Right side of history at last: Daryl Hall

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 onContinue reading “Right side of history at last: Daryl Hall”

Last bit of housecleaning…

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 4Continue reading “Last bit of housecleaning…”

Atmosphere: “a euphemism for cocooning oneself in production”

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,Continue reading “Atmosphere: “a euphemism for cocooning oneself in production””

Twenty Best Albums of 2011: #’s 7-9

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 andContinue reading “Twenty Best Albums of 2011: #’s 7-9”

Twenty Best Albums of 2011: #’s 10-12

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 theContinue reading “Twenty Best Albums of 2011: #’s 10-12”

Twenty Best Albums of 2011- #’s 17-20

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 theContinue reading “Twenty Best Albums of 2011- #’s 17-20”

Do you hear what they’re saying: Holy Ghost!

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 “SomeContinue reading “Do you hear what they’re saying: Holy Ghost!”

Snowed in

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.Continue reading “Snowed in”

Fourth quarter update – singles

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 –Continue reading “Fourth quarter update – singles”

Lost one: Cole World – The Sideline Story

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 empathyContinue reading “Lost one: Cole World – The Sideline Story”

I’ll try to drown out my heart: Miranda Lambert’s “Four The Record”

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 galleryContinue reading “I’ll try to drown out my heart: Miranda Lambert’s “Four The Record””