Tag Archives: Madonna

Fave songs of 2015, the first quarter review

15 Years, Houndmouth – It isn’t hard to imagine a bar full of folks stomping their feet and singing along to this country-tinged rocker.

Baby Britain, Seth Avett and Jessica Leah Mayfield – Avett and Mayfield sound sublime together, and this boozy lament (“Dead soldiers lined up on the table”) is one of my favorite Elliott Smith songs. Match made in heaven.

The Blacker the Berry, Kendrick Lamar – Kendrick doesn’t shy from America’s racism and speaks truth to power.

Bunker Buster, Viet Cong – These guys make good noise. If you like this one, check out their 11+ minute opus, Death.

City Boy Blues, Action Bronson – The more I listen to Bronson’s latest album, Mr. Wonderful, the more I like it. This little burst of neo-blues in the midst of Bronson’s top-shelf hip-hop collection is just one example of why.

Cross the Way, Moon Duo – Fuzzy, trippy stoner rock, somewhere between Jesus and Mary Chain and The Raveonettes.

Hate Street Dialogue, Avener feat. Rodriguez – An infectious groove with dark lyrics resulting in a unique sound.

Hey Darling, Sleater-Kinney – Compact and complex, the signature traits of any great Sleater-Kinney track.

How Could You Babe, Tobias Jesso Jr. – A soulful, plaintive piano ballad that Billy Joel would be proud of.

Pedestrian at Best, Courtney Barnett – Not having seen Courtney Barnett live is an oversight I need to correct, ASAP.

Penny Licks, Lady Lamb – A nifty shot at the sexists out there. The power of both the song and the singer increase as Penny Licks develops.

Pistol (A. Cunanan, Miami, FL., 1996), Modest Mouse – Weird Modest Mouse tends to be great Modest Mouse. This is no exception.

Trustful Hands, The Do – These “sentimental animals” craft a groovy, electro-pop gem with a bridge that seems like it could have been lifted from Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule the World.

Uptown Funk feat. Bruno Mars and Feel Right feat. Mystikal, Mark Ronson – The power of Uptown Funk is simply undeniable. Feel Right feels like something that could have come off of a classic James Brown album.

Witness, Will Butler – Butler’s sense of humor mixed with the piano-driven power pop he’s peddling results in a pretty sweet tune. I’m not sure Butler should give up his day job with Arcade Fire yet, but his solo debut is worth checking out.

Honorable mention: All is Forgiven, Alekesam; Allie, Belle & Sebastian; Better Man, Leon Bridges; Bitch I’m Madonna, Madonna feat. Nicki Minaj; Don’t Wanna Fight, Alabama Shakes; For You, Genevieve; Go Out, Blur; Going Though Walls, The Do; Institutionalized, Kendrick Lamar feat. Bilal, Anna Wise and Snoop Dogg; Kelly, I’m Not a Creep, Young Guv; Mantra, Earl Sweatshirt; Melt Me, Hanni El Khatib; Miss Catalina 1992, Buxton; Natural Pearl, Murder By Death; Never Bury the Hatchet, Sons of Texas; No GMO, THEEsatisfaction; Only in America, Action Bronson feat. Party Supplies; Ray Gun, Ghostface Killah feat. DOOM; Rock & Roll is Cold, Matthew E. White; Son of God, Will Butler; These Things I’ve Come To Know, James McMurtry; This World Is Not My Home, Robert Earl Keen; Under a Rock, Waxahatchee

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Fave albums of 2015, the first quarter review

Little Neon Limelight, Houndmouth – It seems like one of the hardest things for a young band to do is to make a second album that A) goes somewhere new and sounds fresh while B) not abandoning your core sound that made fans love you in the first place. Houndmouth kicked the sophomore slump in the teeth with this one.

No Cities to Love, Sleater-Kinney – It’s so sweet to have the greatest all-female punk band of all time back in the house (with some apologies to L7). Please don’t go on hiatus again.

Shake, Shook, Shaken, The Do – Lyrically driven electronic pop. Postal Service fans, take note.

Strangers to Ourselves, Modest Mouse – The more I listen, the more I like it. Musically, it’s Modest Mouse’s most diverse album to date. Lyrically, MM still has a flair for the surreal and humorous.

To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar – I don’t know that I’ve said this about many albums, but To Pimp a Butterfly deserves all of the praise it has been given. And the critics like this album more than fat kids love cake, so that’s saying something.

Honorable mentions: Rebel Heart, Madonna; Mr. Wonderful, Action Bronson; Seth Avett & Jessica Leah Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith, Seth Avett and Jessica Leah Mayfield; Uptown Special, Mark Ronson; Viet Cong, Viet Cong;

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Raising music fans (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love Pink)

A year or so ago, my family was driving to one of my daughter’s volleyball matches. My daughter’s teammate, M, was riding with us. My kid’s playlist hit Madonna’s Lucky Star, and my daughter began singing along.

M: “Who is this?

My daughter: “Madonna.”

M: “Who?”

Who? WHO? I didn’t know M’s mom when we were kids, but I can say with absolute certainty that once upon a time she rocked lacy, finger-less gloves and a fedora, and probably even drew in the fake mole on her cheek. I’d be less than surprised if she didn’t still listen to Madonna, singing along in the car or when of Madge’s classics popped up in a commercial or movie trailer. But her kid, clueless.

When it came to turning my kids into music fans, I started early. I still remember the summer vacation when my daughter, 5, started singing along with Guided By Voices’ Teenage FBI and my son, 3, began chanting”Get down, get down” from Kool and the Gang’s Jungle Boogie when we told him we were going to have to “get down” to the bottom of the ravine before he could exit his stroller and hike with us. Those songs were sandwiched around tracks by Strawberry Shortcake and offerings from The Lion King, but my kids were responding to them just as they would their favorites. Effective brainwashing starts early!

I still maintain a kids’ playlist, mostly for long trips, that includes songs and artists I think my kids should know, such as Diana Ross, The Ramones, Madonna, The Flaming Lips and more. And just like when my kids (now 12 and 9) were little, I mix it up with their favorite tunes and artists, such as One Direction, Pink, Lorde and Bruno Mars.

The mix is intended to do three things: First, the kids aren’t going to pay attention if I just play the tunes I want them to hear for hours on end. And just because they should know pop music from many generations doesn’t mean I don’t want them to enjoy the pop music of their generation. Part of growing up a music fan is connecting with those of your own age over the tunes you love. I remember a friend from church when I was a kid who I was pretty sure was an alien. The first time we met, I was playing the Thriller cassette. He had no idea what Thriller was. He could talk about the Beatles and more of the 1960s poppier artists like an adult, but had no connection to his own era’s tunes. I don’t want my kids to be the weird kids who don’t know what’s up, and I want them to have a broader education than what pop radio would provide them. It’s about balance.

Second, my parents completely disrespected my music, not unlike Jack Black’s tirade against the middle age, would-be I Just Called to Say I Love You purchaser. They were extremely condescending, to the point where it really drove a wedge between us during critical periods of adolescence and made me trust them less. I don’t want that to be the case with my kids. Part of what makes it easier for me to bite my tongue while One Direction’s lowest common denominator crap is being spewed is that I know soon I’m going to be treated to I Can’t Go For That, Stop! In the Name of Love or It’s Tricky.

Third, pop radio is crap. It just is. It was when my parents were kids, it was when I was a kid (because for every Madonna there was a Samantha Fox, Debbie Gibson, etc.) and it is now. You wouldn’t feed your children McDonald’s chicken nuggets and fries for every meal because it would turn their mid-sections to goo, clog their arteries and slowly drain the life from them. Well, what fast food does to you physically, pop music does to you mentally. It’s product spewed to draw advertising dollars and often not very artful. I don’t want my kids tummies or minds to be mush. So I can pick and choose the best of decades of popular tunes to get superior crafted material into their brains while brushing aside the aural refuse.

Someday, maybe my kids will be the freak who cares too much, screaming in rage at some clueless dolt who is just trying to buy his child a birthday gift. I hope not, but I could live with that. It’s definitely better than raising two children who don’t know who Madonna is.

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Happily exiled in Guyville

Spin has a great oral history of Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville. Now, the idea of a straightforward sonic narrative led by a brilliant, talented, beautiful woman seems fairly commonplace. In 1993, that seemed about as likely to happen as Flava Flav becoming the next president of the United States.

At the time, I was in college during my peak dating years. The boys and I would sit around over cards, bitching and moaning about how you could never get a straight answer from a woman, how we never seemed to be able to find out what they wanted or expected, let alone being able to do anything to competently and sensitively fill that void, and then being chastised and punished for lacking the ability to read those inscrutable feminine minds.

And then came Exile in Guyville. This was a chick around our age who liked to drink, fuck and expected our typical young guy bullshit, but was very upfront about her expectations and desires and how she in no way intended to put up with that stupid boy crap. Liz was sexy and girly, yet one of the boys. We all had hard-ons for her, but we could all see ourselves just hanging out with her for hours, slamming shots of Southern Comfort while sipping Keystone and talking bands, sex and whatever random topics floated into the discussion. Nirvana, the Pixies, Butthole Surfers, Soundgarden, Beck and bunch of the heavy rocking sausage fest that was standard in the early 1990s had their CDs set aside so that Liz could be our card-playing soundtrack.

Musically, it was something all of us heavy rock-loving boys were completely unprepared for, but instantly drawn to. This wasn’t the overrated punk rock of, say, 7 Year Bitch, the soft, unrelatable sounds of female artists our parents had grown up with (Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Carol King, etc.) or pop bullshit (TLC, SWV, Mariah Carey or Madonna, who’d pretty much jumped the shark at the point for anyone other than hardcore fans or her gay base). This album rocked in a way us XY’s could relate to, but in a way unique to the XX who created it.

And now, as an old guy, I look forward to the next couple of years, as my daughter approaches the age when she will be ready to listen to Exile in Guyville. My daughter’s already strong, smart, beautiful and refuses to put up with the boys’ stupid shenanigans. I just want her to listen to Liz and know she isn’t alone.

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