December’s Notable Music (2014)



6’10, The Humble Beginnings of a Rovin’ Soul: You won’t have heard of 6’10, and there’s no shame in that. 6’10 is the side project of Tobin Bawinkel, who- oh, you don’t know who Tobin Bawinkel is? Well, he’s the lead singer of Flatfoot 56, and he- oh, you don’t know who Flatfoot 56 is? Dang, maybe this shouldn’t be in the “Hits” section. Flatfoot 56 is a Celtic punk rock band from Chicago that makes music with Christian themes in mind. The reason this is in the “Hits” section is that Flatfoot 56 is the best Celtic punk rock band I’ve ever heard (An admittedly small sample. Humor me.), and 6’10’s 2014 EP was very promising. Humble Beginnings boasts similar subject matter to Flatfoot 56’s blue-collar lyrics but with a roots-rock makeover, and the makeover is a welcome change of pace. Favorite song: “Timothy”


Charli XCX, Sucker: Do you like pop music? Charli XCX likes pop music. You know what else Charli XCX likes? Blown eardrums. Ruptured vocal folds. Mosh pits. Chaos. Songs like “Boom Clap” and “Fancy” may have given us the wrong impression of Charli XCX. Her first album probably didn’t help either; True Romance was a softer, sweeter sort of bubble-gum pop. Sucker is in your face, hammer-on-your-thumb punk pop music. Sucker is to pop music what heavy metal is to rock music. This is what Sleigh Bells wishes they sounded like. Favorite song that’s not “Boom Clap”: “Break the Rules”



She & Him, Classics: There’s nothing wrong with Classics. I like Classics. Classics is exactly what I expected. Classics is classic She & Him, just without original songs. Languid guitars, chanteuse-y Deschanel, mild jazz pop…Yeah, that’s She & Him. Nothing new. Nothing to see here.


Smashing Pumpkins, Monuments to an Elegy: Speaking of classics, Billy Corgan is the genuine article. Unfortunately, he’s the kind that belongs in a museum. There’s one song worth memorializing here (“Being Beige”), but Billy Corgan left his ability to craft a hook in the ‘90s.

Off the Grid


D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah: I have little experience with D’Angelo; I’ve seen the video (“Untitled (How Does It Feel)”, featuring the majority of D’Angelo’s naked body) and listened to Voodoo, but even so I think I’m firmly in the Don’t-Get-It camp. “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” is a brilliant R&B song, but aside from that I’m pretty ambivalent about D’Angelo, even though he has maintained an incredible mystique among music fans since he became a recluse over a decade ago. Black Messiah, his surprise (sort of) album, is fascinating, but in a distant sort of way. I don’t have any feelings about any of these songs. But I’m willing to admit that maybe Black Messiah is the kind of album that needs a lot of listens before it wins me over. So I’ll file this in the To-Be-Continued drawer.


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