Some Songs Considered #019: Sia, Big Freedia, Lil Wayne, and Beach House
Welcome to Some Songs Considered, a column that recognizes they can’t all be zingers and truly appreciates the ones that are.
Sia – Eye of the Needle (Big Freedia’s Bounce remix)
by Charles Bramesco @intothecrevasse
I really have no right to feel anything even close to melancholy over the ten-year signpost on Hurricane Katrina. I moved out of New Orleans back at the beginning of the new year, but even when I was living at the corner of Nashville and Clara streets, I would never have deigned to think of myself as a local. I was, at best, a four-year tourist, a Yankee-born college shithead trying his hardest not to one of those people that propagates the stereotypes about Tulane kids. (Namely, that we’re privileged, noisy, and have a penchant for inserting ourselves into situations we shouldn’t.) I haven’t lived through enough to have earned the little twinge of seasickness that hits me when I look at footage of flooded streets like canals in Hell or dogs barking at passing helicopters from roofs of submerged houses.
But I still do. I wasn’t there-there, there in the shit, but even so, I felt pretty close to New Orleans by the time I left. I was there when Ray Nagin finally got convicted, I was there when the combined might of sport and commerce shorted out the lights at the Superdome, and more than that, I was there when Nicky da B died. Nicky’s death really put the zap on me, and not just because he was only three short years older than I was at the time. Nicky was such a central voice in the bounce scene, one of the distinctly New Orleanian things that had endeared the area to me so strongly, that his passing felt like the local culture had been dealt a serious blow. Bounce embodies so many of the qualities that residents consider as native to the city — raunch, exuberance, its overall participatory spirit — that to hear the driving handclaps and twitchy call-and-response lyrics immediately transports me back. Kinda like Proust’s Madeleine, except instead of a lost love, there are massive, gyrating buttocks.
Nicky was a titan, but the true holder of the New Orleans bounce throne was always the Queen Diva, the Dick-Eater, Ya-Better-Believe-Her, the one and only Big Freedia. Her remix of Sia’s ballad “Eye Of The Needle” (the latest installment of Adult Swim’s perennially excellent Singles program) compresses everything great about her music and live presence into a compact, three-minute package. Freedia holds on to Sia’s uplifting, cathartic chorus and imposes her own inexhaustible drive on the beat, making a metronome out of the ass-claps. My hands start to cramp up when trying to type the word ‘resilience’ #, so in the effort to avoid cliche, I’ll just say that the song’s imbued with the city’s indefatigable need to party.
Back down in Louisiana, there are parties taking place all over the city as a thumb-to-the-nose at Katrina. Scores of people died, and of course, the only way to commemorate them is to get shitfaced and play the music loud.
Lil Wayne – “Georgia… Bush”
by Bryce Rudow (@brycetrudow)
Unlike Charles above and Random Nerds CEO Joe Corbett, who just posted his Katrina story that you should very much read, I have never lived in New Orleans. I’ve never even been there (though I did almost once move there sight unseen to start a company with/live with Joe and his wife Claire). But in late 2005, I was very much one of the many white suburban youths who loved him some Weezy F. Baby, greatest rapper alive.
While the years may not have been kind to New Orleans’ favorite son Tunechi, one of his greatest career accomplishments came in the wake of Hurricane Katrina: the Dedication 2 mixtape. The second installment in his ‘Gangsta Grillz’ series with DJ Drama, the mixtape was not only a critical darling, it was also a huge financial boon for the mid-career Wayne. And very deliberately closing out this album was “Georgia… Bush,” a poignant critique of then-President George Bush’s (lack of) response to Katrina that made Kanye’s “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” feel like a slap on the wrist.
Set over Field Mob’s “Georgia,” the song’s first verse reads like a still-relevant assessment of the events following Hurricane Katrina:
This song is dedicated to the one with the suit
Thick white skin and his eyes bright blue
So called beef with you-know-who
Fuck it, he just let em kill all of our troops
Look at the bullshit we been through
Had our niggas sitting on top their roofs
Hurricane Katrina, we should’ve called it Hurricane (Georgia) Bush
Then they telling y’all lies on the news
The white people smiling like everything cool
But I know people that died in that pool
I know people that died in them schools
Now what is the survivor to do?
Got to no trailer, you gotta move
Now it’s on to Texas and to (Georgia)
They tell you what they want, show you what they want you to see
But they don’t let you know what’s really going on
Make it look like a lotta stealing going on
Boy them cops is killas in my home
Nigga shot dead in the middle of the street
I ain’t no thief, I’m just trying to eat
Man fuck the police and President (Georgia) Bush
So what happened to the levies, why wasn’t they steady?
Why wasn’t they able to control this?
Even 10 years later, listening to this song should make you cringe a bit knowing how we let an entire city in the US fall apart. Especially when you remember that people like Barbara Bush, former first lady and mother of the then-President, said in interviews:
What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality… And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.
Tell that to Doug Thorton and Lt. Col. Doug Mouton, I think they have some cake they’ll let you eat.
Beach House – Depression Cherry
by Lindsay Hogan @LindsayHogan88
I don’t listen to Beach House. It’s not that I dislike Beach House, I just wasn’t exposed to them until the hype around their new album started this summer. It was enough to trigger my interest, but as the release day for Depression Cherry approached, I still hadn’t dived into their four previous albums. But about a week ago, my curiosity was peaked for reasons more superficial than the actual content of the album: Consequence of Sound and Pitchfork, mouth pieces of everything indie and my go-to sites for music analysis, disagreed substantially in their reviews of Depression Cherry.
A C+ from Consequence of Sound is essentially them saying, “Its not dismal, but its lackluster and disappointing.” Whereas an 8.6 from Pitchfork and a “Best New Music” designation is essentially them saying it’s the best thing they’ve heard in months and they will probably be on their festival line-up next summer. Both reviews leaned heavily on Beach House’s previous material, which is totally fair and expected.
But maybe such a discrepancy (I rationalized to myself) warranted a review that was free from the burden of Beach House’s previous four albums and free from prior affections.
When a band comes out with an album that does not meet expectations, a passionate listener will either glorify the previous albums as they, betrayed, stomp all over the latest release. Or they will justify the new album, often to the point of delusion and attempt to wedge it into a larger thesis of the band’s musical genius.
And on the other hand, you’ve got me. I sat down almost every night this week, listening to the swirling perfectionist dream-pop of Beach House and tried, really tried, to be less bored.
My expectations were mild. I wasn’t looking for a life-changing Sylvan-Esso-meets-Diplo album. But as lovely and layered as each song starts out, they never delivered on the initial promise of transcendence. What’s more (and I say this after 4+ listens to the album and a deep appreciation for the genre): every song sounded the same.
Depression Cherry is one long dreamy waltz whose brief moments of transportation don’t really make up for the schmaltzy stretches that pulled me repeatedly back into a stupor. Honestly, having all 9 tracks blend seamlessly into each other might have been a better approach.
Now if you’re going to yell at me and say “you’ve missed the entire point of Beach House, you impatient, superficial, EDM-guzzling idiot,” then maybe yes, someone with greater context and admiration for the band should’ve reviewed this album. And I appreciate that Beach House’s sound takes a little more effort to engage. But I’m calling this one as I see it; Depression Cherry does a lot more lagging than captivating.
But here’s whats good. “Sparks” is an excellent song that shouldn’t be dismissed just because you fell into a coma two track later. Beach House’s use of sonic repetition is pulled off flawlessly on this one in contrast to the rest of the album. I also think “PPP” would be a great, stand-alone, dream-pop waltz if it weren’t so indistinguishable from the surrounding tracks. And I like “Bluebirds,” if only for the tapping-percussion that grabbed my attention at the 11th hour. But this too, repeated ad nauseam, put me to sleep.
I’m not giving up on Beach House. I’ll get back to you after I listen to their older albums and see them live. But right now I need some smelling salts and a goddamn cup of coffee.
Like what you read? Share it.
(That helps us.)
Love what you read? Patronize Bryce Rudow.
That helps us and the writer.
What is Patronizing? Learn more here.