Reader music editor
Godflesh at Metro on April 15 After hearing Godflesh mastermind Justin Broadrick mention “body-destroying beats,” I wanted this set to pound me to jelly, and I left pleasantly tenderized. It’s a metal cliche that the folks who make the most antisocial music are the nicest in person, and Broadrick was friendly and unassuming—and happy with how his Reader interview had turned out!
The Breeders, Pod Inspired by the 20th-anniversary foofaraw about the Breeders’ Last Splash, I relistened to Pod, because I can’t do anything right. I’ve worn out the cassette I bought in 1990, so I downloaded a copy from Amazon, and I still have every note memorized. Singsong and sinister, Pod marries playfully cryptic lyrics to stark, wiry Steve Albini production that gives its brick-wall dynamic shifts even more power—when a loud part erupts, it feels like you’re running downhill faster than your legs can keep up. Sometimes coy and pretty, sometimes freighted with blood-deep secrets, this album would’ve convinced certain of our ancestors that Kim Deal is a witch.
The Great Old Ones, Tekeli-Li Progressive French black-metal band the Great Old Ones adore H.P. Lovecraft, but unlike, say, Antediluvian, they don’t sound like his shape-shifting transdimensional horrors—they share more with his desperate heroes, pursuing madness like big-game hunters. The songs remind me of Isis in their grand gestures and long, tangled paths, but their surfaces are knotted, crazed, and abrasive. Bonus: The dramatic spoken-word bits are in French, so I can’t understand them well enough to know if I should cringe at them.
Philip is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
The Punk Singer: A Film About Kathleen Hanna As soon as I saw it at the Music Box, The Punk Singer became my favorite music documentary. (It’s now on Netflix and iTunes.) You don’t need to be a fan of riot grrrl to appreciate the journey Hanna has made, bringing girls to the front—both at shows and in the music-community consciousness—and fielding criticism and backlash at every turn, all the while suffering a mysterious illness in private. But if you are a fan of Bikini Kill or Le Tigre, you’ll find yourself clapping and cheering and making a mental list of every teenage girl you’re giving a copy this Christmas.
Questlove’s essay “When the People Cheer: How Hip-Hop Failed Black America” When I read this first entry in Questlove’s new series for Vulture, I felt like I was back in college and had just sat down in what was about to become my favorite class of the semester. Perhaps due to the ubiquity of Vietnam-era protest songs in my home when I was growing up, I’ve always felt more drawn to music that means something in addition to having a good beat, and in this series, Questlove aims to explore what hip-hop meant and means today and should mean in the future. It would behoove us all to sit down, shut up, read, and learn.
Alvin & the Chipmunks, Urban Chipmunk Browsing the dollar bin at the CHIRP Record Fair, I couldn’t resist the hilarity of a country album by Alvin & the Chipmunks. It’s hard to imagine how this ever got made, much less went gold in 1981. This is definitely going on the record player the next time my four-year-old nephew comes over.
Jenny is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Smart Bar talent buyer, aka the Black Madonna
Hi-NRG disco Hi-NRG disco is a particularly upbeat, often electronic kind of disco that really started to come together at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the ’80s, an era we often mistakenly associate with the death of disco. In reality, disco simply went back underground, which at that time also meant it became much, much more homocentric. The capitals of Hi-NRG in America were the country’s gay capitals, Fire Island and San Francisco, though there were important centers in Europe too. RIP Patrick Cowley.
Frankie Knuckles’s mix of the Pet Shop Boys’ “I Want a Dog” The world lost Frankie Knuckles at the end of March, and I still find myself returning to this track. He was a resident at Smart Bar and a dear friend of the club for more than three decades. This often overlooked gem has only gotten better and richer with time. The beautiful dark sound fits perfectly with Neil Tennant’s voice. We will miss Frankie very much.
Dance-music culture in Pittsburgh I’m currently loving that Pittsburgh is becoming such a clubbing hot spot, and by that I mean they have a regular party in a bathhouse called Hot Mass that totally slays most major clubs. I just played there two weeks ago, and it was one of the best parties I’ve been to in ages. And then after the show, I went to the most magnificent record store, a place called Jerry’s. It’s about the size of a city block. This incomprehensibly large space could just swallow you whole. Pittsburgh has it going on.