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Win Tix To See Rufus Wainright @ The Foundry

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

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Rufus is for lovers: Boys who like boys, girls who like girls, boys who like girls and girls who like boys. Young, old, everyone in between. These are his people. Basically anyone who’s ever had a heart break apart in their hands and learned the hard way that you can jigsaw back together, with patience and the glue of time, but it will never be the same again. It’s like bypass surgery or Cupid’s arrow — it may not kill you, it might even make you stronger, but it still hurts when you lay the wrong way. By rights, given the enormity of his talent and charm, he should have become the Elton John Of Now by this point in his career. His swooning woman of a voice has come a long way, baby, and has never sounded better. And his vibrato remains a staggering work of heartbreaking genius. You could say the music biz failed him, or the business model that made Elton into ‘Sir Elton’ shit the bed by the time Rufus finally got up to bat. All true, of course, but more relevant is that Rufus simply doesn’t write music with that kind of vast scope of appeal. He’s a chic boutique in a department store world fast going out of business. This he already knows. As the saying goes, the point of the journey isn’t the destination, it’s the getting there. Or to paraphrase Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross: Always be arriving. Which is another way of saying that all of this — the industry misery, the Judy Garland drag racing, the commercial crapouts, the rococo arrangements, the fainting couch histrionics, the meth and the madness — happened for a reason: To establish the line of demarcation between what is true and what is permitted. Leonard Cohen knew that when he wrote “Hallelujah” — and Rufus acknowledged as much with his gorgeous encore version of said song. Which is why we think that out of all the reasons to love or hate Rufus Wainright, the best one is this: Like a bird on a wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, he has tried, in his own way, to be free. Amen. We have two tickets to give away for Rufus Wainright at the Foundry on Friday. Fifteenth reader to email us at PHAWKER66@GMAIL.COM with the correct answer to the following question wins: Who wrote “Rufus Is A Tit Man?” Put the words MEN READING FASHION MAGAZINES in the subject line. Please include your full name and a mobile phone number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!



RUFUS WAINRIGHT PERFORMS @ THE FOUNDRY OF THE FILLMORE ON FRI. 5/20

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THE BIRD IS THE WORD: Portlandia Feels The Bern; Clinton Wins Kentucky By Just 1,900 Votes

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

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NEW YORK TIMES: Senator Bernie Sanders prevailed over Hillary Clinton on Tuesday in the Oregon primary, according to The Associated Press, while Mrs. Clinton claimed victory in a tight race in Kentucky, the day’s other contest. Mrs. Clinton raced around Kentucky in the two days before the primary, hoping to fend off Mr. Sanders in a state that she won easily in 2008. In unofficial results late Tuesday night, Mrs. Clinton edged Mr. Sanders by about 1,900 votes, or less than half a percentage point, with all counties reporting. The Associated Press had not declared a winner by midnight. The close result meant that she and Mr. Sanders would effectively split the state’s delegates. MORE

CNN: Hillary Clinton got the win she badly needed — just barely. It took a last-minute campaign blitz and a significant financial investment for Clinton to win the Kentucky Democratic primary by half a percentage point over her stubborn primary foe Bernie Sanders — in a state she won by 35 percentage points over Barack Obama in their 2008 primary clash and where her family has deep political roots going back decades. Sanders, after racing Clinton right up to the finish line in the Bluegrass State, easily won the Oregon primary, and declared at a raucous rally in California that despite pressure from the Clinton campaign to abandon his quest for the nomination, he would stay in the race “until the last ballot is cast.” Clinton did not appear in public on Tuesday night, but her campaign tweeted thanks to the people of Kentucky and said “we’re always stronger united.” MORE

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THE LIFE OF BRIAN: Hello Surfing, Goodbye God

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

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EDITOR’S NOTE: It was 50 years ago yesterday that The Beach Boys released Pet Sounds. To mark this auspicious occasion we are posting this teaser of the greatest story ever written about Brian Wilson during that period. Enjoy.

CHEETAH MAGAZINE, 1967: It was just another day of greatness at Gold Star Recording Studios on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. In the morning four long-haired kids had knocked out two hours of sound for a record plugger who was trying to curry favor with a disk jockey friend of theirs in San Jose. Nobody knew it at the moment, but out of that two hours there were about three minutes that would hit the top of the charts in a few weeks, and the record plugger, the disk jockey and the kids would all be hailed as geniuses, but geniuses with a very small g.

Now, however, in the very same studio a Genius with a very large capital G was going to produce a hit. There was no doubt it would be a hit because this Genius was Brian Wilson. In four years of recording for Capitol Records, he and his group, the Beach Boys, had made surfing music a national craze, sold 16 million singles and earned gold records for 10 of their 12 albums.

Not only was Brian going to produce a hit, but also, one gathered, he was going to show everybody in the music business exactly where it was at; and where it was at, it seemed, was that Brian Wilson was not merely a Genius—which is to say a steady commercial success—but rather, like Bob Dylan and John Lennon, a GENIUS—which is to say a steady commercial success and hip besides.

Until now, though, there were not too many hip people who would have considered Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys hip, even though he had produced one very hip record, “Good Vibrations,” Brian Eating Recordwhich had sold more than a million copies, and a super-hit album, Pet Sounds, which didn’t do very well at all—by previous Beach Boys sales standards. Among the hip people he was still on trial, and the question discussed earnestly among the recognized authorities on what is and what is not hip was whether or not Brian Wilson was hip, semi-hip or square.

But walking into the control room with the answers to all questions such as this was Brian Wilson himself, wearing a competition-stripe surfer’s T-shirt, tight white duck pants, pale green bowling shoes and a red plastic fireman’s helmet. Everybody was wearing identical red plastic toy fireman’s helmets. Brian’s cousin and production assistant, Steve Korthoff was wearing one; his wife, Marilyn, and her sister, Diane Rovelle—Brian’s secretary—were also wearing them, and so was a once-dignified writer from The Saturday Evening Post who had been following Brian around for two months.

Out in the studio, the musicians for the session were unpacking their instruments. In sport shirts and slacks, they looked like insurance salesmen and used-car dealers, except for one blond female percussionist who might have been stamped out by a special machine that supplied plastic mannequin housewives for detergent commercials.

Controlled, a little bored after 20 years or so of nicely paid anonymity, these were the professionals of the popular music business, hired guns who did their jobs expertly and efficiently and then went home to the suburbs. If you wanted swing, they gave you swing. A little movie-track lushness? Fine, here comes movie-track lushness. Now it’s rock and roll? Perfect rock and roll, down the chute.

“Steve,” Brian called out, “where are the rest of those fire hats? I want everybody to wear fire hats. Brian Eating RecordWe’ve really got to get into this thing.” Out to the Rolls-Royce went Steve and within a few minutes all of the musicians were wearing fire hats, silly grins beginning to crack their professional dignity.

“All right, let’s go,” said Brian. Then, using a variety of techniques ranging from vocal demonstration to actually playing the instruments, he taught each musician his part. A gigantic fire howled out of the massive studio speakers in a pounding crash of pictorial music that summoned up visions of roaring, windstorm flames, falling timbers, mournful sirens and sweating firemen, building into a peak and crackling off into fading embers as a single drum turned into a collapsing wall and the fire-engine cellos dissolved and disappeared.

“When did he write this?” asked an astonished pop music producer who had wandered into the studio. “This is really fantastic! Man, this is unbelievable! How long has he been working on it?”

“About an hour,” answered one of Brian’s friends.

“I don’t believe it. I just can’t believe what I’m hearing,” said the producer and fell into a stone glazed silence as the fire music began again.

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Q&A w/ Andy Moholt Of Laser Background

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Laser Background CORRECT cover

 

Mary Lynn DominguezBY MARY LYNN DOMINGUEZ Andy Moholt does a good job of bringing all of the good weirdness Philly has to offer to light. Once a Philly suburbanite intended to become a violin-playing child prodigy, Moholt is now the brains behind Laser Background, which was only made possible by strapping those snobby child prodigy brains to a rocket and sending them into oblivion. These days, Moholt spends his time honing in on his unique brand of psychedelic pop music, crediting early Pink Floyd for sonic inspiration and probably for making attending laser light shows something that’s socially acceptable. At some point in his music-making career, Moholt accepted Philly as the only home base that makes sense, made it a mission to collaborate with other local artists and became well versed in Animorphs. Laser Background’s newest album, Correct (La Société Expéditionnaire), shares a lot of common ground with Pink Floydian weirdness, but with a dancey groove that’s more likely to provoke good vibrations than existential crises. Laser Background are currently touring the United States of America.

PHAWKER: Where are you from?

ANDY MOHOLT: I was born in Philadelphia, and I grew up about 40 minutes away from Philly.

PHAWKER: In the suburbs?

ANDY MOHOLT: Yeah, I’m from a small town called Hatfield.laser background

PHAWKER: Why do you live here now?

ANDY MOHOLT: I moved to Philly about nine years ago to start a band. I started my old band there. I stayed ever since because I love the city. I love Philadelphia, it’s great. I’ve been tempted to move to other places, like New York. I know a lot of people who live there, but it kind of doesn’t make any sense to move there. I like visiting there a lot but the cost of living in Philly is low, and there’s a lot of great artists. There’s a great scene in general. I really have no reason to leave. I have a lot of friends that I’ve made over the years here, and I love it.

PHAWKER: Is there anyone in the Philly music scene who’s blowing your mind right now?

ANDY MOHOLT: Yeah, I would say so. I have a couple of people that I think are really great. I really like that band Sheer Mag a lot. I really like the band Palm. They live in Philly. You could also mention Circadian Rhythms. They’ve been around for a really long time, and I really like them a lot to.

PHAWKER: Cool. You have a pretty specific weirdo/psych rock sound that’s consistent throughout your music. What were your technical skills like before you started making music and what made you want to start making music?

ANDY MOHOLT: Well, I’ve been playing music since I was a kid. I started playing violin when I was like seven or something. I wouldn’t say I was classically trained, but I studied classical music in school growing up, and music was always a hobby for me. I was writing songs back then as total hobby. That’s what music was for me for a long time, it was a hobby. When I was about 19, I decided to start doing it more seriously. As far as my technical skills go, a lot of the stuff I do is self-taught. So I think a lot of my style has developed that way from just teaching myself to do things my own way.

PHAWKER: What inspired you to get to the sound you have now? I definitely don’t hear any violin training, and the style of music you play sounds very purposeful.

ANDY MOHOLT: It definitely is. I definitely have been trying to hone in on a specific sound for a while. Violin doesn’t really factor in there, you’re right. I don’t know. I think it has to do with a lot of the music I was influenced by, like Syd Barrett, he was the original Pink Floyd songwriter. The early stuff is very sing-songy, with kind of like playful quality to it. There’s a bunch of stuff that I got into when I was in my early twenties, I got into the Velvet Underground records, and the early Kinks stuff. I feel like that’s what most people do. I think they kind of regurgitate laser background
their influences in a way that’s specific to them. That’s sort of what I find myself doing. I do like to try to push the envelope. I like to excite myself as an artist. That hopefully can excite other people, that’s the idea behind what I’m trying to do with my stuff.

PHAWKER: Right. So, I saw the video for “Jawbreaker,” and it was pretty terrifying. I thought that it really clashed with the dreamy-synthy-bass-driven music of the song and with the rest of the album, which I wasn’t expecting. Is that contrast meant supposed to be an overarching theme for the rest of the album, or was it just specific to that song?

ANDY MOHOLT: I would say it’s probably just specific to that song, because the other videos that I have being made aren’t quite so jarringly intense. What I’ve been doing for the videos specifically, and I’m pretty happy about this vision, is I’ve been basically picking visual artists that I really like, and sort of just letting them run free with it. For that song, my friend Ross Brubeck is a pretty awesome Philadelphia artist. I approached him about doing a video, and he was just really into that song. I said, “You know what, man? I respect you. I like what you do. So just do whatever you want.” I didn’t see any of that video until it was done already, and I definitely like how weird it is. I think it’s equal parts terrifying and absurd. I like that. I like shaking people up a little bit, so I’m happy about the way it came out. I think that the other videos being made are not so intense, you know? Or at least they’re intense in a different way.

PHAWKER: Your music is well known for being… I’m just going to throw out a bunch of adjectives that have been used to describe it: ‘weird,’ ‘trippy,’ ‘lo-fi’ ‘sci-fi’ and ‘cosmic,’ whatever all of that means. Is it easier for you to write music about personal experiences and anecdotes or to make songs about other universes entirely?

ANDY MOHOLT: Good question. I think I kind of split the difference and do a little bit of both, or try to incorporate both into each other. You know what I mean? A lot of my stuff is about my personal life, or stuff that has happened to me. But a challenge that I’ve been running with lately is trying to write songs that have no pronouns in them. A lot of times in pop songs, there’s a perspective that’s like, “he” or “she” or “you” or “me” or “I.” That kind of stuff. That’s great, because it puts the audience into a perspective like, “Oh, this person is singing to me.” Or it makes them think of the perspective of the singer like, “Oh, this song is about me.” Right? But I’ve been writing these imagistic songs, and there’s a couple on the record that have no pronouns in them. It’s just these imagistic poetry things, and I think that’s an interesting contrast. I’m not sure which one’s easier for me to do, but I like trying to approach it from a few different angles like that.
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CINEMA: Make Captain America Great Again

Friday, May 13th, 2016

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JAMES DAVISBY JAMES M. DAVIS “Enhanced Individuals,” we hear in a newscast at the beginning of Captain America: Civil War, need to be brought into check. At first glance this phrase does what is intended, it deprives superheroes of being both “super” and “heroes.” This is a world where masked super-people have (accidentally) killed innocent people in operations unapproved by any governmental body. Through this phrase we are brought into a world where the Avengers are being asked to sign an accord with the UN which would essentially turn them into a peacekeeping force at the beck and call of the powers that be.

However, what this phrase also brings up is essentially a corporate-speak interpretation of the inherent fantasy of the superhero. It is the quintessentially American Lone Ranger dream of the rugged individual, unbound by society or convention, the man who becomes the perfect image of spectacular freedom. In films this freedom can come from a any number of devices, a horse and a gun, incredible riches, a motorcycle, the ability to shoot laser-beams out of your eyes, what have you. At any rate this freedom almost always comes saddled with a morality outside of the mainstream, a set of values (or lack thereof) which gives the individual a much greater range of action. Because sometimes superheroes have to destroy the village to save it.

What Captain America represents in this film is exactly that notion of freedom, which can not be tied down by any governing principle, no matter how right minded or egalitarian. What’s more, this idea is being sold by the living avatar of American-ness, Captain America. To quote David Foster Wallace, one of the best writers on this phenomena in America:

There is a particular ethos in US culture especially in entertainment and marketing culture which appeals to people as individuals- that you don’t have to be devoted or subservient to anything else. There is no larger good than your own good and your own happiness […] I think this is a very American idea that YOU are the most important, what you want is the most important and that your job in life is to gratify your own desires. That’s a little crude to say it that way but in fact it’s something of the the ideology here, and it’s certainly the ideology that’s perpetrated by television and advertising and entertainment. The economy thrives off it. ( ZDF. Germany, Nov. 2003. Television.)

It is telling that in Captain America: Civil War, Tony Stark, the voice of reason insisting that the Avengers sign the accord and surrender their free will to behave super-heroically as they see fit, is first shown early in the movie wearing a Mister Softee t-shirt. His girlfriend has left him and he’s just kind of sad and neutered. This leaves Captain America as his opposite number. Captain America kisses a girl. Captain America doesn’t think much of Tony’s fancy set of treaty signing fountain pens. Captain America goes to his Aunt Peggy’s funeral, and in a moment Ted Cruz would be proud of, remains in the church long after everyone else has gone home, finding the inner strength to remain unbound by international law. And so the movie plays out generally along these lines, Tony Stark putting together a superhero posse, Cap putting together an opposing posse, and the two basically just fighting each other for the better part of two hours.

The problem here should be obvious: Captain America is basically GW back in ’02 saying “Security Council Shmecurity Council” and disastrously putting cowboy boots on the ground in Iraq, or conducting deadly drone strikes of dubious legality in a sovereign nation like Pakistan. It’s a pro-world police argument and essentially the opposite of what Cap was saying in his last flick, which saw him basically do a Snowden on SHIELD, taking out what was the closest thing to an actual world police in his universe.

With Trumpism becoming such a genuinely large and scary voice in America, this is the wrong time for Captain America to suddenly be changing tack in terms of his ideology. Trump certainly would root for Steve Rogers wholeheartedly throughout the film. We don’t need no stinkin European treaties – just All-American Kick-Ass! What’s more disturbing, and drives this point home even further is the ending ::SPOILER ALERT:: which sees Rogers leaves behind his shield, the totemic symbol of his American-ness as the true source of his powers. He is rejecting Stark’s futurist, global America, an America where we are but one player on a vast and interconnected stage, in favor of retreating with his childhood friend into the shadows of non-statehood. That is, the film shows two visions of America, and in the final analysis finds them irreconcilable. “Make America Great Again” has always been about returning to some golden era that never was, and it is this long lost and unrecoverable epoch that Captain America is retreating to and soon enough he will find — as will millions of unapologeticfally racist Trump voters — that there is no long any there there. In fact, there never was.

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LUNACY: Crypt Ring

Friday, May 13th, 2016

The hit single from Resurgence Of Compulsion (Time Castle Recordings), the forthcoming cassette-only LP by Lunacy, solo project of Farout Fang-Tooth’s Nick Kulp. Roy Montgomery (Flying Saucer Attack, The Pin Group), who knows a thing or two about these kind of things, says:

“If the post-industrial musicians of the 1980s had stuck to their knitting machines it would have gone like this. Instead, others have had to tunnel their way back through grunge, Britpop and slick indie shoegaze to reconnect the circuits. This is the sound of someone pulling space back to earth. This is a sonic walk-through of landscapes that no longer exist. This is the drip of electronic water on memories of something deep in rooms without a view. Echoes of human activity resonating in the factory chapel, the walls and sentiments covered with moss.” – ROY MONTGOMERY, Fling Saucer Attack

Yeah, what he said. More deets HERE.

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CINEMA: Being Hal Ashby

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

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LOOKIN’ TO GET OUT (1982, directed by Hal Ashby, 120 minutes U.S.)
SECOND HAND HEART (aka THE HAMSTER OF LOVE) (1981, directed by Hal Ashby, 102 minutes, U.S.)

BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC In Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind’s popular tome about American film in the 1970s, Hal Ashby is held up as the quintessential director of his era. Ashby specialized in humanistic tales of outcasts looking for love and struggling to find their place in the world and the seven films he made between 1970 and 1979 make for an unusually rich and diverse body of work, everything from dark-humored fables like Harold & Maude and Being There to direct, politically-minded social dramas like Coming Home and his debut The Landlord.

Ashby would go on to direct four more features before his death at the age of 59 in 1988. They each were badly-reviewed andHal Ashby the gossip mill at the time blamed it (perhaps unfairly according to his biographer, Nick Dawson, author of the sturdy bio Being Hal Ashby) on Ashby’s increasing drug use. I’d make a case that 1982’s Lookin’ to Get Out and to a lesser extent 1981’s Second Hand Hearts are most worthy of reevaluation, both bearing the unmistakable earmarks of the iconoclastic cinematic master.

After winning an Oscar with Ashby for Coming Home, actor Jon Voight was anxious to work with the director again. Voight brought Ashby a script written by himself and an old family friend, rock manager Al Schwartz, who based the story of con men carousing in a casino on times Schwartz spent with actor Joe Turkel. Voight chose as his co-star the swarthy, simian Burt Young, best-known as the lovable slob “Paulie” from the Rocky series. The production was given full-access to Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Hotel (documenting its early 80’s dazzle just days before a tragic fire destroyed its lobby and killed 85 people) as a sprawling modern landscape for Voight and Young’s continuously collapsing con. Ashby fell in love with the music of The Police at the time (well, it was the 80’s) and wanted to use music from the band’s first three albums to propel the film’s momentum but ending up using composer Johnny Mandel to craft a recognizably Police-like approximation.

Voight’s 40-ish, manic, compulsive character feels like a gambler for whom time has run out and with the creeping corporatism of the 1980’s, this definitive 70’s director’s time had run out as well. Entangled in post-production conflict with the producers at Lorimar Pictures, Ashby left the editing process to the studio, who made extensive cuts to the film, unloading 15 minutes by taking out bits and pieces of nearly every scene, dramatically altering the rhythms of the film. Lookin’ to Get Out eventually opened to mixed reviews and meager box office and after an early VHS release and a brief cable run, basically disappeared from interest.

In 2007, Ashby biographer Nick Dawson made a major discovery when noticing that there were two film prints of Lookin’ to Get Out in the UCLA archive and one was a reel longer than the other. The print turned out to be Ashby’s completed edit (Ashby began his career as an Oscar-winning editor) and the difference was astounding. Recently comparing this new edit to a VHS tape buried deep in my personal collection was a real eye-opener about the art of editing. Although nearly every scene remains in the shorter release cut, they basically truncated each scenes’ build up, which particularly makes Voight’s lookin-to-get-out-movie-poster-1982-1020253285compulsive character more manic and less recognizably human. The narrative’s main beats are all present but instead of unfolding in front of you, they are thrust in the viewers’ faces. Also, few characters are given speaking roles in an Ashby film without revealing something about themselves, either with a snippet of dialogue or a subtle bit of action but the theatrical version saw this as fine fat for the trimming. Where the release version had fleeting, Ashby-esque moments, this newly restored version feels like an Ashby film through and through. This edit doesn’t just properly frame Voight’s performance, it’s a deep pleasure to see Burt Young stretch out in a rare co-starring role, showing a depth, range and watchability of which his character roles always hinted. Ann-Margret gives her best performance of the era, her often-silent concern carries an extra weariness at this age as she quietly defines the moral center of the film.
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NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

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FRESH AIR: According to a report by the Vera Institute for Justice, there are more than 3,000 local jails in America, holding more than 730,000 people on any given day. Nancy Fishman, a project director at the Vera Institute, tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that jails “have impacted a huge number of Americans … many more than are impacted by state prisons.” The Vera Institute’s report documents that there are almost 12 million admissions to local jails each year, representing about 9 million people. Most of those jailed, she says, are being held for low-level offenses, such as drug misdemeanors, traffic offenses or nonviolent property crimes. And, she adds, the majority are poor. Fishman notes that most of the people in jail are pretrial, which means that they have not yet been convicted of anything. “They are legally innocent,” she says. “One of the great travesties, frankly, of jail admissions right now is that we have people sitting in jail for long periods simply because they can’t afford to pay [bail].” Fishman adds that being in jail often leads to increased poverty, because many jails charge fees to their inmates. “That pass-through [in] jails is damaging and has huge repercussions,” she says. “You’re talking about people who often come in in fragile economic situations and end up that much worse by the time they get out.” MORE

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MONKEE BIZNESS: A Q&A With Micky Dolenz

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

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JOsh Pelta-HellaBY JOSH PELTA-HELLER
The year 1967 was ground zero for the psychedelic music movement. That year, the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour, and the Rolling Stones released three albums — unthinkable in today’s music marketplace —  Flowers, Between The Buttons, and Their Satanic Majesties Request. It was a hell of a year for music, a year that heralded the psychotropic metamorphosis of the pop paradigm. It was also the year that The Monkees sold more records than the Beatles and the Stones combined — an astonishing feat by anyone’s measure. Engineered in a veritable Hollywood laboratory, the Monkees are widely regarded as the first boy band, assembled by television company execs and talent scouts with an ear for a hit and a mind to maximize commercial appeal and profit.

Still, most supergroups fall far short of expectations, both artistically and commercially, and few last longer than an album or two. Having released 12 albums over the course of 50 years, The Monkees are a music biz anomaly whose humor, charm and indelible tuneage had a pervasive and lasting influence on the generations of musicians that followed. John Lennon famously called them “the funniest comedy team since the Marx Brothers.” They inspired Kurt Cobain, were covered by The Sex Pistols and Minor Threat, and sampled by everyone from Deee-Lite to Del The Funky Homosapien, whose famous 1991 debut single “Mistadobalina” loops the hook of the Monkees’ “Zilch,” a deep cut from the groundbreaking album Headquarters that marked their break from the assembly line pop of their Brill Building roots and all-in embrace of the autonomy of their own craft.

In the following interview, Monkees percussionist Micky Dolenz touches briefly on that emerging schism between the band they were created to be, and the band that they wanted to be and ultimately became. For his own part, Dolenz’ ear for melody, harmony and rhythm, and his affinity for pushing the limits of his quirky vocals and songwriting would serve their newer directions in their later years, when bubblegum hits like “Daydream Believer” and “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)” gave way to surreal mindbenders like Dolenz’ “Randy Scouse Git” and “Shorty Blackwell.” And aside from his own compositions, his contributions to the music written by bandmates blazed trails as well — the trippy track “Daily Nightly” from their fourth record, 1967’s Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., written by guitarist Mike Nesmith, features what’s widely considered to be the first use of Moog Synthesizer on any rock and roll record, purchased and played by Micky. Still, Dolenz holds a clear reverence and gratitude for the early days, singing the hits written for them by Boyce & Hart, Carole King, Harry Nilsson and Neil Diamond. And as the surviving three band members work toward the release of a new record this year — their first since Monkeesthe passing of singer Davy Jones in 2012 — it’s easy to hear in the first single “She Makes Me Laugh,” written by Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo and sung by Micky, the eminent echoes of the earlier Monkees material that, in Micky’s words, “just worked.” The Monkees play The Keswick Theater on May 28th.

PHAWKER: Hey Micky, calling from Philly here…

MICKY DOLENZ: Philly! Love it. My wife’s from Philly. We’re there all the time, out in Huntingdon Valley.. Love Philly. Philly cheesesteaks!

PHAWKER: Where do you guys go for cheesesteaks?

MICKY DOLENZ: I love Philly cheesesteaks. I remember when the Monkees toured, the very first time in the 60’s — ‘67 or 8 — we went to Philadelphia, and somebody must’ve said ‘you guys gotta go and try a Philly cheesesteak!,’ and I’d never heard of it before. And they took us to — I can’t remember if it was Pat’s or if it was, the other one…

PHAWKER: …Geno’s.

MICKY DOLENZ: …yeah [laughs], we must’ve looked like, oh my god, ‘cause I think it was like just after a concert, or a party, or something. So we’re all dressed up in the the hippy rock ‘n roll, you know paisley bell-bottoms and tye-dyed shirts and long hair. And of course in ‘67 you didn’t see much of that on the streets in Philly. And we pulled up to Pat’s in a limo [laughs], and got out, wandering around like a midnight or something. I’ll never forget it, those neon lights. I remember all that neon.

PHAWKER: It’s still just like that…

MICKY DOLENZ: Yeah, oh I go every time I get a chance.

PHAWKER: I gotta tell you before we start, I’ve been a fan since I was a kid, and my first mix tape was actually made by holding up a tape recorder in mid-air, and hitting “record” whenever I could catch a song during a rerun of one of your shows on Nickelodeon. I made a full tape of those songs, and that’s what I listened to when I was a kid, Monkeesnon-stop. You guys informed my musical taste at large and you saved me in the ‘80s from all the terrible pop my friends were listening to, so thanks.

MICKY DOLENZ: [laughs] very cool, well thank you very much!

PHAWKER: Speaking of that, my first question for you is about how we’ve come to define “pop.” Back in the ‘60s when you guys were big and making music, and the Beatles were big, and other bands — looking back now on that there’s a big overlap between what’s lasted, what we call “classic rock,” and what used to be called “pop.” The “pop” from that time became something that was really important to the generation, rather than something that was sort of more superficial and fleeting. At the risk of beginning to sound like an ornery old man, I feel like in some senses, that definition has changed, and that the pop music of today perhaps won’t have the lasting power and be as important in forty of fifty years as your music still is today, fifty years on. Could you speak a little bit to that, from your perspective?
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FEEL THE BERN: West Virginia Is For Lovers

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

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THE ATLANTIC: How did Sanders win on Tuesday, though? West Virginia was once a solid Democratic state, a hotbed of labor unionism that went for Democratic presidential candidates from 1932 on in all but the Republican landslide years of 1956, 1972, and 1984. The state was represented in the Senate by two grand old men of the party, Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller. But more recently, the state has trended Republican, for a variety of reasons: Party realignment around conservative issues has led socially conservative West Virginians toward the GOP; racial animus toward President Obama has hurt the local Democratic Party; and the combination of weaker unions and liberal environmental advocacy against coal has lost the Dems some blue-collar backing. […] Sanders is not much like Robert Byrd—a former Klansman who became a moderate liberal—nor is he that much like Rockefeller, who was, well, a Rockefeller. But Sanders’s New Deal-flavored leftist populism still resonates with West Virginians. Like many states where Sanders has done well, the Democratic electorate is also overwhelmingly white. Demographics help explain why Sanders is expected to do well in the next two contests. Kentucky is another semi-Southern, rural, very white state where coal mining is important. Oregon, too, is heavily white and rural—while its biggest urban center, Portland, may favor Sanders for different reasons. “Last week we won a really big victory in Indiana, and tonight it appears we’ve won a big, big victory in West Virginia—and with your help, we’re going to win in Oregon next week,” Sanders told an enthusiastic crowd in Salem, Oregon. MORE

 

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Win Tix To See Cage The Elephant @ The Mann

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

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Arguably, the best thing to come out of Kentucky since bourbon, Slint and fried chicken, Cage The Elephant are a gang of punky/trippy blooze-rockers currently wreaking their own brand of testosterone-addled, rock-havoc on the world. Currently, they are as popular as they are obvious — early on you could hear undigested chunks of Pixies, Janes, Pumpkins and White Stripes in the mix — but since when was that a bad thing in rock and/or roll? Besides, they’ve since added ’60s Brit-pop (Kinks, Hollies, Zombies) and ’70s Krautrock (Can, Neu, Amon Duul) to their plunder. Think a Kentucky-fried Dr. Dog. Plus, you can just look at them and see they are doing this for all the best reasons, chief among them, they are patently unqualified for any other kind of employment, with the possible exception of Freshman dorm weed dealer or professional hackysack player. The best rock n’ roll always comes from people with no back up plan.

We have a pair of tix to see them at the Skyline Stage of the Mann Center on Thursday May 12th — along with Portugal The Man and Broncho – to give away to some lucky duck. To qualify, all you have to do is sign up for our mailing list (see right, below the masthead). Trust us, this is something you want to do. In addition to breaking news alerts and Phawker updates, you also get advanced warning about groovy concert ticket giveaways and other free swag opportunities like this one! After signing up, send us an email at PHAWKER66@GMAIL.COM telling us a much, with the words PACHYDERM in the subject line. If you are already on our mailing list, just send us an email saying as much. Either way, please include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. The 13th Phawker reader to email wins! Good luck and godspeed!

CAGE THE ELEPHANT PLAYS THE MANN CENTER ON THURSDAY MAY 12TH

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BEING THERE: Del The Funky Homosapien @ UT

Monday, May 9th, 2016

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Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

Following an earnest and energetic opening set from Minneapolis rapper Sean Anonymous, Harvard math grad, NYU adjunct professor and turntable acrobat DJ Shiftee helped prime a Sunday crowd convened at Union Transfer to see Del The Funky Homosapien. Having first cut his chops writing lyrics for cousin Ice Cube’s Da Lench Mob crew in California’s hip hop scene in the early 90’s, Del’s first solo record I Wish My Brother George Was Here was produced by Cube in 1991, and buoyed by the success of hit single “Mistadobalina,” a popular critique of cultural inauthenticity that sampled an obscure Monkees’ track called “Zilch.” Shortly after, and not to be overshadowed by his more famous kinfolk, Del uncoupled himself from the constraints of conventional writing and production, and set out to forge his own self-styled brand of underground rap.

His sophomore effort would introduce his hip hop collective Hieroglyphics, whose critically-acclaimed album No Need For Alarm that would be the dawn of the “Hiero Golden Age.” Now a preeminent icon of the weird, Del is best-known for a rich diversity of fictional concept characters, from drawing on a tradition of Afrofuturism in Deltron 3030’s collaboration with Kid Koala and Dan The Automator, to his brilliant turn as Del The Ghost Rapper, a paranormal element conceived as part of the story of Damon Albarn’s animated supergroup Gorillaz.

Del came through last night with an encore finale of Gorillaz’ hit single “Clint Eastwood,” the first from their eponymous 2001 debut. It marked the end of a short set of highlights featuring chapters throughout the rapper’s 25-year catalogue, backed onstage by longtime producer and Hieroglyphics compatriot Domino, from Deltron’s “Virus” and “Positive Contact,” to 1993’s “Boo Boo Heads,” to stinky-people single, “If You Must,” from his fourth solo album, 2000’s Both Sides Of The Brain. Another cut from Both Sides, “Phoney Phranchise” followed a short assault on the disingenuous, a prologue to a performance of the beloved “Mistadobalina.” Del is kinetic as he performs, loose and nimble as he raps right through middle age, limbs flailing in adroit gesticulation as he acts out his lyrics. And underneath a Bowie-like tapestry of storytelling and fictional protagonists, the characteristic cadences and humor shine through, a hallmark of a 90’s hip hop heyday. – JOSH PELTA-HELLER

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THIS JUST IN: Earth Loves New Radiohead Album

Monday, May 9th, 2016

A Moon Shaped Pool Cover

 

PITCHFORK: So what is new on A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead’s first studio album since 2011’s The King of Limbs? Very little, which to me is what immediately makes it so great. For their ninth studio album, the concept of “newness” doesn’t resonate in the first several listens of this album in the same way that, say, Kid A immediately felt iconoclastic or Hail To The Thief stood in defiance of a political zeitgeist. Instead, Radiohead take a moment of reprise and gather little pieces from their entire career both in and out of the band. There are backwards vocals, a song originally written in 1994, a heavy focus on Jonny Greenwood’s orchestration, plenty of staticky digital percussion, some tape hiss, and the closest to a horns-up guitar solo Radiohead has ever come (on “Identikit”). A Moon Shaped Pool takes stock while the past, present, and future swells around Thom Yorke, whose view seems affixed to a lonely point that, this far into Radiohead, feels so familiar it’s almost comforting. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: The results often hark back to the late 1960s; in a way, A Moon Shaped Pool is Radiohead’s psych-folk album. “The Numbers,” which Radiohead fans have previously known as “Silent Spring,” counsels, “We are of the earth/to her we do return,” and comes as close as Radiohead gets to a call to arms: “We’ll take back what is ours,” it insists. The production hints at Buffalo Springfield’s “Expecting to Fly,” with stately swells of guitar and gusts of Radiohead 2016strings. “Desert Island Disk” recalls the jazz-tinged folk experiments of Pentangle and the electronic phantasms of early Tim Buckley as Mr. Yorke envisions “the wind rushing ’round my open heart, an open ravine.” Yet it’s the rare song on the album that offers a glimpse of hope — a feeling of being “totally alive, totally released.” “Glass Eyes” starts as the bleakest of ballads, with minor piano chords drifting into the fog as the singer arrives in a frightening unknown town and finds, perhaps, an escape. “A path trails off and heads down the mountain,” he sings. “I don’t know where it leads/I don’t really care.” MORE

ROLLING STONE: A pall hangs over the album like a highland fog, which mirrors the theme of heartbreak that runs through Pool. “Daydreaming,” which the band – in conjunction with video director P.T. Anderson – released to a handful of movie theaters in 35mm format, captures the album’s mood best. Haunting, pensive, unable to shake loose from its revery and doldrums – from the “broken hearts make it rain” refrain of “Identikit” (the most uptempo song on the album) to the “panic is coming on strong/so cold, from the inside out” that Yorke confesses to on the murky ballad “Glass Eyes” – the album conveys great sorrow and heartbreak. The latter comes at the midway point of the album, wherein Yorke’s minor-key piano moves with Jonny Greenwood’s scored strings to heart-rending effect. While Greenwood has flashed Penderecki and Ligeti moves in deploying orchestration to heighten anxious states (from “How to Disappear Completely” to his soundtrack work on There Will Be Blood), here the strings swaddle Yorke’s forlorn vocals with a mix of sadness and beauty. The downward spirals at the end of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief” is one of the band’s most melancholic moments on record. MORE

NME: ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ is, essentially, a collection of songs that have previously existed in some form or other, but not had full, official studio releases. Thus, there’s only three entirely new tracks on the whole release – ‘Decks Dark’, ‘Glass Eyes’, ‘Tinker Tailer Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Thief’ (the latter is taken from a 1695 nursery rhyme, of course). Are Radiohead running out of ideas or just trying to please their fans? Either way, all three traverse the spectrum of fragility and resilience, and prove that no matter how few truly fresh songs present, the band still have plenty to offer us.The fact that they’ve deigned to include the likes of ‘True Love Waits’, ‘Identikit’ and ‘Present Tense’ has got some fans wondering if this is actually going to be the band’s last record. With the album being so geared towards their audience’s favourites, they’re seeing it as a sign that this could be the end. But with Radiohead, who knows? MORE

RADIOHEAD: Rejected Theme Song For SPECTRE

Star Wars – Episode V "The Empire Strikes Back" Homage (Title Sequence) from KROFL on Vimeo.

MASHABLE: Search your feelings, you know you’ve always wanted a different, even cooler Star Wars opening credit scene — and now we have one. New York-based School Of Visual Arts motion design student Kurt Rauffer took what is arguably the best of the Star Wars franchise, The Empire Strikes Back, and gave it a title sequence that is immediately evocative of the slick, design heavy James Bond opening title sequences we know and love. Does it work? Absolutely. In fact, you’ll probably need to watch it a few times to catch all the references the video makes to plot points in the film. But the coolest part is the beginning, when Rauffer takes us to the ice planet of Hoth and then plunges us inside Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. All this and Rauffer has the brilliant idea of using the Radiohead track rejected from the latest Bond film Spectre. The result is stirring and delivers a completely fresh take on entering the Star Wars universe. MORE

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Cost of the War in Iraq
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