Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Pazz and Jop is up. Here's my ballot. Also, I've gotten into the comments section on my first try: it's in here. Frankly, I thought the bon mots I sent regarding Gorillaz and My Chemical Romance were much more interesting. Ah well.

I'm a little surprised how much of my ballot wound up in the top 40 albums and singles. Not sure what it means. This is what the zeigeist feels like? No, don't be silly -- critics haven't even copped a feel of the zeitgeist in ages.

Monday, January 30, 2006

New Neko

Neko Case's label has a preview MP3 from her upcoming album. This song, "Star Witness" daringly raises the stakes of her last studio solo album, Blacklisted. The noir arrangment is ever-expanding, evolving at every verse. (And I'm pretty sure there's the inimitable touch of The Band's organist, Garth Hudson, who's reported to be a guest on the album.) And Case's lyrics are equally filled with unexpected details, plot turns and tantalizing clues. The new album has a rather confusing name, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood. It comes out March 7. I'm psyched. At the very least, maybe people will shut up about The New Pornographers for a little while.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Belated Book Review

The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated Fourth Edition (2004)

Judging from occasional conversations I’ve had with fellow music geeks from time to time, I suspect I’m not the only person who compulsively memorized the 1992 third edition until it literally went to pieces. As far as I can tell, this newish edition slipped into stores with little fanfare; perhaps this says something about RS’ steady plummet as an arbiter of hip, or maybe in the obsolescence of reading a reference work on music on somewhere other than the internet. (Regarding the latter point – I think that’s unfortunate. This is in some ways more user-friendly than the All-Music Guide. For one, the book doesn't always include every release under an act’s name. You don’t have to troll through countless cheap compilations to find what you’re looking for.)

Although a number of entries from the third edition are simply recycled or updated, the differences in the two books are pretty clear. Foremost, snark really has risen to the forefront of modes of communication for rock critics (and others). I’d like to let this observation stand on its own without any editorializing, but if you scroll around this page, you can read my thoughts on snark in general. On a more mundane note, this edition wisely abandons the third's decision to use – amazingly enough – merely four writers to cover every single entry. Instead, like the earliest books, somewhere around 70 critics are utililzed.

But the fun of a book like this is honing in on the details. And there are enough really odd occurrences to make you think maybe the editors weren’t always paying complete attention, or perhaps the deadline just snuck up on them. (I’ve been there, dudes.) Here are some of the stranger things I’ve noticed from this book after owning it for less than a month.

  • At some point in the Van Halen entry, Hagar becomes “Hagger.”
  • There is an entry for the solo works of Steely Dan’s Walter Becker, but not for his partner in crime (and the Dan’s singer), Donald Fagen.
  • There is no entry for Metallica.
  • There’s an entry for Dire Straits, plus a separate one for Mark Knopfler’s solo albums. This seems excessive.
  • Hey, remember when RS gave Mick Jagger’s awful Goddess in the Doorway album five stars and we all laughed? Well, now they’ve knocked it down… to four stars.
Three more things

1) Hoboes are the new robots. For proof, see here and here.

2) Why am I still seeing Christmas decorations in some homes around town?

3) David Patrick Kelly vs. Brad Dourif: That was fun, wasn't it?

More content coming soon. No, that' s not a fourth thing. Just because.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Three Things

1) No more favorite-album lists. They're never accurate. Next time I think to write one, someone punch me.

2) Instead, what I'd like to do is, from time to time, write 200-word appraisals of my favorite albums (some found on that list, some not). These will occur in addition to occasional things like Seminal Albums from My Misspent Youth, a feature I greatly enjoy conceiving and writing, however infrequently.

3) Last month, I dreamily suggested I might incorporate some movie-themed posts at some point. This is still a pipe dream, it would seem. I have an idea, something I haven't quite mustered the time or ability to flesh out yet. Let me share it with you now: David Patrick Kelly vs. Brad Dourif. Think about it, won't you?