Asking for Lattes
 photo kathleen-edwards-music-muffins-d-is-for-dinner-quitters-coffee-stittsville_zpsdnmrcxoz.jpg

I just found out (late, as usual) that one of my all-time favorite artists is currently taking an indefinite hiatus from music and is now the proud proprietor of a coffee shop in suburban Ottawa. This news is kind of lovely in its smallness (it fits with the intimate scale of her songs) but also strange. This is not, evidently, an "also/in addition to" project, like mega-artists lending their names to lines of clothing or accessories or perfume. Rather, it's like if, say, Morrissey said 'forget about making records and playing shows' and instead decided to open a bowling alley back in Salford.

I hope for Edwards' sake that her café is a continued success, but for my sake I really hope this hiatus doesn't persist for too long. She's one of the very best we've got, and, frankly, the qualitative difference between a mediocre cup of coffee and a fantastic cup of coffee, while not negligible by any means, is far smaller than the gap between a perfectly-crafted and sung Kathleen Edwards song and ninety-nine per cent of current music.


Gone from us too soon.

I checked in nearly every weekday, and was seldom, if ever, disappointed by what I found there. (Although, to be sure, there were times when I probably could've been more productive without Grantland's many welcome distractions...)

Because it was essentially sui generis it may sound like faint praise to say that it was the best site, or even publication, period, "of its kind" ever, but it's not. Above all, generic categorizations and qualifications aside, the writing was just really good. Sometimes really, really good--which, of course, should hardly be surprising given the diverse murderers' row of talent assembled.

Thank you, Grantland editors and staff. The Internet is a darker place without ye.


Two Albums
 photo carly-rae-jepsen-emotion-album-date_zpsg2oohbrw.jpg photo 65-atlg_zpswm5rurap.jpg

Though I was initially a touch cool on Emotion, I've come, upon repeated listens, to love it almost as much as the near-perfect Kiss, if not, yet, quite as much, though I may very well get there still. "Run Away with Me" and "LA Hallucinations" are two of the best songs she's made to date, for sure, and there really isn't a less-than-terrific song on the album (even the expanded/deluxe version[s]). Between Kiss and Emotion, I feel like I *get* her more fully, in terms of where she falls as an artist. Even though the new record is somewhat more "adult"/"mature"/"sexy," it's still a very far cry from the dominant currents in fem-pop (Rihanna, Beyoncé, Nicki, Miley, LDR, even in some ways the Taylor Swift of Red/1989). CRJ is not angling for their turf, though, at all: she's our Kylie Minogue, i.e., pure, ebullient dance-pop bliss, "sexy" only incidentally, and edgy not at all ever.

Meanwhile, there's the pressing business of the new Miley album. I think wherever one falls, it's a pretty major statement from a major artist, and the people who condescendingly dismiss it are just assholes who would rather settle for less. As with Emotion, I like Dead Petz more and more the more I listen to it, though not by any means all of it (there's some pretty risible shit on there), but when it's good--"Karen Don't Be Sad," "Twinkle Song," "Space Boots," "Dooo It!," etc.--it's brilliant, and really sweet and moving. And as an album (such a deeply unfashionable thing in 2015!) it works so well, encouraging a charitable view of some of its missteps. It says a lot that in the album's opening moments Miley declares, via vocoder, that "I don't give a fuck," then on the closing track: "I had a dream / that I didn't give a fuck / but I give a fuck / I miss you so bad, I think I might die." The duration of the album itself, then, is Miley's incomprehensible "dream"?! Or her whole Bangerz-era "don't-give-a-fuck," Rihanna-esque persona/posturing (already belied by Bangerz's ultimate tenderness) is the dream?? Either way, I think the superficial transition from hip-hop/blaxploitation chick to "psychedelic" music-fest neo-hippie matters far less than the more profound transition from "I don't give a fuck" to "but I give a fuck," and what the great chasm between those two opposed statements represents.