March 17, 2014


Photo from Callie Richmond’s iPhone.

South By Southwest 2014 was an historic marketing orgy, buried in tragedy, spurned by critics Monday in respective postmortems (generally plenty tolerant of branding if it means unique opportunity sets). We all left with a sour taste. Friday afternoon I’m writing up a showcase and Twitter has news that a third victim in critical condition from Wednesday night’s tragedy is on his way out—the Spin party felt especially pointless.

Anyway, this is what I wrote for the Austin American-Statesman during the week. More impressive: I did it all on my white iPhone 5S.

10 punk bands to check out at SX
SXSW Music: Tuesday critics’ picks
Sleepy, but comfortable wait in line for Kanye West and Jay Z tickets
SXSW Music: Wednesday critics’ picks
SXSW scene report: Def Jam anniversary party
Six bands that already broke out at SXSW
SXSW Music: Thursday critics’ picks
NPR Showcase: Perfect Pussy plays palatable punk
Kanye West, Jay Z defend the throne at Austin Music Hall
Interview: Soundgarden
SXSW Music: Friday critics’ picks
Scene report: Tinashe at the Hype Hotel Thursday night
SXSW Music: Saturday critics’ picks
Scene report: Soundgarden on a roof
Scene report: Spin day party
White Denim and Turkish wraps
The Toadies are rock gods: Deal with it, America
The Orwells rock out SXSW with heavy, satisfying set

January 15, 2014

"B.O.B." was named song of the decade by Pitchfork a few years ago and to date this is my favorite bit of writing the music criticism site has published.

So you’ve spent the past five days clicking through pages of this countdown only to find out that the best single of the 2000s was released just 10 months into the decade. (To the ensuing nine or so years of music: thanks for showing up.) And that it’s the very same song that topped Pitchfork’s Best Songs of 2000-2004 list from five years ago. Now you know how your parents feel when they tune into a long-weekend classic-rock radio countdown for the inevitable valedictory spin of “Stairway to Heaven”.

But really, do we have any other choice? “B.O.B.” is not just the song of the decade— it is the decade. Appropriately, the contemporary hip-hop act most in tune with the Afro-Futurist philosophies of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and Afrika Bambaataa, wound up effectively crafting a fast-forwarded highlight-reel prophecy of what the next 10 years held in store. The title— aka “Bombs Over Baghdad”, a phrase that sounded oddly anachronistic in 2000, sadly ubiquitous two and a half years later— is only the start of it. In “B.O.B“‘s booty-bass blitzkrieg, we hear an obliteration of the boundaries separating hip-hop, metal, and electro, setting the stage for a decade of dance/rock crossovers. We hear a bloodthirsty gospel choir inaugurating a presidential administration of warmongering evangelicals. We hear André 3000 and Big Boi fire off a synapse-bursting stream of ripped-from-the-headlines buzzwords (“Cure for cancer/ Cure for AIDS”), personal anecdotes (“Got a son on the way by the name of Bamboo”) and product placements (“Yo quiero Taco Bell”) that read like the world’s first Twitter feed. We hear four minutes of utter fucking chaos yielding to a joyously optimistic denouement (a point reinforced by the Stankonia cover’s re-imagination of the American flag, which anticipates a White House set to be painted black).

Of course, there is a downside of being ahead of your time— upon its release, “B.O.B.” didn’t even dent the Billboard Hot 100, and merely peaked at No. 69 on the Hip-Hop/R&B Chart. But unlike OutKast’s subsequent number one singles (“Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya”) “B.O.B.” is too disorienting and exhausting an experience to ever succumb to over-saturation, and its majesty has never been diminished by ironic cover versions from cred-hungry rock bands. Because even after a decade that’s seen the act of copying music become as easy as a mouse-click, and the process of performing simplified for toy video-game guitars, the future-shocked ferocity “B.O.B.” is something that just cannot be duplicated. —Stuart Berman

November 18, 2013

This is I wrote during Fun Fun Fun Fest for the Austin American-Statesman.

Sunday scene report

King Khan
Twin Shadow
Craig Robinson
Jenny Slate
Tenacious D
#FFF8 playlist
Interview: Travis Morrison of Dismemberment Plan

October 29, 2013

Chamillionaire featuring Kanye West, Stat Quo — “Call Some Hoes”
Mixtape Messiah, 2004 

October 22, 2013


Young Thug f/ Jose Guapo & Peewee Longway - “Sitten On It" (Internet, 2013)

Only rapper alive.

October 19, 2013

Squadda B is a really great cloud rap producer.

Filed under: SoundCloud clammyclams 
October 19, 2013

Pity Sex — “Wind Up”
Feast of Love
Run For Cover Records 

October 19, 2013

Ovlov — “Grapes”

October 19, 2013


October 19, 2013

CFCF — “Beyond Light”
Paper Bag Records 

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