Amid rumours of failing health and no public performance in almost a decade, comes David Bowie's 25th studio album ★ (pronounced Blackstar). Released on 8th January 2016, which also happens to be the singer's 69th Birthday a little self indulgent some might say, but hell if I had the means to do something that awesome for my birthday, I definitely would!
As for these rumours about failing health, long time friend and producer Tom Visconti tells us "He's in fine health. He's just made a very rigorous album." And what an album it is; 42 mins in total with the average song being 4-6 mins in length except the title track (also the album title) which is a whopping 9:57. It was originally over 11 mins but was cut because iTunes don't allow sales of singles longer than 10 mins. Visconti was not pleased but added "David was adamant it [...★ ] be the single, and he didn't want both an album version and a single version, since that gets confusing." The music video for BlackStar was the brainchild of Director Johan Renck who is known for his work on TV series like Breaking Bad, Bates Motel and The Last Panthers. When asked to direct the video he was shocked to tears "I haven't done a music video in a long time, but when Bowie asks, you'd jump at it" John explained during a recent interview. Although the trippy sci-fi imagery was largely left to Johan, Bowie did collaborate on some main ideas.
The album itself is a work of art largely composed of trippy Jazz which isn't surprising given the influences of New York Saxophonist Donny McCaslin and LCD Soundsystem founder James Murphy. Bowie took influences from from Krautrock to hip-hop to drum & bass to exploratory jazz, creating "an incredible fusion sound that can't be pinned to any one genre". Those expecting anything similar to the previous album will be disappointed. As Visconti points out "The Next Day started out to do something new but something old kept creeping back in. Not this album." Taking inspiration from Kendrick Lamar, not in terms of creating a Hip-hop masterpiece, but being brave enough to include different genres and being open to trying new musical ideas.
★ is a bit of an anomaly in terms of track fluidity and although it has a definite flow, it also feels quite chaotic at times but I think this adds to the charm. Given the band spent up to 7 hours a day recording, with Bowie singing solidly from start to finish, this is not surprising. From the slow and soulful Lazarus taken from the Off-Broadway musical of the same name that Bowie wrote original music for, and is co-producing in New York City, to the upbeat and slightly quirky Sue (Or in A Season of Crime) that was release on a 2014 compilation. Also on the album is the very guitar-80s heavy Dollar Days that was recorded in the studio one day when Bowie picked up a guitar and started writing. An interesting fact, the musical is a kind of sequel to the 70s Film The Man Who Fell To Earth.
ike a piece of fine art, ★ is open to interpretation and it is important to let the music speak for itself. Never a one for interview Bowie has always relied on his lyric s to tell his story 'If you want to know about me, just study my lyrics.' Bowie once said. The lyrics to Girl Loves Me "come from Polari, a form of British slang used by gay men in mid-20th-Century London", and Tis a Pity She Was a Whore is titled after a play of the same name written by 17th-Century playwright John Ford.
he final track I Can't Give Everything Away is by far the closest you will get to the Bowie of old. It's beautiful soft vocals, harmonica and guitar solos from Ben Monder steal the show and leaves you feeling like your soul has suddenly taken flight.
All in all this is a great new album. With solid vocals, numerous contributions for a=various talented musicians and an array if musical influences there will be something that will appeal to everyone who give it a listen. And the fact it has been shrouded in secrecy simply adds to the mystique. It is a classic example of Bowie at his singing best, but it does have a sense of randomness about it. I have a feeling this won't be enough to make any new fans, but existing ones are going to love it!
The Soundsplash Festival is returning to Raglan in January 2018. Local reggae favourites Katchafire are returning to feature on the bill. We sent a few questions over to lead vocalist Logan Bell ahead of the festival.
Following 2015’s Kitty, Daisy & Lewis'The Third', the sibling trio are back stronger than ever, harnessing their ability to create pop-infused soul, blues, rock n roll and a large mix of genres to perfection, in the shape of their fourth studio album, Superscope.
Kylie Price has just released her new album Bones. Last week she appeared on theNZ Entertainment Podcast, where she sang a new song I Dont Want To Go off the album while talking shop about her dream gig to play with Ed Sheeran and her Philipino roots.
Last week I caught up withPeter Hook ahead of returning down under for Australasian leg of the Joy Division and New Order Substance tour. We had a great chat about the spirit of punk, what it takes to write a book and why shows like the X-factor are so unhealthy…
Long established as one of New Zealand’s finest acts, South Pacific reggae-soul legends, The Black Seeds are set to tour the country in September, following the release of their long awaited 6th studio album Fabric, (out today - Friday September 8th).
Jacqueline Nalpant is a Booking Agent for the Paradigm Talent Agency, and is heading to New Zealand early next month where she'll be one of the speakers for the Going Global Music Summit (Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd September at Roundhead Studios, Auckland).
Since making her musical debut with her song Drift early last year, fast attracting a solid fan base and over 1 million plays across Spotify and Soundcloud in just a few months, Madeline North, better known by her musical moniker So Below, has once again blessed us with a moodier, masterful electro-pop banger, titled Ruin.
Since forming in 1998, the Antwerp, Belgium based trio Triggerfinger have long become a mainstay on the rock scene, building a solid reputation across Europe, the US, Canada and beyond, as one of the hardest-driving and sharpest dressing bands around.
Popular metalcore group Northlane are on their way to New Zealand. The Sydney band are touring North America taking in countries like Chile and Mexico as they head our way down-under next month to play Wellington’s San Fran then Auckland at the iconic Kings Arms.
Returning to New Zealand for the first time in three years, Australian metalcore band In Hearts Wake are on their way to our shores next month for a quick run of shows supporting their label cohorts Northlane.
Courtney Marie Andrews has landed in New Zealand, and set to play two concerts this week with Joe Pug - tonight at San Fran in Wellington (Wed July 19) and tomorrow night at The Tuning Fork in Auckland (Thu July 20).
Auckland two-piece Skinny Hobos, Alex Elvis and Texas Holdom, are heading on a 5 date New Zealand tour with headliners Decades, Bakers Eddy and Dead Favours. Kicking off tonight in Hamilton (July 14), the tour will also take them to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and finishes up in Dunedin.
Have you ever considered sharing your most personal experiences with the entire world? Well come this Friday 14th July, that’s what Emma Cameron, the rocking front-woman of kiwi band Decades is about to do, when they release their long-awaited full length debut album, The Truth And Other People, so we sat down with the cheerful front woman to discover just what truth this album reveals..
Whilst Sonny Landreth is a well known slide-guitar master, zydeco enthusiast and phenomenal blues legend, what you may not know about him, is that he is one of the nicest gentlemen in the entire universe.
He was always the boy next door type energy, that type of person you just always wanted to be around. From day one, Shay Taylor has always been one to break the mold and live life in such a vibrant and contagious manner, that no matter who he spoke to, they walked away feeling great!
Due to significant weekend rainfall, and the forecast of more rain over the next 72 hours, Coffs Harbour City Council, Frontier Touring, John Logan Entertainment and Midnight Oil management have met and reviewed the site for Midnight Oil’s show on Thursday 19 October.
After their 2012 Mercury Prize-nominated debut and 2015’s Top 20 follow-up Born Under Saturn, musical adventurers Django Django are back for 2017, exploring new sounds with their brand new album Marble Skies
After stunning, sold-out concerts across the US, legendary Led Zep drummer Bonzo's greatest legacy - his son Jason - brings his critically acclaimed concert, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience, to New Zealand for just two performances.
Playing their breakthrough debut self-titled album in its entirety, pop rock sensations We The Kings will return to New Zealand and Australia to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of their breakthrough self-titled debut album.
Instrumentals, imagined soundtracks and cut and paste experimentation sets a bracing, perception-shattering course for Who Built The Moon? - the keenly anticipated, WORLD TOUR-triggering third album from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.