Tag Archive for 'Lyrics Born'

The It’s Time to Play B-Sides Top 20 Albums of 2015

Top 20

We’ve made it through another year of music. 2015 was another year of the music industry trying to figure out the future. Heavy hitters like Taylor Swift and Adele removed their music from online streaming services like Spotify– which might be interpreted as an ego move on both parts. Jay-Z’s Tidal enjoyed a bit of press due to Prince releasing two albums exclusively on it, though I still don’t know anyone who is using it.  Adele’s last-quarter release of her much-anticipated 25 album has just surpassed 5 million copies sold. There is a lot of debate about the significance of this as it applies to the general health of the industry. Ultimately, though, I don’t think you can use this as any kind of barometer– certainly not an indicator of “rebounding.”  One thing is for certain, though, her 50+ date tour in 2016 will be the top grossing.

In other re-warmed news, a reformed Grateful Dead with Trey Anastasio as “Jerry” played some high-grossing shows in LA and Chicago showing that baby boomers and Gen X’ers are willing to shell out lots of money to recapture even a brief glimpse of their youth. The shows seemed like a fitting celebration of 50 years and a kind of closure to the promise of the remainder of the band getting back together. The following “Dead and Friends” tour with John Mayer as “Jerry” has been benefiting from the exposure and in my opinion are an improved version of the Dead. His vocals and guitar work are top-notch and add a real polish to the proceedings.

Looking this list over, it shows that I spent most of 2015 listening to local artists. Iowa has really been stepping up its game for music and we’ve got some of the best music around. There were a lot of notable releases outside of Iowa, but I just didn’t find myself putting any of them on repeat. It says a lot– you don’t have to go far from your back yard to get world-class music.

Looking over other Best of Lists, I see some albums that I listened to and thought were good, but they just didn’t stick with me: The Decemberists – What A Wonderful World, What A Terrible World, Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell, Father John Misty – I Love You Honeybear, Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly, Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color.

Here is the list in no particular order–

Dickie – Self Titled : Dick Prall moved back to Iowa and started a new project with Kristina Priceman crafting a wonderful string-wrapped package of retro-inspired pop rock. Somewhere between the Beatles, Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly sits this collection of autobiographical songs with heart.

Younger – Self Titled : This one from the new Iowa City band Younger was a late discovery for me, but no less brillant. Former members of The Wandering Bears and Emperors Club have put out a Riot Grrl-ish album that people are drawing comparisons to The Breeders and Bikini Kill. To me it sounds more like Pylon and Throwing Muses. In any event, a fantastic record that I’ll be spinning a lot in 2016, I expect.

Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit : Yep. More edgy Riot Grrlish rawk. On almost everyone’s list for 2015.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats – Self Titled : I’ve been a fan of Nathaniel Rateliff ever since I saw him on the Daytrotter Barnstormer shows back in 2010 along with Delta Spirit. I’m a sucker for his well-crafted folk albums to date, but his transformation into an R&B powerhouse and seeing the nearly-universal embrace of it is pretty unexpected. Fantastic record and the return of Stax Records!

Holy White Hounds – Sparkle Sparkle : Des Moines band Holy White Hounds are gaining momentum by word of mouth. These guys make some pretty fantastic rock coupled with a great live show. Kind of 90’s throwback metal/grunge reinvented for the new century.

Phil Cook – Southland Mission : Hiss Golden Messenger sideman, member of Megafaun, producer and all-around great guy Phil Cook releases his first solo album with him singing. Due to a stupid security issue at Eaux Claires Festival this year, I missed his set, though it’s on YouTube. Rootsy, bluesy gospel-influenced boogie rock. I could put this album on every day and it puts the same dumb grin on my face every time.

Tom Jessen – Hunting Season : Former Iowa musician Tom Jessen released his first album in years– and that pent-up potential created what has to be the best snapshot of current American dystopia ever. Pretty damn fantastic portrait of how fucked up things are. LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM.

Charlie Parr – Stumpjumper : Speaking of Phil Cook, he produced the latest album from Minnesota retro blues and folk historian Charlie Parr. He was picked up by Red House Records which is a good home for him. This is the first album he’s done with a full band and the fleshing out of his sound really benefits the proceedings. “Over The Red Cedar” gives me goosebumps every time I play it.

Calexico – Edge of the Sun : Calexico tends to swing back and forth between full-on Latin-influenced albums and albums that lean a little more towards Americana-rock. This one ends up being more the latter. For me, I welcome the changes the band goes through– continually pushing the identity of what Calexico is.

Ryan Adams – 1989 : I did listen to this one a lot as soon as it appeared. It’s a really great album, but it seems like it is just an extension of last years self titled release– which isn’t bad at all. I like it, but I just about didn’t include it on the list because, for me anyway, Ryan Adams is a complete musician and songwriter, so I prefer to have more complete work rather than covers. I suppose some of this feeling is due to my relative unawareness of Taylor Swift’s blockbuster album it’s based on.

Dagmar – Afterlight : I can’t say enough about this Iowa duo. Atmospheric and sublime harmonies with unique counterpoint and rhythm. Jawdroppingly gorgeous album– somewhere between Philip Glass and Sufjan Stevens sits this baroque choral folk.

Pieta Brown – Drifters EP : The “lost” tracks from 2014’s fantastic Paradise Outlaw album. Brown is using this to launch her own “underground” imprint Lustre Records. Includes a remix from Justin Vernon!

The Pines – Pasture: Folk Songs EP : A kind of surprise drop from The Pines this year in the form of an EP of covers from Joe Price, Mance Lipscomb, Iris Dement, Mason Jennings & Greg Brown. No new ground broken here, but is a tribute to the songs that The Pines have included in their sets over the years.

Jim Viner’s Incredible B3 Band – COMANGO! : Jim Viner– Iowa drummer extrordinaire– assembled a collection of musician friends to create a retro B3-driven album with influences from The Meters and Booker T and the MGs. A really fun album that recalls the pre-Diplomette-vocals days of The Diplomats of Solid Sound. Destined to be part of the soundtrack to a cable TV show near you!

Kamasi Washington – The Epic – If I have any complaint about this sprawling masterpiece of Jazz, it’s that it can’t reasonably be digested in one sitting. But, if you’re willing to dedicate the time, this album is impressive in its diversity. I consider myself a fan of Jazz, but I don’t listen to much contemporary Jazz as I haven’t found much that really keeps my attention. I hope this signals a new generation of jazz artists who are willing to explore and innovate.

Thundercat – The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam – Thundercat works with Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washington, and all three worked on the Kendrick Lamar album How To Pimp A Butterfly — noted for its adventuresome approach to the music. His short album (16 minutes, but Flying Lotus said it’s an album, not an EP) from this year featured him front-and-center singing and leading most of the music with his jazz and funk bass riffs.

Aero Flynn – Self Titled – Justin Vernon raves about Josh Scott as a songwriter. After a lot of years not performing music, he comes back with Aero Flynn. Atmospheric and swirling it sounds like a distant cousin of Radiohead when they made more straightforward songs (OK Computer, maybe).

Beth Bombara – Self Titled – Beth is back with her most polished and accomplished record to date. She continues her shuffling, pining folk and country. Dusty and awesome.

Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free : Brilliant record– literary and scenic songwriting. Isbell continues to impress with one of the great records from this year– almost unanimously agreed.

Lyrics Born – Real People – Lyric Born has never been shy to work with live band. He did one tour with a full band behind him (documented on the Overnite Encore Live album), he contributed vocals to the 2007 Galactic album From the Corner to the Block. His new album Real People includes members of Galactic as well as a who’s who of New Orleans musicians including Ivan Neville, Corey Henry, Trombone Shorty, the Revivalists’ David Shaw and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Typically upbeat and tongue in cheek the album is a funk overload. Great record– not sure why more people aren’t calling it out (see what I did there?).

New Single “You Know I’ll Always Love You” From Karyn Paige Released Today

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Bay Area Pop Funk Chanteuse Karyn Paige. Today, I’m happy to announce that she’s dropping a new single to tide us over until she finishes her full length album.

Consistent with her first release, The KP EP (I reviewed here), her latest single “You Know I’ll Always Love You” pays tribute to the Pop R&B heyday of the 80’s with swelling and buzzy synthesizers. Ms. Paige transforms from the sexy fuming diva sitting on the bed in “Stay Away Tonight” to a sunny girl in love that reminds me of Paula Abdul’s great singles.

The smartly spare arrangements, and loping percussion draws us very close to Karyn’s lovely soprano with an adopted affected stuffiness that recalls 1920’s and 30’s jazz singers. Factor in the slightly-kitschy talk box harmony vocal effects and you have one perfect pop song.

I asked Karyn why she chose to release this single ahead of the full length album she’s working on.

“The motivation for releasing the song  ahead of the full LP was simple: Fans who have seen us play it live are constantly asking when we are going to put it out. People are really drawn to it, from music heads to moms. I wanted to give my fans something new to enjoy until the LP comes out. It was written by my co-producer and keyboard player Matt Berkeley, and I’ve always been honored to sing it.”

Listen for yourself:

Then buy it on iTunes!

While you’re there, check out The KP EP, too.

Click Here to visit the Karyn Paige official website where she has some great videos to check out, too.

Click Here to visit the Karyn Paige Facebook Fanpage

(Free Download) Lyrics Born As U Were Cover Art Revealed – “Lies X 3” Single Free Download

It was March of 2009 when Lyrics Born announced the follow up to the fantastic genre-bending Everywhere At Once. The album titled As U Were has had a sliding release window since then due to LB’s insistent and unrelenting demands for perfection. LB has cushioned the blow a bit by providing a steady run of leaked tracks and free downloads which has given us a pretty good picture of what the album will be like.

In March, 2009 we were given the retro braggadocio track “Funky Hit Records” with it’s accompanying video. The next track to surface was the reunion of Latyrx (Lateef + Lyrics Born) in the bobbing new-waveish “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart” with its video produced by Raphael LaMotta of ApSci. In November we were delivered the crazy can’t-catch-a-breath windstorm of “Oh Baby” that you have to revisit repeatedly Where’s-Waldo-style to find all the funny turns of phrase that LB is known for.

Today the LB camp announced that As You Were will be released on October 26, 2010 and offered up the cover art to prove it! The cover was designed by Brent Rollins who also did Later that Day and Everywhere at Once. As if that wasn’t enough, we are also given another track in the pumping finger-jab-in-the-chest spurned lover vent of “Lies X3.” “If something just ain’t right, it’s just plain wrong… You’ve been lying to me.”

As U Were also marks the move to Decon who has an established multimedia track record working deals in licensing and other creative new avenues for music. Aside from the high-visibility Diet Coke commercial a few years ago and songs showing up on the occasional TV show, I always felt that LB’s music was bubbling-under a bit. I hope that the Decon partnership will finally kick the lid off that boiling pot.

One of the things I love about Lyrics Born is that he isn’t afraid to step out of the straight rap role, and in “Lies X3” he keeps a rhythmic pace in the lyrics, but he sings it all the way through. He’s expressed before that he doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into a predictable role and in the four tracks leaked from As U Were thus far, it is clear that Lyrics Born is again leaving a predictably worn MC path and stomping into the crunchy underbrush of his own direction.

Click Here to download the new track “Lies X3”

Click Here to download “Funky Hit Records.”

Click Here to download “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart”

Click Here to download “Oh Baby”

Click Here to visit Lyrics Born’s website

Click Here to visit Lyrics Born’s Facebook Fanpage

Click Here to follow Lyrics Born on Twitter.

(Free Download) Karyn Paige – “Want To” from Hola Mademoiselle

When it comes to HipHop I tend to favor the musical pastiche typically purveyed by the Bay Area. Some of this is because I really cut my HipHop teeth on the seminal Bay Area label artists on Solesides (later Quannum) including Lateef, Lyrics Born, DJ Shadow, Blackalicious. In some respects California HipHop is considered a second generation from the early New York days of HipHop and rap, but it might be this distance that makes California HipHop more of a converged sound with funk. Of course these days, Left- and Right-coast isn’t so much a discernible distinction. These days there are still stylistic differences between, say Jay-Z and Snoop but beyond that there has been a lot of cross-pollination so it is difficult to make the same comment about today’s HipHop and rap.

Still, the last releases from Lyrics Born, The Gift of Gab, Blackalicious and DJ Shadow really show a very wide view of their art and I think shows them pushing the boundaries of what defines HipHop.

It’s this cultural and musical diversity in the Bay Area that fosters artists like singer Karyn Paige who, after several years of working and performing with various bands and musicians including the Jazz Mafia collective as well as Lyrics Born (who also worked with the Jazz Mafia Orchestra “Brass Bows and Beats) and Chali 2na (of Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli), is ready to release her first solo record titled Hola Mademoiselle which will come out fall of this year. Prior to that she will release a digital EP this summer titled The KP EP.

The releases promise to be a “diverse blend of pop, R&B, New Wave, Soul and Funk” and this is certainly delivered in the first single being offered as a free download titled “Want To.” “Want To” was co-writted and produced by Joe Bagale and Matt Berkeley of the Jazz Mafia with Karyn and to me really recalls the purple funk heyday during Prince‘s reign in Minneapolis– the funky analog synths and beats that were the signature of Mr. Rogers Nelson and the production duo of Jam and Lewis. It is a super-catchy track  and has already made it to two of my car mp3 mixes! I can’t wait to hear the EP and album when they come out!

Do yourself a favor and grab this mp3.

Click Here to listen to “Want To” by Karyn Paige from her upcoming release Hola Mademoiselle.

Click Here to visit Karyn Paige’s website and sign up for her mailing list

Click Here to visit Karyn Paige’s Facebook Fanpage

Click Here to visit Karyn Paige’s MySpace Page

Free Download: “Definition of a Star” by DJ D-Sharp with Kev Choice and Tony Vic

Admittedly, I tend to favor L.A. and Bay Area Hip Hop which might not be surprising when you consider that my music website history starts with Solesides/Quannum labels. The crews out there tend to be pretty closely-knit, so you get a lot of really cool side projects and collaborations.

This week DJ D-Sharp has made his new single “Definition of a Star” available for FREE. The woodblock and strings-stabbing head-bobber features D-Sharp in a classic boasting MC role in addition to production. Kev Choice and Tony Vic have his back with their vocals. “I AM… The definition of a star,” D-Sharp announces.

I first became aware of D-Sharp when he came to Iowa City as Lyrics Born’s DJ last year. The fact of the matter is that D-Sharp has been around the Quannum camp since he was introduced by his friend Lateef Dumont– aka Lateef the Truth Speaker. Since then he has toured and worked with most of the acts on the label including Blackalicious and The Lifesavas in addition to LB and Lateef. His bio also includes a fairly extensive resume of working with A-List hip hop acts like Black Eyed Peas, Jurassic 5, and Lauren Hill.

The single comes down as one zip file with two versions of the single– the clean and dirty versions as well as the acapellas (in case you want to take on remixing!).

Click Here to download “Definition of a Star”

Click Here to visit DJ D-Sharp’s Website.

Click Here to visit DJ D-Sharp’s MySpace Page

Free Download: “Certain Special Way” from Love and Understanding by Joyo Velarde; drops 2/16

Wow. At long last it appears that we are within reach of the hip hop Siren of the Bay Joyo Velarde’s first full-length! Titled Love and Understanding, it will release on Tuesday 2/16 on Quannum Projects.

Joyo’s history with Quannum Records starts before Quannum when DJ Shadow, The Gift of Gab, Chief Xcel and Lyrics Born formed Solesides Records where she provided her background vocals to early releases by Lyrics Born, Blackalicious and Lateef. When the crew disbanded Solesides in 1999 and re-emerged as the Quannum Collective we got to hear Joyo as a lead singer on the track “People Like Me” which was part of the maiden release Spectrum which featured all of the original Solesides Crew. This was quickly followed up by a single of the pretty and airy Caribbean feel of “Sweet Angels.”

The promise of a full album for Joyo existed for nearly a decade– which isn’t to say she wasn’t busy recording providing her backing vocals for countless other releases and providing a constant presence with Lyrics Born on record and on tour. In retrospect it really seems like the four releases from Lyrics Born starting with the 2003 blockbuster Later That Day, 2005’s Same Sh*#%t Different Day, Overnite Encore live album, and 2008’s Everywhere At Once and the constant touring requirements put a voluntary hold on the recording of the album. Add to that the fact that Joyo and LB got married and had a baby in the meantime and one can see how this might take a back seat!

Thankfully, she was in the studio working on this album almost the entire time– so we were given a taste of what was to come with a couple of releases– The Hey Love! Mixtape in September 2008 included “Build This World,” and “Take You Home”, and her EP which was released last April included “Build This World,” “The Way We Are,”  and “Take You Home.”

In addition to the obvious participation from Lyrics Born, who is the Executive Producer for Love and Understanding, additional help was provided by Jake One, Asa Taccone, RJD2, Tommy Guerrero, Headnodic of the Crown City Rockers and Jumbo the Garbageman from The Lifesavas.

It will be interesting to see if Joyo tours for this. Hubby Lyrics Born’s next album As U Were is damn near completion and should drop any day assumedly. A tour for LB with Joyo opening would be really great, I think.

Tracklisting for Love and Understanding:

  1. Mama’s Got a Brand New Swag’ (So Exquisite) feat. Lyrics Born
  2. Build This World
  3. Certain Special Way
  4. Strong Possibility feat. Lyrics Born
  5. Ticket To Love
  6. With Feeling
  7. The Way We Are
  8. You Got Me (In the Mood)
  9. Lower Deck
  10. Feels Right
  11. Take You Home
  12. On and On

Click Here to download “Certain Special Way” from Love and Understanding due to drop 2/16/10.

Free Download: “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart” by Lyrics Born w/Lateef!

Lyrics Born released another new free download from the upcoming As U Were— a reunion of sorts with Lateef the Truth Speaker called “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart.” The track is an interesting sort of 80’s-inspired head bobber featuring the distinctive rapping and vocals from LB and Lateef. I liked the first track “leaked” “Funky Hit Records,” but this track has summer jam written all over it.

The first track off of As U Were offered as a free download was “Funky Hit Records” back in March. That song got a video, and so does this one, and it’s directed by Raphael LaMotta from ApSci who incidentally have a new album out as well.

The video and MP3 were shared via Urb this morning. I’ve listened to the track about a dozen times already!

Lyrics Born – “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart” feat. Lateef The Truthspeaker. from World’s Fair on Vimeo.

Click Here to download “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart” featuring Lateef the Truthspeaker.

There is also another remix contest– this one for “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart!”

Joyo Velarde Moves Center Stage With 5-Song EP

If you’ve been following Lyrics Born’s over 16-year career, you are familiar with the heavenly vocal counterpoint of Joyo Velarde. Joyo’s recorded career with Lyrics Born started with her “Moo baby” vocal hook on his 1997 landmark release of “Balcony Beach” which would eventually be released on the Latyrx album.

It’s been my opinion that the increasing popularity of Lyrics Born is his unwillingness to be pigeonholed into any particular music style and his tendency for very musical releases. I can appreciate straight beats-and-rhymes hip-hop, but I like my hip-hop tempered with some melody, and certainly Joyo’s presence on his recordings are part of that.

The promise of Joyo’s first solo record has existed since she released her “Sweet Angels” single in 2002 on the then-newly-formed Quannum Records. Which isn’t to say that she hasn’t been busy– since that time she has provided her voice to many recordings– mostly related to the Quannum collective like the last couple Blackalicious records, Lyrics Born, Latyrx, The Mighty Underdogs, as well as the impressively extensive touring that Lyrics Born has been maintaining since his first album Later That Day. Joyo’s album Love and Understanding was originally supposed to be released last fall and had the very cool Hey Love! mix as its calling card, which included tracks from the upcoming release.

Now the release date is slated for this November, and on May 26th, a self-titled 5-song EP will be released digitally (no physical media, presumably). The EP includes three tracks that were included in the Hey Love! mix: “Build This World,” “Take You Home,” and the Bobby Digital-produced bonus track “I Need You Boy.”

The songs on the EP are a great slice of R&B and Soul. If you are looking for the down-home funk that Lyrics Born brings, you’ll need to look elsewhere. But, the EP isn’t without its funky moments, the track shared all over is “Take You Home” which is pretty much my favorite track on the EP is a summery dance-funk track that should help build the interest in the album.

Tracklisting:
1. Build This World
2. The Way We Are
3. Feels Right
4. Take You Home
5. I Need You Boy (bonus)

Click Here to download “Take You Home” from Joyo Velarde EP.

Click Here to visit Joyo’s MySpace Page

Here is the video for “Take You Home”:

Upcoming Show: Lyrics Born @ The Picador in Iowa City – 4/15/09!

Lyrics Born

Well, it looks like I don’t have to drive to Minneapolis on April 17th, as Lyrics Born will be stopping by Iowa City on his way from Madison to Minneapolis!

Lyrics Born along with Joyo Velarde and DJ D-Sharp will be playing the Picador in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 15th. A Wednesday night show will be a little rough for work the next day, and there isn’t much for seating at the Picador so it will be a standing night. Doors are at 9PM according to the Picador site and Ticketweb, and they are a very reasonable $15. Other acts to be announced.

Click Here to visit Lyrics Born’s Website

Click Here to visit the Picador website

Click Here to order tickets from TicketWeb

Don’t forget to download LB’s new song “Funky Hit Records” from his forthcoming album As U Were.

Free Download: New Lyrics Born! “Funky Hit Records” Upcoming Shows

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Lyrics Born released his last album Everywhere At Once— in fact it was released just under a year ago! (4/22/08) Not one to rest on his laurels when there is inspiration– LB has been spending time in the studio working on the release of his next album to be titled As U Were to drop this fall.

To help spread the buzz, LB has made available for FREE the old school stylee track “Funky Hit Records.”  “Funky Hit Records” is a tribute to classic 80’s style hip hop– a different direction than the production of his last two albums using only beats and scratches to propel the track from Trackademicks. A fun track with trademark tongue-in-cheek bravado from the man LB. The song has a video produced by Justin– the guy who handles all of the on-line activity for the Lyrics Born camp including the LBTV videos.

In other news, Lyrics Born is making a quick jump to the Midwest in April with Joyo Velarde and DJ D-Sharp. They’ll be at The Majestic in Madison, WI on April 14th, and Trocadero’s in Minneapolis on Friday, April 17th! I’ll be at the Minneapolis show, of course!

Apr 8 2009 9:00P
The Nightlight Lounge – Bellingham, WA Bellingham, Washington
Apr 10 2009 8:00P
Wonder Ballroom – Portland, OR Portland, Oregon
Apr 11 2009 8:00P
McDonald Theatre – Eugene, OR w/ The Roots Eugene, Oregon
Apr 14 2009 9:00P
Majestic Theatre Madison, Wisconsin
Apr 17 2009 8:00P
Trocadero’s – Minneapolis, MN Minneapolis, Minnesota
Apr 18 2009 8:00P
Palace of Fine Arts – San Francisco, CA – Adam Theis with special guest Lyrics Born San Francisco,

Click Here to download “Funky Hit Records” from the forthcoming As U Were.
Click Here to visit Lyrics Born’s website
Click Here to visit the LBTV YouTube Channel with the video for “Funky Hit Records” as well as a bunch of other videos.

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