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The Same Great Burr (ASHLEE + EVAN, preliminary thoughts)
Preliminary thoughts, after only a few listens, ASHLEE + EVAN EP, Ashlee Simpson & Evan Ross.

GOOD (maybe even GREAT):





"Safe Zone"


"I Want You"


"I Do"

Evan's voice seems anonymously Michaelesque, missing Jackson's tension but with potential to glide and swoop. In "Safe Zone," it's his voice that feels ready to move, while Ashlee is the one who sounds stuck. The other songs, you're relying on Ashlee to provide the personality. "Home" might grow with more listens; I'm wondering what could have been added or rearranged to make it as wonderfully sweet and poignant as, say, Miley Cyrus's "Malibu." "Paris": Ashlee's voice has the same great burr as in the past, and she adds high tones* that are effectively searching and probing, already the sense of a lot happening even though I'm not yet taking in the lyrics. Evan is a sweet steady presence accompanying the search. I think if the other songs had gotten more work they'd all have moved one level up, though I'm not sure what the work should have been (made more stark? given more obstacles? more lift? better tunes?). I've always loved Ashlee's voice: it's not capable of transforming all that it touches, but it contains automatic pain and hope no matter what.

Anyway, if this were a popular music review site, and if people actually visited it, I wouldn't be the one I'd assign to review this EP.** I have such insane love for Ashlee Simpson's Autobiography I have too many unreasonable hopes and expectations and fears around her. Right now I'd give this a B-MINUS overall, but there's one solid A song, and two or three potential growers.

Regarding "Now I'm free, yeah, and the world keeps spinnin round" in "Paris," unfortunately or fortunately, or rather irrelevantly, I keep thinking of the Elaine Stritch line in The Perfect Furlough:

Assistant: We discovered he was gone.
Les Tremayne: He's loose in Paris?
Keenan Wynn: ...Well?
Elaine Stritch: Well... everybody's loose in Paris.

*Actually, I'm assuming it's her on the high tones, but I'm so unused to hearing her sing an upper register I'm not sure it's not some third singer. It does have the same bumps as her usual deep voice, even while high and gentle. In a brief Google search I didn't locate musician credits for the EP.

**[EDIT: "Christgau once warned against assigning a follow-up review to someone who loved the previous record" (link). And yes, there are a couple intervening Ashlee albums after Autobiography: I only got to really know Autobiography after reviewing I Am Me, and I am half-and-half on Bittersweet World (as Xgau'd predict, and I'd probably still be that way now, but I never did review it or rate it), but the hangover from Autobiography is still hanging. New York Dolls and Highway 61 Revisited may be my only other albums that are "sacred" in the way Autobiography is; there are definitely albums I think are better than those three, but I still have trouble putting those three and my old intense love for them in any kind of perspective. (Btw, Xgau himself didn't stop reviewing New York Dolls albums, despite loving one after the other.)]

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/372188.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

An instant hit about a party (Top Singles Through Three Quarters 2018)
City Girls, in Miami, seem like basic teengirl rap yammerers (early twenties, actually) similar to many others going back to Roxanne Shanté except with especially snappy rhythm. Bali Baby, in Atlanta, claims gang and trap heritage but despite her being black she reminds me more of opportunistic, less-to-the-manner-born white girls like Bhad Bhabie and Lil Debbie and especially Kitty Pryde. Her sound can veer towards a dreamy Kittyish I'm-talking-to-my-diary feel, whatever the boasts and threats coming out of her mouth. A commenter Crownfay at genius.com says, "Sugartrap is a unofficial genre as I call it because it's a way of rapping on a sweet candy like beat but the lyrics on some trap gang type thing." (I think the term "sugartrap" is more associated with Rico Nasty, but I base that on a 5-minute Google search.) I do find Bali's money and fighting lyrics something of a drag; prefer her messed-up-in-love stuff, the two not being mutually exclusive, of course. Bali Baby's also got a way with pop hooks. My favorite old Bali Baby is "Do Da Dash," my favorite pop Bali Baby is "Backseat," my favorite dreamy Bali Baby is "Part The Sea." A YouTube commenter wants her to do a track with Bhad Bhabie; actually Bhad Bhabie released a track with City Girls, "Yung and Bhad," which is kinda meh unfortunately. Must've been cut at least three months ago, because JT of City Girls reported to prison on July 2 to start a 2-year stint for check fraud. My favorite City Girls track is "Period (We Live)." ("Talk game got his dick hard/Now I'm the authorized user on his credit card." Um.)

My top singles, YouTube playlist:

Vast inventiveness from all over — just now dipping into South African gqom, a dubby kind of house of the sort that I sometimes deride as "spare and stringent for the dance connoisseur" but that's hitting me at the moment with exuberant syncopated beats* and sound washes that feel alternately (or simultaneously) "haunting" or "contemplative" or "comforting" or "menacing" depending on my mood. On my list: DJ Tira, Zulu Mkhathini, DJ Maphorisa, DJ Shimza, Moonchild Sanelly, Dladla Mshunqkisi, Distruction Boyz, Prince Bulo, Dominowe, Tk Da Magnet, Amanda. Of course there are thousands I haven't heard. "Exuberant" is what I get from the videos. "Strenuous," too. I've read descriptions that call it "angry" and "euphoric."

From Chicago, Queen Key, who's done one of the "Slide" remixes (number 58 below), is also on here in her own right with "Hoes Out Toes Out." In her vids she looks benignly happy no matter the nasty things she's saying about you. She does seem genuinely benign — brag and insult being her path to good humor. She's making common cause with gay rapper Kidd Kenn, which puts her in my good graces. (Like, if she knew me she'd care about my graces?)

Hip-hop toughies, politics, more gqom, FrankophilesCollapse )

My top singles, three-quarters through 2018.

1. Cassie "Don't Play It Safe"
2. Bhad Bhabie ft. MadeinTYO, Rich The Kid, Asian Doll "Hi Bich (Remix)"
3. Ninety One "Ah!Yah!Ma!"
4. Kidd Kenn "Slide Remix"
5. Fairies "HEY HEY ~Light Me Up~"
6. Lil Pump "i Shyne"
7. KeshYou & Baller "Swala La La"
8. 6ix9ine "Billy"
9. Zulu Mkhathini ft. DJ Tira "Uniform"

10. Bhad Bhabie "Thot Opps (Clout Drop) / Bout That"
11. Bhad Bhabie ft. Lil Yachty "Gucci Flip Flops"
12. Bhad Bhabie "Both Of Em"
13. Cardi B "Be Careful"
14. Niniola "Saro"
15. Boy Tag ft. Tala A. Marie "Talla"
16. Tay-K "After You"
17. Sheck Wes "Do That"

18. The EastLight. "Don't Stop"
19. Crowd Kontroller ft. Niniola "Bambam"
20. Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J. Balvin "I Like It"
21. Tenor "Alain Parfait (Á L'Imparfait)"
22. Yella Beezy ft. Lil Baby "Up One"
23. MHD "Moula Gang" (AFRO TRAP Part.10)
24. Mylène Farmer "Rolling Stone"

25. Bali Baby "Backseat"
26. Bangg 3 ft. Goldie "Slide Remix"
27. Sen Ptit Galle All Stars "Sargal Akon 'Na Na Na Na'"
28. Rich The Kid "Bring It Back"
29. FBG Duck "Slide"
30. Chi Pu "Talk To Me"
31 to 77; Hong Jinyoung to JoviCollapse )

Bali Baby "Backseat"

*I mean, on the handful I've heard. A couple of articles say the genre uses "broken" beats. What I've heard doesn't seem so broken to me.

**[EDIT: By "some of them might, anyway" I mean "In my imaginary scenario, with Trump's racism not being so obvious, some of them — not necessarily all of them — might be suckered into thinking he's strong" (as opposed to "some might be imagining he's strong even as it is, with his racism obvious," which isn't what I meant but I wrote it poorly enough that someone could read it that way).]

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/371469.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

If you feel like china breaking
Jefferson Airplane "If You Feel"

Marty Balin. Penetrating singing, good little songs with hooks. Sentimental. "Jefferson Airplane loves you." Not a deep sentiment, but sweet.

More on the Airplane here and here: many tangents and directions; few performing units were as varied.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/371450.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Dreamcatcher "Lucky Strike"

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/371031.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Pointillist Haze
I found it! Live recording from the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival, 1965, Duke Ellington "Second Portrait of the Lion," first track I heard affixed to the word "jazz": instrumental (so to speak) in fixing in my brain the idea of jazz as quick notes in a pointillist haze.

(Surely I'd heard jazz previously in movie scenes and on TV shows: lounge singers and their accompanists, as private eyes and wise guys pass through. But not part of my sense of a genre "jazz.")

[This is in regard to my post here (The Elephant And The Giraffe) (or in deeper context at Freaky Trigger) regarding my teen jazz tokenism, and the strange early appearance of the Duke.]

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/370696.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

No, I'm Not Your Friend (Top Singles, First Half 2018)
"It's a real nigga party, you cannot get in," which not only leaves me out, it leaves out most people who describe themselves with the n-word as well, and leaves you out, the way FBG Duck defines it: "Niggas really shoot, no accident / I can't make this shit up, I cannot pretend, damn." The thing is — I'd call it a strange thing except it's actually quite natural — his disinvite has attracted hordes: not people trying to get into the aforementioned party, but people using the track — FBG Duck's "Slide" — as a model for creating their own parties. He captured it, the way people speak, the long slow drawl, dragging out and down the last word of the phrase, "I can't make this shit up, I cannot pre-te-end." Primal sentences, "I can't shake your hand, no I'm not your friend / I don't fuck with rappers, no I'm not a fan, damn." Dave and I were grievously underrating his voice over on my comment thread, but people find themselves in it, take his words and mold them into their words: Bangg 3: "Issa bad bitch party, you cannot get in / I can take your man, pass 'im to my friends." There are eight versions so far on my top singles list, and scores more out there on YouTube, new ones every day. There's one in Romanian, another in Greek. There's a kids one by Mac Sauce: "It's a little kids party you cannot get in / We know that you're too old, we know that you're not ten." And the best version, by gay rapper Kidd Kenn, stone courage: "It's the faggot party baby you cannot get in / Takin' all the men, his homies and his friends, damn / If you think the boy is straight, well think again."

FBG Duck "Slide"

Bangg 3 ft. Goldie "Slide Remix"

Kidd Kenn "Slide Remix" [Flashing lights]

FBG Duck is daring you to come out and shoot, so he can shoot you ("Let me see some fuckin' shots fired then / Make me shoot that crib up you hidin' in"). Most of the male versions copy him in this (Yung Cat manages to be even more obvious: "It's the real killa party you cannot get in"); most of the female versions copy Bangg 3 in that having sex with someone is to prove something to someone else, to take something from someone else, to get even with someone else. (Sexyy Red: "[You] ain't got a lotta friends, I'm tryna fuck your man.") This is where Kidd Kenn goes, too. There are basic combinations, disses. Pretty Savage: "All your bitches' pussy don't get wet / Pull up, pop yo asses, how you pop them Percocets." Queen Key: "Heard some bitches dissed me but nobody liked it / I think yo music like yo pussy, bitch, nobody buys it, tried it (ha)."

Wit and phrasing aside, this is self-defeating behavior that — minus the bullets and sex acts — kids are learning to sidestep or shrug off or get beyond when they're still in kindergarten. At least trying to get beyond. (The only "Slide" remix devoid of nastiness is the one by little Mac Sauce.) Nonetheless this stuff still feels real, and that's because it feels risky, and we let the feeling stand in place of the truth. (It's role playing, of course, some people living the roles and some people not, either way still a role, a stereotype.)

Hazing and baiting and jealousy, but the guys are acting tough with it, while the girls are having a lot of fun. Sashaying around, wiggling, having a pillow fight. Men have the power advantage; women have the cultural advantage. The guys get to wave guns, that's it* — though maybe that's their entryway to having fun too, jumping around with and into each other, a secret dance in plain sight, the guns as the prop that masks it as something different.** The young women meanwhile can dance without excuses.

Ongoing Singles Playlist 2018

Top Singles, First Half 2018
1. Cassie "Don't Play It Safe"
2. Bhad Bhabie ft. YBN Nahmir, Rich The Kid, Asian Doll "Hi Bich (Remix)"
3. Ninety One "Ah!Yah!Ma!"
4. Kidd Kenn "Slide Remix"
5. Fairies "HEY HEY ~Light Me Up~"
6. Bhad Bhabie "Both Of Em"
7. Tay-K "After You"
8. KeshYou & Baller "Swala La La"

9. 6ix9ine "Billy"
10. Boy Tag ft. Tala A. Marie "Talla"
11. Tenor "Alain Parfait (Á L'Imparfait)"
12. The EastLight. "Don't Stop"
13. Cardi B "Be Careful"

14. Yella Beezy ft. Lil Baby "Up One"
15. Bhad Bhabie ft. Lil Yachty "Gucci Flip Flops"
16. Niniola "Saro"
17. Lil Pump "i Shyne"
18. MHD "Moula Gang" (AFRO TRAP Part.10)
19. Crowd Kontroller ft. Niniola "Bambam"

20. Mylène Farmer "Rolling Stone"
Chi Pu through Boonk Gang, 21 through 57Collapse )

Short shots, Niniola, Lil Pump, etc.Collapse )

*[EDIT: Well, obviously Kidd Kenn's not playing those rules.]

**Rob and I were talking about this back in 2000, regarding DMX.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/370632.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Leslie was very brave
Today I played the Your Mom Too half of England's Newest Hit Makers for Clare.* She liked it a lot. She said, "Leslie was very brave." "How so?" I asked. She said, "That wasn't a time [1986] when girls were allowed to sing like that." I responded, "That was exactly the time when girls were allowed to sing like that." More accurately, to the extent there ever was a time when girls were allowed to sing like that, that time (1978 through the early 1990s, roughly) was it,** for girls who could connect via mail or mag or via people they knew to the postpunk music world.

Nonetheless, Leslie was very brave.

I find it really hard to describe the music in a way that doesn't mislead. She/we were doing something that few others were. You could say "lo fi" but nothing else in that category sounds like it. Vaguely, "postpunk" and "experimental," which places the sound socially but not musically. I'd say "a cross between Teenage Jesus And The Jerks and Billie Holiday," which probably won't bring anything to mind especially to the people who've heard Teenage Jesus since no sound will probably make sense as a cross between the two. (We were less screechy than Teenage Jesus and less in tune than Billie and we deliberately "detuned" our guitars though we tried to then keep the same detunings, which means there were tonal relations that we were quasi-replicating, even though we couldn't tell you what they were.)

Teenage Jesus And The Jerks "Orphans"

Billie Holiday/Teddy Wilson "I Must Have That Man"

Footnotes and program notes in the comments.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/370277.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

"I Am My Own Mommy, The Fuck!" (Top Singles, One-Third Through 2018)
Closed my 2017 Top 100 on March 3, giving myself a sigh of relief that "Gummo" and "The Race" were near misses and I wouldn't have to write about them. But here those guys are anyway, 6ix9ine and Tay-K, sure things on this list for "Billy" and "After You." And I still haven't done my writeup for 2017. Probably don't have much more to say about those guys other than that they're acting tough while the music cries tears behind them — "cries tears" is in reference to the stark and edgy beauty of the musical settings, while in front 6ix9ine is saying "Whole squad full of fuckin' killers, I'm a killer too/Sending shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, nigga/Everybody gettin' pop, pop, popped, nigga." Meanwhile Tay-K may be losing his race, in jail for capital murder for allegedly taking part in a drug robbery that resulted in the death of a dealer, was 16 when the killing happened though last I heard the state of Texas wants to charge him as an adult. "Hands in the air like a statue, I shoot you in a classroom (fucking classroom)," which one of the readers at genius.com explains, "No matter the situation Tay-K will shoot and he doesn't care where it takes place." And the keyboard sounds like sad little bubbles rising to the sky, as if it knows better, though I doubt it does.*

Ongoing Singles Playlist, 2018

hemming and hawing, dearth over thirty, males, Ninety OneCollapse )

Bhad Bhabie is a messed-up 14-year-old who rose to prominence being exploited on a Dr. Phil freakshow and got the phrase "Cash Me Outside" sampled effectively in hip-hop and turns out to have a lot of talent in her own right. You wonder though — I wonder — if being famous will be good for her psyche at all. It's not like her ability disappears if she waits until she's 22. But maybe nursing a budding career is just the thing for her to pull herself together. How would I know? In the vid for "Gucci Flip Flops" she runs a hoary milkman gag: the milkman knocks, "Hey little girl, you're so cute; is your mommy home?" She tells him: "Bitch, I am my own mommy, the fuck!" That's incredibly sad, if you think about it; but for the girl who says it, it's got the joy of her declaring her own adventure.

footnotesCollapse )

Here's the list, and more commentary beneath it. (Ongoing playlist here.)

Singles First Third 2018 (actually I can do arithmetic and I know it's really the first five-twelfths, but I meant to do this a month ago):

1. Cassie "Don't Play It Safe"
2. Bhad Bhabie ft. YBN Nahmir, Rich The Kid, Asian Doll "Hi Bich (Remix)"
3. Ninety One "Ah!Yah!Ma!"
4. Fairies "HEY HEY ~Light Me Up~"
5. Bhad Bhabie "Both Of Em"

6. Boy Tag ft. Tala A. Marie "Talla"
7. Royal KD "Swagchy"
8. Tay-K "After You"
9. KeshYou & Baller "Swala La La"
10. 6ix9ine "Billy"

11. Tenor "Alain Parfait (Á L'Imparfait)"
12. The EastLight. "Don't Stop"
13. MHD "Moula Gang" (AFRO TRAP Part.10)
14. Cardi B "Be Careful"
15. Yella Beezy ft. Lil Baby "Up One"
16. Niniola "Saro"

17. Bhad Bhabie ft. Lil Yachty "Gucci Flip Flops"
18. Lil Pump "i Shyne"
18. Mylène Farmer "Rolling Stone"
20. Chi Pu "Talk To Me"
21 (Burna Boy) through 37 (Tia)Collapse )

Commentary, Cassie, Boy TagCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/370069.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

The breakdowns are of a kind with reading incomprehension more than innumeracy
Reblogged this from Dave over on Tumblr, adding my comments.

My school started using a blended curriculum model (which I won't name here) recently, and I have a lot of thoughts about it, some pro- and some anti-, none of which would be totally appropriate for me to share here yet. The one thing that it has undoubtedly done, though, is dramatically improve our math curriculum.

In the pre-blended days, our long-suffering but talented and enthusiastic math teacher would randomly pull from a grab bag of mathematical concepts and subdisciplines – geometry, trigonometry, algebra, repeat – trying to patch together a satisfactory sampler of mathematics to students who very often had significant gaps in even their most basic math knowledge. "You have to get 'em when they’re young," she says, sadly, so often.

Now we have an integrated math curriculum, where students re-frame some of their understanding of math to tools that will be more broadly applicable to different mathematical problems: identifying patterns, creating spreadsheet tables, graphing data. These are all skills that I use, more or less, in my day to day work and life &ndash you could use these tools to find significance in a lab experiment or organize your taxes, say.

So that's good. And yet there's still a kind of fog of specialization running through this integrated math; students still learn concepts they'll soon forget, and I find myself dumbing down my "so what" talks so that they'll just remember the difference between a domain and a range, or a mnemonic device to help them find the slope of a line.

It seems to me that there is something very deeply wrong with the whole concept of mathematics at a pedagogical level, and I think the problem with it is the way in which teaching math outside of meaningful applications of that math doesn't even provide some of the basic building blocks of what you'd need to apply it later. Some of the ways we teach reading suffer from this, but at some level the pay-off of knowing how to put letters into words and words into sentences at least has some obvious, immediate value. The higher level meaning-making of literacy is a lifelong project, and subject to constant, frustrating backpedaling, sometimes among very smart people for no reason other than general cognitive biases. (It's amazing, for instance, how your reading comprehension suffers when you really don't want to change the ideas you had coming in.)

But at some level, I understand at least the connection between learning the basics and applying the basics to some other thing – reading a newspaper, scrolling through a Facebook feed, even. I have a harder time seeing that much "higher" a level in mathematics than learning some baseline of competencies.

I think of the non-fiction books I've read on innumeracy, probabilistic thinking, other "mathematical errors" that so many people make, especially when interpreting or conveying their understanding of data. But in many of these cases, what's being described is the breakdown I mentioned above, a way of tactically, if perhaps subconsciously, not understanding something because you don't want to, not (just) because you can't. I think of someone like Nate Silver, lamenting the inability of journalists to convey his site's probabilities in a way that is true to how they're actually presented. But such inability doesn't necessarily speak to some breakdown in the way in which that person learned math. That person can likely do their taxes, use a spreadsheet, figure out the slope of a line if they really needed to. The breakdowns that I most commonly read about are of a kind with reading incomprehension more than they are of innumeracy.

This is a meaningful distinction for me as I work with lots of kids with genuine innumeracy &ndash it just doesn’t look like “dumb analysis” or shallow thinking. It looks like students who really can't calculate numbers, are unable to estimate or make mathematical inferences at a level far beyond misunderstanding or mischaracterization. It is closer to what it looks like when a student can't read a sentence, can't put the words together, than what it looks like when a student uses a poor argument to make their point.

The thing that makes this frustrating for me is that I genuinely have no idea what math should look like. I have at least some inkling, some model, some research, some something for how I understand and imagine almost every other school subject and its relevance to student outcomes. I know what I know, I know what I don't know, I have some provisional thoughts about where to go with it, where it works and where it doesn't. But math continues to totally perplex me. (And I now know, as someone who has developed about as much understanding as you’d need to teach all of the math at my school, that the problem isn't just that I suck at math.)

This is the best post I've read all year (at least, best post in the category Something Positive And Just Plain Fun To Think About Even If The Underlying Problem Is Frustrating And Depressing). I may take a while to give this the response it deserves. I wonder if there's a way to get Duncan Watts and Brad DeLong to read it. I think you're completely right that the problem in a lot of what’s called "innumeracy" is bad reading or listening comprehension rather than an incapacity with numbers.

What I'd hope to explore further, though, is that a possible way to connect two areas of intellectual breakdown (or for that matter intellectual success) is through the idea of "logical inference": you say X, someone correctly infers that you must also believe Y but that you haven't implied anything one way or another about Z. Whereas you say X and some others — Maura Johnston or Simon Reynolds, say — incorrectly infer Z, which they've spent the last ten years happily refuting, and BOOM BOOM BOOM. It isn't just that they don't want to understand you; there's actually something askew in their cognitive apparatus. Of course, if they really do want to understand, or one of their friends wants them to understand, they might eventually get it right — bad logical inference isn't an on-off switch, it's more like a dimmer.

But isn't logic something of a bridge between at least some of math and some of the verbal? That's what I'd like to think more about.

I'd put bad logical inference as the core of communication breakdown and bad critical thinking. But logical inference can be taught, at least somewhat. People get better with practice.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/369787.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Past and passed, as time passes (more Raymond Chandler)
Later in "Spanish Blood," the story I quoted from in my last post, the detective returns to the house described in the passage I'd embedded. I actually jotted down these sentences for the words "past" and "passed," two words that I often screw up, putting one where I need the other (Chandler uses "past," correctly, but I don't know if I'd get it right if I were trying to write a similar sentence), but in any event, once again there's the immediate experience of time as it's being lived:

He looked at her white shattered face once more, very quickly. Then he swung around, walked away over the lawn, past the pool with the lily pads and the stone bullfrog along the side of the house and out to the car.

Chandler had already described the pool and lily pads and bullfrog on the detective's way to the backyard. Now, as the detective leaves, Chandler mentions them again to suggest the time taken by the return walk, and the pace (if the detective were in a hurry you wouldn't have those details). Also, this gives the reader time for the emotions of the just-ended conversation to hang in the brain and then begin to settle, before the detective gets around to the front of the house and into his partner's car, and the two start talking.

I've been reading Chandler stories chronologically from his start at Black Mask, seeing how he develops; this one is the earliest where he's now full-force Chandler from beginning to end; still more bullets than necessary, and a family of victims is dispatched perfunctorily, but the psychology and mood are there as they will be for the next fifteen years.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/369524.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Time in Raymond Chandler
When I'm walking from place to place I don't see most of what's in front of me and I don't have words for most of what I do see. Or I'll have general words — this person is agitated, that person is middle class — but I won't have words for the details that got them there.

So my writing is memories, plans, concepts, ideas, some dialogue, relationships, arguments, analogies, echoes, references, questions. But it isn't the way things look and sound. So it isn't a physical, real-time world.

Contrast to Raymond Chandler: He's not just the look and sound of a world, since his visual and sonic details are vibrating with opinions; they are social details. He sets up a rhythm in the variation between action and description. And the descriptions themselves flow between specific detail and vast overstatement. How he manages the overstatement is worth an essay in itself — how he layers wild metaphor upon wild metaphor while keeping them enough in their place so a story moves forward rather than stopping dead in its delicious prose.

But I'm going to focus on another role of Chandler's details: how they make you feel time as it passes.

Think of time in a story. Someone does something; someone else does something in response. Someone goes somewhere. There is a visit. People converse. All of these take time. Depending on the type of your story, and the type of writer you are, you can allude to time's passing, or you can try to make it part of the reader's experience.

Descriptive details take time to read. So in Chandler, while a character is waiting, or traveling, or watching, or listening, the reader is reading. Here's a passage from A Lady In The Lake that first alludes — effectively — to the passage of time, then gives you time directly.

Half an hour and three or four cigarettes later a door opened behind Miss Fromsett's desk and two men came out backwards, laughing. A third man held the door for them and helped them laugh. They all shook hands heartily and the two men went across the office and out. The third man dropped the grin off his face and looked as if he had never grinned in his life.

Not only do you get the time at the door, the laughing, the laughing continuing (as man number three helps the other two laugh), the handshakes, the walk across the office; you also get, as Tom Stoppard once pointed out, the sound of the office door closing on the word "out": "the two men went across the office and out." And as that passage reverberates in our minds, the laughers' helper takes time to rearrange his face.

In a very early story, "Spanish Blood," a chapter begins:

The big English house stood a long way back from the narrow, winding ribbon of concrete that was called De Neve Lane. The lawn had rather long grass with a curving path of stepping stones half hidden in it. There was a gable over the front door and ivy on the wall. Trees grew all around the house, close to it, made it a little dark and remote.

All the houses in De Neve Lane had that same calculated air of neglect. But the tall green hedge that hid the driveway and the garages was trimmed as carefully as a French poodle, and there was nothing dark or mysterious about the mass of yellow and flame-colored gladioli that flared at the opposite end of the lawn.

Delaguerra got out of a tan-colored Cadillac touring car that had no top. It was an old model, heavy and dirty. A taut canvas formed a deck over the back part of the car. He wore a white linen cap and dark glasses and had changed his blue serge for a gray cloth outing suit with a jerkin-style zipper jacket.

He didn't look very much like a cop. He hadn't looked very much like a cop in Donegan Marr's office. He walked slowly up the path of stepping stones, touched a brass knocker on the front door of the house, then didn't knock with it. He pushed a bell at the side, almost hidden by the ivy.

The description of the house and grounds covers the time Delaguerra's car is approaching the driveway: Chandler never tells us the man is driving, but we get the road, the almost hidden driveway, the drive up, which occurs as we see the hedge, several garages, the flowers; then the description of the car and the man, which covers the time he's walking the path to the door. Then he's reaching for the knocker, then reaching for the bell.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/369346.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Ambivalent about the new Kacey Musgraves LP
Dave Moore and I are discussing the Kacey Musgraves LP (discussion here if you want to join in). Still new to the alb but where I am with it is that the singing and arrangements seemingly get great beauty out of the ordinary and the understated: beautiful enough that until you pay attention you might think the lyrics aren't taking you down to dullness, which unfortunately they are. Are tunes and voice enough? And might they make the words shimmer half heard in the background, by accident? So far my favorite track is "Butterflies" but on fourth or fifth listen it's already drifting away on me. We'll see.

What I wrote about the track:

Listening again to Butterflies. Kacey's not going to ordinary details so much as ordinary conversational turns of phrase ("you give me butterflies") which she works for a couple of angles: butterflies mean not so much you make me nervous but rather you make me excited meaning you make me fly (in the joyous sense), pull me out of the web I was stuck in, fly me instead to cloud nine. It's almost flawless, no missteps except for the "chrysalis" thud, if you don't mind that the journey is to utterly nowhere interesting, but you do mind and so do I.

Probably not an accident that most of what I listen to is in languages like French and Korean that I don't understand.

"Blowin' Smoke" [my favorite Musgraves song] used the same lyric strategy, take an everyday figure of speech and peer at it and through it from different vantage points. But obvious though the points were, they were also FUNNY and the idea was worth sharing, the camaraderie of being knowingly self-deceptive.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/369106.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

What's the organ setting at 1:59 of Ashley Monroe's "Hands On You"?
Excellent Ashley Monroe single from last month: typically cute, recessive, pushy, ambivalent, soulful, rueful in a way that Monroe mastered from the get-go. But what's the organ setting at 1:59? Makes it sound like it wants to go 1960s Caribbean.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/368742.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Grammatical Trends In Recent Cameroonian Hip-Hop (A Thinkpiece)
The saying* goes that one event is an anecdote, two events are a trend, and three are a thinkpiece. I'm jumping the gun here since I'm up to only two, and I'm not engaging in much thought, either. But I'm certainly not basing this post on knowledge, so thinkpiece it is (as in "I think — but do not know, and am too negligent to try and find out — that the reason Northwest Region isn't actually very far north is that the more northern part of British Cameroon was absorbed into Nigeria").

So the trend we are following is this: in the last year there have been two very good Cameroonian hip-hop tracks that (I think) make fun of elementary-school grammar lessons. Each is (I think) played for laughs; in fact both videos are emphatic pissers. But both make serious points: in Koppo's "Gromologie," that the core words of indigenous Bantu languages are worth using, as opposed to being shunted aside in favor of more grandiloquent French phrasing. Or that one shouldn't restrict oneself to proper French as opposed to the many available languages and pidgins. So the point is more about competing languages than about grammar, I'd say. If that is the point and I haven't got it backwards, and the song is in fact in favor of grandiloquence. Or maybe the song is about grammar. How would I know? I don't speak the language this guy is singing, which seems to be predominantly French but contains words from elsewhere. Nor do I know any Bantu languages. Or any language other than English. Google Translate isn't a great help here, partly due to the non-French words, I presume, though "Ils speak avec des mots, comme des bigs dicos," probably does more-or-less translate as "They speak with words, like bigs dicos." —I'm guessing that "speak" sneaks its way in via English. The Northwest Region and Southwest Region on the border with Nigeria were formerly part of British Cameroon. Cameroon is officially a bilingual country, but it has something like 250 languages, says Wikip, including a number of pidgin languages, among them Cameroonian Pidgin English and Camfranglais. Koppo mentions the latter. ("Les bindi intellectuels, tels que je ndem pêle-mêle Koppo rappe même quoi ? Du n’importe quoi Mais Camfranglais nous gui les points plus que jamais," which Google Translate recreates as "The intellectual bindi , such as I ndem pell-mell Koppo even rapping what? Anything But Camfranglais we guui the points more than ever.") I can't tell if the reference is negative or positive.

Here are the lyrics:


The other track is Tenor's "Alain Parfait (À L'imparfait)." I assume "Alain Parfait" is a Lady Mondegreen à la "Richard Stands" in the American pledge of allegiance. ("And to the Republic for Richard Stands," a child's misconstrual of "and to the Republic for which it stands.") This track is — I think — a kid's dream of mastering his French lessons contrasted with his actually botching them horribly. The serious point behind the comedy being — I think — that you don't have to be perfect; no one's perfect.**

Here are the lyrics:


Whatever languages or grammar systems Koppo and Tenor are drawing on, they love the words. They're rappers. They like rattling words around their mouths and juggling them with their tongues.

*Well, I think this is a saying, in that I read something maybe somewhat like this once, somewhere.

**At 3:25 the Tenor video inserts a brief clip of — I think — Les Têtes Brulées, though I can't tell you the significance of this, either musical or social. Tenor has fun going air guitar in imitation. (I look forward to his engaging with the Chuck Berry duck walk.) Les Têtes Brulées' style of music, bikutsi, was supposedly (i.e., that's what Wikip says) more earthy and indigenous than Makossa, a competing pop style. But (again according to Wikip) Les Têtes Brulées were plenty cosmopolitan and poppy, and back home in Cameroon were sometimes considered too "easy listening."

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/368548.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

2018 Visited: Royal KD "Swagchy" (no tiers)
I'll be creating several "2016 Revisited" and "2017 Revisited" posts shortly, and I figure that if I'm to claim that such posts re-visit those years, I'm implying that I'd only visited those years the first time through, rather than inhabited them. Which is silly. But does one inhabit a year? All of the year, everywhere and at every moment? —Well what does "inhabit" mean here? In any event (or any year), one doesn't suddenly leave one's socioemotional abode once a new year's hits. One takes one's habits and habitude along. And when you say you're revisiting old habits, this usually means you still inhabit or are inhabited by them anyway, right? But this time you're giving them a more critical eye.

Anyway, years aren't containers, and though we're in this one that doesn't mean other years aren't in us too and here's a song that hasn't been officially released nor maybe even gotten its final studio workover, so we can say we're as yet just visiting* it rather than being incarcerated along with it.

[UPDATE: Weirdly, Royal KD have taken this performance down from their YouTube site, and may have also changed record labels. So maybe this song isn't going to be a single. It's still up on Facebook, here. And someone's posted a different low-sound performance of it on YouTube. Fingers crossed.]


Small-label idol-pop hip-hop from 2018 Korea, but shouty sorta like how mid '80s Queens/Long Island hip-hoppers might've sounded if they'd been immersed in Bo Diddley vamps from 1959 or Velvet Underground vamps from 1969 (which they weren't, but I still am). Not that this has the urgency of old Diddley, Velvets, or Def Jam, but it does evoke grinding moodiness while still being good knockabout fun (which is sort of what Diddley, Velvets, LL, and all did/were, too).

Here are sly-seeming labelmates Blah Blah, equally low on tiers.**

*Ref. to board game Monopoly.

**"No tiers" and "low tiers" and "tierless" are shorthand that [profile] davidfrazer and I use to indicate that a group or label isn't on an upper commercial tier but is just as good as those groups and labels that are, hence no tiers for the creatures of the night.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/368352.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

More Japanese freestyle
Remember five years ago we were talking about Japanese freestyle? [profile] davidfrazer clues me in to further developments: Fairies "HEY HEY ~Light Me Up~."

The speedbeats and basic pounding rhythm are from '90s Eurobeat, but the doleful melodies are freestyle, so are the hooks (freestyle and Italodisco), not to mention the screeching-brake intro and the "HEY hey hey-hey HEY hey hey-hey HEY— HEY hey hey-hey HEY hey hey-hey HEY" electro-stutters at the start, and the mournful chordings and the "oh oh-oh" vocal riff that come between the brakes and the heys.

Here are some vintage 1980s–early '90s freestyle tracks, to give you an idea what I mean by the term.*

New York:

Cover Girls "Inside Outside"

Judy Torres "Come Into My Arms"

Cynthia "Change On Me"

Lisette Melendez "A Day In My Life (Without You)"


Debbie Deb "When I Hear Music"

Sequal "It's Not Too Late"

Company B "Fascinated"

*The genre "freestyle" is not to be confused with "freestyle" in hip-hop, which refers to live, improvised or at least off-the-cuff raps.

[UPDATE: David Frazer has now found out that "HEY HEY ~Light Me Up~" is a cover of Vanessa's 1993 Eurobeat track "Hey Hey" (Vanessa likely being Clara Moroni under another name), the Fairies' version not straying far from the original. See David's comment below.

I learn from Wikip that, while the term "Eurobeat" has had many uses, by 1993 it was mainly referring to Italian Italodisco-derived tracks selling almost exclusively to the Japanese market. This song is still definitely, overwhelmingly freestyle, at least on top, with Eurobeat underneath. Of course, Italodisco and freestyle took on each other's characteristics.]

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/368117.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

I had an awake dream (the generous and fun Fall)
Was just reading Kat Stevens's One Week One Band on The Fall and playing for Clare "Container Drivers" from the 1980 Peel Sessions. Clare said, "This is a lot more fun than Malcolm McLaren."

Of course it is fun. ALL Fall is fun, among many other things. There's always something bouncy or at least rollicking in the sound — rollicking sarcasm, often enough, I NEVER FELT BETTER IN MY LIFE, but rollicking nonetheless. The fun is being strenuously punched back into its dough container, but that's fun too, on the days when pushback is your flavor of fun.

Two years ago Clare and I were reading murder mysteries to each other, Rex Stout and Raymond Chandler. "Raymond Chandler is a much more generous writer," Clare said. She's way right about Chandler being a generous writer, though I hadn't thought to think it. Stout's in his light and delightfully bickering world, but it's not the world so it's way underpopulated. Chandler's in our world and his fierce eye records details and details, all the stucco, the stucco upon stucco in 57 varieties, items I'd never noticed, the ragged plants, the dirt, the driveways, desiccated apartments and apartments that are too plush, punks trying to comb their blond hair back.

"The members were devoted readers," says Wikipedia, "with Smith citing H.P. Lovecraft, Raymond Chandler, and Malcolm Lowry among his favourite writers."

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/367758.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Dick Enberg: Those were the days when...
Dick Enberg of NBC Sports, watching the Irish team on parade during the opening ceremonies of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona; he goes into a somewhat more-meandering-than-usual monologue about Irish long-distance runners of the past, listing the great ones, concluding with, "Those were the days when Irish guys were miling."

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/367398.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

I'm A Legendary Such And Such (Top Singles 2016) (yes, almost a year late I'm finally posting 2016)
Best-ofs for 2017 are already appearing,* and here I am finally posting my Top Singles for 2016. It's not that I've been ruminating all these extra months about 2016's music: I was done with this list in February, and I've refused to add to it since. It's just that I wanted to write something good before posting, or at least something interesting about some of these songs. And it kept just not happening, a combination of busyness and some sort of block. But here we are; I worked hard on the list back then, which is odd and deserves some explanation, that I worked so hard on it then and that I still feel it should be posted, no matter how late.

So here's a quasi explanation/justification, followed by an embed of the YouTube playlist, all 100, then the Top 100 list itself, and then maybe something interesting about several of these songs.

Quasi Explanation/Justification

When I was 12 I drew up lists of songs I liked, drawing stars next to each song to show how much I liked it: 1 star was good, 2 was very good, 3 was better than that, 4 the best. A very positive rating system. "Turned Down Day" by the Cyrkle was one of only two that got a 4, though I don't remember what the other one was. It's possible "Eleanor Rigby" got the 4, though she might have only been a — still impressive — 3. "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" certainly would've been a 4 except I stopped making the lists by then. And "Hanky Panky" and "Mother's Little Helper" were surely 4's as well, except they were older, from back in the summer, so I didn't feel I needed to list them. At least, I don't remember listing them.

(Why 'Turned Down Day"? That's a question to return to some other day, maybe.)

"Sunny Afternoon" was a 2 or a 3. "Sunshine Superman" was 2 or 3. Obviously they're connected in my memory. "Last Train To Clarksville," the band name Monkees meaning nothing to me yet, got 2 or 3. When the show appeared several weeks later, "(Theme From) The Monkees" got a 1. (That's a good score, remember.) Those are all I can recall, though I surely listed far more than just those.**

Why did I make such lists? Was one reason to remember song names? To remember which band did which song? Did I even write down band names?

One reason, I think, was that the lists made listening more exciting. And the ratings, they made it a competition, a car race, a competitive event. Making it a race drew me in, maybe even kept me listening more than I'd have listened otherwise.

Several years earlier when I was alone I'd run marble races on a track I had. Spent hours at a time doing it, scoring which marbles did the best. I'd play a game outside — also alone — where I'd throw a tennis ball against the basketball backboard nailed to a tree at the side of our driveway and try to catch the ball. One "team" was the thrower and the other "team" was the catcher, and if the catcher missed, the thrower scored a point, assuming the throw was in-bounds. First team to score 12 was the winner. I'd have tournaments. The teams were called Pic, Poc, Pook, and Peek. Each had its own throwing style and personality. Different windups, different arcs, sometimes different hands. Poc was my favorite and, not surprisingly, a frequent winner.

In retrospect this seems like a very boy thing: listings, scoring, winners and losers, competing.*** The imaginary tennis-ball competitors, though, had more specific criteria for winning and losing than songs do.

I never showed anyone my song lists, the ratings.

This doesn't mean there was no public purpose in this: remembering songs, knowing where I stood. But it was its own adventure, too.

So here we are. I'm still making lists, pitting songs against each other, sort of. Anyway, almost a year late, my 2016 list: as I said, I worked hard on it, listened a lot. Besides my public ongoing list I had a private YouTube playlist called "Borderlines" and another called "Interesting Songs Maybe, 2016," kept mining both for new entries, at the end had an extra 12 or 14 remaining on Borderlines that I kept relistening to, to make sure they shouldn't make the main list. I thought a lot about which songs deserved to be higher or lower, as if there was a difference between 58 and 68. (I'm going to be more casual tossing things in order this year. Just not going to spend the time.) All this on a blog which almost nobody reads anymore.

But I keep wanting to do these lists. It's one way of organizing my listening, keeping at least some of it contemporary, now that no one's paying me to review and I myself am not remembering to even look at the Great Competitive Election like the Voice's year-end poll (if it's still even a thing; I have no idea who won last year).

Of course there are plenty of other ways I organize my listening, and plenty of other questions I ask of music and of myself besides the big blunt-instrument ones, "How good is it?" and "Do I like this more than that?" But there's something pretty basic here, the question "Do I like it or not?" and "What's good?"; maybe even basic because the answers are so unsteady and the reasons so opaque.

Also, you're not seeing enough of my other questions anymore. I keep saying I'm going to post more. Maybe one reason the lists at least get posted — even this one, so horribly late — is that they have a timeline: first quarter, half year, three quarters, year's end. This one sort of has a deadline too (I'm on my sixth or seventh): at what point is it even beyond ridiculous to post it?

Here's an embed of the playlist. Honestly, I'd be surprised if anyone gives it the afternoon it would take, but I urge you to anyway. Just let it go in the background.

1. HyunA "How's This?"
2. Britney Spears ft. G-Eazy "Make Me..."
3. Crayon Pop "Vroom Vroom"
4. 4minute "Canvas"
5. FAMM'IN "Circle"
6. Céline Dion "Encore un soir"
7. Tiffany ft. Simon Dominic "Heartbreak Hotel"
8. Era Estrafi "Bon Bon"
9. DLOW "Do It Like Me"
10. Wonder Girls "Why So Lonely"
11 through 100Collapse )

Commentary: Céline, Tiffany, Kenji Minogue, Yoonmirae, MOBB, TacocatCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/367192.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Two by Shinee
Shinee are my favorite of the SM boybands, though I've no particular insights into either Shinee or Jonghyun (and obviously no insight into the suicide of a young man I knew almost nothing about).

Here are my two favorite Shinee tracks; besides singing and dancing, Jonghyun wrote the lyrics on these two.*

*You may recognize the melody of "Juliette" as "Deal With It," recorded originally and then shelved by Jay Sean, subsequently a small-sized hit in America for Corbin Bleu; Shinee reworked it with all new words by Jonghyun and bandmate Minho, making it tense and tingly and gorgeous.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/367095.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.