East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Seventy-three albums I liked in 2007

Your mileage may vary, but for me, best year ever.

1. M.I.A., Kala: We are the one who make a brighter day, so let's start giving.
2. Arcade Fire, Neon Bible: Helping us understand why this world-historical moment is emo.
3. Gogol Bordello, Super Taranta!: Helping us understand why we shouldn't be emo in this world-historical moment.
4. Golden Afrique Vol. 2: "The best Congolese album in the world... ever!"
5. Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra, MTO Vol. 1: Translated to the present, or, all your Basie are belong to us.
6. Miranda Lambert, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Unlike the Dixie Chicks, she understands the fun of violence is in the anticipation.
7. Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass: Ira should get into a Guitar Hero game any century now.
8. Jewels and Binoculars, Ships with Tattooed Sails: Better than Muldaur's Dylan covers album because it doesn't have any words.
9. Gothic Archies, The Tragic Treasury: Deadpan with a capital "dead".
10. African Pearls: Congo: Rumba on the River: A more coherent Congolese collection, though with lower highs than the Golden Afrique volume.

11. Art Pepper, Unreleased Art Vol. 1
12. Powerhouse Sound, Oslo/Chicago Breaks
13. Lupe Fiasco, Food and Liquor
14. Manu Chao, La Radiolina
15. The Apples in Stereo, New Magnetic Wonder
16. Common, Finding Forever
17. Lil Wayne, Da Drought 3
18. Youssou N'Dour, Rokku Mi Rokka
19. Rilo Kiley, Under the Blacklight
20. Brakes, The Beatific Visions
21. Justice, Cross
22. Maria Muldaur, Heart of Mine: Love Songs of Bob Dylan
23. Balkan Beat Box, Nu Med
24. Fountains of Wayne, Traffic and Weather
25. Les Savy Fav, Let's Stay Friends
26. The Rough Guide to Astor Piazzolla
27. Lily Allen, Alright, Still
28. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
29. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
30. The White Stripes, Icky Thump
31. Africa Remix: Ah Freak Iya
32. Fats Domino, Alive and Kickin'
33. James McMurtry, Childish Things
34. Fanfare Ciocarlia, Queens and Kings
35. Bebo Valdes, Bebo de Cuba
36. Lee "Scratch" Perry, Panic in Babylon
37. James Murphy & Pat Mahoney, FabricLive.38
38. Vandermark 5, Free Jazz Classics Vols 3 & 4
39. Against Me!, New Wave
40. Public Enemy, How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul
41. The Thermals, The Body, The Blood, The Machine
42. Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat
43. David Murray Black Saint Quartet, Sacred Ground
44. Albert van Veenendaal, Predictable Point of Impact
45. The Sound of Girls Aloud
46. Busdriver, Fear of a Black Tangent
47. Billy Bang Quartet, Above and Beyond
48. Blueprint, 1988
49. Jesus H. Christ & the Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse
50. The Knife, Silent Shout
51. John Fogerty, Revival
52. The Ponys, Celebration Castle
53. Kanye West, Graduation
54. The Handsome Family, Last Days of Wonder
55. Wolfgang Muthspiel & Brian Blade, Friendly Travelers
56. Lucinda Williams, West
57. Mariem Hassan con Leyoad
58. Nils Petter Molvaer, An American Compilation
59. Sir Douglas Quintet, Live in Austin, TX
60. Kahil El'Zabar's Infinity Orchestra, Transmigration
61. Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra, New Magical Kingdom
62. Mario Pavone Sextet, Deez to Blues
63. Scritti Politti, White Bread, Black Beer
64. Balkan Beat Box
65. Gerry Hemingway Quartet, The Whimbler
66. Dennis Gonzalez's Spirit Meridian, Idle Wild
67. Bokoor Beats
68. Radiohead, In Rainbows
69. Rachid Taha, Tekitoi
70. Ibrahim Electric Meets Ray Anderson
71. Scott Hamilton, Back in New York
72. Steve Lacy Quartet, Esteem
73. Nils Petter Molvaer, Streamer

For completeness, here's everything I listened to this year.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Thirty (+1) movies I liked in 2007

1. Inland Empire: Lynch gets grungier than ever before. Laura Dern's is one of the all-time great performances.
2. Children of Men: Two extraordinary tracking shots and Clive Owen: who cares if the plot sucks?
2 1/2. Killer of Sheep: A promising debut. Remember the name: Charles Burnett. Expect big things from this guy.
3. Southland Tales: Visionary and ludicrous, depending on whether it's trying to remake Mulholland Drive or Back to the Future II (or whether Mandy Moore or Sarah Michelle Gellar is on the Rock's arm).
4. Boarding Gate: In any other year, Asia Argento's would be the best performance. Instead it's just the most astonishing.
5. Half Nelson: Ryan Gosling is better when his co-star is flesh and blood; for one thing, a sex doll can't do the Interrupting Cow joke.
6. I'm Not There: Cate Blanchett should get another Oscar. Charlotte Gainsbourg should be the biggest star in the world.
7. The Host: But could it beat Mothra?
8. Pan's Labyrinth: Leave something to me and my imagination.
9. Brand Upon the Brain!: Sentimental suits Maddin.
10. Knocked Up: Doing a public service: discouraging beard growth.

11. Control
12. The Bourne Ultimatum
13. Grindhouse
14. Indigenes
15. The Darjeeling Limited
16. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
17. Letters from Iwo Jima
18. Syndromes and a Century
19. The Lives of Others
20. Talledega Nights
21. Happy Feet
22. Woman on the Beach
23. Once
24. Offside
25. How Is Your Fish Today?
26. Music and Lyrics
27. Ratatouille
28. Idlewild
29. Venus
30. The Departed

Honorable mentions: Avenue Montaigne, The Devil Wears Prada, The Godfather of Disco, Lars and the Real Girl, The Last King of Scotland, No End in Sight (despite the plank in its eye), Ocean's 13, The Simpsons Movie, 16 Blocks, Stardust. Biggest disappointment: I Don't Want to Sleep Alone.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Thirteen books I liked in 2007

Screw novels. The only recently published novel I managed to get through this year was (i) written during WW2 and (ii) a fucking masterpiece. I do have one sure shot lined up for the near future.

1. Irene Nemirovsky, Suite Francaise: Sharper than Jean Renoir and almost as compassionate.
2. David Shapiro, New and Selected Poems: A concise argument for his inclusion on the New York School's Mt Rushmnore. Sorry Kenneth Koch.
3. Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma: Interpreting "you are what you eat" morally.
4. Louise Richardson, What Terrorists Want: Shockingly, not heavenly virgins.
5. Elizabeth Willis, Meteoric Flowers: Some biology here, some philosophy there: Erasmus Darwin would be proud. And confused.
6. Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: Crumb's family was just as messed up, but Bechdel managed to turn out nice. But not soft.
7. Irina Denezhkina, Give Me (Songs for Lovers): The New Russia: just as drunk and emo as the Old Russia, but with high-speed internet.
8. Christopher Middleton, The Tenor on Horseback: Old fart still smells better than anyone when he's on his game.
9. Julie Phillips, James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon: Literary drag as liberation.
10. David M. Oshinsky, Polio: An American Story: In the good old days, drug companies profiteered from prevention more than cure.
11. Ed Brubaker, Captain America Omnibus: R.I.P. American democracy.
12. Douglas Wolk, Reading Comics: Sometimes it's hard to do, especially when Dave Sim is writing.
13. Gene Roberts & Hank Klibanoff, The Race Beat: Eisenhower/Kennedy-era America was so racist that Negro reporters couldn't cover civil rights stories without getting the shit kicked out of them, or worse.

Might be number one next year: Peter Cole's anthology The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, which I'm three-eights through, might be the most revelatory work of translation of the decade. The few pages of Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao I read in the airport bookstore were the only pages of a new novel I read this year that were anywhere near the level of Suite Francaise.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bee Movie: In which truck drivers listen to NPR

A Soviet tractor movie for liberals, the political realignments being (i) working drones are noble and happy with their jobs, but you really don't want to be one of them, and (ii) don't fuck with the market, or the Invisible Hand will lay the smack down on everybody until y'all get back to work. Redeeming feature: normalisation of interspecies romance. B MINUS


Friday, December 14, 2007

99 Lives

My 99 favourite tracks of 2007, where "of 2007" is interpreted loosely, so that I can slip a song from 1920 into the top ten. Number one is 87 years ahead of its time, so it evens out.

As usual, give me your address and I'll send you a CD.
  1. M.I.A., "Bird Flu"

  2. Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse, "Valerie"

  3. Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra, "Darling Nikki"

  4. Arcade Fire, "(Antichrist Television Blues)"

  5. The Thermals, "A Pillar of Salt"

  6. UGK ft. OutKast, "Int'l Player's Anthem (I Choose You)"

  7. Monroe Silver, "Pittsburgh, PA"

  8. Dragonette, "I Get Around"

  9. Paul Nabor, "Naguya Nei"

  10. Art Pepper, "Body and Soul"

  11. M.I.A., "Paper Planes"

  12. Buck 65, "Dang"

  13. Roswell Rudd & the Mongolian Buryat Band, "Buryat Boogie"

  14. Amy Winehouse, "Rehab"

  15. Justice, "D.A.N.C.E."

  16. Brakes, "Porcupine or Pineapple"

  17. The Dollyrots, "My Best Friend's Hot"

  18. Gogol Bordello, "Ultimate"

  19. M.I.A., "Boyz"

  20. Rihanna ft. Jay-Z, "Umbrella"

  21. Nyboma, "Double-Double"

  22. Amerie, "Gotta Work"

  23. The Apples in Stereo, "7 Stars"

  24. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, "Menoon Yaar Manawan"

  25. The Knife, "Marble House"

  26. Arcade Fire, "No Cars Go"

  27. Against Me!, "White People for Peace"

  28. Wolfgang Muthspiel & Brian Blade, "Gnadenwald"

  29. Neko Case, "Margaret vs. Pauline"

  30. Arcade Fire, "Keep the Car Running"

  31. Lupe Fiasco, "Kick, Push"

  32. Yo La Tengo, "The Story of Yo La Tango"

  33. Miranda Lambert, "Famous in a Small Town"

  34. Beirut, "Elephant Gun"

  35. Spoon, "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb"

  36. David S. Ware Quartet, "Ganesh Sound"

  37. Girls Aloud, "Biology"

  38. The White Stripes, "Rag and Bone"

  39. TV on the Radio, "I Was a Lover"

  40. Katharine McPhee, "Over It"

  41. Miranda Lambert, "Desperation"

  42. Termanology, "Watch How It Go Down"

  43. (((Powerhouse Sound))), "2-1-75"

  44. Lil Wayne, "Something You Forgot"

  45. Joanna Newsom, "Sawdust and Diamonds"

  46. Los Campesinos!, "We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives"

  47. Either/Orchestra, "Shellèla"

  48. LCD Soundsystem, "Someone Great"

  49. M.I.A., "Jimmy"

  50. Lee "Scratch" Perry, "Fight to the Finish"

  51. J Dilla, "Won't Do"

  52. Tabu Ley Rochereau, "Aon Aon"

  53. Jewels and Binoculars, "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)"

  54. Fats Domino, "Give Me Some"

  55. Gogol Bordello, "American Wedding"

  56. Fountains of Wayne, "New Routine"

  57. Chanel, "My Life (Haji & Emanuel remix)"

  58. Kanye West ft. Daft Punk, "Stronger"

  59. Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra, "Cry Baby Cry"

  60. Fujiya & Miyagi, "Ankle Injuries"

  61. The White Stripes, "Icky Thump"

  62. The Handsome Family, "All the Time in Airports"

  63. The Gothic Archies, "Freakshow"

  64. Lucinda Willians, "Fancy Funeral"

  65. Manu Chao, "Rainin in Paradize"

  66. Radiohead, "Bodysnatchers"

  67. Youssou N'Dour, "Pullo Àrdo"

  68. Justice vs Simian, "We Are Your Friends"

  69. Tom Waits, "Road to Peace"

  70. The Klezmatics, "Hanuka Dance"

  71. Common ft. Lily Allen, "Drivin' Me Wild"

  72. Joanna Newsom, "Emily"

  73. James McMurtry, "Six Year Drought"

  74. The Ponys, "She's Broken"

  75. Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra, "Happy Hour Blues"

  76. Lupe Fiasco, "Hurt Me Soul"

  77. African Jazz ft. Grand Kalle, "El que Siembra Su Maiz"

  78. Lil Wayne, "Live from the 504"

  79. Blueprint, "Big Girls Need Love Too"

  80. The Coup, "ShoYoAss"

  81. Björk, "Earth Intruders"

  82. DJ Koze, "My Grandmotha"

  83. Gerry Hemingway Quartet, "Kimkwella"

  84. Tom Waits, "Bottom of the World"

  85. Escort, "Starlight"

  86. Brakes, "Spring Chicken"

  87. Rilo Kiley, "Under the Blacklight"

  88. Yo La Tengo, "Beanbag Chair"

  89. Gogol Bordello, "Forces of Victory"

  90. Arctic Monkeys, "Fluorescent Adolescent"

  91. The Gothic Archies, "We Are the Gothic Archies"

  92. Timbaland ft. Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake, "Give It to Me"

  93. The Thermals, "Here's Your Future"

  94. JoJo, "Too Little, Too Late"

  95. Gogol Bordello, "Dub the Frequencies of Love"

  96. Lupe Fiasco ft. Matthew Santos, "American Terrorist"

  97. Common, "The People"

  98. Fanfare Ciocarlia, "Born to Be Wild"

  99. Eve, "Tambourine"


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I don't know if I've wasted my life, or if I'm just old

To my class: "How many of you have seen Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp?"

(blank stares)

EDIT: Well of course it's on YouTube.

I enjoy funny, caricatured ethnic voices far too much.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Top ten: Hawks and doves

This year's edition of 99 Lives will be done in a week (pre-order now!) In the meantime, here are selections from the 300 song shortlist.

1, 2. Art Pepper, "Body and Soul"; "Besame Mucho": "One of the nicest things I think I've played in my life," Art remarks after a 13-minute rendition of "Body and Soul". If Coleman Hawkins's 3-minute take remains untouchable, this comes a respectable second. It's more stately, but he does cop some of Bean's key changes. The first album in the Unreleased Art series also contains just another 15-minute version of "Besame Mucho", only more rugged than usual. Give Laurie Pepper some residuals here.
3. Against Me!, "White People for Peace": Praise to Butch Vig, white person for obsessive overdubbing. And when you think about it, "Protest songs in response to military aggression" makes for a better chorus than "A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido". Well, maybe not quite.

4. Termanology, "Watch How It Go Down": That a guy who urges gangbangers to shoot only whom they want to shoot could be hailed as a great moralist shows that hood ethics have neither progressed nor regressed in the post-Pac era. And they won't change soon: that's economics.

5. Lucinda Williams, "Fancy Funeral": I'd rather have them cut me up and pass me all around. Which reminds me, can I be an organ donor here without a drivers licence?
6. Lil Wayne, "Something You Forgot": Yes, him again, this time getting emo about the "pistol to my holster". Only from a guy secure enough to kiss his daddy.

7. Los Hijos del Sol, "Si Me Quieres": Wasn't this an Uncle Scrooge story, where the ducks go to Cuzco to loot Inca gold? Scrooge can't get the treasure, so he just buys the rights to it. Marx would've been confused.
8. John Fogerty, "I Can't Take It No More": It ain't him, it's G.W.B. with the star-spangled eyes.

9, 10. Fats Domino, "I'll Be All Right"; "Give Me Some": This year the penny finally dropped for me regarding Fats, and he now seems as titanic as Chuck and Elvis. These simple 2000-ish tracks are worthy of his stature, never hungry, always ready to eat.

Eleven more: The Apples in Stereo, "Play Tough"; Art Brut, "People in Love"; Busdriver, "Befriend the Friendless Friendster"; Los Campesinos!, "It Started with a Mixx"; Fanfare Ciocarlia, "Born to Be Wild" and "Duj Duj"; Awilo Longomba, "Coupe Bibamba"; Malouma, "Mreimida"; The Shins, "Girl Sailor"; Bruce Springsteen, "Radio Nowhere"; Tokyo Police Club, "Shoulders and Arms".

Not a horrible song, but why do people think it's good? Sean Kingston, "Beautiful Girls".