• big09-nasa.jpg

    The All-Stars: N.A.S.A.

    FACE TIME: Ever since A-listers lined up to virtually duet with Frank Sinatra in 1993, pop collaborations have become devalued as events, even as they've increased in frequency. But unlike your standard rap remix featuring phoned-in cameos, the cavalcade of stars guesting on N.A.S.A.'s The Spirit of Apollo -- the brainchild of Squeak E. Clean (né Sam Spiegel, brother of Spike Jonze, Yeah Yeah Yeahs' coproducer) and Brazilian DJ Ze Gonzales -- delivered their verses in person, and together. With one exception.

  • big09-bon-iver.jpg

    The Lamentalist: Bon Iver

    There's something inherently jarring about seeing Justin Vernon in Times Square. Given the mythology surrounding last year's chilling, sparse insta-classic For Emma, Forever Ago (he holed up in a northwestern Wisconsin cabin to exorcise personal demons! He can field-dress a moose!), you'd think the lights and the noise would send him sprinting for the closest ice-fishing hole. Although Vernon is infinitely more gregarious than his wistful breakup laments might suggest, you'd be right. "There's a romance about New York that's amazing," he says, "but I'd lose my mind a bit. All these people who have the courage to be here all the time -- good for them, you know?" As New York days go, he's having a couple of good ones: a Late Show With David Letterman spot alongside John McCain, sandwiched between two sold-out nights at the stately, 1,500-seat Town Hall.

  • prince_mca_2.jpg

    Review: Prince's 5 New Songs

    His last album, 2007's Planet Earth, was bundled for free with Sunday papers in London (the first single, "Guitar," was a Verizon exclusive). It's something of a shame that this is the only thing the album is remembered for because it was as good -- as distinctly Prince-like -- as he's sounded in years, stacked with languid funk jams and, like the song says, guitar. So it's with equal parts surprise and, well, not, that the artist formerly known as the Artist Formerly Known As Prince picked ex-Sex Pistol Steve Jones' radio show on L.A.'s 103.1 to debut four tracks that may or may not appear on his next album, which he may or may not release himself. And fitting, then, that the songs generally skew towards the rock end of the Prince spectrum.

  • 081124-guns-roses-axl-rose.jpg

    The Last 'Chinese Democracy' Blog Post Ever, Probably

    I am an American born in the first half of the 1970s, with a penis. In other words, I saw The Phantom Menace the day it came out. And while that's pretty much a universally derided piece of pop-cultural flotsam at this point, sitting through it that first night didn't feel uncomfortable or annoying or even disappointing. No, far worse: It didn't feel like anything. Forced to compete against its own generation-defining legacy, the odds against the endeavor's success were impossibly stacked from the outset; the end result seemed less like a movie meant to forge a warm emotional bond with an audience weaned on its predecessors' iconography and vernacular than a state-of-the-art facsimile, engineered to stimulate familiarity-oriented sensory-response nerve centers. The only things more stilted and artificial than the computer-generated characters were the human ones.

  • led-zeppelin-reunion.jpg

    Why Led Zeppelin Shouldn't Reunite

    Sometimes getting a taste of something sweet only to see it disappear is worse than never tasting it at all. Which, I guess, is what's going through the minds of Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones right around now. How else to explain why the excitement from last December's Led Zeppelin show at London's O2 Arena - by all accounts the rare triumphant reunion that actually lived up to its unfathomable ballyhoo - and subsequent tour rumors have now deteriorated, nearly a year later, to this: The dude who replaced the dude from Creed might be the new lead singer for Led Zeppelin. There's no amount of times that one can re-read the previous sentence before it makes a modicum of sense.

  • lil-wayne-maria-bartiromo.jpg

    Music to Lose Your Freakin’ Life Savings By

    The entire world is in the grips of an economic meltdown so horrific that, in the unlikely event any of us can afford enough gin to want to procreate, our children will be lucky to wear burlap sacks and eat wood chips. But you wouldn't know this from looking at the pop charts: T.I.'s conspicuous consumption come-on "Whatever It Takes" is at No. 1, just north of Lil Wayne's "Got Money" and "A Milli." (Akon's new single "I'm So Paid," also featuring Weezy, soon won't be far behind.) Not that hip-hop's ice-flaunting, wad-waving antics ever bore much resemblance to reality, but it'll be interesting to see how this economic downward spiral manifests itself in song as things turn dire and weird, as we're told they certainly must. The luxe fantasy will be lusted after more than ever, yet it'll take less to impress. Forget "A Milli" -- "A Hundy" should do it.

  • 080827_superchunk.jpg

    Four Reasons Why Superchunk Still Matters

    AND THE FOUR REASONS ARE: Every band you like owes them a debt.

  • Oxford Collapse, 'Bits' (Sub Pop)

    Your town probably has an Oxford Collapse -- a tightly coiled indie act, smart-but-not-too-smart, hard-working, well-respected purveyors of shout-along choruses who've never quite broken from the increasingly crowded pack of same. So, about 25 minutes into their fourth album, when Dan Fetherston's martial drums and Adam Rizer and Michael Pace's choral vocals begin the slow rumble of "Children's Crusade," the moment feels as revelatory as it is cathartic -- Arcade Fire–size elation, without the uniforms and all the friggin' people. It's the sound of a band realizing they've outgrown their cramped room and bursting through the ceiling. But they're not going pomp on us -- let's see Win Butler try the couplet "My love came back from Sweden / Brought me some bathroom reading." BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • wolf-parade.jpg

    Wolf Parade: Animal Collective of Montreal

    Montreal is only 47 minutes from New York in a plane no bigger than a school bus. But on this cloudy late April morning, each of those 47 minutes is teeth-gnashingly, stomach-churningly turbulent, making it impossible to forget that you are, in fact, not on a school bus, but rather inside a thin metal tube careening rapidly 35,000 feet above the ground in a manner antithetical to man's nature. But here's the thing about even the most harried trip to Canada: When you get there, you're surrounded by Canadians, which, at the risk of gross generalization, is a fair panacea for gnashed teeth and churned stomach. Wolf Parade are Canadian. Not just in the sense that they're from Canada, but Canadian -- laconic, genial, unflappable.

  • Weezer: Heck on Wheels

    Weezer: Heck on Wheels

    Our June cover story involves some old friends: Weezer. Deputy editor Steve Kandell checks in with the Weezer camp, taking stock of the power pop poobahs' perch at this point, six albums deep into their career. Follow Spin inside Rivers Cuomo's modest abode and bedroom, where we wield his first guitar, browse his loose-leaf binders, and ultimately discover how the band navigated around many rock'n'roll pitfalls to make it this far, to the launch of "The Red Album." Read the whole story in the June issue of Spin, on newsstands now.

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