(Wrote this in a flash, hope it’s coherent)
I’ll begin with the conclusion: Kanye’s “Yeezus” is an album for music snobs only. I can’t imagine non-obsessives enjoying it even a little bit. There are no choruses, no melodies, nothing to sing along to, no real catchiness whatsoever. Instead there are sirens, screams, echoing yelps, lots of silence and some of the most vulgar, terrible lyrics I’ve ever heard. I don’t mean swears, either. I mean straight-up x-rated shit.
So, no, casual music listener, I do not think you will enjoy “Yeezus.” It’s not exactly a fun listen.
What it IS: an unbelievably inventive exploration of the medium. I’m talking a full-fledged sonic assault, light years beyond other music, rap or otherwise. Crazy, difficult, challenging, and best of all new.
I’m not sure yet whether I enjoy listening to the album (again: sirens and screams), but I am damn inspired by the effort. I love that Kanye could have gone Jay-Z or Dre on us and released a happy batch of party anthems, but instead chose not to. He chose to continue to reinvent the form.
Someone in a review I read compared him to Kurt Cobain for stretching the boundaries of what’s acceptable and not giving a damn what the public thinks (“Rape Me” as the main example), but in my eyes Kanye — the artist, not the celebrity, don’t give a shit about Celebrity Kanye — reminds me of Jeff Tweedy.
I don’t know if you ever saw the Wilco documentary “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” about the making of the surefire, inarguable classic album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” but it perfectly captures the the music-making process, and the making of art in general. There are two scenes that exemplify Wilco’s (and Kanye’s, and many other ambitious artists) point of view. I’ll paraphrase because I don’t have time to watch it again.
1. After they get done practicing one of the new songs, Jay Bennett says something to the effect of, “If you aren’t careful, everything ends up becoming a folk song.” Perfect. Because the easy-strumming singalong is the simplest thing to do. The hard part is adding other instruments and distortions, et al. If you want to truly challenge the form, you go past the fun singalong. (Note: I love folk songs, but they can’t ALL be folk songs.)
2. Tweedy at one point said they will write a new song, make it sound great and then immediately break it down and start turning it into something new. There’s a scene where they are singing (I think) “I’m the Man Who Loves You,” but this version is a very basic adult contemporary rock song. Pleasant though, top-40 material for sure. They got done playing this song that would have gotten them radio play and sellouts and the mansions and whatever, and Tweedy was like, “eh.” And the final version has this distorted guitar lick and some funky background vocals, and it’s the opposite of a radio hit. The whole album is like that; if they wanted to make it a happy adult contemporary album in the guise of The Fray or whoever, it would have been a no-doubt chart-topper. But they turned their back on it because it was important to them to do so.
In the long run it was just a couple quick scenes in a movie no one saw, but they had a very lasting effect on me in all areas of life. Think harder. Go further. That effort is not confined to music.
That’s why Kanye’s the best. No one shows album-to-album evolution like him. Listening to “The College Dropout” after “Yeezus” is like listening to a pre-teen’s first crack at making music, which is fucking insane because “The College Dropout” is still amazing. It’s better than 99% of music, and “Yeezus” makes it sounds like teenybopper music from a generation ago.
Which isn’t to say I’ll for sure be blasting it nonstop. According to iTunes I’ve listened to it 15 times so far and feel like I’m just getting started. I may end up not liking it and giving up by next week. But already I can say I 100% understand the many critics calling it a masterpiece, and would rather listen to some crazy shit like this than anything on any radio station in the country. It’s a no-brainer.
But again, that’s because I’m a snob. I’ve heard a version of those radio songs a million times, because I’ve listened to a billion hours of music, because for a long time music was all I cared about. I understand why others don’t care about being “challenged” by music and just want to sing along to Bruno Mars. I get why those non-obsessed people think we obsessives are fools with laughable priorities. Makes all the sense in the world.
And for those people, I suggest earlier Kanye. Meantime, I’m diving back in for listen #16.
My favorite thing about going to concerts has always been looking around and thinking that there’s a lot of people in here that are very much like me, a lot of people in here I could have a full conversation with. I might even get laid in this room. You’re not getting laid if you’re standing there with your cellphone. — http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/magazine/jason-isbell-unloaded.html?pagewanted=all
From my wife’s work. We’ll have to return the work spurs I bought her.
BIG NEWS, team: the Broxeys are moving to Texas. I’ll spare you the details but I was offered a once-in-a-career opportunity at JCP, so we’re packing up and heading south at the beginning of April. Will share more details on the upcoming adventure as they happen.
And now let’s all listen to my anthem these past few weeks while mulling over the decision.
Use Chrome, save lives. Data don’t lie.
Discovered a killer concept over at freshneck.com: Netflix for ties. Owning ties is for the birds; this it the way to go. I’m furious with myself for not thinking of it first.
There are three plans starting at $15/month and a solid selection of ties (and accessories). I got my first shipment today and the ties are in great shape, so color me enthused.
(BTW I wasn’t paid for this.)
1. Either I wasn’t paying close enough attention or “Silver Linings Playbook” deserves a stop atop the list of most misleading trailers of all time. I expected a dark romantic comedy about a deranged football superfan being tamed/improved after meeting a girl. Not even close.
2. I realize it was probably the point of the story, but it’s one of the most mood-volatile movies I’ve ever seen. It goes from funny to sad, lighthearted to intense, warm to awkward in seconds flat, up down ha ha happy now sad then hilarious wait no oh god what’s happening such a bummer okay whew now everything is fine funny stuff no oh god here we go again. Repeat for 122 minutes.
3. Somehow even with the emotional turbulence, it still works. It’s just real enough to be worth the less-fun moments, and just funny enough to avoid being too heavy. A charming mess. Which, again, was probably the point. B+.
The Innocent Man, from Texas Monthly. It’s incredibly long but if you’ve got the time on your hands, it is a perfect story. Absolutely perfect. Dig in.
Remember awkwardfamilyphotos.com? You heard about it in ‘09ish, spent an hour there laughing your ass off and then immediately forgot it existed. Well, it’s still kicking and still occasionally hilarious. Case in point.
Leopards: A Man-Eating Leopard Is Running Wild in Nepal(via @Gawker) -
If you were thinking about going to Nepal (or, if you already live there), consider yourself warned: there’s a man-eating leopard on the loose that, so far, has killed and devoured 15 people, including 10 children.
I spent about 12 hours raking and mulching leaves and shaking my fist at the sky this weekend, which helped to solidify an opinion I’ve held since becoming a homeowner: trees are for parks, not yards.
We had seven trees in our yard when we moved in last year. I’ve since chopped down two, and if I had it my way I’d get rid of the other five and then haul my chainsaw to other people’s yards and chop down every last one until my mission was complete.
I have three reasons for this opinion. I welcome your counter-arguments in support of trees, but I will warn you: I’ve heard all of them, and they aren’t effective.
1. Unwanted shade. Do you like sunlight? I do, and when it’s shining I’d like to sit in my backyard and bask in the glow. Right now with all the trees in our yard the sun peeks through in a hula-hoop sized spotlight, so as the sun floats to the horizon my wife and I have to chair-waddle every few minutes all over the yard chasing the glow until it’s finally gone for the day and we’re left sitting in the far corner of the yard like a couple of rubes.
Furthermore, the lawn looks like shit. You know those homeowners who water and fertilize and mulch and aerate their turf, who cut it blade-by-blade on their knees and read it Dr. Seuss books at night? I am the very opposite of those idiots. I could not possibly care less how my lawn looks. And yet, an abundance of trees means that the sun half of your yard needs to be mowed on the hour, and the half in the shade looks like an unkempt softball infield. Mow all the time or mow basically never, doesn’t matter because both options are awful.
2. Bugs, squirrels, birds and other varmint. I don’t know what “varmint” includes and I don’t feel like looking it up, so I’m going to continue to believe it means any harmless animal that eats your plants and vegetables and gnaws on your siding and chews through wires and basically screws your life up solely by existing. Trees attract varmint and them varmint be crazy annoying.
3. The goddamn leaves. I have a supercharged badass leaf blower and mulcher. Top of the line model. The thing could blow the shingles off the roof if I aimed it correctly, and I once sucked the tankini top off the neighbor chick sunbathing across the alley in a moment of euphoric - and mistaken - invincibility that I have since paid dearly for by my wife, the neighbors and numerous authorities.
Where was I? Oh right, the supercharged badass leaf blower. The thing is insanely powerful and has saved me countless hours I would have spent raking/mentally composing my suicide note.
Yet, even with probably the greatest outdoor power tool known to man, the act of picking up leaves is the most soul-crushing chore of all. It is pure hell. Not only does it take for-fucking-ever, but you spend 6 hours doing it Saturday afternoon and get your yard looking spotless, only to wake up Sunday with a blinding hangover (you pounded 14 beers to drown the realization of your pathetic life) and sharp shoulder pains (that leaf blower be heavy, yo) only to look out the window to check the weather because maybe you’ll go for a bike ride if it’s oh you have got to be fucking kidding me MORE LEAVES?! Fuck fuck fuck. And this is where you pull a Newman and scream at your wife that no matter what you do, no matter how hard you work to get ahead, the leaves keep coming and coming and goddammit it just never ends, meanwhile she’s trying in vain to earmuff both the kids in horror before finally packing up to stay at her sister’s for a while until you get a handle on your rage issues, you lunatic.
And no one wants that. So here’s the solution: rent a wood chipper, borrow your hermit uncle’s kick-ass chainsaw and get to chopping. Knock down every damn tree in your yard, spread the wood chips fancily around the deck, wave goodbye to the squirrels and smile at the sun, then go inside and calculate the money you’ll be saving on rakes and lawn bags and other bullshit expenditures you won’t need any more. Take half the money and give it to the rainforests to offset the nature-killing and take the other half to buy your poor wife some flowers. The kind you plant.
“Carried Away” - Passion Pit