Saturday, June 23, 2012

Concert Recommendation: The Hives, House of Blues, June 23

In the charming Mo Willems' childrens' book Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct, the title character goes around town making people happy, blissfully unaware that dinosaurs should no longer inhabit the earth. When a know-it-all in need of an audience explains to her that she should be extinct, she buys his arguments but just doesn't care. She just goes on having fun, and even her lecturer joins her.

Substitute "garage rock" for "dinosaur," and you've got the story of the Hives. They burst onto the scene a decade ago as part of the third wave of garage. The White Stripes appeared to be the only long-term survivors of the fad, and even they've broken up, and not before Jack White repositioned his duo as blues revivalists. But armed with unflagging bravado, especially by satirically arrogant lead singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, the Hives have kept chugging along, blissfully unaware that there won't be a Grandchildren of Nuggets compilation. And, like Edwina, they go around making people happy by putting on great shows. "Go Right Ahead," the lead track from the new Lex Hives is their raucous take on ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down," and it is just as energizing as any of the highlights from their breakthrough album Veni, Vidi, Vicious.

The Hives play the House of Blues, 15 Lansdowne St., Boston, (888) 693–2583 at 6:30 on Saturday, June 23.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2011: The Non-Year of the Year of Women in Music

Much has been made of women's achievements in comedy this year. Funny women have written best-selling books and have worked both in front of and behind the camera on popular TV shows and in movies. Many commentaries on this also add that it shouldn't be a big deal that women, who are majority of the world's population, are succeeding in any particular endeavor, but the fact remains that it is still seen as a trend and a novelty.

But the real news is not only that women dominated the world of popular music in 2011 but that their collective achievement doesn't warrant commentary. Taylor Swift was Billboard's women of the year for her phenominal sales, and they didn't name a corresponding man of the year. Adele had the year's top-selling album and is poised to clean up at the Grammys. Katy Perry broke one of Michael Jackson's sales records. Britney Spears was newsworthy only for her ticket and single sales. Nicki Minaj was one of the biggest break-out artists of the year. Not a single male solo artist or band made Entertainment Weekly's reader poll for favorite musician of the year. And none of this has been the subject of trend stories; most people acccept this as unworthy of comment.

It's true that accepted roles for women in popular music are still limited, but it is a sign of genuine progress when the success of so many women to the exclusion of the success of men is no big deal.