Taylor Kaplan

Hey SF, RZA is coming

|
()

The Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, and his highly influential production sound, are much too easily taken for granted. You’ve got his Minnie-Ripperton-on-helium tape speeding methods, to which Kanye will forever be indebted; the filthy, resinous 36 Chambers aesthetic that’s informed everyone from MF Doom to Portishead; his prophetic, narrative skits that have irreversibly shaped the dynamics of the hip-hop album.

Even after 20 years in the biz, the Staten Island icon and famed kung-fu fetishist continues to shepherd the hip-hop form in bold, new directions. Expect RZA to reinforce his prestige when he takes the Mezzanine stage this Thursday, with a full live band in tow. Read more »

Inspired pairing: Woods and Peaking Lights at Great American Music Hall

|
()

“Man, their songs just went on forever,” a fellow in a Velvet Underground shirt exclaimed with mild frustration, as electronic-dub outfit Peaking Lights closed their hour-long set. Similarly to Steve Reich, Neu!, or (ironically, in this case) the VU, the Madison, Wis. duo is quite polarizing in its fixation on extreme repetition. Some find it tedious; others are hypnotized and transported. However, there’s no denying that Peaking Lights’ appeal stems from their disregard for compromise.

Warming up the Great American Music Hall stage for Brooklyn lo-fi folk-rock ensemble Woods, Peaking Lights rounded out the first half of an unusually diverse and compelling double-bill. Whereas a one-two punch of rock bands can impart a distracting sense of competition and redundancy, the decision to pair an acoustic-electric band with an electronic duo was a shrewd one, giving the audience a duality of musical methods to chew on. Read more »

Underworld's dynamic opening ceremony soundtrack

|
()

Much has been made of London’s opening ceremony, and director Danny Boyle’s cheeky rejection of Beijing’s rigidly coordinated, assembly-line approach. (Seriously, will Queen Elizabeth and James Bond ever share the screen again?) Completely overlooked, however, was the dynamic, propulsive soundtrack, curated by Underworld: the unsung heroes of British electronic music. Read more »

Shearwater descends on Bottom of the Hill

|
()

Back in 2008, someone at a Shearwater show in Chicago posted a shaky video to YouTube, in which the Austin-based ensemble covered Talk Talk’s “The Rainbow," the ambitiously panoramic opening track from the seminal Spirit of Eden (1988).

Not only did the 10-minute clip showcase a band masterfully replicating a piece of music, previously determined by its creator to be unplayable in a live setting; it demonstrated just how far Shearwater has come since its beginnings in 2001 as a quiet, low-key spinoff of alt-country institution Okkervil River. Read more »

Full-flavored beer talk with Russian River Brewing Co.

|
()

Over the past 30 years, California microbrew has conquered niche markets and infiltrated the mainstream in its evolution from “social lubricant” to “serious, artisanal product.” Arguably, no individual is more responsible for this spirit of innovation than Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Company, based in Santa Rosa. Read more »

Like an Eric Andre in a china shop

|
()

What’s to be anticipated when Adult Swim’s most degenerate program hits the road? On Monday night, a sold-out crowd filled the Rickshaw Stop, ready for just about anything short of a Mitt Romney endorsement.

A love letter to the Reddit-surfing, bong-ripping, Flying Lotus-bumping demographic, The Eric Andre Show stampedes through its weekly, 15-minute time-slot with reckless abandon and utter perversity, hanging onto its “talk-show” descriptor by a single Funyun. If Pete & Pete, Hype Williams, and Gary Busey invested in a sleazy public-access channel, transmitted from the bowels of Suave Ben’s house in Blue Velvet, The Eric Andre Show would be its flagship broadcast.

Read more »

Are these the 10 best albums of the year so far?

|
()

What vibrant musical times we’re living in! The year is halfway done, and we’re already up to our neck in more great albums than we know what to do with. Naturally, a list of 10 required a few sacrifices (apologies, in particular, to Fiona Apple, Burial, and Spiritualized), but here you have it: a handful of the most interesting, most forward-thinking, most compulsively listenable records of 2012 so far. Read more »

THEESatisfaction communicates its boldly cosmic agenda at the Independent

|
()

Amid the reign of Kanye, it can be easy to overlook the humble beginnings of hip-hop: a populist genre designed to be executed with minimal resources. Seattle duo THEESatisfaction’s reverence for this history was on full display at the Independent last Friday night, as they “turned off the swag” to deliver a remarkably unadorned performance, in support of the acclaimed awE naturalE, released earlier this year. Two microphones and a MacBook were all Catherine Harris-White and Stasia Irons needed to communicate their boldly cosmic agenda. Read more »

Glass on Glass: an extended interview with the composer

|
()

Few living composers can claim more influence over the landscape of modern classical music than Philip Glass. A glance at his expansive discography — comprised of symphonies, operas, ballets, film scores, and a broad range of collaborative efforts — reveals a restlessly creative artist, with little regard for categorization. Even after turning 75 earlier this year, Glass continues to work as prolifically as ever.

The latest installment in Glass' storied career finds the composer joining forces with acclaimed singer-songwriter-harpist Joanna Newsom, for an exclusive, one-off performance Mon/25 to benefit Big Sur's Henry Miller Memorial Library.

In a phone conversation with the Guardian last week, from his home in Manhattan, Glass detailed the evolution of his creative alliance with Newsom, his burning desire to work with Ornette Coleman and Wynton Marsalis, his likeness to Brian Eno, and his refusal to be labeled a "minimalist", among a host of other topics.

Our interview was much too extensive for Wednesday's feature to contain, so read on for more words of wisdom from Glass.

Read more »

Philip Glass and Joanna Newsom's one-off concert to save the Henry Miller Memorial Library

|
()

He's worked with the likes of Ravi Shankar, Leonard Cohen, Woody Allen, and Allen Ginsberg. Next week, one of the most influential living composers, Philip Glass, will add singer-songwriter-celebrated harpist Joanna Newsom to his list of collaborators. Read more »