Songwriter talks about the Las Vegas strip and forgetting the lyrics
Listen to "Fool Metal Jack" in full here.
'On Avery Island' lineup will head back to Athens, Ga. breeding ground
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.
Exclusive: Actor/director Jeff Newburg takes on Robert Frost
On the same day where Zach Braff launches a Kickstarter to raise $2 million for his film project, $10,000 sounds like a modest sum. That's the number actor/director Jeff Newburg's set for his short film "Home Burial," and with it comes a new score from Arcade Fire's Will Butler.
According to Newburg, the AF multi-instrumentalist will contribute "synth, keyboard-heavy" compositions to the Indiegogo crowd-funded "Home Burial," which is based on the Robert Frost poem of the same name.
"We both have a poetry background," Newburg told me of working with Butler, who performs in Arcade Fire alongside his brother Win. "Both in the band collectively and Will as an individual have been doing more film world stuff... [Will's] a huge film fan, so it's pretty natural for him and Win to want to bring in musical elements into film. Arcade Fire's already a pretty orchestral band. Will, with poetry, wanted to make some very personal music."
The full text of "Home Burial" can be read here.
In the Indiegogo description, Newburg describes his initial fascination with the story from his high school and college years, leading up to his adult life today. "As a husband, and now, a father (I swear that second part came after I had written this; I’m not so morose as to write such material when I’ve just had my first child), I’m looking forward to this particular exploration of marriage, life and grief."
Butler writes that, "The music for the short film will hopefully evoke Robert Frost--formal but conversational; embedded in the early 20th century but still relevant. Darker than you might expect. Bartok meets John Carpenter."
(Sample a demo of Butler's music for the film above.)
During our interview, Newburg called his friend Butler's own work apart from his band as "very much an exploration," as well.
"I would be surprised if suddenly there were a solo record. Mostly, it's up to this point very much an exploration for him, I think. It's like training. I've watched the influence of the stuff he does on his own on what the band's done over the last few years." (Arcade Fire is currently working on their fourth studio album.)
Should the film complete its funding to satisfaction, the shoot with co-director Matt Litwiller ("Telescope") begins early this summer. Butler will arrange the music around the shoot. The funds raised through Indiegogo won't go to the filmmakers, composer and actors; rather, to fees, insurance, period props and costumes, rentals and other logistics. They play on submitting the film to festivals.
"Short film and poetry," Newburg laughed. "Synergistically, I couldn't have found a more commercially viable product, right?"
You can contribute to the project on the "Home Burial" Indiegogo page.
'i dont want to be infantilized because i refuse to be sexualized'
In a Tumblr post titled "I don’t want to have to compromise my morals in order to make a living," Grimes is letting sexist music "industry" members, press, fans and others know that she knows when you're being sexist, rockist or biased, and to cut it the hell out.
The 4AD-signed singer saw great critical acclaim last year for her album "Visions" (and is an Immaculate Noise 2012 fave, and is fresh off of being one of HitFix's favorite performers at Coachella this month). But it appears that the "Visions" album cycle is "over," as she wrote last night, and misogynistic comments to and at her are intolerable.
"I’m tired of men who aren’t professional or even accomplished musicians continually offering to ‘help me out’ (without being asked), as if i did this by accident and i’m gonna flounder without them. or as if the fact that I’m a woman makes me incapable of using technology," she wrote in the post. "i dont want to be infantilized because i refuse to be sexualized," she said in another line.
The list is fairly specific, on the types of comments or afflictions she's had in the past year, and perhaps refers to a point this winter when she erased her Tumblr altogether. "i dont want my words to be taken out of context," she said early on. In January February, she wrote about her fondnesses of Beyonce and Mariah Carey, as a successful female and performers. She also posted her favorite songs from 2012, for which she's got apparent grief.
"I'm sorry, but I think it's f*cking incredible that a Korean language song is the most popular thing on the planet. That's so good for humanity. PSY wrote and produced "Gangnam Style" himself and directed the video HIMSELF... I dont think it's so terrible that he's been recognized for this. It also doesn't make him evil. His art is creating a generation of kids that will grow up seeing Asian culture as being as valid as Western culture which they currently don't," she wrote then. "Racism isn't over. Sexism isn't over. The only way things actually effect social change is by hitting the audience that perpetuates these ideas. Therefore, when a deserving artist blows up its good for everybody."
In a Tumblr post directly after the initial post last night, Grimes assured listeners:
a) meeting fans is actually incredibly rewarding for me so im gonna keep doing that and if u see me on the street its like, totally fine to say hi :)
b) i am still making music - but im gonna start working on a new album instead continuing to tour off visions...
c) ALSO - i wrote what i wrote below not to complain or make anyone sad, but because i feel like if its possible to not accept stuff i hate and live a comfortable life then i want to do it :) in a broader sense, ideally stereotyping of any kind is something that can eventually be overcome or at least minimized. the fact that the response to this has been almost entirely positive is amazing and really nice and yeah.
I think that anybody who has spent time and/or their livelihood and/or their own money in creative industries will see the bias Grimes is referring to. "Popular" as inferior status... women having success by "mistake"... looks trumping opinion on output... the need to box the activism of artists as "irrelevant"... Grimes, as a young recording and touring pop artist has seen this first hand since she released "Visions" last January, and even before. You don't even need to like "Visions" to understand the validity of this venting/letter/condemnation.
May she keep this post alive and well and undeleted. She is done touring for the moment and has started work on a new album.
The after-party to hits-rich 'Wolfgang Amadeus'
- Critic's Rating B
- Readers' Rating n/a
The singles on Phoenix’s new album “Bankrupt!” aren’t there like they were on breakout “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” but that doesn’t make this new album inferior to the previous. In fact, the French dance-rockers have a much deeper and dimensional coherence to sound than ever before, making this effort seem much more complete as an album, and not just a vehicle for hits.
Unibrows, impossible boots, dance-offs and the rodeo: This.
Here's what I'll tell you: I'd much rather watch videos like David Guetta, Ne-Yo and Akon's bizzaro "Play Hard" than a thousand others that feature girls in bikinis gyrating on a motorcylce and featured artists standing around trying to figure out what to do with their hands.
In this music video, there's a loose theme of blue-collar living in a primarily Latino population, and then there's spasms of camera work, dance segments, a rodeo, unibrows, twerking, impossible boots, a beauty pageant and toy cars. I can't explain much beyond "surreal," like Quentin Dupieux was given the car keys and told "Drive... there's a pile of stock characters in the back." Guetta, Ne-Yo and Akon (hilariously) all show up at different points, with Guetta giddily clapping at the end.
Arriving ahead of 'Random Access Memories'
- Critic's Rating A
- Readers' Rating A
The recently posted video interviews with Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories" collaborators have pointed to a humanism in the machines. "Get Lucky," the first single to arrive from Daft Punk's album encapsulates that idea. And it is awesome.
Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers' funky, pristine guitar line is as much the heartbeat as the disco-clap of the beat. Pharrell's sweet voice has a little desperation and love in the pre-chorus, batting above average than any song that's far more explicit in what constitutes "getting lucky." I don't find his vocals extraordinary, but I do find it slipping slinkily into this mix. The voice box tone intermingling with the similar synths playfully makes the programmed elements seem interchangeable with its most organic. And vice versa. Good times, and welcome back.
'I Want You' and 'Make Love to Me': WE GET THE IDEA
Song arrives from heavy band's first album in 35 years
It's been a heavy week. So get heavy.
Black Sabbath have about nine minutes of heavy in their brand new song "God Is Dead?" which is as dark as a song called "God Is Dead?" should sound.
And speaking of things that should sound a certain way, this is actually pretty decent. For anyone's whose body sort of tenses up whenever Ozzy's opened his mouth recently, this is a good competent (and comped) take, and producer Rick Rubin didn't end up ironing out all the imperfections, either. That watery, churning doom metal ache is there, three of the four original members are there (with Rage's Brad Wilk filling Bill Ward's shoes), and there's a series of guitar riffs I don't hate.
And it's first a question, "is God dead?", then a statement "God is dead" and ends with its ultimate title. Deep, man. The annoying "I HEART RADIO" promo will only serve to keep your mind from HELL.
"God Is Dead?" is the first song to arrive from Sabbath's new reunion record, lucky number "13," out on June 11. It's their first as a band in 35 years. They're going to make some spot tour stops in the U.S., dates below the clip.
Anthony Gonzalez should try, try again, though
I came out of "Oblivion" thoroughly entertained, though I think the film had a lot of flaws. It's the magical in-between of not flat-out disliking the movie, but feeling like my general values in plot and character were compromised for the sake of indulging in something lavishly beautiful. I wanted a plot, or a core, and it ended up being a film that felt only vaguely human and incredibly staged.
That's might also be the way I'd describe how I felt about Anthony Gonzalez and Joe Trapanese's score for "Oblivion," with partial credit going to Gonzalez' performing name M83. The estimated budget for "Oblivion" was $120 million, so you'd expect a musical backing just as big. But big doesn't have to mean bludgeoning, even if it's a clobbering in mystical, iPod-white, bleating drums and slick, metered electronica.
This is not to say M83's trademark is nuance and the movie didn't any room for any. I'm partial to Gonzalez' ability to heighten the mundane. I think Trapanese's work with Daft Punk on Joseph Kosinski's other recent sci-fi powerhouse "Tron Legacy" actually took that dance duo's strengths and made them into something specifically Hollywood, and in that case I liked it. And "Oblivion" had many opportunities to have a cool-headed, surgical moments with their thoughts, like when Tom Cruise's Jack gazed out at the Earth's altered landscape beside a potted plant, or when Andrea Riseborough's Victoria indulges in romantic, pool-bound foreplay, or when Jack prepares to meet his enemy.
In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Gonzalez revealed that the end-result was "frustrating," becoming a cooks-and-kitchen problem.
"They needed something bigger, more orchestral; it was hard for me to be told that my music was too indie for the film. I was pissed most of the time, but this is how it works. It's like, 'Take it or leave it.' And I took it," Gonzalez told the site.
The scale of the film, it seems, interfered with what M83 naturally does, which made it a little curious why Universal would tap him in the first place (the reach of M83's "Midnight City" makes this less curious: youth vote). Like Daft Punk, he hadn't extensive experience with arranging orchestras. The finished product didn't sound refreshingly updated on his sound, but more like a mash of Hans Zimmer's "Inception," "Tron" and even Don Davis' "Matrix" scores, films themselves that add to "Oblivion's" problems with redundancy. Maybe not a problem for an over-the-top script and exponentially outstanding visual effects, except that I hear no personality from Gonzalez and Trapanese combined.
Clint Mansell found this balance of organic orchestral scale and electronic sensuality with "Pi" and, ahem, "Moon." Air worked their wares perfectly with "Virgin Suicides," and Chemical Brothers in terrifically buoyant "Hanna." Thing is, these were made for a fraction of a $120 million budgets.
"I'm stressed out because I know people are going to hate the soundtrack so much because it's different," he continued. (Yeah, but different from what?) "People are going to expect a new album from M83, and that's not the case. But, I'm also super proud of it because Joe Trapanese and I worked so hard on it to make everybody happy at the studio."
And that's the hitch: as M83, he plays for himself, he plays for his fans. For $120 million budget movie, his audience is the studio. Or at least that's how it sounds, when you take all the damn reverb off and turn the choir down and give the horns section a break.
Gonzalez will get another shot, and play with scale again: he's scoring a small French film for his older brother next. Hopefully that will suit him better.