf Alice keep on promising - 'No Hard Feelings' comes ahead of their new album, out in June; Shannon Lay goes in the best classic singer-songwriter direction with 'Rare To Wake'.

“You can think of music as being a thing in itself that is just sonic, but I don't think it is. Music is part of a bigger scheme of what your world view is, and what your temperament is at any given time” - Sons of Kemet's leader Shabaka Hutchings says in the Quietus interview ahead of their new album 'Black to the Future'. The recording process was shaped with time in mind - "What we did is we recorded the drums, we played for ten, 15 minutes, before the tuba came in. I might play the melody many times. The idea is that kind of communality, where you want to get out of the individual anxiety of what specifically you're playing, so it can just become a group enterprise, and it can only become a group enterprise after we've been playing circularly for ages”.

Revolutionary American composer Alvin Lucier will get a very special 90th birthday present that will be performed by 90 artists and is about to last for 26 hours. Artists will stage their performances of Lucier’s paradigmatic 1969 work 'I Am Sitting In a Room', an experimental work Lucier made to explore his own voice, consisting of echo and dissonance of his reading voice. Beginning on his birthday eve, Thursday, May 13th, 8pm EST (2am, Friday, May 14th Berlin time, 9am, Friday, May 14th Tokyo time) and continuing throughout all of Friday, May 14th, Lucier's birthday. The marathon on Thursday and Friday will feature members of his family, students and colleagues performing in various spaces, some of which have been part of the composer’s life. New York Times looks back into the artist's career.

Dua Lipa was named a double winner at the Brit Awards - she took home the British female solo artist and album of the year titles. Little Mix became the first all-female band to win best British group, Harry Styles took best British single for his song 'Watermelon Sugar', while J Hus received best British male solo artist. Female singer-songwriters Arlo Parks and Griff took home the British breakthrough artist and rising star awards respectively. The Weeknd won the international male solo artist prize, Billie Eilish was named international female solo artist winner, while Haim were dubbed best international group. The BRITs 2021 served as a government COVID pilot event, meaning that a scaled-back live audience – largely made up of NHS and key workers – witnessed this evening’s performances and acceptance speeches in person without the need to wear masks or social distance. NME reported from the event.

Zola Jesus / Nadya Tolokonnikova / ANOHNI

"I really like the parts of NFT that foreground the support of artists directly, and I love seeing whole new forms of art flourish in a new medium. But I think the financialization around the NFT space needs some heavy auditing... I don’t want people to bet on me like a racehorse” - Zola Jesus says to Pitchfork about NFTs, the latest creative-financial trend in music (and broader). Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova believes "NFTs are good because they claim that digital art is art, and they actually show that there is value in something that no one can touch”, whereas ANOHNI thinks "it’s shit".

Slate tracked down imposters using famous artists' names to attract listeners on Spotify, without even trying too hard to hide what they're doing. There was a Diana Ross who didn't look anything alike to the "real" Diana Ross, the age didn't match, music neither, and the artist was actually connected to Philippines-based record label Star Music. Electric Light Orchestra is the English 70s band, with the same name co-opted by an autotune-happy rapper. DJ Quik suddenly on Spotify started rapping in Spanish, and wasn't willing to show his face either. This happens a lot on Spotify, Slate argues.

Looking for the present

Is trap metal the future?

Mimi Barks

The Punk Rock MBA YouTuber this week presents trap metal, a new genre combining trap-rap and metal, especially the industrial segment of it. The video-blogger goes from early pioneers like Suicideboys, Bones, Scarlxrd, Ghostemane, and XXXtentacion, and suggests newer trap metal artists like Mugxtsu, Mimi Barks, Sinizster, Gizmo and Sematary.

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