The dates refer to those of the waning crescent moon. Tonight is the first in the series in which witches and people of various spiritual and religious affiliations around the world will take part in a midnight ritual spell to bind Donald Trump and all those who abet him. The event has brought together magic communities around the world for a common purpose, with a website and a Facebook page for people to share tips and find others participating.
Adam Bravin was best known as one half of the hip darkwave duo She Wants Revenge, whose post-punk-referencing singles like “These Things,” “Tear You Apart” and “Out of Control” made them a hit with the cool kids in the latter half of the Oughts. He also mans the decks as DJ Adam 12 – and his talents have been appreciated by everyone from Stevie Wonder to Prince to Barack Obama.
His new project is the brilliantly monikered Love, Ecstasy and Terror, which was the result of fellow SWR member Justin Warfield pushing him to go out on his own – with impressive results. Here we premiere the first LXT video, for the track “Carousel,” and chat with Bravin about his musical mission, terrifying relationships, and DJing for the President.
There’s almost a later Beatles-y vibe to the new material. What was your musical vision for LXT?
My mission was to express myself as honestly and as thoroughly as possible. It was the first time in my life that I felt I could incorporate all of the music that has become a part of me. I wanted to create something cinematic, in a sense. I love music that makes me feel, makes me think and makes me envision a world that may or may not exist. I’d like to think that this music accomplishes the same thing.
Is there a particular meaning behind the name?
Almost all of the romantic relationships I’ve had in my life have included moments of love, moments of ecstasy, and definitely moments of terror.
Does She Wants Revenge still exist?
Yes. Justin and I see each other all the time. We celebrated the 10 year anniversary of our debut album last year, and spent most of the year touring, playing our first album in its entirety. We recorded a new song about a year ago, and will most likely record a new song or two sometime this year, if time permits.
You still DJ around LA. What have you been doing specifically?
I promote and DJ three nights currently: Giorgio’s, which is a private party, mostly 70s disco and funk, with a little 80s R&B, electro and freestyle. It’s located inside the Mmhmm lounge in The Standard Hotel, Hollywood. Also Cloak & Dagger, which is a members only club that everyone must wear all black to get in. I only play music that’s “dark, everything from Depeche Mode to Wu-Tang Clan. It’s located at 1666 McCadden Place in Hollywood. And finally AFEX, which is a throwback party. 1979 – 2005 hip hop, classics and breaks only. Every last Friday at The Satellite in Silver Lake. Always off the hook.
You DJ’d for Barack Obama. What was that like?
As a DJ, it doesn’t really get any bigger than that. It was an honor and a privilege to offer my services to President Obama, who was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. He’s just like you imagine he would be. I’ve been fortunate to live a lifetime DJing for some of the most amazing people in the world, Prince, Michael Jackson, Dr. Dre, Diddy, Stevie Wonder, the list goes on and on…but this was a whole other level. Coolest job ever.
What songs would you DJ for Donald Trump?
I would never DJ for him. If it were in a dream (or a nightmare) I would most likely play “Impeach the President” by The Honeydrippers.
When electroclash took over the scene from New York to London to everywhere else that mattered at the turn of the Millennium, confrontational Detroit duo ADULT. had already begun resuscitating the darker aesthetic and lyrical tenets of 80s Euro-electro. Yet while so many of their peers were churning out opulent kitsch-deesko, Adam Lee Miller instead conjured a sonic palette which was jittery, foreboding, and cold but sensual, as front-banshee Nicola Kuperus wailed lyrics about human corruption, psychological emptiness and, well, all manner of everyday anxieties. (Indeed, they named a 2003 album Anxiety Always.)
They went on to transcend any genre classification, and to establish a signature brand of Teutonic techno-metal-pop. No surprise, they’re really big in Germany. Nicola also became a prominent art photographer, noted for the rather gruesome humor of her “death scene” tableaux.
Now they’re back with their first new album in four years, edifyingly titled Detroit House Guests – and due for release March 17 on Mute. Indeed, they invited several of their most bellicose, uncompromising musical friends – including Michael Gira of Swans, Douglas J. McCarthy of Nitzer Ebb, and Light Asylum’s awesome Shannon Funchess – out to their Motor City studio for what turned out to be some very electrifying recording sessions.
Highlights? Gira and Kuperus forcefully chant “Nonsense / No sense” over the eerie buy absorbing dissonance of “Breathe On”; McCarthy’s haunting baritone lends a portentous edge to the infectious, Depeche Mode-like synth pop of “They’re Just Words”; and Funchess unleashes her feral beast on the sinister-but-groove-heavy “We Chase the Sound.” In the overall, Detroit House Guests impressively exhibits the astonishing breadth of their creative purview, while seemingly following a clear thematic arc.
We caught up with the pair for a chat about cultural overload, public vs. private persona, and, of course, anxiety.
Tension has always been your stock in trade, huh?
NK I think so. And anxiety.
There’s a lot of anxiety now.
ALM It’s interesting, we’re putting together our live set – and we were shocked by how these songs written during the Bush era still sound so current.
NK As artists, we were always there to speak for the disenfranchised.
There’s a lyric on the album, “All that we perceive might be otherwise / These words that you say might be all lies.” It’s pretty spot on for our current situation.
NK It is, but these are things that we’re always dealing with. The day Trump came into office, we were jamming to Dead Kennedys and Crass – and it’s amazing how relevant those albums are still.
ALM I also think that Nicola writes lyrics that are very open ended – that can shift as the state of the nation shifts.
Worringly, though, there seems to be nothing provocative happening in music right now.
NK & ALM I agree.
There’s the theory that technology has taken over for culture.
ALM Well, we’ve been watching this CNN program that goes through the 60s, 70s…and the first 80s episode is all about television. Plenty of people thought TV was going to kill culture and make everyone mindless. But I don’t envy the young now, because I don’t know what that must be like – for everything to be on all the time. And everything is so public. It has to be exhausting at a level that I don’t think people completely understand yet.
NK And people now feel that everything they do is important; they feel entitled to the attention.
Everyone just says what they’re thinking without actually…thinking.
ALM If you would have told me that our President would be tweeting at five in the morning…how did it get to that level of pervasiveness?
Shannon Funchess is incredible, isn’t she?
NK She is a powerhouse. Just to have her in the studio and to listen to that voice, that power coming out of her…it’s really inspiring.
Despite all the guests, though, the album feels remarkably cohesive.
NK It is a real journey in sound and in narrative, yes.
It’s especially great to hear Douglas McCarthy on a couple of songs. Nitzer Ebb arguably got ghettoized by the “industrial” tag. But they’re much more important and influential than they’re given credit for.
NK Absolutely. They always challenged their audience, and that’s what we are always trying to do.
There’s the lyric, “This is the way the body works.” And both bands have always explored the mind/body divide – the battle between the physical and the psychological.
NK The past couple of years I’ve been interested in the concept of the “front stage” and “back stage.” The author Erving Goffman wrote a book called The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, about how we all have a front stage physicality, and a back stage that’s more psychological.
With all the cultural clatter of these modern times, how hard is it to stay important and relevant?
NK That’s a complicated question. You always have to promote yourself as an artist – it’s just different now. Ultimately you have to keep working and just do good work.
Does this record still represent ADULT. being an oppositional force? Do you hope that you can still rouse people?
ALM Certainly we do. We still put absolutely everything into what we do.
Finally, how did depressed Detroit suddently become the new cool place?
NK I’m not sure how cool it actually is. But being in Detroit we never have to compromise anything we do – because we live insanely cheaply. So artists can support themselves here. But even Detroit, like so many other places now, is on the verge of that, “Will it keep its integrity?” moment.
Admittedly, when we stayed at the Four Seasons hotel in Philadelphia a few years back, we loved the space and the location – but found the vibe to be a little, well…stiff. So we returned intrigued after the property had been rebranded as The Logan Philadelphia, Curio Collection by Hilton.
The slightly complicated moniker has to do with it being a part of the newish Hilton boutique brand, meant to allow each hotel to express its particular individuality. Indeed, nothing about it suggests following any sort of corporate-issued blueprint. Immediately upon entering, one is greeted by the chic, fireplace-adorned Commons Lounge & Library, with its cooly mismatched furnishings and wall of windows overlooking the comely courtyard – making it feel like a sort of home-away-from-home for those with impeccable stylistic proclivities.
Notably, the hotel’s commissioned art collection makes clever reference to the city itself. A spectacular chandelier/installation, for instance, holds images of famous Philadelphians, and dangles dramatically above the lobby entrance. And a set of intriguing wire sculptures guards the elevator bank, a striking tribute to Philly’s storied Schuykill Regatta rowing team.
The rooms are still plush, but now sleeker and brighter – request one with a view of Logan Circle and its monumental historic architecture. But our favorite feature? The swish Library & Billiards Room just off the lobby lounge, where we sank a few (yes, you can take that as a double entendre) before our evening activities. It must be said, that far too few hotels have one.
Philly itself has always been one of our fave weekend getaways for food, culture and especially live music. It’s also a particularly poignant time, for obvious reasons, to revisit the Birthplace of American Democracy. Here’s how to do it best, with The Logan as your HQ.
Now moved to its architecturally spectacular new home quite nearby to the hotel, it’s a life-altering collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early modern works – as well as African sculpture and Native American textiles. It also has a film screening series, and “mixer” nights for budding art aficionados.
Recently ranked as the third most important museum in America, its staggering collection of more than 240,000 works has just been augmented by the addition of the New South Asian Galleries. A current exhibition not to be missed is Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage.
The Independent Gallery Scene
Philly creative types have the advantage of operating a bit outside the pressures of major market trends – so one can expect art of a less self-conscious, more provocative sort. The best galleries in which to immerse oneself in the scene are Pentimenti,Wexler and Paradigm Gallery + Studio, pictured below.
Nearby to the Logan, the park renowned for its beloved Robert Indiana “LOVE” sculpture is getting a $16 makeover. It will become a great springtime hang, with more green space, fountains and, as it goes these days, zeitgeisty food trucks.
The Logan’s trendily monikered restaurant actually manages to avoid all the farmy, Portlandia cliches. Dinner means some of the best steaks in the city (i.e. Kansas Creekstone Prime); but brunch is the real scene, with veggie frittatas, blue crab omelets, popcorn grits and a groovy, energetic crowd.
Yes, they’re now in New York, Boston, D.C., Chicago…but this is where it all started. And don’t let some persnickety hipster barista tell you otherwise – La Colombe still serves the best coffee, period. Hit the Rittenhouse Square location, which retains a cool Boho vibe; and while you’re there, go all connoisseur and take home something from their rare Workshop collection…like the Lycello Blue Geisha or the Kenya – Karogoto.
The S. 18th Street Restaurant Scene
Just a short walk from the hotel, you can satisfy virtually every culinary craving imaginable within a four block stretch. There’s Stephen Starr’s The Dandelion for modern pub food in a cool, Anglophilic setting; Bar Bombon for buffalo cauliflower tacos and a serious mezcal list; a.kitchen + bar (pictured below) for bourgeois-chic style, killer martinis and mod bistro eats; Tria for Euro-y cheese-charcuterie-wine pairings; and Starr’s perpetually hip Parc, for a Europhile crowd sating on brasserie classics like steak tartare and trout amandine.
If you can hold out until spring, the Logan’s rooftop bar is the chicest in the city, offering a striking overview of Philly’s most storied architecture and a notable selection of champers by the glass.
The Music Scene
Want to see a band, minus all the bored/boring, arms-folded hipsterati cluttering up venues in WBurg and Silver Lake? Make the rounds of Philly’s legendary venues like Electric Factory, The Trocadero and The TLA…or the newer Union Transfer – which in the coming weeks will feature the likes of Austra, Parquet Courts and The Suicide Girls Blackheart Burlesque. Other shows coming up in the city include Kings of Leon, Devandra Banhart and Talib Kweli.
It’s not hard to believe that both Faye Wellman and Matt Hogan of LA electro-pop duo TVRQUOISE have had formal training in music; indeed, the pair met in Boston while they were studying at the Berklee College of Music. And their music exhibits as much a classicism as it does whimsy.
Their new self-titled EP, which BlackBook premieres here, is an entrancing masterwork of dreamlike sonics and emotional longing. “Calling Out,“ in particular, recalls the ethereal enigma of the Cocteau Twins. Yet other tracks, like the gorgeous “Ides of March” and the sexy “Paralyzed Legs,“ marry gossamer atmospherics with an R&B-like warmth and sensuality.
The EP is officially released this Friday, February 24 – the perfect soundtrack for a late winter’s weekend.
If you’ve ever been in love – truly, madly in love – you’ll recall how evocative was the power of scent: something that he always cooked, a perfume that she always wore.
Cool New York indie quartet Citris wants to jog your memory thusly, with the exceedingly catchy new single “Coco Chanel” – a song about the remembrance of feelings, as experienced through scent. In this case, of course, it’s likely the immemorial No. 5.
“‘Coco Chanel’ is about wanting a love that never fades and comparing it to a Chanel perfume,” explains singer Angelina Torreano. “It inevitably wears off, but one can always remember the smell of the perfume because of their love and identification with the scent. In lots of ways, love is like perfume; you have to apply and reapply. Some get old, some are timeless. Chanel is timeless. The song is a nod and wink to the past and a dance to the future.”
BlackBook premiere’s the video for the song here – in which a quartet of cheerleaders (one of them Torreano) grooves along to some of the most infectious power-pop riffs this side of an Elastica record.
When Please Kill Me, the Uncensored Oral History of Punk, was released in 1996, it garnered immediate praise for its decadent first person accounts of the birth of the bad-behavior-masquerading-as-art known now as New York punk. Comprised solely of interviews with and stories from the originators of the scene, it helped define the oral history literary genre, while providing a car-crash narrative from the likes of Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, assorted Ramones, Debbie Harry, Malcolm McLaren, and sundry other of those responsible for it all.
Recently given a twentieth anniversary makeover by writers/editors Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, the new edition adds photos and an afterward, and gives us another chance to live vicariously through a look at a time in New York when life, drugs and friendships were cheap and fast, and the best art happened late at night in some very dark places.
Here are some of the best moments…
“We all knew something revolutionary was happening. We just felt it. Things couldn’t look this strange and new without some barrier being broken.”
“Andy would show his movies on us. We wore black so you could see the movie. But we were all wearing black anyway.”
“When we came to New York to play Ungano’s I went up to see Bill Harvey, the general manager of Electra, and said, ‘I can’t possibly do four gigs in a row without drugs – hard drugs. Now it’s gonna cost this much money and I’ll pay you back…’ It was like a business proposition right? And he’s looking at me like ‘I do not believe this.'”
“[Punk Magazine co-founders] John Holmstrom and his living cartoon creature Legs McNeil were two maniacs running around town putting up signs that said “PUNK IS COMING!” We thought, Here comes another shitty group with an even shittier name.”
“Rock & roll is so great people should start dying for it. People are dying for everything else, so why not the music?”
“I always thought a punk was someone who took it up the ass.”
“I tried to make it with a chick once and thought it was a drag. She was too soft. I like hardness. I like to feel a male chest. I like bone. I like muscle. I don’t like all that soft breast.”
“When Nancy Spungen came into my shop it was as if Dr. Strangelove had sent us this dreaded disease, specifically to England, and specifically to my store. I tried every single way possible either to get her run over, poisoned, kidnapped, or shipped back to New York.”
“I never had kids screaming at me particularly; they’d scream at David Bowie not me. Me? They would throw syringes and joints on the stage.”
Though based in Los Angeles, former Port O’Brien frontman Van Pierszalowski hauled himself all the way to Oslo in 2011 after his band’s breakup. There he birthed the new project Waters, whose new record, Something More!, is coming…around May?
In the meantime, they’re teasing with the exuberant new single “Hiccups” – which has a Weezer-ish sort of power-pop sneer, but with Beatlesy melodies and atmospherics. It apparently was borne of a not-very-good-time for its author.
“It’s been a brutal 12 months,” Pierszalowski confesses. “It’s also been the perfect time to make a rock and roll record. The songs on Something More! reflect the anxieties, claustrophobia and subsequent drive for meaning in a time of personal and global crisis. Despite all that, or really because of it, we wanted to make a fun record – to embrace the fuck-ups along the way as part of the struggle.”
BlackBook premieres the very philosophical song here.
Just when you think winter blues and divisive politics have completely sapped your will to go on, The Kills reappear like the true rock & roll saviors they are. On the new-wavey new single “Whirling Eye” (from 2016 album Ash & Ice), Alison Mosshart gets incisively philosophical, observing “What you want is hard to find,” and posing the question, “Do you need what I got?” Yes. Alison, we really do.
The spirited video, directed by Sophie Muller (who has worked with Gwen Stefani, The Killers and Blur) shows Mosshart and partner-in-mischief Jamie Hince grooving in the streets and rocking out underground. Because, you know, what else would they be doing?
“Get the vision / Get the vision / Come on!,” Alison implores.