Thursday, July 20, 2006

I can't be bothered to make a half-year top 50 singles list and my 20 albums are constantly in flux, so allow me to piggyback onto Matos' half-year mix meme.

If I Wanted To See Clerks II, I'd Look In A Mirror:
Jan-June 2006 CD-R

Mudhoney "Where Is The Future?" (5:38)
Eagles Of Death Metal "Shasta Beast" (2:28)
LL Cool J feat. Jennifer Lopez "Control Myself" (3:54)
E-40 feat. Keak Da Sneak "Tell Me When To Go" (4:03)
Tiga "Far From Home" (2:42)
Grandaddy "Elevate Myself" (3:41)
Ne-Yo "When You're Mad" (3:43)
H.I.M. "Wings Of A Butterfly" (3:30)
The Spores "(Don't) Kill Yourself" (3:36)
Blue October "Hate Me" (4:00)
Phoenix "Long Distance Call" (3:04)
Pussycat Dolls "Buttons" (3:45)
Be Your Own Pet "Wildcat!" (1:24)
Field Mob "At The Park" (3:40)
Tre 380 "Hokey Pokey" (4:36)
Juvenile feat. Lil Jon "Why Not" (2:45)
Gnarls Barkley "Crazy" (3:01)
Camera Obscura "Dory Previn" (4:16)
Eef Barzelay "N.M.A." (3:28)
Rainer Maria "Clear And True" (2:42)
Ghostface Killah "Underwater" (2:03)
K.T. Tunstall "Black Horse & The Cherry Tree" (2:51)
Black Eyed Peas "Pump It" (3:36)

They showed us a filmreel in 4th grade where skyscrapers blasted into space once Earth became inhospitable. Mudhoney and their horn section must have seen that one too, cuz they miss '60s futurism bad. Eagles Of Death Metal settle for earthly pleasures (falsetto, hitting on girls who still live with their parents, gregarious facial hair), which explains why their retro-clomp's a little more sprightly. LL's retro-clap revisits his "Goin' Back To Cali" vocal pacing with a self-parodying relish I won't begrudge (I've heard the rest of the album), and its highly possible the closing chant of "zun-zun-zun-zun-zun"s is a reference to a song I don't know (kudos if its a genuine original improv, though). E-40, whose KRS delivery - good way to convey authority without dropping energy - is refreshing, shares Bay Area street lingo for the first two thirds of his album, before repeatedly declaring that he doesn't love the many women who blow him. "Tell Me When To Go" is from the first third.

Tiga makes wry synth-pop covers of hipster memories (Public Enemy, Talking Heads), but "Far From Home" is an original collaboration with Soulwax that just sounds like one. Grandaddy's Jason Lyle makes wry synth-pop about how tired he is of making wry synth-pop, which may make Just Like The Fambly Cat his best album as long as its his last. Ne-Yo wrote a valentine about his addiction to angry sex, but satanic metal sexors H.I.M. won't settle for less than butterfly mutilation and your soul, while The Spores just want you to (not) kill yourself in their (not) fucked-up rewrite of "Since U Been Gone."

It wouldn't be a year in pop music if we didn't have a self-loathing power ballad, and Blue October opens "Hate Me" with an answering machine message from the singer's late mother, followed by an outpouring of gratitude and regret over the unconditional love he received while battling addiction, realizing the sacrifices she made for him; a three-hanky classic. The problem with the Strokes is they're not French enough, so God invented Phoenix. I haven't heard that new Beyonce single, but "Buttons" is "Naughty Girl" warmed over or heated up, depending on your perspective. Be Your Own Pet is like Love Is All in the sense that they've got enough energy and hook to make me dig their noisy tumbles when I'm in the mood to put up with inherently inchoate indie, but BYOP songs are shorter. Field Mob rewrite "Sugar (Gimme Some)" to further praise Georgia peaches, but their verse about food ("Got a plate of macaroni pork and beans and ribs/Two pieces of light bread/Kool-aid to sip") isn't metaphorical (I pray). The level of wit in Tre 380's rewrite of "Hokey Pokey" is well below metaphors, unless you count "lookin' for dat Monica Lewinsky."

Juvenile is one of a dozen plus competent rappers who are going gold (sometimes platinum) by describing their ability to stay the course, make money while staying true to the streets, and continue hustling (imagine Too Short as Ian MacKaye). I could have put T.I. on, but I thought King was disqualified by going multiplatinum (turns out it hasn't). Two-thirds of a classic soul song is three quarters more than we're used to, so thanks, Cee-Lo (fuck Dangermouse and his tepid, overrated, slapdash, two-decent-hooks-per-album career, though). Camera Obscura aint Belle & Sebastian's sidekicks no more - only the woman sings now and the band's beefed up the lush, giving her warm-blooded, literary ballads the backdrop they deserve. I have to find out if Eef Barzelay's band Clem Snide is worth a shit; his songs on Bitter Honey, less whimsical than John Prine's ("N.M.A." stands for "Nothing Means Anything") but not due to increased intelligence so much as generational temperment, hold up fine in skeletal solo arrangements.

Rainer Maria, who actually broke up without anyone noticing, came back with their hookiest album to date (guess what? only the woman sings now!), but nobody gave a shit because their old fanbase has graduated and didn't stay bright, burning, clear and true. Ghostface made another great Ghostface album this year, but my favorite track is the one where he turns into Prince Be. I liked the Sophie Muller video for "Black Horse & The Cherry Tree," but it wasn't until I saw KT's loop-happy one-woman band shtick on Leno that it got its hooks in (probably helped that she was following Ann Coulter). "Pump It" was in Best Buy ads in 2005, but the video didn't come out till December and I didn't revel in its inclusive glee (they're so good at that!) until February. "Pump It" is currently my Favorite Single Of 2006, which would seem to imply that nothing I've heard that actually dropped in the first six months of 2006 sounds better than the Black Eyed Peas doing the wop over "Misirlou."


Leila said...

Clem Snide is not, in fact, worth a shit.

Ian said...

Neither is that Blue October song, dead mom notwithstanding.

Anthony Miccio said...

will I forever be alone in holding a candle for the vulnerable, tattooed nu-balladeers?

I've only heard two Clem Snide albums (Your Favorite Music and The Ghost Of Fashion), neither of which grabbed me at the time. I do want to hear their last one, though.