From everything we've heard, seen, or read over the past few days, the first weekend of Coachella apparently went off quite fantastically (unless you happened to be in Outkast). And if you're weren't able to be at the polo grounds in Indio, well...that certainly is a bummer.
The good news is that there's still the second weekend at Coachella coming up, if you happen to have the means to attend, however. If you don't, we've got plenty of coverage on tap. Plus, there's the fact that several high-profile bands and acts will be performing here in Phoenix in the days ahead, including several of the artist on our list of top concerts to see this week.
Don't hate Lana Del Rey because she's beautiful. The American singer formerly known as Lizzy Grant may seem to have it all -- she has drop-dead good looks, appeared on Saturday Night Live, is a heartthrob for indie boys everywhere, and released a lavishly lush breakthrough major-label album, Born to Die -- but it's as if the fates want to punish her for all of her recent fortune.
The album's title reveals that there's a lot more going on with Del Rey than simple, escapist mainstream pop, and a river of sadness runs inexorably through tragic-romantic tunes like "Video Games" and "Blue Jeans." The Lake Placid, New York, native exudes plenty of natural star power, but haters like Juliette Lewis (of all people) have dissed Del Rey for not commanding the stage with enough authority in her live appearances. We suspect they'll be eating their words, and eating from her hands, long before her career is over. -- Falling James
More than just a band whose vinyl is sold en masse at Urban Outfitters, Foster the People should have stayed on the collective radar for having released one of the best pop records of the past 10 years. Torches, the L.A.-based band's 2011 release, did ride high on the commercial success of "Pumped Up Kicks," a song title that still causes people to either whistle that earworm of a hook or cringe in remembrance of its overplaying, but the record rode on so much more than just that single.
Torches, the singles it generated included, proved to be a nuanced work and a massive vehicle for Mark Foster's hooks. His past as a jingle writer shows in spades as virtually every song on the record has a hummable element to it, built around layered pop structures. As a whole, it was critically acclaimed, landing Grammy nominations and legendary endorsements like Elton John. -- KC Libman
Though they existed more than 20 years apart, the Modern Lovers share a similar career trajectory with Neutral Milk Hotel, which visits Crescent for two sold-out shows (a portion of the proceeds will benefit the charity Children of the Blue Sky). NMH's tour set lists contain selections from the band's legendary 1998 album, In an Aeroplane Over the Sea. Much like the Modern Lovers' 1976 self-titled debut album, Aeroplane was met with neither acclaim nor large sales. Neutral Milk Hotel's hectic 1998 touring schedule to promote the album, a lo-fi psychedelic take on the story of Anne Frank, took its toll on the band's leader, Jeff Mangum, and it went on indefinite hiatus.
In the ensuing two decades, Mangum would show up infrequently to play with other musicians, including Elf Power (which is joining NMH on its reunion tour). Aeroplane's popularity (the 2008 reissue was the top-selling vinyl album that year) grew as musicians cited it as an influence. The Decemberists, with their unique cover art and dream-like tales of butchers and crane wives, are an obvious example. Franz Ferdinand's Bob Hardy once said, "When I first started driving, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was the only cassette I had in my Ford Fiesta for two years. It is amazing. Friendships can be gauged on the mutual love of Neutral Milk Hotel." -- Jason Keil
What exactly does throat singing sound like? Think of a swarming mass of Africanized bees buzzing inside a long narrow pipe, a deep baritone rumble ebbing and flowing in relation to the opening. That's kinda close. The singing -- technically the sound's created by the singer singing both the note (drone) and the drone's overtone(s), producing up to several notes at once -- also can sound like a flute, bird, horse, or whistle, though the bee-like hum is most famously recognizable.
Hailing from Tuva, a tiny Russian Federation republic on the Mongolian border, Huun-Huur-Tu formed in 1992, though the tradition of throat singing dates back hundreds of years, initially developed by nomadic herders who sang to accompany themselves in the beautiful and mysterious landscape of the Tuvan steppe. And it is from that inspiring phenomenon of vertical light rays shining down from the late-day or early-morning clouds across an endless horizon -- stunning, like this hauntingly exquisite music -- that Huun-Huur-Tu takes its name. Indigenous instruments such as the cello-like igil, khomus (Tuvan jaw harp), dünggür (shaman drum), three-stringed doshpuluur, and others, eventually were added as musical accents to what initially was a vocal-only affair for herders. More recently Western instruments -- even electronics -- have found a place within this traditional folk music. -- Glenn BurnSilver
Lorde knew exactly what she was doing when she named her debut album Pure Heroine, the sort of pun that conflates Katniss Everdeen (the movie version) at her most plucky with Kate Moss at her most chic and maybe Courtney Love at her most shameless. The precocious Kiwi chanteuse has cultivated her image to simultaneously exhibit the three stages of White Girl Disaffection: warm-hearted rebellion, open-eyed ennui, and cloying attention seeking.
That she backs this up with excellent lyrics, vocals, and productions that owe more to trap music than they do to teen-pop, alternative, or Celebrity Skin glam is a rousing example that postmodernity, despite its supposed rejection of Grand Narratives for fragmented cultural cliffhangers, still has some really amazing stories to tell. Lorde is definitely savvier than her years. -- Winston Groman
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