Kristian Nairn is the actor who plays Hodor on HBO's Game of Thrones. When he's not acting, the 6'10" Belfast resident DJs and makes music. His Soundcloud page contains a bunch of his house mixes; here's the latest mix from three months ago:
If you have children in your home, you have likely seen the movie Frozen and heard the song Let It Go like 50 billionty times. The movie did great in the US, coming in as the 19th biggest movie ever, but it's done amazingly well overseas: #8 on the alltime list with a $1.1 billion gross.
Saturday was the 20th anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain at the age of 27. Many have written of the anniversary, but I liked Dennis Cooper's piece published in Spin a few weeks after Cobain's death.
Cobain's work nailed how a ton of people feel. There are few moments in rock as bewilderingly moving as when he mumbled, "I found it hard / It's hard to find / Oh well, whatever / Nevermind." There's that bizarre, agonized, and devastating promise he keeps making throughout "Heart-Shaped Box": "Wish that I could eat your cancer when you turn black." Take a look in his eyes the next time MTV runs the "Heart-Shaped Box" video, and see if you can sort out the pain from the ironic detachment from the horror from the defensiveness.
A track called Computerized featuring Jay Z rapping over Daft Punk beats has surfaced. Take a listen:
I agree with Drew Millard's take that this is an old unreleased track from the Tron Legacy / The Blueprint 3 days.
First, this isn't an original Daft Punk instrumental; that keyboard line is a loop from the song "Son of Flynn" off of Daft Punk's score for Tron: Legacy. From there, literally anyone-like, even me in GarageBand-could loop that, throw some drums in there, get a vocoder plugin and sing "computeriiiiiized" into it.
From there, let's analyze Jay Z's lyrics, which include the line, "I got an iTouch but I can't feel," and also a reference to Hov Jobs' BlackBerry. Judging from the dated technology iHova is talking about on here, this is probably old as fuck.
Everything was going along fine in our living room until the song got to the break-the low, murky part-at which point Alexander called out to me, "Daddy! It's scary!"
Nirvana's music, in its anguish and energy, is scary. "Nevermind" is scary. But the break in "Drain You" is especially scary. I either had to turn it off or find a way to make this work. I didn't want to turn it off. Instead, I turned it down an infinitesimal amount and addressed my son's concerns.
"Alexander," I said, bending over to talk near his face. "This is the part where they are in the swamp. The water is dark and murky, and the trees are low. They're walking through the wet mud in the dark underbrush of the swamp."
He looked at me with wide eyes. The colored lights added to the discotheque-meets-haunted-house mood. I worried that he would have nightmares, and that I would rue the night I played "Drain You." People would shake their heads and say, "What were you thinking?"
"Right now, it's very dark, but they are trying to find their way out of the swamp," I continued.
Already infamous in Portland, Love was holding court in a booth when she saw Kurt walk by a few minutes before his band was set to appear onstage. Courtney was wearing a red polka-dot dress. "You look like Dave Pirner," she said to him, meaning the remark to sound like a small insult, but also a flirt. Kurt did look a bit like Pirner, the lead singer of Soul Asylum, as his hair had grown long and tangled -- he washed it just once a week, and then only with bar soap. Kurt responded with a flirt of his own: He grabbed Courtney and wrestled her to the ground.
I was listening to some music with the kids the other day and Ollie saw the cover for Nevermind in my iTunes and asked, "hey Daddy, what's that one with the floating baby?" So we played some songs and tried to explain what that album had meant to so many people, but I didn't do it justice. How do you explain culture shifts to kindergarten-age children? "Everything was the same as it was before, except that everything was different. Does that make sense?" In the end, I pulled a power-dad move and said, "I guess you just had to be there." ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The sheng is a free-reed wind instrument dating back to 1100 BCE in China. Using a modern sheng, Li-Jin Lee makes the ancient instrument sound remarkably like Super Mario Bros., including coin and power-up sounds.
And I know the Olympics are over and good riddance and all that, but this Mario Kart speedskating bit is great. Baby Park was one of my favorite tracks on Double Dash.
In an interview with an Australian radio station, Arcade Fire's Win Butler said that the music on the Her movie soundtrack will see an official release in some form. Here's what Butler said about it:
We're just slow as a band. The music will get out there, it's just, like, a question of if we want to sell it to people or give to people or record other songs or whatever. There are many pieces on the soundtrack that are kind of based on actual songs that we've never really recorded. Yeah, there's a song called Milk and Honey and a song called Dimensions that are, like, lost great Arcade Fire songs. They are actually just things that, like, fit the world of the movie and then we kind of wrote them to the film.
That's good news! Here's the whole interview (they start talking about Her at 15:40):
Mario Wienerroither takes music videos, strips out all the sound, and then foleys back in sound effects based on what people are doing in the video. You'll get the gist after about 6 seconds of this Jamiroquai video:
According to Spike Jonze, there might not be an official release of the soundtrack for Her (performed by Arcade Fire), but the whole thing is somehow currently on the internet for your listening pleasure:
Update: Win Butler of Arcade Fire now says the Her soundtrack will be released in some form eventually.
I always forget about Interview magazine but I really shouldn't because a) Warhol and b) they consistently pair interesting people together for interviews. Case in point: director Steve McQueen (Shame, 12 Years a Slave, not Bullitt) interviews Kanye West for the Feb 2014 issue.
MCQUEEN: You've been on the scene as an artist now for 10 years, which is impressive, given the level of interest and artistry that you've managed to sustain in your work. In the process, you've become incredibly influential. So you talk about doing all of these other things, which is great, but there's really no amount of money that could make you more influential than you are now. So my question is: What are you going to do with all of the influence that you have right now?
WEST: Well, influence isn't my definition of success-it's a by-product of my creativity. I just want to create more. I would be fine with making less money. I actually spend the majority of my money attempting to create more things. Not buying things or solidifying myself or trying to make my house bigger, or trying to show people how many Louis Vuitton bags I can get, or buying my way to a good seat at the table. My definition of success, again, is getting my ideas out there.
In 1963, Studs Terkel interviewed a 21-year-old Bob Dylan, before he was famous.
In the spring of 1963 Studs Terkel introduced Chicago radio listeners to an up-and-coming musician, not yet 22 years old, "a young folk poet who you might say looks like Huckleberry Finn, if he lived in the 20th century. His name is Bob Dylan."
Dylan had just finished recording the songs for his second album, "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan", when he traveled from New York to Chicago to play a gig at a little place partly owned by his manager, Albert Grossman, called "The Bear Club". The next day he went to the WFMT studios for the hour-long appearance on "The Studs Terkel Program".
Bob Dylan is a notoriously tough person to interview and that's definitely the case here, even this early in his life as a public persona. On the other hand, Terkel is a veteran interviewer, one of the best ever, and he seems genuinely impressed with the young man who was just 21 at the time and had but one record of mainly covers under his belt. Terkel does a good job of keeping things on track as he expertly gets out of the way and listens while gleaning what he can from his subject. It's an interesting match-up.
Dylan seems at least fairly straightforward about his musical influences. He talks about seeing Woody Guthrie with his uncle when he was ten years old (Is this just mythology? Who knows?), and he mentions Big Joe Williams and Pete Seeger a few times.
Much of the rest is a little trickier. Terkel has to almost beg Dylan to play what turns out to be an earnest, driving version of "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall." Dylan tells Terkel that he'd rather the interviewer "take it off the disc," but relents and does the tune anyways.
This is a beautiful song. On the video, there is a long introduction with piano and strings. Use real strings, please, Beyoncé. The piano might be real but it sounds like the most expensive fake piano on the market. One would love to think that this is a comment on the artificiality of beauty -- we've become accustomed to an expensive fake in favor of the built-in and beautiful imperfections of reality -- but I doubt that was the reason for this particular oversight. Bey: call me; you know where I stay.
Tavi: On that note, you have a very unique way of looking at the suburb where you live, which I think you've called "the Bubble." When did you realize the suburbs could be a source of inspiration?
Lorde: Well...this sounds so lame, but I grew up reading your blog, man! [Laughs]
Tavi: Oh no! "Ugh, that's so LAME, shut up!"
Lorde: [Laughs] But no, I think there is something really cool about that whole Virgin Suicides vibe of making even the bad parts bearable. I hate high school so much, but there's something kind of cool about walking around on the coldest day listening to "Lindisfarne" by James Blake or something and feeling like something has happened, even though it's the worst thing ever. The album The Suburbs by Arcade Fire was influential to me in that as way well. I just think that record is really beautiful and nostalgic and so well-written. It's a super-direct way of talking about what it's like to grow up [in the suburbs], and I think that's quite lovely.
You're asking about stuff I'm not used to talking about in interviews, so I don't have a stock way of driving the question.
Tavi: OK, then: "Do you feel 17?"
Lorde: AGHHHH! What do you even say to that, honestly?
Tavi: It's kind of a trap, because if you say yes you're shitting on their question by making it seem obvious, but if you say no you seem like you think you're older and better.
Lorde: I always get these weird people being like, "Oh, she's growing up way too fast, she looks 30." Oh, god.
Tavi: People always say that. I remember -- not to be all Mother Hen --
Lorde: No, go for it!
Tavi: I remember when people started paying attention to what I was doing, and it was like, "She should be getting knocked up like all the other kids her age!" It's like, you complain when you think teenagers are stupid, and then when they try to do something, you're all, "Oh, they're growing up too fast, they don't know what's good for them."
Lorde: It seems like a double standard to me. And there's another part of it which I find really strange, which is that so many interviewers, even ones that I consider really intelligent and good writers, will do the, like, "Oh, you're not taking your clothes off like Miley Cyrus and all these girls" thing, which to me is just the weirdest thing to say to someone. But then people will say, "She's always talking about being bored, that's petulant," which I feel like is kind of taking the piss out of teenage emotions-just, like, making light of how teenagers feel. When people react that way about things that every teenager experiences, how can you expect to make anything good?
Sir Mix-a-Lot: There was one event that really made me think that I should do a song about this, which was irritating the shit out of me. Amy and I were at a hotel on tour, when we saw one of the Spuds MacKenzie ads for Budweiser during the Super Bowl. You'd see these girls in the ad: Each one was shaped like a stop sign, with big hair [and] straight up-and-down bird legs. There's nothing wrong with that, but I was so sick of that shit. Now, Amy never said anything about all this until she realized I was so in favor of her physique. She was an actress, and she started admitting that she felt like she lost a lot of parts because of her hourglass figure. I knew for a fact that many artists felt that if they didn't use a skinny-model-type woman in their video, then mainstream America would reject the song. But I do not agree with that: If you look at Dolly Parton at her peak, a lot of white guys were like "daammn!" At the same time, when I did casting calls for videos, curvy women wouldn't show up. They thought they didn't have a chance. Unless you were in the hood, women who had curves -- and I'm not talking about women who are shaped like me, with a gut, but women who ran five miles a day, with a washboard, six-pack stomach and a nice round, beautiful, supple ass -- wore sweaters around their waist! Bottom line: Black men like curves. When they're crooning to women about how beautiful they are in an R&B song, the ladies you see in the video don't reflect what those guys like. Every time an R&B video was on, I heard women say, "I just saw him down in Oakland, and his girls wasn't like that." That made me think that this was more than a funny song, and it wrote itself.
Baby Got Back contributed to the cultural shift that changed that:
Sir Mix-a-Lot: Now, ass isn't a big deal. I go to the gym, and I'll hear a white girl saying to her trainer, "I want this to be round." They realize that it doesn't mean that you're out of shape if you have a nice ass. Anybody who's ever seen a stripper pick up a dollar bill with her ass knows you can't do that with fat.
1. Reasonable Doubt (Classic)
2. The Blueprint (Classic)
3. The Black Album (Classic)
4. Vol. 2 (Classic)
5. American Gangster (4 1/2, cohesive)
6. Magna Carta (Fuckwit, Tom Ford, Oceans, Beach, On the Run, Grail)
7. Vol. 1 (Sunshine kills this album... fuck... Streets, Where I'm from, You Must Love Me...)
8. BP3 (Sorry critics, it's good. Empire (Gave Frank a run for his money))
9. Dynasty (Intro alone...)
10. Vol. 3 (Pimp C verse alone... oh, So Ghetto)
11. BP2 (Too many songs. Fucking Guru and Hip Hop, ha)
12. Kingdom Come (First game back, don't shoot me)
In a masterfully edited video, David Ehrlich presents his 25 favorite films of 2013.
Fantastic. This video makes me want to stop what I'm doing and watch movies for a week. It's a good year for it apparently...both Tyler Cowen and Bruce Handy argue that 2013 is an exceptional year for movies. I'm still fond of 1999... (via @brillhart)
And here's the graph for general search terms. (I excluded Snapchat from the Google graphs because Google wouldn't allow 6 search terms at a time...it barely showed up in either case.) Twitter rules the rap roost, but Facebook demolishes everyone in general and news search traffic.
The Rolling Stones favorite American dish is something the band invented called Hot Dogs on the Rocks:
5 potatoes, or enough instant mashed potatoes to serve five
1 large can baked beans
Prepare instant mashed potatoes, or boil and mash the potatoes. (Use milk and butter, making regular, every-day mashed potatoes.) Cook the frankfurters according to the package directions and heat the baked beans.
On each plate, serve a mound of creamy mashed potatoes ringed by heated canned baked beans. Over all the top of this, slice up the frankfurters in good-sized chunks.
When Nirvana appeared on Top of the Pops in 1991, they were asked to only sing the lead vocal over an instrumental track. The result was perhaps the most unusual performance of Smells Like Teen Spirit ever, with the band barely playing their instruments in sync with the music and Cobain doing his best Ian Curtis/Morrisey impression.
A: I own some vinyl and occasionally buy other albums, but nothing in multiples like the White Album.
Chang has taken 100 of those records, recorded the audio, and overlaid the resulting 100 tracks into one glorious track. Here's Side 1 x 100 (Side 2 is available on vinyl only):
The albums, as it turns out, have also aged with some variety. Some played cleanly, others had scratches, noise from embedded dirt, or vinyl wear. And though the recordings are identical, variations in the pressings, and natural fluctuations in the speed of Mr. Chang's analogue turntable, meant that the 100 recordings slowly moved out of sync, in the manner of an early Steve Reich piece: the opening of "Back in the U.S.S.R." is entirely unified, but at the start of "Dear Prudence," you hear the first line echoing several times, and by "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" the track is a nearly unrecognizeable roar.
R. Kelly is some sort of random love song generating genius apparently. On a recent visit to the Rolling Stone offices, R. Ess asked R. Kelly to sing to them about dolphins, ice hockey, newspapers, and Italian heroes. The results R. Hilarious.
From Freestyle: The Art of the Rhyme, a short clip of a 17-year-old Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie Smalls, aka The Notorious B.I.G.) freestyle rapping on a street corner in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn in 1989.
For advertising, Maclachlan calls in Alistair Cain, Universal New Zealand's head of marketing, and plays an early cut of the television commercial on his computer. Ella wants to keep the date rendered in Roman numerals. It looks crazy (XXVII.IX.MMXIII). She won't be moved. After an hour, they're done.
Afterwards, Cain says that in 20 years in the industry he's never come across an artist so engaged with the minutiae of their presentation. He points up at a giant poster of Lana Del Rey. "With her, we could do whatever we liked," he says.
Ella is frequently compared to Del Rey, though it infuriates her. Both are white women making pop music soaked in the rhythm and attitude of hip-hop. But Del Rey has a much more conventional narrative -- she had an image makeover prior to her breakout Born To Die album, and co-writes her songs with some of the biggest producers and writers in the industry.
Ella's songs, meanwhile, are very much her vision, and hers alone.
Very often, he'll have this very monotonous section going and then, suddenly -- "BAP! BAP! BAP! BAP!" -- he disrupts the whole thing and we're on to something new that's absolutely incredible. That's architecture, that's structure -- this guy is seriously smart. He keeps unbalancing you. He'll pile on all this sound and then suddenly pull it away, all the way to complete silence, and then there's a scream or a beautiful melody, right there in your face. That's what I call a sucker punch.
He seems to have insinuated in a recent New York Times interview that My Beautiful Dark, Twisted Fantasy was to make up for stupid shit he'd done. And now, with this album, it's "Now that you like me, I'm going to make you unlike me." It's a dare. It's braggadoccio. Axl Rose has done that too, lots of people have. "I Am a God" -- I mean, with a song title like that, he's just begging people to attack him.
I was in Madison, Wisconsin. We were about two-thirds of the way through our first "World Tour," a title we were beating people over the head with, trying to enforce our premature "stardom" on the world. I was skating around the city, looking for lunch, when Zach called me. And I'll never forget the way that Zach explained what this deal meant in regards to me.
He said, "Basically, if you sign this deal there is a potential that you will turn into a super star. Your life will change drastically. And once that happens, there is no going back. If we don't go this direction, there is a ceiling to your career. You can continue to play the same rooms you've been playing and have a strong run as an underground rapper. But taking it to the next level will not be attainable. I see positives and negatives to both sides, and will support you either way. What do you want to do"?
I knew immediately that this a decision that would alter my life forever. I knew that getting played on the radio would alienate a core group of fans; that I'd be labeled a sell-out, maybe even a "one hit wonder" if the song got big. But despite those risks, I knew at the core what I wanted.
Macklemore seems like a pretty solid guy, like the type of person who would sing questionable karaoke versions of his own hits:
Blackers take these MIDI files and run them through software such as Synesthesia, which is kind of an educational version of Guitar Hero for the piano, and bills itself as "piano for everyone." It's kind of brilliant to imagine a novice piano player looking for some online tutorials and stumbling across, say, this video of the song Bad Apple, which reportedly includes 8.49 million separate notes.
Here's a tune with 10 million notes:
And another with 110 million notes that sounds like a random TV channel played at 5000x normal speed. I really thought dubstep was going to be the "those kids and their crazy unlistenable music" transition for me, but that's nothing compared to this. If this is what the youngs are going to be listening to in three years, count me out.
I loved every little bit of this letter that producer Steve Albini sent to Nirvana before the recording of In Utero, the band's final studio album. In it, Albini clearly and succinctly lays out his philosophy about recording music and has specific suggestions for working with Nirvana. But the last few paragraphs, about his payment, are awesome. I've reproduced the selection here in full:
#5: Dough. I explained this to Kurt but I thought I'd better reiterate it here. I do not want and will not take a royalty on any record I record. No points. Period. I think paying a royalty to a producer or engineer is ethically indefensible. The band write the songs. The band play the music. It's the band's fans who buy the records. The band is responsible for whether it's a great record or a horrible record. Royalties belong to the band.
I would like to be paid like a plumber: I do the job and you pay me what it's worth. The record company will expect me to ask for a point or a point and a half. If we assume three million sales, that works out to 400,000 dollars or so. There's no fucking way I would ever take that much money. I wouldn't be able to sleep.
I have to be comfortable with the amount of money you pay me, but it's your money, and I insist you be comfortable with it as well. Kurt suggested paying me a chunk which I would consider full payment, and then if you really thought I deserved more, paying me another chunk after you'd had a chance to live with the album for a while. That would be fine, but probably more organizational trouble than it's worth.
Whatever. I trust you guys to be fair to me and I know you must be familiar with what a regular industry goon would want. I will let you make the final decision about what I'm going to be paid. How much you choose to pay me will not effect my enthusiasm for the record.
Some people in my position would expect an increase in business after being associated with your band. I, however, already have more work that I can handle, and frankly, the kind of people such superficialities will attract are not people I want to work with. Please don't consider that an issue.
The Other F Word is a 2011 documentary about how punk rockers and other countercultural figures made the transition from anti-authoritarianism to parenthood. Features members from Devo, NOFX, Black Flag, Rancid, and also pro skater Tony Hawk. Here's the trailer:
To be sure, watching foul-mouthed, colorfully inked musicians attempt to fit themselves into Ward Cleaver's smoking jacket provides for some consistently hilarious situational comedy, but the film's deeper delving into a whole generation of artists clumsily making amends for their own absentee parents could strike a resonant note with anyone (punk or not) who's stumbled headfirst into family life.
A couple of weeks ago, a slowed-down version of Dolly Parton's classic ballad "Jolene" went viral. A lot of people who heard it loved it, a few people didn't, but everyone seemed to agree that it was like listening to either an entirely new song or the same song again for the first time.
One of the things that's eerie about this is that if you listen closely, everything is just a little bit out of tune. There's conflicting information about exactly how much the track has been slowed. Some people have said that it's simulating a 45 RPM record played at 33 1/3, which is certainly the most common way people who lived with record players heard popular songs at slower speeds. But that would actually be quite a bit slower and lower than this.
The other figure I've seen (forgive me for not citing everything, I'm typing as fast as I can) is "Jolene" has been slowed by 17 percent, which sounds about right and would explain why all the notes seem just a little bit sharp. Here's the formula for slowing or speeding up a recording to shift the pitch but generally stay in tune:
So -- as one does when procrastinating from remunerative work -- I made an Excel spreadsheet.
If you want to drop two semitones, you shift the speed down by 12.2462 percent; drop three, you shift by 18.9207 percent, which significantly changes the track. To imitate a 45 RPM record played at 33 1/3, that's about 25.926, but very few records still sound like something a person actually made at this speed. All of these slowdowns are interesting, even the ones that don't work.
You can do all of them in the free/open-source audio processing app Audacity; it's very fast and very easy. (If you want to get freaky, you can also use Audacity to change pitch without changing tempo, or vice versa, or to start out slow and go fast, and all manner of lesser and greater perversity.)
But after messing with Audacity for longer than was strictly necessary, I can tell you that some songs and transformations work out better than others, and they tend to be those that share a lot of the same characteristics as Jolene:
A mix of quick and slow instrumentation, so there's a lot of information density. It almost has to be fractal; the more you slow it down, the more minute structures you find. The original song itself can actually be slow or fast; many fast songs really don't work, and quite a few slow ones do.
High-pitched, typically (but not always) female vocals, so the song sounds like a person singing and not a voice-distorted growling dude from To Catch A Predator.
The song needs to be fairly popular, so you can listen to the slow version and keep the regular-speed version in mind. This kind of continual allusion just makes it a richer experience.
And so, here are some of the results:
I described this Prince track as sounding like the slowest, sultriest, funkiest Sylvester song you've ever heard.
Mazzy Star surprised me. I always thought Hope Sandoval's vocals were gorgeous but a little warbly, which gave them character, but that's almost entirely a production effect. When you slow it down, you can really hear how clean and sustained her notes are.
My Bloody Valentine is the best example of that fractal quality. You can slow it down almost indefinitely and it still sounds like My Bloody Valentine. At this rate, though, it really just turns Bilinda Butcher's vocals into Kevin Shields'.
There's more at my Soundcloud page, including The Breeders' "Cannonball," "House of Jealous Lovers," Hot Chip's "Over and Over," Grizzly Bear's "Two Weeks" (which I actually sped up), and more. (Finally, if slowing a track down and posting it online somehow breaks copyright, let me know and I'll take them down.)
On Soundcloud, TheMusicalOdyssey put together an hour-long mix of old blues, folk, and jazz tunes that are full of references to sex, drugs, and crime. The track listing is available on the SC page.
Lucille Bogan & Walter Roland's rendition of Shave Em Dry from 1935 is as nasty as anything 2 Live Crew put out. The lyrics are at the bottom of this page; this is the only verse printable in a family publication:
I will turn back my mattress and let you oil my springs,
I want you to grind me daddy till the bells do ring,
Ooh daddy, want you to shave 'em dry.,
Oh pray God daddy, shave 'em baby, won't you try?
In July, Jay Z rapped Picasso Baby at Pace Gallery in NYC for six hours. The fruits of that labor have been condensed by director Mark Romanek into a 10-minute music video that premiered on HBO last night. Here's the film:
The idea of performance art came to mind. I was aware of Marina Abramovic's Artist is Present, even though I was in London shooting 'Never Let Me Go' and didn't get to go. And the idea that Jay-Z regularly performs to 60,000 people at a time, I thought, 'What about performing at one person at a time?' He absolutely loved it. He interrupted me and said, 'Hold on! I've got chills. That idea is perfect.' He thinks, like me, that the music video has had its era. I also wanted to make sure we had Marina's blessing. So she attended the event and took part in the event. She couldn't have been more happy or enthusiastic about us using her concept and pushing it forward.
Also, somehow, I have never heard Jay Z talk before. That's his voice?
Using pulse monitors attached to the singers' ears, the researchers measured the changes in the choir members' heart rates as they navigated the intricate harmonies of a Swedish hymn. When the choir began to sing, their heart rates slowed down.
"When you sing the phrases, it is a form of guided breathing," says musicologist Bjorn Vickhoff of the Sahlgrenska Academy who led the project. "You exhale on the phrases and breathe in between the phrases. When you exhale, the heart slows down."
But what really struck him was that it took almost no time at all for the singers' heart rates to become synchronized. The readout from the pulse monitors starts as a jumble of jagged lines, but quickly becomes a series of uniform peaks. The heart rates fall into a shared rhythm guided by the song's tempo.
This is the best thing in the world right now. An adorable 9-year-old kid who plays the drums and his equally adorable 6-year-old sister who sings take the stage on the show America's Got Talent to perform. The judges coo at their kidness and cuteness. And then:
Give it until 1:40 at least...I promise it pays off. I haven't laughed this hard in weeks. (via ★interesting)
From the beginning, all I've ever cared about is things being great. I never cared about when they were done. Because I also feel like I want the music to last forever. And once you release it, you can't go back and fix it, so you really have to get it right. And that takes time.
A chat with Rick Rubin. You may not know the name, but you definitely know the music (and you'll probably never forget the beard).
Kanye West has never advocated raping anyone. His persistent fixation on conquering white women -- the lure of white women, injuring white men via their women, etc. -- is troublingly retrograde for a multimillionaire who some consider to be the harbinger of a neo-Black Power movement. It ultimately gives lie to the fact that Kanye sees himself as "a god," as he claims on Yeezus, or, as he told Jon Caramanica in that winding New York Times interview, that he is "so credible and so influential and so relevant." I've yet to see a black man who is truly confident in his human worth and his power spend time crowing about ejaculating onto white chicks. What's more, what does it yield West in the end? As Kiese Laymon asked the other day: "Do you think the white men who run these corporations you're critiquing really give a fuck about you dissing, fucking, fisting, choking white women?"
I listened to Yeezus a handful of times when it first came out (and loved it, especially the production and beats) but had to stop because of just this issue. There is undoubtably something critical to be said about race and sex in America, but West's hamfisted lyrics definitely aren't it.
Jon Caramanica talks with Kanye West about his work, his past, his impending child, and all sorts of other things in the NY Times. I started pulling interesting quotes but stopped when I realized that I was copy/pasting like 96% of the article. So, you only get two:
I sat down with a clothing guy that I won't mention, but hopefully if he reads this article, he knows it's him and knows that out of respect, I didn't mention his name: this guy, he questioned me before I left his office:, "If you've done this, this, and this, why haven't you gone further in fashion?" And I say, "I'm learning." But ultimately, this guy that was talking to me doesn't make Christmas presents, meaning that nobody was asking for his [stuff] as a Christmas present. If you don't make Christmas presents, meaning making something that's so emotionally connected to people, don't talk to me.
And I don't want to ruin the amazing last few paragraphs, but I just had to include this:
I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. By a long jump. I honestly feel that because Steve has passed, you know, it's like when Biggie passed and Jay-Z was allowed to become Jay-Z.
The song "Space Oddity" is under copyright protection in most countries, and the rights to it belong to Mr Bowie. But compulsory-licensing rights in many nations mean that any composition that has been released to the public (free or commercially) as an audio recording may be recorded again and sold by others for a statutorily defined fee, although it must be substantively the same music and lyrics as the original. But with the ISS circling the globe, which jurisdiction was Commander Hadfield in when he recorded the song and video? Moreover, compulsory-licensing rights for covers of existing songs do not include permission for broadcast or video distribution. Commander Hadfield's song was loaded onto YouTube, which delivers video on demand to users in many countries around the world. The first time the video was streamed in each country constituted publication in that country, and with it the potential for copyright infringement under local laws. Commander Hadfield could have made matters even more complicated by broadcasting live as he sang to an assembled audience of fellow astronauts for an onboard public performance while floating from segment to segment of the ISS.
We live in a world where sending a guitar into space is trivial while ironing out rights agreements is the tough part. (via waxy)
Daft Punk's fourth studio album, "Random Access Memories," is an attempt to make the kind of disco record that they sampled so heavily for "Discovery." As such, it serves as a tribute to those who came before them and as a direct rebuke to much of what they've spawned. Only intermittently electronic in nature, and depending largely on live musicians, it is extremely ambitious, and as variable in quality as any popular album you will hear this year. Noodly jazz fusion instrumentals? Absolutely. Soggy poetry and kid choirs? Yes, please. Cliches that a B-list teen-pop writer would discard? Bring it on. The duo has become so good at making records that I replay parts of "Random Access Memories" repeatedly while simultaneously thinking it is some of the worst music I've ever heard. Daft Punk engages the sound and the surface of music so lovingly that all seventy-five loony minutes of "Random Access Memories" feel fantastic, even when you are hearing music you might never seek out. This record raises a radical question: Does good music need to be good?
PepsiCo is dropping Lil Wayne as a Mountain Dew spokesman because of "vulgar lyrics" referring to Emmett Till after the Till family put pressure on the beverage giant. What lyrics? Because of its ridiculous policy against including bad words in such an august publication, the NY Times doesn't even say what the lyrics are! Which makes the entire article worthless from a journalistic perspective. The lyrics are the entire story...without them, it's just a bunch of press release bullshit. FYI, because we are all adults here (and your kids already know the lyrics), here are the lyrics in question courtesy of Rap Genius:
Pop a lot of pain pills
Bout to put rims on my skateboard wheels
Beat that pussy up like Emmett Till
Two cell phones ringin' at the same time
That's your ho, callin' from two different phones
Tell that bitch "leave me the fuck alone!"
See, you fuck her wrong, and I fuck her long
I got a love-hate relationship with Molly
I'd rather pop an ollie, and my dick is a trolly
Boy, I'll bury you like Halle
How can people even discuss the artistic merit and/or offensiveness of the lyrics if you can't print them? The Times should either simply publish whatever it is they are talking about or not run the story at all. (via @bdeskin, who has been giving the Times shit about their profanity policy on Twitter)
What the heck is going on? New recent albums after long hiatuses from Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk, and Boards of Canada and now Neutral Milk Hotel is reuniting for a tour? Jesus H Musical Christmas.
Rumors surfaced last year of a new Boards of Canada record. The other day, someone walked into a record shop and bought a Boards of Canada record that contained a single track of a few seconds of music and someone reciting a six-digit number:
So maybe we're getting a new BoC album soon? Please? (via @crazymonk)
This is supposedly a leaked version of the song Get Lucky from Daft Punk's forthcoming album, but from what I can tell, this is just an extended version of the song cobbled together from this minute-long commercial that ran during SNL this weekend. Not that that's a bad thing...I've had it on repeat for the last 30 minutes.
I don't read music so it's difficult for me to say how useful this is, but the folks behind Hummingbird claim their new system of music notation is "easier to learn, faster to read, and simpler for even the trickiest music".
The first thing you'll notice about Vdio is that it's designed to solve the "what to watch" problem. It's not just that we've got amazing content, but that the experience is now geared to get you from searching to watching faster. We're introducing the notion of Sets -- playlists for TV shows and movies -- so anyone can make and share lists of their favorites, making it easier than ever to discover new stuff. Or, you can just check out what your friends are watching in the moment and jump in. Beyond that, Vdio has the beautiful design and social features that people love about Rdio, with plenty more to come.
I haven't played with it too much, but it looks like it's not an all-you-can-eat service like Rdio...you buy/rent movies and TV shows just like iTunes, Amazon, etc.
 And that's actually a huge understatement. I ignored streaming music services like Rdio and Spotify when they came out, opting for the familiarity of iTunes, but Rdio has completely reignited my love of music over the past two months. Should write a whole post about this at some point. ↩
I got taken too the one time I saw Elvis, but in a totally different way. It was the autumn of 1971, and two tickets to an Elvis show turned up at the offices of Creem magazine, where I was then employed. It was decided that those staff members who had never had the privilege of witnessing Elvis should get the tickets, which was how me and art director Charlie Auringer ended up in nearly the front row of the biggest arena in Detroit. Earlier Charlie had said, "Do you realize how much we could get if we sold these fucking things?" I didn't, but how precious they were became totally clear the instant Elvis sauntered onto the stage. He was the only male performer I have ever seen to whom I responded sexually; it wasn't real arousal, rather an erection of the heart, when I looked at him I went mad with desire and envy and worship and self-projection. I mean, Mick Jagger, whom I saw as far back as 1964 and twice in '65, never even came close.
This is a nice article about how memes are often made or promoted deliberately by financial interests and not because of a spontaneous popular uprising, but mostly I wanted to highlight this statement:
Google's YouTube, not Apple's iTunes, is now the dominant force in music.
I've been convinced for awhile now that YouTube and not Android or Google+ will be their main source of revenue if/when Google's search business wanes. (via @claytoncubitt)
Technically this photo was taken several years (probably in 1986 or 1987) before Radiohead officially came to be, but it features four out of the five members, back when the group was called On a Friday.
From left to right, Thom Yorke, Phil Selway, Ed O'Brien, and Colin Greenwood. This occasion marked one of the last times that Yorke smiled for a photo. (via buzzfeed)
Late in his life, just after the invention of the metronome and after completely losing his hearing, Beethoven went back and adjusted the tempos of his symphonies to much faster than you might expect. Radiolab investigates.
The entire soundtrack for Shane Carruth's Upstream Color is available for streaming on SoundCloud.
From what I can gather, Carruth did the soundtrack himself. So for those keeping track at home, Carruth wrote, directed, starred in, did the soundtrack for, produced, edited, did the cinematography for, and operated a camera for Upstream Color. Oh, and he's self-distributing the film through his own production company. No wonder I like this guy.
The film opens in US theaters beginning in mid-April and will be available for sale in early May: pre-order at Amazon or on iTunes. (via @gotrlelo)
Edith, Hellrider, and Dadmonster pose for a photograph. In Botswana, heavy metal music has landed. Metal groups are now performing in nightclubs, concerts, festivals. The ranks of their fans have expanded dramatically. These fans wear black leather pants and jackets, studded belts, boots and cowboy hats. On their t-shirts stand out skulls, obscenities, historical covers of hard-rock groups popular in the seventies and eighties, such as Iron Maiden, Metallica, and AC/DC. They have created their own style, inspired by classic metal symbolism, but also borrowing heavily from the iconography of western films and the traditional rural world of Botswana. Their nicknames, Gunsmoke, Rockfather, Carrott Warmachine, Hellrider, Hardcore, Dignified Queen, may appear subversive and disturbing as their clothing, but they are peaceful and gentle. "We like to get dressed,, drink meet friends and feel free , this music is so powerful . We are lucky to live in a country tolerant and open" argues one of the leaders. A precious rarity for Africa.
Botswanian heavy metal fans and other great selections from the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards
Because of "the evolving experience in the stores" (aka live music is too expensive), after 27 years of playing the piano at Nordstrom in the Tacoma Mall, Juan Perez was let go in January.
Perez remembers his audition at Nordstrom, one morning in January 1986.
"There were five of us. Four beautiful young ladies, and me. They were carrying music books."
They were dressed, he said, as if they had shopped at Nordstrom. He was not. They were carrying sheet music. Perez did not, and does not, read notes. He plays by ear.
"I was the first one to play," he said. "I wasn't expecting they would hire me, and I was dressed in a regular shirt. I started playing and playing as the store opened up. I didn't even have an application."
After playing, he drove home.
"My wife said, 'They called. They want you to start tomorrow.' I almost cried."
Perez arrived in the US with $300 to his name and through hard work at the piano, has put seven of his children through college, with two more currently in college and one more attending private high school. (via brooks review)
Well, this is amazing (in the way that things requiring a ton of organization, commitment, and time are amazing, not in the way life-saving vaccines are amazing). Artist etoilec1 drew the Gangnam Style video, the entire thing, and presented it as a flipbook. Here's his original Youtube where he says he had to remove the music because of copyright, so the embed below will likely not last long. Visit etoilec1's page for several Dragon Ball Z flipbooks.
In June 1985, 17-year-old LL Cool J and his DJ Cut Creator played a gymnasium at Colby College in Waterville, Maine with maybe 120 people in attendance. At this point, his debut album hadn't even come out yet and rapping/scratching was not widely known, so LL and CC give the unenthusiastic audience a little demonstration of what it's all about.
This is amazing. The footage was digitized from VHS by the show's organizer's son and he adds more information about it in the comments:
LL was paid $500 for the show. Since he was the only rap act, he was worried it would a be short performance, so my dad suggested he fill it in with the scratching and beat boxing.
LL was signed to Def Jam. My dad tried to get RUN DMC, but could not afford them, so Def Jam told him he should bring up LL Cool J.
After years of inactivity, the group's website now features a graphic that reads, "The Postal Service 2013." As part of the reunion, Sub Pop is prepping a deluxe edition of "Give Up" next month to commemorate the album's 10-year anniversary, Billboard has learned. Since being released on Feb. 19, 2003, the set became Sub Pop's second highest-selling album, next to Nirvana's "Bleach."
REWORK_ is an album of Philip Glass's music remixed by the likes of Beck, Amon Tobin, and Nosaj Thing. There is also an interactive iOS app that lets you play around and remix your own Glass compositions.
REWORK_ features eleven "music visualizers" that take the remixed tracks and create interactive visuals that range from futuristic three-dimensional landscapes to shattered multicolored crystals, and vibrating sound waves. People can lean back and enjoy REWORK_ end to end, or they can touch and interact with the visualizers to create their own visual remixes.
In addition to the visualizers, the app includes the "Glass Machine" which lets people create music inspired by Philip Glass' early work by simply sliding two discs around side-by-side, almost like turntables. People can select different instruments - from synthesizer to piano, and generate polyrhythmic counterpoints between the two melodies.
The app was made by Scott Snibbe's studio...I fondly recall his Java applets. (BTW, "fondly recall his Java applets" is neither a euphemism nor something that anyone will understand 5-10 years from now.)
Earlier in the year, Rich Jones at Gun.io filed a Freedom of Information request for Ol' Dirty Bastard's FBI file. It appears Wu-Tang may not actually be for the children. Here are the parts Jones noted.
"The WTC is heavily involved in the sale of drugs, illegal guns, weapons possession, murder, carjacking and other types of violent crime." [p5]
Connections to the murder of Robert "Pooh" Johnson and Jerome "Boo Boo" Estrella. [p6]
Connection to murder of Ishamael "Hoody" Kourma. [p13]
A shoot-out with the NYPD. [p15]
Arrest for felony possession of body armour. [p16]
Connections to the Bloods Gang. [p17]
Found in possession of large bags full of paper currency. [p40]
Details of his being robbed and shot while staying in the Kingston projects. [p45]
Climbing to Number Two on the singles chart in early 1993, "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang" made Dr. Dre the undisputed flag bearer of West Coast rap, while also ushering that genre into the pop mainstream. The song's secret weapon was a relatively unknown pup named Snoop Doggy Dogg, whose verses are packed with effortless quotables. The song also introduced Dre's masterful "G-Funk" style of production, which updated George Clinton's legacy with slow, rubbery funk and layered synth hooks. "We made records during the crack era, where everything was hyped up, sped up and zoned out," Chuck D explained. "Dre came with ' "G" Thang' and slowed the whole genre down. He took hip-hop from the crack era to the weed era."
The Rolling Stones have been touring for almost 50 years, starting with a British tour in 1963, and this tool allows you to visualize their travels. It's really cool. The craziest part to me is how dramatically the length of their tours has increased since they started out. Their first tour in 1963 (actually one of their longer tours early in their career) was about 28 shows over the course of a month. Their last tour in 2005 had about a gabillion shows over two years and grossed $528 million.
On a personal note, I read "The Rolling Stones" several times on this page and still spent parts of two days looking at it and thinking it was The Beatles tour visualization. Twice. I read "The Rolling Stones," thought it was The Beatles, corrected myself, and then thought it was The Beatles again. (via @pbump)
What followed was something like the movie scene where every non-essential part on the plane is removed in order to make it light enough to take off from the short, improvised runway. First to go were any tunes longer than 30 seconds. Then, after the 2009 season in which Kelly became Oregon's head coach, Wiltshire ditched the flipbook on which the songs were written in favor of hand signals. "By the time I flipped a page," he says, "it was already too late." Knowing he had to serve two masters -- playing faster while still engaging the audience -- Wiltshire hit upon a new idea: theme music. Now whenever one of Oregon's star players gets a first down, the band plays the first five chords of a recognizable song: the "Hawaii Five-O" theme for quarterback Marcus Mariota (because he's originally from Hawaii); "Mambo No. 5" for De'Anthony Thomas (because his nickname is "the Black Mamba"); and the "Superman" theme for Kenjon Barner (because he's really good).
The "cat cow" requires the dancer to get on hands and knees, thrust their hips and swing their head from side to side. It is but one of a handful of ridiculous moves in a dance inspired by playing cowboy and humping things, but throughout the day we will hear from almost everyone we talk to that in spite of how ridiculous it is, it has been hellish to recreate it in the game. A lot of magic has been thrown at solving the problem of the cat cow.
The Infinite Jukebox analyzes the self-similarity of music to create neverending and everchanging versions of songs.
The app works by sending your uploaded track over to The Echo Nest, where it is decomposed into individual beats. Each beat is then analyzed and matched to other similar sounding beats in the song. This information is used to create a detailed song graph of paths though similar sounding beats. As the song is played, when the next beat has similar sounding beats there's a chance that we will branch to a completely different part of the song. Since the branching is to a very similar sounding beat in the song, you (in theory) won't notice the jump. This process of branching to similar sounding beats can continue forever, giving you an infinitely long version of the song.
Love this idea. How could I not with disclaimers like this?
you can get stuck in a strange attractor at the end of Karma Police for instance
Some genius paired 50 Cent's In Da Club with a video put out by the Jehovah's Witnesses to encourage deaf people not to masturbate. This is probably inappropriate or deafist or whatever, but it also provided me with a much-needed tears-rolling-down face laugh the other day.
Two weeks ago, I told my father I'd been assigned to report Frank Sinatra, Jr.'s concert, told him I had a second press pass for a photographer. My father heard me loud and clear. He went out and bought a telescopic Nikon. It is now July 12, 2012, a Thursday. An hour ago, I showed him how to hold the camera like a pro, by cradling the lens in his left hand. We were in the parking garage waiting for an elevator. The long window looked out on the complex where a water tower sprouted behind the honey-colored stucco. Behind it was a backdrop of perfect pool blue sky. "Try to shoot that," I said, pointing. He tried. But the auto-setting didn't like the light conditions. The shot wouldn't take. "Well," my father mumbled; his eyes danced over the machine. "How do you do it manually?" It was at that point that dread began to gnaw on his daughter.
[Marlo] Thomas' fruitless Martindale's shopping trip led her to the idea that her next project ought to be a collection of stories for children that avoided sexual stereotypes and promoted gender equality. She could solicit the stories and record herself reading them. It would be just like the records she and her sister had listened to in their rooms as little girls, but liberated, smarter, modern. She just had to find the stories.
The sketches were recorded at the grand MediaSound studio on West 57th Street over the course of a few days. Billy De Wolfe, Thomas's co-star on That Girl, lent his distinctive voice to several roles on the record, including the dandyish principal who plays the flute for Dudley Pippin. (Dudley Pippin himself was voiced by "Bobby Morse," better known now as cranky senior partner Bertram Cooper on Mad Men.) Some of the sessions were quite impromptu: Dick Cavett remembers getting a call from Thomas in the morning-"I had a show to tape that day, and I thought, well, God, I can't really do it, but I like her, and she does good stuff, and also I was very familiar with her face because on my daytime show the promo for That Girl ran at least 10 times during each show"-and walking the few blocks from his office to MediaSound to record that afternoon.
Mel Brooks' session was more eventful. Thomas had written to him that the album "would benefit the Ms. Foundation," and when he came in the morning of his recording, he told her that he thought the material Reiner and Stone had written was funny but that he didn't know what it had to do with multiple sclerosis. Once set straight about the MS in question, Brooks joined Thomas in the recording booth, where they would both play babies for the album's first sketch, "Boy Meets Girl."
"When I directed," Alda recalls, "I would be meticulous and relentless. I would do a lot of takes. But Mel is not a guy who's used to doing a lot of takes. He's not used to taking direction from anybody-you know, he gives direction." Alda didn't love the first few takes of "Boy Meets Girl"; in the end it took, Alda remembers, 10 or 15 tries, with Brooks improvising madly all along the way. Rodgers was there that day to record "Ladies First," and she still remembers standing in the control room laughing harder with each take. "Mel was generous," Alda allows, "and he let me egg him on."
And part three addresses the impact the album has had:
Criticism came from the other direction, too. Thomas held on to a review from the feminist newspaper Off Our Backs, which chided Free To Be for its focus on the nuclear family and hetero relationships. "The message is so upbeat and catchy and some of the messages so appealing," Fran Pollner wrote, "that the adult feminist listener may miss the first time around the basic idea of this one-hour album: that little boys and little girls should get together at a young age to ensure a solid and satisfying future marriage and family life."
"I think it was very hard in the 1970s to ever make any comment that was viewed as radical enough," laughs Laura Lovett, co-editor with Rotskoff of When We Were Free To Be. "People were holding one another to really hard and clear goals."
But of course part of the point of Free To Be was making radical feminist beliefs palatable to a broad audience that might otherwise reject them. "It was second-wave feminism that went mainstream," Rotskoff says. "It was packed with telegenic celebrities. It was performed by famous people. And the messages were both revolutionary and accessible enough for a mainstream audience."
We listen to a lot of Free to Be on long car trips. No idea whether any of it is getting through, but it's nice to have something to reference when we're talking about, for example, the maddening no-boys-allowed princess parties thrown by Ollie's school classmates. [hair tearing-out noise]
The course will include lectures on albums such as Sly & The Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On, Aretha Franklin's Lady Soul, Led Zeppelin's IV, Prince's Dirty Mind, Michael Jackson's Off the Wall, and the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique.
They'll also cover what constitutes a "classic" or "seminal" album, looking at the music, lyrics, production, and business behind great albums.
Billboard reports that the course was inspired by an NPR blog post over the summer where an intern reviewed Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back, an album he'd never heard before. ?uestlove responded to the dismissive review in the comments, prompting NYU's Jason King to invite ?uestlove and Weinger to teach the course.
Korean pop music or K-pop has been steadily gaining popularity outside of Korea the last several years, and most of the artists share the trait of having been developed in a music factory. John Seabrook in the New Yorker looks at what the head of the first of these factories calls "cultural technology." There's a lot of fascinating stuff in this article.
In effect, Lee combined his ambitions as a music impresario with his training as an engineer to create the blueprint for what became the K-pop idol assembly line. His stars would be made, not born, according to a sophisticated system of artistic development that would make the star factory that Berry Gordy created at Motown look like a mom-and-pop operation. Lee called his system "cultural technology." In a 2011 address at Stanford Business School, he explained, "I coined this term about fourteen years ago, when S.M. decided to launch its artists and cultural content throughout Asia. The age of information technology had dominated most of the nineties, and I predicted that the age of cultural technology would come next." He went on, "S.M. Entertainment and I see culture as a type of technology. But cultural technology is much more exquisite and complex than information technology."
Lee and his colleagues produced a manual of cultural technology--it's known around S.M. as C.T.--that catalogued the steps necessary to popularize K-pop artists in different Asian countries. The manual, which all S.M. employees are instructed to learn, explains when to bring in foreign composers, producers, and choreographers; what chord progressions to use in what country; the precise color of eyeshadow a performer should wear in a particular country; the exact hand gestures he or she should make; and the camera angles to be used in the videos (a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree group shot to open the video, followed by a montage of individual closeups).
Peter Dean is a big Beatles fan. And so he set out to reproduce exactly -- from photographic evidence only -- an old circus poster owned by John Lennon. In true Sgt. Pepper's fashion, he had a little help from his friends.
This is a reproduction of the poster that inspired John Lennon to write the song Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!, which appeared on The Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It is printed in a limited edition of 1,967.
Lennon bought the poster in an antiques shop and hung it in his music room. While writing for Sgt. Pepper one day, he drew inspiration from the quirky, old-fashioned language and set the words to music.
Brooklyn's got a winning team (maybe)
Trouble in the Suez
U2 (albeit a different one)
Terror on the airline
Ayatollah's in Iran
Jonny Greenwood's soundtrack for P.T. Anderson's new film, The Master, came out yesterday. It's available on MP3 from Amazon ($11) and directly from Nonesuch in MP3 and other formats ($12+). Greenwood previously did the soundtrack for Anderson's There Will Be Blood.
From Harlem and upper Manhattan to Brooklyn, Queens and the Atlantic Ocean - New York city's A Line subway route covers over 30 miles, takes two hours to ride from end to end, and is the inspiration for one of jazz's best known tunes.
Here -- with archive images and vibrant present-day photographs from Melanie Burford -- New Yorker columnist Adam Gopnik takes a ride on one of today's A trains, and explores the communities living along the route.
I liked this Zadie Smith profile of Jay-Z, and not just for The Wire reference. Smith's got a nice way with words and handles Jay-Z's way with words nicely.
In "Decoded," Jay-Z writes that "rap is built to handle contradictions," and Hova, as he is nicknamed, is as contradictory as they come. Partly because he's a generalist. Biggie had better boasts, Tupac dropped more knowledge, Eminem is -- as "Renegade" demonstrated -- more formally dexterous. But Hova's the all-rounder. His albums are showrooms of hip-hop, displaying the various possibilities of the form. The persona is cool, calm, almost frustratingly self-controlled: "Yeah, 50 Cent told me that one time. He said: 'You got me looking like Barksdale' " -- the hot-blooded drug kingpin from HBO's "The Wire" -- "and you get to be Stringer Bell!" -- Barksdale's levelheaded partner. The rapper Memphis Bleek, who has known Jay-Z since Bleek himself was 14, confirms this impression: "He had a sense of calm way before music. This was Jay's plan from day one: to take over. I guess that's why he smiles and is so calm, 'cause he did exactly what he planned in the '90s." And now, by virtue of being 42 and not dead, he can claim his own unique selling proposition: he's an artist as old as his art form. The two have grown up together.
My favorite stuff to work on is older watches because of how they are made. These watches were way overbuilt so that they would never come back for repair. Just look at the mainplates... They were built at a time before computers were checking everything. If you've been working on modern stuff all day, there's nothing like getting a vintage watch to work on, and when you open it up, you say "Ahhhh, look at that, this rocks!" Like an old muscle car, it's so basic, so perfect, so overbuilt. It just rocks.
Over at The Verge wub wub wub skztch wubwubwub Joe Flatley Flatley wub wub wub pzzzzt wub WUBB wub Flatley wub wub wub shares the history wub wub wub wub wub wub fwizzort WUBWUBWUB of dubstep here comes the drop
For our purposes, we can begin the story of dubstep at the turn of the 21st century, and with UK garage and two-step; weird, hybrid music that features elements of house music (popcorn snares, glittering high-hats) and a lyrical style that is almost a parody of American hip-hop glamor and excess. "Champagne, Versace and Moschino," as Zed Bias once put it.
Recently I talked to Damian "Dieselboy" Higgins, the Brooklyn-based drum and bass DJ, producer, and head of the record label Human (and its dubstep and electro imprint Subhuman). Higgins has been on the front lines as long as America has had a rave scene. "Drum and bass kept spawning these micro-cultures, or micro-genres," he explained. "[There was] two-step, and then grime, and dubstep was the next one. For me, I felt like it came from drum and bass. There are a lot of drum and bass guys who jumped ship and went to it."
Drum and bass is one of those primarily English forms of dance music that, even today, still sounds alien - the fast tempos (generally well over 150 beats per minute), the intricate syncopation, and the full-on synthetic sound has never been fully accepted by mainstream American ears. Two-step garage took house music and added the foreignness of drum and bass. Or, perhaps conversely, it took drum and bass and added enough elements from house music as to not alienate the ladies in the clubs. It was a form of dance music that was indigenous to London, and for a moment in the late 1990s it was arguably the underground sound of the UK.
The crazy (and possibly high) folks at Backyard Brains hooked an iPod up to a squid in such a way that when the music played, it was converted into electrical impulses that triggered color changes on the squid's skin, thereby creating the world's first cephalo-iPod. Here's a video of the squid's skin pulsing along to Insane in the Membrane by Cypress Hill:
During experiments on the giant axons of the Longfin Inshore Squid (loligo pealei) at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA; we were fascinated by the fast color-changing nature of the squid's skin. Squids (like many other cephalopods) can quickly control pigmented cells called chromatophores to reflect light. The Longfin Inshore has 3 different chromatophore colors: Brown, Red, and Yellow. Each chromatophore has tiny muscles along the circumference of the cell that can contract to reveal the pigment underneath.