Deep Album Cuts Vol. 349: Lenny Kravitz

Thursday, February 29, 2024


Lenny Kravitz is nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the first time this year, alongside Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Cher, Dave Matthews Band, Eric B. & Rakim, Foreigner, Peter Frampton, Jane's Addiction, Kool & The Gang, Oasis, Sinead O'Connor, Ozzy Osbourne, Sade, and A Tribe Called Quest

Lenny Kravitz deep album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Fear
2. Freedom Train
3. All I Ever Wanted
4. Flowers For Zoe
5. When The Morning Turns To Night
6. Sugar
7. Come On And Love Me
8. Sister
9. Tunnel Vision
10. Beyond The 7th Sky
11. Straight Cold Player
12. Live
13. It's Your Life
14. Bank Robber Man
15. Flash
16. Love Revolution
17. Sunflower (featuring Drake)
18. Strut
19. We Can Get It All Together

Tracks 1 and 2 from Let Love Rule (1989)
Tracks 3, 4 and 5 from Mama Said (1991)
Tracks 6, 7 and 8 from Are You Gonna Go My Way? (1993)
Tracks 9 and 10 from Circus (1995)
Tracks 11, 12 and 13 from 5 (1998)
Track 14 from Lenny (2001)
Track 15 from Baptism (2004)
Track 16 from It Is Time For A Love Revolution (2008)
Track 17 from Black And White America (2011)
Track 18 from Strut (2014)
Track 19 from Raise Vibration (2018)

Between Sheryl Crow's induction last year, and the nomination of Lenny Kravitz and Oasis this year, it feels like the Rock Hall is swinging hard towards the '90s rockers who were the most openly nostalgic for the '60s and '70s. That surprises me a little, because there are still huge '90s bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Alice In Chains who haven't even been nominated yet that I think pushed the sound of the era forward a little more. But as the biggest Black rock star of his time, Lenny Kravitz does deserve some consideration, and the guy is undeniably talented: he played every instrument on a lot of his songs, he's even a pretty sick drummer. Cindy Blackman Santana was Lenny Kravitz's touring drummer for many years and appeared in a lot of his videos, and I got to interview her last year, she was really cool. As far as I can tell "Straight Cold Player" is the only Kravitz studio track Blackman Santana ever played on.

Kravitz is releasing a new album, Blue Electric Light, in May. And when he started doing promo for the album late last year, he made comments in an Esquire interview about how he's always felt a little neglected by Black media outlets and award shows like BET, which made a lot of waves. Some people took Kravitz's side while others sort of shrugged that he made rock music that appealed more to White audiences. 

I have to say, though, putting this playlist together really impressed upon me that a whole lot of Kravitz's music is funk/soul and that he doesn't really make straight up hard rock that much of the time outside of those singles he's known for -- the mix of styles on his albums is very similar to most Prince albums. It's probably a missed opportunity that "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over" is just about the only time he's been played on R&B radio (give or take a guitar solo on a Tyrese single last year) -- "Sugar" hits that "It Ain't Over" vibe really nicely. On his first tour, Kravitz covered songs written by Hendrix and Love's Arthur Lee, but a lot of the songs on here remind me of Sly Stone more than anything else, he often has this almost lo-fi sound that's a cross between There's A Riot Goin' On and solo Lennon. 

Lenny Kravitz, initially performing under the stage name Romeo Blue, was in the tabloids for his marriage to actress Lisa Bonet before he even had a record out. And Bonet wrote some lyrics for his debut album, including "Fear." He wrote "Flowers For Zoe" for their daughter Zoe Kravitz, who's of course also a famous actress now. A 15-year-old Sean Ono Lennon co-wrote and played piano on "All I Ever Wanted" with Kravitz after they worked together on a cover of his father's "Give Peace A Chance." It was one of the first things Sean Ono Lennon had done besides appearing on Yoko Ono's albums. 

Circus is known as the underperforming dud of Kravitz's '90s albums, and he himself said he was distracted by his mother's illness, and she died a few months after the album was released. I think Circus is better than its reputation, though, it has some of his hardest rocking stuff, and he got a really nice John Bonham drum sound on it. In 1996, I went to the HORDE Tour, and Kravitz was the top-billed artist besides Blues Traveler, I recall his set being pretty good. 

Lenny Kravitz is one of those artists who released a Greatest Hits album at the height of their popularity, in his case in 2000 after the success of 5, and then never really wrote another song of consequence. He's still a hugely famous guy who shows up at award shows, but when he releases an album, I usually hear the first single a couple times on VH1 and then never think of it again. For many years, Kravitz was the only big name star in the music industry who was half Black and half Jewish, so when Drake came along with a similar background, it wasn't surprising that he linked up with Kravitz and guested on one of his songs, and "Sunflower" is a fun track. 

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 348: Norah Jones

Wednesday, February 28, 2024


Norah Jones has a new album, Visions, out next week. And I wanted to make a playlist that really reflects how interesting and wide ranging her career has been beyond her multi-platinum success with Come Away With Me

Norah Jones deep album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. As We Fall (with Laszlo)
2. Angels (with Wax Poetic and Ilhan Erashin)
3. Nightingale
4. New York City (with The Peter Malick Group)
5. The Long Way Home
6. Moon Song
7. I Gotta Get Drunk (with The Little Willies)
8. Be My Somebody
9. Carlo! (with El Madmo)
10. You've Ruined Me
11. Loretta (with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings)
12. Here We Go Again (with Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis)
13. Black (with Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi)
14. I Worship You (with The Little Willies)
15. After The Fall
16. Oh, So Many Years (with Billie Joe Armstrong)
17. Don't Know What It Means (with Puss n Boots)
18. Tragedy
19. Begin Again
20. You Don't Know (with Puss n Boots)
21. Say No More
22. You're Not Alone

Track 1 from Butterflies with Laszlo (1999)
Track 2 from Wax Poetic with Wax Poetic (2000)
Track 3 from Come Away With Me (2002)
Track 4 from New York City with The Peter Malick Group (2003)
Track 5 from Feels Like Home (2004)
Track 6 from Feels Like Home (Deluxe Edition) (2004)
Track 7 from The Little Willies with The Little Willies (2006)
Track 8 from Not Too Late (2007)
Track 9 from El Madmo with El Madmo (2008)
Track 10 from The Fall (2009)
Track 11 from ...Featuring Norah Jones (2010)
Track 12 from Here We Go Again: Celebrating The Genius Of Ray Charles with Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis (2011)
Track 13 from Rome with Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi (2011)
Track 14 from For The Good Times with The Little Willies (2012)
Track 15 from Little Broken Hearts (2012)
Track 16 from Foreverly with Billie Joe Armstrong (2013)
Track 17 from No Fools, No Fun with Puss n Boots (2014)
Track 18 from Day Breaks (2016)
Track 19 from Begin Again (2019)
Track 20 from Sister with Puss n Boots (2020)
Track 21 from Pick Me Up Off The Floor (2020)
Track 22 from I Dream of Christmas (2021)

Geethali Norah Jones Shankar is the daughter of a world famous Indian musician, Ravi Shankar, who helped popularize the sitar in western music, partly through his friendship with The Beatles. Norah Jones mostly grew up in Texas with her mother, though, where she developed a love for country music and Billie Holiday. I had no idea Jones had a famous father until well after she'd sold millions of albums -- I wonder if Blue Note Records even knew when they signed her. 

In her early years in New York before becoming famous, Jones, recorded albums with the Texas band Laszlo, the trip hop group Wax Poetic, and blues guitarist Peter Malick. And after Come Away With Me became a mainstream phenomenon, she continued working with small bands and championing cult artists. The follow-up album Feels Like Home contained covers of Tom Waits and Townes Van Zandt songs (fun fact: Blue Note released a Norah Jones EP called Deep Cuts in 2009, so I felt obliged to include a song that was on it, "Moon Song"). 

Norah Jones has been invited to guest on records by a wide range of artists including Outkast, Foo Fighters, and Belle & Sebastian, and she collected those collaborations on the 2010 compilation ...Featuring Norah Jones. But even once she kind of had the opportunity to be a pop star, she kept pursuing these weird little passion projects, covering old country songs in bands with silly names like The Little Willies and Puss n Boots, harmonizing on Everly Brothers songs with Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, and wearing wacky costumes with the indie rock band El Madmo. 

Jones's solo albums have never had the wild range of her side projects, but she's gotten gradually gotten more adventurous with them. The biggest departure was Broken Little Hearts, a cathartic breakup album produced by Danger Mouse. I've been kind of a Danger Mouse skeptic for a long time, very often when an artist has an album produced by Danger Mouse it's my least favorite record by them, but I really like Broken Little Hearts. Her last couple records Begin Again and Pick Me Up Off The Floor really impressed me, too, so I have high hopes for her new record, I think she's still reaching her full potential as a songwriter and as a vocalist, it's cool that having huge success at such a young age has freed her up to experiment so much. 

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. 339: The Breeders
Vol. 340: Sleater-Kinney
Vol. 341: Lana Del Rey
Vol. 342: Melanie
Vol. 343: Scarface
Vol. 344: Miley Cyrus
Vol. 345: Toby Keith
Vol. 346: The Jesus And Mary Chain
Vol. 347: Bob Marley & The Wailers

Movie Diary

Tuesday, February 27, 2024


a) Oppenheimer
I think it's interesting that Christopher Nolan's only two historical movies are both about World War II but are otherwise a study in contrasts. Dunkirk is his shortest movie, light on dialogue and heavy on realistic action, while Oppenheimer is his longest and talkiest movie, and almost psychedelic in its use of visual effects to convey psychological interiors. For me personally, I found Dunkirk more impressive, but Oppenheimer built steam over those three hours and was full of great performances large and small. I don't know if I would put it in Nolan's top five, though.  

b) Past Lives
I often roll my eyes when people write semi-autobiographical stories where the main character is a writer. But that choice feels more valuable in Past Lives, which at one point features two writer characters analyzing their own lives from a storytelling standpoint, who would be the hero or the villain to a reader. I thought that was an interesting little scene that showed how the movie existed in conversation with its tropes without being too cute about it or negating the emotion of the story. Also, at one point you see one of those characters at a book-signing event for a book they wrote called Boner, which is never remarked upon elsewhere in Past Lives, a very funny thing to happen in an otherwise very moving and soulful movie. I haven't seen all of this year's Best Picture nominees yet, but so far I think my scorecard is Killers of the Flower Moon > The Holdovers > Past Lives > Oppenheimer > Barbie > Maestro

I thought May December was great, particularly seeing an Oscar caliber actress like Natalie Portman give an amazing performance that was also a dark, funny critique of actors and awards season biopics, the whole thing went in a couple directions I didn't expect that made it work on multiple levels. Aside from the three leads, though, I'm surprised Cory Michael Smith hasn't gotten more praise for a great supporting performance, I also thought he was a standout in 2022's Call Jane. 

d) Nyad
Both Annette Bening and Jodie Foster have Oscar nominations for Nyad but it's not up for Best Picture, so it's not surprising that great performances (by both of them and Rhys Ifans) are what really elevate it above the usual sports biopic. I have no memory of hearing of Diana Nyad or her historic swim when it was happening, but the movie still got me pretty invested in the whole thing, and how you can find her both admirable and frustrating just like the people around her do. 

e) Rustin 
Rustin star Colman Domingo, director George C. Wolfe, and a lot of the supporting cast have tons of Broadway experience, and I've never seen a movie that felt more like it was adapted from a stage play but wasn't. It almost has the vibe of a musical with the songs cut out. That stagey quality isn't a bad thing per se, it gives the whole movie a charge of energy that many historical biopics could use. But every actor moves with such big gestures, even the camera seems to jump around them so urgently, that it really wrings any possible subtlety out of the movie, Wolfe's style was just far more suited to Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. I've been really impressed by everything I've seen Domingo in, so I'd be happy if he won the Oscar, but it's not my favorite performance by him, it felt very broad. Also: man, Chris Rock sticks out like a sore thumb in a movie that takes place in the '60s. 

f) The Last Voyage of the Demeter
Longtime readers may recall that my wife and I have a Valentine's Day tradition of Chinese takeout and scary movies. This year's movie was one we both wanted to see when it came out last summer, and we both found it enjoyable but maybe not as much as we'd hoped. Seemed like the kind of thing that would've been more exciting in the theater. 

g) Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning
Dead Reckoning had some absolutely great action sequences, particularly everything with the little yellow car and the handcuffs, and Hayley Atwell's character was a great new foil for Tom Cruise. But the stuff around the great action sequences felt a little more like padding than usual, the movie had a weird stop-start momentum and some stuff that dragged on way too long. I don't like when "part one of two" movies end kind of abruptly to remind you that the next installment is on the way, there are lots of movies that are part of a series and still feel like a satisfyingly complete film unto itself. 

h) The Creator
The Creator has a pretty Terminator-ish premise about a near future war between humans and AI, but it's still fun to see a big slick sci-fi movie, directed capably by Rogue One's Gareth Edwards, that's not part of any established franchise. John David Washington still feels like a placebo movie star, this probably would've felt more like a complete movie with someone with real presence and personality in the main role, even his dad. It was fun to see Alison Janney in a big effects-driven action movie. There's a minor character named Shipley who dies early in the movie, and when it happens Janney yells "Shipley!" about 20 times, that was weird to watch. 

i) Orion And The Dark
It was very strange to watch an animated film written by Charlie Kaufman with my 8-year-old son who loved it. I don't think fans of Kaufman's best known work necessarily need to seek this out, but I really enjoyed it, probably more than his last few projects. 

j) Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken
A more straightforward animated feature, but a fun one. Great voice cast and I liked the touch that Ruby's family lives amongst humans in a Coneheads-style premise (with "if anyone asks, we're from Canada" instead of "we come from France").

k) The Color Purple
I got to interview Fantasia Barrino a few years ago while she was on tour. And she said it was her last tour and that "There is something different that I must do, that I won't talk about now." I don't know if her plan for the next chapter of her career was acting, but maybe she already knew then that she wanted to reprise her role in The Color Purple on Broadway in a feature film, I don't really know what she was alluding to. In any event, I've loved seeing Fantasia back in the spotlight for this movie and she's great in it. There's an interesting contrast in the dark subject matter in The Color Purple and how bright and fun a lot of the musical numbers are, but it works. 

l) The Color Purple
I'd never really watched the first Color Purple movie all the way through, so I wanted to watch it before putting on the new one, great Whoopi Goldberg performance. It's interesting to watch this now, from the vantage point of it being Steven Spielberg's first straight up human-scale drama, now that he's made so many of them, because back then he was still the summer blockbuster guy, taking a relatively big risk. 

Friday, February 23, 2024


I ranked Pavement's albums for Spin

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 347: Bob Marley & The Wailers

Thursday, February 22, 2024


As I get up into a few hundred entries in this series, I feel more self-conscious about any major artists I haven't covered yet, and Bob Marley is one of those really transformative figures of 20th century music that I knew I always needed to get to at some point. The new biopic Bob Marley: One Love that opened in theaters last week doesn't seem to me like it would be a particularly good movie, but still, a good excuse to look back at his catalog. 

Bob Marley & The Wailers deep album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Midnight Ravers
2. Concrete Jungle
3. Slave Driver
4. Small Axe
5. Burnin' And Lootin'
6. Put It On
7. Talkin' Blues
8. Natty Dread
9. Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)
10. Trenchtown Rock (live)
11. Crazy Baldhead
12. Night Shift
13. So Much Things To Say
14. Guiltiness
15. Natural Mystic
16. Kaya
17. Crisis
18. One Drop
19. Africa Unite
20. Bad Card
21. Real Situation
22. We And Dem

Tracks 1, 2 and 3 from Catch A Fire (1973)
Tracks 4, 5 and 6 from Burnin' (1973)
Tracks 7, 8 and 9 from Natty Dread (1974)
Track 10 from Live! (1975)
Tracks 11 and 12 from Rastaman Vibration (1976)
Tracks 13, 14 and 15 from Exodus (1977)
Tracks 16 and 17 from Kaya (1978)
Tracks 18 and 19 from Survival (1979)
Tracks 20, 21 and 22 from Uprising (1980)

Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer formed The Wailers in the mid-'60s and made a few albums before their international breakthrough, Catch A Fire. The availability of the stuff before that album on streaming services today is spotty, so I just started at Catch A Fire and Burnin', which were intially credited to just The Wailers. After that, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer left the group, and everything from there was billed as Bob Marley & The Wailers. It's kind of unfortunate to leave out the early stuff produced by Lee "Scratch" Perry, but a lot of those early songs were re-recorded on the later records, so I'm still covering a lot of that material. 

It's kind of astonishing to think about what Bob Marley accomplished before dying at only 36 years old. The posthumous 1984 compilation Legend, which was a deliberate attempt to soften Marley's image with a focus on less political material, has become one of those greatest hits albums that casts a long shadow over the artist's catalog. It's sold over 15 million copies in the U.S. alone, whereas none of his proper studio albums are platinum in America and only a few of them are gold. So making a playlist like this really feels like a chance to make a counterpoint to Legend, to highlight important Marley songs that are left out of that portrait of his catalog. 

"Crisis" was recently sampled on the latest Hot 100 hit by a member of the Marley family,"Praise Jah In The Moonlight" by YG Marley, aka Lauryn Hill's son Joshua Marley. I do not like that song, but I like "Crisis." I remember weirdly hearing Charlie Hunter's excellent 1997 cover of Natty Dread before hearing the original album, that's a pretty cool record. My favorite songs on here are probably "Small Axe," "Night Shift," "One Drop" and "Concrete Jungle." 

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 346: The Jesus And Mary Chain

Wednesday, February 21, 2024


The Scottish band The Jesus And Mary Chain are releasing their 8th album Glasgow Eyes in March, so I thought I'd dig into their catalog a bit. 

The Jesus And Mary Chain deep album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Taste The Floor
2. The Living End
3. The Hardest Walk
4. Taste Of Cindy
5. Down On Me
6. About You
7. Cherry Came Too
8. Deep One Perfect Morning
9. Psychocandy
10. Kill Surf City
11. Between Planets
12. Here Comes Alice
13. Coast To Coast
14. Half Way To Crazy
15. Teenage Lust
16. Rollercoaster
17. Good For My Soul
18. Dirty Water
19. Everybody I Know
20. Hole
21. Perfume
22. Degenerate
23. War On Peace
24. All Things Pass

Tracks 1, 2, 3 and 4 from Psychocandy (1985)
Tracks 5, 6, 7 and 8 from Darklands (1987)
Tracks 9 and 10 from Barbed Wire Kiss (1988)
Tracks 11, 12, 13 and 14 from Automatic (1989)
Tracks 15, 16 and 17 from Honey's Dead (1992)
Tracks 18, 19 and 20 from Stoned & Dethroned (1994)
Tracks 21 and 22 from Munki (1998)
Tracks 23 and 24 from Damage And Joy (2017)

The Jesus And Mary Chain kind of peaked before I started paying attention to music, so I feel like they've always been a blind spot to me compared to a lot of their contemporaries or bands they influenced. My first memory of them is the late period hit "Sometimes Always" with Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star, and eventually I got a passing familiarity with their bigger singles like "Just Like Honey" and "Head On." Not a huge fan but I enjoy their very loud, blown out bubblegum sound, it's a good signature. And some of the later records sound completely different in interesting ways, they also reunited with Sandoval on the extremely weird 1998 album track "Perfume." 

"About You" and "Taste of Cindy" are on the band's top 10 on Spotify. Most of the big UK alternative bands of the '80s (The Smiths, New Order, The Cure, etc.) have a compilation of b-sides and non-album tracks that's one of their most popular records. The Jesus And Mary Chain's is Barbed Wire Kisses, which was their second-highest charting album in the UK and one of their three gold-selling albums over there, and it featured the would-be title track for Pyschocandy, which appeared on the Some Candy Talking EP. In fact, The Jesus And Mary Chain released a total of three b-sides comps, later collected together as a box set. Superchunk's four b-sides comps are the only instance I can recall of a band releasing even more of them than JAMC. I know Automatic isn't the band's most revered album, but I think the sound of that one appeals to me the most, and some of the deep cuts like "Between Planets" and "Half Way To Crazy" sound like they really could've been hits. 

TV Diary

Monday, February 19, 2024


"Mr. & Mrs. Smith" shares a title and, loosely, a premise with the 2005 film, but I appreciate how different it is -- even the basic facts of the story are flipped around a lot (it's two strangers paired up to pose as spouses on a spy agency assignment, rather than two spies who got married). A lot of people moronically whined that Donald Glover and Maya Erskine aren't as sexy and Brad and Angelina, but it's a really great series, worth just dropping your expectations and seeing where it takes you. Glover's performance in particular is possibly a career best for him, for me it sort of confirms that he was holding back and playing a nondescript everyman in "Atlanta" to let the other cast members and the writing/direction shine more, Erskine is fantastic too, every episode takes the concept in a dramatically different direction, building up to an amazing finale. 

For a long time, people have kind of given Vince Staples the backhanded compliment that he's a lot funnier and more personable in interviews than in his music, and have nudged him towards more film and TV work. For me personally, I have no complaints about Vince's music (he made my #1 album of 2022), but I was curious to see if him create in another medium. "The Vince Staples Show" is pretty good, but I have to admit I found it a little underwhelming -- it's kind of exactly what you'd probably expect it to be, with stock storylines where clueless white cops or bank employees ruin his day or embarrassing well-meaning liberals try to be friends with him. A few times those situations build to a big laugh here and there, but I like his music way more than this show, so I'm not bothered that this is only 5 episodes and billed as a "limited series." He'd probably refine and improve if he did a 2nd season, but I'm more interested in his next album. 

This British show on Netflix is the more conventional kind of scripted TV show about rap, about two brothers who are rival rappers, almost like a London-based "Empire." Not bad but nothing special.  

"The Woman In The Wall" originally aired last year on BBC One, but it's kind of nice to see Ruth Wilson star in a series on Showtime again, after she abruptly left "The Affair" before its last season and alleged some pretty shitty treatment by the show's producers. "The Woman In The Wall" is a pretty dark little story, but I'm intrigued by what I've watched so far. 

e) "Masters of the Air"
Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks have created something of a WWII cinematic universe with Saving Private Ryan, "Band of Brothers," "The Pacific," and now "Masters of the Air." Like its predecessors, "Masters" has great production values and an impressive cast (including Barry Keoghan and Austin Butler), but it's hard to say if it's on the same level yet, feel like I need to see how these characters' story arcs play out. 

f) "Criminal Record"  
Another well made Apple TV+ series that I haven't really felt too engaged with yet, although there were a couple of really harrowing scenes that will stick with me. 

"One Day" is based on the same novel as the 2011 Jim Sturgess/Anne Hathaway movie of the same name. I liked the movie, and I've enjoyed the series so far, but knowing how heartbreaking the ending it, I'm not sure if I'll watch it all the way through. 

h) "Life & Beth"
reviewed the first season of "Life & Beth" two years ago and enjoyed it, but it didn't necessarily feel like a show that would return for a second season. Nice show, but I wish the high school flashbacks weren't such a frequent recurring feature, I don't think it really adds that much to the storytelling. The second episode has a 10-second cameo by Jimmy Buffett that must have been filmed in the final months of his life, that's pretty fun to see. 

i) "True Detective: Night Country"
While it's true that the first season of "True Detective" was far better and far more popular than the next two seasons, I think Nic Pizzolatto deserves credit for making the thing and envisioning it as an anthology series. The fourth season with new showrunner Issa Lopez, "Night Country," is the first without any direct involvement from Pizzolatto, and it's also the first that features a number of references to a previous season. It was a decent season, but I rolled my eyes at the callbacks, particularly in last night's finale, when a character actually says a famous line from season one like it's a catchphrase. It felt like the "Fargo" series, where I'd respect it more if the creator presented its stories as its own original series instead of piggybacking on the IP of somebody they never met, makes the whole thing feel cheap. 

j) "Feud: Capote Vs The Swans"
7 years after the first season about Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, Ryan Murphy's anthology series about feuds among the rich and famous has finally returned for a second season. And I kind of can't tell if Murphy is intentionally or unintentionally interrogating his own fascination with this subject in "Capote Vs The Swans." The second episode, in which famous socialites ("the swans") discuss in detail how Truman Capote's writing about them feels so lurid as to be hateful and a kind of gay male misogyny, is this strange moment where I'm like, is Murphy talking about himself here? Is he putting Capote in an especially unflattering light so that we know Murphy isn't as bad as him? That said, it's a really interesting, high quality series. Most of the episodes are directed by Gus Van Sant, and it feels like some clever meta casting that all the swans are played by Hollywood it girls of the '80s, '90s and 2000s (Molly Ringwald, Demi Moore, Chloe Sevigny, Callista Flockhart, Diane Lane, Naomi Watts). Surprisingly, it's Flockhart who really stands out here and gives a charismatic, memorable performance, over a decade after her last substantial role. 

An Indonesian series on Netflix, kind of an epic intergenerational story jumping between different time periods, seems good but I haven't finished it yet. 

A Netflix series about an estranged father and daughter reconnecting in a surfing down in Mexico, pretty good show and Nerea Mazo is beautiful. 

m) "Hazbin Hotel"
This Amazon Prime animated series had a built-in cult following from the pilot episode that premiered on the creator's YouTube channel in 2019. "Hazbin Hotel" takes place in Hell and has a very wacky, garish aesthetic, and is full of curse words and original songs, I dunno if it's my kind of show but it's enjoyable, great voice cast including Keith David and Stephanie Beatriz. 

n) "Carol & The End of the World" 
Martha Kelly is an actress/comedian who's not really very famous, but if you've seen one of her memorable roles in shows like "Euphoria" or "Baskets," you'd probably recognize her face and voice in "Carol & The End of the World" immediate even though it's an animated show. "Carol" is about one woman's life as people prepare for a planet to hit Earth and probably kill everybody, it's a very dry existential comedy, not necessarily my thing but I'm sure some people would love it. 

o) "House of Ninjas"
A good new Netflix series, love seeing this wave of series like "Warrior" and "The Brothers Sun" that have crazy impressive marial arts movie-style fight choreography but have prestige TV-level writing and acting. 

p) "Kings From Queens: The Run DMC Story"
I love Run-DMC and I of course know their story well (I even interviewed DMC once!). But this 3-part Peacock docuseries is really fun and reveals some stories I've never heard before about particular records and eras of the group, and I felt like they did justice to telling Jam Master Jay's story without him here. That said, I braced myself for disappointment with how they'd deal with the elephant in the room of Russell Simmons, and of course he gets to just sit on a couch and talk about the good old days, and they never acknowledge his horrifying history of rape and assault. 

q) "Robbie Williams" 
In America, Robbie Williams is slightly famous for being super famous in the UK, so it's interesting to watch this Netflix docuseries about his wildly complicated superstar career without having really experienced it firsthand outside of hearing songs here and there. Seems like he had a pretty crazy ride for a while there and is pretty exhausted by it all now. 

r) "After Midnight with Taylor Tomlinson"
I've been a fan of Taylor Tomlinson's standup since the first time she appeared on "Conan" -- my wife and I thought about seeing her in Baltimore last year, but then we looked at the ticket prices and were like "oh, that's a lot...good for her, though." So I was excited when Stephen Colbert announced last year that Tomlinson had been selected to take over James Corden's post-"Late Show" timeslot on CBS, making her the only current woman host in late night. It was a little of a letdown, though, to learn that her show would be a reboot of "@midnight" (retitled since it now airs at 12:30), the game show with comedians hosted by Chris Hardwick on Comedy Central a decade ago. It was and is a mildly entertaining show, and Tomlinson is a good quick-witted host, but I hope this is just a stepping stone to her getting more opportunities outside standup, I think she's definitely capable of more. 

s) "LOL: Last One Laughing Ireland"
I was introduced to this show when Amazon Prime streamed the Australian version a few years ago, and I think I enjoyed the Irish version even more. It's a reality competition where a bunch of comedians spend a few hours in a house together, and whoever goes the longest without laughing wins. So it's fun to watch everybody work through the psychological challenge of trying to make other people laugh without themselves breaking. I generally adore women with Irish accents so I went into this show in love with Aisling Bea and now also have crushes on Catherine Bohart and Deirdre O'Kane. But it's really just fun to watch how everybody navigates the challenge and how even the people who aren't silly prop comics will kind of go to greater lengths to entertain each other in this environment. 

t) "House Of Villains"
The concept of taking a bunch of the most hated and controversial people from reality shows and putting them all in one show is kind of brilliant, and I like that the show doesn't take itself seriously at all, Joel McHale was a good choice to host. That being said, it's kind of sad to see McHale back on E! hosting the kind of dumbass reality show he used to mock clips of on "The Soup." I miss "The Soup." 

u) "Dinner Time Live with David Chang"
This is Netflix's first attempt at a live cooking show (although I invariably watch it a few days later), and it's pretty enjoyable. David Chang just hangs out with a couple celebrity guests, making conversation while he prepares their food. The episodes with comedians (John Mulaney and Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer and Iliza Schlesinger) are invariably more fun than the others, I particularly liked Mulaney and Kroll getting off on a tangent about one of my pet topics, how In-N-Out's fries kind of suck. 

v) "Chrissy & Dave Dine Out"
David Chang must be in really high demand right now, because he basically launched two similar shows for Netflix and Hulu in the same week. The Hulu one features Chang, Chrissy Teigen, and Joel Kim Booster (who I guess it not famous enough to be in the title of the show) having dinner with other celebrities, it's more tightly edited and formatted than "Dinner Time," which makes it feel less like a fun hang. 

w) "The Daily Show"
Every time people pined for Jon Stewart to host "The Daily Show" again, I'd swear it would never happen simply because he seemed totally burned out by over a decade of four shows a week, getting nothing on the air during a 4-year HBO development deal and then making Apple TV+'s short-lived "The Problem with Jon Stewart," which felt more like a behind-the-scenes podcast of a topical late night show than the actual show. So I was more surprised than anybody when it was announced that Comedy Central would bring Stewart back to host "The Daily Show" on Monday nights this year, I guess I underestimated how directionless the show is now and that they'd be willing to make "The Daily Show" a weekly gig for Stewart. And it kind of felt like he needed to put the suit and tie on and get back into the "TDS" format to deliver what people want, and he really did deliver, at least that first night. I feel like a sad nostalgic millennial for how much I enjoyed it, but if we can do that every week for the rest of 2024, I think it could genuinely be good for the world, he really has a gift for this stuff when he's at his best. 

x) "Till Murder Do Us Part: Soering Vs. Haysom"
A pretty grisly Netflix true crime docuseries about a Virginia couple who were murdered in 1985, possibly by their daughter or his boyfriend. I can't believe I never heard about this, I was a little kid at the time but I lived in Virginia in 1985. 

Another Netflix true crime series, although a less scandalous one, about the onetime world's wealthiest woman, basically in an intricate tax evasion scheme, found it kind of trivial and boring. 

Another doc about people who were in a cult, looking back at what fools they were. I feel like this is evergreen content that there will always been an audience for, but I'm weary of it. 

Monthly Report: February 2024 Singles

Friday, February 16, 2024


1. Chayce Beckham - "23"
"American Idol" has been a sad shell of its former self for a long time, but it still shocked me a little to realize that none of the last four winners have released albums. What's the point of "winning" a record contract if you're just stuck releasing singles and EPs and hoping for the best like every other struggling kid in the industry? Chayce Beckham won "Idol" almost three years ago, the first artist on the show to win with an original song. And that song, "23," has just recently finally become a country radio hit and is climbing up the Hot 100. And it's not a really obvious radio song, it's a kind of ominous song about the decision to stop drinking, he's got other good songs but I'm glad he went the distance with this one. Here's the 2024 singles Spotify playlist I update every month. 

2. Lainey Wilson - "Wildflowers and Wild Horses"
I loved seeing Lainey Wilson win her first Grammy last week, she's on such a great run right now, I don't know the last time a country album had 3 hits as good as Bell Bottom Country

3. Beyonce - "Texas Hold 'Em"
For 18 months, people were trying to figure out why Beyonce's Renaissance was 'Act I' and whether it'd be a trilogy of albums or if the other two acts would be something else entirely, This week, the answer finally came when Beyonce released two songs from Act II that more or less confirm that it's her long-rumored country album. People who don't usually listen to country and people who don't usually listen to Beyonce are already being really extra about it, but as someone who listens to both, I'm excited. The fact that Raphael Saadiq co-wrote both of these new songs is really a testament to his versatility as well as Beyonce's. 

4. GloRilla - "Yeah Glo!"
There are so many women thriving in hip-hop right now that I got really annoyed that people spent a lot of 2023 saying that Sexyy Red or whoever took GloRilla's "spot" just because her new songs weren't hitting like her 2022 singles. So I'm happy that Glo's getting her momentum back with this one, which very cleverly puts her own personalized spin on the classic Juicy J "yeah ho" ad lib. 

5. Megan Thee Stallion - "Hiss" 
I wouldn't put "Hiss," Megan's first solo #1, on the same level as her very best singles ("Big Ol' Freak," "Thot Shit," "Plan B"), but it's pretty fun for a song with no chorus and I love how it's put her on this new trajectory that's really promising, this could be the best year of her career. 

6. Cat Janice - "Dance You Outta My Head"
A few weeks ago, my wife came home and started telling me about a song that was going viral, and tried to play it on our Amazon Echo, but couldn't get it to play because it has curse words on it and I guess there's some explicit content setting on there that I didn't even mean to have. Then a few days ago, I heard this catchy song on the local top 40 station, googled the artist and read the heartbreaking story of Cat Janice, a 31-year-old singer with a 7-year-old son who's currently in hospice dying of cancer, while the last song she recorded before she lost her voice blows up on TikTok. It's such a fun, uptempo song, whether or not you know the story, I hope it gets huge while she's still living and generates a nice little chunk of money for her kid. 

7. Sum 41 - "Landmines"
Sum 41 announcing a whole farewell tour and final album, when I doubt many people knew they were still together or have heard a new song from them in 20 years, is kind of funny, a very "you thought you was Kobe" moment. That said, I'm happy they can have their little sunset moment and the lead single "Landmines" is really good, totally brings back a bit of what made them stars back in the day. 

8. Nicki Minaj f/ Lil Uzi Vert - "Everybody"
The whole thing with Nicki Minaj making a Megan Thee Stallion diss song bums me out, I wish she didn't have problems with so many artists. And it's just bad timing because she has a genuine hit out right now with the same producer, one of my favorite Baltimore artists Tate Kobang, who gave "Everybody" a little Baltimore club flavor (although I'm sure most people are calling it Jersey club). 

9. Benson Boone - "Beautiful Things"
Benson Boone is an earnest white pop singer who blew up on TikTok and has had a couple songs on the charts over the past few years who just blew up with his first top 10 song. And it's kind of a weirdly structured song to become a huge pop hit, with a quiet first half in 4/4 followed by a second half in waltz time that builds to a big bombastic climax (this is also pretty much the structure of Billie Eilish's "Happier Than Ever," which also surprised me with its popularity). 

10. Cody Johnson - "The Painter"
I like "Til You Can't" way more than other Cody Johnson songs because it builds to this big satisfying climax, but his more conventional ballads are good too, and "The Painter" has really grown on me lately. 

The Worst Single of the Month: Skilla Baby - "Bae"
Skilla Baby has two songs blowing up on rap radio right now. One of them, Rob49's "Mama," which I wrote about a couple months ago, features Skilla Baby saying "you know you the coldest, bae, you know you the coldest" on the hook. And on the other, "Bae," he says "you know you fine, bae, you know you fine" on the hook. I don't think both of these songs need to exist, and them both being hits just seems ridiculous.