Monday January 23 2023
UK garage, Janet Malcolm, the 2022 playlist, worst diner in the U.S., and more
This graphic of the most popular books in U.S. public libraries last year is a trip. I’m surprised that novels dominate and embarrassed I didn’t already know. Bread-and-butter fiction writer? GOAT job security. And what’s the opposite of a broadband author like John Grisham? A narrow funnel passionate like the late record collector Joe Bussard.
Do you have a donut scale? By that, I mean something that pleases you even in its worst incarnation. For example: if you give me a 1-out-of-10 donut, I will eat it. UK garage is powerful on my donut scale. Have you made a passable 2-out-of-10 UKG mix? Perfect—I will listen to it and buy the limited edition cassette that I have no way of playing. This new Physical Therapy mix of UKG from 2022 is an 8 or a 9, and a perfect place to start if you have no idea what I’m on about. Do you love Burial? Our man comes out of UKG, as does Jamie XX.
Very legit people in London have explained the difference between UKG and 2-step to me but it hasn’t brought me any closer to hearing a difference between the two. (Songs that people swear represent one style routinely end up in mixes called the other, so.) The UK chart peak for UKG started in 1999 and ended around 2002. There are rapping versions of UKG that have hit big, like So Solid Crew, but the genre favors the sugar spinners: Craig David and Mis-Teeq and the like. One of my favorites is the very uncool and absolutely unfuckwithable 2001 masterpiece “Gotta Get Through This” by Daniel Bedingfield, the lesser-known of the singing siblings. Mr. Bedingfield has scrubbed the video from his channel, as he has taken a Serious Singer path that apparently doesn’t need dance music messing up the narrative. Fair play! It’s his career and the song and beat were the heat, not him. Unless it was really him! This video of Bedingfield doing his breakout single in 2002 on live TV is a great document of ‘90s culture on the way out: the untucked shirt, the vocal skills, the hair-with-product, middle management on vacation style, the combination of Unplugged aesthetics with a Black dance genre that has been shipped directly into the middle of screaming white girls culture.
UKG begins with Tina Moore’s “Never Gonna Let You Go,” an American R&B tune released in 1995 and remixed by Kelly G in 1997. (As much as I love that Bedingfield tune, this remix is several levels above that.) You can find versions of the Kelly G mix all over YouTube, some slightly faster and dubbed out. The elements are there—the sped-up R&B vocals that are still a staple of Burial’s music, the combination of goofy and crisp, the ability to make the listener feel light enough to dance and keep dancing.
This is the Spotify playlist of things I loved in 2022. Not definitive or even deeply considered. Let it roll.
Cory Doctorow’s thread about the enshittification of social media platforms (in this case, TikTok) is fantastic. Few people write about the internet as well as Cory. There are at least six books that are trying to do this analysis at 100x the length.
You can figure out where this diner is from the photos attached but I deleted the whole Yelp review because, the next day, when I woke up, I had big fears of renegade cops AirTagging my car and leaving dead squirrels in my tailpipe.
I have mixes for you. This long Time Is Away set from November is a slow walk through the sadness tavern and out into a square where dancing is real, though not fast. Friend and collaborator Sydney Spann hit us with this mix for Glob that stays on a freaked Romanticism wavelength and this MI-EL mix is, per the DJ herself, “fever-dream ambient and hard-hitting grooves.” Sydney’s mix begins with a track from Su Tissue’s phenomenal Salon De Musique album, almost 40 years old now. (Nobody has seen Su Tissue since then, according to this 2019 piece from The Outline.) You can support Sydney by subscribing to their Bandcamp page. On top of being a true buddy, you’ll get their album from last year, Oceanic/E.L.M., which is sick as hell. And, in closing, in this essay, I have also told you about the MOS FET guest mix for OJOO GYAL, which is “an emotive trip of blissed dubwise torque for the system” and the best thing I’ve heard in a hot minute. The new mos fet EP is also kinda killing me. Whomst is this guy!
This video of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band playing “Click Clack” at Le Bataclan in 1972 makes me want to be alive forever. I also feel better about life because of RXK Nephew’s “Yeezy Boots,” which is him yelling about Ye for a few minutes. Won’t be up long.
If you’re going to bed, maybe watch this video of cops stuck in the mud and relax yourself. Of course it’s not from America, because those cops would be shooting people just for pushing them over. Case in point: someone defending the Atlanta forest was just slaughtered by cops. Please donate to help defend the Atlanta forest. If you’re tuning in late: “The Atlanta Police Department seeks to turn 300 acres of forest into a tactical training compound featuring a mock city. This project was announced to the shock of community members who had been given no opportunity to weigh in on the proposal. The entire process has been shadier than the forest itself.” Here is the story of the person who died, Manuel Teran, a.k.a. Tortuguita, and this is a video from AJ+ about Cop City. I also suggest supporting CrimethInc. and subscribing to their newsletter. (Elon suspended their Twitter account and there is no better recommendation right now.)