Showing posts with label regina spektor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label regina spektor. Show all posts

Monday, December 19, 2016

video review: 'remember us to life' by regina spektor

Well, this was a pleasant surprise - may have overshared a bit here, but eh, it happens.

Next up, though... all of the J. Cole wound up on the Hot 100, which is just fantastic... after that is probably Ab-Soul, so stay tuned!

album review: 'remember us to life' by regina spektor

So here's the unfortunate truth of being a critic and a human being: like it or not, sometimes it's not just the art that overrules your critical faculties, but circumstances and memories that are linked to that art. It might not just be the sound or a particular turn of phrase that sparks an emotion, it's the memories and people associated with that sound or lyric that renders fragile objectivity all the more precarious.

Case in point, about four years ago I was dating a girl who was very fond of Regina Spektor and encouraged me to check out her album What We Saw From The Cheap Seats. And while I had something of a mixed opinion on that record as a whole, when she and I broke up later that year it became a bit difficult to go back to Regina Spektor without pulling up old memories - not all bad or good memories, mind you, but fragments that place her music in an awkward context. And it's not helped by my frustrating relationship with Spektor's peculiar brand of anti-folk itself: earnest, frequently clever with some striking melodies, but brimming at the edges with an off-kilter quirk that added personality but could occasionally undercut the dramatic tension some otherwise potent songs. I've said it in the past that I've got a very limited tolerance for 'twee', and while it didn't compromise her early 2000s work up to 2004's Soviet Kitsch, after that it got dicier. And what's frustrating is that it didn't happen all at once or consistently. Begin To Hope actually had some emotionally poignant moments - especially the closer track - but Far started to push it for me, especially if you started getting into the lyrics. And that awkward dichotomy between heartfelt power and utterly garish quirk manifested most on What We Saw From The Cheap Seats - on the one hand you get powerhouse tracks like 'All The Rowboats', but on the other hand... well, let's just say besides that song I haven't had much of an impulse to go back to it.

But hey, maybe this new record - which was supposedly bigger and a little darker, it might hit a more satisfying point for me, and I've always thought Regina Spektor is an interesting songwriter, if not always a good one - she's got a penchant for random noises that drives me off the way - but whatever, how is Remember Us To Life?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

video review: 'the hamilton mixtape' by lin-manuel miranda & various artists

I honestly thought this review would do a little better, given how dedicated the Hamilton fanbase is... eh, it happens, I guess, I'm guessing more people are looking forward to year-end lists or a J. Cole review.

In the mean time, though... Billboard BREAKDOWN up next, so stay tuned!

Monday, December 12, 2016

album review: 'the hamilton mixtape' by lin-manuel miranda & various artists

Let's talk about one of my biggest mistakes last year, or at least one that has weighed on me pretty heavily: I didn't talk about HamiltonOh, I considered it, a lot: I like hip-hop, I like musical theater, and I like Lin-Manuel Miranda. I might not have loved his debut In The Heights but it had a lot of charm and potential, so when he took the world by storm in 2015 with his musical chronicling the fascinating and tumultuous life of Alexander Hamilton... I didn't cover it. I don't really remember what my reasoning was for it either - the musical, while having its flaws in pacing and historical context, is indeed pretty awesome, with some of the most immediately catchy songs you'll ever hear. And hell, I even knew Daveed Diggs from clipping., I had an obvious inroad here!

And yet even with that Hamilton became the sort of Broadway crossover into popular culture that you so rarely see. Forget that it cleaned up at the Tony Awards, it was the sort of show where you'd probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting tickets. As such, the vast majority of us made do with the soundtrack, which wound up on a surprising number of year-end lists from professional music critics and as of now has crossed over a billion streams on Spotify, which does say a lot. Would it have landed on mine? Well, it would have had a shot, and that is saying a lot, especially given how strong 2015 was, especially for rap music.

And then we all got word about the mixtape... and if you've seen the list of huge names that have signed on for it, it's more than a little mindblowing! I would have gotten it for Usher covering 'Wait For It', but when you have Black Thought, Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz, and Nate Ruess doing 'My Shot', Kelly Clarkson doing 'It's Quiet Uptown', John Legend doing 'History Has Its Eyes On You', Chance The Rapper working on the reprise of 'Dear Theodosia', Regina Spektor and Ben Folds covering the regular 'Dear Theodosia', Ashanti doing 'Helpless' - which is such an obvious choice it's not even funny - Nas, Dave East, and Aloe Blacc working on 'Wrote My Way Out', Common and Ingrid Michaelson handling 'Who Tells Your Story' with The Roots - and The Roots are all over this project - and then add in a bonus track like 'Congratulations' with Dessa on it... at some point, you might as well give this project a spot on my year end list! I was primed to love this, and that meant I came in with the highest of expectations - were they paid off?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

album review: 'what we saw from the cheap seats' by regina spektor

Short version: a frustrating album with some interesting ideas and a few stand-out tracks, let down by some annoying production, haphazard lyrical quality, and questionable delivery. Still, it's worth a look. Also, I deliver a lengthy diatribe about two genres of music I generally dislike. If you like rants, this is a good one. Long version...

There aren't many artists that I can say I despise. On that list... well, we have Jason Derulo, Chris Brown, the Pussycat Dolls, Evanescence, Rick Ross, Slipknot, Foster The People, 3OH!3, 3 Days Grace, Creed...

Okay, maybe the list is a bit longer than I thought, but my point is that there is a set of three artists that I despise for different reasons than those in the list above, and all three of these artists have a first name beginning with J.

Yes, I'm talking about Jack Johnson, John Mayer, and Jason Mraz.