Top 25 album covers of 2013 Dec 06 2013
From Pitchfork, a list of the best album covers from 2013. My favorite is this one from Tyler, The Creator, which looks more or less like the opposite of a rap album.
From Pitchfork, a list of the best album covers from 2013. My favorite is this one from Tyler, The Creator, which looks more or less like the opposite of a rap album.
In celebration of his 44th birthday, Jay Z ranked his solo albums:
Here's the annotated list:
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)
From a 1968 film shot by director Jean-Luc Godard, here's the Rolling Stones in the recording studio, working on refining Sympathy for the Devil.
From Rap Genius, a chart showing mentions in rap songs of popular social sites and apps like Twitter and Instagram:
Compare with the graph for the same terms from Google News:
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.
Emily from Dinner is Served made some Hot Dogs on the Rocks; this is what the finished product looks like:
The recipe is from a 1967 "scene-makers cook book" called Singers & Swingers in the Kitchen (at Amazon). In addition to the Stones' contribution, the book contained recipes like Paul Anka's Party Spaghetti, Crepes Suzette by Liza Minelli, Leonard Nimoy's Cold Soup Nimoy, and Barbra Streisand's Instant Coffee Ice Cream. I dunno...I think I'd take burgers from Sinatra, Dean Martin, or even Hemingway over any of this celebrity fare. (via if charlie parker was a gunslinger)
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.
I have previously reported on Rutherford Chang and his large collection of first-pressings of The Beatles' White Album.
Q: Are you a vinyl collector?
A: Yes, I collect White Albums.
Q: Do you collect anything other than that?
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.
James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) remixed David Bowie's Love is Lost in the style of minimal music composer Steve Reich. Here's the video for it by Barnaby Roper:
The video is NSFW, although most of the NS-ness is of the watching scrambled Cinemax on your uncle's cable in 1985 variety (aka datamoshing).
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.
It's all there...the talent, the confidence, the skills. Compare with a 17-year-old LL Cool J rapping in a Maine gymnasium in 1985. (via ★interesting)
Update: Biggie was rapping on Bedford Ave between Quincy St and Lexington Ave in Bed-Stuy. Check it out on Google Maps. (thx, debbie)
This is fun: a selection of pop songs separated into their component tracks (vocals, bass, drums, etc.). You can turn parts on and off as the songs play. Featured artists include The Beatles, Spice Girls, Radiohead, and Amy Winehouse.
The text/interface is in French...just click the dark grey link labelled "> Chanson" for the song listing. (via @ajsheets)
New Zealand journalist Duncan Greive caught onto Lorde early and has written the self-styled "definitive inside account of Ella Yelich-O'Conner's rise to the top".
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.
This summer, Lou Reed reviewed Kanye West's Yeezus, praising the albums contradictions.
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.
Ben Haggerty, better known as Macklemore, whose independently produced album The Heist went Platinum last year, reflects on the 12 months since the album's release and his decision to go big in lieu of going home.
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:
Black MIDI music composers make "seemingly impossible" music consisting of millions of notes.
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.
The boys of CDZA take us through a history of the guitar solo in pop music, from Johnny B. Goode to John Mayer.
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.
Here's a medley of isolated vocals from the Beatles' Abbey Road:
Many more isolated vocal tracks are available on this subreddit. Here are the instructions for making your own isolated vocal tracks with Audacity, the same open source audio processing app that Tim used to make his slow jams. (thx, tim)
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:
(2 ^ (semitones change/12) - 1) *100 = Percent Change
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:
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.)
Update 2: Here's Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T." slowed from 127 BPM to 110 BPM, leaving the pitch as-is.
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?
(via hero squad)
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?
A study by researchers in Sweden indicates that the heartbeats of singers in a choir quickly synchronize.
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.
Here's a watercolor drawing by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart of his ear compared to an ordinary ear1:
 The note accompanying the drawing at Harvard's Houghton Library reads:
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 1756-1791. Mein Ohr [und] ein gewöhnliches Ohr [My ear and an ordinary ear] : drawing, [n.p., n.d.] Water-color drawing; [n.p, n.d] 1 drawing : watercolor on paper
The "mein" is crossed out and "Mozart" is written in its place in another hand. With this is Fr. Jelinck's A.D.s., Salzburg, 1879 Sept. 19, certifying that this is by Mozart.
I still can't get enough of their latest Mixtape and here comes another one. The Hood Internet has done a 54-minute mix for Frank & Oak. You can listen to it below, on Soundcloud, or download by liking Frank & Oak on Facebook.
I'm 27 minutes in and so far so good.
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).
Thoughtful piece from Cord Jefferson on Kanye West's retrograde attitude towards women (and particularly white women) on his recent album, Yeezus.
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.
DJ BC took the Beastie Boys and mashed them up with The Beatles.
Are those your drums? The Late Show host likes drums so much that when musical guests finish up their sets on the show, Letterman often asks the drummer about them.
This is great...Daft Punk's Get Lucky as it would have sounded in every decade from the 1920s to the 2020s.
This is what singles should be from now on...you get the original song, a 30s jazz version of the song, a 1800s classical version, an 80s new wave version, and so on.
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.
When Commander Chris Hadfield covered David Bowie's Space Oddity on board the International Space Station:
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)
And why should Boards of Canada have all the fun? Sigur Ros has a new album coming out as well, to be released the week after on June 18. Two singles from Kveikur are already out:
Oh hello new Boards of Canada single. Nice to see you.
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)
You know the drill: it's a new mixtape from The Hood Internet:
Downloads, tour details, and more info on their site.
Update: I made a playlist on Rdio of the songs The Hood Internet used in Mixtape Volume Seven...sifting through their sources is a great way to discover new and previously overlooked music.
There are maybe 3-4 songs I couldn't find on Rdio...they are either unreleased or mixes from Soundcloud. Enjoy.
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)
Today's much-needed levity: an accordion that plays when you resize the browser window. (via waxy)
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.
Update: Hmm, getting some reports that this is the actual radio edit of Get Lucky...and it does have some Pharrell lyrics that weren't in the promos and commercials. And if not, we're getting closer!
Update: Ha! Probably still fake. But it's the best fake so I'll take it for now. Would probably take DP, Pharrell, and Rodgers themselves to top this one. (via @Robbie)
What if each member of the Bluth family made an album? The album covers might look something like these.
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".
Roll over, Beethoven. (via @veen)
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. ↩
When Elvis Presley died in 1977, legendary rock critic Lester Bangs wrote a piece on the singer for the Village Voice.
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.
For Homework, their 1997 debut album, Daft Punk drew on a large number of musical influences. Here's two wonderful hours of the music that influenced them.
Weird day (fuck, weird week) but this totally totally made it. Some genius took Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe and mashed it up with Nine Inch Nails' Head Like a Hole.:
Totesally amazingballs. Way way better than I expected. (via the verge)
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.
Artist Rutherford Chang only collects first pressings of The Beatles' The White Album on vinyl. Dust & Grooves recently interviewed Chang about his collection.
Q: Are you a vinyl collector?
A: Yes, I collect White Albums.
Q: Do you collect anything other than that?
A: I own some vinyl and occasionally buy other albums, but nothing in multiples like the White Album.
Q: Why just White Album? why not Abbey road? or Rubber Soul?
A: The White Album has the best cover. I have a few copies of Abbey Road and Rubber Soul, but I keep those in my "junk bin".
Q: Why do you find it so great? It's a white, blank cover. Are you a minimalist?
A: I'm most interested in the albums as objects and observing how they have aged. So for me, a Beatles album with an all white cover is perfect.
Q: Do you care about the album's condition?
A: I collect numbered copies of the White Album in any condition. In fact I often find the "poorer" condition albums more interesting.
Close on the heels of their announcement to reunite after 10 years, The Postal Service have released a new song called "A Tattered Line of String."
After a decade of anticipation, I'm not sure whether I'm happy or disappointed that a new Postal Service song sounds exactly like I hoped it would.
Photos from the shortlist of winners of the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards. Some stunning shots in there.
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."
The owner of this cockatiel taught it how to sing dubstep.
This is a clever use of a GoPro camera...attached to the slide of a trombone and pointed back at the player.
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]
But also, Wu-Tang Flan, creator unknown.
Rolling Stone asked a panel of experts (Busta Rhymes, Questlove, Rick Rubin, etc.) to vote on the best hip-songs ever produced. Here's the list of their top 50 picks. Dre and Snoop's Nuthin' But a "G" Thang comes in at #6.
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)
As the pace of play-calling in college football has sped up, college marching bands have had to adjust as well.
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).
Revisiting a classic today: a cover of Snoop Dogg's Gin and Juice by The Gourds.
Polygon visited Harmonix to learn about the process for Gangnam Style to become a part of their Kinect game Dance Central 3. The result is partially a look at the challenges in that process, but also ends up being a good profile of Harmonix. The "cat cow" move was particularly hard to put into the game.
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
You'll be sorry you asked.
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.
Chantel Tattoli was assigned to report on Frank Sinatra, Jr's concert at the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek in Florida. And, as one does, she arranged for her father to go with her.
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.
This is a wonderful little story...and there's even a faint echo of Frank Sinatra Has a Cold about it.
[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.
Part two covers how the album was created:
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]
Here are the Rolling Stones touring Ireland in 1965, messing around in what looks like a hotel room, playing a couple of Beatles tunes, I've Just Seen a Face and Eight Days a Week.
Jagger at least seems to be taking the piss more than honestly enjoying the music of his fellow British invasion personnel. (via dangerous minds)
The Roots drummer, ?uestlove, will be schooling kids left and right this spring as he teaches a class on classic albums at NYU. It's too bad this isn't a high school class so my Young MC 'Principal's Office' reference would fit better.
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.
A limited edition letterpress reproduction of the poster is available for sale.
Philip Glass works pretty well in chiptune.
Brooklyn's got a winning team (maybe)
Trouble in the Suez
U2 (albeit a different one)
Terror on the airline
Ayatollah's in Iran
It will still burn on, and on, and on, and on...
According to the data scientists at Stellar (i.e. me armed with clumsy SQL queries), people like riffing off of Jay-Z's line from 2004's 99 Problems:
If you're having girl problems I feel bad for you, son
I've got 99 problems, but a bitch ain't one
Here are some of the better ones I found:
@antichrista: If you got religious circumcision, I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 problems but a bris ain't one.
@elibraden: I'm rubbing lotion on my belly rapping "I got 99 problems but ab itch ain't one" to the elderly men in the gym locker room.
@goldengateblond: "I got 99 problems but the witch ain't one." — Darrin Stevens, widower
@dustmop: I got 99 problems but one of them is that i used hex and i actually have 152 other problems :(
@sween: If you're coming to Canada to escape Obamacare, I feel bad for you son. We've got 99 problems but a lack of socialized medicine ain't one.
@bagyants: "I got 99 problems, but they can wait." - Lay-Z
@mikesacco: i got 99 problems but that's 693 in dog problems!!
@blitznbeans: "I got 99 problems but I really need to lie back on this chair." - Chaise-Z
@justin: I've got 99 problems but a view controller that works as expected on iOS 5 and doesn't respond to user interaction on iOS 4 is the main one.
@paulypeligroso: "I got 99 problems but a bitch aint one." - The Dalmatian parents from 101 Dalmatians.
@trevso_electric: I got 99 problems but white privilege ensures that they're relatively trivial or easily worked out with a therapist.
@yellowcardigan: I got 99 problems but a joke structure based on a 2004 rap single ain't one.
@lisarahmat: I got 99 problems but my math ain't one hundred.
Let's get a Kickstarter together to have Jay-Z rap all these lines.
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.
In a photo slideshow with jazz accompaniment, narrator Adam Gopnik takes us on a short tour of NYC's A train, which runs from the top of Manhattan all the way out to the beaches of Rockaway.
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.
Additionally, you'll enjoy this profile of a guy who has sent a couple hundred letter-length emails to Jay-Z since 2010, and is pretty sure the emails are being read.
Dan Spitz played lead guitar for the heavy metal band Anthrax for more than 12 years. Now he's a master watchmaker.
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.
Wub wub wub. Wub.
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.
This door in a Chicago parking garage does a pretty good impression of Miles Davis.
New musical obsession: Com Truise. It's basically all I've listened to over the past two weeks.
While subliminally informed by both parental record collections and hints of faded electronics product design, Haley's Com Truise project isn't just nostalgia capitalization. There are fragments (read: DNA strands) of Joy Division, New Order, and the Cocteau Twins, but it's like you're hearing them through the motherboard of a waterlogged Xbox-demented and modern. He's got a way of making familiar things sound beautifully hand-smeared.
He's on SoundCloud and if you like that, check out a couple of his albums: In Decay and Galactic Melt. Got the rec from Dan Cederholm, who tweeted intriguingly, "Daft Punk's Tron soundtrack was brilliant, yes. I'm voting Com Truise for Tron 3."
In a move that harkens back to composers of old, Beck's next album, 'Song Reader' will be released in December as sheet music of 20 unreleased and unrecorded songs.
The sheet music will come with full colour art works for each song as well as a hardcover carrying case. Two of the 20 songs are instrumentals. The 'album' features the tracks 'Do We? We Do' and 'Don't Act Like Your Heart Isn't Hard'. The idea behind the release is for fans to play the songs and 'bring them to life' themselves.
In 1979, 11 peopled died in a stampede before a stop on The Who's Quadrephenia tour in Cincinnati when not enough doors were opened to let in the crowd. Providence mayor Buddy Cianci canceled a concert two weeks later at the Providence Civic Center, and The Who hasn't ever been back to Providence. Last week, the GM of the PCC, now called the Dunkin' Donuts Center announced he'd accept unrefunded tickets for The Who's February, 2013 concert.
Tuesday, as the Providence Journal reports, "the patience and tenacity of 10 Who fans was rewarded ... at the Dunkin' Donuts Center, where they traded in 14 tickets to the band's canceled 1979 Providence performance in exchange for tickets to their February 2013 show at the Dunk." The ProJo has video. Fan Ed McConnell says he knew exactly where his two '79 tickets were: one was in a cigar box in a closet and the other one "was stuck on a cork bulletin board in my parent's house in my brother's old bedroom."
PS: Songs by The Who considered of puntastic entry in this post include the following: Going Mobile, I Can See for Miles, I Can't Explain, I've Been Away, Long Live Rock, My Generation, The Kids Are Alright, and Who Are You?
As part of an interview by Down Beat Magazine in 1964, Miles Davis listened to a bunch of unknown music in a blind listening test and offered his opinions.
What am I supposed to say to that? That's ridiculous. You see the way they can fuck up music? It's a mismatch. They don't complement each other. Max and Mingus can play together, by themselves. Mingus is a hell of a bass player, and Max is a hell of a drummer. But Duke can't play with them, and they can't play with Duke.
Now, how are you going to give a thing like that some stars? Record companies should be kicked in the ass. Somebody should take a picket sign and picket the record company.
Mike Tetreault recently let Boston Magazine follow along while he prepared to audition for the Boston Symphony Orchestra resulting in an interesting look into the BSO and the life of an elite orchestra musician. There's even a surprise appearance from Steve Blass Disease.
At 33, Tetreault was putting in 100-hour weeks on a patchwork of gigs he'd pieced together -- simultaneously serving as the music director at the Galilee Baptist Church in Denver; teaching at the University of Colorado; and working various gigs with the Boulder Philharmonic, the Fort Collins Symphony, the Colorado Ballet, the Colorado Symphony, and Opera Colorado. Yes, he was doing what he loved for a living, but when he added it all up, it was barely a living at all. He'd made $55,000 the previous year, pretty good -- until you factored in all the hours, and the fact that the salary had to support two since his wife, Rachel, had been laid off in 2010 from a communications job with the Colorado Symphony. The couple was living in a 625-square-foot one-bedroom apartment.
In a dispute with Universal over compensation for digital downloads, Def Leppard is taking the extreme and fairly metal step of re-recording their entire back catalog so they can do what they want with the songs. Earlier, they recorded what they're calling "Forgeries" of 'Pour Some Sugar on Me' and 'Rock of Ages' to coincide with the movie release of Rock of Ages.
While the business side seems cut and dried, Elliott says the creative part of recreating songs that date back 25 years or more is not. "You just don't go in and say, 'Hey guys, let's record it,' and it's done in three minutes," Elliott notes. "We had to study those songs, I mean down to the umpteenth degree of detail, and make complete forgeries of them. Time-wise it probably took as long to do as the originals, but because of the technology it actually got done quicker as we got going. But trying to find all those sounds...like where am I gonna find a 22-year-old voice? I had to sing myself into a certain throat shape to be able to sing that way again. It was really hard work, but it was challenging, and we did have a good laugh over it here and there."
This seems apocryphal but I'm gonna go with it anyway: Madonna has a cleanup team sweep her tour dressing rooms after shows for bits of hair, skin, and spit the singer might have left behind so that fans cannot get ahold of her DNA.
Concert promoter Alvaro Ramos, who is overseeing the Portuguese leg of Madonna's MDNA tour, told Britain's Daily Mirror: "We have to take extreme care, like I have never seen for any other artist.
"We cannot even look at the dressing room after it is ready, or even open the door."
MDNA = Madonna's DNA?
This is great so far: Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea mashed up with hip hop. (via av club)
Kanye and Jay-Z are doing a second album together!
Kanye West's producer Mike Dean, who co-produced part of Jay and 'Ye's Watch the Throne, has confirmed that there will be a Watch the Throne 2! While Dean revealed that a follow up album is definitely in the works, he was unable to give a specific time for its release.
Maybe they'll call it Watch the Throner?
No, it's not a typewriter that plays music. The Keaton Music Typewriter was invented in 1936 for the purpose of printing musical notes on sheet music paper.
The Keaton Music Typewriter was first patented in 1936 (14 keys) by Robert H. Keaton from San Francisco, California. Another patent was taken out in 1953 (33 keys) which included improvements to the machine. The machine types on a sheet of paper lying flat under the typing mechanism. There are several Keaton music typewriters thought to be in existence in museums and private collections. It was marketed in the 1950s and sold for around $225. The typewriter made it easier for publishers, educators, and other musicians to produce music copies in quantity. Composers, however, preferred to write the music out by hand.
A bunch of cute kids review Bangarang by Skrillex.
What is dupstep?
I've never heard of that.
Daddy loves dubstep.
A couple of the kids were asked what "the drop" meant:
I think the drop is when you drop being sensible.
When it gets really quiet and then it gets really really really loud. BANG!
As a tribute to Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, James Winters and his family made this parody of the video Sabotage with kids playing all the roles.
Charming, although I might have gone with squirt guns instead of the more realistic item.
At McSweeney's, John Peck whips up some bandwiches.
Bjork: Sliced narwhal, mustard, whole wheat bread.
Grateful Dead: Lemon verbena sorbet, peanut butter, clarified hemp butter, deep-fried brownie bites, M&Ms, stale focaccia.
Sex Pistols: Deep-fried Frank Sinatra LP, Russian mustard, spackle, tacks, stale rye bread.
John Cage: Silence, warmth, indirect sunlight, the memory of lettuce, the idea of bread.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Bacon-double cheeseburger, mescaline pesto, sourdough bread.
Wooooo! The Hood Internet has just released the sixth installment of their Mixtape series. You can listen to the whole thing here:
or download it here. Their five previous Mixtapes are some of the most-played music in my collection...I'm listening to volume five right now actually.
Matt Yglesias argues that because of the way copyright is viewed by the public and interpreted by lawmakers and the courts, making an album like The Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique would be nearly impossible today.
The death on Friday of Adam Yauch, best known as the Beastie Boys' MCA, surely sent many of us back to old albums we may not have heard for a while. And anyone who threw on Paul's Boutique, the Boys' best album, was surely struck by the sense that they don't make records like that anymore. That's not just because tastes and styles have changed. The entire album is based on lavish sampling of other recordings. "Shake Your Rump," which leads Slate's #MCATracks playlist, features samples of 14 songs by 12 separate artists. In all, the album is thought to have as many as 300 total samples. The sampling gave Paul's Boutique a sound that remains almost as distinctive today as it was when it was released in 1989.
Perhaps the main reason-and certainly the saddest reason-that it still sounds distinctive is that a rapidly shifting legal and economic landscape made it essentially impossible to repeat.
Directed by Ice-T, Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap is a documentary about the birth and evolution of rap and hip hop music.
Ice-T takes us on an intimate journey into the heart and soul of hip-hop with the legends of rap music. This performance documentary goes beyond the stardom and the bling to explore what goes on inside the minds, and erupts from the lips, of the grandmasters of rap. Recognized as the godfather of Gangsta rap, Ice-T is granted unparalleled access to the personal lives of the masters of this artform that he credits for saving his life. Interspersed with the performers' insightful, touching, and often funny revelations are classic raps, freestyle rhymes, and never before heard a cappellas straight from the mouths of the creators. What emerges is a better understanding of, and a tribute to, an original American art form that brought poetry to a new generation.
Stereogum writer Tom Breihan saw a Skrillex show at SXSW and loved it. In fact, it was his favorite act. His takeaway was that the Skrillex many people deride as a one-trick WUB WUB WUB pony on the basis of his albums is an extremely effective and talented live DJ.
But what I found was one of the more dynamic sets I heard during all of SXSW. Skrillex, see, knows what he's doing. He does what great DJs do: He layers sounds and ideas on top of each other, building tension and releasing it, moving fluidly from one thing to the next. Parts sounded like the sort of early-'90s hardcore techno that was popular with people who wore lots and lots of smiley faces. Other parts sounded like the sort of dark, broody late-'90s breakbeat techno that was popular with scary white guys with dreads. There was also a lot of robotic one-drop reggae in there. Early on, Skrillex played a big chunk of Damian Marley's "Welcome To Jamrock" unmolested. Later, he dug out Ini Kamoze's "World-A-Music," the song that Marley sampled on "Jamrock." All of it fit in seamlessly. None of it was built around bass-drops.
Letters of Note has a letter written by an 18-year-old Keith Richards to his aunt about meeting Mick Jagger for the first time since they were childhood friends.
Anyways the guy on the station, he is called Mick Jagger and all the chicks and the boys meet every Saturday morning in the 'Carousel' some juke-joint well one morning in Jan I was walking past and decided to look him up. Everybody's all over me I get invited to about 10 parties. Beside that Mick is the greatest R&B singer this side of the Atlantic and I don't mean maybe. I play guitar (electric) Chuck style we got us a bass player and drummer and rhythm-guitar and we practice 2 or 3 nights a week. SWINGIN'.
The Stones played their first show three months after the letter was written. (via ★thoughtbrain)
Alive Inside is a documentary that follows social worker Dan Cohen as he discovers that music can "awaken" people suffering from degenerative memory loss (Alzheimer's, etc.). Here's a clip in which a man goes from a near-coma state to talking about his favorite songs after listening to music for awhile on headphones.
Alan Gilbert is the music director of the New York Philharmonic and in this video, he talks about what a conductor does. I've been to the Philharmonic a few times in the past year and have wondered about the role of the conductor...specifically, is he actually doing anything up there to affect the music being played in realtime and could the orchestra play without him? The conductor obviously has a huge role in shaping the piece in rehearsal, but it seems like his presence on stage during the performance itself might be more performance than utility. But that's just a guess.
Update: I got an informative response about this from professional classical musician Chris Brody:
You're absolutely right that one of the main things an orchestra conductor does is to prepare the orchestra in rehearsal for the way he/she wants the piece to sound in performance. A lot of stuff is conveyed in that way that the conductor then won't need to attempt to convey in real time during the performance. And furthermore, as you suspect, conductors are often in some sense kind of "dancing" for the audience during performances, in ways that are strictly superfluous to making the musicians play correctly, though sometimes an enjoyable part of the concert experience.
In order for a concert performance to come off correctly, someone has to take responsibility for giving what musicians call "cues"-concrete gestures that enable everyone to know when to start playing. In chamber music (classical music played in small groups), one of the players will do this, usually with an exaggerated, rhythmically timed gesture that connotes "taking a breath to start playing right NOW" or "preparing my bow to play the string right NOW", and so on. In fact, there are entire smallish orchestras, like the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, that play with no conductor, because members of the ensemble give cues when they are needed.
In larger (orchestral) settings, it is convenient to have a conductor to give cues instead. Of course, there are some pieces that are played with metronomic strictness, and the conductor in fact will have fairly little to do during those performances. You might have noticed that pieces from the Baroque and Classical periods are usually quite strict in time, and it is no coincidence that there was no such thing as a professional conductor until the nineteenth century-music prior to that was usually quite playable with the first-chair violinist ("concertmaster") or the keyboardist giving a few cues as needed. (Conductors were occasionally used prior to the nineteenth century, but not so much that it was anyone's entire job.)
Some pieces, by contrast, have a lot of changes of tempo, or a lot of starting and stopping. In cases like that, a conductor is really an indispensable part of having a performance come off non-disastrously! Furthermore, a lot of pieces are written in a complicated enough texture or rhythm that the musicians cannot necessarily hear what the beat is all the time, and need some visual help to stay together (this is especially true of very slow music, and of a lot of twentieth-century music).
Aside from this, when ensembles don't need help staying together, the conductor will do a lot of gesturing to elicit slight changes in dynamic level, expressive character, and so on, from the musicians. Very good ensembles, when working with a conductor they respect, will absolutely respond in real time to these gestures. Less good ensembles will often not be able to do so and will mostly watch the conductor for cues. Also, ultra-elite ensembles are sometimes known to ignore the conductor during performances if they think he/she isn't adding much value (a dirty secret of professional musicians!), or of course if they do not have confidence in the conductor's ability to keep them together.
A couple more things that might interest you. Basic conducting is done via the use of "patterns" that correspond to certain time signatures. When a conductor conducts music in 3/4 (3 beats per measure), there will be 3 precise places that the baton is expected to be during the measure, and the musicians can always look up and follow that pattern. (The basic patterns are shown in this video.) If you watch, let's say, a high-school band, you will see the conductor use these patterns very strictly and literally. In orchestral conducting, two things are different. First, the musicians don't need much help keeping time, so the patterns are either heavily modified or abandoned entirely-although you can often see downbeats and things if you look for them. Second, orchestral conductors conduct WAY ahead of the beat the musicians are actually playing. This helps the musicians respond in real time to the conductor's instructions. From the audience's perspective, therefore, it can be nearly impossible to see the connection between what the conductor is doing and what you're hearing from the musicians-they're probably substantially out of sync.
Looks like I have a lot more to look for the next time I go to the symphony. (thx, chris!)
Friday was the 15th anniversary of the death of The Notorious B.I.G. The Fader has a look back at the life of Biggie, as told through pictures of the places he went and the people he knew.
I started working with Big in '91. I was 21, he was 15. I met him through a friend of mine. They hustled together on Bedford and Quincy. People in the neighborhood knew him as the hottest rapper around. Everybody that stepped in his path, he ate 'em up. He earned that stripe from that one battle he had on Bedford and Quincy. I was the one that was playing the music. This man used to live right upstairs from the pool room. Every day in the summer we'd play the music out. It just so happened that Big came around, so we brought the grill out, we brought the music out. They got on the mic and went at it. It went on from there. Cars stopped, it got real crowded out there. We rocked it 'til 12, one o'clock that night. It was a good look. Everybody that came at his back, he took out.
Biggie would have turned 40 this year.
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