Yesterday in New York was beautiful—hot enough to get a sweat on, even—and if you were lucky enough to take your midday walk through Soho you may have run across an unusual sight: a pop-up concert featuring ?uestlove on drums and Rhazel on the mic.
The duo freestyled for twenty minutes, with Rhazel doing some vicious beatboxing, for a very appreciative lunchtime crowd of about three hundred. The event was affiliated with Red Bull Music Academy, a music festival of sorts that spans the entire month of May—“37 events with over 230 artists at 34 venues across New York.”
In a nod to the street-level nature of the performance, Rhazel asked the crowd if this show were as good as one you’d see on the A train. He also asked where Mayor Bloomberg was at, scanning the audience to no avail.
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’s star-studded Downton Abbey sendup, Downton Sixbey (named for the studio in which he films) has been surprisingly entertaining as of late, with special guest stars Whoopi Goldberg, Brooke Shields, Fred Armisen and Carson Daly, who keeps getting killed off by hot-air balloons, asserting ?uestlove as the heir to Downton Sixbey. Jimmy Fallon dons a rather unconvincing British accent and, as Lord Grantham, makes some unfortunate business decisions, including investing in something called the “Shake Weight” and a restaurant franchise called Thank Heaven’s It’s Friday.
This week, we were treated to two new episodes, chock full of dowager-spoofing bon mots (“heir today, gone tomorrow”) and scenes from the “downstairs” writers’ room, where crude puns about knob-polishing and recycling jokes (“Downton has fallen on hard times”) abound. Oh, and the Thomas and O’Brien avatars are nearly perfect. On Wednesday night, following Cousin ?uestlove announcing which of the lord’s daughters he has chosen to marry. The answer will be unsurprising here, and the wedding episode that ensues is equally amusing, especially for fans of the Edwardian melodrama. Here are both, for your mid-morning viewing.
Even when Prince is being absolutely ridiculous, it’s hard not to love everything he does. Following up on his driving, blues-rock single “Screwdriver” released at the end of January, His Royal Badness has released “Breakfast Can Wait,” a smooth, funky little ode to the most important meal of the day, or rather, delaying the most important meal of the day for more intimate activities.
And you’d better believe there’s food imagery happening: “Hotcakes smothered in honey, I’mma have to pass / fresh cup of coffee, no no, I’ve gotta have you in my lap.” The first two thirds or so groove, but then Prince goes into this chipmunk voice pitch distortion thing at the end, which totally kills the mood. But maybe that’s what he was going for. He’s Prince, after all. Still, it’s definitely worth a listen and hopefully an indicator of even more Prince.
If that’s not enough Prince (and it’s never enough Prince), the all-star Prince tribute show at Carnegie Hall is right around the corner on March 7th, featuring an impressive and varied lineup including D’Angelo, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Talib Kweli, Sandra Bernhard, Bettye LaVette, The Roots and Princess with Gretchen Lieberum and Maya Rudloph. Yes, please. And tickets for the show will benefit a number of arts and education programs for New York children. What’s not to love?
Have a listen to “Breakfast Can Wait” below, or if the video doesn’t work, you can download the new track for the low, low price of 0.88 over at Prince’s website.
As if you needed further proof that Jimmy Fallon is the greatest: Christina Aguilera performedLove Your Body in his office with the Roots playing music with office supplies.
Christina’s vocals are powerhouse as usual and Jimmy wielded the boop-boop of his iPhone like a champ. Questlove was a badass playing coffee pots with pencils and various other members of the Roots "played" staplers, a keyboard, scissors, rulers and ripped paper.
The whole thing is pretty righteous and may even be better than the time Carly Rae Jepsen performedCall Me Maybe with Jimmy, et al.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.
Mark Kozelek, once lead singer for Red House Painters and now the driving force behind folksier successor Sun Kil Moon, performed two songs (and a special backstage performance) with The Roots for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on Monday—marking his TV debut, incredibly—and did not have a meltdown or piss off Questlove. For a musician with as many anecdotes of bizarre/prickly stage behavior attached to him as Kozelek does, that’s not bad!
While Mark may be foiling certain expectations by not heckling his audiences so much these days, the performances themselves have certainly lived up to snuff, even in the often perilous talk-show environment. Kozelek and company warmed up with a track from Sun Kil Moon’s latest, Among The Leaves, before launching into the pure honey of Red House Painters’ “Mistress,” a tremulous shoegaze track that ripples like water shot through with frail autumn light.
The “Mistress” take is so pretty, in fact, that you feel sure someone—if not zany, apocryphally cruel Kozelek himself—might interrupt and ruin it. Then again, this may be just the sort of pessimistic outlook you have to endure after listening to too many Mark Kozelek records. Whatever, small price to pay.
It’s a big year for Frank Ocean, whose Channel Orange is definitely in my top five records of 2012 already. So it’s not quite a surprise that he’s been tapped as a headliner for All Tomorrow’s Parties I’ll Be Your Mirror Festival next month in September, curated by Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs.
ATP, which was recently moved to Manhattan from Asbury Park, New Jersey, was boasting a pretty great lineup already, including Lee Ranaldo, The Roots, José Gonzålez, Dirty Three, The Antlers, Chavez, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Braids, Philip Glass & Tyondai Braxton, and comedians Hannibal Buress, Janeane Garofalo, and Kurt Braunohler. Headling Saturday night is, of course, the Afghan Whigs, who played their first show in eleven years back in May at Bowery Ballroom.
In other Frank Ocean / Afghan Whigs news, here’s the stellar cover of "Lovecrimes" that Greg Dulli & Co. recorded:
The past week has been a wild ride for Frank Ocean, after the revelation that his first love was a man. Now, he’s has put his debut LP Channel Orange for sale on iTunes a week ahead of its physical release. The R&B singer celebrated the album last night by making his TV debut on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Backed by The Roots and a string section, he performed a raw, stunning version of “Bad Religion,” a confessional track from Channel Orange. And when Frank sings, “I could never make him love me,” just try to not wipe away a tear.
Fiona Apple may have been on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to discuss her acclaimed new album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, and perform some new material from said album.
This was all well and good, and indeed her new tunes are worth tuning into her late-night appearances for. But the most pleasant surprise was her closer, a collaboration with Fallon’s house band, The Roots, on a dynamite cover of Paul McCartney & Wings’ "Let Me Roll It." All parties totally nail their parts, and Apple ends by giving an enthusiastic birthday greeting to McCartney. Here’s hoping the lad from Liverpool, now 70, tuned in.