Some #longreads as you settle in for the weekend…
Spoon’s Gimme Fiction will be getting the deluxe edition/re-issue treatment for its tenth anniversary this December, but you can visit the site “Gimme Facts” right now to read the oral history of the album that comes with the package. It was compiled by one of our favorite writers, Sean O’Neal (of the AV Club and others), so it should be well worth your time.
Last week, we shared a serious interview with Maynard James Keenan, and this week we have a fun one for you–read his hilarious responses to the AV Club’s “11 Questions“.
Esteemed critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine has to read a lot of rock star memoirs as a part of his job, but he makes it easy for the public by pulling out some of the best tidbits of six new autobiographies for this Vulture piece, filling you in on stories about John Fogerty, Carrie Brownstein, Elvis Costello, and others.
Finally, Esquire made Noel Gallagher their cover star for December, so of course they have an extensive interview with the man filled with his entertaining ramblings.
Some #longreads as you scramble for something to do in the hours leading up to the “Big Game”…
“Vinyl or CD’s?” is an argument that has raged on for decades, and the shifting fortunes of both formats in the last few years has inspired numerous articles promoting one side over the other. LA Weekly has an extensive and informative piece on the debate, providing a history of the creation of the technology as well as insights into the music recording process to help support the claim that compact discs do in fact “sound better.” That should be good news to record companies, who apparently view the recent surge in vinyl sales as “just a fad” even if there are reasons to believe this isn’t the case.*
We mentioned earlier this week that Sundance saw the premiere of the new Kurt Cobain documentary Montage of Heck, and because our love for Nirvana has barely diminished over the years, multiple publications from a variety of backgrounds have pieces on director Brett Morgen and his film, including Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and The Daily Beast.
As a companion to our recent review of the fantastic new Sleater-Kinney album No Cities to Love, you may want to read this extensive feature on Carrie Brownstein for Consequence of Sound’s quarterly literary magazine FACES.
Do not adjust your flickering screen: Rust Is Just Right is recommending that you read an interview with Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit. Stereogum has a fascinating discussion with the guitarist that shows his good humor and self-awareness of his place in music, and Borland provides an interesting perspective of the business and how bands operate.
And finally, Pitchfork has a couple of worthwhile pieces from “The Pitch”, both relating to leaks: the first analyzes the quest to determine whether or not the SoundCloud leak of unreleased Aphex Twin material was genuine, while the second examines the history of digital album leaks from the past two decades.
Though this is difficult to hear, every year we get more evidence that it may be a good idea to break up your band for a decade, even if they are at their creative peak. Last year, Death From Above 1979 came back and wowed us with the stellar The Physical World; the year before that saw the surprisingly wonderful return of My Bloody Valentine; and then there is Dinosaur Jr., who have released three excellent albums after the reunion of their original lineup after nearly twenty years apart. Sleater-Kinney has pulled off the same trick with the excellent No Cities To Love, a furious and catchy album that is both an artistic step forward as well as a classic example of the trademark S-K sound.
The frenetic “Price Tag” kicks off the album, pairing an off-kilter looping Sleater-Kinney riff typical of their early years with ferociously political lyrics; not since the heyday of Rage Against The Machine have we heard a song that targets economic inequity and middle-class complacence. “Fangless” follows and throws a bit of a curveball with its mixture of funk rhythms and new-wave guitars, as well as featuring a prominent bass counterpart that was previously a rarity in light of S-K’s usual twin-guitar attack. The track is indicative of the kind of musical adventurousness found throughout No Cities To Love as well as what makes the album so much fun.
No Cities To Love features some of the best hooks of Sleater-Kinney’s career, including the peppy title track and the bouncy “Hey Darling”; the descending chorus melody in the latter immediately brings to mind something Ted Leo and the Pharmacists would have concocted circa Hearts of Oak. “A New Wave” has some fun with the bass riff from Nirvana’s “Love Buzz” before shifting into a sing-song chorus that makes perfect use of the unique vocal harmonies of Brownstein and Tucker.
Sleater-Kinney has been a band that has long been beloved by critics and pushed by their most passionate fans as all-time greats, but rarely have I ever felt that this type of hype was fully justified. I’ve certainly have enjoyed their albums over the years (after overcoming an initial reluctance due to their unconventional vocals) and recognize the impact that the group has had musically and culturally over the years (they have been arguably as far-reaching in their influence as Pavement in the past couple of decades), yet never had them break into my regular rotation nor would put them in that upper echelon of groups. However, even considering Sleater-Kinney’s excellent discography as a whole, No Cities To Love is a cut above, and will certainly invite not only repeated listens but end-of-the-year list consideration. Not bad for a January album.