Thursday 2013-01-10, 12:04am
Sometimes I ask music historian Andy Zax about music-biz stuff, and every time it’s entertaining. Our talk below took place in July of 2012; I was working on a piece about multiartist compilations when we got into talking about licensing, a fairly narrow topic he knew firsthand and well. It sheds some light, as well, on the changes in the music business over the last twenty years.
Thursday 2013-01-10, 12:01am
Twenty-three years ago I became a woman, in a way. This advent of femininity did not happen in a decorated ballroom or at a presentation about “protection” presented by the school nurse; it happened at a hockey arena on Hempstead Turnpike in Uniondale, New York, during the first rock concert of my lifetime. Because during this night—on which Warrant and Mötley Crüe played—I got to see Tommy Lee’s butt for the first time.
Thursday 2013-01-10, 12:00am
As members of ’90s emo band Texas Is The Reason slowly walked out of the dark to their instruments at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, you could hear the dense, spiderwebbing guitars of their one instrumental, “Do You Know Who You Are?,” issue from the speakers in neat overhead streams. The stage was traced with small circular lights, as if powered by tiny, diminished suns. During their two-show 2006 reunion, the band were enhanced by dynamic, interweaving spotlights; this setup felt as if they were consciously creating a new environment, tended by warmth.
Guitarist Norman Brannon played the opening chords of “Antique”: a few drifting chords that seem very near one another, that feel naturally related, like bodies of water. Garrett Klahn sings in one note that sounds painfully excavated; it resembles a stream pushing gravel. All of the band’s music has a watery aspect, actually—each song gives off the sense that it will feed into a larger or smaller embodiment of itself.
Thursday 2013-01-03, 12:02am
It’s easy to be giddy about Wreck-It Ralph, Disney’s answer to Toy Story for those whose toys are virtual. It involves being a kid, or at least an ’80s kid, with eyes wide like quarters, muscle memory zippy from years of gaming, and hearts young enough to embrace animation, arcade games, and snarky neon pipsqueaks with names like Vanellope von Schweetz. (There are lots of them; the movie rode the nostalgia wave to high box-office grosses and an early HD release next month.) It’s equally easy to be cynical. It helps to be a critic. It helps to have any of the following: ready arguments about Disney vs. Pixar; an instinctual distrust of nostalgia and memes; cascading visions of Fix-It Felix Jr. arcade games in theme parks once the Angry Birds midway games go stale, Felix ports for Xbox and PS3 and PC and iOS and garage-door clickers, puffy Ralph plushies and Vanellope-shaped fondant trinkets multiplying everywhere. Either stance is fine, though this film rewards the easy route. Wreck-It Ralph, fittingly, is structured like a game. The hero (of sorts) is Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly, in wry mode), an intermittently villainous bad guy who resembles an inflatable Kiddy Kong. His days consist of smashing up buildings and being chucked into the mud for it; his nights are spent alone in the village landfill. The villagers hate him, partly because of his vague rage and partly because he spends his days smashing up their buildings. The game’s hero, Fix-It Felix, is cordial enough to Ralph when he’s not getting medals for thwarting him, but this cordiality doesn’t extend to party invites. Ralph guilts his way in to one, and after some faux pas and fracas he gets an ultimatum from one of the crabbier guests: sure, you can hang out in the penthouse—in the impossible event that you’re a good enough guy to get your own medal.