Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson is clueless about punk

Todd Owyoung for the Riverfront Times. Full slideshow here.
Bruce Dickinson rules. He's the greatest singer for one of the greatest bands of all time, Iron Maiden. But recently, he unleashed some pretty charged words in an interview with The Guardian. In addition to dropping one of the most incredible quotations ever, "fame is the excrement of creativity," he also said a few harsh words about punk rock, referring to it as rubbish and saying that the lack of talent in punk was an excuse to call it performance art. He goes on to state, "Half the kids that were in punk bands were laughing at the art establishment, going: 'What a fucking bunch of tosspots. Thanks very much, give us the money and we'll fuck off and stick it up our nose and shag birds.'"

Not totally untrue. The problem, however, lies in his words that immediately follow that thought:

"But what they'd really love to be doing is being in a heavy metal band surrounded by porn stars."

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Poptimist life: Why liking pop doesn't equal hating rock

Photos by Erik Hess/Instagram

If there's such a thing as a music nerd equivalent to total nuclear apocalypse, then Saul Austerlitz's recent New York Times Magazine piece on the detriments of "poptimism" was a DEFCON 2 alert. (That's the one just below "hope you've seen Mad Max a few times.")

To condense a confused, under-sourced, strawman-filled article into its summarized form, Austerlitz claims that music critics' wider enthusiasm and advocacy for mainstream pop music -- as seen in a number of pieces that treat stars like Lorde and BeyoncĂ© with something more respectful than retching contempt -- is "pernicious," "wildly distorted," and "really weird."

If Austerlitz's mission was to irritate the hell out of these poptimist critics, then a cursory scan of music-journalist Twitter feeds over the weekend proves he did a bang-up job. But if he meant to engage with the actual reality of pop-friendly music criticism as it exists right now, he might as well have finished every sentence with a "[citation needed]" -- that's how much of a misreading it was. And here's why.

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Should rap lyrics be used in criminal trials?


Legions of angry parents were already up in arms when gangster rap arrived on the scene. After the 1985 PMRC Senate hearings helped institute "Parental Advisory" stickers, albums by Ice-T and N.W.A. were among the first to be branded. Since then, rap as a musical form has continued to take its lumps for what concerned onlookers deemed questionable content.

Many rappers, though frustrated with the America in which they had grown up, sought refuge in one of the most fundamentally American ideals: free speech -- an issue apparently unresolved, because 25 years later, rap lyrics are being used as evidence in criminal trials, and the New Jersey Supreme Court is set to weigh in on the issue.

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No kings? Twin Cities hip hop's bold new era

Anna Gulbrandsen
The signs had been there for months, but it was only as 2013 neared its end that they became fully unavoidable. It was then, at the beginning of December, that Rhymesayers announced its latest signing -- and its first local one in what seemed like ages -- in the form of Prof. The Jameson-swilling problem child entered with his normal bravado, in an obscenity-laced video that featured a dig at Macklemore and came with the all-important blessing of Slug, who made his own cameo.

They could dress it up however they liked, but the subtext was clear: The rap game in the Twin Cities has changed dramatically, and even the mighty Rhymesayers is moving with the times.

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2013: The year of the overhyped album blockbuster

Robin Harper
The hottest musical trend in 2013 didn't have anything to do with music. Well, at least not with the world's biggest-selling artists and their major label henchmen -- the top one percent of the music biz, if you will. No, for them -- be it Jay Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail, Daft Punk's Random Access Memories, or Lady Gaga's ArtPOP extravaganza -- 2013 was all about creating a spectacle and hyping up every would-be blockbuster as a massive, can't-miss event.

But as far as trends go, the big-budget album launch wasn't a particularly good one. More often than not, these "events" were poor placeholders for albums that underwhelmed musically. And, more troublingly, they were the spawns of a spend-because-you-can mentality that priced most players right out of the game. In short, it ain't exactly good for the industry.

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M.I.A.'s Matangi is 2013's most misunderstood album

People still don't know what to do with M.I.A. As was the case last time around, the criticism of Maya Arulpragasam's fourth LP, Matangi, is predictably unforgiving. The reviews say it's a typically frustrating piece, the work of an artist with a persecution complex who can't control herself on Twitter and seems hellbent on confounding her fans. For some, its supposed datedness, the absence of another "Paper Planes," and even a lack of spirituality have irreparably tainted this album.

Matangi is by no means perfect, but all of the "negatives" listed above can be spun to become quite attractive. This is yet another forward-thinking work by a musician who has never stood still. That it should be conflated so conveniently with Arulpragasam herself is unfair to both, if not even troubling. It suggests that we just aren't willing to let M.I.A. be right.More »

Kevin Steinman on Norway healthcare: I feel as healthy as I ever have

Thumbnail image for Kevin_Steinman_Fjord_singing_Espen_Willsersrud.jpg
Photo by Espen Willserrud
Another advantage of Norway? You get to sing in the Fjords.

By Kevin Steinman

One year ago, my wife Ina and I posted our Ikea furniture on Craigslist, watched as four strong men packed up my studio gear, guitars and piano, hugged friends and family after my farewell concert in Minneapolis, and flew to Norway to begin our new adventure here. (Read about my reasons for leaving here.)

Since then I've received six Remicade infusions for my Ulcerative Colitis, and I'm happy to report I feel as healthy as I ever have. When I first arrived in Oslo last August, I didn't yet have a Norwegian social security number, so I felt no small measure of stress as I approached their health system as a new immigrant. The doctor I visited at the University of Oslo health clinic immediately understood that my treatment schedule merited a quick prioritization, so he made up a number for me, just to get me in the system. He assigned me to a private hospital (still covered under the national insurance plan), where they have lots of experience with the kind of treatment I get, and predicted I would be very satisfied with my care. He was right.

See Also:
U.S. healthcare is too costly for Kevin Steinman, so he's moving to Norway

Kevin Steinman says farewell and thanks to the Twin Cities
Kevin Steinman's farewell show at Bryant Lake Bowl, 7/23/12

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Why Death Grips sold drama instead of a copy of NO LOVE DEEP WEB

Photo by Jonny Magowan
The Music Industry is a weekly column that dissects local and national music-business headlines with the help of local industry professionals and music fanatics.

This month, dark lords of alt-hip-hop Death Grips emerged from the shadows to thrill believers by leaking their latest album, NO LOVE DEEP WEB, online. The album's cover features a very NSFW shot of male genitalia  with the title scrawled on it in Sharpie, and inside, the record follows a sweaty band of punks from Sacramento as they commandeer the rap format and wipe the floor with their more commercial counterparts in the process.

Supposedly, their label Epic Records wasn't in on the decision, and they retaliated by pulling the band's website. Now, I'm a marketer by trade, and I can smell strategy a mile away. So, when casually interested bloggers and journos wondered timidly whether the Death Grips leak may have been a setup, I had to laugh.

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Picked to Click 2012: By the numbers

Erik Hess
Chris Bierden, Picked to Click ringer
Well, by now you've probably all heard the news, and hopped on Twitter to express your approval and/or disdain for City Pages. (Or just yawned.) That's right: this week we unveiled the winners of Picked to Click 2012, which hit newsstands yesterday and pretty well changed our lives forever. You know, the popularity contest that local gatekeepers put on every year to promote their friends' music? The one that jinxes all those poor musicians?

Er, wait. Forget I said that last part.

All things told, though, P2C (or P2C2K12, if you're not into the whole brevity thing) is as much a chance to just have some plain old fun as it is anything else. So we could spend our time dissecting the results and figuring out what it all means -- what it really tells us about the music scene, circa 2012. Or we could, you know, pick out a few random facts from the voting and make fun of them. (Hint: that's what's about to happen.)

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Paul Ryan's Rage Against the Machine love is destined to be unrequited

Photo by Erik Hess (More shots here.)
Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello rallies against another Wisconsin Republican, Scott Walker, back in June.
See Also:
Rage Against The Machine: The Battle of Minneapolis, part deux
Brother Ali to join Tom Morello at rally to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Deep within a recent New York Times profile we discover that Mitt Romney's running mate Paul Ryan is a Rage Against the Machine fan. While the Wisconsin congressman is certainly entitled to enjoy Zach de la Rocha's fiery flow and Tom Morello's guitar pedal wizardry, they're not going to love him back.

Much like Ronald Reagan unintentionally invoking Bruce Springsteen's tale of an unemployed Vietnam vet, "Born in the U.S.A.," or John McCain trying to use outspoken liberal Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty" campaigning, this is definitely not a harmonious political arrangement. It was only earlier this year that Morello rallied in Madison to recall Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, and four years ago that Rage Against the Machine ripped up the Twin Cities during the Republican National Convention.

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