Amy Winehouse had one great ambition: to be taken seriously as a jazz singer. How she got derailed from that goal by drugs and fame is a modern-day tragedy, in the full Shakespearean sense. On the strength of her first album, though, she was already … Continue reading (There Is) No Greater Love
“This is fun!” says St. Vincent, describing her method, then launches into a depressing ballad. “Paint the black hole blacker, paint the black hole blacker” she sings. No, cheerful choruses that suggest a life of fun have never been her thing. She is, to the … Continue reading The Strangers
Lucinda Williams nails a lot of things about romance, mostly the bad ones. Mostly heartaches; that could be her motto. She really comes at it from every side. What she’s coming at here is, as usual, loss and its afterburn. It’s one of the most … Continue reading Out of Touch
There isn’t an adequate name for Camera Obscura’s style of music. Indie pop is too broad of an umbrella. As is folk, as is folk pop. Retro and twee are adjectives that imply the presence of kitsch. How about KNDP, for knowing naive dream pop? … Continue reading Other Towns & Cities
Still don’t know jackshit about these guys, but I keep playing them. I guess they keep a low profile, what with the long hiatus. I suppose that at some point I’ll look back and point out 2015 as my big Interpol year. Since there’s not … Continue reading Next Exit
Ready to feel depressed? Lucinda Williams has you covered. Williams long ago proved herself one of the highest masters of documenting every conceivable shade of misery. Because misery isn’t always the same; every hard time has its own particularity. You have to gaze into each abyss and remember it in its uniqueness. In this case, you may recall a long cold winter of the heart that comes after someone has left you. You give up waiting for that person to come back (they never do, do they?) and eventually you’re huddled down waiting just to feel something good again. And if you have to undergo that while in Minneapolis, more bad luck for you. Lucinda is a Southern girl; for her surviving the frost and windchill of Minnesota must be torture on top of torture. Even for those of us bred in permafrost, there’s something so exhausting about the act of wintering. It’s emotionally debilitating to be cold all the time, on top of the physical stress of it. And if your heart is all broken too…
“Beautiful boys on a beautiful dance floor…”
Sexiest song ever. Or one of, at least. In a long time. And of course, the gayest song by a very straight-presenting band ever. Because handsome men in skinny black pants singing about other handsome men in skinny black pants is just about as universally appealing as anything I can think of, including kittens. Am I right? AMIRITE?? But seriously, this appeals to me on so many levels. One, great song you can dance to, obviously, by a very handsome group of men in skinny black pants. Two, lusting after sexy boys is something a lot of us can relate to, but remains mysteriously undeserved as a topic. Lust is, of course, on of the biggest topics for songs, but it’s still overwhelmingly directed at women, often in a horribly skeezy manner. Non-heteronormative desire hardly ever gets any airplay, and when it does it’s usually presented with a heaping platter of stereotype that makes it easy to make fun of and then dismiss. Not since the binary-challenging heyday of the glitter gods has there been such a matter-of-fact declaration of bisexual appetite. Franz Ferdinand have made an outstanding contribution to the small pool of straight-boy-gay-sex-desire representation in pop music. Not quite as career-torpedoing as it would have been back in the day, but still taboo enough to raise eyebrows.
Nick Cave is just the man I need to hear from to reinforce my faith in the basic blind unfairness of the world. The world, and everything in it, is against you, either violently or indifferently, from the moment your mother was foolish enough to not abort you, and the best you can do to survive and keep yourself ambulatory is to sift through the dirt for whatever slivers of beauty you can find to hold on to. And if we didn’t spend the better part of our time psychologically clutching at straws, we would all go insane at the sheer difficulty of taking even one step forward. Hence, our desperate attachment to those that entertain us. There’s alcohol and there’s drugs and there are ill-advised sexual escapades, but it’s addiction to beauty that really gets us through. Just give me one thing of beauty to look at; I’ll never drink again before I stop turning to beauty to elevate myself. Art is the only path to redemption.
The singer Duffy shares her name with a cartoon bear. She should have thought of that before she went and became famous. In actuality though, I don’t think Duffy cares very much about famousness. She’s backed away from her career, partly because of the pressure. Which is a loss, because the world most definitely needs the services of a tiny Welsh blonde who sounds like she time traveled from sixties Motown. Unfortunately, in the world of pop today (and yesterday and most likely tomorrow), pretty blondes get wrung through a very special kind of wringer. Duffy is hardly the first to be unhappy with the dehumanizing side effects of musical success. I hope she makes some kind of peace with it and comes back with more records. Flamboyant self destruction is always an option for those who want to destroy a too-wholesome image, but I don’t recommend it.
Do you like the beach, bitch?
In 2006, this was exactly right on topic. Paris Hilton has outlived her allotted minutes of fame, but let’s not forget that, like it or not, she really was the iconic blonde of the 2000’s. What trace has she left of herself? Well, like any good, dyed-in-the-peroxide sex bomb, she’s at least memorable enough to inspire a pop song or two from her betters in actual talent. Lovefoxxx, on the other hand, may have a porn star sounding name, but she’ll never be remembered as the nadir of the Guess? advertising legacy, nor as a trailblazer in the booming genre of celebrity porn. Lovefoxxx is a real rock star, though, and she’s got her career spread out before her for decades. She’s about as funny and irreverent as anybody who’s come about in the past decade, and she’s pop culture savvy as well. She knows there’s nothing as relevant as a cult icon poking a little quasi ironic/quasi affectionate fun at a pop icon. Paris Hilton, in her heyday, was the bedazzled embodiment of Andy Warhol’s ultimate wet dream meaningless superstar; all she needed was the validation of an outsider indie rock hipster darling paying her homage.