Music

Do make drone

Thirty years of Big City Orchestra's bent circuits, Beatlerape, and popcorn sounds

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MUSIC "One, 1,000 ... two, 1,000 ... three, 1,000 ..." I'm counting down the seconds, by phone, between rare Bay Area lightning flash and thunderbolt with dAS, experimental composer and core member of Big City Orchestra. He's at the 30-year-old noise-collage collective's studio in Alameda, preparing for the BCO radio show, ubRadio, streamed live every Wednesday afternoon through a Web site in Amsterdam. "Maybe I'll just put a box of microphones out in the storm today," dAS says with a chuckle, to catch the air's anticipatory crackleRead more »

Jay Reatard, 1980-2010

Even those turned off by his surly stage persona admired the garage rock hero
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MUSIC "It rocks, dude. Start to finish. Top to bottom." This was my brother's earnest recommendation of Blood Visions (In the Red), Jay Reatard's incendiary 2006 solo debut and the record that, in the year or so following its release, startled me and many others into awareness of this Memphis punk auteur's mesmerizing fury. Only a few years later, he has passed on, and no matter how many people he offended, slagged off, or punched out, it's such a damn shame that he's gone.Read more »

The mighty uke

The ukulele darts back into the musical spotlight, lickety-split

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MUSIC The ukulele has gone viral, again, via YouTube phenomena like the adorable Uke Kid and virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, who both perform interpretations of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" — originally by George Harrison, himself a professed uke-aholic.Read more »

Flashing lights

DECADE IN MUSIC: 10 years on the Bay Area dance floor -- and still looking fantastic!
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Guardian illustration of DJ AM, Daft Punk, and Steve Aoki by Matt Furie and Aiyana Udesen

DECADE IN MUSIC Good lord. Who can remember all the strobe-lit twists and turns that Bay Area nightlife slid down in the past decade? Even if I wasn't utterly and gloriously hung over from 10 years of being 86ed, it would still be a sweat-drenched, dry-iced, hypnotic blear. That's a lovely thing. Read more »

2009 = 1989

DECADE IN MUSIC: The end of this decade sings a love song to the end of a decade past
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Guardian illustration of Cold Cave's Wesley Eisold, Robert Smith, and Crocodile's Brandon Welchez by Matt Furie and Aiyana Udesen

2009, will you be mine — my bloody valentine to 1989? More than once this year I've felt the effect of a 20-year loop. This sensation wasn't quite déjà vu, but more a sense that the underground sounds of my youth were returning, slightly transformed, as outer-reach themes for another generation. Read more »

False Idols

DECADE IN MUSIC: Pop went meta, exposing its gaga machinery
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Guardian illustration of the Jonas Brothers by Matt Furie and Aiyana Udesen

DECADE IN MUSIC Forget what you've heard: stars aren't born — they're made. Pop music over the past decade has been defined by the music industry, with standout stars manufactured to be, well, standout stars. We've reached the point where the biggest names are chosen by reality TV, the media, and, more often than not, the Disney corporation.

Does that sound cynical? Read more »

Some kind of mastodon

DECADE IN MUSIC: Out of the rap-rock toilet and into the fire — the decade in metal
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Guardian illustration of Mastodon's Brent Hinds, Dimebag Darrell, and Metallica's Lars Ulrich by Matt Furie and Aiyana Udesen

DECADE IN MUSIC When Limp Bizkit took the stage at Woodstock '99, its sophomore album, Significant Other (Interscope/MCA), had been in stores for a month, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Read more »

The breakdown

DECADE IN MUSIC: A hyped-up digital decade stung by its own long tail
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Guardian illustration of Rihana, Lady Gaga, and Britney Spears by Matt Furie and Aiyana Udesen

DECADE IN MUSIC The long-tail slither of the ugly aughts connected umpteen memes: from the rise and fall of Napster to the triumph of "freemium" and the tragedy of the commons, Britney's vanilla titillations to the haute couture blandishments of Lady Gaga, the funky vulture schematics of Beck to the smoky heroin whispers of Amy Winehouse, the Cristal-fueled corporatism of Read more »

Nothing like it

DECADE IN MUSIC: From mob to hyphy to crack -- the decade in Bay Area rap
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Guardian illustration of E-40, Mac Dre, and Mistah F.A.B. by Matt Furie and Aiyana Udesen

Crack baby anthem, you can feel this music — Mistah F.A.B., "Crack Baby Anthem," from Baydestrian (SMC, 2007)

DECADE IN MUSIC In retrospect, it's easy to see 1999 as the end of Bay Area rap's glory. The '90s mob music era was pretty good around here. Too Short had paved the way from releasing local discs to landing a major deal. Read more »

You ought-sa know

DECADE IN MUSIC: A tawdry, tuneful timeline of the last decade
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FEBRUARY 2000

Christina Aguilera defeats Britney Spears in the Battle of the Midriff-Baring Blondes (i.e., wins the Best New Artist Grammy). The first words of her acceptance speech are "Oh my god, you guys!"

APRIL 2000

Pop goes the world: 'N SYNC sells 2.4 million copies of No Strings Attached (Jive) in its first week of release, a sales record which still stands. Read more »