Charles Aaron



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    Lusty Fun: Scarlett & Pete's New Video

    At her best, Scarlett Johansson drifts through our consciousness like a lusty apparition, or more accurately, like an apparition of lust -- she's barely there, but the shape and pace of her performance unveils a fantasy gateway. As an actress, she gets it, appearing most at ease when she submits to this ghost dance. But as a singer, at least on last year's Anywhere I Lay My Head -- amid the lavishly hazy, 4AD-nostalgic, hipster male gaze of producer Dave Sitek (assisted by other members of TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, etc.) -- that illusion's been disrupted. She's been an apparition, but an uncomfortable, gauche, even intrusive one. Sitek did what Woody Allen did in Scoop -- make ScarJo a random annoying image you'd carelessly kick out your dreams. So now it's shaggy, shades-wearing, L.A. singer-songwriter Pete Yorn's turn.

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    Gathering of the Juggalos: Clowntime Ain't Over!

    This weekend brings us the 10th annual Gathering of the Juggalos, a tragic display of American trash culture's bloated, badly tattooed underbelly, i.e., the festival of relentless depravity celebrating all things Insane Clown Posse.

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    Best & Worst of All Points West: Day 1

    MOST HEAVILY QUESTIONED GENRE: HIP HOPWith the Beastie Boys originally set to headline (before cancelling due to Adam Yauch's cancer-surgery announcement) and Jay-Z stepping in Friday as their replacement, the first afternoon and evening of All Points West 2009 took on a vaguely beats-and-rhymes orientation -- from the eagerly flailing hipster rap of the Knux to the reformed Pharcyde's good-natured '90s-jukebox to the lyrically elaborate "hypnotical gases" released by a reunited Organized Konfusion to Flying Lotus' torrent of perpetually tweaked beats to Q Tip's solo live-band excursions to Peanut Butter Wolf's always witty lessons on past/present/future, and Jay-Hova's thunderous Vegas-with-a-full-clip extravaganza that closed the rather grueling, rain-battered, mud-caked day. But what was strangely notable was how virtually every act (save Flying Lotus and Peanut Butter Wolf) repeated

  • Mos Def / Photo by Jonathan Mannion

    The SPIN Interview: Mos Def

    A product of the Brooklyn projects during the 1980s crack era, Mos Def is a hip-hop lifer, despite his frequent forays into Hollywood. And he's unafraid to call out his peers: "Extended exposure to commercial rap has got to have some sort of negative psychological impact." Dante "Mos Def" Smith walks the walk and talks the talk — literally. This past May, he led me on a four-hour interview ramble around Manhattan's SoHo and West Village, stopping into bodegas and smoke shops, greeting fans, giving hugs and pounds, posing for cellphone photos, like the hip-hop ambassador of some conscious-rap dream sequence. But the Brooklyn-born MC, 35, is a knottier figure than such hail-fellow appearances imply.

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    MGMT -- Live from Brooklyn!

    "This is your anticlimax." So spake a snickering Andrew VanWyngarden, as he prepared to play the final selection of MGMT's set at Brooklyn's Prospect Park Bandshell on Wednesday night, July 1. (See a complete photo gallery of the MGMT show here.)We'd all spent the last five minutes or so hopping and swaying and grinning and giggling and hugging and wondering if we'd hallucinated those fireworks over the trees while VanWyngarden and partner Ben Goldwasser ditched their guitar and keyboards, respectively, grabbed their mics off the stands, and led the sold-out, thousands-strong crowd in a sing-along of "Kids," the 2008 boys-and-girls-of-summer anthem for anybody who ever invoked the word "hipster," ironically or otherwise. They worked the stage like fresh-faced Borgata lounge vets, as the familiar synth melody echoed comfortingly. But now that was over.

  • Izza Kizza, 'The Wizard of Iz' (Decon)

    Since he fizzed up lastyear, co-signed by Missy Elliott and Timbaland, rapping in a buoyant, syncopated whir about Klondike bars and baby back ribs (accompanied by Family Guy–sampling videos), Izza Kizza's provided as much pleasure for measure as any MC hustlin'. His second mix tape, featuring Lil Wayne, David Banner, and others, opens with another boisterous funk strut ("Bump") that has the "black Alice Cooper" gleefully flipping a Fresh Prince flow. Elsewhere, Kizza and producers the Soul Diggaz labor to craft more serious tracks ("Cocaine Dreams") and memorable hooks.

  • Freeland, 'Cope™' (Marine Parade)

    Since the late­ '90s rocktronica Ponzi scheme, name DJs have stepped out, led rock­tinged bands, and induced cringes. Yet, in the laptop/nü­rave "live" era, superstar jocks are fronting even more. Hence, Adam Freeland -- the nü­skool breaks vet who broke through in 2003with "We Want Your Soul" -- dons a suit jacket and hires guns (Brody Dalle, the Pixies' Joey Santiago, Tommy Lee) for the carefully concocted, pleasantly thumping Cope™. "Do You" is Topshopping electro rock and "Only a Fool" gives Jerry Casale a pounding forum for his reheated Devolutionary rhetoric. But "Under Control" is the keeper, a seamless LCD Soundsystem rip that defines the album's approach -- energetically jaded professionalism. Watch: Freeland, "Under Control" Freeland - Under Control - Official Video from Freeland on Vimeo.BUY: iTunesAmazon

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    Mos Def and Talib Kweli Reunite as Black Star

    When are reunion shows not just about a nostalgic dollar day? When the music and message still have the same vibrant snap of relevance that they did before the artist cashed out. And throughout the first of two sold-out shows this past Saturday night at New York's Nokia Theatre Times Square, Mos Def and Talib Kweli's homecoming as the duo Black Star intermittently flickered with that potential to shine anew. It was a sketchy, lengthy prelude to the headliners, however.

  • The Dead Weather: Gang of 4

    The Dead Weather: Gang of 4

    Stuttering slightly, leaning up and back, running a hand through his thick, inky spray of goth-teen hair, Jack White finds himself in an extremely unfamiliar situation -- at a loss for words. Perched on a black couch in the stylish sitting area of his Third Man Records compound in downtown Nashville, the 33-year-old empire-builder grasps to explain why a certain song by his new band, the Dead Weather, expresses a harsh honesty he's never before approached. "It's a climax...of the last few years, of everything, it means so much more, um, I dunno," he says, his words running together. "I don't know whether to cry or laugh out loud when I think about it." Confident, defensive, forceful, evasive, impassioned, standoffish, playful, anxious: An array of conflicting adjectives comes to mind when White holds forth -- but rarely baffled, let alone vulnerable.

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    Bjork, Dirty Projectors Play Benefit Show in NYC

    It was the night of a thousand shooshes. And with good reason. This past Friday's intimate benefit show at Housing Works bookstore in New York's Soho neighborhood was an acoustically nuanced, elaborately voiced performance by the Brooklyn-based indie-rock theoreticians Dirty Projectors featuring pop's most likable experimentalist, Bjork. And everyone -- most of all the patrons who paid $100-$400 a ticket -- wanted to hear every carefully composed strum and croon and otherworldly hocket (listen here). So they shooshed. The unplugged evening -- instigated by writer Brandon Stosuy after he discovered that Björk and Dirty Projectors leader David Longstreth were fans of each other's work -- was divided into three sections.

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Now Playing
  • 1 Tiësto & KSHMR — Secrets " 04:28
  • 2 Mercies — Every Echo " 00:00
  • 3 Jimmy Whispers — Heart Don't Know " 02:32
  • 4 GRiZ — For The Love " 04:41
  • 5 King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard — God Is in the Rhythm " 03:46
  • 6 FlatbushZOMBiES — Did U Ever Think feat. Joey BadA$$ & Issa Gold " 05:02
  • 7 Zuli — Better All the Time " 03:31

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