Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The latest Electric Six album is WORTH IT!

Good lines NOT mentioned in this PopMatters review of Zodiac:

"That's how organs shut down and gray seals die!!!"

"They sell this music at K-Mart!!!"

"94 seconds 'til the countdown starts!!!"

"You were hemmin' and hawin' about the apocalypse / While we were stuck in an elevator!!!"

"Why are all the white people filled with hate???!!!" [They're timely!]

"We can talk turkey 'til the turkey stops talking to me!!!"

(Some of these may be misremembered.)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Last Week In Jukeboxing

Ain't thinkin' 'bout "U"...

Le bien, le mal, et le gamelan:

Chrisette Michele – I’m a Star
Sounds better every time I listen, because “I’m up in the sky tonight” keeps sounding sadder, lonelier. Chrisette reveals how emotional desperation can drive self-empowerment as subtly as did “Irreplaceable”, as abruptly as “What’s cooler than being cool? ICE COLD!” Of course if you tell someone “I’m not thinkin’ ‘bout you”, YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT THEM, pink elephants and whatnot; but I’m even more impressed that she’s ostensibly putting her chorus into some sad sister’s mouth (“Tell ‘em…”) — she’s afraid we’ll figure her out, so she builds barrier after barrier between us and the catharsis she can’t allow. Her voice puts it over with a lovely arsenal of cracks and hiccups; despite the best efforts of the bridge to smooth everything over, the whole effect remains as delicate as Chuck Harmony’s gamelan production.

That's all I put up (slow week), but there's a good discussion unfolding over the merits of the extraordinarily fun rapper Nicki Minaj, springing from her performance on Kanye's latest.

Best Thing I Heard Today: Roland Kirk doing "From Bechet, Byas, and Fats"

A Zen monk's take on modal bop. Even though it's most memorable as a hard-charging tenor blowout, "From Bechet, Byas, and Fats" has a quirky stillness about it, in the heads that open and close the song, and especially in the wind chimes:

Roland Kirk has a reputation for being avant-jazz (I first picked him up on the recommendation of a Sonic Youth album cover), and while some of his recordings might bear that out, here he stands squarely in the tradition with a song dedicated to sax players Sidney Bechet and Don Byas and pianist Fats Waller. In Kirk's most iconic image, he's playing tenor sax, manzello (a sort of soprano sax with a mellophone bell grafted on), and stritch (a straight alto) simultaneously. My favorite record store, Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis, apparently digs Kirk:

No horns were played simultaneously in the making of "From Bechet", but we do get to hear the manzello for the head, and then we're off! Kirk tears through a wild tenor solo (that's the "Byas" part) over a two-chord vamp, featuring long stretches of note flurries supported by circular breathing. After that, Jaki Byard plays what amounts to an abstract Fats Waller tribute, featuring spunky Walleresque figures and, shortly after the four-minute mark, a speedy take on Fats's "Jitterbug Waltz":

During Byard's solo, Kirk helps out by clacking some castanets at esoteric intervals; I'm sure he understood why. Richard Davis gets a brief bass feature, and then we're back to the head, which refuses to end the song boisterously. In fact, the ending of this song is notably less rambunctious than the stuff that's come before, and the band finally nods off to some wind chimes and long notes. Spellbinding throughout.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Last Week in Jukeboxing

"Hey... tú... estás conmigo..."

They're letting me write blurbs over at the Singles Jukebox now, a site you may have noticed in my blogroll. It's well worth checking out; the site features several writers I admire (some of whose blogs are also over there to the left), and while everyone at the Jukebox takes pop singles more seriously than most rational people, they're not afraid to horse around. Writing this stuff is pretty addictive.

Le bien:
Javiera Mena – Hasta La Verdad
Striking in its deliberateness, the song builds meticulously to its final string extravaganza (sounds like the James Gang, of all people) while refusing to get excited, and Javiera refuses to emote or provide vibrato or alter her long notes in the slightest. She contemplates each sound as she makes it, examining her vowels in the shimmering light of the synths. Her approach suits the lyric, which I THINK is about appreciating the truth that’s right in front of you. Revelatory spoken interlude — “Hey… you… you are with me… Hasta la verdad” — leads into a (synth?) French horn solo which announces the dawn of some greater Verdad. Strauss on a mountaintop or some shit.

...le mal:
Zola Jesus – Sea Talk
The voice and the beat have the misfortune to remind me of “Be My Baby”, which only highlights the song’s inferiority to “Be My Baby”. We need tympani rolls leading into the choruses, folks! Momentum, power, more than two chords, recognizable emotion! The song tries reaching out for connection; Ms. Jesus admits she can’t be everything we want and asks a bunch of questions, but you get the sense she’ll go her own way regardless of the answers. Which is fine. I’ll just be over here listening to “Be My Baby” or reading Zola, I’ve been meaning to get to him.

...et le mot juste:
Pissed Jeans – False Jesii pt. 2

NOno! NO! NO!NO! nononoNO! NO! NO!NO! noNO! NO!noNO! NOno!NO!NO! NOno!NO!NO! noNO! NO! noNO!NO! nobody can do… NIHILISM THAT’S KIND OF DRAGGY BUT MAYBE THAT’S THE IDEA!!!… like I do… except Mudhoney…

Black Milk ft. Royce Da 5′9 and Elzhi – Deadly Medley [7]
Tinie Tempah ft. Eric Turner – Written in the Stars [6]
KT Tunstall – (Still a) Weirdo [2]
Brad Paisley – Anything Like Me [3]
Sleigh Bells – Infinity Guitars [8]
Kylie Minogue – Get Outta My Way [8]

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This new album by ¡Mayday! is NOT worth it.

"Don't even TRY coming back to the Cauley Square Tea Room!"

At PopMatters; I tried SO HARD to like this thing, you've no idea. Well, maybe not that hard. But I did try.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Best Thing I Heard Today: Jamey Johnson doing "My Way To You"

Watch out, Lee Ann, he's right behind you!!!

Jamey Johnson's new album is great; forget what I said about it here.  I was foolish then.  It's two discs of great songs, mostly originals, that are mostly straight-up honkytonk stuff, but that also touch on rock, soul, folk, scary threats toward rich people, and this atypically massive power ballad:

...which was apparently released as a single last year, though I sure never heard it on the radio.  (Never heard "High Cost of Living" either, an even better single from his last album.)  The recording is great -- every instrument is clear and occupies its own space, which is good since they take some pretty fine solos.  "My Way To You" is atypical precisely because most of the other songs are so loose-limbed and spacious, they rarely coalesce into the magisterial radio power you get here.  It's a great capper to a LONG (25 song) album.  Don't try to take it in all at once -- unless, you know, that's the sort of thing you like to do.

Here's a good ilx thread that I haven't formed cogent thoughts for.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

This new Birthday Massacre CD is NOT worth it!

Chin up, Chibi!

Anyhow, please enjoy this cheerfully negative review over at PopMatters.  And here's the cheerfully positive review I gave their first album back in '05.  At this rate, in 2015 they'll release a Christian CD of tempoless alt-country dirges and oud solos.  (Or something equally unappealing.)