Thursday, June 30, 2005

Hey, let's put together a Queen tribute album and get the most generic batch of artists we can! Won't that sound great?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Speed round:

Holy shit. Stella's sho' nuff lost her groove.

I've meant to post this for weeks: my favorite song by The Who is "Eminence Front." Why do I keep hearing from people that this is such a bad thing? Great lyrics, great music, great vocals. [I'm not saying this provoke peeps, but worse things have happened...]

My pal Johnny has updated and totally redecorated over at his blog. Psst: don't tell him this, but I adore him. He rocks hard.

Sports fans, don't forget to vote for this year's ESPYs. [Though I'll be the first to tell you they've got way too many damn categories - I mean, Best Outdoor Sports Athlete (think fishermen - really), Best Bowler, Best WNBA Player, Best Jockey?! Come on.]

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Chris has got shiny new digs; adjust accordingly.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Return of the mack: Harvell's back.

Roll Deep's "The Avenue" (from their forthcoming In At The Deep End full-length) is the most singularly astounding song I've heard yet in 2005. Pushing things forward, indeed. And incredibly, the album's got more where that came from. This is a stupendously dense album, and a stupendously good one. More on this keeper soon.

Friday, June 24, 2005

4 things I love:
+The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, nearly 1000 pages of rockcritgasm, including great entries from the likes of Matos and Keith Harris, and of course brilliance (as always) from Rob Sheffield.
+VH1's Best Week Ever, which might be the best show on TV right now. Sherrod Small on Jennifer Willbanks, a/k/a the "runaway bride": "What she got in her vagina, candy?!" Also, I have a weird crush on Michael Colton (he's the one with glasses).
+That Gorillaz/De La Soul, "Feel Good Inc.," which is not only soundtracking iPod commercials, but has become an inexplicable hit on modern rock radio, apparently because it sounds good between crap like Seether, Staind, and Mudvayne. Damn Albarn + DJ Dangermouse + Trugoy the Dove should not = a great pop single, but in this equation, it does. [Sounds very good while driving with the windows down, as well.]
+The Special Edition (2001) DVD of Cameron Crowe's best film, Say Anything, with highly enlightening commentary from Crowe and his stars John Cusack and Ione Skye. As good as commentaries get, and a fine exemplification of why I love DVD.

Report Card, June 2005
[Yes, of course this is modelled on C********'s C******* G****, cut me some slack, okay? Let's face it, I've been heading towards this for years.]

Student of the month
Basement Jaxx, The Singles - Special Edition
Only 3 albums in (not including the Atlantic Jaxx comp), and this shows not just you but everybody else how they did it, and it's more obvious than you think: they write blindingly great pop songs. Then they run them through the Prince-o-lator or some such, coming up with glorious, squelchy house anthems that sound like they were made with pop radio in mind (and, being British, they might've been - remember, they're pop stars over there), but most importantly, Felix and Simon start with well-written pop songs. The singles disc astounds from beginning to end, but what may surprise you is how essential the "bonus traxx" disc is, too. You might be able to live without 2 or 3 of these songs (and only that many), but why risk it? This is on a par with The Hits/The B-Sides. Really. A+


Annie, Anniemal
Filled with one good-to-great alternate-universe #1 pop single after another. B+

Caribou, The Milk of Human Kindness
Kinda wonky psych-'tronica, like how I always imagined an Elephant 6 electronic record might sound. That's not a compliment. C+

Danko Jones, We Sweat Blood
Like the Blues Explosion without irony, this is one sexed-up (at least sex-obsessed) power trio, with an emphasis on the power. Every song is about sex, which is why rock'n'roll exists, isn't it? B

Kelly Clarkson, Breakaway
Much better than it has any right to be, this is solid pop-rock, though there's still too many ballads here (and I don't count the title track among 'em). Thank goodness, or some mini-Max Martins, for single-of-the-year candidate "Since U Been Gone," and check out the sass in her still-evolving voice. B

Manic Street Preachers, Lifeblood
Maturity: sometimes it's a bitch, sometimes it's a breeze. They still miss Richey, but they don't need to. B

Motown Remixed
You need precisely 2 of these reworkings (Jazzy Jeff's deep house rub of "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" and the inspired Tranzition mix of "My World Is Empty Without You," which slows it down to superb effect), and a few of the others are enjoyable enough (such as hearing "ABC" gone crunk, and I like the new take on "Let's Get It On," which makes it sound kinda like "Hey Mr. DJ"), but as an album, it's entirely unnecessary, with mostly far-too-obvious song choices and lazy mixes. B-

Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation, Mighty Rearranger
Much better than it has any right to be, Bob sounds reinvigorated like he hasn't in years, excited to be collaborating like he hasn't since you-know. This is also the closest thing to a you-know album since you-know, but more in tone and tenor (and only occasionally volume) than bombast. The much-touted northern African rhythms are present and accounted for, as are the folkie touches (someone's been listening to his Sandy Denny records), but they accent rather than take over; this ain't Graceland. Plant hinted at the breadth and depth here on his covers album ("Darkness Darkness" comes to mind), and he makes good on it. "Return to form" is a cliché because sometimes it's true. A-

Royksopp, The Understanding
Sounds like it was tailor-made for KCRW play. Jason Bentley will love it, which isn't such a bad thing, except that it means it's pretty tasteful, as far as "dance" goes. B


Parent's signature required
New Order, Waiting For the Sirens' Call
Like a New Order album, only not as good. Unfortunately, it is New Order. This reminds me of Duran Duran's 1994 self-titled effort (a/k/a "The Wedding Album"), another well-intentioned bid for relevance. Hate to say it - really hate to say it - but their spiritual children have lapped 'em. Not abject failure, but a huge disappointment. B-

Subjects for further review: "Say You Love Me" by Fleetwood Mac

Granted, Christine McVie has always been an terrifically underrated (and underratedly terrific) songwriter, but really, are there many lines in popular music better than "Woo me until the sun comes up and you say that you love me"? [Answer: no.]

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Does Kelly Clarkson's "Gone" remind anyone else of They Might Be Giants' "Ana Ng"? [Oh, and memo to RCA: this absolutely must be the next single, unless you decide to go with a ballad (hey, it's your call), in which case "Gone" can be the fifth single from Breakaway.]

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Omarion's "O" is where he gives notice that he'll take over Usher's job in about 5 years. Right now, O's the black Usher - by which I mean he's where Usher was, career-wise, 6-7 years ago: a black star who most of white America doesn't know he exists. But they will. "O" is also a lovely, open ballad, sold on O's personality, which oozes from each of his pores (and you can even tell that from his singing, trust).

"Touch," meanwhile, is the sound of the Neptunes taking Omarion down the less-well-lit road that runs parallel to Justin's. This is a slightly off-kilter, darkly-produced R&B record, the perfect counterpoint and follow-up single to "O." There's a sinister undercurrent here, akin to the look in J.T.'s eyes in the "Cry Me A River" video (and yes, I know that particular song was produced by Timbo, and that's not the point). Listen to the way Omarion does his spoken-word bits on "Touch," and you may well get it. This is a superstar in the making.

Shakira's "La Tortura" (featuring Alejandro Sanz) damned near makes me wanna learn Spanish - what a ridiculously sexy-sounding song.

Meant to mention that I've done a little updating over at submeat05, but basically just of this year's reissues/hits records. I'll get to the rest of it one of these days.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Speed round:

Dee Brown's broken foot: bad for the NBA draft, good for college hoops. Anyone care to pick Illinois back in the Final Four?

Nice job on the part of USA Today last week with this article questioning why the media goes nuts over missing persons cases - as long as the missing are young, attractive white women. When it's a minority? No dice.

Help Chris out, buy his stuff.

Why is it that even though I don't watch The Real World nor Road Rules, I'm completely incapable of not watching the challenge shows such as The Inferno II? Thank goodness it's done tonight.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Here's a meme very similar to this one, which I stole from Simon (here's his take on it):

1) Total number of books I've owned
Over my whole life, easily over 500, maybe as many as 1,000. Books are my friend, and I wish I had a lot more of 'em, but since $$'s an issue, I often rely on the library (I've had my own card - in the adult section, mind you - since I was 8 years old).

2) The last book I bought
Used, Christgau's Rock Albums of the '70s, which is so excruciatingly valuable to me (and so out of print). New, The Abs Diet Eat Right Every Time Guide by David Zinczenko (unexciting, I know, but hey, I've lost 20+ pounds so far).

3) The last book I read
I'm currently reading Will Fellows' A Passion to Preserve: Gay Men As Keepers of Culture, which is interesting but I'm not 100% sold on yet. But considering how much I love his previous book, 1996's Farm Boys, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt (I'm only to page 50 so far, and will give it at least another 25 pages).

4) Five books that mean a lot to me (in no particular order)
*Ethan Mordden, How Long Has This Been Going On
*Simon Goddard, Songs That Saved Your Life
*E.M. Forster, Maurice
*Christgau's Record Guides (the aforementioned '70s book, along with his '80s and '90s volumes)
*Randy Shilts, And the Band Played On

5) Tag five people and have them fill this out on their blogs
*Chrisafer, one of the most wonderfully book-loving bloggers I've ever known
*Alfred Soto, the latest most wonderfully book-loving blogger I know
*Matos, the man, 'nuff said
*Mike Daddino, just plain brilliant - and since your site isn't a blog per sé, you can always answer in the Comments
*Gaz, a/k/a Curt Beery - again, not a blog, but you can use Comments

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Hearing Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" in a friggin' Merrill Lynch commercial is just wrong.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I must be doing something right: this week, I received my first hate (e)mail in response to something I wrote for Stylus. The piece in question was my "Pop Playground" feature, American Idol: The Hit Factory, in which I said, regarding Clay Aiken,

His debut album was an exercise in tepidity that made Josh Groban sound positively edgy. Flashes in the pan can be created on that bedrock, but lasting careers cannot. One more album, tops, before he’s forced to go indie and continues to sell to a small but devoted niche of people I never want to meet.

Apparently, that rubbed some "Claymate" the wrong way, as I recently received this anonymous response:

Well you pompus [sic] ass, the feeling is mutual and I never want to meet you either.

Really, what more needs to be said?

The Goddess, Camille Paglia, is back. Finally!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Matos passed this meme to me, and even if it was "more or less at random," I'm still honored, so here goes:

Total volume of music files on my computer: I have no idea, largely because my hard drive's been incapacitated for close to a year, now; I use my bf's computer. I do know that there are in the neighborhood of 6,000 songs/music files on my PC, which I hope to excavate one of these days. Dunno what the volume of that is. And I have no iPod. Please feel sorry for me.

Last CD I bought was...: Well, to me there should be 2 categories here. There's the last one I bought to review (yes, I have to buy those, I don't get review copies), which is K-Ci & Jo-Jo's All My Life: Their Greatest Hits, which I'm reviewing for Stylus in tandem with Jodeci's Back to the Future: The Very Best of. Then there's the last one I bought for pure pleasure, which is another hits comp, George Jones' 50 Years of Hits, which is a fuckin' awesome collection of 50 songs which are either classics, near-classics, or should-be-classics, from the greatest male vocalist of all time. Ya heard?!

Song playing right now: The sublime computer funk jam "This Party's Jam Packed" by Dwayne Omarr, which inexplicably never even graced Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart. A crime! [Thanks to Nate for the introduction.]

Five songs I listen to a lot these days: Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl," Jodeci's "I'm Still Waiting," "The Song of Everything" by Los Super 7 featuring Raul Malo, "Rainy Night In Georgia" by Sam Moore & Conway Twitty (from the '94 Rhythm Country and Blues comp and well worth digging for), and "Flesh & Blood" by Scritti Politti (with Ranking Ann).

And in the spirit of Matos's invitation, which he just posted on his blog without alerting any of the folks he chose, I'll do the same with the following, chosen specifically 'cause I wanna read their answers:
Chris Nelson
• Paul Cox (currently sans blog - you can post yours in the Comments)
Anthony Miccio
Curt Beery (since your site's not a blog, you can use the space provided in the Comments too)
Bob Mould (dunno if he's still reading, but I'd love a musician's perspective)


Sunday, June 12, 2005

I've loved Elyse Sewell since seeing her on season 1 of America's Next Top Model (now on DVD, natch). Today I found out (thanks to Google) that she's got a livejournal, and the shit is fierce. She's working as a haute couture model outside of the U.S. now, and her blog provides the skinny (no pun intended). Ch-ch-check it out. Posted by Hello

Summer reality shows I (well, the bf and I) love:
1. Kept: Jerry Hall was made to be on television. On this VH-1 show, the leggy Texan supermodel who was the girlfriend of both Mick Jagger and Bryan Ferry attempts to culture a dozen Yankee boys (she lives in London now, y'know) while cutting one each week. The winner will become her "kept man" for a year.
2. The Next Food Network Star: Titles don't get much more self-explanatory. Marc Sommers is an ideal host for this one.
3. Stripsearch: Considering how vile their "Celebreality" shows were this season, VH-1's hit the mark with their pair of new summer offerings. This one's basically a distaff Top Model, with 15 would-be alpha-males living together and competing for one of 7 slots in an all-male review in Las Vegas. Welcome to testosterone city!
4. Popularity Contest: Unfortunately, this one ended Saturday night, but what an oddly compelling series - and it was on CMT! 10 "city slickers" get plunked down into Vega, TX (population: 936) and every 3 days, someone is voted "least popular" by the town's residents. It's an odd conceit, but it makes for appallingly watchable television. Catch it in reruns if you can.
5. Oh, and there's a new season of Queer Eye as well, always worth watching.

Summer reality shows we don't love:
1. The dance one which, amazingly, could be the #1 show in America this week.
2. The washed-up-bands one.
3. The nasty-chef one.
[I'm not naming any of 'em, 'cause I don't want Google hits from any of 'em. Ick.]

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Updates here, in case you're interested.
Update: here, too.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Shaq's latest assist is one of pure class, and makes perfect sense: George Mikan (R.I.P.) was the dominant player of his day, and Shaq's the dominant one of his.

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