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.

LIVE REVIEW: Cass McCombs @ Bowery Ballroom

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Of the many adjectives one could foist upon musicians, “pure” does not top the heap. And yet no word could ring more true when describing Cass McCombs’ set at the Bowery Ballroom last Thursday. And when I say “pure,” I do not mean chaste or innocent, but pure in form. Unadulterated. Music for music’s sake, void of frills, gimmicks, and needless chatter.

Opening the evening were Soldiers Of Fortune, a band (or as their bandcamp page declares, an ANTI-BAND!) with incredible stamina given their 12-year history. Often described as a sort of “indie rock supergroup” (Brooklyn Vegan), Soldiers Of Fortune includes members of already successful bands such as Oneida, Interpol, and Chavez to name just a few. Wordlessly taking the stage, they built a layer cake of sound over a span of 45 minutes. Without stopping. Drummer Kid Millions (Oneida) was a sort of charismatic focal point-an odd role for a drummer to be sure. Kid jostled around with a playful Davey Jones air, yelping inspired nonsense throughout the epic “song.” I’d hate to describe SOF as a jam band, due to the horrendous connotations (PHISH!), however it is difficult to think of any other brand with which to stamp them. I suppose this is why labels are so discouraged in the arts.

In a pre-show interview, again from Brooklyn Vegan, McCombs expressed a desire for the evening to be a warmer for the cold weather…a kind of “wintertime orgy,” as he put it. Unfortunately for McCombs, the only sex appeal omitted that night was provided entirely by him. Watching from dead center of the balcony, I cast a wide sight on the at-capacity crowd, and much to the dismay of a hopeful orgy conductor, things were a bit stiff. (No. Not like that, perverts.) Aside from Cass’s effortless magnetism, the most sensual antic the audience could muster came from the boisterous woman to my right, shout-singing the lyrics to “Proud Mary” over a song that was anything but. Meeeeowww.

But I digress. Wasn’t this show about the purity of form? The Music? That’s right. Much like SOF, McComb’s played a nearly banter-less set, pausing between songs only a couple of times for a “thank you” or “peace.” So the fact that he and his band (including Jon Shaw, Dan Iead, and not one, but two drummers) played a two-hour-plus selection of tunes. Thrown in the mix were such greats as “Robin Egg Blue,” “Brighter,” and “Big Wheel.” Naturally, the encore was as aimless and unpredictable as a troubadour like McCombs would have it – just one big “jam.” McCombs actually is a big Phish fan, which might dock his sexy points. But not that much.

But Phish or no Phish, shouting par-drunken fans falling into me or not, nothing can spoil McCombs’s allure, let alone detract from the quality of his songs. He truly has what makes a great musician, solely on these grounds, but goes further with regards to value. He recently threw a benefit for Bernie Sanders, and his ballad for Bradley Manning surfaced on the acclaimed news program Democracy Now. Sex appeal and substance? Yes please.

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PREVIEW: Who to Catch at Governor’s Ball

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Governor’s Ball is New York’s rain or shine music festival that is the official kick off of the summer. We all love to hate it, and hate to love it. There’s twelve dollar Foster beers, long-ass ferry lines, and kids on weird drugs. Most importantly though, there is always an awesome bill . I think the thing I enjoy most about the Governor’s Ball lineups, is how perfectly curated they are to hit every type listener. Here’s AF’s picks on who to make sure NOT to miss this year. It’s two weeks away, who are you excited to see?

Diarrhea Planet

These Nashville boys are playing the festival on Saturday. Diarrhea Planet definitely fits in the mold of what’s happening in Brooklyn right now. The grungy catchy punk-rock sound that is both serious (in the sound department) yet fun party music at the same time. This set is bound to get rowdy. Here’s a track called “Hot Spit” from their new EP Tama-Uba.

Deafheaven

Deafheaven is black metal band based in San Francisco. Most people wouldn’t place theatrical and metal in the same sentence, but that’s exactly what they encapsualte. If you like hard hitting music, as well as fast-paced and engaging sets, you’re going to kick yourself if you miss their set on Saturday. Below is their most popular track  “Dream House.”

SKATERS

The femmes are most definitely fans of local boys, SKATERS. Their new album, MANHATTAN, has been on repeat on my Spotify since it’s release in February. Below is their video “Miss Teen Massachusetts,” where the boys are basically trapped in, working at, and patients of a mental institution. Their set on Sunday will definitely be a dance party.

The Strokes

What new and sassy thing can I possibly say about the Strokes that hasn’t already been written on a music blog? I’m not sure. But I love them, a lot. They’re one of the headliners for Saturday. Find me in the crowd during their set, we can dance to Last Nite together. This is my favorite track off their first record.

Spoon

I first discovered Spoon in my Freshman year of High School from one of The O.C. Mixes. Yup, the truth comes out 8 years later, but I’m not ashamed. Formed in 1993, with 7 albums and 11 years under their belt, Spoon cannot be tamed. They’re one of the main Saturday acts, and I definitely think you’re going to want to be up close for this one, folks.

Interpol

Similar to Spoon, Interpol has been around for a long ass time as well. Adding to the Sunday bill a long list of gut punching sing a longs. Out Love To Admire from 2007 is definitely on the list of albums I have completely overplayed. Here’s my favorite song off of it:

Drowners

NYC based heartthrobs with a sprinkling of Brits, yeah yeah yeah we get it. Their lyrics are emotional (wannabe Morissey in the best way possible), and your songs are catchy and pop goodness. Playing around the boroughs often in little venues and bars, I am extremely curious to see how The Drowner’s sound will translate on Friday. My guess, is smashingly. Their video for Luv, Hold Me Down is perfect representation of what I’m talking about. Enjoy.

Washed Out

This band never fails to make me feel ALL of the feels. Their songs all mesh into one long performance of swaying with your eyes closed. Although all possess a different type of sound, when heard, each album screams “this is a Washed Out album.” Their set will be one filled with every type of music listener. Below is my favorite video of theirs, but I am warning you not to watch it if you are emotionally unstable. Seriously.

Outkast

Although their set at Coachella didn’t receive the best reviews, I honestly do not care. I really just want to sing a long every word of Roses, ok? I also strongly believe that seeing Outkast live is one of those things you’re supposed to write on your bucket list. This video is still golden 11 years later.

DEMO REVIEW + EXCLUSIVE: Violet Machine

VM StageViolet Machine, a recently-formed indie rock quartet from Brooklyn makes music that inspires nostalgia for the early 00s.  You remember, that one year Interpol hit the scene and provided NYC’s newest batch of millennial transplants with a soundtrack that, for most of us, will never ever lose its meaning or cease to make our hearts pound when we hear it? Many bands tried to follow in their footsteps; tried to scale those same illustrious heights the New York darlings managed to conquer within a matter of years, thanks to two momentous albums.

Most failed miserably at the task of building on the foundation Interpol laid, because their specific brand of drawling, brash, stripped-down indie rock just sounds derivative at best unless every musician in the band can deliver on the underlying conceit of the songs they’re writing. And this requires more talent than most possess. Subsequently, the tunes often fall flat, so to speak.

Violet Machine emerged onto the Brooklyn indie circuit early this year, and within a few months, breathed life into, and provided direction for a genre that had lost its way over the last decade. In essence, they are achieving what so many before them failed to. Their demo comes out next week, and promises everything we’ve been missing: the perfect balance of instrumental complexity and gripping, affected vocals that capture the attention of the listener and transport them into another world of city lights, heartbreak, longing…all those motifs that most artists seek inspiration from, but can never really in turn, transform into sources of inspiration unto themselves.

The first track off their demo, “Starlight”, begins with what could be construed as a formulaic, gritty and textured minor chord progression underpinned by catchy drums. Until that is, the vocals come in, soaring and tinged with retro hues, and hook you. The instrumentation is suddenly lent depth and dimension that wasn’t apparent before and the song itself as a whole begins to expand and appropriate space in the room, leaving one eager for the next verse. Though the melody is reminiscent of those written by so many before it, from shoegaze trailblazers like The Pixies to the resident bad boys of The Strokes, there’s something refreshing about lead singer Rob Majors’ voice. Most likely, it’s that you know it reflects how he actually sounds, as there’s very little post-production tinkering to the songs. However, there’s also an ineffable quality to it, that can best be described as simultaneously relateable and otherworldly.

“So Close The Birds”, their second track, begins with an ominous guitar line executed with Flamenco stylings that leave one wishing for snare drum or at least fuller percussive dimensions –perhaps the one element I would surmise this composition lacks. Majors’ vocals come in after a few bars though, and  jolt the listener back to some memory of a times passed, not too distant a memory that it feels illusory, but distant enough to jar the nerves. Once again, the strength of the songs lie in their capacity to capture and expand on music that already happened, of which there wasn’t nearly enough.

“On The Take” also begins with an iconic guitar melody (definitely sensing a signature style emerging), that provides a foundation for the rest of the song, which is perhaps slower-paced, and more soothing than the prior two tracks due to its washed vocals that blend in with the guitar and bass for most of the song. It sounds almost as if you’re hearing through the receiver of a telephone, melodic and lyrical intimations that can feel placating and exciting alike.

Violet Machine has a long trajectory ahead of them, especially given the fact they are retrieving a genre of music that got seemingly kicked to the curb years ago. Their demo gives us a narrow glimpse into what they are capable of musically, and what lies ahead for them creatively. We got our hands on an exclusive release of the first track off the mix, “Starlight”,  so you can see for yourselves.

STARLIGHT-Violet Machine