Posts tagged “music”
Robert Caplin for The New York Times
Philip Galanes, interviewing Cyndi Lauper and David Byrne in Greenwich:
PG: Was there struggle at the beginning of the Talking Heads?
CL: (singing) “This ain’t no foolin’ around.”
DB: It was a slow step by step, like on a ladder, and doing tours in a station wagon.
CL: That sucks.
DB: But there was never a rejection or a sense that this is not connecting. It was always connecting to a certain group of people. That’s good. Now let’s see if we can get it to another level.
CL: I was told I sang like a rat, but I didn’t care because I felt so great when I sang. I didn’t give a damn what anyone else said.
DB: And our connection with the audience seemed real and heartfelt. They really did care about us. They weren’t going because they had been told by some advertising agency.
CL: They didn’t stand in the back yelling “Free Bird”?
DB: Yes, they did that, too. But I think about what Cyndi was saying, there were periods, later on, when I would think: Oh, I’m no longer flavor of the month. What happens now? I think I’m still writing good songs, maybe even better songs. I’m more in control of my voice, it’s not that strangled squeak anymore. And I was willing to accept that people might go, “You sing good now, but we liked it when you sang bad.”
Elliott Smith died ten years ago yesterday (Oct 21, 2003). I hadn’t listened to his music in quite a while, though played through a number of his tracks last night. They hold up — and pretty promptly sent me back a decade. Pitchfork has created a well-designed, well-written, thorough ‘oral history’ of his music.
What follows is not an oral history of his life, but of his music; specifically, his solo career. The lines between life and music are tangled, of course, in ways that aren’t neatly prizable, and darker stories eventually creep into the frame at the edges. But the arc traced here begins with the emergence of That Voice: the flowering of his talent, the development of the intimate, inscrutable folk-pop he would mine for the rest of his career. That discovery dovetails with the dissolution of his first band, the loud-rocking Heatmiser. In some ways the development of the former triggered the latter. The story told here begins at this hinge point, as Smith begins exploring the possibilities of his fiercely intimate four-track solo recordings that would pull him away from Heatmiser and, eventually, into the national spotlight.
For those who knew him personally, the task of speaking for Elliott Smith wavers between privilege and burden. Many of the 18 people who spoke to me—bandmates, producers, managers, friends—emerged hesitantly, stepping gingerly over their own profound misgivings, issuing grave caveats. They’d been burned before, they warned me. They swore they’d never speak again. The story of their self-imposed silence, and their individual choices to break it or hold it, runs in powerful counterpoint to Smith’s own story. Some of the singer’s closest associates have simply declined to go on record: Having been prodded multiple times, they have understandably snapped shut. Some are speaking now for the first time. The combination of profound ambivalence and fierce conviction in their voices, as they opened themselves up, was chastening.
The Atlantic’s got a nice list of remembrances, some of which are new or new to the internet.
David Byrne, in an editorial at Creative Time Reports:
Some folks believe that hardship breeds artistic creativity. I don’t buy it. One can put up with poverty for a while when one is young, but it will inevitably wear a person down. I don’t romanticize the bad old days. I find the drop in crime over the last couple of decades refreshing. Manhattan and Brooklyn, those vibrant playgrounds, are way less scary than they were when I moved here. I have no illusions that there was a connection between that city on its knees and a flourishing of creativity; I don’t believe that crime, danger and poverty make for good art. That’s bullshit. But I also don’t believe that the drop in crime means the city has to be more exclusively for those who have money. Increases in the quality of life should be for all, not just a few.
The city is a body and a mind—a physical structure as well as a repository of ideas and information. Knowledge and creativity are resources. If the physical (and financial) parts are functional, then the flow of ideas, creativity and information are facilitated. The city is a fountain that never stops: it generates its energy from the human interactions that take place in it. Unfortunately, we’re getting to a point where many of New York’s citizens have been excluded from this equation for too long. The physical part of our city—the body—has been improved immeasurably. I’m a huge supporter of the bike lanes and the bike-share program, the new public plazas, the waterfront parks and the functional public transportation system. But the cultural part of the city—the mind—has been usurped by the top 1 percent.
One part Peanuts comic strip, one part Smiths lyrics. One hundred percent hilarious. See more here.
I am very excited about a new Arcade Fire album. So is rest of the music-loving world… and the entirety of the internet. Yay.
Volcano Choir's new album is coming in September. In the meantime, tide yourself over with Byegone.
Also, a crazy video directed by David Lynch for the new NIN track.
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes: NIN - Came Back Haunted →
Happy Monday morning. First up, from Volcano Choir, a teaser of a new album and a new song.
Next, a free EP from David Byrne and Annie Clark. The page requires flash to download the EP (boo!).
New Boards of Canada (!!!): Reach for the Dead →
Do the kids even know about Boards of Canada? The new album, Tomorrow’s Harvest, is due out June 11. Exciting.
The band’s sixth album, Trouble Will Find Me is out May 20/21.
This shouldn’t work, but Baldwin nails it. Listen below or read the transcript here.
Stumbled upon this on accident earlier today. Hilarious. One sample below, more available here.
I made little cheese cracker sandwiches as I watched Bon Iver make perfect blocks of butter that he’d just finished churning. The candle light found a home in his eyes as he took off his apron.
“Its amazing how one thing becomes another with just a little effort”, I purred as I kissed his forehead. I barely noticed him tremble as my lips touched his cool skin.
“It’s amazing how something becomes nothing without any effort at all”, was all he said before walking off into the rain. Now all I have left is butter. Until it spoils.
Shankar at Monterey Pop
From the NYT Obituary:
“If I’ve accomplished anything in these past 30 years,” Mr. Shankar said in the 1985 interview, “it’s that I have been able to open the door to our music in the West. I enjoy seeing other Indian musicians — old and young — coming to Europe and America and having some success. I’m happy to have contributed to that.
“Of course now there is a whole new generation out there, so we have to start all over again. To a degree their interest in India has been kindled by ‘Gandhi,’ ‘Passage to India’ and ‘The Jewel in the Crown.’ What we have to do now is convey to them an awareness of the richness and diversity of our culture.”
DB and St. Vincent discussed their album, their collective powerless apartments, and their use of showers in Brooklyn. Colbert suggested the three of them shower together in his office. And that SV and DB were eseentially dating.
The interview was hilariously awkward, with Colbert being Colbert, DB being DB, and Annie looking uncomfortable. It’s awesome, as were their performances on the show.
YouTube: Bon Iver Live at Radio City Music Hall →
Don’t miss this — Bon Iver’s recent concert at Radio City Music Hall, broadcast live and now on YouTube (for two days only). A great setlist (below) and an outstanding performance.
Setlist: Perth / Minnesota, WI / Creature Fear / Hinnom, TX / Wash. / Brackett, WI / Holocene / Blood Bank / Woods / Towers / Michicant / Calgary / Beth/Rest // Encore: Skinny Love / The Wolves (Act I & II) / For Emma
Update: The Bowery pulled down the full video. Check out eight songs here.
A beautifully written piece from Zadie Smith for the NYT:
But asking why rappers always talk about their stuff is like asking why Milton is forever listing the attributes of heavenly armies. Because boasting is a formal condition of the epic form. And those taught that they deserve nothing rightly enjoy it when they succeed in terms the culture understands. Then something changed: “As I started getting life experiences, I realized my power was in conveying emotions that people felt.” He compared himself to a comedian whose jokes trigger this reaction: “Yo, that’s so true.” He started storytelling — people were mesmerized. “Friend or Foe” (1996), which concerns a confrontation between two hustlers, is rap in its masterful, full-blown, narrative form. Not just a monologue, but a story, complete with dialogue, scene setting, characterization. Within its comic flow and light touch — free from the relentless sincerity of Tupac — you can hear the seeds of 50, Lil Wayne, Eminem, so many others. “That was the first one where it was so obvious,” Jay noted. He said the song represented an important turning point, the moment when he “realized I was doing it.”
At times he restricts himself formally, like the Oulipo, that experimental French literary group of the 1960s. In the song “22 Two’s,” from 1996, we get 22 delicious plays on the words “too” and “two.”
Ten years later, the sequel, “44 Fours,” has the same conceit, stepped up a gear. “Like, you know, close the walls in a bit smaller.” Can he explain why? “I think the reason I still make music is because of the challenge.” He doesn’t believe in relying solely on one’s natural gifts. And when it comes to talent, “You just never know — there is no gauge. You don’t see when it’s empty.”
Photo by Andreas Laszlo Konrath
Impossibly good looking super-musicians David Byrne and Annie Clark have been making small rounds discussing their collaborative effort Love this Giant.
There is very little eye contact made in a room with David Byrne and Annie Clark in it. Seated a healthy distance apart from each other on a SoHo studio couch, the pair genially trade compliments and jokes, but their restless eyeballs seldom, if ever, light on each other’s, as if the energy exchange involved in a head-on glance might scorch their fragile nerve endings. Byrne’s legs joggle constantly, his hands clutching absently at the green fabric of his pants when he is lost for words, while Clark, carefully sipping water with her legs arranged neatly beneath her, gives thoughtful answers from beneath the partial shade of an artful hat.
On what they admire in each other’s work:
DB: I know I’m not the first to remark on this, but I hear an acceptance of melody without any fear in Annie’s work, which isn’t totally common in up-and-coming musicians. But these beautiful melodies are often undercut by very creepy or disturbing subject matter. When I met Annie, I complimented her on how disturbing her video was.
AC: David is capable of so many shades and moods, and one of them is a rare combination of paranoid mania and ecstatic joy. It’s a really unmistakable, singular tone. He also has an ability, lyrically and musically, to talk about or address big subjects in a way that never feels pretentious or lofty. David never seems to be suffering from a dearth of creative energy. It takes many forms, but he doesn’t seem to be a nostalgic person. He always wants to be moving forward. That’s inspiring.
David Byrne on being David Byrne:
I feel like I’m a fairly boring, almost well-adjusted person. But I am fascinated by extreme mental states. I love outsider art from people who are making up their own worlds, exposing some part of human life that would be really uncomfortable for most of us. Or they do something that touches some part of you and you go, “I recognize this person is probably out of their fucking mind, but I recognize that part in myself, too.”
And, of course, stream the whole album at NPR.
Anti- records has posted the first track from The Antlers’ Undersea EP at SoundCloud (embedded below). Combines all that lovely, layered ambience they are so good at with a wee bit less melancholy. Can’t wait for this EP.
Update: NPR has posted a second track as part of their Summer Music Preview.