I heard the record it’s all right – Destroyer’s “Kaputt”

With his nasal voice and penchant for song titles like “Jackie, Dressed in Cobras” (the comma is the most offensive part),  Dan Bejar projects the kind of archness that tempts fans into seeing layers beneath layers. I could never get past his voice: North Americans imitating Brit poseurs rub me the wrong way. Within theContinue reading “I heard the record it’s all right – Destroyer’s “Kaputt””

The perils of Jesus chicken

A note to my students, one all Chick-fil-A aficionados: “‘“If you’re eating Chick-fil-A, you’re eating anti-gay.’” Me, I don’t give a damn about their sandwiches — on the soggy side, no? — but as long as the corporation isn’t supporting, financially or otherwise, the death of gay Ugandan activists I’ll keep muttering darkly over myContinue reading “The perils of Jesus chicken”

Kristol blue persuasion

Paul Berman, one of those conflicted liberals whose Terror and Liberalism persuaded me into brief support of the Iraq War in 2003,  reviews the collected Irving Kristol. Not much need be said about the father of Bill Kristol in 2011, except that these New York intellectuals took their Trotskyism, recanted or otherwise, seriously enough toContinue reading “Kristol blue persuasion”

Singles 1/28

The busiest singles week of the new year, during we evaluated every genre except zydeco and new Miami Sound Machine records. The best: the most committed Wayne performance since the Bush administration, and a sweet quasi-onanistic country tune. The worst: the two-divided-by-zero collaboration between Rihanna and David Guetta. All records graded one to ten. ClickContinue reading “Singles 1/28”

Sense and Sensuality: Night Nurse

Pauline Kael on Night Nurse (1930): William Wellman directed this picture in his fast, unvarnished style; it has a grungy likability. Clark Gable is the sexy villain, a thieving gigolo-chauffeur in a black uniform; his specialty is socking women. Stanwyck gets it right on the jaw. But Wellman knew how to use Stanwyck for herContinue reading “Sense and Sensuality: Night Nurse”

Mummified: The American

I thought the failure of Solaris (2002) had taught George Clooney the peril of choosing roles in which he’s asked to impose his unimpressive physicality over his talent for glib chatter. The American, Anton Corbijn’s attempt to turn Clooney into Alain Delon, is attenuated and vacant; it nods towards the “leisurely” thrillers of the seventiesContinue reading “Mummified: The American”

The fly in the ointment: Wire’s “Red Barked Tree”

Wire has made three albums since reuniting in the new century: 2003s’ Send, which did little more than collect a couple of tracks from their Read & Burn EP series and include a few new ones designed to destroy the levels on your car stereo; and 2008’s Object 47, a return to “proper” songs which,Continue reading “The fly in the ointment: Wire’s “Red Barked Tree””

Pazz and Jop singles chart: Abandon hope all ye who enter

Al Shipley examines the Pazz and Jop’s singles chart with a cold eye and finds a disturbing development: “Today’s Pazz & Jop electorate has a much harder time engaging with the charts,” as in, the pop charts: Granted, you may think that pop music is at a nadir right now, and critics are right toContinue reading “Pazz and Jop singles chart: Abandon hope all ye who enter”

Singles 1/21

Welcome back. In the first real competition of the year, Nicki Minaj reminded me why Christgau believes in her and the rest of us want to. Disgusting and fag-haiting, “Roman’s Revenge” allowed two incorrigible role players room to act. Em sounds great, but using the phrasing and intonations that wowed us in 2000 in 2011Continue reading “Singles 1/21”

Got no flowers for your gun: Soho’s “Hippychick”

I won’t argue that it’s a classic, but instead a good example of how to interpolate a sample to ends which undercut its intentions. The hysterically reverbed guitar on The Smiths’ “How Soon is Now?” lent the equally hysterical lyrics (which at least have the virtue of being straightforward) the melodramatic truth on which adolescentContinue reading “Got no flowers for your gun: Soho’s “Hippychick””