• Haim at The Fillmore, San Francisco, April 9, 2014 / Photo by Tom Tomkinson

    Haim Fling Their Hair, Casually Transcend at the Fillmore

  • Damn Right 'It's Album Time': House Whiz Todd Terje Drops a Booty Bomb

    Damn Right 'It's Album Time': House Whiz Todd Terje Drops a Booty Bomb

    For the last decade, Oslo DJ/producer Todd Terje has indulged scholarly fetishes for '60s lounge music, '70s disco/prog/jazz-fusion, '80s TV show themes, and '90s electronica, yet his buoyant output resists the weight of history: The dude rocks a party with rollicking flair. He's got the sensibility to impress serious music heads — his 2012 EP It's the Arps was performed exclusively on vintage ARP synths, the sort favored by '70s jazzbos — yet his sunny mutant grooves remain fundamentally fun.

  • House music godfathers Farley

    Burning Down the House: Read SPIN's 1986 Feature on Chicago's Club Scene

    "Burning Down the House" originally appeared in SPIN's November 1986 issue.To get to Imports Etc. you once had to walk through a garage. Now you just need to know where it is. Located on a side street in Chicago's Printers Row, the city's only record store dealing exclusively in dance music hangs its little yellow sign on a sealed-off garage door. New 12-inch singles share bin space with old Philadelphia soul and obscure Italian imports that sell to collectors for up to $20. Most of Imports Etc.'s customers are DJs. They come here for house music. At C.O.D., a dark, run-down juice bar on Chicago's North Side, DJ Frankie Knuckles spins for a cramped room full of sweaty blacks jacking their bodies in furious sexual pantomime until eight AM. Knuckles drops out everything from a Teddy Pendergrass record except the voice.

  • Pharrell Williams / Photo by Getty Images

    Pharrell Walks on Pop-R&B Sunshine With the Daring, Infectious 'G I R L'

    The son of a schoolteacher, Pharrell Williams loves assignments. How else to explain why one of the most audacious songs attached to his name was crafted for a cartoon?I'm not talking about "Happy," the refreshingly joyous yet slyly sophisticated anthem currently topping the charts, but initially heard in last summer's Despicable Me 2. I mean 2010's "Fun, Fun, Fun," from the first movie. Here's a guy behind countless hits for hip-hop's elite — club bangers both rugged and dexterous, like the arm muscles of triple-cartwheeling gymnasts — and he flips a 180 and crafts a song so giddy that it makes the surf-era Beach Boys sound like sad sacks. It's like mainlining a rainbow.That lighter-than-helium vibe is all over G I R L, the most audacious milestone in the Neptunes/N.E.R.D. icon's already storied career.

  • Broken Bells

    Broken Bells Bark at the Moon on the Nervy, Red-Blooded 'After the Disco'

    Despite their masterfully rendered melancholic psych-pop, similarly wistful sci-fi videos, and respective indie-rock and hip-hop credentials, Broken Bells are ultimately about The Cinema. Shins frontman James Mercer sees himself as a Coen Brothers-style black-comedy anti-hero inevitably upended and emasculated by fate; Gnarls Barkley musician-producer Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton is to pop music what guys like Wes Anderson are to film — an auteur who puts his authorial stamp on every genre he touches, thrilling fans and enraging detractors in equal measure.What they create from this symbiotic union doesn’t exactly fit the Hollywood model for success, even though they've each achieved more than their share. Both got unconventional breaks — Mercer via Zach Braff's gushing Garden State Shins plug; Burton through his ingeniously blasphemous Beatles/Jay Z Grey Album mash-up.

  • Britney Spears Goes Blanker Than Usual on the Nightmarish 'Britney Jean'

    Britney Spears Goes Blanker Than Usual on the Nightmarish 'Britney Jean'

    Early on, I discovered that an inordinate number of fantastic '90s singles by Army of Lovers, E-Type, Ace of Base, Robyn, Backstreet Boys, and 'N Sync all involved this Swedish guy, Max Martin. So when his greatest hit of them all — Britney Spears' "…Baby One More Time" — arrived in 1998, I was more than ready. Primed by the Catholic schoolgirl/minx character that Spears flaunted in the video, I expected the soon-to-be-megastar who’d just turned 17 to explode off the stage when she opened up for 'N Sync right before the release of her first album.Instead, a lost little waif in a baggy orange jumpsuit resembling an inmate's uniform dutifully stumbled through the motions with a face that flashed between utter blankness and barely repressed trauma, foreshadowing her post-fame 2007-2008 meltdown.

  • Blood Orange. Photo by Stacey Mark.

    Blood Orange's 'Cupid Deluxe' Is a Marvel of Sweetly Pained, Outsider-Oriented R&B

    Born in Texas, raised in London, and academy-educated, Devonté Hynes, like all his gay friends, was severely bullied. So in 2004, when some other buds asked the then-18-year-old to join their dance-punk trio, they pointedly called themselves the Test Icicles. Ridiculously noisy U.K.

  • Moby / Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images

    Moby Plays to His Strengths Again (Finally!) on the Surprisingly Soulful 'Innocents'

    A ridiculously easy target for would-be Eminems everywhere, Moby, by virtue of his wild popularity and innate friendliness, long ago became one of those acts — like his kindred civilized buds in Weezer — that somehow became essential for latent and blatant hotheads to bully. His only crimes are either deviating from what he does best or coasting on substandard versions of what he once did far better. But every post-peak musician is guilty of that; Moby's music just gets better media/product placement because it's just so inherently cinematic and, in multiple senses, commercial. He's the John Williams of EDM.Yet just when probably even his accountant had written him off as a has-been hack, Richard Melville Hall has finally created something that approaches the awe-striking beauty of Play, his career-making, ad-campaign-buoying 1999 masterwork.

  • Icona Pop / Photo by Wilson Lee

    Icona Pop (We Love It) and Krewella (We Don't): Two Heroic, Sis-Centric Punk-Pop LPs

    Icona Pop, This Is... Icona Pop (TEN/Big Beat) 7Krewella, Get Wet (Columbia) 3Sisterhood is both pop's secret subject and the engine that powers it. Without that electric collectivity that crackles between young women, there would be no boy bands, no Biebers, no Beatlemania, no riot grrrls, and not much dancing at music festivals, just smelly dudes pushing and puking. Sis-mance also binds girl groups — it willingly burns brightly, but just as easily burns out: Heed the rise and fall of Spice Girls, t.A.T.u., and the Pussycat Dolls to name three of its most exploitative examples.So it's striking that two far more organic manifestations of sis-mance sounds, Icona Pop and Krewella, are hitting simultaneously. Stockholm's Icona Pop started four years ago when Aino Jawo, then experiencing her first breakup, was taken to a party thrown by Caroline Hjelt, then nursing a broken leg.

  • Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos at Lowlands Festival / Photo by Greetsia Tent/WireImage

    Franz Ferdinand's 'Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action' Is a Marvel of Relaxing Tension

    Franz Ferdinand broke with Britpop the same way the Strokes declared war against mook rock. The Glasgow foursome studied art. They dressed up. They sang of sex and struck their guitars like drums, beating out a death knell to everything baggy, undisciplined, and unambitious. All that hooky tension gave them a groove, and by touring nonstop behind their spanking first two albums in 2004 and '05, they wound it tighter than any rhythm-centric rock band since the '70s punks actually learned to play their instruments, give or take a few Hives and Futureheads jams.Unfortunately, things got so tight that they gave themselves no room to move.

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