Our favorite things this week include reevalations of Dylan and Springsteen, DJ Slink and Mogwai on TV.
A Second Listen: The Internet is great for obsessions - cultivating them, displaying them, sharing them. Over the course of the last month or so, music critic Chris Morris used his tumblr page for a Dylan a Day - re-reviews of Bob’s official output in sequence (with the exception of Christmas in the Heart, which he moved in front of Christmas to make it semi-timely), excluding the Bootleg Series releases. As much as he loves Bob, there's no reflexive piety in his writing. Morris isn’t afraid to jump with Doc Martens on the spine of the weaker releases. “A money gig put together in a lawyer’s office,” he writes of Dylan and The Dead. “The recorded evidence was damning, excruciatingly accurate, and thoroughly unnecessary, and remains so.” The series collectively not only tells the story of the Bob that matters to people - the one we heard - but how those recordings were a part of Morris’ life, from campus DJ in Wisconsin to writer at the L.A. Reader to guy falling into the indulgence hole, taking his life with him, to recovery. That relationship between the listener and the artist represented by his/her music merits further exploration, and Morris does a great job with it here.
Yesterday at Grantland, Steven Hyden sped Morris’ process as he ripped through Bruce Springsteen’s output in one story. The writing isn’t as obviously personal, but he too takes the albums out of their initial release/review cycle and considers how they held up. His writing on the young man who loves Born to Run is wincingly perfect (“he actually chooses to drive when it rains because it is appropriately evocative for his inner emotional geography”), and he argues convincingly that “you really shouldn't be allowed to hear [Tunnel of Love] until you've been married for a few years, though at that point it might strike a little too close to home.”
Hyden’s obsession isn’t in the reevaluation of Bruce’s albums; it’s in his examination of bootlegs, videos, B sides, band members, and so on. At this point, the project reveals itself to be the online version of knowing who wrote and drew runs of comics, or the stats on the back of baseball cards, or the trivia associated with record releases - and it’s endearing every time. (Alex Rawls)
Jersey’s Bounce?: One genre that has received a lot of recent attention is Jersey Club (unaffiliated with the loud, orange, fist pumping TV personalities). Jersey Club originated in Newark nightclubs with local DJ squads like Cartel Crew and Brick Bandits, Jersey Club blends hip-hop, downtempo, R&B and trap, utilizing short sample loops (taken from pop, rap, R&B, TV-show themes, Internet videos), loaded drum machines and a slower tempo for dance music that ranges between 130-140 BPM (trap music typically clocks in between 135-175 BPM). The style borrows heavily from its neighbor, Baltimore Club, but relies more on chopped-up samples and hard kicks to create catchy, repetitive beats that are accompanied by a signature Urkel-like dance.
The genre, which Spin.com calls “the most deliriously entertaining dance-floor movement of the moment,” is far from new, having been developed over the past 12 years. Its stars, however, are quite young. DJ Sliink, one of the most popular Newark producers and leader of the Brick Bandits, is only 22. But the innovators’ youth shouldn’t be confused with naiveté. While Sliink has already made plans to collaborate with Kreayshawn and Chris Brown on future records, his long-term goals are modest, mostly to keep the music in his city by working alongside local rappers to create something authentic. But with other artists like Cashmere Cat and Trippy Turtle diving into genre with more of a focus on downtempo or house over hip-hop, it looks like it’s only a matter of time before it develops a national presence. (Will Halnon)
The Horror: It's not often that I listen to movie or television soundtracks — mainly because I don't usually have the time to see the actual show, so getting around to a soundtrack is rarely a priority. Seeing the music accompanied by a film or TV show always feels more satisfying. But during final exams, I found myself reaching out to a soundtrack for study music: Mogwai's dark but illustrious project for French import Les Revenants, or The Returned as its re-titled on Sundance. I didn't know much about Mogwai going into the series, but its reputation for dark prog rock manifested quickly as the dreary show worked out horrors both cerebral and genuinely terrifying. Les Revenants uses the supernatural to explore the dynamics of broken families, often skirting the answers to the series' big questions in favor of narrative. Mogwai's accompaniment is spot on throughout, with reoccurring motives taking on more symbolism as the season progresses. I haven't felt that captivated by a soundtrack since 2011's neon-tinged Drive. (Brian Sibille)