David Bowie was one of the most unique and innovative artists of the 20th century. It wasn’t just about his incredible music, but the man was a true showman who reinvented himself and his look over and over again.
Bowie passed at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer, yet the news was a shock to most people who had no idea he was ill. He had just released a new album and I was just thinking the other day if Bowie had yet another influential turn in his career that would have an impact on music, style and popular culture.
Ten years ago we published our David Bowie Deep Cuts list as part of our ongoing series of looking back on the music of great artists. Check it out and you might be introduced to some great music from Bowie that you haven’t heard before.
His list of hits is long of course, and I wanted to post a great video, but “Rebel, Rebel” is one of my favorite Bowie songs so that seemed appropriate, though the video here just includes one classic Bowie photographed. Bowie was a rebel who will truly be missed.
It’s been five years since Jesse Malin’s last album of original material was released. The time since has seen him tour the world numerous times and reunite with his old band, D Generation, among other things. But finally, the time is here and his new release has been unleashed for us to immerse ourselves in.
“New York Before the War” is an excellent collection of songs that spans a wide range of styles. Taken as a piece, the 13 tracks on this new release are of higher quality than most artists best-of collections. One after another, the tunes come at you in a range of styles. Highlights include “She Don’t Love Me Now,” a song with so much Rolling Stones-like swagger and sway you can imagine Mick singing it, but then you remember that the Stones haven’t recorded anything damn near this good in 30-plus years; “Oh Sheena,” an ode to The Ramones that also has some flourishes that bring to mind “Summerteeth”-era Wilco; and “Turn Up The Mains,” which has a building intensity that feels like it’s going to launch into another sonic stratosphere, but instead teases and tempts your ears with a consistent attack. The first time I heard Jesse road-test “Bar Life” almost two years ago, my jaw dropped. It was not only a gorgeous tune that sounded unlike anything else in his canon, but it also happened to feel like a perfect album closer. As it turns out, it does close “New York Before The War” in beautiful fashion. The first thing I want to do the minute it ends is play the album again from the top.
The biggest difference between Jesse’s previous releases and “New York Before the War” is scope of sound. His debut solo release, “The Fine Art of Self Destruction,” had the feel and isolation of Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” filtered through the less minimal sound of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue.” 2010’s “Love It to Life” showed more of a biting edge and inched slightly closer to the sound of his old band than his solo work in some aspects. Each of his other albums also had a feel unto themselves. “New York Before the War” has all of that and so much more. Be it an overt ode to the Ramones, hints of Cheap Trick and the Mermen, or the simple fact that New York oozes from every pore. With this offering, Jesse has made an album that is both his most diverse and most New York to date. The influences are there and they are many, but more than anything, this album is pure, unadulterated Jesse Malin at his best. Is this his masterpiece? I’m a believer that time decides those things. I’ll tell you this: it sure sounds like a masterpiece, and it’s quite easily the best new release I’ve heard by anyone in quite some time.
Christina Aguilera found herself playing the Wheel of Musical Impressions on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Both of them were pretty impressive with their impressions but Christina stole the show with an epic imitation of Britney Spears singing “This Little Piggy.”
We spoke to Nelly at Bud Light’s House of Whatever in Phoenix, Arizona about his career, the (endless) rise of Taylor Swift, and how he does his best work on the toilet, while some light jazz played in the background.
Here are a few highlights.
On “Country Grammar” and the line, “Get a room in Trump Tower just to hit for three hours/kick the bitch up out the room ’cause she used the word ‘Ours'”:
“It came from real life. It was cool. But you’re talking about lines that were said in 2002. I was a young, thriving Nelly. Hopefully, when you get in this game, you build your own type of fan base and actually have fans that appreciate what you do and grow with you. It’s funny, because it’s a double-edged sword. You hear so many people say, ‘I wish you would do another album like Country Grammar.’ And I say, ‘You were in school when Country Grammar came out, right. You can’t get that feeling back. The reason Country Grammar meant something to you is because you were in school at that time. It was the buddies that were around you, the moment for you. It was your theme music to what you were going through in that life.’ You can’t make that. You don’t think Michael would love to make another Thriller? You think he wasn’t tryin‘? You can’t, because it was that moment. It was music that was unheard at that time. And you can never get all of those elements back again.”
On making new music:
“I don’t chase [past success]; I just make music. Music is creativity, it’s a career. You up, you down, you up, you down… You can’t have a career without an up and down. Nobody is consistently up. Well, probably Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift is probably the only one I see that is like, ‘Yo, she’s just gonna keep going (up), huh? Just gonna keep fuckin’ goin’.”
On when he’s the most creative:
“Songs pop up at the weirdest moments. You can be in a hotel, sittin’ in a room, being in a club, bein’ on the shitter. That’s my office. I can think, I’ve got the phone on the wall, set the laptop up on the dirty clothes hamper; I feel my freest.”
On what motivates him:
“I don’t do that anymore. When people are like, ‘Yo, what do you want to do?’ It’s not about that no more for me. Succeeding is not what drives you. I think what drives you is knowing where you don’t want to be – I know where I don’t want to be. That’s the motivation to keep going. Because as long as I keep going, I’m not gonna be there. Because to say what I want to do, I’ve accomplished so much and I’m steady going, I just don’t know, I just keep it movin’. But I know one thing that never changes; It’s where you don’t wanna be.”
On what makes Nelly, “Nelly”:
“It was everything. When you get counted out so many times, you look for a sense of, ‘Where am I going to channel and put this energy that I have to succeed?’ Some kids take it and take it the wrong way. Some kids work hard, they study, they go to school, they graduate and become something. Some kids do it through sports. But again, being a product of who you are, it can be a fuel. Sometimes, too much fuel can blow you up. But majority of that time, if you take that fuel and use it right, you can go to the moon.”
“You’re not content. If you’re content, you’ve already started the giving up process. This is a game of creativity, being competitive, it’s a ‘dog eat’ and I love it.”
Starting on October 17th, HBO is broadcasting a new mini-series called “Sonic Highways” featuring Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters as they travel around the country recording a new track in various cities. They’ll visit New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Nashville, Austin, Seattle, and Washington D.C. and feature artists like Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton, Buddy Guy, ZZ Top and Joan Jett as they dive into the music scenes of each city. Have just been in Nashville this sounds like a real treat for music buffs. I’m not a huge Foo Fighters fan but I suspect I will be by the end of this series. The trailer above even teases an interview with Grohl talking to President Obama. Put it on your calendar!