Brooklyn band Caveman had a great, if overlooked, year. After putting out a very nice self-titled album (the highlight of which, “Over My Head,” is a must listen), they spent the rest of the year touring, stopping at Sasquatch Festival, where I saw them play an excellent set. Now they’ve just dropped “Empire,” a B-side from the album sessions, which starts fairly gently and gradually builds to a gauzy, beautiful finish. Listen below.
Throughout his three decades with Sonic Youth and as a solo act, Lee Ranaldo has discovered countless ways to wring noise out of his guitar. Fortunately for aspiring avant guitarists in major metro areas, Ranaldo is the sharing type. In October, he hosted a guitar clinic at New York record store Other Music; a second clinic will follow 12/11 at Amoeba Records in San Francisco. The bits captured in a new five-minute video suggest the New York stop was an eye-opening exchange of ideas replete with mallets, effects pedals, voicemail samples, and a Stratocaster hanging from a noose. Ranaldo shows off some of his favorite techniques and answers questions about gear after transforming a solo rendition of his recent “Lecce, Leaving” from a straightforward rocker into a harrowing noise excursion. As he explains near the end, “This was meant to be more of a demonstration than a lesson — a realm of possibilities with the guitar.” If so, Ranaldo seems to have achieved his objective. Watch below.
Somewhere along the line, something went wrong. Things fell out of place, or failed to fall into place to begin with. The general assumption is that Johnny Marr’s set went absurdly long, and that nobody forced Kurt Vile to shorten his in order to get things back on schedule. On subsequent days, photographers and others in and out of the backstage scenes will repeat a rumor that the Walkmen bringing their own sound man along contributed to the issues and the confusion, but no one really knows what that means. Whatever the cause, things don’t go right. Having flown in that morning from their various hometowns — New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York — the Walkmen arrive in Austin on Friday, November 8, for a high-billed set at Fun Fun Fun Fest, and are able to play only six songs.
Random Access Memories, the brilliantly luxe disco album from Daft Punk, is easily the group’s biggest pop success, but they haven’t made too many videos for it. There was “Lose Yourself To Dance” and the Coachella ad for “Get Lucky,” and that was pretty much it. But now they’ve apparently made another one. The album track “Instant Crush” featured a heavily Auto-Tuned Julian Casablancas. And now French TV has aired some footage from the clip, which features Casablancas striking rock poses while a couple of giant wax dolls stare soulfully at each other. Watch a preview below.
Last year, before he dropped the hyphen, I undertook the difficult task of ranking Jay-Z’s albums from best to worst. I had my opinions, and the comments section, by and large, did not agree with them. Neither, it turns out, did Jay. The superstar recently ranked his own albums on his Life + Times website, adding a bit of commentary to it. The results are mostly what you’d expect: Blueprint 3 too high, Vol. 3 too low, Reasonable Doubt right on top. But there’s comfort to be had in knowing that even Jay thinks Kingdom Come was pretty shitty. Below, check out the list, and, as a bonus, check out a remix of the Magna Carta Holy Grail track “Tom Ford” with a posthumous guest verse from the great Pimp C.
Lana Del Rey’s new 27-minute short film Tropico works, more or less, as a glossy but bugged-out extended-length music video, a pretentious but sensationalistic dive into her center-free aesthetic. As directed by music-video veteran fantasist Anthony Mandler, LDR and male model Shaun Ross appear in a few very loosely connected vignettes. In the “Body Electric” segment, they’re in a dreamy Garden Of Eden amidst various icons: Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Jesus. The “Gods & Monsters” part takes place in a fever-dream vision of an L.A. gang-world. And for “Bel Air,” they dance through some idealized vision of the American countryside. The whole time, there’s a lot of zoned-out voice-over, including a bit where LDR recites the famous opening of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl over a strippers-and-guns montage. Be advised that the whole thing is mildly NSFW for stripper-related reasons.
In the recent Louis Vuitton-commercial short film L’Invitation Au Voyage, David Bowie sang a solo-piano version of “I’d Rather Be High,” a song from his comeback album The Next Day, at a Venice costume ball. And on the new deluxe edition of The Next Day, there’s a “Venetian Mix” of the song, which adds a ton of harpsichords to the album version. Now director Tom Hingston has put together a video for that Venetian mix, which combines World War 2-era stock footage with brief, ghostly glimpses of Bowie. Watch it below.
A lot of people have offended Kanye West this year — Jimmy Kimmel, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, and Nike CEO Mark Parker among them — and in turn, Kanye has pissed off a few people, too. You can now add the Anti-Defamation League to that number, thanks to some comments from one of Yeezy’s many recent radio interviews.