aloha, the latest album from Son Little, the musical nom de plume of LA’s Aaron Earl Livingston, is available now. As previewed with the release of the invisible EP and early single, “hey rose,” which The New York Times described as comprising “bluesy distorted guitar chords, a hint of Latin rhythm and perhaps a distant echo of the Zombies’ 'Time of the Season’,” aloha blends classic soul and old-school R&B into a timeless swirl fueled by gritty instrumental virtuosity and raw, raspy vocals. Recorded at Paris’s iconic Studios Ferber with producer Renaud Letang (Feist, Manu Chao), aloha is Little’s first album to be recorded with an outside producer. The result is his boldest, most self-assured statement yet. It’s an ambitious work of vision and reflection, and an ecstatic testament to the freedom that comes from trusting the currents of life to carry you where you belong.
In order to create aloha, Little began writing and assembling album demos in Petaluma, California. However, after his hard drive fried and he lost nearly a dozen detailed demos, he was forced to begin with a blank slate, leading him to write aloha in only eight days at a tiny house and its adjacent barn. While Little plays nearly every instrument on the album himself, he put his songs in the hands of an outside producer for the first time here. The entire project was an exercise in letting go, in ceding control, in surrendering to fate.
Recognizing the power of our own self-destructive tendencies is a recurring theme on aloha. Little mourns the suicide of a beloved uncle on “suffer,” using addiction and mental illness as a lens to explore forgiveness and empathy, laments the rapidly deteriorating world his two children are set to inherit on “o clever one,” and meditates on the dangers of succumbing to passion at the expense of reason on “belladonna.”
It would be easy to feel helpless in the face of such inexorable forces, to feel as if we are prisoners of fate rather than masters of our own destiny, but Little instead finds peace in perseverance on the album. “Hallelujah,” he sings on the gorgeous “neve give up,” “though I’m battered and blue / feel like I’m born to lose…Never will I give up.”
It is a potent reminder that letting go doesn’t mean giving in; in fact, quite the opposite. Letting go can be an act of defiance, of growth, of empowerment. Letting go requires a leap of faith, and, in Son Little’s case, that faith has been richly rewarded. Whether that means this album represents the end of one chapter or the beginning of the next is impossible to know just yet, but in either case, there’s really only one thing to say: aloha.
Pokey LaFarge was ready to move forward.
In March 2020, the veteran singer-songwriter packed up and left his Los Angeles abode behind, putting his belongings in storage in anticipation of spending extensive time on the road in support of his then-forthcoming album, Rock Bottom Rhapsody. He couldn’t wait to head down to Austin a few weeks later to showcase those songs and launch the album with his band at South-by-Southwest. Then the pandemic hit and all of LaFarge’s well-laid plans went into thin air.
Stuck in East Austin with nowhere to go, LaFarge did what he does best: he got to work. Throughout his career, nine albums to date including a stint on Jack White’s Third Man Records, the singer-songwriter has never been one to look back in anger or disappointment. LaFarge used the sudden change in plans to his advantage, having perhaps his greatest period of personal growth in the midst of this crippling pandemic.
It came as no surprise that the songs instantly started to flow out of him. LaFarge is an artist who refuses to rest on his laurels and compromise. He’s always motivated and ready to create — and when he’s at peace in isolation like he was here, the results can be magical. Looking in, inspired by the deep soul not just from these shores, but from distant geographical places like Africa or South America, LaFarge set out to create a body of work that paired emotional lyrics with a killer groove and grabby melodies.
Written by LaFarge and co-produced with Chris Seefried, the album is one of LaFarge’s strongest and most mature lyrical efforts to date. The album’s title, In the Blossom of Their Shade, is taken from a lyric in the stunning, yet dusty “Mi Ideal.” That song sonically draws influences from the Southwest, South America and Caribbean. The distant warmth of the music, especially rhythmically, adeptly coincides with the longing that's expressed in the lyrics.
Unlike its melancholy predecessor, In the Blossom of Their Shade showcases the positivity of coming out of the darkness and into the light. The record was nearly titled Siesta Love since it captures the thematic notion of being the perfect summer afternoon soundtrack...the type of music you want to listen to while having a cocktail with your significant other. It makes sense musically as well — LaFarge intentionally crafted songs
that created space and have melodies that can glide throughout a composition that’s a far cry from the swing and blues-infused songs of his earlier work.
LaFarge’s rigorous work ethic powered him through this potentially challenging creative period. As days became a couple months, songs blossomed from embryonic ideas into full-formed ones and he was ready to move on, which typified his mindset as a working artist.
Look no further than album closer, the twangy “Goodnight, Goodbye (Hope Not Forever).” The song neatly ties the past year along with a universal longing that brighter days are on the horizon, even if it doesn’t seem so right now.
Pokey LaFarge never wanted to be an artist that had one gigantic record and was then lost to the annals of history. As for now? He’s back to where the whole odyssey began over a year ago: Los Angeles. Even with In The Blossom of Their Shade on the horizon, LaFarge hasn’t put down his pen. You can’t keep a great songwriter idle.
Legendary musician Bob Mould announces his “Distortion and Blue Hearts!” tour starting September 16, 2021, in Boston at Paradise. The tour is in two parts. For the first three weeks, Bob will be joined by Jason Narducy on bass and drummer Jon Wurster. Beginning October 15 in Bloomington, IL, Mould will perform “Solo Distortion” electric shows (full run of dates and locations below).
On July 16, 2021, before any tour dates happen, Demon Music Group will conclude their year-long Bob Mould retrospective campaign with their fourth vinyl box, Distortion: Live. The 8 LP set includes live recordings from Mould’s solo career and his band Sugar.
This box follows October 2020’s 8 LP Distortion: 1989-1995 vinyl set, which took in Mould's early solo outings as well as his records with the much-beloved Sugar, January 2021’s 9 LP Distortion: 1996-2007 box set continuing through the next steps in Mould's solo career and his outings as LoudBomb and Blowoff, April 2021’s 7 LP Distortion 2008-2019 covering District Line to Sunshine Rock, and the 24 CD Distortion: 1989-2019 box, which covers the entirety of his post-Hüsker Dü output.
Mould’s live shows will span his entire 40+ year career, including songs from the Distortion collection and from his landmark band Hüsker Dü, as well as songs from last year’s explosive and critically acclaimed album Blue Hearts — about which Rolling Stone’s 4 out of 5 star review raved, “feels like a lost Hüsker Dü album with Mould howling invective over his buzzsawing guitar.”
“It’s been a year and a half away from the stage. I’ve missed the noise, the sweat, and seeing your smiling faces. I’m fully vaccinated, and I hope you are too, because this Fall will be a punk rock party with the band — and the solo shows will be loud and proud as well. It’s time to make up lost time, reconnect, and celebrate together with live music!”
As with the previously released box sets in the Distortion collection, each album has been mastered by Jeff Lipton and Maria Rice at Peerless Mastering in Boston and is presented with brand new artwork designed by illustrator Simon Marchner and pressed on 140g clear vinyl with unique splatter effects. This box set includes 4 live albums: Live At The Cabaret Metro, 1989; the Sugar album The Joke Is Always On Us, Sometimes; LiveDog98 (first time on vinyl), and Live at ATP 2008 (first time on vinyl). In addition, the set includes a 28-page companion booklet featuring liner notes by journalist Keith Cameron; contributions from Bully’s Alicia Bognanno; rare photographs and memorabilia, and a bonus LP Distortion Plus: Live, which features live rarities including B-Sides and stand-out tracks from the Circle of Friends concert film.
Discover more about the box sets including full track listings and FAQs here:
Kawehi is a new breed of musician, a one-woman-band from Lawrence, Kansas who uses technology to carry the weight of a full band on her own. She was seen and heard in the Super Bowl 50 commercial for Intel, has landed in publications such as People Magazine, Spin, Esquire, and on the front page of Reddit. Elle magazine has dubbed Kawehi “The Genius One-Woman Band” and HuffPo has praised Kawehi as “Killing the DIY scene.” With over 11 million views on her YouTube channel, Kawehi has been performing to sold out shows across the nation and has already been on three headlining tours. With eight Kickstarter projects under her belt, Kawehi shows no signs of slowing down.