Featured Music Friday: More Life

Featured Music Friday: More Life

Drake wants you to know that “More Life” is not an album. With it’s staggering 22 tracks – a handful of which do not even feature Drake’s hypnotic-melodic inflection – it is, in fact, a playlist. It’s no secret that Drake (and critics) were disappointed with “Views,” his 2016 album which featured radio hits like “One Dance” and “Hotline Bling.” Despite being a commercial success, the album itself was labeled as lacking in creativity and a cohesive subject (think: tiny, sad Drake sitting atop the CN Tower). So it’s no wonder that the Toronto native wants to steer his artistic expression away from the suffocating effects of a studio album, moving instead into the realm of “playlist,” a buzzword here implying a collection of stand-alone, significant tracks. “More Life” bursts at the seams with it’s deluge of talent: from Kanye on “Glow,” to Sampha’s “4422” and Black Coffee and Jorja on “Get It Together,” the playlist plays host to a world-wide conspiracy to make Drake sound good. And dagnabbit, it worked. For the most successful rapper in the biz with the least amount of street cred, Drake must situate himself close to those that can give him broader appeal. “More Life” is all we’ll get from Drake this year. At the end of closing track, “Do Not Disturb,” Drake announces that he’ll be taking a break from new music until 2018. Until then, I’m sure the Internet will provide us with a surplus of Drake memes in his absence. Featured Music Friday is brought to you by Blackfire Research.

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On this Day in Music History: April 27, 1994

On this Day in Music History: April 27, 1994

Brought to you by Blackfire Research….On this day in 1994, San Francisco‘s historic concert venue, The Fillmore, reopened to the public after years of refurbishments. Originally built in 1912 as a dance hall, The Fillmore was made famous thanks to legendary concert promoter, Bill Graham, who began booking high profile shows there throughout the 1960’s. Pretty soon, the San Francisco venue become a mainstay for the decade’s burgeoning counterculture, playing host to artists such as The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, and Jimi Hendrix. In the early 1980’s under new management, The Fillmore became a punk rock venue called The Elite Club, but several years later, Graham decided to take it back. Unfortunately, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the Bay Area in 1989, severely damaging the building and forcing it to close. Then, in 1991, Graham was killed in a helicopter crash. In honor of his memory, Graham’s family and friends decided to refurbish and retrofit The Fillmore, restoring it to it’s former glory. The Fillmore reopened to the public on April 27, 1994 with a surprise performance by the Smashing Pumpkins.

New on Netflix in May

New on Netflix in May

Enjoying nice weather is so overrated. Who needs a picnic in the park, fresh air, or sunshine when you’ve got hours upon hours of binge-worthy shows to watch? With the return of several Netflix Original fan favorites and a slew of brand new, promising shows and movies, in the month of May, Netflix is certainly testing the limits on how long it’s viewers can go without putting pants on and leaving the house (or at least, putting us all at risk for a severe Vitamin D deficiency). Here are the reasons why we’re canceling all of our plans next month:

On May 5, make sure to check out the Netflix original film, “Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie” starring Jeff Garlin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) as Los Angeles homicide detective, Gene Handsome. This offbeat comedy follows Detective Handsome as he attempts to solve a murder and make sense of his own life’s problems. The film also stars Natasha Lyonne, Amy Sedaris, and Steven Weber.

Also on May 5, Netflix will begin streaming the documentary, “The Mars Generation,” which takes an in-depth look at the future of space exploration, in both the public and private sectors, and the teens who are training at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to be the first to, one day, set foot on Mars. Sounds stellar.

The 1908 novel, “Anne of Green Gables” comes to life in the new series, “Anne,” out May 12. This classic coming-of-age story follows a young, orphaned girl who accidentally gets sent to live with an elderly brother and sister on Prince Edward Island. An outsider and free spirit with a stunning imagination, Anne learns to fight for who she is and what she believes in, transforming the lives of her adopted family, and their community.

On May 19, Kimmy, Titus Andromedon, Lillian, and Jacqueline White are all back “in formation” for season three of the hugely popular, overly optimistic, and immensely hilarious “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” co-created by Tina Fey (“30 Rock”). After being kidnapped and forced to live in an underground cult for 15 years, Kimmy decides to move to New York City and take control of her life once again, which turns out, is easier said than done. Kimmy’s contagious positivity catches on, and those close to her begin to feel the mighty effects of self-worth and a sunny disposition.

 

And finally, after an excruciating delay, Netflix’s, first Original show, and most critically acclaimed, “House of Cards,” returns on May 30. Season Five will pick up right where the show left off, with the aftermath of Tom Hammerschmidt’s article exposing the Underwood’s in the Washington Herald and the terrorist execution of an American hostage. Throughout season four, Frank and Claire Underwood’s relationship showed signs of severe fracturing. Will they continue to re-strengthen their relationship as running mates, or will this be the year Frank’s delicate house of cards finally comes crumbling down? We’ll have to wait and find out.

Featured Music Friday: Heartworms

Featured Music Friday: Heartworms

The Shins frontman, James Mercer, is last man standing. With the ousting of his onstage sidekick, Marty Crandall, Mercer accepts the responsibility of carrying on the band’s indie rock legacy. At the height of their early 00’s popularity, The Shins were everywhere: from car commercials to major motion pictures – their sound was fresh for the new millennium and perfectly tailored for a generation that embraced, with enthusiasm, the iPod and the rise of digital music downloading. Ten years after the release of their most commercially successful album, “Wincing The Night Away,” The Shins still sound pretty much the same. On Heartworms, their latest LP, Mercer’s buoyant intonation is just as delightful as it was a decade ago. The main difference, then, between “Heartworms” and past albums, is content. This time around, Mercer is the only major player, and the album’s lyrics now reflect that of a solo act. In “Name For You,” Mercer sings to his young daughters, while on “Mildenhall,” he recounts his first musical transcendency. Mercer has always been seen as The Captain of The Shins, but now, he’s learning to steer the ship all on his own. Besides more tailored, personalized lyrics on this latest endeavour, you’d never recognize the absence of his former bandmates. Mercer stays the course. Featured Music Friday is brought to you by Blackfire Research.

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On this Day in Music History: April 20, 1959

On this Day in Music History: April 20, 1959

Brought to you by Blackfire Research….On this day in 1959, a thirteen year old Dolly Parton released her first single, “Puppy Love,” with Goldband Records. Dolly and her grandmother endured a 30 hour bus ride from Tennessee to Louisiana so the young, aspiring singer could record the song at the Goldband studio. “Puppy Love,” which was written when Parton was just eleven years old, was commercially unsuccessful, but did provide her with enough confidence to set her on course to becoming a country music sensation. In 1967, Parton released her debut full-length album, “Hello, I’m Dolly.” Soon after, she was invited to be on Porter Wagoner’s television show as a singer and performer, gaining even more country notoriety, eventually signing a record deal with RCA Victor. In 2005, Parton was awarded with The National Medal of Arts, and in 2006, she received the Kennedy Center Honors for her lifetime of contributions to the arts.