Anna Minard has “never heard of ’em” and NPR learns how to “get along”

When I was in Seattle on vacation I discovered the coolest new column in the weekly paper The Stranger.  Anna Minard just started writing Never Heard of ‘Em.  The premise is that Anna doesn’t know that much about the “essential” albums her friends and fellow writers pass her.  She listens for the first time, and then writes a review of what it’s like to be exposed to the album for the first time.

So far, she’s done Love, Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth, The Cramps, Royal Trux, and Suicide.  I must confess that I’d never heard Royal Trux or Suicide myself.

Another cool project is NPR’s All Songs Considered‘s new project called Why Can’t We All Get Along.  They’re trying to find the top 10 albums everyone can agree on.  They’re posting a bunch of universally liked albums every week and letting people vote all summer to populate the semifinals.  One thing I find funny is that for every album “everybody loves”, someone hates it just to be contrary.

Paul Simon’s Graceland, Bob Marley’s Exile, AC/DC… I think it’s kind of funny to come up with a list of music that’s least hated.  I know some people who REALLY can’t stand Exile though.

What’s your least hated album?



this blog post is now over, thank you for reading.
as a reminder, it was called: Anna Minard has “never heard of ’em” and NPR learns how to “get along”
it's categorized as: Albums
link to it, please: Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Worthwhile Jazz Deconstructions of Songs You Probably Know

(note: None of the songs are actually ON the Jazz and 80’s album, I just think it’s a cool cover.  Also sex sells.  Not that I’m selling anything.)

I was just listening to this brand new Jazz album by the Vijay Iyer Trio, and on it they have a great cover of Micheal Jackson’s Human Nature.  I love how they keep the song recognizable, but then evolve into their own exploration of the song’s musical themes.  I think that a good jazz cover respects the original song, but still tears it apart and puts it back together again somehow.

It made me think of several songs that do something similar that I’ve come to appreciate over the years.

The Bad Plus is probably the most famous for their Smells Like Teen Spirit cover, which is great, but I’m partial to their amazing cover of the Tears For Fears song, Everybody Wants To Rule The World.

Of course I had to have a Beatles song, and there’s no lack of Beatles covers of any genre in this world, but I particularly like the somewhat insane version of A Day In The Life by Grant Green.

Charlie Hunter’s Come As You Are cover starts with the Smells Like Teen Spirit riff, but is in fact a groovy cover of the (slightly) lesser known song.

The rest, just enjoy.  I think every one has a little something special.

Listen as a playlist:

[audio:,,,,,,|titles=Vijay Iyer Trio – Human Nature,The Bad Plus – Everybody Wants To Rule The World,Grant Green – A Day In The Life,Bill Frisell – Live to Tell,Charlie Hunter Trio – Come As You Are,Brad Mehldao Trio – Knives Out,Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey – Isobel]

Or listen to the songs individually:

Human Nature (Micheal Jackson) as covered by the Vijay Iyer Trio

[audio:|titles=Vijay Iyer Trio – Human Nature]

Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Tears For Fears) as covered by The Bad Plus

[audio:|titles=The Bad Plus – Everybody Wants To Rule The World]

A Day in the Life (The Beatles) as covered by Grant Green

[audio:|titles=Grant Green – A Day In The Life]

Live To Tell (Madonna) as covered by the Bill Frisell

[audio:|titles=Bill Frisell – Live to Tell]

Come As You Are (Nirvana) as covered by the Charlie Hunter Trio

[audio:|titles=Charlie Hunter Trio – Come As You Are]

Day is Done (Radiohead) as covered by the Brad Mehldao Trio

[audio:|titles=Brad Mehldao Trio – Knives Out]

Isobel (Björk) as covered by Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

[audio:|titles=Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey – Isobel]
this blog post is now over, thank you for reading.
as a reminder, it was called: Worthwhile Jazz Deconstructions of Songs You Probably Know
it's categorized as: Reviews, Songs
link to it, please: Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

California is one of my favorite albums ever (Mr. Bungle)

California is probably the most normal and approachable album Mike Patton (also of Faith No More) ever made, which is to say, it’s one of the oddest and most off-putting albums most people will experience.

Mr. Bungle was Mike Patton’s high school band, but me and my teenage friends didn’t find out about him until Faith No More’s epic song and video, Epic came out.  things explode, Mike Patton punches himself in the head, and a fish (evidently given to them by Björk?!) flops about in exquisite suffocation.  This song blew our minds, and it wasn’t long before someone had a copy of the self-titled first album by Mr. Bungle.

Mr. Bungle (the album) is an insane free-jazz heavy-metal carnival.  We loved it mostly as a novelty album, with its hilarious porn samples and rollercoaster ride music, but it wasn’t until years later that I heard California.

I think the two biggest influences on California are cheesy lounge music and surf-rock, but as always, Mr. Bungle sometimes (d)evolves into pure avant-garde noise.  While some of the songs are truly purely beautiful, most are some kind of wild ride.

Air-Conditioned Nightmare – This is a great song to start with because it inhabits all the madness, beauty and tormented Beach Boys ethos that the album creates.  The song begins with clattering percussion, and Mike Patton doing some singing that would have fit in on Pet Sounds.   Then, at about the :40 minute mark, it gets twisted, and there’s a rapid-fire change to some perverse doo-wop-ing / surf-metal guitar / mechanical pleas to “get me out of this air-conditioned nightmare”.   Then at about the 3:00 mark, acts sincere, as if he were just trying to sing a beautiful song the whole time, finally introducing the final theme of the song, asking sweetly “where’s my rainbow?  where’s my halo?”

Pink Cigarette – Possibly the most straightforwardly gorgeous song on the whole album, Mike croons over vocal choruses and gentle surf rock, a tale of a cuckolded man contemplating impending suicide after his wife leaves him with only a pink cigarette on the bed:  “How can I forget that your lips were there?Your kiss goes everywhere, touches everything but me.”  So perfectly pathetic and campy, but perhaps marred by the obvious heart monitor sounds at the end.

 Goodbye Sober Day – The album’s closer, it’s notable for it’s appropriation of an Indonesian chanting style near the end.  After a spooky song cycle, all the air is sucked out of the song at about the 2:10 mark, and Mike Patton does his approximation of Kecak, a Balinese chant used partially to depict a war between Rama and the evil king Ravana (only like a heavy-metal version).

None of Them Knew They Were Robots – I wish I knew enough about music to know what the hell is happening here.  I won’t suffer to narrate all the twists and turns of this song but there’s a lot to listen here, including a doomish chant of Deus absconditus  and Deus nullus deus nisi deus.  It’s about science, religeon, nanotechnology, gnostic wisdom, god knows what else.

Vanity Fair – I’ll go out on a sweet note, cause “you’re not human, you’re a miracle!”

If this appeals to you at all, please get and listen to this whole album in all of it’s gorgeous glory.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s one for the ages.

this blog post is now over, thank you for reading.
as a reminder, it was called: California is one of my favorite albums ever (Mr. Bungle)
it's categorized as: _ My Personal Classics, Albums, Reviews
link to it, please: Friday, April 13th, 2012

Some Widely Loved Artists I Don’t Love

I’m always so goddamned positive here on the Snob. I don’t usually like to bother to write about things unless I love them, but I think it’s worth mentioning that I don’t in fact love everything. Plus, it’s a critic’s job to be contrary so, I’m going to give it a shot.

Elvis Costello

So many music lovers revere this guy to the stars, but sadly I feel like I have to force myself to listen to a whole album. My respect for Elvis just went up a couple of notches when I heard him cover Fiona Apple’s amazing and amazingly underrated song I Know:

I could tell that he loved the song, and knew every word and inflection, and hit every single one of its incredible high points. It’s not the first time I’ve thought “I should give Elvil Costello a chance” though.

To me he just sounds hopelessly dated, and nothing really makes his songwriting or performing stand out for me in a way that makes me want to listen to it.

Song I do actually like: Alison


OK, now I know this is going to be a divisive one. There’s definitely some Radiohead I like. I know they’re the ultimate in modern rock brilliance. I’ve really loved a lot of what they’ve done.

Who would have every guessed that a band destined to become a one-hit-wonder from Creep, would switch it up and become one of the most universally acknowledged rock success geniuses ever.

When I put on OK, Computer, one of their undisputed masterworks, all I can think is “Goddamn, can this dude whine!” I feel like he generated this whole generation of first world problem whiners who think intelligently howling about the injustices and plastic-ness of the world is the highest of art.

Sometimes liking music has to do with wanting to inhabit the psychic landscape it creates. I rarely seem to want to live in Radioheadland.

Song I do actually like: Reckoner

[audio:|titles=Radiohead – Reckoner]


These guys blew my mind when I was first aware of them, which wasn’t until I was 15 and videos started popping up on MTV. I wasn’t sure whether to like or hate Losing My Religion when it came out (ended up liking it) or Stand / Shiny Happy People (ended up hating it).

I’ve tried to go back and listen to some of their classic College Rock era albums like Eponymous and Life’s Rich Pageant. Much like Elvis Costello I just felt like these guys were outdated by the time I got to them. I liked it, but people seemed to regard their old stuff with a certain level of worship that I just could never comprehend.

Song I actually like: Fall on Me


I didn’t actually realize how huge and ubiquitous Jay-Z was until well after his prime. Now, his sad, late career verses sound pretty pathetic next to Kanye West at the absolute top of his songwriting game. There’s Kanye talking absolutely insane shit, always something new, while Jay-Z is still playing up the fact that he used to sell crack in another lifetime and that he’s really huge.

Yeah, back in the day he wrote some good songs on Blueprint and The Black Album for sure. But even then, I just can’t quite fathom how he managed to become this unbelievable multi-platinum success. He does have that wide, expansive voice, and his lyrics are never too challenging.

Song I actually like: Takeover

[audio:|titles=Jay-Z – Takeover]


I want to love Queen, I really do. I love the idea of flamboyant gay rockers doing operatic imaginative way-before-its-time rock and blowing apart the world. I love plenty of their anthems. I, too, watched Wayne’s World and thought, “Holy crap, I’ve heard that song before I but I didn’t realize what a mega-world-destroying beast it was!”

I love all the talk about fat bottomed girls riding bicycles. I love that a band with a gay lead singing became the stadium stomper for America’s most red-blooded manly sport.

However, when I listen to an actual album, the pomp and bombast just overwhelm the actual songs for me. They’re vamping and camping with a million things going on at once like some grand poncy circus.

Song I actually like: Killer Queen

[audio:|titles=Queen – Killer Queen]

Neil Young

I tried to find this old comic from Seattle’s The Stranger newspaper where Neil Young says something like, “You business fellas worry about doing what you’re best at: making money, and I’ll go back to doing when I’m best at: warbling like an old goose.”

There is no doubt that Neil is a prolific and powerful songwriter. I hear his recent album about an electric car was really good.

He is clearly a passionate and insightful hippie who’s worked with some incredibly talented people and can obviously make magic with just himself and a guitar.

Only one problem, I could just never bring myself to put on one of his albums again. He is someone I have actively tried to like and “get”. I had Harvest Moon on vinyl, I tried to get into After The Gold Rush and Tonight’s The Night, but I couldn’t quite get over the goose warble.

Song I actually like: Heart of Gold

Win Me Over?

Do you want to change my mind on any of these artists? Pick me out a 3 song playlist and send it to me for any of these artists and I’ll give it a shot.

this blog post is now over, thank you for reading.
as a reminder, it was called: Some Widely Loved Artists I Don’t Love
it's categorized as: Reviews
link to it, please: Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Snob Shorties

I’ve been loving Grimes (gorgeous 80’s throwback beats with lovely choral-like singing),

[audio:|titles=Grimes – Genesis]

Future Islands (clangy rock band with a singer who has a unique, passionate growl),

[audio:|titles=Future Islands – On The Water]

Emika (totally sexy, dirty singing and non-boring electronic music),

[audio:|titles=Emika – 3 Hours]

Wye Oak (passionate female singer and music that alternates between mellow pop and total guitar squall.  so pretty and personal),

[audio:|titles=Wye Oak – Civilian]

White Denim (a really cool, creative rock and roll band.  this is one of their mellower songs) also has a cool website,

[audio:|titles=White Denim – Street Joy]

Metronomy (bratty little beach rock songs with a sweet singer.  if you like that Gotye song then you’ll like these guys),

[audio:|titles=Metronomy – The Look]

Eleanor Friedburger (a folk-singer who used to sing with her brother for The Fiery Furnaces.  now she just writes clever songs that put me in a good mood),

[audio:|titles=Eleanor Friedburger – Inn Of The Seventh Ray]

and Danny Brown (a nasty rapper, with a rap about his love for licking kitties).

[audio:|titles=Danny Brown – I Will]

I’ve been loving TV shows like Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, Archer, and Downton Abbey.

I’ve been loving New York restaurants like Peaches, Saraghina, brgr, Kennedy Fried Chicken, crazy Caribbean places, M. Shanghai Bistro, Tipsy Parson, and Rachel’s.

I’ve been loving movies like Days of Heaven, Pina 3D, and Temple Grandin.

I’ve even seen a real broadway show: Venus in Fur.

Maybe some day I’ll even write about some of that stuff.

this blog post is now over, thank you for reading.
as a reminder, it was called: Snob Shorties
it's categorized as: Reviews, Songs
link to it, please: Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Don’t Tell Me How To Hold My Nuclear Bomb (says Van Hunt)

Van Hunt‘s new album What Were You Hoping For? is in the very early stages of rocking my world.  It’s a little bit Funkadelic, a little bit Prince, a little bit Of Monreal.  Ok, and maybe a little bit Lenny Kravitz?  It’s funky, sweet, bratty, smart, and I listen to it every day, which is something I haven’t done in a while.

The line in the title comes from the song Plum, where he sings:

Don’t tell my how to hold my nuclear bomb

Until you’ve resisted urge to love one

[audio:|titles=Van Hunt – Plum]

Or the spectacularly rocking Watching You Go Crazy is Making Me Lose My Mind.

[audio:|titles=Van Hunt – Watching You Go Crazy Is Driving Me Insane]

Van Hunt has a lot to offer.  His guitar playing is inspiring, and he can sing a sweet-as-honey neo-soul growl while he sings about the joys and pitfalls of cross-dressing.

Ok, one slow one, just to show how pretty his little croak is.  This is Moving Targets:

[audio:|titles=Van Hunt – Moving Targets]


this blog post is now over, thank you for reading.
as a reminder, it was called: Don’t Tell Me How To Hold My Nuclear Bomb (says Van Hunt)
it's categorized as: Albums, Reviews
link to it, please: Friday, November 11th, 2011

Chinatown Secrets

Walk down Bowery from the Lower East Side and watch as the signs turn to Chinese.

and things are marketed a little differently,

walk into what looks like a little alley with hipsters milling about and see if you can find 9 Doyers St.

so you can walk into the (not really) secret bar of Apothéke, an amazing, fancy cocktail bar.

Notice the chandelier made from flasks.

The drinks are $15 but they’re worth it.

this blog post is now over, thank you for reading.
as a reminder, it was called: Chinatown Secrets
it's categorized as: NYC, Restaurants, Reviews
link to it, please: Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

The Elegant Perversity of Dogtooth

Dogtooth, the 2009 Greek film, is not going to be for everyone.  In a sense, it’s a slow dark comedy horror movie, which happens to be a genre I like.  Movies like The Shining, Let There Be Blood, and Drag Me To Hell, all fall into this category for me as well.  There’s a little blood in Dogtooth and if you can’t stomach a few disturbing images, then this is not the movie for you.  Mom, please do not watch this movie.

For me though, Dogtooth does a lot right.  The best thing a movie can do is make me intensely curious about what’s happening and how it’s going to turn out from the very first moment.  Then as the state of things is slowly revealed, retain that sense of total curiosity.  Dogtooth did that.

Families have their own weird myths and in-jokes and this movie kind of takes that idea and blows it out to the highest degree.  Almost the entire movie takes place in a beautiful home out in the boonies of Greece, since the three teenage children who live there are not allowed to leave the premises.  The idea seems sweetly innocent, and indeed the beautiful children play many innocent and beautiful games, even though enduring pain seems to be a common theme of many of them.

As the movie progresses though it becomes clear just how twisted and perverse their upbringing has been, and that the parents are willfully doing it, for whatever reason.  In my opinion though, it never devolves into total slasher nightmare.  These teenagers natural aggression and sexuality just doesn’t have anywhere to go, and it bubbles out in increasingly inappropriate ways.

As you might be able to guess, there are serious sexual overtones, and some of the sexual scenes are pretty explicit.  I doubt this movie would have been able to receive an R rating in the US.  If you liked movies like Secretary, then it’s very possible you’d find this movie hot, in spite of the twisted nature of its sexual rhythm.

It’s on Amazon Prime Video if you wish to watch it.  There is a trailer, but if you’re willing to see it without, I recommend it, since the trailer spoils a bunch of the surprises.  It’s a movie best left to unfold at its own pace.

this blog post is now over, thank you for reading.
as a reminder, it was called: The Elegant Perversity of Dogtooth
it's categorized as: Films, Reviews
link to it, please: Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Ok, Now I Miss Seattle A Little

(excellent photo by Jeremy Hurd used without permission, hopefully there’s forgiveness)

Ok, ok, I’ll admit it. Seattle has its charms. For one thing, I seriously miss The Stranger.  The Village Voice just doesn’t have the same unified snarky voice and dedicated approach to local news.  Sure I can read it online, but I love pulling it’s vibrant cover done by a local artist out of the box and then sitting down to devour it in one sitting with coffee.  Sometimes Savage Love first, sometimes Last Days first.

I miss spaciousness.  Even the major drug store chains in Manhattan are packed in with tiny little inventories and barely enough aisle space for two people to brush past.

I miss beers for five dollars or less.  A seven or eight dollar pint of beer is super normal here.

I miss the hills.  It’s so cool to be on Capitol Hill and look out down Denny and see Queen Anne Hill off in the distance.

I miss everyone looking for a roommate, instead of everyone looking for a place.  When I tell people I’m looking for a place they say, “Are you looking for fee or no fee?”  Like, that’s a thing!  Many apartments here are brokered.  Like, what kind of question is that?  I’m like: I want an apartment.  If someone’s going to ransom it then let’s hear how dear the ransom is!

I even miss the stupid fire dancing and burlesque everywhere.  I’m sure they have that in NYC, but in Seattle all you have to do is play an Aerosmith song and girls suddenly are wearing pasties and spinning fire.

this blog post is now over, thank you for reading.
as a reminder, it was called: Ok, Now I Miss Seattle A Little
it's categorized as: NYC, Seattle
link to it, please: Friday, October 14th, 2011

Great New York Signs

Where do I go to get Chinese Qi Gong Tuina?!

Zen like, in the “I have simple tastes, I like only the best” kind of way


Wait, what should I do?

Le French Hot Dog is super sophisticated.  Seriously though, this patisserie is awesome.

Buy three scarves, get a Kung Fu DVD Movie free!


this blog post is now over, thank you for reading.
as a reminder, it was called: Great New York Signs
it's categorized as: NYC
link to it, please: Monday, October 10th, 2011
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