Friday, October 28, 2011

Chicago: Still Better Than Wherever You Live

This Halloween weekend, you could shrug your shoulders, nod your head, and go see some solid sets from established live acts. For $30, you could see Big Freedia, Pictureplane, and Spank Rock are at the Mid. Hell, you could avail yourself to a $40 shake-down to see Paul Oakenfold and Paul Van Dyke at the Congress Theater.

That is, if you're into that sort of thing. And Lord bless you if you are. I'm not judging. I just think a two-day music festival at the Happy Dog Gallery is a much, much better idea. It'll be crowded, but pretty small all the same, capturing the late-autumn charm that typifies CMJ, but without the neck-craning over the bobbing heads of striped shirt types at a enormous, faceless venue.

Tonight, come before 10 to see the art on display and then see sets by Valis, Lazer Crystal, The North, and Mr. 666, as well as a DJ set by Omar Padron. This will be followed, tomorrow, by The-Drum, Yen Tech, Sich Mang, and DJ sets by Supreme Cuts and DJ Tralala. 

If you get nothing else out of this post, it should be an encounter with the 10% joking, 90% serious, 100% awesome latter-day boy band called #HDBOYZ, whose members recently made the Chicago-New York move:

The shot of girls swooning at them onstage is pretty crucial. Apparently, I'm staying at the apartment of some of their more ardent fans.

Monday, October 24, 2011

MCs Need to Hit Up Elizabeth Harper

Photo by Bek Andersen via Carpark Records

An interview that you'll really want to read: Last month, I spoke with Elizabeth Harper, the vocalist for Class Actress, whose full-length album Rapprocher dropped last week. Typing and talking at the same time has produced a rather disjointed transcript, so I'll skip to a part in our conversation where we were talking about Hurricane Irene.

Elizabeth Harper: A friend of mine was at the pier in Long Island City and the police were sending him off. I was thinking: "Don’t they know that you have to hear the water to hear your soul?" 
The hurricane had all these different tones to it. You need to connect with nature to hear things, things that have sounds are things that you can’t hear. We’re a city of romantics. Whatareyagonnado? There’s all sorts of people in New York. There are people who go running in the rain. They’re the stalwart, Wuthering Heights characters in the city. Howling on the cliffs, howling in the moors.

Reid Singer: A lot of people seem to dig the photo of you and the other band members on a couch. Where was that taken?

EH: Oh yes! That was taken at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. [The photographer's] name is Sarah Forbes Keough, a good friend of mine. That was one of the very first shows, I had this idea of doing these black and white paparazzi shots, where you’re catching me in this Lou Reed moment. I wanted a black and white, large flash, hotel shot.

Arthur Felling, (aka Weegee), "At the Palace Theater," ca. 1945. Image via
RS: Lou Reed?

EH: There was a specific photographer that we were referencing, it was all based on these photos. Maybe Sarah’s online. I can ask her. Oh, that’s what it was. Exactly. Don't you just love the internet? We were trying to do Arthur Felling. There were these old photographs that he used to take of emergency services and crime photos, and he later worked with Stanley Kubrick. It was a specific thing we were going for.

RS: A lot of your music is written in the 2nd person. Does it come from any aspiration to sing your own lyrics to someone (perhaps at a show, a la Phil Collins)?
EH: Yeah. The songs are directed at people. All songwriters, when you write a song, it’s a feeling that’s happened inside of you because of a dysfunction with another human. I don’t know who the inspiration was for "You're So Vain," or for Phil Collins, or for Bruce Springsteen, but these love songs were written for someone. They’re letters to different people. They were written, in a moment, about a person.
When you think about Rousseau and the book Julie, or the New Héloïsethe stir that it caused in 1761, people got so attached to these characters who were from fiction. People were like, "I sobbed when such and such happened. I can’t believe this happened." What can you say about that? The fiction and non-fiction...that’s just how you make it. 
It's in Julie that you read the line, "Jsuis trop heureuse. Le bonheur m’ennuie." ("I'm too happy. Happiness bores me.") When I was writing the other day, I came across the quote and put it up here so that I can see.

RS: And the lyrics, "You're holding me too high," or "This is the thing you do to me," in the Journal of Ardency title track?

The new record, once you hear it, you’ll understand. It’s pretty lovable. If you think Journal of Ardency is calling to somebody, this is calling somebody out. Journal of Ardency is a note. Compared to this, Rapprocher is a full-on love letter. It’s a wider a sea of despair and longing. The Journal were kind of desires that I had and kept to myself, and Rapprocher is a deeper understanding of the feeling and coming to terms with it.

It sounds serious, but it’s pop music. It’s sleazy dance music. It’s not really though. I mean, I’ll say that, but it’s Phil Collins sleazy dance music. It’s got the same sentiment. "You know I love you but I’m playing for keeps." So intense. 

I got to get some armor on if I keep referring to Phil Collins. It's a little too tragic, but people love love songs. The first time I heard Alicia Keys, I got chills. I love RnB. [Class Actress] is a white LA girl's take on RnB, gone through an 80s blender. That’s all I could say about that. I know it’s a little too self-deprecating, but, you know.

RS: How do you like the Dr. Dre / Journal of Ardency mash-up?

EH: I love it! I think it’s great. The Hood Internet did it, and it’s perfect. I just wished some big rapper would hit you up for one of your beats. It fits so perfect into this song, I totally saw it. It was so me, West Coast early 90s rap is stuff I love. I wish a good modern day rapper would hit me up.

RS: What should we listen to between now and when Rapprocher is released?
EH: A few new records come out on Sept 13th: the new Das Racist, the new Neon Indian, and the show I'm going to tonight which is Cant [aka Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear]. He put out the Journal of Ardency record for me. Those are three great records that come out the 13th. Until then you should be listening to your own mind. Or your own higher self.

Friday, October 21, 2011

An Interview with David Shrigley

David Shrigley, "Untitled (museums are Full of Crap)," 2011.
You’re probably a fan of David Shrigley and you don’t even know it. Acting in the fields of graphic art, studio art, books, music and animation, Shrigley has earned renown for making high-brow works on paper with a disturbing, punkish bite since the early 1990s. Though trained formally at the Glasgow School of Art, his drawings maintain an unskilled look, belied only by their being witty as hell. In late September, I met with Shrigley to talk about his career and the compilation What The Hell Are You Doing?: The Essential David Shrigley, which was published earlier this year and is now available in the US.

Read what he has to say about his career, his working process, his upcoming projects, and the Glasgow music scene (way more solid than I'd realized) on Art Fag City.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Shut It Down: A Reality Check for the Warhol Market

Andy Warhol, "200 One Dollar Bills," via Artinfo.
Starting in 2012, the commercial work of “authenticators” will be separate from the scholarly work of art historians. I doubt that art history will be affected in any significant way when we find out that such-and-such an edition of fifty prints were actually made by a studio assistant and sold for something illegal. Answering these kinds of questions shouldn’t be a major part of the Warhol Foundation’s job. Read the full post on Art Fag City.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Alan Partridge Speaks for Himself

You have a gift for unexpected simile, eg, "Snowflakes fell from the sky like tiny pieces of a snowman who had stood on a land mine." Who are your literary influences, if any?
A true writer, a good writer, refuses to be influenced by any other writer – it's cheating otherwise. My influences come from elsewhere. I'm inspired by the chord choices of Sting, the camera angles of Scorsese, a dog catching a frisbee, the satisfying gu-dum of a German-built car door shutting, the shimmy of Shakira's sweet ass. I draw on every one of these things when I'm in my study.

Read the full interview from the GuardianI, Alan Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan is now available on Amazon.

Friday, October 14, 2011


This weekend, the Creator's Project will host a series of musical performances in DuMBO, in a program that will very much resemble a music festival. A few of the promoters will talk about how it's "so much more than that." None of the attendants will care.

At the Tobacco Warehouse by Brooklyn Bridge Park, be sure to catch Yuksek, who'll go on at 5:30 PM.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Arbitrary Arbitration in Art Review’s Power 100

It’s very hard to comment on a list ranking anything — beer, Star Wars movies, or art world figures — without negotiating some serious sass fallout. When reading comments to the 2011 Power 100, published today by Art Review, I thought of tuning my ear by spending a few minutes listening to the trash talk that follows a competition on Drag Race. What would people have to say if Dasha Zhukova gave RuPaul a “bad girl” makeover? Or if Takashi Murakami could talk about how funky his chicken is? And who wouldn’t want to see Damien Hirst lip-sync to the Stacy Q song “Two of Hearts?”

Read the full post on Art Fag City.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

More From Age of Consent

Age of Consent have been making dark, dystopian gothic-pop influenced by bands and production duos such as The Knife, Suicide and Yeasayer. Made up of Joe Reeves and Darren Cullen, the former members of Shitdisco posted a remix of The Beach by Chicago favorites VALIS a year and a half ago.

The Beach (VALIS Remix) by ageofconsent
In only a few months of playing live, Age of Consent have taken their drum heavy live show to Italy and Austria, playing with such established names as Tiga, such ungoogleable names as The Drums and Fiction, the eminently lovable Is Tropical, and the eminently eminent Koudlam. AOC are about to embark on an extended tour that Australia would be crazy to miss. Here are some dates:
7 October - Sydney, Australia - Gaelic Hotel (upstairs)
8 October - Brisbane, Australia - Uber
14 October - Adelaide, Australia - Fowler's Live
15 October - Melbourne, Australia - Revolver Upstairs
27 October - London, UK - 93 Feet East
3 December - Genoa, Italy - Banano Tsunami
7 December - Italy, Venice - Wah Wah Club w/ Metronomy

A new remix of The Beach went up on Soundcloud today:
The Beach (The Toxic Avenger Remix) by ageofconsent