• The White Stripes in 2003 / Photo by Getty Images

    The White Stripes' 'Elephant' Turns 10

    It begins and ends with "Ball and Biscuit," and by "it," I mean "Western civilization." The 21st century's most astounding, most wryly pornographic, most brain-meltingly electrifying blues song. Did the electric guitar even exist prior to "Ball and Biscuit"? Did distortion? Did hype? Did critical praise? Did the colors red and white? Did outlandishly oversize declarations of virility? Has there been a single memorable guitar solo performed anywhere, by anyone, in the decade since its release?"Ball and Biscuit," all 439 stomping, seething, snarling, Sam Ash-smiting seconds of it, is what we should broadcast out into deep space if we wish to communicate to uncouth aliens the idea that they should not fuck with us, ever. It is a song to repel interstellar invasions, to vaporize asteroids, a preemptive strike so comically priapic it renders everything in its path limp and docile.

  • Local Natives / Photo by Bryan Sheffield

    Local Natives, 'Hummingbird' (Frenchkiss)

    You are forgiven for dismissing Local Natives as yet another cohort of super-sensitive, baroque-rockin', breathtakingly mustachioed L.A. gents who fetishize the word "polyrhythm" and (quite probably) dress up in goofy animal costumes and howl with a studied sort of feral melancholy at whatever tiny portion of the moon is visible through the toxic cloud of smog/narcissism hovering over the Silverlake Lounge.

  • SPIN's 20 Best Country Albums of 2012

    SPIN's 20 Best Country Albums of 2012

    There are plenty of country-music delivery systems these days: lurid network dramas, Nashville-minted gleaming-teeth megastars, hirsute good ol’ boys, sensitive-poet road warriors, honky-tonk princesses, Kennedy-kidnapping tabloid fixtures, hacky-sacking surfer boys, Appalachian exorcists, alt.lifers, critical darlings, bluegrass virtuosos, rockabilly tarts, Swedes. Some pine for a Golden Age, some pine for 1994, some pine for Jake Gyllenhaal. We have learned to love them all, even the ones who have enjoyed making that difficult. Prepare yourself.

  • Japandroids / Photo by Jennilee Marigomen

    Band of the Year: Japandroids

    Rock'n'roll, as our forefathers conceived it, inflames the joyously self-destructive hedonism of young people and rekindles the rueful nostalgia of not-so-young people wistfully recalling joyously hedonistic and self-destructive days of yore. Rare — and not a little ridiculous, and, as it turns out, also wonderfully sublime — is the band that somehow strikes both chords simultaneously: actual young people uncorking reckless, beer-soaked, fist-pumping dipshit-kid anthems about how sad it is that they don't have time for reckless, beer-soaked, fist-pumping dipshit-kid anthems anymore.


    The thinking man's rock star's pro sports league of choice. The NFL is too macho and concussion-prone; baseball is boring, dude. And the feeling is tentatively mutual: Now-retired power forward/journeyman/unlikely columnist Paul Shirley made waves with a ludicrous 2009 ESPN.com piece wherein he listened to Merriweather Post Pavilion a bunch and concluded that "they create interesting, dare I say, soundscapes." (This was all before the Haiti thing.) Also, here's a video of classic NBA highlights set to "What Would I Want? Sky." Back to the Centipedia glossary NEXT: Night of the Living Dead


    Icy Swedish electro-pop crew best known for "Wildfire," a sharp, squelchy collab with mysterious electronic producer SBTRKT (he of the goofy tribal headgear) that Drake (he of the hyper-earnest solipsistic tenderness) surprisingly seized onto for a remix, conveniently triangulating AnCo's whole vibe. Little Dragon's 2011 album Ritual Union is fizzy and fluid and pulverizingly cool, much like Centipede Hz; it's also understated and minimalist, very much not like Centipede Hz, which sounds like 12 stereos playing 12 copies of Ritual in not-quite-unison. Back to the Centipedia glossary NEXT: John Maus


    Hey, look. Dollars to donuts, if you interview any band about its influences long enough, they're gonna bring up James Brown just to make sure you're paying attention. Sync this video up to "Today's Supernatural" and the hell with it. Back to the Centipedia glossary NEXT: Vashti Bunyan


    A smart, damaged, thoroughly freaked-out little kid riding his big wheel through a blood-soaked haunted house? Yeah, that sums up this band pretty well. The Shining is (possibly) the best and (even more possibly) the artiest horror flick of all time, and the hellish clatter of Krystof Penderecki's soundtrack makes it so: a never-ending fount of paralyzing unease, and the nightmare fuel for everything from Jonny Greenwood's abstract, visceral work for Paul Thomas Anderson movies to some murderous-sounding quasi-lullabies we could mention. Avey Tare: This is like 11th or 12th grade. There was a time when Brian and I were on mushrooms and watched The Shining.


    Forever the gold standard in casual-sounding yet painstakingly crafted, whimsical yet resolutely badass genre-splicing head-trips. Paul's Boutique and Odelay have long since passed into the eye-rollingly obvious canon by now, but their everything-happening-all-the-time production style makes both records thrilling and immersive on both the first listen and the 50th. Animal Collective just blew it out, slicked it up, hyperintensified it, a dizzying cut-and-paste torrent where at any given second you might be abruptly graced by a visit from The Enchanting Wizard of Rhythm. Back to the Centipedia glossary NEXT: Todd Edwards


    The icy 2008 Swedish horror flick ideal if you'd feared Twilight overload would ruin vampires for you forever. Plot: Meek, lonely young boy slowly befriends meek-seeming, lonely young girl who is, y'know, a little weird. You'll recognize the combo of bruising, wide-eyed childlike naïveté and unnerving, subdued, pulsating horror, put it that way. The pool scene (spoilers, but worth it) makes decapitation and dismemberment look beautiful and alluring the same way Avey Tare makes blood-curdling screams feel like the delighted coos of a precocious newborn. Back to the Centipedia glossary NEXT: The Lexicon Effects Processor

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