My friends would think I was a nut: My favorite debut solo albums

I define this list as solo albums released by people in bands. Wu-Tang Clans’s astounding series of 1994-1995 releases by Ol’ Dirty Bastard, GZA, Raekwon, and Ghostface Killah should dominate this list (I like Ghostface’s Ironman less than his next three albums when he established himself as the 2000’s most consistent album artist). I could include Bob Mould’s Workbook, Pusha T’s My Name Is My Name,  and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, among others, but GTFO: I listen to these the most, including my beloved Sharp.

1. Bjork – Debut
2. GZA – Liquid Swordz
3. Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (I)
4. Fever Ray – Fever Ray
5. Robert Forster – Danger in the Past
6. Lindsey Buckingham – Law and Order
7. Angela Winbush – Sharp
8. George Clinton – Computer Games
9. Jenny Lewis – Rabbit Fur Coat
10. David Sylvian – Brilliant Trees
11. Raekwon – Only Built for a Cuban Linx
12. Babyface – Tender Lover
13. John Lennon – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
14. Brian Eno – Here Come the Warm Jets
15. Phil Collins – Face Value
16. Feist – Let It Die
17. Alexander O’Neal – Alexander O’Neal
18. Bryan Ferry – These Foolish Things
19. Colin Newman – A-Z
20. Ice Cube – AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted
21. Annie Lennox – Diva

Worst Songs Ever: XTC’s ‘The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead’

Like a good single, a terrible one reveals itself with airplay and forbearance. I don’t want to hate songs; to do so would shake ever-sensitive follicles, and styling gel is expensive. I promise my readers that my list will when possible eschew obvious selections. Songs beloved by colleagues and songs to which I’m supposed to genuflect will get my full hurricane-force winds, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t take shots at a jukebox hero overplayed when I was at a college bar drinking a cranberry vodka in a plastic thimble-sized cup.

XTC – “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead”
PEAK CHART POSITION: #1 in May 1992

Nostalgists who like Kate Bush drew strength from an increasingly fussy studio craft but unlike Bush devolved into a miscellany of influences, XTC were at the peak of their American careers when they released 1992’s Nonsuch. Continue reading

Singles 7/27

A diverse top five below, crowned by Tamia, known by white audiences for 2002’s “Stranger in My House.” This lite disco wonder sounds like it could’ve been released a decade before that one; I’ve been singing “fire, fire, fire” to myself since mid-July.

Click on links for full reviews.

Tamia – Leave It Smokin’ (8)
Róisín Murphy – Plaything (7)
Kacey Musgraves – High Horse (6)
Let’s Eat Grandma – It’s Not Just Me (5)
Teyana Taylor – WTP (5)
Childish Gambino – Summertime Magic (4)
Twice – Dance the Night Away (4)
Bebe Rexha – I’m a Mess (4)
Two Feet – I Feel Like I’m Drowning (4)
Jonas Blue ft. Jack and Jack – Rise (2)
Kygo ft. Imagine Dragons – Born to Be Yours (0)

The best EPs

Check my list. If you heard not another note of these acts, these extended play releases would represent their best. Unfortunately, Americans, suspicious of singles because they lack the gravity of full albums, don’t dominate. Yet if you remain wedded to the version of an act with which you were besotted in your youth, 1981/1982 and Poguetry in Motion and Ghost Town retain their power to charm. The line between mixtape and EP, of course, has blurred in recent years. But You Cain’t Use My Phone has the emotional tug of an EP, though.

1. New Order – 1981/1982
2. Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster
3. Suede – Stay Together
4. Pavement – Pacific Trim
5. The Specials – Ghost Town
6. The B-52’s – Party Mix
7. Pere Ubu – Datapanik in the Year Zero
8. Erykah Badu – But You Cain’t Use My Phone
9. Miguel – Art Dealer Chic series
10. Nick Lowe – Bowi
11. Gang of Four – Another Man, Another Dollar
12. Pogues – Poguetry in Motion
13. Mission of Burma – Signals, Calls and Marches
14. U2 – Under a Blood Red Sky
15. R.E.M. – Chronic Town
16. My Bloody Valentine – You Made Me Realise
17. Arctic Monkeys – Who the Fuck are Arctic Monkeys
18. N.W.A. – 100 Miles and Runnin’
19. Azealia Banks – 1991
20. Buzzcocks – Spiral Scratch

Worst Songs Ever – Justin Bieber’s ‘Love Yourself’

Like a good single, a terrible one reveals itself with airplay and forbearance. I don’t want to hate songs; to do so would shake ever-sensitive follicles, and styling gel is expensive. I promise my readers that my list will when possible eschew obvious selections. Songs beloved by colleagues and songs to which I’m supposed to genuflect will get my full hurricane-force winds, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t take shots at a jukebox hero overplayed when I was at a college bar drinking a cranberry vodka in a plastic thimble-sized cup.

Justin Bieber – “Love Yourself”
PEAK CHART POSITION: #1 in February 2016

He had every reason to love himself: in 2016 Justin Bieber ruled the pop world. To his credit, I suppose, he did it his way, not loving himself enough to be satisfied with mere masturbation — that’s a fate he decreed for the girlfriend in his song. Continue reading

Screenings #37

Here’s this month’s haul in reverse chronological order, with a few blurbs. I hyperlinked to reviews.

* denotes a repeat viewing

Eighth Grade (Burnham, 2018) 7/10
The Day After (Hoo, 2018) 7/10
On the Seventh Day (McKay, 2018) 7/10
The Cakemaker (Graizer, 2018) 6/10
A Ciambra (Carpignano, 2018) 7/10
Chappaquiddick (Curran, 2018) 6/10
Ava (Foroughi, 2018) 8/10
First Reformed (Schrader, 2018) 8/10

* A Christmas Tale (Desplechin, 2008) 8/10

How this inchoate sprawl became one of my comfort films is one of life’s mysteries. If anything holds Arnaud Desplechin’s account of a holiday celebration, it’s the image of Catherine Deneuve sneaking a cigarette on a snowy evening.

The Swindle (Chabrol, 1997) 5/10

Isabelle Huppert and the late Claude Chabrol collaborated on several projects; this late nineties hybrid of The Lady Eve and one of Chabrol’s Aquarius-era thrillers doesn’t quite work, at once too po-faced for the former and stodgy for the lattter.

* Face/Off (Woo, 1997) 5/10
* Manhattan Murder Mystery (Allen, 1992) 7/10

Death Becomes Her (Zemeckis, 1992) 5/10

I know Bob Zemeckis’ dxpensive special FX comedy enjoys a fervent cult following, especially among fellow homosexualists, but other than decent bitchy banter and Meryl Streep’s commitment to laffs, I wasn’t moved by the spectacle.

The Best Intentions (August, 1992) 7/10
A Tale of Springtime (Rohmer, 1990) 6/10
Hopscotch (Neame, 1980) 6/10
* Diary of a Country Priest (Bresson, 1951) 9/10
*The Stranger (Welles, 1947) 6/10
The Kiss (Feydeau, 1928) 6/10

Love (Goulding, 1927) 7/10

Filmstruck members have until December to feast on a half dozen Garbo films, many available for the first time in some home watching format. Love particularly struck me: a marvelously ironic Garbo using cocked eyebrows and stillness to ensnare John Gilbert in Edmund Goulding’s adaptation of Anna Karenina. Although Garbo would star in a talkie version a decade later, she plays the definitive Anna — and Gilbert is damn hot as the doomed Vronsky.

Worst Songs Ever: Duncan Sheik’s ‘Barely Breathing’ and Sister Hazel’s ‘All for You’

Like a good single, a terrible one reveals itself with airplay and forbearance. I don’t want to hate songs; to do so would shake ever-sensitive follicles, and styling gel is expensive. I promise my readers that my list will when possible eschew obvious selections. Songs beloved by colleagues and songs to which I’m supposed to genuflect will get my full hurricane-force winds, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t take shots at a jukebox hero overplayed when I was at a college bar drinking a cranberry vodka in a plastic thimble-sized cup.

Duncan Sheik – “Barely Breathing”
PEAK CHART POSITION: #16 in May 1997
Sister Hazel – “All for You”
PEAK CHART POSITION: #11 in September 1997

“Mid temp blandness,” my friend Hector said when I asked him about “Barely Breathing.” Continue reading

Worst Songs Ever: Glenn Frey’s ‘Sexy Girl’

Like a good single, a terrible one reveals itself with airplay and forbearance. I don’t want to hate songs; to do so would shake ever-sensitive follicles, and styling gel is expensive. I promise my readers that my list will when possible eschew obvious selections. Songs beloved by colleagues and songs to which I’m supposed to genuflect will get my full hurricane-force winds, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t take shots at a jukebox hero overplayed when I was at a college bar drinking a cranberry vodka in a plastic thimble-sized cup.

Glenn Frey – “Sexy Girl”
PEAK CHART POSITION: #20 in August 1984

When Glenn Frey wants to get venereal, metaphor is a waste of time. Continue reading

Swingin’ low

Pundits confuse or conflate swing voters and centrists. They’re not the same. Swing voters can believe we need stronger environmental policies that protect us from sea level rise, endorse robust protections for reproductive liberties, yet believe the national debt is a problem and that Hillary Clinton is a cold bitch; some of the vilest misogynists, in my experience, have been on the left. Continue reading