nate patrin.

October 2, 2009, 7:18 pm
Filed under: Criticism, Music | Tags: ,

So: Pitchfork posted their complete list of the top 200 albums of the 2000s. I’m neither overjoyed nor underwhelmed with the final results — I mean, Kid A/Funeral isn’t the most exciting 1-2 no matter where it shows up — but it is a pretty clear indicator of what happens when you get an aggregate of a couple dozen critics with somewhat divergent tastes: the mid-ranking consensus picks outrank the high-ranking individual favorites. I mean, I voted in this thing and I’ve got reason to be disappointed about the way some rankings panned out, even if at the end of the day it’s not really a granite-etched validation/invalidation of my taste or anyone else’s — at its core it’s really just a staff poll with some interesting blurbs. (Which, in my opinion, are worth more attention than the rankings themselves.) Anyhow, my ballot is reproduced after the jump, with the final rankings denoted in parentheses (“DNP” stands for “Did Not Place”, meaning the album in question didn’t show up in the top 200).

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June 25, 2009, 5:37 pm
Filed under: Music

April 7, 2009, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Criticism, Music

1. There is some musical act you’ve heard of but not actually really listened to before. His/her/their first/second/sixth album is rumored by your critic pals and anyone else with the tendency to closely follow the album-leak scene to be Hot Shit. Since the act is a foreign entity to you, possibly even outside your general area of interest or at least on the back burner thanks to an ongoing obsession with some different microgenre or artist or scene or another, you hear the buzz but do not follow up on it.

2. Reviews start to pour in. They tend to be 0.5 points or half a star or a “+” away from the highest attainable score used by that particular review system. Names you haven’t paid much attention to previously are attached to feats of artistic profundity and spectacular craftsmanship, and are subsequently compared to other great musicians (many of which you like) or maybe films or physical sensations or even entire periods in one’s life where everything is as good as it will ever be. You, the non-fan, are now intrigued.

3. You download the album. It is, in all likelihood, a minor expenditure if that. There is a high possibility that you simply download it off a P2P network or a torrent or Rapidshare, therefore taking money out of the equation entirely and putting your total potential lost investment solely in the realm of time.

4. The album stinks. It’s grating. You don’t get it. You threw it on when you were walking outside in 5 degree weather or riding on crowded public transportation distracted by a bunch of chattering cell-phone idiots or getting decimated at a video game. This music is grating, it’s wrong, it’s derivative, it’s stupid, it’s completely out of your comfort zone, fuck this shit. Deleted.

5. Vindication! Blogs have caught on to the fallacy of hype and they, too, are calling bullshit! Emboldened by the notion that you are not, in fact, alone, you — like 10 or 40 or 275 others — weigh in with the fact that you cannot believe how anyone could like this garbage, that these stupid hipster douchebags will glom onto anything just to appear ahead of the curve when they could be listening to something less pretentious and, like, genuine.

6. You eventually forget about the album. “Eventually,” assuming you are not in the immediate vicinity of the end of the year and its deluge of critics’ and readers’ polls, is usually about two months. Possibly less time if you suddenly become attuned to an album you really like.

7. Another album has entered the hype cycle! Repeat steps 1-5.

8. HOWEVER, while you are on the brink of repeating step 6 with the album introduced in step 7, the album from step 1 suddenly reenters your mind. Maybe someone whose tastes you trust mentions it. Possibly you are simply bored and/or curious. You idly wonder if you did not give this hyped album enough of a chance. You download it for a second time, again at no cost to you monetarily.

9. The album turns out to be pretty okay. Not spectacular, but fine. Maybe somewhere between a third to half of the songs are removed from your library, never to be heard again, but the rest is tolerable. There may even be a song or two that get integrated into your “Favorites” playlist. You still don’t buy into the 9.x or the ****1/2 or the A, but you can at least get close enough to empathizing with someone that would like the album enough to give it that grade. You start caring less about the things in this album you don’t like and more about the things you appreciate.

This post brought to you by today’s revelation that I actually enjoy roughly 2/5 of Merriweather Post Pavilion.

2008×100: Disorientation We Can Believe In
January 14, 2009, 12:13 pm
Filed under: Music

Finally: my year-end 100-song playlist/mix. Not necessarily my top 100 — Young Jeezy didn’t create my favorite track of the year, and Erykah Badu’s way higher on my list than #100 — but a 100-artist, 100-song representation of what 2008 sounded like to me (with occasional allowances made for song-to-song flow over what was big, hence the Santogold “deep cut” and a still-great Roots track that isn’t “75 Bars”). Your mileage may vary, since you might actually like Matadorian trad-indie more than doom/sludge metal or minimal techno more than scuzzy electro trash, but this is my thing and maybe there’s some stuff on it that is also your thing. That would be cool.

1. Young Jeezy – My President (ft. Nas) (5:29)
2. Lil Wayne – A Milli (3:41)
3. T.I. – What’s Up, What’s Haapnin’ (5:01)
4. Bun-B – You’re Everything (ft. Rick Ross, David Banner, 8-Ball & MJG) (4:36)
5. Yo Majesty – Night Riders (3:27)
6. Dizzee Rascal – Driving With Nowhere to Go (3:56)
7. El-P – Krazy Kings 3 (4:19)
8. The Roots – Get Busy (ft. Dice Raw, Peedi Crakk & DJ Jazzy Jeff) (3:33)
9. Dr. Dooom – Simon (2:45)
10. Q-Tip – Move (5:49)
11. Illa J – We Here (4:09)
12. Black Milk – The Matrix (ft. Pharoahe Monch, Sean Price & DJ Premier) (3:45)
13. Jake One – The Truth (ft. Freeway & Brother Ali) (3:34)
14. Elzhi – Motown 25 (ft. Royce Da 5’9″) (3:57)
15. GZA/Genius – Groundbreaking (ft. Justice Kareem) (2:32)
16. Wale – The Kramer (4:13)
17. Nas – N.I.G.G.E.R. (The Slave and the Master) (4:32)
18. Jean Grae – #8 (2:24)
19. Madvillain – Borrowed Time (3:00)
20. Clinic – Tomorrow (DFA Remix) (7:51)
21. Lovelock – Don’t Turn Away (From My Love) (8:29)
22. Hatchback – Comets (5:35)
23. Lloyd – Girls Around the World (ft. Lil Wayne) (3:49)
24. Johnson&Jonson – Wow! (3:05)
25. Big Boi – Royal Flush (ft. Raekwon & Andre 3000) (3:17)
26. Flying Lotus – Golden Diva (4:01)
27. King Midas Sound – One Ting (Dabrye Remix) (4:12)
28. Cole Medina – Love You Inside Out (The Pinches Mix) (8:40)
29. Atmosphere – Wild Wild Horses (4:15)
30. Devin the Dude – I Can’t Make It Home (3:37)
31. Luomo – Lonely Music Co. (ft. Johanna Iivanainen) (5:28)
32. The Long Blondes – Too Clever By Half (4:25)
33. Spoon – Don’t You Evah (Ted Leo’s I Want It Hotter Remix) (4:00)
34. Rootah – Elders Version (3:59)
35. LV – CCTV (ft. Dandelion) (5:34)
36. Zomby – Mu5h (4:12)
37. Neil Landstrumm – Old Rabbits (3:53)
38. Skream – Hedd Banger (5:32)
39. Benga – Loose Synths (4:08)
40. The Bug – Warning (ft. Flowdan) (3:51)
41. Terror Danjah – Reloadz (ft. Durrty Goodz) (3:24)
42. JME – 123 (3:19)
43. Wiley – Wearing My Rolex (Club Edit) (2:43)
44. Gang Gang Dance – Princes (ft. Tinchy Stryder) (4:26)
45. Dances With White Girls – Everyone’s Got to Make a Living (5:56)
46. TRG – Broken Heart (Martyn’s DCM Remix) (5:51)
47. The Juan MacLean – Happy House (Original) (12:40)
48. The Whitest Boy Alive – Golden Cage (Fred Falke Remix) (8:28)
49. Poni Hoax – Images of Sigrid (5:15)
50. Ladytron – Runaway (4:50)
51. Booka Shade – Control Me (5:08)
52. Osborne – Downtown (5:41)
53. Matias Aguayo – Minimal (DJ Koze Maxi Version) (6:08)
54. Lindstrøm – Where You Go I Go Too (Part 2) (8:20)
55. Ne-Yo – Closer (3:54)
56. Le Le – Breakfast (5:40)
57. Plantlife – Lovetoy (3:59)
58. SebastiAn – Momy (4:12)
59. Justice – DVNO (Radio Edit) (3:13)
60. Estelle – American Boy (ft. Kanye West) (4:44)
61. Kanye West – Paranoid (ft. Mr. Hudson) (4:37)
62. Aeroplane – Whispers (ft. Kathy Diamond) (6:54)
63. Hercules & Love Affair – Blind (6:18)
64. Arcade Lover – Fantasy Lines (Original Mix) (6:27)
65. Seun Kuti & Fela’s Egypt 80 – Don’t Give That Shit to Me (9:22)
66. Nomo – Ghost Rock (6:00)
67. M.I.A. – Boyz (Remix) (ft. Jay-Z) (4:16)
68. DJ Donna Summer – Sweet Assed Child O’ Mine (4:21)
69. The Knux – Bang! Bang! (3:20)
70. TV on the Radio – Shout Me Out (4:15)
71. Cut Copy – So Haunted (4:29)
72. Dungen – Fredag (4:19)
73. Black Mountain – Evil Ways (3:25)
74. The Night Marchers – Who’s Lady R U? (4:06)
75. The Dirtbombs – Ever Lovin Man (2:45)
76. Jay Reatard – See/Saw (3:02)
77. Santogold – You’ll Find a Way (3:00)
78. The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound (3:09)
79. The Hold Steady – Constructive Summer (2:55)
80. Fucked Up – Twice Born (4:26)
81. Nine Inch Nails – 1,000,000 (3:56)
82. Bad Dudes – Cabana Boyzz, B.C. (2:07)
83. The Sword – Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians (3:35)
84. Harvey Milk – Barnburner (2:19)
85. Valient Thorr – Red Flag (2:58)
86. Disfear – Get It Off (3:17)
87. Boris – Hanate! (5:02)
88. Earth – Rise to Glory (5:46)
89. Torche – Amnesian (6:25)
90. Melvins – The Savage Hippy (3:34)
91. Drive-By Truckers – That Man I Shot (6:03)
92. Portishead – Threads (5:47)
93. M83 – Dark Moves of Love (3:18)
94. Solange – This Bird (6:07)
95. Quiet Village – Victoria’s Secret (3:32)
96. Raphael Saadiq – Oh Girl (3:34)
97. The Raconteurs – You Don’t Understand Me (4:53)
98. Beck – Chemtrails (4:40)
99. Gnarls Barkley – Little Better (3:07)
100. Erykah Badu – That Hump (5:24)

July 21, 2008, 10:48 am
Filed under: Music

“Chicago May Not Have Seemed Tired Last Night, But I Sure As Hell Was” might work. Or “The Hold Steady And/Or Standing For Eight Hours Straight Almost Killed Me”. As you can tell, the Craig Finn and Pals Good-Time Rock’n’Roll Jamboree made a pretty big impression on me, though they were hardly alone in their high-quality hell-yes stage show spectacularness. Here’s a quick, list-dependent (surprise, surprise) rundown of some highlights (and low points) of my festival experience — my first ever, inexplicably enough.

1) Meeting a whole lot of my fellow writers and finding out that they’re more or less down-to-earth cool people. Everyone from Ryan Schrieber to Amy Phillips to Joe Tangari to Stephen Deusner to Nitsuh Abebe — and a ton of other Pfork folks — struck me as the exact opposite of the aloof, arrogant indie-snob stereotype, and even though there were a lot of folks I unfortunately only managed to spend maybe five minutes with, tops, I’m looking forward to picking up where we left off sometime soon. Also had great (if sometimes brief) conversation with Maura Johnston, Jessica Suarez, Christopher Weingarten, Jeff Weiss and a host of other people that I sadly cannot immediately remember because my brain is stupid.

2) The train ride. I’m still in Chicago, so there’s the chance the trip home will be a world of crap, but my decision to save a few bucks and a big headache at the expense of time (16 hours round trip) has paid off so far: lots of cool scenery, plenty of legroom and a place to plug in my laptop so I can actually get some stuff done. Plus the check-in process is infinitely less of a headache than anything one has to go through at the airport.

3) The Bottom Lounge. This bar was a block or so from Union Park, which made it the de facto afterparty venue, and it’s a pretty cool venue — two levels, with seating/dining/club venue on the first floor and a spacious barroom/dance floor and a patio on the second. I spent most of my time upstairs, and the atmosphere makes it the kind of place you’d want to bring tourists or shoot a “we are in Chicago” movie/TV show: there’s an El train line right outside the front window, and the patio has a ridiculously photogenic view of the skyline, with the Sears Tower front and center. I didn’t bother going all-out on the whole drinking thing so I can’t attest too much to their beverage quality, but it seems like a pretty solid place overall.

4) Ghostface and Raekwon getting bumped to the rear stage. Yeah, it was a slight — especially since their spot on one of the main stages was taken by the Dodos (the Dodos?) — but on the other hand: shade, and lots of it.

5) The dozens upon dozens of photos I took, most of which are somewhere between salvageable and amazing. I’ll post some later, probably via Flickr.

1) My feet. I kind of underestimated how problematic it’d be to spend eight hours a day actually standing — I remember doing it pretty often at some of my earlier jobs, but that was something like ten years ago and I have since been rendered weak and feeble by desk work and society’s general insistence that you sit your ass down for as much time as possible. My adidas walked through concert doors and roamed all over coliseum floors, but they provided dick as far as arch support goes.

2) Boris’ short set. They melted brains with total rock power action, but only for about twenty minutes, possibly owing to the fact that they were playing a club gig on Sunday and/or the fact that it was something like 85% humidity.

3) Missing all but the last five minutes of Cut Copy’s (much-belated) set — pushed back due to customs issues at the airport — and the entirety of the King Khan/Jay Reatard/Bradford Cox batshit all-star superjam that kept the crowd entertained in the interim. Hopefully it’s all been preserved on video for posterity and will show up on later.

4) The intermittent but annoying rain on Saturday. Made worse later that night; Grayson Currin mentioned that he was at a No Age basement show and got word that they were fifteen seconds away from getting flooded — after which he made note of all the cords on the floor and got out of there in a hurry.

5) Not getting much of a chance to get any touristy stuff in. I saw Millenium Park, since there was a pre-festival concert taking place there, but other than that I missed out on seeing some of the area museums or going to a baseball game.

In chronological order:

1) PUBLIC ENEMY. Fucking killed it — Nation of Millions in its entirety; “Shut ‘Em Down” and “Public Enemy No. 1” and the set-closing double-whammy of “Fight the Power” into a cover of The Isley Brothers’ “Fight the Power”. Chuck D still sounds like the most commanding MC in the world; Flav reminded us he was a reality TV star but made everyone forget that fact anyways.

2) JAY REATARD. I never saw the Sorry Ma/Stink-era Replacements in concert, what with me being in kindergarten and all, but I think this set made up for it. A reminder of why I still give a shit about punk rock even when every other impulse tells me it’s not my scene.

3) THE HOLD STEADY. The surest thing in live rock shows today. Concluded with an amazing rendition of “Killer Parties”.

4) KING KHAN & THE SHRINES. Dude more or less made it his mission to be the festival’s show-stealer, riding around the grounds on the back of a Carryall park vehicle, rocking a Viking helmet and waving his fist in the air. Dude is a soul-garage maniac in hot pants and a cape who makes Ian Svenonious look and sound like Leonard Cohen, and his stage banter is priceless. I would gladly pay $50 to see two hours of this act in a club.

5) GHOSTFACE & RAEKWON. I’ve seen ’em before, and I must’ve heard all those Cuban Linx classics a fistful of times during their sets, but that doesn’t make it any less energizing. Almost got ruined for me by the airhead ohmigawd-types standing behind me (during one of Ghost’s brief addressing-the-audience interludes, where he was talking about how they’d just flown in from Europe, one of these ditzes yelled “LESS TALK MORE ROCK” — barf), but you cannot stop the Wu, even if you push ’em to the back. When I headed off to see Spiritualized with a few minutes left in their set, I could still hear ’em all the way across the park.

July 16, 2008, 11:42 am
Filed under: Music | Tags: ,

As I mentioned previously, I am going to be in Chicago at the Pitchfork Music Festival from Thursday evening through Monday morning. I think I’ve lucked out with this year’s schedule, since not only are there few-to-no moments where I am stuck with having to choose between three bands I don’t care about, there are also few moments where I have to make a super-tough decision that will lead me to completely miss a band I like. (The biggest conundrums are the Hold Steady at 7pm vs. Jarvis Cocker at 8pm on Saturday, which should be solvable by the fact that the Hold Steady comes to the Twin Cities a lot more frequently than Jarvis Cocker, and Sunday’s Cut Copy vs. Spoon conflict. There’s also the potential downer of having to leave an hour into Boris’ set to catch King Khan & the Shrines.)

July 3, 2008, 1:30 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags:

I thought I already did this “favorite album of each year of your life” exercise sometime, somewhere, some years ago. But in case I didn’t, here’s my current version. As a special bonus, I’m throwing in singles and obscure/underrated/overlooked favorites, ’cause I feel like it. Enjoy this perplexing juxtaposition of famous rap records, club/pop dance stuff and indie rock/new wave/Britpop/nu-psych.

1977: Steely Dan, Aja; Parliament, “Flash Light”; Mandre, s/t

1978: Van Halen, s/t; Giorgio Moroder, “Chase”; Parlet, Pleasure Principle

1979: The Clash, London Calling; Machine, “There But for the Grace of God”; Candido, Dancin’ & Prancin’

1980: The Clash, Sandinista!; Prince, “Dirty Mind”; Defunkt, s/t

1981: Kraftwerk, Computer World; Rick James, “Give It to Me Baby”; Scientist, Scientist Meets the Space Invaders

1982: Michael Jackson, Thriller; Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force, “Planet Rock”; Prince Jammy, Prince Jammy Destroys the Invaders*

1983: Madonna, s/t; Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel, “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It); ESG, Come Away With ESG

1984: Prince, Purple Rain; Van Halen, “Jump”; The Treacherous Three, s/t

1985: New Order, Low-Life; Doug E. Fresh, “The Show”; Mantronix, s/t

1986: Run-DMC, Raising Hell; Beastie Boys, “It’s the New Style”; Just-Ice, Back to the Old School

1987: Boogie Down Productions, Criminal Minded; Prince, “U Got the Look”; Just-Ice, Kool & Deadly (Justicisms)**

1988: Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back; Eric B. & Rakim, “Follow the Leader”; Stetsasonic, In Full Gear***

1989: The Beastie Boys, Paul’s Boutique; Public Enemy, “Fight the Power”; Low Profile, We’re in This Together

1990: Eric B. & Rakim, Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em; Brand Nubian, “All for One”; D-Nice, Call Me D-Nice

1991: Massive Attack, Blue Lines; A Tribe Called Quest ft. Leaders of the New School, “Scenario”; Ragga Twins, Reggae Owes Me Money

1992: Eric B. & Rakim, Don’t Sweat the Technique; Pete Rock & CL Smooth, “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.); Diamond & the Psychotic Neurotics, Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop

1993: The Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers); KRS-One, “Sound of Da Police”; Black Moon, Enta Da Stage

1994: Nas, Illmatic; OutKast, “Git Up, Git Out”; Bay B Kane, The Guardian of Ruff

1995: Genius/GZA, Liquid Swords; Pulp, “Common People”; Big L, Lifestyles Ov Da Poor and Dangerous

1996: OutKast, ATLiens; Beck, “The New Pollution”; The Juggaknots, s/t

1997: The Chemical Brothers, Dig Your Own Hole; The Notorious B.I.G., “Hypnotize”; Faze Action, Plans & Designs

1998: Massive Attack, Mezzanine; OutKast, “Rosa Parks”; Hieroglyphics, 3rd Eye Vision

1999: MF DOOM, Operation Doomsday; Basement Jaxx, “Red Alert”; Mike Ladd, Welcome to the Afterfuture

2000: Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele; Wu-Tang Clan, “I Can’t Go to Sleep”; Lifter Puller, Fiestas + Fiascos

2001: Daft Punk, Discovery; The Strokes, “Hard to Explain”; Res, How I Do

2002: The Roots, Phrenology; Clipse, “Grindin'”; Comets on Fire, Field Recordings from the Sun

2003: Basement Jaxx, Kish Kash; Dizzee Rascal, “I Luv U”; Burnt Sugar, Black Sex Y’all Liberation & Bloody Random Violets

2004: Sonic Youth, Sonic Nurse; Annie, “Heartbeat”; Soulwax, Any Minute Now

2005: M.I.A., Arular; Three 6 Mafia, “Stay Fly”; DJ Muggs vs. GZA, Grandmasters

2006: Ghostface Killah, Fishscale; T.I., “What You Know”; Ciara, The Evolution

2007: UGK, Underground Kingz; Justice, “D.A.N.C.E.”; Neil Landstrumm, Restaurant of Assassins

2008 (so far): The Bug, London Zoo; Justice, “DVNO (Radio Edit)”****; Kail, True Hollywood Squares*****

*man, the early ’80s were a great time for Space Invaders-themed dub records

**so yeah, Just-Ice was pretty damn good

***though I guess only in the ’80s’ best year for rap could this get overlooked

****I know this showed up on their album last year but this version’s more than different enough to count as an ’08 track

*****maybe it’s kind of early to call this one obscure/underrated/overlooked but dude doesn’t even have his own page on or rateyourmusic yet