'Kaleidoscope Dream' release party, hosted by Miguel
Miguel's second full length album, which has been released piece by piece over the summer, sounds like the Los Angeles-born singer took a hard look at R&B, pop, rock, funk and "club-aware electronic soul," gleefully smashed those plates and glued them all together. The album's title works: on Kaleidoscope Dream images and sounds repeat, refract and coalesce. But they change places less like the do-si-do and more like the Charleston.
This is an album about re-ordering the past, directing the present. It's made up of love songs, but they are more specifically songs arguing for love, acting casual, wishing and hoping and then imagining what it would be like to consummate. Early days and misadventures. It's soul-baring, but mirrored and fairly guarded.
The title track samples Labi Siffre's immortal "I Got The," recognizable from Eminem's "My Name Is." The lead vocal runs back and forth over the bass line like it's a game of Red Rover. Miguel creeps up behind the note sometimes, but he usually ends up squarely on top of it. On "Use Me" he relies on an amped-up shaker to push through a case of the nerves. "It's the very first time," he sings. "Can I trust you?" On "Candles in the Wind" he loses the reins a bit, asking after God, quoting Biggie Smalls and indulging in more runs than usual over a sparser beat. More than a third of the songs here are powered by guitar and on most of them the narrator is telling the listener what to do. They are primed for live performance.
Miguel's voice is emerald-colored. Light shines through, but it's not sleeping-bag warm. His falsetto sounds like it was hard to come by, not like he woke up sounding like that. Miguel is not Teddy Pendergrass. He is not Luther Vandross. He's working harder than those guys, but you don't see him sweat. Like Sly Stone, he holds the listener at arm's length. He is closer to Stevie Wonder, Prince and Van Morrison. He is a perfectionist, trying to catch the eye of people looking around for the cheeky R&B of their teenage years, be it Little Richard-level insinuations, or absurd provocations in the style of Akinyele or the fully committed mastery of Tony! Toni! Tone!Kaleidoscope Dream requires a few twists to bring Miguel's vision into focus — and once you've found it, you'll laugh more then you planned to. - NPR
Samantha Ronson (DJ Set)
Her stepfather's a jukebox hero — as in Foreigner's Mick Jones — and her brother's a star DJ — that'd be Mark Ronson — so for Samantha Ronson to get a word in at the dinner table, she had to know her tunes. It wasn’t until Ronson was 20 that she discovered her music talents.
Ronson grew up around music — going on tour with Foreigner for family vacations and cutting class at her stepfather's studio — but she was never interested in playing. Then, after spending a year in Paris after high school, she returned to New York and realized she had nothing to listen to. Ronson taught herself to play and sing and eventually put her poetry to the music. She was still a closet performer, though, when a different sort of music opportunity knocked.
"I got a call one night from a club that I used to hang out at and they were like, 'Do you want to DJ?' "Ronson remembered. "I was like, 'No way,' [but] my friends were like, 'Come on, just do it. How hard could it be?' I was always in the club; [I figured I] might as well get paid for it. Samantha took the gig and before she knew it she was filling in for her brother at other clubs while he finished his album. Sam continued to sharpen her skills on the “Wheels of Steel” and eventually DJing became a full time job.
"I am a pretty good DJ. I give myself props." Samantha gets more than just props. She spins at some of the most high profile gigs around the country. Appearing at Jessica Simpsons Birthday Party, with Lindsay Lohan on the American Music Awards, ElleGirl Prom, Blender, Maxim, IFC Awards, Playstation at the Super Bowl, Sundance and the VMA’s in Miami.
Samantha’s career shows no signs of letting up. She continues to field offers on a daily basis and says she loves what she’s doing. “This is the best job I can imagine: playing music I love, hanging with my friends, and giving people something to dance to.