NEW MUSIC FOR OLDS #24
Man, do I miss tortured ecstasy!
Allow me to sucker you in with a sexy (but not too sexy) photo of a sexy (but not too sexy) young man that many people find sexy (but, again, not too sexy).
In today’s somewhat slightly bitchy New Music for Olds:
Alternate reality nostalgia
Parse-worthy hip hop
Primo high school poet shit
Music’s Biggest Night (TM)
And, a scathing review to rule all scathing reviews
Lest we forget…
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In the revised words of Will.I.Am, let’s get it started.
Jadu Heart, “Blame”
Nutshell: Bouncy dream pop
Thoughts: “Blame” makes me wish I in the backseat of a friend’s car, driving around aimlessly on a school night. Not that this is the kind of music I was listening to in high school—more likely, we’d be blasting The Real Thing or Joe’s Garage. But this gauzy, romantic tune fills me with an alternate reality nostalgia. I love how the melody in the first verse is distinct from that of the second—it’s as if they couldn’t decided which was better and decided “Fuck it, let’s use ‘em both”. That kind of move can come off as wishy-washy songwriting, but here I think it prevents this rather simple song from wearing thin. Don’t overthink this one!
Pairing Suggestion: Milk Duds, Blue raspberry slush puppy
Reuben Vincent ft. Domani, “Trickin”
WARNING: Almost comically gratuitous use of “bitch” here. And also, that word so many White guys are furious they’re not allowed to say.
Album: Love is War
Nutshell: Hip hop
Voltage: 6 (but 8, lyrically)
Thoughts: Using spoken audio for a song’s hook is a bit of a gimmick. But it’s one that just about always works on me, especially when the source is someone who speaks as melodiously as Katt Williams. The looped sample is what made my ears perk up initially, but it’s Reuben Vincent’s thoughtful wordplay that keep me interested. Can’t say I relate to the man’s worldview, but I’m not used to the Don Juan lifestyle being described with such nuance and self-awareness. There are no throwaway lyrics here and they’re worth parsing for yourself. I’m less interested in the final third, when “Domani” takes over (“collabos” mostly stink, imho), but Reuben Vincent seems like the real deal. You know, insomuch as I understand what constitutes ‘the real deal’.
Pairing Suggestion: Definitely not singing along out loud…1
The Murder Capital, “Ethel”
Album: Gigi’s Recovery
Nutshell: Dramatic goth rock
Thoughts: Time to suck in those cheeks and saunter around like a world weary artiste. This Irish band reminds me of Interpol, which is a more contemporary way of saying they sound like Joy Division. There’s also a good helping of Radiohead, with slow builds and cool atmospheric flourishes. Given that I’ve name-dropped three bands in the first three sentences, it’s fair to say The Murder Capital isn’t doing anything brand new. But what they do, they do very effectively. Each song on Gigi’s Recovery has at least one moment where I can imagine a packed crowd of high school poets singing along in tortured ecstasy. Man, do I miss tortured ecstacy.
Pairing Suggestion: Moping around, waiting to be asked if you’re okay.
Note: This little tangent inspired me to dig up some of my high school poetry and HOO BOY…
And the NMFO-y goes to…
A FEW WORDS ON THE GRAMMYS
Sunday night, while watching my (yes, my) New York Knickerbockers take on the Philadelphia 76ers, I realized the 2023 Grammy Awards were about to start. I thought I should probably tune in. Like, maybe it’s my responsibility to tune in? One would assume Music’s Biggest Night (TM) falls under the purview of a newsletter purportedly covering “new music”.
I considered it for a good 12-15 seconds before deciding “Nah, fuck that”.
And thank god I fucked that—the Knicks came back from a 21 point first quarter deficit to notch one of the best wins of the season!
But it got me thinking: Why can’t I even fathom caring about the Grammys? It’s not as if I’m boycotting—I simply don’t care. Never have.
This take is not exactly piping hot. Heck, google the phrase “why the Grammys suck”. But the sticking points are usually related to the event’s execution—the wrong nominees, the wrong winners, questions of inclusivity, the arcane voting process, snubs, oversights, etc. All of those things are real, but if they were truly the determining factors, another music awards show could come along at eat the Grammys’ lunch. But second-tier shows like The American Music Awards and Billboard make even less of a cultural impact, even when compared with film and television equivalents like the Golden Globes. I’d argue that the difference is fundamental: our relationship to music is personal in a way that’s incongruous with genre nonspecific awards.
It’s mostly a numbers thing—more albums are released in a calendar year than feature films, by a factor of 10-20 (it’s difficult to nail down hard numbers). To say nothing of singles! You can be an average moviegoer and still absorb enough that, come Oscar time, you have a casual rooting interest in the ceremony. Popular music, on the other hand, is so splintered that it’s nigh impossible for there to be any consensus as to what truly matters in a given year. I mean, create all the narratives you want about who “deserves” Song of the Year, but you may as well be trying to determine “Best Grain of Sand” or “Coolest Car Whizzing By on the Interstate”
I think that’s why I am so disinterested in the Grammys. It’s a room full of cornballs trying, through blunt force faux enthusiasm, to celebrate a Monoculture that doesn’t exist. Sure, I’m an ancient whose pop cultural opinion is of limited value. But I’ve been around long enough to know this: three months from now, no one whose paycheck doesn’t depend on it will give a shit who did or didn’t win a Grammy.
That said, congratulations to human Panera Bread, Harry Styles.
EVEN FEWER WORDS ON MÅNESKIN
If you follow me on Twitter, you may be aware that I’m not a huge fan of the Italian rock-flavored product known as Måneskin.
I try to keep this newsletter free of outright negativity—it runs counter to NMFO’s mission and the last thing the world needs is another farty Gen X-er yammering on about how everything sucks. Yes, I’m aware that I literally just finished complaining about the Grammys. But hand to gosh, I do try my best to keep things positive around here.
So when I direct you to this absolutely scathing Pitchfork review of Måneskin’s latest album, Rush!, don’t think of it as delighting in negativity, but as sincere praise for writer Jeremy D. Larsen’s hilarious and incisive prose. Here’s a taste:
Well that was nice, wasn’t it? We sure do have fun together. Kinda makes you want to share this post, doesn’t it?
Paid Subscribees, I will see you next Wednesday, where I may (or may not) dig into the musical career of Olympic legend Carl Lewis. Freebies, doesn’t that make you want to…UPGRADE?
Shakedown complete. Thanks for reading.
Speaking for myself (but also for you, most likely)