Singles 9/28

The comments section in the Silk City-Dua Lipa boasts a fascinating conversation between several writers regarding the presentation of Dua’s ethnicity in her most recent musical contexts. I would draw a line between this exchange of views and what we wrote about the horror of Hozier’s well-intentioned collaboration with Mavis Staples. Acknowledging his limits asContinue reading “Singles 9/28”

Deborah Eisenberg: she’s back

The occasion of a new volume of Deborah Eisenberg stories is cause for huzzahs. Few volumes get consulted in my laird with the frequency of 2011’s Collected Stories. Her talent for the startling, apt metaphor (“The woman’s features were like a pile of root vegetables screening her expression”) dovetails with the hairpin turns of herContinue reading “Deborah Eisenberg: she’s back”

Ranking my favorite Wire albums

Gelid masters of role playing, protean dilettantes, Wire became known for honing an approach to punk, then for working, occasionally with strain, to erasing any memory of that approach, which meant they were the truest punks of the lot. When I argue, as I often have, that “coldness” is a compliment, Wire are a fewContinue reading “Ranking my favorite Wire albums”

Seeing villains as misunderstood victims

“There was, in this performance, not even a hint of the sagacity one expects from a potential Supreme Court Justice,” Doreen St. Félix writes in The New Yorker. More than presenting a convincing rebuttal to Ford’s extremely credible account, Kavanaugh—and Hatch, and Lindsey Graham—seemed to be exterminating, live, for an American audience, the faint notionContinue reading “Seeing villains as misunderstood victims”

Sullying a dirty record

Comments inspired by a day of unrelieved sordidness: (1) As boys we’re told not to cry. Depending on how machista your family is, the implication is that women cry: they cry because they’re emotional. Christine Blasey Ford’s voice quivered but she didn’t cry. Judge Brett Kavanaugh sobbed, bawled, rent his garments. As several women IContinue reading “Sullying a dirty record”

Ranking Leonard Cohen 1985-2016

I wrote at length already about Leonard Cohen two years ago, and I don’t intend this list as comprehensive. His only dud between 1985 and 2016 is Dear Heather — an indifferently sung and written album, to my ears, redeemed by the title track. Many Cohen fans going back to his terrible novel Beautiful LosersContinue reading “Ranking Leonard Cohen 1985-2016”

Worst Songs Ever: Daryl Hall and John Oates’ ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’

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 toContinue reading “Worst Songs Ever: Daryl Hall and John Oates’ ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’”

Ranking favorite Pearl Jam albums

“Admiring non-fan,” Robert Christgau averred once about his relationship with Elvis Costello albums. Attracting some of the most reactionary fans on the planet, as I saw firsthand in 2003 when during Sleater-Kinney’s killer opening set several dudes in front of me snickered, “Who are these dykes?” Pearl Jam have nevertheless grown in declamatory power asContinue reading “Ranking favorite Pearl Jam albums”