Ranking Neil Young albums

Debuting as a goggle-eyed hippie with a malicious streak he never quite dropped (“Revolution Blues,” “Thrasher”), Neil Young spent the seventies looking for excuses to splatter guitar noise on rhythm tracks his backup band could barely play, or recording his own pretty acoustic exercises as if to show he didn’t need the long-suffering three-headed brideContinue reading “Ranking Neil Young albums”

Singles 9/27

I’ve loved “Wish Wish” since I reviewed the Khaled album last May; we’ve heard so many Cardi and guest-Cardi vocals in the last eighteen months that its savagery and focus are tonics (speaking of savagery: 21 Savage acquits himself solidly). More than a year after its release, Dierks Bentley’s The Mountain keeps releasing singles andContinue reading “Singles 9/27”

‘And some of his charm offensive is very offensive’

in Nancy Pelosi’s New Yorker interview with David Remnick. Earlier this week, Pelosi said, she took a call from Trump, who started out talking about guns. “The President, as you know, is big on what he claims is the charm offensive,” she said. “And some of his charm offensive is very offensive. He was callingContinue reading “‘And some of his charm offensive is very offensive’”

Ranking Joni Mitchell’s albums

My generation, to its credit, has posited Night Ride Home and Turbulent Indigo as excellent autumnal followups to Joni Mitchell’s epochal seventies work. Glancing at these rankings, though, I find it hard to find albums I couldn’t defend. Mingus and Wild Things Run Fast boast overstatements that her earlier and later work eschewed, but “TheContinue reading “Ranking Joni Mitchell’s albums”

Ranking Daniel Lanois’ productions

“To gauze over every aural detail and call your soft focus soul,” Robert Christgau wrote in 1995, and he’s not wrong about Daniel Lanois’ approach except I don’t mind the results. At its worst, it evokes cobweb-covered attics in the dark with the fourth guitar player plucking his strings while the second bassist rumbles; beholdContinue reading “Ranking Daniel Lanois’ productions”

On the loud, proud indeterminacy of R.E.M.’s ‘Monster’

Understanding how discretion and secrecy may share a space but aren’t synonymous, R.E.M. issued declarative statements from behind new screens on Monster. A new remix polishes the vocals to middling effect on their 1994 multi-platinum: Stipe and guitarist Peter Buck compete for Sexiest Man Alive when they and bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill BerryContinue reading “On the loud, proud indeterminacy of R.E.M.’s ‘Monster’”

Ranking Max Martin productions

ABBA adapted for Diane Warren ends and loving it, the most prodigious songwriter of his generation’s tracks epitomize capitalism: verses and chorus sighted, targeted for destruction, absorb the pieces, reconstitute them, discard. It will turn out eventually that Max Martin is my generation’s Holland-Dozier-Holland, with Britney Spears as their Diana Ross. Although he’s lost hisContinue reading “Ranking Max Martin productions”

‘Abbey Road’ turns fifty, no grey hairs in sight

I offer warm applause to The Beatles album in your parents’ collection most likely to have driven you crazy as an adolescent if they were fan. The final studio recording before the band dissolved in a haze of truculence, bad sandals, and worse beards, Abbey Road has a crispness and cool that makes it aContinue reading “‘Abbey Road’ turns fifty, no grey hairs in sight”

Ranking Mitchell Froom’s productions

Often when listening to an album produced by Mitchell Froom, I wonder if his zealotry at the mixing board is a form of revenge aimed at his clients for not hiring him as a member of their act. Whether he works with Richard Thompson or Suzanne Vega, or even simpatico acts like Los Lobos andContinue reading “Ranking Mitchell Froom’s productions”

Ranking P-Funk and George Clinton’s discographies

CREDIT: Bruce W. Talaman A full accounting of George Clinton, Bernie Worrell, Bootsy Collins, Fuzzy Haskins, Eddie Hazel, and goodness how many other planets in this solar system would take several pages; but I wanted to preserve the essential achievement of the foulest, skeeviest, and most fluent funk band(s) of all time. I ranked Funkadelic’sContinue reading “Ranking P-Funk and George Clinton’s discographies”

Where inaction has left us

“This kick-the-can-down-the-road play may or may not be a wise tactical move. I am not a tactician. But it borders on insanity not to realize that ignoring all of the president’s past bad acts encourages and indeed rewards even worse new ones,” Dahlia Lithwick writes in a Slate column. More: It defies logic for HouseContinue reading “Where inaction has left us”