Monday, December 31, 2007

4,825,273 notes with the Sparks


Deeply envious of London for its supreme macaroni of Sparks gigs coming up, a 21-night run in which the band will play every one of its albums sequentially, one per night, from Halfnelson/Sparks (1971) on May 16 through No. 20, Hello Young Lovers (2006), on June 11, all at the 5,000-capacity Carling Academy (formerly known as Brixton Academy). Then they give the premiere of their 21st record at the smaller Shepherds Bush Empire. (They’re doing the awesome A Woofer in Tweeters Clothing [’72] on my birthday, and Lil’ Beethoven, my favorite album of 2003, on June 10.)

Ron and Russell Mael on the project:

“How do we best unveil our new album, Sparks’ as yet untitled 21st? How about playing in concert every single song off of every album that preceded it, all 20 albums on 20 consecutive nights, culminating in the premiere of our latest? That’s approximately 250 songs, or for you musicians, 4 million, 825 thousand, 273 notes. Come celebrate each and every one of those notes with us!”
I might have to go.

Pollstar story; Sparks website.

Friday, December 28, 2007

‘But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,’ faultered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again.

“Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”


Bhutto’s last moments


Fascinating and frightening images and commentary by John Moore, a Getty photographer who covered Benazir Bhutto’s rally at Rawalpindi in Pakistan: New York Times, CNN.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A conversation with M.I.A.

For a profile I wrote in the Times, I interviewed Maya Arulpragasam, a.k.a. M.I.A., at her Brooklyn apartment one hot afternoon last July. It was a few days after the Siren Festival at Coney Island, and later that night she would play Studio B. The gimmick cooked up by me and Maya’s publicist was that I’d hang out while she prepared for the show: sewing her costumes, editing video, whatever.

Sometimes these tricks are journalistically useful. But this time I was grateful my worst-laid plans were scuttled in favor of real, gimmick-free conversation. (We did wander down the street a little, then she bought a slice of Oreo cookie cake and we plopped down on her couch. She keeps the a/c off — to make the air more Sri Lanka-like, I was told.) She filled up a tape and a half with thoughtful and candid discussion, with no attempt to evade or deliver safe, rehearsed responses.

The piece turned out well, but as often happens with talkative subjects, I was frustrated that so many of her words never made it into the story. But this is why God made blogs, right? So here are some excerpts. Now, M.I.A. has done plenty of entertaining, inflammatory interviews; there are no bombshells here, just room for her to expand on topics that interest her (and me). A note on the text: transcribing interviews is really tedious, and for the sake of time and sanity I usually sketch things out roughly and then return to check anything quoted. So I can’t guarantee that all of this is 100 percent verbatim — sorry, I’m not transcribing again unless someone pays me — but I can give my word that it’s pretty close.

1. “My MUM can work with fucking Timbaland if she fucking had the right money”

[I asked about the imagery of war and terrorism on her first album, Arular, and whether she thought critics had erroneously characterized her as an advocate for the Tamil Tigers.]

It was really, really important for me to stress that at the time when I made Arular, that was what was going on in society right then and there. Every time you put the TV on, every station you tuned into, every picture, every headline in the newspaper, it was all related to that [i.e., post-9/11 warfare and violence]. And I think that when the world talks at you so aggressively, then you’ve got to talk back the same way. And it was important to spell things out. But on this record I feel like it’s political enough the fact that I get to make a second record — the fact that I’m even in the music game — the fact that I’m having the issues that I have — the fact that I even get questioned on who I am and what the fuck I’m doing here and shit like that — is enough. It’s still important to me but the battle I have now is also staying by creativity because that actually is also the only thing I have. It’s the only thing I do.

What happened with Timbaland?

I guess people expected me to sort of like move into this sort of pop sort of musician. I guess people expected me to make a Timbaland record and become like a — Timbaland wanted to work with me and I thought it was really amazing and flattering because he’s like my idol but by the time I wanted to make a record with Timbaland and got round to getting a visa and doing it, it was already too impossible. And I’d like opened this opened this can of worms somewhere else and I had to go and sort it out. I really felt like that. I just constantly felt like people were going to be a bit disappointed. In England that’s all I kept hearing, whether it was from the label, or I ran into this guy from the NME at a party when I was traveling — the only time anyone ever had anything to say to me it was like, “Wow, you’re working with Timbaland.” It’s like, my MUM can work with fucking Timbaland if she fucking had the right money. Why is it so special? Really, it’s just common sense in the music industry today. If you have the money and you have the checkbook anyone can make records with anyone great.

Well, Timbaland doesn’t work with just ANYONE.

Well, Paris Hilton had been there done that, done the rounds. By the time I got to America every fucking amazing producer I could have possibly gone to work with, Paris Hilton had already been there, which just so tainted me. There was just nothing I could do. So you know what? I went and worked with Blaqstarr because he was a bit untouched at that moment, and carried on my doing my thing elsewhere. Because it’s like, you know what? Me and Paris would deliver the same song, right? Because technically they always want me to sing about sex. And guess what? She has more time on her hands to sing about that shit than me. So I’m just going to go back and talk about the bootlegging going on now. [See below for more of Maya’s interest in the “hustle” of immigrants and the globalized black-market economy.] That was the idea. I felt a lot of disappointment that I didn’t make the whole record with Timbaland. But I thought, you know what? Maybe I’m the last of the — the only the thing that kept me going is that at least I was real. And at least 20 years from now even if I sell one record I can turn around to my kids and be like, I stood by something. So fuck it. Here’s a little table I made earlier. That kind of thing.

I wanted to work with Timbaland because I was curious. They only let me in like a month, [though she had well-known problems renewing her visa, Maya did obtain permission to enter the U.S. for a short time at the beginning of the Kala project] so I split that time. I did one week with Timbaland where I worked on his album and his song [“Come Around”], which now I have on mine. But at the time I really thought I was going to work on his stuff. He asked me to work on his record. And then I did a week with Danjahandz. And then the rest of the time I was with Blaqstarr. In Baltimore I stayed with Blaqstarr for a bit. He was in and out of jail. That was a long ongoing process to get like one song down. When I did “The Turn” I was with him on New Year’s Eve. We both got drunk. He took me out. And made me shoot a gun. It was New Year’s Eve. And then I got really drunk on tequilas, and that was when we made “The Turn.”

He made you shoot a gun?


Where? What did you shoot at?

In the streets of Baltimore. Shot it in the air.

How did it feel?

It was New Year’s Eve. There was lots of fireworks going off and stuff. And also in Baltimore that’s just the way it is. Where Blaqstarr is and where they live and stuff, it’s like “The Wire.” It really is like “The Wire.” It was quite funny because they were like, “Wait, you want me to get the AK-47 out?” And I was like, “No thanks.”

2. Hustlin’

I’ve been thinking a lot about boats. In the beginning of the song [“Hussel”] there’s a bunch of boat pushers in India that we recorded. And it’s them chanting when they pull the boat into the water. And the rest of the song is supposed to sound like a bunch of refugees on the boat, drumming the beat out on the side of the boat. Or a barrel or something. It could be a person, it could be a bootleg CD. I don’t know. But it’s a survival thing.

It’s an American thing. I was thinking about it here. Everyone seems so obsessed with hustling and being on the grind and stuff like that. And maybe it was just the people that I met here and associated myself with. The hustling over here is different because it’s so lo-fi. People are still talking about importing dried fish or something. And that sentiment really goes right up to Jay-Z rapping about how he’s a businessman. And that is the norm in rap music, to talk about business and how you do business. It has been like that for the last 10 years, and if you look at the new scene that is the byproduct of that scene, which is like the hipster blipster scene, that’s the aspect they also draw from that culture, which is all like hustling and grinding. And “we the shit, we the best” ...

It bugs me when I go to Liberia and everyone has to live on, like, a dollar. When I drove past the Firestone village, the whole village — their lifestyle is based around Firestone. And you’re working like 24 hours a day, basically. Even when you have time off you don’t have enough finances to make it out of your Firestone village to go and experience anything. As a kid one of the things that I used to do that made me get to where I am, if I had a pound I’d go off and find new things and experiment and jump on a bus and go to a place I’ve never been before. Go to a party or something, go an exhibition or a museum. I’d just walk into things. I was just thinking about those kids in Africa at the Firestone place. You just spend all day trying to get a drop of rubber to trickle down the tree into this little bag. That process of the glue going down the tree is SO long, you have to dedicate your life to it. And Firestone knows that. They have to make people dedicate their lives to it in order to catch every drop that comes off the tree. And then when you get off and go home, by that time you’re on standby but you’ve only made like a dollar a day. What are you going to do with that money? When you think like that — They do hear 50 Cent, and they do aspire to the only music that they are getting from America, which is, “Every day I’m hustlin’, every day I’m hustlin’.” But it just doesn’t translate in the same way. And if you really are inspiring people to just get your hustle on in places like Africa, then shit, the only way forward is probably through corruption. It’s not like that’s inspiring anyone to think about the good will of the people or build any proper infrastructure or want to work in a hospital, or invent a cure for AIDS. That’s not the type of shit that you’d get from listening to a rap song from 50 Cent.

Is it the kind of thing you get from M.I.A.?

No, but if they listen to my shit what I would like them to get from it is that you can do it in one lifetime. You can do whatever you want. ’Cause I came from that Firestone hearth, and I didn’t know how to speak English, but I learnt it and I know it now. I’m just trying to kind of build some sort of bridge. [Gets up and walks around the apartment a bit. At this point her accent shifts slightly toward the posh.] I’m trying create a third place, somewhere in between the developed world and the developing world.

3. “Every story has two sides”

I went [to Liberia] just as a human being. I wanted to see what a country looks like after a war, what hope looks like. How you can actually rebuild, or what the process of rebuilding a country like that would look like. Just because I come from a place that has never seen the end of it. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Just to see that it was possible and to say, Look, I’d much rather side with somewhere that actually comes out of it and is optimistic and there is no war going on. And go and learn what I can. And I’d love to represent Sri Lanka. But there just has to be some — it’s so ongoing. It’s so tiring for me to even get my head around what’s going on in Sri Lanka.

It’s so bad. Nobody really talks about the people in Sri Lanka. I hate the fact that when you talk about Sri Lanka everything goes toward the two male kids, the two boys that won’t give up fighting. They’re just too proud to give in. Meanwhile the last thing I was hearing — the town I come from, Jaffna, it’s still got 400,000 people there. And [the army] surrounded it to smoke out Tigers from that area. They cut it off, the only part that connects you from north to south. Cut off import and export, letting people starve to death, letting the population shrink. It’s got nothing to do with the Tigers. As a government they should be better prepared and know their shit by now, or just negotiate and come to some terms. To keep it going like that where it’s always the civilians getting killed...

I don’t even know what it’s about anymore. I don’t even think they know what it’s about anymore. The Tigers use human beings and civilians as pawns as much as the government, but they both do it. Even the political setup and the political party — it has the same principle. They’re both really similar. You’re only as good as your enemy in some sense.

[I asked what she thinks of the Tigers’ methods, including “suicide vests” and conscripting children.]

I come from a place that it’s really hard when you ask me that question. Every one of those questions that you ask me, I know 20 other questions [that are about as bad]. How do you feel about a woman getting blown up with a grenade after like 20 army soldiers have raped her in front of her mother? To me to talk about things like that. That’s my point. Every story has two sides. And in Sri Lanka the way I lived and the way I grew up, I didn’t actually live with my dad. I didn’t have any connection to that whole side of it. But as a civilian growing up in a town in Sri Lanka, those are the only stories I knew.

To tell you the truth my fear did come from the government. They did come to my school, they did shoot through the window, they did set my school on fire, they did kill the people I knew. My next-door neighbor is in a wheelchair because he got caught in the crossfire. Those are the things that I know from my firsthand experience.

But the only stories I know about the Tamil Tigers are that, yeah, they take your money, they keep your house if you leave it for more than two years, then they take it over and it becomes Tiger property or whatever. They do it for survival. The stories you hear from them are not like exploitation of power. There’s exploitation of power stories [about the army and the government], which is the thing that strikes me the most. Because when you are supposed to go to the police or you go to the army to protect you from terrorism, and those people are committing the terrorist acts on people, that to me feels way more like you’re stuck in a nightmare than knowing that there are a bunch of crazy guys that are running around, knowing how brutal they are and this is what they do and you just have to avoid them. It makes me feel much safer than knowing the people that are on your side are going to do 10 times worse to you. That’s how I felt.

When I went back to Sri Lanka in 2001, the first time I went there after a few years, I sat on a bus and I got surrounded by like 10 policemen because I was a woman. I was so obviously from abroad: I had, like, streaks in my hair and wore lipstick, and I had jeans on. They all had big machine guns, and they completely surrounded me. When we were going on the bus, it was really rocky because the roads were bombed out and had huge craters, and every time the bus moved they’d all fall on me and they were all groping me and stuff. In front of my mum. And I was crying my eyes out, and my mum was like, ‘If you say anything they’ll only drag you off the bus into the woods, and they would do it to me as well.’ And they’re just like rapists, [unintelligible couple of words] killers. Because that’s what they do. It’s much better if you just let them fucking feel you up and grope you. I even had a letter from the Ministry of Defense. I had my passport, I had protection letters from the government of Sri Lanka. Even with all those letters they didn’t care. They still did that to me. And I was like ‘Wow, I could be a journalist. Would you still do this to me if I was a journalist?’ And they didn’t care.

Did you ask them that?

No, but I took my letter out and I said, ‘What if I was a journalist? I could go and easily report this.’ They just ignored me. They threw the passport back at me and they were like ‘Where’s United Kingdom?’ They didn’t know the difference between Great Britain, the United Kingdom and England. And then it made sense to me. Even the army soldiers, they’re 16-year-olds that the government’s recruiting. It’s not any fucking different with the Tamil Tigers: you’re getting 16-year-olds from villages, and you put them in a uniform and you station them in the jungle for 10 years. They never see women, they never get to go out. The only time they get to go out is when the army soldiers get a monthly pass to [name of a Sri Lankan city I can’t quite decipher] where there’s hookers, and they get to see prostitutes once a month free. But you go to the 16-year-old, ‘If you join the army we’ll give you free medical, free insurance, free this, free that’ — education or whatever — so everybody goes and joins. It’s like 2 million government soldiers to 10,000 Tamil Tigers. That’s the ratio. But that’s how many guns there are, 2,010,000 altogether. That’s the nature of Sri Lanka.

4. “Kala”

To me as a person, when I was going through this album I started believing that what my mom did is actually really big and really great, and 99 percent of the female population lives like that. Like, my mom’s really, really simple, really stripped down. She has survival instincts. And she sacrificed her life to keep three kids alive. She did whatever it took. She never settled with anyone else. She never thought about her own happiness. I was just thinking about single-parent families, their achievements, and how they spread knowledge and how they educate their kids. And what they do is just as powerful as an educated guy in politics that is trying to save the world. I felt like my dad didn’t find a way to do both, to be a good husband and a good leader. And that was something that I had to say. If it could segregate the two existences, then what my mother did is more important. She’s not educated past age 16.

Are you proud or disillusioned about your father?

At my age and where I am right now, I have more respect for men who can be achievers that can actually be good husbands and good fathers. To me that actually makes more sense. I want to know if Nelson Mandela was a good husband and a good father. Because from now on that’s how I want to judge a good man.

Download M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes”: “Street Mix” with Bun B and Rich Boy, instrumental.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The shocking story of a juvenile slut


‘The movie that went too far’


This means you, Jason Isolda

Libraries are turning to collection agencies for those overdue book fines:

“Borrowers who fail to return Queens Library books can be reported to a collection agency and to a credit bureau, with a damaged credit rating as a result — a tactic that so shocked one Far Rockaway rabbi that he filed a lawsuit. ... The borough library system signed on in 1996 as the largest client of Unique Management Services, a collection agency that had reorganized itself three years earlier to specialize in recovering library books and late fees. The company, based in Jeffersonville, Ind., now chases down late accounts for more than 900 library systems, including the New York Public Library, several in Canada and two in England.” (Link)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A holiday blessing from Manowar

(Link — Universal Pictures?!)

Operation Rudolph



Sting can’t save concert biz

Now not only the record business but the touring industry is slumping as well:

“The top 20 tours generated $996 million, down 15.6 percent from the year before, according to preliminary data issued on Friday by Pollstar, which covers the concert business. The previous low was $951.1 million in 2004, when Prince and Madonna topped the box office, it said.” (Link)

Lefsetz comments: “If Van Halen, the Police and Genesis can’t bring in the bucks, who will? Oh, I know... Led Zeppelin.”

But hold on. Editors rush to put the Chicken Little spin on stories about the old/big/offline music industry, but the reality is more complicated, and probably not as dire. Pollstar’s data is based on the top 20 tours, which have been declining for years because of a lack of stadium- and arena-worthy young acts — the list is mostly your Billy Joels, Springsteens, Sir Eltons, etc. — but the “long tail” of the business is flourishing in clubs and theaters. Over the last year or two Live Nation has sold off “sheds” (outdoor amphitheaters), bought House of Blues and built midsize rooms, and AEG, its biggest competitor, has acquired smaller venues (like the Starland Ballroom in New Jersey) and taken a new interest in regional promoting.

Bottom line: less money made by Eddie Van Halen and the William Morris Agency, more by the dude who booked those seven Bright Eyes shows you went to. And by Bright Eyes, too.

Monday, December 24, 2007

WPIX Yule Log for iPod


The historic WPIX Yule Log, that is. Download here.

‘The war on terroir’

From the Economist:

“...few things agitate French winemakers more than other winemakers’ unspeakable irreverence towards the terroir, the mix of soil and climate found in the place where a vine is grown. The strength of feeling is so great that the country even has its own breed of, er, terroiristes. A group of masked, militant French winemakers has attacked foreign tankers of wine, bricked up a public building and caused small explosions at supermarkets.”

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What I really want for Christmas

Female Demon Ohyaku, aka Legends of the Poisonous Seductress 1:

Because I already have the Pinky Violence boxed set.

Best of 2007

dirtypro resize 2


1. Dirty Projectors, Rise Above. Much has been said about the concept. And its brilliant. But what got me was how Dave Longstreth advanced the emerging indie-boys-discovering-Afropop minigenre. He rips up highlife and uses just what he wants — the sunny, melodic dance lines, the manic guitar counterpoint — which is exactly what he does with/to Black Flag and those Stockhausen-esque alien harmonies. Oh, and it kicks ass, too. (Example; Black Flag’s original.)

2. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand. This seemed a potential trainwreck when I first learned of it, but it turned out to be a glorious surprise. Luxuriant and masterly, its the O Brother, Where Art Thou? of blues, country and rockabilly, with a center of gravity in the 1950s instead of the ’20s.

3. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. I gave it a mixed review when it came out because the looser, jammier approach of latter-day Spoon seemed less compelling than the structure-mad minimalism of the Kill the Moonlight era. But I was wrong. This is Britt Daniel in magnificent command of sound and vision, and though its less compositionally compressed than before, not a single sound is wasted.

4. Battles, Mirrored. The nuttiest, tightest and most surprisingly danceable math(ish)-rock album of the year.

5. Feist, The Reminder. First impression: Sounds like Feist. Six months later: Pretty much a perfect archetype of what soft-rock can be in the ’00s, tasteful and grown-up but squarely in the indie idiom, not folk. That means its interests extend beyond the acoustic guitar, and the central emotional tone is mature vulnerability, not earnestness.

6. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black. It was clear long before her Lohanization that Amy is a star. Back to Black is a broadly conceptualized, flawlessly executed vision of neo-soul, with big, hip-hop-y beats that could be samples were Amy and Mark Ronson — who deserves his share of credit — not in love with real, live sound. But listen again to the suicide note that is “Rehab”: she was fucked up way pre-Perez Hilton.

7. M.I.A., Kala. Actually my biggest disappointment. Ms. Arulpragasam made a very, very good album instead of another freakin’ unbelievable one. Her agitprop also threatens to get boring eventually. But I had the pleasure of interviewing her, and found her very willing to be challenged and debated on politics. A simple egotist/ideologue wouldn’t be.

8. Arcade Fire, Neon Bible. Second-biggest letdown, because three years ago they made a supreme statement of optimism and joy at a time when the ruling dogs were the Strokes, Modest Mouse, etc. Neon Bible is their apocalypse album, and it’s excellent. But it feels like 47 minutes in purgatory, which by definition isn’t exactly satisfying.

9. Avril Lavigne, The Best Damn Thing. It’s the best pop record I heard this year. So fuck you.

10. Radiohead, In Rainbows. It’s a bad year when your top 10 includes three disappointments. This is a gorgeous, classic Radiohead album — how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! — but it doesn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know about the band.


The National, Boxer
Black Lips, Good Bad Not Evil
Linda Thompson, Versatile Heart
Beirut, The Flying Club Cup
Ryan Adams, Easy Tiger
Animal Collective, Strawberry Jam
St. Vincent, Marry Me
Yeasayer, All Hour Cymbals
Kanye West, Graduation
Neil Young, Chrome Dreams II
White Stripes, Icky Thump
Essie Jain, We Made This Ourselves
Tegan & Sara, The Con


Arctic Monkeys, Favourite Worst Nightmare
Nicole Atkins, Neptune City
Meg Baird, Dear Companion
Big A Little a, gAame
The Bird and the Bee, s/t
Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha
Bonde do Rôle, With Lasers
Deerhoof, Friend Opportunity
Deerhunter, Cryptograms
Dinosaur Jr., Beyond
Julie Doiron, Woke Myself Up
Dolorean, You Can’t Win
Justine Electra, Soft Rock
Tim Fite, Over the Counter Culture
Frames, The Cost
Fratellis, Costello Music
Erik Friedlander, Block Ice & Propane
José González, In Our Nature
Jesca Hoop, Kismet
Jennifer Gentle, The Midnight Room
Jesu, Conqueror
Klaxons, Myths of the Near Future
Lavender Diamond, Imagine Our Love
Bettye LaVette, The Scene of the Crime
LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
Nick Lowe, At My Age
Nellie McKay, Obligatory Villagers
Nina Nastasia & Jim White, You Follow Me
No Age, Weirdo Rippers
Okkervil River, The Strange Names
Josh Ritter, The Historical Conquests Of
Shins, Wincing the Night Away
Elliott Smith, New Moon
Spanish Harlem Orchestra, United We Swing
Mavis Staples, We’ll Never Turn Back
Marnie Stern, In Advance of the Broken Arm
Richard Thompson, Sweet Warrior
Teddy Thompson, Up Front & Low Down
Ween, La Cucaracha
Tinariwen, Aman Iman
KT Tunstall, Drastic Fantastic
David Vandervelde, The Moonstation House Band
Voxtrot, s/t
Rufus Wainwright, Release the Stars
White Williams, Smoke
Wilco, Sky Blue Sky


Young Marble Giants, Colossal Youth
Betty Davis, Betty Davis/They Say I’m Different
Pylon, Gyrate


1. Amy Winehouse, “Rehab”
2. Rihanna feat. Jay-Z, “Umbrella”
3. Avril Lavigne, “Girlfriend”
4. Bonde do Rôle, “Gasolina”
5. Lil Mama, “Lip Gloss”
6. Robin Thicke, “Lost Without U”
7. M.I.A., “Boyz”
8. Fratellis, “Chelsea Dagger”
9. Spoon, “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb”
10. Grinderman, “No Pussy Blues”


Radiohead, “House of Cards”
Kanye West feat. Mos Def, ““Drunk and Hot Girls”
Bruce Springsteen, “Livin’ in the Future” (time travel theory here)


Fall Out Boy
Architecture in Helsinki
I’m From Barcelona
Mos Def
Polyphonic Spree
Dean & Britta
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Sage Francis


Keyshia Cole
Rilo Kiley


Levon Helm (he’s great and everything, but album is terrible, and gushy reviews are inexplicable)


Daft Punk


Dirty Projectors




Boredoms, 77BOADRUM, Brooklyn, 7/7/07 (I was behind this guy, at position #69)


50 Cent


Tom Zé, Danç-Êh-Sá


Radiohead, In Rainbows


Vampire Weekend


Black Kids




Sea Wolf (because they’re from L.A.)


Fallout from Sasha Frere-Jones’s misguided essay on the whiteness of indie-rock. David Brooks should never write about music, with the possible exception of political allegories drawn from Marx Brothers musical numbers. As has been noted, Carl Wilson performed an excellent tear-down of Frere-Jones’s piece.


Live Earth. It had nothing to do with saving the planet and everything to do with Al Gore’s ego. Ever wonder why the musicians most outspoken about environmental issues — Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Radiohead, U2, even emissions-credit-buying Coldplay — were not involved?

WORST ALBUM OF 2007 (tie)

Prince, Planet Earth. Come on people, it sucks. And let’s all just admit it: he hasn’t done anything worthy since Diamonds and Pearls (’91) and nothing truly great since Lovesexy (’88). He’s awesome in concert and looks good and all, but please.

Jesse Malin, Glitter in the Gutter. Bruce, say it ain’t so.

The year in live music.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Press release of the day: Dave and Pam Mustaine, neighborly neighbors

Lucky to have his own home spared in the recent Southern California wildfires, MEGADETH frontman DAVE MUSTAINE and his wife Pam recently organized the donation of toys to the Toys For Tots organization, which is being distributed to families affected by the fire. This month, pallets of toys bought in a joint venture with Hasbro Toys were delivered to Camp Pendleton, the town of Fallbrook and the North Coast Church, which the Mustaines attend. “We live in a little town,” says Dave, “and this is nothing any neighbor wouldn’t do for another neighbor.”

Monday, December 17, 2007

Best of 2006

Cat Power


1. Cat Power, The Greatest
2. Joanna Newsom, Ys
3. Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
4. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere
5. Ali Farka Touré, Savane
6. Camille, Le Fil
7. Beyoncé, B’Day
8. Regina Spektor, Begin to Hope
9. Grizzly Bear, Yellow House
10. TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain


Johnny Cash, Personal File
Ghostface Killah, Fishscale
Brand New, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me
Tom Zé, Estudando o Pagode
Ornette Coleman, Sound Grammar
M. Ward, Post-War
Psychic Ills, Early Violence
Clipse, Hell Hath No Fury
Smokey Robinson, Timeless Love
Wolf Eyes, Human Animal


The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America
The Grates, Gravity Won’t Get You High
Beirut, Gulag Orkestar
Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Ballad of the Broken Seas
Karen Dalton, In My Own Time
Nellie McKay, Pretty Little Head
Liars, Drum’s Not Dead
Howe Gelb, ’Sno Angel Like You
Josh Ritter, The Animal Years
Man Man, Six Demon Bag
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Show Your Bones
Comets on Fire, Avatar
Camera Obscura, Let’s Get Out of This Country
Toumani Diabaté’s Symmetric Orchestra, Boulevard de l’Indépendance
Jolie Holland, Springtime Can Kill You
Beth Orton, Comfort of Strangers
Band of Horses, Everything All the Time
Little Willies, s/t
Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint, The River in Reverse
Juana Molina, Son
Corinne Bailey Rae, s/t
Faun Fables, The Transit Rider
Sonic Youth, Rather Ripped
Oxford Collapse, Remember the Night Parties
Susana Baca, Travesias
Bob Dylan, Modern Times
Bert Jansch, The Black Swan
Television Personalities, My Dark Places
Bound Stems, Appreciation Night
Hot Chip, The Warning
Maritime, We, the Vehicles
Candi Staton, His Hands
Jenny Lewis, Rabbit Fur Coat
Mono, You Are There
Tool, 10,000 Days
Destroyer, Destroyer’s Rubies
Oakley Hall, Gypsum Strings


Watts Passage, The Magnetic Demonstration


Gnarls Barkley, “Crazy”
Nelly Furtado, “Promiscuous”
Rihanna, “SOS”
Beyoncé, “Irreplaceable”
Justin Timberlake, “My Love”
AFI, “Miss Murder”
Smokey Robinson, “I Love Your Face”
M. Ward, “Requiem”
Cat Power, “The Greatest”
Hot Chip, “And I Was a Boy From School”
Oxford Collapse, “Loser City”
Gwen Stefani, “Wind It Up”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Way Out”
Raconteurs, “Steady, As She Goes”
Corinne Bailey Rae, “Put Your Records On”

YES BUT 2005

Art Brut
Death Vessel
Dengue Fever
José González
Panic! at the Disco




Joanna Newsom




Ray LaMontagne


Sunn 0)))
Thom Yorke
Neko Case
Ray Davies
John Legend


Christina Aguilera
Brazilian Girls
Scissor Sisters
Drive-By Truckers
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Umphrey’s McGee


Sergio Mendes, Timeless

Best of 2005

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1. M.I.A., Arular
2. Frames, Burn the Maps
3. Sons and Daughters, The Repulsion Box
4. High on Fire, Blessed Black Wings
5. Kanye West, Late Registration
6. Decemberists, Picaresque
7. White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan
8. Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
9. Keyshia Cole, The Way It Is
10. Go! Team, Thunder, Lightning, Strike


Sufjan Stevens, Illinois
Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll
Keren Ann, Nolita
Feist, Let It Die
Spoon, Gimme Fiction
Teenage Fanclub, Man-Made
My Morning Jacket, Z
Magic Numbers, s/t
Kings of Leon, Aha Shake Heartbreak
A Band of Bees, Free the Bees


LCD Soundsystem, s/t
Lee Ann Womack, There’s More Where That Came From
Okkervil River, Black Sheep Boy
Teairra Mari, Roc-A-Fella Records Presents
Stars, Set Yourself on Fire
Amadou & Mariam, Dimanche a Bamako
Wolf Parade, Apologies to the Queen Mary
Van Morrison, Magic Time
V/A, Meridian 1970
Kraftwerk, Minimum-Maximum
Laura Veirs, Year of Meteors
Gruff Rhys, Yr Atal Genhedlaeth
Mastodon, Leviathan
Lightning Bolt, Hypermagic Mountain
Jenny Scheinman, 12 Songs
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Howl
Low, The Great Destroyer
Juan Maclean, Less Than Human


Mary Gauthier, “Mercy Now”
Lee Ann Womack, “I May Hate Myself in the Morning”
Gorillaz, “Feels Good Inc.”
Kanye West w/ Jamie Foxx, “Gold Digger”
Amerie, “1 Thing”
Gwen Stefani, “Hollaback Girl”
Weezer, “Beverly Hills”
Laura Veirs, “Galaxies”
R. Kelly, “Trapped in the Closet (Chapters 1-12)”
White Stripes, “My Doorbell”
Juelz Santana, “There It Go (The Whistle Song)”
Nickelback, “Photograph”
Brad Paisley, “Alcohol”
Keyshia Cole, “I Just Want It to Be Over”
Teairra Mari, “Make Her Feel Good”
Pussycat Dolls, “Don’t Cha”


Dungen, Ta Det Lungt
Herb Alpert series on Shout Factory
Numero series
V/A, Good for What Ails You: Music of the Medicine Shows 1926-1937
Coltrane finds
Dinosaur Jr.
Terry Reid


Brazilian Girls
Bloc Party


Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Mountain Goats
Hold Steady
Fiery Furnaces
50 Cent
Shakira (her music, anyway)
all “American Idol” alumni
Foo Fighters
Rolling Stones
Paul McCartney




Korn, See You on the Other Side


Black Eyed Peas, “My Humps”


Bright Eyes, Digital Ash in a Digital Urn

Best of 2004

wolf eyes


1. Arcade Fire, Funeral
2. Franz Ferdinand, s/t
3. TV on the Radio, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
4. Kanye West, The College Dropout
5. Regina Spektor, Soviet Kitsch
6. Wolf Eyes, Burned Mind
7. Vietnam, The Concrete’s Always Grayer on the Other Side of the Street
8. Usher, Confessions
9. Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Like Bad News
10. William Shatner, Has Been


Mr. Airplane Man, C’mon DJ
Joanna Newsom, The Milk-Eyed Mender
Devendra Banhart, Rejoicing in the Hands
Liars, They Were Wrong, So We Drowned
Mosquitos, Sunshine Barato
Bang on a Can Meets Kyaw Kyaw Naing
Nick Cave, Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus
Tom Waits, Real Gone
Futureheads, s/t
Hot Snakes, Audit in Progress


Cucumbers, All Things to You
Tilly and the Wall, Wild Like Children
Caetano Veloso, A Foreign Sound
Blonde Redhead, Misery Is a Butterfly
Comets on Fire, Blue Cathedral
Laura Veirs, Carbon Glacier
Faun Fables, Family Album
Mouthus, s/t
Elliott Smith, From a Basement on the Hill
PJ Harvey, Uh Huh Her
Walkmen, Bows + Arrows
Bright Eyes/Neva Dinova, One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels
The Divine Comedy, Absent Friends
Iron & Wine, Our Endless Numbered Days
Division of Laura Lee, Das Not Compute
On Air Library, s/t
John Cale, HoboSapiens
Black Dice, Creature Comforts
Pink Grease, This Is for Real
Blood Brothers, Crimes
Chingy, Powerballin’
Beastie Boys, To the 5 Boroughs
Danger Mouse & Jemini, Ghetto Pop Life
Sonic Youth, Sonic Nurse
Hem, Eveningland
v/a, Lif Up Yuh Leg an Trample


Brian Eno (8 albums)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly soundtrack
Eccentric Soul series on Numero


Mos Def
Magnetic Fields
Sondre Lerche
Destiny’s Child
Secret Machines
Northern State
Talib Kweli
Mooney Suzuki
Le Tigre


Scissor Sisters
Drive-By Truckers
Courtney Love
Polyphonic Spree
Rufus Wainwright


The Streets
Velvet Revolver


Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart, Alfie: Music From the Motion Picture


Apparently I didn’t make a list of singles for 2004.

Best of 2003

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1. Sparks, Lil’ Beethoven
2. Tall Dwarfs, The Sky Above, the Mud Below
3. Shins, Chutes Too Narrow
4. Fountains of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers
5. Kings of Leon, Youth & Young Manhood
6. Broken Social Scene, You Forgot It in People
7. Outkast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
8. Warren Zanes, Memory Girls
9. The High Strung, These Are Good Times
10. Grandaddy, Sumday


Webb Bothers, s/t
Peaches, Fatherfucker
Strokes, Room on Fire
Stills, Logic Will Break Your Heart
Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, Streetcore
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell
White Stripes, Elephant
Super Furry Animals, Phantom Power
Northern State, Dying in Stereo
Lightning Bolt, Wonderful Rainbow
V/A, Watch How the People Dancing: Unity Sounds From London Dancehall, 1986-89
Supergrass, Life on Other Planets
Jayhawks, Rainy Day Music
Ex Models, Zoo Psychology
Notwist, Neon Golden


Sleep, Dopesmoker


Mondo Generator, A Drug Problem That Never Existed

Best of 2002



1. Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
2. Sonic Youth, Murray Street
3. Afel Bocoum, Damon Albarn, Toumani Diabaté and Friends, Mali Music
4. Spoon, Kill the Moonlight
5. George Harrison, Brainwashed
6. Breeders, Title TK
7. Low, Trust
8. Orchestra Baobab, Pirates Choice
9. Bright Eyes, Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground


10. Pulses, s/t


Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head
Super Furry Animals, Rings Around the World
Doves, The Last Broadcast
High on Fire, Surrounded by Thieves
Electric Wizard, Let Us Prey
Sondre Lerche, Faces Down
Salif Keita, Moffou
Gogol Bordello, Multi Kontra Kulti vs. Irony
Hot Snakes, Suicide Invoice
Radio 4, Gotham!


Oneida, Each One Teach One
Andrew W.K., I Get Wet
Bruce Springsteen, The Rising
Manowar, Warriors of the World
Eminem, The Eminem Show
Hella, Hold Your Horse Is
Mekons, OOOH! (Out of Our Heads)
Koufax, Social Life
Walkmen/Calla, Split EP
Ex Models/Seconds, Split EP
Black Keys, The Big Come Up
Paul Westerberg, Stereo
Doug Martsch, Now You Know
MC Paul Barman, Paullelujah!
Sigur Rós, ()
Radio Zumbido, Los Ultimos Dias del AM
Suicide, American Supreme
Clipse, Lord Willin’
Buffalo Daughter, i.
Brazzaville, Rouge on Pockmarked Cheeks
Animals of Africa: Sounds of the Jungle, Plain & Bush


1. Andrew W.K., “I Love NYC”
2. Rapture, “House of Jealous Lovers”
3. Oneida, “Sheets of Easter”
4. Chemical Brothers with Beth Orton, “The State We’re In”
5. Wilco, “Heavy Metal Drummer”
6. Nelly, “Hot in Herre”
7. Clipse, “Grindin’ ”
8. Streets, “Stay Positive”
9. Super Furry Animals, “(Drawing) Rings Around the World”
10. Manowar, “Warriors of the World United”


Frank Black
Queens of the Stone Age
The Vines
Foo Fighters
Black Dice
DJ Shadow
Beth Orton
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion


Nix Breeders.
9. Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head
10. Salif Keita, Moffou

Best of 2001



1. Spoon, Girls Can Tell
2. White Stripes, White Blood Cells
3. Lightning Bolt, Ride the Skies
4. Manu Chao, Proxima Estación: Esperanza
5. Radiohead, Amnesiac
6. Low, Things We Lost in the Fire
7. Moldy Peaches, Moldy Peaches
8. Webb Brothers, Maroon
9. Fugu, Fugu 1
10. Tortoise, Standards


Nick Lowe, The Convincer
The Shins, Oh, Inverted World


1. Bob Dylan, “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum”
2. Webb Brothers, “I Can’t Believe You’re Gone”
3. Daryll-Ann, “Surely Justice”
4. White Stripes, “Hotel Yorba”
5. Rapture, “Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks”
6. Pink, “Get the Party Started”
7. Teenage Fanclub, “Dumb Dumb Dumb”
8. Daniel Johnston, “Funeral Girl”
9. Neil Young, “Imagine”
10. Peaches, “Fuck the Pain Away”