Posts Tagged ‘New Yorker’

Lady Gaga and Agoraphobic Nosebleed together at last

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Well, not really, but I’m going to talk about both of them in one blog post, and that’s probably as close as they should ever get to each other. Mostly I just read two excellent pieces of music journalism and wanted to share excerpts.

In this New Yorker piece on Lady Gaga, the pop singer who, as the article points out, breaks the norm by being influenced more by European techno than American hip-hop:

Call it The Question of Endurance. You and your friends are talking about music, and the conversation turns to a popular band. You express support. A friend voices her opinion, maybe as favorable as yours, but appends a qualifier: “I like them, but will they be around in ten years?” You may feel compelled to defend whomever it is you’re talking about, covering the present moment and the future with your positive take. After trying this approach, though, you realize that pop music has no Constitution and doesn’t operate like a de-facto Supreme Court: precedent is not always established, and isn’t even necessary. Pop rarely accretes in a tidy, serial manner—it zigs, zags, eats itself, and falls over its shoelaces.

Even better is Cosmo Lee’s Pitchfork review of Agorapocalypse. This dude also writes for Decibel and runs the excellent Invisible Oranges blog, so he knows his metal. That said, I disagree with his review here, but it’s still a great piece of writing.

As plastic percussion flailed away below thrash and death metal riffs, the various vocalists of Agoraphobic Nosebleed extolled drugs, guns, and fucking. It was the sound of civilization’s decline, sold at Toys “R” Us with hazardous metal parts… This aesthetic culminated in 2003’s Altered States of America, which crammed 100 songs into 20 minutes. It was not an album so much as a temper tantrum.

He concludes that “Agorapocalypse is disappointingly listenable,” a sentiment I understand. I just think he’s off base.

New Yorker: “Does anything need bringing back less than sexy?”

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

I’ve been on a pretty severe music-buying hiatus for a couple months now; the only CDs I’ve bought in recent memory were in a gift-certificate funded order from amazon.com that included, incongruously, Boris‘ sludge/doom-metal epic Pink and Christina Aguilera’s new double album Back to Basics. Most of this is a function of the fact that I took a pretty expensive vacation this month (also explaining the infrequency of site updates).

In any case, in searching around for reviews of these two albums that I bought, I came across a review of Back to Basics and the new Justin Timberlake album (which I have not heard) in The New Yorker, which is typically, for that publication, well-written and amusing:

Justin Timberlake is under an equally strange impression on “SexyBack,” the first single from his modest but satisfying new album, “FutureSex / LoveSounds,” where he bafflingly claims to be “bringing sexy back.” Does anything need bringing back less than sexy? It’s like proposing to bring back petroleum, or the N.F.L.

In one of the songs on Back to Basics — which is premised as a kind of tribute to old-school R&B and jazz artists — Aguilera name-drops like crazy, giving props to James Brown, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and on and on… the last name made me imagine a Coltrane sheets-of-sound solo inserted ungracefully into a modern hip-hop-based pop song. I actually think that could be pretty awesome: a heavy, hypnotic beat dropping out to make room for a ferocious Coltrane tenor solo? Maybe I’ll go download some mash-up software and make it happen.