Take 5 Friday: 'Weird Al' Yankovic + Alex Isley + Kyan + Dorothy + Nikki Jean

Friday, July 18, 2014

Reheating leftovers of the week...

Because I'm Tacky!
Shocking news. We're all pretty dag gum tired of Pharrell's "Happy". Dag yo gumma gumma tired. Don't lie. You are flat-out spent on it like I am, but bless 'Werid Al' Yankovic for twisting hilarious parody and biting wit into his version of my most hated hit song of 2014. "Tacky" is simply a goldmine of amazing right down to its visual. Featuring a star-studded cast (Aisha Tyler! Margaret Cho! Jack Black! Eric Stonestreet! Kristen Schaal!), "Tacky" clicks through a list of unsavory attributes --- you know like sandals with socks, live-tweeting funerals, and those who type their resumes on Comic Sans. It's a celebration of all that is tasteless and fluorescently unashamed, and it (along with Schaal's "hands" tank-top --- where can I buy that?) has oddly made me 'happy' again. Throughout this week, Weird Al has dropped several videos from his Mandatory Fun project, parodying the likes of Lorde, Robin Thicke, and Iggy Azalea, but "Tacky" is by far my favorite of the bunch as I didn't know it would be everything I ever wanted in this life right now. [Watch

Run To The Sun
Speaking of Pharrell....this has been the week of obscure remakes, but Alex Isley just kind of scoffed at that and said: "You know what? I'll take TWO obscure songs and mash them into one franken-song?" Okay, okay. She probably didn't say that verbatim, but that's the conclusion I'm coming to via her latest offering. Never would I thought to have put 702's "I Still Love You" (from their underrated 2003 album, Star) and N.E.R.D.'s "Run To Sun" together, but since Pharrell penned both tracks, it makes a heap of sense. The end product is a glorious and inventive swirl as Ms. Isley puts these two songs on ice and lets them steam up together into a richly seducing slow jam. Satisfying. [Listen]

Voices have been on an upswing this year, especially from the menz. Names that come immediately to mind are Sam Smith, MNEK, Stephen A. Clark. Heck, even Usher (who I rag on a lot), is sounding better and better. I'd like to add Kyan to that list of menz who are slaying the ranges and bringing back some of that good ol' soul croonage as he's been quite consistent since he romanced his way into the fold with "Rosetta" earlier this year. From his recently released, Day In A Triangle EP, "Insert Runaway" is a severely powerful love call that is just immaculate. It has a Seal-esque quality to it as its unflinching and epic in drive, and just allows Kyan's impressive range to soar throughout. He actually tops "Rosetta" with this one. [Listen]

At Midnight (Dorothy Will Lift You Up) 
There's a lot of howlin' and fussin' going on in Dorothy's "After Midnight" but its one hell of a bitch fit. The L.A. band, named after their rebel rousing frontwoman, have got a fantastically greasy barroom stomp on their hands as it squirms into a needling web of wailing guitars and the melodic blues-minded vocals that conjure up the holy ghost of Janis Joplin. As much as soul music got lost in the sauce of the EDM revolution, grungy guitar rock also got plowed over, so it was quite a blast to ride on this coaster and just soak up the adrenaline rush. I suggest you fasten your seatbelts with this one. [Listen]

Summer Summertime
Nikki Jean's 2011 debut, Pennies In A Jar, was an intriguing project as it boasted songwriting icons like Carole King, Jimmy Webb, Lamont Dozier, and even Bob Dylan, but it felt like most people blinked and missed it. Going into "Summertime Girl", I was wondering how Nikki was going to top her debut after she had basked in the glow of such legends. Wonder no more as with the breezy "Summertime Girl" she's slipped into a future soul guise, taking cues from the Rochelle Jordan's and BANKS' of this world, and she charms just as much as ever coasting on a seductive assemblage of pianos, guitar twangs, and light percussion. Expect to hear more from Nikki Jean as an EP is arriving in the Fall. [Listen]

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