Oh, Serj Tankian. Bless him. Few songwriters better exemplify the pitfalls of overtly political songwriting than the top-hatted occasional poet and former System of a Down frontman — no one’s denying that his heart’s in the right place, but by God does he write some stridently awful lyrics. With Tankian’s new album out this week, we got to thinking about his work with his former band, and about political songwriting in general. We generally have nothing but respect for anyone who wants their songs to do more than rhyme “moon” with “June,” but the art of tackling politics in song is a difficult one to master — get it wrong and you come off as either hopelessly clueless or a tedious proselytizing windbag. So here are some examples of both. To be clear: it’s not like we disagree with the political views of these songs (or most of them, anyway). It’s just that they’re not exactly how we’d choose to try to put across those views. Sigh. … Read More
Indie rock and arts and crafts have one vital thing in common: the DIY ethos. So it makes sense that some of our favorite acts are incorporating Etsy-like aesthetics into their music videos. With the help of shadow puppets, steampunk sculptures, construction paper backgrounds, and more, bands such as Bright Eyes, of Montreal, and Bat For Lashes are letting their craft flag fly with innovative clips that are just as mesmerizing as the music they accompany. Join us as we round up some of our favorite artsy videos. … Read More
A good record cover will stop you dead in your tracks, and make you curious not only about the music it accompanies, but about the artist who created it. Album art is often our first introduction to a band’s latest collection of songs, giving a visual aspect to the sonic creations inside the sleeve. Some acts take on the daunting task themselves, many with fantastic results, while other musicians enlist painters, photographers, crafters, and illustrators for the project. Even in this time of digital downloads, we’re not immune to the effects of a great album cover, and we find it unfortunate that the people behind these pieces rarely get the credit they deserve — so we’ve rounded-up ten that you should know, after the jump. Keep the list going by adding your suggestions in the comments. … Read More
Under the spell of verse, alliteration, rhyming and rhythm, musicians have long been enchanted by the masterminds behind poetry. Whether it be the mention of a poet’s name, appropriation of lines from their works, or some other tribute, literary references pervade many bands’ lyrics. It’s always inspiring to hear how one artist’s work can open the doors to creativity across other art forms, so throw on your headphones and dig out those poetry anthologies as we recount some killer music that was influenced by the likes of Sylvia Plath, e.e. cummings, and John Donne. … Read More
What started out two decades ago as a makeshift traveling musical circus has now become one of Chicago’s biggest annual events. This year’s Lollapalooza includes performances from Muse, Foo Fighters, Kid Cudi, Cee-Lo Green, Bright Eyes, Lykke Li, Crystal Castles, and dozens more — and it also marks your chance to win a VIP trip for two to attend the fest.
We’ve partnered with GUESS to send one winner and a guest out to Chicago’s Grant Park to spend three days basking in music and sunshine, with airfare, accommodation, and VIP festival passes all included. The winners will also attend an exclusive afterparty presented by Flavorpill and GUESS, featuring Tinie Tempah and Young the Giant. … Read More
1. Interesting fact: only 13 percent of Wikipedia’s contributors are women, reports the New York Times. The Wikimedia Foundation vows to increase the number of women contributors to 24 percent by 2015.
2. After taking home top honors at last night’s SAG Awards, The King’s Speech is now considered the front-runner for Best… Read More
Somewhere in the gray area between Bob Dylan writing “Masters of War” and the 2004 presidential elections, singing songs about the things that matter got very uncool. Marvin Gaye, John Lennon, and Bob Marley were the hip, countercultural voices of their generation, but, up until recently, protest music has been the reserve of crusty punk rockers and be-dreaded folk singers – the kind you’d never want to end up to talking to across a non-vegan buffet table at a party.
However, the past decade has seen a revival of the modern protest song in pop and alternative music, spurred on by mounting disillusion with U.S. foreign policy, the Iraq War, and the increasing interest in politics among America’s youth. Everyone from Godspeed! You Black Emperor to Kanye West is doing it – heck, even Pink had a go with her cheese-layered ballad “Dear Mr. President.” … Read More
If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite literary characters might be listening to while they save the world/contemplate existence/get into trouble, or hallucinated a soundtrack to go along with your favorite novels, well, us too. But wonder no more! Here, we sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters. What would be on the personal playlists of Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett, Huck Finn or Harry Potter, Tintin or Humbert Humbert? Something revealing, we bet. Or at least something danceable. Read on for a cozy reading soundtrack, character study, or yet another way to emulate your favorite literary hero. This week: everyone’s favorite chosen-child-boy-wizard, Harry James Potter. … Read More
Now that most everyone has gotten their Best of 2010 lists out of the way, it’s time to look towards the future. For you, dear reader, we have attacked the ginormous pile of promos on our desk and in our iTunes queue to bring this list of our 30 most anticipated albums of 2011. And guess what? From pop to hip-hop to noise, it looks like it’s going to be an excellent year, featuring buzzy debuts, long-awaited projects from beloved bands, and collaborations so stellar we still can’t believe they’re really happening. … Read More
1.The Council of Conservative Citizens want you to boycott the new Thor movie because it considers it an “insulting multi-cultural make-over” that a black actor (Idris Elba from The Wire) has been cast as a Norse god. [via Gawker]
2. Last night Shaquille O’Neal filled in as guest conductor of the Boston Pops… Read More