NEWS ROUNDUP: Kesha Vs. Dr. Luke, New Music, and MORE

New Motions Filed in Kesha / Dr. Luke Legal Battle

Kesha’s ongoing legal battle with Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald rages on, with a few new developments this week. Though a New York judge sided with Dr. Luke and Sony music following Kesha’s 2014 allegations that the producer had drugged and assaulted her, Dr. Luke is now suing for defamation, and other pop stars have been pulled into the back-and-forth.

Both Lady Gaga and Kesha made statements implying that Dr. Luke had also assaulted Katy Perry, though both Dr. Luke and Perry denied any assault had taken place back in August. This week, Kesha’s lawyers pointed out that this doesn’t mean an assault did not take place, in a response to Gottwald’s summary-judgement motion.

Lady Gaga’s 2017 deposition was also unsealed, and Gaga made some pretty powerful statements in support of Kesha, saying that as a survivor of sexual assault herself, she recognized Kesha’s “depression and fear” as evidence that something terrible had happened between the two. As Luke’s lawyers questioned her testimony, Gaga said they should be ashamed of themselves and that they were all a party to Kesha’s ongoing victimization; and her words are heartening for all survivors of sexual assault: “Well, you know, when men assault women, they don’t invite people over to watch. And when this happens in this industry, it is kept extremely secret, and it is compounded by contracts and manipulative power scenarios that actually include this very situation that we are all in right now…. How about all of the women that are accused of being liars and how she was slut shamed in front of the world, how about that?”

Of course, many have pointed out that while Gaga seems to support assault victims, her willingness to work with accused pedophile R. Kelly sings a different tune. Though Gaga has since apologized for the unfortunately-titled duet “Do What U Want (With My Body)” and removed the 2013 single from streaming platforms, critics say she still has to answer for her collaborations with Chris Brown and photographer Terry Richardson – both of whom have been accused of sexual assault.

Bottom line – though much of the entertainment world is having its Time’s Up moment, the music industry still has a lot of reckoning to do when it comes to the #MeToo movement.

That New New

Rico Nasty burst onto the scene in 2018 with her mixtape Nasty, and so far, 2019 looks promising as well; the rapper’s latest collab with Kenny Beats follows the equally infectious “Guap (LaLaLa).”

Brooklyn post-punks Weeknight have expanded their lineup from a duo to a quartet, opened a bar in Bushwick, and today released their sophomore album Dead Beat Creep.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard took a short break last year after releasing five (!) albums in 2017, but they’re back with a kitschy new video for “Cyboogie.” They haven’t released further details, but it’s likely there’s a new record (maybe even multiple records?) on the horizon from the Australian psych-rockers.

Yves Tumor released a powerful video tackling police brutality for “Noid,” one of our favorite singles from last year’s excellent Safe In The Hands of Love.

Stella Donnelly shared a video for “Lunch,” from her forthcoming Secretly Canadian debut Beware of the Dogs, which arrives March 8th.

Emily Reo will release Only You Can See It, her follow-up to 2013’s Olive Juice, on April 12 via Carpark Records, and has shared the first single, “Strawberry.”

Animal Collective’s Avey Tare (a.k.a. Dave Portner) announced his latest solo album Cows On Hourglass Pond with a new video.

Empress Of has teamed up with Perfume Genius to record a new version of “When I’m With Him.” The track originally appeared on last year’s album Us.

On the heels of last year’s studio album Marauder, Interpol have released a stand-alone single, “Fine Mess,” to drum up more buzz for the world tour.

Dua Lipa released an epic video for “Swan Song,” from the soundtrack to “Swan Song,” from new movie Alita: Battle Angel, which arrives in theaters on Valentine’s Day.

The Chemical Brothers will release their ninth studio album No Geography on April 12, their first LP in three years. They’ve previously shared singles “Free Yourself” and “MAH.”

The Mountain Goats will release their 578142268539th record via Merge on April 26th. It’s called In League With Dragons and is vaguely themed around a wizard doing normal things like attending a Waylon Jennings show and trying out for a baseball team.

Canadian punks PUP share their vision of a dystopian future in a clip for “KIDS,” from their forthcoming album Morbid Stuff, out February 5.

End Notes

  • Ariana Grande got a shitty, culturally appropriative tattoo and surprise! the Chinese characters don’t mean what she thought they meant. Kingsford Charcoal responded with the best troll ever. The singer released a new remix of “7 Rings” featuring 2 Chainz this week.
  • Tekashi 6ix9ine (rapper Daniel Hernandez) pleaded guilty to nine counts including firearms violations and racketeering stemming from his November arrest. His charges could have resulted in a mandatory minimum of 47 years, but his cooperation with authorities to identify members of his alleged gang may yield a lighter sentence. Tekashi was on probation for a 2015 incident in which he appeared in a sex tape involving a minor.
  • There’s an ABC drama in the works that’s based on John Mayer’s song “Heart of Life,” from his 2006 LP Continuum.
  • Cardi B and Offset are back together… for now. The couple welcomed their daughter, Kulture Kiari, in July, but split soon after due to Offset’s reported infidelity. Cardi recently starred in a Pepsi commercial set to air during this Sunday’s Super Bowl, despite having declined to perform in its halftime show out of solidarity with kneeling players.
  • Portishead’s Beth Gibbons and the National Radio Symphony Orchestra will release a live album titled Henryk Górecki: Symphony No. 3 (Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs) on March 29 via Domino; check out the trailer and interactive website detailing the performance.
  • NPR is streaming Jessica Pratt’s new album Quiet Signs ahead of its February 8 release date.
  • LOTR director Peter Jackson is said to be making a documentary about the Beatles’ Let It Be.


Every Thursday, AF profiles a style icon from the music world. This week’s icon is Lorely Rodriguez, the Brooklynite better known as Empress Of. She made her rounds at CMJ 2013 and stole our hearts with her dreamy pop and feminine menswear.

Though relatively new to the music scene, Empress Of is already stealing our hearts. Her hits like “Champagne” and “Hat Trick” have the perfect combination of dreamy ’90s pop and new-age synthesizers to get a crowd to hang on her every note during performances. And then there is her clothing. She combines oversized blazers with awesome print pants to accentuate her tiny frame. Who doesn’t love a good pant? Other times, she’s sporting button-ups, and there’s usually a collar involved. It’s business meets girly, much like her music. While we wait for her to rise to stardom on the radio, we’ll be busy ordering every peter pan collar shirt ModCloth will let us buy. Check out our Pinterest page for ideas on how to nab Rodriguez’s sweet style.

Before you do, listen to “Realize You”, one of our faves from the talented beauty, here via Soundcloud:

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LIVE REVIEW: Daniel James, Empress Of & SOHN

Empress Of

It’s winter in Brooklyn, make no mistake.  The lovely, mild autumn we knew only weeks ago has been replaced by bitter, brutal winds hellbent on penetrating every last layer of coats and sweaters to sink into our frozen bones.  But every season has a soundtrack; we can’t listen to beachy pop all year round.  And because humans have unwisely adapted to function through winters without hibernating, there are still plenty of shows to go to.

For those of us that brave the chill, there are rewards to be had.  You see, every once in a while, a song comes into my life at the exact moment that I need to hear it.  Everything clicks thematically, from the visions and sentiments the lyrics evoke, to musical arrangements that marry emotional and atmospheric elements completely outside the music itself.  The three bands that played Glasslands last night embodied the dark, lonesome winter I’m slowly settling into, warming it just a little.

The first of those acts was London-based singer-songwriter Daniel James, originally from Northern Ireland.  James manages to execute a huge sound as a soloist, one that similar bands enlist six or seven members to pull off.  The tracks he’s released via Soundcloud borrow from folk, gospel, and dabble in electronica.  Live though, James is left to his own devices – soaring vocals, acoustic guitar, and percussion by way of stomping on a drum pedal.  What the stripped down live set-up loses in orchestral production, it gains in soul.  In the course of providing his own backing beats, James grows so breathless he can barely sing, but his voice never falters.

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Daniel James
Daniel James mid-stomp

James has an endearing stage personality that goes beyond his accent; he is funny and gracious and warm, and the audience was extremely receptive.  There’s a weight to his songs that you might not expect based on his easy laugh and genuine smile.  For every yearning love song (and there are plenty), there’s an impassioned political call to arms or a narrative drawing parallels to the struggle of slavery.  Sonically, James owes a lot to acts like Timber Timbre or Fleet Foxes, but if his set was any indication, he’s more than able to pay down that debt, even without a full band.

James was followed by Empress Of, the moniker of Lorely Rodriguez.  Her synthy, sparkling EP Systems and a handful of CMJ appearances have generated a lot of buzz for the Brooklyn-based artist.  While Systems presents Rodriguez as a precious, otherworldly performer – the cover portrait makes her look like a Greek bust, her vocals are layered with angelic reverb  – she’s much less fragile in person.  Her quirkiness comes through in the compositional choices she makes.  Her awkward stage banter places her solidly on planet Earth.  And her voice possesses a power that’s shocking when untouched by production, approaching the complexity and strength of Bjork’s wildest shrieks.

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Empress Of
Empress Of

She mostly sticks to tweaking those vocals electronically, looping and distorting them at appropriate moments.  Accompanied by a live drummer as well as a synth player, she was otherwise free to move with her own beats, swirling her arms above her head.  Technical difficulties from her road-weary mic frustrated her slightly, but she carried on.  “This is my last show of the year,” Rodriguez explained, a note of regret in her voice.  “But that’s ’cause  I’m gonna make a record.”  She was met with excited shouts and applause from the audience, which at this point was pretty packed in.  That new album holds a lot of promise; the strongest songs she played were totally new, introduced in the last half of the set.  Gradually, people in the crowd began shedding layers, forgetting the frigid temperatures outside.

London-via-Vienna producer SOHN kept the audience moving, but brought back decidedly heavier moods.  Having built a reputation on a sporadic stream of solid singles released on Soundcloud, SOHN is absolutely poised to release one of the best records of next year.  He’s a master of the build-up, knowing just how much to hold back, and just how dramatic a crescendo of synths can be when tethered by skittering percussion or chopped vocals.  It’s the vocals, really, that are the kicker, existing in the same realm as Justin Timberlake, How To Dress Well, The Weeknd or Rhye (who SOHN has remixed).  SOHN’s falsetto is heartbreaking enough on its own, but when it’s expressing the kinds of distress and disorientation highlighted in most recent single “Bloodflows” for instance, by repeating the forlorn line “My love my love my love don’t love me” it’s almost too much to handle.  In the next moments that line is hacked to pieces and collaged over an insistent back beat, providing relief from shared anguish.

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SOHN at Glasslands
SOHN finishing out the night

When SOHN’s set ended, the room was pulsating, but the cold was waiting outside.  SOHN, Empress Of, and Daniel James had all done their part to drive out the bleakness of the oncoming winter, and had succeeded in unique ways.  James brought heartfelt songcraft, and Empress Of’s burbling beats and virtuoso vocals, followed by SOHN’s thick synth layers were enough to thaw the frostiest showgoers.  At the same time, each act’s set was threaded through with dark underpinnings that reflect the hollowness of colder weather, either through afflicted lyrics or electronic arrangements that crystalize around a solemn motif.  Even if sunny summer jams don’t feel appropriate in November, there’s no shortage of songs that sound just right beneath our heavy blankets.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]