Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Give money to whichever relief organization you'd like, but PLEASE give for those affected by Hurricane Katrina. Here's a resource for organizations which can use your donation. Another way you can help: go through your closets and pull out clothes you're not wearing anymore, and donate them to relief organizations. Remember, many of those on the Gulf Coast now have absolutely nothing; they'll be happy to get your 1994 NIN baseball jersey.

Also, for superb up-to-the-moment news from New Orleans, check out the N.O. Times-Picayune's blog, to which their reporters are posting while they can't actually publish a physical paper. Amazing reportage.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Updates here.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Besides the fact that Missy Elliott's new Cookbook is, like every other album she's released, only just fair-to-middling (has ever such a great singles artist been so incapable of making a great album?), I'm rather peeved that almost no one's mentioned the incredibly offensive skit which precedes "Can't Stop." In it, Missy visits a nail salon - with the most appallingly stereotypical portrayal of an Asian nail tech possible ("You need exforiation!"). I know that, as the Avenue Q song says, "everybody's a little bit racist," but what a disappointment to learn that Missy thinks bigotry's good for a laugh.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Alfred and I email each other throughout most every weekday, and lately we've started playing "Taking Sides," a rockcrit parlour game popular over on ILM (simple version: pick one and defend your choice). Today I posited a TS: Usher vs Alicia Keys. He said...

-----Original Message-----
From: Alfred Soto
Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2005 2:51 PM
To: Thomas A. Inskeep
Subject: You know that I'm proud and I can't get the words out

I don't care for either Usher or Alicia Keys, to be honest. The early singles were ok, and I got to like "Yeah!" after the first few hundred listens. "Confessions" always seemed like R. Kelly's "Ignition" without the sensual frisson. Alicia tries too hard to evoke her predecessors -- meaning, she evokes them without doing anything interesting with the influences. She's like a female Lenny Kravitz, who fetishizes mid '70s sensitive R&B balladry like Lenny did for cock-rock (how's THAT for an original analogy? Post it on Manchester, bitch). I do enjoy "You Don't Know My Name."

And by the way, Mr. Soto is wrong wrong wrong.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Since I just can't seem to get motivated to redo ginormous lists over here...

Top 10 albums of '05 (no order):
Los Super Seven
Billy Corgan (#1)
Art Brut
Bloc Party
Robert Plant & the Strange Sensation
Robin Guthrie/Harold Budd ('Mysterious Skin' OST)
Roll Deep
Lee Ann Womack
Beanie Sigel

close behind:
LCD Soundsystem
V/A - Run the Road
The Free Design
Caps & Jones

Of that top 10, Corgan-Art Brut-Bloc Party-Plant-NIN could all reasonably be called "rock." I'm awfully surprised that I've got that many in there, but hey: good shit is good shit. And a full half of my top 10 (the first 5) I heard thanks to Paul. Rock on!

Singles (again, no order):
"Signs" - Snoop (#1)
"Let's Get Blown" - Snoop
"Hollaback Girl" - Gwen
"The Avenue" - Roll Deep
"Wait" - Ying Yang Twins
"Don't Cha" - Pussycat Dolls f/Busta
"Since U Been Gone" - Kelly Clarkson
"Touch" - Omarion
"Heartbeat" - Annie
"Hate It Or Love It" - The Game & 50 Cent
(I bumped singles by NIN ("Only"), Womack, and Sigel because those folks're on my album "ballot." I fear I've become one of those P&J voters! And Corgan's "To Love Somebody" and Royksopp's "Circuit Breaker" will instantly make my list if they become singles, since I'm still strict about it that definition.)

Subjects for further review: "I Loved You More" by Chic

1. It's got an utterly genius string arrangement.
2. It's got a great, ripping guitar solo from Nile, made all the more surprising because it's a ballad.
3. It nearly makes me cry, there's so much vulnerability and pain in its lyrics.

At the end of reading The Fabulous Sylvester, I cried. While riding the bus to work, no less - that's the kind of emotion Joshua Gamson's bio of the disco star and San Francisco legend is imbued with. The portrait Gamson paints of Sylvester is a complete one, warts-and-all but also behind the scenes, behind the drag, behind the stagelights, to tell you who Sylvester was as a person. His death of AIDS in 1988 was a tragedy not just for its fact, but because Sylvester never really got the credit he deserved (and still hasn't) as an out-and-proud gay man performing in the '70s and '80s. he did more than blaze the trail for people like Elton John; Sylvester's sweat is one of its components. Gamson's biography, written with the cooperation of many of Sylvester's family and friends, is a marvel, and a must-read not just for those interested in the man who brought "Mighty Real" to life, but for all of those interested in the story of disco - and the story of gay life in the '70s.

For a more thorough look at disco from beginning to its (never) end, there's Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco, by Peter Shapiro. Alongside Jeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop, this is one of the music-book events of the year. Shapiro, a writer for The Wire (his byline's also appeared in the likes of Spin and Vibe), digs deep to find the sociocultural roots of disco as well as its musical antecedents. The research and theory here are astounding, but the book's also entertaining on a surface level. This book belongs with Chang's, and Simon Reynolds' landmark Energy Flash (a/k/a Generation Ecstasy in the U.S.), on the bookshelves of rhythm lovers everywhere.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

-----Original Message-----
From: Alfred Soto
Sent: Tuesday, August 09, 2005 2:24 PM
To: Thomas A. Inskeep
Subject: Your love is like a circus wheel

Christine McVie's "Got A Hold On Me" is a good-not-great uptempo number that is no pox on her good-not-great uptempo numbers for the Mac. Discuss.

-----Original Message-----
From: Thomas A. Inskeep
To: Alfred Soto
Sent: Tue, 9 Aug 2005 14:25:24 -0700
Subject: RE: Your love is like a circus wheel

I couldn't agree more, though I'd add that some of Christine's less uptempo numbers for the Mac are, in fact, great ("Warm Ways" foremost among them).

-----Original Message-----
From: Alfred Soto
Sent: Tuesday, August 09, 2005 2:28 PM
To: Thomas A. Inskeep
Subject: Re: Your love is like a circus wheel

Oh my god. "Warm Ways" is my favorite Mac slow jam. I've been sleeping around for years looking for the man who can rumple the sheets and leave with a smile as guiltlessly as Christine's lover (John?) does in that song.

-----Original Message-----
From: Thomas A. Inskeep
Sent: Tuesday, August 09, 2005 2:32 PM
To: Alfred Soto
Subject: RE: Your love is like a circus wheel

Not to mention the sterling transition it makes out of Lindsay's "Monday Morning" - but we're here to talk McVie, not the rest of the lot. I'd add to that, not just guiltlessly, but guilelessly. (Though to be fair, let's give some of the credit for the splendor of "Warm Ways," in fact, to Mr. Buckingham, for his perfect light touch behind the boards, which complements McVie's lyrics and delivery of 'em to, as they say, a T.)

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Speed round, or whatever I used to call it:

This shit is bananas: which rapper does your college team most closely represent? Or vice-versa? Here's some possibilities. [Link from O-Wang.]

Reason #863 why I heart Justice John Paul Stevens, reppin' against the misuse of the death penalty.

House Is A Feeling is a new collabo "100BPM and up" blog featuring a cast of 8 slam-dunk home run hitters, including Harvell and Sherburne, amongst other blogstars.

Whenever I'm feeling a little too hot & sweaty, I take a peek at conditions atop Mt. Washington, NH. Always cools me down a couple of degrees (plus the comments by the denizens of the summit are fascinating).

The Woodsman: pretty good movie, great performance (albeit a bit one-note) from Kevin Bacon, but depressing as all hell. You've been warned.

Superb editorial from Thursday's USA Today titled How schools are destroying the joy of reading, which anyone with an interest in the future of - well, reading - in the U.S. would do well to take in.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Report Card, July 2005
Albeit a bit late.

Student of the month
Billy Corgan, TheFutureEmbrace
Well, it certainly wasn't supposed to go like this. The Pumpkins weren't supposed to flame out the way they did (though MACHINA/The Machines of God is underrated, and features my all-time fave SP track, "Stand Inside Your Love"), Zwan were supposed to, I dunno, be better, and not vaporize quite so quickly (that's Billy for you, I guess), and his first solo album was definitely not supposed to be so fucking grand. For those about to goth, we salute you: TheFutureEmbrace is my were-I-half-my-age-again musical wet dream, a kind of goth-pop new-wave record from which we (or at least I) learn that:
1. Corgan and Robert Smith should make an entire album of duets, as their harmonies on the chorus of "To Love Somebody" nearly send me into orbit. Wow.
2. "Walking Shade," while not a great single, is the great lost Love & Rockets single; Daniel Ash would've given up mascara (well, maybe not) for this 120 Minutes sure-shot.
3. Perhaps what's been weighing Corgan down musically is - guitars?
This album succeeds like nothing he's touched since Siamese Dream, and maybe since Gish. It's that good. It's not a Pumpkins record. It's the best 2005 has offered thus far. A


Beanie Sigel, The B. Coming
Hard-edged, dark, and occasionally a little schizoid, this is one helluva hip hop album, all held together by Sigel, who's got a distinctive timbre to his voice and a helluva lot to say with it. All the different producers and guests help prove the point that Beanie's the man here - some would say the man, period. A-

Common, Be
Well, sure the lyrics are a little on the soft side: this is Common, not 50 Cent. Honestly, this sounds like the Kanye record Kanye will never make because he's not a good enough rapper. He is, however, a good enough producer. And Common's a good enough rapper. B+

Richard Davis, Details
If Rufus Wainwright or Jeff Buckley were produced by Luomo, they'd kinda sound like this. On a Junior Boys tip, if the Junior Boys weren't as good as they are. B-

Shakira, Fijacion Oral Vol. 1
Whereas Emilio Estefan amped up the bland pop for Shakira's English-language debut, exec. producer Rick Rubin's guiding hand here keeps her return to Spanish edgy and nervous, so she's better able to jump from the refreshingly underproduced balladry of "En Tus Pupilas" (which finely shows off the soft side of her voice) to the energetic pop of single "La Tortura" and the "Rock Lobster"-isms of the Farfisa-kissed "Escondite Ingles." B+

The Tears, Here Come the Tears
Suede's Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler are reunited, and it feels okay. B


Parent's signature required
Brian Eno, Another Day On Earth
Yeah, Eno sings again, whoop-de-do. The music's still as somnambulist as ever, and that's not a compliment. C

Y'know, Snoop's "Let's Get Blown" is icier than Gucci Mane. I just can't get over Pharrell's whining synths powering this engine.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Yes, I'm fully aware that I've not been writing much lately, here or anywhere else. I'm back - I think - but don't call it a you-know-what: my take on the uh-oh new R. Kelly for Stylus went up today, as did my first review for Seattle Weekly, of, er, the Superstars #1 Hits Remixed comp (it's gay, I'm gay, whatcha know, y'know?).

I just can't decide if the single of summer 2005 is Missy Elliott's Cybotron-jacking "Lose Control" or Pussycat Dolls' songs-by-burlesque-troops-have-no-right-whatsoever-to-be-this-good "Don't Cha" (the former featuring Ciara and Fatman Scoop, the latter cameo king (and how'd that happen, anyway?) Busta Rhymes). "Don't Cha" proves once and for all that if he wants, Cee-Lo Green (formerly of Goodie Mob) could be the next hot producer, with this song's sexy bump'n'grind beat and Cee-Lo's bananas backing vocals, like P-Funk beamed in from Mars. The dolls give good face whilst teasing you into a frenzy - like the best burlesque, come to think of it - with lyrics like "don't cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?" LaBelle would've given plenty for this track 30 years ago. 20 years ago, meanwhile, Cybotron's "Clear" was still rocking better dancefloors worldwide, even at 2 years old at that point. But no one could've imagined that it'd get morphed into what may be the hip-hop jam of the year in '05, as Missy uses it as the backbone to her latest dancefloor demand (which she produced her own damn self, by the way). Crunkstress of the year Ciara provides a fine vocal assist, while Fatman Scoop does his call-and-response thing and manages, somehow, not to annoy as much as he typically does. As they say across the pond (from the U.S., I mean), each of these does the justice.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Marilyn Manson's face really is "made for violence and porn," as he sings in "Disposable Teens." His best-of, 2004's Lest We Forget, shows that at his best, MM does a kind of end-of-the-world bump-and-grind, performing your last ever lap dance. His pelvis is as unlocked as his id.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?