Kishi Bashi – 151a

kishi 550x550 KISHI BASHIS 151A [10]

I got in an argument once about the meaning of ten. It was the kind of argument where I had to call the person the next day and apologize for myself, one where the beliefs were so deeply held and disparate that it basically turned into a fight. He held that scoring something a ten is impossible, no album, no piece of art, can ever be perfect. Ten doesn’t exist — it’s fiction. By placing the crown of perfection on something it diminishes the art, making it inconsequential by saying it achieves something it so obviously doesn’t. On an existential plane that’s absolutely true, we all know perfection is impossible, that no human being can ever reach such celestial heights. To me, that is not the meaning of ten. On a practical level it means there is nothing I would change about the album, that the phrase, “I wish…” never enters your thinking when listening to the record. But that’s not what makes a piece of art a ten, that’s what would make a paper an A. What makes an album a ten is indescribable and personal. It’s putting it on for the first time and leaning back on your couch. It’s the way your eyes open wide when you hear that song, the way you sit up charged by adrenaline, the way you ache at its beauty and when it’s over — you press play again hoping the feeling comes back.

Kishi Bashi’s debut 151a is a ten. It’s a ten because even at a scant 9 tracks, it feels epic. Ishibashi, also violinist in of Montreal, uses a mixture of electronic sounds and orchestral swirl to create lush pop. The album seems to expand into a joyously large explosion of whizzing, whirring noise for one track, then contract into restraint on the next. It’s a ten because it’s entirely new, yet comfortably familiar. 151a recalls of Montreal in its brilliant excess, Andrew Bird in its perfect alt-pop construction,Jonsi in its wild beauty, but always stays a singular experience. It’s a ten because there is no track you want to skip, no moment that seems forced or insincere, no song that won’t leave you smiling and singing it for weeks. It’s a ten because the track “Bright Whites” makes you want to skip in flowers and “Atticus, in the Desert” makes you want to groove, and “Manchester” makes you fall in love.

Mostly it’s a ten because it moved me. Because when I heard “Manchester” for the first time walking down the street in the early spring sun, I swelled. Because, in the most sappy and corny way possibly, it forced me to look up, look at the blossoms, the trees, the sun, the city, look at the person next to me, look to where I was going and smile. Because every time I have listened to it since I feel the same way. Because when I listen to it years from now I will remember that feeling, remember it sound-tracking this moment in my life, and remember everything I loved to the point of tears, including the song. That, is perfect.

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ReAddicted: Massive Attack – Protection

Some albums get under your skin and stay there; these are the ones that years later we still can’t stop loving, even if we just remembered why.

Protection was a bit of a disappointment. Considering the brilliance of Massive Attack’s debut Blue Lines, and their third album, Mezzanine, the dub-seeped masterpiece, Protection falls somewhere between “pretty good” and “meh” in the bands catalog. It hasn’t made it onto any of the big “best of the 90s” list like the records it falls between, it doesn’t soundtrack any hit TV show, and it didn’t push the band forward in any real way. And yet it’s also my favorite Massive Attack  record — one that I come back to time and time again. It’s the record that sounds most like the band that I love so much. It’s not their best, but for me it’s the most important.

whyiloveit final MASSIVE ATTACKS PROTECTION [RE ADDICTED]

The core genius of Massive Attack (@massiveattackuk) can be summed up in the first five tracks of their sophomore album. The first track, from which the album takes its name, is an eight minute languid love ballad. It’s a haunting, ambling and achingly sincere song defined by its eloquence and simplicity. The next “Karmacoma” is the definition of trip hop — a seamless mixture of hip hop, reggae and electronica. “Three” is quintessential chill-out electro with beats and hazy treble rolling in and out. “Weather Strom” mixes hip hop beats with jazz piano and “Spying Glass” features Horace Andy, a reggae master, singing with electronic manipulation. Five tracks that define what Massive Attack is — what Trip Hop is — understated and perfectly produced genre bending.

To me, very little is as perfect as those five tracks sitting so beautifully in a row. They’re safe, which is what made critics furrow their brows when they first heard the record, but they’re also comforting. They’re so warmly produced and so tender that the songs hold you. Electronic music often has a problem feeling distant and cold, but Protection gave it a warming glow. Those five tracks slither around, thanks in large part to their codeine bass lines, and act as musical blankets. It may be harsh outside, but I always know that the first wa-wa in Protection will keep me warm.

Sometime ago, I found myself in need of that sort of comfort. Instinctively, I put on the album — turning up title track so loud that the lethargic throbs were completely consuming. It had been years since I listened to that record, and I still knew all the words, still knew where every thump, scratch and dip fell, and still knew how to rap along to Tricky. I listened through Protection with myopic focus, and when it came to the end, I pressed play on the first song again. My loneliness abated, and as corny as it may sound, I felt protected. The album has been on repeat ever since.

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Valentine’s Day Playlist

Untitled 2 LOVING/TENDER VS. DIRTY/RAUNCHY ON VALENTINES DAY [SPOTIFY PLAYLIST]

What are you doing tonight? Do you have some special plans? Some special love related plans? Let’s not fool ourselves, you guys are doin’ it tonight aren’t you? Everyone should be involved in some kind of sexy time activity this evening, and because we here at The Wild Honey Pie are absolutely 100% pro-sexy time, we did our part and made a couple playlists. If you’re loving someone and feel a deep, personal and spiritual connection, then the Lovin’ mix is for you. Are you taking someone home you picked up from the annual Union Pool Lonely Hearts and Open Pants Club meeting? Well, we have a mix for you too (no emotions required). Are you with your personal vibrating device or hand (or both) this evening? Put the two on shuffle and make yourself feel alternately happy and very sad. Happy Valentine’s Day lovers, don’t do anything we wouldn’t do.

LOVE LOVING/TENDER VS. DIRTY/RAUNCHY ON VALENTINES DAY [SPOTIFY PLAYLIST]

listen LOVING/TENDER VS. DIRTY/RAUNCHY ON VALENTINES DAY [SPOTIFY PLAYLIST]

“Are you the One I’ve Been Waiting for?” – Nick Cave
“Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating In Space” – Spiritualized
“Pagan Poetry” – Björk
“Calgary” – Bon Iver
“Samson” – Regina Spektor
“Aeroplane Over the Sea” – Neutral Milk Hotel
“For You” – Sharon Van Etten
“Up All Night” – Oliver Tank
“Say Yes” – Elliott Smith
“Slow Show” – The National
“Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” – Arcade Fire

raunchy LOVING/TENDER VS. DIRTY/RAUNCHY ON VALENTINES DAY [SPOTIFY PLAYLIST]

listen1 LOVING/TENDER VS. DIRTY/RAUNCHY ON VALENTINES DAY [SPOTIFY PLAYLIST]

“Comeback Kid” – Sleigh Bells
“Skin of the Night” – M83
“Same Damn Time” – Beat Connection
“Speaking in Tongues” – Eagles of Death Metal
“Fuck the Pain Away” – Peaches
“Playground Love” – Air
“Prizefighter” – SPORTS
“Love” – Daughter
“danceworkdancesex” – Model
“Monster” – Kanye West

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Justice- Audio, Video, Disco

 

justice audio video disco album cover art work 1 JUSTICES AUDIO, VIDEO, DISCO [8.5]

Prog rock and stadium-ready sounds have always been a part of Justice. Hell, Gaspard Auge has worn his love of Yes on his belt buckle since day one. It’s not surprising then, that they would release a record filled to the brim with 1970s throwback rock — the same way it’s not surprising that the McRib has 70 ingredients. Much in the same way that a McRib is a little delicious in spite of itself, Audio, Video, Disco is incredible in spite of itself. It’s awesome even though it’s trying to be sleazy and gross.

Granted, Cross was one of the dirtiest albums to be released in the last decade. Even with the plucky pop gems “D.A.N.C.E” and “DVNO”, it’s covered in special French club grime and clad in leather like the two skinny Parisians who made it. Regardless, Cross had more club gems than anything released since the heyday of Daft Punk. Audio, Video, Disco is not Cross – it has nothing as earworm-y as “D.A.N.C.E” nor anything as crazy as “Waters of Nazareth”. What it does have, though, are balls to spare. It has soaring vocals, thumping bass, guitar tones that weave in and out and prog keys straight out of a Yes record.

Tracks like “Civilization” with its bombast, “On and On” with its manufactured swagger and “Ohio” with its gothic keys are all cheesy, sure, but they also make you dance. “Civilization” in particular, boasting a hugeness and groovy breaks, will make even the most ardent hater of clubs put on his leather bomber and bust out on the dance floor. In the end, isn’t that what we want out of Justice?

Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Auge, by their own admission, are not musicians, and Prog Rock is truly a musician’s genre. The most successful bands were the ones filled with music dorks that could do literally anything on their respective instruments. AVD betrays the fact that these boys are better with a computer than with a guitar, but it’s that balls-to-the-wall attitude, the willingness and desire to fail spectacularly in creating a prog record, that makes it such an amazing club album. Dancing is all about not giving a fuck, and Justice made AVD all about not giving a fuck. They simply fused two things they loved and, in the process, happened to make a sound that will probably lead the way forward for dance music in the coming years.

Sure, the fusion of arena-ready prog rock and techno seems surprising, but one listen to Audio, Video, Disco proves that it was the obvious next step in the continuing saga of Justice. The Parisian’s created another record for dirty, dirty dancing and made it a great listen in the process. It’s grimy, messy and more than a little sleazy, but that’s their sexy charm. Now, take out the leather bomber and Yes belt buckle hiding under your bed, and go dance.

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Foundations: Heartbreaker

It may surprise some of you, but we at The Wild Honey Pie weren’t born with spectacular taste. Taste, especially for music nerds, is a slow Lincoln Logs like journey with artists and albums laying the foundation for the snarky music writer to come. So every month (or so) we writers will share with you the records that made us the snobs and geeks that we are today. These aren’t the most important records, or even favorite records, they are simply, our foundations.

 I can remember the exact point that I listened to several earth shattering records. When I heard Radiohead’s OK Computer for the first time I was ten, at home in the living room with my dad, and was forced into a stunned silence within the first few bars of “Airbag.” Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was first experienced in the car with my dad stopping every now and again to say, “holy shit, someone made this.” I cannot remember the first time I listened to Heartbreaker. Ryan Adams was 25 when he recorded Heartbreaker, the first of his solo records. He was in the middle of disbanding his first band Whiskeytown, had just moved from South Carolina to New York City and had been through a particularly terrible break up. It is a painful, emotionally tumultuous record. The opening tracks, an argument over a Morrissey song followed by the upbeat “To Be Young (is to be sad, is to be High)” offer the only joyous moments on the record. “To be Young” is fun on the surface but, in the end, it is also a window to the horrible substance abuse and pain that was a part of Adams’ life for so long. Lyrics have always been Adams’ strong point, though his gift for melody and despair ridden voice should be given just as much credit for the musical punches that he creates. “Come Pick Me Up,” the most popular song from the record, shows his talents off brilliantly. Every note he sings aches, the melody groans and the words hit you in the gut like only the pain of loving the wrong person can. Heartbreaker’s magic comes from making even the most grizzled and hollow listener feel empathetic. Heartbreaker is not earth shattering; it is not the kind of record that makes music sound hard to do or is anything entirely revolutionary. It is the kind of record, however, that gets under your skin. It buries itself in you until you know all the songs, until you have three Ryan Adams posters on your wall, until you are suddenly an expert in Alt Country (whatever that is)[1]. I do not remember the first time I listened to Heartbreaker, but I remember crying to “In My Time of Need” in the throes of a toxic relationship, I remember dancing to “To Be Young (is to be sad, is to be high)” with my best friend before she moved to Switzerland, I remember singing the harmonies to “Come Pick Me Up” with my Dad.

——————————————————————————– [1] Thanks to No Depression for that catch phrase.

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Red and Blue: A Bipartisan Election Playlist

Well, the mid-terms happened and we Americans have come out to prove that we cannot make up our minds to save our lives. This week, I humbly submit to you a bipartisan playlist: ten songs for the Republican victors and ten songs for the Democrat losers. It’s a list of songs you conservatives can listen to as you cheerfully tell Pelosi not to hit her ass on the way out and the Democrats can cry to as they make bad boner/Boehner puns in between sobs. Let’s crank up the jams for the Republican victory ho-downs and Democrat pity parties quickly folks, before the infuriating traffic jam that is national policy making begins and we all become hopeless losers.

Republicans

1: “Christ Our President” by Billy Bragg and Wilco

This little ditty is for all those Christian righters and Tea Party fiends who are so intent on taking the country back! It really should be their theme song. Given the Republican record for using songs like, “Born in the USA,” which is extremely critical of American policies, they probably wouldn’t care that it was written by the most famous American socialist, Woody Guthrie.

2: “Après Moi” – Regina Spektor

“After me comes the flood” is probably exactly what John Boehner was thinking when he woke up on that sunny Tuesday morning in November. There was a red flood. This song also has the added bonus of listing things conservatives can be afraid of, like the poor and the lame. They are so scary that they shouldn’t get any health care.

3: “Okie From Muskogee”- Mele Haggard

This song dates back to the Vietnam War protests, deriding the hippies and lauding those from the small all American towns. Just like the Republicans, this song is gleeful of ignorance and suspicious of intellectualism. Granted, it was also intended to be satirical.

4: “Fight the Power”- Public Enemy

“Fight the Power” is a rallying cry for the Tea Party and the insurgent conservatives, who see themselves as outsiders looking in on corruption and scheming. So this was originally a song for all the liberals out there looking to subvert the freakishly regressive politics of the 1980s– it works just as well for subverting the progressive politics of today.

5: “Celebration”- Kool and the Gang

To be honest, this is the only one of the songs that they may actually play at any of the victory parties. Still, celebrate now, because in two years, when nothing has gotten done due to gridlock let’s see if this red tide pulls back out.

6: “Rock You Like a Hurricane”- The Scorpions

Here the Republican Party is, America! And they are ready to rock both you and the Democratic Party like a hurricane. Not a hurricane Katrina though, because you forgot about how Republican leadership was in charge during that. And not a hurricane of foreclosures either, which the Republican Party oversaw. You know, a hurricane of amnesia, a hurricane like that.

7: “The American Dream” From Wag the Dog

This here will celebrate two of the things the Republican party used to win, both the maudlin and blind acceptance of “American ideal” without recognition of American problems AND deft manipulation of the media. If you haven’t seen Wag the Dog yet, this joke may be lost on you, so go see it.

8: “The Fear”- Lily Allen

“I’m being taken over by the fear” sounds a whole lot like what many Republicans were saying this whole election cycle and voters were being taken over, that is for sure. Let’s be honest, no Republican celebration is complete without at least some fear mixed in.

9: “The Knife”- Grizzly Bear

This one here is dedicated to all the “mama grizzlies” that Sarah Palin helped move to the spot light. When the beautiful harmonies kick in and hauntingly sing, “Can’t you feel the knife” you can practically see the gleeful faces of Rand Paul and Sarah Palin as they think about what they did to the democrats.

10: “Testify”- Rage Against the Machine

While Rage Against the Machine is known for their incendiary videos directed by Michael Moore and is widely considered to be liberal, these guys have a message the Tea Party can get behind, “we hate the government.” Ask any Tea Partier if they feel like they are raging against a machine, more likely than not they will say yes. “Testify” should be played as a hype song, because now that they have subpoena power, testifying is the only thing the President will have time to do.

Democrats

1: “Loser”- Beck

That’s what you are, dems: losers. Big fat losers. How does it feel to be such a loser, does it feel exactly like it felt in 1994? Here is a song so you can relive the pain and floral prints of the 90s.

2: “Stand By Your Man”- Tammy Wynett

This is exactly what congressional candidates did not do this election. In fact, they ran away from their man. Nonetheless, you are going to have to start standing beside him if you want to remain in power two years from now, otherwise there will be only pain and heartache coming your way.

3: “Political Science”- Randy Newman

“No one likes us, I don’t know why” is a sentiment that the Democrats are keenly in tune with. Why did the people run away on you? Could it be that you promised sweeping change and never delivered? Or maybe the comical infighting that makes congress look like an elementary school playground. Drop the big one, Dems, see what happens.

4: “Destroy Everything You Touch”- Ladytron

This is another sentiment the Democrats know only too well. While the country isn’t completely destroyed, all that good will from the last election is. When it was in the hands of the most disorganized party on the planet, I guess it’s a small wonder it didn’t happen sooner.

5: “In My Hour of Darkness”- Gram Parsons

Oh, it is a dark time for you Dems, a dark time indeed. This song asks for the one thing that you desperately need: vision. So sit around and cry a little bit, and hopefully, someone will grant you some vision–and quick.

6: “Optimistic”- Radiohead

There was so much misguided optimism coming into this election. Oh, you adorable little democrats, you thought you could keep the House. So sweet, so naïve. Well Thom Yorke and Co have something to say: “You can try the best you can, the best you can is not enough.”

7: “Changes”- David Bowie

Remember the good old days, the days when you promised change? Change we can believe in was the exact wording, I seem to recall. Well, here’s to those days. Maybe if you start shouting loud enough, the people will forget that there was very little change to be had.

8: “The Song Remains the Same”- Led Zeppelin

There seems to be so little different with the country since the start of the Democrats taking power. That could be, of course, that there has only been two years that have past and that the other party sat around yelling, “I can’t hear you, lalalalala, I can’t hear you.” None the less, Democrats get to hide back in their holes knowing that everything went back to being the same.

9: “Once in a Lifetime”- Talking Heads

Here is another one for sobbing over lack of accomplishments–and it’s got a killer beat. Things may still be exactly the same, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dance and cry at the same time.

10: “All Apologies”- Nirvana

You can dedicate this one to the liberals who feel disenfranchised.

From Sonic Eclectic, 11/8/2010: http://soniceclectic.com/music/2010/11/red-and-blue-a-bipartisan-election-playlist/

 

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What’s Up with the Ladies- 2 Broke Girls Edition

2 BROKE GIRLS has a whole lot of problems: it isn’t very funny, it appears to think that Brooklyn is Times Square in the 1970’s, it thinks that if you say hipster enough they will like you, it is more than a little racist — the list goes on. It packages stale one-liners into a stale three-camera structure (with a laugh track, THE HORROR) and the results are predictably boring and awful. Still, I tune in every week waiting for it to get better because I know there is a pretty amazing comedy buried deep under the canned lines — a comedy that is based on the sweet and believable relationship between two women.

Created by Michael Patrick King and Whitney Cummings, 2 BROKE GIRLS sets up a pretty classic “Odd Couple” style relationship between poor waitress Max (Kat Dennings) and disgraced heiress Caroline (Beth Behrs). King is no stranger to female relationships on TV having been the executive producer of one SEX AND THE CITY. Now, no matter what you think about the four fabulous friends living large in a (fantasy) NYC, the relationships between them became a major part of pop culture in the last decade. Iconic relationships King can do — and with a certain degree of realism and care. Max and Caroline have the makings of an iconic relationship where the rest of the show seems content to be lazy their blooming friendship is kinetic and while it sometimes rests on lame plot points, it is always at least a little fun to watch. Most of the credit for Max and Caroline should be given to the spectacular comedic actresses that play the roles, they infuse life into something that would otherwise feel as ancient and out of the loop as the shows view of Brooklyn. Dennings and Behrs make the characters realistic, they make them seem like broke girls in Williamsburg.

The show is never able to capitalize on the spectacular job their lead actresses are doing because when the material isn’t just flat bad, it’s mildly offensive or offensively boring. The tertiary characters include: the walking sexual harassment suit Oleg who one of these days will shout out, “In Soviet Russia vagina masturbates YOU,” an owner who recalls the days when Mickey Rooney had the best Asian impression in the world and a African American cashier whose jive talking stereotype fell out of favor sometime after Ralph Ellison wrote “The Invisible Man.” When these characters aren’t interrupting the girls to do literally nothing, the two friends are being blasé about their sex lives for no other reason than to be blasé about their sex lives.

I love sexual liberation as much as the next oversexed twenty something, but there is a line between being open about sexual appetites and experiences and saying vagina a lot — one can be funny and even a little satirical of a repressed society, the other makes it seem like you aren’t a very good joke writer (Whitney, I’m looking straight at you).  Hearing the words “vagina, masturbate, good nine inches” come out of a pretty girls mouth might make the 15 year old boy set go crazy — but this is network TV, not health class. If the nonchalant attitude towards sex was done with care and craftsmanship, it could be a great element of the show. Instead it, like most everything else in 2 BROKE GIRLS, is lazy and unfunny.

A good, hilarious woman can be a gold mine in comedy — plenty of recent television shows have taught us that. 2 BROKE GIRLS has two hugely talented actresses that are absolutely ready to become the next great comedy super-stars and a core relationship that is ready to be cemented among the best friendships of the medium. Too bad the writers are too preoccupied with these women’s vaginas to care about the women themselves.

From Reel Vixen, 11/2/2011: http://reelvixen.com/?p=1364

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