SOCA Gold 2003

I’ve been in a record-buying drought, I think it’s been about six months. I was never a routine music buyer anyway, someone for whom the new “Weird War” was to be gotten with the day’s shopping, like milk. But even for me six months was a long time. I decided to end my accidental fast with a visit to Beat Street, where I would be guaranteed to find about 30 things that simply couldn’t wait for me to take them home and caress them. And the records are good there too! Ha hoo! Actually that joke doesn’t even work because the only woman who works there as far as I know is the asian girl at the back DJ booth, next to the reggae room, and despite the crusted layers of glitter around her eyes and superficially girly demeanor she’s as tough as nails; if you caressed her you’d cut your finger.

Anyhow on the advice of Tom and, well, mainly Tom, I picked up “Soca Gold 2003.” Soca is basically the newest Caribbean pop, mixing West Indies styles (like reggae and dancehall) with Latin and Brazilian styles. I wish I could say that my love of music has been re-energized and etc. but I’m finding it mainly unbearable. The vocals and tempo of many songs are pitched so high they sound as if they’re playing at the wrong speed. The only cut that really slices through the helium cheer is “By The Bar,” a rolling and minimal dancehall-ish track by 3 Suns (originally Treason), but it’s atypical of the main Soca sound, which is like “Doin It California Style” at double-time with more synths. I’m sure that it’s possible to “get into” it—whole islands go crazy for the stuff, and let’s face it, the human organism can get used to anything—but just about the only thing worse I can think of is something called Spanish kazoo hardcore (you don’t want to know). I can already hear the Soca-headz now saying I have to find the good tracks, but that’s why I got the compilation. If this is the cream it’s gone off a bit. (Solution: buy milk more regularly?)