Top 5 Concerts
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood: Sprint Center│Kansas City, MO│May 6th
Garth Brooks continues his extended “Garth Brooks World Tour” in Kansas City, MO. The Sprint Center is hosting Brooks and his wife for seven nights, and May 6th is the second show of the seven.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Amalie Arena│Tampa, FL│May 6th
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are performing in Florida at the beginning of May. Their second Florida show is in Tampa. This is one of the only shows that Joe Walsh is not also listed in the lineup. Therefore, Tampa’s show will be focused solely on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold & Volbeat: M&T Bank Stadium│Baltimore, MD│May 10th
Metallica is beginning their tour starting on May 10th. Their “WorldWired World Tour” includes Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat as openers. After announcing the “WorldWired World Tour” post-Grammys, the iconic heavy metal band has been preparing for their tour that will last until August.
The Weeknd: Toyota Center – TX│Houston, TX│May 6th
The Weeknd continues Phase One of his “Starboy: Legend of the Fall World Tour” with shows in Texas. Houston is the second of his upcoming two Texas shows. The Weeknd recently made his first red carpet appearance with now-girlfriend Selena Gomez at the MET Gala last week. Therefore, The Weeknd is a big topic in pop culture due to his his public and private life. The Weeknd also just released a song with Lana del Rey titled “Lust for Life.”
Barbra Streisand: Barclays Center│Brooklyn, NY│May 6th
Barbra Streisand only has two shows scheduled for 2017 so far. Her Brooklyn show is the second of the two, both in New York. Brooklyn’s Barclays Center will host Streisand this Saturday. These shows come as additives to her 2016 tour “The Music… The Mem’ries… The Magic!” that celebrates her six decades of #1 albums.
What’s in Tune: New Music
Chris Stapleton│From A Room: Volume 1│A-
The Man Behind the Beard
Chris Stapleton, much like Sturgill Simpson, caused reverberations at the footholds of modern-day country music. 2015’s Traveller created an impressionable hit in the gut of the genre. A simple, bearded man; one of the hundreds who wander to Nashville dragging lyrics such as “Pickup truck down a dirt road,” produced an album unlike the other beards. In any genre, there’s the fear of staleness. One brilliant progression turns into a repetitive decision with each artist who becomes a fan of the progress. For country, I think of Eric Church’s description of “bro country.” The repetitive nature of party/summer night/drinking songs by artists who are twenty years past their last keg stand. It’s inauthentic.
Stapleton entered the genre looking like true country. A worn cowboy hat sits atop his head, and a thick beard hangs off his chin that serves as his identification version of The Weeknd’s crazy dreads hairstyle (“Oh yeah, Chris Stapleton, the guy with the beard right?”). His songwriting credentials and gravelly, earthy tone held up his credibility that Stapleton was not another country bro star wearing with plaid shirt with the tags still on it. Traveller hailed the return of traditional country music with naked honesty and oaky instrumentals. If Traveller plays alone in a quiet room, it almost reverberates off the walls and dives into your psyche. The only recent country albums to accomplish that are Simpson’s A Sailor’ Guide to Earth and Miranda Lambert’s The Weight of These Wings.
However, Simpson succeeds in his anti-mainstream country persona in the same way Church succeeds as country’s James Dean. Stapleton instead flourishes in his embrace of Nashville’s Music Row. Everything that embodies the genre over years of history soak through Stapleton’s music. He is not out to revitalize country or stand out against his genre’s fellow artists. No, Stapleton is too humble and uninterested in public statements for that. Therefore, his artistic identity accumulates more from what the world has placed upon him than what he projects into the world.
From A Room, Volume 1
From A Room, Volume 1 precedes Volume 2 that will drop later in 2017. It also incorporates Stapleton’s wife, Morgane Stapleton, a country singer herself. They met as songwriters in Nashville, and her vocals serve as wonderful enhancements on the album. She now sings back-up vocals on his tours, as well, and their chemistry is truly a Tim-and-Faith effect onstage.
“Broken Halos” was the first single off of the new album followed by “Second One to Know” and “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning.” “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning” is the only song he did not co-write, as it’s a cover of a song made famous by the iconic Willie Nelson. “Broken Halos,” on the contrast, is a redemptive song surrounding the contrast between faith and questioning. “Second One to Know” shoots against the pensive “Broken Halos,” as its rocker, boot-stomping spirit inflames the album with a burst of bluesy grit. In total, the album is another reminder that Stapleton’s embodiment of Music Row serves an an unintentional finger pointing at every gap that the other artists are missing.
From A Room, Volume 1 Tracklist:
1. “Broken Halos”
2. “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning”
3. “Second One to Know”
4. “Up to No Good Livin’”
5. “Either Way”
6. “I Was Wrong”
7. “Without Your Love”
8. “These Stems”
9. “Death Row”
Everybody is thundering with an agenda. Some artists release music that is socially aware without the promotion. Some artists use the social issue a vehicle, promoting their work with a fire the stems from an organization or intentional purpose. I mention this because Logic’s Everybody does just that; it plasters progression and social critique to each wall, starting with the Everybody documentary that drops today. It was originally titled AfricAryan but was later changed. There is still a track titled “AfricAryan” on the album.
“Everybody,” the lead single off of the album, delves into Logic’s biracial identity. As a child, he was subject to both the positives of white privilege and the negatives of his biracial identity. Those who didn’t know him assumed he was white. He has been passed off as a “white rapper,” like his black heritage is decided at skin color. Therefore, Logic is the firsthand example of biracial struggle in addition to his rough childhood. Each track that dropped preceding the album carried the weight of the issues-heavy rhetoric that Everybody would produce.
“Black Spiderman” followed “Everybody,” and by the name, a listener can tell he remains hovered on his biracial identity but moreso his identification with his African American roots. However, in this song he discusses the weight of labels. He also revealed that the album is from many different perspectives and rarely his own opinion, as he embraces a shift in opinion and vantage point. The end of the song tapers with a discussion about Spiderman’s race, and how he should be black. Therefore, the song plays with the usage of labels in society and their importance in someone’s experiences even if the concept of label is shallow.
“1-800-273-8255” features Khalid and Alessia Cara. This dropped a week before the album release. The phone number is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, and it was released in partnership with the NSPL to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention. The song itself dives into suicidal thoughts and the emotional tailspin. In addition, Cara’s hook and Khalid’s deep, R&B vocals add dimension to the track.
3. “Confess” feat. Killer Mike
4. “Killing Spree” feat. Ansel Elgort
5. “Take it Back”
6. “America” feat. Black Thought, Chuck D, Big Lenbo & No ID
7. “Ink Blot” feat. Juicy J
8. “Mos Definitely”
9. “Waiting Room”
10.”1-800-273-8255″ feat. Alessia Cara & Khalid
11. “Anziety” feat. Lucy Rose
12. “Black SpiderMan” feat. Damian Lemar Hudson
13. “AfricAryan” feat. Neil DeGrasse Tyson
14. “Everybody Documentary” (Deluxe Edition)
Blondie focuses on the fun, pop sound on their new album Pollinator. They dropped singles “Fun” and “Long Time” that align with their tradition of heavy pop undertones in their hit songs. Though decades have passed since these hits were first released, their new music still tries to parallel the heavy pop formula to current day. Joan Jett’s vocals are on the album opener “Doom or Destiny” that contrasts Jett’s edgy, rough sound with the smooth vocals of Blondie’s lead singer Debbie Harry.
Sia and The Strokes’ Nick Valensi feature on “Best Day Ever,” and the cover of “Gravity” features Charli XCX. Therefore, the album is not lacking in big-name features. Though some will argue that this adds to the album’s modern-day Blondie persona, many album features can also distract from the weakness of the main artist. I think Pollinator successfully stays away from this pitfall, but I am more impressed by their intriguing mix of additives than their talent decades later. Which isn’t an insult but also not exactly a compliment.
Either way, Pollinator doesn’t disappoint fans and also displays their ability to produce pop rock so far into their career. It is a solid effort that will perpetuate Blondie throughout 2017.
1. “Doom or Destiny”
2. “Long Time”
3. “Already Naked”
5. “My Monster”
6. “Best Day Ever”
8. “When I Gave Up on You”
9. “Love Level”
10. “Too Much”
What’s in Tune: Television Appearances
alt-J is an indie rock band that is dropping their new album Relaxer. They are touring this fall in support of Relaxer.
Maggie Rogers is the latest phenomenon to watch out for. Rogers was discovered by Pharrell Williams in a class at NYU when he guest lectured. Her airy, indie sound is lighter than Lana Del Rey or Lorde but leans towards their niche of female, edgy indie-pop. Listen to her hit “Alaska” below:
Train is touring in 2017 for their “Play That Song Tour” in support of their 2017 album a girl a bottle a boat. This was their first album without lead guitarist Jimmy Stafford, though his departure was amicable.