The Top Albums of 2015 part 2 the Top 10

Part one Albums 20-11 appeared a couple of days ago. Now the Top ten.

A couple more near misses though. Tamikrest put out an excellent live album for Record Store Day but in the absence of new material it didn’t quite fit the Top 20.  From the same part of the world many lists have included Africa Express presents In C Mali but the digital version was out in 2014 and was high up last year’s ranking for me.
So…

10 Drenge – Undertow
Muscular new wave now with added bass on another second album to make this list.  At times sounding like heavier Joy Division with dark pop melodies I even think I heard a momentary echo (sic) of Martha & The Muffins.

9 Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
I’m not a hip hop fan in the sense of following it closely, but every so often something catches my ear. Lamar’s lyrics are diverse but consistent in passion & intelligence. Add a rich organic tapestry of jazz & funk classicism and you get a great album.

8 Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space
It isn’t much remarked on but there’s a jazz tinge and some classical structure to PSB’s electronic arrangements. It’s the deft use of transmission recordings from 60s & 70s space missions that bring the emotion & drama though. Most years there’s an album that sounds like very little or nothing else around. PSB are that band this year.

7 Jane Weaver – The Silver Globe
In a year of great female auteurs (see also Björk, Joanna Newsom, Grimes and others) there was a point where Weaver might have been even higher ranked.

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Jane Weaver at Cloudspotting (photo by me)

6 Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls
Ignore the backstory about Bruce’s cancer, for 10 tracks this is the best Maiden album in an years. There were great songs on previous albums but less coherence. I said 10 tracks, because it gets better on track 11 is the 18 minute epic piano led Empire of The Clouds about the R101 that is among the finest things Maiden have done (yet!)

5 Bathymetry
As reviewed previously Bathymetry’s debut is sweetly deceptive, chiming guitars and intricate basslines, harmonies concealing dark lyrics and a fine-tuned indie pop sensibility.

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Ariel Bathymetry at The Joiner’s Arms, Lazonby (photo by me)

4 Lianne LaHavas – Blood
Ok whodathunk it?  Me, the arch obscurist putting a genuine pop hit artist in the Top 5? Discovered Lahavas by chance at Hay, was impressed, bought the album when it hit #2 in the charts. Catchy, soul folk tunes, a glorious warm voice a standard template but a well above standard usage. Saw her again in Manchester’s Albert Hall and was even more blown away.

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Lianne Lahavas at The Albert Hall, Manchester (photo by me)

3 Kamasi Washington – The Epic
A triple album. The man responsible for much of the gorgeous arrangements on Kendrick Lamar’s album above also put out his own magnificent, up to date yet classic post-Coltrane jazz album.  It soars.

2 Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Ba Power
Rock album of the year made by four guys playing proto-banjos that look like homemade cricket bats with strings.  Kouyate and his family have taken the Ngoni to multiple new levels though, and just like Chicago blues begat rock’n’roll they’ve taken desert blues to new places too.  And Kouyate’s wife Amy Sacko stands comparison with any and all the great singers already noted.

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Amy Sacko & Bassekou Kouyate at Electrowerz, London (photo by me)

And at number 1 Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness
If there’s a theme running through this list it’s a nuanced multi genre eclecticism about most of the artists here.  Julia Holter’s been compared to Kate Bush but I also hear In A Silent Way era Miles. Keyboards harmonizing with a powerful voice, instrumental passages taking off in directions you don’t expect but make perfect sense.  Complex but totally accessible tunes like nobody else achieves.

Turns out 2015 was a pretty good year.  Some great voices and amazing musicianship and for me a blend of classic and modern that goes somewhere.

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The Top Albums of 2015 part 2 the Top 10

Part one Albums 20-11 appeared a couple of days ago. Now the Top ten.

A couple more near misses though. Tamikrest put out an excellent live album for Record Store Day but in the absence of new material it didn’t quite fit the Top 20.  From the same part of the world many lists have included Africa Express presents In C Mali but the digital version was out in 2014 and was high up last year’s ranking for me.

10 Drenge – Undertow
Muscular new wave now with added bass on another second album to make this list.  At times sounding like heavier Joy Division with dark pop melodies I even think I heard a momentary echo (sic) of Martha & The Muffins.

9 Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
I’m not a hip hop fan in the sense of following it closely, but every so often something catches my ear. Lamar’s lyrics are diverse but consistent in passion & intelligence. Add a rich organic tapestry of jazz & funk classicism and you get a great album.

8 Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space
It isn’t much remarked on but there’s a jazz tinge and some classical structure to PSB’s electronic arrangements. It’s the deft use of transmission recordings from 60s & 70s space missions that bring the emotion & drama though. Most years there’s an album that sounds like very little or nothing else around. PSB are that band this year.

7 Jane Weaver – The Silver Globe
In a year of great female auteurs (see also Björk, Joanna Newsom, Grimes and others) there was a point where Weaver might have been even higher ranked. 

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Jane Weaver at Cloudspotting (photo by me)

6 Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls
Ignore the backstory about Bruce’s cancer, for 10 tracks this is the best Maiden album in an years. There were great songs on previous albums but less coherence. I said 10 tracks, because it gets better on track 11 is the 18 minute epic piano led Empire of The Clouds about the R101 that is among the finest things Maiden have done (yet!)

5 Bathymetry
As reviewed previously Bathymetry’s debut is sweetly deceptive, chiming guitars and intricate basslines, harmonies concealing dark lyrics and a fine-tuned indie pop sensibility.

image

Ariel Bathymetry at The Joiner’s Arms, Lazonby (photo by me)

4 Lianne LaHavas – Blood
Ok whodathunk it?  Me, the arch obscurist putting a genuine pop hit artist in the Top 5? Discovered Lahavas by chance at Hay, was impressed, bought the album when it hit #2 in the charts. Catchy, soul folk tunes, a glorious warm voice a standard template but a well above standard usage. Saw her again in Manchester’s Albert Hall and was even more blown away.

image

Lianne Lahavas at The Albert Hall, Manchester (photo by me)

3 Kamasi Washington – The Epic
A triple album. The man responsible for much of the gorgeous arrangements on Kendrick Lamar’s album above also put out his own magnificent, up to date yet classic post-Coltrane jazz album.  It soars.

2 Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Ba Power
Rock album of the year made by four guys playing proto-banjos that look like homemade cricket bats with strings.  Kouyate and his family have taken the Ngoni to multiple new levels though, and just like Chicago blues begat rock’n’roll they’ve taken desert blues to new places too.  And Kouyate’s wife Amy Sacko stands comparison with any and all the great singers already noted. 

image

Amy Sacko & Bassekou Kouyate at Electrowerz, London (photo by me)

And at number 1 Julia Holter
If there’s a theme running through this list it’s a nuanced multi genre eclecticism about most of the artists here.  Julia Holter’s been compared to Kate Bush but I also here In A Silent Way era Miles. Keyboards harmonizing with a powerful voice, instrumental passages taking off in directions you don’t expect but make perfect sense.  Complex but totally accessible tunes like nobody else achieves.

Turns out 2015 was a pretty good year.  Some great voices and amazing musicianship and for me a blend of classic and modern that goes somewhere. 

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The Top Albums of 2015 part 1 (20-11)

I’ve been to a fair few great gigs this year, seen some of my favourite artists and some great new ones too. I wasn’t so sure how much I’d kept up with new albums though. Then I made a list, seems I did have a lot of great albums to consider.  There were a few I almost missed too. I just discovered that Rachel Grimes had a new solo album out, I’ve heard some of it and it’s as austerely brilliant as ever but too late to make the list.  Despite dancing to their live set two weekends running at different festivals I didn’t really listen to The Wave Pictures record enough to place it higher. Then there’s the raw intense hit of Sleaford Mods on a single track basis that didn’t quite vary enough over a fuller length for me.  And despite all the acclaim I felt the same about Courtney Barnett.

So what did I rank in the Top 20 Albums of 2015 ?

20= Songhoy Blues – s/t
20= Samba Touré – Gandadiko
I really couldn’t choose between these two great examples of contemporary Malian blues rock. Songhoy Blues got the airplay and the acclaim, but Touré’s fourth album was powerful and atmospheric too.

19 Grimes – Art Angel
I’m late to the Grimes (no relation to the aforementioned Rachel) party but this is growing on me.  Big beats, grandiose layers of multitracked vocals, glorious pop with a dark twist.

18 Fever Dream – Moyamoya
Saw this trio at Fell Foot Sound and really liked their big but subtle heavy shoegaze sound. 

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Fever Dream at Fell Foot Sound (photo by me)

17 Chantal Acda – The Sparkle In Our Flaws
Acda’s fragile, spare folk voice is pastel where Grimes is day-glo, and her arrangements minimal. But listening at night, in the dark, her melancholy is impressively nuanced.

16 Benjamin Clementine
Talking of nuanced, the first time I heard Clementine I puzzled over whether it was Nick Cave covering Rufus Wainwright or vice versa. Neither are really accurate comparison other than to imply some of the range & tone of his soul-drenched voice.

15 Haiku Salut – Etch & Etch Deep
I don’t know where to start with this. Multi instrument post-rock folktronica something from Derbyshire? Best use of ukulele and glockenspiel on this list for sure.

14 Bixiga 70 – III
Brazilian cumbia afrobeat jams ok? One of the most upbeat and uplifting albums around.

13 2:54 – The Other I
Chiming, shimmering goth-pop guitars, harmonising voice and keyboard melodies and driving, occasionally blunt drums are they hallmark of 2:54’s dark but not as introspective as it first seems second album. 

12 Shopping – Why Choose
“Consumerist critiques you can dance to” according to one review. A syncopated, updated The Slits, Gang of Four with three part vocals contrasted with staccato riffs and judicious use of cowbell. 

11 Rozi Plain – Friends
Bought off Rozi after her set in the sunshine at Cloudspotting.  This is another gentle-seeming album that rocks emotionally rather than in terms of riff.  Folk psychedelia glows through this with Rozi’s voice being both a layer of that and above it.

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Rozi Plain at Cloudspotting


Rozi Plain at Cloudspotting (photo by me)

That’s 20-11 I’ll run down the Top 10 soon. 

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Vanishing Point – Michaela Roessner

Like most of you reading this, I do have a penchant for recommending books I’ve enjoyed and that I sometimes think of as my pet discoveries.  One author I am particularly keen to draw attention to is Michaela Roessner, and especially her remarkable second novelVanishing Point.

I enjoyed Roessner’s unusual debut, Walkabout Womanwhich pits a young aboriginal woman against both dangers within her tribe and the attempts to ‘civilise’ her by a white teacher.  I’d be interested to hear how native Australians view Roessner’s depictions of their culture,the Dreamtime and their lives, but the author appears sympathetic to my uninformed eye.  It is certainly an unusual work, with two strong female characters in competitive alliance.

More recently Roessner has published a pair of Florentine historical fantasies, The Stars Dispose and The Stars Compel, involving Catherine de Medici which are rich in detail (especially the food) and subtle magic.  It’s been fifteen years since the second of these, but there may be a third in the works which I know will please many.

Good as these books are, Vanishing Point is something else again.  I defy you to come up with a post-apocalyptic scenario like Roessner’s.  Overnight, without warning, 90% of the human race vanished.  Nobody knows why – or where – they went, and why some were left but not others.  Now, thirty years later, the remnants of society have settled into enclaves and roving fanatics.  Communities struggle to make sense of the disappearances and to ensure both their survival and some feeling of hope should their families ever return.  One such community has colonised a real-life setting as remarkable as any in SF: The Winchester House in San Jose.  Originally a 19th century house, the owner became convinced that spirits were directing her to maintain building work night and day, non-stop, for the rest of her life.  Stairways going nowhere, rooms that are incomplete, stained glass windows that get no direct light and other building eccentricities have inspired several authors including Tim PowersAlastair ReynoldsAlan Moore and others. I particularly thought of Heinlein’s short classic ‘…And He Built a Crooked House…’ but Michaela Roessner has taken on the house and expanded on it offering up a genuinely science fictional ‘explanation’ for the house’ mysteries.

The story itself begins with a loner setting fire to houses he considers ‘tainted’ by the post-Vanishing changes.  At the House, a young woman, Renzie, is part of teams rebuilding society and researching the Vanishing.  From across country the elderly woman scientist Nesta arrives with new theories and new approaches.  These two strong female leads offer leadership through physical strength and morality in Renzie’s case, and intellectual rigour and willingness to face the challenge from Nesta.

As Nesta explains:

“So you think all of the research of the last thirty years is pointless?” said Pax.

“No! I believe it’s vital. But as I said before, I think it’s been misdirected.”

“The Vanishing didn’t just happen and stop.  We’re so overwhelmed and distracted by its psychological consequences that we can’t see its actual, physical effects. It started chains of events that continue, have maybe accelerated, that haven’t been examined except as possible clues to the Vanishing’s source.  We’ve got our heads buried in the sand and don’t even know it.”

Later in the same speech, “The effect is endemic on every level of reality.”  Most post-apocalyptic fiction defines one, maybe two, significant changes in society and environment.  Roessner recognises and insists on the bigger, more nuanced, picture.  The survivors of the Vanishing display myriad reactions to events, the range of symptoms associated with grief, guilt and anger.  Their relationships with their environment, friends, lovers and colleagues are not uniform. Society has changed but the past has not been discarded, some vehicles and technology remain, there are computers and communication tools though these are limited. Roessner sharply contrasts those who live and work together around the House with the more cultish groups who they interact with, particularly the Heaven Bounders who view the Vanishing as the Rapture.

Nesta’s research and her conversations with others also incorporate depths often missing in similar works. Theories are discussed, revised, disproved, and evolve. Through Nesta and the others Roessner draws on multi-disciplinary approaches both social and scientific to bring up questions as well as answers.  For me that makesVanishing Point an important work of SF. Her thoughtful characters make it a fun, immensely readable and meaningful novel too. And the scientific answers she comes up with?  Well, no spoilers but Roessner’s speculation is grounded in knowledge of contemporary theories and contains enough detail to step beyond hand waving abstractions.    The House is explained with reference to, amongst other things, quantum physics, The Muppets, and Jorge Luis Borges.

It is, as Chery Morgan says “wonderful stuff”.

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Hotel Arcadia – Sunny Singh

If 2015 is to be a year defined by refugees and terrorism, Sunny Singh’s remarkable novel Hotel Arcadia should play a part.  Although brief and nominally a thriller, Singh’s third novel is equally a deep meditation on empathy and engagement.
The eponymous hotel in an unidentified middle eastern (I think) location is the subject of a terrorist attack, leaving many staff and guests murdered, and the remaining few hiding desperately.  Somehow hotel manager Abhi survives and tries to warn the guests discreetly by phone. One guest is acclaimed war photographer Sam on holiday after her latest assignment, who ignores warnings and heads out with her camera. Over the next 67 hours Sam explores and reports, whilst Abhi liaises with the army outside.  Gradually they develop a trust and affection that helps them focus.  Then Sam finds a young boy, Billy, injured but alive and is forced to take care of him whilst awaiting rescue or discovery and death.  Tensions increase as chapters countdown, the first is labelled ’67 Hours Ago’ the last, ‘Now’.  The thriller aspect is carefully weighted as the time progresses, as fear shifts through exhaustion to acceptance.  Early chapters are set hourly, later at increased intervals reflecting events.

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Against all of this are fascinating backstories for Abhi and Sam which not only add poignancy and make us care more, but also serve as metaphor for the situation in the hotel and beyond.
Immaculate, formal, respectable manager Abhi is gay, involved with a regular guest, spending illicit nights together. His enhanced formalities are a cover for his love, but alongside are memories, idolising his soldier hero brother Samar.  Recurrently it is Samar’s voice he hears as he debates action.  Childhood realisation that he can’t be like Samar give way to understanding at the cost of a relationship with his father.
Sam meanwhile, is emotionally detached, holding her lover at a distance, photographing only the dead, only really seeing the world through a viewfinder.

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In this she is joined by Abhi, watching her creep through the hotel on cctv, anxiously building pictures outside the camera angles as Sam tries to occlude them.  In this structural sympathy Sam and Abhi develop an empathy that surprises both.  Sam finds that she feels things for lover David she has tried to avoid, Abhi tries to avoid the knowledge that his lover Dieter is one of the bodies in the bar. 
Sunny Singh has deftly, evocatively, tied our personal lives to global political situations. There’s a fleeting encounter in Sam’s past with refugees that captures this perfectly.  And in the present, we are almost never shown the terrorists only their impact.
Hotel Arcadia isn’t perfect, plotwise. I wondered how Abhi was able to hide and observe from reception, for instance.  Emotionally it works very well, right up to a movingly ambiguous ending. Politically Singh asks subtle questions about how we engage with each other on individual and global scales, and the similarities between the two.  It’s a rare novel that succeeds as well as Hotel Arcadia as entertainment, with such emotional and political insight.

Hotel Arcadia is published by Quartet Books.

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Bathymetry album review

As the sun, or indeed the moon, sets across the sea the surface shimmers and flickers with a magical road to…. where? There’s no map, nor any guide to the dark depths that walking that road will surely lead you to.  That road is a trap, or maybe a dream path to an unconscious reality. 
And so it is with the debut album from north west based band Bathymetry.  It shimmers, with golden harmonies, across the darkling ripples of something familiar, something just off the edge of the map. You’d know it if you could find it again, but it’s gone, replaced by its near twin, its next iteration. 

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I’ve listened to album opener and single ‘Goblin Fruit’ a dozen times or more, and I swear that twinkling percussion is new this time. And is that a child-like giggle at the start of ‘Liliput’?  As Ariel sings though, there’s something disturbing in the sweetness.  ‘she sucked until her lips were sore’, ‘she smiled then she laughed at me’, the way the apparently innocent line ‘I’ll be waiting down below’ is sung as the guitar drops away to leave Emily’s creeping bass line, all have an edge of concealed menace.
There are moments when, if you don’t listen closely, Bathymetry’s songs float by, gorgeous dream pop psych folk.  All chiming, wavelike guitars, and sweet female harmonies with a hint of swing.  But ‘Honey dripping off your tongue’ according to ‘Sweet Tooth’ leads into ‘hiding rotten gums.’

The calm sea conceals the jagged reef, and can change in moments to a tempest. The songs on this album are laden with hooks to pull you in, and barbs to cut you deeply.  Bathymetry move seamlessly from reflecting 60s psych pop to early New York New Wave.

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Ariel’s guitar has hints of Marr & Quine, a flavour of acoustic folk picking, maybe a shoegaze nod or two. Her voice, innocent and wild eyed at times, becomes desperate and decadent on a chord change. 
Emily, who also sings, and whose voice matches Ariel’s throughout, is the undercurrent. Her basslines not just a pinion for the rest, but the lead at times, holding the road where the map is ambiguous.  They’re fluid, that edge of swing I mentioned, teasing out an impish dance.  Drummer Dave meanwhile is almost unnoticed at times, playing superficially simple roots for the rest. Then suddenly you realise that magical glimmering tone is his delicate work. 
The word dream-like is overused, but Bathymetry’s songs are awash with allusions to sleep, to dream, to the astral plane, whilst the music has that disconcerting knack of being utterly familiar and totally strange simultaneously.

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45 minutes, 12 tracks, more ideas per track than many careers.  And my favourite track? Could be any one of five or six. Let’s say ‘Evil Leather Jacket’ right now for its catchy, jazzy riff, and that disturbing cackling in the middle. And ‘Goblin Fruit’F is sublime, in the full blown Romantic sense, for me.
But it could be ‘Clementine’ with its nursery rhyme rhythm breaking out into rocking midsection. Or ‘Doldrums’ or… Well, that’s why Bathymetry might be the best band you’ve not yet heard.  Go off map, explore the depths, follow the moon road. Float, dive, swim, drown, absorb yourself in the best debut album of 2015 maybe in years.

You can get the album from Bathymetry on their website or at a gig. They’re charming live too. 

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Jessica Hopper — The First Book Of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic

The thing about critical assessment of criticism is the near inevitable meta nature of it, the way our response is both a response to the critic and the subject.  We admire, because we feel validated by, the critic who shares and articulates our views.  Jessica Hopper, writing as fan and pro separately and together, hints at recognition of this as she interprets art, packaging of art, marketing of art and personal/group response to art in one review after another. 
The pieces collected in the admittedly hyperbolic, misnamed but justified banner raising The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic appeared first in venues as diverse as Punk Planet, Spin, Pitchfork, The Chicago Tribune, and Hopper’s TinyLuckyGenius blog.  They cover the likes of Kendrick Lamar, MIA, Springsteen, Pearl Jam (then and now), Rollin Hunt, Chief Keef and Mecca Normal.  The approach, style and subject matter varies therefore but, for most of this collection there is a consistency of theme and developing worldview on show.  The title stresses a feminist aspect typified by a scathing without ranting assessment of the male dominated emo scene and references to Guyville and Riot Grrrl, but equally crucial in this is that titular Living.  A long quote from the blog post “You Know What?” lays out both Hopper’s attitude and her credibility:
    “Older-generation female rocker ladies making uninformed judgment calls about women making music today, and how no one is angry anymore, how the ‘90s were so much better, when we had Liz Phair and Hole and Belly and L7 on MTV (a.k.a. the blinded nostalgia trope of the aging rock ‘n’ roll feminist) IS REALLY FUCKING UNPRODUCTIVE. It also shows they are not digging deep enough, or seeing the forest for the trees. If you think “angry women in punk” is a faction that has somehow receded, or that L7 in its day was some how better than the generation of women now in all manner of metal bands, you’ve gotten too far removed from the action. Go browse the 7” new arrivals like you did last in 199X and you’ll see a lot more women in the bin now than you ever did then. Spend 11.4 minutes online and catch up. It never disappeared, we just missed it because we were so busy clinging tight to copies of Guyville; we refused new ideas as relevant or good enough. Riot-grrrl wasn’t the end result, it was the catalyst. That’s what it was supposed to be, that’s what it was meant as— not a static thing. It didn’t have to stick around forever to count as successful— movements come in waves— it did its job perfectly. So much is different post-RG, so much permission and power and inspiration was funneled down steadily— whether it’s to the league of young girl shredders, or rock camps, or queer show collectives whose tether to RG was simply catching the tail end of Sleater-Kinney. Feminism has to move on, salute new icons, be excited by the varieties of archetypes of women in music that are self-directed, self-produced, not operating under the shadow of a Svengali hand. To not appreciate the difference in agency, or appreciate the different struggles of women now, turns it to a game of radical one-upsmanship. Our battles are not to be hung on the necks of the new waves of girls like an albatross.”

For me that is where Hopper is strong, when she writes with a controlled passion for her subjects.  Occasional pieces here are overly descriptive, insufficiently evocative and slightly less weighted insight.  Given the glossier commercial venues commissioning here some compromise may be expected as the price of getting 17 year old rapper Chief Keef into the Tribune, perhaps.  Mostly though Hopper writes with an edge that is personal and feels genuine.  Her punk roots are openly displayed as she questions the ‘community’ of Lollapalooza and large festivals, a sort of Woodstock myth shared with Glastonbury in the UK, and contrasts a range of gigs with double digit attendance.  She challenges yet another Nevermind reissue with the cutting lines
“if you squint, you can see the “Heart-Shaped Box in an Actual Box Shaped Like a Heart 25th Anniversary Boxset” and “Nevermind in Mono” galloping this way on the horizon.”
and
“Revisiting Nevermind is like flexing a phantom limb made up of Nirvana records that never were. That’s all it means now, all that’s left— fantasy. The tomb is empty; let the dead buy the dead.”

Hopper revisits her early years in the punk scenes of 1990 with clear eyes and humour.  An aside on her early school crushes notes that one boy was unsuitable because of his subtly wrong choice in music:
“[He] wore a Jane’s Addiction T-shirt; he thought All Shook Down was the best Replacements record— making him a no go”

Rock criticism, the good stuff, tends to a few strands, the more rarefied almost academic sociological analyses of Greil Marcus, the rants of Lester Bangs, the personal depth of the great Paul Williams, and the sensational biography of, well, too many really.  Jessica Hopper at her best combines Williams ability to convey how music you’ve never heard feels, with a mainstream awareness of trends and commercial pressures. She can deconstruct Lana Del Rey  and M.I.A. and provide context for Springsteen and Mecca Normal alongside more personal perspective on Eddie Vedder. 

The First Book of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic is uneven, unsurprisingly so given its chronological range and sources, but is frequently stimulating in its politics, its evocation of new to me music, and its new insight into the more familiar.  Mainstream rock criticism is frequently bland but by maintaining feet in several camps Jessica Hopper remains interesting and this is a welcome volume. 

Note: Thanks to former Willard Grant Conspiracy/Walkabouts/ Transmissionary Six guitarist Paul Austin for pointing this book out on Facebook. 

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