Insight Into Springsteen's Mind, in Illustrated Form

Categories: Handy Guides

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Jena Ardell
Bruce Springsteen was criticized recently for his cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" with Dave Grohl and Zac Brown at the Concert for Valor, held on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

Fox News and conservative media condemned Springsteen's song choice as unpatriotic, anti-military, and inappropriate for Veterans Day. Suggestions from blog trolls for "Four Other Songs Springsteen Could've Played at 'Concert for Valor'" quickly infiltrated social media.

John Fogerty originally wrote the song in 1969 to protest the Vietnam War draft.

We could just imagine the Blog Troll Overlord salivating while reading this line from Breitbart.com: "Left-wing millionaire and rock-n-roll welfare queen Bruce Springsteen was unable to keep his ego in check."

What needs to be "in check" are expectations. What did everyone really expect from an outspoken political anti-war activist like Springsteen? Should Springsteen really be condemned for using his "celebrity" to express his views? The media doesn't have a problem using a musician's celebrity to gain viewership, as long as his voice doesn't ignite something beyond mindless entertainment.

Springsteen "politicized" a veterans concert, everyone whined. Politics are what creates war. What's so inappropriate with forcing Americans to acknowledge that?

Quotation above via rollingstone.com.

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Free Laughs and Free Cupcakes in This Week's Cheap Comedy Roundup

Categories: Comedy

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Pulled from @HMWebseries Twitter profile page
High Maintenance star Ben Sinclair hosts a screening and Q&A at the Bell House this Thursday.
This week in Cheap Laughs, we have word lovers, G'n'R covers, Web series discovery, a blessed anniversary, and free cupcakes. Here's our rundown of the best in independently produced New York comedy this week.

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An Interview With Jimmy Page: Turning Led Into Gold

Categories: Interviews

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Photo by Andrew Smith via Wikipedia
Jimmy Page plays guitar better than you.
To paraphrase Led Zeppelin's 1969 psychedelic classic: "What Is and What WILL Never Be." In short, a Zeppelin reunion is what will never be. Seemingly, at least. Guitar genius/producer Jimmy Page wants it; vocalist Robert Plant vociferously does not. So it's not the elephant in the room -- or in this case, on the phone line from London. It's oft-discussed, but Page, uncharacteristically talking to the press and doing public events in the U.S., is laser-focused on promoting his book (the succinctly titled Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page) and the massive year-long-plus Zeppelin reissue/remastering campaign offering previously unreleased "companion audio." Page, 70, is charming and articulate, if slightly cagey, and though there's so much fans want to ask -- ZoSo! Crowley! John Bonham! The Riot House! -- the elder statesman of rock has earned and demands a respect few others can claim.

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Dave Grohl's Sonic Highways Documentary Series Isn't So Bad!

Categories: Lists, TV

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As you may have already seen, there's been a fair amount of criticism leveled at Dave Grohl's new HBO documentary series, Sonic Highways, since it launched five weeks ago. And, in the week since the accompanying Foo Fighters album of the same name was released, yet more angry voices have emerged.

Accusations have been thrown at Grohl and the band for seeking "respectability by proxy," and at the show for being "nothing more than promotion for the Foo Fighters and their new record," as well as a "bloated, rambling...gimmick." Is the show perfect? Good Lord, no. Some of it is too much about who Dave Grohl knows in each city, rather than the city's musical history itself (the Los Angeles episode was particularly guilty of this). We also, like many other reviewers, could do without every show ending with the song the Foo Fighters just wrote about the city they're in for the episode. (Wouldn't it be more fun to watch the documentary series, then figure out which song goes with which city later?)

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The 60 Best Songs Ever Written About New York City

Categories: Lists, Music News

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For the past few weeks we've been locked in the basement at Yankee Stadium, subsisting on nothing but Bergen Bagels, listening to the best songs about New York City through headphones endorsed by Lou Reed. Our mission: to come up with a list of the 60 best songs ever written about our city, songs that best capture what it's like to live, love, struggle, and exist in the sprawling, unforgiving, culturally dense metropolis we pay too much to call home. We started by agreeing on the songs we shouldn't include -- naked and clunky stabs at new New York anthems that fall flat and ring inauthentic, like Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind," U2's "New York," and Taylor Swift's "Welcome to New York." Instead, we focus on tracks that are so New York, and so good, they can't be denied. Here they are. Listen to our Spotify playlist, which has most of the songs you'll read about below.

Contributors: Steve Almond, R.C. Baker, Heather Baysa, Jack Buehrer, Jesus Diaz, Tom Finkel, Chaz Kangas, Mike Laws, Linda Leseman, Brian McManus, Albert Samaha, Alan Scherstuhl, Mike Seely, Brittany Spanos, Katherine Turman

See also: The 50 Most New York Albums

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Cozz: 'I've Been Given a Platform for a Reason'

Categories: Interviews

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Screengrab from Cozz's "Dreams" video
Cozz has "Dreams."
Over the decades, South Central Los Angeles has acted as an incubator for hip-hop, where rappers and groups like Ice-T, N.W.A., and Cypress Hill pushed the city to become the genre's focal point. After so many years, L.A. has risen again with MCs like Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q, who have aided in the city's musical reincarnation. While the reign of King Kendrick and his TDE crew persists, it's no surprise that L.A. has now churned out another promising young rapper, 21-year-old Cozz, or Cody Osagie, a pleasant addition to L.A.'s growing roster.

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Alex Skolnick's Planetary Coalition Breaks All the Rules

Categories: Jazz, Metal

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Photo by Tom Couture
Brooklynite Alex Skolnick is best known as the lead guitarist of thrash outfit Testament and the jazz group Alex Skolnick Trio. But his latest project, Planetary Coalition, represents a radically new direction, as it unites 27 musicians from around the globe onto an album of world music. Tuesday night, over a dozen of these musicians will perform with Skolnick at Meridian23 for the official record release show.

"You're not supposed to do a project like this," says Skolnick of industry expectations for chart-toppers like himself. "I'm supposed to be the guy from Testament."

See also: Testament's Alex Skolnick Went From Geek to Guitar God

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Prince Royce - Theater at Madison Square Garden - 11/15/14

Categories: Reviews

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Better Than: Choosing Hardwell

At Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, music fans had quite the choice. They could either enter the arena and experience the neon grandiosity of Dutch house DJ Hardwell or enter the theater for the tender affection of Bronx-born bachata star Prince Royce. To go with the latter was to find yourself in a space that contained the equivalent amount of energy as Hardwell's rave in the much larger arena.

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Caribou - Webster Hall - 11/14/14

Categories: Last Night, Live

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All photos Lindsey Rhoades
Better Than: Disclosure covering Darkside

Fourteen years ago, Ontario crate-digger Dan Snaith embarked on a musical endeavor that would come to be known as Caribou, largely a bedroom recording project long before that phrase warranted eye-rolling over the notion that anyone with Avid could become a producer overnight. Snaith, no doubt, has inspired many a Johnny-come-lately with Pro Tools, but he has always been of a finer breed, interpreting hip-hop beats and samples, soul, psychedelia, and Kraut-rock through his unique lens. Each of his records is a brilliant meditation on a particular range of ideas and styles, taken apart, examined, and reassembled as a painstakingly realized masterpiece brimming with thoughtfully constructed songs.

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Kendrick Lamar Undergoes an Exorcism on SNL

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A strong Saturday Night Live showing can serve as a glimpse into the future, depending on the parties involved. With Kanye West, "Black Skinhead" proved to audiences that a break from format with an outside-the-box presentation could achieve great things on an otherwise blank and boring soundstage. Sam Smith offered "Stay With Me" to the masses as his introduction to the world before he became the biggest voice of 2014, a trend Hozier would repeat a few months later. Waning interest in Iggy Azalea followed up her flop, while the public's curiosity about St. Vincent piqued and Miley Cyrus was redeemed.

And with the good kid from m.A.A.d city? This week's SNL may as well be a Magic 8 Ball, because this was the first official indication that 2015 will be the Year of Kendrick Lamar.

See also: Prince Melts Faces for Eight Minutes on SNL

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