Author: Scott Woods

  • I’m In Love With My Walls

    “Claustrophobic”: Somewhere in the disheveled histories of Massive Attack, Tricky, and Portishead, this became the critical buzzword of trip-hop. Don’t believe me? Log on to Google, type in “Massive + Attack + claustrophobic,” and watch what pours out. Though usually applied as a compliment, “claustrophobic” nonetheless became somewhat obligatory—like tossing “pre-fabricated” into an *NSync or […]

  • Because I Got High

    It’s always impossible to pin a date on these things, but somewhere in the time line of alternative rock, the scruffy set’s preoccupation with guitar noise as an end itself (following the likes of Sonic Youth in the U.S. and Jesus and Mary Chain in the U.K.) turned into an obsession with the even further-flung […]

  • Infiltrate It

    “Pop Muzik” by Marcus and “I’m Afraid of Britney Spears” by LiveonRelease are unsubtle attempts at, respectively, collegiate parody and high school alienation. As responses to teenpop from the outside—away from the focus groups and factories—these records will nevertheless sound best on Radio Disney alongside their all-too-obvious targets: marionette heartthrobs and breast-implanted cheerleaders. I have […]

  • 2Step’s Ticket to Paradise

    A year ago, someone I work with at the record store played me what was then the latest dance song to take over the U.K. charts: “Sweet Like Chocolate” by a mysterious entity known as Shanks & Bigfoot. “Sweeter Than Chocolate” would’ve been more appropriate, as the song had more glucose in it than just […]

  • Everything for Everyone

    The packaging of Sing When You’re Winning, the second North American release from British superhero Robbie Williams, presents a series of stills that look like scenes from a British football (er, soccer) fantasy, in which every character is Robbie: home team, opponents, referee, coach, cops, fans in the loo, drunken lout at the bar. The […]

  • Will You Scrub Me Tomorrow

    Unless you’re regularly tuned in to an urban radio station, it’s possible you’ve never heard of Kandi, the r&b singer. But you’re undoubtedly familiar with Kandi the r&b songwriter—in particular her two most famous creations, TLC’s “No Scrubs” and Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills.” On Kandi’s first solo album, Hey Kandi . . . , […]

  • Making Whoopee

    Björk follows in a distinguished line of contortionists using their voices to make twisted, comical squelches, from Howlin’ Wolf to Mark E. Smith, from Lene Lovich to the Fat Boys, from Mikey Dread to Poly Styrene (outside of pop, the tradition extends back to Richard Huelsenbeck, Spike Jones, and Mel Blanc). Depending on how you […]

  • Keeping It Unreal

    In the dawning of our Lord Jesus Cobain, a/k/a the fall of 1991, P.M. Dawn’s debut hip-hop single, “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss,” rode to the top of Billboard‘s pop singles chart, and it felt like an affront on every level to alt-rockers and gangsta rappers alike: The song drew inspiration from the schlockiest of […]

  • Knight in White Spaghetti

    Reviewers love harping on about how “soulful” Richard Ashcroft is; the ex-Verve frontman has been compared to everyone from Al Green to D’Angelo to (brace yourself) Isaac Hayes. Ashcroft himself has played up this angle for a while now, constantly chatting up the soul music he’s fond of, even having the gumption to call the […]

  • Three Degrees Celsius and Rising

    The Canadian press has burped up a lot of hoopla lately about the sudden deluge of homegrown hip-hop, and, this being Canada and all, the stories have nothing to do with aesthetics and everything to do with whether honchos at BET will give a damn. We’ll see. One thing, though, remains certain about Canadian hip-hop […]