By Kai Flanders
David Byrne and St. Vincent
Better than: ... hoping against hope that a Talking Heads reunion tour will happen.
Criticizing David Byrne is difficult. It's not just that he's such a seminal artist to a lot of people, nor that he's prolific and brainy: publishing the book How Music Works through McSweeney's and giving TED talks in addition to consistently releasing music, never mind this little thing called Talking Heads. It's the fact that he's so completely earnest. In a time when irony is more common than reverb, it's hugely refreshing that Byrne isn't frivolous about what he does, that he is constantly attempting instead of snickering. Even when he misfires, you never feel slighted.More »
Here is a video put together by an employee of the Chicago Music Exchange that purports to tell the story of rock and roll in 100 guitar riffs, which the guy manages to do in a single take. (They're not all perfect, but you try winding your fingers around the guitar parts for "Hot For Teacher" and "Thunderstruck" in a single go. Right.) As with any "here is the grand story of this somewhat large idea" project, there are quite a few narratives that unfurl in this video's 12 minutes; you can sort of watch the guy go from learning about rock and roll from classic-rock radio and MTV to reading blogs, or at least lifestyle publications that would never sully themselves with uncool things like rap-rock. More observations below.More »
The Brooklyn Academy of Music has announced the inaugural running of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, a three-day music, film, and art extravaganza put together by the National's Bryce and Aaron Dessner, and set to take over BAM from May 3 to 5. Named after a poem by Walt Whitman, the festival has a lineup stacked with the borough's biggest musical names on the rock side of thingsThe Walkmen, St. Vincent, and Beirut will headline, while the lineups are rounded out by quite a few YIMBY alums, including Zs, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Skeletons. Full lineup and ticketing info below.
St. Vincent headlines BAM on May 4.
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, Michael Tedder breaks down his entire ballot, and along the way he talks about about the operatic heights of Fucked Up, the shredding ability of Annie Clark and Ritzy Bryan, and the power of the "boof."
Fucked Up, David Comes to Life (30 points): I was starting to get a sense of the way the wind was blowing for this year's roundup, and I'm generally aware that aggressive music, no matter how smart and inventive, has a ceiling for critical support. (I should point out that I submitted my ballot before the Spin endorsement.) So, just like I did last year with Titus Andronicus' The Monitor (I will not accept the idea that anyone this decade wrote a better album about America now, or a better album period than that), I went all in, points wise, to try to get my favorite album in to the top ten. Like last year, I failed, and I regret nothing. Anyway, people focusing on the intentionally confusing plot of this rock opera are not paying enough attention to the operatic arrangements (that term is not used as loosely as you imagine) Mike Haliechuk and company are offering up here, like some bizarre amalgam of Crass, Queen and Chavez. Also, I still don't know how Veronica died, and I'm surprised that in these #OWS days no one is discussing the working-class fatigue subtext ("those better days have passed us by") on display here.
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.
Kanye West at Occupy Wall Street; confused woman.
Hello all, and thanks! I'm honored to be here. Let's talk about the collapse of the global economy.
Or rather, let's not; as tempting as it is to link early 2011's glut of apocalyptic dance or late 2011's druggy numbness to financial panic or cultural malaise, you'd have to glibly ignore 99% of both music and the cultural moment. Even the arguments that almost worked didn't, like the reductive meme that Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne was just about being rich, not about the experience of being black and having become rich. And speaking of the 99%, it's far too soon to anoint any Occupy Wall Street anthem. (Sorry, Jonah, Miley's track is just a fanvid.) There's been music on the ground, of course, and there's an album coming out, but it's telling (of my now-bastardized Google Reader feed, if nothing else) that my main associations between music and Occupy are three things: the Radiohead non-concert that turned out to be a new-media bro's prank, the musicians whose Zuccotti cameos were probably out of good intent but in practice indistinguishable from photo ops, and the albums in Occupy's library, which was seized after the NYPD raidsalas, the cloud couldn't save it.
Nor can megastarsthey're too busy mythologizing themselves to survive in lieu of those megasales. There are exceptions; candor in interviews and mega-megasales aside, you can't really call Adele a "celebrity," at least not using that term. (Contrary to rockist belief, this is not a selling point.) But take Rihanna, who's wearing herself out being better at this sort of thing than anyone else. Icky news stories? Out-ick them on Twitter! Gossip cackling about Chris Brown? Tease it in the "We Found Love" video! Moral guardians carping about being too sexy? Send racks of raunch down the Talk That Talk assembly line!More »
2011 was a year of looking back relentlessly, whether you were awash in Remember The '90s nostalgia or getting down at a New Kids On The Block show or watching Lady Gaga try to bring back the variety-hour era with her whacked-out Thanksgiving special. So it's not too surprising that there was a bounty of coverswhether as part of all-tribute-set live shows or attempts to goose sites' online traffic or just for, you know, funfor the Sound of the City braintrust to choose from when putting together this list. Pop on pop, country on Gaga, and reggae on Seattle below.
Tell your children not to walk Wye Oak's way. The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Andrew Bisdale
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Thursday, August 25
Better than: The two-hour wait I endured last time I was at the Met.
"This is my last song... You probably heard it on the Internet." Sort of an odd thing to say at an event hosted by one of the two major American rock mags still standing, but what followed was sort of odd, too: "Surgeon," which begins with a Nancy Sinatra/James Bond references and the line "I spent the summer on my back" and ends with a prog workout that begins easy before slowly crescendoing towards combustion. And she was right; we had heard it on the Internet.More »
On August 25, the virtuosic and all-around awesome St. Vincent will perform at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art's Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Gardenthe first time a concert's taken place in the Met's rooftop space. Tickets go on sale at some point today and will probably sell out fast despite the four-per-person limit, so if you want to get in on it, bookmark this page and keep hitting reload. While you're waiting, why not listen to "Surgeon," the hypnotizing, twisty first single from St. Vincent's forthcoming album Strange Mercy? It's embedded after the jump.
St. Vincent, a.k.a. formidable shredder/songstress Annie Clark, has a new album Strange Mercy coming out in September, and as a sort of prelude to its release she'll play a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Artin the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, a.k.a. the open-air space on the museum's rooftop, which has never played host to a rock shows since it opened its doors in 1987. The show's taking place on August 25, and right now details regarding ticket on-sale dates and pricing don't go much beyond that. So instead, let's learn about art! Right now and through October the garden is displaying a series of sculptures by British artist Anthony Caro; there's a slideshow of those pieces, which will presumably not be hauled into storage for the occasion, after the jump.