This morning on the train I suffered through A$AP Rocky, who garnered a lot of interest for a mixtape that sat in my work queue for months but I barely touched. Now I’m beginning to pat myself on the back for being intuitive – the new record (which I assume actually has had money put into it) is insufferable, pretty unlistenable until a section in the middle in which a truckload of guest stars all each spit out a verse – Drake, Action Bronson, Kendrick Lamar, that crowd – then a track with Skrillex that was worth ignoring the rap for. I remember Brad L. liked the mixtape — must make a note to myself to ask him for insight, and perhaps I’ll download it again myself. Context, uggh.
I picked up Rolling Stone today on my break (the cast of 30 Rock on the cover) and took some notes on things that could conceivably be interesting. I mock that magazine’s intellectual laziness on the critical front, but I had no idea that Mike Cooley of the Drive-by Truckers had a new solo record out, nor did I know Skrillex had a free three song EP floating around out there – you’d think Pitchfork would find that shit newsworthy, but not a peep as yet. Will Hermes had the lead review – Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite – which sounds like the most boring thing ever. I remember Harper in that wonderful Motown documentary and he couldn’t even cut it on “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” one of those songs that you’d think would sell itself regardless of who sang it. Does anybody really give a shit about that guy outside of the NPR crowd –even Hermes himself?
On the way home I listened to Parquet Courts, an indie rock band. Sounded like my usual thing – angular chords, droll sprechesang – but despite the attractive surface, nothing really grabbed me. Perhaps that will end up in the Honorable Mention section. The record finished much sooner than I thought (always a good sign, actually) so played a little bit of the Yo La Tengo as the train approached my stop. There’s something so beautiful about a certain kind of song as the soundtrack to the view from a moving train –reminds me of when I was a little boy listening to Rumours and Court and Spark in the back seat of my parent’s car, watching sights loom into view and then recede into the peripheral distance, that feeling of being alone even among other people, content watching and listening. I would love to spend my day riding around in a train with my iPod –escape my job, my home, my life. And I’m sure my co-workers, my family, and my wife would think I was crazy. But I’m pretty sure my music-writing friends would understand.