Everyone has their favorites. That general rule holds true even for critics, with all their high-minded ideas about what art can be and their five-dollar words. Over time, it’s natural that some artists become Great Artists, those who never fail to get critics riled up every time they announce a new release. In the present day, artists such as Kanye West and David Lynch have culled rabidly devoted fanbases that will seemingly praise whatever they put out for the world to see or hear.
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When Kanye West almost grabbed the microphone from Beck at the 2015 Grammys, the audience—to say nothing of the large international audience watching the show—held its breath. Although West didn’t say anything at that time, he did later go on to lambast the Grammys for giving the (ostensibly) coveted Album of the Year award to Beck for Morning Phase over Beyoncé, whose self-titled LP was one of the juggernaut releases of the previous year. West claimed that the Grammys didn’t respect “true artistry”. This leads to the obvious question: have the Grammys, or for that matter any other major awards ceremony, ever used “true artistry” as their main metric? Would it even be possible for them to do so?
The Chicago-based label Air Balloon Tapes has only two compilations to its name, but proceeds for each go to a venue in need. While Compilation #1 supported a Chicago locale, Young Camelot, Compilation #2 is throwing full support behind NYC’s Nola, Darling, the latest in many DIY ventures from scene creator and curator Winston Scarlett. Scarlett, who learned of Air Balloon through a mutual friend, is using this opportunity to also draw attention to some of Brooklyn’s most promising acts and the resulting scene, known as Slackgaze. Contrary to its name, Slackgaze encompasses some of the hardest working bands in the city, and much of it—like the bare bones anti-capitalist garage of Bodega Bay—isn’t exactly shoe gaze. What it is, however, is a good reminder that New York still has bands deserving of spots to play in, Nola, Darling of course being one of them.
Compilation #2 is released on 1 December 2014. A release show, featuring Chimes, Veda Rays, and other artists on the compilation, will be held 14 December at 3pm, at Nola, Darling.
While the world lost a legendary writer and public figure when Maya Angelou passed earlier this May, fortunately many have found creative and heartwarming ways to celebrate her legacy. Perhaps most creative of all is the forthcoming album Caged Bird Songs, an album that pairs Angelou’s spoken word pieces with hip-hop musical backing. Below you can stream “On Aging”, a track where Angelou’s wise musings on getting older are met with a surprisingly well placed slap bass that could have been straight-ripped from a Rick James album.
With the summer nearing its end, people will undoubtedly soon begin making statements on what the song of the summer of 2014 was. While three months offers some degree of hindsight, it pales in comparison to our ability to see which songs defined the summers of decades previous. Fifty years ago, there wasn’t much media attention devoted to what songs ruled the charts during the warmest months, but thanks to the Billboard charts, we can look back and see what they were. So let’s take a listen to the songs of summers in the ‘60s.