Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma (Warp)
Never what most would call dancefloor-friendly, Steven Ellison goes all extended-work on us for 45 minutes, but that doesn't mean the 17 tracks just morph on. A few times they come close, but more often they pause and transition and sometimes they shift gears altogether‑-the whole is segmented, but subtly. Live harp to live bass to looped/sampled beats; bassy dream-pop to jazz scat to chipmunk space-kitsch. Part of its delight is how naturally the disparate parts fit together, but another part is how they add up to phantasmagoria if you let your attention wander (and don't be a tight-ass‑-you should). Thom Yorke contributes a vocal so modest and treated that you'll barely notice it's there. Not so the ping-pong volleys‑-part live and part looped, I think‑-that provides climactic end-game percussion. A MINUS
Eskmo: Eskmo (Ninja Tune)
The first solo album by San Francisco mixmaster Brendan Angelides, who was unknown to me because most mixmasters are, caught my ear before I read its few reviews, several of which compare him unfavorably to NYC gloomster Matthew Dear. Take that as a compliment. Dear's good tracks are well-ordered verse-chorus-verse by comparison, and he feels compelled to sing or intone where Angelides usually lets his textures ooze, thump, and crackle for themselves. This they proceed to do in what strikes this glitch-challenged listener as an exceptionally active and full-bodied manner. Not terribly beaty and almost never fast. Just the kind of weird background music that's guaranteed to engross whenever you lend it both ears. A MINUS
1967? Probably Pepper for me, then Are You Experienced, VU and Nico, Sell Out, Magical Mystery, I've Never Loved a Man - and I really like Smiley Smile!
Sorry for the rant. For those with the ability to play 24-bit sound, that little apple with the removable usb drive is the way to go, reissue-wise. I really can't imagine the Beatles sounding much better.
Anyway, Long Island, Stones guy, been reading xgau since at least the Creem with Spider-Man on the cover. Spider-Man has been my gateway to so many things, now that I think of it. But maybe earlier, because we got Newsday delivered. Love xgau's ears, find his writing maddening sometimes (we won't talk about the PE piece, but, to generalize, his frequent positing that those who don't see things his way are "fools"). I like almost everything he likes, and I can't say that about any other critic. But I'm also partial to, let's say, the Dionysian school of rock criticism (Bangs, Eddy, etc.). Two sides of my brain maybe. Keeps things interesting, because I'm always in a dialog with myself about music. Let's hope I don't start hearing voices too. Well, like prog for instance. Dirty word around here I know. Difference is, indie music just *signifies* prog, like, hey man, we listen to prog! I agree, that's bad. But it's not bad 'cause it's prog, it's bad because it is *bad* prog. In my world view, I believe there can be good prog. Those prog guys, well here I go again, they could *play*. You might not like 'em on Tales of Topographic Oceans so much, but they sound just fine on Hunky Dory.
Okay, now I'm really rambling. Over and out...
The last time I listened to Abbey Road, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Paul's singing. "Golden Slumbers" is unbelievable, just those few seconds. Makes up for "Maxwell's Silver Hammer."
How much of our enjoyment of the Beatles comes from their extraordinary variety? The White Album is a hodgepodge, but who else was capable of a mess of that quality?
Joey - yeah, The Who Sell Out is my choice for Best of the '60s, too. Best rock album, at least. A Love Supreme, maybe?
I don't think there's anything like a bad Beatles record. I'm a normally wired 40-something educated white American: they're my favorite band by most meaningful measures. I can't analyze any Beatles album with less than slack-jawed admiration.
But I do differ in my levels of emotional reaction and affinity, and I feel some extra distance from both Abbey Road and the White Album. The Beatles' early-mid-late evolution sounds to me like a progression through different stages of self-consciousness, and by the late period (post-Pepper is what I mean, but it's really a continuum) they seem to have a complex relationship to fame, genius, and each other that isn't always as much fun, for me, as their exuberant early albums or commanding middle ones.
One thing that continually amazes me is how they never repeated themselves after the first four albums, which strike me like parts of a whole. (I grew up with the U.K. versions and never looked sideways.) Not even Rubber Soul / Revolver or Pepper / Magical Mystery Tour, two sequences that I used to think of as pairs, sound like they could have emerged from the same moment. So if I don't feel the White Album as much as others, I appreciate it for moving forward.
Dean (Xgau), If Sgt. Pepper is A+, then I guess you'd agree that the top 5 albums of 1967 must be: 1. Beach Boys - Wild Honey , 2. Hendrix - Are You Exp? , 3. Beatles - Sgt. Pepper , 4. Who - Sell Out , 5. Moby Grape ? (with apologies to Between the Buttons, John Wesley Harding, and the debuts by the Velvets and the Grateful Dead).?
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.