Inside Prince's 'PlectrumElectrum' and 'Pretzelbodylogic' Listening Party
Before Prince showed up to his own post-Super Bowl, post-New Girl listening party at The Darby in Chelsea, the focus wasn't really about the celebrity of Prince and his five body guards that moved in perimeter around him at all times. It was ostensibly about getting a sampling of his long-in-the-works album, Plectrum Electrum.
Led by Damaris Lewis, an ESPN swimsuit model who has been dancing with Prince on tour for two years, his new band 3rdeyegirl took the stage. The lean trio, composed of Donna Grantis (guitar), Hannah Ford (drums) and Ida Nielsen (bass) strolled up on to the tiny stage in a line just after midnight, and begin coyly demure about the new album, with their excitement bubbling just beneath. "This is the first time anyone else other than us has heard it," said Nielson. "So come on we really want to know what you think!"
To the corps of press people and VIP friends of friends who really didn't know what to expect of the evening, the songs we heard aligned with much of the rock-heavy one-offs that Prince has been leaking out through his website over the year, 3rdeyegirl.com.
There was a running theme to the night. Whenever someone got up on the mic, whether it was one of the 3rdeyegirls or hip hop legend Doug E. Fresh on the decks, we heard a similar refrain like what was surrounding Random Access Memories: This is real music by real musicians. For Prince's 36th official album, he sounds stripped down, back to the essentials, and definitely back to the guitar.
"The album was completely recorded live, analog, old-school," said Nielsen. "It's going to pull something inside of you that you may not be feeling listening to music these days."
The first single "Pretzelbodylogic" is emblematic of the album: thick low-end, with a big focus on overdriven guitars, riff-based funk rock. I wrote down "Lenny Kravitz" but I also wrote down "Jet?" during it. It is assuredly the meanest-sounding Prince song in a while, all snarls and leather jackets and pants (with heels). This will probably be said a lot surrounding the album, but the motto for PlectrumElectrum might be: Lose Yrself 2 Funk Rock.
By the time Prince's crew previewed the second track, "FunkNRoll", there was a more noticable din thanks in no small part to Prince covering the bar bill for the crowd. Another image for this album is that it has a very L.A. studio feel to it, like ripped from the Sunset Strip or a particularly sexy night at The Roxy. Maybe that was just the vibe of the evening, with a variety of celebrities and musicians milling about including Kyeshia Cole, Tyson Beckford, Liv Warfield, and apparently NSACAR driver Jeff Gordon was there (there were also murmurs of Dave Chapelle showing up, but unless that happened after 5:00 a.m. (which is entirely possible) I didn't see him). Then Prince showed up
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