An Illustrated Guide to the Wisdom of Grohl

Categories: Handy Guides

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All illustrations Jena Ardell
Sonic Highways, Dave Grohl's "love letter to the history of American music," premieres October 17 at 11 p.m. on HBO. The series documents the creation of the Foo Fighters' eighth studio album (of the same name), written and recorded in eight cities across the U.S.: Chicago, Austin, Nashville, Los Angeles, Seattle, New Orleans, Washington, and New York.
"As we were coming down from the success of the last record [Wasting Light], I thought, 'Now we have license to get weird,' " Grohl told billboard.com. "If we wanted, we could make some crazy, bleak Radiohead record and freak everyone out. Then I thought, 'Eff that.'...The music is a progression or an evolution, for sure, but it's a Foo Fighters record."

Leave it to Grohl's overachieving nature (a/k/a: brilliance) to put an innovative spin on the creation of an album. To convey each city's unique sound and personality, Grohl wrote his lyrics while in each city, after interviewing notable musicians who defined the musical landscape of each region. The Foo Fighters performed a string of secret shows during their quest (the most notable being a 30-minute stint in New Orleans' historic Preservation Hall), which was also documented for the series.

Grohl's message for the next generation is this: Dream big, practice your fucking ass off, and make something real.

"Wait until you see what we're gonna do for the next record," Grohl told ultimateclassicrock.com. "I'm not kidding. We already know."

Sonic Highways, the album, drops November 10. Here's some free advice Grohl has shared in the past. Quotation above via Grohl's SXSW Keynote Speech, 2013.

See also: New York City's Best Sound Guys Sound Off


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AC/DC's Angus Young Honors His Brother Malcolm, In Illustrated Form

Categories: Handy Guides

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Jean Ardell
The family of AC/DC's founding member Malcolm Young has confirmed the rocker is being treated for dementia, which has forced him to leave the band.

"Malcolm is suffering from dementia and the family thanks you for respecting their privacy," Young's family said in a statement, according to People.

Last April, the band announced Young's break from the AC/DC and said they would be recording their 17th studio album, Rock or Bust, without him. Young's nephew, Stevie Young, replaced Malcolm on the album. He will also be filling in for Malcom during AC/DC's 2015 world tour.

Our thoughts are with the Young family. We wish Malcolm all the best and would like to thank him for following his dreams, which led him to create one of the most influential and bad-ass rock bands of all time. His contribution and legacy has inspired, and always will inspire, hoards of musicians to keep rock alive.

All illustrations are of Malcolm Young. Quotation above via ultimate-guitar.com.

See also: [PHOTOS] Malcolm Young and AC/DC at Madison Square Garden in 2008

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Eddie Van Halen Contemplates Fame, in Illustrated Form

Categories: Handy Guides

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All illustrations Jena Ardell
Van Halen fans are hoping for a follow-up from the band whose last record, A Different Kind of Truth, was released two years ago.

"I'm writing. I write lyrics routinely," David Lee Roth told Jim Florentine from That Metal Show in 2013. "And the band plays together routinely, at least three times a week. They're up at Ed's place, routinely. I was up at Edward's house, maybe three days ago--just before I came here to the city--and we're starting to put music together. Not to give away exactly what the package will be. It's gonna be about 18 months, I think."

Ex-bandmembers routinely dish out details about the band's turbulent past in the media. Mick Jones told ultimateclassicrock.com tensions were so high during the recording of 5150 that sound engineer Donn Landee "locked himself in the studio for a day and threatened to burn the tapes."

We imagine the drama within the group has subsided now that Eddie has both his brother, Alex, and son, Wolfgang, in the lineup. Hopefully Roth will stick around this time.

While fans eagerly await the band's (estimated 2015) return, they can rock out with the new EVH Stripe Series "Circles" guitar, made famous by Van Halen's 1981 "Unchained" music video. Here's what Eddie had to say about fame and his love for music.

Quotation above via esquire.com.

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Which Sports Franchises Have the Worst Music Taste?

Categories: Handy Guides

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Courtesy Scott Stapp
This man is responsible for the worst song about flying fish ever.
Sports and music go hand-in-hand -- it's pumped out of every stadium in America, we have jock jams, and, like the "San Diego Super Chargers," some of the oldest traditions in professional team sports are inextricably tied to specific songs. It's why the Miami Dolphins will play that godforsaken fight song every single game they play. It's why those organ bleats will ring out in baseball stadiums until the Earth is swallowed by the Sun. These two industries need each other. The rest of us will just have to deal with it.

With that in mind, we've highlighted some teams that have demonstrated some particularly bad taste in recent years.

See also: Let Us Now Harshly Mock the At-Bat Music of the Yankees and Mets

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David Byrne Worries About Music's Future, In Illustrated Form

Categories: Handy Guides

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All illustratins Jena Ardell
David Byrne has always been about big ideals, something he's proven time and again in both his time with Talking Heads and in his own solo work. Lately he's been thinking about quite a bit, whether it be about how the expense of New York City has grown to such a staggering degree that it's priced out creatives or, more recently, about the future of the music industry. He's been vocal about his concerns on the latter of late, and so we decided to gather the most potent of his gems on the subject here, in illustrated form.

See also: An Illustrated Guide Confirming Josh Homme Is a Badass

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Why "Weird Al" Believes We're Still Talking About "Weird Al"

Categories: Handy Guides

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Jena Ardell
"Weird Al" Yankovic has been the mainstream music jester for children (and adults) since the early '80s. Now, anyone and their grumpy father can create parodies and become YouTube sensations, but that isn't impeding on Weird Al's career.

Mandatory Fun, Yankovic's 14th studio album, dropped last week and according to Yankovic, it may be his final "conventional" album.

"I think I will get away from traditional, conventional albums," Yankovic told musictimes.com, "because I don't think it behooves me to do 12 songs before I put them out at once... I think that digital distribution just makes more sense. It makes sense for me to just put out singles or possibly EPs instead of albums. The more quickly and frequently I put albums out, the better for everybody I think."

(Gotta love a man who uses the word 'behooves').

Here's what Weird Al had to say about staying current during the age of YouTube.

Quotation above via musictimes.com.

See also: A Brief History of "Weird Al" and Rhyme

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An Illustrated Guide to Beyonce's Insight and Empowerment

Categories: Handy Guides

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There's no real news circling around Beyonce (sans an upcoming 10-episode HBO miniseries dubbed BeyonceX10 and her two shows with hubby Jay Z at MetLife Stadium on July 11 and 12), but that doesn't prevent other people from using her name to make headlines.

See also: The Top 10 Beyonce Collaborations

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How Not to Interact With Female Musicians

Categories: Handy Guides

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Dear Josie & the Pussycats -- Do you write your own songs?
[Ed note: Robin Edwards is a frequent contributor to our sister paper in Denver, Westword. She has played in several bands. Her solo project is called Lisa Prank.]

Sometimes I wonder what it was like before bands had Internet presences. Did creepy dudes just send their vaguely threatening messages to female musicians through the mail with locks of their hair? I've been thinking that might not have been out of the question ever since I received a Facebook message from a guy who went to one of my band's shows. He asked if he could be my stalker and added a goofy emoticon and a few "jk"s. I assume that was a way to hedge so that when I responded, he could pull the old, "I was joking! Don't be crazy!" card. Unfortunately, violence against women, which can certainly start with stalking, is a very real concern. So it's not something you should joke about, especially with a complete stranger over the Internet.

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

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What the Hell Is Babymetal?

Categories: Handy Guides

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Metal music is a genre that transcends all parts of the world and breaks all cultural and language barriers, from North and South America, to Europe and even Asia. From the early days of metal, and Judas Priest's classic 1979 live album Unleashed in the East (recorded in Tokyo), the music has always been popular throughout Asia. Many popular metal and rock bands originated from the continent over the years, including bands like Loudness and X-Japan.

See also: Ten Metal Albums to Hear Before You Die

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Stop Using These Clichés When Writing About Music

Categories: Handy Guides

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Cloud Nothings' Here and Nowhere Else: "Powerfully utilitarian."
On Monday, I read the following sentence on a popular music website about the new Cloud Nothings album: "The band continues to make powerfully utilitarian music for people who don't seek out this type of music just to be told what to think." I read it over and over again until my eyes rolled back into my head. It is perhaps the most inscrutable piece of music writing ever published, because not only does it imply that some people turn to a band like Cloud Nothings to "be told what to think," it also makes the claim that Cloud Nothings somehow subvert that expectation. I'm fairly certain when Dylan Baldi was playing back his new album, he wasn't thinking "Yeah, fuck all those people who want me to tell them what to think!" It's the kind of sentence you only write after spending far too much time in tight, circular critic-logic that gets more and more abstracted from reality over time. We've all been there, and we will all pay for our sins, so consider this devotional. The following clichés should be forever eradicated from music discourse. It's not too late to save our souls.

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

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