Lauryn Hill is finally playing recognizable shows, and it is glorious

Categories: Commentary

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Brandon Marshall
These days, buying a ticket to a Lauryn Hill concert is basically like buying a lottery ticket-you're either going to end up a little more broke and a little more bitter than yesterday, or you're going to strike gold. No question, Ms. Lauryn Hill is volatile. Her tours from recent years are littered with scathing reports of her chronic tardiness, distant affect, and inscrutable renditions. Reports from this tour have been somewhat mixed, but in general one of the greatest artists of the '90s has returned to form. She was certainly there in Denver.


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The ten best songs by awful musicians

Categories: Commentary

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Stopped clocks are right twice a day. Geoffrey Arend is married to Christina Hendricks. Performance artists get federal funding. Canada is south of Detroit. People wear Google Glass and think they look awesome. Some things you just can't explain, like how really shitty bands occasionally luck into recording splendid songs. To wit, here are the 10 greatest songs ever recorded by not-so-great musicians:


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Country music's ten biggest douchebags

Categories: Commentary

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The White House
Guess who's back?
Mainstream country music gets an unfair rap as being universally over-polished and formulaic, a notion that artists like Kacey Musgraves and Eric Church obliterate every time they strap on their guitars. But there's a granule of truth to the stereotype, and a particularly damaging subgenre -- known as "bro-country" -- is lending it far too much credibility right now. In light of a certain artist occasionally known as Chris Gaines' announcement this morning about his impending announcement, we thought we'd take the chance to call out the worst offenders.

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Candles as band merch: An in-depth, intensive look with GG Allin and Mumford and Sons

Categories: Commentary

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Perhaps you have noticed increasingly ridiculous merch options on your favorite band's web site. In addition to the T-shirts, hoodies, posters, and brass boat necklaces (?) found in their online merch section, for example, Sigur Ros once introduced their "Vardeldur candle" for the princely sum of $23.50. The site described its scent thusly:

The smoky, slightly briny smell of a flotsam campfire on a distant black beach under a wan midnight sun. And, most recently, the smell of Sigur Ros's studio, while they go about the quasi-mystical business of making the magic happen. Specially developed to the band's olfactory specifications, this candle burns for 35 evocative hours of "instant Iceland, or something like that.

Much to our delight, upon perusing the merch sections of a few other artists' websites we discovered that they, too, had candles for sale.

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Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson is wrong about punk

Categories: Commentary

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Todd Owyoung for the Riverfront Times. Full slideshow here.
Bruce!
Bruce Dickinson rules. He's the greatest singer for one of the greatest bands of all time, Iron Maiden. But recently, he unleashed some pretty charged words in an interview with The Guardian. In addition to dropping one of the most incredible quotations ever, "fame is the excrement of creativity," he also said a few harsh words about punk rock, referring to it as rubbish and saying that the lack of talent in punk was an excuse to call it performance art. He goes on to state, "Half the kids that were in punk bands were laughing at the art establishment, going: 'What a fucking bunch of tosspots. Thanks very much, give us the money and we'll fuck off and stick it up our nose and shag birds.'"

Not totally untrue. The problem, however, lies in his words that immediately follow that thought:

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Ten rules to follow at underground dance music concerts

Categories: Commentary

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Brandon Marshall

By Sarah Stanley-Ayre

Electronic music's recent surge in popularity comes with serious side effects for underground-party aficionados. Suddenly, Daft Punk is winning Grammys, and drunk girls (and guys) are ruining life at 4 a.m. in a warehouse somewhere.

Take this recent incident: Under a haunting pink hue Dustin Zahn tended to his machinery, hands poised above the knobs. My body was carried by the sound, hips oscillating, hair in my face, arms outstretched, at worship. I was in ecstasy, but I opened my eyes to someone shrieking, "Can you take a picture of my tits?"

She pushed her smartphone onto a bewildered onlooker. Much to my dismay, he aimed its lens directly at her protruding cleavage and snapped a series of photos. Her drunken friend laughed, peering into the phone's screen and haphazardly sloshing half of her drink onto the dance floor. In short, the magic was gone.

I could spend time being mad at these random people, but that would ultimately lead to nothing but more bad vibes. After talking to friends and other musicians who experience the same tribulations, I have assembled ten rules for proper underground dance-party etiquette.

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Five music writing clich├ęs that need to die

Categories: Commentary

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Image via YouTube
Earlier this year, I read the following sentence on a popular music website about the Cloud Nothings album: "The band continues to make powerfully utilitarian music for people who don't seek out this type of music just to be told what to think." I read it over and over again until my eyes rolled back into my head. It is perhaps the most inscrutable piece of music writing ever published, because not only does it imply that some people turn to a band like Cloud Nothings to "be told what to think," it also makes the claim that Cloud Nothings somehow subvert that expectation.

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Why Mayhem Festival's split Denver bill is a gift to serious metal fans

Categories: Commentary

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Brandon Marshall. Slideshow
Last year at Mayhem Festival.

One month after the full Mayhem Fest tour announcement which includes only five of the boasted 19 bands at Red Rocks July 14, the tour has announced an accompanying Taste of Mayhem show. The Fillmore will host the other 14 acts on July 13, including Cannibal Corpse, Suicide Silence and Miss May I.

Mayhem Fest was pummeled in social media for its confusing announcement about which bands would play Denver and for moving from Fiddler's Green to the pricier, less mosh-friendly Red Rocks. Tour co-founder John Reese stepped in to explain the unusual format and venue changes, and assured Denver that another announcement was on the way. Here it is.

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Colorado vs. Minnesota: Music nerds argue before tonight's Avalanche-Wild Game Seven

Categories: Commentary

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Right image by Flickr user Ciscel. Left image by Eric Gruniesen
Colorado (left) vs. Minnesota
Tonight, the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild will play one more time to determine who moves to the next round of the playoffs. In honor of the occasion, I got into an Internet debate with our favorite Minnesotan, Drew Ailes, that is somewhat about our state's respective music scenes and mostly about nothing at all. But I think we can all agree that Colorado definitely kicks the crap out of Minnesota on all fronts, including music and hockey.

Okay, maybe it doesn't. I don't know. It doesn't matter. This isn't about reality. This is about the blissfully objective world of sports, where there is a good guy and a bad guy and also a winner and a loser, and a clear, numerical distinction between them. Go, Avs!

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Even country music is ready for marijuana legalization

Categories: Commentary

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It has been rough and rocky traveling for cannabis cowboys for most of the 40 years since "Me and Paul," the hounded-by-the-Man classic in which Willie Nelson tipped off like-minded longhairs to the presence of narcs in Laredo. "If you're staying in a motel there," he warned dryly, "don't leave nothin' in your clothes."

By Alan Scherstuhl

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