Azealia Banks/Rye Rye
Azealia Banks: 1991 (Interscope)
Four tracks, 14 minutes of music, topped inevitably by "212" (and if you're not among the video's 20 million hits, succumb now). All of said tracks suit this eye-on-the-prize Harlemite's launch EP better than her many other YouTube offerings, some of which might in turn sound dandy mixed into the mixtape and official album we are assured will soon-come. One might bitch about the chopped-and-screwed monologue that brings total time to 16 minutes, only it's funnier and more pointed than the Clyde Smith skits it bites from Ghostface. So I hope this is the dancey hip-hop Nicki Minaj's haters claim to miss and know full well it's too effing dancey for 'em‑-not to mention too virtuosic, beatwise, layered, less-is-more, and much. Quick-tongued, lascivious, catchy, and delighted with itself, there hasn't been a more pleasurable record all year and probably won't be‑-not even by her. A
Rye Rye: Go! Pop! Bang! (Deluxe Edition) (N.E.E.T./Interscope)
Always defiantly thin both sonically and conceptually, M.I.A.'s best sidekick forever is an ideal conduit for a Bmore electro that doubles as the sound of ingrained urban poverty‑-a poverty complemented by a few throw-in anthems that use electronics to simulate affluence instead. Finally we've reached a tipping point resembling the riot grrrl moment of the early '90s, one in which every feisty hip-hop soprano has a you-go-illygirl edge on her notebook-toting male competitors. Selling point of the unfortunately download-only deluxe: two singsongy old M.I.A. collabs that drive the point home. B PLUS
e United States of America-the only industrialized nation in the world without universal health care(No?).
Finally a step -albeit a small one-in that direction-and the right is having a nervous breakdown. At least with this ruling
they may be covered.
PS The individual mandate-how is it different than having to buy car insurance? It isn't..
PPS Alexander Vauche-where intelligence, common sense and a sense of fairness go to die.
Why bother with him at all? His comments are much more lifts from the Really Big Book of Cliche Dissents than you suggest. The critic-bashing ones were tired when I was a teen, except the internet-populist ones, which are cut from the same cloth, just updated. Read how tedious and vague the counter-proposals are. Coward Che is an example of what the art discourse would be without his despised experts -- vague blathering not grounded in any specifics. (He commits many basic errors -- anthology work vs. single-artist work is wrong no matter what your conclusions.) And the relentless monotone anti-Xgau statements offend me as a person who regards the target in question as a teacher and a leader. Agree and disagree is the way to change things.
Responding to this stuff is encouragement. Please, no more.
Now, Azealia Banks, that broke through right away. Lots and lots to delve into -- all but demands repeat plays -- but there's some innovation in there with beats and texture and ... yeah.
(Nice that Interscope still seems to have a savvy cover-art dept.)
This will have to do --
Some of the most important action on the union front is happening among teachers, especially graduate students and what Bob, below, calls "adjunct" labor--also known as non-tenure track or "contingent" faculty depending on where you are. These vulnerable teachers have been leading the charge for awhile--at NYU and Yale, and at countless state universities--reminding all of us once again about the power of collective action.
And Nate, I'm with you on not knowing when Che is being even a little bit serious. The scary action on the university front is not about "outsourcing" the work of teaching. Far from it. It is about "branding" new satellite campuses of American institutions "offshore": The purple flag of NYU is already flying in Abu Dhabi. A college I used to work at was brokering a deal with Saudi Arabia as I was leaving there (Great conversation between the president of the college and a colleague ended when she said "Will it be ok with them if I drive a rental car while I'm there teaching my course?")
And bradluen: I wanted to say that the Eric Church song has really, really grown on me too. And not to geek out (though I think Church does) but I think the Bruce songs it evoke--and just each time he sings the word "Springsteen"--are some of those weird, noirish Darkness and River outtakes, like the alternate version of "Stolen Car" or the one we fanboys used to trade on cassette as "Taxi Cab" which appeared later as "City of Night."
David Thomson has written an interesting letter published in the 24 May LRB responding to a Marilyn Monroe piece by Jacqueline Rose. In it he talks about Barbara Loden, who played the Marilyn character in the debut production of After the Fall, and who (the crux of the letter) wrote, directed, and acted in her own film Wanda. Made me think of Claudine Clark. Claudine will never be a one-hit wonder by my lights.
Unions must destroy themselves - which they've been doing slowly for 50 years anyway - then re-invent themselves. Transform themselves or go the way of medieval guilds: obsolescence. Got a chance but the odds are long. Why? Lack of talent. Best and brightest don't gravitate to the union movement. Only the oldest and the loudest.
Expect carnage. For example, there is absolutely no technological reason, or human reason for that matter, why we could not outsource teaching at college levels to India and China. Not The American Way? Wrong. Outsourcing is what we are good at. Number one NYC industry 50 years ago? The Garment District. Where is it now? Points south, east and west, but for the most part not in the USA. NYC garment workers never saw it coming. Idea they were in competition with the southern states and then later countries like Vietnam never entered their noggins.
Change or die, Joe Hill, change or die.
The relationships between pop music and the passage of time is a lot more complex than many people think. "One-hit wonder" strikes me as the most unjust put-down in the lexicon, because it means nothing without a second question -- "yeah, but what was the hit?"
Some quick takes on recent spelunking:
Simply because the book wasn't closed on Leo Sayer, I went back and listened to his first two albums. My reactions reversed Bob's: Silverbird (which I had never heard) didn't do much of anything for me; I got more of a kick out of Just a Boy than I expected. But I realize this has everything to do with when and where I first heard the album (quite a few times) and so it's a personal nostalgia trip and Sayer is objectively trivial.
Reading Etta James's bio, I was intrigued by her near-obsession with Jesse Belvin, his abilities and his premature death. I picked his Goodnight My Love retrospective on Ace and heard a top-notch, second-tier, first-generation soul balladeer. Really been missing the boat not having more by him. His absence had nothing to do with not aging well (though he is far from a timeless performer) but everything to do with Modern being very poorly reissued in this country.
By coincidence I ran across a couple of references to James (gak) Taylor and his treatment of "Handy Man." I realized with a jolt that I had never heard the original version by Jimmy Jones (and then found out it was a much bigger 1960 hit in England than the U.S.). So I explored Good Times with the Handy Man 1955-1960 on Jasmine, which is much much too much of Jones's doo-wop falsetto and far more period pieces than Belvin's. But among several crunchy bits of joy, I discover that the first two version of "Handy Man" were Quite. Weird. Songs. And this not nothing. I mean, I'd play the guy for people before Sayer.
Finally, I ran across a best-of K.C. and the Sunshine Band in the storage shelves and while it jiggled the air molecules carefree as ever I thought of Mark Moses's amusing and flawless spiel about how if somebody couldn't appreciate the perfect construction and execution of the group, they had a pinched view of dance music in particular and even pop in general. As Xgau himself put it: "Explain to the historically minded that they were an important minor band and this is all that's left of them. Then have fun. A-"
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.