East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Decadal music notes

Jimmie Dale Gilmore: Smokey doesn't write much anymore, which should be fine as he's as heartugging a ballad singer as we have. The quality of his performances, however, seem strangely uncorrelated with the quality of his material. Who could've guessed he'd pull out more from the ersatz melodrama of "Darcy Farrow" than from "Mack the Knife"? Anyone who doesn't believe in Verfremdungseffekt, for a start.

Kocani Orkestar: Most people watching Borat wouldn't have realised the soundtrack was mostly Balkan and Gypsy music, with nothing to do with Kazakhstan. "Siki, Siki Baba" stands even from the Mahala Rai Banda and Fanfare Ciocarlia peaks, with the most meaningful "oh-oh-oh" chorus ever. Hope they've finally got their royalties.

Northern State: Hey, Lauryn had skills, and what did they get her? Well, recently. Northern State's early enthusiasm has few precedents, and it was enough to make the great lines in "Dying in Stereo" sound great. They never managed to hold up over anything longer than a mini-album, but they seem certain to inspire someone who will.

Liz Phair: If Liz Phair isn't up to Exile in Guyville and whitechocolatespaceegg, that just means it'll be in the middle of best-of-decade list instead of near the top. The critics instead took it as a fuck-you, and Phair responded by telling them to fuck off, so they did, and there went the Capitol deal. Lost in all this was "Little Digger", a terrific piece of writing; fortunately the kids realised "Why Can't I?" was a terrific piece of popcraft, and that song will soundtrack teen crushes for years yet.

Yo La Tengo: By now you know they're going to make good records until their limbs fall off. My favourite this decade is I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass, among art's deepest explorations of the upside of monogamy even though I couldn't quote you a sentence of it. Slightly short of Sonic Youth as music, though not as a life project.



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