Charles Aaron

writer

Biography

  • The Art of Hustle: Pounding the Pavement With Uncrowned, Rock's Hungriest Unsigned Band

    The Art of Hustle: Pounding the Pavement With Uncrowned, Rock's Hungriest Unsigned Band

    If you were to imagine the soundtrack for the death of the record industry, you couldn't do better than an acoustic version of "Iko Iko" played by a graying white man in a Hawaiian shirt and khaki cargo shorts standing in the bar-lounge of the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, Texas, on Friday night of this year's South by Southwest music festival. Back in the go-go '90s, this was schmooze central, where every wannabe player clocked SXSW time. Now, with sales tanking, labels consolidating, and staffs liquidating, it's a comparative dead zone. Retired couples box-step by the fireplace while a handful of industry grunts soldier on, draining the last $13 martini out of their soon-to-dry-up expense accounts. "I'd rather drag my penis through ten miles of gravel than be here," says Stephen Bazzell, lead singer of the unsigned Atlanta modern-rock band Uncrowned.

  • Hole Rock Cleveland: Read SPIN's Somewhat Dismayed 1994 Live Review

    Hole Rock Cleveland: Read SPIN's Somewhat Dismayed 1994 Live Review

    Pale arms outstretched, offering herself up for crucifixion, or a pie in the face, or a big hug, Courtney Love exclaimed, "Fuck with me, fuck with me. It's the only thing I like!" The audience members, who had been standing in a snaking, endless line with visions of Trent moshing in their dyed-black dread heads, murmured. A few hoots. A desultory heckle. We were only three songs into Hole's fist American show since the suicide of Love's husband, Kurt Cobain, and since the heroin overdose of bassist Kristen Pfaff; the band's first gig as opening act for Nine Inch Nails' sold-out, post-Woodstock tour, and already the ride was getting bumpy.Nobody wanted to play Love's co-dependent game of "I'm rubber, you're glue, fuck you." The few Hole fans — high-school girls huddled together to the right of the mosh pit—were simply awestruck.

  • Aceyalone's 'All Balls Don't Bounce'

    Aceyalone's 'All Balls Don't Bounce': Read SPIN's 1995 Review

    Sure, hip-hop is powerful stuff, capable of a mystical arm-twist or two, if the beats and rhymes and identities are properly aligned. But so is soca and opera and that infernal "Thank you for coming to Loews" theme I hear every time I stumble into a multiplex. Potentially, any of this music could inspire any one of us to gun down a state trooper on a Texas highway. But it could also inspire us to teach underprivileged youth to fashion potholders out of carpet remnants. Or vote Bob Dole out of public "service." What gets lost in the bewildering censorship shuffle is that music — yes, even hip-hop — can still change our lives for the better like no designer drug, 12-step cult, or political frat party can.My personal exhibit A for the past couple of years has been "Cornbread," from Freestyle Fellowship's influential but commercially invisible 1993 album Inner City Griots.

  • Charles Aaron's 25 Best Albums of 2013

    Charles Aaron's 25 Best Albums of 2013

    To finish out the year, we'll be offering the top 25 albums from various SPIN staffers. Today, Editor-at-Large Charles Aaron (transmitting live from Durham, N.C.).In the Year Fuckery Broke in pop music, there was grotesque desperation galore. (Even hot flicks like American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street basically wallowed in the sordid FTW kicks of depraved hucksterism.) Still, there was also plenty of beauty, wit, intrigue, and majesty to be found. And if my fellow entertainment-media blowhards were honest with themselves, they'd admit that, for the first time in ages, music was actually more interesting and compelling than TV (oh, God forbid!). So let's celebrate by not talking about DIY plantation-folkie Ani DiFranco ever again and cranking "***Flawless" while we get low with our partially employed asses.Charles Aaron's 25 Best Albums of 20131.

  • Mike WiLL Made It

    Mike WiLL Made It Is Our 2013 Artist of the Year

    The most heavily bleeped radio hit of 2013 was, without a doubt, Lil Wayne's "Love Me," featuring Future and Drake, and produced by Mike WiLL Made It. To wit: There are eight bleeps before the first verse! And that first verse, courtesy of Weezy, starts with three bleeped words in a row! When all's said and bleeped, there are, by my count, 65 bleeps total! Still, none of that is even remotely distracting. When I crank up "Love Me" in my janky '88 Mazda, Mike WiLL's all-encompassing, from-the-window-to-the-wall, soothing-yet-treacherous production transforms the car's spare, gray interior into a lush, kush-clouded, crushed-velvet-banquette VIP, where a crepuscular whorl of lurid justifications is already in progress.

  • Lou Reed

    Lou Reed, R.I.P.: Hear His Legacy in 15 Tracks

    Lou Reed, whether in the Velvet Underground or solo, inspired entire genres – glam, art rock, punk, industrial, grunge, shoegaze, goth, indie rock – so to try and boil down 50-plus years of his work into 15 tracks is more perverse than that one song where he gets pissed off at a fictional Laurie Anderson for finding a bobby pin of some other woman he fucked in their bed, which is just the most perversely stunning move ever. How can I not include "Vicious," for instance, you may ask? Ask me tomorrow and I'll explain in detail why it was idiotic to leave it out, so go ahead, hit me with a flower. With Reed, it's not just that we all have our favorites, it's that we're all totally bewildered by his discography.

  • Sleigh Bells / Photo by Jason Kempin

    Sleigh Bells' 'Bitter Rivals' Delivers Candy-Coated Annihilation You Can Believe In

    Sleigh Bells are fight-pop for grown-ups. Left jab. Snap back your head. Shifty footwork. Right cross to your dread. Shower. Dress. Grind.Sure, the duo's first two albums of Double-Dutch noisegasms have bewitched some geeked young Tumblristas or @rookiemag exceptional children, uber-goobers who fantasize about joining frontsiren Alexis Krauss' teen-girl-gang and stylishly shanking, say, the entire cast of Spring Breakers; or one-boy-band first-person-shooters who envisage artfully slapstick bloodbaths via Derek E. Miller's pocket-rocket guitar-annihilation mixology. God bless youthful imagination.But Bitter Rivals is not about serotonin-gushing wake-up brawls or romantic rollercoasters beset by mixed-metaphorical wrecking balls.

  • Hopscotch 2013: The 10 Best Things We Saw

    Hopscotch 2013: The 10 Best Things We Saw

    "Downtown revitalization" means different things to different people. For some, it's condo lofts in old tobacco factories, locally sourced pizza, and densely luscious croissants; for others, it's performing-arts megaplexes, mixed-use structures, and scenic riverwalks. But one thing it always means is inducing drunk-ass young fools to part with their disposable income by stumbling from restaurant to pub to club, staying up all night to get lucky (while possibly listening to music). Which is why the Hopscotch Music Festival has been such a welcome presence for downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, since its 2010 inception.But surprisingly, due to its impressive artistic ambitions, the three-day sprawl has also become one of the country's most enjoyable musical geek-outs.

  • Bob Stinson in Minneapolis, 1993

    Hold My Life: Bob Stinson's Regrets

    This story was originally published in the June 1993 issue of SPIN magazine Sitting on a fallen tree on a small island in the middle of a frozen Minneapolis lake, Bob Stinson is a shaky defense for the rock life-style. Heineken propped up in the snow, thrift-store suit jacket pulled tight against the ten-degree cold, he blows his nose into the wind, belches, and shivers. An unrepentant alcoholic for ten-plus years, Bob insisted that we buy a six-pack and do the interview out here, near where the speedboats race in the summer. "It's completely untouched by screw-ups," he marvels, blood-shot blue eyes squinting into a bright midday sky.Still best known as an ex-Replacements guitarist more than six years after being fired from the band he started in his mom's house, Bob is harshly defined by the past.

  • The 40 Best Songs of 2013 So Far

    The 40 Best Songs of 2013 So Far

    On a macro pop level, 2013 has been the year of the multi-platform, trickily cultivated, pseudo-culture-jamming marketing roll-out campaign/pageant — first Daft Punk, then Kanye West. But on a micro level, there are the songs, and whether they're monoculture water-cooler chatter or not, we don't really care. Life is brutish and short, and we just ran out of our meds. Let's detonate this juice bar! CHARLES AARON

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