May 23, 2010

Tiny Vices


» The Stooges – Fun House (Take 3) (11:29) – 10.52MB mp3 @ 128kbps


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May 14, 2010

Guilty As Charged

Look at this Fucking Hipster Edition

What Does Hipster Mean to Meme?

via Buzzfeed

I appreciate the Sartre call-out (1:17); however, to her point(s), I just happened upon the latest installment of Nitsuh Abebe’s monthly column for Pitchfork, in which he addresses the concept of irony as the guiding tenet of indie (read: hipster) culture, citing LCD Soundsystem and Hipster Runoff (both of which I’ve written about in a similar context).

You can’t possibly navigate the Internet without being able to understand both arch, knowing irony and all-out earnestness– but no matter how good your ability to figure out which is which, you will eventually run into items where you have no earthly idea how serious the author is.

–Nitsuh Abebe, Why We Fight #3: A Brief History of Knowingness and Irony,
Pitchfork, May 7 2010

In Abebe’s inaugural essay, he draws parallels between Joanna Newsom and Lady Gaga; the former recently spoke about the latter in an interview with the Guardian. (I was less impressed with the extended analogy of musical evolution that marked his second effort, though I’d like to read the Calvino story he mentions.)


More to come soon…

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May 13, 2010

Sleigh Bells

If you don’t know, now you know: Sleigh Bells are the latest product of blogosphere hype machinery, and at the risk of fanning the flames, I’ll echo everyone from my friend Sean (who has a nominal claim to their rise, since he booked their second gig back in October) to the New York Times in praise of the Brooklyn duo.


Despite Sean’s best attempt to get me to see them last fall, I didn’t end up at that show (I should have known better after his last tip on the Drums), but between CMJ and SXSW, Sleigh Bells blew up: they played to a sold-out crowd at Ridgewood Masonic Temple on Tuesday to mark the release their debut album Treats. I was lucky enough to have bought my ticket before M.I.A.’s unannounced guest appearance at smaller gig last Friday, which surely spurred ticket sales over the weekend.

The Sundelles’ surf/garage stylings was merely a diversion and I was curious about Cults, who are on the fast track to blowing up, but I was mostly looking forward to my first Sleigh Bells experience and they didn’t disappoint. There’s not much to the performance itself but it’s as good a time as one might have at a concert, and I completely agree with Matthew Perpetua’s excellent appraisal of Sleigh Bells at Tuesday’s show:

Like the music itself, the show is elemental and assertive, simple enough to be obvious, though novel enough to make you wonder why no one has ever really done it quite like this before.

–Matthew Perpetua, Devil Horns Best Friends, Fluxblog, May 12 2010

To Perpetua’s list of adjectives, I would add: visceral, immediate and cathartic; apocalyptic yet ultimately triumphant. It’s pop, punk and hip-hop, compressed to the limit of listenability, which somehow makes it all the more appealing… or overhyped, depending on your point of view.


As for the music itself, Alexis’s vocals strike me as more riot-grrl than M.I.A., though affinity is clear: those drum-machine-gun beats could turn a ghettoblaster into a Future Weapon, while Derek’s SG delivers more hardcore riffage than most indie kids would dare (he previously shredded for Poison the Well).

Even so, the sonic assault scarcely belies the sheer catchiness of the tunes, and Treats is the first party album of the summer whether you like it or not. Sleigh Bells are the band of the moment, and frankly there’s nothing wrong with that.

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April 30, 2010

Theophilus London – I Want You Mixtape


Indie hip-hop wunderkind Theophilus London has just released a new mixtape, entitled I Want You (download link below). As with his previous effort, This Charming Mixtape, the Brooklyn MC has crafted another superlistenable genre-bending pastiche to build hype from a forthcoming full-length.

Theophilus London on HB; Mediafire download via The Fader

See also: Paul Lester, “the Guardian man,” on last year’s mixtape.

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April 29, 2010

Images: Super Deluxx Edition

Henri Cartier-Bresson's portrait of Sartre is currently on view in his retrospective at MoMA

Henri Cartier-Bresson's portrait of Sartre is currently on view in his retrospective at MoMA

As with his entire body of work, Sartre’s theory of imagination refers to—and, naturally, affirms—his ontology, in which he explores Husserl’s tenet that “all consciousness is consciousness of something” in the context of the ‘detotalized totality’ of being-in-itself / being-for-itself dualism. Sartre postulates an admittedly underdeveloped notion of image consciousness in his early work The Imaginary (1940), though these writings are largely eclipsed by his later political [viz. Marxist] proclivities; nevertheless, his theory of imagination is a sufficient foundation of a phenomenological aesthetics.

Notably, Sartre implies that the imaginary (or ‘irreal’) has the same ontological import as the real: if the real is never beautiful, it is simply because beauty is, by definition, imaginary, where imagination is a permanent possibility of consciousness. A painting, photograph, film, song, performance, etc., necessarily transcends perception—i.e. consciousness of oil on canvas, ink on paper, a projection, an actor, etc.—as an object of image consciousness, which overflows with the meaning of the portrait (etc.): a particular arrangement of brushstrokes or sounds immediately presents itself to consciousness as an image or melody. The abstract, then, is that which escapes us in experience qua perception; colors transcend pigment to conjure mood or geometry.

Hence, Images (in no particular order):



































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April 27, 2010

M.I.A. – Born Free

The video for M.I.A.’s “Born Free”—an ultraviolent, parabolic, hyperbolic crusade—stormed the buzzosphere over the weekend, hot on the heels of my most recent mu$ic post.

The song is a thrilling, aggressive, hardcore electric anthem and heavily samples “Ghost Rider” by Suicide (ca. 1977, buy MP3 here). As my friend Clayton wonders aloud, perhaps the lyrics “America America is killing its youth” in the Suicide song influenced the visuals in the M.I.A. video.

Boing Boing

Incendiary political statement or crass PR stunt? Either way, we’re a long way from the fun/intelligence dichotomy: the overly gritty dystopian realism strikes me as a slightly-too-desperate bid for artistic credibility, if not authenticity in itself. At best, the short film is visceral to the extent that it is powerful yet reductive; at worst, it blurs the line between senseless and pointless.

UPDATE: Animal on the reference points; Diplo on the production.

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April 23, 2010

Pop Mu$ic

Ke$ha made a minor PR spla$h in the blog ocean (a drop in the Photobucket?) with a mediocre-to-bad performance on $NL last week (I’ll spare you the clips, but you can find them here). Yet pop pundits from across the internets have come to her defen$e, speculating that the “not dumb” pop$tar/rapper will eventually command some kind long-term po$t-reinvention cult following. In other words, we can already fondly look back at the passable Uffie-meets-Gaga single “TiK ToK,” because $he’s charting a path back to Na$hville.

Fred Falke transforms the bubbly electro party jam into a disco-funk banger, which I like about as much as the original (i.e. I’ve heard worse):

» Ke$ha – TiK ToK (Fred Falke Remix Radio Edit) (3:55) – 6MB mp3 @ 208kbps

Ke$ha in Interview Magazine; via Buzzfeed

Ke$ha in Interview Magazine; via Buzzfeed

Of course, Ke$ha is almost willfully eclipsed by the mega-ego of Lady Gaga’s hair alone, to say nothing of the Celebrity Incarnate herself. Indeed, insofar as Stefanie Germanotta’s alter ego represents pop-cultural cynosure the world over, she is regarded as a symbol (or symptom) of postmodernity, the subject and object of an ever-growing body of meta-commentary… not to mention a shitload of YouTube covers. There’s the usual conspiracy theories and folk psychological drivel, not to mention the sort of cultural criticism that is slightly too smart for its own good, namely Mark Dery’s recent ‘rockist’ retort to Sasha Frere-Jones’ review of Gaga from a year ago. (My own analysis, below, is decidedly less clever.)

Dery’s dissection of Lady Gaga and her (purportedly) apocryphal brilliance is worth reading, though I should caution that it’s on the heavy side: in a brief riposte from the pro-Gaga camp,* one commenter characterizes [Lord] Dery’s essay as “ridiculous long, very smart, [and] very namedroppy.” As far as I can tell, it comes down to a matter of whether fun and intelligence are mutually exclusive.

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April 16, 2010

Art vs Commerce

via Kottke

Parisian turntablists Birdy Nam Nam are obviously the missing link:

Plus: Re-enter Sandman – Smooth Jazz or Dance Pop, take your pick.

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April 8, 2010

Too Much, Too Much


Pitchfork has just announced the final lineup for their wildly successful eponymous music festival, and it’s pretty much an indie kid’s dream come true: Liars, Wolf Parade, Major Lazer, Beach House, Why?, Big Boi, Robyn, and several other independent music luminaries will be playing across three days in Chicago come July, alongside previously-announced headliners Pavement, LCD Soundsystem and Modest Mouse… not to mention the likes of Broken Social Scene, Panda Bear, Raekwon, Titus Andronicus, Dâm-Funk, Sleigh Bells et al.

Prepped-out Malkmus

Prepped-out Malkmus

Liars stole the show in 2006—they’re easily one of my favorite live acts—and Stephen Malkmus was a highlight in 2007, but Pitchfork has really outdone themselves for the fifth time around. Honestly, the lineup is basically too stacked at this point (if the previous run-on paragraph is any indication), an extreme case of ‘festival oversaturation’: there’s simply no way that one would have the opportunity to see every single band he or she wanted to see.


Liars' Angus Andrew shredding

Related: Liars, St. Vincent (also playing this festival this year) and ’fork fest veterans Os Mutantes covering INXS for Beck’s Record Club (Stereogum); Awesome interview with Angus from Liars (Motherboard); LCD Soundsystem dates for what may or may not be a final tour (BV).

Shameless self-promotion, because it’s been a while:

» The Purple Ribbon Allstars – Kryptokraft 400 (K Hessel’s On It) (3:42) – 6.6MB mp3 @ 246kbps

» Das Racist – Combination Pon de Floor and Wallpaper (K Hessel’s Mas Lazer Mashup) (3:27) – 7.9MB mp3 @ 320kbps

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April 1, 2010

LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

So somehow I missed this, but LCD Soundsystem has (sort of) released a new track from their forthcoming (and possibly last, as reported earlier) album. In addition to over an hour of new music from James Murphy & co., they’ve also come up with a name and album art to spite Stereogum’s crowdsourcing campaign.

Just as Sisterworld is the Liars’ L.A. album, This Is Happening represents the same for LCD, and the different roads from NYC to the City of Angels to illustrate just how far we’ve come from the dance-punk glory days of the early 00′s.

Of course, if the Pitchfork-approved single “Drunk Girls” (below) is any indication, I imagine that the one-time disco savior has crafted a radically different sound from the art-punk experimentalists: it’s a matter of timelessness vs. timeliness, respectively, insofar as rock music evolves through a dialectic* of the two principles.

But I digress: “Drunk Girls,” for your listening pleasure.

via Stereogum, which also posted a clip of another track on the forthcoming LP: “Pow Pow

In other album art news, D*Face × X*Tina: never would’ve seen it coming, but I can dig it. At least it sets a precendent for some kind of blockbuster Shepard Fairey / Lady Gaga collabo.


*Yes I dropped a d-bomb. No, I don’t really know what it means, and I’m not proud of it.

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