In some ways, the Friday before last looked like business as usual at Colony Records, the venerable Theater District music-and-sheet-music retailer that recently announced its impending closing after 64 years of operation. At the counter, Warren Tesoro, an employee for 25 years, asked a middle-aged woman if she knew that the CD of Porgy and Bess she's buying is the karaoke version. (She did.) In the sheet music section, the largest in the country, a young Brooklyn-looking couple sight-sang a few lines of "The Ballad of John Henry"the 19th century work-song about the humanity's futile struggle against technologyfrom a folk song collection before adding it to their stack. A few aisles away, Damian Wille, a musical theater student visiting from Appleton, Wisconsin, stocked up on vocal scores from recent Broadway shows: Shrek, Catch Me If You Can, Billy Elliot. At home, this music is "not easily" available: "I even looked for Shrek online, and I couldn't find it ... It sucks that it's closing."
Wille isn't the only one who thinks so. The day before, an employee of Academy Recordsa vinyl-and-CD survivor with Manhattan and Brooklyn brancheshad tipped the bad news to the blog Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, which confirmed it with the store's owners. Within 24 hours, the The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Post had printed or posted news items about the closure. By afternoon, the word was literally on the street: even a woman collecting for homeless families on the sidewalk outside the store interrupted her spiel to say, "It's closing in three weeks." (Reports of the actual last day have varied.) Inside, co-proprietor Richard Turk fielded questions from a video crew and condolences from visitors like fellow retail vet Leon Geary, a dapper septuagenarian who worked at the Sam Goody chain's long-shuttered flagship store on 49th Street "from 1957 to 1981." Ken Jacowitz, a former Strand employee who comes in regularly to check out the store's collection of Beatles memorabilia, said, "I never really thought about leaving New York until I read about this today."
This week neo-pop superstar Beck announced the release of Song Reader, a new "album" in the form of sheet music. The finished product offers nothing to listen to; just 20 sheets of notation collected in a "lavishly produced hardcover carrying case," according to the publishing outfit McSweeney's, which is working with Mr. Hansen to release this artful experiment.
People praised the project; others derided italthough not surprisingly, many musicians leaned toward the former. As the Beauty Pill's Chad Clark put it: "There is zero incentive to release music conventionally right now. It just feels dumb/masochistic. Might as well try shit. Why not?"
A solid point, and one that many of Clark's musical brethren have taken well to heart. Here are some of the more innovative ways that artists are trying to get people to pony up for music these days.More »
This weekend, Governors Ball took over Randall's Island for the latest installment of "Can New York City Host Its Own Major Music Festival?" Founders Entertainment, organizers of the second annual fest (that's what All Points West said, too), decided to go the "diverse" route, but at least they were nice enough to not get too mix-and-match, splitting up the lineup roughly day-by-day. Saturday could have been called the dance-y day, or the spring break day; its lineup included Passion Pit, Chromeo, Kid Cudi, Major Lazer, Santigold and Duck Sauce. Sunday, meanwhile, was a bit of a late '90s alt-rock time warp, with Beck, Fiona Apple, Modest Mouse and Built to Spill headlining amidst guitar-based indie bands from this era.
Jillian Mapes Fiona Apple at Governors Ball on Sunday. Check out our gallery of pictures from the festival.
Sunday was visibly more well-attendedbut does that mean it "won" the weekend? Taste is subjectivethat much we can all agree onso if you're a rave kid, you'd probably say Saturday won, whereas pretty much everyone else would say Sunday won (Beck's first NYC show in four years!). Since music festivals are often about the overall experience anyway, Sound of the City decided to measure the other ways that festival can satisfyor annoyattendees, using a 10-point rating system to score certain intangibles head-to-head (as well as a few bonus categories). Like golf, the goal is to have the lowest score in order to win. Which day emerged victorious? The answer below.More »
The 2012 running of the Governor's Ball, which debuted last year as a single-day festival, will be bigger and bolder than its inaugural outing. Held this June 23 and 24, the festival is moving to Randall's Island, expanding to two days from one, and hosting Beck (playing his first NYC show since 2008) and Passion Pit as its headliners. Note that the two-day length means flexibility for sanity in the scheduling, so there'll be no overlapping set times. This is such a simple detail for maximizing festival enjoyment and yet it's one that's really hard to pull off, so kudos to the organizers for having this brave vision in their sights. Full list of confirmed artists below.
The Lonely Island, they of "Jizz In My Pants" and "I'm On A Boat" (and Saturday Night Live) fame, release Turtleneck and Chain next week. Two guest-star-assisted songs have hit the internet in the past few days: "Turtleneck and Chain" (featuring Snoop Dogg) and "Attracted To Us" (featuring Beck). Both songs are just fine on their own, but we've decided to declare, once and for all, which of the two is the best Lonely Island song to surface this week. (Turtleneck and chain sold separately.)
The Beastie Boys' Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2 comes out Tuesday. But beyond the trio's newest collection of raffish rap japes, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz--the Beastie who isn't going gray and who isn't rumored to be related to Saved By The Bell's Screech Powers--has been steadily carving out a niche for himself as the unthreatening hip-hop figure to approach when an artist wants to swaddle a song in a classic coat of downtown New York chic. His latest effort, an electronically muted tweaking of fellow New Yorkers Rival Schools' "69 Guns," is a fine prompt to delve into ten of his most varied remix jaunts.
Having spent the last two weeks poring through Pazz & Jop 2010, I've learned everything from the two albums most statistically similar to a bootleg compilation of early Bob Seger (those would be Flockaveli and Ke$ha's Animal/Cannibal combo) to the number of writers who ended their comments with an ironic "Get off my lawn!" (surprisingly, only two). As fun as those pieces of information might be, the most significant statistic this year remains the record-setting margin by which Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy won the albums poll.
In 1971's inaugural P&J, Who's Next topped Sticky Fingers 540 points to 332, a margin of victory that would not be overcome until 1987, when Prince's Sign 'o' the Times accumulated 1.63 times as many votes as Bruce's second-place Tunnel of Love. That record survived the '80s, but the last two decades have seen it broken again and again. Below are the six most decisive victories in P&J history, charting each year's top 3, sorted by total points and, in parentheses, total mentions. (Thanks, of course, to Robert Christgau's P&J database.)More »
F2K10 is a countdown of the 20 worst songs of 2010. Track our progress here.
The Fox show Glee might have been the most aggravating pop-cultural phenomenon of the year, what with its persistent conflation of the terms "stereotype" and "nuanced character who's really bringing something new to prime time," its ability to stoke predictable culture-war outrage, and the way it thrived while the superior show starring Jane Lynch that debuted last year got hung out to dry by the nth-rate cable network on which it aired.
My slight obsession with Beck's Record Club, wherein he wrangles visiting big-shot musicians into covering ostensibly classic albums in their entirety, is well documented by now, particularly his recent dalliance with INXS' Kick. Here, Brooklyn art-rock siren St. Vincent takes lead on the indestructible "Never Tear Us Apart," and manages not to blow it entirely when she cracks herself up forgetting a line. Tomorrow night she'll be in Central Park with another pack of big-shots, playing similar homage to Simon & Garfunkel; I'll take this over "The Sound of Silence" any day.