Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dreams, They Complicate My Life

One dream dies as another begins: R.I.P. Stylus, the best mutual friend music and interweb ever shared, hello, Village Voice. If I keep knocking off goals at this rate, Scott Storch's career will have gone the way of Disco D's in a matter of weeks. Now if only I was dating a lovely, bespectacled plus-sized model. OH WAIT*

*Look, I'm allowed to be an asshole just this once. You all make more money than me and don't live with your parents.

Monday, October 29, 2007

American Apparel: 0, Rape: 1?

I don't know how I feel about this.

I think sacking porn with the baggage of rape is wrong (rape is how your momma raised you). But I kind of like the slug in the face for any industry to get called on their long-past-banal usage of skinny nudie wimmins to shill the wares. Porn's unoriginal too, but it don't make me buy shit. To quote the ever-effervescent Hamell on Trial: "Fuck it, why go halfway?"

Secret's Out - Stylus Magazine: 2002-2007

Confession: I'd never heard of Stylus before May this year. I'd graduated from college and, desperate to score a music-writing gig, emailed the head editor of every contactable publication Metacritic listed with a resume and samples. Todd Burns, an alternate universe's would-be Ryan Schrieber, took a chance on me. The college I went to was nothing special, my GPA eventually shook itself out at 3.0. I'd never been professionally published. But I'm so, so glad he saw something. This summer, I didn't find any special postgraduate jobs. I'm living in my childhood bedroom and I have exactly 6 hours scheduled at FYE next week. I'll be making about $42, give or take. But that stuff will come eventually (I hope). If I'd known all the five years of rich stuff I missed on Stylus (which I caught up on this summer as much as I possibly could, which was easy being jobless), I still would've picked the voluntary writing gig over a paying job in an either/or situation.

The almost six-month time that I've written there and learned not to act like a total dick on the message board...it was probably the most fulfilling social situation I've ever had. I hope that doesn't read pathetic; those guys are all geniuses, real-life contact or not...Nick Southall, the first writer who struck me as something fantastic there, scored Stylus' only ever entry in Da Capo's Best Music Writing this year. Several others deserve to eventually. I really hope they stay in touch. I need coattails to ride if nothing else. I'm really proud of any achievement I thought of in the midst of working with 'em. I'm a better writer now. Still trying to be a better person. But I am a better writer now. And without Burns, I wouldn't have scored the opportunity to write for the Village Voice, this Christgau/Breihan/Savage addict's longtime dream. Which I hope I won't screw up.

And now the obligatory Stylus requiem. I'll stick with the Mathers-approved one I've already posted on ILM and elsewhere:

"What i'll miss most about Stylus is its commitment to doubt, that every canonized treasure or forgotten misunderstood cult item deserves a rebuttal or an appeal. Up can be down, and the skepticism actually makes to it print. The site wasn't a collection of staff-wide endorsements. I'm gonna miss it."

Now head over and read Todd's perfectly compiled (natch) guide to the site's greatest hits.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Update U

Sorry for the dearth of updates, tiny faction of readers, it's been a BUSY-ASS COUPLE WEEKS. I occupy a weird space right now, of all-time highs (my lifelong dream to write for the Village Voice has just begun coming true) and ironic lows (just began a minimum wage job cheating holiday shoppers at FYE; just for the holidays...I hope). Also conducted my first non-email interview, with the great Eddie Argos of Art Brut. Spent a week with Jenny = wondrous. It's almost been two years now. Saw Art Brut, the Hold Steady and Yo La Tengo, all great. I'll link the features (for Lost at Sea) when they go up. Addiction to Facebook Scrabble has crippled my written output.

I guess I'd better update the recent reviews section if I'm gonna keep treating this like a LiveJournal. For now, peep my two favorite pieces (of my own) in a minute, a list of the Top 10 Most Conflicted Rap Songs Ever and a review of startling and confounding 12-year-olds Care Bears on Fire, who may be the last punk band in the world.

Now, quick, help me decide if I prefer Cassadaga to Kala before year's end. Or Strawberry Jam to Night Falls on Kortedala for that matter. And Lord knows if In Rainbows is really Radiohead's best since OK Computer, or even Amnesiac. It's hard out here for a crit.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"If I grew my hair out, I'd probably look like Fergie"

Just some quick catching up on some albums I wanted to be sure I heard before year-end list bonanza ensues:

The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse

Apparently this came out at the beginning of the year but I'd never heard of the thing until everyone started talking top 20. Which is straight-up garbage; this must be what Midlake sounds like.

Black Lips - Good Bad Not Evil

After all the talk about what assholes these guys are, I started to breathe easy for missing their Siren set. But hey, this is actually okay. More chromatic than the less distinguishable Black Keys, and certainly more fun. Since I undoubtedly prefer Kinks to 13th Floor Elevators, though, the new Hives is way preferable, but I plan to stick with this a little harder say, the Von Bondies in 2004.

Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings

Mmmmmmmm....as much I want to like this guy who signifies "wacky," "fun," "random," etc., he's not actually that wacky or random. So how fun can he really be? Boils down to a must-be ironic fetishization of mid-90s rave-pop like Aqua so impressed with its integration of Woody Woodpecker's laugh that it names the track after it lest you not notice the ingenious sample. I'm pretty sure my love for "Crystal Cat" is real--as long as the video's on. But nothing here even comes close to the genius of this, which I hope qualifies as a video of the year (it's by musicians, anyway).

Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

I'd pretty much had it with this guy, and was ready to surrender that he'd never hit me again without saving Calexico's ass in the process. But though I fell asleep to it last night (for the right reasons), I did notice some songs before my eyes shut, especially what I'm pretty sure was "White Tooth Man." I'm certain to play this again today and check.

Band of Horses - Cease to Begin

Another case of hype debut giving a profoundly ordinary follow-up too fair a shake? Well, since the debut wasn't that hype in the first place beyond its epic single (indiecrits hate calling a spade a spade with one-hit wonders, i.e. "Magheeta"/It Still Moves) it's not too hard for me to say I think this eclipses it with a straight face. I'll have to go back to Everything All the Time and compare, of course. But already I notice two country-leaning stunners with the Shins all over them. And it helps my perspective that this time the single sucks.

Marnie Stern - In Advance of the Broken Arm

I didn't know what to expect, but I love women, guitahz and off-rhythms. Turns out it's the worst case scenario: Deerhoof + Karen O. But it makes the best of it. Unlike Deerhoof albums, this will grow annoying on the terms of its own sound rather than a slew of actually annoying tracks after the first three. It's a bit of a one trick pony, but I'm kind of hankering for it again. That's one advantage it enjoys over Is Is or Friend Opportunity*.

*There is a fantastic Tom Ze rip on this album, I just forget what it's called.

The Fiery Furnaces - Widow City

More extreme, explicit weirdness than the Marnie Stern. I remain in awe of how prolific old Matthew Friedberger remembers his own time signatures changes this often (didn't he just knock out a double?). I bet he can't remember how to play "I'm Gonna Run." In any case, I was mostly struck by the thwack of bass-heavy hiphop-style breaks and fills all over the place. Eleanor's (Matthew's?) lyrics are positively insane at this point. This makes Blueberry Boat look like a (very long) walk in the park in terms of challenge, so I might as well accept.

But none of these matches the originality, variety or intelligence of Mac Lethal's strangely hype-invisible 11:11.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Top 5: Peej Mash-ups

Five mash-ups (so 2002) I'd like to see with PJ Harvey's (so 2004) "When Under Ether":

1. "(When Under) Ether" (PJ Harvey vs. Nas [vs. Jay-Z])
2. "Down Under Ether" (PJ Harvey vs. Men at Work)
3. "When Under Seether" (PJ Harvey vs. Veruca Salt)
4. "When Under Wieners" (PJ Harvey [and by default Scott "Storchavelli" Storch] vs. the back of Timbaland's neck [and by default Ms. Jade])
5. "When Under Skeeter" (PJ Harvey vs. the Beets [from Doug], or if it strikes your fancy, Lil' Jon)