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Music Critic/ Criticism Catch-All

"Dig it, fuck a [Rap] critic/ He talk about it while I live it" - Method Man

In my hour of darkness, in my time of need

Oh Lord, grant me vision oh, Lord grant me speed

Melvins' Buzz Osborne: 10 Albums That Made Me

From David Bowie to Redd Kross, sludge-grunge stalwart shares stories behind records that shaped his life

ZZ Top – Tres Hombres (1973)

"The thing that's great about ZZ Top is that everything they do has a funky element to it. And it's riff-oriented in a way that no one's ever come close to — and they have a groove. Every single song has a fucking groove. And it's, like, a good-time groove. Whereas if you listen to something like Peter Green [with Fleetwood Mac], it's along the same lines except it's a bad-time groove, you know? ZZ Top comes from the same school but it's the exact opposite vibe. And Tres Hombres, that's the height.

To me that is the best record they ever did and the reason why ZZ Top is one of the greatest bands ever. There is not a bad song on the record. You can go from top to bottom, every single song belongs there. And Billy Gibbons is arguably at the height of his abilities. His guitar playing is second to none. If you don't like this record then you just don't like rock music."

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country (1969)

"You never hear anyone talk about John Fogerty's guitar playing. What they fail to realize is John played lead guitar on all these records. If you listen to the cover of "Good Golly, Miss Molly" on this record? It sounds like fucking Johnny Winter's playing, you know? It is ripping guitar. And "Born on the Bayou," that has to have one of the coolest rock vocals ever. Ever. John Fogerty has one of the best rock singing voices I've ever heard. I can't help but believe everything he says. To me, Creedence Clearwater at their height is what Bruce Springsteen wishes he could do, you know? That's what he's trying to do and he's not even close. John Fogerty is a genius. A genius in his simplicity.

If you listen to someone like Kurt Cobain, he wasn't a good guitar player, but he could put two simple chords together in a way that people liked. Why? I don't know. I have no idea. But it worked. John Fogerty is the same thing times 10. And Bayou Country is one of the greatest rock records ever made. Even a song like "Keep on Chooglin' " — it's a fucking weird-ass song, you know? But it's so fucking good."

Neil Young – Zuma (1975)

"If I remember correctly, I made this list with the idea that these are records that I've listened to on a nearly weekly basis for 30 years. This one is in constant rotation, pretty much. I think the production is especially good on it. I think the guitar soloing is really amazing. "Cortez the Killer," "Danger Bird," there's not a bad song on it. And none of the guys on it were virtuosos. But if you get up there with the kind of attitude that is in this record, none of that matters. None of that ability has anything to do with making music.

The first time I heard this was probably in the early Eighties. I was struck by the honesty in it. And I loved the fact that it sounded like the whole thing was recorded in one day — by a band, you know? It felt like, "Here's a bunch of songs that we wrote." I thought that was kinda cool. It just sounds like a really good band playing together. And on a purely guitar-playing level I loved it because the guitar solos weren't, like, speed-weenie-sounding guitar solos. They were nice and slow. And I liked slow guitar players, like Billy Gibbons and Eric Clapton, who weren't setting land-speed records with their fingers. They were taking over with their guitars from what the vocals were doing. It was guitar singing. That kind of lead playing speaks to me a lot more than Slayer's lead playing … even though I love Slayer"

Tom Waits – Blue Valentine (1978)

"I first heard this in the mid-Eighties and I literally have listened to it every single week, at least once a week, for 35 years. I believe it was recorded live to two-track, meaning there was no mixing or nothing. They recorded it live, it was done. There's one song on this album called "Kentucky Avenue" that I can't play in front of my wife because she just breaks out bawling. I kind of use that song as a barometer for people: "Listen to this song and tell me what you think." I'll play it for them, and if they have no reaction to it my standards for them lower. Because they're not listening to what the song's about. They're not listening to what's really going on there.

With Tom Waits, the thing I liked about him first off was his voice. I thought it was really cool. And I felt his lyric writing, especially on this record, was second to none. I thought his ability to put together a song with almost a big-band arrangement, with similar instruments or weirder instruments, was very impressive. And his subject matter was very cool — it sounded like Flannery O'Connor crossed with, I don't know what, Tennessee Williams. It was like, "OK, here's a guy who's not a virtuoso, but he's a genius." You can't teach this sort of thing.

Tom Waits does not have one single thing a musical teacher would ever teach you. Nothing. Not singing, not piano playing, not guitar playing, nothing. You might score points in a poetry class with his lyrics, but other than that, nothing. Yet there it is. He digs it out of the dirt. That's why it's so cool. I believe him. I like performers that I believe. Bob Dylan said something I've never forgotten. Which was that he liked performers who made you think they knew something you didn't. That's what I want. That's what I wanna do. I wanna go onstage and prove to people I know something they don't. That's why they're there. That's why they're interested."
In my hour of darkness, in my time of need

Oh Lord, grant me vision oh, Lord grant me speed

From Rock's Backpages

Lou Reed v Lester Bangs: a classic interview from the vaults

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Rock's Backpages – the world's leading collection of vintage music journalism – we bring you a classic interview-cum-confrontation between the late Lester Bangs and his hero Lou Reed. Originally titled Lou Reed: A Deaf Mute in a Telephone Booth, the piece first appeared in Let It Rock in November 1973
In my hour of darkness, in my time of need

Oh Lord, grant me vision oh, Lord grant me speed

Playboy Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono:
Published in January 1981 issue
Interviewed by David Sheff, September 1980
Article ©1981 Playboy Press

PLAYBOY: "Alright, but get back to the music itself. You don't agree that the Beatles created the best rock 'n roll that's been produced?"

LENNON: "I don't. The Beatles, you see... I'm too involved in them artistically. I cannot see them objectively. I cannot listen to them objectively. I'm dissatisfied with every record the Beatles ever fucking made. There ain't one of them I wouldn't remake... including all the Beatles records and all my individual ones. So I cannot possibly give you an assessment of what the Beatles are. When I was a Beatle, I thought we were the best fucking group in the god-damned world. And believing that is what made us what we were... whether we call it the best rock 'n roll group or the best pop group or whatever. But you play me those tracks today and I want to remake every damn one of them. There's not a single one... I heard 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' on the radio last night. It's abysmal, you know. The track is just terrible. I mean, it's great, but it wasn't made right, know what I mean? But that's the artistic trip, isn't it? That's why you keep going. But to get back to your original question about the Beatles and their music, the answer is that we did some good stuff and we did some bad stuff."

PLAYBOY: "Many people feel that none of the songs Paul has done alone match the songs he did as a Beatle. Do you honestly feel that any of your songs on the Plastic Ono Band records will have the lasting imprint of 'Eleanor Rigby' or 'Strawberry Fields'?"

LENNON: "'Imagine,' 'Love' and those Plastic Ono Band songs stand up to any song that was written when I was a Beatle. Now, it may take you 20 or 30 years to appreciate that, but the fact is, if you check those songs out, you will see that it is as good as any fucking stuff that was ever done."

PLAYBOY: "It seems as if you're trying to say to the world, 'We were just a good band making some good music,' while a lot of the rest of the world is saying, 'It wasn't just some good music, it was the best.'"

LENNON: "Well, if it was the best, so what?"

PLAYBOY: "So..."

LENNON: "It can never be again! Everyone always talks about a good thing coming to an end, as if life was over. But I'll be 40 when this interview comes out. Paul is 38. Elton John, Bob Dylan... we're all relatively young people. The game isn't over yet. Everyone talks in terms of the last record or the last Beatle concert... but, God willing, there are another 40 years of productivity to go. I'm not judging whether 'I am the Walrus' is better or worse than 'Imagine.' It is for others to judge. I am doing it. I do. I don't stand back and judge... I do."
In my hour of darkness, in my time of need

Oh Lord, grant me vision oh, Lord grant me speed

Unpopular Opinion: Night Moves Is Better Than Born to Run

Nicholas Pell | June 8, 2016 | 6:12am

"I was actually kind of surprised at how angry people were about my "Bat Out of Hell Is Better than Born to Run" article. I didn’t even say I didn’t like Born to Run, just that I liked Bat Out of Hell better. A friend of mine asked if my Hot Water Music knuckle tattoos burst into flames when I wrote that one. They didn’t. Well, hang onto your hats, kids, because I’m about to talk about another record I like more than Born to Run.

Night Moves, man. I think the only record that sees more time on my turntable is Hysteria. Night Moves is one of those records that I pick up whenever I don’t know what else to put on. There’s no time of the day or night when Night Moves isn’t the right sound. I wouldn’t put it alongside Appetite for Destruction, ...And Out Come the Wolves and Boston on my list of totally perfect records, but it comes damn close.

It might also be the last great rock & roll record. Yeah, I know I said that about Appetite for Destruction , but I’m talking about two different things here. When I say that Night Moves was the last great rock & roll record, I mean the kind of rock & roll that Chuck Berry and Johnny Burnette played. To a certain extent, it’s the same kind of rock & roll Bruce was playing, too. It’s the kind of rock & roll built around three chords, the blues scale and the occasional sax solo. "

Unpopular Opinion: Bat Out of Hell Is Better Than Born to Run

Nicholas Pell | April 11, 2016 | 4:45am

"When producer Todd Rundgren first heard Bat Out of Hell, he thought it was a parody of Bruce Springsteen. In fact, many years later, he remarked, “I can’t believe the world took it seriously.”

Indeed, the world did take Bat Out of Hell seriously, in all its faux-Wagnerian glory. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, the “teenage symphony to God” that Brian Wilson had searched for all those years.

With respect to The Boss, I think Bat Out of Hell is probably better than anything he ever did, save maybe that sprawling “get ready to kill the bulk of an afternoon” live box set he put out. This isn’t to take anything away from Jersey’s favorite son — or, for that matter, to give any undue credit to Meat Loaf. Herr Loaf is the archetype of the artist who strikes gold once but can’t ever find his way back. (See also: Bret Easton Ellis.) But for one perfect and shining moment, he and Jim Steinman put out the soundtrack to working-class rock & roll rebellion for a generation. "
In my hour of darkness, in my time of need

Oh Lord, grant me vision oh, Lord grant me speed

Unpopular Opinion: Hall and Oates Are the Ultimate Test of Whether You Have Any Taste

Nicholas Pell | April 26, 2016 | 8:51am

"They’re the litmus test. Does the person you’re talking to actually know anything about music? Or do they just ape whatever Pitchfork is telling them to think this week?

The reason Hall and Oates make for such a compelling litmus test is that you have to be either an idiot or a genius to appreciate them. The tunes are catchy, hearkening back to the best of what made Motown’s poppiest pop great. It’s that simple and that complicated. You can groove on the sugary sweet simplicity of the melody or you can dive down deep into the nuances of the rhythm section and the harmonies. The choice is yours.

But what you can’t do is not like Hall and Oates. And sorry, some ironic karaoke appreciation of them isn’t going to cut the mustard, nor is labeling them a “guilty pleasure.” Though, if you’re not doing “Kiss on My List” at karaoke, you’re kind of fucking up.

If you need to start somewhere, I suggest Private Eyes, though, honestly, you can’t even go wrong with any of their singles collections. They’ve got great deep tracks like “Mano a Mano,” “Portable Radio” and my personal favorite, “Head Above Water.” But they really knock it out of the park on the tracks they were best known for. “Private Eyes” and “Out of Touch” might just be two of the best songs to ever grace the radio, and it's no wonder “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” landed on the top of the R&B charts for a week. Not a lot of white folks have done that in the last 60 years. "
In my hour of darkness, in my time of need

Oh Lord, grant me vision oh, Lord grant me speed

Little Richard: Preacher. Showman. Maestro.

Posted on December 5, 2017 by Sheila

"Little Richard. Live performance of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On”, 1963.

In the performance above, Little Richard moves from preacher to sexually-explosive showman to maestro, sometimes blending them all together, no difference between Personae. The performance is almost 6 minutes long. He conducts the audience, like a Pentecostal preacher does on any given Sunday, bringing emotions, down, then up into a fevered pitch, or like a conductor of a gigantic orchestra, commanding the strings to retreat, the percussion to come forward, the horns to subside, the unison/melody to explode as one. Little Richard starts out like he’s in church, speaking to the congregation, telling him what he wants from them, telling them what he EXPECTS from them. This will not be a passive experience. He demands something from them, just like they demand something from him.

The audience response throughout is both organic and created: Little Richard is in control of it. The audience response is damn near involuntary – and that is because he is never less than totally in charge.

The middle instrumental section is riveting: Slowly, with no fuss or fanfare (it’s not James Brown throwing off his cape: it’s as though Little Richard is in his bedroom by himself), Little Richard takes off his jacket, folds it, puts it down, straightens his tie, and then re-tucks his shirt into his pants, as all hell continues to break loose around him. Taking off his jacket is not a “bit.” It looks practical: a professional performer who gets rid of the jacket because it is constricting and he’s hot (and so wet with sweat by the end of the performance he looks like he’s swum the Hellespont). But the tucking-in-shirt, straightening-the-tie caesura is also because he has to take a moment to “get himself together” before he moves into the second half of the song … which he knows will be a workout. He knows where he’s about to go.

Near the end of that sequence, he climbs up on top of the piano: he needs perspective so he can conduct from a better vantage point, so that everyone can see him.

Later, he drops to his knees and the mood changes, the bottom drops out: he’s got something personal to say, he needs them to listen. He’s a preacher again, pleading with his audience, bringing them down: quiet down now, quiet down, listen to what I’m telling you. After getting them in unison with that quiet, he jumps to his feet again, and the performance explodes. You wouldn’t think there was a higher level the performance could reach, but Oh Us of Little Faith.

Little Richard’s job – calling, more like it – is to perform, to bring that song to its full potential, the potential that already lives in him: he does not rely on lights or choreography or fancy sets or camera work. Part of his job is controlling audience-engagement:
1. Give them a GREAT time.
2. Make sure they follow him through the peaks and valleys: everyone must be in sync – emotionally – at all times.

HE wants to get something out of the song, too: it’s the only way he can do it. He is searching for a catharsis, too. The apotheosis of his expression. His personal experience of performing that song would be meaningless without the two-way current running between him and the crowd. NO ONE IS HELPING HIM in the performance except his partner – the audience.

I am only pointing this out ad nauseum because most performers need help. They need choregraphy/costumes/lights to help them (and, perhaps, also hide them, pump up a sense of engagement when there isn’t much there). But here, whatever goes on in that room, it is only Little Richard who is responsible for it. He is in charge of every mood-shift, every explosion, every switch-back, every intimate almost whispery “Okay, so let’s go over this one more time” …

Follow the Leader. And they follow him into mass-psychosis"

"The stories of Little Richard on tour with Sam Cooke (as told in Peter Guralnick’s biography of Cooke) are so funny and so absurd you almost distrust the accounts. But there are multiple sources, everyone who was on that tour with them, saw it. At the time of that tour, Little Richard had become convinced that rock ‘n’ roll was the devil’s music. He devoted himself to Jesus (actually, devotion is too mild a word), but he was still touring with packaged “rock” shows when this born-again-twice experience happened. He now felt that everyone around him – including the audiences – was evil and/or lost souls who needed to be saved, but his tour-contract hadn’t run up yet. He drove everyone on that tour insane. The promoters and managers were not thrilled that Little Richard was turning rock ‘n’ roll shows into revival meetings. There are stories of Little Richard reading the Bible backstage in a booming voice while wearing a cape.

That tour was the in-between time where Little Richard was still billed as a rock ‘n’ roll star, even though he was performing gospel songs (annoying audience members who wanted him to sing his hits). After the tour ended, he poured himself 100% into gospel music, putting out a couple of great gospel albums (some of his best stuff, I think).

But finally Little Richard switched back again. He succumbed to the inevitable draw. The draw his audiences felt too. In other words, he accepted Satan back into his life. He roared back into the secular scene.

As with all those country boys – white and black – who changed American culture, Little Richard was never far from his Jesus-loving roots. Elvis, Ike Turner, Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown, Howlin’ Wolf … their sexual/emotional ferocity was another kind of expression of what went on in the little country churches – Baptist, Pentecostal, Assembly of God – on dusty corners through the American South. This was heresy to say at the time, and probably still heretical in some circles now. We are still split: the divine and the secular, the holy and the profane … kept in separate rooms. But these guys … they kicked down the walls between separate rooms, creating one big room.

Being saved is for the NEXT life, not this one."

"There was precedent for this in Little Richard’s life. His father was a deacon in their Baptist church by day, and a nightclub-owner and bootlegger by night. The scales of Good and Evil were balanced (uneasily) in him, as they would be in his son. Jesus and Moonshine and Rhythm & Blues walking hand in hand. It was not hypocritical at all (and this was something Northeast secular-minded critics couldn’t get a handle on at ALL because it wasn’t their world. If you’re raised, oh, Episcopalian, or Unitarian, if you grew up in the suburbs in Connecticut… how are you going to understand these Delta boys? With their Jesus and their pink suits and their unashamed sexuality?).

And that’s what you can see here in this 1963 performance. Little Richard sings about shaking bodies and orgasmic expression but what he’s also doing is taking all of those people to CHURCH. "
In my hour of darkness, in my time of need

Oh Lord, grant me vision oh, Lord grant me speed

April 4, 2018

Fifty-Six Questions for Young MC Upon Hearing “Bust a Move” for the First Time in Twenty-Two Years

In my hour of darkness, in my time of need

Oh Lord, grant me vision oh, Lord grant me speed

[Image: DbTqJ-HV0AEUDar.jpg:large]
This is peak Lester Bangs:

Of Pop & Pies & Fun : A Program Of Mass Liberation In The Form Of A Stooges Review, Or, Who's The Fool?

"Like most authentic originals, the Stooges have endured more than their share of abuse, derision, critical condescension and even outright hostility. Their stage act is good copy but easy grist for instant wag putdowns. At first glance their music appears to be so simple that it seems like anyone with rudimentary training should be able to play it (that so few can produce any reasonable facsimile, whatever their abilities, is overlooked). While critics have a ball crediting John Cale with the success of their first album (as I did) and relegating them to the status of a more than slightly humorous teenage phenomenon, theme music for suburban high school kids freaked out on reds and puberty and fantasies of nihilistic apocalypses, the majority of the listening public seems to view them with almost equal scorn as just one more blaring group whose gimmick (Iggy) still leaves them leagues behind such get-it-on frontrunners in the Heavy sets as Grand Funk, whose songs at least make sense, whose act shows real showmanship (i.e., inducing vast hordes of ecstatically wasted freaks to charge the stage waving those thousands of hands in the air in a display of marginally political unity ‘nuff to warm the heart of any Movement stumper), and who never make fools of themselves the way that Stooge punk does, what with his clawing at himself, smashing the mike in this chops, jumping into the crowd to wallow around a forest of legs and ankles and godknows what else while screaming those sickening songs about TV eyes and feeling like dirt and not having no fun ‘cause you’re a fucked up adolescent, horny but neurotic, sitting around bored and lonesome and unable to communicate with yourself or anybody else. Shit. Who needs songs like that, that give off such bad vibes? We got a groovy, beautifully insular hip community, maybe a nation, budding here, and our art is a celebration of ourselves as liberated individuals and masses of such—the People, dig? And antisocial art simply don’t fit in, brothers and sisters. Who wants to be depressed, anyway?

Well, a lot of changes have gone down since Hip first hit the heartland. There’s a new culture shaping up, and while it’s certainly an improvement on the repressive society now nervously aging, there is a strong element of sickness in our new, amorphous institutions. The cure bears viruses of its own. The Stooges also carry a strong element of sickness in their music, a crazed quaking uncertainty and errant foolishness that effectively mirrors the absurdity and desperation of the times, but I believe that they also carry a strong element of cure, of post-derangement sanity. And I also believe that their music is as important as the product of any rock group working today, although you better never call it art or you may wind up with a deluxe pie in the face. What it is, instead, is what rock and roll at heart is and always has been, beneath the stylistic distortions the last few years have wrought. The Stooges are not for the ages—nothing created now is—but they are most implicitly for today and tomorrow and the traditions of two decades of beautifully bopping, manic, simplistic jive.

To approach Fun House (Elektra EKS-74071) we’ve got to go back to the beginning, to all the blather and arbitration left in the wake of notoriety and a first album. Because there is a lot of bad air around, and we’ve got to clear away the mundane murk of ignorance and incomprehension if we’re going to let the true, immaculate murk of the Stooges shine forth in all its chaotic prisms like those funhouse mirrors which distract so pointedly. I don’t want to have to be an apologist for the Stooges. I would like it if we lived in sanity, where every clear eye could just look and each whole mind appreciate the Stooges on their own obvious merits (even though, granted, in such an environment the Stooges would no longer be necessary—as William Burroughs counseled in one of his lucider epigrams, they really do work to make themselves obsolete). However, since conditions are in the present nigh irremediable mess, with innocent listeners led and hyped and duped and doped, taught to grovel before drug-addled effeminate Limeys who once collected blues 78s and a few guitar lessons and think that that makes them torch-bearers; a hapless public, finally, of tender boys and girls pavlov’d into salivating greenbacks and stoking reds at the mere utterance of certain magic incantations like "supergroup" and "superstar," well, is it any wonder your poor average kid, cruisin’ addled down the street in vague pursuit of snatch or reds or rock mag newsstands, ain’t got no truck with the Stooges?

So, to facilitate the mass psychic liberation necessary, it’s imperative that we start with the eye of the hurricane, the center of all the confusion, contention and plain badmouthing, Iggy Stooge himself. Now, I’ve never met Iggy but from what I’ve gathered listening to his records and digging the stage act and all, he’s basically a nice sensitive Amerikan boy growing up amid a thicket of some of the worst personal, interpersonal and national confusion we’ve seen. I mean, nowhere else but in Amerika would you find a phenomenon like Iggy Stooge, right? I was at one time going to write a letter to Malcolm Muggeridge over in England telling him all about Iggy and the Stooges, but I didn’t because I finally decided that he’d just mark it up as one more symptom of the decline of Western Civilization. Which it’s not. Not finally, that is—it may be now, in some of its grosser, semi-pathological trappings, but then look what it came out of. There’s always hope for a brighter tomorrow because today’s mess spawned stalwart crusaders for something better like Iggy. And presumably, the rest of the Stooges."
In my hour of darkness, in my time of need

Oh Lord, grant me vision oh, Lord grant me speed


"The D.O.C. sat down for a rare interview with VladTV, where he opened up about first linking up with Dr. Dre, writing Eazy-E's hit track "We Want Eazy," and more.

During the sit-down The D.O.C. also addressed rumors that he sold his publishing for a gold chain, which he told us is untrue. He added that "I don't even think being ignorant to the game I would've said that."

The interview touched on The D.O.C.'s relationship with Eazy-E, and the Texas-born artist said he tried to follow Eazy's swag when he first started out in the game. He explained that despite Eazy not having talent as a rapper, The D.O.C. said the West Coast emcee had the "it factor" that made him a star.

Check out more of the interview above, including how The D.O.C. felt about not being in the "We Want Eazy" credits and more."

Hip Hop heads, check out all of this fascinating/comprehensive 11 part interview

If you don't know, here's the discussed track in pt. 1:
In my hour of darkness, in my time of need

Oh Lord, grant me vision oh, Lord grant me speed

Recently discovered:

Carpenter Brut

Synthwave = "Genre of electronic music (tick), influenced by 1980s film soundtracks (tick) and video games (tick)."

Though apparently, what I like is supposedly more accurately described as the Outrun and Darksynth subsets more than anything else. Still working out the intricacies, it seems kind of complicated.
The genre fracturisation of modern synth music is starting to rival that of niche metal subcultures. For the kind of thing you're talking about, I recommend the Hotline Miami soundtrack (featuring Perturbator)

I also recommend trawling youtube for synthwave/vaporwave etc mixes, there are stacks of them and through them I've come across gems like these:
I'm a big fan of synthwave/vaporwave - something about the genre really appeals to me, and also dovetails with my interests in hauntology. I have a spotify playlist of a lot of soundtracks, albums, etc that I dig here:

You might also like the Belbury Circle and Pye Corner Audio:
home taping is killing music
How a Racist Smear Campaign Destroyed Lauryn Hill’s Career

"With its highly-personal odes to heartache, spirituality, motherhood and social awareness, Miseducation was an oasis of sincerity during the still-reigning Shiny Suit domination of Sean “Puffy” Combs and uber-slick stylings of urban radio. And as pop music was beginning to make a major comeback on the heels of Spice Girls’ omnipresence, Lauryn Hill’s sound and persona offered something more relatable to those unimpressed by their particular brand of bubblegum Girl Power.

Lauryn wasn’t exactly a singular figure—her rise coincided with a boom for women in music, with Alanis Morissette, Missy Elliott, Erykah Badu and Fiona Apple all household names in 1996 and 1997, and established stars like Madonna and Janet Jackson still at the peak of their commercial powers and pushing to new creative heights with Ray of Light and The Velvet Rope, respectively. But Miseducation spoke to an audience that was raised on hip-hop but may have felt emotionally detached from it. The brashness and wit of an MC Lyte or Queen Latifah may have garnered respect, but with Lauryn there was a vulnerability that resonated with the masses. Her undeniable beauty, that image that seemed born of realness, and an album that seemed to speak to the pain and perspective of so many young women—it all connected to make Lauryn Hill a phenomenon in 1998. "

"As such, Lauryn Hill doesn’t quite hold the place of reverence for a generation that has a new wave of icons to fawn over and dissect. It’s not exclusive to her: the ‘90s are getting further in the rearview and a younger generation is scrutinizing those artists in a way that those who grew up with that music may not have been equipped to. To some, Miseducation is a relic of respectability and the quasi-earnest 1990s; she admonishes “hair weave” and “fake nails,” and throughout the album often relishes in the kind of sanctimony that one can only seem to muster in their early 20s. But that’s a part of why Miseducation is still potent art—even as its themes may be passé.

"Of course, the dismissals usually begin with the fact that Hill has only recorded one studio album. But a scant discography can’t be reason enough to dismiss her cultural importance; it doesn’t seem all that different from the long gaps in the catalog of a Patti Smith, for instance. Smith may never have made another album as epochal as Horses, Carole King may not have another watershed moment like Tapestry, and there may never be as definitive an album as Miseducation from Lauryn Hill, but that in no way diminishes the impact of any of those records. And in the case of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, it’s forever a document of a young woman coming to grips with her personal turmoil while commenting on the tumultuous world around her. For those coming of age in the ‘90s, it sounded like the life so many were living at the tail end of the 20th century. And for Hill, it’s an evocative document of who she was as a younger woman—as she indicated in the press release for the 20th anniversary tour: "

“This album chronicled an intimate piece of my young existence. It was the summation of most, if not all, of my most hopeful and positive emotions experienced to that date. I Loved and believed deeply in my community’s ability to both Love and heal itself provided it received the right amount of support and encouragement. Our world today, both complex and changing, is in need of the balance between moral fortitude and cathartic expression. I hope the Love and energy that permeated this work can continue to inspire change with Love and optimism at the helm.”
In my hour of darkness, in my time of need

Oh Lord, grant me vision oh, Lord grant me speed

They’re kind of reaching with that headline.
(04-23-2018, 10:13 AM)boone daniels Wrote: ...and also dovetails with my interests in hauntology.

It doesn't fit the synthwave theme, but if you like the idea of hauntology that literally sounds haunted, this album may interest you:

Stuff I’ve been reading

"Doing a deep dive into the work of Ellen Willis. She was the first “rock critic” hired by The New Yorker, and one of the only women writing seriously about rock music at that time. At least in a major publication. Her music stuff is so good, so interesting. Her career began with a lengthy essay on Bob Dylan – written in 1967 for a small magazine. It got a lot of attention though (and rightly so), and it was this essay that made The New Yorker hire her. But music wasn’t her only beat. A radical feminist – with some quirks, one of the main ones being her love of Freud – she wrote for decades after the 60s about politics, culture, feminism, everything from the rise of the religious right to her deep love of The Sopranos (see again her love of Freud). She attacked class and racial biases, particularly in feminist circles, which tended towards upper-middle-class white girls. Willis came from a lower-middle-class background (her dad was a cop, she grew up in Queens), which gave her a unique point of view. She didn’t quite “fit.” She went on to found the department of Cultural Reporting at Columbia. I am reading two collections of hers, simultaneously:

— The Essential Ellen Willis: This is a collection that starts off with some of her more famous music writing: the Dylan essay, her essay on the Velvet Underground, her essay on Janis Joplin, her essay on admitting she loved the Sex Pistols, her famous essay on Woodstock, but the collection takes us up to her death (in 2006). So there are essays on 9/11, on the Salman Rushdie fatwa, on the rise of the religious right, on her frustrations with the moralistic left. Her work is not easily categorized, and that’s what makes it so great.

— Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music. LONG overdue. There are people out there who – when “music criticism” is mentioned, immediately think Greil Marcus, Robert Christgau, Dave Marsh. Maybe a couple of others. All male. And please: words can’t even express how much I love all of those guys, how much their writing means to me. But she belongs in that pantheon. THEY all think she belongs there (they all knew her, Christgau and she dated for 3 years, they all were in awe of her). She had a wider audience in The New Yorker than the Triumvirate combined. The fact that The New Yorker was giving its stamp of approval to (merciful heavens) pop culture by covering it at all was also radical. At any rate, the obliteration of her reputation (except for those in the know) may have something to do with the fact that she didn’t spend her entire career writing about rock music. Once the 80s hit, she switched mostly to politics and women’s issues. This book is a wonderful correction of the record, putting her into the cultural conversation of music once and for all. Like all excellent critics, you get a sense of her personal taste. The Rolling Stones are her favorite. She grew up on Elvis and Little Richard. She’s okay with the powerhouse female singers of the folk movement, but she gets frustrated with their pacifist-goddess-earth-mother personae. She also wishes they weren’t so self-serious. She wants rock and roll. She wants tough girls, aggressive, electric guitars, sexual ownership. She loved the riot grrrls who came later, loved their irony, reclamation of sexual symbols (babydoll dresses, etc.), all that, but mostly she loved that these women weren’t strumming acoustic guitars or autoharps. They were LOUD. They were filled with sexual drive. (Willis was big on sexual freedom, and the anti-sex strain in feminist circles really alarmed her, and it alarmed her early.) She went to a women’s musical festival in the mid-70s, and pointed out what was good, but also pointed out what was bad (her work is filled with moments when she “breaks ranks” like that, and I say, good for her. Orthodoxy is damaging, no matter what orthodoxy it is.) The collection includes wonderful essays on Creedence Clearwater Revival, David Bowie, the New York Dolls, lots of stuff on Lou Reed (she was fascinated), lots of stuff on her main obsession – Bob Dylan, two awesome essays about seeing Elvis live (once in Vegas, and once at Madison Square Garden), lots of stuff on bands who have now been lost in the mists of time. I adore her. "
In my hour of darkness, in my time of need

Oh Lord, grant me vision oh, Lord grant me speed

Have you read Ellen Willis, Elvis? Where would you recommend starting?
home taping is killing music
God Save the Queen:

In my hour of darkness, in my time of need

Oh Lord, grant me vision oh, Lord grant me speed


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