If you haven’t been keeping up with Beck’s online-only “Record Club” enterprise, here’s a quick recap: Teaming up with indie luminaries, Beck has created one-day one-off projects covering entire albums, then releasing the studio sessions one track per week via Vimeo clips. The first few efforts gave at least a little insight into his influences, since you’d expect anyone of Beck’s lineage to play such classics as The Velvet Underground and Nico and The Songs of Leonard Cohen with proper reverence. The Record Club just wrapped up a rendering of INXS’s Kick, which might’ve seemed kitschy if not for the real effort put into it by the likes of St. Vincent’s Annie Clark, Liars, and Os Mutantes; check out the surprisingly tender version of “Never Tear Us Apart”.
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Back in 1981, tonal guitarist Glenn Branca released a droning, no wave masterpiece called The Ascension. Four electric guitars took the lead on five instrumentals while bass and drums bashed out mechanically precise rhythms. Branca’s reputation and compositions grew, as did the criticisms held against him. John Cage openly disparaged his style and approach while Branca himself turned to large electric guitar symphonies. If you want to get a good argument going, debate on whether or not Thurston Moore and Sonic Youth would’ve had a career had it not been for an album like The Ascension.
So, why is it that, in 2010, when Glenn Branca assembles another four guitar, bass and drum ensemble to record a sequel to The Ascension, hardly anyone says anything? The album is straightforwardly enough called The Ascension: The Sequel, and it seemed to drop with almost no fanfare at all. A small amount of fans are offering their opinions at rateyourmusic.com here, but professional reviews are absent. It’s puzzling, considering some would look at this event the same way a film buff would look at The Godfather, Part II.
Birmingham, England’s Deluka brought their energetic pop to US shores last year with a five-song EP and they are coming back in a big way this fall with their debut full-length album. Deluka has had a lot of early success, placing a tune in a Rockstar Games video game (“Sleep Is Impossible”) and getting remixes of “Cascade” on Spinner and RCRD LBL!.
Today we’re premiering a new track, “Nevada”, from the upcoming album and also offering a few past highlights as well. “Nevada” is a slice of glittery, electro pop and sounds like a future club hit in the making. The NME has had the best description of the band so far, labeling them as “girl-charged electro-skuzz punk, akin to Ladytron snacking on The Killers for brunch”.
When considering past Fourth of Julys, the tune that usually brings a star-spangled tear to my eye is Neil Diamond’s “America”. Something about this clip, framed in a tasteless, red, white, and blue banner, showcases Diamond’s whipped-back mane and shredded voice befittingly. The video encapsulates what I loved about my parents’ Fourth-of-July barbecues as a kid. A group of adults could usually be found in the backyard donning similar hairdos, smoking endless cigarettes between highballs and hotdogs. After enough drinks the adults would frequently wind up dancing on the lawn like the middle-aged women in the audience of this clip, lacking rhythm, but full of American spirit.
Tributes on music award shows don’t always do the artist justice or give the fans a show to remember, but Prince’s tribute last Sunday at the BET Awards was one of the best tributes I’ve seen in a long, long time. It’s been almost a week and I still can’t forget how much fun it was to watch Prince watch other artists sing, reinterpret and celebrate his songs in fine fashion. There were many reason the tribute was so good, but for me the main reason the Prince tribute was a classic award show moment was because it gave us a glimpse into how Prince might of responded as a fan at some of his favorite concerts.
As the medley of songs unfolded, it was like we were watching Prince voyage back to the moment when he first went through his own fan-to-artist live concert transformation. Rarely do we get to see artists respond like this at a live show, let along their own music being celebrated by other artists. I can’t remember seeing an artist be so moved at an award show like Prince was as he sat in the front row bobbing his head, grinning with pleasure and feeling the groove. And what I love the most was having the chance to see Prince get jazzed emotionally and then physically respond as he watched other artists, who he has inspired, re-inspired him all over again. I still don’t know what was better, watching Prince’s reactions or watching the other artist’s performance themselves.
Either way, it was an excellent live music moment, and it all climaxed when Patti LaBelle flung her shoe and Prince caught it during finale of “Purple Rain”. These moments are few and far between during award show tributes. And like Lady’s Gaga’s performance at the 2009 AMA’s, I definitely have a bit more faith in the ability of award shows to deliver the goods for fans at home and the artist watching in the seats.
If you missed the BET award show you can see the whole Prince Tribute on the BET website.