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Witch House: Harry Potter and the Wizard Rock Phenomenon

July 27, 2011

Confession: Last year I put on a Ravenclaw uniform — prim school girl blouse, skirt, and silver and blue tie, wool cardigan, navy-lined robe, wand pocket armed and ready — and waited 12 hours in line for the midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. I couldn’t contain my excitement, the…

Weirdo Lil Wayne Gone Squeaky Clean

July 20, 2011

Remember when Lil Wayne was the weird one? In 2006, when Weezy’s career started picking up its second wind with the release of still-astonishing Dedication 2 mixtape, he was the touchstone for avant-gardism in rap, the purped-out, bloodshot-eyed spitter whose magic in the booth could have been conjured by mysticism as easily as anything else…

Rubble Rousers: Mr. Dream on Sifting through Trash–and Playing 4Knots

July 13, 2011

The Village Voice ran the Siren Music Festival — an annual, free, sweaty day of music on Coney Island — for 10 years. This year, they’ve renamed it the 4Knots Music Festival and moved it from Brooklyn to Manhattan’s South Street Seaport. It’s still free and, chances are, still sweaty. Black Angles and Titus Andronicus headline…

Can Latin Music Bust Out of… Latin Music?

July 7, 2011

About five years ago, I saw the New York bachata group Aventura headline Madison Square Garden. Riding high off their mega-hit “Un Beso,” a tender ballad with virtuoso guitar work, the sold-out crowd was collectively palpitating, not just at the R&B-informed smoothness of heartbreaker lead Anthony Santos (they nicknamed him “Romeo” for a reason), but…

Stevie Nicks on Inspiration, Collaboration, and Her New Dreams

June 29, 2011

Since Stephanie Nicks became “Stevie” in 1973, the ethereal songstress has recorded 18 albums, been nominated for 17 Grammys, and had one of the music industry’s most notorious love affairs — with fellow Fleetwood Mac member, Lindsey Buckingham. Yet Nicks’ latest album, In Your Dreams, released in May, marks the first time the singer/songwriter has worked…

Previewing the BET Awards: Where Are the Lady Rappers?

June 22, 2011

A glance at Justin Bieber’s stacked trophy shelf will tell you music awards shows generally reward sales over all other criteria. When they deviate from this rubric, there’s a price to pay, as when the enormously talented jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding nabbed last year’s “Best New Artist” Grammy from the Biebz and his fans hijacked…

Remixing Metaphors: Music and the Value of Cost

June 15, 2011

Late last year, Fleet Foxes, a band that already feels like they belong to another time, compared the $3.99 Amazon digital sale price of their new album, Helplessness Blues, to the cost of a whoopee cushion. Earlier label Asthmatic Kitty urged fans pre-ordering Sufjan Stevens’ The Age Of Adz to buy it somewhere besides Amazon,…

Uncovering New Music at Copenhagen’s Distortion Fest

June 8, 2011

A long long time ago, in a year that shall not be disclosed (2003), I attended Love Parade, the debauched festival of raving that clomped and trucked down Berlin’s Alexanderplatz. A million dance music lovers strong, it reimagined the Millennium City into something more resembling “Fraggle Rock,” as the generously sized garb of the traditional…

Lyricists of the Page: From Dylan to Destroyer

June 1, 2011

Magazines and websites celebrated Bob Dylan’s recent 70th birthday by writing 700 tributes — there were so many, in fact, that the Guardian followed their coverage of his 70th birthday with a column asking “Was There Too Much Coverage of Bob Dylan’s 70th Birthday?” Maybe there was just too much of the same — most…

Friendly Fires Find Salvation on an Island

May 25, 2011

If you want to get philosophical about it, Friendly Fires are reaching for the rocky euphoria-point between total joy and the unknown. In 2008, the band — three studious, reserved but jovial boys from St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England, two called Ed (one with two Ds) — dropped a debut that espoused a loose, dreamy type…