Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES Pazz & Jop

Pazz & Jop Comments: Protests and Escapes

Jesse Mayshark
I discovered my number one single totally by accident late at night listening to a New Orleans radio station over the internet. Shazamed it to no avail, but the DJ said it was “Floods of Fire” by the Gary Wrong Group. It’s six minutes of muted apocalypse over a motorik beat, with repeating doomsday imagery — “gnashing, ripping,” “volcanic ooze,” “trample-crushed bodies” — from Gary Wrong and an unnamed female co-conspirator. Then the beat stops and the final two minutes are pulses of bass and rippling guitar, fading to nothing. Exhausted and doomed and a little removed from caring, it was a perfect echo of 2017.

Gabe Vodicka
In need of comfort in 2017, we turned to the past. The shoegaze revival brought us reunion albums from Ride, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and — the steadiest and most seductive of the bunch — Slowdive, each offering escape into a realm of warm if artificial light.

Jason Gross
Maybe it’s bizarre to get so excited about something so mellow, but it was a great year for ambient, including old faves (Robert Rich, Gas, the Caretaker) and all shades of moods, including floaty (Delia Derbyshire Appreciation Society), dreamy (Chuck Johnson), meditative/minimal (Oliver Alary), unadorned beauty (Bing & Ruth, Poppy Ackroyd), cinematic (Alessandro Cortini), ethereal (Christopher Willits), light but sad (Bibio), dark ambient (Alphaxone, Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement), and new age-y (Suso Sáiz, Justin Walter). Maybe in the age of Trump, we need to chill more than ever.

Laurence Station
Convenient timing that Laura Marling’s all-things-feminine album Semper Femina just happens to land in the Year of Retribution Against Men Behaving Badly. Regardless of topical intersection, a timeless work by a master of her craft. Semper Marlinga!

Carol Cooper
Such a strange, odd year. Topical pop and protest music proliferated around the world, with all kinds of singers staying alert if not completely woke. Rock, house, hip-hop, reggaeton, and tropical hip-pop all impressed me with levels of social awareness beyond the usual moody sass and slackness. Migos and Cardi B may be guilty pleasures, but their cynical observations are too full of American realness to ignore.

Jaime Paul-Falcon
Hurray for the Riff Raff. The fury behind The Navigator’s epic standout track “Pa’lante” is entirely justified. As a sample of Pedro Pietri’s “Puerto Rican Obituary” is heard, the striking piano that buffeted the laments of the song’s first half fade away, and Alynda Segarra’s angered, forceful voice is backed by a frenzied guitar as she lays bare exactly what it is Hispanic and Latinx people cling to in a country that’s determined to vilify them.

Ted Leibowitz
In the face of the unprecedented attacks on the pillars of democracy, there were some great protest songs in 2017 worth noting including: Last Quokka, “Nazi Scum”; Shane Michael Vidaurri, “Alt-Right Fuck Off”; Juliana Hatfield, “When You’re a Star”; American Anymen, “Flag Burner”; Downtown Boys, “Promissory Note”; Prefab Messiahs, “The Man Who Killed Reality.”

Jeremy Shatan
There were a couple of choices this year: to run into the fire — to protest the horror of Trump’s insurgent “presidency” — or to seek escape from the havoc he was causing. Alternating the two seemed to be the best way to survive, and when it comes to the latter, the gorgeous album by the Clientele was the perfect soundtrack. So unexpected after a six-year hiatus, Music for the Age of Miracles featured all of the band’s virtues: literate, poetic lyrics; indelible melodies; sparkling music.

Saul Austerlitz
The song I listened to most this year, from the Women’s March in January to the passage of the tax-scam bill in December, was Run the Jewels’ “2100.” I’ve come to think of one particular line of El-P’s — “They could barely even see the dog/They don’t see the size of the fight” — as the motto of the burgeoning resistance to Trump. I pray every day that he’s right.

Dev Sherlock
From Eno’s Reflection, to Kendrick’s DAMN, to SZA’s CTRL, music this year was addressing a world very much in flux.

Sasha Geffen
Love exists and is real, hope is not the conviction that everything will be OK but the allowing of space for everything to be OK, everything is possible, music was good in 2017.

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES Datebook Events Listings MUSIC ARCHIVES NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

Coldplay

Everything about Coldplay is patently ridiculous: the drippy lyricism, the wide-eyed songwriting, the album art, the dippy names of singer Chris Martin’s kids, the Brian Eno jones, the daft earnestness surrounding everything it does. But when a jukebox coughs up of the quartet’s better smashes – “Paradise” say, or “Clocks,” or even “Fix You” – if you happen to be in the right mood, Coldplay will lay your emotions flat; they will ride roughshod over your preconceived notions of what “middlebow” connotes. Hate them now, but popular anthemic pop-rock could do far, far worse.

Mon., May 5, 9 p.m., 2014

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES FOOD ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

GOING DEEP

Nonesuch Records’ reissue of gray country goddess Emmylou Harris’s 1995 album Wrecking Ball — no relation to Miley Cyrus’s pop ballad — hearkens back to a more innocent time, when all it took for guaranteed artistic “reinvention” was Brian Eno protégé Daniel Lanois in the producer’s seat. Harris, then considered over the hill at 48, applied her unexpectedly imperfect voice to some damn fine songs by Steve Earle, Julie Miller, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Gillian Welch, and title-track composer Neil Young. An atmospheric and elegant downer of a production, Wrecking Ball turned out to be Harris’s last great album. She reprises it tonight alongside Steven Nistor (drums), Jim Wilson (piano), and Lanois, who also provide an opening set of ethereal-guitar-tinted Americana.

Sat., April 12, 8 p.m., 2014

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES Datebook Listings Living MUSIC ARCHIVES NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

Wild Beasts

It’s been a few years since Wild Beasts released the excellent Smother, and the Kendal, England four-piece are back with their fourth full-length, Present Tense, which is quite possibly their most streamlined effort to date. Recorded in London with producer and engineer Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Imogen Heap), the ambitious album is heavy with the band’s signature psychic weight as vocalist Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto, divisive and ethereal as ever, floats above his band’s grumbling, ‘80s- and ‘90s-indebted synths.

Tue., March 4, 9 p.m., 2014

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES Datebook Events MUSIC ARCHIVES NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

Jonathan Wilson

A classic rocker to his core, Jonathan Wilson writes, sings, and plays guitar as though Charles Manson had never slayed the ’60s. His music is rooted deeply in the crafty experimentalism of CSN&Y and Roy Harper, and his excellent band jams like a Southern-fried Pink Floyd — none of which is meant to diminish his intense personal vision. Laaraji is a prolific musical mystic whose amplified zither earned him a spot in Brian Eno’s Ambient album series more than three decades ago.

Wed., Feb. 12, 8 p.m., 2014

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

Jon Hopkins+Clark+Nathan Fake

Three renowned electronic alchemists will collide in this compact three-hour live showcase at Santos Party House: Warp mainstay and IDM maven Chris Clark will make his first appearance in New York since the release of this year’s schizophrenic remix compilation Feast/Beast, Nathan Fake takes a break from churning out lush, aqueous remixes for his psychedelic live set, and Mercury Prize-nominee/former Brian Eno collaborator Jon Hopkins continuing to rinse the epic emotions of breakthrough 2013 LP Immunity.

Sat., Nov. 16, 7 p.m., 2013

Categories
Bars CULTURE ARCHIVES Datebook Museums & Galleries MUSIC ARCHIVES NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

Jon Hopkins

Jon Hopkins is a British producer whose young career has been defined by a evasive collaborative spirit, whether inspiring Brian Eno with the improvisational elasticity of his compositions or flexing against electronic music strictures in his Diamond Mine album with singer-songwriter King Creosote. His latest, Immunity focuses this scattered creativity into a metronomic wash heavily influenced by his increased interactions with global club music. This album release party at Glasslands is his first headlining show in New York, and the only surprise is that it took so long.

Tue., June 4, 8:30 p.m., 2013

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

How Not To Interview Musicians

On Monday night, I had the privilege of watching James Murphy salvage an interview that, in lesser hands, probably would have gone down in flames. Mostly, the interviewer seemed to suffer from poor posture (perhaps he should watch this dry-mouthed TED talk on the power of body language) and lack of confidence– “Should we open it up to questions?” he asked at one point. Murphy’s response? “I don’t know, dude, it’s your interview.”

To be fair, maybe he was having a bad day, maybe he was forced to do the interview last minute, and it wasn’t the worst two hours of my life. I wasn’t the one onstage, after all. Plus, let’s be real: Musicians can be a finicky bunch who don’t really like to talk to the press. In the meantime, let’s look at some ridiculous, less-than-stellar interviews in the long, tenuous history of journalists versus musicians.

In short: This is how you don’t do it.

See also: James Murphy’s Cerebral Cortex Cannot Handle a DFA Musical

 

Don’t dress up as Nardwuar.
Apparently Blur never grew out of the reportedly dog-eat-dog British school system known for its cruel headmasters and worse bullying. The band members push Nardwuar around, remove his glasses, and steal his hat, which he asks for repeatedly while amazingly not breaking character. “As long as we’re getting this on tape, we’re good!” he says at one point. At least Dave Rowntree found it within himself to apologize years later.

Don’t look like an idiot and be sure to understand your subject’s references.
When Will Oldham introduces “Big Friday” during a morning interview on Kansas City TV, the anchor, god bless her, says, “I love big Fridays!” Buzzkill Bill points out that it’s actually a reference to Big Wednesday, a surf term popularized in the 1978 film of the same name. She also doesn’t get it when he references Bonnie Prince Charlie as one of the inspirations for his three-pronged Bonnie Prince Billy moniker. Live and learn, I guess.

This might seem obvious, but know how to pronounce your subject’s name.
Terry Gross’ interview with Gene Simmons goes to some dark places, but things start to derail when she doesn’t get his Hebrew birth name, Chaim Witz, quite right. “The name came out of a gentile mouth,” Simmons says. “It came out bland.” “It’s not a gentile mouth, actually,” Gross responds. “Ooh, maybe it’s a discussion we can have. But I don’t want to start something we can’t finish,” Simmons says. Maybe it’s because I’ve listened to This American Laugh too many times, but Simmons’ sexual undertones in this case (or ever) are just, well, gross.

If you make a joke, make sure it’s a good joke.
Clive Anderson’s interview with the Bee Gees goes well enough until he interjects one too many times. “We did make one hit during that time,” Barry Gibb says, “called ‘Don’t Forget to Remember’.” “I don’t remember that one,” Anderson retorts. With a straight face, Gibb walks out, followed swiftly by his brothers. It’s pretty pathetic watching Anderson’s face slowly fall as he learns, as we all do, that his actions have consequences.

See also: Barry Gibb Week on American Idol: Not Particularly Great TV

When in doubt, interview yourself.
A few musicians have found a way around the necessary evil of giving interviews: ask not what your interviewer can do for you, but what you can do for yourself. In a pitch-perfect parody, “Dick Flash” of “Pork Magazine” interviews Brian Eno, hilariously mixing up the title of Small Craft on a Milk Sea and cutting him off.

Don’t be a dick and remember that musicians are overly sensitive about everything and will probably misread your constructive criticism.
When Queen toured in 1984 after a three-year hiatus, guitarist Brian May gave an interview with a French journalist who called Queen’s style “a bit overblown.” “Is that a criticism?” May asks. He starts to answer and then abruptly turns around to scream, bizarrely but appropriately, “Fuck off!” at someone making noise behind him.

How Not To Write About Female Musicians: A Handy Guide
The Top 15 Things That Annoy Your Local Sound Guy
The Oral History of NYC’s Metal/Hardcore Crossover


 

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES Neighborhoods NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

ROCK 101

Are you a punk-rocking, forward thinking student with a fascist principal on your back? Well, you can sulk your way through detention, eventually acclimating to the oppressive society of which your school is a microcosm, or you can call the Ramones and blow stuff up. In Rock ’n’ Roll High School (1979), P.J. Soles takes the second route, and it definitely makes for a better movie. As Riff Randell, the biggest Ramones fan at Vince Lombardi High School, she invites Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Marky (Tommy had left the previous year) to become honorary students and aid the class in the fight for their right to rock. The cult musical by Allan Arkush features all the loud and fast Ramones tunes you’d expect, but also songs from Brian Eno, the MC5, the Velvet Underground, and Alice Cooper, among others. Tonight, Bill Pearis of Brooklyn Vegan hosts a screening with live DJs, trivia, giveaways, and drink specials.

Thu., May 23, 8 p.m., 2013

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES Neighborhoods NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

LONG PLAYER

In what is becoming a nice complement to Record Store Day at the city’s music shops each April, the semiannual Brooklyn Flea Record Fair returns today to East River State Park (at North 7th Street) with a diverse array of vendors and exclusive releases for music obsessives. Labels like Fatcat and Warp sell rare items, like a cassette from indie rockers Paws that isn’t available in stores, and “super limited box sets” from Aphex Twin, Brian Eno, Autechre, and more. The fair also hosts booths run by collectors, local stores like Other Music, and nearly 30 indie record labels including DFA and Merge, as well as a soundtrack provided by guest DJs like James Pants and Veronica Vasicka of Minimal Wave.

Sat., May 4, 11 a.m., 2013