Thursday, August 27, 2009

Whathaveyou



  • My recent mini-obsession with The Avett Brothers has influenced me to finally acquire Country Was and A Carolina Jubilee, the Avett's first two full-lengths. Unsurprisingly satisfying, although I was caught off-guard by the studio version of "November Blue." Also, the main riff from "Pretty Girl From Raleigh" kinda sounds like "Wait Up" by Uncle Tupelo. I and Love and You is out in just a shade over a month. Color me anticipatory...
  • Finally bought Beck's Guero proper, and it's edging past Mutations as my favorite Beck disc. "Scarecrow" has been my hummed tune of choice this week.
  • Pitchfork's Top 500 songs of the aughts were rolled out last week, and Outkast's Bombs Over Baghdad took the top spot. The list was heavily based on strength of single, which was evident in the top 50 wherein most of the big rap, pop, and R&B hits charted. Looking very much forward to the top records list.
  • Virgin America is going to feature Chris Cornell music on all flights. Fingers crossed that Sam Jackson will find himself on a flight, and be prompted to blurt "Enough is enough, I've had it with all this motherfucking Chris Cornell off this motherfucking plane!"
  • It Might Get Loud, the docu featuring Jimmy Page, Jack White, and The Edge was recently released. It apparently chronicles the history of the electric guitar, focusing largely on the three aforementioned slingers. Wonder if The Edge strummed a barred E chord rapidly for the duration of the film.
  • In Bob Dylan news of the weird, the elder statesman is lending his voice to a GPS company. Unfortunately it's his growly old man voice...would have loved to hear Blonde on Blonde era Dylan deliver "Recalibraaaating!" in a nasally wail. He was also recently corralled by a New Jersey cop who found Dylan wandering in someones front yard. The cop, who apparently isn't familiar with the concept of aging, offered this excuse for not recognizing Dylan: "I've seen pictures of Bob Dylan from a long time ago, and he didn't look like Bob Dylan to me at all."
  • Les Paul died on August 13, which you probably knew. My first nice guitar was a Gibson Les Paul blacktop with beige binding. I haven't played it in ages because it needs a great deal of work, but Les' passing reminds me what an incredible piece of equipment it is. RIP.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

End of the Oughts: Who will P4K Deem the Greatest???

I can't be the only one whose interest has been piqued by Pitchfork's announcement of their upcoming list-a-thon, cataloging a decades worth of music and bestowing upon one fine record the exalted honor of "Best of the Decade". Same goes for song and video.

So the $64,000 question is, "What album will it be?" I discussed this at length with a colleague a few days ago, and we arrived at a few possibilities. Some of my favorites I wouldn't mind seeing nab the #1 spot:

Something by Radiohead:

I think the odds here are about as good as Tiger Woods winning a golf tournament. Tiger wins less than half the tournaments he plays in, but so many would take him against the field anyway. Same thing when it comes to Radiohead and Pitchfork lists. So far they've won best album of the 90s (OK Computer) and best album of 2000-2004 (Kid A). 9.0 is the lowest rating pitchfork has ever given a proper release (Amnesiac), and even that boasts a contender for top song ("Pyramid Song", which the Chicago snobs have consistently touted as Radiohead's ultimate effort.) My money might be on In Rainbows, not only for the quality of music, but also the unorthodox, controversial, and immediately influential method of release.

Boys and Girls in America, The Hold Steady:

Another perrennial Fork favorite, the Hold Steady's flagship album netted them a 9.4 rating (higher than any 2000s Radiohead album except tenner Kid A) and is on its surface very topical but basically about hipsters partying. Not to take away from it; I think it's a beautiful record, and a nice reflection of their demographic. But the album wasn't named best of the year, so can we really expect it to land atop the decade list? Look for "Stuck Between the Stations" to chart impressively on the songs list.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco:

Why not? It's a 10.0 record, although Pitchfork has sort of retroactively disowned Wilco to some degree. Since uncharacteristically missing the point of A Ghost Is Born, the site has exiled the band to Dad-rock purgatory (not that Wilco hasn't abetted this process), patting its head patronizingly in subsequent reviews. But hopefully the album's classic status will win the day, and YHF will at least be on the front end of the list.

Ghosts of the Great Highway, Sun Kil Moon:

In the words of Dana Carvey as George Bush, "Nagunnadoit." While an unimpeachable masterpiece in my mind, it was only awarded an 8.3 by the Forkers, and thus probably won't even land it in the top 200. This is a damned shame in my opinion. Unfortunately Koz won't garner much if any representation on these lists. A real tragedy, considering how sure I am of the fact that he easily made some of the best music this decade had to offer.

***

Barely scratching the surface, I know, but just some food for thought. I'm also conscious of the fact that Pitchfork covers a lot more than just the Americana/Alt-Rock for which I have a bias. The song list starts next week and the album list rolls out next month. Keep an eye out -- reactions sure to follow. And please feel free to submit your opinions.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Reader Participation:

Just read an interesting and indeed thought-provoking article on The AV Club, positing the question: What celebrity do you think would make a good best friend? The staffers all give their answers and then a trillion comments ensue. Some were interesting--one staffer answered John Mayer, because he thinks Mayer is funny and his music sucks, so he wouldn't be prone to fanboyism. Good logic, I suppose.

Anyhoo, I thought it'd be interesting to lift the shit out of the concept and transpose it to the music world. What musician do you think would be a fun guy to just hang out and shoot the shit with?

I approached this initially by surefire eliminations, and oddly enough, most of my favorites were immediately discounted. For example, hanging with Thom Yorke would be fiercely awkward, because he'd be weird. Mark Kozelek would probably just read or gaze out the window or something. Ryan Adams and JeffTweedy would probably be a bit standoffish. And while hanging around with Tom Waits would definitely be very entertaining (I could give him a topic, any topic, and be enrapt listenening to him ramble about it for hours) but I don't see us really hitting it off on a friend level.

So who, then? My first thought is Seth Avett. Dude always seems pretty amicable, and very grateful for the attention his fans give him and the band. I think we could strum guitars, crack jokes, sip beers, and watch the sun go down. Patterson Hood can be there too. Colin Greenwood, I'd imagine, would provide some pretty interesting conversation, and seems very kindly in all the interviews I've read. He'd probably ask you a lot of questions and be very reassuring in his responses.

Who do you think?