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  • Hip-hop watch: MF Dem?

    In the age of the internet releasing new singles, collaborations, mix-tapes and even full albums can be done in minutes – giving fans the music they so ravenously desire without having to leave the comfort of their couches. Despite the World Wide Web taking precedence in every genre of music – it seems as though old-school viral marketing may still be viable.Hosted over Memorial Day Weekend was one of underground hip-hop’s biggest yearly events – the Soundset Festival – a gathering of more than 30 of the industry’s biggest names all in one place. The brainchild of Rhymesayers Entertainment since 2008, the festival draws tens of thousands of fans from across the globe.While the most exciting part of the festival is always going to be the music, it is also a perfect opportunity for the Rhymesayers label to drop some hints on upcoming releases.Originally posted by Reddit use “diablodow,” it seems as though the great MF Doom will be back with his first release since 2014’s “NehruvianDoom” with Bishop Nehru. Handed out at the Soundset Festival was a booklet featuring an image with the caption “COMING SOON.”On that booklet is a sketch of a man who appears to be a mix of MF Doom and Dem Atlas, another artist signed to the Rhymesayers label. While Doom’s iconic mask is in the forefront of the sketch, there seems to be dreadlocks (Dem Atlas) doming out of the back. Additionally, scrawled on the front are the words “MF Dem,” though it is quite hard to make out.While the appearance doesn’t indicate for sure the collaboration is happening, it does seem somewhat likely. While discussing the festival on a recent edition of “Sway in the Morning,” Dem Atlas answered some questions regarding his current projects.

  • Minnesota rapper reappears with new single

    Minneapolis, Minn. based rapper-producer Kyle Smith, better known by his stage name Cecil Otter, hasn’t released any solo material since putting out his debut full length-album, “Rebel Yellow” in 2008. That changed recently when Cecil released a new single, “Cross Countries” via Doomtree Records.While Cecil may not be a well known name in his own right, the musical mastermind has had his hand, ear and musical styling in several releases in the past several years. Most noticeable among his work is his participation in rap collective, Doomtree, of which he is a founding member. Doomtree most recently released “All Hands” last year.Outside of Doomtree, Cecil rose to fame as one half of the mash up duo, Wugazi, the other member being Swiss And. Wugazi was a remix project combining the raps of Wu-Tang Clan with the sounds of Fugazi. The project went instantly viral and garnered strong feedback from both national music publications as well as several prominent figures in the industry.While “Cross Countries” is Cecil’s most experimental style yet, there is a haunting callback to the sounds of “Rebel Yellow,” while still showing how a near-decade of time has changed the Minnesota rapper.Beginning on a note of familiarity, the song quickly expands past its acoustic foundation, all layered over Cecil’s calm, yet anxious rhythmic lines. Transitioning into an indie-rock vibe, there is no rush in the music, the only break coming past the two-minute mark for a brief interlude.Though Cecil has been a part of several music projects over the past several years, the release of his own upcoming album, “Porcelain Revolver” has been a point of much anticipation for many in the underground community. While “Cross Countries” is more than likely an indication that “Porcelain Revolver” is coming soon – all we can do is hope.

  • Not so shocking: Gene Simmons hates rap music

    During an interview with Rolling Stone magazine about the 40th anniversary of rock band KISS’ fourth studio album, “Destroyer,” bassist Gene Simmons shared his feelings with the current state of affairs of the music pop charts, and the industry in general."I am looking forward to the death of rap," he said. "I'm looking forward to music coming back to lyrics and melody, instead of just talking. A song, as far as I'm concerned, is by definition lyric and melody … or just melody."Simmons didn’t end there, he foretold of the genre’s demise.“Rap will die,” he continued. “Next year, ten years from now, at some point, and then something else will come along. And all that is good and healthy."So, will rock and roll come to the rescue? Simmons doesn’t think so. He said that, in his opinion, rock was dead – having stagnated years ago. He said that no “new” bands are out there. He referenced bands like the Foo Fighters, Nirvana and Pearl Jam being examples of the last rock bands.Have no fear for as earlier quoted, Simmons does not believe that rap is the end of all music.

  • Kendrick Lamar on top of Billboard 200 with ‘untitled unmastered’

    Kendrick Lamar’s “untitled unmastered” released earlier this month, a surprise from the Compton, Calif. native, and the album instantly set the hip hop world on fire. While many instantly compared the collection of B-sides and unfinished experiments to Kanye West’s earlier release of “Life of Pablo,” K-Dot has once again shown that he is indeed sitting on the throne.Whether the tracks are comprised of banter between artists, outtakes or different versions of songs from last year’s award winning “To Pimp a Butterfly,” Lamar has cemented his place as one of modern rap’s most influential and talented minds.Each of the songs on the album lacks an official title, only the dates it was seemingly recorded on. Songs like “untitled 03 | 05.28.2013.” had already been performed live on “The Colbert Show,” while others had been heard by audiences at live venues or on other television shows.While the album is better approached at a B-side, Lamar by no means holds back. One of the most amazing aspects of the album is Lamar’s range of vocal manipulations. Whether electronically altered or not, he truly showed off his musical gifts through the range of vocal performance.More than just a musical success from an artist who has nothing to prove (looking at Kanye), “untitled unmastered” has also proven to be a success on the Billboard charts.According to the Billboard’s data, the album debuted at No. 1 on the top-200 chart, earning 178,000 equivalent album units in the week ending March 10, according to Nielsen Music. Of that total, 142,000 were in pure album sales.

  • Ronstadt finds himself in music

    Best known locally for his work as a vocalist, songwriter and cellist with internationally-acclaimed Tucsonan favorites Ronstadt Generations, Michael G. Ronstadt’s latest ventures see him collaborating with a dreamy Cincinnatian indie band, as well as developing what he calls the solo album in which he fully found himself.Like with many artists of his ilk, including his father, Michael, and brother, Petie, who also comprise Ronstadt Generations, or in his famous aunt, Linda, the path leading him from “Point A” into his current state as a matured singer-songwriter, instrumentalist and performer was not always as straightforward as outsiders may think. “Growing up with a musical family, I always say it gives permission to consider music as a career option and something to pursue more seriously than one might if it were just considered a hobby,” said Ronstadt. “But, it wasn’t until I had picked up the cello in fourth grade that it had propelled my musical dedication forward.”Elaborating further on this period of his life, Ronstadt explained, “It spoke to me, and I started playing with different types of music, even with a rock band featuring electric cello at the end of middle school through high school. After that, I ended up pursuing my master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati in cello performance after receiving my undergrad from the University of Arizona.” From there, Ronstadt decided that “if I was going to make this career work, I had to jump headfirst into it, and luckily, thankfully, life has allowed me to do it ever since.”His career has seen him swap between Tucson, Cincinnati and Philadelphia as places where he has laid his head, but Ronstadt ultimately chose the former two and not the latter to call home. 

  • So long Lemmy

    Lemmy is dead. Those are word I can BOTH not believe I am writing and am shocked that I have not written before. Lemmy, the lead singer and bassist for Motorhead and before that Hawkwind, seemed both invincible and feeble at the same time. Think a badder, bolder version of Keith Richards.Lemmy was, well Lemmy. Ian “Lemmy” Killmeister was a legend as much for his persona as his music. He looked as much like a hit man from central casting as he did a rock star, and he would probably prefer it that way. Despite writing some amazing rock songs, he was still the old guy playing video games at the Rainbow in Los Angeles.In many ways both Hawkwind and Motorhead are better known by their reputation than their music. Hawkwind was one of the earliest space rock bands, forming during the dying embers of the 1960’s and Lemmy joined as bassist in the early 70’s and only spent a few years in the band before a drug arrest led to his firing and the formation of Motorhead.Motorhead was a power trio and while they sum up a lot of what is great about heavy metal, they are really a hard rock band with punk and metal tendencies, though in reality they predated both genres. They were, in many ways, the forefathers of thrash, speed metal and crossover, but Lemmy did not want to claim his offspring. He influenced metal heads, got along with the punks and at the end of the day he just considered them a rock band.  They looked like bikers and utterly lacked pretention. If you bought a Motorhead record you knew what you were going to get. You’d get fast guitars, sweet riffs, bombastic drums and Lemmy's trademark voice which sounds as if he topped the obvious years of booze and butts with a healthy habit of gargling broken glass.This was ugly music, played by ugly guys, which was the perfect soundtrack for a night of dive bars and questionable decisions.

  • Prime Time Review: Elvis Costello Solo ‘Detour’ shows announced for Arizona

    Elvis Costello has announced west coast U.S. solo “Detour” dates for spring 2016 including Saturday, April 9, at the Rialto Theatre in Tucson. Tickets went on sale Dec. 11. Tickets available at the venue box office, ticketmaster.comrialtotheatre.com and at Bookmans locations.Costello’s solo dates over the last several years are lauded by critics and fans, called “unforgettable” and “The best showcase of [Elvis’] talent to date.”Performing with guitar and piano in front of a giant television set on which are projected family photos, mysteries, mottos and other mischief, Costello sings his best known songs and the hits of tomorrow in a way that is both intimate and vividly emotional.The show turns in a moment from gravity to humor, the singer pauses only to tell tales about his songs.These dates are Costello’s first since the release of his best-selling memoir “Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink.”“His live performances, much like his voice, have lost none of their power.” - Lewis Howse of What Culture: June 11, 2015

  • Scott Weiland: Rock and Roll cliche

    Last week former Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver front man Scott Weiland was found dead in his tour bus. Sadly, this came to the surprise of no one. Few musical artists had their battles with addiction so well chronicled. Those who did, Amy Winehouse, Layne Staley and Kurt Cobain come to mind, are dead.When he was at his best, he was a rock star for the masses, but he let his pretension and “artistry” get in the way of rocking out. Had he decided to be the alternative/grunge era’s Foreigner, we all would have been better off.He would take this as a compliment, even thought it is not, but STP were the 1990’s version of the Doors. A band better when they were just a straight ahead rock band. “Crackerman” was their “Roadhouse Blues”, “Sex Type Thing: their “Break on Through.” Poetry and pretention be damned.Like the Morrison and the Doors, he thought himself to be more an artist and less a rocker. As his career progressed, he tried to distance himself from his post-grunge roots and the music suffered. Oh, the critics like the later STP albums, but Core and Purple were the superior records.What STP’s debut album “Core” lacked in originality it made up for in groove and strong songs. Sure, they were one of the first bands to find inspiration in Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam, but they wrote great songs. From the opening, distorted vocals on “Dead & Bloated” to the final, melancholy moments “Where the River Flows,” Weiland delivers a fantastic vocal performance on a fantastic album. “Sex Type Thing” and “Crackerman” are hard rock classics, “Plush” is a near perfect power ballad, that strangely got labeled a Pearl Jam rip-off, though it sound little or anything like a Pearl Jam song.Their follow-up “Purple” was nearly as strong, though more and more of Weiland’s pretention crept into the lyrics.

  • Accidentals a rising star in music industry

    Traverse City, Michigan’s the Accidentals have made great strides in short time since their 19 year-old multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriters Sav Buist and Katie Larson debuted as a band in 2011. “The Silence,” a song from off of their second album Bittersweet, launched them into national acclaim with the attention of Grammy award-winning producer Stewart Lerman and musician Marshall Crenshaw, garnering a recording deal with the famed duo. In between and beyond then, the band has picked up a third member in percussionist, beatboxer, guitarist and vocalist Michael Dause and has garnered positive press from Billboard as one of SXSW’s breakout acts of 2015.North Tucsonan audiences were given a special treat from the up-and-coming eclectic folk-rockers when they made their Southern Arizona debut at Monterey Court at 505 W. Miracle Mile, a local outdoor food, arts and music venue renovated from out of an old motorcade by owners Greg Haver and Kelly McLear upon their January 2011 purchase. On Nov. 16, the Accidentals graced the stage with their individualistic flair, drawing crowds from throughout Tucson, Oro Valley and even their home state of Michigan.“We normally only have an hour and a half-long set, total, at most of our stops,” Dause said during an interim period of their three-hour show, “so this three hour set is pretty cool.”The band captivated its first Tucson audience with a strong balance of enthralling songs, entrancing stage presence and witty and personable banter. In between certain performances, members of the band would explain the process behind developing the song that was about to come up next, especially when attached to the seemingly zany and unlikely. Larson’s “Parking Lot” was written out of the band’s experience waiting outside of 21-plus venues to perform because of their current status as minors, and one definitely would not have guessed the swagger that Buist produced on the Monterey Court stage during “Trouble” was inspired by hot sauce indigestion, unless they were told.

  • Clutch, Mastodon, C.O.C at the Rialto 10/26

    Some shows just give you more bang for your buck and that was the case last Monday night when Clutch, Mastodon and Corrosion of Conformity played the rialto. While none of the bands have enjoyed long term, mainstream success, all three are legitimate headliners with terrific core followings.Ironically enough, opener C.O.C. has probably had the most mainstream success, but have the most varied history. The band has morphed a lot over the years, but returned with their best known line-up featuring Pepper Keenan on vocals and the bulk of their set was played from their later, southern rock influenced albums. The crowd was into it from the start, but really got into the final three songs, “Vote With a Bullet”, “Albatross” and an extended, spaced out version of “Clean My Wounds.”There were early mic troubles for co-vocalist Brett Hinds, but that did not slow down Mastodon. The hard to peg band from Georgia usually gets billed as progressive metal and they certainly showed off their chops. The heaviest band on the bill, they also had the most energetic stage show and arena worthy lighting and lasers.Last time through Arizona they seemed to avoid playing the more melodic songs of their last two albums, but this time out they did not shy away from the sing along choruses of “The Motherload” or “Ember City.”While primary vocalist/bassist Troy Sanders does not talk much with the crowd, he is the most animated of an already energetic band. Looking like the cross between a possessed wizard and a back woods preacher, he was in constant motion, whether it was aping the moves of a 80’s hair band, staring at people in the crowd or marching in place like the drum major of the Manson family.Clutch’s on-stage energy comes from manic front man Neil Fallon, who often times channels his inner tent revivalist preacher.

  • Blues music festival showcases top Tucson talent

    Between Nashville’s slew of country western mega-stars and Austin’s yearly hub for indie musicians in SXSW, it can be relatively easy for music enthusiasts to gloss over Tucson as one of the music meccas of the nation. To do so would be a mistake, however. The Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation proved that point in spades for the 31st time in a row Oct. 18 with the latest iteration in its annual Blues & Heritage Festival.Hundreds piled into Rillito Park, with food choices ranging from German bratwurst and meatloaf sandwich to Vietnamese banh mi, pizza and more assuring that festival-goers would keep from going hungry while they enjoyed the eight-hour show.Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater brought his Chicago-bred, Macon, MS-born blues to the festival as its headliner this go-around. Alongside the likes of Otis Rush and teacher Magic Sam, Clearwater’s feral, fervent rendition of the blues deservedly earned him a Grammy nomination, seven Blues Music Awards nominations and a W.C. Handy Award. The 80 year-old proved his worth as one of the grandmasters of blues and founders of the West Side sound all over again with a vibrantly emotive style and grit to set the evening alight. Clearwater wasn’t the only import, with the fan favorite Dennis Jones Band reprising their performing role at the festival with a set full of funky California blues. Aside from Jones and Clearwater, however, the Blues & Heritage Festival was once again chockful of local acts. 

  • Clutch to rock the Rialto

    Veteran hard rock/stoner rock band Clutch will bring their well-honed concert chops to the Rialto on Monday night.  The band had not played Tucson in quite some time, but came through town in support of their last record and return less than two years later.Drummer JP Gaster says that the band is likely to go through Phoenix on one leg of a tour and then hit Tucson on another leg. In this case they played Phoenix over the summer but hit Tucson in support of their new record “Psychic Warfare”The band switches up the set list every night but are playing a good chunk of the new record as well as a solid slab off of 2013’s “Earth Rocker.” The set list changes a bit each night because each band member crafts the set list each night.“We each take turns writing the set list,” said Gaster.For the most part each show opens with X-Ray Visions and Firebirds, the first two cuts off of “Psychic Warfare” after that things have been different from show to show.The band is known for their live shows, they bring great energy and Gaster fees the new songs have really taken a new life as they are getting played every night.

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