Photo by Masayoshi Sukita
I started getting misty at the top of the stairs. Somewhere in between dehydration and Mick Ronson’s ending licks on “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide,” I decided: this really sucks.
At the same time, my friend Hannah was texting her boyfriend the news: David Bowie has died from cancer. Her boyfriend’s first question: “Is Tommy going to be okay?” Tommy was huddled against 10 million strangers, trudging through the 9/11 Memorial on the walk to work, and weeping over an androgynous guitarist older than his father. Tommy was not okay.
It’s hard to explain such a visceral reaction to someone I have never met yet have grown up with like a family member. So I’ll start with the beginning.
In case you haven’t heard – or are willfully ignoring it, like the group of people who attempt to avoid discovering the victor of the Super Bowl every year – one of the great mysteries of pop music has finally come undone, albeit partially. In an interview with PEOPLE magazine, singer-songwriter and proto-Taylor Swift Carly Simon has revealed that the second verse, at the very least, of her seminal hit “You’re So Vain” is, as many suspected, about Warren Beatty. With a great sigh of relief, I’m certain, James Taylor can rock himself to sleep, and Mick Jagger has finally achieved some level of satisfaction, depending on the geography of his egotism in 2015.
What Simon also did in revealing Beatty as her muse, however, was take some of the intimacy out of listening to music. To be frank, I’d really rather she wouldn’t have done that. It isn’t so much that she’s ruined “You’re So Vain” – the classic rock stations in Charlotte, North Carolina, that seem to think Simon only ever released one song already achieved that in my youth – but she did manage to remind us that, as much as we want to feel closer to the musicians we love, they are eternally out of reach, mingling with people more famous than we in parties on yachts, dressed in white clothing after Labor Day like the bourgeois bottles on the top shelf that they are.
To be clear, I’m only half-serious, but that half is deadly serious.
(Via Hardly Art)
The all-woman quartet of La Luz has built its reputation as a surf rock band that resides in the shade. Shana Cleveland’s scorching guitar riffs recall the raucous stomps of Dick Dale, and the rinky dink organ sounds of Alice Sandahl suggest lackadaisical days in the sun. Yet, with titles like “Pink Slime,” “Big Big Blood” and “Sunstroke,” there’s an undertone that they’d rather be hanging out at a beach side resort’s indoor pool than actually basking in the light. Read More
Imagine being the world’s biggest pop star at 24, an icon of one musical genre and the reluctant voice of a stifled, conflicted generation. At just the time your organic rise became meteoric, you re-discovered an old passion for electrified rock and roll, the kind you used to play rambunctiously before leaving it behind in Minnesota.
To people of a certain age or inclination, July 25, 1965, is a date of considerable magnitude. On that date, in Newport, Rhode Island, the most influential songwriter of the twentieth century made perhaps the most important decision of his life, one which has left an indelible effect on pop music and American life.
There was a moment when I just sat staring at the scene in Chicago’s Union Park. It was on Sunday, the last day of the 2015 Pitchfork Music Festival. Caribou was playing on the main stage, the smell of marijuana was pungent, and I was enjoying a hot dog. There were people everywhere. Most crowded at the front of the stage for Caribou, some standing idly talking with their friends, and others, like myself, nodding along to the bassline of “Can’t Do Without You.” It was a moment of clarity that I experienced in a festival (my first) marked by a rush of emotional states which played out like a roller coaster through a grueling three day plunge. There was CHVRCHES’ maelstrom of synth, Freddie Gibbs putting Pitchfork on blast for previous line-ups, an actual maelstrom that shutdown the festival for all of 20 minutes, the dirge of listening to Panda Bear and the rowdiness of A$AP Ferg’s energetic dorkiness. Yet, throughout all of it, festival goers noticed a fair amount of community throughout the throngs of festival goers. We weren’t inundated with a slew of corporate sponsors, distractions and a disorienting amount of people. That community created an atmosphere in which we could enjoy the acts, no matter how close or far away we were from each respective stage. It was a community I was glad to be part of for three days.
First of all: I feel inclined to admit that I only found out about Courtney Barnett a few weeks ago, so shame on all of you who knew about her and kept her a secret. You know I like great things.
Indie Rock is a genre muddled with pretension and irony with some acts taking themselves more seriously than they should. Mac DeMarco has established himself as the polar opposite where everything is subject to ridicule and parody. His outrageous shows alone have become the stuff of legend – the most infamous one involving a drum stick that ended up in DeMarco’s hind parts. His goofy, gap-toothed grin is a disclaimer that almost everything will be tongue-in-cheek. Even the bands that DeMarco played with were gags from the get-go with names like Makeout Videotape. It seemed that, even as a solo act, he was only interested in weirding people out or making music for laughs with Rock and Roll Night Club.
The cover showed the reflection of DeMarco in a dirty mirror, smearing lip stick on his face. The songs inside were delivered in a sleazy, Elvis impersonation. But Rock and Roll Night Club
proved to be an oddity as 2
displayed a more capable artist who had proficient songwriting abilities in creating hypnotic melodies, catchy hooks and subject matter that was not a novelty (see: “Baby’s Wearing Blue Jeans”). The songs themselves though were still playful but they sounded less like the id of a guy who described his own music as “jizz jazz”. After taking 2
on the road, playing the 2013 Pitchfork Music Festival and becoming part-time interviewer for MTV’s Weird Vibes series
, DeMarco has followed-up his debut album with Salad Days
There’s nothing quite like a last show. And last Sunday, I was at my first.
Nearly five years ago, I met one of my best friends, who would soon introduce me to his favorite band, a local group named Bomb the Music Industry. The band is everything you may presume by that moniker. It released all its music online, for free. Its shows are extremely cheap, to the point where it feels like you’re only paying to reimburse the band for the cost of renting the venue. In short, this is just a bunch of dudes playing music for the sake of playing music.
When I first heard Bomb’s snarling guitars reverberating through a set of speakers, I promised my friend we’d see them in concert. And after five years of bad luck and twists of fate, I was finally able to make it to a Bomb show. Its last show.
At the risk of sounding like a BuzzFeed article, here is a video from the internet, and I’m going to give you a list of things related to it which, I hope, will make you want to watch the video so that you can nod along with me.
Of all the byproducts of mid-90s Anglophilia, including the Spice Girls, Trainspotting and the worldwide coverage of Princess Diana’s death, perhaps the most notoriously raucous entity to emerge was the rock band Oasis. You remember, they of “Wonderwall,” the anthem of every college freshmen stairwell guitar player and 90s-themed parties? The Gallagher brothers fought relentlessly, against Blur, against the media and, most notably, against each other, eventually culminating in a breakup just prior to a 2009 concert in Paris.
Courtesy of okayplayer.com
Disclaimer: Since about the age of 16, I have been under the impression, which many share, that James Marshall Hendrix is the single best guitar player this world has ever seen. His musicianship continues to astound me, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt in my mind that I like, with varying degrees, every single piece of music he ever recorded. His influence is such that, even 43 years after his extremely premature death at the age of 27, guitar players today cannot even begin to imitate anything that Hendrix did with any real success. For all of Clapton’s disciples (which, if you ask any of the guys with whom I was in a band in high school, they will tell you I am, to an annoying degree), all the wannabe-hip Django-heads and the legions who trust in Jimmy Page’s mysticism, it is Hendrix’s shadow which keeps everyone searching for the light.