Four out of five Dolls: Jerry Nolan, David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain and Johnny Thunders (from left) circa 1973.
(Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Four out of five Dolls: Jerry Nolan, David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain and Johnny Thunders (from left) circa 1973.
(Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Remembering Sylvain Sylvain, Lose the Earbuds, 'Drivers License,' Stevie Wonder, Kidd G...
Matty Karas (@troubledoll), curator January 15, 2021
quote of the day
Just as Dr. King's ideas are now regularly taken out of context (often by right wingers) and his more radical ideas ignored, Wonder's song, while delightful as melody, shouldn't be heard as just a harmless tune, but a very successful piece of political agitation.
rant n' rave

The singer and lead guitarist got most of the attention, as they tend to do—inasmuch as the now-legendary band got any attention in its day—but the rhythm guitarist, the Egyptian immigrant who was one of the first to join in 1971 and one of the last left standing in 1977, was the glue that held the NEW YORK DOLLS together. Sylvain Mizrahi, better known as SYLVAIN SYLVAIN, was the gravitational center of an androgynous, shambolic, improbable band that forced rock and roll to reconsider what it sounds like and what it looks like, in ways that still resonate deeply today. He was the "lynchpin, keeping the revolving satellites of his bandmates in precision," guitarist/critic LENNY KAYE wrote after Sylvain died of cancer Wednesday, at 69. Sylvain was also, not incidentally, the one who worked in fashion (along with short-lived drummer BILLY MURCIA; and you're welcome, HARRY STYLES), and the one who noticed the New York Doll Hospital across the street from his Lexington Avenue shop and thought it might make a good band name, which it very obviously did. It's easy to forget Sylvain also co-wrote a handful of Dolls classics, not least their amazing opening volley, "TRASH." He got a lot more prolific as a songwriter after the band dissolved—Johansen's first couple solo albums are loaded with Sylvain co-writes including, yes, this and this, and Sylvain's first couple solo albums are breezy new wave time capsules that have aged surprisingly well. He remained the Dolls' glue even in dissolution, the one who kept in touch with everybody else and a driving force in their reunion in the early 2000s. In between, and after, he played with everyone who would have him, in every club that would have him, a glam/punk/rock road warrior to the end. "Syl," wrote Lenny Kaye, "never stopped." RIP... NPR Music's annual Jazz Critics Poll says MARIA SCHNEIDER, AMBROSE AKINMUSIRE and ERIC REVIS made the three best jazz albums of 2020, a year in which "nearly every album sent to me for review came with a press release claiming that this was the music we needed in these troubled times," as poll poobah FRANCIS DAVIS puts it. "Music can be a healing force," he adds, "but it can be asked to do only so much." With that, I'm pretty sure we can put to bed the official critical accounting of an apocalyptic year in which musicians did as much as they possibly could have been expected to do, and then some. A surprisingly fertile year, creatively speaking. We've collected nearly 300 lists, covering genres from pop and hip-hop to ambient, metal, classical, gengetone and beyond, in MusicSET: "Best Music of 2020: The Year in Lists"... After testing its in-house Vinyl Pressing Service with 50 artists, BANDCAMP is expanding the program with invitations to 10,000 artists. The service allows the artists to crowdfund vinyl releases through the site; if they hit their goal, Bandcamp handles production, shipping and customer support. There's no upfront cost to the artist and Bandcamp takes a 15% cut of all pledges... Quant fund or metal band?... It's FRIDAY and that means new music from SHAME, EMMA RUTH RUNDLE & THOU (EP following up their masterful 2020 collaboration), ZAYN, WHY DON'T WE, SLEAFORD MODS, BUCK MEEK (BIG THIEF guitarist), JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA SEPTET WITH WYNTON MARSALIS, UNOTHEACTIVIST, NYCK CAUTION, KUWAISIANA, ASHNIKKO, BEACH BUNNY, MATTHEW SWEET, MIDNIGHT SISTER, INSIDES, DANIELLE DURACK, YOU ME AT SIX, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, DALE CROVER and ACCEPT... RIP also Texas accordion legend CHENCHO FLORES; concert pianist JOANNE ROGERS, who dedicated herself in later years to preserving the legacy of her husband, TV's MR. ROGERS; Chicago indie-rock drummer ALEJANDRO MORALES, and Hong Kong ELVIS impersonator MELVIS KWOK... MusicREDEF is taking a long weekend in observance of MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY. We'll be back in your inbox Wednesday morning.

Matty Karas (@troubledoll), curator

January 15, 2021