Thursday, June 30, 2005

The most female-sympathetic rap track I've heard all year, a danceworthy number that tries to make strip club enthusiasts realize that women aren't meat but people living complex, stressful, difficult lives (raising kids, going to school "while looking for love," "babydaddy ain't shit"), is by the Ying Yang Twins featuring Adam Levine of Maroon 5.

The Ying Yang Twins featuring Adam Levine of Maroon 5. Adam Levine moaning "ohhh, the life of a stripper..."

If there's any justice in the world we'll see a video for "Live Again."

My 2nd favorite track on the album is either "I need a badd bitch" or "I hate hoes and hoes hate me."
So many albums I haven't heard, more than 20 good albums out in year, mea culpa, that said...The 20 Albums Of 2005 I Haven't Chucked Yet.

1. Mountain Goats, The Sunset Tree
Color me corny, but this is the first album that’s ever made me want to be a better person. It also makes me want to be more diligent about self-editing my work (admittedly, these blurbs show little proof of this). That one of my least favorite tracks (by default) is “Dance Music” keeps me from worrying about whether or not I’ve got some know-the-guy bias (though yeah, it did help me past that initial “ew, TMBG, ew!” reaction to Tallahassee). I don’t like “Small Arms Traffic Blues” much either, who the heck keeps deciding what the ‘hits’ are? My pick is “Love Love Love.” I’ve never been so grateful to see someone risk cliché.

2. Electric Six, Senor Smoke
I’m this close to trying to figure out that bit torrent jive or buying the import. I need to have this on CD! I’ve been playing Fire on my discman for two years - more Electric Six...just out of reach! I've never walked to work listening to "Be My Dark Angel" or "Future Boys" and its an experience I crave. Electric Six are one of the few bands who make me wish I was their merch person (them and the Donnas, I think that's it). "Mr. President, make a little money sending people you don't know to Iraq! Mr. President, I don't like you! You don't know how to rock!" is smarter, funnier and more powerful than any other anti-Bush track I've heard and its just one couplet surrounded by insurgencies, emergencies, ties & pies. Senor Smoke is full of an apocalyptic absurdity the likes of which we haven't heard since 1999. WARNER BROS, MY BLOOD IS BOILING!!! RELEASE THIS ABLUM POST-HASTE.

3. Louis XIV, The Best Little Secrets Are Kept
“I might swipe your identity, take your love and turn it into obscenity.” “Well I'm a portal into blue collar human psychology. I need a fix, I don't need no apology.” “I want all the self conscious girls who try to hide who they are with makeup. You know it’s the girl with a frown with the tight pants I really want to shake up.” “She said ‘you son of a bitch, you little bitch, I ain't gonna show you my love without a hitch’.” “I know I ain't correct, but politics are so much better when there's sex.” “She said ‘oh, come on, boy aren't you tired of talking about sex?’ I said “little girl, what do you really expect?’” “She says ‘head case, head case, turn that thing around. Let's play a game when you hear me make a sound. Just go quite a bit faster, pretend that I'm gagged and bound.” “God save the Kinks.” “If you want clean fun, go fly a kite.”

4. Queens Of The Stone Age, Lullabies To Paralyze
You know what I want to check out sometime? That Buck Dharma solo album. I always thought he had more soul than Eric Bloom, I’d dig hearing an album where he does the vocals on every track. Should be some eccentric genre exercises on there. Anyhow, I don’t really mind the two long dirges on the second half cuz they’re preceded by “In My Head,” “Little Sister” and “I Never Came,” my favorite 1-2-3 on any album I’ve heard this year. And they’re followed by “Skin On Skin,” “Broken Box,” “Killer Scene” and “Long Slow Goodbye” which might be my favorite 1-2-3-4. Or maybe my favorite 1-2-3-4 is “Burn The Witch,” “In My Head,” “Little Sister” and “I Never Came.” Originally I told people this album was more consistent than Deaf but didn’t have any big hits. I’m realizing that’s really not the case, this album’s jam-packed with standards. Blue Oyster Cult’s a pretty awesome band to try and improve on – weirdass badass with pretty hits!

5. Spoon, Gimme Fiction
I love how I feel no desire to think hard about the lyrical content – the voice, melodies and beats are just too pleasurable on a mere (haha, mere) musical level. I realize some people are bummed that the band has focused on groove this time, but I think that’s what they’re good for anyhow. Keep in mind that Crazy Rhythms and Reckoning were my godhead in high school.

6. Fischerspooner, Odyssey
This is what Welcome To The Monkey House would have sounded like if it didn’t suck. I hear these guys are pretentious assholes, but these days its rare a good album makes me want to learn more about the band – interviews introduce intentions and all sorts of jazz that only gets in the way. Therefore, I remain blissfully ignorant of what these guys represent in NY (they wear funny clothes, right?).

7. Kelly Osbourne, Sleeping In The Nothing
Yeah, but you all UNDERrated Shut Up! so now we're even.

8. Emperor X, Central Hug/Friend Army/Fractal Dunes
I don’t know how you can make an energetic, intriguing lo-fi indie album in 2005. Is this guy really trying to one-up Clown Prince Of The Menthol Trailer? Is Up Records back in action? Are they still printing issues of Tape Op? Is Clinton in office? I mean, what the fuck? And how the hell does this sound so fresh? Most people who can write a good song just don’t bother with this sound anymore. If you miss this era, get this album

9. Stephen Malkmus, Face The Truth
This still stands.

10. Eels, Blinking Lights And Other Revelations
He’s said it all before, but he’s never said it so clearly or so humbly. Rather than any of the other standard traumas that usually get the credit for these evolutions, I have to assume its getting dropped by Dreamworks. They kept that guy on payroll for a long time, makes sense he’d feel the urge to get it all out while he still can.

Album I love that qualifies for Pazz'n'Jop 2005 even if the 2004 copywright means I won't include it on this list: The Mind Of Mannie Fresh

Good albums I heard today that also would have made this list a shade less indie: TP3.Reloaded, U.S.A. (The United States Of Atlanta)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The 20 Albums From 2005 I haven't chucked yet!

11. 50 Foot Wave, Golden Ocean
Last year I said that Coral Fang was the loudest album Kristin Hersh never recorded. Well, shut MY mouth. Do people stage dive at 50 Ft. Wave shows with flannel tied around their waist? They really should. I knew Kristin Hersh was a grunge enthusiast (in an old Rolling Stone she and her kid sang along to “Heart Shaped Box” in the car), but good lord, woman! A year ago I missed a chance to see them in Philly (with Trouble Everyday opening!) so I could catch Mission Of Burma. It still freaks me out that I'm moving to a town where you have to decide which Bostonian alt-rock legend you’re gonna see that night. You big city folk are spoiled!

12. Moby, Hotel
Ambient for songform addicts. Another Green Room. The trick is to expect, and want, nothing but comfort.

13. White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan
Sounds like he’s losing it, but they haven’t lost it.

14. Loquat, It’s Yours To Keep
A non-ESL Bettie Serveert with no interest in Rock? A non-celestial Sarah McLachlan? The singer risks clumsy anonymity, the band skirts lite - if these guys were any better they’d be classic and if they were any worse they’d be unlistenable. Crossing my fingers. Recommendation: if you’re going to voice common frustrations about relationships, make sure to keep throwing in a few concrete nouns. Stay human.

15. Martha Wainwright, Martha Wainwright
For my money she’s doing a lot more with those genes.

16. Thunderbirds Are Now, Justamustache
I’m this close to being sick of any treblicious keyb-bleep Les Savy Fav rip-off band, EVEN the jumpy uptempo ones, but for now I’m still cool with the jumpy uptempo.

17. The Ponys, Celebration Castle
Old school with enthusiasm should be the least you can do. That so many do so much less is why I'm not sure if I could commit to this scene full-time. What's with the accents? I can't believe people still do this shtick a decade after Billie Joe got big.

18. The Evens, The Evens
Ian and Amy sitting in a tree, H-A-R-M-O-NI-ZING! With the scene weaker than ever the time is right for a Dischord/Teenbeat hybrid. Twee-an’s melodies and hushed moments should only surprise folks who didn’t check out The Argument or hear Ian’s piano ballad on the Instrument soundtrack. Dude’s become quite the crooner. The Evens have nothing on Minor Threat’s or Fugazi’s debut EPs, but this might beat Embrace.

19. Keren Ann, Nolita
I’m not gonzo about this rise of genteel Canadian bohemianism or whatever (Feist rolls right off me, the Arcade Fire should cover “Life In A Northern Town,” everyone in the New Pornographers shouldn’t be allowed to appear on anything other than soundtracks to ‘smart’ children’s shows, I don’t know or care about the Broken Social Scene), but tracks like “One Day Without” and “Nolita” actually grab me rather than reminding me how detached I feel from the whole Believer/true-blue-state culture.

20. Audible, Sky Signal
My friend Greg is nuts about Matt Pond PA. These ex-members sound like them except the beat's a little harder. Well, I care.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

That other six-foot-plus gawky bespectacled Voice-debutin' rockcritblogger with thinning hair living in central PA is back. Say hi.

I'll be doing my own albums wrap-up sometime this week. There's no overlap with Tweedledee's, but I've only heard Arular from that batch. I'd love to hear the rest, especially Missy. If you want people to be curious about the albums you like, I suggest putting descriptions with your lists. Nudge nudge.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Behold, The Top 50 Singles Of The First Half Of 2005.

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

Food, sex, Ludacris cameos, Talking Heads lifts, acoustic guitar over programmed beats inna Sugar Ray stylee. Life is good, plus its summer, yo. Let's see if my easygoing mood lasts - if I feel underappreciated and frustrated in December it'll be "Mr. Brightside" or some other ultrahooked bombastiwhine the mainstream machine poops out in the next six months.

2. Kelly Clarskon, “Since U Been Gone”

Forget "Maps" and "Obstacle 1," think "Bette Davis Eyes" and "Fame (What A Feelin')." You can totally go back to not giving a shit about Kelly Clarkson and her hazel eyes or whatever, her job is done (sorry, those ballads, just, no). The emo generation's "I Will Survive."

3. Killers “Mr. Brightside”

Brandon, a young mormon who rocks Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits Of The 80s the way Hanson pumped that Time-Life box set, knows he's got the wherewithal to MAKE IT in this industry, he's got the straight edge, he's got the ambition, the eyeliner and he's feeling just fine gotta gotta be down because he wants it all but oh wow that girl who kissed him after the show, well, he's kinda shy in that department, but it looks like his bass player Hansel, who's so hot right now, isn't, and its making him sick and she's touching his chest. NOW. He's getting depressed. NOW. Laymeego...*pause for guitar hook and moment of forlorn meditation as we think about all those people who are doing drugs, having sex and living care-free in a way us nerds will never truly experience* oh man he's starting to get miserable, its taking control, a little more guitar sap and then drums yell WAKE UP, BRANDON and then he realizes that HEY! isn't this wimpy adolescent anguish and seas and lullabies all part of the big beautiful grand NEW WAVE SCHEME, anyway? Having soaked in Cure-iosity since we were toddlers, we see it as beeeyoootiful drama (yay drama)! Why if he can harness these emotions he'll be able to write a big pop hit and become a celebrity and Sophie Muller will help him make vaginas explode as he topples tables in slo-mo (been done, but never before during a game of checkers with Eric Roberts)! He can smack his painted lips and flap his dainty hands like a Robert Smith who aint addicted to sulk cuz he AIN'T addicted to sulk not really cuz he can see the big picture, he's MISTER BRIGHTSIDE even though the innocent young man has never, he's NEVER, he's NEVERRRRR dun! dun! DUNNNN! The emo generation's "I Will Survive."

4. M83, “Don’t Save Us From Flames”

"Schizophrenia" coda, multi-tracked sighs from "What You Want," and probably some 4AD shit I've never heard, maybe some Manheim Steamroller, all flung together in hopes of scoring a few adolescent transcendencies and at least one scene in The OC. Unenlightening hodgepodge, yeah, but it's not like this stuff added up to more than big time drama in the first place.

5. Natalie, “Goin’ Crazy”

COREY: "Dear Diane, I'll always be there for you, all the love in my heart, Lloyd." I've never gotten a letter like this, have you?
DC: I dream about it.
LLOYD: So what do you think? Is it... do you think I'm...
COREY: Get ready for greatness, Lloyd.

6. Queens Of The Stone Age “Little Sister”

Police, "Roxanne" (Homme Remix). I would kill to be him, to be the only woan.

7. Pitbull feat. Lil Jon, “Toma”

Yeah, he acts all love-em-and-leave-em when talking to the dudes, a lot of that going around these days, but when its one-on-one he starts sighing, laughing, encouraging enthusiasm, gasping and, damn, you can tell his passion for sex has nothing to do with impressing his pals. Confident, good-humored, earthily energetic, probably as close to a Bon Scott figure as rap has provided. And in case we forget, "feat. Lil Jon."

8. And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, “Worlds Apart”

Wow, what a simple-minded, overgeneralized wrap-up of the case for nihilism in 2005. Short, too. Thanks!

9. R. Kelly, "Sex In The Kitchen"

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. For one thing, earnest R&B ballads about salad tossing.

10. Keane, “Somewhere Only We Know”

Whenever a mediocre-yet-unique band gets popular, a bunch of hacks spill out of the woodwork to ape the text with songs and sentiments far too obvious and earthbound for the pioneers to bother with. If they've got a solid pop song or two, they'll be noticed by A&R men and shoved in our faces, only to disappear once they've shared that key number. As a fan of solid, earthbound pop songs, it's an aspect of the music industry I've come to depend on.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Stylus US Singles Jukebox returns to its original format with some exceptionally crappy songs. But I digress...

11. Akon, “Lonely”

It almost validates those months when "Through The Wire" and "Slow Jamz" were inescapable. Almost.

12. Avril Lavigne, “Nobody’s Home”

OMG you mean somebody out there has it worse than Avril!?! No way! That sucks! No, seriously.

13. 50 Cent “Just A Lil Bit”

Wait'll you thee my dit, I'm gonna beat that putsy up.

14. Daddy Yankee feat. Lil Jon, Pitbull & NORE “Gasolina (Remix)”

Yes, yes, reggaeton, I'm curious, fine, Pitbull, love the dude, NORE, yay hooray more but, seriously, "feat. Lil Jon" are the magic words.

15. Bowling For Soup, “Almost”

Fountains Of Wayne needs a really fat dude in the band.

16. Usher “Caught Up”

My balls! My poor balls! *twirls*

17. White Stripes, “Blue Orchid”

Best pout ever.

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

Some timecard punches are better than others.

19. The Game feat. 50 Cent “Hate It Or Love It”

Forgiving two criminals' self-gratifying rationalizations in the name of hot beats. At least 50's, anyway.

20. Kelly Osbourne, “One Word”

It's one thing to cover "Sunglasses At Night" at your rock shows after announcing you love the eighties. It's another to become Corey Hart. She's done both.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

21. R. Kelly, “Trapped In The Closet”

Any part, really.

22. Backstreet Boys, “Incomplete”

Evanescence >>> Boyz II Men

23. Crazy Frog, “Axel F”

You know what I love about you English? Crazy Frog. I must have heard that song...twice!

24. Ludacris, “Get Back”

See, its okay that he's beating the shit out of somebody cuz in the last verse he points out he'd rather be picking up drunk women.

25. Queens Of The Stone Age, "In My Head"

"Go With The Flow," "Waiting For The Man," "In My Head," "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" - this quasi-motorik (motorock?) signifies the space between events, the metronomic passing of time, meditation. The effect is easy to attain, just pile your solos and harmonies atop the pulse, but to end this merciless ticking requires tremendous willpower on the part of the band, as they must break from the perfect purgatory and dare to return to the lie of magic moments that warp the clock. One must have the humility to surrender to the lifebeat and the authority to wrestle free.< /reynolds>

26. LCD Soundsystem, “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”

"I Feel Voxish" for dummies.

27. Nivea feat. Lil Jon, “Okay”

I hated Puffy, Dupri and Timbaland's gratuitous on-track interruptions. Thing is, there's no such thing as a gratuitous Lil Jon appearance.

28. My Chemical Romance, “Helena”

Boo fuckin' a(eee)!

29. Low, “Monkey”

Crap, now I gotta go re-assess all those albums I slept through and find out if this is some big evolutionary step forward or not. Why couldn't you guys stay boring, dammit?

30. Interpol, “Evil”

His success at combining ridiculous poetry and 20 years of post-punk evolution in order to pick up art school girls is probably why Paul Banks is bloated and acnefied. Karma's a bitch!