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the end of the year is nearing and as one is wont to do – it becomes a time of reflection. so over the next couple of weeks i may be chiming in here and there with some ruminations on the year that’s been….
the first iteration of this is ‘things i will not be ashamed of’.
i am the first to admit, i’m kinda a snob when it comes to pop culture / art / things. but, at the same time, i’m a complete glutton for things that are not – and this is painful to admit– not.that.great. ugg.
but, i have pretty good taste (if i do say so myself) in most things, so i choose to believe that i am simply out-of-sync with the world at large. and truth be told, i’m kinda ok with that. of course, this also means that the world is wrong and i am right. case closed.
the first thing i refuse to be ashamed of is my complete and total love of the film ‘stardust‘.
sure the film did not set the box office world on fire (shame too), the movie is a lush, beautifully filmed, well acted and charming little flick. to refresh my memory, i did a quickie search on metacritic to see what the film cognoscenti thought of the movie -and i was a bit surprised at the mostly positive views of it. i quite like wha the charlotte observer had to say about it: “heroic, wryly funny, but bloodthirsty as great fairy tales can often be.”
this is afterall a fairy tale. and the best modern fairy tales are wonderful little escapes into another world. i loved the world that makes up stardust. i loved robert de niro’s quirky fey turn as a pirate that’s light in his loafers. i loved charlie cox’s everyman. and i loved michelle…. oh how i loved michelle being all wicked and sexy and cool.
it’s a perfectly lovely little gem of a movie. and i can’t wait for it to come out on dvd on tuesday.
another thing i’m not ashamed of liking? well, that would be everyone’s favorite disaster. britney spears. more to the point, it’s not that i dig her, it’s that i dig her latest album ‘blackout’.
now, i’ve already chimed in with a review of the album here, but i just gotta say, i still f’ing love it. it’s pure trash. but trash can be good. the album is urgent and hot and sexy (thank god for producers right?). lord knows the girl can’t make a video anymore (‘piece of me’ is horrible), but the tunes are strong and fun and really fun to just sing along with. oh, and the above image – such a better cover than the one that ended up on the thing… blech.
then there is sarah brightman. sarah brightman is my barbara streisand. i’ve never been the typical gay guy in love with bab’s, but i love my diva sarah.
yes, this is probably the hardest thing to admit. hi, my name is kyle and i like sarah brightman. and yes, she’s not the greatest singer in the world (but she certainly isn’t britney, see below). and yes, she’s kinda like white bread in the classical/opera world – but there’s just something about her that clicks with me.
now, that said – i do wish she’d dump more of her pop oeuvre and go back and focus on her opera. after all the woman does have a three-octave vocal range that extends to an e natural above soprano c. no easy feat. it’s also been said that she has both a pop voice and a classical voice. take away all of the synths and spacey sound effects that have grounded her eden / la luna / harem disks and you are left with the quiet, lush moments that show a woman that can really truly sing. take a way all the distractions.
on a slight side-bar, i’m really wanting to explore more opera; anyone with any suggestions? let me know. i just bought cecilia bartoli’s latest disk ‘maria‘ – really beautiful stuff.
so there you have it – three things i’m no longer going to be ashamed of. after all for all the stardusts, britney and sarah stuff i love, there’s also the darjeeling limited’s, kate bush’s and cecilia bartoli’s so my good taste is pretty well established.
it’s just that i need my marshmallow fluff every now and then as well.
mmmm marshmallow fluff.
now i lost interest in tori amos somewhere around the boys for pele era – she just got a lil’ too esoteric (read; fuckin’ wierd) for me. tho’, i will forever say little earthquakes is one of the most amazing records ever.
apparently on wednesday in san diego tori was doing a show where two trollops who had front row seats cept coming and going throughout the performance. this did not suit tori none to well. she interuppted the song “code red” and verbally bitch slapped the two proceeding to say “get the fuck out of my show! … it’s a privilege to sit in the front row and i reserve those seats for people who appreciate the music, get the fuck out!…”
i think i love her! i hate people who have no interest in the show some people forked out major bucks. ugg. thank you tori for having’ a massive set of balls.
to see the auspicious moment, fast forward to 2:25…. it’s freakin’ awesome!
the year was 1993 and i was in chicago visiting the (then) seminal tower records (alas, we didn’t have anything as cool in minneapolis). i spent the previous months devouring rolling stone magazine reading all about madonna’s new record label (maverick) and how it would be home to new and unique musicians doing their own special thing. there were rumblings of a new r&b musician/electric bassist that was about to explode on maverick named me’shell ndegeo’cello.
so there i was in tower flipping through the stacks, looking for the latest musical treasure and i came upon it, ‘plantation lullabies’ – sporting a wild psychedelic cover and a sticker with critical comments advocating the promise within… ‘tho i hadn’t heard a note, i had to have it. hell it had tunes with names like ‘if that was your boyfriend (he wasn’t last night)’, ‘shootin’ up and gett’n high’ and ‘i’m diggin’ you (like and old school record)’ – these were not song titles i was used to as a white boy from minneapolis. i knew of jazz and soul – but i didn’t know about jazz and soul. yea, i was a prince fan, and i thought i was all worldly and shit, but nothing’ could prepare me for the album – it truly opened my ears to a new sound. i was hooked.
fast forward 3 years to 1996 and her second disk ‘peace beyond passion’ was released. while ‘lullabies was an aggro mix of funk, soul, jazz & r&b; passion gelled all of the genre’s into one amazing new sound. equal parts spiritual and sexual, the album is a blistering attack on the hypocrisy of christianity and misogyny of the time. indeed, you knew you were in for an interesting ride when you heard the first words she uttered on the album: “jesus cured the blind man so that he could see the evils of the world”. a couple of tracks later the blasphemy get’s amped up a bit with “maybe judas was the better man / and mary mad a virgin just to save face”. the album isn’t all blistering commentary on christianity – also name checked; homophobia, self-hatred, social discourse and racism pop up. the interesting thing here however is the way in which she weaves the politics and the profane in a way that challenges and satisfies. the music is lush, silky smooth and forms the perfect bed for her poetry – culminating in the hopeful ‘god shiva’ and ‘with a tear and a smile’ – the message here, things may not always be golden, but if you seek out the passion, you will indeed find peace. easily my favorite album from her.
that same year, i had the chance to see her live for the first time at first avenue. imagine a sold out room packed with 1400 gay men, lesbians, black, white, asian – young and old. it was the first time i had truly ever encountered such a radical mix of people all intent on one thing – enjoying the groove laid out on the stage… there was no posturing. there were no fights. the room was a sweaty mass of people jumping and dancing and digging the music. the show easily rates in my top ten for live music experiences.
over the course of the next ten years, there would be 4 more records. diverse entries like ‘bitter’ (a mellow, introspective/quiet paean to a broken relationship), ‘cookie; the anthropological mixtape’ (blistering social-hip hop), ‘comfort woman’ (soul-psychadelia circa 1976 free-form jazz), ‘spirit of the infidel’ (free-form instrumental jazz; the closest thing to coltrane in years) all leading up to her latest ‘the world has made me the man of my dreams’ – the most consistently engaging album since ‘passion’ – it’s groves are equal parts jazz and soul, and live, even a healthy dose of rock – and the words, well meshell is one of those rare artists where you can separate the lyrics from the beat and the poetry comes through.
last night, i had the chance to catch her live again (my 3rd time seeing her). wasn’t at all sure what to expect, but knew it’d be an interesting ride. the first surprise, no keyboards. the album features a healthy dose of electronica/synth – however would this translate with no synth’s? also odd, no center spot mic for meshell… instead, she was literally in the back – surrounded by her band (two guitarists, another bass and the drummer). subconsciously was she sayin’ the music was just as important as the words? at time’s the vox even took a backseat to what the band was whipping up. all i can say is the new record positively explodes live. stripped down, raw funk/rock propelled by exquisite drumming and simmering guitar – a helluva, show. while it’s an overused phrase, the only thing i can come up with is religious experience… seriously – eye’s closed, body grooving – transcendent.
meshell likes to live in the present and the future and as such, tends to avoid the “hits” of her past, at one point, someone yelled out for her to play ‘boyfriend’. her response? a simple, “not a fucking chance”. she is so completely comfortable in her own skin – so alive when the music is playing. she doesn’t doubt herself (or her setlist for a minute (in fact, many times it looked as if she was just grooving there in the back, enjoying the band and the moment as much as we were). there’s only one other performer i’ve ever seen that is as comfortable in their own skin while on stage; prince.
from the opening tune (a seering electric take on prince’s ‘all the critic’s love u in new york’) through the finale, meshell and company kept the crowd transfixed. my friend amy came with me and at one point said to me “sex with this woman would be amazing”! i was also texting landry (who lives in the same neighborhood as meshell) and she msg’d: “she’s the hottest mf going!” lol
indeed, she is the hottest mf around. can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
just a brief note today (i’m in a two day course on environmental threats that makes al gore’s ‘an inconvenient truth’ look like a disney flick – so not much in the terms of an update until tomorrow) –
it’s my very dear friend landry’s birthday today. no doubt she’s celebrating in high style (much alcohol will probably be consumed), not to mention ton’s of kinky lesbian sex… wouldn’t have it any other way.
so then, cheers to you landry on your birthday.
ok, not that i’m a stud or anything – but i sure as fuck like my new glassess. they are from the all-american classic company ray ban (i’ve always been a big fan of ray ban’s, they’re just so iconic, way back from the risky business days – my face could never pull off that style tho’). they’re super modern, with a nice metal detail.
check ’em out:
ok, been up since 3am working on ride stuff, took a break and decided to troll you tube a bit.
guess what i found? the brand-spankin-new siouxsie video for the first single off her new record. the tune is called ‘into a swan’ and it’s flipping incredible. more aggressive than siouxsie’s been for a fair bit. more organic too. the drums are smokin’ hot (thank you budgie). and could she look anymore incredible? wow – she’s 50!
what a way to start a day!
check it out:
in other music news, i picked up the new mark ronson yesterday – but haven’t listened yet as i also got this incredible new record from the iconic mavis staples called ‘we’ll never turn back’. that has completely captivated me.
entertainment weekly says: “Staples’ voice outshines all: rich, weathered, and full of fire, sometimes resolving in a cracked tone or a dark, knowing chuckle, her eyes still on the prize.”
and the guardien says: “Staples is magnificent.”
and indeed she is.
in other exciting news – scott and i are seeing a late showing of harry potter 5 tonight… late cause of course, i’m in rehearsals all day and into the evenin. can’t wait for that either.
just a lil’ pop! diversion for your saturday afternoon…. if ever there was a doubt kelly was the best angel alone (the hair alone!) this proves it!
so last night – as i’m sure your sick of hearing me talk about – james and i saw the amazing johnette napolitano show at the varsity theater in dinkytown, minneapolis. all i can say is abso-fucking-lutely a brilliant show. it was johnette and her guitar, no f/x, no pomp, no circumstance – just a great singer in a intimate venue. fuckin’ excellent. she played the hits (joey, an acapella tomorrow wendy) as well as a few suprises (including one of my all time favorite tunes (and exceedingly hard to find) “souvenier” by her other band, pretty & twisted). i snapped the below pics during the show (as well as the you tube video at the bottom of the page):