Category: New Album

Rita Wilson is tuning up with a new album, Troubadour show

Rita Wilson's filmography is peppered with pop music, including "Raise Your Voice" (in which she played the mother of an aspiring singer) and the big-screen version of "Mamma Mia!" (which she and her husband, Tom Hanks, executive produced). Next week the L.A. native takes the mike herself with "AM/FM," an album featuring interpretations of 14 hits from the 1960s and ’70s. Wilson spoke with Pop & Hiss ahead of her gig Friday night at the Troubadour.

You picked some great songs for "AM/FM": "Wichita Lineman," the Supremes’ "Come See About Me," "Never My Love" by the Association. Choosing what to sing must have taken forever.

Completely. We started with a lot of songs -- at least 100, maybe more. I looked at each song as a monologue: What is this person trying to say?

Did that make you hear anything in a new way?

I grew up a first-generation American, and my mom drilled into us that our reputations were so important. So "Angel of the Morning," when I first heard it as a teenager, I thought it was sung from a teenager's point of view. It was this story about a young girl who decides to sleep with this guy; then it's the reality of, ‘Oh my God -- he didn't really love me!’ When I started recording it, I thought of it differently: This could be a woman who's had a whole life, and now she's just longing for some kind of companionship.

The album's title implies a relationship with the radio. How do you discover new music?

I still use the radio -- FM and XM [satellite radio]. I also have kids, so they keep me fresh on some of the current music.

Your son Chester scored a viral rap hit last year under the name Chet Haze. Should we expect to see a family band soon?

Yes, we're touring as the Hanks 5 [laughs]. When they were growing up, I was pretty adamant that they take music lessons. I didn't try to tell them what instrument to learn, so they tried different things: trumpet, piano, bass, drums. But they all still play music, and that was the goal.


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-- Mikael Wood

Photo: Actress/singer Rita Wilson performs onstage during Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XIII held at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. Credit: Mike Moore / Getty Images

Tim Kasher of Cursive explains the concept behind 'I Am Gemini'

Tim Kasher of Cursive talks the unveiling of new concept album "I Am Gemini"
Cursive fans are used to hearing frontman Tim Kasher scream tales of torture and crushing self-doubt, all while attempting to offer sobering life lessons. But when his band decided to go the concept album route for its latest release, the destructive love affairs and carnival metaphors of earlier albums such as "Domestica" and "The Ugly Organ" were replaced with a look at the darker side of a sibling rivalry.

The core of new album "I Am Gemini," released today via Saddle Creek, tells a surreal and psychoanalytic tale of twin brothers separated at birth, Cassius and Pollock. One is good and the other is evil, and their unexpected reunion in a creepy house ignites nothing short of a struggle for the soul, played out with a cast of supporting characters that includes a chorus of angels and devils, as well as twin sisters conjoined at the head.

Even for a band that has reveled in a mix of post-punk rage and esoteric prose, "I Am Gemini" elevated the group's songwriting to dramatic extremes, Kasher joked in a recent phone coversation.

"We’ve always recognized ourselves as a very pretentious band, as far as our presentation, and this is probably the most excessive it’s gotten," Kasher said. "So I was approaching it much more as a musical than a rock opera."

Those who missed out on tickets to the band's sold-out Troubadour show Friday can catch Cursive at an Amoeba in-store Thursday at 7 p.m. Below, Kasher discusses the album's concept and how he embraced his inner playwright.

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Jack White debuts 'Love Interruption' from upcoming solo album

Jack White debuts new song,

On Monday afternoon, Jack White posted "Love Interruption," a new song (posted after the jump) from his forthcoming solo debut, "Blunderbuss," which is out April 24 -- but not to be confused, mind you, with the faux film/music festival of the same name mentioned in an episode of "Portlandia."

"Love Interruption," which opens with some strumming and mellow woodwind touches, is a striking first song that shows off White's gift for tension, but without the full-throttle force of his work in the White Stripes or his latest stormy project with Alison Mosshart, the Dead Weather. If anything, "Love Interruption" sounds like what his other band the Raconteurs might make while brewing morning coffee, the regrets of the previous night leaving a bitter aftertaste.

The lyrics are plenty violent, delivered by White and a female singer who twists her shaky voice around such lines as "I want love to stick a knife inside me... walk right up and bite me... murder my own mother." So, with cheery lines like that, maybe don't expect this song to be playing over the pivotal scene in a swoony rom-com anytime soon.

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Zechs Marquise celebrate 'Getting Paid' release at Low End Theory

  Zechs Marquise banks on a new sound for sophomore album "Getting Paid"

Thrusting listeners into chase scenes through psychedelic dreamscapes is nothing new for El Paso prog rock instrumentalists Zechs Marquise. However, the major difference on their latest album, “Getting Paid” (out Wednesday on Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Productions via Sargent House), isn't the fear of being chased, but of what's running up behind you.  

Through the incorporation of boom bap beats and sci-fi funk, the images of creepy, red-eyed specters haunting their first album, “Our Delicate Stranded Nightmare,” have been replaced by '70s mobsters, Kung Fu assassins and gun-toting Willie Dynamite lookalikes.

And while it’s not hard to see where Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez and his brothers Marcel and Rikardo garner much of their influence (their older brother is psych rock demigod Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of The Mars Volta), “Getting Paid” adds more concise rhythmic formulas into their Latin-spiked jam band roots.

It makes sense when you consider their longtime friendships and cross pollinations in the underground L.A.  beat scene with artists like DJ Nobody, Daedelus and Busdriver. So much so that the news that they’ll be holding their album release party Wednesday as part of the Low End Theory at the Airliner seems like a natural choice.

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Björk announces release date for new album 'Biophilia,' unveils a super-expensive 'Ultimate Edition'


It may be about two months away yet, but the four-year wait for Björk's new album now has an increasingly bright light at the end of the tunnel. On Tuesday, the Icelandic art-pop queen announced that "Biophilia" would be released Sep. 27 via Nonesuch/One Little Indian.

Following the re-launch of the album's website last month, the kaleidoscopic, electro dreamscapes of new songs "Crystalline" and "Cosmogony" have whetted fans' appetites. Toying with our quenchless thirst for interactive tablet technology, an app version of the album with mind-bending visual interpretations of the songs is available on iTunes today.

Of course, the ballyhooed return of Björk hasn't come without its share of old-school decadence. Allow us to introduce you to the "Ultimate Edition" of the new album. If you've got the cash, this $800 (!) package is all you need to declare your supreme allegiance to your swan dress-wearing idol. But what could you possibly get for that amount of dough?

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Gucci Mane makes a forceful 'Appeal' on his new album


In 2010, three of the top MCs in mainstream rap have had major career turning points thwarted by legal drama. T.I., Lil Wayne and Gucci Mane have dealt with it in very different ways.

After a jail term resulting from 2007 gun charges, T.I. slipped up again last month when he was arrested on drug possession charges, just as his feature film “Takers” was topping the box office. (He will learn Oct. 15 whether his probation will be revoked and whether he has to return to prison.) After releasing the world-beating “Tha Carter III” and his poorly received rock album “Rebirth,” Lil Wayne nursed his active online personality from Rikers Island, where he’s serving a term on other gun-related charges, and released an odd collection of pre-jail tracks, “I Am Not a Human Being.”

Radric Davis, the 30-year-old Atlantan who raps as Gucci Mane, finished a six-month term in May for a parole violation stemming from assault charges. But unlike his peers, after his release, the droll and gruff-voiced rapper promptly cut his most confident and revealing album yet.

Davis’ jail stint forms the psychological backdrop of “The Appeal: Georgia’s Most Wanted,” his third full-length. But instead of a grim narrative of confinement, the subject is instead ground both for triumph and serious self-assessment. On the patio of the W hotel in Hollywood, nursing a glass of his favorite (and recipe-indeterminate) lemonade concoction, Davis admitted that the clink offers plenty of time to reevaluate what matters.

“I changed a lot in there,” Davis said. “I know this is serious now and I have a lot to get off my chest. This record is painful and gothic and epic, but it’s the soundtrack of my past.”

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First Listen: Impressions of Neil Young's 'Le Noise' (upon hearing it at Daniel Lanois' house)

Photo Nearly every decade since Neil Young launched a solo career in 1968, the Canadian rocker has put out a watershed album with which he’s upped the ante for himself.  In 1969, it was his sophomore effort, which first paired him with Crazy Horse, “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.” In 1979, punk rock was powerfully on his mind in “Rust Never Sleeps,” while 1989 brought “Freedom,” in which he fully assumed his latter-day role as  a state-of-the-union messenger about what’s right, and wrong, in America.

“Silver & Gold,” which was recorded in 1999 but didn’t surface until four months into the following year, didn’t quite hit the same level of accomplishment, but with “Le Noise,” which will be released Sept. 28, Young's peaking in yet another decade, and just a few months behind schedule for keeping his streak going for years ending in 9.

The title is a wink to his collaborator, musician-songwriter-producer Daniel Lanois, who premiered the album Tuesday night for a few dozen friends, music journalists, bloggers and L.A. music world denizens at his home overlooking Silver Lake.

The assembled group packed into the living room of the early 20th century mansion on the hillside, a voluntarily captive audience for Young’s subtly subversive method of forcing listeners to hear it for the first time the way he intended: on a first-class sound system, in the dark, no distractions.

What’s striking about “Le Noise” is the way it both summarizes and distills Young’s singular approach to music, predominantly just Neil and a guitar: his big, white hollow-body Gretsch electric slashing and burning for most of the tracks, a couple built around picked and strummed acoustic instruments. Both are recorded and amplified -- literally and metaphorically -- by Lanois’ signature soundscapes that  loop vocals, and enhance the guitars’ bass notes through distortion boxes, synthesizers and other electronics.

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The minimal sound and maximum heart of Janka Nabay's Bubu music

The last thing the Sierra Leone musician Janka Nabay did before fleeing his country's civil war more than a decade ago was to lay down a few ebullient and entrancing tracks of his native Bubu music. They're getting an unlikely release next month on the Matador imprint True Panther, and it's a must-hear for anybody interested in Africa, techno, agit-punk or gleeful dancing in summertime. Which should hopefully include all of you.

Aside from being a delightful genre name to say aloud, Nabay has updated Bubu music from the traditional, flute-rooted folk songs of the area to breakneck rhythms played on sun-scarred keyboards and chintzy drum machines. The results are unexpectedly rich and pristine, and its hypnotic qualities are perfectly foiled by the urgency in his sing-speak vocals demanding gender equality and political reform. Little glimmers of harmony and electric guitar brighten the edges, making his "Bubu King" EP -- a collection of decade-old tracks never released outside Sierra Leone -- one of the most singular and enticingly new (well, new to America) sounds of recent months.

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'Psychic City': YACHT'S new single remixed by Hot Chip's Joe Goddard


Things have changed in the YACHT household: leader-founder Jona Bechtolt has been joined by former Angeleno Claire L. Evans, who used to play in the Smell staple band Weirdo Begeirdo, an almost-unlistenable study in chaos theory. They also released a new album, "See Mystery Lights," on July 28, and they've cooked up a host of side treats for those who think albums are so Whitney Houston circa 1985. Oops, we mean circa right now.

As a companion piece to "See Mystery Lights," YACHT has compiled a mixtape, "Anthem of the Trinity," that  packages their influences in 37 minutes (thanks, guys -- you know how to make a journalist's job easy). Named for the spooky-beautiful Terry Riley song, the mixtape also includes plenty of populist fare, with Nirvana's "Negative Creep," Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House," Harry Nilsson's "Jump Into the Fire," INXS' "New Sensation" and T-Pain's "I'm N Luv (Wit a Stripper)."

Lest you think that's all YACHT has in store, the Portland, Ore., band has also released an instrumental-only version of "See Mystery Lights." According to their statement, the songs can be used in "karaoke performances, confessional YouTube soundtracks, student films, personal analysis, atmospheric music, cover versions, chopping and screwing, or just to listen to if you don't enjoy YACHT's vocal performances."

We're digging all of that, but better still is this remix of YACHT's single "Psychic City" from Hot Chip's Joe Goddard. This is a chilly-sweet slice of minimal futurism. If it's not playing in some airport terminal soon -- a la Brian Eno, who occasionally gets played near the neon art at Chicago's O'Hare -- somebody's not doing something right.

-- Margaret Wappler

Photo courtesy Sarah Meadows

Why is Third Eye Blind so popular again?

Third Eye Blind

Most artists with an inkling that their new album might top the charts probably lie awake the night before its release like a kid expecting an air rifle on Christmas morning. But Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins practically snoozed right through it.

“We just got back from touring Indonesia, and last week we played the Fox in Oakland, which is kind of our hometown. And we played the new album and had a huge party afterwards,” said Jenkins. “I fell asleep and woke up to someone from our label calling me to say, ‘I can’t believe you’re sleeping through a No. 1 record!’ ”

 “Ursa Major,” the pop-rock band’s newest album of effervescent choruses and vinegary machine-gun lyricism, topped the iTunes album chart last week and should be a strong contender for the same slot on the Billboard album charts this week (it was released last Tuesday).

But Third Eye Blind’s late success begs a certain question -- what’s the band doing there at all? “Ursa” is its first album in six years, out on its own label and with no trendsetting winds in its sails.

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