Category Archives: Music

Yo La Tengo and the Nerdiest, Most Awesome Hour of Radio You Probably Missed

KEXP is one of our primary loves and mainstays — though tastemaking is a hallmark of any indie music media outlet, there are ways not to do it (smug recommendations smacking of “What, you don’t know about this yet?”) and the KEXP way, which is to be inclusive and friendly and enthusiastic, but unafraid to be taken through detours on a Road Map to Complete Up-to-Dateness.

Like, say, earlier today — after Yo La Tengo’s live set, and prior to their Easy Street Record store appearance (as part of a short but awesome West Coast tour with four dates, four cities, four record store concerts), Ira Kaplan joined DJ Kevin Cole in the booth to play 45s he’d found while record shopping during the prior two record store dates. The playlist (start from the bottom and scroll up) reveals a fascinating look at what inspires living indie legend bands like Yo La Tengo, but also the joy in being a collector and reveling in the audio snapshots of prior eras.

The set started with this amazing Amboy Dukes song — with this priceless exchange during the DJ break:

Kevin: “You know, Ted Nugent’s in that band.”

Ira: “Yeah, I know. That’s problematic. It’s a moral dilemna.”

(Go to the archive if you want to hear it for yourself.)

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Trenchant Social Commentary About, Well, Etsy

Courtesy of Portlandia (note to self: watch much, much more Portlandia) comes something that’s not only hilarious, trenchant social commentary about the Etsy set, but also the catchiest song we’ve heard in a while. Please bring us the full version of “She’s Making Jewelry Now” (though the snippets are awesome).

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Let Everybody Know!: Backing Into Details on the New Yeah Yeah Yeahs Album


Today, the fine folks at Stereogum reported that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (one of our favorite bands, except for the annoying habit of taking three years to record a studio album) debuted two songs from the anticipated upcoming album at a show in Pomona, Calif. on Friday night. The hilarity of Karen O yelling, “YEAH, Pomona!” was only matched by Stereogum committing some pretty egregious dancing about architecture. (“A simplistic and confident martial stomp,” anyone?) That song (which might be called “Suck Young Blood,” according to Stereogum, or possibly “Mosquito”, plus another new one which might be called “Earth,” have a definite return-to-Show Your Bones-era-YYY feel about them.

Then, an hour later, the band revealed the album’s new name (Mosquito), the release date (April 16), the album cover (which is a hideous-yet-hilarious shout out to the Garbage Pail Kids), and the mystery You Tube clip at the top of this post, which looks/sounds like the first gathering minute of something totally explosive and wonderful, though, on further, repeat, obsessive listens, it’s a sampling from the near-end of “Mosquito.” (Stereogum termed it “a not-very-revealing minute-long trailer for the album,” but then again, Stereogum commenters had to point out the obvious GPK reference.)

Anyhow, new Yeah Yeah Yeahs approaching. There’s a new Justin Timberlake jam featuring Jay-Z leaked today, for God’s sake, and yet, we’re more excited about this.

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Let Everybody Know!: Your Youth’s Battery EP, Breaking Land Speed Records for Joy


As you’re noticing so far, much of Pop Culture Diary tends toward the sneer/snicker end of the spectrum, looking for the unintentional humor or unintended consequences of things. But it’s impossible to find a KDOC New Year’s Eve special every day. Some days, we just like things here — hence, Let Everybody Know! (named for the Chuck D exhortation in Sonic Youth’s unparalleled “Kool Thing,” in which we praise things without trying to get all Pitchforkian/rock-critic-ese about them.

Let it be said: We (royal we) LOVE the new Your Youth EP. Hailing from Brooklyn Land of Hipsters, Your Youth [(FB page) (MySpace page) (Wait, bands still have these?) (Bandcamp page)], they’ve recently released a five-song EP, Battery, that’s a burst of awesome.

Think: joyful, not dissimilar to fellow two-piece-that’s-louder-than-a-two-piece Japandroids, Thermals, Built to Spill, Quasi. Spotify gives you the full five-song package in the order they intended, but there are a few places on the Internet to troll for freebies. We found:

“What Smarts,” the EP’s opener

“Fresh Film,” song #2, which definitely has that “dream of the ’90s is alive in Portland” vibe to it — and I really mean that in the best way possible

“Brain Swimming,” the third song, which brings the inevitable Nirvana comparisons — as they do the repeated hook-line into full-out-rock move very well here.

“Thick Gold (Bodied),” the fourth song, which Spinner featured last month — including this quote about what the song means:

“It’s about that weird feeling of being half out of control of your own destiny, drifting a little more than you’d like, but finding yourself simultaneously unnerved by, and yet okay with, that. Floating, and then snapping back into focus and grabbing at whatever’s in front of you. And then floating again. Basically the way you feel when you actually handle that weird woven fake gold. It’s strange because it’s cold, but it’s got this great texture, so you want to keep holding it. But you also just want to put it down.” — Guitarist AJ Wolosekno

I know EXACTLY what you mean. (That is, to say: Not at all.)

“Lush,” the last song, which is not only a great closing song, but evokes memories of Lush, though I don’t think that was their intention.

So: Your Youth. Totally enjoyable. Who knows how hard they’re trying? Let’s hope hard enough to get a tour together soon.

Robot Rock: Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades,” As Played By Robots

Some days, there’s plenty to say about whatever we discover on the Internet. And some days, all there is to say is “awesome” with a link to what’s awesome. Courtesy of Dangerous Minds, here are three robots (collectively known as Compressorhead) playing Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.” Aside from not having Lemmy’s gravelly vocals, this is spot-on, with a four-armed drumming robot to boot. (The drums are a little heavy in the mix, perhaps, but otherwise, everything about this is whoa-worthy.)


The Royal Baby (Well, At Least, America’s Royal Baby)

Screen shot 2013-01-03 at 8.22.40 AM

Who’s excited about the Kimye baby? The Kardashians! And their producers! Graphic credit: New York Daily News

You’ve heard, by now, that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are having a baby. Kim is 12 weeks along, which means, with a gestation period of around 40 weeks, that we’ll only be inundated with updates about this storyline for another 28 weeks. Then there will be a birth around mid-summer, and then there will be a paparazzi scramble for first baby photos which may or may not involve dressing up like hospital staff, and it’s going to be such a beautiful celebration of the miracle of life.

Clearly, Kanye’s found the love he talked about not getting enough of in 2011’s “Monster” — as he noted in 2012’s “Clique,” “My girl a superstar all from a home movie,” which is, well, a rather doting, boyfriendy, euphemistic version of how Kim first entered public consciousness.

Given that Kanye is documenting the relationship in real-time as well as in his music — he delivered the “she’s having my baby” news during a New Year’s Eve performance of “Runaway” in Atlantic City, after all — 2013 should bring us some awesome stream-of-conscious, Kanye-talking-about-whatever’s-front-and-center-in-Kanye’s-mind rapping about 3 a.m. bottle feedings and diaper changes. (Question: Does Gucci make diapers?)

But, unfortunately for Kanye, Kim Kardashian brings with her the rest of the Kardashian Klan and the camera crew (kamera krew?) that is surgically attached to it, which might be a little too much spotlight for Mr. Hard to Be Humble When You’re Stuntin’ On a Jumbotron.

E! (of course, E!) has announced that it will be filming throughout the pregnancy. Us Weekly reports:

“Kim and Kanye are an incredibly dynamic couple, and their baby news is just so exciting,” network president Suzanne Kolb tells The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. “Like so many Kardashian fans, we love it when this close-knit family gets even bigger.”

(A Hollywood Reporter source hints that their infant will appear on camera, saying that the network “will continue to cover all aspects of Kim’s life as it always has.”)

And this New York Daily News article does an outstanding job of capturing the Kardashian Klan’s subtle, understated, taking-to-Twitter joy about the whole thing. (Special points to Kendall Jenner for trying to get Kimye to happen. Nothing will ever beat Brangelina as a celebrity couple name. Though it turns out Kimye is, upon a quick Googling, gaining a bit of traction. THIS CANNOT STAND.)

Also, Glamour’s already attempting to name the baby. (Limiting themselves to K names, of course.)

In-utero Twitter account? Side-by-side baby bump comparison photos of Kim and Kate Middleton as the royal pregnancies progress? Gossip mags clamoring to be the first to announce the gender once it becomes possible to do so? Look for this to reach new levels of amazing in the coming 28 (again, that’s 28) weeks.

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Jake Owen, Meet America (Via the Orange Bowl Halftime Show)

Jake Owen, flexing at the Orange Bowl. (Photo Credit: Getty Images, by way of Roadrunner.)

By the way: There are 35 bowls in the college football landscape, and January 1 is no longer the most important day of bowl season — the better bowls continue into the next week. The big bowls don’t even consistently fall on the same days anymore, for reasons that will be boring and not germane to this. What is germane to this: This year, we have the Orange Bowl as the final game of New Year’s Day, which means the super-long halftime show (once astutely mocked by the Simpsons, once inadvertently mocked by Ashlee Simpson’s performance) is returned to its rightful place of entertaining families numb from the day-long football marathon.

But, because ESPN is airing the Orange Bowl, it’s no longer quite the horriblawesome convergence of art and sport that it tried to be during its bygone-era airings on NBC, including a magic show gone awry, the Disney Electrical Parade inside a stadium (where it was never meant to be), and the most uncomfortable ZZ Top may have ever been.

Well, at least it’s no longer that for TV viewers. I’m sure that people inside the stadium were exposed to the full onslaught of pointless backing dancers and superfluous laser displayes. But those of us in TV land only saw three minutes of Jake Owen — one of those performances which look potentially parodic, but dishearteningly reveals itself to be real via the sort of earnest delivery that says, “We’re making art here — it might be bad art, but it’s art.”

America got to witness “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” which, according to this article, confirms that the chorus forwards the sentiment, “Never gonna grow up! Never gonna slow down!” — with verses that detail hanging out and drinking beers by the fire, to which Owen added Orange Bowl-specific lyrics about hanging out about the Orange Bowl.

(Sample, non-Orange Bowl referencing lyrics: “Blue eyes and auburn hair/Sittin’ lookin’ pretty by the fire in a lawn chair/New to town, and new to me/Her ruby red lips was sippin’ on sweet tea.” Lyrical analysis: Jake Owen admires women at parties with the limited vocabulary of many of his fans. Auburn hair is fairly exacting, though, so points for that.)

Though I’d rather see wind-blown magic or crotch-centric performances from the likes of The Boss and The Purple One’s Super Bowl extravaganzas when I’m witnessing halftime entertainment, it’s nice to see that there’s some level of pomp in the Orange Bowl shows — Owen did plenty of good-looking country-singer flexing to augment what the drill team armada in front of the stage was doing. (And a quick note on his band: Banjo player. Always awesome.)