East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Top ten: Sk8ers beat h8ers

  1. Lupe Fiasco, "Kick, Push": Being straight edge makes you a rebel. Hip hop's outreach to skater boys is hardly shocking -- they've always been a key demographic, and everyone wears Vans now. The pleasant surprise is the "my papa was a rodeo too" romanticism in the second verse.
  2. JoJo, "Too Little Too Late": Only now is the distinction between good guys and bad guys finally irrelevant. What matters is who has the best software, or at least who can use such tech to delay oversinging till the last set of choruses. Plus: Gary Giddins in the video! (Well, a copy of Riding on a Blue Note, anyway.)
  3. Chanel, "My Life (Haji & Emanuel remix)": As play-by-played here. I don't keep up with rave enough to know if "post-electrohouse" is a joke or not, but the blips seem to be in the right place. Especially when they're doubled by blops.
  4. Jay Dee, "Won't Do": Cut down at his peak. Dilla's rapping is fine, but it's the rippling synths that are impossibly pretty. This is the last time anyone should sample "Footsteps in the Dark", though.
  5. Gerry Hemingway Quartet, "Kimkwella": On electric bass, Mark Helias messes around with harmonics for a minute. Then he launches into a classic syncopated bassline, bouncing around like Brownian motion. Over this indestructible beat we get tenor responding to trumpet, with Hemingway's drums snapping at their heels.
  6. Lily Allen, "Smile": The ska-tissue bottom end suits her schadenfreude. If she's mean, it's payback for so many disingenuous pop I-want-you-backs.
  7. The Coup, "ShoYoAss": Missed this one last year, my bad. "You're voting which you're hoping/Will stop the guns from smoking/Is someone fucking joking?"
  8. Dennis González's Spirit Meridian, "Bush Medicine": "If you have a cold, you take cold medicine; if you are suffering from Bush, you have to take 'Bush Medicine.'" The spoonful of sugar is the calypso, while González and Oliver Lake blow eight-month pregnant notes at each other.
  9. Blueprint, "Big Girls Need Love Too": More empathy than is strictly necessary: skinny girls need love too too. A perfect song for an intervention.
  10. Lucinda Williams, "Are You Alright?": Her quarter-century run of A-list albums ends with West, leaving her spot as my favourite solo artist ripe for Kanye's plucking. Nothing wrong with this one, though: it's structured like an Essence song in its repetition, but foggier and warmer.
Ten more: Lily Allen, "Alfie" (video is way beyond); Basement Jaxx, "Hush Boy"; Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra, "Happy Hour Blues"; Camera Obscura, "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken"; Lupe Fiasco, "American Terrorist"; Handsome Family, "All the Time in Airports"; Kurupt, "Stalkin'"; The Rapture, "Don Gon Do It"; Sloan, "Right or Wrong"; Tartit, "Ansari".

Notable entries in the good-but-not-that-good file: Balkan Beat Box, "Hassan's Mimuna"; Cherish, "Do It To It"; Lethal Bizzle, "Pow"; Mastodon, "Siberian Divide"; Nils Petter Molvaer, "Frozen (live)"; My Chemical Romance, "Welcome to the Black Parade"; Peter, Bjorn and John, "Young Folks"; The Raconteurs, "Steady as She Goes"; Sugababes, "Red Dress"; Justin Timberlake, "SexyBack".

Next month: Can the new Arcade Fire be as Really Good, Actually as it sounds on first listen?