Turns out everyone feels that inherent impulse to make their parents proud, even esteemed artists like Elvis Costello. The 64-year-old singer, known for ballads like “Alison” and rockers like “Pump It Up” was recently awarded an OBE award — Officer of the Order of the British Empire, an honor bestowed by the Queen of England upon those that have demonstrated tremendous achievement in their given field.
The Brit is known for songs like “Oliver’s Army,” that are at times critical of the British throne and the country’s imperialism over the course of world history. Costello initially intended to refuse the award, but explained his reason for accepting it in a press release on his website. The letter reads in a spunky, humorous way that is only fitting for the artist.
In it, both mother and son refer to outgoing prime minister Theresa May as “rubbish.” However, much to Costello’s chagrin, his mother, Lillian MacManus, still tells her son to receive the award. Continue reading →
In preparation for their upcoming summer tour, Elvis Costello & The Imposters shared a new video for “Mr. and Mrs. Hush,” a track off their recent album Look Now. Rolling Stone describes “Mr. and Mrs. Hush” as a “punchy soul-kissed tune,” and its funky swagger is matched with the colorful, psychedelic animation in the new lyric video. Watch, and sing along, below. Continue reading →
Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.
This past Saturday was my 36th birthday, and, as it happens, this is my 36th Now Hear This column.(I’ve been secretly keeping track: the first fifteen installments ran weekly over at Philly Voice during the fall of 2016; the monthly columns for The Key started in February 2017).Thirty-six feels like a significant year – more so than 35 in many ways (especially considering what’s been happening to the institution of the presidency).It’s divisible by more numbers, even if five isn’t one of them.As one friend pointed out, it means I’m now old enough to vote twice!And, more notably, it means that I’ve been a quote-unquote “adult” for fully half of my life; that the time since I left my parents’ house now equals the time that I lived there.
So it’s afforded a nice opportunity to reflect back on the time around my 18th year – an age perhaps less overtly mythologized in song than sixteen or seventeen, but probably even more transformative in real (contemporary) life – which in my case was also the era of Y2K.I’d reckon that nobody felt the cultural and historical shift from the 20th to the 21st century, from the 1990s to the still-nameless-after-all-these-years 2000s, more acutely than those of us for whom it paralleled the end of high school and the start of what-comes-next; i.e. me and my fellow circa-1982 babies: the oldest, truest millennials.Conveniently, just two days before my birthday, September Now Hear This boy-toy Troye Sivan joined up with plasticwave popgenius (and certified ‘90s bitch) Charli XCX to drop a video memorializing and celebrating the pop culture of that period – specifically 1999, although the references span roughly 1997-2000 – when, as many have mentioned, its creators were still in single digits, if not diapers.It represents exactly, and in exquisitely realized detail, the “borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered (late) ‘90s” that I have been ambivalently anticipating for quite some time now.
Legendary rock ‘n roller Elvis Costello and his band The Imposters have some news of the tour and album variety. They haven’t shared too many details about the new music just yet, but we know that there is a new record on the horizon, and according to a press release more information is coming “very shortly.” It will be Costello’s first album for Concord Records and his 25th solo full-length overall. Costello’s last release was 2013’s Wise Up Ghost, in collaboration with The Roots. Continue reading →
“There was one lyric that was thought to be one that might suit me. And then I was glancing through the folio and that particular lyric was there on the page, and the next thing I could hear it in a very unusual way” – Elvis Costello in an interview w/ Rolling Stone re: a song he wrote to a Johnny Cash poem.
Next month an album called Forever Words will be released featuring well-known singers who have taken poems and letters written by Johnny Cash, and have put his words to music. Elvis Costello is one of the performers. Continue reading →
Elvis Costello‘s new song “You Shouldn’t Look at Me That Way” was written for Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, a movie following the life of Peter Turner and his relationship with actress Gloria Grahame. The song swells with the slow crooning of Costello’s vocals, lazy piano riffs, and dynamic builds of the strings. It’s beautiful, and I can already sense the vibe of the movie, even though this song could absolutely stand alone. Stream it below and watch a trailer for the film. Continue reading →
On our way to the Tower Theater on Friday night, to witness Elvis Costello and the Imposters’ latest thunderous return, I explained the name of the band’s current tour – Imperial Bedroom and Other Chambers – and one of my companions asked: “is that a Donald and Melania reference?” It’s a fair question. And perhaps something of a missed opportunity. Costello, who once planned to title an album Emotional Fascism, and later (to give just one example) penned a lovely, Irish-tinged waltz about defiling Margaret Thatcher’s grave (long before her actual death), could easily have offered us a bounty of pointed, tuneful political cynicism. Indeed, as he quipped early in the show, his oeuvre is littered with topical-sounding titles which he might have presented as “badly satirical,” from “Waiting for the End of the World” to “American Gangster Time” to “Brilliant Mistake.” (The last of those, incidentally, opens with a line whose dismal relevance even its author probably never foresaw: “He thought he was the king of America.”)
But no. This performance had its twisted gaze aimed at the unsavory past, not the unspeakable present. Continue reading →
Icelandic rock royalty Sigur Ros are gracing us with their presence at the Mann Center tonight. Get swept away in their myriad of hits — whether in Icelandic or the band-created musical language of Hopelandic (like c’mon, how cool is that)– for an atmospheric, open-air performance of dynamic, otherworldly soundscapes. Find more info on tickets at the XPN Concert Calendar, and listen to “Festival,” a.k.a. one of the most beautiful songs to ever exist, below. Continue reading →
This June 16th, legendary singer/songwriter Elvis Costello will return to Philly to play an intimate (for him) gig at the Tower Theater. His latest musical effort was 2013’s Wise Up Ghost with The Roots, and in 2015, he shared his memoir Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. After more than four decades in the business, the man has lost none of his spark or eccentricity, so I shouldn’t have to tell you this concert is one you won’t want to miss. Tickets go sale this Friday, March 3rd. For more information on the show, head over to XPN’s Concert Calendar. Continue reading →