Month: February 2019

LCD Soundsystem — Electric Lady Sessions

LCD Soundystem Electric Lady Sessions DFA/Columbia LCD Soundystem went on self-enforced hiatus in 2011 before re-surfacing with 2017’s brilliant american dream.  This album is meant as a live document, recorded on the floor of the venerable New York studio, built back in 1967 by Jimi Hendrix in Greenwich Village.  It was recorded at the end of the long tour behind american dream, and has the sound of a band well in tune and comfortable with each other.  It sounds tight, in other words. Sessions is bookended by covers, opening with Human League’s, ‘Seconds,’ and finishing with Heaven 17’s ‘(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thing.’  ‘Seconds’ was originally written as a meditation on the assassination of JFK, but here, in LCD head honcho James Murphy’s monotonal voice, the chorus of ‘It took seconds of your time to take his life.’  Here, it is recast against the endless gun violence of the United States, which sees around 40,000 of us die per year.  As for ‘Fascist Groove Thing,’ The Guardian reminds us that it was once banned by the BBC. The album kind of stumbles with the second track, ‘american dream,’ which I have always found to be, well, boring and kind of flaccid.  But the Soundsystem recovers almost immediately with one of my all-time favourites of their oeuvre, ‘You Wanted a Hit’ from 2010’s most excellent ‘This Is Happening,’ which is one of my...

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Cosey Fanni Tutti — TUTTI

Cosey Fanni Tutti TUTTI Conspiracy International It is amazing to think that this is Fanni Tutti’s first solo album in 36 years, given how much music she has been produced in partner with others, from her pioneering work in Throbbing Gristle in the 70s, to working with her husband, Chris Carter, in Chris and Cosey in the 80s, through more recent albums, including a project with members of Factory Floor a few years back.  She is one of the most prolific artists I can think of, and central to the development of the music form we call ‘industrial.’  Industrial kind of hit the stratosphere in the early 90s with the massive success of Ministry and then Nine Inch Nails, but much of that seemed closer to metal than the original form of the music through artists from Throbbing Gristle through Skinny Puppy and Cabaret Voltaire, which was both insanely heavy with beats around 125bpm and menacing, growling vocals, when they existed at all. TUTTI is meant to serve as a form of companion piece to her memoir, Art Sex Music, which came out in 2017.  She has claimed this album expresses her full self, and is the only recording she has been involved in which does that.  It was also the soundtrack to a short biographical film, Hamonic Coumaction. The entire album is a rumbling of heavy industrial beats, and she does...

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John Hay on Bob Dylan: Untangling the Tracks

Mid-1970s Bob Dylan is the best Bob Dylan. Mid-1960s Dylan may be the historically significant Dylan, the canonical Dylan now regularly appearing on college English syllabi, but for me—I was born in 1984—that Dylan requires historicization. It’s not that the songs aren’t good (they’re terrific), but the hype and hysteria are hard to understand. That whole “going electric” thing . . . I guess you had to be there. It strikes this millennial as a little naïve in retrospect—in the same way that John Updike’s elevation of suburban sex as secular miracle now seems misguided. Sixties Dylan was a...

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Film Review: If Beale Street Could Talk

Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk is a gorgeous, devastating watercolor of a film, so simultaneously ethereal and tangible that it will ache inside you long after you leave the theater. It is the swelling of your heart, but also the lump in your throat. It is about memory and dreams, as they encounter a reality that sometimes feels so hopeful but is revealed to be uncompromisingly unfair and skewed. It is about being black and young in America; feeling so full of potential and ambitions, but caught inside an antiquated and violent system of racist restriction. The...

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Film Review: Vice

Vice is a loud, long, exhausting movie about the political career and aggressive corruption of Dick Cheney, a Lord of Misrule in American government so unbelievably, boundlessly, cartoonishly evil in real life that history might always be in danger of fielding accusations that it has embellished or fictionalized him in retrospect. The canyons of Cheney’s wickedness are well-suited for satirical condemnation, and Adam McKay, the filmmaker behind The Big Short, the recent frenetic and didactic portrait of the 2008 financial crisis, seems enthusiastic about taking Cheney to task. McKay certainly pulls no punches in his indictment, but there are...

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