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T. Cole Rachel
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One of the most pleasant aspects of attending the Ceremonia festival last weekend was getting the chance to see Ty Segall totally rip through his set while a few thousand Mexican teenagers went totally apeshit. The gig was a warmup of sorts for Segall, whose fantastic new record, Manipulator, will see release next week. The album is arguably the most well-rounded and polished of Segall’s career, which makes sense considering he spent more time finessing this record than anything else he’s ever done. His set in Mexico was as raucous as any of his shows I’ve ever seen — and it marked the moment when the crowd stopped standing around and promptly got to moshing — but apparently his recent spate of silver-lipsticked late-night appearances should give fans a clue where his upcoming glammy live shows might be headed. I caught up with him backstage to talk about the new record, his upcoming tour, and the rather unconventional projects he might be tackling next.

Staged in Toluca, nearly an hour outside Mexico City, the Ceremonia festival takes over the grounds of an enormous go-cart track, which not only provides a fairly panoramic mountaintop view but goes a long way toward making you feel like you are exactly in the middle of nowhere. This is the only festival I’ve ever attended where it was possible to order a Nutella-filled crepe and a seafood tostada garnished with roasted grasshoppers. Also, Toluca’s extreme elevation and thinner air means that traveling music journalists such as myself can find themselves relatively drunk after just two beers, which probably explains why so much of the festival now feels like weird dream.

I recently stopped by Stereogum’s NYC offices to sit down and have a chat with Lily Allen. Given how contentious Allen’s relationship to the press has been in the past — particularly in regards to the varying and often contradictory interpretations of her new album, Sheezus — I wasn’t sure just how amenable Allen would be to talking with yet another journalist about her polarizing new set of songs. In the end, she couldn’t have been lovelier. Opinion may be split about her new record, which tows a fine line between calling out feminist double standards and inadvertently playing directly into them, but what makes Allen such a compelling presence is just how honest she is about the whole thing. Whether it be in her music, in the press, or on Twitter, she just can’t help but say what’s on her mind in any given moment, even when it gets her into trouble or, as some have complained, sends a complicated jumble of mixed messages. When I asked her about the seemingly contradictory messages at work in Sheezus, Allen was nonplussed. (“I’m not a politician,” she quipped.) Regardless of how it’s received, Allen appears genuinely happy to have made the record she wanted to make, but she’s the first one to own up to being more than a little frightened and insecure about trying to reenter the pop landscape after nearly a five-year absence. “I just try and be as honest as I can without sounding like too much of a dick,” she told me. “Maybe I succeed in some people’s eyes and fail miserably in others, but at the end of the day that’s the name of the game, isn’t it?”

Comments

Some of you were asking about my setlist. This is what I sent Nina and Louise. I included spots for them to insert some new songs.

1 – Get Back
2 – All Hail Me
3 – The Museum of Broken Relationships
4 – Straight
5 – NEW SONG
6 – NEW SONG
7 – Seether
8 – Don’t Make Me Prove It
9 – Shutterbug
10 – Forsythia
11 – Wolf
12 – The Morning Sad
13 – NEW SONG
14 – Fly
15 – Spiderman
16 – It’s Holy
17 – Celebrate You

ENCORE

18 – 25
19 – Shimmer Like A Girl
20 – Volcano Girls

 +2Posted on Jul 16th, 2013 | re: Mazzy Star - "California" (18 comments)

I approve of this cat-oriented artwork. And the song.

With all due respect, I can only WISH that my name was Z. Cole Rachel Smith.
Thanks for your comments.

I generally enjoy that my Stereogum interviews are casual and conversational, but maybe you’re right–I probably could have cut some of our initial chatter. In any case, I hope there was at least something in the interview you enjoyed. I don’t want anyone to feel like their time is being wasted.

 +7Posted on Apr 9th, 2012 | re: Progress Report: Liars (7 comments)

I wish. I would love to be able to take credit for writing “How Long Have You Known?”
xo THURMAN

 0Posted on Jul 18th, 2011 | re: Progress Report: Eric Bachmann (Archers Of Loaf, Crooked Fingers) (4 comments)

Yes, total spellcheck malfunction. I could die a thousand deaths for not spotting that, as Icky Mettle truly is one of my favorite albums of all time. SORRY, FOLKS.

 +2Posted on Mar 17th, 2011 | re: Progress Report: Conor Oberst (17 comments)

Yes, “When The President Talks to God” is a stand-alone single that Bright Eyes released in 2005. I didn’t necessarily mean to imply that it was included on “Wide Awake.”

 0Posted on Nov 18th, 2010 | re: Progress Report: The Feelies (3 comments)

I stand totally–and accurately–corrected. For some reason The Feelies have always felt like a predecessor to those bands, but clearly that is only a reality in my overcluttered brain. Thanks for setting me straight.