Sunday, November 28, 2021





I made a list of the best indie and alternative Steely Dan covers for Spin. 

And I wrote another Spin piece about 10 albums where a new drummer helped an artist find their sound or break new ground. 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

 



George Bonanza's new record Gymnastics is out, and I contributed drums to the track "Crossbow." This is I believe the 6th song of his that I've played on in just the past year or so, it's been fun to send him some drum tracks and see what he turns it into, if anyone ever wants drums for a track feel free to ask. My latest Western Blot album also dropped earlier this month. 

The 2021 Remix Report Card, Vol. 4

Friday, November 26, 2021





I'll post a year-end report card in December, but in the meantime, here's the final installment of the year, along with the Spotify playlist (and here's Vol. 1, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3). 

"A-O-K (Remix)" by Tai Verdes featuring 24kGoldn
"A-O-K" is, on a smaller scale, the same kind of pop/rock/rap hybrid hit that crossed over to multiple radio formats that "Mood" was last year, so 24kGoldn's appearance on the remix makes a certain kind of sense. But I still just hate "A-O-K" and think it's not really possible to salvage it. 
Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: C-

"Fancy Like (Remix)" by Walker Hayes featuring Kesha
Country's big crossover hit of 2021 is a bullshit TikTok song about Applebee's, and I feel mean saying that this song is already pretty close to Kesha's sound and brand but hey, it is, this remix is a shrewd idea. But again, not really possible to salvage it, though her harmonies sound good on the chorus. 
Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: C

"Find A Way (Remix)" by H.E.R. featuring Lil Durk and Lil Baby
The album version of "Find A Way" just had Lil Baby on it, so his running mate Durk just added a verse for the single mix. It feels like just a little too much for a H.E.R. track, though, and Durk's warbling over the intro sounds awful. 
Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: C+

"Fue Mejor (Remix)" by Kali Uchis featuring SZA
After "Telepatia" was a surprise hit from Kali Uchis's Spanish language album, it's a good idea to remix another song from the album with a big star, but I didn't expect SZA to sing in Spanish, or for it to sound pretty good. 
Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: B-

"FWMGAB (Remix)" by French Montana featuring Moneybagg Yo
Bad Boy isn't listed alongside Sony and Epic on French Montana's latest album, and it's not really clear whether Bad Boy is an active label in any sense anymore. But Diddy is nonetheless French's latest video and also makes a cameo on the "FWMGAB" remix. Moneybagg has never really been on a New York beat like this before but he sounds pretty good on it. 
Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: B+ 

"Gyalis (Remix)" by Capella Grey featuring Chris Brown and Popcaan
The original "Gyalis" is absolutely awful so this remix can't help but improve upon it, especially when Popcaan shows up. 
Best Verse: Popcaan
Overall Grade: B

"I Like Dat (Remix)" by T-Pain and Kehlani featuring BIA
I love "I Like Dat" because T-Pain takes the beat from one of his biggest early hits and writes a distinct new song over it that's also a hit. And he once again flexes his creativity on the remix, with a new verse and the "I Like Funky Music" horn break incorporated into the beat, and a little outro riffing on "Bia Bia," when all I was really expecting was the BIA verse, which is also pretty good. 
Best Verse: T-Pain
Overall Grade: A-

"Ok Cool (Remix)" by CEO Trayle featuring Gunna
"Ok Cool" is the biggest song by Chicago rapper CEO Trayle, and it's kind of a piercingly blunt and sometimes funny breakup song, I don't really fuck with a lot of emotionally toxic rap music about relationships but this song feels kind of immediate and unguarded. But it's not really the kind of song that you can easily plug a guest verse into, and even though Gunna sticks to the topic and says "bitch" a lot, it just tips the song over into feeling more gross than when it was just one guy venting. 
Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: C-

"Perfect (Remix)" by Logic featuring Lil Wayne and A$AP Ferg
Logic recently "retired" from music for roughly 11 months before he resumed releasing new music (and not even that long, really, since there was a whole album under an alias in that period too). So it's a funny illustration of how brief and fake that retirement was that one of Logic's first new tracks after unretiring was a remix of the single from his farewell album. 
Best Verse: Lil Wayne
Overall Grade: C+

"RIP Young (Remix)" by Isaiah Rashad featuring Project Pat and Juicy J
"RIP Young" was one of the most popular songs on The House Is Burning and this remix appears on the new deluxe edition, I love that Project Pat has had a nice run of notable features lately, he killed this verse. 
Best Verse: Project Pat 
Overall Grade: B

"Sneaky Link 2.0" by Hxllywood featuring Soulja Boy and Kayla Nicole
It seems like anytime an obnoxious slang term starts spreading, it's just a matter of time before it becomes the hook of a hit song, and I will give Hxllywood credit that he came out with this song really early in the process of the words "sneaky link" becoming ubiquitous. But it's still just a very mediocre song, and Kayla Nicole really livens it up, perfect vibe for her. 
Best Verse: Kayla Nicole
Overall Grade: C+

"Touch Down 2 Cause Hell (Remix)" by HD4President featuring 2 Chainz and Fredo Bang
This whole song is an homage to Boosie and his early hitmaker era, but Boosie is on some bullshit these days so it's just as well that he's not on the remix, and it's fun to hear Tity Boi on a bounce track like this. 
Best Verse: 2 Chainz
Overall Grade: B

"Transparent Soul (Remix)" by Willow featuring Kid Cudi and Travis Barker
"Transparent Soul" is one of my favorite songs out of this whole trend of everybody from outside the traditional rock world suddenly making pop punk and alt-rock, and Kid Cudi could be seen as as a forefather of that scene since he was doing stuff like the WZRD album a decade ago. But I don't particularly like Cudi's style of singing and I think it sounds terrible and awkward here and the acoustic section just doesn't work. 
Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: F

"Twinnem (Remix)" by Coi Leray featuring DaBaby
"Twinnem" is, like the original versions of "Gyalis," "Perfect," and "Sneaky Link," less than 2 minutes long, so it kind of feels like a lot of these songs felt like snippets to begin with and only became complete songs once they were remixed. But "Twinnem" is a surprisingly good song, and DaBaby is just an embarrassing dork now, so I hope the original Coi Leray solo version remains the most popular version of the song. 
Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: D

"Who Want Smoke? (Remix)" by Nardo Wick featuring Lil Durk, 21 Savage and G Herbo
The original "Who Want Smoke?" is a terrible, borderline incoherent song where the best/worst line is "I think my draco might be gay (why?)/ 'cause he blow n****s." But the song has a cool ominous beat, and the remix features 3 of the biggest street rap artists circa 2021, so it ends up being a pretty solid remix. Durk's verse is great because he talks about fans on Instagram acting like tough guys and telling him he needs to avenge King Von's death like he's not a celebrity who's being watched 24/7. 
Best Verse: Lil Durk
Overall Grade: A

"Wockesha (Remix)" by Moneybagg Yo featuring Lil Wayne and Ashanti
I love remixes that kind of follow the lead from the original song. "Wockesha" opened with a snippet of a Lil Wyane interview and the DeBarge piano sample famous from hits by the Notorious B.I.G. and Ashanti, so the "Wockesha" remix has Wayne flipping Biggie lyrics and Ashanti singing bits of "Foolish," it's all pretty perfectly executed. 
Best Verse: Lil Wayne
Overall Grade: A+

Tuesday, November 23, 2021




Grammy nominations were announced today, and I wrote a piece for Spin analyzing all the surprises, snubs, rule changes, and historical firsts in the list of noms. 

Movie Diary

Monday, November 22, 2021




a) Shiva Baby
I have low expectations for autobiographical dramedies about complicated romantic situations and family dysfunction, they're often pleasant movies that I root for but there's such a glut of them and so many are forgettable and mediocre. But Shiva Baby really stands out, great debut feature from Emma Seligman that makes me anticipate whatever she does next, the way you get a great little snapshot of every character's life in one day, all their secrets and conflicts under the surface, you as a viewer knowing things the characters don't know, it's so well constructed and fun to watch. And Molly Gordon is great and steals every scene she's in. 

b) Passing
Ruth Negga is great in this, I hope she gets another Oscar nom, she's so incredibly talented. I love the look of the film, the black and white obviously functions on kind of a symbolic level but also has a way of flattening differences in skin color and making the pervasive racism at the heart of the story feel more absurd. Some of the dialogue felt a bit on the nose, but the end was really poignant and tragic and I didn't see it coming. 

c) Red Notice
You may wonder who watches crap like this, and the answer is that I do, I watch crap like this. I was actually really pleasantly surprised by Red Notice, it's the rare action comedy that really balances both genres well. Credit for that goes to writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber, who's made comedies (DodgeballWe're The Millers) and a straightforward Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson action movie (Skyscraper) before and seemed to delight in weaving them together. It also reminded me a lot of the Anne Hathaway movie The Hustle, three characters constantly double crossing each other and changing alliances, it was all very silly and entertaining. 

d) Army Of Thieves
Zack Snyder's Army Of The Dead was another recent Netflix action comedy that I found fairly charming, and they've moved very quickly into making it into a franchise: there's an upcoming sequel and an anime sequel spinoff series, and also Army Of Thieves, which is sort of a prequel about one of the most entertaining characters from Army Of The Dead, Ludwig Dieter, directed by the actor who plays him, Matthias Schweighofer. It's a little bloated -- there's no reason a movie with stakes this low should be over 2 hours long -- but pretty entertaining. 

e) Tom Petty: Somewhere You Feel Free - The Making Of Wildflowers
I've never shared Tom Petty's view that 1994's Wildflowers was the best album he ever made, but it is a very good one. And apparently a bunch of footage from the recording of the album was only just discovered in the last couple years and was assembled into this new documentary, which also has new interviews with Rick Rubin, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, and other people who worked on the album. Petty's entire career was already given a lavish documentary in Peter Bogdanovich's 4-hour Runnin' Down A Dream, so it's kind of cool to get another doc that zeroes in on one particular era, when Petty was getting divorced, changing labels, parting ways with longtime drummer Stan Lynch, and making the most ambitious album of his career, made all the more bittersweet and poignant by the fact that everyone in the movie is looking back at it after Petty's been gone a few years. 

f) Hamilton
Other than maybe hearing bits of the cast recording album in passing, I had managed to kind of not experience the Hamilton phenomenon at all in the last 5 or 6 years, and as people became more and more passionately for or against Hamilton, I just wanted to remain neutral until I had a chance to see it for myself. And then the movie came out, and I took over a year to finally sit down and watch it, but I'm glad I did. And of course the musical did so much for the careers of everybody involved that I ended up watching this just already feeling like a fan of many of the performers from other things like Renee Elise Goldsberry and Daveed Diggs and Jasmine Cephas Jones. I have mixed feelings about Lin-Manuel Miranda's whole hip hop Schoolhouse Rock thing and there are moments that made me cringe, but overall it's a pretty impressive and entertaining thing, and every moment of Jonathan Groff as King George is hilarious. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021





I interviewed Josh Klinghoffer for Consequence, and we talked about his solo stuff as Pluralone, his new gig as a touring member of Pearl Jam, and how he and his friend Jack Irons are the only 2 people who've played with both RHCP and Pearl Jam. 

TV Diary

Monday, November 15, 2021





a) "The Shrink Next Door"
The Apple TV+ miniseries "The Shrink Next Door" is based on a podcast of the same name that told the true story of a therapist who sort of took over the life of one of his clients. And apparently Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd decided to co-star in this before they were sure who would play which character, although they quickly decided that Rudd would be the doctor, Ike, and Ferrell would be the patient, Marty. And that in and of itself is an interesting choice, because I think the average casting director would right off the bat make Rudd the put upon straight man and make Ferrell the manipulative weirdo. But I think it's ultimately a better show with Ferrell in the more dramatic and vulnerable (but still often very funny) role and Rudd in the charismatic, mysterious and slightly sinister role. But Kathryn Hahn is really stealing a lot of scenes from both of them in this thing. 

The first episode of "Yellowjackets" was really great, one of the most promising dark cable dramas to come along in a while, about a group of women who survived a plane crash 25 years ago when they were on a high school soccer team together and had to survive in the wild for over a year. I tend not to be a fan of movies or shows that jump back and forth between two time periods where a younger cast and an older cast portray the same set of characters, partly because invariably one set of actors is better or more interesting than the other, or it just gets hard to believe that it's the same characters in both timelines. But the '90s flashbacks on "Yellowjackets" are equally as compelling as the present day scenes with the more recognizable cast (Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci, Melanie Lynskey) and this is a pretty dark, messed up story. 

"Swagger" is an Apple TV+ drama about the world of teen basketball stars who are being scouted to eventually play in the NBA, and Kevin Durant is an exec producer, so it's partially based on his experiences and takes place in his hometown, Seat Pleasant, Maryland. I live 20 miles away, so a lot of what I like about the show is the local color of the Prince George's County setting, characters listening to Go-Go, stuff like that. The younger members of the cast are just kinda passable actors, but I think the show can be pretty compelling when the focus is on the main character's mother, played by Shinelle Azoroh, and his coach, played by O'Shea Jackson Jr. 

With a $200 million budget for the first season, Apple TV+'s "Invasion" is probably the first series about an alien invasion that's as big and slick as movies like Independence Day or War of the Worlds. But since it is a series, they can and do take their sweet time working up to the spectacle, bouncing between several different characters in different places around the world just before and just after the invasion starts. You don't see any kind of alien until briefly at the end of the 2nd episode, and it isn't until the 5th episode that people stop calling it "the terrorist attack" and start using words like "alien" and "extra-terrestrial." The most recognizable actor, Sam Neill, is one of the focal points of the first episode, but he basically hasn't been seen at all in the next 5 episodes. So far it's all compelling enough and the rare deployments of CGI aliens are impressive, but I hope they're going somewhere to pay off all this wheel-spinning. 

This dark fantasy series on Peacock is pretty good, I'm impressed that Krysten Ritter directed half the episodes, the special effects are not super expensive but look good and it's a pretty charming character-driven show underneath all the high concept stuff. 

Apparently this Disney+ show is based on R.L. Stine books, it's kind of fun to see a horror anthology aimed at kids and mild scares and silly premises, the production values and acting are pretty good but it's a little cheesy for my taste. 

"Head Of The Class" is the kind of middling late '80s sitcom that I probably watched half the episodes of in syndication growing up that still managed to leave very little impression on me or any memory of laughing at anything. So for HBO Max to revive the series really feels like everybody's scraping the bottom of the IP barrel. I thought maybe with Bill Lawrence exec producing it would be up to his standard of shows that often seem unpromising but turn out to be really enjoyable, but the first episode just made my eyes roll a lot, a bunch of teenagers talking earnestly about 'cancel culture.' 

One of the things I really enjoy about "Succession" in its third season is that they've gradually let the WayStar executives who have to deal with the Roy family's antics (Gerri, Frank, Karl, Hugo) be a bigger part of the show and it's just hysterical watching these suits try to keep it together while Logan and Roman and Kendall and Shiv are running around like maniacs. Adrien Brody was also surprisingly really good in his first episode of the show. 

I really enjoyed the first season of "Love Life" starring Anna Kendrick last year, and the second season, which pivots anthology-style to a new protagonist played by William Jackson Harper (a casual acquaintance of Kendrick's character, so it's all in the same universe), may be even better. I particularly like that each season has its own narrator, with the great Keith David for this one. Creator Sam Boyd and his writers really create three-dimensional characters with relatable lives, giving you the satisfaction of some traditional rom-com beats but managing to subvert them without Apatow-style shouting matches and slapstick. But more than the Kendrick season, the Harper season really gives you a main love interest to root for through it all, partly because Jessica Williams is a very natural dream girl for you to want him to end up with. But they have great onscreen chemistry and both are allowed to be flawed, complex characters who don't always get along, and once again the 10-episode journey in "Love Life" really moved me. 

I missed this Chicago-based sitcom when it debuted on Comedy Central a couple years ago, but I've been catching up now that the second season is on HBO Max. And it's just incredibly funny, the joke density is almost on a "30 Rock" level, all these inspired, unexpected one-liners coming at you when you least expect it. The whole cast is great but the scenes with Officer Goodnight and Officer Turner are definitely my favorites. 

This show always gets a little darker than I expect it to be, I'm not familiar with the books but I just kind of assume it's kid stuff and then it gets pretty bleak here and there. I never get used to the thing where people stick magical keys into their heads, though, it just looks ridiculous. 

"Dickinson" is back for its 3rd and final season, and the previous season just aired earlier this year, but I feel like I'm still just getting a handle on its weird mix of biography, satire, and artistic interpretation of Emily Dickinson's life. I like it the overt comedy of the Toby Huss and Jane Krakowski scenes, and the absolutely ridiculous cameos like Billy Eichner as Walt Whitman and Nick Kroll as Edgar Allen Poe, but then it still tries to pay some sincere tribute to the power of Dickinson's poems in a way that can sometimes feel tacked-on. Also, they killed off the character named Shipley, I'm taking that a little personally. 

Between "Dickinson" and the upcoming premiere of "Hawkeye" and this animated series on Netflix, Hailee Steinfeld is having an extremely busy November. Apparently "League of Legends" is a video game or something, I've never seen it, but this show has a pretty cool, unique animation style. 

A cute little Disney+ series of shorts where the snowman from Frozen does his own reenactments of other Disney movies like Aladdin and the Lion King, they're very quick but amusing, the Moana one is my favorite. 

This Amazon animated series satirizes streetwear hypebeast culture, which is certainly a ripe subject for skewering, but it doesn't make me laugh too much, its idea of clever is a Supreme-style brand/logo everyone covets called 'Latrine.' 

A really good Netflix animated series from the director of The Book of Life, sort of a fantasy thing about a Mayan or Incan-type indigenous culture in Central America. I put it on for my 6-year-old and he loved in, watched every episode in a day. 

This Netflix animated series is about some Australian wildlife expert guy who is not Steve Irwin, it's pretty funny but I really hate the look of the animation.

"Dr. Brain" is the very silly name of both Apple TV+'s live action South Korean series and the animated South Korean series it's based on. The title feels like it fits a cartoon better, but the story, about a scientist who hacks into the brains of dead people (and cats), works well enough in a live action context. 

Apparently the prime minister of Sweden was assassinated in 1986 and there were almost as many ambiguities and conspiracy theories as the JFK assassination, including one suspect who was convicted and then acquitted and then people figured out that one of the witnesses could've been the real murderer many years after he died. This Netflix drama about it is pretty good but I'm mostly just amazed that this all really happened and I'd never heard of it. 

Like another recent Netflix series about a serial killer in Asia, "The Serpent," I found the docuseries "The Raincoat Killer" interesting because you think of serial killers as kind of a primarily American phenomenon but there are also stories like this guy in 2000s South Korea who went around bludgeoning dozens of people with a hammer. 

This Netflix docuseries is about the investigators of famous serial killer cases, it kind of makes a good counterpart to "Mindhunter" but it also just kinda reminds me how annoyed I am that "Mindhunter" isn't coming back for a third season. 

A Netflix true crime thing about a teenager who disappeared in Spain, really sad story. 

I always really liked Michelle Trachtenberg, it makes me sad that the first thing I've seen her on in ages is hosting this Tubi true crime show that has terrible production values, I don't know why she isn't getting steady acting work, she's still cute. 

This Peacock show where four kids do their own version of "The Tonight Show," and interview Jimmy Fallon and ?uestlove and some celebrities that kids would know like JoJo Siwa, is a pretty cute idea, I like it. 

This Hulu series hosted by David Chang is really interesting, it's about the food industry, restaurants and delivery and manufacturing and all the logistical aspects of the labor and the changing technology, really thoughtful look at complex issues that's steeped in appreciation of food and food workers. 

"Swap Shop" is an AM radio show in Tennessee where people can call in and swap their collectibles and other belongings, so for the Netflix series about the show, they had to add an additional rhyme to the title. It's a charming little show, I don't watch this kind of thing much but the people on it are likable. 

Monthly Report: November 2021 Singles

Friday, November 12, 2021






1. Lil Nas X f/ Jack Harlow - "Industry Baby"
Of the three big Lil Nas X hits that have hit #1, I think "Industry Baby" is by far the best -- "Old Town Road" and "Call Me By Your Name" were catchy and audacious but I got my fill of them a lot quicker. And the Jack Harlow verse is definitely a big part of that, the first thing since "Whats Poppin" that has that same kind of breezy, assured confidence to it -- apparently Nicki Minaj was the first person approached to do a guest verse, but I think it turned out much better this way. It's also cool to hear Lil Nas do a banger that works on rap radio, where he quotes Waka Flocka and Harlow flips a Rowdy Rebel line, even if pop radio is playing it more. Kanye co-produced "Industry Baby," and it's actually the first song he's worked on that's topped the Hot 100 in over a decade, the last one was Katy Perry's "E.T." Here's the 2021 singles Spotify playlist I add songs to every month. 

2. Halsey - "You Asked For This"
Unsurprisingly, Halsey's big risky album with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is doing slightly better on alternative radio with "You Asked For This" than on pop radio with "I Am Not A Woman, I'm A God." And this is really one of my favorite songs on the album, I'm glad they really tore up a couple of big guitar-driven tracks like this amidst the more moody textural stuff, I'd love to see her perform one of those songs with NIN at an awards show or something. 

3. Carly Pearce f/ Ashley McBryde - "Never Wanted To Be That Girl" 
29: Written In Stone is one of my favorite country albums of the year, and it has a great duet with the woman who made my favorite country album of last year. Pearce and McBryde co-wrote "Never Wanted To Be That Girl" with producer Shane McAnally, and I'd love to know who contributed what, but it definitely reminds me more of McBryde's solo stuff, that eye for detail and way of unspooling a narrative. 

4. Kehlani - "Altar" 
Kehlani's stuff has always been hit and miss for me and I sort of listened to and discarded her last album really quickly, but "Altar" is just fantastic and really raises my expectations for the forthcoming Blue Water Road, I hope Pop Wansel produces a lot of it like her first album.  

5. Dua Lipa - "Love Again"
Here we are more than 2 years out from the launch of Future Nostalgia's lead single, and the album is still making the rounds on the radio, which is very deserved. And I'm glad "Love Again" finally got a turn in the singles campaign even after the iffy new song for the re-release "We're Good" quickly came and went, it was always a standout. That said, hearing it on the radio with the "goddamn" edited out is awkward, almost makes me wish it wasn't a single because the clean edit just doesn't really work. In the Netflix "Song Exploder" episode about "Love Again," it kind of surprised me to learn that they basically wrote the whole song before they decided to add the horn sample from White Town's "Your Woman," but it really speaks to how it'd be a good song with or without a nostalgic sample in there. 

6. Marzz - "Countless Times"
Another song that's kind of marred by the clean version, although one of my local R&B stations keeps playing an edit that reverses the "fuuuuck you" on the chorus and it just sounds so awkward that it takes me out of the song every time, much more enjoyable to listen to at home on Spotify. 

7. J. Howell - "Something About Ya"
Another good song from a new artist that's been breaking through on R&B radio lately, I was pretty sure J. Howell was a guy the first time I heard it but there are a few lines in there where it really sounds like a woman's voice, in any event he's a really impressive vocalist. 

8. Dead Sara - "Heroes"
"Weatherman" and the first Dead Sara album are almost a decade old and still totally kick ass and I return to them regularly, so I'm glad they recently came back with their first album in a while. "Heroes" is kind of a midtempo song that doesn't necessarily require the full force of Emily Armstrong's huge voice, but she lets that shriek go anyway, and I love her for that. 

9. Volbeat - "Wait A Minute My Girl" 
"Wait A Minute My Girl" is Danish hard rock band Volbeat's 9th #1 song on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, but it's only their third song to make a dent on the Alternative charts too, which is weird because it's basically a 1950s-style rock'n'roll pastitche with piano and saxophone parts straight out of a Jerry Lee Lewis song.

10. Elle King f/ Miranda Lambert - "Drunk (And I Don't Wanna Go Home)" 
I liked Elle King's Dierks Bentley collaboration and the songs she plays banjo on more than her other stuff, so her transition into doing more country stuff feels a little inevitable, and this song is fun and highlights the similarities between King and Lambert's voices. 

The Worst Single of the Month: Drake f/ Future and Young Thug - "Way 2 Sexy"
I genuinely like Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy," it's really catchy and knowingly silly and makes great use of a sample (in this case Hendrix's "Third Stone From the Sun"), and the fact that it was a #1 hit kind of makes it even funnier. Someone might say the same of "Way 2 Sexy," but I cannot. Every Drake album has one or two asinine comedy tracks, but Certified Lover Boy is the first one where those songs are the 2 biggest hits from the record, the other being the "say that you a lesbian, girl, me too" song. Future, probably the best singles artist of the last 10 years, has long suffered the indignity of his biggest Hot 100 hits being mostly middling Drake collaborations, but it's still really disappointing that his first #1 is him saying "I'm too sexy for the trap, too sexy for this syrup" on one of Drake's most Lonely Island songs ever. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021






For the 5th anniversary of Leonard Cohen's passing, I made a list of the 10 best Cohen covers by indie and alternative artists for Spin.

Friday, November 05, 2021







My 4th Western Blot album Ivy is out today on Bandcamp! I have been recording every single day of 2021 and keeping a recording log on my Twitter account, and I'm really proud of what I've gotten out of putting months and months of daily work into this record and the various EPs and singles I've released over the last year or so. 

It's the first album I mixed and produced myself, although I've gotten a lot of help on this record from some of the same great folks who have helped me on previous albums. Ishai Barnoy and John German from the Western Blot live band played some guitars, Brooks Long and Koye Berry each sang on one track, Doug Bartholomew recorded the drums on a couple songs, Mat Leffler-Schulman mastered it, and my Golden Beat bandmates K.B. Blankson, Dan Doggett, and Chris Merriam co-wrote a track that started as one of that band's unrecorded songs. I also decided to return to the Donald Edwards sculptures featured on the cover of my first album Muscle Memory because I still had a ton of great unused photos my wife Jennifer German took of his work for that album, and Deadman Jay helped me turn them into the album cover. 

Movie Diary

Thursday, November 04, 2021





a) Dune
My dad had a huge personal library of sci-fi novels, so I grew up being able to easily pick up and read a lot of canonical 20th century sci-fi. But I think I only got about halfway through the first Dune book, it was one of those moments where I felt like I hit my limit on that kind of thing and went back to reading something that grabbed me more like Vonnegut or Douglas Adams. So I sympathize with the view that Dune is a bit dry, but now that the Star Warsification of sci-fi is pretty complete, it is cool to see someone with a huge budget pretty much let Dune be Dune. I think I would still say I prefer Lynch's Dune (and, for that matter, that Arrival is still the best Villeneuve), but I really liked it, great cast. I'm watching it a second time right now because I dozed off a little the first time, but I don't mean that as a slight, I had just gotten up really early that day. I'm glad they'll get to make more movies, since this one based on half a book kinda felt like it ended abruptly and unsatisfyingly where it did. 

b) The Harder They Fall
I love that I saw Jonathan Majors in The Last Black Man In San Francisco and wished to see him get cast in everything and almost immediately got my wish, he has such a unique screen presence and stands out even in a stacked cast like this with Idris Elba, Regina King, Lakeith Stanfield, and many more. I think the cast was better than the movie, though, the first time director Jeymes Samuel (Seal's brother, apparently!) didn't wow me visually, it might have deserved someone a little more seasoned. 

c) Censor
A British horror movie that managed to be both an homage to low budget '80s splatter horror and a sort of artsy modern psychological horror, and blended those two elements together really brilliantly, highly recommend it. 

d) There's Someone Inside Your House
I haven't seen director Patrick Brice's previous movies but I wanna check them out now, There's Someone Inside Your House put a little twist on slasher movie conventions that worked well, but mostly I thought it just looked great, lots of arresting visuals and interesting choices in terms of visual storytelling and suspense building. 

e) No One Gets Out Alive
This movie, about an undocumented immigrant woman who moves to Cleveland and lives in a dilapidated border house that appears to be haunted by ghosts, took 2 or 3 big turns that I didn't see coming at all. I was really prepared to be happy with a more straightforward horror movie and enjoyed having my expectations upended. 

f) Books Of Blood
Apparently Books Of Blood was the short story anthology series that launched Clive Barker's career and has been adapted into all sorts of stuff including Candyman and Midnight Meat Train. But I didn't know all that when I put the movie on, and I found the three interlinked stories in this movie a little underwhelming. 

g) Spider-Man: Far From Home
I kind of forgot that Endgame wasn't the last movie of the third phase of the MCU and there was a whole Spider-Man movie that came out right after it. But obviously it's a more self-contained little adventure and I'm glad I finally got around to watching it, really solidified how good Tom Holland is in this role. 

Monthly Report: October 2021 Albums

Wednesday, November 03, 2021






1. Brandi Carlile - In These Silent Days
I only just heard Brandi Carlile's masterpiece By The Way, I Forgive You last year, but I think In These Silent Days might be even better. I love the big moments early in the album, like the way Carlile's voice works its way up to its full power on "Right On Time," and the way "Broken Horses" explodes out of the acoustic "This Time Tomorrow." But the whole thing is great. "Sinners, Saints And Fools" is a killer late album slow burner. Carlile's Highwomen bandmate Natalie Hemby also released an excellent album in October. Here's the 2021 albums Spotify playlist with all the records I've been listening to this year. 

2. Megan Thee Stallion - Something For Thee Hotties
I liked Good News, but it was definitely the kind of overly labored everything-to-everyone debut album that lots of rappers after making their name with better mixtapes and EPs. And I wasn't really expecting her to make any kind of back-to-basics stopgap project, but the surprise mixtape she released last Friday, Something For Thee Hotties, really just feels like the perfect thing from her on the heels of "Thot Shit," nothing but back-to-back bangers with no guests, lots of Juicy J and LilJuMadeDaBeat productions, just reaffirms that she's still one of the best rappers in the world right now. My favorites are definitely "Megan's Piano," "All Of It," "Freakend," and the Mass Production sample on "Kitty Kat," but she's snapping on the whole record.

3. Young Thug - Punk
Young Thug is also coming off of the success of a so-called 'debut album' that finally put him on the level he'd long deserved to be at, and though So Much Fun was a solid project, I'm glad that Punk isn't a retread of its winning formula. Punk also isn't the Travis Barker-assisted punk pop crossover that the album's title and the Tiny Desk Concert and "SNL" promo appearances seemed to indicate it would be -- there are a lot of guitars on the album, but they're often clean or acoustic, with little or no percussion on a lot of tracks. The opening stretch of the album is practically Young Thug Unplugged (which would be cool, come to think of it -- it even rhymes!), which kind of makes the clubbier songs later in the album hit harder. That more melodic approach only feels like a calculated crossover attempt once towards the end of the album, on "Love You More" with Nate Ruess, otherwise it just feels like Thug felt like writing a gentler set of songs and wound up with the album people sort of expected Beautiful Thugger Girls to be.

4. PinkPantheress - To Hell With It
When one of PinkPantheress's singles caught my ear a few weeks ago, I didn't quite realize that she was rapidly accruing next-big-thing status in the UK. Most of her songs are TikTok-ready snippets that run less than 2-minutes, and I joked that her debut album/mixtape thing would be only 17 minutes without realizing that it is, in fact, 18 minutes long. Brevity suits her, though, and this thing almost breezes by too quickly to register any shortcomings that her simple, charming songs have, but I definitely dig the '90s jungle homages like "Passion," "Noticed I Cried" and "I Must Apologise" more than the more straightforward tinny bip bap beats. 

5. Maxo Kream - Weight Of The World
I don't know if I like this one as much as 2019's Brandon Banks, but it's solid, "They Say" is one of the best songs with a beat switch I've heard in recent memory, actually feels like the different pieces fit together and complement each other. 

6. Sam Fender - Seventeen Going Under
I don't do a lot of handwringing about the waning commercial relevance of rock music, because whatever, it is what it is. But I do periodically find myself envious of England, where rock music is still pop music, when I see younger rock artists like Sam Fender and Wolf Alice and Royal Blood top the UK album charts with excellent records. Those albums have made relatively small splashes in America, where we instead settle for table scraps like Machine Gun Kelly picking up a guitar as a pathetic excuse for a "people still listen to rock music" angle. One of the singles from Sam Fender's debut caught my ear a couple years ago, and I'm really loving his second album, which has lots of sax and makes his Springsteen influences even more explicit. 

7. Meek Mill - Expensive Pain
I've always been a big Meek Mill fan and thought he made great projects whether his career was thriving or not, but after he reached a new peak with Championships, it feels like he spent the last 3 years losing all his momentum from that project and chipping away at his popularity with a hundred mini-controversies, and Expensive Pain feels like the least urgent record he's ever made. And the lame title and cover art don't help. It's not bad, though, lot of bangers on here, particularly "Hot" with Moneybagg Yo and "Cold Hearted III." 

8. Limp Bizkit - Still Sucks
Limp Bizkit just released its new album on Halloween, presumably just because one of the songs on the album opens with the words "it's Halloween." I kinda wish they didn't release an album on a Sunday, though, because Limp Bizkit has enough factors working against them as it is, even though, as I wrote here 3 months ago, their performance at this year's Lollapalooza kind of put them back on everyone's mind and spurred another backlash to the backlash. An album titled Still Sucks has the defensive moments you'd expect like "Love The Hate," but for the most part it's fun, fast little 32-minute album with lots of 2-minute songs, I think my favorite is "Pill Popper," the record definitely plays to the band's strengths with some odd little detours. There's an acoustic cover of a song I love, INXS's "Don't Change," which I surprisingly don't hate, and a skit that references Nick Cave and Godspeed! You Black Emperor, just weird stuff all around.

9. Coldplay - Music Of The Spheres
Coldplay are, to my mind, as much a cartoonish vestige of the early 2000s as Limp Bizkit, but they've done a better job of doubling down on their brand and incorporating trendy pop sounds to stay relevant. Doing songs with the Chainsmokers and Rihanna and Big Sean and so on felt mercenary and maybe a little desperate, but an entire album produced by Max Martin weirdly feels a little more ambitious and in line with their Brian Eno-produced album. The tracks with BTS and Selena Gomez are about as awkward and embarrassing as expected, but the rest is the best Coldplay album in a while, with unexpected moments like the dreamy 10-minute epic "Coloratura" and "People of the Pride," which rocks pretty hard by Coldplay standards. 

10. Upsahl - Lady Jesus
Taylor Upsahl is a young major label pop singer/songwriter who penned Dua Lipa's "Good In Bed," I'm really digging her solo stuff too, it's kind of an update of sneering debauched 2010s Katy Perry/Kesha-style white girl pop. 

The Worst Album of the Month: Don Toliver - Life Of A Don
A lot of time the 'worst album' in this spot is something I genuinely hate, but I just found this kind of dull. I'm not much of a Don Toliver fan but I checked it out on the assumption that after "Lemonade" his next album would be huge, but it doesn't even seem to have much of an impact even with the crowd that would usually be hyped about a record with multiple Travis Scott features. And I get it, it feels kind of low energy and underwhelming even by Toliver's standards. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021




Spin's 2021 list of the 50 best rock bands right now is out, and I wrote about Brothers Osborne, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Royal Blood, and Wye Oak. 

My Top 100 Singles of 1986

Friday, October 29, 2021






Here's the Spotify playlist:

1. Nu Shooz - "I Can't Wait" 
2. Paul Simon - "You Can Call Me Al"
3. Janet Jackson - "When I Think Of You" 
4. Peter Gabriel - "In Your Eyes"
5. Prince and the Revolution - "Kiss" 
6. LL Cool J - "Rock The Bells" 
7. Pet Shop Boys - "West End Girls" 
8. Cameo - "Word Up!"
9. Pretenders - "Don't Get Me Wrong" 
10. Boogie Down Productions - "South Bronx"
11. Oingo Boingo - "Dead Man's Party"
12. Bruce Hornsby and the Range - "The Way It Is"
13. The Outfield - "Your Love" 
14. Genesis - "Land Of Confusion" 
15. Peter Gabriel - "Sledgehammer" 
16. Eric B. & Rakim - "Eric B. Is President"
17. The Psychedelic Furs - "Pretty In Pink"
18. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - "If You Leave"
19. Huey Lewis and the News - "Stuck With You"
20. Run-DMC - "My Adidas" 
21. Anita Baker - "Sweet Love" 
22. Robert Palmer - "Addicted To Love" 
23. Heart - "These Dreams" 
24. The Moody Blues - "Your Wildest Dreams" 
25. Cameo - "Candy" 
26. Phil Collins - "Take Me Home" 
27. Eddie Money f/ Ronnie Spector - "Take Me Home Tonight" 
28. Jackson Browne - "In The Shape Of A Heart" 
29. Talking Heads - "Wild Wild Life"
30. Mike + The Mechanics - "All I Need Is A Miracle"  
31. Van Halen - "Why Can't This Be Love"
32. Janet Jackson - "Nasty"
33. Bon Jovi - "You Give Love A Bad Name"
34. Whitney Houston - "How Will I Know" 
35. Dire Straits - "Walk Of Life" 
36. Fabulous Thunderbirds - "Tuff Enuff" 
37. Duran Duran - "Notorious" 
38. Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush - "Don't Give Up" 
39. New Order - "Bizarre Love Triangle"
40. Sheila E. - "A Love Bizarre" 
41. Huey Lewis and the News - "Hip To Be Square" 
42. Oran "Juice" Jones - "The Rain" 
43. Genesis - "Invisible Touch"  
44. Miami Sound Machine - "Conga"
45. Cyndi Lauper - "True Colors"
46. Jermaine Stewart - "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off"
47. Beastie Boys - "Paul Revere" 
48. R.E.M. - "Fall On Me" 
49. Janet Jackson - "What Have You Done For Me Lately" 
50. Peter Gabriel - "That Voice Again"  
51. Van Halen - "Best Of Both Worlds"
52. Dwight Yoakam - "Guitars, Cadillacs"
53. Glass Tiger - "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" 
54. Junk Yard Band - "Sardines"  
55. Prince and the Revolution - "Mountains" 
56. Simply Red - "Holding Back The Years" 
57. Simple Minds - "Alive And Kicking"
58. Falco - "Rock Me Amadeus" 
59. Lionel Richie - "Dancing On The Ceiling"
60. "Weird Al" Yankovic - "Dare To Be Stupid"
61. Daryl Hall - "Dreamtime"  
62. Van Halen - "Dreams" 
63. Genesis - "In Too Deep" 
64. Wang Chung - "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" 
65. Dwight Yoakam - "It Won't Hurt" 
66. The Ramones - "Somebody Put Something In My Drink" 
67. George Jones - "Wine Colored Roses"
68. Baltimora - "Tarzan Boy" 
68. Prince and the Revolution - "Anotherloverholenyohead"
69. Run-DMC and Aerosmith - "Walk This Way" 
70. John Mellencamp - "Rumbleseat"
71. Tears For Fears - "Mothers Talk"
72. David Lee Roth - "Yankee Rose" 
73. Mr. Mister - "Kyrie" 
74. Steve Winwood - "Higher Love" 
75. Pet Shop Boys - "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots Of Money)"
76. R.E.M. - "Superman" 
77. "Weird Al" Yankovic - "Living With A Hernia" 
78. James Brown - "Living In America" 
79. Billy Joel - "A Matter Of Trust"
80. Fabulous Thunderbirds - "Wrap It Up"
81. Cherrelle with Alexander O'Neal - "Saturday Love" 
82. Ozzy Osbourne - "Shot In The Dark" 
83. The Bangles - "Manic Monday"
84. The Rolling Stones - "One Hit (To The Body)" 
85. Samantha Fox - "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)" 
86. The Police - "Don't Stand So Close To Me '86"
87. Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald - "On My Own" 
88. Sade - "Is It A Crime?"
89. Timbuk 3 - "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" 
90. Stevie Wonder - "Overjoyed" 
91. Sly Fox - "Let's Go All The Way" 
92. Bob Seger - "Like A Rock" 
93. Miami Sound Machine - "Bad Boy"
94. Bananarama - "Venus" 
95. Eddie Murphy - "Party All The Time" 
96. Belinda Carlisle - "Mad About You" 
97. Robert Palmer - "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On" 
98. Kenny Loggins - "The Danger Zone"
99. Queen - "Who Wants To Live Forever"
100. ZZ Top - "Sleeping Bag" 

I was 4 in 1986, so people have been singing "You Can Call Me Al" to me for almost my whole life (although I went primarily by Alex until the late '90s), and people usually assume that I hate the song or am sick of hearing it. And really, I like it, man, it holds up. The songs I have the most memories of from 1986 or around then, though, are "Sledgehammer" and "Land of Confusion" and the Mike + The Mechanics singles, my dad was big into Genesis's big pop crossover moment and those Gabriel and Genesis videos were some of the most memorable stuff I saw in his tapes of I guess Friday Night Videos. 

Previously:
My Top 50 Albums of 1986
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1987
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1988
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1989
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1990
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1991
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1992
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1993
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1994
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1995
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1996
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1997
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1998
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1999
My Top 25 Albums and Top 50 Singles of 2000
My Top 25 Albums and Top 50 Singles of 2001
My Top 25 Albums and Top 50 Singles of 2002
My Top 25 Albums and Top 50 Singles of 2003
My Top 25 Albums and Top 50 Singles of 2004
My Top 25 Albums and Top 50 Singles of 2005
My Top 25 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2006
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2007
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2008
My Top 50 Albums and Top 50 Singles of 2009
My Top 50 Albums and Top 50 Singles of 2010
My Top 50 Albums and Top 50 Singles of 2011
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2012
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2013
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2014
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2015
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2016
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2017
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2018
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2019
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2020

TV Diary

Thursday, October 28, 2021



 






a) "Ghosts"
I didn't think that CBS of all networks might possibly have my favorite new fall show in 2021, but "Ghosts" is different enough to stand out in a slate that's light on comedies to begin with. It's based on a British show, and even with an American setting and American characters, it has a certain britcom wackiness to it: a couple moves into an old country house, and after the wife has a near-death experience she can see and talk to all the ghosts living in the house. The 8 ghosts are mostly broad characters from different eras of history with silly backstories of how they died, and a lot of the comedy is drawn from the predictable conflicts of a whole group of characters who can only be seen and heard by one other person. But it works thanks to the cast, I'm happy to see Rose McIver do a full-on comedy after being pretty consistently funny in "iZombie." 

b) "Dopesick"
"Dopesick" is based on a book about the Sackler family, Purdue Pharma, and how it marketed OxyContin, and it attempts to boil that big, complex story into a prestige TV miniseries that puts a human face on the opioid crisis as well as dramatize the inner workings of the Sacklers and the pharmaceutical industry. It's pretty well made and I'll never turn down a chance to watch Michael Keaton do good work, but so far I'm not entirely sure if it can live up to its own weighty ambitions.

c) "Queens"
"Queens" is about four women who were in a popular girl group in the late '90s and reunite in the present day to try to make a comeback after a current star samples one of their hits and asks them to perform with them. In other words, it's almost the exact same premise as "Girls5eva," the very funny sitcom that debuted earlier this year, except "Queens" does it as a music industry soap opera in the "Empire" mold. It's fun to see Eve and Brandy, two people who actually were all over MTV in the '90s, sort of play with their own images, it's an entertaining light little show. But it's really funny that the group is called 'The Nasty Bitches' and they have to say that phrase with a straight face in almost every scene. And it did distract me that the series opens with Eve rapping over a Swizz Beatz track in the late '90s, but they used the beat from a 2005 Young Gunz single so it doesn't really fit the era. 

d) "Inside Job"
"Gravity Falls" is one of the best kids' shows of the last decade or so, so I was interested to see "Inside Job," an 'adult animation' Netflix series created by a "Gravity Falls" writer and produced by the creator of "Gravity Falls." And it has a fun premise, basically that every popular conspiracy about the U.S. government is real, and Lizzy Caplan voices the head of the shadow government that's covering up lizard people and aliens and sasquatches and so on. I feel like it falls short of the "Rick and Morty" vibe it's going for, but it's still pretty good, certainly better than the last dozen or so adult cartoon sitcoms I've seen on Netflix. 

e) "Acapulco"
Apparently Eugenio Derbez is playing the same character in this Apple TV+ series that he played in 2017's How To Be A Latin Lover, but I really couldn't tell after a couple episodes even though I've seen the movie, it just doesn't really seem like the same guy. In any event, most of the show is a flashback to when the character worked in a Mexican resort in the mid-'80s, it's a cute little show, reminds me a lot of the Amazon show "Red Oaks," which took place at a mid-'80s country club. 

f) "One Of Us Is Lying"
This is based on a YA novel but its basically a murder mystery where a kid dies of an allergic reaction in detention and the other kids in detention are suspects. I haven't watched too may episodes yet but it's intriguing enough, good cast. 

g) "Day Of The Dead"
I wouldn't say I had high hopes for SyFy's new series adaptation of one of George Romero's classic zombie flicks, but it really managed to disappoint me very quickly. Just terrible acting, terrible visual effects, and I don't really know if it's possible now to do a zombie series, even a Romero adaptation, without it feeling like lesser "The Walking Dead." 

ABC's current Wednesday night lineup is weird: a reboot of "The Wonder Years," the long-running "Wonder Years" knockoff "The Goldbergs," and "The Conners," which is a continuation of "Roseanne," which debuted on ABC in 1988 alongside "The Wonder Years." There have been so many "Wonder Years"-style shows over the years that it's kind of its own subgenre of sitcom now, the best of which was "Everybody Loves Chris," and if anything this reboot with a Black cast has to live up to comparisons both that and the original "The Wonder Years." It's pretty good, though, Don Cheadle is an excellent choice for narrator. 

i) "I Know What You Did Last Summer"
I never saw any of the I Know What You Did Last Summer movies, but I was alive in the late '90s so I at least got the gist, this Amazon series seems alright I guess, don't know how much they can keep the suspense going for a whole series though. 

j) "Our Kind Of People"
One of FOX's new prime time dramas, one of those shows about an affluent family and their complicated lives, seems okay but not really my thing. 

k) "Pretty Smart"
A really cheesy Netflix show that feels like a throwback to an early 2000s sitcom on The WB, where a Smart person who went to Harvard moves in with her sister and her fit shallow influencer friends, with all the usual stereotypes played for laughs. 

l) "Good Timing With Jo Firestone"
This was just a one-off special on Peacock, but I really wish it was a whole series. Basically Jo Firestone is a comedian who started doing a Zoom standup comedy workshop for a seniors center during the pandemic, and the special documents them all meeting in person for the first time and preparing to put on a standup show. It's really charming and so much fun to see people try their hand at performing late in life and figure out how to turn being funny in daily life into a stage persona and material. 

m) "The Morning Show"
I didn't have Apple TV+ during the first season of "The Morning Show" so I've been going through both seasons in the last few weeks, really enjoying it. I remember a lot of people rolling their eyes at a prestige TV series about the #MeToo movement that's very obviously loosely based on what went down with "The Today Show" and Matt Lauer, but I think they made it work very well. In a way the casting is very meta, having Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell, two people who became household names with NBC sitcoms, play the faux-NBC morning show stars, and it serves the show because you get the effect of seeing people who kind of have been America's sweethearts have private meltdowns and do terrible things. The whole thing also feels very influenced by Aaron Sorkin's behind-the-scenes shows about live television, but it's about 10 times better than his shaky later shows like "The Newsroom" and "Studio 60," so I don't mind it feeling derivative. And Billy Crudup is really doing the best work of his career, the network executives are usually never interesting characters in these kinds of shows but Cory Ellison is this kind of improbable but believable figure, smart and calculating but also impish and animated and at times kind. 

n) "Doom Patrol"
Been watching the third season and it's still a fun show but my interest has definitely waned, just too much zaniness. 

o) "You"
When the first season of "You" ended, I would've been fine with it being a single season show, I couldn't really see the premise sustaining itself way beyond that. But now, in the third season, I would say they've managed to keep upping the ante pretty well, although it's a little ridiculous that he moved from New York to L.A. and built another glass murder cube in his basement. Giving Joe an equally deranged partner was an inspired choice, Victoria Pedretti is so great in this show. 

p) "The Billion Dollar Code"
Pretty interesting Netflix show about German coders who sued Google about Google Earth ripping off their creation, one of their better foreign language shows in recent memory. 

q) "My Name"
A Korean show on Netflix about a woman avenging her father's death, some badass action stuff in this. 

Each episode of this cute little show on E! features two tribute acts competing, a U2 cover band versus a Coldplay cover band, a Cher impersonator versus a Tina Turner impersonator, and so on, until the champion of the season gets to perform on "The Tonight Show." I have a love/hate thing with tribute bands, I appreciate their dedication to getting the details right but I still just listen to every note nitpicking how it's not quite the same, but I like that everyone is just having fun in this and coaching them to be better. 

s) "Bad Sport"
Really excellent Netflix true crime docuseries about various different sports scandals, some of these stories I knew about and some of them I didn't but it's pretty entertaining either way. 

t) "Buried"
A really dark Showtime docuseries about solving a cold case where a woman basically remembers details of a murder her father committed when she was a kid, just absolutely chilling stuff. 

Another Netflix true crime show, about a colony of German Christians in Chile in the '60s, interesting weird story. 

v) "House Of Secrets: The Burari Deaths"
A Netflix docuseries about 11 members of an Indian family who died in 2018, another really dark tale, I need to take a break from checking out these true crime shows because it's a lot to take in. 

A NASA docueries on Disney+, enjoyed this a lot more than Netflix's show about stupid SpaceX. 

All of these Netflix competition reality shows seem to be made on the same set with the same lighting, it's kind of annoying how interchangeable they are. But it's fun to see bakers paired up with engineers to create these ridiculous complex dishes, even if they rarely look appetizing or even edible. 

A cute little show on the Disney Channel, I wish my 6-year-old liked this instead of just watching more Minecraft crap. 

I like that in October all the networks roll out their spooky kids shows, I'm not familiar with the A Tale Dark & Grimm book but the Netflix animated series is pretty good, I like the animation style. 

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 249: Daryl Hall & John Oates

Wednesday, October 27, 2021














Back in August, I got to interview John Oates for GQ, and it was a really cool opportunity that I was happy to get. I've been getting more and more into the Daryl Hall & John Oates catalog the last few years, and have been wanting to finish this playlist for a long time, so working on that interview really spurred me to dive back in. 

Daryl Hall & John Oates deep album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Fall In Philadelphia
2. Abandoned Luncheonette
3. Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song)
4. Is It A Star
5. I'm Watching You (A Mutant Romance)
6. Out Of Me, Out Of You
7. Ennui On The Mountain
8. You'll Never Learn
9. Room To Breathe
10. The Girl Who Used To Be
11. Serious Music
12. No Brain No Pain
13. Everytime You Go Away
14. United State
15. Head Above Water
16. Friday Let Me Down
17. Open All Night
18. Delayed Reaction
19. Bank On Your Love
20. Talking All Night

Track 1 from Whole Oats (1972)
Tracks 2 and 3 from Abandoned Luncheonette (1973)
Tracks 4 and 5 from War Babies (1974)
Tracks 6 and 7 from Daryl Hall & John Oates (1975)
Tracks 8 and 9 from Bigger Than Both Of Us (1976)
Track 10 from Beauty On A Backstreet (1977)
Track 11 from Along The Red Ledge (1978)
Track 12 from X-Static (1979)
Tracks 13 and 14 from Voices (1980)
Tracks 15 and 16 from Private Eyes (1981)
Tracks 17 and 18 from H2O (1982)
Track 19 from Big Bam Boom (1984)
Track 20 from Ooh Yeah! (1988)

Artists like Aretha Franklin and Willie Nelson famously kicked off their classic periods by signing to Atlantic Records after years of plugging away less successfully on other labels. But it was the other way around for Daryl Hall and John Oates, who released three Atlantic albums to little success before becoming major stars on RCA. Even the most famous song from their Atlantic period, "She's Gone," didn't become a top 10 hit until it was re-released to capitalize on their RCA breakthrough with "Sara Smile." 

Another thing that happens when a band changes labels and becomes successful is their early stuff gets repackaged a lot. There was one official Atlantic compilation, 1977's No Goodbyes, which featured 3 new songs. But a quickie Rhino compilation called She's Gone & Other Hits that my dad owned ended up being my gateway to really appreciating them. At first I was disappointed by the deceptive title ("She's Gone" is the only one of the duo's many recognizable pop hits on the album), but then I fell for all the other songs on there, particularly the ones from Abandoned Luncheonette. And one of my favorite things about talking to John Oates was getting some stories out of him about Bernard Purdie, who does fantastic work on that album. It turns out Oates is a big fan of that period too, and talked about how "Is It A Star" from the Todd Rundgren-produced War Babies was the deep cut of choice for setlists on their tour this year. 

John Oates wrote and sang lead more on the '70s albums, and I think it's kind of a shame that a lot of people think of him as more a sidekick than an equal partner after Hall became the singer of most of their biggest hits. I included some songs Oates sings lead on like the live staple "Last Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song)," "You'll Never Learn," "The Girl Who Used To Be," "Serious Music," and "Friday Let Me Down," as well as some songs where they share vocal duties. Daryl Hall also demonstrated a pretty interesting range as a singer and songwriter before he found that pop star sweet spot -- "No Brain No Pain" is basically a Devo song, and he references The Stooges' "TV Eye" on "I'm Watching You (A Mutant Romance)" -- at least I assume so -- according to Kathy Asheton, "TV eye" was her personal slang term that Iggy Pop made into a song, so there's no other context for the phrase that I know of. I decided not to make room for solo albums, but there are some good ones, particularly Hall's Robert Fripp-produced solo debut Sacred Songs

Their 9th album Voices was sort of the moment where Daryl Hall & John Oates finally arrived as consistent hitmakers, after almost a decade of sort of sporadic patches of success. But one of the most popular songs debuted on that album wasn't a hit right away. The original "Everytime You Go Away" on Voices wasn't a single, but it became a #1 hit for Paul Young in 1985, and I primarily associate the song with the Blue Room cover that played over the credits of Planes, Trains & Automobiles. And really their '80s albums are loaded with more songs that could've been hits, "Head Above Water" sounds like a smash. 

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell
Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic
Vol. 69: Chevelle
Vol. 70: Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio
Vol. 71: Fantasia
Vol. 72: Heart
Vol. 73: Pitbull
Vol. 74: Nas
Vol. 75: Monica
Vol. 76: The Cars
Vol. 77: 112
Vol. 78: 2Pac
Vol. 79: Nelly
Vol. 80: Meat Loaf
Vol. 81: AC/DC
Vol. 82: Bruce Springsteen
Vol. 83: Pearl Jam
Vol. 84: Green Day
Vol. 85: George Michael and Wham!
Vol. 86: New Edition
Vol. 87: Chuck Berry
Vol. 88: Electric Light Orchestra
Vol. 89: Chic
Vol. 90: Journey
Vol. 91: Yes
Vol. 92: Soundgarden
Vol. 93: The Allman Brothers Band
Vol. 94: Mobb Deep
Vol. 95: Linkin Park
Vol. 96: Shania Twain
Vol. 97: Squeeze
Vol. 98: Taylor Swift
Vol. 99: INXS
Vol. 100: Stevie Wonder
Vol. 101: The Cranberries
Vol. 102: Def Leppard
Vol. 103: Bon Jovi
Vol. 104: Dire Straits
Vol. 105: The Police
Vol. 106: Sloan
Vol. 107: Peter Gabriel
Vol. 108: Led Zeppelin
Vol. 109: Dave Matthews Band
Vol. 110: Nine Inch Nails
Vol. 111: Talking Heads
Vol. 112: Smashing Pumpkins
Vol. 113: System Of A Down
Vol. 114: Aretha Franklin
Vol. 115: Michael Jackson
Vol. 116: Alice In Chains
Vol. 117: Paul Simon
Vol. 118: Lil Wayne
Vol. 119: Nirvana
Vol. 120: Kix
Vol. 121: Phil Collins
Vol. 122: Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Vol. 123: Sonic Youth
Vol. 124: Bob Seger
Vol. 125: Radiohead
Vol. 126: Eric Church
Vol. 127: Neil Young
Vol. 128: Future
Vol. 129: Say Anything
Vol. 130: Maroon 5
Vol. 131: Kiss
Vol. 132: Dinosaur Jr.
Vol. 133: Stevie Nicks
Vol. 134: Talk Talk
Vol. 135: Ariana Grande
Vol. 136: Roxy Music
Vol. 137: The Cure
Vol. 138: 2 Chainz
Vol. 139: Kelis
Vol. 140: Ben Folds Five
Vol. 141: DJ Khaled
Vol. 142: Little Feat
Vol. 143: Brendan Benson
Vol. 144: Chance The Rapper
Vol. 145: Miguel
Vol. 146: The Geto Boys
Vol. 147: Meek Mill
Vol. 148: Tool
Vol. 149: Jeezy
Vol. 150: Lady Gaga
Vol. 151: Eddie Money
Vol. 152: LL Cool J
Vol. 153: Cream
Vol. 154: Pavement
Vol. 155: Miranda Lambert
Vol. 156: Gang Starr
Vol. 157: Little Big Town
Vol. 158: Thin Lizzy
Vol. 159: Pat Benatar
Vol. 160: Depeche Mode
Vol. 161: Rush
Vol. 162: Three 6 Mafia
Vol. 163: Jennifer Lopez
Vol. 164: Rage Against The Machine
Vol. 165: Huey Lewis and the News
Vol. 166: Dru Hill
Vol. 167: The Strokes
Vol. 168: The Notorious B.I.G.
Vol. 169: Sparklehorse
Vol. 170: Kendrick Lamar
Vol. 171: Mazzy Star
Vol. 172: Erykah Badu
Vol. 173: The Smiths
Vol. 174: Kenny Rogers & The First Edition
Vol. 175: Fountains Of Wayne
Vol. 176: Joe Diffie
Vol. 177: Morphine
Vol. 178: Dr. Dre
Vol. 179: The Rolling Stones
Vol. 180: Superchunk
Vol. 181: The Replacements
Vol. 247: X
Vol. 248: Aaliyah