Surviving Her Second Album
Joan As Police Woman
To Survive / Cheap Lullaby / Buy
Joan As Police Woman makes a surprising return on To Survive, the daunting follow up to her wildly successful 2006 debut, Real Life. The album centers on her journey to access the inner folds of the human experience, from the joy of birth to the heartbreak of death. As such, it’s an album that, contrary to its title, does much more than survive. Joan’s boundless gift – she’s not just a singer/song writer, but music aficionado, and classically trained violinist (amongst other instruments) – allows her to craft incredibly beautiful songs, whether they’re melancholy or maddeningly bright-eyed.
Joan’s musical evolution from Real Life (which made year end lists across the UK last year) to the gorgeous To Survive was influenced by the untimely death of her mother. An homage to her mother’s struggle with breast cancer, the album (surprisingly) could almost be called “pretty;” a far cry from her former punk rock style. But the shift is understandable. When she fell in love with the classic soul of Al Green, her affair with punk was cut short. The slogan on her website says it all: “Beauty is the new punk rock.” Her ultimate goal (for her albums, at least) is capturing a performance in real time, with a less-is-more approach. She says, “Music is about people playing together, not manipulating sounds on Pro-Tools. It’s an act, not a process.”
JAPW’s act was captured perfectly on To Survive, a well-crafted response to Real Life, and an ethereal, uncannily blissful album well worth a listen or 10.
MP3: Joan As Police Woman: To Be Loved
Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson Burning Up The Internets
We already reported his track “Buriedfed” being featured on Stereogum, Pitchfork’s Forkcast, RCRDLBL.com and The Fader, and now Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson can add another notch to his belt with today’s track review on Paper Thin Walls. The favorable mention comes just one day short of the official release of MBAR’s self-titled debut, which will be available June 10th at all digital retailers. He will also be playing a CD release show at Brooklyn’s Union Pool on Friday, June 20th. We’ll see you there, maybe along with some of these folks.
Sharon Jones on Late Night with Conan O’Brien Wednesday
This Wednesday, the incomparable Sharon Jones is playing Late Night With Conan O’Brien. The soul funk diva has been touring relentlessly with her Dap-Kings since last year’s much-praised 100 Days, 100 Nights, but we too rarely have the chance to watch her perform on TV. Don’t miss her performance!
MP3: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings – 100 Days, 100 Nights
Crush, Kill, Destroy: The Best of Organized Konfusion
It‘s tempting to think of Organized Konfusion as true rap underdogs. Mention the Queens duo to someone who‘s not a hip-hop head or to some of these younger fans (hmmmpfff) and I’d say, oh 7 times out of 10, the response you’ll get is “who?” Unlike many of their peers, you probably won’t hear one of their singles at some frat party or on some hip bar jukebox, or on Hot 97‘s “Old School Hour” [do they even do that anymore?], or even on one of those myriad VH1 docs devoted the history of hip-hop.
This is not to say that they were particularly obscure. All three of their releases came out on imprints with major label backing. The last two, 1994‘s Stress: The Extinction Agenda and 1997’s The Equinox even enjoyed moderate chart success. Still they probably have more name recognition these days as solo artists. Pharaohe Monch vaulted to indie hip-hop superstardom in 1999 with the ubiquitous single “Simon Says (Get The F*ck Up)” which could be heard everywhere from clubs to college parties to the movie “adaptation” of Charlie’s Angels. He also appeared on the equally ubiquitous smash “Oh No” with Mos Def and Nate Dogg, a one-off single that became the best selling rap 12″ of all time. His first album Internal Affairs boasted guest appearances by a number of high profile emcees, and came within spitting distance of the top 40. Prince Po‘s 2004 solo debut The Slickness featured contributions from Dangermouse, Cee-Lo, MF Doom, Raekwon, and Madlib among others.
Of course their solo careers have had an underdog quality as well. Pharoahe Monch and Rawkus Records, the label that released Internal Affairs, ran into a heap of legal trouble due to the uncleared Godzilla sample that powered “Simon Says’” monstrous beat, resulting in the album being pulled from shelves and taken out of circulation where it remains. He wouldn’t release another album for 8 years. Prince Po’s solo recordings remain woefully underappreciated despite scads of acclaim.
Philly Rapper R-Swift Explodes on Scene with Hard-Hitting Message of Positivity
Philly rapper R-Swift is more than your typical “conscience” hip-hop artist. Raised on the streets of Brooklyn and Philadelphia, Swift began developing his skills as a rapper at the young age of 11 and rapped about the things he saw in his daily environment – namely sex, drugs, violence, and the constant rush for fame. Swift himself was headed down this path when he discovered the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Men’s Choral and took a different turn in life. After becoming a Christian in 1998 at the age of 17, Swift changed his tone and began spreading different message.
Soapbox is his hard-hitting sophomore album, out June 24th on Grammy nominated urban Christian label Cross Movement Records, and it finds the rapper wasting no time in calling today’s rap scene out for its gratuitous use of the aforementioned sex, drugs, money, and violence. Joined by fellow Christian artists Iz Real, J.R., Mac the doulous, Lecrae, Phien-X Zekaryah, Monty G, Young Josh, and Ackdavis, and backed by a gospel choir, Swift now spreads the messages of positivity and hope he’s found, topics he also shares with at risk youth at Youth Study Center in Philadelphia. In lead single “Good Mourning” Swift celebrates the gratitude he feels for each day since giving his life to God. “Lifetime” addresses the dangers of the thug life and the pursuit of wealth.
MP3: R-Swift – “Good Mourning”