Thursday, November 28, 2002

so between all the d'n'b/ukg I've been absorbing and this mix cd I'm working on for paul (he won a trivia contest I'm doing in conjunction with waking ear), I'm back in what I call a "rhythm 'n beats" mode. there has been a lot of great rhythmic music released this year - and I guess that by that I mean dance-based, across the spectrum: r-and-b, hip-hop, house, the aforementioned genres, lots of boots, various strains of techno, it reminds me of a series of mixes (10 volumes) I made across '97 and '98 titled "it's alright - I feel it!" (which, come to think of it, I should really post at art of the mix). the first volume does a good job of synthesizing the feel of what I was going for, and the feel of the series: it runs across blaze remixing ann nesby, mc lyte, jamiroquai, dj kool, quincy jones, biggie, and madonna, amongst others, covering the (warning: pretentious word ahead) diaspora of rhythmic music, as far as I'm concerned.

what's tweaking my ear in those regards these days? so, so much. f'instance:
+there's a great l.t.j bukem track I discovered, "rhodes to freedom" (just what you'd hope for/fear), which is magnificent in its mastery of d'n'b soaked in jazz/funk.
+I've had to revise my initial opinion on tlc's "girls talk" - it's a tougher track than I originally thought, and has tougher lyrics too (and an actual good austin powers joke). and don't you dare call it man-bashing; it's simply a primer for men on, well, girl talk. the song's best feature remains left eye's rap, however. and the video's fairly crap.
+does anyone else remember the great camp lo? like digable planets with teeth, and funky for days. "luchini" was their moneyshot, their masterstroke, and their one and only hit. but what a hit it was.
+"two months off" by underworld made a re-appearance on "the hitlist" last week, in part due to go home productions' irresistable "2months in a disco" bootleg. but it made it back on its own merits, which are deep and wide, as well. "two months" is their best release since "born slippy," a thundering powerhouse of a tech-house track.

and if I may be so bold, I think this under-construction mix may be a corker. you'll know when it's complete...

radio 1 has just added a bhangra tune to their playlist for the first time. it's "mudian to bach ke" - which, translated, is "beware of the boys" - by panjabi mc. and it's utterly fabulous, the kind of record my world music crossover dreams are made of. it prominently features a south asian stringed instrument (maybe a gamelan? if you know, please tell me) along with some hindi (?) rapping and the bassline from the fucking knight rider theme. paul, in case you're curious, you bet your ass this'll show up on your mix cd. talk about pop musik, talk about some seriously future shit.

personal-type note: had a lovely, relaxing thanksgiving day. didn't sleep in as late as I'd've liked, but spent the bulk of my day downloading and thinking about drum'n'bass and uk garage (or "garridge," as so solid say in "haters"). lots of thoughts on that to come. then went to the roommate's boyfriend's place for thanksgiving dinner with a few close friends. mmm, lots of pie (sweet potato, pumpkin, and apple, all topped with copius amounts of cool whip, of course). borrowed some new (to me) books from the roomie's bf, too (watch for changes in "current reading" soon). now it's back to the blog. all for you readers, you know.

at some point, everybody has to lose in the nba. tonight, it was the turn of the dallas mavericks, after their 14-0 start to the season. who beat 'em? why, my indiana pacers, who improved to an east-leading 12-2 with the win.

so, it's thanksgiving in the u.s. take a moment or two today and think, really think, about who and what you're thankful for. it'll do you good.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

listening to bbc radio 1 on the 'net. scott mills. he just segued from dj sammy's "heaven" into the strokes' "sometimes." this is why british radio is better than the shit we've got in the u.s. and then, after some celeb news, he went into the sugababes' "stronger" - but intro'd them as "the sugalumps." marvelous.

as far as any having any "cool" points goes, I'm probably gonna shoot myself in the foot here, but here goes anyway. simon's recent postings about "punk garage," "gabba garage," whatever-you-want-to-call-it have had me thinking about drum'n'bass. so this week I went back to two of my favorite d'n'b records, the first two volumes of logical progression. the first, put together by scene guru l.t.j bukem, was one of my first exposures to the genre, and I instantly fell in love. I know that for so many people it's too "nice," too "clean," too jazz-fusion-y. well, I happen to like some jazz fusion (not yellowjackets, for pete's sake - more miles' nasty electric experiments, and herbie hancock). bukem didn't make 'ardcore tracks; he made stuff you could use on the dancefloor and at home. I appreciate that. I've never lived anywhere where I could get to d'n'b nights, and I'm not much of a scenester (I'm even a piss-poor trainspotter these days), so home is where I consume pretty much any genre of dance music.

bukem's "music" nearly made my top 90 of the '90s, and probably should've yet (peshay's "vocal tune," too). this was, at the time, music unlike any I'd ever heard. it sounded new. it still sounds fresh. but that's what caught my ear first: this was new, future shit. dance music (largely) without diva cut-up vocals, cool yet warm, dry yet deep - and excepting the unfortunately named sub-genre known as "hip-house" (unfortunate is right) - this was the first dance music with rapping. sure, they called it toasting, an ode to their jamaican bred'ren (and the similarities between d'n'b and dub, I 'spect), but it sounded like rapping to me. this was something that combined my love of atmospherics (see: cocteau twins, eno, or the triple-disc ohm box) with deep, deep bass, cold crisp snares, and outre' keyboards - what was not to love?

I never collected one-sided white label test-pressings or acetates, never really considered myself a true connoisseur of the scene, I just knew what I liked. I tried some of the harder, darker stuff (some metalheadz and moving shadow, some hardstep), and didn't care for it as much. it was too dark for my tastes, too predictable. it didn't have the lightness, the almost airy (yet still substantive) quality of the bukem mafia's stuff. and it didn't have mc conrad.

conrad, in my view, is the most talented mc in the d'n'b scene. he's all over logical progression 2, mixed by blame (bukem's completely absent from this one, I assume so that it wouldn't be considered "his" series, and to better turn it into a brand). disc one of the set is mixed, and features conrad and mc drs toasting all over it, splendidly so. since when was "tasteful" a dirty word in music, anyway? I understand, sometimes music needs to be nasty and dirty and grungy (not grunge, necessarily). but not always. the one-two punch of blame's "visions of mars" and odyssey's "expressions" kicks lp2 off superbly.

[to be continued.]

you also need to hear ernie's account of being on the weakest link. [he was! really!]

if you haven't visited spizzazzz recently, why the hell not?! you need to, now, if only to see their new logo.

some good blogging's on the way tonight, I promise - it's a 4-day weekend! but first I so-desparately-you-don't-even-know need a haircut.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

I've been dissing isiah thomas loudly the last couple of seasons, and deservedly so, I think; he's done little-to-nothing to impress as the pacers' coach. but marc stein is right - with a 10-2 start and still no reggie, it's time to give isiah his due.

time to give the random-play mp3 game another spin - this time with more thorough comments...

1. dolly parton, "these old bones" - one of the most stellar tracks from dolly's '02 album halos and horns, a great story-song with (as most story-songs have) a surprise at the end. of the 3 bluegrass records dolly's made, this is by far the best. it also includes her astonishing, gospelized cover of "stairway to heaven."
2. hall & oates, "downtown life" - one of their best lesser-known singles, which I also own on 45. a smooth, creamy philly-soul ode to livin' in the city, complete with the superb lyric "velvet lou was a neighbor of mine."
3. billy joel, "allentown" - I am no billy joel fan by any means, but love this song, kind of his roger and me 10 (or so) years early. its parent album, the nylon curtain, is his last good full-length. a solid, somewhat 'political' song from a man not known for his adeptness with such subject matter.
4. korn, "thoughtless" - better with every listen, with an honest shot at my 2002 year-end top 50. as opposed to most of their genre, this song actually seems to nail teenage angst in a genuine fashion. and jonathon davis, while no pavarotti, is becoming an increasingly good - and surprisingly versatile - vocalist. eat that, durst.
5. marty stuart, "now that's country" - alongside ricky skaggs, stuart is one of country's true keepers of the flame. he can boogie, honky-tonk, wail, and mourn. fine stuff.
6. oasis, "fuckin' in the bushes" - this is one of my favorites from the mancunian monsters. I'm sure that liam's absence couldn't have anything to do with it, could it? actually, this is the kind of thing I'd wished more britrock bands would've done circa '99: sampledelic, squalling jeff beck-ian reguitargitation.
7. freelance hellraiser, "lick pops" - missy vs. *nsnyc. not his best work, honestly. but he'll always be considered a genius (in my book) if only for "a stroke of genius."
8. zero 7, "destiny" - dreamy, female-voxed mellow come-down music. better than that sounds.
9. happy mondays, "loose fit" - an awesome piece of shuffling, shambolic dance(able)-rock from one of my favorite bands of the last 15 years. history will eventually show their importance. plus, they had bez.
10. johnny cash, "ring of fire" - what needs to be said about this? one of the greatest singles ever from one of the greatest country artists ever. didja know his wife june carter wrote it?

finally, I find a review that perfectly distills my feelings about cat power (even if it is 2.5 years old). mr. matos, I salute you.

addendum: fluxblog disagrees, which gladdens me. if we all were in agreement, what debate would there be? my point is simply this: I find cat power's music, by and large, incredibly boring. don't know much of anything about her as a person - she's probably quite lovely.

excellent interview with audioslave at I really, really like this band - could they, possibly, conceivably, be greater than the sum of their parts? just a thought.

virginia is the only state in the u.s. which limits its governors to one term. current governor mark warner's apparently decided to challenge that, and I'm very glad. the constitutional prohibition hurts virginia in many ways, and is ridiculous.

...and not only do we get indiana-gonzaga, that kentucky-virginia game looks pretty tasty, too. 4 teams, all with something to prove. I love the maui invitational.

of course, let's not forget the delicious pre-thanksgiving matchups the preseason nit has in store wednesday night.

and ball state's theron smith spent last week at the top of the world classic in fairbanks, ak. read all about it.

yes, I'm a faithful black and gold purdue fan, but I really like indiana's basketball team this year. and tonight, we get indiana vs. gonzaga in maui. mmmm.

"I'm not no bad guy": yes, ruben, and you're intelligent, too. could the blazers be any more of a mess?

Monday, November 25, 2002

and since I've forgotten to reply to chris' email for nigh on a week now, I'll answer it here: I listen to music incessantly. at work, at home, often in transit, in my roommate's car. there's nearly always music playing at my desk at work; my biggest decision each morning isn't what to wear, but what cds to take with me. and if I'm at home, there's a 90% likelihood that I've got music streaming out of my hard drive (unless I'm watching tv, which isn't that often - ergo, the 90%). that's how I listen to - consume - so much music. and I wouldn't have it any other way. music is life.

like many, I was anxiously awaiting missy elliot's under construction, certain that this would be the year that a missy album matched her raw creativity and vast imagination. well... I'm still waiting for that.

for whatever reason, missy is a master of the single as an art form, but seems to have problems with full-lengths. I'm left dumbstruck by "work it," because I didn't think it possible for her to top "get ur freak on," and she makes it sounds so damned simple. on the album, though, "work it" is followed by "bring the pain," yet another sad method man collaboration (ripping rza's track from the original "bring the pain," too). that's followed by "gossip folks" featuring ludacris, which samples "double dutch bus" to obnoxious effect - and luda's verse is uncharacteristically dull. and would someone tell me why missy has to inform us that every single track is a "missy elliot exclusive"?

"back in the day" gets things back on track nicely. without sounding sonically retro, missy (and her partner-in-crime, timbaland) loops a capital-p-h-a-t bassline while she reminisces about ol' skool with the help of her pal jay-z (sweet verse: "'cause I kill at will, like solid water, dude, y'all niggas don't get it - kill at will, solid water, ice cube? [laughs]"). this one's got to be a future single. "pussycat" moves us into the non-packed-with-guests section of the album. it's got a nearly loose ends-esque backing track, all smooth, spare, and slick, with the faintest cushiony '80s synths in the distance. predictably, the song's about pudenda. the "bob george" vocal effects in the bridge are a marvelous finishing touch.

oddly, her retro-ish track is the subsequent "go to the floor," made on an epmd-dry drum track, as musically uninteresting as that might sound (I've never quite gotten why epmd were so lauded; most of erick sermon's productions leave me stone-cold). "play that beat"'s sole highlight is the use of a cat cry replacing what I assume is the word "pussy" (much like the elephant in "work it"). tweet sings the chorus on "nothing out there for me," a simplistic song about why missy has no reason to want to leave home. "ain't that funny" is emblematic of the problems under construction has, and sadly, most of them revolve around the production: tim and missy have become so enamored of a hard, technoid sound that they seem resistant to let go of it most of the time. it was initially novel, but now it sounds more bland and dated than anything. [think of what missy could do working with the streets, or ms. dynamite's producer, even - and then wonder with me why she hasn't experimented with uk garage yet.]

missy elliot is clearly one of the most inventive minds working in music today. unfortunately, her albums have yet to thoroughly showcase that fact - until she releases a single collection, at least. or maybe until her fifth album.

tim mcgraw's kinda-evolution continues. his new single, "she's my kind of rain," continues his '02 artistic hit streak. he said in a recent cmt interview that

"I wanted to get the kind of sound that I grew up listening to, some of the ‘70s stuff -- ‘70s country and ‘70s rock ‘n’ roll and ‘70s r&b and that really cool, thick sound -- so we recorded analog."

well, not only is the fact that he recorded analog interesting enough (place you money his wife didn't do the same), but it's sounding like he got the sound he wanted, that "cool, thick sound." "rain" sounds less country than "I'm gonna getcha good!" - I mean, shania's got a fiddle on her record. but that doesn't mean "rain" is any less good. it really does sound like soulful rock, and tim's working, stretching his range; he sings in a register north of his usual, and it works. more than anything, this is the love song analogue to "angel boy," even if not lyrically as sound (what the hell does "like a love from a drunken sky" mean?). it's just as much of a grower, and might be just as good.

also on tim's new album, tim mcgraw and the dancehall doctors, is a very interesting cover - of elton john's "tiny dancer." tim sounds even more soulful on this track, and simultaneously more raw and less polished. the addition of a pedal steel doesn't necessarily make it overwhelmingly country, and I couldn't care less about that. recording with his road-tested band seems to've loosened tim up quite a bit; he's sounding warmer and more relaxed on his new material. like a friend, like a guy fronting a great bar band, not like a multiplatinum superstar. kim carnes singing backup on "dancer" sure doesn't hurt, either (that burlap quality of her voice blends perfectly with tim's). whatever genre he's working in, as he grows more comfortable in himself (credit faith [his wife, I mean], and his ever-expanding popularity), tim's music takes more chances and becomes, accordingly, more interesting. bravo.

it's exempt tournament time in college basketball, which means you need to know what to watch. andy katz helps out in his "weekly watch."

Sunday, November 24, 2002

my grubby ears have latched onto copies of missy's under construction and shania's up!, as well as numerous tracks from whitney's just whitney and the roots' latest bomb shit, phrenology. discussion forthcoming.

and while we're at it, why do I find jennifer lopez's "jenny from the block" (featuring jadakiss and styles) so appealing which each subsequent listen? could it be the "south bronx" flute sample? flutes are very cool, you know (my sis played one in high school). could it be 'kiss and styles? well, duh. could it be the bizarre, tabloid-television-esque video featuring lots of blurred out shots of j-lo's ass(ets)? well, no, though watching ben affleck for the sake of just watching ben affleck never hurt (though watching him rub suntan lotion on j-lo kinda does). and does she think anyone's really buying her the-lady-doth-protest-way-too-much "I'm still just a homegirl from the bronx" routine? yet I find myself playing it again. please help.

why in the world, knowing what I do, am I a sucker for whitesnake's "is this love," of all things?!

I'm not quite sure what to make of blur's "don't bomb when you're the bomb," which they released as a de facto white label (7", no less) in the u.k. last week. it sounds utterly nothing like any blur you've ever heard; it's more a dub track with some squonky-farty keyb progressions and a casio handclap beat laid over it than anything else. damon, sounding heavily medicated, drifts through the mix ocassionally, singing the title (the song's only lyrics). it's certainly not a radiohead-type move, and doesn't have enough words to be a real protest song. "don't bomb" just kind of sits there, staring at you, daring you to say something. you're left wondering what the point of it is.

I'm working on a piece about christmas songs, but have ripped up and am re-doing what I've got so far. it'll come at some point this week.

you probably already know that ohio state's fiesta-bound. and for the most part, I'm glad, because it's nice to finally have a rep from my conference in the bcs championship game. but there was a part of my definitely rooting against the buckeyes, for one simple reason: I wanted to see (and still might) the bcs thrown into disarray yet again. I think that's the only way we'll ever get a true national championship in division one-a college football, and that's a damned shame. they can do it in d-1aa, d-2, and d-3, but not at the top ranks? that's not bcs, that's straight-up b.s., pure and simple. so now I'll root against miami - that's called having your cake and eating it.

in other big 10 news, my beloved boilers retrieved the old oaken bucket yesterday, and are pathetically bowl-eligible at 6-6 (I say that because I don't want them to go bowling, as all they're likely to do is get their asses kicked). and penn state's larry johnson is making a hell of a late-season run at the heisman.

well, #1 vs. #2 happened today in women's basketball, only it wasn't much of a contest. apparently, duke is top-ranked for good reason. apparently, it has quite a bit to do with player-of-the-year front-runner alana beard.

have already been up for almost two hours, downloading christmas music. I'm positively giddy. [I'll blog some of the selections later today - while I'm morally opposed to putting up christmas decorations before thanksgiving, it's never too early for christmas music.]

Saturday, November 23, 2002

at long last, after reading about it on every musicblog except mine, I finally tracked down a copy of lcd soundsystem's "losing my edge." predictably, I'm in love. it's a music snob/crit's wet dream, a kinda nyc no-wave '80 track with a guy talking over top of it about "cool" music ad infinitum. if you're not a music freak, you'll probably hate it: "what? it's just some beat over and over, with some weird guy talking." but for the rest of us, nirvana.

kate bush died for tori amos' and bjork's sins. except, of course, that she's not dead, just doing a salinger these days: since 1985, kate's released two new albums, the last one nine years ago. and except, of course, that she's better than tori or bjork ever will be (and for the record, I'm a fan of both of those artists). kate bush often makes me think of joni mitchell, both appallingly talented, creative women mightily in touch with their muses - and artists whose influence is much greater than their soundscan numbers. I miss kate bush, and wonder what she might be up to, musically, today.

my favorite song of kate's has always been "experiment iv," her post-hounds of love single included on her then-summation, the whole story. this was the first album of hers I heard, and while some think hits collections a cop-out, it's still my favorite. "experiment iv" is also, at its root, a horrifying song: "they told us what they wanted/was a sound that could kill someone," kate sings in the chorus. it's the story of a secret military plot on which the song's narrator was working - very 1984 in tenor and theme. it's also classic kate. this is a woman, remember, whose first (u.k.) hit (a #1) was a song based on bronte's writing's, titled "wuthering heights." as her career continued from that auspicious 1978 start, kate grew into her skin as an artist (as opposed to just a singer/songwriter), eventually producing her own work as well, which worked in her favor. the textures of kate's later works - "experiment," "love and anger," "the sensual world - are much more lush and warm than her earlier records, produced by pink floyd's david gilmour.

what tori, especially, takes from kate is her oddly refreshing - or refreshingly odd - lyricism (take the first line from "sensual world": "then I take the kiss of seedcake back from his mouth"?!). what bjork gets is the ability (though I'd imagine it's easier from the start when you're icelandic) to be wholly of herself (tori, too, come to think). just as madonna, kate bush's influence is wide-reaching, and moreso, the doors she broke down (mainly in great britain) for female artists, especially those not quite working in the pop axiom as reflected in the charts (though she's had much success in g.b.). with a voice like a lover's tongue licking your neck and lyrics often straight from the mad hatter, kate bush is one for the ages.

Friday, November 22, 2002

I think it's fair to say that we can all agree that whitney houston's "whatchulookinat" was horrible. on first listen, I thought it was alright. I soon realized it was more akin to watching a car accident: horrendous production (by her husband, no less), and paranoid-verging-on-nasty lyrics about the media reporting on her, um, issues. well, whit, that's a great way to get people to stop talking - bring 'em up in a song! genius! why didn't jacko think of that?

but now we get the first "official" single from the forthcoming just whitney - arista's damage control ran along the lines of "'whatchulookinat' wasn't really the single, it just got leaked, we don't know how it happened..." - and it's awfully nice. it's whitney, smoothed-out, which has been all-too-rare for a long while. "one of those days" talks about whitney just enjoying a day (and interpolating a bit of the isleys' "between the sheets") "cruising in your car ... when the sun is shining bright," et cetera. no, it's not deep. but the production is perfectly inobtrusive (with a whitney song, the focus should always be on that magnificent voice, which is still sounding gorgeous), and whit's not over-singing. "one of those days" seems like much more of a summer song than a winter one, but when a single this smooth comes along, I'll take it regardless of season. a delicious treat, quite recommended.

andy katz knows more about college basketball than you do. but he's willing to share.

and in the pro ranks, my beloved pacers are off to their best start ever. I'm so glad basketball season's in full swing.

hitlist: updated. current reading: finishing up both books, reviews to come shortly. and speaking of books, many thanks to rob byrnes for his lovely email regarding my review of his novel the night we met. [yeah, that might be a little self-effacing, but fuck it, it's my blog, so I suppose it's ocassionally allowable.]

stumpydisc: november 2002/2
1>fashion fight pause-hot hot heat. maybe I'm not such a good writer, because even as hhh are one of my favorite bands these days, all I can come up with to say about this track is "all ist klar, herr kommissar?"
2>first we take manhattan-jennifer warnes. in which ms. warnes warps from a soft-rock singer of crappy songs to an expert interpreter of other people's, complete with stevie ray vaughan on guitar. jagged and bitter, but no pill.
3>first we take manhattan-leonard cohen. the original, after the fact (a la dylan's "mississippi"). and just the same, a revelation. age has roughened, and improved, his voice, not the opposite.
4>fly like an eagle-seal. steve miller didn't know how to fly; seal was icarus.
5>forgive-rebecca lynn howard. she's not choked up, oh no, 'cause she's got lawyers.
6>from tha chuuuch to da palace-snoop dogg. one of the neptunes' finest works of '02, this is broken machines playing r-and-b. snoop's ever oblivious, just makin' the scene with the gangsta lean, baby.
7>groovejet (if this ain't love)-spiller (f/sophie ellis-bextor). she's ace in a housey setting. she trumps herself on a pop record, though.
8>hate to say I told you so-the hives. grunge '92 = garage '02. and these swedes might be nirvana.
9>him-rupert holmes. see this explication.
10>house of jealous lovers-the rapture. interpol's evil twin?
11>hurt-johnny cash. the man in black meets the man in - leather? bondage gear? - and does the unthinkable, making a reznor song sound more painful than before.
12>I am mine-pearl jam. good pearl jam, which is sometimes good enough.
13>I hate rock'n'roll-the jesus and mary chain. hundreds of shoegazers died for their sins. the crown for "velvet underground of the '80s" goes to them, the pixies, or sonic youth. take your pick.
14>(I know) I'm losing you-rod stewart. where did he misplace those testicles?
15>I walk the line (revisited)-rodney crowell f/johnny cash. an expert re-interpretation by a guy who should know - he was john's son-in-law for 10+ years. glad to know there's no hard feelings, then.
16>if I was your girlfriend (live at paisley park)-prince f/miles davis. there aren't too many times when a pair of honest-to-god geniuses collide. this was one.

really, I will blog some original content soon, I promise. in the meantime, read what the ever-talented chet flippo has to say about the woman he calls "the empress shania."

by now you know of the daily brilliance which is no rock'n'roll fun. but I've been remiss - and will thus take myself to the bloody scourge closet later - in not mentioning the no rock'n'roll fun colour supplement. all the fun of xrrf, without the rr. and with some other stuff.

when was the last time you saw the #1 and #2 teams in any (college) sport play each other in their second game of the season? it's happening sunday. it's duke vs. tennessee. and you can bet I'll be watching.

oh, dear god, no, no, no.

I didn't blog yesterday 'cause I was too busy catching up on my reading of other blogs, actually. that and slight mental fatigue from the new job. will try to get back to, at least, blogging the rest of the current batch of "stumpydiscs" after work today.

in the meantime, phantroll and I have teamed up to bring you an occasional trivia contest at waking ear. the prize is a mix cd made exclusively for the winner. [plus, you should really be reading waking ear every day, anyway.]

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

my blogger code is B2 d- t- k+ s+ u-- f++ i o x e- l c-.
my bear code is B5 d+ e f g++ k+ r- s+ t w.
in case you were wondering.

I'll never forget the first time I heard of kitchens of distinction. it was a write-up in spin's "heavy rotation" column, and read as follows (this is as close to a direct quotation as the 10+-year-old memory will let me pull up): "three men of varying sexual preferences met in a london supermarket and decided to start a band. they muss you up like neneh cherry if she played guitar and listened to the smiths." that was everything I needed, or ever (then) wanted to hear; I went to my local indie record store the next day and ordered love is hell (one little indian u.k., 1989) on import vinyl. when it came the next week, I took it home, unwrapped it, and put in on my turntable with breathless anticipation. from its opening notes, all of my expectations were met.

to my ears, kod were the most exciting guitar band to come out (of the u.k.) since the smiths. and my comparisons didn't stop there. both bands were led by openly gay singers, with voices which could caress or growl, depending on the demands of their lyrics. both were on indies (rough trade and oli). and both sounded so fresh and so clean, like the sound of something new.

kod took the waves-of-guitar from the shoegazers and married it to (semi-) traditional pop song structures. just listen to the coda (starting at 3:50) of "drive that fast," from their second album, strange free world (a&m, 1991). the intertwining lead figures dance atop a bed of rhythm chords alongside the bass and drums, on and on, until they can't go one step further and combust like the sun. meanwhile, patrick fitzgerald's vocals dive and soar within and -out of the commotion. there's an urgency to his voice, a needful pleading quality combined with a(n un)certain forcefulness and drive, pushing forward, taking no prisoners (except in love, which is a war of its own to him).

lyrics never less than honest (if ocassionally muddled - love'll do that), guitars simultaneously prodding and becalming, a rhythm section that did what it was supposed to (i.e. keep the beat), kod were magnificently true. add to that an all-too-rare quality in rock bands: they were unapologetically gay (well, patrick was, but the lead singer often makes the band) and sang about it. how could I not love a serious band with such qualities? [I don't love pansy division for the opposite reason: they seem too jokey to me.] kod disbanded in 1996 after increasing commercial failures (most notably in the u.s.). I wonder what they'd sound like today.

it doesn't matter if you don't know all the bands (I certainly don't). chris smith's musical diary is great. fucking. writing. [and reading.]

marvelous, dense, meaty blogging from the ever-brilliant simon reynolds on if-it-were "electrobash" (with the horsepower productions album the jumping-off point - I really do need to track that record down).

go home productions are at it again, posting four new tracks today. I'm especially fond of "I dream of pussy," which puts khia's "my neck, my back" in a soundclash with the theme from I dream of jeannie. believe it or not, I've never heard the khia track, but don't feel a need to now; this is obviously how it should've been done from the start. ghp's winning streak continues.

jenn has posted her 100 things list (part of the 100 bloggers project). I'll have to be sure to print out a copy for her husband.

stumpydisc: november 2002/1
1>19 (extended version)-paul hardcastle. how the fuck did this smooth-jazzer come up with such a winning would-be pastiche of laswell, hancock, and coldcut? all hard synth-drum breakbeats, art of noise(y) keyb stabs, and harrowing samples about the vietnam war. yet another "how did I forget this?" for my top 80 of the '80s.
2>a sorta fairytale-tori amos. unimpressed early on, but it's a grower. comfort tori (as in comfort food).
3>aerials-system of a down. meet the new rage, only more obtuse and less didactic? plus, rage never used cellos.
4>akshon (yeah!)-killer mike f/outkast. thud-thud-thud-thud, yeah!
5>back for good-mcalmont & butler. not entirely winning - I expected it to soar more. but never dull, with david mcalmont's caramel voice involved.
6>bad (live at live aid)-u2. back when (most) everyone first noticed their power and glory.
7>break you off-the roots f/musiq. the first 0:13 needs your attention: before the funkalicious groove, black thought flippin' lyrics, musiq crooning like the soul baby he is, you get some eerie chords and a few click-clack moments which could be bjork or matmos.
8>broken english-marianne faithfull. new wave fit her so nicely, like a rubber straightjacket.
9>come close to me-common f/mary j. blige. nice, but less impressive with each spin. how does this 'un not feature badu?
10>come into my world (fischerspooner mix)-kylie minogue. coke-laced anal sex on wax. and she loves it.
11>die another day-madonna. she may have yet found what she's been looking for - her most viscerally exciting record in nigh on 10 years, essentially the sound of madonna deconstructing.
12>don't let's start-they might be giants. their alpha and omega, the reason the two johns have the fans they have. flaming lips sober: "wake up and smell the cat food in your bank account."
13>dy-na-mi-tee-ms. dynamite. not sure why she's getting a u.k. backlash - maybe if I was there and had been reading her press, I'd understand. some of the smoovest r-and-b you'll hear all year, and much better than the new craig david. maybe she is the new craig david - circa "re-rewind," not "what's your flava."
14>expensive shit-fela kuti. the river from which all afro-funky blessings flow.

not only has jess returned from the wilderness, but his current piece has one of the best music-review sentences I've ever read: "the result is like super-imposing a half dozen full-color photos of 'funk' on top of one another." brilliant. he's also finally published in the voice this week, reviewing dj sammy, of all things.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

ooh! ooh! freaky trigger's pop music focus group vii ballot is up. I'll likely post mine here once I get it done.

I apologize for not being able to blog more this week thus far; as I said, work is the main culprit. that and the ever-popular blogger excuse: I have some stuff I'm working on, some longer pieces. notably one on the greatness that was kitchens of distinction. hell, I haven't even had enough time to read all my beloved blogs, let alone post on mine.

when you start referring to yourself in the third person, it usually means you think far too much of yourself. but we already knew that about iverson: phenomenal basketball player, total punk as a person.

how does it (i.e. pepper spray) feel? d'angelo resists arrest, from my local paper.

Monday, November 18, 2002

burning a new set of stumpydiscs, which, computer access allowing, I'll discourse upon tomorrow. I'll just say this for now: they begin with paul hardcastle's "19 (extended version)" and end with "zombie" by fela kuti. and again, there's four of 'em. more to come.

"eminem revisited (sort of)": wherein michael goldberg learns to stop worrying and love eminem - as an actor, not a rapper. yet another piece of blissfully good writing from goldberg's neumu.

finished the year of ice over the weekend, and it's a knockout; I was reminded of the visceral way in which I responded to jim grimsley's dream boy the first time I read that. it's like a gut punch that feels like a tongue kiss. brian malloy has crafted one hell of a debut novel. it's one of the best I - or hopefully, you - will read all year.

I'm listening to rupert holmes' "him" for about the sixth consecutive time. yes, rupert holmes, he of "the pina colada song" fame (you know: "if you like pina coladas/and getting caught in the rain," etc.). "him" was the followup single to all those coladas, released in 1980; it made it all the way to #6 in the u.s. singles chart, which amazed me as until a couple months ago, I'd never even heard, nor heard of, it. did you know that he wrote songs for the drifters and platters? or that he produced streisand? and that's still not why you should care. it's all about "him," which is one of those nasty (possible) breakup songs from someone you don't expect (see also: linda ronstadt's "easy for you to say"). "him" concerns a lover/husband discovering his lady's infidelity:

"over by the window
there's a pack of cigarettes
not my brand, you understand
sometimes the girl forgets

she forgets to hide them
I know who left those smokes behind
she'll say, "oh, he's just a friend"
and I'll say "oh, I'm not blind," to

him, him, him
what's she gonna do about him?
she's gonna have to do without him
or do without
me, me, me
no one gets to get it for free
it's me or it's him"

and later:

"I don't want to own her
but I can't let her have it both ways
three is one too many of us
she leaves with me, or stays
with him..." (chorus continues)

this has got to be one of the most spot-on, realistic songs about a cheating lover/spouse ever, and it's all the more stunning coming from, well, the "pina colada" man. holmes' observations are honest and real, with no sugar-coating, and his (his protagonist's, rather) attitude to it all is intentionally rational, rather than blase. the music is what you might expect, typical state-of-the-art cusp-of-the-'80s midtempo pop. but the lyrics - oh! what an honest punch they pack. succulent.

more than many things, I'd love to have dinner with jeff cooped-up and chris flyovercountry (and with jeff at the table, we'd be assured of good wine with dinner!). I discovered their blogs on the same day (post-election day, appropriately enough), and they're, well, a bit different. chris is a proud christian and conservative, but not a christian conservative (i.e. falwell he's a thoughtful, highly intelligent family man who loves his sports (especially his sooners), and I respect him even when I don't agree with him (kinda like my dad, actually - not that I'm saying you remind me of my dad, chris) - that's the key. jeff is also a thoughtful, highly intelligent family man who loves his sports. I agree with him more often (he's a proud liberal), but by no means all the time. the opinions of both of them, however, are so well articulated that both of their blogs are must-reads. oh, and they're both in law (have to admit, sometimes jeff loses me with some of the jurisprudence). said it before, I'll say it again: totally rocking. and just imagine what the dinner table conversation would be like!

wanna be the singer for not-guns n' roses? get those demos in now, kids. [c'mon, someone, please - I mean, the lead singer from psychotica? the lead singer from fucking lit?!]

Sunday, November 17, 2002

finally tonight, a little sad blog news for my readers: I'm moving to a new position at work tomorrow, and for the present moment won't be equipped with a computer. plus my workload's going up dramatically. which means my blogging will largely be limited to evenings for the immediate future. sorry. it hurts me more, if that's any consolation. if you're a newish reader, why not catch up on the archives in the meantime?

wow, or as some say on the other side of the pond, cor blimey! chig is as much (if not more!) of a chart fanatic as I am. not only is his blog fantastic, but his 50 number ones project is marvelous. as you may have heard - and can't escape knowing if you're in the uk - this week was the 50th anniversary of the british singles chart (click on "all the no. #1s" for the complete list). as you also may have heard, simon is a bit nonplussed (and that's putting it lightly) about thiss weeek's bigg anniverrsarry #1.

joss whedon amazes me. I still have yet to see firefly (my roommate raves about it), but buffy is definitely back this season, and angel just goes from strength to strength. tonight's episode was shockingly powerful, and powerfully shocking. apparently, whedon did an online chat a couple weeks ago on aol. read the transcript from the wb's website.

Congratulations, you're Washington, DC., the capitol of the United States.
What US city are you? Take the quiz by Girlwithagun.

this just in: tony stewart has won the 2002 nascar winston cup championship.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

has there ever been a more perfect christian-slash-love-song than delirious?'s "I could sing of your love forever"?

sad but noble: adrian wojnaroski on manute bol, from

second spin:
1. father mc, "everything's gonna be alright"
2. tom cleland, "songclones"
3. earth, wind & fire, "can't hide love (masters at work remix)"
4. girls on top, "we don't give a damn about 'r friends'"
5. rush, "distant early warning"
6. billy joel, "big shot"
7. van halen, "dance the night away"
8. the roots with zach de la rocha and chuck d, "burn hollywood burn"
9. bruce springsteen, "the rising"
10. tweet, "call me"

"songclones" is a better idea than it is a song. girls on top, a/k/a richard x, made the original of the bootleg covered (and made a uk #1) by sugababes (as "freak like me"). it's just weird how I got that classic rock radio triple-play in the middle. and "the rising" isn't nearly as good as I'd first thought; I now prefer "lonesome day."

this is such a simple, yet marvelous, idea, and gives an interesting angle on what's on your hard drive - not to mention that it can remind you of songs you'd forgotten were there in the first place. f'instance, I'd forgotten how much I love moony's "dove"; it's now back in contention for a spot on my year-end top 50. I'll probably do this from time to time just to open another window into my head. [thanks to the rub for alerting me to this - oh, and I use musicmatch, not winamp.]

first spin:
1. jay-z, "regrets"
2. placebo, "bigmouth strikes again"
3. u2, "bad (live at live aid)"
4. freddie mercury, "I was born to love you"
5. anne murray, "a little good news"
6. the smiths, "girlfriend in a coma"
7. sonic youth, "the simpsons closing theme"
8. moony, "dove (I'll be loving you)"
9. ornette coleman, "lonely woman"
10. dan tyminski, "stuck in the middle of nowhere"

the blueprint 2: the gift and the curse blog reviews update: fred's complete review is up. hooray!

the 100 bloggers project is so fucking cool, I can't not be a part of it. so here we go.

100 things about submeat.
1. the (nick)name "submeat" came about accidentally. I have an email address with "submeta" in it, and gaz once mistyped it. he liked it, I liked it, it stuck.
2. gaz was the first person I knew, personally, with his own domain name.
3. my parents have never seen my blog.
4. I'm the only male of four children my parents had, and the oldest child.
5. my dad, uncles, male cousins (on dad's side) and I all have what I call "the inskeep face."
6. I smoke camel filters in the hard pack.
7. I smoke more when I'm on my computer.
8. my roommate is also an ex-boyfriend.
9. we're better roommates than we were boyfriends.
10. I don't actually have a college degree, but I came close. I'm going to complete it eventually.
11. my favorite ice cream is breyer's peach. though I also dearly love edy's snickers.
12. I own a working turntable, and over 500 records.
13. I actually play them.
14. on my turntable right now is toto iv, which I used to own on cassette. it was my first cassette ever. gaz gave it to me on my 11th birthday.
15. I've seen hall & oates in concert twice in the last five years.
16. I sleep nude.
17. I was born in kokomo, indiana, which I recently learned is also the birthplace of '80s country star sylvia (of "nobody" fame).
18. good sushi makes me gleeful. especially smoked eel.
19. I have 17 first cousins on my dad's side.
20. I used to own over 100 pairs of underwear. I don't anymore.
21. when I met me'shell ndegeocello, she held my hand and said "breathe, baby, it's gonna be okay" (I was nearly hyperventilating).
22. I always sleep with a fan blowing on me, even in winter.
23. I usually also sleep with a wind machine on, and with national weather service radio playing in the background.
24. I can watch the weather channel for an hour and be entertained.
25. I read a lot.
26. I once hosted a new year's eve party at which I ran through the house nude at midnight.
27. I was a resident assistant in college.
28. I'm writing a novel.
29. my greatest love, sports-wise, is college basketball.
30. I lived most of my life in indiana.
31. I will always root for my beloved purdue boilermakers, win or lose.
32. I never knew how to make myself orgasm until I was almost 18. my first boyfriend taught me.
33. after that, it was all downhill from there.
34. I use a zippo lighter that my baby sister gave me.
35. she makes me prouder than she realizes, in so many ways.
36. I've been a dj on five different radio stations.
37. I'm no longer in radio.
38. but will always have it in my veins.
39. I'm a city boy, and always have been, even though I was raised on a farm.
40. I hated the farm growing up.
41. I now live in a metro area of over one million people.
42. I live on the virginia coastline, and love it.
43. even though I can't swim.
44. I can't drive, either.
45. or ride a bicycle.
46. amongst gay men, I'm considered a "bear."
47. I spend too much time chatting on
48. my best friend stumpy has been my best friend for over eight years.
49. we're both colossal music and pop-culture geeks.
50. I'm single, and currently happy with that.
51. I identify with john cusack's character in high fidelity.
52. I can't stand coffee.
53. I drink pepsi in the mornings. and any other time.
54. one of my favorite things about living in the south is sweet iced tea.
55. my favorite animal is the cow.
56. I grew up on a dairy farm.
57. I love to roadtrip.
58. I sometimes get crushes on guys I meet online who live far away.
59. I once let someone watch me having sex.
60. I've never been further south than ocracoke, nc.
61. I've never been further west than iowa city, ia.
62. my only international travel was to canada. and that was only to windsor (through the tunnel from detroit), which hardly counts.
63. I have curly hair, but no one's seen it in almost nine years. I keep my hair buzzed.
64. I get my hair cut at supercuts, largely because it's across the street and they give good "tea tree" scalp massages.
65. 85% of the time, I really like my job.
66. I have a sister I haven't spoken with in five years.
67. my favorite song of all time is stardust's "music sounds better with you."
68. I've only been in one fistfight in my life. I was in second grade, and gave kristian gaerte a bloody nose. yes, that's a boy.
69. I have self-esteem issues sometimes.
70. I've been keeping a journal, on-and-off, for 15 years.
71. I'm bad with money.
72. I have over 2500 music files on my hard drive.
73. the only other thing I have much of stored on my computer is porn.
74. the tap water here sucks, so I often drink evian.
75. I bowl on a gay league.
76. I'm not that good, but I have fun. my average is currently a 126.
77. I've bowled in three gay tournaments in the past 4 months, in raleigh, here (norfolk), and d.c. I bowled like poo in all of them.
78. in d.c., I was caught by my friends making out with a guy in the hotel jacuzzi.
79. I can be very kinky.
80. I have a fear of heights.
81. I'm also afraid of snakes.
82. I use Pepsodent toothpaste.
83. my professional idol is robert christgau.
84. casey kasem was the reason I got into radio. really.
85. I love espnews intensely, because they still show the scores even during commercials.
86. I've only had sex in six different states.
87. I took seven years' worth of english classes in four years of high school.
88. I played trombone for six years.
89. I invited my first- and second-grade teacher (I had her for both years) to my college commencement reception (I didn't realize I wouldn't actually get my degree, long story), and she actually came.
90. most of my best friends are heterosexual.
91. I'd rather go to a sports bar than a gay bar.
92. I've never done drag, and never will.
93. I came out to my parents before I'd ever had sex (I was 16).
94. I want a portable mp3 player for christmas.
95. I shave every other day during the week, but usually not on weekends.
96. I have a goatee.
97. I won the county spelling bee in 6th grade. my winning word was "embroidery." I've never received another trophy since.
98. I'm proud of my blog.
99. I broke my arm when I was four.
100. I'll have my 32nd birthday next month.

questions, comments, concerns?

Friday, November 15, 2002

a note about the newly-added "artist sites" (as always, on your left): there are a few criteria which must be met before I'll add an artist's site. it's got to be kept relatively current, be an official site (unless completely unavailable, as in the mozzer's case), and be of an artist I totally respect as an artist. they might blow up but they won't go pop. well, except for kylie...

truvy and the yankee blogger don't just kick ass, they beat it down (almost as much as soblo). and tyb's 100 bloggers project is fascinating. I'm going to get my submission in (albeit near the deadline), ya heard?

oh, and speaking of soblo, I've had 18 hits today via his blog. thanks, gorgeous (and all his readers who clicked their way over here)! the last couple of days I've been smashing my records for hits - almost 170 today! and I passed the 2500 total hits mark in just over a month, awwright! seriously, I thank all of you who've visited, and hope some of you even come back. [grin.]

I am far too interested in my hit counts. don't let it happen to you, kids.

p.s.: I im'd for a bit with ernie (mr. little. yellow. different.) today, and he's even cooler than his blog might lead you to believe. as a funny bulgarian once said, totally rocking.

p.s. #2: thanks to those responsible for fluxblog, the green[e]house effect, and addaboy for their lovely emails. keep 'em comin', folks!

fred's overview of the blueprint 2 is up, along with his take on disc one ("the gift"). spizzazzz have now reviewed both "the gift" and "the curse" (disc two). killer reviews, y'all, and much better than I could do.

yay! yay! zwan is finally coming.

the only thing better than getting personal mail is getting personal mail with homemade cds enclosed. today, I received the new edition (a bit late, as it's labeled "summer 2002," but I'm just being picky 'cause I know I can with gaz) of grand theft audio. awwright! you can get a copy, too - just go to the gta site. while you're at it, send gaz some text messages on his cell phone.

addendum: god damn, that dj made my day! grand theft audio: summer 2002 fucking rules. it's loaded with great, killer (mostly indie) rock. lots of bands I didn't know before, like the casket lottery, and rainer maria. gaz kicks serious ass.

reading, savoring brian malloy's the year of ice. wow. it's the story of a twin cities highschool senior in 1978 who's gay, has some serious family drama (regarding a dead mom and a distant dad), and is in love with a kinda-dense classmate with chocolate brown hair. having trouble articulating how to write about this novel; it's so rich, so real, it gets it, the whole gay-in-highschool thing. korn's "thoughtless" goes surprisingly well with it. I wonder, if kevin (the protagonist) was 18 now, if he'd be into korn? I think so. and if you happen to be reading this, mr. malloy, please let me know your thoughts.

another site I keep forgetting to blog is neumu, which michael goldberg started after the demise of addicted to noise (as greg greene so kindly reminded me). some of the most articulate, thoughtful writing about music on this vast web you'll ever find.

apparently, I should be living in san francisco. I did one of those "best places" quizzes, to figure out which metro area is best-suited for me. oddly, norfolk-virginia beach-newport news, va/nc doesn't pop up, and that's where I live. five of my top ten are in california, a place I've never been. [I tried to link to the quiz, but wsj seems to be problematic in that regard.]

for some reason, I keep forgetting to mention how much I truly adore little. yellow. different. but today I remember, particularly because this post made me convulse into a fit of giggles, eyes tearing up I was laughing so hard. I want to date you, ernie.

the everyday happenings of weebl is pants-wettingly funny (link via the minor 9th).

I "heart" carville and begala. I'll buy this book today, though not from (have you looked at their privacy policy? not so great, which is a shame, as amazon basically kicks ass).

starting my (work) day with fleetwood mac's rumours, which I bought for 50 cents on cassette, pristine condition, at a goodwill last year. what a fucking steal! this is a magnificent album, a towering achievement, a landmark in pop music. especially considering it came as part of the los angeles soft-rock boom of the mid-'70s (think eagles, ronstadt, jackson browne, rumours stands tall above all the pretenders, however, for a number of reasons.

firstly, it's phenomenal pop/rock. say what you will about lindsey buckingham, stevie nicks, even christine mcvie, but they know (knew?) how to write songs; the fact that all of them were writing about the relationship nightmares consuming them (which also meant the band) certainly helps. lindsey and stevie, in particular, contributed some of their most biting work to the album ("go your own away," "the chain," "gold dust woman"). and the playing and song construction is nearly unrivaled. this is the stuff gossamer pop dreams are made of; the mac's aces in the hole in this regard are lindsey's guitar playing (amazing!) and the three singer's harmonies. stevie, of course, has a stunning ringer of a voice, but in some ways I almost prefer her as a harmony singer than as a lead. the way her voice intricately weaves its way around lindsey's and christine's is gorgeous. christine mcvie is, and always was, the mac's secret weapon. while not the raw talent of stevie or lindsey, her songs stand their own, and are often some of the most depressing ("oh daddy," "songbird").

so many songs off this record have become part of the american musical canon - "dreams," "don't stop," "go your own way," "the chain," "you make loving fun," "gold dust woman" - that most of us could sing 'em in our sleep. but more than that, you can hear the harmonies, the instrumentation in your head, and that's not just because of radio overkill (if that were the case, I'd know every word to "stairway to heaven," and I don't). it's because rumours is a collection of gibraltar-solid songs, performed by a band at the peak of their powers (odd, considering they were all coked out of their minds at the time), proverbially firing on all cylinders.

marcello has written a crystalline appreciation of haircut one hundred. please read it, and then go purchase pelican west.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

been listening to a lot of lloyd cole lately. I've never understood why he's never seemed to get his due, either commercially (well, that doesn't exactly surprise me), or critically, as a songwriter. yeah, the records he's made (most notably with the commotions, who were his attractions) are wonderful. but the songs! just take this line from "jennifer she said": "did you ever have a bad dream, wake up and it not stop?" so simple, yet no one put it down quite that way until lloyd did. and who would've had the sheer chutzpah to title a (solo) record don't get weird on me, babe? from lloyd, somehow, though, it doesn't sound like the sleazy come-on it could from nearly anyone else. "sean penn blues," "forest fire," "are you ready to be heartbroken?," and on - the catalog, if heard (which was lloyd's biggest problem, especially in the u.s.), speaks quite loudly for itself. I rank lloyd, unquestionably, up there with morrissey and leonard cohen in terms of the ripe sardonicism and bitter truths their lyrics convey. not to mention the incredibly wittiness of it all. 1984-89, a sterling comp of his years with the commotions, is still in print (in the u.s. at least). grab it immediately, I implore you.

lyric of the day: "they sentenced me to twenty years of boredom/for trying to change the system from within/I'm coming now, I'm coming to reward them/first, we take manhattan/then we take berlin." - leonard cohen, "first we take manhattan" (I'm your man, columbia 1988)

how's this for something-vaguely-akin-to-irony? just got email from jer of soblo - and I just discovered his killer blog! it fills me with joy. he suggests that now is greatly superior to eye, which I'd recommended a couple days back. you make the "beach mtv" call.

addendum: jer also turned me on to the clumsy twirler diaries. yum.

but wait, there's more! he also pointed out a fellow virginian, sam, whose blog is sxe fcuker. he has a very interesting life, it would seem...

ok, ok, alright, maybe I'm adding too many bloglinks. but be that as it may, you must read this piece at rhinoceros. now.

more new gay blogs, more new gay blogs (to your right)! and why am I making such a big deal about this, you (might) ask? because while I love all the blogs I link, especially the music blogs (and jenn's, of course), they're just one part of who I am. my sexuality is another part, just as important, and for whatever reason, I've stuggled to find some interesting, well-written gayblogs (actually, I think I prefer the term homoblogs. yeah, that rolls off the tongue more easily). the beauty of the blog world, of course, is that once you find one, the others come rushing at you (generally via the blogs other bloggers have linked). so there you go, and here you are. enjoy.

I should probably clarify something: freezing to death in the nuclear bunker is not a journal-type blog from a gay man. [grin.] it's jody beth rosen's music blog - she of southside callbox. just in case you were confused...

are you ready for some hoops, bay-bee?! the 2002-03 men's college basketball season starts tonight with the coaches vs. cancer classic at msg. 12 of espn's roundball experts weigh in with their predictions on the season. life is sweet.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

I think my blog looks more beautiful in italian - which, of course, I can't read. but if you can - or even if you can't - read italian, french, german, chinese, japanese, korean, portuguese, and/or spanish, you can now translate my blog into any of those languages. look for the fish on the left.

and lest I forget, I must thank all of you who read this blog. today, for the first time, I had over 100 hits! woo double hoo!

"the girl is the problem - not me." yeah, that's the way to get the fugees back together, genius.

finally found a bunch of journal-type (than focused, specifically on music) blogs tonight, all from gay men, which rock. they're to your left. you know the drill.

a reminder, in case you needed it, of what a fine writer nate patrin is, comes in the form of his review of beck's sea change for southside callbox (new issue! woo hoo!).

just read an absolutely heartbreaking short story on the bus home (which somehow feels appropriate), adam haslett's "reunion," from his collection you are not a stranger here. yes, it's a pick of today's book club; please don't let that scare you off. my buddy robin, who's appallingly brilliant and a fine, fine writer in his own right, recommended the book to me, and I'm stunned by the beauty and delicacy with which haslett writes. "reunion" is a tale of james, who at the age of 25 is dying of aids - and allowing himself to do so, perhaps out of shame -

"For a moment, he felt again the devouring shame that he'd let this disease he'd been so warned of into his body, let it in because he wanted pleasure and somewhere along the way believed people he shouldn't have. But he'd learned early in life there were things it was best not to think about. The shame passed and he didn't let his mind pursue it."

- and perhaps out of apathy. his memories, his deterioration are nearly difficult to read, as if too personal, too intimate. I actually teared up upon completing the story, which is quite rare. the rest of the stories in haslett's book are nearly as good, and all are as solid. phenomenal writing from a great new talent.

msnbc did a good online q&a with haslett in august.

has there ever been a more perfect prince rip-off than ready for the world's "oh sheila"?

tom petty apparently isn't the only musician who's cranky these days.

jay-z's the blueprint 2: the gift and the curse reviewed by the church of me and spizzazzz (here at "oh, manchester," the review we're most eagerly awaiting is from vain, selfish & lazy.).

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

about fucking time: a good review of tin machine.

has there ever been a more perfect cover-before-the-fact than jennifer warnes' "first we take manhattan"?

the forthcoming stp piece will have to be a little more forthcoming; I haven't been in the mood for it today. plus, I had to watch a really good episode of buffy tonight. and am reading a lot (see updated "current reading," to your left). also on the way: a piece on all of those "rave" compilations of about 10 years ago, and what they sound like now. and maybe appreciations of leonard cohen and marianne faithfull. we'll see.

this just in: the new johnny cash album, american iv: the man comes around, is predictably wonderful. full review soon.

has there ever been a more perfect song than leonard cohen's "first we take manhattan"?

now, this is interesting. also from the advocate (well,, actually): esara tuaolo is getting a lot of attention, of course, for being a former nfl tackle who's come out of the closet. but here's an interview with his husband, mitchell wherely.

ah, nothing like some sloppy journalism on a tuesday: cathay che interviews sinead o'connor for the advocate. choice cuts:
+che says of "nothing compares 2 u": "still a guilty pleasure, admit it." what's guilty about it? it still stands as both a magnificent song (written by prince), and a magnificent performance.
+"people still can't stop talking about" sinead's pope-photo episode on snl? when's the last time you heard someone talk about it?
+and, of course, che spends much of the interview talking about "controversy" and sinead's supposed coming out a few years back. I suppose that since it's for a gay magazine, the interview can't pay attention to the music, now, can it? what a shame someone with real musical knowledge couldn't have done the piece, rather than an editor for the fine publication time out new york. ugh.

there's no publisher I have a more love/hate relationship with than kensington. they publish a lot of gay novels. unfortunately, they also cloak many of them in occasionally embarassing covers (two cute guys, sometimes in various states of undress-cum-desire). at times, this distracts from the fact that the pages inside are less interesting. other times, it detracts from the fine quality of writing to be found under the covers. a good example of the latter is rob byrnes' the night we met. the jacket copy is predictably cheesy ("wickedly funny ... the most deliciously wacky love story in ages - a screwball romantic comedy..." - hello, cliche'!), and the cover features bold primary colors and two cute guys. it sounded different enough to be interesting (a gay love story where one of the protagonists is part of one of nyc's biggest mafia families), nice and fluffy, a quick easy read, so I picked it up...

...and was very surprised. not only is byrnes a natural-born novelist (this is his first), but he's crafted a superb novel that balances entertainment (and some classily done sex scenes) with literary merit. the plot seems to propel itself forward, lunging and jumping in places you don't anticipate. the main character, andrew westlake, is drawn very believably, a somewhat street-smart urban(e) gay man thrust into the milieu of new york city's two largest crime families. frank dibenedetto, the man who inadvertantly ensnarls him in the mess, is honest, a man unsure of who he is and what (or who) he wants. and significantly, the night we met has a satisfying ending. is this proust? no, and thank goodness for that. what it is, is a solidly-constructed commercial novel by an author whom I think is only going to get better as his writing continues. I'm eager to read more by byrnes. recommended.

last week's cma awards were interesting, but not enthralling.

part of that was the problem of the 900-pound monkey lurking over the proceedings, the song premiered at last year's show: alan jackson's "where were you (when the world stopped turning)." everyone knew he'd clean up because of that song, and clean up he did, taking home five trophies, a one-night haul equalled only twice before (by vince gill and willie nelson). "where were you" is a solid if unimpressive song which so perfectly crystallized the mood of a nation post-9/11, it became part of the zeitgeist. the worst that can be said about jackson is that he's a master at writing "everyman" songs - and that's not so bad, is it? he's country to the core, never gone pop, never really compromised (except for those damned mercury commercials), and is, I think, entirely sincere. plus, he sang (with george strait) "murder on music row," one of the greatest country records of the last decade.

the other part of the problem was the occasionally uneasy mix of what chet flippo calls red and blue music (purple goes everywhere). following alison krauss + union station's performance with rascal flatts?! the flatts, btw, took home the horizon award, which scares me - I certainly hope they're not the future of country. but there were quite a few fine performances, from everyone from keith urban to dolly parton (backed by a 40+-piece choir for a give-me-chills take on "hello god"). unfortunately, shania twain's wasn't one of them; she opened the show by riding through the audience on a motorcycle, before taking the stage for "I'm gonna getcha good!" - which she sang to a chiefly prerecorded track. c'mon, shania! you're making your long-awaited return to performance in north america after three years away, and this is all you can muster? sigh. in many ways, the highlight was seeing george jones walk onto the stage, singing the chorus to "he stopped loving her today," the greatest country song of all time. sure, he was off-tempo. but you know what? he's george jones, and he's the greatest country singer ever, and you're not, so shut up.

vince gill, who hosted for his 11th year, also gave a gem of a performance, a horn-driven lil' rockabilly/blues cut from his forthcoming album. interesting that vince seems to inch further away from country with each album, but yet comes back year after year to host the cmas. he makes for an inoffensive, if sometimes surprisingly funny, host.

the winners, you ask? mostly on the money. dixie chicks took vocal group, which seemed odd since they just released their new album a couple of months ago (watch them sweep the noms next year, along with shania and faith and tim, all nearly unrepresented this year). brooks and dunn win vocal duo in their sleep. female vocalist went to martina mcbride, who is a vocalist in the truest sense of the word, and gave a bravura perf of her new single "concrete angel." the hilarious brad paisley clip for "I'm gonna miss her" deservedly took the video trophy, and refreshingly, willie (and lee ann womack) carted home vocal event for the sterling "mendocino country line." pretty much everything else was taken home by action jackson.

tell you what, though: the cmas, more than any other awards show I know, are about the music. they crammed nearly 30 performances into three hours. that's awfully refreshing (just try to say that about the grammys with a straight face. c'mon). and dolly got to induct wacky ol' porter wagoner into the hall of fame. what more could you want, really?

tennis news: serena loses! andre is old, and still kicking ass! and a moment, please, for the great career of arantxa sanchez-vicario, who announced today that she's retiring after 17 years and 4 grand slams.

have I mentioned that the video for missy's "work it" is just as ridiculous as the song itself? here's a fine behind-the-scenes.

I'm not sure I buy jay-z's argument that his lyrical feud with nas helped nasir jones:
"I think it helped the guy out; I think he made better music."
sounds a bit too much like jay's ego-stroking again (him? never!). on the other hand, nas' last couple of records seem to have had an urgency missing from his late-'90s work. and I'll certainly take "one mic" over fucking "oochie wally" anyday. his forthcoming album is quite portentiously titled god's son (er, wouldn't that be jesus?), but its first single, "made you look," is smashing. it opens with a gunshot, a pounding, treble'd up snare track, and a string section sampled from an italian gangster flick. it's totally nyc, totally nas, and "you a slave to a page in [his] rhyme book." well, yeah. driving and propulsive like jay-z and biggie in '95 - yeah, it's that good.

Monday, November 11, 2002

coming tomorrow, hopefully: my overdue review of last week's cma awards, and an appreciation of stone temple pilots. yes, stone temple pilots.

I almost forgot to mention that it's veteran's day in the u.s. today. if you didn't do it today, tell a vet (or current servicemember) "thank you" tomorrow. and every day. these are the people who put their lives on the line for the freedoms most americans take for granted.

eye is to toronto as the voice is to nyc. definitely worth a read.

...your song includes what sounds like a toy piano
and... reference both allen iverson and michael vick in the lyrics
...the track very momentarily threatens to turn into "the whole world"
and... features your homies outkast
...organized noise are continuing their unstoppable streak of bangers
you are...
...killer mike, and your killer single is titled "akshon (yeah!)."

"come close to me," by common featuring mary j. blige, roughly = "the light" part 2. it's a sensitive-guy downtempo hiphop love jam featuring a true r-and-b diva. the main difference is the killer line "the pimpin'/may have to die with you." is it phenomenal? no. does it feel as good as your favorite pair of jeans? yup. combine this with common's collabo with his lady erykah badu, "love of my life," and he's already having a damned good year - and his album isn't even out yet.

since we're already playing six degrees of r-and-b separation, let's continue. the roots' commercial breakthrough came with their collabo with badu, '99's "you got me." now they return with a new album, and like their buddy common, a first single featuring a current r-and-b star. this time, they went with a male singer, however: their philly kindred musiq. "break you off" roughly = a more uptempo "you got me." it's a lil' more rough-edged, and musiq's chorus adds a little bite - and, of course, don't forget that the roots might just be the best band in music right now. hella good.

zero 7's "destiny" is exactly what chill-out was always supposed to be, mellow but not uninteresting, the perfect comedown.

afterword: of course, when it comes to truly perfect pop, there's also kylie and sophie, but they're in a class by themselves - the advanced-placement class.

every year, there are one or two purely perfect pop singles, the kind that give you cavities but you can't stop eating. and they're usually by artists I'm embarassed by. to wit: this year's premiere entry is "crush (1980 me)" by darren hayes, the former lead singer of savage fucking garden, for pete's sake. it sounds like how I imagine souldecision might if they went uptempo - souldecision having made last year's perfect pop single in the form of "ooh it's kinda crazy." the chorus is chewy like a tootsie roll, the vocals on the verses ping back and forth between your speakers (this is the epitome of a headphone song), and the lyrics reference seemingly every single cultural artifact (and catchphrase: "choose life," "just say no," of the early '80s without feeling gimmicky. and the keyboards on the verses remind me of yaz. not to mention that hayes' voice, so cloyingly annoying on songs like "truly madly deeply," sounds liberated without the restrictions of being the air supply of the '90s; uptempo tracks serve him well.

as I said, souldecision were responsible for last year's most perfect pop. their debut album, no one does it better, has got about 4 such gems (the single "faded" also amongst them), on which they sound like the natural heirs to george michael's legacy, circa faith. justin timberlake is increasingly seeming as if he might well be not the "new" michael jackson, but the second coming (no bad puns, please) of george michael himself. his is music that straddles the pop/r-and-b divide so effortlessly as to make such distinctions irrelevant. "like I love you" is jacko-tastic, true, but it's also its own thing (helped out by one of the neptunes' best production jobs of '02). and for the record, justin is to george as usher is to jacko.

most of the last five years' pop perfection has come from the teenpop brigade getting lucky, one song at a time. last year's other treats were justin-and-company's "pop" (their skittery, bouncing-off-the-walls pop raison d'etre) and puffy machine-made girl group dream's "he loves u not" (cowritten by one of the guys from the system! c'mon, you remember "don't disturb this groove"! right?). 2000 had christina aguilera nailing it in the form of "come on over baby (all I want is you)" for no good reason, and jessica simpson. yes, jessica simpson. "I think I'm in love with you" is the sound of 80 degrees, clear blue skies, the top down and the wind blowing through your hair, all coming through your speakers. it's also the sound of "jack and diane" recontextualized for a generation of kids who don't know who either of 'em are - that interpolation of the mellencamp guitar link is ace. simpson's vocal is so damned sunny as to nearly be annoying, but not. it also sounds honest in a way that most teenpop sounds smarmy and untrue. delicious.

other subjects for future (past) listening: 5ive's "let's dance" (basement jaxx makes a boyband), britney's "I'm a slave 4 u" (do you think she's a nasty girl?), jennifer paige's "crush"/donna lewis' "I love you always forever" (no, you don't remember them, nor should you. just download 'em), and backstreet boys' "everybody (backstreet's back)" (the sound of a new swedish invasion [remember when?], and their only decent song ever).

the church of me on "work it": "it is grace jones with the central heating on."
something just occurred to me, as well. am I becoming the tmftml of blogs? not as good of course, but you catch my meaning.

ladies and gentlemen, jeff cooper on snickers with almonds.
he's also blogged his wine of the week, and a lengthy piece on product liability. cooped-up is one of my favorite blogs, because reading it makes me feel smarter.

fred's writing, as regular readers know, is always without compare. but you really should read his piece on the new de palma film, femme fatale - no matter what you think of the film, or romjin-stamos (I never thought that name would appear on my blog), or banderas (natch), it's absolutely stellar writing.

with the 50th anniversary of the uk singles charts nearly upon us, bbc radio2 has done a survey to discover the most popular british #1 singles of all time. I dearly hope no rock'n'roll fun has something to say about it...

Sunday, November 10, 2002

wow, what a find. if you love food - really love food, no matter what the type (and no, it's not a foodie thing) - you need to love chowhound. [link via the making of a restaurant.]

Saturday, November 09, 2002

winona, we hardly knew ye...

Which Winona Are You?

guns 'n roses finally started their tour friday night; kurt loder was there in case you missed it. [ also has an archive of loder's most recent articles, all of which are recommended.]

this just in: maybe oklahoma's not the best team in the country after all. especially since miami appears to have finally responded to their critics. and would anyone care for another nebraska '01, in the form of texas '02? though come to think of it, maybe oklahoma will fill that role now. meanwhile, washington state is still dreaming of roses, though the way the season's going, at this rate they might get a rematch with ohio state in tempe (since osu pulled it out on the road again, barely).

and a moment of silence for the mac's little unnoticed bowling green, please, who aren't unbeaten anymore, either.

damn them: two of my favorite rappers of the last year, based purely on flow and the way they sound (the way the words come out of their mouths), are fabolous and jadakiss. but there's a problem: most of their records are shit. fab's got that same mouth-full-of-marbles feel to his voice that biggie had, while jada (or 'kiss, whichever you prefer) - well, he's a ruff ryder, which these days means more about eve than dmx (which is fine with me). it also means he's able to effortlessly straddle the pop/street divide, as his fellow lox-er styles p. does as well. but 'kiss has got personality, too - have you seen his sick reebok commercial with iverson? why he isn't a huge crossover star and cam'ron is, I don't know. but don't even talk to me about most of their own records.

"you can't deny it"? "trade it all pt. 2"? c'mon, fab, you know you can do better, and so do we. his best shot all year has been his guest verse on the remix of tweet's "oops (oh my)," in which he gets as nasty as he wants to be - but he's so damned clever about it, you can't help but smile, especially at his closing line, "oops! there go my kids all over your face." the easy way out would've been to say something much more graphic, but because fabolous is cleared quite talented (his rhymes are good-ass, too), he slips you a mickey without your even knowing.

I love jadakiss' flow so much I actually downloaded his reebok commercial (the rhythm track is all samples of basketball-court sounds!). but again, most of his solo joints and guest spots are horrible - not because of him, but because of the tracks themselves. his most notable exception is "we gonna make it," which was one of my top 30 singles of '01, and is the perfect platform for both 'kiss and styles. if I had a dime for each time a coworker and I have said "ja-da-mwah! kiss you, you bitch-ass nigga" to each other - well, I'd have at least a couple bucks. but his lyrics don't do themselves justice on the page; you've gotta hear jada's cadence (not to mention "we gonna"'s perfect mafioso string loop and indestructible bassline). there is one bon mot, however: "might find your man dead in the ocean (you'll be a'ight, though)/you know dead rappers get better promotion." truer words were never spoken, right, suge? jadakiss (and styles, to a lesser extent) is what makes even jennifer lopez's new single, "jenny from the block," tolerable (and their parts, in fact, are exciting). another jada joint to flip over: "double r what," with eve and styles, from eve's disc eve-olution. simply hot shit, and the return of swizz beats as a producer who matters (juicy tech-house beats married to acoustic guitars, baby).

by the way, the two have made a record together, the remix of fabolous' "keepin' it gangsta." sadly, the track sucks. skip it. hopefully, both of 'em will spend less time on guest appearances and more time on their sophomore solo albums, both due in the next couple of months. time'll tell.

quote of the day: "if you had northwestern and 51 [points], you lost." - an espnews anchor on iowa's 62-10 win today over the wildcats. would somebody please start giving iowa qb brad banks some heisman love?!

as much as I understand the genres (mostly via simon reynolds), bjork has done the most to drag microhouse and clicks-and-clacks into the mainstream - well, as close as she gets to the mainstream, anyway - much like madonna has done for house and electronica. "it's in our hands" combines elements of both (somehow, I never tire of music which sounds like a skipping cd) with subsonic bass and lush, enveloping keyb chords, and strings, too. the icelandic queen does this while still working one of her most beautiful melodies through the song, and singing her ass off; bjork's voice seems to strengthen with each record she makes. "it's in our hands" is the obligatory new track on her greatest hits disc, the tracklisting of which was chosen by fans on her website. ain't democracy grand? her website, btw, is one of the most content-rich of all artist websites I've ever seen, and comes highly recommended (by me). bjork is one of the most consistently forward-thinking and -moving artists of the last decade; greatest hits is a fine testament to that, and her.

...another week, another game, another chance for purdue to find a way to lose another close game. must be nice being an oklahoma, or miami, or even ohio state fan (this year). [sigh.] at least our women's basketball team is again expected to be a contender.

the edge discusses the songs u2 picked for their new comp, the best of 1990-2000, at billboard. [memo to the hyperbolic wes orshoski: u2's a great band, yes, but did not get better in the '90s.]

I might've been the last person in the u.s. to hear "the game of love" by santana featuring michelle branch, which I'd heretofore avoided due largely to ms. branch's involvement (oh, how I wish "goodbye to you" was a scandal cover!). caught it this morning on vh-1, channel-surfing during a commercial break while watching chris fowler and the gang on "college gameday." and I am very pleasantly surprised. without her usual faux-teen-angst histrionics, branch is tolerable - nay, even enjoyable (it's the best vocal perf I've heard from her yet). the song itself, is a featherweight '60s-sounding track - for some reason, it recalls archie bell and the drells for me - topped by carlos' as-usual gorgeous, fluid, effortless guitar lines. file this one under "as smooth as 'smooth,'" and enjoy its summery feel as the air gets cooler.

how is a metropolitan area enlarged? excellent article from a fine newspaper, our local virginian-pilot.

marshmallow pies are too a breakfast food! at least, they are on lazy saturday I-don't-want-to-get-up mornings. went on a downloading spree last night; reviews to come later today. after another marshmallow pie, mmmm...

Friday, November 08, 2002

madonna's "blonde ambition tour" and krush groove coming out on dvd?! sick!

blogging the blogs again...
+marcello's written a review of trina's diamond princess which you've got to read to believe. stupendous.
+and jeff cooper's analysis/opinion of the un security council's resolution on iraq is so intelligent and well-thought, you must read that as well.
+thanks to jeff, I've discovered another painfully well-written (painful because I wish I could write so well) demblog, highly recommended no matter which side of the aisle you stand on: greg greene's the green[e]house effect.
+I must respectfully disagree with tmftml regarding the celine dion/anastacia duet on ac/dc's "you shook me all night long" at vh-1's "divas 2002: electric boogaloo" (I can dream, can't I?). yes, it's bad. but it's delightfully bad, like glitter-bad, especially when celine (in the intro) tries to mimic angus young. hearing her sing "knockin' me out with those american thighs" makes me feel dirty.

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