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ALBUM REVIEW: Girlpool What Chaos Is Imaginary

Monday, February 4th, 2019

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What Chaos Is Imaginary is Girlpool’s third LP, and finds duo Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad shedding past selves like an old skin. The work revolves around gradual personal growth, the pain of becoming someone else and trying to abandon the echo of who you once were. This is the first album the band has released since Tucker’s transition, and the drop of their voice into a lower tenor has changed the core of the songs. Before, their voices blended in gentle harmonies, but now there is sharp division. On previous works, everything was shared, a constant collaboration. Now there are separately composed Tividad songs and Tucker songs, the two trading off on lead vocals, passing the mic back and forth. Each demonstrates their own distinct writing style, taking ownership over their experiences as individuals– friends toughing the world alone, and then coming home to talk about it.

The sound of What Chaos is Imaginary is softer than what we’re used to hearing from Girlpool, whose sound has been constantly evolving ever since 2017’s Powerplant. Edges have softened, attitudes checked, fists unclenched. The new tracks lean towards acoustic, incorporating more dream pop elements, a departure from their traditionally harsh, grunge rock sound. In an interview with Document Journal, Tucker explained, “It is a transitional-sounding album, because I am so over rock music. I love it and it has formed everything in me, I grew up on it. I’m just not interested in making it anymore right now… There are things on this album, like the synth and like the strings, that are just almost ethereal, that step outside of this vanilla shit.”

On the title track, Tividad’s delicate soprano weaves silken melodies over delicate strings and synths. The lyrics feel dark and disembodied: “Got your meds and your sky/You plant the moon in someone’s eyes/I loved him and his violence for the pretty view/Rehearsed a strange reality/What chaos is imaginary.” On “All Blacked Out,” Tucker’s voice decreases to a shiver-inducing whisper, painting lived-in images. Lines like, “Afternoon slowing down, grass sticking to the inside of your legs” and “Sitting on bricks in Philadelphia” resonates in their warm familiarity. Themes of place surface, capturing the atmospheres cities the duo lived while writing– New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. There isn’t one single, defining element to this album. Each song crafts its own version of reality, margins fringed with what could be memory or daydream. It arose from the whirling chaos of change, a transformation both imagined and true. — MARIAH HALL

 

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BEING THERE: The 2019 Philadelphia Auto Show

Sunday, February 3rd, 2019

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At the 2019 Philadelphia Auto Show, there were many different types of cars that can get you from point A to point B. These cars boasted a range of gee-whiz capabilities, and there were a lot of new cars that employ two different sources of fuel: gasoline and electricity. This year, there were more brands that offered EV’s (Electric powered Vehicles). Chevrolet and Nissan pioneered the first mass produced electric cars, but this year there were electric cars in the Mercedes, BMW, and Audi lines, and Ford had a wider range of EV versions of their most popular models like the Fusion and the Focus. In the Philadelphia market, there is a great demand for crossover vehicles. Thus, the show featured many cars that served multiple purposes such as the Toyota Highlander, which is both an SUV and a station wagon. These crossover vehicles are wildly popular among millennialis️️‍. Even some of the high end luxury manufacturers have included crossovers in their line up, including Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Bentley, and even Rolls Royce with their Cullinan SUV. Another interesting part of the car show was the area where they kept the Mercedes Benz and Lexuses. These vehicles were in the area where the train shed used to be in Reading terminal station. I did not have any particular interest in the Lexus section, but the Mercedes Benz S500 was very comfortable and I was able to fit in the backseat with extra space despite my height of six foot four. Overall, I thought he Auto Show, which runs through February 10th at the Pennsylvania Convention Center was a terrific experience for all ages and suitable for everyone. The crowd was very diverse. Finally, make sure to bring a water bottle next year as walking around can make one incredibly weary.–FRANCIS J. PURCELL IV
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RETROSPECTIVE: Earl Sweatshirt, The Understated Young Poet Laureate Of The Mumble Generation

Friday, February 1st, 2019

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Illustration by @KingJediah via Instagram

BY SEAN HECK In 2011, Los Angeles-based hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All were at the zenith of their fame. By then, the group of boisterous young rappers, producers, crooners, skaters, fashion designers and hype men had collectively released 12 mixtapes, with a few members showcasing a large array of distinct influences, personalities, and sounds. The group’s ringleader, Tyler the Creator, seemed to get his kicks from simultaneously worrying and intriguing white Americans with repulsive, predatory lyrics about rape, murder and mutilation juxtaposed with murky, jazzy, and at times quirkily beautiful piano and synth driven self-produced instrumentals. Singer Frank Ocean, who would later go on to become the group’s most commercially successful artist, had established himself as a promising creator of sticky, earworm pop and emo-soul EarlcoverR&B ballads (e.g. “Swim Good” and “Novacane”). Of particular interest, however, was one Earl Sweatshirt, born Thebe Neruda Kgositsile. The mysterious young rhymesayer had a debut mixtape under his belt that established him as a witty, whipsmart young lyricist with a densely-layered and double-entendre-ridden verbal prowess. He was the ignition key to Odd Future’s blast into internet superstardom. He was the new Jay-Z! He was the new Nas! He was the new Slim Shady reincarnate!

And he was…missing.

That’s right. The most sought-after and linguistically-gifted spitter of the collective was cut off from the outside world and didn’t even know about Odd Future’s newfound fame during the group’s peak. Why? Well, his mother had sent him to an all boys’ reform school in Samoa, presumably because she heard Earl, Earl Sweatshirt’s lyrically grim, borderline horrorcore debut mixtape (which features a song called “epaR”, or “rape” simply spelled backwards), and/or had seen some of the efficaciously ridiculous and provocative content on the OFWGKTA Youtube channel. No one knows the exact terms of Earl’s maternal exile. Either way, his fans were revolutionary in their demands for his return; they demonized his mother for daring to enact parental guidance over her son (who was a minor, by the way), they started the #FREEEARL social media campaign, and they built up expectations of his “comeback album” that far exceeded those of Dr. Dre’s never-to-exist Detox. Droves of fans eagerly flocked to their preferred streaming services when they were finally graced with Earl Sweatshirt’s long-awaited debut album, and they were met with…Doris.

The disappointed ellipsis above is not intended to suggest that Doris is unsatisfactory in any way, but rather to recreate the stark and bitter truth that was cast upon some of Earl’s more enthusiastic and icon-obsessed fans: that Earl Sweatshirt would never be the next Nas—the next Eminem—the next Jay-Z—and he was never trying to be.1200x630bb

It seems that his enforced MIA status during the height of Odd Future’s fame was, in a way, the best thing ever to happen to Earl Sweatshirt. His mental health and substance abuse issues remain a serious point of concern to be sure, but at least he has stayed out of trouble enough to maintain his impressive ability to calmly articulate his struggles to true fans, new and old, willing to decipher his tightly-packed and, at times, decidedly esoteric bars. Quoth Earl: “I’m a surviving child star.” This is indeed an apt and optimistic sentiment, but given the fates of some of Earl’s contemporaries, it is also a sobering reminder of the tempestuous path of the typical young Internet-age rapper. Earl has evaded much of the turbulence that has eclipsed the careers of many a modern young hip-hop artist; others have not been so lucky. For example, 6ix9ine’s short, underwhelming career has been plagued by numerous unrelenting legal issues, from racketeering charges to suspected involvement in a child’s sexual performance. Tay-K, at just 18 years old, is facing time for capital murder. XXXTentacion was facing serious legal consequences for the alleged grisly abuse of his girlfriend before he was gunned down in front of a motorcycle shop at the tender age of 20. Mac Miller and Lil Peep both died during prosperous times in their careers from Fentanyl overdoses, aged only 26 and 21, respectively. It isn’t too far-fetched to speculate that Earl Sweatshirt’s absence from the limelight during a time in which he would have prospered most but was ill-equipped to handle it, may have saved his life.

And so we had 2013’s Doris. Far from the grand and triumphant return fans and critics alike were expecting, the then 19-year-old’s debut album was nevertheless a marvel. It’s a complicated, honest, and shockingly introspective realization of the next-level material hinted at in Earl’s pre-exile work. The record is rife with nutty instrumental detours and anti-pop, sample-heavy beats laden with insular lyrics shedding light onto Earl’s maternally-imposed exile and its consequences, the complications of his return to stardom, and the effect his father’s general lack of presence had on him. Earl maintains and even sharpens the ability that he displayed on Earl to pour out dizzying, filled-to-capacity bars, but here he uses his wordplay as a vehicle for honest self-exploration instead of gross-out imagery and juvenile violence. 71h3Pu1WXnL._SL1500_Rather than a comeback album, Doris feels like the creation of a road-weary young man, wise and experienced beyond his years both in terms of industry presence as well as general life experience.

Earl’s second full-length studio album, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt is even more understated than Doris but far more antisocial. As opposed to his debut’s near 45-minute run time, the sophomore LP clocks in at just under 30 minutes. Whereas Doris features high-profile guests on almost every track (such as fellow Odd Future members, RZA, and Mac Miller), I Don’t Like Shit finds Earl delivering on a promise made in the album’s final track, “Wool”: “On my momma I been limiting my features.” With the exception of “Wool”, every track is produced by Earl under the pseudonym “randomblackdude.” The only high profile feature on the album is Vince Staples’s opening verse on the aforementioned “Wool.”

Elsewhere, Earl speaks on his addiction, panic attacks, breaking up with a significant other, and the death of his grandmother with such unadorned and bitter honesty that one can’t help but to listen to him as he lists his grievances. As with its predecessor, I Don’t Like Shit… was instantly hailed by critics, but Earl Sweatshirt maintained his refusal to capitalize on the hype that surrounded him at the dawn of the decade. Rather, he was coming into his own as a daring lyricist and an honest articulator of his damage: addiction, isolation, death, heartbreak and mental illness. It seemed as if his journey inward would only continue as he searched for salvation through his art.

And then…silence.

Until the very end of 2018, Earl Sweatshirt was relatively silent. Absent any new releases since I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, fans did not know what to expect. Other than solemn words about the death of friend and fellow artist Mac Miller via Twitter this September and a cancellation of tours due to anxiety and depression this past summer, there was radio silence from Earl Sweatshirt, and the hip-hop climate had changed a lot since his last release in 2015.

That silence lasted until the November 2018 release of  “Nowhere2Go,” Earl’s first single in three years, followed closely by the release of his third studio album, Some Rap Songs. If I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside presented Earl Sweatshirt spending a little too much me time alone in his home, then this new release can be seen as tantamount to the now 24-year-old rapper barricading himself off in a shack earl-sweatshirt-some-rap-songsin the middle of nowhere and throwing away the key. Its generic title is an apt reflection of how little Earl now cares about selling himself to an audience. He is so subdued in this under-25-minute release that one might not grasp how significantly Earl is baring his soul on its 15 iTunes-preview-length tracks. The album’s production is sample-heavy, loopy, lo-fi, and choppy and the instrumentation strikes a perfect balance: sometimes soothing and silky smooth, sometimes loud, dissonant, and full of hard left turns and jarring audio clips.

Earl’s delivery, at once deadpan and dense, may be hard to digest for new listeners at first. Vocally, he is raspier and more subdued in his delivery than he has ever been, invariably sounding like he chain-smoked two packs of Newports and two grams of loud before he got on the mic. However, he is also at his most reflective and his most poignant, rapping about familiar struggles such as addiction, mental illness, family and loss (his father, the late poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, passed away mere months before the album’s release), seemingly in real time. Most of the tracks here are vignettes that give the listener a voyeuristic look into the bruised psyche of not just a creatively exhausted artist, but rather a vulnerable human being struggling with many things at once. The closing instrumental track ends the album on sonic high note with a woozy cover of Hugh Masekela’s “Riot”. The cheerful cover’s upbeat guitar riffs, anthemic percussion, and jubilant trumpets make it feel like a realization in Earl that, despite his issues, he is going to be okay.

The spotlight has chased Earl Sweatshirt in some form or another throughout the entirety of his career and, as is showcased by the ethos and the tone of his three major label releases, he has been doing his level best to avoid it. Whereas many of today’s Internet-famous rappers feel the need to do anything they can to remain in the conversation, Earl Sweatshirt garners attention precisely by not demanding it. He invites the listener into his personal life in a manner that suggests that he does not really care whether he/she looks or not. Earl does not want to please obsessive fans. He does not want to be memed into stardom. He does not want to live fast and die young like many of his contemporaries. Rather, he aims to encapsulate the human experience in daring pursuits of sonic innovation. His mission is to bear his soul regarding issues of loss, loneliness, addiction, and spiritual struggle, chiseling at these issues with loquacious lyrical finesse in order to evolve into a more stable, healthy, and self-aware person. It is clear to see that he is well on his way and, in an age of colorful rappers that are more spectacle than substance, he is the unassuming, plainly dressed poet that we need.

EARL SWEATSHIRT PERFORMS @ THEATER OF LIVING ARTS MARCH 29TH

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BOOKS: The Great Gritsby

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

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PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE: Gritty is only four months old, but in that time he’s shown up everywhere. On wedding cakes, on Jimmy Fallon, on Christmas ornaments, on a fake (hopeful?) cover of Time magazine. So consider us highly un-shocked to discover that our favorite orange fur-ball made an appearance on some more fake covers: This time of the literary variety, thanks to a series of mock-ups by local indie publisher Quirk Books. MORE

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BEING THERE: Amen Dunes + Arthur @ UT

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

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Photo by MATT SHAVER

Despite the frigid wind and snow of a polar vortex—whatever that is—Union Transfer was packed with beanie-wearing, beer-guzzling indie kids last night. At first, the crowd was largely friends and family of opener Arthur, the experimental pop project of Arthur Shea. Shea also plays in Philly band Joy Again, who I’ve been following on the DIY scene for several years, watching them grow from playing in dingy basements to touring with Rostam (Vampire Weekend).

Arthur’s music is surreal and alien, full of bizarre sound effects and skittering pop keyboards. The overall impression is frenzied, like an over-caffeinated kid stabbing random buttons on a video game controller. Shea’s songwriting is manic and personal, the voice of your darkest, creeping thoughts. Tracks like “Woof Woof” teem with paranoia and insecurity. “Julie vs. Robot Julie” wrestles with caving loneliness. Onstage, Shea snuck sips of his Juul, tucking his chin into his turtleneck and exhaling vapor. “This song is about imagining yourself in a different timeline,” he said of “Ivy League,” the poppy lead single off Woof Woof.

Floor-shaking church organs sounded in the pitch dark, announcing the arrival of Amen Dunes. Damon McMahon appeared like a celestial being, his soulful vibrato reaching to the rafters. It’s impossible to make out what he’s saying, lyrics robbed of their meaning, words stretched into shapeless sounds. The set pulled from his breakthrough album Freedom, a work that blends blurred hallucinations and the sharp edge of reality. Songs like “Blue Rose” revive a classic rock vibe with grooving bass and seraphic synths. The band covered “Song to the Siren,” written by Tim Buckley. The groggy rendition sounded like it could have been an Amen Dunes original— everything sort of faded into one endless song, warped by McMahon’s sleepy drawl.– MARIAH HALL

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IN THE BEGINNING: Vinyl Mini-Box Set Of David Bowie’s Earliest Demos Lands On Earth April 5th

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

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With 2019 marking 50 years since David Bowie’s first hit, “Space Oddity,” Parlophone is set to release a 7″ vinyl singles boxed set of nine previously unreleased recordings* from the era during which “Space Oddity” was first conceived. The title SPYING THROUGH A KEYHOLE is a lyric taken from the previously unknown song “Love All Around” and though most of the other titles are known, these versions have never been officially released until late last year (see footnote). Most of the recordings are solo vocal and acoustic home demo performances, unless otherwise stated. The photography that adorns the box front and the print inside is by Ray Stevenson and was taken in Tony Visconti’s flat in the summer of 1968. The design of each single label is presented to reflect the way David sent many of his demos to publishers and record companies, featuring his own handwritten song titles on EMIDISC acetate labels. The singles themselves are all mono and play at 45 r.p.m. Due to the nature of some of the solo home demos where Bowie accompanied himself on acoustic guitar, the recording quality isn’t always of a usual studio fidelity. This is partly due to Bowie’s enthusiastic strumming hitting the red on a couple of the tracks, along with the limitations of the original recording equipment and tape degradation. However, the historical importance of these songs and the fact that the selections are from an archive of tracks cleared for release by Bowie, overrides this shortcoming. Complete track listing after the jump…
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BOOKS: The Importance Of Being Edward Gorey

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

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THE ATLANTIC: When the war was over, Gorey went to Harvard, where he set about the business of—as Dery puts it—“becoming Gorey.” His assistant dean found him to be a “queer looking egg.” But his best buddy was the poet Frank O’Hara, so who cares? There began the long coats, the many rings, the weary supremacy. He had crushes on other men. No sex, though, as far as Dery can ascertain, and no long-term companionship. Sedulous bachelorhood became the MO. Morrissey again: The hills are alive with celibate cries. Gorey moved to Manhattan in 1953 and churned out book covers for Doubleday’s mass-market imprint Anchor. This was also the year he published the first of his small books, The Unstrung Harp, about a novelist named Mr. Earbrass. Gorey would never again use so much prose in a book, but the prose was good and, more important, it was Gorey: “Mr. Earbrass stands on the terrace at twilight. It is bleak; it is cold; and the virtue has gone out of everything.”

His poetry, meanwhile, was poetry. A fugitive and lurid gleam / Obliquely gilds the gliding stream. So run the lines beneath a panel in his 1969 book The Iron Tonic. Parodic? Iron-tonic ironic? Yes and no. These are lovely, Tennysonian lines, but with a slight chemical distortion, as if Tennyson had forgotten to take his lithium. In the illustration, a tiny-headed man in a huge fur coat stands (transfixed? lost? dreaming?) in a snowy landscape, on the bank of a dark stream. Rods of light come poking through the low clouds, and the gliding stream is indeed obliquely gilded. It’s Gorey all the way down: a heavy-hanging antique atmosphere retro-injected with modernity, with anomie, with freaky deadpan emptiness.

Gorey entered the American cultural mainstream quite suddenly on the evening of February 5, 1980, when WGBH, the Boston PBS affiliate, debuted its Mystery anthology of British crime dramas. Mystery featured title sequences tracked by tango music and worked up by the animator Derek Lamb and his team from motifs in Gorey’s books: a pen-and-ink montage of rain, tombstones, flitting aristocrats, a disconsolately struck croquet ball being crushed by falling masonry, a woman’s cry, wilting and droopily orgasmic. The series was a hit, and Gorey—in his creeping, ivylike way—went nationwide.

His influence today, the seep of his sensibility, is pervasive: Dery efficiently lays out the debt owed him by the graphic-novel author Neil Gaiman, the cartoonist Alison Bechdel, the filmmaker Tim Burton, and any other fantasist who loiters in the dark gardens of childhood. “When I was first writing A Series of Unfortunate Events,” remembers Daniel Handler, the author of the Lemony Snicket series, “I was wandering around everywhere saying, ‘I am a complete rip-off of Edward Gorey,’ and everyone said, ‘Who’s that?’ Now everyone says, ‘That’s right; you are a complete rip-off of Edward Gorey!’ ” You can hear Gorey’s feline phrasing in the voice-overs of Wes Anderson movies. Or you can just look at a dusty chandelier, or someone in jodhpurs, or a particularly knotty, obscurely communicative tree, and say: Yup … Gorey-esque. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Edward Gorey was a lot of things — illustrator, author, designer, screenwriter, animal lover, pop culture junkie, antiquarian aesthete — but above all else, he was, for better or worse, the post-modern godfather of goth, a lineage that stretches back to Edgar Allan Poe, the pre-modern godfather of goth. Absent Gorey’s meticulously cross-hatched pen-and-ink chiaroscuros — typically exquisitely gloomy drawing room goreyinteriors and the forlorn coal-eyed waifs that haunt them — there would be no Tim Burton. Though he illustrated and authored countless books from the 1950s through the 1990s, and continued re-packaging and publishing his work up until his death in 2000, Gorey’s touchstone work will forever be The Gashlycrumb Tinies, a splendidly macabre illustrated alphabet book wherein 26 children, each one named after a letter of the alphabet, die in ways both devious and dastardly. Late last year, Bloomsbury re-published The Recently Deflowered Girl, a faux -advice book for young women navigating the newly opened world of sexuality. Originally published in 1965 and long since forgotten, the book features Gorey’s renderings of the recently de-virginized girls, the unlikely suitors, and the outlandish settings where the dirty deed got done. The accompanying nudge-nudge-wink-wink text by Hyacinthe Phypps (aka Mel Juffe ) counsels the freshly deflowered ladies on how best to extricate themselves from these unseemly assignations with whatever is left of their dignity and pride. Back when it was originally published, The Recently Deflowered Girl was an amusing harbinger of the then-blossoming sexual revolution. Today, in age of sexting and Viagra ads on prime time, it is amusing for a whole other set of reasons — reasons that we asked Bloomsbury editor Margaret Maloney  to explain. It was Maloney who helped shepherd the book from the outer reaches of the Internet, where it was first re-discovered, to a Barnes & Noble near you.  MORE

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AVEY TARE: Saturdays (Again)

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

Avey Tare, a.k.a Dave Portner of Animal Collective, has announced the new album Cows On Hourglass Pond, for release on March 22, 2019. Cows On Hourglass Pond was recorded between January – March 2018 by Dave Portner at Laughing Gas in Asheville, NC on a Tascam 48 half-inch reel-to-reel tape machine. The album was mixed by Adam McDaniel and Dave Portner at Drop of Sun in Asheville, NC. Tour dates after the jump…

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INCOMING: The Girl With The Most Cake

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

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In comedy circles, Amy Schumer is the girl with the most cake these days. Given her hard-won red carpet ubiquity  — between Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, her big-hit sketch comedy show now on apparent hiatus after four seasons, Trainwreck, the 2015 hit comedy film she wrote and starred in, and her Chris Rock-directed 2015 HBO comedy special Live At The Apollo, and all the attendant rounds of transcontinental interviews and talking head commentary, social media hand-wringing and blogospheric pearl-clutching that accompany such affairs — there’s no real need to explain who Amy Schumer is to anyone who hasn’t been chilling oblivious in a cryogenic chamber for the last three years.

Having achieved stardom on stage and screen and cable TV, it was only a matter of time until she set her sites on publishing. The result was 2016’s The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo. In the time-honored tradition of the celebrity tell-all — or more accurately, tell-some —  The Girl With The Lower Back is one part semi-gritty memoir, one part origin myth, one part brand force multiplier, and three parts gold rush, for which she was reportedly paid a jaw-dropping $9 million advance.

Here’s what we learn: she really, really likes wine. Preferably Rombauer Chardonnay or Opus One Cabernet. She likes weed. She likes sex. And she likes food, especially pasta and preferably right before before bed. Her parents meant well but were kinda jerks at one time or another (but then whose parents weren’t?). Her sister Kim plays Robin to her Batman, together they inflict vigilante verbal violence on unrealistic beauty standards for women, body-shaming, slut-shaming, eating-shaming, male/female pay disparities and all the other signifiers of institutionalized misogyny in the media industrial complex.
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TIM HEIDECKER: Ballad Of ICE Agent Ray

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

 

Today, Tim Heidecker releases the Another Year In Hell: Collected Songs from 2018 EP via Jagjaguwar, the follow up to 2016’s acclaimed Too Dumb For Suicide: Tim Heidecker’s Trump Songs. He also shares a lyric video for “Ballad of ICE Agent Ray,” edited by Vic Berger and stylized with a still of Trump’s twitter and his comically characteristic misspellings.

Featuring six songs that are caustic renderings of MAGA characters, both imagined and real, Another Year In Hell boasts the same signature piano and guitar lines from Heidecker’s previous release, but with a sharper bite. While Too Dumb For Suicide made us question when we should stop laughing at our current administration’s incompetence, this release reckons with the disasters that occur at the intersection of stupidity and TimHeidecker-AnotherYearInHellcruelty. Heidecker marries the absurd to everyday horrors, building a distinctly contemporary hellscape throughout. Two years into the administration, we should know what we’re laughing at.

“It was another year in Hell,” says Heidecker. “And while it didn’t generate the number of songs the year before did, I’m glad to have these songs I’ve released throughout the year in one handy package. And for the first time you can hear a new orchestration of ‘Tobin and the Judge’ by Bobby Halverson. This song really only showed up on YouTube as a backstage live recording so I’m so glad there’s an official and quite beautiful version of it now. Also new to most everyone’s ears is:  ‘Rake the Floor’ which I wrote for Father John Misty’s Wildfire Relief Fundraiser.  Please enjoy!”

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GEEK SQUAD: The Birds Of Prey Teaser

Monday, January 28th, 2019

The Birds of Prey are an all female superhero team of mostly Gotham (the city where Batman lives) heroes. In addition of Margot Robbie reprising her role as Harley Quinn, the film will feature Jurnett Smollett-Bell (Friday Night Lights, True Blood) as Black Canary, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, 10 Cloverfield LaneI) as Huntress , Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain, the Star Wars prequel’s Obi Wan Ewan McGregor as the villain Black Mask, and Chris Messina (The Newsroom, The Mindy Project) as serial killer Victor Zsasz star. Birds of Prey (And the Fabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) just dropped a 20 second teaser and while it reveals no new information on the plot or anything but we do finally see most of the main characters in costume.  While the teaser flashes between each character quick enough where it is hard to tell who is who the tone it goes for is clear. The characters are chugging booze straight out of the bottle, shooting crossbows and writing curse words on their broken arms. Clearly this is a group of heroes who don’t give a shit about authority too much. Add while that was the selling point of Suicide Squad (2016) I feel like this film will actually watchable. I’ve previously written why I think this film can save DC’s live action movies and I still feel the same. –RICHARD SUPLEE

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BEING THERE: Neko Case @ The Keswick

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

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Photo by MATT SHAVER

The first time I heard Neko Case sing was at a live show and she was singing just to me. The year was 2004 and I was at the Tower Theater, er, sorry, Tower Records, in Fairfax Virginia. The listening stations were a favorite spot of mine after classes. I’d post up on those shiny red stools and bury myself in whatever the staff was recommending at the moment, and in this moment it was The Tigers Have Spoken. I was hooked from song one and have been enthralled ever since.

Neko has THE voice – recognized across the room by everyone immediately – like Tori Amos, Tom Waits, or Tricky. Over the years that voice, often drenched in reverb, has been party to some of the best alt-country-folk-Americana-rock-blues trail mix this side of the Appalachians. Friday night, the Keswick Theater was blessed with that sound, and that voice in fine fashion, bringing along a lot of songs. Neko and crew brought a wide variety of her catalog to life. A healthy mixture of fan favorites and deep cuts made grand appearances. The soaring chorus of “Deep Red Bells” spread out majestically across the Keswick’s walls, and while she kept things mostly lively, there were periods of dirge-ier sounding songs, such as “Winnie” from her latest release, Hell-On.

While Case and company peppered the evening with banter, the music is where she seems most comfortable. A lot of crowd pleasers made appearances–“Lion Of Albion” “Hold On, Hold On” “This Tornado Loves You” “Halls Of Sarah” and “Margaret Vs. Pauline” all sounded magnificent. One of my favorites has always been “Maybe Sparrow.” It’s starts gently, weaving the cautionary tale of the titular Passeridae, and builds to an intense peak. The whole song is really an excellent showcase of Case’s vocal range, and that night was one of the finest renditions of it I’ve ever heard. At one point in the night, an enthused fan called out “We still love you!” Which was either in reference to a perceived mistake earlier in the evening, or a glorious call back to the end of “Train From Kansas City” on The Tigers Have Spoken. Whatever the case, we all did still love her, and I think the feeling was mutual. — MATT SHAVER

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Q&A With Daily Show Correspondent Dulce Sloan

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

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As a correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and hailed by Variety Magazine as a Top 10 Comedian To Watch, Dulcé Sloan is one of the sharpest, fastest rising voices in comedy. She has been named by Rolling Stone as one of the 10 Comedians You Need To Know and was hailed by Timeout LA as a 2017 Comedian to Watch. She has also been honored as the 2016 NBC Stand Up Showcase Winner, a Montreal Just For Laughs New Face and as a Comedian to Watch on The Steve Harvey Show.

Dulcé has “a voice that doesn’t pander or bully but comes at you straight. With a chaser of Joy,” according to Ozy.com. She offers a fresh and honest perspective that speaks truth to power and eviscerates the status quo. She was cast in the FOX pilot Type-A opposite Eva Longoria and the Amy Poehler project Dumb Prince for NBC. She has also appeared on MTV’s Acting Out, Comedy Central’s @Midnight, Tru’s Comedy Knockout, made her stand-up debut on TBS’ Conan, and has made multiple appearances as a correspondent on E! News Daily. Her signature point-of-view and confidence drives her hilarious views on everything from her personal relationships to the absurdities of society. She performs at Punch Line Philly January 25-26TH.

PHAWKER: Many people develop a sense of humor as a defense mechanism in response to bullies or hostile social/family situations or in response to some deep personal trauma and others just seem to be born that way. Where do you fit on that spectrum? And when/how did you realize you were funny — like, funny enough to make a living at it?

DULCE SLOAN: I knew in school that I could make people laugh by telling stories or little anecdotes or being a comedic character in a play. But I didn’t think I could be a stand-up comic until a comic, Big Kenney Johnson, told me I was a comic and got me to take his Stand Up class.

PHAWKER: Who were your comedy heroes when you were coming up (maybe mention three)? What made them so relatable to you, or at least what made them so funny in your estimation, and what have you learned/borrowed from them?

DULCE SLOAN: My comedy heroes growing up were Lucille Ball because her physical comedy skills and acting where amazing, Carol Burnett because she had a way of making you root for and love any character she played and Margret Cho because she was such a powerful force onstage and her comedy came from her life experiences.

PHAWKER: You are not afraid to tackle social/political issues with your stand up. Care to weigh in on the whole Gillette #MeToo ad right wing backlash?

DULCE SLOAN: The backlash seems to be men wanting things to stay the same and being exactly the men the ad was talking about. lol

PHAWKER: On a related note, what is up with white women — or for that matter ANY woman — supporting Trump? I don’t expect you to be an expert on this, but I am sure you have an opinion. And we’d like to hear it.

DULCE SLOAN: I don’t have an opinion on those women because they live a life I will never understand. They live in a bubble reality and that must be nice.

PHAWKER: While we’re getting heavy, we’d also like to hear your thoughts on the R. Kelly controversy.

DULCE SLOAN: He is a monster and he has been able to get away with what he is doing for so long because his victims are black women.

PHAWKER: Do you have a strategy for dealing with hecklers — such as just ignore them, or a bring-a-gun-to-a-knife-fight overwhelming force response? Surely you have a funny story or two about all this.

DULCE SLOAN: I have different tactics for dealing with hecklers. Sometimes I ignore them

PHAWKER: What was the last joke that somebody told you that made you LOL. (Dirty is fine, as is corny/cute.)

DULCE SLOAN: One of my friends posted a video on IG about how he bought the Atlantic Ocean and told everyone to get out it. I can’t stop laughing at it.



DULCE SLOAN PERFORMS @ PUNCH LINE PHILLY JANUARY 25TH-26TH

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