Events

Caveman: 17 May 2012 – Brooklyn Museum, New York

Brooklyn Museum program opens doors to new music fans.

As part of the Audiophile series curated by Shirley Braha of MTV’s Hive’s “Weird Vibes", Caveman appeared with NewVillager at the Brooklyn Museum on May 17. Free with museum admission, the concert was held in the Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Pavilion entrance with floor to ceiling windows. This may not have been the kindest set up for acoustics, but the young arty crowd seemed game and a warm welcome was extended by the museum staff -- with a reminder that the galleries would be open all night. Outside, children went by on scooters and played in the grass on this warm balmy night while traffic on the Eastern Parkway passed like a steady stream behind them.

NewVillager opened the show with their take on psychedelic pop on the small stage festooned with tie-dye flags and fabrics. (At one point a mound of fabrics grew upwards, morphing into a puppet member of the band.) The trio’s steel drum synths and jive-talking vocals introduced a world music vibe, yet its quirky meters kept anything from really taking flight.

Caveman took to stage next with night falling and people dressed in party clothes passing by the museum. Singer/frontman Matt Iwanusa said how they were happy to be at the museum, especially since they call Brooklyn home. The quintet confidently launched into their breakout hit off last year's release CoCo Beware, “Thankful”. This allowed an easy groove into the set, which sent things directly into “Decide”. An unnamed new song was introduced as Iwanusa brought out a floor tom to add another layer of percussion. Another new song, “Where’s the Time”, also featured Iwanusa on floor tom after a building introduction with subtle, shimmering guitar by Jimmy Carbonetti. The group allowed an extended version of “Old Friend”, luxuriating in the fuzzy wall of sound breaks and sweet vocal harmonies before a bang out ending. “A Country’s King of Dreams” provided a solid encore with its melodic crooning and percussive layers over a wash of calculated distortion.

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

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From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

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Scholar Judith May Fathallah's work blurs lines between author and ethnographer, fan experiences and genre TV storytelling.

In Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Culture Texts, author Judith May Fathallah investigates the progressive intersections between popular culture and fan studies, expanding scholarly discourse concerning how contemporary blurred lines between texts and audiences result in evolving mediated practices.

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Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

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