In a career almost twenty years long, the Manic Street Preachers have never gained a massive following in the US. In their native UK, the Manics have been among those ranks of bands that everyone knows--their songs became drunken anthems in London's working-class pubs long before the boys of Oasis even formed. Their music has always skated dangerously close to Rock 'n' Roll's edge--blistering guitar licks, a rhythm section that refuses to be part of the background, and lyrics that play as much with "I-don't-give-a-shit" nihilism as they do with meaning and purpose. While Grunge may have...
"Separate but equal." It's a term that is unavoidably associated with one of the most shameful episodes in American history--when racism and bigotry were legally codified, when a whole section of the population were denied the most basic of human rights. Today, "separate but equal" is taken seriously by nobody who actually believes in real equality. And yet, it's a logic that is shockingly alive in modern America.
The battle lines have been increasingly drawn over the past several months--in politics, culture, art, and in music. The economic crisis has provoked a palpable outrage among ordinary people that can't be denied. Unemployment continues to climb, schools and hospitals are being shut down, all the while bankers take their bailouts and laugh all the way to... well... wherever the hell bankers laugh all the way to.
Music has changed a lot in the past five years. It's become more urgent, more immediate, gained a higher degree of calculated grittiness and a slightly lower tolerance for bullshit. Pity nobody told Eminem that.
It's that time of year again. When swarms of music junkies shake off the winter cold, emerge from their bars and seedy venues, and converge at public parks, stadiums and racetracks all over the world. There's no doubt about it; summer belongs to the music festival.
This year will be bringing us as many as ever. Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, Hideout, tours like Warped and Rock the Bells, all bringing hundreds of today's most dynamic acts to hundreds of thousands if not millions of people.
A commonly heard description of Phil Spector among music aficionados is "brilliant but crazy." It may be glib, it may even be callous, but after his conviction in the murder of Lana Clarkson last week, it's hard to disagree with.
This was Spector's second trial in as many years; the first ended in a hung jury, with 10 to 2 in favor of conviction. Throughout the trials, he maintained that Clarkson killed herself in his Pyrenees Castle mansion in Alhambra, California in February, 2003.
Anyone want to go rob a bank?
A couple of years ago this question might not have gotten so many takers. But a lot changes in a couple of years. In the public mind, banks have gone from places where you merely keep your money to places that... well, steal your money. And your house. And--either directly or indirectly--your job. And after all of this, after running the economy into the ground, they're rewarded with billions of tax-payer dollars to fund their own executives' bonus pay.
It's surreal to think that it's already been fifteen years this week. Fifteen years since music lost one of its most gifted and tortured. A decade and a half since thousands of disaffected youth were forced to deal with the initial shock of losing someone they had identified as one of their own. Though Kurt Cobain never set out to do much more than make good music that said something, his death on April 5th, 1994 would end up leaving countless people feeling like they had lost a part of their voice.