Archive for June 2011
Is it just me and the rest of the internet, or has 2011 been a year of game changers? We’ve seen a lot of great, forward thinking tunes come down the pipe, and it’s only (almost) July. Ishmael Butler—formerly Butterfly of Digable Planets, now Palaceer Lazaro of Shabazz Palaces—has put another wrinkle in the already more complex year. Their debut album Black Up, out now on Sub Pop, will be a serious contender for hip hop album of the year.
How do baseball players catch fly balls? Is Mel Gibson really Anti-Semitic? Are murderers culpable for their crimes? Did Pink Floyd read Carl Jung?
These are some of the questions raised in Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, a new book in which David Eagleman blends his expertise as a neuroscientist with his skill as a fiction writer to produce a lively primer on brain science for the layperson. Imagine a talk show hosted by Oliver Sacks and Nick Hornby (or the editors of Frontier Psychiatrist).
Eagleman is best known for Sum, a short story collection that ponders the existence of God. In Incognito, he turns to the secular and argues that our notion of reality is a fiction. We believe we control our bodies and minds when in fact we’re slaves to our brains, which dictate not only how we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch, but how we act, feel, and think. Forget objective reality. Forget God. Forget the soul. Forget free will. What we call existence occurs within a three-pound ball of nerves, mostly without our awareness. If our brains are ships, our conscious minds are mere passengers, oblivious to the complex mechanisms that ferry us across the sea of life.
If you have ever written off eggs as basic or boring, I have a secret to tell you: eating truly fresh eggs can be a transformational experience. It’s like taking a bite of a perfect June strawberry that reminds you what real strawberries taste like. In that same way, farm-fresh eggs just taste eggy-er. The yolks are vibrant, creamy, and rich, and the whole egg just cooks up plumper and more flavorful.
And those who think that eggs can only be scrambled, fried, or poached are surely missing out. Sure, a fried farm-fresh egg is pretty tasty, but the fun is in finding new ways to use them in recipes, and the key is making sure they’re always the star of the show.
So, how to make the most of a super fresh egg? I’m personally quite partial to the gooeyness of an unbroken yolk, and I think you lose a lot of the distinct fresh flavor when you scramble an egg or use it for baking. I recently went to Blue Hill at Stone Barns where eggs are their signature on a (life-altering) meal. And with good reason. These eggs are incredible. They come straight from the chickens that I visited after my meal, and they have more flavor than any egg I’ve tasted anywhere else. The secret, I’m sure, has to do with the way the chickens are raised and fed, but also with the true farm to table feature of this meal. Of course, we can’t all eat at farms every time we want an egg, but picking up a dozen at your local farmer’s market is a good compromise.
(Yesterday, inspired by Fucked Up’s new concept double-album David Comes to Life, we set about charting the history of the ambitious impulse in punk rock. Today, we continue the series up to the present day. You can read the first part of the column here. We pick up in 1988 with one of rock music’s greatest landmarks.)
Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation (1988)
Yet another record about which there is little to say that hasn’t already been said. Allow me to make just a few assertions:
1) Sonic Youth is the most important American band since the Beach Boys (you heard me), and Daydream Nation is their undisputed masterpiece. It has in fact been preserved in the Library of Congress.
2) Sonic Youth is a punk band. While “experimental” and “noise rock” are the terms used most often to describe them, I challenge you to imagine a world in which the late-70s CBGB’s scene never occurred but Sonic Youth still exists. You can’t. Read the rest of this entry »
Three weeks ago, the six-piece Canadian punk band Fucked Up released David Comes to Life, a record which is likely to stand as their magnum opus and one of the best of 2011. It’s an 18-song, 77-minute epic about a lightbulb factory worker named David who falls in love with a young activist named Veronica, only to watch her die in a grand protest, blame himself for her death, meet a woman named Vivian who was witness to her death, meet a man named Octavio who was likely to blame, and ultimately reach acceptance and redemption. Each of the four characters acts as narrator at some point, in the tradition of The Sound and The Fury or Rashomon.
How did punk rock get here? Read the rest of this entry »
Fifteen-year-old Björk performing with KUKL, one of her first bands. I guarantee you weren’t this talented when you were in high school. And for those of you who speak Icelandic, there’s an interview with band member Einar Örn Benediktsson after the song.
In the previous entry in this series, we pointed out how Winter 2011 had been a largely regressive period for indie music. By contrast, the Spring has proven overwhelmingly innovative. Bands like tUnE-yArDs and Battles have brought a sense of adventure to traditional indie pop, and Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon has continued his career-long project to re-invent folk music with his latest classic.
Still, amidst all the newness, sometimes we all need some musical comfort food. Such is the role of the cover tune, that lightning bolt to your hippocampus, that three-minute psychic hug. While some of Spring’s best copies were in adventurous harmony with the rest of the season, many others evoked the simplicity of youth as only a distant memory can. Without further ado, we bring you our top 5 cover songs of Spring 2011. Read the rest of this entry »