Monthly Archives: August 2011

I’m sick of being misread: Stephen Malkmus

The solid musicianship and songwriting on Mirror Traffic force me to ask: does Stephen Malkmus suck now or did I forgive his annoyances? I started to notice them when he wrote a song called “(Do Not Feed the) Oysters” in 2003, a gormless metaphor draped over a raucous hook. Please note the cute parentheses too; that’s how Malkmus thinks these days.

Here’s my review in The Quietus.

CCR: “jam band”?

I had an argument today with a guy who called Creedence Clearwater Revival “the ultimate jam band,” a conclusion that not only appropriated the language of VH-1 but was dead wrong. Have you actually looked at the running time of CCR singles? Average length: just over three minutes. “Don’t Look Now,” to my ears their most powerful political statement, is an ear-numbing 2:12. When I asked this guy if he knew their cover of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” in mind, he said he hadn’t heard their spooky eleven-minute-plus version, which takes the title seriously enough to explore every one of its emotional permutations. Listen to John Fogerty’s guitar: jealousy transforms into paranoia. The still underrated rhythm section holds it together. In my interlocutor’s mind “jam” denoted “aimlessness.” I didn’t bother asking if he’d heard “Pagan Baby” or “Walk on the Water.”

Back to life!

A two-year hiatus and about as many months enduring my cutting remarks ended last week when Thomas Inskeep resumed updating Rock Me Tonight, his outstanding run through the number one R&B singles of the eighties. As far as I can see no rust either, as the blurbs on Soul II Soul’s “Back to Life ” (“A bit more chuggingly uptempo, but still a relaxed uptempo, a perfect summery groove for the autumn”), Jermaine Jackson’s forgotten “Don’t Take It Personal” (“This is one hateful record”) and Regina Belle’s so-rote-it’s-harmless “Baby Come to Me” (“if the syrupy Najee-esque sax solo wasn’t a tip-off, yes, covers of this have become a smooth jazz staple – it’s got a simple melody. A very simple melody”). Only a handful to go.

Singles 8/26

Never in my time reviewing for The Singles Jukebox have my tastes so closely aligned with consensus. In the same breath, I’ve also never so vigorously dissented from the consensus either. I found “Video Games” a bore on first listen, and it didn’t change on the sixth. On the other hand, “Love Done Gone,” the first country song to garner such universal acclaim, gets better.

ASAP Rocky – Purple Swag (8)
Billy Currington – Love Done Gone (8)
Taylor Swift – Sparks Fly (7)
Kasabian – Switchblade Smiles (6)
Azari & III – Manic (6)
Lena Katina – Never Forget (5)
Tonight Alive – Starlight (3)
J2K ft. Kenzie May – WTF (Electrik) (3)
Cobra Starship ft. Sabi – You Make Me Feel (2)
Lana Del Rey – Video Games (2)