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Thursday , January 23 2020

Gordon delivers literary brilliance

DJ Khaled drops ‘No Brainer’ video

Kevin Gordon, “Tilt & Shine” (Crowville Media)

It’s no longer necessary to think of Kevin Gordon as an undiscovered gem now that he’s been written up in the New York Times and Rolling Stone.

Still, it’s fair to say he’s been delivering earthy, literary music for years without breaking past the need to crowd-source his records or hawk them from the stage of some East Nashville nightclub.

On his latest record, “Tilt & Shine,” Gordon delivers another album that comes as close to sonic poetry as anything from any musician who hasn’t already won a Nobel Prize for literature.

A native of Monroe, Louisiana who earned a master’s in fine arts from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop before settling in Nashville, Gordon matches edgy music to gritty, vivid lyrics. He scratches out his sound on a 1956 Gibson ES-125, tuned to low, open D for a visceral, electric blues-based vibe. Then he carries you off to musky motel rooms and prison rodeos and anywhere else he wants to take you.

“Every river’s a daughter of a dirty rain,” Gordon sings on “Saint on a Chain,” a brilliant meditation on religion. “See how it shines, how it shines.”

Not much of what Gordon does is a contender for commercial country radio, maybe because it rocks too much. It’s less clear why music this powerful hasn’t broken through on rock stations, but that might explain the crowd-sourcing.

Wherever it surfaces, it’s mesmerizing enough to give people who hear it the sense that they’re in on a secret.

See how it shines, indeed.

Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear, “The Radio Winners” (Glassnote)

Sure, the idea of a mother-and-son musical duo is adorable enough for you to want to check out their music or attend their live show. But what’s even better? The music is good. Like, really good. “The Radio Winners,” the new EP from Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear, is an exceptional six-song set featuring beautiful storytelling and piercing lyrics woven into folk, rock, roots and acoustic sounds.

The Kansas City-based duo made up of Ruth Ward and her son, Madisen, have been building a buzz by performing at coffee shops, music festivals and concerts promoting their excellent 2015 debut album, “Skeleton Crew.”

On the new project, they’ve mastered harmonization — I mean, they are family after all — and the tunes are both rich and relatable.


Madisen’s vocals are striking and intense, with Ruth coming in with ease on the songs, and at the perfect moments, especially on “Hell and Back” and “Family Treason.”

Ruth and Madisen co-wrote each song, also working with Grammy-winner Nathan Chapman — who produced on Taylor Swift’s first five albums — and Ryan Hadlock, best known for his work with the Lumineers, on the six tracks.

What they’ve crafted with “The Radio Winners” puts them in contention for album of the year.


LOS ANGELES: DJ Khaled has released his new single “No Brainer” Friday morning. Featuring Justin Bieber and Quavo, the artist’s previous collaborators on the No. 1 track “I’m the One,” the song is now available at digital music services as is an “event level” video costarring Chance the Rapper and directed by Colin Tilley.

The “No Brainer” roll-out coincides with an Apple Music campaign featuring Khaled’s son Asahd Tuck Khaled, which was posted on social media today. Apple’s Larry Jackson is credited with creative direction for the ad which was directed by Anthony Mandler. Comedian Kevin Hart’s voice also makes a cameo.

“No Brainer,” which clocks in at exactly four minutes and 20 seconds, is headed to pop, rhythm, and urban stations and makes its official impact on Monday, July 30. Khaled’s next studio album, “Father of Asahd,” is due out this fall. It was executive produced by Asahd, who turns two in October.

Khaled is currently on tour with Beyonce and Jay-Z and also appears as a judge on Fox show “The Four.”

LOS ANGELES: Latin music company Fania Records and Publishing has been bought by Concord Music from Miami-based Codigo Entertainment. Fania assets include some 19,000 master recordings and 8,000 compositions, among them works by such iconic Latin and R&B artists as Celia Cruz, Willie Colon, Hector Lavoe and Ruben Blades. It is also home to important records in genres like Salsa, Latin big band and boogaloo, the latter of which — performed by Pete Rodriguez in “I Like It Like That” — can be heard on the hook to the current Cardi B hit “I Like It.”

On the publishing side, Fania’s catalog includes tunes written by Louis A. Perez and Luis Diaz. Songs sampling Fania publishing works include Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man” and Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie.”

Said Concord CEO Scott Pascucci: “We are huge fans of Fania and its extraordinary musical legacy. As investors, the acquisition makes sense because of the growth in streaming and the demographic shifts in consumption — and we want to be at the forefront of investing in that shift. But, more importantly, we love the music and couldn’t pass on the opportunity to bring the music to future generations around the world.” (Agencies)

The acquisition was led by Concord Chief Operating Officer Glen Barros and Chief Business Development Officer, Steven Salm. Reed Smith was counsel to Concord, led by Stephen Sessa and Christopher Sheaffer. The Fania deal follows the purchase of Imagem, Boosey & Hawkes, Tams-Witmark and the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization — all but Imagen remain individual business units under parent company Concord Music.

“It has been an honor and a privilege for my team and I to return this amazing catalog and magical brand back to its rightful place in music history,” added Stuart Livingston, President and CEO of Codigo Entertainment. (Agencies)

By Scott Stroud



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