Cradle and Bed (Album Review of Andrea Echeverri)
Andrea Echeverri says an angel appeared after she drank hallucinogenic tea and told her to have a baby. Echeverri obeyed, but unlike at least one other woman who got the news via divine messenger, she’s no blessed virgin. She named her daughter Milagros (miracles); still, as seen on her self-titled solo debut, sex itself remains a revelation.
We are Latin Americanist Hindi interpreters from the subcontinent, bespectacled Brazilian graduate students who served in the Israeli army, rangy Galician professionals fresh from the European Union’s halls. We are Welsh-Egyptian pan-Arabists in feathered Panama hats, dainty U.N.-bound Lebanese, and Argentine French literary translators.
Keepin’ It Israel (Album Review of Hadag Nachash)
Given that reggae has borrowed Zion, maybe the equation can go both ways? A recent crop of Israeli-bred beats is refracting through the idioms pioneered by Judaism’s estranged black brothers and sisters: a bit of Jamaica, lots of rap and funk. Recently subject to outside attention with a summer festival in Prospect Park that paired Israeli and Palestinian MCs, Israeli rap in America is the stuff of JDate’s junior set and of journalists looking for a new angle on the bloodbath.
Best of New York 2002: No L.I.E.
Today, I am unashamed. I say it defiantly: LawnGuyLand. I embrace Jewish American Princess dismissals, assumptions of sheltered gaucheness, appallingly weak accent approximations. I make spiritual alliances with Amy Fisher, Mariah Carey, Dee Snider, West Egg, and John Tesh. And then I get on the LIRR and go home. No more sophistication by generalization for me. Away from home, I used to get away with a comfortably vague “New York” when asked. Then I shipped off to a place out of state where expat New Yorkers outnumber nearly everyone else, and even the Idahoans know what they’re talking about when they demand, “What part?”
Family Men (Album Review of Will Smith and Noreaga)
“Apparently [Will Smith] has been too busy saving the world every summer to take much notice of the last decade or so of hip-hop—or else he realizes, quite correctly, that the rules just don’t apply to him, because no one expects him to be able to follow them. It’s almost too easy to compare his flow to Barney and his merry troupe of first-graders rapping the pledge of allegiance, or to crack that the only street his music would feel at home on is Sesame.”
The C-Word (Album Review of Talib Kweli)
There are things to love about Talib Kweli, if you’re so inclined. Someone needs to be out there, fists up, feet on the streets, nose in the newspaper, scouring for mentions of Mother Africa so he can name-drop Sierra Leone on his tracks. The man has dignity, even if he offers few surprises. But with slight linguistic variation, the exhausted C-word (conscious) might serve as a cautionary criterion for Kweli.
Get Your Money Shot (Album Review of Britney Spears, co-written with Amy Phillips)
“. . . it ends up being about watching the line between irony and sincerity waver out of existence: We can’t tell anymore who’s kidding. It’s not the little girls sitting next to us in Britney shirts, cooing, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” in baby voices and toting teddy bears. Jury’s out on the little girl’s daddy who thought it would be cute to dress his four-year-old in coy Catholic schoolgirl attire. Gay men in glitter tops vie for vision with petulant teenage girls tarted up in homemade I * Britney shirts. Parents clap along amiably, as if they’re doing time at Barney Live in Concert rather than the sort of Cats-meets- Moulin Rouge debauchery onstage.”
Tori’s Got a Gun (Interview with Tori Amos; album review)
“The first girls who memorized every gasp and coo of Tori Amos must be getting on in age by now. Postadolescence isn’t quite dotage, but in the nearly 10 years since Amos rose from the ashes of Kellogg’s commercials and ill-fated quasi-hair-band escapades to deliver Little Earthquakes—a diary of naked emotion that earned her an army of acolytes—some things have changed.”
The Human Gaza Strip (Album Review of Natacha Atlas)
“But here, intercession has real consequences; namely, alienation. It isn’t so much that her borrowing of musical flavors is much of a novelty in a polyglot universe—it isn’t—it’s that her creative juices gush straight from the wounds of conflict. Often quoted calling herself a “human Gaza Strip,” she emerged from exiled or embattled peoples, only to live as one similarly exiled or embattled.”
Questioningly (Album Review of Ani diFranco)
The requisite crowd was still there in full regalia—girls in Superman tops with “not a pretty girl” inked robustly on their back jean pockets, girls in horn-rimmed glasses and bandannas and braids, girls making out in the back, girls pretending they weren’t with their mothers—now joined by almost a parity of scraggly indie boys and reedy intellectuals, plus a smattering of adult contemporaries nodding their heads and, when they got up the courage, emitting stray, cautious whoops.