On Monday night, Lady Gaga took to the Grammy stage and performed a series of David Bowie songs. She put her best effort forward, but the performance as a whole felt discombobulated due to whirlwind medley and Gaga’s distracting theatrics. I don’t necessarily blame Gaga for this disappointing display; the Grammys have always tried to squeeze as many performances into the music industrie’s night of self congratulations, but it might have been wiser to have simply performed one or two classics and given them the time and focus they deserve.
In the age of digital media, the idea of album artwork seems a bit archaic, but if you’re anything like me, you still hold the intrinsic connection between music and art to be sacrosanct. Below you will find what I deem the 20 best images to be seen on the cover of albums in 2013. You can go get a closer look at that place your parents used to go to called the record store.
Let’s face it – Bill Hicks was a genius. Taking a cue from the all-time great George Carlin, Hicks infused his rebellious comedy routine with a heavy dose of philosophy. His views on society, government, religion, and drugs are still thought-provoking and profound 20-years later. Recently while watching his 1992 special Relentless I had a moment of confusion. While talking about the music industry’s penchant for performing fellatio on the Devil, Hick’s quipped, “Let me tell you something right now, you can print this in stone and don’t you ever forget it: any performer who ever sells a product on television is for now and all eternity removed from the artistic world.”
In this episode I take a look back at some of the highlights and low-lights from the South By Southwest Music Festival, 2013. You’ll hear new tracks from artists like Marnie Stern, Foxygen, Flaming Lips, TV Ghost, and Pissed Jeans as well as some classics from Afghan Whigs and Songs: Ohia.
Marnie Stern “Year of the Glad”
TV Ghost “Phantasm”
Foxygen “No Destruction”
Flaming Lips “Sun Blows Up Today”
Action Bronson “Gateway to Wizardry”
Pissed Jeans “Teenage Adult”
Afghan Whigs “Going to Town”
Songs: Ohia “Just Be Simple”
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Just moments before sitting down to write about the best and worst of the South By Southwest music festival of last week, I found out about the death of Jason Molina, the troubled genius behind folk-blues outfits like Songs/Ohia and Magnolia Electric Company. This news would have been unsettling and heartbreaking regardless of what I was about to embark on, but sitting here trying to write about my 10th year at the music festival, I can’t help but think back to my first year in attendance and how I got to see Magnolia Electric Company perform at The Parish.
A lot has changed since that night a decade ago when Molina first enchanted me with his fragile, somber voice. Over the years I’ve seen SXSW grow along with my understanding of the festival and all its nuances. I think back to those performances from the first few years and wonder where the festival’s one time luster has gone. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a great week, seeing dozens of bands each day, but along with the growth of social media, SXSW has become more about the hype and less about discovering unpolished gems like my friends and I did 10 years ago with Jason Molina and his band. Yes, Dave Grohl, Stevie Nicks, and John Fogerty played a surprise set together, as well as Prince and Green Day (badge only shows), but due to the influx of speculation and misinformation within the Twitter world, I was unable to see several shows I would have in years past due to the miles of sheep lined up in hopes of seeing MTV TRL darlings like of Usher and Justin Timberlake.
Yet as much as these moments of frustration tainted my week, I still relished my chance to see up-and-coming artists pour their hearts out on the stage. Within the past ten years I’ve seen unknown artists perform at SXSW that went on to big time success (Bon Iver, The Fleet Foxes, and TV On the Radio), and I expect that many of the artists seen this week will go on to do just the same. Who knows? Maybe in ten years folks will be lining up for miles to see some of my favorites from this past week while I roam 6th street, 10 years older and wiser, in search of that next great unearthed treasure.
In memory of Jason Molina, I present to you my list of the best and worst of SXSW 2013.