It’s come to that time of year. When the Couldawouldashoulda’s become frankly painful to read off, because they are all excellent releases that just couldn’t quite last in the dog-eat-dog world of Check Your Mode’s list of 50 greatest albums of the year. We’re talking A-‘s here, all of them. These are albums on my Recommended list that simply won’t show up on my year-end aggregate, and that makes me very sad. And yet, life goes on. So begins, with reluctance, the first of a few particularly contentious end-of-the-month Honorable Mentions lists. Here are the Couldawouldashoulda’s of September 2011.
Oh, and, obviously, the blog’s been inactive for the past month, and I admit I was slacking pretty terribly throughout July as well (hence never getting around to doing the Couldawouldashoulda’s for that month and August). Well, that’s going to stop. So, to kick things off, I’m going to do a recap of the Couldawouldashoulda’s of July and August 2011 as well. Will they be sophisticated vignettes of esteemed music releases? Well, if more burger metaphors pass as sophisticated vignettes, then grab your monocle and cashmere girdle, because here’s the recap of the Couldawouldashoulda’s of July and August!
Couldawouldashoulda: July 2011
Well, it’s certainly a very cultured burger. It has nuanced doses of flavors from all over New York City that could only have been assembled by a very knowledgeable and creative chef. Perhaps the bun and burger, themselves, could have used a little more zest, but those unique flavors are enough to keep me going. I might just eat this with a knife and fork I feel so fancy.
Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 – From Africa With Fury: Rise
One of many burgers I simply haven’t gotten around to talking about. Which is a shame, because this one’s really quite nice. Smooth texture, but a spicy undercurrent that hints at a dark underbelly just beneath the surface. And I know what you’re thinking: “Paul, the guy just overcooked the burger!” If you actually think that, then you obviously overestimate how seriously I take my job.
Like when the diner you’ve been coming to for thirty years suddenly throws some bleu cheese on your burger, and you’re left wondering where this new style came from. “What the fuck, man, this is brilliant! Why haven’t you done this before? And don’t tell me this is the last of this. I mean, I’ve always been a satisfied customer, but I will be genuinely offended if something like this isn’t served to me ever again.”
I hate to rain on everyone’s burger parade here, but I didn’t think this patty was quite as good as everyone made it out to be. It’s decently exotic, but I don’t think it goes far enough. I mean, some of these flavors I taste are incredibly interesting, but I’d rather have them overwhelm me as opposed to just going on one taste bud and off another. I like that avocado, but you know what would be even more badass? A whole layer of avocado. Or, better yet, replace the whole damn patty with a slab of that shit. Now, you’ve just got a kickass avocado sandwich. Now that’s innovative.
For a burger that came from so far and wide to sit on this plate, I gotta say this doesn’t really taste all that strange. Oh, damnit, the chef is crying. Let me finish! This is an extremely solid burger. No, no it’s not overcooked, I meant metaphorically! I loved eating it, and it thoroughly entertained me. I’m just surprised that it’s so normal despite being from such a place where burgers don’t usually come from. Objectively, it’s quite good, honest! There, there, don’t cry. You did good. Here, have some artificially flavored carbonated sugar water. America will treat you well.
I’d like to take note of the metaphor within a metaphor in that last entry. We move on.
Couldawouldashoulda: August 2011
I can’t eat this. Look how this thing’s made! The bun’s thin, the meat’s falling all over the place, the lettuce is soggy and the tomatoes are runny. This is a poorly constructed burger. But I have to say, there’s an undeniable allure to it. It has a dull, borderline depressing taste to it, but it owns that depression, you know? It’s worth eating. You might have to get your hands dirty to do so, but a challenge never hurt anybody. Just pretend it’s couscous or some shit.
EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints
Woah. What. The. Fuck. Did. I. Just. Eat. That was some heavy stuff, man. That shit’s just sitting in the pit of my stomach and I can feeeeeeeel it there, you know? It won’t go away. Will my duodenum process it? Holy shit, I don’t think I’m gonna eat for at least a few days. I’m not gonna lie, I almost cried several times. At eating a burger, man! And now it’s just inside me. Fuck. I won’t soon forget this burger. My colon won’t let me.
Lil B – I’m Gay (I’m Happy)
Oh man, this burger’s got some baggage. Burger haters will be ripping this thing to shreds faster than they would normally rip it to shreds (‘Cause, you know, it’s a burger). Despite that, it’s pretty delicious. Passionately made, but it can get a little too sweet at times. Definitely worth the time though. The only real way you’ll appreciate it is if you close your eyes and then dig in.
You know, what? I think that, after giving us such extravagant feasts for so long, it’s nice for Mr. Simon to roll out the picnic every once in a while. Find a nice shady spot, bring a comfy blanket and enjoy a freshly grilled slice of meat with a guy who genuinely couldn’t be happier doing so. And I’m not going easy on him either. He still makes good burgers, and this one’s no exception. Rich, flavorful and even a little spicy. A good burger from a chef that knows a thing or too about making good burgers. And that joke about putting his balls in the bun still kills me every time.
Haha, no. Just no. There’s no such thing as a post-modern burger. Opinion? Very good. Has anyone really been far even as decided to use Townsend even go want to do look more like Devin? Seven. Moving on.
Paul Simon putting his balls in a hamburger bun. Now we move on.
Couldawouldashoulda: September 2011
Action Bronson – Dr. Lecter
Original Review Here
“The fuckin' police ride me / Get your motherfucking hand out her asshole” – Action Bronson, “Bag of Money"
Not exactly Pride and Prejudice, but I wouldn’t write off Queens native Action Bronson just because he can get a little immature on his debut LP, Dr. Lector. The man has a vocal voracity and bouncy swagger that greatly complements the ‘90’s NYC boom bap that supports him. It’s exhilarating stuff… even if it’s made apparent on tracks called “Jerk Chicken” and “Get Off My P.P.” Dr. Lecter features a rapper with a passion for culture, rapping about delicious food as much as for professional wrestlers and famous guitarists. I can’t stress enough how hungry (pun not intended) Bronson sounds on this record, not just to prove himself, but to just make genuinely fun record. If Dr. Lecter was terrible, I would still give Bronson points for effort. But that he can make themes that are so esoteric in the rap world approachable and hilarious is an added bonus that should be recognized.
Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – Rome
Original Review Here
Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Norah Jones. Many critics have talked about Rome by only mentioning its collaborators, Italian soundtrack composer Daniele Luppi and Gnarls Barkley/Broken Bells/Black Keys producer Danger Mouse. However, the soundscapes that the two craft on this record are really nothing that you wouldn’t expect coming from a standard (albeit excellent) Danger Mouse collaboration. It’s really the performances of guest vocalists Jack White and Jones that give the album its extra spark. The sonic theme of spaghetti westerns isn’t so much apparent in the arrangements as much as the episodic nature of the tracks; the alternating voices and interstitial instrumentation lending itself to a narrative that may or may not actually exist. Frankly, with Jones on the bill, I was expecting to be lucky if I made it through the first two tracks of Rome still awake. But, seeing as I literally haven’t given a Danger Mouse product anything lower than an A- in five years (It’s true, I checked), it is I who should have known better. You win this time, Jones. We’ll meet again at my mom’s next book club meeting.
Brian Eno – Drums Between the Bells
I’ll admit that perhaps I was a little hasty in giving Drums Between the Bells an A-. Truthfully, I haven’t listened to the album all that much since July, but I can’t help but think of its ambient poetry fondly. It’s one of those albums that you will enjoy, but never want to hear ever again, mostly because you cannot put it on and not give it your full attention. You can’t play a song like “A Title” while you clean the dishes, unless you want people to think you’re preparing to smash them and turn them into a modernist art piece afterwards. No, Drums Between the Bells is too selfish to be ignored. So, forgive me, Mr. Eno, if I don’t listen to it as much as you’d like me to. I have a life too, you know. And why are you in my house? Shouldn’t you be producing the new Coldplay record?
The Kills – Blood Pressures
Much like a baby duckling falls in love with the first thing it sees, I will probably never love Allison Mossheart more than when she screamed that she would build a house with her lover’s bones on The Dead Weather’s 2009 masterpiece, Horehound. Listening to Blood Pressures, the newest record from Mossheart’s actual mainstay, I keep having this presumptuous dialogue in my head. Like, when I listen to last track “Pots and Pans,” I think, “Oh nice, she’s going to beat up her lover with those pots and pans, right? Oh, that’s not where the song’s going? Well then she must’ve burned down the kitchen, right? Yeah, watch that shit burn and sing a nice little song about it. No? Well, how the hell is she going to kill that fucker, then?!” Come to find out Mossheart’s more tempered and (gasp!) vulnerable on Blood Pressures, which is total bullshit, but I can dig it. I mean, just because she’s not shooting a guy or defaming his mother on it doesn’t mean the album can’t be an excellent collection of rock and roll songs. But my honest prognosis? I could have used being slapped around a bit more. After all, I’ve been a very bad boy.
Madlib – Madlib Medicine Show #11: Low Budget Hi Fi Music
I’m finding that Madlib records are made to sound like relics. Like you see a Madlib release in the bargain bin at some record shop and think, “Oh, shit, I forgot all about this record!” even if it came out less than a year ago. I know this because, when I knew I was going to write about this album for this segment, I had that exact same reaction, even though I had listened to it less than a month ago. Coming back to Low Budget Hi Fi Music, the second-to-last installment of Madlib’s 12-part series going on since last year, always feels like you’re rediscovering a record you’ve always loved. It’s an underdog, best appreciated when you least expect to hear it. In this manner, Lo Budget Hi Fi Music will never sound dated. How can a record be dated if you can’t figure out what time it came from?