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

Categories: Music 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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The Replacements - Forest Hills Stadium - 9/19

Categories: Music Reviews

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Credit: Christopher Victorio
The Replacements at Coachella
Better Than: Most rock 'n' roll reunion shows.

The Replacements are a band that contain multitudes. More multitudes than most, rather, with their unorthodox and believable balance of snottiness and romance that pervades their songs. Part punk and part rockabilly, they're drenched in pop sensibility, making them relatable on all ends and having lyrics that you're not sure how you know but you just do.

On Friday, the band continued their reunion at Forest Hills Stadium, embarking on their first NYC show in 23 years. For all, it was moving and exciting with no possible differentiation between the fans who had been waiting over two decades and the fans who had been made within those two decades.

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Lady Gaga - Roseland Ballroom - 4/6/14

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Courtesy of 42 West & Getty Images
Gaga opening the second to last Roseland Ballroom show
Better Than: Anyone else closing out Roseland Ballroom's long and storied chapter in New York City.

With a stage hidden by a deep red curtain surrounded by oversized, large roses, it's clear Lady Gaga took her role as emcee for Roseland Ballroom's "10-day funeral," as she has called it, seriously. In front of a slightly more subdued crowd than expected in terms of dress (more casual concert-wear than Gaga costumage), Gaga entered from a door also shrouded in roses at house left, burlesque-teasing the audience with only a hand and leg before revealing herself completely. She posed and vamped before sitting at her first piano of the night, a less showy opening than one can be accustomed to experiencing at a pop concert. In a way, she was making it clear the set was less about her and more about the venue she was helping celebrate and close out.

See also: Does Roseland Ballroom's Demise End the Era of the Manhattan Megaclub?

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ARTPOP: An Otherworldly Guidebook to Lady Gaga's World of Weird

Categories: Music Reviews, Pop

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Like the cover of her last album Born This Way, Lady Gaga may be half machine. More likely is that she's transforming into the pop alien-robot she has been selling herself as since The Fame, and for the first time, she has released an album that feels like most streamlined expression of who she is as a pop artist.

See also: What to Expect From Lady Gaga's ARTPOP


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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Beacon Theatre - 5/20/13

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You cannot count the fucks Tom Petty does not give.
Better Than: Having one foot in the grave.

Imagine Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers drop a new LP, and it's just killer. Not just "killer" in that Echo or Mojo way, as in a killer document of a killer band doing what it was hatched to do. I mean in that Wildflowers or Full Moon Fever way, that damn near universal way, the songs so urgent with defiant life they could haul you up out of a coma. Imagine Tom Petty puts out a new record so vital and affecting that it would be adored by anyone who has ever before liked a Tom Petty song, even just "Free Fallin.'"

Now ask yourself, "How would anyone ever hear it?"

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We Should Be More Cynical About Albums Claiming to Change the World

Categories: Music Reviews

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The Knife
There's no denying that The Knife's Shaking the Habitual is a significant work of art. It's mystic, cold, brutal, and darkly groovy. There are moments where it seems The Knife is trying to be as unpleasant as possible, like the frosty, 19-minute passage "Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realized," which comes together like a nasty anxiety-attack. Or the 37-second ear-scraping snippet "Oryx," which is blaringly intrusive in the most artistic of ways. Taken as a whole, the album feels like it's about something, in the way that many hoity-toity borderline-operatic albums feel rife with commentary. It's powerful, it's unique, it's transformative - Karin and Olof Dreijer are smart people who deserve to have their music studied.

But come on. Shaking the Habitual isn't near as important as we're all pretending it is. At least not yet.

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Pondering the Beautiful and Complicated Contradiction That Is Josh Groban and His New Song "Brave"

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I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you, dear reader, are probably not in the Josh Groban demographic. I'm not exactly sure what the Josh Groban demographic is, but I'm almost certain it doesn't involve reading blogs, or knowing what they are. My guess is that Josh Groban fans stick to the Missing Child Prayer Alert/My Google Won't Download corners of the web. I'm not in his demographic either, but for some reason I find Josh Groban fascinating.

See Also:
- 30 Facts About Ke$ha Gleaned From Her New Book My Crazy Beautiful Life
- Charles Mingus' Secret Eggnog Recipe Will Knock You on Your Ass


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New Pornographers' A.C. Newman Is Going To Start A Jam Band

Categories: Music Reviews

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Carl Newman, the New Pornographers frontman who also records apart from the group under the moniker A.C. Newman, just released his third solo offering, Shut Down the Streets, a couple of weeks ago. The album's equally inspired by two recent events -- the death of Newman's mother and the birth of his son -- and its 10 tracks, intended as a sort of throwback to lush, early '70s folk-pop, prominently feature backing vocals by his pal and New Pornos compadre Neko Case. We rang up the affable Newman at his Woodstock, NY home -- where he was doing some last-minute packing for his current U.S. tour -- for a round of "Reviewing the Reviews," wherein we read him excerpts from a handful of Shut Down the Streets reviews and got his reactions. "To a certain degree, sure," Newman replied when we asked him if he's generally been in the habit of reading reviews of his work. "For example, it's hard to avoid what Pitchfork says about your record. Even though I try not to pay too much attention to them, if you get a really great review from Pitchfork then somebody tells you. And if you don't, it's like, 'Hmmm ... why are people so silent about Pitchfork?'"

See Also:
- The New Pornographers' A.C. Newman on Leaving Brooklyn for Woodstock and the Dirty Projectors' "Next Level Shit"
- On The New Pornographers' "Your Hands Together," Which You Can Listen To, Right Now

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We Read Sixpence None The Richer Their Reviews

Categories: Music Reviews

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Sixpence None the Richer sprang to life in the early '90s and slogged it out on the Christian underground circuit for several years before hitting the bigtime with their crossover pop smash "Kiss Me"--a tune that topped charts, soundtracked the on-screen romantic travails of Freddie Prinze Jr. and James Van Der Beek (separately, of course), and is still in heavy rotation on radio stations named "Jack" and "Ben." The Nashville-based quintet enjoyed the limelight for a while, then called it quits not long after 2002's Divine Discontent. Singer Leigh Nash and guitarist/songwriter Matt Slocum pursued solo careers for much of the '00s, but reunited a few years ago to try to recapture some of that old magic. After nearly two years of delays, the revamped quartet finally issued a new album, Lost in Transition, in August. We reached Nash by phone this week for a round of "Reviewing the Reviews," wherein we read her excerpts from a handful of recent Transition reviews and got her reactions--she ended up talking about life, hitmaking, stabbing people in the face, getting kicked in the boobs, and more.

See Also:
- Lord Have Mercy: Impoverished Christian Pop Fails To Satisfy the Pilgrims
- Faith, Hope, and Bono
- Christians and Heathens



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Reviews of Wines From Famous Rock 'n' Roll Bands!

Categories: Music Reviews

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By Brian McManus

Lately we've noticed a lot of bands have their own brands of wine, including Motörhead, Kiss, AC/DC, and Ratt. (Even Warrant has a wine. Warrant.) One of our friends at Wine Spectator magazine showed us the piece they wrote in April about this trend, and noted they were going to rate many of them in their October issue. But then walking ego Gene Simmons got word that his Kiss wine was rated poorly and threatened to sue. Wine Spectator felt it wasn't worth the hassle, so they killed the piece.

Here at Sound of the City, however, we're fearless motherfuckers who refuse to be pushed around. Also, we're drunk. So we sent an intern to find the piece in the trash at Wine Spectator and we are running it below. Bring it on, Simmons.


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