I posted this on an Ann Powers-instigated Facebook discussion on blue-eyed soul: “Daryl Hall comes about as close as anyone did. What separates him from his forebears — white and black — is his sourness. Forget the songs and listen to his timbre; the guy is almost incapable of projecting warmth (even on “One on… More Right side of history at last: Daryl Hall
As the entire music community knows by now, The Village Voice published its Pazz & Jop poll yesterday. I got a few comments published here, here, here, and here. The winners: 1 tUnE-yArDs, w h o k i l l 2 PJ Harvey, Let England Shake 3 Jay-Z and Kanye West, Watch the Throne 4… More Last bit of housecleaning…
For all its beauty, formal strength, and allusive power, Let England Shake didn’t convert me. Tom Ewing does as good a job as anyone in explaining its impact: If I didn’t love the record, I’d be boiling with resentment now as critic after critic fell into line. But it’s my favourite album this year too,… More Atmosphere: “a euphemism for cocooning oneself in production”
9. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up The former leader of beloved nineties hip-hop trio Digable Planets shares the mic with fat-bottomed beats instead of confreres Doodlebug and Ladybug, and his intelligence and alliterative wordplay get the aural update he deserves. Here’s hoping he gets a commercial one soon. 8. Marsha Ambrosius – Late Nights and… More Twenty Best Albums of 2011: #’s 7-9
12. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake Another Harvey album reliant on a craftsmanship gimmick: White Chalk was her piano album, Let England Shake her autoharp one. The other striking thing about LES is too original to tag a gimmick: a song cycle about war and its discontents, which is the clue to why the… More Twenty Best Albums of 2011: #’s 10-12
Today’s installment. I hope to post updates for the rest of the week. 20. Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What Skeptical about this album six months ago, I left two songs on my iPod to remind me of its strengths: the title track/ sequel to 1972’s “Paranoid Blues,” with Simon replacing the… More Twenty Best Albums of 2011- #’s 17-20
Neither practioner of wimp-o-matic eighties electro recidivism produced a first-rate album this year, but having just gotten to Holy Ghost’s I prefer its articulation of incoherent angst, one guitar guitar squiggle at a time, over Junior Boys’. I doubt Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel figured out why they wanted Michael McDonald on the climactic “Some… More Do you hear what they’re saying: Holy Ghost!
Of course she loves concepts — she’s even pretty good at delineating them in song suites and such. She’s even better at coaxing all manner of aural wickedness and mystery from samplers — “Waking the Witch,” “There Goes a Tenner,” and “Get Out of My House” are miracles of Fairlight programming commensurate with imaginative daring.… More Snowed in
Drake’s Thank Me Later might be too dull to review fully, but I’m too busy with lechon and turkey to address this.
Two weeks ago I posted a tentative list of the year’s best albums. Here’s the singles list, nothing cemented in place, of course. Britney Spears – Till The World Ends Diddy ft. Swizz Beats – Ass on the Floor Beyoncé – Love On Top Nicki Minaj ft. Ester Dean – Super Bass Katy B –… More Fourth quarter update – singles
For months one of our students has proselytized on behalf of J. Cole — “the best rapper in the game,” he claims. Jermaine Lamarr Cole, whose name reminds me of a late nineteenth century, aggressively bearded Supreme Court justice’s, is observant and introspective when duty calls. On tracks like “Lost Ones,” he has the empathy… More Lost one: Cole World – The Sideline Story
Ecumenicalism can look like “Song of Myself” or it can look like a list; in an irritable mood “Song of Myself” looks like a list. The ease and precision with which Miranda Lambert slings polysyllables in Four The Record’s “All Kinds of Kinds” shows how she continues to grow as a singer, but the gallery… More I’ll try to drown out my heart: Miranda Lambert’s “Four The Record”