Inside The Video: Lowell, "The Bells"

Norman Wong
Lowell, relaxing after a hard day
Lowell, playing a pair of shows in town this week (9/4 at Mercury Lounge, 9/5 at Glasslands) is a Toronto-based band made up of just one person (also named Lowell, conveniently/confusingly) that makes music in the form of very delicate electro clouds over which she sings in a very high, sweet voice. She is also really into making videos! While in the past she has had a pretty strong video art aesthetic, all crazily overlaid images that honestly get kind of boring pretty quickly (one video ends with a solid minute-and-a-half-long shot of her butt, filmed closer than is normally advisable), for her latest one, recently she has gone much, much bigger.

The clip for her sing-songy "The Bells" was filmed in one continuous take in the heart of the suburbs: under floodlights on a football field in the middle of the night. Over the course of an impeccably choreographed few minutes, Lowell shares the screen with an undead street gang, a roller derby team, a squad of cheerleaders, a marching band, and a few ancillary people in shimmering bodysuits. There's an undercurrent of menace through the whole thing, with unexplained gashes on many characters, and Lowell lazily swinging a baseball bat throughout. By the end, it seems that she may have beaten the viewer to death.

We were intrigued! So we caught up with her to get the inside story.

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Happy Godsmack Day, America

Publicity photo
Today, the people of Boston pause from their daily grind to pay respects to their most cherished native sons: Godsmack, the universally revered critical darlings of modern rock. From the official Republic Records press release:

NEW YORK, NY -- To mark the release of Godsmack's sixth full-length album, 1000hp [Republic Records], Boston's Newbury Comics store at Faneuil Hall (1 N Marketplace #336 Boston, MA 02109) will host "Godsmack Day" on Wednesday, August 6th. As part of the festivities, Godsmack will be on hand to sign albums and Boston's Mayor Martin J. Walsh will declare August 6th "Godsmack Day," in recognition of the band's Boston roots and long success within the music industry. Longtime WAAF radio personality Mike Hsu will introduce the Mayor at 4:30pm.

For those who can't be on hand to witness this momentous occasion, we're thrilled to provide a transcript of the mayor's proclamation.

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The Six Best Male Dancers in Contemporary Rock

YouTube screengrab, Radiohead's "Lotus Flower"
If Elvis Presley taught us anything, apart from a love for peanut butter and banana sandwiches, it is that white men can dance. His successors such as Iggy pop, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Axl Rose are just as iconic for their showmanship as they are their music. All of these frontmen shake, sway, and groove regardless of the tempo. It's exhilarating to watch.

For whatever reason, many male rock singers today just stand there and look glum, like they're bored or stuffed full of Xanax. So we're celebrating the top five male rockers that have the balls to cut loose, highlighting their technique, rhythm, and overall creativity along the way.

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We Made Eagulls Get Drunken Tattoos

Categories: Endorsements

Eagulls' Tom Kelly with Bill Murray and Bill Murray tattoo
Like all ridiculous things, the story starts with Twitter. Shira Knishkowy, publicist at Partisan Records, asked if anyone wanted to give her and Leeds, England, band Eagulls tattoos; they wanted something stupid and permanent. A friend recommended me, and I obliged.

I've never actually given a tattoo. With good reason: my drawing ability doesn't extend past stick figures (even straight lines are out of the question.) Shira did not know this, nor did the band, so what the hell: might as well have fun with it.

See also: We Smoked Weed With Total Slacker at the Olive Garden in Times Square

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The Month in Press Release Idiocy

You can keep your fancy-pants Pitchfork criticism. For my money -- and believe me, I have none of it -- the finest music prose isn't some college boy's flower-power review of the new long player by England's hottest beat group. It's not some hepcat rap blogger carving up Weezy's toots with a silver fork and knife, pal. For the best pop writing, you've gotta get down in the trenches and wallow in the serious shit. Buddy, I'm talking about the press releases.

These are dispatches from hell itself, the front lines where art fights commerce and loses. Written by men and women who maybe aren't the fanciest writers, maybe aren't the brightest, but they've got a god-damned job to do: whatever the cost to their souls, they're gonna tell you what kind of shoes Justin Bieber is pretending to like this week. They're going to throw themselves down in the muck and the slime and they're going to dig up the story on Taylor Swift's latest brand collaboration. I salute these brave reporters, and it's the least I can do to make fun of them until I throw up laughing.

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Up Your Early Adopter Alt-R&B Cred By Seeing Inc. and Kelela Tonight

If you want to see what alternative R&B will look like in 2013—if the term itself, which already looks sort of old fart-y, still exists—you should check out Los Angeles-based musicians Inc. and Kelela at (le) poisson rouge tonight for "A No World Takeover." The songs on Inc.'s full-length debut, No World, have been around in one mp3 format or another since they started writing the songs in 2011, but today sees its official release on 4AD. Formerly known as Teen, Inc. and as session musicians for the likes of Pharrell and Raphael Saadiq, brothers Andrew and Daniel Aged are capitalizing on the genre's buildup over the past few years even though they eschew the now-loaded descriptor R&B. For good reason: their whispery coos and silky pseudo-trap owe more to How to Dress Well than the buttered Prince funk of their debut EP, 3.

See also: Five Lesser-Known Soul Men Worth Your Attention

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A Handy Flowchart for Selecting Your 2012 CMJ Panels, Day 1

John Bylander

Today marks the start of the CMJ Music Marathon, the annual festival during which zillions of allegedly up-and-coming bands take over Williamsburg and lower Manhattan for the better part of a week to schmooze with various music industry forces and perform at their heavily branded sponsored showcases. This makes it an especially great week for concerts in New York, as you are probably already aware. But those who were lucky enough to score one of the pricey all-access passes also get another lesser-known benefit: admission to an excellent slate of daytime programming, mostly panel discussions and presentations hosted at NYU's Kimmel Student Center, roughly two dozen every day. Since these often go unheralded and thus might be incidental to your existing CMJ plans, we've compiled a handy tool to help you assemble a schedule. See you there.

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CMJ, Panels

Sun Airway Try To Keep It Simple On New Album Soft Fall

Categories: Endorsements

Shawn Brackbill

Jon Barthmus of Philadelphia pop group Sun Airway (who open for M83 tomorrow and Wednesday night at Hammerstein Ballroom) has a hard time keeping things simple. When he started conceptualizing the new Sun Airway album Soft Fall, out this week on Dead Oceans, he imagined something much more minimal than the band's elaborate 2010 debut, Nocturne Of Exploded Crystal Chandelier. He failed, but in a good way.

"Maybe it's sparse just because I didn't use everything on the planet," says Barthmus, chuckling. "With every song I start, I say to myself, 'This will be the one that's really sparse and mellow, and this will be the quiet spot on the album.' But then it ends up being the biggest, loudest song. I start adding things, and I fall in love with how it sounds. I always gravitate back to these really dense, Wall of Sound recordings, and Soft Fall ended up being an epic, maximalist thing."

See Also:
- Live: M83 In Central Park
- Announcing the Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian/Dead Oceans CMJ Showcase

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Tonight! Will Hermes Talks About His New Book With Kool Herc, Laurie Anderson, Bob Christgau, And More

River left empty for obligatory Klosterman blurb.
Yes, tonight at Housing Works longtime Voice pal Will Hermes assembles hip-hop Godfather DJ Kool Herc, Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye, Laurie Anderson, Salsa legend Larry Harlow, and former Voice music editor Robert Christgau to discuss the city's music scene(s), as they unfolded from 1973 through 1977. This period is also the subject of Hermes's recent book Love Goes to Buildings on Fire, a remarkable side-by-side examination of downtown rock, loft jazz, salsa, disco, early hip-hop, and whatever else was going on sonically, tracking each genre as it evolved over the period. Hermes has been part of a few excellent panels lately, joining Mark Yarm, Marcus Reeves, and Marisa Meltzer at the Brooklyn Book Festival and Nitsuh Abebe at a recent Love Goes To event, but this looks like the best one yet.

And in slightly nerdier news, on Friday, Steven Shaviro, whose essay on Greil Marcus and the Pointer Sisters was one of the highlights from Zer0 Books's extraordinary The Resistable Demise of Michael Jackson, speaks uptown at Columbia's Center for Ethnomusicology, where he'll deliver a paper entitled, "Splitting the Atom: Post-Cinematic Articulations of Sound and Vision." Apparently, he'll be focusing on the music video for the Massive Attack song of the same name, embedded below.

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We Interrupt Our CMJ Recommendations To Tell You That Patrick Stump's Soul Punk Is Out And Very Good

Today marks the release of Patrick Stump's debut solo album Soul Punk, and I'm going to put my cards on the table: It's my favorite album of 2011, and has been since I first heard it. (You can stream it here.) Hooky and witty and jam-packed with instantly hummable tunes, it is a fantastic pop record, one that I probably would have worn out by now had it been issued to me in a format less durable than the infinitely spinnable MP3. Stump plays all the instruments on the album (save Lupe Fiasco's cameo on a Chicago-centric remix of the civic-pride endorsement "This City") and he gets off a lot of casually virtuosic bits; the guitar solo on the ebulliently bittersweet "Everybody Wants Somebody" is particularly delightful. And then there's his voice, which helps him channel both swaggering snake-oil salesman types (on "Greed") and people whose hearts have been punctured by the vagaries of love ("The 'I' In Lie").

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