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Björk Named One of NPR's "50 Great Voices"

on August 9, 2010 - 12:54pm
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Björk is the latest artist to be chosen for NPR's 50 Great Voices, the weekly series featuring "awe-inspiring voices from around the world and across time." In the segment, titled "Björk: A Celestial Voice," host Guy Raz says of that voice: "There is something celestial about it, as if it comes from another world, a fantastic and colorful and utopian world." The New Yorker's Alex Ross tells NPR: "I cannot think of another voice like it in pop music, in classical music."

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Björk is the latest artist to be chosen for NPR's 50 Great Voices, the weekly series featuring "awe-inspiring voices from around the world and across time." In the segment, titled "Björk: A Celestial Voice," Guy Raz, the weekend host of NPR's All Things Considered, says of that magical voice: "There is something celestial about it, as if it comes from another world, a fantastic and colorful and utopian world."

In an interview with Raz, Björk explains that much of the ethereal elements of her voice can be traced back to Iceland, where she is from, and the unique characteristics of its landscape and people.

For his part, New Yorker music critic Alex Ross tells NPR: "I cannot think of another voice like it in pop music, in classical music. It's instantly recognizable. I think you just hear one or two notes, and you know it's Björk."

Raz goes on to explain: "A voice, a distinctive voice, is like an instrument that can't be invented. Think the gravel of Tom Waits, or the heartbreaking fragility of Billie Holiday. Bjork's voice is also an instrument."

Hear more about this Great Voice and what Björk has to say about it all on the latest 50 Great Voices at npr.org. To pick up a copy of her debut Nonesuch album, 2009's Voltaic: Songs from the Volta Tour, on CD, vinyl, and in a deluxe package with DVD, head to the Nonesuch Store.

Publish date: 
Monday, August 9, 2010 - 10:30
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The Black Keys Offer Home-State Crowd "Most Superlative-Sapping" Set Yet, Says Cleveland Plain Dealer

on July 26, 2010 - 12:47pm
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The Black Keys have kicked off their North American tour, offering the home-state crowd in Cleveland their "most superlative-sapping local performance to date," raves the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Eardrums were ravished. Minds were blown. And when singer-guitarist Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney finally made their exit, sweat-soaked and utterly spent, it was no small wonder that the downtown skyline was still standing." Pat and Dan's fathers appeared on WKSU radio to offer their unique perspective on the band.

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The Black Keys kicked off their summer tour of North America performing as special guests of The Flaming Lips Friday night in upstate New York, and a Saturday set in their home state of Ohio at Cleveland's Nautica Pavilion. The band plays D.A.R. Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, tonight, followed by three sold-out shows in New York City in the coming days: two nights at SummerStage in Central Park and a late-night show at Terminal 5.

"When the Black Keys headlined a sold-out concert Saturday night at Cleveland’s Nautica Pavilion," raves the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "all was right in our little corner of the world." Reviewer John Soeder exclaims: "I’ve never seen this two-headed rock ’n’ roll monster from Akron put on a bad show. Yet this was the most superlative-sapping local performance to date by a band that emerged from a Northeast Ohio basement nearly a decade ago to conquer the world."

He goes on to use just a few of those superlatives to describe the night's events: "Eardrums were ravished. Minds were blown. And when singer-guitarist Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney finally made their exit, sweat-soaked and utterly spent, it was no small wonder that the downtown skyline was still standing."

Read the complete concert review at cleveland.com.

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Soeder recently spoke with Auerbach for a concert preview in the Plain Dealer. "It's official," Soeder begins, "The Black Keys are big-time." The article explores highlights from the band's career, not least their latest Nonesuch release, Brothers, and the heightened acclaim it brought.

"Auerbach sings like an old soul unfettered," says Soeder. "As for his guitar, he doesn't merely play it; he exorcises the instrument, casting forth diabolically catchy riffs and howling solos." As for The Black Keys' other half, Soeder writes, "Carney has been known to decimate his drum kit by any means necessary, including thwacking the cymbals with a tambourine. He pounds the skins harder than anyone you've ever seen, like King Kong throwing a tantrum."

The article also takes a look at the band's Akron roots and how their home town has shaped them and the band they have become.

As Auerbach tells the Plain Dealer: "Akron rubs off more on your subconscious, you know what I mean? It shapes who you are as a person. And you take that wherever you go." 

Read the article at cleveland.com.

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The Cleveland Scene used this evocative description to sum up the night's event: "Hot and sweaty rock: the kind that leaves your hair matted and your knees weak. This is what the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney delivered at the Nautica Pavilion on Saturday." Reviewer Jara Anton said "the Akron duo produced a live show that can only be called extraordinary. The energy was as palpable as the humidity." Read the complete review at clevescene.com.

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And speaking of The Black Keys' Akron roots, Dan Auerbach's father, Chuck Auerbach, and Patrick Carney's father, Jim Carney, appeared on local public radio station WKSU, out of Kent State University, last Friday to talk about their sons, the origins of the band, and the impact the elder Auerbach and Carney men may have had on its success, from the music they listened to at home to the support they offered their sons along their less traditional career choice.

"If you are lucky enough to have a kid who has a passion, you're a fool not to support it and encourage it and guide it," Auerbach advises. "That's what we did, and it doesn't always work out as well as it did for Dan and Pat, but, even if it doesn't work, they'll know that they gave it a shot, and they wouldn't have regrets for the rest of their lives."

You can listen to the interview online now at wksu.org.

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For more information on The Black Keys tour, visit nonesuch.com/on-tour. To pick up a copy of The Black Keys' Brothers, on CD, vinyl, MP3, and the deluxe edition, head to the Nonesuch Store.

Publish date: 
Monday, July 26, 2010 - 12:00
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Laurie Anderson's Performance on "Late Show with David Letterman" Makes "The Daily Beast" Cheat Sheet

on July 15, 2010 - 12:20pm
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Laurie Anderson created an unforgettable four minutes of late-night television when she performed "Only an Expert," from her album Homeland, on Late Night with David Letterman last night, adding new references to the BP oil disaster. At the song's end, Letterman exclaims: "Exactly. That's exactly what I was thinking." The performance is featured on The Daily Beast's Video Cheat Sheet. BlogCritics says: "If there's one CD so far this year that's a must buy—Homeland is it."

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Laurie Anderson created an unforgettable four minutes of late-night television when she performed a revised version of "Only an Expert," from her recently released Nonesuch album, Homeland, on Late Night with David Letterman last night on CBS. As she has in this week's live performances of songs from Homeland in Philadelphia and New York, and will tomorrow night at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, Anderson added references to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico ("Sometimes, when the oil dill breaks, and the oil spills out into the ocean ...") to the song's sardonic chorus, "Only an expert can deal with the problem."

At the song's end, Letterman, on his way to greet the performers, says emphatically: "Exactly. That's exactly what I was thinking."

The complete performance of "Only an Expert" soon made its way onto Gawker ("What the Hell Just Happened on Letterman?") and is featured today on The Daily Beast's Video Cheat Sheet. You can watch the latter at the end of this Nonesuch Journal post.

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BlogCritics, in its review of Homeland, describes Anderson as "everything an artist should be in times like these." Reviewer Richard Marcus concludes:

In an era of mass-produced entertainment, which appears to discourage independent thought, where the antics of those involved in its creation is more important than whatever is actually produced, the fact that Laurie Anderson's work is being made available at all, let alone for mass consumption, is a gift you don't want to take for granted. There is very little this intelligent, beautiful, accessible, and enjoyable being offered these days and you would be doing yourself a great disservice if you don't at least give it a listen. If there's one CD so far this year that's a must buy—Homeland is it.

Read the complete review at blogcritics.org.

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Anderson is the subject of a feature profile in The Awl by Seth Colter Walls titled "Difficult Listening Hour: An Introduction to Laurie Anderson," after a piece from Anderson's seminal piece United States I-IV. Colter Walls discusses his life-long admiration for Anderson's work and the evolution of her career, through her new album, Homeland, which he calls his "third favorite album of 2010 (behind Erykah Badu and Big Boi)." Read the article at theawl.com.

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In the lead-up to Friday's concert at the Birchmere, Anderson will appear on The Kojo Nnamdi Show on member-supported Washington, DC, radio station WAMU this afternoon at 1 PM ET. Listen online here.

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To pick up a copy of Homeland and the 12" vinyl single of "Only an Expert," head to the Nonesuch Store.

Watch The Daily Beast's Video Cheat Sheet clip of Anderson's Late Show appearance here:

Publish date: 
Thursday, July 15, 2010 - 12:00
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Laurie Anderson: "Late Show with David Letterman" on Daily Beast

NPR: John Adams Adds "Richly Textured" Soundtrack to "I Am Love"

on July 9, 2010 - 1:55pm
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The film I Am Love features the music of John Adams, which plays an important role in the "sumptuous, operatic, and swooning" film, says NPR's Fresh Air. Director Luca Guadagnino "suffuses everything with beauty, be it Yorick Le Saux's fluid cinematography, the richly textured music by John Adams or the outfits especially designed for Swinton by Jil Sander and Fendi." Variety features an article about the director's love of Adams's music. The Epoch Times praises the soundtrack as a "collection of some powerful music by an important voice in American music."

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Luca Guadagnino's new film, I Am Love, starring Tilda Swinton, features the music by composer John Adams, which plays an important role in the "sumptuous, operatic, and swooning" film, says critic John Powers in a review on NPR's Fresh Air. Director Guadagnino, says Powers, "suffuses everything with beauty, be it Yorick Le Saux's fluid cinematography, the richly textured music by John Adams or the outfits especially designed for Swinton by Jil Sander and Fendi." Listen to the review at npr.org.

This week's Variety magazine features an article about the story behind the music in I Am Love and how Guadagnino came to include Adams's pieces in his film. The director became "so obsessed with the music of John Adams that he couldn't imagine his family saga ... without the composer's pulsating minimalism." Read more about how the soundtrack came to be at variety.com.

In an article about the soundtrack, the Epoch Times writes that Adams's "compositions aptly underscore the sweeping, operatic style" of the film, noting that, even though all of Adams’s music on the soundtrack was recorded for previous releases, "it fits together seamlessly, sounding almost like a unified suite." Writer Joe Bendel discusses the history and inspiration for some of the pieces, before concluding that "Guadagnino married the music of John Adams to his dynamic visuals so perfectly that it is hard to imagine the film with a different soundtrack," and calls the album "a collection of some powerful music by an important voice in American music." Read the whole article at theepochtimes.com.

Publish date: 
Friday, July 9, 2010 - 01:55
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John Adams: "I Am Love" Soundtrack [cover]

NY Times: Laurie Anderson's "Homeland" May Be Her "Most Frankly Emotional Record"; Featured on NPR's "Weekend Edition"

on June 28, 2010 - 10:43am
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Laurie Anderson's new album, Homeland, was the subject of a feature profile in the Sunday New York Times, which states, "Homeland may be the most frankly emotional record Ms. Anderson has ever made," and on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, which calls her performances "the stuff of legend." Homeland receives four stars from the Financial Times, Metro, Irish Independent, and Irish Times.

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Laurie Anderson's new album, Homeland, was released in the US last week. Over the weekend, the Sunday New York Times featured a profile of Anderson and the album by Times writer Will Hermes, titled "Electronic Expressions in the Service of the Soul." Anderson and her husband, Lou Reed, a co-producer of Homeland, talk with the Times about the challenging task of creating the final album, her first in nearly a decade, from thousands of files she had recorded over the course of the project. Says Hermes: "Homeland may be the most frankly emotional record Ms. Anderson has ever made."

The article also looks at the impact Anderson's work, past and present, has had on other artists, including Antony Hegarty, who contributes vocals to the new album. "As an experimental pop pioneer Ms. Anderson is a model for young musicians," writes Hermes, "even if her themes can set her apart from art-rock’s new school."

"I think most young musicians are shying away from that kind of political, global perspective," Hegarty tells Hermes. "Their songs are like little gardens of the personal. People aren’t engaging in a wider dialogue about what we’re doing, and what our relationship is to this massive system that we’re part of. Laurie has always done that."

Read the complete article at nytimes.com.

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Also this weekend, Anderson and the new album were featured on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. The show looks at Anderson's career, from her breakout success at the top of the UK pop charts with "O Superman," off Big Science, in 1981, to the release of her new album.

"Over the years, Laurie Anderson's stage appearances have become the stuff of legend, combining vocals, violin and electronics with film, video and visuals," says the show's host, Scott Simon. "In her career spanning more than three decades, she's established herself as a composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker and touring musician."

On the program, Anderson discusses the new album, giving further insight into its title; the track "Only an Expert" (which Simon reveals to be "my favorite cut, if I might nominate it as such"); and the appearance on the album (and its cover) of her male alter ego, Fenway Bergamot, who is also featured in a series of videos at nonesuch.com/media.

You can listen to the entire segment, which includes several clips from Homeland, at npr.org.

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In the UK, where Homeland is out today, the Financial Times gives the album four stars and says it packs "considerable power." Reviewer Ludovic Hunter-Tilney says, "Coolly delivered semi-spoken lyrics are interspersed with mournful passages of singing, ritualistic in their beauty on 'Transitory Life,' while the music has a sombre pulse. The exception is 'Only an Expert,' a superb satire on managerialism featuring urgent electronic beats from Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden and distressed guitar feedback played by Reed." Read the complete review at ft.com.

Metro gives the album four stars as well. "Anderson’s cuttingly funny spoken vocals accompany music that is Eastern-inflected and unusually clubby," writes reviewer Arwa Haider. "These are unsettling visions, from 'Only an Expert'’s landscape of warfare and financial crises to 'Another Day In America,' yet they’re also vital and mesmerising; there’s no place like Homeland." Read more at metro.co.uk.

In Ireland, the Irish Times also gives the album four stars."Fusing constituent parts into seamless entities is just one of Anderson's marvellous sleights of hand here," writes reviewer Tony Clayton-Lea. "The really good thing is that Anderson sounds connected, wired in. Often regarded as dispassionate and distanced, here she flows just as elegantly as most of the music, which is equal parts Twin Peaks left-of- field and thoroughly on-the-money electronica." Read more at irishtimes.com.

Another four-star review comes from the Irish Independent. Reviewer John Meagher, too, cites the "haunting" track "Transitory Life," exclaiming: "It's unlike anything else you will hear this year." For any wary readers, Meagher says "it may surprise some how engaging and accessible much of this album is." Read the review at independent.ie.

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Paper magazine asserts that "Anderson has been pushing the envelope since Lady Gaga was in diapers." Reviewer Nik Mercer describes the new album as "a heady mix of throat singing, electronica and spoken word--all garnished with references to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and cameos by Anderson's male alter ego, Fenway Bergamot." Read more at papermag.com.

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To pick up a copy of the Homeland CD/DVD, with instant downloads of high-quality MP3s included at no additional cost, head to the Nonesuch Store.

Publish date: 
Monday, June 28, 2010 - 11:00
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Laurie Anderson: "Homeland" [cover]

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