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Cage ‘Social Cues’ sound uncaged

In this Feb 12, 2019 file photo, Meghan Trainor performs onstage during Motown 60: A GRAMMY Celebration at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The pre-taped concert, hosted by Smokey Robinson and Cedric the Entertainer, with an all-star lineup including Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Diana Ross, Trainor and Tori Kelly, airs on April 21, on CBS. (AP)

Beck drops new song

Cage the Elephant, “Social Cues” (RCA)

The new Cage the Elephant album begins with a spacy, otherworldly hum that’s interrupted by some throbbing, insistent knocking. That leads to some machine-gun drumming and, as if a door has been opened, an infectious, high-tempo post-punk glam tune comes on. It’s the sound of Cage the Elephant finally uncaged.

After taking a detour into fuzzy guitars, tambourines and a ‘60s vibe with 2015’s “Tell Me I’m Pretty”, the Kentucky alternative rockers have put out arguably their best collection of songs with “Social Cues”.

The band’s sound seems more genuine, their strut into personal disorder authentic. Singer Matt Shultz punctuates the opening song, “Broken Boy”, with the occasional slurry, cocky “Yeah!” Confidence runs throughout this assured album as if the band has finally found a hard-fought consistency.

Their last album was produced by Dan Auerbach, who seemed to make the band bend toward his sound. “Social Cues” is produced by John Hill, who has let the band explore and play and really just breathe. The music is bouncy and filled with swagger, even as the lyrics reveal trauma.

Broken love is a prominent theme, the product of Shultz’s marriage cracking up and lyrics return to infidelity (“unfaithful friend” and “you sound shifty”). The superb first single, “Ready to Let Go”, brings us into a raw moment when a vacation between lovers breaks apart and the singer is “trying to hide this damage done.” Shultz isn’t angry as much as sorry in the gloomy “What I’m Becoming”, singing “I’m so sorry, honey/For what I’m becoming.”

But the album isn’t completely devoid of hope. “Let the love light guide me home,” Shultz sings on the melancholy “Skin and Bones”. There’s fatigue in “The War Is Over” but he acknowledges there was “love was on both sides.”

The band does veer over the cliff with the overindulgent “Love’s the Only Way” but team up with Beck for the truly terrific, driving “Night Running”. The super title track also is a raw picture of insecurity: “Hide me in the back room/Tell me when it’s over/Don’t know if I can play this part much longer.”

The album ends with “Goodbye”, one of the saddest and most tender breakup songs ever recorded: “I won’t cry/Lord knows how hard we tried,” Shultz sings. His heart may be broken but thanks to this new album, you’ll fall in love all over again with this band.

Also:

LOS ANGELES: Most of Beyonce’s music in “Homecoming: A Film By Beyonce”, which debuted on Netflix early Thursday morning, is from the Coachella performance it documents. But for anyone who sticks around for all two hours and 17 minutes, or fast-forwards right to the end, there’s a nice surprise under the end credits: an apparently brand new cover of “Before I Let Go”, a hit for Frankie Beverly and Maze in 1981.

Perhaps we should say semi-hit: “Before I Let Go” did not make the top 10 on any chart; even in the R&B format, it peaked at No. 13. But it stuck around that Beyonce and Jay-Z were all seen doing “the electric slide” to the oldie at a family gathering, in a video that Tina Knowles Lawson briefly put on her Instagram page and then took down in December 2017.

That wasn’t Beyonce’s first connection to the tune. All the way back in 1997, Destiny’s Child recorded a version of the song that was never released, although it came to be widely bootlegged years later, after the group had broken up.

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LOS ANGELES:  Beck dropped “Saw Lightning”, the first single from his forthcoming album “Hyperspace”. The song is a collaboration with Pharrell Williams, who “contributes drums, keyboards and mumbles,” according to the announcement, while Beck handles acoustic guitar, harmonica and of course lead vocal.

The song is featured in a new ad for Beats by Dr Dre Powerbeats Pro campaign, which is directed by Grammy-winning filmmaker and Donald Glover associate Hiro Murai, who also directed Glover’s film “Guava Island”, which was released over the weekend.

According to the announcement, the album “Hyperspace” will be released “at an as yet undetermined point in the space time continuum.” Okay then!

2019 has been a busy year even by the prolific veteran musician’s standards. (RTRS)

He released the song “Tarantula” from the album “Music Inspired by Roma”; the song “Super Cool” (featuring Robyn & the Lonely Island) from “The Lego Movie 2”, and most recently appeared on Cage the Elephant’s “Night Running”; he’ll be touring with that band this summer in a team-up that recalls his 2002 tour with the Flaming Lips.

“Hyperspace”, Beck’s 14th album, follows 2017’s “Colors”, which won Best Alternative Music Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, and 2014’s “Morning Phase”, which won Grammy Album of the Year. (RTRS)

By Mark Kennedy


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