Cure for Bedbugs
From the Archives: Ashlee Simpson

This interview with John Shanks prompted a re-post of a few Bedbugs things that were nuked from the Blogspot site. This post from October 2007 was originally part of an immediately abandoned series called “Kill Me, Kill Me, Kill Me,” in which I was going to listen to all of my c. 1000 albums to figure out which ones to sell. The very first album was Autobiography by Ashlee Simpson, ostensibly the album that spurred the project (that is, I was avoiding writing about Autobiography).

Ashlee Simpson - Autobiography

I’m not listening to it, not right now, anyway. (I listened to “Shadow” once to help describe the guitars at the end.) I’ve listened to this album at least 200 times. Maybe more than that, and that’s not counting individual tracks, which easily double it. Yeah, probably more. I listen to it almost every day in the summer, at least once a week every other season. I listened to it three times in a row last weekend.

Why do I want to write a book about this album? Why does GOD want me to write a book about this album, if his random number generators can be trusted, which for the purposes of this experiment they can?

(1) I think people will think I’m being ironic (in the sense that isn’t actually “ironic,” more like “smug” or “sarcastic”) or something, when I’m clearly not, which will help my sales and cause me to hugely resent my audience. (Wishful thinking, like anyone would even read such a thing.)
(2) Frank Kogan doesn’t want to write the book (yet). (I checked.)
(3) I’m not sure what I’m trying to say yet, but I know it’s important.
(4) It’s an excellent album <—woops, should be #1!
(5) I still don’t get it.

I don’t get this album at all.

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Surely you have time for the third best album of the last decade, don&#8217;t you?

Surely you have time for the third best album of the last decade, don’t you?

4th of July playlist of classic ROCKNROLL, since I’m sure you need another one!

Anyway. I’m working on creating a Spotify playlist of all of the songs in the “Play List” appendix to Charlie Gillett’s Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll. Almost everything is available through the Beatles or so, where I intend to stop anyway. Only one missing so far is Boogaloo and His Gallant Crew (Kent Harris). Here’s 1946-1960.

Half-year Top Ten

Quick listen to Stromae’s album, which I was certain I heard in 2013 but almost certainly didn’t, and hemming/hawing inadequate placement of Miranda Lambert’s album, which I haven’t digested yet [ETA: After spending all day listening to it, I’m pretty sure ML is going to end up as my AOTY so far, but need more time with it], gets me crawling to 10:

  1. Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire for No Witness
  2. YG: My Krazy Life
  3. Cibo Matto: Hotel Valentine
  4. Miranda Lambert: Platinum
  5. Duck Sauce: Quack
  6. Stromae: Racine Carree
  7. Apollo Brown: Thirty Eight
  8. After School: Dress to Kill
  9. Nick Cannon: White People Party Music
  10. Lily Allen: Sheezus

And under the cut I copied Alfred Soto and listed my top 44 albums since 2010.

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New tattoo

My wife won’t let me play this in the house any more so listen to it and remind me how it goes :(

2004-2008 in popular musicks

Here’s a deliberately cryptic question for the Tumblr masses:

When you think of key figures in popular music whose careers either began or hit their stride around 2004 and then transformed substantially (for better or worse) by 2008, who do you think of (I won’t give you my answers yet)?

ETA: Named so far: Black Eyed Peas, Keane, Scissor Sisters, Ciara, Colplay. These are good answers!

ETA2: OK, I’ll share mine — I had Kanye, Rihanna, Ashlee Simpson, M.I.A., and Arcade Fire on my list, along with a few other lesser names — Annie, Robyn, Fiery Furnaces.

Comics primers

I got 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die on super-sale the other day and am enjoying it — it hearkens to my teen days of reading consumer guides as introductions to movies and music. Is this a good one? Are there better ones? Inquiring dilettantes want to know!

Midyear report, sorta

While I shuffle my feet on the 2001 NOW post (my newborn fog has lifted somewhat, which means I’m no longer completely delusional about time management) here are the albums that I haven’t heard many people talk about that are pretty good this year:

After School - Dress to Kill: AS’s Japanese album is one of those things that I listen to and just shake my head at the dominance of small-fry artisanal pop in the states. Big but not pretentious, hits its marks, doesn’t overstay its welcome. Also digging, to a lesser degree, 15&’s Sugar. Most K-pop releases are, frustratingly, mini-albums, EPs, and “single albums,” and I tend to wait around until I can get a good 10 songs consecutively, followed by year-end ketchup. Wish I had more albums like this on my plate.

Nick Cannon - White People Party Music: Did I mention that this awful album is actually pretty good? There is only one (one!) tongue outta cheek song on here, and it’s about how great Mariah Carey is, but sung in a way that presumes that you, like, have no idea who Mariah Carey is (because who could know her like Nick Cannon does?). Big and goofy and ridiculous. Kind of like…

Duck Sauce - Quack: Too bad “Barbra Streisand” feels so (so) old. This album is a bosh-y mess and seems like precisely no one can be bothered to care about it, which is well deserved, I guess, but a shame nonetheless. Too many skits.

Apollo Brown - Thirty Eight: Is there such a thing as crate-digger MOR? Well, this is it. Perfect summer album, asks for nothing in return.

Cibo Matto - Hotel Valentine: I thought they were a bigger deal? This album is amazing — little Frankenstein monsters of pop gems sneaking around in an empty, haunted hotel. Season-Four-of-Angel pop?

Lily Allen - Sheezus: OK I guess a bunch of people are talking about this one — the Xgau refugees over at Odyshape are stanning for it a bit. I wouldn’t go that far — there are at least three songs on here that are among her (or maybe anyone’s? Nah.) worst ever.

Haven’t clicked with Miranda Lambert yet; the rest of Shakira didn’t (couldn’t?) live up to “Empire,” which may not even live up to itself; I’m pretty sure I’m wrong about Nick Cannon, but I’m not sure in which direction; still on the Angel Olsen and YG trains (see I can like things other people like); there is a LOT of pleasant music that I couldn’t care less about but listen to a lot this year, something something Spotification?

Full list of albums and stuff here.


Ghana has been knocked out of the Pop World Cup, which is my cue to share my favorite picks from the past five months of scouring YouTube for everything I could think of.

The full playlist was fifty songs deep at one point; I’ve whittled it down to the ten unmissables; first the five songs I did play, then the two I would have played had I stayed in (the final clincher features a South African, about which I was prepared to be cheeky), and finally three songs that I deeply loved but knew would never have stood a chance with the voters.

In some ways it seems appropriate to have gone out to Nigeria, which in pop terms could be considered the UK to Ghana’s Ireland, or maybe the US to its Canada: a far larger, wealthier, and cooler near neighbor, with deeper pockets and a vastly more wide-reaching command of media resources. I’ve always liked underdogs better.

Edit: Ah, Christ, Tumblr won’t let me embed the playlist. Here’s the link.

It occurs to me that if we really cared about omnivorousness as a virtue etc. we would talk more about location (in the mostly literal sense, not just the more identity-based sense of one’s place in the world, though that’s important, too) and less about genre, or the disingenuous appeal to genre that is mostly undergirded by issues of social class distinction. That is, there’d be more thinkpieces about what a travesty it is that we are or aren’t listening to Ghanaian (etc.) pop than that we are or aren’t listening to [insert American pop artist]. I never feel guilty for liking or disliking Beyonce or knowing or not knowing about an American in-genre highlight or two, but I always feel guilty when I follow the Pop World Cup and realize how myopic my musical breadth is from a global perspective.

(Side note: One of the interesting things about Let’s Talk About Love is that its very Candianness is just slightly off-center from general US criticism’s close-mindedness about Celine, or rather the incorporation of specifically Canadian angst (from its Canadian writer) gives more depth to the knee-jerk hate, esp. in re: the chapter on Quebecoise baggage, than the conflation of US/Canada critical disapproval that guides more of the book.)