James Brown Live at the Apollo and Opinions on New Pornographers & FKA Twigs

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As film audiences Get On Up, Jim and Greg look back at James Brown’s classic album Live at the Apollo.

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Live at the Apollo

Live At the Apollo (1962)

Before he was America’s Godfather of Soul, James Brown was the king of the South’s segregated Chitlin’ Circuit. It took Live at the Apollo - an album recorded over fifty years ago on Brown’s own dime - to catapult him onto the national stage. With the success of the Mick Jagger-produced biopic Get On Up, we decided to revisit our Classic Album Dissection of Brown’s Live at the Apollo with help from music writer RJ Smith. He’s the author of The One: The Life and Music of James Brown. As RJ explains, James Brown was all about the live experience. He knew if radio listeners could just hear his live show, he could be Gary Cooper big. He was right. High-energy numbers like Night Train and Think propelled Brown onto the pop charts and super-charged his career. But, as Greg notes, Live at the Apollo wasn’t just a turning point for Brown personally, it was a turning point for music. Suddenly doo-wop and soul was starting to sound... funky.

Brill Bruisers The New Pornographers

Brill Bruisers

The New Pornographers, a Canadian supergroup composed of folks like AC Newman, Neko Case, Dan Bejar and more, have a new album out called Brill Bruisers. The band, which always relies heavily on melody and hooks, have amped it up even more according to Greg, making this album their most energetic to date. Greg loves the fact that AC Newman shares the spotlight with Dan Bejar and has almost every member leading a song. He says, no doubt, Buy It. Jim agrees. He had been growing tired of The New Pornographers because of all the many offshoot solo albums. But, he found himself really loving the uptempo nature of this album, particularly the keyboards of Blaine Thurier and the singing of the band’s unsung hero: Kathryn Calder. It’s hard to be a vocalist next to Neko Case, but she more than holds her own and helps give this album a Buy It rating from Jim.

LP1 FKA Twigs

LP1

FKA Twigs is the debut album from Tahliah Debrett Barnett, an English singer-songwriter. Barnett started making music at 16, and at 17, she became a well-known backup dancer, appearing in videos by Kylie Minogue, Ed Sheeran, and Taio Cruz. Her first album, LP1, has garnered a great deal of attention from the likes of Pitchfork and The Fader for its mix of avant-garde soundscapes and R&B vocals. Greg thinks this album is a grower, but what it’s growing into is one of his favorites of 2014. He says Buy It. Jim gave the album plenty of time to grow, and it really never kicked in. He calls FKA Twigs a poor Kate Bush imitation and complains about the music’s lack of movement, emotion, soul and energy. Therefore, Jim says Trash It.

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