Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

Clef Notes: The “Filthy Demon” 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

News:

Oh and this picture made Twitter go nuts this week.

It has been quite awhile: Because I was out of the country for most of May, I was unaware that a number of Lady Gaga concerts in Asia were plagued by Christian and Islamic protesters. I suppose Europe was too busy worrying about soccer, or the Eurozone crisis to bother to inform me about this “news.” The reason I bring it up is when I read about a similar rash of protests threatening to break out at Gaga’s recently announced South African shows, every story I read assumed I knew about the aforementioned Asian circumstances. Nevertheless, this protest story is only one of the things going on in Gaga’s world these days, so I figured I should check in on everyone's favorite.... um... gay Elvis? Momma Monster? I dunno, it’s not important.

Let's start with the protests, shall we? An organization which calls itself Christians Against Lady Gaga & Beyonce’s SA Tour (it should be pointed out that as of this posting, Beyonce hasn’t scheduled any shows in South Africa) has committed their time and energy to preventing Lady Gaga (or “filthy demon,” as they prefer to call her) from performing within their country. The CALG&BST’s issue with Gaga is the age-old "corruption of youth" nonsense that people have been throwing around since Socrates’ day. It was an idiotic belief in the BC, and it’s idiotic today. Other than the protest (which I’m sure will be lively), the group began a four-day “prayer avalanche” yesterday (sounds pretty serious) and will get together on July 7th in order to plan further strategies. These guys really need to get together with the WBC for a crazy Christian crossover!

In other Gaga news, the singer let the world know, via Twitter, that she'd completed her third album earlier this month. According to the tweet, she's already played it for her label and plans to reveal the record’s name in September. This all points to a 2012 holiday release, which means you already know what you’re getting all of your nutty Christian friends this Christmas!

Behold the ridiculous piano-motorcycle!

Although the new record itself isn’t out yet, Gaga may have already debuted one of its B-Sides during a recent concert in Melbourne. During Wednesday night's performance (at least it was Wednesday night in America, the whole International Dateline thing confuses me), Gaga sat at her piano-motorcycle and treated her Australian fans to Princess Die (I know, I know, just go with it), a somber ballad which Gaga isn't confident will make the final tracklist of her next record because it doesn't reflect the energy of the rest of the album. The song itself is fine, and actually makes me believe that Stefanie Germanotta could have had a career as a sad-girl-at-a-piano type.

Lastly, Lady Gaga, in a letter to the Village Voice, has been accused of "bullying" by a family who owns a cosmetics company, which also happens to be in possession of 12 year old federal trademark for their brand Gaga Pure Platinum. The existence of this trademark has prevented Gaga from registering her own name as a brand, and thus kept her from making even more money than can be imagined. There’s a he said/she said factor to all of this as Gaga’s people replied to the letter claiming the trademark in question hasn’t been used in years and that Gaga has reached out to the company numerous times in order to find a way to “amicably coexist.” The cosmetics company fired back, claiming no one from Gaga’s camp has ever tried to contact their company and the brand is still in production today. This will all get settled in court sooner or later, and I’m sure it will end with Lady Gaga writing a big check.

So there you have it kids, more Lady Gaga news than you could've wanted. I hope that some of you tore yourselves away from your prayer avalanches long enough to read it.

Reviews:

Bloom - Beach House

Bloom represents the highest point of sonic achievement that Beach House has reached thus far. This record is so much lusher than anything the band has previously released and sounds like a fully realized outfit reaching the peak of its powers. All of the frequencies are filled in on Bloom in a way that Beach House had never been able to accomplish, which speaks to a new-found confidence both as songwriters and in the studio. I really get the impression that Beach House is now capable of recreating the music they hear inside their heads, which is what every musician strives for, and this mastery is what sets Bloom apart from everything else in their catalog and, in my opinion, has Beach House poised to cross-over... [Full Review]

Celebration Rock - Japandroids

Nearly each song on Celebration Rock sounds like the band is pleading with and urging on its listener. Brian King wants you to run away with him in much the same way Springsteen did. He wants you to not give up hope with the desperation of a dear friend. He wants you to live - and enjoy living - no matter how you want to do it. If I was a seventeen year old kid in the modern world, I would listen to this record everyday as I drove through my hometown and fantasized about leaving forever... [Full Review]

16th Notes:

I'm not calling him an arsonist, but I'm also not not calling him an arsonist.

MUSE wrote a new song for the upcoming London Olympic Games. You can listen to it here, but if it was any good it would have been Track Of The Week (consider that a warning)... Aerosmith pushed back the release date of Music From Another Dimension, their first new album in eleven years, to November 8th. I hope that solved the mystery of your dad’s recent depression... Rihanna (along with 300 non-famous people) was evacuated from a London hotel when a fire started in an elevator shaft. The London Fire Brigade reported no injuries, but in what is surely an unrelated turn of events Scotland Yard is inquiring into what Chris Brown was doing Wednesday morning (kidding!)... In actual Chris Brown news, a boxing promoter and a billionaire bottling heir have offered both Brown and his now-sworn enemy (I’m assuming) Drake a million dollars apiece (as well as another million for charity) to settle their beef like men, in the squared circle. If I was either of these two I would wait for Dana White to offer up a trip to the octagon... Earlier this week, The Spice Girls got together for the opening night of the musical based on their 90s hits. I bet that is one absurdly short musical... Blur will debut two new songs (also written for the Olympic Games: consider that a warning) on their Twitter July 2nd. I wish I could be more excited about this, but for all we know Damon Albarn will change his mind next week and trash both the tracks... A live recording of a new Joanna Newsom song appeared on someone’s Tumblr this week. You should check it out and then reblog it, or whatever it is you kids do on Tumblr... Justice have announced some tour dates, and details about a new EP. Get tickets now kids or you will be sorry... There is a new, new trailer for the LCD Soundsystem documentary Shut Up And Play The Hits. I wish this movie would just get a proper release and stop teasing me... Luckily for all of us, Elvis’ original crypt was NOT auctioned off this week. The reason we are lucky can be summed up in two words: Elvis mummy...

Top Twenty List:

In order to finally put any confusion to rest, I would like to set the record straight: Sufjan Stevens is NOT related to Cat Stevens in any way. No matter how “similar” their voices are, what their particular folk leanings may be, or how absent-mindedly racist your subconscious is being, Sufjan Stevens is an American singer-songwriter/composer-musician, and has nothing to do with the guy who wrote Moonshadow.

Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I would like to celebrate the life of Sufjan Stevens, a Michiganite who now lives in my neighborhood (true story), and writes tremendously beautiful music. Stevens has been on the scene since the dawn of the century, and has consistently put out quality records as his sound and ambitions have broadened and evolved. Sufjan Stevens turns 37 on Sunday, and these are his twenty best songs.

20) Put The Lights On The Tree
19) The Dress Looks Nice On You
18) For The Widows In Paradise, For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti
17) I Walked
16) The Avalanche
15) Heirloom
14) You Are The Blood
13) John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
12) Flint (For The Unemployed and Underpaid)
11) Romulus
10) Vesuvius
9) Decatur, or, Round of Apples for You Stepmother
8) Jacksonville
7) The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts
6) Chicago
5) Joy! Joy! Joy!
4) To Be Alone With You
3) The Transfiguration
2) Casimir Pulaski Day
1) Come On Feel The Illinoise! (Part I: The World’s Columbian Exposition - Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream)

Clips Of The Week:

John Ruskin wasn’t born "Nardwuar the Human Serviette" but after a legal name change in 1986, that’s what he goes by today. Because readers of Culture Blues are among the hippest people on the planet, I’m sure most of you already know who Nardwuar is, and what his “schtick” is like, but allow me to briefly catch up our unenlightened friends.

Known as a guerrilla-journalist and celebrity interviewer (he’s also a musician), Nardwuar has been stalking, ambushing, and confusing some of the world’s most famous people since the mid-eighties. With his bizarre fashion sense, plentiful gifts, and  unique - which some would consider annoying - interview style, Nardwuar has become a bit of celebrity in his own right. Nardwuar’s managed to interview, and in rare cases befriend, some of the biggest names in music, movies, and even politics. Oh, and he’s also Canadian and super proud of it, which I can get behind because I still love Canada.

I spent an awful lot of time checking out Nardwuar interviews this week, and here are some of my favorites. Feel free to check out his Youtube channel though, you’d be surprised by some of the clips on there.

Track Of The Week:

Baby - Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: I’ll be playing “Track Of The Week catch up” for a while, because I missed more than a few great songs during my hiatus, like the latest Ariel Pink single. It should be noted that Baby is actually a cover of a Donnie and Joe Emerson song released back in 1979, and Ariel Pink’s version is pretty true to the original. That being said, this cut is a wonderfully chill tune perfect for summer nights, and some inappropriate time with your significant other which I would rather not even think about. Baby is the first taste of Mature Themes, Ariel Pink’s eagerly anticipated follow up to 2010’s excellent Before Today, which is due to hit the streets August 20th. Those of you with record players (which I'm assuming is most of you), won’t have to wait that long to get your hands on a physical copy of this single though because a limited edition 12” will be released on July 9th.

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