Singles 1/29

I prefer my lyrical skewerings faster and sharper, but “Hardline” works anyway, the nastiest hate letter I’ve heard recited in months. Think of it as answer to Morgan Wallen’s effusions: he thought he’d impress her with a trap beat, she turns rather sourly to her guitar. Then Tim McGraw sits them down and is allContinue reading “Singles 1/29”

The best films of 2020: part four

We approach the end! Click on hyperlinked titles for full reviews. 8. The Assistant (dir. Kitty Green). ” he cloistered, toxic world of The Assistant offers evidence for the prosecution. This film traces the humiliations suffered by an office peon (Julia Garner) at a Manhattan movie production company. When she suspects her boss has otherContinue reading “The best films of 2020: part four”

‘There is no time to delay’

About damn time: Addressing reporters in the Oval Office alongside newly confirmed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday, Biden emphasized the urgency of taking sweeping action. “There is no time to delay,” he said. “We have learned from past crises that the risk is not doing too much. The risk is not doing enough.” Later,Continue reading “‘There is no time to delay’”

Ranking #26 singles, U.S. edition: 1979-82

Saving my Hague candidates for egregious violations of taste and decency, I have avoided targeting small fry; but when you’re a woman as wealthy, influential, and gifted as Christine McVie, you have no business supporting — producing! — the author of a limply tuneful inspirational anthem like “Don’t Give It Up.” I suppose Robbie PattonContinue reading “Ranking #26 singles, U.S. edition: 1979-82”

The best films of 2020: part three

12. Nomadland (dir. Chloé Zhao). “Envisaging an America with more geography than jobs, Nomadland suggests any of us could become a Fern, dependent on private, abashed charity and one mortgage payment from living in our SUVs. But [Chloe] Zhao hints at a richer, stranger notion: Fern chooses poverty over the comfort of manicured lawns andContinue reading “The best films of 2020: part three”

Songs that peaked at #9: 1969-1971

For once I’m grateful to Andy Williams: from “Where Do I Begin” to “Rock Steady” is a battle no one wants to fight, not to mention from tremulous it’s-okay-for-me-to-deflower-you hit “This Girl is a Woman Now” to Gladys Knight’s “If I Were Your Woman” — and a year separated them. This is one of myContinue reading “Songs that peaked at #9: 1969-1971”

I like you mostly late at nigh: The best of Robert Wyatt

With his thin high tremulous voice, Robert Wyatt crooned like the spirit of twentieth century radicalism lamenting its obsolescence. He hangs out on the edges of the canon, essaying large scale quasi-symphonic pieces and tuneful fragments. Chic, Gil Evans, and Elvis Costello, among others, got recontexualized. As recently as 2007’s Comicopera, he was relevant —Continue reading “I like you mostly late at nigh: The best of Robert Wyatt”

Songs that peaked at #6: 1968-1971

What a period. CTRL-F-ing these numbers, I thought matters looked grim in the early seventies until I looked backward, and, well, holy shit. The Temptations offered convincing Motown psychedelia, Edwin Starr and James Brown offered skeletal funk, Barbra covers Laura Nyro, Cream and CCR bring up in the rear with swamp rock, Dionne Warwick winksContinue reading “Songs that peaked at #6: 1968-1971”

Songs that peaked at #8, U.S. edition: 1968-1971

A triumph of gutbucket R&B, these years’ chart hits cover Sly Stone’s exhortations to dance, Stevie Wonder’s most underrated romp with his wife, Jerry Reed’s tale of a swamp al-lah-gatah in the Louisiana bayou, and several Motown classics, and they come into conflict with the prissy “Desiderata” (“Remember what peace there may be with silence”,”Continue reading “Songs that peaked at #8, U.S. edition: 1968-1971”