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Playboy’s 2013 Music Guide
  • April 01, 2013 : 15:04
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This glamorous, leggy Norwegian singer and bass player is somehow unknown in the U.S., which is odd because her best songs, including “Bummer Gun” and “On It (Kapow!),” have a funky electronic eccentricity that recalls the 1980s smashes Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis concocted for the S.O.S. Band, Alexander O’Neal and Janet Jackson. And Vik’s cover of Ready for the World’s “Oh Sheila” is so spot-on, it’s no wonder she has a Jheri curl.


It’s easy to admire the range of music and musicians this South Indian American pianist explores, including, on his wonderful recent album Accelerando, Michael Jackson and Duke Ellington. But what distinguishes him is his storming groove, which falls in rapid clusters of notes and gales of chords. Iyer plays as though he thinks his piano is a drum kit.


On the band’s Facebook page, a follower from Chicago recently likened being a My Bloody Valentine fan to rooting for the Cubs. That’s not fair: Cubs fans have been waiting since 1908, and MBV took a mere 22 years to follow up Loveless, a shimmering landmark of noise and overtones, a kind of Sgt. Pepper’s for hipsters. The new release, m b v, is small by comparison but still distorted and gorgeously mysterious. Another great development: The band has resumed touring, and its shows are not to be missed. The one time we saw MBV, the volume was so loud we had an auditory hallucination.


Black music never sits still for long, so to call José James a traditionalist means he’s conversant with more than 50 years of influences, including dim-the-lights jazz, the minimalist funk of Gil Scott-Heron and the kind of soft-falling hip-hop beats used by D’Angelo and A Tribe Called Quest. It’s a rebirth of cool: On No Beginning No End, this son of a Panamanian sax player uses his voice like a horn, murmuring oblique lyrics about separation and desire.


Here’s the Nashville they don’t show you on Nashville. Caitlin Rose is the daughter of a successful country songwriter, but at the age of 16 she preferred the Ramones. Now 25, she writes graceful, tender songs at the outskirts of the country tradition—Patsy Cline never sang “Let’s move this fucking jet.” But it’s not the cursing (or the banjo and slide guitars) that elevates her second album, The Stand-In; it’s how Rose finds sensational new ways to describe loneliness and regret.

All blogs have strong opinions, but few have the expertise and imagination of Any Major Dude With Half a Heart. A champion of the championless, the Dude puts together thematic MP3 playlists. The best posts at HalfheartedDude.com are the R&B compilations from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, which resurrect great songs that should never have been forgotten.


Kendrick Lamar was born 25 years ago in Compton, California, the same time and city in which N.W.A introduced the fuck-tha-police code of gangsta rap. Guided by N.W.A producer Dr. Dre, Lamar recounts his adolescent delight in drugs, women and crime. But he’s not a gangsta—he’s caught between gangs and cops, neither of whom he likes. He calls his album good kid, m.A.A.d city “a short film,” and the striking narrative may remind you of The Wire. We won’t spoil the ending.


Richard Hell (no, it’s not his real name) was a founding member of three momentous mid-1970s New York bands: Television, the Heartbreakers, and Richard Hell and the Voidoids. His memoir I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp fearlessly recounts the social, musical and narcotic history of downtown culture and punk rock: poverty, ennui, safety pins, foreign films, misanthropes and a dead turtle Hell kept in a glass jar “as a sort of decoration or artwork.”

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read more: entertainment, music, issue april 2013

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