Destiny’s Child

This urban R&B quartet was formed by Beyoncé Knowles (b. 4 September 1981, Houston, Texas, USA), LeToya Luckett (b. 11 March 1981, Houston, Texas, USA), LaTavia Roberson (b. 1 November 1981, Houston, Texas, USA) and Kelly Rowland (b. Kelendria Rowland, 11 February 1981, Atlanta, Georgia, USA). Knowles and Roberson first began singing together when they were only 10 years old. Rowland joined the duo in 1992, with Luckett completing the line-up the following year. The quartet adopted their biblically inspired name from a chapter in the Book Of Isaiah. Knowles’ father became their manager and set about grooming the quartet for success. They gained a strong local following with their street cool image and impressive vocal harmonies, leading to opening slots for big name acts including Immature, SWV and Dru Hill. Signed to Columbia Records in 1997 their breakthrough came when the track “Killing Time” appeared on The Men In Black soundtrack. Their self-titled debut, released in 1998, featured collaborations with leading R&B/hip-hop producers Timbaland, R. Kelly, Wyclef Jean and Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott. The funky “No No No” reached both the US and UK Top 10, and was followed by further hits including “With Me” and “Get On The Bus”, the latter taken from the Why Do Fools Fall In Love? soundtrack.
The quartet’s second album The Writing’s On The Wall was premiered by “Bills, Bills, Bills”, a track which echoed the men-bashing sentiments of TLC’s massive summer hit “No Scrubs”, and even featured the same producer (Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs). The song provided the quartet with their first US chart-topper in July 1999, and also reached the UK Top 10. The album featured a greater creative input from the quartet, although they still relied on a heavyweight production crew including Rodney Jerkins, Missy Elliott, Chad Elliot, and Dwayne Wiggins of Tony! Toni! Toné!. Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams (b. 23 July 1980) joined the group in February 2000 to replace the departing Roberson and Luckett. A month later the quartet topped the US Hot 100 with “Say My Name”. Despite ongoing personnel problems, with Franklin leaving in August, Destiny’s Child enjoyed further transatlantic hits with “Jumpin’, Jumpin'” and “Independent Women Part 1”. The latter, taken from the soundtrack of Charlie’s Angels, topped the US charts for an incredible eleven weeks.

Now firmly established as the group’s leader, Knowles took control of songwriting and production on the ultra-slick and hugely successful Survivor. In 2002, she made her acting debut as Foxxy Cleopatra in Austin Powers In Goldmember, and released the solo single “Work It Out”. Rowland branched out into solo work during the same year, enjoying a massive transatlantic hit with “Dilemma”, a collaboration with rapper Nelly. Knowles, now referred to simply as Beyoncé, enjoyed massive solo hits the following year with “Crazy In Love” and the album Dangerously In Love.

source taken from http://www.mtv.com/

Cyndi Lauper

1953: June 22nd
Cyndi Lauper (full name: Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper Thornton), is born in Brooklyn-New York on June 22nd 1953 (note that a lot of biogaphies are wrong at this purpose: this is the correct date). Her father is named Fred Lauper, her mother Catrine Dominique (present in several videos), her sister Elen Lauper (She is now an accupuncturist in Southern California) and her brother Fred (nicknamed as Butch).
Cyndi took up playing the guitar and writing lyrics at the age of twelve. The first song she learnt to play was “Greensleeves”.

She went to 4 high schools. The one that gave her the honorary high school diploma was Richmond Hill High School in Richmond Hill, NY.

1977
In the mid-seventies she performed as a vocalist with various cover bands in the New York metropolitan area. She sang some songs of Jefferson Airplane, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, and some top 40 covers… The names of the cover bands were “Doc West”, “Flyer”, … In 1977, Cyndi extensively damaged her vocal cords, leaving her virtually voiceless.

1980
After a full year of therapy with voice coach Katie Agestra, Cyndi’s voice was back and soon Cyndi and multi-instrumentalist John Turi formed a new band, ‘Blue Angel’, which released its self-titled debut album in 1980. This album included Maybe He’ll Know and Lauper’s soaring rendition of Gene Pitney’s I’m Gonna Be Strong.

1983
Cyndi Lauper signed with Portrait Records as a solo artist in the spring of 1983. Her first solo album, She’s So Unusual, was released at the end of the year and went on to sell more than 4,5 million copies in the United States alone. Moreover the album was the first of a female artist to score four Top Five singles from a debut album: Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Time After Time, She Bop and All Through The Night.
Recognition soon followed:

American Music Awards for Favorite Female Vocalist Pop/Rock
American Music Awards for Favorite Female Vocalist Video Pop/Rock
a Grammy award for Best New Artist
“Rolling Stone” Best New Artist and Best Female Video Artist
MTV Best Female Video Artist
… and many others

1984
In 1984, Cyndi worked 350 days and neared her 300th concert mark. She performed or promoted her records in 150 cities. But she also found time to sit down and design all the T-shirts sold at her concerts.

1985
In 1985, Cyndi contributed her writing and singing talents to the movie, The Goonies. She provided the Goonies theme song entitled (The Goonies ‘R’) Good Enough. It became a top 10 hit.

1986
In ’86 True Colors was launched, the cast of this album including notables such as Billy Joel, Nile Rodgers, Rick Derringer, Aimee Mann and The Bangles. Cyndi received a Grammy nomination for the single True Colors. Cyndi co-produced this album.

1988
In October 1988, Cyndi travelled to the Soviet Union as one of a group of American songwriters collaborating with Soviet counterparts. The outcome is a great song: Cold Sky found on the album Music Speaks Louder Than Words. Also in 1988, Cyndi made her motion picture debut in the movies, Vibes. She co-starred with Jeff Goldblum and they both played psychics. Even though most fans love this movie, it was panned by the critics.

1989
In 1989, Cyndi recorded the album A Night To Remember of which some songs were re-released on a single in January 1990. She again received a Grammy nomination for the single I Drove All Night.
Hit records, performances during mega-events as The Wall, award-winning videos, sold-out concert tours and very positive media acclaim; the rest, to use Lauper’s expression, is “herstory”.

1990
Cyndi filmed her second movie entitled Off and Running. She met her husband David Thornton on the set.

1991
She got married to actor David Thornton on November 24th 1991 at the Friends Meeting House in New York. Little Richard led the couple in the recitation of their non-traditional vows, and Patti Labelle sang the wedding theme “Come What May”.
Cyndi’s fourth album is Hat Full Of Stars. It’s maybe the most critically acclaimed to date:

The Village Voice said: “Hat Full Of Stars is startingly wonderful. The singing is stellar, the arrangements are happening”.
Rolling Stone gave the album 3 1/2 stars and said: “Her multi- octave voice has never sounded better”.
The New York Times said: “… Her new songs are strong, the new Cyndi Lauper still embraces the old one”.
The Los Angeles Times called Hat Full Of Stars: ” … her most consistently tuneful and ambitious album”.
When talking about this album Cyndi says: “I wanted to make the album I always needed to make. I had to say the things I never could.” In addition to co-producing and co-writing this album, Cyndi is also directing three videos from it, making her one of the few artist/directors in the pop world today.

1994
In 1994, Cyndi released Twelve Deadly Cyns… And Then Some. This album contains a lot of the singles hits. Although this album has been released worldwide in 1994, it is only released in July 1995 in US.

Cyndi also made her first appearance on the sitcom, Mad About You. She was even nominated for an Emmy award, however, she did not win.

1995
Cyndi made her second appearance on the sitcom, Mad About You. Again, she was nominated for an Emmy award. This time, she won.

1996
In 1996, Sisters Of Avalon, the best album so far is released in Japan. For the first time, Cyndi took part in the writing of every song. Jan Pulsford, the keyboardist co-wrote 11 songs. They are now “Sisters Of Avalon”.

1997
The album Sisters Of Avalon is released worldwide.
Cyndi is pregnant with her first child, a boy. She announced it for the first time during ‘Fox After Breakfast’ on April 28th. She said: “I’m in my eleventh week and I know I’m having a football player or model. I feel like this kid should be in college by now, it’s taking so long.”
While pregnant, Cyndi tours in US as special guest of Tina Turner for her “Wildest Dreams” tour for 3 months.
Declyn Wallace Thornton Lauper is born on November 19th 1997.

1998
Cyndi worked on her sitcom which unfortunately won’t never be broadcasted…
Then in October, she released her Christmas album. This album was the last one with Sony.

1999
Cyndi continued to work on her sitcom, appeared twice in Mad About You and did a US Tour as a Cher’s special guest.
Disco Inferno was a hit in the US clubs during summer.
She is still looking for a new label.

Cyndi also filmed a movie, The Opportunists, with Christopher Walken. It was Cyndi’s first dramatic role in a movie.

2000
The Opportunists was released in limited release. Cyndi got good reviews.

2001
Cyndi’s new album, Shine, was supposed to be released by Edel, but the label went under and the 12 track Shine album never saw the light of day… that is, until it was leaked onto the internet.

2002
Once again, Cyndi joined Cher on tour and got excellent reviews. Cyndi also released a 5 track EP containing some of the Shine songs. It was a success. Cyndi also did several in-store signings.

2003
Cyndi hopes to release a full album later in 2003. She is also continuing a solo tour.

source taken from http://www.cyndilauper.com/

Céline Dion

From humble beginnings in a rural French Canadian home town, Céline Dion has risen to international superstardom like a shooting star. Céline has been called the premier contemporary pop vocalist of the Nineties. She has earned music industry accolades from around the world: Grammy Awards in the US, Juno and Felix Awards in Canada, and World Music Awards in Europe. The entire world has seen Céline Dion literally transform herself from a gifted pre-adolescent into an international superstar.
Born in Charlemagne (a small town 30 miles east of Montreal, Quebec, Canada), Céline is the youngest of 14 children of a highly musical family. Her parents, both musicians, operated a small club, and on weekends, the entire family performed and entertained the local population. From the tender age of 5, Céline sang with her siblings and quickly acquired the ability to perform live. At the age of twelve, together with her mother and one of her brothers, Céline composed a French song which would forever alter the course of her life.

The demo tape containing the song was brought to the attention of René Angélil, a well respected personal manager. In January 1981, René was so taken by the voice of the young Céline, that he became determined to make her an internationally known talent – he even mortgaged his house to finance the recording of Céline’s debut album!

Céline began to receive recognition for her talent in 1982, winning the Gold Medal at the Yamaha World Song Festival in Tokyo, along with the coveted Musician’s Award for Top Performer. In 1983, she became the first Canadian ever to receive a Gold Record in France.

The streak of recognition had only just begun.

By 1988, Céline had established a strong name for herself in her native province of Quebec, where she was enjoying superstar status, receiving numerous Felix Awards and racking up platinum albums. That same year, Céline won the prestigious Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin Ireland, where she performed live before a television audience of 600 million viewers throughout Europe, the USSR, the Middle-East, Japan, and Australia.

In September, 1990 Céline released ‘Unison’ – her first English-language album and her first for Sony Music – and scored a breakthrough US hit with the Top 5 single “Where Does My Heart Beat Now”.

Céline’s international breakthrough came when she recorded the title track for the soundtrack to the animated Disney hit movie ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ The song went to number one and garnered an Academy Award and a Grammy Award. “Beauty and the Beast” formed the cornerstone for Céline’s second English language album, called simply ‘Céline Dion.’ That album produced four more hit singles including “Love Can Move Mountains,” “Water From The Moon,” “If You Asked Me To” and “Did You Give Enough Love.” In Canada, the album went six times platinum and set the stage for an incredible streak of Juno Awards.

On December 17, 1994, Céline Dion and René Angélil were married at Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal.

At this time, the Céline juggernaut started rolling at a momentous pace in the UK. British fans took extremely well to “Think Twice,” a ballad on ‘The Colour Of My Love.’ For five consecutive weeks, the song and album stood on top of the respective British charts, an achievement not replicated since 1965 and the heyday of The Beatles. “Think Twice” remained at number one for two more weeks, surpassing the magic million mark to become only the fourth million-selling single ever in the UK by a female artist.

With ‘D’eux,’ Céline achieved what everyone thought was impossible – introduced French music to the upper reaches of the British charts. The world had truly discovered Céline Dion.

Blessed with one of popular music’s great voices, she has crossed all barriers – even that of language – with her electrifying series of international hits. With her breakneck pace of recording, video shoots, touring and appearing on TV shows and awards specials, it seems like Céline has time for little else. Not the case when it comes to an important cause. Céline has used her talents to further the cause of the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In fact, one of Céline’s most emotional songs (“Vole,” from the ‘D’eux’ album, later translated into English as the song “Fly,” which appears on the ‘Falling Into You’ album) is a touching memorial to her niece, Karine, who was taken from her by this disease.

Released in March 1996, ‘Falling Into You’ became the best-selling album released that year; topped the charts in 11 countries, and was voted Album of the Year and Best Pop Album at the 39th annual Grammy Awards ceremony. The album has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.

‘Let’s Talk About Love’ is the follow-up to Céline’s double Grammy Award-winning album. Recorded in London, New York and Los Angeles, ‘Let’s Talk About Love’ features a host of special guests including some of popular music’s greatest vocalists, songwriters, and producers.

‘Let’s Talk About Love’ was released on the same day as the soundtrack of the motion picture ‘Titanic’. Both albums featured the much-loved Titanic movie’s theme song, “My Heart Will Go On,” written by James Horner and produced by James Horner and Walter Afanasieff. “My Heart Will Go On” quickly became the wedding song of choice for Céline’s fans.

In a stunning back-to-back achievement, ‘Let’s Talk About Love’ went on to match the 27 million worldwide sales of its predecessor; ‘Titanic’ also sold over 27 million copies worldwide. It is the all-time best-selling orchestral soundtrack in recording history. Céline sang “My Heart Will Go On” on the worldwide telecast of the 70th Annual Academy Awards, live from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song — the second Oscar for a song sung by Céline Dion, following “Beauty And The Beast.”

A new French album, ‘S’il suffisait d’aimer,’ recorded in February 1998, was officially released worldwide on September 8. The first featured single, “Zola sourit” received rave responses on the radio all over the world. Céline first introduced her fans to the album’s title track during her Let’s Talk About Love World Tour.

Céline’s next album, ‘These Are Special Times,’ featured sixteen songs for the holiday season, including the Christmas pop classics “Blue Christmas” and “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)”; and such traditional religious favorites as “O Holy Night” and “Adeste Fidelis (O Come All Ye Faithful).” In addition, ‘These Are Special Times’ produced the No. 1 single “I’m Your Angel,” Céline’s duet with R. Kelly, who wrote and produced the song; the Diane Warren-penned title track, “These Are Special Times”; and “The Prayer,” a duet with Andrea Bocelli.

Also, in 1998, Dundurn Press released the much anticipated biography: Céline…The Authorized Biography. After travelling with Céline and her entourage for over a year and spending hours in one-on-one conversions with the star, Georges-Hébert Germain recounts the story of one of the world’s best loved vocal artists. Céline and Georges-Hébert Germain later collaborated once again on Céline Dion…My Story, My Dream. Released in 2000, Céline recounts her story in her own words and straight from her heart. The autobiography is an exquisitely detailed portrait of Céline backstage, on the road, and in the recording studio.

‘All The Way…A Decade Of Song’ is a collection of Céline’s greatest hits, including her chart-topping hit singles “The Power Of Love,” “Because You Loved Me,” “I’m Your Angel,” and the Grammy and Academy Award-winning classic “My Heart Will Go On.” Also included are “Beauty And The Beast,” “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”; and “If You Asked Me To.”

Seven brand-new songs, were recorded specifically for this collection, including the title song “All The Way,” a respectful and loving tribute to one of Céline’s all-time favourite singers, the late Frank Sinatra.

On New Year’s Eve 1999, in Montreal, Céline Dion gave her last public performance before beginning a temporary hiatus from show business to enjoy her private life… and improve her golf game!

During Céline’s hiatus, a compilation album, ‘The Collector’s Series…Volume One,’ was released in October 2000. Among Céline’s greatest hits and best-loved recordings, the album also includes “The Power of the Dream” which Céline performed at the opening ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games as well as a Spanish version of “All By Myself.”

But the greatest joy for Céline and René came with the birth of their son René-Charles Angélil, born January 25, 2001 at 1:00 AM, weighing 6 lbs, 8 oz. He was baptized six months later on July 25, 2001, in Montreal’s grand Notre-Dame Basilica.

A new peak in Céline’s spectacular career was reached when she released her new album ‘A New Day Has Come’ in March 2002, which ended her two-year hiatus. The album entered number one in more than 17 countries, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Italy, Norway, United Kingdom, and the United States within two weeks of its debut. It features new tracks that range from pure 21st century pop, “A New Day Has Come” to dramatic ballads “Have You Ever Been In Love” and “I Surrender,” from breathtaking dance music “Sorry For Love” to a pair of pre-rock classics “At Last;” and “Nature Boy.” Other highlights include “I’m Alive,” “Goodbye’s (The Saddest Word),” and “Rain, Tax (It’s Inevitable).”

The release of the album was accompanied by a blitz of TV specials, appearances on talk shows and magazine interviews all over the world.

In March 2003, Céline began a three-year commitment to appear five nights a week at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, a 4000-seat arena designed for her show. A 90-minute event, A New Day… introduces a new form of entertainment, a fusion of song, performance art, theatrical innovation and state-of-the-art technology. The show was created by Dragone Productions, a team led by Franco Dragone, the creative spirit behind ten of the critically acclaimed productions by Cirque du Soleil.

On March 25, to coincide with the opening of A New Day…, Céline released ‘One Heart,’ a brand new album featuring an upbeat cover of Roy Orbison’s classic “I Drove All Night” as its first single. The album also includes songs produced by Ric Wake, Anders Bagge, Kristian Lundin, Peer Astrom, Max Martin, Mark Taylor, Erick Benzi et Humberto Gatica.

On October 14 of the same year, Celine released the much anticipated ‘1 fille & 4 types,’ her first French album in five years. Artistic director Jean-Jacques Goldman, the power behind ‘D’eux’ (1995) and ‘S’il suffisait d’aimer’ (1998), had come up with an idea to surround her with three different writer-composers who have made their mark on the French music scene: Jacques Veneruso, Erick Benzi and master guitarist Gildas Arzel.

The voice of one or other of these incomparable artists accompanies Céline’s performance throughout the album, produced by Benzi and guided by Goldman from start to finish. ‘1 fille & 4 types’ debuted as the top selling in Canada, France and Switzerland in its first week of release. The first single, “Tout l’or des hommes” also made radio history by establishing the record for becoming the highest charting Francophone single on the National CHR Audience chart in the BDS era in Canada.

With each new release, Céline has managed to top her previous successes and, along the way, has become one of the brightest stars in the world of popular music. Who would have imagined that Quebec’s best-kept secret could have conquered the world the way she has?

Looking back now, we should have known it all along.

source taken from http://www.celinedion.com/

Beyonce

Ask Beyonce what she wants people to hear when they listen to Dangerously In Love, her debut solo album, and the multi-platinum-selling pop/urban recording artist answers, “My range. I want them to hear all of the musical influences from hip-hop to rock to jazz, there’s even a Shuggie Otis sample. I want them to really hearthe talent. I know that folks love me as a pop star. Now I want them to understand me as an artist.”
That they will. Musically challenging and lyrically honest, Dangerously In Love is more than just a solo CD from a superstar. It is everything you’d expect from Beyonce and more than you could have hoped for. Another side of someone we’ve loved for years, Dangerously In Love is equally divided between seductive mid-tempos, lush ballads and fiery club bangers, providing a sharp focus on who Beyonce is right now: as a performer, as a woman, and as a creative force to be reckoned with. The vibe is more mature, more playful, more deeply passionate and sexually aggressive. Dangerously In Love is the sound of a grown woman clearly staking her claim in the world and, in the process, redefining expectations of who she is.

A 21-year-old Houston native, Beyonce Knowles is a founding member and chief songwriter of Destiny’s Child, one of the biggest selling female acts of all time. With many of the group’s hit songs co-written and co-produced by Beyonce, Destiny’s Child has sold more than 33 million records worldwide. When Beyonce won the 2001 ASCAP Pop Songwriter Of The Year Award, she became the first African-American woman — and the second woman ever — to receive that honor.

Led by founding members Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Rowland, Destiny’s Child burst on the scene in 1997 with their multi-platinum single, “No, No, No,” from their self-titled album. That success was dwarfed when Destiny’s Child’s The Writing’s On The Wall was released in 1999. The album would go on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide, driven in part by three Top 10 hits: “Jumpin, Jumpin,” “Say My Name” and “Bills, Bills, Bills,” which spent 9 weeks at #1 on the Billboard RandB singles chart.

A year after Michelle Williams joined Destiny’s Child in 2000, the group recorded Survivor, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Survivor was certified double platinum four weeks after its release and has gone on to sell more than nine million copies worldwide. In 2001 Destiny’s Child took home two Grammy awards: Best RandB song (“Say My Name”) and Best RandB performance by a Duo or Group (“Say My Name”). Destiny’s Child has won numerous other awards, among them Billboard Artist of the year, NAACP Image Awards, American Music Awards, Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice and The Sammy Davis Jr. Award for Entertainer of the Year at the Soul Train Awards. The group has toured worldwide and performed at many high profile events including The Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Concert Special and the Concert For New York City.

Given the fact that the general public is so familiar with chart-topping songs such as “Say My Name,” “Independent Woman, Part I” and “Survivor,” it’s fair to enquire how Dangerously In Love differs from a Destiny’s Child project. “Naturally the songs on my album are going to share some similarities,” Beyonce admits. “But this time because I only had to write for myself, my songs are much more personal. I also wanted beats that were harder and to be able to collaborate with other people. Basically this record was a chance for me to grow as a writer and a singer. There are more ballads. The vocals aren’t as precisely produced and because it’s just me, there aren’t as many harmonies. The experience was very liberating and therapeutic. I felt free, because I could go into the studio and talk about whatever I wanted, but in many ways it was actually harder to be on my own creatively. I depend so much on Destiny’s Child (Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams) to tell me if they like something or not. I’m so critical of myself that it’s scary to have to depend on your own instincts.”

Helping Beyonce trust those instincts are an impressive array of musical collaborators, among them Missy Elliot, Jay-Z, Sean Paul, Mark Batson, Mario Winans, D-Roy and Mr. B, OutKast’s Big Boi, Rich Harrison, Fanatic, Scott Storch, and the legendary Luther Vandross on “The Closer I Get To You.” Beyonce shares co-executive producer credits on Dangerously In Love with her father and manager Mathew Knowles. She took an active role in all aspects of the album: from writing and choosing material to producing, mastering and mixing the tracks. Beyonce pays tribute to her father on the hidden bonus track, “Daddy,” which was produced by Beyonce and Mark Batson.

The sexy first single, “Crazy In Love,” featuring Jay-Z, was co-produced by Beyonce and Rich Harrison. Jay-Z returns the favor for Beyonce’s part on his hit “Bonnie and Clyde 03.” With a beat that Beyonce says is “so hard it makes your heart hurt!,” “Crazy In Love” is about that moment when you realize you’re falling into love and looking crazy but you simply don’t care. The abandon continues on “Speechless,” produced by Fanatic. “As soon as I heard the track it inspired me,” she admits. “It’s very sexy, very sensual. The sort of ballad that I’ve never done before. This song is definitely a population increaser!”

Laced with an Arabic ambience, fused with a ghetto-fied edge and encompassing a sample from Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby,” “Naughty Girl” is uptempo and party perfect: a sexy fantasy about having that one night where you lose all your inhibitions, head to theclub and work it like a naughty girl. “Many of the songs on the album examine aspects of relationships, and this is one element.”

Also sexy is the dancehall-Arabic flavored “Baby Boy,” featuring the red hot Sean Paul. “I knew Sean had to be on my album because I love his approach,” she says. “‘Baby Boy’ is another song about a fantasy and it’s one of my favorites.”

Such unabashed and upfront emotions might come as a surprise to long time fans but make no mistake, Dangerously In Love isn’t a rejection of DC’s sound. “I love Destiny’s Child and I am a member of the group, “she asserts. “We haven’t broken up. We’re going to continue to tour and record and be a group. We’ve recorded a song, ‘I Know,’ for “The Fighting Temptations” soundtrack. We all decided a long time back to explore solo projects and I’m the third member of the group to release my own record. Things like working apart keep the fire going and keep the fans eager for you. I’m not trying to get away from DC or the legacy we have. I just wanted to show a different approach and the growth I’ve experienced. ”

That growth is evident in Beyonce’s burgeoning acting career. In 2001 she starred in MTV’s “Carmen.” In 2002 she appeared as Foxy Cleopatra in “Austin Powers in Goldmember.” This year she will co-star with Cuba Gooding Jr. in “The Fighting Temptations.” She has two more features currently in production and can also be seen on the small screen in a series of Spike Lee-directed commercials for Pepsi-Cola. She is also the spokesperson for L’Oreal.

source taken from http://www.beyonceonline.com/

Audioslave

In the spirit of the supergroups of the past, two of the most important bands of the nineties have pooled their talents to create a new band: AUDIOSLAVE. On November 19th, Epic Records will release AUDIOSLAVE’s self-titled debut album featuring former lead singer/guitarist of Soundgarden, Chris Cornell (Vocals) and Rage Against The Machine’s Tim Commerford (Bass), Tom Morello (Guitar), and Brad Wilk (Drums). AUDIOSLAVE was recorded in Los Angeles at Oceanway Studios with producer Rick Rubin. s

Chris Cornell formed Soundgarden in 1985 and over the course of 12 years the group established themselves as one of the most influential rock bands of the nineties selling, over 20 million records worldwide. David Fricke writes in Rolling Stone, “On their ’94 master blast, Superunknown, Soundgarden blew a big, black hole through the burnt-boogie angst of heavy Muzak, managing to sound both fried and alive in the fine thunder-and-color tradition of late-period Led Zeppelin.”

As Soundgarden continued to release critically acclaimed and platinum-selling albums, the music of Rage Against The Machine was bringing a fierce and uncompromising meld of punk-inspired hard rock and politically-charged rap to the mainstream charts. With the release of their self-titled debut in 1992 the face of rock music began to change.

“On the strength of the album,” wrote Timothy White in Billboard, “they must be viewed as one of the most original and virtuosic new rock bands in the nation…Rage Against The Machine generates the most beautifully articulated torrent of hardcore bedlam that one could imagine. And the hopes invested in these humming murals of urban din are equally visionary.” Rage Against The Machine went on to sell 15 million records worldwide.

AUDIOSLAVE contains 14 tracks (see attached tracklisting) including their first single and video “Cochise.” The video for “Cochise” will be directed by Mark Romanek.

The 14 tracks on AUDIOSLAVE are the result of the band’s early time spent in their Los Angeles rehearsal space writing and jamming. During this writing and recording process, rough demos from the album were leaked to the internet. Obviously, these tracks are not representative of the final album as they were rehearsal demos. The members of AUDIOSLAVE look forward to bringing their completed album to the masses this Fall.

source taken from http://www.audioslave.com/

Anastacia

It happens every year. Journalists pour over the recordings that they’ve received as they create their Top 10 albums of the year. Award show voters tick off boxes that represent their favorites and fans scrutinize these selections and spend time talking about their favorites with friends. And sometimes, on that rare occasion, there is that one album that transcends explanation. The music is riveting, infectious or even groundbreaking of course, but the heartfelt and moving sentiments that possess a window to an artist’s soul is what sets it apart. It is clear that journalists, award-show voters and fans alike can feel the sweat, the determination and the passion that must have been exhausted and one wonders if this is the recording. If this is that seminal piece of work that defines an artist and his or her legacy.
In 2000, Anastacia released her debut recording, which exploded throughout Europe and placed her in the industry’s elite. Her 2002 release only served to add to this growing phenomenon and over the course of the past 4 years she has amassed in excess of 10 million in worldwide sales and has won countless international awards. She connected to her audience and quickly earned a reputation as the little one with the big voice. She was loud, tough, brash and in your face, but she was in fact grounded, passionate and true.

In January of 2003, Anastacia confirmed to the world that she had breast cancer and for a brief moment it all stopped. But true to herself and to those around her, she showed that she would not be deterred from doing what she loved. Prior to her surgery, in February 2003, Anastacia appeared on a closed set in New York, for the filming of “Love Is A Crime” for the Chicago Soundtrack and plowed through the 2-day taping even though the strains of illness were showing themselves to all around her. For the months following, Anastacia cried, she laughed, she fought, she sang and&she wrote. She remained true to her words to her fans that “her resolve to fight was strong” and most of all Anastacia lived.

In September 2003, Anastacia entered the studio with Grammy-award winners Glen Ballard, Dallas Austin, and Dave Stewart began what the singer has referred to as a “difficult creative journey.” But out of the music, “sprock music” as Anastacia has affectionately dubbed it (soul, pop, rock), has come her 3rd studio recording – a new chapter of sorts for the singer that has appropriately been titled, ANASTACIA.

While warned by her doctors that she would be physically drained from her treatment Anastacia stood prepared, as feisty as ever, to fight through whatever stood in her way. Reality check. “The experience was not pleasant,” said Anastacia. “I usually look for the bright side of things, but so far nothing about making this record was positive for me. My doctor told me I’d be tired, not stupid,” said Anastacia. “I could not focus on anything. I’d write a verse and then I couldn’t write the chorus or I’d write the chorus but couldn’t write the bridge. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t think straight, I was totally out of it  the doctor’s said I’d be tired – but of course I had insomnia. It was tough.”

Yet, what has come from this nearly 6-month recording process perhaps is far more then anyone could’ve hoped. ANASTACIA is the reality of her life’s experiences and the raw emotion that has accompanied them. A compilation of 12 songs that feature a decidedly fresh sound, a greatly matured songwriter and lyricist and the unforgettable vocal performances that have become Anastacia’s signature. “I wanted to move more towards a rock sound for this record and it really has added so much to this recording,” said the singer. “The feel of the music, the beat, of many of the songs really has offset some of the subject matter of the lyrics.”

It is clear, when listening to ANASTACIA, that each track possesses evidence of the singer’s transition. From a straight-ahead rocker like “Time” to the vocal passion and inventiveness of tracks such as “Left Outside Alone” and “Sick-n-Tired” to the stirring and poignant sincerity of “Heavy On My Heart”, Anastacia’s muse remained throughout the recording of this album and captured a snapshot of her essence.

“I was aware of what I was writing, of what was flowing from my heart and I was aware that people listening might be reading into the subject matter of the songs,” said Anastacia. “I challenged myself both lyrically and melodically to stay true to those feelings and at the same time to use them in a positive way. You see, I need to see life through rose colored glasses and while that view might have been clouded at times while writing some of these songs, I’m hoping that people will see that and feel that in this album.”

But while the process of creating this album might have proven to be Anastacia’s greatest challenge, she has made every attempt to embrace it and to come out the better for the experience. “Art is in fact really wonderful when suffering is involved. There is just no getting around the fact that some of the greatest writers, poets and musicians have done their finest work under stress. I guess that at some point I might feel different, but right now, for me, I’d prefer not to make this a habit. ”

In the end ANASTACIA has bared her soul. It is readily apparent. But she will wait. She will listen. And she will ultimately be most interested in the feedback from her fans. “I made this record for them. To share with them,” said the singer, “and I hope that they embrace it. It’s kind of like letting someone close to you in on a dark secret and hoping that they understand and love you anyway. It lets you know that everything is okay.”

Anastacia may not realize this now, but what has become apparent to this writer is that true artistry is not always easy. That in order to achieve greatness one needs to take some chances and Anastacia has done just that. One would suspect that given some time that Anastacia will come to see ANASTACIA, regardless of the feedback from her fans, as one of her greatest accomplishments. Albums like these are in fact rare. They transcend explanation. The music is riveting, infectious or even groundbreaking, but the consistently heartfelt and moving sentiments that possess a window to an artist’s soul is what sets it apart from all the others.

source taken from http://www.anastacia.com/

Aerosmith

For more than 30 years, Aerosmith has defined American Rock ‘n’ Roll. Just a brief overview of their remarkable career is truly mind-boggling: over 100 million albums sold, countless awards (Grammys, American Music Awards, Billboard Awards, MTV Awards), and a diehard fan-base numbering in the millions worldwide. As the band embarks on yet another world tour to support the group’s 25th release, Honkin’ On Bobo, the members of Aerosmith remain creatively vital, and are the platinum standard for artistic and commercial success in the music business. Through it all they have defeated the odds, silenced their critics and have undeniably withstood the test of time.
It began almost by chance back in 1969, in of all places, Sunapee, New Hampshire. Drummer/singer Steven Tyler, then fronting a New York City band called Chain Reaction, dropped into the local dive, a club called the Barn, to check out The Jam Band featuring guitarist Joe Perry and bassist Tom Hamilton. Steven was blown away; “The energy was just so intense. I looked and it was like Joe Perry was the electric guitar. If I can put that energy together with something that my father gave me, that classical influence, we might have something.” By the next year, the three had joined forces. They recruited Tyler’s old Yonkers buddy, drummer Joey Kramer, and christened the new band “Aerosmith,” though one key slot remained open. Brad Whitford was a talented young guitarist from the Boston area who seemed destined to round out the Aerosmith line-up. “The first time I played with Brad, it just seemed to work.” says Joe Perry. “The chemistry was right.”

Brad climbed aboard, and with the legendary line-up now in place, the quintet soon set to work establishing their reputation for fiery live shows and bad behavior. Sharing an apartment in Boston at 1325 Commonwealth Ave, the band lived and breathed their music. It was a time when the only sure things in life were the threat of eviction and their shared determination to rock the world. But as their reputation grew, it seemed only a matter of time.

Their time came in 1972 in NYC, the night the band played the legendary Max’s Kansas City Club. In the audience that night was the famed record exec Clive Davis himself, who was so impressed with Aerosmith that he signed them to Columbia Records on the spot. Remembers Tyler, “After the show, Clive Davis put his arm around me, gave me a little squeeze and said (as immortalized in the Aerosmith song, “No Surprize”): ‘Steven, you’re gonna be a big star.'” They soon released their debut self-titled album, Aerosmith, and took to the road to spread the word, and spread they did. They toured relentlessly over the next two years, taking time off only to record their follow up LP, Get Your Wings, which went gold. Aerosmith was on the way, it seemed as though nothing could stop them.

1975 saw the band back in the studio working on their watershed album Toys In the Attic. Joe Perry: “When we started to Make Toys In the Attic, our confidence was built up from constant touring.” “Toys” was a breakthrough album for Aerosmith, selling in the millions. According to Tom Hamilton, “We knew this album would launch the band like a missile ¡­ it was an incredible time.” The momentum continued with the 1976 release of Rocks. The band turned a significant creative and commercial corner in this era. The hits came fast and furious: “Last Child,” “Sweet Emotion,” “Back in the Saddle,” “Walk This Way,” plus the surprise re-released smash “Dream On,” an overlooked gem from their first album. Their endless roadwork paid off in platinum and exploded into sold-out pandemonium culminating with massive crowds of over 80,000 at the legendary Texxas Jam ’78, and to a sea of over 350,000 at the famous CAL Jam in 1978. Aerosmith’s status as one of the most popular live acts of the decade was achieved by word of mouth alone, a fact that was hard to swallow for the radio programmers, and the press who had somehow missed the boat on the Aerosmith phenomenon.

It wasn’t long before the intoxicating pace of rock stardom took its toll. The fire that had fueled them began to burn them from within. “We were drug addicts dabbling in music rather than musicians dabbling in drugs,” recalls Joe Perry. As the decade drew to a close, half-hearted albums (1977’s Draw the Line and ’79’s Night In the Ruts), canceled performances, and internal strife dogged the band and began to weaken them at their core. After a final dressing room blowout in July 1979, Joe Perry announced his departure from the group to form The Joe Perry Project. Brad Whitford followed suit shortly thereafter to form Whitford-St. Holmes. The remaining 3 members soldiered on to eke out 1982’s Rock In a Hard Place, but the magic was gone. Says Joey Kramer: “I wish somebody would have smacked us back then. But we were one of the biggest bands in the world. There was literally no one who could tell us anything.” By the early 1980s, Aerosmith was all but over.

Brad Whitford: “People kept coming up to me and saying, “‘When are you guys getting back together?’ I just told them, ‘When Steven and Joe bury the hatchets.'” Remarkably, the ice slowly began to thaw over the next few years, and in 1984, Perry and Whitford rejoined the group, and Aerosmith hit the road for the Back in the Saddle Tour. “We paved the road so to speak,” said Tyler. “So why not get in our cars and drive down it again.” In 1985 they signed a new record deal with Geffen Records and released Done With Mirrors, but things really began to take off in ’86 with a most unusual collaboration. At the suggestion of Def Jam’s Rick Rubin, Aerosmith and the groundbreaking hip-hop band Run DMC “walked their way” into rock ‘n’ roll history by remaking the classic, “Walk This Way.” The experiment was a success, giving rise to a massive hit single and video that redefined MTV, not to mention, putting Aerosmith back on the map for good. The song’s timeless, groovacious, rhythm-driven lyric became the landmark hybrid of rap and rock that has stood the test of time as evidenced most recently by Eminem’s and Dr. Dre’s master mix of “Dream On” into “Sing For The Moment.”

The success of the “Walk This Way” remix with Run DMC sparked the same determination in the band that won them their first fame more than a decade earlier. Refocused, locked and loaded, they released 1987’s Permanent Vacation. It was just the first in a string of chart-topping releases that brought them more fame, success, and accolades than ever before. Their videos tormented the censors and raised the bar for music video excellence and controversy with the hot, edgy “Dude Looks Like a Lady,” “Angel” and “Rag Doll.” Never one to rest on their laurels, Aerosmith answered with 1989’s mega smash Pump, which spawned hits “Love in an Elevator,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “The Other Side,” and “What it Takes.”

Proving that it’s not all about Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ roll, Aerosmith made a statement of unyielding support for America’s First Amendment right for freedom of speech in 1992 when they stood up to defend and restore funding for a sexually explicit art exhibit at the List Visual Arts Center at MIT, whose original support was rescinded by the federal government. That same year, the band participated in campaigns for MTV’s Rock the Vote, including the organization’s groundbreaking massive national TV campaign encouraging America’s youth to vote in the 1992 Presidential election.

The band’s first musical offering of the nineties was the 13 million-selling Get a Grip, again loaded with radio slam dunks: “Livin’ on the Edge,” “Cryin’,” “Eat the Rich,” “Crazy,” “Amazing.” Nine Lives followed in 1997, debuting at #1 on the Billboard charts, and boasted the hit singles “Pink” and “Falling in Love is Hard on the Knees.” Aerosmith’s so-called “second run” proved to be even more spectacular than their first go around in the 70s. Their concert dates sold out, not only North America, but in Japan, Australia, South America and Israel, They closed out the decade with a first in their career: a #1 hit single, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” from the “Armageddon” soundtrack, and rung in the new one with the release of Just Push Play, featuring the hit “Jaded.”

By the time the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, they had already received 2 People’s Choice Awards, 6 Billboard Music Awards, 8 American Music Awards, 23 Boston Music Awards, 12 MTV Video Awards, 4 Grammys, an Academy Award nomination for Best Song, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” as well as being selected as one of the Best Rock Bands by Rolling Stone and Hit Parader magazines. They were then chosen as the first rock band to be honored as MTV Icons.

Since 1972 they have toured so much that they’ve criss-crossed the globe nearly 36 times, almost nonstop, performed at 2 Super Bowls (reaching a combined viewing audience of nearly 2 billion), and turned on millions of fans along the journey. In the meantime they also pioneered the role of rock on the Internet with Aerosmith World 3D chat environment, and in interactive videogames such as Quest for Fame and Revolution X.

So how did a bunch of misfit rockers go from the Barn in Sunapee, New Hampshire, to the stage of the Super Bowl, not once but twice? Perhaps Steven Tyler sums it up best: “We weren’t too ambitious when we started out. We just wanted to be the biggest thing that ever walked the planet, the greatest rock band that ever was. We just wanted everything. We just wanted it all.”

source taken from www.aerosmith.net

Jessica Simpson

Listen to Jessica Simpson’s In This Skin, and you will hear many things: Love. Romance. Sexuality. Sweetness. Maturity. Peace of Mind. Yet chief among the things you will hear is the sound of a woman becoming her own person and staying true to her heart.
Cowritten by Jessica — with contributions from Fran Gold, Damon Elliott and Trina Harmon, and production by Ric Wake and Rob Fusari, In This Skin shines a light on a side of Jessica that she’s never had the opportunity to let free. “I’ve been searching my soul for things I wanted to sing about and things I wanted to say and so I came up with this record, “Jessica explains. “When people listen to this record it will make them happy.”

That’s because the songs on In This Skin reflect the happiness and growth that Jessica has been experiencing. Now married to long time beau Nick Lachey (of 98 Degrees) and firmly in control of her life and creative output, Jessica has reached deep inside to come up with an album that may well be most personal of her career. In This Skin might be Jessica’s third collection but, in terms of emotional honesty and stylistic range, it is, in a real sense, the first album that’s truly her own. That’s because In This Skin marks Jessica’s debut as a songwriter and her lyrical and musical influences fuel the album’s thematic journeys. “I’ve wanted artistic control for a long time but in the past I wasn’t able to get it,” she confesses. “Being in charge of your creative destiny is beautiful for any artist, especially someone like me who wants to sing about positive things and to inspire others. This time I really wanted to make an album that was real and organic and that you could listen to all the way through and maybe be inspired to fall in love or follow your dreams. ”

That sense of liberation is abundant on the album’s first single “Sweetest Sin.” Written by hit maker Diane Warren and produced by Ric Wake, “Sweetest Sin” is unabashedly carnal and, as Jessica notes, a marked change from the giddy teen pop that launched her career. “I’m not dancing around this time,” she laughs. “I’m not wearing that head set mic ever again in my life!”

A celebration of love, her marriage, and making love, “Sweetest Sin” signals a new artistic direction for Jessica. “You’ll definitely know I’m a woman after hearing this song,” she offers. “It’s a deeply sensual song but it’s also romantic and recording it was one of the most natural things I’ve done. It’s so great to be able to sing about things you’re going through because it makes you relate even more to the music which makes that music beautiful.”

In This Skin is filled with both beauty and love, with lyrics drawn from personal experiences and journal entries to create an album resonating with a captivating reality. Just listen to the bittersweet ballad “You Don’t Have To Let Go.” “I wrote that song for my dad,” Jessica says. “It was so hard for him to walk me down the aisle and for him to handle the idea that I was getting married and, in his eyes, leaving. So I wrote this song for him about our relationship and all that he sacrificed for me.”

“Underneath,” an emotional ode to the ups and downs of romantic love, was penned during a turbulent period in Nick and Jessica’s relationship when the pair embarked an ill-fated separation. Jessica cites the love and support of her fans as the motivation behind the album’s title track’s message of determination. Set to a gentle acoustic-laced groove “In This Skin” is, according to Jessica, about “…being comfortable in your own skin, being worthy and feeling beautiful. I wrote in the liner notes that this is for all the fans. I want them to listen to the song and let the lyrics serve as an inspiration.”

Inspiration and spirit have always been crucial to Jessica. From the beginning of her career she has aimed to be more than just some cutie pie teen star: she’s always invested her songs with positive outlooks and lived her life in a manner that stays true to her beliefs.

Jessica Simpson first made her mark in the world of contemporary Christian music. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Jessica was sharing bills with gospel great Kirk Franklin and Ce Ce Winans while still in junior high. Word of the then-teen’s phenomenal voice and stage presence soon filtered out of the Christian circuit and, in the late 90’s, Jessica signed with Columbia Records. Sweet Kisses, her major label debut, was released in 1999 and spawned the smash singles “I Wanna Love You Forever,” “I Think I’m In Love,” and “Where You Are.” Following the release of her debut, Jessica hit the road, wowing audiences worldwide with her soaring emotion-packed vocals and high-energy stage presence. “It was an amazing time for me,” Jessica recalls. “I was 17 and seeing the world, doing what I loved and doing it in a way that felt right.”

The title track to Irresistible, her 2001 follow-up, was a crossover smash, charting on the Hot 100 (#15), the Rhythmic Top 40 (#12), Top 40 Mainstream (#3) and Top 40 Tracks (#5).

Since the release of Irresistible, Jessica’s been working on her acting r?um? In addition to her recurring role on “That 70’s Show,” Jessica can be seen in an episode of UPN’s “The Twilight Zone.” Meanwhile, Jessica and new husband Nick Lachey will share their lives with fans in an upcoming reality TV series on MTV.

But music remained one of Jessica’s truest loves and, when it came time to make In This Skin, she was ready for this vital next stage in her career. “I knew the sort of songs I wanted to sing and write,” she says. “Songs that are uplifting and real.”

With her new album, Jessica Simpson comes into her own as a woman and refines her ever-evolving voice as an artist. Collaborating with a crop of up-and-coming writers and producers, Jessica has created an album that sounds fresh and rings absolutely true. Her message? “It’s about love and confidence and loving where I am in my life.”

source taken from http://www.jessicasimpson.com/

John Mayer

Enthusiasm is contagious and that’s why songwriters with a genuine, obvious passion for their craft can’t help but attract an audience. John Mayer has earned a legion of devoted fans in and around his adopted hometown of Atlanta, where he moved in 1998 after a stint at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. His creative songwriting and warm stage presence establish him as a formidable musical force, and the smoky swagger of his voice at once evokes Sting, Dave Matthews and Jakob Dylan.
Mayer grew up in Connecticut listening to pop radio until, at age 13, he discovered blues music when a neighbor gave him a Stevie Ray Vaughan tape. Mayer picked up a guitar, and within two years he was performing at local blues bars stunning audiences with his mature playing. But he soon realized that the world of guitar virtuosity was not for him.
“There’s this really distracting glory in wanting to be the best guitar player because all that really is, is copying somebody, seeing who can play ‘Sky Is Crying’ better than the next guy,” Mayer says. “I wanted to be listenable and play tunes that other people could play but not the way I play them.”

Mayer dedicated himself to developing his songwriting skills, toning down the guitar pyrotechnics in favor of memorable melodies and distinctive rhythmic textures. At 19 he enrolled at Berklee but realized in a matter of months that he was more interested in playing music than studying it. “It was a great learning experience, but not because of class,” he laughs. A friend from Atlanta convinced him to head south, and Mayer soon became a regular at such Atlanta songwriters’ nightspots as Eddie’s Attic. In 1999 he released Inside Wants Out, an album consisting mostly of solo acoustic renditions of his energetic, earnest songs, as well as several tracks recorded with a full band.

The local press soon discovered Mayer and sang his praises. “This young man knows how to captivate a crowd with his six-string guitar and honest lyrics,” wrote Atlanta CitySearch. The Atlanta Journal Constitution saw all the makings of a star as they described Mayer’s qualities, “sophisticated, accessible folk rock sound dominated by striking acoustic guitar playing, video-ready looks and a sizable grass-roots following born in clubs across the South.”

Mayer’s passion for songwriting is immediately evident. “The very nature of standing in front of a mic with a guitar that’s in tune, the millions of songs that could happen at that moment – I love that!” he says. “The best feeling that I will ever have in my life is just walking, just being, the night that I finish a song.”

In March 2000 Mayer headed to Austin, Texas, to perform at the prestigious South By Southwest music conference and afterwards was courted by several record labels, eventually signing with Aware/Columbia Records. He began recording his major label debut in the fall with producer John Alagia (Dave Matthews Band, Ben Folds Five). The new album, entitled Room For Squares, is a full-band electric effort. Mayer was joined in the studio by bassist David LaBruyere, (who also accompanies him on the road), as well as drummer Nir Zidkiyahu (Genesis, Alana Davis). Mayer recently met with legendary producer Jack Joseph Puig (Eric Clapton, Weezer, The Black Crowes) at Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles. They remixed seven songs, including the single, “No Such Thing.” Also included on the re-released CD is a brand new track which was recorded with producer John Alagia entitled “3 x 5.”

It’s the dedication to his songs that inspires Mayer to keep writing. “When you hear a great song, you trace it back to who the singer is,” he says. “When you can offer people that piece of you, that’s what keeps them listening to you.”

source taken from http://www.vh1.com/

Incubus

Incubus scored a multi-format radio smash and mass success in 2001 with the lilting, sing-along “Drive,” which hit #1 on Modern Rock charts and also landed in the uppermost reaches of the Top 40. But the band’s core fans will be stoked that their new album, A Crow Left Of The Murder, kicks like a mule.

Lead-off track “Megalomaniac” sets the tone for a reaffirmation of the hard-rock thrust that is key to the Incubus sound. After an exquisite build-up of instrumental tension, the song unleashes the kind of riffage that rises from the sea breathing fire and lays waste to Tokyo. This gives way momentarily to a spare verse pulsing with intimations of electronic menace – then singer Brandon Boyd hurls his urgent invective: “Hey megalomaniac, you’re no Jesus/ Yeah, you’re no fucking Elvis/ Wash your hands clean of yourself baby/ And step down, step down, step down.”

The “Megalomaniac” video, shot by acclaimed director Floria Sigismondi, illustrates the cut’s potential for political protest, but the political is impossible to separate from the personal in much of A Crow Left Of The Murder (released Feb. 3) In “Pistola,” another bad-ass outing (and Lollapalooza crowd favorite), Boyd states explicitly: “My pen is a pistola … a patriot’s weapon of choice.” “Talk Shows On Mute,” with its invocation of Orwell’s “1984,” and “Made For T.V. Movie” – which manages to recall both The Beatles and Alice In Chains – simmer with social commentary. But songs like “Agoraphobia” (boasting a huge pop chorus), “Beware! Criminal” and the driving “Leech” are more intimate explorations, more reflections of interpersonal agendas than global ones.

There’s no doubt from the sound and fury of A Crow Left Of The Murder that Boyd – frequently singled out among his generation of rock songwriters as a model of positivity – is pissed off. And it’s not just war and injustice and man’s general inhumanity to man that’s likely got him down. Perhaps the thematic tone of “Priceless” (which finds guitarist Mike Einziger channeling Primus’ Larry LaLonde) and the swinging, hook-heavy indictment of materialism called “Zee Deveel” indicate that Incubus has been in the game long enough to face some measure of disillusionment.

It seems reasonable to assume that in 1991, when Boyd, Einziger, drummer Jose Pasillas and original bassist Dirk Lance (Ben Kenney joined in 2003 upon Lance’s departure) began Incubus as high school sophomores in the San Fernando Valley outpost of Calabasas, they coveted the trappings of rock stardom. But maybe, now that they’ve attained some of these prizes, a heightened awareness of their position – and its treacheries – has begun to bubble up.

After all, Boyd and company have double-platinum plaques for 1999’s Make Yourself, home to the breakthrough, Top 10 hit “Pardon Me,” as well as airplay champs “Stellar” and the aforementioned “Drive,” and 2001’s Morning View, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 and introduced such radio staples as “I Wish You Were Here” (#2) “Warning” (#3) and “Nice To Know You” (#9). And Incubus is one of the very few acts who can claim to have toured with Ozzfest and Family Values but also with Moby’s Area: One, presumably hobnobbing along the way with more than a few admired peers and a handful of boyhood idols. Moreover, the band has managed to remain interesting for more than a decade, praised by critics for rampant experimentation amid all the melodic crowd-pleasing. And yet, the world is still a very fucked-up place, and the people who once seemed to be “keeping it real” just aren’t.

But Incubus has never been a one-note band, and Boyd has never been a one-mood writer. Despite the anger and outrage, a palpable sense of catharsis and even triumph pervades A Crow Left Of The Murder – “Yeah, I’m down, but not out/ And far from done,” Boyd promises on “Beware! Criminal.” Nor is the disc without its spiritual musing and tender moments. The title track gallops along an adventurous aural pathway espousing a Zen-like embrace of experience for experience’s sake; “Here In My Room” is a lovely, hushed ballad, with Boyd confiding: “If the world were to fall apart/ In a fiction-worthy wind/ I wouldn’t change a thing/ Now that you’re here/ Love is a verb/ Here in my room”; “Smile Lines” finds him so crushed out he swears, “High school never ends”; and “Southern Girl” transmits the abandon of new love, the singer telling the object of his affection, “Look no further/ I am yours.”

As a singer, Boyd reaches heretofore unimagined heights of vocal dexterity on A Crow Left Of The Murder. His signature syncopated phrasing remains intact – clearly, the heart of a beat poet beats in the heart of Brandon Boyd – but he has jettisoned some of his talk-singing for pure falsetto flight, deftly punctuating his delivery with these disarming departures. Bassist Ben Kenney, who during his many years with The Roots longed to rock, also opens it up on Crow. The thunder of “Megalomaniac,” in particular, bears his stamp, as do (among others) “Pistola,” “Smile Lines” and the epic thrash-o-rama “Sick, Sad Little World,” wherein Einziger also waxes virtuosic, conjuring Hendrix in a lengthy, satisfying solo.

That jam is emblematic of the fearless creative energy, uncanny sense of dynamics and high-wire eclecticism that Incubus pumps into all 58-odd minutes of A Crow Left Of The Murder: There’s a dub breakdown; a bit of wah-wah guitar played through a Leslie speaker cabinet; a jungle interlude where the snare and high-hat groove like Memphis; some intricate, jazzy drumming – finessed, mind you, while Pasillas is preventing the whole thing from spinning out of control – and then Einziger’s fabulously freaky guitar workout.

Harnessing this unbridled artistry was producer Brendan O’Brien, who pushed Incubus’ fondness for unearthly washes of distortion – not to mention beeps, whirs, squidges and other assorted robot noises – to 11. Which isn’t to say that Crow sounds like it was made by robots; it sounds like it was recorded in the factory where they make the robots, though the swooping cello part on “Here In My Room” orchestrated by Incubus cohort Suzy Katayama tempers this a bit, along with the organic accents like tambourine and handclaps heard throughout the record.

This tapestry of texture is perforated by a seemingly endless array of surging guitar theatrics, explosive drumming, beefy basslines, sturdy collaborative songcraft and Boyd’s consistently insistent vocal performances. It’s Incubus, only more so. Some may view the intensity of A Crow Left Of The Murder – exemplified by the Top 10 “Megalomaniac” – as a sonic response to the mellow vibe of “Drive.” Others may consider the band’s renewed ferocity a reaction to the mixed bag of stardom. But Incubus’ many rabid fans won’t give a shit; they’ll just be happy their heroes are still cranking out the post-modern head-bangers that made them rabid fans in the first place.

source taken from http://www.incubus.com/