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Music

Katie Herzig - "Drug" (video) (Review)

In her latest video, Katie Herzig shows those true humor-soaked colors whilst sporting her true school colors.

Despite the fact that her music is filled with deeply contemplative themes, Katie Herzig has a sneakily humorous side, as well. One view of her “Hey Na Na” video proves that, flat out. But, if further evidence is needed, her latest video for “Drug” should dispel any remaining doubts.

In it, Herzig shows those true humor-soaked colors whilst sporting her true school colors. The piece takes place in a high school gymnasium during a PE class. The “students” are played by Herzig, her bandmates, a few friends, and a handful of dancers. Herzig explains that she had the initial concept and director Joel Kling helped her flesh it out: “It really just started with the idea that I wanted to do a video with my whole band because I've only done them with just me or maybe one other person in it. I think the idea of my drummer Billy [Brimblecom] being a PE teacher teaching us 'students' how to dance was the first idea. It helped knowing I had a band of very talented and hilarious people.”

Indeed they are. The turn is a 180-degree shift from her last, appropriately poignant exploit, “Walk Through Walls”, which was filmed in Mexico amid ancient ruins. That piece, like two previous projects, was helmed by director Shih-Ting Hung who contacted Herzig some years ago through MySpace. Herzig has also partnered with directors Dawson Wells, Jeremy Cowart, and Becky Fluke. But, for “Drug”, she turned to her friend, Joel Kling, with whom she had long been wanting to work. “When I had this idea for 'Drug', he came to mind -- also because he has a wonderful sense of humor and rhythm, and I wanted that to shine through,” Herzig notes.

Though MTV isn't what it used to be, the YouTube age continues to highlight the importance of music videos. For most artists, Herzig among them, it's more than just a promotional tool: “It's an opportunity to continue my childhood, which I spent making music videos on my dad's VHS camera with all the kids in my neighborhood. It just feels like a continuation of that, still feeling tied to that imagination and youth.”

Imagination and youth are both incredibly layered, generally inconsistent experiences. Music can be, too, and Herzig is the first to admit it. “My music has a range -- lots of depth and a serious side -- and then some fun,” she says. “The video I made for 'Walk Through Walls' in Mexico was an adventure and a very moving experience, and this one was like throwing a party. And the humor aspect was important to me, too, so each band member/dancer committing to their characters was my favorite part.”

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Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

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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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Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

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It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

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