A year before Mitch Hedberg’s death in 2005, one reviewer described the comedian’s deteriorating and increasingly drug-addled stand-up act thus: “Commenting that he liked drugs, especially Xanax, but he was happy with anything, several small pills found their way to the stage, at least one of which he swallowed after mumbling, ‘What is this?’ He sat back down on the stage and became the picture of a drunken, washed up loser.”
Recently turned 24-year-old Meghan McCain, blogging Columbia grad with a taste for thick eyeliner and Art Brut, published a children’s book about her father John, who just so happens to be running for president. Thirty-odd pages of facetious dreck best described as dumbed-down propaganda. Meghan might be a cultured and well-educated girl, but her writing debut is trash. Troublingly, Meghan’s book isn’t simply a crass attempt to cash in on her dad. Rather, the erstwhile SNL intern genuinely tried to write a paean to her father, failing miserably. To think I kind of liked her.
Four years ago, of Montreal emerged from a series of bouncy, acoustic concept albums with Satanic Panic, a mixture of catchy surf rock, electronic psychedelia and peculiar language. Last year, however, of Montreal did something completely out of character and charted with the acclaimed Hissing Fauna, a dense, darkly contemplative concept album with a synth-heavy Best of Bowie glam sound. Kevin Barnes, the band’s multi-talented frontman, even introduced his complementary ‘70s rock persona Georgie Fruit, a transgendered black man with a propensity for performing completely nude.
Paying for music is so anachronistic it’s practically shameful. Buying a song on iTunes is one thing, especially if one is drunk. But ambling into Wal-Mart and setting down $25 (or whatever) for the newest Weezer album with four disarming quasi-adults splayed across the cover, is an exercise in misplaced nostalgia. Sorry guys, there are more interesting tchotchkes to waste money on.
Last year Radiohead, a multiplatinum act, did what smalltimers have been doing for years now: distribute an entire album online for free. Freeish. You had to pay, but you decided how much. Why, you could even go “Fuck you, Thom!” and pay nothing!
Titus Andronicus has enjoyed an especially prosperous run since opening for Matt and Kim in Risley last October. In addition to touring across the eastern seaboard in January, the Glen Rock, N.J. five-piece recorded their full-length debut LP, The Airing of Grievances, at the famously water-damaged Marcata Recording studio in colonial New Paltz.
The album is a fast-paced nine-track ordeal fueled as much by breakneck electric instrumentation as it is by enigmatic frontman “Angry” Patrick Stickles’ growling vocals. Lyrically, Stickles’ songwriting efforts combine the honesty and ambition of ancient indie-pop acts with a distinctly hardcore bent (owning to the band’s roots in North Jersey’s infamous “Money Scene”).
Once the tender Velvet Underground fan who fronted the Modern Lovers, Jonathan Richman has enjoyed, over the past two decades, a fruitful career in modern adult contemporary music. In his 11th solo release, Because Her Beauty is Raw and Wild, Jonathan proves he can still harness the brilliant musicianship of his younger days.
Less than two years ago, a group of Cardiff University students and their friends bonded over a mutual understanding of LiveJournals, music festivals, and Super Furry Animals. Together, they formed Los Campesinos! (“The Peasants!”), and embarked on a journey that has taken them from the student union to transcontinental notoriety in a very short period of time.
While the songs are as eclectic, smart and energetic as ever, self-categorized underground Gypsy punk rockers Gogol Bordello seem to have lost a measure of precision. The bulk of Super Taranta!’s songs begin with catchy, vocal-driven verses that meander into complicated and lifeless instrumental outros. Even the few standout tracks annoyingly crumble into misplaced acoustic solos and anguished hardcore breakdowns bordering on gimmicky. More seamless transitions can be found in front man Eugene Hütz’s driving vocals, which grow increasingly agitated as each song winds along, ultimately climaxing in full-blown tirades in fluid Ukrainian. Lyrically, the band remains at top form.