The weird personal thing for me about this clip of Chris Cornell performing "I Will Always Love You" is that I found it playing around with the YouTube app on my GoogleTV.
When you read things like Anatomy of a Tear-Jerker, which uses psychomusicology to explain the popularity of Adele, do you end up liking the artist more or less?
It seemed as though Die Antwoord would probably disappear after their last album, but they have mysteriously resurrected themselves in high fashion. In addition to that thrilling appearance on Letterman a couple nights ago, they've found their way into the Alexander Wang campaign:
Sasha thinks that MIA not should have apologized for flipping the bird. I guess, sure? But that seems a particularly red shade of herring. As someone wrote on my Facebook wall when I asked "What exactly was she trying to say by flipping you off?":
That at the last instant, after making the song, being in the video, going through gigantic rehearsals, meeting with execs from the NFL and NBC, and Madonna's handlers, she felt she had to do something, anything in reaction to the massive, moneyed, orchestrated alternate really bubble she'd already bought into a thousand times over leading up to that moment.
Or it's pure ego, and she wanted the attention.
So, two questions:
1) Who exactly is MIA flipping off? It's you, right?
2) What exactly is she trying to say with this?
Lana Del Rey is exactly what I was hoping to inspire when I took on the male rock establishment almost twenty years ago with my debut record, Exile In Guyville.
In other SNL music act news, I think Bon Iver is the new Michael McDonald.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
3) Man or Muppet. The most fantastic moment in the new muppets movie.
5) Rap Genius. Most people know about this already, but quickly: Its a wikipedia for hip-hop, but with the crowd supplying the meaning of lyrics. The interface is clever: line-by-line lyrics that you can click on and define. For instance, heres Kreayshawns Gucci Gucci which kindly explains that Chickenhead is old slang for a girl, sometimes an MC, who sleeps with a group of (usually popular/prolific) male rappers/emcees to get on their good side/get a boost up in their popularity and sales. See also: Rap Map.
NYT's profile of Girl Talk is a good read and has some fun anecdotes, but check out this online audio feature they put together to accompany it: musical mash-ups from the last 104 years. Mostly just excerpts, but you can find almost all of the full tracks on YouTube.
Spencer Tweedy (Jeff Tweedy's 14-year-old son who is apparently friends with Tavi) got a homework assignment.
A few weeks ago, my algebra class was assigned a project called "Mathematic Karaoke," for which were told to pick a song, make it about numbers (and stuff), and record ourselves singing it.
He reworked Beyonce as "Single Digits (Put A Line On It)" and it's pretty great.
Somehow their inside joke -- a bunch of Midwestern bros (members of Bon Iver, Solid Gold, Dosh, and Megafaun; rappers Dessa and P.O.S. from Doomtree) coming together to make fun of the idea of an "upper Midwestern indie rock supergroup" -- snowballed into something real. They actually started to get treated like an upper Midwestern indie rock supergroup. They were actually signed by an indie label, Jagjaguar.
And they say the mystery is dead.
That NYT Mag profile of The National was one of the stranger things to pop up in recent years, but they are streaming the new album over there, so there's that.
My friend Melissa's awesome slideshow in Vulture: The Cheesiest Cheeseball Guitarists of All Time! On Vinnie Vincent:
Vinnie Vincent was such a guitar-soloing egomaniac, he got kicked out of the band known as the Vinnie Vincent Invasion. He was also fired from KISS. Three times. Once for "alleged unethical behavior": Hopeful fans have speculated that he was axed for wearing women's clothing, but really, both bands were probably tired of him (a) insisting on playing his guitar with a samurai sword and (b) repeating one extremely irritating chord for two and a half minutes (as he did on the song "Invasion"). Gotta hand it to the guy: he might not have been reliable, but he sure was consistent.
The new M.I.A. video that YouTube won't let you watch. (YouTube is the new MTV?)
which side were you on the battle of britpop?
the correct answer is: blur.
so when the gorillaz started doing their thing, i was on board, and fascinated by how they would keep up the pretense. last night's stephen colbert reveals the answer - which is to say they keep it up in a half-hearted way - but i do dig the song.
meanwhile why can't i find a video showing me animated groupies at a gorillaz show?
is miley cyrus a liberal trojan horse into the country music world? or does this guy just really, really hate her? also, if you want to feel the warm embrace of the country community, do scroll down into comments, because it's fun to call a teenager a tramp. -- FB
so, some people who made the important parts of MySpace are leaving. is this anything? -- FB
i said i wouldn't blog about robots, but i guess i lied.
AV Club disses it, but I lurve the laser keyboard. -- FB
something about this makes me think LCD Soundsystem is taunting Ok Go. [rex, how do i embed videos in this rickety contraption you've got here?] -- FB
Did you spend most of your early twenties with a coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other, talking about Kafka and Nietzsche while Explosions in the Sky or Tortoise played in the background? If so, then you might be happy to learn that Godspeed You! Black Emperor are having a reunion tour of sorts. -NA
If it sounds like music written by 18-year-olds, it's because it is. It's a trashy Strokes-meets-Arctic Monkeys mix of moroseness and fuck-you swagger - and the drunker you get, the better it sounds. -NA
Among the many upsides to new Broken Social Scene disc Forgiveness Rock Record releasing on May 4th is that your torrid summer love affair/fling will now have a soundtrack. -NA
After 14 years, Roky Erickson has a new album coming out and Okkervil River is the backing band. Here's a single, as well as a new recording of "Goodbye Sweet Dreams" with the band. More on his website including some videos of Erickson in conversation with Will Sheff -JM
You've got 4 days left to hear this Radio 4 episode on electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire, best known for her work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop including the theme for Doctor Who. -JM
Your moment of interactive zen: Data/Booty. (This is Rex, btw. Joanne wouldn't link to this trash!)
In case you missed it, there's a new LCD Soundsystem song (which is reminiscent of early Blur, right?):
Album coming in May.
"Anthems for a 17-year-old Girl" by Broken Social Scene is one of my favorite songs of all time. In concert, you never get to hear Emily Haines sing it anymore though. Except at SXSW.
Your favorite BBC Radio 1 DJ for the
next 5 minutes rest of the afternoon : Ras Kwame. Streaming on BBC1 Player and by download from his Ning Network. Featuring the best in Funky House, Dancehall, Dubstep & more... via the British Music Embassy at SXSW (which was awesome) :DS
So cute: Spoon's Britt Daniel talks to NPR's World Cafe about "found" lyrics and says that sometimes, when he hears something funny in a conversation, he'll text himself so he won't forget it. (Yep. That's all I've got on this most slow of snow days. But the link will take you to a live Spoon performance and that has to be worth something, right? It's only twenty minutes but they close with "I Summon You!") --FD
If you like the Flaming Lips, you may feel like an amateur fan when you read this conversation between Matthew Perpetua of Fluxblog and Mark Richardson of Pitchfork about their 90s-era music--but you'll enjoy it anyway. Richardson, who wrote the newish 33 1/3 book on The Flaming Lips' 1997 Zaireeka, discusses the importance of Wayne Coyne's age difference with Kurt Cobain, the band's early theatricals and their consequent influence on bands like Of Montreal, the contrast they set against 90s grunge grimness and much more. --FD
[Note: I originally wrote that Richardson discussed Coyne's "mild schizophrenia" but that was actually in reference to former guitarist Ronald Jones.]
A sad musical, or the saddest musical? "The Last Goodbye," a rock version of "Romeo and Juliet" told through the songs of Jeff Buckley, is set to open in the 2010-2011 season. --FD
Clem Snide, one of my favorite bands, has a new album coming out tomorrow. The Meat of Life, which you can listen to in its entirety here (until tomorrow only), has gotten largely positive early reviews as an album that's a focused and smooth--if maybe too smooth--return to excellence. --FD
Why Lady Gaga is the Ultimate Social [Media] Climber: an analysis of why Gaga has become one the most sought-after celebrity endorser by using social media and how that makes her type of endorsement different than others' ("It's not about her putting her name on something -- it's reinvigorating a brand"). I don't really get the appeal, but the people who made her MAC Viva Glam lipstick the biggest seller in the campaign's 16-year history sure seem to! --FD
The Wall Street Journal has a great article on how difficult it is to get a good band name today because they are all taken. For example, Them Crooked Vultures were supposed to be called Caligula before Dave Grohl realized there are at least seven acts named after the decadent Roman emperor, including a defunct techno outfit from Australia. --MM
The song is in D minor, but that chord first comes in at the 7th beat of the 16 bar progression. So when the song ends cold on the first note of that progression, it ends on Bb. This gives the listener a subtle feeling of an unfinished song, even though it ended on the 1st beat, which is typical of most songs. By not resolving the chord, the listener is more apt to hum the song and therefore more likely to need to listen to it again.
--Why Ke$ha went #1... and why it could've been bigger.... Also, chick looks like this:
From Slate's culture blog: The Unbelievably Bad Metaphors in Esquire's Profile of Jay-Z. (Nwah-whah? -- Slate has a culture blog? I guess so. The post about The Weirdest Zip Codes on the New York Times Netflix Map is also good. And if you're into that kinda thing, GQ has a blog too.)
If you slow down Lady Gaga, it sounds like a cross between Metallica and Michael Bolton.
DJ Earworm - United State of Pop 2009 (Blame It on the Pop) - Mashup of Top 25 Billboard Hits: See also: Michaelangelo Matos' list, Top 125 Hot 100 Hits of the 2000s.
Instead of a list of the most played tracks, I'd rather see a list of all the tracks people don't want you to know they listened to: Most Unwanted Scrobbles.
We're living in a stylistic tropics. There's a whole generation of people able to access almost anything from almost anywhere, and they don't have the same localised stylistic sense that my generation grew up with. It's all alive, all "now," in an ever-expanding present, be it Hildegard of Bingen or a Bollywood soundtrack. The idea that something is uncool because it's old or foreign has left the collective consciousness.
-Brian Eno, The Death of Uncool
Hype Williams directs a video with Beyonce and Lady Gaga singing about their video phone. That's all you need to know, but if you want more, The Awl dissects.
I always thought of The Moonwalk as something of a sui generis invention, but this video illustrates that it was an evolutionary process, like everything else.
Your favorite new hippie band for the next five minutes: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, on Letterman.
The entire proposition seems like a boondoggle. I mean, who is interested in old music? And who would want to listen to anything so inconveniently delivered on massive four-inch metal discs with sharp, dangerous edges? The answer: no one. When the box arrived in the mail, I briefly considered smashing the entire unopened collection with a ball-peen hammer and throwing it into the mouth of a lion. But then, against my better judgment, I arbitrarily decided to give this hippie shit an informal listen. And I gotta admit -- I'm impressed. This band was mad prolific.
Given the verse-chorus-verse similarity, this mashup is so painfully obvious that I'm not sure why it took a decade to think of it: Blurvana.
To accompany Kottke's list of 1984 movies, here are some of the album releases from the same year:
Madonna, Like a Virgin
Prince, Purple Rain
The Replacements, Let It Be
Bon Jovi, Bon Jovi
The Smiths, The Smiths
Husker Du, Zen Arcade
Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA
Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime
Metallica, Ride the Lightning
Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense
It's almost like he's talking about the internet!
Jay-Z's "Run This Town" and the Occult Connections. And here we thought that awesome-crazy conspiracy mythology embedded in pop culture died in the '90s! "'Run This Town' is an announcement of the coming of a New World Order, lead by secret (Luciferian) societies." And more:
Further in the song Jay-Z says: "I'm in Maison, ugh, Martin Margiela" which is a upper-end fashion store. English speaking people usually pronounce the French word "maison" to sound like "mayzaun." Jay-Z however says it to sound like "mason" as in Freemason. There is an obvious double-meaning here meant to catch the ear of the listener. He basically says "I'm in Mason" to make people say "huh did he really say that?" as "I'm a Freemason" but he then continues by saying "ugh, Martin Margiela."
Update #1: Jay-Z on Bill Maher. Watch, watch, watch. Update #2: Jay-Z showed up at a Grizzly Bear show. I can finally disagree with the man: "What the indie rock movement is doing right now is very inspiring."
Have you been watching the weird stuff that Beck has been doing online? In record club, he and friends covered all of Velvet Underground & Nico; in planned obsolescence, he's made some post-GirlTalk mixed tapes.
Here's something I think about a lot: In the span of my life, I've seen the coming and passing of many music formats. I vaguely remember 8-tracks, cassettes populate all of my high school memories, walls of CDs took off in college, and records seemed to persist steadily through that entire era. But then there's the MP3. After all of that change in so few years, it now seems likely that I will die with the MP3 as the dominant format. Anyway, this new Pitchfork thing is long, but it's highly recommended: The Social History of the MP3.
20-year-old Hayley Williams of the band Paramore has not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but six Tumblrs dedicated to her. Vulture just went out on a limb and asked, "Is Paramore the greatest lady-fronted rock band in the country?"
I actually own a copy of Lotion's album Nobody's Cool (1996), which infamously (at the time) had liner notes from Thomas Pynchon. Now, 13 years later, it turns out at least part of the back story was a hoax. (Conversely, it seems that the new book trailer is actually narrated by him.) And just to be annoyingly elusive and insinuating, just like the master, I'll add: a prominent dot-com mogul grew up in an apartment right next to Pynchon and describes him as very normal. GUESS WHO!
Your favorite new video for the next five minutes: N.A.S.A.'s Whachadoin?", which features every hipster on the block: M.I.A., Spank Rock, Santogold, Nick Zinner....
"But when we heard London-born R&B tart Cherri V's 'Til The Sun Comes Up' and instantly recognized its utilization of both the '90s grunge-pop behemoth's vocal and guitar melodies, we must admit we were floored: on one hand intrigued by such a ballsy move; on the other, ready to cry out 'blasphemy' over someone actually daring to go through with the idea." You be the judge.
Nirvana vs Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give Your Teen Spirit up. Very well done! [via]
Your favorite video for the next five minutes: "Treat Me Like Your Mother," the Dead Weather. (With musical references to Budgie, Mountain, Rage, and Jon Spencer!)
The kid who leaked Chinese Democracy got two months of home confinement, and zero Dr. Peppers.
Your least favorite video for the next five minutes: "Alcohol," Millionaires. "Every time I'm at the bar / You wanna pay / Go ahead and buy me a drink / You won't get laid." Oh, you kids.
Michael Jackson, James Brown, and Prince on stage together. Prince wins, right?
"Purple Rain really started hip-hop culture, whether the historians want to view it that way or not. You have Prince himself, a very unusual-looking figure, five feet tall -- pretty much anybody considered a musical genius in hip-hop has some sort of odd physical feature, i.e., Biggie's lazy eye. And then the whole idea of beefs -- Prince and Morris. Morris' whole pimp attitude, that was something you didn't hear since the blaxploitation films of the early '70s. Prince sang about sex and he worked with drum machines."
That's ?uestlove in this month's Spin cover story, which is an oral history on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Purple Rain.
My gift to you this fine Friday: Santigold - Southerngold (Terry Urban & Gold Coin Clothing Mixtape). [via]
"Crowd-sourcing killed punk rock." That's Christopher Weingarten 7.5 minutes into his presentation at #140Conf, the Twitter conference earlier this week. (And by "punk rock," he means subculture.) He's reviewing 1,000 albums this year at @1000TimesYes. Here are his highest-rated records so far this year. [via]
I had no idea this existed, publicly: The-Dream's demo for "Umbrella." And just like that, Rihanna's version is now a cover!
Your favorite video for the next five minutes: "Heavy Cross," The Gossip. The video uses Kenneth Anger images and the song is produced by Rick Rubin.
Your favorite video for the next five minutes: "Be By Myself," Asher Roth. Cee-Lo is pretty great in this.
I read somewhere that M.I.A. was making a song about swine flu, but I guess Mike Skinner beat her to it: He's Behind You, He's Got Swine Flu. The zombie thing is interesting, but what intrigues me is this kind of real-time media creation: songs around news events. New genre? [via]
Your favorite video for the next five minutes: Passion Pit, "The Reeling". And another contender for song of the summer.
We Are Hunted, a billboard chart for the P2P Generation. It develops a daily chart of the 99 most popular songs on social networks, forums, music blogs, torrents, and twitter.
Following their SNL appearance, Phoenix just released a video for "Lisztomania," this year's first entry for "song of the summer," if it ever warms up. (The brat pack mashup of the song was better through.)
Points to Sasha for connecting the gap between "real life and the web" by suggesting "these two realms divide the self much as speech and the written word divide language" which connects it all with "the professional songwriting team" which is actually the first graph of a review of The-Dream's new album.
Definitely not your favorite Britney cover for the next five minutes: "Womanizer," Franz Ferdinand.
Leighton Meester (Blair Waldorf) has recorded a new song! And it's not horrible! "Hit the Dance Floor or Leave the Club." (The chorus is muddled, but it's a decent first track.)
Your favorite Robert Longo-inspired video for the next five minutes: "Dancers," Circlesquare. My pal Colin turned me onto Circlesquare just as I was writing my top albums of '08 post, which they should have made. He recently interviewed them in Prefix.
Blender is dead, so now you can rely on Amazon for lists like The 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums Of All Time. (Guided by Voices? Really?)
New Metric video, finally: Gimme Sympathy. I used to adore this band, but this is kinda meh. But the video might look sorta familiar for anyone who has seen Olivier Assayas' Clean. The opening scene is at a Metric show and it segues into a cameo for Emily Haines -- watch it here. Their new album, Fantasies, drops in a few weeks.
Yipe. Blender is bye-bye now too. I didn't subscribe, but several friends got paychecks there.
Your favorite band for the next five minutes: School of Seven Bells. No really, watch the My Bloody Valentine-ish video for "Half Asleep" and then watch this interview with the twins and then say "dream pop" three times while clicking your ruby converse. Then go do a Google Image Search for "Deheza sisters" on your own. Just remember me when this replaces your sicko Taylor Swift / Miley Cyrus fantasy left over from the Grammys.
An inside joke for people who want to be in on the inside joke: Hipster Runoff Exegesis. "An exposition of Carles's philosophy, as expressed in his texts published at the internet weblog Hipster Runoff."
P.O.S. is a Rhymesayers (i.e. Minneapolis hip-hop) act who deserves to break out -- listen to his most recent single. His Mercury Lounge show last month was packed with midwest refugees, but I've been trying to convert the coasties. His background is in hardcore, which he brought with him when he crossed over several years ago. All of this would suggest that covering Pearl Jam's "Why Go?" in his basement would ultimately be the worst mistake ever, but it's surprisingly great. [via]
M.I.A. pounded on her keyboard out came the letters ikhyd. (She's lucky she didn't hit the semi-colon.)
Your favorite music video for the next five minutes: "I'm Not Alone", Calvin Harris. (What shall we call this? How about emo disco?)
Your favorite upcoming youtube star doing girl-on-hipster hate for the next five minutes: Hipster Bitch.
The new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album is all dancey, which might explain why Kanye is now the official leaker for such things. Rather than release a video, you're getting something called "The Scientist" instead.
For old time's sake, let's pretend it's Friday night and you're getting ready to head out into the city on a date with Charlotte Gainsbourg -- not Monday morning in your lonely cubicle: "The Operation"
Your favorite supergroup for the next five minutes: former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, middle Hanson bro Taylor Hanson, Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos, and Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger. Tinted Windows.
In case you missed it, M.I.A. (plus T.I. , Lil Wayne, Jay Z, & Kanye West) on the Grammys last night.
Is Google removing posts with MP3s from music bloggers from its search index? And: are they deleting posts on Blogger that contain those MP3s?
Playboy hires Duff McKagan to write a blog about finance, because, seriously, like any of those other fucking guys know what they're talking about. Sample: "And as for the second one, I am sick and tired of hearing of these Wall Street assholes getting huge bonus packages from our bailout tax dollars. What a lot of these people did to all of us in the first place is just plain criminal. I have never been keen on executives getting golden parachutes; I'm more apt to give them a golden shower." Okay!
On the first day of creation, GodHeadHipster created the Animal Collective record Merriweather Post Pavilion. (He was quite pleased with himself.) On the second day, he ordered Pitchfork to give it a 9.6. (GodHeadHipster already kinda fucked up.) On the third day, Hipster Runoff wrote Animal Collective is a Band Created By/For/On the Internet. (This is when all fucking hell broke loose.) On the fourth day, GodHeadHipster grew angry and told Idolator to jump on board; on the fifth, Spin fell in line. (GodHeadHipster has more loyalists than Obama.) But then on the sixth day, the woeful sixth day, Nick Sylvester told GodHeadHipster to get off his ironic ass and do something about it. (All was not well in the kingdom.) On the seventh day, everyone was too tired to rest. (Realzy: that Sylvester rant is in the running [hipster runoff!] for most inspired pop/internet writing of the year. Read it for this line alone: "Culture is a mating ritual. We are looking for ways to differentiate ourselves so as to attract one another. That is the deep dark secret of everything we do.")
So not to be snotty about this, but what does the new Muxtape offer that MySpace doesn't? Does "less is more" apply in this case? UPDATE: Sasha interviews Justin in the New Yorker and asks a similar question: "But the beauty of MySpace is that anyone can start a page and put music up quickly. I can't think of a musical act that isn't on MySpace. Will acts be able to make Muxtape pages easily, or will they have to go through a submission process?"
Why, exactly, is Billy Joel so bad? "I think I've identified the qualities in B.J.'s work that distinguish his badness from other kinds of badness: It exhibits unearned contempt. Both a self-righteous contempt for others and the self-approbation and self-congratulation that is contempt's backside, so to speak. Most frequently a contempt for the supposed phoniness or inauthenticity of other people as opposed to the rock-solid authenticity of our B.J."
RCRD LBL asked me to do a playlist, which got me thinking about remixes. The accelerated release of music has created a situation where the remix is sometimes released before the original, which leads to some complex blurring of the terminology. But it also led me to ask on Twitter, what's the most remixed song of all time? Most people replied with the notorious "Amen Break," a six-second drum sample that you hear everywhere. My first instinct was to say "that's not a remix -- that's a sample." And the distinction seemed valid. But then the most musicological person I know, Michaelangelo, theorized on Facebook that the answer was in fact "My House" by Chuck Roberts, a house sermon staple. Now here was an intriguing case. When the sermon is used in house music -- such as here, here, and here -- is it a sample or a remix? The answer seems like... both.
Interesting place to see Girl Talk reviewed: Technology Review. It opens at a Girl Talk show in Philly, but winds its way to other mashup artists, such as DJ Earworm and Lenlow. The second page has a create-your-own-mashup app.
I sorta forgot that A.R.E. Weapons was still a band. But "Fuck What You Like" is surprisingly... listenable!
Jon Pareles story on using music to sell products, which mentions that three-fourths of Santogold's songs have already been licensed by advertisers, is a decent survey on the scene, with a new nostalgic twist: longing for the record label.
It was a year that chimed in with idealism, and clanked out with pragmatism. "Hope" began the political season as an optimistic revelation, but concluded the year as a is-that-seriously-the-best-we-can-do? mantra right up there with "don't be evil."
Perfection was the goal, so music set itself to the task of eliminating the blemishes. Auto-Tune diluted the rough edges, but the economy fell apart and Kanye's mom died while undergoing plastic surgery. So much for perfection.
By the end of the year, we were searching for compromises. Once garish, Will.I.Am's take on "Hope" ended up sounding down right utopian.
There's a lot of fun to be had in the albums below, my picks for the best of 2008. Some of you will be disgusted by the likes of Lady GaGa, whose filthy rich party lifestyle is more gaudy than throwing a potlatch outside a homeless shelter (which is not that dissimilar from Kanye's Gucci soliloquy on SNL).
But compare that party-with-what-ya-got materialism to whatever "hopeful" nostalgia that the cosmoblogosphere was scolding you into: Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver and Vampire Weekend. When asked to pick between a luxury simulacra and faux authenticity, I'll take the loot any day. I have no idea where these indie kids found cause to overuse the word "beauty" in this weary pastoral, but this year's Pitchfork bands felt more like a retreat from the future than nothing else since -- fuck, I dunno -- prohibition. Fantasy, indeed.
Then again, I banged my head to Chinese Democracy, so what the fuck, right?
Here they are, my favorite albums of 2008:
1) Girl Talk, Feed the Animals
Depending how you want to construe it, Girl Talk is either the most cynical thing happening in music right now or the only relevant culture for our time. Or you can just ctrl-alt-delete the historicizing and declare it the Finnegans Wake of pop music: a difficult mashup classic that is as fun to discuss as to ingest. (And as my Joycean college mentor would proclaim, dance to.) Nothing this year made me think more about music: how it's created, where it's distributed, how it's discussed, who owns it, how fans have become critics, and how critics have become artists.
2) MGMT, Oracular Spectacular
It wasn't easy, but they survived the summer.
3) Santogold, Santogold
It felt like an eternity between the moment you first heard "L.E.S. Artistes" in 2007 to when the album finally became available. And then another eternity between the album and the inevitable Bud Light commercial. The elongated backlash sine wave was the funnest roller-coaster ride of the year.
4) Juno, Soundtrack
There's a little Mark Loring in all of us. Who? Mark Loring -- that would be Jason Bateman's character in Juno (and one of the many coded references for Minneapolitans -- a memorial to the famed posthumous Loring Bar). Trapped between eras, Loring couldn't find the right place between his rocker past and grown-up future. Like the Alice in Chains tee that his wife (Jennifer Garner) splotches in eggshell yellow, he's ill-equipped for the upgrade. That tension, which is also a prevailing narrative of our time, is the essence of this soundtrack.
5) Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak
Kanye is your needy friend, Kanye is your worst blog commenter, Kanye is your John the Baptist, Kanye is your spoiled crybaby, Kanye is in your closet, Kanye is your form swallowing your content, Kanye is your everything, Kanye is your new bicycle.
6) Lykke Li, Youth Novels
Blonde, Swedish, design-damaged girl makes blippy, sullen, vulnerable album made for dancing around your apartment on a rainy day while waiting for your lipdub to finish uploading to Vimeo. Forget Suicide Girls, she's like the Tumblette of my dreams.
7) Lady GaGa, The Fame
Downtown NYC desperately needs a new hero. The hipsters, who eat their young faster than they can become zygotes, have already chewed up and spit out Lady GaGa, but she's the last great hope for a Madonna-esque crossover from naughty street creature to shiny pop diva.
8) Guns 'N Roses, Chinese Democracy
On the last page of the extensive liner notes, Axl gives his thank-yous for an album that he began recording before Dakota Fanning was born. Like the music itself, it's a hodge-podge of mysterious choices, with recognizable names and places jumping out of the jumble: Donatella Versace, Hoobastank, Suicide Girls, Ferrari, Weezer, SoHo House, Mickey Rourke, Bungalow 8, Apple Computers, Lars Ulrich, and Alice In Chains. If you stare at this list long enough, cross your eyes, spin around a few times, and throw some Hail Mary's at the Falun Gong -- Chinese Democracy sorta begins to makes sense.
9) Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles
This year I almost ceded victory to the music blogs, MySpace, and HypeMachine. The single seemed to finally drive the nail in the jewel case coffin of the album, so I nearly replaced this annual "best albums" list with a "best songs" list. (How else can I tout Teyana Taylor's "Google Me" or The Count & Sinden's "Beeper" or Kid Sister's "Pro Nails" -- songs all released in early 2008 but still have no accompanying albums.) With producers rushing out tunes and leaks fueling an embeddable culture, the time gap between hearing the song and getting the album now seems agonizingly long [see above]. But so what? No one will care about Crystal Castles this time next year, but "Crimewave" was the best Depeche Mode song never made.
10) Beyonce, I Am... Sasha Fierce
Slinging "fierce" into your lexicon at this point is like lighting the fuse on the ticking timebomb of obsolescence. Unless you're Beyonce, who can slap on a robot glove and look like she just dropped in to say hi! from 2012. The futuristic, angry Beyonce songs are always her best, and half of this two-disc package is throw-away R&B, but the other half is loud, bitter, and -- okay sure, whatever you say, Comandante Knowles -- fierce.
33) Foals, Antidotes
My favorite part of Slate's excellent music mega-roundtable extravaganza (beware: 20 pages printed) is near the end when Christgau says: "Do you ever fantasize about being a movie critic? How many releases a year do they suffer through? Five hundred, something like that? Plus some righteous moaning about how the evil mothers at Miramax are holding up the new Kiarostami? Boohoo." (The joke is funny, but I also like the idea of critics thinking about what it would have been like to pick a different field.)
Your favorite song for the next five minutes: Kanye West's "Love Lockdown," remixed by Flying Lotus.
4000 Words From Axl. Good to see he's back to competing with his nemesis Courtney -- but now with crazy internet writing! Or maybe not -- he sounds more like a lawyer than anything else.
More on the Lonely Island CD, Incredibad: 14 new tracks; collaborations with Julian Casablancas, T-Pain, and Jack Black; includes "Lazy Sunday," "Dick in a Box," and "Jizz in My Pants"; tour is possible.
Your favorite song for the next five minutes: "Beggin'", Frankie Valli /The Four Seasons (Pilooski re-edit) (or the original). [via]
For New Yorkers, this event where Thurston Moore discusses the music videos of David Bowie looks cool. Update: nevermind, it's sold out.
Top 10 Samples in Hip-Hop History. Dude rips through The Isley Brothers / Ice Cube, Leon Haywood / Dr. Dre, Freddie Scott / Biz Markie, Herb Alpert / The Notorious B.I.G., Wild Sugar / Beastie Boys. [via]
Because everyone seemed to completely forget about The Hold Steady this year, which is only more proof that history is dying and long-term memory has become short-term memory and short-term memory has become a dream: video for The Hold Steady's "Stay Positive," which is something of an homage to NYC streets.
Chuck reviews Chinese Democracy. Grade: A- (At midnight on September 16, 1991, Chuck and I waited in line outside Budget Tapes and Records in Grand Forks, ND to buy Use Your Illusion I & II. Standing outside a Best Buy in New York, NY on November 22, 2008 sounds less enticing.)
People, people, people. You don't understand. Your quaint rules about ownership -- they don't apply to Kanye.
So yeah, Chinese Democracy? Rolling Stone loves it. (I get the weird feeling that the best conceptual comparison will be Eminem.)
"Oh wait! Hold up! Shout out to the slave masters! Without them we'd still be in Africa. We wouldn't be here to get this ice and tattoos." Oh, Soulja Boy, you so irreverent. Update: apology.
Your favorite song for the next five minutes: MIA & Blaqstarr cover Tom Waits' "Way Down In The Hole." Love.
An update from yesterday's post, some stuff I watched on MTVMusic.com today:
Exactly what you've always wanted out of a MTV website but never got until now: MTVmusic.com. Huge archive of videos, organized by artist (e.g., David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Prince, Madonna, Talking Heads) with an interface that resembles Hulu. This should have existed years ago. Update: MTV Networks also launched an API. (Is someone finally reading my "If I Ran MTV" rants from 2004?)
On the great Notorious B.I.G. / Puffy video you forgot about: Great moments in post-modernism, pt. 1 (More Money, More Problems).
I predict you will enjoy this Clifford Lidell mix done much in the style of Girl Talk. [thnx david]
Vanity Fair chooses the 25 best songs of all time, four of which are from the '30s, but none of which are from '90s or '00s. (The '80s got one -- Grandmaster Flash!)
I've tried to stop publishing GNR rumors, and although this one look more legit than all the others, skepticism is still warranted: Chinese Democracy To Be Sold Exclusively At Best Buy. An entirely new class of people will now be forced to step foot in Best Buy... or more likely, learn how BitTorrent works.
New Yorker: SFJ on Timbaland. "When you hear a rhythm that is being played by an instrument you can't identify but wish you owned, when you hear a song that refuses to make up its mind about its genre but compels you to move, or when you hear noises that you thought couldn't find a comfortable place in a pop song, you are hearing Timbaland, or school thereof."
Girl Talk's very specific mixtape: "Songs To Send To Your Ex-Girlfriend On CD-R When She Moved Away For Three Months And Is Planning On Moving Back To Continue Dating You But Needs A Little Break Right Now"
WSJ uses two Metallica tracks for a visualization that illustrates how the volume has been ramped up on CDs over the past decade. (And we already know Death Magnetic sounds better on Guitar Hero.) The accompanying article asks "Can a Metallica album be too loud?" Very mildly related: Suzanne Vega, the mother of the mp3.
I had a dream last night, and I'm going to tell you about it, even though no one ever wants to hear other people's dreams. I dreamt that 14 years after he supposedly committed suicide, Kurt Cobain came out from hiding and I was the first person to interview him. My first question: "So, whattup?" We chatted while he was performing a surprise show at a hotel bar with a capacity around 500 people but only 50 were there (dreams are weird). He had black hair and still looked boyish. My next question was "Who knew you were alive?" followed by "Where have you been hiding?" Answers: Courtney Love didn't know, and somewhere in L.A. This dream goes on for a while, and you don't care, but I mention it because I just read that Nevermind was released 17 years ago today. You can tell a lot about people by which historical events they choose to insert after the ellipses in "I remember where I was when...." Mine includes knowing my exact location when I first saw the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video. Load up on guns...
The Death of the Music Critic? With Ryan Schreiber, Michael Azerrad, Marua Johnston, and Bill Crandall.
For those who still buy CDs, there's a buy-2-get-1-free sale on $8 albums at Amazon. Decent selection -- you could get Rain Dogs, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and Daydream Nation for a total of $16. [via]
Someone finally asks why 1991: The Year Punk Broke isn't available on DVD. (The answer, via Thurston Moore: Courtney Love.)
When Lil Wayne took the stage to perform "Lollipop" on SNL last weekend, the first thing I noticed was the guitar strapped over his back. I predicted to my live-twittering companion that he's going to Prince crazy at the end. But no -- instead it was possibly the worst guitar solo of all time.
Last month I mentioned aloud about doing some data crunching on the most recent Girl Talk album. Except it wasn't exactly aloud -- I sorta thought Waxy would jump on it. And he did, with greater success than I anticipated. While working on it, he mentioned that he might use Mechanical Turk to churn some of the data. Several interesting data trends emerged, including a plot graph with release dates (and some interesting info on how much Mechanical Turk cost). Most importantly, he provided the data for others to crunch. So we have open source music meets open source data meets crowdsourcing. Nice work!
To refresh your memory, the video. Van Halen's "Right Now" is the theme song for the Republican National Convention, sure to be blasting from the speakers of the hockey area in St. Paul where all the action is going down this week. Across town, Republican booster Sammy Hagar will be performing at First Ave during the convention. "Come on turn, turn this thing around." You got it.
Don't wanna wait 'til tomorrow.
Why put it off another day?
One by one, little problems.
Build up, and stand in our way. Oh!
One step ahead, one step behind it.
Now ya gotta run to get even.
Make future plans I'll dream about yesterday, hey!
Come on turn, turn this thing around.
(Right now) Hey! It's your tomorrow.
(Right now) Come on, it's everything.
(Right now) Catch your magic moment.
Do it right here and now.
It means everything.
Miss a beat, you lose a rhythm.
An nothin' falls into place. No!
Only missed by a fraction.
Slipped a little off your pace. Oh!
The more things you get, the more you want.
Just trade in one for another.
Workin' so hard to make it easy.
Whoa, got to turn. Come on, turn this thing around.
(Right now) Hey, it's your tomorrow.
(Right now) Come on, it's everything.
(Right now) catch that magic moment.
Do it right here and now.
It means everything.
Said a lie to me.
What are ya waitin' for? Oh! Yeah!
(Right now) Hey! It's your tomorrow.
(Right now) Come on, it's everything.
(Right now) Catch that magic moment.
And do it right, right now (Right now).
Oh, right now!
It's what's happening.
Right here and now.
Right now, it's right now.
Tell me, what are ya waitin' for?
Turn this thing around.
I own about 1,500 CDs. The dude with the largest record collection in the world owns about 1 million albums, and 1.5 million singles. Rocketboom interviews him, shot in a style sorta like Errol Morris. He's trying to sell it for $3 million.
This was a big deal in 1994, but it's practically forgotten now: "Satisfaction" covered by Bjork & PJ Harvey.
IFC round-table on entrepreneurial music web projects, hosted by my pal Jim Shearer and featuring Jakob, Maura, and Justin.
Your favorite song for the next five minutes: "10 Things Not To Say To A DJ," Andre Harris. (Actually, you will like this one for a whole day!)
Blender: Obama and McCain pick their top 10 songs. Obama: Kanye, Sinatra, U2, Spingsteen; McCain: ABBA, Sinatra, Beach Boys, Louis Armstrong. Strangely interchangeable.
Some dude does an emo version of the entire Footloose soundtrack, which includes a sad story and a completely new perspective of the '80s.
I've never seen Santogold live, but judging from this performance on FNMTV she's as much soul and rock as hip-hop.
Heffernan knows my beat: Kanye on Keyboards, on my boy's blog. It skips over my favorite elements (the insane commenters and the girl profiles) and glosses over the controversy about ghost-writing, but is otherwise a decent overview.
The Hip-Hop Gods have answered your prayers. Jay-Z stopped by Kanye's Madison Square Garden show to perform something from the previously-rumored-but-now-true Blueprint 3 album. Sounds like Black Album-era Jay-Z, and includes a diss of Oasis. With the crummy sales of the last two albums, this is exactly what Jay-Z needs.
Uh-oh. NYT gives Girl Talk the full feature, focusing on copyright, which could be the beginning of the end. Andy thinks the lawsuit drops with the physical album next month, which seems like a decent bet.
This is surprising and also good news from the music industry: Avril Lavigne has made over $2 million this year off YouTube due to the ads on the video for "Girlfriend". Update from the comments: there's no check written yet.
YOU'RE SO VAIN
You walked into the party
Like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf it was apricot
You had one eye in the mirror
As you watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they'd be your partner
They'd be your partner, and
You're so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You're so vain
I'll bet you think this song is about you
Don't you? Don't you?
You had me several years ago
When I was still quite naive
Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair
And that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved
And one of them was me
I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and
You're so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You're so vain
I'll bet you think this song is about you
Don't you? Don't you?
I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and
You're so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You're so vain
I'll bet you think this song is about you
Don't you? Don't you?
Well, I hear you went up to Saratoga
And your horse naturally won
Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun
Well, you're where you should be all the time
And when you're not, you're with
Some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend
Wife of a close friend, and
You're so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You're so vain
I'll bet you think this song is about you
Don't you? Don't you?
Your favorite video starring Natalie Portman for the five minutes: "Carmensita," Devendra Banhart.
Girl Talk threatens legal action for copyright infringement. (Haha, not really.)
Slate revisits Jay-Z's cover of "Wonderwall" at Glastonbury: The Problem of Cross-Genre Covers.
Hey....Hey...da da da da
I feel uptight when I walk in the city
I feel so cold when I'm at home
Feels like everything's starting to hit me
I lost my bed ten minutes ago
Modern guilt I'm staring at nothing
Modern guilt I'm under lock and key
It's not what I have changed,
Turning into convention
Don't know what I've done but I feel ashamed
Standing outside the glass room sidewalk
These people talk about impossible things
And I'm falling down the conversations
Another palm beats into you
Modern guilt is all in our hands
Modern guilt won't get me to bed
Say what you will
Smoking my cigarette
Don't know what I've done but I feel afraid
Da da da...
Da da da...
Da da da...
As always, without comment...
THIS YEAR'S GIRL
See her picture in a thousand places
Cause she's this year's girl.
You think you all own little pieces
Of this year's girl.
Forget your fancy manners,
Forget your English grammar,
Cause you don't really give a damn
About this year's girl.
Still you're hoping that she's well-spoken
Cause she's this year's girl.
You want her broken with her mouth wide open
Cause she's this year's girl.
Never knowing it's a real attraction,
All these promises of satisfaction,
While she's being bored to distraction
Being this year's girl.
Time's running out. She's not happy with the cost.
There'd be no doubt, only she's forgotten
Much more than she's lost.
A bright spark might corner the market
In this year's girl.
You see yourself rolling on the carpet
With this year's girl.
Those disco synthesizers,
Those daily tranquilizers,
Those body building prizes,
Those bedroom alibis,
All this, but no surprises for this year's girl.
All this, but no surprises for this year's girl.
All this, but no surprises for this year's girl.
All this, but no surprises for this year's girl.
All this, but no surprises for this year's girl.
All this, but no surprises for this year's girl.
Whoa! Someone has started a project to do a video version of Girl Talk's Feed The Animals, with part 2 and part 3 of what looks like a 14-episode adventure now on YouTube. (Side note: I was thinking the other day about doing a database journalism project with the album, breaking it all down into statistical units. There's all sorts of metadata: sample lengths, year the songs originally appeared, genre, etc. With all this data, you could crunch the numbers to reveal some new information. For instance, I'd like to know the median year-of-release of all the samples. That sounds interesting to me!)
Your first opportunity to hear a track from Chinese Democracy will be via Rock Band. My head just imploded, I threw up in my mouth, I spewed my coffee, it's the end of the world as we know it, the future is now, music is dead, this is advanced, truth is stranger than fiction, OMFG.
Subterranean's special celebrating the 20-year anniversary of Sub Pop. There was a huge party in Seattle last weekend.
Once and for all, how do you pronounce MGMT? (Answer: each letter spelled out, not "management.")
Your favorite video that aspires to be raunchier than American Apparel b-roll for the next five minutes: "Stalker," Louis XIV.
At the Ben Gibbard show the other night, Caroline wondered aloud about the origin of yelling "Free Bird" at shows. I said Wikipedia must have the answer, and it does. Strangely, or perhaps not, its origin has to do with Skynyrd not playing the song during an encore at a 1976 show. Crowd chants can be heard on the live album One More From The Road before the band returned for its second encore, when it of course played "Free Bird." So there ya go. (Update: more in this WSJ article, including the Bill Hicks stuff that Mat mentions in the comments.)
What do European kids think about American culture? Chuck is in Germany finding out.
The proliferation of media has made it virtually impossible to tell the difference between a) what information is unilaterally interesting, and b) what information is merely available. I used to think Richard Nixon and Ryan Adams had nothing in common, but I now realize I was wrong -- they both share an equal potential to be randomly fascinating to Germans.
I simply adore how Kanye uses his blog as a receptacle for hot actress images that he snags from other sites. And then he writes a little bit of biographic text, just in case you didn't know who Megan Fox or Sienna Miller were. This man is genius.
Oh yeah, that Hercules & Love Affair album dropped today. Plaudits are everywhere, you know where to find them.
Beck's Modern Guilt trailer. Yep, that's the way it's being billed -- as a trailer to an album. It's on the internet; it's a music medley; it's a video; it's a trailer to an album -- anything can be anything, everything is everything, que sera sera.
In one of the most questionable reviews I've ever read, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Exile in Guyville, Pitchfork basically says Liz Phair was invented by dudes, for dudes.
Finally, a hip-hop feud I can get behind... on YouTube! Ice-T rants that Soulja Boy has "single-handedly killed hip-hop." Soulja Boy turns it generational in a hilarious response video. Unable to resist the fray, Kanye jumps in, saying the kid "is fresh ass hell and is actually the true meaning of what hip hop is sposed to be." Are we actually witnessing a Baby Boomer versus Millennial battle, with the Gen X supastar playing the referee? BEST BEEF EVAH. (Update: Ice-T responds back. "Watch the YouTubes!" OMFG.)
Day two of the new Girl Talk record, and it isn't old yet. That is the worry, right? That the gimmick will wear thin. So far, we're good though. It's really quite amazing -- why does this record sound even better than the last one? And what the hell does "better" mean in this context? Is it the track list? The mixing? It's like we need a whole new vocabulary. On this occasion, I'm yanking out this thing I wrote a couple years ago: 11 Reasons Why I Won't Shut Up About The New Girl Talk Album. It's more true than ever, and I am now going to attempt shutting up about this one.
The download page for the Girl Talk album (Feed The Animals) is up, but it's very, very slow.
Audio of Sasha Frere-Jones talking about auto-tune and later recording a song with it, based upon his recent New Yorker story. I like Sasha's tone here, explaining the necessity and historical relevance of auto-tune.
MuxFind.com, for searching Muxtapes, and thereby pretty much recreating Napster in a browser. (It says that the service is not associated with Muxtape. If that's true, Muxtape might wanna shut it down before everyone gets sued outta existence.) Update#1: Fred likes it. Update: #2: Anthony thinks it should be open-source.
While MySpace triggered endless hip-hop and pop references, one might wonder what genre would pick up Facebook as its muse. Apparently, teenage R&B balladry.
The track list to that celeb-curated, Starbucks-released, greatest-hits Sonic Youth compilation. They're playing right outside my house on July 4 in NYC -- a likely occasion for a party.
CasssetteFromMyEx.com. "They were into you, so they made you a tape. Today you don't have a cassette player, but you still can't toss that mix. We share the stories and the soundtrack to your earliest loves." (Book deal or record deal?)
New Beck song, "Chemtrails," really does have a Pink Floyd vibe. Danger Mouse produced the record.
Scarlett Johansson's much-maligned album drops today. Quick take: with Tom Waits covers produced by Dave Sitek, it's not as bad as you've heard, nor is it great. The song that one most hopes will be a hit, "I Don't Wanna Grow Up," is emblematic: getting some sort of '80s shimmer treatment, like a down-tempo Pet Shop Boys ditty, is interesting for a couple minutes, but sadly forgettable seconds thereafter. Though not a bad first album, one wonders what this second act could look like. I vote for Leonard Cohen songs produced by Steve Albini. B- (Actual reviews: Pitchfork | Radar | NY Mag | Onion A/V | Rolling Stone.)
Sorta strange NYT Mag story: The Return of the One-Man Band, featuring St. Vincent, Final Fantasy and Panda Bear.
ScarJo performing Tom Waits' "Falling Down" live, with a bunch of scruffy hipsters accompanying.
Somebody give Vulture a bump: "The hookless 'Everybody Nose' manages the impressive feat of being almost as annoying as a lavatory full of people high on cocaine (when you really have to go!)." Boooo!
Yipe, did you see N.E.R.D. on Letterman last night? That "Everybody Nose" track is going to be the hip-hop song of the summer, but those b-boys moshing? Magnets, yo! UPDATE #1: the official video for the song has been released. Love that "Removed By Request" bit. UPDATE #2: Of course, Last Night's Party has the photos from the shenanigans.
We used to think of music videos as little trailers to albums. Now we have trailers to trailers in the form of "Everyone Nose" Sneak Preview, apparently a Young Jeezy / Lupe Fiasco / T.I. / Kanye West / N.E.R.D. collaboration. Love that chorus! [via, doy]
When Nicholas dished the rumor that HypeMachine had a $10 million bid from Viacom, I said it was perhaps "more complex than that." Anthony has now said the rumor is "not very accurate." And that ends this boring story.... for now.
Not your favorite song for the next five minutes: Soulja Boy's new single, "iDance," sounds like a botched clone job of "Crank That." Superman dat horror.
Fuck it, it's Friday... your favorite early-80s synth pop remembrance for the next five minutes: "Don't You Want Me," Human League. (This song was playing during my last hair cut. I couldn't stop moving in the chair. I completely forgot the awesomeness of the class battle in the opening verse. And then that second verse!)
All you music bloggers should just hand over the keys, cuz Kanye is crushing you. May Day, May Day, he just dropped an exclusive... your favorite video for the next five minutes: Justice's "Stress".
Santogold performing "L.E.S. Artistes" on Conan. (Btw, I just noticed that little closed-caption button on the upper-right corner of Red Lasso videos. This is awesome to play with during music appearances.)
Nicholas says Hype Machine has a $10 million offer from Viacom. Anthony's site is my favorite music project on the internet, but I think the offer is bullshit -- or, perhaps more accurately, more complex than that. Either way, the post is still good because of the conversation about VCs and startups.
It appears that Scarlett Johansson yanked out the blooper reel from Lost in Translation for the video for "Falling Down." But seriously, isn't a Sofia reprise in order?
Interview with Muxtape founder Justin Ouellette. He shrugs of the copyright question. (Legally, there's no doubt he's screwed if the labels want to take him down. The only question is whether they think he's a threat or a help. I'll give it 50-50.)
Your favorite video for the next five minutes: "Smell Yo Dick," Riskay. Update: You know what? I'm upgrading this to "your favorite video for the next week" status. See also: Isley Brothers' "Busted," featuring R. Kelly.
Your afternoon is saved: stream of the entire new Portishead album on Last.fm. (Third drops next week.)
The only thing you need to know about music this week: four remastered Replacements records are released tomorrow. And Stink, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, Hootenanny, and Let It Be all have extra tracks. (P-fork drops the 10 on Let It Be.)
Here we go... Pitchfork has the first track you can hear from Scarlett Johansson's Tom Waits cover album (out in May). It starts off sounding like a TV on the Radio song (Sitek produced it), but then turns atmospheric. Judgment so far: unsure. UPDATE: track has been removed; you didn't miss much.
Your favorite '80s throwback synth pop manifesto for the next five minutes: M83's "Graveyard Girlfriend." Their new album, Saturdays=Youth, which Onion A/V gave an A and Pitchfork gave an 8.5, drops today.
And the winner of the worst-song-to-best-video ratio of all time: GNR's "Don't Cry". Relive the memories of throwing Stephanie Seymore across the room, the naked Axl in a cave, the therapist's couch, the cemetery, the triple Axl in the hospital, the burning car with Slash, the bitch fight... if Axl had died instead of Kurt, everyone would have said this video contained all the signs of his demise, done up like a soap opera without a hint of nuance.
There's actually sources for all those logo bumpers from the "DVNO" video. [via]
The new Pitchfork.tv is full of a bunch of boring interviews and live clips, but all I really want is for them to replay my favorite videos: Knife, "We Share Our Mothers Health."
It's hard to imagine a city having a better year than Minneapolis did in 1984, when it witnessed the release of Purple Rain from Prince, Let it Be from the Replacements, and Zen Arcade from Husker Du. That kind of legacy is double-edged: it provides your community with respect and clout, but it also hangs like a heavy nostalgic fog to be lived up to. It can take a long time to recover from the burden of reputation, but this month could be Minneapolis' moment again as three big releases hit the street from Tapes 'n Tapes, Atmosphere, and Cloud Cult. My friend Ross sat down with all three to discuss their new albums, track by track. The music industry is indescribably different than it was in 1984 -- more fickle, more forgetful. Even though these three acts are releasing the best albums of their careers, they are in the uncomfortable position of hoping their audience has not moved onto the newest shiny thing. It's a paradox: once you have finally lived up to your community's past, you become it. I hope their audience remembers. (My pals Tapes 'n Tapes -- oh yeah, good band profile from Marsh too -- are in NYC this week for their record release party and a Conan appearance. More updates later.)
NYT video: Bjork in 3-D: Making the "Wanderlust" Video. Shocker! -- mushrooms were involved.
When people ask what my blog is about, I usually say "I link to Kanye videos and stupid t-shirts." So here ya go, a new Kanye vid: "Homecoming" ft. Chris Martin.
Exile in Guyville is 15 years old, which means you are OLD. Pitchfork reports it's being reissued with a DVD that includes Phair interviewing Ira Glass, John Cusack, Steve Albini, and others. (Somehow vaguely related: Ellen Page signed to Juno soundtrack sequel.)
I did absolutely nothing today -- except listen to these Muxtapes: Skeet, Kathryn, Sopheava, Magnetbox, StephenHero, YumWatch, SashaFrereJones, FredWilson, Migurski, KiyoshiMartinez, RachListens, GoldenFiddle, and Rex.
Yesterday, in a matter of about 12 hours, Muxtape, a site that lets you create playlists, exploded all over the place. It's definitely cool, but ya gotta wonder if it can last without any licensing agreements. (Update: My Muxtape. Not a single Rick Roll in there.)
The first look at Scarlett Johansson's Tom Waits cover album is a track-by-track analysis at Uncut.
Not content with being hip-hop's greatest blogger, not fulfilled with having the craziest commenters this side of YouTube... Kanye West is now leaking tracks on his blog: new Outkast song featuring Raekwon.
For anyone interested in SXSW Music stuff, the Wall Street Journal had a story about clubs that are testing the limits of the event by holding concerts outside of the SXSW brand. As anyone who has witnessed the transition from SXSW Interactive (which is just about as egalitarian as you can get -- everyone knows about the same parties) to SXSW Music (which suddenly becomes about wrist bands and secret parties -- exclusivity reigns supreme) can attest, the corporatization of SXSW is the elephant in the room.
In The Clash ... Goin' Up?, The Observer looks at the pervasiveness of music in daily life. "Do we even listen to music anymore? Or is it all just sinking into the background, surrounding us like air-conditioning?" (The "history of Muzak" story comes out at least once a year [The New Yorker's lengthy example from a couple years ago], but this one ties in some iPod theory.)
Yay! A new video for the most-played song at Chez Rex: Santogold's "L.E.S. Artistes" (higher quality WMV). I don't get the horse stuff at the beginning, but I like the green blood later on! (Directed by Nima Nourizadeh.) UPDATE: someone in the comments remembers that this is a homage to Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain. You can see it around 9:30 in this clip.
Even though Malkmus was dismissing this just weeks ago, it looks like Pavement will reunite in 2009 to play at least one gig. In other news, you're old.
As far as breaking music critic news goes, this is pretty big: Kelefa Sanneh leaving New York Times.
The video for Gnarls Barkley's "Run" has dropped. It's spectacular. (That's Timberlake talkin, btw.)
Your favorite remix for the next five minutes: XXXChange's remix of Santogold's "L.E.S. Artistes". Update: looks like Santogold's much-anticipated debut album has a release date of April 22.
Your favorite cheesy dance song for the next five minutes: Little Boots' "Stuck on Repeat."
Corporate Casual asks of the new Mariah Carey video starring 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer "Just whose fantasy is this anyway?" Not the nerd's -- it's the nymph's.
There's a whack rumor floating around that Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, and Pharrell Williams are creating a super group, and this video for "Us Placers" (directed by Va$htie and pinching from Thom Yorke's "The Eraser") suggests it might just happen.
So you need your fix of dance-centered hip-hop obsessed with digital communication? Baby, why you even look on those other corners, you know I hook you up with that pshit: The Count & Sinden featuring Kid Sister, "Beeper." Warning: you will be singing "Hit Me on My Beeper" all day. (See also: Kanye titled this post "INCREDIBLE" so you know to check it. Recognize it? Utah Saints, from '92!)
Even if no one else in America agrees with my stated mission to keep Tay Zonday relevant, at least Lily Allen is fighting the good fight across the pond. (Who knew that BBC Three gave Lily Allen her own talk show?)
Much better than you'd think: RetroCrush's 25 Greatest Duets of All Time, with video links.
Kanye's new video for "Flashing Lights" is debuting on BET tonight, but Kanye just dropped "Part 1" on his blog. Guess what? It's dope! Spike Jonze directs, a Playboy model strips, and there's an execution in the desert. So it's basically hip-hop's "November Rain."
Good news for fans of the greatest band in the history of mankind... The Replacements early catalog is being reissued.
Oh, hello there! Were you looking for the definition of "backlash to the backlash"? (And you needed another example in addition to Juno?) Welcome! The Village Voice and Ad Age are unabashed about their love for Vampire Weekend. Bold!
Kiosk is an Iranian band that Henry Jenkins recently covered as an example of an emerging underground Persian music scene. At first listen, they sound a little too Dire Straits for contemporary tastes, but the video for "Love for Speed" is actually pretty great, especially when you check out those lyrics: "Living in the evil axis / Speed freaks in jalopy taxis." [via]
I've been obsessing over this post for the last two hours: Auto-Tune Abuse in Pop Music. It occurs to me that an entire generation of young singers are probably trying to emulate the auto-tune sound. [via]
Tapes 'n Tapes tour dates. (Minneapolis: 4/10, Chicago: 4/11, NYC: 4/18, Brooklyn: 4/19, SF: 5/10, Seattle: 5/14.)
Remember that Heidi Montag worst song evah that I linked to last week? There's now a VIDEO with her rolling around the beach in a bikini -- and whaddya know, it's now suddenly the BEST SONG EVER! [via]
The new album you will buy tomorrow is Hot Chip's Made in the Dark. (Yes, it's weird that I still live in a world where people buy physical music.)
Remember the video for Radiohead's "Just"? (It's the one where the business man lays down on the middle of the sidewalk.) Mark Ronson covered the song on his debut album and he just released a video for it that deals with the aftermath of the Radiohead video. It's kinda dumb and I don't like the song, but it's Sunday and there's nothing else to talk about.
Oh, this is RAD... The Hypeful figured out all the songs played at Rob's party on Cloverfield and created a playlist (with mp3s) called Rob's Party Mix. What's the creepy factor of playing this at a party at my house?
In case you missed it, The Moldy Peaches performed "Anyone Else but You" on The View. I would have given you million-to-one odds on the previous sentence a year ago.
I issued a challenge on Twitter last night: The theme song to The Daily Show is "Dog on Fire," a They Might Be Giants cover of a Bob Mould song. I'll give $5 to the first person to find an mp3 of the original. If it helps the search, Mould's version was used as the theme back when Kilborn did the show. (I have the cover version -- if you want it, I put it here.) Update: Haughey found it! And he didn't even use filesharing! Update #2: Someone in the comments finds an interview snippet from Bob Mould saying the song would have been on his 1996 eponymous album had The Daily Show not used it.
People seem enthralled with the isolated vocal track to "Runnin' With The Devil" that I hooked up yesterday, so I dug up something even better that I originally linked to three years ago: John Bonham outtakes. If I were a DJ, I'd be all over these.
Ghostface Killah chastizes you for downloading his album. 115,000 friends on MySpace, but 35,000 in albums sales.
35th Annual Pazz & Jop Village Voice Poll. At this point, no surprises, but read the essays!
Coachella line-up. Reasons I'd go: Portishead, Kraftwerk, Verve, Justice, The Streets, Hot Chip, The Field, Chromeo, Metric, Mark Ronson, Verve, M.I.A., Cold War Kids, Diplo, Santogold, Kid Sister, Uffie, Simian Mobile Disco, Sharon Jones, Horrors, and Spank Rock.
I stumbled across this video on MTV (I KNOW, RIGHT?) last night: Yacht's "Women of the World." It is my new favorite thing for the next five minutes.
Idolator's ginormous aggregated music poll is out: Pop Critics Poll. Includes Top Albums (LCD Soundsystem), Top Tracks (Rihanna), Top Artists (Radiohead), Top Reissues (Young Marble Giants), and Top Enthusiasm (Spoon).
So who's getting one of those 150-inch TVs that dominated CES headlines? Kanye is, that's who.
The soundtrack to Juno comes out tomorrow. It contains tracks by The Kinks, Kimya Dawson, Belle & Sebastian, Mott The Hoople, The Velvet Underground, and, most notably (if you saw the movie), Sonic Youth's cover of "Superstar" and Michael Cera & Ellen Page singing "Anyone Else But You."
I could personally give a flying fistula about the return of the late-night talk-show graybeards (literal!), but I'm pretty pumped that the musical appearances are showing up on YouTube again: Lupe Fiasco on Letterman.
Pretty fantastic package just released over at Wired... first, they got David Byrne and Thom Yorke to sit down together and talk about the music industry (with stacks of audio clips!) and then Byrne lays out six scenarios for saving artists from the industry's collapse (with charts!).
For those who like their music list links: Pitchfork's Top 100 Tracks of 2007 (same #1 as me), Rolling Stones' 100 Best Songs, Spin's Top 40 Albums (crazy #1 choice), Blender's Top 25 Albums, and Slate's Music Club.
This year proved again that when it feels like the entire goddamn world is going to hell -- that's a good time to throw a dance party. Whether you were fist-pumping for Maya's admittance back into America, chanting "We are North American scum!" at the club, or just jumping in giddy delight that Justice somehow landed an MTV Music Video Award nomination, it was a good year to dance in the streets, especially to these, my favorite albums of 2007:
1) Kanye West, Graduation
Take away his ego, and Kanye's music ceases to exist. That's because Kanye is one of a dying breed of artist, like a Bob Dylan or a Woody Allen or a Bjork, who create art out of sheer force of will and ego. Art and life aren't binaries for these people. How else to explain this album's sui generis cocktail -- a sampling of his mentors in dance (Daft Punk), street (Jay-Z), fashion (Louis Vuitton), and art (Murakami). And, I suppose, literature (Nietzsche), by pinching that particularly arch aphorism about surviving adversity. "That which does not kill me..." might suggest that Kanye's force emerges from some sort of Ayn Randian individualism, but it's more clearly the power that comes from treating your life as collage.
2) M.I.A., Kala
The '80s would have been much better if M.I.A. were around to squelch that wretched little phrase "world music" -- she would drop some street on those marketers. Although she would resist this, Maya has somehow emerged as one of the few relevant voices in the language of globalization: descriptive not prescriptive, street not studio, itinerant not stagnant, and most importantly, local not global. This is why I've written before that M.I.A. brings to mind Rem Koolhaas more than anyone else -- one can visualize her building little markets (songs) on the streets of Lagos or Sri Lanka or Kingston. That's what this album sounds like: all the streets in the world playing music at once.
3) LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
Though James Murphy's second album will fill your daily dance-punk requirements, it's the fifth track, the ballad "All My Friends," which stands out as the best song of the year. Pretty much the exact opposite of his glib underground hit "Losing My Edge," this song starts with a cold, repetitive keyboard line that's probably pinched from some minimalistic Steve Reich score. And it never really deviates from there, except by layering some lines about friendship, which becomes the song's theme -- not about a single friend, but about the celebration of friendship as a concept. "You spend the next five years trying to get with the plan / And the next five trying to get with your friends again" has been the mantra for a couple hundred 30-somethings who I know.
4) Justice, Cross
Even though they never released an album, one could call 2007 the year of Daft Punk. Between their Coachella appearance, their movie, and Kanye creating their first Billboard hit, Daft Punk was an invisible success story. And to complete the story, we could call this the best Daft Punk album in years -- and get away with it without too much guilt.
5) Mark Ronson, Version
Prepare thyself for a strange reason to like a musician: Ronson exposes the weakness of Pitchfork. The plucky music site has been an aggressive foe of Ronson and his entourage (Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen). The reasons for this are somewhat paradoxical, since the Ronson aesthetic -- let's call it "synthetic retro" -- is usually a Pitchfork touchstone. But beyond all that industry prattle, Ronson is one of the few producers who can put together a cohesive solo album of his own. Some might tire of the ska inflections on a few tracks, but then Winehouse's cover of The Zutons' "Valerie" comes along to make you remember that synthetic nostalgia is the best kind.
6) I'm Not There, Soundtrack
Of course you want to hear Sonic Youth cover Dylan. And Malkmus, and Charlotte Gainsbourg, and The Hold Steady, and Karen O, and two discs more of this.
7) Charlotte Gainsbourg, 5:55
Did Charlotte haunt you this year? Because she haunted me. And does she remind you of a long lost love? For me, she does. Are you glad that someone finally found something decent for Air to do? Yes, me too.
8) Klaxons, Myths of the Near Future
Fuck "new rave" -- this is "new Iron Maiden"! The album has enough arcane mythology to fill the new D&D manual. If you caught Klaxons in concert this year, you witnessed this strange spectacle: teenage kids dancing around on stage with a Mello Yello high, quoting Coleridge and Pynchon, and playing their instruments like they invented them.
9) Simian Mobile Disco, Attack Decay Sustain Release
Let's get this out of the way: there's a lot bullshit on this album. Some of these tracks are the worst offenders of the reductive, repetitive, retrograde kind of techno/house that gives the entire genre a bad name. But in those moments where humanity creeps in -- on "Hustler" and "It's The Beat" -- this turns into something like the best of Bjork's dance work.
10) Battles, Mirrored
What happens when you throw another "post-" in front of "post-rock"? Prog rock! No one expected this segment of the '70s to reemerge this year, but Battles at least added a little head-shaking to the shoe-gazing genre.
11) Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
When I forgot to bring my iPod on a trip to LA this year, I bought this CD to play in the rental car. And then I turned it up every time I started to fight with the girl who was traveling with me. I now know this album by heart.
12) Britney Spears, Blackout
Yep, above Radiohead. Why? Because while Radiohead is obsessed with dystopic futures, Britney actually is the future. Like one of those fake Japanese pop idols, Brit-Bot is the complete cypher that gets invented by producers and the media. This album is like a Wikipedia entry in which everyone -- The Neptunes, TMZ, whoever -- should get a writing credit. You may not like to hear this, but Britney is you.
13) Radiohead, In Rainbows
Trent Reznor paid $5,000; I paid $5. I got a better deal.
14) Jay-Z, American Gangster
He really is the godfather now.
15) White Williams, Smoke
Since no one seems up to carrying the mantle anymore, the title of The New Bowie could be passed onto White Williams. But more than pure retread, Williams rips '70s glam through a processor that admits the existence of disco, Beck, and laptop pop.
16) The Pipettes, We Are the Pipettes
This album caused my dorky friends in San Francisco to actually dance. For getting nerds to shuffle, some might say this album should be much higher on the list.
17) Dan Deacon, Spiderman of the Rings
This is what Girl Talk would sound like if he wanted Sonic Youth to like him.
18) Prince, Planet Earth
Although I didn't make it back to Minneapolis to see him perform at First Ave this year (which was a blessing, because the cops shot it down in less than an hour), Prince put out the album that's aesthetically the closest to Purple Rain that we've seen in some time.
19) White Stripes, Icky Thump
You could almost forget that the White Stripes released an album this year.
20) Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Is Is
If it felt like Karen O spent this year trying to figure out what people wanted her to be, this EP didn't necessarily contradict that. Even its title seems obsessed with self-definition.
21) Tomahawk, Anonymous
While we wait for Michael Patton to do something a little more digestible again (We! Want! Lovage!), he put out this strange Native American Heavy Metal album.
22) Chromeo, Fancy Footwork
Ever wished Hall & Oats dabbled in disco? Then Chromeo is for you.
23) Bloc Party, Weekend in the City
Bloc Party have me hanging by a thread. I want them to have staying-power, but this could just be their last relevant album.
24) Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha
I think of this album as what happens when you mash together Chicago and Minneapolis. It has the sound of Drag City, but the aesthetic of Tim. Which makes sense, because Bird is from Chicago but the album with recorded in Minneapolis with some of its finest locals.
25) Thurston Moore, Trees Outside the Academy
You know how Beck tends to alternate between doing a rock/hip-hop album and doing a down-tempo/acoustic album? This is like the response to last year's rocking Rather Ripped.
And finally, here are some albums that I tried to like this year, but it just never happened: Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew - Spirit If..., Modest Mouse's We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's Some Loud Thunder, The Good, the Bad & the Queen's The Good, the Bad & the Queen, Air's Pocket Symphony, Nine Inch Nails' Year Zero, Timbaland's Timbaland Presents Shock Value, T.I.'s T.I. vs. T.I.P., 50 Cent's Curtis, Arctic Monkeys's Favourite Worst Nightmare, Amon Tobin's Foley Room, The Shins' Wincing the Night Away, The National's The Boxer, Wilco's Sky Blue Sky, Bjork's Volta, Arcade Fire's Neon Bible, Low's Drums and Guns, PJ Harvey's White Chalk, Jose Gonzalez' In Our Nature, Bruce Springsteen's Magic, Feist's The Reminder, and Les Savvy Fav's Let's Stay Friends.
Do you remember how Apple devotees freaked out after Steve Jobs dropped the price of the iPhone by a couple hundred bucks just months after its release? I wonder if there's any change that Radiohead fans will freak out because the physical version of In Rainbows will have more tracks than the online one, for which some people paid primo $$$. (I don't have a link for this post -- it's just here because it was too long for Twitter!)
Chuck's newest Esquire column: Me, On Shuffle. The interrogative thesis might be puzzling (Chuck, you like '70s guitar riffs and things that sound like '70s guitar riffs -- dilemma solved!), but the nibbley multimedia format (a magazine article with music clips!) is sweet.
Favorite new musician for the next five minutes: Riskay. I nominate "Smell Yo Dick" for single of the year.
A million years ago in a different life, I occasionally booked rock shows. One of the many bands that I booked and that you've forgotten was Trenchmouth. You might recognize the name now as the band that SNL's Fred Armisen was the drummer for. Today's NYT story on Fred Armisen Presents: Jens Hannemann Complicated Drumming Technique must have done something for DVD sales because Amazon is sold out.
Peter has launched his new web site / record label / download paradise RCRD LBL. (I'm still jealous.) First track: Justice feat. Spank Rock and Mos Def - "D.A.N.C.E. (Benny Blanco remix)". That's like five things I love in one song!
Hot! These Are Powerful Hours creates "Power Hour Mixes for the Discriminating Binge Drinker." (If you don't know what a power hour is, you didn't grow up in the midwest.) These are essentially mix tapes with 60 seconds of 60 songs -- drink! -- from a given artist or genre. There are power hours (a playlist plus download or stream) for Prince, French House, Ghostface Killah, Hyphy, Hall & Oats, and more.
From Sarah's review of the Jim Walsh's new Replacements oral history: "One testimonial after another tells the same story: The Replacements got wasted before the show. Then they played a bullshit set of cover songs. You've been a teenager, so you know why this is cool: It made them look like they didn't care. If they really had no talent, no one else would have cared, either. But if you have the proven ability to write genius rock songs, and you have an adoring crowd of fans in front of you, and you choose to risk alienating them by laughing your way through five renditions of 'Hello, Dolly,' you relay a very powerful message. In Reagan's America, with its yuppie consumer worship, jock-filled high schools, and submoronic hair-metal gods, you have just said 'No' to success, popularity, and rock star-ism. Do you remember the vileness of the culture in the '80s? The Replacements were reacting against it, and maybe they were immature drunks, but maybe they were also...sorta...philosophically rigorous?" This is great for several reason, but mostly because it's also subversively a bit of Sarah autobiography too.
Remember that "favorite new band for the next five minutes" feature that I promised? Here it is: Plasticines.
Bill Wasik (who you might remember as the Harper's editor who invented flash mobs) writes about how hype builds in the music industry. It's chock full of indie rock things that I write about here all the time: KEXP, Tapes 'n Tapes, SXSW, etc. (This link is dedicated to Matt, my hype-backlash ninja.) Update: Taylor questions Minneapolis' third-place ranking in the musical urban archipelago. He's wrong, but he's right about MSP getting its own big music festival (like, I imagine, Bumbershoot, Siren, CMJ, or Pitchfork).
If you watch the new Jay-Z video, "Blue Magic," you'll see him flash some Euros -- which leads at least one commentator to ask if this is the ultimate sign that the American economy is in trouble. Hova as the economic indicator -- love it!
"iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up." That, and a helluva lot more (paid $5K for Radiohead album; used OiNK; producing spoken word album), in this Trent Reznor interview.
Radiohead will actually release In Rainbows the conventional way, as a CD on a record label.
I'm starting a new feature here called "My Favorite New Band for the Next Five Minutes." Today we have Hearts of Palm UK, which I would call lofi-electro-club-folk if I didn't feel silly saying that.
Ok, it's Friday, and I'm off to a party at Newsvine HQ (aka MSNBC West). I leave you with my new favorite group for the next five minutes: The Real Heat. London club girls should rule the world. [via]
My only problem with Sasha's New Yorker screed on the de-miscegenation of indie rock (which no one was talking about and now suddenly everyone is talking about) is that it feels like selective modern history. Sure, Arcade Fire is white, and they kinda suck. (Shut up, they do too. And so do The Shins.) But how about the other sectors of "indie rock" -- LCD Soundsystem or Bloc Party or M.I.A. and Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Sasha's analysis feels like choosing the Pixies in 1990 as the representative of everything, and then bemoaning that no one sings in Spanish anymore. That said, he makes great points about political correctness and sampling that I've never seen elsewhere. UPDATE: Sasha responds.
Bill Gates' music taste? Well, there's U2... and then the Beatles and the Stones... and then Broadway musicals. Stop by my office, boss man -- I'm gonna show ya some Kanye, Prince, Daft Punk, and MIA.
This is one of the weirdest things I've seen in music in a long time: Radiohead has just announced they have a new album coming out... in 10 days. I don't think anyone even knew they were making a new record. Some strange pre-order and format info on the site for the album: In Rainbows. UPDATE: the price for download will be left up to the individual buyer. Amazing.
Amazon's DRM-less MP3 store. It's cool, but it's curiously not integrated with the Music (i.e., CD) section of the site.
I was actually thinking about proposing an article at the end of 2007 called "The Year of Electronica," in which I make the argument that some of the best albums of the year are direct descendants of that horrible word no one has used in a decade. LCD Soundsystem, Justice, Klaxons, Simian Mobile Disco, Chromeo, Datarock, and, if you stretch it a bit, Kanye, M.I.A., Battles, Mark Ronson. But then Slate published it. Dammit. (I like my examples better, and I would have slipped in that Kanye quote about creating a new kind of electronic hip-hop.) Noted: Idolator quibbles with some historical points.
Kanye's album almost went platinum the first week out -- the best debut week for an album in two years.
Among the other things that have fascinated me about Girl Talk, there is the crowd dynamic at his shows. As Elizabeth put it, it's the ultimate crowd-sourcing event in which the audience becomes the spectacle. Apparently the similarly-minded Dan Deacon (who is on tour with Girl Talk) is performing from within the audience and just letting the dancing kids have the stage to themselves. This seems an important [gulp] metaphor for the entire state of music today. (It was difficult not to use the word "postmodern" or reference Roland Barthes in this post. But ya know what I'm sayin, oui?)
I won't give up on this one if you don't: two new Zonday vids are up. Believe me now that the kid's gotta chance?
Mark Ronson seems to be saying that Amy Winehouse is completely replaceable in his new video for "Valerie" (best track on the album, btw).
Luna covers Paula Abdul's "Straight Up," and it's really good. The album that it's from includes Will Oldham covering Mariah Carey, Jim O'Rourke doing the Spice Girls, and Superchunk on Destiny's Child.
Actual economics paper (and not an Onion article): On the Efficiency of AC/DC: Bon Scott vs. Brian Johnson. [via] UPDATE: hah, it's a joke. Steven Levitt fell for it too though.
Perez has the new Britney single. It starts "It's Britney, Bitch." It doesn't quite suck, but it's also impossible to imagine this baby mama being sexy anymore.
Because I don't have time to write a legit record review, here are some quick notes on listening to Kala:
8) First, the politics. Maya's critics seem to present her songs as equivocally advocating various causes. This seems foolish. I suspect what MIA is actually doing is more like acting. And I don't mean just conveniently sampling subversive agitprop (she seems to legitimately understand the cultural issues). Rather, Maya uses songwriting to play out the roles of various third-world revolutionary characters. So when you hear her talking about the Tamil Tigers or Palestine, it's not exactly "her opinions" as much as the voice of people she's encountered. Critics insist on imposing autobiography on this album, but it seems more like contemporary historical fiction.
7) Someone could write an entire review of Kala's aggressive stance against being danceable.
6) It's difficult to come up with musical comparison points with MIA -- The Clash is probably the best lazy comparison right now. But do you know who Maya should really be compared to? Star architects. I'm totally serious -- they fly around the world, observe a society, pick up pieces local culture, and adapt it to their own style. MIA is a starchitect. She's more like Rem Koolhaas than Gwen Stefani.
5) Most confusing culture reference on the new album: "Price of living in a shanty town just seems very high / But we still like T.I."
4) Second place: "So I woke up with my Holy Koran / And found out I like Cadillac."
3) And yet: "Sex is cheap / I get it at the KFC."
2) The best song on the album is "Paper Planes," which also happens to be produced by the somewhat estranged Diplo. As Margaret said to the me the other day, there's never been a better song in which sound effects replace words. But beyond all that, the production of the song is so strange -- it has a reggae-light beat, but the sounds underneath are totally like nothing else.
1) This is the only album I can think of in which the remixes will likely be better than the album. And it's not because the songs are bad, but rather because there's something sorta raw about the tracks. It's like an album of source-material.
Apparently I never saw Thurston Moore guesting-hosting 120 Minutes with Beck in 1994, because I would have remembered it. Mike D shows up later, talking about an upcoming album that they "might call Ill Communication."
Hmmm, the layers of meaning in this one: Diplo uploaded a video onto YouTube of him and M.I.A. together back in the day. [thnx robin]
If you've got nothing to do this weekend, may I recommend this long M.I.A. review from Rich Juzwiak? Good.
I was thinking about writing this very same headline: Breaking: M.I.A. Had a Visa Problem. Btw, album of the year.
Just seven more days until the new M.I.A. album, but in the meantime here are this week's recommended new releases.... Music: Junior Senior's Hey Hey My My Yo Yo; DVD: David Lynch's Inland Empire and the Collector's Edition of Taxi Driver
I wouldn't normally link to another Thurston Moore interview, but the part where he fawns over meeting Kim is just sweet.
Scarlett Johansson's new album to be produced by superstar Dave Sitek and to feature members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Electrophunk is my new thing this week, so go buy the new Chromeo record so we can talk about it, okay? Stereogum has the new video. (Ben, Colin, and I tried to see them last weekend, but the morons at the War Room don't know how to manage a door.)
NYT on Prince: "He doesn't have to go multiplatinum -- he's multiplatform." The new album (Planet Earth) comes out this week. (Update: I love that this story is on TechMeme right now.)
I am about to draw a line of six degrees of separation from Bob Dylan to Paris Hilton in the most asinine way possible. Ready? Okay, have you been following this story about Lindsay Lohan's "girlfriend" who betrayed her? (Shut up, you have too.) So that wonderful girl is Samantha Ronson. (I mean, haha, DJ Samantha Ronson. Seriously.) Now, her brother is... that's right, Mark Ronson, producer of Lily Allen and Amy Whinehouse, not to mention having the second-best album of the year so far (that's not opinion -- it's so damn good that Pitchfork didn't even get it). Anyway, as everyone (plus Wikipedia) knows, DJ Samantha Ronson is BFF with DJ AM (because they're both DJs! doy!) who is of course... yep, not the father of Nicole Richie's baby. Done! Oh wait, how do I get Dylan into this clusterfuck? For the first time ever, Dylan has agreed to have one of his songs remixed by.... Mark Ronson! So to repeat: Paris --> Lindsay --> Nicole --> DJ AM --> DJ Samantha Ronson --> Mark Ronson --> Bob Dylan. See, aren't you people glad I'm just a link blogger?
My favorite song right now: Justice's remix of Timberlake's 'Love Stoned.' It sounds like Michael Jackson produced by Daft Punk trying to invoke the '70s via the Bee Gees and Kraftwerk.... but good.
Before it shows up as a Slate "Explainer" column: Yes, Steve Albini is alive -- and answering every question you can possibly think of in this forum.
Wow, Tom Jones covered The Arctic Monkeys' "I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor" at the Concert for Diana a few days ago. Video.
So I didn't make it back to the Prince show, but my pal Ross put together a great collection of various people answering the question, "What's your favorite Prince song?" You can see my answer ("When You Were Mine"), along with a bunch of my old friends including Melissa Maerz, Taylor Carik, Chuck Olsen, David de Young, Keri Wiese, Josh Grier, and Chuck Klosterman.
Prince is playing First Ave this weekend for the first time in 20 years. (For those that don't know, First Ave is where Purple Rain was filmed and is one of the top three clubs in America.) I'm trying to figure out a way to make it back for this show, which will probably redefine the word "amazing." [via]
The Spice Girls are reuniting. I have no idea why I actually want to see this, but could care less about seeing U2 or the Stones or whatever.
13 great moments in the co-option of hip-hop. Contains The Super Bowl Shuffle, MC Rove, Federline, Vanilla Ice, and, mostly regrettably, Blondie.
New releases? The new White Stripes album comes out today: Icky Thump. That's all you really need to know.
That new Sonic Youth deluxe reissue of Daydream Nation? A 10.0 on Pitchfork. I listened to it again last night, and if you run into me in today, I'm very likely to tell you about how this album was ridiculously perfect for 1988.
New music releases today: Datarock's Datarock Datarock (which will be a surprise contender for Top 10s at the end of the year), Mark Ronson's Version (that's Amy Whinehouse's producer), and the Deluxe Edition of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation (one of the best albums of all time).
Just discovered JamGlue.com, a site where you upload song snippets, remix them, and redistribute your remixes. Seattle-based.
The 25 Most Exquisitely Sad Songs in the Whole World. Good because all the songs are streamed on the page.
The newest M.I.A. song to leak, "Hit That", uses lyrics cribbed from -- I kid you not -- Wreckx-n-Effect's "Rump Shaker." This is interesting to me because it's not a musical sample, but rather a lyrical sample -- and yet not a cover.
Why of course Rolling Stone created a list like 40 Songs That Changed The World. (I might just create my own list: 40 Songs That Didn't.)
I saw Jonathan Lethem read last night at the EMP Pop Music Conference -- if you're in Seattle, consider stopping by; it's awesome and much less nerdy than it sounds. (Lethem presented an essay around the idea of the critic's/fan's relationship to art that was fascinating.)
You won't care about the new Dinosaur Jr. video (Mascis and Barlow reunited!) until I tell you that Thurston and Kim's daughter Coco has a big cameo. Or did that kill it for you too? Okay, I'll try this: Matt Dillon directed it. No? Oh well, whatever, nevermind.
Idolator has a new Yeah Yeah Yeahs track. It's good, and the backlash is over, so you can like Karen O again, poseur.
Fader.com (and a lot of other sites) has the first single, "Earth Intruders," from the Björk/Timbaland project.
Village Voice: A graphical dissertation of Mims' "This Is Why I'm Hot." Almost as brilliant as the song. [via]
If I told you that Alanis Morissette did a cover of "My Humps" in the voice of Tori Amos... would you believe me?
My Minneapolis comrade Mark Mallman got a shout-out on Stereogum today for his new band, Ruby Isle, doing a electro-pop cover of "Teenage Riot". (If you Google "Ruby Isle" right now, the top result is still the Wisconsin mall that is the band's namesake. That's how fresh this band is!)
Subterranean (the show that replaced 120 Minutes on MTV2) has started a blog. Could be one to watch.
So my pop music theory du jour is that we're witnessing a new backlash against the skank pop of Pussycat Dolls and Fergie. I call to the stand Natasha Bedingfield's "I Wanna Have Your Babies", which is somehow brilliant yet horrible -- just like the Pussycat Dolls. [via]
This week, all my music friends were talking about the Ultragrrrl cover profile in the Village Voice, while all my internet friends were asking "Who the fuck is Ultragrrrl?" Meanwhile, all my internet friends were finally hopping on board Twitter, while my music friends were all "What the fuck is Twittter?" We live in a divided society, people.
If you're one of those people who stopped watching MTV in the
Clinton Reagan administration, you might be interested to know that Korn is the most recent addition to the pantheon that is MTV Unplugged. Except they somehow tricked The Cure to join this ridiculous monstrosity.
My pal Melissa has an awesome essay on the back page of Spin this month about How Ryan Adams (Of All People) Became an Internet Visionary. If you don't know, Ryan Adams recently released 13 albums on his website all under different pseudonyms -- chill rapper DJ Reggie, screamo outfit WereWolph, and bratty punkers the Shit, etc. It's just the kind of preposterously genius thing that the internet allows. Just a small excerpt from the essay: "Strangely, the biggest complaint people have posted about Adams is the same argument out-of-touch pundits once used about the Internet: There's too much information out there, and not enough of it has been edited. It's surprising that the same people who celebrate the Web for breaking down mainstream media's cultural gatekeeping now want something very old-fashioned: a new filter to tell them which of this stuff is any good." Rock.
So the news of a new Massive Attack album wouldn't normally be blog-worthy, except hearing that it will include vocals from Damon Albarn (Gorillaz/Blur), Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star), Tunde Adebimpe (TV On The Radio), Liz Fraser (Cocteau Twin), Patti Smith, and Mike Patton -- that's amazing.
There have been a few rumors floating around about Lady Sovereign's sapphic predilections, but the Minnesota Daily (that's the college paper of the University of Minnesota) seems to be the first to put it in print: "The real reason Sov made the trip [to Minneapolis], according to several eyewitnesses who saw the pipsqueak out clubbin', was for a little face time with someone supposedly named Andrea -- yes, as in a female, Andrea. And by face time, we mean more like sucking face (or snogging in Brit-speak)." [via]
This one's gonna cause even more than the normal amount of NYT Styles backlash: Truly Indie Fans is about black people who like indie rock. It tries to find the right note, but still smacks of essentialism.
The Stranger interviews Girls Talk, who's playing Seattle tomorrow night. See ya there. (Previously on Fimoc: 11 Reasons Why I Won't Shut Up About The New Girl Talk Album.)
Some people are interested that David Lee Roth is joining Van Halen on tour, but the real story is that Eddie's 15-year-old son Wolfgang is joining the band.
Top 10 Songs About Wonderful Cities. Includes Kiss on Detroit, Sinatra on NYC, Elvis on Las Vegas, The Clash on Brixton, and of course They Might Be Giants on Istanbul.
Can you think of anything more perfect than the idea of Bjork and Timbaland making an album together?
Though I was friends with his older brother, I never knew the singer-songwriter Tom Brosseau, who grew up in my college town, which he has taken as the name of his new album, Grand Forks. The Stranger gives it a decent review, while also recounting the Grand Forks flood of 1997, which inspired the album and which sorta made me a mini-celebrity that year -- get me drunk and I'll tell you the story.
NYT's decent reflection on what David Byrne is up to lately includes a nifty little clip sampler that compares his work to contemporaries like LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
While seemingly everyone builds music recommendations engines around the wisdom of the crowds, Critical Metrics goes retro by instead aggregating good ol' music critics. More importantly, the founder is Joey Anuff, who you might remember as the founder of Suck.com. [via]
Idolator's pinch of Village Voice's Pazz and Jop poll is out: Jackin' Pop. With nearly 500 ballots, the top albums of 2006 are from: 1) TV on the Radio, 2) Ghostface Killah, 3) The Hold Steady, 4) Clipse, 5) Joanna Newsom, 6) Bob Dylan, 7) Gnarls Barkley, 8) The Knife, 9) Neko Case, 10) Belle & Sebastian. Nice work, Michaelangelo.
The party you weren't at: Girl Talk playing the Empty Bottle in Chicago on New Year's Eve. [via]
How drunk was I last Friday? So drunk that I tried explaining the relevance of Sebadoh to a 22-year-old. How successful was I? Not so much. Hey, the boys announced their spring tour with dates in all your favorite cities.
Playboy takes a shot at 10 Best Rock Clubs, which includes some faves: 12 Galaxies (San Fran), Empty Bottle (Chicago), Emo's (Austin), and First Ave. (Minneapolis).
Generally speaking, I'm a big supporter of Pitchfork, mostly because I don't buy any of the reasons that the careerists give for not liking it. But this Slate piece, Die, Pitchfork, Die!, does a good job at getting to the one thing that does irk me about Pitchfork: its overtly self-consciousness stance as an industry cool-maker.
For me, 2006 was the year of inconsequential hype. Wasn't this the year of Snakes on a Plane? And what ever happened to Pearl Jam's big comeback? And weren't The Raconteurs s'posed to be the best rock band ever? And don't even get me started on what the bloggers were telling you to like. Whatevah, you were too busy watching Journey on YouTube to care.
Despite the odds, this was a pretty good year in music. I've got 21 albums to prove it:
21) The Coup, Pick a Bigger Weapon
No one realized it at the time, but Party Music was probably the most important album of 2001 -- but like everything else after 9/11, it had to be sublimated for a few years. Boots Riley returned this year to "laugh, love, and make love" -- while wearing camo. When the apocalypse comes, you know The Coup will be playing the soundtrack.
20) Peeping Tom, Peeping Tom
The cast of characters alone -- Norah Jones, Amon Tobin, Kool Keith, Dan the Automator, Massive Attack, Kid Koala -- make this a seductive record. But even after the novelty wears off, Mike Patton's obstinate weirdness and whispering/screaming vocals make this album continually engaging, if not terminally perverse.
19) Be Your Own Pet, Be Your Own Pet
This is the kind of punk rock that your pre/post-cool skater friend in high school liked but you didn't understand. Then she made a mixed tape for you with a noisy mess called "Fuuuuuuun" on it, and even though it included a wink to "Stairway to Heaven" you still didn't understand, but you adored her for playing a song called "Fuuuuuuun" -- I mean, how couldn't you?
18) Sparklehorse, Dreamt For Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain
I have no idea why people ignored this album, but I predict the hipsters will trackback to this release next year when DJ Danger Mouse and Mark Linkous collaborate on something called Dangerhorse (I'm not making this up). Linkous makes the kind of raspy pop static that everyone has forgotten is the reason that recorded music still exists.
17) LCD Soundsystem, 45:33
Run. Run fast, very fast.
16) Cold War Kids, Robbers and Cowards
The first four songs on this debut record are so ridiculously good that it makes you suspicious of their ability to maintain it, which causes you to unfairly judge them on the potential of future work that you've never heard, which is grossly unjust, but is also the strange state of music today.
15) Bob Dylan, Modern Times
He hates technology more than your grandma, but that's probably why he makes albums better than your kids.
14) Joanna Newsome, Ys
This will take a moment to digest: Diamanda Galas meets Bjork and June Carter Cash in a dark alley. They magically morph into a harpist who makes an album engineered by Steve Albini that has only five songs but is still an hour long. And yet you love it.
13) The DFA Remixes, Chapter 1 & Chapter 2
No one asked for another version of Fischerspooner's "Emerge" or NIN's "The Hand that Feeds," but you couldn't pick anyone better than DFA to reconstitute nostalgia as futurism.
12) Tapes 'n Tapes, The Loon
It's the strangest thing in the world to leave town and watch your friend's band explode like this. One second you're playing Katamari Damacy and listening to GNR, the next they're trying to get time off work to tour Japan.
11) Ghostface Killah, Fishscale
If you didn't know, fishscale is super-high quality uncut cocaine -- sparkly and glimmering like a fish's scales. This album is singularly obsessed with coke -- kilos and bricks, snorted and smoked -- all of it, in multiple different forms, which you can view as a metaphor of quality or race or economics... or not.
10) Lady Sovereign, Public Warning
We made way for the S.O.V. and she ends up on TRL. Didn't see that one coming.
8) Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Just when you think the dance rock thing has hit the windshield, along comes the best of the genre -- from a bunch of kids slamming on the gas pedal, no less. Two of the songs on this album include the word "dance," yet they're the least danceable songs on the album.
7) Sonic Youth, Rather Ripped
The only thing that makes less sense than these old-timers writing what might be the most relevant love song of the year ("Do You Believe in Rapture?") might be the same fogies writing the best rock song of the year ("Incinerate"). "Do you believe in a second chance?" Totally.
6) The Streets, The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living
At the beginning of the year, Mike Skinner was in rehab; at the end of the year, he was preparing to run the New York City marathon. This sums up The Streets -- slacking yet overachieving, a bad decision that always turns good, a big story yet a complete fuck up.
5) Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Show Your Bones
I'm likely rating this album higher than almost anyone else will this year, but it probably deserves even higher. Why do you all hate Karen O for wanting to make a Blondie record? Sometimes I think you're bigger than the sound, too.
4) Mickey Avalon, Mickey Avalon
Rock critics fucking hate Mickey Avalon -- my friend Missy thinks he's egotistical scum. But this is my kind of punk-rapping scum bag: he stylizes like Kool Keith, he narrates like Eminem, he snags the aesthetics of L.A. glam rock (but bi), and packages it all like Beck-on-meth-not-Beck-on-scientology. And despite that description, he sounds absolutely nothing like Kid Rock!
3) TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain
Can you imagine the pitch to the record label? "Okay, we're gonna make a doo-wop punk album. But it won't sound anything like that. It will sound more like a lazy day in the Prospect Park. Oh, but you can sorta dance to it. Got it?"
2) Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere
The second you heard it, you knew it was going to be the song of the summer. By the second bar, you could visualize the sin wave over the next couple months: the pre-buzz, the raves, the saturation, the backlash, the overhype, and the backlash to the backlash (because you read NY Mag too). It was a crystal clear moment, which so many will remember as defining the summer of '06, when everything seemed to have a thrilling predictability.
1) The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America
During a year that I moved away from the Midwest, no other record could possibly top this list. I'm not sure what non-expats do with all the Lyndale, Penn, and Nicolet references (cross-check them to their Replacements records?), but this will always be one of those records that will be impossibly linked to my life in mysterious ways that make me equal parts sad and hopeful. Every time Craig roars "We walked across that Grain Belt bridge / Into a brand new Minneapolis," I wonder why every city can't be so lucky as to have such a perferct homage. And then I remember only one city deserves it. I miss ya, boys and girls.
This Year's Disappointments: Flaming Lips, At War with the Mystics, Emily Haines, Knives Don't Have Your Back, DJ Shadow, The Outsider, Thom Yorke, The Eraser, Beck, The Information, Outkast, Idlewild, Nellie McKay, Pretty Little Head, Lily Allen, Alright, Still, The Raconteurs, Broken Boy Soldiers, Beyonce, B'day, Bjork, Drawing Restraint 9, Peaches, Impeach My Bush, Morrissey, Ringleader of the Tormentors, Prince, 3121, Kool Keith, Nogatco Rd.
I know you're going to hate me for this, but I'm sorta obsessed with the new Courtney Love book (forgiving NYTBR review). And if that didn't make you hate me, how about linking to a nude spread for Pop magazine (nsfw! nsfw! nsfw!)?
So I went to the Zune launch party in Seattle last night -- unexpectedly, it was hottie overload. Anyway, Engadget is collecting stories about getting social with Zune. (Also noted: video sharing is coming soon.)
Why does Time think it's qualified to name the 100 best albums of all time? No idea, but they do.
The weird thing about this Pitchfork interview with Cat Power isn't anything Chan says -- it's that the interviewer is Fred Armisen, who I had no idea was the drummer of [early-'90s hardcore band] Trenchmouth. I booked that band once! And I don't remember him at all.
Illustrating a little bit too much nostalgia for the '90s, the two big music releases today that I'm looking forward to are PJ Harvey's Peel Sessions and Pavement's spectacular Wowee Zowee re-release.
NYT revisits "the National Anthem of Hip-Hop," Incredible Bongo Band's Bongo Rock which is being reissued next month. Michaelangelo gets props for first calling attention to it at the EMP Pop Conference in Seattle (which, by the way, has opened the paper call for '07). Oliver Wang has MP3s of just some of the tracks that sample "Apache" (Sugar Hill Gang, Moby, Nas, The Roots, etc.).
This is an interesting addition to Zune: It will pay you to share songs. That is, if someone buys a song you originally shared with them, you get store credit.
So Nike hires LCD Soundsystem to create a song that people listen to while they run. Idolator picks up the track, but immediately has to take it down when the DFA lawyers show up. Meanwhile, Pitchfork gives the track an 8.0, and says you can only get it on iTunes. The track's title, "45:33," is also the length of the track. But I'll never be able to tell you how good it is, cuz I could never run for 45 straight minutes.
Last Hold Steady link, promise: Onion A.V. Club interview. UPDATE: I'm a liar -- here's a link to their newest video, "Chips Ahoy."
What the hell Serge Gainsbourg and Whitney Houston were doing on TV together in the '80s is mystery, but what he says pretty much sums it up.
If you chose only one week to buy albums this year, this would be it. New releases from The Hold Steady, Beck, The Decemberists, and The Killers come out today. Two or three of those will make several year-end top 10 lists this year.
I like the angle of approaching the new Hold Steady album, Boys and Girls in America, from the perspective of a travelogue. (On the last album, I itemized the Minneapolis references.) See also: Craig interviewed in Fader and The Pitchfork review (9.4).
I just found out that I live a couple blocks from the hotel where the infamous Led Zeppelin shark episode happened.
Decent Seattle Weekly story on J. Allard and Zune. I know you think I drank the kool-aid, but the social functions on this thing give it a decent chance.
Decent acoustic cover of Outkast's "Hey Ya" by someone named Obadiah Parker. Turns it into a strangely sad song. See also: the video to Outkast's new single, "Morris Brown."
Suzanne Vega's avatar performs in Second Life. Makes you wonder when we'll see [non-Japanese] completely virtual stars.
Tapes 'n Tapes were on Letterman last night. Video not on YouTube yet, but Alexis uploaded the live coverage from the Hexagon in Minneapolis.
This is sorta brilliant. I think. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs asked fans to submit impersonations of Karen O on YouTube, which they then turned into a video that's now... on YouTube.