Jonathan Zwickel

  • Millennial Tension: FKA Twigs Arrives With the Menacing, Incandescent 'LP1'

    Millennial Tension: FKA Twigs Arrives With the Menacing, Incandescent 'LP1'

    The FKA Twigs takeover began this time last year—August 1, specifically—when the "Water Me" video began trickling across the web. It featured a young woman in extreme close-up against a sickly green backdrop, head tick-tocking like a metronome to a broken beat, eyes blown up manga-size, singing directly into the camera as a single, insectoid tear trails her cheek. With a title that was poetic and sexually suggestive, lyrics about romance in abeyance, a vocal delicate and sure, and production shared by Twigs and Arca, Kanye's conspirator during the making of Yeezus, the leftfield clip was high drama engineered for a mobile-web audience, which was baited, hooked and landed in three minutes, 23 seconds.In hindsight, FKA Twigs—born Tahliah Barnett in Gloucester, England, 26 years ago—could've seeped into popular consciousness any number of ways.

  • Metal Champs Mastodon Defend Their Crown on 'Once More 'Round the Sun'

    Metal Champs Mastodon Defend Their Crown on 'Once More 'Round the Sun'

    Album after album, Mastodon set the pace for modern heavy metal. They took pole position fresh out of Atlanta some 14 years ago, and with album number six, Once More 'Round the Sun, show no signs of giving it up. Theirs is one of the longest-running musical dynasties of the new millennium. Definitely the loudest.Heavy music is typically a battlefield upon which the uninitiated dare not tread, but Mastodon unify the tribes. Their brand of aggression is brainy, technically dazzling and slightly hallucinogenic — metal for people who don't listen to metal.

  • Old Man White Slathers Reasonably Rockin' 'Lazaretto' in Bummer Vibes

    Old Man White Slathers Reasonably Rockin' 'Lazaretto' in Bummer Vibes

    So Jack White's an asshole. So what — as long as the music's good? The man matches a torrid history of well-documented dickhead behavior with a string of meticulously reckless blues-rock albums and towering live performances. One intra-band feud after another (first that guy from that band he pounded in a Detroit bar 10 years ago; lately second-gen sound-alikes the Black Keys), bandmates hired and ditched (including an erstwhile wife), disdain for the entire canon of music made after 1970-something… We forgive every trespass in the face of a face-shredding solo.And White's delivered. More so than any modern musician, White balances the insane chops of a world-class virtuoso with unassailable good taste. He picks the right players, the right projects, the right gear, the right look.

  • Chromeo's Sappy Soul-Pop Comes of Age on 'White Women'

    Chromeo's Sappy Soul-Pop Comes of Age on 'White Women'

    At the beginning, Chromeo had to be a joke. An over-styled, overly self-aware Arab-Jew duo signed to Vice Records cribbing Hall & Oates' synth-pop playbook with tongue in talkboxed cheek—the whole thing was more sit-com setup than bona-fide band. During their first US tour, Dave 1 and P Thug regularly ridiculed adoring audiences, as if sincere affection wasn't part of the gag. This was the early '00s, the height of the War on Terror and Irony as Art.Maybe it was too hostile a time for a band so naked in its goofball nostalgia. Ten years later, with the arrival of White Women, Chromeo are signed to Atlantic, sell out big rooms around the world and headline major festivals above younger neo-retro acts with punny names. Mainstream alt radio cruises the '80s-baiting roller rink, spinning hit after dance-pop hit.

  • Gather 'Round the Fire, Woods Win Hearts 'With Light and Love'

    Gather 'Round the Fire, Woods Win Hearts 'With Light and Love'

    The Woodsist cult comprises an eponymous record label based in upstate New York, an annual outdoor music festival in Big Sur, and, at the center of this inconspicuous constellation, a sanguine little psych-rock band called Woods. For almost a decade, bandleader Jeremy Earl has attracted a flock of feral seekers and kindred spirits—some of Earl's early releases on Woodsist were by Kurt Vile, Thee Oh Sees and Vivian Girls—drawn to his homespun, sylvan aesthetic, most vividly espoused by Woods over seven self-released albums.Like the rest, album number eight plays like an introvert's manifesto, music made with humble means and consciousness-shifting intentions. With Light and With Love sounds bigger, though, more accessible, conceived with an ear toward top-down, tear-out-of-town FM anthems of summers past.

  • Lollapaloooza 1.0 hits Stanhope, NJ on August 14, 1991 / Photo by Ebet Roberts

    An Oral History of the First Lollapalooza

    In 1991, Jane's Addiction's attempt at a farewell-tour extravaganza accidentally defined a generation and changed the music industry. Seven or eight bands in 20 cities sounds paltry compared to the 100-plus that will play Lollapalooza in Chicago this August, but ask anyone involved in that inaugural year: There was more at stake. In August of 1990, Jane's Addiction released their second studio album, Ritual de lo Habitual. Within a year, the album sold more than one million copies. But there was one big problem. MARC GEIGER (booking agent): Jane's was going into a tailspin because they were really not getting along. TED GARDNER (manager, Jane's Addiction): We were coheadlining the Reading Festival that year, and there was this crazy little bunker in London we played the night before. GEIGER: A warm-up show at a tiny, 200-seat club.

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    Indie Supergroup Wild Flag Debut in Olympia

    "We are Wild Flag. We've never played a show outside our practice space so thanks for coming to this one." Those were Carrie Brownstein's first words at the first show for her new supergroup, featuring 90s indie icons Mary Timony of Helium, the Minders' Rebecca Cole, and Brownstein's Sleater-Kinney bandmate Janet Weiss. The location? Olympia, Washington, the city where many of the era's finest riot grrrl bands formed. As Brownstein noted, "I'm pretty sure 90 percent of my bands played their first show in Olympia.

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    10 Best Moments of Seattle's Bumbershoot Fest

    This weekend's Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival is defined as much by what it isn't as what it is. It's not an indie rock fest, it's not a destination fest. Set in the heart of Seattle, it's easily accessed by foot or bus, making it a magnet for families and assorted city freaks, and its lineup is far more eclectic than most festivals its size. Now in its 40th year, Bumbershoot attempts to be all things to all people, and actually sort of succeeds, even in the rain. Below are 10 highlights of a wet and wild weekend. Best Song Ever Written:If it were anyone else butchering "Tangled Up in Blue" during Saturday night's headlining slot, the infidel would've been run off the mainstage by pitchfork-wielding fanatics. But it was Bob Dylan, and Bob Dylan gets to play whatever he wants, however he wants.

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    Carissa's Wierd Play One-Off Reunion Show

    Call it musical archaeology: Seattle's alt-folk missing link made a rare appearance Friday night as a (mostly) reunited Carissa's Wierd played their first show in seven years to an adoring Showbox crowd. In the late '90s, Carissa's Wierd was one of the bands that bridged Seattle's grunge past to its eclectic future (alongside Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie). After six years of underground acclaim, several members went on to more famous projects, including Band of Horses and Grand Archives. On this sultry summer night, their 90-minute set was, as bandleader Mat Brooke predicted during an interview earlier in the week, part "museum piece [part] fucked-up high school reunion." Brooke and Jenn Ghetto shared lead vocal and guitar duties, backed by drummer Sera Cahoone, bassist Robin Perringer, violinist Sarah Standard, and accordionist Jeff Hellis.

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    Chart-Topper B.o.B. and Lupe Fiasco Wrap Tour

    B.o.B. has the top album on the Billboard charts right now, but even so, Lupe Fiasco remained the No. 1 star of the pair's Steppin Laser tour, which finished strong in Seattle Friday night. Until last week's release of The Adventures of Bobby Ray, B.o.B, aka Bobby Ray Simmons, was an ATL-bred mixtape king. But his major-label debut is a mainstream crossover grab that seems to have worked -- the uber-produced, hits-heavy album sold84,000 copies in its first week, beating out America's sweethearts Justin Bieber and Lady Antebellum. B.o.B.'s crowd - teenagers, mostly, chanting his name before and after openerDosage hit the stage - came for the hits, and eventually he gave them. He's a talented MC, at his best when hypeman Playboy Tre had his back. Halfway through his set, B.o.B. ditched Tre and brought out a band - guitar,keys, bass, and drums.

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Now Playing
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