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The Charlatans
Thursday 11/12
The Charlatans @ The Howard Theatre
$29.50 / $35
Modern Nature was the eighth Charlatans album to enter the British top ten, hitting number seven in the week of release. All four singles from the record, 'Talking In Tones', 'So Oh', 'Come Home Baby', 'Let The Good Times Be Never Ending' were A-listed at BBC 6Music and featured on playlists at Radio 2, XFM and Absolute Radio. In October 2014, the Charlatans were given a lifetime achievement award by Q magazine, the icing on the cake after journalists wrote glowing reviews of Modern Nature across the UK and international press. Reflecting on the past twelve months and the long process that brought The Charlatans to this point, Burgess says that though the band were confident that they'd made one of the best records of their career, "until something happens you never really know. But it's gone as well as we could have hoped." It's not like they had an easy ride, however. The shadow of the death of their dear friend and drummer Jon Brookes after a long battle with brain cancer in August 2013, hung over Burgess, Mark Collins, Martin Blunt and Tony Rogers. Modern Nature was all about doing right with by memory. "Jon was adamant that there was going to be another Charlatans record, and you have to put that into your own thoughts," says Rogers. Looking back now, Burgess says that Modern Nature has "transcended being an album about death, about a tragedy. It's gone beyond that now, which is everything that Jon could have hoped for. He wouldn't have wanted it to be about something as final as death." What Modern Nature is about is soul. Collins says that "There was a soulful element that we all agreed on. Martin in particular wanted to make a soulful record. It's quite a big word isn't it, soul?" Burgess agrees that it was a difficult challenge for the band to set themselves. "What is a soulful record? It's all the fibres of everybody's being. It's not a cliché and there are no obvious reference points. It's just everyone's spirit." As well as Blunt's determination that the group record a soul album, Burgess was keen to try and capture some of the fire that first bound them together nearly three decades ago - not to go backwards, but to inspire them to create a fierce new energy: "we put everything into it. Everything that we did was something new. I was really inspired by our first record, because then we were doing everything for the first time and there were no reference points." United in Big Mushroom with Jim Spencer at the controls, The Charlatans were determined to make a positive, upbeat record. "We were aching for the summer when we wrote it" says Burgess. "It was freezing and we were trying to write songs that made us happy. " Music that the band were listening to in the studio and their sitting room, a huge space wallpapered with photographs of mountain scenes, included Arthur Russell's Let's Go Swimming, Brazilian funk, Northern Soul, William Onyeabor, Serge Gainsbourg with Jean Claude Vannier "weird, electronic, Moog-sounding things", Curtis Mayfield and "a lot of stuff with decent basslines. We were all dancing to Maxine Brown, 'Right Back Where It Started From'". The band all agree that despite the "big negative" of their loss, the aim was always to try and transcend tragedy while remembering their old friend. Jon Brookes is given songwriting credits on the album, and his drums remained where they were in the studio, tuned exactly as he left them. Blunt is quick to credit Brookes for his input in the direction the band were taking from 2001 album, Wonderland. "Jon did start bringing in loops and things, trying to be that Man Machine." The three temporary Charlatans drummers - Pete Salisbury of The Verve, Stephen Morris of New Order and Gabriel Gurnsey of DFA's avant-disco group Factory Floor - had to turn up and record parts based on drum machine loops on Brookes' kit. "Gabe reckons he got a slap," says Mark. "Halfway through a take he stopped drumming because he felt a smack on the back of his head. Nobody is saying we believe in things from the other side, but...." The result is The Charlatans' most confident, effortless, light album for years. Mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Portishead), its title comes from the avant-garde filmmaker Derek Jarman's diary collection, a copy of which fell on Burgess' head as he worked on solo material with psychedelic electronic folk group Grumbling Fur. First out of the traps is Talking In Tones, to come out as a limited edition 7" via The Quietus website's record label, which launched the career of East India Youth and earlier this year released Grumbling Fur's critically acclaimed third album. It builds out of wheezing, popping rhythms into a graceful, understated and strange pop song about telepathy in relationships, the title for which came to Burgess after a walk through the streets of London. In Modern Nature, The Charlatans have achieved that rare feat of making a gigantic step forward without losing what made them so special in the first place... and they're still looking toward the future too. Tim Burgess says that they're already itching to get started on a follow-up to Modern Nature: "The idea is to go and make another record quite quickly. It'd be great to do one while the feeling is so good," he says. And, as Tony Rogers promises: "the best is yet to come".
Aaron Camper & Black Alley w/ DJ J Tyler
Thursday 09/10
Aaron Camper & Black Alley w/ DJ J Tyler @ The Howard Theatre
$15 / $20
Aaron Camper Charismatic, stylish, and one of a kind, singer/songwriter Aaron Camper is traveling the world and capturing the hearts of fans along the way. You can hear Camper’s sultry voice all over the spectrum from sharing the stage with major acts like Justin Timberlake and Chris Brown to the opening theme music for The Queen Latifah Show. As a writer, Camper has worked with a myriad of artists like Jill Scott, David Guetta, Diddy Dirty Money and Eric Roberson to name a few. His work has landed on GRAMMY-nominated projects and given him opportunities young artists dream of. But it’s his solo artistry that sets him apart from the rest. Camper teamed up with BASSic Black Entertainment (BBE) to release his 2011 mixtape “Welcome to My World,” which received attention from both fans and the industry alike. Since then, he has yielded singles like “Madness” and the PJ Morton penned “My Heart” that have gained major traction and buzz on the blogs. As he puts the finishing touches on his upcoming, LP, Aaron has continued to travel and perform. A seasoned performer well beyond his years, something special happens when he takes the stage. From his original songs to his eclectic take on covers, it’s evident from his first note that you’re in for something real. “Nothing contrived, just infectious, raw, energetic, good music,” Aaron explained in a recent interview. The makings of a big star from a small town, Camper grew up in Salisbury, MD. The soulful singer is the son of a preacher and has been around music all his life. Evident in his ability to not only sing and write, but to also play guitar and drums. It was the influence of artists like The Winans, Phil Collins, Al Green, and many others that sent Camper on the path to become such a dynamic, well-rounded artist and performer. A fly on the wall of historic studios like Larry Gold’s in Philadelphia to singing background with Tye Tribbett, one of gospel’s biggest stars, Camper worked his way up. He paid dues where he could and the culmination of his hard work is coming full circle. The new music will take fans deeper into his world. Exploring, creating, and trusting his musical instincts, Camper is more ready than he’s ever been to shake up the musical landscape of the industry. Black Alley BLACK ALLEY has been pushing the art of music to its rhythmic limits for some time now. Determined to create a unique musical elixir, BLACK ALLEY has taken the finest ingredients of funk, hip-hop, soul and rock to create their own genre-bending sound called “Hood Rock”. The band is one, each musician surrendering to the union of sounds, each delivering music from their soul, while in dialogue with one another through their instruments. Each member of this collective is essential to the workability and funkability of the unit, which is BLACK ALLEY. BLACK ALLEY is one of the most followed, trendsetting and sought-after music groups hailing from the nation's capital. With endorsements from national recording artists such as Grammy Award nominee Raheem DeVaughn, Hip Hop standouts Common, Big KRIT & Wale, and legendary musicians Doug E. Fresh and Sheila E, Black Alley is untouchable, striving to rock harder and heavier each time they unite and contribute to the greater good of music.
Big Daddy Kane & Rakim
Thursday 10/08
Big Daddy Kane & Rakim @ The Howard Theatre
$29.50 / $35
Big Daddy Kane On September 10th, 1968, Bed Stuy, Brooklyn gave birth to one of hip hop's most lyrical, diverse, innovative, and trendsetting MCs. He is known by many attributes - Dark Gable, Black Caesar, and King Asiatic Nobody's Equal - but he is known to the world as Big Daddy Kane. This baritone-voiced, stylishly dressed MC was the first one to bring the "playa" element to hip hop, and along with Bobby Brown and Michael Jordan, he put dark skin back on the map. Kane was the first rapper to ever hold not one, but two sold-out shows at the world-famous Apollo Theater for women only. In the words of the late Big Pun, Kane is "not only a playa, he just crush a lot" - a reference to his rapid-fire, metaphoric battle rap style. Kane's influences are Muhammed Ali, Marvin Gaye, and his rap hero Grand Master Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers, but once dancers Scoob Lover and Scrap Lover join him on the stage, you can clearly see the James Brown and the Famous Flames influences as well. With several Gold albums to his credit, Kane has enjoyed a long career, including the releases Long Live The Kane ("Ain't No Half Steppin'" and "Raw"), It's A Big Daddy Thing ("Smooth Operator," "Warm It Up, Kane," and "I Get The Job Done"), and Taste Of Chocolate ("Hard Being The Kane" and "All Of Me," a duet with the late legendary Barry White). As a powerful figure in the rap game, he has also collaborated with many artists, including Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Heavy D, Patti LaBelle, and Quincy Jones. All of these accomplishments combine with a Grammy Award to make Kane a true hip hop legend. Rakim In 1986, Rakim started to work with New York-based producer-DJ Eric B. The duo—known as Eric B & Rakim—is widely regarded as among the most influential and groundbreaking of hip-hop groups, due in no small part to Rakim's technical abilities. The duo’s first single, "Eric B. Is President" was a success and got the duo a contract with the fledgling Island Records sub-label 4th & B'way. The duo’s next single, the smash “I Know You Got Soul,” sparked early debate on the legality of unauthorized, uncredited sampling when James Brown sued to prevent the duo's use of a fragment of his music. It also established Brown's back catalog as a hip musical mining ground for a new generation of hip-hop programmers. Their first full album, Paid In Full, was released in 1987. causing a stir in the hip-hop music world due to its novel sound, approach, and subject matter. Rakim pioneered a practice previously unknown to hip-hop called internal rhyming. Already an important aspect of traditional poetry, where rhymes could be found throughout the bar of a lyric which added to the rhythmic complexity of the song: "I keep the mic at Fahrenheit, freeze MCs, make 'em colder/The listeners system is kicking like solar/As I memorize, advertise like a poet/Keep it goin', when I'm flowin' smooth enough, you know it's rough." Instead of two rhyming syllables within two lines at the end of the lines, as we would find in the older hip-hop style displayed above, we have 18 rhyming syllables in just four lines. Rakim also introduced a lyrical technique known as cliffhanging and popularized the use of metaphors with multiple meanings. His songs were the first to really impart hip-hop music lyrics with a serious poetic device sensibility. Eric B & Rakim went on to produce three more successful albums, all now considered hip hop standards. Prior to Rakim, hip-hop music lyricism was usually rather simple from a structural standpoint and the ideas it expressed were easy and direct. Many hip-hop artists (both underground and mainstream) acknowledge a huge debt to Rakim's innovative style. He is given credit for popularizing the heavy use of internal rhymes in hip-hop—rhymes that are not necessary to the overall rhyme scheme of the verse, but occur between the endpoints of lines and stanzas, serving to increase the alliteration, assonance, and emphasis of the rhyme. He is also credited for the jazzy, heavily stylistic, seemingly effortless delivery of his lyrical content.