Frontier Psychiatrist

Archive for the ‘Band Profiles’ Category

Kreayshawn_Gucci Gucci_Mouse Ears

Kreayshawn performing “Gucci Gucci”

At some point, every good movement must die. Hippies eventually became less worried about the abuses of government in Vietnam, and more concerned with their retirement accounts. Horrified punks, emo kids and goths were forced to watch their carefully crafted identities become branded, packaged, and sold as Hot Topics sprang up in shopping malls around the country. Hip hop may be reaching its critical mass as we speak, as one-hit-wonder club rap is about the only marketable thing remaining in mainstream music. But with the advent of the internet, and in particular YouTube, new voices are given a chance to be heard, ultimately providing a platform to subvert, appropriate and innovate in whatever way they please. In the crossroads of hip hop and the shape of what’s to come, a number of YouTube emcees have added their voices to the mix. Alternately parodying and lionizing hip hop, these artists exalt the virtues, while lamenting the decline of the genre.

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Andrew Bird_Break It Yourself_Hands of Glory_Frontier Psychiatrist

Andrew Bird

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.

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Titus-Andronicus-Local-Business-Frontier Psychiatrist-Album Review

Titus Androniucs – Local Business

“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.

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Chicago_Wicker Park_Fall_Peter Lillis

Wicker Park in Autumn

Something clicked in October, and I found myself at eight shows in just 15 days, likely due to a mix of early onset Seasonal Affective Disorder and rise in tours before the end of the year. It’s a lot of music to consume, and while I’m still digesting it all, I’m already planning for more. Below are the eight shows I saw in the last two weeks. Below that are the nine shows I plan to see before the end of the month. Care to join?

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Ty Segall’s 2012, from left to right: Hair, Slaughterhouse, Twins

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.

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A$AP Rocky, Schoolboy Q, Danny Brown

A$AP Rocky, Schoolboy Q, Danny Brown on Tour

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.

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Lil Wayne_Elvis_Generation Y

Lil Wayne: The Face of a Generation

Last week, Lil Wayne surpassed Elvis Presley to become the single most charted performer on the Billboard Hot 100, with a total of 109 chartings. Because I like symbols and given my penchant for over-generalizations, I believe this moment speaks volumes about the present state of music and how much things have changed since the birth of rock and roll. And, for better or worse, it may be time to start considering Lil Wayne as the voice of our generation.

The mythologies of rock and roll have gradually dropped out of favor, as indie rock frontmen seem to embrace their everyman status (see Vulture’s recent piece on Grizzly Bear). But as the rock and roll mythology has died, so has risen the myth of hip hop figures. Past and present emcees like Jay-Z, Tupac, Nas and Kanye seem to have filled the void for oversized superstars. And, given his critical acclaim and high sales figures, Lil Wayne has earned his place in this pantheon.

The others each have their own role, (Nas the thug poet, Tupac the fatalist prophet, Jay-Z the cool businessman, Kanye the brooding narcissist) each with impeccable flow, each compelling characters and great storytellers in their own right. Lil Wayne does not fit easily into this mold. His trademark voice somehow simultaneously raspy and squeaky, he barely seems concerned with being coherent. What sets Lil Wayne apart is his way with words, simultaneously irreverent and playful. It is not Lil Wayne’s stories that are compelling but rather the story inside of his head. The man is an enigma. An alternately hilarious and head-scratching enigma.

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Sons of Dionysus


A Transmedia Novel of Myth, Mirth, and the Magical Excess of Youth.