David Fricke | RollingStone | 27 January 2013 | [print]
With all of your reservations about playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and writing the same kind of song over and over, do you envision a time when there is no Nirvana? That you’ll try to make it alone?
I don’t think I could ever do a solo thing, the Kurt Cobain Project.
Doesn’t have a very good ring to it, either.
No [laughs]. But yes, I would like to work with people who are totally, completely the opposite of what I’m doing now. Something way out there, man.
That doesn’t bode well for the future of Nirvana and the kind of music you make together.
That’s what I’ve been kind of hinting at in this whole interview. That we’re almost exhausted. We’ve gone to the point where things are becoming repetitious. There’s not something you can move up toward, there’s not something you can look forward to.
The best times that we ever had were right when Nevermind was coming out and we went on that American tour where we were playing clubs. They were totally sold out, and the record was breaking big, and there was this massive feeling in the air, this vibe of energy. Something really special was happening.
Raj Dayal | Pretty Much Amazing
The more expansive sound of this second album showcases the band’s growth. The titanic licks and precision heavy metal drumming are big and sweaty. The songwriting is notably more sophisticated in its approach to lost love and fleeting moments. The album even includes a bent towards the expansiveness of nature, no doubt brought on by the fact that it was recorded in Maine during winter.
While much of the album takes the familiar sound of what the band does well and turns it up to 11, the enigmatic Ritzy Bryan somehow reveals a tender side to her voice while the music is clearly in the red.
Alex Ross | Culture Desk | The New Yorker
Sometime around 1920, the German composer Stefan Wolpe, then eighteen years old, organized a Dada provocation in Berlin, in which he set up eight Victrolas on a stage, placed on each of them a recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and had a team of confederates play the records at different speeds. In a 1962 “Lecture on Dada,” at Long Island University, Wolpe described his youthful escapade as follows:
I had eight gramophones, record players, at my disposal. And these were lovely record players because one could regulate their speed. Here you have only certain speeds—seventy-four and so on [he means seventy-eight]—but there you could play a Beethoven symphony very, very slow, and very quick at the same time… I put these things together in what one would call today a multifocal way.
The event was typical of the iconoclastic spirit of Dada in the years after the First World War. Yet it also turned out to be prophetic of subsequent experiments in musical simultaneity—notably, “Imaginary Landscape No. 4,” John Cage’s 1951 piece for twelve radios. . .
Alex Pappademas | Playboy | 6064 words | via via Longreads.com
So last summer, when British hip-hop DJ Tim Westwood had Snoop Dogg on his BBC Radio show, he asked the question everybody asks people close to Dre, namely, “What’s up with Detox? Is it ever coming out?” This time, though, instead of saying what Dre’s associates usually say—that Dre’s a genius who’ll serve no wine before its time, but, man, is this record going to knock your fucking socks off when Dre’s ready to let people hear it, which will be soon—Snoop said point-blank that Detox wouldn’t get done until Dre called in two people to work on it: himself and the D.O.C.
“D.O.C. and Snoop Dogg is the backbone,” he told Westwood. “When you take them out of the equation, it’s not gonna work.”
Uninformed hip-hop fans would have reason to ask, Who the hell is the D.O.C.? It’s been nearly 25 years since the rapper released his astoundingly great debut album, No One Can Do It Better. It was produced by Dr. Dre when Dre was churning out hot product at an ironic-in-retrospect pace: In a single year Dre made the D.O.C.’s album, as well as N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton and N.W.A co-founder Eazy-E’s solo debut, Eazy-Duz-It. The D.O.C. was a cocky, charismatic young rapper with a knotty, complex flow—his delivery had more bob-and-weave than your average West Coast rapper’s, and he reminded people of East Coast guys like Rakim. The kid with the golden voice, he called himself. Within three months he’d sold half a million records—until injuries to his vocal cords sustained in a car accident rendered him barely able to speak and totally unable to rap.
After that, the D.O.C. was a living ghost. He made two would-be comeback albums, but his real career existed behind the scenes. It became an open secret that he’d ghostwritten rhymes for Dre on The Chronic and 1999’s 2001 and polished lines for Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle. The D.O.C. was a fixer, a problem solver, a hip-hop Winston Wolf. Once a breakout star, he now existed in hip-hop as a legend in the background of other people’s rhymes. Dre shouted him out (“Like my nigga D.O.C., no one can do it better”) at the end of “Nuthin’ but a G Thang,” the first single from The Chronic. More than 10 years later, so did Brooklyn-born Jay-Z on “Public Service Announcement”—“HOV, not D.O.C./But similar to the letters, no one can do it better.”
Tips of the hat to a rapper’s rapper. But the Westwood thing was different. The Westwood thing was Snoop calling out Dr. Dre, telling him and the world that only the D.O.C. could save Detox. That yes, in fact, no one can do it better.
Late one Thursday night, in the control room of a recording studio in an office park somewhere in South Dallas, the D.O.C.—whose real name is Tracy Curry, though his Dallas friends all call him Doc—pushes the talk-back button on the mixing console and addresses the kid on the other side of the glass.
Doc is 44 now, tall with a little weight on him, hair in twists. The kid on the other side of the glass is 24-year-old Dallas rapper Chad Bailey, whose rap name, I swear, is Plaboi. He’s just finished a run-through of a new song—a midtempo Rick Ross–style come-kick-it-with-a-boss jam called “So Amazing”—and now Doc is giving Plaboi some notes.
“You sounded like a 17-year-old guy who’s happy to get some pussy,” Doc says. “I want you to sound like a 30-year-old guy who likes to fuck.
Clifford Allen | Tiny Mix Tapes | danfriel.com
Friel, formerly of the highly regarded noise rock ensemble Parts & Labor, is certainly a musician who is beholden to songcraft despite his leanings toward the difficult, weird, or somewhat unhinged. The fact of a gooey pop-nugget forcing its way out of plugged-in shambles is actually something of an inescapable impulse across the 12 tracks of Total Folklore, Friel’s second full-length LP and latest for Thrill Jockey. Friel is something of an economist as well as a profound “entertainer”: rather than sitting behind a table covered with no-input mixing boards and pedals, Friel has his palette placed loosely on a board in his lap, twiddling nobs, flipping things, and tapping his feet all at the same time. Watching Friel work is something of an experience — personal, intimate, and exuberant — and surprisingly, that is something that comes across well on recordings.
Make no mistake: Friel’s music is noisy as hell. It’s completely overdriven and in the red, masses of sound colors spread on thickly and decisively, something like an ultra-sugarcoated Merzbow. The color palette that Friel uses is quite garish and confectionery, as much as it might take the shape of fuzzed-out noise channeled through blown speakers.
Austin L. Ray | AV Club | www.phosphorescentmusic.com
Muchacho is also Houck’s most accomplished release to date—his most heartrending and life-affirming, equal parts lost-love devastation and hip-swaying, horn-led exultation.
Well, maybe not equal parts. “Song For Zula” is a mournful beast of burden, Houck’s lyrics stealing the show from the string section and bass-as-heartbeat supporting actors. “I will not open myself up this way again,” he sings at one point, before laying it all out at song’s end: “So some say love is a burning thing / that it makes a fiery ring / Oh, but I know love as a caging thing / just a killer come to call from some awful dream.”
PATTI SMITH GROUP: EASTER
Lester Bangs | Phonograph Record | May/June 1978 | www.pattismith.net
Dear Patti, Start the Revolution Without Me
I hate Patti Smith. She’s a pretentious wretch. But then I hate the Village Voice, which originally assigned me this piece, and which can be pretty pretentious itself. I hate all the magazines I write for, don’t you hate yourself for buying their dead formula hackwork?
. . . Horses was one of the greatest records I’ve ever heard. Like all true art, it drew you into recognizable situations and illuminated, poetically heightened them (as “We Three” does here), rather than just preaching at you and ranting that its creator was an Artist. (The late rock critic/musician Peter Laughner once said that all Patti’s best songs were written to or about other people. Over the past couple of years she has become so narcissistic that she’s solipsistic, which doesn’t exactly make her part of the solution.)
Horses changed my life, but I’ve recognized that there was something almost supernatural about the powers it tapped, that no artist or audience can expect that kind of baptism in the firmamental flames every time. So I don’t even feel bad about having to say that Easter is just a very good album, and now I even like Radio Ethiopia in a High Times slumming sorta sense. But something still sorta clutches at my heart when I hear Patti sing “Look around you … do you like the world around you?” No, I loathe what I see emerging with every particle of my being, and baby yes, I certainly do feel there’s a war on which almost nobody wants to recognize, and even as I can look into the hideous technocorporate heart murdering face of the enemy I’m stumped as to tactics. But while like with hippies looking better in retrospect than today’s dutiful deadwood children ’cause at least they were rebelling I can’t help but admire you whatever you do in the face of McCartney-disco-fusion, still I think I’ve finally found a word for your tactic. It’s called diversionary.
Nick Tosches | Creem | June 1978 | www.pattismith.net
Patti Smith is the first poet born of rock’n’roll; raised on the Crystals instead of the classics. There has always been great poetry in rock’n’roll, but the best of it has been intuitive. Little Walter did not consider himself a poet, and was not known to read beyond Jive, but he must be recognized as one of the awesome men of modern verse. Smith has not yet given us anything as fine and powerful as Olson’s Maximus Poems, but she will.
Truer and surer and less uneven than her previous albums, Easter is Smith’s best work. Easter is a much better title than Rock ’N’ Roll Nigger (as Smith originally wanted the album to be called), not only because the concept of artist as nigger is silly and trite, but because this is an album of Christian obsessions, especially those of death and resurrection.
Steven Moore | AV Club | www.tameimpala.com
Tame Impala found inspiration in both its country’s isolation and revivalist spirit for its debut, 2010’s Innerspeaker, as Kevin Parker—who writes, sings, and performs each instrumental part—anchored his detachment to a walloping mélange of early-’70s psychedelia, proto-metal, and British pop. Though the band conflated a wider set of influences than its contemporaries with stunning originality and technical ability, it was still easy to trace Innerspeaker’s strands back to their sources. The band’s latest, Lonerism, digs even deeper into those themes and sounds, and pulls out a masterful collage.
NME | www.palmaviolets.co.uk
180’ isn’t a record of ideas, particularly; it takes one sound – the gothic, swirling psych-garage revelry of first single ‘Best Of Friends’ – and more or less runs with it. It’s also less concerned with thought than it is with feeling, namely the feeling of being young and naive and the universe seeming to revolve around you and your small coterie of mates. As a result, it’s like a 12-song snapshot of a time (last year) and a place (the dosshouse that serves as their base of operations) you’ll wish you’d been privy to. Knowing that their essence lies in the Lambeth hovel they first emerged from, producer Steve Mackey keeps things suitably raw and unrefined: ‘Johnny Bagga Donuts’ sounds so pissed to the marrow you’ll swear you can hear Chilli Jesson’s pubic lice singing rebel songs in the background, while ‘14’ is a sort of beleaguered anthem for those girls who can be found in broken heels and crying at the kerbside on a Saturday night. If you’re willing to let it, it seems very probable that ‘180’ will soundtrack the next 12 months of romantic entanglements, questionable life choices and room-temperature cans of Strongbow.