Doom and Bishop Nehru Team Up for the Most Anticipated Hip-Hop Album of the Year

Categories: Feature

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Photo by Klaus Thymann
Cornered: Doom and Bishop Nehru
Five years ago, I boarded a plane from JFK to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on the instruction that at some point between takeoff and landing the hip-hop artist MF Doom would text me from a secret cell-phone number and give me directions about how to meet him for an interview. The texts arrived in the form of a series of cryptic comments that played out as a treasure hunt across downtown Atlanta. They eventually led to a bar he'd turned into a super-villain's lair. (The password for the doorman: "Villain.") After a three-hour interview punctuated with pints of black-and-tans and whiskey shots, Doom rounded up his cronies (clad in stocking masks) and engineered an exit from the premises. At that point, the regular staff returned and acted as if Doom had never even been there.

That's just how it is with Doom. He's the self-styled super-villain of hip-hop whose scant public appearances always see him wearing a metal mask over his face. He revels in a role as the genre's ultimate recluse, and at one point became infamous for sending impostors to perform for him at shows (while he presumably sat home and counted up the cash, as dastardly masterminds are wont to do).

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Meet Lady Casa, America's Most Famous Raver and PLUR Evangelist

Categories: Feature

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Photo by Dahn Le
Lady Casa
Lady Casa is perhaps the country's most famous raver, and something like a cult leader to her tens of thousands of fans. When the Miami native makes a pilgrimage to L.A. and hosts an event on Venice Beach the day after seeing DJ Armin van Buuren, it quickly turns into a mob scene.

Not far from the guy who walks on glass and an Italian tour group, hundreds of ravers wait for hours in a snaking line to get Lady Casa's autograph, hear her wisdom and, most importantly, hug her. The event is billed as her 26th birthday party, as well as a benefit for local animal shelters.

"I'm so nervous right now!" says an awkward twentysomething when he finally reaches the front. "You're awesome," she responds, writing a personalized note for him on a decal. She ends it, "Namaste, Lady Casa."

Lithe and pretty, with long, golden, Barbie-style hair, the woman born Michelle Casares wears a flower crown, scarf, leggings, and sunglasses shaped like hearts, all of it a mishmash of bright colors.

At raves she might wear go-go boots, pasties, bracelets, a thong, and a giant Native American headdress. Her signature logo, which she has applied to stickers and T-shirts, is a silhouette of this look. Some of her followers have it tattooed on them.

She does yoga. She protests Monsanto. She snuggles with ravers in "cuddle puddles." She preaches the raver's gospel of PLUR — peace, love, unity, respect. She says things about herself in the third person that probably sound cool if you're high.

See also: How Mega Rave Electric Zoo Will Try to Keep the Drugs Out

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The Future Is Female: An Attempt to Knock the Patriarchy Off Its Pedestal

Categories: Feature

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All photos by Melanie Bonajo
Last night, art students and hip New Yorkers convened at a gallery on Bowery, The Hole, for the opening of Future Feminism, an exhibit of 13 feminist tenets set forth by a collective of five artists: Antony, voice of chamber pop group Antony and the Johnsons, dance-based performer Johanna Constantine, Kembra Pfahler of shock rock group the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, and hip-hop/electro/folk artists Sierra and Bianca Casady of CocoRosie. The exhibit and performances and talks set to take place in the space through September 27th are the beginning of the future, what these five women have taken from feminists past, and where we as a "species" need to move forward.
"Future Feminism is definitely a new movement," said photography student Mike Bailey, attending the event. "It's a whole new wave of feminism."

See also: How Not To Write About Female Musicians: A Handy Guide

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Ladies Only: Get to Know Hasidic Rock Band Bulletproof Stockings

Categories: Feature

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Via YouTube
After the first time Perl Wolfe and Dalia Shusterman met up to play music, it was really a no-brainer that the two would be a band. The two -- both rock musicians eager to work on a project geared toward women -- clicked instantly, forming their group, Bulletproof Stockings, in 2011. Their connection, though, extends much further than the music they play. Although it may sound like an unlikely scenario, both founders of the emerging Brooklyn-based band are also members of the Hasidic community within Crown Heights. The songs on their first EP, Down to the Top, might remind you of a more rock-oriented Fiona Apple or Regina Spektor. Every so often, though, their piano-driven tunes integrate traditional Hasidic melodies, a new element for their rapidly expanding secular audience.

Last month, like many other up-and-coming bands before them, Bulletproof Stockings played a gig at Arlene's Grocery on the Lower East Side. Their set had everything you'd expect to find at a rock show -- hands swayed in the air and folks jumped around wildly to the band's anthemic choruses. There was, though, one other distinct feature of the crowd: The audience was composed exclusively of women.

See also: NYC's Top 10 Rising Female-Fronted Bands

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How Interpol Took the Dirtiest Word in Rock 'n' Roll and Turned It on Its Head

Categories: Feature

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Photo by Eliot Lee Hazel
Time, distance, personnel changes and individual projects may have kept them apart, but the members of Interpol are adamant and unflinching when it comes to one hard fact about their band: This is not a comeback. This record, these shows, this dynamic — it isn't the stuff of a reunion, the offspring of an unexpected reconciliation. Despite the fact that they made a deliberate choice when they invoked the scariest word in rock 'n' roll — "hiatus" — in 2011, Interpol can't make a comeback. Because Interpol never really left.

See also: Examining Interpol's Lyrics Ten Years After Turn On the Bright Lights


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Tribute Bands Give Crowds What They Want . . . i.e., Songs They Know

Categories: Feature

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Photo by Jesse Dittmar
Mötley Crüe cover band Girls Girls Girls
On a recent Friday night at Le Poisson Rouge it is the '90s, as images of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Blink-182 flash on screens and DJ Sugar Ray spins Naughty by Nature's "Hip Hop Hooray." At 12:15, attendees pile into the room and the countdown to the night's main event, '90s cover band the Bayside Tigers (named after the mascot and fictional high school the characters in '90s morning hit Saved by the Bell attended), begins. The neon-clad foursome take the stage and jump into Eagle-Eye Cherry's "Save Tonight," Meredith Brooks's "Bitch," and the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way." The packed house sings every word to every song.

"You wouldn't think that the bros that are screaming for Nirvana would be screaming for Spice Girls next," bassist Alex Rossiter says afterward of the general excitement in the room. "But they know all the words."

See also: Female G N' R Cover Band Guns N' Hoses Have Guns N' Roses Governors Ball Set Predictions

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Popular Music Needs to Become Political Again

Categories: Feature

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Woody Guthrie
Like it or not, Pharell Williams' "Happy" is likely to be the top-selling single of 2014. And yes, its buoyant '60s soul vibe and simple, positive message is modern pop perfection. But scanning the rest of this year's biggest hits, one is struck by a consistent theme: All of these songs are distinctly apolitical. Contemporary slang and the loosening of certain taboos aside, they could have been written in 2002, 1992, even 1982.

Granted, popular music is supposed to provide some kind of escape from everyday life. However, shouldn't it also sometimes reflect what is going on in the wider world at the time of its release? We are not living in a post-Auto-Tune utopia. Persistent economic problems, a deliberately obstructionist U.S. Congress, NSA surveillance, an expanding underclass -- these are issues that seem ripe for mining by contemporary musicians.

See also: The 50 Most NYC Albums Ever

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Rick Rubin on Doom Pioneers Trouble: "Great Parts, But Your Songs Don't Make Sense"

Categories: Feature

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Trouble
Attached to Trouble's name, barnacle-like, is a variant of this descriptor: "American Doom Metal pioneers." Guitarist Rick Wartell, who co-founded the band in 1979, laughs when queried about his agreement with the delineation. "Welllllll... no. We modeled Trouble after Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. We wanted to be as heavy as Sabbath, and have the dual guitars of Judas Priest," he explains, in a flat accent that affirms his Chicago-area roots. "There were bands doing it long before us. Are we appreciative of the recognition? Of course, but the reality is Sabbath got it from somewhere... it's just something that manifests. It's not like we started anything, we just put our stamp on it."

That stamp has been reasonably consistent through several incarnations and nine albums since 1984, coming somewhat full circle with 2013's The Distortion Field. With singer Kyle Thomas (ex-Exhorder) fronting the band for the last two years, the most notable missing member is vocalist Eric Wagner, who sang with Trouble from 1979 to 1997, and again from 2000 to 2008, and now heads up his own band, the Skull, with two other ex-Trouble members.)

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Punk's Not Dead at a New Bushwick Flea Market Housed in Shipping Containers

Categories: Feature

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Photo Reed Dunlea
"We live here, and we're in control of this fucking city," says Sam Ryser, a Brooklyn native and prolific punk musician and artist, about his brand new shop. "That's part of the beauty of this alleyway. People being able to do something like this is a shred of the control being put into the hands of people who live here, not people who decide who lives here."

Dripper World opened in March in a flea market, or to be more exact, an alleyway of shipping containers housing individual stores at 867 Broadway in Bushwick, Brooklyn. In addition to longer-term tenants taking advantage of the cheap rent, including a clothing store and bike shop, there is now a used book store, two record stores, and a junk shop. It may seem inaccessible at first to the casual shopper, as most of the new shops are unnamed, and are run by individuals in one way or another involved in New York's thriving punk scene. The newer tenants all know each other, making for an exciting sense of community.

See also: One Night at Shea Stadium - Carrying the DIY torch

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After a Stagediving Death at Webster Hall, NYC Venues Face a Hard Decision

Categories: Feature

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Photo by Luke O'Neil
Over the weekend it was reported that 21-year-old Alberto Scott died after stage diving at a concert by Ohio metalcore band Miss May I at The Studio at Webster Hall. Initially reports said Scott died on the scene of the stage dive. But sources later said he collapsed and died outside of the venue; a video and a police report corroborate that Scott fell as he exited the venue. Witnesses said Scott certainly hit his head when stage diving at the rowdy show, but he seemed fine until he fell to the ground.

"We don't know what the patron was doing that evening but the video footage does show him walking out on his own power and then collapsing at the exit," Rich Pawelczyk, C.O.O. of Webster Hall, wrote to the Village Voice. He added simply, in regard to venue policies, that, "We don't condone stage diving."

Not condoning stage diving and utilizing security to stop the practice are two different things, and venue owners face a hard decision in explicitly prohibiting what many concertgoers see as part of the experience.

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