Wednesday, July 31, 2002

is it wrong that I think the dell guy is hot?

I just heard a segue I never could've imagined, or fathomed, had I not heard it myself (on wjhs): norah jones' "don't know why" straight into bowie's "rebel rebel." it's things like this that make life worth living, yo.

new/ish and great.

mcalmont & butler, "falling"
apparently, after their first album in '95, david mcalmont and bernard butler (ex-suede) grew to loathe each other, so they broke their musical partnership. shame, really, as phenomenally spector-over-the-top the music was. well, for whatever reason, they're back, like they never left. hallelujah! lush, lush waterfalls of strings, bernard's t(w)angy guitar (he sounds more like marr with each year), and that voice, that thing of beauty that is david mcalmont's pipes, soaring above the cities, nearly into the ether, like a homosexual angel.

dirty vegas, "7am"/dirty vegas live
saw this bunch of blokes opening for moby last week, and they knocked me on my ass. like a new order/underworld combo platter (the pop hooks and songwriting of the former, the gorgeous complexities of the latter), they rocked and grooved and damned near swooned, cutting it live like more 'dance music' has to if it's ever to establish that mythical beachhead in the yew-ess. you know the single, "days go by" by now, but don't think of them has "that song from the mitsubishi commerical," for they cut much deeper. as if to purposefully throw the audience's expectations, dv started the single acoustically -- that's right, one voice and one acoustic guitar -- before diving headfirst into its shag carpeting textures. "7am"'s the knockout punch, however, instantly derivative of u'world while marrying their vision to jolly rancher-sweet pop, but with a nearly bitter twist (think of it as a gin chaser). if you're on the west coast of the usa, do NOT miss them once moby picks up his solo dates again after area:two's completion.

elvis vs jxl, "a little less conversation"
something I forgot to mention about this yesterday: the line "all this conversation ain't satisfactioning me. elvis creates a new word, and the world (kinda) notices 34 years later. "satisfactioning" = genius!

beth orton, "concrete sky"
don't tell my heart, my achy breaky heart, beth. you either, ryan.

fight the power!
...or this may be the future. call your congressmen! (here's all the pertinent congressional contact info -- does this make me a public service?)

jen is a bitch, and she'd love it if you'd say so. her blog kicks ass, and not just because I'm featured on it. be sure to check out the entry dated 7/31/02, 138pm, for a prime example of my genius.

yesterday I went over 'phat disc july 2002 II'; today it's volume I's turn. same premise applies: it's a collection of what-I'm-listening-to-right-now. shall we begin?

oasis kicks off the disc with "stop crying your heart out," a/k/a "the best similarly string-laden ballad we've done since wonderwall." not quite epic, but still nice and big. oasis, of course, got the kind of reviews in '94 that flaming lips get nowadays. I don't think the lips are worth all the accolades they're incessantly showered with, but they're awfully damn good, especially in the way(s) they mix psychedelia with electronic touches and pure pop melodies. "one more robot" is a prime example; I'd argue it's 'yoshimi''s "race for the prize" (though not quite on the same level). and wayne coyne has a bizarrely beautiful voice. the segue from the lips into tweet's "call me" is surprisingly good, as is tweet's full-length, 'southern hummingbird.' I don't get all the unfair comparisons with the dreadfully bland ashanti; think india.arie produced by missy and timbaland. and let's hear it for r-and-b on acoustic guitars! "call me" is somewhat akin to "oops (oh my)" in that it's not all that representative of the album, but clearly a more radio-friendly track (if "smoking cigarettes" is a hit, I might just eat a Camel). delightfully smutty, all about being a chick on the side, and my favorite line is the one where tweet croons "I'll be sure to meet you with no panties on" -- because it would take too long to remove them?!

in the vast landscape that is WinMX, my roomie recently found something called the "kinky disco mix" of culture club's "do you really want to hurt me?" I don't think it's the same as the quivver white-label mix that circulated a couple years back; doesn't sound that crap-trancey. in fact, it's a nice, subtle mix, with some keyboard squiggles and gentle chords, nothing too thumpa-thumpa. winmx, btw, is the rockingest file-sharing network. fuck the riaa, rip the system, download and burn as much as you can until it's illegal. and then keep doing it.but I digress. track 5 is another one of those I've-been-listening-to-(and enjoying, natch)-the-"adult standards"-station-too-much songs: eddie rabbitt's "suspicions." I cannot defend it in any way. I have a a problem, and I need help. "my name is thomas, and I like eddie rabbitt songs..."

sonic youth's new lp, 'murray street,' is worthy of any accolade you can throw at it (and please read one of the most idiotic pieces of steaming poo ever passed off as music journalism and the letters which came in response to said article, from the 'voice'). it reminds these ears of nothing so much as 'daydream nation' (of course, I've been a fan since '86, so what do I know?) in its textures and forms: "karen revisited" is a longer, spacier "teenage riot," and that's a good thing. how is it that lee usually gets one song per album, and it's damned near always a really good one?

"where would you be," martina mcbride's latest single, got its first airing during cmt's flameworth video music awards, and martina gave a bravura performance, all soaring vocals and grand orchestration, without sounding even close to celine-ish. divine balladry from one of country's purest singers. "rock the party" is the other pink boot I'm in love with (mentioned below); ultra 396 mashed pink's "party" with, wait for it, "rock the casbah."

the best film I've seen in '02 is unquestionably 'y tu mama tambien.' the soundtrack to this sexy, witty mexican teenage road movie (kinda like bill & ted meet proust) is gorgeously eclectic, containing everything from zappa to eagle-eye fucking cherry. the real gem, though, is cafe' tacuba's "insomnio." I don't understand the words, and I don't care, when the music is this splendid a spew of latin rock-edged pop. this is, absurdly, followed by the best non-geto boys single scarface has made this side of "i never seen a man cry, but i seen a man die": his comeback attempt (I say attempt since it stiffed), "guess who's back." featuring jay-z and beanie siegel, it sounds like 'face is cameoing on his own single! so non-southern he should give up his presidency of defjam south immediately, this is the best jay-z track of '02, and it sounds like it.

"weak become heroes" is uk garage wonderboy mike skinner's ode to clubland. known professionally as the streets, he's made the first low-fi garage album (c'mon, it totally sounds like lou barlow with a sampler!), and it's become one of those records that rock crits who don't like dance music like. don't let that scare you off. skinner's poetry is damned fine, and the music ain't too bad either, but it's ashely beedle's remix which expands and liberates "weak" to become the club anthem it aches to be. all plush surfaces where only skittery beats snaked before, a triumph. climie fisher is more mid-to-late-'80s british pop (not britpop), chewy and taffy-like.

I wish, I wish, I wish someone would explain to me why sophie ellis-bextor isn't as big as kylie minogue. maybe she just needs time. sophie, formerly in a crap uk indie band and the singer on spiller's incandescent "groovejet" 2 summers ago, went solo late last night with the 'murder on the dancefloor' lp. like kylie's 'fever,' it's near-perfect, and perfectly vapid, dance-pop of the highest order. "get over you" is another typically perky-yet-slyly-snide single. moony might be as big as sophie in a few years' time; "dove" certainly makes a good case for her abilities to be the next massive dance-pop queen. not to mention it's loaded with little surprises (chord and time changes, vocal swoops and dips) you don't expect to find therein. ace. "tight connection to my heart" = one of dylan's most underrated songs ever. yeah, it's on a fair-to-middling album from 1985, but it's the lead track, fer petesake! great opening like, too: "I said I'd move fast/but I couldn't with you around my neck." produced, not too heavy-handedly, by david a. stewart. which brings us to track 17, monica's comeback single, "all eyez on me," a "p.y.t."-sampling piece of standard r-and-b that worsens upon each listen. I'm now sorry I added it to this disc, and I like monica's sass, but she just can't survive the gloopy production of the increasingly vile jermaine dupri.

and that's that disc. questions, comments, concerns, complaints? you know what to do.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

one final note before bed/sleep: no matter what the gazzer says, I know nothing about transvestite rodeos. but if you do, share your knowledge with me and I'll be sure to add it to the blog.

in a yahoo! messenger chat, my best friend stumpy just used the word "man-ho." this is why he is the coolest person I know. and the funniest.

have I mentioned how much (if you like intelligent rock music, and I'll grant you there are a few exceptions in the mix, but not many) WJHS fucking rules? this station plays gang of four's "man in uniform"! and you can listen 24/7. and it's a station run by high school students in columbia city, indiana!! absosmurfly fantastic. all you need is realplayer (which I normally dislike, but for this, it's worth it). go!

damn, I'm tired! just back from the b's/blondie show (and a stop for taco bell) at midnight. thoughts and observations:

1) it was really fucking hot. as of 11pm, it was 84 degrees, heat index 92. that's the coolest it's been all day. we sweltered.

2) the b's surprised me; they were much better live than I expected. the music was a lot punchier. and keith strickland (guitar) is hotter now than he was in their heyday: aging suits him; he looks more like a man now than an overgrown boy. fred, cindy and kate are same as it ever was. they opened with "whammy kiss," which thrilled me, but I missed "girl from ipanema goes to greenland." and who knew "is that you mo-dean?" had become such a live favorite? the finale, of course, was an ever-so-slightly overcooked "rock lobster."

3) blondie were a bit disappointing, largely due to the fact that debbie harry's "too cool for school" act cuts both ways. it gives her a healthy veneer of rock goddess-ness, sure, but also can be a bit offputting, a little too "I'm not really here for you, kids; I'm doing this for ME." unfortunately, that's largely how debbie came across tonight. like the applause and screams were interrupting her. and starting with two new (recent) songs, when, let's face it, 95% of the crowd is there for the '78-'81 years, is offputting as well. debbie didn't really seem involved until the encore, which consisted of (no surprises) "rapture" (excellent) and "heart of glass" (solid, with fine audience participation). at least they did "hangin' on the telephone."

and, hey, my roomie michael paid for my ticket, so I really can't complain too damn much. :)

going to the B-52's/blondie concert tonight in virginia beach. should be very hot, and I don't mean that figuratively: heat indeces have been above 100 most of the day. maybe debbie harry will sweat on me. more on the show later tonight.

also forthcoming: extended pieces on the power and the glory of masters at work, how my being gay affects (or doesn't) my musical tastes, and talk about the topography of my adopted home.

SUSHI! my buddy steven (jen's husband) took me to domo, a local sushi bar, for lunch, and I chowed down on the sushi-deluxe platter, along with some tasty miso soup and yaki soba. in honor of gaz, here's the rundown:
6 california rolls (very good for what they are)
2 sake (salmon) (good as always)
2 maguro (tuna) (would've been happier with the fatty tuna, I think)
1 hamachi (yellowfin)
1 tako (octopus) (very chewy, but kinda bland)
1 unagi (freshwater eel) (in a kind of teriyaki marinade, very tasty, kinda like chicken)
1 tai (red snapper) (flavorless)
1 ika (squid) (surprisingly sweet and tender -- my favorite)
1 hirame (halibut) (yummy)
I 'heart' good sushi, and this was damned good sushi. if you're ever in/around norfolk, va, domo is at 273 granby st in downtown norfolk.

ok, back to 'phat disc july 2002 II,' picking up with athlete, one of a myriad of hot!! new!! uk bands championed by the weeklies (actually, nme's the only one left, innit?) for about a month apiece, before the inevitable backlash ("they're too fookin' pop," "sellouts!," "I reckon I liked 'em better when no-one else did," ad infinitum). the track is their recent single "you got the style," and it's got an almost-vaguely-baggy-cum-madchester-in-the-'00s feel to it (anyone remember what the farm were like before all the beat-beat-beats, like on their one song which did not suck [and I don't mean fookin' "groovy train," neither]?). it's a lovely shuffle of a song. on to cassius featuring jocelyn brown, then. "i'm a woman" begins, in its single edit, with an absurd, squealing blast of electric guitar (as if to say, take that, daft punk!) before moving into a more expected spitting beat with some jazzy piano on top, and of course the ever-reliable vocals of ms. brown, a true diva and giant(ess?). as far as the vocals go, they're typically dance music-vapid: think a slightly retweaked version of helen reddy. yes, not so good. but the music is perky enough.

in case I didn't mention it, this disc was sequenced entirely at random. which means that cassius is followed by dixie chicks' "long time gone," one of the best singles of '02, hands down. and before you going on about them hopping on the 'o brother' bandwagon, remember that these chicks have always been country to the core. hell, they got fiddles back on country radio, didn't they? in fast songs, no less. but anyhow, this song (and reportedly, the entirety of 'home,' out 8/27) is completely acoustic, which is so refreshing (can't wait to hear what they do with the mac's "landslide" -- betcha it's better than what billy c. did with it, and I like his version); the lyrics are all about making it in nashville, and how country kinda sucks these days ("they sound tired but they don't sound Haggard/they've got money but they don't have Cash," get it?). so, so good. and there's an accordian on it! what more do you people want? another dolt bootleg follows: "without glamour," which is the inimitable (and endlessly, gloriously flexible) "without me" over top of sheila e's "the glamorous life." it works a trick. it doesn't hurt that no acapella is better-suited to boots and mashups than mr. shady's, and that "glamorous" is my #11 song of the '80s, either. yum. "sweetheart," by franke and the knockouts, is a simple, sweet slice of radio-ready one-hitdom from '81. and then it's another "without me" bootie, this one by jjrob, which I've titled "aerodynamic me," seeing as how it's mashed with daft punk. I think nearly any acapella would sound good on top of "aerodynamic." eminem just sounds better than most there.

kelly osbourne is a novelty, so get over it. the vocoder tricks on "papa don't preach" are sloppier than cher's on "believe," and not nearly so amusing: here, they just seem to attempt to cover for a not-so-strong singing voice (did anyone else notice that she was lip-synching with a live band at the mtv movie awards?). at least she's cheeky, and not the churl her bro jack seems to be. "addictive," by truth hurts, almost got lost for me, since I'm going through a voluntary blackout of r-and-b radio. no, I don't need to hear another song by ja rule, or p. diddy, or please-god-tell-me-it's-not-another-ashanti-song. if that means I catch less of the diamonds in the proverbial rough than usual, ah well. luckily, I caught "addictive" while channel-surfing one day, and it really is truth in advertising. I find the production (by dj fucking quik of all people!) better than most of dre's work in the last year (that hindi groove gets me every time), and truth hurts' singing just sounds dirty, lascivious, nasty-but-not-filthy. rakim is always a welcome addition, of course.

where are we, track 16? oh, yes, noah paley. this guy is a find-and-a-half. I discovered him vis-a-vis a website for a fiddle combo on ocracoke island, nc, and then via (highly recommended if that's your sort of thing). he's as simple as they come, a singer-songwriter largely accompanied by his own acoustic guitar, but his songs are so genuine, so interesting (the love songs not so much, the story songs even better than good). "into the west" is from his latest album, the title of which escapes me at the moment. look for him on underworld's "two months off" follows, and is nothing but a fucking corker. as pete tong says, it goes off. a return to the more chugging, tubthumping sound of 'second toughest in the infants' and "born slippy (nuxx)" to these ears, and darren emerson's absence isn't even noticed. quality tech-house just like you like it. "miss lucifer" is primal scream singing about sex and politics, which is better than you might think; the sound isn't all that far evolved from that of 'xtrmntr,' which means it rips your head off. the world is better for having bobby gillespie in it, even if he is a dick. I close the disc with two softy slowies, norah jones first off. if you like sultry, diana krall-esque vocals and tinkly pianos and brushed snares, you'll love it. if not, you might be surprised anyway, as seductive as "don't know why" comes across. not to mention that it's nice to see whiteys not named eminem on bet. the willie/lee ann duet "mendocino county line" is soaring, graceful, strong, sturdy, and everything a good country song should be, complete with a stunning b-and-w vid by mark seliger ('member "jeremy"?). twangy w/o being western swing, tangy w/o being nasty, heartfelt w/o goo, this is the real deal, and still my favorite single of 2002 thus far. who's gonna step up and beat it?

traded out '45 rpm' for 'phat disc july 2002 II,' a disc I burned of current faves (both current and not). starts with curiousity killed the cat's "misfit," one of the great lost pop singles of the '80s (they were british, no one in the US cared, you know the drill. ibid. almost anything by level 42, johnny hates jazz, "misfit" segues into "misfit party," a boot by dolt mixing curiousity with pink's "get the party started." I've found, to my fascination, that the only way that her song and shakira's "whenever, wherever" (almost as equally vile in their original forms) become palatable is in bootleg form. ben liebrand has done a gorgeous mashup of shakira with the bee gees' "stayin' alive" (with a little brit thrown in for good measure); there's another nice pink bootie mashed with "rock the casbah." which goes to show, I guess, that pink and shakira themselves are not intrinsically bad (though pink irritates every fucking atom of my being); it's their backing tracks which are.

we move on to one of the most purely joyous records of the year, akin to "the rockafeller skank" in '98: elvis vs jxl's "a little less conversation." it's like a '68 camaro with a souped-up engine and bangin' CD sound system, new and improved, updated, yet still essentially the same car. and this "conversation" is one helluva people-mover, even if it's not what I'd call a dance track in the strictest sense. I have reverse burnout with this song -- the more I hear it, the more I love it. track 4 is johnny hates jazz's "I don't wanna be a hero": gorgeous, fluffy, burnished pop (see curiousity killed the cat). amerie's "why don't we fall in love" follows, one that reminds me of sunshine anderson's smash from last summer, a perfect summery-smooth r-and-b hit which is nothing but so much feel-good. and as my girl t(r)ina says, we don't care if we never hear from amerie again; she's done enough.

a pair of "boy"s follow in slots six and seven: tim mcgraw's "angel boy" and andrew gold's "lonely boy." they fit together better than you might think, particularly with their shared theme of angst-y alienation and questioning one's place (as a boy?) on this mortal coil (at least, situationally speaking). "angel" is the first song of tim's I've ever truly loved (let alone liked), and oddly, I think it's because it's more polished than usual, so much so that it ceases to be a country song and is really more mellencamp-ish than anything (check that soaring guitar solo that closes the track). oh, and btw: tim mcgraw quite possibly is the sexiest man alive. or at least sexiest celebrity. I hate faith hill. andrew gold, on the other hand -- hell, I couldn't even pick him out of a lineup. that may be in part due to the fact that "lonely" is over 20 years old (25?), but it's one of those verging-on-easy-listening slick el lay poptracks from the late '70s that just kills me (the same way boz scaggs' "lowdown" does). plus, the lyrics, are sad, which I'm a sucker for, as long as they're not jerk-your-chain sad. track 8, etc. after I do some more work.

my yahoo! profile -- includes a lovely photo of me and best friend jeffy. gaz's website is below; it features some less lovely pics of me.

respect to: michelangelo matos' "you can't wear nail polish to a surgery," nate patrin's "hipster detritus," and matos and patrin are, simply, two of the best damn writers writing about music (and such) right now. is just good love. I'm at work at the moment, listening to the the's '45 rpm,' which is a lovingly-put-together and quite clever collection of matt johnson-and-co's singles output. now I do think that 'infected' and 'mind bomb' could've been more fully represented (matt, the new tracks are nice, but not your greatest work, sorry), but the "12" mixes" bonus disc pert-near makes up for that. essentially, those mixes are longer and have some added bleeps and blips, which somehow manage to enhance the damn songs. and say what you will about johnson, he's without question one of the better lyricists of the '80s: not quite on morrissey's level, say, but I'd put him above mould and westerberg (yeah, I said it).

whoomp, here it is: my blog. and my first entry in my first blog, natch. basics: email me whenever you want. and thanks to gaz for the nickname. let's roll, beeyatches!

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