Yes, I'm an ambassador for Record Store Day (that's even official). Yes, I have a single out on Record Store Day. Yes, my label is releasing a long lost track of Dub Sex (recorded by the legendary Martin Hannett, available in participating outlets). Yes, I have a list of records that are out that day that I'd like for my own collection. But does this make me biased? Yes, of course it does but it doesn't mean I can't have my say. I've heard the grumbles about there being too many releases, even conspiracy theories about major labels clogging up the schedules of pressing plants so that small labels can't get their stock in time. But, for me, these are good problems to have.
Emmylou Harris' Wrecking Ball came out in 1995, when I was 17 years old, and remains for me among the most influential albums I've ever heard. I have gone on to become a music historian, a rock critic, and a musician, and though I probably would have done all of those things with my life, it's tough to imagine the way my musical education would have progressed had it not been for Wrecking Ball.
When the first crappy music makes it into our house, I will sit my kids down, play the entire Pink Floyd discography, then The Beatles, then Simon & Garfunkel. And Bjork. And Death Cab for Cutie. And Arcade Fire. Then The Velvet Underground. Then Talking Heads.
Social networking was changing my views on Coachella and those views were rubbing me the wrong way. It was starting to feel that if you're a super cool person and if you're a somebody, you're at Coachella. I didn't like that one bit.
The following is probably the shortest interview I've ever done. But it gets to the heart of what I wanted to learn about this smart, warm and honest performer.
Kurt Cobain died on April 5, 1994, but we only found out about it on April 8, when an initially unidentified body was discovered in the room above his garage. I was in first-year university. As a father, I can't even fathom the depth of despair he must have been feeling to leave his daughter. And now as a listener with a child, I can't help but let that startling selfishness affect my feelings for his music.
If you listen to every Beck record released, you'll reach one conclusion: all of his songs sound completely different from the last.
The new-wave acts of the early '80s represent everything that mainstream pop acts aren't so free to be today. Imagine One Direction hitting the stage dressed like Kajagoogoo. Would teenage girls still go wild? Would Taylor Swift have dated one of them?
Drake assumes the role of the present day Berry Gordy Jr., behind his label he has assimilated a team of heavy hitters that do it all in-house.
I'm not trying to put down the fangirl/fanboy community at all. I just think people who enjoy putting other people down for not knowing about something as deeply as they do need to take a look in the mirror.
Nirvana did what all great bands do: they made everyone else catch up. Mainstream radio accommodated alternative music's idiosyncracies, in the case of Nirvana the confrontation of Cobain's distorted guitar, vocal roughness, sonic dissonance, and deliberately nonsensical lyrics. Whatever one's view of Cobain, it is undeniable that he set pop music on a new course.
I recently ended up on a talk radio show based in my hometown of Calgary. "Is this Rae Spoon?" asked the interviewer. "Yes, it is," I replied. "And you are transgender, right?" "Yes, I am." "And we're supposed to use a different word for you?"...In over 10 years, through the hundreds of interviews I'd done with people firing questions at me about being transgender, I had always tried to avoid answering the ones that sounded like they were something off of Jerry Springer.
To only remember Cobain as bitterly conflicted by his own success is to allow his suicide to overshadow the reason he was the anointed one.
It was a surreal spectacle to witness during a big-budget pop show in which so much as an unplanned stumble make headlines.
Nirvana remains an influence on all subsections of rock, from alternative to metal, but Kurt Cobain, bizarrely, also shows up frequently in modern hip-hop. In the summer of 2013, Jay-Z sampled some of "Teen Spirit" for his hit song "Holy Grail." But it was pointed out to me that Jay-Z's song is just one of at least a dozen times "Teen Spirit" has shown up in hip-hop or dance music.
Miley Cyrus' BANGERZ tour rolled into Toronto last night, less like a wrecking ball than a d-lysergic call to arms, replete with dancers of all shapes and sizes, including a little person and veritable giant, a gold-plated, cash-spewing car, her famed space kitten, an arena-high inflatable dog, an orgy-sized bed, furries, laser baby, a massive muppet, Abraham Lincoln, cowboy costumes, animation by Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi, a seven-piece band, giant bobble-headed rappers, countless barely-there bodysuits and a cover of "Jolene" that would make her godmother Dolly Parton pretty proud.