Butch Vig On Nevermind, Siamese Dream, Garbage, And His History Of Shaping Alternative Rock As We Know It

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Garbage.
If you don't think Butch Vig's almost singlehandedly invented two decades of alternative rock as we know it, just look at his resumé: Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Green Day, Jimmy Eat World, Foo Fighters, AFI. That's without mentioning his membership in the still-cool Garbage or the fact he produced a little generational totem called Nevermind. From grunge to "electronica" to emo, he's probably building someone's entire adolescence from scratch as we speak. He free-associated for Village Voice about some of his biggest hits, underrated discoveries and Garbage's own new album Not Your Kind of People, which drops this week.


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10 No-Brainer Rock Legends Never Nominated For The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame

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Sonic Youth.
This weekend, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts its class of 2012, which consists of Donovan, the Beastie Boys, the late singer-songwriter Laura Nyro, the Small Faces and the Faces, blues guitarist Freddie King, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Guns N' Roses, although not lead singer Axl Rose, who declined the induction earlier this week. Rose notwithstanding, dozens of artists have been snubbed for the Hall over the years; it took the Stooges—the Stooges!—a half-dozen ballots to make it in. The Hall's official party line states that it honors "the influence and significance of the artists' contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll." But the list of artists who issued their first records 25 or more years ago (the Hall's qualification for nomination) who would be first-ballot shoo-ins in any Rock and Roll Hall of Fame committed to the continuous, vital culture of rock music is long. Even without considering influential jazz, folk, hip-hop, electronic, dance, pop, funk, dub, and dance artists, staggering amounts of genuine and important rock artists have never even reached the ballot.

Here are 10 artists who've made legitimate contributions to rock and roll as the term is generally understood (even by baby boomers). Sure, to actually enshrine any of them would also negate the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's symbolic importance for all that is hilarious about itself, and that would be a loss. But it's only rock and roll.

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VOTE NOW For The Elite Eight: Coltrane vs. Keys; Blondie vs. Diamond; SY vs. VU; Wu-Tang vs. Rakim

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After three weeks of feverish clicking and arguing, the final eight contenders in our search for the quintessential New York musician have been finalized—you can peruse the bracket here—and it's time for you to vote. Representing the Uptown division are No. 1 seed John Coltrane and No. 14 seed Alicia Keys; No. 12 seed Blondie will have it out with No. 3 seed Neil Diamond in Queens; No. 5 seed Sonic Youth will match Downtown bona fides with Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground (No. 3); and No. 6 seed Rakim will take on No. 4 seed Wu-Tang Clan in Brooklyn.

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Presenting The Elite Eight: John Coltrane, Alicia Keys, Blondie, Neil Diamond, Sonic Youth, Velvet Underground, Wu-Tang Clan, And Rakim

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After three weeks of feverish clicking and arguing, the final eight contenders in our search for the quintessential New York musician have been finalized. Representing the Uptown division are No. 1 seed John Coltrane and No. 14 seed Alicia Keys; No. 12 seed Blondie will have it out with No. 3 seed Neil Diamond in Queens; No. 5 seed Sonic Youth will match Downtown bona fides with Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground (No. 3); and No. 6 seed Rakim will take on No. 4 seed Wu-Tang Clan in Brooklyn. The polls will roll out at noon and close at midnight.

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SOTC's March Madness: Sonic Youth, Miles Davis, Neil Diamond, And The Rest Of The Round Of 16

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Will the Beastie Boys prove to be triumphant?
​This week, our search for New York's quintessential post-1955 musician is about to get hectic, with the winner crowned as the calendar flips to April on Saturday night. (A rundown of all the matches so far is here.) So for the Round of 16 matchups--four of which kicked off yesterday, four of which begin right now--we're going to dispense with the punditry and get to the voting. The combatants, which hail from the Downtown and Queens quadrants: the still-kicking No. 16 seed Sick of it All and Sonic Youth; the Velvet Underground and the Beastie Boys; Carole King and Blondie; and Neil Diamond and Miles Davis. Ballot below. Please note that you have to vote in all four races in order for your vote to count.

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Sonic Youth (5) Gets Experimental With Philip Glass (4) In SOTC's March Madness

Sound of the City's search for the quintessential New York City musician enters Round Two this week, with battles in the Round of 32 daily. Keep up with all the action here.

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During the first sound of SOTC' March Madness, Sonic Youth drowned Arthur Russell in feedback, and The Fugs were no match for Philip Glass' hypnotic repetitions. But now the two downtown experimental music legends will battle each other to see who's really the Don of Dissonance.



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Sonic Youth (5) And Arthur Russell (12) Close Out Round One Of SOTC's March Madness

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​The Round of 64 for Sound of the City's own version of March Madness—in which you, the Sound of the City voting public, help determine the quintessential New York musician—finishes this weekend, with the Round of 32 kicking off Monday. (The schedule and results so far are here; the full, updated bracket is here.) This time out, your votes will decide the victor of a Downtown brawl between Sonic Youth and Arthur Russell. Check out the arguments in favor of each below, and vote at Facebook for the musician that you think should move on to the next round.

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Live: Yo La Tengo Light The Menorah At Maxwell's One More Time


Lee Ranaldo & Steve Shelley w/Yo La Tengo, "Mote"

Yo La Tengo: Hanukkah Shows
Maxwell's
December 20-27


Better than: Christmas.

Hanukkah doesn't technically end until sundown Wednesday, but Yo La Tengo unplugged their electric menorah at Maxwell's last night, just after a post-midnight sign-off where Ira Kaplan's mother sang "My Little Corner of the World." Despite the junior Kaplan's recent (unspecified) health scare that left him confined to a bar stool for this year's series of Hanukkah shows, his band's sets seemed more expansive than ever, spilling between relaxed arrangements, deeper-than-usual noise jams (bassist James McNew has been moonlighting with Kid Millions' Man Forever), Georgia Hubley ballads, indie pop, and covers—and Bobcat Goldthwait was there, too.

This year, the band played some 134 different songs over Hanukkah; the set lists included the usual tour through its 27-year back catalogue, tunes by great Jewish songwriters (number of Velvet Underground songs this year: somehow only 3), and appearances by ex-YLT roommates (Maxwell's co-owner Todd Abramson on "The Aba Dabba Do Dance"; WFMU DJ Gaylord Fields growling through "My Little Red Book"). But the stunt guitarists—recruited quickly as back-up for Kaplan—were this year's main attraction. Though Superchunk founder Mac McCaughan took most of the leads on opening night, it was soon obvious that the extra players were there to jam, not substitute for Kaplan, who seemed mostly at full strength, minus the occasional charge at the amp.


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Live: Lee Ranaldo Plays It Straight At Glasslands

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Lee Ranaldo
Glasslands Gallery
Saturday, December 17

Better than: Another '90s band playing a '90s album start to finish.

There wasn't a whole lot of noise from Lee Ranaldo's new quartet under the cloth clouds at Glasslands on Saturday, but there was plenty of crunch. Removing the art abrasions from Sonic Youth's formula, Ranaldo and company—including SY drummer Steve Shelley and guitarist Alan Licht—brought their alt-skills to bear on the kind of project Geffen Records might've have killed for in 1993. Ranaldo's first proper batch of solo songs wasted few moves in delivering the straightest music yet contrived by a member of Sonic Youth, although it did employ dozens of the little tricks he's picked up over the past 30 years—chiming guitar gongery, Television-style leads, detuned open chords. (His album comes out on Matador in March.)

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Live: Sonic Youth Get Caught Between Bad Moon Rising and New York City


Sonic Youth w/Wild Flag, Kurt Vile
Williamsburg Waterfront
Friday, August 12

Better than: Listening to a playlist of the set on Spotify.

Just before Sonic Youth played "Starfield Road," from 1994's Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star, at Friday night's Williamsburg Waterfront gig, singer-guitarist Thurston Moore held things up. "Mark, what's the chords?" he asked of bassist Mark Ibold, who had been playing in Pavement at the time that record came out. "We started rehearsing for this show two days ago," Moore said, explaining the pause. "We've decided to go back deep. It's been a while since we've played some of these. Mark was always in the audience, so he knows [the chords]." Then, as Ibold and fellow bassist Kim Gordon began pounding out actual notes, Moore made head-swirling feedback and noise with his guitar as he ranted and raved about dirty sex for two minutes. Proper chords, indeed.


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