Demon pop. All I could think watching Blonde Redhead's two hour set at New York's Irving Plaza was that this band must surely be comprised of demons. Or evil elves, or malicious sprites, or some other kind of otherworldly, mischievous creatures. Blonde Redhead's brand of experimental pop music is manic, nervy, ecstatic, and strange. They are a tight three piece, consisting of Kazu Makino and Amedo Pace, both on guitars and vocals, plus Pace's twin brother Simone on drums. This odd collection of nationalities (one Japanese and two Italians) reputedly met in a New York Italian restaurant in the early '90s and has been making quirky, offbeat records since 1993. On stage, their presence was just as unsettling as their music. Makino kept her head bent down over her thick Gibson guitar, hiding her face in a mess of black hair. Her movements were tense and anxious -- she had the air of a possessed automaton as she pounded out the band's signature dissonant, off-time riffs. Amedo Pace complemented her dark mysterious solemnity with a stiff, almost nerdy posture as he contributed his own tinny, tinkly, spider web leads and fills. Drummer Simone Pace sat upright and tall, joyfully pounding out his dragged-out, stuttering beats and gleefully pushing these bizarre pop nightmares to their breaking point. For long jams, Makino and Amedo Pace would crowd around the drum set in a bizarre congress, all three puppeteered by their jerking and jolting pop music like a group of young David Byrnes singing "Once in a Lifetime". If Blonde Redhead's dissonant chords and winding, meandering song structures weren't enough to alienate less adventuresome listeners, Kazu Makio's off-kilter, thoroughly unique vocals put the band in a class of its own. She is an odd, unlikely indie pop star, combining an aloof, aggressive stage presence with a tiny, breathy, heavily accented squeak of a voice. She is also an elusive, elfin thing -- at times, coming off as on her own plane entirely -- while cackling over Blonde Redhead's singular sonic experiments. A case in point: As Amedo Pace's guitar suddenly stopped working during the "Strawberry Fields Forever"-tinged opening to "In Particular", Makino blurted, "His heart must be beating really fast"! Much like Bjork, Makino seems to be from another dimension, sent here to transmit her bizarre and oddly intoxicating pop messages. The band concentrated on material from their latest record, 2000's Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons. On tracks like "In Particular", "Melody of Certain Three", and "Hated because of Great Qualities", Amedo Pace and Makino wove an intricate web of intersecting and conflicting guitar lines, as Simone Pace's staccato, elaborate drum patterns kept Blonde Redhead's wacky pop tracks lively and varied. The band was tight and entertaining, yet curiously detached. They rarely acknowledged the audience, concentrating on their twisted and tormented tunes. The mode, however, was not alienating, but light and airy. The chugging, bouncy "In Particular" best sums up the evening -- after the tracks had meandered and wandered for seven-plus minutes, both guitarists let their instruments drop as they performed a series of gleeful handclaps into their microphones. It was bizarre, funny, cute, endearing, and singularly unique. In short, it embodied what Blonde Redhead are all about.
To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.
Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First CenturyPublisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.
Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.
From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.
Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.
From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.
In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.
As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.
This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.
Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel
Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.
Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.