STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: STONECHILD
is just about to be released. How are you feeling about the album and the
reaction you’ve had to it so far?
JESCA HOOP: I feel very connected to the songs on
STONECHILD. I feel that I grew as a writer through this process and the
songs are communicating from a clarified place. I feel that the songs were
served and protected by John Parish
in his approach to producing the album. He kept the arrangements simple.
Outside of my trusted comrades in art, I am honestly hesitant to pay attention
to the response.
The Blues genre may have spent
the last century travelling around the world, but it has remained America’s
music. Born from the crust of the earth, the Blues came to life when it was
introduced to the sweat of humanity and the darkness buried deep in the hearts
of America’s downtrodden. While Blues Music had been around for decades, Robert
Johnson’s deal with the Devil helped to propel the genre forward. In the 80
years since that deal went down at the Crossroads, Blues has remained the music
of the people. It is also the foundation of practically every genre that has
come since – from Folk to Country to Jazz to Rock. The Blues is part of us and
we are part of the Blues.
Since the early
‘60s when The Beatles kicked open the doors, there’s
been a constant flow of bands making their way from the UK, Scotland and
Ireland to America. Every 10 years or so, there will be chatter and hype about
a ‘new British Invasion’, but music fans are well-aware that great music has
been landing on these shores for decades, and there doesn’t seem to be any
signs of it stopping. For every band that achieves enormous commercial success
(Beatles, The Clash, Depeche Mode, Blur, Oasis), there are
dozens of other bands with that are just as worthy of your attention and hard-earned
dollars. One of those bands is Ireland’s very own Two Door Cinema Club.
Up through the ‘80s, the term ‘Pop
Music’ was not a derogatory term. Technically, it is shorthand for ‘Popular
Music’ and didn’t refer to one particular genre. , Pop Music could refer to a
Rock band that played songs with substance and melody. The Beatles are a perfect example of what one used to refer to as
Pop Music makers. That term could also be applied to the teen idols and the one
hit wonders like Frankie Avalon, Edison
Lighthouse, and other artists known for a catchy chorus we all remember
decades later. None of those artists sounded alike but they easily fell into
the Pop Music category. In more recent times, Pop Music has been used to define
the current state of the Top 40 – manufactured, paint-by-numbers music written
by committee and enhanced by Auto-Tune. Well, I’m here to take the term ‘Pop Music’
back and apply it to artists that best exemplify what Pop Music was, is, and
shall always be.
STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Your 2018 album NO GOOD DEED is just
about to be released. How are you feeling about the way the album turned out
and the reaction to it so far?
MINDI ABAIR: This album is deep to me. It feels like the band has
gelled … we complete each other’s sentences musically and play together so
effortlessly at this point. We joined forces as Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers at the beginning of
2015, but I had played with Randy Jacobs
for 20 years before that, and Rodney Lee
has been in my band for 17 years. Third
Richardson is from my hometown. I hear the camaraderie and the friendship
and the sheer abandon we have playing together, and I love it. We chose songs
we loved, whether we wrote them or someone else did, and we played them like
only we would.
Norway isn’t just the hotbed
of Black Metal, you know. While that genre has kept a handful of Norwegian
musicians gainfully employed, the country has also given us some artists who
remain popular throughout the rest of the world. Mentioning Classical composer Edvard Grieg is a given, but many other
influential artists hail from Norway including a-Ha, Jan Garbarek, Royksopp, Terje Rypdal, Jaga Jazzist, production
team Stargate, and Anni-Frid ‘Frida’ Lyngstad, one of the
two A’s in ABBA. With each passing
year, Norwegian artists make their presence known outside their homeland and Aurora Laura Aksnes, who releases music
under the name Aurora, is now making
waves as she dances on the cup of international stardom.
THE LONG REVIEW:
Fifty-three years after he
stepped into the limelight with the release of The Monkees’ debut single in August of 1966, Michael Nesmith remains a musical enigma. The story of The Monkees
has been told so many times – perhaps TOO many times – so I’ll respectfully skip
over most of the details. One thing I will mention is how Nesmith seemed
slightly out of step with the Pop charts yet completely in step and confident
of his own musical vision. While Micky
Dolenz and Davy Jones handled
the bulk of the lead vocals for The Monkees’ glorious hits, Nesmith added a
sophisticated depth to the album tracks he wrote and/or produced. Although the
most naturally gifted as a songwriter in the band, his lead vocals were not
featured on a Monkees A-side until 1969, the year he graced the topside of two
singles in a row!