It’s time for a brand new MuuCast!
Fair warning: This isn’t a collection of juicy booty bangers or sizzling electro stompers–instead, it’s the stuff of dreams.
Inspired by my recent longing to travel, plenty of downtime and perhaps a touch of the holiday blues, I now present MuuCast Episode 7: Miles Away, a sampling of songs with one idea in mind: To take you far, far away.
Music’s always been an escape for me, but the following collection inspires an especially strong sense of wanderlust. It’s the music I listen to when I’m looking for inspiration, feeling emotional, or–most often of all–when I’m preparing to drift into slumberville.
The playlist begins with El Perro Del Mar‘s “Change Of Heart,” my definitive come-down anthem for dulling the sound of loud drunks and creepy scumbags while riding the last train home out of Grand Central at 2 A.M., and closes with one of my all time favorites, Duke B‘s “Hey You (feat. Angela McCluskey),” which is one of the most haunting and beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. (It also makes an appearance on MuuCast Episode Three!)
Regardless, it’s yours to keep. I hope you enjoy the escape!
…And the semi-awkward spoken word introduction.
Oh, and apologies for no actual Utada on the tracklisting–I just thought her cover for Single Collection Volume 2 made a perfect match for the MuuCast’s mood!
To see the full tracklisting, click “Read More”!
Here we go again: The end of another year in music!
2010 may well be remembered as the Year of the Future (if not the Year of All Hearts–hint hint!): A year of fembots, androids, bionic women and time-traveling adventures deep into the 22nd century.
Space-age love stories and robo-dramatics colored a large portion of the year’s biggest releases in pop, no doubt a response to the reign of the machine on the pop charts as synth-pop productions continued to dominate the digital airwaves in 2010.
Below is the list of MuuMuse’s Top Albums of 2010, which was based on a variety of factors–from individual song and single goodness, to the complete album experience, to overall artistic integrity, to an album’s ability to ‘stick’ as the year progressed. Basically I’m trying to say that it’s a bit of a hot mess, but I tried my very best.
There’s also a rather controversial dishonorable mention prior to the Top 40 list that will likely blow my chances for that much coveted position as editor of Rolling Stone. DAMN IT.
Now…LET’S DO THIS.
So, this is something new and interesting.
The night before my interview with Sky Ferreira, I received a vaguely mysterious e-mail from MuuMuse reader Sam Lansky with an attachment entitled “Fame Fatale.” The e-mail suggested that the attached may assist me in preparing for my interview.
As soon as I began reading, I already knew: This had to be published immediately.
“Fame Fatale” is not only a remarkably in-depth analysis (and personal account) of Ferreira’s curious rise to fame, but a thoughtful contemplation of the manufacturing of the modern pop star and the very conventions of the music industry itself. It’s extremely well-researched, poses tough questions, and deserves your full attention.
With his permission, I’ve asked Sam to feature his article on MuuMuse. It’s an incredible piece, and I do highly recommend that all of my Muusers give it a thorough reading–even if it’s “tl;dr” territory.
I do, after all, hope to keep a literate company.
Click “Read More…” to read Sam Lansky’s “Fame Fatale: The Rise of Sky Ferreira.”
“Where da fuck is you at, ho?”
On August 5, the All Hearts Tour made its final stop at Webster Hall in New York City, featuring the Far East Movement, Dan Black, Kelis, and Robyn. I attended that concert, and this is what I have to say about it.
When my friend Eric and I arrived at Webster Hall around six, the bar was already full with waiting fans buzzing about. After claiming our free Cherrytree Records label sampler on the sidewalk (Natalia Kills! Agnes! Kelis and Robyn!), we quickly squeezed into the stuffed room, running in the moment the doors were finally opened to the crowd.
The priorities were immediately taken care of: “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do” tee? Check. Front row positioning? Check. Camera settings test? Check. And so began the wait.
Almost immediately after we wedged our way into the front of the crowd–about three rows deep at that point–the tour openers came out in rapid succession. Far East Movement provided some danceable, LMFAO-friendly party anthems (perhaps a bit too similar in moments) and Dan Black his indie-electro pop anthems, I have to be honest: I was there solely for Robyn and Kelis. As a result, I don’t have much to say about them. Sorry about it.
Then came the ‘air situation,’ which will do me no favors in perpetuating stereotypes about Jews and the heat. While the AC seemed to circulate during the first two openers, it was painfully, disgustingly apparent that it had completely ceased by the time Dan Black and crew cleared the stage. It deeply displeased the gays.
“Bitch, get out here already!” whined one. “Someone turn on a damn fan!” came another. There was also my personal favorite: “Da fuck you at, ho?”, which resulted in a smattering of giggles each time. Despite the various attempts to fan ourselves and/or disrobe, the body glitter was fast beginning to drip down to the floor.
At around 8:30, the lights dimmed, the microphone glowed fluorescent, and Kelis took to the stage. The singer, dressed in a shimmering metallic blue one-piece catsuit not unlike her Sea Monkeys-inspired piece, smiled calmly and began to launch into a mini-monologue about tolerance and unity. I think, anyway.
Sadly, the crowd mostly drowned out her words. “I’m trying to get you guys to answer back,” she half-whined, laughing deeply and rolling her eyes. She returned to her initial point: “I will not judge,” she instructed us to repeat. “I will not judge!” The crowd responded. “…Because we control the dance floor,” she commanded. The crowd returned the call. She repeated it again; the crowd thunderously echoing it back. There. That was better.
Before the crowd could applaud their group effort, the grinding synthesizers of Kelis’ gay anthem, “Emancipate” rocketed into the venue, turning the entire floor into a ballroom of fierce poses and snapping wrists.
Kelis provided a powerhouse performance of sex, sass, and soul. Tackling some classics (“Trick Me”) and some covers (Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Got Your Money”) along the way, the singer performed almost the entirety of her latest album for the crowd, including “22nd Century,” “4th Of July (Fireworks),” “Scream,” “Acapella,” and “Emancipate.” And, of course, there was “Brave.”
As you all might well already know, “Brave” isn’t just an album favorite, but one of my favorite songs of the year. So as the stinging electronic beats entered the speakers, I had what we in the industry like to call a “moment.” More specifically, I grabbed my friend’s arm–a bit too hard–and began jumping like a loon and lightly convulsing.
In contrast, Kelis played it stone cold cool with her delivery of the track, singing the song pitch perfect and stepping back during the song’s chaotic explosion of grinding synths to allow the beat to speak for itself.
“Milkshake” was, of course, another crowd favorite, made all the better (and gayer) thanks to a mash-up with Madonna‘s “Holiday.” “Work, bitchâ€¦WORK!” one group offered to my left. And so she did.
I’d like to take a moment to show some appreciation for Kelis’ hips at this point. Never have I ever seen a woman work and twerk her body the way Kelis did that night–shimmying and sashaying in a way that would have Shakira blushing.
By the time Kelis casually strutted off stage, the entire audience was consumed in a sweat, semi-stunned by the sheer energy of the singer’s performance. It was an incredible performance. How was it exactly that this concert was only halfway over?
After about a half hour of set up, the lights faded to black again. A voice-over began to announce Robyn’s arrival–sort of like an updated version of “Curriculum Vitae” from Robyn’s 2005 record. The lights began to flicker and the bass boomed, making the entire venue feel like a rocket was about to make a crash landing.
Out walked Robyn, or rather–strutted, with a cool smirk and a bossy swagger. As she took to the mic, a fat bass began to grind and electronic noises began to pulsate, prompting the singer to gyrate and moan in delight, punching the air with an energy that wouldn’t cease until the closing note of her set. And then she started to sing “Fembot.”
Gays: Do you know the part in Moulin Rouge when Zidler selects the Can Can as the dance of choice and the entire place erupts into a chaotic frenzy of dancing and screaming to the point where you couldn’t quite tell whether people were celebrating or going into epileptic shock? That was Robyn’s set.
The singer put on a show like no other, stopping just once for a swig of water and a quick sit-down in front of the keyboardist during a dance-laden set that lasted over an hour. Apart from that, she was a dancing fool; refusing to stop between songs. Instead of breaks between tracks she performed dance interludes, raging against manic strobe lights as though she were exorcising her demons for all to see.
The Robyn I saw last week at the iHeartRadio taping was hardly the Robyn on stage at Webster Hall this night. Growling, grinding, thrashing, and taunting, the singer was an unstoppable force of bossiness and brattitude. She worked the stage like no one’s business, often approaching the crowd (and myself) within an inch of touching someone’s outstretched hand, squinting her eyes and swiveling her head curiously. “Oh, what?” she’d mouth to the crowd member. “You want some of this?”
Perhaps the most impressive and awe-inspiring aspect of Robyn as a performer is her indescribable presence and performance quality. She weaves in and out of attitudes–at one moment sweetly chirping “Thank you all so much for coming tonight!”, the next, on the floor grinding against the stage and flipping the bird to the crowd. There is no other artist that even comes close to delivering the performance Robyn can with simply a mic and a stage alone other than Madonna.
The singer certainly stuck with the uptempo side of things, including the fist-pump friendly “Cobrastyle,” and her collaboration with Royksopp, “The Girl and The Robot,” delivered while basking in an eerie green glow.
Midway through her set, Robyn took a rare, highly deserved moment to herself as “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do,” the intro track from Body Talk Pt. 1 and unofficial All Hearts anthem boomed overhead. The singer swung a sweat towel around her neck, and pulling out–what else? A banana. Literally right in front of me, she peeled and ate the banana, staring down the audience like a bad boss bitch. It was fantastic. I just wish she shared a bite.
Of course, there was her latest single from Body Talk Pt. 1, “Dancing On My Own,” which was performed to the pinnacle of perfection. The same fierce choreography, the same solid vocal performance. Nothing beats that moment when she steps away from the mic for a brief power snap backward–except, of course, the rapid-fire punch-the-air mania of the bridge. AMAZING. I just wish she’d punch out the mic again!
To my great surprise, Robyn also whipped out a treat from her self-titled 2005 record, an electro-enhanced re-rub of one of my favorite songs from the singer, “Who’s That Girl?” Donning a beret, the singer sauntered her way across the floor to the song’s killer beats, and, approaching the drum set, began furiously banging out a quick drum solo before throwing out her drumsticks into a swarming sea of wanting fans. Delicious.
By the end of the show, all sense of decency was out the window. Shirts were strewn and dangling as cameras, now visibly dripping and slipping between fingers, fought against waves of people thrashing to Robyn’s unbelievable performances. The entire venue was flailing and swaying–so much so that the floor below us began to wobble uncomfortably underneath our feet. Even the uptight, pretentious gay to my right with his hands folded that did nothing but sip a beer the whole night broke out into a somewhat vigorous head-bob. (But seriously, who does that at a concert? And in the front row, no less?)
After the show’s “ending” (there’s always an encore), Robyn quickly popped back onto the stage for two more songs: “Dream On” and “With Every Heartbeat,” two of her most anthemic tracks.
“And it hurts with every heartbeat!” the crowd shouted back breathlessly in the final seconds of Robyn’s set. With a final wide grin, Robyn held up her hands together to form a heart shape in between her fingers and thumbs. A thousand more greeted her from the audience, thus concluding the All Hearts Tour in the most literal sense.
When we somehow found our way back to the hotel following the show, we could do nothing but crawl onto the ground and moan in pain. As a famous Swedish songstress might say: My legs were killing me. My neck was killing me. My arms were killing me. It literally felt like I’d just gotten beaten up–and really, we did. Robyn and Kelis had sonically punched us in the gut, leaving us lying on the floor, panting and otherwise motionless.
Officially speaking, the All Hearts Tour was unmistakably, undoubtedly, and indubitably one of the greatest and most exciting concert experiences I’ve ever had.
Unofficially? OMFG BEST SHOW EVARRRR.
Many thanks and so much love to Muuser Eric H. for joining me for this most epic of adventures, as well as selected photos above.
Everything they’ve said is true.
“The introvert[ed] and darker sibling, who lives in the attic.” “More introspective and freeform than its poppier partner.” “Brimfull with dark secrets and distorted memories.”
All of these are the descriptions being tossed out by RÃ¶yksopp‘s camp in advance of the release of their fourth studio effort, Senior. And for once, a band’s press releases are entirely hyperbole free.
In stark contrast to the album’s companion piece–Junior, one of 2009′s greatest releases–Senior is entirely instrumental, brooding, for the most part, quite moody.
The noises used to build the album are dusty, weathered and strange; not unlike what you’d find rummaging through the boxes buried deep in some hidden nook at home. Each song creaks and crinkles with a vintage feel that’s both organic and supernatural, lending itself to that same magical energy behind each of RÃ¶yksopp’s productions.
On “Senior Living,” steel guitars mash together breathlessly with an angelic choir, sad strings, and twinkling electronica. “The Drug” blends muted ’90′s house synths with a trip-hop beat and occasionally jarring electro-interferences. “Coming Home” sees the world floating away on a dreamy, lush soundscape far into outer space–all set to the beat of a ceaseless metronome.
Truthfully though, it’s a bit pointless to point out “highlights” from the album. As the duo have stressed in the very slow promotion for this album’s release, this is an instrumental album, meant to be consumed all in one go.
It’s not a collection of stompers and ballads, and it’s probably the group’s least commercially appetizing offering thus far. That, however, does not take away from the album’s production value, which is nothing less than superb.
Fans will be pleased to know that the signature RÃ¶yksopp sound–the melancholy melodies and cyclical rhythms that have come to color each one of the duo’s releases ever since Melody A.M.–is still alive and well here, albeit buried under all the strange miscellanea.
Take for instance “Tricky Part Two,” which uses the instrumental from their 2009 album track “Tricky Tricky” (featuring Karin Dreijer) and morphs it into an even more complicated composition, incorporating elements of dance and electro-pop by the song’s end.
Even some of the band’s signature sounds from their debut make appearances here, as the light electronica flares from songs like “So Easy,” “Eple” and “Sparks” make brief cameos in tracks like “Forsaken Cowboy.”
While the Nordic duo have always had a knack for delivering songs with killer stories (“The Girl and The Robot,” “What Else Is There?”), they’ve managed to go a step further with Senior by proving that they can still supply narratives simply through music: “The Alcoholic” certainly seems to tell the tell of its namesake as a demented, drunken synthesizer waves and warbles its way through the countryside. No really, you can visualize it. Just listen to those birds chirping! And the rain!
In the end, Senior only aids in proving RÃ¶yksopp to be one of the innovative musical acts on the scene. They can churn out crunchy, sophisticated pop confections (“Only This Moment”), but they can just as easily evoke emotion through sound and sound alone.
For all info on the upcoming release of Senior, click here.