January 1999
s m u g
ear candy
by Ben Auburn

Wish List for 1999

Looking back, 1998 wasn't really a lousy year for music, but there were some weird disappointments. Lots of records that were supposed to be revelations - like Liz Phair's and Juliana Hatfield's firsts in four years, like Bob Mould's "final" loud rock album, like the Beastie Boys' fun but nonchalant long-player - were, if not non-events, nothing approaching the statements of purpose I'd hoped for. And even though PJ Harvey pulled out all the stops for Is This Desire, why'd she have to pull them out so quietly?

Even though there's nothing to unify a year in music except the regularity of the calendar, twelve-months worth of releases can leave a flavor behind, especially when we've had all of December pretty much off while the labels release their standard flood of Xmas shopping season best-ofs and box sets. Here's hoping that 1999 doesn't leave that metallic bloody taste that '98 did, that sense that you've bitten your cheek, not so much out of surprise or fear as disappointment.

Just in case the music industry is listening - not that they've ever shown a sign of doing so before (hello, music industry, where are all those free review copies I've heard so much about?), herewith, please find my wish list for 1999, based on the few new releases already planned for the first few months of the millennium's penultimate year and, well, based on nothing but my selfish desires. Are these desires? Yep:

The New Built to Spill Will Nearly Kill Me
Here's hoping that Doug Martsch will be able to live up to the title of his previous Built to Spill record, Perfect From Now On. No other band is so fiercely insistent on exploring a song's full set of possibilities before resolving - all drawn-out climaxes and amazingly un-flashy guitar fireworks. It's possible we'll deserve Built to Spill's new record, but something in me really hopes we don't.

Sebadoh Will Stay Aching
The Sebadoh is the name of the upcoming Sebadoh release (Feburary? March?), and if we're lucky, really lucky, there'll be a song or two as good, as sweetly perfect a pop song, as Harmacy's "Ocean."

Mos Def and Talib Kweli Will Clone Themselves
It seems like everybody expected it, and maybe they knew something I didn't, but Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star completely threw me on my ass this fall, more than any other hip hop release. If those Korean scientists did, in fact, clone a human being, maybe we can set them to work on Mos and Kweli.

Jurassic 5 Won't Become Extinct
How can an Ep as good as theirs not immediately get this ungodly hip-hop crew signed and world-famous? I long for another rhyme as good as Chali Tuna's: "They call me Tuna / as in fishin' see / cause efficiency / is my mission, see?"

Liz Phair Will Atone
I eagerly await a darkchocolatespaceegg, wherein Liz Phair and Brad Wood hole themselves up in a cheap-ass studio for a week and pound out six (that's all I need, just six) new songs. They should feel free to polish them all they want that wasn't what was wrong with whitechocolatespaceegg, after all but I want the songs. It's obvious that four years of contemplation didn't do the trick, so maybe some quickie one-offs will. Phair's never voiced an objection to quickies before, after all.

Juliana Hatfield Will Release God's Foot
Please, Juliana. I know you want to put it behind you, but can't we put it behind us, too?

Prince Among Thieves and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Will Be A Double-Whammy
Hip-hop's true weird genius isn't Kool Keith - it's Prince Paul, and while Psychoanalysis was diverting, it told only half the story. Paul's hip-hop's greatest producer not because he builds the densest soundscapes or because he bops the hardest; he's a psychotic coalescer, allowing opposites to share space and containing the fireworks. His solo record, Prince, and his collaboration with a Dust Brother and Dr. Octagon architect The Automator, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, will hopefully stick in our collective memory like in ice-pick.

The British Will Come
Where is Super Furry Animals' Radiator? Baby Bird's second record? Black Box Recorder's first? All are available as pricey imports, but none of them have found their way into domestic bins. SFA will have a new record out in the UK before 1997's Radiator will be on these shores (if it ever will), and why did American radio never really give Baby Bird a chance? You're telling me that "Jesus Was My Girlfriend" wasn't instant Buzz Bin? Will we wise up in '99?

I've tried very hard to stay positive here, it'd be easy to have wishes like "Puff Daddy will retire to be a professional golfer," or "Pearl Jam will leave the business, citing artistic differences with the entire world." No year has ever had more good music than bad. That's fine - it's the way of things, ninety percent of anything is shit. But next year, I just want my heroes (and I've got a bunch) to stay heroes.

*


ben@smug.com

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chair
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scissors
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