1. Kevin Mazur has captured more great live moments on film than most of us see in our lives. I recently spoke to the A-list concert photographer about some striking, intimate images of Kurt Cobain that he took between the fall of 1992 and December 1993. Click through to see the photos and read the stories behind them.

     


  2. Last night, I attended the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It was an incredible show, with lots of excellent performances by Cat Stevens, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and others. But the most powerful moment by far was the Nirvana reunion/tribute that closed out the night. Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear performed four Nirvana songs with four lead singers standing in for Kurt: Joan Jett, Kim Gordon, Annie Clark, and Lorde. It was easily one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Words can’t quite capture how intensely awesome it was, but here’s the rapturous write-up I turned in after a few hours of sleep this morning.

     


  3. I recently got to speak with the great photographer Dennis Morris, who shared his memories of working closely with Bob Marley from 1974 (when Morris was in high school) up until the singer’s death seven years later. Morris has an exhibit of rare Marley photos opening next week in L.A. It sounds great.

     


  4. Taylor Momsen’s rock band, The Pretty Reckless, looked like a TV actor’s vanity project when it started. But she quit Gossip Girl not long after the band’s first album, and their new one, Going to Hell, is a solidly enjoyable hard-rock LP.

    I interviewed Momsen for a full-page Q&A in the new issue of Rolling Stone. Here’s a short excerpt where she talks about the new album’s provocative cover art.

    Momsen goes on to draw an analogy to another famous naked album cover. “I don’t think John Lennon was trying to shock people when he was naked on Two Virgins,” she says. “He was just trying to be as honest and raw as he could, and that’s what my intent is with nudity.”
     


  5. This is not a joke. Send your questions about life, love, work or school to askaboss@rollingstone.com and they could appear with answers from Rick Ross in an upcoming edition of Rolling Stone’s new feature, “Ask a Boss With Rick Ross.”

     


  6. I profiled Carrie Brownstein for the new issue of Rolling Stone. Special bonus for the web: Here’s a gallery with some more images from We Are the Rhoads’ photo shoot at Carrie’s house in Portland, plus outtakes from my interview.

    The full profile from the magazine is also online now. Read it here!

     


  7. "Man, there’s a part of me that laughs when I hear that," Ross says. "It’s a compliment. Like, ‘Wow, I made it, I’m in the Illuminati!’ But people who say shit like that, to me, are like people who believe in fucking magic."

    Ross notes for the record that he means no disrespect to actual magicians: “David Copperfield is a close homey of mine – I told him I was going to bring my yacht out to his private island – but the fucking Illuminati? What the fuck.”

    This is a short excerpt from the print-only Q&A I did with Ross for Rolling Stone's last issue. We talked about his new album, the Olympics, the Oscars, his escape plan if Miami sinks due to global warming, and more. The man knows how to have an entertaining conversation.

     


  8. Carrie Brownstein’s Life After Punk

    I profiled Carrie Brownstein for the new issue of Rolling Stone, on stands this week. We talked about the rise of Portlandia; why Sleater-Kinney really broke up; and how she feels about the idea of a reunion, among other things. This was a great reporting experience: In addition to being an incredibly talented artist, Carrie is a really smart and funny talker (no surprise there). I can’t wait to read the memoir she’s writing.

    This issue of the magazine also has an excellent Skrillex cover story by Jonah Weiner, an exclusive interview with the creator of Flappy Bird by David Kushner, and lots more. I’ll post my Carrie story here if it goes up online, but for now it’s online-only. Pick up a copy if you see one!

    UPDATE: The full story is now online. Read it here!

     


  9. Read much more from Rivers’ eloquent Nirvana tribute, as told to me, at RollingStone.com.

    Previously: I spoke with Pat Smear about Nirvana’s final year in 2013, and interviewed Krist Novoselic and Butch Vig about the 20th anniversary of Nevermind in 2011.

     


  10. St. Vincent’s new album is the best thing I’ve heard so far in 2014, and I won’t be surprised if it ends up at the top of my albums list in December. Yes, it’s only February, but what I’m saying is that this album is incredible – the most focused statement yet by the most thrilling solo artist in indie rock.  It’s streaming at NPR; go listen, and read my new interview with Annie Clark at RollingStone.com.

     


  11. I really enjoyed interviewing Charlamagne – he’s a very smart, very funny guy who isn’t shy about his own flaws. Read more at RollingStone.com.

     


  12. Pete Seeger, 1919-2014: All Together Now

    Pete Seeger’s shows were all about crowd participation. In his later years, this was a matter of necessity - after decades of singing loud and clear at countless protests, rallies and marches, he needed some help to carry those tunes. But Pete’s signature singalongs meant more than that. Collective thought and action were his guiding principles. He saw music as a way to bring people together for a greater good, and a room full of many singing together as one was an apt reflection of that ideal.

    When I covered Pete’s 90th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden for my old employer in 2009, I was there as a reporter but also as a lifelong fan – someone who grew up singing his songs with the other kids at my progressive summer day camp. I joined my voice with 18,000 others on “Goodnight, Irene,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” “Turn, Turn Turn,” “Which Side Are You On?,” “Union Maid,” “Bring Them Home” and all the rest. It did my heart good to witness everyone in the Garden that night singing along for Pete and the values he stood for.

    Well, almost everyone. I remember looking over in my row and seeing a prominent critic – I won’t name names – who spent the entire show just standing there, arms crossed, with a self-serious look on his face and no hint of music on his lips. It was apparent that he felt some professional obligation to keep himself separate from the emotion of the night. I realized right there that I never want to become the kind of journalist who positions himself that far outside of the experiences he writes about. What’s the point? If there’s one thing I’ll take away from Pete Seeger’s life, it’s that we’re all in this together, and the world works better when we don’t sequester ourselves from our fellow human beings. Today I’m proud that I sang along with Pete Seeger on that occasion and so many others, and I honestly feel kind of bad for anyone who denied him- or herself that joy.

     


  13. Yeezus is a fucking masterpiece. I have yet to see Kanye not put out an amazing record – and people don’t understand how hard that is. To make record after record and come out with something new and push the boundaries and have it succeed every single time is insane. If I could choose any brain to just chill in, for, like, 10 minutes, it’d be Kanye’s. I just want to see what goes on up there. Because he’s a genius." - Alana Haim

    Read more at RollingStone.com.

     


  14. I caught up with Josh Homme for the new issue of Rolling Stone. Find the whole thing on stands now - or check out a brief excerpt online, where he talks about how eager he is to get back in the studio with Queens of the Stone Age later this year:

    When it’s time to make music, that’s about getting lost for me. To be a control freak is not half as good as being a freak who’s casually in control. You’re feeling around in the dark for something that feels good. As long as you’re not in an orgy, that can be an amazing moment.

    image

    Earlier: I wrote about the Queens and the making of their great album …Like Clockwork last summer.

     

  15. It’s always a pleasure to be part of One Week/One Band, one of my very favorite music blogs. Here’s my modest contribution to their "Stop Making Sense" theme week, about songs in languages other than English. Thanks, Hendrik!

    oneweekoneband:

    Omega – “Gyöngyhajú lány”

    One of my favorite moments on Kanye West’s Yeezus comes in the coda to the brilliant “New Slaves.” For the first three minutes, the song is all heated confrontation, a big phallic middle finger to the prison-industrial complex, Hamptons homeowners and assorted other rotten power structures. Then, with a sudden drumroll, the beat drops out and “New Slaves” transforms. Kanye’s voice comes through heavy distortion, his hurt even rawer than before, while Frank Ocean sings along in sweeter tones. Guitars swell behind them in tragic majesty; as the two stars fall silent, another voice comes in, murmuring words in an unfamiliar tongue.

    That mystery voice belongs to János Kóbor, lead singer of the popular Hungarian rock group Omega, a sample of whose 1969 hit “Gyöngyhajú lány” provides the unexpected backdrop for the last minute of “New Slaves.” Thanks to Kanye, I’d bet that this decades-old nugget was one of the most-heard foreign-language songs for English-speaking music fans in 2013, whether they knew it or not. The sample was uncovered shortly after “New Slaves” debuted on brick walls around the world this past spring; a post on Pigeons and Planes led me to the original Omega track, and I promptly fell in love. I’ve probably returned to “Gyöngyhajú lány” on YouTube a dozen times since then. There’s something about the way the melody falls, its slightly absurd heights of emotion welling up to match the jazzy psychedelic orchestration, that hooks me every time.

    I’m not sure what Kóbor is singing about. The rough translations I’ve found suggest that he’s recounting a daydream involving a beautiful woman with hair as bright as pearls. Maybe it’s a coded allegory of some kind – my cursory Google Books research suggests that Omega and their peers in the late Sixties were sometimes at odds with Hungary’s government censors – or maybe it’s just a silly love song. (In the Nineties, Germany’s Scorpions translated it very loosely into English for a cover version called “White Dove”; the insipid results are best skipped.) If OW/OB readers have anything to add about the song’s meaning and larger cultural relevance, I’d be very curious to read more. Til then, I’m left with a song that echoes through the years to today, and yet another testament to Kanye West’s ear.

    — Simon Vozick-Levinson