Inside Music with Melinda Newman
What's behind his chemistry with Haley Reinhart?
When Casey Abrams appeared on “American Idol” in season 10, he was unlike any other contestant the show had seen: Bushy-bearded and thumping on his upright bass, he cast an immediately memorable figure.
In the year since, he’s been hard at work on his post- “Idol” debut. "Casey Abrams," out June 26, is a sunny mix of pop and jazz that feels perfect for a summer day from first single, “Simple Life,” to album closer, “Hit The Road Jack,” a remake of the Ray Charles standard with his “Idol”-mate Haley Reinhart.
Abrams calls from a sweltering New York, while on a promotional tour for the album. Despite the temperature, the 21-year old jokes that he may go out into the city streets and open his guitar case and see what he can earn. “I’ve never actually tried busking before,” he says. But first, he answers our questions about Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery, crafting a pop song, and his best buddy, Rocky.
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Trailer for second album in trilogy reveals pop guitar sound
Green Day’s “Uno,” “Dos,” and “Tres” albums are going to come in rapid succession so it makes sense that we’d get the teasers for the three sets in similar fashion.
Last Thursday, we got the trailer and cover art for “Uno!,” which featured lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong grinning blithely with red Xs over his eyes in front of a green swirling background. Today, we get the teaser and the cover for “Dos!,” which features Mike Dirnt in a similar fashion, though he looks a little frightened. (Can you guess which member will be on the cover of “Tres?” We bet that you can). The three albums will be released two months apart, starting with “Uno!,” which streets on Sept. 25. "Dos!" comes out Nov. 11.
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Pop princess extends her reign to two weeks as Katy Perry flies north
Credit: AP Photo
Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” spends its second week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, as the tune, remarkably, continues to pick up steam.
The song grows 8% in all-format audience, according to Billboard, up to 126 million. It only drops 1% in downloads, registering additional sales of 292,000 this week, on top of its already-sold 3.3 million copies. (Listen to Jepsen's new duet with Owl City, "Good Time," here).
Just as “Maybe” hangs out at No. 1, Goyte’s smash, “Somebody That I Used To Know” holds at No. 2 and Maroon 5’s “Payphone,” featuring Wiz Khalifa remains at No. 3.
As Billboard points out, the trifecta of three new artists capturing the No. 1 spot consecutively--as have fun., Gotye, and Jepsen, has not happened since 1977. One has to go back to 1967 for the last time four new acts followed each other into the Top spot.
No new songs enter the Top 10 as the remaining spots merely rearrange the seats.
Katy Perry sees her hot streak continue as “Wide Awake” soars 9-4. The song is featured in Perry’s upcoming 3-D doc/concert film, “Part of Me,” which opens July 5. Perry’s forward momentum pushes Fun.’s “We Are Young” down one spot to No. 5.
Rounding out the top 10, One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” drops 5-6, Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” falls 6-7, Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been” stays at No. 8, Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones” featuring Sia slips 7-9 and Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” holds at No. 10.
With Bieber’s “Believe” a cinch to enter the Billboard 200 at No. 1 next week, his pre-release campaign of rolling out an iTunes single a week for several weeks seems to have worked: his track “As Long As you Love Me” featuring Big Sean enters the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 21, making it the third consecutive week that a new Bieber track has entered in the Top 40.
Is it too adorable for words?
Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen already owned the first part of the summer with “Call Me Maybe.” With “Good Time,” a new track from Owl City featuring Jepsen, she could claim the second half.
The track, which Adam Young (Owl City’s real name) debuted via SoundCloud today, sounds like “California Gurls Pt. 2.” Not only does Jepsen sound like Katy Perry, the song has the same “Whoa-oh-oh” sing-along-chorus. Just try not to clap or sing along. It’s a shame this didn’t come out a few weeks earlier to totally take advantage of the full summer, but Jepsen’s folks undoubtedly didn’t want it to steal any of “Call Me Maybe’s” thunder...as if anything could.
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Trio promises more of their 'modern throwback' sound
The Band Perry perform at the 2012 CMT Music Awards in Nashville.
Credit: John Shearer/Invision/AP
The Band Perry, who is working with producer Rick Rubin for its sophomore set, will release the first single from the new album in early fall. The album is expected to drop before the end of the year.
The group’s first self-titled album has been certified platinum and spawned several hits, including the trio’s breakthrough hit, “If I Die Young.”
Rubin has proved a “masterful mentor,” Kimberly Perry told Billboard.com, adding that he’d helped calm their sophomore jitters. “Now we’re feeling really, really excited about everything.”
The band, who was nominated for a Grammy for best new artist, is on the road with Brad Paisley but is jumping back into the studio whenever possible this summer. The three siblings are about halfway finished with recording.
Fans can expect an evolution from the first album says Reid Perry. “We call our sound a modern throwback,” he says. “We’ve taken the second album to more of a live feeling; we are a band, and where we’re at right now with this second album feels like a band, which we’re pleased about.”
Kimberly Reid continues, “Our melody has grown up so much, mostly our delivery an the melody that we hear in our heads and in our hearts. Everybody we keep playing the rough mixes for is like, ‘It sounds like you guys are standing on this really cool edge,’ so that’s exciting.”
Most of the material focuses around family, friends, and the experiences the trio has been through in the last few years.
Country superstar sees life through a dark filter
Credit: Columbia Records
“No shoes, no shirt, no problems,” has been Kenny Chesney’s unofficial motto (and title for his seventh album) for much of his career.
Sure, he’s done serious songs, like “Better As A Memory,” but on his new album, “Welcome to the Fishbowl,” love and loss rule the day much more than the beach and beer.
Opening track, the sultry “Come Over,” is a booty call, but, like Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now,” it’s born more out of loneliness than lust. As he sings, “we’re bad for each other, but we ain’t good for anyone else,” an air of resignation and regret sets in.
Whether it’s hitting his mid-40s or other life circumstances, “Fishbowl” finds Chesney looking at life through a filter of longing, whether it be on “El Cerrito Place” or the poignant “To Get To You (55th & 3rd),” where he’s hoping for a second chance.
Hearts are broken by romance on “Fishbowl,” but they are just as likely to be torn apart by broken dreams. On “Sing ‘Em Good My Friend,” a man sells his old guitar, his only worldly possession left, in an effort to raise money for his wife’s medical bills. “We’re all gonna die someday/You won’t remember a single word I’m trying to say/It’s all a grand illusion when you think you’re in control.” On “While He Knows Who I Am,” Chesney sings as a son whose father is dying of Alzheimer’s.
Most of the songs on here are from the perspective of someone who’s been kicked around and grown weary by life. On “Makes Me Wonder,” Chesney contemplates turning a friendship into a love affair, but fear seems to get in the way. As he sings on “To Get To You”: “Love’s become a frightening thing to do.” The album ends with a live version of "You and Tequila," recorded at Red Rocks Amphitheater with Grace Potter. It's not as searing as their studio version from 2010's "Hemingway's Whiskey," but fits in beautifully with the themes on "Welcome to the Fishbowl."
It’s not all dark clouds, however. On “Feel Like A Rock Star” featuring his current tour mate Tim McGraw, life’s a party where the music is always free. On “Time Flies,” the lilting island track pays homage to getting away to the sand and the surf after a heartbreak because “time flies when you’re having rum.” Bring on the Captain Morgan.
For those who like their Chesney with a side of Corona and lime and nothing but a good time, this might not be the album for you. But for anyone who’s been kicked around a little by life and knows what it’s like to wake up with your heart pounding over a lost chance that feels it will never come this way again, welcome to the fishbowl.
New album, 'Living Things,' marks their third collaboration
There came a moment, about six months after Linkin Park began working on “Living Things,” that it felt like it was falling apart. The band held weekly meetings to chart their progress and “it didn’t even feel like we were on the path to making a record. It was a bummer,” recalled Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda.
The group’s rapper/co-songwriter/producer played the new album, out June 26, last night for a small group at Los Angeles’ Sonos Studios. The playback included a multi-media installation programmed to each of the 12 songs on the set.
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Is he still a boy, not yet a man, on new set?
Credit: Island Records
Justin Bieber finds himself at an important, but tricky, intersection with his new studio album, “Believe,” out June 19. Now 18, can Bieber transition from his teen idol status to an artist that transcends that nearly unbreachable hurdle?
It’s unclear on the mixed-bag “Believe,” a 16-track collection that takes a certain scatter shot, cut-and-paste musical approach. It’s like that saying about the weather: if you don’t like it, stick around for five minutes and it will change: If you don’t like it when Bieber delves into electroclash as he does on “All Around the World,” then wait a few minutes and he’ll be imitating his retro soul musical heroes on the Motown-inspired “Die In Your Arms” or taking the listener to church on the title track. “Believe” is an album for those with short-attention-spans, i.e., anyone under 21. In fact, it would be fascinating to see if his fans can even digest the whole set in one sitting. Probably not.
Bieber is in the dream business: he wants to love you and support you and remind you that you’d be nothing “if your heart didn’t dream/if you didn’t believe.” R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” has nothing on Bieber’s positivity. And that’s not meant as a bad thing. In a craven world, Bieber remains overtly non-cynical.
Pivoting around themes that strike a direct bulls-eye into the heart of his tween/teen female fanbase—almost every song is based on love and infatuation, Bieber continues to have A-List rappers on speed dial, all of whom seem only too happy to pair with the Biebs. On this album alone, Ludacris, Drake, Nicki Minaj and Big Sean show up, but they add nothing other than their name value.
Instead, “Believe” is about showcasing Bieber as a singer. He positively croons on sweet, gentle, mid-tempo R&B ballad “Catching Feelings.”
There’s the obvious comparison to be made with the other Justin— Timberlake—who, himself, extremely successfully transitioned from pop star to highly respected artist before pretty much abandoning music to focus on acting and other endeavors. Bieber, while no slouch, doesn’t have Timberlake’s vocal talent but he surpasses Timberlake in the vital ambition department. For anyone who follows Bieber on Twitter, being Bieber is a 24/7 job. No artist has ever tried so hard to stay in constant touch with his millions of fans and let them know how much he appreciates them.
There’s some delicacy here that Bieber dances through beautifully, to his credit. He may have come of age, but many of his fans are much younger, and he wisely knows that indulging in the raunch that even artists only a few years older, like Rihanna, routinely turn to is a one-way trip to Nowheresville at this stage. To that end, the album is G-rated from start to finish, without ever seeming Disney-fied. That is a noteworthy feat in and of itself. Even on “One Love,” in which he declares he wants to “lie down beside you,” he pledges fidelity.
Bieber’s greatest assets are his likability, his musical curiosity and his almost preternatural ability to balance being a regular teen with the pressures and responsibilities that come with being a multi-million dollar enterprise. The only time Bieber ever addresses such conflicts is on closing track “Maria,” a direct response to the woman who accused Bieber of fathering her child last year. The thumper, which sounds like a companion to his hero Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” or “Dirty Diana,” is one of the most interesting musically on the album in part because it’s clear that the incident, understandably, really riled Bieber. There’s a bite to the song that no other material on “Believe” possesses.
For all his rampant popularity (his upcoming tour was a quick sell out) radio has been a little fickle with Bieber. He has yet to score a No. 1 single (contrast that with Rihanna, who has 22 top 10 hits). “Boyfriend” made some headway, but only with a with his label mightily pushing that rock uphill. “Believe” seems to acknowledge that gap between his massive fan base and radio play by containing tunes that would fit right in with current radio playlists, but doesn’t pander to them.
Bieber’s voice is now recognizable, but the problem with “Believe” is too many of the songs sound generic, as if they come from the same music factory pumping out every song on the radio today, except for “Somebody That I Used To Know” or “We Are Young.” Every tune is catchy, but not particularly memorable. There’s nothing on here that comes close to the earworm-ability of “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen (who is now signed to Bieber’s manager’s label). Bieber is great at selling sincerity, emotion and inspiration. Now he just needs to work on getting some great hooks.
September indie fest expands to two days
Refused, M83, Beirut and Sleigh Bells will headline the 9th FYF Fest, to be held Sept. 1-2 at Los Angeles State Historic Park. This indie-music festival expands to two days this year, a first since it moved to its current location four years ago.
Among the other acts on the 75-artist bill are Against Me!, Cursive, Quicksand and Wild Flag.
Tickets for the all-ages festival go on sale June 22 and start at $77 for a weekend pass. The festival, which is put on in conjunction with concert promoter Goldenvoice, runs from noon-midnight.
FYF FEST LINE-UP
Paul Banks (Interpol)
DJ Coco (Primavera Sound)
Father John Misty
I Break Horses
King Khan & the Shrines
Simian Mobile Disco (Live)
The Allah La's
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Soft Pack
The Suicide of Western Culture
Tiger & Woods
'Just Tell Me That You Want Me' out in August
Fleetwood Mac's picture from "Rumours"
MGMT, Best Coast, New Pornographers, Lykke Li and The Kills are among artists contributing to “Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute To Fleetwood Mac.”
Out Aug. 14, via Hear Music/Concord, the 17-track set features indie rockers and Fleetwood Mac contemporaries such as ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons examining the popular group’s catalog.
Some acts, such as Best Coast and Karen Elson, took on more familiar Fleetwood Mac tunes, while others, such as Shudder to Think’s Craig Wedren paired with St. Vincent to dive deeper into the group’s 45-year catalog. A complete track listing is below.
Movie music supervisor Randall Poster and Geyla Robb put together the collection; they were also behind last year’s “Rave On Buddy Holly” compilation that included reinventions of Holly tunes by such artists as Paul McCartney, The Black Keys and Cee Lo Green.
As longtime Fleetwood Mac fans know, former member Bob Welch committed suicide earlier this month. MGMT covers “Future Games,” a tune recorded under his tenure in the group. The current members of Fleetwood Mac—Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and John McVie—are expected to tour again, perhaps this year. The band’s website notes “check back soon for more details on the upcoming tour.” Fleetwood told Billboard last November “we’re all up for touring in the early summer of next year.” That timeframe is clearly not happening, but look for an announcement here once details are firmed.
'Just Tell Me That You Want Me' A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac' Tracklist:
1. "Albatross" - Lee Ranaldo Band Featuring J Mascis (4:16)?
2. "Landslide" - Antony (3:33)?
3. "Before The Beginning" - Trixie Whitley (4:46)?
4. "Oh Well" - Billy Gibbons & Co. (4:45)
5. "Rhiannon" - Best Coast (3:07)
6. "Think About Me" - The New Pornographers (2:56)
7. "Angel" - Marianne Faithfull (4:59)?
8. "Silver Springs" - Lykke Li (4:11)
9. "Gold Dust Woman" - Karen Elson (5:43)?
10. "Storms" - Matt Sweeney And Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (4:46)?
11. "Straight Back" - Washed Out (3:44)?
12. "That's All For Everyone" - Tame Impala (3:43)?
13. "Sisters Of The Moon" - Craig Wedren with St. Vincent (3:45) ?
14. "Dreams" - The Kills (4:46)?
15. "Gypsy" - Gardens & Villa (4:40)?
16. "Tusk" - The Crystal Ark (5:30)
17. "Future Games" - MGMT (9:02)