Iris DeMent/Carolyn Mark
Iris DeMent: Sing the Delta (Redeye)
From its opening chords, DeMent's own piano rolling beneath nearly every track‑-vernacular church piano, piano you can imagine a church lady playing‑-is the conceptual backbone of her first album of originals in 16 years. After "livin' on the inside too much," books "stacked on my table," she's ambitious intellectually like it or not, and the album has a James Agee quality right down to the unflattering cover photo of the 51-year-old artist. DeMent craves stuff she can "see and touch," but her songwriting makes do just fine with feeling. However thickly she applies her drawl, she left the South at four, and figures out how to correct for that absence by force of artistic will. The laxest concepts drift toward the commonplace, but that's what the piano is celebrating, so you forgive her. The strongest concepts bear down on her parents and their faith, which she loves on their behalf and rejects on her own. "The Night I Learned How Not to Pray" has no piano at all. A MINUS
Carolyn Mark: The Queen of Vancouver Island (Mint)
Mark is known in the Northwest Kingdom as the Boozy Chanteuse and in my house as an also-ran singer-songwriter who made her best album in 2000 as Neko Case's fellow Corn Sister. At about 40 she's on her seventh solo outing since 2000. Not an exciting prospect, and while it's solidly tuneful and cleverly arranged, not exactly an exciting record either‑-which it turns out is thematic for this matter-of-fact bunch of terrific songs. Not bitter, certainly not despairing, defiant and funny in a muted way, it's an album about being in love with Nobody, as in "Nobody('s Perfect)," or "Nobody knows the troubles I've seen/I trust Nobody and Nobody trusts me"‑-which has a companion piece called "Not Talk," as in "Let's not talk about it later." I wouldn't trust her myself. But I note that the song about being a whore is really about marginalization in the music business. Well, one of the songs about being a whore. A MINUS
I would nominate him for the angriest, most bitter performer I've ever interviewed. Seething.
Now, the easy stuff: Carolyn Mark was sounding better than fine at 6:15 this morning EST on spotify. The commercials are annoying, of course...
I'd say the unfortunate primary legacy of of punk's "no" is the Internet comments section (though of course there's some overlap between that and Fox News/Tea Party) (hip hop bears some responsibility as well).
Steve/FK, sorry for not getting back earlier. Can't say the UK punk pool was small for me, I can always think of something I want to hear again and anew - from that Streeets album alone, off the top of my head, "Cranked Up Really High" and the wonderful "isgodaman?" (does he do the horses, is he pissed up on beer ...there he is, over there, at the back of the dole queue, the one in the suit and the South of France tan)
The words on early Roxy are worth going back to, and the intonation and performance were often funny in themselves, such as the instrumental breaks on "Re-Make Re-Model".
Finally, my condolences.
I remember one memorable game where we were in the bleachers and a drunk behind us kept yelling "5 million! 5 Million!" at Darryl Strawberry. By the 5th or 6th inning, Strawberry finally turned around with a huge grin and held up his thumb and forefinger and rubbed them together as if to say "yeah - I make a lot of money - so what?". They guy cheered wildly like he'd made his point. It was lost on everyone else in the stands, but it was amusing anyway.
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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