Posts from May 2002

23
May 02

Eminem – “Without Me”

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Eminem – “Without Me”

When I first started paying attention to music, it was music on the radio – the top 40 – that I payed attention to. There were lots of things I didn’t like, but that was immaterial given that I was more or less guaranteed to hear songs I had been dying to hear. Guaranteed, because that’s how pop radio works. And dying to hear, because that’s how pop radio works. You know your song’s going to come up, but not exactly when, so hearing it becomes that much sweeter.


I forgot about that thrill somewhere along the way. I can think of some similarities. There’s always some kind of kick in hearing a favorite song on the classic rock station, or a modern rock one, or even the oldies station. There’s also that someone-else-out-there-knows-about-this feeling that comes from hearing something “obscure” (maybe even without the scare quotes) on college radio. But it’s never the same.


On classic rock and oldies stations, the endless repetition of the same 500 records they always (and only) play kills most of the surprise. There are also really no new records, so it can never be something you get caught up in – and no reason for them to suddenly be interested in playing that one song a whole bunch for a few weeks, so that you can expect to hear it again in an hour or two at most.


Modern rock (“alternative”) stations only get halfway there, because they’ve always got one foot in the present and one in the past. The pervasive sense of the new of pop radio is diluted by the inclusion of “classic” tracks that are anywhere from six months to ten years old (or more!). Everything is thrown off. The shiny new songs compete with ones already piled over with dust, and the dust gets everywhere.


Never trust anyone who talks to you about how such and such is the sort of thing that we should be hearing on the radio, instead of this pop crap. Chances are they want a classic rock station that sounds like what they listened to in college, or high school. They may not even remember what it’s like to sit by the radio, hoping for that feeling to hit again.

Freezing to Death in the Nuclear Bunker

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Freezing to Death in the Nuclear Bunker is Jody Beth Rosen’s “rockblog” which for once in my life I stumbled upon not because it links to me! (I followed a link on rockcritics.com’s Top Fives). And as she says herself, she took apart the Lanier piece too, and with more aplomb and effort than I could muster. Go there (the Lanier bit’s in the archives).

Xinlisupreme – “All You Need Is Love Was Not True” b/w “Kyoro/CLose”

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Xinlisupreme – “All You Need Is Love Was Not True” b/w “Kyoro/CLose”
I can offer nothing rational (haha, not like last night, eh Jess?) on this slab of oddly fey brutality, because like most things which drown good intentions in a hellafied noise racket it makes every attempt to thwart over-intellectualization. Xinlisupreme are a Japanese band (which provides lazy critics the requisite Merzbow get out of jail free card) which takes the basic Mary Chain blueprint (the Ronettes sucked into a turbine) and explodes it outward with impossibly massed feedback, oddly pretty melodies and queerly pitched vocals. It’s also got MBV’s quavery sonic sweeps, and early Husker Du’s way of tossing a bit of the old pastoral into their amphetamine rave ups. Less an expansion of the ‘tradition’ than just ‘more.’

It’s a good record, maybe even my favorite of the year so far, if only becaue it’s the first to really make me examine my own listening habits. If the forums were working at the moment, I’d link to an argument had this January – instigated by Tom – about fucking about with ‘real’ pop music (for a rather coarse paraphrase) and why this (which is ostensibly indies entire modus operandi) is necessarily as good as (or better than) the real thing. My line then — and it remains about the same today — was why can’t this (be it odd time signatures, queered structures, feedback as melody… whatever) be pop too? (As I remembered the conversation stalled somewhat after that. Or maybe I just stopped paying attention.) It’s a bit of a cop out, however, as it doesn’t explain (to me) why I’m often more inclined to listen to something which marries noise and pop rather than just a. noise or b. pop.

Tom’s Top Ten!

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Tom’s Top Ten!

UNKNOWN – “Lisa’s Got Hives”
SONS OF THE PIONEERS – “Old Man Atom”
CUTTY RANKS – “Wake Da Man”
THE BAND – “Whispering Pines”
WYCLEF JEAN – “Gone Til November”
EMINEM – “Square Dance”
THE PRIMITIVES – “Crash”
ANUPAMA – “Yeh Raat”
MISS KITTIN – “Frank Sinatra”
TENOR SAW – “Ring The Alarm”

Self Indulgent? Never…

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Self Indulgent? Never… Moderately amusing review of last night’s Manitoba / Four Tet date at Edinburgh’s Belle Angele venue. Notable mostly for classic local paper take on contemporary electronic music, complete with awful puns (“Chill-out pair show they are switched on”); gratuitous historical reductionism (“A while back clubbers realised they needed music to come down to”); and absurd platitudes wrapped in awkward grammatical contortions (“Snaith knows the way to a dance crowd’s heart is through its feet, and was more than willing to provide beats aplenty”[BEATS APLENTY???]). But as so often, the no-bollocks approach cuts to the heart of the matter: “Too often, though, Hebden allowed self-indulgence to creep into his set, frequently deliberately making songs and rhythms implode on themselves”. ’nuff said.

Where did the music go?

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Where did the music go?: you’ll probably all have seen this Jaron Lanier essay, if you’ve been browsing the sidebar links here – it’s been talked about in Michaelangelo Matos’ and Nate Patrin’s blogs and probably several others. It’s mostly nonsense, and the reason it’s nonsense isn’t the aesthetics of the writer. It’s the same problem we saw in the Andy Gill article Alex linked to, in a more extreme form – a critic assuming that if there was anything interesting happening, well, they’d surely know about it. So for instance Lanier mourns the collapse of Napster and wonders if that was ‘our’ generation’s best missed chance to create a new pop economy – but Napster was the first and most prominent in a line of file-sharing applications, not a unique entity. If Lanier knows this, he doesn’t care because it spoils his doom-saying argument. This essay will be published in a book edited by DJ Spooky: oh dear.

Who’d have thought it.

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Who’d have thought it. My standard test for detecting top-notch music writing, and I’m sure it’s a common one, is whether or not it makes me want to hear the record under discussion. In this piece for Village Voice by Frank Kogan my test meets its match. It’s a great piece of writing on Celine Dion, because it takes her work absolutely seriously: as I’m sure does she; and those who listen to and love her work in large numbers; but as very few people who write about pop can bring themselves to. Yet it still doesn’t make me want to listen to anything by her ever again… But then, I’m not going to get that choice, and nor are you. Her records will continue to be played whether you or I like them or not. And after reading Frank’s essay, perhaps when you or I do next hear the Sealion sing, we’ll actually listen.

radiohead

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radiohead can just…eat a dick. should that go on nylpm?

blah blah

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blah blah ashanti blah blah another friggin ja rule single blah blah mary j blah blah anonymous neptunes thug single blah blah nelly blah blah EMINEM then more crap.

“You can use this space to talk about how the Big Tymers are back…ha ha, just kidding…Big Tymers aren’t back!”

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“You can use this space to talk about how the Big Tymers are back…ha ha, just kidding…Big Tymers aren’t back!” Aggressively mediocre records like Project English and Hood Rich don’t help. (But is it true the latter debuted at #1?!) It’s kind of a shame though because I miss Mannie Fresh (the producer…as a rapper he sounds like he’d get his a$$ handed to him by JJ Fad) in the charts, especially with the wooden thump into auto-cannibalizm the Neptunes have taken. It’s weird to think Juvenile’s rise and fall as the “new thing” was only two or three years ago: that voice like wet corn bread sluiced through gold teeth and Fresh’s ridiculously archaic (yet undeniably of-the-moment) 808-symphonies.