Saturday, December 31, 2005

Solid Gold Hits for the Voice.

I would like to take a moment and mourn my copy of Turn On The Bright Lights, which may still be in that greyhound bus toilet along with my discman. Don't put big things in hoodie pockets, people! Not when you're 6'4" and have to reach a low lever! I'm actually glad that TOBTL was the disc that was lost - there's no album I've listened to more over the last three years, so there's no hesitancy about reacquiring it. It's not my favorite album of the decade, not by a long shot, but I'm sure hooked on that "luxurious cynicism" (bless you, xgau). Not to mention the drone strums.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas is going to come a day late for me (unless double pay at work counts as a gift), but not for you: I've got another crazy-ass slow jam for your perusal, this one up in the Tofu Hut. It's not every year you're given circumstantial evidence that Too Short wishes he was a woman, so be of good cheer.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Have yourself a very sexy Christmas...with H-Town.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Some reviews I've written recently:
R. Kelly, Lindsay Lohan, Franz Ferdinand and a handful of singles.

Some honorable mentions, 2005 albums-wise:
A-Frames, Black Forest
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Worlds Apart
Annie, Anniemal
David Banner, Certified
Bright Eyes, Digital Ash In A Digital Urn
Fischerspooner, Odyssey
Franz Ferdinand, You Could Have It So Much Better
Mike Jones, Who Is Mike Jones?
Ben Lee, Awake Is The New Sleep
Lindsay Lohan, A Little More Personal (Raw)
Loquat, It's Yours To Keep
Supersystem, Always Never Again
Armand Van Helden, Nympho
Martha Wainwright, Martha Wainwright
White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan

An album that may have belonged in that top 20 more than Mr. Cent:
Isolee, WeAreMonster

Album from the past that made the biggest impression on me this year:
Television, Adventure

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

MIA Will Change Your War

What gets MIA's home-made version of Missy Elliott's life-affirming dance-floor-scattering sex-funk gibberish over is the conceit that it's a vision of the tribalized world where, say, Islamic fundamentalists hear one of her jams on the radio and decide to forget all this jihadist hoo-ha and get booty loose.

Charles Aaron, Spin

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The 20 Albums From 2005 I Still Have In Their Entirety!

1. The Mountain Goats, The Sunset Tree

Download: "Love, Love, Love"
There are few things I like to think less about than my adolescence, and as such I tend to avoid any tv show or movie that deals with that stage in life. But what makes The Sunset Tree such a remarkable memoir is how it utilizes the distance of perspective while holding on to what makes the period beautiful and worth remembering. While my own youth was free of abuse, everyone at that age is imprisoned by dependence and bursting with emotion, something this album captures without reveling in Breakfast Club self-pity and naivete. The music is equally devoted to an emotionally expressive minimalism free of egotistic indulgence. This may be the MGs' "emo" album by default, but compared to the mountains of product that cater to the kind of person The Sunset Tree describes, this is an honestly affectionate masterpiece.

2. Electric Six, Senor Smoke

Download: "Rock'n'Roll Evacuation"
Folks who cry for 'relevant' music that acknowledges our socio-political climate need look no further than "Rock'n'Roll Evacuation," whose apocalyptic insanity was as startling & potent as any other 4 musical minutes in 2005 - even before the titular chorus was given an even more horrifying resonance in late August. Electric Six's giggly glut of sex, death and dance-metal resembles the mix of nightmare and inclusiveness wraught by the New York Dolls, who probably seemed silly and negligible to many in their time too. The album won't be released stateside until February '06, a year after its British release, but I've played it so often this year - first as four MP3s from a blog, then from a NME realmedia stream before scoring a CD-R from a more net-savvy friend - that I couldn't pretend to associate it with any other.

Friday, December 16, 2005

3. Louis XIV, The Best Little Secrets Are Kept

Download: "Pledge Of Allegiance"
Yeah, they're cads who make bad first impressions - fall guys for crits who want to reaffirm their feminism after praising less retro pussybeaters (though only for their man-to-man boasts and Horatio Alger crack tales, obv) - but if you're a fan of "Rebel Rebel"/"Jeepster" you'll find a higher ratio of it here than in any other attept at Velvet Goldmine-hood. I wish they incorporated the amiability of Bowie's "Kooks," but the album details their sexual politics with such self-awareness and winking humor that I refuse to let some cheesy videos get in the way of my appreciation. So consistently sharp, it's my favorite glam album after Here Comes The Warm Jets.

4. Spoon, Gimme Fiction

Download: "They Never Got You"
Robert Christgau: "I wish this was still a world where the right guitar noise and a heaping helping of hooks were sustenance enough." I think he's just pissed he overrated Kill The Moonlight, but who knows? Spoon's placement on this list may reaffirm how privileged my ass is. Or maybe just how much I love Doolittle and Reckoning.

5. Robyn, Robyn

Download: "Should Have Known"
I'd feel ridiculous for having some European crit-circle ZIP-file obscure nonsense on my list (there ain't even an Allmusic pic!) if I wasn't sure that, with a major-label American promotion budget, she could sell at least as much as Donna "I Love You Always Forever" Lewis. With her sense of craft and un-euro, un-genteel lyrical projection, she deserves to.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

6. Queens Of The Stone Age, Lullabies To Paralyze

Download: "Broken Box"
Michael Daddino on "Broken Box": "What kind of guy mumbles 'I love you, man' right before he says 'THAT'S ONE THING YOU CAN FOR-FUCKING-GET' and then seals his kiss-off with a dance in the rain? (Yeah, that'll show 'em.) A guy who sings in falsetto. A guy who wears black nail polish. A guy who does the T. Rex stomp. His mixed signals are so sexy." Aside from two slogs in the middle, I'd say this goes for the whole album.

7. Brakes, Give Blood

Download: "Heard About Your Band"
In the 60s, many artists filled out their b-sides with goofy filler and covers of subcultural touchstones, wrapping things up in under 45 minutes. The second half of Give Blood proves through example that indie bands should bring this practice back. I wish more albums were this slight.

8. R. Kelly, TP3.Reloaded

Download: "Sex Weed"
An "F" for genuinely successful seduction, perhaps, but this is the most ridiculously and consistently entertaining Kelly full-length to date. And were people having sex to "It Seems Like You're Ready" either?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

9. The Darkness, One Way Ticket To Hell And Back

Download: "Girlfriend"
Irrelevant factoid I left out of my upcoming review: hiring Roy Thomas Baker to flesh out your sound on the terrific but commercially unsuccessful follow-up to your US breakthrough is totally what Local H did with Pack Up The Cats.

10. Kelly Osbourne, Sleeping In The Nothing

Download: "Suburbia"
Less affecting and unified than Shut Up!, but this still has more charisma and hooks than any of her more successful celebrity-first musical peers. If her stylistic left-turns continue, she'll rip off Lady Sovereign in 2008 and score her first US gold record with "Grimin'! (feat. Crazy Frog)"

11. Beastie Boys, Solid Gold Hits

Download: Oh, please.
In a world glutted with filler-loaded, near-worthless best-ofs, only one group successfully managed to hide their true batting average. In a world where people are high enough to revere Check Your Head, this may go unappreciated.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

12. Missy Elliott, The Cookbook

Download: "We Run This"
I must confess: This Is Not A Test! is the first Missy album I ever bought. While I can't speak about her earlier full-lengths, which I'll get around to hearing once I borrow them from my housemate, I know I liked that one and like this one even more. I hope she can keep the same ol' same ol' fresh long enough to merit a Star Time, and I have a hard time imagining anyone else who could.

13. Turbonegro, Party Animals

Download: "City Of Satan"
It's funny that they had Keith Morris sing on an original track named "Wasted Again," but you don't have to know shit about Black Flag to enjoy it. My third (maybe fourth or fifth depending on how Eddyesque your definition is) favorite pop-metal album of the year, a fact that makes me incredibly happy.

14. Pitbull, Money Is STILL A Major Issue

Download: "Oh No He Didn't (feat. Cubo)"
A month or so ago, I made a "Featuring Ludacris" CD-R for some friends, sharing some of my favorite guest spots of his, from "Stop Trippin'" to "Oh." The licensing must be a chore, but I'm glad to see they're making these remix/collabo comps for real. I've never tired of his hits and the new tracks have me excited for El Mariel, out in '06. Pitbull is a busy man.

Monday, December 12, 2005

15. Stephen Malkmus, Face The Truth

Download: "Freeze The Saints"
Our Robyn Hitchcock is better than Britain's, and Stephen's rhythm section is better than Pavement's - which really matters when he wants to play slow. It's great to see an alt-icon from my youth age gracefully without being boring.

16. Trina, The Glamorest Life

Download: "Da Club (feat. Mannie Fresh)"
I wish there weren't so many guest rappers, but this album is still Trina's and still refreshing. Attempted by lesser rappers, Trina's archetype could be pretty foul, but she straddles (ahem) her contradictions with skill. I'm sharing "Da Club" in honor of 2004's The Mind Of Mannie Fresh, which is totally making my pazz'n'jop ballot.

17. Moby, Hotel

Download: "Slipping Away"
A vision of MOR I can totally get behind, merging contradictory impulses of robotic placidity and earnest emotion, new wave and new age. Showy artistry would only get in the way. Oh my god, maybe he is a visionary! Just not the one his fans wanted (good thing I wasn't one).

Sunday, December 11, 2005

18. Audible, Audible

Download: "Sunday Bell"
Pleasant murmurs and domesticized distortion? It's crisper than Matt Pond PA and most of their Intelligent Adult Contemporary ilk, but it looks like I'm still an indie kid after all. Philly represent!

19. Caesars, Paper Tigers

Download: "It's Not The Fall That Hurts"
When I first heard these guys on the radio I thought they were British assholes ripping off Smashmouth. Turns out they're from Sweden and that "Jerk It Out" has been on their last three albums! The reason the gloppy, echoey production never drowns the songs is that, unlike a lot of Elephant 6, they've got melody and energy worthy of '60s Ray Davies. Like a lot of Elephant 6, I couldn't care less what they're singing about.

20. 50 Cent, The Massacre

Download: "Gunz Come Out"
I wonder if the reason 50 Cent got less love from my fellow blogger-crit tpyes than most criminals is that he's singing all the time. It's funny, because that's why I love it so much. Rapping that flirts with melody, melody that flirts with rapping - I like it when the line blurs. I also like when hooks and gregariousness distract me from the uninspired amorality. I'm surprised others prefer dollops of emo - or like to take it straight.

Friday, December 09, 2005

50 Singles That Helped Make 2005...Magical!

1. Trick Daddy feat. Cee-Lo & Ludacris, "Sugar"

From a Seinfeld press release: "Everyone's looking for good sex, good food, and a good laugh," Jerry asserts. "They're little islands of relief in what's often a painful existence."

2. Kelly Clarkson, "Since U Been Gone"

OMG you want text too? Another sentence about this damn song? Alright, fine: if I was God, Interpol would have covered this instead of Ted Leo. The musical arrangement was at least half of the appeal. Satisfied?

3. Killers, "Mr. Brightside"

It's possible that I wouldn't love this song as much as I do if not for the video. I didn't even mention the track when I reviewed the album. But seriously, whatevs.

4. M83, "Don't Save Us From Flames"

NOW That's What I Call Indie Bombast!

5. Natalie, "Goin' Crazy"

I like to think of Lil Jon slowdancing to this.

6. Queens Of The Stone Age, "Little Sister"

The Police, "Roxanne (Homme Remix)." Tighter than his duckass hair.

7. Pitbull feat. Lil Jon, "Toma"

"heh well if i found a crazed latin rapper talking about asses over a cut up of tone loc's 'wild thing' you'd be the first to know" - Jess Harvell

8. Robyn, "Be Mine!"

At first, I couldn't believe I was enjoying europop. Then I found out she was from Sweden. That there's precedent for.

9. R. Kelly, "In The Kitchen"

Thanks to Trapped-mania, this song is in danger of being forgotten. I refuse to let that happen.

10. Rilo Kiley, "Portions For Foxes"

The baroque bridge that gives the song its title helps explain why they haven't crossed over, despite re-selling their soul to Warners. The rest of the track (and the success of Fall Out Boy) makes that seem like a crime.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

11. Keane, "Somewhere Only We Know"

The interview I caught makes me pray that they never have another hit ("our fans sense our honesty..." charming!), but in a year loaded with cooing British toolbars, this one actually got to me. Maybe it was because none of the others copped to need or sounded willing to offer fidelity. Maybe it was because the singer shaved.

12. Akon, "Lonely"

Color me sappy, but by the end of the third verse I don't even remember how ridiculous the sample is.

13. Usher, "Caught Up"

A dizzy tribute to Michael Jackson's Bad featuring the Pips and some of the funniest maneater lyrics ever penned. We can debate whether he's using his powers for good, but he's definitely using them.

14. Avril Lavigne, "Nobody's Home"

Just when I couldn't take another unsympathetic tale of being failed by life, Lavigne finally suggests somebody on the planet may have it worse than her. The crazy thing is how assured and natural it sounds. Maybe she's tired of complaining too.

15. Rob Thomas, "This Is How A Heart Breaks"

Starts with tribal drums and piano before guitars explode, synths stab and Rob throbs. We get a drum'n'bass interlude, a searingly compressed solo, and Rob having a gospel showdown with his back-up singers. An MOR horror-show more flamboyant than anything on Guero and just as eclectic. This dude is a trip.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

16. 50 Cent, "Just A Lil Bit"

I'm always going to prefer "I'm The Type Of Guy"-ish Dionysian piffle over CEOs getting money the ski mask way. It was "Hate It Or Love It" that made me choose the latter re: the inescapable lug, but this was the hit that most rewarded my affection - for one thing, the goddamn Game wasn't on it.

17. Bowling For Soup, "Almost"

There are critics who like Fountains Of Wayne and Blink-182 but give no love to Bowling For Soup. If I had more respect for my peers, this wouldn't make sense.

18. LCD Soundsystem, "Tribulations"

"Daft Punk" was about having it and the others singles claimed there was nothing worth getting. "Tribulations" was about wanting, hence it was the only one that opened more doors than it closed.

19. Fat Joe feat. Nelly, "Get It Poppin'"

Joe's got a hot beat and wants to see just how much naughtiness it will let him get away with. That self-aware glee makes this hard to resist, especially when it comes from a dude with flow who looks like a little McNugget on top of a big one.

20. White Stripes, "Blue Orchid"

If this pouty ptoui is about Renee Zellweger then I'm laughing even harder.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

21. Black Eyed Peas, "My Humps"

Stupid, shameless, stunning. If Best Buy ads have kept you from appreciating it, stop watching so much TV.

22. R. Kelly feat. The Game, "Playa's Only"

Blame Scott Storch burnout or "Trapped" for the lack of attention this received, but Kells slides and strides around the beat pro-like, and I'll put up with the Game for "throw the pussy like Elway."

23. Franz Ferdinand, "Do You Want To?"

Sums up their aesthetic so sharply that the rest of the album feels like one long b-side.

24. Daddy Yankee feat. Lil Jon, NORE & Pitbull, "Gasolina (Remix)"

I'm not sure I need Lil Jon to make reggaeton work for me, but he certainly helps.

25. Kelly Osbourne, "One Word"

More 80s than the 80s.