Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
You think genius has to be big? Like, a singular theory of everything or totally disruptive art?
And for that, this completely qualifies: this is genius of the everyday. To Valentin Coronado: Props, sir.
Once, I did a lot of time with this book. A lot of kids’ books parents will come to dread, but this one was a classic. I’d take my daughter’s toddler hand and drum on the book for the dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum bit. She loved that. (*Sniff,
Friday, August 21, 2020
|The eyesome Sofi Tukker|
Another 10 to add to the list:
31) Brittany Howard, History Repeats (2019): Howard led the Alabama Shakes, of which I know little—the name puts me right off—is a former postal carrier, and has created music worthy of striking gold from the Grammy establishment. And this from her solo record of last year—classic level stuff:
32) Sofi Tukker, Drinkee (2016): Of this new phase of musical minimalism, I’m a fan. (I’m not ashamed to admit an affection for some Billie Eilish also.) This duo may be too pretty by half but the groove is sickly sticky, from the Portuguese signature to the vapor-light guitar filagrees.
33) Graham Coxon, Bus Stop (2018): Coxon, a founder of Blur, offers nothing new here. In fact, the song sounds as if it were built on the platform of Devo’s Gut Feeling. But no matter – what’s good is good. If you saw the series, the song fit perfectly.
34) The Plastics, Stereo Kids (Reprise) (2012): Influential Japanese “technopop,” name-dropped by Polysics, Pizzicato 5, and Stereo Total for their short stint in the late 70s and early 80s. They also made fans of Talking Heads, Devo, and The B-52s. Disappeared shortly thereafter but must’ve decided in the early 10s that working day jobs was no way to live, and have recorded 4 albums since 2011.
Unlike what usually happens—and if this song is any indication—they got far better with age.
35) Everything Everything, The Night of the Long Knives (2017): This Mancunian outfit birthed in 2007. Described by Wiki as art-rock but I don’t hear it. A lot of time was invested in cool synth sounds and the intricate vocal harmonies—those are the elements that lead the circus here, but it’s the production that takes the most turns in the spotlight. Someone really labored over twirling the knobs here—and the result is a sound they’ll never recreate live. But the song’s ultimate booby trap is that sweeping wall of electronic clangor that erupts for the choruses. That orgasmic sound is the one that’ll make you hit Repeat again and again.
A live in-studio performance:
37) Caleb Landry Jones, Flag Day/Motherstone (2020): Texan Jones is better known for acting (he was in an X-Men, Get Out, and episodes of Twin Peaks) than for his time as a musical mastermind. His affection for Tin Pan Alley song smithery, via George Martin’s Beatles’ orchestrations, and his cop of Lennon’s psychedelic era voice are both obvious. Flag Day/Motherstone spared no expense on arranging, charts, and orchestral puffery and the results are impressive. His toe dips between the pools of music hall and prog. I also hear early Split Enz, The Divine Comedy, Monkees ca. Head, the histrionic scale of Queen, bits of Esquivel, and a number of contemporary bands namechecked on my Beatle Juice post. If his work meanders it’s only part of the fun.
He’s getting his due: this is some sh*t.
39) Soko, Just Want to Make It New with You (2013): On her debut album, I Thought I Was
Her more recent material has taken on a more produced and polished sound. The Alien record offered a diary level of intimacy and a sound that could’ve been recorded in a bedroom. Soko shares a rare and startling nakedness that reveals a profound vulnerability, even for a confessional of one’s own self-abuse.
40) A.A. Williams, Love and Pain (2020): The song begins in a whisper. G
Bonus! Supergrass, Road to Rouen (2005), Mary (1999): When the band debuted in the mid-90s, they were met with a lot of unctuous
Monday, August 17, 2020
Changes (Black Sabbath), 1972: Charles Bradley (2012)
Charles Bradley (1948-2017) hadn’t heard of Black Sabbath. But once he heard the song—Changes, originally recorded by Sabbath in 1972—he heard it. The song bit into his own grief and complicated relationship with his mother as he explains below.
The lyrics aren’t profound but they’re felt, in this case, through both performances. Ozzy’s face seems to be haunted by something in his rendition; for Charles, it’s clear his mother was still very much rattling chains in his head.
You could say his she sang it for him.
As to his mother: After abandoning Charles at eight months old, she reclaimed him from his grandmother at eight years and took him to live in Brooklyn, NY. By 14, Bradley would escape his poor living conditions—his basement bedroom had a sand floor—and sleep in subway cars for 2 years. He wouldn’t live with his mother again until the 1990s.
Bradley would work as a chef, part-time singer
Sunday, August 9, 2020
|The Vox “Connie”|
Saturday, August 8, 2020
Oh, to be a George.
As I was discussing the legend of Harrison’s carnal guzzling, my partner said, “
Even for the Beatle described as the "melancholic” and “quiet” one, he still managed to get himself, well, up in more p*ssy than a bidet. Beatles expert Bill Harry claimed Harrison had “hundreds and hundreds of affairs.” (According to Harry, even at that George still came in second to Lennon.) And like any (quiet) champion, the playa didn’t have to boast about life behind the zipper—certainly not in song.
(Some of the
|Oh Boy George|
In George’s two marriages, both wives claimed he was an inveterate philanderer: the first, Patti Boyd (1966-1977), would get some side action herself—she
|Olivia sitting through a hiccup|
Even so, given Harrison’s history, it seems likely that a simple hookup wouldn’t be nearly enough. This may explain his pouncing on both Ringo’s and Ron Wood’s wives.
Here’s what the Wiki page for his Dark Horse album had to say:
|Patti Boyd in her Layla garb|
That scamp Harrison also reportedly did some serious
George and Paul are also known to have shared at least one girlfriend in the early days and George and John both picked a Ronette on an early tour.
|Patti trying to hold on|
Monday, July 13, 2020
Diamond Dogs (David Bowie), 1974: Beck (2001)
|Vivienne Westwood does “diamond” dogs|
The best covers will offer something new. They’ll add something to the song’s language, changing it’s tone and personality, even it’s face and body—hence the “reassignment surgery.” Doing it well is a tall order and that’s why the good ones are such a rarity. As I said here, a good cover will even make you hear the lyrics in a new way—adding more subtext to the original.
Some Cover Champions of Note:
- Jeff Buckley, Hallelujah
- Janis Joplin, Me and Bobby Magee
- David Bowie, Wild Is the Wind
- Johnny Cash, Hurt
- Earth, Wind, and Fire, Got to Get You Into My Life
- Talking Heads, Take Me to the River
- Bryan Ferry, A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall
- Jimi Hendrix, All Along the Watchtower
- Nina Simone, I Put a Spell on You, especially this, and just about anything else she’s done
- And this: two Dutch teens wring depths of emotion from Creep you never knew was there, while betraying the emotion with grinning faces
Another add for the Champion List: This diamond from the Moulin Rouge! movie soundtrack.