Eagles Of Death Metal talks about Paris, and asks you to cover its song

If you’re in a band, Eagles Of Death Metal is asking you to cover its song I Love You All The Time, and all the royalties earned from your performances will go towards the victims of the Paris attacks.

You’ll remember that EODM was playing a show at the Bataclan music hall in Paris on 13 November when armed terrorists burst in and started shooting indiscriminately, murdering up to 90 people dead.

VICE has just posted its first-hand account of what can only be described as an horrific experience via this interview. There is little more to say than that. Watch, and pray that these acts of terror cease soon, because they achieve nothing.

In the interview, Joshua Homme, co-founder of EODM, also calls on iTunes, Spotify and other music platforms to donate any money made from the playing of this track to the same cause, and The Sweet Stuff, an organisation dedicated to musicians suffering from illness or disability, is also pushing its proceeds to Paris until 31 December.

To all the victims of this crime, and the many others committed by terrorists around the world, we offer our heartfelt condolences.

Eagles Of Death Metal talk about Paris

Of all the accounts from the terror attacks in Paris on Friday 13 November 2015, one of the most intense is likely to be this — the first hand account of Eagles Of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes, whose band was playing at the Bataclan music hall on that fateful night.

“While Jesse and the band thankfully survived, some of the people closest to them did not. They include the band’s merchandise manager, Nick Alexander, as well as three colleagues from their record label, Thomas Ayad, Marie Mosser, and Manu Perez,” the interview synopsis reads.

Joshua Homme, while not part of the band’s live line-up, is also there to support his mate and offer his thoughts on the tragedy.

Of the more than 120 people killed that night in the French capital, 89 were slaughtered inside the club, all there simply to enjoy some great music with great people and friends.

There is no sense to the crime, no way of truly comprehending what happened. For Hughes, it will no doubt haunt him for the rest of his days. And this is a guys that’s already been through a hell of a lot in his 43 years of life.

We’ll be looking out for the full interview, and will update this post when it lands.

To all the victims and their loved ones, not just in Paris but the many other places in this world where terror has struck without mercy, we here at Light+Shade offer our heartfelt condolences and support.

Alanis Morissette updates Ironic for the new millennium

It’s been almost 20 years since Alanis Morissette released Ironic, and thanks to James Corden, she’s updated it for the next generation with some pretty funny lyrics that might appeal to new millenniums.

With lines like “It’s like swiping left on your future soulmate”, it hits all the right notes. I particularly liked “A no smoking sign, when you brought your vape”. One line that perhaps could do with a little more attention, though, was “It’s like 10,000 male late night hosts when all you want is just one woman, seriously”. She’s got a point there.

Corden, to his credit, is one of the better male late night hosts, has a habit of bringing the best out of his musical celebrities, as we saw with his fabulous Carpool Karaoke episode with Stevie Wonder. All credit to Alanis for playing along here, too. It’s always great to see well-grounded celebrities who are willing to have a laugh at themselves — “It’s singing Ironic but there are no ironies”, they warble in one section. It just makes you like them even more.

Speaking of Alanis, if you’re on Spotify and want to hear more about how Jagged Little Pill came to be — that’s the album Ironic was on, of course — there is a great edition of Spotify Landmark available that features her discussing the recording 20 years on with producer and co-writer Glen Ballard, who starts with the story of that song.

Is Coldplay’s cool factor slowly returning?

Some time ago, I wrote a blog about Coldplay, and how much I’d grown to dislike the musical direction Chris Martin and his pals had taken since the release of their first albums. It’s one of the most read blogs on this side, and certainly divided opinion.

I standby what I wrote, and if new single Adventure Of A Lifetime is anything to go by, things haven’t improved since I wrote that post more than three years ago.

Well, that’s half true. The thing is, Coldplay remains one of the most talented bands of its generation. It’s no fluke it is one of the world’s biggest bands. A few things I’ve seen over the years since asking “WTF” happened have given me heart. As humans, they appear to have remain grounded and awesome, even if their music —at least to my old ears — doesn’t reflect similar characteristics.

Martin has been undertaking more inspiring philanthropic work, most recently as part of the Global Citizen Festival, where he announced he would dedicate the next 15 years to doing whatever he could to help Global Citizen reach its goal of ending extreme poverty in the world by 2030.

And this week, as part of what is likely to be a long round of promotional appearances for the band’s upcoming seventh album, A Head Full Of Dreams, he and his band-mates appeared on BBC Radio 1 to partake in an hilarious segment which saw Martin compose, on the spot, songs written from boring lyrics sent in by listeners.  Check it out here.

It’s great to see that the guys remain grounded, and that Martin has lost none of his cheeky charm. He’s clearly in a happy place.

But they say the best music comes from heartbreak. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, and it’s perhaps why Coldplay’s tunes have taken such an upbeat turn over the past few years. Take 2014’s smash hit A Sky Full Of Stars, taken from the album of that same year, Ghost Stories. You could not imagine a more cheerful track if you tried. It’s been a super live anthem, for sure, and I guess that’s something. It always gets a crowd bouncing and smiling, and there is nothing at all wrong with that. It’s really only the studio version that is a touch lame.

There were hints, however, of Coldplay’s former glories on that record, not least in Midnight, which provided a beautiful and mystical midway point on an album of otherwise reasonably chirpy tunes. Midnight is a more modern take on Coldplay’s former signature sound, but it’s got all the superbly simplistic qualities of what I used to love so much about their old sound.

Let’s hope a little more of that aesthetic has crept into this new album. It’s set for release on 4 December, so we don’t have to wait too long to find out.

Demi Lovato and that wasted voice

Demi Lovato - Confident

Demi Lovato – Confident

Pop music is fun and everything, but you know sometimes it really upsets me. It upsets me because sometimes it’s like a like a big ugly pile of landfill, a steaming, stinking mass of wastage.

I’ve seen it happen over and over again in the pop genre — fantastic voices slaughtered in an expensive studio, buried by a producer who is probably getting paid way too much to make what is already a fierce talent fall flat like a sugarless bubblegum bubble.

Recently, I saw a clip of one of pop’s current darling, Demi Lovato, singing the American national anthem ahead of Game 4 of Major League Baseball’s World Series.

Amazing, right? Absolutely nails it, every note, not too much warbling, just beautifully executed. When I hear raw vocals like that, I’m not embarrassed to admit it makes me tear up a little.

A little while ago, I also saw Lovato crush this cover of Hozier’s Take Me To Church, ably assisted by two of the sweetest backing singers you’ll ever hear or see.

Again, she slays it. In fact I’d probably pick this version over the original for its raw power. It gets better and better as she rolls through the song.

I hadn’t heard much more of Lovato, to be honest. I knew she’d been around for a bit, already danced with the devil of depression, drugs, violence and then some, become a Christian, cleaned up and, recently, released her fifth album — some milestone for a girl who is just 23.

That album, Confident, has been getting a lot of press, so I though I’d give it a go. Despite the evidence of the two clips above, I can’t say I was at all impressed. Lovato’s clearly brilliant voice is lost in a sea of overly produced sounds, and overly produced in itself to within an inch of its life.

There are three tracks on the 11-track long player that offer a small hint of her vocal ability — For YouStone Cold and Father — but the rest of it I could happily never hear again. Ever.

We see this too often these days, and it’s an insult to the artist and those of us that love music in its most naked and vulnerable form — stripped back, raw and powerful. No amount of production can improve that if it’s already there, and in Lovato’s case, it most certainly is. She could sing the phonebook and you’d feel something deep down inside you.

So please, producers out there, work with what you’ve got. Don’t blow it away with your toys. It annoys the shit out of me and, I would imagine, many thousands if not millions of other people.

Foo Fighters deliver on Cesena promise

Mohawk Guy, Cesena, Foo Fighters

Mohawk Guy kicks off the Rockin’ 1000 clip.

You all remember Cesena, right — that little Italian town you’d never heard of until one resident organised 1000 people to play a Foo Fighters cover in an attempt to entice the band to play a show there? Well, Foo Fighters this week made good on frontman Dave Grohl’s promise to play there, and it looks like it was an absolute riot from the few fan videos of the night that have surfaced online.

Among the many highlights, this was perhaps the funniest I’ve seen. ‘Mohawk Guy’, who is seen at the start of the Rockin’ 1000 clip smashing the first beat of the Learn To Fly cover, fulfilled every drummer’s dream by blagging his way on stage to dethrone Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins and play drums through the band’s cover of Under Pressure.

Grohl’s reactions are priceless, and as for Hawkins — well, who knew he had a voice?

Earlier in the night, Grohl also gave a cool speech in recognition of what the town had achieved in getting the band to their little town to play.

And play Foo Fighters most certainly did. The set consisted of a massive 27 songs, including a couple of covers. No doubt Hawkins was glad to take a break for one of them, because that is one hell of a workout for a drummer of his energy.

Here’s a reminder of what Rockin’ 1000 originally shot and posted back in July, a clip that has now received close to 25 million views on YouTube. What a great final chapter to a truly great story.

Sir David Attenborough does Adele’s Hello perfectly

If you’re not a fan of Sir David Attenborough, then you’re either unaware of him or you’re just a bit weird.

We here at Light+Shade can’t get enough of him, and having raved about Adele’s new single Hello a few days ago, we were absolutely delighted to see he’d been given a chance to narrate the introduction to the song’s film clip whilst a guest on BBC Radio. The clip below speaks for itself.

Sir David is the undisputed master of narration, the voice of more than one generation. This just proves it further, and may he happily live forever and ever … amen!

Adele sits up and says Hello with her most breathtaking vocals yet

Adele - Hello

Adele – Hello

Every now and then, I get a pang of jealousy for those lucky enough to have been inside the studio when certain songs were recorded. Sometimes it’s a guitar part, or a drum part like the one Neil Peart nailed in The Spirit Of Radio all those years ago.

More often than not, though, it’s a voice, a vocal take I would have absolutely given any or all of my limbs to hear when it was put to tape — or a digital file these days.

I’ve had two pangs this past month. The first came from Australia’s own Sia in her latest song, Alive, which I waxed slightly lyrically over here. But this past week, Britain’s own power-packed singer Adele absolutely nailed it. Her new track Hello honestly made me sit up and say “hello” as a result of her effort on the song.

I recommend not watching the video on YouTube, because it’s annoying, features underlying audio from the storyline, and some slightly off lip-synching. Instead, listen to it here (assuming you’ve got Spotify), and just close your eyes and marvel at this voice.

If you pay special attention to the way Adele sings — it’s kind of impossible not to — you’ll hear what an exceptional voice this girl has. We kind of all knew that, of course, but she’s gone up a notch with this track, I reckon. There is so much in there; emotion deluxe, insane power through the choruses, gentle story-telling in the verses. But there are a couple of standout points that just covered me in goosebumps, over and over again.

The first is her variation in the chorus around the 2:38 mark. The second time around — at 3:03 — her steadiness on the word “outside” as she pitch switches is utterly extraordinary.  There is another demonstration of her brilliance in the same section of the final chorus around the 4:18 mark, where she drops in some wicked trills that defy belief. If you understand what it takes to actually do that in tune, you’ll know what I’m on about.

Adele has plenty of subtlety too. She is perhaps one of the best singers I’ve heard in recent years, and she’s certainly proved that with this track. It’s astonishing to think that had it not been for a friend posting her demo on MySpace about a decade ago — yes, I said MySpace — and XL Recordings picking it up and signing her, we might never have been treated to this.

I wonder if it can get any better. It’s hard to imagine it being any more spectacular than this.

By the way, I’ve dropped the video here if you want to put yourself through it. Around 85 million (and counting) other people have.

REVIEW: Nothing But Thieves finally let loose

Nothing But Thieves

Nothing But Thieves have a killer record on their hands.

After a week or two of teasing snippets from their debut album, Nothing But Thieves have finally released their debut self-titled long-player. I say ‘finally’ because it’s been absolutely ages in the making. With 16 tracks on its roster, that’s perhaps not a surprise.

It’s been almost a year and half since we first brought NBT to your attention through this blog, back when they had only a few tracks online, including the stunning Graveyard Whistling. Back then, in early July 2014, we were given some glimmer of hope that the first album would be out by the end of that year, not least after they signed with RCA that same year. But here we are, zooming towards the end of 2015, and it has only just been allowed to run free.

After such a long wait, hopes were high that this wouldn’t be a dud release. It seemed impossible given the tracks that have been spilled in the many months leading to this week. Graveyard Whistling aside, NBT put out a number of other tracks that feature on the record, including Itch, Trip Switch (which made the FIFA 16 soundtrack), Emergency, Wake Up Call, Ban All The Music, with Honey Whiskey and If I Get High most recently. Some time ago, they also put out a beautiful live acoustic version of the haunting Lover, Please Stay.

It was easy to think maybe we wouldn’t have much left to listen to, but with 16 tracks available, thankfully there is plenty of fresh tunes to get stuck into. Believe me when I say, also, that many of them are breathtakingly good.

NBT’s sound is largely built around the vocals of unassuming frontman Conor Mason. We compared him to Thom Yorke, Chet Faker, Erik Hassle, and Jeff Buckley previously. Those comparisons remain valid. His contribution to this record is extraordinary. The emotional output is off the charts. One can only imagine the toll it takes on him. I have visions of him collapsed in a corner of the studio after every take, a sweat-soaked heap of angst and trauma. If you’re familiar with Mason’s methods, you’ll know what I mean. This kid doesn’t just sing, he invests everything.

The other members of course play their part, too. The compositions are solid, varied, interesting and complex, while allowing you room to move and shake as you desire. There are hooks here and there, but the straight pop structure is not the method chosen by these guys. Having been selected to join Muse as an opening act on the road recently, that much is clear.

At times they’re freely blasting out rocking jams, Mason’s voice soaring like a jet fighter above it all. Moments later, you could be dropped into the most delicate lullaby. The overall effect is pretty special.

The standout tracks are numerous here. Other than those already mentioned, Tempt You (Evocatio) is perhaps among the very best. While lyrically, it’s perhaps slightly simplistic, musically it’s rich with beauty, building superbly from a soft soulful groove into a dynamic denouement. Brilliant stuff.

The opening track, Excuse Me , couldn’t have been better selected. It showcases everything this band is about and gets things off to a rollicking start.

Nothing But Thieves is available from all the usual digital outlets. I might get myself a vinyl copy of it, too, because it really is very, very good.