As I'm on the self-assigned Tom Waits beat in perpetuity, here is Waits singing "Little Red Rooster" with the Rolling Stones last night (May 5) during the classic rockers' show in L.A.
"Highway Don't Care" by Tim McGraw and featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban features all three country stars in its music video, which also brings home the message: don't futz with your cell phone in your car, folks. Otherwise, Vanderbilt Medical is going to have to scrape you up from the highway, and the highway don't care.
This marks yet another addition to the Car Crash Music Video genre: "Highway Don't Care" hops in next to others like Coldplay's "The Scientist," Trey Songz' "Heart Attack," Metallica's "Frantic," Nickelback's "Someday," Katy Perry's "One That Got Away" and Adele's "Chasing Pavements," some with better storytelling and "twists" (an apparent feature of Car Crash Videos) than others.
Man, there is nothing like an artist who reluctantly releases new music.
As previously reported, the Grammy Award-winning MC and singer Hill signed a new record deal with Sony in order to get an advance of cash that helped to get her out of her tax debt to the government. The punishment for tax evasion could have equaled out to jail time. The punishment for failing to deliver goods to her new record label? Who knows, maybe even harsher, like a purposely ill-fated collaboration with Ke$ha?
Regardless, Hill has completed step one of her deal with the major music company by dropping a new song "Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix)." Compulsory, as in required by law, or coersion. That's what's giving you that warm feeling in your belly, right next to that bitter pill.
The song appeared on Hill's Tumblr this weekend (nothing says "fanfare" like posting on a weekend), making it her first new release in more than a decade. She noted that the song was "rushed" out the door, though she stands by its message:
Here is a link to a piece that I was ‘required’ to release immediately, by virtue of the impending legal deadline. I love being able to reach people directly, but in an ideal scenario, I would not have to rush the release of new music… but the message is still there. In light of Wednesday’s tragic loss (of former label mate Chris Kelly), I am even more pressed to YELL this to a multitude that may not understand the cost of allowing today’s unhealthy paradigms to remain unchecked!
The resulting song is about "unhealthy paradigms." More simply: Hill is pissed about everything, and guns are blazing in every direction, including the hypocrites, the greedy, the ignorant, the oppressors, the patriarchy, the "neurotic toxic society."
Miguel: He didn't need this. Miguel's good, thanks, still feeling fresh and cool after the success of "Kaleidoscope Dream" last year and is about to set out on the Set The World On Fire Tour with Alicia Keys.
Carey, on the other hand, struggled to get any traction at all with her 2012 song "Triumphant (Get 'Em)." It didn't have her voice, nor her "voice," as guests Meek Mill and Rick Ross took the verses. Subsequent remixes -- including the superior retro dance drop -- diluted the initial impact and Carey couldn't seem to gain any long-term favor.
And her "The Great and Powerful Oz" credits song "Almost Home" thudded all the same. It was as though the vocal lines were a placeholder, and she delivered just the same as any recruit could for the same schlocky, plodding ballad.
Here, it's a pop song, and sweetly so, as Carey flaunts her heart-warming ability to blend with Miguel's creamy tenor in a duet and take the spotlight with gusto when it's her turn. It's a sparkling reminder of what she does, and what she does best.
The keyboards' countermelody reminds me of OneRepublic's "Feel Again" while summer-fun beat is sanded down to muffled low-end to clear space for Carey and Miguel's ageless voices to have their day in the sun. Carey applies her trademark high octave in unison in her first solo phrase, and there's a brightness as her voice combines with his. It's like she was smiling -- or told to smile -- when she hit the mic. It works, and may become a pleasant addition into the 2013 summer jam rotation, if it works out.
This, after a week of ugly press: Carey and her "AI" co-judge Nicki Minaj have been fighting on the show, with Minaj allowing the drama to spill over into her own press time, her Twitter account and, subsequently, onto the pages of the tabloids. Carey, smartly, has been largely silent but still: bad feelings abound. "AI" is currently struggling through its worst ratings in its 16 season history, and is it any surprise?
So forget about that: cue up "#Beautiful," which is cutely credited "Starring Mariah Carey and Miguel." What do you think?
The lyric video for Vampire Weekend's "Ya Hey" -- the latest song to arrive from new album "Modern Vampires of the City" -- is all popped champagne bottles and fountains of foam. But there's also protective bibs. And nobody drinking.
The New York band has never shied away from commenting, even sarcastically, at class and youth. Here, there's also the acknowledgement of "black" music influences (hear gospel? reggae?) blending with their brand of pop and rock as it pays homage to other clashes and melting pots, of the Motherland with the Fatherland, Judeo-Christian imagery mixing with Zionism and Rastafarianism, Desmond Dekker literally (literaturely?) getting mixed with the Rolling Stones.
It's a playful song, but singer Ezra Koenig has heavier things on his mind, seeming to condemn all the supposed "lovers" of the Divine -- even himself. He gets glimpses of God, and is unsatisfied that God himself isn't fazed by faithlessness.
So all that, together with the typically bourgoise act of squandering perfectly good champagne by spraying it or breaking its bottle? Well, at least rappers get sponsorship for it: the offenders are of all colors and, notably, ages. The visual backing to this lyrical video (even the hilarious extras in the background at 3:15) is about waste. Again, with class and youthful excess.
Now if only I liked the pitched vocal effects buttressing the chorus. There's a waste of a good melody.
"Modern Vampires of the City" will be out on May 7.
Releasing an album in what's considered a traditional rock album cycle sometimes doesn't make sense. For the teeming numbers of lost or forgotten rock records -- decent, independently-released ones -- it doesn't work at all. Some projects are too special to fall into the 2-3 year, 2-tour support, single-video-radio-album-wash-repeat. Under the folkloric, ambiguous wisdom of "spend money to make money," there will expenditures without enough knowledge from the fans' part to see revenue at the end.
Kansas City band The Architects have created a "high-concept" soundtrack album and accompanying five-episode comic book "Border Wars," and found it high time they experimented with crowd-funding. After five studio album releases and high-visibility stints with My Chemical Romance, Flogging Molly and the Warped Tour, the Architects culled the opinions of their own fans to develop an Indiegogo model and self-sustaining execution that seemed realistic (and wouldn't make their base wretch).
"Doing more creative work more often makes a lot of sense to me with respect to sustainability," frontman Brandon Phillips told me in our email interview. "That way you are entering into an ongoing conversation with your fans or supporters instead of showing up for a booty call once a year."
This week, "Border Wars" reached its kick-off $10,000 goal. Interested parties can still preorder a hard copy of the comic and album... for half a day more. Below, Phillips gives his opinion on comics, on when it's NOT OK to crowd-fund and on where Justin Bieber's records are actually being made.
Wayne Coyne has fixations, and Flaming Lips co-member Steven Drodz says as much.
"Something must have happened to [Coyne] when he was eight or nine that completely zapped his brain. Wayne goes through phases of working with different types of imagery. In 1989, it was Jesus Christ and God. But the vaginas never really go away," he told Vice, which premiered the extremely not-safe-for-work video to "You Lust" today.
As we've noted before, there's a baffling amount of nudity in the Lips' output these days, with "lust"-death connections all over buzz-killing album "The Terror." "You Lust" is its crown jewel, with a clock time of around 13 minutes. This video is only about four. Guess Coyne and his guest can't have wires connected to their own jewels for too long.
"The nudity in the video isn’t glamorous or sexy. It’s very stark and disturbing. I think that’s a bold move. There are some shots when you go, “That’s an interesting angle to shoot a flaccid penis from...” But Wayne isn’t shy about being naked," he said, shortly before a minor launch into women's pubic hair grooming habits.
I'm not anti-nudity. Sexual violence is worth talking about. But as some short-form art, it feels yet incomplete, more of an exploitative portrait in the theme of lust.
I think of music festivals in terms of high school, or summer camp. Lollapalooza, Coachella and the ilk may host tens and hundreds of thousands of attendees, of varying ages and actual interest in music, but some social mechanics are all still there: what you do when you're bored, the indiscriminant judgement of character on the most petty of outward appearances, the laws of attraction, clique strata and Art School Kids.
Austin Psych Fest, hosted this past weekend at Carson Creek Ranch in Austin's outskirts, hosted fewer than 5,000 people -- about the size of a large high school. Despite having three large stage areas with attendance hardly near cap, it felt snug yet inviting, with hammocks dangling from the trees, the Texas capitols' affinity for food trucks representing, and a satisfying range of what qualifies as "psych" music.
A round of rain hardly elevated festivities from "appropriately groovy" to "post-adolescent mud-hippie batsh*t" and the crowd stayed cool, even polite, and thoroughly committed to the music lineup of this sixth annual fest. (Though, this doesn't mean it didn't make for great people watching. The gorgeous Elevation Amphitheater, with its various tiers leading down to the green creek's edge, may as well have been called the Football Stadium Bleachers. The blissfully short bathroom lines were a veritable Fashion Avenue.)
But for programming with such a genre-leading tilt, the lineup was definitely above average, delivering long-jams, space rock, stoner punk, experimental electronica, psychedelic blues, acid, prog and world. Immaculate Noise favorites like Black Angels, Os Mutantes and Goat introduced their excellent new albums with varying degrees of success (great, cheesy, trainwreck-in-slow-motion, respectively). The fest's variety is its strength, even though sticking largely to rock. The majestic tunics on Tinariwen contrasted with the goobery costumes of King Khan & BBQ Show; Man Or Astroman's hilarious banter was near-opposite of solid shoegazers No Joy, whose stage presence lived up to its name; Masaki Batoh's fascinating Brain Pulse Music improvisations were as affecting as Boris' well-practiced deep-space drones.
I wasn't wild on headliners Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's one-noting and reunited Moving Sidewalks' drummer artlessly plodding over rock hero Billy Gibbons. The phoniness of Island Records signees Deap Vally wrecked a perfectly good Sunday afternoon slot. And It doesn't cease to amaze me that Vietnam is still a band that gets booked. And of course, you could crack the jibe that there were five bands with the word "Black" in their name, one "Wolf" band, one "Deer" band, and several with death, the dead, the dying and drugs. But what was overwhelmingly good-feeling was the diversity in performers, especially with the heartening number of bands with women in them, averaging out better than your Coachellas and Bonnaroos.
Below I outline some of my favorite live performers from the 2013 Austin Psych Fest, or as I'll call it, Psych Fest High School. Included are Tinariwen, King Khan & BBQ Show, Acid Mothers Temple, Suuns, Man Or Astroman?, Spectrum, Indian Jewelry, The Saint James Society, Tjutjuna and Dead Skeletons.
Listen to "Fool Metal Jack" in full here.
That Neutral Milk Hotel reunion tour you were hoping for? The one featuring more than just Jeff Mangum? Well, so far, let's just hope you live in the South or Asia.
For the first time since 1998, the indie rockers will be performing live, with five dates announce for Athens, Ga., Asheville, NC... Tokyo and Taipei, Taiwan. On the band's website, there is the promise of "more to come," with "more" probably indicating additional dates.
The lineup will be Mangum, Scott Spillane, Julian Koster and Jeremy Barnes, which is the crew that came together to support 1996's "On Avery Island"; they all performed on 1998's masterful "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea." Athens is the band's hometown.