Sunday, October 31, 2004

What you've heard is true: Kalefa Sanneh's piece in today's New York Times, "The Rap Against Rockism," is very likely the most blindingly fine piece of rock writing in a major publication we'll see (or read) this year. As we all know, I've much not a rockist, so of course I agree with most-if-not-all of what Sanneh has to say, but even if you are (especially if you are) a rockist, you need to read this piece.

Sigh. I was having sweet dreams of roses a mere three weeks ago, when my Boilers were 5-0 and ranked 5th in the nation. Living within relative spitting distance of Pasadena made it all the better. But 21 days can change a lot. Now, Purdue's football team is 5-3 and deservedly fell out of the coaches poll today after their 3rd consecutive loss. We'll still go bowling, but Boiler fans are now left to dream of the season that could've been - and so is former Heisman hopeful QB Kyle Orton.

Frankly, this is the second weekend in a row that my teams have been losers, since my Colts fell again today, going down 45-35 to the Chiefs in an offensive shootout. And as if that weren't enough, it looks like far too many Pacers will be starting the season on the injured list. Oy. Thank goodness men's college basketball is about to start, to take my mind off of all of these sports dilemmas.

I'm, as they say, gobsmacked. The Manics couldn't do it, Daniel Bedingfield couldn't do it, but over in the UK, Eric Prydz' great Steve Winwood-sampling "Call On Me" is finally felled (albeit for the second time) from the top by - Ja Rule?! "Wonderful" (featuring Ashanti and R. Kelly) is the new #1 single in the UK. Stunning. [For the record, the 993rd charttopper in the UK charts is not a terrible one. And his "New York" collabo with Fat Joe and Jadakiss is pretty hot, honestly.]

My opinion of Robbie Williams's "Radio" is starting to change, because hearing it today during the UK chart, I realised that it's not just the music that's Numan-esque: the vocals are a bit Numan, as well. Maybe this song does work, kind of as meta-meta, knowhatImean?

Friday, October 29, 2004

So, I’m going to try something different: I’ve made a list of 100 songs and I’m, gasp, not going to rank them. It’s my top 100 songs of all time – yes, I’ve inevitably missed one or two, I always do – and I’m gonna present them alphabetically, by title (to mix things up even further). Parentheses and numerals come ahead of letters, in case you’re wondering.

The top 100: "(I Know) I’m Losing You," Rod Stewart with Faces (Mercury 1971)
Remember when Rod was raw, when we loved him not for his croon (though I’ll never love that) but for his burlap-bluesy whiskey-drenched voice? His lungs get a workout on this number, which is nothing but mean honesty on wax. Following in the fine tradition of the Beatles and Stones,, but doing them one better, Rod takes on a Temptations chestnut – but he rips everything but the copyright from the Motowners; he owns "I’m Losing You" now. He earned it.

Subjects for further review, purple edition: “The Walk” by The Time

Because sometimes, it’s all about the camisole. Why have so few recognized the enormous debt the Time owe to Parliament in their song structures? I mean, damn, these motherfuckers could just endlessly vamp their way to heaven.

Subjects for further review, purple edition: "The Future" by Prince

A great Prince record irrespective of its inclusion on the terribly uneven Batman record – just check the wobbly keyb noises throughout, and his reference to ecstasy. Not to mention how stripped-down-not-stripped-down it is. "The Future" was one of the more deceptively simple tunes he’d done in some time – it’s in the arrangement and its execution.

Subjects for further review, purple edition: "Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)" by Prince

The most avant-garde track he released pre-Purple Rain which also works easily as a pop track. [Though I bet if it had been a single, it would’ve stiffed pop and done middlingly R&B; this was still ’82, after all.] "Water"’s minor-chord lead keyb lines contrast effortlessly with the thick chords making up the song’s skeleton, and his tossed-off "u think you’re special? Well so do I" line is a classic purple kiss.

Subjects for further review, purple edition: "I Hate U" by Prince

Only Prince could get away with titling a love ballad "I Hate U" – and only he’d come up with it. And then, piling it on, he adds a spoken-word middle in which, as some sort of bizarro-world attorney, he instructs threatens "the defendant" with "the rod," "ties her up tight," and orders her to "pump your hips like u used to/and baby u better stay on the beat." Which, of course, he sums up by telling her that "right now I hate u so much I wanna make love/until u scream." But the damnedest thing of all is that he gets away with it, makes us fall for it, makes us beg. Underpinning it all with a come-to-church organ (and whipping out a few of his customarily awesome guitar licks here and there), this is a classic Prince love song, done in classic Prince fashion. Which means it’s never to be taken at surface value (with some exceptions, such as "Adore"), but by the end of it, you’re in bed with him nonetheless.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Subjects for further review: "Meeting in the Ladies Room" by Klymaxx

"Don't slap me, 'cause I'm not in the mood." See, one of the greatest things about Klymaxx was their spoken-word intros and bridges. But there was more to them than that, and the drippy ballad "I Miss You." "Ladies Room" shows and proves, the ladies’ synthetic funk (and "Freak-A-Zoid" quote) holding up fiercely over the years.

Subjects for further review: "Rubicon" by Alan Braxe & Fred Falke

French non-filter house aping '80s electric (not electro) pop, with a dash of "Percolator" f/x thrown in alongside a saucy electric guitar riffing in and out of the mix. This is house for indie fans, rather than indie house (what would that sound like, anyway?), but don’t hold that against it. Further proof that the French still understand house better than almost anyone else these days.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Fuckin' A, "about time" edition. I have to admit a little shame that I didn't realize he was back until he himself told me, though.

Subjects for further review: "Nowhere Again" by Secret Machines

This isn't Interpol? Wow. Shame, 'cause this got me pretty excited for their new album, like the best parts of their first amplified. Only it's not them. Hmmm. So does that make Secret Machines an Interpol tribute band?

Well, I'll be damned. I'm so glad that the Curse is over: the Boston Red Sox are the 2004 World Series Champions.

Yes, I've been mondo busy lately (mainly due to my new job), which is why I've not been posting. Plus, I'm just not hearing a lot of new music; as per my last post, I seem to be hits/comps-obsessed lately. I'm very excited about the forthcoming MJ boxset, and will inevitably get the Shania hits disc. Out already are two lovelies, a new triple-disc Depeche Mode remix collection, and the Guy 20th Century Masters record, both of which I'm planning to pick up this weekend. Plus, I still need to write about the John Mellencamp and Alexander O'Neal albums, both of which are amazing.

Subjects for further review: "Untitled (Interpool Swimwear Remix)" by Interpol

While everyone's hot and bothered about Antics (which I've still not heard yet), I'm continually moist over this remix of "Untitled" from their debut. I don't know who did this mix, and maybe I don't need to know. [Got it from him via him.] It's like a chopped and screwed (cf. DJ Screw, I mean) version of something tech-housey, like a fuller-bodied version of Luomo being deconstructed (which is not the same thing as Luomo). This is angularly sexy, and I'm caught up in the rapture.

Fuckin' A. [Cue sound of every music-geek-slash-blogger on the planet's jaw hitting floor now.]

The sad news of John Peel's passing isn't the only surprising music-world news this week. In fact, there's tons of it. Three items immediately strike me.

There's to be a third recording of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Great idea, but we'll see about the execution.

For the first time since Blondes Have More Fun, Rod Stewart is topping the U.S. album chart. As crap as it is, I'd rather hear Blondes than Stardust.

Jay-Z's about to be named President of Island Def Jam. Think about that for just a moment. [Meanwhile, his new duet album with R. Kelly is set to debut at #1 on next week's album chart.]

I'm so stunned by the death of John Peel, stunned and saddened immeasurably. How to explain Peel for Yank audiences unfamiliar? Think if Rick Dees were totally indie - that's the best I can do.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I know, I'm such an oldie, at only 33. It seems that the only albums I buy lately are hits packages or reissues. To wit: George Strait's charttopping 50 Number Ones is an awfully impressive document from a Hall of Famer-to-be, Mr. Consistency. [My favorite of the 50 amassed here? His very first, "Fool Hearted Memory," such a pretty, sad song.] BMG Heritage has, hallelujah!, started remastering albums by Daryl Hall and John Oates. The first batch consists of their four biggest albums, Voices, Private Eyes, H2O, and Big Bam Boom. I picked up H2O over the weekend, and am so glad I did. All four of the reissues are digitally remastered and include brand-new liner notes culled from new interviews with Daryl and John. Three of them also feature bonus tracks, 12" mixes of hits - H2O's are, of course, "Maneater," "One on One," and "Family Man." It is so good to finally hear a great digital transfer of these classics. Today saw the release of Words & Music, the at-long-last ultra-complete double-disc collection by John Mellencamp. It's fucking perfect, alright?

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Re: Robbie Williams's "Radio," as the bf says, "It's like Taco singing for the Human League - and frankly, who needs that?" We both agree that musically, it's interesting, very League/Gary Numan ca. '81. But the lyrics are a mess, and Robbie's vocal affectations during the verses are heinous. [Don't be too mad at me, you.]

Friday, October 15, 2004

The two words I've been waiting to say since April: Midnight Madness, baby!

Remember how brilliantly minimalist Clipse's "Grindin'" was, a couple years back? Possibly the sickest Neptunes beat evah?? Well, the time has come: they've topped it. Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" is ridiculous, basically just a drumbeat and people making clicking noises with their mouths. And it's slow! Once you hear this track, you will never forget - it's that fierce. Genius.

Oh, and I hate to admit it, 'cause I still think Fat Joe is a dork, but that Scott Storch beat for Terror Squad's "Lean Back" is pretty hot.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Yeah, it's a bit Hollywood-glossed, and yeah, it gets the slightest bit too fist-pumping at times. Regardless, Friday Night Lights is an excellent film, particularly because it's not just about sports, but about the way that football emotionally impacts an entire west Texas town. There are plenty of one-the-field action scenes, sure, but there's also quite a bit of one-on-one dialogue in this film which gets to the heart of the way football affects the kids who play it, and the adults who watch. Billy Bob Thornton gives a bravura performance as coach Gary Gaines - really, though, you could expect that by now, right? What may surprise is the strong acting job done by Tim McGraw - yup, that Tim McGraw. He sinks his teeth into the role of Charlie Billingsley, a drunken, abusive shell of a father whose only glory in life was winning a Texas state championship years ago, and who now expects his son to do the same. And, and for those who thought/wondered if Antwone Fisher was a one-shot, Derek Luke gives what might be the most powerful performance in the film, as cocky BMOC Boobie Miles; the scene in which he understands that everything's changed for him, forever, is wrenching. Friday Night Lights also isn't afraid to show the dark, seamy underside of highschool sports. Where Hoosiers, the king of this genre, was pretty much all uplift, Lights gets its hands dirty, to the film's benefit. Even if you're not a sports fan, let alone a football fan, you'll likely find yourself cheering, and definitely find yourself getting involved in the lives of the film's characters (as my bf did, though his like of the film is much more subdued than mine). This one's a first-round draft pick, folks. A

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Does the piano break in Alan Jackson's "Too Much of a Good Thing" remind anyone else of Floyd Kramer's country classic "Last Date"?

Speed round:

The responses I get... I've received four emails regarding my misquoted Bowling for Soup lyrics. The actual lyric is "...way before Nirvana there was U2 and Blondie/and music still on MTV" (emphasis mine). Oops. What I said about the song being killingly pedestrian still stands, however.

Memo to Lindsay Lohan: cf. Whitney's "Whatchulookinat," songs bitching about the press are generally not a good idea. Especially as your debut single. It would also help if the song is good, which "Rumors" is not - this really sounds like a Britney leftover, perhaps not the best way to start a new career.

Upon seeing - well, being forced to see - Shania's "Party For Two" video yesterday, the bf asked if "party hearty" was "a hot new phrase" north of the border. Okay, okay, "Party" has gotta be one of Twain's worst lyrics ever - but that hook (and the music in general) is total aural cotton candy.

Neither KoRn's "Word Up" nor Marilyn Manson's "Personal Jesus" add a ton of new to their respective covers, but they do 'em well enough that I'm happy nonetheless. Maybe Manson, following "Tainted Love," "Sweet Dreams,", needs to look at a career as a song stylist a la k.d. lang?

Like so many Los Angelenos, I've already fallen in love with the KTLA Morning News - and like many, I "heart" Sam Rubin, their entertainment reporter. I love that he's not afraid to openly say that things are crap, on L.A. TV; we need more TV guys like him.

Saw Friday Night Lights over the weekend, and it's superb, unquestionably the best sports film since Hoosiers. Full review to come.

Friday, October 08, 2004

United State of Electronica's eponymous full-length , very roughly = VHS Or Beta's On + Daft Punk x vocoders + a dash of Metro Area. It's a storming, thumping sumbitch of a record, but features a few suprisingly tender(ish) moments, notably in the form of "Night Shift" (musically rather than lyrically, really). This is a get-outta-the-way album, capable of and threatening to demolish anything in its path in '04. So full of joy and ebulliance that you can't not love it - unless, of course, you're a pigfucker - United State of Electronica is one helluva party record, but is so much more. It's also my favorite album of the year.

For those who care about such things, I've got a new #1 single and album of '04-so-far over at submeat '04. And you know (no, she's not #1, but she makes a splashy debut on my singles list), I know that Alanis Morissette's recent work has gotten mediocre reviews, and for the most part, I'd agree, but "Eight Easy Steps" is a single with an absolute knockout emotional punch - especially if you've been there, and if you haven't, you might be made of plastic.

Hot Fuss, The Killers's album, isn't as good as I originally thought. But lead single "Somebody Told Me" is better.


CMT is running Toby Keith's "Stays In Mexico" video with a TV14 rating, when all other videos on the channel get a TVPG. Maybe b/c it's so seemingly cavalier about infidelity? Or could it be the excessive tequila consumption?

Montgomery Gentry's "You Do Your Thing" is one of the darkest country hits, tone-wise, that I may have ever heard - I mean, it uses the same guitar effect from the intro of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun"!

Mackron is the new online home of Senor Donut Bitch, a/k/a Brian MacDonald, famed bon vivant of I Love Music, and well worth visiting.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Speed round:

Sandra Bernhard now has an official website, as do Roger Ebert and Nelson George. You should know.

Are Bowling For Soup, like, the pop-punk Bloodhound Gang or something? Certainly looks that way from their video for "1985." Unfortunately, "U2 and Blondie/their music's still on MTV" is a really incorrect lyric, for starters. And their music's as pedestrian as it gets.

Thought that last night's Cheney/Edwards debate was a draw. Both were fact fiends, both came off as rather smarmy, and I wasn't particularly impressed by either of 'em. I'd be more excited about Friday's "town hall"-style debate if it weren't to be moderated by Charlie Gibson, the Good Morning America host who can barely do an interview with Hilary Duff. I mean, really, Gibson makes Pat O'Brien seem like a real journalist.

Surprisingly strong voice, especially for a 13-year-old, but a shame about the weak-ass material: it could only be JoJo.

We're less than one month away from Election Day, which means that in most states the deadline for voter registration has passed. If you're not registered, you clearly don't care about the future of the U.S. - or your own future - and don't try to tell me otherwise. Democracy is a privilege, not a right, and it's participatory.

Liked (but didn't love) Desperate Housewives. It was a little surprising, throwing a Twin Peaks element into its sudsy mix, and it's got a lot of potential. It will be interesting to see what the series' creators do with what they've got (some interesting plot elements, some great actors). Am, however, thrilled to see that Housewives topped the Nielsens this week - good new shows are being watched! Shocking.

Dierks Bentley has such an easy, aw-shucks kinda charm and such a regular-guy vibe to him that it frankly amazes me that he's not a star yet. But he'll get there; "How Am I Doin'" is the latest, and best, salvo in his campaign for stardom yet. He reminds me a bit of Brad Paisley, and you may have heard of him...

One more thing about Eminem's "Just Lose It": incredibly, the video is even worse than the single. I mean, Erik Estrada? P*ris H*lton?! We're supposed to believe this is the best he could come up with?! Has he ever even seen an OutKast video, for pete's sake?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

VH-1 is easy to mock, and most of the time deserves any criticisms it receives. [Four words: The Surreal Life 2.] But one genre the network has always excelled in is the non-narrated documentary, and they've struck gold again with And You Don't Stop: 30 Years of Hip Hop. As part of the lead-up to their Hip Hop Honors concert/tribute (premiering next week), this 5-hour doc mixes incredibly rare, unseen footage (such as of 1970s South Bronx block parties) with interviews with just about everyone who's been important in hip hop: Russell Simmons, DMC, DJ Kool Herc, Fab Five Freddy, Nas, Grandmaster Flash, Debbie Harry, Nelson George (who's blogging), and a true host of others. The first episode deals mostly with the prerecorded days of hip hop, while the second covers the early glory days of the '80s: Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys, and company. And You Don't Stop feels utterly comprehensive, paying homage while still being informational and - most importantly - entertaining. New episodes are every weeknight this week at 10pm EST/PST on VH-1.

I'd agree that, as many are discussing here, Eminem's "Just Lose It" is his worst single ever, entirely boring and crap no matter who'd made it, with bland retread music and worse lyrics. I mean, Michael Jackson, Hammer, and Pee-Wee Herman references? He can do better and he fucking knows it. What a disappointment.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

41-16, baby! How about my Boilers?! And perhaps more importantly, how about 21-31 for 385 and 4 TDs - and still no INTs for the season! Kyle Orton is a stud, and if he's not on your Heisman shortlist right now, what the fuck's your problem? It was a great day to be a college football fan, too, what with losses by top 10 teams West Virginia (to VA Tech) and Tennessee (creamed by Auburn), not to mention defending co-national champs LSU getting absolutely pasted by Georgia. I love this game!

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