Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

Clef Notes: The “Nothing’s Shocking” Edition

Every Friday, or at least until his spectacular rock star flameout, Giovanny will be dropping a week’s worth of music knowledge on you with Clef Notes, proof positive that he’s a one man music magazine.


Look at your hero!

Ah, to have been at this show: If you're anything like me, you probably spend a lot of time reading music blogs. If you happened to do such music information foraging this week, then there was only one thing you were allowed to read about, no matter where you turned, and it was the perceived insanity (by some) Bradford Cox (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound) engaged in during a recent show in Minneapolis. It should be noted before I go any further, that people have very different ideas of what insanity is.

For those of you who somehow managed to remain unfamiliar with this story all week, here is a brief glimpse. Last Friday night, the largely enigmatic, and extremely prolific, “punk” (his words) musician gave an audience of about 400 people one of the strangest concert experiences of their lives. First, Cox took the stage with his face covered by what some people described as a “menacing black ski-mask.” After he played a couple of songs from his fantastic recent release, Parallax, someone in the audience heckled Cox, and requested he cover The Knack’s My Sharona. Things then got a bit weird, as Cox fulfilled the heckler’s wish, and performed a noisy, shambolic, and bewildering one hour rendition of the 1979 pop classic. Now, I am well aware that an artist covering a famous song at one of their concerts is hardly newsworthy, but Cox was truly in rare form. At one point during the marathon cover (the details of the night are murky, to say the least) Cox invited the opening act on stage to play with him, and they were surely stoked by the opportunity. Of course, they had no idea they would be playing a Knack song for an eternity. As the song continued, Cox asked everyone in the audience to pick up the chairs they were sitting on and hold them above their heads (carefully); the audience happily obliged, lifted their seats, and danced along to the ridiculousness. Once that was done, the undoubtedly inebriated dude-whom I totally respect-asked the heckler who brought them all into this My Sharona hell to get on stage, then dance and strip for the audience. The heckler took the stage, did some dancing, but kept his clothes on, even after Cox repeated his request numerous times.

By this point, everyone at the venue who wasn’t Cox was overwhelmed by the awkwardness and sheer surreality of the moment, but undeterred, or perhaps uncaring, he persisted. After all, Cox still had some free verse poetry to share, before simulating fellatio on a guy playing a theremin, and finally asking the rest of the audience to join him onstage. It was right about this “asking everyone to join him” bit where Cox realized that this evening had gone off the rails, and he decided to end “the show” giving everyone who witnessed it quite a story to share.

The Knack are the real winners here.

Personally, I think, that everyone is making far too big a deal out of this evening. Cox’s behavior was really not all that strange or aberrant when you compare it to some of the cock-exposing, chest-cutting, animal-decapitating antics that have become Rock N Roll legend through the years. What happened in Minneapolis was nothing more than a wasted (I’m totally assuming, but I think it’s a safe assumption) artist losing control of his id, ego, and super-ego, while giving a heckler a tough time, and entertaining the hell out of some Minnesotans.

As you would imagine, Cox has released some statements (in the form of a phone call to Pitchfork) about his Friday night in Minneapolis, and the coverage it has gotten. Most of his statement comes off as frantic and impassioned ramblings (it's a must read), but deep inside his rant he did give us a quote for the ages that does a great job of minimizing what really happened in Minnesota that night: "It's not like fucking Lana Del Rey carved an upside down cross on her cheek and defecated all over herself on stage at fucking Bonnaroo." When a man's right, he's right!

At least he isn't running for President.

Fuck him: Some of our more politically savvy readers are surely more than aware of the unwarranted and unnecessary personal attack Rush Limbaugh levied against Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke. For those of you who shun news that doesn’t involve a member of Animal Collective, let me catch you up: Limbaugh was absurdly outraged by Fluke’s testimony during the recent Congressional hearings on contraception, wherein she essentially asked Congress for government-funded birth control, and decided to make her the subject of one of his trademark radio rants. So, Limbaugh delivereda blast of vitriolic rhetoric and, in a truly eloquent and educated fashion, called Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute”, all while Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer played in the background.

As you can imagine, Limbaugh’s awful comments have had considerable fall-out; advertisers have pulled out, some stations have dropped him, and women’s groups across America have condemned his insensitive statements, calling for boycotts. Limbaugh has since apologized, claiming that he misspoke, and used the wrong word in his analogy, but no one believes the deaf, hateful, fat bastard’s (excuse me, I misswrote) apology is sincere, or takes it seriously. That’s all small potatoes, though, because Rush made Peter Gabriel mad, and no one makes Peter Gabriel mad.

The real losers here are Rush... oh and women's rights and stuff.

Impossibly most of you are too young to be familiar with the track Sledgehammer, or even know who Peter Gabriel is but, trust me, he was a HUGE star once, and Sledgehammer is his most famous song. Well, when Gabriel learned of the usage it was his turn to get outraged and he did so via a statement from his rep which (in part) read: Peter was appalled to learn that his music was linked to Rush Limbaugh's extraordinary attack on Sandra Fluke. It is obvious from anyone that knows Peter's work that he would never approve such a use. He has asked his representatives to make sure his music is withdrawn and especially from these unfair aggressive and ignorant comments. BURN!!!

It should be noted that Gabriel was just the first to arrive at the 2012 iteration of the Musicians Hating Rush Limbaugh Party, as this week lawyers for the Canadian power-trio Rush issued a cease and desist letter to the producers of the Rush Limbaugh show, demanding their songs stop being used during its broadcast. Annoyingly, Limbaugh may be able to get away with any perceived copyright or improper use violations because radio is covered by “public performance” statutes, which allow any song in the ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC catalogue to be used as long as it is paid for. All that an offended artist (Gabriel, Rush) can do is hope to distance themselves from the abuser (Rush), and try to win the battle in the court of public opinion. Which should be easy, I mean, he is Rush Limbaugh.


Wrecking Ball - Bruce Springsteen

After being pleasantly surprised by the recent David Lee Roth-infused Van Halen comeback album, there was a part of me that was willing to give Wrecking Ball a chance, and I did. Having done so, I can sadly say, you don't have to... [Full Review]

Open Your Heart - The Men

Sometimes a record is so good it doesn’t need pomp, ceremony, or long-winded reviews. Open Your Heart is just such an occasion, kids. You need to get your hands on this record immediately, it may very well change your opinion about this year in music. After all, it did so for me... [Full Review]

16th Notes:


Radiohead have expanded their North American tour dates! I've spent more time considering my future Radiohead plans than my meals, social life, and basically everything else that matters... There is reportedly a musical about the life and legacy of Tupac Shakur in the works. They are actually auditioning now, so if you too are a rose that grew from concrete, this can be your time to shine... John Frusciante is apparently not attending the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremonies, with the rest of the Chilli Peppers this Spring. I kind of have an issue with this. I mean, that band saved his life... If starring in the aforementioned Tupac musical is not quite your thing, then perhaps you would like to audition for Stuart Murdoch’s (Belle and Sebastian) musical film, God Help The Girl. Talk about different ends of the audition spectrum, huh?!... In a perfect example of “there is no such thing as bad publicity,” Coldplay has asked Frank Ocean to open for them on some of their imminent tour dates. That’s right kids, all you need to do to open for Coldplay is take someone else’s song, and write your own lyrics for it... Best Coast has divulged some details regarding their forthcoming follow up to Crazy For You, including its beyond cute album cover. I bet you will be hearing this record all summer long... Fiona Apple has shared the title of her soon-to-be released fourth studio album and its (brace yourself): The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do. The funny thing is, that’s not even her longest album title... Jay-Z has announced that he will be performing at SXSW, and livestreaming the concert to the whole world. Sooner or later we will all just watch concerts from our living room, right?.. There is a new clip of LCD Soundsystem’s Shut Up And Play The Hits floating around out there. Every time I see any footage from that last concert, I feel so lucky... Some idiots in Milwaukee got themselves totally arrested for spray painting the chorus to Tyler, The Creator’s Radical - “Fuck school, burn shit, kill p3opl3” - on a high school wall. I hope the offenders are relentlessly clowned by their friends, but they probably won't be...

Top Ten List:

It would be impossible for me to describe how important Biggie Smalls is to the people, and even the spirit, of Brooklyn. I was in junior high school when Ready To Die dropped, and the impact that it had on youth culture within this city has never been duplicated; not by the neo-garage revival, not by white kids moving to Williamsburg, and not even by trendsetters in Wolves Howling At The Moon t-shirts. Biggie Smalls was a hero, a hope, a light in the black for a generation who didn’t want to wear rope chains or shell-top Adidas. The man was made a saint from the second his message went public, and long before his life was tragically cut short when he was murdered after presenting at the Source Awards fifteen years ago today. Here are the ten best songs by the Notorious BIG.

10) Going Back To Cali
9) Sky’s The Limit
8) Everyday Struggle
7) Warning
6) Who Shot Ya?
5) Gimme The Loot
4) Hypnotize
3) Give Me One More Chance (Remix)
2) Big Poppa
1) Juicy

Clips Of The Week:

You knew there was no chance I could get away without giving you some clips of Bradford Cox's Minnesota show. Enjoy!

Track Of The Week:

Myth - Beach House: You would have to search the blogosphere for some time to find a bigger Beach House fan than me. Teenage Dream was one of my favorite records of 2010 and I, like many of you other beautiful people, have been waiting not-so-patiently for a follow up to grace my ears. Well, thank the stars in heaven, it comes! It will be called Bloom, and it will be out in May. Myth is the first track from Bloom to see the light of day, and it’s EVERYTHING you could ever want from an awesome Beach House song. Waiting for May just got harder.

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