Jack White's Lazaretto Is All Gimmick, No Bite

The cover for Jack White's new album, Lazaretto

The story goes, Mr. Picasso is sitting in a posh Paris café when he is approached by a young woman. She instantly recognizes the famous painter and begs him to draw for her. He snorts, until the lady offers to pay him. So Pablo whips out his pen, doodles something on a napkin and hands it to the girl.

"That'll be $100,000," Picasso says, his trademark smugness smeared across his face.

"$100,000?" The poor girl cries. "But it only took you a few seconds!"

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Foster the People Are Back, and You're Underrating Them

Courtesy of the artist's Facebook page
My first taste of Foster the People was hearing KROQ's Locals Only playing "Pumped Up Kicks" in January 2011. My roommates and I sat in the back of my station wagon, waxing up surfboards and getting ready to paddle at El Porto in Manhattan Beach. I hadn't seen the music video, in which Foster and Co. surf the same exact spot, but it was one of those songs that immediately embodied that sonic California spirit.

Fast-forward three years and we've recently been given the first full taste of Foster the People's sophomore release, Supermodel, with "Coming of Age," a considerably spaced-out pop song from the band.

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Polar Bear Club's Jimmy Stadt: "My Standards Vastly Surpass My Skills"

Change brings both a new outlook and new detractors. Ask Jimmy Stadt, vocalist for upstate New York post-hardcore outfit Polar Bear Club, whose newfound vocal range brings a sheen to Polar Bear Club's tight pop-rock structures that can still open up a pit. On Death Chorus, the band's fourth release since their formation in 2005, Stadt's wonderfully descriptive imagery meets a guitar-forward sound that's nothing short of unadulterated fun, with a few pensive moments sprinkled in for contrast.

While Death Chorus is a rollocking, reflective slice of pop-rock to the untrained ear, Stadt's vocal approach was met with reproach and confusion by diehard fans. He says that his range changed out of the blue, even with a clean bill of health from a otolaryngologist, but despite the change, Stadt's lyricism is stronger than ever. Polar Bear Club has been together for almost ten years, and Death Chorus feels like the culmination of Stadt's experience looking both forward and backward.

"I just like lyricists that are unique and funny and sad, [with] kind of a journalistic approach to themselves," he says. "My standards vastly surpass my skills, so it takes me a while to get the lyrics accurate and right, and then people hear the way it sounds and are like, 'Oh, fuck this.' I'm like, 'No, please read a lyric or two before you get to 'fuck this.''"

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John Mayer May Have Been An Asshole, But That's Over Now

Check the hashtags on Twitter or Tumblr, folks: John Mayer is back. This might make some pop culture enthusiasts' skin crawl, yet for those who remember the glory days of Grammy wins, number-one albums, and the brilliant resurrection of true blues with the John Mayer Trio, a guitar god has yet again arisen. In the past week, Mayer has announced his newest record, Paradise Valley, out August 13, and the album's first single, "Paper Doll." The release of Paradise Valley comes just 15 months after 2012's Born and Raised -- impressive for a man who's been hiding out for the first few years of the 2010s.

Yet like most things that have John Mayer's brand upon them, "Paper Doll" and the LP are going to polarize everyone -- again. Mayer's been at it for 12 years now, and he became tabloid fodder somewhere around the release of 2005's Continuum. While he's been nothing but a polarizing figure, from his musicianship to public profile, it's time to absolve John Mayer of his sins, regardless of any previous asshole-like shortcomings, and reflect on some of the better moments of his career.

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No One Trusts the Tastes of Teenage Girls But Should: Why Justin Bieber Is the Next Beatles

By Brittany Spanos

At what point did teen girls suddenly just become wrong? "Serious" music fans seem to have universally accepted a critique of quality that befalls any artist who willingly sells to the rabid teen girl market and stigmatized the fans who dare to sometimes be male or at least above the age of 18. It's why we only divulge our love for Justin Bieber with a laugh and overdose of self-awareness that lets the world know we don't feel he or the boys in One Direction are legitimate artists.

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Listening to Four Hours of Dubstep While Reading 50 Shades of Grey Was a Terrible Idea

By Mary Carreon

Big news! There's an album called 50 Shades of Dubstep. It's got -- you guessed it -- 50 songs of goddamn dubstep. Amazon says it came out in August, but it just arrived in our mailbox this month. And so, we did what any logical person would do: We listened to all four hours of it.

Except, that wasn't X-treme enough for us. We got to thinking about the erotic novel that "inspired" the album, Fifty Shades of Grey, and wondered whether the two might be related somehow. You know, like what happens when you listen to Dark Side of the Moon and watch The Wizard of Oz at the same time. Surely the bass and somebody's panties will drop simultaneously, right?

So, we did it. We read the book while listening to the album's three discs. Fuck our life!

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Fall Out Boy Returns to "Save Rock and Roll," But Is It Too Late?

Burn, baby, burn, it's a "check out this literal representation of the way we're discarding out past glories" inferno.
For the excitable Generation Y character in all of us 20-somethings: Fall Out Boy has returned. With their 2005 mega-album From Under the Cork Tree, the Chicago-based four-piece put a poetically self-aware spin on the theme of pop-punk. They laced the album with ironic and lengthy song titles, true pop hooks and melodies, and it was with From Under the Cork Tree that Fall Out Boy worked its way into the collective hearts of the after-school MTV crowd by appealing to suburban angst while still being funny and self-deprecating about it.

With 2007's platinum-selling Infinity on High, the overall grandiosity of From Under the Cork Tree was elevated. When you've got Jay-Z calling you into the staccato breakdown of your album's opening track, as he did on Infinity on High's "Thriller," listeners could truly say that Fall Out Boy had hit their stride. Vocalist Patrick Stump utilized his full and impressive vocal range, even leaning toward theatrics on the piano-driven "Golden," and working with R&B producer/singer Babyface on two of the tracks.

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Daniel Johnston's in Love With a Mad, Mad World

Editor's note: Last November Daniel Johnston missed a flight and was forced to reschedule his stop at Crescent Ballroom. But time flies, and this weekend, on Sunday, February 3, he's slated to make up his date with a special performance. We ran this piece from New Times contributor Chris Parker in November, but wanted to share it again for those getting pumped for a performance from the legendary outsider artist. Enjoy.

There's no better illustration of the fine line between brilliance and madness than Daniel Johnston. Indeed, the childlike simplicity and directness of his lyrics suggests the two are inseparable at times. A talented cult fave who spent years and years listening to and dissecting the Beatles, Johnston has a gift for melody that even the rudimentary nature of his early-'80s lo-fi tape recordings can't hide. But it's the vulnerability and honesty of the lyrics that are most striking.

See also:

-Axe Finally Uses a Daniel Johnston Song About Loneliness For a Sexist Commercial
-Way Down in the Hole: Can Daniel Johnston Keep the Devil at Bay Long Enough to be Successful?

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The Who's Greatest Misses: Songs They Reissued Only Once

The classic Who lineup mean-mugs for the camera.
Among all the reigning veteran British rock bands, The Who is the world champ of releasing greatest hits compilations. These days you can buy the studio version of "My Generation" on 12 officially sanctioned best-of-The Who albums and live versions across 10 concert albums.

Yet there are some songs even The Who organization has shown some restraint in reissuing, so maybe another compilation is due. Why should you own so many copies of "My Generation" but only one copy of "Shout and Shimmy," its UK B-side? We've done the work for Universal Music. All they have to do is go in to the vault once again. I'm sure they know the way.

See also:

-Stop Hating on the 2013 Coachella Lineup
-Maynard James Keenan Discusses Donkey Punch the Night
-We Found a 36-Year-Old KDKB Local Compilation -- Here's What We Thought Of It

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Justin Timberlake's "Suit and Tie" Reminds Us Why We've Missed Him So Much

Six years is a long time for a musician to be absent from the field.

Unless you've reach "legendary" status, making a comeback after such a long period of dormancy is nearly impossible. With that said, Justin Timberlake's last album, FutureSex/ LoveSounds, is one of the greatest R&B albums of the last generation. Perhaps the now married, 31-year-old crooner-turned-actor felt that he didn't need to release any new music after putting out such an incredible album.

See also:

-Six Ridonkulous Holy Ship!! Dance Move GIFs
-David Bowie Releases First Song in a Decade-- And It's Great
-Download Frank Ocean's Django Unchained Outtake

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