Thursday, September 24, 2020

Michael Kiwanuka Wins the Mercury Prize

 

This is very well deserved:

Singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka has won the 2020 Mercury Prize for his soul-searching third record, Kiwanuka.

A lush, immersive album of politicised soul, it sees the star exploring themes of self-doubt, faith and civil rights.

Released last November, Kiwanuka beat best-sellers like Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia and Stormzy's Heavy Is The Head to win the £25,000 prize.

"It's blown my mind," said the singer. "Music is all I've ever wanted to do, so I'm over the moon."

Kiwanuka won on his third attempt, having been nominated for each of his previous albums: 2012's Home Again and 2016's Love & Hate.

"I was kind of resigned to the fact [that] if I don't win one this year, probably I'll never win one," he told BBC 6 Music.

Watching someone win something they've always wanted is rewarding in and of itself. In the world of music prizes, I would put the Mercury Prize above a Grammy because I don't think there's any appreciation for artistry in winning one. There is an aspect to winning the Mercury Prize that says that your artistic achievement is paramount; we don't care if your record didn't sell many copies. In the case of Kiwanuka, his album was not a runaway best seller but it landed with authority. It is a dense, multi-layered effort that rises to the moment and to the occasion where we find ourselves.

And it's well deserved because we need to hear someone sing from their soul. No plastic emotions, no cutting corners to let the business people move some widgets. Just old fashioned art in the recorded sounds.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Blue Hearts


Blue Hearts is the new album from the great Bob Mould and he makes one hell of a resistance fighter:

“All I have to do is wake up in the morning and take a look at what’s happened while I was sleeping — that’s enough to scare me every day into saying something,” Mould tells SPIN.

His outrage is especially potent on single “American Crisis.” He wrote the song two years ago during the sessions for his previous album, 2019’s Sunshine Rock, but decided it was too dark to fit that project’s more optimistic outlook. However, the track felt too relevant to pass over again.

“American Crisis” reminded him of being a young musician trying to figure out his identity in the early ‘80s. While not normally one for nostalgia, Mould has been in a particularly reflective state: He recently helped compile the 24-CD box set Distortion: 1989-2019 (out Oct. 2), which chronicles his 30-year post-Hüsker Dü career, including his work as a solo artist and a member of influential alt-rock band Sugar.

How many artists are putting out 25 CDs worth of music this year?

Everything that I've heard so far is classic Mould. The power and the prestige that he brings to a straightforward protest song is enough to make you want to venture out into the world and wave a sign in some asshole's face. This is the energy we need right now and this is the moment for definitive statements. You can't sit on the fucking fence anymore. You have to get engaged and you have to start giving a shit about the world. Bland resignation and indie hipster detachment is what put us in this place to begin with.