Posts tagged "jess harvell"

A Moment Of Gratitude (With An Assist From Big Star)


As you might have noticed, this is a bittersweet week around here; because of budget cuts, we’ve had to say goodbye to pretty much all the Idolator contributing writers, from columnists to daily bloggers. The site is going to go on as a solo project of sorts, although the news cycle might run at a slightly slower pace. I just wanted to take a moment on this crappy day to thank everyone who’s contributed to the site during my tenure, from the people who helped me sift through the news cycle every day to the columnists, each of whom expanded the focus of the site.

So, to Mike Barthel, Dan Gibson, Lucas Jensen, and Christopher R. Weingarten; and to Andy Beta, Chuck Eddy, Tim Finney, Alex Goldberg, Matt Goldenberg, Rob Kemp, Anthony Miccio, Molly McAleer, Chris Molanphy, Kate Richardson, and Al Shipley–not to mention all the other writers and friends who pitched in with a guest-blogging day or two–thanks. Each one of you brought something to the site that I never could, and it was a pleasure working with you and learning from you.

Special thanks to Jess Harvell, who was a fine foil and remains an even finer friend, and Michaelangelo Matos, whose organizational skills on our year-end wrapups were only matched by his enormous reservoir of patience. Finally, thanks to Brian Raftery, without whom I wouldn’t be sitting on my couch typing this right now.

(And of course, thanks to you, too.)

Thank You Friends [YouTube]

One More List Before We Go: The Top 12 Idolator Posts Of 2008

As you may have gathered, I’m raring to close the book on 2008, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t run down some of the site’s highlights during what was a pretty dreary year overall. After the jump, behold a pretty subjective top 12 of the year (thanks to our technological limbo I can’t run any sort of numbers, but I think this list accurately captures the best moments we’ve had during a long slog of a year). And of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank all of you for coming back, reading, commenting, and pointing out when I get shit wrong (which is too often). If you think I got this list wrong, feel free to abuse me with compliments in the comments section!



1. Your favorite albums from each year you were alive, July 3 / your favorite singles from each year you were alive, Aug. 29. The comments on these were so much fun. Plus: Demographic studies!

2. Jess’ illustrated guide to horrorcore, Oct. 30. It didn’t make me want to listen to the Insane Clown Posse, but it was still awesome. As was Jess’ tale of just how Chinese Democracy came to be.

3. Chris Molanphy breaks down just how much the major labels loathe singles, Aug. 28. I wonder often if we’re just entering a redux of the “rockers as new Zeppelins” phase, if only because so many “good” rock bands these days are so damn self-serious.

4. Butch Walker and Patrick Stump interview each other, Dec. 16. Smart, funny, candid, and slightly juicy! Plus it’s nice to know that band geeks being cliquey and weird is a phenomenon that wasn’t restricted to my high school.

5. Sonseed: Were they for real?, Sept. 9. Our look at whether or not the “Jesus Is My Friend” viral video was legit, or just a concoction of a well-financed CollegeHumor competitor, sure fired up one former member of the band.

6. The two types of “bromance”: An investigation, Aug. 4. This clearly needs a sequel on why certain dudes act like sugar-fueled Jonas Brothers fans when confronted with music by Animal Collective.

7. TV On The Radio give copyeditors conniption fits, Oct. 2. Speaking of investigations…

8. Al wonders if any blog favorites will cross over to the world of mainstream rock radio, Aug. 29. Someone should try and drop a Fleet Foxes track into a classic rock station’s playlist and see if anyone notices!

9. Kate gets horrified by the Clique Girlz, June 5. On the bright side, their abject awfulness will sound even worse during the global economic collapse, so we’ll never have to hear of them again maybe.

10. Ten artists who should be very glad they’re not Axl Rose, June 30. Should give you the shivers.

11. Mario Paint music: A look back, Feb. 22. Finally, we bring together “Never Gonna Give You Up,” “Yakety Sax,” and adorable mushrooms!

12. Chad Kroeger’s hidden talents that should have stayed hidden, March 10. Lede of the year, for sure.

Music Writing: Hazardous To Your Well-Being

tko.jpgAnd I don’t just mean your mental state (although that certainly gets its knocks)! The Guardian today looks at the long, glorious history of musicians and fans giving back to those people who dare criticize the music they love. And by “giving back,” I mean “physically attacking, sometimes with knives.” I can’t tell if these stories are making me feel better because the only retributions I’ve received are mean e-mails or if they make me feel worse for not saying things that get people really riled. But my colleague has apparently not had the same problem as me! After the jump, I talk to Idolator’s own Jess Harvell about his top three biggest threatdowns.

mauraatidolator: so tell me: what have been your top three threats as a rock critic? Here are the details I want:
mauraatidolator: a. nature of the threat!
mauraatidolator: b. what inspired said threat!
mauraatidolator: c. did you call the police?
mauraatidolator: and … go!
jessdolator: ok
jessdolator: 1. A.) I was spit on at a show in Baltimore by some random lady after someone who knew who I was, i.e. music editor for the local paper, pointed me out to her. B.) From what I could discern through her drunkeness/rambling, I probably gave a friend’s band a mediocre review. C.) I did not call the police, because I didn’t perceive a 108 lb woman with a lot of saliva and good aim as a danger to my person. Though I did need to wash the jacket.
jessdolator: 2. A.) I came into work one morning to find a threatening message in my voicemail, where the caller seemed to be saying they were coming looking for me to do me some non-specific harm. B.) Honestly, I have no idea. It could have been writing-related or it could have been some guy who dialed the wrong extension when he wanted to threaten the classified department. C.) I did not call the police, but I referred said message to my higher-ups. I dunno what, if any, action was taken. But I’m still here.
jessdolator: 3.) At a bar one night, after learning what I did for a living, a gentlemen proceeded to shower me with epithets, climaxing with him hoping that I got “cancer of the ears.” (Admittedly I was drunk by that point, so he might have been saying “cancer of the anus.” But I assumed ears, what with the whole rock critic thing.) B.) Because rock critics still get hated on in small cities. C.) I did not call the police. But the bartender told dude to chill. And he did.
mauraatidolator: Which was the scariest?
jessdolator: Well, I dunno about “scariest,” or even “most violent,” since none of them actually got to the hitting stage. But I have to admit the phone call was pretty unnerving, mostly because it’s always a little weird to wake up to someone saying they’re out to get you. But again, it might not have even been directed at me.
jessdolator: Which doesn’t make it any less unnerving!
mauraatidolator: Vaguely threatening phone messages are really scary!!
mauraatidolator: I mean, have you seen the ads for One Missed Call?
jessdolator: The technological terrors of our time.
mauraatidolator: Any final thoughts on the “people vs. rock critics” phenomenon? Also: Should I start going out of my way to bait people?
jessdolator: I do not miss getting spit on while trying to enjoy my night out, so thank you, Internet, for providing me a with forum that people don’t read next to me while I’m sitting at the bar. Also, yes, but if you’re really lucky, you’ll piss off a musician and get a song written about you, joining the ranks of greats like John Leland and, uh, Guccione, I guess.
mauraatidolator: Well, as long as nobody takes me to task for my dad getting more pussy than I do, I guess I can live with that.
jessdolator: I don’t think anyone’s questioning how much pussy you get.
mauraatidolator: Holla!
jessdolator: Girl, please.

Musical hack attacks [Guardian]

The Vault: Life Without Buildings Envisions A World Without Quonset Huts And Lean-Tos

lwb.jpgScottish band Life Without Buildings broke up in 2002, before they could really benefit from being an early-adopter in indie rock’s renewed 21st-century postpunk arms race. But while the band expertly combined classic twee-era Brit indie jangle with cooler cardigan coordinates like Josef K and Orange Juice, Life Without Buildings fans were often really Sue Tompkins fans. Like the ebullient hoots and hollers of the ladies of Kleenex and Sugarcubes-era Bjork, Tompkins sang inscrutable–like Beckett-level inscrutable–love songs in a gust of childlike yelps. The band only released one proper album, 2002′s Any Other City, but the soon-to-be-released Live from the Annandale Hotel, a live show from Sydney, Australia, bristles with bouncy joy. Seriously, you won’t hear another record this year where the singer sounds so damn excited to be alive.

Life Without Buildings – Juno (Live) [MP3, link expired]
Life Without Buildings – The Leanover (Live) [MP3, link expired]
Life Without Buildings [Official site]

Beth Ditto Poses Nude on the Cover of NME, Internet Readies Seventh-Grade Fat Jokes

snipshot_e4ongujdgqu.jpgAs you may have heard, Gossip singer Beth Ditto has displayed the majesty that her momma gave her on the cover of the NME this week. So wait, a few years ago, nudie shots of Ditto were confined to the lesbian sex mag On Our Backs and now she’s being anointed the “Queen of Cool” by the U.K.’s most toilet paper-worthy tabloid while wearing nothing but painted-on kisses? Did we miss a meeting?

In America, where we saw the Gossip play one of the best shows of ’06 to a half-empty club, Ditto is free from having to think about how she is viewed by large groups of the unwashed when she strips down to her underwear as if she was at an Olympia house party after Ladyfest. In England, the Gossip is turning out to be a regular little rock phenomenon, and so Ditto finds herself with the option of posing in the raw, back fat and all, on the cover of the country’s most well-known (if little respected) music weekly. Ideally right-thinkin’ folks should be thrilled by this turn of events, given the increasingly pneumatic norm of sexiness being peddled by pop culture, a kind of uniform female beauty that would bring a tear to Henry Ford’s eye. Yet there’s a weird and sordid “two steps back” feeling about it all, as if Ditto stuffing her junk in society’s face has been instantaneously co-opted by a magazine getting off on the freakshow factor–copies to be sold, controversy to be manufactured, or hell, the creation of a potential new trend! Nu-fat? Fat-rock? They’ll think of something–of an outspoken “big girl” who happens to be the frontwoman of a band on the rise.

But maybe more worrying than who’s zooming who on the exploitation front is the incoherent and kinda pathetic way that post-riot grrl Ditto flip-flops in the accompanying interview about the complicity of the fashion industry and the media in fostering eating disorders, impossible beauty standards, and all sorts of other bad shit. Not to sound all nostalgic for the black and white ideologies of the pre-Misshapes days, but does someone wanna photocopy their old Bikini Kill zines and FedEx them to England? Meanwhile, at least until this particular blip in the media cycle fizzles out, we can, uh, look forward to lengthy and pointless comments box/message board debates about whether being fat is a “choice” and what constitutes being “unhealthy,” endless junior high zingers, and the sinking feeling that, no matter where you come down on this “issue,” hardcore feminism is a weird 20th-century aberration we’ll someday tell our confused grandchildren about.

It’s The Return Of Pick Of The Fork!

pitchfork.jpgYes, for one time only we are reviving one of our wackest most beloved features, where we dig up the gonzoest of the gonzo writing at Internet indie-rock tastemaker site Pitchfork. Except this time, we have expanded it to include not just recent Pitchfork reviews but reviews from the site’s entire history!


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Brooklyn Academy Of Music To New York City: “No Sufjan, No Credibility”

sufjan.jpg
Adorable, baseball-capped yupster and indie-rock money printing machine Sufjan Stevens has been awarded a commission at the Brooklyn Academy of Music‘s 25th annual “Next Wave Festival,” which starts in October. The composition is titled “The BQE,” and it will focus on the whimsical secret history of the expressway, an almost-forgotten story about how penny candy saved the life of President Taft, the great diphtheria scare of 1919, the origin of the phrase “street urchins,” Mae West’s genital deformities, and how the English bulldog came to be imported to America.* Another rocker stepping on the high art stage at BAM is Erik Sanko of the band Skeleton Key. If you don’t remember them, they sounded like Primus but they had a guy who played trashcans and empty bottles. Come to think of it, that might be why you don’t remember them.

Dance, and More, in Brooklyn Festival [NYT]

* Note: We’re just guessing here.

Do Be “Cruel”

suffer-time.jpgWhat the blogs were posting, uh, a year ago: Meat Puppets drummer Derrick Bostrom has been running his Bostworld blog for a few years now, each post rummaging around in Bostrom’s attic-cluttered noggin and pulling out one of his idiosyncratic obsessions: yellowing ’50s newspaper articles about Ike (Eisenhower, not Turner), frayed restaurant menus from the bygone era of three-martini lunches, hit parade entries perhaps forgotten even by the folks who made them. It’s a helluva lot more interesting than “Arcade Fire Watch Hour 679: Win clips his toenails.” Mountain Goats frontman/Last Plane to Jakarta overlord John Darnielle recently introduced us to part seven in Bostrom’s “Reports from the Country” series of nuggets from (mostly) pre-countrypolitan Nashville. Its 14 songs present a heartwarming vision of base human cruelty and American society on the verge of collapse set to sweet pedal steel and down-home harmonies. Particularly inexplicable is Dottie West’s “Mommy, Can I Still Call Him Daddy?” which has to be one of the oddest and most brutally honest (or just plain brutal) songs about divorce in history, finally answering the question, “Does this mean daddy doesn’t love me anymore?” The collection is still available to download, and everyone who doesn’t mind having catchy ditties about child abuse and child abandonment stuck in their head all day should check it out. All together now! “Slap her down again, paw, slap her down again…”

Dottie West – Mommy, Can I Still Call Him Daddy? [MP3, link expired]

Jane, Stop This Crazy Thing

snipshot_e414rb86rsc4.jpgHello, I’m Jess Harvell. I don’t own a home computer at the moment. I can’t “work an RSS feed.” I have never knowingly looked at Stereogum. I don’t have cable. My knowledge of pop culture these days is almost entirely down to what one of the editors of this site copies and pastes to me in IM chats. I write for your mortal enemy Pitchfork for the beer money. I’m an editor at a great alt-weekly and couldn’t care less about the industry’s machinations or its slow collapse into complete irrelevance. I think Idolator’s slogan is pretty lame. Nice to be with you.

I was going to do some more MS Paintings for this guest editorship, but do you know what they’re paying me?

Ride The Pink Pony Of Love

snipshot_e41awmgcvu9x.jpgWho among us hasn’t dreamed of wearing a leopard-print dress with Eazy-E in full Native American headdress printed on the bottom right? Hope Perkins has been painting rappers (dead and otherwise) and other pop-cultural totems (David Bowie in his Labyrinth Tina Turner drag) onto her designer clothing line Hot Pink Pistol for a minute now, but we were only tipped off to her work, like, yesterday by a friend (and disembodied Idolator comments box zing-master). The clothes aren’t particularly designed for the zaftig–and if you’re a dude you’re SOL–but if you’re in the 6-10 size range, then you owe it to yourself to pick up a “Cap’n Biggie” to wear to your next dinner party or dice game. Otherwise, you can always buy, say, an Eazy E suitcase or one of Perkins’ paintings. Some of them are a little creepy–you know, Chippendales dancer body with pink My Little Pony head, stuff like that–but it’s wearable/hangable/useable cute-creepy, so it’s okay. See, you thought the only thing that came out of Austin these days was SXSW hype.

Hot Pink Pistol [Official site]