Thursday, October 31, 2002


what'd I tell you? arizona received 27 of a possible 31 first-place votes, and tops the preseason espn/usa today top 25 coaches poll. now I'll grin smugly, at least until someone beats lute's boys.

I'll get back to blogging about "pre-millenial soul," I promise (especially as I get ready to start piecing together its companion, "post-millenial soul"). but I've embarked on a new project. while perusing past cma award winners at, I decided that I should put together a set (two discs, it turns out, for 35 winners) of the cma single of the year winners, to see if it gives a good representation of the last 35 years of country music. you'll know soon.

in the "this is odd" department: not only has cmt added bruce springsteen's "lonesome day" video as a 'hot shot,' it's already climbed to #1 on cmt's 'great eight'. but what's really odd is how it doesn't sound out of place with shania, toby, and leann (cledus t. judd excepted).

also at today: chet flippo nails it yet again, this time on the cma awards. I'm beginning to seriously think that flippo's the christgau of country music.

for some reason, the volumes of "pre-millenial soul" I made after the turn into 2k got a lot better. [and sorry I didn't get 'em all done yesterday as promised; my roommate made salisbury steaks and homemade mashed potatoes last night. a guy's gotta eat.] to wit...

pre-millenial soul. 3. future shock.
side a
1. maw presents a tribute to fela, "expensive" - fela's "expensive shit" remade (not remixed) by the masters, funkier than collard greens.
2. dmx, "what's my name" - what! what! grrr.
3. s.o.s. band, "just be good to me" - proof that drum machines are soulful, too.
4. billie holiday, "strange fruit" - the queen of pain.
5. michael moog, "that sound (extended vocal mix)" - strings-y like disco, on-point like mj, current like now. makes a suprisingly good segue with billie, too.
6. prince, "the greatest romance ever sold (jason nevins vocal mix)" - we all make mistakes.

side b
1. snoop dogg, "real g's"/2pac, "I get around" (from the spank buddah show, wgci chicago) - the snoop is masterful, from one of funk flex's records: snoop freestyling over a series of biggie's beats. the 'pac is simply classic.
2. luther vandross, "never too much" - after barry, more babies per record have been made to his music than anyone else's. prime example why right here. soaring, carefree, like only the early '80s were.
3. gus gus, "vip (francois k mix)" - return to the paradise garage on gossamer wings.
4. me'shell ndegeocello, "untitled" - droppin' funky love science.
5. herbie hancock, "you've got it bad girl" - a perfect jazz (not smooth-jazz) take on a stevie classic by a man who's earned the right.
6. foday musa suso, title unknown (track 8 from jali kunda) - serious pan-atlantic shit, made even better with laswell's assistance. instruments I don't know the names of intertwine with deep atmospherics.
7. u2, "the unforgettable fire" - another surprisingly nice segue, into atmospherics of the eno variety paired with guitar lines reminding me of the title of wire's a bell is a cup until it is struck.

this is probably the most out-there volume of the series, and accordingly my favorite in many ways. weird choices rub up against each other like horned-up twentysomethings in a packed club, creating friction in unexpected ways, like the punch was spiked.

the new ish of espn the magazine has the full, first-person account of esara tuaolo's coming out. has the full article, plus a number of good sidebars. the print mag, though, has the great cover headline: "big, tough, gay." who's next?

damn, what a not-great day for hip-hop: first jmj's passing, and now I discover that goodie mob's broken up. damn. I was never a huge fan of the foursome, but always respected and appreciated what they were doing. at least we can expect more good solo stuff from cee-lo.

"jam master jay cuts so hard." rest in peace, jay.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

neal pollack's site doesn't make it any clearer who he is (I think he's a writer in the vaguely dave eggars kind of vein), but he's pretty damned hot.

is there a more perfect song than marvin gaye's "when did you stop loving me, when did I stop loving you"?

pre-millenial soul. 2.
side a
1. jay-z featuring mary j. blige, "can't knock the hustle" - back when jigga still sounded hungry.
2. unkle featuring thom yorke, "rabbit in your headlights" - dj shadow soundtracks thom's plantive cry.
3. rufus & chaka khan, "ain't nobody" - rufus and chaka at their hottest.
4. r. kelly, "when a woman's fed up" - you switch to teenagers? ick.
5. george benson, "love ballad" - soaring guitar and vocal lines, delicate yet sturdy.
6. madonna, "bad girl (extended version)" - madonna all soft & quiet.
7. janet featuring blackstreet, "I get lonely (tnt remix)" - good, but why this version? this tape is too ballad-heavy.
8. neil young, "war of man" - neil is the personification of white-boy soul.
9. everything but the girl, "missing" - and why so many sad songs?

side b
1. lauryn hill, "ex-factor" - sad, ballad, but it hurts so so good.
2. george michael, "hard day" - perfect dance track, all about the whining synthesizers.
3. missy elliot featuring big boi and nicole, "all n my grill" - hip-hop two (not 2)-stepping.
4. common sense, "resurrection (extra p. remix)" - "come on y'all, get live get down, common sense is in your town."
5. bebe winans, "thank you" - masters at work get their praise on.
6. culture club, "time (clock of the heart)" - or maybe boy george was the personification of white-boy soul...
7. busta rhymes featuring ol' dirty bastard, "woo-hah!! got you all in check (the world wide remix)" - when animals attack.
8. mariah carey featuring mase and the lox, "honey (the bad boy remix)" - well, I still like the original.
9. guy, "dancin'" - apparently I liked this song for about the 5 minutes it took to mistakenly put it on this tape. bleh.
10. basement jaxx, "bingo bango" - sex/wax.

of the entire series, this is my least favorite of the tapes. too many obvious choices, and not enough diversity. but wait, it gets better: big daddy kane and fiona apple back-to-back! getz/gilberto! foday musa suso! the world famous supreme team! and... u2! [trust me on this one.]

division-I schools aren't the only ones who know how to play - and love - football, folks. great story from usa today on college football, montana-style.

I don't love all of the amazon links, but blogcritics has lots of appallingly fine writing and opinion.

updated 12:50pm
last night, I downloaded some fela, along with some miles, trane, and ornette. [side note I came up with in the shower this a.m.: the mt. rushmore of funk is james brown, george clinton, fela kuti, and prince. any questions? I didn't think so.] which got me thinking about a new series of mixes I keep bandying about, to be titled "post-millenial soul." this'd be a companion to a series of mixtapes I made on the cusp of the millenium (2000, whatever), "pre-millenial soul" (begun 11/04/99, completed 03/01/2000). it's one of my favorite mix projects, covering the diaspora of soul in all its guises. and this is the big tent version, y'all understand? let me break down for you again...

pre-millenial soul.
side a
1. roots featuring jazzy jeff, "the next movement" - hip-hop ne plus ultra.
2. prince, "I could never take the place of your man" - tight as hell, and then he loosens it up with that guitar solo near the end.
3. guy, "teddy's jam 2" - machine-funk back before the neptunes and timbaland. teddy drew the blueprint.
4. daft punk, "around the world (mellow mix)" - a french-puerto rican disco-funk soundclash, all smoothed out.
5. roxy music, "more than this" - go, whiteboy, go, whiteboy, go. as quiet storm as anything by luther v.
6. mary j. blige, "my life" - the template for female balladry in the '90s.
7. d'angelo, "devil's pie" - nice 'n nasty.
8. eurythmics, "for the love of big brother" - they have placed a chill in your heart.
9. 2pac, "so many tears" - when thugs cry.

side b
1. lauryn hill & bob marley, "turn your lights down low" - watering the family tree.
2. neneh cherry, "buddy x" - one of the most supple talents of the '90s, so underappreciated.
3. new radicals, "someday we'll know" - a sad, slow ballad pumped full of blue-eyed soul.
4. notorious b.i.g., "everyday struggle" - biggie's best lyrics ever, paired with a '70s (jazz fusion?) sample that sounds like it's even better since it's (maybe) played at the wrong speed.
5. michael jackson, "off the wall" - remember when?
6. roy ayers, "everybody loves the sunshine (live)" - xylophones are soulful, too.
7. lisa stansfield, "all woman" - pain with the necessary final uplift.
8. q-tip, "vivrant thing" - funky see, funky do.
9. barry white, "come on" - baby-makin' music.
10. scritti politti, "absolute (version)" - white art-schoolers get reggaefied and croon away.

what I like most about this series is precisely its "big tent" approach, much like tim's recent mix which he blogged on skykicking. soul really is everything from barry white to new radicals (sometimes) to 2pac. soul has nothing to do with skin color; it's about what you're conveying in your music. bumping mary j. up against bryan f., I think, recontextualizes and enhances them both. I wasn't going for a specific flow here, just to show and exult in the beauty of soul in all its forms. how'd I do?

will post the other volumes in the series (five in all) over the course of the day.

today's going to be a good one, despite the nasty rain and wind. I know this because I started my day with a nice email from mr. waking ear. thanks, phantroll.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

revelation time: fela kuti was the motherfucking bomb. let me put it this way: the man funked harder than james brown and george clinton. of course, since I do so much of this back-asswards, I came to this realization via fela's son femi kuti (whose own band, positive energy, is pretty damned tight, if occasionally too polite), and the new fela tribute, red hot + riot. yup, the red hot organization is still around, still doing important work, and still making damned good records (you can see all of them here). d'angelo, macy gray, res, common, kelis, talib kweli, and me'shell ndegeocello are among those making appearances. uncut funk from where it all began, africa (in fela's case, nigeria). so I start downloading some tracks from the best best of fela kuti (2000), and they are absolutely shit-hot. fela invented afrobeat. he's a man among men. buy everything by him you can find (mca reissued most of his records as two-for-ones in the last two years). now.

james masterton is the uk's answer to fred bronson. why aren't they famous? oh, um, yeah, nevermind. [regardless, I adore them both and don't go a week without reading either of 'em.]

via tmftml, this piece from the washington post on the death of cassettes. sob.

lyric of the day: "the night was as hot as a coal-burnin' stove/we were cookin' with gas." - tim mcgraw, "red rag top" (tim mcgraw and the dancehall doctors, curb 2002)

I've been listening to a lot of bluegrass music this year. some of it, traditionalists wouldn't call bluegrass (there's a great article at ibluegrass titled "the future of bluegrass" that's worth reading). but what I don't get is, who fucking cares?! it's like the old independent-artist-signs-to-major-and-"sells-out" debate; it's completely irrelevant. if listening to the nitty gritty dirt band, or dolly parton's recent return to blue grass, or nickel creek, gets me into other artists (like flatt & scruggs, or ralph stanley), isn't that a good thing? anyway, I digress. it all started for me, like it has for so many, with the o brother, where art thou? soundtrack, which was totally a word-of-mouth thing (one friend buys it, tells another, who told me that I had to get it, and I did). then I saw nickel creek's "when you come back down" on cmt (which, by the way, is likely the biggest supporter of bluegrass music in the u.s.), and bought their first album. and so on.

bluegrass was also my 'gateway drug' back into country music. yeah, a lot of it's overproduced nashville poo, but there's also more good stuff coming from the nashville crowd now than there has in years (to wit: keith urban, tim mcgraw's new stuff, martina mcbride, dixie chicks, et cetera). and the vets, getting love from cmt if not from dumb, dumb "hot country" radio, are firing on all cylinders (willie, dolly, and merle, take some bows).

more about cmt: besides being the only national music channel left that still plays videos, their playlist continues to amaze. earlier this year, a video from merle haggard's western swing album - a cover of a lefty frizzell song, for pete's sake! - made their top 5. so did earl scruggs' all-star jam on "foggy mountain breakdown." and these videos are getting played back-to-back with country heartthrobs like kenny (chesney) and shania (no last name needed). kasey chambers, patty griffin, and steve earle all get love from the channel, too. and just last week, while channel-surfing, I caught, immediately following shania's latest, martina mcbride's "independence day." from 1994. think about it this way: picture mtv following nelly or avril lavigne with soundgarden's "black hole sun" or a coolio video. understand what I'm saying? it's ridiculous to some, and cmt's all the better for it. cmt is my favorite cable channel.

about a month after (last year's) 9/11, jeffy and I were talking about how our music listening had changed immediately following the horror. I wasn't surprised that he'd veered more towards singer-songwriters; I think he was a little surprised that I returned to country: mostly classics from george and tammy to garth and the chicks. I told him it was because country (and certainly bluegrass) is inherently american music, moreso than even jazz or hiphop, I'd say. and the best of it is honest. country tells stories, interesting ones, and generally tells them well. yeah, country has its (more than) fair share of drinkin' and cheatin' songs, but also has "d-i-v-o-r-c-e" and "independence day." the best country - often the simplest - hits me right in the solar plexus, and makes me feel good more than a lot of the other music I love (I wasn't exactly running to my public enemy or smiths records post-9/11). country music is like country fried steak and mashed potatoes; it's damned fine comfort food. and it looks like it'll play a big role in my best of 2002 list in a couple months' time. but we'll get there when we get there.

weekend wrap-up: had a good time in d.c. didn't bowl so well (1030 scratch score for 9 games, only hit my average once), but d.c.'s a very fun city (if confusing as hell to get around by car). and dupont circle rocks.

I'm back, and so is men's college basketball, the greatest sport there is. started their preview yesterday. time to catch up.

Friday, October 25, 2002

they're making a film of steve martin's novella shopgirl? joy!

I don't know much of robbie fulks' music, but am going to investigate it, just because of the fun he's having at ryan "asshole" adams' expense. ryan's talented and all - "new york, new york" is a great single" - but just seems like a real dick. it's called a sense of humor, ryan.

not only did I not know that the uk charts have their own official site (thanks to xrrf for the tip), but you can vote for up to 50 of your favorite uk #1s of the last 50 years. great fun/great timewaster - especially on a friday. does fred bronson know about this?

lyric of the day: "you're a fine piece of real estate, and I'm gonna get me some land." - shania twain, "I'm gonna getcha good!" (up!, mercury 2002)

Thursday, October 24, 2002

sporting life: odds 'n ends.

+notre dame, whom I hate (for the record) but can't help but respect this season, will beat florida state saturday. and if I'm wrong, then I'm wrong. but how can you give coach of the year to anyone but tyrone willingham?
+there's a world series going on?
+why does anything michael jordan does - off the court - still make news? I don't care who he sleeps with, really, or how much money he's paying her.
+another gay ex-nfl-er has come out of the closet.
+highschool basketball's about to start again in indiana! yay!
+until someone does it, arizona's the team to beat in (men's) college basketball this season.

if go home productions' "backstab me one more time" is a bootleg, does that make angie stone's "wish I didn't miss you" a half-boot?

more sites full of music (et cetera) writing to visit: southsidecallbox has really, really good writing (this month, reviews of royskopp and chicago - yes, chicago!). pitchfork talks about lots of bands I've never even friggin' heard of (and some I have). but maybe you've heard of 'em, so enjoy.

also, simon reynolds finally has his own blog. he hasn't posted much yet, but let's think good thoughts.

heading to dc for a 3-day weekend, so no blogging from friday p.m. - monday p.m. but I promise some good stuff when I return.

cranky old tom petty is really, really cranky.

p.s. that's a good thing.

does anyone else think that the instrumentation on justin timberlake's "like I love you," especially the cracking snare drum, sounds just like a n.e.r.d. track? [and yes, I know that n.e.r.d. = neptunes, but their productions for other artists don't usually sound this, well, live.]

six of the top seven songs on the billboard hot 100 this week, including the entire top 4, are hip-hop: selections by nelly, eminem, cam'ron, missy elliot, eve, and l.l. cool j. and some of 'em are even worth a damn.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

go home productions have fookin' done it again (and yes, I know I'm late in noting these)! their 2 britney boots - one fairly new and one just new-to-me - are perfect. the titles may be a bit dodgy - I'd rename "I'm a slave for daft britney" as "voyager slave," or something similar - tho' "backstab me one more time" is actually quite clever. did I just refute myself? anyway, the former is a mash of brit's "I'm a slave 4 u" with daft punk's "voyager," obviously enough. as "voyager"'s already my second-fave track off discovery (see below), I was very curious, and the mix is amazing; recontextualized like this, it sounds like daft wrote "voyager" specifically for brit to sing atop. "backstab" is just as good, if not better. never would I've imagined an o'jays/brit collabo, but it works a charm. download them both NOW!

new!: "current reading," to your left. I'm a media/popculture/information junkie, what can I say?

update: janis ian has also written two other articles on the record industry and free downloads. they're posted on her website.

I "heart" missy elliot.

who knew time could be so hypnotic? [link from matos.]

janis ian writes an op-ed piece for usa today, exposing the riaa as a bunch of liars and snakes (as if we didn't already know, but it's still nice to hear from an artist). thanks to xrrf for the link.

a good way to jump-start a wednesday (or any day): ornette coleman's in all languages. I'd been curious about this album for years, starting about 1990 or so when I picked up christgau's record guide: the '80s. jazz was, 12 years ago, something I liked in doses, especially miles (maybe I was precocious, but I got the columbia years: 1955-1985 from my record club when I was 16). but I was blown away by the sheer magnitude of christgau's enthusiasm for ornette (when you use phrases like "natural iconoclasm and indefatigable lyricism," you tend to get my attention). never got around to picking any of his records up, though. then, sometime in the mid-'90s, when I was music director at my (second) college radio station (wbke, manchester college, north manchester indiana. I'd link to their website but it hasn't been updated in over a year and is, frankly, pretty sad), we were getting service from verve records, and they up and reissued in all languages. the day I opened the mail and saw ornette looking back at me, I nearly started drooling. this was the album I'd heard so much about, yet never heard. finally!

and christgau's right; this is one mofo of an album, music so tuneful and lyrical that only pigfuckers could dislike it. 10 tracks with ornette's original quartet (cherry-haden-higgins), and another 13 with prime time (taking ornette's music into a different space, if not outer). completely non-stuffy (I can't imagine wynton playing this at home, speaking of pigfuckers), it's loose and free-flowing, funked-up and showing its slip, and never short of a revelation. I play this disc for friends who say "I don't like jazz." if they're got half as opn a mind as I'd hope, they usually love it. I hear different things every time, and I've been loving this album for seven years or so. tone dialing, recorded with prime time, is awfully good, too, but this is the gem of gems. there's no jazz record in my collection - not even 'trane - I play more, or with more gusto, or more joy.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

just saw the video for nirvana's "you know you're right" - and it succeeds where posthumous videos usually fail. why? 'cause a lot of it is just kurt, chris and dave fuckin' shit up. and I think that's how they should be remembered, as three motherfuckers who rocked like nobody's business, wrote some amazing songs (well, kurt), and fucked shit up, god love 'em. the song's really grown on me, too - I think in large part due to the way kurt sings "I knew it would come to this." I don't wanna get a catch in my throat, but I almost do. (almost forgot: thanks to waking ear for the link.)

excellent piece from usa today on the fight over smoking in nyc bars. bloomberg is a bastard.

I couldn't go back to the radio disney experiment, I just couldn't. at least you got a taste of the horror! the horror!

spinned a bit of dixie chicks, then moved on to disc one of dimitri from paris' after the playboy mansion, one of '02's best. the 2cd set is split into "a laidback selection" and "an uplifting selection," and both feature some true hidden gems (tata vega's "get it up for love" on the first disc, ts monk's "candidate for love" on the second), classics re-edited by dimitri himself (including harold melvin and the blue notes' "don't leave me this way"!), and remixes you basically can't find anywhere else (tenaglia remixing grace jones' "feel up," de la soul/chaka khan's "all good" as done by can 7). the mixing is note-perfect; the selection is even better.

now I'm on to double easy: the u.s. singles, another perfect "hits" collection, this one by happy mondays. yeah, I brought it in 'cause I'm still in a 24 hour party people kinda thing, but this is a singles record I return to over and over. it does such an ace job of summing up the mondays' output, and legacy - it doesn't misfire once. from the opener, their first single, "24 hour party people," through to "sunshine & love" and "angel" from their swansong yes, please!, all their (u.s.) singles are collected here, along with crucial remixes - important because the mondays made a true marriage of indierock and dance music, as they could've only in manchester (at the time). sterling stuff. [while you're at it, pick up shaun ryder's subsequent venture, black grape's it's great when you're straight... yeah, which moves the mondays' vision onto its logical conclusion.]

back from a 2-smoke break. and, oh please god, no, it's
+avril lavigne, "complicated" - does she only have one set of clothes? this song makes me want to kick people.

my head hurts. really. I need a longer break. time to put in some dixie chicks. I'll get back to the radio disney project when I feel better.

+simon & milo, "get a clue" - I think they're british-voiced cartoon characters, who use lots of guitars. this is getting confusing.
+"monster match" contest. some young boy - I thought he was a girl until I heard his name - can identify frankenstein, dracula, and a werewolf based on some basic clues. he won a copy of radio disney jams vol. 5.
+a cover of "under the sea," from the little mermaid by some teenpop group with a "rapper" (I use that term very loosely) who sounds, again, like shaggy.
+vanessa carlton, "ordinary day" - it's no secret that I don't care for ms. carlton. but in this context she might as well be fiona apple. it's nice to hear a real song, with real lyrics that aren't just about being happy-happy-happy.

this is even harder than I'd expected, and I'm only through an hour. time for a cigarette break.

+lmnt, "juliet" - apparently, radio disney's target audience likes their pop bouncy and loud. and bereft of personality. that's why brit's so refreshing in this context. [lmnt is some anonymous boy band, btw. their name is pronounced "element."]
+some song called "summertime," I think, by a c-grade version of shaggy.
+a commercial for juicy fruit gum.
+another promo for a radio disney contest - you can apparently appear in a hilary duff video. I don't know who she is. I suddenly feel very unhip.
+a promo for the station itself: "radio disney: your music, your way." and for

in the last half-hour, here's what I've heard:

+nine days, "absolutely (story of a girl)" - absolutely not.
+destiny's child, "survivor" - better than I'd remembered, especially in this context.
+a couple of public service announcements about using crosswalks and eating healthily
+aaron carter, "america ao" - even worse than his big brother.
+baha men, "move it like this"
+mc hammer, "u can't touch this" - made me laugh out loud.
+s club 7, "don't stop" - sounds like swedish magic pop. but not very good.
+britney spears, "overprotected" - why wasn't this a #1 single? superb, perfect pop with personality.
+lou bega, "mambo no. 5 (mickey remix)" - I thought this song couldn't get any worse. I was wrong.

I'm only figuring out what some of these songs are by picking up on song titles in the lyrics, and then checking the radio disney top 30.

+christina milian, "call me, beep me" - didn't she start out singing with ja fucking rule?! how did she end up a kiddie singer?
+a promo with all of the contest rules, handy as radio disney seems to give away something about every 20 minutes.
+sugar ray, "when it's over" - this almost made my top 50 last year. very, very good pop-rock. shame their leader seems more interested in dating supermodels, though.

today, I'm doing an at-work experiment. I'm going to see how long I can stand listening to radio disney, and blog it. think good thoughts, please.

do you need more evidence that simon b (he of xrrf) is brilliant? here, then.

Monday, October 21, 2002

it just occured to me that fred's the only blogger I know (besides myself) who blogs in lowercase. his blog really does rule. it's just that sometimes there's only him and me and we just disagree.

it pains me greatly to say it, but fred is wrong. 95% of the time his observations (especially regarding pop music) are spot-on, so when I saw him raving about the new blackstreet single, I immediately downloaded it, excited that teddy riley had made a comeback. ick. the track sounds like a neptunes reject (is this what teddy's reduced to, picking through pharrell's trash? they both live in virginia beach, so it's not impossible, y'all), and the lyrics? oh, my. they seem to consist of whoever's in blackstreet these days saying "(blah blah blah) - wow" (they sound too bored - or is that "cool"? - to even say "wow!") ad nauseum, along with teddy proving he's still "street" by cursing a lot. yes, teddy, you are a "fuckin' legend," and this is a fine way to shit all over said legacy. this new out-of-nowhere material couldn't have anything to do with that nasty bankruptcy filing, could it? of course not.
in case you want to hear the carnage for yourself, the track's titled "wizzy wow."

sports fans, start your bitching! the first bcs rankings are out.

"this time, it's my turn to wait. and I'll wait long enough." - the broken hearts club

sigh. just watched it for the eight-thousandth time on hbo2 (here are its airings for the next month on hbo and cinemax). I love love love love this film, because it's, well, it's our movie. it's an honest romantic comedy about gay men, which you still don't see a whole damn lot of these days. it helps that tbhc is also very good - endlessly quotable script, good acting, and cute guys (c'mon, it costars dean cain!). even though I'm not looking to date these days, if a guy (whom I didn't already know) could quote chunks of this movie, I'd probably swoon. and go out with him.

so today at work I listened to "favoritesneworder.01" a couple of times, and was even more knocked out than I thought I'd be. I haven't spent much time with new order in a while, and was amazed by the songs. not the synths, not the arrangements, not bernard sumner's singing, but how damned well-written their songs are. then I wanted to remind myself what christgau thought - knew he liked 'em plenty, didn't remember why. interestingly, he generally goes the opposite direction and loves their feel, their propulsion. I say we're both right. to quote the dean, new order were "the greatest disco band of the '80s except chic, and these guys outlasted chic."

will punch-drunk love play in peoria?

Sunday, October 20, 2002

after seeing 24 hour party people last night, I've had new order on my brain all day (and all last night, while I slept). so I flipped through my hard drive and burned a disc, "favoritesneworder.01." it's not definitive, and isn't supposed to be. just some personal faves (ergo the title). the tracklisting:
1. 1963 (b-side)
2. bizarre love triangle (from brotherhood)
3. blue monday (the biggest-selling 12" single in history)
4. crystal (from newordergetready)
5. fine time (from technique)
6. here to stay (from 24 hour party people ost, w/chemical brothers)
7. mr. disco (from technique)
8. perfect kiss (from low-life)
9. regret (from regret)
10. round and round (from technique)
11. sooner than you think (from low-life)
12. touched by the hand of god (b-side)
13. true faith (live at reading '98)
14. world (the price of love) (from republic)
15. worldinmotion (englandneworder)

watched "cmt inside fame: dixie chicks" this evening and learned something fascinating. the chicks' original lead singer, laura lynn, was jettisoned from the band because of a change in musical direction and replaced with natalie maines. don't feel too badly for lynn, however. she ended up marrying a texas rancher - who later won 26 million dollars in the texas lottery. life's funny that way, isn't it?
the chicks' home is still the best album I've heard in 2002.

Saturday, October 19, 2002

it was a rock-n-roll day yesterday (saturday). firstly, after bowling three games, I took in a double-feature with my pal chas.

first up was the much-maligned box-office stiff the rules of attraction. don't believe the (bad) hype. this film is very, very impressive. the script is about 80% verbatim from bret easton ellis' novel of the same name; it was written (and the film directed) by roger avery, who won an oscar for co-writing a certain pulp fiction. the techniques used to tell the stories in the film are visually gorgeous: a little memento here, a dash of go there. and as opposed to most films - especially ones with as wb-tastic a cast as this - the film's soundtrack is prominent, and not just selling songs. tomandandy did the score (marvelous collage work), and the pre-exisiting songs used augment and give texture to the film (the cure's "six different ways," milla jovovich's "gentlemen who fell," and a lot more). this is, simply, one of the best films of the year, ebert and company be damned.

after a fine dinner of sushi (how's that, gaz? two-in-one!), it was on to the naro (support your local arthouse!) for 24 hour party people, the story of tony wilson, factory records, the hacienda, joy division, and happy mondays. what more do you fookin' need to know?! a fascinating thrillride of a story, complete with a very well-used framing device, that of steve coogan (as tony wilson) speaking directly to the audience to fill in gaps and make clarifications. great acting, great direction (though be prepared for a lot of hand-held shots), and of course, a stunning soundtrack, encompassing everything from the pistols to 808 state.

then to top the day off, we ventured to a very sleazy rock-and-roll kind of divebar, cruzers (yes, that's how they spell it), for vapourtrail, a club night promising everything from '60s garage bands to '90s shoegazers. it didn't disappoint. dancing to rock music - what a concept. marvelous. if you're in the norfolk, va area, check it out (all the info's at their website).

I seriously doubt that tomorrow will be as entertaining, but one never knows.

I finally figured out why I don't like nappy roots: they're outkast divided by arrested development. and that's being generous.

Friday, October 18, 2002

the excitement continues...
tom's top 50 singles & tracks of 2001
1. "one more time," daft punk
2. "get ur freak on," missy "misdemeanor" elliot
3. "bootylicious," destiny's child
4. "I am a man of constant sorrow," the soggy bottom boys
5. "tracey in my room," ebtg vs. soul vision
6. "star guitar," chemical brothers
7. "lifetime," maxwell
8. "rock the boat," aaliyah
9. "ooh it's kinda crazy," souldecision
10. "walk on," u2
11. "catch the sun," doves
12. "izzo (h.o.v.a.)," jay-z
13. "swimming in champagne," eric heatherly
14. "get to know ya," maxwell
15. "voyager," daft punk
16. "a long walk," jill scott
17. "american bad ass," kid rock
18. "pyramid song," radiohead
19. "fallin'," alicia keys
20. "flawless," the ones
21. "jaded," aerosmith
22. "we gonna make it," jadakiss featuring styles
23. "alcoholic," starsailor
24. "stuck in a moment you can't get out of," u2
25. "girls, girls, girls," jay-z
26. "ante up (robbing-hoodz theory) (remix)," m.o.p. featuring busta rhymes and remy martin
27. "new york, new york," ryan adams
28. "beat a drum," r.e.m.
29. "love foolosophy," jamiroquai
30. "rock the house," gorillaz
31. "I'm just talkin' 'bout tonight," toby keith
32. "kids," robbie williams and kylie minogue
33. "someone to call my lover," janet
34. "aerodynamic," daft punk
35. "fat lip/pain for pleasure," sum 41
36. "we need a resolution," aaliyah featuring timbaland
37. "mrs. steven rudy," mark mcguinn
38. "a woman's worth," alicia keys
39. "only in my mind," souldecision
40. "can't get you out of my head," kylie minogue
41. "elevation (tomb raider mix)," u2
42. "umi says," mos def
43. "you can't change me," roger sanchez featuring n'dea davenport and armand van helden
44. "little l," jamiroquai
45. "don't happen twice," kenny chesney
46. "face to face," daft punk
47. "jus 1 kiss," basement jaxx
48. "honest with me," bob dylan
49. "he loves u not," dream
50. "stutter (double take remix)," joe featuring mystikal

I've already got 145 songs in the running for this year's top 50, and there's still over two months to go in 2002. this is a cry for help. [perversely, this year's trends appear to be bootlegs, and country/bluegrass.]

okay, alright, so you've seen my top 80 of the '80s and my top 90 of the '90s. but I'm certain there are hundreds - well, maybe tens? - of you out there saying "but what about this decade?" for those of you, and any other patient readers, my year-end charts from the last two years.

top 50: 2000
1. "untitled (how does it feel)," d'angelo
2. "b.o.b.," outkast
3. "your child," mary j. blige
4. "faded," souldecision featuring thrust
5. "optimistic," radiohead
6. "ms. jackson," outkast
7. "koochy," armand van helden
8. "the 6th sense," common
9. "I think I'm in love with you," jessica simpson
10. "that sound," michael moog
11. "shake ya ass," mystikal
12. "party up (up in here)," dmx
13. "the light," common
14. "no more," ruff endz
15. "music," madonna
16. "send it on," d'angelo
17. "bag lady," erykah badu
18. "simple kind of life," no doubt
19. where I wanna be," donnell jones
20. "I can't wait," ol' dirty bastard
21. "gettin' in the way," jill scott
22. "desert rose," sting featuring cheb mami
23. "beautiful day," u2
24. "until we rich," ice cube featuring krayzie bone
25. "rock dj," robbie williams
26. "big pimpin'," jay-z featuring ugk
27. "beautiful ones," mary j. blige
28. "no matter what they say," lil' kim
29. "I wish," carl thomas
30. "full moon," armand van helden featuring common
31. "glamour girl," chicks on speed
32. "get your roll on," big tymers
33. "the national anthem," radiohead
34. "he wasn't man enough," toni braxton
35. "a long walk," jill scott
36. "what's my name," dmx
37. "spanish joint," d'angelo
38. "cherchez laghost," ghostface killah
39. "south side," moby featuring gwen stefani
40. "love of my own," eric benet
41. "come one over baby (all I want is you)," christina aguilera
42. "cousin dupree," steely dan
43. "one four love pt. 1," hip-hop for respect
44. "how do you like me now?!," toby keith
45. "that's what I'm looking for," da brat
46. "911," wyclef jean featuring mary j. blige
47. "what it feels like for a girl," madonna
48. "penitentiary philosophy," erykah badu
49. "could I have this kiss forever," whitney houston and enrique iglesias
50. "whatever," ideal featuring lil' mo
questions? comments? concerns?

joe lunardi, the march madness guru, has already put together a bracket for the 2003 ncaa men's basketball tournament. he's a little brilliant, and a little insane. of course, I love him.

pop? country? shania? chet flippo ponders the question(s).

lyric of the day: "you want some birth control, you can smoke a cigarette." - dr. octagon, "girl let me touch you" (dr. octagynocologist, bulk 1996)

if you're a fan of the back-from-european-holiday novelty hit - especially if you're british - you should read this piece by alexis petridis from the guardian, which explains it all (thanks to tmftml for the link).

was talking with jeffy recently about nu-metal (or whatever you want to call it), and how you can really "blame" two bands for it: rage against the machine (who we both love/d) and korn (who we don't). those two designed the template that hundreds of bands have followed, much akin to the way nirvana's success led to bands like candlebox getting signed. and I should amend something - jeff can't stand korn; I grudgingly like their music, feel that they're very sincere in what they do (as opposed to fred fucking durst, who cares about nothing more than selling records and having sex with pornstars). their latest single, "thoughtless," is actually very good hard rock. nothing terribly blow-the-roof-off, and the video fits the song like a glove, even if it's a bit overly gruesome and pedantic (like slipknot, but not as stupid). jonathon davis seems to be putting some effort into his singing as well, which is a pleasant surprise. good, solid stuff.

excellent piece by edna gundersen in usa today on cranky old tom petty, who we need now more than ever, maybe.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

did you know that nin's "we're in this together" made it on to mtv's trl back in '99? how about rage against the machine's "guerrilla radio"? I certainly didn't. if you have any interest in pop music, this is a fabulous time-waster.

unless you're a radio-industry-wonk-cum-vet like me, you probably won't be interested in much of radio and records' website. but you might be interested in their continuously updated arbitron ratings for stations across the u.s.

excellent site for gay short fiction: blithe house quarterly.

it's so, so nice to see my boy, former purdue boilermaker (and 2000 heisman finalist) drew brees making a name (and home) for himself with the chargers. a lot of that has to do with ladanian tomlinson - and the fact that both of them are smart as hell when it comes to football. seth wickersham will tell you all about it (from

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

picked up dan woog's jocks 2 yesterday, and through the first couple of essays, it's just as good as its predecessor. amazingly, until now I didn't know of the superb website outsports, which is (to quote its front page) "for gay sports fans and athletes by sports fans and athletes." refreshing as all hell to find an intelligent, knowledgeable sports site with a gay sensibility (as opposed to a gay-sports site, et cetera). 90% of the time I'm talking sports, it's as a sports fan first. the other 10% is generally spent talking about kirk herbstreit and peyton manning. hee hee hee.

if you're the person who googled "'thomas inskeep' korea," please email me. I'm very, very perplexed.

well, shit, after the praise I received today from the minor fall, the major lift, I feel like I've got something to live up to now. damn. [seriously, though, I'm flattered.]

went with a bunch of folks last night to see sweet home alabama, a/k/a reese witherspoon's "anything julia can do, I can do cuter" flick. now, I think there's no denying that witherspoon is a) very cute, b) has that same kind of radiant screen presence as ms. roberts, and c) a talented actress (though I'm eager to see her do drama - and no, cruel intentions, for its merits, really doesn't count). but I left the theatre as I entered it, with mixed emotions. the script was structured very nicely, with some pulled punches and surprises you actually don't see coming. most of the performances (notably ethan embry's, along with witherspoon's) were solid. candice bergman, however, simply played an overly shrill version of murphy brown; she was supposed to be a total bitch, and she was, and I hated it. and even if witherspoon's character later apologizes for her nasty remarks, the south - and rural america in the process - was completely characterized as a bunch of loveable dumb-ass hicks. having grown up on a farm in rural northern indiana, I resent that quite. a. bit. I live in a metropolitan area of over one million people now, but would rather live back on the farm (or at least in a small town) than in new york city. so the script, while trying to gloss over its misdeeds, really comes off as a bit nasty. and patrick dempsey, while a fair actor, was required to do nothing other than look vacuous - which he did with great aplomb. I'd probably give sweet home alabama a b- or so. wait to see it on starz! next summer.

and one other thing: of all the people to cover skynyrd's title song, the producers picked fucking jewel?!

the hitlist (to your right) is now strictly a top 10 songs, updated at my will. just so you know.

sorry, gaz (and other promise ring fans).

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

to say one more thing about kelly rowland's "stole," perhaps clarifying my earlier remarks (perhaps not): it's one of those songs I really like without having any real idea why. the "mary's got the same size hands as marilyn monroe" chorus almost gives me a lump in my throat. sometimes I'm a sucker that way, I guess.

tmftml is about to start blogging blogs. it's things like this that make me giddily gleeful. damn, I have issues.

you know, the more I hear from/about system of a down lead singer serj tankian, the more I like him. even his label sounds interesting. who knows, maybe he's a new-and-improved zach de la rocha: intensely political leader of provocative rock band keeps his head on straight. shock! horror! ok, that sounds like bad promo copy...

news flash: "cleanin' out my closet" includes a reference to munchausen's syndrome?! ok, points for eminem.

I "heart" stylus.

when is a bootleg not a bootleg? when the acapella isn't married with another track, but totally brand-new music. tim "jacknife" lee, he of "missy gets her 9-pound cock on" fame, has worked his guitarrific magic on eminem's "cleanin' out my closet." "closet" has nice 'n fiesty lyrics, but some of the most boring music dr. dre has ever committed to wax. lee solves that problem by pairing em's quasi-confessional, semi-jungian-therapy shout with walls of guitar noise. suddenly, em's primal screaming has a new urgency missing from the original production, like if andrew w.k. wanted to do more than party, maybe. ace. find it at boomselection.

nirvana's much-touted "you know you're right" is nice to hear, but nothing ear- (or earth-)shattering. it's a nirvana song, people. you already know how you feel about it.

I had no idea there even was an american radio remix of kylie's "love at first sight" - the third consecutive killer from her fever full-length, for those keeping score at home, even if you're alone - until I heard it in a friggin' bally's commercial, of all things. I wouldn't say it's an improvement, exactly, just different, but pleasingly so. the biggest change is a beefing up of the bassline, making it sound all rubbery and p-funky. it's almost like kylie-meets-daft punk, yay!

she-who-would-be-kylie, sophie ellis-bextor, is releasing an oddly belated fourth uk single from read my lips - in time for christmas socials? either way, I certainly won't complain. becks is one of the great pure pop stars to emerge in the last 5 years or so: attitude, vocals, and tunes to match. for pete's sake, she started her (solo) career covering cher's disco hit! "murder on the dancefloor" is one of the singles of 2002, and she (nearly) closes the year with "music gets the best of me," a little less fierce than her other hits, perhaps, but no less perfect, creamy, dance-pop. and that voice is like a hand in a velvet glove - one that'll slap you if you're not careful. a soft caress with the ability to sting, that's becks. I love her.

went on another downloading binge last night, and uncovered some real gems, perhaps led by - of all things - kelly rowland's "stole." this is an ace slice of commercial r-and-b, slick as hell, but with surprisingly strong vocals from rowland, and really quite good lyrics - all support-the-children and lost-little-girls, but with an odd sense of uplift, somehow bringing it above typical pop-songwriting cliche. not to mention a generically "asian" keyb figure stolen, I think, from peaches and herb.

"girls talk" is the first salvo from the forthcoming last tlc album. lyrically bland with unexciting production, the best thing about it, as with so many tlc tracks, is left eye's feisty rap. she's gonna be missed, real missed. and by the way, has anyone else noticed how much left eye sounded like mc lyte?

I'm not ready for snoop dogg's jelly, or to write about "from tha chuuuch to tha palace" yet, 'cause I can't put my finger on something about it. suffice it to say it's the best thing he's done in years, and the second-best neptunes production of the year (after the clipse's "grindin'").

very interesting new british music website to check out, seemingly covering the entire waterfront: drowned in sound (thanks to rockcritics for the tip).

Monday, October 14, 2002

I noted below that I thought erykah and common's "love of my life" could get played on adult r-and-b stations. well, I'll be damned! it is.

inspired by fluxblog, here's a bunch of high-quality web stuff that I actually do endorse. except that I'm not paid for it, obviously, or I'd have a lot more money.
yahoo! groups and yahoo! messenger
blogger (duh!)
nedstat basic
musicmatch jukebox

in no order, my top 10-ish singles (well, songs) of the year with 2.5 months to go (ok, I lied, there's a very clear #1; the rest are in no order):
#1 missy elliot "work it"
tim mcgraw "angel boy"
dj lance lockarm "s'washyawart"
me'shell ndegeocello "earth (ben watt lazy dog remix)"
me'shell ndegeocello f/talib kweli "hot night"
dixie chicks "landslide"
madonna "die another day"
freelance hellraiser "a stroke of genius"
willie nelson f/lee ann womack "mendocino county line"
sugababes "freak like me"

of course, my top 10 may end up looking nothing like this; that's the beauty of these things (and of having an occasionally self-indulgent public forum thereof).

freaky trigger's pop music focus group vi is out! and my fingerprints are on it! awwright! [it's also damned fine writing by lots of people about pop.]

"forgive" by rebecca lynn howard is apparently on the providence tv soundtrack, and is a country song with strings. don't let those things scare you off. you need to know two important things about "forgive": 1) the way howard delivers her lyrics with the most acid-dripping half-smile in the video, and 2) the line "forgive/that's a mighty big word for such a small man." marvelously nasty. not to mention that howard's about the only piano-playing artist to crash 2002's party who isn't stomach-turning (yes, vanessa fucking carlton, that means you). expect this one to cross over bigtime to the adult contemporary charts soon, and don't hold that against it, either.

this is shaping up as a very good year for greatest-hits collections. the aerosmith collection I've already discussed (though I need to go more in-depth, honestly). I'll probably throw elvis's elv1s 30 #1 hits on my christmas list, along with the stones' forty licks. and the nirvana self-titled comp is coming, too.

well, I've been listening to both discs of bowie: the singles 1969-1993 today at work. this is the comp that rykodisc released in the u.s., and I believe different versions were done for different countries (jeffy's got a dutch import on which disc 2 is quite different from the american pressing). contemporarily speaking, this one set the standard for hits albums. first of all, 2 discs are a must. except in very rare cases (elvis, for example, because his songs were so short), one disc isn't enough to do an artist justice. [there are times, to be fair, when one disc is perfect - it depends on the shelf-life of the artist, really. stephanie mills is a prime example; her 20th century masters set on pgd or unigram or whatever it is these days is just right, 12 songs representing her entire career. but that's an exception.] and really, it's not just about shelf-life, it's about how long the artist was productive. one disc also works for hendrix, I think, or for nirvana (and it's gonna be very interesting to see how well it sells, especially compared against elvis and the stones).

but I digress, kinda. back to bowie. virgin's releasing a new best of bowie next week. why?? yes, it gains "this is not america" (with pat metheny group, from the falcon and the snowman soundtrack) and tin machine's "under the god" (horribly underrated). it also gains five not-so-great tracks from the last decade and "the man who sold the world" (think they're selling to nirvana fans, anyone?), and loses, among others, "oh! you pretty things," "john i'm only dancing," and "loving the alien," only the best fucking song he recorded in the '80s. not to mention that virgin's keeping in "cat people," easily bowie's most laughable single. this comp is no patch on the singles, which, granted, is out of print. but c'mon, dave! another sad cash-in from a brilliant artists with far too many sad cash-ins to his name. sigh.

I'm going to write more on other great best-ofs/comps soon, I promise.

my semi-famous cousin is about to become more famous. he kicks ass.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

I've back from rehomo, and had a killer weekend, much better than the first time, even. made some new friends with whom we hung out, enjoyed delaware pridefest, and the sun even came out today! [was very rainy and dreary, but nice and cool, this weekend.] intend to blog more before I go to bed, but first there's charmed and angel to watch. a guy's gotta have his priorities, you know.

Friday, October 11, 2002

are you ready for midnight madness, bay-bee?!

my favorite comic strip is online: adam and andy. its slogan is "two men. one bed. do the math." so, do it. very, very good. and by the way, y'all, happy national coming out day. did I mention I'm gay?

former president carter has been awarded the nobel peace prize! woo hoo! most presidents, after leaving office, do little but collect checks (and vomit in japan, pres. bush). president carter, meanwhile, has been fighting the good fight, and in the process has made for himself a phenomenal legacy out of office. I have nothing but respect for mr. carter, and am over the moon that his devotion to world peace has finally been recognized on the highest level. again I say, woo hoo!

Thursday, October 10, 2002

tim mcgraw is the current reigning sexiest man alive, celebrity division. but more than that, he's starting to, ten years on, make some interesting music. it began with a track off his last album, set this circus down, "angel boy." I fell in love with this song thanks to its video, which was filmed in ireland and is full of vivid technicolor greens and lots of tim, tim, tim. the video caught my eye, but the song reeled me in. it's nothing like anything I've heard from tim before; it's essentially a rock record, complete with a one-minute-45-second song-closing guitar solo! this song could easily be played on rock radio - maybe in a AAA format? besides its rather interesting (especially for country music) lyrics (to wit: "can we still be forgiven/for all of these things/or have we gone too far now/have we lost our wings?" - basically, it's a song about spiritual crisis), it flies like an eagle more than it gets down on the farm. "angel boy" is one of my singles of the year.

now, tim's gone and riled up some folks even more than he did with his debut, "indian outlaw." that's because his new single, "red rag top," includes lyrics referencing abortion (shock! horror!). the damned thing is that it's, inevitably, one of the most interesting songs tim's ever recorded. musically, it fires on all cylinders, thanks to the fact that (are you listening, nashville folks?) he didn't cut this album with the usual passel of n'ville studio musicians. instead, tim hit the studio with his longtime touring band, which led to his forthcoming full being titled tim mcgraw and the dancehall doctors. unsurprisingly, the band is tight and well-oiled, and nails the easygoing, very country groove of the song. I'd damned near place you money that this song'll go down like the chicks' "goodbye earl": incredible audience response, scared programmers, and a final chart placing in the teens. radio programmers have got to be the about the most fucking stupid people, paid to suck the soul out of music and replace it with commercial revenues. congratulations, you morons. at least tim's finally starting to follow his muse (who may not be faith after all, as this song sounds nothing like phil collins).

a couple of observations from watching the first 10 minutes of tonight's friends episode:
1. has matthew perry has a chemical peel? his skin looks even more red and puffy than it normally does.
2. were (guest star) paul rudd and (mediocre singer-songwriter) john mayer separated at birth?

one of the coolest charity events I've seen in eons: cherry jam, this west london club that ben watt's involved with, is having a celebrity sock auction to benefit london homeless charities. go to the "flash" version of the cherry jam site, and follow the links.

no clue why there's a 6-week gap in the chat transcripts, but if you like television at all (namely primetime series), you owe it to yourself to read the weekly chats with robert bianco, the tv critic for usa today. say what you will about the paper, but they've got some pretty good critics.

I just re-read the piece below on the cocteau twins. yeah, it rambles, and doesn't precisely say exactly what I wanted. I might polish it later. somehow, though, I doubt it.

a vow: I will not use the word "ethereal" at any time during the following piece.

I've had the cocteau twins on my mind all day. started the workday spinning my favorite cocteaus album, blue bell knoll, twice. I've often both wondered, and been asked, why/how it is I love them so much whilst loathing people like enya. let me attempt to expound upon that. and let me clear my throat.

4ad was important back when record labels stood for, nay, meant something (and don't even waste your time blathering to me about vagrant or whatever "punk"-cum-"hardcore" label you currently love, please). in the '80s, there was not only 4ad, there was wax trax! and sst and twin/tone and rough trade and I could go on - but my point is that if you were a fan of multiple artists on one of those labels, you could safely buy a record by an unknown artist on the same label and feel fairly safe that you'd like it. for me, the two labels which were the prime example of this ethos were 4ad and wax trax! I actually tested that theory more than once (wax trax! records chicago, you are still missed), and it worked like a charm; I know I wasn't the only one. I loved cocteau twins, and I loved colourbox and this mortal coil, too.

I probably heard cocteau twins for the first time on my local college radio station when I was still in highschool, and was immediately enraptured. [I may get a bit teenage-swoony here, so bear with me.] here was music without words, but not instrumental, which said something, somehow. [ok, I'm about to get far too "a john hughes film starring molly ringwald" here, so either abandon ship or suck it up.] their music was a balm to my teenage soul, the tortured kid I was at the time. the missing link between bauhaus and lush, the cocteaus made this delicate, complex buffet of sound. I think picking various things out of their records prepared me in some way for my future love of artists like underworld - helped me "get" techno, as it were. even stripped down (notably on their earliest albums, garlands and treasure), their music was lush (that's an adjective). dark yet strangely uplifting. and then on top of it all was elizabeth fraser's voice. especially back then, if she'd been singing words she might've just sounded insufferably twee (her instrument's matured over time - see her vocalizing on massive attack's mezzanine). but singing in this bizarrely gorgeous made-up language of sounds and breaths, it was stunning. dreampop before we knew there was such a thing, everyone from lush to sigur ros owes them a huge debt. cocteau twins are probably one of my five favorite artists ever, at least based on their first six albums (after '93's four-calendar cafe, they started mucking around ill-advisedly with electronica; it wasn't so pretty). start with blue bell knoll and its followup, the just-as-good heaven or las vegas, and go on from there (4ad, via capitol in the u.s., has recently reissued and remastered their catalog).

if you haven't visited some of the blogs I love recently (to your left), you really should. I do this for you, you know. for your own edification. or, um, something. heh-heh, heh-heh.

gaz is off the hook.
[and by the way, I think he needs to change his name to "currt."]

have I mentioned fluxblog? no? well, why the hell not?!

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

yes, I know, this is like the least cool thing I could possibly do. but I can't help myself. fred of v,s&l blogged me. I love being blogged.

Monday, October 07, 2002

oh, for that loser gaz (whose website I will not link to any more until he updates it): bowled like poo yesterday, my worst series of the season, or anytime recently: 98 + 100 + 151 = 349, which sucks. average dropped back to a 131. no bowling this week, as I'm going back to rehoboth beach.

just caught the last half of one of my favorite films of all-time, say anything, which includes one of the best music scenes (not musical scenes) ever, the john-cusack-in-his-trenchcoat-standing-outside-ione-skye's-house-holding-the-boombox-above-his-head-playing-peter-gabriel's-"in your eyes" scene. ahhh. not to mention that the film hit me at a point in my life where that's just how I felt. same thing happened with cusack's high fidelity - of course, I'd be willing to wager that quite a few of us music bloggers can relate to that flick. wouldn't you?

appropriately, the preceding moment was soundtracked by percy faith's "theme from a summer place," giving it an appropriately filmic, dreamy quality.
and thanks to fred of vain, selfish & lazy for his recent kind words conveyed via email, and for the tip-off on the jigga/beyonce single.

I do hope this isn't too self-promotional, but I'm having another 14-year-old-girl-meeting-justin moment: catching up on my reading of the all-too-intelligent no rock & roll fun, I find, to my utter shock, that people I don't know in the uk are reading - and commenting on - this very blog. I'm swooning. I feel pretty, and witty, and gay. thanks, simon!

news flash: snoop dogg has quit smoking pot!

Sunday, October 06, 2002

jay-z has remodeled 2pac's "me and my girlfriend" with beyonce on the chorus, retitling it "03 bonnie and clyde." besides the fact that that's just kind of, well, weird, it also includes ms. knowles interpolating a chunk of prince's "if I was your girlfriend." I like the use of acoustic guitar. I assume, but don't know, that it's the neptunes' 1000th production of the year (do they ever sleep?!). on first couple of listens, it's okay. not stellar, but good. that's all I feel about it at this point.

I feel much more strongly, however, about "wild one," a creamy slice of what in '98 I would've called nu-soul or some such silly term. you remember: the first albums from d'angelo, badu, and maxwell were the vanguard; eric benet, jill scott, and angie stone soon followed. raphael saadiq might've invented it, kinda. but would you fucking believe that the latest great new soul singer to pour out of my speakers is darius rucker, a/k/a mr. hootie and the blowfish? you'd best believe, folks. not only is he signed (as a solo artist) to hidden beach - started by jazzy jeff, part of the new philly soul explosion, known best and most for their success with the aforementioned ms. scott - but his first single is full of roots-esque keyboards (is pino palladino playing on this, anyone know?) and has got an incredibly killer smoky late-night groovin'-with-your-honey vibe. "wild one" is likely the most surprising, and most refreshingly wonderful, single of '02. throw those preconceptions out the damn door!

"the barry williams show" is cranky old peter gabriel doing what he does best, wrapping social commentary into a vaguely funky, vaguely unconventional pop record, complete with his usual self-multitracked vocals. even if gabriel's new album, up, doesn't do much commercially (it debuted on the chart at #9 this week, but let's take bets on how fast it makes a quick retreat), I'm so glad he's back. few artists can do what p.g. does, and even fewer do it as well.

much like gabriel, two other vets we've got back - and need, musically and not socially/culturally, time magazine - are misters petty and springsteen. the title track from bruce's the rising is very good, nice and sort of subtlely upfliting, like a good gospel song, which is exactly the feel this track has. and brendan o'brien's production fits perfectly. petty and his merry band of heartbreakers, however, aren't going for inspiring; they're out to prove that tom's still full of some piss and vinegar as he passes 50, and they pull it off. "the last dj" is tom's rant against corporate radio, and it's spot-on the way the dixie chicks' bitchin' about country radio in "long time gone" is. musically, it's dependably petty. yay.

chris cornell + rage against the machine - zach de la rocha = audioslave. "cochise" is their long-awaited first salvo. it sounds exactly like I'd hoped, which is to say like chris cornell's magnificent heavy metal pipes fronting ratm. it gives morello and co. a different texture, and I like it. a lot. as much as I've been a fan of de la rocha's stridency, after a while he gets a bit, well, tiring. [and I wouldn't hold my breath for that over-two-years-in-the-making solo album if I were you.] cornell's voice, on the other hand, just swoops and falls like a condor. you should basically know if you'll like this without even hearing it, but hear it anyway.

gaz is pathetic. or apathetic, I'm not sure which. email the bastard and tell him to update his fucking website.

have very suddenly discovered tons of great current singles. to wit:

eminem's "lose yourself" appropriately has a real cinematic feel to it - yeah, I'm probably going to go see 8 mile, if for no other reason than to see how much it apes purple rain in style if not substance - and is stronger than anything I've heard from the eminem show (I've always preferred the 8000 "without me" bootlegs to the song itself; dre's vaguely technoid wonking is boring, people, and absolutely nothing new). there's an urgency in em's voice on "lose yourself" I haven't heard since "kim" and "the way I am," and that's a very good thing. intense eminem generally equals great hiphop. this is no exception.

I could rave about missy's "work it" for days, but already have. and I still feel that the best writing on it was done by nate, right here.

in fact, where did all this 2002-face-saving-hip-hop come flooding from? erykah badu may not inherently be hip-hop, but she's certainly of it, and the point has never been made more clear than on her new single featuring common, "love of my life (an ode to hip-hop)." about fucking time someone wrote and recorded a sequel to common's "I used to love h.e.r."! just like its predecessor, this works just as well as a straightahead love song as it does a straightahead love song to hip-hop, and sounds like just what you'd hope, a collabo between badu and common, complete with vaguely old-school-ish beats underpinning the keybs (this could actually get played on adult r-and-b stations). the video is riotous, including cameos from mc lyte and chuck d, and some truly alarming hairstyles on badu.

"luv u better" is j's return to form, and what a return it is. most of my buds will likely scorn it as "too commercial," and that's their loss. sounding nothing like a neptunes track (but it is), it's a slice of ultra-smoove r-and-b complete with male crooning on the chorus. and uncle l, who may not be the future of the funk anymore, but he's certainly not in the past. akin to "hey lover" without sounding as schmaltzed, this is l.l.2k2: still a loverman, still in amazing shape (have you seen him?! the man has an eight-pack!), and still dexterous as all get-out. and how is it that he's one of the very few rappers who sounds sincere when talking about relationships? I guess the precedent of his teenaged "I need love" could have something to do with it, but it still impresses me. quit acting and come back to the game fulltime, you mogul, you. james todd smith, hip-hop still needs you.

she's baaaaaaack! and to these ears, "die another day" is the best song madonna's put to wax since - well, since she woke up and smelled the electronica. better than anything from ray of light or music, this is the sound of machines having fever dreams of beautiful women and string sections. tim finney nails the core of it very nicely on his superb skykicking blog.

and she's back, too! thought by dumb people to be the antithesis of real country music, or at least its enemy - they're so wrong and so foolish - shania twain returns from her celine-esque absence with "I'm gonna getcha good!," which is, well, classic shania: all def leppard drums and steel guitars. the reason shania's crossed over from country to pop so effortlessly can be attributed to 2 factors. one is, obviously enough, her husband, producer "mutt" lange, who himself produced def lep and ac/dc, among others, in the '80s. the other is that like no artist since dolly parton on the cusp of the '80s, shania's records are simultaneously country and pop, effortlessly straddling the divide while being wholly both. why can't you like patsy cline and def lep the same, anyway? alison krauss does, but because she goes the opposite direction on her records, no one seems to mind. get over it, y'all. shania is country to the core; she just uses synth processing instead of dobros, but gets to the same end with her means.

Friday, October 04, 2002

here's the rest of the top 90, done speed-round style.

1. "music sounds better with you," stardust (1998). disco-house perfection - french, of course.
2. "vogue," madonna (1990). style on wax.
3. "drive that fast," kitchens of distinction (1992). the guitars crash like high tide during a hurricane.
4. "mind playing tricks on me," geto boys (1991). the deepest, darkest, and probably best rap record ever.
5. "tempermental (wamdue project remix)," everything but the girl (2000 - oops!). deeper than love.
6. "soul searchin' (I wanna know if it's mine) (from higher learning)," me'shell ndegeocello (1995). sex more than love.
7. "are you that somebody? (from dr. doolittle)," aaliyah (1998). timbaland's most perfect beats plus his most perfect muse.
8. "you get what you give," new radicals (1999). the best song hall & oates never wrote, but should've.
9. "sexy mf," prince and the new power generation (1993). james brown is proud.
10. "the more you ignore me, the closer I get," morrissey (1994). just a closer walk with thee.
11. "I feel love (masters at work remix)," donna summer (1995 uk import). their crowning achievement, revitalizing donna's anthem.
12. "it's all about the benjamins (remix)," puff daddy and the family featuring the notorious b.i.g., lil' kim, and the lox (1997). puff's triumph, all skittery, scary beats and an amazing verse from biggie (including the line "fuck the state pen/fuck hoes at penn state").
13. "it's not right but it's okay (thunderpuss 2000 club mix)," whitney houston (1999). a thundering house anthem, and the gay club track of '99.
14. "race for the prize," flaming lips (1999). epic-yet-focused psychedelia.
15. "bachelorette," bjork (1998). "I'm a fountain of blood, in the shape of a girl."
16. "runaway," nuyorican soul featuring india (1997). disco as life preserver.
17. "flava in ya ear (the bad boy remix)," craig mack featuring the notorious b.i.g., busta rhymes, rampage, and l.l. cool j (1994). yet another killer biggie verse, along wit' killas from the rest.
18. "bitter sweet symphony," the verve (1998). britrock at its grandest.
19. "born slippy (nuxx)," underworld (1996). "korea, korea, the reverend al green," or something.
20. "de-luxe," lush (1990). the essence of dreampop, female division, par excellence.
21. "crush on you (remix)," lil' kim featuring lil' cease (1997). wonderfully commercial.
22. "erotica (masters at work underground club mix)," madonna (1992). as sleazy as it wants to be.
23. "creep," tlc (1995). oh-so-slinky r-and-b.
24. "outside your door," me'shell ndegeocello (1994). oh-so-romantic r-and-b.
25. "romantic," karyn white (1991). oh-so-danceable r-and-b.
26. "ascension (don't ever wonder)," maxwell (1996). oh-so-reassuring r-and-b.
27. "ex-factor," lauryn hill (1998). oh-so-pained r-and-b.
28. "this must be the place I waited years to leave," pet shop boys (1990). most men lead lives of quiet desperation.
29. "burn (from natural born killers)," nine inch nails (1994). I've got the gasoline, who's got the match?
30. "miracles keep on playin' (red alert remix)," basement jaxx (1998). "[jaxx] fucked house music up the ass." - armand van helden.
31. "resurrection '95," common sense (1995). back 'n the day, when he was a young buck.
32. "if I lose my woman (m.a.w. mix)," kenny lattimore (1999). silkily soulful house made from silky r-and-b.
33. "before (classic paradise mix - love to infinity)," pet shop boys (1997). I'm tired.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

ok, so here's the deal, people: this top 90 thing has been so fucking mentally exhausting that I'm a little burned out on it. I'll get back to it, I promise. just gimme another day or two, k? in the meantime, I'd rediscovered new and current music. the hitlist is thus updated for your pleasure.

34. "fait accompli," curve (1992). dreampop meets industrial, sorta. garbage should pay them publishing royalties.

35. "funkorama," redman (1996). redman, subtle? the ultimate classic from my college radio show "back seat of my jeep": not-too-uptempo, not-too-mellow, and flow for days.

36. "s.y.m.m.," manic street preachers (1998). manics at their most didactic, which in this case is actually a good thing.

37. "crazy," seal (1990). a voice like sandpaper-and-cream, and even better lyrics.

38. "the best things in life are free (from mo' money)," luther vandross and janet jackson featuring bbd & ralph tresvant (1992). pure joie de vivre on wax.

39. "pacific," 808 state (1990). hot jungle drums and disco rhythm.

sorry for the delay - and onward and upward we go...

40. "the drowners," suede (1992). glam recast 20 years on as perfect pop. then again, glam always was perfect pop, at least where it mattered (the you-kay, of course)...

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

woohoo! has posted the first nba power rankings of the 2002-03 season! and we've just begun training camps!

am I the last music blogger around to get keyed in to no rock'n'roll fun?

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