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Show Scenes: Swans at Royale
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Experimental noise rock legends Swans, now 4 years and 3 records into a highly successful reformation, brought a towering 2-hour set to the Royale on Saturday night in support of the recently released “To Be Kind.” Norwegian art-pop singer/songwriter Jenny Hval opened.

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Deafheaven’s ‘Sunbather’ has converted indie snobs to metal
Music

“Sunbather,” the second full-length from black metal upstarts Deafheaven, landed on numerous prominent “Best of 2013” lists, and according to Metacritic, garnered positive reviews more consistently than any other record of last year. But it would be a mistake to reduce its achievement to critical kudos. Those of us residing outside the devoted, sometimes obsessive head-banger community have not been conditioned to take metal seriously. Sure, we’ll enjoy a hearty giggle after a giant alien phallus ejaculates fake blood all over us at a GWAR concert, but on the ride home, we won’t talk about Oderus Urungus’s songcraft and sonic vision. We will talk about the fake blood. When mainstream or indie tourists visit the metal scene, for the most part, the only thing we talk about is fake blood and comparable theatrics. Generally, it doesn’t occur to us to think of metal as an artform — that something defined by coarseness and sublime fury has the potential to be beautiful. More

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Lauryn Hill has burned us. Can we forgive her again?
Music

The pendulum of publicity that looms over the head of Ms. Lauryn Hill hardly ever swings in her favor. Fellow Fugee Wyclef Jean dubbed the songstress nothing short of a man-eating Jezebel in his autobiography “Purpose,” released late last year. Hill’s reputation as a once dazzling performer has been obliterated amidst reports of tardiness and lackluster energy, and her reputation took a big hit when she failed to pay taxes on the nearly $2 million she earned between 2005 and 2007 (she justified her fiscal mishandling as a side effect of the need to protect her art through self-imposed exile). This ultimately led to a three-month stint in federal prison, and her release was enough to prompt a solo tour that wraps up at the end of this month. As she gears up to play Wednesday at Royale, does Lauryn Hill once again have what it takes to win people over with nothing but her talent? More