East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Top ten: Talkin' loud and sayin' nothing

  1. Joanna Newsom, "Emily": Newsom's knack for lyrics has little to do with meaning; rather, it has something to do with mood and more with sound. Her use of similar-sounding words, and words that can me made to sound similar, is as clever as the best rappers can claim. So I forgive her "thee"s. Don't know about her "hydrocephalitic".
  2. Tom Waits, "Road to Peace": It begins with a teenage suicide bomber and end with a lost God. It may not be hard to capture the horror of the Israeli-Palestianian coflict, and to condemn American policy in relation to it. It's another thing to quote Kissinger on the subject; still another to have the first act of violemnce occur on King George Ave, Jerusalem.
  3. Clipse, "Wamp Wamp (What It Do)": Just when the Neptunes beat, with its same damn drum break floating over the top again and again, is sounding like a classic, Malice spits "the family close knit and deep like the Hutu, you cockroaches." You'd worry -- if this didn't suggest he's watched Hotel Rwanda, and if he didn't say "cockroaches" in his best Tony Montana accent. If only all assholes were so well-informed, and so insincere.
  4. The Klezmatics, "Hanuka Dance": The Klezmatics end the giggliest of seasonal party albums with a post-prandial unwinding: sit on the floor and watch the kids dance. Lorin Sklamberg turns in yet another classic vocal, employing the most delicate of passagios. As full of blissful warmth as chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
  5. Bobby Pinson, "Don't Ask Me How I Know": I put Pinson's Man Like Me album at #37 on my 2005 list; its wisdom seemed obvious it took me a couple of years to discover it wasn't. This song implies the narrator knows through experience, which mustn't be true. Don't ask Bobby, he's just the songwriter.
  6. Hot Chip, "Over and Over": Note how each spelled-out word is one letter shorter than the last: makes more sense than cinquains, let alone English-language haiku. Nerd flirting at its finest.
  7. Dengue Fever, "We Were Gonna": Cambodian psychedelic rock was extinguished by the Khmer Rouge; this SoCal-based revival band was nearly wiped out by the INS, who jailed their singer for overstaying. Now legal, their new found fascination with Ethiopique funk makes them a little too El Lay, but in small doses they kick out the multiculti jams like nobody.
  8. Joanna Newsom, "Sawdust & Diamonds": The lines may be a couple of feet or a clutch of anapests. Almost every one rises and falls in one breath, beginning in front of the beat and ending behind it.
  9. Nâdiya ft. Smartzee, "Tous ces mots": What French pop has that Anglophone pop lacks: roaring engines. Neither form wants for guitar thumps and bad rapping, but rarely do both appear in one song.
  10. The Roots, "False Media": Black Thought is the latest hip-hopper to have something inside him snapped by Repbulican rule. Jumping off a line from "Don't Believe the Hype", he raps from the POV of GWB, and the psychology is unconvincing largely because of his character's awareness.
Ten more: Camille, "Ta Douleur"; Ornette Coleman, "First Meeting" and "Matador"; Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, "How Do I Let a Good Man Down?"; Mastodon, "Sleeping Giant"; P.O.S. ft. Craig Finn, "Safety in Speed"; Bernardo Sassetti Trio, "Refleos/Mov Contrario um dia/Atraves do vidro"; Irene Schweizer & George Lewis, "First Meeting"; Bill Sheffield, "I Don't Hate Nobody"; Tokyo Police Club, "Citizens of Tomorrow".

I wish it were 1980 so she wouldn't be born yet: Sandi Thom.



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