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Thursday, January 29, 2004

All of that said...
The best non-jazz jazz album made by a petite 20-something female singer may turn out to be the as yet untitled (as far as I know) album from Leslie Feist. Oh, yes, sure I guess if you really want to get specific, it is an "indie rock" record, but it seems awfully sultry, almost bluesy, which is a rough approximation of jazzy, right? It's sort of like Norah Jones with a guitar where the piano goes. Sorta. But not really.
I'm not really selling this very well, am I? Well that's not my job. That's for these guys to do.
Based on the one leaked demo (Mushaboom), the one track on the Arts & Crafts sampler (Let It Die), and the four tracks found in the deepest, darkest reaches of the Internet (When I Was A Young Girl, Intuition, Leisure Suite, The Eastern Shore), this is going to be a sexy, cool record. Intimate and Intense. Not unlike Broken Social Scene, but much, much more understated in its powers.
At times Leslie reminds me of Beth Gibbons. Though I haven't listened to Beth Gibbons in awhile, so lemme go dig up some Portishead before you quote me on that.
Broken Social Scene fans will find more than enough to love. Leisure Suite would have fit very nicely near the end of You Forgot It In People.
Mushaboom (at least in demo form) is folksy blues for the skinny urban indie kid (especially when you can hear cars driving by outside).
When I Was A Young Girl is coffee house soul. Bongos. Finger snapping. Hand clapping. A cooler than cool guitar lick.
Let It Die sounds like the most fully-realized (ie. produced) of the tracks. So the rest may all be demos. Not that much need be done to them. It'd actually be neat to see them released as is.
Anyway. Any minute now Arts & Crafts is going to drop me a line and point out that I'm rambling on endlessly about some obscure tracks that have been around for years and I should just shut up and wait for the actual record.

**UPDATE**
Some nosing around on Feist's site (it wasn't working for me earlier), proves Mushaboom, Intuition, Eastern Shore and Leisure Suite to be "Red Demos" you can grab from the "recordings" section. Well... what are you waiting for?
No idea where When I Was A Young Girl came from.
No idea if any of these tracks will make the actual album.
Norah 2, Globe 0
Listening to Norah Jones' sophomore effort, Feels Like Home, it seems as good a time as any to reflect for a moment on The Globe and Mail's "Norah Jones Is Not Jazz!"/"She's Not That Important" campaign of the last year and a half. A few of their best salvos:

"It's hard to imagine future jazz historians hailing any of these efforts as signal works, or any of these singers... as major figures in the larger scheme of a musical tradition that has owed its evolution to the creative impulses of its artists."
-Mark Miller in reference to Norah Jones and Diana Krall, Dec. 23, 2002

"There's an immediacy to what's popular; Jones and Krall were everywhere this year, impossible to miss. But it takes time to recognize what's important."
-Miller, Dec. 23, 2002

"Most jazz fans seem to 'get' it, even if the wider public that's buying all those Jones and Krall CDs does not."
-Miller, again, Dec. 23, 2002

"Don't look now, but jazz singing has quietly become the new Easy Listening. And boy is it big business... Then there's newcomer Norah Jones, who is widely expected to sweep the Grammy Awards this Sunday, and has so far sold more than four million copies of her debut, Come Away with Me... funnily enough, what these best-selling jazz singers deliver has little to do with jazz, beyond a walking bass and an occasional piano solo. Instead, their music sits squarely in the middle of the road, offering obvious melodies, a soothing mood and a veneer of sophistication... Because it's so pretty, so determinedly inoffensive, it's hard to hate this music. But it's very easy to despise the musical dumbing-down that comes with aspiring to a higher class of aural wallpaper... Billie Holiday died for this?"
-J.D. Considine, Feb. 19, 2003

"[Holly] Cole certainly has a stronger claim to a spot at a jazz festival than Jones, Costello and the rest. Hers at least is a pop act with jazz trappings, specifically four accompanists, led by pianist Aaron Davis, who know their way around I Got Rhythm. And after Jones's disconcerting girlishness at the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of Place des Arts on Wednesday, Cole is the very model of cool sophistication."
-Miller, July 5, 2003

"Somewhere in the 1950s, jazz decided it was art music and -- with the exception of the occasional, accidental hit -- divorced itself from pop music. But the split wasn't entirely two-way; many musicians since that time have applied the technique and vocabulary of jazz to the more basely commercial fields of pop. And so, a half century later, we come to Norah Jones."
-Considine, July 5, 2003

"I've never played [guitarist] Charlie Hunter on the show or Medeski, Martin & Wood. I just don't find them interesting; neither do I truly find them jazz. There are elements of jazz in their music, but it annoys me when traditional jazz labels say: 'We have Norah Jones, we have Medeski, Martin & Wood, we have Charlie Hunter and we have [singer] Kurt Elling,' and then talk about them as if they deserve to be on the same label [Blue Note] that once recorded [vibraphonist] Bobby Hutcherson, [drummer] Joe Chambers and [pianist] Herbie Hancock. I'm sorry; don't tell me they haven't changed their game here."
-CBC Radio's Katie Malloch as quoted by Miller, Oct. 4, 2003

"Norah Jones will oblige with a new disc that will prove to everyone what could be discerned from her multi-Grammy-winning debut: that underneath her café-jazz veneer, she's a post-country singer from Texas."
-Robert Everett-Green, Jan. 3, 2004

"Today, Blue Note has singer and pianist Norah Jones looking wistfully downward on the cover of her second album, Feels Like Home, with songs likely to continue her country-tinged, intimate cabaret style. Although she was trained as a jazz musician, few serious jazz fans consider her one. What does this mean for Blue Note's image?"
-Guy Dixon, Jan. 13, 2004

Sigh. Never has so much ink been spilt trying to explain to readers why they shouldn't be paying so much attention to someone. Considine, in particular, is a curious case. For all the bluster about Billie Holiday died for this" and whatnot, he still found it within his cold, cold heart to name Jones' Don't Know Why one of the best singles of 2002. Granted he also sighted Chad Kroeger's dirge Hero. So maybe he was being ironic. It's so tough to tell. Because, of course, J.D. (not to mention his peers at The Globe) is just so much smarter than the rest of us.

R.E.G. has probably already beat everyone to the punch with his "cafe-jazz veneer" comment, but who will be the first Globe writer this year to point out that Feels Like Home is not, under any circumstances, to be considered "true jazz?" We should start a pool.

Feels Like Home certainly does nothing to combat The Glebians and will certainly only encourage their protests. This is probably because, as The Globe's own James Adams (does he get out more than the rest of them? maybe he just has more important things to worry about...) noted last February: "Jones doesn't see herself as a jazz artist."

It's a jazzy (note: I did not say "jazz" - I said "jazzy." Everybody ok? Deep breaths...) country album - delicate and pretty, subtle and hushed for the most part. It's that Sunday morning record everyone's always talking about. Norah's voice has always been little more than a soft, gentle whisper with a mic in front of it. And often she seems to barely touch the piano. Her band follows this lead. Lazy isn't the right word. Maybe relaxed. It's intimate. And wonderful.

More dumbed-down "aural wallpaper" for us simpletons, then. Ignorance apparently bliss.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Lessons in publicity... and, er, Logic
What's wrong with this paragraph from an EMI press release sent out not two minutes ago?
"Kylie is not only the sexiest woman in pop music today, but also an award-winning one too!  She is currently nominated for a 2004 Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording for the single "Come Into My World," and is also nominated for a 2004 Brit Award for International Female Solo Artist of the Year."
Out of Left field
Was so caught up in Leslie Feist that I forgot to mention this.
The NDP are again the party to watch, apparently. So says John Ibbitson, at least.
Feel like you've heard that before? Well, probably because you have. A lot of people would love for the NDP to succeed, if only because it would make things a little more interesting. Well that and most of the pundits in this country are communists. (Not really.)
But it does seem like every year someone has to write the "Here comes the NDP!" story. Guess it was just Ibbitson's turn. I hear they draw straws at the Ottawa Press Club each January.
This time though there might actually be something to it. Seriously. Stop laughing.
Forget the polls. Sure they say the NDP are gaining on everybody. But they've said that before. And, well, remember how the NDP was going to be the official opposition in Ontario?
Just take note that there seems to be something of a new spirit surrounding that party. Some genuine excitement. And the folks in charge seem... bolder... or... something...
Unreliable anecdotal evidence:
A colleague of mine wrote a piece not so long ago about the NDP and how they were showing signs of life, but he also, in an offhand comment, mentioned that his 90-year-old grandfather still couldn't stand Jack Layton. Next thing he knows, the NDP is asking if he'd like to have his grandfather meet and grill Layton, while the columnist watched, to see if Layton could change his grandfather's mind.
The offer was declined, but you can't be anything but impressed by the unconventional, try-anything, audacity.
Thing is, for the first time in a long-time, the NDP can feel confident about putting their guy in a situation like that. They know he's articulate and good-natured and able to think on his feet. (Plus they've really got nothing to lose.)
I've already written about their plans to incorporate rock n' roll into the campaign (I'll reprint the column in full below). That alone won't win them too many seats. And they can chat up all the grandfather's they want, it's not going to make them the official opposition.
But if these little bits of evidence are indicative of a larger approach - bold, unconventional, excited, aggressive - it could bode well for the next federal election. Of course, as Ibbitson notes and as Dr. Dean is just now learning (too late maybe), you still have to play the game. All the bloggers in the world can't change that.
In other words, radical ideas need to be tempered with rational thinking. You don't make friends with big pieces of cheese. Or Jet Ski photo ops. Voters shouldn't be embarrassed to support you. So debate our grandfathers. Throw a rock concert or two. But be able to match wits with Martin and StronachHarperClement through the normal channels as well.
Anyway. I'm babbling about things that should be left to people like Andrew Coyne and Colby Cosh. I am but a simple-minded music critic.
So Jack Layton and rock n' roll:

Pop/rock the vote: Mixing music and partisan politics is not going to win anyone an election but, if done right, it does have the potential to make things more interesting
National Post
Monday, January 19, 2004
Page: AL3
Section: Arts & Life
Byline: Aaron Wherry
Column: On Pop
Source: National Post

The Barenaked Ladies didn't win the NDP leadership race for Jack Layton. But their involvement in his campaign, which included a benefit concert in Toronto, certainly didn't hurt.

Not entirely surprising then to learn that Canada's third party is, as one official confirmed in an interview last week, already preparing to involve rock 'n' roll in the next federal election (expected to be called later this year). And though the superficial world of rock has rarely, if ever, made nice with the equally superficial world of partisan politics in this country, there's reason to believe it could work this time around. Sort of.

First though, a lesson in how not to do things. As always when looking for such lessons, we turn to Wesley Clark.

Last week, a self-described "volunteer" with Clark's campaign for the Democratic Party nomination took to an online music industry message board to solicit the services of politically inclined rock stars (note: political inclination optional).

"Regardless of your politics, I am writing to encourage your clients to become part of [Clark's] campaign," the volunteer, identified as Chris Kelly, wrote. "Because entertainers bear considerable social influence, their participation would be invaluable. I am thus asking them to consider joining a growing number of notable members of the artistic community in offering Mr. Clark their endorsement. In doing so, their names will be added to a list that includes Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, Cher, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones."

Lenny Kravitz? And Cher? Sign. Me. Up.

The first mistake here is the admission that "regardless of politics" your involvement is important. In other words, they don't care if you have communist sympathies or think that Hitler guy wasn't all bad -- as long as you haven't been too outspoken about such leanings, they're willing to accept your cool cachet, no questions asked.

That is, generally speaking, the point here. Rock stars are cool, mostly young and generally hip. Politicians are, well, not.

The goal itself actually has merit. But, as Clark has nicely demonstrated for us, there is a wrong way to go about accomplishing it -- one that smacks of desperation and political convenience.

Elsewhere, Howard Dean's minions are so excited about their celebrity and rock star endorsements that a Web site -- www.endorsementsfordean.com -- has been set up (well to be fair, Dean's kids set up Web sites for everything including cyclistsfordean.org, dykesfordean.org and, of course, republicansfordean.org).

At the endorsements site we learn that not only have Melissa Etheridge, Joan Jett and Carly Simon jumped aboard the Dean express, but so have David Crosby and Graham Nash (Is Stephen Stills voting for Carol Moseley Braun?).

That any of the above would endorse Dean's lefty hopes and dreams is not entirely surprising. Generally speaking, all are politically inclined musicians who have made a habit of speaking out on various issues throughout their respective careers. That of course is what separates, say, Crosby from Kravitz; Dean's success on this level from Clark's abject failure (interesting note: Dean's site also claims Douglas and Zeta-Jones).

But back to Jack Layton. In hopes of building on what Layton achieved with his involvement of the Barenaked Ladies the last time around, his advisors are already putting feelers out into the music community in hopes of finding sympathetic rock stars.

The potential partners in this marriage of rock and politics are actually quite numerous. The key will be making their involvement seem sincere -- less about politics, more about genuine beliefs.

For guidance in this regard, the NDP would be well served to consider the tremendously successful "peace" concert held in Ottawa last year during Juno Awards weekend in April.

Conceived by rapper K-OS as an opportunity to protest the coming war in Iraq and raise funds for the War Child charity, the actual event was more concert than political rally. A rather incredible lineup that included Gord Downie, Sam Roberts, Sarah Slean, Buck 65, Broken Social Scene, Stars, Rascalz, Jully Black, Glenn Lewis and Jarvis Church (note to NDP: Write those names down) didn't have to browbeat the drunken audience with political vitriol. Though some opted for protest songs and the Stars' Torquil Campbell offered a particularly enraged rant about the President of the United States, most let their mere involvement in the concert speak for itself.

That of course is the trick. Politics without patronizing or pandering.

"I think the only vehicle for political change is going to vote," says Ray Manzarek, former keyboardist for the Doors. "I don't see how rock can affect the propositions on the ballot, or the list of candidates in the national election."

And he's right.

K-OS, Sam Roberts, Stars and Broken Social Scene won't single-handedly get Layton's NDP elected to a majority (or even minority) government. Nor will they do anything to affect the NDP's stance on free trade or the Canadian military. Directly, their concerts might only bring in a few thousand voters.

But that, of course, is beside the point.

Consider Bono's appearance at November's Liberal Leadership Convention. No one really remembers what he had to say (at times, he was actually quite eloquent in relating the profound plight of AIDS patients in Africa). But, for a few days at least, it made a tired, old gathering of tired, old white men almost sorta interesting.

Incorporated into the long, hard slog of a federal election campaign, the results could be more dramatic. Consider what Dean has done to his image with the young, hip Internet. Heck, look at what Layton did for his image with the sorta young, sorta hip Barenaked Ladies (Dean's Internet may prove capable of actually generating millions of new votes, but we won't know that for some time, if ever).

The larger message of mixing rock 'n' roll with your partisan politics, if done right (and incorporated properly into a much larger campaign), becomes: I am a sorta hip politician who is willing to try new, unconventional ways to get your attention and attract new, unconventional voters. This creates buzz. Buzz gets you a few magazine covers. And the next thing you know you're Pierre Trudeau.

All right. No, that's not going to happen here. But it certainly could help. Or at least not hurt.


Exit polls: sorta reliable
More or less final NH numbers from The Times.

Kerry 38.5
Dean 26.3
Clark 12.4
Edwards 12.1
Lieberman 8.6
Kucinich 1.4
Gephardt 0.2
Sharpton 0.2
Bush (???) 0.1

Note: Seems fair to assume that had Slate taken the one poll that was way out of line with the other five (the one that had Dean winning), their numbers would have been virtually identical to these. Hurrah for exit polling. Until they fuck everything up again at least.

P.S. Isn't it great when CNN cuts to Tucker Carlson four minutes before the polls close and asks for a prediction and Tucker acts like he doesn't have the exit poll numbers and is making a prediction based solely upon his own ground-level reporting? "You know, I'm going to go with my gut on this one and say Kerry." Ha. P.P.S. Who picks the music for Anderson Cooper? Tonight they led into a piece with a clip from The Hives. Sweet. P.P.P.S. What's with CNN anchors having two last names? See also: Blitzer, Wolf. P.P.P.P.S. This is the first and last time I will ever imitate Kausfiles. Promise.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

National treasure slandered by crazed talking head
These tapes of Citytv's Gord Martineau making some rather tasteless comments off air have been making the rounds. Listen Gord, mock cancer-stricken kids all you want, but when you slur the name of a Canadian rock icon like Roch Voisine... well... I think you slur the name of Canadiana itself... spit on all that we hold dear... or something like that. Roch's loyal fans (anybody? guys? a little help here?) will surely not allow this to go without retribution. Your car is so gonna get egged.
Also: Don't know how Citytv can possibly justify not punishing him for this.
But he's a general... and Michael Moore likes him... and... and...
Slate's round-up of the early exit poll numbers:
Kerry 35.8
Dean 31.1
Edwards 12.6
Clark 11.5
Lieberman 6.5

Speaking of illegal activities...
So much good stuff out there right now. If I, an upstanding and law-abiding member of society, were to download music, right now in my queue you might find new stuff from Courtney Love, Clipse, Sufjan Stevens, Mum, and Leslie Feist. Oh, and Norah.
Thanks to the mysterious Kickedboy for the Feist. Not entirely sure where the tracks came from - or even if, for that matter, they're even new - but they sound fantastic. Her voice is even better than you think. Lovely stuff. Track names include The Eastern Shore, Intuition, Leisure Suite, When I Was A Young Girl and Mushaboom - a demo that's already on Fluxblog (is that the sound of traffic in the background?).
The other great album for today does not appear to have been leaked yet - John Frusciante's Shadows Collide With People. Initial listens are proving to be rather exciting. Dreamy, ambitious, lo-fi indie rock. Some unexpected twists and turns. Not many guitar wizards possess this kind of vision. Bit of an opus (18 tracks, 64 minutes). But so far an impressive one. Where has this guy been hiding? Oh yeah... there was that bit of heroin addiction wasn't there?
Another thing about Feist. Best midriff in rock n' roll.
Bribery
"Your friends" at Universal Music Canada recently sent music writers a free $20 gift card for Puretracks.com. It would, of course, be terribly unethical for me to accept such a gift. Plus, legal downloading seems foolish when so much good stuff is available illegally. Nonetheless, this $20 shouldn't go to waste. So if you want it, drop me an e-mail with your address and I'll send it over. First come, first serve.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Wack
Should have posted this long ago. AllHipHop.com interview with Kanye:
Part One.
Part Two.
Members Only
And a shout out to you too Cal Ulmann.

Also some bits and pieces (the Post has now moved to a subscribers only set up, so it probably wouldn't be right of me to re-print here in full) on Dizzee from my Monday column:

-------------
Dizzee Rascal is among the most innovative young talents to emerge in years -- a strikingly unique and original artist who does things with hip-hop that have never been done. Or so say the music critics. Thing is, you probably won't like him. At least so say those same music critics.

"A lot of Boy will be totally incomprehensible to U.S. listeners," explains David Segal in an otherwise fawning piece in the Washington Post about the 19-year-old East London rap sensation's debut album, Boy in da Corner. "Boy is probably too exotic and too musically elemental to compete, saleswise, with the most celebrated U.S. rappers ..."

It's a funny thing to say to a reader. "Listen, this is some great music, but it's awfully difficult -- requires a trained ear -- so you probably won't understand." The written form of a nice little pat on the head.

It's also something of a pre-emptive strike (or maybe a ready-made excuse). Because as much as Dizzee's arrival on American shores -- his 2003 debut is just now being released in the United States, after a Canadian release in September -- represents an exciting opportunity for an exciting new talent, it also offers a test of critical influence. As much as Howard Dean's collapse in Iowa exposed the problematic nature of political punditry, so too might Dizzee Rascal prove that today's music criticism is, more often than not, falling upon deaf ears (a weird comparison, but a valid one as you'll see)...

... Dizzee is, as The Guardian noted soon after he took home Britain's prestigious Mercury Prize, something of a blog-made man -- much of the buzz that brought Dizzee to anyone's attention originated from blogs like Simon Reynolds' Blissblog.

Blog support does not yet amount to much, though (see Dean, Howard) -- at least beyond the underground nerds (music and otherwise) who populate the blogosphere.

For Dizzee, radio likely won't be much help Stateside either. Barring a complete revolution in the way FM radio is programmed in North America, it's difficult to see Dizzee sliding nicely between Ludacris and 50 Cent in the drive-time rotation.

And if he doesn't have radio, he likely won't have video -- MuchMusic and MTV are well past their glory days when they might have taken a chance on an artist as unique as Dizzee.

Dizzee is even holding off on a full tour. He'll play two dates in February (one in New York, the other in Toronto) but won't mount a full assault until March.

Until then critical praise will likely act in something of a vacuum. If Boy in da Corner succeeds or fails over the next month and a half, it will do so almost entirely on the pale, skinny little wings of critical influence. Which means it will likely fail (at least in the sales department).

Which brings us back to Howard Dean. As the good doctor has so far shown us, all the critical praise, magazine covers and pundit-endorsed conventional wisdom doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot when it comes time for the real people to get involved -- blogs, polls and pundits are not nearly as important as what real people think.

All of which prompted Paul Wells (late of this paper, now writing and blogging for Macleans) to conclude the following about himself and his fellow political pundits: "Fortunately, nobody cares what we think. Fortunately, we never notice that part either."

Should, despite effusive praise from America's most-revered critics writing in such publications as Slate, Time, USA Today, The New York Times, Spin, Entertainment Weekly and the Village Voice, Dizzee Rascal fail to register with real people, what else can we conclude but that "nobody cares what we think?"...

... What Dizzee will likely prove, much like fellow British rap sensation The Streets maybe already confirmed last year when he attempted the same sort of thing, is that the average reader long ago stopped listening to the average music critic. And the fact that music critics, a rather inward-looking, skinny, pale bunch by nature, who can be tremendously serious about their work (stop by the Yahoo! Cancrit messageboard sometime and delight at the navel-gazing), haven't yet realized this, tells us everything we need to know about why....
-------------
So yesterday
Well my piece for the Post detailing how Dizzee's arrival will act as a referendum of sorts on critical influence hasn't yet hit the streets (will reprint here later), but apparently I'm already behind the curve on the Dizzee backlash:
The Hip-Hop Libertarian says: "From what I have heard from Dizzee so far I am not convinced of his status of best British MC ever."
And something Gwai Lo found: "Have to say, I'm not sure it justifies all the hype."

Full disclosure: I'm not terribly in love with Boy in da Corner either. I'm impressed by it. But I don't really like it. Big difference. And after listening again to The Streets' Original Pirate Material this weekend, I think I like it a lot more (but, oddly enough, not as much as I remember liking it).

Sunday, January 25, 2004

We're all turning Jacko-Nese
Robert Fulford surely has more important things to think about (as do we all I hope), but even he is drawn to Michael Jackson. That's got to say something about Jacko's abilities as an entertainer:

"Exuberant star egos are excused and celebrated everywhere, so Jackson carries self-intoxication to new levels. At Santa Maria he became possibly the first accused felon in history to celebrate his charges. He blew kisses to a crowd he had recruited, danced on top of his SUV, and invited his fans to a post-arraignment party at his ranch. (The fans sang his songs and chanted "We love you, Michael.")... For my part, I've found the story riveting as well as appalling and expect to follow much more of it. How, in fact, could anyone not be fascinated by such a revealing glimpse of human life at the beginning of the 21st century?"

Also, a brief history of Wacko Jacko (cribbed from Salon.com by some jerk at the Post):

Wacko Jacko -- the derogatory tabloid title of choice that has reportedly been known to make Michael Jackson cry -- is now believed to be the work of Australian writer Tim Ward.
According to some "exhaustive research" on the part of Salon.com, the term first made an appearance in print on Aug. 7, 1986, in a 1,040-word story Ward wrote for The Courier-Mail in Brisbane.
Under the headline "Is Jacko Wacko?" Ward called Jackson the "Howard Hughes of pop ... wacko Jacko." A year later, in a Sept. 12, 1987, piece, Robert Hilburn -- from London -- wrote in the Los Angeles Times that Jackson's "much-publicized eccentricities have caused writers here to dub him 'Wacko Jacko.' "
The term had apparently become so popular that, a month later, Australia's Sydney Morning Herald pleaded with critics to cease and desist because "Jackson says he cries 'very, very often' because of the attacks."
In recent years, the term has been taken to new heights by the New York Post. Well beyond the parameters of good taste, the Post has adapted "Wacko Jacko" to create whole new words including smacko, sicko, jerk-o and attacko. A sampling of some of Salon's favourite Post headlines:
"Lawyers Want Jacko Wrapo"
"We Didn't Smacko Jacko, Say Calif. Cops"
"Cancelled Jacko Back On Tracko"
"Lisa Marie: Jacko A Sacko Wacko"
"Turning Jacko-Nese"
"Afro Jacko Goes Retro"
"I've Been Hi-Jacko-ed: Michael: 'Unfair' Show Betrayed Me"
"Jacko KO's Nose Woes: Face In Place After Bizarre Court Scene"
"Promoter: Jacko Is A Jerk-o"
"Jacko Got Off-Tracko, Rev. Al Says"
"Rev. Al Takes A Whacko At Jacko"
"Jacko On Attacko -- Gloved One Gets Angry On Bizarre Bus Tour"
"Prof. Jacko Lectures On Kids Tomorrow At Oxford"
"Splitso For Jacko"
"Bonds Could Raise $100M To Backo Jacko."
The Pope is dope
To review: The Pope does not endorse Mel Gibson's Passion. But he does endorse Polish break dancing.
Whatever you want to hear...
That this story about Wesley Clark would eventually come to light seemed inevitable. Good to see Evan Thomas at Newsweek beating everyone else to it.
Eye of the beholder (get it?)
I didn't participate in this year's Eye Weekly national music critics poll. I make it a habit to avoid these sorts of things. If only because in the critics listing my name would be right beside Bill Welychka.
Nonetheless, my lack of participation means that I can now playa hate from the sidelines - one of my favourite activities. First the charts, then some chat:

BEST SINGLES
1 OUTKAST "Hey Ya!" 2973 (32)
2 BEYONCE FEAT. JAY-Z "Crazy In Love" 1542 (17)
3 THE WHITE STRIPES "Seven Nation Army" 1013 (11)
4 50 CENT "In Da Club" 546 (6)
5 YEAH YEAH YEAHS "Date with the Night" 459 (5)
6 STARS "Elevator Love Letter" 450 (5)
7 THE STROKES "12:51" 409 (5)
8 JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE "Cry Me a River" 395 (5)
9 NICK CAVE "Babe, I'm On Fire" 377 (4)
10 THE STILLS "Still in Love Song" 376 (4)
11 THE POSTAL SERVICE "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" 374 (4)
12 THE DEARS "Lost in the Plot" 363 (4)
13 SLOAN "The Rest of My Life" 269 (3)
14 SEAN PAUL "Get Busy" 268 (3)
15 BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE "Stars and Sons" 267 (3)

BEST ALBUMS
1 CONSTANTINES Shine a Light 1259 (15)
2 THE WHITE STRIPES Elephant 1101 (12)
3 OUTKAST Speakerboxxx/The Love Below 957 (11)
4 THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS Electric Version 902 (11)
5 METRIC Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? 778 (8)
6 DIZZEE RASCAL Boy In Da Corner (9)
7 THE DEARS No Cities Left (8)
8 STARS Heart 705 (8)
9 MANITOBA Up In Flames 684 (8)
10 JIM GUTHRIE Now, More Than Ever 677 (8)
11 THE SHINS Chutes Too Narrow 597 (7)
12 THE HIDDEN CAMERAS The Smell of Our Own 596 (7)
13 CAT POWER You Are Free 592 (7)
14 RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Want One 554 (6)
15 BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE You Forgot It In People 463 (5)
16 DEERHOOF Apple O' 461 (5)
17 BUCK 65 Talkin' Honky Blues 444 (5)
18 CALEXICO Feast of Wire 434 (5)
19 THE UNICORNS Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone? 426 (5)
20 RADIOHEAD Hail to the Thief 417 (5)
21 SLOAN Action Pact 395 (5)
22 MOGWAI Happy Songs for Happy People 373 (4)
23 BLUR Think Tank 370 (4)
24 LHASA The Living Road 361 (4)
25 THE POSTAL SERVICE Give Up 360 (4)
26 JOE STRUMMER AND THE MESCALEROS Streetcore 355 (4)
27 THE STROKES Room on Fire 355 (4)
28 LIGHTNING BOLT Wonderful Rainbow 344 (4)
29 ROBERT WYATT Cuckooland 336 (4)
30 BELLE & SEBASTIAN Dear Catastrophe Waitress 325 (4)

Thoughts
-The point system used here doesn't make any sense (critics list their top ten albums/singles, then assign scores to each out of 100). Seems far too arbitrary. Why not just awards ten points for a first place nomination, nine for second, etc? Anyway, debating the scientific nature of a critics poll is rather silly, no?
-Sloan?
-Nick Cave's Babe, I'm on Fire the ninth best single of the year? OutKast's The Way You Move not even ranked?
-Seven of the top albums were made by Canadians, apparently. Do music critics in Sweden do this for their own too? Fill their Top Ten lists full of Swedes the rest of the world only sorta cares about?
-Surprising, given the Vive Le Canada! nature of it all, not to see The Weakerthans.
-We all love Broken Social Scene. But it's a 2002 release. Come now. It's time to move on.
-Does anyone like hip-hop? Anybody? Bubba Sparxxx? Jay-Z? Enh?
-Sloan?
-The anti-White Stripes rhetoric in the actual issue of Eye (the one with the very smart cover that imagines OutKast as Jack and Meg) is rather amusing. Richard Moule of London's Scene needs to get out more.
-Bill Welychka admits that the Johnny Cash video for Hurt makes him cry. Everything on MuchMoreMusic makes me cry.
-Ben Rayner: "Has anyone actually listened to OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below more than once? Audacity doesn't mean shit when you forget to bring the tunes."
-Why so much hate for 50 Cent? Tab Siddiqui outright dismisses him. And he finished second in the "Can't Believe The Hype!" section. I understand lots of people like him. But that doesn't mean you can't like him. Honest. Give it a try sometime.
-Same goes for fellow CBTH nominees: The Darkness and The White Stripes. Why? WHY?! Why, must otherwise smart people hate things simply because lots of other people love them?
-Of course the Stripes also get nominations for best artist (#2) and best video (#3).
-Sloan?
-Also: what my ballot would have looked like, with appropriate points assigned:
1. White Stripes, Elephant (1,748,912)
2. Radiohead, Hail to the Thief (1,479,206)
3. The Strokes, Room on Fire (1,233,656.5)
4. OutKast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (Yo Sweet Ass)
5. Jay-Z, The Black Album (9,999)
6. Junior Senior, D-D-Don't Stop The Beat (75,000,000,000,000,000)
7. The Mars Volta, De-Loused in the Comatorium (Pie)
8. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell (O)
9. Hawksley Workman, Lover/ Fighter (15)
10. 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin' (9)
Music critic ponders murder
Sometimes I wish Ben Rayner would write more about music. Not because I don't like his non-music offerings, but because I think this country is often lacking in thoughtful music criticism. Ben's latest - on wanting to strangle people.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Ryan Malcolm Disaster Watch, Week Six
Our dear Canadian Idol, after a mere six weeks, is down to 32 on the SoundScan charts. In review then:
Week One - #4
Week Two - #10
Week Three - #17
Week Four - #23
Week Five - #25
Week Six - #32
The best part of that wonderful Macleans story I've linked to:
"After a couple of pints, Canadian Idol's nasty judge, Zack Werner, admits he hasn't listened to Malcolm's album. 'I don't f---ing care,' he says. While he's proud of the show and was moved by the Canadian Idol experience, he doesn't give the participants much respect. The talent manager liked only two of the singers, signed none and thinks the rest (including Malcolm) should know 'they're contestants, not Coldplay.'"
Just go...
Here. Now.
Dear Peter Soumalias & Conan O'Brien in Toronto organizers...
We know Nickelback and The Barenaked Ladies are fine Canadian musical acts, certainly worth of inclusion in Late Night's Toronto week celebrations. But we would be most appreciative if you could find time to also feature our beloved Broken Social Scene.

Thank you very much in advance for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Everyone.
XOXO

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Who gives a fuck about Lester Bangs?
Jeff Chang has a nice piece on Dizzee Rascal's Boy in da Corner (just now being released in the United States).
Chang's piece, appearing officially in The Village Voice, should mark the start of renewed interested in English hip-hop's latest boy wonder. Blogs, as noted earlier, have been all over the kid for sometime now. And American critics, if only amongst themselves, have had plenty of time to pontificate on his relative genius. Now those critics get a chance to impart their advance knowledge upon the American public (is there anything critics love more than imparting their knowledge upon others?). Not that any real people are going to pay it all much attention.
In that regard I tend to agree with Sasha Frere-Jones, who said (on Slate), Dizzee "seems a contender for permanently well-known unknown in the States..."
This certainly ain't Jay-Z. Or 50. Or Em. Or Pac. Or, well, anyone really... at least anyone you've heard before.
Frere-Jones calls it, among other things, "abrasive, energetic music [that] doesn't fit easily in any American genre." That's a conservative assessment - one he expands on it great detail later (Fried ice cream? Nice).
In Britain it seems a wonderful evolution of the garage/grime scene. Here it sounds downright alien.
The hip-hop community won't know what to do with him (something Chang is already trying to combat). Radio won't be able to squeeze this in between Ludacris and 50.
It's too jagged. Too spikey and furious. Plus he talks kinda funny. It just won't sell (please... PLEASE!... prove me wrong). Dizzee Rascal will not appear on VH1's Big in '04. He'll be lucky to crack the Billboard 40 (again, by all means, feel free to prove me wrong). Lots of skinny white kids with Radiohead t-shirts will rush out and buy this record (if they haven't already bought the import). Otherwise. Well, in this case, there probably won't be much of an otherwise.
All of which makes it worth considering that Paul Wells comment again - "Fortunately, nobody cares what we think. Fortunately, we never notice that part either."
Dizzee Rascal's arrival on our shores seems a good chance to test critical influence - if not blog influence (shit, isn't that what they said about the Internet and Howard Dean's performance in Iowa?).
Music critics love to talk about their own profession (I would argue more so than any of their writing peers in political, sports, science, health, business, etc). Conceivably this is because they take their jobs very seriously. Conceivably this is because their jobs are very important. Conceivably this is because they hold great authority and influence in the world of music - people listen to what they have to say.
So if Dizzee doesn't sell... (gulp) does that mean no one was listening?... (shudder) Does that mean no one cares what we think?... does... does that mean we aren't all that important?
No. No. It's too horrible a thought to consider. Quickly. Banish it from your thoughts. Go back to debating the merits of this year's Da Capo collection. And curl up with your dog-eared copy of the latest Lester Bangs' anthology. Maybe throw on some Kid A. Everything's going to be ok... everything's going to be ok.... Dizzee's going to sell a million records... then they'll see... oh yeah... then they'll see...
Why Lauryn? Why?
So just after you've gotten to love the Kanye album, he goes and changes it. Home, My Way, Keep The Receipt, and The Good, The Bad, The Ugly are all out. And Lauryn Hill has decided to block use of a sample from her Mystery of Inequity on West's All Falls Down (erroneous identified by at least one idiot blogger as Self-Conscious). Some new tracks are in, and Syleena Johnson is now singing the Hill hook.
Guess Lauryn's making enough money selling autographed pictures of herself for $500 on her website.
The Sun would call it Rouse-ing
Maybe five or six years ago, Josh Rouse played The Embassy in London, Ontario. He was third on a bill that included Juliana Hatfield (who would manage to screw up the chords to her one big hit, Spin the Bottle) and Hayden, who was, at that time at least, being hailed as something of a genius - Canada's Beck or something like that. Rouse was a boyish, short-haired, alt. country singer/songwriter who could sorta sound like Thom Yorke, sorta (upon further review this seemed an aberration - blame the Embassy beer). He was promoting an album called Dressed Up Like Nebraska. Copies of it were available for ten bucks at the merch table. He sat on his stool, played his guitar and all of about eight people seemed to take notice.
Last night, Josh Rouse played The Phoenix in Toronto. He was second on a bill that included The Jayhawks. Hayden was there too. In the audience. Now two years removed from his last studio album. And, oh, about a million light-years removed from the public consciousness. Rouse, meanwhile, has grown his hair long (still looks awfully boyish though) and just recently released his fifth album. Like the rest it's been met with critical acclaim. Unlike the rest, it is based in the soul, funk and pop music of the early 1970s - 1972 to be exact (that year serves as the title and concept of said record). It's maybe his best work to date. In addition to the hair, he's also grown an affinity for this little half leg kick he does when playing electric, like a wee kid who really has to pee. And he's touring with a full band these days. All of which seemed to go over well. Few more people to see him this time. Maybe even a hundred. Some of whom seemed to have shown up specifically to see him.
The moral of our little story: Hayden should record a cover of Spin the Bottle.
Avril and Chantal and Ben and Raine and, er, Butch?
**AVRIL UPDATE**
Oh imagine the parties they're having at Avril Lavigne's place in Los Angeles.

1:15pm: Chantal Kreviazuk comes over with some chai tea latte, they sit and discuss how dreamy Raine Maida looks with his shirt off. Then they write a song about how he dreamy he is, entitled, "Rainey Day."
2:37pm: Fallen (get it?) Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody comes over, they discuss God and how much he, like, sucks. Avril says she'd like totally like to be like Amy Lee, but like Ben says that like he's like the only reason anyone cares about Amy Lee. They both decide that like Amy Lee totally sucks. And like Avril is going to be like sooo much better than Evanescence ever was.
4:43pm: Butch Walker from Marvelous 3 stops by. Nobody's quite sure who he is.
4:46pm: Producer Don Gilmore stops in and explains how he gets every Linkin Park song to sound exactly the same
6:29pm: The Sum 41 guys come by. Fart. Leave.
7:58pm: Raine Maida, shirtless, his hair dripping wet from the rain (though it appears to be cloudless and dry outside) swoops in and removes his sunglasses. He announces that he just stepped in a puddle and now knows how Jesus felt when he walked on water. He passes around a detailed thesis, written completely in Pig Latin, that condemns America's imperialist destiny as it pertains to the post-Cold War world. Maida then climbs atop the living room coffee table where he strikes an inspirational pose. Chantal and Avril hurry to convert his inspirational powers into perfect three and a half minute pop songs.
10:36pm: Raine leads everyone in a closing hymn of "We Are All Innocent."
11:15pm: Bedtime.

Feck. Can't wait for that record.
Paul Martin's favourite magazine
For all the music magazines currently sliding into Maxim hell, Vibe remains a consistently interesting read. And it loves Canadian indie rock survivors. Or, well, at least Julie Doiron.
In it's Vibe Raters section (basically the staff's current listening), beside mentions of Chuck D, Pac, 50, Obie and the like, the former Eric's Trip bassist Doiron is sighted as a "Folkie Billie Holiday." Alright, Dokken also gets a mention, but let's not let that detract from the main point here... that being that... uh... hmm... Julie Doiron... is... bigger than we think?
Actually, she's quite big in Japan. Also: her husband, John Claytor, will have an exhibit of paintings at Ingram Gallery in Toronto from Mar. 4 until Mar. 20.

Also worth the $5.50 cover price this month: G Unit profile, speed dating feature with Obie Trice and a candid (maybe too candid?) discussion with several black pro athletes about women on the road and the Kobe Bryant trial that includes this exchange:

LaVar Arrington: I'm just being real. I think it's very overrated for people to say athletes treat women any kind of way. I think women let themselves be treated the way they're treated.
Chris McAlister: We only treat them like they want to be treated.

Sigh.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Also...
To that theory of why The Darkness are so popular of late, you might as well add Junior Senior.

Monday, January 19, 2004

A Wiseth Man Doth Saidth Unto Thee
"Fortunately, nobody cares what we think. Fortunately, we never notice that part either." Sure he's talking about political reporters. But he might as well be talking about music critics.
Frankenstein Wins In Iowa
John Kerry has taken round one. Howard Dean a distant third. Good luck with that Democrats.
In other news from the doomed left-wing, NDP leader Jack Layton plans to incorporate rock and/or roll into the next federal election campaign. Oddly enough, this jerk at the Post thinks it might just work.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Blue Cheese
Avril Lavigne discusses her new album with Entertainment Weekly (via PopDirt):
"We aimed to get more catchy ones, but not cheesy pop like some songs off the last record. As soon as I got home from my tour, I was like, 'Oh, my God, I need to write!' So I got together with Chantal Kreviazuk. We're, like, best friends. And we'd go get a chai tea latte and write a song together every night for two weeks in a row. We had so much fun, because I didn't tell my manager or record company."
Thoughts:
1) You don't want cheesy pop songs. So you're working with Chantal Kreviazuk who once penned the lyrics, "But ever since I met you on a cloudy Monday, I can't believe how much I love the rain" (her husband's name is Raine... get it?... sigh). I see you've thought this through.
2) Chantal Kreviazuk - one minutes she's saving the children of Iraq from American imperialism, the next minute she's saving the children (er, child?) of Napanee from The Matrix. She's like Mother Theresa.
3) "We had so much fun, because I didn't tell my manager or record company." At what point do we consider her recording contract a passive aggressive form of child abuse? Last year, interviewing Avril in the midst of her American tour was like sneaking a quick conversation with a resident of Camp X-Ray. She actually had to whisper at one point - so as to avoid being overheard by her handlers - to explain that they were making her work on her day off.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

The Dark At The End Of The Tunnel
That's more than enough hip-hop for one lame white suburbanite from southwestern Ontario... back to the rock n' roll: specifically, The Darkness.
Has anyone yet written the piece that argues The Darkness' ever-surging popularity is symptomatic of a general malaise with irony, sarcasm, cynicism and post-9/11 angst? Lead singer Justin Hawkins, he of the trademark falsetto (and equally trademarkable unitard), thinks its actually symptomatic of rabies. Noel Gallagher (whose own band is falling apart, again), well, he's just confused.
Last week, after months of ever-increasing attention on radio and the nation's poor excuse for a music station, scalpers at their Toronto show were asking five times the advertised price (scalpers hadn't had this much fun since Duran Duran was here).
From the stage it was announced the band's debut album, Permission to Land, after months of hanging around the charts, had just recently gone gold in Canada (50,000 copies - to be fair, there is some degree of debate over their certification, but anyway...).
At first, all of this Up With Darkness! talk seems curious. For one, the whole act still seems like it could be one big joke (like, say, George W. Bush). Second, they sound like AC/DC fronted by Freddie Mercury - not exactly a combination that one would expect to make much of an impact on rock radio in the time of Nickelback, Creed, Our Lady Peace, Linkin Park and all the other sad souls still chasing Kurt Cobain's ghost. Third, they're British. And, well, that doesn't generally play too well in these parts (see: well, everyone except Coldplay).
On the other side of the ledger are all the reasons The Darkness should be paraded through the streets like the snaggly-toothed gods they are.
First, kick ass songs. Seriously. Admit it. Get Your Hands Off My Woman is kicking your ass right now isn't it? I Believe In A Thing Called Love? Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline with louder guitars. Great pop songs. It's a ridiculous concept, but it might just work.
Second, remember AC/DC's performance at SARStock? Sure, the Rolling Stones were there (in body, if not actually fully in spirit), but all anyone could talk about afterwards was how hard AC/DC had kicked everyone's asses (see above point). Even Paul Wells, who was really just there to see Rush, had to concede AC/DC's obvious triumph. The lesson to be learned: Do not underestimate the power of having what our beer-drinking friends who haven't yet moved out of the frat house call "good times."
Which brings us to the biggest thing working in The Darkness' favour - a complete lack of sarcasm, irony, cynicism, and angst. With The Darkness, unlike maybe any other band on the planet other than the aforementioned AC/DC, there are no questions about credibility or authenticity or contribution to the great rock pantheon. No one cares about their influences. No one cares if their entire act is stolen from a dozen other acts. Even the small matter of irony - ie. are they for real? - seems to have become a moot point.
The Darkness are, plain and simple, about topless air guitaring in your living room at three in the morning (please shut the drapes next time neighbour guy). The Darkness: are fun (like blur: are shite, only better).
Fun. That's it. Remember fun? Yeah, me neither.
There's no agenda. Nothing to debate with your friends while you sip red wine and quote Chomsky. Just fun. Something most of us probably haven't experienced in years.
Which reminds me of The Simpsons (does a blog become a man the first time it quotes The Simpsons?). Nothing lampooned the Age of Irony and Sarcasm quite like a scene from the Homerpalooza episode involving two disaffected youths:
Teen1: Oh, here comes that cannonball guy. He's cool.
Teen2: Are you being sarcastic, dude?
Teen1: I don't even know anymore.

Anyway. The Darkness. It's as if the fantastically named Teen1 went home after Homerpalooza, lay in bed all night and realized he was sick of trying so hard to be witty. Sick of trying to be "smarter" than everyone else. So he grew his hair long. Moved to Britain. Stopped brushing his teeth. Bought some Twisted Sister and Thin Lizzy records. And started, ya know, enjoying life for a change.
That Teen1 was Justin Hawkins. True story.
Lastly (sorry couldn't help but at least attempt some critical thought), a couple questions that may or may not be answered with quotes from Noam Chomsky:
1) Why hasn't this worked as well for Andrew WK?
2) Where do The Darkness go from here?
Updates
By "idiocy" below I clearly meant "misguided notions of empowerment and success."
Also: Dizzee Rascal - The Blog-Made Star (via Slate)
Also: Fidel Castro - Possibly Dead

Friday, January 16, 2004

Also featuring Dilated Peoples
How hot is Kanye West right now? This morning Capitol Records sent out a press release concerning the new Dilated Peoples record. Or maybe it was a release about Kanye West. Tough to say. Apparently Kanye guests on the album's first single - This Way. For the record, Dilated Peoples are referred to, by name, exactly five times in the release. Kanye: also five times.
Kanye has the hottest single (Through The Wire) this side of Hey Ya! despite the fact that it's just him mumbling over a Chaka Khan sample. And, oh yeah, his album isn't even out yet.
Those who have heard College Dropout (psst... it might have already been leaked), may or may not realize that it's likely to go down as one of the most compelling hip-hop releases of the year. As Sasha Frere-Jones noted during a recent conversation - this is conscious rap that isn't afraid to indulge in the sins of the flesh. This is conscious rap that doesn't get bogged down in self-righteousness; conscious rap that actually sounds good. In short, it's smart without being lame.
Jay-Z rhymed on Moment of Clarity:
If skills sold, truth be told, I'd probably be
lyrically, Talib Kweli
Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense
But I did five mill' - I ain't been rhymin like Common since

The basic idea being that Common's conscious rap won't sell records. Kanye West, with the backing of Jay's Roc-A-Fella, may (still way too early to say for sure) prove that theory wrong.
In Kanye's case, the insight is almost subversive - almost hidden within the type of beats and hit-making production you'd expect from a Jay-Z record.
Jesus Walks is nearly good enough to make you forget you're bobbing your head to a song about one man's struggle with his own spirituality. Self-Conscious, built upon a Lauryn Hill sample (remember her? yeah, me neither), is arguably as catchy as Through The Wire but manages to drop words like:
The prettiest people do the ugliest things,
for the road to riches and diamond rings.
We shine because they hate us, floss cos they degrade us.
We trying to buy back out forty acres.
And for that paper look how low we stoop.
Even if you in a Benz,
you still a nigga in a coup...

We buy our way outta jail,
But we can't buy freedom.
We buy a lot of clothes,
but we don't really need them.
Things we buy to cover up what's inside.
Cos they make us hate ourselves,
and love their wealth.

Nelly take note. Kanye basically just took everything you're about and laid bare it's ridiculousness (not that there isn't a time and place for a little Nelly).
Thing is, Kanye isn't afraid to admit his own involvement in the idiocy.
I ain't gonna act holier-than-thou...
We all self-conscious,
I'm just the first to admit it

But he's still got room in his heart for Dirt McGirt and a little Slow Jam (the second single) w/ Twista and Jamie Foxx.
No, he can't quite rhyme with Eminem or Jay yet (let's not forget, this is his debut). But who can. I'll still stand by the brilliance of say:
I drink a Boost for breakfast,
an Ensure for dessert
Somebody order pancakes,
I just sip the sizzurp

Alright. Maybe not quite "brilliance" but...

The problem with a lot of conscious rap is that, well, it sounds like conscious rap. So what if somebody made a conscious record that actually sounded, uh, good. Arguably this is what Jay-Z and a lot of other guys have been flirting with for awhile now. Listen to Kanye's Self-Conscious, then read Jay's first comments from Elizabeth Mendez Berry's Village Voice interview. Then go listen to Missy's Wake Up. Notice anything?
College Dropout begins with a sample of the Graduation Song. Maybe this is the sound of hip-hop moving on...

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Brooklyn Stand Up
At the end of his Madison Square Garden farewell show, Jay-Z said he was doing his best to bring the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn. According to, well, a lot of people, he is indeed a man of his word.
This just in... hip-hop?
Both of Canada's national newspapers discussing hip-hop? On the exact same day? Gotta be a first for everything, I suppose. Of course both pieces were written by white guys, but, hey... baby steps...
Carl Wilson's is here.
A piece by some jerk at the Post can be found here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Well If Lenny Kravitz Says So
Yet another reason to vote for anyone but Wesley Clark. This from the Velvet Rope message board. First, note that one's actual politics aren't important. Second, note the esteemed list of current supporters. Third, aren't you just asking for trouble when you post your phone number on a message board?

To the managers, agents, and publicists of this country,

The presidential candidacy of Wesley Clark represents the Democratic Party's best chance to unseat George W. Bush in the coming presidential election. Regardless of your politics, I am writing to encourage your clients to become part of his campaign.

A relative newcomer to the field of candidates, Mr. Clark has, in four months, amassed the degree of popular support that required a year of campaigning from his Democratic opponents. A four star NATO commander with proven international leadership skills and integrity, Clark is the only Democratic candidate with the credentials and experience to win the support of the nation in a general election.

Because entertainers bear considerable social influence, their participation would be invaluable. I am thus asking them to consider joining a growing number of notable members of the artistic community in offering Mr. Clark their endorsement. In doing so, their names will be added to a list that includes Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, Cher, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

I am neither an aspiring politician nor a professional campaign worker. I am offering my experience and potential contacts in the entertainment industry (I have worked for Island/Def-Jam, Spin, and others) to Wesley Clark's campaign on a volunteer basis, because I believe the stakes in this election are too high to risk inaction.

We are currently planning a large concert/event to be staged at an NYC venue in February, 2004. If any of your clients are interested and available, their participation would be welcomed. If they are unable to donate their time but support our cause, we would be thrilled to include their name on our list of notables endorsing Mr. Clark's candidacy.

Please contact me at your earliest convenience to discuss this further; my mobile number is 917-306-6996.


Respectfully yours,

Chris Kelly
Clark for 2004
For Fuck's Sake
FCC Chairman Michael Powell is looking to ban the dreaded f-word from America's airwaves, regardless of context. This comes in reaction to an earlier FCC decision that Bono's use of the word during the Golden Globe Awards was not indecent. How do you think dinner time conversations go at the Powell residence?
Michael: Today I banned the f-word.
Colin: That's nice. Today, while still recovering from prostate surgery and in between negotiations with Libya and North Korea concerning their nuclear weapons programs, I took a few moments to discuss the future of Iran with the Ayatollah and prepared to welcome a delegation from India that will be in Washington to discuss that country's latest deal with Pakistan.
Spend your money on this instead...
Quietly sort-of announced: Dizzee Rascal plays Toronto in February. February 5 to be exact. At the Mod Club. Interesting to see what North American audiences will make of him. He's already been featured prominently in The New York Times (that's gotta be worth something, right? guys? anybody?). But worth considering how little of an impression The Streets made on this side of the pond (aside from the usual array of writers and critics, this one included).
Rock for Dummies
Can't fault Rolling Stone's Karen Bliss for trying to make a buck, but this seems sort of ridiculous. Everything you need to know to become Coldplay in less than three hours? If only. These types of cash grabs are offered all the time during Canadian Music Week, North By Northeast, and the like. Hapless hacks throw down their hard-earned beer money and figure some expert is going to tell them how to become The Beatles. Pure speculation: how many multi-platinum bands discovered the key to their success in one of these classes? Also: shouldn't Ryan Adams be teaching the part about "dealing effectively with criticism?"

Monday, January 12, 2004

Hullo. Welcome to the machine.

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