If everything is in a name, then surely Collapsing Scenery is a band for these “collapsing new times.” Indeed, these days it’s not so much “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” as it is “the more things stay the same, the worse they become for almost everyone.” See: the current and desperately cynical US Administration.
The LA duo actually take The Pet Shop Boys’ “Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat” philosophy literally here, with incisively relevant new single “Straight World Problems” (which BlackBook premieres here) apparently drawing on urbane post-punk references like Cabaret Voltaire and A Certain Ratio. They lay down one of 2017’s wickedest grooves to emphasize a semi-apocalyptic call to arms: “A new era is upon us / Is here to haunt us,” they decry over over a beat that sounds lifted straight from a gritty 80s Downtown NYC dancefloor.
“This song,” they explain, “is about the awful frequency with which new regimes and new systems mimic the worst qualities of those they replace. It’s painful for anyone fundamentally anti-establishment and instinctively critical of structural power to run up against the rocks of the reality of building new systems or, even worse, attempting to exist outside them altogether.”
So, with our utopian dreams extinguished, is this just a particularly groovy call to finally abandon all hope?
“It’s an anti-utopian song,” says singer Reggie Debris, “but I hope not a cynical one. I’m a huge believer in managing expectations, especially when it comes to politics. Dreaming of an unattainable, ideal future only leads to misery and disengagement when that future fails to materialize. That disappointment opens the field for other, usually opposing utopians to ply their vision; and as that cycle continues, it more often that not leads to escalating violence.”
Most worryingly, the song’s central mantra is, “Who’s gonna save you now?” Tragically, we have no idea.
(N.B. The video for the single will premiere tonight at a screening at Cafe Henri in NYC, with Director/Photographer Richard Kern on hand. CS will also play five California dates in late May.)
May 19- CS “Straight World Problems” single release party: The Friend. LA, CA
May 20- CS at 14th Factory. Highland Park, CA
May 22- CS at Blond Bar. SD, CA
May 24- CS at Brick and Mortar. SF, CA
May 25- CS at 1234 GO! in Oakland, CA
The arguably hottest, most fun couple in Hollywood, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, have delivered us a new gift of great wit, intelligence, and talent. The pair decided to spend Monday night recording famous The Devil Wears Prada scenes over Snapchat, to magical effect.
First up, there’s Chrissy serving some frosty editor just showered and decided to operate her Spring meeting from the closet floor:
There is certainly no shortage of buzzworthy American music festivals. But Moogfest, which debuted in New York in 2004, is genuinely set apart from the others, launched as it was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the greatest synthesizer company ever – Moog, of course – giving it something of an aesthetic and ideological mission. To that end, it has also acted as a lab for the cultivation of new ideas, from the cultural to the social to the political.
The festival (May 18-21) is now entering its second year in its new home of Durham, North Carolina. And it comes at a historic time – as the state’s divisive “bathroom bill,” designed to ignorantly discriminate against transgender people, was just overturned on March 30. It was a “hallelujah moment” for civil rights.
This year’s program is among its best, and most diverse ever. Here are just ten of the reasons you need to be there.
In addition to electronic icons like 808 State and Simian Mobile Disco, the Moogfest stages this year will hold art rockers Animal Collective, nu-goth goddess Zola Jesus, superstar DJ Derrick May, Syrian singer Omar Souleyman and rapper Mykki Blanco.
The Protest Stage
Certainly a response to the tense political and social climate under the Trump Administration, Moogfest 2017 will feature a dedicated Protest Stage – with, amongst others, a performance by hip-hop provocateur Talib Kweli.
The former R.E.M. frontman, who has been noticeably quiet since the band’s 2014 breakup, will premiere a new multi-media installation, soundtracked by his first ever solo composition.
SURVIVE members Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein will perform a live version of their score for the hit Netflix series Stranger Things – surely the most talked about new show of the last year.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist will join Haxan Cloak for what is being intriguingly described as a “durational” performance. It’s worth going just to see what they actually mean by that.
As vital a creative force as ever, the Labelle / Talking Heads legend will perform, and also conduct a discussion on her futuristic wearable tech instruments.
Peanut Butter Wolf
Will do an exclusive DJ set mixing the songs of recently deceased music legends, from Bowie and Prince, to Sharon Jones, George Michael and George Martin.
By Kate Shaw of CERN in Geneva, discussing the Large Hadron Collider – the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. Food for deep thought.
Will include discussions on such heady topics as Hacking Systems, Black Quantum Futurism, and Transhumanism.
The Future of Creativity
Always the most urgent, exigent topic for the worldwide creative community, it will be addressed by some of its greatest minds.
Ahead of their upcoming new album, Pollination, iconic rock-pop group Blondie have released a new single: “Fragments.” The song, Rolling Stonereports, is a cover of an Unkindness’ original moody folk song, now reimagined as an expansive, rocked-out banger, complete with fantastic guitar riffing and grovelly screlching on Debbie Harry’s behalf.
“Fragments” is the third track to be released ahead of Pollination, which comes out May 5. Previously, there’s been the lead single, “Fun,” and the Dev Hynes co-written song “Long Time.” Other collaborators said to be on the LP include Sia, Charli XCX, Laurie Anderson, Joan Jett, Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, and Nick Valensi of The Strokes. In essence, this album sounds very killer.
Take a listen to “Fragments” below:
Here’s Pollination’s tracklist, again thanks to Rolling Stone:
Dr. Luke is no longer the CEO of Kemosabe Records, according to The Hollywood Reporter. His name has been separated from the company’s on court papers, and the label has said he no longer posesses the authority to act on its behalf.
Luke (Lukasz Gottwald) created Kemosabe with Sony in 2011, and was responsible for producing many of the label’s biggest hits: “Wrecking Ball,” “Since U Been Gone,” “I Kissed A Girl,” as well as seerving as executive producer for the music of one of Kemosabe’s most successful chart-toppers: Ms. Kesha Rose Sebert.
Kesha filed claims in 2014 that Gottwald had coerced her into taking drugs and then raped her, as well as verbally abusing her and withholding her proper share of profits on smash hits like “Tik Tok.” What has ensued is a long, ugly legal battle in which Gottwald has countersued for defamation, and Kesha’s request to break contract and separate from Luke is now entering its third pending appeal.
As rumors surface that Dr. Luke and Sony may split – his page on Kemosabe’s website has also been taken down – Kesha fans rejoice. But it doesn’t mean the end of the road for the “We R Who We R” singer. Gottwald’s defamation case continues to build evidence for a pending trial, and this split from Sony does nothing to help dissuade the idea Kesha’s lawsuit has hurt his career. Plus, without Sony in the mix, Kesha will have to interact directly with Gottwald, her alleged abuser, in court.
Sofi Tukker, the dance-funk-jazz duo consisting of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern, two wildly different musical minds who met, naturally, at an art gallery while they both attended Brown. The pair exude two distinctly different energies as I sit down with them in the press tent backstage at Coachella: she, poised, reserved, in a sleek white jumpsuit and shiny ponytail; he, a faded band tee and a friendly but unaffected expression on his face.
The joining of their two tastes, sonically and visually, produces a show unlike other house acts at the festival – this one feels more intimate, tender. And I’m not the only one who thinks so: they’ve got fans pouring out the back of the Gobi tent at their Sunday afternoon set. But I had to know – how did two such strikingly dissimilar individuals decide to form a Grammy-nominated house duo?
How did you guys decide to form this group?
Sophie: We met in college, at Brown, studying very different things. I was studying conflict resolution and making Bassa Nova music, and Tuck was a house music DJ. We met at an art gallery, and we ended up remixing one of my songs, basically on the spot. We’ve kept collaborating every day since then, basically.
Is there an album on the way?
Tukker: We have enough songs ready for that, but we might not release it as an album. Probably a couple singles, and maybe an EP.
And some of the songs are sung in Portuguese… Are you Portuguese?
Sophie: I’m not, I just like it, so I learned it. I think it sounds so great.
Tukker: The songs we do in Portuguese are written by a contemporary Portuguese poet that we like, Chacal.
What setting do you imagine people listening to your music in?
Tukker: Probably on a beach. A tropical place. A little less hot than this (at Coachella).
Sophie: A place to find refuge, maybe.
The music feels very much like something listeners can find refuge in. Is that fair to say?
Sophie: That’s what we’re hoping for.
What are some ultimate career aspirations you both have for down the line?
Sophie: I think we want to see this band, and ourselves, become the best writers and performers we possibly can be. We want to feel as much joy, and share it with as many people, as we can.
Do you have a strong queer following? What would you say to your queer audiences, since it’s such a scary time right now… is there a message you have for people who are feeling afraid?
Tukker: Come to our shows, and you won’t have to feel afraid. And not like, “Come to our shows…” We’re actually aiming to bring excitement and joy to cities. Hopefully it transcends just the show. But we’re coming with open arms.
Sophie: It’s a scary time for all of us. And we’re all in this together, and trying to create as many spaces that allow you to be yourself as possible.
The concept of creating a safe and open space, even for a few hours, is really powerful.
Tukker: It’s one of the coolest things about dance music and club music in general. People feel like they can be wild, and open, and alive. Back in the 70s when it was even harder, or different, for queer and trans people, that whole musical world has always been so welcome to all types of people. And that’s totally what we’re about, and that’s why we make dance music.
Who are contemporaries right now that you take inspiration from, and who did you grow up listening to?
Sophie: Our answers are super, super different. Contemporaries: one of our favorite artists right now is Stromae. He’s just the pinnacle. I spent a lot of time growing up listening to jazz, and Brazilian jazz, and Bossa Nova. And I was training in West African dance at school, and writing folk music.
Tukker: And I was the opposite – rap and hip hop. I played basketball most of my life, through college, and so I was around rap a lot. I got into punk in high school. And then house music, when I got a little older, really took over my life.
Can I ask what your relationship is? Are you two just friends? Is that weird to ask?
Sophie: (Laughing) Yeah, you can ask. We’re just friends.
Tukker: We’re the perfect wingmen for eachother.
Ok, so then how do both of you relate to the word ‘queer?’ Is that something you would label yourselves as? Smile at respectfully from a distance?
Sophie: Gosh, I have no idea. I have a lot of friends who identify as queer. I don’t know how I identify. I try not to identify. I don’t know if that’s the most mature way – but I’m young. I’m figuring myself out.
Tukker: My relationship to the word… I’m not queer, but most of the people in my life are. So it’s a word – I feel comfort. I feel like I have a lot in common with queer people, even if that’s not how I personally sexually identify.
Check out the music video for their Grammy-nominated song, “Drinkee,” sung in Portuguese, below:
The felon-turned-supermodel Jeremy Meeks was deported from the UK after attempting to enter London on business, Daily Mailreports.
We’re all familiar at this point with the “hot felon,” who rose to viral status after his mugshot was released by the California police back in 2014. He had been arrested on gun charges for posession of a semiautomatic pistol.
A post shared by JEREMY MEEKS (@jmeeksofficial) on
After his release from prison in 2016, Meeks was immediately signed to White Cross Management, and has since embarked on an impressive modeling career, walking in the Phillip Plein show at NYFW this past winter and appearing on the upcoming cover of Man About Town, out this Thursday.
Meeks was headed into London for his cover launch party, as well as, reportedly, to shoot a number of upcoming editorials. But when he touched down at Heathrow Airport, Meeks was immediately stopped and subjected to eight hours of fingerprinting and questioning. He was forced to return to America, leaving his wife as well as his manager, Jim Jordan, in the UK.
To Daily Mail, Jordan explained: “He wasn’t arrested but they deported him out of the country. They wouldn’t let him come into the country. He is really upset. He was police-escorted onto the plane.”
Meeks posted this video venting his frustration after the incident:
It’s been a year since Lemonade dropped and revolutionized music, film, culture, and political activism. Now, as she celebrates the anniversary of her best work yet, Beyoncé has announced the creation of the Formation Scholars – full college scholarships for four young women – one for each of the participatings institutions: Berklee College of Music, Howard University, Parsons School of Design, and Spelman College.
On her site, Bey explained: “To add to the celebration of the one-year anniversary of Lemonade, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter announces the establishment of Formation Scholars awards for the 2017-2018 academic year, to encourage and support young women who are unafraid to think outside the box and are bold, creative, conscious and confident.”
Scholarships may only be used by women for the study of creative arts, music, literature or African-American studies. The funding is part of the #BeyGOOD initiative, an organization which has in the past provided funding for such causes as those affected by the Flint water crisis and to homeless populations and sick children around the world.
Director Daniel Y-Li Grove’s debut feature gives a neo-noir depiction of the Persian organized crime underbelly of LA. Having premiered at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, The Persian Connection features a strong cast set against a familiar stylized genre.
Behrouz was a child soldier who survived the Iraq-Iran war just to be smuggled to the streets of LA where he was kept under close watch of Iranian mobster Cirrus Golshiri. For years, he dreams of escaping the life of organized crime. When he’s brought face to face with Cirrus at a poker game, he’s accused of stealing drugs which he and his girlfriend must track down in order to clear his name.
The Persian Connection is coming soon to theaters. Watch the trailer below: