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.