Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

Clef Notes: The “Sweet Child O’ Mine” 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.


Like A Phoenix, He Rises From The Ashes: There was a moment this week when I could’ve sworn it was 1991: the Yankees were in last place, I was watching MTV (more on that later), and Axl Rose was constantly in the news. Of course, that notion was quickly dismissed as I walked past a mirror to pick up my ringing beep- I mean, cell phone- but it was fun while it lasted. Eventually, life returned to normal, the Yankees started winning (thanks Bmore), I stopped watching Viacom’s former video channel (there's only so much one can take), but somehow (much to his pleasure, I bet), Axl remained in the news.

There are two stories keeping Axl trending. Let's start with the juiciest one:

Let it be known that I have already copyrighted the terms Axlana, and Lana Del Rose.

Axl Rose is dating Lana Del Rey (allegedly): This one had been out there for a while, but it was little more than a whispered rumor about a month ago. Then the two began to be spotted together all over Los Angeles, and the whispers grew louder. This week the world finally got its "confirmation" as Del Rey attended two consecutive G N’R shows, before having her walk of shame immortalized by the paparazzi as she was leaving Axl’s suite at the Chateau Marmont. Now I'm sure some of you are thinking: So what, celebrities date each other all the time? While I can’t argue with that statement, I don’t think it covers just how special this particular union is. Axl Rose (50) was one of the most controversial and polarizing figures of his day, and the same can be said about Del Rey (25!!!), who is this decade's pop lightning-rod. Maybe that isn’t enough for you to understand how insane this is. After all, younger women date older men all the time, and the two of them surely have a lot in common, which probably helps them relate to each other, but allow me to lay this fun fact on you... before she was the laughingstock of mean spirited bloggers on the Internet, Lana Del Rey wrote and recorded a song called Axl Rose Husband! That’s right, when Lizzie Grant was still deciding on the correct spelling of "Del Rey" she was writing songs that fantasized about the half-banshee she is currently dating. If you want to try to voice the opinion that people write songs about the rock stars they will one day date all the time, then you would be right... Of course those people are Courtney Love, but you're still right.

Never going to happen.

Axl won't attend the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony: This weekend, Green Day will be inducting Guns N’ Roses in to Cleveland’s RN’R HOF, and ever since the nominations were announced people have been wondering if the original Guns lineup would reunite to accept the honor and maybe even play some tunes off Appetite. Those people obviously don’t know Axl Rose. It took Indiana’s favorite son (take that, John Mellencamp!) a while to decide whether or not he'd be attending the ceremony, and this week his decision came in the form of a 1,038 word letter which was sent to the Los Angeles Times. The letter is a bit jumbled and all over the place, but it essentially lets us know that Axl: A) Continues to have issues with every former G N' R member not named Duff or Izzy,  B) Is as paranoid as ever, C) Tends to slip into the third person, and, most importantly D) Won't be attending the festivities, and requested he not be inducted! Axl’s correspondence caused quite a stir this week, and eventually led to a short statement from the HOF which states that Axl will be inducted whether he likes it or not.

All of this Axl-related noise brings a smile to my face because, honestly, the music world was boring while he was hiding in his mansion for a decade making Chinese Democracy. Now he is as relevant as ever (the man is dating Lana Del Rey, for God’s sake!), and I hope he stays this way.

This man killed one of my dreams last week, but I still adore him.

Say it Isn't So!: In a totally gutting interview with the Guardian which posted last Friday, Damon Albarn made me EXTREMELY DEPRESSED by revealing that both Blur and Gorillaz have come to their end. There are different reasons for each split, but reasons often don’t matter as much as results. In the case of Blur, Albarn feels that he simply could not make new music with bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree, though he was a bit more brusque about it than I: “(Guitarist, Graham Coxon)’s a daily musician. With the other two, it's harder for them to reconnect. You know what I mean? It's fine when we play live – it's really magical still – but actually recording new stuff, and swapping musical influences… it's quite difficult." I can’t believe he referred to his friends and one-time band mates as “the other two”! The news of Blur’s end comes as quite a shock to fans, seeing as how a new Albarn/Coxon composition recently made its way into the ether, and the band still has an immensely high-profile gig closing Britain’s upcoming Summer Olympics in their future. Thus, I will probably never get a chance to see Blur live... but enough about me, you kids care more about Gorillaz anyway.

According to Albarn, the reasons for the Gorillaz split are much more juvenile. Albarn claims it’s a long story, but it's essentially a case of creative differences and resentments which led to a falling out between the project's artist, Jamie Hewlett, and himself (it should be noted the duo were the best of friends, and even lived together at one point). “It was one of those things," Albarn said. "The music and the videos weren't working as well together”. Albarn did leave the door open for the possibility that the two principals involved could get over their issues, but in the end he didn’t seem optimistic.

So, I suppose Albarn fans will have to be satisfied with his upcoming Doctor Dee opera,  his super-group Rocket Juice And The Moon, and whatever new music is inspired by his numerous trips to Mali, until he dreams up his new, brilliant band.


Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded - Nicki Minaj

Roman Reloaded comes out of the gate swinging for the fences (how’s that for a mixed sports metaphor?), as the album's first seven tracks sound like they come from an artist whose sole intent is conquering the world - and for the most part, they build up a decent amount of momentum, momentum that is completely disrupted by the eleven (ELEVEN!!!) tracks which follow... [Full Review]

16th Notes:

Tell PETA I killed five leopards to make this hoodie!

My Canadian main-squeeze (some of you may know him as Drake) debuted his Bar Mitzvah recreation video (HYFR) and failed to disappoint me once again. Check it out for yourself, but I must warn you-you may convert to Judaism... James Murphy recently made an appearance at London’s legendary Boiler Room and treated the dancing masses to a 50 minute DJ set. Um, I miss LCD Soundsystem... The Weeknd have announced their first set of non-Canadian tour dates. This is a tour where bringing a condom to the venue will be mandatory... Kevin Shields made some statements to Pitchfork about the possibility of a new My Bloody Valentine record that drove me insane. Read them for yourself and try to make sense of them... Tommy Lee got a new dog recently, and that experience has turned him into a bleeding-heart, unofficial spokesperson for the ASPCA. You can check out a picture of Lee and his dog here, along with some of his passionate thoughts about why you should get a dog from a shelter, instead of a pet store... Charlie Watts has announced a four night residency at New York’s Iridium jazz club. Those will be four of the most tasteful nights this city will ever see, too bad no one under 50 will be in attendance (if you didn’t get it, that joke was a negative comment on young people, NOT Watts)... Jack White bemoaned the loss of The White Stripes in his latest New York Times Magazine profile, claiming that the break-up of the band was Meg’s decision. I am surprised Jack White has the time to bemoan anything these days, seeing as how the man is busier than the Devil himself (though still not as busy as Damon Albarn)... The music industry’s obsession with Broadway continues, as David Byrne and Fatboy Slim’s Imelda Marcos musical, Here Lies Love, is in the works and slated for a 2013 release. I don't know about you, but I can’t wait to hear all those songs about shoes... Kanye West made a guest appearance during 2 Chainz’ stop at BET’s 106 and Park this week. Yeezy took this opportunity to cement his status as the world’s only black Unicorn as he just stood there, not saying a single word, and in doing so, completely captivated everyone...

Top Ten List:

A great number of the indie-kids you know will spend tomorrow in hushed reverence. Some will shave their heads into asymmetrical cuts, some will make pilgrimages to Houston, Texas, but I'm assuming most will gather in Montreal. All of these souls will be united in the celebration of a truly momentous event, the birth of Win Butler.

All kidding aside, Butler, and the other six hundred people in Arcade Fire, have blessed the world with some of the best music of this millenium. The band’s sound is grand, elaborate, and exceptional, and Butler is its central figure and creative force. Here are the ten best songs he has written in his brief, but stellar, career.

10) Rococo
9) Sprawl II
8) Antichrist Television Blues
7) Keep The Car Running
6) Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
5) Wake Up
4) Ready To Start
3) Intervention
2) Lies
1) Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)

Clip Of The Week:

I’ve had a complicated relationship with Tyler, The Creator, over the years. On the one hand I admire his ambition, accomplishments, and even his skills on the mic. On the other hand, I often find myself disappointed and disgusted by the messages he delivers and co-signs to the generation which happens to be in his thrall. Most of my exposure to Tyler has been in the form of his music and his interviews, and they left me with a muddled opinion about the young man... then I watched last week’s episode of Punk’d and I found myself kind of liking him.

I’m not sure why I was watching MTV (it certainly wasn’t to catch Paul D’s Jersey Shore spinoff), but when I saw that Tyler was going to be on Punk’d I felt compelled to see how the svengali would react to whatever absurd prank Bam Margera involved him in. As I watched the bit (no spoilers here) something truly surprising happened; I actually found myself warming to Tyler. His reaction to his Punking was really quite amusing and the genuine concern that he showed for what he thought was someone who was badly injured was eye opening. I guess it just goes to show that there truly is more to all of us- enjoy the show!


Track Of The Week:

Chew - Yuck: A noticeable amount of time has passed since we last heard from Britain's best new indie band and ardent guitar-revivalists Yuck. Since their debut dropped last year these kids have been busy winning awards, touring the hell out of their record, and making believers out practically anyone who gives their fuzz-drenched tunes a shot. Well, 2012 has gotten its first taste of new Yuck as the song Chew appeared on their Soundcloud account this week, and subsequently made my insides warm. Give it a shot for yourself and add some awesome to your Friday.

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