Michelle Dean: We have gathered here today because, and I think this is not an exaggerated term, we are devoted to "Enlightened," the struggling HBO show from Mike White that stars Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe, a woman who… is struggling to figure out life. That sounds kind of patronizing, but it's the only way to put it.
Recently I found myself actively worrying about the show's potential cancellation as I went about my day. And I keep tossing around different reasons of articulating why. One is of course that like David Haglund at Slate, I think it's the most interesting show on television right now, as well as [...]
Watching Hodgy Beats ride through the suburbs, shooting lasers from the crotch of his Starship Troopers spacesuit, hitting patty-cake-playing white girls and turning them into cats, makes it very, very difficult to believe that the Odd Future crew is not thinking beyond whatever controversy and "troll-gaze" labels people put on them. I think they're having fun; largely innocent fun. And making good art ("violator art," maybe, though my head starts to swim with the word salad of critical terminology.) But I do think it's art that says, or is at least trying to say something about the world we're living in. And even if that [...]
Everyone knows you can't dust for vomit. But, man, Pink Floyd's fingerprints are all over this new song from the wonderful San Francisco band, Girls. (I know that metaphor is sort of backwards, since the thief, or "borrower," leaves his or her fingerprints on the thing they stole from somebody else, rather than vice versa, but for chronological reasons, it doesn't make sense to set it up that way.)
My greatest regret of CMJ week, which just blew through New York in a whirlwind of panels and open bars and late-night Kanye sightings, was missing the almost-dozen performances by Marnie Stern. Marnie's self-titled album, which came out earlier this month on Kill Rock Stars, is my favorite record of the year—brash but vulnerable, energetic but melancholy, and full of . Plus, "Female Guitar Players Are The New Black" is not only a great title that sorta-forces critics to deal with their "OMG a girl is playing guitar really fast that's like so weird" biases, it's a whirlwind of a track, with an army of Sterns leading [...]
A quick note about happy news: We have somehow conned the amazing Maura Johnston into spending the next few weeks here with us. You know Maura from Idolator when it was good, her recaps of "American Idol", and the terrific contributions she has made on this site previously. Maura will be tasked with writing all the lady stuff that Messrs. Sicha, Bry and I are too masculine to address. KIDDING! She's going to write whatever she wants. Anyway, we're thrilled to have her and we hope you will be as well. One small warning: She'll have access to our general e-mail line (to which you send [...]
"I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how people consume online content and talking about those ever-shifting habits with the public. How do stories get told and disseminated in the age of social sharing—especially if they’re not easily digestible or instantly familiar? How can we make sure that writers are given resources to dive into stories that might not be obvious after a cursory Google search? Thankfully, the fine people at 29th Street Publishing are around and also thinking about those questions, as I learned during a Mets game in July. Perhaps prophetically, it was Fireworks Night, and my mind exploded with possibility as 29th [...]
The 2010 edition of the annual Best Music Writing series is out on November 9th, and they've just released the table of contents. It includes work from Awl pals Maura Johnston, Sasha Frere-Jones, Jon Caramanica and Alex Ross. I don't see how you not get this.
Over the weekend, Liz Phair had a surprise: 11 new tracks, collected under the title Funstyle, available for purchase at her official site. This release was surprising for reasons that went far beyond its semi-stealth timing! Seth Colter Walls and I decided to figure out "the deal."
Maura: OK, I am ready!
Seth: Well if you "are ready" to talk about this then you are ahead of 99% of the people who have listened to this record from Liz Phair, called Funstyle.
Seth: Maura — why did this happen?
Maura: I think I might be one of the few people who doesn't see Funstyle as a total [...]
Last weekend, in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, and the revelation that the person behind it might have been a troubled young man, a writer in Idaho, Liza Long, put up a blog post, ""I Am Adam Lanza's Mother," that purported to speak to the experience of Nancy Lanza, who had been her own son's first victim. Tightly written and extremely candid about the violent rages and suicide threats of her son, it quickly spread beyond its original home on the web, picking up millions of pageviews from Gawker, BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post and other outlets looking for another weekend traffic jolt during a trying time.
"Certainly the body of artists on the museum's roster represents pop—yes, it's a certain idea of pop, one with a stamp of Importance that's defined by values rooted in privileging rock's ethos over others, but it's pop nonetheless." —Awl pal Maura Johnston is right to sigh and complain about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's inherently awkward and confounding selection process. (And she gets to, because she voted!) I think it's an institution that should not exist. The fact that Joan Jett didn't qualify as a first-ballot inductee speaks to why. Even under the problematic organizing principle that has the Beastie Boys making it in over Eric [...]
The American Music Awards are simultaneously the silliest and the most honest music-related gala. Nominees are based on things like Soundscan numbers and online streams instead of trifles like artistic intent or legend status, and the winners are dubbed "favorites," not "bests." Yet there's an air of seriousness about it that you'd never see at, say, MTV's Video Music Awards, one that will be ever more present this year as the Black Eyed Peas bring us their latest wedding-floor-filler "The Time (Dirty Bit)" live for the first time on TV and Train play That Train Song You Hear Everywhere one more time. Which is to say, come [...]
Seth Colter Walls: Maura, has it been a good first third of 2010, music-wise? What were the highlights? And what depressed the shit out of you? Maura Johnston: 2010 has actually been a great year for music. So far! And there's more to come!! Seth: Really? Because I've felt slightly… underwhelmed. (Though I'm glad you are confirming that the rest of calendar year 2010 is still to come.) Maura: Well, I know the whole existence of the future has been a cause for worry recently. But I am optimistic!