’12 Songs’ by Dean Friedman (Album)

September 19, 2017 in Music Reviews

Dean Friedman

Dean Friedman: plenty of fuel left in the tank

More than 40 years since the release of his debut album, this American singer-songwriter is still serving up the goods

Dean Friedman '12 Songs' album coverVeteran New Jersey-born songwriter, Dean Friedman has been on a solid run of late. His last two albums, 2010’s Submarine Races and 2014’s Words & Music showed that he got plenty of fuel left in the tank. Up next is 12 Songs, his eighth studio album and a showcase for his consummate writing talent.

Listening to Friedman is often like entering a bar and noticing a piano player in the corner. Try as you might to ignore them, you can’t help but lend an ear and before long you’ve entered their world – though in Friedman’s case it’s quite an eclectic world. Your Pretty Face and The Hummingbird Effect might be classic piano tracks but Time Flies is a spacey sci-fi trip, The Kite Song comes with added blasts of jazz brass and Then You has the essence of a big rock number. There’s a feeling of spontaneity to 12 Songs, as if Friedman has been guided by the muse to wherever it wished him to follow.

There is one constant though and that is the scattergun vocal delivery and storytelling approach to lyric writing. This peaks on The Ducks Of St Stephen’s Green, a song about the 1916 Easter Uprising in Ireland and some feathered friends caught up in the fighting. It’s a clever twist sung over a simple guitar backing and it’s songs like this which are the reason we’d be willing to step back into Dean’s Bar any time.

Verdict: A songwriter who remains interesting

Duncan Haskell

New My Bloody Valentine album scheduled for 2017?

September 19, 2017 in News


MBV could be set to release just their second album since 1991s’ “Loveless”

It’s been reported that band frontman Kevin Shields is currently working on material for a new My Bloody Valentine album

They made their fans wait 23 years for their third LP. Now, though, My Bloody Valentine might be about to gift them with a fourth, just half a decade after releasing 2013s’ critically acclaimed MBV.

The news came in a profile of band frontman Kevin Shields on Norður og Niður’s website, prior to his appearance at the festival. The profile states that Shields is currently: “working on material for a new My Bloody Valentine album to be released in 2018.”

If that wasn’t enough to keep MBV’s fans happy, Shields is also working on analog vinyl remasters of the band’s cult 1991 LP Loveless and their 1988 debut Isn’t Anything.

UK & US Songwriting Charts (8 – 16 Sep 2017)

September 18, 2017 in News

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift: regains her songwriting throne. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/David Shankbone

Assisted by Royalty Exchange, we recognise the most successful songwriters behind the biggest hits on both sides of the Atlantic

It’s no secret that Taylor Swift withdrew from streaming services prior to the release of her fifth album, 1989, accusing these services of undervaluing the art of the album. However, a new stance has since been taken by the songwriter, her entire catalog recently returned to Spotify and other such services in advance of the long-awaited reputation.

In the months since this return, Taylor’s back catalog has seen an incredible leap in the charts, streaming having also contributed to the success of her two newest singles, Look What You Made Me Do and …Ready For It? In fact, Look broke the female weekly streaming record and ended the 16-week No 1 streak of Despacito.

Also new to the chart this week is Justin Tranter of Semi Precious Weapons. Hailed as the next go-to pop songwriter, he joins the US Songwriting Chart as a co-writer with Imagine Dragons and Justin Bieber, but it’s Halsey’s new Bad At Love which cemented his position. While an experienced writer herself, pop songwriters like Halsey have come to rely on those like Tranter to better express the vulnerability inherent in music.

US Songwriting Chart (16 September 2017)

1 JAHSEH ONFROY Roll In Peace – Kodak Black (ft. XXXTENTACION)
Everybody Dies In Their Nightmares – XXXTENTACION
Jocelyn Flores – XXXTENTACION
F**k Love – XXXTENTACION (ft. Trippie Redd)
2 MICHAEL WILLIAMS II Unforgettable – French Montana (ft. Swae Lee)
Perplexing Pegasus – French Montana (ft. Swae Lee)
DNA – Kendrick Lamar
Humble – Kendrick Lamar
Rake It Up – Yo Gotti (ft. Nicki Minaj)
3 BELCALIS ALMANZAR Bodak Yellow (Money Moves) – Cardi B
4 SHAYAA ABRAHAM-JOSEPH Bank Account – 21 Savage
5 SYMERE WOODS Dark Queen – Lil Uzi Vert
Sauce It Up – Lil Uzi Vert
444+222 – Lil Uzi Vert
The Way Life Goes – Lil Uzi Vert
Two – Lil Uzi Vert
Neon Guts – Lil Uzi Vert (ft. Pharrell Williams)
6 KHALID ROBINSON Location – Khalid
1-800-273-8255 – Logic (ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid)
Silence – Marshmello (ft. Khalid)
7 TAY-K The Race – Tay-K
8 KENDRICK LAMAR Humble – Kendrick Lamar
Loyalty – Kendrick Lamar (ft. Rihanna)
9 CHARLIE PUTH & JACOB KASHER Attention – Charlie Puth
10 TAYLOR SWIFT …Ready For It? – Taylor Swift
Look What You Made Me Do – Taylor Swift
11 SWAE LEE & FRENCH MONTANA Unforgettable – French Montana (ft. Swae Lee)
12 QUAVIOUS MARSHALL I’m The One – DJ Khaled (ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper & Little Wayne)
I Get That Bag – Gucci Mane (ft. Migos)
Strip That Down – Liam Payne (ft. Quavo)
Congratulations – Post Malone (ft. Quavo)
13 STEVE MAC What About Us – P!nk
Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
Strip That Down – Liam Payne (ft. Quavo)
14 LELAND WAYNE Mask Off – Future
I Get That Bag – Gucci Mane (ft. Migos)
Congratulations – Post Malone (ft. Quavo)
X – Lil Uzi Vert
15 BRYAN SIMMONS XO Tour Llif3 – Lil Uzi Vert
16 ONIKA MARAJ Swish Swish – Katy Perry (ft. Nicki Minaj)
Rake It Up – Yo Gotti (ft. Nicki Minaj)
17 JOHNNY MCDAID Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
What About Us – P!nk
18 JUSTIN TRANTER Bad At Love – Halsey
Believer – Imagine Dragons
Friends – Justin Bieber & BloodPop
19 JOSH OSBORNE All The Pretty Girls – Kenny Chesney
Drinkin’ Problem – Midland
Body Like A Back Road – Sam Hunt
20 LUDWIG GÖRANSSON & DONALD GLOVER Redbone – Childish Gambino

Every track charting on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week is given a point value, which is then split equally among the songwriters listed for each, and then ranked in order of those totals.

UK Songwriting Chart (8 September 2017)

1 MEGAN MCKENNA Far Cry From Love – Megan McKenna
High Heeled Shoes – Megan McKenna
2 STEVE MAC Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
Strip That Down – Liam Payne (ft. Quavo)
What About Us – Pink
Your Song – Rita Ora
3 YXNG BANE Bestie – Yungen (ft. Yxng Bane)
Rihanna – Yxng Bane
4 ED SHEERAN Castle On The Hill – Ed Sheeran
Galway Girl – Ed Sheeran
Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
Strip That Down – Liam Payne (ft. Quavo)
Your Song – Rita Ora
5 JUSTIN TRANTER If I’m Lucky – Jason Derulo
Issues – Julia Michaels
Friends – Justin Bieber & Bloodpop
6 J HUS Spirit – J Hus
7 KHALID ROBINSON Young Dumb & Broke – Khalid
1-800-273-8255 – Logic (ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid)
Silence – Marshmello (ft. Khalid)
8 BENJAMIN LEVIN Lonely Together – Avicii (ft. Rita Ora)
Crying In The Club – Camila Cabello
Castle On The Hill – Ed Sheeran
Issues – Julia Michaels
Know No Better – Major Lazer (ft. Scott/Cabello)
9 FRENCH MONTANA Unforgettable – French Montana (ft. Swae Lee)
Hurtin’ Me – Stefflon Don & French Montana
10 CAMILLE PURCELL Reggaeton Lento (Remix) – CNCO & Little Mix
Power – Little Mix
Rain – The Script
11 JUSTIN BIEBER 2U – David Guetta (ft. Justin Bieber)
Friends – Justin Bieber & Bloodpop
Despacito (Remix) – Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee
12 JOHNNY MCDAID Galway Girl – Ed Sheeran
Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
What About Us – P!nk
13 TAYLOR SWIFT Look What You Made Me Do – Taylor Swift
…Ready For It? – Taylor Swift
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
14 EMILY WARREN Boys – Charli XCX
New Rules – Dua Lipa
15 JAHSEH ONFROY Everybody Dies In Their Nightmares – XXXTENTACION
Jocelyn Flores – XXXTENTACION
16 JULIA MICHAELS Issues – Julia Michaels
Friends – Justin Bieber & Bloodpop
Either Way – Snakehips & Anne-Marie (ft. Joey Badass)
17 BELCALIS ALMANZAR Bodak Yellow (Money Moves) – Cardi B
18 CASS LOWE Boys – Charli XCX
Sun Comes Up – Rudimental (ft. James Arthur)
19 YUNGEN Bestie – Yungen (ft. Yxng Bane)
20 BRITTANY HAZZARD Feels – Calvin Harris (ft. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Big Sean)
Swish Swish – Katy Perry (ft. Nicki Minaj)
Know No Better – Major Lazer (ft. Scott/Cabello)

Every track charting on the UK’s Official Singles Chart for the week is given a point value, which is then split equally among the songwriters listed for each, and then ranked in order of those totals.

Royalty Exchange logo The Hot Hitmakers chart is repurposed with kind permission of Royalty Exchange, the online music royalties marketplace.

‘Dedicated To Bobby Jameson’ by Ariel Pink (Album)

September 18, 2017 in Music Reviews

Ariel Pink

Ariel Pink: found a muse in Jameson that has allowed his mind to both focus and flourish

Inspired by the life and times of a fellow Los Angeles musician, the master of B movie pop is back

Ariel Pink’s new release is a concept album about a Los Angeles folk singer who, having disappeared in the 80s, resurfaced in 2007 to create a series of blogs highlighting his disillusionment with the music industry. Jameson died in 2015 but has clearly left a lasting impression on Pink, who states in the press material that this album follows its protagonist “through a battery of tests, the first of which sees him reborn into life out of death”.

That’s not to say that this theme has anchored Pink’s flights of fancy, nor does it dominate the listener’s attention. Instead it has allowed Pink to create his most interesting album since Before Today, as if Jameson has inspired him to knuckle down and explore his own pathos. He’s still cherry-picking genres on which to hang his crazy creations, but this time he’s able to frame them in a cohesive way.

Opening track Time To Meet Your God has the feeling of early Gary Numan. Feels Like Heaven casts Pink in the role of a New Romantic crooner as he proclaims, “There I go again / falling in love again”. Death Patrol, Santa’s In The Closet and the title track are all familiarly naïve and squelchy, the latter in particular canters along. The real highlight though is Another Weekend, a paired-back lament which hints at Jameson’s suffering with Pink singing, “To log me in and out of my life / I’m either too shy or too humble”.

Pink has found a muse in Jameson that has allowed his mind to both focus and flourish and in doing so has produced his most enjoyable record in almost a decade.

Verdict: A quirky yet accessible homage

Duncan Haskell

The Week In Review (11-17 September)

September 17, 2017 in News


Outlook was a washout, but today’s classic from Sleater-Kinney certainly isn’t. Image by Shanujacob

After a short break, Songwriting are back with our round-up of the last seven days in music and latest classic

Folks, once again we write having returned from a festival. This time it was Croatia’s Outlook, however, unlike Boomtown, there was no sun to be found – those of you who were there too will know the pain of the torrential rain.

After that, we’ve spent the remainder of our week doing little other than indulging in R&R, by watching the excellent Gotham – Ben McKenzie’s finest work since his turn as Ryan Atwood in cult noughties show, The O.C.

Classic Of The Week

‘I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone’ by Sleater-Kinney(1996)

Is there such thing as a bad Sleater-Kinney album? No, absolutely not. However, it’s harder to pin down just one song to define them. We’ve gone for this because it’s the most anthemic track from their most brilliant album – Call The Doctor. If you’ve not heard this song, the album it’s from, or Sleater-Kinney, then you’re in for a real treat.

Classic Of The Week Playlist

Songs Of The Week

Song: Bending Back
Artist: Art School Girlfriend

Song: Ain’t A Road Too Long
Artist: Brent Cobb

Song: Look Look Look!
Artist: Velvet Volume

Song: John Joseph Brill
Artist: A Place to Drown

Song: Burning Flame
Artist: The Franklin Electric

Interview: Jon Stevens

September 15, 2017 in Features, Interviews

Jon Stevens

Jon Stevens: “I was a big superstar – Justin Bieber equivalent in New Zealand”

We meet the Antipodean rock singer and Noiseworks/INXS frontman who went from teenage superstar to Jesus Christ Superstar and beyond

Antipodean singer-songwriter Jon Stevens is recognised as one of the most talented rock musicians to emerge from Australia. His solo career took off as early as 1980 when, at the age of 16, he topped the New Zealand charts with his first two singles. Luckily the commercial success didn’t stop there, as Jon went on to front Sydney rock band Noiseworks, who released three platinum studio albums between 1987 and 1991, followed by a greatest hits collection in 1992.

When the group split that year, Jon ended up performing in an Australian production of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, before embarking on another phase as a solo artist. From 2000 to 2003, following the death of his friend Michael Hutchence, Jon was asked to take his place as the lead singer of INXS and toured with the band.

Over the last three decades, the New Zealander continued to ply his trade as a musician, songwriter and producer, collaborating with the likes of Slash and forming The Dead Daisies project.

And now, for Jon’s tenth studio album, Starlight, he joined forces with legendary Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, who co-wrote and produced the record, and recruited other stellar featured artists like Ringo Starr.

It sounded like a fascinating story, so we gave Jon a call to find out more…

Tell us about when you first started creating music.

“Yeah, I was always writing poems and stories – I grew up in a musical household. But I did an album when I was 16 or 17 years old, in New Zealand. It was one of those things I didn’t really want to do – it just happened. I’m the youngest of 11 children and my eldest sister knew a guy who had a recording studio. He was looking for singers, so she suggested me and he said, ‘Bring him in and I’ll give him a go.’ She talked me into going in to sing a few songs, then before I knew it CBS wanted to release them and one of them become No 1 and I was still unsigned! I was pressing vinyl albums in a factory at EMI. So I became a part of the music industry without really wanting to be in it.

So you were a teenage superstar?

“Roll forward 18 months and I was a big superstar – Justin Bieber equivalent in New Zealand – the biggest you could get in 1979, but my career was over within a year. I was over-exposed, they played me all the time and I hated it – I hated me. So I left and met Lance Reynolds in Australia. He was managing bands in America, he saw me and said, ‘Oh man, you’re awesome, do you want to come to America? I’ve got a studio over there and some people I want you to work with.’ So I went over and he introduced to me to Trevor Lawrence who’d co-produced with Richard Perry – he did the Pointer Sisters and all that stuff.

“Then he introduced to Jeff Barry, who taught me to write songs – he wrote River Deep Mountain High and Be My Baby. He’d also written Montego Bay, which was my second single and a big No 1 in New Zealand. So I met him in LA in 1980 and he, Trevor and I wrote a couple of songs together. I remember sitting in a room with him and he couldn’t play an instrument, but he could juggle words in mid-air and I was fascinated. Trevor would play and I’d sing melodies, not really knowing what’s going on, just plugging into the subconscious – I didn’t even know what it was. We’d have a couple of joints and off we’d go! We’d just come out with all these lyrics, non-stop and Jeff would keep throwing things at me, so I had to keep up. When I found he wasn’t a trained musician, it made it even more fascinating for me. How do you do that?! I realised there was something amazing that this guy was doing and I wanted to know what it was.”

Jon Stevens

Jon: “You’ve got to let go, recognise the moment and whatever pops into your consciousness, you try to expand on that”

Do you think that was down to Jeff’s work ethic or did you feel it was still magical and pure artistry?

“Oh I thought it was very artistic, almost other-worldly actually. He likened it to ‘channeling’ – get out of the way of what’s coming through and just spit it out. He’d just grab it. In those days we didn’t have Walkmans, so you’d just have to capture it. You’ve got to let go, recognise the moment and whatever pops into your consciousness, you try to expand on that.”

Do you only go with stuff you remember, or do you record all your ideas now?

“Oh no, once recording came in I recorded everything that moves! Because I’m able to listen back and go, ‘That bit was good, oh and that’s shit!’ Whatever works for you really, but for me – especially as a singer – you can capture that moment of free-flow and capture that. Generally, 97 percent of the time, the first thing that comes out of my mouth is right.”

What happened after that album you made in LA?

“I came back to Australia and hooked up with Stuart Fraser in 1982. We’d been playing guitar, writing stuff together and hanging out. We were the same age, so we’d just have a beer, play rock ‘n’ roll and write songs. We were just mates who wanted to be in a band together and so we became Noiseworks.”

What was the dynamic between the two of you?

“Well, I’d go round to Stuart’s place, take him cigarettes and get him out of bed, because he was a pot-head! We’d sit and jam all day – that was the routine. We were writing and writing, and then we’d go into a rehearsal room. We went through a couple of different drummers and a couple of bass players, so I think there was three years of tinkering with personnel. So as soon as we came up with some song ideas, we’d call up whoever and say, ‘Hey man, we’re in the rehearsal room, come and have a jam.’ Then we’d jam the ideas with different people until we found someone who could add to the equation.”

Looking at your time with Jesus Christ Superstar and with INXS, your career has been punctuated by phases when you’ve been performing other people’s songs. Was that a conscious decision to take a break from writing your own music?

“The songwriting has never stopped – I’ve always been writing. Even when I was in INXS, I spent four years touring with them and writing songs with various members of the band. I just didn’t write with Andrew Farriss, and when he eventually decided he wanted to write with me I was under instructions. I was under strict instructions from the management that I wasn’t allowed to work with any of the rest of the band.

Really? So how did you end up performing in Jesus Christ Superstar?

“When Noiseworks blew up in ’92, it just so happened that a few months later I got the call to do Superstar – that was just luck. I was already working on the Are You Satisfied album, and I never wanted the band to split up, so that wasn’t my choice. Other members wanted to go their own way so we decided that was enough – we were just sick of each other!”

Jon Stevens

Jon on Dave Stewart: “The first thing he said to me was, ‘Do you drink?’…and he goes – and I quote – ‘Martinis at seven!’”

Tell us about your new album. How did you approach it?

“I’d made the Woman album in 2015 and I’d come out of The Dead Daisies, and then I was talking with a friend of mine in London. We talked about doing some gigs together in Europe and I said, ‘I want to make another record, but I don’t have the stomach to produce this one, so I want to get a producer. Do you know any?’ He started reeling off names and mentioned Dave Stewart. I said, ‘I’ve met Dave and I love his work!’ He wouldn’t have remembered but I’d toured with him in 1987. He sent Dave the Woman album and within a few months I was working in the studio with him. The first thing he said to me was, ‘Do you drink?’ I went, ‘Oh y’know, I have a couple here and there,’ and he goes – and I quote – ‘Martinis at seven!’ Then 15 minutes later we’re sitting in a room together, talking to each other, playing guitars and we start writing. I never played him one song or one idea I’d written; we wrote everything in a stream of consciousness, in the moment. It was beautiful and it was really reassuring to me, to be working with a guy who still wonders how it happens – he just let it take us on this journey.”

Did he specifically ask you to turn up with any material in progress?

“No, it just happened like that. It was purely natural and soulful. We talked about different things, and it just came out. We plugged into each other really quickly.”

Ringo Starr features on One Way Street. How did you get him onboard?

“I met him at Dave’s house – they’re best buddies. We were hanging out, pulled out the acoustic guitars and singing some songs. When we’d written One Way Street, I said, ‘Dave, do you think we can get Ringo to play on this?’ And he said, ‘Let’s ask him.’ So we sent the song over to him and he loved it. God bless him, he was on tour with the All Starr Band and he flew over on his day off, we recorded the drums at his house and then he went back out on the road! It was amazing, one of the highlights of my life, without a doubt!”

While we’re talking about legendary collaborators, tell us about writing with Slash.

“I met him in about ’97 and we just recorded some songs together at his house. I was living in LA at the time and we became good mates. We came up with Lock ‘n’ Load in ’98 or ’99. I’ve got tons of songs I’ve written with different people, but they’re just songs in a bag. When I did The Dead Daisies project, it needed another song and I thought of Lock ‘n’ Load and how it’d be perfect for that record. So I called Slash and said, ‘I want your well-wishes to record Lock ‘n’ Load and I’d love for you to play on it.’ He heard the first album and said, ‘That’s cool man, go ahead,’ so we recorded it in Melbourne and took it back to LA and got Slash to play guitar on it – the beautiful guy that he is! That’s the story really.”

Interview: Aaron Slater

Jon Stevens’ new album Starlight is out now. Find out more at jonstevens.com

Craig David announces new album by dropping a single

September 15, 2017 in News

Craig David

Exciting news for fans of Craig David. Image by Jonathan Andel

The new album will see a return to the singer’s roots of simple story telling with a UK R&B soundtrack

Craig David will release his new album titled The Time Is Now on 26 January. But if you can’t wait that long, the singer-songwriter has dropped a song to keep you going. Heartline is the first single from the record, which will feature collaborations with Bastille, AJ Tracey and Goldlink, to name a few.

“This is authentic me, doing what I love, just like I did when I was an unknown artist; that kid from Southampton making mixtapes in his bedroom and taking risks,” says David. “The motivation and inspiration behind this album was all down to the huge realisation that even when I wasn’t as focused, there were amazing lessons to be learnt.”

The album is the follow-up to last year’s comeback LP, Following My Intuition, which achieved a UK No.1 – his first since 2000’s debut album Born To Do It, which featured hits: 7 Days, Rewind, Rendezvous and Walking Away.

David has also revealed three live dates for November, tickets are available from 22 September:

O2 Academy Brixton (3)
Manchester’s The Warehouse Project (4)
O2 Academy Birmingham (5)

Sampha’s ‘Process’ wins 2017 Mercury Prize

September 14, 2017 in Competitions, News

Sampha 'Process' album

Sampha: his debut studio album Process

The South Londoner’s debut is the judges’ top album in this year’s celebration to promote the best of British music

South London singer-songwriter, Sampha, has won this year’s Mercury Prize for his debut album Process. The decision was revealed by the actor Idris Elba at the climax of this evening’s ceremony at London’s Hammersmith Apollo, which was presented by BBC Radio 6 Music DJ Lauren Laverne and broadcast live on BBC Four.

Established in 1992, the annual celebration is held to promote the best of British music, recognising artistic achievement across a range of contemporary music genres. 28 year-old Sampha and his record were picked ahead of 11 other shortlisted albums by the likes of Ed Sheeran, Stormzy, The xx and alt-J.

“I feel like I’m dreaming a little bit. This is incredible,” Sampha said in his acceptance speech. “Thank you guys so much, thank you to the judges for thinking my album was good enough for this. I didn’t write anything, but… I’d like to dedicate this award to my parents…” He then took to the stage one more time to perform his third single from the album, (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano.

For more details, go to mercuryprize.com

‘Songs From The Mirror’ by McGoozer (Album)

September 13, 2017 in Music Reviews


McGoozer: steps out of the shadows to release his own debut album

Scottish singer Paul McGee is making up for lost time with the release of his debut offering of well-crafted pop

McGoozer 'Songs From The Mirror' album coverHaving been a session musician, backing singer and a Blues Brother, it’s finally time for Glasgow-born artist McGoozer (Paul McGee) to step out of the shadows and release his own debut album. His brothers Brian McGee and Owen Paul have already tasted success and, on the strengths of this record, it’s a safe bet that McGoozer will continue his family’s hot streak.

The almost-title-track Song From The Mirror gets things started and immediately introduces the McGoozer sound, with a clean production providing the ideal accompaniment for his rich and powerful vocals. One & Only Girl has some of Jack Johnson’s light touch and My Sweet Butterfly is a ballad that you can imagine Gary Barlow belting out. Such comparisons don’t fully represent his full range though and you can hear hints of his musical theatre background on Easy To Love You and Stand Up.

Rather than chasing the latest trend or packing his songs with gimmicky production tricks, McGoozer has instead concentrated on solid songcraft. By the time Last Goodbye closes the curtain on the album, he has presented the listener with a compelling argument for why there should always be a space in their collection for this sort of mature pop music.

Verdict: Pop with a timeless feel

Duncan Haskell

BMI to honour Jay Kay with President’s Award

September 12, 2017 in News

Jay Kay

Jay Kay: “People who have received this award before me have been hugely influential in the music industry.”

The influential lead singer of Jamiroquai is to receive the accolade at the annual ceremony celebrating the year’s best songwriters

Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) announced today that legendary songwriter and lead singer of Jamiroquai, Jay Kay, will receive the President’s Award at this year’s BMI London Awards in recognition of his influence on songwriting within the music industry. The flamboyant frontman joins an elite group of past honourees who have received the BMI President’s award for their exemplary contributions to the art of music and have profoundly influenced the entertainment industry. Previous honourees include Kenny Chesney, P!nk, Willie Nelson, Adam Levine, Gloria & Emilio Estefan, and Toni Braxton.

Jay Kay has had global success, enjoying over two decades of music industry triumphs with his band Jamiroquai. Together they have accumulated an impressive list of accolades including Grammys, Ivor Novellos, MTV Awards, and 13 BRIT Award nominations. Throughout 25 years of existence, they have sold out numerous tours across the world and their greatest hits album High Times: Singles 1992-2006 went double platinum in the UK alone.

“It is an honour to be awarded the BMI’s President’s Award for 2017. People who have received this award before me have been hugely influential in the music industry,” said Jay Kay. “So it’s a huge compliment and I am very thankful that the BMI felt I was worthy of it. I feel immensely proud to have even been nominated and I’m looking forward to a fantastic night in October.”

The annual gala will also pay tribute to the UK and European songwriters and publishers of the past year’s most-performed songs on US radio and television from BMI’s repertoire of nearly 12 million musical works. The Million-Air Awards, Song of the Year and awards for Pop, Dance, Film, Television and Cable Television Music will also be presented throughout the evening. Last year’s recipients include Ed Sheeran, Snow Patrol, Rudimental, Hozier, Disciples and songwriters Wayne Hector and Ed Drewett.

The BMI London Awards will take place at the Dorchester Hotel on 9 October 2017. For more info, visit bmi.com

Tascam releases new USB interface

September 11, 2017 in Gear, News

Tascam US-1x2 audio interface

Tascam US-1×2: detachable Bio-Cell side panels, angle the interface from the desktop

The US-1×2 promises to deliver pro-quality desktop recording for singer-songwriters, podcasters and small home studios with a Mac or PC

Tascam has revealed the newest member of its US series of USB 2.0 recording interfaces, the US-1×2. The compact bus-powered audio interface delivers 24-bit, 96 kHz desktop recording, and is designed for singer-songwriters, podcasters and small home studios using a Mac or Windows computer. A secondary five VDC mini-USB power input is provided for iOS devices and for standalone operation in practice sessions.

The unit’s XLR microphone input employs Tascam’s Ultra-HDDA mic preamp, which features a -125 dBu EIN rating and 101 dB signal-to-noise ratio, with 57 dB gain range and switchable +48V phantom power. Input 2 can be switched between front- and rear-panel jacks. The front panel sports a switchable, 1/4-inch line/instrument input and the unit’s rear offers a pair of RCA line inputs.

Stereo line-level outputs are provided on RCA connectors, and the line outputs and 1/4-inch stereo headphone output have independent output level controls. Front-panel LEDs indicate signal present, peak/clip, phantom power active, and USB active. Zero-latency direct monitoring can be enabled with a rear-panel switch or in the included Settings Panel software for Mac and Windows. The Settings Panel also accesses the stereo/mono input monitor, input mute, and audio source output.

The interface is housed in a black powder-coated metal chassis with Tascam’s unique, detachable Bio-Cell side panels, which angle the interface from the desktop.

The US-1×2 is class compliant for Mac OSX and is compatible with Windows PCs using an ASIO driver. You also can record and play back with iOS devices such as an iPhone or iPad, using an Apple Camera Connection Kit. Steinberg’s Cubase LE DAW for macOS and Windows and Cubasis LE DAW for iOS are included free.

Tascam’s US-1×2 USB audio interface is available now for $99 (approx. £75). Further details can be found at tascam.com

UK Songwriting Contest deadline approaching

September 10, 2017 in Competitions, News

Stuart Epps

Stuart Epps: the top British producer has worked with the likes of Elton John and George Harrison

As part of the grand prize package, renowned music producer Stuart Epps has agreed to work with the winning songwriter

The entry deadline for The UK Songwriting Contest is midnight 30 September. The 2017 competition is an opportunity for songwriters to showcase their work to the music industry in London and the world, and to have their songs examined and marked by experts. Songwriters from every country can participate and everyone who enters will be told the judges score for each song and will receive an official UKSC Certificate with details of their song’s achievements and placements.

As part of the grand prize package, renowned music producer Stuart Epps has agreed to work with the winner. Stuart has worked with some of the biggest names in the business including Elton John, Robbie Williams, Oasis, Led Zeppelin and George Harrison. Top songwriter and coach Mark Cawley from Nashville will also offer a coaching prize. One of the last winners of this coaching prize – a Lyrics Only category winner from Australia – ended up flying to Nashville to record with Cawley as a result.

Joining Epps and Cawley on the judging panel are acclaimed hit songwriter Shelly Peiken, producer and arranger Richard Niles (Paul McCartney, Kylie Minogue, Take That, Mariah Carey), CMA Award winning country star Lucie Diamond, Oscar-nominated television and film composer Jamie Sefari, the composer and Grammy and Emmy winner Kipper Eldridge (well known in the music business as Sting’s producer), as well as UKSC winner and platinum album artist Natalie Chua.

The entry categories this year are: Pop, Lyrics Only, Singer-Songwriter, Rock, Adult Contemporary, Love Songs, Acoustic & Folk, Under 18s, Music Videos, Jazz & Blues, Country, Christian/Faith, R&B/HipHop/Rap, Instrumental, Open/Other Category, Indie, Electronic/Dance/Ambient, Christmas Songs, World Music and Retro.

There are new awards levels this year and the UKSC will feature the best songs and songwriters in each category online, on partner websites and in the media. As the organiser is now the official submissions partner for The Commonwealth Song Contest, entries from this year’s UKSC will also be considered for that new international song event when it launches in 2018.

For details and entry forms, visit the official contest website: songwritingcontest.co.uk

How I wrote ‘I’m Too Sexy’ by Right Said Fred

September 9, 2017 in Features, Interviews

Having inspired Taylor Swift’s new single, the Fairbrass brothers reveal all about the creation of their shirtless 1991 smash hit

Think of the pop world of the early 90s and it’s not long before your mind turns to Right Said Fred’s juggernaut of a single, I’m Too Sexy. The debut release from Fred Fairbrass, Richard Fairbrass and Rob Manzoli topped the charts in six countries and was only held off the top spot in the UK by Bryan Adams’ own monster hit, (Everything I Do) I Do It For.

A favourite of adverts and movies alike, the track has subsequently turned up everywhere from a commercial for Fruitella sweets to The Smurfs 2 soundtrack. Perhaps more respectably, it also won the 1992 Ivor Novello award for the most performed work.

All of a sudden, Taylor Swift has recently brought I’m Too Sexy back, interpolating it on her own single Look What You Made Me Do. It gives us the perfect excuse to speak to brothers Fred and Richard about their smash song and its new lease of life…

Right Said Fred 'I'm Too Sexy' EP

Released: 15 July 1991
Artist: Right Said Fred
Label: Tug (UK), Charisma (USA)
Writer(s): Fred Fairbrass, Richard Fairbrass, Rob Manzoli
Producer(s): TommyD
UK chart position: 2
US chart position: 1
Did you know?: Saint Etienne and Alvin and the Chipmunks are among those who have both covered the song

Fred: “Richard and I were an acoustic duo but we were tired of doing that so we contacted a local rehearsal room in South West London and asked if they knew any other players, which is how we hooked up with Rob Manzoli. This was the summer of 1990 and we got together with Rob and started to do some writing. We also wanted to work with a computer programmer so we were introduced to Brian Pugsley. We went to Brian’s house in West London on the 18th September 1990 with a song called Heaven. The bassline was basically an E major scale going round and round. We were playing with this idea and we’d had a couple of drinks, it was very hot as we were in a basement. This song was going nowhere and then Richard starts jumping around. He gets up as he’s hot and he actually takes his shirt off and goes ‘I’m too sexy for my shirt’ and we all stopped.”

Richard: “Obviously the heat had something to do with it. The guy had one of those really old-fashioned Victorian wardrobes with a mirror cut into its front door and I just stood in front of it. I’d been training at the gym quite hard at the time so I took off my shirt and started dancing. I could still hear the bassline for this other song and for some inexplicable reason started singing ‘I’m too sexy for my shirt’ and it went from there.”

F: “Initially I thought it was a pretty stupid idea but Richard and Rob thought it was brilliant. I took a little bit more persuasion because I couldn’t hear where this would go until we came up with the ‘I’m a model’ bit. Then the whole thing made sense. Rob came up with the guitar line and we wanted to write something over that, we’d sung the bass line so wanted to sing the guitar line too.

“We sat down and wrote a big list of things that we were too sexy for, including people like Doris Day but then we thought that was the wrong way to go. We thought we’d make it more ridiculous. Rich came up with ‘shirt’ then we came up with ‘hat’ and ‘pussy cat’. We liked the idea of cities because the song was about hedonism and the rise of supermodels at the end of the 80s. We then did another session with Ian Craig Marsh, one of the guys from Heaven 17. It was his idea to put in the brass pad to split up the verses, because we wanted more than two verses but we didn’t want four.

“We didn’t have any money but we found a studio that was in liquidation. If you bunged the manager some cash he would open it up at night. We weren’t allowed to have the lights or the heating on in case the council found out, so it was bloody freezing. The vocal that’s on the record is the original demo vocal, Rich just nailed an attitude that worked.”

Right Said Fred

Right Said Fred: “We went round the major record labels with cassettes and they all told us to fuck off…”

R: “I wanted to be Steven Tyler when I was a kid but that’s not the voice I have so you live with what the gods gave you and once I did I’m Too Sexy I realised I could sing that low, because I hadn’t thought about it before.”

F: “We then hooked up with a guy called TommyD who was a DJ who re-jigged the backing track for us, we all then met up at Red Bus Studios. Phil Spalding put down the bass, Rob and I put down some guitars, Tommy did the programming and Graham Bonnet was the engineer.

“We went round the major record labels with cassettes and they all told us to fuck off, so we thought ‘well we don’t care about a deal, let’s just get it on the radio.’ The receptionist at Red Bus was this young girl called Tamzin and she heard it and said ‘I think this is a hit record’. So we said ‘we’ll do you a deal, you can manage the band if you get this on the radio.’ Within about four weeks she got it on Gary Crowley’s show and then Simon Bates’ breakfast show, the biggest show in the UK at the time. They put it on air, the phones went insane and the song went mad.

“I think the lyric is a bit like Happy Birthday in that you can sing I’m Too Sexy for anything. Happy Birthday has that modular thing, where it doesn’t matter how long or short a person’s name is it still works and I just think it’s a bit like that because you can make your own lyrics up.”

R: “Also it’s not threatening, the lyrics are cheeky and innocent and you can sing them with a wink.”
Fred: “We see it as a gateway song to the rest of the stuff that we do, because there are people like the Taylor Swift fans, they know I’m Too Sexy but now they’ve also heard Stand Up For The Champions and Don’t Talk Just Kiss.

“It’s a little bit like having a daughter that you love and you’re absolutely mad about and she then leaves home and becomes a crack addict. You still love her but just don’t approve of some of the company that she keeps. I love the song but some of the places that it’s found itself and some of the company it’s kept is not so good.

“Having said that, the Taylor thing is great and she’s been really great about it all. In this business courtesy is not common but all of Taylor’s people have been incredibly responsive. They pick up the phone, they answer emails straight away, they sent us a huge bunch of flowers and they’ve just been really nice to work with. It makes a huge difference.”

F: “She’s a much bigger artist than we are but you don’t sense that. There’s none of this ‘don’t you know who we are?’ As an independent band we often find ourselves in the wilderness because we’re not supported by a major label. We’ve been blanked for years by certain festivals and television shows who are now in the really difficult position of going ‘oh hell, we’re going to have to talk to those bald bastards again,’ and that’s pretty funny. I’m Too Sexy has delivered more than we could ever have hoped for, even before this Taylor Swift thing.”

R: “There are two things I’m really proud of. I’m really proud of the song itself and I’ve never not wanted to sing it. After 26 years I still always look forward to performing it. Secondly, we never made the mistake of trying to write another one like it. That’s that and we moved on. I love it.”

Interview: Duncan Haskell

The I’m Too Sexy EP is out now. To read the stories behind 43 other songs, from Light My Fire to If I Were A Boy, check out How I Wrote the book!

British music still dominating on world stage

September 9, 2017 in News

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones: their latest album had an impact on British music sales figures. Photo: Jim Pietryga/Wikimedia Commons

British music sales overseas at a new high, proving that music fans are still looking towards our shores for talent

Latest figures from record label members indicate a rise of 11.1% in British music exports in 2016. The annual survey carried out by the BPI reveals the value of the rise is £364.6 million, the highest since records began in 2000. The music body announced the findings at its AGM in London on Thursday (7 September).

The growth shows the market for British music overseas hasn’t faltered since the turn of the millennium. In fact, British artists have earned £4.4 billion in that time and, now, UK artists account for one in eight album sales globally.

The death of David Bowie saw a rise in demand for his back catalogue; sales of which contributed a large amount to the total revenue. The Rolling Stones’ latest album also had an important impact on sales figures.

The result is being championed by music industry representatives, especially considering Brexit. BPI & BRIT Awards chief exec Geoff Taylor said: “With Britain leaving the EU, the UK needs businesses that are true global superstars.”

The rise in sales comes down to timing. 2016 was a busy year for album releases, with Little Mix finding success with their album Glory Days, meaning that the chances of sales rising year-on-year are dependent on which artists are releasing albums, and if there are any significant posthumous sales.

However, 2017 looks to be just as busy as last year, with Ed Sheeran dominating the charts. And the last nine months have been successful for breakthrough artists, with Rag’n’Bone Man and Stormzy releasing their debut albums. The UK continues to be a force to be reckoned with as a distributor of music, but still sits behind the US.

Country great Don Williams dies aged 78

September 8, 2017 in News

Don Williams' Harmony album

Don Williams Harmony: his only album to have reached No 1 on the US Country Albums chart

The highly acclaimed singer, songwriter and Country Music Hall of Famer, affectionately known as the ‘Gentle Giant’, has passed away

American country singer, songwriter and 2010 inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Don Williams passed away on Friday 8 September at the age of 78 years old. The sad news was released by the singer’s PR company and a message posted on his official Facebook profile. The announcement confirmed his death “after a short illness,” adding that funeral arrangements are pending.

He grew up in Portland, Texas, and graduated in 1958 from Gregory-Portland High School. After seven years with the folk-pop group Pozo-Seco Singers, he began his solo career in 1971, singing popular ballads and amassing 17 chart-topping country hits.

Some of Williams’ best known songs include You’re My Best Friend, Tulsa Time, Some Broken Hearts Never Mend, Back In My Younger Days and Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good.

Williams’ unique blend of commanding presence and that laid-back, easy style earned him the nickname ‘Gentle Giant’, appealing to adult men and women alike — cutting across national and genre boundaries.

In March 2016, after six decades as a dominating country hitmaker, Williams decided to hang up his guitar and retire from touring, and all public life.

Canadian teen wins Unsigned Only 2017

September 7, 2017 in Competitions, News


Faouzia: “I am so thankful for this opportunity and the doors that it will open in the future”

The annual competition’s grand prize was awarded to 17-year-old Faouzia – the first time a teenager has won the contest

Today saw the announcement of the winners of this year’s Unsigned Only, a US-based music competition open to any artists who are not signed to a major record label. Selected from 6,000 entries from almost 100 countries, the winners share in over $150,000 in cash and prizes split among 28 winners. All entries are narrowed down to a group of finalists that are given to the panel of judges whose task is to select the winners. The panel is comprised of recording artists, music journalists, and music supervisors, including such celebrities as: Aimee Mann, MercyMe, The Killers, O.A.R., Phantogram, Montgomery Gentry, David Crowder and Delbert McClinton.

The 2017 grand prize has been awarded to 17-year-old Canadian artist, Faouzia, the first time a teen has won the overall grand prize since the competition launched six years ago. Her song Knock On My Door was the overwhelming favorite with the judges who were enamored with her vocal prowess and original pop sensibility. In addition to winning $20,000 in cash and other prizes, Faouzia also receives one-on-one mentoring from a group of upper echelon music industry executives from Atlantic, Razor & Tie, Sony Music Nashville, Island, and more. Faouzia is also the first place winner in the Teen category and is awarded a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music’s five-week Summer Performance program as one of the prizes for winning this category.

“I am so thankful for this opportunity and the doors that it will open in the future,” said Faouzia. “Receiving approbation in such a prestigious competition brings a sense of honour and happiness that can’t fully be put into words. This only pushes me to work harder to achieve goals that seem unattainable but can be achieved with perseverance.”

Born in Morocco and raised in the rural town of Carman, Manitoba, Faouzia grew up in a French and Arabic-speaking household. She started making music at a very young age in the basement of her home and then graduated to singing covers and putting them on YouTube. Putting her poetry to music was the next step, and her original songs began to take form. Faouzia is currently working on her debut EP that will be released soon.

Submissions for the 2018 competition are currently open. Entry information can be found at unsignedonly.com

Interview: Tony Visconti (Part One)

September 7, 2017 in Features, Interviews

Tony Visconti. Photo: Howard Pitkow

Tony Visconti: “My demos sounded much better than my songs did!” Photo: Howard Pitkow

In this first half of a bumper feature, the legendary American producer reveals some fascinating insights into Bowie and Bolan

Brooklyn-born Anthony Edward Visconti is a highly regarded record producer, songwriter and musician, who became famous for helping craft era-defining albums in the 1970s for T. Rex and David Bowie. The New Yorker’s musical life began aged five when he learned to play the ukulele before progressing to the guitar and becoming a fully fledged musician. But it was working as an in-house producer at publisher Richmond Organization that would be Visconti’s first step on what would be an illustrious career path.

It was there that he met British producer Denny Cordell, who asked him to help record jazz vocalist Georgie Fame, before Visconti moved to London and discovered the band Tyrannosaurus Rex (later to become T. Rex). His relationship with the group would last for seven albums, including the production of Electric Warrior which made T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan a superstar and cemented Visconti’s producing prowess.

The American producer’s lengthiest involvement with any artist was with David Bowie, who he worked with on his 1969 album David Bowie as well as The Man Who Sold the World, Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, Low, Heroes, Lodger, Scary Monsters, Heathen, Reality, The Next Day, and all the way through to his final studio album in 2016, Blackstar.

As well as Bolan and Bowie, Tony Visconti has produced many other successful artists over the last 50 years including Ralph McTell, Sparks, Kristeen Young, Morrissey, Richard Barone, Thin Lizzy, Kaiser Chiefs, Manic Street Preachers, Boomtown Rats, Adam Ant, The Stranglers, Iggy Pop, Marc Almond, The Moody Blues and Prefab Sprout.

We uncovered so many fascinating insights on our call with Tony that we’re publishing this interview in two parts. Here we learn about his first impressions of Marc Bolan and David Bowie’s songwriting, and his pivotal role as their collaborator and producer…

Take us back to the early days of your work as a producer, when the songwriting element came into play for the first time.

“Well, I started working as a musician and songwriter before I became a producer, but I had the disparaging review of my publisher saying that my demos sounded much better than my songs did! This led me to understand a lot about songwriting. It kind of deflated me and I never pursued songwriting after that, but I was sensitive to it and it made me critical of other people’s songs – I could tell the difference between a good song or a bad song, or a mediocre song. So that led me to seeking out people who not only had great voices but could also write great songs.”

When you first working as a producer, were you choosing the acts you worked with, or were they simply allocated to you by a publisher?

“I started choosing who I’d work with from the beginning. I had a great mentor, his name was Denny Cordell – he produced Joe Cocker and a number of other illustrious people. For a year I was his assistant and after that he said, ‘It’s time you found an act of your own.’ Just before that, a lovely chap walked into our office whose name was Biddu. That was the only one I was assigned to work with. They said, ‘This guy can’t fail, he’s like an Indian Elvis!’ He was a decent songwriter and we did a song of his called Daughter Of Love, but it wasn’t a great song and I wasn’t a great record producer. So it was okay and we both cut our teeth on it and we never worked together again, although we retained a friendship. But after that, when Denny said to go and find a group, it was Marc Bolan who I found.”

How did that happen?

“Literally the day Denny told me that, I opened the International Times, which used was the precursor to Time Out, and I saw that Tyrannosaurus Rex were playing on Tottenham Court Road. John Peel had been playing them on the radio and I thought they were a great group and the songs were quite deep – they sounded a lot like The Incredible String Band, whom I was already familiar with and I loved. So I went to that club, walked down the staircase and, lo and behold, there was Marc Bolan sat on the stage with Steve Peregrin Took.”


What was it that attracted you most to Marc and the group?

“The first thing that hit me was the audience, because I assumed I was going into a rock club where people would be standing up and dancing around, but there were about 100 young people sat on the floor cross-legged, like Marc and Steve were on the stage. This told me something really important was going – he had a real following and they were imitating the way he sat and were hanging on to every word and every note. I thought this was extraordinary for those times.

“What also struck me was Marc’s voice, the melody and of course his charisma, because he was absolutely beautiful – he was one of the most beautiful men I’ve seen in my life, I think! The only thing I had any trouble with was I couldn’t understand his diction. He was into something weird in those days, and I don’t know what you’d call that affectation, but it was a style he’d developed. Nevertheless, when I got into the lyrics and understood them… He’d show me the page of lyrics before we’d record them and I thought, ‘Wow, this is stunning stuff.’ He was into Tolkien stuff like Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit, and he’d created a kind of mythological world. To this day, I rate his poetry as some of the best I’ve ever worked with and his lyrics… I always work, as an arranger, close to the lyrical content of the song.”

How much did you get involved in his songwriting?

“I did right from the start. It was hard to tell them to do something differently, but it was the third album Unicorn when he trusted me to make arrangement ideas. I sat and played piano on one song and started writing strings, and that’s when the songs would kind of be written around that – it influenced his songwriting to see what an arranger would do with his music. He simplified a little bit, which was good, and it wasn’t like a seven-minute rambling jazz session – he was starting to write concise pop songs within the framework of the Tolkien-esque idea. That actually germinated on the very next album, which would’ve been T. Rex, when he actually made the name-change. Then Marc and I became partners – until then I served him well as his producer and I made sure everything got faithfully recorded – but by T. Rex I was a creative partner, for sure, about fifty-fifty.”

Thinking of other artists you’ve worked with since, such as Bowie, do you tend to wait to be asked for input with their writing, or have you frequently needed to step in and make changes?

“That’s a good question because I only want to work with people who have a really strong talent. I can work with people who have great voices and don’t write, for instance Elaine Paige – she doesn’t write a single note of music, but what a voice! So I was extremely involved with choosing the songs [for her] with Tim Rice and that was a great experience. But back to David Bowie, again, I respected his raw talent and I heard him at the very beginning, before I produced him. He made a record for Deram [Records, a subsidiary of Decca] where virtually every song on the album was a different style, and he was flirting with the idea of musical theatre as well. He told me later that if rock’n’roll didn’t work out he would’ve gone into musical theatre.

“So with him I had even more permission, than I had from Marc Bolan, to fool around with the songs and that started to happen on the Space Oddity album. The songs would be written on a twelve-string guitar but we wanted to expand it into a rock song or a folk-rock song, and I had the full reign in arranging. And also saying that we have too many choruses, or not enough choruses, or we could use a bridge – David would consider everything I said and he would either write something new or… All he wanted to do was make a great record and he had a great attitude about that, he wasn’t egocentric – he really wanted a team around him, right from the very beginning. So I supplied him with all that, which went right into the last album we worked on, Blackstar. I was always there for him for the arrangements, modify a song, here and there, but I call myself a ‘song doctor’ – if a song needs fixing, I can heal it!

“And you asked if I wait to be asked? No, I don’t wait because I have this urge – I actually start shaking a little bit – when I hear something great in my head, I just don’t care what they think of my idea. Because it doesn’t come from a place of egotism, it’s just an idea. As a record producer, over the years, the more experience I’ve gained, I have loads of ideas. So it comes out of me almost like Tourette’s syndrome! I just have to blurt it out and if it’s shot down, it’s shot down, it doesn’t bother me.”

Interview: Aaron Slater

A link to the second part of this interview will be published here soon. The television series Tony Visconti’s Unsigned Heroes – following the producer as he puts together a special concert which will see unsigned musicians take centre stage alongside music legends – is showing on Sky Arts through September. Find out how to watch in your region at sky.com

New St. Vincent album coming next month

September 6, 2017 in News


MASSEDUCTION: “If you want to know about my life, listen to this record.”

Annie Clark returns with a record that was pieced together from years of voice memos, texts and snippets of melodies

Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, has announced her new album MASSEDUCTION is scheduled for release 13 October on Loma Vista Recordings. Themes of power and sex, imperiled relationships and death slice through the LP, Clark’s first since her 2014 breakout St. Vincent. The 13-track album was co-produced by St. Vincent and Jack Antonoff at Electric Lady Studios in Manhattan, with additional recording at Rough Consumer Studio in Brooklyn, and Compound Fracture in Los Angeles.

“Every record I make has an archetype,” says Clark. “Strange Mercy was housewives on pills. St. Vincent was near-future cult leader. MASSEDUCTION is different, it’s pretty first person. You can’t fact-check it, but if you want to know about my life, listen to this record.”

MASSEDUCTION is the culmination of years of writing, with songs crafted from voice memos, text messages, and snippets of melodies that came to Clark while traveling the globe. Special guests on the record include Thomas Bartlett on piano, Kamasi Washington on saxophone, Jenny Lewis on vocals, and beat production from Sounwave. Greg Leisz and Rich Hinman add pedal steel, and Tuck and Patti Andress contribute guitar and vocals respectively on select tracks.

The MASSEDUCTION track listing is as follows…

  1. Hang On Me
  2. Pills
  3. Masseduction
  4. Sugarboy
  5. Los Ageless
  6. Happy Birthday, Johnny
  7. Savior
  8. New York
  9. Fear The Future
  10. Young Lover
  11. Dancing with a Ghost
  12. Slow Disco
  13. Smoking Section

Watch New York, the first video from MASSEDUCTION below, and for more information go to: ilovestvincent.com

IK Multimedia unveils iRig Keys I/O

September 5, 2017 in Gear, News

IK Multimedia iRig Keys I/O

iRig Keys I/O: an all-in-one music production station

A new keyboard controller range with 25 or 49 full-size keys for iOS, Mac and PC, offering built-in audio interface

Mobile music production brand IK Multimedia has introduced iRig Keys I/O, a new keyboard controller range featuring a built-in audio interface. With either 25 or 49 full-size, synth-action keys, the controller features 24-bit audio up to 96kHz sampling rate, a combo input jack for line, instrument or mic input with phantom power, balanced stereo output and a 1/8-inch headphone output.

Both models feature a volume/data push knob, four touch-sensitive knobs on two banks (acting as eight total controls) and eight multicoloured LED velocity sensitive pads. There are also two fully programmable touch control strips acting by default as Pitch and Modulation controls. A complete touch sensitive transport and button section rounds out the controls available.

Being certified Apple MFi hardware, made for iPhone and iPad, iRig Keys I/O works out of the box with all iOS devices with a Lightning port, including the latest generation iPhone 7 that does not have an audio output jack. The controller can be powered by USB, an optional external power supply – that simultaneously charges an iOS device – or with four AA batteries.

Included in both 25 and 49 key versions is Ableton Live 9 Lite digital audio workstation, SampleTank 3 sound and groove workstation with over 43GB and 5000 sounds, T-RackS 4 Deluxe mix and mastering suite with nine EQ and dynamics processors, and the Syntronik Pro-V vintage synthesizer. Plus, iPhone and iPad users receive the full version of SampleTank. Additionally, the 49-key version comes with Miroslav Philharmonik 2 CE orchestral workstation for Mac/PC and the mobile edition for iOS.

iRig Keys I/O will be available in October and can be pre-ordered now at $/€299.99 for the 49-key version and $/€199.99 for the 25-key version. In addition to the bundle of included software, the keyboard also comes with four AA batteries, Mini-DIN to USB and Mini-DIN to Lightning cables and a device stand for iPhone and iPad. For more information, visit: irigkeys.io

2017 CMA Awards nominees announced

September 4, 2017 in Events, News

Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert: leads the list of nominees for The 51st Annual CMA Awards. Photo: Becky Fluke

Miranda Lambert tops the list of finalists with five nominations, followed by Little Big Town and Keith Urban with four

Nominations for The 51st Annual CMA Awards were revealed today. Miranda Lambert tops the list with five nominations, with Little Big Town and Keith Urban each garnering four nominations, tying for the second most nominations this year. The nominations for CMA Broadcast Personality of the Year and Radio Station of the Year were also announced.

Lambert’s name appeared more than any others this year with nominations in the Single and Song of the Year categories for Tin Man, written by Jack Ingram, Lambert, and Jon Randall. Lambert secured her fourth nod for Album of the Year with The Weight Of These Wings, Music Video of the Year for Vice and Female Vocalist. Lambert is the most awarded female in CMA Awards history with 12 trophies. This year’s nods bring her to a career total of 44 CMA Awards nominations.

Little Big Town’s nominations include Single, Music Video of the Year for Better Man, Album of the Year for The Breaker, and Vocal Group of the Year. The band are seven-time CMA Awards winners. Taylor Swift received her 23rd nomination for writing Better Man, marking her second nomination for Song of the Year and first CMA Awards nod since 2014.

10-time CMA Awards winner, Urban tallied up nominations for Male Vocalist, Entertainer of the Year, as well as Single and Music Video of the Year for Blue Ain’t Your Color, with its writers – Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey and Steven Lee Olsen – all earning a nod for Song of the Year. Urban received one nomination for Single of the Year, but can receive an additional trophy as producer.

Eric Church, Maren Morris, Thomas Rhett and Chris Stapleton each earned three nominations, whereas Brothers Osborne, Sam Hunt, Lady Antebellum, Old Dominion and Jon Pardi were nominated twice.

“The talent of the past year for Country has been exceptional,” said CMA’s Sarah Trahern. “It’s great to see nominee names that have graced the list before, and continue to deliver quality artistry. It’s equally thrilling to see six new names – ushering in a new generation earning their first CMA Awards nods.”

The 2017 CMA Awards ceremony will be hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood and broadcast live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on 8 November. Find more information and the full list of nominations at cmaawards.com