2012 in albums

  • Green Day in 2000: Down with the Moral Majority/'Cause I want to be the minority
  • Green Day in 2004: Hey everybody do the propaganda/And sing along to the age of paranoia
  • Green Day in 2009: Insurgency will rise/When the blood's been sacrificed/Don't be blinded by the lies in your eyes
  • Green Day in 2012: We live in troubled times/From the ghettos to an empty suburban home
  • Green Day in 2016: What good is peace and love on Earth/When it's exclusive
  • Green Day in still 2016: (By the way we don't like Trump)
  • People: Excuse me? When did Green Day get so POLITICAL?
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Producer Jeff Bhasker faced a daunting task several months ago. After having worked with Kanye West and winning Grammy Awards for producing Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk,” and Fun.’s 2012 album “Some Nights,” he had to decide whether to take on a new project: the debut solo album of One Direction member Harry Styles.

“I’d just had a baby, and I was kind of like, ‘Eh, I don’t know if I’ll jump into this,‘” Bhasker tells Variety. He agreed to have Styles come over to “just talk,” and proceeded to put him through the Bhasker home sniff test. “My dog tends to bite people, and he was kind of scoping Harry out,” Bhasker explains. Styles “did this move — like a little shoot the gun with his finger, and my dog walked over and started licking his finger. That’s when I was, like, ‘This guy has something special.'”

Once music came into the mix, Bhasker was sold. “He started playing references of what he wanted to do, which sounded like a cool rock band. I got it, and could see where if we pulled this off, it would be one of the coolest things ever. But he needed a buddy who plays guitar like he’s Keith Richards.” The insinuation being: Styles is the Mick Jagger in this scenario.

Adds Bhasker: “I’m so proud of the album itself, and also of Harry for being so brave, and committing 100%, and writing the kind of vulnerable lyrics that he wrote, and not pandering to what people thought he would do. People have no idea that this is what Harry Styles is like. Just like I didn’t know. He’s obviously very famous and beloved, but people don’t know the depths of what an amazing personality and artist he is.”

Variety spoke with Bhasker about the recording of “Harry Styles” ahead of the album’s May 12 release: 

Keep reading

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Two posts in one month????? And only three days apart????? Who is this????

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The Velvet Underground and Nico, released 50 years ago tomorrow (there is actually some disagreement on the exact date), is the definitive way-ahead-of-its-time album. With a near-peerless collection of songs — nearly all written by frontman Lou Reed — and an iconic, banana-sticker cover designed by band benefactor Andy Warhol, this jarring and innovative collection was initially a cult success at best, with no hit singles and a “peak” of No. 171 on Billboard’s albums chart in December 1967. But the world eventually caught up with it, and for the past 30 years it’s had perennial placement on best-ever lists, including No. 13 on Rolling Stone’s 2012 “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” tally.

It’s the first album to truly combine a novelist’s gritty realism with equally confrontational rock music, yet it’s also a fount of soft, vulnerable songs like “Femme Fatale” and “I’ll Be Your Mirror” — songs that are all the more poignant because you can sense, somehow, that the sensitive soul who wrote them is also kind of an asshole.

Still, it was initially considered a commercial failure, selling approximately 60,000 copies in its first two years — not bad, but no More of The Monkees. This was due partially to a legally induced (more on that shortly) factory recall that removed the album from shelves just as its Warhol-driven publicity was peaking. But that certainly wasn’t the only challenge to its commercial prospects; the group’s ensuing albums met an even more dismal commercial fate, and a disillusioned Reed left the band in August, 1970. Despite his solo success, The Velvets’ catalog gradually slipped out of print over the next few years.

The Velvets gradually assumed their proper, lofty place in rock history, their oeuvre was reissued in the U.S. in 1984 (although The Velvet Underground and Nico’s cover was a single-sleeve reduction of the original gatefold with a printed banana instead of a sticker). Thus another generation of obsessives was spawned. And on and on.

Yet the most atypical obsession of those five decades may be that of veteran music publicist and longtime Velvets fan Mark Satlof, who collects original pressings of the album. He owns more than 800 of them – he’s actually not sure exactly how many – which are neatly filed on shelves in his study. They account for an estimated 1 percent of all copies manufactured in the U.S. before March 1969.

800 Copies: Meet The World’s Most Obsessive Fan Of ‘The Velvet Underground and Nico’

Photos: Christopher Gregory for NPR

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Coachella

Grimes’ Visions Gets Classical Interpretation for New Concert Series

Composers reworked each song on the album for the upcoming “Many Visions” shows

The songs from Grimes’ 2012 album Visions will receive classical music interpretations by 13 composers during a concert series called “Many Visions: Plumes Deconstructs the Music of Grimes.” The event was conceived by Plumes, a Montreal-based ensemble. Shows will take place across Canada this month. See the itinerary below. There are also plans to record the performances for streaming.

“We wanted to see how we could bridge the gap between popular and classical music—we have a suspicion it’s smaller than people think,” Luke Nickel (co-director of Winnipeg’s Cluster New Music and Integrated Arts Festival) said to MusicWorks. “We want to think about interpretation and rearrangement, not only in terms of musical material but also in terms of the spirit of an artist. That led us to Grimes, whose DIY attitude seems to resonate across genres.”

“The theme of the festival is dismantling, taking something apart and reconstructing it,” Plumes’ Geof Holbrook told MusicWorks. In an interview with NOW Magazine, composer Monica Pearce said, “It’s going to be quite different from the album, which I think will be really exciting.”


“Many Visions: Plumes Deconstructs the Music of Grimes”:

03-10 Montreal, Quebec - Rocket Science Room
03-11 Toronto, Ontario - The Music Gallery
03-12 Hamilton, Ontario - The Casbah
03-13 Windsor, Ontario - University of Windsor
03-15 Guelph, Ontario - University of Guelph
03-16 Kitchener, Ontario - Wilfrid Laurier University
03-17 Winnipeg, Manitoba - Cluster Festival
03-18 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - Village Guitar & Amp Co
03-21 Vancouver, British Columbia - Music on Main

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