The Untimely Death of DJ Rashad
If I hadn’t just read Jeff Chang’s exhilarating Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, I’m sure the miserable death of Rashad Harden at the age of 34 wouldn’t have cut so deep. Newly diagnosed adult onset ADHD was plenty enough in late 2013 - I wasn’t out to speedball some cranked BMP on the ad nauseum sample tip. And in a similar vein, what was the point of footwork as listening music? But now I'm inclined to think of the guy as Bambaataa come lately, come Midwest, cum narcotics. That's not a posthumous dig at Frankie Knuckles - from whom Rashad got the house before he bought the farm. No, it's merely to say that footwork's a cultural formation you haven't seen much of in thirty years, and one I've never really seen: a DJ savant qua regional pop historian around whom ten thousand crazy legs began dancing in exactly the same, provincially fated way. Not that my interest is purely conceptual. There’s enough to love about the weirdness of his final LP, the breakthrough Double Cup - whose zealous stutter is awash and trapped by heavy synth smog… which means it’s at least as relaxing as it is lively. I’d like to think that’s a paradox befitting a record named after syzurp. It's also befitting of a guy who, after ten fairly anonymous years, was just getting started. Shi shi shi shi shi shi shi shit.
Lily Allen - Sheezus (Regal, Parlophone)
OK, maybe this is a mumback - but don’t call that an insult. This woman is still Lily Allen, which is to say she remains everyone’s favorite insufferable prat, and (don’t lie) every thinking man’s pleasure whether you’re guilty about it or not. Messy navigations of motherhood, late-twenties social media schadenfreude, conjugal bliss, conjugal stress, and (oh boy, especially) conjugal sex are rendered no less exotic for their domesticity. The evil genius thing helps. And so does Greg Kurstin, who sounds exactly like a guy who’s produced 3OH!3, Devo, T-Pain, Kesha, Miranda Cosgrove, Foster the People, the Shins, Santigold, Pink, Tegan and Sara, Shakira, and Sky Ferriera since It’s Not You, It’s Me. Half these tracks are genre-studies, but you never get the sense he’s being a tosser about it. A light touch: ‘Air Balloon,’ bubble gum chart bait; “Insincerely Yours,” yacht funk; “Take My Place,” Cambridge anthropology; “As Long As I Got You,” Irish jig; “Close Your Eyes,” sex (no, not music… just sex); and “URL Badman,” a dubstep put down targeting - of all possible victims - virgin bloggers. After a couple listens, I was surprised to find myself among the few safe from Allen’s glorious persecution. But every time “Close Your Eyes” comes on again, I start to think, “Gordon Bennett, maybe I am a virgin blogger!”
Old 97's - Most Messed Up (ATO Records)
Virgin or not, I am apparently the only blogger here at Odyshape for whom Mostly Messed Up is meant - since “twenty good years of about twenty-five” means they have indeed been “doing this longer than [I’ve] been alive.” Accordingly, there isn’t a song here that isn’t about fucking roadies or whiskey. Or both. Luckily, Rhett Miller manages (for certainly the first time in my life) to say much more, too. Get me on board with any act that has the sense of humor to interrupt their knockout lead track with “I’m not crazy about songs that get self-referential.” Or arrange a song about intervention into a hysterical southern fried anthem that climaxes with a swift kick to your shitty friend’s balls. Or title what is definitely not a ballad, but a catalogue of all things roadtrip that might be ballads, “This Is The Ballad.” I guess what I’m trying to say is the Old 97s have nothing left to say, and at least twelve fun ways to say it.