I don’t know if there was just something in the water than made 2019 a particularly inspiring year for music, or if it was my ears pricking up more than usual, but it was a very good year for music. I certainly went out of my way to hear more, and as a result, I’ve had to pick more favorites. From old geezers doing what they do best, to new-establishment favorites, to newly-discovered talents holding their own; from huge stars to obscure imports; in every genre and all over the map – it’s just been a really good year for music.
Androgyne – Gyasi
Full disclosure: Gyasi is my brother. But even if he wasn’t, this would still be one of the best records of the year. Because nobody plays glam rock like they really mean it anymore.
Morrissey keep on being a bad person, and I keep telling myself to stop putting him at the top of all my playlists, but then he keeps making records that I love, and I loved every weird minute of this weird record. So Morrissey stays.
Electro-swing is one of those technologically enabled hybrid genres that don’t get much love or publicity, but Caravan Palace has always shown that putting together the best parts of disparate genres like jazz and EDM actually makes the world a better place.
I discovered this Texas-based dreampop group based entirely on their sexy name, and guess what, they’re the new Rhye. As in, a homely guy with the voice of an angel, singing pantie-dropping songs of ambient sadness.
Lizzo was, hands down, the biggest breakout star of the year, and not just because she takes up space (though that’s part of her appeal too.) It’s just that she’s everything we want and need in a pop star, and her album couldn’t be more perfect.
Representing the Scandinavian faction is Aurora. With her appropriately icy vocals and cryptic imagery, she’s an aesthetic package, and her record is highly conceptualized, ambitions, grandly orchestrated.
Rapsody is the antidote to every hoodrat female rapper who talks about stripping, hustling and beefing with rivals. With each track named for a legendary Black woman, from Nina Simone to Afeni Shakur, Eve is a collection of poetry about the embattled lives and deep strength of Black women.
Iggy Pop is already rock’n’roll’s most unexpected survivor, but even more unexpected, he’s one who still loves what he does and fearlessly jumps in entirely new directions. For the Godfather of Punk, a new direction might mean a horn section or a reading of Dylan Thomas, but then, he’s always been deeper than his antics led us to believe.
You’ve heard this song before, except it was called Red Money and David Bowie was singing it. (Having cleaned up the Oedipal references.) Well, this is the original, and it is, like Iggy Pop himself, a scary out-of-control rampaging motherfucker. It’s a good example of … Continue reading Sister Midnight
If you were to predict which rock superstar would make a concept album inspired by the writings of Michel Houellebecq, Iggy Pop would probably not even cross your mind. You also probably were not expecting Iggy Pop to make a jazz-inflected record on which he … Continue reading She’s a Business
Iggy Pop continues to confound all expectations. First and foremost, he’s managed to outlive most of his peers great and small, despite having tried to do nothing but the opposite. Just being alive isn’t enough, though. Iggy Pop has to be a road warrior. He … Continue reading Paraguay
Spastic, sweaty, and magnificent. Explaining the significance and appeal of Iggy Pop defeats the purpose. When you see Iggy, bloody and half-naked, writhing around and abusing an innocent potted plant, either you see a kindred spirit, or you run away screaming. When in a quandary, ask yourself what Iggy Pop would do, then do one-tenth of it. (You might still die.) If you hear a sanitized version of his ode to heroin addiction in a children’s movie or a television commercial, know that Iggy Pop don’t care. He’s way too punk for your hipster ideals of integrity. He’s spent too many years scraping rock bottom to say no to a fat paycheck and some free publicity. But don’t ask him to play at your wedding, because he’ll probably get naked and trash the place, just for old time’s sake.
Oh, crazy old Iggy. Nothing can stop him. He’s a guy who gambled big and won. By all rights he should’ve been dead years ago. He’s had a pretty amazing career trajectory. He’s basically shot himself in the foot every time he’s had the slightest bit of success. The Stooges got some buzz going? Do drugs and act crazy. Got offered a solo contract? Do drugs and act crazy. Had a hit record? Do drugs and act crazy. Iggy has spent his entire career using every dime he earned to do drugs and act crazy. He keeps hitting bottom and bouncing back again. He could’ve died and become a one of those figures who are more famous for being dead than anything else. Or he could’ve just disappeared into a life of depravity and been roundly forgotten except as a minor influential cult figure. Or he could’ve made his most famous albums and then died and been remembered for being cut short in his prime. But, amazingly, he’s stuck around through thick and thin and achieved the highest level of iconicity. He’s the indomitable, unsinkable Iggy Pop, who everyone looks up to. He can do whatever he wants and his livelihood is assured. It’s really heartwarming that the old loon has finally earned the respect and stability that eluded him when he was young. Except I suspect he never wanted respect or stability or hoards of youngsters using him as a role model. I wonder how he feels about being declared an elder statesman.
Mmm, kinky. Who wouldn’t want Iggy Pop in a leather collar? I mean the young Iggy. Young Iggy was hot. Iggy now, uh, not so much. Having seen him up close on a couple of occasions, I can report that he resembles nothing so much as one of those dried up bog men from Jutland. His body has acquired an interesting beef jerky effect. He also appears to have one leg significantly shorter than the other. I’ve heard that years of abusive stage behavior has given poor Iggy a bad back and joint problems, and he has to wear orthopedic shoes in his offstage life now. But do any of those things slow him down? Of course not. He’s Iggy Pop, and once one has become Iggy Pop, there is simply no choice but to continue being Iggy Pop until the bitter end. If he’d wanted to have a dignified old age, he should of thought of it before he became Iggy, although I suspect that for Iggy, living to 65 was an unplanned for twist of fate. As it were, Iggy continues to deliver Iggy, with the demeanor of a man who knows exactly how awesome he is. If being the godfather of punk and god knows what else is your calling, you might as well pump it for what it’s worth for as long as you can, and fuck wearing shirts in public!