Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ghetto Love: From Ben E. King To Willy Deville To John Legend

We've established that I'm a hopeless, bleary-eyed sap...but there's no shame in my game so why not wear my heart on my sleeve (again)?

So I'm gonna put together a mix and dedicate it to The Man That Got Away (he knows who he is). I'm in a Drifters loping-along-the-boardwalk kind of mood so I'm going to go with that flavor. Ghetto Love Songs are irresistable. Two people coming together with every odd stacked against's the crux, the nitty-gritty of every make-out worthy, sweaty slow-dance ever fumbled on a gymnasium floor. So here goes:

'A Lover's Question', Clyde McPhatter: From the accapella basso profundo 'bum-bum-bum-BUM-bum-be-bum', finger-snapping intro to the Tex-Mex rhythmic acoustic guitar thrumming along behind Clyde's soaring tenor, the universal question 'do you love me?' is posed as he unpacks all that he'd care to know and then melismas all over the place in the fade out, no answer in sight. Sorry Clyde, but love is a dog from hell. Didn't you know?

'This Magic Moment', The Drifters: Let's just assume, Clyde, that the lover in question wants your ass and all your dreams are realized. Sure, there'll be gales of strings to launch you two lovebirds off on the wings of a dove and yes, everything you want, you'll have. But only for a moment. Nothing lasts, Clyde, and while her lips are close to yours, most likely sweeter than wine, Ben E. King is in the queue, waiting to hop to it when you get bumped to the curb. Sorry, Clyde, but nobody ever promised you a Rose that grows in Spanish Harlem.

'Spanish Harlem', Ben E. King: 'Spanish' and 'Harlem' are two very succulent words that, when juxtaposed with 'rose' well...hell...who wouldn't want to rent a sixth-floor walk-up uptown for too much money and just live there? Bad news for you Ben E., Latinas would rather not be planted in your garden, they'd rather take the A train or cab it down to bottle-service clubs in the meatpacking district. But there's a certain gay guy in Clinton Hill who wouldn't mind a repotting. What would that make me, a cob that grows somewhere north and east of Park Slope?

'Drip Drop', Dion: Piss-poor plumbing as a metaphor for a shitty relationship wouldn't seem that revelutionary or even remotely that original, but Dion wails on this track like a guy who is truly fucked. The girl ('got no brain') packed up her bags and moved out on the midnight train ('the girl's insane'). His buddy comes to see him to give Dion's hapless ass a tip-tip-tip but Dion ain't having it: 'mind your own business/shut your lip-lip-lip/I know when my girl's given me the slip-slip-slip'. Tears fall in sheets of rain, street-corner dudes clap in time to infrastructural devastation, and Dion whines with a sob that makes Bright Eyes look like an alpha-male daytrader. 'on the floor, the rug, on the wall'....shit is bad, people. Call the Tenant Advocacy folks, Dion. You have more rights than you think you do.

'Are You There With Another Girl', Dionne Warwick: Goddamnit John, not only are you not into me but you had to move to Alaska, marry your best friend's sister, and spawn a trifecta of perfect toddlers. I guess you are there with another girl. I suppose I won't 'surely die' but...I'm disappointed, dammit. At least 60's era Dionne had Clinique, inflatable furniture, Bacharach on at the baby grand and Pop Art to console herself with. All I've got is Coors Light.

'Stay With Me', Lorraine Ellison: Bette Midler did a pretty good job with this forgotten gem in 'The Rose', what with her alcohol-ravaged, Courtney Love, throat-scarring rasp and all but Lorraine Ellison trilled the original like a dutiful housewife wronged, ovenmits and all, who just goes ahead and has a nervous breakdown on the linoleum floor of her Union City kitchen. Other nervous breakdowns on record include a couple of Jennifers telling you they're not going and I suppose every Janis Joplin and Alanis Morrisette track ever commited to tape. Personally, I prefer a nice, polite Connie Francis implosion but that's because I numb myself with aspirin, dope and alcohol, just like Connie Francis did (does).

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's A Thin Line Between ThrowDown And ShowTune

I'll admit it, some artists I just do not get. Nellie McKay is one of them. I want to like her because she's a freak-flag waving anti-folk dork (I need to know a little something about this 'anti-folk' movement the kids tend to hate on. I'm fifteen years after the fact, I know, but I worked at Sidewalk Cafe on Avenue A where this whole anti-folk scene was bred but I still don't know what the hell it is). My personal truth is that her music bugs the snot right out of me.

See the problem is this: I'm a pop sucker-chump. I'm into great big echoe-y, reverb heavy production, batshit arrangement choices but most of all...I loves me some keyboard. Even if the song is an Emerson, Lake, & Palmer homage featuring lyrics rhyming 'Rock Me Guiliani' with 'Lockheed Spooge Upon Me' ...if it features overproduced layers upon overdubs upon samples of pianos and strings I probably shamelessly adore it.

Some examples of this:

All of Arcade Fire's 'Funeral'
Magnetic Fields
H.P. Lovecraft (the psychedelic band, not the author)
Anything Phil Spector has ever had a hand in
Electric Light Orchestra's 'Out Of The Blue'
David Bowie's 'Hunky Dory'
Rolling Stones' 'Their Satanic Majesties Request'
Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention
Black Keys (so reverb heavy I can't actually play them out in bars because it's just shrill and trebly. Drinkers leave in droves.)

...and Nellie McKay produces her own stuff which is pretty amazing because her newest release 'Pretty Little Head' features some truly stellar production. But...'Pretty Little Head' is the original cast soundtrack to what I imagine to be my worst nightmare of an Off-Broadway musical. I never wanted to see 'Urinetown' because I guessed that the music was atrocious and I was right because I bought the cast album/cd used and it was unlistenable. 'Spring Awakenings' is said to be the 'Rent' of 2006. Is that supposed to be high praise?! 'Rent' is 'AIDS For Dummies' as sung through by the cast of 'Zoom'. I realize that the score for 'Spring Awakenings' was written by Duncan Sheik which lends the endeavor a certain amount of mid-90's hipster credibility but why isn't Elvis Costello writing Broadway musicals? Or Tom Waits? Or Goldfrapp? Ying Yang Twins?

So anyway, I can't get behind Nellie. No hooks. 'Cupcake' is a well-intentioned tribute to gay marriage but it's about as fun as actually attending a commitment ceremony upstate somewhere around Syracuse or something. Regina Spektor is flat-out quackers in the Nellie McKay vein but she manages to at least reference a radio friendly single (specifically 'November Rain') once in a while. And 'On The Radio' should be on the radio because it's what 'Hollaback Girl' would be if it only had a brain. She's got some funk and I'm looking forward to more of her shit.

That's all. Nothing more to write.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Worst, Most Offensive Movie Of An Already Shitty Year For 'Les Cinema'

Jesus Christ but who in fuck gave the green light for 'Notes On A Scandal' starring Oscarbait Bitches Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett?

I borrowed a 'For Your Consideration' screener of the hoary piece of garbage and what did I learn?

I learned that we homosexuals are utterly unfuckable, fusty, fastidious neurotics- doomed-to-die-alone-and-who-actually-deserve-to-die-alone, dead-cat grieving hobbits who undermine the utterly pure unbridled life-affirming heterosexual lust of right-thinking breeders who just want to fuck and fuck and fuck and fuck but goddamnit us jealous-ass undersexed faggotdykes just keep FUCKING it up for you blessed fuckhappy Children Of Jesus.

On the other hand, 'Babel' wasn't half bad.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

More Year End Schwag.

2006 will not go down in history as a banner year. Period.

If you had a good year please feel free to comment because I'd sincerely love to read about it. Take a moment, share your joy. The best I can say about 2006 is that some unlikely individuals squeezed out babies and December's weather here in NYC has been downright pretty. Broadway had a good year apparently but who honestly gives a rat's ass other than a few of my homosexual brethren. I did see my first Broadway play this year: George Bernard Shaw's 'Heartbreak House' which had something to do with dithering Capitalists welcoming war with wide-open arms. I don't know what that has to do with Britney's vagina but my date seemed to think it was all somehow relevant.

Here are my picks for 'albums' of the year (for real now, no fudging for hipster-cred):

10. Teddybears 'Soft Machine': Remember ABBA? The nostalgia machine won't let us forget. Thankfully 'Chiquitita' doesn't suck half as bad as I had thought at the time, back in the late 70's, when their synthetic harmonies were all over the radio. Sweden is once again Bubblehead Pop Ground Zero (other Swedes hogging Pitchfork hype: The Knife (technically techno), El Perro Del Mar, The Concretes, The Hives etc. etc.) but for me Teddybears' 'Soft Machine' is the motherlode. Every track would be ubiquitous radio smashes in a perfect world. The States should be suffering Teddybears fatigue right now but because Hip-Hop Nation has radio under lockdown, the only exposure they'll get is via car commercials and MySpace. Tracks of note: 'Yours To Keep' featuring Neneh Cherry's honey-sweet vocals and somewhere deep in the mix, Norway's Annie. Also 'Punkrocker', featuring Iggy Pop phoning it in. It's about as 'punk' as the theme from 'The Rockford Files' but you'll have to undergo laser brain-erasure after hearing it but one time. Both tracks are on Satisfaction Pony setlist heavy rotation.

9. Beth Orton 'Comfort Of Strangers': A lot of my friends must think she's dull as paste because they can never remember who she is but I think her voice is irresistable comfort food. It's like that slant of light that bathes the house you grew up in, just before the sun sinks in the west on a Sunday evening. Or fuck Dickinson, she's more like a slightly remorseful shiraz buzz. Plus she hangs out with very cool producers like Ben Watt and Four Tet. Starbucks never got around to co-opting her so you can still forge your own relationship with her, sans corporate endorsement. Standout tracks: 'Worms' and the title track which trips along gently like your babysitter on a couple caps of 'shrooms.

Um, some guy just knocked on my window and asked for five bucks. I know, I's Christmas Eve and I should have forked it over but: Five bucks?! WTF?!

8. Justin Timberlake 'Futurelove/Sexsounds': Okay, okay...'Dick In A Box' was pretty fucking funny and 'What Goes Around...' is an amazing track, worthy of Al Green. I give up already. Jesus. It still feels like a Pat Boone whitewash. It's a Timbaland record for God's sake!

7. Black Lips 'Let It Bloom': I confess, I've never actually heard this album (mostly because I can't find it anywhere) but if it's half as good as their Springtime set @ Madison, Wisconsin's High Noon Saloon then it's a freaking classic. Look, I never said I was a critic...I'm a d.j. and a fan. Look out for their upcoming release. The buzz is strong. Jack White watch yourself.

6. 'Marie Antoinette' Original Soundtrack: I'll say this much, that Sofia Coppola sure can throw together a pretty soundtrack. Her 'Virgin Suicides' playlist made me weep like a wee little girl. And now she's introduced me to The Radio Dept. and reacquainted me with Gang Of Four in one fell swoop. Hatch some more Coppolas, Sofia...somebody needs to fill the Robert Altman void (r.i.p.).

In putting together this list I'm realizing that I don't actually listen to 'albums' anymore like I once did. iTunes has changed everything. Have I lost something here?

5. Louis XIV 'The Best Little Secrets Are Kept': I'm not actually certain when this was released but I've been discovering it and re-discovering it throughout the year. I'll put on iTunes Party Shuffle, walk away to shoo away this chip-hungry rat or that window-knocking vagrant and I'll hear something naughty that sort of sounds like Bon Scott's AC/DC and lo and behold it's always Louis XIV! Dirty dirty boys these Louis XIV. 'The Grand Apartment' is laugh out loud retarded and it's as fresh today as when I first heard it way back in February. Rock n' roll showmanship isn't dead, it's just a crime punishable by incarceration.

4. Vince Guaraldi Trio, 'A Charlie Brown Christmas': Why are you looking at me like that? Is there anything more perfect than the brush-snare wisp of 'Christmastime Is Here'? No. There isn't.

3. Spank Rock, 'Yoyoyoyoyo': Okay, this is what I'm talking about. This is what hip-hop once was and will be again: Total DIY, homebaked goodness. If you don't have a good time shaking your ass-hams to 'Sweet Talk' ('tap that ass/tap that ass/tap that ass') then you're without hope or purpose. Funny, beatcentric, melodic good-timing. And that's what it's all about.

2. Cat Power 'The Greatest': All of a sudden I love this bitch. I've hated her, almost irrationally, for so long and now I've been set free. Her mopey voice makes so much sense in the context of tune-impaired honky-tonk pianos recorded in somebody's gay uncle's rim-chair/sling hung from the ceiling room. She sounds as old as methuselah and as drunk as I tend to be and goshdarnit she's a looker on top of it all.

'Once I wanted to be the greatest/
No wind or waterfall could stop me/
Then came the rush of flood/
The stars at night turned you to dust.'

I'm sorry but that shit is wrenching. That's heartbreak etched into the walls of your cardiomyopic heart (or mine, rather).


1. Goldfrapp 'Supernatural'/Tom Waits 'Orphans' (tie):

As far as I'm concerned, Madonna can just retire because Goldfrapp is here to liberate dancefloors and groove-hungry aesthetes from their respective lock-step, drug-dependant stupors. Here's a diva who has taken classical romanticism absolutely seriously and then spins it to suit her own decadent, Weimar Germany needs. She is exactly what Bush-era America in decline requires. Her voice lacks American Idolatry because she's an iron goddess for the blitzkrieg but she's winking too. She's a populist, one of us...unlike Madonna, who makes it clear to us again and again that she's over us and that her producers will deal with her fanbase by proxy. Ultimately, I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about here, it's just that I'm feeling Goldfrapp whereas I can appreciate Madonna, much like I can blandly enjoy a waxwork.

Goldfrapp is the distaff version of Tom Waits. The Real Tomkat has been deep into fat beats for fifteen years or more and he keeps crowing in interviews about how his Tomkittens (Sullivan and Casey) keep him plugged into banging on shit and beat-boxing and whatnot and I pretty much believe him: He's definitely not faking the funk on 'Orphans', a collection so dense it would take you a month hunkered down in a cabin somewhere in the sticks, just you and your iPod, to sort it all out and absorb it. I certainly haven't managed to take it all in and I've been living with it for several weeks. All I can say so far is that his version of 'Goodnight Irene' is quite possibly the definitive (Leadbelly notwithstanding) and judging from 'Never Let Go', well, if Goldfrapp and Tom Waits ever did collaborate it would be an immaculate conception so delicious flashlights all around the world would spontaneously combust. (NOTE: I've been drinking).

So that's my list. Big whoop, I know...hey...I left out LeeAnn Womack who is responsible for the best country album of the year bar none. She evokes Nashville circa 1972 without getting lost in nostalgia and her restraint alone is worthy of inclusion on the PonyList. Sorry, LeeAnn. But you know that I love you.

I love you.

I really do.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Year End Wrap Up

I more or less gave up on this blog because I was fired by SBCGLOBAL.NET and so thus my email account was dinked... so logging on to has become a Maxwell Smart maze of tricky trap doors and forgotten passwords...and I get so fatigued...


*taps mic*

Is this thing on?

Anyway...I'm a big fan of ellipses and YouTube links (I've tried to upload an old Soul Train video of Aretha Franklin NAILING 'Oh Me Oh My' to this blog many many times but to no avail)...but I'm an even bigger fan of year-end best-of lists so here's mine:

Best Return To Form:

Jon-Jon Diary: I had a good time hating on his juicy, odious ass courtesy of his brain-bruising, self-aggrandizing blogs on the interwebs but then all-of-a-sudden his vile, yet articulate, spewage took a sharp turn south and I couldn't make heads nor tails of what exactly he was madly raving on about. Alas, he's clawed his way out of his psychic K-hole, he's made it through the rain, and it turns out he's no longer a sickening guilty pleasure: I'm actually proud to say that I now hate him, intellect fully engaged, with no holds barred, now that he's struck a rich vein of shuddersome clarity. Stick with it, Yer Godawful last I remember why we loathed each other in the first place. In stark, fastidiously proofed old-school font no less!

Google the disagreeable cur. I'm not linking to him, nohow noway.

Best Cinematic Masterpiece of 2006:

The only movie I saw in 2006: Dave Chappelle's Block Party

I also witnessed 'Strangers With Candy' but that straight-up sucked serious ass so I'm pretending as if I never saw Philip Seymour Hoffman mumble his way through some tragically unfunny bullshit alongside the most overrated entertainer the American media has ever mistaken for a comedic genius: Stephen Colbert (hate his politics, love his writers...his delivery blows).

But DCBP was truly satisfying. It takes a look back to the 'Wattstax' and 'Woodstock' and 'Born To Boogie': all those amazing live-performance, community-affirming movies that I stayed up late to watch on cable way back in the eighties. Those movies gave me hope. Chappelle's concert movie felt so off-the-cuff and so fricking joyful that I just wanted to be there. And be there I am. Turns out I live a few blocks away from where it was filmed in Bed-Stuy and the neighborhood feels pretty turned out, not necessarily because of what Dave Chapelle and his director, Michel Gondry, threw together but because there's a certain community activism in place. It's lovely. I love getting up in the morning to get my coffee at Tillie's and walking around amongst folks who say 'hi''s just very nice. And The Fugees, Jill Scott, Mos Def and Common, not to mention Erykah Badu...they all sing/speak their souls to people invested in building community. It's so beautiful. I love this movie. See it with a friend you love.

I keep meaning to see but never do for whatever reason:

'Charlotte's Web' (Honestly, I'll never see this unless I'm on a flight to Milwaukee)
'That Clint Eastwood Movie(s) about WWII' (I'll never see these, period)
'Let's Go To Prison'
'Really Long Beyonce Video Featuring American Idols And Eddie Murphy'

YouTube has satisfied all my moviegoing needs, thank you very much.

Best Single:

This is a toughie.

'Hang Me Up To Dry'/Cold War Kids: Dudes, this track fucking ROCKS. All the elements are in place: Reformed Born-Again Christian lead singer working it on OUT. Jesus! This guy is UPSET! Add some wicked black-widow bass, scary-movie soundtrack reverb-happy production, psychotic-devilchild keyboard...'fell asleep with stains/hang me up to dry/I'm pearling like the whites of your eyes'...fucking YIKES!

I'll never stop playing this song out in the clubs. You bitches need a wake-up call as you play grab-ass at the bar, jostleing for bottles of Amstel Light...y'all don't know what you're manhandling there when your happy hands do that dance they do.

'StickwhichU'/Pussycat Dolls. Fuck you. I love this song. I want some pretty bitch to love me up with a harmonica parked in his/her mouth as he/she coos never-ending commitment to me, dammit. If Stevie Wonder were five sluts in dominatrix gear he would have wrote and performed this gorgeous tribute to eternal monogamy. Absolutely heavenly. "Singin' 'cuz your so-so into me..."


"Irreplaceable"/Beyonce. When this lush-hipped M to F strains for a note and absolutely nails it, I can't help but cry. Sure she's a tranny with a monstrous forehead but who really cares when she sings like a freaking siren sent from some mythical place (Xanadu?)? Actually, she sounds like Jeff Buckley sometimes but that's not always a bad thing. Plus the lyrics are right on point. Buh-bye, cheating dawg, indeed. To the left, to the left.

"Punkrocker"/Teddybears ft. Iggy Pop. Self-loathing Iggy proclaiming that he's sick of being God as he slithers his skank ass along Bleeker Street over a hate-fuck electro-beat: Irresistable, no? The lesbians love it!

Honorable Mention:

'Vans'/The Pack
'Wind It Up'/Gwen's so fucking dumb you have to hear it three or four times to believe it.
'Black Sweat'/Prince
'Comfort Of Strangers'/Beth Orton
'Down With Prince'/Hot Chip
'When You Were Young'/The Killers
'Let's Impeach The President'/Neil Young
'LDN'/Lily Allen
'Deep'/The Redwalls
'Crazy'/Gnarls Barkley (of course)
'New Hampshire'/Matt Pond PA