Deep Album Cuts Vol. 363: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Thursday, July 18, 2024

 





King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard's new album Flight b741 is out on August 9th, so I wanted to look at their rapidly expanding discography before it gets even bigger. 

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Sea of Trees
2. Float Along - Fill Your Lungs
3. Work This Time
4. I'm In Your Mind
5. Sense
6. Road Train
7. Flying Microtonal Banana
8. Polygondwanaland
9. Superposition
10. Plastic Boogie
11. Hell
12. Minimum Brain Size
13. Supreme Ascendancy
14. Black Hot Soup
15. The Garden Goblin
16. Lava
17. Gondii
18. Witchcraft
19. Swan Song

Track 1 from 12 Bar Bruise (2012)
Track 2 from Float Along - Fill Your Lungs (2013)
Track 3 from Oddments (2014)
Track 4 from I'm In Your Mind Fuzz (2014)
Track 5 from Paper Mache Dream Balloon (2015)
Track 6 from Nonagon Infinity (2016)
Track 7 from Flying Microtonal Banana (2017)
Track 8 from Polygondwanaland (2017)
Track 9 from Gumboot Soup (2017)
Track 10 from Fishing For Fishies (2019)
Track 11 from Infest The Rats' Nest (2019)
Track 12 from K.G. (2020)
Track 13 from L.W. (2021)
Track 14 from Butterfly 3000 (2021)
Track 15 from Omnium Gatherum (2022)
Track 16 from Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava (2022)
Track 17 from Changes (2022)
Track 18 from PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation (2023)
Track 19 from The Silver Cord (2023)

King Gizzard & The Lizard formed in Melbourne in 2010 (our honeymoon was in Australia, and Melbourne was probably my favorite city we visited, the one that I could most easily imagine living in, so I like hearing music from Melbourne). The band started out with seven members, although it's been down to six since the 2021 departure of drummer/keyboardist Eric Moore, who has focused on running the band's label, Flightless Records. 

The band has released 25 albums since 2021, and the sheer volume of their output has become kind of their defining feature, particularly after they released five albums in 2017 and then three albums just in October 2022. The quality has been really impressively high across their discography, though, as they started from a psychedelic/garage rock foundation and then made albums that stretched towards metal and dance music and jazz and, ugh, there's some rapping on some later albums too. I couldn't even cover every album in 80 minutes, but I mostly skipped collaborative albums or the records where every song is over 10 minutes long. 

I went for kind of a mix of live favorites and songs with a lot of streams along with personal favorites and songs that seemed to make the most sense in the playlist. I started listening to the band in 2017 and hadn't caught up on some of the early albums, so I'd never heard the first two songs on the playlist and really love those songs now. "Work This Time" is by far the band's top track on Spotify, which surprised me a little, it's kind of lo-fi even compared to a lot of their other songs. I've seen a theory that its appearance on the Spotify playlist 'Modern Psychedelia' is the main reason. A lot of the band's later albums have tracks running together with no gaps, which makes it really difficult to drop those songs into playlists. And there are one or two incredibly abrupt transitions here, which I try to avoid. I apologize if they annoy you as much as they annoy me. 

I have a whole thing with the 5/4 time signature: a few years ago I made an entire album in 5/4, and every year since, I've had a May 4th post with a new song and a DJ mix of music in the 5/4 time signature. Certain artists who mess with different time signatures have made multiple appearances in the series (Soundgarden, Rush, Peter Gabriel, Radiohead), but King Gizzard is the only band that I've included in all four mixes so far. "Black Hot Soup" was in my 2022 mix, and "Float Along - Fill Your Lungs" and "Polygondwanaland" and "Superposition" and "Plastic Boogie" and "Supreme Acendancy" will probably appear in some of my future DJ sets. And that's not even all of King Gizzard's songs that are partly or fully in 5/4 by a long shot (there's also "Crumbling Castle," "The River," "Theia," "The Land Before Timeland," "Flamethrower," "Wah Wah," "Atraxia," and I'm sure others I haven't noticed yet). They might be the only rock band that I can definitively say has written more songs in 5/4 than I have, and I find their use of it to be varied and inspiring. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

 





I appeared on the latest episode of the Shoving Wilco podcast to discuss my recent Spin piece about Wilco. 

My Top 100 Singles of 1974

Monday, July 15, 2024
























Here's the Spotify playlist:

1. Golden Earring - "Radar Love"
2. Elton John - "Bennie And The Jets"
3. Steely Dan - "Rikki Don't Lose That Number"
4. Dolly Parton – “Jolene”
5. Paul McCartney & Wings - "Band On The Run"
6. James Brown - "The Payback"
7. Stevie Wonder - "Living For The City"
8. Billy Joel - "Piano Man"
9. David Bowie - "Rebel Rebel"
10. Barry White - "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe"
11. Bad Company - "Can't Get Enough"
12. Kool & The Gang - "Jungle Boogie"
13. Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Free Bird"
14. Gregg Allman - "Midnight Rider"
15. Elton John - "The Bitch Is Back"
16. Queen - "Killer Queen"
17. Joni Mitchell – “Help Me”
18. Billy Swan – “I Can Help”
19. Rufus and Chaka Khan - "Tell Me Something Good"
20. Linda Ronstadt - "You're No Good"
21. George Jones - "The Grand Tour"
22. The Rolling Stones - "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)" 
23. Dolly Parton – “I Will Always Love You”
24. Rush - "Working Man"
25. The Eagles - "Already Gone"
26. Roberta Flack - "Feel Like Makin' Love"
27. Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Sweet Home Alabama"
28. Bachman-Turner Overdrive -"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet"
29. Pink Floyd - "Time / Breathe (Reprise)"
30. Barry White - "Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up"
31. The Hues Corporation - "Rock The Boat"
32. George McCrae - "Rock Your Baby"
33. Aerosmith - "Train Kept A Rollin'"
34. Redbone - "Come And Get Your Love"
35. The Steve Miller Band - "The Joker"
36. Robert Palmer – “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley”
37. Lou Reed – “Sally Can’t Dance”
38. Stevie Wonder - "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing"
39. Marvin Gaye - "Distant Lover (live)" 
40. Jimmy Buffett – “A Pirate Looks At Forty”
41. Dionne Warwick and The Spinners – “Then Came You”
42. Willie Nelson - "Bloody Mary Morning"
43. B.T. Express – “Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied)” 
44. The O'Jays - "For The Love Of Money"
45. Big Star – “September Gurls”
46. Al Green – “Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)”
47. Carl Carlton – “Everlasting Love”
48. The Jackson 5 - "Dancing Machine"
49. Queen - "Liar"
50. The Who - "The Real Me"
51. Paper Lace – “The Night Chicago Died”
52. Stevie Wonder - "You Haven't Done Nothin'"
53. Moe Bandy – “I Just Started Hatin’ Cheatin’ Songs Today”
54. Billy Joel - "The Entertainer"
55. Cheech & Chong - "Earache My Eye"
56. George Jones - 'These Days (I Barely Get By)" 
57. Kool & The Gang - "Hollywood Swinging"
58. The Love Unlimited Orchestra - "Love's Theme"
59. Elton John - "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me"
60. Bad Company - "Bad Company"
61. Steely Dan - "Pretzel Logic"
62. David Bowie – “Diamond Dogs”
63. Aerosmith - "Same Old Song And Dance"
64. Little Feat - "Oh Atlanta"
65. Bobby Bland – “Ain’t No Love In The Heart of The City”
66. The Isley Brothers - "Summer Breeze"
67. Henry Chapin - "Cat's In The Cradle"
68. Brian Protheroe – “Pinball”
69. Carl Douglas - "Kung Fu Fighting"
70. Earth, Wind & Fire – “Devotion”
71. George Jones - "The Door"
72. The Kiki Dee Band – “I’ve Got The Music In Me”
73. Marvin Gaye - "You Sure Love To Ball"
74. Queen - "Now I'm Here"
75. Daryl Hall & John Oates - "When The Morning Comes"
76. Jimmy Buffett – “Come Monday”
77. Carly Simon - “Haven’t Got Time For The Pain”
78. Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Call Me The Breeze"
79. The Rolling Stones - "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)" 
80. David Essex - "Rock On"
81. Curtis Mayfield – “Sweet Exorcist”
82. Rufus & Chaka Khan – “You Got The Love”
83. Stevie Wonder - "He's Misstra Know-It-All"
84. Carole King - "Jazzman"
85. Frank Zappa – “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow”
86. Electric Light Orchestra – “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head”
87. John Lennon - "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night"
88. Bill Withers – “The Same Love That Made Me Laugh”
89. America – “Tin Man”
90. The Rolling Stones - "Ain't Too Proud To Beg"
91. Billy Joel - "Captain Jack"
92. Carly Simon & James Taylor - "Mockingbird"
93. Terry Jacks - "Seasons In The Sun"
94. Neil Young – “Walk On”
95. T. Rex - "Teenage Dream"
96. The Three Degrees – “When Will I See You Again”
97. Leonard Cohen – “Lover Lover Lover”
98. Chicago – “Wishing You Were Here”
99. Eric Clapton - "I Shot The Sheriff"
100. John Denver – “Back Home Again”

The only song not on the playlist is "Earache My Eye." I see ads for Cheech & Chong's cannabis gummies every single time I look at Twitter, but their biggest song isn't on Spotify? Priorities, guys! I was fascinated to learn that Barry White's "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" and Bad Company's "Can't Get Enough" were both in the top 20 of the Hot 100 at the same time. America couldn't get enough of "can't get enough of your love" choruses in the fall of 1974. 

Previously:
My Top 50 Albums of 1974
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1975
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1976
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1977
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1978
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1979
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1980
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1981
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1982
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1983
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1984
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 1985
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles 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
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2021
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2022
My Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Singles of 2023

TV Diary

Friday, July 12, 2024

 




The second season of "Severance" is still months away, but "Sunny" seems at least superficially ready to fulfull a similar niche: an actor people know from "Parks & Rec" (Rashida Jones) in a dark Apple TV+ comedy/drama with an unsettling sci-fi premise. Jones's character lives in a near-future Japan where talking service robots are fully integrated into society, and Jones hates them because a robot killed her father. But the titular robot, Sunny, is her only companion as she tries to solve the mystery of her missing husband and son, so a lot of the show is her having surly conversations with a chipper robot. Creator Katie Robbins has mostly written on more conventional cable drama fare ("The Affair," "The Last Tycoon"), so I'm a little surprised but I think she's come up with something pretty promising here. 

Everybody knows Lady Jane Grey died at 17. What this show presupposes is, maybe she didn't? It feels like there are so many shows like this now: soapy, irreverent historical shows full of modern dialogue and 21st century pop music, and often race blind casting and fantasy elements. "The Great" and "Dickinson" and "Mary & George" are the best of these, "Bridgerton" kind of counts too and has its moments, but "My Lady Jane" is in the just alright category with "The Buccaneers." Why are there people shapeshifting into animals? What the hell is going on? 

A Netflix show about people in London who start to develop superpowers. It follows a lot of the conventions of the superhero origin story genre, but is much more about the characters than the action scenes, I like it. 

Apple TV+ is slowly starting to make more non-English language shows, and this one takes place in Spain but has a familiar American star, Eva Longoria. A nice character-driven dramedy, don't love it but it's pleasant and sometimes funny or poignant. 

Tatiana Maslany starred in the original "Orphan Black" and then "She-Hulk: Attorney At Law," and Krysten Ritter starred in "Jessica Jones" and now "Orphan Black: Echoes," which makes me feel like there's an MCU/"Orphan Black" exchange program going on. Maslany's virtuoso performance as several clones with distinct personalities was always a big part of the draw of the original series, so I'm surprised that's not really the point of the spinoff, which simply takes place in the same narrative a few decades later, with the daughter of Maslany's character as a supporting character. I like it so far, but at a few episodes in I feel like I'm still waiting to see what the point of it all is supposed to be. 

I am fine with the consensus that "The Bear" is one of the best shows on television, but I do sympathize with the vocal detractors and understand a lot of the criticisms. My two least favorite episodes so far are the season 2 Thanksgiving episode that was overstuffed with celebrity cameos, and the season 3 premiere that was basically one long, interminable montage with frequent clips of the famous people from the Thanksgiving episode. After that rough patch, though, I mostly really enjoyed season 3. Neil was a very likeable character until they started constantly pairing him up with a similar but more broadly comedic character, Teddy, in the most tiresomely sitcommy scenes on the show, but there was a lot of great stuff, including the episode centered on Tina and the episode that introduced "Billions" creator Brian Koppelman as an obnoxious character named Computer. 

The first three seasons of "Shoresy" had a really enjoyable arc that is basically the end of Shoresy's hockey career has he gets too old to play. So I like that they ended season 3 basically calling it the end of "part 1" of the series and implying that he'll return in season 4 with a new job and probably a new supporting cast. I'm still amazed they took such a one-note supporting character from "Letterkenny" and made him a fairly nuanced protagonist. 

Just before season 4 started, Amazon announced that "The Boys" will end after season 5, which I think is a good call. They've kept escalating the insanity of the plot and the violence and the gore so consistently that I think it's good that they steer toward an ending before they break the show on some level and it becomes too ridiculous to enjoy. What I've watched of this season has been good so far, Sister Sage is a great character. And Firecracker continues the show's insidious tradition of evil women that I find extremely attractive. 

This is one of those British cult comedies that only had 6 episodes a couple decades ago but people still talk about it. And at this point I feel like I want to see everything Matt Berry's ever been in, so I decided to look for it on streaming services and fortunately Peacock has it. Pretty great, love the really hyper specific parody of the tone and visual style of low budget '80s horror. 

I had to watch this Netflix series just on the strength of the title, but it's actually a pretty good show about the true story of a doctor in 1970s Thailand who published a newspaper column about sex under the name Doctor Climax. It reminds me of "Masters of Sex" or even "Minx" in terms of being a smart, playful, sometimes titillating show about a period of time when really basic sexual education was still controversial. 

Another Netflix show with an appealingly ridiculous name, and this was really follows through on the absurdity. It's about a woman who is transformed into a chicken nugget by a machine, and her father tries to turn her back into a human. 

A South Korean show that's kind of a straightforward high school soap opera but in a high concept premise where kids are sorted into different education tracks from the moment they're born and this school is just for the top 0.01% of kids. 

A Netflix horror anthology from Indonesia, pretty good from what I've watched so far, doesn't have a huge budget but I like the style of the visual effects. 

A Brazilian show about a woman who is pregnant with twins by two different men, her philandering and estranged husband and her rapist. Not a good premise for a soap opera!

A Turkish romcom series on Netflix, decent light entertainment. 

This Korean show on Netflix is like a reality competition with actors and celebrities in this hokey mystery building trying to win challenges. It's really crappy and low budget, feels like you're just watching security camera footage from an escape room. 

This PBS miniseries does a pretty good job of telling the story of disco in three episodes. The first, my favorite, gets into stuff like David Mancuso's loft parties and the musical roots of disco in Philly Soul, and there's a great interview with Earl Young, the Sigma Sound drummer widely credited with developing what became the typical disco drum beat. The second episode covers the peak of the disco phenomenon, Saturday Night Fever and all that. And the third episode is about the backlash and Disco Demolition Night and things going back underground and starting to evolve into house music and rave culture. I wish the production values were a little better, but a good series, mostly stuff I already knew but I learned a little and really enjoyed the new interviews with some legendary people. 

This 2-part doc on Paramount+ is about Melissa Etheridge playing a concert at a women's prison in her hometown. But it also goes all through her musical history and how she's been performing at prisons since she was a teen blues prodigy, as well as how she lost her son to opioid addiction and has a lot of real empathy for the women who've written to her from prison and the circumstances that brought them there. So it's mostly a concert film with some poignant interviews in between, although the new song she debuts, inspired by the prisoners she's met, eh, it's not her best work. 

With the Olympics coming up, it's cool to have something like this Netflix docuseries that lets you get to know stars like Sha'Carri Richardson a little better. 

No, it's not about Nick Cannon! Tip your waiters, folks! The Dutch sperm bank donor that this series is about didn't participate in the production, although he has since clarified that he "only" has 550 children. I dunno, man, shit is weird.

As famous as Jonestown is, I'm surprised I haven't seen something like this tell the story in this level of detail before, they talked to survivors and witnesses and it's really chilling stuff. 

For some reason, it's been two years since the second season of "P-Valley" aired and it's still not clear when season 3 is coming. In the meantime, Starz made this docuseries hosted by one of the show's stars, about a real strip club (but one in Memphis, so not exactly where the show takes place, Mississippi). I like the tone of the show, like "P-Valley" it treats the people in the club with respect while still being pretty blunt about the fact that it is a strip club, but it really feels like a thrown together stopgap for impatient fans of "P-Valley." 

I've watched the American and Italian versions of this show, and I think the French version is the one I enjoy the least. In the latest season, they got a singer who doesn't rap to be a judge, which feels like a bad indication that France doesn't even have enough successful rappers to make a hip hop competition series work. 

I got my 9-year-old the Exploding Kittens card game for Christmas last year, and he really loves it. It's a pretty fun game, there's a lot of luck and silliness but a decent amount of strategy involved as well, we got the expansion pack so we can play with more people at family gatherings. I was a little disappointed to learn that Netflix's "Exploding Kittens" series is an 'adult cartoon' because my kid wouldn't really be able to watch it. But after seeing an episode, I dunno, maybe it's for the best that he doesn't watch it, it's really just dumb and boring. I don't expect a direct adaptation of the game or a masterfully plotted comedy, but the whole tone and pace of it feels so stale. 

A sci-fi fantasy animated series on Apple TV+, seems okay with some cool-looking beasts but I really do not like the animation style, the aesthetic and the color scheme have such a sickly pastel new age look. 

I'm glad that Apple TV+ is dedicated to doing so many Peanuts cartoons. The voice cast never sounds quite right to me as someone who grew up on the old animated specials, but they get the animation style and overall tone more or less right, and this latest one is a cute series with Snoopy and Woodstock and his bird friends at a summer camp. 

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 362: Jodeci

Thursday, July 11, 2024


 























This week Jodeci are wrapping up a Vegas residency that they began in March, so I thought I'd look back at one of the most influential R&B groups of the '90s. 

Jodeci album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. U And I
2. My Phone
3. Treat U
4. Sweaty (featuring Missy Elliott)
5. Won't Waste U (featuring Missy Elliott)
6. In The Meanwhile (featuring Timbaland)
7. Come Up To My Room (with Tha Dogg Pound)
8. Good Luv
9. Can We Flo?
10. Bring On Da' Funk (featuring Missy Elliott and Timbaland)
11. Give It Up
12. Wild Side
13. Still Waiting (K-CI & JoJo)
14. I Wanna Make Love To You (K-CI & JoJo)
15. Game Face (K-CI & JoJo)
16. Down For Life (K-CI & JoJo)
17. My Brother's Keeper (K-CI & JoJo)
18. Body Parts (featuring Mila J)

Tracks 1, 2 and 3 from Forever My Lady (1991)
Tracks 4, 5 and 6 from Diary Of A Mad Band (1993)
Track 7 from Murder Was The Case (The Soundtrack) (1994)
Track 8, 9 and 10 from The Show, The After Party, The Hotel (1995)
Track 11 from Don't Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (1996)
Track 12 from High School High: The Soundtrack (1996)
Track 13 from Love Always by K-CI & JoJo (1997)
Track 14 from It's Real by K-CI & JoJo (1999)
Track 15 from by K-CI & JoJo (2000)
Track 16 from Emotional by K-CI & JoJo (2002)
Track 17 from My Brother's Keeper by K-CI & JoJo (2013)
Track 18 from The Past, The Present, The Future (2015)

Jodeci stood out from the other vocal groups of their era because they were styled a little more like rappers, in casual jeans and timbs. The elephant in the room that I'll acknowledge is that the now-disgraced Sean "Puffy" Combs was working at Uptown Records at the time, and was the reputed architect of that image. But Combs hadn't moved into production yet, and Jodeci members DeVante Swing and Mr. Dalvin were behind a lot of the group's production, alongside Al B. Sure on their first album and.

In the early '90s, DeVante Swing started gathering a group of talented up-and-comers in his Rochester studio Da Bassment that came to be called Swing Mob, including a bunch of people that would shape the sound of R&B over the next decade: Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Ginuwine, Static Major, Stevie J, and Tweet. Missy and Timbaland have a few writing and production and feature credits on On Diary of a Mad Band and The Show, The After Party, The Hotel, and you can hear what sounds like Missy's voice or Tim's production style even on some tracks they're not credited for. It's not quite the fricky-fricky Timbo sound that really flowered on Aaliyah's One In A Million in 1996, but you can hear him starting to develop his signatures. "In The Meanwhile" features probably Timbaland's first on-record guest verse, and it's pretty awkward, it reminds me of Puffy on "Dolly My Baby." Missy's verses on those albums are a lot of fun, though, she was really a natural born star. 

Jodeci made a couple soundtrack appearances after The Show, The After Party, The Hotel, but that was the last album the full group made together for 20 years. Instead, the two brothers in the group, K-Ci and JoJo, split off as a duo and basically picked up right where Jodeci left off, and DeVante Swing did some writing and producing on a few K-Ci & JoJo tracks, including "Still Waiting." Love Always went triple platinum like Jodeci's top-selling album Forever My Lady, and while Jodeci never got into the top 10 of the Hot 100, K-Ci & JoJo got to #1 twice, with "All My Life" and 2Pac's "How Do U Want It." Ultimately, K-Ci & JoJo have made five albums, including reuniting with Timbaland on the Static Major-written "Game Face." "Down For Life" is a pretty nice Babyface composition, too. And then Jodeci finally reunited for a fourth album in 2015. While they still perform together, it feels increasingly unlikely that we're gonna get any new music from them, which is fine, they have a pretty strong catalog as is. 

Monthly Report: July 2024 Singles

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

 






1. Lay Bankz - "Tell Ur Girlfriend"
I've been cranky about modern R&B hits sampling '90s R&B hits, especially multiple songs sampling the same track, and especially sampling Timbaland's classics. But I'm always happy to make exceptions if something sounds great, and "Tell Ur Girlfriend" makes even better use of a sample of Ginuwine's "Pony" than Lah Pat's 2023 hit "Rodeo." I hadn't really heard Lay Bankz before this song but I belatedly checked out her After 7 project and it's pretty cool and varied, some tracks even remind me of Dawn Richard. Here's the 2024 singles Spotify playlist that I update every month. 

2. Ariana Grande - "The Boy Is Mine"
Likewise, I rolled my eyes when Ariana Grande borrowed the title of a '90s R&B classic for a track on her new album, and then drafted Brandy and Monica for a cameo in the video and features on the song's remix. But this song really bangs, I like it more every time I hear it. In a climate when even the biggest pop artists tend to abandon promoting an album after one or two hits, Ariana Grande is one of the only people left who consistently makes her 3rd singles stick. 

3. Victoria Monet - "Alright"
I was starting to worry that Jaguar II wouldn't even get a 2nd hit when "On My Mama" was heading towards a year since its release. But Victoria Monet finally issued a follow-up single, and I think it was a good choice to go with the one Kaytranada production on the album, something clubby is a good contrast from the lush soulful D'Mile productions. 

4. Billie Eilish - "Lunch"
The day after Hit Me Hard And Soft was released, my son's school held their annual spring carnival. I hadn't listened to the album yet, so the first time I heard "Lunch" was on a little boombox in an elementary school while we were doing a 'cake walk' (basically like musical chairs except when the music stops you stand on a number on the floor, and if your number is called you win a cake). Kind of a weird context in which to hear a thinly veiled song about oral sex for the first time, but it sounded good through radio static. 

5. Lainey Wilson - "Hang Tight Honey"
Lainey Wilson is on a great hot streak right now, but "Hang Tight Honey" is about twice as fast as her biggest hits, so I don't know if country radio will embrace it. I hope I'm wrong, though, it's great. 

6. Post Malone f/ Morgan Wallen - "I Had Some Help"
Post Malone and Morgan Wallen are both incredibly overexposed guys I generally dislike and sometimes grudgingly enjoy music from. Both also emerged relatively unscathed from saying the N-word on camera, which makes them even harder to like. I like "I Had Some Help," though, I think it's easily a top 5 song for both of them. It's a little funny as a two guy duet, it sounds like they're describing a relationship with each other, but if anything that makes the song better. 

7. Isabel LaRosa - "Favorite"
This song intrigued me because it's got Dembow drums and one verse in Spanish but otherwise has a very 'dark pop' Billie Eilish sort of vibe. And it turns out Isabel LaRosa is a Cuban-American singer-songwriter from nearby Annapolis, Maryland, so I'm really rooting for her career now, it's an interesting fusion of influences. 

8. Pearl Jam - "Wreckage"
"Dark Matter" and "Wreckage" are now Pearl Jam's first back-to-back #1s on the Mainstream Rock chart, and I think it's well earned, they really pulled off a classic 1-2 punch of a hard rocking lead single and a really catchy midtempo follow-up. 

9. Dua Lipa - "Illusion"
Although I'm one of the few people who doesn't regard Radical Optimism as a disappointment or a misfire, "Illusion" was the song that took the longest to grow on me, partly because I really dislike the weird phasing effect on the "dance all night" backing vocals. That's mostly irritating on headphones, though, it mostly sounds fine on the radio, which is mostly where I hear this song now. 

10. Camila Cabello f/ Lil Nas X - "He Knows"
I do regard C,XOXO as a misfire, but this song is one of the few moments where I think it totally works, I love how the drums skip along on this song. 

The Worst Single of the Month: Artemas - "I Like The Way You Kiss Me"
This song has gone to #1 in over a dozen countries across Europe, so I supposed I should be grateful that it peaked at a relatively ignorable #12 in America. But ugh, this song has such a terrible vibe, even before I saw Artemas's terrible mustache. 

My Top 50 Albums of 1974

Tuesday, July 09, 2024

 




















Here's the Spotify playlist with a track from each album:

1. Big Star - Radio City
2. Little Feat - Feats Don't Fail Me Now
3. Queen - Sheer Heart Attack
4. Dolly Parton – Jolene
5. Joni Mitchell – Court And Spark
6. Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic
7. Willie Nelson - Phases And Stages
8. David Bowie - Diamond Dogs
9. Stevie Wonder - Fulfillingness' First Finale
10. George Jones – The Grand Tour
11. Jackson Browne - Late For The Sky
12. Van Morrison – Veedon Fleece
13. Neil Young - On The Beach
14. The Eagles - On The Border
15. Bill Withers - +'Justments
16. Linda Ronstadt - Heart Like A Wheel
17. Barry White – Can’t Get Enough
18. Funkadelic - Standing on the Verge of Getting It On
19. John Cale - Fear
20. Thin Lizzy – Nightlife
21. New York Dolls - Too Much Too Soon
22. Al Green - Al Green Explores Your Mind
23. Sparks – Kimono My House
24. Robert Palmer – Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley
25. Lou Reed - Sally Can't Dance
26. Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
27. Yes - Relayer
28. Roxy Music - Country Life
29. Ohio Players – Fire
30. Aerosmith - Get Your Wings
31. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping
32. Grateful Dead – From The Mars Hotel
33. Brian Eno - Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)
34. Gram Parsons - Grievous Angel
35. Leonard Cohen - New Skin For The Old Ceremony
36. Bad Company - Bad Company
37. The Doobie Brothers - What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits
38. Electric Light Orchestra – Eldorado
39. Tom Waits - The Heart Of Saturday Night
40. Billy Joel - Streetlife Serenade
41. John Sebastian – Tarzana Kid
42. Blue Oyster Cult – Secret Treaties
43. Elton John - Caribou
44. Jimmy Buffett – A1A
45. Bob Dylan - Planet Waves
46. The Rolling Stones - It's Only Rock 'n Roll
47. Queen - Queen II
48. Brian Eno – Here Come The Warm Jets
49. Parliament - Up for the Down Stroke
50. Donna Summer – Lady of the Night
 
To quote Mr. Gorgenchuck in one of my favorite Kids In The Hall sketches: "Popular music has been on the wane since 1974, the year of the first Bad Company release." I have that album! I wrote a really cool piece that should be published soon in honor of the 50th anniversary of one of the top 10 albums on this list. An editorial note: I accidentally put Bob Marley's Natty Dread on my 1975 list when it actually came out in '74. Instead of fixing that post or putting it on multiple lists, I'm just going to let the error stand and it'll be a '75 album in my imperfect canon. 

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 361: Common

Wednesday, July 03, 2024

 






Common and Pete Rock's new album The Auditorium, Vol. 1 is out later this month and the singles have been really promising, so it feels like a good time to look back on his catalog. 

Common deep album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Just In The Nick Of Rhyme
2. In My Own World (Check The Method) featuring No ID
3. Maintaining
4. Gettin' Down At The Ampitheater
5. Food For Funk
6. Heat
7. The Questions featuring Mos Def
8. New Wave featuring Laetitia Sadier
9. I Got A Right Ta featuring Pharrell Williams
10. Real People
11. They Say featuring Kanye West and John Legend
12. So Far To Go featuring J Dilla and D'Angelo
13. Forever Begins featuring Bilal and Lonnie "Pops" Lynn
14. Inhale
15. Gold featuring James Fauntleroy
16. Rewind That
17. Pyramids featuring Bilal
18. Leaders (Crib Love) featuring A-Trak and Samora Pinderhughes
19. Get It Right featuring Raphael Saadiq

Track 1 from Can I Borrow A Dollar? (1992)
Tracks 2 and 3 from Resurrection (1994)
Tracks 4 and 5 from One Day It'll All Make Sense (1997)
Tracks 6 and 7 from Like Water For Chocolate (2000)
Tracks 8 and 9 from Electric Circus (2002)
Tracks 10 and 11 from Be (2005)
Tracks 12 and 13 from Finding Forever (2007)
Track 14 from Universal Mind Control (2008)
Track 15 from The Dreamer/The Believer (2011)
Track 16 from Nobody's Smiling (2014)
Track 17 from Black America Again (2016)
Track 18 from Let Love (2019)
Track 19 from A Beautiful Revolution (2021)

I remember seeing the videos from One Day It'll All Make Sense in high school, and being impressed by Common's features with Black Star and the Roots. But I didn't really become a Common fan until I heard "The 6th Sense," at a time when DJ Premier was my favorite producer in the world, and picked up Like Water For Chocolate and then One Day and then Resurrection. And though Common became more famous and commercially successful later on, I still really dig those earlier records and think of that as his classic period. 

Fast forward to 2017, and I was doing teleprompter at a Howard University's Charter Day event, which was hosted by Common, whose daughter was a student at Howard. During our rehearsal, we got to the invocation part of the event, and Common joked around and started to rap the opening lines of his song "Invocation." I told him that was great because it was one of my favorite songs of his, and he seemed surprised and asked me if I was from Chicago -- I guess by now he's used to a lot of people only know his music from Like Water or Be onward. I don't think this was the case yet at the time, but now "Invocation" actually has the most streams of any song from any Common album now, the only Common tracks with more streams are collaborations with other G.O.O.D. artists ("Glory," "Get 'Em High," "One Man Can Change The World," "Make Her Say"). I'm not sure how that happened, if it was on some '90s hip hop playlists or something -- "Invocation" wasn't a single but it did have a video I'd see on "Rap City" back then, so it didn't feel right to include it here. 

Then last year, I got an e-mail from Stereogum asking if I was interested in interviewing No ID, and I jumped at the chance. It's definitely one of the most widely read things I've done lately, and I'm really proud of it, No ID has never done a lot of press and I was ready to go through his whole fascinating career and get some great stories out of him that hadn't been public before. We only talked for a few minutes about his work with Common, but I really love the 5 albums they made together (tracks 1-5 and 15-16 on here), I think they're one of the great MC/producer duos. I also like how Common gets into their history on "Rewind That," and kind of apologizes for the fact that they didn't work together for a decade. 

Common recorded his early 2000s albums in New York with the Soulquarians collective (?uestlove, D'Angelo, J Dilla, Bilal, James Poyser, among others). Like Water was a big breakthrough for him, and then Electric Circus was a really divisive commercial failure. Listening to those albums now, though, I think they're pretty similar and people overreacted to Electric Circus's artsy indulgences at a time when mainstream rap was very straight-laced and risk averse. Still, it has a song featuring Stereolab singer Laetitia Sadier, and ends with a jammy 8-minute song and a jammy 10-minute song. The album's only single, the Neptunes-produced "Come Close" with Mary J. Blige, was a very pretty and radio-friendly song, and the other Neptunes production, "I Got A Right Ta," was the rare Pharrell track of the era that wasn't radio-friendly. Common's father, Lonnie "Pops" Lynn Jr., did spoken word outros on most of Common's albums until his death in 2014, I felt like it was only right to include at least one of those, "Forever Begins." 

If Common was at a career low after Electric Circus, he got a perfect movie script comeback in the form of Kanye West's success. Common opened a lot of doors for Chicago hip-hop, and now for the first time someone else from Chicago was way bigger than him, mentored by No ID, with Common featured on West's first two blockbuster albums, which followed Common's conscious rap template in a number of ways, large and small (Kanye even quoted the "yeah yeah now check the method" bit from "In My Own World" on "Jesus Walks"). To nobody's surprise, Kanye signed Common to his label, and Common's first two G.O.O.D. Music albums were the biggest records of his career. Be and Finding Forever are fine albums but I think they're a little overrated by the Kanye generation, and Common and Kanye's chemistry is not like Common and No ID's chemistry or Common and J Dilla's chemistry (Dilla produced tracks 6-8 and 12 here). The deep cuts are fun to revisit but I have no desire to hear any of Common's G.O.O.D. singles again. 

Common once again caught a brick that stalled his momentum with the Pharrell-produced Universal Mind Control. The title track was just a "Planet Rock" homage that probably seemed like a perfectly marketable sound after stuff like Kanye's "Stronger" or Missy's "Lose Control," but I feel like the world just flinched in revulsion at that record and Common's brief mainstreak peak came to a swift end. Since then he's made a bunch of albums, and I especially liked his first reunion with No ID on The Dreamer/The Believer, but he's definitely settled into veteran mode. This album with Pete Rock definitely seems like the most excitement Common has generated in a long time, I'm looking forward to it. 

Monthly Report: June 2024 Albums

Tuesday, July 02, 2024

























1. Lucky Daye - Algorithm
As much as I loved Candydrip, Lucky Daye and D'Mile may have topped it with Algorithm, which has this loose psychedelic vibe that I love. The sound of the whole thing is so rich and warm, I really dig the funky guitar-driven tracks like "Never Leavin' U Lonely" and "Breakin' The Bank," and the really '70s synth sounds on "Soft" and "Think Different." And the only two features, Teddy Swims and RAYE, both help broaden the album's sound even more. Here's the 2024 albums Spotify playlist with every new release I listen to throughout the year (and some others I never get around to). 

2. Megan Thee Stallion - Megan
I think Megan Thee Stallion has been easily one of the best mainstream rappers of this decade so far, but in classic southern rapper tradition, her mixtapes like Tina Snow and Something For Thee Hotties tend to be better front-to-back listens than her proper albums. Megan is easily the best of her three albums, though, even the advance singles "Hiss" and "Cobra" sound better as bookends than they did as standalone songs. She goes all in on her love of anime and Japanese pop culture ("Otaku Hot Girl" and "Mamushi"), introspective moments ("Moody Girl") and her southern roots roots ("Accent" with GloRilla and "Paper Together" with UGK, finally using the unreleased Pimp C verse that Pimp C's widow promised her over five years ago), and there's a minimum of iffy crossover moves (and I really like the most pop-sounding track, "Worthy"). 

3. Kehlani - Crash
I think Kehlani generally makes good albums, but I think she's really hitting her stride and making albums that I enjoy more front-to-back with Blue Water Road and Crash. This has a good mix of styles, the Nina Sky and Christina Aguilera samples are fun but I really enjoy the downtempo songs like "Crash" and "Better Not," which is quietly one of the best country songs this year by an artist who doesn't usually do country music (and there are a lot of those). 

4. Tems - Born In The Wild
Holy smokes! 

5. Carly Pearce - Hummingbird
Carly Pearce's last album, 29: Written In Stone, was, in my opinion, one of the great modern divorce albums, cathartic and poignant. Pearce is still in breakup song mode for a lot of Hummingbird, but the lyrics feel a little less personal, or at least resemble other people's songs more -- "Truck On Fire" takes revenge on an ex's pickup much like Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," and "My Place" hinges on the same wordplay as Ashley Moore's current hit "Your Place." It's still a very good album from a beautifully expressive vocalist, though, and "Still Blue" and the Chris Stapleton duet "We Don't Fight Anymore" have some deeper feeling to them. 

6. Kaytranada - Timeless
Kaytranada is one of the most prominent Black artists in contemporary dance music, and also one of the few who had a foot in R&B and hip hop, particularly before Beyonce and Drake released dance albums in 2022. His album with Amine last year was great, my favorite thing he's done to date, but it's only in the last few months that I've started to hear Kaytranada productions like Victoria Monet's "Alright" and Mariah The Scientist's "Out Of Luck" on R&B radio (the latter appears on Timeless). There's still a myriad of dance music styles on Timeless -- there's even a little Baltimore club in "Drip Sweat" with Channel Tres -- but I dig how R&B it is, how guest singers like Dawn Richard and Tinashe and PinkPantheress are perfect choices that often occupy that same liminal space between genres. Meghan Trainor also released an album named Timeless on the same day as this one, and it kinda goes without saying that it's not as good. 

7. Charli XCX - Brat
2024 began with a lot of obituaries declaring Pitchfork as effectively over thanks to some (admittedly worrysome) corporate meddling. But already twice this year, we've seen the resilient power of a Best New Music endorsement to dramatically raise the profile of an obscure act (Cindy Lee) or put a fringe chart act at the center of the conversation (Charli XCX). I've always like Charli XCX's music, but as someone who likes basic ass Top 40 pop more than quirky art-damaged "hyperpop," I'm about as happy with her more conventional albums like Sucker and Crash as I am with Brat. A lot of Charli XCX's signature moments ("I'm so fancy, you already know," "I don't care, I love it") are genuinely bratty, but Brat doesn't hit those notes that often. Instead, there's lot of anxiety about her career and her contemporaries (one song that's probably about Taylor Swift, another that's already been confirmed as being about Lorde and has been remixed with a Lorde verse), thoughts about getting older, getting engaged, possibly having a baby. The more introspective and emotional her lyrics get, the more robotically AutoTuned her voice is, which is a trick that rappers have doing for 15 years now, so it feels a little boring, or like a more calculated version of Farrah Abraham's 2012 cult classic My Teenage Dream Ended. It's a good record, but the more straightforward uptempo tracks like "Apple" or "Talk Talk" are my favorites. 

8. Normani - Dopamine
In June, Camila Cabello released her shitpost of a 4th solo album, while her far more talented former Fifth Harmony groupmate Normani finally staggered to the finish line with her long-delayed debut. It's a depressing situation, and Normani is already kind of admitting defeat in interviews and fans are pointing fingers over who's to blame for the album's commercial failure. I will say, though, it's a really good album, I love Normani's voice and she got a great assortment of writers and producers on Dopamine, including Starrah (who's from Delaware and went to the same schools I went to growing up!), who co-wrote about half of the album and guests on the opening track "Big Boy." It's a way more solid, confident record than the Chloe Bailey album that suffered a similar fate last year. 

9. various artists - Petty Country: A Country Music Celebration of Tom Petty
The way classic rock influences have come to dominate mainstream country music in the last couple decades is maybe not the best thing for Nashville creatively. But I must admit I smile every time I hear a riff that reminds me of Tom Petty on country radio, and I loved other recent tribute albums like Restoration: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin or Stoned Cold Country, so this is right up my alley. Dolly Parton's version of "Southern Accents" is better than every overly obvious cover on her 2023 album Rockstar, and the way Justin Moore nails the details on "Here Comes My Girl" totally vindicates my frequent claim that he's one of country's best vocalists of our time. It's cool that some of the Heartbreakers participate in this album: Benmont Tench plays on the Rhiannon Giddens version of "Don't Come Around Here No More," and Mike Campbell sings with Margo Price on "Ways To Be Wicked," a song he and Petty wrote for the country-ish band Lone Justice. I also love hearing Brothers Osborne cover "I Won't Back Down" because when I interviewed John Osborne last year he cited Campbell as a big influence on how he plays lead guitar. 

10. J.P. - Coming Out Party
If you've heard J.P.'s viral hit "Bad Bitty," you pretty much know what to expect from his independent debut album, which has no guests and a dozen 2-minute songs in the "Bad Bitty" template. He doesn't blossom into the T-Pain level talent you suspect he might be eventually, but he's got a durable formula, and some fun twists like the acoustic guitar on "Never Make Me Hate You" and the Laurie Anderson "O Superman" sample on "YDKM." 

The Worst Album of the Month: G-Eazy - Freak Show
G-Eazy never quite became a ubiquitous White rapper pop star on the level of Macklemore or Jack Harlow, but he had a run for a while there with three platinum albums in the mid-2010s. It seems like those days are over, though -- the top streaming track on Freak Show is a sequel to a song he released in his salad days in 2012, and "Ladie Killers III" has less than a 1/10th as many streams as the original "Lady Killers." I put on the album as background music while going through new releases, and became fascinated with one lyric that rhymes "Big Lebowski" with "Charles Bukowski," pretty much the only time Freak Show is mildly interesting.