You know when a break-up hurts so much that you think no one else could possibly understand how you feel? Torch songs understand. They feel your pain, and they channel it through the voices of like-minded torch-bearers who can sing much better than you can sing, and who are willing to do it for you. So, with that in mind, here are some of the torch-toting singers who've been feeling my pain recently.
PJ Harvey is no stranger to this blog. She has consistently distanced herself from feminism as such, but our love for her is inescapable. Her music is about independence—from marriage ("The Pocket knife,"), from judgement ("Who the Fuck?")—and her vision for her autonomous career has never faltered in 20 years of music-making. Now she's got a new album, Let England Shake, coming out February 15th, and a short film to be released with EVERY SONG on the album! If you, like me, believe there is no such thing as too much Polly Jean, this is the B-sides for you.
It seems only fitting that I'm able to help Bitchtapes ring in the new year. For me, the '00s (I still haven't figured out what I want to call this decade) started with an actual mixed tape from a new friend, who has since been through the ringer with me. And in thinking about it today, I've realized that my very favorite people have won me over with mixes, even recently. So, here is my little gift for all of you to help start off something good.
Rather than do any kind of decade retrospective or theme here, this one is kind of all over the map...a little bit sparkly, a little dark, a little sloppy, with a trumpet here and there. Just what I would hope for in the new year. Friends new and old, cheers to what the next decade will bring...
Jay-Z is arguably the most successful hip-hop artist in the world. He owns a sports team, created a clothing line, ran a record label and then started his own, and last year beat Elvis Presley as the solo act with the most Billboard 200 hits. This year, he decided to add "author" to his long list of titles. Decoded is part memoir, part argument in defense of hip-hop, part lyrical analysis of his work, both well-known and unknown, and part printed self-aggrandizement with expensive-looking art design to match—like a microcosm of hip-hop itself. (But with more avant-garde black-and-white photography.)
Mixing classics with covers, this edition of BitchTapes contains some of our favorite Christmas songs, spanning decades, genres, and levels of corniness. From Thao Nguyen to Loretta Lynn and from Kristy MacColl to Eartha Kitt, you're sure to hear something you'll like. Plus, our mix contains a fair amount of songs that emphasize the not-so-jolly aspects of the season, like if you're heartbroken, broke, or in prison. Enjoy, and we hope your winter celebrations are swell! (Track list after the jump!)
I know there are some humbugs out there who don't like the holiday season, and that's fine. Cheer and snacks and the spirit of giving (OK, and stress and consumerism) aren't for everyone, right? But when people tell me that they don't like holiday music, I have a tough time believing it. Just about all of the musicians you can think of have recorded holiday music at some point during their careers, and a lot of it is really awesome. So open up your minds, scrooges! I've polled folks around the office and compiled a collection of some awesome holiday tunes, perfect for gift wrapping, wasting time at your desk, or dancing around the tree/menorah. Tracks and videos after the jump!
If Kanye West's new album is too self-centered and misogynistic for you, you can get fun melodies, great rhymes, and great samples from another Chicago-born artist, Nikki Lynette. She raps, she writes, she produces, and isn't afraid to throw genre to the wind. Putting tight beats and R&B melodies over electric guitar riffs, a mixtape called Roses 'N Guns, and a rousing update of Portishead's "Glory Box" are just some of the ways she crosses rap, pop, and rock boundaries.