Gary Clark Jr.
Ever since 2010, when Gary Clark Jr. wowed audiences with electrifying live sets everywhere from the Crossroads Festival to Hollywood’s historic Hotel Café, his modus operandi has remained crystal clear: “I listen to everything…so I want to play everything.” Anyone who gravitated towards Clark’s, 2011’s Bright Lights EP heard both the evolution of rock and roll and a savior of blues. The following year’s full-length debut, Blak And Blu, illuminated Clark’s vast spectrum. “Please Come Home” is reminiscent of Smokey Robinson, while “Ain’t Messin’ Around” recalls Sly and the Family Stone. 2014’s double disc Gary Clark Jr–Live projected Clark into 3D by adding palpable dimension and transcendent power –– songs soared and drifted from the epic, psychedelic-blues of “When My Train Comes In” to his anthemic, hip-hop, rock-crunch calling card “Bright Lights,” all the way down to the deep, dark, muddy water of “When The Sun Goes Down.”
Now, after spending the last five years transforming audiences from the California desert to the London metropolis, acquiring fans like Barack Obama, Keith Richards, Alicia Keys, and Beyoncé along the way, the 6’4 Texan needs to spread his musical wings wider. This exhibition will be Clark’s second full-length worldwide album, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, which is due from Warner Bros. Records on September 11th. The title’s inspiration is one-half Clark’s Southern roots — those singers and local musicians who saw the future in this young man –– and other half his acting debut in John Sayles’ 2007 film Honeydripper. A 23-year-old Clark played the fictitious Sonny (in fact, already his family-given nick-name), a young musician who transformed blues and R&B into rock and roll. On his latest, Clark isn’t trying to reinvent any wheel. He’d rather deploy as many wheels as possible in order to lead music fans toward his favorite destinations.
Albert Hammond Jr.
In a portion of his book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, astronomer Carl Sagan explores the vastness of the universe and the unique position of the human race in relation to it and within it. The phrase “momentary masters” resonated with Albert Hammond Jr.—at first he found something humorous in this egotistical notion that one could fully master anything, but it also underscored the truism that every triumph is fleeting.
“I feel like the best songs I’ve written, as soon as I was done, I was like, “Oh my God, I did it!’ But in that split second that it comes, that feeling goes,” he explains. “It’s the same thing when you find complete happiness, you find this complete low. I feel like that’s what being creative is: It’s you bouncing with emotion and what you capture in those bounces. Accept where you are and use it.”
Thus Hammond Jr. has called his third solo album Momentary Masters—due to drop on July 31st in the US via Vagrant Records. Many years have passed since the release of his two solo records, 2006’s Yours to Keep and 2008’s ¿Cómo Te Llama?, and truthfully, the person who created those songs is in a very different place now. Back then Hammond Jr. was swept up in a whirlwind, one-fifth of The Strokes, indulging in an intoxicating cocktail of excess and all-consuming romances. When he finally sobered up, getting back into writing music was a daunting challenge.