It has been eight years since Southern California-based Apex Manor released their last album. Eight years is a long time between albums. In that same span of time, The Beatles wrote and recorded their entire catalog (not to mention making movies and touring). Fleetwood Mac was able to knock out everything from their 1975 self-titled release to their 1982 album TANGO IN THE NIGHT in just under eight years. Popular children’s music band The Wiggles issued nine studio albums, toured the world, and filmed a TV series within their first eight years of their existence. Wait… did I just mention The Wiggles? Oh, dear. Let’s circle back to Apex Manor and the eight-year stretch between albums…
Born Thomas Pentz, Jr., DJ and producer Diplo is a Grammy-winning man-about-town. Not only has he released music under his own name, he’s also a member of Major Lazer, LSD (with Sia and Labrinth), Silk City (with Mark Ronson), and Jack Ü (with producer and DJ Skrillex). He’s also known for his work with M.I.A., Gwen Stefani, Die Antwoord, Britney Spears, Madonna, Shakira, Beyoncé, No Doubt, Justin Bieber, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Trippie Redd, Chris Brown, CL, G-Dragon, Bad Bunny, MØ, Poppy, and Bausa. To say that Diplo is a prolific artist would most certainly be an understatement.
In Celebration of Topic Records’ 80th Anniversary:
An EXCLUSIVE Q&A
(Project Manager with Proper Records Ltd who oversees Topic Records)
STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Topic Records, the world’s oldest independent label, is celebrating their 80th Anniversary in 2019. While the machinations of the music business have changed over the years, has Topic’s core musical focus remained the same?
GLEN JOHNSON: Ostensibly, yes. The emphasis has always been on preserving the voices and songs which may have otherwise gotten lost and to create a space for those that hear those songs to make new recordings of their own. So, there’s an archival element coupled with a curatorial one.
Remember when The All-New Mickey Mouse Club (1989-1994) gave us a new generation of young stars like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling and others? Well, if you weren’t paying attention, the syndicated TV series Kids Incorporated (1983-1992) was introducing to the world to new talent as well. Some of the soon-to-be-stars that made their first national appearances on the show include Stacy Ferguson (AKA Fergie), Martika, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Mario Lopez, Eric Balfour and the subject of this blog entry, Rahsaan Patterson.
THE B.B. KING BLUES BAND
THE SOUL OF THE KING
Blues music has been a crucial part of American history for nearly 150 years. Originally, the Blues genre grew organically from Folk, spirituals, and African work songs. Since the dawn of recorded music, Blues has traveled around the world, inspiring millions of musicians in the process. The musical blueprint for the Blues remains virtually unchanged a century and a half later yet musicians find new ways to interpret it year after year. Much like an amusement park ride, the basic structure itself never changes yet it is experienced differently by each person that rides it. The Blues can be performed by down-trodden acoustic guitar player or a glitzy big band and have the same effect on the listener. The Blues informs almost every other style of music – from Rock ‘n’ Roll to modern Country and Jazz. The Blues is understood and misunderstood in equal measures. The Blues can make you sob but then turn around and drown you in joy. The Blues, in the hands of the right musicians, is magical. And one of the greatest Blues musicians/magicians was – and remains – B.B. King.
Regardless of what the Billboard charts might insinuate, Pop Punk – AKA Punk Pop – was not born in the mid- ‘90s. The roots of the genre first came to prominence in the late ‘70s thanks to bands like Ramones, Buzzcocks, The Dickies, and The Undertones. The blending of the raw power of Punk Rock and soaring, sing-a-long melodies reignited the Indie scene and made Punk more -for lack of a better term – consumer-friendly. Pop Punk was not watered-down Punk aggression – it was just more focused. Bands soon realized that they could get their messages across if they packaged them in tight, melodic musical blasts. Add a little bit of harmony here, a catchy hook there, and, voila, Pop Punk was born. Pop Punk was never about playing it safe – it was about communicating to their audience via raw and urgent Rock ‘n’ Roll and melodic hooks. The movement’s popularity weakened a little bit over the next decade but in the late ‘80s, bands like Descendents brought Pop Punk back to the surface. And then came the ‘90s…