You Gotta Listen To These Two

Driving home from our auto mechanic shop (notable not only for its brisk service, but also for being run entirely by first-generation immigrants, which is rare in that business) yesterday, I heard two new songs on the radio that made a big impression on me. More exactly, the two singers amazed me, each in their own way.

Antony and the Johnson’s “Shake that Devil” is completely eerie. It’s bleak science fictiony avantgarde roots blues. I’d heard Antony before as guest vocalist on Current 93’s otherworldly 2006 album Black Ships Ate the Sky, and this is even weirder. Beautiful!

“Shake that Devil” was on an alternative college station. The other impressive singer, though very unlike Antony, also works in the Afro-American tradition. I heard her on NRJ, a highly commercial R&B station, and I was amazed by the raw power and emotion of Beyoncé Knowles’s “If I Were A Boy”. The song isn’t very well produced, having this sleepy “woah-oh” backing harmony ripped off from Joan Osbourne, but the singer’s really the business. No over-slick controlled R&B wailing here, she grabs you by the heart.

To round the entry off, here’s Antony and his Johnsons covering Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” at a gig in Sweden in 2007.


8 thoughts on “You Gotta Listen To These Two

    Protecting Your Rights on the Internet
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    Hi Martin,

    On behalf of Rough Trade / Beggars Digital, Secretly Canadian and Antony & The Jonsons, many thanks for plugging “The Crying Light” (street date 21st January) … .. thanks, also, on behalf of the labels and artist for not posting any pirate links to unreleased (studio) material and, if you / your readers want good quality, non-pirated, preview tracks, “Another World” is available for fans and bloggers to link to / post / host etc via the artist’s MySpace … .. check-out and for details on “The Crying Light” and the artist’s 2008/09 shows … .. you can also view official A&TJ videos at and, for details of further preview material and pre-release promotions, keep an eye on these official sources.

    Thanks again for your plug.




  2. I love Johnson’s “Shake that Devil”! It’s Jim Morrison on a downward spiral suddenly meets the lyrical musing of Otis Redding and the orchestral sound of Miles Davis’ “Birth of the Cool”. I thought I was absolutely going to hate it the first minute 30, and then poooooooowww! What a wallop!


  3. Beyoncé sells millions of a carbon copy of the much better and infinitely less annoying Joan Osbourne original, whilst record company executives demand rights to prosecute suspected file sharers on suspicion alone and western governments comply.


  4. Well, if we’re not gonna let musicians steal stuff off of each other, then we can’t let Antony sing the blues. To my ear, the Beyoncé song is new though the arrangement is stolen — and a poor choice too. She sings great.

    The file-sharer crackdowns are the death throes of a dying industry, comparable to when weaver mobs smashed the first mechanical looms.


  5. I think you’re absolutely right about the death of the music industry as we know it coming soon. The likes of Lars Ulrich, who headed some of the earliest attacks on the file-sharer technology, will not have thwarted the progress of this advancement.
    I think of the fact that my children have never seen an audio tape, let alone a record on vinyl or an 8-track tape. Even when I was in college I carried a milkcrate of my Smiths and Morrissey vinyl around to other dorm rooms of kids with better systems than I had. Now you can download digital quality music onto an i-pod, mp3 player, or phone and carry almost 100 milkcrates of music around with you. The box of audio tapes I had for riding in the car, “cruising” or whatever you might have called it was as big as the back seat. Lars Ulrich and the other members of this contemporary weaver mob will just have to settle for multi-million dollar Contemporary Art collection instead of multi-billion dollar ones. I feel almost as bad for them as I do for the executives of GM, Chrysler, and Ford who came in their seperate private jets to beg the Federal Governement for a bailout for the industry. Eventually one comes to see that the reason some people and industries are so bloated is because they are actually dead, problem is they just don’t know it yet.


  6. Most anybody today can afford home studio equipment that’s better than what the Beatles had. There’s nothing to say that musicians (or record companies) have the right to be able to become insanely wealthy doing their thing. Great new music will still be made in great quantities when the day comes that nobody can make a living as a recording artist only any more.


  7. Oh me oh my! Those POOR, poor recording companies! Back in my days — ancient times, I realize — those of us who were too poor to buy our favorite artists’ records used ancient technology known as audiotapes to tape the stuff they played on the radio. Fancy that! Yup, there’s always been a way to get around paying top dollar to the big dogs. Somehow, they manage to keep going in spite of it. You know what they did back in my 104-year-old granny’s day? They just learned to sing the songs and bought absolutely nuthin’. Couldn’t afford to. Sorry, guys, there’s just no way you can force folks to afford to buy stuff they just love, when they got no money for rent and food.


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