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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Drake proves ghostwriters don't matter with 'Hotline Bling'

Posted By on 07.30.15 at 01:15 PM

Yesterday Drake released "Back to Back Freestyle," the latest chapter in his burgeoning feud with Meek Mill. That Philadelphia rapper lit the fire on Twitter last week when he alleged that Drake's guest verse on his latest album, June's Dreams Worth More Than Money, was ghostwritten. To some, Meek included, that's a pox on "authenticity," a slippery measurement of hip-hop greatness that, as the Beck-versus-Beyonce moment touched off by Kanye at this year's Grammies showed us, remains a tool some music fans and even musicians themselves are eager to employ in an argument.

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Öxxö Xööx look like metalhead Na'vi and sound like heirs to Magma

Posted By on 07.30.15 at 12:00 PM

Keyboardist, backup vocalist, and live guitarist Rïcïnn (aka Laure Le Prunenec), the torso of drummer Isarnos (aka Thomas Jacquelin), and mastermind and front man Öxxö Xööx (aka Laurent Lunoir)
  • Courtesy the band's Facebook page
  • Keyboardist, backup vocalist, and live guitarist Rïcïnn (aka Laure Le Prunenec), the torso of drummer Isarnos (aka Thomas Jacquelin), and mastermind and front man Öxxö Xööx (aka Laurent Lunoir)

I know that Öxxö Xööx are an experimental metal band from Dieppe, France, and that their second full-length, Nämïdäë, came out in late May (it gets a vinyl release this month). But I've deliberately refrained from digging any further. Rather than learn the sort of mundane biographical details that might humanize these otherworldly musicians—what other groups they've played in, what they do at their day jobs—I've chosen to preserve, as best I can, the feeling of baffled wonderment I had when I first discovered them a few months ago. And I'll try to share.

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Did you read about Samuel DuBose, Roswell, and dog flu?

Posted By on 07.30.15 at 11:35 AM

The UFO Museum in Roswell
Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, alarm, amuse, or inspire us.

Hey, did you read:

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Cecil the lion and everything else that's wrong with the world

Posted By on 07.30.15 at 10:45 AM

The scene outside lion killer Walter Palmer's dental office - ADAM BETTCHER/GETTY
  • Adam Bettcher/Getty
  • The scene outside lion killer Walter Palmer's dental office

Not that anything is necessarily wrong with the Big Picture, but journalists determined to provide it can be a little befuddling. Aren't we getting carried away? I sometimes wonder.

A Minnesota dentist shot and killed a beloved lion in Zimbabwe. Condemnation rained from social media. So much condemnation so fast that pundits I came across in the Thursday Tribune felt obliged to step outside the torrent and comment on it.

Not that John Kass feels any sympathy for the dentist, Walter Palmer—Kass made it clear he doesn't—but his mind was on other matters. What happens when "human children are slaughtered?" he wondered. "America mostly shrugs." On the other hand, what if "a big-game hunter took unborn lion cubs and crushed their skulls and harvested their organs for scientific research, then talked lightly about technique with a glass of wine in his hand?" In that case, said Kass, "there might be even more outrage . . . . And much of the media would rise up in anger . . . "

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fifty-four Lollapalooza aftershows all in one place

Posted By on 07.29.15 at 05:55 PM

Flying Lotus
  • Timothy Saccenti
  • Flying Lotus DJs at Spybar after his Friday-night Lollapalooza set
As if Lollapalooza weren't huge enough, the fest is supplemented by more than 50 afterparties, where many of the festival's big acts play smaller venues around town. Between the late-night rock gigs and the even-later-night dance parties, you should have more than enough opportunities to make an exhausting weekend of music even more exhausting. Much like Lollapalooza itself, many of these shows have been sold out for some time. More will likely sell out in the next couple days, so it's always a good idea to check with the venue before heading over.

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The Vatican Tapes is a waste of a good director

Posted By on 07.29.15 at 02:37 PM

The Vatican Tapes
  • The Vatican Tapes

If you're so desperate to sit in an air-conditioned room that you'll see any movie in town, then you might take a forgiving attitude toward The Vatican Tapes, a forgettable horror film currently playing at a few Chicago multiplexes. I wouldn't call Vatican a bad movie, just an exceedingly familiar one, rife with sequences you've probably seen in numerous other Exorcist knockoffs. The most surprising thing about it may be how serious it is, given that the director is Mark Neveldine—one half of the duo Neveldine/Taylor, who made the live-action cartoons Crank, Gamer, and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Those films were adolescent and exuberant, made buoyant by irreverent humor and athletic camerawork. The demonic possession subgenre could have really benefited from those qualities, as the films tend to be dour and visually uninspired, yet Neveldine applies his gifts stingily. Occasionally Vatican hints at the wilder film it might have been—if you can find air-conditioning someplace other than a multiplex, I'd recommend going there and imagining that other movie instead.

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Crown Tap and Best Intentions are dive bars no more

Posted By on 07.29.15 at 01:30 PM

Lookin' good, Crown Tap. - LOGAN JAVAGE
  • Logan Javage
  • Lookin' good, Crown Tap.

Earlier this year, Marble and Crown Tap Room, two beloved dive bars in adjacent northwest-side neighborhoods, closed their doors to loyal customers to make improvements that would help them better fulfill the desires of the area’s changing demographics. Change scares people, especially when it threatens to turn their corner watering hole into another Logan Square madhouse packed with recent college grads finding themselves through craft cocktails and creative facial hair.

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Don't just drive by this taco spot's house-made tortillas

Posted By on 07.29.15 at 01:00 PM

Housemade tortillas are the thing at El Comalito

A friend was talking up some tacos on Twitter; another, Titus, turned out to have written about them on his taco blog two years ago. I asked for the name and coordinates of the taqueria in question and was astonished to find that the place, El Comalito, was on a stretch of Western (think basically the old Honey 1, but on the other side of the street) I drive down all the time. How had I never seen it?

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A couple stories that make it harder to be optimistic about newspapers

Posted By on 07.29.15 at 12:30 PM

  • Sun-Times Media
  • Optimism!

A couple things I just read puzzle me.

The New York Times chose as the lead story of its Sunday Review section this week a dumbfoundingly vapid thumb sucker headlined "We Need Optimists." Said the essayist, Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, "We need more optimism in America," though optimism, mind you, "is not without cost." Yet "sunny optimism" is the reason Ronald Reagan was "so phenomenally effective"—and if you don't remember the Reagan presidency as phenomenally effective Brooks loses you right there.

But the chances are he lost you earlier. Brooks began his piece as Reagan liked to begin his speeches, by telling a story. So he told the one about coming home from a parent-teacher conference with his wife. Their kid's grades were in the toilet and the ride was tense. His wife finally broke the silence. "Think of it this way," she said. "At least we know he's not cheating."

Commented Brooks, "That’s an optimist."

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Chill out to Ant'lrd's engrossing 'Backyard'

Posted By on 07.29.15 at 12:00 PM

A couple weeks ago Battles released the album artwork for their forthcoming album, La Di Da Di, which features an array of breakfast food arranged in a diagonal line atop a manilla backdrop. I was tickled by the design when I first saw it, but in that moment I'd somehow forgotten about a recent split cassette that also features a collage of grub fit for a morning meal: Drawing Trees and Ant'lrd's Balanced Breakfast. I jogged my memory while hiding out in Reckless Records during Wicker Park Fest last weekend, and picked up a copy of the experimental tape. I'm particularly taken by one of the songs Ant'lrd contributed, the hypnotic "Backyard"; the producer builds an engrossing, swarming melody as the song progresses, and the tune coasts along with the help of some muffled percussion that reminds me a little of the unexpected twists and turns footwork producer Jlin employed on her recent debut album, Dark Energy. Take a listen to "Backyard" below—it's today's 12 O'Clock Track—and grab a copy of Balanced Breakfast from local label Baro.

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