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.”
David Bowie is an Alien. No, really. We Mean it.
I’ve had this idea marinating for a long time. Like, years. I’ve floated it to various sources and it’s been met with reactions that vary from amused to annoyed, but I’m dead serious: I really think David Bowie is an alien. An extraterrestrial. A being from another planet.
I’m kind of into conspiracy theories. To some degree, many people will entertain one theory or another. I think we can all agree that there was a cover-up involving JFK assassination, that electoral fraud is widespread and that Freemasons run the world. (And, c’mon, Paul is dead, right?) But I’m also pretty interested in lesser known conspiracies. Just a few weeks ago, I got really into researching the “Bill Hicks is now Alex Jones” idea. And don’t even get me started on green fireballs and Project Twinkle.
But this Bowie thing is a different kind of conspiracy theory. And by that I mean that it seems to be a theory supported only by two people in the world: me, and his former wife, Angela Bowie. I’m not sure why this is, because it seems dead obvious to me, but I’m willing to share my findings in the name of scientific research.
I think this is a case of hiding in plain sight. Since the very beginning of his career, Bowie has presented himself as a space age being from another universe, a star from the stars. There is scarcely a Bowie song or piece of art that does not reference space or aliens: Space Oddity, Starman, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Moonage Daydream, Hallo Spaceboy, Earthling, Life on Mars, Loving the Alien… the list could go on and on. (And if you can show me that “Oh, You Pretty Things!” is about any subject other than the impending extraterrestrial colonization of Earth, then I’m all ears.)
His newest album, The Next Day, is released today and it continues along this theme of space. When the second single off of the album, “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” was released, I threw my hands up in exasperation. Dude! I get you! I hear you loud and clear, Bowie. You ain’t from ’round these parts.
This kind of overkill involving otherworldly oversaturation is suspicious to me. It’s like turning Area 51 into a tourist destination for UFO enthusiasts. If you take something like this and make it so blatant and so cheesy that only a nut job could possibly believe that it’s true, then it is automatically unjustifiably discredited.
One of Bowie’s personas, Ziggy Stardust, was represented as an alien who visited Earth in the form of a rock star. In the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth, Bowie played an alien who crash lands on Earth, becomes highly successful and well known and then records messages to his home planet that he hopes will be sent through the radio. Sheesh. Obvious, much?
Bowie’s recent role on Earth is to act as an internationally successful music icon with unprecedented staying power. The job of “rock star” really is the perfect cover for an alien: he can easily influence the masses, any odd or outrageous behavior is expected and he has the ability to freely spread his alien seed among unsuspicious females. (Groupies.)
Glam rock, specifically, helped Bowie to blend in. Seen as a fashion trailblazer, he could appear weird and shiny and futuristic and he was just seen as a leader among the glittered masses. Aliens must be able to see the future, too, because they seem to have set Bowie’s human time clock improperly. He’s always been a little bit ahead of the trends, be it through embracing glam, utilizing electronica or pushing new genres and styles. Recently when he’s caught by paparazzi on the streets, he seems to always be wearing a version of an all gray outfit— is it the uniform of the future? I guess we’ll find out.
Even now, his health, productivity and good looks just don’t make any sense. He’s aged very well– a little too well, if you ask me. In his work, he’s always shown a unique ability to collaborate with the unique, the talented, the odd and the unexplainable. His long-time bass goddess, Gail Ann Dorsey, is too amazing to be real and what’s up with his alien twin sister, Tilda Swinton? He finally broke down and featured her in his new music video. Again, putting the obvious right in our faces as to avoid suspicion.
And how in the heck did he manage to record his entire new album in secret? In the age of the Internet over-sharing and social media, where everyone’s damn sandwich is considered news, keeping a secret of this scale is unthinkable. Clearly, there is some kind of mind control at work here.
In the alien’s personal life, his choice of mates is also suspect. His rumored relationship with Iggy Pop, explored in the film Velvet Goldmine (the greatest accidental pornography of our generation), hints at both a network of gifted beings and the from-the-stars theory. In the movie, there’s a magical absinthe-colored crystal from the sky that gives those who possess it some kind of amazing power to dazzle people with charisma. It is passed on and on, from Oscar Wilde to Iggy Pop to Brian Ferry to David Bowie.
Bowie is currently Earth-married to Iman, a supermodel. With their big heads and long limbs, supermodels are the closest thing we have on this planet to an alien-looking female. But his former wife, Angela, is the only person to publicly discuss his alien-ness. She wrote a book in which she straight up described her own husband as an “alien” who was “lit from within” and “one of the Light People.” (Backstage Passes: Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie, pages 56-57, check it out.)
Bowie, I believe you. You aren’t from here. You’ve said it a million times in a thousand different ways. I’m receiving your signal and I welcome you and what I assume are other super-hotties from your planet.
So, what do you guys think? Do you think interesting physical traits like his intense, uneven eyes are a reflection of something non-human? Or that his hospitalization in 2004 for an angioplasty was a cover for something else? Or that his long-time refusal to fly in airplanes should be seen as a distrust of subpar human flight technology?
And while we’re at it, what do you think about Prince? He’s from the same planet, right? Yeah, I thought so. Keep exploring, people of Earth. The truth is out there.
link: Riverfront Times
Ten Songs For Hating On Stupid Idiot Valentine’s Day
By Jaime Lees
Wed., Feb. 13 2013
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, y’all. It’s time to hate on all of this love bullshit and have sex with people that you don’t even like.
But what music should accompany your dirty deeds or heartbroken feelings?
I’ve used my decades-long experience as an expert soundtrack-chooser to bring you this highly-recommended list of tunes to get you through this most terrible and torturous of holidays. I tapped ten of my all-time favorite artists for inspiration. Here you go:
The Ronettes – “Is This What I Get For Loving You?“
Key lyric: “It’s such a cruel world to be alone in”
When in doubt, turn to the classics. The Ronettes’ “Is This What I Get For Loving You?” is not just one of the best anti-love songs ever, it might be the best anti-love song ever. The Spector girl-group harmonies make the heart shrivel in unmeasurable proportions. Lyrics like “And now I’m so afraid I’m losing you” bring us all right back to our worst, most heartbreaking moments.
The Cardigans – “And Then You Kissed Me II“
Key lyric: “I tell you now like I told you before: Love is a powerful force”
My favorite Cardigans album is Gran Turismo, but it does not reflect the depth of the Swedish band’s love-hating. For that, you need to bust out SuperExtraGravity. “Losing a Friend” and “I Need Some Fine Wine (And You, You Need to be Nicer)” are for hatin’, but give “And Then You Kissed Me II” a spin. With lines like “Your name used to taste so sweet / Then you beat the love right out of me” it is bitter until the end.
Iggy Pop – “Some Weird Sin“
Key lyric: “Some weird sin / Just to relax me”
Forget making love. You just want to get laid. You want to give in to all of your worst desires and just get f-u-c-k-e-d. If you don’t have a sexy little thing and you just want to go to the bar and then pick up some one-night-only, then this is your song. If things get too straight, you can’t bear it and you are searching for some weird sin, son. Hopefully it’s weird enough that you forget this whole ugly day. This song comes on, and Good Lord, it is time to bang.
Sex Robots – “We’re Thru!“
Key lyric: “My girlfriend’s in therapy / I did too many dog shit things”
St. Louis band Sex Robots always gets right to the point. The songs are short and oh-so-sweet and this song blasts though all of those negative, crushed emotions with simple honesty. (“I think she’s beautiful she thinks I’m sliiiiiime!”)
AA Bondy – “A Slow Parade“
Key lyric: “Tide will bring and tide will take / Find another horse to break”
He’s not very well known, but this singer-songwriter single-handedly renewed my faith in new music some years back. His songs always remind us that all good love can go bad, and that all bad love can make you weaker.
Patti Smith – “Pissing in a River“
Key lyric: “What more can I give you, to make this thing grow? / Don’t turn your back now, I’m talking to you”
One of her most depressing performances, the poet Smith embraces the full emotion and the weird power that one can find in heartbreak.
Teenage Fanclub – “Mellow Doubt“
Key lyric: “I’m in trouble / And I know it / What I’m feeling / I can’t show it / But these feelings / Don’t go away”
Grand Prix is a emotional ride of an album, and “Mellow Doubt” is the song that you want if you’re feeling heartbroken. The song captures that miserable, regretful feeling perfectly. Think: driving in the cold winter rain with the windows up while an old lover is packing up your shit at their house.
R.E.M. – “Country Feedback“
Key Lyric: “You wear me out / You. Wear. Me. Out.”
R.E.M. was a band that was about feelings. This track off of one of the bands darkest albums, Out of Time, is slow and tentative and tiptoeing, much like an elongated breakup. (“It’s crazy what you could’ve had”) The song is sad, even gut-wrenching, and all of the obtuse lyrical dances that R.E.M. was known for are cast away in favor of a pure expression of grieving.
Beach Boys – “God Only Knows“
Key lyric: “If you should ever leave me… the world could show nothing to me / So what good would living do me?”
A deep song with conflicting messages, wrapped up in a beautiful package. Completely parallel, emotion-wise, with “Wouldn’t it Be Nice?” Brian Wilson is a genius.
Otis Redding – “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)“
Key lyric: “You are tired and your love is growing cold / My love is growing stronger, as our affair grows old”
An anti-love song list wouldn’t be complete without him, so we look to the king of heartbreak, Otis Redding. Otis always understands. I want to find the woman who made him so sad and bash in her face.
link: Riverfront Times
Ten Songs To Get Busy To On Valentine’s Day
By Jaime Lees
Wed., Feb. 13 2013
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, y’all. It’s time to get all up in your significant other or your someone special.
But what music should accompany your dirty deeds or love-struck feelings?
I’ve used my decades-long experience as an expert soundtrack-chooser to bring you this highly-recommended list of tunes to get you feeling lovey and freeee-kay. I tapped ten of my all-time favorite artists for inspiration. Here you go:
The Ronettes – “Be My Baby“
Key lyric: “I’ll make you happy, baby, just wait and see / For every kiss you give me, I’ll give you three”
When in doubt, turn to the classics. The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” is not just one of the best love songs ever, it might be the best song ever. The Spector girl-group harmonies make the heart swell in unmeasurable proportions. Lyrics like “The night we met I knew I needed you so” bring us all right back to our best, most hopeful moments.
The Cardigans – “And Then You Kissed Me“
Key lyric: “It hit me like never before / That love is a powerful force”
My favorite Cardigans album is Gran Turismo, but it does not reflect the height of the Swedish band’s lovey-dovey-ness. For that, you need to bust out Long Gone Before Daylight. “For What It’s Worth” and You’re the Storm” are for lovin’, but give “And Then You Kissed Me” a spin. With lines like “My heart overfloods,” it is super-duper smoochy squishy.
Iggy Pop – “Sixteen“
Key lyric: “Show you my explosion, sweet sixteen”
Forget making love. You just want to get laid. You want to give in to all of your worst desires and just get f-u-c-k-e-d. If you have a sexy little thing and you just want to go out to the bar and then get down and dirty, try out this naughty little number. You will both cream your jeans to lines like “Body and soul / I go crazy.” (Bonus points for lyrical nod to “leather boots.” Mmm-hmm.) This song comes on, and Good Lord, it is time to bang.
Sex Robots – “Think I’m In Love“
Key lyric: “I think I’m in love / I think I’m in la la la-la la la la la la la-la la la la la la-la-la la la la la la-la la la la love”
St. Louis band Sex Robots always gets right to the point. The songs are short and oh-so-sweet and this song blasts through all of those nervous, crushy emotions with simple honesty. (“I feel so outta my miiiiind!”)
AA Bondy – “There’s a Reason“
Key lyric: “The love that’s tearing you down / Is the love that will turn you around / Say it is so”
He’s not very well known, but this singer-songwriter single-handedly renewed my faith in new music some years back. His songs always remind us that all bad love can go good, and that all good love can make you stronger.
Patti Smith – “Because the Night“
Key lyric: “Love is an angel disguised as lust / Here in our bed until the morning comes”
One of her most uplifting performances, the poet Smith embraces the full emotion and the weird power that one can find in love.
Teenage Fanclub – “Sparky’s Dream“
Key lyric: “If she lived in space, man / I’d build a plane”
Grand Prix is an emotional ride of an album, and “Sparky’s Dream” is the song that you want if you’re feeling like you’re in love. It song captures that buoyant, effervescent feeling perfectly. Think: driving in the warm summer sunshine with the windows down while a new lover is at your side singing along.
R.E.M. – “At My Most Beautiful“
Key lyric: “At my most beautiful / I count your eyelashes… secretly”
R.E.M. was a band that was about feelings. This track off of one of the bands sunniest albums, Up, is slow and tentative and bashful, much like young love. (“I read bad poetry into your machine / I save your messages just to hear your voice”) The song is bashful, even tender, and all of the obtuse lyrical dances that R.E.M. was known for are cast away in favor of a pure expression of romance.
Beach Boys – “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?“
Key lyric: “Maybe if we thinkandwishandhopeandpray it might come true”
A deep song with conflicting messages, wrapped up in a beautiful package. Completely parallel, emotion-wise, with “God Only Knows.” Brian Wilson is a genius.
Otis Redding – “That’s How Strong My Love Is“
Key lyric: “I’ll be the rainbow after the tears are gone / Wrap you in my colors and keep you warm”
A love song list wouldn’t be complete without him, so we look to the king of love, Otis Redding. Otis always understands. I want to find the woman who made him so happy and send her some flowers.
link: Riverfront Times
David Fricke (a veteran writer at Rolling Stone) made no effort to hide his delight and took the opportunity to ask many intense, discussion-provoking questions. Though he made every attempt to contain himself, Iggy Pop commanded 90% of the talking time. When he managed to pass questions on to his bandmates, guitarist Ron Asheton released hilarious antidotes. I fully realized how old the Stooges were when drummer Scott Asheton finally spoke. Though his drumming might just be as hard-hitting and solid as the old days, his speaking voice is the measured, scratchy voice of an old man. Betraying his age once again, Pop spewed forth witty observations about topics such as rock & roll legends (the Velvet Underground’s John Cale “looks like the antagonist from Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls”), his own fashion adventures (he purchased his legendary dog collar from “the bowzer boutique”) and the state of new music (“contemporary tuna melt standard”). Pop also casually deconstructed classic Stooges tunes. For example, in the song “No Fun,” the riff was inspired by belly dancing, the construction is lifted from Johnny Cash’s “Walk The Line,” the “no” is from the Rolling Stone’s “Satisfaction” and the “fun” is from the Beach Boys’ “Fun Fun Fun.” Who knew?
“Live, the Stooges are exactly as you would imagine. Pop is out front comanding all the attention, and the other band members are in the back, dutifully mixing up the magic.” [River Front Times]
The Stooges, at Stubb’s
It’s hard to find the line between journalistic appreciation and gushing fan girl. There have been quite a few occasions when I’ve had to put aside my love of Converse-wearing guitarists or cowbell-crushing drummers in order to sound more professional or just to get my point across.
So, here’s my confession: Finding objectivity is especially hard when writing this. Not to be too Rob Gordon in High Fidelity, but the Stooges are one of my all-time, top-five favorite bands. In my heart, this is real rock & roll. It’s dirty. It’s raw. It’s loud. It’s got soul. And I think the riff from “T.V. Eye” might still be the hottest thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life. See? “Hottest”? Forgive me, I can’t stop myself.
I’d been budgeting my energy all week. Since the Stooges were scheduled to take the stage just after midnight on the last official night of SXSW, I planned to combine all of my cries of, “Let’s sit down” and “I really should get back to the hotel” and cash them in for one big “I CAN DO THIS.” When it was time to stand among the crowd, get smashed in one place for hours, push off burly punk-rock guys and survive the slow torture of completely unremarkable opening bands (Kings of Leon, Spoon), I was ready.
Through the miracle of text messaging, I met up with a friend and we cruised down to the very middle of the crowd, about 30 feet from the stage. We sat down on the gravel and made plans to stick together when times got tough. Just like all girlfriends, we promised to never to let a man get between us; and if he did, we’d elbow him. We had three-and-a-half hours to wait.
After each band ended and their fans left, we’d jump up and claim new ground. During their sets, we’d worm our way even closer. Finally, after we’d been standing for more than two hours pressed against old friends and new comrades, we were about four feet from the stage barrier. Then the lights went down and the crowd went crazy. Instantly, I knew we were dead. There was no way we were going to survive the full show in this pit. We’ve both been through things like this plenty of times before, but this time the feeling was different. It wasn’t just aggro, testosterone-fueled raging; it was full-on insane fandom — which is way more dangerous and unpredictable.
Scott and Ron Asheton came strolling out on stage with honorary Stooge (and fellow rock royalty) Mike Watt (The Minutemen, fIREHOSE) on bass. Iggy Pop waited for the beginning drum hits of “Loose” before he came jumping out, already shaking and gyrating to the thump of the bass. There’s no way of knowing how this lean, muscular 59-year-old gets his endless spastic energy, but I like to think it’s from a deal with the devil. Pop’s senior serpentine is more genuine and sexy than Axl Rose’s ever was.
Live, the Stooges are exactly as you would imagine. Pop is out front comanding all the attention, and the other band members are in the back, dutifully mixing up the magic. After “Loose” came a string of Stooges classics, among them “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “T.V. Eye” and “1970.” It was about this time that we knew we had to get out of the pit for fear of grievous bodily injury. We moved off to the left where it was still crowded, but no longer a battlefield. From here we watched Pop jump into the audience quite a few times and cause a crowd-crushing wave of bodies whenever he was near. For the majority of the show, he sang with his tight jeans hanging half off, threatening to expose Little Iggy at any moment. His sweaty performance is as fearless and wreckless as it was 35 years ago. And Pop’s full-bodied entertainment made newer Stooges songs much easier for the crowd to get into. They surged and slammed to “Trollin’,” “ATM,” “My Idea Of Fun” and “She Took My Money” just like they were proven classics.
After at least an hour of non-stop… uh… rawk… they took the customary pre-encore break. We prepared ourselves for all hell to break loose. When they came back out on stage, Pop asked for dancers to come to the front and “dance with the asshole Stooges.” We all looked at eachother in confusion. What does he mean? Push forward? Is he asking us to hop the barrier? Should we hop the barrier? Just then he made it more clear by saying: “Come up here!” We needed no more words of encouragement. My friend and I were up and over the speaker stack before security could move to stop us. Suddenly, we were dancing with about 30 other people on stage to “No Fun,” jumping up and down, screaming and shaking a little ass. We got close enough to sing in the microphone and wrap our hungry hands around Iggy himself. All too soon the song was over and we dancers were all standing on stage staring at each other, fully in shock. There was nothing else to do — we licked Iggy’s sweat off of our hands. How’s that for commitment to an article?