RIP James Ingram 1952 – 2019

News broke today that legendary R&B singer/songwriter James Ingram passed away at the age of 66. My heart goes out to his family, loved ones and fans. I mean this in the sincerest kindness when I say that he reached one of the highest echelons of musicianship, if only by the fact that the world is constantly exposed to his hits in doctor’s offices, lobbies and light radio stations everywhere. Our exposure to his craftsmanship is well deserved – we all know it’s not easy to make hits that last. “Somewhere Out There”, “I Don’t Have the Heart”, “Just Once” and more. We recognize his works, and will for generations to come.

At the time of these song’s releases, I did not really appreciate his efforts or talents beyond anyone else that I heard on the radio. My teen angst just couldn’t handle “Somewhere Out There”. But my exposure and appreciation has grown with time. “I Don’t Have the Heart” is a standard in my current home, and it is my favorite work of his, as well as one of my favorite ballads from the late 20th century. The message, of course, is a twist on the standard break-up song, with the lyrics coming from the point of view of not loving someone. It’s crazy. Musically, I love the slow, sad ballad that bursts into a wailing climax. The song then fades out while still at its highest point, rather than the break it all down wrap up. A beautiful piece of work, and no wonder it stands out among its contemporaries.

I hope we can all take some time to recognize and revisit Mr. Ingram’s contributions to the world. Rest in Peace, Sir.

Algiers’ Noise Crusade

Algiers takes haunting southern gothic blues to a contemporary and awake level. Their sound is innovative in noise and distortion elements, and it has obvious connections to what we have heard and continue to hear from Nick Cave. But it’s just a facet of what this amazing band offers. The industrial elements are clean and striking, and the messages go deeper than old South fantasies and legends. The lyrics, sung by Franklin James Fisher, cry out and rage against our current political and social ills, especially against continued racial prejudices and crimes perpetrated against the Black American community.

Here is an excerpt from an Algiers interview with NPR, concerning their recent single ‘Cleveland”.

“The meaning of this song’s title is twofold: It’s based around a sample of the gospel song ‘Peace be Still’ by Rev James Cleveland, but it’s primarily meant to invoke Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old black boy who was shot and killed by police in Cleveland, Ohio in November 2014.

“I wanted the song to sound like the Final Judgement in the Bible, wherein the wicked are judged and condemned by the righteous with all the ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth,’ of the damned when justice is finally realized. I like how this translates in the ‘solo’ section of the song. It consists of various recordings of people inconsolably crying and weeping, while the guitar and lead vocal mirror their contortions. If you’ve ever witnessed something like that in real life, the sound of a person’s sorrow is equal parts frightening and musical.

“In my spare time, I read a lot of blogs and listen to podcasts about unexplained deaths and missing persons — especially when it concerns corruption within state and legal institutions. The cases of some of the individuals mentioned in the song — Kindra Chapman, Sandra Bland, Andre Jones, Keith Warren, Alfred Wright — are so obviously criminal but they’ve been all overlooked and forgotten except by their loved ones who are still fighting for answers and justice. People need to know about these cases. They’re definitely not isolated and it’s a phenomenon which has been ongoing since the founding of this country.” — Franklin Fisher

Apocalyptic gospel punk. That’s one description I read. This music is powerful. It’s deep emotionally and texturally. We’ll be following up for sure. Please go search for them on Spotify and run through their top 5 songs, then you’ll know.

Here are a few tracks to chew on, the aforementioned ‘Cleveland’ and ‘Walk Like a Panther’. Enjoy!

XOXO Stylee from Tiger Top

Adding a Little ESG to My Diet

I’ve been searching for new music this year, with a focus on diverse representation in caucasion male dominated genres. This entry is part of my journey back in time, to the post-punk, new wave movement of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Despite not having any notable commercial success, ESG maintains a solid place in influencing many acts that emerged from that time, and beyond. Originally comprised of four South Bronx sisters, who are women of color, ESG presents a minimalist tinny dance sound that reminds me of Luscious Jackson, The Slits, and a little bit of Stereolab. I am heartened and excited by their sound – it’s exactly what I crave in music. Yet I’m disheartened by my presumptive notions that their success was stymied by their gender and their skin color. I am pleased to read about how beloved they are by musicians and fans alike. Let’s get to it, you gotta check them out!

This is Moody. Um, yes!

You’re No Good. Yup!

Here’s what is considered the most sampled song ever. It’s called U.F.O, and according to lead vocalist Renee Scroggins, was only recorded because there were a few minutes remaining on the tape whilst recording Moody and You’re No Good. Wow!

I hope y’all dig this. Will post more as I make my discoveries.

XOXO Stylee of Tiger Top

This Great Song from Belle and Sebastian Almost Fell Through My Cracks!

‘Enter Sylvia Plath’ sits among the best songs heard by me in 2018. It’s from the album, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, released in early 2015. I came across it this summer whilst looking for something to listen to as I was making some meatloaf. I’m admittedly lacking in the Belle and Sebastian department, apart from committing If You’re Feeling Sinister and The Boy With the Arab Strap to memory. Short story – I never finished the album once I hit this song, as I just kept hitting repeat. It’s so danceable and uplifting, and so unlike any B&S I’ve ever heard, yet distinctly them. It’s got the potential to finally unseat DYE’s ‘Fantasy’ as my favorite song. Listen up and enjoy!

K-POP in my House

Oh man, I’ve been getting a little distracted with all this K-Pop I’ve been checking out. After watching Chef & My Fridge on Netflix, the episode with Jeongyeon and Tzuyu from TWICE started an eye-opening jaunt down a K-Pop rabbit hole. Two weeks later and I can safely claim that I know more about BTS than any other Gen-Xer! If you want to take a look and listen to what I’ve got going on, here are three dazzling videos for songs that have blown me away. The inspiration is tangible for sure.

Here is TWICE with TT

Yeah, kinda awesome, right? Check out these bad boys, the Bangtan Boys, aka BTS. If anyone needs to know, J-Hope is my favorite. He’s third from the right in the screencap. He also wears the Bugs Bunny sweater…

I know, I know!!! But this next band, EXO, has my FAVORITE track thus far. I don’t know these dudes too well, but the remix of their song Power is everything! Check this out…

Fighting robots, pretty colors! And such sweet synthy goodness. I think I’m gonna be in K-Pop land for quite a while 🙂

Chelsea Lions

I wrote Chelsea Lions after listening to a podcast about WWI, and about neighborhoods of kids that signed up for service and often died together whilst serving in the same regiments. It’s a bit bombastic and comes from the heart.

“And it fills a place in my heart, waiting for the hurricanes to blow / And it fills a place in my heart, waiting for someone to come and save my soul.”