Tuesday, January 30, 2007

When The Man Comes Around
J.D. Considine. Feb. 19, 2003.
"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. Jan. 30, 2006.
"Because her critics tend to disparage her less for what she is than what she isn't -- to wit, a traditional jazz singer -- the backlash against Norah Jones must seem a bit nitpicky to those who buy Jones's albums simply because they like the way they sound. If her records sound good, who cares what pigeonhole they're shoved into?"

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Never Hear The End Of It
Well, this could be entertaining. Pitchfork has rendered judgement on the new k-os record and, somewhat unsurprisingly, their reviewer is not impressed.

"True to its highfalutin title, Atlantis: Hymns for Disco is a conceptual piece, a melodious corrective to two-plus years of ostensible media falsities about its author. In this light, Atlantis resembles De La Soul's sophomore detour De La Soul Is Dead, on which the MTV darlings and granola-rap progenitors attempted to shed the D.A.I.S.Y. Age warmup gear and make an early-career three-point turn. Yet while De La Soul Is Dead showcased the trio's newfound industry-related bitterness, on Atlantis, K-Os goes in the other direction; regressing further into hippiedom, and neglecting to answer his critics in lieu of spiritual posturing...

"I'm trying to be unapologetic about the rules I break," K-Os claims on his website, before explaining that "most revolutionary art ends up provoking classic ideals and it is these same classic ideals that become prisons if they go unchallenged." While not clearing up the jumbled messages of Atlantis, this quote underscores its central contradiction, and the most troubling aspect of K-Os' public persona: the friction between progressive ambition and conservative output. Unfortunately, it's an issue that K-Os recognizes, but sees no need to resolve."

Oh snap. There's even some vague stabs at questioning whether it counts as rap (which comes close to questioning whether it's hip-hop, which totally pisses k-os off).

A Pitchfork/k-os war could be pretty phenomenal. And we do need something to pass the time while we wait for that Arcade Fire record. (Speaking of which, did we all agree that we're going to kill that record when it comes out? What did we decide at the last meeting?)

Anyway. This is really just an excuse for me to recount the NOW/k-os war, which was just about the most entertaining thing to happen in music last year.

Prologue: NOW reviews k-os' Joyful Rebellion, angering k-os immeasurably. Later, k-os speculates a reviewer at Eye magazine may be an "asshole."
Act 1: NOW reviews Atlantis: Hymns for Disco.
Act 2: k-os uses his MySpace page to call the reviewer an Uncle Tom. The comment is quickly deleted and k-os tells fans he is seeking counselling.
Act 3: NOW mocks k-os.
Act 4: Canadian rocker Danko Jones writes NOW to criticize k-os and take a bizarre swipe at Broken Social Scene.
Act 5: k-os compares NOW reviewer to Gary Coleman's character of Diff'rent Strokes and refers to Danko Jones as "Stanko Jones."
Act 6: Danko calls k-os a "half-wit."
Act 7: NOW reviewer and k-os discuss their differences, come to unsatisfying conclusion.
Act 8: During a concert, k-os declares "Fuck NOW magazine."
Act 9: NOW questions hip-hop's relationship with public criticism.
Act 10: k-os claims the whole dispute distracted everyone from the point. "The real story is about two kids—who basically think a lot alike, are of the same culture—who have been duped into putting on a boxing match instead of dealing with the real issue. Which is, can hip-hop be expanded?”
Epilogue: Months later, k-os is at peace. Or something.

"I consider myself a disciple of truth and reality, and I think that why K-OS is an interesting character is because he has a lot of metaphysical, spiritual aspirations. But yet he's pretty much caught in a worldly way of thinking. I wish and I hope that I could just maybe, on a good day, spend more time trying to control my thoughts and understand how I feel as a person instead of worrying about, you know, how many "Ns" I get in the Now Magazine or what someone says about me or if my videos are in heavy rotation. Fuck all that."

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Medium, The Message And Other Crap Theories
I quite like Leslie Feist. I also enjoy the music of Serena Ryder. And yet, I was not prepared for them to become THE SAME FUCKING PERSON.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Indie Rock Feud Revealed!
Does Owen Pallett secretly hate Win Butler? Note the third last picture here.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Best Idea I've Had So Far This Year
Why didn't Boney M's masterful Ra-Ra-Rasputin (1) inspire more dance pop celebrations of great figures in Russian history. The possibilites seem endless.

I-I-Ivan (The Great)
I-I-Ivan (The Terrible)

I could go on, but you get the point. I really think this could work. Would someone please start a mildly scary Eurodance group and get this done? Maybe the Scissor Sisters could help.

(1) Frank Farian will probably never be inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame but he obviously should be. Boney M, alone, are better than 37% of the bands currently inducted, but Farian also gave us Milli Vanilli who are wrongly remembered as the worst thing in the history of popular music. For one thing, Milli Vanilli are not the worst thing in the history of popular music. That title obviously belongs to Joanna Newsom. For another, Milli Vanilli was actually a pretty remarkable achievement. Think about it. Frank Farian took two mildly weird looking European dudes, dressed them in ridiculous outfits, made them do silly dances and mime pop songs actually sung by studio musicians... and turned them into one of the 1980s most successful acts. Girl You Know It's True sold something like seven million copies and had three number one singles (Girl I'm Gonna Miss You, Baby Don't Forget My Number, Blame It On The Rain) and won them a Grammy. The essential fraud of Milli Vanilli doesn't make their success less impressive - it makes their success more impressive.

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