Goodbye Bill … Goodbye Stefon … Such a great farewell.
I’m going to say something here and now that could quite possibly get me shot in the street by the throng of music nerds who eagerly awaited the new Daft Punk album for years on end. The truth is that I’ve never been able to sit through an entire Daft Punk record without wanting to skip over certain tracks.
Sure I like Daft Punk as much as the next guy. But what I knew of Daft Punk is that they were a lot of dance tracks. Mostly dance tracks. Almost only dance tracks. A series of singles with a main goal to get your ass on the floor and dance. And they did it/do it well. So as much as I have always thought “Something About Us” was their most interesting song, there are infinity fans who only want “Robot Rock” “Face To Face” “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” and “One More Time.” The people who loved that notion of Daft Punk faced a bit of a shock yesterday when the new album “Random Access Memories” finally released on iTunes.
Daft Punk created a concept album. It’s a relatively organic album for Daft Punk. It’s an album where the synth and vocoders are less prevalent but are still there. It’s an album they openly said was influenced by the sound of disco and California in the 1970’s. It’s mellow. It’s groovy. It’s sexy as fuck.* But that throbbing dance music that kept you on the floor clamoring for never ending extended remixes are gone. Oh you’ll still dance. But they’ve outgrown the need for you to pump your fist and stomp the floor. The robots have something more interesting in mind. Their interpretation of a moment in time that inspired them.
That being said, it’s about to become really cool to shit on Daft Punk. Because that same throng of fans I mentioned earlier that have waited nearly a decade for an album that wasn’t a soundtrack, are gonna be mad that this isn’t the Daft Punk they expected and loved. So get ready. Because the entire album wasn’t the lead single (“Get Lucky”) or the next level of “Technologic” people will call sell out or bullshit. These are the same people who abandoned Radiohead when Kid A released because they wanted the next OK Computer (a comparison I have heard multiple times.) They wanted one thing, got something completely different then declared it crap.** It isn’t shit. It’s just not what you wanted. Which is a problem that comes with hype.
Do I like it? Absolutely. It’s the first Daft Punk record where I don’t want to skip over tracks. I want to hear the album on repeat over and over and over again. I want the whole experience. I want to feel like I’m witnessing the death of disco and embracing the early sketches of neu wave. I want 70’s songwriter Paul Williams to serenade me while the androids play behind him. I wand the sick DJ scratches behind the Moroder track. I want the last track which evolves/devolves into something I could imagine was inspired by My Bloody Valentine. Others may think this is the downfall of Daft Punk. I think it’s their masterpiece.
* - Weirdly, it’s the opposite of the above comparison. It’s more “Something About Us” and less “Robot Rock.” At times it feels like the next evolution of “Digital Love.”
** - Meanwhile, over time several prominent and respected music publications (not just Rolling Stone or Pitchfork) have declared Kid A the best album in the last 20 Years.
I am on the road right now in my hometown of Atlanta. I had a great weekend of shows at Laughing Skull Lounge, but I was most looking forward to Monday night. Every Monday night for the last 10 years or so, at a little dive bar in Atlanta’s “bohemian” neighborhood, little 5 points; there is a…
This guy knows exactly what he’s talkin about. Was nice to poke my head in a week ago and say hello to Rotknee.
It didn’t always have to be funny. Sometimes it was just … pretty.
The art world was shaken to it’s very core yesterday as an exceptionally popular piece was stolen from the Manhattan Museum Of Modern Art.
The exhibit titled “The Maybe”, a surprise occasional performance piece which prominently features Tildan Swinton sleeping in a glass case was removed without warning by six masked men. No one protested the theft as they thought it was part of the bizarre attraction.
When reached for comment, the curator of the museum was devastated, but admired the level of integrity shared by the thieves. “The piece is one that represents the unfaltering quizzical nature of the current art world. The fact that they singled this particular piece out reveals that the thieves have a keen taste for modern art.”
Police at the scene faced their own issues with the crime and were left unsure wether to qualify the incident as theft or kidnapping. After further inspection, more than just the life of a sleeping human being was taken. A blanket, pillow, glass case and jug of water were also removed. Therefore the crime was labeled as robbery on the grandest scale.
The theft is said to possibly cause quite a frenzy on the black market as dozens of private art collectors are more than interested in owning the massively popular item. Thomas Crown, a member at the museum, said: “Who wouldn’t want the actress from Vanilla Sky as a permanent installation in their living room? It would make a dazzling conversation piece at a party.”
When asked about leads, the detectives mentioned the possibility of involvement with international art thief “C. Sandiego”, though her whereabouts are unknown.
Swinton’s family appear unfazed. The children said in a statement: ”We live in a castle with our father and our mother’s lover … call us when something weird actually happens.”
More as the story develops.
*photo credit - Gothamist.com
Within the last month or so I have done something as a comedy nerd that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do. I have officially seen all of my living heroes perform live.
Eddie Izzard. I remember standing in line for hours to meet the action transvestite that I loved so dearly in my early twenties. I had just started to contemplate doing some form of comedy when I saw that he would be in town for a DVD signing. I tried to make him laugh, with no prior knowledge of joke structure or humor other than what I had seen. He was kind, heard me out and was genuine enough to give me a courtesy laugh for a terrible terrible George Bush joke. “Listen to Woody Allen,” he told me while the next person in line fidgeted with anticipation behind me. “Find all of his albums and listen.” It’s been almost a decade since then. Eddie is now so immensely popular he is able to sell out Madison Square Garden with ease. To prep for his new tour he tried out new material in tiny theaters all over north america for a month at a time in each location. Nothing was finished. This was his way of avoiding clubs to work out new stuff. People shelled out thirty bucks a pop to watch him “try.” I was able to catch one of these “prep shows” in a theatre that sat around hundred people off Bleecker Street. He came out onstage about ten minutes late and then performed a full hour set. By the time I caught this show, he had already performed in California for a month, then in Canada for a month, and was now three weeks into his New York run. None of the material by this point felt like it was experiencing it’s trial period by any means. His voice was raspy from either illness or performing at least two hours a night, five days a week for four weeks. He looked exhausted. But it didn’t stop him from delivering an impressive show. He worked through moderately topical material. He made callbacks to prior specials. Like always, he delivered what could amount to the funniest history lesson ever. Eddie has a way to make it all conversational. To make it all look easy. And seeing him in such an intimate venue for the first time was the best way I could imagine seeing him.
Steve Martin. Steve Martin is without question my biggest hero ever. My idol … the king. I watched “The Jerk,” “Roxanne” and “LA Story” over and over again as a youth. His albums are burned into my memory forever. And his prose is genuinely a collection of some of my favorite things ever written. I read “Born Standing Up” once a year and I have listened to it on audio book for any road trip I have ever made. The problem with seeing Steve live, is that he retired from performing stand-up comedy in the early eighties after becoming disenchanted with it. According to his autobiography and various interviews there was no chance I’d see Steve Martin perform stand up again. But starting around 2009, Martin started going out on the road again to tinker with banjo compositions in support of the bluegrass albums he had released. The secret is (was) as time has passed that his humor and wit were beginning to seep into his banjo performance. So when I saw a show go on sale billed as “An Evening Of Bluegrass and Comedy,” I was all too eager to pony up the dough. Reinvigorated by performing with the Grammy Award winning Steep Canyon Rangers, Martin does spend much of the performance playing bluegrass music. And to be frank, I have never been much of a bluegrass enthusiast of any sort. Still, this was incredible. The music was genuinely enchanting. But Martin has also found a way to turn this into a full fledged and always functioning comedy show. The feeling of seeing your hero walk out onstage in a bright cherry red suit and immediately start with not music, but jokes. Actual stand-up jokes. It was wonderful. Perfect. Brilliant. And although they played the Marcel Marceau part majority of the time, The band was always in on the bits. The billing was accurate. It was half comedy and half really exceptional music. He finished the night with a genuine love song, and after he took his bow and left. It was a poignant song. Bittersweet and mature. A serious farewell. I couldn’t have been a happier person leaving that theatre.
Bill Cosby. Hmmmm. Cosby was tough. When I was a kid, and we went on road trips in my moms white Nissan Stanza, we had three cassette tapes in the car. Two of them were Bill Cosby’s greatest tapes and the third was “Soul Provider” by Michael Bolton. It was on those trips that I fell in love with stand-up comedy and storytelling (and also developed a scary good Michael Bolton impression.) So seeing the guy who started it all for me was a huge deal indeed. But as we sat and watched Cos for the first twenty minutes, it dawned on us how old he was getting. I looked around the room to see people shuffling in their seats feeling the same uncomfortability as I did. Was he too old? Was it time for him to hang it up? We watched as he would start a bit and then abandon it. Then fumble through a bit. Then abandon it. Then another. Then another. We couldn’t keep track, and the laughs just weren’t coming. But all of a sudden, while all of us were starting to kick ourselves for paying over a hundred dollars to hear an old guy talk, Bill let loose. It was stories about relationships. It was stories about family. Stories about the difference between men and women. For the next hour after a shoddy twenty minutes I witnessed the man who made me want to be a comedian … define the word comedian. And he did it almost effortlessly. He dealt with hecklers who wanted to be a part of the show with ease. He included people. He made slick callbacks. He was the Cos I always wanted to see. He was my hero. And he was still just plain Bill.
Since moving to NY, I have seen some incredible things. I’ve been to hour special tapings. I’ve seen Patton Oswalts new stuff. I’ve seen an unannounced Chappelle tell stories of taking his kids to see the Spider-Man musical. I’ve seen Louie do his new hour just before Hurricane Sandy hit, front row and center. Nothing could compare to this past month. Eddie … Martin … Cosby …
Today was a very good day.
Atoms For Peace - “AMOK” (2013)
How To Destroy Angels - “Welcome Oblivion” (2013)
Grimes - “Visions” (2012)
My Bloody Valentine - “m b v” (2013)
Ultraista - “Ultraista” (2012)