Afternoon Coffee Break: Today’s Required Reading

Whenever the 3 o’clock hour rolls around and you’re slumping down at your desk tiptoeing towards an existential crisis, it’s often best reward yourself with a brief respite and a strong cup of coffee. But while you’re taking a moment to lift your head from the mass of work it’s been buried under, spend a moment catching up on some particularly interesting writing and news floating around the internet that you’ve been too busy to peruse through. Take a look at what we’ve been engrossed with this morning. 

  • Ranked: Rainer Werner Fassbinder Films From Worst To Best: "The five films included in Criterion’s essential new Eclipse set feel like spending a week with a repertory theater company. It would be unfair to judge Fassbinder’s entire filmography as a body of work, but equally wrong to examine a particular film without taking all of the rest of them into account." [ ] + while you’re there, check out our essay on one of his best melodramas, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.
  • 9 Images From ‘Playboy’s’ Golden Age: "Hugh Hefner’s Playboy, which Taschen has recently repackaged into a more affordable six-volume set, provides a visual glimpse into the Golden Age of Playboy, when the magazine was at the vanguard of high and lowbrow culture, the changing times, and it challenged the establishment in ways that might seem silly today, but were considered quite subversive in the twenty years following the Second World War." [ Flavorwire ]
  • Get excited. "Nine Inch Nails are streaming their new album Hesitation Marks on iTunes a week before the scheduled release." [ Rolling Stone ]
  • Open Letter: Kate Bornstein to Chelsea Manning: "According to the Leavenworth prisoners’ handbook, Manning will not have Internet access, so we will physically mail this to her (there’s a whole procedure to follow if we want it to get to her, and we have to use her "Bradley" name and prison number, once it’s assigned), so if anyone wants to also send the physical letter, please do." [ Out ]
  • Keynote: Shadow Of A Doubt: "Released in 1943, Shadow Of A Doubt was Hitchcock’s sixth film after his move from England to the United States. With some occasional backtracking, Hitchcock called it his favorite of his films, and the one “our friends, the plausibles and logicians, cannot complain about.” [ The Dissolve ]
  • Liz Cohen’s Conceptual Car Takes Top Prize at Real-Life Lowrider Fest: "Artist Liz Cohen spent more than eight years crafting her “Trabantimino,” a hybrid vehicle that is part East German compact workhorse Trabant, part Chevy El Camino, and that transforms via hydraulics. An exploration of DIY culture and the playful mixing of identities, the project has been shown — to well-deserved acclaim — at Lower East Side gallery Salon 94 and at the inaugural edition of Frieze New York (2012)." [ Art Info ]
  • Tchaikovsky’s sexuality ‘downplayed’ in biopic under Russia’s anti-gay law: "The film’s screenwriter, Yuri Arabov, denied Tchaikovsky had been gay and said his script had been revised to portray the composer as "a person without a family who has been stuck with the opinion that he supposedly loves men" and who suffers over these "rumours", he told the newspaper Izvestiya." [ Guardian ]
  • Coen, Denis, Desplechin, Jonze Set for NYFF: Opening Act: "New York Film Festival season is starting a little early this year with the announcement of Film Society’s new series NYFF: Opening Act, which will run the week leading up to the 51st edition of the festival." [ FilmLinc ]
  • The Bruce High Quality Foundation University Returns this Fall: "The Bruce High Quality Foundation University—a one-room schoolhouse located just above a bodega—returns this September. The BHQFU is like grad school, but it’s mostly free, with classes offered on nights and weekends." [ Art F City ]
  • Musk’s New Hologram Project Invites ‘Iron Man’ Comparisons: "Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk—who is often compared to Stark by the tech press—is apparently creating the real-life equivalent of that fictional hologram system. “We figured out how to design rocket parts just w hand movements through the air (seriously),” he Tweeted August 23. “Now need a high frame rate holograph generator.” [ Slashdot ]
  • Nowhere to Go But Everywhere: "Paul Rogers has made “an illustrated scroll” in which he illustrates a line from every page of On the Road." [ The Paris Review ]

Get Excited for More Nine Inch Nails With Their New Track ‘Copy of A’

In less than a month, Trent Reznor and his brilliant new Nine Inch Nails lineup will release their highly-anticipated new album, Hesitation Marks. But in the meantime, they’ve been playing around the world, making music videos with David Lynch, and giving us a taste of what the record has in store. So as we eagerly await their return to New York in October, NIN have released one of their new tracks “Copy of A,” which they’ve been playing live on the road. Take a listen below.


David Lynch Talks Cinema’s Current State and the Spiritual Experience of Film

For someone who has distanced himself from the very medium that made him an icon, filmmaker David Lynch may not be giving us haunting and heartbreaking feature films anymore but he’s sure doing everything else. And like all his creative endeavors, whether he’s elating us with a gallery full of paintings or sending us swooning with another album, Lynch’s world stays intact no matter the structure, with a psychological through line that penetrates his work, always baring the mark of a true genius. And in speaking to The Independent, he had a lot to say about the state of art and cinema—which has not only changed rapidly in the last few years but dramatically since the last time he put out a full-feature with Inland Empire in 2006. "It’s a very depressing picture," Lynch admits, going on to say:

With alternative cinema – any sort of cinema that isn’t mainstream – you’re fresh out of luck in terms of getting theatre space and having people come to see it. Even if I had a big idea, the world is different now. Unfortunately, my ideas are not what you’d call commercial, and money really drives the boat these days. So I don’t know what my future is. I don’t have a clue what I’m going to be able to do in the world of cinema.
Back in the fall, there was word of a possible Twin Peaks revivial, which I vehemently detested the idea of, but when it comes to television, the format is still a perfect match for Lynch’s affinity for the episodic nature of storytelling and as he says, "I like the idea of a continuing story…television is way more interesting than cinema now. It seems like the art-house has gone to cable." Yet as a proponent for the experiential nature of cinema and being the man who taught me that film could be just that, Lynch explains: 
It’s the same with cinema: if you have a chance to enter another world, then you need a big picture in a dark room with great sound. It’s a spiritual, magic experience. If you have the same movie on a little computer screen with bad sound – and this is the way people are seeing films now – it’s such a shame. It’s a shameful, shameful thing. It’s so pathetic.
So in the meantime, let’s just get excited for The Big Dream which will be debuting in less than a month on Sacred Bones, as well as his upcoming directorial lead on Nine Inch Nail’s first single off Hesitation Marks "Came Back Haunted." And just for good measure, when it comes to Lynch’s famous coffee obsessed ways, he also told The Independent that he, "always associated smoking and drinking coffee with the art life. They go hand in hand. There’s something about drinking coffee and smoking that makes me happy and facilitates thinking. I just really love those things." We hear that one, D.

1997 Again: David Lynch to Direct Nine Inch Nails’ Video for ‘Came Back Haunted’

Well, as if David Lynch hadn’t given us enough grotesque pleasure lately—between the haunting snippets off his new album The Big Dream and that tranquil "I’m Waiting Here" video—now, it appears that he’ll saddling back up in the director’s chair for a new project…with the newly refurbished Nine Inch Nails. As the perfect pairing of twisted minds, Trent Reznor and David Lynch have collaborated in the past, most notably with Lost Highway, but now Lynch will be at the helm to direct the music video for their first single off Hesitation Marks, "Came Back Haunted."

Speaking of Lynch in the March 1997 issue of Rolling Stone, Reznor said:
You get it or you don’t. When I saw Blue Velvet, I walked out of the theater changed and very shaken. I talked to someone later, and they said, "Didn’t you think that was funny?" I didn’t think it was funny. I was terrified because, when I saw it, I realized I would have done exactly the same thing as Kyle MacLachlan’s character. I would’ve tried to sneak in, I would’ve felt for her – I would’ve done it all.
I also remember the Twin Peaks episode where Leland bashes Maddie’s head against the wall, and then he’s driving his car with the body in the back. I thought, "This is the scariest, most violent thing I’ve ever seen on television, ever. Fuckin’-A, someone got away with it." I could also see why people had a problem with it. It wasn’t, you know, Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
And today Reznor took to Twitter to post a photo of he and Lynch together, just a little over a month before the new NIN hits the road for their massive tour with Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Explosions in the Sky. So for those equally obsessed and entranced with both the band and Lynch, this news may send you into a fit of hysterics, but if not—you’re just crazy. 
Take a listen to "Came Back Haunted" and see NIN’s upcoming tour dates HERE.

Death Rattle, ‘Fortress’ EP : The Preview

So it’s funny: when a press release lands in your inbox declaring some band the heir to The Knife, Sleigh Bells, Depeche Mode, Massive Attack, Portishead, Zola Jesus, Fever Ray, and Nine Inch Nails, you’re going to be skeptical. But also, admit it: your curiosity is piqued by the boldness (if not the long-windedness) of such claims.

Such is the case with Death Rattle, a duo who have one goth-pop EP, HE&I, under their belts. Another, Fortress, is on the way. And you know what? They may not be The Knife, but they’ll certainly do the trick. Check out a YouTube sampler of everything you’ve got coming to you:

Promising, no? If you want to hear a full song, though, check out “The Blows” below. Lot of rhyming in that sentence, sorry. You can download this track for free, by the way.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

How to Destroy Angels Goes on Reddit for AMA, Trent Reznor Gives the Best Response

Trent Reznor is a pretty busy man these days. Not only does he have a new Nine Inch Nails line-up and an international tour on the horizon with them, but he’ll be going on tour with his music collective—consisting of Mariqueen Maandig, Rob Sheridan, and Atticus Ross—How to Destroy Angels_ who just dropped their debut album yesterday. So, to celebrate the release, HTDA hopped on Reddit to host an AMA (Ask Me Anything). The questions ranged from respectiful and sincere to just plain awful but there were certainly a few highlights—and the first, in which Trent gives possibly the greatest response ever.

"As millionaires, why did you sign up with a record label to promote your new album? … I don’t buy the ‘get it to as many people as possible’ excuse … especially when Trent conveniently places a spotlight on his former cash cow a few days before your band releases this new album. Good marketing, Gene Sim-, er, Trent Reznor. When can I get my NIN toothpaste?"

Trent’s response: "Sorry, the wifi on our yacht is having issues, we can’t get your full question to load. Try sending me an email at"

He also went on to talk about how working on The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo effected him as artist, saying:

“Working with David Fincher taught me a lot about collaboration, and HTDA allowed me to work in a band environment that I found very rewarding. I don’t know that I was ever comfortable enough with myself earlier in my life to be able to open up and collaborate. Regarding NIN, what’s interesting to me about re-assembling it is trying some new things out with a different type of lineup. We’re not deep into NIN rehearsals yet, but the idea is exciting.”

Sheridan also spoke about his role in HTDA and the aesthetic aspect of the collective:

The visual direction of this album came about first from the concept of the record. Trying to express the anxiety of information overload, the end of mankind as both terrifying and transformative, apocalypse and evolution, etc. I was inspired by the way Trent and Atticus set up rules for themselves around the way they record music for each project, and the analog methods they were experimenting with for this record that tied into its themes. So I started looking for a visual analogy for that, and also a visual analogy for information overloading the pipeline it’s being sent through – of signals unable to display coherently. It led me down the road of experimenting with analog cables and old CRT monitors and VHS decks. The result was a set of rules I came up with for creating the visuals. As much of a pain in the ass the process is sometimes, it’s strangely freeing to work within constraints. Not only does it force a rigid visual consistency, it takes Photoshop out of the equation entirely (the CRT texture makes the images largely uneditable in post, besides color corrections). Sometimes there’s something extremely daunting about a blank document in Photoshop, because you can go absolutely ANYWHERE with it. Setting up some limitations has proved really useful.

And when asked about a question in regard to Dave Grohl’s Sound City and the state of traditional instruments versus the electronic worldresponded that:

I don’t really care if you can play an instrument or not. I don’t think that’s a mandatory skill required to make music that can connect with people. I do think computers have made it easy to make lazy music that sounds nice. I find a fair amount of what’s championed today feels to me like it falls in that category – much more fashion than substance. There’s also a lot of current music I think is great … The Knife is a good example."

Speaking to the audio/visual aspect of the tour, Sheridan went on to say:

…the HTDA show will be a very visual experience, and all of the creative team from Lights in the Sky is working on this. BUT, please do not go in expecting Lights in the Sky, because this is a very very different presentation from NIN. This is going to be more of a statement, more of an audio/visual installation than a rock concert. Probably a lot of people aren’t going to "get" it, but hopefully they’ll walk away saying "I’m not sure what the hell I just watched, but it was pretty cool."

Check out the rest of the AMA HERE.

Of Course Someone Put Together ‘Call Me Maybe’ and Nine Inch Nails

Since the dawn of the mashup, people with sound editing software and extensive music collections have been seeking the most diametrically opposed jams to fuse together and pray they work. Let’s put Ke$ha and The Beatles together and subvert the pop music canon! Let’s remix "My Neck, My Back" with "Jolene!" How crazy would that be? (I could actually see this one kind of working.) 

People make careers out of this; a few are very good, most are not so good. UK mashup maker pomDeter decided to test the attraction of two opposites by putting together Nine Inch Nails’ "Head Like A Hole" and Carly Rae Jepsen’s "Call Me Maybe," two very good songs on their own. It makes for a strange alternate-universe version of both tracks, like the cast of Glee got a hold of it but someone thwarted their evil plan before they could ruin it, if that makes any sense. It’s one of many in an overcrowded field, and it’s not the greatest thing to ever happen even for all the all-caps hallelujahs surrounding it, but you know what? It works. And hey, if you like Nine Inch Nails but you’re riding in the car with someone who loves Carly Rae Jepsen, now you have a driving soundtrack to satisfy both your musical cravings.

How To Dress Well Makes Thought-Provoking R&B That Stands On Its Own

Tom Krell is a Colorado-born singer and producer whose haunting vocals, emotionally driven lyrics, and experimental beats can only heard when channeled through his R&B-loving alter-ego, How To Dress Well. He’s an artist who is very concerned about how his music is perceived, and his eagerness for a seal of approval comes across in every track as he pours his heart and soul into every note in the process. We caught up with him to discuss his new album, Total Loss, being compared to Jamie Woon and James Blake, and where he stands in the R&B world.

How To Dress Well—interesting name you’ve got there. How did you come up with it?
When I first starting recording music, I was filing it away in my laptop at a friend’s house. iTunes asked for a name, and there, on the coffee table, were two old books my friend had copped from the bookstore below our flat: How To Photograph Women Beautifully and How To Dress Well. I just picked one, and, since then, everything I’ve recorded has been filed under that name. I can see how some people would find it off-putting or arrogant, but it’s definitely not intended to be. It’s really just a random name.

Random, but cool! As a youngster growing up, which musicians did you draw influence from as you were finding your musical feet?
Like, as a kid, kid? I’d say Michael Jackson, Tevin Campbell, and so on. But then it’s like Brian Eno, Grouper, Feist, Kate Bush, Babyface, Mount Eerie, Nine Inch Nails, Antony, The KLF… Yeah, I’ve been into a lot of different shit.

And you would describe your music how?
Regardless of what genre it’s closest to, I consider HTDW spiritually experimental music. The voice and harmonies are the foundation.

You’ve been compared to the likes of U.K. crooners Jamie Woon and James Blake. What are your honest thoughts on that?
Some comparisons are a bit knee-jerk. I mean, most of them I can certainly understand. However, I do find my music to be more in the plane of Maxwell, Tracy Chapman, Grouper, and Kate Bush, rather than Woon or Blake.

Thanks for clearing that one up! It seems many artists today are almost afraid to put themselves under the R&B bracket, but you don’t seem to mind. What do you think you bring to the genre that is, perhaps, currently missing?
Well, I’m not too quick to place myself under that bracket, either, but I do love a very wide range of R&B artists. And, to that genre, I hope I can bring something thought provoking and heartfelt. I do think that pop-R&B often misses those elements. 

Although you released music before 2010’s Love Remains album, that particular LP got the music world talking a lot. What was it about Love Remains that you think people connected with so much?
I’m glad that a lot of people connected with it. It’s an album about melancholy, and the goal was to portray melancholy, not simply by singing about it, but actually trying to present the affective terrain of melancholy sonically. I think people heard, understood, and felt that intention.

Tell me about your latest project, Total Loss. What was the thought process behind this album?
It’s an album about mourning: mourning the loss of loved ones, love, faith, desire, and hope. And when I say mourning, I mean coming to grips with loss, not getting over it—as I do feel like that’s an impossible task, particularly with death—but learning to live with and grow from it.

Very deep. All right, honestly, do you feel that the mainstream’s ready for what you’re about? 
Man, I really don’t know. I mean, I hope so! I genuinely do. I would love for more people to listen to and find solace in Total Loss.

On a totally different note, who are you listening to right now? Anyone out there who you could see yourself working with down the line?
Right now, as we’re speaking, I’m listening to And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead [laughs]. I was listening to Jeremih before that. Collabs are super exciting, and I hope I get to do some sick ones, but I’m more looking to work with artists, filmmakers, etc.

You’re already off to a great start, but what are your hopes for the future?
I hope these upcoming tours go well, and that people can take something special away from the shows. I want to record, record, record! I’m constantly writing new music. I also hope that I can live fully and love, be in love, and be loved for the rest of my life.

Follow Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson on Twitter.

19 Bands We Miss from the 1990s

From pump sneakers to hypercolor clothes to sexual predators in AOL chatrooms, the 90s had it all. But many of the decade’s self-indulgent fads have been lost to history, much like many of the era’s formerly memorable musical acts. Some were really good, some were so bad they were good, and some were bad enough that it’s good they’re gone. There are many ways for a band to die, but dead or not, a few still hold a special place in our memory and/or playlist.

(‘DiggThis’)image1. Beastie Boys – What other band on earth could get away with a line like “I want to stir fry you in my wok” and not sound insane, pathetic, or both? The Beastie Boys helped define rap for the white kids of the 90s, paving the way for Eminem and the like. We miss the Beastie Boys, but at least this band had a good reason for dipping out of the pop scene: Rapper MCA had a difficult bout of cancer. Since he’s alive and well, we think the band needs to breathe the same life back into their careers and put out another album. image2. Soul Asylum – Many people think Soul Asylum was a one-hit wonder. This is totally false. They had two good songs: “Runaway Train” and “Black Gold!” And we’d like to hear more of those two songs on the radio. Where did that runaway train end up, anyway?

image3. Better Than Ezra – This was the perfect middle-of-the-road 90s band. They were not too edgy, not too bold, not too flamboyant, and not too flashy. That may be the reason they fell into obscurity. We may never know, but what’s clear is that “it was good living with you,” Better Than Ezra. It was damn good.
image4. Soundgarden – Soundgarden helped create the grunge rock scene, but they always seem to get overlooked. Nirvana and Pearl Jam somehow managed to squeeze Chris Cornell and the boys out of the limelight. For years we’ve longed for the day when Soundgarden would darken our sky once more with a “Black Hole Sun.” And with a reunion plan in the works, it looks like our pathetic little prayers may have been answered.

image5. Nine Inch Nails – While Nine Inch Nails didn’t completely disappear, Trent Reznor and the gang sure seem to have been in hiding over the past decade. Perhaps his pale skin keeps him from coming out into the open. Sure, he used to spend a great deal of time on social networking sites like Twitter, but he swore off them in mid-2009 after having one too many run-ins with a group of internet trolls. From the looks of it, he may have sworn off getting his music on the radio as well. image6. Björk – Björk is actually still around, but she’s not doing anything notable. In our opinion, the world needs more music videos with cute rocker chicks dancing on moving semi trucks. While Björk wasn’t the biggest hit of the 90s, she certainly made her mark. She’s by far our favorite 90s rocker to come out of Iceland anyway.
image7. Smashing Pumpkins – The world needs more old-school Smashing Pumpkins. We’re not just talking about the band. We should all go out and smash some more pumpkins. The radio of the 90s was dominated by the swill of watered-down ska and pseudo-big bands. Luckily, the Pumpkins were there to cut through the crap. They broke up in 2000 and have since reunited, but it’s just not the same. Oh well, despite all my rage, yada yada yada.

image8. Rage Against The Machine – Rage was just too angsty to stay together for a whole decade. It wasn’t that their music was dated or anything, but after Tibet was freed (right?) their mission as a band was accomplished, and they all decided to concentrate on other things. Recently, they did get together to play some of their old songs, but a complete reunion hasn’t happened. We want our Rage. image9. 311 – 311 had some serious hits, but we hardly ever hear them on the radio anymore. This is probably due to their name. Since it’s comprised only of numbers, it doesn’t show up on the alphabetical lists used by modern DJs. If they had been named AAB, we’d hear them all the time, and it would be awesome.

image10. The Pixies – When people think of the Pixies, they tend to imagine buildings crashing down while Edward Norton holds hands with Helena Bonham Carter. Considering the song used in Fight Club is one of their best, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. On the other hand, “Where Is My Mind” wasn’t their only good song. Maybe if today’s DJs would play more of their catalog the world would know that.
image11. Guns N’ Roses – Despite the recent release of Chinese Democracy, Guns N’ Roses has been under the radar for a while. All that’s left is Axl Rose and a bunch of people you don’t know. Slash and the rest moved on and currently play in Velvet Revolver with Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots. But we still have an appetite for destruction, and right now the world could use some G.N.R. image12. MC Hammer – Who could ever forget the pants that this man popularized? They were so big and flashy that the aeronautics industry tested them for parachute durability. Somehow, Hammer blew all the money he made off of songs like “Can’t Touch This” and “Hammer Time.” Luckily, later in life he found Jesus and made some of it back. Now maybe Jesus can get him back on the radio.

image13. Ace of Base – I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes to the fact that we haven’t heard from Ace of Base in more than ten years. It’s too bad. They made catchy girl music that didn’t pretend to be anything it wasn’t. We’re not trying to say that it was riveting, life-changing music, but we hummed along when it came on the radio, and so did you. Admit it! image14. Counting Crows – For many bands, there comes a point in time when dreadlocks just won’t carry the music any longer. The Counting Crows reached that point in the 90s, which explains why you don’t hear from them. Seriously though, we could all use a little more air time for “Mr. Jones.” And considering that the band is still touring, there’s always hope. image15. Crash Test Dummies – No one here is claiming that the Crash Test Dummies are any good. But you have to respect a band whose first hit has a refrain that’s simply humming: “Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm.” Bold move.

image16. Live – Live hit it big in 1994 with their breakthrough album Throwing Copper. Although they fell out of the spotlight soon afterwards, no one bothered to inform the band. Apparently they’ve been touring and recording music all this time. It was only in November of 2009 that guitarist Chad Taylor announced he was leaving the band.
image17. Oasis – Only the Beatles can claim to be bigger than Jesus and get away with it. Oasis learned this the hard way. But despite their self-indulgent tendencies, they were still a decent band. Unfortunately, no one remembers them beyond select singles (ahem, “Wonderwall”), so Jesus wins.

image18. House of Pain – Seriously though, couldn’t you go for a little “Jump Around” right now? Come on, it’s an easy song. The lyrics are the same as the title, and the only other words you have to remember are “I came to get down.” There’s something to be said for simplicity.

image19. Gwar – Are the days of massive costumes and crazy face-paint over? If so, that explains why we haven’t heard much from Gwar. Kids today just don’t want a sci-fi/horror spectacle when they listen to music. They’d rather listen to Adam Lambert while they watch Avatar. Pussies.