Nirvana

Flavorwire Premiere: Cellist Maya Beiser Transforms Nirvana’s “Lithium” Into Ferocious Classical Music

From Owen Pallett to Andrew Bird to Kishi Bashi, there’s no shortage of musicians incorporating classical string sections into rock and pop. Far fewer do it the other way around, or at least on a level that reaches classical neophytes. Brilliant cellist Maya Beiser’s reimaginations of rock and roll hits deserve the kind of mainstream recognition Kronos Quartet’s covers of Sigur Rós and the Pixies have received. … Read More

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The Definitive Ranking of Dudes Covering “Royals”

Between scowling at a Cubs games and ending up a meme, Jack White found time to cover Lorde’s “Royals” this week. The news wasn’t all that surprising for two reasons: White has been covering pop songs, like Jay Z’s “99 Problems” and Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead,” on his current tour; and old-school rock dudes love them some “Royals.” (I personally think the latter has to do with its message of anti-consumerism harkening back to a time WHEN ROCK MUSIC RAILED AGAINST SOMETHING, damn youths, grumble grumble, etc.) Most singles that spend more than a couple weeks at No. 1 are going to garner a bevy of covers — from up-and-comers and YouTube unknowns alike — but Lorde’s breakthrough really has inspired an astonishing number of covers… from dudes you would not expect. Let’s take a look at who covered it best, shall we? Worst comes first. … Read More

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Famous Songs Become Buildings in Federico Babina’s ‘Archimusic’

Music often drives us to change the architecture of our bodies – if it wasn’t for Rod Stewart’s raw, animalistic beats or Barry Manilow’s thrashing guitar, I wonder if I’d ever move at all. But seriously, the idea of music itself being architectural isn’t too hard to fathom, whether in the way that it’s laid out in blueprint form before it’s actualized, in the way that a series of supporting sounds bolster one another and create a song, or in the 4’33” sense that silences create their own music, just as there’s architecture in empty space. … Read More

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The Stories Behind Controversial Album Covers

Today, in 1990, a defiant Fort Lauderdale record store owner was arrested, convicted, and fined after selling 2 Live Crew’s As Nasty As They Wanna Be. The explicit album was embroiled in a massive obscenity trial. It was deemed illegal and unfit for store shelves by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The ruling was later overturned, but the case became a landmark for artists fighting for the freedom of speech. But it wasn’t just the sexual lyrics that caused a controversy. It was the album’s fleshy cover, too. We tracked down the stories behind some of music’s most controversial album covers — those artworks that were banned and misunderstood in their time. Here are just a few albums that have been put through the wringer. … Read More

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Oasis vs. Shoegaze vs. Grunge: An Excerpt From Alex Niven’s 33 1/3 Book ‘Definitely Maybe’

In a new entry in Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series of album-themed books, writer Alex Niven contextualizes Oasis’s 1994 debut, Definitely Maybe, in a way that requires an eye toward British politics. Up for discussion are class warfare, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the shifting definition of the UK everyman — and what made early Oasis the perfect soundtrack for that archetype. Niven’s take is a crucial read on the true core of Oasis, at a time when so much of the band’s legacy has been rewritten by the Gallagher Brothers’ bad behavior and beefing. In our exclusive excerpt from the book, released earlier this month, Niven places Oasis on a continuum alongside grunge and shoegaze. (All this, mind you, happens in the context of a chapter about water.) … Read More

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Rockism Isn’t Dead, It’s Hiding Behind a Need for Anti-Pop Stars

Late last week, Dave Grohl quietly took aim at music’s easiest target: pop stars. In the same breath that he lauded Lorde as the future of music, he juxtaposed his sentiments with a diss against “stripper pop.” The comment did not seem all that premeditated, but rather, a routine sentiment from someone who’s been a capital-R, capital G Rock Guy for a quarter of a century. But this pop “othering” is the new M.O. of rockism, and what’s behind the need to deem certain singers — from Lorde to Adele to Lily Allen to M.I.A. — the “anti-pop star.” … Read More

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The Kurt Cobain Wallet Letter Is Just Another Opportunity for the Internet to Lazily Vilify Courtney Love

(Update, May 5 – Courtney Love has confirmed, via Cobain biographer Charles R. Cross in the Seattle Times, that she wrote the letter in 1991.)

(Update, 6:20 p.m. - The mysterious crop job of the note has been addressed with a full scan of the note, via grunge authority/journo Mark Yarm’s Tumblr. The note had been cropped in its original release, seemingly either by Seattle PD or CBS News, who broke the news. The last sentence reads: “Will you promise to fuck her at least once a week OK.” Now it really seems like something Courtney Love wrote in jest (except maybe that last part))

Kurt Cobain’s suicide will not die. This week, as we’re still coming off Cobain’s 20th deathiversary and Nirvana’s Rock Hall Induction, the Seattle Police Department released their detective’s full re-examination of his suicide file, which came to the same conclusion. This re-examination, which featured 34 newly released photos from the death scene, revealed a scan of a note found in Cobain’s wallet when his body was found in the greenhouse of his Seattle home on April 8, 1994. … Read More

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Dear Pixies, Stop Milking It

As far as ads go, the new iPhone ad featuring a cover of the Pixies’ “Gigantic” is pretty charming. The laundry list of all the things featured in the commercial could rival a Stefon skit, and among them is a band of “alternative” teenagers trepidatiously tackling “Gigantic” as “alternative” teenagers have done for the last 20-odd years. The purpose is to sell $300 phones to “creatives,” but it’s not a half-bad representation of what the Pixies have come to mean in the 23 years since their last album: a badge of honor that reads, “I’m ‘alternative’ in a kinda obvious way, but at least the music is really fucking good.” It’s slightly less cool than liking The Replacements, slightly more cool than liking the ’90s bands who ripped off the Pixies in one way or another (Nirvana, Weezer, Radiohead). … Read More

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Don’t Believe the Nostalgia Machine: 1994 Was a Shitty Year for Music

It’s a strange thing to see an era you remember being regurgitated by the nostalgia machine. The last couple of years have been a constant stream of early-’90s anniversaries: Nevermind! Dazed and Confused! My So-Called Life! It’s not like we didn’t see this coming, of course — culture tends to move in generational 20ish-year cycles, so a resurgence of interest in the ’90s was inevitable. (And, of course, these days culture bloggers just love a good anniversary as an excuse for a think-piece, a trend from which this site is certainly not exempt.) Sure, the early ’90s were a rich flourishing of culture after the desert that was the late ’80s. But this year, we’re at the 20th anniversary of 1994. And listen: 1994 was shit. … Read More

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