Southern soul rockers Alabama Shakes stopped by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night to play the slow burning “Be Mine” off of their debut LP Boys & Girls. Ahead of their performance, Fallon warned that, “If you don’t know these guys yet, you’re gonna fall in love.” And, oh boy, he was right. You might need to hold on for this one.
At first, the song oozes out of the awesome Brittany Howard, the guitar riff following leisurely behind. “I’ll tell you why I took a shine to you,” she intones. But then, at about three minutes something catches, sparking the powerhouse within Howard. The band starts banging, and wailing “be my baby” again and again, she takes us home. Phewf! Jimmy was right.
Onward with his release week blitz, Justin Bieber stopped by David Letterman last night to show off his new “Believe” tattoo and to perform “Boyfriend.” Bieber and Letterman have good rapport. Letterman showed concern for Biebs’ burgeoning man. “Honestly,” he asks Bieber while trying to rub off the ”How does that help the way you look?” To which Bieber mumbled antogonistically, ”grandpa…”
As for his performans, Justin still seems to be lip-synching the hook and chorus. Has his vocal range changed too much to hit those notes? He is enthusastic with his whisper-rapping and slick dancing. Backed by a full band and a troupe of dancers, this was definitely more amped-up and swagged-out than performances past. Which was good because, unlike most of his appearances this pastweek, there wasn’t an audience of teary girls to bring the energy.
Michael Kiwanuka swung by the Late Show with David Letterman last night to share with the late night audience the indelible talent that we were so lucky to have experienced live last week. Armed with an acoustic guitar and a soft-playing backing band, the British singer performed the doleful “I’m Getting Ready.” With a voice soft and soulful beyond its 24-years, watching this made us wish that Kiwanuka would sing us to sleep everynight.
And we suspect we are not alone in that longing. For one, John Mayer – surely a man in the singing song/writing business worth wooing – was impressed. Or, rather, he was “dumbfounded.” “What a voice. What a song. What a vibe. What a soul. What a message,” he wrote breathlessly (or as breathlessly as one can write) on his Tumblr, thusly deeming Kiwanuka “a revelation.” Who are we to disagree?
Brooklyn-based indie rockers Dirty Projectors dropped by Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night to play the lead single “Gun Has No Trigger” off the forthcoming Swing Lo Magellan, which is out July 10 on Domino. As Fallon points out, this was their first live appearance in more than a year; and moreover, it was for many a first taste of Dirty Projectors sans wily vocalist Angel Deradoorian, who is on hiatus from the band. No fear, though! A shaggy looking David Longstreth took reign over a pared down backing band (drums, bass) and a gaggle cooing back-up vocalists, leading a performance of the new song so sharp with focus that it penetrated the airwaves and had us at home completely gripped. Stillness of course being their move, the song builds through soft, harmonizing ”oohs,” but never triggers. And for that, it’s all the more powerful. Read more…
Fiona Apple dropped by Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night to talk with Fallon and to perform “Anything We Want” from her new album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, which is out today. Afterwards, she paid tribute to Paul McCartney, who turned 70 yesterday, with a riled-up cover of the Wings’ “Let Me Roll It.”
The appearance marked her first television appearance in six years, and was also a surprisingly not-awkward reunion with Fallon, who had opened the night of her infamous Roseland Ballroom breakdown. “That’s part of the reason I thought it would be cool to do this show,” she tells him. “I’d finally have something to talk about.” Fallon tells her that, “I was worried about you, pal.” To which she tells him, ”I was worried about me, pal, too.”
Before performing “Anything We Want,” probably as romantic a song as we’ve heard from her, Apple explained that, “There’s somebody that thinks the song I’m about to sing is about them.” Then, holding up a billiard ball, she corrects: “If you didn’t give me this, I am not thinking about you.”
The screaming (and crying) fans who spent days camped out in Rockefeller Center were well rewarded this morning when Justin Bieber showed up on the Today Show stage to preform a new favorite, an old favorite, and a soon-to-be favorite. The audience loved it all.
Backed by a swarm of dancers and wearing a baseball tee, a hooded-vest (Bieber staple), and a nice looking pair of black and white high tops, Biebs hit the stage with his current single “Boyfriend.” Like he did at the BET Awards, it looks like he relied pretty heavily on the backing track for some of song’s the harder-to-hit notes. No bother, though, the Bielibing audience was thrilled enough to have their boyfriend there, and for a lucky few in the front row, within arm’s reach.
California-based buzz band Best Coast earned across-the-board raves for their lo-fi debut album Crazy For You, which was released back in 2010. This week, the band’s sophomore LP, The Only Place, was released. This time around, the band traded the fuzzy, surf rock vibe present on their first record for a cleaner, more aurally immersive sound, courtesy of super producer extraordinaire Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, Kanye West). While it remains to be seen which version of Best Coast fans will remember more fondly, the band’s new single, “The Only Place,” is undeniably one of this summer’s sunshineiest melodies.
Lead singer/rhythm guitarist Bethany Cosentino and lead guitarist Bobb Bruno swung by the Ed Sullivan Studios earlier this week to perform their new single on The Late Show With David Letterman, and they turned in a cool, confident performance of this ode to the joys of the great state of California. “‘The Only Place’ is supposed to mean my bedroom, my home, Los Angeles, California,” Bethany told us when we caught up with her at SXSW in March. “It’s the place where I feel the most comfortable and confident. I wanted to make a record that reflected that this place is my safe place, and all these songs that are written about more darker, kind of lonely feelings, those all go away as I get back to this only place.” Well, after finally hearing the whole record, we can attest that the current of loneliness runs through it loud and clear. In this regard, the title track stands in complete contrast to the rest of the album in that it positively shimmers, both live and on wax, not unlike the sunshine bouncing off a tasty Pacific Ocean wave.
“Got no drink in my hand but I’m wasted/Getting drunk on the thought of you naked,” Usher declares early on his newest club banger, “Scream.” This energetic track seems poised to join the likes of Usher’s previous smash singles like “Yeah!” and “OMG” as huge summer radio hits, while his slow-burning, Diplo-collab “Climax” —which has been out for a few months now— is currently sitting at #1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Is this going to be the Summer of Usher? We have yet to hit Memorial Day, but at this point, it sure looks like it. Read more…
No one likes Monday mornings. From Bob Geldof and his Boomtown Rats to Susannah Hoffs and her Bangles, more than a few musicians have made fortunes off of songs written about the universally acknowledged worst day of the week. Last night’s episode of The Simpsons began with Bart Simpson‘s alarm clock going off at 7 a.m., leading him to sigh and say “Ehhhh Monday, here we go again.”
What happened next, though, was an incredible example of how visuals and music can come together to make magic. Set to the strains of Hot Chip‘s wistful “And I Was A Boy From School,” off their 2006 LP The Warning (and the #29 song of the last decade according to Pitchfork), Bart is shown going through the motions of yet another in a seemingly endless (and endlessly repetitive) week at school, soaked in a melancholic haze: The ritualistic humiliation he’s forced to endure includes moments of him getting bullied by Nelson, getting spilled on by Milhouse, and getting bored on the bus. Of course, things would soon go on to change for him in the episode entitled “A Supposedly Fun Thing Bart Will Never Do Again” (h/t to David Foster Wallace, natch), but the 66 seconds that this scene takes to play out are 66 of the best seconds that we’ve seen on television so far this year.
Well, as some slightly pessimistic fellow once pointed out, all good things must come to an end. After a stellar five-week run on Dancing With The Stars, VH1 BFF Gavin DeGraw and his dance partner Karina Smirnoff got sent home on last night’s Dancing With The Stars elimination episode. Gavin and Karina’s samba routine on Tuesday night’s episode was not well-received by the judges, but the two made a valiant effort to win the audience and the judges over last night by performing the Cha Cha during the Dance Duel portion of the evening, which saw them squaring off against Urkel and Kym Johnson. Unfortunately for Gavin and Karina, the judges chose in favor of Urkel, sending Gavin packing. It was a great run for Gavin, and with a slew of concert dates supporting his new album Sweeter on the docket, we’re pretty sure he’ll get over this temporary disappointment in no time.
It wasn’t all sad news on DWTS last night, though. Train, whose new album California 37 is in stores now, performed their new hit single “Drive By” on the show last night. The video for “Drive By” is currently #2 on the VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown, so maybe this will give the song the boost it needs to top Katy Perry on the charts. Watch Train perform “Drive By” below, and be sure to tune-in to VH1 this Saturday morning at 9 a.m. to see where Train places this week!