It’s been a hot minute since Speedy Ortiz last hit Madison; or, more specifically, just a few months short of a year since they demolished Live on King Street, opening for tUnE-yArDs. The appearance felt like a bit of a victory lap after the release of 2013’s triumphant Major Arcana and 2014’s equally massive “Real Hair” EP, but it wasn’t the first time they had played the city.
After months of escalating hype, CRASHprez—who’s slowly assuming the mantle of curator of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s quietly bustling musical underground—has finally dropped his more perfect. project, a sprawling magnum opus exploring the black condition in America as seen through the eyes of a particularly discerning and articulate college student-cum-artist—or do I have that backwards?
This is a transcript of an interview with local rapper Lord of the Fly. To read the story printed in the Spring 2015 Welcome Back Issue, click here.
Daniel Kaplan’s recording name, Lord of the Fly, may initially illicit some unsavory connotations. First of foremost is William Golding’s vicious 1954 “Lord of the Flies”—and maybe, in the throes of his self-titled single, Kaplan’s yelp of “Lord of the what, bitches?/Lord of the Fly” indeed stresses a demand of hierarchal restructuring, of reallocation of dominance in a scene as fresh and fertile as an uninhabited island. Then, there’s the monster at the heart of Golding’s novel, the literal Lord of the Flies; Beelzebub, the devil himself. And maybe that’s an accurate depiction of Kaplan’s character—not the split mouthed pig on a stick of the book, but something closer to Milton’s romantic Satan: the deviant, the naysayer or the ardent artist, completely dedicated to his craft.
Nick Cave has never really been himself. In all his oeuvre, he’s always played the role of observational poet; his work, while sometimes intensely personal, is always marked by the unmistakable sense of voyeurism, of looking in at another’s life. From The Bad Seeds’ first venomous 1983 recording of Leonard Cohen’s “Avalanche” to the metatextual eeriness of 2013’s “Finishing Jubilee Street,” he has lived the necessary lie of the poet. Even his frequent artistic self-presentation, a product of English post-punk aesthetics and Southern gothic hellfire, contradicts the reality of his Melbourne upbringing.
I’m glad that I came out of this month’s Spoon show (you know the one) feeling so maligned, because it provides a perfect foil for the wonderful of Montreal show Sunday night at the Majestic Theatre. For those who don’t remember (or don’t care), I left Spoon’s set disenchanted with indie rock and its ethos; it seemed hollow and depleted and it was distressing seeing a staple band of the scene just going through the motions to an apathetic and cooler-than-thou crowd.
In 1997 The Dismemberment Plan wrote a song titled “Do the Standing Still” for their sophomore album The Dismemberment Plan is Terrified. Aside from being a showcase for Travis Morrison’s goofier proclivities, it also works as a sad monument for the gradual, sloping decline of indie rock.
It’s been a strange trip for Cloud Nothings, Dylan Baldi’s jangle-pop-cum hardcore punk outfit from Cleveland, Ohio. Their first two records—mostly unassuming; pleasant, if not forgettable—were generally kitschy little indie rock collections. Lo-fi, fuzzy and bubbling with an infectious warmth. It was a bit of a shock when 2012’s wonderful Attack on Memory threw it all away in favor of a raucous post-hardcore assault. It’s certainly the high point of the band’s career to date—even if this year’s Here and Nowhere Else is an absolute blast, it never captures the manic/depressive jitters of its forerunners, sucked dry of lead guitarist Joe Boyer’s interplay with Baldi’s chest-thumping rhythms. It’s almost been like watching a band slide backwards into the primordial ooze; texture, style and finesse have all given way to primal urgency. It’s been fun, but whether or not it’s the right choice for the group still remains to be seen.