August 3, 2012, 2:33 pm
The first single off of the band’s new album,
Glad All Over, which hits stores October 2nd, is a Clash-inspired
track featuring Mick Jones on vocals and guitar. The video was directed
by Sam Jones and shot this month in the city where the band got their
start- Los Angeles.
“Reboot The Mission” features a lively group of street dancers from San Francisco (Turf Feinz) and several B Boys (Legacy, Energetic) and Krumpers (Miss Prissy, Ruin, Lil Bad Newz) from Los Angeles. The dance crews add an exciting and unexpected element to the video.
July 30, 2012, 9:44 am
Different activities allow for various levels of listening, and we can't fault ourselves for leading lives too busy to prioritize music. But when we press “play” on the stereo, lie on the floor, and actually commit to an album with focus, we experience music as an art form in a much richer way.
In 1996, I was thirteen years old. Fiona Apple had just released Tidal, and, perhaps it was because I didn't have to worry about bills to pay or a household to run, but I made a commitment to that album as if it were a long-term relationship. I would lie on the floor memorizing lyrics from start to finish. I ached with Fiona and felt her rage. I identified with her and soaked in both her subtleties and intensities with sponge-like, teenage impressionability. Even at thirteen, I wondered how an eighteen-year-old Apple had such sophisticated musical sensibilities and insight into the dynamics of our complex world and relationships.
Over the last sixteen years, music has gradually fulfilled more of a soundtrack role in my life. But, sitting at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in the presence of Ms. Apple's art this past Thursday made me realize the necessity of live concerts for people like me: a time set aside for the purpose of just listening.
And the luxury of listening that night at the Schnitz afforded me the opportunity to reflect on why Fiona Apple still rocks:
1. Because she is unapologetically herself.
We waited almost an hour after the opener for Apple to arrive on stage. Some of us were not so patient about it. The lady behind me said something like, “You should mention in your review that she took FOREVER to come out and play.” Probably twenty minutes after that, Apple stepped onto the stage to uproarious applause, marched up to the microphone, and said emphatically, “I'm sorry we were late. It wasn't my fault. I was in the trailer waiting, and I said, 'I just got my period and I need a tampon!' So I was waiting on that.” Then, the band busted into the feverish “Fast as You Can” from When the Pawn... the same way, perhaps, a wave of hormones would descend upon an unsuspecting woman. There were some laughs and probably some uneasy reactions, but it was so fitting, so honest, and, therefore, so rock-and-roll.
2. Because she works with a stellar group of musicians.
They all supported Apple beautifully, but a couple of them caught my attention. Blake Mills was a standout lead guitarist (and refreshing opening act with a smokey, vintage voice), sporting a slide on his left hand at all times and mixing styles with finesse. Twangy melodic touches, anger-driven distortion, funky chickenpecks, and haunting retro tones all sensitively complemented Apple's sometimes genre-defying songs. My favorite point was when he snapped from an intricate classical lullaby solo to a wall of heavy distortion during “Used to Love Him.” Having a background in percussion, I was also giddy to see a female drummer at the helm, Amy Wood. Wood had the chops to provide the backbone during odd time signatures like in “I Am Not in Love” and add spice and anticipation during the whispery Latin verses of “Carrion.”
3. Because her music is dramatic.
Speaking somewhat generally, I don't hear much in the way of dynamics in today's rock music. Sure, we sometimes hear the juxtaposition of soft and loud, fast and slow, and the occasional key change. But Fiona Apple is a boundary-pusher. Within the course of one song, we hear the musical representation of mental conflict, accomplished by uneasy chord progressions, screaming, and even genre-switching. We also hear elements of jazz in songs like “Carrion,” frenzied percussive tantrums like in “Daredevil,” and pure, primal vocals heard in the abstractly-neurotic chorus of “Every Single Night.” Apple is seemingly unconcerned with making her music instantly accessible like a pop tune. Sometimes parts of her songs are downright unpleasant. But, if we commit to listening, we enjoy the roller coaster for its ups and downs.
4. Because she gives a no-holds-barred performance.
While Apple doesn't seem to cater to anyone, she gave us the gift of an uninhibited performance. She spent little time at the piano, perhaps to keep her body available for dancing, vocal pliability, and emoting. She closed her eyes, swayed her hips, shimmied to the floor, and beat on a floor tom. Her voice sounded a little rougher than it used to, but if she was ruining it, it was for the sake of the music. She looked plain weird sometimes, but that just confirmed to me that the music was much more important to her than her appearance. She also delivered the 300,000th-or-so performance of “Criminal” with fresh emotion and embellished the song with a touch of lyrical improvisation.
5. Because she's so damn smart.
I can't emphasize enough how important honesty is to the art of songwriting. Not only that, but good lyrics don't have to be flowery or impressive in word-length to be effective. Some concepts are best illustrated simply, without elite vocabulary. Apple balances straightforwardness with poetry intelligently. The lyrics that struck me on Thursday night are the simplest, most heart-wrenching ones:
“Be kind to me or treat me mean / I'll make the most of it - I'm an extraordinary machine” from “Extraordinary Machine”
“But we can still support each other / All we gotta do's avoid each other” from “Werewolf”
“You say love is a hell you cannot bear / And I say give me mine back and then go there, for all I care” from “Sleep to Dream”
(Perhaps my favorite song lyrically -- though I still have more listening to do -- is “Sleep to Dream,” and Apple penned that before she even turned nineteen!)
Last Thursday night, I was grateful to be reminded about the return on investment we can get when we force ourselves to really listen to music. If you don't have the opportunity to see Fiona Apple live, get a copy of her new album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, press “play” on the stereo, lie on the floor, and let Ms. Apple's art surprise you in refreshing ways when you make yourself just listen.
Set List July 26, 2012:
Fast As You Can
On the Bound
Anything We Want
Sleep to Dream
Used to Love Him
Every Single Night
Not About Love
It's Only Make Believe (by Conway Twitty)
July 18, 2012, 5:07 pm
What’s better than a hot summer day, a tall cool beverage, a good book and some great music drifting through the air? Of course we expect you to spend most of your summer days listening to 101.9 KINK, but we thought we’d take a moment to compile our list of some of our staff’s favorite summertime albums for your listening enjoyment.