Urban haps of a grrrl on a mission to be a better writer, a new music master-blaster and a wonderfully brilliant razor-packing, MAC LipGlass wearing feminista...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hot Grrrls, Cool Music - SIA FURLER

I went to see Sia Furler last night at Bowery Ballroom and she was absolutely stunning. Ahhh that voice-- so fricking rich, throaty and sweet, you can damn near see the molasses running down the microphone stand. If you don't know Sia by name, chances are you do know her songs. She is the lead singer of Zero 7 and she had one of the most memorably haunting songs last year that played during the final credits for this series finale. The song was called Breathe Me and it became Sia's calling card to US buzz and popularity. I mean more folks were wondering who sang that song than they were concerned about the actual resolution of the show's plot.

And last night, to a packed house, Sia did not disappoint. I went with Todd who turned me onto Zero 7 back in 2001 by buying me their CD and then by surprising me with tix to their first ever NYC show at Irving Plaza. What an incredible night! I've been hooked ever since. Last night, Sia dressed in a beautifully quaint white dress with black patent leather Vivienne Westwood meets Gucci strappy platforms, sung all of her songs including her hits with Zero 7. When, for an encore, she belted out Distractions as only she can with that crazy swooning drawl, folks simply went berzerk. Not in the crazy insane way but more in that hypnotized, I-Got-You-Under-My-Spell in a seduced type of way. It was a major goose bump moment! Citizen Cope, who's playing at Town Hall in a couple of weeks, just all of a sudden turned toward me smiling (probably cause I was doing my crazy Xena warrior holla). I was like, "she's dope, right?" He responded, "Oh yeah... she’s amazing!"

Sia's album dropped earlier this year and from what I'm hearing she has 5 songs on the new Zero 7 joint, which is dropping in June. Download it, upload it, borrow it, burn it, buy it... do what you gotta do, but don't sleep on Sia or on Zero cause their cd’s and especially their shows are the shizzniz! The following is a review I wrote for BUST:
Colour The Small One
by Nicole Moore

Death may not be proud, but when swathed in the lush, ethereal vocals of Sia Furler, it can be quite seductive as displayed in her riveting and legendary song, “Breathe Me” that played at the end of the finale of HBO’s obituary obsessed series, Six Feet Under. Now this London-based Aussie is making her voyage across the pond official with Colour The Small One-- her fantastic US solo debut. Like her sensuous hits with Zero 7 (“Destiny” & “In The Waiting Line”), Sia’s distinctive raspy, slurred drawl infuses songs like “Moon,” “Numb” and of course, “Breathe Me” with a certain contemplative melancholy that simultaneously smolders as it chills. On “Where I Belong” Sia funks up her downtempo with jazzy horns and soul rollicking drums that is reminiscent of Beth Orton on some Morcheeba trip. Colour The Small One is filled with languid pianos, pulsating strings and introspective lyrics that can even turn a song about a vegetable (“Sweet Potato”) into a metaphorical ditty about caring for your lover. Now that’s food for thought!

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Lucy Liu in Slevin

Every time I hear the name Lucy Liu, which isn't too often, I think of Charlie's Angels and the empty, way too forgettable role she had as Alex. When folks say three is a crowd it couldn't have been more true than it was for Liu who was a last minute Angel pick. After offering the role to Lauryn Hill, Thandie New ton and to Jada Pinkett Smith the producers realized they weren't going to get their Black angel and finally decided to settle on the next best thing-- an Asian hottie. I liked her a lot though on Ally McBeal and thought her tough, bitchy, smart girl portrayal added a nice contrast to Ally's quirkiness. Her 5-minute stint in Kill Bill was cute for a minute and a long yawn for the remaining 4. So needless to say I was oddly curious about her role in Lucky Number Slevin mainly because I knew Lucy was putting away her swords and giving us drama this time around. On Saturday night, after having the best roasted asparagus in my life at this new Japanese spot called Chanto (it's where the old Moomba used to be), my friend and I decided to check out Slevin. He asked what it was about, but all I could think to say was it's like Pulp Fiction with Morgan Freeman instead of Samuel Jackson and Lucy Liu in place of Uma. And I must say,where the film kinda fizzled, lil Lucy's chemistry with Josh Hartnett kept it popping. She was so likable and I thought she gave a top-notch performance. As a matter of fact so did Michael Atkinson at The Voice:
There isn't much reason why the entire film couldn't have occupied itself with Hartnett and Liu dishing, tossing bon mots, making bedroom eyes in a cheap apartment kitchen, and just being as bubbly together as a truckload of canned champagne (the noir-banter screenplay by Jason Smilovic seems like it could sustain their pas de deux indefinitely). Even a distended discussion of Bond movies can be forgiven amid the barely repressed giggles.
She played a coroner who happened to fall in love with Slevin and who just happened to be Asian. Clearly this role could have gone to someone who looked more like Slevin or Uma, and so in many respects this was a coop for Liu. I found this quote from her that gives some context to how she handles being a Chinese actress:
I'm so proud of my heritage, but yes, I think there's always a danger when people put you on a pedestal. Especially when you're just trying to live your life and pursue your dreams. The intention is not to represent Asian Americans, but to be an Asian American who is working as an actress. People often confuse the two. When you are "representing", you have the burden of some people projecting their hopes onto you. This can eventually lead to a certain amount of disappointment. I strive to not deny myself experiences that open up to me. I hope to live without looking back in regret. If people want to join me on the ride, then I'm happy to have them along.
I guess this is good food for thought considering how tough it is in La La Land for grrrls of color. We see our Black starlets being marginalized if not simply vanishing from the cinematic bowels of mankind known to us common folk as Hollywood. And just as it is for African-American and Latina women, there can only be one Asian IT girl. First it was Michelle Yeah who rocked the scene in Tomorrow Never Dies. Then theHotness was Zhang Ziyi who jumped over trees and kicked mad booty in Crouching Tiger leaving everyone Stateside shook. And even though Sandra Oh captured the crown and our hearts a couple years back after her really slamming performance in Sideways and now in Grey’s Anatomy, Zhang is still that Grrrl with roles in Rush Hour 2, House of Daggers and most recently Memoirs of a Geisha. No matter which grrrl you or I like best, one thing is for certain, this has got to be the best week, hell, it’s the best time ever for yellow grrrls who are making moves—from these to smart, back talking not too mention brother loving ladies with 'tude.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Hot Grrrls, Cool Music - KELIS, IMANI, JOI & AMEL

Last Sunday as usual I was amped to watch my favorite TV program—CBS Sunday Morning. On this particular Sunday their resident music expert, Bill Flanagan, was giving viewers his picks for best new songwriters:
Musical styles come and go but no matter what year it is, there are always new singers/songwriters baring their souls and, if they are good at their job, ours, too.
Knowing that Hot Grrrls are skrate killing it on the musical front here lately, I was so disappointed that (again) Bill’s picks were all Wonder Bread white and folk and mellow--Beth Orton, Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins, Rhett Miller and Mason Jennings. Where was the diversity? Are the only folks baring their souls from Midwestern and Southern suburbs, Seattle coffee shops and England? I think not. So as a rebuttal and as a form of affirmation for all theHotness Grrrls the world over, here are my picks for this year’s freshest singers and songwriters— Kalifly style:

New York-based (by way of North Carolina, Indiana and the Bay Area) singer-songwriter Imani Uzuri is releasing her debut solo album, HER HOLY WATER: A Black Girl's Rock Opera this summer. Having seen her perform a gazillion times, I know this joint is going to be the unadulterated hotness. Sun Moon Child is more than a song, it is a summoning of all forces beautiful, righteous and unafraid. And talk about someone baring her soul, Imani’s Love Story is dripping with the bloody matter of a heart that’s been broken but can’t stop beating for the promise of new love.

Kelis is finally back with a new album and a funky fly coif. Her lead off single, Bossy, is straight gullilicious. Featuring Too Short and a virgin tight beat, Kelis looks like she may be doling out a whole new bag of tricks on her next album and will give us more than one great song about lovin lactose.

Having just separated from Gipp--her husband of many years, Joi’s new album is brimming with the disappointment, pain and wistfulness of a woman still in love, but far from being down an out. The title track, Tennessee Slim Is The Bomb couldn’t be more in the socket of Joi’s groove— it’s sexy, playful and funky. On Gravity when she sings “gravity makes me wanna fly away” and states staunchly that “the rap game done stole my man away,” you know this former Star Kitty has become a cat who realizes her manicured claws not only can catch rats, but they can claw you out from under the deepest reaches of heartache.

I had a chance to finally check out Bebek-- a Philly-based band fronted by Lynn Murphy-Michalopoulos (a comrade of mine from college and former Gypsy Melody vocalist). I’m really digging their album especially the cut 807 Dub.

India.Arie also has a new hairstyle and she’s singing about it in her new single.

We already know about the quirky fierceness of Alice Smith and Macy Gray who both have albums dropping this summer.

MeShell NdegeOcello is taking a departure from the jazz of her last joint as she dips her bass down into the deepness of dub and reggae. Grrrls, this is going to be some real baby makin music!

And I schooled y’all years ago on Amel Larrieux’s gift for songwriting. She’s dropping her new joint any day and the single, Weary, is classic Amel—smart, graceful and full of soul.

There may be a lot of female singers and songwriters, but there’s still a lack of women producing beats. Why is that?

Well that’s my roundup of hot grrrls, cool music. Hopefully Alexis and the crew behind Central Park’s Summer Stage will have better picks than the folks at Sunday Morning.

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Boys Gone Wild

Okay so these Duke boys were off the chain. I think and hope we can all agree on that. Where the conflicts, tensions and confusion seems to be is how this story is being framed—namely within the framework of race. I could go on and present a thesis on Black female bodies as sites for socially and culturally constructed notions of identity in mainstream culture, but I already did that in undergrad except instead of "mainstream" I used the word hegemonic so dem academic heads could hear me, but I digress. Again I could go on with my rant but why reinvent the link when Lynne already has all of the really good ones posted. I especially love this interview with Marc Anthony Neal, a professor of Af-Am Studies at Duke and one of my fav writers, because he opens the discussion about this alleged Duke rape with his theory on the Black female body and how we construct notions around that body and how hiphop, class, and how most definitely being an exotic dancer affects those notions:
There's a very powerful historical discourse in this country that says, black women cannot be raped.
Even though I had hoped the response from the larger Black community would be greater, I'm at least happy to see the sisters at Duke take a stand and make their grievances known. Race, gender and class do factor into how this story is being told, no doubt and regardless of how the facts reveal themselves, clearly being able to blog and serve as our own portals of info is preventing this story from being dismissed or even perceived as another version of this.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Grrrls Gone Wild

What's up with some grrrls? Is something in the air? Is Mercury in retrograde? It seems as if there's a growing cipher of chicks who have gone coo coo for cocoa puffs or have been accused of such or should I say, their stylists and housekeepers have been accused. Dang where do I even begin, well maybe I’ll start with the most ignant-- those Flavor Flav chicks! These girls are trying to extend their 15 minutes of fame by only milleseconds from the look of this tour. Be gone will you!

And Naomi’s back to being Angry Black Model. I swear her phone has tapped more heads than this chick! LOL .. But seriously she’s got issues and wearing this t-shirt and making nice with Tyra doesn’t begin to hide that fact. Talking about shirts you can get one of your own here, but I prefer these cause we all know if she was to hit the hotnessgrrrl, getting stitches would be the least of her concerns.

Next up is Jack of J*Davey, the small band making big noise. Well she’s not so much crazy as she is annoyed but we all know there is a thin line between being someone who is committed and being committed. I don’t even know why she’s ranting in the first place everywhere I look she's getting mad love. I even gave her props and that’s after I saw her perform live against a backdrop of bad, blurred porn, which of course was blamed on the housekeeper, er.. club promoter.

And Chrissy McKinney went straight wildin’ on that security guard and on Capitol Hill no less. What's up? A grrrl can’t change her hairstyle without mad drama ensuing. All of us sisters know that Black hair can be just as political as any debate around immigration. I remember 10 years ago when I was working HR at Smith Barney and I decided I wanted to lock my hair and how I had to have a word with my director. Who does this?!? Black women that’s who! I guess in this case we could blame the stylist, but Rep. McKinney has decided to take the high road, bite the bullet and apologize.

Speaking of bullets and hair, did you hear about that woman in the Bronx whose weave caught that stray bullet? Her joint must have been unbeweavably crazy! Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

India.Arie who has since cut her locks is also talking, well singing, about hair and the remix is crazy nice.

Cocoa Girl has also taken note of grrrls who have gone wild and has pics to prove it. Check it out, keep it cool and ladies, let’s keep it tight.

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