Happy first weekend of the New Year! Yes, you made it to 2014 including surviving New Year’s Eve and now it’s time to celebrate by braving the cold weather for a little hot music. Since the baby New Year is still so young, many national acts are still on their holiday break leaving the local folks to fill up the rooms, venues and clubs for the next week or so.
If you’re looking for a surefire evening of soulful sounds, jaunty rhythms and charismatic bands, then Musica in Akron opens the year with a popular twofer, tonight. Cleveland Reggae Iron Man Carlos Jones and his P.L.U.S. Band will headline the downtown nightspot along with Little Fish Records label mates and award-winning Akron/Kent soul/pop/rock band Winslow.
Jones hasn’t released any new recordings lately, but he and his band’s knowledge of reggae and ska music is deep, so the setlist is never quite the same twice. They’ll break out classic and/or obscure tunes from roots artists such as Burning Spear and Jimmy Cliff and of course every reggae band on the planet is required to know at least half of the Bob Marley catalog.
Winslow is still working its sophomore album, Left of the Right Direction, which I wrote about last week, and is building its reputation for high-energy shows.
Another local band worth checking out is the Singular which will perform tonight at Wilbert’s Food and Music in Cleveland.
The quintet is led by singer/songwriter/guitarist/singer James Pequignot, who doesn’t write songs about unicorns and puppies. The group’s latest release, Artifacts, was born from a failed summer 2012 Kickstarter campaign to purchase enough equipment to take its time with a new record. With Kickstarter not coming through, the band played a bunch of gigs, saved up some money and bought a modest recording rig and recorded the nine-track album in the home of keyboardist Nichole Catalano-Miller.
The album, described by the band as “an exploration of the hazy nostalgia for youthful purity juxtaposed with the meaning and depth that age layers upon the memories of our childhood,” is a catchy mix of indie rock with a dash of Americana and Pequignot’s emotional vocals and less than sunny lyrics. The catchy AAA radio-ready rocker Electric Chair contains the chorus “Yes I know the world don’t care, If I ever come back from there, I built my own electric chair, And now it’s time to sit for just a while.”
Need a hug, James?
Miley is smarter than us
So remember that one time, when Miley Cyrus “shocked” the pop culture-enslaved world by twerking, playing with a foam finger and slapping the large backside of a random black woman during the MTV Awards? Many folks freaked out taking to the social media calling for apologies, raining down slut-shaming comments and inspiring fellow celebrities to comment yay or nay.
Cyrus lost the cover of Vogue, gained the cover of the desperate-to-remain-relevant Rolling Stone and generally became the hottest topic in the Western world for a few weeks. A few pundits believed the bold move — the latest in her two-year campaign to shake the shackles of the Hanna Montana image — would hurt her career.
Yeah, right. I said at the time that the endgame would ultimately go to Cyrus and indeed the pop star has been named MTV’s artist of the year (surprise!) and Billboard Magazine, still the industry standard, placed Cyrus atop its list of the 20 biggest musical moments. She beat out Beyonce’s surprise album release, Glee fans multiplatform mourning of drug overdosing star Chris Monteith, Justin Timberlake’s big musical comeback and Kanye West’s yearlong rant.
The “Now I’m sexy!” image shift as a shortcut for young female stars (Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Ashley Tisdale) to mature their images doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
I guarantee if Cyrus is still popular in 2018, the then 26-year-old will be exalted to icon status and held up as a paragon of bold, free-spirited, independent young women everywhere. Of course, by that time, the “shocking” bar will be raised, but some ambitious pop ingenue will probably just go ahead and get naked and sing/rap her hot summer song while fireworks shoot out of her and a team of trained chimpanzees sporting Jheri Curls (It’ll be back, baby!) and silver lame Speedos do the 2018 version of twerking in perfect time to the beat.
I leave you with that image.