Oh, Sweet Nothing

Good stuff from then and now. Unless otherwise mentioned, I've purchased anything posted on this blog. Comments, complaints, and love letters (and take down notices) to jerseyjerseyrob@gmail.com. Enjoy.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A propos of this week's events

Saw this link and thought it should be shared. Given the nuclear disaster in Japan, a list of all the songs about the threat posed by Nukes (mostly from the 80s and mostly about Nuclear War). Very intense.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Well this sounds like it could be great...

Apparently a split collaboration single b/w Burial, Four Tet, and Thom Yorke is set to be released on Four Tet's Text label. Unfortunately, it already sold out (in the pre-order stage!!), so good luck trying to get your hands on it at a reasonable price. Fortunately, the always great Fact Mag has provided both of the sides of the single for streaming (via YouTube)....so there's that.

Check it out HERE.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Sad Day for Dylanologists

Suze Rotolo has died. For fans of early Bob Dylan, she is the very cute young woman on the cover of The Freewheeling Bob Dylan, pictured above. This is the girl Bob Dylan was dating before Joan Baez, and the inspiration behind some of his earlier, more aching love and loss songs, including "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" and "Boots of Spanish Leather."

While many attribute Dylan's political awakening to Joan Baez's influence, they are often mistakenly transposing the influence of Ms. Rotolo, the daughter of Communists and a committed civil rights supporter in her own right. The article linked below notes several facts of which I was unaware: (1) that Dylan was cheating on her with Joan Baez, and (2) that she had an illegal abortion of Dylan's unborn child after they broke up. Heavy.

The New York Times obit is here.

I'm sorry that my presence on this site of late has been to act as a pallbearer for dead icons. I promise this will change soon. Big post about the history of U.S. musical diplomacy in the Middle East to come.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Taking The High Road

...because my gut reaction was to fume about that awful awful Super Bowl. It was bad enough the Packers were in it/won it/beat Chicago to get there, but then...the halftime show. I'm pretty sure I'll be having flashbacks of it anytime I hear or see anything Appetite For Destruction related for the rest of my life...and that's all I'll say about that.

On a more positive note, the first single to the new Strokes (reunion?) album is out. Right here in fact. See?

So what do you think? My first reaction is that it's not bad at all, but I'll openly admit that I'm rooting for these dudes to make a good album. I know they're not exactly underdogs, and that last album wasn't so good...but man, anyone who still won't admit that Is This It? is a classic is delusional (obligatory "in my opinion" inserted...I guess) or hates guitars.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The FINAL Word on 2010!!!

Because I guarantee that this is the absolute last post concerning music from last year...heh. Apologies for the many delays, but I finally got around to posting my summary of the past year. As always, I admit that objectivity has a smaller role to play in the creation of this list than I'd like to believe. I also openly admit that I haven't heard everything I wanted to give a chance this year, blog life without access is cruel like that. If you think I missed out on something, I'd love to hear about it! In the end, hopefully I turn you on to something new...or at the very least get some sort of reaction (negative and/or positive) as a result of this list. So yeah, enjoy...and to be honest, some of the more interesting stuff from this year is probably higher up on my list...maybe it didn't have the polish of albums I thought were "better", but the ideas behind the work alone makes it something worth checking out (a la These New Puritans, Zola Jesus & LA Vampires).

Without further ado, Oh, Sweet Nothing's (Rob's) Favorite Albums of 2010:

30. Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise
29. These New Puritans - Hidden
28. Love Is All - Two Thousand And Ten Injuries
27. Guilty Simpson - OJ Simpson
26. High On Fire - Snakes of the Divine
25. Kings Go Forth - The Outsiders Are Back
24. The Dream - Love King
23. Forest Swords - Dagger Paths
22. Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
21. Ty Segall - Melted
20. Zola Jesus - Stridulum EP
I guess she is supposed to herald the "return of goth"...I dunno about all that, but this is a damn fine EP of grand, dark pop (ok fine, goth).

19. Thee Oh Sees - Warm Slime
You could complain that they've been doing the same thing for about 3 albums a year for around 3 years...but you'd be missing the point that they're doing it better than just about everyone else.

18. Yellow Swans - Going Places
So. Fucking. Loud. I'm bummed I just found about this duo after they broke up. Hell of a swan (see what I did there!!?!) song though.

17. White Car - White Car EP/No Better EP
All you get is dead serious, dark, electro pop from this Chicago duo. Saw them live and it was a great show too, probably my favorite local group right now and they definitely deserve to have a huge 2011.

16. Freddie Gibbs - Str8 Killa/St8 Killa No Filla
I consider Gary, IN local just like I consider Munster, IN local...so have no problems saying that two of my favorite rappers (the other one) out there period hail from the Chicago area. Dude is as hard as he's intelligent...in that young Ice Cube sorta way.

15. Various Artists/Scientist - Scientist Launches Dubstep Into Outer Space
A not-quite collaboration that could have probably placed on my list even without the "B" side. The dubstep contributions are winners, and several of Scientist's dub reworkings further elevate the originals or at the very least shed a different (weed cloud obscured) light on them.

14. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Leftfoot...The Son of Chico Dusty
The highest compliment that can be paid to Big Boi's latest is that despite being delayed for years and years, The Son of Chico Dusty dropped last year and STILL sounded ahead of the game. Catch up indeed.

13. LA Vampires & Zola Jesus - LA Vampires Meets Zola Jesus
I was actually waaay more into this EP than any of Zola Jesus' solo works, and that's not a slight against her individual products. This foray into psychedelic dub absolutely kills.

12. Twin Shadow - Forget
Most of what I read about Twin Shadow seemed to focus on all the 80s touchstones in his music. It's not that pointing that out isn't wrong, but it is kinda missing the point that about 83048203 bands/artists try this each year...and here's someone who's songwriting is so strong that he totally nailed it. Probably the first album on this list I'd consider a "must buy" no matter what music you're predominantly into.

11. Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner
To me, this sounds like a warmer/more organic version of the type of electronic music The Field is making at his best. And that is nothing but a good thing.

10. Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to The Sky

I'd heard tons about Swans over the years, but never really took the chance to give them a real listen until late 2010, with this album after over 10 years of lying dormant as an entity. Holy shit. I'm still blown away at the weird beauty something so brutal, minimal, and at times atonal can contain. 3 decades later, Michael Gira is still making new fanboys (me).

9. Woods - At Echo Lake

It's not supposed to sound like a diss at all, but I feel as though after Songs of Shame, Woods have really hit a groove and they're churning out these amazingly weird, pretty, catchy psych-folk tunes with little to no effort at all. A little more straightforward than Songs of Shame, but all it did was show off that they're just as talented on the songwriting end of things as they are at noisy noodling.

8. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

I actually didn't think this was as strong an album as the brilliant Sound of Silver, but still was another great work by James Murphy...who I consider one of 2 artists that can lay legitimate claim to the "Artist of a Generation" tag (for what it's worth). The other? It probably isn't a surprise, but go ahead and peek at #1 for the answer.

7. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor

I was surprised at how polarizing this album was. My friends either loved it or hated it, and publications that I respect and read all the time either placed it on their "Best of" or "Worst of" lists for the year. I'm throwing my chip in the "Best of" hat. Admittedly the concept behind the album was awkward at best (it's about the Civil War, but not about the Civil War!), but man, they really swung for the fences and made one epic fucking album!! Especially during a time when trends leaned toward lo-fi, shabby, short half-tossed ideas of a song...I think 7 minute anthems with shout-alongs and multiple solos should be applauded, especially when they're this well done and this intelligent and this intense!! And also, fuck yes to straightforward American rock (puts on flag pin...calls brown person a terrorist...googles "death panel")! So yeah, mad points for ambition and effort here. They're a hell of a live show to boot.

6. Caribou - Swim

Every Caribou/Manitoba album seems to branch off into a new musical direction, and by venturing into the electronic dance/house/disco world, Swim was no different. And like all of his previous albums, Swim was awesome. All some people do is winwinwin.

5. Deerhunter - Halycon Digest

I feel safe saying this now, but I did not like Deerhunter all that much before this album. I just felt that there were lots of bands/artists out there were doing the noise/psychedelic/pop thing just as good or better than them. Halycon Digest blows that argument out of the water, and I know for a fact I'm not the only one with that sentiment. For the most part Deerhunter leaves the noise and fuzz behind, and instead creates some of the strongest, prettiest songs of the year. The fact that this one isn't my favorite album of the year says more about how great the next 4 albums are.

4. Four Tet - There Is Love In You

After his collaboration with Burial on the "Moth"/"Wolf Cub" single, I had sky high expectations for whatever Kieran Hebden was lining up next. The result was There Is Love In You, easily his most across the board consistent, complete LP. Bravo.

3. Darkstar - North

Most underrated album of 2010, easily. After their earlier "Need You" and "Aidy's Girl Is A Computer" singles, I was sure that the following LP was going to be brilliant. I was right, but not in the way I expected at all. Instead of continuing with their loose interpretations of dubstep/2-step, Darkstar added a singer to their line-up and created an album of moody, lonely, yet somehow incredibly warm synth-pop songs. A total curveball, but it works. I feel as though this album is destined to really catch on sometime in 2011...get the late passes ready.

2. Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers

Can I call this post-dubstep? I embarrassingly cringe when I catch myself describing music with the lazy "toss post- before any genre and presto!" trick, but it feels appropriate here. The tempo is similiar, but whereas most dubstep goes for the cold, tough, dangerous, creepy urban vibe (Chicago in winter!) Mount Kimbie is more like the rigid yet still warm, charming, even fun, vibe that cities are just as capable of (Chicago in summer!). A total winner, and it was a runaway for my favorite album of the year until...

1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Yeah yeah yeah I know...but goddamn, the man stole an entire season of SNL:

Yup, Kanye. Another list where his latest has landed number one. To be honest, I don't really know what to say here, as pretty much every observation about this album (good and bad) has been made by haters and lovers of not just the album, but Kanye as a human being as well. I have long-winded opinions on both, but I'll spare you (read: save it for when I need a post in the future) but I will leave you with these two thoughts:
i) I think it's just me, but Pusha T sounds absolutely frightening in his appearances throughout the album. Not in that "gangsta gangsta" sort of way, but in that "nihilistic Bishop from Juice" sort of way...he just doesn't give a fuck.
ii) If ever there was an argument against low bit rate mp3s and whatnot...it's this album. Some of the songs that are excellent on a good system/headphones/high quality music files sound AWFUL on the radio/shitty speakers/youtube rips/ipod earbuds. I'm looking at you "All of the Lights"

That's all I got...but here's a few things I'm looking forward to in 2011: NEW PANDA BEAR LP!!!, new Cut Copy LP, White Car LP, Chromatics LP, Kode 9 & Spaceape LP, Spectre Folk EP. Happy listening.

Friday, January 14, 2011

R.I.P Trish Keenan

Rest assured, the Oh, Sweet Nothing (very much delayed) favorites of 2010 list is on it's way...but unfortunately 2011 seems to be continuing the same tragic trend of great musicians passing that was especially brutal in 2010. This time it's an extra sad one for me, as Trish Keenan, the singer of one of my absolute favorite groups, Broadcast, has passed away after several weeks of struggling with complications from both H1N1 and pneumonia. Condolences to her loved ones and may she rest in peace.

More details and obituary here and here.

For those of you who haven't had to absolute privilege of listening to Broadcast, here's two videos. "Until Then" from Warp's website and one of my favorites "Before We Begin" from the near flawless Haha Sound. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

R.I.P. Teena Marie

It looks as though 2010 is going to go down as one of the saddest years for the R & B stars of the early 80s. Robert Wilson, and now, Teena Marie, age 54.

The New York Times has a good obit. This probably caught them off guard, too.

Sing 'em off, Teena.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Post!

So it's been a nice Jewish Christmas here for me, and a real Christmas for Rob. New posts to follow from both of us shortly.

In the interim, enjoy these links about the origin of the pop song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight/ Wimoweh," popularized first by Pete Seeger and later, the Tokens, but originally recorded by South African folk musician Solomon Linda in 1939.

First, an article by Rian Malan published in Rolling Stone in 2001, reprinted in The Best American Magazine Writing - 2001. This covers the origin story and makes the persuasive point that Linda and his family were pretty solidly screwed out of millions. (ed. note: the article unnecessarily maligns Seeger).

Next, the satisfying (but less well-written) conclusion to this saga: The Linda family gets a settlement after suing the Walt Disney Co. in a round-about way.

And finally... the original recording:

Um, People Power! Merry Christmas.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Some sad news, early in the morning

Robert Wilson, one third of blacktro funk group, The Gap Band, died yesterday. Not the voice of the group (that was Charlie Wilson his brother), Robert was the bassist and man are those basslines amazing.

H/t to BlackAmericaWeb with the info.

Monday, August 09, 2010

They stole my idea . . . and did it better.

So I go the AVClub this morning and almost spit out my coffee. In their weekly inventory, the AVClub had stolen my idea for a list of most-dated sounding songs, albeit limited to technology.


Although this list omits two awesome tracks I included, Jim Croce's "Operator" and Destiny's Child's "Bug-A-Boo," it's pretty comprehensive.

My posts -

1990s dated songs:

1970s dated songs: