A Love Letter To New York City by olivia cellamare
I’ve never written a love letter in my life. I’m not exactly sure how you write one, so I guess you just do it from the heart. Sometimes doing stuff from the heart is a problem, I should know as it’s the only way I function. This is a love letter to a city I’ve never been to, but for music based reasons- owns a large part of my heart. New York, this is for you. Dear New York City, I fell in love with you when I was very very young. It was before I was a teenager; before the years of being impressed and swayed by everything kicked in. It never kicked in. Turns out I’m really stubborn and won’t do anything that doesn’t feel right to me. You know where that came from? Punk. You gave the world Punk, and with that came strong attitudes and bands that claimed a piece of my heart. I remember hearing a rapper called Big L and I was in awe of him. His lyrics and the way he rapped just blew my mind. To me, New York will always be Hip Hop and Punk. A Tribe Called Quest, Run DMC and Eric B & Rakim got me through the first few years of secondary school. The awkward stage never went away; I think I am still stuck there. Hip Hop wasn’t just a style of music to me; I personally saw it as poetry. I took it in as we were to take in William Blake at school. I could see a different world. A world so different from mine, but so fascinating. I remember being fascinated by my uncle’s record collection. I’d go through it when I would go to my grandma’s. I’d spend what seemed forever just taking out records and looking at the artwork. Two records that stood out was Transformer by Lou Reed and the first New York Dolls record. As I was so young, I didn’t really understand. As I got older, I fully understood. You see NYC; you gave me music that gave me hope. With hope comes the love to do something great. If it wasn’t for Punk I may never have cared this much about music. We are made up, at times, of false starts and fading hope. There is something about music that comes from New York that just keeps every single dream alive. Yet, there is something about the music that makes me realise that I was born in the wrong era. I wasn’t made for this time; I just do not feel comfortable. But my beloved New York, when I listen to the Velvet Underground or the Ramones, I feel at home. I feel like I am in 70s walking into Max’s Kansas City next to Patti Smith. Patti Smith. My ultimate role model. The one who could be more responsible than most for my love for New York. I cannot tell you how many times I have read Just
Kids. It isn’t a book; it is a guide to life. It teaches you how to be gentle, what love is and how important it is to ALWAYS follow your heart. Did New York teach Patti that? I read her tales about her days in New York as she was struggling for work and struggling to be heard. I felt as if I was there with her. I felt as if I was in the Hotel Chelsea with her and Robert Mapplethorpe. A city that has never failed to inspire. I can only hope that one day I get to visit New York and go to all the places I have heard about in songs, and truly get inside the music. It is weird how a place I’ve never been to can just make me feel like I belong. Maybe it’s because of where I currently live makes me feel like I am trapped. In body, maybe I could be. The mind is free. The mind should always be free. That comes from all forms of art- I chose music. I’ll always choose music. I may never see the Ramones play CBGBs or bump into Dylan at the Chelsea; but in my head, just from the musicI have already done that and so much more. Through music from New York, I have lived. New York, maybe these are crazy images I have and the reality is you are a city surrounded by the polar opposite of what some songs portray. Good or bad, I love you. I always have and I always will. Always yours (with the odd exception, so please forgive me as I have a lot of love to give), Olivia xx
this issue is brought to you by the sad kids club.
Single of the
When I was at SXSW, I watched a man and a woman flirt with each other from either side of the stage while Ra Ra Riot performed â€œDance With Me.â€? Maybe it was the Texas heat, or the free drinks. But, more likely, it was that lovely beat to my favorite song on Beta Love. Listen and enjoy.
fRIENDSHIP, A PLAYLIST by cassandra baim
“Lust For Life,” Girls We first met as freshman—comrades in homesick misery—but our relationship quickly transcended to that of two girls who would rather get drunk together in a dorm room and make paper snowflakes than socialize. Somewhere in the mess of that first year—among all the blood, sweat, tears, and vomit—we realized that everything might turn out okay. “Teenage Dream,” Katy Perry And then we were two girls who felt comfortable enough having a loud and graphic conversation about masturbation on a public bus, because that’s what we needed to talk about. The year I turned 19 I realized that after a lifetime of numbness I might have a case of the feels for someone and though I’d known you for barely a year, you made damn well sure I could be honest with myself during this unexpected second adolescence. “Colours,” Donovan I’d punched a guy in the face when all I really wanted to do was make out with him, right after I drunk-texted the boy who took my virginity. I drank too much and cried too loudly. I spent the next day hung over, wrapped in blankets of self-pity and angst but you wouldn’t have any of it. You and I listened to this song on a loop until I could breathe at a normal rate and realize my life wasn’t over just yet. “Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset,” Modest Mouse We were supposed to go grocery shopping but you took me for a thirty-minute drive instead. I briefly thought about never speaking to you again after what happened the night before, but I couldn’t do that without making a few pros and cons lists first. And so, sitting in the front seat of your car driving down some road in Camillus or Marcellus or wherever, staring out the window while Isaac Brock’s words fill the silence between us, I realized that it would take a whole lot more than a drunken hook up for me to hate you. You’ll have to try really damn hard to get me to cut you out of my life. “Graceland,” Paul Simon I’ve been kind of a handful lately, throwing temper tantrums when boys don’t like me, whining about what a worthless human I am, and Googling whether there are medications that can cure my miserable case of the feels. You’re doing the same thing too; I guess that’s what it’s like to be 22 (Taylor Swift doesn’t know shit). You and I don’t have much left to do than blast some classics and dance it out. I don’t know where I’ll wind up next, but hopefully I’ll have a kitchen, and you best be sure we’re going to be dancing in it. “Wild Heart,” Stevie Knicks After all this college bullshit ends, I’ll be able to say that I know who you truly are, for better or for worse.
I WANNA ROCK by ian stanley
I never knew much about music growing up outside of the influence of my parents’ CD collection. Sam Cooke. Patsty Cline. The Beach Boys. Dian Ross & The Supremes. The Mamas & the Papas. Those were my parents’ definition of music and therefore they were my definition of music. Heck, the highlight of my year was when The Mahoney Brothers, a particularly awesome Beatles tribute band, would play the Bloomsburg Fair. You see, I grew up in what I like to call a semi-sheltered environment. It wasn’t so much my parents who squelched any musical individuality from my existence; it was my church. Let’s rewind, shall we? Like any youth group kid worth his salt, I was into CCM. In case you don’t know what that means, it stands for Contemporary Christian Music. Music that in any other church would have not only been allowed, it would have been outright celebrated. But no, not my church. I can remember like it was yesterday sitting in the back of the church van this one time, twelve years old, headphones on, minding my own business, probably listening to The Newsboys or something. When much to
my non-surprise a legalistic, sniveling little weasel turned around and said to me, “Just remember, Ian, there is no such thing as Christian rock music.” In my memory, this kid, the utter bane of my youth group existence, was most likely wearing a cardigan and a pretentious set of eyewear. I remember that he was also reading a book way beyond his reading level. Probably Dostoyevsky or some crap, but that’s beside the point. This wormy, little snake summed up my church’s attitude towards me and my family. We didn’t wear the right clothes, we didn’t act as pious as possible at every occasion, and my parents let their children listen to (gasp) rock music. Or at least what the church perceived to be rock music. We just didn’t fit in. It was at that point that I decided that I was going to listen to whatever music I wanted to listen to. The louder the better. Curse words? Bring ‘em on. I wanted to experience rock and roll and I wanted my demeanor to reflect it. When these puritans, these separatists stared daggers at me with sideways glances I wanted to give them reason to look down their noses at me. I wanted to be punk. Thanks to Napster (good lookin’ out, Sean Parker), I had the whole of the musical universe at my fingertips for the price of a dial-up connection. I can remember starting 3 song downloads at once and then leaving for school in the morning. Get home, race to the computer, “THANK GOD! THEY ARE 60% DONE! THEY’LL CERTAINLY BE FINISHED BY THE TIME I GET BACK FROM YOUTH GROUP!” Of course, as a Christian kid, I didn’t really know where to start and so I stuck with what I knew at first. MxPx, Zao, Living Sacrifice, and Slick Shoes were my favorites. Really anything on Tooth & Nail or Solid State Records suited me just fine. I can remember rapping the lyrics along to P.O.D.’s “Southtown” feeling like the punkest badass I’d ever seen. Looking back, that was probably sort of lame brain, but I was taking control of my ears despite what everyone around me said and thought. And, to me, that’s still kind of punk in its own small way. But as much as I loved Christian rock music, I soon came to find that it did not fulfill my need for my ears to bleed. From there I slowly but surely stepped out from under my Christian umbrella into the world known as Secular Music (AKA the fiery pits of hell), and there was no turning back. Fast forward a few years and I was fully immersed in the world of punk and hardcore. My one friend who truly commiserated my lot in life with me would always sit by me in youth group. There we would trade contraband under our chairs. The Distillers, The Cramps, The Ramones, Flogging Molly and others were our currency. When someone would ask what kind of music it was that we were passing back and forth we would just reply, “Oldies.” No one would question it past that. And then This Is It happened. For me The Strokes changed everything. That album was certainly a change of pace for me, the kid who wore only black and had to have screaming and shouting in his music in order for it to be listenable. The Strokes didn’t play hardcore music, but I maintain that they were punk as hell. A lot of people thought that The Strokes were going to be the saviors of rock and roll, whatever that meant. But to me they just represented the always-elusive attitude of effortless cool. They wore tattered clothes, played their instruments like they barely cared, they reeked of drug use, and yet they were easily the coolest band I had ever been exposed to. They were rock and roll. And that was what I had been searching for. That was 2001. It’s now 12 years later and rock music has been the one constant thing in my life other than my faith (yes, I’m still a Christian despite the awful childhood experience of being raised in an independent Baptist church). In an age where everything digital is king, I still cling to the screech of guitar amps and the pulsing veins in vocalists’ throats. I want the ringing in my ears after a raucous basement show. I want the sweat of 100 other kids smeared across my body as I thrash with them in the pit. In the words of Twisted Sister, “I wanna rock!” and nobody is going to take that away from me.
rara riot an interview by the miscreant
Ra Ra Riot has come a long way since playing in basements on Syracuse University’s Ostrom Avenue. With two albums under their belt, The Rhumb Line and The Orchard, Ra Ra Riot recently released Beta Love through the Seattle-based label Barsuk Records. The album demonstrates the development Ra Ra Riot has made as a band, adopting new styles and progressing in a new sense of aesthetics. Through the side projects undertaken by the band’s members throughout the past few years, Ra Ra Riot has collectively created a sound based on individual experiences and their evolution as musicians. Here, Mat Santos, the band’s bassist, discusses Ra Ra Riot’s future, the recording process, and their favorite TV shows for touring.
The Miscreant: Where are you guys currently on your tour? Mat: Right now, we’re actually between tours - we just got back home after being on the road for about 8 weeks, starting in Asia and ending at South By Southwest. We have a little time off, relatively speaking, and then we’re right back at it in May and onwards. The Miscreant: Since touring on the new record, have you visited any new places? Where were the most interesting places you played? Mat: We got to kick this album cycle off by playing a few dates with the Dirty Projectors in Asia, which was absolutely amazing. We got to visit a few places we’d never been before - Hong Kong, which was gorgeous and exciting; Taipei, which had one of the best crowds on the whole tour; Jakarta, which was definitely the most culturally-shocking place we’ve ever been; and finally Tokyo, which we’ve visited several times and is still one of our absolute favorite places on the planet. The Miscreant: When performing the songs from your previous records, do you arrange them to fit your new style? How has your performance style changed? Mat: No, we pretty much play those songs as we’ve always played them, though they can’t help but be a little re-contextualized with the new music alongside them in the set. The more we write and perform together, the more we learn about each other, so our older songs definitely benefit from that. We just try to play them a little better each night. The Miscreant: It’s been said you guys are real TV addicts on tour. What have you guys been watching lately? Mat: It’s true - Becca’s been known to plow through several complete series during a given tour (last I knew, she was into Girls), and there are other shows that sort of get passed around between us - over the years, it’s been everything from The Wire and Game of Thrones to Arrested Development and Curb, with lots of Tim & Eric peppered throughout. This most recent tour was defined more by movie watching, though, I think - our bus driver, Bill, had a ridiculous collection of over 500 Blu-Rays that he’d add to almost daily, so just about every night we’d at least start a movie until everyone went to bed. I think we may have finished about 2 of them. My favorite one from this tour was T2. The Miscreant: The new record is certainly a deviation from the sound of The Rhumb Line and The Orchard. What elements of your sound do you think connect the records? Mat: To me, since it’s essentially the same core of people who have worked on all the records, they’re all pretty closely related.
When I listen to any of the songs, I can pick up on things, like, “There’s a classic Milo idea,” or “That string part is very Becca.” To me, the records are kind of like diary entries, which reflect whatever we happened to be into, both individually and collectively, at those moments. I think all the music shares in the balancing of different elements - on one hand, they’re poppy and energetic, but there’s a lot of melancholy and longing and things like that in there, too. The Miscreant: Many of the solo and side projects you guys pursue are more electronic. When did it become apparent that this was something you wanted to incorporate into RRR? Mat: It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision to make Beta Love more electronic, but we did decide beforehand to be much less selfconscious and prone to over-thinking before we started working on it. So I think that made it easier for us to openly embrace some elements with which we may not have felt comfortable before. There had definitely been some electronic elements floating around on earlier records - like on “Too Too Too Fast” on The Rhumb Line, and “Too Dramatic,” “Foolish,” and “Kansai” on The Orchard - we just handled the arrangements a bit differently this time around, that’s all. We didn’t feel the need to cover things up as much. The Miscreant: How do you perceive fans reacting to the change in your music? Do you think you’ve adopted new listeners because of the change in sound? Mat: Like with any change, there were people who were excited by it, and people who were offended but I think overall, more people have fallen into the former category. Some people are always going to lament things they think have been lost, but that’s just how life goes. You can’t just keep doing the same thing over and over. Our main hope was that our old fans would want to grow with us, and through that growth, we’d maybe encounter some new ones along the way. So far, that seems to be the case. The Miscreant: How do you feel the timing of this record fits into the overall state of pop music? Mat: I’m not exactly sure - my understanding of current pop music is pretty limited, but I do feel that in some ways Beta Love is a “modern” record. Aside from the strange banjo revival that’s happening, people generally seem more attracted to cleaner, more electronic recordings, though these trends had nothing to do with how we approached making the record. All the changes we were looking to make were internal in nature.
The Miscreant: You recorded the record at Sweet Tea Studios. Why did you choose this studio? How was it different from other places you recorded? Mat: Once we had decided to work with Dennis Herring, who produced the record, that decision was made for us - Dennis built and owns the studio, and so we knew we’d be making it there. It was really exciting for us, because it was the first time we made a record in the sun! The Rhumb Line and The Orchard were both recorded in the dead of winter - The Rhumb Line outside Seattle, and The Orchard in upstate New York. It was nice not to be cooped up and in each other’s hair every day. The weather really made a huge difference, I think! The Miscreant: What was it like hanging out in Oxford, Mississippi? Did you get a chance to try Big Bad Breakfast? Mat: No we didn’t, unfortunately, but we did have some amazing meals at Taylor Grocery (and a few other places whose names escape me). Our experience of Oxford was mostly limited to playing street hockey and basketball in the studio’s parking lot, or taking the short walk into town for dinner every night at Two Sticks or Proud Larry’s. My favorite part of the whole thing was taking long walks in the middle of the night on the golf course where we were staying! The Miscreant: It’s well documented that your origins lie at Syracuse University. Being a student there now, I’ve always wondered where you guys played show when you were here? Which houses were popular for shows when you were students? Mat: Our first show ever was in our rehearsal space, which was in the basement of 855 Ostrom! We played in a bunch of houses all over the place, in basements, attics, anywhere kids on Ackerman, Clarendon, Euclid, and Westcott all had parties at which we played early on. I remember one of our favorites - on Madison Street, I think? - where there were so many people packed into and dancing on the second floor, that the floor began to dip, and the ceiling of the apartment below us began to crack! I remember seeing people literally climbing out of the windows during the show, and thinking to myself that the band was most likely safe, since we were tucked into the corner. The Miscreant: What does the future hold for Ra Ra Riot? What other projects are you working on? Mat: We’re going to be touring for at least the foreseeable future, until the end of this year, and then I imagine we’ll take a little time off to maybe work on independent projects - what those will be, I have no idea. But we’re also already getting excited for the next record, so I’m sure it won’t be long before new demos start floating around!
EXTRA WORLDS 7" RELEASE Thursday, April 18, 8:00PM THE STOOD LVL UP Speedy Ortiz Suns Lawns Nude Dudes
ARMS IN ARKANSAS by andrew mcclain
While Miss Miscreant and I were sitting in a Starbucks in Indiana, piecing together the special Pitchfork Festival 2011 issue, my friend Steven Davis emailed me, saying he had a friend named Kody Ford who wanted me to do a little blogging for him. Steven took photos for Kody and needed someone to write the words. Kody had big plans for this little arts & culture blog he called “The Idle Class.” Cut to February 12, 2013, Whitewater Tavern in Little Rock, Arkansas. Whitewater is a classic American dive bar in what looks like a very old, very big house. It’s as emblematic of the Little Rock music scene as anything. Kody walks in with a big box of magazines. It’s the first printed issue of The Idle Class, of which I am now the managing editor. The financial aspect of running a small magazine is always rough, but Kody graciously cut me a small check in honor of the first issue and I knew exactly what I needed to do with it. As a tribute to the great state that birthed this magazine, and whose entire arts scene it focuses on, I got the outline of Arkansas tattooed on my upper arm. A simple, tasteful outline, hidden by any sort of sleeve, but significant to me in that it’s my first tattoo. Part of the mission of the Idle Class is to unite the state’s regional arts scenes in a way that they can be looked at as one thing, so that Arkansan artists can better move throughout the state. Northwest Arkansas is a sprawl of young bedroom communities centered around the University of Arkansas and Walmart Corporation, (Fayetteville, Rogers, Bentonville) all of which have an active hand in the arts. Meanwhile, Central Arkansas revolves around Arkansas’ biggest urban center, Little Rock, whose punk scene thrived in the ‘90s, and whose downtown culture still plays host to plenty of artistic endeavors. It’s not difficult to fill a magazine with everything Arkansas’ arts scene has to offer. I got a couple of harsh reminders of the level of state pride I just committed to. One of the bigger oil pipeline spills happened just a few weeks ago and I can still smell it as I drive to my parents’ house. Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert just passed one of the strictest abortion bills in the nation. A local band, the Ronald Rayguns has written a song about it, the chorus of which goes: I wanna be a mover and a shaker I wanna run the legislature I wanna be just like Jason Rapert I wanna be an Arkansas State Senator It’s very catchy, actually. The song is a biting satire from the standpoint of someone who admires Rapert, and portrays him as a lonely, resentful man. Arkansas politics is a famously vicious game that gave the world Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee. Someone once complained to me “Why is there nothing to do in Arkansas?” and I said “Because you’re not paying attention.” All I want to do is make the good stuff visible. I bought a mixing console and I’m starting to work with my friend, Albert Hoover, producing his music. He, like many artists without a platform, needs a lot of coaxing in order to get his work out to the masses. That’s what I’m here for. We have plans to record the Ronald Rayguns’ EP pretty soon. I think it could really make some noise. I love this state, but I do plan to leave it within a few years. I just want to make sure my work here is finished, first.
Tea Time With Tori
& La Luz an interview by miss tori cote
La Luz is probably one of my favorite bands of this year as of now. La Luz is a band from Seattle, WA, started in the summer of 2012 by Shana Cleveland (guitar), Marian Li Pino (drums), Abbey Blackwell (bass), and Alice Sandahl (keyboard). Everyone sings. This is what Shana, Marian, and Abbey have to say! Make sure to listen to them! http://laluz.bandcamp.com/ Tori: Tell me about you guys, how and where did you meet? Where does your name come from? When did you figure out you were going to make music together? Shanna: Marian and I met playing in another band (the Curious Mystery). Marian and Alice played together in a band called the Pica Beats, which is now defunct. I met Abbey at my fav chill spot in Seattle, Café Racer. Tori: What’s it like to be signed to Burger Records? Shanna: Mmm I don’t know, I’m pretty geeky about music that I love and I’ve been a big fan of Burger for years so it’s kinda like there’s this cool guy that you’ve seen around and then one day he winks at you at the bus stop and starts inviting you to parties and stuff and you’re like ‘YEAH! Life just got a little cooler’. Abbey: I’m kind of on the outside of all of this rock’n’roll music culture, so I’m just starting to realize how many people know about Burger and how much awesome they put out. If anything, it gives me a huge list of music to listen to and expand my vocabulary. Marian: Enlightening. Tori: What are your biggest inspirations? You guys remind me of the Adam Family meets Scooby Doo meets surfing in the best way possible! But how would you describe your sound? Shanna: I like when we get called spooky because I feel like this music is really sunny and fun so it’s like ‘Huh, I must be pretty morbid if my idea of happy sunshine music is perceived as creepy’. But I guess a bunch of the songs are about death. My biggest guitar inspiration is Link Wray. Other than that, lotsa old soul and early rock and roll. And new bands like the Shivas, Shannon and the Clams, and Ty Segall. Tori: What’s all of your favorite show that you guys have played? Shanna: All our Seattle shows are really fun and it would be hard to choose a favorite out of those. Outside of Seattle I think our collective favorite was our show at the Know in Portland last weekend. The audience got a really nice soul train going and it was sweaty and fun.
Abbey: Precisely what Shana said. Marian: Portland hands down. In large part due to the band chemistry on stage that particular night, and Alice kicking my ride cymbal not once, but twice. What a bamf. Shanna: And then after the show was over we caught Marian singing “Son of a Preacher Man” on stage in a room that was empty but for a lone Karaoke host. Tori: If each of you were an ice cream flavor, what kind of ice cream flavors would you be? Shanna: Excellent question. I would be Blue Moon. Or Neapolitan. Abbey: Blue Moon like the beer?? I think mint chocolate chip for me. Marian: I guess some form of sherbet. I couldn’t quite say why. Tori: Can you tell us what it’s like to be an all girl band in the Seattle scene? Shanna: It’s the best thing ever. I don’t know how much of that has to do with our location or gender, but I love my bandmates and love getting to hang out with them and have adventures. And Seattle has shown us a lot of love. Abbey: I like it a lot, particularly after having spent years in groups with only guys and being put into this separate category because I’m proficient at my instrument AND am a girl. Sometimes I feel like I’m not taken seriously or am taken too seriously. But being in a group with all ladies, it feels like it removes that extra obnoxious level. There’s no guy in the band to go up to after the show and talk to. You only have the option to talk to girls! Coodies or not. Marian: Isn’t spelled “cooties”, Abigail? Anyway, she’s right with the separate category comment, in addition to either being taken too seriously or not at all. I’m surprised girls in the music industry are still viewed as a novelty, I feel like there are so many groups with girls in them that we should be over that by now. Tori: What can we see from La Luz in the future? Shanna: Well we have a 7” that just came out on Water Wing Records (an offshoot of Portland’s killer Mississippi Records), and another 7” in the works on a really sweet label that we’ll announce soonish. A tour in June/July that will take us all over the country. Some cool festivals this summer. Bunch of other stuff. And a full length record in the works YOOOW! And a psychic predicted that we were gonna team up with Wilco, move to California, and write a musical…so we’ll see!!! Marian: OMFG did she really predict California??? How could I forget that? Guys now we HAVE to go!!
The Music FestivaL: A Reflection by caitlin lytle
Festivals attract all sorts of people. The music lovers, the illegal substance enthusiasts, the hippies, and the weirdoes you wonder where they go the other 360 days of the year. With Coachella for the most part kicking off the festival season, it is important to keep in mind some helpful tips while making your way through these weekend long musical binges. It is important to map out a plan of stage hopping and perfect the art of linking arms to form crowd cutting snakes in order to ensure great spots at some of this music seasons best performers. Always keep your phone on you and ready for prime picture video opportunities, as you never know when you might find yourself witnessing 3D/ resurrected/ trillion-dollar holograph Jesus or Kurt Cobain. Another tip I greatly suggest is allotting time for water and sunscreen reapplication breaks, especially during festivals when temperatures skyrocket. I speak from personal experience when I tell you, nothing says festival fun like having a friend casually tell you four heads from the front of the Shins, “I have sun poisoning and am about to vomit.” Now that you are physically prepared for the three-day journey, it is time to prepare your ears. Before every major festival I attend I compile a massive playlist in order to pregame for what is ahead (this years playlist is a mere seven hours). While it is important to compile all of your favorites take the time to research the up and comers. You never know the following year when you could be cashing in major “indie cred” for catching them month’s prior. When you catch a set, take in the crowd around you and make an effort to recognize all of the people brought together by the music and those encountering the same experiences as you, however be cautious when they offer you free smuggled in alcohol from their sunscreen bottle. As a kid I was never a fan of Disneyland, and I have always felt I missed out on a certain childhood excitement, that since has only been produced by my attendance at festivals. I cannot explain what it is whether it’s the sensory overload of art installations and sounds, the acceptance of breaking out in dance anywhere, or eating giant slabs of watermelon while sitting in the grass, festivals give me a pleasure unlike any other. My first festival experience at Los Angele’s FYF fest in 2011 replays like a movie in my head when I think of my favorite musical experiences I have had. I had finally inched my way up to the front for the Cold War Kids set by the end of the day, and as I couldn’t be any happier they finished with “an old favorite,” as the tune for “Audience” began playing and the tears began to stream down my face. * Key Items to Pack: temporary tattoos, sunscreen, sunglasses, re-usable water bottle Key Acts to Catch this Festival Season: Alt- J, The Neighborhood, Vampire Weekend (now playing their new tracks), Postal Service Reunification, Robert DeLong *Please note the author is not certifiable, however moments of extreme musical excitement tend to evoke instant tears.
some songs from 2013 by quinn donnell
Although 2013 has only been around for just over four months, the bottomless jar of new music has already provided us with some great tunes. New artists have emerged and introduced us to fresh sounds while long-time favorites have returned to remind us why we started listening to them way back when. Here are some of my favorite songs of the year so far (in no particular order): Cayucas—“Cayucos” Cayucos is a small town in San Louis Obispo County, California; a fitting location with which to associate Zach Yudin’s old school surf-rock music. Yudin, a west coast native, is the man behind Cayucas, and after releasing a number of self-produced tracks under the moniker Oregon Bike Trails, Yudin signed with Secretly Canadian in 2012 and became Cayucas. Since then, he has re-recorded his tunes with Shins member Richard Swift and brought back the laid back sun & surf vibes reminiscent of the Beach Boys. Juxaposed with modern influences like Vampire Weekend and Animal Collective, “Cayucos” is going to be the perfect summer song. Foxygen—“Suggie” Foxygen’s We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic is my favorite album of the year so far. When an album gains that kind of status, it’s usually pretty difficult to pick one song that really stands out. “Shuggie,” however, is most definitely that song. “Shuggie” represents the album as a whole as it transitions through musical time periods featuring vocal stylings not unlike those of a superhuman Mick Jagger/Lou Reed/Bob Dylan combination. Unknown Mortal Orchestra—“Swim and Sleep” It’s safe to assume that most people haven’t spent much time considering the ability to simultaneously swim and sleep like a shark, but when UMO singer/guitarist Ruban Nielson expresses his interest in the aforementioned activity, it instantly places the shark on the “if I could be any animal for a day” list. With hazy vocals against a clean guitar riff, this song has made UMO one of my must-see bands this summer. Waxahatchee—“Coast to Coast” Last year Katie Crutchfield released her first album, American Weekend, as Waxahatchee. While the album featured a beautiful combination of her raspy voice and her distorted guitar, Crutchfield stayed fairly under the radar. After coming out with Cerulean Salt in 2013, however, the singer/songwriter is starting to gain the attention she deserves. “Coast to Coast” features a full band playing behind Crutchfield’s electric guitar riffs and signature heart-felt lyrics. Vampire Weekend—“Step” / “Diane Young” There’s a reason why Vampire Weekend is Vampire Weekend. This reason is put on display by their two latest tracks, “Step” and “Diane Young,” which will be featured on their forthcoming album due out in May. In the past, VW has drawn comparisons to African-influenced artists like Paul Simon, and with the rockabilly-style “baby, baby, baby” in “Diane Young,” I’m sure the quartet will be associated with the likes of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. Having said that, these two songs prove Vampire Weekend has been able to fuse classic influences with modern indie pop for a style incomparable to anyone else.
COBAIN IS DEAD by saptarshi lahiri
The somewhat iconic, yet hugely sub-par No Alternative compilation first released in 1993 is getting a re-release this Record Store Day. Initially released to raise money for the Red Hot Organization (officially dedicated to fighting AIDS through pop culture) and raise awareness about AIDS which was still ravaging North America in the early 90s. Musically while hugely disappointing overall, given the talent pool around to draw from in that uh, genre (alternative, bub) in 1993, it still contained a few great performances which are available elsewhere. This is actually part of a pattern since other high profile alt compilations of that era are equally underwhelming (Singles, Hype!). To preamble the cultural moment this compilation represents, a short track by track review: Powerpopper Matthew Sweet turns in a workmanlike “Superdeformed” which could fit right into a Pete & Pete episode (hell, it probably did); alt also-rans Buffalo Tom do an unmemorable… ah fuck it, there are like six good (stretching it) songs on the 19 song CD version (the cassette also has Sonic Youth and Jonathan Richman of the Modern Lovers). These include Uncle Tupelo covering Creedence really, really well on the epic Nixon diss “Effigy,” Patti Smith waxing topical and twee about AIDS on the acapella Robert Mapplethorpe tribute “Memorial Song,” Breeders being organically awesome on the live “Iris,” The Beasties, surely invoking Foucauldian state repression of the sexuality of children, with mike d rapping about all the underage girlies he likes on the pre Chappelle certified fresh(!) jam “New Style,” Pavement on the excellent “Unseen Power of the Picket Fence,” synthesizing a love for REM’s entire oeuvre and exorcising the shame of being from the south (word to Brad Paisley). And finally, NIRVANA. I talk about them last because they are the last on the album and because they obviously were its raison d’être. And with characteristic, unnecessary self deprecation as an asterisked, hidden track. The album’s inevitably ironic title pun, it’s unabashedly 90s ethos, even the album cover that satirizes 70s family portraits are a multi-nodal path to NIRVANA. Oh, and I’m capitalizing it because surely that’s how they would have done it if they were starting out (aside from the fact that they would be a historical impossibility in this cultural and historical epoch), a la their worthy musical progenies du jour HUME, ROOMRUNNER, METZ, EULA and DIIV et al. The hidden track variously titled by bootleggers “Sappy,” “Laundry Room,” or “Verse Chorus Verse” as here, features lyrics such as you wallow in your shit, and you think you’re happy. If that isn’t funny, I don’t know what is. The rock single/compilation for a charitable cause being a post boomer gift (thank you Bob Geldof,
let’s hear you talk about white rural poverty in Ireland instead for a change), Cobain thumbs his GenX nose at obligatory “charity”-as-product while being participatory. Geniuses juggle dichotomies, this is old hat, but in such dorky, slovenly fashion? Only the 90s could give us this. This is why kids still on 9gag fight about why they are 90s kids and fetishize Twin Peaks (a show Cobain hated, actually). Even the extremely time capsulish album cover were generative of the folks doing awkwardfamilyportraits.com, Tyler the Creator, your annoyingly pretentious MFA pal, a huge proportion of young people engaged in cultural production today mining the 70s for satiric aesthetic sensibilities (or lack thereof). It will be 20 years since Cobain died in 2014. It will be hagiographed to be sure, but the death anniversary is truly more important particularly for Nirvana, because no other band effectively synthesized the Eros/Thanatos binary than Cobain (stfu Joy Division fans). Cobain sexualizes death like no other since Beckett, whom he was influenced by. And that this is pay dirt, is something America dimly realized ten years after Jim Morrison died, that in part Jim was sexy, because he was dead. What is missing in this death affirming sex capitalism, is that it’s funny. And without a doubt, Nirvana is funny. Before Nardwuar turned into SXSW gadabout he interviewed Nirvana (pretty much only Kurt+Courtney), Kurt (first name basis with celebs is the only way fans wrest power back) deathlessly deadpans a non-sequitur to an inane question about American punkers faking English accents: “What can I say? I am a death rocker.” If that isn’t hilarious I don’t know what is. This being the year that “Rape Me” was hijacked by an attention seeking twitteratus (#steubenville), the essentially BS Cobain as sexy dead legend can only be softened through hilarity. Paul McCartney stepped into Kurt’s shoes at the big doohickey fundraising gala last December? Hilaaarious. So much poetic irony, mixed metaphors notwithstanding, that the former Wings frontman would front the band at the behest of Wings mark II frontman, Dave Grohl. Learn to Fly with Wings. Kurt’s nemesis Lynn Hirschberg keeps on a-writing? Continuing to specialize in hatchet jobbing young alternative up and comers (her last victim being MIA in 2010), how does Hirschberg still have a career? Oh right, she writes for Vanity Fair/nytimes. Well, nytimes hires wine connoisseurs to write about African geopolitics. That’s funneee. It’s sad that LH always reminds me of Courtney Love whose descent into Lady Macbeth levels of paranoia depresses me. I love Courtney Love, but all of her behavior in total is proof that eros is thanatos. And, good lord, is her Twitter funny! I LOVE that she reminded Lana del Ray that Heart Shaped Box is about her vagina. Hilarity ensued on the internets after she did that. Sad that there really is No Alternative to save the futility of Record Store Day and valorizing 20th century brick and mortar stores? Think of noted keynoter Jack White and the idiocy of retrofetishists. With global capital rampant and primed to assimilate and reproduce anything you throw at it, only Jack White (who doesn’t use email!) is oblivious to the reality of now, when even Chuck Berry has an iPhone. If that isn’t funny, I don’t know what is.
SPRING STUFF by johnny pflieger
Spring, a time where birds sing, bees buzz and I make new playlists. It’s decidedly spring when I can jump in my car, roll down all the windows, and scream my favorite songs while flooring it down rt. 78. There is something refreshing about the wind blowing through your hair as you flip off New Jersey drivers and listen to some kickin’ spring-time tunes. There are many competing theories in the world of springtime playlist construction. Some people like to slowly thaw their bones with warm acoustic ballads, others believe in a steady transfusion of spritely EDM music to brighten up their days, and then there are those people who just listen to t-swift all year long and don’t give a shit about the seasons. I on the other hand see spring as a time to get the led out and as the MC5 put it so brilliantly “Kick out the Jams.” SO here is my playlist built of songs that generally make me way too excited for my own good, and that’s how we should be feeling in the spring, am I right? “Cut Your Hair,” Pavement There is something about Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair” that immediately puts a smile on my face. I think it has to do with the constant “Ooh Ooh Ooh’s” or the fact that Stephen Malkmus just sounds so happy to be singing that we all just have to be happy too. “Flagpole Sitta,” Harvey Danger When I listen to this song I cant help but remember NOW 1 and how when I was 5 years old that was pretty much the coolest album I ever heard. Yeah, a lot has changed since then, but well I’ll always have those happy memories to associate with “Flagpole Sitta” and the infamous NOW 1 album. “Set You Free,” The Black Keys When I think of spring, I think about how we are all final free from all the Syracuse snow, and as cheesy as it may sound its like we are being set free. Also The Black Keys know how to blow the doors off of any room so that also helps bust the winter doldrums. “Debaser,” The Pixies I’ve always thought that The Pixies album Doolittle was not only their best album, but one of the best albums I have ever heard and The Pixies “got me movin” which is exactly what we all should be doing as the spring hits us full force. “Cousins,” Vampire Weekend The erratic strumming and jumpy feeling of “Cousins” makes me literally want to, jump. That’s the only reason I listen to this song really any time. “The White Sky,” The Gerbils Listing to “The White Sky” all I can think of is Scott Spillane yelling the lyrics at the top of his lungs as his gigantic belly jiggles and can’t help but laugh. Plus, who doesn’t love an awesome trumpet line? “The Way We Get By,” Spoon If you are listening to “The Way We Get By” you should be in the back seat of a convertible going way above the speed limit, preferably on the way to the beach. Plus this song serves as a prelude to future summer playlists. “North American Scum,” LCD Soundsystem LCD Soundsystem may not be an obvious choice when looking at all the other tracks on this list, but if you don’t get ridiculously excited when you listen to this song then I’m not quite sure if I can help you.
by preston ossman Brandon Elijah Johnson, a native of the Pacific Northwest, does well for himself in the big apple. He studies painting at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, is a lead illustrator for Brooklyn music and arts magazine 1.21 Gigawatts, and just had his first gallery showing on the east coast at Newerkâ€™s Index Art Center. Despite this busy schedule, I was able to coerce a few coherent statements out of him about his method, mindset, and history as an artist. Apparently, he has a penchant for thrashing, the dark arts and David Bowie, but his work is more of a slow brewed concoction than a hodgepodge mimeses of his disparate influences. Preston: So, you wanna do this? Brandon: Yeah dude, for sure Preston: First off, why art? Brandon: Its universal communication! Preston: What are you communicating? Brandon: The less tangible, but often most powerful discrepancies between individuals and groups, science and nature, the spiritual and palpable. Duh. Preston: ~Describe yr method~ Brandon: I donâ€™t have a method. I work in manic benders. I guess my method is just to work. I focus a lot of energy and get down and dirty. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I need silence. The only thing that is actually a constant is the act of working. When I am doing it right its a somewhat withdrawn experience. You strive for control, but its really about achieving a balance of guiding the piece and letting it guide you. Preston: Do you have a vision for a work prior to the onset of a piece? Brandon: I like to refer back to sketches and notes, and I usually have an idea that I am working from, but trying to fill in the dots is a really surefire way to make really bad art, for me at least. I think that being able to be zen about the little screw ups and find a way to make them work for the piece instead of against it is where the real magic happens. ~The white magick~ Preston: Is working in mixed media more conducive to this process than painting? Brandon: No way dude! Maybe in terms of immediate gratification, but painting to me is so much about stepping back and responding to the piece as it is happening. There is sort of like a dialogue between you and the work that is really the same regardless of the medium. Preston: How do you approach medium in general? How did you start as an artist
and how has this developed your eye as you have received a more formal (high art) education as student at SVA. Brandon: I have always been making things. I never thought of myself as an artist by any means. I was really into skateboarding in high school, and through that I somehow met a lot of creative people who were also making things and that definitely broadened my horizons. I really started by making really bad zines. Preston: “Good-bad” or “bad-bad”? Brandon: They were just bad. Not for lack of trying, actually there might have been some little gems in some of them. Preston: how else has skateboard culture effected your art? Brandon: I think a lot of what I was doing then was very organic, and I never really thought about the intersections of craft and “fine arts” or anything like that. But coming out of that its impossible to not be shaped by it, I am never going to be an academic painter. I like to work within the fine arts tradition while at the same time bastardizing that tradition through materials, but thats nothing new. I really like synthetic cubism. And witchcraft. And David Bowie. Preston: Is there anything else you want to say about your art or its contents? Brandon: Not really, just try to keep your chin up, and always do the right thing! More work is available at: http://sanslechien.tumblr.com/ http://brandonelijahjohnson.com/
WANT MORE MISCREANT? Dear Miscreants, I hope you all enjoyed issue 38 of the Miscreant! This one is a special issue; Lizzy and I are delighted to have Ra Ra Riot on the cover. Not to mention, we have some many awesome pieces in this issue. It never ceases to amaze me how many talented and thoughtful friends I have. Thank you to everyone who sent in their work! We have a lot of exciting stuff coming up! We have one more issue before graduation, which is insane. There’s no way to justifiably describe the past four years -- I’ll have a think on it for next issue. All I’d like to say is, that I cannot wait for what the future holds. Our goal is to have reached our 50th issue by the end of 2013. Naturally, this means we will need to have a huge, wild party in order to properly celebrate. Maybe some sort of kiki. There are also new things coming from Miscreant Records. Currently, I’m working with my wonderful gentlemen friends at Chill Mega Chill Records to release PORTALS second summer compilation album. I hope you all submit, and I can’t wait for you all to hear the final project! Also, Double Double Whammy and I have some goods a’cooking up for you. So, keep your hear to the ground and you needle to the record. Now, though, Issue 39 is now on deck! We have the lovely and talent folks from Breakfast In Fur on the cover for that issue. Submissions are due on April 22. Send in your favorite songs to play on the Taps jukebox, your interviews with your local Foghat cover band, your playlists for your sister’s wedding, anything to do with music. Email your work to email@example.com. Look to miscreantrecords.com and the Miscreant Facebook for more info on the music you read about here and more! And remember to check out all of the back issues of the Miscreant at issuu.com/themiscreant. All my love, The Miscreant