Art and commerce have long made for uncomfortable bedfellows. But with album sales declining, corporations have increasingly stepped in to fill the income void for many musicians, sponsoring tours, running songs in advertisements and employing pop stars as brand ambassadors.
Springsteen’s most recent albums — I’m thinking 2012’s Wrecking Ball and this year’s High Hopes, in particular — have been fairly disappointing. While his targets (political corruption, economic inequality, etc.) have been on the mark, too often the songs were bogged down by the fussy, over-the-top production.
At first glance, there’s little memorable about Dan Croll — just look at that press photo. With his plain white T-shirt, glasses and emotionless expression, it almost looks as if the English singer-songwriter wants to disappear undetected into the scenery, like Kevin Spacey using his Everyman appearance to hide in plain sight in “The Usual Suspects.”
Massillon-born rapper Stalley is giving his home state some love on the aptly named “No Place Like Home” tour, which finds the impressively bearded MC visiting nine Ohio cities over the course of three weeks, including this week’s stop at Skully’s.
On Fanfarlo’s third full-length album, Let’s Go Extinct, the British quintet doesn’t shy from embracing big ideas, turning out ornate pop-rock tunes that touch on subjects like evolution, human consciousness and, on the title track, what might remain once our species is wiped off the planet.
In early 2001, satirical newspaper The Onion ran an article under the headline “Marilyn Manson Now Going Door-To-Door Trying To Shock People.” It’s a mantle most recently adopted by former child star Miley Cyrus, who, in an effort to distance herself from her tame Disney roots, has increasingly flaunted her sexuality, twerking on Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Music Awards, posing in various states of undress for photographers like Terry Richardson and constantly flicking out her tongue, like a cross between His Airness and an iguana.
“Problems in my past haunt my future and my present,” raps Danny Brown amid his most recent effort Old. This sentiment bleeds through the album’s 19 tracks, which find the MC alternately picking at childhood scabs (“Grown Up”; “Torture”) and chronicling grown-up mistakes (“Clean Up”).
In the midst of Tacocat’s playful set at Carabar on a recent Wednesday, frontwoman Emily Nokes offered up a few kind words about Total Request Dead, a C-bus trio that served as a warm-up alongside fellow locals Delay. “That’s so bitchin’,” she said of the band’s take on Josie & the Pussycats’ “Three Small Words.” “We used to cover that song, too.”