Blog Posts by David Marchese

  • Confessions Of A Coldplay Convert

    Move in certain circles and you're bound to hear plenty of griping about arena rock shows. Move in my circle and you may have even heard it from me. The stage is too far away, the tickets are too expensive, the beer only comes in little plastic cups. Up until a week ago, I'd pretty much sworn off large-scale concerts. But I've had a change of heart. Actually, I've had two.

    The thing that changed my mind about massive shows was itself something I'd been ambivalent about: Coldplay. SPIN's current coverboys had a handful of songs I dug--"Yellow," "Clocks," "Fix You"--but I was basically simpatico with people who saw the band as Radiohead lite. Then I saw Chris Martin and Co. play last Monday at Madison Square Garden in New York. That's when I realized that what I'd thought were the band's weaknesses were actually its strengths. Neon choruses, lyrics you don't need a Ph.D. to parse, Chris Martin's crooning. These things get better the bigger they are. What might come across as obvious or

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  • No Surprises–What Music And The Mona Lisa Have In Common

    Despite the grumblings of record execs and audiophiles, it's pretty much inarguable that the digital revolution has been good for music fans. More people have more access to more music. 'Nuff said. But something happened recently that made me briefly pine for the pre-digital era. No, I didn't find a rare acetate of the first Velvet Underground album. Instead, I had the rare experience of being surprised.

    In the course of looking for some information about the gorgeous new Vetiver album, Thing Of The Past, a gently hushed and sweetly rambling collection of obscure covers, I stumbled across a website offering a mix of frontman Andy Cabic's favorite songs; 27 songs by 27 different artists. I knew maybe five names, but the majority were mysteries. (Great Speckled Bird? Andrew More? Terry Allen?) Normally, this is when I go on a Googling rampage. But then I realized I was facing a golden opportunity.

    Ever since songs jumped from our stereos to our hard drives, it's become easier than ever

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  • The Weezy Way

    For a long time now, Lil Wayne's laid credible claim to the title of "best rapper alive." Last week, when Tha Carter III (Cash Money/Universal) moved 423,000 units on the day it hit retail, the New Orleans MC showed he might be the most popular too. With first week sales hovering around a million, Wayne doubled the first week sales for Jay-Z's last release (American Gangster) and put himself in Kanye territory. Get ready for the summer of Weezy.

    But Wayne's success has implications beyond himself. The biggest music story over the last year is undoubtedly the way artists are responding to the changes (read: failings) of major labels. Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have opted out, choosing to release their music independently. Madonna and Jay-Z recently struck so-called 360 deals with concert promotion company Live Nation. Simply put, a lot of artists don't think major labels are that great at selling music anymore. So how do we explain Wayne's success? It's simple, he hedged his bets.


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  • Over The Covers

    It's almost impossible to imagine someone writing a sadder breakup song than Joni Mitchell's "Blue."  So on her upcoming (almost) all covers album Jukebox, Cat Power's eternally broken-hearted Chan Marshall didn't even try. Featuring Marshall's sad-eyed saunter through Mitchell's classic as well as her take on songs by Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, and James Brown, Jukebox is a sweet, sad, and resolutely unsmirking success. It's also an anachronism. Sometime around the turn of the century, covers came to exist more as vehicles for YouTube-pandering irony (e.g., last year's Alanis Morrissette "My Humps," or Mandy Moore's "Umbrella") than as opportunities to air out good songs.  Marshall's beautifully earnest renditions recall when bands covered songs largely because--wait for it--they liked them. Indie touchstones Dinosaur Jr. and the Minutemen rocked the Cure, Peter Frampton, CCR, and Steely Dan; the Clash exploded their reggae and rockabilly favorites; David Bowie, John Lennon, and the

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  • Hazy Shades

    As I wrote this, the winter's first snowfall began to sprinkle the streets of New York. This event has serious implications: My shoes will soon develop unsightly salt stains, my landlord will finally turn on the heat, and, most important, my listening habits are about to undergo a major shakeup. Goodbye springy rhythms and sprightly melodies; hello bleak beats and dour introspection. Just a week ago, I was deep in the clutches of Vampire Weekend's Afropop-meets-indie-rock--but sub-Saharan rhythms don't sit quite right when I can't feel my toes. So having traded in jangling guitars for chattering teeth, the following albums are sure to hit just the right notes of snow-driven solitude.

    Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago: The fact that the name of Wisconsin songwriter Justin Vernon's new project comes from the French words for "good winter" (bon hiver) makes For Emma a seasonally appropriate choice; the spare folk-soul tunes make it a perfect one. Over the course of nine songs, Vernon's

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