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.
Last time around Patti Smith showed John Zorn who has the power, and Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground got all "Venus In Furs" on Stephin Merritt. But when Smith takes on Reed and company, which iconic downtown punk innovator will survive?More »
The Round of 64 for Sound of the City's own version of March Madnessin which you, the Sound of the City voting public, help determine the quintessential New York musicianis a little jam-packed today. (The schedule and results so far are here; the full, updated bracket is here.) Here, we return Downtown for a battle of the frontmen, as Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground match up against Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields. Check out the arguments in favor of each below, and vote at Facebook for your favorite.
Philip Glass and Friends Tibet House U.S. Benefit w/Laurie Anderson, Tim Fain, Das Racist, Antony, Lou Reed, Stephin Merritt, and Rahzel
Monday, February 13
Better than: Seeing how most ethnic Tibetans live.
Last night's all-star benefit at Carnegie Hall began with a performance by eight unnamed monks from the Drepung Monestary, who entered the hall in silence. The saffron-robed throat singers (each of whom wore a striking orange headpiece reminiscent of a Roman centurion's) took the stage like religious royalty being received by devoted followers. They used microphones that were hardly necessary; their throaty chants sounded like (and carried as strongly as) didgeridoos throughout the hall. It was a pretty surprising and impressive thing to look around the dress circle in Carnegie Hall and see dozens of people with their eyes closed and their hands folded in silent prayer.More »
To supplement this year's Pazz & Jop launch, Sound of the City asked a few critics to expand on the reasonings behind their voting. Here, Brad Nelson talks about the much-discussed collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica, Lulu, which topped his ballot and came in at No. 94 on the albums poll.
In the video we see the four members of Metallica, in autonomous cars, approaching a warehouse in the Bay Area, where (this is the only real narrative to take from the video) Lou Reed is waiting. Lou approaches nothing; he has always been there, in front of a microphone, phasing out of shape. There is not much light but the few spotlights amplify beyond their scope, drawing implications into the face of Lars Ulrich, whose mouth diagonally frames his teeth, always, and the whole skull of James Hetfield, newly dynamic with mohawk. Kirk Hammett's guitar looks changed in the light, full of grain. They play. They play a lumbering riff, it seems pulled from a subspace. Gravity acts gently there, woozily. Lou speaks, barks, commanding something from afar. They all start to phase, faces play upon faces. Their images shake into each other, confuse features. They are completely fused in spirit. Lou rubs his eyes. Rob Truijillo tosses his long, weighty hair into glossy octagons of light.
This is the Darren Aronofsky-directed video for "The View," the ostensible single from the recorded exchange between Lou Reed and Metallica called Lulu. People treated Lulu supernaturally when news of it first appeared; when it was released it was the absurd, unapproachable record of the year, roundly panned, roundly existentially questioned. In the Quietus, Julian Marszalek wrote, "We have but a short period on this earth." It could not sustain Lulu, the indulgence of five men who had advanced into a totally sealed-off sphere. How much of what they did was metal? How much of it followed the track of the Velvet Underground, into an unforming rock? Most declared neither, that Lulu sounded as if two incomplete records had grafted intemperately to each other. I don't even totally have the words to process it now, even as it tops my Pazz and Jop ballot.More »
Sound of the City's year-end roundtable, with contributions from Tom Ewing, Eric Harvey, Maura Johnston, Nick Murray, and Katherine St. Asaph, continues. Follow along here.
Nicola Roberts, having herself a lucky day with the Village Voice.
Hey all. Again, thanks to Maura for putting this together, and thanks to Katherine for not only writing another outstanding recap of 2011 but also handing off to me no less topics than Bon Iver, PBR&B, K-Pop, all hip-hop, the cloud, and trollgaze. Where should I start?
Not with trollgaze, but we'll get there, for better or for worse. How about Nicola Roberts? I completely agree with you on that record, Tom, and I know from conversation that Maura and Katherine do too. (Eric?) I'd imagine that my experience with it was pretty common: Blown away by the singles, and by the fact that Cinderella's Eyes was almost a Girls Aloud album, it took me a while to allow it to develop into much more than that. I still enjoyed it plentyamid the worst year for music ever, how could you not?but not as much as I did once I started paying closer attention to its latter half.More »
Last month lots of ink and pixels were spent on Lulu, the collaboration between downtown bard Lou Reed and thrash lifers Metallica"worst album of the year or maybe ever" declarations; "you just don't understand what Lou is trying to do" cries from partisans/people suspicious of the unwashed's lack of knowledge about the Frank Wedekind plays the album was based on; head-scratching so fervent it resulted in bleeding. But for all that hue and cry and Internet arguing, the thing didn't make much of a dent sales-wise; it debuted on the Billboard 200 at No. 36, selling 13,000 copies in its first week, and then nosedived off the chart in week two. Blame the leak, which came a couple of weeks before the album's bow in stores, or blame the bad buzz, or blame the economybut don't blame a weak promotional campaign: Despite the soft launch, a video by a big-name directorRequiem For A Dream/Black Swan helmsman Darren Aronofskydebuted over the weekend. It's for the 3:45 single edit (work with me here; the full track's 5:18!) of "The View," and it starts off as your pretty standard black-and-white "guys rehearsing" clip (complete with people getting out of their cars), then gets hazier as the murk of metal and back-and-forth shouts by Reed and Metallica frontman James Hetfield intensifies. And of course, it ends with Reed being thrilled by the brilliance that has just ensued. Clip below.
The ever-evolving microgenre of "trollgaze" isn't just limited to whippersnapper up-and-comers. Today we look at one of this week's most chattered-about albums, the Metallica/Lou Reed collaboration Lulu, to try and deduce one thing: Can a 90-minute double album based off German Expressionist theater and performed by a bunch of dudes who decided they really, really liked each other after jamming in honor of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame actually be an Internet con? Sound of the City's highly mathematical analysis, below.
Compiled by Matt Ealer, Josh Gallaway, and Brad Nelson
Lulu, the unearthly result of a collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica, is composed of slow, meditative, minimal riffs and sometimes snaking, ambient horror over which Reed, in a sort of drained yet bold drawlas if working around the idea of the musicarticulates graphic, surreal and vaporous images of Lulu (of the Frank Wedekind plays Earth Spirit and Pandora's Box) and her worshipers. A triumph of lazy spiral-bound nihilism, the style is relatively easy to inhabit (brazenly sexual, casually racist, occasionally disregarding how words work), and so we've assembled several fake rhymes and strewn them about real live lyrics from this impossible record. Can you tell the difference?
The Lou Reed/Metallica collaboration Lulu has been one of the more curiosity-inspiring releases on this fall's docket, thanks in part to what's been revealed so far: the grinding atonality (that veers on amusicality) of lead single "The View," the inscrutable 30-second samples that were loosed into the world yesterday. The album doesn't come out here until November 1, but as of this morning, it's streaming in full at the project's official website.
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