June 17, 2010
Last week, we talked about a brief resurgence in popularity of 30s and 40s big band music, aka “Swing.” Swing was wildly popular for a hot minute, the bands critically accepted (if not always acclaimed), and lots of hip people dumped lots of money into zoot suits, dance lessons and the various other accoutrement’s of the genre. A few bands made some big dollars, got to perform on Leno, and then that was it. Nobody bought Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s second album, because nobody cared about swing, once popular culture had deemed the movement passé, and labels stopped pumping money into them. Eighteen months after the 90s became the 40s, it was over. Britney Spears came around. Things got dark for a long time.
Most fads (for swing was truly a fad-no one gets dressed up like that every Friday night forever) happen just like this. The 90s were chock full of them: Tamagotchi, sour gumballs, punk-ska (which lasted longer than swing, but still died a lonely death), etc. I’ve begun to realize that part of the reason there was no great guitar hero in the 90s-note that Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White weren’t joined by a 90s counterpart in It Might Get Loud-is that the 90s; even more so than the 2000s; were all about style over substance. Even in the wake of Nirvana, the radio was inundated with cut-rate imitation groups, bands that copied the sound but never approached the heart. It’s amazing to me, now, that the Goo Goo Dolls are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, trucking out the familiar old hits on a culture that never (non-ironically) asked for them. I imagine it’s the same feeling folks who grew up in the 80s felt when I was laughing and screaming Eddie Money songs in 1996.
There’s one group, however, that gets lumped in with all the other ridiculous fads of the 1990s that deserves a hell of a lot more credit than they get. This is a group who have weathered a declining music industry and universal ridicule by all the world except their fans. Despite zero support from radio or MTV, they’ve sold millions of records over the last twenty years. That group is the Insane Clown Posse.
September 22, 2009
IN THE TUBE
It’s amazing how successful the recent VMAs have been at making people forget that MTV isn’t very cool (or musically relevant). Because, beyond Kanye’s goof, Beyonce and Lady Gaga offered up some pretty revelatory performances, and it seems like the VMAs, right now, are one of the most important forums for musical innovation. Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” briefly, was one of the best classic pop-performances, insofar as pop and spectacle can and should be married, that I’ve ever seen. It was like a maniacal, hyper-sexed, de-geometrized Busby Berkeley production. Beyonce is a super good dancer and just, you know, really hot. And my favorite part of the whole bit is that she doesn’t even really try to pretend like she’s not lip synching. What a cool girl.
But it’s Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” that really surprised me. I’d neither seen nor heard Gaga until my buddy Pete showed me her VMA performance, and I was pretty blown away. Call me an old-timer, but I just don’t recall there being anything like this when I was young enough to even want to watch the VMAs. Madonna is an obvious precursor, however, Madonna was clearly a pop starlet first and foremost; she may have pushed the limits of public and performative sexual expression but I don’t honestly think she ever intended anything other than the amplification of “Madonna” as a brand. Lady Gaga, staring blankly at the camera, hanging dead and covered with blood, just seems to be psyched to fuck with me. I don’t even think I like the song, although it’s a serviceable enough pop song. I just get the distinct impression that Gaga’s a calculated prankster, that her intentions are more the dissolution of pop celebrity than her own star power. Between this performance of “Paparazzi” and its official video, her WTF factor is epic. I’m clearly behind the buzz on this one, but the choreographed cripple dance? The martyrdom? The crazy? There are totally a million seven-year-olds soaking this stuff up. Which is kind of amazing and way more radical than Madonna having sex with Jesus [Editor’s note: not that Jesus]. Well, maybe not. But… wait for it…THERE’S BLOOD IN HER EYEBALL. That’s dedication.
by Chris Kiehne
Watch Kanye West Completely Ruin Taylor Swift’s “Best Female Video” VMA Win, Believes “Single Ladies” Best Video of Decade; Elsewhere, Kanye Apologizes (Sort Of: “I AM VERY HAPPY FOR TAYLOR” Followed By: “I GAVE MY AWARDS TO OUTKAST WHEN THEY DESERVED IT OVER ME”) [Entertainment Weekly]
Watch Trailer For Documentary On Michael Jackson’s Last Planned Tour, This Is It (From The Look of It, Film Features Less Emotive Footage of Jackson’s Last Days; More Dancing and Pyrotechnics) [Prefix]
Former Rolling Stones Guitarist Mick Taylor Broke As Hell; Meanwhile, Keith Richards Sleeps On Seemingly Bottomless Pile of Gold, Cocaine, and Mickey Mantle Rookie Cards [Prefix]
Jim Carroll, “Basketball Diaries” Author, Punk Frontman of The Jim Carroll Band, Passes Away at 60 [New York Times]
Atlanta Psych-Artists Deerhunter Announce Hiatus “For A Long Time”(Boo-Hiss); Frontman Bradford Cox Releases Atlas Sound LP Logos October 20 [Spinner]
Stream Toro y Moi Remix of Blog-Loved Washed Out Single “Feel it All Around;” – Not For Those With General Propensity To Feel Sadness/Regularly Tear Up At Brand New’s “Soco Amaretto Lime” [Gorilla vs. Bear]
compiled by Max Sebela
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s Frontman Alec Ounsworth Releases A Surprise Solo Album, Skin and Bones, Buy It Here; Ounsworth’s Solo Debut (Uh, I Guess Not Anymore…Follow-up?) Mo Beauty Released October 20 [Brooklyn Vegan]
Stream The Notebook Star Ryan Gosling’s Band Dead Man’s Bones’s New Song “My Body’s A Zombie For You”…Weirdly, That’s Exactly What The Song Is About, And Features A Chorus Of Children Singing About Said Zombies; Dead Man’s Bones Released October 6 [Pitchfork]
MTV Gives Up Times Square Studio, Famous As TRL’s Home – Backstreet Boys Unsure Of Where They’ll Announce Umpteenth Reunion Tour, And Perform A Capella Cover of Some Boyz II Men Song In Front Of Dwindling, School-Cutting Preteens [Idolator]
Stream Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) New Project Volcano Choir’s First Song “Island, IS” (This Song Is Proof That Bon Iver Could Record A Dance Album); Volcano Choir’s Debut, Unmap, Released September 22 [Pitchfork]
Dave Grohl, Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones’ Them Crooked Vultures Unveil 14 Seconds of Song, “Nobody Loves Me And Neither Do I” [Spin]
The Lower East Side to Tribeca And Now to Williamsburg New York Venue The Knitting Factory Announces Les Savy Fav Will Headline Their Opening Show On September 9; Knitting Factory Also Announces Plan To Get Priced Out In a Few Years, And Be Forced To Move Again [NME]
Popular LA Venue (And Birthplace of No Age and Abe Vigoda) The Smell Announces DVD Live at the Smell; Released September 1 [Pitchfork]
Norwegian Electopop Queen Annie’s Second Album Don’t Stop To Finally Be Released October 19, Nearly A Year After It Leaked [Pitchfork]
compiled by Max Sebela
The Pope Criticizes Glasgow Band For Destroying Bible. Let’s See How He Feels About Censorship After His Album Drops! [NME]
That’s Right, The Pope is Dropping his Debut LP This November. Holy Shit. [Prefix]
Watch Heath Ledger-Directed Video For Modest Mouse Song “King Rat” [Rolling Stone]
Another Reason I Prefer Ghostface: Method Man Allegedly Shoots Fan With Pellet Gun. [AllHipHop.com]
In Case You Cared, MTV Revealed The Nominees For 2009 VMAs [Idolator]
Unfortunately, Mistah F.A.B.’s “Hit Me On Twitter” Video Overlooked By VMAs, but We Think You Should Check It Out Anyway [Idolator]
Nick Cave Releasing Double CD, Will Be In NYC To Talk About His Book [Brooklyn Vegan]
My Bloody Valentine To Give Away Earplugs At Shows. But I Like That Battered Eardrum Feeling! [NME]
compiled by Erin Sheehy
April 17, 2009
Things are looking shitty for America right now – war, domestic strife, global hate, a disastrous economy, Hannah Montana: The Movie being the highest grossing movie, Fast & Furious being the second, etc. But as bad as things are, I’m sure the real question on everyone’s mind is: “do we really need another social-political album from Green Day, the band that got its name from weed and garnered its fame from a song about masturbation?” Though Rolling Stone may be screaming “oh god yes,” others may be feeling a bit more wary about the preaching from American Idiot having bloomed into 21st Century Break Down, a full-fledged rock opera of half-backed, extreme-leftist idealism.
Already, its first single “Know Your Enemy” – a rally against the Man, making sure you know who the Man is, and not becoming the Man – is hard to take seriously. Even if Billie Joe is a good songwriter, what the hell does a pampered rock-star living in Cali know about social upheaval? Having him spout revolutionary ideals at you is like getting bar-b-que tips from a vegetarian. Maybe if the song was called “Know Your Eye Liner” it would actually have some cred.
More on Green Day: Know Your Place