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Trendspotting: Orchestras Making Indie Rock Noise

by Emily

Kids have been writing loud rock songs with pretty parts since at least the 1960s–Pink Floyd, Genesis and King Crimson all blended rock with classical instrumentation and a dose of psychedelia. Then came bands like Queen–need we discuss “Bohemian Rhapsody?” We needn’t.

Orchestral, cinematic rock has enjoyed a revival in the past few years: Symphonies are opening their doors for all ages shows, Peter Gabriel released a cover album (David Bowie, Bon Iver, Arcade Fire) backed by a full orchestra, The Dodos opened for the Magik*Magik Orchestra. Or is it the other way around? Here we present a few new school orchestras making some noise in the indie rock world.


Trendspotting: Hot in the Tweets

by Emily

No sober, sane record exec would propose a Limp Bizkit/Neil Diamond collaboration, but that’s exactly what happened when Fred and Neil struck up a Twitter friendship. Amanda Palmer crowd-sourced $19,000 from her Twitter followers, as opposed to $0 from releasing an album with a major label. And, finally (strangely, hilariously) Twitter makes it possible for Ice-T to tell Aimee Mann to “eat a hot bowl of dicks!”

We all know the benefits of Twitter for musicians–imperative for promotion, marketing, branding–but it’s also a reflection of how we’ll be interacting–and reacting–in the future. Sure, nothing beats hanging out with someone in person, but such instant access to information and immediate virtual exchanges now have real-life implications. (Can you believe we made it this far without mentioning Justin Bieber?)

UI has watched social networking rise in popularity among our interviewees over the years, but Twitter is hands-down the favorite. Why? Results, baby. Simple, tangible results. Amanda Palmer, Wolfmother, Mayer Hawthorne, Nicole Atkins and Visqueen will tell you so.

Trendspotting: Health is the New Heroin

by Emily

Four quadruple vodkas for breakfast? Popping 60 Valium while going for a swim? Puking in your sleep after a night out on the town? The stuff of legend, and now, perhaps, the past.

Gone are the days when rock stars blatantly bragged about their drug use, nodded off during shows and interviews or recalled crazy, drug-fueled adventures (and misadventures) with public nonchalance. Sure, people will always pop pills, get plastered and a whole lot more, but clearly, excess is out.

Whether the decision to go straight is a result of economics, close calls or the knowledge that some drugs are flat out dangerous, the once-hedonistic rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle is slowly cleaning up its act. Courtney Love, Julian Casablancas, Joe Perry, Ozzy Osbourne and more have all reportedly gone on the wagon in recent years.


Trendspotting: SXSW Resurrects the ’90s

by Emily

Doc Martens. Swingin’ Utters t-shirts. Plaid pants. Hole and Stone Temple Pilots. The ’90s are back, dude, and the genre eclipsed new bands at SXSW.

Former Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur was all over SXSW promoting her new multi-disciplinary Out of Our Minds, a solo record, comic and concept film. We sat down with the talented Canadian long before SXSW, who told us all about the new album, along with some smart thoughts on artistic grants, sustainable farming and the American political system.

Melissa opened for Motörhead, hosted a pre-release album/absinthe party, signed autographs and more at SXSW. Read more about her experience in Time Out New York.

Hole–arguably (and we know you want to argue) one of SXSW’s biggest attractions–played a most publicized SPIN day party at Stubb’s. The band, sporting Courtney Love with an all-new lineup, played songs as early as “Pretty on the Inside” from their 1991 debut. “Miss World” and “Malibu” also made the cut.

Of course everyone was really there to see whether the singer would melt or explode into a pool of self-destruction right in front of everyone’s eyes, but she stuck to the script while delivering her famous onstage banter (Bret Michaels and Trent Reznor were reportedly sore subjects). Hole will be playing in New York and Los Angeles next month in support of the upcoming album, Nobody’s Daughter.

And let’s not forget shows from Stone Temple Pilots and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore. Beyond SXSW, the 90s still have a strong foothold in today’s music, though the landscape is drastically different from what it was a decade ago. Peep inspiration from some of our current favorites.

Project Jenny Project Jan declare the return of the 90s, as evidenced by the almighty crowd surf.

Frightened Rabbit are really feeling Destiny’s Child. Can you pay their bills?

Miniature Tigers give and receive a pretty cool gift–the Kurt Cobain-designed Jag-Stang.

Trendspotting: The Boss, The Situation and The Best Jersey Bands

by Emily

There’s only one place that boasts both The Boss and The Situation. That’s right–with Bruce Springsteen taking on Ticketmaster and the cast of the “Jersey Shore” taking on tans, hair spray and dance floors, it’s clear that New Jersey is taking over.

While the Garden State enjoys its time in the spotlight, our job is to hip you to local bands making moves. We’ve already talked to dozens of Jersey musicians on the rise, including Titus Andronicus, Vivian Girls, The Feelies and Jessie Baylin. We’ve scouted dozens more, including Real Estate, Screaming Females, The Black Hollies, Gaslight Anthem, Sharon Van Etten and Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea (though Nicole recently skipped town for Brooklyn).

And one may be surprised at the state’s long history of doling out great music. Frank Sinatra is a local boy, as is Dizzy Gillespie. The Misfits and Tom Verlaine of Television were both bred in Jerz, not to mention The Fugees and Naughty By Nature.

But onto the new–and there are plenty of opportunities to catch them live.

Hear Titus Andronicus dish on the state’s arguably most famous export.

And The Feelies on the NJ scene back in the day.

Plus Jessie Baylin shows some hometown love.

Girls, Girls, Girls

by Emily

Bye, bye beard-rock. The indie scene isn’t the boys club it used to be, thanks to an influx of new female talent spanning from over-the-top pop divas to whimsical crooners. Or, as Telepathe so succinctly suggested when they visited our studio last year, the era of “cavemen making noise music” is a thing of the distant past.

Indeed, Telepathe were on to something, or rather, they were part of something. In 2009 alone, we saw releases from Florence and the Machine, Neko Case, Fever Ray, Bat for Lashes, Micachu & The Shapes, Dirty Projectors, Sleigh Bells, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The xx, Elizabeth & The Catapult, Screaming Females, Kaki King, Dum Dum Girls, Ke$ha. Women play equal–if not lead–roles in some of the most popular bands.

And who can escape Lady GaGa, Beyonce and Susan Boyle? Pitchfork said of Ms. GaGa “all of a sudden, for a brief time at least, she’s the only real pop star around.” Pixie Lott, Lily Allen and La Roux all continue to make waves across the pond, and damn if Sade herself isn’t back with a brand new full-length out this year.

No matter your taste in divas, women are topping the charts, and here’s to hoping they inspire a new breed to do the same.

Telepathe get the caveman blues.

Let’s step it up, ladies. The name she’s trying to think of could be yours or mine.

“Diva” ain’t a bad word.

Something Old, Something New: A 2010 Preview

by Emily

How do you rate the last decade of music? Think it will stand up to the next? Catching up on full albums you missed the first time, finally giving attention to bands dismissed as hype, discovering new old gems and judging the music tastes of your peers (he likes what?) is a time-consuming, yet noble pursuit.

But you’ve spent enough time pouring over “Best of 2009″ lists. It’s time to look ahead into the next decade of music, and we’re hoping this one is filled with bangin’ beats, badass bands and groundbreaking talent. Here’s a preview of what’s shaking in 2010.

1. The Strokes
Enough of the side projects, dudes. The foursome is expected to release their fourth full-length in early 2010, their first record in four years. See a pattern here? The band is also scheduled to headline The Isle Of Wight festival, as well as Scotland’s RockNess fest. Here’s to hoping they do a North American tour in support of the new record.

2. Pavement
Yes, they’re embarking on a world tour. No, don’t get any big ideas. Matador has made it very clear: “Please be advised this tour is not a prelude to additional jaunts and/or a permanent reunion.” Whatever, they’re totally fulfilling long-held daydreams either way.

3. Belle & Sebastian
Sure, their website hints at a new album, but the iPhone app confirms it. Sort of. twentyten is a calendar to help fans keep up with everything the Scottish band is up to in 2010. Calendar = shows = album.

4. David Byrne and Fatboy Slim
What do you get when you cross a Talking Head, a Fatboy and artists like Florence Welch, Sharon Jones, Nellie McKay, Róisín Murphy, Tori Amos, Santigold, Sia, Theresa Andersson and a few more? We have no idea, but we bet it’s big. Out February 23 via Todomundo/Nonesuch.

5. Radiohead
Though singer Thom Yorke has declared Radiohead won’t be recording any more full-lengths, preferring instead to drop EPs and single mp3s, the band is heading into the studio beginning in January. Maybe a little spoken word on climate change? We’re guessing Radiohead fans would dig it.

6. Dr. Dre
The much-hyped, much-delayed album is reportedly slated for a 2010 release, with a second Up in Smoke tour to follow. Detox–said to be Dre‘s last solo album–has been in the works for a decade. When tracks leaked earlier this year, it became obvious that only top notch talent would make the cut. Guest appearance rumors include Jay-Z, R. Kelly, Lil Wayne and more.

7. Sufjan Stevens
He’s abandoned that little project, but you have to admire the man’s ambition (and a Test Icicle aiming for something similar). Now that he’s taken the pressure off of himself to write and record around the clock, it seems he’s been able to do just that. Forthcoming album sometime in 2010.

8. LCD Soundsystem
See? Here’s a man who hates “best of” lists. He’s spent all his free time working instead, and the result is a new LCD Soundsystem record, out next spring. He’s also confirmed to play Spain’s Sonar Fest next summer.

9. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Cult favorites Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are set to release their sixth album, Beat the Devil’s Tattoo, in March. They–along with several other UI interviewees–appeared on the “New Moon” soundtrack, surely expanding their audience. New fans and old will be able to catch them live as part of a massive North American and European tour starting late February.

10. T.I.
The rubber band man is scheduled to be released from the pen in March after serving a year and a day for federal weapons charges, and our guess is he’s been doing some writing in there. T.I. scored a string of hits from his last full-length, Paper Trail, on top of four Grammy nominations.

Other notables/rumors/hopefuls: Spoon, Beach House, Ted Leo, Magnetic Fields, Laura Veirs, Courtney Love, The National and many more.


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