Sasha Frere-Jones’ Listening Pleasures

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Sasha Frere-Jones, The New Yorker‘s prolific pop-music critic, is about to get busier. Last week, the news broke that he had signed on as the new culture editor of The Daily, News Corporation’s soon-to-debut iPad newspaper. For now, Frere-Jones, a musician in his own right and current member of the bands Piñata and Calvinist, continues to write—on race in American pop music and the end of hip-hop, among other volatile subjects—and to document his surroundings in photos he calls “barely photography.” We caught up with Frere-Jones to quiz him about his current music faves and the perks of being one of the world’s Top 30 critics.   

Mother Jones: What’s your favorite new or upcoming release?

Sasha Frere-Jones: Robyn’s Body Talk Part 1 and Body Talk Part 2, two of three albums she has promised to release in 2010. At the Polar Music Prize ceremonies in Stockholm, I heard Robyn sing Björk’s “Hyperballad” and something felt right in the world, as if the good guys had won something significant. When pop as smart and exuberant and well-rendered as Robyn’s comes into the world, the idea of the underground seems less logical. If you can be Robyn, why would you need to escape the mainstream? (Both albums double as aerobic sessions, conveniently.)

MJ: Shuffle your iPod (or equivalent) and name the first 5 songs that pop up.

SFJ:
1. Ice Cube & Dr. Dre, “Natural Born Killaz”
2. Emeralds, “Candy Shoppe”
3. Fucked Up, “Magic Word”
4. Instant Funk, “I Got My Mind Made Up”
5. Beach House, “Walk In The Park”

MJ: What’s the latest song that super-glued itself in your brain?

SFJ: The Budos Band, “Black Venom”

MJ: Three records you never get sick of listening to?

SFJ: The Jesus Lizard, Liar
Outkast, Aquemini
Brian Eno, Another Green World

MJ: Any guilty pleasures?

SFJ: Don’t believe in guilty pleasures. Categorical impossibility. Pleasure is pleasure.

MJ: Favorite holiday-related song or album?

SFJ: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

MJ: Favorite politically themed song or album?

SFJ: Everything is political, or nothing is.

MJ: Name the biggest perk of being pop-music critic for The New Yorker.

SFJ: I am paid to write and people read what I write.

MJ: Biggest irk?

SFJ: No irks!

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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