Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 10 - Everything Is Going To Be Okay

Our brave heroine has narrowly escaped the throes of a sickening killer, a possessed house. In 40 minutes, she navigated the disorienting hallways of the Temple Room, had wax from Black Candles dripped onto her quivering naval, and received bad tidings from The Psychic. Through it all, she persevered, kept her pants on, and swore allegiance to the cross and to her Italian knight in mustachioed armor. One kiss from the knight makes it all worthwhile. A nightmare turned dream. Everything Is Going To Be Okay. Roll credits.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 9 - Lazarus

"Lazarus" opens with a minute of feedback and noise. It's a welcome stylistic gesture and cue for the listener embarking on Immaculada's second side. The song kicks into 4/4 gear at 1:14 but remains rife with tension. At 3:16, the song opens for a guitar riff that is so melodic and groovy that we don't want it leave, but it departs after a taste, and The Men bring the song full circle with familiar vocal parts and riffing. I think Miles at Gold Zounds might enjoy The Men.  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 8 - Monster

When Kanye West asks, "have you ever had sex with a pharaoh?" he might as well be asking, "have you ever had sex with me?" 

What came first, the chain that gives Kanye back pain, or the line, "Bought the chain that always give me back pain?"

Does My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's cover match Kanye's red suit? Did his inspiration for his Dark Twisted Identity start with a fly suit?

How do I put the pussy in a sarcophagus?

So many questions to ask oneself when listening to this year's hottest mp3. Kanye opens the proverbial can of worms on pimping, flossing, and being a monster, and he does it over the starkest beat on the record, a beat that is just a jazz loop away from RZA and the 90s. Jay-Z nearly derails the communal boast by talking about his lonely soul and love-void, as if we care, but it's cool because Nicki Minaj brags about her pink wig and thick ass and having a Minaj on Friday. 

Still, the star is Kanye, and I'm sure he wouldn't have it any other way. As John pointed out, he kills it with every line and boast. As the halfway point in a record about insecurity and hypocrisy and opulence, "Monster" is straight bragging. Jay-Z doesn't get it, but gosh, it's cool now. I already skipped back to Kanye's verse anyway.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 7 - Sorrow

Do I take The National for granted? Is it their fault that High Violet didn't seduce me like Boxer? Did I have unreasonable expectations?

Yes, my friends, High Violet let me down. I expected a home run and got a triple. Understand, I listened to Boxer so much. I like Boxer more than I like a lot of you. Four of its tracks are in my iTunes top 25 playlist. I don't even want to get into iPod plays. Good fucking record.

The first two songs to go public from High Violet were "Runaway" and "Bloodbuzz Ohio." I got stoked. I replayed them over and over. I thought about ways in which I would use the lyrics in my online profiles. And then I developed too-high expectations for High Violet
The songs that came later are texturally rich ("Conversation 16"), immaculately paced ("Little Faith"), haunting ("Afraid of Everyone"), and triumphant ("Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks"). There are some weak tracks, too. Some lines in "Anyone's Ghost" are lame, and the allure of "Lemonworld" is lost on me. 

Mostly, I have positive things to say, as you can see. I think, for now, I'll let High Violet grow on me and become a part of The National's catalog on its own terms. I look forward to any new material the band releases; I look forward to High Violet being their second-to-newest album.

Here's "Sorrow." You know it. You love it. It reminds me of Boxer but with that sonic High Violet stamp. All of the things I really liked about High Violet (the drumming, the backing vocals that sound like whispers) are present, and some of the things I didn't like (lyrics repeated to death, namely) aren't. Get down with your sad self because sorrow found you when you were young.

Are any of y'all with me on this? 
Did you buy the double LP? Definitely my favorite piece of vinyl of 2010.
Still one of the best live acts going. Drink too much white wine and go see them.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Songs of 2010 - Part 6 - Shine Blockas

The year-end lists are coming in, and blogs will have to choose between Big Boi and Kanye. Whether you think that's stupid or not, your decision might actually say a lot about your taste in hip-hop. Since it's Friday, I'm highlighting this Big Boi banger called "Shine Blockas." It technically came out in 2009, but it was on this year's LP, and it is just super.

Kanye is for the weekdays, the headphones, the soul-searching. It's not very club-friendly, unfortunately: the songs are long, and the best songs can be slow and challenging. Not so with Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. Three-and-a-half minute bangers all the way through, and Big Boi has fun the whole time.

He builds "Shine Blockas" from the beat up. After all the hos say ho, you get to feel the beat out for 20-30 seconds, and then Big Boi drops a pretty chill verse. Just chillin', riding Luciouswaves. After Gucci Mane, we get the song's finest moment---Big Boi's third verse with the pistol whip singalong part. New Years Eve is coming, and you'll undoubtedly be at a party. Find someone---doesn't matter who---and grind. I bet it will work, too, because no one will be able to block your shine.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 5 - The Oh So Protective One

Who says you should take a year-off when you're a 2009 hype band? Girls returned with an EP, Broken Dreams Club, and it is exquisite. "The Oh So Protective One" kicks it off with Spanish-influenced guitar and horns. Christopher Owens croons about a self-conscious girl, and his lyrics, although straightforward, are poignant and effective. 

The real star, though, is Chet White, the group's bassist and record engineer. The mix is perfect; each element falls into place at just the right time, and he doesn't revert to habits we heard on Album. In other words, no "God Damned" or "Big Bad Mean Motherfucker" engineering, which, although cool in its own right, doesn't work for the band as they expand their sound and embrace their inner Beach Boys.