Here I am, listening to m b v for the umpteenth time since Saturday night, and I still can’t believe it exists. Up until last week, I had grown used to “the Loveless follow-up” as a punchline in hipster water-cooler conversation, a tall tale in the canon of guitar-rock mythology. But now, after two decades of broken promises, My Bloody Valentine’s fabled third LP is here. And I can dance to it. And it shows up on iTunes like everything else. This can’t be happening. Read more »
It’s only a matter of time before British R&B-pop sensation Jessie Ware outgrows the small, cozy Rickshaw Stops of the music world. Last Thursday, at her first-ever SF show, Ware’s commanding, poised performance showed massive potential, more befitting of a full-on diva for the 21st century than a blog-popster du jour.
While her stateside popularity hasn’t yet caught up to her reputation across the pond, Ware captured the full attention of the indie-music press with her debut LP, Devotion, released last year. Influenced by her earlier work with producers like SBTRKT, the album demonstrated a level of artfulness and musical nuance, atypical of your average vocal pop album. Much like Katy B and AlunaGeorge, Ware has raised eyebrows by integrating big, upfront, Sade-esque vocals into the music-first world of bloggy electronica.
YEAR IN MUSIC Are we being punked? Is this all some kind of stupid joke?
Upon first listen, the sound-world of Berlin-London duo Hype Williams (not the music-video director, mind you) is practically guaranteed to provoke a bewildered response. Incorporating half-baked hooks, brutishly cut-and-pasted samples, apathetic vocals, inept musicianship, crude effects, and grainy production into a gnarled, genreless mishmash, its approach gives off a superficial whiff of laziness and inconsequence.Read more »
When pop crooner Scott Walker plunged into the abyss on 1995’s Tilt, he initiated one of the most radical transformations in the history of recorded music, rejecting the tuneful chamber pop of his '60s-’70s output for a pitch-black sludge of musique concrète, avant-classical, and industrial art-rock. Walker hasn't looked back since, doubling down with 2005’s The Drift, and now Bish Bosch: an album as erratic, scary, unhinged, darkly hilarious, and wildly imaginative as any in recent memory. Read more »
The liner notes to Brian Eno’s Music for Airports (1978) act as a veritable Ambient Manifesto, outlining the philosophy of a genre he developed as an alternative to Muzak, and other background fluff. In the final sentence, he asserted, “Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” By that count, Eno’s solo Warp debut, LUX, is his most successful foray into ambient territory in quite some time. Read more »
MUSIC After a decade of tinkering on the fringes of lo-fi experimentalism, Ariel Pink has become synonymous with a distinctive production sensibility: submerging effortless, sun-drenched pop hooks in a queasy, viscous haze, like an impulsive, basement-dwelling Phil Spector for the 21st century.Read more »
You could say Fiona Apple belongs to an endangered species. One of the heavyweights in a lineage of 1990s major-label iconoclasts, dedicated to the conceptual potential of the album format, (Bjork, Spiritualized, PJ Harvey, Nine Inch Nails) Apple has built a 15-year career on making approachable, yet arty, pop music with indie-label integrity, and an undercurrent of fringe appeal.
After making a big splash with the sultry music-video to her first hit single, “Criminal” (1996), she shrewdly abandoned any MTV-vixen ambitions, in favor of foregrounding her musical and lyrical ability, and her remarkably versatile, jazz-inflected vocal range; as a result, she’s one of the few artists of her generation to transition from stardom to cult status, and not the other way around. Read more »
After releasing their self-titled debut LP to cultish acclaim in 2000, Bay Area hip-hop supergroup Deltron 3030 mysteriously dropped off the radar for over a decade, resulting in borderline Chinese Democracy levels of superfan speculation. Now, with their follow-up, Deltron Event II, finished and slated for release this fall, the trio is going all out on their first North American tour since the project’s revival. Read more »
Surveying the rabid Skrillex crowd, I felt old for one of the first times in my life. Like, John McCain, “get off my lawn” old. Who the hell was this mall punk with a Miley Cyrus haircut, anyway? What, in God’s name, has he inflicted upon the music world? And why, oh why, did this hoard of tweens, bros, and “cool-dads” choose to undergo Skrillex’s sonic weedwacking, instead of running into the arms of living-legend Stevie Wonder? Read more »