Search results for KING + COUNTRY

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Country artist Morgan Wallen jokes about breaking COVID-19 protocols in ‘SNL’ sketch

Country artist Morgan Wallen finally made an appearance on Saturday Night Live after being kicked off the show’s line-up two months ago.

Wallen was due to be the musical guest on a show in October but had his performance pulled when videos of him at bars and parties without a mask went viral.

  • Read more: The 25 best country music songs of all time

The Nashville-based singer-songwriter appeared in a sketch on the show last night (December 5) that skewered his removal from the past episode. In it, he was visited by versions of himself one and two months into the future, played by Jason Bateman and Bowen Yang respectively.

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Both future Wallens advised the star to leave the party to protect his slot on the sketch show. “Trust me somebody’s gonna post a video of you ignoring COVID protocols and the whole internet’s gonna freak out,” Bateman warned him.

“I just specifically asked her not to post it,” Wallen replied, referring to a video that cast member Chloe Fineman had just taken of the pair kissing. “I thought it was an airtight approach as well, but once people hear about the party, you’re in big trouble man, you’re gonna get kicked off Saturday Night Live,” Bateman responded. Watch it above now.

Days after the videos of the musician surfaced online, he posted a video on his Instagram account explaining that he had been removed from the show.

“I’m not positive for COVID, but my actions this past weekend were pretty short-sighted and they have obviously affected my long-term goals and my dreams,” he said. “I respect the show’s decision because I know I put them in jeopardy, and I take ownership for this.”

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He added: “I think I have some growing up to do. I think I’ve lost myself a little bit. I’ve tried to find joy in the wrong places, and it’s left me with less joy…I’m going to take a step back from the spotlight for a little while, and go work on myself.”

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Staircase Karen: "Go Back To Whatever Fucking Asian Country You Belong"

Police have launched an investigation into racist threats made towards an Asian-American woman.

Yet again, another "Karen" video has gone viral, this time coming out of Torrance, California. The incident began when a young Asian woman filming her exercise routine quietly said “Jesus” after being unnecessarily bumped into by a middle-aged white woman. The white woman, now dubbed “Staircase Karen,” quickly became enraged, threatening the younger woman and going off on a racist tirade.

“Next time you talk to me like that, you're gonna get your ass kicked by my family, they're gonna fuck you up!” she exclaimed. After making this threat she then demanded her to “Go back to whatever fucking Asian country you belong,” adding “You bitch! This is not your place, this is not your home, we don't want you here!” 

“Staircase Karen” then challenged the woman to post the incident on social media, saying "I hope you do because every fucking person will beat the crap out of you from here on out.” Undeterred by this threat, the video has now gone viral on twitter, with some declaring her “Karen of the Year.” 

While twitter users have gotten a good laugh out of the incident, law enforcement and public officials are taking the event much more seriously. Torrance Mayor Patrick Furey launched a police investigation in the name of “public safety,” stating that this type of racist behavior will not be tolerated. 

 

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Cedric Burnside Hill Country Love

Almost halfway through Hill Country Love, Cedric Burnside untangles a skein of blues from his guitar and starts singing, “Here I go, bout to walk through the door/I see people, all over the floor/I can’t blame them, the music is hot you know.” The opening of “Juke Joint”, one of the many high points of Burnside’s new album, does much to position his songwriting, and his music, within the rich tradition of hill country blues, placing it firmly in the juke joint: old rural weekend venues where black communities would gather to drink, eat, hang out and play music. It’s no surprise, then, that photographer and scholar Bill Steber once called juke joints the “kiln where the musical fires burned brightest” in the Mississippi Delta.

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For Burnside, the juke joint is emblematic of both the development of hill country blues, and the community spirit that informs his music. He’s particularly well placed to carry that history: his grandfather was legendary hill country blues musician, RL Burnside; his father, Calvin Jackson, was a drummer who played with the likes of Jessie Mae Hemphill and Junior Kimbrough. All were key players who brought hill country blues into the late 20th and early 21st century. Burnside started playing with his grandfather, who he calls Big Daddy, in his mid-teens; negotiating the road as a youngster opened his eyes, and when he’d return to school after touring, his fellow students would say he “talked like a fifty-year old”, Burnside laughs.

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Being around such musicians also helped Burnside understand, at an almost molecular level, the histories of hill country blues, and the way those histories inform how this seemingly sui generis music comes together. Fundamentally, it builds out of fife and drum blues, a form of music where a cane fife (a small flute) player leads a troop of drummers. This music was first documented for a wider listenership by Alan Lomax, who ‘discovered’ Sid Hemphill, one of the key sources of hill country blues, in the early ’40s. From that music, and subsequent fife and drum corps like Othar ‘Otha’ Turner and his Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, you get the single-minded stream of melody and polyrhythmic complexity that makes Hill country blues so unique.

If anyone can be singled out as being responsible for bringing hill country blues to wider attention, though, it’s Mississippi Fred McDowell, whose Lomax recordings are among the foundational texts of modern blues. Burnside tips his hat to McDowell several times on Hill Country Love, giving remarkably faithful, spirited performances of McDowell classics “You Got To Move” and “Shake Em On Down”. On both, Burnside goes acoustic, the slide burring beautifully against the strings as Burnside sings these songs with deft confidence and a sensitivity to the curious corners of the melodies; he’s obviously drunk deeply from McDowell’s archive of recordings, and he knows how to mobilise that knowledge and understanding to stay faithful to the music’s past, while carving his own initials into the music too.

But the connection with McDowell, for Burnside, is even more intimate and immediate. “Him and my Big Daddy was really good friends,” he says. “They played house parties together; they drank moonshine together. He was one of the ones that I really wish I could have got to meet and shake his hand. That’s one of the reasons why I put ‘Shake Em On Down’ and ‘You Got To Move’ on the album. My Big Daddy used to play those songs.” One thing that keeps doubling back, throughout Hill Country Love, is the remarkably interwoven community that is hill country blues, the way the Burnside and Hemphill dynasties are so core to the music and its development, and the way this history feeds itself and creates parameters for the music that are, however, never limitations.

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You can hear those connections and parameters most clearly, perhaps, in the closing “Po Black Maddie”, where Burnside takes on a song from his grandfather’s catalogue and makes it his own. It’s one of the album’s most bravura performances, the guitar playing limber and lithe as Burnside and his band ride the song’s mantric riff and structure to the skies. It’s also an excellent example of what makes this music so special and unique – it’s fixed to a point; the music is hypnotic, droney, repetitive, but not reductively so, and it creates its own energy, its own head of steam, through such stark repetition. “I think that’s one of the good things of hill country blues,” Burnside reflects, “that drone, that hypnotic beat. It’s always going. No matter where the music goes, that beat is still there.”

If there’s a key to Hill Country Love’s 14 songs, it’s perseverance, when it comes both to the music, and to the life that sustains it. On “I Know”, Burnside’s cat’s-claw guitar figure is shadowed, beautifully, by Patrick Williams’ harmonica, keening away in the back of the mix, before stepping forward for a solo that draws as much as it can out of a child’s clutch of notes. A run of songs midway through the album weave together tightly to create parallels between dedication to one’s faith, and dedication to one’s music: “Closer”’s clipped guitars are tracked by Burnside’s rich voice, while “Love You Music” is carried by a riff that’s strangely filigree, while drummer Artemas LeSueur, the understated heartbeat of Hill Country Love, shifts from deep, sly toms, to martial clamour on the snare.

Toll On They Life” feels like the album’s centrepiece, though, the simple poetry of Burnside’s lyrics cracked open by a surprising, unexpected chord change that leads the song into new terrain, briefly: the flourish feels like light chiming through carriage doors. Throughout, Burnside is quietly observational, taking in the way “People get mad when things don’t quite go the way they want/They do crazy things out of spite”; soon he’s warning, “People will lie in your face/To get things to go they way.” What’s remarkable about Burnside’s delivery here is the way it see-saws between a kind of dispassionate observation and an understated, yet stern judgement – something he can flick between in the simple curve of a syllable.

Lest this all sounds too heavy, Burnside’s also able to cut loose, to follow a groove to its natural conclusion. “Funky” does just what it says, with a railway rhythm from LeSueur matched by a grinding guitar riff and Burnside’s itchy, tetchy repetition, like a dancefloor mantra, of the title’s imperative. “Smile” is slower, but the chipped guitar riff with its decisive cut-offs, traced in outline by sleepy harmonica and the deep prowl of the bass, has a sensuous, smoky sway. Luther Dickinson’s bass playing on the album can slip by at times, but it’s a keen, grounding weight to the songs, giving them real heft.

Dickinson’s also co-producer of the album, along with Burnside himself. Recorded in a rather prosaically described “old building in Ripley, Mississippi”, you get the sense here of two friends at play; this is music created with ease, songs that are uncluttered, with no fuss or flash, but plenty of commitment. It’s another compelling achievement for a blues artist whose institutional recognition – a Grammy for best traditional blues album for 2021’s I Be Trying; the Mississippi Governor’s Arts Award for Excellence – actually makes perfect sense. As the keeper of the flame of hill country blues, Burnside’s earned it, and then some.

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Beyoncé shares ‘Cowboy Carter’ album artwork and responds to backlash over country music

Beyoncé has revealed the official album artwork for ‘Cowboy Carter‘ and has addressed the backlash over her venture into country music.

The pop icon shared the name of her upcoming eighth studio LP  ‘Cowboy Carter’ via her official website on March 12. The site’s landing page featured a photo of a horse saddle with a red, white and blue sash that read “Country Carter.” Many believed that the photo of the saddle was the official album artwork.

Today (March 19), Beyoncé took to her official Instagram account to share the actual artwork for the LP. The photo sees the singer in a white cowboy hat with long platinum blonde locks while wearing a red, white and blue leather outfit holding an American flag and wearing a “Country Carter” sash while sitting upon a white horse.

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The artwork was shared in celebration of the ten day countdown until the album’s release on March 29.

“This album has been over five years in the making. It was born out of an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed…and it was very clear that I wasn’t. But, because of that experience, I did a deeper dive into the history of Country music and studied our rich musical archive. It feels good to see how music can unite so many people around the world, while also amplifying the voices of some of the people who have dedicated so much of their lives educating on our musical history,” wrote Beyoncé in the post’s caption.

She continued: “The criticisms I faced when I first entered this genre forced me to propel past the limitations that were put on me. act ii is a result of challenging myself, and taking my time to bend and blend genres together to create this body of work.”

The singer also revealed that there are “a few surprises on the album” and shared that she hopes that fans will be able to hear the “heart, soul, love and passion” she poured into the album.

“I focused on this album as a continuation of RENAISSANCE…I hope this music is an experience, creating another journey where you can close your eyes, start from the beginning and never stop. This ain’t a Country album.” she concluded. “This is a “Beyoncé” album. This is act ii COWBOY CARTER, and I am proud to share it with y’all!”

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The album is available for pre-save/pre-order here. Limited edition coloured vinyl pressings in red, white, blue and black are available as well as two limited-edition CDs with alternative cover photos featuring half of her face on display. The LP serves as the second instalment of what is expected to be a trilogy of ‘Renaissance’ albums.

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Her latest singles ‘Texas Hold ‘Em’ and ’16 Carriages’ will be featured on the album. Beyoncé unveiled the two tracks during this year’s NFL Super Bowl LVIII and announced the that her eighth album would be arriving this month. She made history by becoming the first Black woman to top the US country chart with ‘Texas Hold’ Em’.

In other news, Dolly Parton seemingly let slip that Beyoncé has covered her hit song ‘Jolene’.

While talking about Beyoncé’s pivot to country music in an interview with Knox News, Parton was asked about rumours that Beyoncé will include a cover of ‘Jolene’ on her new album. “Well, I think she has,” Parton said to Knox News. “I think she’s recorded ‘Jolene’ and I think it’s probably gonna be on her country album, which I’m very excited about that.” Parton added: “I love her! She’s a beautiful girl and a great singer.”

Kelly Rowland also responded to rumours on whether Beyoncé‘s new album will feature a Destiny’s Child reunion.

Rowland spoke to hip-hop commentator Big Tigger on the Atlanta radio station V-103 to promote the Tyler Perry-produced Netflix film Mea Culpa, in which she has a lead role. Tigger asked Rowland if the recent rumours about ‘Act II’ being “either rock-based or a [Destiny’s Child] reunion,” to which the 43-year-old replied “that is her business to talk about, not mind” before winking.

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Peter KingKing: From Rhythm to Soul – A Fusion of Music and Business Brews Sweet Melodies

Los Angeles-born singer-songwriter Peter KingKing defies easy categorization. He's a multi-faceted talent who blends musical passion with sharp business acumen. While managing car dealerships across the country, KingKing finds solace and artistic expression through his soulful music.

KingKing's love affair with music began in his youth. The melodies of the guitar and the rhythmic pulse of the drums became his haven. This early influence translates into his music today, where his lyrics paint vivid portraits of love, longing, and life's complexities with raw authenticity.

His music resonates deeply because it cuts through the noise and connects directly with the listener's core. "Sweeter Than," his latest release, exemplifies this artistic power. It's a captivating exploration of infatuation, weaving a narrative of love and yearning with the skill of a seasoned storyteller. The track's infectious beats and catchy hooks perfectly capture the universal experience of desiring something just out of reach.

https://open.spotify.com/track/5VDWrUHVAlT60oDFuzhOT6?si=28d7300935ae4340

"True (You) Pt. 1" and "True (You) Pt. 2" further solidify KingKing's artistic versatility. These soulful compositions lay bare the intricate experiences of love and heartbreak. He welcomes listeners into a world of unflinching honesty and vulnerability, where lyrics shift between passionate declarations of devotion and somber reflections on loss. It's a journey through his emotional landscape, a powerful illustration of his willingness to be transparent.

https://open.spotify.com/track/1cK6zd5YWkJFiUN0AHouB1?si=9ffbf0454b004eda

KingKing's music isn't just entertainment; it's a catalyst for self-discovery. Each melody and lyric peels back another layer, revealing the depths of human emotion and offering a glimpse into his soul. His infectious energy and heartfelt music continue to propel him forward, leaving a lasting impression on the music scene.

KingKing's "True (You)" is a powerful two-part story. The first track pulsates with the exhilaration of new love, while the second confronts the sobering reality of heartbreak. This intentional contrast allows listeners to connect with the full spectrum of a relationship, from the initial spark to the aftermath.

https://open.spotify.com/track/4Vd28hvSTePpmJ7LrqezRs?si=1d9fcdd791324889

What truly sets Peter KingKing apart is his vulnerability. He doesn't shy away from portraying the unfiltered emotions of love and loss. Through his music, he creates a space for listeners to not only be entertained but also to confront their own experiences with honesty and open-heartedness. This vulnerability is the key to his music resonating with such a wide audience seeking genuine connection in today's musical landscape.

KingKing's artistry extends beyond catchy melodies. He uses his music to forge authentic connections with his audience. By laying bare his vulnerabilities, desires, and struggles, he creates a space where listeners can connect with their own experiences. As Peter KingKing continues to navigate the world of music, his star is undoubtedly on the rise. His music leaves an indelible mark, a powerful reminder of the impact of honest storytelling and the unwavering pursuit of creative expression.

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The making of Love’s “She Comes In Colors”

Love’s reputation rests on their dazzling third album, 1967’s Forever Changes. But the journey there involved several different stops. Not least among these is “She Comes In Colors” – a jazzier, flute and harpsichord-peppered Arthur Lee composition from 1966’s Da Capo. The Los Angeles band’s second album – named after a musical term meaning “back to the beginning” – took a pivotal step on the odyssey from their eponymous debut’s garage rock towards an ornate, psychedelic form of rock’n’roll.

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“The first album was more minimalist, with everything recorded live,” recalls guitarist Johnny Echols, sipping ginger beer on a tour bus in Leeds, shortly before performing the hallowed catalogue with The Love Band. “But Da Capo was a more grown-up album. We wanted to push the envelope. I’m very proud of ‘She Comes In Colors’, because we’d been known as a garage rock band but suddenly jazz musicians would come up to us and ask, ‘How on earth did you guys come up with that..?’”

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The seeds of this adventure had been sown shortly before the main album sessions, when Love entered Sunset Sound Recorders’ Studio One with producer Jac Holzman and engineer Bruce Botnick to lay down “7 And 7 Is”, a hurtling proto-punk number that would become their first – and only – American Top 40 single (reaching No 33).

“That single was very different from the song Arthur had written,” says Echols, explaining that it had started out as “a kind of Dylanesque folk song about Arthur, very autobiographical”. As he explains it, an endorsement deal with Vox meant they could try out pioneering new effects, such as a tremolo box for a guitar and distortion pedal for the bass. “Which no-one had then. Arthur was listening in the booth and went, ‘That’s pretty cool.’” The results gave them the confidence to experiment even more, changing producers, studios and engineers for Da Capo and blossoming with “She Comes In Colors”. Receiving little airplay outside the LA area on release in 1966, the song wasn’t a hit but has had quite an afterlife. The Rolling Stones quoted it – “She comes in colours everywhere” – uncredited, in 1967 single “She’s A Rainbow”. The Hoosiers covered it and Janet Jackson sampled it. Even Madonna borrowed from it – unwittingly – on 1999 hit “Beautiful Stranger”, with producer William Orbit later admitting borrowing from the melody. “Arthur got a credit for that,” smiles Echols. “The whole group should have been credited really, but the acknowledgement was nice.”

JOHNNY ECHOLS: “My Little Book” had done quite well as a single [reaching US 52 in March 1966], so we wanted to keep pushing with “7 And 7 Is”.

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BRUCE BOTNICK: It was just really, really unusual for me. I had never heard anything like that before. But I loved the energy. The drummer [Alban “Snoopy” Pfisterer, who’d trained as a pianist, not a percussionist] struggled with the tempo. After about 30 takes Arthur said, “Sit down, I’ll play.” I guess Snoopy must have then figured out how to do it.

ECHOLS: By that time everyone was cursing at the poor man. We played it so much that by the end my fingers were bleeding, but after that we felt we could do anything. We realised we needed a real drummer, so finally got Michael Stuart [now Stuart-Ware] from the Sons Of Adam.

MICHAEL STUART-WARE: Arthur had heard the Sons play a few times. One day, he came by our pad in Laurel Canyon and said, “You guys can have this tune if you want it”, and banged out “7 And 7 Is” on his black Gibson acoustic. Our lead guitarist Randy Holden said, “That’s not really us”, so Arthur played us “Feathered Fish”. Randy went, “We’ll take that!” and we covered it. Love’s original drummer, Don Conca, was fabulous, but the drugs took over and he stopped showing up for gigs. One night Arthur asked, “Is there a drummer in the house?” So Snoopy had filled in, but was more comfortable once he switched to harpsichord. Arthur was always asking me to join and after the Sons stopped getting along, I finally said OK. When I bumped into Don Conca he said, “That’s cool, man. You’re the only drummer in Hollywood who can handle it.”

ECHOLS: Don Conca was a loud showman, like Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich. Michael was a finesse drummer. He did these rhythmic counterpoints that sounded marvellous. We all had eclectic tastes. Country, gospel, blues, jazz. Arthur and I went to the same Memphis high school as Charles Lloyd and I’d watch fascinated as he played clarinet. After we moved to Los Angeles, Charles came to see Love at [LA club] Bido Lito’s. We were drawing 10 times more people than him. He was kinda miffed, but light-heartedly. When we wanted to go more jazzy we got Tjay Cantrelli, who we’d played with in the Grass Roots, on woodwind. He was just going to play a session, but the flute changed the sound so much that he became part of the group.

STUART-WARE: I’d listened to the first Love album, but Arthur wanted to cover new ground from a jazz foundation. At the first practice at Arthur and [guitarist] Bryan MacLean’s pad on Brier, we smoked hash and listened to Charles Lloyd, Cat Stevens and Fresh Cream. Then Arthur played his new tunes on the Gibson, including “She Comes In Colors”. On stage at Bido Lito’s, Love were a natural LSD trip with no comedown, but the new songs sounded more sophisticated.

ECHOLS: We also changed producers. Mr Holzman [also Elektra Records boss] came from a folk music background and wanted everything clean and pristine, but our sound was loud, levels driven into the red. When Jac told us about Paul Rothchild, who’d just got out of prison for selling marijuana, we thought that was the coolest thing. We hadn’t heard his stuff. The only reason we hired him was because he’d gotten out of prison. We also got a new engineer, Dave Hassinger, who captured our sound as it was and got a great mix. We went into RCA Studios, because Paul Rothchild was working with The Doors in Sunset. RCA had installed an eight-track machine, so we could overdub on Da Capo. It was a brand new slate. I think Paul Rothchild expected us to do something like the first album. It took him a while to get used to these jazzier songs, but then he got on board and he was perfect.

STUART-WARE: Love ruled the Sunset Strip mysteriously. Because the group didn’t play often, everyone was always, “Where are they?” Our racial diversity enhanced that mystique and was an integral part of our difference.

ECHOLS: We were a racially diverse hard rock group because Arthur and I were racially diverse and grew up in a racially diverse community. We wanted our group to reflect who we were. We didn’t want to be typecast as R&B, or play the Chitlin circuit, where Chuck Berry’s manager had to carry a 45 and say, “Pay me now
or he’s not going on.”

BOTNICK: It was highly unusual to have a black person doing rock’n’roll, before Hendrix, but Arthur never called any race issues. He dealt with you on the level of: “This is my music and this is what I want.”

ECHOLS: Arthur had taken accordion lessons and his parents had also bought him an organ. He only joined the band I had with Billy Preston in school because young ladies flocked to us. He had a musician’s soul but didn’t want to take the time to become one. His genius was to be able to sit down with a group of us and sing songs that he’d written, and as we’d find the chords he’d go, “I like that.” He assembled the music like a collage, in his head from what we played. “She Comes In Colors” was the most difficult song on Da Capo to record. It probably took seven or eight takes, because in a way it’s three songs in one, but it’s hard to hear where the changes are.

STUART-WARE: Playing unusual time signatures didn’t present much of a challenge for anyone in the group. I’d listened to Dave Brubeck in school and played in a high school jazz group. The jazzy groove on “She Comes In Colors” was one I had from the get-go. I just had to play harder because I was up against electronic instruments. The flute and harpsichord duet was groundbreaking, and Arthur’s vocal was diverse and immaculate, as always.

ECHOLS: Arthur was a showboat, an introspective child who’d found his thing by being different. In summer he’d wear a fur coat and one shoe, sweating in that coat so much it smelled. He had this idea that a rock person should be nutty, but he was a fantastic poet. Even in elementary school he was always writing little rhymes. He had the knack of taking the most mundane situation into something interesting, and you’d think, ‘Wow.’ He wrote “She Comes In Colors” about his girlfriend, Annette Bonan. She’s Annette Ferrell now, but always wore colourful clothes, like the flower children did then.

STUART-WARE: I never really knew what the songs were about. Arthur usually left it to the listener to work out the reality. If he was ever asked, self-deprecation was his blade of choice: “It’s just about some chick.” But maybe he did write that song for Annette.

ECHOLS: When Arthur sang “When I was in England town, the rain fell right down” he’d never been to the UK. I explained, “Arthur, it should be ‘London town’.” But he sang it anyway. Maybe he didn’t want to share songwriting credits, but people here think “England town” is kinda cute.

BOTNICK: By then Love should have been hugely successful, but Arthur wouldn’t tour, wouldn’t leave Hollywood. In those days to promote an act properly you had to play somewhere to get radio. I think he felt comfortable and safe in his environment, but not touring harmed their career.

STUART-WARE: Concert promoters would track me down by phone. I’d call Arthur and the answer was always no. Eventually he got mad at me for asking. I often wondered, ‘What’s with the not playing?’

ECHOLS: We played in New York, Vegas, or Massachusetts, but we couldn’t play in the South or middle America, or sometimes we’d have bookings cancelled. The problem was the racial makeup of the group. It hurt us, because The Doors and Buffalo Springfield and all those other groups were able to tour. But we were getting successful, buying houses and had women chasing us, whereas at the start we were just trying to make a living. Also, we did some dumb things. I’ll demonstrate the mindset of a rock’n’roll kid. I bought an E-Type Jaguar, and when it ran out of gas I left it at the side of the street. My father begged me to go back for it. Eventually it was impounded and auctioned. Those cars are worth hundreds of thousands now. Leaving my car was probably the dumbest thing I ever did, along with insisting that Elektra sign The Doors. We got a fantastic offer from MCA Records, who could get us into way more shops, but we knew that having Love on their label was part of Elektra’s cachet. We figured that if they had The Doors, maybe they’d let us go. But instead all the money that was going to promote Love went on The Doors. People went “What did you do that for?” Because we were dumb kids! I was barely 18 then.

STUART-WARE: Then The Rolling Stones stole the line “She comes in colours” for “She’s A Rainbow”. Wasn’t Mick [Jagger] afraid of being sued? I remember we all thought, ‘Wow. How could Mick think it was OK to do that?’

BOTNICK: We all take stuff, but I do remember Arthur being offended.

ECHOLS: When Madonna used the melody from “She Comes In Colors” for “Beautiful Stranger”, Arthur was credited as a writer.

STUART-WARE: It doesn’t bother me that neither Da Capo or Forever Changes were hugely successful. What does bother me is that we didn’t work harder to promote both albums, or play more shows just for the thrill of playing.

ECHOLS: But even though Da Capo didn’t sell a whole lot, we felt we’d arrived as a group. People like The Beach Boys were talking to us as peers. On the next album we felt we had to push it to another higher level. The universe smiled on us, we did Forever Changes, and in the 55 years since it’s never been out of print.

The Love band featuring Johnny Echols tour the UK in July – tickets can be found here

Michael Stuart-Ware’s Love book, Behind The Scenes At The Pegasus Carousel, is now available as a Kindle under the title Pegasus Continuum

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The Making Of “Bra” by Cymande

A key scene in new documentary Getting It Back: The Story Of Cymande shows how DJ Jazzy Jay used to cut between two turntables to extend the exuberant breakdown of “Bra”, sending a Bronx block party into raptures. It’s no surprise that the track became a foundation stone of hip-hop, sampled by Sugarhill Gang, Gang Starr and De La Soul, as well as on Raze’s early house hit “Jack The Groove”.

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So who were the impossibly funky crew behind it? Surely they were from Harlem or New Orleans? Or maybe Kingston or Lagos? Nope. “Bra”’s co-writers Patrick Patterson and Steve Scipio grew up on the same street in Balham, south London, after their families emigrated to the UK from Guyana when they were kids. Coming of age in the late ’60s, they envisioned a band that would capture the spirit of the times – black pride, peace and love – while celebrating their Caribbean heritage. Their name came from a popular calypso about “a dove and pigeon fighting over a piece of pepper” – Cymande was the dove – and they recruited band members from south London’s Caribbean diaspora.

With lyrics that encouraged its listeners not to abandon the struggle (“But it’s alright/We can still go on”) “Bra” made a decent splash on its US release in 1973, following Cymande’s debut single “The Message” into the R&B charts and winning the band a support tour with Al Green. But back in the UK, the glass ceiling descended. Dispirited with the lack of opportunities for black British groups, Cymande disbanded in late 1974.

Patterson and Scipio eventually both studied law, going on to take up important positions in the governments of various Caribbean nations. As such, they were oblivious to Cymande’s second life as hip-hop progenitors. But word eventually reached them of their popularity amongst a new generation of crate-diggers, and Cymande reformed to jubilant scenes in 2014 with most of their original lineup intact. A new album is currently in the works, to follow the reissue of their original three albums.

“I had no idea,” says drummer Sam Kelly of Cymande’s miraculous rebirth. “One of the things that blows my mind is that we played in Brazil, we went to Croatia, all these places. My partner and I went to Australia a couple of years ago – we’d go out to a restaurant and hear our music being played in Melbourne, 12,000 miles away. It still puts a shiver down my spine.”

PATTERSON: I came to London in 1958, Steve came in ’63. And since then we’ve been together. Our street was full of people, many of whom came from our country, and we were all in the same community. So we carried our Caribbean culture with us. [In the late ’60s] we had a jazz group called Metre, which was the genesis of Cymande. We used to do Miles Davis’s “Footprints”, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, things like that. We liked to play in different time signatures. Looking back on it now, we were very inventive.

SCIPIO: For seven or eight months before we started to put Cymande together, we also played with a Nigerian band called Ginger Johnson And His African Drummers. Ginger was a well-known performer, he played with The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park.

PATTERSON: All of it contributed to where we were as musicians, directing us towards our future musical style.

KELLY: We started in the basement of my family house on Crawshay Road in Brixton. The main thing they emphasised is that, come hell or high water, they wanted to do original material. I wasn’t playing an instrument at all before I joined Cymande, but I used to listen to everything from James Brown to Hendrix, Sam & Dave to Pink Floyd. I was a blank canvas – I didn’t want to sound like any other drummer. The person that had the most influence on my playing was Steve. He didn’t play bass rhythmically, he played it lyrically. I was just trying to complement what he was playing.

PATTERSON: The support for black bands like ours was from places like Upstairs At Ronnie Scott’s, The 100 Club, the Pheasantry, Café Des Artistes. Small venues. We played the Croydon Greyhound with Edgar Broughton.

SCIPIO: We started doing some shows outside London, in some of the northern clubs. But I don’t think we were what they were expecting! In some of them, it didn’t go down very well…

PATTERSON: [adopts bolshie northern accent] “Do you know any Bill Haley? Come on!”

KELLY: Obviously we came across problems when we were trying to get record deals. They’d say, “You’re an all-black band, you should try to sound like the Americans – Otis Redding or Curtis Mayfield.” But we didn’t want to sound like that.

SCIPIO: There’s so many versions about how we connected with [producer] John Schroeder. John says he was in Soho, was passing this club and heard this racket going on. But my recollection is that our booking agent brought John Schroeder to us. In those days, John was a cool fella! Long blond hair and a big white Roller.

KELLY: He liked what he heard and thought he could work with us as a producer, which is a bit strange in a way, because the people that he had produced before – Cliff Richard or Helen Shapiro – were a million miles away from what Cymande was going for. But he let us just do what we did.

PATTERSON: We always give him credit for his commitment to the band. He liked what he heard and wanted to capture that, not to produce it or turn it into something else.

SCIPIO: Most of the first album was already written because those were the songs we were using on the road – they got perfected while we were gigging. For “Bra”, the bass was the genesis. How we were writing at the time is that the bass was used melodically. I’d go to Patrick with an idea and often he’d start putting stuff on top of that. In some songs, the vocals were the last thing to be developed. Normally it’s the other way around.

PATTERSON: When I was laying things on top, I was just thinking about patterns to fit. I’m a touch player, not a heavyweight player, so I’m bouncing off Steve rather than setting a thing myself.

KELLY: Unlike a lot of rhythm sections who are trying to lock in, we’re all playing individual things, so you’ve got this mixture going on.

SCIPIO: “Bra” was one of the popular songs at gigs. The middle break with just the bass and drums, as recognised in the documentary, people appreciated that even then.

KELLY: I’m playing four-to-the-bar on the bass drum. We were just trying to think how we could join the middle of the song to the end section. But the DJs turned this into a whole new record – amazing.

PATTERSON: When we came up, it was the time of “Say It Loud, I’m Black And I’m Proud”. You had the Black Panthers, you had the Black Liberation Front, you had artists who were articulating a black position and trying to make sure that black people recognised the importance of working together. The lyrics of “Bra” reflected that time.

SCIPIO: “Bra” is slang for brother. Within our community, everybody knew what it meant. It was only when we went to the States that you might have people saying, “Why are they singing about brassières?”

PATTERSON: Joey Dee was a talented, brilliant singer. He had a wonderful range, so we could put anything before him and he could sing it. And he had a good presence too. The voice was an instrument in Cymande, but it still gave him scope for demonstrating his talents.

SCIPIO: De Lane Lea was a wonderful studio because it was used for recording movie soundtracks as well as bands. Everyone had their little compartment to control the spillage and we just performed as if we were doing a live gig. We were young people, uninhibited! We didn’t have responsibilities, so when we went in the studio it was just pure enjoyment. A lot of producers want to put their stamp on the music, but John wanted the raw element of what he heard.

PATTERSON: And he produced it well. You could hear every instrument in its own space. Working with John was easy.

SCIPIO: It was very exciting to see our records on the charts in America. John wanted us over there as soon as possible to ride on the wave. It was like going to the centre of music, the Mecca.

KELLY: In England, we were playing relatively small venues. To then be suddenly supporting Al Green on these huge stages… I was half a mile away from Patrick and Steve! But Al Green’s drummer was amazing. For the first week, he would stand by the side of the stage and watch me play, and afterwards he’d come over and give me some advice. I’ll forever be grateful for that.

SCIPIO: The Apollo [in Harlem] had a reputation for not tolerating below-par performances – and the crowd would let you know! So I think some of us had some apprehension about it, but the week we did there was fantastic. We had Jerry Butler coming in and shaking our hands.

KELLY: The Apollo was a real pit, to be honest! The paintwork was crumbling, it smelt… but there was so much black music history oozing out of those walls. It was a great experience.

SCIPIO: It was very frustrating to have your music appreciated by that number of people and then to come back here and there being no-one at the airport, not even one reporter asking about how the tour went. No interest, no articles, nothing.

PATTERSON: It was demoralising. We were entitled to some recognition. So you come back and you find nothing… It says a lot about the industry and how it deals with us as black musicians. There was little or no promotion here, and no airplay.

SCIPIO: [After a while] we all recognised that performing in front of 40,000 and then doing gigs to 300 people, that’s not where we should be.

PATTERSON: We can’t go backwards in that sense. Who does it help? It doesn’t help black musicians or the aspirations we might have to achieve things in music. So let’s take a rest and see where we go.

SCIPIO: I joined Mike [‘Bami’ Rose, Cymande flute/sax player] in a South African band called Jabula. I played with them for maybe five years, but I wasn’t satisfied with just being a squad member in somebody else’s project. I started my law degree, and that was the last time I played any live music until Cymande came back together. I moved to Anguilla to work in the attorney general’s chambers.

PATTERSON: After Cymande, I was musical director for the Black Theatre of Brixton, then I went back to my law studies. I practised in chambers in England, then I worked for the government of Dominica.

SCIPIO: I certainly wasn’t aware of what was going on [with “Bra”’s use
by hip-hop DJs]. The documentary was an eye-opener for me!

KELLY: Myself and Bami Rose kept playing professionally. I’d be somewhere setting up or packing away my drums and I’d hear “Bra” or “The Message” being played, which was really satisfying. But I didn’t have any idea what the DJs in the States were doing. It wasn’t ’til the film came out that I found out people had taken our tracks and remixed them. Watching these DJs talk about Cymande’s music in such reverent terms was just amazing.

SCIPIO: I’m happy people see something in our music that’s influential. To listen to something and appreciate it is one thing, but for it to impact on you in such a way that you take elements of that thing and make it part of your own, that’s on an entirely different level.

KELLY: We had unfinished business, but I didn’t know it was going to take 40 years!

SCIPIO: When we came off the road in the ’70s, it was never intended to be a disbanding, just a hiatus. But the renewed interest in us provided the opportunity to put into effect the plans we had when we first decided to call it a day.

PATTERSON: It was very exciting to see that we had, if you like, travelled through time. We were now faced with a bunch of young people appreciating our music.

SCIPIO: We’ve just completed a tour of Canada and the US, and at the end we took three or four days off and said, “We’ll do a couple of tracks.” And they went well.

PATTERSON: We recorded at a great studio in LA. It suited us, because we still cut live. This will be quite an important album, I think. The aspiration has to be consistent with what we have already created.

SCIPIO: The spirit of the performance should still be recognisably Cymande. Not like a load of old doddery guys just going through the motions!

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BTS’ V assures fans that he is “all good” after stalking incident

South Korean singer V of K-pop boyband BTS has assured fans that he is “all good” after a recent stalking incident.

Earlier today (October 27), South Korean news outlet KBS reported that a woman in her twenties had been arrested for allegedly violating the East Asian country’s anti-stalking act.

According to the publication, the woman had reportedly waited for BTS’ V outside of the apartment building where he lives on October 26, before subsequently following the K-pop idol into the residence’s parking lot as he drove in.

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KBS also alleges that the woman later entered the same elevator V was taking, before attempting to speak with the singer and handing him a marriage certificate with her name on it.

The woman was arrested on the morning of October 27, after police tracked her down using the information on the marriage certificate. The alleged perpetrator is also said to have a history of stalking V in the past.

Big Hit Music, which represents BTS and V, has released a statement about the incident to TV Report. “We are responding with a no-tolerance policy to stalking crimes that disturb our artist’s personal life and threaten their safety,” the agency said, as translated by Soompi.

Meanwhile, V has since addressed the news in a post on Weverse, saying, “I’m all good~~ Don’t worry”, alongside a picture of himself posing with a sunset, as seen by Allkpop.

In other news, Bae Suzy, the star of Netflix’s new K-drama series Doona!, has voiced her desire to retire from the industry. In a new interview, she said that might happen “at any time”, saying that any current project could be her “very last”.

Meanwhile, G-Dragon of K-pop boyband Big Bang said in a statement that he has “never used drugs”. It comes just a day after the K-pop idol was booked by police for allegedly breaching South Korea’s Narcotics Control Act.

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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard announce North American “residencies” and film screenings

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have announced a unique return to North America next year – where, instead of a cross-country tour, they will take up residency in four different venues throughout June.

  • READ MORE: King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard: “If something is shit and no one likes it, you just put out another one the next month”

The shows, announced today (November 15), will see the band play for several nights across The Caverns Underground in Tennessee, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, The Salt Shed in Chicago and the Carnation Farms in Washington. In addition, the band will also perform one of their three-hour marathon sets at the famed Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles to complete the run. A full list of dates are available below.

Tickets for each show will go on pre-sale from midday local time on Wednesday November 16. A general sale will then follow on Friday November 18, from 10am Pacific Time (PT) and 1pm Eastern Time (ET). All ticketing information for the tour can be accessed via the official King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard website.

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In a statement shared to social media, bassist Lucas Harwood noted that it was “a wild and exciting privilege” for the band to return to North America less than a year after their previous run of shows there. “We like to keep things interesting, different, fun and unexpected for us but also for you, our fans,” he wrote.

“So, we’ve hand picked some really unique venues around the country to camp out in for a few nights. Set up shop and really get to know the place. Rocks, Farms, Caves and Salt Sheds. Sounds like an album title? Maybe one day.”

In addition to the North American residencies, the band also announced that their 2020 concert film Chunky Shrapnel would be making a return to cinemas next month. Independent cinemas across North America, Canada, Mexico and the Netherlands will screen a freshly remastered version of the film – including “a 4K scan and new 5.1 surround sound mix” care of the band themselves.

“This thing was always made for the big screen, and we’re so pumped that it’ll be coming to an independent cinema near you in December,” the band wrote in a statement. A full list of Chunky Shrapnel screenings can be seen here, also via the band’s website.

2022 has seen King Gizzard release five studio albums – a feat they have equaled only once before, in 2017. ‘Made In Timeland’ was released in March, originally as a vinyl exclusive before it came to streaming services last month. ‘Omnium Gatherum’ followed in April, with the band then promising that there were three more albums to come by year’s end.

The septet then made good on this promise throughout October: ‘Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava’ was released on the 7th, with ‘Laminated Denim’ following on the 12th and ‘Changes’ on the 28th.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s ‘USA Residency’ tour dates are:

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JUNE
Thursday 1 and Friday 2 – Grundy County, The Caverns Underground
Saturday 3 – Grundy County, The Caverns Amphitheater
Wednesday 7 – Morrison, Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Thursday 8 – Morrison, Red Rocks Amphitheatre (early show)
Thursday 8 – Morrison, Red Rocks Amphitheatre (late show)
Sunday 11, Monday 12 and Tuesday 13 – Chicago, The Salt Shed
Friday 16, Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 – Carnation, Carnation Farms
Wednesday 21 – Los Angeles, Hollywood Bowl

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Sam Fender’s brother Liam teases hopeful debut single ‘Love Will Conquer’: “It’s all for the taking”

Sam Fender’s older brother Liam has teased his hopeful debut single ‘Love Will Conquer’ and confirmed a headline show at Newcastle’s Riverside. Check out our interview with Fender below, alongside an exclusive snippet of the track.

  • READ MORE: Sam Fender live in Newcastle: a euphoric homecoming for the Toon’s finest

‘Love Will Conquer’ will be released tomorrow (October 28) and is the first proper release from Liam Fender. “It’s been a long time coming,” he told NME of his debut single.

Fender went on to say the dreamy indie anthem is about “that feeling of togetherness in turbulent times. I’ve certainly felt that over the last few years, the world’s been going to hell in a handcart.” The song, which champions believing in yourself and other people, has “a universal message” according to the musician: “It’s about optimism and how things can always get better.”

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The video for ‘Love Will Conquer’ is set in the Fish Quay of Fender’s hometown of North Shields and sees Jacob Anderton as an aspiring musician, playing pub gigs to disinterested crowds while wrestling with self-belief. It is auto-biographical “to a degree” Fender explained, although he’s never actually been a trawlerman. “But it’s a story that a lot of people in the North East scene know well, as they slog away, trying to get their music out there and doing the gigs that they have to in order to pay the bills.”

Check out a snippet below:

Musically, Fender takes inspiration from “people who always follow their own path”, listing David Bowie, Tom Waits, Richard Hawley as key influences. “Coming from the North, there’s a certain romance in songwriting that I grew up with.”

“I’m really impressed by Arctic Monkey’s new stuff,” he continued. “They’ve taken on this crooner-ish feel and I know that’s influenced by Americana, but that romanticism of a bygone era is also something that’s deeply rooted in northern, working class towns. I’ve always drawn upon that.”

Fender has been writing songs for over 20 years now and spent a bulk of his twenties self-releasing EPs and playing the pub circuit. “It runs in the family,” he explained. “My dad was a musician and I come from a musical household. I was always fascinated by these bizarre characters and anarchist musicians that would come over to the house. I loved how they just followed their own path so from a really young age, I just wanted to do that.”

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Liam Fender. CREDIT: Press

He played his first gig aged 13 as a stand-in drummer for his dad’s mate’s band “and that’s where the bug really started. For better or worse, it’s always what I’ve wanted to do,” he explained. After struggling to make it and feeling “pretty disillusioned” with music in general, though, Fender took “a good few years out.”

“It’s really refreshing now, because I’ve fallen back in love with music. Everything feels exciting again,” he said.

But why now? “Sam’s stuff has really taken off over the last few years to a fairly crazy level,” explained Fender, who realised there was an audience for the raw, authentic, character-driven stories he was writing. “I just thought that if I didn’t have another shot at things now, I never would.”

Liam Fender
Liam Fender. CREDIT: Press

Fender goes on to say that while Sam’s success has inspired him, he’s “not jumping on the bandwagon”. “We’re two very different artists, and I think we’ve inspired each other over the years,” he explained.

Growing up, there was no chance of Liam and Sam making the Newcastle version of Oasis though. “There’s a nine-year age gap between us, so I was too busy mopping up his sick and trying to stop him from ruining my instruments,” Fender laughed.

Earlier this year, Liam did join Sam onstage at Newcastle Arena to perform ‘The Dying Light’. “I’d been working on this project long before that but that certainly reminded me that this is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Fender before describing the experience as “exhilarating and surreal.”

Fender went on to say that because of the age gap between him and his brother “there’s absolutely no rivalry there.” The siblings don’t text each other for advice, either. “If I gave him advice, he wouldn’t listen. Same if he tried to give me any advice. We do talk about the madness of it all though, and have a laugh about it all,” said Fender. “We’ve both always followed our own path though, and don’t like to interfere beyond listening to what each other are working on.”

Liam knows there are “definitely some expectations” that come with being related to one of the biggest rockstars in the country. “There’s a bit of pressure and it feels daunting but it’s also entertaining,” he said. “I didn’t think at the age of 37 I’d be putting out music in any meaningful sense, considering all my mates are having kids and settling down.”

“I don’t have any massive expectations and I’m not trying to become a big star or anything like that,” he added. “I just want to make music that I’m proud of.” He is currently sat on a handful of other songs that are “quite different” to ‘Love Will Conquer’ but “sit in place next to each other” and aren’t “totally sporadic”. There is also talk of an EP next year, followed by a “great” album: “That’s the ambition at the moment. What comes after that? Who knows. It’s all there for the taking really.”

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A post shared by Liam Fender (@liamfender)

Liam is currently in rehearsals for his headline show at Newcastle’s Riverside on December 8, with tickets going on sale tomorrow. “I’m not one for doing things by half, so I’ve got a band of top musicians from the North East that I’ve handpicked,” he said.

“I’ve had people who’ve known me for years get really excited about the fact I’m getting back out there and giving it a go. That response has been really encouraging. I’m looking forward to the ride.”

He added: “There’s always an element of belief in what you do, but there’s always an element of doubt as well. If it feels good to me though, I know I’m doing the best I can.”

Liam Fender’s debut single ‘Love Will Conquer’ will be released tomorrow (October 28). 

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Logan Paul accuses Bad Bunny of taking advantage of Puerto Rico tax breaks

American YouTuber Logan Paul has accused Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny of taking advantage of his home country’s tax breaks.

During a recent appearance on Philip DeFranco’s YouTube show, Paul responded to Bad Bunny’s September music video for ‘El Apagón’, which was accompanied by a documentary about inequality in Puerto Rico due to the government’s foreign tax scheme.

  • READ MORE: Bad Bunny – ‘Un Verano Sin Ti’ review: the sound of an artist in his imperial phase

“Bad Bunny is a Puerto Rican living in Puerto Rico who is privately taking advantage of the same tax program that he is publicly condemning,” Paul told DeFranco.

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“I know this and I see things like this and it hurts. There are local Puerto Ricans who know about this. I see this music video that has stuck me in the middle of it surrounded by context that makes me look like a vulture in Puerto Rico. While I love Bad Bunny, I cannot personally support the hypocritical nature of his exploitation.”

Watch the snippet below, and the full interview here.

Narrated by journalist Bianca Graulau, the documentary — Aquí Vive Gente (People Live Here) — takes aim at the impacts the Individual Investors Act (formerly Act 22) is having on inequality, the environment and gentrification in Puerto Rico. The 2012 law provides tax exemptions to foreign individual investors on their passive income streams, such as stocks and crypto, if they invest in local properties.

Bad Bunny’s documentary references Paul by name as someone who has benefited from the tax scheme, having relocated to the country in 2021. As per the Independent, Paul said at the time that his “primary reason” for moving was for financial benefits.

Bad Bunny — whose real name is Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio — is yet to respond to Paul’s allegations. However, Act 22 and related policies are only eligible to people coming to the island and not those already living there, explicitly excluding anyone who lived in Puerto Rico from January 17, 2006 to January 17, 2012. As Bad Bunny was born and raised in the country, it is unlikely he is benefitting from the scheme. Paul was also unable to provide evidence to support his claims.

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NME has reached out to Bad Bunny’s team for comment.

Bad Bunny released his new album ‘Un Verano Sin Ti’ in May of this year. In a four-star review of the album, NME wrote: “Of course, 23 tracks is a lot to take in, especially if you’re listening to ‘Un Verano Sin Ti’ on the bus to work rather than a balmy beach. But there’s no sense of bet-hedging in its lengthy runtime and no real filler.

“It’s the sound of an artist in his imperial phase doing as he pleases without needing to try too hard: not just a low-key flex, but a richly entertaining listen.”

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Country singer Loretta Lynn has died aged 90

Country singer Loretta Lynn has died at the age of 90.

  • READ MORE: Loretta Lynn – ‘Still Woman Enough’ review: country Queen remains iconic

The star, who was famous for hits such as ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough’, ‘The Pill’, ‘Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)’ and ‘Honky Tonk Girl’, passed away this morning (October 4), according to a statement from her family.

“Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4th, in her sleep at home at her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills,” they wrote.

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Over the years she recorded 60 albums, with her most recent being last year’s ‘Still Woman Enough’, and topped the US country charts 16 times. She also sold more than 45million records worldwide.

She was nominated for 18 Grammy awards, of which she won three, including a lifetime achievement prize in 2010 and her most recent win in 2019.

In 2004, Lynn teamed up with Jack White who produced her album ‘Van Lear Rose’, which went on to become her best-performing album in the US charts at the time, before she topped it with her highest-charting album ever, 2016’s ‘Full Circle’.

In 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.

Dolly Parton, who collaborated with Lynn regularly over the years, was one of the first to pay tribute to the late country singer.

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“So sorry to hear about my sister, friend Loretta,” she wrote. “We’ve been like sisters all the years we’ve been in Nashville and she was a wonderful human being, wonderful talent, had millions of fans and I’m one of them. I miss her dearly as we all will. May she rest in peace.”

Margo Price also paid her respects adding: “It’s safe to say I wouldn’t even be making country music today if it weren’t for Loretta Lynn. She showed me up what it looked like to be a musician and a mama. Her writing was as real as the day is long. This one hurts on another level. I’ll miss her forever.”

Born Loretta Webb in a one-room rural Kentucky cabin in 1932, the star was one of eight siblings and the daughter of a coal miner which led to her signature song, 1970’s ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’.

Lynn married her husband Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn when she was 15, and they were together until his death in 1996. It was he who encouraged her to sing professionally and helped promote her early career.

They had six children together; the eldest, Betty Sue and Jack, died in 2013 and 1984 respectively.

Lynn is survived by her other four children, Ernie, Cissie, and twins Peggy and Patsy.

Reviewing her most recent album, NME awarded it four stars and said that Lynn continues “to explore the themes she pioneered in the 1960s – those of women’s innate strength and capabilities.”

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Watch the trailer for a new documentary about 2017 mass shooting at Las Vegas country festival

A new documentary on the mass shooting that took place at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas almost five years ago is due to be released later this month – you can view a trailer below.

The atrocity occurred on October 1, 2017 when a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, targeting fans at the country music festival. The attack left 58 people dead and hundreds injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

The four-part documentary, titled 11 Minutes, will include the first in-depth interview with country star Jason Aldean, who was performing at the time when the 11-minute shooting began. Concert attendees, first responders, police, and FBI agents have also been interviewed for the documentary, according to Pitchfork.

Directed by Jeff Zimbalist, the series includes footage obtained from over 200 hours of cell phone video, as well as previously unreleased police bodycam footage. The trailer shows the SWAT team heading towards the shooter’s Mandalay Bay hotel room, where he died by suicide before he could be captured.

11 Minutes will arrive at Paramount+ on September 27, coinciding with the week of the event’s fifth anniversary.

The incident led to musicians such as Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and Moby joining calls for stricter gun control in the US.

The Killers also issued a message of solidarity following the tragedy in their home city.

The victims of the both the Las Vegas and Manchester Arena terror attacks of that year were honoured with an emotional tribute at the Grammys in 2018.

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Kacey Musgraves shares making-of ‘Star-Crossed’ documentary to mark album’s first birthday

Kacey Musgraves has shared a new documentary on the making of her album ‘Star-Crossed’ to celebrate its first anniversary.

  • READ MORE: Kacey Musgraves – ‘Star-Crossed’ review: a powerfully honest depiction of heartbreak

The singer’s fifth studio album came out a year ago tomorrow (September 10, 2021) and the new 14-minute documentary follows the creation of the record.

Star-Crossed: Making The Album teams studio footage of Musgraves making the album with her collaborators and interview footage of her discussing specific songs and the themes behind the album.

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Check out the new documentary below.

Reviewing ‘Star-Crossed’ upon its release last year, NME said: “This record, with its varied sounds and brutally honest lyrics, never finds Musgraves shying away from the uncomfortable. It’s an intricate project – the record also comes with an accompanying 50-minute film – that could collapse under the weight of its concept. Bolstered by its author’s frank pen, though, and instilled with a sense of hope, it’s a powerful listen.”

After the album’s release, ‘Star-Crossed’ was embroiled in controversy after the record was deemed ineligible for the Best Country Album award at the 2022 Grammys.

Musgraves had submitted her recent album for Best Country Album category, but it was deemed to be ineligible because of how much it leaned towards pop. The singer seemingly responded to the news on Twitter after the nominations were announced, writing: “You can take the girl out of the country (genre) but you can’t take the country out of the girl,” alongside a picture of herself in a country outfit as a child.

Then, Recording Academy Chair Harvey Mason Jr. spoke to Billboard about this year’s categories and responded to a question which asked why they have “[removed] works, including those from Kacey Musgraves and Brandi Carlile, from the genres in which they were submitted and re-slotting them elsewhere.”

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When Mason Jr. was asked: “Why shouldn’t an entry stay where the label or the creator of the work thinks it belongs?”, he responded by saying genre categories are not straightforward.

“You’re seeing genre lines blurring,” he said. “You’re seeing people switching from song to song as to what [their music] sounds like.

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Country singer Luke Combs plays free show for fans despite vocal issues and offering refunds

Luke Combs played a free gig on Saturday (September 3) despite damaging his voice and refunding all tickets to the show.

  • READ MORE: The 25 best country music songs of all time

The country star was due to play in Bangor, Maine, US when he realised shortly before the concert that his voice was going. To console fans, he offered refunds and then went ahead with the gig anyway – seemingly feeling like he owed it to them to show up.

“I have to let you know that I have refunded all of your tickets,” Combs said in a video posted by fans of his statement at the beginning of the gig at Maine Savings Amphitheater.

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“At about 7pm today – a few hours ago – I realised that I was not going to be able to sing as good as I normally do.”

Combs explained that his voice was not what he thought it should be for the paying fans, so he offered to refund their tickets and play anyway, asking his fans to help him sing.

“We’re still gonna play the show…so we’re going to put on the best free show we could put on, and I want you guys to know how upset I am to have to tell you that tonight. But all I want you to know is that we’re going to do the very damn best. I’m gonna give you everything that I have. And I am so sorry,” he said, appearing to wipe away a tear.

As Billboard reports, another video from the second of two planned concerts to kick off Combs’ ‘Middle Of Somewhere’ tour revealed that the singer was even more generous to his fans. He spotted a sign in the audience held up by young fans who said they’d made $100 (£87) stacking firewood to earn enough money to attend the show.

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Combs called the young fans, one of whom was celebrating his 12th birthday, to come over after seeing their sign and shook their hands.

“How much were your tickets?” he asked while taking out his wallet and handing over $140 (£121) in cash, then promising to give them a further $60 (£52) for the full refund. He then signed some memorabilia for fans and invited them back to say hello after the gig.

Earlier this year Combs was nominated for three gongs at the Billboard Music Awards 2022: Top Country Artist, Top Country Male Artist, and Top Country Song (‘Forever After All’).

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Glass Animals’ Dave Bayley on working with Florence Welch: “She’s a real force of nature”

Glass Animals frontman Dave Bayley spoke to NME backstage at Reading Festival 2022 about the “unbelievable” experience of working on Florence + The Machine‘s fifth album, ‘Dance Fever’. Watch our full video interview above.

  • READ MORE: The story of Reading & Leeds 2022 – in glorious photos

In April the pair released an electronica-inspired remix of Welch’s recent single, ‘My Love’. Bayley co-wrote and co-produced the original track and worked on the ensuing ‘Dance Fever’ along with Jack Antonoff. For Bayley, collaborating with Welch was “a real honour”, as he explained: “I learned so much from [Florence]. We did a bunch of sessions for the new album, and I was blown away. I was like, ‘Woah, how do I compete with this real force of nature when it comes to songwriting?’

He continued: “I had to hold my own and I think we made a really wicked album. She’s a brilliant songwriter. Shout out to Florence: thank you for letting me work on your record, I feel really lucky.”

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Credit: Andy Ford for NME

Bayley also praised some more of his previous collaborators, describing former NME cover star Bree Runway – who Glass Animals teamed up with for a reworking of their 2020 track ‘Space Ghost Coast To Coast’ – as a “genius”. Referencing Denzel Curry‘s ‘Tokyo Drifting’ collaboration with the band, the Florida rapper also got a nod: “I think Denzel Curry is one of the greats: he is so young and so talented,” Bayley said. “I feel lucky I got to work with him.”

Yesterday (August 26), Glass Animals made their first appearance at Reading Festival since 2017. Taking to the main stage, the Oxford four-piece leaned on their 2020 album ‘Dreamland’. The set wrapped up with that record’s smash hit ‘Heat Waves’, which set a US chart record last year for the longest climb to the Top 10 in the country’s chart history.

Reading & Leeds 2022 continues today with performances from Arctic Monkeys, Bring Me The Horizon and more.

Check back at NME here for the latest news, reviews, photos, interviews and more from Reading & Leeds 2022.

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Countryside estate featured in BTS reality series ‘In The Soop’ to become an Airbnb

The property featured in BTS reality series In The Soop will soon be hosting two lucky fans for an overnight stay through Airbnb.

  • READ MORE: J-Hope – ‘Jack in The Box’ review: bright BTS rapper delves into darkness on sublime solo album

On July 26, Airbnb and In The Soop announced that the estate BTS stayed in during the reality show’s second season will soon be available for booking. Located in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the expansive countryside home will be hosting one lucky applicant and a guest for just US$7 on August 29.

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According to the listing on Airbnb, the property will be partially furnished with the furniture and amenities enjoyed by the boyband during their stay. These include a karaoke machine system with all of BTS’ hits, as well as access to its pool and basketball court. The stay will also include specially catered meals like charcoal grilled Korean beef, tteokbokki and egg tarts produced by Bang & Bakers, served at HYBE’s music museum, HYBE Insight.

Applications to book the stay open on August 2 at 11am KST via the property’s listing on Airbnb. Guests will be responsible for their own travel to and from Pyeongchang County, though round-trip car transportation will be provided between Pyeongchang’s KTX station and the property.

While only one overnight stay at the In The Soop estate has been offered so far, Billboard has reported that there will “soon” be opportunities to visit the property while staying at other listings.

In The Soop first launched in 2020 with its first season, BTS In The Soop, which starred BTS. A second season of the series was later produced and aired in 2021. Last year also saw an edition of the show starring boyband SEVENTEEN, titled In The Soop SEVENTEEN Ver.

A spin-off of the series titled In The Soop: Friendcation premiered earlier this month via JTBC and Disney+. The four-episode special follows BTS member V and his celebrity friends Park Seo-joon, Choi Woo-shik, Park Hyung-sik and Peakboy – affectionally known to fans as the “Wooga Fam” – as they head on vacation together.

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Cher recalls her first miscarriage at 18: “I was sobbing and rocking on the floor”

Cher has hit out at the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The ruling last month, meant abortion will no longer be protected as a federal right in the US for the first time since 1973, and each state will be able to decide individually whether to restrict or ban abortion.

The singer took to Twitter to reveal that she has suffered multiple miscarriages in the past, the first when she was 18.

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She wrote: “When I was young I had 3 miscarriages. 1st at 18. I was alone in our house. Son came home & I was sobbing, & rocking on our floor,” she wrote, explaining that Sonny Bono – whom she met at 16 and married in 1967 – was the one who found her. “When I got2 dr I was screaming in pain. Couldn’t even stop in elevator. Dr sent me straight 2 hospital & in2 operating rm.”

Drawing attention to Roe v. Wade the singer added: “WHAT WOULD HAPPEN 2 ME TODAY.”

Medical professionals have repeatedly pointed out since the reversal of Roe v. Wade, abortions are a medical procedure that is sometimes required to remove fetal tissue that the body is not naturally passing after a miscarriage, reports Billboard.

Cher previously hit out the Supreme Court’s ruling last month as she declared: “WHEN I HEARD ROE V WADE WAS REPEALED,I COULDN’T CONTAIN MY ANGER. STILL ANGRY,SAD AFRAID 4 WOMEN OF US.”

The singer then urged women to take action, adding. “We Must VOTE EVERY REPUB. OUT!!” she tweeted June 27. “They Are The Enemy & We’re At Their Mercy. They Mean 2 Lock Up Ur Bodies & Risk Ur Lives… WE CAN WIN. IF NOT US WOMEN WILL SUFFER.”

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Her protests come after multiple musicians shared their reactions to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade including Taylor Swift, who shared a letter that Michelle Obama had written about the decision and Pearl Jam, who wrote: “No one, not the government, not politicians, not the Supreme Court should prevent access to abortion, birth control, and contraceptives. People should have the FREEDOM to choose.

“Today’s decision impacts everyone and it will particularly affect poor women who can’t afford to travel to access health care. We will stay active, we will not back down and we will never give up.”

During their Glastonbury 2022 performance, Joe Talbot of Idles also spoke out against the decision.

“Of course, this is for every mother and every woman and her right to choose whether she is a mother or not,” Talbot said. “Long live the open-minded long live my mother and long live every single one of you.”

Rage Against The Machine also recently hit out at the ruling during a gig in Wisconsin.

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Harry Styles Breaks Out The Party Pajamas In ‘Late Night Talking’ Video

Harry Styles has been doing all this “Late Night Talking,” and he is ready to take you for a ride in his bed — literally.

The British pop star dropped the new music video for his latest Harry's House hit on Wednesday (July 13), and it begins with Styles dressed in pink and brown pajamas, waking up in an empty bed. He finds his former bedmate’s clothes lying on top of an amp speaker. Confused, he looks under the covers and cartoonishly falls inside the mattress. He crawls through the covers in a new blue-brown polka dot set and enters another dimension: a red room with numerous people cuddling and kissing on a supersized bed.

“If you're feeling down, I just wanna make you happier, baby,” he sings, popping his head out of the scarlet covers. “Wish I was around, I just wanna make you happiеr, baby.” Styles wakes up in another bed inside a gallery, this time wearing a tan blazer over his PJs and with various people scrutinizing him as if he were an artwork himself. The next time the bed teleports, Harry is served a meal of spaghetti and meatballs. “I've never been a fan of change,” he sings in the second verse. “But I'd follow you to any place / If it's Hollywood or Bishopsgate, I'm coming too.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VaqA-5aQTM

He can be later seen briefly dining with a man, posing for selfies together. The scene changes to Styles sitting on an intricate baroque bed with a different woman, also taking photos and using binoculars to watch a road engulfed in chaotic traffic. As cars beep, the singer rides on a different bed across the street, enjoying a pillow fight with his friends. Different snippets and photos of him and his friends cuddling and snoozing together appear. “We've been doin' all this late-night talkin',” he sings in the chorus. “'Bout anything you want until thе morning / Now you're in my life / I can't get you off my mind.”

In the countryside, Styles hosts a book club with two women on a vine-encompassing bed, but a thunderstorm envelopes the sky. As it begins pouring, Styles suddenly disappears, leaving the women perplexed. He and his bed fall from a great height in panic initially but then, to conclude the video and song, Styles relaxes and lies on his back unbothered.

“Late Night Talking” is the second single from Harry Styles’ latest album Harry’s House and peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Meanwhile, the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and several other charts in multiple countries. Lead single “As It Was” still sits atop the Hot 100, and two songs from the album have debuted in the chart’s Top 10: “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” (No. 8) and “Matilda” (No. 9). Styles is also set to star in two upcoming films later this year: My Policeman, which will be set for a limited release in theaters on October 21 and available to stream on Prime Video on November 4, and Don’t Worry Darling in cinemas September 23.

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Beyoncé’s new album ‘RENAISSANCE’ will reportedly feature country and dance tracks

Beyoncé‘s new album ‘RENAISSANCE’ is set to reportedly feature country and dance tracks.

  • READ MORE: 20 albums to get excited about in 2022

The pop icon is due to release the follow-up to her latest album, 2016’s acclaimed ‘Lemonade’, on July 29.

According to Variety, the record will feature pop and country tracks with contributions from hit songwriter Ryan Tedder, who co-wrote her 2008 hit ‘Halo’ and Raphael Saadiq, who has crafted hits for Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, and Beyoncé’s sister Solange’s 2016 album ‘A Seat At The Table’.

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Recently, Beyoncé deleted her profile pictures from her official social media accounts as she prepared to enter her next solo era.

Yesterday (June 16) ‘RENAISSANCE’ was announced by the singer and fans can now pre-save/pre-add the release here.

Additionally, the official profiles for Spotify, Apple Music and TIDAL posted the update along with the simplistic ‘RENAISSANCE’ artwork.

Beyoncé confirmed she was working on new music last summer. “I’ve been in the studio for a year and a half,” she explained. “Sometimes it takes a year for me to personally search through thousands of sounds to find just the right kick or snare. One chorus can have up to 200 stacked harmonies.”

The singer continued: “Still, there’s nothing like the amount of love, passion, and healing that I feel in the recording studio. After 31 years, it feels just as exciting as it did when I was nine years old. Yes, the music is coming!”

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Back in November 2021, Beyoncé dropped a powerful new track called ‘Be Alive’ which appears on the soundtrack for King Richard.

Her forthcoming seventh full-length effort is listed as one of NME‘s 20 albums to get excited about in 2022 – check out the full run-down here.

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Wilco Cruel Country

After the amiable twang of their 1995 debut A.M. and the more ambitiously conceptual rock’n’roll of 1996’s Being There, Wilco went straight-up pop on 1998’s Summerteeth, trading the pedal steel for an orchestra and treating The Beach Boys as their new Gram Parsons. Country, even alt.country, was far too restrictive, too conservative both musically and culturally, for many bands identified with that movement, and some of the biggest acts – The Old 97s, Joe Henry, The Jayhawks – were toying with power pop and art rock. Few, however, went as far or as hard as Wilco, who by the 2000s were embracing noise and krautrock to capture something essential about America at the turn of the century.

  • ORDER NOW: Queen are on the cover of the latest issue of Uncut

It’s probably a coincidence that the upcoming 20th anniversary of Wilco’s 2001 breakout album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is preceded by a new studio album that gets back to their country roots. While it’s still a far cry from anything coming out of Nashville at the moment, Cruel Country is self-consciously grounded in classic country music and old-time folk – two styles that influenced Jeff Tweedy’s earliest music 30 years ago, first with Uncle Tupelo and then with Wilco. Yet it’s not that far removed from their recent Ode To Joy, partly because their idea of country is expansive. Emphasising acoustic instruments and relatively austere arrangements, it encompasses the CSNY harmonies on “A Lifetime To Find”, the two-step rhythms underpinning “Falling Apart (Right Now)”, the string-band plucks of “Sad Kind Of Way”, and even the bucolic psychedelia of the eight-minute epic “Many Worlds”.

Fittingly, the members of Wilco gravitated toward the country setting organically. Cruel Country arose from informal jams at The Loft in Chicago, with the musicians picking up instruments they’d been neglecting recently: acoustic guitars, pedal steel, dobro. There are still electric guitars, but they’re played more in the style of The Buckaroos than Can or Nilsson. Because they found themselves obsessed with this particular palette, they put aside the more “traditional” Wilco album they’d been making and devoted themselves to pursuing this very particular sound. And because Tweedy was incredibly prolific during the pandemic, they found themselves with enough songs for a double album.

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Cruel Country sounds like a band playing first and foremost for and to themselves, which means there’s a zippy energy to these songs, even the slower, sparser ones like “The Universe” and “Tonight’s The Day”. It’s invigorating to hear these musicians question how their instruments fit within the songs and rethink how Wilco does what Wilco does. “The Empty Condor” creeps along on Mikael Jorgenson’s muted piano rhythm, which adds a sense of menace and movement to the verses. The song is all push-and-pull: the lightness of Nels Cline’s guitar solo is undone by Tweedy holding his notes just a bit longer than his voice can go. That friction is all the more unsettling for being so understated.

No-one in the band seems to be questioning their role quite as much as Tweedy himself, whose vocals sound nuanced and expressive – acutely alive to the subtleties of emotion his lyrics convey. That’s clearest on the time-stopping “Ambulance”, a harrowing tale of a near-death experience. Its fractured imagery sits uneasily in this country setting: “Once just by chance, I made a friend in an ambulance”, he sings over a gently picked bluegrass guitar line. “I was half man, half broken glass”. He sounds like someone who just got back from a brief stopover in the afterlife, and the placidity of the music evokes the painful fragility of life.

Of course, “country” on Cruel Country refers not just to a musical setting, but to a larger idea prickly with political and cultural implications. Wilco explore that duality most explicitly on the title track, which makes even the dissent of Ode To Joy sound tentative. This song is angrier, animated by a relatable outrage at a particularly American divide: “I love my country, stupid and cruel, red white and blue”, Tweedy exclaims. It’s about performative righteousness, but Wilco complicate it by implicating themselves in the prevailing discord. When Tweedy sings, “All you have to do is sing in the choir”, it’s easy to imagine a red-state strawman, at least until he adds, “… with me” to the end of that declaration.

Cruel Country is so thoroughly a Wilco album that even diehard fans might wonder if that twang wasn’t there all along. In addition to redeeming A.M., which no longer sounds like the band’s least essential album, these 21 songs direct listeners to some relatively dark corners in Tweedy’s songwriting career, such as the dreamy old-time songs on Uncle Tupelo’s March 16–20, 1992 (specifically “I Wish My Baby Was Born”) and his folksier contributions to the supergroup Golden Smog (“Please Tell My Brother”, notably). Moreover, these songs suggest that country music – “a kind of comfort food”, Tweedy says – has always informed Wilco’s music, even when the band actively resisted that label. It’s there underpinning the noise on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the migraine jams of A Ghost Is Born, even the self-referential in-jokes on Wilco (The Album). Cruel Country is the rare album that throws everything that came before it into sharp relief – a small miracle for a band 30 years into its run.

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Watch Freddie Gibbs’ film debut in first trailer for ‘Down With The King’

This summer sees rapper Freddie Gibbs make his film debut, with a starring role in the forthcoming Down With The King.

The movie sees Gibbs star as Mercury “Money Merc” Maxwell, a superstar rapper who is sent by his manager to a farm in the countryside in order to escape the pressures of fame in the city.

The first full-length trailer arrived yesterday (May 23), and sees a glimpse of Maxwell’s high-profile celebrity life before cutting away to a plaintive look at his time in the countryside.

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Initially there on a creative retreat, the trailer shows Maxwell bonding with the local community, working on the farm, and eventually becoming conflicted when it comes to returning to his old life.

The film is directed by Diego Ongaro and also stars Bob Tarasuk, Sharon Washington, and Jamie Neumann. Gibbs is also executive producer.

The film, which received its Cannes debut as part of the ACID (Association for Independent Cinema and its Distribution) lineup, was also awarded the Grand Prize at the Deauville American Film Festival. A digital release date has been announced for June 28.

On the musical front, Gibbs’ latest release was ‘Ice Cream’, a collaborative single with Rick Ross last month.

The track was produced by Kenny Beats, and is built around a sample used by Wu-Tang Clan‘s RZA and Raekwon for the latter’s 1995 single, also titled ‘Ice Cream’, which appeared on his ‘Only Built 4 Cubin Linx’ LP.

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Gibbs and Ross pay homage to Raekwon’s ‘Ice Cream’ throughout their cut, notably in the accompanying music video. In it, we see Gibbs riding around in an ice cream van, mirroring footage from Raekwon’s ’90s clip. The women in Gibbs and Ross’ video also sport similar t-shirts to those in Raekwon’s, emblazoned with ice cream flavours such as chocolate, vanilla and butter pecan.

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Billboard Music Awards 2022 criticised for “tone deaf” Morgan Wallen booking

The Billboard Music Awards 2022 has been criticised by viewers for the “tone deaf” booking and timing of Morgan Wallen’s performance.

The country star was banned from last year’s ceremony – among other awards shows – after footage of him using a racial slur surfaced online.

However, it was announced in the days leading up to the event that Wallen would be performing at this year’s ceremony, which is being held tonight (May 15) at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena. In the minutes before he took to the stage, civil rights activist Tamika Mallory was given an award and delivered a message about social justice and anti-racism.

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The BBMAs 2022 also opened with a message offering condolences to the victims of a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, which saw 10 people killed in a racially motivated attack, and another shooting in Laguna Words, California in which one person was killed.

Morgan Wallen
Morgan Wallen CREDIT: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for MRC

Wallen performed his tracks ‘Don’t Think Jesus’ and ‘Wasted Alone’ at the ceremony. As his performance was aired, viewers criticised his appearance on social media. “Wait isn’t Morgan Wallen the guy who said the n word so many times?” one Twitter user wrote. “And they have the nerve to have him performing while they had the message about anti oppression, anti racism and social justice before and during the show?”

 

Another added: “Fuck Morgan Wallen and this Jim Crow music. With what just happened in Buffalo, we coulda cut him from the lineup. Un-canceled my ass. That’s the problem now, we always giving out second chances for MFs to play in our faces.”

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See more reactions below.

The majority of the awards at the Billboard Music Awards 2022 were handed out during a pre-show livestream on TikTok. Going into the ceremony, Olivia Rodrigo and Kanye West lead the winners with six awards each.

The Weeknd had the most nominations at the BBMAs 2022 with 17 nods, with Doja Cat following behind on 14. She has picked up the first award of the main ceremony, taking home the trophy for Top R&B Artist.

Diddy opened the awards show with the help of Bryson Tiller, Jack Harlow and Teyana Taylor, before Silk Sonic brought a cover of Con Funk Shun’s ‘Love’s Train’ to Vegas. Latto also made her debut appearance at the awards ceremony, with a performance of ‘Big Energy’.

Other performances tonight will come from the likes of Machine Gun Kelly, Florence + The Machine, Ed Sheeran, Burna Boy and more. Travis Scott will also make his first major public appearance since the crowd crush tragedy that occurred during his headline set at last year’s Astroworld Festival. A total of 10 people were killed in the incident and, according to a recent filing, thousands more were injured.

Country festival bans “divisive symbols” including Confederate flags

Stagecoach, the California country music festival and sister event to Coachella, has banned Confederate flags from its 2022 event.

A section on the festival’s rules page lists things that are prohibited from being brought into the event, including “divisive symbols” such as “Confederate flags and racially disparaging or other inappropriate imagery/public displays”.

The 2022 Stagecoach Festival began yesterday (April 29) at Indio, California’s Empire Polo Club – the same venue as Coachella. Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Luke Combs are this year’s headliners.

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Last year, Combs apologised for appearing in a music video that used Confederate flag imagery. “There is no excuse for those images,” he said during a panel discussion with Maren Morris during Country Radio Seminar.

“It’s not OK,” he added. “I am now aware how painful that image can be to someone else. No matter what I thought at the time, I would never want to be associated with something that brings so much hurt to someone else.”

A Confederate flag
A Confederate flag. CREDIT: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Morris, who performed at Stagecoach yesterday, criticised country music events organisers for allowing the Confederate flag on premises.

“At these country music festivals, I see the Confederate flags in the parking lots,” she said during her Country Radio Seminar chat. “I don’t want to play those festivals anymore. If you were a Black person, would you ever feel safe going to a show with those flying in the parking lot? No.

“I feel like the most powerful thing we can do as artists in our position right now is to make those demands of large organizations, festivals, promoters, whatnot. One of the things we can do is say, ‘No, I’m not doing this. Get rid of them….’ There’s no place for it anymore.”

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In February, Stagecoach announced it was dropping all COVID-19 safety precautions ahead of its spring return.

Meanwhile, Maren Morris has shared a cover of Fiona Apple’s ‘Criminal’.

The country singer released her new album ‘Humble Quest’ last month, and to celebrate its arrival she put on a concert at New York City’s Sony Hall on March 26.

During her set, Morris performed a cover of Apple’s classic ‘Criminal’, taken from the singer-songwriter’s 1997 debut album, ‘Tidal’.

Wilco announce new double album, ‘Cruel Country’

Wilco have announced that they’ll be releasing a new double-disc album next month called ‘Cruel Country’.

  • READ MORE: Wilco – ‘Ode To Joy’ review: a quietly triumphant return to form

The band’s 12th studio album is set to arrive on May 27 via dBpm Records. This is the same weekend as their Solid Sound Festival in North Adams, MA, where the band will perform the new record for the first time.

The title was inspired by the idea that Wilco were a country band when they first started out. “There have been elements of country music in everything we’ve ever done,” frontman Jeff Tweedy said in a press release. “We’ve never been particularly comfortable with accepting that definition, the idea that I was making country music.

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“But now, having been around the block a few times, we’re finding it exhilarating to free ourselves within the form, and embrace the simple limitation of calling the music we’re making country.”

Comprising of 21 tracks total, ‘Cruel Country’ was created with all six members together in The Loft in Chicago for the first time since the 2011’s ‘The Whole Love’, and it’s made up of almost entirely live takes.

“It’s a style of recording that forces a band to surrender control and learn to trust each other, along with each others’ imperfections, musical and otherwise,” Tweedy said. “But when it’s working the way it’s supposed to, it feels like gathering around some wild collective instrument, one that requires six sets of hands to play.”

You can check out the album’s lead single, ‘Falling Apart’, below:

As for subject matters on the new album, Tweedy explained that there’s a loose conceptual narrative on the history of the United States.

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“It isn’t always direct and easy to spot, but there are flashes of clarity,” Tweedy said. “It’s all mixed up and mixed in, the way my personal feelings about America are often woven with all of our deep collective myths. Simply put, people come and problems emerge. Worlds collide. It’s beautiful. And cruel.”

He continued: “The specifics of an American identity begin to blur for me as the record moves toward the light and opens itself up to more cosmic solutions—coping with fear, without belonging to any nation or group other than humanity itself.”

Due out May 27, you can pre-order ‘Cruel Country’ here – see the album’s tracklist below.

1. ‘I Am My Mother’
2. ‘Cruel Country’
3. ‘Hints’
4. ‘Ambulance’
5. ‘The Empty Condor’
6. ‘Tonight’s The Day’
7. ‘All Across The World’
8. ‘Darkness Is Cheap’
9. ‘Bird Without A Tail’ / ‘Base Of My Skull’
10. ‘Tired Of Taking It Out On You’
11. ‘The Universe’
12. ‘Many Worlds’
13. ‘Hearts Hard To Find’
14. ‘Falling Apart (Right Now)’
15. ‘Please Be Wrong’
16. ‘Story To Tell’
17. ‘A Lifetime To Find’
18. ‘Country Song Upside-down’
19. ‘Mystery Binds’
20. ‘Sad Kind Of Way’
21. ‘The Plains’

Meanwhile, Wilco are set to perform at Black Deer Festival in the UK this summer.

Tha band will headline the Saturday line-up of the Kent event on June 18. Other headliners across the weekend include James and Van Morrison.

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Dolly Parton is still eligible for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, despite asking to be withdrawn

Dolly Parton is still eligible to be inducted into this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, despite the country legend asking to have her nomination withdrawn.

  • READ MORE: The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has turned into a museum. Time for change

Earlier this week, Parton asked to be taken out of consideration for this year’s Hall of Fame. The singer was announced as one of the Rock Hall’s nominees for its Class of 2022 alongside the likes of Eminem, Kate Bush, Beck, Eurythmics, Duran Duran, Lionel Richie, Rage Against The Machine, A Tribe Called Quest and more.

At the time, Parton explained that while she was “extremely flattered” to be nominated, she felt that she hadn’t “earned that right” and did not want votes split as a result of her inclusion.

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“I do hope that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will understand and be willing to consider me again – if I’m ever worthy,” she added. “This has, however, inspired me to put out a hopefully great rock ‘n’ roll album at some point in the future, which I have always wanted to do!”

In an interview with Fox on Thursday (March 17), Parton elaborated on her decision. “My perception, and I think the perception of most of America – I just feel like that’s more for the people in rock music,” she said.

“I’ve been educated since then, saying that it’s more than that, but I still didn’t feel right about it. It kind of would be like putting AC/DC in the Country Music Hall of Fame. That just felt a little out of place for me.”

Now, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation has responded to Parton’s request, calling her statement “thoughtful” but that her nomination will nevertheless be considered.

“From its inception, Rock and Roll has had deep roots in Rhythm & Blues and Country music. It is not defined by any one genre, rather a sound that moves youth culture,” a statement shared with Variety reads.

“Dolly Parton’s music impacted a generation of young fans and influenced countless artists that followed. Her nomination to be considered for induction into to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame [sic] followed the same process as all other artists who have been considered.

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“Dolly’s recommendation, along with the other 16 nominees for the class of 2022 was sent out earlier this month to our 1,200 general ballot voters, the majority of whom are artists themselves, for consideration for induction at our ceremony.

“We are in awe of Dolly’s brilliant talent and pioneering spirit and are proud to have nominated her for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

Following Parton’s request to be withdrawn, Steve Albini of Big Black and Shellac offered to produce a rock and roll album with Parton, asking, “Dolly Parton do you like analog recording[?]”.

Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest, who are also nominated for this year’s Hall of Fame, also weighed in on Parton’s decision, calling it a “classy move”.

From the shortlist of nominees announced in February, five acts will progress into the Rock Hall’s final round of induction considerations, which will be revealed in May. Fans can also contribute to the selection process by voting here or at the Rock Hall’s museum in Cleveland, Ohio.

Last year, Foo Fighters, Jay-Z and Tina Turner were among those included in the 2021 cohort of Rock Hall inductees.

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Rammstein denounce Russia over “shocking attack” on Ukraine

Rammstein have spoken out in support of the Ukraine in light of the country’s ongoing conflict with Russia.

  • READ MORE: Fire, fireworks and flaming babies: the five hottest moments in Rammstein’s stunning Milton Keynes show

It comes after Ukraine severed diplomatic ties with Russia and declared martial law after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an attack on the neighbouring nation last month (February 24).

On Friday (March 4), the German band took to social media to post an image of Ukraine’s blue and yellow flag with the Rammstein logo in the middle, showing their support for those affected by the attacks.

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“The band Rammstein wishes to express its support for the nation of Ukraine as it resists the shocking attack perpetrated by the Russian government,” they wrote. “Above all at this moment, we feel particular grief for the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

“Each member of the band has various experiences of the two countries; all members of the band have friends, associates, partners, fans in both lands.”

Rammstein möchten ihre Unterstützung für das ukrainische Volk zum Ausdruck bringen, das sich gegen den schockierenden…

Posted by Rammstein on Friday, March 4, 2022

Their post concluded: “We acknowledge the desperation that many Russian fans may feel when faced with the actions of their government, and we want to remember the humanity shared by both Russian and Ukrainian citizens.”

The actions of Putin, who has claimed that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine and that his country’s actions amount to a “special military operation”, have drawn widespread condemnation from across the globe.

Reactions to the situation in Ukraine from prominent figures in the worlds of music, entertainment and politics have been posted on social media, with the likes of Foals’ Yannis Philippakis, Bring Me The Horizon‘s Oli Sykes, Franz Ferdinand‘s Alex Kapranos, Yungblud, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Taika Waititi and Amanda Palmer all speaking out in support of Ukraine.

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Elton John said he was “heartbroken” over the “nightmare” that civilians are facing, while Miley Cyrus called for “an immediate end to this violence”.

Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks has penned an emotive post about the ongoing conflict saying “my heart is broken”, while Madonna voiced her support for Ukraine with a fanmade video set to a remix of her 2005 song ‘Sorry’.

Meanwhile, Russian rapper Oxxxymiron has cancelled a series of shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine, which has a population of 44million people, borders both Russia and the European Union. As the BBC reports, Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards embracing European institutions like NATO and the EU.

Putin is now demanding guarantees from the West and Ukraine that it will not join NATO, a defensive alliance of 30 countries, and that Ukraine demilitarise and become a neutral state.

You can donate here to the Red Cross to help those affected by the conflict.

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Rudy Giuliani lays into Eminem for taking the knee during Super Bowl Halftime Show

Rudy Giuliani has heavily criticised Eminem for taking a knee during the Super Bowl Halftime Show earlier this week.

The rapper’s symbolic move held much significance in the NFL, after it was used as a means of protest by former 49ers player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 to call attention to racial inequality and police brutality in the US.

  • READ MORE: The biggest moments from the Super Bowl Halftime Show 2022

The quarterback began kneeling during the US national anthem in the 2016 season, sparking a divided reaction from fans and politicians, including Donald Trump. Kaepernick became a free agent in 2017 and has not played in the NFL since.

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Now, Giuliani, who was part of Trump’s personal legal team, has waded into the debate.

“Let’s get right to Eminem taking a knee,” he told New York radio station 77WABC. “Why doesn’t he go to another country? Go take a knee someplace else. You know how many cops were defending him and protecting him at that game yesterday? I mean, crime is way out of control in Los Angeles. He thinks that all happened because everybody loves Eminem?”

77 WABC's Rudy Giuliani provides his input on Eminem's decision to take a kneel during the halftime show last night.Do you agree with Eminem's actions?VOTE HERE: https://wabcradio.com/…/vote-here-is-it-appropriate-or…/#Rudygiuliani#eminem #snoopdogg #maryjblidge #kendricklamar #50cent #rudygiulianishow

Posted by 77 WABC on Monday, February 14, 2022

He added: “The simple reality is that the NFL has made a mockery out of law enforcement, particularly with its support for the cop-killing Black Lives Matter.”

Giuliani also mocked Snoop Dogg and referred to him as “Snoop ‘Kill the Police Doggy’ Dogg”, in reference to the rapper’s ‘Police’ lyrics: “Take your guns that you using to shoot each other / And start shooting these bitch-ass motherfucking police.”

This comes after the NFL denied reports that it attempted to stop Eminem from taking a knee.

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“We watched all elements of the show during multiple rehearsals this week and were aware that Eminem was going to do that,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said (via Sky Sports).

Elsewhere, it was recently reported that The Masked Singer judges Robin Thicke and Ken Jeong walked offstage after it was revealed that Giuliani was taking part in the US version of the show.

Giuliani was reportedly unmasked during the taping of the first episode of The Masked Singer‘s seventh season, with Thicke and Jeong leaving the stage in protest.

Despite that, the episode featuring Giuliani is set to air in March.

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Black Country, New Road Ants from Up There

As soon as music venues reopened their doors last summer, Black Country, New Road were pretty much the first band back out on tour, playing to audiences seated at tables in socially distanced bubbles. Sure, they had a critically acclaimed debut album to promote – For The First Time was released at the height of lockdown in February 2021 – but they seemed keen to quickly push beyond that. The setlist for that first show, at Bath Komedia on June 15, included only three songs from the album, and four they hadn’t recorded yet.

  • ORDER NOW: Johnny Marr is on the cover in the latest issue of Uncut

Being hailed as ‘the best new band in Britain’ may not carry the weight of expectation it once did but the pressure is still real. Black Country, New Road have chosen to meet it head-on – or perhaps, to ignore it completely. By late July, they were hunkered down in Chale Abbey Studios on the southernmost tip of the Isle Of Wight, recording those new songs for a follow-up scheduled for release just 364 days after their debut. Obviously that’s one way to avoid the typical pitfalls of second-album syndrome. But you suspect that for this London-based septet, most of whom were still at university when signed by Ninja Tune, it’s more about seizing the initiative, establishing their own terms of engagement before the buzz congeals into anything as fatally boring as a ‘career’.

Ants From Up There brooks no compromise. While musically brighter, more confident and coherent than For The First Time, the songs are also longer, weirder and more extreme. The web of “references, references, references” is exponentially thicker, with numerous lyrics that seem to quote from other songs – particularly other Black Country, New Road songs. The band feel like they’re in a hurry to construct their own world, before the tedium of routine sets in.

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This time, Isaac Wood mostly sings rather than rants, which initially feels more welcoming, although his voice does retain the alarmist tremor of a man who’s just been shown pictures of an asteroid hurtling towards Earth. Portents of apocalypse notwithstanding, the band strive to maintain a sense of naïvety and playfulness. “Chaos Space Marine” begins with Georgia Ellery (violin), May Kershaw (piano) and Lewis Evans (sax) each introducing themselves with a brief anti-solo, in the manner of Roxy Music opener “Re-Make/Re-Model”. It’s arguably a little too cute, but actually one of the album’s defining features is how well those three instruments blend together, often creating a lush Nyman-esque bed onto which more conventional rock dynamics are overlaid – or not, as in the case of “Mark’s Theme”, a gorgeous interlude dedicated to Evans’ uncle, a big supporter of the band who died from Covid last year.

What’s impressive is how they are able to dramatically shift the mood, sometimes within the space of a few bars, without it ever feeling forced or insincere. “Chaos Space Marine” is a fun, picaresque romp to kick off proceedings – verses by The Divine Comedy, chorus by Arcade Fire – but it also features an inescapably bittersweet half-speed coda, with Wood dropping breadcrumb trails of several of Ants From Up There’s recurring lyrical obsessions (Concorde, Billie Eilish) as if they’re clues in a murder mystery. It’s a slightly unnerving tactic that begins building tension for later songs such as the mysterious and terrifying “Snow Globes”.

Much has been made of Wood’s wry, reference-heavy lyrics, and that technique is still in evidence as he wanders through a mundane contemporary milieu of sketchy wifi connections, soup-makers and scented candles. But what becomes clear is that he’s not just doing this as a comment on the banality of life in the 2020s; it also creates a heartbreaking hyper-specificity to his vignettes of fleeting encounters, blown up to become grand love stories in his head. “It’s just been a weekend/But in my mind we summer in France with our genius daughters now,” he sings on “Good Will Hunting”, the crushing pathos of Smiths-era Morrissey updated for the Sally Rooney generation. As the band ratchet up the melodrama, he makes “moving to Berlin for a little while” sound like one of the saddest lines ever sung.

There is a similar air of one-sidedness to the relationship outlined in “Bread Song”, something a bit chilling and Black Mirror about the way Wood sings, “I tried my best to hold you/Through the headset that you wear”. As the song slips between tense post-rock and unmoored Broadway balladry, he’s literally left feeding on crumbs; his abiding memory of the affair is being kicked out of bed for eating toast. Even on the romantic swoon of “Concorde”, he’s no closer to succour: “This staircase, it leads only to some old pictures of you/Through a thousand-mile-long tube”.

As with the first album’s declaration of love “in front of Black Midi”, Wood’s liaisons often seem to take place against a backdrop of scenes from the band’s own history. “Haldern”, for instance, is named after the German pop festival where the band came up with the kernel of the song during a passage of on-stage improvisation in 2020. This endless feedback loop between real life and lyrics does create a kind of philosophical knot: “We’ll promise these words won’t turn themselves into a song”, he reassures another reluctant lover, not very convincingly, on “The Place Where He Inserted The Blade”. Led initially by flute rather than sax, bassist Tyler Hyde has described it as the band’s gooiest moment, a rippling miasma of sound apparently inspired by Bob Dylan’s “I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You”. Of course, the title of BCNR’s song lends it a more sinister edge – like Bob, it’s going to be hard for them to deliver a more straight-ahead love song without people reading all kinds of other things into it – but this really does feel like a comparatively tender and reciprocal moment: show me your deep emotional wounds and I’ll show you mine.

Finally it’s time for the colossal “Basketball Shoes”, Black Country, New Road’s very own “Marquee Moon”, pouring everything they’ve learned thus far into a gut-wrenching epic of Dostoevskian proportions. Lewis Evans’ opening saxophone line is a simple one, but played with such devastating poise that it prises your defences wide open. And that’s before Wood enters the scene like a feverish Leonard Cohen, fragments of childhood memories, past relationships and references from previous songs all mixed up now, as he struggles to put a brave face on what appears to be not just a broken heart but an engulfing existential crisis (“So if you see me looking strange with a fresh style/I’m still not feeling that great”).

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As the song retracts, expands and then explodes in the manner of Godspeed You! Black Emperor at their most pulverising, it’s not immediately clear if we’re witnessing a moment of euphoria, catharsis or collapse. For Black Country, New Road to want to push this far, to delve this deep, on what is only their second shot at making an album together, is fairly astonishing. Ants From Up There is often beautiful, but it’s not an album you can listen to casually. Its relentless emotional pummelling is quite an experience, a rollercoaster ride for the soul that is likely to leave you feeling distinctly and permanently rearranged.

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Black Country, New Road vocalist Isaac Wood announces departure from the band

Black Country, New Road have announced that frontman Isaac Wood has left the band with immediate effect.

The band, whose second album ‘Ants From Up There’ is due out this week (February 4), will continue as a six-piece, but their upcoming shows are cancelled. The news comes after the band postponed a UK and Irish tour late last year due to illness.

  • READ MORE: Black Country, New Road: sax and violins from Britain’s most prestigious new band

In a message shared by Black Country, New Road on behalf of Wood, the vocalist said: “I have bad news which is that I have been feeling sad and afraid too. And I have tried to make this not true but it is the kind of sad and afraid feeling that makes it hard to play guitar and sing at the same time.

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“Together we have been writing songs and then performing them, which at times has been an incredible doing, but more now everything happens that I am feeling not so great and it means from now I won’t be a member of the group anymore.

Wood added: “To be clear: this is completely in spite of six of the greatest people I know, who were and are wonderful in a sparkling way. If you are reading this maybe you would have seen some of that. It has been a great pleasure and I would like to say the words ‘Thank You’ to everyone.”

In their own statement, the six remaining band members confirmed that they will carry on as Black Country, New Road, and are already working on new music. The band’s upcoming London headline show at the Roundhouse next week, a US tour in February and further UK dates in April are all cancelled.

The band wrote: “Although Isaac won’t be part of the group any longer, the rest of us will be continuing to make music together as Black Country, New Road. In fact, we’ve already starting working on it.

“The things we’ll miss about working with Isaac are too many and various to list here, but by listening to the music we made together, I’m sure you’ll understand at least a few of them. It’d be difficult to overstate how much our experiences as a group have affected us. In fact, it’s difficult to say anything at all coherent about what we’ve managed to do. But it has certainly been the greatest privilege to do it all together, as seven friends.”

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Black Country, New Road released their Mercury Prize-nominated 2020 debut ‘For The First Time’ last February, with their second effort due on February 4, 2022 via Ninja Tune.

NME‘s five-star review of ‘For The First Time’ called the album “an utterly mesmerising debut,” adding: “Their peak may be years away yet, but this is still some of the most exciting music you’ll hear until then; I’m not sure what more you could ask of a debut.”

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Listen to an orchestral reworking of ‘South Park’’s ‘Gay Fish’

A 30-piece orchestra have performed ‘Gay Fish’ from South Park alongside the show’s iconic theme tune – check out the videos below.

  • READ MORE: Is ‘The Vaccination Special’ preparing us for the end of South Park?

‘Gay Fish’ was featured in the 2009 Season 13 episode Fishsticks, which sees a character named after Kanye West as the only person in the country failing to get a joke. However, he refuses to admit that because he believes himself to be a genius. The episode ends with West “embracing his true nature, and finding love underwater.”

Responding to the episode, West wrote: “It hurt my feelings but what can you expect from South Park. I actually have been working on my ego though.” The character appeared again in a 2013 episode, calling himself a “recovering gay fish” and in a 2017 trailer for the South Park video game The Fractured But Whole.

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Listen to the orchestral reworking of ‘Gay Fish’ and the original below.

The orchestra have also reworked the theme tune to South Park, with Kenny’s usually muffled lines belted out in all their glory.

The long-running animated comedy from co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker will return with six episodes on February 2 with weekly episodes to follow.

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Following two standalone specials in September 2020 and March 2021 (which served as season 24), this new run of episodes will be South Park’s first full season since 2019.

Last year, the animated show was renewed through to season 30 with 14 original films based on the series also ordered for production.

The first film, titled South Park: Post Covid, saw Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Kenny attempting to re-adjust back to normal society and was released November 2021. South Park: Post COVID: The Return Of COVID followed in December and was a direct continuation of the previous special which jumped 40 years into the future to depict adult versions of boys.

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Listen to Black Country, New Road’s arresting new single ‘Snow Globes’

Black Country, New Road have shared their latest single ‘Snow Globes’ – listen below.

  • READ MORE: Black Country, New Road have finished a new “sad, epic and possibly more universally likeable” album

The track is the fourth to be taken from their upcoming second album ‘Ants From Up There’, which will be released on February 4 via Ninja Tune. You can pre-order the album here.

‘Snow Globes’ follows last single ‘Concorde’, and their previously released Steve Reich-inspired single, ‘Bread Song‘ and ‘Chaos Space Marine’. The new track made its live debut in 2020 and has since resonated deeply with fans. It’s a quiet and yet arresting number, with the band’s orchestral instrumentation gently ebbing and flowing around frontman Isaac Wood’s vocals.

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Speaking on the single, drummer Charlie Wayne said: “Snow Globes was one of the songs which had existed before we wrote the majority of the songs on AFUT. Though it’s a pretty good representation of the musical world we wanted to explore on the album at large.

“Rather than writing a song with a number of distinct sections we wanted to see what we could do with one continuous riff. It was a real exploration in trying to create something maximalist whilst limiting ourselves with minimal musical choices.”

He continued: “Because the melodic instruments are all playing the riff in unison, Snow Globes left the drums with an interesting opportunity. The drums don’t sit separately from the rest of the band on Snow Globes, but we wanted to use them in a way that we hadn’t in the past.

“As the song progressed the drums still occupy a slightly different sound world, but because the rest of the band is playing in such a syncopated style, the drums were given a space to disregard rhythm and be completely expressive.”

‘Ants From Up There’, the follow-up to the band’s 2020’s Mercury Prize-nominated ‘For The First Time’, was recorded at Chale Abbey Studios on the Isle Of Wight, with longtime collaborator Sergio Maschetzko.

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Black Country, New Road’s 2022 tour in support of the album includes their biggest headline show to date at London’s Roundhouse on February 8. See the full UK and Ireland schedule below.

FEBRUARY 2022
8 – Roundhouse, London

APRIL 2022
6 – The Foundry, Sheffield
7 – O2 Academy, Oxford
9 – Liquid Room, Edinburgh
10 – The Empire, Belfast
11 – Olympia, Dublin
13 – Albert Hall, Manchester
14 – Rock City, Nottingham
16 – Concorde 2, Brighton
17 – O2 Academy, Bristol

Tickets and details for all dates can be found on Black Country, New Road’s website.

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Morgan Wallen’s Grand Ole Opry performance criticised by a number of country artists

Morgan Wallen‘s surprise appearance at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee last weekend has been criticised by a number of country artists.

Wallen sparked controversy back in February 2021 after footage of him using a racial slur surfaced. He was subsequently dropped by a number of radio stations and temporarily suspended from his record label, Big Loud, before he was then banned from attending last year’s CMA Music Awards.

Despite this, sales of his recent album ‘Dangerous’ surged and Wallen maintained the Number One spot on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart in the US for a record-breaking 10 weeks.

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Wallen joined the country singer/songwriter Ernest on stage in Nashville on Saturday (January 8) to perform their collaboration ‘Flower Shops’, which follows on from Ernest co-writing Wallen’s 2020 hit ‘More Than My Hometown’.

Both the Grand Ole Opry and Wallen shared images of the performance over the weekend, with Wallen thanking Ernest “for letting me be a part” of his Opry debut.

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A post shared by Morgan Wallen (@morganwallen)

Wallen’s Opry appearance has subsequently been criticised by a number of artists including Jason Isbell and The Black Opry, an influential collective of Black country music artists and their supporters.

Isbell, who previously pledged to donate all of the proceeds from Wallen’s cover of his song ‘Cover Me Up’ to the NAACP, said: “Last night Opry you had a choice: either upset one guy and his ‘team,’ or break the hearts of a legion of aspiring Black country artists.

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“You chose wrong and I’m real sad for a lot of my friends today. Not surprised though. Just sad.”

He latter added: “The thing that really upsets me is bigger than one person’s words. It’s the idea of a young Black artist walking into that venue and wondering if ANYBODY is on their side.

“What a lot of us consider to be a grand ole honour can be terrifying for some. Doesn’t have to be that way.”

In an open letter to Opry bosses Gina Keltner and Dan Rogers that was shared by Black Opry founder Holly G, Wallen’s return to the Opry stage was questioned.

“I am extremely confused by the welcoming of Morgan Wallen to the Opry stage last night,” Holly G wrote to the Opry leaders. “You were very clear about the fact that some people do not deserve a spot on that stage, which lets me know that each guest is intentional and thought through. That being the case, how was this deemed okay?”

Singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun said in a tweet that Wallen’s “thoughtless redemption tour is the nail in the coffin of me realising these systems, and this town is really not for us”.

“Imma keep making my lil music in my attic, y’all can listen if you want. I don’t know that I’ll do this work forever.”

The likes of Yola, Cassadee Pope, Allison Russell and Rissi Palmer have also publicly criticised or questioned Wallen’s Opry performance on social media.

NME has contacted representatives of the Grand Ole Opry, Wallen and Ernest for further comment.

Earlier this month Wallen expressed an interest in collaborating with Kendrick Lamar.

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Watch Black Country, New Road’s new sci-fi-inspired video for ‘Concorde’

Black Country, New Road have shared a new video for their recent single ‘Concorde’ – check it out below.

The song is taken from the band’s upcoming new album ‘Ants From Up There’, which is set for release on February 4 via Ninja Tune.

  • READ MORE: Black Country, New Road have finished a new “sad, epic and possibly more universally likeable” album

The ‘Concorde’ video, which was inspired by sci-fi B-movies, was directed by Maxim Kelly and made in collaboration with the independent production company Caviar.

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Speaking about the the video, Kelly said: “On the surface, the concept was straightforward, a walking video: An Ant from ‘up there’, sings Concorde.

“But, for a band who namecheck everyone from Scott Walker to Kanye West, and the pronounced mix of genres in their music, it felt right to take an analogous approach with the visuals. Throw as many references together as possible and see if we, too, could get it all to hold together as a piece.”

Kelly continued: “We took the 6 minute [plus] runtime as an asset. It gave us the time needed to weave as much as possible into the film. A walking video in parts, but also with a narrative running through. We combined miniatures with VFX, and flanked the film with archival footage.

“The band were so supportive and amazing. They gave us the encouragement to just go off on one! And being a massive fan of their music, it was a genuine pleasure to work with them on this film.”

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Black Country, New Road will play their biggest London headline show next month before heading out on a UK and Ireland tour in April. You can see the live dates below and find tickets here.

February
8 – Roundhouse, London

April
6 – The Foundry, Sheffield
7 – O2 Academy, Oxford
9 – Liquid Room, Edinburgh
10 – The Empire, Belfast
11 – Olympia, Dublin
13 – Albert Hall, Manchester
14 – Rock City, Nottingham
16 – Concorde 2, Brighton
17 – O2 Academy, Bristol

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The Kunts return with ‘Boris Johnson Is STILL A Fucking C**t’ and tell us about their Tory-toppling bid for Christmas Number One

The Kunts have returned with another shot at the Prime Minister and an attempt to score a Christmas Number One with ‘Boris Johnson Is STILL A Fucking C**t’. Check it out below, along with our interview with frontman ‘Kunt’.

  • READ MORE Here’s why I want to see The Kunts’ Boris-bashing anthem vying for Christmas Number One

Having landed at Number Five in last year’s race for Christmas Number One with their visceral ‘Boris Johnson Is A Fucking Cunt’, the UK punks recently made their intentions clear to enter the battle once again with a new number clocking in at just over a minute for maximum streams, as well as sampling Depeche Mode and the theme from The Addams Family. It’s also already had the remix treatment from viral sensation Cassetteboy.

Speaking of their success last year, frontman Kunt this week told NME: “As someone who has spent most of the last 25 years peddling his sweary wares around 100-200 capacity pub venues believe me, it was overwhelming. I found the camaraderie and everyone getting behind the song fired me up even more – and fighting for the cause strengthened the bond between us all. And it made a few people angry, but you can’t please all the people all the time.

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“In all honesty, the fact that we got to Number Five last year and then a year later Johnson was still in charge and nothing seemed to have changed left me feeling a bit depressed and that doing anything else would just be pissing into the wind. But mid-November I went for a pint with my fellow Essex music stalwart, Jon Morter who did the Rage Against The Machine campaign in 2009, and he mentioned the analogy of when trying to fell a big tree you don’t just do it with once chop of the axe, you have to keep chipping away. I came out the pub that night doubly determined to give it another shot.”

Check out the new single below, as Kunt tells us about his inspiration, his thoughts on Tories’ COVID response, and what he makes of competition from the likes of LadBaby, Elton John and Ed Sheeran.

Hello Kunt. What can you tell us about your thoughts on Boris Johnson and the Tories’ recent conduct and controversies – and how they’ve been behaving and handling themselves over the last year?

Kunt: “It’s not just the last year. The appalling way people who are struggling to make ends meet in this country [and] are treated goes back to way before Boris’s time – but previous Prime Ministers and governments weren’t quite so overtly blatant about the contempt they feel for the poorer sections of society as the current administration. The last year of lies, corruption, sleaze, cover-ups, attempts to take away our democratic rights to protest while also trying to make themselves less accountable. Then as a bonus, Matt Hancock nobbing his assistant and the Tories all partying and having quiz nights in Number 10 at the same time that we couldn’t hug our nans and 500 people a day were dying just shows the complete disregard they have for fairness and integrity. I can’t believe that after all that, anyone is still supporting them. You only have to see the front page of The Sun most days to see the contrasting narrative people are being sold.”

Do you have a message for Boris Johnson and the Tories?

“We see you. We know what you’re doing. You can change the laws and take away our rights but we will never give up fighting against it. The more draconian the laws become the brighter the fire burns inside us. Fuck you and everything you stand for, you horrible, heartless, corrupt, duplicitous bunch of c**s. And to the backbenchers who toe the party line and vote along with everything, you are the concentration camp guards who look the other way. The blood is on your hands.”

Have you had any feedback from Tory MPs or members on the tracks?

“Not as yet, but I’m always open to feedback so it would be great to hear some.”

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The Kunts return with 'Boris Johnson Is STILL A Fucking Cunt'. Credit: Mike Fordham
The Kunts return with ‘Boris Johnson Is STILL A Fucking Cunt’. Credit: Mike Fordham

What can you tell us about the songs you’ve sampled on this single?

“Since my teens I have been a massive fan of The KLF, not just the music but the way they conducted their business and their legacy. Before I started this year, I re-read their book, The Manual (How To Have A Number One The Easy Way), in which there are a set of Golden Rules about songwriting. One was to lift familiar riffs from other people’s songs as it gives you a head-start when people hear the track for the first time. So I took that literally and used one of the riffs they themselves used in their Number One ‘Doctorin’ The Tardis’, plus that glam rock beat which is ingrained into people from the ’70s and ’80s discos you’d go to as a kid.

“A happy accident meant it was the same tempo and rhythm as Depeche Mode‘s ‘Personal Jesus’, which coming from Basildon, felt like a good opportunity to give them a nod. And I stuck The Addams Family theme on the end because it’s a song you hear a lot without realising it, on piers and in arcades, and there isn’t a more irritating ear-worm. I figured if we get a hit this time round, in years to come whenever anyone hears that Addams Family theme it will remind them what a fucking c**t Boris Johnson was.”

What do you make of your chances of hitting Number One this Christmas?

“There’s definitely a bigger buzz already than at this point next year, but we are a few troublemakers chivvying people along on social media, compared to the massive major label publicity machine behind Sheeran, Elton and LadBaby – so whether we get there will be purely down to whether enough people find out about it in time, and also whether people really believe that together we can all make a difference.

What are your thoughts on the songs by Elton, Sheeran and LadBaby?

“Shit, obviously, but not just that. I think the line, ‘I know there’s been pain this year, but it’s time to let it go‘ [from Sheeran and Sir Elton’s ‘Merry Christmas‘] is badly misjudged and deeply offensive to anyone who has lost a friend or loved one in the pandemic. People have lost their homes and livelihoods. We have suffered loneliness, despair and mental health problems from the lockdowns – and here’s some c**t in a Christmas jumper with some other dusty, washed-up old c**t telling us to let it go. Fuck off, mate. That’s what Johnson wants, for us to all move on and let it go. We’ll decide when we’re ready to let it go, you patronising prick. That said, all the best to them.”

What would it mean if you did hit Number One?

“It would mean everything. Not just personally but the idea of it being written into the history books that at Christmas 2021 collectively we all stood up and said, ‘We deserve better than this’.”

‘Boris Johnson Is STILL A Fucking C**t’ by The Kunts is out now. 

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Listen to Black Country, New Road’s tender new single ‘Concorde’

Black Country, New Road have shared their latest single ‘Concorde’.

  • READ MORE: Black Country, New Road have finished a new “sad, epic and possibly more universally likeable” album

The track, which you can listen to below, is the third to be showcased from their forthcoming album ‘Ants From Up There’.

They previously released Steve Reich-inspired single, ‘Bread Song‘ and ‘Chaos Space Marine’ from the LP which is set for release on February 4, 2022 via Ninja Tune.

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‘Ants From Up There’, the follow-up to the band’s 2020’s Mercury Prize-nominated ‘For The First Time’, was recorded at Chale Abbey Studios on the Isle Of Wight, with longtime collaborator Sergio Maschetzko.

Upon its announcement, bassist Tyler Hyde enthused: “We were just so hyped the whole time. It was such a pleasure to make. I’ve kind of accepted that this might be the best thing that I’m ever part of for the rest of my life. And that’s fine.”

The album will drop amid a lengthy stint of UK shows for the band. The run will include their largest headliner to date at London’s Roundhouse, set for Tuesday, February 8.

The band recently had to postpone their remaining 2021 tour dates due to “ongoing illness within the band“.

“We are sorry to announce that due to the ongoing illness within the band we are in the unfortunate position of having to postpone our remaining 2021 dates in the UK and Ireland,” they said in a statement.

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“We are working on rescheduling these dates in 2022. Ticket holders for Manchester, Bristol and Dublin will have their ticket valid for the already announced April show[s]. Ticket holders for the other shows will be notified when a new show is announced in the new year and their ticket will be valid for this show.”

Tickets and details for all dates can be found on Black Country, New Road’s website.

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Discover Alexis Kings’ Vibrant Single “Surrender”

Alexis Kings is a highly acclaimed alternative rock band that has been on the rise with their lovely releases. “Surrender” is one of their hit singles that has gathered tens of thousands of streams. It has some impressive fiery percussion adorned with a distinctly 80’s vibe. At the same time, Alexis Kings set a futuristic mood, incorporating elements of various styles. Stunning vocals, mood-making beats and powerful music — everything comes together in harmony, allowing the listener to sit back and enjoy the art.

Brendan Aherne and Fabio Bocca are the band’s talented members who draw inspiration from soul, funk, country, hip hop, and rock. Their music always sounds original and familiar at the same time, thus connecting the audience to the artists, creating an unbreakable bond. The band’s debut EP Squire was highly successful, appearing in the top 10 Spotify streaming charts and playlists. Alexis Kings toured all over the world, spreading their unique sound and positive vibes, and are now about to release a brand-new EP. 

Follow Alexis Kings on: FacebookTwitterInstagramSpotifyYouTube

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Black Country, New Road postpone 2021 UK and Ireland tour

Black Country, New Road have postponed their remaining 2021 tour dates due to “ongoing illness within the band”.

The London group were due to hit the road for a string of UK and Ireland headline shows next Monday (November 29), with performances scheduled for Brighton, Cambridge, Southampton, Leeds, Dublin and other cities throughout December.

  • READ MORE: Black Country, New Road have finished a new “sad, epic and possibly more universally likeable” album

Today (November 25) the band has issued a statement on social media to confirm the gigs will no longer go ahead as planned.

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“We are sorry to announce that due to the ongoing illness within the band we are in the unfortunate position of having to postpone our remaining 2021 dates in the UK and Ireland,” the message began.

“We are working on rescheduling these dates in 2022. Ticket holders for Manchester, Bristol and Dublin will have their ticket valid for the already announced April show[s]. Ticket holders for the other shows will be notified when a new show is announced in the new year and their ticket will be valid for this show.”

Fans can also request a refund from the point of purchase – visit here for further information.

“We can only apologise, your support and patience means a huge amount to us,” Black Country, New Road continued. “It’s been an extremely difficult decision to make. We were really excited to play these shows. If we were in any position to, then we would have.”

The statement concluded: “We look forward to getting back on the road as soon as possible.”

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Earlier this month, Black Country, New Road released a Steve Reich-inspired new single called ‘Bread Song’. It’s the latest preview of the band’s second studio album ‘Ants From Up There’, which arrives on February 4 via Ninja Tune.

Their Mercury Prize-nominated debut, ‘For The First Time’, came out back in February. Check out NME‘s five-star review here.

Black Country, New Road’s 2022 tour includes their biggest headline show to date at London’s Roundhouse on February 8. See the full UK and Ireland schedule below.

FEBRUARY 2022
8 – Roundhouse, London

APRIL 2022
6 – The Foundry, Sheffield
7 – O2 Academy, Oxford
9 – Liquid Room, Edinburgh
10 – The Empire, Belfast
11 – Olympia, Dublin
13 – Albert Hall, Manchester
14 – Rock City, Nottingham
16 – Concorde 2, Brighton
17 – O2 Academy, Bristol

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The Warehouse Project offers on-site urine tests for drink spiking

The Warehouse Project is offering on-site urine tests to anyone that believes they may have had their drink spiked.

In an interview with The Independent, Sacha Lord, founder of The Warehouse Project, said that the Manchester club night had become the first place to offer these tests to clubbers, rolling them out over Halloween weekend.

“Our medics actually bought kits last week … it’s a little like a pregnancy kit, if I’m being honest,” he said. “You can take a urine sample and tell exactly what is in that.”

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The move comes after the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) made an appeal to the Home Office to launch an inquiry into recent reports of an increase of drink spiking at pubs and clubs.

Drink spiking
Drink spiking is on the increase. CREDIT: Alamy

“The NTIA are very concerned to learn about the reported increase in the number of spiking incidents taking place across the country,” Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA said. “We support all those coming forward to speak about their experiences. It goes without saying that everyone should be able to enjoy a night out without fearing for their own safety, and we are saddened to hear that some don’t feel this way.”

There has also been recent reports of needle attacks in nightclubs in Nottingham, as well other cities including Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow. The confirmed rise in spiking cases around the UK has been followed by calls for nationwide boycotts of nightclubs and demands for greater safety.

Mair Howells of the I’ve Been Spiked Instagram account recently launched a petition to review the UK’s drink spiking laws after the rise in attacks. The petition is available to sign on Change.org.

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This season’s Warehouse Project series continues this month with Curated By Jamie xx (November 12), Fac51 – The Hacienda (November 13), Whp & Circus Present Radio 1 Dance (November 26) and XXL (November 27).

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Listen to Black Country, New Road’s new Steve Reich-inspired single, ‘Bread Song’

Black Country, New Road have shared an experimental new single titled ‘Bread Song’, landing as the latest preview of their forthcoming second album ‘Ants From Up There’.

  • READ MORE: Black Country, New Road have finished a new “sad, epic and possibly more universally likeable” album

In a press release, frontman Isaac Wood said the new track was inspired by Steve Reich’s legendary work ‘Music For 18 Musicians’, and in particular “a piece where a bar length is determined by the breadth of the clarinet player”, in which “they just play until they run out of breath”.

“I wanted to try that with the whole band,” Wood said, “where we don’t look at each other, we don’t make too many cues, we just try and play without time – but together.”

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While a steady pace is established later in the song, the first passages of ‘Bread Song’ are loose and flow naturally, carried by the emotive weight of Wood’s pensive stream of consciousness. Over a gentle guitar melody, he opens the first verse: “Okay, well I just woke up / And you already don’t care / That I tried my best to hold you / Through the headset that you wear.”

Listen to ‘Bread Song’ below:

‘Bread Song’ is the second track to be shared from ‘Ants From Up There’ following ‘Chaos Space Marine’ earlier in the month. The album – a follow-up to 2020’s Mercury Prize-nominated ‘For The First Time’ – is set for release on February 4, 2022 via Ninja Tune.

‘Ants From Up There’ was recorded at Chale Abbey Studios on the Isle Of Wight, with longtime collaborator Sergio Maschetzko tracking it with the band.

Upon its announcement, bassist Tyler Hyde enthused: “We were just so hyped the whole time. It was such a pleasure to make. I’ve kind of accepted that this might be the best thing that I’m ever part of for the rest of my life. And that’s fine.”

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The album will drop amid a lengthy stint of UK shows for the band, with 23 shows lined up between now and next April. The run will include their largest headliner to date at London’s Roundhouse, set for Tuesday, February 8.

Tickets and details for all dates can be found on Black Country, New Road’s website.

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Watch Black Country, New Road cover The Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’

Black Country, New Road have covered The Beatles classic ‘Hey Jude’ at a London gig – watch footage of the performance below.

  • READ MORE: Black Country, New Road have finished a new “sad, epic and possibly more universally likeable” album

The cover came during the seven-piece band’s set as part of the Climate Music Blowout event in London last week (October 17), which included a full evening of live music, following a conference where leading UK music industry figures and artists discussed how music can play a leading role in the response to the climate emergency.

At the event, the band played a completely improvised set, and for their ‘Hey Jude’ cover, a chorus of voices sang the song’s iconic lines while a host of guitarists, drummers, string players and more improvised around them.

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Watch the performance below:

Earlier this month, Black Country, New Road announced details of their second album, ‘Ants From Up There’ and shared its first single ‘Chaos Space Marine’.

The record, which follows the seven-piece’s Mercury Prize-nominated 2020 debut ‘For The First Time’, is coming out on February 4, 2022 via Ninja Tune.

Speaking to NME on the red carpet at last month’s 2021 Mercury Prize, the band discussed their new album, calling it “sad, epic and possibly more universally likeable”.

“It’s way more palatable than the first album,” saxophone player Lewis Evans said. “People might hate it, but we really like it.”

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Watch the full video interview above. Following the album’s release, the band will tour the UK and Ireland next year, with the dates including their biggest headline show so far at the Roundhouse in London on February 8.

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Listen to Jeff Tweedy’s cover of Neil Young’s ‘The Old Country Waltz’

Jeff Tweedy has shared a cover of Neil Young‘s ‘The Old Country Waltz’ – you can listen to it below.

The Wilco frontman’s new take on the 1977 song will appear on a forthcoming deluxe edition of his 2020 album, ‘Love Is The King’. Set for release on December 10 via dBpm Records, the collection comprises live versions of tracks from the original record.

  • READ MORE: Wilco – ‘An Ode to Joy’ review: a quietly triumphant return to form

You can pre-order ‘Love Is The King / Live Is The King’ from here, with Tweedy’s rendition of ‘The Old Country Waltz’ available as an instant download.

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An official performance video is also available on YouTube. The live backing band featured in the clip will play with Tweedy as his upcoming shows in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, which run between December and January (some of the concerts will be solo).

Tickets go on general sale here at 10am local time this Friday (October 22). Tweedy’s official website also allows fans to “request a song” for him to perform at their chosen gig.

The full ‘Live Is The King’ tracklist is as follows:

01. ‘Love Is The King’ (Live)

02. ‘Opaline’ (Live)
03. ‘A Robin or A Wren’ (Live)
04. ‘Gwendolyn’ (Live)
05. ‘Bad Day Lately’ (Live)
06. ‘Even I Can See’ (Live)
07. ‘Natural Disaster’ (Live)
08. ‘Save It For Me’ (Live)
09. ‘Guess Again’ (Live)
10. ‘Troubled’ (Live)
11. ‘Half-Asleep’ (Live)
12. ‘The Old Country Waltz’ (Live)

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Last week saw Jeff Tweedy release two new songs for the Sub Pop Singles Club series, ‘C’mon America’ and ‘UR-60 Unsent’.

Wilco, meanwhile, hit the road for their COVID-delayed US tour in August. The lengthy run of dates is scheduled to wrap up in Los Angeles on October 26.

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BTS choreographer on working with J-Hope, Jimin and Jungkook: “I truly admire 3J’s work ethic”

Choreographer and dancer Nick Joseph has opened up about working with BTS.

  • READ MORE: Eight K-pop songs from August 2021 you need to hear, from Red Velvet to TXT

On September 9, Joseph shared a lengthy Instagram post reflecting on his experience being in South Korea and working with BTS members J-Hope, Jimin and Jungkook. This came shortly after the group released a new performance video for their remix of ‘Butter’ featuring Megan Thee Stallion.

The three boyband members, fondly dubbed ‘3J’ by fans, had performed a routine choreographed by Joseph to Megan’s verse in the video. “In regards to these 3, I truly admire 3J’s work ethic as well as their unique distinct personalities,” he wrote. The choreographer also noted that the K-pop superstars were “super welcoming” and “hella funny”.

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A post shared by Nick Joseph (@nickjxseph)

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Joseph also shared his admiration for the trio’s “extreme dedication” to their craft. “They do not settle whatsoever,” he added. “Multiple rehearsals, run-throughs and notes all to make sure they perform at their best, and they killed it! I am very appreciative of their efforts and care.”

He also hinted that the performance video for the ‘Butter’ remix would not the end of his work with HYBE labels. “Still got quite some time left here, so I’m looking forward to whatever else may come,” Joseph wrote at the end of his post. The dancer had previously posted an image of the HYBE building entrance, where he called it “home Base for the next few months.”

The Megan Thee Stallion-assisted remix of ‘Butter’ dropped late last month. The collaboration was released shortly after a judge cleared the song and granted Megan permission to release the remix, following Megan’s claims from earlier last week that her label 1501 Certified Entertainment and distributor 300 Entertainment had blocked her from releasing it.

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Reviewed! Bob Dylan Shadow Kingdom

Over the past decade, Bob Dylan has been working on an ongoing series of paintings he calls The Beaten Path, devoted to depictions of a particularly American landscape that’s probably on the edge of disappearing forever, but which he stubbornly insists still stubbornly exists, if you only looked: a handmade place of lost highways and forgotten barrooms and city lights in smeary rain; of lonely drive-in movie lots and funky diners and juke joints that all seem to float in some unfixed time that could be anywhere from the early-1930s to early tomorrow morning.

  • ORDER NOW: The Beatles are on the cover of the September 2021 issue of Uncut

Shadow Kingdom – the title Dylan has given to his “Exclusive Broadcast Event” for the Veeps livestreaming service – looks and sounds like it could be taking place inside one of those paintings; except that where Dylan’s canvases vibrate with solid colour, this show takes place in a shimmering, liquid black and white world. Directed by Alma Har’el, the setting is a small roadside dive, with Dylan and his band crammed onto a tiny stage or shoved into the corner of the chequerboard floor, playing to a scattered audience of comically chainsmoking patrons who seem vaguely disinterested to begin with, stay that way for most of the time, then finally start dancing under the paperchains strung across the ceiling just as time begins to run out.

As well as Dylan’s paintings, the setting stirs up a kaleidoscope of associations: of the Depression-era staging for Girl From The North Country, the recent Broadway musical based on Dylan’s songbook by playwright Conor McPherson; of Dylan’s 1983 video for “Sweetheart Like You” set in an empty dive; of a half-hour black-and-white TV special that Dylan made back in 1964 for the Canadian series Quest, in which the 23-year-old singer played his songs in a workingman’s bunkhouse while weary woodsmen drank and smoked cigarettes and ignored him; and of an incredible performance one of Dylan’s acknowledged masters, Howlin’ Wolf, filmed for The American Folk Blues Festival that same year, set up in the corner of an abandoned afterhours barroom.

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Increasingly, too, the whole scene – sometimes hilarious, sometimes disqueting, often both – evokes the kind of deeply-felt surrealist-noir-Americana David Lynch has made his own.

What’s going on outside this tiny flickering bar, you wonder, and why does it feel like it’s the end of the world?

Little was known about Shadow Kingdom before the show aired, and so some basic facts seem in order. Although billed as Dylan’s “first concert performance since December 2019”, when the pandemic forced him off the road along with everyone else, this was much less a recording of a live performance than a very carefully filmed special, practically a linked set of music videos.

Dylan’s stalwart road band are absent; instead he comes backed by a new ensemble of five relatively young, incredibly adept musicians – Janie Cowen, Joshua Crumbly, Alex Burke, Shahzad Ismaily and Buck Meek, all wearing black facemasks. (Due to COVID-19, of course. Or, perhaps, to protect them from the amount of second-hand smoke getting blown their way by the audience. Or maybe because Bob Dylan just likes masks.) Usually, they assemble around Dylan in a group of four, the instrumentation largely acoustic, old-timey: accordion, guitar, mandolin, double bass, with electric guitar on standby for flashes of Chicago blues or rockabilly.

An onscreen caption promises “The Early Songs Of Bob Dylan”, a category that turns out to include “What Was It You Wanted” from 1989’s Oh Mercy – which, when you stop to remember Dylan’s performing career now spans 60 years, seems fair enough. Mostly, though, the songs are drawn from the mid-1960s and early-1970s, with Dylan digging out some tunes he’s left alone for a while, including a couple he hasn’t played live in decades: that hypnotic “What Was It You Wanted”, rendered in a way simultaneously swampy and delicate; and 1966’s “Pledging My Time”, with Dylan casting softly after the shadow of Little Walter on harmonica.

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The most pertinent fact of all: with Dylan in fantastic voice, singing with the sustained power and dexterity acquired during his American songbook albums and brought into new focus with 2020’s Rough And Rowdy Ways, these songs sounded incredible.

Many have been subtly rewritten, and almost all are presented in radically altered new arrangements: a “Tombstone Blues” that broods and stops and starts, Dylan declaiming like a preacher grown used to being plagued by visions; a gorgeous, goosebumpy “Queen Jane Approximately”; a hysterical “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight”, transformed into a pounding Vegas rockabilly showstopper, Dylan singing deadpan straight down the camera lens, flanked by two glammed-up young women, one of whom brushes lint from his shoulder without batting an eye; a helter-skelter, herky-jerky “Wicked Messenger”; a hugely poignant “Forever Young”.

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” brought the curtain down after 50 timeless, too-short, minutes, leaving you wondering whether there’s more in the can ­– “The Later Songs Of Bob Dylan”, maybe?

Certainly, at the age of 80, with this performance, Dylan demonstrated that he’s still way out there, still on the beaten path. It’s not dark yet – there are no shadows without light, after all. A film for the plague times, it felt like the end of the world, and the end of the world felt great. Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em.

  • ORDER NOW: The Complete Bob Dylan: a meticulous, left-field guide to Bob’s outstanding output since 1962

SETLIST
When I Paint My Masterpiece
Most Likely You Go Your Way
Queen Jane Approximately
I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
Tombstone Blues
To Be Alone With You
What Was It You Wanted?
Forever Young
Pledging My Time
The Wicked Messenger
Watching The River Flow
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

(All Along The Watchtower – instrumental under end credits)

Available on Veeps.com until 11:59 PM PT on Tuesday July 20.

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Kings Of Convenience Peace or Love

On the cover of Peace Or Love, the long-awaited fourth album by Eirik Glambek Bøe and Erlend Øye, the Norwegian duo are playing chess on a stylish piece of furniture. It’s not the first time the game has featured on their record sleeves – the art for 2004’s Riot On An Empty Street included a half-played board on the shaggy rug of a chic apartment, while 2009’s Declaration Of Dependence depicted the duo taking a break from a game on a Mexican beach.

  • ORDER NOW: The Beatles are on the cover of the September 2021 issue of Uncut

Bøe and Øye do enjoy chess (the latter spent most of a recent quarantine playing it online), but their frequent references to it also capture something fundamental about the alliance that’s always powered Kings Of Convenience. Though their music is hushed, thoughtful, polite even, their relationship has always been fiery and competitive, the beauty and stillness of their songs fashioned from conflict.

The 12 years between Declaration Of Dependence and Peace Or Love weren’t the result of struggle and strife, however, but rather of a quest for perfection. Recording took place sporadically over five years and spanned five different cities, including Siracusa in Sicily, where Øye now lives, with the duo searching only for the right mood and feel, a kind of loose magic, rather than any technical prowess.

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Their efforts seem to have paid off, for Peace Or Love is their most cohesive album yet. While it’s not a world away from their previous work, the mood is noticeably more stripped-down and melancholic – there’s nothing like Riot…’s I’d Rather Dance With You or Declaration…’s Boat Behind – perhaps informed by the last decade, which saw Øye lose his parents and Bøe suffer the breakup of his marriage to Ina Grung, the cover star of Riot… and their debut, 2000’s Quiet Is The New Loud.

In customary fashion, they begin with a slow, desolate song. Rumours, driven by three intertwining acoustic guitars, addresses someone facing “accusations we both know are wrong”; in close, breathy harmony, they offer support and advice, but it might be too late: “I want to tell you that I love you/But I know you can’t hear me now”.

Comb My Hair, with its fast, coiled fingerpicking, is darker still. Here, with the loss of a loved one, the protagonist is unable to get out of bed; even the stars and the warm evening air are “cold and senseless now”. Love Is A Lonely Thing, a tranquilised, echoing ballad with verses shared between Øye, Bøe and a returning Feist, and the minor-key Killers, both deal with the pain of love, of waiting interminably for someone or something to appear. Closer Washing Machine, one of the best tracks here, uses clashing guitar chords and plaintive viola to emphasise Øye’s romantic dejection and existential angst: “It’s true I’m more wise now than I was when I was 21/It’s true I’ve less time now than I had when I was 21…”

Not everything is quite as dark, though: Bøe’s Rocky Trail is a skipping, bossa nova cousin to Misread, but it twists and turns so deliciously that its chorus appears only once. Fever places electronic beats under Øye’s wry contrasting of lovesickness and actual sickness, but the effect is reassuringly subtle. Catholic Country, meanwhile, is swaying and vaguely South American, the chorus written with The Staves and beautifully delivered by Feist.

Ultimately, it’s the sparse, live interplay between the two guitars and voices that carries Peace Or Love. The arrangements were largely worked out on tour, while recording mostly took place in homes – hence the Sicilian crickets that accompany Bøe on Killers. There are mistakes here too, especially on Washing Machine, which only enhance the air of intimacy.

After a quarter of a century playing together, Kings Of Convenience seem to have discovered the purest essence of the music they create. It’s become increasingly tricky to tell who originated these songs, especially when, as on Catholic Country, Bøe is singing Øye’s lyrics over his own riff; what’s more, any frills they might have dabbled with in the past have been stripped out, leaving only the bones of the songs and whispers of the rawest feelings. Stylish moves, perfectly played.

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Welcome to the new Uncut: The Beatles, Lindsey Buckingham, Curtis Mayfield and more

Walking round town about a month ago with my family, we came across a band busking in the street. Half way through their set – programmed with the casual shopper in mind, so heavy on classic rock anthems like “All Along The Watchtower”, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” and “Come Together” – I suddenly realised that this was the first live music I’d seen for 14 months. Jolt over, it made me realise how much I’ve missed the profound pleasure of seeing four people play amplified music together. Long may it continue.

  • ORDER NOW: The September 2021 issue of Uncut

We continue to celebrate the return of live gigs in this month’s Uncut where we carry reports of shows by Eliza and Martin Carthy and Black Country, New Road – both, coincidentally, reviewed in Brighton. Meanwhile, in just a few months’ time, the Uncut team will be heading en masse to Wiltshire for the End Of The Road festival. More on that nearer the time – but suffice to say for all of us, End Of The Road will be an unmissable highlight after being deprived of live music for so long. Incidentally, you can find further updates and lineup information at here and on uncut.co.uk.

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Elsewhere in the issue, we also have our first face-to-face interview for many long months – with Leon Bridges, who Stephen Deusner meets in his hometown of Forth Worth, Texas. It’s a welcome change from the Zoom chats that have constituted our interviews lately. Ah, I can almost smell the coffee brewing in Leon’s local, the Cherry Coffee Shop.

What else? Exclusives with Lindsey Buckingham – he brought up the subject of Fleetwood Mac first, I’m reliably informed – and also Big Red Machine, the collaborative project created by The National’s Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. For this, their second album, they’ve recruited Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold among other notable guests. His presence finally unites on record three contemporaries whose eclectic, progressive and ambitious music has been a critical part of Uncut’s aesthetic for the past 15 years or so. Laura Barton corrals Dessner, Vernon and Pecknold for her excellent piece – and I’m pleasantly surprised to learn that Vernon and Pecknold have only ever met once so far, in a lift in Phoenix, Arizona.

There’s more, of course. For our Revolver cover, we’ve asked 14 Beatle heads to each talk about their favourite song from their 1966 masterpiece. Our panel consists of fellow ‘60s luminaries including Brian Wilson, Roger McGuinn and Steve Cropper, card-carrying fans like Johnny Marr, Norman Blake, Margo Price and Wayne Coyne and also two Beatles’ scions – Sean Ono Lennon and Dhani Harrison, both of whom make plausible cases for Revolver as the band’s greatest album (it is).

Beyond that, there’s Curtis Mayfield, Curtis Mayfield, Steve Gunn, Ripley Johnson, Mercury Rev, the Sugarcubes, Lovin’ Spoonful (it is summer, after all), Martha Wainwright, Springsteen, Bowie and much more.

Before I go, I should also pay tribute to Alan Lewis – IPC Magazines’ former editor-in-chief, who helped launch Uncut back in 1997. Alan had a brilliant, intuitive understanding of magazines, as evidenced by the many successes he was involved in – from Melody Maker, NME and Sounds to Loaded, Kerrang! and many, many more. He was a lovely, self-deprecating person, too – full of wisdom and advice and always great company in Uncut’s old local, The Stamford Arms.

As ever, let us know what you think by writing to us at [email protected].

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Follow me on Twitter @MichaelBonner

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Full COVID-19 unlocking on July 19 confirmed: festivals, gigs, nightclubs and more to return in England

The government has confirmed that the fourth and final stage of its roadmap for lifting all coronavirus lockdown restrictions across England will go ahead on July 19.

  • READ MORE: Gig, festival and nightclub bosses talk masks, testing and COVID safety for re-opening

The move means that all social distancing rules and limits on social contact will be removed, paving the way for festivals and indoor concerts to go ahead and for nightclubs to reopen.

As part of the move, businesses and large events organisers will be encouraged to use so-called “COVID passports” – proof of double-vaccination, negative test or recovery from coronavirus – in “high-risk” settings in order to limit the spread of infections in venues.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also today (July 12) encouraged businesses to use the NHS app or an emailed test result as a guidance for entry.

The move has been welcomed across the music industry. Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd told NME: “Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes the decision to permit Grassroots Music Venues in England to open at full capacity from 19 July.

“For the last 12 months, we have been working tirelessly alongside venue operators to identify ways in which they can Reopen Every Venue Safely. That work remains at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but today we want to reach out to live music fans and send them a simple message: It’s finally time to Revive Live.

XOYO in London (Credit: Ollie Millington/Getty Images)

“Please help your local venue in England to provide safe events by thinking about your personal responsibility, the things you can do to ensure that as well as keeping yourself safe you are also doing everything you can to support the safety of others. We have all been desperately seeking the opportunity to Revive Live Music, and to show that we can do that safely. Let’s take this opportunity and demonstrate that we are a community that cares about each other.”

Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE also hailed the relaxing of restrictions. He said: “Today is a fantastic day for live music – our members cannot wait to get back out there and put on the events safely that our fans have been missing this past year.

“While we have been waiting for this moment for the past year, commercial insurance is still not available – meaning organisers are faced with the prospect of huge financial losses should any restrictions need to change. If the government really wants us to get back our feet, they need to make live events financially viable, provide the insurance scheme they have promised, and give the industry the confidence to invest for the long term.”

Parmley continued: “After having lost over 85 per cent of its revenue in 2020, this is a landmark moment for the industry. Events will be able to begin again in earnest, finally bringing much sought-after joy, entertainment and excitement to fans up and down the country.”

AIF CEO Paul Reed also welcomed the decision but he called on the government to resolve the need for government-backed insurance.

He said in a statement: “We welcome the Health Secretary’s confirmation of progressing to Step 4 of the lockdown roadmap. Government has repeatedly stated that once we are at this stage, it will examine if insurance is still an issue for events and intervene if necessary. We are now one week away from this date and the sector needs a long overdue resolution to this problem.

Reading Festival at Richfield Avenue (Credit Simone Joyner/Getty Images)

“AIF is also working with the relevant Government departments on the publication of guidance to ensure that festivals can reopen safely this summer, and organisers and local authorities alike can have confidence in their decision making and measures introduced – including COVID certification where considered appropriate.

“Ensuring the safety of audiences and risk mitigation has always been central to what festival organisers do each year and it will continue to be more so than ever as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.”

Johnson announced details for the fourth and final stage of easing restrictions in England last week but couldn’t confirm they would roll-out on July 19 until a data review was passed.

England’s final exit out of restrictions was originally scheduled for June 21, but was delayed to allow for an increase in coronavirus vaccinations in order to help tackle new variants of the disease.

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GOT7’s Mark Tuan says he’s “still working” on solo music

Mark Tuan of K-pop boyband GOT7 has revealed that he is “still working” on new music, following his first-ever solo release earlier this year.

  • READ MORE: GOT7’s JB hopes the group will be able to release one album a year

In February, Tuan teamed up with Bangladeshi-American musician Sanjoy on the song ‘One In A Million’. The song seems to be the first of many solo releases from the Taiwanese-American singer, according to a new interview he had with South China Morning Post.

“I think everything sounds pretty solid. I enjoy listening to my songs, but I know it’s not 100 per cent perfect yet,” the singer told the outlet, saying that he now spends four or five days a week in the studio. “Still working on it.”

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The singer also said that with his solo music, the “biggest goal” for him at the moment is to “find [his] sound”, having previously named Justin Bieber as an inspiration in a recent Billboard interview. “I’m not given a song now. I have to go out and make the song with people,” he added.

Tuan also noted that hopes to open up about his life more in his upcoming music, noting that he was “pretty quite” as part of GOT7. “It’s going to be about my journey, my career, everything. I think it’ll be super cool that fans can see a more personal side of me,” he said.

Later in the interview, Tuan also talked about his return to America. Although returning to his family was a major comfort for the singer, he also shared concerns about the rising anti-Asian racism in the country. “I’m really scared for my parents. Having them go on their daily walks and stuff like that… it’s really scary,” he said. “I hear stories about my friends, they have people that they know that have almost got attacked.”

Tuan hopes to use his platform to raise awareness on racism and other similar social issues. The singer recently donated US$30,000 (roughly £21,500) to Stop AAPI Hate. “Having people hear [about my donations] and making people more aware of stuff like this, I think it will at least contribute and help,” he said.

Earlier this month, fellow GOT7 member Jackson Wang reassured fans that the group “will continue” despite its departure from JYP Entertainment. “Nothing has changed,” he told Harper’s Bazaar Korea.

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Watch Sports Team’s ‘Wicker Man’-themed video for new single ‘Happy (God’s Own Country)’

Sports Team have released a new song, ‘Happy (God’s Own Country’) – watch the video for the new single below.

  • READ MORE: Sports Team – ‘Deep Down Happy’ review: A flag in the ground from a band dedicated to extremes

A press release from the group describes the new single, which they teased in a social media post yesterday (April 20), as “a summer-of-hope-anthem” that “celebrate[s] the easing of lockdown measures”.

The new song’s accompanying video is a satirical take on The Wicker Man.

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Speaking about the track, the group added: “We recorded this at the end of last year at a time when it was hard not to feel exhausted by the scale of insincerity everywhere.

“It’s a sort of Cold War Steve collage, a cut and paste diorama of cronyism, cottagecore and window-dressed Toryism, with the frustrated energy of live performance without a stage.”

Last month, the group announced details of a new B-sides and rarities vinyl being sold exclusively through independent retailers.

‘Plant Test’ features music from 2016 to 2021, including unmastered new material following on from the band’s 2020 debut album ‘Deep Down Happy’. ‘Happy (God’s Own Country)’ is the first song taken from the project and their first new music since the release of their first album.

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The group also announced details of their rescheduled tour dates, which will take place across the UK and Ireland this October and November. You can see a full list of the ‘Red Hot Rock Show’ dates below.

Sports Team Rescheduled Tour Dates 2021

OCTOBER
1 – O2 Academy, Liverpool

2 – Manchester Academy, Manchester
26 – SWG3, Glasgow

NOVEMBER
17 – Rock City, Nottingham

18 – Leeds University Stylus, Leeds
21 – Whelan’s, Dublin
23 – SWX, Bristol
25 – O2 Academy Brixton, London

Reviewing the band’s debut LP, NME wrote: “You can find Rice and his sidekick Rob Knaggs either charmingly or irritatingly gobby, and the joy lies in the tribalism that’s inherent to Sports Team’s approach.

“After a listen of ‘Deep Down Happy’, you’re left in absolutely no doubt as to what the six-piece stand against and this unabashed straightforwardness and refusal to bend makes them a unique prospect.”

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Yeehaw! Someone’s made a country cover of Fall Out Boy’s ‘Sugar, We’re Goin Down’

A YouTuber has reworked Fall Out Boy‘s ‘Sugar, We’re Goin Down’ into a country song – listen to it below.

  • READ MORE: Green Day vs ‪Weezer vs Fall Out Boy – which band sits on the Hella Mega Tour’s iron throne?

Alex Melton’s new version of the ‘From Under The Cork Tree’ single follows his cover of Paramore’s ‘Misery Business’ last month.

Recorded in his ​”unfinished upstairs bathroom,” Melton’s rendition of ‘Sugar, We’re Goin Down’ sees him strumming guitars and bass on the toilet, in the shower and sat on the bath.

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The video’s description reads: “Join me in my unfinished upstairs bathroom for a down south version of Fall Out Boy’s smash hit Sugar We’re Goin’ Down played on the amazing Acoustasonic Tele! Shout out to Aaron Dethrage for mastering this for me.”

Listen to Melton’s reworking of the Fall Out Boy track below:

Earlier this year, Fall Out Boy played ‘Centuries’ as part of a special pre-inauguration concert for US president-elect Joe Biden.

The Chicago band were joined by James Taylor, Carole King and more at the We The People event, which was co-hosted by Keegan-Michael Key and Debra Messing.

It was also announced that Fall Out Boy are getting their very own Funko Pop! figures.

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Three figures of Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump were teased ahead of Funko Fair, which took place in January.

Meanwhile, Lana Del Rey has revealed that she’s recorded a cover album full of country songs.

Speaking to MOJO (print edition), the singer said that in addition to the country covers album she’s got another collection of “other folk songs” waiting to be released.

Del Rey also insisted there has always been a country tone running through her music. “I went back and listened to ‘Ride’ and ‘Video Games’ and thought, you know they’re kind of country,” she said (via ContactMusic). “I mean, they’re definitely not pop.”

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Lana Del Rey has two titles in mind for her new country covers album

Lana Del Rey has revealed she has two titles in mind for her upcoming album of country covers.

  • READ MORE: Lana Del Rey – ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’ review: a sublime statement

Last month the singer-songwriter, who recently released her seventh album ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’, announced that she’s recorded a cover album full of country songs.

Insisting there’s always been a country tone running through her music, she said: “I went back and listened to ‘Ride’ and ‘Video Games’ and thought, you know they’re kind of country. I mean, they’re definitely not pop.”

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She continued: “Maybe the way ‘Video Games’ got remastered, they’re pop – but there’s something Americana about it for sure. So let’s see how these things come out – I’m not going to have pedal steel guitar on every single thing, but it is easy for me to write.”

Del Rey has now revealed to Music Week that she already has two titles in mind for the country project.

“Spending so much time in a close circle of country music friends, I could see one option for a title coming from that,” she explained. “I also have a secondary title I like that summed up 18 months of my life.”

Not to be confused with another album she’s working on, Del Rey announced ‘Rock Candy Sweet’ last week – an album she claims will challenge accusations of “cultural appropriation and glamorising domestic abuse”.

She confirmed ‘Rock Candy Sweet’ was a new album in a post to her Instagram Stories in which she responded to a Harper’s Bazaar article, published in January, titled “Lana Del Rey can’t qualify her way out of being held accountable”.

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Over a screenshot of the article, Del Rey wrote in red text: “Just want to thank you again for the kind articles like this one and for reminding me that my career was built on cultural appropriation and glamorizing domestic abuse. I will continue to challenge those thoughts on my next record on June 1 titled ‘Rock Candy Sweet’.”

Meanwhile, Lana Del Rey has scored the fastest-selling vinyl album of the century in the UK by a female artist and for international acts.

The LA-based musician achieved the feat with new album ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’, which was released on March 19.

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Lana Del Rey scores fastest-selling vinyl album of the century by a female artist with ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’

Lana Del Rey has scored the fastest-selling vinyl album of the century in the UK by a female artist and for international acts.

The LA-based musician has achieved the feat with her new album ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’, which was released last week (March 19).

  • READ MORE: Lana Del Rey: every album ranked and rated

The record sold 16,700 vinyl copies in the last seven days, according to the Official Charts Company. The fastest-selling vinyl album in the 21st century is Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino’.

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‘Chemtrails…’ is also Number One on the Official UK Albums Chart this week, marking Del Rey’s fifth UK Number One album of her career. She is now tied with Celine Dion for the fifth most Number One albums by a female solo artist in the UK. Only Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Barbra Streisand and Taylor Swift have more.

Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey CREDIT: Lana Del Rey/Official Charts Company

Earlier this week, it was announced that Del Rey was outselling the rest of the Top 10 combined with 34,000 chart sales – more sales than the entire first-week sales of her last three albums.

Elsewhere in the albums chart, Justin Bieber’s ‘Justice’ lands at Number Two, while Central Cee drops to Number Three with ‘Wild West’.

More new music from Del Rey is on the way soon. Shortly after the release of ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’ was released, she took to Instagram to announce a new album called ‘Rock Candy Sweet’, saying it will arrive on June 1.

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In her Instagram Story, she posted a screenshot of a Harper’s Bazaar article titled “Lana Del Rey can’t qualify her way out of being accountable”. Writing over it in red text, she said: “Just want to thank you again for the kind articles like this one and for reminding me that my career was built on cultural appropriation and glamorizing domestic abuse. I will continue to challenge those thoughts on my next record on June 1 titled ‘Rock Candy Sweet’.”

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BlessedKingTheArtist Launches His Music Career With “Tennessee” & “Devil’s Gospel”

Franck Yvan Njonkou Seudio, better known under his stage name BlessedKingTheArtist, has recently launched his career in music. The urban phenomenon drops a spectacular debut released titled “Tennessee,” a joint released alongside playful visuals set to spark the excitement of the fans. Recorded at Wright way studios in Baltimore, “Tennessee” sits at the intersection of pop and Hip-Hop, BlessedKingTheArtist talks about one of the most epic nights he’s had during his first trip in Tennessee. Dropped in 2020, “Tennessee” is filled with sensual emotions, soothing vocal deliveries and beautifully sustains an infectious groove throughout the 3:50 minute of the track.

Just recently, BlessedKingTheArtist followed through with a brand new release, the single “Devil’s Gospel.” The latter is a much darker, nocturnal release that beautifully complements “Tennessee,” displaying the artist’s versatility and ability to switch moods and atmospheres with effortless ease.  

Frank was born and raised in Yaounde, Cameroon, and moved to the United States in 2017, in Maryland, after graduating from university in his home country. His passion for music helped him adapt quickly to the new American lifestyle, getting in touch with industry professionals and taking the final steps towards officially launching his career in music.



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‘Nomadland’ censored in China over director Chloé Zhao’s criticism of country

Chloé Zhao’s new film Nomadland has been censored in China due to comments the director made about the country in a past interview.

In 2013, Zhao, who became the first Asian woman to win a Golden Globe for Best Director last month.

Initially, the film’s upcoming release was promoted in China, with state media lauding Zhao as “the pride of China”.

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On Friday (March 5) though, show times for the film were removed from ticketing websites and references to the film began to disappear.

As the Guardian reports, a Nomadland-related hashtag on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo was removed, with a message saying it was taken down “according to relevant laws, regulations and political policies”.

Though the publicity for the film has been censored, Variety reports that an unpublicised release is still set to go ahead in the country.

The 2013 interview in question, with Filmmaker magazine, saw Zhao refer to China, where she grew up as a teenager, as “a place where there are lies everywhere”.

Nomadland
‘Nomadland’. CREDIT: Alamy

The Golden Globe-winning (Best Motion Picture – Drama) film is set to be released straight to the streaming platform Disney+ in the UK and Ireland.

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Disney also said the film will be made available in cinemas when they re-open, but that is not expected to be before May 17.

Based on the non-fiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder, the film stars Frances McDormand.

Nomadland premiered at the Venice Film Festival back in September 2020, winning the Golden Lion. It opened in the US in select IMAX cinemas on January 29, 2021 before opening in cinemas and streaming simultaneously on Disney’s Hulu platform on February 19.

McDormand recently revealed that she was offered a job in Target while working on Nomadland.

While working on the film, director Chloé Zhao (The Rider) wanted the star to “blend in” with a real nomadic community. Speaking at a press conference held on Zoom, the filmmaker said: “It was really about setting up an ecosystem, working with the nomads, because they are not always stationary and getting Fran to blend in.”

McDormand, who has won two Oscars in her career, said that she knew the strategy was working when she was offered a job in a shop. “It was successful because in one town in Nebraska I went to the local Target and I was offered employment,” she said.

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Lana Del Rey says she’s recorded a cover album of country songs

Lana Del Rey has revealed that she’s recorded a cover album full of country songs.

  • READ MORE: The artists we really, really want new music from in 2021

Speaking to MOJO (print edition), the singer said that in addition to the country covers album she’s got another collection of “other folk songs” waiting to be released.

Del Rey also insisted there has always been a country tone running through her music. “I went back and listened to ‘Ride’ and ‘Video Games’ and thought, you know they’re kind of country,” she said (via ContactMusic). “I mean, they’re definitely not pop.”

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She continued: “Maybe the way ‘Video Games’ got remastered, they’re pop – but there’s something Americana about it for sure.

“So let’s see how these things come out – I’m not going to have pedal steel guitar on every single thing, but it is easy for me to write.”

Last month, Del Rey released her new single ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’, the title track from the star’s highly-anticipated new album.

Del Rey previously announced the release of the single in December and confirmed that the album pre-order would arrive on the same day. She recently announced that the album would be released on March 19 and can be pre-ordered here.

Meanwhile, Del Rey has shared two new images on her Instagram page, teasing a new song called ‘White Dress’.

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Black Country, New Road share raw cover of MGMT’s ‘Time To Pretend’

Black Country, New Road have shared a cover of MGMT’s ‘Time To Pretend’ – scroll down the page to listen to it now.

The London seven-piece posted a video of them performing the track on their YouTube channel yesterday (February 6).

  • Read more: Black Country, New Road: sax and violins from Britain’s most prestigious new band

Their version of the song sees the band strip away the synth brightness of MGMT’s original 2007 hit and replace it with more raw layers and vocals.

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The video itself features three square panels layered over close-up footage, each panel showing different views of the band performing. Watch Black Country, New Road’s cover of ‘Time To Pretend’ below now.

On Friday (February 5), the band released their debut album ‘For The First Time’ and announced a set of socially distanced tour dates, due to take place this summer.
The run of gigs will kick off at Bath’s Komedia venue on June 15 and visit nine further cities, ending in London on June 29. Some cities will see the band perform two sets in one day.

Later in the year, Black Country, New Road will head out on tour again, with dates taking place in November and December. They will also headline London’s Electric Ballroom on September 14.

In a five-star review, NME said of ‘For The First Time’: “[The album] is a triumph, both as a document of who this band have been up to now, and a thrilling hint as to where they may head next […] Their peak may be years away yet, but this is still some of the most exciting music you’ll hear until then; I’m not sure what more you could ask of a debut.”

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Radio stations and playlists drop country star Morgan Wallen over use of racial slur

Country star Morgan Wallen has been dropped by a number of radio stations in light of a video emerging which sees him use a racial slur.

Wallen currently has the number one album in the United States with ‘Dangerous: The Double Album’, which has held the top position for three weeks.

The new video, which was reportedly filmed by a neighbour in Nashville, sees Wallen greeting friends and referring to one of them as the n-word.

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Responding to TMZ, who first published the video, Wallen said he was “embarrassed and sorry”.

“I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back,” he added. “There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologise for using the word. I promise to do better.”

Morgan Wallen
Morgan Wallen CREDIT: Jason Kempin/ACMA2020/Getty Images for ACM

In light of the video emerging, radio network Cumulus Media are “requesting that all of Morgan Wallen’s music be removed from our playlists without exception”.

Streaming services are also taking action, according to the BBC, who report that Wallen’s music has been removed from Spotify’s prominent country playlist Hot Country Songs, and the Apple Music equivalent, Today’s Country.

Stars from the country world have also been responding to the controversy, with singer-songwriter Maren Morris tweeting: “It actually IS representative of [Nashville] because this isn’t his first “scuffle” and he just demolished a huge streaming record last month regardless.

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“We all know it wasn’t his first time using that word. We keep them rich and protected at all costs with no recourse.”

Last October, Wallen’s scheduled appearance on Saturday Night Live was cancelled at the last minute after footage emerged of him breaking Covid-19 rules, partying with fans without wearing a mask.

When he did finally appear on the show, two months later, Wallen took part in a sketch in which he made fun of his rulebreaking.

“I’m not positive for COVID, but my actions this past weekend were pretty short-sighted and they have obviously affected my long-term goals and my dreams,” he said when removed from the original October episode.

“I respect the show’s decision because I know I put them in jeopardy, and I take ownership for this.”

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Lana Del Rey Explains Chemtrails Over The Country Club Artwork: ‘These Are My Friends, This Is My Life’

Lana Del Rey's highly celebrated Norman Fucking Rockwell album dropped in August 2019, and for just about as long, the artist has been teasing its follow-up, Chemtrails Over the Country Club. On January 10, LDR finally gave her most substantive update on the LP yet, sharing its tracklist and cover art in a series of posts on Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CJ4W2J-h5pO/
https://www.instagram.com/p/CJ4W4esByF2/

The album, her seventh, will feature 11 songs, including a title track and one called "Tulsa Jesus Freak." According to her posts, it has no listed features. "There's always turmoil and upheaval and in the midst of it- there's always beautiful music too," LDR wrote in the caption accompanying the cover. "Introducing my new album chemtrails over the country club."

In addition to the photo, which finds the artist smiling surrounded by a group of women gathered around a table adorned with a country club-ready gingham tablecloth, LDR shared another pic of her and three others adorned with pearls and tiaras, teasing a new "music video out tomorrow." That clip dropped on Monday (January 11), for the song "Chemtrails Over the Country Club."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBHild0PiTE

Also notable is the top comment Lana left on her post announcing the album cover, which seemed to address backlash she received last year after calling out critics and fellow artists in an impassioned note. In the new comment, she wrote:

I also want to say that with everything going on this year! And no this was not intended-these are my best friends, since you are asking today. And damn! As it happens when it comes to my amazing friends and this cover yes there are people of color on this records picture and that's all I'll say about that but thank you.

My beautiful friend Valerie from Del Rio Mexico, my dearest friend Alex and my gorgeous friend Dakota Rain as well as my sweetheart Tatiana. these are my friends this is my life. We are all a beautiful mix of everything- some more than others which is visible and celebrated in everything I do. In 11 years working I have always been extremely inclusive without even trying to. My best friends are rappers my boyfriends have been rappers. My dearest friends have been from all over the place, so before you make comments again about a WOC/POC issue, I'm not the one storming the capital, I'm literally changing the world by putting my life and thoughts and love out there on the table 24 seven. Respect it.

Chemtrails Over the Country Club is due out later in 2021. Find a teaser for the album here, and watch her perform the album cut "Let Me Love You Like a Woman" on The Tonight Show below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAPSk89gFAo
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Charley Pride, pioneering African-American country singer, dies from COVID-19 complications

Trailblazing African-American country musician Charley Pride has passed away in Dallas, Texas at age 86.

Pride’s publicist confirmed that Pride’s death on December 12 had been attributed to coronavirus complications.

Pride gave his final public performance at the Country Music Association Awards on November 11. Following claims that Pride may have been exposed to COVID-19 at the indoor event, the CMA Awards issued a statement.

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“Everyone affiliated with the CMA Awards followed strict testing protocols outlined by the city health department and unions,” the statement read.

“Charley was tested prior to traveling to Nashville. He was tested upon landing in Nashville, and again on show day, with all tests coming back negative. After returning to Texas following the CMA Awards, Charley again tested negative multiple times.

“All of us in the country music community are heartbroken by Charley’s passing. Out of respect for his family during their grieving period, we will not be commenting on this further.”

Born in 1934, Pride was the first African-American inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

He enjoyed considerable chart success during his heyday, scoring 52 Top Ten hits on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. ‘Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’’, ‘Why Baby Why’ and ‘Night Games’ were among Pride’s 29 songs to reach Number One on that chart.

Pride also earned four Grammy Awards throughout his career, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.

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In the United Kingdom and Ireland, Pride was notable for performing in Belfast at the height of The Troubles, when many international artists chose to bypass the city on their tours.

In his home country, he was a distinguished advocate for African-American rights.

“We’re not color blind yet, but we’ve advanced a few paces along the path and I like to think I’ve contributed something to that process,” Pride wrote in his memoir, 2017’s Pride: The Charley Pride Story.

Pride was also a talented baseball player in his youth, earning professional contracts during the 1950s.

Billy Ray Cyrus, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire are among the musicians to have paid tribute to Pride following his passing.

In lieu of flowers, Pride’s family request that those wishing to honour the singer’s memory donate to The Pride Scholarship at Jesuit College Preparatory School, St. Philips School and Community Centre.

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Jeff Tweedy Love Is The King

During the enforced idleness of the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people hatched ambitious plans: reading unreadable books, mastering a language, baking virtuous sourdough. For Jeff Tweedy, the global crisis truncated a Wilco tour, and he found himself at home with his family. His son Spencer lives at home anyway, and his other son, Sammy, returned from New York to do remote schooling.

Tweedy had tuned in to the discussion about creativity during times of quarantine, and had learned (the arguable fact) that Shakespeare wrote King Lear while sheltering from the plague. What to do? Well, in times of stress, as in all times, Tweedy’s habit is to visit his Chicago studio, The Loft. There, he planned to write a country album named after Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, producing a song a day.

Love Is The King is not that record. Tantalisingly, Tweedy suggests that a number of straightforward country-style songs were recorded before his own instincts started to kick in. True, if Shakespeare had gone countrypolitan, he might have taken his sense of jeopardy, his troubled masculinity, his interest in tempests as an emotional metaphor and created something similar. “Ripeness is all,” says Edgar in King Lear. “Oh, tomatoes right off the vine,” croons Tweedy in “Guess Again”, “we used to eat them like that all the time.”

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This album marries Tweedy’s mature emotional outlook (love is all, and is a dream worth dreaming) to the workaday manners of Uncle Tupelo or the Woody Guthrie project, Mermaid Avenue. There’s a home video lurking on YouTube of Tweedy sitting on his sofa, strumming his way through Talking Heads’ “Heaven”. The sound of Love Is The King is what you’d expect from the bar band in that song: briskly functional, with an enduring tension between Tweedy’s balmy vocals and the electric guitar, which arrives in these songs like a deluge.

“I always think that the electric guitar player, who’s me, is the guy who’s having the toughest time dealing with everything,” Tweedy tells Uncut. “He’s a little bit frayed. He showed up for a different type of session, his nerves are getting the better of him.”

Occasionally, broader influences seep through. The playful “Gwendolyn” has the wayward electricity of the Faces, and a heroine who sounds the sort of paramour the young Rod Stewart might have conquered and regretted. For Tweedy it acknowledges his habit of finding himself several steps behind a woman, emotionally. The title track has a languid rhythm that is almost obliterated by the guitar, and a lyric that marries the Lear-like outlook of the narrator (“At the edge/Of as bad as it gets”), to flashes of current affairs; tanks in the streets and violence.

That mood spills into “Opaline”, a honky-tonk lament that playfully blurs images of death, paranoia and dread. The inspiration for the song is more prosaic. The lyric is addressed to a golden orb-weaver spider that lived in Tweedy’s backyard through spring and summer before abruptly disappearing, presumed dead. The song’s most troubling image, of a hearse stuck at a toll gate, actually happened. Tweedy saw the funeral car, parked in its own metaphor, when escaping Chicago via the skyway to Michigan. “I kept looking in my rear-view mirror, thinking, ‘Holy shit, that’s one of the worst things I can think of,’” he says with a laugh. “A guy driving a hearse with no change for a toll.”

On paper, it sounds tormented. In reality, it doesn’t. As a singer, Tweedy patrols the trunk road between regret and resilience. Straight-legged sincerity, when he chooses to use it, is a good look: see the thankful love song “Even I Can See”. Tweedy is probably more instinctively comfortable undermining himself, as on the countrified “Natural Disaster”. That song’s image of “a lightning bolt punch a bird right out of the sky” may be a nod to the sudden death of a flamingo in Charles Portis’s book The Dog Of The South. On a further literary note, Tweedy’s pal, author George Saunders, provides a couple of lines to the sprightly “A Robin Or A Wren”, a song that manages to roll together romantic devotion, love of life, fear of death, and a playful suggestion of reincarnation. Saunders’ lines are about “the end of the end of this beautiful dream”. Tweedy, with his unerring ability to find himself while getting lost, ushers in a conclusion that is happy and sad, with hope kept aflame by his faith in the power of song.

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King Princess Goes Galactic, Iann Dior’s Latest Mood, And More Songs We Love

The search for the ever-elusive "bop" is difficult. Playlists and streaming-service recommendations can only do so much. They often leave a lingering question: Are these songs really good, or are they just new?

Enter Bop Shop, a hand-picked selection of songs from the MTV News team. This weekly collection doesn't discriminate by genre and can include anything — it's a snapshot of what's on our minds and what sounds good. We'll keep it fresh with the latest music, but expect a few oldies (but goodies) every once in a while, too.

Get ready: The Bop Shop is now open for business.

  • King Princess: “Pain”
    https://youtu.be/4KNqHWQ1fko

    Mikaela Strauss’s second single since the release of her debut album last year sounds delightfully out of sync. It intros with a nostalgic set of a cappella "do-do"s before sending the listener plummeting through a vortex of high-speed piano keying. The gummy plucking of a bass is all that keeps you from blasting off entirely. —Coco Romack

  • Phoebe Bridgers: “If We Make It Through December”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNfK819vnrQ&feature=youtu.be

    Another year, another charitable holiday release from Phoebe Bridgers. This time around, it’s a cover of Merle Haggard’s Christmas-themed “If We Make It Through December” benefiting the Downtown Women’s Center in Los Angeles. Piano instrumentals and echo-y, layered background vocals make for a chillier take on the 1973 country classic. And Bridgers, who is bisexual, doesn’t change the pronouns in Haggard’s original lyrics, only swapping “daddy’s girl” for “my girl” in the second verse. I have no choice but to stan. —Sam Manzella

  • Iann Dior: “Holding On”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMmUkrUehrM

    After conquering TikTok (and the world) with 24kGoldn on “Mood,” Iann Dior muses once again about heartbreak and lust on the quick-bite “Holding On.” Over another sticky Omer Fedi guitar line, Dior showcases the longing that’s made his tunes resonate and feel like, well, moods. —Patrick Hosken

  • Cautious Clay: “Dying in the Subtlety”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Krp2kPMFMCw

    Cautious Clay got subtly sexy in his smooth breakout hit “Cold War,” which appeared in 2019’s Booksmart and was sampled by Taylor Swift. Now he’s struggling to manage the gray areas in “Dying in the Subtlety,” the latest single from his forthcoming debut album. The nuances of relationships – both good and bad – are put on trial as the Brooklyn-based singer contemplates his conscience and shreds on guitar. With a decidedly more alternative sound, his soulful voice sounds as comfortable weaving verbal poetry with lines like, “Love is just a passion with a four-letter name,” as it does shouting out Jason Statham. While he waves around a Guitar Hero axe, don’t be fooled: There’s nothing subtle about this multi-instrumentalist’s talent. —Carson Mlnarik

  • Miley Cyrus ft. Dua Lipa: “Prisoner”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ir1qkPXPVM

    Considering the banner year nu-disco had in 2020 (see: Chromatica “Say So,” “Dynamite,” and more), it only makes sense that the year would close out with Dua and Miley leading us directly into the days of future past. In the case of “Prisoner,” it’s icy post-disco, a continuation of Lipa’s Future Nostalgia exploration, and dazzling new terrain for Cyrus. There’s plenty more where that came from on Plastic Hearts, the latter’s new album, out now. —Patrick Hosken

  • Big Thief: “Wolf”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw-4-sz0BOU

    “Has the feeling come to pass?” singer Adrianne Lenker questions over patient guitar. “Has the feeling come to stay?” Toward the end of Big Thief’s excellent indie album Two Hands sits this apprehensive little song about being in the calm, quiet breath of a new beginning, with no idea whether fortune or danger comes next. In the song, the titular animal plays both safe-keeper and beast, at one point rescuing its drowning prey by the mouth, blood dripping from its jaws. Like the song proves, love can be both soft and brutal. —Terron Moore

  • George Alice: “Teenager”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClzYMwO49OA

    Teen angst has never sounded as smooth as it does on George Alice’s new single “Teenager.” Considering she’s 17 years old, the Australian pop newcomer is more than qualified to use the dreamy pop track to call out the “terrible solutions” dressed as “guidance” and adults who “pile on all the bullshit then tell me I’m important.” Don’t expect any big solutions, as she sardonically concludes that she’ll “just write it down on paper / I’m just a fucking teenager.” The sun-drenched visual takes us into the high school halls for tongue-in-cheek digs at out-of-touch teachers and issues that seem larger than life, making it clear this next-generationer is thinking past graduation. —Carson Mlnarik

  • Altın Gün: “Ordunun Dereleri”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLMYfvbZzTE&feature=youtu.be

    A Turkish folk song gets re-envisioned as a sleek Michael Mann film soundtrack, thanks to Amsterdam’s Altın Gün. The band has made waves for its athletic, psych- and funk-inspired romps through music of the past, and on the ice-cold “Ordunun Dereleri,” they’ve never sounded cooler. —Patrick Hosken

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Common on Joe Biden: “You have never heard any other president talking about systemic racism”

Common is no stranger to fighting for change. The Chicago native has been using his music to shine a light on social injustice for years, while also regularly getting out on the frontlines and protesting with the people. His latest album, ‘A Beautiful Revolution Pt.1’, is a call to action, which arrives after a crucial US election that saw Common going door to door encouraging people to vote.

We caught up with the rapper, actor and activist to discuss his new record, canvassing for votes, fighting racism and bagging a rare feature from Lenny Kravitz.

Hello Common. Where were you when you found out that Joe Biden had won the election?

Common: “I was in Savannah, Georgia. I had been on set all night and got home at around 7am. By 11am, my phone was vibrating a lot and I was like, ‘Man, what’s up?’ So I looked at my phone and people were texting me congratulations.”

How did you celebrate?

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“I celebrated with my team, we had champagne. Then I spent the whole day just enjoying the moment, watching the news a little bit, listening to music. I just sat around and talked to people. I didn’t want to do any work, I just wanted to take it in.”

During the election you were out canvassing and encouraging people to vote. What made you want to get involved?

“I felt it was necessary because I felt the sadness around the country. I wanted to go 100 per cent for Biden and [Kamala] Harris because they are what’s best for this country. They are looking to really be leaders and get the country in the right place, which helps the world get in a better place. I also can’t say I care about people and not go out and do the things I was doing, because if I had just sat back then I might as well have voted for [Donald] Trump, you know? Like Nina Simone said, it’s our duty as artists to reflect the times in which we live. So I felt like it was my duty to be a human being and help change the times, be in the faces of people, Black people specifically who felt ostracised and not a part of it.”

What does Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ win mean for America moving forward?

“It means we have true leadership in the White House. Leaders who are here to serve the people, care for people and make the right decision not just for one group – all people.”

What issues would you like to see them address?

“Well, let me say this: Joe Biden is the first presidential candidate, now president-elect and soon to be president that I’ve ever seen say the words ‘systemic racism’. You have never heard any other president talking about systemic racism. This is important because America has had an issue with racism for a long time, for as long as it has been a country. And it has never addressed systemic racism or truly acknowledged it from up top, from the powers that be in the White House. So that being addressed by that level of government is one of the changes I wanna see.”

Anything else?

“Yeah, making sure education is broadened. Focusing on academic and development is important, but what about the arts and different programs that would help develop inner city kids? Let’s expose them to different things. I’d also really like to see the criminal justice system reformed because that’s been a cycle that’s been destroying Black and Brown families for decades. Healthcare needs to be addressed too. I want people to have access to healthcare just like you have in the UK.”

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Common
CREDIT: Armin Ramzy

What inspired the idea for your new album, ‘A Beautiful Revolution Pt.1’?

“I was asked to do a song for a children’s Netflix show called Bookmarks. I was part of the show reading Black and Brown children’s stories. So I started working on the song ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ with Karriem Riggins, Robert Glasper and PJ, and one night after working on it, I went home and listened to it and was like, ‘Man, this music feels good’. It was really something. And some of my team were saying how much they liked it and how they needed it. I was writing it from the perspective of someone talking to the babies, to the children, yet there were adults saying how much they needed it.

“Truthfully, I wasn’t thinking about making any music, but this made me think that I needed to make something for the people that was inspiring and uplifting. I wanted to make some music that gives people that hope, that good feeling, but it would be revolutionary music. I wanted it to be able to be played whether you’re protesting or in line voting.”

How do you define a beautiful revolution?

“For me, it’s when people can see God’s purpose, creation and love for all mankind in themselves and they channel it through their individual lives and affect change in others. Then we can live in a place where people see happiness. They can live in joy, in grace, in creativity and they can live in unity and in hope.”

On the track ‘Courageous’ you rap about taking part in this year’s Black Lives Matter protests and how you “found mine” while marching in the streets. What exactly did you find?

“When I say ‘I found mine‘ I’m really discussing two things: I’m saying that I’ve gotta make sure I get my heart and mind in the right place because we all need each other at the end of the day, but also there’s people out there that are riding for us. I found that this revolution is gonna take all of us. I saw white folks, Latino folks, Asian folks, Black folks, all protesting with strength and with hope. This matters to us.”

Stevie Wonder appears on the track, however he wasn’t credited at first. Why was that?

“Because I do some dumb shit sometimes.”

What do you mean?

“I was asked by my management team how we should credit Stevie on the record. I was like, ‘We can’t put ‘featuring Stevie Wonder’ because people are gonna think he’s singing on it ,and they might get mad when they realise he’s not. I should’ve just put ‘featuring Stevie Wonder’. It was a bad choice that I thought too hard and too long about.”

Lenny Kravitz appears on ‘A Riot In My Mind’. He hasn’t collaborated with many rappers – how did you get him on the track? 

“Over the summer I went to a couple of Dave Chappelle’s Summer Camp comedy shows. This French photographer called Matthew who works with Dave, Robert Glasper and Lenny Kravitz was there. He would always be Facetiming with Lenny, and one time I was there and I was like, ‘Hey, we gotta do some music’. Lenny agreed, but I wasn’t sure if it was small talk or whatever. About three or four days later me, [Isaiah] Sharkey and Karriem came up with ‘A Riot In My Mind’. I thought Lenny would sound crazy on it so I sent it to him. It took a few days but once he really listened to it he called me and was so excited. He was like, ‘This is some progressive funk soul’. I’m just grateful to have one of the greats my record, especially as he’s someone who hasn’t done a lot of hip-hop.”

Common’s new album ‘A Beautiful Revolution Pt.1’ is out now via Loma Vista Recordings

Watch Gwen Stefani turn ’90s No Doubt hits into country classics

Gwen Stefani has turned No Doubt‘s ‘Don’t Speak’ and ‘Spiderwebs’ into country songs for a sketch on US TV – watch below.

  • Read More: The story of new wave in 15 classic albums

Appearing on a recent edition of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the singer participated in a skit dubbed ‘Gwen Stefani’s Gone Country’ in which she put a Dolly Parton-esque spin on the ‘Tragic Kingdom’ singles.

Stefani also gave her 2005 solo hit ‘Hollaback Girl’ the country treatment, performing in front of various western-inspired backdrops. At the end of the clip, Fallon’s character Buck Pinto holds up a faux album cover. “Get your copy of ‘Gwen Stefani’s Gone Country’ today,” he says.

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Elsewhere in the spoof ad he tells viewers: “If you’re like me, you love the sweet sounds of down-home country music, but if you’re also like me, you love the rockin’ music of multitalented superstar Gwen Stefani. Problem is, you got to choose one or the other.”

In the comments section, one fan asked: “Is it weird I’d actually buy that album?” Another wrote: “Oddly entertaining… They are actually good country songs!”

Gwen Stefani was due to perform at London’s BST Hyde Park 2020 this summer, but the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.

Earlier this year, the singer contributed to Dua Lipa’s ‘Club Future Nostalgia: The Remix Album’ alongside the likes of Missy Elliott, Madonna and The Blessed Madonna. Stefani featured on the Mark Ronson remix of ‘Physical’, the second single from ‘Future Nostalgia’.

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Declan McKenna shares new banjo-filled cover of Paul McCartney’s ‘Heart Of The Country’

Declan McKenna has shared a new Paul McCartney cover – listen below.

The singer, who released his second album ‘Zeros’ last month, took on a version of 1971 track ‘Heart Of The Matter’.

  • Read more: Declan McKenna: “There is a time for understanding – and that time is now”

The new cover, posted to Soundcloud, sees McKenna donning the banjo for a lo-fi version of McCartney’s track, which appeared on his ‘Ram’ album alongside his then-wife Linda McCartney.

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Listen to Declan McKenna’s version of ‘Heart Of The Country’ below.

Declan McKenna released new album ‘Zeros’ on September 4, narrowly missing out on the UK chart top spot to The Rolling Stones. Reviewing the album, NME wrote: “The 21-year-old might be trying to shake off any unwieldy labels from critics this time around, but he’s doing so in electric, entertaining and thought-provoking form.

“Climb aboard McKenna’s space shuttle, and let him transport you to a place where dancing and getting deep are equally encouraged.”

Since the album’s release, McKenna’s manager has revealed that he’s already started work on a third album. “Obviously lockdown has been helping with the enforced isolation, but he’s always writing. The songs usually come in with full lyrics and the [final] lyrics will then rarely change from the original demo, which is amazing.”

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McKenna also recently played two tracks from the album – ‘Twice Your Size’ and ‘Rapture’ – for a new edition of NME Home Sessions. Watch the performance above.

Following the album’s release, the singer performed a livestreamed gig from new London venue Lafayette. Reviewing the show, NME wrote: Since his 2017 debut, Declan McKenna has re-designed himself as a modern-day glam-rock icon, moving on stage with childish insouciance, resplendent in Marc Bolan glitter make-up and silver lamé.

“Sprawling piano-ballad ‘Be An Astronaut’ and cosmic-synth number ‘The Key To Life On Earth’ are unmistakeable love-letters to Ziggy Stardust.”

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Taylor Swift gives live debut of ‘Betty’ at Academy of Country Music Awards

Taylor Swift performed ‘Betty’ live for the first time today (September 17) at the 2020 Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards.

The track was lifted from Swift’s latest album, ‘Folklore’, which the singer-songwriter surprise released in July.

  • READ MORE: Taylor Swift’s new album ‘Folklore’: all the hidden meanings and Easter eggs

She performed the song on the stage of Nashville’s legendary Grand Ole Opry, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar with a harmonica player also in tow.

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Watch Swift’s performance below:

It was Swift’s first performance at the ACM Awards in seven years, having previously played the event in 2013, alongside Tim McGraw for ‘Highway Don’t Care’.

Swift has won nine ACM Awards over her career and has twice been named Entertainer of The Year by the institution.

Other performers at this year’s event included Keith Urban and Pink with their new single ‘One Too Many’, Kane Brown, Maren Morris, Tenille Townes and more.

  • READ MORE: Every Taylor Swift song ranked in order of greatness

Swift’s ‘Folklore’ was a change in pace for the pop singer, stripping back to her folk roots and demonstrating her powerful songwriting abilities. It was produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner, longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff and Swift herself, and features an appearance from Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon on the song ‘exile’.

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NME awarded the album four stars in a review, saying “‘Folklore’ feels fresh, forward-thinking and, most of all, honest”.

“Swift disappeared into the metaphorical woods while writing ‘Folklore’, and she’s emerged stronger than ever.”

The album became the first record in four years to top charts for six consecutive weeks, and broke streaming records on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music on the day of its release.

She has since released songs from the album in “thematically” arranged playlists, with Folklore: The Escapism Chapter, The Sleepless Nights Chapter and The Saltbox House Chapter. Swift also shared the deluxe version of the record, with bonus track ‘the lakes’.

Earlier this week, she tweeted her support of fans’ idea to turn ‘The Last Great American Dynasty’ into a film, with Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds among the imagined cast.

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Lil Nas X announces new children’s book ‘C Is For Country’

Lil Nas X has taken to social media to reveal he has written a children’s book, titled C Is For Country.

Set for release on January 5, 2021, the book – published by Random House Kids – is available for pre-order now and features illustrations from Theodore Taylor III.

Nas X announced the book on Twitter, touting it as “the best kids book of all time”.

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A description of the book on Random House Kids’ website says that it will see “Lil Nas X … and Panini the pony on a joyous journey through the alphabet from sunup to sundown”.

In addition, the description also teases that there’ll be “plenty of hidden surprises for Nas’s biggest fans”.

Despite his new career move as a children’s author, Nas X has spent the majority of 2020 teasing new music. Back in July, he revealed that his debut album was almost complete but that he was also working on a new mixtape. Later that month, he shared a snippet of a forthcoming track apparently titled ‘Call Me By Your Name’.

Late last week, he shared more details of new music with a penned tracklist. While most of the list was censored, potential song titles like ‘Titanic’, ‘One of Me’ and ‘Don’t Want It’ could be seen, as well as the aforementioned ‘Call Me By Your Name’.

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Jeff Tweedy shares two new tracks and announces new album ‘Love Is The King’

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy has announced his fourth solo album and revealed two new singles. Take a listen to both below.

‘Love Is The King’ will be released digitally on October 13 via dBpm Records, with a physical release date still to be confirmed.

Ahead of the release, Tweedy has shared the mellow ‘Guess Again’, and the darker title track.

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“At the beginning of the lockdown I started writing country songs to console myself,” Tweedy said of the release.

“Folk and country type forms being the shapes that come most easily to me in a comforting way. ‘Guess Again’ is a good example of the success I was having at pushing the world away, counting my blessings — taking stock in my good fortune to have love in my life.”

“A few weeks later things began to sound like ‘Love Is The King’ — a little more frayed around the edges with a lot more fear creeping in. Still hopeful but definitely discovering the limits of my own ability to self soothe.”

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The album will be released ten days after Tweedy’s second book ‘How To Write One Song’, which is published on Faber Social on October 13. It follows his 2018 memoir Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back).

“The feeling I get when I write – the sense that time is simultaneously expanding and disappearing – that I’m simultaneously more me and also free of me – is the main reason I wanted to put my thoughts on songwriting down in book form to share with everyone so inclined,” the singer said in a statement.

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Liam Gallagher drove a combine harvester to spy on The Stone Roses at their countryside studio

Liam Gallagher has opened up on how he once drove a combine harvester to spy on The Stone Roses at a countryside recording studio.

The Oasis singer took the machine on a mile-long ride in the middle of the night while the band were recording ‘Definitely Maybe’ in Monmouthshire.

After learning that the Roses were recording at the nearby Rockfield Studios, Liam and bandmate Bonehead headed out in a bid to catch a glimpse of their Manchester rivals.

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Liam said: “We went to have a fucking little snoop. It was, ‘Right, what the fuck are they up to?’ as they hadn’t been doing anything for three years.

“I’m on about a proper combine harvester — ones you’ve got to get a ladder up to and it’s miles up.

“Off we fucking go, crawling down the road with the big fucking lights on. It looked bonkers.

“We drove it in, turned the lights off and rolled out like something out of The Professionals.”

Liam Gallagher

After arriving at the studios, the pair were caught by the band and invited in for a chat.

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“We could hear some fucking bassline and drums. We got caught, we went in and had a little chat,” he explained.

“We might have had a spliff and that and then we fucking fucked off. Next night they came over on a tractor. We were in bed.”

Liam was speaking to BBC Radio 4 for the upcoming documentary Rockfield: The Studio On The Farm, which airs on July 18 at 9pm.

The facility opened in 1963 as the world’s first residential studios, and has played host to some of the most popular recordings in modern history.

Queen recorded ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ there in 1975, Oasis laid down the entirety of ‘What’s The Story (Morning Glory) in 1995, and Coldplay crafted ‘Yellow’ in 2000.

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Godsmack’s Sully Erna on Joe Biden: “Do not let him control this country”

Godsmack‘s Sully Erna has spoken out about 2020 US presidential candidate Joe Biden, saying that if he gets in office “we’re gonna be really close to losing this country.”

  • Read more: Trump protest anthems: Our pick of the many, many anti-Trump songs

Speaking on an episode of his Hometown Sessions internet show, Erna discussed what the United States could look like if Biden, who became the Democratic candidate in April when rival Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign, beats Donald Trump in the upcoming election.

“Are you gonna tell me that Biden’s gonna win this thing?” Erna asked, addressing the fact that several polls currently show Trump trailing Biden by double digits. “Whether it’s Trump or not, Biden’s gonna be the guy? The guy that can’t even remember his wife’s name.

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“Right now, the people that are trying to make noise are the people that are afraid that they’re not gonna have the right president so they can control the president to do what they need to do in the country.”

He continued: “So what they’re doing is they’re trying to make as much noise as they can to say, ‘Oh, Trump’s going down and Joe Biden is the guy.’ But what I hope is going on is that when it comes time for the election, I hope all the people that are silent right now just bombard this thing and make sure that at least… I don’t care if Trump stays or goes, but do not let Biden control this country.”

Erna added that if Biden controls the US, “he’s not really controlling it – it’s all the people pulling his puppet strings that are gonna control it.”

“I guarantee you we’re gonna be really close to losing this country if that dude gets in office,” he said. “And that is not gonna be a fun place to live.

“What used to be one of the greatest countries in the world, right now it’s an embarrassment. People are laughing at us all over the globe. Even the crazy countries that we sit there and we watch the news sometimes, because they’re beheading people and doing this radical shit, and we’re, like, ‘Wow, man. [I] don’t wanna live over there,’ now, all of a sudden, those countries look at us and they’re, like, ‘What the fuck is going on in America right now? Those people are out of their mind.'”

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Elsewhere in the interview, Erna touched upon the coronavirus and how he thinks it will be dealt with better once Trump is out of office.

“If [Donald] Trump stays in [office], COVID’s gonna be a big, messy pain in the ass, and there’s gonna be more people burning down Wendy’s fucking restaurants,” he said. “If Trump fucking is gone, all of a sudden they’re gonna have this miracle vaccine that those fucking liars have been holding on to.”

Meanwhile, Pink Floyd‘s Roger Waters has shared his views on the upcoming US presidential election, calling Democratic nominee Joe Biden a “fucking slime ball.”

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Police injured after breaking up illegal music event in London

Seven police officers were injured in London last night after breaking up an illegal music event.

  • Read more: NME Investigates — the rise of illegal raves

Police were called to White City in West London yesterday evening (July 3) following reports that a large number of people gathered for an unlicensed music event.

A number of items were reportedly thrown at police when they attempted to approach the group, before they were forced to retreat, according to The Guardian.

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Specially trained public disorder officers were later deployed to the scene before they too were met with further violence, with seven officers sustaining injuries.

In a statement, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “Officers have responded to residents complaining about a large gathering, noise, anti-social behaviour and violence. These gatherings are illegal and also pose a risk to public health.”

Taylor continued: “The violence shown towards officers this evening was totally unacceptable and we will not tolerate it in any form. Officers encountered bricks and other missiles being thrown at them.

“Our robust police response demonstrated that we will police incidents like these firmly and stop those intent on causing harm or disruption to our communities.”

illegal rave
Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Last month (June 12), two illegal raves took place in Greater Manchester where a man died of a suspected overdose, a woman was raped, and three people were stabbed.

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According to the BBC, 6,000 people flocked to Daisy Nook Country Park and Carrington for what have been dubbed “quarantine raves.”

Police were called to both scenes and later confirmed that a 20-year-old man died of a suspected overdose at the the country park event while three separate stabbings and an attack on an 18-year-old woman took place in Carrington.

Condemning the raves as a clear breach of coronavirus legislation, Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes said officers “were met with violence, resulting in items being thrown and a police car being vandalised.”

Greater Manchester Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes later explained why the raves weren’t stopped, saying: “It’s not about what we allow, it’s about how we respond to things that take place.”

With the summer festival and live music season effectively wiped out by the coronavirus outbreak, there are fears many young people will turn to illegal mass gatherings throughout the summer.

Speaking to The Guardian, Night Time Industries Association chief executive Mike Kill said “the youth of today want to be out and want to be engaged”.

“There are a lot of people out there who are socially starved at the moment. And that’s why these illegal raves are starting to pop up because [people] have been trapped inside four walls for a long time now,” he said. “I don’t think there is anyone in our industry who couldn’t see this coming.”

Kill added: “Without very clear timelines there’s a lot of people looking at creating their own opportunities, socially, and putting on raves – almost like the 80s, in some respects.”

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Baker Mayfield Calls Out Fan For Asking Him Not To Kneel During Anthem

Baker Mayfield calls out a fan on Instagram who doesn't want the quarterback to kneel during the National Anthem.

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield says he will be taking a knee during the National Anthem this season. When a fan asked Mayfield if he would kneel, Mayfield responded with his stance.

Baker Mayfield Calls Out Fan For Asking Him Not To Kneel During AnthemAndy Lyons / Getty Images

"Please tell Browns fans you’re not going to be kneeling this season," the fan commented on Instagram. 

"Pull your head out. I absolutely am," Mayfield responded. 

Later, Mayfield posted a lengthy statement regarding the situation on his IG Story.

"Everybody so upset about my comment doesn't understand the reasoning behind kneeling in the first place... Nate and Kap came to an agreement that kneeling was the most respectful way to support our military while also standing up for equality," Mayfield wrote. "I have the utmost respect for our military, cops, and people that serve OUR country. It's about equality and everybody being treated the same because we are all human. It's been ignored for too long and that is my fault as well for not becoming more educated and staying silent.

"If I lose fans, that's okay. I've always spoken my mind. And that's from the heart," he added.

Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien recently said that he will also kneel during the anthem with his players.

[Via]

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Thomas Lane Seeking Donations To Fund His Defense In George Floyd Murder


One of the ex-Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd, Thomas Lane, is apparently seeking help to fund his defense.

Lane is among the four Minneapolis police officers who have been charged in the murder of George Floyd. Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, J.A. Kueng and Derek Chauvin were on the scene, and did nothing while Floyd pleaded in his last breathes, and told them: “I can’t breathe.”

Chauvin was arrested first, quickly after the video went viral. From there, as protests erupted (and continue in their second week) across the country, the three other officers were also handed down arrest warrants, and now remain locked up on $1 million bail, while Chauvin’s bail has been set at $1.25 million.

Thomas Lane Seeking Donations To Fund His Defense In George Floyd Murder

Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office Getty Images

Lane, alongside his two former colleagues Thao and Kueng, were charged with aiding and abetting in Floyd’s death. Lane and Kueng have both attempted to wash their hands of the charge, by casting blame solely on Chauvin.

Last night, Lane’s lawyer, Earl Gray, did an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo where he used a similar method of deflecting the blame from his client– by casting the blame on those civilians who witnessed the whole murder unfold. Yes, Gray actually said: “If the public is there and they’re so in an uproar about this, they didn’t intercede either.”

Thomas Lane Seeking Donations To Fund His Defense In George Floyd Murder

Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Getty Images

Now, TMZ has reported that Lane is actually asking for the public to help fund his defense. It seems unbelievable, but reportedly Lane and his family have set up a website, where they’re soliciting donations. The website attempts to make a case for Lane’s defense as well, bringing up several points that Gray also iterated in last night’s interview. Things like: Lane was the one who suggested they roll Floyd over on his side (but they didn’t), as well as the fact that Lane called the ambulance for Floyd, and attempted to perform CPR on him when the ambulance arrived.

Ultimately, Lane says that he did everything that the chain of command allowed him to do.

What do you think of this latest development? 

[]

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Eve Gets "Trashed" For Feeling "Uncomfortable" Talking About Race With Husband

Eve addressed the backlash she's received for saying she and her white husband, Maximillion Cooper, have been having "uncomfortable conversations" about race.

Eve revealed that she's been getting "trashed" ever since she told her fellow co-hosts on The Talk about the specific challenges that come with being in an interracial relationship during this moment in time. In a preview clip for next Tuesday’s episode of The Talk@Home, Eve explained how folks have been coming after her for opening up about the "difficult and uncomfortable conversations" she and her white husband, Maximillion Cooper, had been having about race these past few weeks.

“I just wanna address something myself because I got some backlash just recently when I spoke out about myself being in an interracial relationship and saying that ‘I’m having some of the most difficult conversations that we’ve ever had’" she said. "And some people lit up the comments and trashed me and were questioning whether this was the first time I had had these conversations."

Eve Gets "Trashed" For Feeling "Uncomfortable" Talking About Race With HusbandDanny Martindale/Getty Images

"I want to be very clear. We have had many conversations because I’ve been in this relationship for many years. When you enter an interracial relationship, there are conversations you must have—that’s just natural. So this is not the first one. I’ve been having some of the most difficult conversations because we are in one of the most difficult places in our nation, in our world, in this time, so that’s why I said that it was difficult.”

On Tuesday (June 2nd), Eve talked about how she and her husband have been handling the events going on in America right now, as protesters around the country fight against systemic racism and police brutality. She said that she and her husband have been having "some of the most difficult and uncomfortable conversations" about race that they've ever had, but she believes that it's "a beautiful thing."

"I don't know his life through his eyes. He doesn't know my life through my eyes," she said. "All he can do is try to understand and try to ask the questions, and he wants to understand, and that's what the nation—that’s what the world—has to do. It's gonna be uncomfortable. Yeah, it's going to be uncomfortable. But we have to be okay with being uncomfortable so that we can get to a solution."

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Trump Criticized By Bishop For Taking Photo In Front Of Historical Church

Trump gave a presidential address earlier today (June 1), and after using the church for a photo op, the bishop came forward to blast the president.

Earlier today (June 1), President Donald Trump addressed the nation regarding the ongoing civil unrest disrupting the country. We previously reported that Trump made his way to the Rose Garden where he gave a speech about protecting peaceful protesters while confirming that he would be mobilizing military and civilian resources to combat rioting and looting. Prior to his discourse, the president and his security team made sure that any surrounding area was clear because reporters and protestors shared that he had peaceful demonstrators outside of the White House teargassed.

Following his talk, Trump was escorted across the street to St John’s Episcopal church, the house of worship every president has called home since Founding Father and the 4th president of the United States James Madison was in office. After the crowd was teargassed, Trump posed in front of the historical church with a Bible in hand. After the photo op circulated, Reverend Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, gave a statement to The Washington Post condemning Trump.

“I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop," she stated. “I don’t want President Trump speaking for St John’s. We so dissociate ourselves from the messages of this president... We hold the teachings of our sacred texts to be so, so grounding to our lives and everything we do, and it is about love of neighbor and sacrificial love and justice.”

She also told CNN, "Let me be clear, the President just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus." Rev Budde added, “We align ourselves with those seeking justice for the death of George Floyd and countless others. And I just can’t believe what my eyes have seen."

Meanwhile, protests and riots continue as cities have enacted early evening curfews around the country. Check out a few tweets below.

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Bebe Rexha Almost Drove Cross Country After Parents Were Diagnosed With COVID-19


Bebe Rexha wanted to be next to her parents after they were diagnosed with COVID-19, but they told her and her brother to stay away just to be safe.

Quarantine restrictions are lifting, slowly but surely, as citizens have been demanding for businesses to reopen. After months inside, residents, especially in the United States, are growing tired of the COVID-19  “Safer At Home” lockdown, so government officials have responded by stating that life can return to normal—whatever that may look like from this day forward—while also abiding by new laws regarding wearing masks and keeping safe distances from other people. Just because we’ll all be interacting outside once again doesn’t mean the pandemic doesn’t exist, as Bebe Rexha recently shared that both of her parents were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Bebe Rexha Almost Drove Cross Country After Parents Were Diagnosed With COVID-19
Theo Wargo / Staff / Getty Images

Bebe Rexha chatted with Extra about her quarantine days as she said she’s been “testing new recipes” and “being super positive about doing things that feel good for my soul.” However, the singer also revealed that she almost drove across the country from Los Angeles to New York to be with her parents once they received their COVID-19 diagnosis.

“They got sick with the coronavirus and were very ill for three weeks, and I got very nervous,” she said. “I was thinking of doing the whole drive… to take care of them… They were so adamant about not having my brother and I there, but finally, they got better. Finally, they can taste food again. I’m really grateful.” Bebe also said, “I am happy that New York is getting into a much better spot and the East Coast is starting to see the light.” Watch her interview with Extra below and check out what else she had to say about her forthcoming album.

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Kanye West’s New Album Titled "God’s Country," First Single Dropping Soon: Report

Kanye West's new album is reportedly called "God's Country," and according to Arthur Jafa, the new single and accompanying visuals could be out as soon as next week.

Kanye West's new album will reportedly be called God's Country, and we may be getting the first taste of the highly anticipated project as early as next week. On Thursday (May 21st), cinematographer and videographer, Arthur Jafa, spoke to cultural figure and artist, Michèle Lamy, about his recent work with Kanye. Michèle asks Arthur if the new video he's involved with is part of Kanye's Sunday Service, but he indicates that it's actually related to Ye's upcoming album.

“No, no, no, it’s from his new record, it’s called ‘God’s Country,'" Arthur responds, revealing the official title for the forthcoming album. "And this will be like the first single off of it. I don’t know if I’m supposed to not be announcing it…I may just be spilling the beans,” he confessed. “But yeah, it’s from a new record, that's forthcoming. I don’t know when the album is coming out, but the single I think maybe sometime next week. Maybe, it’s not definite."

Kanye West's New Album Titled "God's Country," First Single Dropping Soon: ReportChristopher Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Prior to Arthur sharing this detail, it was believed that Kanye's next project, a collaborative effort with Dr. Dre, would be titled Jesus is King II. However, it's possible that Ye simply decided to rename the album, although it's unclear whether it will still serve as a sequel to Jesus Is King, which dropped in October 2019. We'll keep you posted on any updates regarding this project, including a forthcoming single and accompanying visuals which, according to Arthur, could be arriving quite soon.

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Trump Says He’s Taking Hydroxychloroquine Every Day To Prevent Coronavirus


Trump says he’s been taking the drug for “about a week and a half.”

President Donald Trump continues to make headlines for his coronavirus response, this time for his unorthodox method of COVID-19 prevention he shared in a press conference on Monday. 

The President said in a press conference on Monday that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to prevent malaria, for about a week and a half to lessen symptoms of coronavirus should he get the virus.

“You’d be surprised how many people are taking it, especially the frontline workers,” Trump told the press, “I happen to be taking it, I’m taking it. Hydroxychloroquine.” Trump had previously pushed the drug as a potential cure for COVID-19 despite cautionary advice from other medical experts that show the drug is not effective against the virus and may even be harmful. While a White House doctor provided Trump with the medicine, the doctor does not recommend it. 

The FDA has stated that there is no evidence that the drug can actually help minimize the risk of contracting coronavirus. 

“I think it’s good, I’ve heard a lot of good stories,” Trump added. “And if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right, I’m not going to get hurt by it. It’s been around for 40 years.” 

Trump claims a doctor in New York wrote a letter to him explaining how he has prescribed the drug to over 300 patients and not one has got sick. 

This news comes as states around the country move to open up their economies again. 

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"Tiger King" Star Carole Baskin’s Ex-Husband’s Lawyer Suggests Cause Of Death


Carole Baskin was accused of feeding her ex-husband to the tigers by “Tiger King” Joe Exotic but Don Lewis’ lawyer has a different theory.

The wildly popular Netflix docu-series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness picked up insane ratings earlier this month because of all the twists and turns presented. The show follows Joe Exotic, a flamboyant big cat zoo owner, who has an intensely personal rivalry against Carole Baskin. His hatred for her ended up earning him a long-term prison sentence after he allegedly paid somebody to murder her. 

One of the main plot points presented in the series surrounds the disappearance of Carole Baskin’s ex-husband Don Lewis. Many people, including Joe Exotic, suggested that Baskin is responsible for the murder of her ex-husband, feeding him to the tigers so that his remains were never found. Don Lewis’ lawyer has a different theory.

Speaking with Nancy Grace, Don Lewis’ attorney Joseph Fritz said that he believes the man was killed. However, he doesn’t think it happened the way Joe Exotic suggested.

"Tiger King" Star Carole Baskin's Ex-Husband's Lawyer Suggests Cause Of Death
Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

“What I had heard was that he was strangled from the backseat of an airplane over the Gulf [of Mexico] at 50 feet and dropped out over the Gulf,” he said, describing the crime in true Scarface fashion. “Don Lewis, he was terribly cheap while he was very wealthy. He was cheap beyond belief. What would have lured him more than anything else is a good deal on an airplane. So that’s what I assume happened — that he got lured up to the Pilot Country Estates to look at an airplane.”

What do you think about this new development?

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Lil Baby Finds "Jim Jones" Working At Lowe’s


Lil Baby jokes that Jim Jones got a job at Lowe’s after Waka Flocka finds a picture of his lookalike working.

During our weekly trips to the supermarket to stock back up on food, toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, and more, we’ve come across some pretty strange characters. People are being advised to wear masks and gloves when they step out in most areas of the country and, during one shopping trip, a woman decided to protect herself by placing a whole plastic cover over her head and shoulders. While that is meant to be the focus of the photo, which was shared by Waka Flocka, 50 Cent, and others, a background face is making more of a stir.

“Caption this,” asked Waka Flocka, prompting his followers to come through with jokes about the lady going the extra mile to ensure she doesn’t catch the ‘rona. 

Lil Baby ended up sliding into the comments but he made an observation that’s impossible to unsee.

“@Jim jonescapo,” wrote Lil Baby on Instagram, clearly not knowing how to properly tag the Dipset rapper. As pointed out by many others, the man helping out the customer inside Lowe’s looks A LOT like Jim Jones. Enough so that people just can’t look at this image without pointing it out.

Of course, Jim Jones isn’t actually employed at a hardware store. He’s busy uploading his weather reports, spending time in the studio, and threatening to “super violate” Tekashi 6ix9ine. This is still pretty funny though.

Lil Baby Finds "Jim Jones" Working At Lowe's

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Snoop Dogg Reimagines Himself As "Tiger King" Joe Exotic


Snoop Exotic? Perhaps this is Snoop’s next transformation in his illustrious career

Joe Exotic is currently the talk of the Internet, though as of the past few hours, it hasn’t been all positiveTiger King became a hit on Netflix in the past week, gaining the incarcerated zoo owner support from celebrities and your average viewer alike. Cardi B and 50 Cent have both chimed in on the docuseries but Snoop Dogg got particularly enthusiastic over Joe Exotic.

Hitting the ‘Gram, Snoop Dogg dropped jaws after sharing a meme of his face edited onto Joe Exotic’s head. Snoop’s taken on several personas throughout his career and it appears that a zoo owner might be his next flex? The rapper simply captioned the photo, “Exotic Snoop.” The photo garnered attention across the web with 50 Cent in hysterics over the image. “Yo this is so foul,” Fif commented along with several laughing emojis.

The meme surfaced on Snoop’s Instagram page prior to footage of Joe Exotic ranting about not being able to use the N-Word surfaced on the Internet. W”hat’s going on in this country? It’s absolutely pathetic,” he said. “I can’t say the n-word but you can get on YouTube and watch any black man’s rap video and they’re calling each other the n-word. What the hell is this discrimination?”

Shortly after, Houston royalty and 1/2 of UGK, Bun B, called out the incarcerated zoo owner. “No Joe. You’re pathetic,” he captioned an IG post. “Later for this clown.”

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"Tiger King" Joe Exotic Rants About Not Being Able To Say N-Word

The star of Netflix's hit docu-series "Tiger King" ranted about not being able to use the "n-word" in an old video.

Unless you've been avoiding the internet for the last two weeks, you've heard all about Tiger King, the brand new hit docu-series on Netflix. With twists and turns galore, the show has been celebrated by fans worldwide as Joe Exotic, Doc Antle, Carole Baskin and others from the show have made their way into the world of pop culture. Exotic, who is currently in prison on murder-for-hire charges, has received support from the rap world -- including Cardi B, 50 Cent, and others -- who are trying to get him free. Maybe they will change their minds after seeing this video.

An old clip from 2015 shows Joe Exotic handling some big cats and going on a racist rant about how he's not able to use the "n-word." He goes on to complain about how rappers can use the word, but he can't.

"What's going on in this country? It's absolutely pathetic," said the Tiger King in a resurfaced video. "I can't say the n-word but you can get on YouTube and watch any black man's rap video and they're calling each other the n-word. What the hell is this discrimination?"

Joe Exotic has famously voiced his frustrations about a lot of things, but this could be his most shocking rant yet. Has your opinion changed about the man?

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"Tiger King" Joe Exotic Files $94 Million Lawsuit Against Feds


Netflix’s new docu-series “Tiger King” delivers us a new star, in the form of Joe Exotic, who is now filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Federal Wildlife Service.

Surely you’ve been on the internet lately and noticed that everyone is talking about Netflix’s new docu-series, Tiger King. Netflix has ramped up it’s coverage of both comedy shows and documentaries, and it’s generally-agreed upon that they’re killing it in the process. Netflix has blessed us with many in-depth, stranger than fiction documentaries on people and things we really may have never known about without them, at least not the general public en masse — from Wild Wild Country‘s expose on Bhagwan Rajneesh to Don’t Fuck With Cats, and Tiger King is just the latest in their documentary exploits.

The documentary explores the Game of Thrones-esque relationship between several prominent big cat breeders and safari/zoo owners. Among them, there is Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin and Doc Antle. Joe Exotic, who is currently incarcerated in a murder-for-hire plot, is now using his new-found fame to shed more light on his situation. Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the series yet (but also, get on it, it’s amazing).

"Tiger King" Joe Exotic Files $94 Million Lawsuit Against Feds

Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

In new legal documents, Joe Exotic is claiming he was falsely arrested and imprisoned, and the victim of discrimination. Joe is suing the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Federal Wildlife Service for putting “the generic tiger” on their endangered species list, which he says is a move that directly affects his livelihood and was targeted at him. He states that it is the same as “stealing my property and promoting an animal rights agenda.”

Exotic goes on to allege that he was “discriminated against because he is the only person charged with this statute because [he] is an openly gay male with the largest collection of generic tigers and crossbreeds.”

He’s demanding $78,840,000 for the loss of his personal property and the almost-two-decade’s worth of effort he put into working with his tigers.

It doesn’t end there, he’s seeking an additional $15 million when it comes to his criminal conviction, going after former business partner Jeff Lowe for allegedly lying and planting evidence, as well as another former colleague whom he claims was an informant and directly contributed to the death of his mother, Shirley.

Have you watched Tiger King yet? Sound off.

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Barack Obama Letter To B.B. King Hits Auction Block For $17,500


Barack Obama wrote music icon B.B. King a letter just a month before he died sending his “warmest wishes during this trying time.”

Regardless if there is a global pandemic or not, the auction block remains hot. In recent months we’ve learned of photos and notes from musicians and popular sports figures that have gone up for auction, and this time, a letter from former President Barack Obama to the late music icon B. B. King is up for sale. 

Barack Obama Letter To B.B. King Hits Auction Block For $17,500
Jason Merritt/TERM / Staff / Getty Images

After blessing us with decades of music, B.B. King passed away in 2015. A month before he died, Obama sent King a heartfelt letter on official White House stationery. “I recently learned of the health challenges you’ve been facing, and I wanted to send my warmest wishes during this trying time,” Obama penned in the opening of the letter.

According to TMZ, King faced a number of health issues brought on by diabetes and high blood pressure. “As the King of the Blues, you have made music that has changed our country and the world,” Obama said. “For decades, your soaring sounds and extraordinary craftsmanship have touched our hearts, moved our souls, and lifted our spirits.”

The outlet states that Syl Williams, King’s granddaughter, received the letter from her mother. The music icon would later suffer strokes before passing away from vascular dementia. His daughters claimed that King’s manager was abusing him, however, an autopsy didn’t support their accusations. Meanwhile, Barack Obama’s letter to B.B. King is expected to fetch $17,500.

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Coronavirus Hit Nike And Now It’s Shaking Up The Sneaker World


The Coronavirus has started to affect the sneaker world as much as it has the sports sphere.

A few months ago, fears of the Coronavirus in North America were met with eye rolls, gasps of bewilderment, and of course, memes. Now, the virus has become a fully-fledged pandemic that has the world at a standstill. As of writing this article, there are over 144,000 cases and just under 5,400 deaths. Due to the fears surrounding the spread of the virus, numerous institutions have completely shut down as a way to enact social distancing measures. Some of the biggest institutions to do this are sports leagues like the NBA, NHL, MLB, and even racing leagues like NASCAR and Indy Car

COVID-19 has had massive implications on the economy as well. For instance, the stock market has been in freefall this past week with some comparing it to the Great Depression. Hyperbole aside, there is no denying that the state of affairs has been sad to say the least. One of the industries that many have overlooked over the last week is sneakers and sportswear. Admittedly, consumer goods like these ones should be taking a rightful backseat to the health of our population. Regardless, it’s worth taking a look at how the Coronavirus has completely ravaged the sneaker world and how there could be some ripple effects throughout the next couple of months. In fact, we’re already starting to see some now.

Coronavirus Hit Nike And Now It's Shaking Up The Sneaker World

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Let’s start with the obvious. A couple of weeks ago, we reported that Nike saw a massive hit in its market value. Essentially, their market valuation took a 17 percent nosedive due to a lack of sales in China. The virus played a massive part in this as China was on lockdown for a few weeks. Nike stores were closed all around the country and manufacturing took a large dip as well. China continues to be one of the fastest-growing markets in the world and when it’s struggling, businesses feel it. In addition to Nike’s value, their stocks also took a beating. On March 12th, Investor’s Business Daily reported that Nike had an 11.7 percent decline. As you can imagine, Nike isn’t the only one hurting here. In that same report, it was noted that Adidas stock went down by 14.3 percent while Under Armour and Foot Locker dropped 14.85 and 14 percent, respectively. When it comes to sales, Adidas and Puma have taken large damages in China with the former seeing a first-quarter sales decline of $1 billion, according to The Guardian.

To make matters worse, Nike recently had one of its employees contract the virus, which led to the shutdown of its European headquarters in the Netherlands. This is a bigger problem than one may initially think, as there are 2,000 employees on the campus. When you combine the economic downfall and the risk the virus poses to employees, you are left with an impossible situation that has left many of these companies in a state of limbo and sneakerheads are already starting to feel the effects.

While the two haven’t explicitly been linked, there is no denying the correlation between the stoppages posed by the virus and the recent delays in release dates for high-profile sneakers. For instance, numerous Air Jordan models have seen their release dates pushed back by at least a couple of weeks. For instance, the Air Jordan 5 “Fire Red” was supposed to drop on March 28th and it was ultimately pushed back to April 25th. The Air Jordan 5 “Top 3” was going to come out on May 16th but got suspended until May 30th. Some of the other models that were delayed by two weeks or more are the Air Jordan 4 “Court Purple,” Air Jordan 13 “Flint,” Air Jordan 6 “DMP,” and Air Jordan 11 Low “Bred Concord.” In the grand scheme of things, these delays don’t mean much. However, if you’re paying attention to the sneaker industry, these delays could lead to a trend seen across various brands.

Coronavirus Hit Nike And Now It's Shaking Up The Sneaker World

Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

For instance, Nike is set to celebrate Air Max Day on March 26th. This will see various new models find their way onto the market and for now, it seems like Nike is planning to go through with the drop, as per usual. These plans could very well change within the next week, especially if the virus worsens. If supply chains continue to get effected, all while stores continue to close, Nike and many other brands may cancel their planned drops entirely. 

Another factor that could affect the sneaker industry right now is the concept of social distancing. At this point, many people are only leaving their houses if they have to. When you leave your house, it’s either to go to work or to go to the grocery store to stock up on supplies. With this in mind, not very many people are going to sneaker stores right now. This could lead to even more massive dips in sales which would ultimately deter brands from dropping new releases — at least for the time being.

Once again, are sneakers the biggest issue of our time right now? No. Despite this obvious fact of life, it doesn’t hurt to delve into the industry and see what’s really going on. Only time will tell what’s going to happen to brands like Nike and Adidas but for now, things are looking bleak and we can only hope that changes sooner rather than later.

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Texas Man Sent To Jail After Licking Grocery Store Ice Cream

The 24-year-old is hitting the slammer for licking a carton of Blue Bell ice cream at a local Texas Walmart.

A Texas man by the name of D’Adrien Anderson is going to jail for posting a video of himself licking a carton of ice cream in Wal-Mart and putting it back on the shelf. Anderson was supposedly influenced by a 17-year-old girl who committed the same revolting act in a video that went viral in July 2019. The young woman who was later identified by authorities inspired a string of social media videos of people contaminating grocery store products and putting them back on the shelves. While the trend has officially come to an end, it has led to multiple arrests across the country including Anderson's who be serving time in the clink for his attempt at social media fame. Texas Man Sent To Jail After Licking Grocery Store Ice Cream

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In Aug. 2019, the 24-year-old posted a video of himself licking a carton of Blue Bell creamery ice cream and putting back on the shelf of Wal-Mart's refrigerated aisle. In court, Anderson revealed that he paid for the ice cream that he licked in the video and even provided a receipt for the container as concrete evidence. 

Unfortunately for him, he was still arrested and charged with criminal mischief due to Wal-Mart having to dispose of all the Blue Bell ice cream in their refrigeration system. According to NBC's WHTR, Anderson was sentenced to 30 days in jail with an additional 180 days probation over the next two years. D’Adrien Anderson is also obligated to finish a total of 100 hours of community service. Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office court documents state that Anderson is required to pay a fine of $1000 and compensation in the amount of $1,565 to Blue Bell Creameries. 

Check out the video of the class A misdemeanor charge that led to Anderson's jail sentence in the video provided below. 

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RMR’s Viral Country-Trap Ballad "Rascal" Sweeps The Nation

RMR's viral "Rascal" has been captivating the masses with its country boyband flavor and heightened trap music imagery.

Every so often, a song like RMR's "Rascal" hits the internet and seems to capture an otherwise uncapturable attention span. Perhaps Rebbeca Black's "Friday" is to blame, or more recently Lil Nas X's record-shattering "Old Town Road." In any case, "Rascal" seems to be rapidly gaining notoriety across social media, to the point where some are predicting a fully-fledged hit in the making. 

You might have already seen it. Perhaps one of your friends or followers brought it to your attention, amused and confused at the surprisingly successful wrangling of genres. In essence, "Rascal" is a country ballad, tinged with a boyband leading man's impassioned delivery. Yet the package is made complete by its music video, which goes balls-to-the-wall with trap music imagery. Ski-mask clad gangs tote weaponry with menacing expressions -- that is until the vocals begin to soar.

"This much I know, it's true, I came up and so could you," he sings, in the song's emotional chorus. "And fuck the boys in blue." It's easy to write this one off as simple parody, yet there's a relatable message at the heart of it all -- the contagious nature of a good come-up story. And don't get it twisted -- RMR is earnest in his delivery, sincere in his appreciation for country music. This is a post-Lil-Nas-X world and the country-rap subgenre has all the room in the world to evolve.

Interestingly enough, "Rascal" is mostly tethered to hip-hop through its visuals -- stip those away and you've got a surefire country hit. Barring some the anti-law lyrics, of course. Check out the rapidly rising viral sensation below. Is this a gimmick or are there legs here?

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Boosie BadAzz Speaks On Reparations: "Where Our F*cking Money At?"


Boosie BadAzz decided to be the good guy for once by making the longtime argument that Black people in America still deserve to receive reparations for slavery.

Rapper Boosie BadAzz can be considered the most hated man in America or the most agreed with depending on who you’re asking and, quite frankly, given what time of day it is. Thankfully (for now!), Boosie’s latest comments may see him getting widespread approval after he decided to remind everyone on Instagram that Black people still deserve reparations for the unsavory era of slavery in America.

Boosie BadAzz Speaks On Reparations: "Where Our F*cking Money At?"
Prince Williams/Wireimage

In a longwinded post from a few days ago, the Bad Azz rapper wrote a three-page letter that was mainly aimed at the politicians of the world given the current election season. Excusing his grammar, he wrote on the first page, “I was just watching a show about Blacks n Black buizness n what they went through. Bra our people deserve money like the dam Indians get. We got completely murdered n fucked over by this nation. Every time we get successful they hung us. Do y’all know about Greenwood, Black Wall Street n how they did us. Bra I’m pissed. Where the fuck our money at. Our wealth n lives was taking from us for any n everything especially our buizness men n women.”

The second slide continued his expletive, poorly-written rant, which read, “Why havent none of our fucking presidents ask that Black people be compensated forever. Why has this never been a issue at any presidential rally etc. Have we forgot? Do leaders feel we deserved it? Millions of Blacklives taken n “Black Wealth” just stripped which have affected us till this day financially n emotionally. I hate u bitches who did that 2 us. I wish death 2 all of you. Blacks in this country still got no fucking respect r love n thats real.”

He ended things off by writing on the third page, “Where our fucking money at bitches? Democrats, Republicans, presidents etc. Do u give a fuck what we been through? Political Blacks who r n power, why havent yo ass spoke up about our race being compensated. I guess yall dont give a fuck cause yall str8 now. Where our fucking money at?”

Read the original post by Boosie BadAzz below if you can get past the grammar, and let us know if you think the controversial emcee is speaking facts down in the comment section:

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Mike Bloomberg Footage Joking About Father, Son Overdose Death Resurfaces

Mike Bloomberg is in hot water over a resurfaced clip of him making fun of a father, son duo who overdosed on heroin.

2020 Presidential candidate and former mayor of New York, Mike Bloomberg, is catching heat for some disturbing comments he made about a father and son who passed away from an accidental overdose. On a political panel uploaded by the Bermuda Broadcasting company in March 2019, Bloomberg referenced a New York Daily News article about the tragic heroin overdoses of 44-year-old Joseph Andrade and his son Carlos in order to demonize the legalization of marijuana. Mike Bloomberg Footage Joking About Father, Son Overdose Death Resurfaces

Scott Olson/Getty Images

The ex-Stop-and-Frisk advocate decided it was a good idea to criticize the father, son duo and label them 'not a good family,' due to their struggles with addiction. During a brief segment during the panel, Bloomberg proudly states:

"The New York Post or the Daily News had a picture on the front page where a father and a son, they both OD'd at the same party," he said. "It's not a good family. It's craziness. And then we are going hellbent for whether in this country to legalize marijuana, another addictive drug."

Bloomberg also stated that the majority of America's youth are willing to join the Armed Forces, but only 25% of the population has the ability to read and write and are fit enough to join the military. Of course, with the clip resurfacing, Twitter wasn't having it and went in on the potential future POTUS. Check out some of the Tweets of the masses ripping Michael Bloomberg to shreds below:

While somehow Mike Bloomberg is still in the Democratic race for the 2020 Presidential election, he continues to get ethered by his opposition and the general public alike. Check out the full clip (approx. 18:50 mark) of Michael Bloomberg making fun of Joseph and Carlos Andrade in the video below. 

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Roddy Ricch Has The No. 1 Album In The Country Again


Roddy is No. 1…again.

Roddy Ricch has returned to what’s been proving to be his rightful place atop the charts lately. 

This week, the Compton rapper’s Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial debut album is back at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart for the fourth nonconsecutive week after earning 79,000 equivalent album units. The project first debuted at No. 1 on December 21st. taking a leave of absence fromthe top spot a few times to make room for a few other debuts, only to return to No. 1 three more times. In its 10 weeks on the chart, the lowest the album has gone has been to No. 4.

At No. 2, Post Malone‘s Hollywood’s Bleeding climbs from No. 5 with 52,000 equivalent album units followed by Eminem‘s Music To Be Murdered By at No. 3 with 51,000 total. Debuting at No.4 this week is Green Day, who collect their 11th top 10 album with Father of All… earning 48,000 equivalent album units with 42,000 being pure album sales, boosted by a merchandise/album bundle sale from the band.

Rounding out the top 5 of the chart is Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? which clocks 45,000 equivalent album units while Lil Wayne‘s Funeral make a large jump from No. 1 to No. 6 in its second week with 44,000 units.

The next debut of the week is awarded to Pop Smoke whose Meet The Woo V.2 marks his first visit to the top 10 on the chart as the project earns 36,000 equivalent album units with streaming accounting heavily toward the tally with 31,000 SEA units taking up the number.

The remainder of the top is hosted by Halsey’s Manic at No. 8 with 34,000 unis, Dabby’s KIRK at No.9 with 32,000 units and Taylor Swift‘s Lover at No. 10 with 31,000 total units.

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CBS News President Speaks On Threats Against Gayle King


The backlash against Gayle King for her Kobe Bryant comment reached an extreme level.

Gayle King bringing up Kobe Bryant’s rape allegations in an interview with WNBA player, Lisa Leslie, has resulted in a huge controversy. Controversies tend to escalate to huge proportions in the age of social media, but also tend to die down just as quickly. However, in the case of King’s controversy, the vitriol against her reached became so intense that reactions and concerns have been lingering for days. The CBS This Morning host has reportedly been receiving violent threats from people who were angered by her disrespecting the legacy of Bryant while the world was mourning his recent passing. 

CBS News President Speaks On Threats Against Gayle KingJemal Countess/Getty Images

CBS News President Susan Zirinsky came to King’s defence in a statement made to the Associated Press. “We fully support Gayle King and her integrity as a journalist,” Zirinsky said. “We find the threats against her or any journalist doing their job reprehensible. The interview with Lisa Leslie was comprehensive and thoughtful. We are a country where differences of opinion are welcome, but hateful and dangerous threats are completely unacceptable.”

Snoop Dogg was one of the public figures who harshly criticized King for her interview question, but he has since clarified that he did not intend to promote any violence with his message.

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KellyAnne Conway Says Martin Luther King Jr. Wouldn’t Want Trump Impeached

KellyAnne Conway made a wildly bold assumption about Dr. King and President Trump's make-believe "relationship."

Once again, revolutionaries of yesteryear are being used as pawns and talking points to push the narratives of this current political administration. With yesterday being observed to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the FBI, an organization rumored to be a participant in his assassination, Tweeted out a message in remembrance of the activist/pastor. Which wasn't well-received by those aware of the organization's history. Now, White House counselor, KellyAnne Conway, is facing similar criticism for her comments pertaining to an impossible scenario stating that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wouldn't want Trump to be impeached.  
KellyAnne Conway Says Martin Luther King Jr. Wouldn't Want Trump Impeached
Win McNamee/Getty Images
With Monday being a national holiday in observance of Dr. King, NBC News White House correspondent, Geoff Bennett, decided to pose a question asking Conway what President Trump had planned to commemorate the revolutionary after realizing the President's public schedule made no reference to honor Dr. King on his nationally-recognized holiday and birthday. 

While asking a very direct question in regards to celebrating the Reverend's world-renowned holiday, Conway immediately veered off-topic bringing up Donald Trump's impeachment trial with the Senate which began earlier today stating:

"The president is preparing for Davos and agrees with many of the things that Dr. Martin Luther King stood for and agreed with for many years, including unity and equality." Conway awkwardly resumed, "And he’s not the one trying to tear the country apart through an impeachment process and a lack of substance that really is very shameful at this point."

Conway would then go on to double down on her thoughts, creating an imaginary synopsis insisting that Dr. King would be in support of Donald Trump. Confusingly and needlessly saying, Conway continued:

"I’ve held my opinion on it for a very long time. But, when you see the articles of impeachment they came out, I don’t think it was within Dr. King’s vision to have Americans dragged through a process where the president is not going to be removed from office, is not being charged with bribery, extortion, high crimes or misdemeanors, and I think that anybody who cares about ‘and justice for all’ on today or any day of the year will appreciate the fact that now the president now will have a full-throttle defense on the facts, and everybody should have that."

While Trump may supposedly have some type of relationship with the Reverand's son, Martin Luther King III, something lets us know that Dr. King wouldn't approve of the alleged criminal activity that has plagued the Oval Office and the Trump administration over the past four years. With Senate hearings underway in the Trump impeachment trial, more cabinet members in the Trump organization will eventually become a lot more vocal. And there's a good chance that some of these office-holders will also insert their feet into their mouths a la KellyAnne Conway. 

With that said, check out the clip of KellyAnne Conway's made up Dr. Martin Luther King Jr./Donald Trump relationship comments in the video provided below.

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Mysterious Drones Flying Around Colorado & Nebraska Are Making People "Very Nervous"

The drones are under investigation.

Citizens living in Colorado and Nebraska are a little on edge since drones are flying over their homes and neighbourhoods for reasons unknown. According to The New York Times, police in each location have been bombarded with calls and reports of drones with blinking lights and wingspans of six feet hovering over their homes and open fields, prompting a federal investigation. 

Mysterious Drones Flying Around Colorado & Nebraska Are Making People "Very Nervous"
Tom Pennington/Getty Images 

“In terms of aircraft flying at night and not being identified, this is a first for me personally,” Sheriff James Brueggeman of Perkins County, Neb. told the publication, detailing how some residents have wanted to shoot them down. “I think it’s kind of a joke, but you have to remember the part of the country we live in. People here don’t like their privacy to be invaded.”

The drones are not breaking any laws but are making people feel anxious and nervous on its motive. "These drones have made residents in our community very nervous and anxious," Sheriff Todd Combs of Colorado's Yuma County said in a Facebook post. "People do not like the unknown as it upsets the balance of our lives. I will tell you right up front, I do not have a lot of answers for you at this time. I wish I did, but I do not."

Colorado's Sen. Cory Gardner is working with the FAA to get to the bottom of the issue. 

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Top 10 New Christian Songs

The melodies of Christian music serve as guiding lights, offering solace and inspiration to weary souls. From the stirring anthems of CeCe Winans to the introspective ballads of Tenielle Neda, each song in this collection embodies the essence of faith and redemption, inviting listeners on a profound journey of spiritual exploration. Join us as we uncover the melodies that resonate with the human spirit, illuminating the enduring love of God and guiding hearts through life’s trials and triumphs.

1. CeCe Winans – “Come Jesus Come”

Cece Winans‘ song “Come Jesus Come” is a poignant appeal for divine intervention and spiritual salvation. The lyrics reflect a deep yearning for Jesus to return and transform the world, addressing personal and collective struggles. Rooted in the Christian anticipation of the Second Coming, the song calls for healing, justice, and the fulfillment of a promise of a world free from suffering. Personal lines such as “Sometimes I fall to my knees and pray” convey a sense of desperation and a need for divine strength, making the song relatable to those seeking comfort in hardship. The repeated plea “Come Jesus come” emphasizes the urgent desire for a divine presence in a troubled world, highlighting a universal longing for peace and redemption.

2. Ellie Holcomb – “All Of My Days”

Award-winning songwriter Ellie Holcomb has unveiled her new project, “All of My Days,” a Psalms-based album created to provide comfort during challenging times. This collection evolved from her “Memory Mondays” series on social media, where she paired scripture with melodies. Holcomb collaborated with her father, producer Brown Bannister, and musician Jac Thompson to craft seven songs inspired by her favorite Psalms. She aims to capture the raw authenticity and emotional depth found in these scriptures. Alongside the album release, Holcomb’s expanded devotional, “Fighting Words: Expanded Limited Edition,” is available, featuring additional devotionals and new artistic elements. Holcomb will celebrate the release with a performance at the Grand Ole Opry. For more information, visit ellieholcomb.com.

3. Sean Curran – “Led Me To You”

Sean Curran, known for his work with Bellarive and Passion, has released a new single, “Led Me To You.” This song diverges from his typical worship style, leaning more towards CCM pop, which might surprise his fans who appreciate his deeply honest and vulnerable worship music. Despite the song’s somewhat generic feel, Curran’s powerful and emotive vocals continue to stand out. Lyrically, “Led Me To You” reflects on life’s trials and how they lead to finding Jesus, though some may find the repetition and writing less impactful than his previous work. Nonetheless, Curran remains a notable artist in the worship music scene, and his future projects are highly anticipated.

4. Martin Smith – “Garment Of Praise”

Martin Smith, the influential former frontman of Delirious?, has unveiled his latest song, “Garment of Praise,” co-written with Brooke Ligertwood. Drawing inspiration from Isaiah 61, the song speaks of an intangible “garment of praise” that replaces despair with joy and salvation. Smith emphasizes the unique, priceless nature of this heavenly gift, which cannot be bought but is essential for daily spiritual renewal. Reflecting on his personal vulnerabilities and the continuous need for divine help, Smith’s new release underscores his enduring impact on modern worship music and his dedication to conveying messages of faith and hope.

5. Tasha Cobbs – “Leonard Do It Anyway”

Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Grammy Award-winning gospel artist, shares her journey of resilience and faith in her book “Do It Anyway,” with a foreword by Sarah Jakes Roberts. In this inspiring guide, Leonard reveals how embracing challenges and committing to God’s plans, even when they seem impossible, has led to her greatest breakthroughs. Through personal stories of pursuing dreams, adoption, and overcoming hardships like infertility and depression, she provides practical advice for maintaining faith and resilience. Leonard encourages readers to dream big, trust God’s guidance, remember His faithfulness, and not let fear deter them from their miracles, offering a powerful message of hope and perseverance.

6. Alexander Pappas – “A Great Awakening”

Esteemed worship leader and songwriter Alexander Pappas has unveiled his first new song in over a year and a half, titled “A Great Awakening.” This marks his debut solo worship track following his time with Young & Free and Hillsong. The song, which can be streamed and viewed with its official lyric video, is described by Pappas as evoking powerful connections to historic spiritual revivals like Azusa Street and the Jesus People Movement. Pappas, a two-time GRAMMY® nominee known for writing anthems such as “Alive” and “Echo” (Elevation Worship), aims for the song to inspire a deep longing for a new move of God.

7. Peg Luke – “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”

Peg Luke, the Grammy and Emmy nominated artist celebrated for her enchanting flute melodies, unveils her latest musical offering with the release of “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.” This deeply emotive single reflects Peg’s personal journey and unwavering commitment to her faith, offering listeners a transcendent experience of spirituality and introspection. With its heartfelt lyrics and captivating melodies, the song showcases Peg’s exceptional talent and profound connection with her audience. As she continues to captivate hearts around the globe, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” stands as proof of Peg’s enduring ability to uplift and inspire through her music.

8. Jeremy Rosado – “Nothing”

Jeremy Rosado, a kingdom-based contemporary Christian music minister and gifted songwriter, delivers a heavenly sound titled “Nothing,” marking a divine offering that resonates with believers. Emphasizing the importance of advancing the kingdom of God through spiritual music, Rosado’s song serves as a powerful tool for uplifting souls and warding off negative influences. With its captivating melody and profound message, “Nothing” encourages listeners to prioritize their faith and share their spiritual experiences with others.

9. Rebecca St. James & for KING + COUNTRY – “You Make Everything Beautiful”

Multi-Platinum and four-time GRAMMY Award-winning duo for KING + COUNTRY, comprising brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone, have unveiled their latest project, “The Inspired By Soundtrack” album, in conjunction with their new family biopic film “UNSUNG HERO,” which hit theaters nationwide via LIONSGATE/ for KING + COUNTRY ENTERTAINMENT. Among the tracks featured on the album is “You Make Everything Beautiful,” for which the official music video is now available. This captivating visual piece features their sister, Rebecca St. James, adding another layer of depth to the poignant melody.

10. Tenielle Neda – “Yet Not I but Through Christ in Me”

Tenielle Neda‘s “Yet Not I but Through Christ in Me” is a profound testament to the unyielding grace and mercy found in Jesus Christ. With each verse, the lyrics beautifully articulate the believer’s reliance on Christ for joy, righteousness, and freedom. Through moments of weakness and rejoicing, the refrain resounds with unwavering hope, affirming that it is through Christ alone that victory is secured. The song’s emotive melody and stirring refrain echo the believer’s journey from darkness to light, from fear to freedom, culminating in a resounding declaration of faith and gratitude.

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Uncut September 2024

HAVE A COPY SENT STRAIGHT TO YOUR HOME

Bruce Springsteen, The Police, Sturgill Simpson, Alan Sparhawk, Beachwood Sparks, Lowell George, Adrian Borland and The Sound, Buzzcocks, X, Mavis Staples, Manic Street Preachers, The Jesus Lizard, Laurie Anderson, Dawn Landes, The Specials, Bob Dylan, Mark Lanegan, Brian Eno and more all feature in Uncut‘s September 2024 issue, in UK shops from July 19 or available to buy online now.

All print copies come with a free, 15-track new music CD featuring MJ Lendeman, Nathan Bowles Trio, Spiral Galaxies, Mercury Rev, Moon Diagrams, El Khat, Nick Lowe, Harlem Gospel Travelers, Amy Rigby, Krononaut and more!

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INSIDE THIS MONTH’S UNCUT:

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: BORN IN THE USA may be BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’s most successful album – but it is also his most misunderstood. As this landmark record turns 40, we investigate how The E Street Band spun stadium rock gold from Springsteen’s unflinching studies of alienation, self-doubt and the American dream gone sour. Meanwhile, long-term admirers KURT VILE, LUCINDA WILLIAMS, TOM MORELLO and ADAM GRANDUCIEL celebrate an album of relatable characters, surprisingly raw performances and “total Boss music”.

THE POLICE: At the peak of their success, THE POLICE went into battle… with themselves. But between the screaming matches and crisis meetings, they created their final album, Synchronicity: an epic, international hit that brought into focus their unwavering commitment to the music, even while the band fell apart.

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STURGILL SIMPSON: The restless country music outsider has moved to Europe and adopted the alter ego Johnny Blue Skies for a new album of freewheeling love songs, influenced by Serge Gainsbourg, Gerry Rafferty and Homer’s Odyssey….

ADRIAN BORLAND & THE SOUND: A new biography and a brace of reissues finally gives this great, undervalued band and their brilliant but troubled singer the recognition they richly deserve.

BEACHWOOD SPARKS: After a 10-year hiatus, BEACHWOOD SPARKS return with Across The River Of Stars, a new studio album that brings pathos to their sun-dappled brand of country rock. From their Ventura HQ, California’s psych cowboys look back to move forward – on enduring friendships, poignant losses and anthems of cosmic love.

LOWELL GEORGE: A graduate of both Hollywood High School and Frank Zappa’s Mothers Of Invention, LOWELL GEORGE’s gifts were boundless: singer, songwriter, producer, arranger, frontman, slide guitarist supreme… now, 45 years since his untimely death, his former LITTLE FEAT bandmates and assorted collaborators hymn their fallen comrade.

AN AUDIENCE WITH… STEVE DIGGLE: The Buzzcocks bosun talks acid, existentialism, accidental genius and missing Pete Shelley

THE MAKING OF “NOTHING BUT A HEARTACHE” BY THE FLIRTATIONS: Most Northern Soul staples began l life in the States, but not this one: “We were all excited to be coming to London…”

ALBUM BY ALBUM WITH X: Exene Cervernka and Joe Doe reflect on four decades-plus of punk, pop, roots rock and metal

MY LIFE IN MUSIC WITH HORACE PANTER: The Specials’ bassist on his journey to the Dirt Road Band: “I knew that there was a new world somewhere”

REVIEWED: Alan Sparhawk, Nick Lowe, Laurie Anderson, Nilüfer Yanya, Shovels & Rope, Andrew Tuttle & Michael Chapman, Krononaut, El Khat, Mark Lanegan Band, Ten Years After, Stuart Moxham, Dorothy Carter, “Blue” Gene Tyranny, Outlaw Festival, Mavis Staples, Brian Eno, Steve Wynn and more

PLUS: Early Manics, John Murry & Michael Timmins, Dawn Landes, The Jesus Lizard and… introducing MJ Lenderman

CLICK TO GET THE NEW UNCUT DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR

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Donald Trump tells George Clooney to “go back to TV” over Biden article: “Movies never worked out”

Donald Trump has told George Clooney to “go back to television” after he called on Joe Biden to step down, adding “movies never really worked for him.”

President Biden performed poorly in the first debate against Trump on June 27, appearing to lose his way several times, causing many of his supporters to call into question his ability to continue in the fight for the White House.

Concerns were further heightened last night (July 11) at a press conference at the NATO Summit where Biden mistakenly referred to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy as “President Putin” and to his Vice President Kamala Harris as “Vice President Trump”.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden – CREDIT: Getty Images
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Clooney published an op-ed piece in the New York Times this week in which he encouraged Biden to step down as the Democratic nominee, saying he has the power to save democracy by doing so.

Trump has now fired back on Truth Social. “So now fake movie actor George Clooney, who never came close to making a great movie, is getting into the act. He’s turned on Crooked Joe like the rats they both are.”

“What does Clooney know about anything?” Trump continued. “He uses the Democrat ‘talking point’ that Biden, the WORST President in the history of the United States, has ‘saved our Democracy’.”

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“No, Crooked Joe was the one who WEAPONIZED Law Enforcement against his political Opponent, who created the most devastating INFLATION in the history of our Country, who Embarrassed our Nation in Afghanistan, and whose crazy Open Border Policy has allowed millions of people to illegally pour into our Country, many from prisons and mental institutions.”

“Crooked Joe Biden didn’t save our Democracy, he brought our Democracy to its knees. Clooney should get out of politics and go back to television. Movies never really worked for him!!!” he concluded.

Clooney is far from the only figure in the entertainment industry to call on Biden to step aside ahead of the election. Stephen Colbert said that “it is possible that handing leadership to a younger generation is the right thing for the greater good”, while Stephen King claimed that “it’s time for him…to announce he will not run for re-election”.

When Harry Met Sally… director Rob Reiner has also shared his concerns about Biden’s physical competence for the upcoming election.

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“If the Convicted Felon wins, we lose our Democracy. Joe Biden has effectively served US with honour, decency, and dignity. It’s time for Joe Biden to step down,” Reiner wrote on X.

Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof is another calling for Biden to step down: “Biden has to go & the Dems need to wake up,” he wrote in a column for Deadline.

“When Joe finally leaves the mound, I will stand and applaud. Because he truly pitched a great game,” he added.

Biden maintains that he intends to remain in the race, believing he is the Democrat best positioned to defeat Trump.

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Eiko Ishibashi Evil Does Not Exist

Watch Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s new film, and you’ll see the countryside that Eiko Ishibashi and her partner Jim O’Rourke call home: the snow-capped extinct volcanoes, the dense forests and grassy meadows, frozen lakes and icy mountain streams. Yet it’s not by chance that the setting of Evil Does Not Exist matches the area west of Tokyo where the composer lives – in fact, the film is deeply interlinked with Ishibashi’s work and life, the visuals and the music both serving as inspirations to each other.

THE NEW UNCUT COMES WITH A FREE, ULTRA-COLLECTABLE JOHN LENNON CD – ORDER A COPY HERE

After Hamaguchi heard Ishibashi’s 2018 LP The Dream My Bones Dream, the pair began working together on 2021’s Drive My Car. It picked up an Oscar for Best International Feature Film, and Ishibashi’s jazzy, verdant soundtrack – at once accessible and experimental – was a big part of its success. When she then asked Hamaguchi to create visuals she could perform to onstage, he came to the area where she and O’Rourke live and began to film, initially inspired by a handful of electronic instrumentals she had created. The director enjoyed what he’d filmed so much, though, that he turned it into a full film, with dialogue and storyline, and requested more musical material that Ishibashi then wrote to the finished edit.

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The final version of Evil Does Not Exist isn’t exactly full of Ishibashi’s music – you’ll need to search out Ishibashi’s live shows featuring the shorter, silent version, entitled Gift, for that – but when it does appear it’s the most bewitching, powerful element of the film. The more electronic pieces are those that Ishibashi wrote first, inspirations for Hamaguchi’s visuals and story: “Hana V.2”, for instance, is all gently pulsing electronic tones that slowly form shifting chords, like shapes glimpsed in clouds. Vaporous strings and the kind of harsh cymbal drones heard in Neu!’s “Sonderangebot” briefly appear, alongside the sounds of the film’s troubled protagonist Takumi chopping wood.

Smoke” and “Fether” are perhaps the most familiar pieces here, faintly reminiscent of the Drive My Car soundtrack or Ishibashi’s 2022 release For McCoy, and also to O’Rourke’s masterful music for Kyle Armstrong’s Hands That Bind. The former is driven by fluttering drums and Ishibashi’s layered flute, once again demonstrating her love for the measured, quicksilver jazz found on the ECM label, while the latter briefly mixes granulated textures with leaf-falls of piano. The longest piece here is the most ambient, the 12-minute “Missing V.2”, which begins with what seems like a Japanese train announcement; the film, however, reveals this to be a chilling public information message about a young girl lost in the forest as night begins to fall. Low strings hum and ominous piano chords toll, as important as the abstract electronics; gradually, clattering cymbals and a warped, synthetic heartbeat raise the tension, almost unbearably. The effect is stunning and enveloping.

The remaining three tracks are the most striking, both in the film and on the album. These were composed for the completed film, and find Ishibashi writing for strings (in fact overdubbed by two performers to simulate a lush orchestral ensemble). Her albums have included strings for years, but not like this: here, huge suspended chords hang like rock buttresses, showing Ishibashi’s childhood love of Bach and her more recent appreciation of modernist pioneer Charles Ives. At times, though, the harmonies seem to stall and, as if caught in the gravity of some unseen body, they spin off into eerie discord, before finally returning to the theme. It’s a stunning trick, and the power is all in the flow: these pieces snake as organically as the streams in Evil Does Not Exist, or twist like the antlers of the stag that plays such a mysterious, pivotal part in the film.

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Quite how these pieces will exist as a live soundtrack to Gift will be revealed, but as a standalone soundtrack Evil Does Not Exist is a fine addition to Ishibashi’s singular work – the mood is darker and eerier than her feted Drive My Car, but it’s the stronger album nonetheless. What’s more, this astonishing record perfectly lays the groundwork for the song-based follow-up to The Dream My Bones Dream, due to float out of those deep forests in the tantalisingly near future.

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Editors pull out of Park Live in Kazakhstan over Russian tech company sponsor

Editors have pulled out of Park Life festival in Almaty, Kazakhstan, due to concerns over its Russian sponsor.

READ MORE: Editors – ‘EBM’ review: brooding bangers show flashes of their very best

The Birmingham six-piece were due to play the festival in Kazakhstan’s largest city, but announced on Instagram earlier today (July 9) that they are no longer involved.

“As some people are aware,” they wrote, “We have been in talks to play Park Live festival in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

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Editors, who recently played a show at the newly reopened O2 Academy Brixton, continued: “However, having now been informed who the sponsor of the event is, we have decided to withdraw our involvement. We dearly hope to come to Kazakhstan in the future, under different circumstances.”

Yandex, a Russian technology company based in Moscow, is sponsoring the festival, which is calling itself Yandex Park Live. One of its biggest products is Yandex Search, one of the biggest search engines in the world and a rival to the likes of Google and Bing.

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The festival takes place from September 6 to 8, and the headliners are Die Antwoord, Tyga and Placebo. Other acts set to appear include Dizzee Rascal, Oliver Tree, and Brennan Savage, with more scheduled to be announced.

In February, Yandex announced it was going to pull out of Russia, with its Dutch-based parent company selling it for 475billion roubles (£4.2b, $5.2b). This means that Yandex’s Russian business is now fully Russian-owned.

Arkady Volozh, Yandex’s co-founder who left the company in 2022, has spoken out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the European Union has sanctioned him, saying in 2022 that Yandex is “responsible for promoting [Russian] state media and narratives in its search results, and deranking and removing content critical of the Kremlin, such as content related to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”

An experiment by BBC Monitoring in 2022 showed that the search engine’s results didn’t report Russian atrocities in the city of Bucha, Ukraine, too.

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The government of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky declared today a day of mourning after civilians were killed in a series of attacks where targets included the likes of Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital.

Meanwhile, Russia claimed to have captured the village of Yasnobrodivka in the east of Ukraine, near the city of Donetsk – currently occupied by the country.

Over the last few months, a number of festivals have been hit with boycotts from both artists and fans due to sponsors. Over 100 acts boycotted The Great Escape in Brighton as part of the campaign Bands Boycott Barclays.

The campaign claims that Barclays Bank, which sponsored The Great Escape as well as other UK festivals including Latitude and Isle of Wight, increased its investment in arms companies that trade with Israel.

South by Southwest (SXSW) in Texas also saw a lot of boycotts earlier this year, due to the festival’s sponsorship by the US Army. NME described it as a “festival mired in confusion and controversy at the time.”

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System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian hits back at Imagine Dragons’ Azerbaijan gig defence: “Respectfully, I draw the line at ethnic cleansing and genocide”

System Of A Down frontman Serj Tankian has once again hit back at Imagine Dragons for their controversial gig in Azerbaijan.

Last month, Tankian made headlines when he criticised Imagine Dragons for their decision to go ahead with their controversial gigs in Israel and Azerbaijan, stating that he has “zero respect for those guys”.

The dispute came over a show that Dan Reynolds and co played in Azerbeijan’s capital city, Baku, which some argued could be perceived as being an endorsement of the country’s authoritarian President Ilham Aliyev.

Tankian had sent the group a letter last summer urging them to pull out of the Baku Olympic Stadium show. In the letter, he stated that proceeding with the gig “would help whitewash the dictatorial regime’s image”.

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The likes of Brian Eno, Thurston Moore and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters also took the time to share an open letter last August asking Imagine Dragons to back out from the gigs. “Performing in Baku under these circumstances, regardless of intent, can only help the government of Azerbaijan cover up its crimes,” a section of it read.

Earlier this week, Reynolds opened up about the band’s decision to proceed with the gigs, telling Rolling Stone: “I don’t believe in depriving our fans who want to see us play because of the acts of their leaders and their governments. I think that’s a really slippery slope. I think the second you start to do that, there’s corrupt leaders and warmongers all over the world, and where do you draw the line?”

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He also addressed Tankian’s comments, sharing: “I think I just said it. It’s a slippery slope, and I’m never going to deprive our fans of playing for them.”

Last night (July 4) the ‘Chop Suey!’ singer took to his official social media accounts to hit back at Reynolds’ statement. He restated Reynolds’ rhetorical question and wrote: “Respectfully, I draw the line at ethnic cleansing and genocide.”

He continued: “Azerbaijan’s dictatorship with popular support was already into a 9 month starvation blockade of Nagorno-Karabagh qualified as Genocide by former @icc prosecutor @luismorenoocampo when they decided to play Baku. Would they play in Nazi Germany? Why don’t they want to play in Russia? Because it’s not popular?

“They support Ukraine but not Armenians of Artsakh? The only ‘slippery slope’ is the farce moral equivalency at the heart of this hypocritical attitude. I have nothing against this guy nor his band. I just hate artists being taken advantage of to whitewash Genocidal dictatorships.”

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Previously criticising the band for performing in Azerbaijan, Tankian told Metal Hammer: “Look, I’m not a judge for people to tell bands where to play, or where not to play… I get that they’re doing it for money, that they’re artists, that they’re entertaining, all of that.

“But when there’s a government that’s about to commit ethnic cleansing, when Azerbaijan was starving the 120,000 Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, and not allowing any food or medicine in… you know, as an artist, if I found that out, there is no fucking way I could have gone and played that show. But some artists do. And I don’t know what to say about those artists. I don’t respect them as human beings. Fuck their art, they’re not good human beings, as far as I’m concerned.”

He continued: “If you are that blind to justice that you will go play a show in a country that’s starving another country, illegally, according to the International Court of Justice, according to what Amnesty International is saying, what Human Rights Watch is saying… If you still go and play that country, I don’t know what to say about you as a fucking human being. I don’t even care about your music. If you’re a bad human being, I don’t give a fuck. So that’s where I’m at with that. I have zero respect for those guys.”

Elsewhere, the metal icon recently spoke to NME and shared his thoughts on the current situation in Palestine, as well as the movement to boycott companies with ties to Israel.

“It’s important for the youth to raise their voice, because we are not living in a just world,” he said. “I think in some cases, pure activism is taken hostage by certain fringe elements of society, including in the US – certain anti-Semites who have gotten into that world. However, I think the majority of the activists and their intentions are pure, and I think what they’re doing is important.

He continued: “In terms of the Hamas invasion of Israel, I want to say that was obviously a terrorist act and they are war criminals and deserve to be punished. But, the Netanyahu government’s response is also – as we can see with the number of civilians that have died – a war crime.”

In other news, Tankian recently expanded on the meaning behind the lyrics “sacred silence and sleep” from System Of A Down’s 2001 classic ‘Toxicity’.

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Darius Rucker thinks people should forgive Morgan Wallen as he’s “tried to really better himself”

Darius Rucker has urged the country music world to forgive Morgan Wallen after he used a racial slur.

During an appearance on Rolling Stone’s Music Now podcast, the Hootie and the Blowfish vocalist said Wallen has grown since the 2021 incident, in which a video emerged of the country star saying the n-word.

“I think Morgan’s become a better person since that,” Rucker said. “I’ve known Morgan a long time. Since all that happened, Morgan’s tried to really better himself and become a better person and see the world in a much better, better way.”

After footage of him using the slur surfaced, Wallen said he was “embarrassed and sorry”. Responding to TMZ, who first aired the clips, he said: “I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back.

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“There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologise for using the word. I promise to do better.”

Despite having his music withdrawn from radio stations in the US and UK, Wallen is still a dominant force in country music, with ‘Dangerous: The Double Album’ going No. 1 only weeks after the incident. The ‘Last Night’ singer also went on to win 11 categories at the Billboard Music Awards last year.

Controversy has continued to follow Wallen, who was arrested in April for throwing a chair off a rooftop bar. Fox News reported he had been charged with three counts of reckless endangerment and one count of disorderly conduct.

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Rucker also pointed out that Morgan was temporarily suspended from award shows after the video emerged, which he felt was unfair.

“He’s still not out for CMAs [Country Music Awards] and ACMs [Academy of Country Music Awards],” Rucker continued. “They can say what they want, but the fact that Morgan Wallen is not up for Entertainer of the Year and those things is crazy. No one’s selling more tickets than Morgan.”

Tonight (July 4) Wallen is set to headline this year’s BST Hyde Park in London, joined by Riley Green, Ernest and Ella Langley.

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Glastonbury 2024: Fat White Family mock IDLES’ Joe Talbot

Fat White Family’s Lias Saoudi laid into IDLES’ Joe Talbot during a riotous set at Glastonbury‘s Woodsies stage today (June 29).

Saoudi, sporting skin coloured mesh tights, poked fun at IDLES’ set on the Other stage last night (June 28), during which Talbot led a chant of “Fuck the King!” and inadvertently took part in a Banksy-assisted protest.

Before a rendition of ‘I Am Mark E Smith’, Saodui dryly announced: “This is a song about my feminist zeal – it’s called ‘I am Joe Talbot'”, and later acknowledged the chants at IDLES set by saying: “God save the King! Fuck off”.

It’s not the first time the bands have come to blows. Back in April, the Fat White Family frontman accused them of “grandstanding on that woke ticket”.

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In a conversation with The Independent, he said at the time: “I don’t mind bands being dull or whatever, fair enough, but when you’re grandstanding on that woke ticket I just find that anathema to what rock n’ roll really is, which is the reprobates. This is freak country. We don’t bring that kind of thing in here.”

Sleaford Mods‘ Jason Williamson has also previously weighed in, and accused IDLES of “appropriating a working class voice”.

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Saodui again took a swipe following those comments, backing Williamson by saying: “The last thing our increasingly puritanical culture needs right now is a bunch of self neutering middle class boobs telling us to be nice to immigrants; you might call that art, I call it sententious pedantry.”

During IDLES’ set last night, Talbot explained ‘Danny Nedelko’ was “a celebration of the bravery and the hard work of the immigrants who built our country,” and a fake life-raft bearing life jacket wearing dummies worked it’s way through the crowd.

Although it’s now emerged that the migrant boat float was a Banksy piece the band were unaware of, the politically charged tone of their set drew incredibly varied reactions.

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In a four-star review, NME wrote: “[Talbot] repeatedly announces “Viva Palestina!”, incites a crowd to bellow “Fuck the King!” and demands a circle pit so massive it makes “the whole fucking field spin”. He almost gets his wish.”

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