What's So Funny About A Little Bump N' Grind? R. Kelly, Frank Ocean, And The "Right" Kind Of R&B

R. Kelly.
In case you haven't yet gotten your fill, over the past couple of years, of artists beating Aaliyah samples into a flavorless pulp, not to worry—Yeasayer frontman Chris Keating has got your back. In a Rolling Stone interview published this week, Keating recalls being struck by watching high school classmates dancing to "Are You That Somebody," despite not being into "mainstream music" at the time; he then cites Aaliyah as a major influence on Yeasayer's new record, Fragrant World. Who am I to say—perhaps Aaliyah and the Supafriends truly did resonate with Keating all these years, although it did take until his band's third album for this influence to supposedly manifest itself. Or perhaps, what with a certain Canadian rapper engaging in obsessive melodic fan-fiction, Aaliyah's name is just on peoples' lips at the moment. Or perhaps Keating and his bandmates got the memo that, hey, R&B isn't totally embarrassing anymore—or at least, a specific type of it.

Which brings us to Frank Ocean. Apparently Yeasayer and Ocean were both at the Wythe Hotel on the day of the interview, which led to a receptionist mixup, which led to Keating being asked his thoughts on Ocean. His reply: "I think he is a good new face for the R&B world right now, to kind of usher out—no pun intended—some of these folks. Because, let's get real, R. Kelly is a terrible person. I like R. Kelly and how crazy he is, but he's a terrible piece of shit, a horrible person, really bad all around. Let's get rid of him. Let's gay it up a little [in R&B]." It seems that in between his initial Aaliyah encounter (which would have been just after the release of One in a Million) and his band's music being influenced by her, Keating neglected to Google and find out that Kelly wrote and produced the vast majority of her debut Age Ain't Nothing but a Number.

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Q&A: Yeasayer On Fragrant World, Not Being A New Band, And Casting The "Brooklyn Band" Movie

Yeasayer joined the late-naughts "Brooklyn band" explosion shortly after their debut All Hour Cymbals was released in 2007. Their second record, 2010's Odd Blood, received similar acclaim, and the band even reached the summer-shed circuit thanks to gigs with the Flaming Lips and Weezer.

Next week the trio releases their third LP, Fragrant World (Secretly Canadian). A bit less hook-driven than their previous work, it's a heavily arranged record with a hodgepodge of Middle Eastern-tinged electronic sounds. Tonight, Yeasayer shows it off from the Music Hall of Williamsburg stage for a sold-out show (don't worry, it's streaming online). Among a string of 16 interviews in one day last month, Sound of the City spent about 30 minutes chatting with members Ira Wolf Tuton and Anand Wilder (singer Chris Keating hovered idly around the hotel room) about the new record, making non-traditional music, and what the Brooklyn scene means today.

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Live: Weezer And The Flaming Lips Share And Share Alike At The PNC Arts Center

Weezer/Flaming Lips w/Yeasayer
PNC Bank Arts Center
Thursday, July 28

Better than: Not seeing Bush at the Bowery Ballroom.

It's extremely easy to forget the advantages of an large-scale concert if you've gone, say, a decade eschewing such shows. Massive venues with lawn seating (and ticket checkpoints at every intersection, of which there are about 20) lose their luster once the intimacy (and relative lack of expense) of club shows becomes an expectation rather than merely an appeal, and the performative transition involved in scaling up often changes the nature of a band's performance.

Last night's Weezer/Flaming Lips double bill at the PNC Bank Arts Center was a rejoinder to that sometimes-prevailing attitude. Here was a show that could only have worked in this sort of venue, playing to the strengths of the setup and even benefiting from its drawbacks.

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Live: The 4Knots Party Continues With Dan Deacon And Yeasayer (And The Spice Girls, Too)

Willie Davis
4Knots Music Festival: Dan Deacon, Yeasayer (DJ sets)
Saturday, June 16
4Knots Indoor Lounge

Better than: Going home and passing out.

In my coverage of the 4Knots main stage, my "critical bias," as named at the bottom of these write-ups, has been fairly obvious—almost so obvious that it's been kind of difficult to state it in the clever, self-deprecating manner that the format requires. So, again, I'll foreground that bias and note that I'm getting paid to write this by the dudes who hosted the whole shindig. But I'll also add a biases into the equation. Like, for instance, the fact that by the time Yeasayer began spinning records I had consumed too many drinks, complimentary or otherwise, to remember much about their DJ set besides some sort of Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth mashup. And I missed entirely the work of BRAHMS, Punches and Finger on the Pulse. Plus I was kind of tired (the curse of arriving on time).

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Mr. Dream Added To 4Knots Lineup; Yeasayer, Dan Deacon To DJ The Indoor Lounge

The first annual 4Knots Music Festival—free, at South Street Seaport—takes place on July 16; Mr. Dream will perform at the all-day show at Pier 17. In addition to the day's roster of bands—which also includes The Black Angels, Titus Andronicus, Davila 666, Oberhofer, and Eleanor Friedberger—being finalized, the DJ lineup for the 4Knots Lounge, located at 210 Front Street and open from 2 p.m. to midnight, has also been announced; artists spinning that day include Dan Deacon, Yeasayer, Finger on the Pulse, PUNCHES, and Brahms. More info at the official site.

Q&A: Yeasayer's Chris Keating On USB-Stick Mixes, Bonding Over Weezer, And Why He Loves 'YMCA'

Jason Nocito

The past two years have been good to Brooklyn-based band Yeasayer. While they released their second album Odd Blood a little over a year ago, "Ambling Alp" and "O.N.E." shot them to stardom in the blogosphere and mainstream music circles in the fall of 2009. Their popularity was, in large part, thanks to the band turning their weirdly experimental tracks into more tightly configured, concise, uptempo pop songs with anthemic hooks. Yeasayer has been touring to support the album ever since and, just a few weeks ago, announced that they'd be heading back into the studio to record a third album. They premiered the new track "Devil and the Deed" on Conan soon after, giving a peek into what seems to be a similarly sampler-driven album with tambourine-accented hooks.

We caught up with Chris Keating to talk about Yeasayer's new album, the idea of subversive lyrics, and the new era of music consumption.

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Hear Yeasayer's New Song, "Devil And The Deed"

Categories: Listen, Yeasayer

Yeasayer stopped by Conan last night to debut "Devil And The Deed," a taut, herky-jerky track that uses the upper ranges of lead singer Chris Keating's voice to fine effect and has a lovely, tinkling keyboard break. The band's on tour right now; their headlining show at Terminal 5 on June 18 is sold out, but they'll be back in July, when they open for the Flaming Lips and Weezer at Jones Beach and PNC Bank Arts Center.

Coming To The Local Sheds This Summer: Lots Of "Heritage Acts" And Country Stars (And Yeasayer)

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Yeasayer. Here's hoping things are a bit warmer than this for their shows this summer.
Today Live Nation announced a slew of shows at Long Island's Nikon at Jones Beach Theater and New Jersey's PNC Bank Arts Center, and in addition to the many classic rock acts (with "classic rock" now being expanded to include the mid-period Headbanger's Ball era of Tesla, Firehouse, etc.) and country stars lining the bills we've got Brooklyn's own Yeasayer, who have been tapped to open the Flaming Lips/Weezer tour that stops at PNC on July 28 and at Jones Beach the following day. Other highlights: Ke$ha (Jones Beach, August 20); Janet Jackson (PNC, August 6); Aretha Franklin (Jones Beach, July 28/PNC, July 30); and the New York Pops playing the music of Billy Joel (Jones Beach, August 13), a performance that looks to be bereft of the Piano Man himself. There's also the Identity Festival, which looks to be an all-electronic-music Lollapalooza starring the likes of Rusko, Steve Aoki, and Chad Hugo. Tickets for a bunch of these concerts go on sale this Saturday; full schedules for both venues after the jump.

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Top 5 Music Videos Featuring Mythical Creatures

In her new clip for the [ahem] Madonna-inspired "Born This Way," Lady Gaga includes a unicorn in the opening shot. While the video only gets weirder (and grosser) from there, that mythical beast captivated our attention so much that we decided to search out the best videos featuring such imaginary/otherworldly/just plain weird creatures. Here are our findings:

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2010: The Year In Music Photos

The year in music, circa 2010, started at the Cake Shop, with a shred-down to the New Year courtesy of Siren Festival MVP-to-be Marissa Paternoster and her band Screaming Females. After a tour through the NYE fetes of the Lower East Side and Williamsburg, that night ended amidst a marathon show at Bushwick's Shea Stadium, right around the time the Blastoids' drummer poured paint on his kit and started splattering away.

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