By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
"Cheap and Cheerful"
Imagine if the male ideal this tune pines for—the buck-wild, assholish ruffian—was what every woman wanted! Nice guys finish last, so a lot of us would be shit outta luck.
FOOD FOR ANIMALS, featuring FAUST
Points for getting Hans Joachim Irmler of legendary krautrock outfit Faust to guest on keyboards. Points for production that manages to be grimy, minimal, and outer-spacey without blotting out the rhymes. Points to this D.C. out-rap crew for letting their verses actually fucking breathe so grokking their modest, geeky boasts (name-checking Halle Berry and Jack Kirby in the same song feels like some sort of milestone) doesn't feel like an ordeal.
The problem with aging rock stars going back to their raw, aggro roots is that it feels like a desperate pose—usually. But, like, this just strikes me as some mid-'90s R.E.M. single that didn't get played to death at the time. Heard it during a televised Yankees game. It's...okay, in the same sense that a lukewarm-but-free beer is okay.
THE SCISSOR GIRLS
Guitar squalls and grunts are pressed into service for some kind of loose noise-funk leashed to Beat-poetry lyrics. How can something so haywire feel so, so right? See, this is exactly the disemboweling, screwball, glue-huffing WTF I sorta envision whenever I read about Liars. Then I go and listen to Liars and it's just a total letdown.
A fleeting tease, this, from Netherlands-based singer-songwriter Mariska Baars. Meticulously bowed guitar strings tied to the loneliest, most solemn vocal I've encountered in some time. It's almost over before it's even begun—a lick, a promise, solitude on the verge of flight. There's a second person caught in Baars's frame, but the total absence of characteristics and context sends a shiver down my spine.