Wild Belle & Daft Punk Review

Wild Belle’s brother-sister combo brings its brand of reggae-inspired psychedelic pop to the studio. Plus, the robots are back: Jim and Greg review the new album from Daft Punk.

Wild Belle
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Last week over 125 million viewers worldwide watched Emmelie de Forest of Denmark take the top prize in the Eurovision Song Contest. The 58th edition of the televised songfest was held in the home of former contestants Abba. But perhaps more interesting than the pop music, is the geopolitical tensions. For example, Russia claims its entry at the finals was pushed into a fifth place as a consequence of vote-stealing in Azerbaijan, leading to tension between the countries. Germany, too, is unhappy with its showing, blaming the euro zone crisis and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s austerity measures.

Our own pop music contest, American Idol, wrapped up its 12th season and crowned Candice Gloverthe winner. But, while her cover of Lovesong was a highlight, the season itself was a low point for Fox. Ratings dropped 44% from last year, and total viewership plummeted by 7 million. Compared with NBC competitor The Voice, Greg thinks the show has become your grandparents’ American Idol and wonders if anyone will care about poor Candice like they once did Kelly.

At the end of the news Jim and Greg bid farewell to The Doors co-founder Ray Manzarek. The keyboard player died Monday at age 74. And as Greg explains, he was integral to creating the band’s iconic dark, L.A. sound. He brought in elements from his southside Chicago upbringing, as well as his classical and jazz training. You can hear that in The Doors’ famous track Riders on the Storm.

Wild Belle

Last year was a big one for Wild Belle. Built on the brother-sister duo of Elliot and Natalie Bergman, the quintet released a terrific single Keep You, shopped a self-financed/self-produced album and signed a 3-album deal with Columbia Records. You can hear the fruits of their labor as they perform songs from that major label debut, Isles. But if this music thing doesn’t work out, Elliot always has this to fall back on.

Random Access Memories Daft Punk

Random Access Memories

After eight years without a proper studio album, Daft Punk - the DJ duo of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter - is back with Random Access Memories. The robots get an assist on album No. 4 from an impressive roster of live musicians, including disco greats Nile Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder. So what does the biggest act in EDM today think of the dance music boom it’s spawned? Greg says judging by Random Access Memories, the robots aren’t big fans of modern EDM. This album sees Daft Punk connecting with its roots, Greg says, embracing live performance, disco, and jazz-fusion in an attempt to give computer music some soul. There’s no question R.A.M. has major quality control issues, Greg says, but it’s an ambitious album well worth a Try It. Jim agrees. At a time when EDM artists are trying to sound like machines, he applauds Daft Punk’s effort to make machines sound human. And it doesn’t hurt that they give younger EDM fans a history lesson in the bargain. Jim gives Random Access Memories a Try It.

Greg

Ray Manzarek’s death gets Greg thinking about bands that have carried The Doors’ dark L.A. aesthetic into the present day. For his DIJ, he goes with The Warlocks2002 album Phoenix. It wasn’t just The Warlocks’ lyrics that were dark, he says, it was also their music. As many as ten players contributed to the band’s moody, wall-of-sound onstage. The lyrics to Shake the Dope Out could be about drugs, but Greg thinks they could also be referring to the overwhelming feeling of the band’s music.

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