Tag Archives: music

The 10 best arty and musicky and designy and webby things that happened this year, to the best of my memory

A meta-list of notable and memorable things from 2014, in more or less chronological order.

1. Getting to see Vermeer’s famous Girl With a Pearl Earring in person, albeit with about a thousand other sweaty persons stuffed into the Frick on the last day of this Dutch painting exhibit. I couldn’t get as close as I hoped, but it was still worth it. The painting is luminous.

2. St. Vincent’s better-than-ever live show in support of her best-to-date record. I love how she shreds. And shreds.

3. A trip to Vienna, where I took in the Egon Schiele- and Gustav Klimt-heavy Leopold Museum, and a day running around spying murals in Berlin, including this massive spaceman:

spaceman

4. Graphic designer Adam Lewis Greene was looking for $37,000 to Kickstart the designing of a new Bible and wound up blowing well past a million dollars. Why? It’s a simple but cool idea: to present it in the format of a novel, with no chapters or numbers or annotation, with the possible benefit that someone might read it for what it means on the whole (and not to “aggressively” pull out single verses to clobber people with). It’s called Bibliotheca, elegantly presented with a font he designed especially for the project, and with stylish letterpress prints that caught my eye.

biblioteca

5. Boyhood. Coulda watched it for three more hours. It ended just as my interest was peaking.

6. Wait, is it still 2005? I wouldn’t have anticipated that both Spoon and the New Pornographers would put out fantastic releases this year – arguably the best of their careers? – ten years after the height of their popularity. Or whatever you call popularity in the world of indie rock. “Educated folks singers want my soul.” I’m feeling you, Britt.

spoon pornos

7. TL;DR Wikipedia: Wikipedia condensed for your pleasure, in this parody site from someecards. (Full disclosure: I’m a contributor, but if I wasn’t I’d still be on here all the time.)

conf call

8. The street art show at the now demolished but long defunct Precinct 21 police station on East 22nd St. in Manhattan. “four floors of dope.” I wrote about it in August.

9. Um, Too Many Cooks.

10. Lucius at Terminal 5. I liked Lucius’ more-or-less debut album in 2013, and I liked the band even more after seeing them live at the beginning of the year – the kudos they get for their live act is well-earned. This show was a homecoming for them after a year on the road, and it was a total home run, from the goosebump-inducing opener of “Go Home” to the ambitious crowd surfing to the confettied John Lennon Christmas-cover finale.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

honorable mentions 2014

Swoon at the Brooklyn Museum, the (announcement of the) resurrection of Twin Peaks, Over the Rhine’s continued excellence in the musical space they call “reality Christmas,” The Juan Maclean keeping DFA dance music on the map, and – is this really the only book I can recall reading this year? – my New Yorker editor Bob Mankoff’s entertaining cartoon memoir.

 

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Merry Xmas! 2 for the price of none

OK, I like Christmas music. I shouldn’t have to apologize for it. Well, some of it.

An author once said that the reason he writes books is because he has questions, not answers. Every year I put together a mix of Christmas-related music here, and it is my own attempt to address the question “where can I find good Christmas music that I’m not going get bludgeoned with everywhere else, but that isn’t just different for different’s sake?” So I’m at it again. As per usual, there’s every type of music on here – cheeky mashups, golden-era chestnuts, juicy soul, pine-scented Americana, gluten-free desserts, firesafe lighting strings, vintage stockings, I don’t even know where this list is going. Just enjoy it. You can listen to it here and/or download it from SoundCloud.

 

 

And… just because I was feeling it, I decided to make another mix with all of the songs that I liked, but that were too snoozy, and would have killed the vibe of the previous one. Yeah, another! But its quieter. It’s pretty nice. I have to admit something: I tested this mix on animals. I totally did. Defenseless bunnies and rescue monkeys and a turtle. No worries: they freaking loved it. So I think I’m in good shape, legally. It’s here also. Enjoy!

 

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Interview: Jeff Thompson

I did an interview with Jeff Thompson last month, which is up at Curator magazine. Officially he’s the Assistant Professor and Program Director of Visual Art Technology at Stephens Institute of Technology, but what that means is that he’s an artist who prefers to mess around with computer code. He does fascinating work. We talked about abusing Photoshop, Twitter bots, Andy Warhol, and why Nokia will probably never hire him to write a ringtone. Check it out!

art-assign-bot

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I went to SXSW and all I made was this lousy video

I went to the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX last week. My expert analysis is that it was a blast (you can probably go elsewhere for longer and better writing about the event). I saw a ton of great music, some of which I captured on my now-long-defunct-but-still-working Flip camera. A lot of the good moments never made it to video: Lucius at the Paste day party, St. Vincent’s suddenly electric stage show, two guys somehow colliding and then hugging while crowd surfing at Grackle, an out-of-town after-hours party DJed by Matthew Dear blanketed in dry ice, all the shows that I missed. Still, here’s a little collection of nuggets – 17 nuggets, to be exact – of some of the shows I enjoyed the most. If you don’t know these artists, you should.

There’s nothing really scientific about it, except I put the stuff I liked most of all towards the beginning. So that’s something. Enjoy!

By the way, if you want to see some of the silly thumbs up/thumbs down video reviews I did at a previous SXSW that the New Yorker actually let us post online, it’s here, and here and a special bonus here

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The 10 best arty and musicky things that happened this year, to the best of my memory

In lieu of separate lists, here is a meta-list of the things I enjoyed the most this year (besides Art Basel, which I just wrote about a few days ago), in no particular order.

1. The skittish, slackerish, stream-of-consciousness Ninetiesish punk of Parquet Courts.

2. The graphic stories of Allie Brosh. She portrays herself as some kind of monster who is a crudely amateurish artist. She is neither.

Brosh

3. This deliciously eye-popping piece of street art from Tristan Eaton in Little Italy, NYC.

jux_tristan_eaton_2

click here to see full list

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Xmas 2013 mixtape: Ho, Ho, Ho, and Ho

See what I did there? I added a fourth Ho just because this is that much better.

2013 xmas

Last year my yearly Christmas music mix – yeah, the outer-space themed one – intentionally jumped the shark. It was fun to make, but kind of an ambitious mess, in the end. But the holidays are not supposed to be that challenging, so this year’s is back to just being fun again. I’m not trying to be eclectic just for it’s own sake here. Whether it’s a soulful doo-wop recording or a batty Major Lazer mashup banger, I want a Christmas song that will stand the test of time, so that this can be listened to now and also in the future. And I’ve got some other unlisted surprises including a Lou Reed greeting from the 80s mixed in here, so play away.

All my previous mixes are here – the 2010 one might be my favorite, with some stuff I snagged before it apparently disappeared forever – and this year’s can be listened to or downloaded below, or direct from Soundcloud. Enjoy, and happy holidays.

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SXSW 2013: what was that again?

I just got back from attending the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX once again. My feet are swollen, my ears are ringing, and my stomach just said “go ahead – I dare you to eat another pulled pork taco.” And I want to go back to sleep. But it was all worth it. I got to see long-established artists who I had never seen before (Nick Cave, Kelly Hogan), buzzy up-and-comers who were worth the hype (Rhye, Savages), and I also got to stumble onto previously unheard-of acts that were satisfying (San Cisco, Heliotropes). It’s all about trade-offs. Yeah, I missed a shot to go see Prince and A Tribe Called Quest, but in that time I scurried around to see nine bands at six different venues, and when do you ever get to do that?

For a music fan it’s an embarrassment of riches, really. It’s almost like you don’t even need a guide. You just think of a band you like that put outbabychino
a record in the last year or two and voila! there they are, playing two blocks away. You only have to fight your way through all the “Free Hugs”and the sidewalk drummers and DJ Babychino, supposedly “the world’s youngest DJ” and the DJ who additionally sounds like a fancy coffee drink.

Anyhow, with two thousand bands performing it does become a challenge to figure out who you want to see, and it’s even more of a challenge to figure out who you did see. So I made this list to help me remember.

sxsw2013_bands2

I also took some video, since the Flip camera hasn’t given out on me yet, and put together my own little highlight reel from this year’s experience, below. It’s best viewed eating a pulled pork taco and drinking a Shiner Bock.

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