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A.V. Club’s Steven Hyden owns the 90’s

Last week saw posting of the final in A.V. Club Music Editor Steven Hyden’s fantastic 10-part series on mainstream 1990’s rock, Whatever Happened to Alternative Nation?. Not only have the essays offered insightful and entertaining analysis on the rivalry between Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses (Part 2), the eternal wackness of Bush and Live (Part 6), and the forgotten festival mayhem that closed the decade (Part 10, which is on Woodstock ’99), but Hyden has also succeeded in confirming my suspicion that the tragically post-Telecommunications Act, pre-Napster years I was personally in high school for (1996-2000) were, without a doubt, the lamest years to be a mainstream music fan, ever.

There is at least some fun 90’s nostalgia floating around as of late. I like the new Fred Armisen-Carrie Brownstein sketch show Portlandia (where “the dream of the 90’s is alive!“). And NPR just did a mondo podcast on the best of 90’s music that I recommend.


Live Report: Drive-By Truckers @ 9:30 Club

18 February 2011

Washington, D.C.

Southern Rock stalwarts the Drive-By Truckers offer an explosive live show that is enjoyable to both diehard fan and dragged-along friend in refreshingly equal measure. In part it’s because the music comes from such a familiar, timeless place — where the grooves are straight-laced, the solos triumphant, and the sliding ring finger of Duane Allman never really left us.

Continue reading ‘Live Report: Drive-By Truckers @ 9:30 Club’


Album Review: Lia Ices, “Grown Unknown”

Lia Ices’ stunning new album opens with the Brooklyn artist’s principle strengths: a soft crush of piano; a light, swooping melody; and Ices’ delicate mezzo-soprano, calling from an emotional space beyond the letter of the lyrics: Oh you know I need / your mystic mind.

The song, called “Love Is Won”, proceeds to layer additional instrumentation gradually – another key feature on nearly all of Grown Unknown’s nine tracks. In this case, it’s the sparest of drum and bass, some pulsing organ, and a collection of harmonies overlaid by Ices herself.

Continue reading ‘Album Review: Lia Ices, “Grown Unknown”’


Piano/Guitar Chords for Radiohead’s “Codex”

Something to play around with on piano or guitar. Chords are approximate. Listen closely to the original to catch the exact timing of Thom’s changes:

Intro:  C  Bb  Dm

C          Bb Dm

Slight of  hand

F                        Bb

Jump off the end

Bb        Am   C

Into a clear lake

C        Bb   Dm

No one around

So hopefully you’ve given The King of Limbs a couple of spins at this point… How do you like it?? Personally, I’ve found it to have a lot in common with the laid back, mature, post-having-anything-to-prove-to-anyone, live-in-studio vibe that made In Rainbows pop, but with a renewed nudge toward the old Kid A/Amnesiac experimental spirit.

Specifically, it seems Radiohead have begun to incorporate the tumbling rhythms of dubstep, a sub-genre of electronic music that’s been building cred in the U.K. underground over the past decade. Continue reading ‘Piano/Guitar Chords for Radiohead’s “Codex”’


Happy Radiohead Day!

I just finished downloading Radiohead’s new album, The King of Limbs, from the band’s own Sandbag-powered website, in glorious 320 kbps (my all-time favorite bitrate) mp3. Can’t wait to listen! More specifically, I’m about to join fans and critics throughout the world in a one-of-a-kind listening event!

For the record, this is how every band should do it: Record material on your own time and money, don’t give anything to anybody who might leak it, use the Internet to announce the LP’s release date, and finally sell the album in fairly-priced, high-quality mp3s  using a simple pay-to-download hosting service NOT connected to iTunes or any major record company. It’s production, promotion, and distribution all rolled into one, all taking full advantage of the Internet’s power to sell and deliver music to fans: a model Radiohead hinted at — flippantly — with their 2007 pay-what-you-will In Rainbows release. Now we have the real deal. EVERY major band should be doing this.

Now to explore the music of The King of Limbs! As a start, the brand new video for “Lotus Flower”. Shake it Thom!


Is ticket scalping good for society?

…Haha. Of course not! But a recent Slate article by Annie Lowrey raises an interesting economics question concerning the recent LCD Soundsystem at Madison Square Garden debacle (in which  programmed “bots” jammed Ticketmaster and bought up all the tickets the second they went on sale, immediately punting them to StubHub and other secondary sellers where they reappeared, prices jacked the f- up.). An excerpt:

(Note: This isn’t really Lowrey’s opinion on the matter. Read the full article.)

The economist’s defense of said behavior goes like this. Ticket sales, for popular bands at least, are characterized by inefficient excess demand: Far more fans are willing to pay face value for a ticket than can purchase tickets—thereby making tickets worth more than face value. Scalpers perform a market-making function, letting ticket prices rise until the market clears. If you want to see LCD Soundsystem, an economist might say, tough luck about your failed initial efforts. But you can still get in—at the market-determined price. So, if seeing that last show is worth it to you, head to StubHub and buy away.

Continue reading ‘Is ticket scalping good for society?’


All Songs’ Guide to Electronic Music

I have to recommend a pair of recent All Songs Considered podcasts focusing on the latest and greatest in electronic music. Host Bob Boilen welcomes NPR Music producers Sami Yenigun and Otis Hart for two shows (Part One, Part Two) that  highlight several buzz-worthy artists. Even more impressive, Yenigun and Hart are able to (concisely) parse the differences between electronic music’s myriad sub-genres. I’m especially interested in their discussion of Maxmillion Dunbar in Part Two, a D.C.-based artist who could become my gateway to the local scene.



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