BlackBook Premiere: New Hawk Single ‘You Are The One I Want’ is Post-Punk Pop Perfection

 

 

For as many times as The Cure took us to the darkest recesses of the human psyche, Robert Smith also wrote some of the most joyful pop songs of his generation. And the new single by Hawk, “You Are The One I Want” (which BlackBook premieres here) perfectly recalls the post-punk pop exuberance of tracks like “Just Like Heaven” and “Friday I’m in Love.”

The band, led by David Hawkins, also notably features Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas, Morgan Fisher from Mott The Hoople, and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies. But the latter’s melodic bass lines readily call to mind those of Peter Hook, while the opulent atmospherics could arguably be traced back to singular aesthetic of late ’80s New Order.

 

 

The lyrical sentiment is simple—”You are the one I want / I think I hear the Angels calling”—but genuinely uplifting…especially at a time such as this.

“The lyrics came to me as I wrote the guitar line,” Hawkins explains, “and they speak to intense desire and yearning for union on several levels, including the spiritual. They also reverberate with a common theme for me, that of the Divine Feminine, which is so crucial to our collective evolution right now…the wisdom and compassion of the Goddess.”

Hawk‘s fourth album Fly, recorded in LA, Joshua Tree, Seattle, France and Tokyo (remember when we could all travel?), and is due out this May 15.

Isolation Orchestration: The Dandy Warhols Have a Trippy New Sheltering-In-Place Symphony

 

 

Sheltering-in-place has seemed to generate a sort of mini-zeitgeist of focusing on the “little things”—reading those unread books, spending more time with pets. But such ominous times just as much call for decidedly grand gestures, especially artistic ones.

Of course, when seeking grand gestures, one can reliably look north and west to the PDX, where The Dandy Warhols are hunkered down at home in Portland (at least we think they are), trying to make sense of this insidious pandemic just like the rest of us. But the mind of Courtney Taylor-Taylor tends to quickly soar beyond the pragmatic…

And so perfectly timed comes the release of this extravagant but quiet “head-music symphony,” intriguingly titled Tafelmuzik Means More When You’re Alone (and recorded by Jake Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra at the band’s Odditorium studio). By extravagant, we mean that it clocks in at four hours—which might just mean synching it to a much-needed extended at-home meditation session.

 

 

Tafelmusik, incidentally, was music written to be played at feasts and banquets and such, from sometime during the 16th Century to sometime during the 18th. But curiously enough, it’s easy to imagine the Eno-esque soundscapes soundtracking a 21st Century space mission.

“The music itself felt like just the right medicine for these troubled times,” explains the Dandies’ Zia McCabe. “It could help cure the boredom of being stuck inside. I also think it will be a very special treat for everyone who first enjoys this musical journey alone, when they finally get to hear it as the backdrop next time they’re allowed a proper feast with some of the friends they’ve been missing.”

Available today on Bandcamp, it’s a steal at just $11.11. Plus, a dollar from each sale goes to Sweet Relief, an organization dedicated to supporting the daily struggle of being dedicated to a life of making music—which has certainly been made even harder now.

 

Alice Merton Joins AWOLNATION for New Version of ‘The Best’ – Lyrics Hit Home Right Now

 

 

When AWOLNATION debuted the single “The Best” in autumn of 2019, it seemed as if it could easily serve duel purpose as an inspiration for reaching for greatness, and an accidental parody of an American president who has little idea of what such greatness actually requires.

Now the exalted LA band have just released a new version featuring the fierce young British-Canadian songstress Alice Merton (whose 2017 single “No Roots” has racked up an astonishing 219 million views on YouTube). But in the context of this harrowing current coronavirus outbreak, the lyrics to the track have seemingly taken on an entirely new meaning. Indeed, as Merton and AWOLNATION frontman Aaron Bruno together intone, “Me I wanna walk a little bit taller, oh / Me I wanna feel a little bit stronger, oh / Me I wanna think a little bit smarter,” it sounds like a veritable survival mantra.

 

 

Perhaps more importantly, it also reminds us of the power of music to reach across crisis and unite us when we need it most. And in truth never have we needed it more.

“I’m very excited to have Alice join me on this song,” Bruno enthuses. “I’m glad that we were able to connect to create this new version, even though we are in different parts of the world as we all stay home right now.”

Both Merton and AWOLNATION have upcoming live dates that may face rescheduling due to the global pandemic. Stay tuned.

 

Here Are the Season 2 Teasers for FX’s ‘What We Do in the Shadows’

 

 

When last year the overwhelming grimness of the combination of Chernobyl and Season 3 of A Handmaid’s Tale left us trembling in a corner somewhere, we were only coaxed out by the promise of the premiere of an eponymous new FX series based on the 2014 film What We Do in the Shadows. A brilliantly absurdist mockumentary about four vampires living in a lugubrious mansion in suburban Staten Island, the series reveled in its carefully crafted gothic aesthetic, while also gleefully poking fun at familiar goth cliches.

A surprise hit, it is returning for a Season 2 on April 15—and the first teasers have just been released.

 

 

Smartly postmodernist, three of the bloodsuckers have dramatic, eternal Eastern European backstories—with correspondingly funereal fashion sense. While the other, Colin (Mark Proksch), is a preppy looking American described as an “energy vampire”—which is exactly what he is, working in a soulless office and draining co-workers of their energy by boring them senseless. Long suffering Guillermo (Harvey Guillen) is the “familiar” to pompous, puffed up vampire Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak), with the former describing his position as, “like being a best friend…who is also a slave.”

Rounded out by married vampires Laszlo and Nadja (Matt Berry and Natasha Demetriou, respectively), the trio+Guillermo go about their daily lives seemingly oblivious to what would constitute any semblance of normal living…except when circumstances find them, say, shopping at the big box pharmacy for glitter and crepe paper. The also attend a city council meeting as part of their attempt to, um, “take over” Staten Island.

 

 

One of the Season 2 teasers hilariously shows Nadja prepping for a drug store blood pressure test, in full garb. And since the first season’s list of special guests was so deliciously head-spinning, including Nick Kroll,  Tilda Swinton, Paul Reubens, Evan Rachel Wood, Oscar-winning director Taika Waititi (who helmed the original film), and Wesley Snipes, surely as a wink to his vampiric role in the Blade films, we can’t wait to see who pays a visit to Staten Island this time around.

What We Do in the Shadows Season 2 will be streaming on Hulu as of April 15.

 

Pandemic Grooves: Bedouin Release Sultry New EP ‘Whistleman’

 

 

Curiously enough, we’ve actually never needed music to make us move more than we need it now. After all, sheltering-in-place can lead to a worryingly sedentary situation, if not given proper consideration. Dancing at home, also, can produce a temporary euphoria—and what could be more welcome at this moment?

So we enthusiastically embraced the arrival of the new Bedouin EP in our in-box. The five track release by the venerable Brooklyn house music duo—Tamer Malki and Rami Abousabe—notably centers on new single and title track “Whistleman” (along with two more new songs), which brings the sultry grooves, and layers them with exotic soundscapes and moody, if ostensibly aloof vocals/harmonies. The result is kind of like the sonic equivalent of 72 hours in Morocco and Brazil, recalling the cosmopolitan cool of the likes of Thievery Corporation and Aluminum Group.

The track appears in three forms on the EP, including a thundering, bass heavy remix by Pablo Fierro.

 

 

“We’ve been working on this EP for a few years,” Malki explains, “writing and producing the three original tracks separately, and then putting them together; because we felt they made a nice story that way.”

“Whistleman” was actually specifically written with their new label in mind, intriguingly titled Human by Default. Abousabe rightly reminds that being human is, actually, the only decision that is entirely out of our control.

“Every other choice in life we can make for ourselves,” he observes. “And we embrace this heavily, as artists in our quest to challenge everything we currently understand musically. The artists [on the label] encompass the careful balance between musical discipline and creativity, and have proven over and over the ability to create what we feel are the most forward thinking and honest expressions. After all, the most exciting thing remains to be what is not yet created.”

This is a great start.

 

The Moxy Chelsea Has a New Flower Shop – We Definitely Needed That

 

 

Everyone is talking about airline stocks, and colleagues have been texting us photos of eerily empty NYC airports. Yet there has been surprisingly little talk of what hotels are going through as a result of the ominous coronavirus panic.

So we are inclined to applaud those hotels still endeavoring to spread a bit of hospitality joy amidst the hysteria. And the Moxy Chelsea, which was already a BlackBook fave, has just opened a gorgeous new flower shop, which greets visitors straight away at the entrance to the lobby. Imported all the way from London, McQueens Flowers offers guests and passersby the opportunity to witness their floral artistry firsthand—and we couldn’t think of a better way to divert from this overarching crisis than to observe such efflorescent ingenuity “in bloom.”

 

 

“McQueens Flowers has been telling stories with flowers since its founding in London in 1991,” says CEO Richard Eagleton. “After more than 25 years of sending our amazing and talented team of florists from London to create amazing floral designs for events across the U.S., we are thrilled to be embarking on a New York residency that showcases our team’s boundless creativity and the beautiful storytelling, which is at the heart of each arrangement and bouquet we produce.”

Make sure your visit includes a zip up to the Moxy’s 35th floor Fleur Room, where floral inspired cocktails like the Lilac Jane (Bombay London Dry Gin, Fresh Lime, Grapefruit Infused Pea Flower Tea, Lavender) and Aztec Marigold (Illegal Mezcal, Campari, Carpano Sweet Vermouth) will immerse you in nature’s most egalitarian bounty. Pretty…fabulous.

 

BlackBook Premiere: Visceral New Leah Capelle Single ‘I Keep Her’

Images by Mackenzie Breeden

 

Leah Capelle‘s new single “I Keep Her,” which BlackBook premieres here, opens with the stark confession: “I take too much and leave nothing for her / I don’t why I do it, and I don’t know how to stop.”

It’s this kind of emotional honesty that has propelled the young LA songstress steadily into the greater spotlight since her 2014 debut EP. And on this track, with the kind of visceral intensity of a Vanessa Carlton or Lykke Li, she conveys longing and vulnerability in equal measure, over thundering drums, and against an opulent, haunting sweep of strings.

She admits to a deep, emotional connection with women, something which created an understandable measure of confusion when she was younger. But she’s since learned to be more honest with herself, and accepting of her real feelings.

 

 

“As I got older, I started to realize that I had been lying to myself for a long time,” she confesses. “I was not as ‘straight’ as I had always claimed to be—and I was terrified of what that really meant. I carefully and cautiously started coming coming out as bisexual, and after my partner and I broke up, I was devastated; but I finally had complete freedom to be wholly and utterly myself.”

And then concludes, “In truth, this song isn’t just for one person—it’s for all the women I’ve loved thus far and for the women still searching, wondering…”

The song is taken from her new album triptych, due out April 3 via The Orchard / Little Cabin Entertainment.

 

Women’s History Month: DC’s Hamilton Hotel Unveils Timely ‘Suffrage Suite’

 

 

A new UN global report shockingly revealed that nearly 90% of men hold some measure of bias against women. And to have just witnessed arguably the most qualified Democrat presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren, being put in the ridiculous position of being asked whether she would endorse Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, is surely enough to make any and every woman want to take a sledgehammer to the entire…”system.”

March is Women’s History Month. So it’s a 31-day period every year where we can all make a concerted effort to draw attention to these seemingly glaring inequities and injustices. And to that end, DC’s historic Hamilton Hotel (named for Eliza Hamilton) will this Thursday premiere it’s new Suffrage Suite: Women Win the Vote, honoring the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to pull the most important lever in America.

 

 

With photos, newspapers and narratives reminding us of the courage and determination of suffragists such as Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul, it is an exigent reminder that a century ago we made an epochal commitment to the advancement of women—but also a wake up call as to how, despite great successes, we have often failed in that endeavor.

Curated by Glamour Editor-in-Chief Samantha Barry (with a design by Terri Jannes Interiors), artifacts were culled from Freedom Forum‘s Newseum collection, and include a copy of Stanton and Anthony’s seminal women’s rights newspaper, The Revolution; a striking 1916 suffrage poster by activist Carrie Chapman Catt; an assortment of historical campaign buttons celebrating women; and the New Yorker magazine’s 2018 The Year of the Woman issue, paying tribute to the 116 women elected to Congress in that very same year—a fitting riposte Hillary Clinton’s questionable defeat in the 2016 presidential election.

 

 

“The fight for women’s suffrage is a remarkable story of the enduring power of the First Amendment to create change,” says Carrie Christoffersen, executive director of the Freedom Forum’s Newseum. “We are thrilled that visitors to the Hamilton Hotel can learn about the fearless women who won the right to vote after a decades-long struggle.”

Following the unveiling of the suite, Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, and senior advisor to the Obama Foundation, will lead a panel titled “Women’s Leadership on the Political Stage: Valerie Jarrett in Conversation with Samantha Barry,” 7:00pm at the hotel.

 

Armory Art Preview: Tim Youd Will Type Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Bell Jar’ Into Abstraction

Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, 2017

 

In the often assiduously intellectualized realm of contemporary art, conceptualizing has been pushed to places it probably didn’t really need to go. But LA based artist Tim Youd actually discovered a gap in the interconnectivity of modern culture, and has spent the last several years trying to close it, to fascinating effect.

Indeed, his monumental project 100 Novels finds him balancing along the imaginary line between performance and painting, as he sets about typing out a hundred of the most exalted works of literature in public. The end result are his surrealistic diptychs, that ask whether words can perhaps have underlying abstract interpretations.

 

William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, 2018

 

He’s currently 67 novels in; and at this year’s Armory Show in New York, March 4 – 8, he will be undertaking Sylvia Plath’s 1963 classic The Bell Jar, a shocking (at the time) window into mental illness and its devastating effects. Whether by design or by chance, it’s a stunningly relevant work, considering our current and escalating mental health crisis.

Youd will be at the Cristin Tierney gallery booth #303, Pier 90, within the show’s Perspectives Section. In the lead up, with caught up with him to discuss what it all means.

 

 

What was the initial impetus for 100 Novels?

One day, years ago, I was reading a book while sitting in my studio. I had a moment of insight, when I realized that the page of a book is, on a formal level, a rectangle of black inside of a larger rectangle of white. I had a palpable urge to crush the book between my hands, to flatten it in a way that all the words of the book made the rectangle of black dense and thick and textured.
With that in mind, I decided I’d retype a book, all on one page, so that all the words would be there in that rectangle. And I’d retype the book on the same make/model typewriter used by the author. The words would accumulate sentence upon sentence, until the page was dense and illegible. And that’s exactly what happened when I retyped Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

How do you choose the specific novels?

The novels have to have been typed by the author. I have to be compelled by the book enough to want to spend a week or two or three retyping it. And a location for the performance has to become available for me. I’ve sought permission from writers’ houses, I’ve been approached by curators, my gallerist has helped me. The various performances have come together in different ways.

What is particularly meaningful to you about The Bell Jar?

The Bell Jar has been on my list since I first decided I’d retype a hundred novels. Thanks to LA Times arts writer Carolina Miranda, I’ve visited Smith College’s Special Collections Library to review the Sylvia Plath archive. Smith College’s Plath scholar Karen Kukil advised me on the [specific] typewriter Sylvia Plath used for The Bell Jar. It’s a retyping that’s been long in the works.

 

Flannery O’Connor’s Wiseblood, 2016

 

Is there a personal discipline that you’re trying to achieve via this process?

I’m trying to be a devoted reader, and to become a better reader with each retyping. I thought I was a pretty good reader before I began the 100 Novels project. Now 67 novels into it, I can say I wasn’t a good reader at all. I’ve improved, and I hope to keep improving. It is its own reward to love and appreciate the art of these novels.

How do the location and setting affect the process?

I’ve been to a lot of places at this point. Some synch up seamlessly with the performance—Virginia Woolf’s cottage in East Sussex, England, or William Faulkner’s House in Oxford, MS, for example. Some locations are unorthodox, like the parking lot of the Terminal Annex Post Office in downtown Los Angeles, where I retyped Charles Bukowski’s Post Office.

The Armory will be a unique situation. 

It will present its own challenges. There are going to be a lot of people, and many of them may want to engage with me—and through all my previous performances, I’ve engaged back. At the same time, I want to have the uninterrupted time to focus on the book. My gallerist Cristin Tierney and I have talked about a few ways to do this. We are going to start on Wednesday March 4, and adjust on the fly.

How would you describe the finished product?

My finished piece is a diptych, echoing the formal quality of two pages of a book. The pages are heavily worked and distressed, having been through the typewriter repeatedly. It’s both a drawing and a relic. And all the words of the novel are present, but illegible.

 

 

Evan Connell’s Mrs. Bridge, 2015