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Pazz & Jop Comments: My My, Hey Hey, Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay

Auckland’s Beths might be the 4,000th indie rock band from ever-fecund New Zealand — let alone the entire globe. But others don’t have Elizabeth Stokes. Not to slight her bandmates on Future Me Hates Me; they’re bubbly-effervescent and post-punky-barbed excited-sounding, too. But to confront “You Wouldn’t Like Me,” “Not Running,” or the title track is to be like a trained guard dog that rolls over and seeks belly rubs instead of barking. Stokes is ridiculously infectious and disarming, making this least-ephemeral kind of guitar pop ear candy. Future us will still love her.— Jack Rabid

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It seems reports of rock and roll’s death have been greatly exaggerated. On Young & Dangerous, the Struts’ Butch Walker–produced sophomore banger, Luke Spiller (the band’s spectacularly Zandra Rhodes–caped frontman, who could have easily played the lead in Bohemian Rhapsody if Rami Malek hadn’t been available) and his fellow British glam-rockers vamp and amp their way through the disco-rock euphoria of “Who Am I?” (think the Stones’ “Miss You” or Rod the Mod’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”), the Crowes-y cowbell jam “Primadonna Like Me,” the hard-charging football terrace chant “Bulletproof Baby,” and the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show themes “Body Talks” and “In Love With a Camera” with unbridled Jagger swagger. Dave Grohl, authority on all things rawk, declared the Struts the best opening act to ever tour with the Foo Fighters, but expect them to be headlining stadiums on their own in 2019.
— Lyndsey Parker

https://youtu.be/dNxCz-Iyu0g

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, “Shallow”: OK, the two best films of the year were First Reformed and Shoplifters, but the most thrilling moment on the screen was unquestionably when Gaga summons her inner rock goddess with “huuuh, uhhh, ahhhh ah wah haaa ahhhhhhhhh.” I mean, the film could have fallen off the cliff from there and I would have been happy.
— Ken Capobianco

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Paul McCartney, Egypt StationHis best since Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, and a nice bit of political commentary on “Despite Repeated Warnings.”
— Gillian Gaar

Mighty Mighty BosstonesFollowing a seven-year recording absence, the veteran Boston ska-rock group came back strong with the socially conscious While We’re At It, where the still-gravelly-voiced Dicky Barrett penned lyrics with vivid imagery.
— George A. Paul

Andrew W.K., “Music Is Worth Living For” 
It is.
— 
Ian Mathers

Apparently Love Is Dead is Chvrches “selling out,” even though they were already a pretty poppy band to begin with. This is music designed to boom in the big venues Chvrches have rightly earned, and it, as they say, slaps.
— Brice Ezell

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Though Will Toledo technically debuted Car Seat Headrest’s “Bodys” sometime in the late 2000s on Bandcamp, it got its chance to shine this year on the reworked Twin Fantasy. Tumbling synths, pristine drum machine loops, and an impending sense of complicated youthful bliss make this song one of my favorites of 2018. Toledo connects the fragility of young love to the delicacy of the human body, the vessels that allow us to experience life fully.
— Ellen Johnson

Amen Dunes, “Miki Dora”: I don’t listen to music to learn stuff — not stuff that can be put into words, anyway. But reading up on this song’s eponymous subject was fascinating: a guy from the Fifties who helped popularize surfing (he’s in every one of those Frankie Avalon–Annette Funicello movies) but who supposedly hated the commercialization of what he’d helped usher in, and who conveyed his disgust by acting out in various ways — swastikas, crucifixion imagery, crime, exile. I’m old enough to remember when there’d be an occasional surfing segment on Wide World of Sports; also, Laura Blears Ching in Playboy…I digress. I came across this one interesting quote from the president of the Hang-Ten Chapter of Malibu Surfers just after Dora’s swastika incident: “You had a surfer on one side that was bad, and you had a group of surfers on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say it, but I will say it right now.” I like the sound of “Miki Dora” fine — it starts off like a dreamy, singer-songwriter version of “Come as You Are” — but it’s primarily the story that draws me in.
— Phil Dellio

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Making her own mythologies, reassembling our monuments. Neko Case is forever.
Ann Powers

Greta Van Fleet emerged from the wide-scale savaging of social media haters loud and proud.
— Bud Scoppa

Is Parquet Courts’ “Total Football” about Colin Kaepernick? I refuse to look it up and spoil the meaning of this song for myself. Anyone who says football isn’t political is an idiot. It’s very political because it’s very capitalistic, and Parquet Courts actually understand that.… Wide Awaaaaaake! is a very relevant political evolution for PQ, with signature catchy tunes about everything from feeding cats to global warming to why Tom Brady sucks.
— Troy Farah

Parquet Courts, Wide Awaaaaaake! Even Patriots fans dig the “fuck Tom Brady” coda of “Total Football.”
— Michael Fournier

On Wide Awaaaaaake!, Parquet Courts, the last (?) of the great downtown New York art-guitar bands, get woke, attacking everything from violence and global warming deniers to Patriot QB Tom Brady in the most remarkable cultural shift since the Beasties’.
— Roy Trakin

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Perfume Genius

As a sort of queer icon for the underground set (think the opposite of Lady Gaga), Perfume Genius, otherwise known as Seattle-based artist Mike Hadreas, has been turning heads with his excellent just-released album, Too Bright. The album builds upon Perfume Genius’ quiet genius of 2012’s Put Your Back N 2 It with more complex sounds, noises and Hadreas’ lyrical wit. Hadreas historically confessional live shows are sure to reach new levels of engagement as he brings the sonic depths of Too Bright to life.

Tue., Oct. 7, 9 p.m., 2014

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The Day the Dancehall Died

After Lady Gaga ends her ten-day string of sold-out shows at the Roseland Ballroom, the block-long venue (52nd to 53rd streets between Broadway and Eighth Avenue) will close for good, and its owner hopes to replace it with an apartment tower.

That final show on April 7 marks the end of an era of the Manhattan mega club.

Read more in Steve Weinstein’s cover story: “The Day the Dancehall Died.”

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Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

A three-word preview for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s Nanda Collection World Tour 2014: CANDY CRUSH SAGA. The Japanese pop star’s sickeningly sweet blend of kawaii (“cute” in Japanese) and offbeat goth won the obsessive hearts of her equally quirky fans when she debuted in 2011. Imitation art poppers Lady Gaga and Katy Perry probably wish they had music impresario Yasutaka Nakata on their team. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s Nakata-penned singles, like “Candy Candy” and “PonPonPon” off 2012’s Pamyu Pamyu Revolution, are exquisite, grotesque, and addictive explorations of infantilized innocence. Reviews of earlier stops on her tour allude to teddy bears, bunnies, and Muppet-like creatures making prominent appearances. It’s hope that Halloween without sexy outfits could still be an affair of strange theater — or that Miley minus twerking could still be entertaining.

Sat., March 8, 8 p.m., 2014

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ON THE L.E.S. STREETS

Back in 2005, Stefani Germanotta, a singer-songwriter living on the Lower East Side with an all-expenses-paid apartment (thanks to her dad), was scheming with her friend DJ Brendan Jay Sullivan about how to become the next big thing. She paid her “struggling artist” dues by performing as a go-go dancer and singing at clubs like Mercury Lounge and The Bitter End. Three years later, we’d come to know Germanotta better as Lady Gaga. Sullivan recalls his days with Gaga before she became a huge pop star in his debut memoir, Rivington Was Ours: Lady Gaga, the Lower East Side, and the Prime of Our Lives. Tonight, Sullivan, along with comedian and writer Dave Hill, Elna Baker (author of the memoir The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance), and others will discuss their memories of the L.E.S.

Tue., Sept. 3, 7 p.m., 2013

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This Terrifying Lady Gaga Video Will Make You Even Less Inclined to Donate to the Marina Abramovic Institute Kickstarter

Marina Abramovic is rolling out plans for her very own art institute in Hudson, and–sigh–she’s using Kickstarter to fund it.

…W hich reminds me, I have this great idea: We should all go in together on Kickstarter to ban celebrity Kickstarters. Rich people: We don’t have any extra money lying around to bankroll your vanity projects. Stop asking. Zach Braff: I’ve seen your apartment–you want my $10 to make Garden State 2? I suppose you’ll want another $10 when it hits theaters? Mmm-HMM. (Guys, I really think we can make this celebrity-Kickstarter-free world a reality–but I’m going to need your help to get it off the ground. Check out the pledge gifts, and consider donating. Any amount helps.)

Where was I? So, the Marina Abramovic Institute: it looks absolutely terrifying. When guests enter what appears today to be a dimly lit subterranean chamber–but which Abramovic promises will one day be a clinical, white-washed reception hall–they are asked to sign a contract promising they won’t leave for at least six hours (red flag). All of their belongings are taken away from them, and they are issued a white lab coat and headphones “to completely block any sound.”

“… So there is nothing to remind you of the outside world,” Abramovic says, ominously.

At this point in her description, the world “institute” takes on an entirely different connotation. When she starts talking about a crystal cave, (“you have to sit with the closed eyes”) and the meditation chamber (“the bed you have to lie on is suspended in space by a magnetic force”), and the “special wheelchair” that guests are confined to–one gets a very uneasy feeling about the plans Abramovic has for this place.

Our existing fears were confirmed when we saw what Abramovic did to Lady Gaga there this weekend. The video, by the way–very NSFW.

The Abramovic Method Practiced by Lady Gaga from Marina Abramovic Institute on Vimeo.

Yep, that pretty much settles the issue in our mind.

 

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Get A Load Of Gaga’s 24-Karat Wheelchair

While she recovers from hip-related surgery, Lady Gaga is rolling around in a 24-karat gold-plated wheelchair she had personally designed for her.

The Lady contacted a noted jewelry designer and asked them to whip up the flamboyant machine so she can wheel around like a true celebrity.

(Or more accurately, to sit in it for a Terry Richardson photo shoot. The designer is not sure that Gaga is using it in real life as well.)

]

We hope this vehicle makes the woman feel better–and gets her more press items like this one–but does anyone wonder if the money could have spent on something more meaningful?

Like gold trim for my surgical shoes?

Anyway, the wheelchair is at the link.

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Sexy Baby

There might be something new to say about sex after all, and it’s said in Sexy Baby, a snazzily edited documentary by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus. Never titillating, the film examines how porn inspires real women to changes of identity: Laura, a 22-year-old teacher from North Carolina choosing labiaplasty—objectification anyone?—because a boyfriend preferred porn stars’ vaginal looks to hers; Nichole, a 32-year-old ex-porn queen/pole dancer in Florida asserting that most women want to be like her “Nakita Kash”; and the trickier case of the engaging and sophisticated Winnifred, a 12-year-old Manhattanite growing up in the immersion tank of erotic billboards, ribald lyrics, sexting, and the porn-strewn Internet. Hers is the first generation to know no other way; even she calls thinks of her age group as “pioneers.” Winnifred has decided to eschew watching porn, but she likes its style, adjusting her fishnet stockings for the right slutty look en route to a Lady Gaga concert. Later, though, she wonders to the camera if her seductive Facebook page “starts an alter ego that shapes how you are in real life.” Incongruously and inconclusively, Sexy Baby ends with photos of Winnifred and her family and a close-up of Nichole’s baby, perhaps nods to the gestalt. Still, the takeaway image is of twin hunks of labial flesh on the surgical table: in porn-slang, Laura’s abhorred “roast beef.”

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Lady Gaga’s Family Restaurant Is Filthy According to Health Department

It has been a rough couple of weeks for Lady Gaga’s family restaurant, Joanne Trattoria. First they reeled in a pretty negative review from the New York Daily News, and now they’re dealing with some major errors with the city’s health inspectors.

According to the New York Post, violations included unwashed food-prep surfaces, no hand-washing facilities close to the kitchen, and food placed in areas ripe for contamination. They totaled 42 points, which amounts to a “C” rating.

Joanne general manager Travis Jones told the Post that the grade is bogus. “We’re going to be taking it to court,” he said.

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Decoding Deepak

Made and narrated by a son in an attempt to reconcile his own perception of his father with that of the public at large, Gotham Chopra’s Decoding Deepak is as much an exercise in self-help as it is a demystification of its title character. Deepak Chopra, whose protégés include Lady Gaga and Oprah, has by his own admission long seen the suffering of others as a chance to practice his craft—which mostly consists of pseudoscience and vague screeds on consciousness vis-à-vis our place in the universe. Following the celebrity guru into Thailand for his ordainment as a Buddhist monk, the film is at its best when Gotham can’t help but see through his father, who seems entirely restless without an audience and a smartphone through which to be reminded of their adoration of him. “I’m not pointing this out because I have a bone to pick with him,” Gotham says. “I’m pointing it out because it’s true.” Fair enough. He says several other damning things about his father along the way—”The more I follow him, the more I see he’s driven by an insatiable desire to be relevant”—but never comes across as vindictive. In that way, he does something a lot of other documentarians try at and fail: makes something intimate and relevant to the outside world, which is especially helpful given how many people have only seen his father’s public face.