Tag Archive | Kanye West

JG2’s Top Ten Albums & Singles Of 2013 (Annotated Edition)

Here they be, the same exact lists I submitted to Village Voice for their 2013 Pazz & Jop poll, expanded with my useless piddling thoughts on each entry. You should still wade through Pazz & Jop when The Voice posts it, though, for my point breakdown (yes, they force us to assign our album selections a specific point grade, because life is one big knuckle-chewing exam).

I hereby dedicate this year’s best of balderdash to the late Bonnie Franklin (pictured above). We lost this small screen pioneer way too soon. Bonnie was Iggy to Roseanne’s J. Rotten; on top of that, she seemed like a real together person offscreen. Respect and rest in peace, Bon.

JG2’s TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2013

1. Ghostface Killah / Adrian Younge – Twelve Reasons To Die

I’m sure Robert Rodriguez is going to waste the next year of his life working on Machete Kills One More Time With Feeling but he really should be trying to adapt this taught, soulful comic book concept album for the silver screen. Not that he could actually improve upon Ghostface / Adrian’s grit-streaked narrative—I just want to see the phrase “BASED ON THE GHOSTFACE KILLAH ALBUM” blown up for IMAX 3-D.

2. Superchunk – I Hate Music

Speaking of movie trailer talk, James Greene, Jr. of Orlando Weekly gives Superchunk’s I Hate Music four stars, calling it “gorgeous [and] liberating…indie rock candy” and the “perfect soundtrack for any spontaneous new adventure.” Hope to see that printed on future editions of IHM.

3. Kanye West – Yeezus

In the words of R. Nixon, “Do you want to make a point or do you want to make a change? Do you want to get something off your chest or do you want to get something done?” Kanye’s never had an answer for these questions, which is why his music is so consistently electrifying. Is it also overblown and self-indulgent? Totes, but no more so than anything U2’s ever done—and Kanye cracks wise way better than Bono.

4. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels

This album pretends to hit you and then gives you two for flinching. Dirty, loose, threatening, thrilling…Run The Jewels is the playground bully you secretly want as your BFF. Sure as Pepperidge Farm remembers a bunch of corny Norman Rockwell shit, RTJ remembers when rap was a distilled menace, a simpler time when being from “the streets” carried no irony.

5. Bloodlights – Stand or Die

It’s hard rock, it’s pop, it’s a bruised apple of both genres boasting no worms but plenty of heaving hooks. Bloodlights are more cohesive here than the band we saw on 2010’s Simple Pleasures; the new muscle is appreciated, especially when that middle eight kicks in on the sour “Time to Kill.”

6. The Stooges – Ready to Die

James Williamson returns to the fold after dog knows how long to produce, co-write, and play killer guitar on the most exciting thing Iggy Pop’s put his name on since 2001’s Beat ‘Em Up. Is it really the Stooges? Look, I know people who think Raw Power isn’t really the Stooges. All I know is Ready to Die is more crisp, sexy, and fun than it has any right to be, and I sure ain’t mad this fucker is now in the same lineage as Fun House.

7. GWAR – Battle Maximus

Never mind all the foam rubber, these guys can groove. Shades of classic era White Zombie color GWAR’s lucky thirteen studio release and I’ll be a maggot-sucking space zombie if “Madness At The Core Of Time” isn’t the best rock album opener of the year. My teeth are still clenched.

8. Future of the Left – How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident

Feels like a band-aid slowly peeled from a very hair patch of flesh, or “How To Orgasm Through Rug Burn” starring your favorite sulphuric post punk misanthropes. Nobody puts a musical button on cynicism quite like Future of the Left. A pox on any who previously called for their disbandment.

9. Melt-Banana – Fetch

This furious and spastic platter is what people mean when they say “taste the colors.” And yet, Melt-Banana’s been at their brain-bending game of rock disintegration for so long it felt comforting when Fetch dropped. What a treat for us to get this synapse pounding!

10. The Lonely Island – The Wack Album

The Wack Album deflates the tag of “joke rap” by cushioning its yuks with some of the most invigorating, inventive beats of 2013. If I said “‘Saturday Night Live’ rap album” to you in 1991 you would have laughed for very different reasons. Be glad someone can bankroll this reality.

JG2’s TOP TEN SINGLES OF 2013

1. Babymetal – “Ijime, Dame, Zettai”

Metal grinding swirled with J-pop continues to be ultramodern chocolate and peanut butter. May these sweet children never stop.

2. Kanye West – “Bound 2”

Profane and anti-romance, yet still romantic. Honesty is the best policy (at least for Kanye).

3. Britney Spears – “Work Bitch”

No one parodies Britney more deftly than herself. I don’t want to spend any time debating whether that’s intentional or not, I just want to bathe in this glorious stupidity and let its subliminal messages amuse me.

4. The Adolescents – “Forever Summer”

It can be July in Orange County whenever / where ever you are, brah.

5. The Oath – “Black Rainbow”

The voice of Johanna Sadonis floats like a benevolent angel over the most turgid and spine-tingling of Sabbathy reinterpretations. Trad metal lives thanks to this Euro quartet. What are you wearing to the black mass?

6. GWAR – “Madness At The Core Of Time”

Sure, it’s cheese metal, but a fine gruyere. Listen to how that chorus bounces around like a tennis ball between two excited golden retrievers!

7. Sleigh Bells – “Bitter Rivals”

The frenemies anthem that needs to be in the next direct-to-vid Mean Girls sequel / reboot.

8. The Lonely Island – “Diaper Money”

Everything you could want in a club banger—throbbing bass, throbbing exuberance, and coffin jokes. “Wobblty wobblty drop / into my grave plot” gets my vote for lyrical couplet of the year.

9. Kid Cudi – “Unfuckwittable”

Denser than dark matter, a blurry bleary drug trip that doubles as an empowerment anthem. Kanye would have created this if he had more confidence.

10. Run The Jewels – “Banana Clipper”

“Surprise, bitch,” Ice Cube’s 1993 attitude said as it walked through the door. “I bet you thought you’d seen the last of me.”

Unsolicited Yeezus Review

Kanye West
Yeezus
Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam
2013

Essentially the extended club sequence missing from Tron: Legacy, Yeezus combines the window-rattling throb of that film with the brazen, breathless, and ultimately unapologetic approach of pop music’s touchiest paladin. The results are, as you might expect, gripping and cinematic. At forty minutes the album also retains a focus absent from Kanye’s last meandering effort, 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. That fairy tale was longer by half an hour, but let’s be frank—it felt like days.

As with many Kanye West projects, the degree of reality within Yeezus is unclear. Is this authentic upper class braggadocio we’re witnessing in “I Am A God” or the deftest of parodies? The line of demarcation is barely visible through the electro-dissonance West has sublet from producers Daft Punk. The rapper’s jaunty / bratty attitude doesn’t help, but when the dust settles ultimately I find myself not caring. When you create music as present and engaging as “Black Skinhead” or “On Sight” I afford you the right to have an asthma attack over tardy croissants (a picture Kanye paints in “God” that joke or not will now surely follow him to the grave).

Even when Yeezus slips into autopilot for a few tracks it’s startlingly good. “I’m In It” and “Hold My Liquor” both hit far harder than your average late night bangers about getting laid and having addiction issues (respectively). The latter is particularly affecting, moving from a jarring structure of West’s chanting between air horn blasts to a back end laden with slippery almost reversed-sounding guitar work. I assume this is one of Bon Iver founder Justin Vernon’s contributions, but I’m not ruling out a ghost appearance from Kanye’s purple pop predecessor (and equal fussbudget) Prince.

Yeezus eventually lowers the stakes on its final track, “Bound 2,” in which Kanye once again contemplates his lousy romantic skills, this time over a reboot of the 1971 Massey / Dukes soul classic “Bound.” The song strolls along with a breeze and comfort, exhaling a sigh of relief for an otherwise tense album. The change is as pleasant and touching as it is unexpectedly cathartic and provides no better comedown for what history will probably peg as one of Kanye’s top three ventures. Is it too soon to ask when his next one is coming out?

FINAL SCORE: Four Tron: Legacy light cycles (out of four).

Kanye = Nixon (Richard, Not Cynthia, Mojo, Or Trot)

Perhaps you read my Top Ten Albumz Of Twenty-Ten post for Crawdaddy.com (or, perhaps, you loathe end-of-the-year list-based nostalgia, and you didn’t). I was looking over this piece last night and, apropos of nothing, suddenly began wondering to which U.S. president each selection most closely corresponds. After an hour of furious pencil scribbling and equally frenzied naugahyde chewing, I had the answers below.

1. Kvelertak – Kvelertak

Teddy Roosevelt. Blustery, forceful, hearty. Doesn’t give up until its final breath.

2. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty

Bill Clinton. Charismatic and focused with a layer of devious sexuality bubbling just below the surface.

3. OFF! – First Four Eps

Harry Truman. Short, cranky, but not without an indelible charm.

4. Bloodlights – Simple Pleasures

Dwight Eisenhower. Not breaking any new ground, but strangely comforting in its self-assured rule.

5. Devo – Something For Everybody

Calvin Coolidge. Keeping cool and using aloof as a weapon.

6. Das Racist – Shut Up, Dude

John F. Kennedy. Coasting on wit and intelligence just as much as image.

7. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Richard Nixon. Unexpected accomplishment overshadowed by comically awful persona.

8. GBH – Perfume & Piss

Andrew Jackson. Charging in, causing a ruckus, refusing to apologize for boorish behavior.

9. The Sword – Warp Riders

Jimmy Carter. Laid back, on message, maybe a little too soft at times.

10. Thee Oh Sees – Warm Slime

Barack Obama. Thin, somewhat tropical, will probably make you smile despite fifteen minutes of saying nothing.

Prominent Dr Pepper Cans In “South Park” Raise Questions

I don’t know if this has been discussed at length anywhere else on the InterWEBZ (man, I’m really starting to hate that term), but has anyone else noticed the non-animated cans of Dr Pepper that have been appearing in characters’ hands during the last couple episodes of “South Park?” They’re kind of hard to miss. It was Cartman, I believe, who was nursing a DP at some point during last week’s hilarious “Fishsticks” outing; in this week’s episode, one of the competing Pinewood Derby fathers was clearing holding a can during the big race. I tried to find a screen capture online, but when I typed “Dr Pepper South Park” into Google Image Search, this is all that came up:

dr_pepper

Anyway, isn’t this shameless in-show product placement (a hot trend now with advertisers desperately fighting the Tivo and DVR uprising) the kind of thing “South Park” would usually mock into complete embarrassment? I have noticed recently there are more commercials during your average episode of “South Park” than there used to be. Is Matt & Trey’s greatest creation slipping in the ratings? Are talking Towlie plushies not bringing in their projected revenue? Have the suits beaten the guys who made Orgazmo! into submission? I guess after ten plus years, they have to concede to one or two things their evil corporate overlords come at them about.

Still, you’d think they’d at least make some kind of reference to the silliness of blatantly Photoshopped soda cans. This is the show that just graphically beheaded Carlos Mencia and animated a music video in which Kanye West has sexual intercourse with a giant sea creature. Maybe they thought that stuff would distract everyone from Cartman’s shiny maroon can full of fat, fat greenbacks. Whatever. “South Park” is gonna be appointment TV until it goes off the air. As long as they don’t change the voices or totally run out of steam, I’ll still watch the shiggles out of it.

NOSTALGIA WARNING: Man, I remember when “South Park” first came on. I was a freshman in college. I specifically remember talking about the premiere episode with a girl I liked the day after it aired. That conversation was quite possibly the most 1997 conversation I ever had in my life. Topics included “South Park,” the Star Wars re-releases, Blur, and feeling completely shiftless during the go-go Clinton ’90s. Talk about a scene from the coming-of-age teen comedy I’m going to write when I’m 45 and drowning in the candy-coated memories of my youth. Blecch.