We'll have lots more photos from this past weekend coming at you over the next day or two, but we wanted to start with one of the final shows of the festival, Solange at McCarren Park as part of Converse Rubber Tracks Live at Northside?. It was everything we hoped it would be: there was dancing, there was singing along, then there was more dancing. And smiling. And sunshine, and then more dancing.
Now that day one of the 2013 Northside Festival is officially behind us, our shoes finally starting to dry out and our Jameson/Heineken-induced hangovers slowly easing up, we can say without hesitation that it was a success. Here as proof, we offer photos from some of last night's most noteworthy shows. We'll see you out there today, yes?
I mention all of this right now because a) Northside starts on Thursday, and this seemed like a pretty good excuse to mention that, in hopes that you would buy a badge And, b) because Luke Ratheborne (who now apparently just goes by Rathborne?) has a new video out this morning. The song's called "Last Forgiven," and it's off his forthcoming album, Soft, which comes out on July 15th. It's got hooks for miles and blends acoustic and electric guitars in a way no one ever does anymore. Video below.
Today is the first day of our second favorite Brooklyn-based, multi-venue music festival, NYC Popfest! It's pretty safe to say that this year's lineup is the indie-pop obsessed local festival's best yet. You've got Kiwi pop legends The Bats playing at the Bell House on Saturday. UK treasures Close Lobsters playing Littlefield on Sunday night (with a sick support lineup including Ski Lodge, My Teenage Stride, Wolfhounds, The Secret History, etc. etc. etc.) They've even coaxed missing in action mid-00s favorite The Ballet out of hiding to play a free show at Spike Hill on Saturday afternoon. All the kudos! All of them!
But the crown jewel of the lineup is clearly the chronically underappreciated British band The Monochrome Set. Formed in late 70s London as The B-Sides, the band once featured Adam Ant as member. He went on to MTV superstardom, and they went on to be one of my favorite bands of all time, so they clearly won. Smart and catchy in equal measure, they were the class of the British post-punk scene. On Monday, the band played their first NYC set in 30 years. I'm going to see the second, tomorrow night, and I'm beyond excited. But, apparently not enough of the rest of you are, as tickets for that show are still available. This is unacceptable.
Below, listen to seven songs that should be able to get you into this legendary band. They have plenty more, but we're starting with the basics.
Prinzhorn Dance School are a band who feel like a science experiment, set to determine once and for all the bare minimum number of things needed to make badass rock music. Post-punk sounds have come and gone and come again over the past decade, and the British band—an odd, long-standing pillar of the DFA Records roster—have been more interested than anyone in ripping the cold, dark genre apart to see how it works. Their self-titled 2007 debut is as bare-bones as music can get. It's massively underrated follow-up, Clay Class, was one of the best records of 2012 for pulling off the neat trick of fleshing out their sound by adding only a few restrained strokes. The band is one of many on the massive, sold out DFA 12th Anniversary Party at Grand Prospect Hall this Saturday, but before that, they make their actual U.S. live debut at the significantly smaller Williamsburg DIY venue Shea Stadium on Friday as part of a DFA and Golden Ratio Presents show that'll also features a set from label mates YACHT. (You can still get tickets for that here. You are sort of lame if you don't.)
Ahead of those first American shows, we chatted with Suzi Horn and Tobin Prinz about their music via email, getting real fanboy philosophical about their stark music, their surreal lyrics, and how minimal a pop song can even be. (There is a slight difference of opinion about disco, also.)
The L Magazine: Is its bassline the most important component of a Prinzhorn Dance School song? Which part tends to be the starting point when writing?
Suzi Horn: Each element is of equal importance or it wouldn’t be there. A song can start with a bassline, a guitar note, a beat or a lyric. Anything that makes each other’s eyes sparkle.
Tobin Prinz: We try to avoid a set rule or formula or any predetermined stylistic. some things are pretty deep rooted in our approach—like the way we try and present the songs in their simplest form, as Suzi
says, so each element is functional and necessary. but each song, each record, is exactly that—a record of how two people think and feel at a given time.
A few months back, we talked you through your options for two different upcoming 90's nostalgia cruises, one held by Summerland ringleader Mark McGrath, and the other with just... Matchbox 20. Well, things move fast, cruises have been getting some shitty (ha!) PR, and all of that advice is now moot.
Art song doesn't seem like the most popular style these days. Why art song?
Art song is an intimate way to get words across. I'm interested in it because the song form is so popular these days, and most pop-music listeners don't realize that the song form has roots in classical music. It's also really challenging to fit something like a political speech into song form; it forced me to be really concise and straightforward about my message.
A friend had been on line for an hour when the decision to cancel came down. "CazzoMooga," he said, because he's Italian. Then I opened my Facebook and it's all damp people with mobile updates like "#screwgooga."
"Too bad they didn't put their money where their mouth was when they said 'rain or shine,'" wrote one.
Drinking and music go together like, I don't know, two things that go together really well, in a really sloppy, perfect kind of way. They just fit. If you've never belted out a song while holding a bottle of something in your hand, extended arm wobbling and sloshing the contents to the floor, well, I don't know that you can say you've really lived. But what makes a perfect drinking song? Well, it helps if it references alcohol, although any kind of intoxication will do, be it alcohol, drugs, or even love. It helps if it's easily identifiable from its opening bars, so that you can prepare yourself to sing along. It helps if the chorus is repeated enough that, even if you forget most of the lyrics, you can chime in a few times over the course of the song. It helps if it's particularly gleeful or particularly poignant, anything that makes you feel. These are songs that will make you cry into your glass and jump up off your bar stool. These are songs that will make you grab the person next to you and insist that they sing along. These are songs that you will dance to, because you just can't help it, you need to dance. These are the songs that, just when you're sure that the alcohol has dulled your brain past the point of cognizance, bring you back again, so that you can start all over. You can start everything all over.
The thing most seared into my brain about Kriss Kross is the heavy rotation commercial they did for Sprite in 1993. I don't mean to diminish the duo by saying that. They were actually fine rappers in retrospect, especially given all the "Lil' " kid rappers that came along in their wake. But I know every word of that ad. I remember feeling like I was having a stroke in the middle of a work day a few years ago when, triggered by nothing, it came flooding back to me starting with "Tick tock you don't stop, you put a can in your hand and just pop the top..." and running complete to the end. I wasn't even drinking soda!
I'm guessing I saw it most on Fox, which in its pre-American Idol adolescence had a more focused appeal to young and minority viewers. I definitely saw it a billion times on breaks during The Simpsons and In Living Color. It was an incidental, yet really significant sign that hip-hop had taken over the mantle of commercial youth music, even in the midst of rock n' roll's supposed last great moment of wider significance. I don't want to trick anyone into thinking a lemon-lime soda jingle is high art, because it makes me sorta sad and nostalgic. But I've seen hundreds of rap-themed commercials since then, and I can't remember any of them.
Watch it below, start singing along after word one...
The flaws of his first movie have been detailed at length and a lot, because that's what the Internet is for. This Videogum takedown from 2011 feels pretty definitive. Salient sentence: "Here’s the thing: just because you use carefully selected songs to evince a particular mood, if everything else going on is absolute garbage then you are being a lazy fucking liar and I hate you." But even that devastating little splash of acid goes out of its way to give credit to the soundtrack for being effective. Braff definitely gets its huge part in making the movie a success, and one of the main Kickstarter premiums he offers is a sneak peak of the new one. So, what's gonna be on it??? Let's speculate wildly!
Well, insofar as we should care what anyone has to say about a TV show with a deceptively small viewership, yes. We should. Gordon is, after all, a feminist icon to legions of women, and a measured adult with a track record of not behaving like an idiot. Which is more than a lot of people inserting themselves into the conversation about Girls can say.
For decades, France’s biggest influence on American alternative culture was in film and fashion, an impossibly stylish people who needed to be seen to be appreciated. Lately, the country is dominating our ears. In 2013, the two sharpest focus moments from the whizzing blur that is the Coachella Festival were Phoenix’s on-stage duet with R&B superstar R. Kelly and Daft Punk revealing a fricking commercial for their new record Random Access Memory. Headline status for hedonistic Parisian pop was slow in coming, though. Some Serge Gainsbourg cultists among early-90s slacker collagists aside, French music wasn’t very ubiquitous until Daft Punk creeped into MTV rotation, clothing boutique speakers, and college dorm rooms at the end of the 90s along with original chill bros, AIR. Phoenix, linked closely to both bands, rose even slower as a rock band who rocked much softer than dance and pop acts. While these bands’ embrace of discarded sounds and styles that had been derided for decades now seems prescient, it took a good long while for it to become clear.
This documentary about the Brooklyn rock band The National centers on lead singer Matt Berninger's fuck-up brother Tom, who toured with the group as a roadie and fumbled a documentary out of the experience. Given that the band is one of the best and most exciting out there, this is akin to a profile on the Yankee's water boy, or close-ups of the Mona Lisa's frame. There's surprisingly little concert footage, and revelations about the group's dynamics or creative process are few and far between. (The interview questions essentially satirize the format: Do you get sleepy on stage? Where do you see the band in 50 years?)
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