Pop
Snow in April

Snow in April

When the surprising news of Prince’s death was announced last week, I reflexively moved to post something to social media. And so did a great many of my friends. But we were immediately reminded of just how little material was available for free online. His insistence on being properly compensated for his work had made it hard to mourn him collectively through social media. More»

Between Hype and Pastries

Between Hype and Pastries

The problem with New York City is that it has to live up to itself. New Yorkers constantly have to prove they are worthy and, at the same time, make enough cash to survive. Don’t get me wrong. Portland’s timber industry has never been saintly. But there’s just less at stake in lumberjack posturing here, and there’s more time for humanity behind the nose rings than in Williamsburg. More»

Tears For Fears Appear

Tears For Fears Appear

Portland’s south waterfront venue was open, though Tears For Fears weren’t due to play for another seven hours. The main stage was flanked by industrial sized mesh banners of Captain Pabst who bears, at least at that scale, an uncanny resemblance to Colonel Sanders. If it is Pabst, there’s no sign of him on the cans, although Project Pabst did provide festival-themed PBR souvenir cans complete with the Project unicorn for an investment of a mere $4. More»

Before Tears for Fears

Before Tears for Fears

One of the great overlooked virtues of filling our lives with apps is the ease of using any API-equipped public transportation system. Yes, there will be times when having a car parked next to your white picket fence is the best way of picking up the kids from four different locations, and bring them home early enough to start cooking dinner before your wife comes home. More»

Hunting for Tears For Fears in Portland

Hunting for Tears For Fears in Portland

I was heading to Portland, Oregon — America’s hipster haven — to take in the inaugural Project Pabst, a weekend-long music festival from the makers of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Despite Pabst Brewing Company’s recent sale to a Russian owner, PBR, the post-ironic beer ne plus ultra, seemed perfectly suited to Portland. More»

Tex-Mex Europop

Tex-Mex Europop

My patience was wearing thin. After two hours of sampling the new releases at one listening station after another, I was starting to wonder whether I’d ever find something that sounded fresh. And then an album caught my eye. Everything about it was out of sync with its surroundings: the bright, neo-psychedelic colors; the pedestrian sans-serif font; and, most of all, the name it spelled out: Bosnian Rainbows. More»

True Beliebers

True Beliebers

On Friday evening, Justin Bieber visited the Anne Frank House. On Saturday, the museum shared that information on its Facebook page. Along with a portrait of the nineteen-year-old singer, staff reported Bieber comparing the Holocaust heroine to one of his fans. More»

Anti-American Techno

Anti-American Techno

Gangnam Style is not a protest song. If anything, the 2012 hit, by Korean rapper Psy, is a celebration of meaninglessness, a musically repurposed novelty phrase, in a non-English language, cleverly paired with pedestrian, early ‘90s rave arragements.  Imagine Americans’ shock when its author, about to perform at the White House, was outed for inciting against the US military, back in 2004. More»

Shock of the Old

Shock of the Old

70s Rock Must Die.” Released at the tail end of the grunge era, you couldn’t help but snicker. Arriving too late to discredit the next-wave power ballad revival led by bands like Nickleback, Lard’s AC/DC parody was a welcome reminder of a forgotten punk value: anti-nostalgia. More»

Whitney Comes Alive

Whitney Comes Alive

“I’m every woman,” sang Whitney Houston. Perhaps. Her vulnerabilities were easy to identify with. Being African American, and closeted, didn’t hurt. Had she overdosed? Was the legacy of slavery the final nail in her coffin? Everything is possible. The sheer number of potential causes was entirely in keeping. More»

Communists Against Soft Rock

Communists Against Soft Rock

“James Taylor, Marked For Death.” The title of a 1971 essay by the late rock critic Lester Bangs was a watershed moment in American music criticism. Denouncing the smarmy folk rocker for, among other things, nurturing his own cult of personality, some critics contend that Bangs’ attack on Taylor was one of the first instances of punk music journalism. More»

Waiting for the Hurricane

Waiting for the Hurricane

Sometimes the mud stirred up by a storm contains gold. Sometimes it just shoots out the Superfund sludge that should have been cleared a half century ago.

Sitting in a post-Katrina New York, bracing myself for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, I turned to Grooveshark for the obvious song, Chris de Burgh’s ironically apropos Waiting for the Hurricane, from 1981. More»