|Cindy Wilson — Change (Dec. 1st, 2017)|
Cindy Wilson — Change (Dec. 1st, 2017) ★★ Cindy Wilson is a vocalist, songwriter and a founding member of new wave rock band The B~52s.
★★ “Everyone has other bands, other jobs,” Wilson says. “I’ve got the B~52s’ fortieth anniversary, there’s a lot going on with that. At the same time, I’m very committed to this record and continuing to perform with these guys. We’re trying to go into the studio at least once a month, to continue working creatively and keep the songs coming. We’re still experimenting, still growing, but it retains a certain sound. I feel very comfortable in this band. I’m loving it.” © Photo credit: Chris McKay
Birth name: Cynthia Leigh Wilson
Born: February 28, 1957, Athens, Georgia, U.S.
Genres: New wave, alternative rock
Occupation(s): singer, actress
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Genre: Synth Pop, Indie
Album release: Dec. 1st, 2017
Record Label: Kill Rock Stars
01. People Are Asking 3:33
02. Stand Back Time 4:23
03. No One Can Tell You 3:40
04. Change 3:13
05. Mystic 3:42
06. Things I’d Like to Say 5:00
07. Sunrise 3:27
08. On the Inside 4:31
09. Brother 2:53
10. Memory 3:43
→ Cindy Wilson
→ Ryan Monahan
→ Lemuel Hayes
→ Suny Lyons © Cindy Wilson of The B~52s performs in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo credit: Joey Foley
by Lee Adcock. November 28th, 2017; Score: 7
★★ We throw around the phrase ‘creative’ too much these days. Will a 25~year~old entrepreneur with a boutique coffee delivery start~up, for instance, create anything for his own leisure? Or to express anything beyond a desire for easy profits? And crucially, will he continue to ‘create’ decades later, when every support system he knows has shifted into parallel dimensions? Nah — the true artist shifts with their reality, accommodates to new bodies, learns new languages to enable creation within and without.
★★ For Cindy Wilson, the joy of creation flows freely through song — she’s spent over half her life in Athens’ original party ambassadors, the B~52s, and helped write some of the most outrageous pop songs of the Eighties (hello, ‘Love Shack’). So it’s no surprise, really, that the fun~loving Wilson would eventually try her hand at a solo album; the real kick is that Change hurls her into a sublimely modern setting, where the ghosts of glamor past mingle in hi~fi mirrors. And you could chalk up her sequin radiance here to a young backup band in the wings, or savvy producer Suny Lyons at the strings — but none of that would shine without Wilson herself, an ever~graceful salmon in ever~shifting streams.
★★ What strikes the listener first on Change is the intimacy. Suave disco bass, honeyed violins, lush synths — in other hands (The Rapture and Daft Punk spring to mind), these would be grounds for strobes and flashy choreography. But even the most obvious bops on record — like ‘Mystic' with its cool chrome Gary Numan air, or ‘On the Inside’ and its steamy soft throb (anyone remember Black Light Dinner Party? Anyone?) — simmer rather than sizzle. That’s due to Wilson’s cooed delivery, such a natural tease that time dissolves in the midsummer night. Even when she’s playing peek~a~boo like a forest sprite, though, she invites you to trust her — no crazy enchantments, she swears.
★★ That hospitality, if you will, shines through often on Change. 'People Are Asking’ sways like a porch swing, perhaps as a nearby stick of incense burns; Wilson muses about aspirations with a bittersweet touch that seems perfectly genuine. The breezy R&B of ‘Sunrise' also welcomes old friends onto the foyer, with a pitcher of sweet tea and maybe two tiers of tea biscuits. And the way Wilson sings starry~eyed on ‘Stand Back Time’, she shares the sheer wonder of persisting, levelling her own pedestal to marvel at her progress. Me, I feel personally catered to by the quaint folky charm of her Colony Six cover ‘Things I’d Like To Say’, a very sweet song about the ever~universal difficulty of harbouring desire for someone who’s already taken — which sounds even sweeter from someone who’s been there, done that, and still relates.
★★ ‘Things I’d Like To Say’ also features one of the album’s most beautiful moments, a 90~second drone into deep space. See, beyond that, Change rarely veers into alien territory — perhaps the only vaguely ‘experimental’ cut on her might be the title track, a Daft Punk~lite groove where Wilson assumes her most sylvan form. Not that Wilson needs to stray too far to satisfy us — indeed, only an Athens starlet and her whiz bang band could cover OK Go’s ‘Brother’ with the same wide~eyed glee that seems to define this town.
★★ At any rate, Wilson set out on a mission with this album — reinvent herself for the modern world, without her B~52s pedigree, by creating a totally new style for herself. And, by that standard, she’s largely succeeded: reincarnated as a flighty siren, the former party mistress now invites newcomers to shimmy more slowly, in a tastefully refurnished ballroom with just the right touches of her own glitzy flair. Granted, don’t expect Wilson to inspire any swift revisions to anyone’s album lists — nothing here speaks to the wider world, in the way that other artists have boldly strived to this year. But, if anything, our protagonist has proven that real ‘creatives’ don’t stop, can’t stop, won’t stop, even when they no longer fit the mould of what we expect ‘creatives’ to look like in the music biz. Right on, Cindy. ★★ http://drownedinsound.com/
★★ Known the world over as a vocalist, songwriter, and founding member of the one and only B~52s, Cindy Wilson has made a truly extraordinary solo debut with her new CHANGE (Kill Rock Stars). The album — which arrives just in time to celebrate the legendary singers fortieth anniversary in the musical spotlight — marks a milestone for Wilson, abounding with pop creativity, ingenious production, confident songcraft, and deeply felt emotion.
★★ “This music is beautiful,” she says. “And I love beautiful.”
★★ CHANGE began for Wilson nearly a decade ago upon her part~time return to her hometown of Athens, GA. She first encountered local musician Ryan Monahan when his Beatles tribute band was hired to play her son’s birthday party — “One of the best parties ever,” says Wilson. The veteran vocalist and talented young musician began teaming up for gigs, beginning with R.E.M.’s star~studded 30th anniversary event.
★★ “Ryan and drummer Lemuel Hayes and I put together a few songs and it was fantastic,” Wilson says. “That started our own musical relationship.”
★★ Wilson and her new bandmates continued performing together, first playing classic garage and psychedelic covers but ultimately deciding to create new music all their own. They hit the studio in 2014, with local producer~musician Suny Lyons manning the board. The songs and sonic concepts flowed like the Broad River, leading Wilson to invite Lyons to join her fast developing combo.
★★ “We went to Suny’s studio to kick around ideas and see if we can do anything interesting,” Wilson says. “We wanted to see how our styles would blend. He comes from a totally different place than I do but I was great. It also became immediately clear we had to bring Suny in to be part of the band, he also had wonderful ideas. I had a really great team.”
★★ Backed by her gifted collaborators, Wilson developed a distinctive sound that is both utterly contemporaneous and also rooted in her long history of kaleidoscopic pop reinvention. A pair of EPs — SUNRISE and SUPERNATURAL — introduced the world to Wilson’s modern vision, with both EPs acclaimed by PopMatters for possessing “an undeniable sense of adventure.”
★★ Produced by Lyons at The Space Station in Athens, CHANGE is as bold as anything in Wilson’s groundbreaking four decade canon, melding future pop, disco drama, American standards, electronica, and more into her own distinctive creative vision. New songs like “Mystic” and the transformative title track are intricate and inventive, lush and luminous with strings, synthesizers, harmonies, and Wilson’s utterly distinct vocal magic.
★★ “Our sound is both consistent and still evolving,” Wilson says. “All these ingredients come together from left field to create something really interesting.”
★★ Further album highlights include a pair of unexpected covers: a widescreen orchestral rendition of New Colony Six’s soft rock classic, “Things I’d Like to Say,” and “Brother,” written and originally performed by Athens’ own beloved Oh~OK.
★★ “We played a show, Athens musicians playing songs by other Athens bands,” Wilson says. “We did an R.E.M. song, a Pylon song, and ‘Brother’ by Oh~OK, which turned out so great we decided it had to be on record. It hits you over the head; it’s an interesting texture. It brings the album home I think.”
★★ Though she is fast to praise her musical partners’ contributions, the center of CHANGE is Wilson’s instantly identifiable voice, as radiantly human as anything in her prior work only now being showcased in heretofore~unprecedented fashion.
★★ “My voice is very rustic,” she says with a smile. “It has a realness that I hope comes through.”
★★ A veteran of one of pop’s most consistently entertaining live acts, Wilson is heralding CHANGE with an unprecedented multimedia concert tour. Merging conceptual structure, unique visuals, and kicked off in March with SXSW, Wilson and her bandmates are touring the US (in a van, it should be mentioned).
★★ “The show is totally different from anything I’ve done before,” Wilson says. “It has an incredible flow, from beginning to end. The great thing about touring a show like this is you can solve problems and tweak things as you go along.”
★★ With CHANGE, Cindy Wilson has once again remade pop in her own innovative, irresistible image. Excited and energized by the experience, the iconic artist is already looking forward to her next evolution.
★★ “Everyone has other bands, other jobs,” Wilson says. “I’ve got the B~52s’ fortieth anniversary, there’s a lot going on with that. At the same time, I’m very committed to this record and continuing to perform with these guys. We’re trying to go into the studio at least once a month, to continue working creatively and keep the songs coming. We’re still experimenting, still growing, but it retains a certain sound. I feel very comfortable in this band. I’m loving it.” Bandcamp: https://cindywilson.bandcamp.com/album/change-2 © Photo credit: Sean Dunn
Interview: by Ilana Kaplan
★★ While The B~52s have been enjoying their 40th anniversary, seminal member Cindy Wilson has some celebrating of her own to do. After releasing two EPs during the past two years, Wilson is finally putting out a solo full~length.
★★ It’s hard to believe this is the first album Wilson is putting out throughout the entirety of her career. With her forthcoming LP CHANGE, Wilson was able to experiment with her own creativity and learn about music in an entirely different light. The result is something melodic, calm even, and at times fueled by disco~tinged rhythms.
★★ Although CHANGE is a solo effort, Wilson talks about it as a collective project: one she did with collaborators Suny Lyons and Ryan Monahan. In addition, drummer Lemuel Hayes assisted with the writing and recording of CHANGE, as he and Monahan have been performing with Wilson for several years. Suny eventually joined the team after he was brought in as an engineer and producer for the project. For Wilson, she sees the collaborative record as an art~piece: something that should be enjoyed in full, which is why the live component is so important to her (she’s touring in support of the record).
★★ Leading up to its release, we’re premiering the breezy, 70s~inspired track “No One Can Tell You” today (Sept. 5). Wilson filled Billboard in on the new single, going the PledgeMusic route with her record and how she’s changed along with the music industry.
Why release your debut album now?
★★ We’ve been writing and experimenting to be creative. A friend of mine, Ryan Monahan, is such a good musician, and we just decided to go into the studio and kick it around for fun. We weren’t expecting anything, really. It turned out great, and I met Suny Lyons... it was his studio. It became really clear that Suny would have to be a part of the project because he’s full of ideas and melodies. The band was starting to form early on. After about three years, we’ve had enough songs to put out.
★★ I decided I didn’t want it just to be an album: there was no live show to go with it. The music comes alive when you actually perform it in front of a crowd. Last February, we went to SXSW and had the show rehearsed. We performed, did a lot of interviews and met Portia [Sabin] from Kill Rock Stars. They were really interested in helping us with the project and putting it out. To me, it was really crucial to have that partnership. The record is coming out in November, which is fantastic — I’m really pleased with the way it turned out.
What’s going on with the B~52s?
★★ We’re on our 40th anniversary. It’s going to be a very busy year for The B~52s too. Life isn’t always like this, so you just have to go forward and embrace it. That’s what we’re going to do: tour with the solo project as well. The B~52s will definitely be playing, but the solo project is separate.
Can you tell me about the disco~tinged sound you crafted? What were you listening to when you made the record?
★★ Tame Impala and I love the psychedelia. To me it sounds like Blind Faith and old bands from back in the freak days. It just hit a nerve to me. I was just really feeling that sound. I think Suny was into electronica. He had a lot of great ideas about that. Ryan comes up with beautiful melodies and is such a fantastic musician and vocalist. It’s really fun to be harmonizing and doing male vocals. I’ve always harmonized with Kate [Pierson], so it’s cool to be harmonizing with guys. It’s the influence of all of the people in the band.
Tell me about the single “No One Can Tell You.”
★★ That was one of the earlier songs we came up with. I have my own interpretation, and I hate to put out my interpretation because to another person the lyrics have a different meaning. We’ve never done that, so I’m not going to do that. I’ve been learning to sing in a different way on this project, so I had to really calm down. It’s like acting almost: you don’t need to put out so much of your emotions, but just enough to get the meaning across. I think it really helps with the emotions and the music.
Why did you go through PledgeMusic for this record?
★★ That’s the modern thing to do! I’m learning a lot from younger musicians. This is what you do these days, and it helps with promotion and gets the audience involved. It’s a lot of fun, too. It’s totally different than the world of the B~52s. I get to start over again and do it the way everyone else is doing it these days. We’ve gotten offers to cook people’s dinners. It helps with paying for the project and paying people’s salaries. It’s been a really fantastic time learning so much.
Do you feel like this is going to be the first of many solo records for you?
★★ We’ve got songs that are halfway done for the second [record]. We’re still writing and are taking the time to meet. It’s really going to be hectic to keep the creative side of it going as well.
Is there a theme to the record?
★★ It seems to be an inward look into the soul for me. It’s one of those albums like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band where the album just flows. It’s an art project where you come to see the live show. It’s a mixed~media event. It’s like a musical.
How did you come up with the title CHANGE?
★★ We were sitting around trying to come up with a good name for it that would express the body of work for it. CHANGE seemed to be a clear and precise name for it. It’s a change for me to leave the world of the B~52s, and also be able to change and have a different creative outlet.
Do you care if B~52s fans enjoy your record? Are you targeting those fans?
★★ We’re targeting whoever it speaks to. There are fans that are curious and coming over. I’ve had the most incredible notes [about it] — that they didn’t know what to expect, but were blown away by the whole project.
You’ve said yourself the music industry has changed in your eyes. How so? How have you been affected by it?
★★ When The B~52s started in the late ‘70s, music and the business was totally different. Obviously it’s easier for everyone to be able to work with music, record and get good quality. There are a lot of good bands now, and it’s hard to compete with so many bands. At the same time, it’s wonderful because more people get to work in music because it’s good for the soul. I’ve told older friends to pick up the guitar because it’s a great way to express yourself. It’s not all about making money: it’s about creating art and working with other people. It’s a journey, and it’s a really fun thing to do.
★★ In the old days as The B~52s, we had to make our own fun. With the solo stuff, we were unpretentious about it. We were just seeing how things go. Every step of the way we’ve proved ourselves. I’m glad we’re getting to start over again because this is where the thrill of building comes in. That’s what The B~52s had, and that’s what this project has as well. ★★ https://www.billboard.com/
GABE ECHAZABAL JUL 26, 2017 9 AM
≥ It’s obvious you love music and that you’re still passionate about it. It never feels like you’re just doing a job and your enthusiasm for it and for your newer music really shines through.
★★ Well that’s what it’s all about. You know, if you’re not having fun, then go home! (laughs)
The Duck Club Touring
firstname.lastname@example.org © Photo credit: Emily Nutson, Cindy Wilson
|Cindy Wilson — Change (Dec. 1st, 2017)|