Posts from 2019

8
Jul 19

LAS KETCHUP – “Asereje (The Ketchup Song)”

Popular29 comments • 1,157 views

#938, 19th October 2002

A throwback to simpler times – the European novelty hit that spreads across the continent, sparking the dry tinder of holiday nostalgia, reaching Britain in time for bonfire season. Family act Las Ketchup were recruited by Spanish producer Manuel Ruiz for just this effect, and the project was ludicrously successful – an ongoing career for the Munoz sisters and a debut LP which shifted an eye-popping 12 million copies. Four of its eleven tracks are incarnations of “Asereje”: the days of Boney M, and the dance group as steady hitmaker, are long gone. You only get one shot.

»
More

25
Jun 19

GARETH GATES AND WILL YOUNG – “The Long And Winding Road”

Popular31 comments • 1,648 views

#937, 5th October 2002

Let’s imagine a world – apparently this is a good idea – where the Beatles never existed, and where “The Long And Winding Road” exists only in this form, as a slow ballad duet between the winner and runner-up of a singing competition. I think it would make very little sense – this is a song about the long game of romantic destiny, about the workings of fate leading you to the place where, you realise, exhausted, that you were always heading. It has no business being a duet, unless – a-ha! – the dyad in question isn’t the singer and some welcoming other, but the two singers themselves. Maybe that’s the point: the closure the song is offering is an end to the Pop Idol story, two rivals-turned-partners riding into the sunset.

»
More

13
May 19

PINK – “Just Like A Pill”

Popular21 comments • 2,288 views

#936, 28th September 2002

At the time, I didn’t warm to Pink’s overt rebrand. For one thing, the brusque R&B singer of “You Make Me Sick” already seemed fierce, and fierce in a more interesting way than a pop-rock restyle promised. For another, the heel turn from pop star to pop rejector seemed messy and unfinished – “Get The Party Started” was terrific, but tighter and slicker than any of her R&B hits; “Don’t Let Me Get Me” lurched the other way, a take-it-or-leave-it splat of rejection on top of muffled, churning beats.

»
More

18
Apr 19

Album-A-Day #9: Nothing Of The Thresher

New York London Paris Munich1 comment • 262 views

This is a document of my album-a-day listening project. Each entry originally comes out as a tinyletter and subscribers to that get framing content and non-music miscellanea as well as the LP reviews. When a new letter goes out, the previous letter goes up here.

#56 Ray Charles – Yes Indeed!! (1958)
#57 Adina Howard – Do You Wanna Ride? (1995)
#58 Various Artists – Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental And New Age Music, 1980-1990 (2019)
#59 Solange – When I Get Home (2019)
#60 Julia Kent – Temporal (2019)
#61 Chubby Wolf – Ornitheology (2010)
#62 The Japanese House – Good At Falling (2019)

The remuneration structure of Spotify is opaque in places but the broad outlines are well known – Musicians are paid by the play, and paid by the track. Thirty seconds is the magic number – keep someone’s attention that long and you’ve earned your fraction. This structure incentivises particular behaviours – releases with a lot of short tracks, most obviously. UK Meds

»
More

8
Apr 19

Album-A-Day #8: The Unquiet Groove

New York London Paris Munich7 comments • 289 views

This is a document of my album-a-day listening project. Each entry originally comes out as a tinyletter and subscribers to that get framing content and non-music miscellanea as well as the LP reviews. When a new letter goes out, the previous letter goes up here.

(The letter subsequent to this went out ages ago, sorry – midway through the next instalment already…)

#49 Betty Who – Betty (2019)
#50 Cherry Glazerr – Stuffed & Ready (2019)
#51 Horseface – Jaakautiset (2019)
#52 Dorothy Ashby – The Fantastic Jazz Harp Of Dorothy Ashby (1965)
#53 Kehlani – While We Wait (2019)
#54 Hank Mobley – A Caddy for Daddy (1965)
#55 Teeth Of The Sea – Wraith (2019)

»
More

31
Mar 19

Omargeddon #8: Umbrella Mistress

FTPost a comment • 109 views

Back in the day, I had a very fixed idea of what an Omar Rodriguez-Lopez album should sound like. I was still in recovery from the rockism that had clouded and limited my horizons since I was a teenager, and often struggled to identify what it was I actually liked. Did I like or dislike something because of my perceptions of its genre, or did I like or dislike it because I felt I should or shouldn’t based on other people’s opinions? I really did waste a lot of fucking brainspace worrying about this kind of thing.

But I empirically knew what I liked from ORL, and what I liked was what I wanted and therefore expected – nay, demanded – to hear: lots of very loud, very crunchy guitar steeped in trippy effects. If there were vocals, they should be at least mildly distorted and preferably sung in Spanish, even more preferably sung by Cedric Bixler-Zavala. When I didn’t get what I wanted/expected/demanded, I didn’t like it as much, as when I bought Omar Rodriguez Lopez & John Frusciante all prepped to have my ears blown off and was rather let down when it turned out not to be the dueling guitars freak-out that I had assumed it would be.

Although you can never tell which genre of ORL record you’re going to get based on the cover artwork (particularly Sonny Kay’s busily detailed digital collages), it’s fun to try and cobble a message out of them. When I look at the Umbrella Mistress cover, it seems to suggest a hushed shh, don’t tell anyone Omar done a pop record! Because this is hella pop, and I wonder what my reaction to it would have been a decade ago. Would I have liked it with qualifiers, justifying it by defining it as indie/psychedelic/folk/country/power pop, not pop pop? Or would I have rolled my eyes and waited a couple months for something else? I’ll never know, and besides, the past is a foreign country populated by idiots. Even if I had initially dismissed it, this project would have changed that, because Umbrella Mistress is pure perfection.

»
More

19
Mar 19

Album-A-Day #7: To The Finland Station

New York London Paris Munich1 comment • 416 views

This is a document of my album-a-day listening project. Each entry originally comes out as a tinyletter and subscribers to that get framing content and non-music miscellanea as well as the LP reviews. When a new letter goes out, the previous letter goes up here.

This instalment’s LPs:

#42 Ruusut – Ruusut (2018)
#43 Bbymutha – The Bastard Tape, Vol 1 (2018)
#44 Hama – Houmeissa (2019)
#45 Hauschka – A Different Forest (2019)
#46 Onyx Collective – Lower East Suite Parts 1-3 (2017-8)
#47 Silk Road Assassins – State Of Ruin (2019)
#48 Queen Latifah – All Hail The Queen (1989)

I listen to quite a lot of Finnish music. Why did I start doing this? I couldn’t tell you. I like Finland, certainly, its temperature, its mordancy, its taciturn people, neither overly friendly nor hostile. Perhaps it’s just a Moomin thing. I have come to very much enjoy how the Finnish language – famously knotty to learn – sounds, with all its soft vowels and sibilants. But since I don’t understand any, that might just be habit.

»
More

5
Mar 19

Album-A-Day #6: Twilight Of The Dads

New York London Paris Munich2 comments • 394 views

This is a document of my album-a-day listening project. Each entry originally comes out as a tinyletter and subscribers to that get framing content and non-music miscellanea as well as the LP reviews. When a new letter goes out, the previous letter goes up here.

This instalment’s LPs:

#35 Sylvester – Step II (1979)
#36 Yusef Lateef – Psychicemotus (1966)
#37 James Ingram – It’s Your Night (1983)
#38 Julie London – Julie Is Her Name (1955)
#39 Isao Tomita – Kosmos (1978)
#40 Various Artists – A Day In The Life: Impressions Of Pepper (2018)
#41 Zadig The Jasp – In The Reflect Of The Sky (2018)

»
More

17
Feb 19

Omargeddon #7: Solar Gambling

FTPost a comment • 127 views

Since I started the Omargeddon project, I’ve been paying less overt attention to new music, both new-to-me and newly released material. In fact, my sole contribution to the FT Readers’ Poll was Janelle Monae’s “Pynk”, totally forgetting about the divine “The Way You Make Me Feel” despite nominating Dirty Computer as my album pick. This year, I’m making a concerted effort to be more aware of new tunes and have started a 2019 playlist to help me keep track. For the most part, I’ll be using Spotify’s Release Radar playlist to facilitate this. I usually listen to it at least once a week, and it’s been the source of several new musical discoveries, even more so than the Discover Weekly playlist. Discover Weekly too often labours under the delusion that I want a mix of metal and weedy indie tracks liberally sprinkled with artists I already know about and thus don’t need to discover. That’s not to say Release Radar doesn’t bring up its dud track – apparently since I nostalgically listened to You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby approximately eighteen months ago, it thinks I need a Fatboy Slim remix every single goddamn week. I do wonder how the algorithm susses out what to give me – did I get “Alpha Centauri” by We Are Impala because it’s given me Tame Impala before or because of the At the Drive-In song of the same name? I also had “Bread & Butter” by Horsey, though my feelings about it tend towards “neigh”.

However, I was super chuffed to get Ximena Sariñana’s new single “Lo Bailado”, a cheery tune that injected much-needed warmth into the playlist. It also reminded me that initially I was a bit hesitant about her vocal input to late noughties/early teens Omar Rodriguez-Lopez albums. With the Mars Volta still extant and producing music, I found it difficult at the time not to wonder how Cedric Bixler-Zavala would have sounded in her place.

Solar Gambling is the first Omar Rodriguez-Lopez solo release with Ximena providing lyrics and vocals. It was one of his six albums released in 2009, and at the time, it wasn’t a particular favourite. I didn’t actively dislike it, streaming it from the Rodriguez Lopez Productions website often enough for me to recognise quite a few of the songs when I began listening to it again more earnestly. Up until around this point in his discography, vocals tended to serve as more of a supporting role, and even with the Mars Volta, the music was written first with CBZ composing lyrics and vocal melodies to fit around it. Solar Gambling reverses this trend, with Ximena’s vocals front and centre to the supporting music.

»
More

15
Feb 19

Album-A-Day #5: Tarkus In Black Vinyl, Please

New York London Paris Munich2 comments • 312 views

This is a document of my album-a-day listening project. Each entry originally comes out as a tinyletter and subscribers to that get framing content and non-music miscellanea as well as the LP reviews. When a new letter goes out, the previous letter goes up here.

Here’s what I listened to for this edition:

#28: Deena Abdelwahed – Khonnar (2018)
#29: Trevor Horn – Trevor Horn Reimagines The Eighties (2019)
#30: Drebae – Babyboy (2018)
#31: Shmu – Lead Me To The Glow (2018)
#32: Nadia Struiwigh – WHRRu (2018)
#33: Busted – Half Way There (2019)
#34: Half Man Half Biscuit – No One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin Hedge Cut (2018)

Let’s move through these from the abstract to the definite. One thing these listening projects have taught me is how many excellent female electronic producers there are working now. When I first listened to and read about dance music they were rare, or presented to us as rare. A novelty-hungry algorithm is better at bringing them to light than curators are – same goes for rappers, I suspect.

»
More