Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Michaelangelo Matos, your Pazz & Jop ballot has been entered:

1. M.I.A., Arular (XL) 23 points [#2]
2. The Hold Steady, Separation Sunday (Frenchkiss) 22 points [#8]
3. The Mountain Goats, The Sunset Tree (4AD) 20 points [#29]
4. Kanye West, Late Registration (Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam) 5 points [#1]
5. A Frames, Black Forest (Sub Pop) 5 points [#232]
6. DJ Koze, Kosi Comes Around (Kompakt) 5 points [#298]
7. The Go-Betweens, Oceans Apart (Yep Roc) 5 points [#64]
8. Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits (Next Plateau/Universal) 5 points [one vote]
9. Kiki & Herb Will Die for You (Evolver) 5 points [#327]
10. Run the Road (Vice/679) 5 points [#52]

1. Three 6 Mafia ft. Young Buck, Eightball & MJG, "Stay Fly" (Hypnotize Minds/Columbia) [#10]
2. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, “How Long Do I Have to Wait for You?” (Daptone) [#183]
3. The Legendary K.O., “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People” (MP3) [#15]
4. Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, "Welcome to Jamrock" (Universal/Tuff Gong) [#5]
5. Brad Paisley, “Alcohol” (Arista Nashville) [#20]
6. The Field, “Love vs. Distance” (Kompakt) [#235]
7. Paul Wall ft. Big Pokey, “Sittin’ Sideways” (Atlantic) [#45]
8. Capone, "U So Craaazzzy" (Fastlife) [two mentions]
9. Kanye West, “Hey Mama” (Roc-a-Fella) [#147]
10. Of Montreal, “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” (Polyvinyl) [#147]

Sunday, January 29, 2006

BTW, can we have an official moratorium on referring to Jenny Lewis as "hot," for reasons of inaccuracy as well as general obnoxiousness? Really appreciate it, thanks.

Between midnight and 1 a.m. on a Saturday night, and where am I? That's right, the office, trying to clean the fucker up. This has mostly been in the form of going through boxes of CDs figuring out which ones to keep, but unlike most of the time when I do this, I am not being kind. Whole lot here I've been hoarding for god knows how long for a purpose I have yet to determine. Some of it is pretty easy to let go of thanks to my eMusic account--bye bye, Blood and Fire catalogue. But it still makes me kind of sad--so many CDs I swore I'd get around to, most of them between two and four years old, stuff that predates the New York-to-Seattle move, lots that maybe, just maybe, might find a place in my private pantheon if I gave it that one chance . . .

The ethics of writing about music are pretty simple--you say what you think as honestly as you can and try not to bullshit yourself or your readers in the process. Schwag, though, is a different matter entirely. When I started getting CDs in the mail it felt like I'd won the lottery--for a second, anyway. As I ratcheted up more bylines and expanded the number of outlets I contributed to, I began getting lots more, and because this began in the late '90s, when the economy was good and there were new labels every week, the intake began reaching enormous volumes. After I moved out to Seattle in August 1999, I went back to Minneapolis for Christmas and found a mid-sized moving box worth of CDs waiting for me--the Mailboxes Etc. I was having my mail sent was still getting shit. I was eager back then, hideously so in retrospect, calling and emailing for everything I could conceive of wanting to listen to and/or write about. My appetite knew no bounds. I could handle everything, and I thought I was an expert on all of it.

I'm turning 31 in three weeks, and if I've learned anything in that time it's that I have no clue about anything beyond what I like or don't or am indifferent to and why. Though the Sign book has given me a bit of go-to cachet on Prince by the handful of other critics who've read it, I'm certainly not a Prince expert anymore than I am one about Tuvan throat singing. I listen to and like a tremendous amount of stuff even still, but it's impossible to pretend to keep up with it all, especially since, like any normal person, I want to spend as much time with my favorites as I can. Besides, most of what I get is trash! It has to be--that's just the law of averages. The editing job has tripled my intake, which was pretty heavy to begin with, and you start thinking like that after a while, if only for your own sanity's sake. Plus my work computer's CD player is a piece of shit--everything it touches is given this weird throttling sound, the sound being shaken up super-fast, that drives me and everyone who hears it nuts. My actual listening time is cut in half as a result.

Still, I wonder sometimes. As I've mentioned here before, I'm on the programming committee for the EMP Pop Conference this year, and looking over more than 200 proposals has compounded my frustration at my own limitations, especially coming right after year-end list madness. Lots of the proposals (and year-end lists) concern areas I have no idea about, some because I don't like or care about the music involved, some because they're out of my ken in some way (geographically, culturally, even politically). And some of the proposals are so intriguing that I almost want to dial up Rhapsody and start investigating the materials at hand. What, then, am I doing preparing to get rid of as many CDs as I possibly can, then? Besides preserving my sanity, creating some breathing space, and easing potential transitions for myself, I mean? Does being a dilettante, a highlight-reel aficionado, make me a bad human being? The answer is probably. But sometimes you've gotta be able to move around.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sometimes I get email from people who want to know why I don't update Boogie Fever anymore. I'd kind of like to know that myself at times, and now I have a reason: I'm going to be deleting it as soon as I've imported all of its reviews onto Back & Forth, a new R&B blog led by Andy Kellman that I will also be participating in. After I've added them all and done away w/BF, I will add new ones to B&F. Simple, no?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Matt Wright on the evolution of a song. I've always wondered about Greg Phillinganes, so this is especially cool to me.

Monday, January 16, 2006

What I’ve Learned, 2005 edition

Anyone with trouble changing facial expressions that informs you that “You look so serious” is not to be bothered with, no matter how well they kiss.
Shoot first and explain later all you want; just don't expect anyone to take you seriously.
If someone has been behaving a certain way for a decade, chances are they’re going to keep doing it, however surprising and/or disappointing it may be, especially when it comes to large gatherings.
Not all babies scream; some of them are exceptionally quiet and well-behaved.
If you let someone who’s underqualified into a project, the project will not only be weighted down accordingly, your level of eagerness will drag too.
I don’t miss New York anywhere near as much as I used to; I have no great desire to visit there anytime soon. A year ago, this would have shocked me; now it just feels normal.
No matter how smart or talented or powerful someone might be, if they hem and haw enough, cut ’em off and go to someone who wants to do it. And do it sooner rather than later.
Drugs are isolating.
Good cab drivers listen to your directions instead of half-paying attention and taking bad wrong turns. This happened a lot in Seattle, where I live and where most of my cab-taking occurs between two places--but not in Portland, Minneapolis, Austin, or New York, even when all I had was an address and a time I’d promised to arrived.
Out-of-town visitors always wonder why I don’t carry an umbrella. “It makes me look like a tourist” isn’t a very good answer, though it’s sort of true; “It usually only drizzles rather than raining hard, so it isn’t especially necessary, plus you never know when the shit is going to begin or end” is truer still, but gets me weird looks. “Because I keep losing them and I finally said fuck it” just gets me the Pity Look, which is probably fair. Either way, it's a lot simpler to just buy a fucking umbrella.
When you have the money, nothing is better than a hotel, however cheap, though expensive ones are even better.
Cave-aged gruyere is the Esperanto of cheeses--it goes with everything and can convert anyone who isn’t a vegan or lactose intolerant.
The more wine you drink, the more and better wine you know. That said, I should start keeping notes so I don’t just blank out and panic when I go shopping for it.
Even when John Peel played lousy records, it was still him playing them, and yes, it did/does make a difference. I would never have believed it if I hadn’t stumbled upon Peel Out in the States Episodes 7, 8, 11 & 12 at Everyday Music on Broadway, though, and I’m eternally thankful I did.
1992 may not have been the best year for pop ever, but you wouldn’t know it from the mix I recently made of stuff from that year: Madonna, “Deeper and Deeper”; the Age of Love, “The Age of Love (Watch Out for Stella Club Mix)”; Meng Syndicate, “Sonar System”; Eden Transmission, “I’m So High”; System 01, “Drugs Work”; Human Resource, “Dominator (The Beltram Mix)”; Altern 8, “E-Vapor-8 (Inciner-8 Mix)”; Blame, “Music Takes You (2 Bad Mice Remix)”; the Prodigy, “Everybody in the Place (Fairground Remix)”; Project One, “Roughneck”; Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)”; Gang Starr ft. Nice & Smooth, “DWYCK”; K-Solo, “Your Mom’s in My Business”; Jonathan Richman, “I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar”; Sonic Youth, “Theresa’s Sound World.” I’ll gladly put it up against any mix-CD I or anyone else has ever made.
It always helps to off your ass and do it already.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I voted in Three Imaginary Girls' Top 100 Northwest Albums of 2005 poll--all of my picks were Seattle artists (A Frames, Caro, Common Market, Swampdweller, and Kinski), which is mostly down to my misreading; I might have chosen some Portland or Olympia or other bands if I'd thought about it more. Still, I like my list and find TIG's poll intriguing. There's a fair amoung of overlap with the 2005 Seattle year-end mixes I co-compiled for the Weekly--numbers 7, 13, 18, 20, 24, 36, 41, 42, 48, 50, 53, 63, 64, 75, 84, 87, 91, and 92 of the Top 100 are represented in the mix, or 18 of 38--a higher percentage than it might seem, since several tracks we chose weren't on albums (MP3s and singles figured prominently, especially with dance stuff).