This is not a “best of 2011” music list. I didn’t hear or read or see all the music this year. Did you? Perhaps after consulting with a suitably large staff, a publication could reasonably claim to draw a box around, say, the best music of the year. I tend to count myself rarely satisfied with these attempts, though, even if I'm consulted. How about you?
No, don’t even start, as I’ve seen every single one of you beefing on Twitter about a subjective list. You weren’t wrong to do so! Lists are always wrong. It’s a part of their power, this axiomatic guarantee of failure. A list might “start [...]
Last week, while on a walk to visit some Seattle fishmongers, I spent a few minutes watching an elderly Indian man playing sitar at the corner of an intersection. Any pair of lay ears could perceive the old musician was talented, and so he had an appreciative crowd, despite this being a fairly cold sort of January morning. I remarked to a friend that no one was likely confused or intimidated by the genre definition of the music he was playing. Even though it was happening on the street, it was clearly a formal music: not meant for dancing or soundtracking a TV show or casually accompanying any other [...]
Crossover is a hard row to hoe sometimes-so hard, in fact, you wonder why people even try. The ground that's tilled rarely, if ever, gives up a good crop in return. So if soprano Renee Fleming wants to drop her voice a couple octaves and cover Arcade Fire, Band of Horses-and, naturally, "Hallelujah"-no one can stop her, but it's not like folks on either side of the indie-classical chasm are gonna hold their hyper-critical, specialist fire. (I'd say Fleming's take on "Intervention" is strong. Ditto the Band of Horses number. The rest: stay away.) And, as the Times has noted, there's not much combining of disciplines on [...]
Sweet fuck, am I ever tired of this wind and snow and cold and sniffling. I've been eating over half my meals at the diner that's 20 steps away from my front door, because walking anywhere-save for the subway line that takes me to work-has become untenable. The gym? The one that's two blocks away? Haven't seen it since January. And yet, this week, I plan to leave my apartment, post-sundown, for a non-work related engagement. It better be worth it. My whole reason for persisting through that entire awful month of February is riding on it. I suspect we're talking about the kind of awesome that makes a [...]
Coming up as a cinema snob in adolescence, your average hetero boy's sexual desire-the hyper-wattage of which tends to outstrip FCC broadcast regulations, thereby causing a lot of, um, fritz on the signal-is thankfully managed by a chronological succession of fantastic Parisian lips. Anna Karina (in early Godard), Deneuve (in everything), and then: bam. The modern era. It belongs to Isabelle Huppert. Forget Courtney Cox's insulting Cougartown weaksauce. It's enough to make you believe in a God, the way Huppert gets more dangerous-and more unbearably desirable-with every passing year. You thought she was peaking as a labial cutter in Michel Haneke's film adaptation of Jelenik's The Piano Teacher back in [...]
By avant-music metrics, last night was pretty star-studded over at The Stone on Avenue C. Someone said Mike Watt of Minutemen and fIREHOSE fame was all up in the joint. And I spied Ches Smith from Xiu Xiu, in addition to club doyen John Zorn. Jenny Scheinman, a talent in way too many musical genres, was on the guest list. There were about a hundred or so other lesser-known folks crowding the tiny venue-which employs only a single, stationary electric fan for AC purposes. That fan at The Stone, it's almost like a really genius art installation that calls into question and then subverts the very construct of cooling [...]