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The Wanderer: Dirty Beaches and Rock Iconography

8 Feb

In underground music, in spite of insisting that things like back-stories and personae are stupid and that music should be all about the music, man, most of us rock fans are suckers for iconography. It’s what separates the Ramones from the Wipers, the Strokes from A.R.E. Weapons, the notable faces from any culture or subculture from the undervalued artists and also-rans. Kurt Cobain used it to his advantage and became the biggest rock star in the world by pretending it was the very thing he didn’t want. Stephen Malkmus’ persona came from slight shrugs and Delphic lyrics, eventually becoming a slacker poster boy in the process. Even if you feign not giving a shit hard enough, you can become an icon from it. Your personality is turned into your persona, it goes the long way around.

Others have made their rock star careers much simpler by just plucking the best fruit from the trees of culture, combining many elements– including their own experiences– and fusing them together in order to cultivate an image that they see fit enough for their type of performances. 50’s iconography started to pop up in little corners of music in 2011, white t-shirts and sock hop dresses rippling in the wind down a long stretch of highway. It was an era hardly tapped by the preservationists of culture up to this point– except during the seventies, with Happy Days appropriating the fifties and early American punk nicking the aesthetic of surf culture and then feeding it back to them in short, distorted, provocative blasts– as the four decades that come after it have been endlessly mined for style and inspiration. I’m not exactly complaining that people had to live through post-punk two separate times; I’m just saying black fades in the laundry when you wash it too often.

The 2011 appropriation of 50s culture seemed fresh because it’s been a while since the last time anybody’s bothered to swipe cues from it. And out of the people who pinched a few tricks from the era, no artist did it with as much panache and creativity as Alex Zhang Hungtai, who records under the name Dirty Beaches. Continue reading


Hurts So Good: The Glitter-Coated Sex Sounds of The Weeknd

2 Apr

My nighttime activities generally pose a constant problem for me: I’m horrible–HORRIBLE–at the club scene.  Here is a brief true and verbatim excerpt from my most recent night out when a guy started dancing with my friend:

Friend: No thanks
Guy: *shrugs, continues*
Me: I think you should stop! I think you should respect her boundaries as a woman!

Cool, professional club chitchat at its finest. But basically, the crux of my issue is this: I’m incapable of processing the sensory/sensuality/Redbull & vodka-soaked cave of makeup-melting grinding and dirty bathroom fights they call
“the club,” but I also enjoy a good night of debauchery, dancing, and a few choice items from the pharmaceutical takeout menu. My most recent solution to this puzzle has arrived in the form of 20-year old Abel Tesfaye AKA The Weeknd. Current speculation around the internet has him ushering in the next level of R&B and people are losing their minds over the distorted Beach House samples in his tracks. Continue reading

Breaking News: New iPhone app makes shit REAL

18 Jan

We all know Shazam is SHAMAZING. I use that thing so often it’s totally embarrassing. However, its effectiveness aside, it’s made me wish there was something for those moments where you’re like “OH MY GOD THIS NAMELESS SONG IS STUCK IN MY HEAD AND I’M GOING TO GO CRAZY IF I CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHAT IT IS.”

Welp dudes, WISH NO MORE. Yup, THE INTERNET GODS HAVE HEARD OUR PRAYERS. Enter SoundHound, a new app that is basically Shazam without music: sing or hum that earworm straight into your microphone and, in a

s little as four seconds, WHAM. You just made magic. Unless you’re terrible at humming, which, let’s face it, like no one with a coherent larynx is.

Best part? IT’S. FREE. Unless you buy the $4.99 version, but I don’t even care enough to find out what the difference is because I’m so excited about the whole idea of this anyway.

Make haste, my dear friends. Download this shit YESTERDAY.

(Urban Daddy)

Top Girl Crushes of 2010, The Music Edition

3 Jan

10.  Regine Chassagne of the Arcade Fire
The Suburbs – August 3, 2010
The adorable wife of Arcade Fire frontman, Win Butler, with infectious vocals and accordion riffs.  Regine had a much more prominent presence on Arcade Fire’s release of “The Suburbs” than their releases in past years: She fronted vocals on “Sprawl II” and even performed them live on Saturday Night Live, ribbon-dancing and all.

9. CocoRosie
Grey Oceans – May 11, 2010
The sisters Bianca (“Coco”) and Sierra (“Rosie”) are so incredible freak folk that they can pull it off as something adorable.  They released their fourth studio album and their Sub-Pop Records debut album Grey Oceans on May 11th.   And despite their affinity for blue-grey facial hair on both old and young versions of themselves in their music video for “Lemonade,” I was STILL able to get passed my creeped out vibes and crush on CocoRosie this year.

8.  Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1 – November 22, 2010
Remember that 1993 house hit “Show Me Love?”  This is that same Robyn Carlsson!  Though she’s been rocking a hardly changed platinum, asymmetrical haircut since her first hit, Robyn’s musical influences have changed immensely.  Her first strands of music were much more 90’s R&B influenced, but in the last year, Robyn has pumped out some fantastically driven synthpop dance anthems.  She’ll make you want to dance while cutting and bleaching and coiffing all your hair.

7. Nicki Minaj
Pink Friday – November 22, 2010
Multiple personas, Cockney accents, Kool-Aid wigs: COME ON, OF COURSE SHE WOULD BE ON THIS LIST.  Nicki is fiercely imaginative and I feel like female rappers of this caliber were on a long hiatus until she ripped through 2010.  [I also feel like Nicki’s blonde wigs make her look like Dolly Parton sometimes.]  I would say Nicki is a guilty fly-ass pleasure, but I honestly don’t feel any guilt for loving her.  Pink Friday won me over completely and is solid proof that this girl is going to be around for a long time, starting a whole new generation of Liz Lemonesque aspiring female rappers.

6.  Lykke Li
“Get Some” – November 10, 2010
Lykke Li first came onto the scene in 2008 with the release of her album Youth Novels.  Recently she released the music video for her new single “Get Some.”  It’s much darker and sexed up than she’s been in the past.  AND IT IS REALLY GOOD.  Girlcrushing from one music video is saying a lot and probably ridiculous.  BUT IT’S REALLY GOOD.

Continue reading

Courtney Love is a kook

29 Sep

Oh man you guys. Do I even have to say anything about Michael Mouris’ short film “Dark Night of the Soul”? It’s hilarious, awesome, Courtney Love plays herself? Karl Lagerfeld and Michael Stipe make “cameos”? Oh God, it’s so good. Please just go watch it at WWD because I have work to do and I’m only posting here to show how dedicated I am to bringing you news and stuff.


Pulling Shapes in the Dark: The Smooth Night Moves of Trailer Trash Tracys

14 Sep

I wasn’t going to nightclubs in the 1980s and my only points of reference are the tacky, neon-lit dance cave full of crimped side ponytails and leather-on-bare-chest action in The Terminator and the smoky hipster-punk haven guarded by the big burly bouncer that wouldn’t let Ducky in in Pretty In Pink, but I feel pretty confident in saying Trailer Trash Tracy could’ve easily booked shows at both of those (most likely fictional) places.

The London four-piece, whose name’s origin is a mystery–although it is purported to be borrowed from either a Soviet burlesque act in the 1920s or a death metal bar in Sweden–came together just as their other band was falling apart. The previous band, which featured lead vocalist Suzanne Aztoria and guitarist Jimmy Lee, felt too contrived for the two and they broke off to form Trailer Trash Tracys. Though their former project was pop/indie rock, Aztoria and Lee, now joined by drummer Dayo James and Adam Jaffrey on bass guitar, decided to do something different.

Continue reading

This is where we pretend the VMAs are relevant.

13 Sep

Let’s talk about the MTV Video Music Awards! I know it’s 2010, music videos are almost nonexistent, and MTV doesn’t even play anything related to music anymore so no one should care about the VMAs. But, again, it’s 2010 and that means the internet is here so I can talk about the VMAs at length because that is why the internet was invented. I watch these things so you don’t have to. Well no, I watch them so I can remind myself that yes, I am a twenty-two year old college graduate who spent her Sunday night drinking wine and watching an award show that gave out moonmen to a woman wearing a dress made out of meat BUT, at the end of the day, I am still somehow better than a barefoot country singer who wrote a heartfelt song about the time someone INTERRUPTED her at an IRRELEVANT “award” show that once told us that Natalie Imbruglia and Macy Gray were best new artists who would go on to have long and fruitful careers in the music industry.

Listen, Swift, I get it. It must really suck to be rich and talented and have someone else who is rich and talented tell you that a pointless award given to a video you did not write or direct should have gone to a different person who also did not write or direct their video. It is terrible and ruins your life and when you go home, you only have  ridiculous amount of money, awards, family, and fans to keep you warm at night. Life’s tough! More importantly, the music industry is tough! It’s full of fame and success and Biebers! Sometimes it’s overwhelming and you have to write a song about it. That’s fine, but you don’t go on television and perform it live after showing clips of that fateful day Kanye West took a microphone, you do not metaphorically pat him on the back and proclaim he’s innocent and tell him he’s still growing up. You write that song in your diary, you rip those pages out, and you burn them because it’s embarrassing. This is not 9/11, this is not a day that will live in infamy, this is not even on a Tupac vs. Biggie level. This is a knock-knock interrupting cow joke on a show created by a network that has launched the career of a tiny guidette who firmly believes that “tan” is a race. This is not important.

Anyway, let’s recap the awards in music video form: short and pointless! Continue reading