• Beck

    Beck's Subterranean Homeboy Blues

    This is Beck. He's not a slacker, an angst-ridden mouthpiece, or a loser, baby. He's a cosmic naïf with one foot on the zeitgeist wahwah pedal and a scary inner-bluesman aching to turn it loose. MIKE RUBIN wonders if you'll still love him tomorrow."The best place to view Los Angeles of the next millennium," wrote social historian Mike Davis in the prologue to his 1990 dissection of L.A. development, City of Quartz, "is from the ruins of its alternative future." Granted, the specific ruins Davis was discussing were the crumbled vestiges of the former utopian socialist hamlet of Llano del Rio, its vacant desert acreage awaiting annexation as a subdivision for the white flight of the 21st century; and, of course, his definition of alternative had nothing at all to do with a contrived corporate radio format. But, oh well, whatever, never mind.

  • Liars

    Liars Break Down the Electronic Influences That Shaped 'WIXIW'

    On their sixth album, WIXIW (pronounced "Wish You"), Liars have dispatched the dissonant guitars and jarring rhythms in favor of rich tapestries of burbling analog synths and hypnotic machine beats. Scorching with electronic influences, the result is multi-textured body music with songs ranging from lush ballads ("The Exact Color of Doubt") to tribal stomps ("A Ring On Every Finger") to glistening psychedelia ("WIXIW") and even a mutant dancefloor banger ("Brats"). WIXIW emphasizes not just different instrumentation than their previous records but a totally revamped songwriting process. Using software like Pro Tools and Reaktor, they collaborated on laptops instead of writing compositions separately. "[2010's] Sisterworld was largely a pretty much traditionally recorded album, says the band's Aaron Hemphill, "like guitars with amps and a studio engineer to place the mic.

  • Jay Reatard in 2008 / Photo by Andy Eisberg

    'Better Than Something' Directors on Working Alongside the Late Jay Reatard

    When filmmakers Alexandria Hammond and Ian Markiewicz, directors of the recent Better Than Something, first met its subject, Memphis punk rock musician Jay Reatard, they weren't sure what to expect, given his name and his notoriety for transgressive, even violent stage antics. Brought in by Matador Records to make a short promotional film for the impending release of Reatard's album Watch Me Fall, the pair of documentary veterans — Hammond had helmed a feature doc on homeless children in Haiti, while Markiewicz had worked with legendary filmmaker Albert Maysles, including editing The Beales of Grey Gardens — weren't very familiar with the pugnacious enfant terrible's prolific output with bands like the Reatards, the Lost Sounds, and Angry Angles.

  • Dave Grohl Covers SPIN July 1997

    So Happy Together: Dave Grohl Finds Nirvana in the Foo Fighters

    When Dave Grohl air-drums, you can still hear a sound. This isn't the answer to the old tree/forest riddle, nor confirmation of the more recent in-space-nobody-can-hear-you-scream hypothetical, just a fact: The Foo Fighters frontman goes at the task of keeping imaginary time just like he does everything else, with full-throttle energy, and so his forceful rhythmic chopping has the insistent, metronomic whirring of fan blades. That is, as long as he's not air-drumming along to something loud."I know what time it is," Grohl says excitedly, ejecting the Butthole Surfers from his Chevrolet minivan's car stereo and popping in a new selection. It's a balmy spring day at the end of March, and we're inching our way through a typical Los Angeles rush hour on the way to a Foo photo shoot.

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