Media Roundup: Hacienda, Voxtrot, Stevie and more!

What’s been going on in the world of music lately? Read on to get the scoop on your favorite artists, and start some discussion about current music-related events!

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Just announced! The ever prolific Bob Dylan has completed work on his latest album, Together Through Life.  His first studio effort since 2007’s Modern Times is set to be released on April 28th.

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

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Capitol Records President Alan Livingston passed away at 91 years old.  In addition to overseeing the signing of a slew of iconic artists, the influential industry bigwig whelped to ignite the Beatlemania craze of the 1960s.

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If The Libertines or Babyshambles didn’t convince you of Pete Doherty‘s talent, then his first solo release will.  Have a listen for yourself—the forthcoming album, Grace/Wastelands, is streaming on MySpace now!

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New developments in the Phil Spector murder trial may lead to a verdict as early as next week.

Phil Spector and his wall of hairspray

Phil Spector and his groudbreaking Wall of Hairspray

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The feel-good rock and roll of Hacienda is currently being featured in a Daytrotter session.

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Hey shoegazers!  My Bloody Valentine recently announced a handful of rare, upcoming US performances this spring. Also getting ready for the road?  Dinosaur Jr.

My Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine

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Another nail has been hammered into the coffin of major music retailers.  By June, all Virgin Megastores in the US will have closed their doors.

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The Tallest Man on Earth is sure to return to Madison with some fantastic stories since he last opened for Bon Iver in December.  The Swedish singer-songwriter is keeping busy with several solo SXSW performances, including a slot in Roky Erickson‘s Ice Cream Social.  Get tickets for his upcoming Madison gig here!

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

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Voxtrot’s presence on the indie scene has been greatly missed over the last few years, making the band’s unveiling of a new mp3 download all the more exciting!  The evolution of their sound may surprise you.  What are your thoughts on the new tune?

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Check out these great tips on “green gigging.”

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Hear Stevie Wonder at his funkiest!  A hit-packed live setlist from 1974 is now available for your listening pleasure at Aquarium Drunkard.

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Big thanks to blog reader Natalie, who sent us this new video by The Ropes!  She likes its “retro Peter Bjorn and John
vibe”—what do you think?

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(To leave a comment, click on the title of the blog entry and scroll down.)

Stevie Wonder talks Amy Winehouse, Obama, and more

As an addendum to our earlier birthday wishes to Mr. Wonder, Stevie recently held a press conference announcing his European tour. Other than playing a stunning line up of greatest hits to promote his album of same name, he also took time to muse about popular and political culture.

SW called presidential candidate Barack Obama “a combination of Martin Luther King and JFK“, a pretty impossible review to beat. Of Amy Winehouse he said “She reminds me of a young Etta James. ‘Rehab’ is a very good song. The CD [‘Back To Black’] was good, my daughter turned me onto it.” Hopefully we’ll all get to indulge in Amy’s talent for five decades of touring as well.

(Where we are now..the intersection of music, politics, history and culture: From left to right- Stevie Wonder, Barack Obama, Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, Amy Winehouse, Etta James)

Happy Birthday Stevie Wonder

Steveland Morris was born in Saginaw, Michigan on May 13, 1950. He has delivered to us 35 U.S. albums , & 28 major studio releases. The singer/songwriter has scored more than 30 Top Ten Hits, 11 #1 Pop singles, winning 19 Grammys (and a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in ’96) and a host of other awards, including, most recently, Billboard’s 2004 Century Award. (http://www.steviewonder.net/).

Wonder signed with Motown Records as a pre- adolescent at age twelve, and continues to perform and record for the label to this day. A multi-instrumentalist, Wonder plays the piano, synthesizer, talk box, harmonica, congas, drums, bongos, bass guitar, organ, melodica, and clarinet. In his early career, he was best known for his harmonica work, but today he is better known for his keyboard skills.

Factoids:

Born prematurely, he became blind due to the high level of oxygen in his incubator. In 1954 his family moved to Detroit, where he became active in a church choir.

His daughter, Aisha Morris, was the inspiration for his hit single “Isn’t She Lovely.” Aisha Morris is a singer who has toured with her father and accompanied him on recordings, including his 2005 album, A Time 2 Love.

Wonder is an activist for civil rights and championed the effort to make Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday, was a driving force behind 1985’s USA For Africa campaign has (http://www.steviewonder.net/), & has endorsed 2008 United States Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Several artists have acknowledged Wonder’s contributions to music, including opera star Luciano Pavarotti, who once referred to him in a concert as a “great, great musical genius”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevie_Wonder)

A history in video. Enjoy the stroll.

Fingertips Part 2, 1963

Superstition, 1973

If You Really Love Me, 1981

I Just Called To Say I Love You, 1984

Part Time Lover, 1985

For Your Love, 1996

From The Bottom of My Heart, 2004