11/23/12 1:06pm


It feels important to note that Conor Oberst has long hair now, like Adam Sandler-as-Operaman-on-SNL-level length. Ten years ago, when the Omaha-native was being hailed as the Voice of a Generation, it was impossible to find a review or a profile that didn’t mention his, in the words of The New York Times, “hair [flopping] around his head in a black bubble.” A simple Google search for “Oberst hair” brings up 448,000 results. So when he played not as Bright Eyes (or Commander Venus?) at the majestic Carnegie Hall on Wednesday night, but as Conor Oberst (“with special guests”), often only accompanying himself on acoustic or bulky electric guitar, his new Jack White look was surprising to see, though maybe not as much as it should have been.

Nearly a third of the set was made up of songs from his most well-known incarnation Bright Eyes, including crowd pleasers “Classic Cars” and “At the Bottom of Everything,” but he dusted off selections from his other bands too, including the Mystic Valley Band (“Lenders in the Temple”) and Monsters of Folk (“Maps of the World”, sans the other Monsters). He’s come a long way from his “Self-Loathing and Long Bangs: The Conor Oberst Story” days, despite still being able to hit those quivering, frightening notes that thousands of other tortured balladeers have attempted and failed to reproduce over the years.

Was the long hair his way of being able to perform a song from his long-ago past, like “The Big Picture,” while also acknowledging he’s a different man than he was then&#8212less a singular Voice and more of a Leader? Possibly. Either that, or he just liked the way it looked while he sang “Southern State?”

Photos from the show, courtesy photographer Nadia Chaudhury, below:


Ian Felice



Conor Oberst






07/24/12 2:20pm


Typically when you see a band live, even if it’s one of your favorite bands, there are certain songs you want to hear more than others. It speaks to the amazing consistency of Beach House, who played a rainy, lightning-assisted sold out show at Central Park’s Summerstage last night, that that rule doesn’t apply to them. Sure, you want to hear “Other People,” from this year’s five-star album Bloom, but no more than “Walk in the Park” or “Troublemaker” or even “Gila.” Beach House has a remarkable ability to play similar-sounding songs that don’t blend together — their entire discography is made up of smoky, atmospheric, murky pop songs that build on anticipation, and live, not much changes. Hair-flipping pro Victoria Legrand occasionally stretches a word out or sings softer than she does on the album, and certain songs have more of a bounce to them (“Used to Be” in particular) but for the most part, the Beach House you hear live is the Beach House you hear at home. Good thing the songs are so goddamn good.

Also, a whole lot of people swayed.

06/27/12 2:51pm


On the same day that her robe were sold for over $34,000 at an auction, a previously unreleased demo of Amy Winehouse’s greatest song, “Back to Black,” was played by Mark Ronson for the first time on his 6 Music Show. It’s stripped of his signature production and it sounds a little rough around the edges, particularly the drums, which don’t have the same oomph as the album version, but Amy’s voice sounds fantastic, if a little weary. She sings it a little bit slower and her vocals are further back in the mix, giving the song a slightly haunting feel to it. Listen here, and expect to see this song on a lot of Facebook pages and Twitter accounts in less than a month…

06/25/12 11:54am


If you’ll allow me, a bit of fan fiction: the members of Built to Spill are hanging around waiting for their mid-afternoon set at Governors Ball to begin, doing whatever it is members of Built to Spill do when they’re hanging around, when Fiona Apple and Beck, who are both playing later in the day, come over and begin talking to them. They’re not shooting the shit, though; they’re talking about their music. Fiona asks Beck, “What did you mean when you sang of a ‘paradise camouflage?” while Doug Martsch flatters Fiona with, “I love the way ‘Fast As You Can’ slows down midway through, only to speed up again.” Soon, Isaac Brock and the rest of Modest Mouse join the conversation, and so begins a 45-minute chat about The Lonesome Crowded West.

It’s unlikely that this chat happened — in fact, it’s not likely at all — but it COULD have, because Beck, Modest Mouse, Fiona Apple, and Built to Spill, all of whom made some of the ‘90s (and 2000s) greatest music, all played Governors Ball, held confusingly on Randall’s Island, yesterday. (Explosions in the Sky, Devendra Banhart, Phantogram, Cage the Elephant, and others played, too, but we mostly set up shop at a single spot, the Hype Machine Stage, before heading over to the bigger Honda Stage for Beck.)

After Cults, the pseudo goth-poppers who made headlines last year by signing with a Columbia Records imprint with just a three-song EP to their name, played a charming 40-minute set that had teen girls freaking out over a glockenspiel (singer Madeline Follin has a great voice; I just wish it wasn’t so often buried in reverb), Built to Spill came on stage. They had the unenviable task of playing before Fiona Apple and Modest Mouse, groups with more outspoken, vocal fanbases, but predictably, they didn’t give it a shit and after a somewhat lethargic beginning, the band kicked it not into the sun, though it was pretty damn hot yesterday, but into gear. A spry “Distopian Dream Girl” was followed by fan-favorite “You Were Right” was followed by the shuffling early single “Joyride,” and so on for 45 minutes The set ended with an extended “Carry the Zero,” with Martsch’s leg shaking in time with the song’s wobbly feel.

Then came Fiona Apple. I have never heard a festival crowd quieter than I did during the sultry “I Know” — there were no inane conversations about getting a pretzel or going to the bathroom after the set. It was just thousands of people in awe of the Artist of the Moment, soaking in every second. With good reason, too, because she is completely riveting to watch on stage. While singing “Fast As You Can,” she contorted her body and spun and jumped in the air, and later, during “Every Single Night,” she pounded her chest with a tightly clenched fist to highlight the primal-chant chorus. She also had a sheepish, childlike glee to her at times, crouching beneath her sideways-facing piano to peer out into the audience with a slight grin on her face or sitting down in the middle of stage during “Criminal” to wave. Her tight, jazzy band and voice, which bounced around the words, waiting for the perfect moment and even-more-perfect word to enthusiastically emphasize, were both in fine form, too. She was thrilling, slinky, forceful, and tearful, sometimes all in the same song. She was Fiona Apple.

Modest Mouse came on next, and the crowd couldn’t have had a more different feel to it. It was the same group of people as before (you were so tightly wedged in that even if you wanted to move, those near the barrier, like we were, couldn’t have), but they came out of their shells from the time Fiona left and Modest Mouse began, and became raucous and feisty. Much to Isaac Brock’s delight, too, because the day before, they had played a poorly received set at Metallica’s Orion Fest, which is just as much of a genre mish-mash as you think it is. He made fun of the Metallica fans, claiming that they were the type of people who still lived in their mother’s basements. “Congrats on having jobs,” he said to the Governors crowd, midway through a spirited, 14-song set that was heavy on The Moon and Antarctica (“Tiny Cities Made of Ashes,” “Paper Thin Walls”), Good News for People Who Love Bad News (“Bury Me With It,” “Satin in a Coffin”), and We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (“Dashboard,” “Fire It Up”). No longer the scrappy, rambling band of The Lonesome Crowded West, Modest Mouse have, in the years since “Float On” made them a household name, become a strong contender to be any festival’s headliner—were it not for Beck, that is.

We weren’t able to stay for all of Beck’s set (standing out in the sun since 11 a.m. will take a lot of a person), but we heard enough to say that he’s still got it. I mean, there was never a question that he “lost” it, but his last three albums are at best good, which might explain his heavy-with-Odelay setlist, including “Devil’s Haircut,” “Where It’s At,” and “Jack-Ass.” (Sea Change, my favorite album of his, also got some love, with “The Golden Age,” “Lost Cause,” and “Sunday Sun” being performed by the same band that recorded it 10 years ago.) He seamlessly shuffled from the rap-funk Beck to balladeer Beck, and in a day dominated by indie rock favorites, his set would be the one that Built, Modest, and Fiona would have chatted about to end my imaginary fan fiction.

06/12/12 11:22am

Over the next few months, the following bands will release new albums: Grizzly Bear, the Dirty Projectors, Animal Collective, and the XX. What do they all have in common, other than we either really like them or really, really like them? They all last put out albums in 2009, one of the stronger years for music in recent memory. With that in mind, here are five other bands that last put out a record three years ago, and really need to release something new ASAP.

06/08/12 1:03pm


Apropos of nothing, I listened to Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade the other day, and yup, it’s still perfect. It’s cathartic and ambitious and doesn’t give a fuck and makes you want to scream and oh my God Bob Mould’s voice and “Turn on the News” is a great song. Even the 14-minute “Reoccurring Dreams” sounds (mostly) necessary. I bring this up not only because you should listen to the album as soon as you possible, but also because Mould is gearing up to release his 10th solo album and first for his new record label, Merge. It’s called Silver Age and it’s coming out on September 4.

Three days later, Mould will be at Webster Hall, not only playing the new stuff and, presumably, some songs from his Hüsker days, but also the entirety of the also-perfect Sugar album, Copper Blue. I really like this post-autobiography Mould—he’s no longer afraid of revisiting the past, yet enough of his former-self remains that he can’t be creatively satisfied JUST playing the old stuff.

In summary: Bob Mould, new album, perfection. Now here’s “I’ll Never Forget You.”

06/06/12 2:12pm

Is this how things work now? I mentioned Kanye in a post about Grizzly Bear yesterday, and today, he released the music video for “Mercy,” his collaboration with G.O.O.D. Music labelmates Big Sean and Pusha T, as well as about-to-explode 2 Chainz. If so, Kanye, could you please bring back the bear? I miss that guy.

Anyway, unlike “Mercy” itself, which at least counteracts its ridiculous braggadocio with some impressive rhymes, the video is pretty fucking goofy. Shot in black and white, the four rappers, as well as Kid Cudi for some reason, spit verses in a parking garage, with a Lamborghini and not much else to keep them company. And then they start self-cloning.

Yeah, I’m not sure, either, but hey, at least the song’s good and the G.O.O.D. Music compilation, Cruel Summer, should be out sometime in the next month or two, too, assuming Kanye doesn’t get distracted by laser pointers again.

06/05/12 4:33pm

It’s been three years since Grizzly Bear released that wonderful album people still have trouble pronouncing, Veckatimest, which isn’t that long in person terms, but FOREVER when it comes to the music industry. I mean, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy hadn’t even dropped yet! People were excited about Phoenix! What were we thinking?

Ed Droste, Daniel Rossen, Christopher Bear, and Chris Taylor are slowly coming out of hibernation (sorry), though, and today they revealed that their still-untitled fourth album will be out on September 18 via Warp Records. Plus, a song! It’s called “Sleeping Ute,” and it’s just as elaborate as you’d expect a song from Grizzly Bear to be, but also more unexpectedly raucous. Plus, another plus! They’ll be playing Radio City Music Hall, their biggest NYC venue yet, on September 24.

It’s good to have you back. Here’s the track listing:
“Sleeping Ute”

“Speak in Round”


”Yet Again”

”The Hunt”

”A Simple Answer”

”What’s Wrong”


”Half Gate”

”Sun in Your Eyes”

06/05/12 2:12pm


While the Max’s Kansas City movie continues to not exist, the CBGB movie, cleverly called CBGB, has been picking up famous actors and actresses to play the venue’s more famous guests as fast as one of Johnny Ramone’s signature non-solos. (It’s Internet law that every blog post about CBGB must include at least one reference to the Ramones in the first sentence.) We already knew that Rupert Grint (“Ron Weasley”), Alan Rickman (“Professor Snape”), and Malin Akerman (“Not in Harry Potter”) had been cast as Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome, club owner Hilly Kristal, and Blondie frontwoman/coolest person ever Debbie Harry, respectively, but now we have our Iggy Pop and Patti Smith, too. Taylor Hawkins, who drums for the Foo Fighters, will play the Stooges singer, even though they never played at 315 Bowery, while Mickey Sumner, best known as Francesca from Showtime’s The Borgias, has the honor of portraying Patti Smith. (Johnny Galecki, of Roseanne fame, definitely not that OTHER shitty show of his that’s currently on CBS, is also in the movie, as Television mentor Terry Ork.) Make Bradley Cox your Tom Verlaine, and I might actually believe this could be good.


06/05/12 11:56am


StubHub can be a great resource—I bought second-row tickets to see Pulp the day of the Radio City show for less than face value. The key is waiting until right before the concert to buy anything; otherwise, you’re going to be paying a SHIT TON of money. How much is a shit ton? Glad you asked: I took a look at the most way-over-face ticket (as of right now) on StubHub for nine of New York’s most popular venues between now and the end of August, and compared them to the actual cost. To the broker who’s trying to get 25 times face for Foster the People: I hope you’re forced to spend eternity looked in a Hollister where they play “Pumped Up Kicks” on a non-stop loop.

Bowery Ballroom
The Wallflowers, July 24
Actual cost: $25
Highest price on StubHub: $338
Markup: +1,252%

Central Park Summerstage
Foster the People, June 11
Actual cost: $40.75
Highest price on StubHub: $1,000.00
Markup: +2,354%

Hammerstein Ballroom
Tenacious D, June 28
Actual cost: $55
Highest price on StubHub: $500
Markup: +809%

Webster Hall
The Gaslight Anthem, July 24
Actual cost: $29
Highest price on StubHub: $295
Markup: +917%

Music Hall of Williamsburg
Ed Sheeran, June 12
Actual cost: $18
Highest price on StubHub: $160
Markup: +789%

Irving Plaza
Lana Del Rey, June 7
Actual cost: $20
Highest price on StubHub: $501 (VIP)
Markup: +2,405%

Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Jimmy Buffett, August 30
Actual cost: $96
Highest price on StubHub: $5,883
Markup: +6,028%

Prospect Park
Wilco, July 23
Actual cost: $45
Highest price on StubHub: $500
Markup: +1,011%

Terminal 5
The xx, August 2
Actual cost: $45
Highest price on StubHub: $335
Markup: +644%