The Roots/Action Bronson
Improvements on Hip-Hop Materialism
The Roots: Undun (Def Jam)
It speaks well for their strength of mind that Jimmy Fallon hasn't just been good for their economic viability‑-he's been good for their music. But superb though their 2008 and 2010 records were, and admirable though their equipoise has been, concept albums are such sinkholes that the partial success of this reverse-chronological tale of a doomed small-time hood is more surprising than its partial failure. Maybe I could work out plausible meanings for every song like some exegete brushing the cobwebs off "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands." But all song cycles have holes in them, and really, just exactly what level of sagacity do we expect from Black Thought‑-or Bob Dylan, for that matter? What I get from Black Thought, as usual, is flashes of insight and articulated feeling. The sharpest verse here is Dice Raw's on "One Time," which along with "The Otherside" is the closest the song cycle comes to a stand-alone song. So what I get from the album as a whole isn't a feel for the fictional Redford Stephens. It's the pop refrains, Euro orchestrations, and simplified drumming absorbed by a sound that shows no sign of standing pat. B PLUS
Action Bronson: Dr. Lecter (Fine Fabric Delegates)
So much more consumable than Jacob or Hublot, the food Bronson fixates on never gets fancier than heirloom tomatoes or seared Ahi tuna‑-no cross-hatched merganser breast with lychee infusion and truffle garnis for this fat guy. With crucial propulsion and more crucial fun from no-name Tommy Mas's unfashionably sampled, unfashionably funky beats, his gluttony humanizes hip-hop materialism at an economically accessible level. If only he didn't treat women as meat like thousands of hip-hop hungries before him, I might even play it for my favorite cook at dinnertime. Instead, the follow-up Well Done trades in his homie Tommy on the more renowned and predictable Statik Selektah as it seeks revenge for the bad romance the fat guy had coming. B PLUS
Xgau has three Consumer Guide collections, encompassing all (most?) of the capsule reviews from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, along with two published collections of longer journalism - Any Old Way You Choose It and the more recent Grown Up All Wrong. And, of course, his great website, organized by Tom Hull.
Xgau, I was wondering here if do you have a sort of book or something which comprise all the reviews you did over the years? Or if your intend to release something like this in the future?
"Here's an especially good piece."
Monica Herrera's year end summary from Billboard of 2010 Pop seems to be fact based, with interesting conclusions. I don't listen to enough of that kind of music to know if they (the conclusions) still hold true. To this amateur they seem slightly dated.
Vijay Iyer's piece on Monk is more than especially good. The four paragraphs that start with these lines, "These chord-jewels of his were palpable, physical objects. By this I mean that they took advantage of the physics of sound" are astounding. The paragraph that precedes that line is astute musical psychology.
15 down, 97 to go.
Let it be said, by the way, that I've never avoided Rodgers and Whoever or Frank Loesser or Cole Porter that way. There's an extra level of pretension in Sondheim, not to mention cultural resistance.
what on earth is "bosh" and how do I know I am hearing it?Bosh (as a noun) is music that goes "BOSH BOSH BOSH BOSH" (except when it goes "bosh BOSH bosh BOSH") that would sound pretty much like ordinary pop if it weren't for all the boshing. Example: dance mixes of "Someone Like You".
but I have fallen unexpectedly hard for the new Broadway cast recording of Sondheim's "Follies", released a few weeks ago
"Follies" is the greatest musical ever written.
Michelangelo Matos has tracked down 112 of the 127 runner-up entries from Best Music Writing 2011. In case you wanted more music writing.Thanks Tom. It will take a while to get through them all of course, but so far the Aquemeni, Dessa and Beefheart features are more than worth the effort. Can't say that I agree with Lenny Kaye on Pacific Ocean Blue, but if you click backwards through his 191 other reviews you can learn what he thinks about every Beach Boys album, every Who album, every Led Zeppelin album, much of the Stones catalogue, Hendrix, Janis, Waylon Jennings, The Fugs, Roy Orbison, The Seeds (this from the original Nuggets curator), Mel Torme, Bing Crosby, Les Paul and Mary Ford and tons of other stuff. He always was kind of a bland critic, and many of these suffer from overly poetic writing. Interesting nonetheless given the source.
Too many Chris Brown features? That would imply that anyone, anywhere threw him on a verse
When musicians think about featuring Chris Brown, I just wish that maybe they'd think about what they're saying by actually putting him on record.
Joey -- i agree 100%. neither of those 2 tracks he's on are any good, imo. because of his history, his contributions actually degrades them, i think. now, make an "Ignition -- Remix" and i might be inclined to want to listen.
so T-Pain's new album is disappointing. for starters, there's too many Chris Brown features, not enough Chopped N Skrewed. some highpoints though:
- Turn All the Lights On -- "fukc that place, fukc my boss." Dr. Luke co-produced, and boy it shows. sounds like some sort of Till the World Ends/Blow/Hold it Against Me cross-breeding
- 5 O'Clock -- T-Pizzle clubs, then does Lily Allen
- Default Picture -- craving real connections
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.
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