By Tom Zillich
1. Lady Gaga is back with “Stupid Love,” the first single from her sixth studio album. The dance-y, feel-good track was released Feb. 28 with an ultra-colourful video shot entirely on an iPhone 11 and directed by Daniel Askill, who had alien-ish dancers roaming around what looks to be way out in Arizona or maybe New Mexico (prove me wrong). “The world rots in conflict,” explains a video intro. “Many tribes battle for dominance. While the Spiritual ones pray and sleep for peace, the Kindness punks fight for Chromatica.” Responded one YouTube commenter: “I’m going to tell my kids this is what they saw when they raided Area 51.” Gaga’s new album, “Chromatica,” is due out April 10 via Interscope Records/Universal Music Canada. And seriously, for her sake, I wonder if the Madonna comparisons will ever end.
2. Bob Marley’s 75th birthday – well, what would have been his birthday – is celebrated with “Bob Marley: Legacy,” a 12-part mini-documentary series that combines interviews with family, friends and fans with original Marley music, remixes and covers. It’s riveting stuff (posted to Youtube.com/bobmarley), and the fun doesn’t stop there, because there’s also a new “Iron Zion Lion” EP out, too. You reggae-heads will also want to check out the animated visual for the 40th anniversary of the classic “Redemption Song, by French artists Octave Marsal and Theo De Gueltzl, who pulled together 2,747 original drawings to capture the song’s message (check it out below). And oh hey, Ziggy Marley & Stephen Marley have also announced they will be performing at Colorado’s cool Red Rocks Amphitheater on May 31.
3. I guess there’s a reissue for everything now, because here comes Bloodhound Gang with a 20th-anniversary “celebration” of the alt-rock band’s breakthrough album, “Hooray for Boobies.” Sure, the slick, Euro-disco hit “The Bad Touch” was fun in 2000, but does the world really need, like, eight remixes of that horny number two decades later? But hold the lube and condoms, what’s this? The reissue will include “The Bad Touch (The Bully Mix)”, a hard rock version of the hit originally released on the 1999 12-inch. It’s not as good as the radio hit, but worth a listen.
4. It’s an election year in the United States (if you care to ponder the promise of post-Trump life for a moment), and even Bon Jovi is getting political. Or so it seems with “Bon Jovi 2020,” his new album due out May 15. It’s the New Jerseyite’s 15th studio LP, and the cover photo finds the star wearing sunglasses reflected with an American flag. The first single, called “Limitless,” seems optimistic enough, in a slightly U2-ish way, and the album “tackles current tough topics such as gun control, veterans’ issues, politics, the meaning of family, and much more,” according to Bon Jovi’s record label, Island Records/Universal Music Canada. And of course there’s a big-ass tour planned, starting in June at the Tacoma Dome in Washington (where I saw Guns ‘n’ Roses rip it up years ago, but that’s another story). If you haven’t heard, most of Bon Jovi’s U.S./Canada concert dates will feature Bryan Adams this time around.
5. Back in high school I tried convincing my garage-band buddies that covering the “Sesame Street” theme song was a good idea, in a power-chord, punk-rock way that screamed the song’s melodic hooks. “Other teens our age will love it!” I argued, but nope, it never happened. Anyhow, PBS stations have plans to air “Sesame Street: 50 Years and Still Sunny,” and there’s that familiar theme song. The 50th-anniversary doc, hosted by Gloria Estefan, promises music, laughter, tears and celebrity appearances to remember the impact of the landmark children’s show.
6. Over at Billboard.com, Gil Kaufman has a fascinating story about Milli Vanilli’s notorious ‘Girl You Know It’s True’ hit song, one that involves a Baltimore-area band whose song they borrowed and lip-synched to success and, ultimately, embarrassment and ridicule. Turns out, the song that become a hit for dancers Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan in 1989 was written and recorded by the hip-hop group Numarx a couple years earlier, and members of the band are still enjoying the royalties and success that came with it. I mean, one of them went on to write and play on landmark albums and singles by Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, and the like. And so, here is Numark’s first-cut version of a song that later became a hit in the hands of Milli Vanilli’s German mastermind, Frank Farian.
7. Reluctant rock star Matthew Good has a new solo album called “Moving Walls,” recorded by Warne Livesey and released in February. “Twenty years ago I’d be dying to tell people what my music sounds like and where it should be slotted in,” Good says in a Warner Music Canada news release. “Not now. I made a piece of art and it’s out there in the world for anyone who chooses to find it.” The album is mostly acoustic and, given his current age, it’s what might be called “adult contemporary,” the good Mr. Good notes. “It’s not a rock record, that’s for sure. But in this day of everyone knowing everything, I really like the idea of people figuring things out for themselves.” The lead single is the propulsive “Sicily,” which features electric guitar by Stuart Cameron (check out the clown-makeup’d Good in video below). Also of note, Good reveals more about his life at the time “Moving Walls” was being made. “During this album, I was living with my mom and dad. I moved here after my divorce. My dad has dementia and now terminal cancer, so I’ve been helping my mom,” he says. “My mom and I basically created a space in the garage. I would work from about 8 at night until 3 am and then on the weekends I had my kids. I hadn’t really settled on any kind of direction for the album. Then I wrote ‘Selling You My Heart’ and it went from there.
8. In the category of All the Good Band Names Are Taken, I present you Car Seat Headrest. The Matador Records foursome plays synth-pop with a slacker, Beck-ish vibe, judging by the flashing-light lyric video for “Can’t Cool Down.” Anyhow, have a listen.
9. Speaking of offbeat band names, Winnetka Bowling League is an alt-rock project led by Matthew Koma. What’s interesting is that the video for the new song “CVS” features his new bride, super hot Hilary Duff, and the guy who officiated their wedding, Christopher Mintz-Plasse – yup, “McLovin” of “Superbad” film fame! The playful video features chyrons detailing CVS’ suggested creative input for allowing the video to be filmed in one of the company stores. “I highly recommend hanging out in a CVS for 16 hours, overnight,” Koma says. “The macadamia nuts are delicious, the regional apparel makes you feel like a local and the fluorescent lights help to address any anxiety surrounding your filter free appearance…sleep chocolates and I’m out until an iced Dunkin’ inflates my happiness.”
10. Finally this month, let me tell you about producer/composer/audio engineer Rick Beato and his super awesome YouTube channel, on which he tackles everything from “How Sampling Changed Modern Drumming” to “What Makes This Song Great?” (dissections of classic tracks). He also goes on epic rants every so often. So, if you’re a musician or just a music fan, check out this dude (who pronounces his name be-AT-o). And hey, because I’m a bass player, I end with this one. See ya in April.
As an entertainment reporter, Tom Zillich has covered the Vancouver-area music scene for close to 30 years.
Tag him @tomzillich.
Check back here at Rock.It Boy Entertainment for Tom’s next Top 10.