Charles Aaron

writer

Biography

  • Courtney Love, 'America's Sweetheart' (Virgin)

    Courtney Love is no healer -- of herself or anyone else. And that's why, despite the nose job, boob lift, designer gowns, and kissy-poo swanning down red carpets, she's no pop star. She's incapable of telling us that everything's gonna be all right. But when it comes to testifying to how everything's totally, unbearably, exhilaratingly fucked-up beyond despair, she has few peers. And that's why she's a rock star. But Love hasn't shown much interest in her best role during the past several years. She has pursued celebrity via supporting gigs in tepid films (Man on the Moon, 200 Cigarettes,Trapped) and by cavorting like a Banger sister with Winona Ryder, et al. There's the tawdry legal battle over her late husband's legacy. The public spitting match with producer/ex-boyfriend Jim Barber.

  • 20 Best Singles of the Year

    1. 50 CENT"In Da Club" (Shady/Interscope) Since we'reall gonna get shot or suicide-bombed anyway, let's throw africkin' birthday party! With pole dancing, Ecstasy, andKevlar! Fiddy should pray five times a day to the West (a.k.a. Dr.Dre) for blessing him with a beat so irresistibly sultry. 2. EMINEM"Lose Yourself" (Shady/Interscope) Screw the corny Aerosmithsample on "Sing for the Moment" -- this tinkly, guitar-driven epic isEm's defining yes-you-can power ballad. So packed with anticipationyou're on the edge of your seat for a half-dozen bars just to hear himfinish the damn "Mekhi Phifer" rhyme. 3. THE WHITE STRIPES"Seven Nation Army" (V2) Scowling as he falls down thecelebrity rabbit hole, Jack White knocks off a tawdry guitar solo, thenthreatens to move to Wichita. The day is saved by the year's best bassline (that Timbaland had nothing to do with). 4.

  • Revival of the Year: Women Rock the Main Stage

    "I should bang her and put her out of her misery." Youcould say it was just another morning on Howard Stern's radio show. Thehost was petulantly aroused, and the object of his disaffection was,ahem, a woman. In this case, Amy Lee, lead singer of Evanescence, themost successful new rock act of 2003 and the year's only female-ledrock band to have an album go platinum, or even gold (Fallen has sold almost three million copies). Stern had just seen Lee perform on the Teen Choice Awardsbroadcast and was disappointed -- but not by her singing. He railedthat she didn't look anything like her photos or as she did in theband's video for their goth-rap-metal hit, "Bring Me to Life." Duringthe TV show, she'd worn layers of dark clothes, and Stern was appalled.How dare she hide her body?

  • Nappy Roots, 'Wooden Leather' (Atlantic)

    Near the midpoint of this follow-up to Nappy Roots' 2002 surprise hit, Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz, the group's B. Stille drawls perhaps the most outlandish pop-music statement of 2003. Over a doleful, Geto Boyish funk stroll--scruffy snare, bluesy guitar, piano, flute--he proclaims:"Even when I'm rich / I'ma pretend to be poor." Jigga what? It's a perverse throwdown, breaking even Eminem's chutzpah meter, especially since today's pinnacle of rap cred is a millionaire, faux-pimp, ex-crack dealer who brags about being shot seven times (consider the utter pathos of that). The track, "Work in Progress," could be read as bohemian slumming--the Kentucky-based Nappys are hip, thriving college alums (Bowling Green, represent!)--but the song has a palpably volatile, don't-test-me edge.

  • The Locust, 'Plague Soundscapes' (Anti-)

    There are a handful of legendary groups--the Ramones, the Velvet Underground-who never sold mega-millions of records, but who famously inspired an unusually huge number of kids to start their own bands. The elemental ferocity of songs like "Teenage Lobotomy" and "Sister Ray" seemed to scream out,"See? It's easy to be awesomely original! Do it yourself!" Of course, it's never that simple.

  • Sebadoh / Photo by Danny Clinch

    License to Confuse

    Early on, boys learn that to grow up you have to shut down. The message is loud and clear: Repress yourself, don't express yourself, to pervert a Madonna lyric. It's even been said that guys don't remember their dreams because those dreams are usually so lousy with sublimated sexual tension.

  • Beasties at the beach / Photo by Josh Cheuse

    Beastie Boys: Boychiks in the Hoodie

    One day after flying from New York to Los Angeles to meet the Beastie Boys, I watched helplessly as the three still-hyper goofballs hopped a plane back home to New York, for no good reason, except that, as 28-year-old Michael "Mike D" Diamond quipped, "I like to front, you know, like I'm jet-settin'." Sometimes you've got to grit and grin. Bicoastal interview fiascos aside, it's hard to play Crabby Appleton around the Beasties. They're so sincerely full of it that you actually start to miss their charade when they're not around. And they did seem homesick. "See, it's like we're not really here," says Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz, 27, earnestly explaining the group's ur-L.A. dilemma. "It's still up in the air. Of course, I've felt like I was up in the air since, like, 1982. "It's cool sometimes.

  • The Breeders / Photo by Frank Ockenfels

    Ordinary People: The Breeders on the Bus and Back Home

    A blanket of cigarette smoke spreads across the claustrophobic back room of the Breeders' 12-bunk, 15-person tour bus. The four band members slump in different corners—tired, a touch cranky, long since ready to get home for the holidays. And with little patience for overanalytical questions about the codependent inner child of today's budding rock stars. "Oh, c'mon, get over it!" snaps singer-guitarist-songwriter Kim Deal, 32, ex-bassist and coolest member of the Pixies, when I suggest that alternative rock now serves as a group therapy session for kids who fancy themselves misunderstood (which isn't necessarily a bad thing, just kinda boring).

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