WBEZ | Music http://www.wbez.org/news/music Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Columbus musicians and fans balk at R. Kelly as festival headliner http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-07/columbus-musicians-and-fans-balk-r-kelly-festival-headliner-110543 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/R-Kelly.png" style="height: 360px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div><p>In response to R. Kelly headlining the <a href="http://www.fmmf.us/">Fashion Meets Music Festival</a> in Columbus on Labor Day weekend, Ohio&rsquo;s musical community is having the spirited public debate about separating the art from the artist that Chicago never had when the controversial R&amp;B superstar topped the bill at the Pitchfork festival in 2013.</p><p>Andy Downing, a reporter at ColumbusAlive.com and a former music contributor to <em>The Chicago Tribune, </em>first raised questions about the young festival&rsquo;s decision to give Kelly its top slot <a href="http://www.columbusalive.com/content/blogs/thelatest/2014/06/fashion-meets-music-headliners-announced.html">in a post that ran on June 25</a>. Wrote Downing:</p><blockquote><p>Organizers downplayed the inclusion of Kelly, born Robert Kelly in Chicago 47 years ago, who was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008, and whose history of sexual predation on underage girls was chronicled at length in <a href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2013/12/read_the_stomac.php">a Village Voice discussion </a>between music journalists Jim DeRogatis and Jessica Hopper that went viral late in 2013.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t even think [Kelly&rsquo;s inclusion] was a debate. We don&rsquo;t have a national R&amp;B act, and we wanted to fill that void, and he&rsquo;s one of the best-selling artists of all time. Why wouldn&rsquo;t we?&rdquo; said FMMF cofounder Bret Adams. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s good national press for us and Columbus. He&rsquo;s a nationally known name. He was not convicted of anything. He was acquitted. If we wanted to limit our artists to people who never had brushes with the law or were not good people, then you can eliminate quite a few across the board. We&rsquo;re running a festival to help brand the city of Columbus. We&rsquo;re not the morality police.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/columbus1.png" style="height: 600px; width: 600px;" title="" /></div><p><a href="http://www.columbusalive.com/content/blogs/thelatest/2014/06/r.-kelly-fmmf-update.html">In a longer follow-up on June 30</a> that referenced this blog&rsquo;s series of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/kelly-conversations-more-questions-answers-about-r-kelly-headlining">&ldquo;Kelly Conversations&rdquo;</a> last summer, Downing chronicled the beginnings of a backlash to the booking by Columbus musicians, and he quoted some of the hundreds of posts debating the issue appearing on forums such as Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. In the weeks since, several bands have pulled out of the festival in protest, and others have begun organizing a competing FemmeFest in response. <a href="http://saintseneca.com/post/92568863872/some-thoughts-on-why-we-wont-be-playing-fashion-meets">In a post on its Web site on July 22</a>, Columbus folk-rockers Saintseneca wrote:</p><blockquote><p>We were disappointed that the artist selected to headline the festival was R. Kelly. We feel his selection as a performer ignores his very serious allegations of sexual violence and assault. We feel it is an affront to all survivors, who are already often overlooked and forgotten in our society. As a result, we&rsquo;ve decided to withdraw from the festival.</p></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/columbus%202%20saintseneca.jpg" style="height: 600px; width: 600px;" title="Saintseneca" /></div><p>That followed an earlier protest of the booking by the electronic duo Damn the Witch Siren. Those musicians met with festival organizers to discuss the issue, but ultimately pulled out of the festival as well.</p><p>&ldquo;They were really nice and courteous to us about the issue, and I think it was really considerate of them to meet with us under the circumstances,&rdquo; musician Nathan Photos wrote <a href="https://www.facebook.com/damnthewitchsiren?ref=br_tf">on the band&rsquo;s Facebook page</a>. &ldquo;[But] after about an hour&rsquo;s deliberation, they were unwilling to budge on the issue, and they were also unable to make us feel differently about things.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/columbus%203%20damn.jpg" style="height: 399px; width: 600px;" title="Damn the Witch Siren" /></div><p>At least Columbus promoters have been willing to discuss the booking. In stark contrast, Pitchfork corporate chief Ryan Schreiber and festival booker Mike Reed have yet to respond to requests for comment on their booking last July, though Reed did tell this reporter at last year&rsquo;s festival that it was &ldquo;hypocritical&rdquo; for this blog to criticize the booking when WBEZ was a sponsor of the festival.</p><p>Columbus public radio station WCBE 90.5-FM has found itself in a similar position this summer. It signed on as a sponsor of Fashion Meets Music before Kelly was announced as a headliner.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re still deciding precisely what we&rsquo;ll do&mdash;at the very least, we&rsquo;ll put together a panel discussion to focus not only on the R. Kelly/Festival issue but the underlying societal sexism, racism, and rape attitudes which surround our listeners&rsquo; concerns,&rdquo; <a href="http://wcbe.org/">WCBE</a> general manager and program director Dan Mushalko wrote this blog via email.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the incident has opened up a window into these much larger societal issues and&mdash;this is where I&rsquo;m very proud of WCBE listeners&mdash;Columbus is not afraid to look inside to try to find some answers. We&rsquo;ll record the discussion and edit it down to a one-hour special we&rsquo;ll broadcast sometime afterward.</p><p>&ldquo;But this is a much bigger issue than a panel discussion/on-air special can give justice to,&rdquo; Mushalko added. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s what I&rsquo;m wrestling with: What <em>more</em> can we do? How can we leverage the controversy and our special to make a true, lasting difference in the community? I simply haven&rsquo;t figured that out yet, but there&rsquo;s a wonderful thread on our <a href="https://www.facebook.com/WCBE90.5">Facebook page</a>, and I&rsquo;m hoping that the combination of comments and insights there will end up providing the epiphany to create a greater positive out of such a horrific negative.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m darn proud of our city for this. We see an issue, and bring it to the fore. To borrow a phrase from the Columbus Foundation, this is &lsquo;the spirit of Columbus!&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Again, this attitude is a striking contrast to some media outlets in Chicago, which continue to snicker at last year&rsquo;s controversy. For her efforts to discuss the issue in <em>The Village Voice </em>via an interview that has so far generated 4.5 million page views, Hopper found herself caricatured on last week&rsquo;s Pitchfork cover of <em>The Chicago Reader, </em>seemingly infatuated with yours truly as I sit waving a sword beside &ldquo;a box of old R. Kelly crap.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ReaderP4K-2014.jpg" title="" /></div></div><p>The ultimate validation for raising these issues, however, may be the impact on sales of Kelly&rsquo;s concert tickets. The chart below, current as of last night, shows the unsold tickets to his Columbus performance in blue, while promoters have shut off even trying to sell seats in the third tier of the Nationwide Arena.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20shot%202014-07-22%20at%207.18.15%20PM.png" style="height: 340px; width: 600px;" title="" /></div><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 08:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-07/columbus-musicians-and-fans-balk-r-kelly-festival-headliner-110543 The best Lollapalooza press release ever http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-07/best-lollapalooza-press-release-ever-110506 <p><p><strong>FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE,&nbsp;</strong><strong>July 15, 2014</strong></p><p align="center"><strong>INTRODUCING THE STAND UP</strong><strong>&nbsp;&trade;</strong></p><p align="center"><em>Lolla Ladies Can Now&nbsp;<u>Stand Up</u>&nbsp;to Disgusting Port-A-Potties</em></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/V25June%202%208am_8%20Clouds%20greener%20sky%20SMALLER.jpg" title="" /></div><p align="center">&nbsp;</p><p>(San Francisco, CA) Growing up with three older brothers in Chicago&rsquo;s Lincoln Park, Stand Up Founder and &ldquo;Queen Pee&rdquo; Sara Grossman always felt she was an inconvenience to her family the second she needed to find a restroom during car trips. While Sara was instructed to go to the bathroom right before they left, her brothers had&nbsp;easy. And thus, the idea for the Stand Up<strong>&trade;</strong>&nbsp;trickled forth.</p><p>As the years continued, Grossman admitted to herself she just wasn&rsquo;t good at peeing on the go. One disgusting toilet seat after another, her squatting game had never improved. She figured she wasn&rsquo;t the only one.</p><p>&ldquo;When encountering a less-than desirable peeing locale, many women opt to squat, which isn&rsquo;t easy! We can feel off-balance, like we&rsquo;re about to fall through the stall door, or maybe like we&rsquo;re modern-arting a one of a kind pee-splatter-painting for the next unlucky hopeful sitter,&rdquo; says Grossman. &nbsp;&ldquo;There&rsquo;s just no winning when it comes to squat-peeing, which is why I invented the Stand Up&nbsp;<strong>&trade;</strong>; I believe women can have a hygienic and dignified peeing experience if they so choose.&rdquo; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SU15%20SMALLER.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The Stand Up<strong>&trade;&nbsp;</strong>is a peeing accessory&mdash;Grossman stresses it is not a device (devices are utilitarian instruments; accessories are expressions of choice [and fun!])&mdash;that women can use to keep their distance from the mess, anytime, anywhere.&nbsp;<strong>Cue Lollapalooza. As concert-goers know, nothing compares to the nastiness of a public toilet at a summer outdoor music festival.</strong></div><p>The Stand Up<strong>&trade;</strong>&nbsp;is the perfect solution: a disposable, biodegradable, clutch-purse-fittable, pocket-slippable peeing accessory. Made of neon pink, gloss-finished cardstock, The Stand Up<strong>&trade;</strong>&nbsp;fits right in with the cute contents of a purse, and liquids slide right off its surface.&nbsp;<strong>High-resolution photos available for download&nbsp;</strong><a href="https://www.dropbox.com/sh/iqujnqbl8fdfahh/AAA_G_0gNb24G45TEAo5ms7ia"><strong>here</strong></a><strong>&nbsp;(please note credit Read Me).</strong></p><p><strong>The Stand Up</strong><strong>&trade;</strong><strong>&nbsp;is available for purchase at&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.the-stand-up.com/"><strong>www.the-stand-up.com</strong></a><strong>.&nbsp;</strong>Stand Ups are packaged in convenient, ready-to-&ldquo;go&rdquo; sizes:&nbsp;<u>The Purse Pack</u>&nbsp;($6),&nbsp;<u>The Festival Pack</u>&nbsp;(3 Purse Packs for $16) and&nbsp;<u>The Super Woman Pack</u>&nbsp;(6 Purse Packs for $30).&nbsp;<strong>Order by July 28, 2014 to receive in time for Lollapalooza</strong>&nbsp;(August 1-3, 2014).</p><p>The purpose of the Stand Up<strong>&trade;</strong>&nbsp;is not to emulate men, but rather to give women a choice. In those moments when you&rsquo;d&nbsp;<em>rather</em>&nbsp;not, now you&nbsp;<em>can</em>&nbsp;not.</p><p><strong>About &ldquo;Queen Pee&rdquo; Sara Grossman</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Sara%20Grossman%20Stand%20UP%205%2019%2014_AMP3881%20SMALLER.jpg" title="" /></div><p>Sara grew up in Chicago and remembers to say,&nbsp;&ldquo;Midwest the best&rdquo; and &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s make some Illi-Noise&rdquo; whenever she discusses her hometown. After 18 years spent in brutal winter, she moved to California for crop tops, organic toothpaste, and Stanford, where her mother warned her she would stay, and which statement she foolishly denied.&nbsp;An English major with an emphasis in creative writing, she happily typed her way through essays and short stories for her school work, while writing scripts and acting for comedy shows in her free time.&nbsp;</p><p>After graduation, she made a quick comeback tour through Chicago to work in the First Lady&rsquo;s department on the Obama for America 2012 Campaign, where she wrote briefs 99% of days, and drove in her motorcade one day. Now, she resides in San Francisco, along with every other person who underestimated the power of his or her mother&rsquo;s prediction that once you move to California, you stay in California. (If you like it). &nbsp;(Which she did). (Does). She began working on the Stand Up<strong>&trade;</strong>&nbsp;in 2013, and launched in 2014.</p><p><strong>Stand Up Specs</strong></p><p>Folded: a triangle with a base of 4 inches and a height of 4.5 inches.</p><p>Unfolded: a kite-shape with the widest point at 4 inches and a height of 6 inches.</p><div>&nbsp;</div><p align="center">#&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; #&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; #</p></p> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-07/best-lollapalooza-press-release-ever-110506 The best albums of 2014 so far http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/best-albums-2014-so-far-110410 <p><p>Doing a mid-year best-of show for <em>Sound Opinions </em>was a Kot idea; when it first came up years ago, I figured we ought to wait for year-end, 365 days being a more sensible measure of time (and more of a milestone passed) than a mere six months. But he won that particular coin toss, and there <em>is</em> something to be said for taking a breather half way through the year to catch up on or reassess great sounds you&rsquo;ve been loving, or which you might have missed. Plus, as Rust Cohle ruminated on <em>True Detective</em>, what is time anyway, if not a flat circle?</p><p>In any event, further illuminating my favorites of 2014 so far in time for the radio show and podcast, here&rsquo;s my list of the Top Five, plus some other discs that very much remain in heavy rotation.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Damon-albarn-everyday-robots_0.jpg" style="height: 250px; width: 250px;" title="" /></div><p><strong>5. Damon Albarn, <em>Everyday Robots </em>(Parlophone)</strong></p><p>The first proper solo album from one of the most ambitious and distinctive artists to emerge in the &rsquo;90s, a quiet and beautiful meditation on his childhood, teens, and twenties as he closes in on middle age.</p><p><strong>Here&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/damon-albarn-bares-his-soul-his-first-solo-album-110057">my review for this blog</a>, and here is <a href="http://soundopinions.org/show/440/#damonalbarn">our discussion for <em>Sound Opinions</em></a><em>.</em></strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/kelis-food_0.jpg" style="height: 167px; width: 250px;" title="" /></div><p><strong>4. Kelis, <em>Food </em>(Ninja Tune)</strong></p><p>The chef, musician, mother, and unforgettable pop star behind &ldquo;Milkshake&rdquo; back in the day cooks up a five-course feast of heartfelt neo-soul.</p><p><strong>Here&rsquo;s my <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/kelis-cooks-delicious-feast-110081">review for this blog</a>, and here is <a href="http://soundopinions.org/show/440/#kelis">our discussion for <em>Sound Opinions</em></a><em>. </em>(And listen for Kelis chatting and performing live on <em>Sound Opinions </em>later this year.)</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1Against%20Me_0.jpg" style="height: 250px; width: 250px;" title="" /></div><p><strong>3. Against Me!, <em>Transgender Dysphoria Blues </em>(Total Treble Music)</strong></p><p>In which Laura Jane Grace writes more movingly about gender identity than anyone in rock ever has, while musically summoning the Clash at its rollicking, anthemic best.</p><p><strong>Here&rsquo;s my <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-02/against-me-inspiration-everyone-109640">review for this blog</a>, and here is <a href="http://soundopinions.org/show/428/#againstme">our discussion for <em>Sound Opinions</em></a><em>.</em></strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Butcher%20cover_0.jpg" style="height: 250px; width: 250px;" title="" /></div><p><strong>2. Le Butcherettes, <em>Cry Is for the Flies </em>(Nadie Sound)</strong></p><p>I&rsquo;m still trying to scoop my brains up off the ground after the angry assault of the second undeniable album from Teri &ldquo;Gender Bender&rdquo; Suaréz.</p><p><strong>Here&rsquo;s my <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/le-butcherettes-are-back-vengeance-110032">review for this blog</a>.</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Fucked%20Up%20cover_0.jpg" style="height: 250px; width: 250px;" title="" /></div><p><strong>1. F*cked Up, <em>Glass Boys </em>(Matador)</strong></p><p>And speaking of angry blowtorch assaults, Toronto&rsquo;s art-punks abandoned the concept album idea this time and merely gave us a set of some of the most ferocious but melodic songs since Hüsker Dü in its prime. Along with <em>four </em>tracks of drums!</p><p><strong>Here&rsquo;s my <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-07-05/album-review-fcked-%E2%80%98david-comes-life%E2%80%99-matador-88566">review for this blog</a>.</strong></p><p>And now, here are some more contenders, in no particular order, when we get back to list-making come December.</p><p><strong>Parquet Courts, <em>Sunbathing Animal </em>(What&#39;s Your Rupture?)</strong><br />&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Jack White, <em>Lazaretto</em> (Third Man/XL/Columbia)</strong><br />&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Sharon Van Etten, <em>Are We There </em>(Jagjaguwar)</strong></p><p><strong>Lykke Li, <em>I Never Learn </em>(LL Recordings)</strong></p><p><strong>Neil Young, <em>A Letter Home</em> (Third Man Records)</strong></p><p><strong>tUnE-yArDs, N<em>ikk</em>i N<em>ac</em>k (4AD)</strong></p><p><strong>The Black Lips, <em>Underneath the Rainbow </em>(Vice)</strong></p><p><strong>The War on Drugs, <em>Lost in the Dream </em>(Secretly Canadian)</strong></p><p><strong>Lydia Loveless, <em>Somewhere Else </em>(Bloodshot Records)</strong></p><p><strong>Warpaint, <em>Warpaint </em>(Rough Trade)</strong></p><p><strong>Broken Bells, <em>After the Disco </em>(Columbia)</strong></p><p><strong>Angel Olsen, <em>Burn Your Fire for No Witness </em>(Jagjaguwar)</strong></p><p><strong>Bob Mould, <em>Beauty &amp; Ruin </em>(Merge)</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/best-albums-2014-so-far-110410 The most ambitious slackers you’ll ever hear http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/most-ambitious-slackers-you%E2%80%99ll-ever-hear-110409 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/parquet-courts.jpeg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>If Parquet Courts proved to be the perfect combination of Television and Pavement on its second album, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-01/parquet-courts-gives-us-reasons-be-cheerful-105173">2012&rsquo;s remarkable <em>Light Up Gold</em></a>, that disc was its more song-focused <em>Glory </em>while <em>Sunbathing Animal </em>is its <em>Marquee Moon. </em>That is to say, the new disc is more unapologetically art-rock and slightly less focused on song craft, though both still boast the stoned grad student, chaotic, shambling, but somehow irresistible quality of Stephen Malkmus at his best. And both insinuate themselves so slyly and unobtrusively that you might be midway through your tenth listen when you finally proclaim, &ldquo;My god, this is brilliant!&rdquo;</p><p>True, the new effort from these Texas-to-Brooklyn transplants lacks a single stand-out anthem as brilliant as &ldquo;Stoned and Starving.&rdquo; But that&rsquo;s hardly a let-down when we get the epic 7:13 &ldquo;Instant Disassembly,&rdquo; which is as much a tour-de-force mission statement for this quartet as &ldquo;Marquee Moon&rdquo; was for Tom Verlaine and company. Add to that the plentiful joys in the intertwining guitars of &ldquo;What Color Is Blood?&rdquo; and &ldquo;Always Back in Town,&rdquo; the seemingly tossed-off but instantly infectious choruses of &ldquo;Dear Ramona&rdquo; and &ldquo;She&rsquo;s Rollin,&rdquo; and the undeniable subway train rhythms of &ldquo;Black and White&rdquo; and &ldquo;Duckin and Dodgin,&rdquo; and Andrew Savage and his band mates have given us their second stunner&mdash;something that&rsquo;s only made more impressive by the fact that they&rsquo;d probably just shrug (and maybe mumble, &ldquo;Fuggedabout it&rdquo;) when thanked for the accomplishment.</p><p><strong>Parquet Courts, <em>Sunbathing Animal </em>(What&#39;s Your Rupture?)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 4 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 14:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/most-ambitious-slackers-you%E2%80%99ll-ever-hear-110409 Uncle Bob does it again http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/uncle-bob-does-it-again-110375 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Mould.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>Defiantly riding the third (or fourth, if you count Sugar) high of his post-Hüskers career, curmudgeonly but ever-lovable ol&rsquo; Bob Mould continues the melodic adrenaline rush of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/uncle-grumpy-bob-mould-lightens-%E2%80%93-sorta-102191">2012&rsquo;s outstanding <em>Silver Age</em></a> on the new <em>Beauty &amp; Ruin, </em>his 11<sup>th</sup> solo album. Once again fronting the powerful but empathetic rhythm section of drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy, the theme for the 53-year-old guitarist and vocalist still is raging against the dying of the light, though he intends a more specific arc of three sections here, portraying his movement from pain to reflection to acceptance following the death of his father, with whom he had a troubled relationship. If it doesn&rsquo;t quite match the brilliance of his last outing, that&rsquo;s only because there&rsquo;s a little more drone and a little less melody (Bob&rsquo;s roar is always most effective when it&rsquo;s balanced by those sweet hooks) and, not surprisingly, a little less humor in the lyrics this time around. But standouts like &ldquo;Hey Mr. Grey&rdquo; and &ldquo;I Don&rsquo;t Know You Anymore&rdquo; rank with his very best.</p><p><strong>Bob Mould, <em>Beauty &amp; Ruin </em>(Merge)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 06:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/uncle-bob-does-it-again-110375 Lana Del Rey walks the tightrope http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/lana-del-rey-walks-tightrope-110358 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/del%20rey.jpg" title="" /></p><p>No one can be surprised that the grand construct of Lizzy Grant&rsquo;s career, the self-abusing, retro-minded, anti-empowerment femme fatale better known as Lana Del Rey, is decidedly <em>not</em> a woman of her word. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think I&rsquo;ll write another record,&rdquo; she said in 2012 after the release of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-01-31/album-review-lana-del-rey-%E2%80%98born-die%E2%80%99-interscope-96007">her second effort <em>Born to Die</em></a><em>. </em>&ldquo;I feel like everything I&nbsp;wanted to say, I said already.&rdquo; Yet here she is again, saying more of the same &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a bad girl who likes bad boys and gets hurt bad&rdquo; crap that didn&rsquo;t really need to be said last time, and smirking about the backlash to the backlash that greeted her much-debated breakthrough by simultaneously mocking and kissing up to the crowd that inexplicably embraces her tired act.</p><p>&ldquo;And my boyfriend&rsquo;s in the band/He plays guitar while I sing Lou Reed/I&rsquo;ve got feathers in my hair/I get high on hydroponic weed/And my jazz collection&rsquo;s rare/I get down to beat poetry/I&rsquo;m a Brooklyn baby/I&rsquo;m a Brooklyn baby,&rdquo; she trills in a chorus to the song of that name, while anyone with half a brain retches.</p><p>Mostly, though, Del Rey is just a bore. Working with producer Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, she falls even shorter of her stated goal of creating the postmodern &ldquo;gangsta Nancy Sinatra,&rdquo; eschewing the hints of hip-hop we got last time for a straighter mix of early &rsquo;50s cocktail lounge schmaltz and echoes of spaghetti Western ambience. If anything, this is made even less enticing than it sounds by virtue of the fact that she (still) cannot sing, as is made glaringly obvious by ponderous and lumbering chanteuse showcases such as &ldquo;Pretty When I Cry,&rdquo; &ldquo;Money Power Glory,&rdquo; &ldquo;Old Money,&rdquo; &ldquo;Black Beauty,&rdquo; and the (allegedly) ironic &ldquo;F---ed My Way Up to the Top.&rdquo;</p><p>Lord almighty, musically, lyrically, attitudinally, and just about every other way you can name, <em>this </em>is why we need <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/le-butcherettes-are-back-vengeance-110032">Le Butcherettes</a>, Tweens, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-03/rimshots-powerful-stuff-two-alt-country-hell-raisers-109805">Lydia Loveless and Angel Olsen</a>, and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/savages-drop-startlingly-powerful-debut-107065">Savages</a>, to name just a few of the real recent femme fatales who put dear Lizzy to shame by not only promising but actually delivering a little of the ol&rsquo; ultraviolence.</p><p><strong>Lana Del Rey, <em>Ultraviolence </em>(Interscope)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: .5 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 14:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/lana-del-rey-walks-tightrope-110358 Casey Kasem, the letter U and the numeral two http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/casey-kasem-letter-u-and-numeral-two-110348 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/u2_negativland.jpg" style="height: 439px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>With all due respect to Kemal Amin Kasem&mdash;both to the loved ones who lost him on Father&rsquo;s Day at age 82, and to anyone with fond memories of <em>American Top 40, </em>the show he hosted seemingly forever, and which introduced all of us to many a memorable hit (as well as a lot of crap)&mdash;the legendary broadcaster was as symbolic of everything that was wrong with big, corporate, bought-and-paid-for commercial radio as he was of the power of those amazing littler transistors to make us feel less alone and connected to something bigger and better.</p><p>You can read plenty about his career and accomplishments elsewhere, in the obits. But me, I haven&rsquo;t been able to hear his name for the last 23 years without thinking of media satirists and pioneering sample artists Negativland, who released a 12-inch single called &ldquo;U2&rdquo; via SST Records in 1991 that quickly became one of the all-time great &ldquo;lost&rdquo; discs, as well as a fitting tribute&mdash;<em>or something</em>&mdash;to &ldquo;Casey&rdquo; Kasem.</p><p>Heedless that the microphone might still be live and that engineers might be recording even when he wasn&rsquo;t &ldquo;on air,&rdquo; Kasem was notorious for profane tirades about anything that ticked him off. He launched into a particularly good one on a day in 1987 when one of his trademark &ldquo;long distance dedications&rdquo; about somebody&rsquo;s late pet led into U2&rsquo;s &ldquo;I Still Haven&rsquo;t Found What I&rsquo;m Looking For.&rdquo; The host hated that his dead-dog spiel was connected to such an &ldquo;up-tempo&rdquo; number&mdash;never mind that the tune is more bombastic than peppy&mdash;and that prompted him to start complaining about the band (he pronounced its name as &ldquo;the letter U and the numeral two&rdquo;) and how &ldquo;nobody gives a [bleep]&rdquo; about &ldquo;these guys&hellip; from England.&rdquo; (Actually, they&rsquo;re from Ireland, but he was on a roll.)</p><p>All of that made its way onto tape and into Negativland&rsquo;s archive of twisted wonders, finally unfurling on record over a version of &ldquo;I Still Haven&rsquo;t Found What I&rsquo;m Looking For&rdquo; rendered on kazoos. For that as much as for the fact that Island Records somehow thought that this ultra-underground release would conflict with the marketing hype for the then-upcoming <em>Achtung Baby</em>, confusing record buyers and maybe costing a sale or two, SST and Negativland got well and thoroughly sued, and the vinyl disappeared from the bins almost as soon as it arrived. (I treasure my copy; I just wish I could find it!)</p><p>A few months after the legal filing, members of U2 were ambush-interviewed by members of Negativland, and the stars apologized for their litigiousness, blaming their label. (That would never happen now that they&rsquo;re partners with Live Nation; ha!) But in addition to the light that Negativland&rsquo;s &ldquo;U2&rdquo; sheds on the real Shaggy, er, Kasem, I&rsquo;ve always appreciated the perspective it adds to the worldwide global corporation of Bono &amp; Co.</p><p>In any event, here&rsquo;s the infamous track on YouTube (and ain&rsquo;t that a wonder?). Warning: As you may have gleaned, it definitely is not safe for work.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Z6gPSSYxex0" width="420"></iframe></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Sun, 15 Jun 2014 19:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/casey-kasem-letter-u-and-numeral-two-110348 F*cked Up f*ckin’ rules http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/fcked-fckin%E2%80%99-rules-110332 <p><p>Slowly but surely over the 13-odd years since its formation in Toronto, F*cked Up has pulled off a rare feat for a group with roots in the marginalized hardcore underground: It&rsquo;s made itself impossible to ignore, both in the mainstream media (which continues to wrestle with how to publish its name) and in hep indie-rock circles (and not only because it signed to Matador). Via the absurdly ambitious concept album <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-07-05/album-review-fcked-%E2%80%98david-comes-life%E2%80%99-matador-88566"><em>David Comes to Life</em></a> (2011), the undeniable melodies of <a href="http://www.jimdero.com/News%202010/FuckedUp.htm"><em>The Chemistry of Common Life</em></a> (2008), or the inescapable intensity and sheer bulk of smart and personable front man Damian &ldquo;Pink Eyes&rdquo; Abraham, the band has made itself a force to be reckoned with, however unlikely that once seemed. (I mean, if pop stardom was <em>your</em> goal, would you really choose <em>that</em> band name?)</p><p>Nevertheless, not since Hüsker Dü has a band melded pop songcraft and punk intensity so effectively, and F*cked Up never has been better than on its laser-focused fourth full studio album <em>Glass Boys</em>. Critics who quibble about Abraham&rsquo;s guttural roar or the sometimes overly ornate poetry of his lyrics (&ldquo;I&rsquo;m a stone sleeping in the cinder/You are the flame dancing on the tinder&rdquo;) are missing the fact that in hardcore, as in, say, death metal, the lyrics and vocals are not meant to be consumed the same ways as in other genres&mdash;they&rsquo;re as much a mood-setting instrument as any other in the mix. That is to say, singer-songwriter sophistry this ain&rsquo;t; it&rsquo;s all about <em>the feeling</em>.</p><p>The dominant feeling, this time as on previous outings, is an open-ended rage against the machine leavened with an optimistic hope in the power of community. This ain&rsquo;t new in punk, but rarely has it been such a joy to listen to, thanks to the sweet backing vocals that sometimes caress Abraham&rsquo;s howl (&ldquo;Sun Glass&rdquo;), the trademark, near-orchestral wall of distorted guitars (&ldquo;The Art of Patrons&rdquo;), the hidden hooks highlighted by unexpected production flourishes (&ldquo;Echo Boomer&rdquo;), and&mdash;the real star here&mdash;the unrelenting wallop of drummer Jonah Falco, who multi-tracked his parts four times to make for an even more potent cinderblock to the head than usual. And I mean that in the very best way.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Fucked%20Up%20cover.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/94V-XCSQNGQ" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>F*cked Up, <em>Glass Boys </em>(Matador)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 4 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/fcked-fckin%E2%80%99-rules-110332 The old punk in 'Orange is the New Black' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/old-punk-orange-new-black-110331 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Two%20Goldens.jpg" style="height: 242px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div><p>Having finished binge-watching Season Two of <em>Orange is the New Black</em>, I have three brief, non-spoiler alert observations&mdash;two as an amateur TV critic, and one in my usual role as <em>observateur</em> <em>de la roche.</em></p><p>1. Early in my career, as a reporter in New Jersey, I did a series of investigative stories on the abysmal conditions at the Hudson County Jail. Things there actually were much, much worse than anything the series has shown at the fictional Litchfield Prison in Upstate New York, or even during Piper Chapman&rsquo;s brief stay in Chicago. But based on those observations and dozens of interviews back in the day, and granting the inhumanity of a prison system that remains an international disgrace, many more inmates were like this season&rsquo;s lethal super-villain Vee Parker than Piper or any of the other increasingly lovable crew of misfits around her. The show really needs to guard against becoming <em>Friends Behind Bars</em>.</p><p>2. Piper Kerman&rsquo;s book is a great read, and highly recommended to any fan of the show. Some of this season&rsquo;s deviations from the story that inspired the show were very well done and in keeping with the unsparingly harsh but purposely non-sensational tone of her memoir. But other plot twists verge toward clichéd soap-opera territory, and show runner Jenji Kohan really needs to watch that, too.</p><p>3. Finally, while it nagged at me all through Season One, I finally made the connection midway through these 13 new episodes that, yes, the Annie Golden playing Norma Romano, the mute sidekick of Kate Mulgrew&rsquo;s &ldquo;Red&rdquo; Reznikov, is in fact <em>the </em>Annie Golden of the Shirts&mdash;the <em>other </em>female-fronted band after Blondie during the original explosion of punk in the mid-&rsquo;70s. (And shame on me for not confirming it after Norma/Golden&rsquo;s surprising vocal debut at the end of <em>last </em>season.)</p><p>A favorite of C.B.G.B. owner Hilly Kristal, who, contrary to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-11/unlike-punk-itself-cbgb-missed-opportunity-109119">that awful recent movie</a>, never really understood the best bands he showcased on the Bowery, the Shirts definitely were in the second tier of the groundbreaking bands in that era. Their best moment was their self-titled 1978 debut, released on Harvest in the U.K. after they were signed by Nick Mobbs (the same man who signed Wire) and produced by Mike Thorne (the same guy who produced those brilliant art-punks). The closest they got to a hit was &ldquo;Hang Up the Phone&rdquo; in 1984, which showcased a much poppier, more pandering New Wave sound. I prefer the early garage grit.</p><p>With cult status (at best) as a rocker, Golden always supplemented her income by acting&mdash;she appeared in Miloš Forman&rsquo;s 1979 film version of <em>Hair</em>&mdash;and she eventually became a familiar presence on Broadway. (She played Squeaky Fromme in Stephen Sondheim&rsquo;s 1990 musical <em>Assassins</em>&mdash;not his best moment. Maybe that&rsquo;s what landed her in prison.) Still, seeing her in <em>Orange is the New Black </em>is a surprise.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a small world, eh? Not as small as Litchfield, but still&hellip;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/rHqpdVNd88g" width="420"></iframe></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Thu, 12 Jun 2014 09:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/old-punk-orange-new-black-110331 No surprises from Jack White's second solo album http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/no-surprises-jack-whites-second-solo-album-110314 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lazaretto2.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>The back story for Jack White&rsquo;s second solo album <em>Lazaretto </em>is unusually lengthy, especially for a man who&rsquo;s celebrated as one of rock&rsquo;s most immediate, from-the-gut voices&mdash;someone who&rsquo;s known to spend less time crafting a record than some people squander in choosing a bottle of wine. If we believe the press release (and the man <em>has </em>been prone to spinning tales), work began shortly after the release of his solo bow <em>Blunderbuss </em>in 2012, when he discovered a pile of one-page short stories and plays in his attic, written in Detroit half his lifetime ago, at age 19. With a bit of cutting and pasting, adding and deleting, these tales became the basis for 11 tracks recorded (on analog tape, of course) with permutations of the two alternating bands from the <em>Blunderbuss </em>tour.</p><p>If the last disc held a few surprises just by virtue of the fact that we were hearing White out on his own for the first time, the emotions and sounds here&mdash;lulling/seductive (&ldquo;Entitlement&rdquo;), lustfully braggadocious &ldquo;Three Women&rdquo;), or angry (the title track); raw (&ldquo;High Ball Stepper&rdquo;), soulful (&ldquo;Temporary Ground&rdquo;), or funky (&ldquo;That Black Bat Licorice&rdquo;), and always melodically potent&mdash;are familiar to anyone with a passing acquaintance to the White Stripes&rsquo; catalog. But more of the same from White hardly is a problem when it&rsquo;s more of the same that&rsquo;s this consistently rewarding.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/cYF0LtfUvJs" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Jack White, <em>Lazaretto</em> (Third Man/XL/Columbia)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.</strong></p><p><em>Follow me on Twitter </em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em>, join me on </em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em>, and podcast </em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em> and </em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em>.</em></p></p> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 16:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/no-surprises-jack-whites-second-solo-album-110314