“Diplo and an Orthadox Jew walk into a studio” sounds more like the opening line of an off-color joke than a surpisingly fruitful musical pairing.
While most people were likely introduced to British vocalist Alex Clare through a commercial for Internet Explorer 9 wherein his addictive single “Too Close” captivated unprepared television viewers’ eardrums, they may not have been aware that he actively studies the Talmud, has indeed collaborated with Major Lazer, or that he even used to date the late Amy Winehouse. Now happily married and tight-lipped on the latter, the electro-soul singer sat down with VH1 Tuner this week to candidly discuss the opportunity that saved his career, and the whirlwind that has been his last few months.
“I was stuck in a bit of a career rut,” remarked Clare on the period before radio would touch “Too Close,” a Mike Spencer-produced song that has since charted internationally and hit #7 on Billboard’s Hot 100 domestically. “Without [the IE9 commercial], I definitely wouldn’t be sitting here right now… No one was really listening to my music, and now people are.” It’s been quite the 180. When his debut LP The Lateness Of The Hour dropped in the UK in July of 2011, incorporating electronic elements into soul music was more rare than it is now, but Clare has since surrendered to the fact that, as we approach 2013, “everyone’s doing it.”
After taking five weeks off to observe Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot in Israel, celebrating Hanukkah while on the road is “easy” for the gritty-voiced singer who performed at Irving Plaza on Tuesday night. “Wherever you go, you just light your menorah, sing some songs, eat some donuts – happy days.” But seeing an Israeli flag lifted in the show’s crowd on that fourth day of the Festival of Lights was a first for Clare, who could only really make sense of the incident with a geographical explanation: “I guess it’s New York and there’s a lot of us here.” Despite the venue’s sound being quite a bit off, Clare’s live show showcased his versatile voice well, and he was able to execute a wide variety of covers including Prince’s“When Doves Cry,”Etta James‘ “Damn Your Eyes,” and Gyptian’s “Hold Yuh” – a version of which he was forced to re-write since an actual cover of the dancehall song would be both “inaudible and slightly obscene.”
Look what Snoop Dogg dropped into our Trick-or-Treat bags last night! A first look at his turn as Snoop Lion the reggae star, by way of this oddity of an Eli Roth-directed video for “La La La,” fresh cut off of Snoop’s much ballyhooed about reggae album, Reincarnated. The song is not exactly what we’ve come to expect from the west coast rapper, but produced by Major Lazer (otherwise known as Diplo and Switch, or the producers responsible for much of the newNo Doubt album), it’s a fine jam. This video, though, is a trick, treat and treasure to behold. Read more…
We have eagerly anticipated No Doubt‘s return, first taking comfort in the fact that even if they couldn’t match their Tragic Kingdom game, we would at least have Gwen Stefani back on the scene again. But then we heard “Settle Down,” and were reassured that they still had it. However, it turns out that “Settle Down” was basically just a warm-up for this frenzied and infectious next single.
This morning Ryan Seacrest let loose a second Push and Shove cut, the album’s whiling and genre-shifting Diplo produced title track, featuring Major Lazer and dancehall hero Busy Signal. The song — which we heard snippets of in that early webisode — goes all in, moving between their signature ska-pop and party banger and a soaring chorus and back at a clip so quick it makes the upbeat “Settle Down” sound like a lazy jam by comparison. And though they try on a whole bunch of new sounds and styles in these four minutes, the song manages to avoid cacophony and all the while sounds distinctively like No Doubt. Like Stefani rap-sings, “just when you think it’s over, we be back on another level like we’re doing yoga.” September 25th can’t come soon enough.
Last night they shared the above photo on Twitter, revealing that in addition to the production of Mark “Spike” Stent, they’ve recruited production team (and artists in their own right) Major Lazer, also known as Diplo (center, in plaid) and Switch (second from right, with the Fred Perry polo). As Major Lazer, they’ve produced for Beyonc? (“Run the World (Girls)”) among others, and they have plenty of other credits to their names individually. Who knows what sound the duo will be bringing to the table with No Doubt? One thing’s for sure: they will probably try to record more dancehall MCs for Major Lazer’s sophomore effort, since they’re already in Jamaica?on someone else’s dime, no less. We are very excited to hear No Doubt’s new album, which will, with any luck, come out later this year.
“Girls (Who Run the World),” reportedly the first single from Beyonc?‘s forthcoming album, leaked last night, and one thing’s for sure: Sasha Fierce is definitely not trying to sound like much else on the radio right now.
(For the moment the song is streaming at The Fader, but just a heads up, the stream may not last long.) Read more…