Tag Archives: music

Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Top Ten Worthy-of-Being-Remembered Songs of 2009

2009 happened to be one of my best years, but I know that I’m one of the few who can say that these days. 

For most, 2009 blew big chunks and I’m not surprised to see many sticking their heads under their pillows, wrapping their rosaries around their neck, and praying for it all to go away. Fast.

Personally, I don’t think 2009 was a particularly compelling year for music, but there are a few stand-outs.  And btw, I’ve seen some of the other suggests from the music mags and I think most of them are reaching…trying to make stuff that was catchy-at-best appear larger than reality. Hey, we’ve all got blank space to fill, so I get it.

Alright, I’ll stop stalling and throw it at you.  See what sticks as the earworm in your canal…

10.  “How I Got Over,”  (The Roots)

It’s unusual for me to feature a hip hop selection because I think most of the genre’s turned to shit. These guys are the exception.  The Roots – out of Philly – really keep getting better.  Can’t find this particular track on iTunes, but found it through SPIN magazine’s Top 20 list.

9. “Daniel,”  (Bat for Lashes)

Everyone in the alternative music community went completely ape-shit over Bat for Lashes sophomore effort, Two Suns, this year.  Rightfully so because Nastasha Khan is an ethereal, indie rock shaman.  I had tickets for their DC concert at the 9:30 Club, but couldn’t go at the last minute. Sad thing is, I couldn’t give them away because no one’s really heard of them yet.  Pity because she’s amazing.  Think Goldfrapp with St. Vincent and you’re most of the way there…

8. “Laughter with a Mouth of Blood,”  (St. Vincent)

Ok, so I know I’m twelve years old, but I love music mixes and no one fucking makes them anymore. Well, not for me anyways.  There’s one exception and that’s my brother-from-another-mother, Chez Pazienza – from Deus Ex Malcontent dot com fame…he came to stay with us for five days earlier this year (leaving the toilet seat up every time) and I pestered him into making me a mix since I think his taste in music is infinitely better than mine.

This track was on there, and I think Annie Clark (St.Vincent) is a trip – sashaying her way through a song like soft pedaling it through an orchestral daisy field, but hits you with lyrics as dark as the tornado cloud sneaking up on your laissez-fare-loving ass.

By the way, do I ever get a mention on his blog?  No. Nada. None. I’m just saying, some love and props would be nice.

7. “Misguided Ghosts,” (Paramore)

 

There are a lot of people my age afraid to admit they like Paramore – probably because their sophomore album was such a raucous hit amongst the kiddies, plus them being featured on the Twilight soundtracks.  But fuck it because they’re awesome – a heart-pumping machiatto blend of Evanescence, Jimmy Eat World, and the early days of No Doubt.  This is actually one of their quieter tracks, which flew under many other’s radar for 2009, but not mine.

6. “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” (Cage the Elephant)

This is a hot track, reminding me of The Black Crowes in their heyday. You can’t help but bob your head and slap your thigh when listening to this one.

5. “Just Breathe,” (Pearl Jam)

This should probably be number one, considering the year most have had, because how can you go wrong when Eddie Vedder reminds you to be grateful for what you have, and breathe on through the rest of the shit ’til it passes? Pearl Jam hasn’t lost a thing since they came out of Seattle in the early 90s.  I’m so proud of these guys…

 4. “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down.

God, I love this girl, and shame on me for not sharing that enough.  Not only is she an amazing performer and songwriter, but Ms. Keyes is one of those rare artists truly comfortable in her own skin.  And because of that, she’s got nothing to prove.

Maybe that’s why she keeps coming out with masterpieces such as ‘Empire State of Mind’ – which I consider on par with not only previous hits such as “No One” and “Fallin’ ” but should be part of the cannon of classics honoring New York City like Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York” and Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.” It really is that good. Plus, she’s one of the few artists my baby girls’ and I agree on who rock.

3. “Furnace Room Lullaby,” Neko Case.

Hands down, Neko Case is the most powerful, sonorous vocalist you’ve probably never heard of.  Change that immediately.  Some want to label her as part of the singer/songwriter genre, others alt-country…but forget all that garbage. Like most women worth knowing and wooing, she’s beyond definition, so stop trying to box her in and enjoy the ride. Yeah.

2. “Hell,” (Tegan and Sara)

The best thing to come out of Canada since, well…anything.  For those thinking of Mike Myers and Michael J. Fox, go home to your Back to the Future sheet-covered beds and get a life.

1. “1901,” (Phoenix)

It kills me a bit to put this one on there.  Not just because this song is featured – I think – in a car commercial, although that’s a big part of it.  Many bands took 2009 as an opportunity to time travel back to the 80s, to the best and worst of what the synthesizer-laden pop rock era had to offer. Jesus, if Lady Gaga isn’t the regurgitation of Missing Person’s Dale Bozzio, I don’t know what is.  I personally don’t consider this to be an era of music worth emulating all that much, but if you’re going to do it, then capture the essence of what its pop scene was offering….flashy synthesizer work, a decent bass groove, and an undeniable hook. And that’s really about it.

So while Phoenix’s #1 single here isn’t necessarily the deepest or most soul-stirring selection I could have chosen, I think it’s the absolute, goddamn best of what everyone else was musically trying to do in 2009.  And for those of you who want a touch more analysis here, let’s just hope the fascination with electronic keyboards-inspired escapism and Wall Street ‘greed is good’ ethos of the 1980s which infestated 2009 will be dumped in the rest of the ditch that was this year for so many.

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Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Guilty Pleasures of 2009: The Songs

 

I really can’t believe I’m going to admit to the following, but I was recently inspired by my doppleganger crew at Pajiba, who came up with yet another hysterical random list of their Top Guilty Movie Pleasures for 2009.  Well, I’ve got plenty of those too, but since this here is (ahem) supposedly a music site – although admittedly not a lot of music of late – I figured I too would be brave and come out of the Sucky Song Closet. 

Dustin, TK, Stacey (I’m thinking that butterfly sweatshirt), Nicole…it’s all your faults:

10. Taylor Swift’s “Should’ve Said No.”

YOU try living with a tween and a wanna-be tween who play this on a continuous loop and see if you don’t start humming along in spite yourself.  It’s catchy as hell.

9. Owl City’s “Fireflies”

Just when you thought Minnesota could be cool (think home base to Prince and independent magazine, Utne Reader) here comes Adam Young with his mop head and lap top ruining it all.  He’s cheerful and bouncy and just-so-godamn-glad-to-meet-ya! – and I like it all in spite of myself.  What can I say? It help offset the Seasonal Affective Disorder.

8. Kris Allen’s “Heartless”

I can’t stand American Idol and I personally thought that Adam Lambert was robbed by not winning this year.  That said, I thought Kris Allen’s live version of Kayne West’s “Heartless” was a killer.  Unfortunately, the version sold through iTunes was this orchestra-laden sap track. It didn’t have half the heart and soul of the one I saw on the show. And for me to say that anything coming out of Idol had a pulse is as close as I’m ever going to get with dancing with the corporate devil.

7. Katy Perry’s “Hot n Cold”

Katy Perry Esquire 1

She’s just so friggin adorable, I can’t stand it.  And you can dance to her music too.  I can see what Russell Brand sees in her. Fur sure 😉

6. Colbie Caillat’s “Fallin’ for You”

I know, I know…she’s like the Jennifer Aniston of the music business.  Sweet and light and oh-so-vanilla.  But what the hell, sometimes I like a little extra saccarine in my coffee.

5.  John Mayer’s “Who Says”

John Mayer - 2007 Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Awards Party

Oy, what a douche bag.  But it’s oh so true when I say I hate myself for loving you. Or at least your music. God help me.

4.  Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream”

Susan Boyle

Yeah, yeah…she’s just this side of dumpy, which frankly made her rendition of this song all the more effective. Think about it. The song’s about a washed up single mom who has been beaten down by life. You look at her singing that song and damn it, you believe every word outta that bitch’s mouth!

3.  Any Song Off the TV Show “Glee”

glee

This show not only made loving musical theater hip, but actually transformed such guilty pleasures of the past – like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Belivin'” – into a 2009 Top Ten hit.  That’s some powerful stuff – plus they feature original Broadway cast member, Lea Michaels, from “Spring Awakening” as the Jewess temptress. And I luv that.

2. All Music from Both the “Twilight” and “New Moon” Soundtracks

The movie was as hypnotic as a 10-car pile up, and the books – I hear – aren’t worthy of gracing one’s bathroom throne.  But color me in sparkles because I love the music featured on both soundtracks.  It’s kick-ass emo for a new generation of sop-heads. Go figure.

1. Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb”

Did Miley Cyrus delete her Twitter account because of love?

I can’t believe…let me repeat….I can’t BA-LEEVE….I’m admitting to this, but when I had to take my Sweet Pea to see that God-forsaken Hannah Montana movie – which sucked – the one part that got to me was her singing this song. I actually got a lil’ misty.  And folks, I have no earthly good explanation for it.  Maybe I was premenstrual.  Perhaps I was caught up in my daughter’s excitement. I don’t know. But it’s obvious I need serious help.

Seriously.

A Mix & Bitch Account of The American Music Awards

 

I’m not a fan of award shows for their designated purpose per se, of giving the entertainment industry a ‘pat on the back’ for every semi-creative hiccup that comes out of their mouths.  But they’re great if you need to expunge the snarky within.  Because they’re so over-the-top these days, the opportunity to let out the inner bitchy critic is just too easy to resist.  So without further adieu, here I go…

I’m a fan of Kate Hudson. I think she channels the adorable and quirky just as good as her mama, Goldie Hawn ever did.  And I really do get that she’s a thin girl with little on top.  But man o man, take a look at this shot from the AMAs…

I mean – MY GOD – there’s nothing there!  Not even two little training bra bumps. Jesus, Kate…eat some sandwiches with extra mayo and grow a pair.  We’ve seen you with them before.  Remember when?

Ok, granted… you were pregnant in this picture.  But sans the baby bump, you probably had an extra fifteen to twenty pounds on ya.  Get what kitten…they look good on you.

Speaking of growing a pair, seems now that Adam Lambert’s out of the American Idol box, he wants to get his freak on, like, ten fold…

Here, he’s alerting the crowd that, yes, he does have a penis.

And here, he’s making sure we’re all painfully aware of what he likes done to his penis.

And that he doesn’t want any girl cooties near his magic mike…

“Eew! Don’t touch it! It’ll shrinky-dink back to its original size!”

Ahh….that’s better….

Boy meets boy….boy mauls boy. A classic love story.

Speaking of bro-mances…look who 50 cent brought to the AMAs as his date…

Wow, it’s the former hottie – now puffy -Val Kilmer.  It breaks my heart to see how badly he’s aged….

Anyway, a lot of boy love at the AMA’s this year, which is – ya know – fine.  But leave it to Rhianna to remind us what a woman looks like…

Mind you, a bullet-touting, S & M bondage loving, hospital tape-wearing woman. Takes a lot of something to have the balls to wear this…which incidentally makes Rhianna the one sporting the biggest dick at the AMAs this year.

Take that Chris Brown, 50 cent, Lambert and your Merry Men…

Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Rant: Are Rock Stars Too Smart for Scientology?

 

Scientology didn’t give Katie Holmes quite the career boost she was counting on, now did it?

So earlier in the week, film director Paul Haggis – a long, devoted Scientologist – disavowed himself from his pyramid scheme of a religion, mostly due to the organization’s lack of action against anti-gay legislative initiatives.  And my first reaction was “that’s what finally got him to jump ship and not all of the other bat-shit crazy stuff the cult  proclaims?” To each his own, I say. 

You know, I expect actors and directors to fall for the over-the-top declarations of a meglomaniacal science writer who’s been quoted as saying the best way to make some money is to start a religion…they live in Los Angeles for Christ’s sake…where even alien-inspired immortality is possible (L. Ron Hubbard’s words, not mine).  I’m not entirely convinced that some of them haven’t sold their souls to the Horned One/Tom Cruise in order to further their careers.  Beats having to blow Harvey Weinstein, that’s for sure.

So color me incredulous, but I expect more out of my rock stars/musicians than to fall for the likes of Scientology.  I guess I think of those in the music business as being a bit more jaded and savvy, and therefore not as likely to fall for L. Ron Hubbard’s dianetic debacle of a faith.  But I was wrong.  So wrong.  Take a look at the following in the music business who claim to be – gulp – Scientologists:

Ok, some of them you already know like…

Lisa Marie Presley (they can have her. No big loss)

Isaac Hayes (who’s dead and gone – guess he didn’t get high enough in

the organization to achieve Immortal Status, hmm?)

But did you know that Chaka Khan is one?

And Brandy?

Along with Dave Davies from The Kinks? THE KINKS???

Scientology can also lay claim to Rob Thomas, Doug E. Fresh

And last – and the one that breaks my heart the most….

Beck.

Sigh. You’re just too cool for Scientology. And supposedly, too intelligent and hip and funny to fall for a raging lunatic’s delusion of grandeur scheme. 

There were others before you, Beck, who had fallen for the Dianetic Diatribe, but came out the other side.  Here’s a list of former musician Scientologist who just….who just….stopped taking drugs long enough to realize what they’d gotten themselves into….they are:

Liz Phair

Leonard Cohen

Gloria Gaynor

Courtney Love (and psst, if you know that Scientology was too crazy for Courtney Love, then MAN, it must be WHACK)

Al Jarreau (what’s with all the black people in Scientology? Do they get a discount on auditing sessions or something?)

Lou Rawls

Van Morrison (yep. Really).

Hey Church of Scientology…you can keep all the rest of them, but please, not Beck.  And one last word on the subject…

Bitch Slap of the Week: CD Review of Zero 7’s Yeah Ghost

                       

Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Gotta Get Track:  Swing

If you’re one of the millions who fell madly in love with Zero 7’s down tempo sound on When It Falls and Simple Things, then you’re not going to be happy with their latest release, Yeah Ghost.  However, if you’re open to a more soulful  – may I even dare say, funk-inspired Zero 7 – then you’re going to love this record.  I have a feeling, however, that many of their urban–lounge-hanging fans are going to sigh deep and long for the Zero 7 girl they fell in love with – not the one all glammed up and arriving at their door today.

What has stayed the same is the songwriting team of Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns, who still expertly craft each song without falling into the familiar traps of overproduction like so many others of their genre tend to do.  Also a continuing staple is the duo outsourcing vocals (bringing to light such talents in the past as Sia, José Gonzalez, and Tina Dico):  this time, you’ll hear the likes of Martha Tilston on tracks Pop Art Blue and Swing, and Eska Mtungwazi on Medicine Man, Sleeper, Mr. McGee, and The Road.  Each vocalist offers their own spin and interpretation to Binns and Hardaker’s hardware, and add some delicious texture and depth to the album, maybe even more so than past vocalists (and that’s saying something because I loved those guys and gals).   Binns also performs on Everything Up (Zizou), and while not astounding, somehow still adds to the richness of their direction.

Overall, a new direction for the electronica superstars – one which may not be fully embraced by their fan base, but one which may bring new minions on board nonetheless.

 

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What’s YOUR Favorite Song?

RS 500 Songs Photo

I know I tend to give Rolling Stones a hard time, but that’s how I show my love.  Anyway, while I’m not ambitious enough to post the Top 500 Songs of All Times, I’m up for offering the Top 100.  So let me know what you would put on the list.  Hell, give me your own Top 100 and see how many line up with I put on the blog this week 🙂

Can’t wait to see what you all come up with…

Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Confession #15: Trent Reznor and Me

For those looking at the title and expecting to hear about some crazy-freaky, back stage romp session, stop reading now because I’ll disappoint you.  For those of you who follow music, you’ll know that it’s the 20th Anniversary of the release of NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine, and while 99% of the time I just shrug and roll my eyes at celebrating the anniversary of a record, for Trent’s seminal work, I’ll make an exception.

Pretty Hate Machine was like nothing I had ever heard.  Full of indignant rage and venom,  Reznor managed to capture the same white male fury over societal class inequities and social isolation often relegated to the metal subgenre, but instead, his message was filtered through the new wave derivative called “industrial”.   Taking most of his influence from glam alternative such as David Bowie, new wavers Kraftwerk and Gary Numan, and mixing it with industrial legends like Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails’ brought industrial to a wider audience.

And it came at the perfect time.  Having barely emerged from the greed and corruption of the Eighties decade in one soulful piece (remember Gordon Gecko’s edict, ‘greed is good’?), there were a slew of working-class anthems eschewing political and corporate corruption peppering the airwaves, like Tracy Chapman’s ‘Talkin’ Bout a Revolution’ and later on Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ capturing our collective attention.  Trent rallied against all of it, with a fury and intensity not yet experienced by Generation Xers.

I’ve gotta admit, at the time seeing the pampered and privileged at the University of Miami singing  with the likes of Vedder and Cobain was out-and-out laughable…what the hell do they have to be angry about? They’ve got the world by the balls and they know it.  But even with the earnest intention of the message, I knew they were singing along for(gulp) fashion and nothing more. 

Sooner versus later, I cast off the yoke of my former sorority self (it never seemed to fit anyway) and became a DJ at  WVUM.  That’s where all the smart kids on scholarships hung out, and another world opened up to me.  And they all listened to NIN and spoke fluent Reznor. He screamed of a world they knew all too well, one where even white male priviledge wasn’t a guarantee to the keys to the kingdom.  I admit, I was a tourist, but I knew enough to not pretend to be something I wasn’t…I was an upper-middle class, suburban gal who only worked jobs for extra spending money.  I didn’t know half of the socioeconomic shit they struggled with.  But I came from a messed-up family background all the same,  filled with long-standing abuse…in other words, I was damaged somehow and they were sharp enough to recognize that.  I was accepted as one of their own in a way I had hoped would have occurred through Greek-inspired sorority sisterhood (but fell tragically short).  It didn’t matter what kind of car I drove or if I was wearing the latest ridiculous pair of EG socks, but it did mattered what I thought and if I had the wit and wisdom to back it up.  And I couldn’t fake it – any of it – because that bullshit would be sensed a mile away and not tolerated.

And somehow, through songs like “Head Like a Hole,”  “Terrible Lie,” “Down in It,” among others, I found my voice – to express my rage at a family throwing me emotionally under the bus, to free myself from the suffocating dictates of my socio-religious culture, and from the heartbreak and tyranny of being taken for granted by the supposed love of my life at the time.  I think Pretty Hate Machine did that for a lot of us. 

It got worse before it got better, and listening to too much NIN will probably have you raging and wallowing in it longer than you should, but regardless, it was a great release at the time.  So there’s that…