Thursday, April 24, 2014

Live Review: Zucchero @ The Theater at MSG

Zucchero may not be a household name in the United States, but outside of these boarders, he is one of the world's most popular musicians and has been for the last four decades. The Italian blues singer and guitarist has sold out arenas all over the world and over 40 million records, yet, he is still, surprisingly,  an unknown here. Zucchero could be considered Italy's Santana, a phenomenal guitarist and songwriter, but also, someone with a unique voice. He has currently been on tour in the U.S. supporting his latest record, La SesiĆ³n Cubana, a record of Cuban influence and even hears him sing in both Spanish and Italian, had his landmark concert on Wednesday night at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Zucchero has worked with everyone from Ray Charles to Miles Davis to Bono, Eric Clapton, Pavarotti, B.B. King, Brian Wilson, Sheryl Crow, Jeff Beck and a slew of others, he is a musicians musician. Now, for his special New York City gig, he brought out his long contact list that included Italian rapper Jovanotti, Sting, Sam Moore, Chris Botti, Italian singer Elisa, Mexican singer Fher, and many more. In a gig that was supposed to include Nile Rodgers and Dolores O'Riordan, who seemed to have cancelled before the gig, there was still no shortage of star power. The Theater at Madison Square Garden felt like a cross between United Nations and an audience at a World Cup match. While a majority of the intimate room were filled with people of Italian heritage, including myself, it was also filled with many people from Central and South America, various parts of Europe, and of course, North America. It was diversity at its finest but also showcasing that music is our universal language and Zucchero was the maestro of our native tongue.

Opening the show promptly 8p.m. with just a spotlight shining on him, Zucchero was alone on stage with just his guitar performing "Il Suono Della Domenica" and "Alla Fine" before his 11-piece band kicked in and brought the room to life. In a three hour set that included his massive Italian hits, English songs, and Latin tracks, Zucchero took us around the world without leaving the room. As he brought out guests like Irene, Elisa, Fiorella Mannola, the party was just getting started. Once Fher arrived, it took the show to a new level. Bringing in a much more harder rock with Spanish flair sound to the show, everyone was on their feet. As Fher left the stage, a gospel choir entered to sing backing vocals for most of the evening. Then, Jovanotti arrived to perform his duet "Il  Mare," which also included snippets of his song, "New York For Life." As Jovanotti brought a new attitude to the room, Chris Botti arrived to showcase his trumpeting skills. With all of these guests, it would seem that Zucchero would be upstaged by his own friends, however, it was the contrary. He seemed honored and more energized than what would be a regular gig. As Zucchero's international friends showcased why New York is America's biggest melting pot, the legendary Sam Moore of Sam & Dave arrived to sing "You Are So Beautiful" and "Soul Man." As Moore tried to speak Italian with Zucchero, the two reminisced about their time working with Ray Charles which brought the night to a touching moment. After Moore left the stage, Zucchero and his band took over again until the end of their first set, which featured Jovanotti arrive again to mash-up Zucchero's "Diavolo In Me," Chic's "Good Times" and Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight." After a brief break, Zucchero returned to the stage with his good friend, Sting, who came on to sing his duet, "Muoio Per Te" and his classic Police track, "Every Breath You Take." As the night's biggest singer may have gotten the loudest cheers, it was still Zucchero's night and the reason we all came together under one sound.

Great Soundtrack: 'Hanna'

The Chemical Brothers have been EDM and techno pioneers and legends since their heyday in the mid-90's yet, it took until 2011 for someone like director Joe Wright to have them score a film. The film would eventually be the girl-power badass action thriller, Hanna. The score, like it's blockbuster cast featuring Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Saoirse Ronan, packs a significant punch that unleashes a digital sound score over some fantastic action-storytelling. With the English DJ duo counting this soundtrack as one of their own releases like Dig Your Own Hole and Surrender, it makes us wonder, why hasn't Chemical Brothers scored more films since? And, since it is a record that stands on it's own, it is one of the duo's best work in years.

Recommended Reading: Tearing Down The Wall of Sound

Phil Spector will probably go down in history as the greatest music producer of all time. Working with everyone from The Crystals to The Ronettes to The Beatles to The Ramones. Spector and his famous "Wall of Sound" have become synonymous with great music.  By 18, he had a No. 1 hit and a bright future, then over the years his antics and bizarre behavior began to outshine his fame until 2003, when he hit the tabloids as the man who killed an unknown actress in his home. Spector's life is the stuff of legends and the script that any award winning writer wishes they penned. In 2008, author Mick Brown beat everyone to the punch and released Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector. 

Brown's book chronicles Spector's life as a young New York mastermind who found a way to capitalize on pop music and make a sound that he wanted to hear. From crafting his in demand sound and style, Spector changed pop music forever. Yet, with every genius comes a dark side and Brown explores that deeply in his book. If you are a fan of Spector's work or of music in general, this is a must read.

Live Pix: Metal Alliance Tour @ Irving Plaza

On Saturday, April 19, The Metal Alliance Tour with Behemoth, Goatwhore, and Inquisition rolled through NYC and hit Irving Plaza. Our very own RICH D SMOOV was on hand to capture the action. Take a look!

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Quick News

Coldplay will be the subject of their own NBC special on May 18 called Coldplay: Ghost Stories, which will blend live footage from a recent private concert in L.A. with 360-degree imagery.

Led Zeppelin fans should not hold their breath for a reunion of the rock titans as Robert Plant has said their is "Zero chance" that the band will perform again. He made the comments this week to BBC1.

Nas is teaming up with No I.D., Timbaland, Swizz Beats, for his new album. The record, which he said has been inspired by his recent documentary, Time is Illmatic, which chronicles the making of his landmark 1994 debut.

Lenny Kravitz will release his new album, Strut, in September. 

Speaking to Sports Illustrated, RZA has given Raekwon a 30-day window to do his verses for the upcoming Wu-Tang Clan album, A Better Tomorrow, or the album will not come out. RZA said, "The album is slated to come out in July," he said. "If we don't come to terms [with Raekwon], I think, within the next 30 days, then this will either be an album without Raekwon or an album that never sees the light of day. And that's a very strong potential. I would not want to put out a Wu-Tang album without every live member available," he said. "At the same time, I don't want the fans not to have this incredible music that we've been workin' on for the last year. So that's gonna be a tough decision, but we've got about 30 days to make that decision and come to that conclusion."

Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold took to Facebook to give fans an update as to what the band has been doing since they have been on hiatus. He wrote, "For anyone who's curious, this is a short Fleet Foxes update - been a while! So, after the last round of touring, I decided to go back to school. I never got an undergraduate degree, and this felt like the right time to both see what that was about and to try something new after a while in the touring / recording lifestyle. I moved to New York and enrolled at Columbia, and I've mostly been doing that, but I'm working on songs and excited for whatever happens next musically, even if it's down the line. Hope all is well out there."

The Kooks will release their new album, Listen, in September. Take a look at the tracklisting below:
1 Around Town
2 Forgive & Forget
3 Westside
4 See Me Now
5 It Was London
6 Bad Habit
7 Down
8 Dreams
9 Are We Electric
10 Sunrise
11 Sweet Emotion

Foster the People on Kimmel!

 Take a look at Foster The People on Jimmy Kimmel Live! as they performed "Best Friend," and "Are You What You Want To Be?"

Horrors Cover Frankie Knuckles

On Wednesday night's BBC1 Maida Vale Session, Zane Lowe had The Horrors on and they covered Frankie Knuckles, "Your Love." Take a look!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Death on Arsenio!

The band called Death made an appearance on Arsenio last night! Take a look!