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'.

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.

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.

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.

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 ultimate instrument
May 11, 2021

Instrumental - a tool that identifies future hits

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.

Sounds like teen scissor
May 10, 2021

Kurt Cobain's hair is being auctioned off

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.

Pearl Jam have launched Deep, a digital collection of their official site which allows visitors access to 186 bootlegs and 5,404 tracks spanning from 2000 to 2013. Each gig is accompanied by show descriptions written by members of the band’s Ten Club fan club. Fans will also be able to create gigs via the Custom Setlist Generator with the dream setlist turned into a streamable playlist. Pearl Jam are planning to start European tour in June.

20,000 fans stood shoulder to shoulder for their first star-studded concert in over a year on May 2nd at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. Foo Fighters, Jennifer Lopez, J Balvin, and Eddie Vedder performed for Global Citizen’s Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite The World, at the first large-scale music event for a Covid-compliant audience in the US. It wasn't exactly like before - the show’s attendance was far lower than the 70,000 the L.A. stadium can seat, attendees had to show proof of vaccination, they were masked and alcohol and concessions weren’t available. The goal of the concert was to raise money to send vaccine doses to India, Africa and other places. Rolling Stone is happy to report from it.

Numberify
May 06, 2021

Spotify shows play counts

The desktop version of Spotify now contains play counts for every track on every album available. InsideHook took a chance to find songs with a small number of plays, which deserve to be played much more, like Joni Mitchell's 'The Last Time I Saw Richard' and Metallica's 'The Struggle Within'.

Michael Jackson’s image was worth just $4 million at the time of his death in 2009, a U.S. tax court judge ruled, far below the $161 million valuation sought by the IRS. the AP reports. The Jackson estate, however, filled out a tax return in which it pegged the value of his image at $2,105 - roughly the same, the judge noted, as a “heavily used 20-year-old Honda Civic". Judge Mark Holmes sided with the government on the value of Jackson's music catalog, pegging it at $107 million.

Lego released a streaming-only album 'White Noise' which was made by the Lego pieces being poured out of tubs, sifted through and clicked together. Lego’s “head of creative” Primus Manokaran describes the streaming-only album as “a collection of soundscapes” designed to promote relaxation and mindfulness. Manokaran told Guardian that producing the album was “like composing with 10,000 tiny instruments”.

Boston journalist Larry Katz has digitized his collection of 1,000+ interviews he made in three decades with musicians such as David Bowie, Prince, Bob Marley, Alanis Morissette, Mariah Carey, and, obviously, hundreds of others. Find the amazing collection here.

In Australia, the road to recovery for live music is happening six to nine months ahead of the world, promoters say, according to Rolling Stone. Clubs are pumping in Brisbane, where venue capacities have been entirely lifted. Artists like Courtney Barnett, Keith Urban, Guns N' Roses and others are announcing tours on a daily basis. Festivals have resumed with all-local lineups, venue capacities are slowly lifting, and dancing is now permitted. By late April, Australia recorded 910 deaths due to Covid, with fewer than 30,000 confirmed cases among its population of 25 million. Community transmissions have been close to zero for months. Visitors aren't really welcome yet - a 2-week quarantine in a hotel room is compulsory.

Talib Kweli / Tom Morello

Tom Morello, DIIV, Talib Kweli, and 180 other musicians signed an open letter calling on Spotify to make a public commitment never to utilize, license, sell, or monetize a patent for technology that could monitor and record users’ speech and background noise to help curate and recommend music, Pitchfork reports. “Spotify claims that the technology can detect, among other things, ‘emotional state, gender, age, or accent’ to recommend music” the letter reads, outlining the five major concerns that the coalition has regarding the technology: “emotional manipulation,” discrimination, privacy violations, data security, and the exacerbation of inequality in the music industry.

Bobi Wine, the "ghetto president" of Uganda, is a singer, actor, and, now, a politician, whose music has inspired his nation with dreams of a better future. Wine's political career has turned his music into a crime, and his supporters into Museveni's (Uganda's sitting president) targets. Yet, even in the face of a brutal regime, Bobi Wine's music is still the most dangerous weapon in Uganda - High Snobiety writes presenting the rebel, and talks to him.

Cinephiles Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Matt Sweeney, who recently released a collaborative album 'Superwolves', made a selection of the best music films for Vice. The boys chose 'Gene Vincent: The Rock And Roll Singer' (1970) - "a tough watch, but a revealing study of a rare talent", 'Cisco Pike' (1972) - "music-infused crime film has earned a sizeable cult following", 'Oulaya’s Wedding' (2017)  - "astonishingly familiar feelings and ripping tunes", 'Payday' (1973) - "down and dirty character study of a country star indulging every vice under the sun as he hurtles towards annihilation", 'The Decline Of Western Civilization' (1981) - "a documentary about energy that's so loaded with power that it will never die", and other films.

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