Category Archives: Tastemaking

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.

ESPN’s Music Issue Lets You Know: Yep, It’s February

So, the Super Bowl’s over, the NBA’s heading toward the always-entertaining All-Star Weekend (but the admittedly lackluster All-Star midseason caesura), baseball’s not quite yet in preseason, and hockey’s made itself irrelevant — taking care of the Big Four sports. So ESPN The Magazine decided to make the latest issue “The Music Issue,” which means photo shoots in which willing athletes try to help you shake off the winter doldrums by posing in costumes made to look like album covers. So, Alex Morgan dresses up like Katy Perry (giggity), MLB stars dress up like Devo on the Freedom of Choice cover (why?), Ryan Lochte undresses up like the baby on the Nirvana Nevermind cover (double why), and Josh Freeman dons the white suit (and a stuffed baby tiger) to replicate Michael Jackson’s Thriller, forever making him “the guy who posed as Michael Jackson for ESPN the Magazine that one time.” And NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson as Bob Dylan? Imagined staff meeting at ESPN the Magazine this week: “Okay, the costumes were fun — NFL DRAFT IN TWO MONTHS! GET ON THAT NOW!”

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.)

Would You Go On a Crazy Blind Date? (Not Shockingly, Not Everyone Would)

So, OKCupid, which is probably the least creepy of the online dating sites, created a new site called Crazy Blind Date, which allows you to set up random dates with random people — even more so than the regular OKCupid site. How it works — you register, it “scrambles” your photo unconvincingly, you pick locations, dates and times where you’re willing to meet, and then the magic will or won’t happen.

Venture Beat’s Christina Farr tried it out and documented it for the site — the highlight might be telling prospective first-daters to “step their game up” and suggest something better than Dunkin’ Donuts for a first date. She also mentions that all the user photos for OKCupid went dark for a day to promote the new venture — we do know, possibly from empirical evidence, that one photo ended up being LeVar Burton as Tuvok from Star Trek: The Next Generation. (We might have contacted that user just to let her know that was happening.)

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.)

Shetland Ponies in Sweaters: We Can Feel the Internets Breaking

As part of an innovative marketing campaign from VisitScotland (tasked with the unfortunate mission of getting tourists to visit Scotland), they’ve seized upon a campaign involving two delightfully-small Shetland ponies, photographed standing on pastoral Scottish landscapes in TOTALLY ADORABLE KNIT SWEATERS, Y’ALL.

The people of the Internets have noticed. They’ve totally noticed. Oh, have they noticed.

(They really are adorable.)

Michelle Obama vs. John Boehner, As Seen By Gawker

Oh, if it were only so. The typically-awesome Gawker found a GIFed moment from the Inaugural Dinner in which First Lady Michelle Obama gives a major dismissive eyeroll to House Speaker John Boehner. Or, as the kids call it, “throwing shade.”

The new hypothesis emerging today is slightly less fun — that it was a response to Boehner apparently joking with the Still-President about his on-again/off-again smoking and how the little lady won’t let him smoke anymore. (“Wives! They put the kibosh on fun! Amirite?”)

While a wholly plausible hypothesis, it’s much more fun to imagine the shade-throwing is more a function of the First Lady being generally dismissive of Boehner rather than specifically dismissive. (Though an eyeroll for his spray-tanned complexion would be warranted as well.)

Get Ready For Two Weeks of “Harbaugh Bowl”

Forget baseball: Football’s supplanted it as America’s favorite pastime, and today’s AFC and NFC Championship gave us, in San Francisco and Baltimore, two worthy Super Bowl XLVII opponents (because you can’t call it 47, and in many ads, you can’t call it the Super Bowl, which is why you’ll hear radio ads on sports talk stations, for instance, hypothetically, call it “The Big Game”).

Also, though, there’s this: Because the NFL has deemed it necessary to have a two-week build-up leading up to the Big Game (it used to be just a week), there’s more of a need than in prior, saner, smaller-Roman-Numeral versions of the Big Game to have a storyline to hype. It’s perfect this year: brothers are coaching the two finalists — Jim Harbaugh for the 49ers (translation: Golddiggers) and John Harbaugh for the Ravens (translation: “Nevermore!“). Ergo: Harbaugh Bowl. Storyline: Found. Easy.

This article explains (along with some creepy Photoshopping of brothercoaches with headsets standing just a leeeeetle too close together) a little bit more about why it’s the Harbaugh Bowl and just who Jim and John are.

So, you’ll hear it. And hear it. And hear it. All leading up the Second Biggest Eating Day of the Year. (‘MERICA!)

Harry Potter as Ginsberg: No Kidding (And Other Tidbits From Sundance)

This in from the LA Weekly on Sundance, via an “I’m clicking on that” headline about “Sex with James Franco” (which is really just a pretty-much irrelevant tidbit at the end of the article about a project that not that many people will end up seeing, unless the 50 Shades of Gray wave is cresting rather than crashing against the shores of cultural relevance). The big news in the early reporting is an intriguing love triangle gone wrong movie called Kill Your Darlings, starring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter himself) as a young Allen Ginsberg, with Ginsberg-esque Jew-fro apparently rocked. Apparently, from this report in the Huffington Post, it’s steamy and heralds what could be a pretty risque year in film.