The Day After: The Next Day, Three Months On.

There is hype, and then there is David Bowie’s first release in a decade hype. There is absolutely no comparison. None. Not. A. One. Thank the glam gods that it wasn’t unfounded! If your only experience with Bowie’s back-catalog comes from a “best-of” compilation a la Changes, or pseudo-staples like Ziggy Stardust, ‘Heroes’, or Space Oddity, you’ve got another thing coming. This is the 21st century, get your shit together. The Next Day, which came out March 8th on Columbia, requires context. A lot of context. Undoubtedly, critics and fans alike will be tossing around things like ‘reinventing,’ ‘revival,’ and ‘return to form’ – No. No. […]

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The Unsound Validation of Joni Mitchell’s Blackface Pimp Persona

Joni Mitchell As Art Nouveau: Male Blackface Pimp Joni Mitchell: media doll, marketable name, innovative artist. She was a huge figure in her day, lauded for being one of the first successful female folk singers and the first big-time female singer inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame. While all of these achievements are admirable, there are some overlooked instances of full-on bigotry that seriously deaden the glow of her career, and rightly so. In an interview with Angela Lagreca in 1976, Joni Mitchell explained the inspiration for her just-publicized blackface male pimp persona, Art Nouveau. I was […]

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All Out Kraut: Amon Düül II HiJack Conventional Rock

Amon Düül II was by far the most politically charged, radical, and musically variable krautrock group. It’s no wonder considering they formed out of the political and musical commune Amon Düül during the student movement of the 1960s – hugely infamous for their political activism. When the musically proficient members wanted to focus on music rather than politics, they left the commune and Amon Düül II was born. There was also Amon Düül O, a short lived musical experiment that owes a lot to free jazz, especially Ornette Coleman. Both Amon Düül and Amon Düül II disbanded in the early […]

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Nick Drake & Ian Curtis: The Musketeers of Mope

[veering away from fringe artists for a moment…] There are some strange intersections between Nick Drake and Ian Curtis. In my mind, they are the  musketeers of mope. The musicians whose decent into depression, madness, and melancholia are fossilized for all to see in their recordings. Their work slowly developed into the desperation, isolation, misery, and arguable insanity that are so commonly associated with their names. Curtis and Drake committed suicide, and their dissatisfaction with life lingers in their music. Lyrically, Drake and Curtis share similar themes, yet very different motifs. Drake was known for his apt usage of natural […]

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Felt & Lawrence: Down But Not Yet Out

Felt are loved or hated – there is no middle ground, no gray area of indifference. Fronted by the eternally enigmatic Lawrence, and Martin Duffy (later of Primal Scream) they occupy a strange realm somewhere between early indie pop and clichéd adolescent mood music. Lawrence (whose surname remains a mystery some 30 odd years since his first appearance in the musical world.) formed Felt in 1979, when he was just 16 years old. Felt would continue to release 10 singles and 10 albums over 10 years – disbanding soon after. This sequence of 10 gives them the aura of an art project as […]

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Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold (’12)

It’s about time someone released a half decent album that is absolutely not forward thinking. Parquet Courts’ debut LP Light Up Gold is the throwback to 90s American grunge that the music scene wasn’t aware it needed. They’re not trying to impress anyone with hip-now sounds or progressive styles. Fuck off chill-wave. Fuck off psych. Parquet Courts are here. Andrew Savage, previously of Fergus & Geronimo moved from Texas to the hipster mecca of Brooklyn, NY. Originally released on cassette, Light Up Gold has since been rereleased on What’s Your Rupture? early this year. It’s pure post-punk, garage rock pleasure […]

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Frank Sinatra – Watertown (’70)

There’s more to Frank Sinatra’s musical career than meets the eye. In 1970, he released Watertown, a concept album many consider to be his magnum opus. You read that correctly, Sinatra did a concept album. Unsurprisingly, it was a commercial failure, marking it as his only release not to break into Billboard’s top 100. Watertown is the one oddball record in Sinatra’s discography, an overlooked classic that has an entirely warranted cult following – nothing Sinatra released before or after compares. After a cursory listen the narrative seems to be a simple love story that ended badly, one that traces […]

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David Sylvian: Beautiful Woman, Beautiful Man

David Sylvian made for a beautiful woman. The frontman of the new romantic and glam powerhouse that was Japan completely redefined what it meant to be androgynous. He was the ideal synthesis of discord and equivalency – beautiful when playing up his feminine features, beautiful when embracing his masculinity. The makeup, the long blonde hair, and his clothes were nothing without his voice – rich, sonorous, and entirely unexpected. Sylvian was a fucking anomaly.     I’m always disappointed that Japan never had much of a presence in the 70s and early 80s. Their debut album Adolescent Sex (’78) was fun, […]

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Watch That Man: David Bowie, Back To Reality

Early last week, I read an NPR article asking musicians, journalists and writers to say what they were most looking forward to in music in 2013. One person said ‘Anything, anything at all from David Bowie.’ I remember shaking my head and thinking it will never happen, but wishing, dreaming it would. And now, barely a week into 2013, we have signs of life from planet Bowie. Today marks his 66th birthday, along with the announcement of his 30th studio album out March 11th, The Next Day. When my friend texted me early this morning with the news I absolutely didn’t believe […]

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Julia: Humanizing The Beatles

“When I cannot sing my heart I can only speak my mind, Julia “ The Beatles’ early work can be broken down into two main components – infamous pop numbers and bubbly, cheerful, bright-eyed love songs. I’ve always found their early work to be heavily shellacked in pop insincerity and universally relatable lyrics. If they sang about love gained, it was done innocently. If they sang about love lost, it was wistfully optimistic. With commercial success came increased artistic freedom, and the youthful notion that love can do no wrong was abandoned – replaced with a rawer, earnest way of […]

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Musical Year In Review

It’s that time of year again, the end of the year, where every music blogger in the solar system is busy clicking and dragging albums into ‘best of 2012’ playlists, and typing up something laced with wit and irony to complement the end of another twelve-month rotation of our humble little planet. The urge to conform to this trend is great and entirely unavoidable, because really, who wouldn’t pass up the chance to spout their personal faves? Give a little air time [internet time?] to those disenfranchised LPs that you really think should have been “essential 2012 listening.” As you […]

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