Cory Arcangel: The Bruce Springsteen Born to Run Glockenspiel Addendum

With wit and glockenspiel, Brooklyn artist Cory Arcangel finishes The Boss's 1975 classic and creates his own minimalist work of art.

Cory Arcangel

The Bruce Springsteen Born to Run Glockenspiel Addendum

Label: No Label
US Release Date: 2006-03-03
UK Release Date: Unavailable

Arriving in a subtly detourned sleeve, this 33 RPM vinyl release is a minimalist triumph. Cory Arcangel has created an album of glockenspiel parts for all the songs on Born to Run -- the ones that lack them in the original, that is. Listeners can either spend happy hours syncing this album to Springsteen’s original opus, or just listen to it on its own. I chose the latter and was stunned by its sparse counterpoint to the sprawling splendor of its memorable inspiration.

If you’ll recall, the main guitar theme on the track “Born to Run” is doubled by a glockenspiel. The song also has a thrilling moment of anticipation that is broken by Bruce spitting out the line: “1-2-3-4…The highways jam with broken heroes on a last chance power drive…” Somehow, The Bruce Springsteen Born To Run Glockenspiel Addendum inhabits that exact space and uses it as a portal to transport an unsuspecting listener to another realm.

With apologies to John Cage, I must relate that whole tracks on the album are completely blank. However, as Cage knew, there is no such thing as silence, and as the needle moved across the area where the waves of “Thunder Road” usually come crashing in, I found it impossible to prevent remembered lyrics from intruding; the screen door slamming, Mary dancing across the porch, Roy Orbison singing for the lonely... and so on.

I zoned out for several minutes before the striking arrival of the first note on “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”. This produced a shock both visceral and elegant, and made me anticipate the next one. A fleeting notion of humor threatened to betray Arcangel’s intent, but there is a reverent atmosphere in these grooves which will quiet cynical sniggers. Another expanse of blankness followed, until the eventual appearance of extraordinarily sparse tinkling on “Backstreets” (always my favorite track from the original).

Side 2 features more solo shenanigans, as the glacial bone structures of “She’s the One”, "Meeting Across the River”, and “Jungleland” are writ in transfixing, er, glockenspielia. Brooklyn artist Arcangel has previously altered Super Mario games to leave nothing behind except the clouds and created the installation piece I Shot Andy Warhol. His work seems to ask questions about the relationship between culture and technology but, thankfully, is also a lot of fun. Where Bruce learned from Dylan, Orbison, and Spector, Arcangel (unwittingly?) evokes Bryars, Cage, and Satie with a precision and restraint that are strangely moving. Personally, the idea of listening to the efforts of Cory and Bruce in perfect harmony strike me as only a slight improvement on sitting down and syncing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon to The Wizard of Oz, but anyone attempting it should be sure to remember to declare that they have seen the Ghost of the Future of Rock and Roll. If The Boss has a sense of humor, we might expect this homage to become better-known. Just 300 signed copies are available, though, so grab this cult item before it disappears into the darkness on the edge of town.


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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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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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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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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