Everybody Must Get Scones

(Illustration by Alex Fine) SCORSESE, STARBUCKS AND DYLAN TOGETHER AT LAST! There are two ways to sell out: sooner, and later. Back in ’62 they sure as hell didn’t sell double skinny caramel mochiatto decaf lattes with whipped cream on top at the Gaslight Cafe, the rough-hewn subterranean coffeehouse that served as Mecca for the Greenwich Village folk boom. That little bit of cognitive dissonance will be airbrushed out of the minds of future generations starting next week, when Bob Dylan: Live at the Gaslight 1962 goes on sale exclusively — for 18 months anyway — at Starbucks. I know, […]

Black Thoughts

(Illustration by Alex Fine) WHY THE ROOTS WILL ALWAYS BE PHILLY A friend of mine has a funny I-met-the-Roots-and-made-an-ass-of-myself story. This friend, for obvious reasons, shall remain nameless, but for sheer entertainment value, let’s refer to him hereafter as Horsecock. Around the release of 2002’s wonderfully artsy-fartsy Phrenology, good ol’ Horsecock and his girl went to see the Roots perform at Indre Studios. Joining the Roots for said performance was one Cody ChesnuTT, the dirty South rubber-band man who lent his Smokey Robinson-like pipes to the single “The Seed (2.0).” Later Horsecock and his girl ventured up to an impromptu […]

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Van Morrison Astral Weeks WARNER BROS. My current fave Sunday-morning-coming-down album, Van’s transcendental 1968 masterwork still holds its secrets all these years later. The converted need no further preaching about Astral Weeks, so it’s the uninitiated I’m reaching out to here. First you need to dispense with the image of Van as the largely irrelevant pot-bellied sourpuss we know today. Flash back to Belfast in the mid-’60s: Van is winding down his tenure as blues shouter for Them — a roughneck collective of bruising whiteboy R&B and flame-throwing garage-punk snarl — ready to make the leap from drunk-up wailer to […]

If Six Were Five

(Illustration by Alex Fine) We Got Yer Sixth Borough Right Here! I still think we should’ve gone with “Philadelphia: You Comin’ or What?” instead of “City That Indicts You Back” or whatever it is. But if media-friendly catchphrases really are tourist catnip, we could do a lot worse than being called the sixth borough. Really, some of you protest too much, methinks. Would it really kill you to be so hip it hurts for 15 minutes? You don’t have to believe the hype, but at least enjoy it. Like I tell my celebrity friends: There will come a day when […]

Rockism And Its Discontents

(Illustration by Alex Fine) Hello, my name is Jonathan, and I am a rockist. (This is the part where everyone says “hello” back to me in a warm and welcoming fashion. What, like you’ve never been to an AA meeting?) Actually, I’m not really a rockist anymore; I just play one in this column. For anyone who can’t distinguish a rockist from a sexist or a fascist, let me explain. It’s essentially a neutral term that’s been kicking around rock-snob circles for going on 20 years. As of late it’s been seized by Gen Y happy-asses to kick against the […]

London Falling

(Illustration by Alex Fine) Pete Doherty’s Cracked Music It starts with a bang and ends with a whimper. Structure becomes shrapnel, air becomes fire, people become obituaries. Everyone — even the most candyass of heart, those who dare not think in curse words let alone utter them — reacts the same way: You motherfuckers. When the London Underground came under attack earlier this month by Islamic killbots purchasing four tickets to Allah’s bootycall with a backpack of C-4, I know the first thing you thought and the last thing you’d ever admit: God save the Libertines. There are many here […]

Let It R.I.P.

(Illustration by Alex Fine) GROKSTER TAKES A DIRT NAP Remember Napster? Shawn Fanning’s killer application was like a diamond bullet shot into the blackened heart of the music business, leaving it reeling, and bleeding free music for years. The first reaction of the music biz moguls-men who invariably rely on their tender-aged assistants to send and receive email-was to ignore Napster. Upon realizing somewhat belatedly you could get the Internet on computer nowadays, their second reaction was to kill it-smother it in lawsuits until it asphyxiated in amicus briefs. After kicking Napster to the curb, they sent their goon squad […]

Money Changes Everything

(Illustration by Alex Fine) Meet The New Payola. Same As The Old Payola? Psst. Hey bub. Yeah, you. You wanna know a secret? This is gonna blow your mind: The music business is corrupt. A stinking, rat-infested pirate ship rife with graft, greed, grifting and deceit. Shh. I know, I know. I couldn’t believe it either when I first heard. But don’t tell anyone-especially not Mariah, J. Lo or Audioslave. When the news broke last month that Sony BMG Music Entertainment agreed to pay a $10 million fine and stop buying off DJs if New York state attorney general Eliot […]

File Under: Like Pearls Before Swine

Beulah The Coast Is Never Clear VELOCETTE I recently found this holding up the short leg of my couch and — shazam! — turns out it works pretty good in the CD player, too. Once the little-pony-that-could in the Elephant 6 stable of fun-trick noisemakers, Beulah has grown into a mighty unicorn, employing a similar fuzzed-pop, Brian-Wilson-in-the-basement arrangement strategy as their brethren the Apples in Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel. Released back when the E6 scene didn’t seem quite so played, The Coast Is Never Clear is a toe-tapping glad-bag of ’60s sunshine pop, fun-house mirror psychedelia and kitchen sink […]

Diamond in the Rough

SHINE ON YOU TACKY DIAMOND Let us now praise Rick Rubin, the burly bearded Buddha-man with a Slayer jones and a hard-on for Donovan’s soft underbelly, for he truly is a man for our season. We live in a time where the once vast continuum of recorded music can be instantaneously traversed with the click of a mouse, affording the great unwashed the kind of helicopter-eye overview that was once the sole privilege of record store clerks, promophiliac critics and music-biz poohbahs like Rubin, who have the fuck-you money to buy everything and the limitless leisure time to actually listen […]

These Monkees Gone To Heaven

Discussed: FRANK BLACK FRANCIS Black Francis Demo Spinart NIRVANA With the Lights Out Geffen ELLIOTT SMITH From a Basement on the Hill Dreamworks Okay, everybody who’s not a member of Franz Ferdinand, please raise your hand if you’re bored with the ’80s revival. I see, I see. Thanks, you can put your hands down. Yeah, I knew it wasn’t just me. Still, I have to say that one of my very favorite CDs released this year was recorded in 1987. The first disc is a one-take hootenanny of nearly all the songs that would appear on the Pixies’ Come on […]

Rock Snob Loot

The Wilco Book (PictureBox Inc.) If you’re one of those Being There dead-enders who thinks Wilco has long since crossed the line from artsy to fartsy, you might want to pass on this. But if you quietly applaud Tweedy and co.’s courage to continually tear up the script in the pursuit of creative spontaneity and musical discovery, then this is for you. It’s a handsomely illustrated doodle pad in which band members wax poetic about the art of rock and the building blocks that make it possible, with essays by Rick Moody and Henry Miller and a CD of unreleased […]