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Pop Making Sense
by David Byrne with Tony Peregrin

This article shared 2159 times since Wed Mar 28, 2012
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It takes something extra to stand out as a girl group nowadays. Xelle (pronounced "X-elle") features a blonde, a brunette and the drag queen Mimi Imfurst. The group's latest single, "Invincible," benefits GLSEN. Here, the trio provides an uplifting ditty over a dance beat with the message, "You're invincible/No one can bring you down." In the accompanying video, youths show messages on index cards in between news reels and footage of Xelle. "Invincible" can be found on iTunes.

Idina Menzel has me "Over the Moon" with her concert album Live: Barefoot at the Symphony. Her banter with the Toronto audience is humorous, especially as she recounts a failed attempt at trying to wow her gay professor. The mention of her role on Glee gets a big reaction before her reworking of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." The Tony winner salutes her idol, Barbra Streisand, with the medley "Funny Girl/Don't Rain on My Parade." Her award-winning role in Wicked is revisited with a magical rendition of "Defying Gravity." Live: Barefoot at the Symphony is out now via Concord Records. Menzel performs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia, 418 Sheridan, Highland Park, on Sunday, July 8.

In case Streisand does not want to make a big deal of her looming 70th birthday, Steven Brinberg will handle the honors with a tribute to the diva Thursday, March 29, at Davenport's Piano Bar, 1383 N. Milwaukee Ave. Female impersonator Brinberg does a hilarious version of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore," whereby he singlehandedly delivers both the male and female vocals on this standard. Brinberg's keepsake, Simply Barbra Live in London, is out now on Jay Records.

When a singer with a voice like Javina Magness' makes a demand, heed the call. Her latest, Stronger for It, opens with the fiery "There It Is," where she shows her vocal chops. On "I Won't Cry," she establishes her fortitude by revealing, "I get cut, I might bleed, but I won't cry." The set's highlights include modernizations of Ike & Tina Turner's "You Got What You Wanted" and Gladys Knight's "I Don't Want to Do Wrong."

When Magness won the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year at the 2009 Blues Awards, she had the distinct honor of being the only woman other than Koko Taylor to receive this recognition.

Magness serves as ambassador for Foster Care Alumni of America and is a spokesperson for Casey Family Programs' National Foster Care Month.

On Friday, March 30, Magness will have a release party for Stronger for It at Space, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston.

On Let It Burn, Ruthie Foster closes the gap on blues, gospel and rock, as witnessed on her smashing remake of Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain." William Bell guests on his original "You Don't Miss Your Water" as a duet. Here, they sing over a stunning accompaniment prominently featuring a saxophone and organ. "Lord Remember Me" and "The Titanic" boast a choir chant, showing off Let It Burn's Southern influence. Foster reaches a higher state with the superb cover of the late John Martyn's "I Don't Want to Know," as she draws out the song's pace. The lesbian Grammy nominee proves she still can jam on the irresistible take on Crosby, Stills and Nash's "Long Time Gone" with the Blind Boys of Alabama. This fantastic set also includes Foster's own penned material, "Welcome Home" and "Lord Remember Me."

Foster has a concert at Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Ct., Schaumburg, on Saturday, March 31, and another at Space Friday, June 22.

In the process of following up 2008's We Started Nothing, the Ting Tings scrapped an entire album of material. The duo makes a notable return with Sounds from Nowheresville. The lead single, "Hang It Up," has the pair's affinity for a retro vibe with a groove that would make the Red Hot Chili Peppers proud. "Hang It Up" can be heard on spots for ABC's Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. "Hit Me down Sonny" and "Guggenheim" will keep the party going where the previous hits "That's Not My Name" and "Shut up and Let Me Go" left off. The pair will be at The Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., on Tuesday, April 3. Sadly, drummer Jules del Martino loses some of his hotness factor with his overgrown beard and cigarette-smoking.

Although I thought it was a known matter, Gillian Anderson confirmed that she has had relationships with women. What does this have to do with music? In 1997, the X-Files actress provided vocals on the electronic masterpiece "Extremis" by HAL. The video finds Anderson dreaming that she plays a voyeur while a couple covered in metallic body paint grinds and kisses.

In the wake of Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut, advertisers have pulled out of sponsoring the conservative's show. Peter Gabriel and Rush are insisting that their music will not be used again on Limbaugh's program. Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" was playing in the background when the host hurled insults at the Georgetown Law student. Similarly, Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello responded once his band's track, "Sleep Now in the Fire," was featured on Limbaugh's show. Morello tweeted, "To Rush Limbaugh: Hey Jackass, stop using our music on your racist, misogynist, right wing clown show. Sincerely, Rage Against the Machine" March 8.

Upcoming shows

and releases


—Javina Magness at Space on Friday, March 30

—Ruthie Foster at Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts on Saturday, March 31

—Melissa Ferrick at Space on Saturday, March 31 with Edie Carey and Sunday, April 1, with Anne Heaton

—Ting Tings at The Metro on Tuesday, April 3

—Nero at Congress Theater on Saturday, April 7

—Big Freedia at Empty Bottle on Friday, April 13

—Rachael Sage at ACE Bar on Friday, April 13

—Matt Alber at Jackhammer on Saturday, April 14

—Live from Daryl's House with Daryl Hall and Sharon Jones at Auditorium Theatre on Monday, April 16

—Putting on the Ritz Presents Judy at Carnegie at Mayne Stage with two shows on both Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21

—Diana Ross at The Venue on Friday, April 27

—Amy Ray at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday, May 15

Noteworthy spring releases:

—Amy Ray — Lung of Love

—Cowboy Junkies — Wilderness

—Garbage — Not Our Kind of People (May 15)

—Ian Wilson — This Is Water (May 12)

—Idina Menzel — Live: Barefoot at the Symphony

—Joan Osborne — Bring It on Home

—Madonna — MDNA

—Matt Alber — Constant Crows

—Rufus Wainwright — Out of the Game (May 1)

—School of Seven Bells — Ghostory

—Sinead O'Connor — How about I Be Me (And You Be You)?


This article shared 2159 times since Wed Mar 28, 2012
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