Great Songs, Terrible Bands: *NSYNC Goes “Pop”

An A.V. Club reader recently asked us for our favorite songs by terrible bands. Read everyone’s responses here (it’s pretty hilarious). Mine is pasted below:

For me, it’s gotta be “Pop” by ’N Sync. Born in ’82, I was weaned on New Kids On The Block, came of age to Boyz II Men, and was just old enough to despise Lou Pearlman’s bumper crop of follow-up boy bands. It was the worst of times for mainstream music, and be they bleach-tipped or corn-rowed, those little bastards were responsible for making the radio suck. And then, in the midst of meatheaded paeans to playerdom and sappy song-sized romance novels, there came this strangely self-aware single—one boy band’s plea for respect—and weirdly, it worked. At least, it worked on me. Justin Timberlake was always a standout in the group, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that he was responsible for the track’s lyrical sass—“Why you wanna try to classify the type of thing we do?”—as well as the concept of dubbing the group’s newly aggressive sound “dirty pop,” which felt a little bit like a knife slashing at his own group’s oeuvre, not to mention those of ’N Sync’s competitors. The beatbox solo was the icing on the cake, and a preview of the unexpected credibility that awaited JT in his solo career. Don’t you ever wonder why his music gets you high? This is the fizzy foundation of the Justin Timberlake we know and, yes, love today.

Breaking Out: Grouplove (+ Live SPIN Session)

I’m always the happiest when I can bring something local to the pages of SPIN. Though Grouplove’s constituent players are from all over the map, and they met on a small island in Greece, they call Los Angeles home and we’re happy to have ’em. There’s an element of the blindly treacly in their songs, but just as beauty in music doesn’t equate to dullness, happy doesn’t always mean it sucks. Besides, there’s a decent amount of dark creeping through their stuff, so, you know, sharpen your sweet tooth or lay flat. Read the piece here, which includes footage of three songs performed at the SPIN offices. Gruesome video after the jump.

Continue reading

Beauty With Teeth: Superhumanoids

The ever-sharp Nitsuh Abebe recently made the argument in his Why We Fight column that beauty in music, often maligned as the hallmark of generic appeal, needn’t be linked to dullness every time. In a world where Kurt Vile and Cass McCombs exist, it’s a point that’s hard to deny. Not that I’d want to. I’ll happily chase your No Ages, Wavvess and Fidlars through the garages, basements and vegan outposts of Los Angeles till the day I die, but I’ll never stop swooning to the pretty stuff, and there’s a lot of it going around locally these days.

Expect future posts on folks like Luke Rathborne and House of Wolves, over whom Jeff Buckley’s ghost looms large and glorious, but for now, I just wanna give love to Superhumanoids, who are currently recording their LP debut to be released next year. That’s their recent EP, Parasite Paradise (Hit City U.S.A.), streaming below, but do yrself a favor and hit the jump to watch their videos, which are also rare and pretty and sometimes a little strange. Toothy beauty.

Continue reading

Review: Dave Sitek from TV on the Radio Goes Pop as Maximum Balloon

TVOTR's Dave Sitek is a Maximum Balloon amongst maximal balloons.

Ha ha ha, clever headline, yes! If only I’d have thought of that when I wrote the review for The A.V. Club. At least 10 commenters could’ve taken me to task for egregious punning on the name of TV on the Radio’s David Andrew Sitek’s new solo project Maximum Balloon (awkward mouthful alert!). Instead they talked about dude’s breath. Sigh. You should read about it anyway though, because I say things like this:

“Sitek’s solo material pushes that familiar TVOTR sound further, but ditches those strange blues almost entirely in favor of shocking pinks — radio-ready pop songs featuring a handful of guest vocalists.”

But the comments are waaaay more interesting. Dig in!

Continue reading

Q&A: Foreign Born leaves “no spot un-percussed”

You may have read about Foreign Born’s intimate record release show a few weeks back, or about singer Matt Popieluch’s role in the fantastic Glasser project, but in this new interview, Popieluch covers it all: past, present, future, collaborations with outfits like Cass McCombs’ and Fool’s Gold, and the genesis of FB’s fantastic ode to summers in Los Angeles, Person To Person. Read up.

“Winter Games,” from Person To Person.

Q&A: Phoenix’s Thomas Mars

The A.V. Club has just published my interview with Phoenix singer Thomas Mars. The truth is, I’ve been a fan of these Frenchies since high school, but they lost me after Alphabetical. They still have yet to outdo that precise collection of breezy, electronics-laced soft-pop, but their latest, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, is garnering the group the most praise it’s seen in years. Read about it here, and count the Gallic metaphors as they stream from Mr. Mars’ mouth.