"They tried to make me go to rehab. I said, 'No, no, no.' " Amy Winehouse opens her debut album with those bold lines, and it seems she's been trying to live up to them ever since. The tabloids in her native Britain have relished her on- and off-stage drunken exploits and volatile behavior while also praising, justifiably, her precocious talent. The young singer has a big, soulful voice with a gritty edge, but
Back to Black
doesn't simply ape the Stax/Volt sound that inspires it: She's part of a generation raised on hip-hop, and it shows on songs like "You Know I'm No Good." Borrowing Sharon Jones' funky Dap-Kings as her backing band, Winehouse makes her Philly debut Saturday night. Catch her now before she implodes, explodes, or ends up in rehab.
- Steve Klinge
Warm and chilly, romantic and remote, sensuous and spacey, acoustic and electronic - Air revels in dichotomies. The French duo of JB Dunckel and Nicolas Godin debuted in 1998 with Moon Safari and the hit "Sexy Boy," their defining pop moment, but since then have experimented with cinema (
The Virgin Suicides
soundtrack) and the cinematic (pretty much all their subsequent work). The recent
features guest vocals from Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon, and while it is somber and dark (see, for instance, "Napalm Love"), its melancholy gets tempered by the languorous beauty of the melodies and the subtle colors of the instrumentation. Pianos mix with analog synths, a Japanese koto or acoustic guitar rubs against a programmed drumbeat, and the result is chilled-out and dreamy but full of attention-worthy details.
- Steve Klinge