Category Archives: Music

Yes, Nick Cave Is Singing About Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus

Nick Cave: Genius? Crazy? Both? We’re leaning both, after not only confirming today on chance listen to “Higgs Boson Blues” from his amazing new album, that he does indeed rhyme “Hannah Montana” with “African Savannah” to start off a verse. He also envisions Miley Cyrus at Toluca Lake, and invokes Robert Johnson. Well, we were at least expecting that last one.

Have a crack at the lyrics yourself, on the laughably-named Song Meanings website.

(Says one fan, “in my opinion it’s about someone who checks into a motel who writes down everything he is experiencing on his trip and stay there. i’m pretty sure it’s drug related.” You think?)

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Let Everybody Know!: More YYY Preview, Now With More Shimmery Guitars

So, Mosquito‘s coming — the first album in far-too-long from Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The second teaser preview is now up, shown here on NME, but it’s really everywhere — and it’s a more shimmery, elegant, ’90s sounding effort that seems a bit surprising (given the muscle of the title song and the Garbage Pail Kid on the cover). But since that seems to going around a bit these days, with the new My Bloody Valentine and all, maybe it’s right in line with what’s shaping up to be Shoegaze Year.

Let Everybody Know!: Cold War Kids Might Very Well Be Back

The perhaps back-in-form Cold War Kids.

Cold War Kids give their first glimpse of the pending April 2 release of Dear Miss Lonelyhearts with a (cue Rock Critic Adjective Generator) soaring, anthemic, urgent song called “Miracle Mile.” After the commercial-leaning, glossy disappointment that was 2011’s Mine Is Yours, which laid in sharp contrast to the brilliance of their earlier, rawer work.

There are some generally encouraging video hints to other album tracks here, with their arty black-and-white aesthetic fully intact.

Between this and the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs (more on this tomorrow), we may just spend April under headphones.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Porter Wagoner!

Going waaaaay back for this one — so, so wrong, and yet so, so right. No one writes lyrics like classic country artists, ya know?

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Liking the Art But Not What the Artist Did: Stereogum Reconciles Liking Chris Brown and Surfer Blood

There’s an interesting debate that Stereogum opened up on its site today — at face value, and based on the splashy photo, it looks like it’s going to be another “Chris Brown is bad” article, but it also brings up the domestic violence charges to which that Surfer Blood singer John Paul Pitts plead no contest — and the interesting question of when do we or do we not stick up for our favorite musicians and artists, even when they do loathsome things. Of course, the degree to which Chris Brown is awful, highlighted by one of The Onion’s finest moments in recent memory, overshadows what limited pop appeal he has, whereas the implication of the Stereogum article is while Pitts’ episode isn’t as egregious as Brown’s dubious rap sheet and accompanying bad-boy antics, Surfer Blood’s level of indie success is relatively low-watt.

(Where it gets interesting and gets to be a really tense, telling debate is where it got with Michael Jackson. First, he was an extremely rare artist in that he had extraordinary commercial and artistic success, crossing over globally like no one since the Beatles — or, perhaps, even more so, who was then accused of unspeakable crimes and succumbed to increasing aberrant behavior, and then died dramatically, creating a pandemic of mourning — and, as I’ll never forget, the first time I’d ever seen a single event wash over my Twitter feed into The Only Thing Everyone Was Talking About in a matter of minutes. Nothing had hit home before or since as to how connected music makes us and how technology allows us to do that, cutting across geography and caste and culture, in the moment.)

Also, Stereogum brings this up because the first glimpse of Surfer Blood’s new album, a catchy, off-kilter pop song with screaming and one-note piano worked into the hooky chorus, called “Weird Shapes,” just got released a few weeks ago. Stereogum calls it “Weezerly.” Even if it is, please, please never use that as an adjective in any scenario. The debate it opens up is perhaps too important to neglect or dismiss — even though the converge of Chris Brown and Surfer Blood news might be a slightly forced landscape in which to start it.

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Beyonce: Stage On Fire, Shower of Sparks Guitar, and Other Awesomeness From Last Night

Things we liked about last night’s halftime show at the Super Bowl, featuring an up-and-coming songstress named Beyonce, who you might know best from being a member of Houston-based R&B group Destiny’s Child:

1. The things on fire.

The pyrotechnics made us feel like Beavis and Butthead in vintage “Fire! Fire!” mode, as it looked like Beyonce, at points, was going to be engulfed by the flames on the stage, if not for her flame-repellent lingerie.

The best thing on fire might have been the guitar, though. Deadspin captures it nicely here, along with the observation that “Beyonce doesn’t do anything figuratively.” Of course, though, that moment reminded us of this Ace Frehley solo, which in turn reminded us of this Nigel Tufnel solo.

2. The “performance.”

Dancing. Lots of motion. Alleged singing (with mysterious vocals not created by any of the mouths on stage), with Shaq playfully adding his perspective to the Inauguration lip-synching controversy. This blogger, noting that Beyonce was an incarnation of the Hindu warrior goddess Durga on stage, also noted that one online critic panned the whole show as “Breasts of the Southern Wild.” Both views seem extreme. We do love that Beyonce inspires this range of reactions.

3. Production values

So, there was the stage itself, that looked like the cover art for a 1973 Alice Walker novel (amirite?), but there was also so much high-tech gadgetry and electricity in the halftime show that, when a power surge made the Superdome look like “every movie about football ever, minus the torrential downpour” (according to an astute Deadspin writer), that I called the inevitable flood of “Beyonce caused the blackout” tweets to follow.

4. Destiny’s Child reunion. We, of course, blew this call. After seeing Beyonce diva her way through this performance, we thought, “No way she’ll share the stage with them.” But, she made them pop up from under the stage, as if summoned (because she’s DURGA), and then made them sidekicks. Genius.

We loved it. (Then again, at that point, the game was awful. It was compelling late. But, wow, American football takes forever. Especially during the Super Bowl.)

My Bloody Valentine: The Indie “Chinese Democracy,” Unveiled

More than 20 years in the making. No, not kidding.

Gather ’round, kids, and let me tell you a story about one of the most heralded bands of the ’90s. They were called My Bloody Valentine. They were British. They were proponents of a movement called “shoegaze,” named for the predilection of bands in that movement to stare at their shoes (and, really more like it, their abundance of guitar pedals), while they played.

MBV leader Kevin Shields, in much the way that Billy Corgan is the leader/all-everything of Smashing Pumpkins, set out to make an album called Loveless — an amazing album that comes with its own cautionary tale of studio excess — which nearly bankrupted its record label and took so, so long to finally come out.

But not compared to this — there’s a new MBV album, called MBV, which Shields just casually announced on the Internets a few days ago, after an incubation period of more than 20 years.

Here’s the YouTube stream of the new album, as lovingly play-by-played by Gothamist. (The sound you’re hearing, aside from many individual guitar tracks painstakingly laid over one another by an engineer whose eyes are doing the ka-ching cartoon dollar-sign lightup, is the sound of Indie Nation collectively stopping to listen. Enjoy. If you’re truly indie, that is.)

“Sometimes You Need a Nap and You’re Nazis” — A “Live” Review of Sorts

Note: Since these are personal reactions to a show I attended, I’m temporarily abandoning the royal we for I, so we refers to either collective audience or the me-and-my-friend duo who attended the concert together.

Last night, Cat Power played a live show at ACL Live in Austin. Despite past accounts of unsteady, mercurial live shows due to a variety of bad influences, she’s allegedly more consistent live now than she’s ever been, and her new album, Sun, is more winsome, positive, and actualized than anything she’s done to date.

Then again, that doesn’t mean her FANS are keeping it together.

I can’t imagine that row H in the ACL Live balcony is a representative row of showgoers, unless there were two people passed out in every row. But that’s what we had up in H — someone in my seat (perhaps 25, female, buzzcut dyed great, nosering) who had to be revived before she moved, upon which she instantly started hating me. (I have this effect on people.)

Then, a little later, as a couple was trying to get seated, there was another woman a few seats over who was passed out. The usher revived her, and escorted her out — at which point, Buzzcut and I had a brief conversation.

Buzzcut: That’s normal.
Me: Yeah, for this row.
Buzzcut: Well, sometimes you just need a nap and you’re Nazis.

My friend got lumped in with me as a Nazi, though she really had nothing to do with it. As with this reviewed “hypnotic” show the night before in Dallas, the show was heavy on atmosphere-absorption and rapt attention, and not so heavy on “motion” or “getting into it.” We got shushed talking during a song, christened the one guy-in-motion we could see moving in the GA standing section up front as “Nodding Guy,” and spotted only six people (out of several thousand) clapping along with Chan Marshall during a song late in the set.

Apparently, sometimes you need a nap far more than you need a rock concert.

First (Critic-Jaundiced) Look at the Coachella Lineup

Randall Roberts, at the typically-solid Pop & Hiss column at the Los Angeles Times, gives this view of the just-announced Coachella 2013 lineup, with an interesting question framing it: since this is going to sell out, do we give the people what they want or what they need? Which leads to intriguing question about promoters Goldenvoice — do they really have the sense of what Coachella attendees want or need, or are they just making best guesses through the amalgam of influencers and narrowcast websites and strategic album release dates (for the sake of illustration here, I’m just going to say album) that we all make a habit of peeking at fervently?

More questions: How much of a curatorial hand is in this festival lineup? How much more or less is there conscious curation here than in other festivals? And what does that say about our music consumption patterns and our collective vs. fractured senses of audience — exhibited most clearly in what bands we align ourselves with, and under what banners we come together under?

(Pondering this mainly because the article points out that younger fans know Lou Reed solely from the failed collaboration with Metallica, and that’s just too depressing on three different levels to even contemplate.)

Date a Rock Star (Or, At Least, A Kill Rock Stars Recording Artist)

So, kind of a weird move for the label that’s the de facto home to the Riot Grrrl Movement, but we’re kind of enamored by it. So, New York-based Marnie Stern (think of a more in-tune version of labelmate Thao With The Get Down Stay Down) has an album coming out on Kill Rock Stars called — wait for it — The Chronicles of Marnia (GROAN), and to celebrate, gentlemen in the Tri-State Area have the chance to win a date with her.

You can’t be a vegan and must live within subwayable distance to do the date — the not-at-all-intimidating questions include “List any anti-depressants you currently take” and “What would your most recent ex-girlfriend say about you? Can we get her email?”

You’d be taking her out on the release date, March 19. I think this is going to work out really well.