Last Year’s Politics
Plenty of albums still in the queue, but these are two I wanted to get out. I was surprised while concocting my list that I hadn’t posted my review of DiFranco’s album, though looking back over what I wrote I’m not so shocked. Sometimes I run into the problem of really enjoying an album even though I’ve little to say about it. This is especially true when the artist is well-known and everything admirable is upfront. Working on a few artist overviews, will probably post one later this week or the next. Will try to get around to reviewing Martha Wainwright and more notable 2012 entries, like Killer Mike. This one-post-a-week business has been demotivating. Time to get back on it.
ANI DIFRANCO – Which Side Are You On? (Righteous Babe): Four years ago I panned DiFranco’s Red Letter Year—a judgment unsound because of my current inability to remember the record and my certain critique of it being boring. Now I’m older (and—crossing fingers—wiser), and DiFranco’s brand of realpolitik—timely, reasoned, with histrionics driven home—is preferable in these shouting-match times. The title song doesn’t propose a black and white fallacy. It asks if you’re willing to widen your ideological scope. It asks if you’ll for one second discard stigmas attached to feminism by the people in charge who are pissing you off. But like all smart people, she’s still willing to show her humanity. A MINUS
HOMEBOY SANDMAN – First of a Living Breed (Stones Throw): Q: Has this law school dropout’s life changed since he gunned for world’s most original rapper? A: “Not really.” Terminally unimpressed with his own semi-popularity and not much of a storyteller, he alternates between straight-ahead fist-pumping horn-sampling anthems like “Whatcha Want From Me” to dreamy trip-hop con slam-poetry rhythm delivery a la “Couple Bars,” doles out humorous advice and piles on pontificating rhetoric with his nonchalant, “aww shucks,” intonation: “Shouldn’t you study for a quiz? / STD is not pronounced ‘stid,’” “Chem trails D’amour arrest and raise the rent in jails / GMO’s to monkey wrench in your entrails / All you see is shop and save sales / Where’s the dough you sent to try and save whales?” Last one’s from “Illuminati,” perhaps the best song he’s written; not so much a name-check of doom-mongers’ favorite shadowy organization as it is a demonstration of how passive populaces stay slumbering. “They’ll be content to live a lie as long as they’re alive,” he shrugs. Well, no one’s perfect. Right, Homeboy? A MINUS