People love music. They also love to get high. Put the two together and you’re talking about pretty happy humans, provided you pick the right music. What music is that, you ask? Well, Rolling Stone has some, er…ideas. The leadoff choice of Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky with the opening phrase “irony alert” makes us wonder if this wasn’t originally some Father’s Day tribute to dad-rock.
Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm—who has made it easy for a legion of for bloggers who can just sigh and say, "I dunno, just write something with ‘Jon Hamm’s Penis’ in the headline"—isn’t so thrilled with the attention that the internet has given to his private parts. "They’re called privates," Hamm says in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone. "I mean, it’s not like I’m a fucking lead miner. There are harder jobs in the world. But when people feel the freedom to create Tumblr accounts about my cock, I feel like that wasn’t part of the deal." Yes, let the man live and let his balls breathe! They don’t want to be confined to claustrophobic underwear, not even silk boxers. But I get it: Jon Hamm wants to be taken seriously for things other than his penis. Perhaps he can get lunch with co-star Christina Hendricks and her gigantic breasts as a bit of group therapy?
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If you’re not already completely enamored with Big Black Delta, don’t worry, you will be. As the sonic brain child of other-worldy genis Jon Bates, he makes music that feels like the cosmic hissing between the stars with beats that make it impossible not to shake your hips and float away in a realm of sound. A few weeks ago, we shared the stream of BBD’s latest delight, "Side of the Road." But now, you can download the brilliant track for free courtesy of Rolling Stone. In speaking with them about the song, Bates said, ""Side of the Road’ was written during a violent period in my recent life. I saw and experienced some shit that could make one lose their humanistic values. I needed a floating song that reminded me of forgiveness and associated freedom,” going on to explain, "Depending on the light, the song may swing between driving to calming. Depending on my mood, the song could swing between depressing to uplifting. I wasn’t really aiming for a dichotomous message, but that’s where it landed.” Well, there you go. Download the track, take a listen, and find yourself completely entranced.
There’s a few wooden seats near the turnstiles at my subway station that I’ve come to think of as “The Detention Bench.” That’s because no one ever has cause to sit there unless they’re a brown person being detained for drug possession. Whether or not they dodge the charge later, it’s a deliberately humiliating ordeal to be sat there with cops standing guard while everyone races by you to catch their train. In that sense, you’re far better off being the bank that launders money for a violent drug cartel than someone who likes to get stoned after work. Because when the bankers get caught, it’s just a small fine.
In case you missed it this weekend, Matt Tabbi has a great screed in Rolling Stone on this exact scenario, played out recently in the case of British megabank HSBC, which “admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws” but will settle the case for a cool $1.9 billion, “which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank.”
>Strong message, that. And you know why these blood-money-grubbing fucks were never in danger of going to jail? Because HSBC is TOO BIG TO FAIL, and throwing the book at them would be like throwing the book at the fragile, frightened, feral kitten that is the global economy. It’s almost as if the giant infusions of cartel cash made the company large enough to be impervious to any and all moral scrutiny. This may be a good time to hate the player and the game.
Good news, music professionals! Last year was a big year for record sales, with album sales pulling in 330.6 million dollars. Congrats, everyone! We bought stuff! Who was the savior of music in 2011? Adele, of course — her sophomore album, 21, sold 5.82 million copies, which is best one-year sales count in recent years. The bad news? The industry is still tanking.
According to Rolling Stone, sales only went up by one percent from 2010. And the second highest-selling album of last year? Michael Buble’s Christmas. Even Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, which sold 2.1 million copies, relied on a heavily discounted price at $1.99 on Amazon during its first week of release. So, basically, things aren’t looking good.
CDs themselves were down 6 percent. So the product with the greatest profit margin continues to slide while the product with the lowest profit margin (digital songs, up 8.5 percent) continues to grow. Plus, the 1 percent uptick may be due to a variety of deep discounts, from Amazon to big-box chains. "When you’re selling $5 discs at Walmart and Best Buy, music revenue is actually down," a source at a major label told us recently. "The idea that the industry has somehow hit bottom, and might be hitting an inflection point, I think, is a mistake." To sum up, things that are booming: Adele and digital songs in general. Things that are not booming: pretty much everything else.
But don’t worry, surely something of the same caliber as "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You" will manage to squeeze out of 2012, right? At least something that will surely capture the current cultural zeitgeist that, essentially, is based on weeping alone?
British soul singer Adele is on the cover of Rolling Stone this week. She looks absolutely stunning! She also told the magazine all about her stage fright and related projectile-vomiting issues, her body image, and the ex-boyfriend who inspired her latest album, 21. Apparently her stage fright is really, really bad.
Adele seems to lack body image issues. Refreshingly, she’s not one of those plus-size celebrities who feels the need to constantly stress how she eats healthy, works out, etc — because there’s nothing worse than the sin of being heavy and trying not to be, right? No, Adele totally owns it: “I don’t like going to the gym. I like eating fine foods and drinking nice wine. Even if I had a really good figure, I don’t think I’d get my tits and ass out for no one.”
She goes on: “I love seeing Lady Gaga’s boobs and bum. I love seeing Katy Perry’s boobs and bum. Love it. But that’s not what my music is about. I don’t make music for eyes. I make music for ears.” In the space of those sentences, Adele manages to make the current female pop-star paradigm seem kind of silly.
When it comes to actually performing, she’s apparently not so confident. She told Rolling Stone, “I’m scared of audiences. One show in Amsterdam I was so nervous I escaped out the fire exit. I’ve thrown up a couple of times. Once in Brussels I projectile vomited on someone. I just gotta bear it. But I don’t like touring. I have anxiety attacks a lot.” Why has that fan in Brussels not come forward? That’s a hell of a concert story.
The issue drops tomorrow in print and online, and if the rest of the interview is as endearing as this, it’s definitely something to check out.
Justin Bieber is everywhere these days. There he is getting booed at the Knicks game! There he is possessed by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show! There he is in my nightmares, surrounded by black hearts and holding a knife! And now here he is, on the cover of Rolling Stone discussing typical teen talking points: rape, abortion, and Korean politics. Bieber also bigged up Canada, again. It’s something he does so often, that, as a Canadian myself, I find it incredibly endearing. Let’s have a look at this proud Canuck’s patriotism.
● We begin with Bieber’s latest shout out to the motherland, during the much talked-about Rolling Stone interview, where he calls Canada “the best country in the world.” First of all, fuck yeah. But second of all, he backs that up with one of the main reasons we all know Canada is awesome: universal health care. Says Mr. Justin, “We go to the doctor and we don’t need to worry about paying him, but here, your whole life, you’re broke because of medical bills. My bodyguard’s baby was premature, and now he has to pay for it. In Canada, if your baby’s premature, he stays in the hospital as long as he needs to, and then you go home.” It’s a nice sentiment, but like any good Canadian, Bieber should know that in Canada, babies are always born on time.
● Accompanying the Rolling Stone article is a video montage of Bieber’s photo shoot with Terry Richardson, where he takes a moment to answer some fan questions. When asked what restaurant in the entire world he would fly to, and what meal would he order once there, this upstanding Canadian citizen answers not with Mr. Chow or Nobu, but with Swiss Chalet, a chain of low-end rotisserie chicken restaurants that is dear to every Canadian heart. His meal? The quarter chicken meal. You know what it is.
● If Justin Bieber’s patriotism was ever in doubt, the other night he went on George Lopez’s talk show, and sang the Canadian national anthem. That’s to Canadian patriotism what blowing yourself up is to Afghan patriotism. Bonus quote: “I don’t know the American anthem because I’m Canadian.” You sure as shit are, little man.
● Well before the big, obvious New York City premiere of his movie Never Say Never, Bieber held the movie’s real premiere in Toronto, Ontario, about an hour from where he grew up. At the time, he tweeted: “Sitting here in the Toronto premiere with fans friends and family. #home – it’s a great feeling. Thank you.’ When was the last time you heard Jim Carrey say something like that?
● Two weeks ago on the Late Show, David Letterman asked him if he was a junior. His answer, to big laughs, was, “I don’t know, I’m Canadian.” You see, in Canada, we have grades. Justin Bieber is in grade 11. He immediately turned to fellow Canuck Paul Schaffer and bonded over something you Americans just wouldn’t understand.
● At a press conference on February 1, which in all fairness happened in Canada, JB was asked what he misses most about his home country. His answer is probably on par with what most Canadians born after 1980 would say: ketchup chips, Big Foot candies, and Tim Horton’s. “I miss Timmy’s. I miss my Iced Capp.” I do too, Justin. I do too. Can we hold each other?
● And just a few days ago, Justin Bieber gave hope to a nation of insecure hockey fans when he let slip that he might one day move home. “I have a lot of friends in Atlanta now but I think I might move back to Canada.” Will our prodigal son finally return home? Never say never, right Justin?
Last night, Angelenos got their first look at the new Rolling Stone restaurant and lounge (dubbed RS/LA) at a packed American Music Awards afterparty. Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Kid Rock and dozens of other big names mingled inside the 10,500-square foot space, which sits inside a mall (this is Hollywood, people). Rolling Stone ringleader Jann Wenner held court at what is the first in a planned chain that will see locations pop up in New York and Miami over the next few years. Think Planet Hollywood but for music. So think, er, the Hard Rock Café.
Actually, the restaurant is surprisingly void of garish rock mementos. Upon entry, you will not be overwhelmed. The entry-level rooms are pedestrian, design-wise. Framed Rolling Stone covers adorn the walls and even the light fixtures. It’s nice, but downstairs is where you want to be. There, at the end of a steel staircase, the bar expands dramatically. Katy Perry and Russell Brand were acting all newlywed-y in one of the massive booths, while Ke$ha did her thing (use your imagination) in an adjacent banquette.
But don’t expect a famous crowd once RS/LA opens for real, sometime early next year. Its location in the Hollywood & Highland complex makes partying there like going out in Times Square. That said, the owners say they’ll be bringing in large, DJ-driven events, and also have a live music permit for bands.
Underground, there’s a faux-secret backroom behind the main bar, meant to function as a speakeasy. Because these days, you must have a speakeasy inside your restaurant venue lounge thing. The room is nice enough, with charming chalkboard lining the walls.
Described as “vintage chic” and “19th-century European bohemia” in a press release, Rolling Stone is really just a comfortable modern restaurant with a few nods to the past sneaked in downstairs. Owned by a team of investors (including Dwight Freeney of the Indianapolis Colts), RS/LA will appeal to those driving in from the San Fernando Valley who love to hang in the heart of Hollywood.
The October issue of Rolling Stone, featuring a studly and stately Barack Obama on its cover, drops at the end of the week, but RS co-founder Jann Wenner’s seven-page interview with the prez is now available online. The interview begins with Barry complimenting Jann’s striped socks, saying, “If I wasn’t president I could wear socks like that.” It gets better.
Wenner goes on to ask Obama the tough questions: Why haven’t you mobilized grass-roots volunteers? What’s going on with Wall Street regulation? Is climate change the predominant moral issue of the 21st century? What’s on your iPod (Nas and Lil Wayne), and what was it like to meet Bob Dylan?
Here’s the President’s dead-on take on the original Rolling Stone:
“Here’s what I love about Dylan: He was exactly as you’d expect he would be. He wouldn’t come to the rehearsal; usually, all these guys are practicing before the set in the evening. He didn’t want to take a picture with me; usually all the talent is dying to take a picture with me and Michelle before the show, but he didn’t show up to that. He came in and played “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” A beautiful rendition. The guy is so steeped in this stuff that he can just come up with some new arrangement, and the song sounds completely different. Finishes the song, steps off the stage — I’m sitting right in the front row — comes up, shakes my hand, sort of tips his head, gives me just a little grin, and then leaves. And that was it — then he left. That was our only interaction with him. And I thought: That’s how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don’t want him to be all cheesin’ and grinnin’ with you. You want him to be a little skeptical about the whole enterprise. So that was a real treat.”