Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Not News: Scott Storch Is A Fucking Moron

Nice robe, homie.

So. Rapidshare pretty much handles the jist of this breakthrough for retardedness: hack producer and complete asshole Scott Storch gets called out on Timbaland's totally solid new single as a "piano man," (aw shit) Storch gets grizzled, and fires back with a song that goes "keep my name out your mouth" for the hook even though Timbaland didn't use his name, over a beat that sounds like the two singles from The Doctor's Advocate trying to be each other: the lazy "pianos" of "Let's Ride" trying to bump at the frenetic chopped-up pace of "One Blood." Actually, the song's alot like "One Blood." Storch raps like the Game: blunt, ign'nt, takes himself (and this beef) way too seriously, and lands no punchlines. But more stupidly, the guy who produced Paris Hilton's record and "Lean Back" (and, I loathe to admit, "Baby Boy" and "Adrenaline!") is taking serious shots at a fucking master, who destroyed 2006 (not to mention 1997, 1999 and 2000), with "SexyBack," "My Love," and "Maneater" (and fine, "Promiscuous" just for the sake of elevating my point). Timbaland is a fuckbillion times richer, more talented, and especially, classier, than this douchebag will ever be. I mean, he talks shit about Timbaland's poor-selling Beat Club imprint and calls him a "producer" like Storch has been a gun-toting gangsta all this time and not just a dude from the Roots who knew the orchestra button on his Casio extremely well. Storch is actually from my snotty suburban hometown (ranked in 2006 as the #8 safest place in America to live) and learned as much from Timbo as he did from Dre when he was unpacking his Pro Tools kit. As for dough, Storch need not worry about Tim's A&R skills when his FutureSex/LoveSounds and Loose ate the charts and Paris ate balls. The only race now is that I hope Shock Value outsells Paris even if it never becomes a smash like Tim's albums always don't. Just to teach a boy a lesson. Like, I hate sacred cows more than anyone else, and producer beef could be just as fun and interesting as anyone else's, but Storch is like Ja Rule after 50 Cent here, and if these two were rappers Tim could have his career ended. Actually, I'm not sure how Tim will respond. He's clearly the less antagonistic or dangerous one here, even if he did "start" it (again, really? "piano man?" like, isn't that too kind. . . what about "synthesizer man" or "fruityloops man"). I definitely can't see him pulling threats like Storch did. I can't wait to see how this pans out, namely because Storch is finally passing himself off as the asshole I always thought he was, as if his opponent, a legend at this point, still has something to prove. Plus, everybody out of the pool: he produced Jason Mraz's "Geek In The Pink."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Seven Deadly Singles #42: Ghost Ride The Deli Aisle, It's Ballin'

Not one or two, but three Timberlake songs, only one of which is as stupid as Mistah Fab or Jim Jones.

The Blow - "Parentheses"

I shouldn't have to point out why the aching sweetness of a line like "When you're holding me, we make a pair of parentheses," makes this the most heartfelt love song I can remember in years. But "If something in the deli aisle makes you cry/you know I'll put my arm around you and I'll walk you outside/through the sliding doors/why would I mind?" nails it: the total essence of understanding in relationships, and the rapport that makes them tick even under the most ridiculous circumstances. And what better place for love and understanding than a tripped-out Hawaiian disco? Maybe the deli aisle. A

Timbaland feat. Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake - "Give It To Me"

Not bad. The surprise is that Timberlake is the most underused source on the track; Furtado's in full "Maneater" effect if you want to call that sexy, Timb's tone-speak fits perfectly with the interlocking robot drums and synth. Not very funky, which befits this cold 80s thing going down these days. If only he could hit it out of the park like "My Love" on his own, but that's okay, he gets by with a little help from his friends. The effect, though, is as if Ringo was saving a Plastic Ono Band track. B+

KT Tunstall - "Suddenly I See"

Consumer alert: skip the album, it sucks. If I told you that anything else on it even remotely resembled "Black Horse & The Cherry Tree," her cover of "Get Ur Freak On," or this Vh1-approved nugget of sunshine, I'd be lying out my Lilith Fair-tattooed labia. You're way better off with Regina Spektor. Still, this is good. It just sucks that a tricky bait-and-switch bitch seemed so nice with all that computer/cardboard animated friendliness in the video. B+

Jim Jones - "We Fly High"

Ignore the official "title" above, there's only one thing this song's called, and that's "Baaaaaaaaaaaalllllllin'!" Jim Jones might just be stupid enough to be a hyphy rapper, if hyphy would have him that is. But the not-at-all dramatic synth strings that soak this sub-Storch production send me back to Earth, where one wildly great catchphrase does not equal a beat, or even a hook. Just ask Lil' Jon. So if Rick Ross hasn't picked up a hook so one of a kind yet, I still prefer his song because his brand of dumb is arrogant and cool and set in a neon-lit blaxplotation context that lets you feel guilty about the whole damn thing, not just the embarassing raps. And while Dipset has more than its share of lovable retards, Purple Haze had beats to back it up. C+

Justin Timberlake & Andy Samberg - "Dick In A Box"

Not gonna lie. Samberg's way worthier of an album that Jimmy Fallon ever was. It helps that he understands the medium he satirizes, while Fallon just sort of giggled at anything that looked silly. It's important that Samberg isn't just going LOL blk ppl music and saying "freaky" a lot. And he knew just how to build to the punchline, and send it over the cliff with that outrageous "midday at the grocery store" chant near the end. The star couldn't resist getting his name on a tune that puts a notch in the "has a sense of humor" belt, no shit, but the surprise is that people are singing this, not "What Goes Around," long after the video premiered on SNL. Fuck, he has to do it live to sate his minions. A

Justin Timberlake - "What Goes Around"

. . . Does it come around, Justin? Sometimes even the brightest pop stars can be just so fucking stupid. B-

Mistah Fab - "Ghost Ride It"

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The Arcade Fire, Ted Leo, Modest Mouse, Deerhunter, Menomena, The Shins, Andrew Bird, Bright Eyes, all of you, fuck off. I don't need your emotional, meaningful, intelligent, thoughfully arranged bullshit. It is 2007 and I only care about one thing: the Bay area. Always obvious, always simple, always retarded to the zth degree, the wonderfully named Mistah Fab embodies hyphy, a genre that paints big globby portraits of D-U-M-B. If his brightly-colored video doesn't grab you, with people dancing on the hood and others driving outside a pimped-out Ghostbusters car, his duh! duh! duh! duh! Patrick Swayze and Casper jokes won't get you either. I'd like to point to his genius Ghostbusters theme-mimicking synth riff, but you're probably above that too. It's no fun to call it this early, but this is already in the running for Song of the Year. It'll be much more fun to hear the prigs argue about it. A+

Thursday, February 15, 2007

kiss out the jams second-guesses 2006

The man?

Look, it's no secret to anyone who knows me that I eat, sleep, shit, breathe Robert Christgau. I develop withdrawal symptoms when his new Consumer Guide column is announced for February 1 and arrives three days later. I am fucking psycho for that shit. All-time greatest this, genius that, blah blah blah. . . he is more in tune with my taste than any other critic past, present or future and that is the hard fact. No one else is even close. When Pitchfork puts Wussy or Oruc Guvenc on their year-end list then we'll talk. Cynics berate that he just goes for the throat about major-hyped albums, or that he goes out of his way to state in print that he likes things like John Mayer and Brad Paisley more than Gnarls Barkley or Death Cab. But I admire him for that because he's obviously trying to piss people off. Who else is? Pitchfork pisses people off but won't acknowledge they're doing so; I don't know anyone who thinks Silent Shout was Album of 2006 or even close, but the 'Fork states like it's a hard fact and the rest of the world has to catch up. I read it daily--those are some thorough, up-to-date motherfuckers on that reporting staff--but I only agree with them when they are duh-obvious (The Woods, Fishscale). They fall victim to the worst tendencies of hype though, and Christgau is a refreshing anti-that. So I'm willing to ignore the fact he deliberately baits people by putting Outkast's Idlewild in his top ten over Clipse (why is that album suddenly underrated just as I get into it?) and Maria Muldaur's Ronstadt-like collection of Dylan's (Christ) love songs higher up than Ghostface, previously the only rightful A+ he's dubbed in years. INFURIATING, yes. But I'd rather be infuriated and still know who Wussy, Jesus H Christ And The Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse, Thunderbirds Are Now!, that dog and Imperial Teen are.

Anyway, my worst nightmare as a snob occurred and that new Christgau column (more than usual) forced me to look at some 2006 albums again that previously horrified or annoyed me. I'll have you know that Ys and St. Elsewhere sounded just like they always did, solid and excellent respectively.

Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury

This one's been official for the last month or so, when I was basically in denial of how often I listened to it. Ultimately relieved when both Jackin' Pop and Pazz & Jop honored Ghostface first, I now feel bad for making such a big deal of what noncompetition this is. I was wrong; I know all of twelve of these by heart, even the difficult ones. The Neptunes have a gift for making the laziest trial-and-error beats transcend the simple and the discordant. Now, the rather inaccessible "Ride Around Shining," "Trill," and "Keys Open Doors" shine like beacons, albeit ones with a broken lens. "Chinese New Year," "Wamp Wamp," and "Momma I'm Sorry" remain the anthems, the masterstrokes. "Hello New World," "Nightmares" and the hypercatchy "Dirty Money" are the pallet-cleansers. If there's filler, it's still "Mr. Me Too." But there isn't. A

The Knife - Silent Shout

I can live with this record. I was not looking forward to hear it, with those stupid masks and all, but there really are some serious synth workouts here, even if the Pitchfork-approved title song and opener ain't one. Still, I wouldn't categorize this as something I'd go out of my way to listen to. It's just better than the Junior Boys. B

Lily Allen - Alright, Still

This one I just ignored. I don't know, something always puts me off about that token Year-End Rap-Related British Import on everyone's list (Dizzee Rascal, Run The Road, Lady Sov) and I wasn't impressed by the supposedly "wicked"/"clever" single. Joke's on me. Turns out "Smile" is one of the least realized tracks on a bright, fun album brimming with otherwise. Try the rollicking cocktail piano of "Knock 'Em Out," which has too much Mike Skinner for my girlfriend, or the slo-mo salsa-bounce "LDN," which has just enough. B+

Lupe Fiasco - Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor

This and Nas were the two rap records this year that I respected but just wasn't interested in. I knew there was content in their flows and low-key beats but who wants subtle when you're preoccupied with Clipse, Ghostface and Lil' Wayne blowing shit up? I haven't gotten back to the Nas yet, but this one certainly repaid my attention better than I remembered. To give him a context: this is the new A Tribe Called Quest. People are calling it skate-hop, but it's hardly the first smart and chill album to wax rhapsodic about suburbia. So while "Kick, Push" is one of many tracks on here that originally read better than it sounded, this record is truly a nice, relaxed grower, even with its four or five filler cuts. B+

TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain

Ah-ah. Sorry. Ain't happening. Still boring as ass and duller than dull. Proof I was waiting for that they have no sense of humor: this week they accused the Village Voice of intentional racism even as its colleagues kissed their asses, for a cartoon of Bob Dylan running over their most recognizable member (not the singer). If Bob was running over Joanna Newsom would it be okay then, boys? Seriously, not winning any points. I can make out three actual songs at this point, albeit after a good five or six plays. Two of them are decent: I'll concede that "Playhouses" builds actual tension if you concede "Wolf Like Me" is competent but no one's Song of the Year. And the third one exemplfies the dealbreaker: you either love those sour horns and intentionally badly-chopped samples that kick off the "I Was A Lover," or you don't. My girlfriend and Christgau, two of the minds I trust the most, do. I don't. C

Jay-Z - Kingdom Come

This is the one I'm embarassed about. I should've known better not to trust the same blogosphere that hypes The Black Album and Reasonable Doubt like they're Revolver and Rubber Soul (that would be Vol. 3 and Blueprint) and shits on the completely solid Blueprint 2 and Dynasty. Relisten, I beg you, because even with what Murs calls "deterioration of the skills," there is only one bad track ("Show Me What You Got,") for the first, count 'em, eight songs. "Oh My God" and "Kingdom Come" are classic Jay and Just Blaze, absolutely slamming with their rearranged "Whipping Post" and "Superfreak" samples. "Lost Ones" rides an excellent, loping piano beat and I'm willing to forgive the line "Sorry I'm a champion" whenever that Erykah Badu-alike croons it. "30 Something" is actually very funny rather than whiny and defensive, and I shouldn't have put it past him to be so. And "Dig A Hole" is funny, too, in a whole different way; it's funny like the Jay-Z of old, the bratty kid who put out "Takeover" to earn his crown. There's still a lot of shit, though. Ruining Beyonce on "Hollywood" is inexcusable, and I'm not convinced by "Minority Report" any more than "Get Ya Hustle On" as a truly effective Katrina survey. "Beach Chair" is still dogshit. So leave it Rolling Stone to have provided the most accurate review in the first place, which I had every reason to believe was just one of their usual suckups. I'll up this a notch just cuz I love rooting for an underdog, a corner Jay's unwittingly (intentionally?) and deliciously put himself in again. B+

John Mayer - Continuum

Not my thing and I'm not having it. I like the single fine and pass on the album the way an Ambien user likes his rest but doesn't want to be in a coma. C+

Nellie McKay - Pretty Little Head

I've tried a few times to scour this disproportionate mess looking for gems amidst the tripe, and I've just given up. As much as I'd like to enjoy this record, to reaffirm McKay's overflowing cache of talent, I cannot get to the end of it. Even "Cupcake" or "Columbia Is Bleeding" aren't tracks I return to, even though I can stand them, and those are just the two I didn't force-feed my ears. Yes, there are decent songs scattered throughout here, and no, they aren't worth your time searching. Still a shame. Hopefully, Regina Spektor can keep picking up the gauntlet (and Xgau underrates her too). C

Cat Power - The Greatest

OK, so I missed less than three good minutes when I was ripping this apart. The blandly sweet "Could We" can now be added to the pantheon shared by "Hate" and "Love & Communication" as Songs From The Greatest That Don't Make Me Throw Staplers In Frustration. C

Crunk Hits Vol. 2

Only Christgau sticks a record like this in his top 4, and fuck, I won't even argue. Both this and TVT's new Hyphy Hitz comp have given me more ridiculous, goofy, drunk-ass pleasure than any other "party" record I can remember. Songs I hated become harmless, songs I liked become juggernauts. One after another, this is the best dirty-ass pop music money can buy. A-

Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped

Here's a new one. The most lauded album in ages by one of my favorite bands ever, agreed upon by myself, my favorite critic, every other critic, even my dad, bores and grates the shit out of me when I play it recently. Not that I ever put it in this year's top ten, or even Sonic Youth's top ten, but I felt my top 20 was appropriate. Now I'm not so sure. The first four tracks lock into place good as ever, but after "Sleepin' Around" I find everything so scant. Sonic Nurse moved, why does this just stop? I might change my mind in a month but for now this one just stagnates for me. Definitely nothing special in any case. A-

New York Dolls - One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This

I never had a bad opinion on this at all, it just never occurred to me as a Top 10 album until Christgau bet all his chips on it. It's just so normal, 13 straight rock songs with piano ballads in 2006? Doesn't that contradict all that fancy Ys/Cooke Mountain/Silent Shout jazz? But, fuck, does it keep getting better. And listen to the lyrics, they are smart. I've been playing this nonstop and I wouldn't even count it out as my fave Dolls album. So why shouldn't this be in my top 10? I'd certainly now put this and Clipse ahead of the Eef Barzelay if not Gnarls. Oops, that's that Christgau influence talking. Oh well. The pleasure's all mine. A

My 2006 top 15 would now read something like this:

1. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
2. Wussy - Funeral Dress
3. The Roots - Game Theory
4. Be Your Own Pet
5a. The Replacements - Don't You Know Who You Think I Was? The Best Of
5b. The Format - Dog Problems
6. Clipse - Hell No Hath Fury
7. Eric Bachmann - To The Races
8. New York Dolls - One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This
9. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
10. Eef Barzelay - Bitter Honey
11. The Rapture - Pieces Of The People We Love
12. Neil Young - Living With War
13. Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
14. Thom Yorke - The Eraser
15. Man Man - Six Demon Bag

kiss out the jams on the grammys


This was probably the single worst Grammys show I've ever seen, winnerwise and performancewise. No surprises (John Mayer/Corinne Bailey Rae/John Legend mashup? Rascal Flatts paying tribute to "Hotel California"?, who would've fucken thought) and nearly no upbeat songs (the R&B tribute was the second fast one, and why was there even an R&B tribute?)

Good stuff:

- Xtina doing a phenomenal James Brown, the best performance of the night by far. She got the moves and intensity down and continues to slowly, reluctantly earn my respect in small granules.

- Timberlake and T.I. with that chick people voted on doing the song of the year. Look, I couldn't give a shit if Timberlake looks like ass through a handheld cam, the girl doesn't add a thing to the performance, or a shitgimmick like this just signifies how out-of-touch the Grammys are more and more. . . I can watch T.I. make those faces for ages.

- Shakira/Wyclef and Cee-Lo doing solid performances of great songs I've seen better performances of.

- Chris Brown suprising the shit out of me with the night's best performance showmanship-wise, with adorable little hoodie kids doing backflips and yard stomping and all kinds of crazy, legitimate dance shit documented by bad Nick Cannon movies. And hey, "Run It!" is not a bad song, it turns out.

- Carrie Underwood is official. The girl lives up to the world's conventional standards of hotness so much more than Fergie or Jessica Simpson does, and she can sing. Oh, fuck, can she sing. Like, that is how you take a performance I am not interested in AT ALL, and turn it into something mesmerizing, even if ugly-ass, greasy-ass, untalented-ass Rascal Flatts has to cut in every couple minutes. She did fucking "Desperado" and made me like it!!!

Bad stuff:

- Ludacris did a shitty song with musicians out of his league and beat out T.I. and The Roots for a shit album and single nobody liked. His only redemption was thanking Bill O'Reilly in his speech, which actually prompted me to Wikipedia O'Reilly just to make sure he's never won an award (and not only hasn't he, but he lied about winning a Peabody!). But this win is so indicative of why Grammy voters are fucking LIARS. I mean, Pharrell's In My Mind got nominated, and it's pretty much indisputable that no one liked it, but if Pharrell is a "Grammy-friendly" name, why couldn't he get a Producer of the Year nod for Hell Hath No Fury? Bullshit.

- Mary J. Blige got way too emotional over winning when she won for a way better song 2002 and her performance was better then too. Of course, the blander a "veteran" or "new" artist is, the more likely he/she is to score this many nominations: James Blunt, Green Day, Norah Jones, Red Hot Chili Peppers. No one wants to admit her voice isn't actually all that, because she's the only R&B singer from her generation to make it this far, except for Mariah, who lacks the cred that Blige has somewhat earned. But she fail to best her own standard: YouTube 2002's Grammy-shattering "No More Drama" performance, with Blige writhing around onstage, painting a pretty convincing picture of actual drama.

-The Police doing a tame but solid "Roxanne" until they cater to Sting's bullshit and decide to space out and go jazz less than 2 minutes in. . . this is the opening performance at the fucking Grammys?

- Beyonce made a fine album this year and instead of performing something great from it, she did her fucking Dreamgirls song again, continuing the shit slow song trend of the night. I almost punched the screen when Wyclef and Shakira started "Hips Don't Lie" as a ballad, too.

- The Chili Peppers and Dixie Chicks are both very good bands who made seriously bad albums this year and like I said before, inbred Grammy voters continually allow shit like that to coast on their reputations. . . I would've rather John Mayer won Album of the Year if Timberlake or Gnarls couldn't. And the guy from Semisonic really needs to calm down about having a part in "Not Ready to Make Nice." It's not like they weren't going to write about that anyway. And that song is so bad I almost wish I was a Republican.

- Corinne Bailey Rae/John Mayer/John Legend put me to sleep except during Mayer's solo. Why is that guy completely uncapable of writing an entire song that electrifying?

- Quentin Tarantino continues to embarass himself and looks like a douchebag, even next to Don Henley. When I go see Grind House I'll just pretend the chick with the machine gun leg is popping him right in the fucking mouth with that shit.

- How many times do I have to make clear that Al Gore is a great, heroic person, but does not belong at music awards shows?

- Gnarls and JT getting shut out from all but minor-ass categories. . .why would they let Timberlake perform twice, with the night's biggest advertised gimmick, and not give him anything?

Verdict: R&B and pop are more in touch than ever, with what makes them so important to the world at large. No matter how bad the Grammys try to bland them out, serious performers than many indie kids and all Hinder fans like to think are tard-dumb are outsmarting your eyes and ears now at the top of their game. Cee-Lo, Shakira, Justin, T.I., Christina, Chamillionaire, even Nelly Furtado and Chris Brown, and the unnominated Lil' Wayne, Clipse, Ghostface, you are my future, please do your best to rid the world of this need for Corinne Bailey Rae and John Mayer type shit. And hey, I even like Mayer's new single. But in no way should that guy be up for Album of the Year.