Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The History of Pitchfork

(lifted from Eric's Facebook page)

This is a long read, but a very good one.  My favorite parts are the direct quotes from Pitchfork.  To whet your palette, here are a few Ryan Schreiber nuggets...

On Thelonious Monk: “The man could play a piano like it was a goddamn video game.” And on John Coltrane, recorded live at the Village Vanguard: “‘Trane takes it to heaven and back with some style, man. Some richness, daddy. It’s a sad thing his life was cut short by them jaws o’ death.”
Here's the whole thing:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Nevermind Gets a 7 out of 10

Guys, you're all going to want to run, not walk, to the iTunes Store to get your hands on an ancient album that a leading critic at the Yale Daily News has given a 7 out of 10.  The ancient album is called Nevermind, and it's by Nirvana.  You may have heard of them because they're the band the Foo Fighters grew out of.

Anyway, this is definitely worth hearing because Nirvana has inspired everyone from Nickelback to Lana Del Rey, and Pitchfork declared the record to be an all-time classic.  Now granted, they're no Radiohead, but for an ancient band, they're really not that bad.

[postscript: It's also possible that this review is one of the best dry, sarcastic jokes put to paper.  But all of the guy's other by-lines are legit.  Also the YDN is not known for dry, sarcastic humor.  I think it's real... but if it's fake, the guy's a genius.]

Friday, January 20, 2012

Amour mama! Not cheap display

The first 100 or so times I listened to Joni Mitchell's The Hissing of Summer Lawns, I didn't really take much notice of the opening track "In France They Kiss on Main Street". It's the most conventional sounding pop song on the album, and for a long time I was so focused on the enticing strangeness of all the other songs that this one just didn't make much of an impression. The other day, however, I pulled up this album on my iPod and without warning the greatness of this song suddenly knocked me flat. It's a nostalgia song about being young and wild in a very specific time, when "rock 'n' roll" stood for a certain kind of rebelliousness that sounds almost quaint now. It's sort of a short story about being a teenager in a very different time and place.

I'm not sure if it takes most people a year or so of listening to this song for it to suddenly come through and take life, but I'm glad it finally did for me. It's great. Below is a slightly weird video of a live version...judging by her hair and clothes, a live version from the 1980s.

Friday, January 13, 2012

"He Speaks French Too"

The latest Newt Gingrich ad really plays like a parody of a Newt Gingrich ad that Drischord would put together.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

10 Reflections on 2011

Well, as the blog sputters into 2012, it looks like no one has posted a proper Top 10 list yet, and I'm not going to either.  Instead, I'll just list 10 things that I liked or observed in 2011-- several of which were created in years past.

10. Best Rock Concert Ever- "Queen Rock Montreal"  I actually first saw this on PBS, and then I acquired the DVD for repeated viewings.  This is the best rock concert I have ever seen, including the many I've seen in person.  You will not find 4 musicians more on top of their game than these guys were at the time of this concert.  Mind-blowing.

9. Best archival discovery- Jobriath.  Speaking of flamboyant glam rockers (see above), I was amazed to learn about this guy, who was completely lost to history.  His manager said that comparing him to David Bowie was like comparing a Ferrari to a Ford Model A.  He's basically everything that Bowie and Marc Bolan and Bryan Ferry were-- but in total overdrive.  And it so happens that his 2 albums are awesome-- particularly the first one.  (I should also mention that Lost Moon Radio created a character partially based on this guy.  We didn't push it much farther than the real life Jobriath.)  Read about him online and then check out his music.

Second-best archival discovery- Roy Harper (Led Zeppelin's "Hats Off to Harper" couldn't be less representative.  His actual records sound more like a mystical Nick Drake.)

8. Past raves of mine that held up nicely in 2011: Superchunk "Majesty Shredding" and Guns 'N Roses "Chinese Democracy" (and I'll spare you further editorial comment; all I'm saying is it's still great, as recent listens have confirmed)

7. Two Observations: First, the best way to listen to Radiohead's "King of Limbs" is in rush hour traffic.  It helps calm you and it focuses you rather than putting you to sleep.  I've definitely appreciated that record more in my car than in my home stereo.  Second, Nick Cave's cover of "All Tomorrow's Parties" is way better than the Velvet Underground original.  Just wanted you to know.  (This will be my only mention of a Lou Reed-related work in this post.  Sorry, Metallica.)

6. A couple new releases I enjoyed this year: St. Vincent "Strange Mercy," Buffalo Tom "Skins,"  Wye Oak "Civilian," Wild Flag s/t, The Rosebuds "Loud Planes Fly Low," Tom Waits "Bad As Me," PJ Harvey "Let England Shake," Drive-By Truckers "Go Go Boots," Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit "Here We Rest" (huge step forward from his last one), J Mascis "Several Shades of Why," R.E.M. "Collapse Into Now," Bill Callahan "Apocalypse," Fleet Foxes "Helplessness Blues," Robbie Robertson "How to Become Clairvoyant" (surprisingly enjoyable!), TV on the Radio "Nine Types of Light," Lucinda Williams "Blessed," Bonnie Prince Billy- Wolfroy Goes to Town

5. Indie bands from the past that I got into: The Grifters, Mule, Beat Happening, The Wipers, the Ryan Adams album (Love Is Hell) where he decides he wants to be Jeff Buckley and is admittedly pretty good at it

4. Band that I love just as much now as when I discovered them 17 years ago- Buffalo Tom. I happened to be in Boston the weekend of their 25th anniversary concerts.  So awesome, and that was either my 5th or 6th time seeing them.  Really criminal that they never got bigger.  Honestly, listen to "Let Me Come Over" and "Big Red Letter Day." Two of the best albums of my lifetime.

3. Album that I finally appreciate to its full degree- "Dark Side of the Moon."  I was lucky enough to be invited to play this record live from start to finish with a very cool band here in LA.  In performing/listening to it live, I realized how much awesome raw power the record contains and how good all the individual parts are-- particularly David Gilmour's guitar lines.  I gained all new levels of respect for that dude.  But really it's all of them-- great set of songs.

2. Thoughts on Wilco's "The Whole Love"- While it was among my favorite releases of the year, I'm not quite sure where it ranks for me in terms of their total output.  I'd say it might settle on the second tier of three for me.  I know we all have our own opinions, but for me, I think it's: Tier One- YHF, Ghost, Sky; Tier Two- Whole Love, Being There, Summerteeth; Tier Three- A.M., (the album)  Either way, I'm still planning to listen to this many more times before rendering a final verdict.  It's definitely a return to form after a record (the album) that I consider unfinished.  It also utilizes the full band much better than (the album) did.

1. Top ranking that Pitchfork actually did get right- Bon Iver had the best record of the year.  Totally haunting and more fully realized than the one before it.  I've been listening to this one a lot lately.  It really holds up.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Top 5 Opening Sentences from Pitchfork's Top 50 Album Reviews

The other day I went meandering through the Pitchfork year-end lists, just to see what was there. And as you might expect, I was met with quite an overwhelming volume of words--so I decided to just read the first 2-3 sentences of any given review and then move on. Pretty soon, however, I started finding opening sentences that I found so amusing or confusing that I started cutting and pasting them to save for later. I therefore present to you: my Top 5 Opening Sentences from Pitchfork's Top 50 Album Reviews:

5."I don't give a fuck about you, you, her, him, that bitch, that nigga, y'all them," hisses DJ Quik on the very first line of his eighth album. To be fair, not many rappers will cop to "giving a fuck," but Quik is able to stay truer to his word than most.

4. On 2008's Saint Dymphna, Gang Gang Dance made their most succinct set of statements to date. Their desire to sift a broad range of pan-global signifiers through concise pop frameworks continued on this year's Eye Contact, but it also found them building bridges to their past.

3. Hymns are designed to unite a crowd of people in praise, aiming for a communal religious trance through the power of group vocalization. On Tomboy, Noah Lennox tests whether a congregational spirit can still be achieved by a single voice slathered with enough multi-tracked harmonies and reverb, a chorus of one worshipping secular matters.

2. There's a startling moment on Clams Casino's debut mixtape when a phlegm-soaked scream rises above the gorgeous murk before quickly being subsumed once again. It sounds like the last gasp of all the East Coast rap this New Jersey producer grew up on-- Dipset, Wu Tang, Mobb Deep-- making its presence known, handing the beat down.

And the #1 slot on this list goes to the review which came the closest to being 100% incomprehensible to me:

1. If you're a promising young artist partly responsible for turning a Hipster Runoff punchline into a viable (but still often maligned) subgenre, what do you do in order to stand out? Do you chart a course in a different direction, or hope that the wheat will eventually separate from the chaff? Chaz Bundick escaped the increasingly long shadow of chillwave by getting a synthesizer and an arpeggiator and (temporarily) throwing his computer out of the window.