Latest News: the black keys

Congrats to Last Night's Grammy Winners

By 23

A round of applause is in order for a few of our "tributees" who walked away from last night's Grammy ceremony with awards in tow. Congratulations to: The Black Keys with Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Rock Album, and Producer of the Year (Dan Auerbach) Gotye with Record of the Year, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, and Best Alternative Music Album Mumford and Sons with Album of the Year Skrillex with Best Dance Recording, Best Remixed Recording Non-Classical fun. with Song of the Year, Best New Artist And last but not least, Adele with Best Pop Solo Performance.  .

Be sure to check out VSQ's string renditions of some of last night's biggest winners:

     

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Available Now: VSQ Performs The Black Keys

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Why The Coachella Webcast Was Better Than The Real Thing

By 18

First off, props to Goldenvoice for being hip to the 21st century and streaming their Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival online. Although not all performances remained online after the festival, their choice to share without obligation was an additional bonus for us at home.  The webcast was so adequate, in fact, that it was even better than being there. My specious reasoning is as follows: 1. The comforts of home: I'm sure giant art installations, a ferris wheel, amusement tents, and the general atmosphere of the Inland desert are appealing to some. But there's something to be said about waking up at 4 PM, slowly rolling out of bed, brushing last night’s bean dip off your encrusted t-shirt, and watching The Black Keys play for an hour. Sure, I'm alone, as I always am and always will be. But if we cling to the Jean Paul-Sartre line, “hell is other people,” then this is surely a heavenly prison. 2. YouTube is preferable to live: You know how terrible concerts are, right? There's, like, loud noises, and sometimes the stage is so big you get sensory overload and can't focus. With the convenience of the streaming webcast, I can focus all my attention on a 5-inch wide rectangle in my cold, darkened room. My mild claustrophobia is more manageable than my rampant agoraphobia. Plus, with my state-of-the-art-in-2002 laptop speakers, it adds a cool fishbowl effect to any performance and I can pretend I'm inside a giant tin can. Imagination games are far less terrifying than trying to awkwardly figure out how to dance to The Weeknd. 3. I am afraid of holograms and you should be too: We all know the news about Tupac's expensive projection into the realm of the living, and this development should only be a cause for concern. I've always linked holograms with ghosts, which is an association burned into me at a young age during a trip to Disneyland's haunted house ride. In truth, holograms are close cousins of ghosts, and we should be worried about their incoming popularity. We are already afraid of robot uprisings and AI technology. We have a natural fear of vengeful spirits. Holograms combine the worst of both worlds: The unstoppable intangibility of ghosts and the cold brutality of robots. We must stop the march towards zombie holograms before it is too late. 4. I would have missed WWE SmackDown: Sure, Radiohead is a cool band and all, but I had to see if Daniel Bryan was going to get another shot at the World Title. 5. Loading times present opportunities to think back on where you went wrong: Should I have been smarter with my money? Do I need to take more initiative to be adventurous? Am I not proactive enough in shaping the course of my life? These are all questions you can ask yourself in the time it takes for the Wild Flag show to finish buffering. And really, is that not more valuable than 3 days of all the concerts your heart desires? Too often, joy and celebration get in the way of our doubt and anxiety, and how are we ever supposed to get out from under the crushing heel that is our lives if we don't face it daily? There are also a few dozen logistical nitpicks that might be considered a benefit – no commute, some hundreds saved, no possibility of sunburn – but these are merely mechanical benefits. They're pedestrian and tangible. The lasting value lies in these desperate rationalizations. These are the ones that I think about daily, usually when I catch a glimpse of my reflection and realize that, for some reason, there are tears on my face.

Be sure to check out: The String Quartet Tribute to Tupac Available now at iTunes and Amazon

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Is Rock & Roll Dying? A Response to Patrick Carney

By 18

If you've been in a long supermarket line recently, you've probably seen the leather jacketed members of The Black Keys gracing the cover of this month's issue of Rolling Stone. You may even be privy to the attention-grabbing lede: "Rock & roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world. So they became OK with the idea that the biggest rock band in the world is always going to be shit – therefore you should never try to be the biggest rock band in the world." That was Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney's quote, which the author used to start the profile piece. The article was about much more, but the easy, pot-stirring soundbite was the driving force behind the retweets, reblogs and shares, so let's talk about it. Is the great rock & roll dying? However you feel about Nickelback, one of those bands that is simultaneously hugely popular and hugely dismissed, is irrelevant to the underlying idea Carney is getting at: rock & roll is the big time, and the big time is no longer cool. The sub-culture and/or counter-culture has always been present in music, whether it was jazz or punk. But it seems the recent rise of the internet has made it a viable place to live; now, more than ever, you can stay off of the radio and refuse The Tonight Show and still make enough money to live. Indie has become a self-sustaining ecosystem and community. As a result, kids picking up guitars for the first time can aspire to get big – but not too big. Maybe big enough to get on the cover of Rolling Stone, at best. But is that killing rock & roll? There's an idea out there in the fandom that mainstream popularity and coolness are usually mutually exclusive. Just look at any misguided discussion about “selling out.” Carney seems concerned with making straight rock & roll, and the fame that comes with it, a positive thing to the rebellious youths turning away from rock & roll and toward alternative or indie. Because what kind of world would we live in if rock & roll was no longer hip? What I think Carney is picking up on isn't that rock & roll is dying, but it is definitely changing. It's now an umbrella term for a wide variety of music – just look at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's definition of the genre. Rock & roll has always branched out from its point of origin, but with technology providing a low barrier to entry and easy distribution, it has splintered out even faster. So any of the big guitar acts, like indie chart toppers Arcade Fire, don't really identify as simply “rock & roll,” leaving that territory for the Nickelbacks. Despite this, it's hard to imagine that Arcade Fire doesn't fit in the big world of rock somewhere. If they identify as an indie band, or some kind of alternative, or some derivative of folk and chamber pop, all of that can still be traced backwards through time to a rock & roll tradition. It's not that rock & roll is dying – it's just that the term isn't helpful in today's mass music access, because it doesn't describe the difference between Radiohead and Papa Roach. It's important to note that people have always claimed that rock & roll was dying. In 1968, the King of Rock & Roll himself, Elvis Presley, gave credit to these new bands like The Beatles and The Byrds, but felt that they were straying away from rock's roots in gospel and R&B. Maybe it's changing faster now than ever, but it's always been changing, and that's far from death. In a culture where there's something for everyone, where every band – even Nickelback – has a niche and an audience, how can that be anything but survival?

Be sure to check out:

Vitamin String Quartet Performs Modern Rock Hits 2011 Vol. 2

Available now at iTunes and Amazon

and

Vitamin String Quartet Performs Breaking Dawn Part 1

Available now at iTunes and Amazon

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Out Now! Vitamin String Quartet Performs Modern Rock Hits 2011 Vol. 2

By 15

Available now! Vitamin String Quartet Performs Modern Rock Hits 2011 Vol. 2. Including masterfully crafted string renditions of The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy”, Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” and Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out” and more.

Get it now at iTunes.

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