OK, I admit it. Dave Grohl is brilliant, although he's too modest to say so. He went from drummer in one of the planet's biggest bands, to guitarist and creative force behind a phenomenally successful power pop group. Tommy Lee tried it and failed, but Grohl has done a masterful job for himself and his quaint four piece outfit. Catchy songs, hilariously artistic videos, and surprisingly impassioned live performances make Grohl and his Foo Fighters a formidable act on today's music scene. On 2 July, Grohl and troupe played the first of two gigs at New York's stately old theater, the Hammerstein Ballroom. Although this was their inaugural visit to the venue, it doesn't much matter where the Foos play, as they pack the house and indulge in a blistering set everywhere they go. Their reputation for putting on raucous shows is eagerly anticipated by fans whenever they stop by for a visit. So what were the faithful treated to this hot summer night? Read on After a solid forty minute opening set by Pete Yorn, the Foos hit the stage at precisely 9:45pm. From the first chord it was a rollicking good time, as Grohl led the way through seventy five minutes of Foo favorites. On the strength of the group's video catalog, most of the fifteen song set list instantly called to mind their video versions on heavy MTV rotation. Not to say that the material doesn't hold up on its own, it certainly does. But Grohl's songs resonate even louder as they are forever linked with their filmed counterparts. The disarming goofiness that Grohl exhibits in interviews and on stage banter sessions belies his passion as a musician. A ceaseless dervish of energy on stage, he led his mates through each song with ferocity and commitment. From the driving "All My Life" to the imploring "My Hero" to the campy fun of "Monkey Wrench", not a bit of energy was wasted. Obviously the Foos' efforts have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated, as the SRO crowd never stopped bouncing for a moment. True to their billing, the Foos do indeed kick ass live. Now going into their eighth year, the Foo Fighters are seasoned veterans of studio and stage. It was interesting to hear them close their set with "This Is A Call", as this was the group's first break out song. Back in 1995 when Grohl formed the band, the bulk of the material came from his supply of home recordings he'd been toiling over for years. Now 1995 seems like a distant era altogether, yet the Foos' sound remains as energetic and fun as it did back then. With Grohl at the helm, it would seem that the Foo Fighters can rule the land as long as they choose to do so. The funny thing is, in another few years many of the group's fans won't even know that Grohl was in Nirvana. That may be prove to be inconsequential if the Foos continue to tour and record with the enthusiasm they currently exhibit. While the word "great" is liberally used in far too many contexts these days, I'll go out on a limb here. Grohl and his Foo Fighters may not have reached the pinnacle of greatest just yet, but they're damn close, and as good as we've got. No Foo-lin'.
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.
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
This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.
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.
Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.
France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.