O.K., it’s been a few weeks now since the latest annual installment of The Village Voice Pazz & Jop Critics’ Poll made its newsstand debut, but no-lifer that I am, I’m still obsessing over the results. My smug inner contrarian was happy to see that precisely zero of the other 694 critics who participated voted Read More
Nick Cave is the Christopher Walken of pop music. Both performers love to create and inhabit characters that carry creepiness to uncharted heights. And yet they manage to infuse those characters with an emotional commitment so strong that we’re often as attracted to them as we are repulsed.
Take, for example, Mr. Walken’s performance as Read More
The early commercial success of George Harrison’s latest and, I’ll presume, last album, Brainwashed (Capitol)-it debuted in the Billboard Top 20-may prove that even in the midst of widespread Eminemania and Avrilidolatry, an audience still exists for guitar-based pop in the hallowed 1960′s-70′s tradition.
Then again, it may only prove that nothing sells quite like Read More
The Oct. 30 murder of Run-D.M.C.’s Jam Master Jay has predictably inspired a plethora of wheezy editorials on the cultural significance of hip-hop’s violent streak. But for me, the news, sad as it was, triggered some fond memories. Seeing Run-D.M.C. in the headlines brought me back to my high-school days, when Jay and his two Read More
Pop-music critics are lucky bastards: We get a lot of free CD’s in the mail. We’re also cursed, for the very same reason. The discs quickly pile up all over the place, a constant, painful reminder of how much of our lives we’ve frittered away listening to a lot of mostly mediocre music for mostly Read More
Is this the year that earnestness returned to popular music? It’s difficult to answer that question now, but nearly as difficult to deny that, one year after the Sept. 11 attacks, an undercurrent of gravity and melancholy runs through large portions of the pop landscape.
Just such a somber mood links three eagerly anticipated fall Read More
There are some people who say that Linda Thompson is the greatest female rock singer alive. I’m not one of them-partly because I think her music is too tied to the British folk tradition to be called “rock,” and partly because I’m wary of making grandiose pronouncements about the relative worth of musicians. But I Read More
Few have ever called Bob Dylan’s singing pretty. Even those who adore his distinctive rasp ‘n’ wheeze would probably agree that he’s been getting diminishing returns from his vocal cords for the last two decades. But if you thought Mr. Dylan’s pipes were shot before, you were wrong. On Love and Theft (Columbia), his 29th Read More