Neo Joshua grew up in East London studying vocal jazz. She’s since gone on to make what she calls “wonky funk”—a winning amalgamation of electronic music, R&B, soul and funk—as Nao, earning comparisons to FKA Twigs in the process. After doing time as a backup singer (for Jarvis Cocker no less) and putting out a couple of EPs, her first full-length, For All We Know (stream it below), came out last summer to near universal acclaim. “Nao’s debut album certainly isn’t shy about setting her out as one of the UK’s brightest new talents,” said NME. “The first thing you notice is her voice, a fluttery but punchy thing with a propulsive kind of power.” And Spin added: “Whether or not Nao is ‘Girlfriend’ material—to cite the demure-yet-hopeful ballad that closes this sensational debut—she’s evolving into an artist serious pop listeners can commit to.” You can also commit to seeing her in person because Nao (above, performing “Bad Blood” live in studio for KEXP FM) closes out her American tour on Friday night at Brooklyn Steel. And Brooklyn’s Brasstracks open the show.
Tag Archives: Jarvis Cocker
The Jarvis Cocker–fronted Pulp formed in the late ’70s (when the frontman was just 15), but the Sheffield, England, band, didn’t gain much traction for quite some time. Because of this, the lineup went through several changes before the one-two punch of 1994’s His ’n’ Hers and the following year’s Different Class—on the strength of hit single “Common People”—saw them break through, at a time when other Britpop bands like Oasis and the Stone Roses were doing the same. But the increased popularity and the intense scrutiny that came with it weren’t in the band’s best interest, leading to addictions and more lineup changes before breaking up in 2001. But you can’t keep a good band down. And Pulp (above, playing “Disco 2000” at 2011’s Reading Festival) is back, having reunited last year. And now they’re appearing in the US for the first time in more than a decade. Wednesday’s show is sold out, but you can see them on Tuesday at Radio City Music Hall.
Jarvis Cocker – Music Hall of Williamsburg – July 30, 2009
Mid-set last night at a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg, former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker reached into the pocket of his white blazer and pulled out a bunch of grapes. True gentleman that he is, he took a break from performing his witty songs to toss the fruit toward the hungry crowd, even attempting (unsuccessfully) to throw a few grapes up into the balcony. Cocker continued pelting us with grapes even as his band began playing the opening bars of the soulful, self- consciously sexy “I Never Said I Was Deep” from his latest album, Further Complications. Moments later, he stripped off his blazer to many squeals from the crowd. Then came his tie, first loosened, and then ripped off with abandon. The crowd squealed more, as if to say, “Hey, we never said we were deep either.”
Though he may excel in the role of unlikely sex symbol, Jarvis Cocker’s music is the real draw. The new album clearly bears the imprint of its producer, the legendary Steve Albini, who seems to have roughed up the songs a bit, adding a satisfying edge to Cocker’s often acerbic, tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Many of the songs on Further Complications have a retro pedigree, such as the saxophone-heavy “Homewrecker!” (wherein Cocker worked himself into a frenzy of flying limbs and twisted his voice into an incensed scream), which evokes a style that would not be out of place on a 1960s episode of Top of the Pops. Call it vintage rock by way of nouveau-Britpop. It’s a winning combination. —Alena Kastin
Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com