Sunday March 12 2023
Bicycles, bakeries, Earlier, Busytown, Hammer & Hope, Lana Del Rey, Los Angeles, Ui, Radiohead, Kassel Jaeger, Balka Sound, Neal Schon
A kid ran into me on a CitiBike. I was sitting on my own CitiBike, halted in the crosswalk before a turn. He had an unlit joint in his mouth and skidded into me without saying a word. Klonk. I looked at him. “The brake broke,” he said, before ooching backwards. He reoriented and pedaled off without apology. I didn’t need one. I did need a cup of coffee, though, so I walked east on Spring and ended up at the Dominique Ansel bakery, where they make the cronuts. I only wanted coffee and would not have planned to visit this place in the normal course of events. For $12.83, I got a large coffee and a DKA, which I assume is called that because Ansel doesn’t think Americans can say “kouign-amann” (which is what a DKA is). The DKA was cold and leaden, a few hours old at least. Skip that nonsense and go to C&B, the best bakery in New York City. Ali’s kouign-amann is heavenly, as is everything else he makes.
In 8-Ball Radio news, a new episode of Busytown is up. No spoilers, but we figured out how to use the effects unit.
Lana Del Rey recently had a talk with Billie Eilish in Interview Magazine and revealed that she is under the impression I once told her to “change your name, change your face, and try a new career.” I did no such thing and Interview editor Ben Barna added a note to the interview which makes this clear and links to my 2012 Lana column from The New Yorker. That essay is 100% unlike the review Lana is thinking of and it’s not hard to find the piece she is referring to.
I was annoyed enough about the goofiness to email Barna about it but I did not lose any sleep. (I was about to play a show in LA and I needed to lose sleep about that. There is a queue!) I don’t think critics and artists need to observe some dishwater idea of civility. Both can be chaotic and should do what they need to do move the culture forward. Lana Del Rey thinks the critics are against her, and though this impression is contravened by the moves of the critics themselves, the original review that haunts her is hauntingly condescending. Would Rosalía or Mac DeMarco or Frank Ocean have freaked out and nursed a resentment? Probably not.
I had a small brush with this formation after Ui played the Numero 20 festival in Los Angeles last month. The show went well, everyone was nice to us, we got our tote bags: no complaints. But when a national newspaper reviewed the festival, Ui was not mentioned, not even in the line item fashion of “including Budgie, The Groundhogs, Melba Moore, and Ui.” I was heated for a minute, writing and deleting an ill-considered email. Luckily, Heidi and I had a storage unit to empty and my feelings could find no purchase. After a day or two, I realized I was reaching for “fuck that guy!” when my true feelings were closer to “that was odd.” The author had something to say about nostalgia and his ‘90s, and the other bands who played the festival were of a piece with the guitar music he had in mind. Ui never played that style, by design, so it made sense that we played on the first day, at 6 PM, of a two-day festival. We did not fit and that is OK. I have written about dozens of festivals and made it my task to sum them up at the exclusion of acts that didn’t fit my notion. As it should be! If an artist flamed me, because that evened their keel, that would also be fine.
Because of the show and the storage space, I didn’t hear music for more than a week. When I did return to the laptop in the hotel room, I ended up listening to this sublime Radiohead show recorded on the 7th of April, 2000, in Berlin. The audio files are linked in the comments, should you be the kind of nerd (like me) who wants them. The version of “Kid A” (not out at the time) is full-throated and rich with no vocal robotics in play. This experience led me to a Tumblr hosting “the essential Radiohead bootlegs,” which I cannot say anything about yet.
When I did return to my desk in New York and start wheeling up new things, I found myself in the presence of some magical bundles. Time Is Away just released Edits, a collection of unidentified tracks they’ve modified as they see fit. Some are dancey, some are not, and all have that time-being-away lilt. François J. Bonnet’s work as Kassel Jaeger is uniformly excellent, but his latest, Shifted In Dreams, is a peak. If you care about that Tim Hecker/Basic Channel/My Bloody Valentine axis of machines reproducing various states of enjoyable disorientation and melting the signposts of consciousness, you need to get involved. And this compilation of an ‘80s Congolese band called Balka Sound is fantastic. They play together and apart, in dissonance and consonance both, cooking along in this calm but delirious way.
Journey is on tour and Neal Schon has hired a private security guard to stand outside his dressing room, or at least did it once. His war with everyone, including keyboardist and Trumpist Jonathan Cain, is highly entertaining. Makes me glad to be off the road.