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Tag: The Roots (11-20 of 22)

On the scene at the 'I'll Be Your Mirror' ATP festival day 2: The Roots, The Afghan Whigs, and more

Image Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Day two of I’ll Be Your Mirror offered up a bevy of surprises – not the least of which was running into Bob Boilen of NPR’s All Songs Considered.

Singer songwriter Joseph Arthur brought his stream-of-consciousness rock poetry to the indoor stage with songs like “Slide Away” and the breezy, nostalgic “I Miss the Zoo.” On the latter he donned a white lab coat and, in a deft work of performance art, painted an eerie human face while singing (his self-made album art has been nominated for a Grammy).

Following him up outside was Charles Bradley, a.k.a. The Screaming Eagle of Soul. Let me tell you, this man has a life story: Homeless for a time, the Gainesville, Florida native eventually found his way to New York and started performing as a James Brown cover artist known as Black Velvet. Then about a decade ago, in his mid-50s, he was discovered by Daptone Records and last year released his debut album, No Time for Dreaming.

Yesterday’s performance was a joyous funk/soul revival act, Bradley hootin’ and hollerin’ and gyratin’ his hips like the Godfather himself. After playing a generous blend of originals – “Heartaches and Pain,” “The World (Is Goin’ Up in Flames)” – and covers, like Clarence Carter’s “Slip Away” and James Brown’s “Funky Good Time,” Bradley closed the show by climbing into the audience and doling out hugs. The man was so genuine and so talented (his nickname is well-earned) that none of it felt hokey or forced. In the words of a nearby fan, “That mother­­­f—er is the truth.”

Then it was off to see Australian psych-folk trio Dirty Three. Violinist and de-facto bandleader Warren Ellis, a gangly, bearded Charles Manson lookalike, commanded the stage with a manic, deranged intensity. He thrashed and kicked and leered as he and the group banged out their explosive instrumental epics, including “The Pier” and “Some Summers they Drop Like Flys.” But as enthralling as the music was, the most memorable bits were Ellis’ maniacal introductions: “This is a song about coming home for Christmas and finding out Santa didn’t come and everybody died.  This a song, ladies and gentlemen, about stuff like that.”

Detroit’s The Dirtbombs were up next, and what a rollicking treat they were. Known for blending punk rock and Motown soul, their muscular lineup consisted of two bass players and two drummers in addition to Mick Collins’ vocals and guitar. That enormous rhythm section – come on, it’s 80% of the band – gives their music a brute physicality.

Segueing effortlessly from garage-tinged R&B (“Underdog”) to disco dance-rock (“Good Life”) to swaggering funk (“Candy A—“), Collins and co. arguably delivered the day’s most enthusiastic performance. Pouring sweat, drinking beer, waving their instruments around, it felt like watching a group of 17-year-olds playing a punk show in their friend’s basemen (that’s a good thing). For the close, Collins simply walked off stage, leaving the drummers and bassists to hammer out five-minutes of tuneless percussive bliss.

Inside once more, buzzy relative newcomers The Antlers shifted the mood 180 degrees with their transcendent soundscapes. Drawing from their two most recent records, Hospice and Burst Apart, the Brooklyn-based indie darlings played with an orchestral grandeur that was at once lush and haunting. Think The Cure’s Disintegration but without the gothic dread; epic and drenched in reverb, with vocalist Peter Silberman boasting power and range to rival Steve Perry on highlights “Sylvia” and “Putting the Dog to Sleep.”

Later in the evening, artist favorite Mark Lanegan Band (at least three earlier groups hyped up his show) performed his signature menacing proto-blues. On stage he did little more than grip the mic stand and glower, letting his deep, gruff, inimitable voice – equal parts Tom Waits and Billy Gibbons – anchor the four musicians behind him. “Riot in My House,” “Harborview Hospital,” and others dished up ferocious, testosterone-fueled grooves; when he closed with “Methamphetamine Blues,” a savage work of industrial blues-rock played in the key of hate, I thought the building might collapse.

Outside, Swedish-Argentinian nü-folkster José González brought his own brand of stripped-down intensity. His mastery of the acoustic guitar is evident, and he has a penchant for songwriting that is both literate and urgent. Occasionally the constant negativity wore thin – a major chord wouldn’t kill the guy – but his technical dexterity was a wonder in itself, and songs like “Lovestain” and “Remain” are very, very good at what they do, which is earnestly conveying regret. He ended with a cover of Massive Attack’s trip-hop anthem “Teardrop,” revealing unheard nuances with his propulsive acoustic take.

Then, finally, the true headliners took the stage: the newly-reunited Afghan Whigs. I must say first that I was twelve years old when these alt-rock icons broke up in 2001, so for me their live show was one of discovery. What I discovered, first and foremost, is that Greg Dulli, lead singer of the Whigs and guest curator of the festival, has a hell of a voice. I mean, this thing was made for a stadium, like a modern-day Roger Daltrey.

He built the band with a volume to match, employing not one, not two, but three guitars, and a cello (Necessary? Probably not. Awesome? Definitely). Dulli and the crew rocked a set that spanned the whole of their lauded career, from “Son of the South” off 1990’s Up In It to “66” from 1998’s 1965. They also made sure to treat their devoted fans to some gems, bringing out former backup singer Steve Meyer to help with “Gentlemen,” and even calling up Marcy Mays of Scrawl to perform their 1993 collaboration “My Curse.”

And of course it wouldn’t be a Whigs set without some diggin’-in-the-crates covers. Dulli, who’s been called “a black singer in a white body,” dipped into an extensive R&B catalog, taking on Marie “Queenie” Lyons’ “See and Don’t See,” The Supremes’ “Baby Don’t Leave Me,” and Frank Ocean’s “Love Crimes” and “Thinking About You,” and strutting the stage with a rapper’s braggadocio. The band’s final song, the cavernous “Faded,” bled into the searing guitar line from Prince’s “Purple Rain,” cementing Dulli’s dichotomous ambitions. After 11 years out of the race, the Afghan Whigs have relaunched at a full sprint.

Easily 2/3 of the crowd dispersed after the Whigs played, but those who remained bore witness to one of the hallowed truths in contemporary music: the Roots are the best live act around. I don’t even know where to begin. First, kudos to those guys – playing before a dwindling audience of perhaps 150 people, they could easily have phoned in the show. What’s one more live gig to Jimmy Fallon’s backing band?

But if the crowd size was a factor it was impossible to tell: their performance was one of the most enthused and technically proficient that I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Rapper Black Thought dedicated the show to the memories of the late Chuck Brown, the godfather of Go-Go, and MCA of the Beastie Boys, before launching into a Go-Go rendition of the Beastie’s “Paul Revere” that was nothing short of miraculous.

The rest of the concert can best be described as “a whirlwind musical odyssey with your hosts, the Roots.” Of course they played their own hits (“Mellow My Man,” Proceed,” “Break You Off”) frequently dropping to immaculate jazz breaks or tossing in exterior tidbits, like plucking the horn line from OutKast’s “SpottieOttieDopalicious” during “You Got Me.” But then they threw their own catalog to the wind and tore through an eclectic medley: “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Bad to the Bone,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Who Do You Love,” even transforming Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” into a murky dub cut

. Add to all that the fact that they didn’t break once between songs, and performed the last half hour with the breakneck energy and false endings of an encore. It was a true marvel of showmanship. When they hurtled to a close at precisely 12:59, it was like waking up from a fever dream.

Read More

Lollapalooza: Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli has one festival goal: See Frank Ocean
Afghan Whigs live in New York City — still dark and dangerous at their first show in 13 years
Greg Dulli on curating All Tomorrow’s Parties, getting the Afghan Whigs back together, and why Louis C.K. is like a pretty girl

Neil Young, Red Hot Chili Peppers to headline Austin City Limits

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and Florence + the Machine are three of the biggest names slated to play the 2012 Austin City Limits Music Festival. The entire 130-act strong lineup was announced for the October event. Click below for the rest of the talent: READ FULL STORY

December's 'VH1 Divas' adds Chaka, Eryka, Estelle, and -- yes -- some boys

Divas, make way! VH1 has added a bevy of other ladies — and, yes, some dudes, too — to the line-up for its annual special VH1 Divas, including Chaka Kahn (pictured here), Erykah Badu, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Estelle, Marsha Ambrosius. The non-diva entities –i.e. those who have a Y chromosome — added include Boyz II Men and Travie McCoy.

The seven new acts join the previously announced divas, which include Kelly Clarkson, Mary J. Blige, Florence Welch, Jennifer Hudson, Jessie J, and Jill Scott. The Roots will serve as the house band for the engagement.

VH1 Divas will celebrate soul this year, honoring so-called “soulful cities” — Chicago, Detroit, London, Memphis, and Philadelphia — that inspired the participating divas and their art. The special airs Monday, Dec. 19, at 9 p.m. on VH1.

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

The Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix

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?uestlove guests on posthumous Amy Winehouse album

Amy Winehouse had written all the songs that were to appear on her third album. She even picked out song titles. But music producer Salaam Remi said the soul singer, who died over the summer, was not rushing to release that new material, instead planning to drop a jazz album first with a “supergroup” including ?uestlove of the Roots. “She had written down everything she wanted to do,” Remi said Tuesday.

Only two of the tracks Winehouse wrote were recorded and appear on her compilation album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures, out Dec. 5 in the United Kingdom, and a day later in America. READ FULL STORY

On the Scene: Nicki Minaj and the Roots play Times Square and geek out hard

Last night, Nicki Minaj painted Times Square pink.

Accompanied by the Roots, hip-hop’s most fluorescent femme fatale gave a concert at Manhattan’s Best Buy Theatre to launch Casio’s new Tryx camera.  It was a fun, unpretentious 11-song set, culled mostly from tracks off her debut album, Pink Friday.

The Roots kicked off the affair, blasting their comically schizophrenic, funkadelic sounds. After nearly 20 years, the Roots still remain one of the most immersive live acts to witness in person. The sheer number of bodies on stage can be overwhelming—I mean, where do you look? (Okay, to be fair, you’re probably looking at the Muppet antics of the ever mesmerizing ?uestlove on drums.) READ FULL STORY

Bruce Springsteen booked for 'Jimmy Fallon': Who should his backing band be?

Bruce-SpringsteenImage Credit: Solarpix/PR PhotosBruce Springsteen will visit Late Night With Jimmy Fallon next Tuesday night, Nov. 16, NBC has announced. The Boss is always an engaging interview subject, and with the awesome deluxe reissue of his classic 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town hitting stores that very day, he’ll have lots to talk about. Even better, Springsteen is planning to perform some of the rarities that are being released for the first time on that deluxe reissue and its two-disc counterpart, The Promise. But which band will he be playing with? The network won’t say.

The obvious choice would be Springsteen’s trusty E Street Band. A younger version of the same gang recorded Darkness back in the ’70s, of course, and anyone who’s seen Springsteen in concert with the E Street Band in the last few years knows that they still have an incredible on-stage rapport. This option would be a great one, no question.

But what about the Roots, who will be sitting just feet away from Springsteen on the Late Night stage in their role as house band? They’re one of the most versatile live crews in the land, capable of adapting to virtually any style required. I’m not exactly sure what the Roots would sound like playing Darkness outtakes, but as a fan of both acts I’d be very curious to find out.

Then again, maybe he’ll just be playing solo, or leading some crazy supergroup made up of members from both bands. (Dueling solos from Clarence Clemons and Tuba Gooding Jr.! Garry Tallent locked in a rhythm-section groove with ?uestlove!) At the moment there’s no official answer. So which band would you rather see backing Springsteen on Fallon? Hit the jump to vote in our poll. READ FULL STORY

John Legend and the Roots bring soulful sounds, strong messages, and Jennifer Hudson to NYC's Terminal 5

JOHN-LEGEND-ROOTSLike that one cool teacher we all had way back when, John Legend and the Roots schooled a sold out crowd at New York City’s Terminal 5 last night. Promoting their collaborative release Wake Up!, comprised mostly of Civil Rights-fueled ‘60s and ‘70s covers, the soul crooner and hip-hop’s baddest band in the land ran through several tracks from the new set—as well as a few of Legend’s biggest hits. It was filmed by director Spike Lee and live streamed on Youtube and Vevo as the latest installment in American Express’ Unstaged concert series.

Parting the audience, Legend and the Roots entered like a New Orleans marching band and stepped up the stage to open with Curtis Mayfield’s “Hard Times,” their hard-hitting cut where John plays the part of a man surrounded neighbors who are quietly racist towards him. The song, like many others from their album embodied the evening’s lesson: Yeah, these songs were inspired from music created during the Civil Rights movement decades ago. But as much as things have changed, they’ve also stayed the same. As a U.S. flag waved in the background, Legend coolly sang Mike James Kirkland’s encouraging classic “Hang on in There.” The song’s breakdown, which included some spoken words about how Legend couldn’t turn his back on his friends or his country, did fall on some deaf ears, though.

“They better play some of their old stuff,” said one disgruntled man to his date. Presumably, he came for a more lighthearted show and not a Wake Up! call to action rally. Others also used some of the show’s most thoughtful moments to talk amongst themselves. It’s already tough to perform a record that came out two days before. Combine that with it being one rife with heavy messages and like a high school history lesson, the audience tuned out.

Eventually they got what they wanted. Legend dipped into his stash of R&B hits and pulled out his upbeat suggestive jam “Green Light.” Then the Roots brought out English siren Estelle for “You Got Me.” The crowd was alive and attentive again. From then on, there were no letdowns. In a white shirt, black vest, and matching sunglasses, Common joined songstress Melanie Fiona on stage for “Wake Up,” earning the night’s biggest applause.

As the lights dimmed, Legend followed with his biggest hit to date, “Ordinary People.” But just when people thought they got their money’s worth and were just about set to go, the encore brought the night’s biggest surprise guest. A slender Jennifer Hudson glided out to sing Walter Hawkins’ “Be Grateful” along with John.

Fans usually come to concerts to escape from the day’s harsh realities. Instead tonight John and the Roots smacked their audience with unabashed truth, still managing to make them groove. Racism’s still alive. Poverty exists within our boarders. And there is a war going on. I guess everything sounds better to Questlove’s beat.

Watch them perform “I Can’t Write Left Handed” and “Compared To What” after the jump.

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Amy Winehouse and ?uestlove: Supergroup in the making?

questlove-winehouseImage Credit: Chago Akii-bua; Mischa RichterDoes ?uestlove ever sleep? Fresh off last week’s release of the Roots’ best album in several years, the hip-hop band’s drummer/mastermind is already teasing his next dream project: a supergroup consisting of himself and troubled wailer Amy Winehouse. This would be on top of the Roots’ Late Night With Jimmy Fallon job and their upcoming collaborative album with John Legend. Like I said, dude stays grinding.

?uestlove spilled the beans in an interview with Spinner at the Toronto Jazz Festival, where the Roots performed on Tuesday. He said international red tape is the only thing preventing him and Winehouse from jamming together. “[The supergroup is] definitely going to happen — it’s just that we have to work overtime to get her visa situation together,” he promised. “The closest she can come to the States is Jamaica.” He hopes to discuss this face-to-face with Winehouse when the Roots hit France next week. ‘Til then, they plan to continue “Skype-ing the s— out of each other.”

Until that visa issue is resolved, this may be more aspiration than reality. It’s a pretty awesome idea, though. All the drama in Winehouse’s personal life hasn’t made me one bit less eager to hear her follow up 2006′s Back to Black. If anything, sad to say, that kind of hard-lived experience could make her music even more compelling. And ?uestlove would be a brilliant choice to draw that quality out on record. As a drummer and producer, he’s helped coax amazing albums out of complicated personalities like D’Angelo and Al Green.

What do you think of this potential pairing? Anyone else psyched for ?uestlove and Amy Winehouse to team up?

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Eminem debuts at the top of the Billboard 200 chart

eminemImage Credit: Frank Micelotta/Getty ImagesAs we reported yesterday, Eminem‘s Recovery debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling an incredible 741,000 copies in its first week. It’s the biggest first week sales of 2010 and Em’s sixth No. 1 debut. Last week’s No. 1, Drake‘s Thank Me Later, drops to No. 2 with 157,000. This week’s second highest debut is Miley Cyrus’ Can’t Be Tamed. It enters at No. 3 with 102,000 albums sold. Ozzy Osbourne’s Scream sits at No. 4 with 81,000, giving him his seventh top 10 album. The Now 34 compilation falls one slot to No. 5 with 55,000 sets sold. The week’s final top 10 debut is the Roots’ How I Got Over, moving in at No. 6 with 51,000 albums sold.

Former chart-topper, Jack Johnson’s To The Sea sinks two spots to No. 7 with 44,000 albums sold. Selling 43,000 copies, Justin Bieber’s My World 2.0 drops one position to No. 8. Sarah McLachlan’s Laws of Illusion almost falls out of the top 10, going from No. 3 to No. 9 with 38,000 copies sold. And the Twilight: Eclipse soundtrack closes out the top 10, falling four slots to No. 10 with 38,000 albums sold.

Surprised Em’s album did so well? Did you buy it? What did you think of it? Let us know.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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REM reissues Fables of the Reconstruction: Exclusive preview!
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The Roots enlist Joanna Newsom, John Legend, Jim James for new album

Roots-Joanna-NewsomImage Credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images;Annabel MehranHere’s your random yet awesome music news of the day: A rep for the Roots confirms exclusively to the Music Mix that Joanna Newsom, John Legend, and My Morning Jacket/Monsters of Folk’s Jim James will all appear on the Roots’ upcoming album How I Got Over.

It’s been ten months since the Roots debuted that album’s excellent title track on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, and the rest of the record has yet to appear. That’s okay — we fans are willing to wait, and we all know the Roots are busy with their day late night job. Still, the delay has made me, for one, desperate for any new information about How I Got Over. Last night, Roots drummer ?uestlove dropped just such a tantalizing crumb on Twitter: “yes indeed we are working hard on #HOWIGOTOVER (first look) mixing the Joanna Newsome Jawn.” Could that possibly mean what I thought it meant? Yep! Now we know it’s true: The brilliant indie harpist and the baddest hip-hop band in the land will be together on wax at last.

This combination is as cool as it is unexpected. Just imagine the possibilities: Newsom could sing a hook like no other, sure. Or she could pluck out a counter-melody to Captain Kirk’s guitar and Tuba Gooding Jr.’s Sousaphone on her harp. Or maybe, just maybe, she could get a verse to herself, or trade lines with Black Thought “Double Trouble”-style. After all, Newsom’s complex rhyme schemes often feel closer to hip-hop than anything in typical indie rock. (UPDATE: The Roots’ camp clarifies that the song in question samples one of Newsom’s old songs — from this in-studio teaser clip ?uesto just posted, it sounds like 2004′s “The Book of Right-On” — but that Newsom has also recorded new vocal over-dubs for this track.)

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