Local Natives Play New Songs and Cramer Stuns

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Went on down to San Diego for this special gig — came for L.A. favorites Local Natives, and stayed for newcomer Cramer. Well, she played first, but I would have stayed if I wasn’t already there. (Someone check my math on that.) To find out why, click above. Photos by Woo Juon.

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Informer: A Brief History of White Reggae

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This one’s, ahem, a Labour of Love if you will (shout out UB40). It went live a few days after my D’Angelo review, and I was too embarrassed to post these two side by side. Four months later, I’m into it. Like so many lefty caucasians raised in 420-friendly families, I ingested a lot of reggae as a yout’ and, for a brief high school moment, thought I’d found saviors in 311 and Sublime. I still bump a lot of Jamaican roots, but the time has come to give dap to the odd phenomena of blond dreadlocks and fake patois (shout out Das Racist), plus the restless audio hybridizing of the ’90s. This list goes back to the very birth of white reggae in 1965, and ends in 2014 with that most irie and unexpected of recent hits, “Rude.” Peep it on SPIN.* Continue reading

Coachella 2015: Bands, Drugs, Breakfasts, Thongs

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Photog Wilson Lee and I hit Coachella 2015 for SPIN, and all we got were three manic daily diaries about Steely Dan melodics solos, run-ins with Rihanna, and heaping piles of hash browns. Plus, a bunch of fantastic photos and some floor drugs. Check it all out:

SXSW 2015 Live: Angel Olsen, Courtney Barnett, Laura Marling, Screaming Females, Waxahatchee, Shamir

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Went down to Austin with Diffuser to eat heaping piles of sweet meat and watch folks with guitars rip it up (not the meat—that was already shredded). In what came as no surprise to anyone, axe-wielding women owned SXSW 2015. Angel Olsen, Courtney Barnett, Laura Marling, Screaming Females… It just happens that the best photo I got was of a guy—Steve Gunn hitting the Miller Highlife—but you can read about all of those sets and more (plus food and ping-pong), via links below. Peep the Instagram for photos from each gig I caught. Continue reading

The 100 Best Alternative Songs of 1994

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Posterity Post: I wrote thousands of articles while on staff at SPIN and blogged none of them.

Last year we went deep on 1994 (remember my interview with Coolio?), starting with the music of the time. Now, I was 12 years old that year, so you’ll have to grant me some lenience when it comes to my posts on songs by Counting Crows and Toad the Wet Sprocket. Actually, I’ll die before I apologize for loving August and Everything After. Adam Duritz may be a ham today, but he saw straight into my soul then. I also wrote about Rage Against the Machine, Supergrass, Nick Cave, Portishead, Bush, Beastie Boys, Weezer, and Beck. Continue reading

Review: D’Angelo’s Bleak & Messy ‘Black Messiah’

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Lest you think the header is negative, consider the times we live in. “Bleak and messy” should seem apt to anyone who’s following the news with any heart at all, and it’s a powerful piece of art that can channel the Now into its medium — especially if that work, this album, is 14 years in the making. You’ve been hearing the hype; now here’s some more to consider. More importantly, open your ears to D’Angelo’s Black Messiah. And make sure you’re reading along with the lyrics when you do. I unpacked what I could, but I’m still learning as I listen. Continue reading

Arrested in Texas (and Other Sketchy Listicles)

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Posterity Post: I wrote thousands of articles while on staff at SPIN and blogged none of them.

Today’s entry rounds some funky listicles from SPIN, starting with a Fiona Apple-inspired selection of artists who’ve been caught holding in Texas (from Puddle of Mudd to Misfits, and Snoop Dogg to Randy Travis). Next up: Pop Goes the Super Bowl; 30 Thriller‘s Pop Culture References; and 10 Ranked Covers of Radiohead’s “Creep.” Last but not least, I wrote a few entries for Christopher Weingarten’s hulking Animal Collective Centipedia (only ones I’m sure of are Quasimoto, Floating Points, and Lee “Scratch” Perry). Total geekery.

Remember the Coachella Cruise?

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Posterity Post: I wrote thousands of articles while on staff at SPIN, and blogged none of them.

Well, do you? This guy does. He was there and it was awesome. On the first day, Pulp performed in the boat’s massive internal ballroom, while Broaters on the top deck got gross in the hot tubs. On the second day, Father John Misty played to a bunch of rich, unappreciative assholes, and Grimes hosted a game of bingo. On the third day, James Murphy poured rare wine and Black Lips convinced me to eat escargot. I documented the weirdness for SPIN. Continue reading