Pazz & Jop 2016
44th Annual Village Voice Critics’ Poll
“Pazz & Jop is an annual poll of musical releases compiled by American newspaper The Village Voice. The poll is tabulated from the submitted year-end top ten lists of hundreds of music critics. Pazz & Jop was introduced by The Village Voice in 1974 as an album-only poll, but was expanded to include votes for singles in 1979.”
You Don’t Actually Like the Red Hot Chili Peppers
By Jaime Lees
Wed, Jan 18, 2017
Friends, you are being fooled by your own brains. You don’t actually like the music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. You think you do, because you know the songs. Your mind has tricked you into thinking that you like these terrible songs because they were around during a formative time in your life. But just because something is familiar doesn’t make it good.
This is the result of a psychological phenomenon called the “mere exposure effect.” It proposes that when you are familiar with something, you will receive it more favorably. It’s a loophole in your cognitive process that is exploited hundreds of times per day. (It’s a huge factor in how you view your connections on social media and it’s also at least part of how a television personality recently won a presidential election.) This is entry-level thought tinkering and it’s used by every advertiser that you’ve ever come in contact with and, yes, the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The Peppers have an advantage here because they likely got into your head during your years as a budding music fan (your early-to-mid teens) and they’ve just lived in there like a nasty-ass tapeworm ever since. Their inescapable ’90s trilogy of caca (Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik; One Hot Minute; Californication) weaseled its way into your consciousness when you were still young and vulnerable. As an adolescent, you were impressed by the band’s hedonist bro-funk — imagining that one day you, too, could score an ultra-romantic drug problem or grab your painted taint in the desert. You weren’t even turned off by album covers that looked like shit tribal tattoos or a band logo that gives some the urge to call for medical help. You looked to Dave Navarro and saw a compact hero, not just a preening, gothic prawn. You laid eyes on Chad Smith and didn’t even think about Will Ferrell. Yes, those were the days.
But there is no way that you (mid-to-late 30s Midwestern dude, am I right?) should still like this crap music. But maybe it reminds you of a time when your shorts were cargo and your obligations were nonexistent. Maybe you were listening to “Under the Bridge” the first time you fingerbanged a comely young lass. Whatever, that’s cool. You were a kid. But if you have to book a babysitter to go to the RHCP show, you should be too grown for cocks in socks. If you gotta ask off work for the next day because you’re going to have a hangover after three $14 beers, you’re too old for words like “scar tissue that I wish you saw.” If you have a 401k and you’re still down to sing along to “Lick my knob, I gotta put it in your grand-ma” (or whatever the hell those lyrics are) then you are living a sham version of adulthood.
If, as an adult, you heard this music for the first time, you’d be like “Get outta here with this obnoxious kiddie bullshit.” You, as a grown person, would be irritated immediately and you would think it was a shame that uber-talented Flea is stuck in this gig and forced to act like a cartoonish performing circus ape. With the advantage of some years, you would listen to the music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers for the first time and think that it was made exclusively for pot smokers with Adderall prescriptions. Which, to be fair, might explain the band’s enduring popularity — it’s an accurate description of your entire confused generation.
Plenty of music that you listened to as a kid still holds up, but not the Red Hot Chili Peppers. You’re not from California. You’re not wild. You’re not energetic to the point of pogoing. You’re not even a young, aspiring douche anymore. You’re a grown human and you should know better.
So if you’re going to the Chili Peppers’ show tonight, think of your shame during this moment, when every chump in the place does a subconscious body dip. And then hurry home and transfer double the money that you spent on the concert tickets into your kid’s college fund. You owe them that much at least, you foolishly nostalgic baby-man.
President Obama’s Greatest Musical Moments
By Jaime Lees
Tue, Jan 10, 2017
When Barack Hussein Obama was elected President of the United States, it seemed like anything was possible. The fabled American Dream was alive and thriving. We voted for hope and change and we got them both balanced on the shoulders of a man who seemed capable of expertly executing the job.
Now, with only days left on the clock until our country comes under the power of a known psychopath, we mourn what we’re losing and look to the future with appropriate horror. It seems entirely possible that President Obama might go down in history as not just the first African-American president but also the last great American president. Ever. He wasn’t perfect, of course. Like all politicians, he could be hugely disappointing and his public silence and inaction on some matters felt brutal. But it seems safe to say that very (very) soon we will look back on President Obama’s time in office as a golden era.
Not only was he an accomplished, charismatic and dignified leader, he was personable in a style that we’ve never before experienced. And one of the most effective and consistent ways that he connected with the American people was through music.
President Obama used music to showcase his personality and his compassion. He was never shy about expressing how deeply a song or a musician moved him. We knew his opinions on popular artists and it made him more relatable. We also knew that our president sometimes felt compelled to sing or to do a little shimmy. We even knew what he listened to on Spotify. And we loved it all.
Below is a collection of President Obama’s greatest musical moments. Thanks for the great work and the excellent music, Mr. President. We’d love another spin.
This should’ve been our first indication that President Obama was going to be bumping. Here he is as a candidate, dancing his way onto The Ellen DeGeneres Show, as is the tradition:
Here’s Chi-town’s own Barry O joining Mick Jagger, Buddy Guy and BB King at the White House for a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago”:
Check out President Panty Dropper singing Al Green. That little bite of the lip! He really puts the “O” in Oval Office. It was kind of nice to have a President that was attractive and virile. (There’s no chance of that with the next guy.):
The White House hosted a tribute to Ray Charles, giving our main man another opportunity to showcase his pipes:
Many were charmed when Obama spontaneously sang “Purple Rain” to a kid dressed as Prince last Halloween:
He and Michelle also did an endearing little dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”:
President Obama invited Kendrick Lamar to perform at the White House on the 4th of July. Yeah, let that one sink in for a minute:
He awarded Bruce Springsteen the Presidential Medal of Freedom saying, in part, “I am the President; he is the Boss”:
He also awarded Bob Dylan the Presidential Medal of Freedom and then later gave us a peek into how the whole experience went down with Mr. Freewheelin’:
Let’s take a minute to appreciate that we had a black President who frequently celebrated music made by black artists while he was living in the Whitest of Houses. About damn time, right? Over the years President Obama has served as host for a wide range of African-American artists including Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé, Common, Janelle Monáe, Jay-Z, Jill Scott, John Legend, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Usher and the Roots. Here’s Obama singing “Jingle Bells” with Chance the Rapper at the most recent Christmas tree lighting ceremony. (Chance’s dad was Obama’s state director back in his Illinois days.):
In this clip the Obamas dance as a pre-Lemonade Beyonce sings the timeless 1941 classic “At Last,” made famous by Etta James in 1960:
Barack and Michelle danced a lot, actually. Dancing is where their passions meet, as it combines Barack’s passion for music with Michelle’s passion for getting active. In this video they’re trying the tango, but President Obama was known for dancing all across the world, from Alaska to Kenya:
And here they are having an impromptu boogie to “Uptown Funk” with R2D2 and a stormtrooper. They always seemed to have fun:
President Obama somehow even managed to make Jimmy Fallon’s moronic show tolerable for a few short minutes when he showed up to slow-jam the news:
Here’s a recent video from Usher of the President dancing to “Hotline Bling.” #Lit:
The President was also down with the kids, happily hosting his own festival called South By South Lawn on the grounds of the White House:
And here’s our boyfriend trying not to sing along with Aretha Franklin during Carole King’s Kennedy Center Honors ceremony. Was that a tear? And yes, even the President must stand when Aretha takes off her fur:
We saved the best for last. In this video, President Obama paused to sing “Amazing Grace” while presenting the eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney after Pinckney and his fellow church members were executed in a racially motivated mass shooting in North Carolina. The universally moving song was adopted by southern gospel culture decades ago and it was the perfect expression of President Obama’s humanity and a grieving nation:
Until next time, Obama.
link: Riverfront Times
25 Reasons to Have Sex to My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless Today, Its 25th Birthday
By Jaime Lees
Fri, Nov 4, 2016
My Bloody Valentine’s quintessential shoegaze album, Loveless, was released 25 years ago today.
Many now-classic albums came out right around this time a quarter of a century ago, not the least of which was Nirvana’s Nevermind. (See also: U2’s Achtung Baby and A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory.) But Loveless stands out from the crowd on the merit of one huge distinction: It’s the greatest doin’ it album ever.
In honor of its 25th anniversary, we offer you this list of 25 reasons to bang to Loveless today.
01. Because it’s an entire generation’s version of putting on some Marvin Gaye.
Say you go on a date. You’re into that person but you’re not sure if they’re into you. Then at some point, one of you puts Loveless on the hi-fi. The introduction of Loveless relays one’s eagerness to mate faster than taking off one’s pants. At that point you can tell your genitals to just go ahead and get hyped because you’re about to enter the Bone Zone.
02. Because even if the sex is bad, the soundtrack will still be good.
Sometimes a sexual experience is just lame. Maybe you thought it was going to work out and it’s definitely not, the chemistry is all wrong. While you’re in bed and trying to figure out if you should call the whole thing off or if you should just pray that it gets better, you can at least let Loveless deliver you some Grade-A indie rock to listen to while you’re hating your whole life.
03. Because Loveless can make sweet sex hot or hot sex sweet.
It’s usually one or the other, right? Well, with the aide of Loveless you can easily switch the mood to whichever you desire. The overall sound of the album might be dreamy, but it’s still loud-as-hell rock & roll. You and your partner can pick up on whichever vibe from the album suits you or alternate vibes as you please.
04. Because good taste in music is the ultimate aphrodisiac.
Some sounds and people associated with them just don’t work for your naughty bits. Like Parrotheads. Or Deadheads. Or Juggalos. When there’s so much to frown at out there, it’s extra rewarding when you find someone who shares your taste in tunes. And when that shared album is Loveless, it’s frequently a match made in the sexual shoegaze stars.
05. Because enthusiastic consent is sexy.
Sex is best when it’s done with honesty and enthusiasm. So go at it with gusto or not at all. Be bold and open to a shared, mutually-satisfying experience. Instead of trying to trick someone into letting you into their pants, try Loveless instead. The drums at the beginning of “Only Shallow” somehow magically open legs, I promise. You’ll both be happy.
06. Because you can get high on Loveless like a drug.
Poppers, pills, pot, ecstasy — there is no end to the list of substances that people might use to try to enhance a sexual experience, but music can have a similar effect on the brain. The powerful sound production on Loveless can change your perception of space, time, gravity and, like, all of creation. For real. Give it a try.
07. Because out of the many good sex albums, Loveless is best.
I know tons of folks who like to get down to Portishead. Maybe even a little Björk. Some in my generation prefer Nine Inch Nails, which I guess is understandable, but that wouldn’t do it for me. And nobody can deny the pull-your-clothes-off quality of classic soul music. But Loveless offers a certain headiness that is just freakin’ unbeatable for sexy times.
08. Because like Loveless, you’re worth it.
Loveless was famously labored over for years before it came out. It also took a rumored $500k to get the darn thing done. So maybe it takes you a long time to orgasm? Maybe you’re shy in bed? Who cares! It also took Loveless a long time to get comfortable and to… uh… get release. Let this album be your inspiration to treat yourself right. Don’t give up, you can get there.
09. Because it can keep you from being a total sleaze.
If you’re part of the generation who thinks that Loveless is the sexiest album ever and your potential banging partner has never heard of it, just drop the whole thing. He/She is too young for you and you are not their teacher. Let them go bang someone their own age to Maroon 5 or whatever the hell the kids are into these days, you creep.
10. Because it can help you out with dirty talk.
Your lover wants to hear some romantic words? Just look to the lyrics of Loveless. Well, some of them. There is a lot of confusion and insecurity in there, but there is also: “Soft as a pillow / touch her there.” “Tiptoe down / To the holy places.” “Slip your dress / Over your head.” “To lay under her, I want her there.” “Close my eyes / Feel me now.” Sigh.
11. Because it’s depressing as shit while still being beautiful.
Loveless is like the musical version of ruins photography. Everything might be falling apart, but gosh, isn’t it weirdly lovely? Many of these songs are so, so sad, but still oddly exhilarating — like sex with an ex or any number of other bad ideas. Just live it and feel lucky that you have a heart that can both soar and be crushed. It’s a privilege not afforded to all.
12. Because you can match your condoms to the album cover.
If you can’t protect your heart, at least protect your junk. STIs can be a real buzzkill. But with all of the recent advances in condom design, talking about protection can easily be made a part of the act. Whip out your Loveless-colored pink condom and ask your partner to swirl up on your body like those guitars. (Or say literally anything else, because that’s a terrible line.)
13. Because it can make your bed into a raft for two.
Maybe you’re getting down and you’re having a moment. You know, one of those times where the world drops away and the entire universe feels like it’s just you and your partner. (Or partners, we won’t judge.) The swaying, all-encompassing sound of Loveless can make it feel like you’re together out at sea, blissfully riding soft waves to “When You Sleep.”
14. Because you can use it to show your intentions.
If I showed up to somebody’s house and they showed me their Loveless-styled bed or if I clicked on their dating profile and it said they were into Loveless or if I got in their car and they looked me in the eyes and then put Loveless on the stereo or if they were like “Here, take a copy of my favorite album” and it was Loveless then I would think only one thing: They are DTF.
15. Because the American presidential election is in just a few days and we’re all going to die.
These things might actually be two separate facts, but they sure do feel connected right now. When Loveless came out, George H.W. Bush was president and well, those times were almost as scary as these. Many voters think that we’re screwed either way, so why not screw anyway? Election doomsday banging only comes around once every four years. Live it up.
16. Because you can synchronize your moves to the music.
With any full album that you know very well, it’s easy to imagine what song is coming up next based on the one you are currently hearing. That means you can choose to actively listen to the music and give yourself performance tips like, “Go down on her during the entirety of ‘To Here Knows When’ and she will be pleased.” Yes, she will.
17. Because in a world full of crap, you’ll always have Loveless.
Job got you down? Family problems? Car troubles? Terrible kids? Unpaid bills? Lost at the casino? Lost in the wilderness? Any number of bad things can throw off our little lives. We must take comfort where we can find it. Puppies, kittens, a warm cup of coffee, a starry night. And Loveless. It’s nice. Let it comfort and shelter you while you make a little love.
18. Because Brian Eno hasn’t yet made an ambient album specifically for intercourse.
He’s made gorgeous ambient albums for airports, for being on land and for freakin’ Thursday afternoons, but Mr. God of Sound hasn’t ventured in the business of bumpin’ uglies. What gives, Eno? The closest we have is Loveless, as it’s painstakingly produced and Eno-approved. Check out this mini-documentary where it mentions Eno’s love of “Soon.”
19. Because you can use the Loveless trick on multiple separate partners.
Don’t get caught up searching through your iTunes collection with your pants down. It’s a boner-killer when somebody holds up the fun times because they’re trying to choose the perfect accompanying music. Scroll straight to Loveless, friends. Your partner will think that you picked it just for them, when really it’s your go-to selection for whenever you’re acting as DJ BJ.
20. Because it’s a good soundtrack for anything, really.
Are you depressed? In love? Sleepy? Just waking up? Feeling lazy? Feeling energized? Hiding from the world? Blasting music in your car? Alone with your thoughts on the train? Surfing the web late at night? All of these situations are perfect for Loveless, that’s why it’s your best friend. Go ahead, have sex with your best friend. We won’t tell.
21. Because it will make a great story for your friends.
This works in the same way as Seinfeld’s famous “yada yada yada” as a conversational shortcut. Your friend says, “So, how did your date go last night?” You say, “Oh, you know. We went out to dinner and then to a bar and then we went to his house and he put on Loveless and I woke up with knots in my hair.”
22. Because it will never be ruined by a bad boyfriend or girlfriend.
Music frequently gets tangled up with our emotions. Certain albums often make you remember bummer times or mess with your head. But bang to Loveless in 2016 and this won’t happen. Why? Because if you currently listen to this album you’ve probably also been listening to it for the past 25 years, so it’s already associated with some other jerk from your past. Score!
23. Because you want to have sex with Kevin Shields.
It’s a bummer that it’s probably never going to happen. He has that super shy thing that makes you just want to dirty him up, but the chances of you getting to hook up with the God of Shoegaze are slim to none. So listen to Loveless instead. He thought of you, the listener, while he was making it, so you can think of him while you’re… making it. Totally works.
24. Because it’s great all the way through.
Some albums are 95% great but then there’s just that one song that you just can’t stand and you must skip past it every time. But Loveless wouldn’t do you like that. It might take you on a magical carpet ride to outer space and back, but would never interrupt your sexual flow. It’s perfect from beginning to end. Just like you.
25. Because, I mean, have you heard this thing? Dang.
link: Riverfront Times
How Halloween Costumes Reflect Music Culture History
By Jaime Lees
Mon, Oct 31, 2016
History is interesting, but how history is recorded and decided on is mind-blowing. And the history of fashion is particularly intriguing because the clothes that we choose, personally, often say more about our time and place in the world than they do about us individually.
The fashion in each decade eventually becomes distilled down into one singular style that the entire decade is remembered by — this is how we know how to “dress like” a decade when we’re attending a themed party.
Halloween costumes present the easiest way to see this reduction. Visit any Halloween store and you’ll find costumes that represent each modern decade starting (generally) with the 1950s when television began to freely enter our lives and started to influence the goals and attitudes of Americans en masse.
With television we were all suddenly plugged into the same feed, and it was a visual feed, at that. And the introduction of television combined with a booming economy created the rise of mass consumer culture. In an instant, Americans became aware of the basic standards for how they should dress and, more importantly, what was in style.
A 1950s costume is the first decade-representing costume to show up in most Halloween selections. Traditionally, the 1950s costume is a bobby-soxer or a rock and roll-loving greaser. A 1960s costume is some kind of hippie Woodstock ensemble with tie-dye garments and long flowing hair. A 1970s costume is generally a disco dancer with flared pants and platform shoes. An 1980s costume is a new waver or some neon-sprinkled version of Cyndi Lauper or Madonna. And the most recent addition, the 1990s costume, is a grunge kid with dirty hair and a flannel shirt.
But what do all of these styles have in common? They’re all interpretations of what was seen as the popular youth music movement of the time. (And, more specifically, the popular white youth music movement of the time.)
Obviously, music influences fashion in every decade (and vice-versa), but it’s the fashion that’s most closely associated with music culture that ends up sticking around for years to come. This means that music fashion ends up representing entire decades of complicated American culture to future generations.
These broad interpretations of popular music cultures (rocker, hippie, disco, new-wave, grunge) don’t represent all that was happening in each decade, of course. For example, many people dressed like The Replacements in the ‘80s, with worn-in jeans and thrift store plaid shirts. But you’d never wear that laid-back ensemble to an ‘80s party, you’d wear mesh and technicolor hair spray and cheap rubber bracelets.
And there were proper punk fashions in the 1970s, but in a Halloween store a punk costume would be labeled as “punk” not “’70s.” Tartan trousers, spiked hair and dog collar necklaces would never be marketed as a “‘70s” costume, because our idea of what a 1970s costume is has already been decided. (And — it’s worth noting — a ’70s costume is specifically Studio 54, not Soul Train. Just like a ‘90s costume is Nirvana, not Boyz II Men.)
So how will the next decade in line be represented in Halloween costumes? The span of time from January 2000 to December 2009 doesn’t even have a proper agreed-upon name, much less an obviously cohesive fashion distinction. The first decade of the 2000s (let’s just call them the aughties) is too close in our rear-view mirror to gain any real perspective on how the fashion will eventually be perceived. Styles seemed hideous and all over the place (think: Juicy Couture track suits, thong panties on display, low-rise everything, embellished anything) but what will surely go down in history as the most important marker for that decade, culturally, was the rise of the modern internet. In the span of those ten years, the average American went from hardly checking their email to putting their entire lives online and easily connecting with a global community.
Taking this idea of Internet Omnipresence and combining it with our formula for what types of fashion will eventually stick (the fashion most associated with the popular youth music culture at the time), the only reasonable projection for what an aughties Halloween costume will be this: the “scene kid.” You know, a proto-emo youth. One of those MySpace-using androgynous creatures with tight pants, a white belt, raccoon eyeliner and flat-ironed hair.
It’s highly likely that fifty years from now an aughties Halloween costume will look just like Pete Wentz. Our great-grandchildren will think that for an entire decade we were all taking tragic bathroom mirror selfies with our bangs in our eyes while we listened to My Chemical Romance or ultra crappy electroclash concoctions.
link: Riverfront Times
Because Chris Baricevic Is Putting St. Louis on the Musical Map
One of 75 reasons we love St. Louis in 2016
By Jaime Lees
Chris Baricevic is just 30 years old, but he’s already been the steady heartbeat of the south St. Louis music scene for more than a decade. The label he started eleven years ago, Big Muddy Records, is one of the region’s most revered musical organizations, the St. Louis equivalent to Jack White’s Detroit-born Third Man Records.
Big Muddy is not some vanity DIY project. It isn’t even a “boutique” label. Its artists are robust, well-practiced, world-class musicians ready to greet the world — Baricevic’s long roster has included Pokey LaFarge, Jack Grelle, Sidney Street Shakers, Rum Drum Ramblers, the Hooten Hallers, Southwest Watson Sweethearts, 7 Shot Screamers, Arson for Candy, the Monads and the Vultures.
Baricevic sees his role at the label as a hybrid of motivational producer and a spiritual mentor, but he’s more like a seasoned mountaineering guide, willing to carry the baggage so his artists can climb higher and claim their own victories. Baricevic often takes on the role of therapist or shaman (or maybe even mother) when leading his charges. He encourages them to develop their talents, embrace their community and to create art without ego.
His responsibilities go deeper than his current bands, though. He’s been the executor of beloved St. Louis musician/photographer Bob Reuter’s estate since Reuter’s 2013 death, and he’s also currently in the process of licensing the music of early 1960s local blues legend Henry Townsend for reissue. Baricevic does this all quietly and without fanfare. In fact, he’s so accustomed to staying out of the spotlight that he’s only now getting around to performing his own music with his new band, Kristo & the Strange Places.
Pure-hearted and a bit of a romantic, Baricevic’s humble exterior conceals a man who is naturally ambitious and seemingly inexhaustible. Authenticity is at the core of everything that he does, and he explains that he only cares to be involved with music that is “screaming from the soul.”
This St. Louis native has big plans for the city to “start to claim our creative landscape.” He promises, “If I get the resources I need, there is nothing to stop us.” Believe that.
link: Riverfront Times