Take Two: The Best Music of 2014

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Shirley Halperin and I talk about some of our favorite albums from 2014. My picks included righteous works by D’Angelo (also reviewed for SPIN), Doug Paisley, Angel Olsen, and Caribou.

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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

The Best of Bonnaroo 2012: D’Angelo, fun., Flying Lotus, Das Racist, St. Vincent, Kurt Vile and more

Babe City, population:1 thrasher. St. Vincent gained another crowd fulla converts over the weekend by crawling on top of her fans for the entire length of the set-closing “Krokodil.” That was just one of the unforgettable moments documented by Team SPIN at Bonnaroo 2012 in Manchester, Tennessee. Best weather of the past three years, and a whole lot of best sets captured visually by Ian Witlen and Matt Ellis, and scribed about by Davids Marchese and Bevan, Luke McCormick, and yours truly. Indexed below for your easy access.

FIRST: 60 amazing photos from the festival!  ///// AND NOW: our coverage. Click on the day itself to read about the artists listed and more.

THURSDAY
1. Yelawolf: the best part came with a dedication to the Beastie Boys…
2. MiM0SA: his heart is in hip-hop: swag rap, bass beats, fx-riddled hyphy…
3. Mariachi El Bronx: horns swell, violin soars, percussion bursts…

FRIDAY
1. St. Vincent: writhing and convulsing like she’d been inhabited by demons…
2. Flying Lotus: each track sped up and spliced with all kinds of weird…
3. Ludacris: he played a steady stream of hits from his 12-year-old catalog…
4. Little Dragon: a dangerously locked-in dance band teetering on the edge…

SATURDAY
1. D’Angelo & Questlove: giving his first U.S. concert in nearly 12 years…
2. Das Racist: Kool thanked “The Gathering of the Juggalos” for having them…
3. Khaira Arby & Her Band:  flurries of notes from dueling guitars…

SUNDAY
1. fun.: the bellowing sing-alongs started with the first song and never let up…
2. Here We Go Magic: a rhythmic latter that leads to weirder heights still…
3. Kurt Vile & the Violators: Lou Reed covering Lou Barlow in a dank cave…

Feature: Dirty Projectors interviewed by SMS

The Dirty Projectors may be responsible for the year’s best album, a manic and schizo piece of art-pop released last month titled Bitte Orca. It’s the kind of record that begs a lot of questions — thoughful questions that couldn’t, say, be crunched into the 140-character limitations  of a Twitter post, or squeezed to the parameters of a series of SMSes. And yet, the latter is exactly what went down when, after ducking my best attempts to conduct a proper interview, DP’s David Longstreth at last offered his undivided attention — via text message. Click here to read the story (via LA Weekly), which unfolds this modern narrative in the context of the new album’s importance.

Vamos a Guatemala!

Howdy there web friend. Things will be a little quieter around Funny Ha Ha for a little bit, as this blog’s sole author/editor is heading to Guatemala tomorrow morn. I’ve got a ton of fresh work dropping while I’m gone, starting with this somewhat unusual Dirty Projectors piece, Balls Deep In The R&B (via LA Weekly). I’ll attempt brief updates from time to time but all bets are off until my return. Fresh jungle air is calling…