kottke.org posts about Sasha Frere-Jones

The Perfect RecordingsSep 05 2014

New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones recently compiled a series of five playlists on Spotify of "perfect" songs: vol 1, vol 2, vol 3, vol 4, vol 5. Among the songs found on the playlists are Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Blue Moon by Elvis, Pony by Ginuwine, Transmission by Joy Division, Tennis Court by Lorde, No Scrubs by TLC, and Rock Steady by Aretha Franklin. The playlists are also available on Rdio, courtesy of my friend Matt: vol 1, vol 2, vol 3, vol 4, and vol 5.

Update: And here's an Rdio playlist with all five volumes of Perfect Recordings. This will be on shuffle at my place for months to come.

Does good music need to be good?May 20 2013

I enjoyed and agree with much of Sasha Frere-Jones' take on Daft Punk's recent album, Random Access Memories.

Daft Punk's fourth studio album, "Random Access Memories," is an attempt to make the kind of disco record that they sampled so heavily for "Discovery." As such, it serves as a tribute to those who came before them and as a direct rebuke to much of what they've spawned. Only intermittently electronic in nature, and depending largely on live musicians, it is extremely ambitious, and as variable in quality as any popular album you will hear this year. Noodly jazz fusion instrumentals? Absolutely. Soggy poetry and kid choirs? Yes, please. Cliches that a B-list teen-pop writer would discard? Bring it on. The duo has become so good at making records that I replay parts of "Random Access Memories" repeatedly while simultaneously thinking it is some of the worst music I've ever heard. Daft Punk engages the sound and the surface of music so lovingly that all seventy-five loony minutes of "Random Access Memories" feel fantastic, even when you are hearing music you might never seek out. This record raises a radical question: Does good music need to be good?

MP3 sound quality: good enoughSep 03 2009

Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood doesn't think that the supposed low sound quality of MP3s is something to get worked up about.

We had a few complaints that the MP3s of our last record wasn't encoded at a high enough rate. Some even suggested we should have used FLACs, but if you even know what one of those is, and have strong opinions on them, you're already lost to the world of high fidelity and have probably spent far too much money on your speaker-stands.

This conversation with Greenwood is part of a new series by Sasha Frere-Jones' on the sound quality of recorded music.

Who is on Twitter?Feb 02 2009

Sasha Frere-Jones lists a bunch of people who are on Twitter.

people who are just back from a really awesome run
people who are involved in "social networking" and optimizing the power of re-Tweeting and "computers"
people who can't figure out what their kids want to eat
Shaquille O'Neal
people who have never seen snow
people who like Battlestar Galactica

Sasha Frere-Jones on Auto-TuneJun 06 2008

Sasha Frere-Jones on Auto-Tune, the studio gizmo responsible for the cool/cheesy voice effects in Cher's Believe and, more recently, most of T-Pain's work.

T-Pain, who is currently working on his third album, "Thr33 Ringz," spoke to me on the phone from his studio in Miami. He first heard the Auto-Tune effect on a song by Jennifer Lopez -- he doesn't remember which one -- and borrowed it for a mixtape appearance in 2003. He says it's no trade secret that he uses Auto-Tune with the retune speed set to zero, and likes to recall a time he spent selling fish out of a truck with his father in Tallahassee: "My dad said, 'They can know what you're using, but they'll never know how to use it. They can see that we're using salt and pepper.'"

Frere-Jones demonstrates how Auto-Tune works in a short audio segment. Anil Dash wrote about Auto-Tune in the context of Snoop Dogg's recent Sensual Seduction video. A free Auto-Tune clone called GSnap is available for free.

I uploaded a few of Auto-Tune's greatest hits to my Muxtape: have a listen.

This short blog post by Sasha Frere-JonesMar 31 2008

This short blog post by Sasha Frere-Jones about rock show patron drink tipping practices is impossible to excerpt...lots of lovely little bits. Ok, twist my arm:

When Chromeo played, their crowd drank house vodka and Budweiser. Didn't tip. Some of them did what I'll call the slide-backs. They put a dollar down on the bar, wait until you turn your back, then palm their buck and walk away. Classy. When your night starts out with "What's your cheapest drink?" that's also not good."

The phrase "au contraire mon Frere-Jones" isMar 20 2007

The phrase "au contraire mon Frere-Jones" is just hanging out there, waiting for someone to use it.

Sasha Frere-Jones on Diplo and Fernando LuisJul 28 2005

Sasha Frere-Jones on Diplo and Fernando Luis Mattos da Matta, who is a Brazilian funk DJ.

Sasha Frere-Jones, the pop critic for theJun 01 2005

Sasha Frere-Jones, the pop critic for the New Yorker, will not review any music "unless I have unlimited access to a portable version of it, renderered in either the CD, MP3 or vinyl format".

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