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ARCADE FIRE S 




Win Butler 
Bruce Springsteen 




The Conversation 



ON THE EARLY DAYS, THE GLORY DAYS, 
AND THE END OF DAYS 



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SPIN 



DECEMBER 2007 

FEATURES 



60 



74 



Bruce Springsteen 
& Win Butler 

A living legend and his brightest acolyte 
meet in this exclusive interview to talk 
about family, fandom, and falling into the 
abyss. PLUS: Little Steven's mission to save 
rock'n'roll, ev steve kandell 

The Spin Interview: 
Beth Ditto 

The Gossip's full-figured frontgrrrl sounds 
off on Britney and K-Fed, eating squirrels, 
and the lie of "healthy." by phoebe reilly 




82 Pusciffer 

From Tool to A Perfect Circle to his new 
side project (yes, it's pronounced pussy 
fur) — a peek inside the private world of 
rocker turned vintner Maynard James 
Keenan. by iohh mcalley 

91 Wu-Tang Clan 

A buyer's guide to the best (and the rest) 
of Staten Island's finest. PLUS: Myths and 
rumors, choice cuts, and a graph of the 
group's cultural connections. 

BY CHRIS RYAN AND ADAM MATTHEWS 



96 Emo Voice 

Is it a fine whine or just an annoying yelp? 
An in-depth look into the origins of rock's 
most ubiquitous vocal style. 

BY DAVID PEISNER 

103 Gift Guide 2007 

Some of the best swag to give your loved 
ones this season, according to two guys 
who should know a thing or two about 
holidav cheer. 



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Copyrighted material 



SPIN 



DECEMBER 2007 



DEPARTMENTS 

12 Publisher's Letter 

18 Contributors 

20 Editor's Letter 

22 Soundcheck 

28 Feedback 

30 The Spin Mix 

35 Noise 

Answering burning questions about 
Radiohead's In Rainbows; Shia LaBeouf 
goes gangsta; the Spin 20; the varied 
teachings of Slash's autobiography; Lil 
Wayne comes clean about workaholism 



and beef in the Inquisition; bending 
elbows and talking chaps with Turbonegro; 
Ellen Page struts her stuff in Media Horde; 
when good rock stars make bad movies; 
unearthing the Dragons' long-lost album; 
Lupe Fiasco shows us what's in his room. 
PLUS: The Virgins, Robyn, and MGMT 
are Breaking Out. 

136 Rock City 

Embrace the blues (and punk and hip-hop) 
with Spin's guide to Memphis. 

UP The Hidden Track 

How The Song Remains the Same became a 
metaphor for the limits of a fan's devotion. 

BY BRIAN RAFT£RY 



REVIEWS 



111 CDs 

Radiohead's In Rainbows, Daft Punk's Alive 
2007. Alicia Keys' As I Am, Say Anything's In 
Defense of [he Genre, Dillinger Escape Plan's 
Ire Works, and dozens more! PLUS: Reissues 
and essential dancehall 

130 Movies 

Juno, The Butterfly and the Diving Bell, There 
Will Be Blood, and Youth Without Youth 

134 Live 

Of Montreal bring their rococo rock 
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INSIDE SPIN 



PUBLISHER'S LETTER 



Good for You 

Spin would like to thank everyone who contributed to making the first year of our 
U-Pick Subscription Donation Program a success! If you don't already subscribe, 
now is your chance to do your part and support these great organizations. 

n 





SILVERLAKE CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC 



OUR U-PICK CHARITY PARTNERS 
Road Recovery: Helps young people through 
mentoring, educational, and live-perfor- 
mance-based programs (roadrecovery.com). 
Silver lake Conservatory of Music: Facilitates 
basic music education (silvertakeconservatory. 
com). Surf rider Foundation: Dedicated to 
the protection and preservation of oceans, 
waves, and beaches (surfrider.com). VHi 
Save the Musk: Dedicated to ensuring all 
U.S. public school students have access to a 
music education program (vhisavethemusic. 
com). YouthAIDS: Uses media, pop culture, 
music, theater, and sports to stop the spread 
of HIV/AIDS (youthaids.org). 




VHI SAVE THE MUSIC 



YOUTH AIDS 



Throughout 2007, Spin helped these partners raise money and generate awareness by 
extending our support and sponsoring various live music fundraisers, galas, and 
events. Still, there is much work to be done, and we hope readers will continue to be 
generous in their support of these important causes in 2008. — Malcolm Campbell 



SPIN SALUTES CHRIS SCHUBA 



All of us at Spin would like to express our sincere thanks and 
appreciation for the 17 years that Christopher Schuba has 
dedicated to this magazine. After 35 years in the magazine 
business, Chris has decided to retire from print sales. I especially 
will miss his contributions, as I started at Spin in Chicago with 
Chris in the early '90s, and everything I know about this 
business (good and bad) I have pretty much learned from him. 
We wish him the best as he focuses all his attention on his 
live music venue. If you happen to be in the Windy City, we 
recommend checking Schubas out. 





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SPIN 



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research associate David Marchese 



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PHOTO DIRECTOR Michelle Egiziano 
associate photo editor Gavin Stevens 
assistant photo editor Jennifer Edmondson 



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interactive director Peter Gaston 
ASSOCIATE EDITOR. ONLINE Mackenzie Wilson 
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PRODUCTION and it director 
Timothy Wudarski 
ASSOCIATE PRODUCTION DIRECTOR 

Erech Swanston 

DIGITAL IMAGING SPECIALIST 

Eli Neugeboren 

CREATIVE CONSULTANT Mary Alice Stephenson 

CONTRIBUTORS Andrew Beaujon. David Browne. 
Timothy Gunatilaka, Will Hermes, Dave Itzkoff, Robert Levine, 
Greg Milner, Troy Patterson, David Peisner, Brian Raftery, 
Ira Robbins, Ian Robinson, Josh Wimmer, Mikael Wood 



INTERNS Adele Balderston, Haley M. Bemstein, Jennifer Besserman, 

Amanda Clary, Ely Delman, Joseph Coscarelli, Alana Heiss, 
Kayleigh Horrath, Catherine Kim, Kyle McGovem, Sarah Mulligan, 
Alisa O'Connor, Sean O'Kane, Zarinah Williams, Kate Zimmerman 



PRESIDENT Tom Hartle 

Spin Media LLC / The McEvoy Group LLC 
CEO Nion McEvoy 
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VP AND coo Tom Fernald 
creative CONSULTANT Heather Luplow Hartle 

founder Bob Guccione Jr. 



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INSIDE SPIN 



CONTRIBUTORS 




Joao Canziani 

Photographer, "I, Puscifer" (page 82) 

♦ The L.A.-based Canziani, 34, found Puscifer's Maynard James Keenan both aloof 
and in tune with nature. "He only talked a handful of times, and every once in a while 
he'd point to some trees," he says. "We later realized there was a bald eagle." Canziani 
also shoots for Travel + Leisure. Favorite album cover "Any old-school Blue Note release." 





John McAlley 

Writer, "I, Puscifer" 
(page 82) 

<- One thing that surprised McAlley 
during his visit to Keenan's vineyards 
was the quality of the rocker's booze. 
"As celebrity wines go, it's a lot closer 
to Coppola's," he says. "Definitely better 
than whatever Vince Neil is bottling." 
McAlley is a freelance writer and 
editor based out of Dallas. Favorite 
Tool song: "/Enema" 



Amy Henry 

Prop stylist, "Radiohead, Inc." 
(page 35), "Booty Call" (page 1031 

-> Designing the photo for the news story 
on In Rainbows, Henry contemplated 
whether a cluttered desk equals a 
cluttered mind. "I hope not," says the 31- 
year-old. "Mine looks like Martha Stewart 
and Francis Bacon got wasted together, 
then did some paperwork." She can be 
found at amyhenryproductions.com. 
Favorite Radiohead album: OK Computer 





Lane Brown 

Writer, "Radiohead, Inc.'' 
(page 35) 

Former Spin research associate, now 
coeditor of New York's Vulture blog, 
Brown got great insight into Radiohead's 
new business model by talking to one of 
its masterminds. "Jonny Greenwood said 
the whole thing was easy," Brown, 26, 
says, "so I'm pretty sure any band could 
do it on their own." Favorite Radiohead 
song: "Electioneering" 



Copy 




INSIDE SPIN 



EDITOR'S LETTER 




Rites of Springsteen 

IF YOU WERE A NEW YORK CITY high school student and music geek 
at the dawn of the '80s, it was almost impossible not to have an opinion 
about Bruce Springsteen. I loved the primal urgency of "Born to Run," the 
Latin-tinged vibrancy of "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)," and Patti Smith's 
devastating reading of "Because the Night." But the snob in me resisted 
what I heard as lyrical cliches (railroad tracks, highways, edges of towns) 
at a time when snarling upstarts were busy changing the language of rock. 

One memorable senior trip took us to Great Adventure, an amuse- 
ment park on Springsteen's home turf of New Jersey. Playing at the 
amphitheater that night were Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, 
whose boisterous cover of Sam Cooke's "Having a Party" had been a 
local FM radio staple. At the time, I dismissed them as competent 
E Street Band wannabes (Bruce and his guitarist Little Steven were even 
frequent collaborators). The show was fun, but felt too familiar. Back 
then, Springsteen's influence could be heard in other slavish imitators, 
such as John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, and also in Meat Loaf, 
who amped up the bombast to Wagnerian proportions — a variation I 
perversely preferred to the real thing. But that was decades ago, when 
Springsteen worship was at full strength, and punk and new wave were 
what we misfits listened to. I've since come to appreciate the humor and 
specificity of his narratives as the work of a supremely gifted storyteller. 

Today, there's a very different slew of artists who have embraced 
Springsteen's widescreen Americana and Dust Bowl romanticism passion- 
ately and without irony — most notably the Hold Steady, the National, 
the Killers, Ryan Adams, and Canada's Arcade Fire, whose Win Butler 
joins Springsteen for this month's cover 
story. Filled with fascinating insights into 
their shared obsessions and very divergent 
histories, it's a discussion that gets to the 
hungry heart of two of rock's most original 
voices. Hope you enjoy the issue. 




Doug Brod 
Editor 




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WEBSTER HALL, NEW YORK CITY 

The Hives 

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 

Opening arena shows for Maroon 5 may have its privileges, 
but at a headlining gig on a night off, the Hives' Howlin' 
Pelle Almqvist literally gave all of himself to a wired audience. 
"I've crowd-surfed since I was a wee boy," says the manic 
frontman. "I don't really do anything to please the fans. I do stuff 
because I think it's fun, and usually that pleases the fans, too." 

PHOTOGRAPH BY JEN MALER/RETNA 




MEZZANINE, SAN FRANCISCO 

Crystal Castles 

Saturday, October 6, 2007 

It's always memorable when Toronto's Crystal Castles deliver their 
tweaked-out eyeliner-soaked Nintendo-core to gawking crowds, 
though not always for the group. "We played San Francisco?" singer 
Alice Glass jokes. She does, however, recall the girl-power source of 
the duo's name: "It was She-Ra's fortress in the sky, of course!" 

PHOTOGRAPH BY MISHA VLADIMIRSKIV 





FEEDBACK@SPIN.COM 



THE SEX PISTOLS' BOLLOCKS' TURNS 3C 

SPK^Mf 




Only on SPIN.com! 




■^SPRINGSTEEN PARKING LOT 

We hung out in the parking 
lot with rabid tailgaters at one 
of Bruce Springsteen's recent 
New Jersey concerts. Check out 
our exclusive video and relive 
the magic. 

spin, com/decembercover 




A Very Good Year 

As someone not alive in 
1977 but who loves the 
music, I could not have 
been happier when my 
October issue came 
in the mail. I love that 
you got together some 
of the biggest names 
in 70s punk in 2007. It 
was cool seeing where 
everyone is now. And 
Debbie Harry is still hot! 

GEORGE GRAY 
MINNEAPOLIS 

For the first time since 1 can remember, I 
read Spin cover to cover. You presented 
quality music journalism about music 
that actually matters. All my favorite 
bands were highlighted, and you even 
introduced me to groups I'd never heard 
of, who made music Til probably enjoy. 

RYAN BUNCH 
TOLEDO, OHIO 



UBLES 



Look-alike? Or not? 
Scott Stapp 




CHARLES AUBREY SITTERSON 
Age: 24 Life as Stapp: "I'm not 
into Jesus and don't use as much 
body grease, but otherwise we're 
exactly the same." 

Do you resemble a rocker? Send us a photo 
and lei us decide. E-mail a high-resolution 
.)pg file and your phone number to 
sceingdoubles@spin.com. 




Spoiled Rotten 

If people keep pointing cameras at 
Johnny Rotten ["Fighting Words," 
October], it will only encourage him. 
Congratulations, Spin: You managed 
to capture a self-important blowhard 
at his blowhardiest. Punk is a young 
man's (or woman's) game, and I 
cannot think of anything less punk 
than an aging goofball who is still 
trying to hang on to glory from 30 
years ago. 

MIKE HALLICK 

LITTLE FALLS, NEW JERSEY 

A mere two pages on the Clash, 
passing mentions of the Jam, 
Buzzcocks, and Television, while the 
Sex Pistols once again get the cover 
feature? Never Mind the Bollocks is to 
punk what Biz Markie's "Just a Friend" 
is to rap: Both are fun when you're 
drunk, but you would never hold them 
up as the prime example of a genre's 
inarguable greatness. 

HILARY HATTON 
VILLA PARK, ILLINOIS 



Chef's Surprise 

It was interesting to read Anthony 
Bourdain's thoughts on how 1977 



wasn't that great of a year [The 
Hidden Track, October] when you had 
a whole issue praising it. But maybe 
that's a testament to the fact that great 
music can make you forget about bad 
politicians, drug overdoses, and disco. 

JUDITH HARDEE 
BANGOR. MAINE 

I just read the October issue, and 
the only saving grace was Anthony 
Bourdain's article that summed up 
the scene as it really was. I echo 
Bourdain's sentiment that the Sex 
Pistols were "a proto-TM Sync," so I 
was disturbed to find you treating 
Johnny Rotten as some sort of voice 
of a generation. Doesn't anybody 
remember that the Pistols were 
the product of Malcolm McLaren's 
marketing? That's not very punk. 

VICKIE HALL 
SAN FRANCISCO 

CONTACT US Gotosptn.com/ 
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Please include your full name, mailing address, and 
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OET SPIN BACK ISSUES CM* the Issue by 
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card info, check, or money order tor $10 to: isi spin, 30 
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to six weeks for delivery. You can also call 800-274-7597. 



-> FINDING EMO 

This month's in-depth report on 
"emo voice" traces the history of 
one of today's most popular vocal 
styles. We brought video cameras 
to shows around New York and 
chatted with some of the genre's 
most devoted fans to find out what 
emo really sounds like. 
spht.com/findingerno 

-> HALLOWEEN IN ATHENS 

Wr follow Breaking Out band 

MCMT on a Halloween escapade 
through the streets of Athens, 
Georgia, during their tour 
supporting Of Montreal. Find out 
what psych rockers do for fun on 
the spookiest night of the year. 
spin.com/mgmt 

->THE GIFT OF GIVING 

Browse our online holiday gift 
guide and find the perfect presents 
for everyone on your list, whether 

they've been naughty, nice, or 
otherwise unclassifiable. 
spin.com/giftguide 



The SPIN.com Poll 

Sure, Elliott Yamin has a Christmas 
record, but what band would you 
like to see make a jaw-dropping 
holiday album? 

A Arcade Fire 
B Daft Punk 
C Radiohead 
D Foo Fighters 
E The Hives 
F Coheed and Cambria 
Cast your vote at SPIN.com! 



28 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.5PIN.COM 



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THE SPIN MIX 



Songs You Need to Download Now! 

Go to SPIN.com for samples and links to these tunes, vid clips, and more 




Jay-Z "ROC BOYS (AND THE WINNER IS...I" Rejuvenated by American Gangster, Jay's again rapping 
exuberantly about selling drugs. As a result, the poetry is flowin': "Bullet wounds will stop your buffoonery." 

The GOSSip "CARELESS WHISPER" I LIVE) At Amsterdam's Melkweg club, a barefoot Beth Ditto 
I turns the coy, guilty sway of George Michael's '80s ballad into a throbbing, stomping, existential barn burner. 

Born Ruffians HUMMINGBIRD" There's not a more eager indie-rock yelper than this Toronto trio's Luke 
LaLonde. Tight but ramshackle, the band hoots, "We're not gonna die like this!" and you think, "What? You're, like, 14!" 

M OaSiS "LORD DON'T SLOW ME DOWN" A thick money clip of guitars (more Yardbirds than Beatles) barrels 
U along fraternally, pausing for a couple of quick drum solos, while Noel Gallagher bids sobriety farewell— again. 

Qa Hot Chip "SHAKE A FIST" These Brit electro-poppers go from goofy hipsters to dance-ftoor-bleeping 
EJ geniuses with this headphone throwdown of synth bass and bizarre chants: "Lef s raid another chalice." Huh? 

M BUCky Sinister "LIKE A REAL LIFE ADAM SANDLER" Beware of hot tweaker punk girls who know 
LJ all the words to "Rapper's Delight" and smell like cheap beer. So says this hilarious Bay Area comedian. 

M.I. A., feat. Bun B and Rich Boy "paper planes iremix)" mi a and Dipio live their 

Efl gangsta-rap fantasy to the fullest, as Bun B gets his "Robin Hood on" over a mesmerizing Gash sample. 

W White Denim "LET'S TALK ABOUT IT" Shouting, "Let's react to it!" these heady Austin, Texas garage 
l£M punks storm off in all directions at once, before sputtering to a stop over electronic gurgles. Whewl 

The Lady Tigra "SWITCHBLADE KITTY" Half of '80s Miami bass duo LTrimm ("Cars With the Boom"), 
the "stainless and flossy" Tigra is back with an eerily sweet-natured electro ditty about a not-so-concealed weapon. 

Lil Wayne, feat. TWiSta "BURN THIS CITY" Over a creepy, echoing sample of Franz Ferdinand's 
'This Fire," Weezy revives his "Fireman" persona and blazes on randomly, getting "sicker than bird flu." 

RadiOClit "DIVINE GOSA (SWITCH REMIX r Radiodtt are a London-based production duo, and Switch 

is the guy M.I.A. called after getting pissed at Diplo. Together, they concoct a brilliant electro squelchfest. 

Nathaniel Mayer ~i want love and affection (not the house of correction)" Mayer 

was a raspy-voiced 22-year-old in jail on a stolen-car rap when he cut this R&B scorcher, now reissued, in 1966. 



Modem Life IS War "F-K THE SEX PISTOLS" These Iowa hardcore idealists give a brutish rejoinder 
Spin's 77 punk issue: "Fuck the glory days!" "Stupid fucking jaded burnouts!" "Shut the fuck up!" Etc. 



Must-See Videos 



The Black Ghosts 

"Some Way 
Through This" 

If there's one thing the bar- 
baric denizens of this video's 
dystopian Lego city love, it's a 
thick electro- pop groove. 
Little yellow men and women 
dance, drink, patronize strip 
clubs, ignore homeless 
people, and kill one another. 
The dark, pseudo-political 
message isn't very subtle, and 
it's softened only by the 
kaleidoscopic psychosis of the 
Gondry-biting gimmick. 



Final Fantasy 

"Your Light Is Spent" 
In this installment of The Take- 
Away Snow— from French 
music blog La Blogotheque— 
Final Fantasy (a.k.a. Owen 
Pallett) strolls through 
the damp streets of Paris, 
softly plucking his violin, 
crooning a quirky lullaby. It's 
impressive how delicately 
clear the song sounds, 
especially considering that 
Pallett constantly giggles 
and breaks into a jog about 
halfway through. 



Etana 'WRONG ADDRESS" A heartbreaking acoustic reggae lament about a woman who gets rejected 
for a job because she comes from the wrong hood, i.e., "People die there every day." 

Lightspeed Champion "XANADU" Dev Hynes, one-third of art-drips Test Icicles (the worst band 
ever on Domino Records) recasts himself as a folkie softy, covering Olivia Newton-John. And if s kinda touching. 



Regina 
Spektor 

In the middle of this clip, 
Spektor sings, "If you never 
say your name out loud to 
anyone / They can never, 
ever call you by ft." That's a 
moot point when every- 
body is Regina Spektor, 
which is the case in this 
video that finds her frolick- 
ing with a dozen or so of 
her look-alikes. It may be a 
tribute to the possibilities 
of stem-cell research, but 
she's probably just looking 
to build a melancholy army 
of tike-minded friends. 



BabyshambLes 

"French Dog Blues" 
Pete Doherty's life often 
seems absurd, so it's 
appropriate that he and his 
mates appear only as cartoon 
characters in this druggy jam. 
The band members watch a 
drunken, prison-striped, 
fez- wearing dog get beaned 
by a shuttlecock, share 
a wink with a Magritte 
painting, and get in the 
way of a falling piano. It's 
all a frothy hallucination, no 
chemicals required. 




30 DECEMBER2007WWW.SPIN.COM 



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k Copyrighted material 




On the evening of September 
30, from his home in Oxford, 
England, Radiohead guitarist 
Jonny Greenwood upended 
decades of music-business 
tradition with a simple post 
on the band's blog: "Well, the 
new album is finished, and it's coming out in 
ten days. We've called it In Rainbows." Free 
from their six-album record deal with EMI 




<3& 



(Capitol Records in the U.S.), 
Radiohead released their seventh 
album as a digital download 
themselves, with no list price. Fans 
could also shell out £40 (about $80) 
for a box set (which includes a vinyl 
version, a disc of bonus tracks, 
and a book), while those wanting 
a conventional single CD would 
have to wait until January, when In 
Rainbows will hit retailers. 

"It's certainly not a comment 
on the music business," says 
Greenwood. "We wanted to 
experiment and get the music 
out quickly. We didn't put much 
more thought into it than that." 
Still, the surprise announcement 
set off a flurry of discussion. As of 
October 10, the world knows what 
In Rainbows sounds like (see our 
review on page 111), but plenty of 
questions remain. Here, with help from 
some experts, we answer a few. 

How much did all of this cost 
Radiohead? 

When you subtract the expense 
of manufacturing, printing, and 
shipping CDs, distributing albums is 
fairly cheap. Tony Creenberg, CEO of 
RampRate, a company that advises 
clients such as Disney and Microsoft 
on how to deliver content over the 
Internet, estimates that the price of 
distributing the MP3s, hosting the 
files, and processing credit cards was 
probably less than a dollar per album 
downloaded— and that was mostly 
offset by the go-cent transaction 
charge levied to those who chose 
to cough up for the files. (The band 
still have to pay for their own studio 
time and producer fees, which are 
typically covered— but then charged 
to the artist— by a label.) And it's 
not like Radiohead have thousands 
of employees on the payroll. Says 
Greenwood, "We put a message 
on our blog, and the small group 
of people at W.A.S.T.E. [Radiohead's 
online merchandise company] did the 
rest. It's a cottage industry, really." 

How much money will they make? 

At press time, the only people who 
know how many copies of In Rainbows 
have been downloaded are the 
band, their management, and their 
IT department. But early indications 
suggest that the pay-what-you-wish 
model paid off— a survey conducted by 
The Times of London found that 3,000 
people claim to have spent an average 
of $8 for the album. In a traditional 
major-label deal, a band of Radiohead's 
stature would earn up to $3 per CD. 

The band could make as much as 
550 on every deluxe box sold, after 
deducting manufacturing and shipping 



36 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 



'Plenty of bands could 
dothis:DMB,U2." 



R.E.M. MANAGER BERTIS DOWNS 



4 



costs, estimates Ted Cohen, managing 
partner of music consultants Tag 
Strategic and a former vice president 
at EMI. "It'll be the most profitable 
album of this current era," says Jon 
Cohen of Cornerstone Promotion, a 
marketing company that's worked 
with Radiohead. 

Now that they have my personal 
info, what's the band going to 
do with it? 

To download the album, customers had 
to provide their names, addresses, and 
telephone numbers, which struck some 
as an Orwellian tactic. "Obviously, we're 
going to find the biggest, most powerful 
corporation we can and sell [the data] 

at the highest price," Greenwood says 
with a laugh. "What's more likely, 
though, is we'll occasionally e-mail 
these people, and invite them to be 
taken off the mailing list if they want." 



Greenwood may be 
nonchalant, but plenty would 
pay dearly for that info. "It's 
worth a fortune," says Cohen. 
"But if they chose to exploit the 
database and sell it to other 
acts or brands, that's where 
this business model breaks." 
Avoiding 'head spam is pretty 
easy, however. "People are asked 
to put in an address and a phone 
number," says Greenwood. "But 
I never put in my real phone 
number or address." 

Will there be extra tracks on the CO? 

Radiohead's managers have suggested 
that when In Rainbows arrives in stores, 
there could be additional material not 
included on the download. "If the band 
is smart, they'll probably do something 
to differentiate that physical release, 
by adding a DVD or bonus material, 
but they won't just release a duplicate 
of what's already been out there," 
says Cohen. "That will make it more 
of a must-have." That's good news for 
retailers but could alienate fans who 
already paid for In Rainbows once. 

Does this signal the end of record 
labels as we know it? 

CD sales are already down 18.5 percent 
from last year. Could a thousand 
Radioheads make things much, much 
worse? "It's clever," says Jonathan 
Poneman, cofounder and president 



of Sub Pop Records. "But Radiohead, 
with their history and fan base, are in a 
unique position to pull this off. I don't 
think it's necessarily indicative of the 
way things are going to be done in the 
future." It's worth noting, however, that 
the marketing and distribution power 
of EMI helped Radiohead build such a 
dedicated following. "It doesn't seem 
like a model you'd want to try from the 
ground up," says Bern's Downs, R.E.M.'s 
manager. "The thing Radiohead have 
going for them is that people care." 

Who might try this next? 
While Celine Dion and Rascal Flatts 
are unlikely to forgo major-label 
distribution anytime soon, just days 
after Radiohead's announcement. Nine 
Inch Nails, Oasis, the Charlatans UK, 
and Jamiroquai all hinted that their 
next albums would be self-released. 
"There are plenty of bands that could 
do this," says Downs. "Dave Matthews 
Band, U2— anyone still touring, with 
a brand name and an identity built up 
through the years." 

How does one celebrate toppling 
traditional modes of music 
distribution and pricing? 

"That's a good question," says 
Greenwood, reached the afternoon of 
In Rainbows' release. "At the moment, 
I'm stuck talking to you on the phone. 
You sound delightful, but right now, 
you're between me and a long glass of 
something alcoholic." 



/ 



Yorke and Co. weren't the first band to cut out the middleman 



In the pre-lnternet era, 
anyone keen on snag- 
ging free music by jam 
godfathers Grateful 
Dead just had to mail 
blank tapes and postage 
to some random dude, 
then wait by the mailbox 
until the goods arrived. 
Consider it a primitive 
version of peer-to-peer 
marketing, since the Dead 
famously allowed fans to 
record and freely distrib- 
ute copies of their live 
shows. Then, in 1972, they 
decided not to re-sign 
with Warner Bros., opting 
instead to start one of the 
first artist-owned record 



companies. After kicking 
around such notions as 
selling albums out of 
ice-cream trucks, Grateful 
Dead Records launched in 
1973 under the direction 
of guitarist Jerry Garcia's 
friend Ron Rakow. 



As expected, a label run 
by San Francisco hippies 
wasn't exactly a model of 
efficiency. "In those days, 
if you didn't keep putting 
out records on a regular 
basis, the distributors 
wouldn't pay you," says 




the Dead's Bob Weir. "So 
releasing only one or two 
records a year wouldn't 
feed the bulldog." Add 
in mismanagement and 
millions lost on Garcia's 
pet project, The Grateful 
Dead Movie, and the label 
folded in 1976, leading 
the newly impoverished 
band to sign with Clive 
Davis' Arista. Still, Weir 
is closely watching 
Radiohead's strategy and 
hoping they succeed. "The 
crux of the issue," he says, 
"is whether people will 
be willing to honor and 
support the music they 
love." RICHARD CCHR 



Meet Vann. 



eMusic 

Vann digs the West Coast sound But when 

he wants something completely different, 
he's all about eMusic Because with over 

- 

to download them over his phone - 
I 



Sports 

If he's not texting, Vann is checking 

his MEdia'" Net page for scores and 
updates - he's a full-on fanatic 
who's always up to date with 
what's going down in 
the league 



i 

.■I 

1 



— MySpace Mobile 

Vann's got a lot of friends So he's always getting 
texts when one of his fnends posts something 
on MySpace. Or he's posting a pic from his 
phone, it's nonstop 



Video Share 

Sometimes Vann shares a live rendition of 

his / Am So Great dance with his boy 
Jimmy white they catch up 
over the phone. 



This is Vann's digital world 

You've never met him but now you know what he's like 



What can AT&T do for your digital world? 

att.com/digitalworld 



Copyrighted material 




Cage Heat 

After he wraps up Indiana Jones 
and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 
Disney Channel alum and Transformers 
star Shia LaBeouf may be tackling 
a far less family-friendly role: The 
21-year-old hopes to play horror-core 
rapper Cage in a biopic that should make Eminem's 
8 Mile look like Mary Poppins. Though LaBeouf only 
recently began speaking about his admiration for 
Cage— the actor even flashed the hand sign for 
Cage's crew, Cardboard City, on Saturday Night Live in 
April— he's long been a fan of the rapper's nihilistic, 
profanity-strewn rhymes. "I have been listening 
to Cage since I got into hip-hop when I was 12," 
LaBeouf says during a break from filming the fourth 
Indy flick. "I grew up on the West Coast listening to 
a lot of 2Pac and Eazy-E, so when I found out that 
Cage was white, it was incredible. I'd never heard 
anything like that." 




Truck yourself: C 



ansformers set. 



Indy 4's Shia LaBeouf sets 
sights on indie rapper 

Years later, LaBeouf reached out to Cage as a fan. 
"He wanted to do a documentary on me, but I deleted 
the first few e-mails thinking he was just another 
random film student," the MC born Chris Palko recalls. 
"When I mentioned it to some friends, they were 
like, 'Are you kidding me? I fucking love [LaBeouf's 
Disney series] Even Stevens'.'" Soon after, Cage allowed 

"I have been listening 
to Cage since I was 12." 

LaBeouf to film his 2006 tour, at which point the 
actor decided that the Def Jux rapper's tumultuous life 
story— which included hard drugs, suicide attempts, 
and a stint in a psychiatric ward— was big-screen 
worthy. "I was a basket case, with a head full of PCP," 
Cage says of his past. "My story's real as fuck, and 
I'm confident that we can capture that." 

That grittiness spills directly into Cage's back 
catalog, which matches ear-twisting surrealism with 
moments of stomach-turning misogyny and vio- 
lence. "After circle jerks I wash my hands off and do 
dirt / Sick with a smirk, plus I be disturbed / Fucked 
the first two bitches like dogs, and I jacked off on 
the third," he rhymes on "Agent Orange," where he 
imagines himself as psycho delinquent Alex from 
A Clockwork Orange. 

Even though LaBeouf has yet to tap a writer or 
director, he's eager to take on a role that will 
confound an industry expecting him to be, as Steven 
Spielberg has said, "the next Tom Hanks." "It's 
kind of like how no matter what film De Niro was 
making, he was always ready to pull Raging Bull out 
of his back pocket," LaBeouf says. "Cage is my Jake 

LaMotta." CHRIS FARAONE 



The Spin 

20 



Ranking 
on Pop 
Culture 
Since 1998 



STARTING YOUR BEST-OF-2007 LIST Remember: A 
vote against Against Me! is a vote against America 

GOOGLE PLANS THE GPHONE Dr. Dre has ordered 
three prototypes based on the name alone 



MADONNA ABANDONS LABEL Warner is broken 
and nostalgic for the '90s. Just like Carlos Leon. 

LIAM GALLAGHER DECLARES THE OASIS-BLUR 
FEUD OVER But the Gay Dad-Kuta Shaker kerfuffle 
will be waged for generations to come 

| THE LESS-POPULAR PLEAS ON IPETITIONS.COM 

We've brought the "Get Silverchair to play in 
Manila!" tally to a grand total of two 



ELECTRO SHOEGAZE ACT WORKING FOR A 
NUCLEAR FREE CITY Ironically, they're the bomb 



SEAN COMBS ACCUSED OF PUNCHING RIVAL In 

Diddy's defense, his left hook was sampled from Sting 

THE HALL AND OATES CHRISTMAS TOUR Weirdly, a 
Daryl Hall kiss has been on your mom's lips since '83 

SHITDISCO CANCEL TOUR DUE TO CYCLICAL 
VOMITING SYNDROME The bus driver bailed 

MYSPACE.COM/SANTOGOLD Like M.I.A. meets 
Mya, with far better rhyming skills than either 



iTHE INEVITABILITY OF A CLINTON-GIULIANI 2008 
SHOWDOWN Ross Perot, your time is now 
SCORSESE PLANS GEORGE HARRISON DOC 
His Wilburys initiation? Capping Brian Epstein. 






LABEL SUES PEREZ HILTON FOR BRITNEY LEAKS 

Why is this affidavit covered in fake cum stains? 






T.I. ARRESTED ON FEDERAL GUN CHARGES 

What you know about gat? He knows all about gat! 


LOCKW 




CRAZY EXPENSIVE NEIL YOUNG TICKETS A heart of 
gold apparently needs 510,000 a week for upkeep 


o 




CATS 

Still nature's little clip art 


i 

o 


17 


PHARRELL DEVELOPS REALITY SHOW FOR TEENS 

First, they have to capture a bathing ape in the wild, 
and then they have to find Chad Hugo 


— fi— 

S3 
s§ 


18 


BLOG LOVE FOR '90s TRIBUTE ALBUMS Can't wait to 
hear what Matt Pond PA does with Marcy Playground 


;s 
> 3 


19 


INSANE CLOWN POSSE'S GREATEST HITS 

Amazingly, they left out both "Santa's a Fat Bitch" 
and "Swallow This Nut" 


O * 

is 

-5s- 


20 


WORRYING ABOUT THE TIMELINESS OF MAGAZINE 
PUNCH LINES IN THE SPED-UP INTERNET AGE Have 
you guys heard about this new Radiohead album? 


C f= 

a o> 
z3 



38 DECEMBER2007WWW.SPIN.COM 



ILLUSTRATION BY CAMERON STEWART 



The all-new Impreza. Add more places to your playlist. 

Meet the Subaru Impreza, the only car in its class' with All-Wheel Drive standard for improved handling. And with 
features like a powerful 170-hp Subaru Boxer engine and an available Touch Screen GPS Navigation System with audio 
and video inputs, you'll find that all roads lead to fun. Ready to move. It's what makes a Subaru, a Subaru. 



SUBARU 




I 



Slash Is in Session 

Entertaining and educational, the guitarist's 
autobiography. Slash (HarperCollins), offers a crash course 
for aspiring rock gods. Here's what we learned. 



ICats and dogs are 
for pussies. He 
prefers to play with 
mountain lions and 
snakes, because "earning 
the trust of an animal 
that might eat you in the 
wild is a defining and 
rewarding experience." 

2 Don't solo on the 
snow. Playing 
guitar on cocaine is 
"as awkward as the first 
time you try to ski." Still, 
he takes to the powder 
like Bode Miller. 



// 



3 Crack, not that 
wack? After smok- 
ing rock with Mega- 
deth's Dave Mustaine, 
he comes up with some 
"major heavy-metal riffs, 
just fucking dark and 
heavy as hell." 

M How to pilfer 
#. a python from a 
pet (tor*. The 

snake lover's method 
involved "wrapping them 
around my wrists and 
then putting my jacket 
on, making sure that 
they were nestled high 
enough on my forearm" 
before walking out. 

5 Date a porn star. 
Really, you should. 
While seeing '80s 
triple-X icon Traci Lords, 
Slash realizes he was 
"never one of those guys 
who was judgmental 



about her line of work. 
He likes her for who she 
is. And also because he'd 
"seen her in this movie 
where she was bent over 
holding her ankles....She 
looked amazing." 

6 Leather pants: 
fashionable, 
comfortable, and 
absorbent. "When you 
pee yourself in them," 
he writes, "they're more 
forgiving than jeans." 

7 Needles, not 
noses. Any method 
of drug ingestion 
besides intravenous is "a 
conscious decision to be 
inefficient." 

8 Ax I always wins. 
Even though Slash 
finds the line 
"Where the grass is 
green and the girls are 



pretty" in "Paradise 
City" to be "totally gay," 
he has to defer. (Slash's 
preference, by the way, 
was "Where the girls are 
fat and they've got 
big titties.") 

9 And If he doesn't.. 
While driving with 
the frontman. Slash 
gets into an argument 
with Rose, causing the 
singer to jump from the 
moving vehicle, stumble 
to the sidewalk, and 
run away. He reappears 
days later "as if nothing 
happened." 

Mf% Caveat 

I emptor, dude. 

I w Sleep with a girl 
nicknamed "Craberon" 
and you catch what you 
deserve: "She gave each 
and every one of us 

crabs." DAVID MARCHESS 



Slash finds that 
hailing a cab 
in Los Angeles 
isn't very easy. 




Buzzcatcher 

UNDER THE RADAR AND 
BLASTING FROM OUR OFFICES 




Drug Rug t 



who: A girlfriend-boyfriend-led band 
from Massachusetts takes fuzzy garage 
rock and shimmering power pop and 
makes them claw each other in a cock- 
fighting ring until all that's left is a pool 
of stoned, fragmented shout-alongs. 
latest: Drug Rug (Black and Greene) 
for fans of: Matt & Kim, Pavement 

Ravens & Chimes 

who: Five winsome New Yorkers string 
together frothy melodies and croon 
brokenhearted lullabies about wander- 
ing the streets in a snowstorm, latest: 
Reichenboch Foils (Better Looking) for 
fans of: The Shins, the New Pornographers 



Boys Noize 



who: Having remixed artists as varied as 
Feist, Marilyn Manson, and Bloc Party, 
German-Iraqi DJ Alex Ridha combines 
methed-up drums, constipated key- 
boards, and the sound of modems making 
love for a neck-snapping, rump-shaking 
stew, latest: Oi Of Of (Last Gang/Turbo) 
for fans of: Aphex Twin, Kraftwerk 

Magnet School 

who: Four Austinites infuse their bar- 
band anthems with tangy rhythmic flour- 
ishes and slather on the psychedelia like 
it was barbecue sauce, latest: Tonight 
We Drink...Tomorrow We Battle the Evil 
at Hand (Arctight) for fans of: Secret 
Machines, Dinosaur Jr. 

Sick of Sarah 

who: The women who make up this 
Minnesota quartet bow at the altar of riot 
grrrls' days gone by while simultaneously 
thumbing their noses at scowling chick- 
rock cliches. The songs are as bracing as 
they are familiar, latest: Bittersweet EP 
(Adamant) for fans of: The Breeders, 
Sleater-Kinney 



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THE INQUISITION 



Lil Wayne 




Getting an audience with Lil 
Wayne is tricky. Interviews are 
pushed back, postponed at 
the last minute, and often just 
canceled. But it's not late-night 
partying keeping Weezy occupied: 
Dude is working. His latest album, Tha 
Carter III (Cash Money/Universal), caps off an 
astonishingly productive two years for the 
25-year-old New Orleans MC (born Dwayne 
Carter), which has seen him churn out 
rhyme after rhyme for mix tapes, other artists' 
songs, or just to give away online. When we 
finally catch up with him in Atlanta, he holds 
up a CD-R. "I've done 18 songs in the past two 
days," he says. "I'm in the studio every night." 



Don't you have any other hobbies? 

I haven't found nothing that excites me more. Pussy, 
no. Money don't even do it for me. I hate strip clubs, so 
that's not what I'm going to do. If I ain't onstage, I'm in 
the studio. I'm only going out when you pay me. I don't 
see nothing more exciting than doing a new song. 

Between your own stuff and guest spots, you've 
put out a ridiculous amount of music recently. Don't 
you worry people will get sick of you? 
No, because I'm not calling these [artists], saying, 
"Can I get on your song?" They call me. I just don't 
know how to say no. 

But there's this perception that you'll jump on 
anyone's track as long as they pay you. Do you feel 
that the fact you can't say no could be a problem? 

I can feel any way I want to about it— there's a person 
in charge of me now who makes the decisions. 



So you've hired people to say no for you. 
Yeah, basically. My boss. [Points at his manager) The 
artists know how it goes: They see me and ask me, and 
I'm like, "Yeah, send me the song." I'll do it that night, 
send it back, then they're like, "We couldn't get that 
[sample] cleared." I'll be like, "I don't do that part of it." 

With all your success, you still haven't had a 
massive crossover single. Does that bother you? 
I ain't worried about that. It's all about being heard, 
it ain't about being bought. I do what I do. I would 
be the dumbest nigga in the world to try to do what 
anyone else is doing. Have you heard anyone that 
sounds like me? No. I'm like Prince: You can't under- 
stand me, but I'm great. 

Some of your recent material is pretty out-there— 
"I Feel Like Dying" is almost psychedelic. Do you 
worry about alienating your old fans? 

I initially think that, but shit, I feel like if you ain't 
paying attention to me, you're not doing wise things. 
You listen to Lil Wayne, and you're doing something. 
Different is great. Different is needed. 

There was a big uproar when that picture of you 
and Cash Money CEO and rapper Birdman kissing 
hit the Internet Last year. Why is hip-hop so 
obsessed with homosexuality? 

I wouldn't give a fuck about what people saying. 
Man, Reverend Run, every fucking show, kisses his 
oldest son. Where they fag rumors at? I guess that's 
because it's his real son. But just because Birdman 
never laid down with my mama— that's my real pop. 

"I'm like Prince. You 
can't understand me." 

In the position you're in, a lot of rappers take shots 
at you. How do you decide whether to respond? 
I never responded to no one. Never dissed no one 
in my life. 

What about [ex-Cash Money associate] Gillie Da Kid? 

I never said nothing about no Gillie. 

What about "Shirt softer than Gillie" on "I Can't 
Feel My Face"? 

Oh, right. That's one line I put in there. It's just real 
quick. I ain't gonna run from you, but you ain't gonna 
get no whole song. I got too much going on. I would 
never spend a whole song degrading somebody else. 

On "Beat Without Bass," you took a little shot at 
Jay-Z for being too old to rap ["You old-ass rappers 
better stay on tour / You like 44"]. Do you still want 
to be rhyming when you're his age? 
Hell, no. When I'm 30 or 35, 1 don't want to be into 
this shit no more. I want to own a basketball team or 
some kind of team. 

You really think you could give up rapping? You said 
yourself that you're in the studio every night. 

That's why I'm in the studio every night! Now, I'm 25. 
You think I'm gonna be doing this shit ten years from 
now? Or even five? That's my drive. Imagine when I'm 
gone, y'all are going to be finding more shit. I'm alive. 
I'm here. I ain't finished. 

BY DAVID PEISNER 

PHOTOGRAPH BY KEVIN TRAGESER 



42 DECEMBER2007WWW.SPIN.COM 



■ 



THE AFTER-PARTY 




Turbonegro 

Once the cheering stops and the crowds file 
out, it's time to unwind. This month, Norway's 
favorite sleaze-metal deviants let us tag along. 



SEPTEMBER 25, MOTOR CITY BAR, MANHATTAN 



> Hello Sailor! 

Perhaps you stumbled into Motor 
City, a Detroit-themed (duh) dive on 
Manhattan's Lower East Side, saw all 
the drunken revelers wearing white 
sailor hats, and assumed it was Fleet 
Week. But if this mob is representative 
of our naval forces, we'll all be speaking 
Mandarin by decade's end. Fear not— 
it's just a bar full of Turbojugend, the 
slavishly faithful fans of Turbonegro, 
playing host to their heroes following 
a raucous set at Times Square's Nokia 
Theatre. "When you play a show like that, 
it takes hours to get the adrenaline out 
of your body," says gloriously portly lead 
singer Hank Von Helvete. "You might as 
well use the energy to socialize." 

> Chaps Optional 

Thanks in part to their bus driver's 
nervousness about finding a parking 
spot, it's nearly 2 a.m. before Von Helvete, 
guitarists Euroboy and Rune Rebellion, 
and bassist Happy-Tom make it to the 
bar, and they've changed out of their 
campy stage garb. In Von Helvete's case, 
that means he's lost his star-spangled 
chaps and Alice Cooper mascara and, 
mercifully, gained a T-shirt. (He salutes 
his full-figuredness in "Everybody 
Loves a Chubby Dude," a standout from 
Turbonegro's latest album, Retox.) 
"Once the show is over, the costumes are 
off and we're just normal punks hanging 
out. That's very important for our mental 



health," says the once-institutionalized 
frontman, gulping a beer. 

> Yacht Rock 

Much like the Hitler Youth that perhaps 
inspired their name, the Turbojugend are 
nothing if not organized. Just a couple 
weeks ago, the New York chapter put 
together a boating trip, despite the fact 
that the group's president went AWOL. 
Asked what happened to his predeces- 
sor, Kevin, the current head (clad in the 
Turbojugend uniform of a crisp denim 
jacket adorned with Turbonegro patches) 
says, "We don't know. He disappeared." 

> Last Call 

Tucked in the corner by the bar is Nick 
Oliveri, late of Queens of the Stone Age 
and presently of Mondo Generator, 
who opened for Turbonegro tonight. 
Wearing a dick won't suck itself T-shirt, 
Happy-Tom poses for photos with 
buxom fans and seems to have found a 
taker.. .or two. Three hours earlier, Von 
Helvete was leading people in a chant 
of "I got erection!" but as 4 a.m. nears, 
he slumps on a stoop outside the bar 
and speaks softly about his mission to 
make rock'n'roll rebellious again. "You 
got white middle-class kids walking 
around with saggy jeans and Clocks to 
show that they hate their parents," he 
says. "We want to tell them it's okay to 
play guitar and drink beer to show that 
they hate their parents." steve kandell 




From top left: Euroboy and Von Helvete sweat it out; Happy-Tom needs to use the 
phone; Von Helvete and Happy-Tom press the flesh; Nick Oliveri and Happy-Tom 
find that cigarettes make lousy toothpicks 



44 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 



Copy 




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THE VERSION FANS HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR! 

REMIXED SOUNDTRACK ADDED PERFORMANCES NEW EXTRAS 



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Newly remixed and remastered soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1 
supervised by the band. 

For the first time this two-disc DVD is loaded with over 40 minutes 
of extras: now includes all 16 songs from the original concert. 

Never-before-released performance footage of: 

Celebration Day (cutting copy) • Over the Hills and Far Away. 

Plus performances of: Misty Mountain Hop • The Ocean. 

Vintage TV footage: Peter Grant interview - Led Zeppelin robbed 
during the New York concerts, a rare 1976 BBC interview with 
Robert Plant and Peter Grant and a 1973 Tampa news report. 

Also, radio profile spotlight by Cameron Crowe (1976) 
and the original film trailer. 




LIMITED COLLECTOR'S EDITIC 

Indudes the Spetial Edition DVD plus: 
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MEDIA HORDE 



"The first album I really 
threw myself into was 
Radiohead's Amnesiac. 

I remember hearing 
'Pyramid Song' when 
I was in grade eight, 
and I went crazy for 
it. I would listen to it 
when I woke up, all 
day during school, and 
then when I got home. 
I love Radiohead. 
I fucking love Hail to 
the Thief, and I like 
Thorn Yorke's solo 
album [The Eraser]." 




"I went backpacking 
in Eastern Europe 
earlier this year and 
saw CocoRoste play 
in Vienna. It was in 
this supertiny venue, 
and you could pretty 
much touch them. In 
a lot of their music 
there are noises that 
sound like toys, and 
they have all of those 
noisemakers laid out 
on a big table [at their 
shows]. They actually 
use children's toys." 




"I'm on a big nonfiction 
kick right now, but I do 
love Haruki Murakami. 

His writing is really 
weird and dreamlike, 
but also unbelievably 
realistic and sincere. 
Kafka on the Shore is 
such a beautiful book. 

It's like a modern 
fairy tale— everyone 

can connect to it." 



Ellen 
Page 

The guide to how 
entertainers 
entertain 
themselves. 
This month: 
The star of Juno 
talks acoustic 
guitars and 
flying elephants. 





"My character in Juno is 
a big fan of classic punk. 

I'm not crazy about a 

lot of it, but I do love 
the Slits. They've never 
really gotten the respect 
they deserve, but they 
are really rhythmic and 

genre-bending. And 
I'm a colossal Patti 
Smith fan. I love Horses, 

obviously, but I also 
read her poetry. There's 
something strong and 

beautiful about her." 




"Growing up, I watched 
a ton of Disney movies. 
Dumbo is my favorite. 
I think it's the only 
Disney film where 
the main character 
doesn't speak, and 
the story is just so 
devastating. Even 
today, if I watch Dumbo, 
it shreds my heart to 
pieces, even when he 
makes it at the end." 




"I play guitar, and 
my new acoustic is a 
Durango that [director] 
Jason Reitman gave to 
me as a really sweet 
gesture. It means a 
lot to me, because 
it reminds me of 
working with him on 
Juno. My old guitar 
is now sitting in the 
shadows. I hope it 
doesn't feel neglected." 




"I'm not good with 

comedies for some 
reason— I tend not to 
have a great attention 

span for them— but 
Waiting for Cuff man 
is one of my favorite 

movies of all time. 

I consider myself a 
Cuffy; I've seen it more 
than 30 times. Parker 
Posey cracks me up." 




"There was a time 
when I drove a lot, and 
it should have been 

illegal for me to listen 
to Sleater-Kinney's The 

Woods while I was in 
the car. That album is so 
raw and so rocking, and 
I just go crazy every time 
I hear it. Chicks who rock 

are the best. I would 

love to know what it's 
like to be [Sleater-Kinney 

drummer] Janet Weiss 
or Karen O— to be a cool 

chick who rocks out." 



Co 



SAFETY. 

FAST. 

THE 2008 FUSION. 




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Copyrighted material 




IN MY ROOM 



Lupe 
Fiasco 

The globe-trotting MC 
takes us inside his 
suburban Chicago house 



1 JEANS "These are special Levi's from Japan called 
Flu, with all types of reflective doodads. I'm a big 
denim guy. Jeans are probably the only thing I'll 
wear more than once or twice. The most expensive 
pair of jeans I ever had were $1,100." 

2 REEBOK JACKET "This is from my deal with 
Reebok— in the end, they only made one pair of 
Lupe shoes. I wore the jacket to a Nike party. Some 
of the Nike execs were there— they weren't feeling it." 

3KANYE WEST'S 30TH BIRTHDAY INVITE 
"The party was at the Louis Vuitton store in New 
York. I doubt they'll let us back, though— there was 
mad theft. They left everything out on the shelves!" 

M GOYARD BAG "It's a very expensive bag [about 
# a $1,500). There's probably underwear, socks, 
™T deodorant in there. This is for day trips, but it's odd 
because my day trips are like, 'I'm going to London for 
two days, I'll be back. I'm just gonna take the Coyard.'" 

5 CAMOUFLAGE BOOK "This is the most 
comprehensive study of camouflage ever; it's 
called Disruptive Pattern Material It was written 
by a friend of mine, designer Hardy Blechman, who 
has a clothing line called Maharishi. I probably have 
about $10,000 worth of his clothes in a box somewhere." 

6 WEE NINJA DOLL "That's made by my homies 
who have a company called Shawnimals. Now 
they're doing a video game called Ninjatown for 
the Nintendo DS. I wear a miniature one on my belt." 

7 SKATEBOARD DECK "This is the deck that 
inspired the cover of my debut, Food & Liquor. 
[The basement of this house] is the only place 
I skate around here. I made holes in the walls." 

8 LYRIC BOOKS "These are all my rhymes from 
high school; this is one of my earliest ones. This is 
gold right here, gold! I used to collect words and 
phrases, like 'butter knife,' 'subterranean,' 'psychedelic.'" 

9 SWORD "My father taught me that you have to 
treat a sword like a person. It has a soul. That's the 
[Japanese] way. Some kids were playing with my 
sword and disgraced it, so I bent it. It's dead. I was gonna 
bury it, but I didn't want to just put it in the Dumpster!" 

/t KEEPSAKES "This is my box of memories. 
I Here's an old BlackBerry, my high school ID, 
I %J my first checking-account card. When I got 
my first record deal, there was $3,000 in it. Now there's 
$20 in it. I still keep it, just in case I need that $20." 

BY JOSH MODELL 
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOE WIGDAHL 



MORE ABOUT LUPE 



second album, Lupe Fiasco's The Cool 
(Atlantic), looming, the Chicago 
rapper is still tinkering in the studio, 
which happens to be in the basement 
of this house— one of two he owns 
in the Windy City. "I still need to 
write, record, mix about eight songs 
in the next eight days," he says, 
laughing. As soon as he's done, 
however, Lupe is likely moving out. 
"I'm probably going to Paris," he says 
casually. We'll expect an invite. 




NOISE 



It's like 
Gerry meets 
Heartbeeps. 
But French. 





Reel Gone 



With Daft Punk's bizarre Electroma arriving on DVD, we ask: 
What happens when good musicians make awful movies? 



The Beatles 

MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR (1 9671 

This unscripted bit of banal surrealism 
about the Fabs sharing a bus with a pack 
of loons is mercifully short, though it 
includes a colorful Busby Berkeley homage 
set to "Your Mother Should Know." 
A rarely humbled Paul McCartney— 
whose turn as a fey wizard ranks among 
the lowlights— admitted afterward, "We 
don't say it was a good film." 



Kiss 



KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF 
THE PARK [19781 

Armed with thick outer-borough accents, 
Gene Simmons and Co. battle a mad 
scientist who has taken over an amuse- 
ment park. The ghastly acting and Scooby 
Doo-level script transformed this modest 
made-for-TV movie— finally issued on 
DVD this year— into a Rosetta stone of 
'70s camp. 

Paul Simon 

ONE TRICK PONY 119801 

Simon wrote and starred in this sleepy 
dramedy, stretching as a nebbishy 
Jewish rock star, soon after appearing 
in Annie Halt, and the whole enterprise 
reeks of second-rate Woody. Despite its 
sanctimonious tone, the film features 
appealing turns from the B-52's (as them- 
selves) and Lou Reed (as an unctuous 
record producer). 

Neil Young 

NEIL YOUNG: HUMAN HIGHWAY [19821 

Using the nom de cinema Bernard Shakey, 
Young cowrote and codirected this with 
future Quantum Leap star Dean Stockwell. 
But with clunky dialogue and haven't- 
finished-reading-the-manual-yet cinema- 
tography, the sci-fi tale about a diner near 
a nuclear power plant would barely rate as 
a student film. It's salvaged only by Devo's 
cameo as singing blue-collar drones. 



50 DECEMBER2007WWW.SPIN.COM 




)&1 




Prince 

GRAFFITI BRIDGE [1990] 

Disappointed that Purple Rain wasn't 
preachy enough and didn't have any 
keytar? This is your movie! Morris Day 
remains a hoot as Prince's bumptious 
nemesis. But this feature, written and 
directed by the Napoleonic Minnesotan, 
is so lacking in narrative and character- 
ization that it makes Under the Cherry 
Moon look Oscar-worthy. 

Perry Farrell 

G/7TI1993) 

Hey, remember the '90s? Turns out they 
were just as indulgent as the '80s, as 
evidenced in this slice of cringe-inducing 
nostalgia, directed by Farrell at the peak 
of Jane's Addiction's power. Combining 
live footage with nightmarish visuals of 
fatal drug overdoses and necrophilia, it 
also sports full-frontal shots of Farrell's 
ti'l lollapalooza. 

Bob Dylan 

MASKED AND ANONYMOUS (2003I 

Considering that Dylan's director and 
cowriter, Larry Charles, worked on a 
string of comic successes (Boror, 
Seinfeld), it's strange that this inscrutable, 
celebrity-flooded movie is stuffed with 
cutesy references to old Zimmy songs 
and '60s paranoia and. ..nothing else. 
Why couldn't Bob have settled for a Curb 
Your Enthusiasm cameo? 

Daft Punk 

ELECTROMA (2008) 

Written and directed by the electronic 
duo, this trifle is uniquely French in its 
pretentiousness. The two Daft robots 
drive a Ferrari, take long walks through 
the desert, and desperately, violently 
wish they were human. Camus, it's not. 
Those who came of age after 1916 may 
be disappointed that this movie is not a 
"talkie." 1AY RUTTEN8ERC 



Enter the 
Dragons 

BEFORE CREATING AM RADIO GOLD 
WITH TENNILLE, THE CAPTAIN 
RECORDED A CRATE-DIGGER CLASSIC 

By 1975, Daryl Dragon was the 
nautical-hat-wearing half of 
chart-topping syrupy soft-pop duo 
Captain & Tennille, famous for such 
yacht-rock gems as "Muskrat Love" 
and "Love Will Keep Us Together." But in 
1964, Dragon and his two brothers (Dennis, 
later of SoCal jokesters the Surf Punks, and 
Doug) were a promising new act on Capitol 
Records with a sound that presaged the 
moon-eyed mysticism of the Doors and the 
jaunty pop of the Turtles. "Our following 
got bigger and bigger, and the (shows) 
got more and more crazy," says Doug, 67. 
"Then, lo and behold, right around the 
corner were the Beatles. I went, 'Uh-oh.'" 
The trio were no match for the Fab Four, 
and Capitol dropped the band and shelved 
their debut album, BFI. 

It remained there, unheard and unreleased, 
until this year. DJ Strictly Kev of London 
beat-freak label Ninja Tune found a Dragons 
cut on the soundtrack to the 1973 surf 
movie A Sea for Yourself and, when he 
contacted Dennis about licensing it, learned 
there was a whole album. Remastered and 
available for the first time, BFI is rife with 
organ-filled romps, blue-eyed psych soul, and 
plenty of trippy pre-Pro Tools trickery. Ninja 
Tune is so pleased with the record that it 
hopes to exhume even more Dragons mate- 
rial, which makes a certain salty old Captain 
very proud. "Since music went digital, the 
production techniques have not been as 
advanced," says Daryl, 65. "But I think quality 
is being rediscovered." lOSH wimmer 




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ISE 



Breaking Out 



Erik Ratensperger, 
Donald Cumming, 
Nick Zarin-Ackerman 
and Wade Oates, 
photographed for 
Spin in New York, 
October 5, 2007 




The Virgins 



Manhattan party boys charm with their soul-dusted indie rock 



It's nightfall and one of New York 
City's newest buzz bands is not, as you 
might imagine, pre-partying at a Lower 
East Side dive. Instead, the Virgins sit 
around a table at the only restaurant 
near their rehearsal space they aren't 
sick of— a T.C.I. Friday's close to Penn 
Station. The scene inside the deep-fryer- 
friendly chain— lots of bloated tourists, a 
few unshaven drunks— is a far cry from the 
quartet's celeb-studded gigs, where Chloe 
Sevigny and "it" model Agyness Deyn have 
been spotted shaking their skinny asses. 

Together for barely a year, the Virgins 
have had the kind of out-of-the-ether rise 
that causes bloggers to gush and their 
peers to curse. Raised in New York, 25-year- 



old singer Donald Cumming left home at 
15, dropped out of high school, and then 
stumbled into acting and modeling. He 
became a muse of photographer Ryan 
McGinley— they met (where else?) at a 
party— best known for his shots of carous- 
ing, naked twentysomethings. (McGinley's 
2003 exhibit at the Whitney Museum 
included a snap of Cumming's naughty 
bits.) The Virgins emerged out of pure 
frustration. "No one would read any of my 
writing or poetry," Cumming says. "So I fig- 
ured I could put it to music." After recording 
a demo, he burned 25 copies for pals, then 
recruited guitarist Wade Oates, bassist Nick 
Zarin-Ackerman, and drummer Erik Raten- 
sperger. Atlantic Records signed the band 



FAST FACTS 

-> The Virgins' third live 
show was opening lor 
Patti Smith at an Agnes 
B. party during Paris 
Fashion Week in 2006. 

-> Cumming was the 
cinematographer for the 
documentary Billy the 
Kid, a portrait of a sweet- 
natured teen misfit; he 
also starred in Bugcrush, 
which won the 2406 
Sundance Grand Jury 
Prize in short filmmaking. 



before catching a single performance. 

So they're lucky, well connected, and 
attractive, in that unwashed, just-got- 
home-at-5 a.m. sort of way. But are they any 
good? Definitely. The drowsy disco rock of 
"Rich Girls" and the slow-burning shuffle 
"Fernando Pando" (from their self-titled 
2007 EP) offer vignettes that would make 
for a perfect Larry Clark movie— stories of 
socialites, street urchins, drug binges, and 
sex romps— all held together by Cumming's 
languid drawl. "Their lyrics are really poetic 
and very much about New York and the 
life that we live," says McGinley. 

Already famous below 14th Street, the 
Virgins are working on their major-label 
debut, due in April There's just one problem. 
"I can barely play the guitar," says Cumming. 
"But if I'm gonna be in a band and have the 
opportunity to be signed to Atlantic, I'm 
gonna figure out a way to pull it off." 

BY LAUREN GITLIN 

PHOTOGRAPH BY JOSHUA WILDMAN 



52 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 



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Breaking Out 



Robyn 

Teen-pop survivor is 
reborn as electro spitfire 



Many claims to Robyn's 
greatness are made in 
"Curriculum Vitae," the spoken- 
word intro to her new album: 
"World-record holder with a 
high score of two gazillion in 
7etris...she split the atom, invented the X-ray... 
choreographed the fights tor Bruce Lee in Enter 
the Dragon..." But the most improbable boast 
of all? That Swedish teenager who lit up the 
Hot 100 a decade ago with the lubricious pop 
of "Show Me Love" is now a DIY label chief, the 
"founder and CEO of Konichiwa Records." 

Robyn Carlsson was Britney before Britney 
was Britney— both were sexpot blondes signed 
to BMC with breakout hits assisted by producer 
Max Martin. Then, after two years of living in New 
York hotels and being worked like a flouncy show 
pony, she quit the TRL life. The offer of a support 
slot on a 1997 Backstreet Boys tour was a teeny- 
bop debasement she couldn't stomach. "It didn't 
have anything to do with it not being credible," 
Robyn, now 28, recalls in flawless English. "It just 
wasn't inspiring." She released two hit albums in 
her homeland, got sick of working with major 
labels, and crafted a plan for her own start-up. 
In 2004, Konichiwa was born, along with a new 
sound— one that owed as much to the bleeps 
and blurts of Swedish electronica iconoclasts the 
Knife as it did to the irresistible melodies of the 
country's '70s hitmakers ABBA. 

It is this revitalized Robyn who arrives in 
America— for the second time— this month. 
Already a hit jn Europe, her self-titled record is 
stuffed with impeccable, streamlined electro-pop, 
including collaborations with neo-disco producer 
Kleerup (the euphoric "With Every Heartbeat"), 
Teddybears' Klas Ahlund (the rollicking ragga 
house of "Cobrastyle"), and the Knife (the slithery 
"Who's That Girl?"). No longer an assembly-line 
moppet, she's free to be bitter, defiant, or just 
plain ridiculous. "I'll hammer your toe, like a 
pediatrician / Saw you in half, like I'm a magician," 
she boasts on "Konichiwa Bitches." "I got into 
the role-playing," she explains. "I was thinking 
of myself like a superhero." This Robyn, however, 
needs no Batman to bail her out. 

BY CRAIG MCLEAN 

PHOTOGRAPH BY SAMANTHA RAPP 



f 




FAST FACTS 



-» At the age of 11, Robyn wrote her first 
song, "In My Heart," which is about her 
parents' divorce and appears on her debut 
album, 1997's Robyn Is Here. 

-> As a teenager, Robyn worked as a voice 
actor, dubbing cartoons into Swedish. 




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Breaking Out 



MGMT 



Dystopian psych-pop duo bug out, dance toward Armageddon 



Last winter, MGMT began to 
think the world might end. 
So Andrew Vanwyngarden 
and Ben Coldwasser did what 
any reasonable neo-hippie 
music majors would do: They 
decamped to a desolate sliver of Brooklyn 
and concocted some seriously freaky songs. 
"Something's about to go down," explains 
Goldwasser, a paisley headband keeping his 
brown curls in place. "Things are going to 
change in a way nobody will be able to fix." 
Vanwyngarden concurs. "The apocalypse 
is in the Zeitgeist," he says between sips of 
stinky Kombucha. "But it doesn't have to be 
about death and destruction; it could be the 
shattering of a mass hallucination...where 



the human race realizes its true potential!" 

Since teaming up in 2002 at Connecticut's 
Wesleyan University, Goldwasser and 
Vanwyngarden, both 24, have done more 
to induce visions than destroy them. The 
pair dabbled in noise rock and hip-grinding 
electronica before settling on their current 
brand of shape-shifting psychedelic pop— 
a sound deeply indebted to beard rockers 
like Genesis and neo-lysergic warriors such 
as the Flaming Lips. After a six-song EP on 
indie Cantora in 2005, they soon snagged a 
deal with Columbia, which recently released 
Oracular Spectacular digitally and will 
distribute it to stores in January. So, how 
do the shaggy duo explain their sudden 
ascent? "I've been thinking our songs were 



FAST FACTS 



-) In addition to drawing 
from Neil Young, Black 
Sabbath, and Throbbing 
Gristle, Vanwyngarden 
admits to "blatantly 
ripping off Neil Michael 
Hagerty from Royal Trux." 

-> The pair cite Daniel 
Pinchbeck's book on 
Mayan prophecies, 
2012 : The Return of 
Quetialcoatl, as one 
source of inspiration for 
Oracular Spectacular. 



transmitted to us by benevolent beings," 
says Vanwyngarden. "It's the only way we 
could understand getting on a major label." 

Columbia's Maureen Kenny— who signed 
them— laughs at that idea. "I don't think 
they give themselves enough credit!" she 
says. "They're unusual creatures, but they 
have a strong pop sensibility." The disco 
fantasia of "Electric Feel" and the Moog- 
laced burner "Time to Pretend" share both 
groove and philosophy with early Prince. 
Freak-rock specialist Dave Fridmann— who's 
worked with the Flaming Lips and Mercury 
Rev— produced, adding textures that help 
turn MGMT's deliriously melodic tunes 
into stoner manna. Still, with lyrics inspired 
by Mayan prophecies and conspiracy 
websites, the album is no btissed-out trip. 
"I've listened to it on acid before," says 
Vanwyngarden. "It was too chaotic." Even 
apocalyptic prophets need to chill. 

BY OAVID MARCH ESE 
PHOTOGRAPH BY JENNIFER TZAR 



Field of dreams: 
Ben Goldwasser 
and Andrew 
Vanwyngarden 




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w 

"Welcome, Canadians!" Even at soundcheck, Bruce 
Springsteen treats a New Jersey venue like his home, 
and Arcade Fire's Win Butler and Regine Chassagne 
are honored guests. "Did you guys finish your tour?" 

Watching from the floor of the Continental 
Airlines Arena hours before Springsteen's first official 
hometown show with the E Street Band in five years, 
house lights up, Buder shouts back that they wrapped 
up the American leg three days ago and will leave for 
Europe in two weeks. Springsteen nods, then leads his 
band through a version of "Backstreets" so sweeping 
it's a shame only five people are here to witness it. 

Since his breakthrough 1975 album, Born to Run, 
Bruce Springsteen has been the future of rock'n'roll, 
a folkie, a misunderstood patriot, wildly popular, not 
particularly popular, a workhorse, a stay-at-home 
dad, a firebrand, a name brand. But moreover, 
he's just been. His 15th studio album, Magic, which 
debuted at No. 1 in October, is vintage Boss and just 
might contain one of the best songs he's ever written 
(the lush "Girls in Their Summer Clothes"). Mean- 
while, a new generation of bands — of which Arcade 
Fire are certainly at the forefront — reveres him as 
much for his varied body of work as for the fact 
that he just seems to have done things the right 
way. Never embarrassed himself, never embar- 
rassed those who look up to him. And likewise, 
Springsteen — more wide-eyed geek than stately 
elder — has been energized by these younger artists; 
when he greets Butier and Chassagne after sound- 
check, the first thing he mentions is the fan-made 
YouTube clip for their song "My Body Is a Cage," set 
to scenes from Once Upon a Time in the West. 

Though they hail from different generations 
(Springsteen is 58; Butler is 27) and backgrounds 
(Springsteen: working-class New Jersey; Butler: 
well-heeled Houston suburb, prep school at 

62 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 




Copyrighted material 



Phillips Exeter) and project different personas 
(Springsteen fronts the world's best-paid bar 
band; Buder and crew can come off as austere and 
vaguely Amish), there is a natural kinship. When 
Arcade Fire's Neon Bible was released in March, 
much of the praise cited "Keep the Car Running," 
"Intervention," and "(Antichrist Television Blues)" 
as exercises in Boss-worship, and though Butler is 
quick to admit this is no coincidence, the strongest 
parallels are not stricdy musical. Both men front 
large bands composed of friends and family, engi- 
neered to operate insulated from and autonomous 
of the vagaries of the industry. Of all the highly 
touted acts to debut in the past few years, Arcade 
Fire are perhaps the easiest to imagine still at it 
in 30 years — hair thinner, waists thicker, but still 
kinetic, even if Richard Reed Parry has to, as his 
E Street counterpart Clarence Clemons now does, 
take the occasional time-out on a stool, stage right. 

Shoulders hunched in a black hoodie, blond 
hair falling over his eyes, Butler not only doesn't 
seem austere or Amish, he doesn't even seem 27. 
Determined not to wear out their welcome — or 
wear themselves out — Arcade Fire are winding 
down after nine months of touring and will likely 
spend chunks of 2008 writing and recording at their 
studio, a converted church outside Montreal. "The 
real test is finding your own life within the bubble of 
shit," Buder said at a Manhattan cafe before leaving 
for Jersey. "The hard work we did last record to set 
up that studio was so that the creative ebb and flow 
of the band could happen in a natural way." (He and 
Chassagne will perform one more time this year on 
North American soil — they just don't know it yet.) 

Buder met the Boss once before, at a Grammy 
after-party in 2005, but wasn't sure if Springsteen 
would remember. He does. In fact, it is his interest 
in speaking to Butler that brings us here today. I 
am not interviewing so much as eavesdropping. 

Standing sentry on a metal folding chair outside 
Springsteen's dressing room is a giant stuffed 
panda, a tribute to Terry Magovern, Springsteen's 
longtime aide de camp, who died this summer. 
The panda grants us safe passage, and as we sink 
into the black leather sofas, Buder offers a gift of 
three books: George Orwell's manifesto Why I Write, 
Cormac McCarthy's postapocalyptic The Road, and 
Tracy Kidder's inspirational Mountains Beyond 
Mountains. Springsteen leafs through the pages, 
grateful and beaming. On a wardrobe rack against 
the far wall hang black vests, black shirts, and black 
jeans. "Think I'll go with the black tonight," he says. 




Arcade Fire, from left: Regine Chassagne, Tim Kingsbury, Win Butler, Richard Reed Parry, 
Will Butler, Sarah Neufeld, Jeremy Cara 

>SPIN You both encountered a lot of hype very early in your careers. How doyou 
handle that sort of attention whenyou barely even know what you're doingyet? 

>WIN BUTLER Having my wife [Chassagne] on the road and having the whole 
band around to share that experience made the noise a little less pervasive. 
We're in our own world, putting songs out to people, and all that was coming 
from the outside world. It was almost like watching a movie. 
>BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN That's true. When I was 24 or 25, 1 ended up on the 
cover of Time and Newsweek, which I found both thrilling and embarrassing 
simultaneously. Everybody had different responses — I remember [guitarist] 
Steve [Van Zandt] buying copies and handing them out by the pool at the Sunset 
Marquis. He was like, "This is the greatest, we've hit it!" And I was more like, 
"I'm going to go up to my room for a little while." I think if I had been by myself, 
it would have been a lot tougher. Having the band there — knowing that ten 
years have gone by before this moment, knowing that tonight we're gonna go 
out and do the same thing we did in Asbury Park for 150 people — provided an 
element of sanity. It's the bargain you ask for, but at the same time, it's nice to 
have your friends around you. 

Not only doyou have your friends aroundyou, both onstage and on the business 
side, but your wives are in your bands. And Win's brother Will is in Arcade 
Fire. Does that extended-family construct make things easier or just raise the 
potential for tension? 

>BUTLER For us, the closest the band has ever come to not working was when we 
first made a leap and started to need people on the road in order to function. The 
first couple guitar techs were total lifers; we didn't know any of these people, and 
we're spending all this time with them on a bus, and it was like, "Who the fuck are 
we? This doesn't have anything to do with why we play music." Over the last few 
years, we've made it so a lot of the people we work with have personal relationships 
with us; we can really be in our own skin. That's why we have so many women with 
us on the road — otherwise, it just turns into this weird, horrible dude party. 



64 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 



Cot 




The Chassagne- Butlers, 2007 The Scialf a -Springsteens, 1984 



TM DRAWN TO BANDS WHERE 
THERE'S AN ACTIVE COLLECTIVE 
IMAGINATION BETWEEN THEM 
AND THE AUDIENCE." 

>BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN 

>SPRINGSTEEN We started out as a boys' club, and that lasted until 1984, when 
Patti [Scialfa, Springsteen's now-wife] joined. She always teases me, because 
she says on the first night she played with us, she came into my dressing room 
wearing a frilly blouse and asked, "How's this?" And I said, "Why don't you just 
pick something out of there?" and pointed to my suitcase on the floor filled 
with T-shirts. So we made the transition, but it was a slow one. We were trying 
to move away from the dude party. When we started out, we played to a lot of 
audiences full of young guys, which I always said was the result of a homoerotic 
undercurrent, obviously. But as time passed, they brought the girls. 



E Street, 2007, from left: Danny Federiri, Max Weinberg, Nils Lofgren, Roy Bittan, Clarence 
demons, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Scialfa, Steven Van Zandt, Gary Taltent 

Well, you used to kiss Clarence onstage a lot. No homoerotic undercurrent there. 

>BUTLER Not enough artists build it up the right way. You start with the guys, 
then get their girlfriends to come. That's how you get the loyalty. 
>SPRINGSTEEN I want people to look onstage and see themselves. That idea 
of the band as a representative community — all the bands I like have some ele- 
ment of that. It's thrilling when you see that communication. Pop records are 
fun — [Rihanna's] "Umbrella" I can enjoy tremendously — but what I'm drawn to 
are bands where there's an active collective imagination going on between them 
and their audience. That's what I love about Arcade Fire — the first time I saw 
you guys, I thought, "There's a whole town going on up there, a whole village 
onstage. "There's an imagined world you've made visual in front of your fans' 
eyes, and it's a really lovely thing. 

What other younger hands strike you that way? And how does what you're 
listening to inform your own music? 

>SPRINGSTEEN I have three teenagers, plus I'm a curiosity buyer. My oldest son 
listens to a lot of political punk, like Against Me! And I've gotten into bands that 
have a bigger pop sound, like Apples in Stereo and Band of Horses — it's very 
dark, romantic music. As for how it informs what I do, everything that goes in, 
comes out. 

>BUTLER I got this box set called Goodbye, Babylon that's old field recordings 
from churches from between 1902 and 1960. Regine and I listened to that a ton 
when we were making Neon Bible. 

That's actually another thingyou two have in common: a lot of Catholic imagery. 

>BUTLER I grew up in Houston, but not in a super-religious family. My mom's side 
is Mormon, my dad's is from New England — it's-good-that-people-don't-kill-each- 
other-but-we-don't-really-believe-in-anything types. But the whole megachurch 
thing was really pervasive in Texas. 

>SPRINGSTEEN I think what feels Christian about your music is that it's apocalyptic 



WWW.SPIN.COM DECEMBER 2007 65 



WHY BRUCE IS BOSS 



Craig Finn 

THE HOLD STEADY 



"Aging gracefully in rock is 
about the hardest thing to do, 
but Bruce looks awesome. I 
get the feeling he's interested 
in not just the music, but how 
he fits into the right-now. 
Maybe that's why he doesn't 
have embarrassing missteps. He's not going to 
come out with a rock opera. He's not going to do 
Trans, like Neil Young, or a hip-hop record. 'Girls in 
Their Summer Clothes'— you feel like you've heard 
him sing that before, but you haven't. And right when 
he hits the chorus, you're like, 'Fuck, yeah!' He gives 
cinematic scope in a song. 'Jungleland' is a great 
example: I want to know more about the Magic 
Rat. That's how I came up with the idea of having 
characters I can revisit in songs. Or Rosalita'— 
Sloppy Sue and Weak Knees Willie. I want to know 
more about them. He's funny, too: 'You ain't a 
beauty, but hey, you're all right.' When we played 
with him at Carnegie Hall [last April], he put his arm 
around me and said, Thanks for holding it down out 
there, brother' The sweetest words I've ever heard." 



Matt Berninger 



THE NATIONAL 




"Springsteen is just one of 
those people you always 
trust. Aside from the fact 
that he has written some 
unbelievably moving, epic 
works of rock'n'roll, you feel 
like no matter what, he's 

going to deliver. Dylan is a genius, but sometimes 
you get the sense he'll just do whatever he wants, 
while a Springsteen show is a totally satisfying, 
huge, amazing, powerful event. You never get the 
sense he wishes he were somewhere else. When 
people pay to see your show, you have to respect 
that and give it your all. He's still moving forward 
and trying things— half the songs on Magic are 
as good as Born to Run. And somehow, he just 
feels like a normal guy trying to figure stuff out. 
It's not polished. He doesn't have the answers. He 
gets into the awkward, creepy parts of desire and 
insecurity, and when he talks about something, you 
actually think that's what he feels and believes." 



and puts things in a very religious context, like Roy Orbison. Roy Orbison is the 
king of romantic apocalypse. What's the song title? "It's Over." Doesn't get more 
apocalyptic than that. I think if the end of days is present in your music, however 
it got in there, you're involved in a spiritual world. 

>BUTLER To me, that darkness is always present in some way or another. That's 
what I love about Motown — no matter how happy a song is, there's some element 
grounded in the actual world. 

>SPRINGSTEEN "Ball of Confusion." "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone." Put those things 
on. "Darkness on the Edge of Town" 1 wrote in 1978. 1 think it also has to be part 
of your psychological nature. I grew up Catholic, and I suppose I go back to that 
for so much imagery in my music over the years. I was always interested in the 
spiritual battleground; it's just what fascinates me. Like, hey, where's the place 
you lose your soul, and how do I get there without falling in? 1 was always drawn 
to that, and it's shot through all my music, including this record. Even something 
like "Your Own Worst Enemy," where I use this pop, Pet Sounds production, is 
all about self-subversion. 

>BUTLER One of my favorite songs of yours is "State Trooper" [from 1982's 
Nebraska] — we've covered it before, and it's just a fucking dark song. Even 
just driving here today on the New Jersey Turnpike, there's a sense of place, of 
something real, and that in itself has a spiritual component to it. 



"THAT'S WHAT I LOVE ABOUT 
MOTOWN. NO MATTER HOW 
HAPPY A SONG IS, IT'S GROUNDED 
IN THE ACTUAL WORLD." 

>WIN BUTLER 



>SPRINGSTEEN Robert De Niro said once that what he likes about acting is that 
he gets to step into other people's shoes without the real-life consequences. Art 
does allow you to do that, to go right up to the abyss and look in, hopefully 
without falling in. 

Isn't falling in a particular hazard, givenyour line of work? 

>SPRINGSTEEN On any given day. I feel like that's what Arcade Fire was built to 
hold off, that falling in. There's a furious aspect to the performance, and that's 
why people come out — you're recognizing the realities of people's emotional lives 
and their difficulties, you're presenting these problems, and you're bringing a 
survival kit. The bands that do that forge intense, intense relationships with their 
audience, and to me, that was always the core of the best rock'n'roll. 

But aren't a lot of people cynical about that sort of quasi populism at this point? 
So many bands give lip service to the idea of forging this intense connection that 
it has become a cliche in its own right. It's easy to mistake honesty for pandering, 
and vice versa. 

>BUTLER I don't think rock has anything to do with populism. My grandpa led a 
big band, and if you look at Irving Berlin or that type of songwriting, it's so much 
more sophisticated than rock, which offered physicality and an opportunity to 
express visceral, raw emotion. He hated rock — he even thought jazz combos were 
a cop-out, musically — but I remember being at his house when I was 16, and you 
were on TV and he said, "I don't like the music, but I get why people do." Here's 
this 90-year-old dude, set in his ways, and he's like, "You know what, I totally get 
it." Your music becomes a bridge. 

>SPRINGSTEEN To do it right, you have to hold two contradictory ideas in your 
mind at once before you play: You've got to go, "Okay, I'm going to go out in 20 
minutes and do one of the most important things I can think of in the world," 
and, "It's only rock'n'roll; I hope we have a good show and people go home 
happy." I always try to keep both of those things in my head, and populist or 
not, my business is proving it to you. Our thing is to find that place where we're 
communicating and holding people, preferably by the throat. 
>BUTLER Part of the reason I got you this Orwell book is there's a line in it: "In a 
time of universal deception, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." And another: 
"It is the first duty of intelligent men to restate the obvious." 



66 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.5PIN.COM 



SPIN 



THE Hfl \i\ INTERVIEW 



Everything about the Gossip's 
lead singer; Beth Ditto, is big: 
her mouth, her ambition, her 
ideas, and herself. "I don't judge 
women for feeling they have to 
be thin," she says. "I judge the 
world for being so antifemale." 

BY PHOEBE REILLY 
PHOTOGRAPH BY STEVEN KLEIN 



It's perverted]" cries Beth Ditto. The lead singer of the bluesy punk 
trio the Gossip is at home in Portland, Oregon, flipping through the 
Fingerhut catalog, a mail-order retailer of such household necessities 
as bath towels, crucifixes, and gun cabinets. She's feeling nostalgic (the 
company's nonsensical name was a joke among friends back in her tiny 
hometown of Searcy, Arkansas), but also appalled. "People who sell rifles 
are dirty homos who won't come out of the closet," she ventures. This is 
just one opinion, and the 26-year-old Ditto has many, many more. In the 
eight years since the Gossip formed, the famously full-figured, outspoken 
frontwoman has become a sensation in the U.K., where the group's most recent 
album, 2006's Standing in the Way of Control, went Top 10, while attracting 
only a cult following in the States. This status might change in the spring, when 
Columbia releases an album of live material produced by new label co-chief 
Rick Rubin. Naturally, Beth Ditto already has something to say about that. 



Now that Rick Rubin has taken an interest in 
the band, how involved do you think he'll be in 
your next studio album? 

I'm not really sure, but I don't care who is involved. 
You know when you meet someone but you don't 

want to presume that you're friends and you're 

afraid to say hi to them in public, 'cause they may 
not remember you? That's how I feel about Rick 
Rubin. He's been really sweet and supportive, but 
we're small in the grand scheme. I mean, Jay-Z or 
the Gossip? Jesus, let me think about it. But I think 
he will work with us in the future. 

Do you find it at all marginalizing to be on 
Music With a Twist, a Columbia subsidiary for 
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender artists? 

No, I love being on a queer label. You're sitting in 
a room with a group of people who have all the 



WWW.SPIN.COM DECEMBER 2007 75 



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Copyrighted material 



THE 



SPIN 



INTERVIEW 



same reference points as you, you don't have to 
explain anything about your identity to them, 
and people aren't like, "What's a tranny?" It's not 
about integration versus segregation; it's just a 
way to get the music out there. 

You've said that you think being a bigger, gay 
woman might have held the band back from 
mainstream success, but do you think it's 
also worked to your advantage? 

1 never would say that it worked to our advan- 
tage, but I think it's a breath of fresh air for a lot 
of people. And you gotta play the game. If you 
can work it, then you work it no matter what. And 
talent transcends all those things. 

What do you make of the fact that the Gossip 
are very popular in the U.K. but not nearly as 
well known over here? 

Sometimes I think of America as this imperial 
child of England that doesn't know what to do 
until England tells it. But I'm ready for the back- 
lash over there. It's coming! 

You have been known to strip onstage 
during live shows. Isn't there a danger that 
it will attract exactly the kind of attention 



that female musicians want to avoid? 

I have a lot of things to say about that, and one of 
them is that it's important that the body becomes 
a normal thing. I don't think the rules are the 
same for me as they were for Courtney Love 
or [Bikini Kill/Le Tigre frontwoman] Kathleen 
Hanna, because I don't think my body was 
accepted in the same way. In the beginning, 
people were really uncomfortable with a big girl, 
so it was a radical political statement; and it's 
even more radical to not be objectified with your 
clothes off. Also, onstage, it's so hot we're dying. 
It just feels nice sometimes. 

What do you say to the argument that 
conforming to a certain weight is not about 
body image but a health issue? 

This always kills me. Healthy is a lie! Call me a 
radical or call me a conspiracy theorist: I think 
the people who want to argue that it's about 
health don't know what they're talking about 
and are just listening to people who have a lot 
of body-hatred issues. When I go to the doctor 
with a sore throat, the first thing they say to 
me is "Have you ever thought about losing 
weight?" And I'll be like, "Have you checked my 
cholesterol? Have you checked my fucking blood 



Britney is so rad. She's just trash, 
and I mean that in the most 
positive way. I was trash, too." 



Serenading Perez 
Hilton at his 
birthday party, 
March 2007 





EVERY DAY 
IS RALLY DAY. 

In a 172-horsepower turbo- 
charged MINI Cooper S with 
sport button, you may take lunch, 
but you don't brake for it. 



©2007 MINI, a division of BMW of North America. LLC The 
MINI name, model names and logo are regrstered trademarks. 

Copyrighted material 



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THE 



SPIN 



INTERVIEW 





From top: Ditto, Brace Paine, and Kathy Mendonca in Olympia, Washington, 2003; Hannah Blilie, Ditto, and Paine in 2006 



pressure?" And then they're always shocked 
when it's absolutely perfect. I probably eat better 
than most of my thin friends do. Don't get me 
wrong — 1 just had chicken strips today, and they 
were delicious. But I'm not unhealthy. I don't 
know anybody else who can sing and dance at 
the same time for an hour straight. 

Keira Knightley called you "sexy" and said 
that you had "the most amazing body." Can 
you take that compliment seriously coming 
from somebody who looks like she might 
have an eating disorder? 
The way I feel about Keira Knightley is that 
even if she has an eating disorder, it's good 
for people to hear her say something like that, 
because people listen to people like her. If she is 
anorexic, if she is sick, then she knows. And it's 
sad because she also knows that she wishes she 
wasn't that way, or she wishes things were 
different and that there was more than one 
way to be. I don't judge women for feeling they 
have to be thin, because they're conditioned 
their whole lives to "hate yourself, hate yourself, 
hate yourself." I judge the world for being 

so antifemale. 

You and Perez Hilton are good friends. When 
his blog makes fun of celebrities for the way 
they look, isn't he contributing to the issues 
that you're talking about? 

Let me tell you how I stay friends with Perez: I 
don't look at his blog. I don't agree with what 
Perez says a lot of the time, and I think he knows 
that, but we really appreciate each other. He 
reminds me of an old friend — this kid Richie I 
grew up with — and he's sweet to me. But I'd like 



to keep my self-esteem and self-respect, so I have 
no desire to look at that site. I don't look at the 
Internet. It's the fat-girl trick of the trade: You 
pay attention to what's important or you're not 
going to survive. 

You've said that while growing up in Arkansas, 
you once got stoned with your cousin and ate 
a squirrel. What did that taste like? 

Wait, let me tell you something: The funny part of 
that story is not that I ate a squirrel. It's that it was 

the first rime I ever got stoned. That was not the 
first or the last time I ate squirrel. But anyway, if 
you prepare it like a chicken, it tastes like chicken. 

What's the worst gossip that's been spread 
about you? 

One time this band — I can't remember which 
one — thought we stole their merchandise and 
turned it inside-out and spray-painted gossip on 
it. Really, I had no interest in stealing this band's 
merch, and I wouldn't steal a band's merch no 
matter how much I hated them. I would deface it, 
but I wouldn't steal it. 




EVERY DAY 
IS RALLY DAY. 

With a 2007 turbocharged 
MINI Cooper S that goes 0-60 
in 6.7 seconds, you don't just 
run errands, you sprint them. 




MINIUSA.COM 



0 2007 MINI, a division of BMW of North America, LLC The 
MINI name, model names and I090 are registered trademarks. 




ALSO AVAILABLE 



BORDERS (§, 



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DVD \NClVDtt 
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THE HBIfll INTERVIEW 

Tot is not my jam— it makes me out of 
my mind. I'm under the covers with my 
teeth chattering. Or I pee my pants.' 



As someone who was inspired by the riot 
grrrl bands of the early '90s, do you get 
depressed about the state of women in rock 
when you see someone like Cat Power 
unable to get through a live set or Amy 
Winehouse appearing in public with 
scratches all over her? 
No, I don't, because I think they have a right to 
express every single bit of imbalance or vulner- 
ability they have. Of course, I know it's not good 
for girls to see and that people will judge them in 
a different light. But sometimes I think the only 
element that riot grrrl was missing was a little 
emotional sensitivity. Things were so cut-and-dry. 
I'm thinking of their proverb "Jealousy kills girl 
love." That's harsh. Jealousy is a natural emotion, 
and if you felt like you couldn't control it, you 
felt guilty about it. And there was no discussing 
these intense feelings — there were just rules that 
were enforced. Mind you, I'm ten years too late 
for it. And it was a revolution, absolutely. But it is 
empowering to be emotional and at the same time 
to be taken seriously. Crying out in public takes a 
lot of fucking guts. Which is why Britney is so rad 
and I'm so mad that they took her kids away. 

Why? 

There's definitely an imbalance in the world 
when you can be as powerful and as successful 
as she is and still have your kids taken away and 
given to someone like Kevin Federline. What the 
fuck has he ever done in his life? And tell me he's 
not shitfaced out of his mind right now. 1 think 
it's all a cultural misunderstanding. She's from 
Louisiana, I'm from Arkansas. When 1 go home, 
guess what's in those baby bottles? Mountain 
Dew. I'm not saying it's right, but it's just nor- 
mal. People fail to see that regional culture is a 
massive part of a person's experience. She is just 



trash. And when I say trash, I mean that in the 
most positive way, as in, I was trash, too. 

With the election coming up, is there a 
candidate the Gossip will support? 

I don't think so. It would depend on the 
candidate and how rad they were. It was hard 
enough for me to get behind Bands Against 
Bush. It wasn't the kind of activism I wanted to 
do. I didn't feel like it was enough. Instead, I 
decided to make a record [Standing in the Way 
of Control] about people feeling powerless and 
trying to empower them. 

Last summer you participated in Cyndi 
Lauper's True Colors tour. Were you in the 
Madonna or the Cyndi camp growing up? 

1 was in the Boy George/Cyndi camp. I loved 
hanging out with her. Right before we'd play, she 
would always say, 'Take no prisoners," which I 
think is really cute. She had a lot of advice, too, 
like "Don't do drugs." Every single person I've 
talked to who has been around the business for a 
long time, they always say that. 

That doesn't seem like advice you need. Have 
you tried any drugs besides pot? 

I did Ecstasy once. Pot is not my jam — it makes 
me out of my mind. I'm seriously under the covers 
with my teeth chattering. Or I pee my pants. 

What would you do if the Gossip broke up? 

I'd be a hairdresser. I would say all the money 
I've made from the Gossip is just the hairdressing 
fund. I never said I was going to be in a band 
forever. I'm going to do it someday, no joke. * 

RfOTTJ MORE ATSP1N.COM Fon'nterview outtakes with 
EU1U Beth Ditto, log on to spin.com/bethditto 



DISCOGRAPHYThe Gossip 




■i That's Not 
What I Heard 
★* 

KILL ROCK STARS. 2000 

Back then, all three. band 
members were working at a food court 
in an Olympia, Washington mall, and 
it shows: The record is fast (14 songs in 
about 20 minutes), basic (three-chord 
punk meets three-chord blues), and not 
terribly accomplished (they can barely 
play). But the riot-grni-gone-Oixie 
raucousness that is "Where the Girls Are" 
is a prelude to the awesome title track of 
the follow-up EP, Arkansas Heat. 



m 



Movement 

KILL ROCK STARS, 2003 
The Sabbath-like stomp 
of opener "Night" is the 
work of a band coming into its own; 
when Ditto howls, "Things are tookin' 
better all the time," she might as well 
be saying, "I'm going through changes." 
Her bellow remains the soul of the 
group, but Brace Paine's guitar, noisier 
after a tum in the neo-no-wave Die 
Monitr Batss, gives her something to 
lean on, especially on sweaty numbers 
like "Lessons Learned"' and "Cone." 



Standing in the 
Way of Control 
★★★★ 

KILL ROCK STARS, 2006 
Taking a page from the 
Le Tigre play book, the Gossip decide to 
dance and raise hell at the same time. 
The title track is a shimmying. Studio 
54-worthy screed attacking Dubya for his 
views on gay marriage, while the remix 
favorite "Listen Up!" and "Jealous Girls" 
keep up the momentum like a spinning 
mirror ball. But "Coal to Diamonds" ts 
(he real surprise: a slow-burning ballad 
thai is simply.. .pretty. P.R. 



©2007 MINI, a division of BMW of North America. LLC The 
MINI name, model names and logo are registered trademarks 



sta 



He's the genitalia- 
obsessed f rontman 
for one of rock's most 
successful bands. 
But with his new side 
project (and winery!), 
Tool's Maynard James 
Keenan wants to be 
nothing less than a 
one-man brand. 

"Welcome to Arizona." Maynard James 

Keenan groans it more than speaks it, 
a strangulated thanksforcomingdude 
made even less robust by body 
language: He has his back turned 
and is rushing ten feet ahead of me 
through the fertile arbor of the Page 
Springs Vineyard & Cellars. 1? It's noon 
and a brainpan-frying 95 degrees here 
in northern Arizona's Verde Valley — in 
Keenan's mind a natural time to have 
just biked the 15 miles from his home 
to this verdant wine-making paradise. 
As he presses on, he clutches a botde of 
water in one hand and an iced chai in 
the other. Both drinks are for him. But 
what the notoriously reclusive rock 
star seems incapable of exuding in 
warmth, he repays in splendor, 
by leading me onto a deck that 
suspends, spectacularly, over 
the languid waters of Oak 
Creek. A tributary of the Verde 



PUSCIFER 

BY JOHN McALLEY \\\ PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOAO CANZIANI 



82 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 



"I don't have any talent. I'm 
just a dumbass. I can put 
words together, but on 
not Stephen Hawkingnt's 
not that kind of stuff: But 
people treat it like it is." 



River, it does its best to quench the thirsty acreage of Page Springs — and, most 
crucially for Keenan, the scattering of nearby lots that make up Merkin Vineyards 
the earthy source of his own budding wine business. 

"Your shit's all twisted up, bitch!" he says a few minutes later, as he squats to 
untangle the hose of the power washer one of his Page Springs coworkers has 
trained on the winemaking area. Yeah, coworker. 

At Page Springs, the exalted, occasionally cross-dressed, inherently torqued 
frontman of not one but two world-beating rock bands, Tool and A Perfect Circle, 
is more like one of the grunts — a status that suits his spiritual and working-class 
sense of discipline just fine. The place is owned by Eric Glomski, a shaggy, sandy- 
haired mensch who, like Keenan, had the far-fetched dream of turning Arizona's 
arid high country into a formidable winemaking region. Glomski came along just 
in time to steer the singer's earnest but undereducated aspirations into something 
real. With Glomski's guiding hand, Page Springs is where the fruits of Keenan's 
ten acres of vineyards are transformed into the ruby intoxicants bottled and sold, 
via the Internet, with Keenan's Caduceus label. 

If it weren't for the gothy tattoo that smothers his right calf and the rocker 
gear (cargo shorts, red knit cap and matching tee, black low-tops), the compact 
43-year-old would be unrecognizable as a multiplatinum-selling prog-metal 
legend. Around here, he's a guy who takes orders. 

Arched over a tank holding four and a half tons of recendy picked fruit, Keenan 
is doing a punch-down — the four-times-daily process of plunging the grapes' 
floating skins, stems, and seeds back into their fermenting juices. It's delicate 
and serene work — or as serene as possible, given the coop of squawking ducks 
and chickens close by — but it's ball-busting, too. 

"Hey, Maynard, come and get me when you're finished with that," Glomski 
says, breezing by. "I need you to do a pump-over. You've never done one, and 
you have to learn it." A few minutes later, Glomski is singing his pupil's praises. 
"When we first met Maynard, none of us had even heard of him," he says. "We 
certainly weren't fans of his music. He could have turned out to be a prima donna, 
but he's been the opposite. 

"At this point," he adds with a faint wink, "I think he's more a winemaker 
than a musician." 

^Hb aybe. In between punch-downs, Keenan has been touring 

1 v i incessantly behind Tool's fourth studio album, 10.000 

I V A H Days — almost 200 shows since the album's April 2006 release, 
t ^^^^K H He's also been revving up yet another music project, one he 

^^^^ hopes will — with the eventual money earned from it and 
Merkin Vineyards — help ease the exhausting dance he's been doing between 
aggro-culture and agriculture. Puscifer, the catchall name for Keenan's entertain- 
ment revolution-in-waiting, is part merchandising empire, part DIY recording 
venture. The man who quotes Einstein and Whitman on his trippy Caduceus 
website, and who, with his Tool collaborators, has painstakingly woven such 
heady aesthetic gambits as "sacred geometry" and Fibonacci number schemes 
into brooding art rock, has titled Puscifer's debut album Vis for Vagina. It's an act 
of either exquisite insensitivity, devilish button-pushing, entrepreneurial suicide, 
or all three. A month before the album's October 30 release, he's already getting 
static from some major retailers. 

The Puscifer project dates back to before Keenan put down roots in Arizona, 
which was in 1995. His friend Tim Alexander, the Primus drummer, turned him 
on to the place after Keenan told him about a recurring dream he had while 
battling soul-sapping elements and showbiz "vampires" in Los Angeles. In the 



dream, Keenan was living in Arizona "in a small village, and I was doing something 
other than music," he remembers. Alexander took him to the Verde Valley. "I 
went to the motor vehicle department and turned in my California license that 
same day," Keenan says. 

Within a month, he had relocated, inspired in part by the birth, earlier that year, of 
his son Devo, whom he was loath to let grow up among the "barnacles" in LA. At the 
time, Tool hadn't even fmishedj'&urna, the album that would be their breakthrough 
and redefine Keenan's life in great and, eventually, nerve-fraying ways. 



jm mm I he Verde Valley is nesded among many mile-high peaks, but it 
H H I draws much of its energy from two mountain villages. Sedona, 
H M I a staggeringly beautiful mecca for crystal clutchers and spa 
H H I devotees, rises in the northeast. Jerome, the dust-choked 
shambles of a former copper-mining town — whose population 
of hippies and artists numbers around 4S0 — hovers like a dark spiral in the west. 

Keenan, of course, suggests that I stay in Jerome — specifically at the Jerome 
Grand Hotel, a converted mountaintop hospital with a long history (imagined or 
real) of hauntings and hideous crimes, a la The Shirting's Overlook. 

Appropriate, because "all work and no play" well describes the track Keenan 
has been on for more than a decade. Touring the Verde Valley in his boxy 4x4, he 
takes in its expanse of farmland and vineyards and dreams of it morphing into a 
thriving food-and-wine community — a future Napa Valley. To that end, he's just 
bought a produce market in nearby Cornville, home to both the Page Springs and 
Merkin vineyards. Even in this pastoral setting, it doesn't take much to trigger 
a rant about local developers pushing golf courses ("What stops these people 
from being assassinated?") or the FDA's rules regarding wine-bottle labeling 
("Assholes") . But if Keenan's chi is perpetually cranked to 11 , it eases every time 
he talks about one abiding preoccupation: his goal, in a culture he sees crushed 
by greed, of building a few modest and self-sustaining businesses. That includes 
the Puscifer project, which he is wholly financing. These aren't the follies of an 
empire-building free spender. It's the thinking of someone dug deep into his rural 
lifestyle and far from certain about his future fronting rock bands. "I'm not," he 
says, rolling through Cornville's pastures, "going to be making the money I'm 
making now forever." 



H H I w ' ts witn keyboards.. .the crazies.. .you know, the fence 
H H I climbers." 

H H Even in Arizona, Keenan can't escape the loons who've heard 

H V I secret messages buried deep inside his sometimes emotionally 
^^^^^ raw, sometimes ridiculously cryptic lyrics. If he's strangely 
hypersensitive to the Web snipers who love to bash his work, Keenan is positively 
paranoid about the stalkers who continue to invade his privacy in the Verde 
Valley. And for good reason. 

"He's definitely gotta watch it," says Tim Alexander, still a resident of the valley 
himself. "We get weirdos up here looking for him, trying to find out where he lives 
so they can have a stance on his doorstep or something." According to Alexander, 
Keenan has resorted to chasing off unwanted visitors with a paintball rifle. 

But it's not just the head-case trespassers who get under his skin. Fourteen years 
after Tool released their debut album, Undertow, Keenan can't quite believe the 
pull the band's anguished material still has on fans who continue to pack venues 
and keep the group among the industry's richest road warriors. (Their summer 
U.S. dates grossed $17 million.) 

"Get out of the nest, for fuck's sake!" Keenan says, laughing, over a dinner of 
sliders and salad at the Recovery Room, the only local restaurant that pours his 
three Caduceus blends. It's not that he's ungrateful for what Tool's success has 
brought him, but he's tired of being the poet laureate of the arrested -development 
set. If the music has been so inspirational to his fans, he says, then "what the fuck 
have you done with it that you need me to keep doing it?" 

Besides, what's the fuss? "I don't have any talent," he says. "I'm just a dumbass. 
I mean, I can put a couple of words together, but I'm not Stephen Hawking; it's 
not that kind of stuff. But people are treating it like it is." 

Keenan plays to a less worshipful crowd on the blog he's been writing for 
several years for the Wine Spectator website. Part road diary, part chronicle of the 
start-up trials and tribulations at Merkin, it puts him in touch with a respectful 

WWW.SPIN.COM DECEMBER 2007 85 




Blunt instrument (clockwise from top): Keenan with Tool in Paris and the Netherlands, 
2006; with A Perfect Circle in New York City, 2000; in California, 1997 



community of supporters. Among the more than 150 reader comments he has 
inspired, there's only a couple that say "Tool rocks!" In fact, on the blog, Keenan 
has talked about being rocked — emotionally, by the winemaking process, to the 
point of tears. He gestures out the window to a distant peak. "It's like looking at 
that hill and saying, 'I think there's a little mug of gold coins buried there. I had 
a dream, and I can see it.' So you make this long trek, and after searching and 
searching, you find it. Of course you're going to lose it. All the shit you had to go 
through? It's about embracing your intuition. And being right." 



e has fought all his life to learn to trust his intuition. An only 
i M I child, he was born James Herbert Keenan on April 17, 1964. 

V H I His parents divorced when he was just three, and his father left 

1 their Ohio home and headed to Michigan. Keenan says he saw 

his dad little more than once a year until he turned 15. 
His mother, Judith Marie, whom Keenan has written about nakedly and pain- 
fully in many Tool and A Perfect Circle songs, remarried. His stepfamily wasn't 
the Bradys. 

"Okay," he says, laughing. "I'll bag on parts of Ohio now." 

The pictures he paints are of an intolerant and unworldly household, where 
a kid with his smarts and urge to be different would suffer — and did. With his 
mother's encouragement, he relocated to Michigan and reunited with his dad for 
his high school years. "It's the best move I ever made," Keenan says now. 

Why did she insist on his leaving? 

"Ah, because Ohio sucks and I was surrounded by dead people?" His laughter 
barely disguises the hurt. 

He blames Stripes and Bill Murray for inspiring his three-year stint, starting 
at age 18, in the Army. That, and the GI Bill, which he knew would fund his 
dream of attending art school. The stimulation he got, in the mid-'80s, at Grand 




For the first time in 
my life, I nave some- 
one who's taking care 
of me, rather than the 
other way around." 



Rapids' Kendall College of Art and Design, and the discipline 
he learned in the military and at the knee of his teacher-and- 
wrestling-coach dad, sparked his ambitions and set in motion 
his eventual move to Los Angeles. 

The well-documented years — 1989 to 1995— spent in L.A. 
forming Tool, forging collaborative friendships, and waging 
war with record companies and other hostile forces (traffic, 
agents, girlfriends) factor heavily in Keenan's vision of a new 
kind of music-making experience. He can't remember how the 
name Puscifer came about — something more to do with Luci- 
fer than pussy fur, though the latter is closer in pronunciation and echoes Keenan's 
peculiar fascination with pubic hair. (A merkin is a pubic wig.) It got off the ground 
in the mid-'90s as an umbrella banner "for all the little projects I was doing," 
he says. One of the first was a free Frances bean T-shirt — a dig at eternally 
derailed single mom Courtney Love. More snarky merch followed, as did guest 
spots on the comedy series Mr. Show, playing the frontman of the then-fictitious 
band Puscifer. The first real Puscifer recordings were one-off collaborations 
with Danny Lohner of Nine Inch Nails and A Perfect Circle for the Saw II and 
Underworld soundtracks. 

Puscifer, circa 2007, is a fully formed music and merchandising website. Oddly, 
for an aspiring anarchist who, by self-releasing Vis for Vagina, is joining the Web 
revolutionaries redefining the record business, Keenan wasn't even thinking about 
Vfor Vendetta when he named the album. 
"No. 'V for victory,'" he says. "You know, Winston Churchill." 
Winston Churchill? 

He's not joking. Or maybe just a little. He knows the title is provocative. "It's 
my sense of humor," he says. But he's dead serious, too, and reverent, he says, 
when it comes to women and the record's "feminine themes." 

"The V, in general, is for victory, but also for the [Roman numeral] V, which is 
the pentagram, the female form — also the chalice and the phallus," he says. 

A more generous interpretation of the album name might be possible had 
Keenan not already paraded his genitalia fixation and, more recently, teased 
the arrival of Vagina with the release of a couple of nonalbum tracks: covers of a 
vintage Tom Morello parody called "Cuntry Boner" and the Circle Jerks' "World 
up My Ass." This is, after all, the guy who named his band Tool. "The tide is total 
Maynard," Alexander says, howling at the suggestion that he might have been 
able to talk his friend out of using it. 

Alexander is one of the guest musicians on a record almost entirely created 
and recorded by Keenan and coproducer Mat Mitchell in the past year, on a bus, 
in hotel rooms, and in a handful of far-flung studios, while touring the States 
with Tool. Mitchell estimates that 99 percent of Vagina was built on Keenan's 
Apple laptop. "The foundation of all the tracks," Mitchell says, "were ideas he'd 
conceived either on acoustic guitar or humming into a Dictaphone or banging 
on the wall of his hotel room." 

Maybe not surprisingly, the result is something neither Keenan, Mitchell, nor 
Alexander can categorize. It's "trancey and hypnotic," Alexander says. "A total 
180 from Tool." 

Typical of Keenan's current thinking, his ambitions for Vagina are modest. 
He'd just like to get the franchise rolling so that, breaking from the tyranny of 
the major labels, he can release Puscifer music as he makes it — a few songs at a 
time, via iTunes and puscifer.com. It's fan-friendly, he thinks. So, too, is Puscifer's 
lascivious cartoon mascot, a curvaceous beast he describes as a "female-goat- 
ram-alien thing." 

The rest of Tool might call it a succubus. 



86 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 



anchorblue.com 




I anny Carey, Adam Jones, and Justin Chancellor are names you 
i ■ I don't hear mentioned in the same breath as Puscifer. While Tool 

I H I may be a money-churning machine. Kccnan's bandmates have 

1 V I had no choice but to accommodate their frontman's ever more 
central side projects. The logistics of Tool's global touring, for 
example, have to be worked around Merkin's harvesting and bottling schedule. 
Keenan is unapologetic — about his needs and divergent interests, and about putting 
Tool on hold. "I just remind them that that's the way it's always been," he says, 
reaching for one of the many glasses of wine the Recovery Room host brings by 
for him to sample. "The guys in Tool have had since '99 to figure that one out." 

He's referring to the year he teamed with guitarist Billy Howerdel on A 
Perfect Circle, a diversion that let Keenan romp on a less dark rock landscape 
and yielded its own financial riches — low-hanging fruit he's been happy to let 
wither. Will there ever be another APC 
album? "Um, no," is his reply. "Maybe, 
someday, a song on a soundtrack. But 
an album? No." 

The gimme-more fatigue doesn't end 
with APC. Although he's clear that his 
commitment to Tool runs deep ("We'll 
make music together until one of us is 
dead"), he's in the middle of a crisis 
with the band. Some of it has to do 
with the stalkers. Most of it has to do 
with just singing the songs, which were 
written at times in Keenan's life when 
he was raging or wired or FUBAR. It's 
been ravaging to revisit those emo- 
tions night after night. "I don't have 
the energy to come from those places 
anymore," he says. "I just can't do it. 
It's like picking scabs at this point." 

That helps explain Tool's current 
stage setup. Keenan "fronts" the band 
from the back of the stage, a bent, 
silhouetted stick figure obliterated by 
screaming video projections. "I'm not 

that person anymore," he continues. 
"I wrote the songs for them to be 
cathartic. You exorcise the demon. . . 
and then you move on. But the way 
we're doing it, I have to keep bringing 
it up again. It's destructive — physically 
and emotionally destructive." 

At 43, the routine of touring, 
he says, has become grueling. He's 
reminded of a tenor who certainly 
never trilled "Stinkfist" or "Prison Sex" 
but knew what it took to power through 
soul-lacerating arias. "Pavarotti just 
died," notes Keenan, "and he used to 
say that one of the only things that got 

him through was solid sleep, a familiar bed, and not singing." He catches himself. 
"Periods of not singing." 

Unquestionably, Keenan is in a better place these days than when he penned 
most of Tool's tortured librettos. Caduceus, which sold its first bottle in 2004, 
about four years after Keenan planted his first vine, now moves 1,200 cases a 
year. That's "superlow volume," he says, but at upwards of $95 a bottle, it ain't 
Ripple, either. And after a few romantic flameouts (most notably with Brena 
Ferguson, the namesake of his squishiest love song; and Devo's mother, whose 
name he has never divulged) , he's settled into a loving partnership with a woman 
he's known for years and now lives with in the Verde Valley. "For the first time 
in my life," he says, "I have someone who's taking care of me, rather than the 
other way around." 

For a time, his dad even traded in Michigan for Arizona. The love affair wasn't 
mutual. "Arizona hated him," Keenan jokes. "Kicked him out. 'Back to the snow, 





bitch!'" But 12 years after Keenan saw these plains as the place to raise his kid, 
Devo still lives in L.A., in large part a function of his father's Tool itinerary. Even 
regular visits have been difficult. "His mom goes, 'Well, I can bring him out, but 
where the hell are you?'" 

Perhaps most unsettling of all is the still-fresh loss of his mother. If the cater- 
wauling in "Jimmy," "Wings for Marie (Pt 1)," and "10,000 Days (Wings Pt 2)" 
is to be believed, the paralyzing brain aneurysm she suffered when Keenan was 
11 crushed him. After her death in 2003, at age 59, of complications from that 
aneurysm, he spread her ashes across one of his vineyards and, tenderly, has 
named one of his wines after her. 

I ask him if those songs are the hardest of all to get out. "I'm not talking about 
that," he says. 

By the time this story comes out, Tool will have resumed touring. 



11 that's left is for 
me to hear some 
new Puscifer music, 
which Keenan has 
been withholding 
even from his publicist. Since the money 
earned from music sales is so crucial 
to recouping his cash outlay for the 
project, he can't afford any leaks. The 
only way to hear it is to go to his house, 
a prospect that doesn't thrill him, not 
merely because he's desperate to guard 
his address, but because it's a mess, he 
says, and once we get there he knows 
he'll clam up. "It's my personal space. 
I'll go into defensive mode. Nothing," 
he says, staring blankly at me, "will 
come out." 

He picks up the check and races 
ahead of me into the parking lot. Before 
I can find the headlights on my rental, 
he hauls ass. Careening into the street, 

I practically rupture the engine of 
the minivan trying to keep pace with 
his taillights. We climb and climb 
and eventually hairpin onto an unlit, 
pothole-filled dirt road. 

Keenan dumps his ride into a — well, 
there are no spaces — and charges 
through a gate and toward the house 
with zero regard for the person he's left 
groping in the black night. I stumble to his 
front door, which posts two warnings: a 
NO trespassing sign and a marksman's 
target in the shape of a human torso. 

Once inside, he keeps his word — that 
is, to not utter one. He points to a spot 
on the sofa where he wants me to sit. With its low light, blood-orange walls, and 
blue wraparound settee, the living room resembles a sky-top hookah lounge. 
The glinting panoramic view of the valley adds to the effect, as does the riveting 
canvas by Ramiro Rodriguez that dominates the room. Equal measures calming 
and unsettling, the 1993 oil painting portrays a naked man serenely — or maybe 
not — submerged in water. A crown of air bubbles rings his head, and the bare 
legs of a woman wrap around him from behind. Is she propping him up or pulling 
him under? It's titled Caduceus. He cues up first single "Queen B" without giving 
me its name and buries his nose in his MacBook Pro. Two more tracks pound out 
of the speakers, and that's it. 
"Ya gotta go, man," he says, approaching the front door. "I've got work to do." 
He opens it, and 1 cross the threshold into the night, turning to say thanks and 
good-bye. Silently (of course), Keenan half bows, then closes the door, leaving 
me in the dark. ^ 



88 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 





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WWW.SPIN.COM DECEMBER 2007 91 






In 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan emerged 

as not just another star within the galaxy 
of East Coast hip-hop, but as their own 
universe. The nine-man crew arrived 
from their home base of Shaolin — 
a.k.a. Staten Island — sui generis, with 
fully formed myths, beliefs, and a cryptic 
slanguage that took a glossary to parse. 
W (C.R.E.A.M.? "Cash Rules Everything Around 
Me," naturally.) Fourteen years later, hip-hop's 
class of '93 is mostly gone or forgotten: Black Moon, 
A Tribe Called Quest, Brand Nubian. But the Wu? 
Still recording. Still relevant. No other hip-hop group 
comes even close to matching the Wu's prolificacy. By 
a conservative count, there have been 35 Wu-related 
albums since 1992; include distantly orbiting Clan 
satellites like Killarmy, Sunz of Man, and Remedy, and 
that number blooms to well over 50. (And that's not 
even counting all of the Wu-related movies, clothing 
lines, and soundtracks.) "I always want to spread 
knowledge and light," says group mastermind RZA. "My 
job ain't finished." So just when you think you have a 
handle on it, there's more: Last summer's Rock the Bells 
shows; a fifth studio album, 8 Diagrams; and Ghostface 
Killah's new Big Dough Rehab. Here is a guide to the best 
and the rest, as well as a debunking of Wu myths and 
a map of the Clan's sprawling cultural footprint. 




, ENTER 

< pi 



WU-TANG 
Cj-Afi 



WU-TANG CLAN 

ENTER THE WU-TANG 
(36 CHAMBERS) Loud/RCA.1993 

The kung fu samples, the goofy nicknames (Raekwon 
the Chef? 01' Dirty Bastard?], the gnomic rhyme 
styles, the chaotic nine-man posse cuts, the RZA's 
thorax-snapping beats— it all seems commonplace 
now, but then? It was weird, hilarious, thrilling, and 
expanded the possibilities and parameters of hip- 
hop. Thousands of trip-hoppers owe their existence 
to the dreamy, smoke-infused beats, while an 
entire generation of underground, noncommercial, 
nonconformist hip-hop begins right here. 



CLAN CLASSICS 




METHOD MAN 

TICAL 

DefJam, 1994 

The Clan's first solo 
turn and first pop hit, 
from the only heartthrob 
in the bunch. (That is, if 
your idea of a sex symbol 
enjoys torture fantasies 
and smells like three- 
day-old blunt smoke.] 
But there's more to 
Meth than looks— his 
flow is something to take 
deep into your lungs— 
those bar-ending, infinite 
vowels I'Ticaaaaaaal '], 
the way he turns every 
line into a catchphrase, 
and how he rides the 
RZA's psych funk with 
such a swagger. 



O 



92 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 



SOLIDSOUNDS 




GHOSTFACE KILLAH 

IRONMAN 

Epic, 1996 

One of rap's great 
chrysalis-to-butterfly 
moves— Ghostface 
emerged on his first 
solo record as an artist 
reborn. Instead of typical 
gangsta braggadocio, 

he spews his own 
peculiar mix of hard- 
boiled surrealism ("Kiss 
the pyramid experiment 
with high explosive /I 
slapbox with Jesus, lick 
shots at Joseph," he 
spits on "Daytona 500"), 
soulful blaxplottation 

narratives, and 
gushy, self-pitying 
nostalgia trips. 




GENIUS/GZA 

LIQUID SWORDS 

Geffen.1995 

Consider the GZA Wu- 
Tang's moral compass, 
aesthetic conscience, 
elder statesman, and 
resident numerology 
theorist. His solo debut is 
so cerebral and low-key 
the violence feels almost 
bloodless. Appropriating 

samurai ethics Ivia 
samples from Shogun 
Assassin) and comic- 
book mythos (the cover 
is by Denys Cowan), the 
GZA speaks to nerds 
everywhere, including 
Seth Rogen, who wore a 
Liquid Swords T-shirt in 
The 40-Year-Old Virgin. 




RZA 

RZA AS BOBBY 
DIGITAL IN 
STEREO 

V2/Gee Street, 1998 

Not quite a traditional 
solo album, RZA 
credited his first 
non-Wu release to a 
mask-wearing alter ego 
named Bobby Digital 
There's supposedly 
a story line hidden 
somewhere in the 
RZA's lisped method 
rapping— have fun 
finding it. But with beats 
like these— female 
soul divas wail over 
foreboding cyberfunk— 
the words have hardly 
ever mattered less. 




RAEKWON 

ONLY BUILT A 
CUBAN LINX... 

Loud/RCA. 1995 

The hardest-hitting Wu 
member, Raekwon isn't 
gangsta, he's gangster. 
For better or worse, 
this hardcore classic 
kick-started hip-hop's 
fixation with Mafioso 
culture. In between 
lines of coke and 
musings on footwear 
design, Rae and cohort 
Ghostface look to cash 

in with one last big 
score. But RZA knows 
how this movie ends— 
his pianos, strings, and 
crippled beats are 
going to a funeral. 




OL' DIRTY BASTARD 
N***A PLEASE 

Elektra, 1999 

ODB found the perfect 
foil for his bipolar 
pimp tirades in the 
Commodore 64 beats 
of the Neptunes, who 
crafted much of this 
wildly uneven album. 

[Good luck getting 
through that gargled 
cover of the jazz 
standard "Good Morning 
Heartache.") There's 
still some bawdy fun to 
be had here, though, 
on tracks like "Got Your 
Money"; everything Big 
Baby Jesus released 
subsequently is just 
exploitive and tragic. 




OL' DIRTY BASTARD 

RETURN TO THE 
36 CHAMBERS: 
DIRTY VERSION 

Elektra, 1995 

The jester in RZA's 
court, ODB was a 

glorious mess— an 
out-of-control nutcase 

with a slurred style 
that mixed comedy and 
violence in unsettling, 
thrilling ways. His first 

solo album matches 
dissonant production 
with tremulous vocals 

and punch lines that 
prove he's in on the joke: 
"I came out my mama 
pussy— I'm on welfare / 
Twenty-six years old- 
still on welfare!" 



tlUIllJ 



WU-TANG CLAN 

THEW 

Loud/Columbia, 2000 

The Clan's third album 
rights the ship after 
their sophomore 
slump, 1997s Wu- Tang 
Forever, ran aground. 
Even with nine MCs 
and six outsiders 
stopping by— including 

Isaac Hayes on the 
histrionic, tear-streaked 
"I Can't GotoSleep"- 
TheW \s RZA's show- 
case through and 
through. His stunning 
avant-beats trace a line 
between Memphis soul 

and Jamaican dub, 
with a detour through 
Staten Island. 




GHOSTFACE KILLAH 

SUPREME 
CLIENTELE 

Epic/SME,2000 

Packing a broken 
heart and a fistful of 
disco-dusted choruses, 
this is Ghostface at 
his free-associating 

peak; he delivers 
breathless slang 
editorials, complete 
with shout-outs to fruit 
cocktails, over 70s soul 
strings and dusty vocal 
samples. It also features 
radio-friendly single 
"Cherchez LaGhost," 
an uncharacteristic pop 
track from a guy who 
loves language more 
than platinum plaques. 



FACT OR FICTION? 

RZA, GZA and Raekwon confirm 
or deny myths of the Clan 




1 After fleeing rehab in 2000, 01' Dirty 
I Bastard squeezed in some studio 
time with RZA in New York. FACT 

RZA: "ODB snuck out [of custody], made it to the city, and 
had a chance to appear at a Wu-Tang show. Afterward. I 
snuck him to my studio, which was a safe place to hide. 
I tried to get him out of town, but he was so stupid he left 
the studio to go get some pussy in Philly. [The police] 
picked his ass up talking to some bitches at McDonald's." 

2 RZA owns the rights to the Wu-Tang 
name. FACT 

RZA: "I trademarked it in 1 991 or '92. 1 have a big 
imagination and big dreams and big aspirations. To me. 
the brand is going to live through the music of Wu-Tang 
Clan, Wu Electronic, or Wu Films." 

3 Ghostface wore a mask during the 
group's early days because he was 
wanted for robbery. FICTION 

RZA: "Ghostface didn't wear the mask to hide from the 
police; he wore the mask in an artistic way. The name 
Ghostface comes from a kung fu movie, The Mystery of 
Chess Boxing; he was one of the baddest bad guys ever to 
hit the screen. So the mask was just part of his persona." 

/ Several of the masked men on the 
■H- cover of the Wu's 1 993 debut are not 
actually in the group. FACT 

GZA: " If you look at the first cover, we all wore masks. And 
we did our first shows with masks on. That worked to our 
advantage— there were times when we had stand-ins. To 
be honest, at least one of those people on the cover isn't a 
Wu-Tang member." (According to Killah Priest, the missing 
included Ol* Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, and U-God.) 

5 Raekwon is on Golf Digests list of the 
'Top Musicians Who Play Golf." FACT 

Raekwon: "They put me on 'cause they respect my swing. 
I'm not good at all; I only played one time. I'm not trying to 
be a golfer. Maybe when I'm in my 60s or some shit." 

6 They bankrolled the original vinyl 
release of "Protect Ya Neck" wfth 
drug profits. FICTION isortai 

RZA: 'The original 1 2-inch was funded by Wu-Tang 
Productions. I don't want to incriminate myself or 
incriminate nobody. There were a few people in the 
neighborhood that invested in me. They got full returns 
and then some." ADAM MATTHEWS 



WWW.SPIN.COM DECEMBER 2007 93 



World of Wu 

Tracking the Clan's idiosyncratic inspirations, lyrical fixations, and cultural connections 




Quentin 

Tarantino 



3 



SLEEPER PICKS AND NEAR MISSES 






METHOD MAN & 
REDMAN 

BLACKOUT! 

Def Jam, 1999 

Though their 
partnership 
eventually led to the 
weedsploitation flick 
Wow High and the 
cred-obliterating 
Method & Red sitcom, 
this insanely funky, 
blunt-saturated party 
record was the duo's 
apotheosis. 



CAPPADONNA 

HITS 

Sony, 2001 

This on-again, off-again 

Clan member used to 
drive a cab in Baltimore 

when he wasn't contri- 
buting to various Wu 
projects. Indeed, on this 

compilation, he comes 
off like a great taxi driver 
who doesn't know when 
to put a lid on it, spewing 

all kinds of knowledge 
and nonsense. 



MATHEMATICS 

LOVE, HELL, 
OR RIGHT 

High Times, 2003 

Apprenticeship has its 
privileges. After laboring 
under RZA's tutelage 
for years, beat creator 
Mathematics— who also 
serves as the group's 
touring DJ— produced 
this tough, sample- 
heavy slab studded with 
appearances from the 
Wu family. 



ENTERTHEDUDS 




GZA/GENIUS 

BENEATH THE 
SURFACE 

MCA, 1999 

Perhaps GZA exhausted 

his flow with Liquid 
Swords. This depressing 
follow-up— faux RZA 
strings, aggravating 
skits, awkward 
pandering to the 
mainstream— finds the 
fluid MC making the leap 
from goth philosopher 
to grumpy old man. 



METHOD MAN 

TICALO:THE 
PREQUEL 

Def Jam, 2004 

Meth finally jumps 
the shark. Rush with 
superstar cameos (Missy 
Elliott, Busta Rhymes, 
Snoop Dogg] and pro- 
ducers (P. Diddy, Rick 
Rock], his third solo disc 
isn't awful, just drearily 
average corporate rap. 
Even his chronic rasp 
sounds soothed. 



94 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 



HIDDEN 
DARTS 
PLAYLIST 

7 deep album 
cuts, unreleased 
gems, remixes, 
and B-sides 



America 
Wu-Tang Clan 

1 From the 1996 charity 
compilation America Is 
Dying Slowty. Over a two- 
chord vamp, the Clan 
mourn the effects of 
AIDS on the inner city. 

I Get My Thang 
in Action 
Method Man 

2Buned in the 
back of Tical, this 
rhythmically ndiculous 
track has a beat that 
evokes Can's Germany 
and Fela Kuti's Africa. 

Flowers (Original) 
Ghostface Killah 

3 Ghost nicks one 
of the original 
breakbeats, Bob James' 
'Take Me to the Mardi 
Gras," on this demo 
eventually reworked for 
Bulletproof Wallets. 

Wu Banga 
(Remix) 
Wu-Tang Clan 

/ This bouncy remix 
■T flips the creepy 

mood o( Ghost's Supreme 

Clientele cut into an up- 
tempo jam that provokes 
what few Wu songs 
can— a booty shake. 

Smith Bros. 
Raekwon 

5 This sinister slow- 
bum reminiscence 
of the '90s crack wars 
is one of the Chef's few 
post-Unx career peaks. 

My Guitar 
Ghostface Killah 

6 On an early— 
and superior to 8 
Diagrams —interpolation 
of 'While My Guitar Gently 
Weeps," Ghost croons 
like a man on the brink. 

Cuttin Headz 
(Demo) 

01' Dirty Bastard, 
featuring RZA 

7 From the Clan's 
original demo tape, 
this lo-fi rarity features 
an embryonic ODB: 
frisky, funny, and. .sober? 



Cop 



How a thin, 
sweet, keening, 
reedy, strained, 
samey, nasally, 
high-pitched yelp 
became the voice of 
a new generation 



BY DAVID PEISNER 



PHOTO-ILLUSTRATION BY SEAN McCABE 





zoo 

zoo 

zoo 

zoo 

zooooo .. 



zooooo. 



In the back of a tour bus parked outside Amos' 

Southend Music Hall in Charlotte, North Carolina, 
in early October, All Time Low singer Alex Gaskarth 
sits barefoot, his knees pulled almost to his chest, his 
nose and mouth buried deeply in a Vicks Personal 
Steam Inhaler. Between deep breaths from the small 
humidifier, he works his voice up and down a scale. 

"Zoo zoo zoo zoo zooooo zooooo." Deep breath. 

Gaskarth usually starts warming up his voice an 
hour before stepping onstage, slowly working it from 
the lower range he speaks in to the higher range he 
sings in. Today, he's struggling. 

"Aaaah-ooooooh-aaaah." 

He coughs, then blows his nose. "Shit, it's so 
breathy. It's fatigue. I've been partying too hard." 

Voice problems notwithstanding, Gaskarth is 
doing all right. Ten days ago, his band released their 
second album — think Jimmy Eat World if they'd just 
graduated high school — which sold nearly 15,000 
copies its first week, an impressive number for a 
bunch of 19-year-olds on a midsize indie label like 
Hopeless Records. Outside the venue two hours 
ago, he was mobbed by teen girls requesting photos, 
autographs, hugs, and in one case, a bracelet off his 
wrist. And in 20 minutes he'll take the stage — third 
on a four-band bill that includes like-minded outfits 
Boys Like Girls, the Audition, and We the Kings — to 
the ear-piercing squeals of those same girls. When 
he does, he'll sound considerably raspier than he 
does on record, but even those who've never heard 
his band before will likely recognize Gaskarth's high- 
pitched keen. While it would be unfair to accuse each 
of tonight's singers of sounding identical, they all 
traffic in a vocal style that's become a sort of emo 
and pop-punk membership card. 

"There's this connotation with pop punk that the 
vocalists are often whiny and monotone," Gaskarth 
said over dinner hours earlier. " [Producers] push the 
vocals a lot and compress them, so it sounds as if it 
was lo-fi. People just get used to hearing it." 

An incomplete list of bands whose singers can 
be categorized as purveyors of "emo voice" would 




The high life (clockwise from top left): Chris Carrabba, the Starting Line's Kenny Vasoli, Saves the Day's 
Chris Conley, Plain White T's Tom Higgenson. Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump, Say Anything's Max Bemis 



include Fall Out Boy. Plain White Ts, the Red Jump- 
suit Apparatus. Hawthorne Heights. Morion City 
Soundtrack, the All-American Rejects, Yellowcard, the 
Starting Line, Cobra Starship, and Permanent Me. Surf 
MySpace's emo pages and the sound is inescapable. 

And at a time when nobody is supposed to be buy- 
ing music, Fall Out Boy have sold more than four mil- 
lion albums, the All-American Rejects around three 
million, Yellowcard more than two million, and both 
Plain White T's and the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus' 
most recent releases will likely go platinum. More 
important perhaps, even the bands without major-label 
marketing dollars are selling well: Besides All Time 
Low's recent release, Hawthorne Heights' two Victory 
Records albums have sold 1.5 million copies, and 
Motion City Soundtrack's Even If It Kills Me debuted at 
No. 16, moving 33,000 copies its first week. Not since 
alt rock was a post-grunge playground dominated by 
the likes of Bush, Creed, Silverchair, Live, Candlebox, 
and 3 Doors Down have so many bands become so 
successful by sounding so much alike. 

"Every ten years in rock, there's a new voice that 
defines the next generation," says Matt Squire, who 
coproduced All Time Low's latest and has worked 
on albums by Boys Like Girls, Permanent Me, and 
Panic! At the Disco. "When I was growing up, it 
was the grunge thing — that man voice that started 
with Eddie Vedder and Alice in Chains. This latest 
generation has a very distinct style. For me, there's 
a lot of bounce and attitude in it." 



Daniel Levitin is a former producer and record- 
ing engineer who is now a cognitive scientist and 
author of the book This Is Your Brain on Music, which 
examines humans' psychological and physiological 
reactions to music. He points out that there's a good 
reason this has become the genre's dominant style. 
"When a singer is singing near the top of his range, 
adrenaline starts pumping, the body and vocal 
chords tense up, and that raises the pitch," he says. 
"This signals an intensity and an investment in the 
material you don't get in the lower ranges. The brain 
is attuned to the strain that comes with singing at 
the top of your range and senses emotional urgency, 
which is perfect for emo." 

But there's a sense within the community that emo 
voice is wearing out its welcome. "Too many singers 
want to sound as sweet and innocent as possible," 
says the Starting Line's Kenny Vasoli. "People are 
less aggressive in this music than they should be, 
considering it came from punk rock. You don't hear 
a lot of guys in the emo scene with dark, smoky, 
soulful voices." 

Some observers, like producer Tim O'Heir, who has 
worked with the All-American Rejects, the Starting 
Line, and Say Anything, are even more fed up. "It's a 
lack of style," he says. "It doesn't seem like a lot of these 
people actually grew up wanting to be rock singers. We 
don't have many Jaggers and Bowies. Nobody wants to 
be ostentatious; they want to keep it humble. The rock 
singer of yesterday is not the rock star of today." 



Uj - 
JO I 



>2 



03 O 



52 

> 03 



98 DECEMBER20O7WWW.SPIN.COM 



Copyr 



led material 



Blink-182 opened 
the door for this 
same-sounding 
vocal thing where 
you adhere 
stringently to 
the melody." 



PRODUCER TIM O'HEIR 




Most genre tags are problematic ways 
of classifying music, but few have been 
the source of such near-universal derision 
as emo, short for emotional hardcore. 
Those credited as its earliest practitioners, from the 
mid-'80s to early '90s — Rites of Spring, Embrace, 
Jawbox, Jawbreaker — accepted the designation 
grudgingly at best but were spiritually united in 
their mission to bring a sense of melody and lyrical 
sensitivity to hardcore punk. The singers in this 
first wave didn't adhere to a single style or come off 
as particularly whiny. But with the bands that fol- 
lowed — notably Sunny Day Real Estate, the Promise 
Ring, Lifetime, and the Get Up Kids — the general 
contours of what is now recognized as emo voice 
began to take shape. 

Interestingly, though, in a poll of 17 emo or pop- 
punk singers (see sidebar), those pioneering bands 
were rarely mentioned as particularly influential. 
Instead, the touchstones were more recent: Jimmy 
Eat World's Jim Adkins, Saves the Day's Chris Conley, 
Taking Back Sunday's Adam Lazzara, New Found 
Glory's Jordan Pundik, and especially blink-182's 
Tom DeLonge. "This era we're in is really when all 
the kids who were influenced by blink now have their 
own bands," says DeLonge, whose new group, Angels 
& Airwaves, recently released their sophomore album. 
"I hear the influences in the way they sing." 

As O'Heir sees it, "blink really opened the door for 
this same-sounding vocal thing where you adhere 
stringently to the melody. Fall Out Boy is a prime 
example. [Patrick Stump] is a phenomenal talent, 
but he doesn't stray from the notes he writes." 

On Fall Out Boy's early material, Stump's voice 
is decent but undistinguished. However, on their 
more recent work, particularly this year's Infinity 
on High, his voice is fuller and at times practically 
soulful, suggesting that emo voice could be as much 
a product of youth and inexperience as anything else. 
"The thing is, most of us probably never had vocal 
lessons and don't know how to sing technically," 
Stump says. "But we want to do something melodic 
and clean. Those two things are at odds with each 
other; that makes for the nasally quality. But I also 
remember emulating bands like NOFX and the Sex 
Pistols who sang out of their noses." 
Max Bemis, frontman for Say Anything, whose 



pointedly titled recent album, In Defense of the Genre, 
features cameos by Conley, Lazzara, Pundik, Vasoli, 
and Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba, says 
he went through an evolution similar to Stump's. 
"When I was 17, I'd try to ape Chris [Conley] all the 
time," he says. "But I think I've developed my own 
voice. Touring has a lot to do with it — learning how 
to use the microphone as an instrument." 

Even Conley admits, "Back in the day, I'd sing 
as high as I possibly could, because I didn't know 
how to get my emotions out. As I grew older, I 
didn't have to strain like that — I was more willing 
to let those emotions come out gently. The strained 
vocal is something high school kids that don't fit in 
might identify with, because it makes them feel like 
someone is feeling their pain." 

O'Heir, for one, finds the pervasive influence of 
singers like Conley distressing. "Saves the Day: Here's 
an adult who sings like he's in sixth grade," he says. 
"Maybe it's a generational thing, because I like wit, 
sex, and violence in vocalists — Nick Cave, Johnny 
Cash, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones." O'Heir, who's 44, 
contends that this new generation of rock singers 
grew up watching and listening to industry-assembled 
pop stars, which has resulted in tamer, less ambitious 
performers. "Rock is a manufactured thing today, and 
the fans know it. That's what they grew up with." 

Connecting this vocal style to prefab pop is 
somewhat harsh — most of these bands write their 
own songs, play their own instruments, and sprang 
up organically — but looking at the fan base, Levitin 
sees a link, too. "The whole idea is to make music 
that would be nonthreatening to 14-year-old girls," 
he says. "You see this all the way back to teen idols 
like Davy Jones, Bobby Sherman, and Leif Garrett, 



as well as New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet 
Boys. All these guys don't sound like they're going 
to drag you by the hair into some seedy motel room 
and have their way with you." 

But Bemis suggests there's a generational divide 
at work here, and that those who only hear emo 
voice as hypersensitive and meek are likely on the 
wrong side of it. "A lot of people that come from the 
old school don't get it," he says. "They're so used to 
metal bands or early hardcore — this is a reaction to 
that. You don't have to be some kind of bro to get 
threatening. Kids with high, girly voices can sing just 
as passionately with anger." 

A few nights before All Time Low's 
Charlotte show, Dashboard Confessional's 
Chris Carrabba is playing solo in Atlanta. 
At 32, Carrabba is a relative emo senior 
citizen. About 30 minutes into the set, he steps to the 
mic between songs and looks out at the crowd. 

"Ian MacKaye is still alive, despite the Internet 
rumors today," he says. MacKaye, of course, was the 
singer/guitarist of Embrace and Fugazi, and the voice 
of Minor Threat. But the mention of his name tonight 
is met with several seconds of silence, followed by a 
lone voice that calls out: "Who's Ian MacKaye?" 

'"Who's Ian MacKaye?'" Carrabba says incredu- 
lously. "You've got to know why you like what you 
like," he continues, shaking his head. "Never mind. 
Til blog about it." 

The absence of historical perspective is 
hardly unique to Dashboard fans. Every generation 
inevitably complains that the kids today just don't 
understand what good music is, don't respect their 



They Are the Champions 

We asked the singers of 17 emo/pop-punk bands— from All Time Low to Fall Out Boy 
to Yellowcard— to name their all-time favorite rock vocalists. Here, four standouts: 



Freddie Mercury ■> 

"You could play Queen songs 
at a fucking baseball game 
and they'd still be completely 
artistic. Freddie Mercury 
wasn't like, 'I need to sell 
out.' He was just. 'I'm gonna 
rock so hard I could rock 
an entire baseball game! "' 
—SayAnything's Max Bemis 

Jim Adkins 

IJIHMY EAT WORLD) 

"He has the ability to sound 
the way he's feeling in his 
lyrics. In their recordings, it's 
as if he wrote the words and 
then sang them as he was 
writing, first take." 
—All Time Low 's Alex Gaskarth 




Chris Conley 

I SAVE ST HE DAY] 

"What I initially liked about 
his voice was the clash of 
having really hard, fast 
music with a guy who had a 
really powerful but sweet- 
sounding voice." —The 
Starting Line 's Kenny Vasoli 

Kurt Cobain 

"When I was a young boy, I 
wanted to be Kurt so bad. 
I grew my hair (ike his and 
covered his songs poorly. 
Few bands that I listened 
to at that age have stayed 
relevant to me now. Nirvana 
is certainly the exception." 
— Kenny Vasoli 



WWW.SPIN.COM DECEMBER 2007 99 



Girls like boys: All Time 
Low's Alex Caskarth in 
Charlotte, October 5 




trailblazing elders, blah blah blah. But O'Heir 
maintains that in emo, this ignorance is a real factor 
in what he sees as the genre's key weakness. "I just 
worked with a young band, and their music history 
starts with the Chili Peppers," he says. "They will 
not go back and listen to a great singer, like a Bowie, 
because it sounds old and weird to them." 

John Janick, founder of Fueled by Ramen, the 
label that's home to Fall Out Boy, Cobra Starship, and 
Cute Is What We Aim For, admits that many of these 
new vocalists do seem to be shaped more directly by 
their peers. "The guys in all of our bands grew up in 
this style of music, going to shows all the time," he 
says. "So they've got to be influenced." 

In this way, emo voice's popularity has become 
exponentially self-perpetuating. Lou Giordano, a 
50-year-old indie-rock fixture whose emo produc- 
tion credits (Plain White Ts, Taking Back Sunday, 
Sunny Day Real Estate) top a long career working 
on records by Mission of Burma, Hiisker DO, and the 
Lemonheads, notes that "until a few people broke 
the ice, people with higher voices and a nasally, 
reedy sound might not have even had the courage 
to get up and sing." He attributes emo voice's current 
prominence to the simple fact that "it's easier to sing 
up high. You can put your full volume into it really 
easily. People have trouble singing in the low register 
because they're not trained singers." 

Giordano has also noticed a uniformity in the way 
this new crop of singers is being produced. "There are 
definitely some unspoken rules about how to present 
the vocals," he says. "The breathing is in there, and 
the vocals are very dry, with not a lot of effects, 
reverb, or delay." Like Gaskarth, he also notes that 
the vocals are very "compressed," which essentially 
means the natural peaks and valleys in the volume of 
a singer's performance are squished together to make 
it sound more consistent. Dan Levitin says that the 
thin vocals on some of these records often seem to be 



the result of engineers taking some of the bottom end 
out of the voices to keep them from getting buried 
behind the guitars and snare drum. 

O'Heir believes there's something more insidious 
at work. "Fewer and fewer bands are making records 
in studios today because record companies don't have 
any money to pay professionals to make records," he 
says. "So you're not using great microphones that 
give the vocals warmth, presence, and depth. You're 
using the microphones you can afford at Guitar 
Center to plug into your Fire Wire device. All the indie 
labels have stopped using studios and producers. 
They're like, 'Here's a couple thousand bucks. Buy 
yourself a laptop and make your record.'" 

Despite the industry's financial woes, easy access to 
cheap technology means more bands are able to record, 
and online resources like MySpace and PureVolume 
have made it easier for them to get heard. "Sometimes, 
you have groups getting signed before the singer has 
a chance to tour and develop his voice," says Craig 
Aaronson, senior vice president of A&R at Warner 
Bros. "I think people just sing what they know." 

As the Starting Line's Vasoli puts it, "Bands like 
Hawthorne Heights are singing real high and real 
safely, and then other bands see how successful that 
band is and hop on the train." 

All the while, the industry continues to do what 
it always does — chase after whatever's selling. "A 
couple years ago, when the music was taking off, you 
could see major labels scrambling to sign anything 
with a high voice," says Vasoli. As part of a deal 
between their label, Drive-Thru, and MCA/Geffen, 
the Starting Line's first two albums were released 
by the major. "They were all about signing the next 
New Found Glory or blink-182." 

Richard Reines, cofounder of Drive-Thru, says that 
at the rime MCA/Geffen's thinking was myopic. "We 
signed Something Corporate, a piano-rock band, and 
Geffen was trying to make them into a junior blink." 



"It's easier to sing 
up high. People 
nave trouble 
singing in the low 
register because 
they're not trained." 

PRODUCER 
LOU GIORDANO 




Reines says he's disgusted by the industry's follow- 
the-leader mentality and that, in the past few years, 
he has severed ties with MCA/Geffen and steered 
Drive-Thru away from not only this singing style but 
emo and pop punk in general. 

"Look at Boys Like Girls," Reines says. "[Martin 
Johnson] has that voice, he has the image, and it gets 
big. It's Jessica Simpson for the alternative scene." 



Back at Amos' Southend, All Time Low 
are backstage a few minutes prior to their 
set. As blink-182's "What's My Age Again?" 
blares from the PA, the crowd out front 
begins singing along, and Gaskarth shakes his head: 
"Maybe we should just go out and play blink songs." 

But when they kick off with "Dear Maria, Count 
Me In," those assembled sing it right back to them. As 
Gaskarth struggles to reach the high notes, anyone 
looking to dismiss emo voice as the sound of teen 
idols will have plenty of ammunition: Of the 800 or 
so fans in the cavernous club, probably three-quarters 
are girls between the ages of 13 and 20. 

But such a dismissal misses the point. This vocal 
style isn't any less authentic simply because it's 
beloved of girls. For those frustrated that every other 
rock singer these days sounds like Tom DeLonge or 
Jim Adkins, it's important to remember that compel- 
ling vocalists aren't usually born, they're made. "The 
singers that will shine are the ones that will grow 
beyond this pocket," Gaskarth said earlier. "Like Fall 
Out Boy — Patrick started out very much in the niche. 
Now he's done something completely different. 

"We're in that pocket now," he continues. "We're 
a pop-punk band; we're not trying to be anything 
else. But we're on our first album and there's time 
for us to grow." 

To the audience, though, Gaskarth's vocal limitations 
don't sound like limitations at all. As Tom DeLonge 
puts it: "Do you want to listen to some 37-year-old guy 
who sings perfect opera, or do you want a guy who 
sounds like he's literally hanging out with you and 
your friends, singing about shit that you would do?" 

For tonight, anyway, the answer to that question 
is abundantly clear. * 

MORE AT SP1N.COM To see and hear fans' takes 
on "emo voice," go to spin.com/findingemo 



100 DECEMBER2007WWW.SPIN.COM 



7 '7 



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BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STREET SAND 24/7 

The immensely popular channel is back in the SIRIUS lineup. Like before, 
E STREET RADIO is exclusively devoted to the music of Bruce Springsteen and 
the E Street Band. In addition to the music, the channel features intimate 
conversations with band members and other Springsteen insiders, plus exclusive 
interviews with the man himself. 



lus with SIRIUS, you'll enjoy over 130 channels of 
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five years, is available now. 



SIRIUS 



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SIRIUS Satellite Radio and the new album 
are available at these and other fine retailers. 





What goodies should you 
buy yourself and your loved 
ones this season? How the 
hell should we know? That's 
why we recruited a couple of 
experts, for whom holiday 
spirit isn't just an interest, 
it's a birthright. 



Photographs by 
Jonathon Kambouris 



Set design by 
Amy Henry 




I AGE 24, NEW YORK CITY 

| "My name was annoying 
when I was growing up, 
but I've since come to 
embrace it. Cashiers 
think they're being funny, 
especially around this time 
of the year. I'm like, Yeah, 
I know. Can I just have my 
debit card back, please?"' 



AGE 40, BROOKLYN, 
NEW YORK 

People get a kick out of [ 
my name; it makes them | 
smile. It's never bothered 
me. Sure, the jokes can ' 
get a little tired, but I { 
actually have an aunt 
named Mary, so..." 




WWW.SPIN.COM DECEMBER 2007 103 



Holiday Gift Guide 






□ satellite 
of Love 

With a multicolor display 
on the SKYR3 XM 
receiver and a sharp 
stack of speakers behind 
it, galacticalty powered 
music and frustrating 
broadcasts of Mets 
games have never 
sounded clearer or 
looked better. $170. 
xmrodio.com; $170, 
detphi.com 

CLAUS: Satellite is cool, 
but it's 3 hard gift to give, 
because then the person 
is stuck having to pay for 
the service after. 



Q Unchained 
Melody 

The sleek Griffin Evolve 
iPod dock has a secret: 
Those two speakers? 
Pick them up and put 
them wherever you 
want. They're wireless 
and have a range of up 
to 150 feet, so you can 
keep your MP3 player in 
the kitchen while 
drinking and grooving on 
the fire escape three 
flights up. That is. if you 
have a fire escape. $300. 
griffintechnoiogy.com 
CLAUS: This is the best 
dorm-room system I've 
ever seen, but probably 
not big enough to be your 
main stereo. 



U Zeppelin 
Rules! 

We're not sure why. but 
music is just more 
enjoyable when it's 
coming out of a speaker 
that looks like a blimp. 
Bowers & Wilkins' 
Zeppelin iPod dock 
delivers clear, bottom- 
heavy land surprisingly 
loud] sonics. $600, 
bowers-witkins.com 
CLAUS: I wouldn't buy it. 
but if you're into high-end 
sound and want something 
you can sit on a bookshelf, 
then it's a good gift. 
CHRISTMAS: I love the 
design, but that's a lot of 
money. 




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Wookieeof 
the Year 

Marc Ecko brought a 
cheat to justice by 
branding Barry 
Bonds' 756th home- 
run ball with an 
asterisk. Perhaps he 
sees himself as Boba 
Fett. which would 
explain his line of 
Lucas-approved Star 
Wars T-shirts. $32- 
$38. eckounttd.com 
CHRISTMAS: The 
bedazzled Vader 
would be great for a 
woman— but what 
woman would wear a 
Darth Vader shirt? 




D Cor Blimey, 
Mate! Spot of 
Tea, Guv'ner? 
Ana So On... 

Do you enjoy bangers and 
mash? Are you particularly 
sensitive to jokes about bad 
teeth? Then your dream 
compilation has arrived. The Brit 
Box: U.K. Indie, Shoegaze, and Brit- 
Pop Gems of the Last Millennium 
features four discs of '80s- and '90s- 
era greatness from the likes of the 
Smiths, the Stone Roses, and Happy Mondays. And hey. 
lookee— the box lights up! S<55, rhino.com 
CHRISTMAS: I would have to say this is too specific. I've 
got friends who like Oasis, but I don't know if even they 
would need all this. 

CLAUS: But how could you not buy a box set that flashes 
lights at you? 



I 




104 DECEMBER2007WWW.SPIN.COM 




U Ax of Kindness 

If you want to play Guitar 
Hero but don't, like, own 
a TV, strap on this tiny 
Gibson-branded toy 
Power Tour Electric 
Guitar. With its four 
different sounds 
lincluding "punk" and 
"indie"] and touch- 
sensitive neck and 
"strings," you're only a 
drum machine and a 
complicated haircut 
away from being in a 
Flock of Seagulls cover 
band. $70, hosbro.com 
CHRISTMAS: It s 
surprisingly responsive. 
It's tough to figure out, but 
once you do. it's on. 
CLAUS: Personally, I'd 
like to buy a tiny ukulele. 




□ Sally Field Sold Separately 

Venerable New Zealand label Flying Nun Records spent 
25 years releasing some of the world's finest way-off- 
the-radar punk and indie pop. The Flying Nun Box fea- 
tures 83 gems from the likes of the Vertaines. Straitjacket 
Fits, the 30s. and other cleverly named bands, as well 
as a book containing more than 100 pictures of fun- 
loving, hard-living Kiwis. $150. smokecds.com 
CLAUS: If you were into the records, this is the greatest 
thing you've ever seen. The pictures in the book are 
pretty great. Might be worth it just for that. A 
CHRISTMAS: And the box has a lot of 
personality. I've never heard of most ol 
these bands, but I wouldn't min 
having this in my house. 





MAKE-YOUR-OWN 

Umbrella Kit 




Outside the Box 

This UA-piece crafts set invites you to "share in the 
legacy of dryness." Okay, so it isn't actually a Make-Your- 
Own Umbrella Kit. but rather one of three dummy 
boxes dreamed up by The Onion. Fool friends and family 
into thinking you got them something hilariously 
lame— especially effective if you actually got them 
something hilariously lame. $18. store.lheonion.com 
CLAUS: I'm giving all of my Christmas gifts in these boxes. 




Purple 
Hanes 

When Jimi Hendrix 
wasn't lighting 
guitars on fire, he 
liked to doodle. 

Those doodles hovo 

been captured for 
posterity on a series 
of T-shirts that 
embody Hendrix's 
obsession with 
fright-wigged women 
and psychedelic 
sunsets. T-shirts $36, 
hoodies $86: 
attamontapporel.com 
CLAUS: I love 
Jimi. They're oddly 
religious, but you 
know he was probably 
just high. 




WWW.SPIN.COM DECEMBER 2007 105 

Copyrighted material 



Holiday Gift Guide 



UMD 




□ sorry. 
Literacy Rate! 

Fun though it may be, 
the Sony PSP has always 
been a little cumber- 
some. This more 
streamlined, brushed- 
metal edition of the PSP 
weighs a third less than 
the old design, and thus 
is much easier to lose. 
$169, ptoystalion.com 
CLAUS: Can I make a 
phone call on this? 
CHRISTMAS: I'm old- 
school. If I can't play 
Asteroids, I probably . .v 
wouldn't use it. 




D De Do Do 
Do, De Da Da 
Darkroom 

Andy Summers isn't just 
the sexagenarian 
guitarist for the newly 
reunited Police; he's 
also an accomplished 
photographer. The hefty 
I'll Be Watching You: 
Inside the Police 1980-83 
collects candid shots of 
the band on the rise, with 
nary an image of Sting's 
tantra-fueled sexcapades 
in sight. $40. toschen.com 
CLAUS: It's a cool-looking 
coffee-table book, but I'm 
not much of a Police fan. 
CHRISTMAS: I've got the 
Police box set at home, 
and I still wouldn't be 
interested in this. 




U Like Green 
Eggs and Ham, 
Only Horrifying 

Stanley Donwood and 
Dr. Tchock (better known 
as Thorn Yorke) have 
provided Radiohead with 
album artwork since The 
Bends. Their new book. 
Dead Children Playing, 
brings together some of 
their most memorably 
disturbing visuals, along 
with lyrics and other 
gloomy musings. Pay 
what you want. (Kidding ] 
$ti, versobooks.com 
CHRISTMAS: It s an 
instant conversation- 
starter. Or stopper. 
CLAUS: This would give 
your coffee table an edge. 
It's perfect if you want to 
freak out your grandma 
when she comes over 
for tea. 



13 Dystopia 
Parkway 

With every rerelease. 
Blade Runner's 
legend grows. The 
five-disc Blade 
Runner Ultimate 
Collector's Edition 
features five III 
different versions of 
the sci-fi classic, 
plus knickknacks 
DVD $60. HDDVD$80: 
whv. wornerbros. com 
CHRISTMAS: Man. I 
like Blade Runner, but 
I don't know if I like it 
this much. 




Stream of Consciousness 

Love Internet radio but can't stand listening to it 
through crappy laptop speakers? The Tangent Quattro 
WiFi Alarm Radio can pick up your stolen WiFi signal 
and tune in to your l-radio presets with crystal-clear 
sound in a compact box. all without the need for an 
actual, you know, computer. $300. tongent-oudio.com 
CHRISTMAS: I'm not digging the design. I use Internet 
radio, but I'd rather listen to it on my computer. 
CLAUS: You're the first person I've met who uses Internet 
radio. It looks sort of cheap. But I mean that in the nicest 
way possible— like, it's affordable. 



□ A.KJL the Dtvorce-O-Matk 3000 

Have you gotten so good at Rock Band you think you're 
ready to play fake drums in a real group? The Ion EDO I 
electronic kit has five authentic-sounding digital pads 
and two pedals that output into stereo speakers or 
headphones. $300, ion-oudio.com 
CLAUS: This would be great if you know a kid who wants to 
learn the drums— it's a step up from a toy. 





Headbanger's Ball 



In the tradition of their largely excellent punk and post-punk collections, Rhino's Heavy 
Metal Box covers the golden age of fist-pumping, Satan-worshipping, parent-infuriating 
rock. The set features four chronologically sequenced CDs and liner notes by Ronnie 
James Dio and Lita Ford, and kicks off with frickin' "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida." Lest you 
fear that Rhino might be taking this much-maligned genre too seriously, it all comes 
in a package shaped like an amp with a knob you can turn up to, dun. 11. $65. rhino.com 
CHRISTMAS: I don't even think you need to be into metal to be into this. I'd buy it for myself. 





Kick up your notebook's 
performance. 
Make me the main ingredient. 




is* 




INTEL* CENTRINO® DUO PROCESSOR TECHNOLOGY, lintel) 

It's what drives your notebook's performance, wireless connectivity, and amazing 

battery life. It's the difference between a good computer and a great one. Centrino' 

GREAT COMPUTING STARTS WITH INTEL INSIDE. Duo 





O2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel Centrino, Core lnsi8e,End'lhteTlogoare1rarJerharks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. System, battery and wireless performance 
and functionality will vary depending on your system and software configurations. References to enhanced performance refer to comparisons with previous generation Intel technologies. 
Wireless connectivity and some features may require you to purchase additional software, services or external hardware Availability of public wireless LAN access points is limited, wireless 
functionality may vary by country and some hotspots may not support Linux-based Intel" Centrino* based systems. See http://www.intel.com product and performance pages for more information. 



SPIN 



FLASH 



PROMOTION 




3 




VHI SAVE THE MUSIC FOUNDATION 
TENTH ANNIVERSARY GALA 
Presented by LG 

September 21. 2007. NYC 

White the foundation was busy raising more than $200,000 during its live auction, which featured 
Gibson guitars signed by John Mayer, Keith Richards. Tom Petty. Metallica. Neil Young, and 
Paul McCartney and was MC'd by Project Runway's Tim Gunn. the soundtrack of the night was created 
with performances by Mayer, Jon Bon Jovi, Roger Waters, Miri Ben-Ari. and a 61 -piece student orchestra 
made up of VHI Save the Music students from across the U.S. 



Former President Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton, Mariah Carey, Conan O'Brien, Russell Simmons, 
LA Reid, Vanessa Carlton. James Blunt. Mya. Denise Rich. Katie Lee Joel. Ouincy Jones. Jane Rosenthal, 
and host Maria Menounos gathered to celebrate the foundation's tenth anniversary. 




(1] Musicians take the stage 





laterial 



Though I can help a 
notebook do amazing things, 
energy efficiency is 
where I really shine. 

I 




INTEL* CENTRINO* DUO PROCESSOR TECHNOLOGY. /jnteD 

It's what drives your notebook's performance, wireless connectivity, and amazing ^ - 

battery life. It's the difference between a good computer and a great one. Centrino 

GREAT COMPUTING STARTS WITH INTEL INSIDE. 



Duo 



• 2007 Intel Corporation All rights reserved. Intel, Centrino, Core Inside, and Intel logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. System, battery and wireless performance 
and functionality will vary depending on your system and software configurations. References to enhanced performance refer to comparisons with previous generation Intel technologies. 
Wireless connectivity and some features may require you to purchase additional software, services or external hardware. Availability of public wireless LAN access points is limited, wireless 
functionality may vary by country and some hotspots may not support Linux-based Intel' Centrino* based systems. See httpy/www intel com product and performance pages for more information 



« 



MASTERPIECE 




-Game Informer 



It's or\e of those rare games that comes along every five or ten years, sucks you ir\ knocks 
% your socks off, ar\d haunts you for years after you've played it." 



Jit 

: of the 



YaKoo! Games 



"Or\e of the most playable, 
thought-provoking, and just downright 
impressive games to emerge on a home 
console since, well, ever. Easily orve of 
the best games of the year." 

-GamePro 





OoutoMO / 10outof10 



"It's ingenious, enthralling, and a 
masterpiece of the most epic 
proportions. So without further delay 
would you kindly enter Rapture so that 
you too can experience the best that 
video games have to offer?" 

-Gamelrvformer 

M 



- Game Informer 

5 out of 5 

- Yahoo!' Games 



/ 



- Wired.com 

5 out of 5 

- GamePro 



"I spend my career, and my gaming life, 

• • Mb 

waiting for a moment when a game just 

astonishes me, when I can't believe what 
I'm seeing, what I'm doing. BioShock has 
five. An instant classic." 



Classic. 

- PC Gamer UK 




BiOSHOCK 

j 1 ■ .. 






More so than any other gome in recent 
memory, BioShock is dripping with 
atmosphere and intrigue, and it's one 
of those rare titles where story dialogue 
and character development are just as 
important as the action sequences." 

- USA Today 




A genetically enhanced shooter. 

bioshockgame.com / Available Now 



MATURE 17+ 



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Reviews 



YOUR GUIDE TO THE LATEST IN MUSIC AND MORE 




After the Revolution 

You remember these guys? The ones with the website? by mikael wood 




Radiohead 

In Rainbows **** 

INHAINBOWS.COM 

The most ironic thing 
about Radiohead's 
decision to sell their 
seventh studio album 
through the band's 
website only ten days 
after informing the world that the record 
even existed is that Thorn Yorke and Co. 
still aspire to Important Rock Importance 
at a moment when the Internet's 
camera-phone ephemera is making such 
indelible cultural relevance a seeming 
relic. Imagine Toyota selling Camrys at 
a shop that specializes in jet-propulsion 
backpacks. Gee, you mean power 
windows come for free!? 
In Rainbows also serves as an unlikely 



paradigm-buster since, musically speak- 
ing, it's actually something of a return to 
Radiohead's prerevolutionary days. (You 
remember, back when everybody sat 
around campfires singing Nirvana songs 
while picking bugs out of each other's 
hair.) Sure, there's plenty of texture 
and soundscaping and funny keyboard 
noises. (Don't be surprised if the beat 
from "15 Step," which sounds like an 
army of marching kitchen appliances, 
crops up on a Kanye West mix tape a few 
months from now.) But what In Rainbows' 
ten relatively straightforward tunes really 
suggest is that Yorke and his bandmates 
are no longer obsessively fascinated by 
process. After a decade of taking apart 
rock songs to find out how they work, 
these technophobic gearheads are ready 
to start putting them back together again. 
The album succeeds because all that 



cold, clinical lab work hasn't eliminated 
the warmth from their music. "Body- 
snatchers" is the hottest rocker, a nasty 
little fuzz-bass tantrum in which Yorke 
announces the arrival of the 21st century 
seven years late and a few marbles short. 
In "Jigsaw Falling Into Place," shaggy 

All that cold, clinical 

lab work hasn't eliminated 

their music's warmth. 

acoustic guitars ride a metronomic groove 
while Beatles-in-lndia strings swirl on top. 
Halfway through "15 Step," a group of kids 
briefly appears to cheer Yorxe's confession 
that "I end up where I started." "Weird 
Fishes/Arpeggi" proves definitively that 
Radiohead can write a Supergrass song 
whenever they want to. (It's unclear if this 



is something anyone's been wondering.) 

Yet In Rainbows isn't all old-fashioned 
guitars and vitriol; the album also boasts 
a handful of gorgeous quiet-storm 
ballads that seem to have been imported 
from a time even less troubled than 
the late '90s. The best one is "House 
of Cards," on which Yorke reveals his 
plan to become the new Prince: "I don't 
wanna be your friend," he coos. "I just 
wanna be your lover." "All I Need" is 
randier still, with the singer describing 
himself as "an animal trapped in your 
hot car" over slo-mo hip-house piano 
and a humid R&B beat. 

But on a Radiohead album, as in life, 
reality beckons— soon enough, on "Faust 
Arp," Yorke is curdling a folk-pop idyll 
with bad news: "I love you, but enough 
is enough." Sigh. I wonder what Britney's 
up to today? 



ILLUSTRATION BY JIMMY TURRELL 



STAR RATINGS ★★★★★CLASSIC ★★★★EXCELLENT ★★★GOOD ★★FAIR ★ POOR 



Copyrighted material 



REVIEWS 



NEW CDs 




Castanets: 
Sweet songs, 
sweeter 'stache 



Arrested 
Development 

Since the Last Time -trtrkVi 

VAGABOND 

Southern soul crusaders finally 
get back on winning track 

This Georgia-based hip-hop 
collective emerged in the '90s 
as a positive-thinking antidote 
to gangsta brutality, dropped 
great singles like "Tennessee" 
and "People Everyday," won two 
Grammys, and then imploded. 
Though genial leader Speech 
has pursued a solo career since, 
this is the first AD album in 
more than a decade. Never 
short on messages, he uses 
warm '70s-style soul grooves 
to ponder racial identity 
("Sunshine") and search for 
spiritual renewal ("It's Time"). 
The superfunky "I Know I'm 
Bad" proves even good guys 
enjoy a little sexy patter. 
JON YOUNG 



Biffy Clyro 

Puzzle 

ROADRUNNER 

Scottish angst rockers learn 
to fly a more profitable path 

Though they formed in the late 
'90s, this Glaswegian post- 
grunge band finally became 
Britain's next big thing when 
Puzzle, their fourth LP, debuted 
at No. 2 on the U.K. album 
charts in June. It's easy to see 
why: The trio has an effortless, 
if colorless, knack for penning 
solid, accessible guitar anthems 
a la Foo Fighters. They also 
throw in the occasional quirky 
detail (a nod to Barry Manilow 
in the "Looks like we made it" 
chorus of "A Whole Child Ago"; 
a bombastic, Queen-like 
harmony break in "Who's Got 
a Match"). But those little 
embellishments aren't enough 
to keep the album from feeling 
like a series of mild variations 
on an extremely tired theme. 
;. niimi 



Ryan Bingham 



Mescatito - 

LOST HIGHWAY 

Bull rider turned troubadour 
tries to avoid bulicrap 
Here's how it'll go: First, you'll 
see this young Texas singer/song- 
writer on the cover of his debut 
album— sitting in the middle of 
a desolate highway, jeans torn, 
cowboy hat. Then you'll flip on 
the first track and hear pleasantly 
road-worn fingerpicking, plain- 
tive harmonica, and a cigarette- 
scorched moan. You'll hear songs 
called "Bread and Water" and 
"Hard Times." You'll feel like 
drinking a gallon of Mexican tap 
water when he starts crooning 
in Spanish. Is Bingham for real! 
Urn, no. Folk and country have 
gone through too many muta- 
tions for us to know what the 
hell "real" means anymore. What 
hasn't changed is that success 
in this genre means telling the 
story well. And Bingham does 
just that. BRET GLADSTONE 



Booka Shade 

DJ-Kicks 1 



German dudes introduce Aphex 
Twin to Brigitte Bardot 

The Berlin-based duo of Arno 
Kammermeier and Walter 
Merziger up the sonic intrigue 
on tracks by Heaven 17, Aphex 
Twin, Carl Craig, the Tubes (!), 
and others with their gospel- 
deep, elegantly wood-toned 
beats. Approaching rhythm 
narratively, unlike many of 
their peers, they crest with the 
Streets' Mike Skinner sputtering, 
"Love's an expensive game" on 
"It's Too Late," as if he's reciting 
a working-class operatic libretto. 
And the transitions in the open- 
ing five-track sequence leading 
to Yazoo's sweaty 1982 hit "Situ- 
ation" unspool like hard-edged 
storytelling. JAMES HUNTER 



Buck 65 

Situation **M 

STRANGE FAMOUS 

Erudite Canadian rhymer looks 
for inspiration in the '50s 

The white-rapper bubble burst 
well before The White Rapper 
Show, leaving Eminem to rule 
aboveground and only a few 
minor-league stars (Atmosphere, 
Aesop Rock) within spitting 
distance of the mainstream. 
Canada's Buck 65 definitely won't 
cross over with this concept 
album about 1957, which he 
posits as a watershed cultural 
moment (rock'n'roll's breakout, 



the Cold War, etc.). Maddeningly 
unconcerned with hooks or 
choruses, he spins story-raps that 
flow like a James Ellroy book, 
full of microscopic noir detail and 
witty references (did he just say 
"Buster Crabbe and Ed Gein"?). 
But it's never sonically engaging 
enough to stand out amid a 
rack of backpacks, josh modell 

The Busy Signals 

The Busy Signals ***J4 

DIRTNAP 

Record geeks and punk-diva 
ringer bring power-pop fury 

Halfway through "Plastic Girl," 
the opening track on the Busy 



Signals' debut, a Buzzcocks riff 
gives way to a hot and sweaty X- 
styte harmony between throaty 
singer Ana McGorty and bassist 
Jeremy Thompson. The jittery 
guitars and get-in-get-out solos 
that follow on "Stereo" and "So 
Pointless" are also dazzling, 
but it's McGorty's voice that 
may rocket this band out of the 
seven-inch singles set, fluctuat- 
ing between a fragile pout and 
seen-it-all boredom. Sneering, 
"You aren't worth my time / 
You aren't worth my nickel and 
dime" on album closer "Ring 
Ring Ring," she sounds like a girl 
you'd lick a sticky bar floor to 
get back. JASON BUHRMESTER 



Castanets 

In the Vines 

ASTHMATIC KITTY 

Hard-luck indie rocker quietly 
puts out a call for reinforcements 
Nomadic singer/songwriter 
Raymond Raposa could've taken 
it as a sign when his gear was 
stolen on tour in June (also, he 
was mugged at gunpoint out- 
side his Brooklyn apartment in 
200SI), but he's getting by with 
some help from his friends— 16 
of whom, including Sufjan 
Stevens and St. Vincent, appear 
on this third Castanets album. 
While his whispery vocals work 
well amid the woozy atmo- 




Bummer, Dude 

Ex-blink goof ball is so over the enema jokes 



Angels & 
Airwaves 

l-Empire **V4 

SURETONE/GEFFEN 

Nothing Tom DeLonge did 
during his high-flying days with 
blink-182 suggested he was 
one for self flagellation (unless 
you count, uh, the pleasurable 
variety). Yet with Angels & 
Airwaves, the earnest emo- 
rock band he formed when 
blink went belly-up, DeLonge 
is determined to highlight 
his least attractive qualities: 
the thinness of his voice and 
his weakness for half-baked 



existential nonsense like "Even 
if your hope has burned with 
time / Anything that's dead 
shall be regrown." 

Umpire is definitely an 
improvement over A&A's 
2006 debut, We Don't Need to 
Whisper. For one thing, ft breaks 

DeLonge is determined 
to highlight his least 
attractive qualities. 

out of the moody midtempo 
rut that too many pop-punk 
guys mistake for maturity. (See 
also last year's debut by +44 , 
the other post-blink e mo-rock 
act, featuring Mark Hoppus 
and Travis Barker.) Thankfully, 



DeLonge allows drummer 
Atom Willard to drive much of 
the music with vintage Warped 
Tour zest. And the band swipes 
from more appealing sources: 
Instead of cribbing the vocal 
melody from Toto's "Rosanna" 
(as DeLonge did on Whisper), 
Matt Wachter lifts the bass line 
of "Everything's Magic" from 
"Close to Me" by the Cure. 

But with its abundance of 
mushy self-help homilies and a 
seemingly bottomless well of 
blunted-Edge guitar arpeggios, 
l-Empire still makes you wonder 
what constituency DeLonge 
hopes to attract with such an 
anti-fun platform. What's his 
age again? Fifty? mikael WOOD 



112 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 



Copyrighted material 



m 

TO 

GREAT BEER MEETS GREAT MUSIC. 

AS IF THEY NEEDED ANY INTRODUCTION. . 




In partnership with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Miller Genuine Draft introduces 
The Craft— a series of live performances that give you music from innovative artists and an 
intimate look at what inspires them to create it. So whether you're pouring your heart and 
soul into your guitar or simply pouring a smooth, cold-filtered MGD, one thing's (~°^J^^ 
for sure. It's one long road to the word "great." And that's The Craft. V_^P t T/\ 



Special Advertising Section 



NNAS 



On the crest of a new lour, the Donnas are 
proud to present their latest album, Bitchin", 
whieh also murks their first release off their 
own label. Purple Feather — proving yet again 
that this fierce foursome refuses to be lied down 
to major labels and precom eived notions. 
Before soundcheck. the Donnas sal dow n to 
discuss the thing thai makes these ladies not just 
rockers, but true, fearless musicians: their craft. 

THE CRAFT: What is the Donnas' 
process for writing a song? Who brings 
something to the table? Is it always 
collaborative? 

Allison Robertson (guitar): We 
normally start with an idea for a chorus 
or title, a concept for the song in general, 
and from there create some kind of "song- 
scape," fill in lyrics, and start working on 
the melodies and building on them. 

THE CRAFT: As far as recording an 
album, how long did you spend in the studio 
on this album as compared to other records? 

Torry Castellano (drums): With 
other records, we would write and do little 
demos on a tape recorder, and then go to 
the studio and record it. With this album, 
we would write batches of songs and 
demo them. The demos ended up being so 
good— the recordings were really great— 
that we actually kept a lot of the demos. 

Allison: It was like blocks — patches of 
recording and writing, and then a month 
of "We don't know what we're doing." 

Torry: We ended up with almost 30 
songs, so at the end, we said, "Okay, 
that's enough. We gotta pick and choose 
what goes together the best." 



THE CRAFT: Is that a big departure for 
you guys? Were the rest of your albums 
recorded differently? 

Allison: Yeah. You have a couple 
months to write when you're off the road 
from your last album. Usually, people start 
to ask, "Well, when's the next album?" 
and "Do you have songs?" We don't 
really write on the road, so we would rush, 
and there was no time to edit the songs. 
We barely made the cutoff to having 1 2 
songs for the album. Then recording was 
always really cramped. You can't waste 
any time, because time is money. 

THE CRAFT: How have your influences 
changed over the course of your albums, 
and which influences do you think come 
forth the most? 

Brett Anderson (vocals): We've 
always loved huge arena rock and big 
party anthems, but the last record, we 
kind of stripped it down. I think that set 



studio conversations that was ongoing. 
We actually thought that with our manag- 
ers, who we really trust, and with Red 
Eye, a trustworthy distribution company, 
it's really not as daunting as it seems to 
just release your own record. 

THE CRAFT: At what point were you 
seriously considering it? 

Allison: Literally, we were done 
with the album, and it was like, "Let's 
just do it." People kept asking how do 
we do all that. You hire people and 
you put together a great team, and 
you can handpick. 

Maya Ford (bass): You make a 
marketing plan and have a goal. It's 
not that hard. 

Torry: We've always been the kind 
of band that wanted to be in on every 
single decision, and we like to be in con- 
trol. We learned a lot about what it takes 



"WE START WITH AN IDEA 

AND FROM THERE CREATE 
SOME KIND OF SONGSCAPE." 

us up really well to beef it back up with to market ourselves and our band, 
this record. and not just a record, but our record. 



THE CRAFT: Tell me a little about 
Purple Feather. How did that all come 
together? 

Brett: When we were in the studio 
working, we kept saying, "We should just 
put it out ourselves." It was one of those 



Allison: We just like having fun, and 
whatever makes you smile and whatever 
makes you want to have a drink. Every 
night I can't wait for the doors to open, 
just so the music can start and we get 
to play. Then we get to relax, and all 
of it is great. 




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REVIEWS 




Joy Division 

Unknown Pleasures **** 
Closer ***+ 
Still ****V4 

RHINO 

Coinciding with the Ian Curtis 
biopic Control, these reissues, 
each with a bonus live disc, 
sound bleakly awesome. 
But the late punk crooner's 
greatest moments were studio 
singles inexplicably omitted 
here: "Love Will Tear Us 
Apart," "Transmission," and 
"Atmosphere." You get live 
versions of the first two, which 
sound like Curtis is singing from 
the bottom of a deep, dark welt. 
Which, metaphorically, he was. 



Operation Ivy 

Operation Ivy * * *' , 

HELLCAT 

Named for Cold War-era U.S. 
nuclear tests, California's Clash 
left plenty of fallout themselves. 
They lasted two years and 
made a single LP (1989's Energy, 
included here with the '88 Hectic 
EP and two early compilation 
tracks). But their conscious, 
raw ska-punk inspired an entire 
West Coast scene. Rancid rose 
from their ashes, and Green Day 
covered "Knowledge," though 
the original here whups it. 



Orlando Julius 

Super Atro Soul *** 

VAMPISOUL 

A hot set of '60s and '70s 
sessions by the sax player who 
ruled Nigeria when homeboy 
Fela Kuti was still conjuring 
Afrobeat. Rooted in the jazzy 
horns and guitars of traditional 
highlife, Julius mixed it up 
with soul and funk, eventually 
splitting Lagos for the U.S., 
where he worked with some 
of his heroes (Curtis Mayfield, 
Isaac Hayes, etc ). Essentials: 



The sublime cover of "My Girl' 
and the James Brown-biting 
"Ijo Soul." 



Robyn Hitchcock 

I Wanna Go Backwards ***y, 

YEP ROC 

This five-CD set of '80s albums 
zeroes in on the trippy singer/ 
songwriter's best bits, with 
hooks, melodies, and Byrdsian 
guitar zing giving his surrealistic 
wit something to hang on to. 
The double disc of outtakes— 
subtitled When Thatcher Mauled 
England— is good for cherry- 
picking. Essential: "Uncorrected 
Personality Traits." 



Faust 

Faust IV **** 

EMI/CAROLINE 

With Wilco and LCD 
Soundsystem revisiting kraut 
rock's prog-groove science, 
Neu! and Can are being name- 
dropped again. But Faust 
rocked harder, and this 1973 
set was their handsomely failed 
attempt to sound normal. The 
bonus disc of vault scrapings is 
pretty awesome— especially the 
alternate version of "Krautrock," 
a hypnotic guitar-drone 
manifesto. 



Various Artists 

Well Deep: Ten Years of Big 

Dada Recording* * * * 

BIG DADA 

A nice slice of British hip-hop 
from a label that believed 
in it against all odds. Roots 
Manuva and Ty navigate jazzy 
grooves with old-school flows; 
Wiley rides bumpy grime 
electro-burps. Then there are 
the Americans— Busdriver, 
Spank Rock, Diplo, Infesticons, 
cLOUDDEAD— pimping 
progressive sounds abroad that 
their own people slept on. 



spherics of "Strong Animal" and 
"Three Months Paid," it's a shame 
someone else can't sing Raposa's 
dour, sketchy tunes. His pinched 
drawl hampers "Rain Will Come," 
until some crackling electronic noise 
jerks the song into a more intriguing 
realm, andybeta 



Charalambides 

Likeness *** 

KRANKY 

Mesmerizing guitar drones that 
may dissolve your brain 

This Texas duo have churned out 
spectral, psych-infused folk since 
1991, when Tom and Christina Carter 
first trolled through the Anthol- 
ogy of American Folk Music and 
began perverting and reinventing 
classic American memes. Likeness 
features lyrics plucked from the 
public domain, layered over heavily 
manipulated guitars. The narratives 
may be ancient, but the instrumen- 
tation sounds as if it were beamed 
down from outer space. All that 
otherworldly tension can be trans- 
formative: Try listening to the high, 
dizzy spins of "Figs and Oranges" 
without forgetting what century it is. 
AMANDA PETRUSICH 



Cobra Starship 

jViva La Cobra! irkY, 

DECAYDANCE/FUELED BYRAMEN 

Winking emo burlesque lands 
with an overwrought thud 

Second albums often suffer from 
hurried, weak material, but that's 
not the problem with Cobra Star- 
ship's disappointing jViva La Cobra!: 
On tracks like "Damn You Look 
Good and I'm Drunk (Scandalous)" 
and "Smile for the Paparazzi," 
frontman Gabe Saporta nails the 
hazards of the high life with witty 
precision. Sadly, the glitzy overkill 
production by Fall Out Boy's Patrick 
Stump nearly obliterates any poten- 
tial dance-rock charm. Despite killer 
hooks, "Guilty Pleasure" and "The 
City Is at War" leave an artificial 
aftertaste, ion young 



Doveman 

With My Left Hand I Raise 
the Dead * * A 

BRASSLAND 

Slo-mo cocktail folk from tastefully 
unkempt piano man 
Doveman's muted, claustrophobic 
compositions sound as if they 
were conceived in a dark, window- 
less room in an empty house in 
the woods— especially when they 
consist of just Thomas Bartlett's 
faint whisper and guitar (he also 
adds piano, drums, and a constant 
low-level hum). His second Doveman 
album neatly pairs studio-recorded 



REVIEWS ■ NEW CDs 



songs with atmospheric inter- 
ludes. He's at his best in Jose 
Gonzalez mode (the gorgeously 
subtle "Sunrise"), but also 
mixes it up, kitchen-sinking 
like Andrew Bird (the busy, 
hypnotic "Secret") and getting 
avant-classical on occasion. The 
inconsistency can be jarring, 
but it keeps the whole thing 
from drowning in tranquility. 
JOSH MODEU 



Duran Duran 

Red Carpet Massacre *** 

EPIC 

Venerable new wavers open up 
their wallets and say...ahhh 
For 2004's Astronaut, Duran 
Duran hired Dallas Austin and 
Linkin Park pal Don Gilmore to 
overhaul their vintage dance-pop 
sound; it didn't work. Here, they 
splurge on lustin Timberlake, 



Timbaland, and Timbo's partner 
Nate "Danja" Hills, who provide 
a reasonably good return on 
investment: "Nite Runner" throbs 
with future-sex love pop, "Falling 
Down" cries a river of crocodile 
tears, and "Skin Divers" re-cre- 
ates Fischerspooner's operatic 
electroclash for the three people 
who still care. Throughout the 
album, au courant emptiness is 
a cardinal virtue, mikael wood 




Fatal Flying 
Guilloteens 

Quantum Fucking * * *'A 

FKNCHKISS 

Texas troublemakers sound 
almost as scary as their name 
Though still youthfully rabid at 
three albums old, these Houston 
miscreants easily could've 
sprung from the late-'80s pigfuck 
scene (Killdozer, Scratch Acid, 
Big Black). Thankfully, their 
tunes— lumbering, treble-scarred 
shit-fits that are equal parts the 
Birthday Party and Fun House-era 
Stooges— pack greater oomph 
than nostalgia acts usually 
manage. Quantum Fucking finds 
the FFGs sneering and swearing 
their way through some of the 
most convincingly menacing 
garage punk the underground 
has puked up in years— 20 to be 

exact. AARON BURGESS 

Frightened Rabbit 

Sings the Greys ★★★V4 

FATCAT 

Crafty Glaswegians mix pop 
smarts and gawky energy 

Don't believe the name— this 
fervent Scottish trio are anything 



but fearful, though they're seri- 
ously jumpy. Like a young Billy 
Bragg who's gulped a gallon of 
espresso, singer Scott Hutchison 
and crew play a crackling 
garage hybrid of punk and folk 
on their stimulating debut. The 
country blues-style "Behave!" 
finds Hutchison threatening to 
"make a mess on the stairs with 
my mouth"; on "Be Less Rude," 
he unleashes a heated diatribe, 
exclaiming, "You should be less 
rude / You don't know what it 
might do for ya," sticking up for 
victims of bad manners every- 
where. JON YOUNG 



Ghostland 
Observatory 

delete. delete. i. eat. 
meat... *+* 

Paparazzi Lightning ***% 

TRASHY MOPED 

Electronica gets a big ten-inch 
boost from Lone Star loonies 
When Daft Punk's alien ghetto 
blast "Da Funk" touched down 
at a Texas rave in the late '90s, 
there wasn't an X Fi/es-level 
conspiracy panic, but the 
ground was irreparably shaken 
for drummer/keyboardist/ 



God of Efficiency I 




IX. #% 





* 


V 




"Throw your hands in the 


• 




m 


air, wave 'em like you're 








not programmed to care." 









Save the Robots 

The second coming of the Parisian man-machine 



Daft Punk 

Alive 2007 ★★★★ 



When Guy-Manuel de Homem- 
Christo and Thomas Bangalter 
dropped their substandard Human 
After All three years ago, Daft 
Punk seemed destined to join the 
ranks of '90s electronic acts whose 
sales shrank with the dot-com 
bust. Then upstarts like Justice and 
indie-kid pied piper James Murphy 
of LCD Soundsystem made French 
electro-disco hip again, and Kanye 
West sampled one of DP's most 
recognizable riffs on "Stronger." 
Suddenly, the duo has become the 
new Kraftwerk— roots music for 
the latest generation of cyborgs. 

Alive 2007 is the rare synth- 
based concert album to capture 
and transcend its creators' studio- 
bound essence. Daft Punk perform 
by DJ'ing their own anthems: 



Human After Alts robo-cock 
repetitions now build suspense for 
the peak songs from Homework 
and Discovery, as on the intricately 
throbbing mash-up of "Around 
the World" and "Harder, Better, 
Faster, Stronger." And rather 
than replicate their records in 
concert, as many rock bands do, 
de Homem-Christo and Bangalter 
remix from the stage, maximizing 
the tracks' impact. Every DJ with 

This concert album 
transcends Daft Punk's 
studio-bound essence. 

the right software attempts this, 
but few can both formulate hooks 
on the ecstatic level of "One More 
Time" and then tweak them 
into noisy oblivion, which here 
means dropping most of that 
track's vocal and extending its Van 
Halen-esque guitar riff to the stars. 
Regenerating and destroying pop: 
That's Daft Punk. BARRY WALTERS 



\ 



'1 



34 mpgl 





REVIEWS 



NEW CDs 



producer Thomas Turner. Even- 
tually, he and hard-rock singer 
Aaron Behrens got their own 
dance-punk spectacle up and 
running, and now, after years of 
outrageous live shows (one on 
a Lotlapalooza main stage) and 
an Internet swell, the Austin 
duo are "officially" releasing 
two albums— both recorded 
in 2006, previously available 
only on tour or through their 
website. Delete is a quirky, 
electro-pop mishmash; but 
on Paparazzi Lightning tracks 
like "Piano Man" and "Sad Sad 
City," the pair get their swagger 
jackin'. Behrens' androgynous, 
baby-please! squawk yanks 
Turner's electro squiggles and 
whapping drum programs into 
an absurd realm where robots 
grab their cyber-nuts and get 

daft. CHARLES AARON 



Grizzly Bear 

Friend EP 

WARP 

Brooklyn indie band eats itself, 
then asks friends for help 

Grizzly Bear have a penchant for 
cannibalizing their own work, 
following 2004's debut, Horn of 
Plenty, with a remix record that 
enlisted like-minded peers to 
reimagine the quartet's signature 
space folk. Friend is a collection 
of collaborations, covers, and re- 
mixes, featuring Band of Horses, 
CSS, Deerhunter's Bradford Cox, 
and others. "Alligator," once 84 
seconds of gurgle, stands now as 
six-plus minutes of dramatic rock 
pomp, while on the band's elec- 



tric version of "Little Brother," 
they twist acoustic twinkles 
into psychedelic squeals. Like 
cramming old furniture into a 
new apartment, the results are 
disorienting and weirdly invigo- 
rating. AMANDA PETRUSICH 



HolyF-k 

LP 

muNc wrks/seccars croup 
Toronto electro-noise collective 
make it up as they go along 

Holy Fuck play the sort of id- 
gripping dance rock that's best 
experienced in person— and 
not just because the pulsing, 
kraut-rock-meets-D.C. go-go jams 
sound massive on a club PA. 
Eschewing laptops, program- 
ming, and rehearsals, HF impro- 
vise electronic music on (mostly) 
analog sources, including 35- 
millimeter film projectors and 
ancient keyboards. Luckily, their 
second album, mixed by Broken 
Social Scene's Dave Newfeld and 
Girls Against Boys' Eli Janney 
from a variety of studio sessions, 
retains the raw energy of the live 
show, even without the visual 
barrage. AARON BURGESS 



Alicia Keys 

As I Am 

i 

Even after the wack headband 
at the VM As. she still rules 

Amid the rehabs, rivalries, 
and youthful sproutings that 
characterize current R&B, this 
Grammy-winning singer/pianist 
has remained an untainted. 



Alicia Keys: 
Soooo sleepy 




immutable force. And on her 
melodically powerful third studio 
album, she matures into the 
matriarch of her genre. As I Am 
is less influenced by '70s soul 
than previous efforts, but more 
invested in melisma, vulnerabil- 
ity, and sour relationships ("Teen- 
age Love Affair"). On the dreamy 
lullaby "Like You'll Never See Me 
Again," she ponders whether 
she'll be appreciated after a 
lover stops calling her name. 
Musically, at least, Keys has 
nothing to worry about— with 
her ever-improving songwriting 
(especially on the soaring ballad 
"No One"), she'll be revered for 
years to come. RODNEY DUCUE 



Mannequin Men 

Fresh Rot -kirkVi 

FLAMESHOVEL 

Don't stop them if you've heard 
this one (and this one) before 
Every note on Fresh Rot could 
carry a footnote identifying 
its source— Television being a 
major inspiration. As churning 
guitars generate jagged melo- 
dies, singer Kevin Richard plays 
the sleazy punk poet, hiding his 
sensitive side behind a sneering 
facade. Shameless recycling 
doesn't keep the Chicago quar- 
tet's second album from being 
great fun, however. Describing 
the shady practices of bad boys 



and girls, "Private School" and 
"Mattress" are smart, catchy, 
albeit tattered, pop tunes. And 
when Richard chants, "We are 
free," it's easy to share in his 
wild-eyed euphoria. ION young 



Maritime 

Heresy and the Hotel 
Choir 

FLAMESHOVEL 

Slight-voiced genre forefathers 
start getting their sea legs back 

Back before emo was, you know, 
emo"\ Wisconsin's Promise Ring 
was the form's late-'90s standard- 
bearer. Singer Davey von Bohlen 
and bassist Dan Didier's subse- 




Maxl Rose 



Emo finally has its own Use Your Illusion I and // 



Say Anything 

In Defense of the 
Genre 

l/DOCHOUSE 



"There must be 
something wrong with 
me," sings Max Berrris in 
"The Word You Wield," 
one of 27 songs on the 
two-disc sophomore 
album by his Los Angeles- 
based band. As you might 
expect, the tune is about 
girl trouble: "Why am I 
surprised you're giving 
up on me?" he wonders, 
as his ex slips into a cab 
and out of his life. But 



there's something else 
wrong with 23-year-old 
Bemis, and it's not the 
bipolar disorder he was 
hospitalized for in 2005 
(which disrupted his 
ability to promote Say 
Anything's debut, ...Is 
a Real Boy): Dude cares 
deeply and openly about 
emo at a moment when 
many of his Hot Topic 
homies appear to be 
running from the scene at 
full speed. 

As its title suggests, 
In Defense of the Genre 
boils down to a 90- 
minute demonstration 
of emo's usefulness as a 
healthy outlet for young 



men's frustrations; Bemis 
reminds the world that 
without his guitar, he 
might resort to mote 
dangerous forms of 
escape. (Emotional 
blackmail? Hey, welcome 
to the boys' dub.) Vet, 
with its detours into 
slick synth pop ("Baby 
Girl, I'm a Blur"), weepy 
roots rock ("Retarded in 
Love"), and big Broadway 
musk ("That b Why"), 
the sprawling Genre 
proves that emo needn't 
be boxed in by stylistic 
dogma. It's Bemis' pity 
party, and hell cry 
however he wants to. 

MIKAEL WOOD 



120 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 




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REVIEWS 



NEW CDs 




quent band, Maritime, has had 
a harder time finding its footing, 
perhaps because 30-year-olds get 
sensitive about different things 
than 20-year-olds. Von Bohlen 
is still mildly whiny, but given 
his distinctively wan vocals, even 
ecstatic gratitude ("For Science 
Fiction") sounds like whining. 
Better is the chiming one-two 
punch of "Peril" and "Pearl," 
which recall Lifes Rich Pageant- 
era R.E.M. STEVE KANDELL 



Meshell 
Ndegeocello 

The World Has Made Me the 
Man of My Dreams *** 

EMARCY 

She is totally forgiven for that 
John Mellencamp situation 
Sounding less like the jazz-funk 
chanteuse of old, Ndegeocello 
incorporates melodic post-punk 
a la TV on the Radio and chan- 
nels Funkadelic's acidic guitar 
on her seventh album. Along 
with songs from a 2006 EP, she 
furthers her lyrical and thematic 
focus on religion and sex in 
tunes like "Evolution" and 
"Virgo." While guitarist Pat 
Metheny joins in on the 



subdued "Shirk" and the Bad 
Brains-y "Article 3," the album 
works best when Ndegeocello, 
bass in hand, relentlessly 
attacks the groove on "Michelle 
Johnson" and "Solomon." 
ELYDELMAN 



Old Time Relijun 

Catharsis in Crisis ++!/, 

K 

Holy hell-raisers find heaven— 
but then keep on going 

Old Time Relijun's seventh 
album has its precedents: 
producer Calvin Johnson's 
trademark no-fi pop, the 
Cramps' sexed-up shockabilly, 
Captain Beefheart's gnarled 
jazz and R&B (OTR's name even 
references a Beefheart tune). 
But in spirit, Catharsis in Crisis 
aims for transcendence, with 
singer/guitarist/bass-clarinet 
mangier Arrington de Dionyso 
yowling through 14 meditations 
on birth, death, rebirth, and the 
demons fought along the way. 
His cardinal sin: not quitting 
when he reaches that golden 
state (see the numbingly repeti- 
tious skronking of the album's 
latter half), aaron burgess 



0m 

Pilgrimage 

SOUTHERN lord 

High priests of stoner doom 
lull, then slowly bludgeon you 
Since their days in Sleep, At 
Cisneros and Chris Haikus have 
been making monastery metal, 
a druggy, often quiet combo of 
Black Sabbath and Low. Pilgrim- 



age throbs and grinds with 
hypnotic, almost dubby bass. 
Aggression arrives, finally, in the 
second track (of four), "Unitive 
Knowledge of the Godhead," and 
is sustained through the fero- 
cious "Bhima's Theme." Cisneros' 
hazy chanting vocals, though, 
can be clumsy and spacey, at 
odds with the band's sonic tex- 
ture. Pilgrimage impresses, but 



Om have achieved more before, 
with less, jon caramanica 



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Based Boys **Vi 

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REVIEWS ■ NEW CDs 



blew up online last year, these 
kids were poised to be the first 
bona fide breakout act for the 
forever-bubblin' Bay Area hyphy 
scene (despite being perform- 
ing-arts-school kids assisted by 
old-timer Too Short, one of the 
members' uncles). Young L's 
eccentric, electro-minimal tracks 
are the main draw on the group's 
long-awaited debut full-length, 
and sadly, about the only draw. 
Lacking "Vans"-like concepts, 
the MCs drone on generically 
(and humorlessly) about cars 
and girls like Good Charlotte 
in stunna shades. Next to the 
colorful exuberance of hyphy vets 
like Mistah F.A.B., the Pack come 
off as entitled brats out of their 
depth. CHARLES AARON 



Prince Po 

Saga of the Simian 
Samurai *+ 

For reasons that escape us, 
Dr. Octagon has a new assistant 
Organized Konfusion were a 
potent '90s duo equally adroit at 
cleverly filthy double entendres 
and torrents of battle-rap 
righteousness. Apart, Pharoahe 
Monch had to wait eight years 
to release his brilliant 2007 
album, Desire, and Prince Po has 
deposited himself in the sci-fi 
netherworld occupied by more 
legitimately touched MCs like 
Kool Keith (who makes a guest 
appearance with disappointing 
results). It's a shame, because 
the noirish "Land of Perfect" 
and the wittily off-kilter "Roota 
to the Toota" would sound like 
winners on an album that wasn't 
so self-consciously bizarre. 
KYLE ANDERSON 



The Redwalls 

The Redwalls ★*% 

MAD DRAGON 

Former major-label pop rockers 
Stroke out on their own 
The lyrics to "Modern Diet" 
could be read as the Redwalls' 
preemptive defense: "They say 
it's all been done before / And 
there's really nothing new / 1 
guess that's just your point of 
view." That song actually dials 
back the Brit Invasion influence 
on this irretrievably unoriginal— 
yet ultimately sorta likable- 
Chicago band, replacing it with 
a bit of White Stripes-style 
bluesiness. But there's no 
escaping that it's all been done 
before, from Lennon to Davies 
to Casablancas, and with miles 
more style, josh modell 



Ri E« M ■ 

R.E.M. Live 

WARNER BROS 

Buck, Mills, Stipe, and others 
lead an old Irish sing-along 

Michael Stipe hates false adver- 
tising—he opens R.E.M.'s first 
concert album with the assertion 
"I don't wanna be Iggy Pop" 
("I Took Your Name"). And Live 
attests that their rock has always 
been about composure, not raw 
power. Its 22 tracks are steady 
and regal, so pitch-perfect that 
they're often indistinguishable 
from the studio counterparts. 
This Dublin performance tips 
heavily to earlier hits and Stipe's 
indignant expat interludes, and 
it's reliably beautiful, if staid. 
Still, when a thousand Irish 
voices accept that everybody 
hurts, they resound like a flock 

of saved souls. STACEY ANDERSON 



Axe Riverboy 

Tutu to Tango ***J4 

MINTY FRESH 

Classy songcraft from emotive, 
but not wimpy, Frenchman 
French pop rockers tend to have 
an effortless melodic gift, and 
that's the case with Xavier Boyer, 
leader of Parisian group Tahiti 80. 
Examining love that's not quite 
tragic but rarely right, on his 
solo debut he balances a graceful 
singer/songwriter personality 
and incisive lyrics with a dulcet 
tenor, as though he's mastered 
every soft-rock hit of the '70s and 
'80s and refortified them with in- 
the-moment passion. The chorus 
of "Carry On" and the piano funk 
of "Roundabout" predominate, 
but the whole album flows like 
Dashboard Confessional with an 
unexpected glow. JAMES hunter 



Saves the Day 

Under the Boards *★ 

VAGRANT 

Pop-punk hero perseveres 
in struggle to find himself 

As key as they are to emo's evo- 
lution, Saves the Day will always 
be linked to singer/guitarist/lone 
original member Chris Conley's 
identity crisis. He's led STD from 
their early days aping hardcore 
heroes Lifetime to the Beatles- 
tinged commercial flop of 2O03's 
in Reverie to the present: a 
three-album conceptual saga 
about self-discovery. Installment 
No. 2, Under the Boards, finds him 
in a surprisingly dark and new- 
wavish mode, bobbing through 
spare, angular arrangements that 
overemphasize the off-key bleat 
that's his albatross as much as the 
band's signature. AARON BURGESS 



The Redwalls are 
ambivalent about 
your so-called 
"perfect weather." 




Cup 




Sally Shapiro 

Disco Romance * ★ + * 

PAPER sac 

Synth-pop flashback that's 
more about beauty than irony 
A fragile, wavering voice 
swaddled in shimmering synths 
that recall a particularly bitter- 
sweet flavor of European '80s 
dance pop obscure to American 
ears— this is Sally Shapiro. She 
doesn't perform, give in-person 
interviews, or reveal her real 
name. Instead, she offers a 
love that can burn away the 
darkness of a lonely heart. Even 
her missed notes are poetic and 
genre-specific. Swedish producer 
Johan Agebjorn re-creates his 
childhood's soundtrack with 
uncanny precision, nailing not 
just the proper drum sounds, 
but also fluttering keyboard 
harmonies that weep with 
wintry joy. BARRY WALTERS 



Sightings 

Through the 
Panama 

LOAD 

New York art-noise vets suit up 
for another mission down below 
A decade into a career spent 
deconstructing the rock-power- 
trio format. Sightings continue 
to excavate the same noisome 
hole. On their sixth album, the 
band drill even deeper, abetted 
this time by pomp-rock motiva- 
tional speaker Andrew W.K. at 
the boards. The results remain 
scabrous but bitingly lucid— you 
feel every jackhammer jolt and 
rumble on songs like "Cloven 
Hoof" and the title track. Even 
a Walker Brothers cover, The 
Electrician," falls under their 
grinding pall. ANDY BETA 



Sigur Ros 

Hvarf/Heim 

XL 

Like a symphony of melting 
glaciers— sad and majestic 
Sigur Ros are hardly renowned 
for marketing sawy— the title of 
their third album was a pair of 
parentheses, thus rendering it 
only slightly less pronounceable 
than their 1999 breakthrough, 
Agaetis Byrjun. But this double 
album of live and unreleased 
songs feels cosmically overdue. 
Hvarf ("Disappeared") offers 
five previously unheard cuts; 
Heim ("Home") contains six 
live, acoustic songs from the 
band's summer tour through 
the valleys, fjords, glaciers, 
and community halls of their 
native Iceland. Both halves are 
gripping, but Hei'm's unplugged 
conceit— which spotlights vocal- 
ist lonsi Birgisson's high, ghostly 
howls— showcases the band's 
eerie pull. AMANDA PCTRUSICH 

The Silver Seas 

High Society 

CHEAP LULLA8Y 

Peaceful easy feelings that are 
too catchy to begrudge 

Formerly the Bees (the Nashville 
quartet that prompted a U.K. 
group to change its name to 
A Band of Bees), the Silver Seas 
specialize in familiar '70s-style 
soft rock that combines the hazy 
harmonies of the Beach Boys 
with Jackson Browne's running- 
on-empty rhythmic momentum. 
If these concise tunes weren't 
so effortless or if their settings 
were slicker, you might gag on 
all the Hollywood-ready creamy 
goodness. A romantic everyman, 
songwriter Daniel Tashian under- 



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plays his commercial skills with a 
casual charm that shrugs where 
others might strain. He's crafty, 
not contrived. BARRY WALTERS 



Six Organs of 
Admittance 

Shelter From the Ash 

DRAG CITY 

Psych-folk virtuoso's pipes 
could stand a tune-up 
On his ninth album as Six Organs 
of Admittance, Ben Chasny (also 
of Comets on Fire) is still channel- 
ing obscure acid folkies like Gary 
Higgins and Sun City Girls— even 
dedicating one track, "Goddess 
Atonement," to the latter. Like 
his heroes, though, Chasny has 
far greater range instrumentally 
than as a singer. And despite 
Shelter from the Ash's transcen- 
dent drones and trippy, Eastern- 
inspired guitar figures— embel- 
lished by guests like the Magik 
Markers' Elisa Ambrogio and the 
Fucking Champs mastermind Tim 
Green (also producer here)— his 
vocals too often kill the buzz. 

AARON BURGESS 



Soulsavers 

It's Not How Far You Fall, 
It's the Way You Land 

COLUMBIA 

Nobody does the down-home 
melodrama like Euro hipsters 

"There's gonna be a revival 
tonight," intones Mark Lanegan, 
accompanied by members of 
the London Community Gospel 
Choir, to open the second 
Soulsavers album from British 
producers Rich Machin and Ian 
Glover. Enveloped by a lush 
organ and dusty, looped beat, 
Lanegan sounds, if not reborn, 
then hopeful, which is a fresh 
look for the grunge-scarred 
meth-blues crooner. Machin and 
Glover see themselves as a post- 
trip-hop, Southern Gothic version 
of Portishead, with Lanegan as 
the weary diva, singing on eight 
of these ten atmospheric tracks. 
Frustratingly, the duo's cinematic 
visions simmer more than they 
soar, though a reimagining of 
the Rolling Stones' "No Expecta- 
tions" as a stately Leonard 
Cohen-esque benediction is 
stunning. CHARLES AARON 

Spank Rock and 
Benny Blanco 

Bangers & Cash irirkVi 

DOWNTOWN 

As nasty as they wanna be— 
with a postmodern rimshot 
Their mothers must be so 
proud. Baltimore-bred, Philly- 




Private Parts 

Heavy whimsy from Tool timer's side project 



Puscifer 

Vis for Vagina 

PUSCIfER ENTERTAINMENT 



Through four albums of dark, 
existential art metal, Tool 
have cast a spooky shadow, 
but the underlying truth 
about the band (and frontman 
Maynard James Keenan) is 
that they're pretty cheeky. 
/Emma featured a big single 
about fisting, a nod to acerbic 
comic Bill Hicks, and "Die 
Eier Von Satan," whose lyrics 
sound like a Nazi salvo but 
are really a recipe for cookies. 

Keenan's latest round 
of yuks is his solo project 
Puscifer, which first surfaced 
as a fictional band on the 
sketch-comedy TV series Mr. 
Show. Though V Is for Vagina 
has metal elements, it's totally 
gothed-up groin musk, and at 
the center of it all Is Keenan's 
voice, which is mostly 
embedded in the mix on Tool 
albums. He tries out a number 
of tones here, including a 



blue-eyed croon ("Rev 2220") 
and a lothario growl that 
wraps around words like 
"booty" and "saddlebags" 
with a Bjork-like air of wonder, 
as though he's discovering 
them for the first time. 

Keenan sometimes winks 
too much, but he knows when 
to pull back from the brink 
of ridiculousness (despite 
describing himself as a "pimp 
without a dog, without a 
bone"). V/s /or Vagina's 
industrial funk— featuring 

He sometimes winks 
too much, but knows 
when to pull back. 

multi-instrumentalists Danny 
Lohner and Lisa Germano, 
guitarist Jonny Polonsky, 
and Primus drummer Tim 
Alexander— is sharp and 
giant-sounding, with a 
delightfully subversive sense 
of melody. The album may 
seem like a gag, but for 
Keenan, that may just be his 
version of honesty. 
KYLE ANDERSON 



WWW.SPIN.COM DECEMBER 2007 125 



REVIEWS 



NEW CDs 



based tappets Spank Rock hook 
up with New York producer 
Benny Blanco— and anything 
with breasts— on this raunchy 
five-song EP. Spank Rock already 
scored with their absurdist porn 
shtick on 2006 debut Y0Y0Y0Y0Y0. 
Here, the influence of Miami bass 
buffoons 2 Live Crew is more, 
well, explicit: "See the sweat drip 
to your cooch from your doody 
hole." Grimy, Diplo-worthy 
beats make stripper jams like 
"Bitch!" and "PuSSy" as propul- 
sive as they are quasi-ironically 
misogynistic. But 2 Live Crew got 
arrested for their profanity. These 
new shock jocks are just playing 
it safe, marc hogan 

Sunburned Hand 
of the Man 

Fire Escape *** 

SMALLTOWN SUPERSOUND 

Four Tet production whiz tries 
to translate free-form spew 
By turns tantric and tantrum- 
throwing, this New England 
collective are as loose and 
nutty as a sack of granola. Their 
decade-long discography of 
tapes, CD-Rs, and double LPs 
documents an oddball road 
show of jazz, rock, folk, and 
noise. After briefly touring with 
the band in fall 2004, Four Tet's 
Kieran Hebden decided to try 
and smooth out their sound. 
With Hebden's quicksilver 
laptop edits, glitchy loops, and 
kraut-rock beats, songs like the 
title track and "The Parakeet 
Beat" begin to cohere. Digest- 
ible but still gooey, Fire Escape is 
the sonic equivalent of a protein 
bar. ANDY BETA 

Ricardo Villalobos 

Fabric 36 ★★★★ 

FABRIC 

Militant soundtrack to an 
international free-for-all 

It takes a certain level of ego 
to release a mix CD exclusively 
of one's own productions, but 
minimal house/techno producer 
Ricardo Villalobos is no ordinary 
DJ mortal. Though he hasn't 
set foot on U.S. soil post-9/11, 
his exhausting, hallucina- 
tory eight-hour live sets are 
legendary elsewhere. Amoebic, 
hypnotic, polyrhythmic, Fabric 
36 has a bit of everything: futbol 
chants, twitchy Prince pop, a 
sodden chick blathering about 
the Taliban and marriage over 
thunderous butoh drumming. It 
shouldn't work, but one song's 
throwaway line about how "con- 
fusion is next to happiness" helps 
tie it all together, andy beta 



White Williams 

Smoke *** 

riCFSB£AT6 

Obsessive tinkering leads to 
creepy light entertainment 
Echoing the scruffy synth pop 
of early Brian Eno— minus 
the intellectual pretensions- 
Cleveland's Joe "White" 
Williams cobbles together 
a likably ragtag version of 
electronica. For all the squiggly 
melodies and bumpy computer 
beats, however, Smofte's strength 
is his spacey chameleon voice. 
"In the Club" boasts a perfect 
replica of Marc Bolan's stoned 
purr, while the deadpan take 
on Bow Wow Wow's cover of 
"I Want Candy" recalls Beck's 
zombie croon. The goofy 
random noise of "Lice in the 
Rainbow" is icing on this odd, 
tasty cake, ion young 



Working for a 
Nuclear Free City 

Businessmen & 
Ghosts ★★★★ 

DEAF DUMB & BUND 

Welcome back to Madchester, 
sans the fluorescent baggies 
Expect whiplash from the 
constant mood swings on this 
two-disc, 29-song cavalcade, 
which augments the British 
band's stirring debut album 
with an EP and other tracks. 
Murmuring singer/producer 
Phil Kay and crew glide from 
clattering dance punk ("Donkey ") 
to sprawling psychedelia 
("Nancy Adam Susan [Shatter]") 
to acoustic tenderness ("Sarah 
Dreams of Summer") with 
alluring ease. Offering the fluid, 
shape-shifting perspective of 
a puzzling dream, tunes like 
"All American Taste" seem 
ecstatic on one listen, menacing 
the next, ion young 



The Warlocks 

Heavy Deavy 
Skull Lover * ★ 

re f pee 

No sorcery is strong enough to 
raise these songs from the dead 
Despite the disarmingly stupid 
album title (sounds like a 
necrophile's eHarmony page), 
the Warlocks are more funereal 
than ever. The Los Angeles 
quartet (halved from the lineup 
of 2005's Surgery) load their 
pinwheeling psychedelic rock 
with twice the distorted strings 
and percussion, but the out- 
come is sluggishly unrealized. 
Rather than continuing the 
band's drugged-out narratives 



and doo-wop hisses, Heavy 
Deavy is methodically ambient; 
rhythms unspool hesitantly 
under leader Bobby Hecksher's 
sonar wail, making this a 
middling version of shoegaze 
for people who stare at their 
hands, stacfy Anderson 



Ween 

La Cucaracha ★ * 

ROUNDER 

Actually, the one about the 
cock professor is pretty funny 

Having refined their increasingly 
impressive instrumental chops, 
stoner humor, and parroting 
skills into sophisticated musical 



satire, New Hope, Pennsylvania's 
Gene and Dean Ween revert 
to some of the silliest parodies 
and jokes of their 20-year 
career. That would be okay if 
the songs were stronger or 
if the genres they chose to 
mutilate weren't so noxious: 
Instead of psychedelic pop or 
Princely funk, they regurgitate 
limp fake reggae, crappy country 
yee-haw, dorky Eurodance, 
and nasty New Age. The David 
Sanborn-soloing finale, "Your 
Party," delivers a flawless 
Al Stewart "Year of the Cat" 
impersonation, but when that's 
a highlight, you're in trouble. 
BARRY WALTERS 



White Magic 

Dark Stars 

DRAG CITY 

Enchanting mystics still have 
a spell or two to master 
This New York indie-folk group, 
built around keyboardist Mira 
Billotte's keening, haunting 
voice, have never quite reached 
their full potential, issuing but 
one album, 2006's mixed-bag 
Dot Rosa Mel Apibus. With Dirty 
Three drummer Jim White again 
sitting in, White Magic opt for 
a second EP, featuring more of 
their well-worn but still spectral 
songcraft. "Shine on Heaven" is 
constructed from Billotte's piano- 




Grindhouse 

Metal virtuosos chew up and spit out genres 



Dillinger 
Escape Plan 

Ire Works **★% 



This New Jersey quintet sounds 
nothing like Lamb of God or 
Mastodon, but they all share the 
distinction of being classified 
as "extreme metal," and all 
three have emerged from a 
steadily built grassroots fan 
base into the world of six-figure 
sales and major-label contracts. 

Ire Works, Dillinger 's third 
full-length (after more than a 
decade together), is packed 
with the sometimes brutal, 



sometimes beautiful music 
only they play— an inhumanly 
dexterous blur that skids from 
grindcore to progressive jazz 
and beyond. Guitarist Ben 
Weinman is the lone original 
member present on Ire Works 
(drummer Chris Pennie was the 

The collection expands 
on their use of melody. 

latest departure, to Coheed and 
Cambria), and he holds together 
a collection that expands on the 
increasing use of melody heard 
on 2004's Miss Machine. 

"Black Bubblegum" is a 
collision of old-school Faith 
No More funk rock, odd guitar 



breakdowns, and surprisingly 
accessible hooks. "Sick on 
Sunday" adds mountainous 
riffs, spazzed-out instrumental 
explosions, and about 14 other 
genres to glitchy electro-pop. 
"Milk Lizard" mixes hardcore 
with a friendly rock chorus, and 
"Mouth of Ghosts" updates the 
Mahavishnu Orchestra's jazz- 
rock excursions. The blazing, 
innumerable-notes-per-second 
metalcore of "Lurch," "82588," 
and "Horse Hunter" will sate 
the diehards, but it's Dillinger 's 
willingness to constantly 
incorporate new sounds— even 
commercial ones— that makes 
Ire Works an experimental-rock 
touchstone. ANDREW FAMES 



126 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 



Cop 



REVIEWS 



NEW CDs 



Neil Young ..S^^^^^ 
' looks awful— 
C^^I^^^^^^K^^^ watt, Robert ^^^^^ 
Wyatt looks ^^^^^mK^k ^^^fl 








HO MXOHOl - 

Allowed 




On The Fairground 


r 




; 



recital lines and echoing lyrical 
koans, while on "Poor Harold," 
the band whoop around a spare 
snare beat, as if they were at 
play in the dark. ANDY BETA 



Robert Wyatt 

Comicopera **** 

DOMINO 

Elder trickster is a virtuoso 
of his own musical universe 

The latest album from this British 
prog legend suggests that his 
explicitly antirock excursions 
in the '60s were footnotes to 
a larger quest— the ultimate 
excavation of an original voice, 
unrestrained by genre and style. 
If that's the case, he's completed 
his journey. Structured like an 
opera in three hazy "acts," the 
CD is like spending a cloudy 
afternoon on Jupiter lazing with 
the old man, his quizzical sonic 
tricks at arm's reach (he "plays" 
samples of Brian Eno's vocals, 
the way Bjbrk manipulated 
Wyatt's on Medulla), his singing 
as ageless and haunting as the 
ammonia rain. I. niimi 



Xasthur 

Defective Epitaph ★** 

HYDRA HEAD 

Metal visionary crawls back 
up his own dark crevasse 
California black-metal loner 
Xasthur, a.k.a. Scott Conner, 
emerged from relative 
obscurity with 2006's Subliminal 
Genocide, releasing an opus 
whose weird, shoegazey 
atmospheres impressed hip- 
sters while its intensity earned 
the United States cred in a 
scene dominated by Europeans. 
With the follow-up, however, 
Xasthur reminds us that he is 
in this for himself: Mixed into 
a pealing, clinically depressed 
haze, Defective Epitaph slogs 
through a universe few others 
would willingly visit, let alone 
inhabit. There are subtleties 
drifting in the maelstrom (for 
instance, the elegiac keyboards 
in "Cemetery of Shattered 
Masks"), but as with any 
music this isolated, you need 
headphones to hear them. 
AARON BURGESS 



Yeasayer 

All Hour Cymbals ★★★★ 

WE ARE FREE 

Uplifting eccentrics vote yes 
for a new direction (or three) 
Naysayers accuse indie rock of 
being cautious and precious, but 
something remarkably contrary 
yet idiomatic still emerges now 
and then. Such as Yeasayer, 
whose peculiar, positivity- 
powered debut creates order 
from a mess of chants, tambou- 
rines, freak folk, and spacey 
atmospherics. One minute it's 
a worry-free TV on the Radio 
("2080"); the next, a Crazy Horse 
guitar roar; and later, a touching 
campfire chorus praying, "In my 
short life, I have met so many 
people I deeply care for." Near 
nonsense rarely feels this rich 
and unambiguous. IOSH MODELl 



Neil Young 

Chrome Dreams II ***V4 

REPRISE 

He can bring back 1973 better 
than any stoner-rock band can 

Young has spent the balance of 
this century releasing albums 
terrible [Are You Possionate?), 
conceptual (Creendale), and gim- 
micky yet heartfelt (Living With 
War), So it's strange to encounter 
a record that's just like he used 
to make— distorto riffs for their 
own sake and quasi roots rock 
with a tangible sense of loss and 
hope. The 18-minute "Ordinary 
People" will grab headlines for 
its epic workingman's blues, 
though the anthemic horns 
flatten the guitar burn. Per usual, 
his toss-offs— "Dirty Old Man," 
"Shining Light"— would flatter 
lesser songwriters. JOE CROSS 




Essentials 

Dancehall by baz dreisinger 



Sean Paul, 
Lady Saw, 
and Beenie 




Yellowman 

Look How Me Sexy: 
Reggae Anthology 

VP. 2001 

Credit for inventing this reggae 
offshoot— born at Kingston 
parties where DJs chatted at 
length over popular songs— 
usually goes to producer King 
Jammy and his "Sleng Teng" 
beat: Jamaican music's first 
fully computerized riddim. 
But during the early '80s, 
Yellowman was dancehall's 
unlikely poster child: a not- 
so-sexy albino whose witty 
bedroom boasts and loose, 
playful toasting ushered in the 
post-Bob Marley era. 



Shabba Ranks 

Greatest Hits 

SONY. 2001 

The genre's first Grammy 
winner, Shabba had it all: a 
booming baritone, plus— if we 
buy the wickedly slack lyrics 
that are dancehall's lingua 
franca— a "trailer-load a girls." 



Buju Banton 

Til Shiloh 

LOOSE CANNON. 1995 

Banton launched his career 
concerned with girls, guns, 
and antigay bluster, but his 
Rastafarian conversion in the 
mid-'90s redefined the genre. 
Instead of rapid-fire rhymes 
over quirky, digital beats, 
Banton chatted and sang over 
live instrumentation, proving 
dancehall could be conscious, 
spiritual, and hard-core as ever. 



Beenie Man 

Many Moods of Moses 

VP, 1997 

A star since he was eight, 
Beenie represents everything 
right about this music: He 
sings, tap-dances, and rides 
a riddim with ecstatic glee. 
His songs, especially those 
produced by hitmaker Dave 



Kelly, are sheer Rabelaisian fun. 
The single "Who Am I?" gave 
him taste of crossover triumph. 



Bounty Killer 

Nah No Mercy: 
The Warlord Scrolls 

VP, 2006 

Bounty's gruff baritone is 
menacing enough to make 
a shotta quiver. He uses it to 
address dancehall's favorite 
subjects— poverty, politics, 
pussy— and to threaten 
archrival Beenie Man. Their 
beef has produced some of 
the genre's best dis records. 



Lady Saw 

Give Me the Reason 

VP, 1996 

A cross between a porn star 
and a feminist scholar, the 
outspoken Lady Saw is one of 
dancehall's few female acts and 
the only one with longevity. 
Her stage shows make Lil' Kim 
seem virginal, and her song 
titles say it all: a juicy one here 
is "Life Without Dick." 



Shaggy 

Hot Shot 

MCA, 2000 

His R&B choruses and under- 
standable patois verses catered 
to the American market, result- 
ing in six million Hot Shots 
sold. Nobody made the world 
love Jamaica's "big bamboo" 
like Mr. Lover Lover or took 
the art of denial ("It Wasn't 
Me") to such chart heights. 



Sean Paul 

Dutty Rock 

VP/ATLANTIC, 2002 

Paul's robotic flow may be 
retro— influenced by early- 
'90s star Super Cat— but his 
hip-hop-inspired tracks (often 
by Jamaica's hottest young 
producer, Donovan "Don 
Corleon" Bennett) and smooth 
style are totally contemporary. 



128 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 



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STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, 
MANAGEMENT, AND CIRCULATION 




1. Publication Title: SPIN 2. Publication No : 000-401 3. Filing Date 10/23/07 4, Issue Frequency: Monthly 1. No of Issue Published 


Annually: 1 2 6. Annual Subscription Price: $14.95 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication: 205 Lexington Ave.. New 


York, NY 10016 1. Complete Mailing Address of Headquarters or General Bus-rtess Office of Publisher: SPIN, 205 Lexington Ave.. New 


York, NY 10016 9- Full Names and Complete Mailing Address of Publisher, Editor, and Managing Editor: Publisher: Malcolm Campbell. 


SPIN, 205 Lexington Ave . New York, NY 10016. Editor: Doug Brod, SPIN. 205 Lexington Ave.. 


New York. NY 10016. Managing Editor: 


Catherine Davis. SPIN, 205 Lexington Ave . New York. NY 10016. 10. Owner: SPIN is published by SPIN Media. LLC , 205 Lexington Ave. 


3rd Ft. New York. NY 10016 the members ol which are The McEvoy Group LLC. 85 Second Street, 6th Fl. San Francisco. CA 91405 13: 


Publication Name: SPIN 14. Issue date lor circulation data below November 2007 




15. Extant and Nature of Circulation 


Avg. No. Copies Each issue 


No. Copies of Single Issue 








During Preceding 12 Month 


Published Haareast to 










to Filing Date 


a. 


TOTAL NO. OF COPIES INet Press Runl 


647.119 


609.533 


8. 


PAID CIRCULATION 








Nil. 


Mailed Outside -County Paid 


435,234 


414.705 






Subscriptions Staled on 










PS Form 3541 








bill. 


Mailed In . County Paid 


0 


0 






Subscriptions Stated on 










PS Form 3541 








biai. 


Paid Distribution Outside the 


40.334 


43.229 






Mails Including Sales Through 










Dealers and Carriers. Street 










Vendors. Counter Sales, and 










Other Paid Distribution 










Outside USPS 








B44J. 


Paid Distribution by Other 


0 


0 






Classes of Mail Through 










the USPS 






C 


TOTAL PAID DISTRIBUTION 


475,547 


457.934 


d. 


FREE OR NOMINAL RATE DISTRIBUTION 








«U 


Free or Nominal Rate Outside- 


23.903 


15.230 






County Copies Included on 










PS Form 3541 








0121. 


Free or Nominal Rate in -County 


0 


0 






Copies Included on PS Form 3541 








dIJ). 


Free or Nominal Rate Copies 


0 


0 






Mailed at Other Classes Through 










the USPS 








dUl 


Free or Nominal Rate Distribution 


9.916 


8.328 






Outside the Mail 






e. 


TOTAL FREE OR NOMINAL 


33.819 


23.558 




RATE DISTRIBUTION 






r. 


TOTAL DISTRIBUTION 


509,384 


481.492 


i- 


COPIES NOT DISTRIBUTED 


137.733 


128.041 


h. 


TOTAL 




647.119 


609.533 


i. 


PERCENT PAID 


93 36% 


95.11% 


H. Th» Statement ol Ownership will be printed cn the Oecember 2007 issue 17. Doug Brod. Executive Editor. 10.23 07 



TO ADVERTISE IN THIS SECTION CALL 212-231-7319 




REVIEWS ■ MOVIES by troy Patterson 




Page and 
MaThlrtby 
eat (or three. 



Womb With a View 

Knocked-up teen finds love in soulful comedy 

JlinO **★★ ELLEN PAGE. MICHAEL CERA 



FOX SEARCHLIGHT, K-13 



The opening credits sequence catches 16-year- 
old Juno MacGuff (Page) slouching through her 
crummy suburb. She swigs from an economy-size 
jug of Sunny D as she goes, filling up her bladder 
for the third home-pregnancy test of the day, 
trying to believe that the first two yielded false 
positives. It feels entirely apt that her trudge 
back to the corner store should be a ramble 
through a graphic-novelesque anti-wonderland, 
catching a tone that's entirely apt. We're used to 
seeing misfit girls like our protagonist in cartoon 
form. Her sisters in precocious cynicism include 
Ghost World's Enid and MTV's Dana, and half 
the pleasure of Juno lies in the casual way it cuts 
through her comic-book sarcasm and uncovers a 
three-dimensional soul. 

The convenience-store clerk (The Office's 
Rainn Wilson) predicts the obvious in language 
typical of the film's slangy screwball banter: "Your 
Eggo is preggo." The father, Juno's kinda-sorta 
boyfriend, is Paulie Bleeker, and because he's 
played by Cera, who quivered and gulped as a 
junior neurotic on Arrested Development and in 
Superbad, he's clearly not daddy material. Juno 
makes it as far as the abortion-clinic waiting 
room before deciding to give the kid up for 



adoption. But what feelings will kick in when the 
baby starts kicking? And what do the prospective 
parents (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) 
really share besides the mortgage on their 
immaculate McMansion? How's it possible 
that material that seems more suitable for a 
Lifetime weepie instead forms the basis of an 
indie-pop comedy? 

Material that seems more suitable 
for a Lifetime weepie forms the 
basis of an indie-pop comedy. 

As directed by Jason Reitman [Thank You for 
Smoking), the movie builds from sitcom setups 
to wistful payoffs. He transforms characters 
who start out at as easy targets— the plastic 
yuppie adopters, Juno's tacky and turtlenecked 
stepmom— into endearing humans, and fashions 
the relationship between snappy Juno and 
squeaky Paulie into a tender teen romance. 
Knocked Up surety provided some excellent 
pregnant-belly laughs last summer, but this 
must be the year's truest riff on pending 
deliveries and burgeoning love. 




SPOTLIGHT ON THE MUSIC OF 

There Will Be Blood 

A study of excess that itself bounds over the top, Then? Witt Be 
Blood delivers regular jolts of mania, many attributable to Daniel 
Day-Lewis' turn as monstrous prospector Daniel Plainview, more yet 
radiating from Jonny Greenwood's menacing score. Greenwood— a 
composer-in-residence at the BBC and also lead guitarist for a little 
band called Radiohead— lays in with punishing drones of strings 
and mad atonal swirls, figures that buzz and whir like an apocalyp- 
tic swarm of locusts. It's the sound of avarice boring into Plainview's 
soul with more force than an oil drilL 



The Diving Bell and 
the Butterfly ★*** 

MATHIEU AMALRIC, 
EMMANUEUE SEIGNER 

MIRAMAX. RC-13 

Basquiot's Julian Schnabel 
scores with new artful biopic 
In 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, 
a French magazine editor revving 
with charm and chic, suffered a 
stroke, fell into a coma, and 
woke to a terror called "locked-in 
syndrome"— a paralysis that 
left him exiled in his own body, 
able only to control one eye. 
His therapists concocted a 
communication system for him, 
and dictating in that alphabet 
of winks, he wrote the memoir 
that Julian Schnabel (Basquiat) 
has fashioned into a singularly 
spectral look at love and fear. 
Even when we're absorbing the 
trauma from Bauby's perspective, 
the movie is anything but static. 
Its flow of memory and imagi- 
nation transforms the hero's 
nightmare into a dream, where a 
glance at the radiance of sunlight 
in a curtain is an elemental vision 
of what it means to be alive. 



There Will Be 
Blood * * * 

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, PAUL DANO 

PARAMOUNT VANTAGE, R 

Oil's not well in metaphorically 
rich P.T. Anderson period piece 
When Paul Thomas Anderson 
says blood, he means blood. In 
the director's fifth feature— a 
stark Western loosely adapted 
from the Upton Sinclair novel 
Oil!— the deaths come blunt and 
nasty. But this being a parable 
of Old Testament vengeance 
and New World capitalism, the 
title also points to the baptismal 
water of evangelists and the 
petroleum deposits beneath 
the American earth. In the early 
1900s, oilman Daniel Plainview 
(Day-Lewis) and his motherless 
child trek to an arid stretch of 
California where the people 



subsist on potatoes and faith. 
Hell-bent on striking it rich, Plain- 
view tests his greed against the 
self-righteousness of the local 
leader, a young preacher named, 
with the film's typical subtlety, 
Eli Sunday. Though Day-Lewis 
seethes juicily, under the weight 
of all that allegory, Plainview 
steadily grows more vicious and 
less fascinating, wasting away to 
just a cackle and an empty leer. 



Youth Without 
Youth 

TIM ROTH, ALEXANDRA MARIA LARA 
SOW PICTURES CLASSICS. R 
Francis Coppola gives life to 
a different kind of superhero 
At age 70, Professor Dominic 
Matei (Roth) has a head aching 
from a decades-old work of 
scholarship he can't finish and 
a heart scarred by a woman 
who did him wrong. This being 
Romania in 1938, current events 
do nothing to cheer the man 
up, and he's about to poison 
himself when lightning literally 
strikes— a sci-fi thunderbolt 
that rejuvenates his body and 
supercharges his brain. Given his 
new powers to read books just 
by touching them and to perform 
feats of telekinesis that would 
impress the X-Men, the Nazis are 
keen to make his acquaintance, 
and the first half of Youth has 
the tension of a crack thriller. 
But director Francis Ford Coppola 
has rigged things so that the 
suspense story melts into a New 
Age puddle. 




Marie-Josee Croze offers therapy In The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. 



130 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 



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Dandy of the Underground 



Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes stages his own Victory Tour by josh modell 



In his final gesture before 
stepping offstage October 4 at 
Milwaukee's gorgeous old Pabst 
Theater— yes, it's named for the 
beer baron, and tallboys are 
$3— Kevin Barnes dropped what 
can only be described as "pageant 
face." It's that look little girls get 
when they've just discovered they 
love being the center of attention 
yet are still charmingly unsure about 
it. It's an odd gesture from a guy 
who's fronted the increasingly popular 
Of Montreal for a decade— and who per- 
formed half a show in Las Vegas this year 
with his wang in the wind. Was it honest- 
to-goodness gratitude or just a smile of 
relief at finally achieving the absurd level 
of theatricality his songs deserve? 

Barnes emerged from the ranks of 
Athens, Georgia's free-spirited Elephant 6 
collective as the most outrageous of the 
bunch. If indie rock by definition shuns 
spectacle, Of Montreal left the genre in 
the dust long ago: This tour, dubbed 
"Gender Mutiny," features costume 
changes, psychedelic animation, a winged 
guitar player, and a Michael Jackson- 
inspired, motion-sensitive illuminated 

134 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 




catwalk that would have Pavement 
devotees shuffling away, eyes averted. 

For Barnes, it's a dream made tangible, 
the perfect scenario for his smart, slinky, 
sexy tales of depression, joy, and the 
sparks that fly when they mix. At the Pabst 
he was a bona fide dandy in riding pants, 
strutting around what looked like a set 
from a 70s Euro-pop chart show. Every- 

It's the perfect scenario 
for his smart, slinky tales 
of depression and joy. 

thing fit perfectly, even the bulge-bearing 
too-short turquoise shorts and fishnets 
he donned midway through. (Fittingly, 
licensing a song to Outback Steakhouse 
probably helped him fund the display.) 

Musically, Of Montreal had no trouble 
embracing the spectacle: Songs that 
felt a tittle claustrophobic on this year's 
mostly fantastic Hissing Fauna, Are You the 



Destroyer? were all-encompassing under 
big lights. The disco bass of "Gronlandic 
Edit" turned a song about doubt into a 
cocksure anthem; "Suffer for Fashion" 
rang like New Order imagining an end- 
of-the-wortd dance party; and "She's a 
Rejecter" alternated brilliantly between 
plssy and Impish ("There's the girl that left 
me bitter / Want to pay some other girl to 
just walk up to her and hit her"). If the stu- 
dio is where Barnes affixes fancy names 
and allusions to his pains and desires, 
the stage is where he sets them free. 

Songs from in-development new 
album Skeletal Lamping had the kids up 
front— some dressed in tutus to honor 
the experience— bouncing with glee. 
"Exquisite Confessions" rubbed up against 
Prince's silk pajamas, and "Softcore" 
took Pulp to places they should've gone 
but never did. Either could be a left-field 
hit with the right sonic dressing, and let's 
hope they are: Imagine the extravaganza 
Barnes could pull off in an arena. 



GENERAL 



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iterial 



CITY GUIDE 



«• » 




M&jmpkis ROCK CITY 



Historically hailed as the home of the blues, 
birthplace of rock (thanks to Sun Studio), 
and the capitol of soul, Memphis has also 
proven a haven for garage punk, hip-hop, 
and a thriving studio scene. It has nurtured 
envelope-pushers from B.B. King to Project 
Pat. Urban mayhem, low rents, and a deeply 
ingrained allegiance to all things eccentric continue to make 
this Mid-South metropolis a mecca for American music. 



LOCAL HEROES 



Widely considered the "Father 
of Color Photography," William 
Eggleston is also a longtime 
stalwart of the Memphis music 
scene, whose druggy '70s 
underbelly he chronicled in the 
vivid experimental film Stranded 
in Canton. Eggleston's arty images 
have been used to great effect on 
dozens of album covers by bands 
such as Big Star, Primal Scream, 
and Jimmy Eat World 

Originally a garage-punk cassette 
imprint launched by Eric Friedl 
(of Oblivians fame) in the early 
'90s, Goner Records has grown 
into a full-scale operation that's 
home to up-and-comers like 
Atlanta's Carbonas and Chicago's 
CoCoComa. The label has also 
expanded its enterprise to include 
a retail store in the hip Cooper- 
Young district and an annual 
Gonerfest extravaganza that draws 
dirt-hungry bands and fans from 
around the globe. 

Veteran rap duo 8Batt & MJC are 

best known for their pioneering 
Dirty South skronk, but the pair 
have also been busy fostering the 
next generation of local hip-hop 
stars. Pulling would-be talents 
from neighborhoods like their 
native Orange Mound, these 
mini-moguls record them at their 
jointly owned studio and release 
the results on their nationally 
distributed labels, 8Ways and 
MJC Muiik. 



RcicbQyBQSCDr 




Guitarist/raconteur Jeff Evans 
and motormouth drummer Ross 
Johnson are known for their 
decades of service in the trash- 
rock trenches. More recently, 
they've formed a kind of absurdist 
musical-comedy duo that haunts 
various dives around town. Their 
marathon shows mix jagged blues 
with caustic diatribes— if the White 
Stripes started writing dick jokes, 
they'd be on the way to ripping off 
even more Memphians. 

You'd be hard-pressed to find a 
true Tennesseean who will utter 
a bad word about the King— with 
the exception of Jimmy Denson 
Denson grew up with Elvis and 
supposedly shielded a teenage 
Presley from neighborhood bullies. 
These days, he takes any opportu- 
nity to spin uproarious tales about 
Elvis as a demonically possessed 
mama's boy whose "eyes looked 
like two pissholes in the snow." 



BARS AND CLUBS 




The Hi Tone Cafe 

1913 POPLAR AVE., 901-278-8663 
Once a karate dojo used by Elvis Presley, this venue has become the city's 
premier midsize club, hosting everything from rockabilly to rap acts. Elvis Costello 
staged a series of intimate shows here in 2004 (resulting in his Club Dote— Live 
in Memphis DVD), while the regular concert calendar is studded with sold-out 
appearances from the likes of Daniel Johnston and Neko Case. 



The View Sports Bar & Grill 
at the Executive Inn 

3222 AIRWAYS BLVD., 901-332-3800 
More than the average big-screen- 

and-hot-wings joint, this South 
Memphis hotel hangout has become 
a haven for the city's R&B veterans. 
Many famous (and infamous) local 

figures, including reclusive soul 
queen Carla Thomas, often turn up 
onstage unannounced. 

CC Blues Club 

1427 THOMAS ST., 901-526-SS66 
An antidote to the rote tourist blues 
found on Beale Street, this uptown 
Memphis juke joint is where the true 
fans go to get their dose of hometown 
blues. CC's is a haven for whiskey 
drinkers and seasoned musicians 
playing for genre-sawy audiences 
of "grown folks." 



Buccaneer Lounge 

1368 MONROE AVE., 901-278-0909 
This wonderfully grungy nautical- 
themed bar has been operating 
uninterrupted since 1967 on the 
edge of Midtown. Fashioned like the 
galley of a pirate ship, the Buc boasts a 
series of weekly residencies, including 
turns from boogaloo band the Grip 
and bluegrass ensemble Devil Train. 

Lamplighter Lounge 

1702 MADISON AVE., 901-726-1101 
A yellowing, smoke-encrusted 

beer den, the Lamp radiates ample 
Southern charm and first-name 
hospitality, courtesy of longtime 

bartender Miss Shirley. Cat Power 

shot her "Lived in Bars" video here, 
and Shirley's kitchen fries up a 

dangerously greasy burger to soak 
up all that Pabst. 



KNOW 
YOUR 
HISTORY 



Tucked away on an 
anonymous stretch of 
road in South Memphis 
sits Willie Mitchell's 

Royal Studio, an 
institution responsible 
for a staggering amount 
of seminal soul music. 
Poppa Willie's place 
continues unabated today 
as a working studio (he 
recently cut tracks for 
John Mayer), and Mitchell 
himself still can be found 
holding court in the Royal 
lobby most days. 




136 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.SPIN.COM 




oi 



* < 




Founded in 1957, 
Stax helped along 
legends like Al Green 
and Aretha Franklin. 
The original Stax building 
was bulldozed in 1989, 
but it has since 
been rebuilt as the 
Stax Museum of 
American Soul Music, 
which features keepsakes 
from Otis Redding and 

Ike and Tina Turner, 
and even houses Isaac 
Hayes' 1972 Cadillac 
El Dorado. 




In a town full of legendary 
labels, possibly the most 
colorful was Barbarian, 

a veritable insane 
asylum run by music biz 

fantasist Jim Blake in 
the '70s. Specializing in 
nonsingers and oddball 
acts, Barbarian recorded 
everyone from wrestler 
Jerry "The King" Lawler 
to screeching all-girl 
punk band the Klitz to 
notorious Vietnam 
vet/outlaw biker 
Campbell Kensinger. 




u 

BANDS 



Jay Reatard 

MYSPACE.COM/JAYREATARD 
Fueled by a charmed collision of synthy new wave 
and sugar-sweet garage punk, 27-year-old Reatard 
has the tunes and the attitude to make him the 
Memphian most likely to break out on a national 
scale. Born Jay Lindsey, he began his career a 
decade ago as a teen punk prodigy in the Reatards. 
He made big waves with last year's Blood Visions, a 
disarming blast of insistent hooks and horror-show 
lyrics. He's gained a reputation as a local bad boy, 
but the jumpy songs and his even jumpier stage 
demeanor are hard to resist. 

Jack Oblivian 

MYSPACE.COM/0FFICIALJACK0BLIVIAN 
Arguably the finest rock talent Memphis has 
produced since Alex Chilton, Oblivian (ne Jack 
Yarber) rode shotgun in blues-punk favorites the 
Oblivians and Compulsive Gamblers. Over the 
course of a half-dozen solo albums, Oblivian has 
essayed everything from lo-fi blues to skittering 
electro-pop. Since he's been in so many bands and 
played so many shows, most everyone in the city 
limits with a guitar has gigged with Oblivian at some 
point. He also sold former tabelmate Jack White the 
red Airline guitar that has become his signature. 

Harlan T. Bobo 

MYSPACE.COM/HARLANTBOBO 
Forty-one-year-old Bobo began writing and singing 
only a few years ago, after settling in Memphis and 
figuring out how to spin his frustration with women 
into haunting melodies. His albums are obsessive, 
twisted late-night platters that find him crooning in a 
warm, ragged voice that sounds as if it's been pickled 
in scotch, cured in Kools, and steeped in regret. 

River City Tanlines 

MYSPACE.COM/RIVERCITYTANLINES 
Guitarist/vocalist Alicja Trout is the leader of this 
riff-fueled guttersnipe trio. Milking the distaff 
pop-punk vibe of the Pandoras and the Muffs, the 
group built their reputation on a series of giddy, 
scuzzed-up seven-inch singles before dropping 
their full-length debut last year. Trout is a powerful 
female voice in a male-centric scene who has also 
collaborated with late Love founder Arthur Lee. 

BYBOBMEHR 



MM (ISSN 0886-1032), Volume 23. Number 12. Copyright C 2007 by Spin Media 
liC All rights reserved. Published monthly in the United States by Spin Media 
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Copyrighted materia 



THE HIDDEN TRACK 



Led Astray 



The Song Remains the Same, alas, remains the same bybrian raftery 



IF YOU WERE to examine my video-rental records from the summer of 
1991 — and you can now do so, thanks to the Patriot Act — you'd quickly 
recognize two recurring behavioral patterns. First, I had taken it upon myself 
to repeatedly scrutinize Winona Ryder's body of work. And second, on nearly 
every other Friday night, I checked out the same tape: Led Zeppelin's 1976 
concert film, The Song Remains the Same. 
The Ryder infatuation was bad enough — after all, no self-respecting 
13-year-old boy should ever get caught renting Mermaids. But getting hooked 
on The Song Remains the Same is simply 
inexcusable; it's a famously turgid 
slog, remembered mostly for bizarre 
fantasy sequences in which the band 
members wear medieval costumes, 
ride horses through the countryside, 
and generally behave like tipsy theater- 
camp senior counselors. It was recently 
reissued in a collector's DVD edition — a 
fortuitously timed cash-in, considering 
the band's reunion performance in 
November. But I doubt even the most 
devoted Zephead is pining to relive the 
days when Jimmy Page dressed up like 
a hermit with dandruff. 

Despite the film's pompous digres- 
sions^ — which go on way too long to 
qualify as avant-garde — I watched 
Song eagerly, each time hoping it 
would miraculously improve or some 
hidden genius would reveal itself. This 
was a band that, as far as I could tell, 
had done everything perfectly, from 
its mungo riffs to its unsubtle sex-talk 
lyrics to its cryptic album covers. Even 
their camel toes were cool. "There has 
to be something, somewhere in this 
movie, that's as great as the band," I 
thought. "Maybe this time I'll find it, 
even if it means once again having 
to watch Robert Plant wave a sword, 
which, even as an eighth grader, I 
recognize as way too overtly phallic." 

I wish I could say that this repeat- 
abuse pattern was just youthful 
idealism, and that age and experience 
have taught me that no artist is infal- 
lible. But to this day, I remain a true 

believer in my favorite bands, writers, and filmmakers, looking for something 
of value in even their biggest misfires, hoping I was simply wrong the first 
time around. It's why I sat through The Phantom Menace five times in the 
theater, and why I still own the complete works of Porno for Pyros. Being 
a diehard means I've had my heart broken a hundred times, and I'm not 
alone: Have you ever heard an R.E.M. nut rationalize Around the Sun? They 
become glassy-eyed, loud, and confused, like an accident victim waiting for 
the medics. 

Obsessive fandom is a lot like young, stupid love, with all of the attendant 
phases: There's the googly-eyed period, when even your beloved's flaws — the 



unpredictable drinking, the occasional forays into roots rock — seem charm- 
ing. Then, after a while, you start to question whether the two of you are a 
good fit, and decide to break it off. Finally, after a trial separation rife with 
ambivalence, you reunite, wise to the fact that no relationship will ever be 
perfect. "Billy Corgan may descend into full-on chuckletardedness from time 
to time," you'll think, "but I still have Siamese Dream." 

My problem is that I often get stuck in the young-and-stupid phase, expecting 
that every artist will remain forever awesome, and going into denial when they 

inevitably start to whiff. This is mostly 
■ m ^ m m because I don't want to reexamine past 

mistakes — if I was wrong aboutaband 
I loved back then, how am I supposed 
to trust my instincts now? In ten years, 
will I look back at all my circa-2007 
ftflf'i M passions with regret'' 

I hope not: Age and irritability have 
made me wiser, and I've learned to 
take a somewhat more generous view 
of an artist's time line, treating duds 
not as deal-breakers, but as ugly, nec- 
essary burps in the creative tenure.* 
Neil Young fans, for example, have 
come to expect two or three Trans-style 
gaffes for every Ragged Glory, and the 
careers of Elvis Costello, Radiohead, 
Frank Black, Spike Lee, and Richard 
Linklater have all been marked with 
similar trajectories. Much of the 
time, artists seem to learn from those 
missteps, even if it takes awhile for 
the lessons to become clear: Prince 
followed up an entire decade of nones- 
sential releases with Planet Earth, his 
catchiest album in years. Maybe he 
needed some time to fully explore his 
wankier tendencies. Or maybe he just 
got as sick of free-form sax solos as the 
rest of us. 

That said, there are still moments, 
especially after that first listen or 
viewing, when we can lose ourselves 
trying to defend that which confounds 
us, hoping our minds can be changed; 
being a fan means maintaining at 
least a little of the illogical optimism 
that got you into this mess in the first 
place. (Even those beaten-down R.E.M. fans still get all worked up when 
a new song leaks, praying it can blot out the recent past.) I'm too far gone 
to do that with the newly protracted The Song Remains the Same — I know 
that spending $45 on a movie that's caused me so much distress and 
self-doubt will yield nothing but more frustration. But that doesn't mean 
I'm beyond keeping it at the bottom of my Netflix queue, waiting for an 
open Friday night. & 

* That's not to say that my gusto won't still occasionally get the best of me, resulting in some iffy endorse- 
ments. So my apologies to anyone who purchased Fountains of Wayne's Traffic and Weather based on my 
three -star review in this magazine earlier this year. It's worthy of two and a half stars, tops. 




140 DECEMBER 2007 WWW.5PIN.COM 



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