In many ways, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resembles domestically sticky political conflicts in the United States and other developed nations with which we are more familiar. Consider wealth redistribution: there are two sides to the argument, each unwavering as they see their argument as both practically and morally correct. These views are enforced by a list of facts each side is capable of producing at a moment’s notice: “taxing the rich is economically inefficient; the poor need to be taught how to improve their own situations,” or “equitable distribution improves the opportunities of the poor, and boosts economic output by increasing the productivity of the disadvantaged.” Here is the problem: both statements contain some truth. What you believe depends on your values and point of view; the analysis can support any statement.
More than a decade has passed since Blur’s lead singer Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlitt spun Gorillaz out of nothing more than a growing appreciation for electronic music and four punk-ass cartoon characters. Since 1998, the band has fused dance, African, gospel, electronic, rap, and rock music into three hypnotically good albums, long since eclipsing the popularity of Blur here in the United States. Albarn has collaborated with a huge number of varied artists over the last ten years, but is the sole music visionary behind Gorillaz, composing all the lyrics, setting all the orchestration, and writing all the music. Like <i>Gorillaz</i> (2001) and <i>Demon Days</i> (2005), his newest effort <i>Plastic Beach</i> (2010) features a range of musical guests that spans both decades and genres. These cameos, far from obscuring Albarn’s artistic voice, serve only to highlight his distinctive musical voice that eludes categorization but is easily identifiable.
When was the last time you witnessed a teenaged Floridian play a guitar with his mouth? Those attending Surfer Blood’s most recent show saw that and other wonders: two drum kits and five musicians squeezing onto a stage designed for flea circuses, and the re-emergence of the cowbell as a rock instrument. Simply constructed, tightly orchestrated, and featuring two prominent, over-amplified guitars that reject the “lead/rhythm” stereotype, Surfer Blood songs — specifically “Swim” and “Fast Jabroni” — evoke the Pixies at their very best on <i>Doolittle</i> (1989). Whether this influence is direct or inherited through their unabashed Weezer-worship is hard to say. Driving their similarities with Weezer home, Surfer Blood strummed the first 4 bars of “Sweater Song” during the encore, only to stop abruptly and mock the crowd for its gullibility.
Music grows like old roadways: When the path cut by the avant-garde is narrow and new, only a few people can follow. As the road is widened subsequent artists, larger numbers of fans can travel. Some artists live their entire careers blazing trails for others to follow, and some spend their time retracing the same well-worn path over and over again. Following a fairly established Brit-rock tradition, We Were Promised Jetpacks gallivants along the roads laid out by their predecessors in style, producing ebullient, accessible music for a wide-audience.
Returning from a hiatus that has kept them off the stage and out of the spotlight for the last couple of years, Rogue Wave kicked off the American portion of their latest tour at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. Sporting a new keyboardist and a fairly recent guitarist, Rogue Wave sprouted no pretension in the two years since their last studio visit, playing more than 100 minutes of honest, earnest rock to the mostly full ‘Dise.
Hip-hop prevailed over nineties soft-rock in this year’s annual MIT Spring Weekend concert. The American funk-rock/hip-hop group N.E.R.D — known for edgy tracks like “Sooner or Later” and “Everyone Nose” — will headline the concert. Electronic mash-up group Super Mash Bros. playing the opening act. The concert will occur on April 23 at 8 p.m. Tickets will be available starting March 1.
Filling out this year’s spring weekend poll, I was, yet again, disappointed with the selection. The class of 2010 has yet to see a rock band that writes new music. The Ying Yang Twins in 2007: no need to comment; Third Eye Blind in 2008: unoriginal power-rock; Ben Folds played in 2009: at least we hired a decent musician that year, but if it weren’t for copying Jeff Buckley, who somehow copied Elliott Smith, Ben Folds would still be opening for no-name bands in the East Village.
Sixteen albums and twenty-seven years after the release of their first, self-titled studio album in 1982, Sonic Youth has made a career of wowing crowds all over the world in the promotion of their newest work. Last Sunday, Sonic Youth rocked the older crowd at Boston’s strangely arranged Wilbur Theater out of its argyle socks, and proved that having appeared in a tour video named <i>1991: The Year Punk Broke</i> does not prevent a band from contemporary greatness.
The sold out Paradise Rock Club filled up early in preparation for Tuesday night’s Concert. The youngish crowd, a veritable hipster-bingo board of plaid, alt-girl headbands, and greasy faux-hawks, could probably have contributed enough optical strength with their combined square-rimmed glasses to focus the death star. Similarly hip, the Brooklyn-based Dirty Projectors took the stage to crowd calls of “let’s get dirty!” and vigorously belted out their unique, soaring rock music.
Say Hi (formerly Say Hi to Your Mom), the little-known second opener at TT’s, proved to be by far the most talented band of the evening, blowing both the opening act and the headlining band out of the water. Raw and loud without any sacrifice to their catchy, simple melodies, Say Hi’s show on Tuesday was a performance that changed the way one would listen to a band’s recorded work.
Sawing out the same old tunes for ticket-buying fans would be the undoing of any average rock band — thankfully, Ra Ra Riot is far from average. A tight performance and real musical skill enthralled the Paradise Rock Club, and even the sawing — as delivered by beautiful string players Alexandra Lawn and Rebecca Zeller — urged the Saturday night audience to break into en masse hipster shuffling.