Archive for the ‘Music’ Category
Posted November 13, 2012on:
In addition to being one of the most talented pop musicians of his or any generation, Andrew Bird is a damn hard worker. As a solo artist, he has completed at least 10 releases since 2003’s Weather Systems, including instrumental albums, live compilations and EPs on top of five full-lengths. His loop-based compositions are a sight and sound to behold, and Birdman has built an impressive reputation as one of the most imaginative and original performers of the genre formerly known as indie rock. Not content to rest on his laurels, Birdman is wrapping up a most successful, prolific and affecting 2012 with his second full-length in seven months, Hands of Glory.
Billed as a companion piece to March’s superb Break It Yourself, Hands of Glory is Bird at his most reserved yet exploratory. Allowing himself the freedom of live recording and stripped down arrangements, Bird’s mastery and passion to rise to the top. From Hands of Glory’s opening track “Three White Horses”, it’s clear Bird has taken the saying “less is more” to heart. Maybe it was that tasty tomato bread we served him last summer at Celebrate Brooklyn.
Seriously, three cheers for the old guys. In an era where hype machine blog year-end top ten lists are often chock-full of buzz band debut albums, let us not forget that Rolling Stone is sometimes right. 2012 has seen great albums from the likes of baby boomer mainstays Dr. John, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and Jimmy Cliff. Despite their age, these artists have somehow managed to adapt their style to the contemporary music world while still creating a product that is very much their own.
“Okay, I think by now we’ve established that everything is inherently worthless, and there is nothing in the universe with any kind of objective purpose.” Thus opens Local Business, the newest record from New Jersey punk band Titus Andronicus, out today on XL Recordings. The record picks up where The Monitor—their flawless Ken Burns-esque Civil War concept record—left off: a nation/central character ravaged by the polarized nature of the contemporary world finally comes to terms with its elemental duality, only to be faced with the next daunting phase of adulthood. Local Business explores the personal reconstruction after a monumental crisis, and how to define responsibility in a world more interested in gross sales than personal integrity. Oh yeah, and guitar solos.
If The Monitor is the punk rock soundtrack of the Civil War—as it most obviously is—Local Business is the Industrial Revolution. As industry continued to spread from the northeast throughout the country and the world, the Western doctrine of capitalism came into its own, finally giving our nation an identity separate from Great Britain ’s little brother. Similarly, after a tumultuous young adulthood, Patrick Stickles and band have found tangible success and buzz, and they now realize they have work to do in order to grow (or just sustain) their presence and reputation. Opting for a more classic pub rock sound and a significantly less overblown recording process, Local Business finds Titus Andronicus establishing their identity within the scene.
Ty Segall knows how to save the best for last. Twins—out this week on Chicago’s Drag City Records—is the third Segall-related release of the year, and his solo follow-up to last year’s breakout Goodbye Bread. The most enigmatic and schizophrenic rocker this side of Jack White, Segall has delivered a piece that flawlessly combines his stoner heavy blues jams with his British Invasion psych-pop gems with his punk ragers. A contender for Artist of the Year, Segall takes a serious step towards stardom on Twins.
Far more concise yet diverse than his previous two records of 2012, Twins is a pop behemoth, with moments as terrifying as they are sweet. While “polished” isn’t quite the right word, the production value is purposefully raised here, adding a commanding bottom with both clean and highly distorted guitars. The result is Segall’s most accessible album to date without sacrificing any of his edge.
The current A$AP Mob, Schoolboy Q, and Danny Brown tour offers a stark contrast to the clashing hip-hop collectives of the 1990s. Today’s relationship between East Coast and West Coast hip-hop is no Biggie-Tupac, taste-defining argument. Harlem’s A$AP Mob, led by self-labeled “pretty boy” A$AP Rocky, actually collaborates with L.A. Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) artists, including rappers like Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar. Danny Brown, the, hard-nosed spitfire lyricist, the dude from Detroit with the goofy hair and an unnaturally long tongue, is the always-in-a-good-mood wildcard whose Detroit roots split the difference between the coasts.