Let’s be honest, only the most naive were shocked to learn that the Hollywood “casting couch” was still a thing. But in October 2017, the floodgates opened wide on a scandal that even by entertainment biz standards seemed particularly shameful.
Indeed, dozens of women at last came forward with stories of sexual predation by Miramax founder and industry overlord Harvey Weinstein. From it was birthed the epochal, era-defining #MeToo movement, a chance for women to proclaim very publicly that this was a situation that would categorically no longer be tolerated. Weinstein was rightly dethroned, and a conversation was initiated that to this day remains ambivalent – reminding once again of the considerable depths of patriarchal entrenchment.
Turning his own medium against him, Hulu will release Untouchable this September, a documentary assembling myriad accusations by women including such high-profile actresses as Rosanna Arquette and Paz del le Huerta. In it, Weinstein’s supposed intimidation tactics are compared to those of a “gangster.”
Justice, one hopes, will play out in a courtroom this fall; but in the meantime, these exceedingly wronged women will also have their day and their say on the small screen. Heartbreaking as it promises to be, Untouchable will surely be the season’s most essential viewing.
In the decades following the second coming of the Renaissance that was post-punk, no band has so personified an unshakeable way of life as has The Cure. Whilst also finding their way onto the playlists of suburban housewives and stockbrokers, they stood fast as the immutable emotional sanctuary for those who had been “chosen” to lead a life of enduring, raven-haired gothiness – those who would rather lose a limb than give up their scratchy vinyl copy of Disintegration.
Robert Smith loves all them very much – and is never at a loss for new ways to remind them of that. The latest is a glorious box set, dramatically titled 40 Live – CURÆTION-25 + Anniversary, which gathers together the thrilling and chilling live footage from their final night show at the 25th Meltdown Festival in London in June of 2018 (which Robert curated), titled CURÆTION-25: From There To Here | From Here To There, as well as their already legendary ANNIVERSARY: 1978-2018 Live In Hyde Park London 40th anniversary show – the latter directed by longtime co-conspirator Tim Pope.
“[It] really was the perfect way to celebrate forty years of the band,” Smith still beams of the night. “It was a fabulous day none of us will ever forget.”
The Cure: 40 Live – CURÆTION-25 + Anniversarylimited edition Deluxe Box includes gatefold 2x Blu-ray/DVD and 4x CDs, with eight+ hours of footage from both concerts, as well as a 40 page hardback book. The limited edition Hardbook includes 2x Blu-rays/DVDs and 16 page booklet. CURÆTION-25 and Anniversary are also available as standalone DVDs. Release date for all is October 18, via Eagle Rock).
Should all that somehow not be enough to satisfy your gothy little heart, the band have been teasing the possibility of more Disintegration 30th Anniversary shows, following on from four enchanted evenings at The Sydney Opera House back in May.
“So just pull on your hair / Just pull on your pout…
Fierce, intelligent, and with an almost intimidating presence tempered by an uncommon beauty, Amanda Palmer has continuously, powerfully voiced our fear, anger and paranoia when we were often most at a loss for how to express it ourselves. Consider her previous single, “Voicemail for Jill,” in which she so viscerally articulates the isolation of abortion at a time when others see fit to merely exploit it.
Her latest, “Drowning In The Sound” – which sounds like “Hounds of Love” achieved cultural detente with “Bennie & the Jets” – relies more openly on metaphor. Though the message is still very clear: as the planet races towards certain oblivion, an alienated global populace falls paralyzed and overpowered, unable to muster any plan for reversing the madness.
“The media’s not fake / It’s just very inconvenient,” Palmer lyrically admonishes…and she couldn’t be more dead on. But creating a fitting visual companion to the song’s thematic urgency proved a particular challenge.
As she puts it, “The overwhelming news about climate change, the politics of a woke and devastated internet, the isolation that everybody is feeling right now…how do you make a music video about that?”
But as usual, she decisively answers her own question, with the fantastical new Michael Pope directed video for the “Drowning In The Sound.” She and he share a 15-year creative partnership that goes back to the Dresden Dolls classic “Girl Anachronism”; and here, they endeavor a deconstructionist take on modern ballet to exceedingly dramatic effect. With it, they somehow manage to convey all the anxiety of environmental apocalypse, as well as the puissant primacy of motherhood, with an astonishing seamlessness.
“We’ve always bitten off more than we could chew,” she rightly boasts, “and this video was no exception. The set itself was a healing space: all of these performers and crew gathered together to try to pull off something sort of impossible on a shoestring budget. Coco [Karol], our choreographer and my new-found friend, was seven months pregnant when we shot the footage; and the whole cast and crew almost revolved around that baby inside her.”
No surprise considering the dependably holistic Amanda Palmer gestalt, it traces a visceral, ideological line right back to “Voicemail For Jill.”
“Coco and I both experienced painful miscarriages a few years ago,” Palmer opens up, “and we took turns carrying each other through the dark. This project was a sort of a healing ritual for us both, and we wanted the video to feel like the crossroads between brutal hopelessness and passionate hope – which is what everybody seems to be feeling nowadays.”
The track appears on her brilliant new album There Will Be No Intermission, which is as unrelenting as its title suggests. She’ll take all that relentlessness on the road, launching a 33-date European tour in Amsterdam on September 4.
There’s no way to overestimate the explosive impact The Strokes had on the early aughts music scene, especially in their own home town of NYC. Coming off an era dominated by lunkheaded, post-grunge dood rock (Creed, Nickelback), heinous pop-punk (Blink 182), and…shudder…nu-metal (Limp… oh never mind), Julian Casablancas and company’s sneering, very modern, and totally electrifying (not to mention, often drunk) take on post punk power pop was the coolest thing since “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
The punters reacted accordingly. And from the release of their universally adored debut album Is This It in 2001, through to a well-deserved break in 2007, the cool kids hung on their every word (and chord), and packed out every show. But playing and partying non-stop for nearly a decade, they eventually started to unravel a bit. After all, being in the hottest band in the land at 25 came with its share of intoxicating distractions.
Since 2013’s Comedown Machine, save for the 2016 Future Present Past EP, it’s been mostly side projects and solo releases for Casablancas, Albert Hammond Jr., Nikolai Fraiture, Nick Valensi and Fabrizio Moretti. Some even decamped from their beloved Gotham for more…suburban surrounds.
But you can bet the farm that we’ll be front and center for a just-announced, and sure-to-be-massive Strokes New Year’s Eve gig at the Barclays Center, part of a handful of high-profile festival shows that include Lima and Mexico City. And though those heady days are long gone (immortalized in the decadent 2017 book Meet Me in the Bathroom), and we’re arguably healthier for that, we may just have to bust out the skinny jeans and low-level intoxicants for this one.
Though Melanie Martinez rose to public acclaim in the most conventional of ways – as a contestant on The Voice – it was obvious there was something intriguingly kooky about her. Sure enough, as her 2015 debut album Cry Baby (we like to think it was named for the John Waters film) rocketed her to fame, she retained a noticeable similarity to such eccentric fringe dwellers as Dresden Dolls, Regina Spektor and CocoRosie.
So her “warning” in 2017 that she would be producing a film tied directly to each song on her second album, left many assuming it would make Lady Gaga seem like Dora the Explorer. And, judging from this first trailer for K-12…it does.
Shot on location in Budapest, Ms. Martinez assumes the character of Cry Baby (we do love a bit of meta), in some utterly surreal, wonderfully pastel, and deeply disturbing amalgam of Marie Antoinette, Clueless and Carrie. For the sake of it, let’s just say that Billie Eilish looks awfully calculated and commonplace by comparison.
The complete film will premiere in New York and Los Angeles theaters on September 5 – and the K-12 album is planned for release the following day. Obviously, things will only get weirder from there.
If you were Chuck D in 2019, you might think life couldn’t get better. The Gods of Rap Tour – Public Enemy, Wu-Tang Clan and De La Soul – is just off three sold out nights in London, Manchester and Glasgow in May…with apparently more to come. And his killer 2018 solo album Celebration of Ignorance – with its Trump-slamming track “TiredOf45”- won raves from critics and fans.
But TMZ has just obtained paperwork bringing to light a startling lawsuit, filed by the legendary rapper, claiming his label and publishing company had been ripping him off to an astonishing degree. It alleges that he was duped into signing a contract in 2001 with Global Music and Terrordome Music Publishing, which would essentially strip him of his songwriting royalties. Documents surfaced in February that led the Public Enemy frontman to realize that he had seemingly been hoodwinked for years, causing him to lose a 42% stake in his own music catalog.
The suit is demanding $1 million in damages, and the restoration of ownership of his songs. All involved parties are not commenting on the record – though it is likely to blow up into a very public case.
The reason that it matters even beyond Chuck D and this lawsuit is that, at a time when the value of creating music is being persistently diminished, artists more than ever have to do whatever they can to fight to protect and control ownership over their own work. Expect to hear much more about the case in the coming weeks.
Scott Hansen doesn’t have an identity crisis. He simply has too much going on to be just one person.
And so he is sometimes the photographer-designer ISO50. But mostly he is Tycho, who has been making iconoclastic electronic music since 2002 – and, as of 2010, inviting a cadre of permanent co-conspirators to join him under that umbrella.
Their latest creation is Weather, the fifth full album recorded under the Tychonom de guerre. It also marks the first vocal collaboration he’s ever taken on, with Saint Sinner (née Hannah Cottrell) contributing her ethereal voice to a pair of tracks. Having just completed a three album trilogy, Hansen reckoned it was “the perfect opportunity.”
“I’ve wanted to make a vocal record since I started out,” he reveals. “Having the vocals blend with the texture and sonic landscape of the music was something that was very important to me. And after hearing Hannah’s voice I knew it was the perfect complement to the songs.”
One of those tracks in particular – “Japan” – has made it into our very heavy rotation. With its Roxy-esque atmospherics, and Cottrell’s breathy, haunted vocal performance, the song is a sultry, alluring enigma – a description that carries over to its accompanying video, shot in San Francisco’s Japantown, Hansen’s one time stomping ground.
“I had just been on a trip to Hakone,” he explains, “and wanted to make a song that captured the colors and imagery I experienced there. I wrote an instrumental and named it “japan.wav”…and sent it to Hannah. Coincidentally someone she knew had recently returned from a trip to Japan and she wrote the lyrics about that experience.”
It was bound to be a Swede who would think to name an album so sad so sexy. And with the title track of Lykke Li’s somber (but sexy) 2018 masterstroke, she achieved a new level of intimacy with her already adoring public.
Should you have not had quite enough of the sadness (or sexiness), she’s just released an EP – edifyingly titled still sad still sexy – with remixed versions of six of the album tracks. A reworking of ‘sex money feelings die’ featuring Lil Baby & snowsa was hot stuff indeed. But we’ve fallen hard for a new version of ‘so sad so sexy,’ for which she strips down the music, further emphasizing the lyrical melancholy.
Indeed, when she achingly confesses, “I’m cryin’ diamonds like a river inside,” the visceral effect is noticeably heightened.
August will be a monumental month for Lykke, as her YOLA DÍA festival debuts in L.A. on the 18th, flaunting an all female lineup. Something of an ideological successor to the Lilith Fair, it will feature performances by Courtney Love, Cat Power and Empress Of. Boys are welcomed to attend.
Possibly the pinnacle of the Hamptons summer social scene is the annual Watermill Center benefit at the end of each July. 1,000 guests meander through an enchanted, 10-acre forested space at sunset, and experience fantastical performance art based around some or other esoteric theme – which, this year was Tabula Rasa: a blank slate with no preconceived ideas or common goals, open to interpretation by the current 100 artists-in-residence, hailing from all over the globe.
As the best art is meant to provoke or, hopefully, expand our minds, some of this year’s installations symbolized new beginnings, such as Humberto Diaz’ It’s All in Your Head performance with saran wrapped artists. Yet another, The Purger, nodded to surrealism and sci-fi, a half giant fly and man becoming one.
Notable guests from the art, philanthropy, fashion and social worlds who came out to support this year included Isabella Rosselini, Nicole Miller, Polina Proshkina, Peter Marino, Bill Powers, Sally Hirshberger, Kelly Behun & Jay Sugarman, Nicolas Bos, Madison Cox, Anke & Jürgen Friedrich, Alexandra Munroe & Robert Rosenkranz, as well as Katharina Otto-Bernstein & Nathan Bernstein.
The evening was generously supported by its presenting sponsor, Van Cleef & Arpels and honored Katharine Rayner, philanthropist and early support of The Watermill, as well as Carrie Mae Weems, artist and recipient of the Center’s 2017 Inga Maren Otto Fellowship.
Over dinner, guests enjoyed an immersive installation and performance by Bianca Casady of CocoRosie and Ira Anufrieva. Helga Davis performed a touching rendition of “Perfect Day” as a tribute to the late Lou Reed. DJ Kitty Cash kept the artsy after party going ’til the wee hours, as always.
The Watermill Center was founded in 1992 by avant-garde visionary and theater director Robert Wilson, and acts as an interdisciplinary laboratory for the arts and humanities, situated on ten acres of Shinnecock ancestral territory on Long Island’s East End. With an emphasis on creativity and collaboration, the Center encourages experimental artistic practice and regularly convenes the brightest minds from across many disciplines to do, in Wilson’s words, “what no one else is doing.”
From what we could tell, the mission remains a success.