Band: Kanye West
Album: The Life of Pablo
Best song: “No More Parties in L.A.”
Worst song: “I Love Kanye West” is dumb.
The Life of Pablo was finally released Sunday — two days after it was supposed to be released and three days after a pretty weird fashion show/listening party at Madison Square Garden — and let’s examine how I can relate to it . Read More
Band: Chelsea Wolfe
Best song: “Iron Moon.” “Grey Days.” “Carrion Flowers.” “Crazy Love.”
Worst song: “Maw” isn’t as strong as the other songs.
What can I say about Chelsea Wolfe that I haven’t already said? The California-based singer/songwriter is my favorite current artist and someone about whom I’ve sung overwhelming praise. Her fifth (or sixth, depending on how legitimate you consider Mistake in Parting) record Abyss comes out this week after early release of a few singles and her rise in the culture continues with the inclusion of one of the singles, “Carrion Flowers,” on a Fear the Walking Dead trailer.
Abyss marks a run in which Wolfe has released an album a year — save for 2014, when she was largely touring — since 2010. Read More
Best song: “Ride in my Place”
Worst song: “Pelt” is the least conventional, but the album plays like one giant song.
My lack of writing in this space exposes two things. The first is that I’m a lazy sack of crap and need to work more on getting more reviews up. A scant seven years ago, I did two reviews a day and now I can’t even get to one a month. Pathetic.
Band: Sufjan Stevens
Album: Carrie & Lowell
Best song: “Fourth of July”
Worst song: “Drawn to the Blood” is not as strong as the rest of the record.
There’s a conversation to be had about Sufjan Stevens, his religiosity, his skillset, his campiness and his general whiteness (I believe Pitchfork touched on the whiteness of the indie scene here). There are connections there, most certainly, but I can’t put them together right now. To use an overly obnoxious cliche: What do we talk about when we talk about Stevens? Is it one of those things above? Is it his popularity that seemingly came out of nowhere, only to be somewhat wasted on Christmas songs? Read More
Best song: “Birth Ritual” and “Would?” are classics.
Worst song: “Waiting For Somebody” is so so dumb.
Part of being old is the mistaken belief that the thing from one’s youth are the best things to have ever existed. I’ve written about it a million times, but — if I can pat myself on the back here for a minute — I do try to buck that trend. Balancing the “everything new is the best” with “everything from my youth is the best” is a tough road to hoe, but here we are. Read More
Band: Katy Perry
Best song: “Roar,” I guess.
Worst song: “Unconditionally” is bad.
Despite my general disdain for the National Football League, I really like having a party for its biggest event. I would agree with what Natalie Shure said this year.
Secondarily, I make chili, get some desserts and have people over. Also, the Super Bowl always falls near my birthday, so the get-together gets to be a pseudo birthday party I throw for myself. I get all the good things about such a party (get my friends in one place, eat like a glutton, etc.), without having to be the center of attention.
Band: St. Vincent
Album: St. Vincent
Best song: “Digital Witness” is certainly the smartest of the songs on the record.
Worst song: “I Prefer Your Love” is good, but nothing special.
It’s that time of the year: Everyone with a voice is talking about their favorite things of 2014. I don’t make “Albums of the Year” a thing, largely because what do I know? But it’s also because my tastes are pretty specific, however vast and omnivorous they tend to be (For example: The Pusha T record is great, but I feel less-than-qualified to write about it). I’ve already written about two of my favorite albums of the year so far: Banks’ debut record Goddess and Emma Ruth Rundle’s Some Heavy Ocean. The third is St. Vincent’s self-titled record. Read More
Album: Mic City Sons
Best song: “Plainclothes Man” is among Elliott Smith’s best songs.
Worst song: I am lukewarm on “Eagle Eye.”
I’ve referenced this before, but Patton Oswalt has a track on his record Werewolves and Lollipops called “At Midnight, I Will Kill George Lucas With a Shovel.” The premise is that if we like a thing, we don’t always want to see where that thing came from, but rather we want to see that thing. He uses the comparison of Jon Voight’s ball sack and Angelina Jolie to young Anakin/Darth Vader in The Phantom Menace. Read More
Band: Emma Ruth Rundle
Album: Electric Guitar One
Best song: “For Paul”
Worst song: “Dialogue Preceding”
One of the self-evident parts of fandom is the strange reality of coming near the subject of said fandom. I suspect it’s not a real thing for super duper mainstream artists.
Let me back up.
I’ve interviewed a bunch of musicians in my life and have, generally, taken to the idea that they’re just people. Name-dropping isn’t going to do me any good, but meeting people like Chris Walla or Ike Brock or Wayne Coyne or Doug Martsch didn’t bother me; ultimately, they were just some dudes. Read More
Band: Tom Petty
Best song: The title track is one of my favorite Petty songs.
Worst song: “Hard on Me” isn’t the best.
After the Concert for Valor, I had an interesting conversation with my boss (a big Springsteen fan) about a certain brand of straight rock and roll and its place in society. He referenced U2 as the type of band that’s, basically, always been relevant since inception, yet never really fell into the dreaded “classic rock” category that many bands of that vintage do. Springsteen is in that category, but most bands of that and earlier eras most certainly do not; Zeppelin, Dylan, the Stones, REM, etc. are still giants, but when they tour, they do the hits. No new stuff. Shit, Concert for Valor artists Metallica thinks themselves the former, but are most definitely the latter. It’s hard to avoid. Read More