Janet Weiss announced today that she is leaving Sleater-Kinney because the band is heading in a “new direction.” This will no doubt be devastating news for many, as Sleater-Kinney won’t be the same without her. Weiss’s drumming style helped define the band’s raucous sound, as it evolved from wailing indie-punk to an explosive power trio.
Weiss’ statement reads diplomatically enough, but one can’t help but wonder what precipitated such a decision. There is speculation that the band’s radical new sound with producer St. Vincent at the helm has colored her attitude towards the music- her bored expression in recent publicity photos, notwithstanding.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of Joy Division’s unimpeachable debut, Unknown Pleasures, the band has commissioned a visual campaign whereby a new video will accompany each track- all with different directors. The latest addition is the reimagining of “Insight” directed by Makato Nagahisa, best known for this year’s We Are Little Zombies.
Creating a visual companion to music that fans have internalized for decades is no small task. Anton Corbijn carried a similar burden in 1988 when he directed the post-humous video for “Atmosphere” to coincide with the release of Substance. Corbijn didn’t stray far from the band’s gloomy image, whereas these latest videos seem to play fast and loose with visual poetic license.
Prince’s estate has been a bit of a PR shambles since the star’s sudden death in April of 2016. The lack of any discernible will has led to a never-ending legal battle between Prince’s family and the banks appointed to care for the business dealings of the musician’s vast estate. Despite the financial squabbles, the estate has managed to eke out a few posthumous releases that one would assume even hardcore fans have to admire. Sadly, this is unlikely since Prince’s elite hardcore fans are an admittedly miserable and impossible lot to please, complaining endlessly about any and everything to do with the man. These releases speak more to spreading the legacy to potential fans as well as to those who already identify as “fams”- the term Prince applied to his followers as he found “fan” (short for a fanatic) to be derisive.
Madonna’s roll-out for her new album, Madame X, has not been without controversy but not the usual brand. Faced with a relentless barrage of ageist condescension for daring to turn 60, much less continue to make music, Madonna has unsurprisingly struggled to connect with any of her new singles. So, it’s not without a pinch of cynicism that she has released an elaborate storyline video for her latest single, “God Control,” protesting gun violence. Piggybacking woke activism is not exactly a tactic without questionable baggage. Is Madonna genuinely concerned about mass shootings in America? Is she exploiting the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub for her own promotional gain? Probably a little from Column A and a little from Column B. But the gratuitousness of her “message” can’t help but be met with a raised eyebrow. The video itself is beautifully filmed by Jonas Akerlund, and the song is kind of a Daft Punk-ian banger, mixing vocoder disco with impressively catchy faux symphonic strings. The rapping breakaways, however, are undeniably cringeworthy.
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has released his latest solo album, ANIMA, to streaming services. The physical edition comes out July 19. Yorke continues to explore his nervous dread of modern life over skittering, twitchy beats. It’s cautiously optimistic music that requires an attentive listener, despite being enveloped in existential unease.
Director Paul Thomas Anderson, who worked with Radiohead on the video for “Daydreaming,” has directed a short film to coincide with ANIMA’s release and features Yorke and actress Dajana Roncione. It is streaming now on Netflix.
A few months ago Sirius XMU played a song by an English band called Black Midi. I was driving when I heard it and completely dumbfounded: It was noisy, anti-melodic, primal and tight- not the type of stuff you hear on the radio in 2019- even on the “indie” radio stations. Several friends have sent me messages in the last few days asking if I’d heard this band yet. Barely. But now I’ve watched the band’s performance filmed at a hostel in Iceland that was aired live on KEXP back in November of last year. In an age when electronic music drives the trends, it’s almost jarring to see a new band this young channeling no-wave, math rock, English post-punk, and Don Caballero-esque compositional chaos. I’m not entirely sure what to make of it yet, but I know I’m intrigued.
An excellent, well-researched delve into the mysterious evening when John Lennon and Paul McCartney entered a studio together for the first and only time five years after The Beatles had come to an acrimonious end.
It had been nearly five years since Lennon and McCartney appeared in a recording studio together. The last time around, they were at Abbey Road Studios in London with Harrison and Starr, working on the Abbey Road track “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Given all that had transpired since then, those five years might have felt like 25.