Have a Nice Weeknd
Frank Ocean: Nostalgia, Ultra (free download)
A high point many admirers never mention sets the tone‑-the lead "Strawberry Swing," where the alienated young r&b pro rewrites the sappy Coldplay single without underplaying its lyricism or, as promised, its nostalgia. "I've loved the good times here" is a sendoff worthy of the "dying world" Ocean calls home. His romantic laments are models of texture, respect, and profound loss, their beats subtle, seductive, weird, and seized like time whether he's deploying "songs for women" that are soon trumped by Drake's, not feeling a porn-moonlighting dental student and her "novacaine," or annulling a courthouse wedding solemnized just before his bride turned in her term paper on hijab. Swagga his Odd Future crew: "It's Smooth Ass Music About Bitches, Relationships And Being A Rich Young Nigga . . . But In A Swagged Out Way." Lord he's so over their heads. A
Blaqstarr: Divine EP (N.E.E.T./Interscope/JB Starr Productions)
You may remember this Diplo-backed B'more DJ from Maya, where three of his productions were relegated to the bonus section that sealed the damn album. (Did you like "Illygirl"? That's his.) A full-length is projected, and he's just dropped a free mixtape that demonstrates his range in that scattered mixtape way. But there's nothing scattered about this EP, which slipped out unnoticed on M.I.A.'s's vanity label in January. Simple, obsessive electrobeats are augmented by pitch-corrected chants and marked with minimal lyrics. "Oh My Darling" is "about" a fantasy dancer, "Rider Girl" steals Rye Rye's car keys, (Ricky) "Divine" invites the licking of ice cream, "Wonder Woman" licks a gun instead, and it's my inconvenient duty to report that the iTunes version adds a somewhat peppier song that I recommend even though it changes up a tone that I'm free to suspect is what sipping sizzurp feels like because I'll never find out. A
Re: Al Green. Actually, Christgau's raves of Al Green in the 70's CG (one artist I truly loved by college) and gave me the green light to trust him and take a chance on all those other "weird" albums contained therein.
It helps that they're quiet
New favorite buskers were a trio of mop-headed brothers singing all Beatles.Favorite busking moments: guy in Montreal subway station (Sherbrooke, I think it was) singing The Pogues' "A Pair of Brown Eyes", a huge sentimental favorite of mine. All I had on me was a $20 bill, and I strongly considered giving it to him. Also, guy in heavily touristy part of Old Quebec doing Bob Dylan's "Lily Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" - dude could have made life easy on himself and played "Knocking on Heaven's Door" instead, but there he was singing all 73 or so verses of "Lily Rosemary" (I walked by him again 10 minutes later and he was still going at it).
You know what though, it's exactly like Bob says, Everybody likes Al Green.Possibly shameful secret: I had to learn to enjoy Al Green. It reeeeeaaaaallllly did not come naturally. My first encounters with his music were, predictably enough, Xgau-induced and my first reaction was, boy oh boy, he ain't kidding when he says that Green "spins his music out over an area not much larger than a hankie". I like a fair bit of his stuff now (esp. The Belle Album and I'm Still In Love With You), but it's still nowhere near as visceral a pleasure for me as, say, Sly Stone or Prince or prime Motown.
Hi John, thanks. We did our best for the economy at the Pike Place Market today. New favorite buskers were a trio of mop-headed brothers singing all Beatles. The bass player was even left handed. The second favorite was a young woman who got extra cash out of me for "Dirty Work" from Steely Dan's first album.
We always have fun up here and today was absolutely beautiful.
Welcome to Seattle Greg, I hope all goes well. That damn spam filter got me the other day too!
Lou Reed and Metallica are a perfect fit, this according to David Fricke, so we will see. Not holding my breath. Has it really been 11 years since Ecstacy? I saw him on that tour and it really rocked.
Current listening - Egypt - Youssou N'Dour (Might even play it 3 times ala Joe Levy). Yes folks I like it THAT much.
sharpsm: There is significant disagreement about musical choices in our little three-person household, generally dominated by my half-asian stepson for whom Brad Paisley is not country enough. My wife looks at him and says "Where did you come from?" To which he tilts his head toward me and says, "Do you want to listen to that dee-ooo-ooo-deedee-rahrah-oooeeeooo crap?" That's their code for Sleater-Kinney, at which point I have no chance.
You know what though, it's exactly like Bob says, Everybody likes Al Green.
So if I'm not mistaken, N.E.E.T Recordings has a three-for-three A-minus-or-above score going in Christgau world. We now need only await his verdict on Rye Rye.
On a semisimilar note, current listening whilst biding time before trying out the Blaqstarr is an iTunes shuffle of all five 4AD albums Xg designated as A-worthy, all released this decade even though the music on one is from a little bit before. Works surprisingly well, or maybe not so surprisingly.
Something else that works a lot more surprisingly well is the transition between Miley Cyrus' "Party in the U.S.A." and Grant McLennan's "Hot Water", discovered during a casual run through a recent CD I made for myself of quick-fix, personally predictable mood-enhancer stuff.
Point to my mentioning any of this: N/A
How come established, presumably richer artists complain more about ownership than less established ones do?GMort: Simple enough. [performer no one has ever heard of] complains about sampling/file-sharing/whatever: no one cares and you don't hear about it. Lars Ulrich complains about same: news item.
(also, if like many/most performers, you make no money whatsoever from your record sales because you're indebted to the label - or they're just plain screwing you - then you're probably less likely to care)
JY: The Roy Brown comment reminded me of something I've been meaning to say for the last couple of weeks -- late 40's, early 50's, pre-Elvis jump blues is an incredible vein that doesn't seem yet to have been completely mined. When Sam Phillips either said or didn't say what he did about Elvis sounding black, he had to have been referring to some black artists that he was familiar with. Sorry that the Roy Brown BO wasn't that good, since pretty much everything I've heard from that era is non-stop killer. The Dawson/Propes book, What Was The First Rock 'n' Roll Record is a great source for cruising that era.
I guess I just love old music, but my favorite albums this year have been reissues, and not new ones either. Just ones I've finallly picked up on CD:
Charlie Parker: Bird/The Savoy Recordings (Master Takes) (Savoy Jazz)
Okeh Western Swing (CBS Special Products)
The Chi-Lites: Greatest Hits (Epic)
Willie Nelson: The Essential Willie Nelson (RCA)
Also - been filling in gaps in my collection by purchasing cheap Rhinos on eBay:
Good Rockin Tonight: The Best of Roy Brown
Surprisingly bad. If this is supposed to be R&B, it would do better to be in time. In tune would help also. The sax solos are awful, the band is sloppy in a bad way, and the lead singer doesn't tie my shoes, let alone knock my socks off. (not sure what that means.)
Jumpin at Capitol: The Best of Nat King Cole Trio
As essential a collection as the later Nat King Cole Story which features re-recordings of a few of these classic pop standards. No strings here - just superb musicianship and singing smooth as silk. Nice.
The Turtles: 20 Greatest Hits
An early Rhino reissue from 1984, this generous CD has a less-than-average-by-Rhino-standards booklet featuring awful cover art and inadequate documentation. But the music is fantastic. Psychedelic pop? Whatever you call it, they were a quintessential '60s studio band and this CD belongs in every serious rock library. And the 20 tracks are so well chosen, I won't carp about those MIA from the great lost Turtles album, Happy Together Again (Sire 1974), one of the greatest compilations ever. Great songwriting by Bonner/Gordon mostly but also Nillson, Warren Zevon and the Turtles.
Been off-line since early Tuesday morning, up in sharpsm territory with wife and step-son for a medical procedure for him at the highly rated Swedish Medical Ctr (GERD, serious quality of life stuff for him). Beautiful day in the Puget Sound area. Beautiful.
As for the Elvis 50's box, I can't do a comparison of tracks until I'm back home tomorrow afternoon and wouldn't consider myself an Elvis scholar anyway. To me it's more like the Armstrong Portait Of An Artist box -- Required for citizenship.
Sorry I missed the Rush comments. I was always sure that Rush, Styx and Uriah Heep were the same band.
Long story -- I met an African emigree in the mid-90's who I tried to engage in a Christgau-inspired (on my part anyway) discussion of African music. Diblo Dibala? Never heard of him. How about the band then, Loketo? Nope. Tshala Muana? Nope. Baaba Maal? Nope. He went on to say that back home when somebody came by and said, "I've got a great new album", it was likely to be Police Greatest Hits. Then he made me laugh out loud when he said that there was one band that, if he could get tickets to one of their concerts he might jeopardize his college internship if it required him to travel and miss class -- Styx. I'm sure there is a point to this story that has to do with how scarcity creates value.
The only thing I have to add to the Don Henley/artistic ownership thread is to ask, How come established, presumably richer artists complain more about ownership than less established ones do? Shouldn't they be the more gracious since their success is already determined? No matter how famous Frank Ocean gets, is anybody ever going to forget the Eagles? Classic Rock radio would have to go out of business first. Which would really put a crimp in the Rush/Styx/Uriah Heep conversation.
But I do like Procol Harum's Broken Barricades.
Notes on packaging:
Afro Latin via Dakar, Kinshasa: anyone else finding that the package easily rips at corner of pocket where the booklet is supposed to fit into - such that the booklet falls out?
Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two - the anticipation of hearing this one is killing me but my contractor has assured me that the special tools he ordered last month will be delivered to the job site by tomorrow, and that he will have the package open in time so that I can enjoy it on before the end of the weekend. We'll see.
Low Cut Connie, Carolina C. Drops, Battles, etc. - Not sure how to store the physical copies of these "special" cds which don't conform to standard jewel case sizes and therefore either don't fit in a standard cd shelf or are so small that they disappear inside the shelf. Judy Sucks a Lemon was another one that comes to mind. Maybe I'll take the cds out of the package and mount the artwork on the wall. Hmmm....
Picked up the new Husker Du book today. Looks good.
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.