In my review of Jucifer's recent New York appearance, I remarked that I had found the band's recorded work underwhelming, but their concert stamped out any assumptions I'd previously made about their talent or enthusiasm. The same can be said for the Chargers Street Gang, whose new Get Hip album Holy the Bop Apocalypse (a reference to Ginsberg's Howl that seems a bit out of place with the Chargers' aesthetic) doesn't do justice to the Reichian levels of accumulated energy at the Cleveland group's live show. I'll say the word "Stooges" and shut up on the matter: I can argue 'til I'm gangrenous about the similarities, differences, even about how quickly my legs can carry me after I hear chord number one of any uninspired, unoriginal garage-revivalist set. Regarding said band, maybe they and the Chargers share a few strains of R&B (with a bigger emphasis on the "R" than the "B," but as R&B goes, this is obviously more "blues" than, say, TLC) (but the Stooges were bluesier than this). No, I think my friend's Dead Boys comparison was closer -- but in a refreshingly un-punk way: They've got the sound and the muscle, but it's not like they have to dress up like L.E.S. Stitches and shoot smack to prove anything to their scene, man. The Chargers Street Gang got on stage at Warsaw (as part of a Get Hip showcase including the Rezillos, the Paybacks, and other label-affiliated bands), and within seconds they were leaping to the floor, playing on their backs, knocking one another around good-naturedly -- and everybody was very into it. The music was propulsive, and the band was propelled accordingly. What I love about concerts is that there's so much to pay attention to besides the actual music coming into my ears. The audience reaction is crucial to the success of any rock show -- no matter how professional or polished the artist is. A good audience (not merely a "warmly receptive" one, but one with a pulse, one that will have its collective crank turned by the band or at least be worked up enough to heckle loudly) gives performers something to feed off of. And naturally, the audience needs something back from the band to sustain the feeling of the room. My point here: Holy the Bop Apocalypse does rock, in small doses -- there's not a lot to grip on to -- the songs don't stick with me, and although I remember reading and liking their lyrics, I can't seem to make the aural connection between lyrics and songs. Some bands just aren't record bands -- you need more than that to get the complete picture. The Chargers Street Gang aren't just the music they make -- they're the physicality of bodies making music, and bodies going apeshit dancing to that music. Look me in the eye and tell me you've danced apeshit to the Hives.
The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.
70. The Horrors - "Machine"
On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke
Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.
20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)
Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta
"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.
The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.
The Force, which details the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts, is best viewed as a complimentary work to prior Black Lives Matter documentaries, such 2017's Whose Streets? and The Blood Is at the Doorstep.
Peter Nicks' documentary The Force examines the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts to curb its history of excessive police force and systemic civil rights violations, which have warranted federal government oversight of the Department since 2003. Although it has its imperfections, The Force stands out for its uniquely equitable treatment of law enforcement as a complex organism necessitating difficult incremental changes.
Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.
"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.