Category Archives: Music
No full post here– just needed to take a moment from your day to let you know how insanely awesome the new Iceage record is. You’re Nothing was released just a few days ago, and already it’s topping seriously solid debut albums from Foxygen, Criminal Hygiene, and more for best release of 2013 thus far. Young, loud, fast, and as if that weren’t enough, Danish, Iceage are one quartet who really know how to craft a powerful, near-perfect punk record.
Please check out my Audiocred You’re Nothing Review for full details on this devilishly awesome LP. Plus, stay tuned for a far lengthier post on the totally epic, totally unexpected garage rock revival- revival (one ‘revival’ just doesn’t seem like enough) of 2013.
It may be Super Bowl Sunday, but the only hot-button debate I want in on is the one currently revolving around The Strokes’ new single, “One Way Trigger.” What do we think? Does it suck? If so, then how much? On a scale of one-to-ten, I’d say… actually, hold on. Let me think about this for a minute.
The Strokes are a band that require no introduction; as bona fide indie rock legends and a New York institution unto themselves, the Strokes are credited with (almost) single-handedly reviving the garage-rock genre and making leather jackets cool again (okay, so leather jackets have never NOT been cool.)
2011′s Angles was a major disappointment– over-ambitious, over-produced, over-everything– and, up until very recently, that was the last we’d heard of Casablancas and Co. You can imagine my excitement earlier this year, when the possibility of a new single was announced. All around the blogosphere, expectations were high, but it took practically no time at all for “One Way Trigger” to make an impact. Within what felt like seconds, the new Strokes’ jam was either the coolest late Christmas gift ever or the world’s biggest mega-flop.
As for me, I feel like “One Way Trigger” falls somewhere in between. Does it sound eerily similar to 1985′s saccharine sweet one-hit-wonder “Take On Me?” Um, that would be a yes. However, I’m not quite ready to give up on the Strokes just yet. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if the band’s new album– which drops miraculously near my birthday– is worth our time.
Until then, all we can do is keep our fingers crossed, pray to the garage-rock gods above, and listen to Is This It? for the millionth time.
If music serves as the soundtrack to our lives, then the end of the year serves as a time to look back– or listen back, rather– at some of our best and worst memories. For music fans and critics, 2012 was certainly memorable (although don’t we say that every year?), and I, at least, was thoroughly enthralled and entertained from January through December.
I remember reviewing two of the first big releases of the year– Sleigh Bells’ Reign of Terror and Cloud Nothings’ Attack on Memory, which came out around the same time– and thinking to myself, yeesh, it’s only January! And you know what? The rest of 2012 did not disappoint. Good music was never hard to come by, which is pretty great in my book.
2012 was a year of impressive debuts (Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, Metz, Grimes, etc) but mostly, it was a year of old favorites returning to their biggest and brightest forms. Cat Power, Fiona Apple, Beach House, and Grizzly Bear were among the many artists who released their best work to date, and best of all, have yet to show that they won’t continue to grow in 2013 and beyond.
But nobody knows what’s to come in 2013. And I like it that way. When December 21, 2012 came and went without a hitch, I was like, YES! I have time to catch up on Breaking Bad, and I’ll get to see– and hear– whatever the world throws at us crazy kids next. Writing end-of-year track and album lists for the next fifty years? I could live with that.
Top 12 Tracks of 2012
12. Azealia Banks- “212″
11. Grizzly Bear- “Yet Again”
10. Passion Pit- “I’ll Be Alright”
9. Animal Collective- “Today’s Supernatural”
8. Cloud Nothings- “Stay Useless”
7. CHVRCHES- “The Mother We Share”
6. Phedre- “Aphrodite”
5. Twin Shadow- “5 Seconds”
4. Tanlines- “Brothers”
3. Chromatics- “Kill For Love”
2. Cat Power- “Ruin”
1. Frank Ocean- “Pyramids”
Top Albums of 2012
12. White Lung- Sorry
11. Cloud Nothings- Attack on Memory
10. Thee Oh Sees- Putrifiers II
9. Crystal Castles- III
8. Kendrick Lamar- good kid, m.A.A.d. city
7. Sleigh Bells- Reign of Terror
6. Exitmusic- Passage
5. The Orwells- Remember When
4. Cat Power- Sun
3. Grizzly Bear- Shields
2. Chromatics- Kill For Love
1. Frank Ocean- Channel Orange
Life is hard when you’re Earl Sweatshirt. As a member of rambunctious L.A. rap collective Odd Future, you get into a little too much trouble. But when your mom finds out about the music you make, she promptly sends you away to Samoa (bummer). On the bright side, Earl’s exile is now the stuff of legend, and he’s marking his return to the game with new single “Chum.” On the track, Earl raps his woes– which range in topic from his race to his music to his father– over a dark, hypnotic beat. Life’s troubles never sounded so good.
Check out Earl’s recently released video for “Chum.” Kinda reminiscent of Tyler, the Creator’s “Yonkers” video, no? (which, side note, is an awesome song and video, regardless of how annoying Tyler can sometimes be.)
Michelle Williams may be an unorthodox choice of video vixen, but she performs the job masterfully in Wild Nothing’s “Paradise” clip. A cool, elegant track more than worthy of its name, “Paradise” finds the indie cinema starlet and Oscar nominee– and her Ray-Bans, obvs– on a wild, emotional journey from coast to coast. A hip young actress collaborating with an indie artist is not uncharted territory, but for an actress of Williams’ caliber, it is.
If you’re shooting for perfection, you can’t get much closer than Grizzly Bear’s most recent album, Shields. The beloved Brooklyn band’s highly anticipated fourth album did not disappoint, and one of its very best tracks is “Yet Again.” Melodic and hypnotic, the song is just enchanting, in the most not-cheesy way possible. On Shields, the guys from GB totally expanded their style, creating a collection of gentle (yet unexpected) tracks. “Yet Again” is one of the standouts, and its lonely, wacky, ice-skating themed video serves as the perfect introduction to my personal favorite season of winter.
The only thing is, I’m like, a little insulted. I took figure skating lessons for years (I even competed); I could have totally been in this video! I mean, I’m not Olympic level or anything, but I can promise you one thing: my scratch spin is a helluva lot better than that chick. Next time, guys, you’d better friggin’ call me (although I don’t do underwater scenes).
Everyone knows that there are concerts, and then there are CONCERTS. Capital C, italicized, bold faced, the works. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime, “I was there,” momentous occasion in a person’s life, after which he or she is never quite really the same.
For me, I’ve had just a couple of these momentous occasions. The first might be the first concert I ever attended and– let me just warn you right now– it was a doozy: Cut Copy, TV on the Radio, and Franz Ferdinand at the Theater at MSG. And, don’t worry, I also remember the date: October 17, 2005. The second was probably Daft Punk on Coney Island the summer I graduated high school. Crazy shit. But now, years and years later, New Order at Roseland Ballroom puts everything before it to shame.
I was so excited to get New Order tickets that I actually terrified my friends; luckily, they agreed to come along with me anyway. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worth it (to say the least). By the time we arrived at Roseland, which wasn’t even that late, the place was totally packed. Unlike many of the other shows I attend, the crowd was extremely diverse, with young and old alike. People were dancing even before anything happened, and when New Order finally took the stage, I pretty much lost my shit.
To me, it’s just so thrilling to think of the history that these men have witnessed; of course, any music fan knows how New Order formed from the ashes of Joy Division after Ian Curtis’s suicide in 1980. A lot of people love Joy Division, for reasons that include the incredible music that they produced in such little time together (for example their debut, Unknown Pleasures, is indisputably one of the greatest records of all time). However, I’ve always felt a special connection to Ian Curtis, especially this year of my life in particular, as I am 23 (the same age he was when he died). How can one person have seen so little, left so soon, and made such an impact? I think about this all the time, but that’s another post for another time, I suppose.
New Order is– or shall I say, was– Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, and Peter Hook, Joy Division’s remaining members. Peter Hook left the band in 2007 and, I gotta say, I’m totally bummed that I didn’t get to see him. But regardless, witnessing New Order as they are now is an extraordinary thing just in itself. New Order’s albums (particularly Movement and Power, Corruption and Lies) have been in constant rotation for much of my life, but listening to New Order has always been like listening to the Beatles, in the sense that they were a band I never imagined I’d get the chance to see live. Dancing among a crowd of hundreds to songs like “Blue Monday” and “5 8 6″ were things that I never dreamed I would do, but I can now say that I have.
Classics made up much of the set list, including “True Faith,” the gorgeous “Your Silent Face,” and mega-hit “Bizarre Love Triangle.” Of course, each one sounded bigger, brighter, and better played live than you might ever expect. “Age of Consent” was a particular treat for me, as it’s always been one of my favorites. That opening guitar? Killer. And you know that crazy solo towards the end of the song? I don’t know anyone else who could make it sing like Bernard Sumner can. It’s stupid, but I just wasn’t expecting them to be so damn good, after all these years.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I essentially lost all composure (and much of my dignity) the moment I heard the opening chords of “Ceremony.” A song written by Ian Curtis shortly before his death, it was New Order’s first single as a newly formed band, and it’s been my favorite song– period– since I was a teenager. Elegant, beautiful, and mesmerizing, I just let myself be swept away by all of the feelings that go hand-in-hand with being young, foolish, sad, ecstatic, and crazed — which for me, at least, are often one in the same.
Ian Curtis was eulogized in the show’s encore, which featured an array of Joy Division songs sung without their lead singer. As Bernard Sumner sang “Isolation” and, incredibly, “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” stirring and iconic images of Ian flashed across the backdrop of the stage. Dead for over thirty years, Ian still elicits cheers of love and adoration from a crowd, and I imagine it will be that way forever.
My friends and I left the venue feeling moved, emotional, yet altogether satisfied. I wish I had the live version to share, because it was simply breathtaking, but I’d love to close with a listen (if I can handle it) of “Ceremony.”
I saw Crystal Castles live for the first time about four years ago, and decided then that Alice Glass was pretty much the coolest person alive. Thin, petite, and so small that if you blink you quite literally may miss her, the girl has more boundless energy and unbridled bad-ass-ness than a thousand strapping men. To me, Crystal Castles’ 2008 debut is nothing short of a classic, and I was looking forward to hearing CC jams both old and new at their recent Roseland Ballroom show.
So is Alice Glass still the baddest bitch around? To quote the moronic gunslinger Sarah Palin (because, don’t you just miss her around this time of year?), You betcha. Thankfully, old favorites played a large part of the set (“Untrust Us,” “Courtship Dating,” and a super sick version of “Crimewave”) but truly, the highlights of the night were brand new tracks “Plague” and “Wrath of God.”
And while I wasn’t exactly in the eye of the hurricane– instead, off to the side of the riot/rave/cluster fuck of sweaty, dancing people– the show’s collective energy was enough to make me feel the full force of the storm. Alice literally throws herself into her crowds (at one point, I think they dropped her), and the adoration is pretty obviously mutual. Similarly, Ethan Kath just simply brings it every time, and during shows, CC’s sound is enhanced by a seriously thunderous live drummer.
HEALTH weren’t too shabby either; in my headphones, their sound is a bit more subdued, so I wasn’t expecting them to hit so hard, fast, or heavy. I would highly recommend a show of theirs any day (and also the lead guy’s dynamic long hair and dance moves.)
Check out the video for “Plague,” a quite excellent, dark, menacing track from Crystal Castles’ upcoming third self-titled release.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; “Ruin” is the best single of Cat Power’s career. It’s a true fact. Also true, is that Sun, Cat Power’s latest record, is so good, that I’ve barely listened to any other music since it’s been released.
I like this new bolder, daring Chan; if this is forty, then I can’t wait to be over the hill myself. Opening track “Cherokee” is an example of the mature, risky Cat Power that reigns supreme on Sun, and its just-released sci-fi crime thriller video is just weird and wacked-out enough to work. I saw Cat Power live several years ago, and she was frail, fragile, and barely moved an inch from the stage floor. I’ve always adored this type of delicate beauty that exudes from Chan’s music, from her smoky voice to her moments of near-silence. But Sun is a welcome respite; a progressive album from an artist who’s only gotten better with age.
“I’m still not sure how I feel about Grimes.”
I tweeted this exact phrase to the world just a few months ago (yeah, I tweet– get over it.) And, I’ll admit that, while I’m still not totally, 100% sold on the chick, Grimes is definitely growing on me. My initial ambivalence toward her made me nervous; usually, either I really, really love things, or I really hate them. To me, mediocrity is basically the worst sin against nature that there is. So, if something has me saying, ‘meh,’ I know it’s usually not worth my time.
However, Grimes’ new “Genesis” video is definitely worth the effort. It’s hard to tell what the fuck is going on in the trippy, bizzar-o five-and-a-half minute epic. But damn, that synth beat really gets to me! It’s still a work-in-progress with you, Grimes, but hey, girl; I’m willing to put the work in if you are.