Your favourite music reviews
Posted 23 May 2008 - 05:09 AM
Posted 23 May 2008 - 05:30 AM
Led Zeppelin II
By Jon Mendelsohn
"Hey, man, I take it all back! This is one fucking heavyweight of the album! OKâ€”I'll concede that until you've listened to the album eight hundred times, as I have, it seems as if it's just one especially heavy song extended over the space of two whole sides. But, hey! you've got to admit that the Zeppelin has their distinctive and enchanting formula down stone-cold, man. Like you get the impression they could do it in their sleep.
And who can deny that Jimmy Page is the absolute number-one heaviest white blues guitarist between 5'4" and 5'8" in the world?? Shit, man, on this album he further demonstrates that he could absolutely fucking shut down any whitebluesman alive, and with one fucking hand tied behind his back too.
"Whole Lotta Love," which opens the album, has to be the heaviest thing I've run across (or, more accurately, that's run across me) since "Parchmant Farm" on Vincebus Eruptum. Like I listened to the break (Jimmy wrenching some simply indescribable sounds out of his axe while your stereo goes ape-shit) on some heavy Vietnamese weed and very nearly had my mind blown.
Hey, I know what you're thinking. "That's not very objective." But dig: I also listened to it on mescaline, some old Romilar, novocain, and ground up Fusion, and it was just as mind-boggling as before. I must admit I haven't listened to it straight yetâ€”I don't think a group this heavy is best enjoyed that way.
Anyhow . . . Robert Plant, who is rumored to sing some notes on this record that only dogs can hear, demonstrates his heaviness on "The Lemon Song." When he yells "Shake me 'til the juice runs down my leg," you can't help but flash on the fact that the lemon is a cleverly-disguised phallic metaphor. Cunning Rob, sticking all this eroticism in between the lines just like his blues-beltin' ancestors! And then (then) there's "Moby Dick," which will be for John Bonham what "Toad" has been for Baker. John demonstrates on this track that had he half a mind he could shut down Baker even without sticks, as most of his intriguing solo is done with bare hands.
The album ends with a far-out blues number called "Bring It On Home," during which Rob contributes some very convincing moaning and harp-playing, and sings "Wadge da train roll down da track." Who said that white men couldn't sing blues? I mean, like, who?"
Posted 23 May 2008 - 07:24 AM
All my life i wanted to be black.
Until i saw your picture, now i wanna be you.
Posted 23 May 2008 - 07:28 AM
"What is this shit?"
Posted 23 May 2008 - 07:33 AM
John Lennon & Yoko Ono - Experimental Crap
So what we have here are a few albums released by John and Yoko that just suck dogshit. I thought no one would mind if I didn't review these but I recieved an indignant PM the other night and decided to download all three of the experimental John & Yoko albums. They're all masterpieces
more like master pieces of shit lol, i'm sure they had fun doing these albums together but I don't think anyone could tolerate this stuff for too long. My ear for experimental and avant garde isn't as finely tuned as some, but yeah, I can get down with experimental stuff and noise and all that, but this isn't even interesting, it doesn't make me feel like i'm shitting my dick out of my skull, which is how good avant garde crap should sound. This is just John and Yoko dancing around naked with their pee pee sticks out and giggling "whee look how much fun we're having!" so in conclusion, fuck these albums and everyone involved, especially George Harrison. fucking prick
Song: song? LOL
"what kind of moe cop doesn't give her the old suck on my balls warning?
Posted 23 May 2008 - 08:18 AM
Kurt Loder, Rolling Stone (5 stars)
This may be art rock's crowning masterpiece, but it is also something more. With The Final Cut, Pink Floyd caps its career in classic form, and leader Roger Waters–for whom the group has long since become little more than a pseudonym–finally steps out from behind the "Wall" where last we left him. The result is essentially a Roger Waters solo album, and it's a superlative achievement on several levels. Not since Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" twenty years ago has a popular artist unleashed upon the world political order a moral contempt so corrosively convincing, or a life-loving hatred so bracing and brilliantly sustained. Dismissed in the past as a mere misogynist, a ranting crank, Waters here finds his focus at last, and with it a new humanity. And with the departure of keyboardist Richard Wright and his synthesizers–and the advent of a new "holophonic" recording technique–the music has taken on deep, mahogany-hued tones, mainly provided by piano, harmonium and real strings. The effect of these internal shifts is all the more exhilarating for being totally unexpected. By comparison, in almost every way, The Wall was only a warm-up.
The Final Cut began as a modest expansion upon the soundtrack of the film version of The Wall, with a few new songs added and its release scheduled for the latter half of 1982. In the interim, however, the movie, a grotesquely misconceived collaboration between Waters and director Alan Parker, was released to a general thud of incomprehension. Around the same time, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, irked by the unseemly antics of an Argentine despot, dispatched British troops halfway around the world to fight and die for the Falkland Islands.
That event, coming in the wake of his failed film statement, apparently stirred Waters to an artistic epiphany. Out of the jumbled obsessions of the original Wall album, he fastened on one primal and unifying obsession: the death of his father in the battle of Anzio in 1944. Thus, on The Final Cut, a child's inability to accept the loss of the father he never knew has become the grown man's refusal to accept the death politics that decimate each succeeding generation and threaten ever more clearly with each passing year to ultimately extinguish us all.
The album is dedicated to the memory of the long-lost Eric Fletcher Waters, and in one of its most memorable moments, his now-middle-aged son bitterly envisions a "Fletcher Memorial Home for incurable tyrants and kings," one and all welcome, be they pompous butchers in comic-opera uniforms or smug statesmen in expensive suits. He presents a ghastly processional: "... please welcome Reagan and Haig/Mr. Begin and friend, Mrs. Thatcher and Paisley/Mr. Brezhnev and party.... And," he coos, "now adding color, a group of anonymous Latin American meat packing glitterati." With these "colonial wasters of life and limb" duly assembled, Waters inquires, with ominous delicacy: "Is everyone in?/Are you having a nice time?/Now the final solution can be applied."
As fantasy, this has a certain primordial appeal. But Waters realizes that all the Neanderthals will never be blown away. What concerns him more is the inexplicable extent of fighting in the world when there seems so little left to defend. In "The Gunners Dream," a dying airman hopes to the end that his death will be in the service of "the postwar dream," for which the album stands as a requiem–the hope for a society that offers "a place to stay/enough to eat," where "no one ever disappears ... and maniacs don't blow holes in bandsmen by remote control." But Waters, looking around him more than thirty-five years after the war's end, can only ask: "Is it for this that daddy died?"
In the past, Waters might have dismissed the gunner's dream as an empty illusion from the outset. Instead, though, Waters insists on honoring his sacrifice: "We cannot just write off his final scene/Take heed of his dream/Take heed." Without a commitment to some objective values, he seems to say, we sink into a brutalizing xenophobia – an "I'm all right, Jack" condition explored with considerable brilliance in the withering "Not Now John." In that song, the deepest human truths are cast aside in a frenzy "to compete with the wily Japanese": "There's too many home fires burning/And not enough trees/So fuck all that/We've got to get on with these."
With a Sixties-style soul-chick chorus bleating "Fuck all that!" in the background, and guitarist David Gilmour pile-driving power chords throughout, "Not Now John" qualifies as one of the most ferocious performances Pink Floyd has ever put on record. In the context of The Final Cut, it is something of an oddity; for while the music has an innate architectural power that pulls one ever deeper into the album's conceptual design, the performances and production are generally distinguished by their restraint–even the fabled Floydian sound effects are reduced to the occasional ticking clock or whooshing bomber. Attention is mostly devoted to the music's human textures: the gorgeous saxophone solos of Raphael Ravenscroft, Ray Cooper's thundering percussion, shimmering string washes, the sometimes gospel-tinged piano of Michael Kamen (who coproduced the album with Waters and James Guthrie) and, on every track, the most passionate and detailed singing that Waters has ever done.
Whether this will be their last album as a group (the official word is no, but Wright is apparently gone for good, and even the faithful Nick Mason relinquishes his drum chair on one cut to session player Andy Newmark) is not as compelling a question as where Waters will go with what appears to be a new-found freedom. He plans to record a solo album for his next project, and one hopes that just the novelty of becoming a full-fledged human will be enough to keep him profitably occupied for many years to come.
Download all of my alleged music free through the remainder of May at www.soundclick.com/agrimorfee
Also jabbering about music and movies at www.rateyourmusic.com
Posted 23 May 2008 - 08:26 AM
Posted 23 May 2008 - 08:30 AM
by JD Considine.
Posted 23 May 2008 - 10:28 AM
Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:03 PM
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I had never even seen a shooting star before. 25 years of rotations, passes through comets' paths, and travel, and to my memory I had never witnessed burning debris scratch across the night sky. Radiohead were hunched over their instruments. Thom Yorke slowly beat on a grand piano, singing, eyes closed, into his microphone like he was trying to kiss around a big nose. Colin Greenwood tapped patiently on a double bass, waiting for his cue. White pearls of arena light swam over their faces. A lazy disco light spilled artificial constellations inside the aluminum cove of the makeshift stage. The metal skeleton of the stage ate one end of Florence's Piazza Santa Croce, on the steps of the Santa Croce Cathedral. Michelangelo's bones and cobblestone laid beneath. I stared entranced, soaking in Radiohead's new material, chiseling each sound into the best functioning parts of my brain which would be the only sound system for the material for months.
The butterscotch lamps along the walls of the tight city square bled upward into the cobalt sky, which seemed as strikingly artificial and perfect as a wizard's cap. The staccato piano chords ascended repeatedly. "Black eyed angels swam at me," Yorke sang like his dying words. "There was nothing to fear, nothing to hide." The trained critical part of me marked the similarity to Coltrane's "Ole." The human part of me wept in awe.
The Italians surrounding me held their breath in communion (save for the drunken few shouting "Criep!"). Suddenly, a rise of whistles and orgasmic cries swept unfittingly through the crowd. The song, "Egyptian Song," was certainly momentous, but wasn't the response more apt for, well, "Creep?" I looked up. I thought it was fireworks. A teardrop of fire shot from space and disappeared behind the church where the syrupy River Arno crawled. Radiohead had the heavens on their side.
For further testament, Chip Chanko and I both suffered auto-debilitating accidents in the same week, in different parts of the country, while blasting "Airbag" in our respective Japanese imports. For months, I feared playing the song about car crashes in my car, just as I'd feared passing 18- wheelers after nearly being crushed by one in 1990. With good reason, I suspect Radiohead to possess incomprehensible powers. The evidence is only compounded with Kid A-- the rubber match in the band's legacy-- an album which completely obliterates how albums, and Radiohead themselves, will be considered.
Even the heralded OK Computer has been nudged down one spot in Valhalla. Kid A makes rock and roll childish. Considerations on its merits as "rock" (i.e. its radio fodder potential, its guitar riffs, and its hooks) are pointless. Comparing this to other albums is like comparing an aquarium to blue construction paper. And not because it's jazz or fusion or ambient or electronic. Classifications don't come to mind once deep inside this expansive, hypnotic world. Ransom, the philologist hero of C.S. Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet who is kidnapped and taken to another planet, initially finds his scholarship useless in his new surroundings, and just tries to survive the beautiful new world.
This is an emotional, psychological experience. Kid A sounds like a clouded brain trying to recall an alien abduction. It's the sound of a band, and its leader, losing faith in themselves, destroying themselves, and subsequently rebuilding a perfect entity. In other words, Radiohead hated being Radiohead, but ended up with the most ideal, natural Radiohead record yet.
"Everything in Its Right Place" opens like Close Encounters spaceships communicating with pipe organs. As your ears decide whether the tones are coming or going, Thom Yorke's Cuisinarted voice struggles for its tongue. "Everything," Yorke belts in uplifting sighs. The first-person mantra of "There are two colors in my head" is repeated until the line between Yorke's mind and the listener's mind is erased.
Skittering toy boxes open the album's title song, which, like the track "Idioteque," shows a heavy Warp Records influence. The vocoder lullaby lulls you deceivingly before the riotous "National Anthem." Mean, fuzzy bass shapes the spine as unnerving theremin choirs limn. Brash brass bursts from above like Terry Gilliam's animated foot. The horns swarm as Yorke screams, begs, "Turn it off!" It's the album's shrill peak, but just one of the incessant goosebumps raisers.
After the rockets exhaust, Radiohead float in their lone orbit. "How to Disappear Completely" boils down "Let Down" and "Karma Police" to their spectral essence. The string-laden ballad comes closest to bridging Yorke's lyrical sentiment to the instrumental effect. "I float down the Liffey/ I'm not here/ This isn't happening," he sings in his trademark falsetto. The strings melt and weep as the album shifts into its underwater mode. "Treefingers," an ambient soundscape similar in sound and intent to Side B of Bowie and Eno's Low, calms after the record's emotionally strenuous first half.
The primal, brooding guitar attack of "Optimistic" stomps like mating Tyrannosaurs. The lyrics seemingly taunt, "Try the best you can/ Try the best you can," before revealing the more resigned sentiment, "The best you can is good enough." For an album reportedly "lacking" in traditional Radiohead moments, this is the best summation of their former strengths. The track erodes into a light jam before morphing into "In Limbo." "I'm lost at sea," Yorke cries over clean, uneasy arpeggios. The ending flares with tractor beams as Yorke is vacuumed into nothingness. The aforementioned "Idioteque" clicks and thuds like Aphex Twin and Bjork's Homogenic, revealing brilliant new frontiers for the "band." For all the noise to this point, it's uncertain entirely who or what has created the music. There are rarely traditional arrangements in the ambiguous origin. This is part of the unique thrill of experiencing Kid A.
Pulsing organs and a stuttering snare delicately propel "Morning Bell." Yorke's breath can be heard frosting over the rainy, gray jam. Words accumulate and stick in his mouth like eye crust. "Walking walking walking walking," he mumbles while Jonny Greenwood squirts whale-chant feedback from his guitar. The closing "Motion Picture Soundtrack" brings to mind The White Album, as it somehow combines the sentiment of Lennon's LP1 closer-- the ode to his dead mother, "Julia"-- with Ringo and Paul's maudlin, yet sincere LP2 finale, "Goodnight." Pump organ and harp flutter as Yorke condones with affection, "I think you're crazy." To further emphasize your feeling at that moment and the album's overall theme, Yorke bows out with "I will see you in the next life." If you're not already there with him.
The experience and emotions tied to listening to Kid A are like witnessing the stillborn birth of a child while simultaneously having the opportunity to see her play in the afterlife on Imax. It's an album of sparking paradox. It's cacophonous yet tranquil, experimental yet familiar, foreign yet womb-like, spacious yet visceral, textured yet vaporous, awakening yet dreamlike, infinite yet 48 minutes. It will cleanse your brain of those little crustaceans of worries and inferior albums clinging inside the fold of your gray matter. The harrowing sounds hit from unseen angles and emanate with inhuman genesis. When the headphones peel off, and it occurs that six men (Nigel Godrich included) created this, it's clear that Radiohead must be the greatest band alive, if not the best since you know who. Breathing people made this record! And you can't wait to dive back in and try to prove that wrong over and over.
Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:23 PM
Cokemachineglow seems to have taken down their review of Britney Spears' Blackout. I can only begin to imagine why but how disappointing.
I found it. Yeah, this was a good one:
Are the kids in America ok?
In his 1987 culture war manifesto The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom spills a lot of ink elaborating his resounding "NO!". Not only are they lacking a common cultural upbringing based in canonical literature, classical music, and moral philosophy, but their Eros is off. Rather than channeled and heightened through institutions of sexual deferment and a tradition of beautifying erotic poetry, Eros is spent early. The kids are dancing; they are looking at porn; and, most significantly for Bloom, the kids are listening to rock music.
I am paraphrasing rather loosely, but there is no doubt that Bloom sees music as a generational obsession with no historical equivalent. It is "society's greatest madness." Literature, film, technology, career choice...nothing defines the young identity as thoroughly as musical affiliation. We pledge allegiance to rock and roll, the lowbrow howlings of cosmetic revolutionaries and pelvic ministers. The beat of rock music is the beat of sex, and the fandom of twelve year-olds is their premature induction into sexual maturity; Bloom's nightmare is young children singing "Brown sugar, how come you taste so good?" They cannot authentically be erotic, so they just gyrate and masturbate and spoil all their potential. It's not the loss of innocence or lack of family values he laments, but that the soul under these conditions becomes really boring. All the erotic tension that used to keep us tight like a bow, hungry with a desire that motivates us to transcend the mundane, is dissipated by premature ejaculation, so to speak. Eros used to fill kids with wonder and longing. Now it is all wasted like so many dribblings of ejaculate on the sheets.
We are all partisans, and so we must be against this sort of conservative fogeyism. Rock is our passion and our politics, and we cannot sign on to a theory where rock and roll cannot properly fire our passions. Neither will we listen when they tell us that hip hop's misogyny and heterosexism engender hate, nor that the violence in our video games fills our fantasies. Thus, I am against Bloom, but ambivalently so. His book haunts me. Like him, I wonder what it has meant for me to have grown up walking down city streets that read like a Victoria Secret catalogue, and I wonder if the kids in America -- fatherless YouTube strippers nourished with nitrates and corn syrup -- are ok.
Inevitably, I glimpse a blurry outline of Blackout through the thick fog of BRITNEY, the infinite galaxy of paparazzi bullshit that ensures I know all about a certain young woman's dedicated sex room and lack of a sound investment strategy. The spectacle of young female celebrity dissolution functions for today's parents as the free love movement did in the '60s, as a nightmare of unbridled sexuality and the evils of privilege + license. Where are her parents? they wonder as DUI's fall from the sky like miracles of Paris Hilton-hating revenge. Meanwhile, their children of thirteen are high and fellating each other, just as their icons say they should. Of course, this is a grossly ridiculous amalgamation of media money-making, reactionary backlash, and our fears of a world gone mad. As with most nightmares, however, there is truth at the heart: our children are oversexed. And artists like Britney, though neither cause nor effect, seem to have something to do with it.
Blackout signals its defiance of our disapproval with the opening salvo: "It's BRITNEY, bitch." She is BRITNEY the star and we are all her bitches. From a position "above" all the drama, Britney proclaims that everyone taking shots at her, from the paparazzi to the critics and even her listeners, is just a jealous hater. In response to the hate, Britney gives us a middle-finger-to-the-world album consisting of two different types of songs: explicit paparazzi response jamz, and dance floor sex jamz. This is slightly and boringly complicated by the fact that her club songs consist of a certain kind of defiant response, since one of the things they seem to say is, "I'll keep partying whether you bitches like it or not." Lead-off single "Gimme More" is the exception that stradles the fence -- i.e. an explicit dance floor paparazzi sex response jam. It's all in (shit, the whole album is encapsulated by) the first two lines, "It's BRITNEY, bitch / I see you, and I just wanna dance with you." It's a dance floor grinding scene that is somehow also the "center of attention." "Cameras are flashing" and it's actually the crowd that is singing "gimme more"; though we suspect that its both the world that wants more BRITNEY and Britney who is saying "bring it on." "Gimme More" is the best song here and the most appropriate lead single because its status as sexarazzi explicit dance response floor gives it a depth lacking in the rest of the record. Its completion marks the end of any subtext on the album; everything else just is what it is. Not that I am complaining about a lack of serious content. I'm as happy as the next guy to listen to vacant dance music about dancing, and lyrical depth would be out of place on a Britney record. The issue is rather that ("Gimme More" excepted) the album completely fails in two of its three intentions. It wants to be danceable, sexy, and a defiant response to the media shitstorm. It's not even that danceable.
A consensus seems to be forming around this record that goes Britney/vocals = bad, producers/tracks = good, with a caveat of "she chose collaborators well." I'm kind of on board with this except that the right people here do so many wrong things. I shouldn't write shit about Danja, and it's months and months too late to call him Timbaland-lite. Still, you play his solo productions on Blackout next to the team work on FutureSex/LoveSound (2006) and that's exactly how it feels. You even get Danja's crappy voice ad-libbing and singing hooks like big bro does, but not as well (which is quite something, considering Timbaland's vocals). This feeling of disappointment pervades this record. The tight beats and fat synth hooks are fashionable and feisty enough, but they're ultimately frustrated by a sense of not-quite, a feeling that skilled beat-makers are saving their A-game for next week's gig. The Neptunes production "Why Should I Be Sad" is particularly disappointing, not just in comparison to career highlights like last year's Hell Hath No Fury but even next to previous collaborations like "I'm A Slave 4 U." Everything is serviceable enough, but none of it pops. It sounds like I should want to dance to it, but I don't. Good talent, sub-par results. ln baseball they chalk that up to bad management.
After "Gimme More," the best stab at futuristic club fare is "Piece of Me." The basic beat+synths+vocal package works here, and it's bolstered by detailed double-tracked vocals. The hook, "you want a piece of me," is just the kind of slippery fish that benefits from the vocoder treatment. So far so good, but then there's the lyrics. Unfortunately, "Piece of Me" is Britney's anti-papparazzi manifesto, a song dripping with so much flaccid disdain that its sure to alienate everyone. The sentiment here oscillates between "piece" as in the piece desired by the lover, the capitalist, or the tabloid photographer, and "you want a piece of me?" in the fisticuffs sense. What should've been a much better song about sexy fisticuffs (!?) comes off as thinly veiled sour grapes. It's hard to imagine how Britney could have constructed a dignified response to her media situation, but her faux-arrogant hurt feelings do nothing but distract. And as far as defiance goes, all that "Piece of Me" proves is that Britney is pissed -- which, as any schoolyard bully could tell, just reveals how much it has gotten to her.
The remainder of my anecdotal complaints ("Toy Soldiers" apes "Hollaback Girl" with a vengeance; "Ooh Ooh Baby" seems to contain a "fillin' me up"/"feelin' me up" pun, which is gross) are all eclipsed by the apparent paradox that this most explicitly sexual of Britney records is also her least sexy. Score one for Bloom, who understands that Eros spoils in bright light. The flat lewdness of songs like "Get Naked (I Have a Plan)" and "Perfect Lover" leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination. The trying-too-hard unsexiness just hangs there like an X-rated oops pic. Lines like "Baby I'm just hot for takin' / Don't you wanna see my body naked" and "Get naked / Get naked / Get naked" are signifiers of explicitness with no signifieds. I would never claim a subtle eroticism to Britney's early work, but at least there were levels. On singles like "...Baby One More Time" and "Oops!... I Did It Again" the subject was actually love and relationships. Sex was (not too subtly) implied in the beat, the gyrating, and the schoolgirl midriffs. Britney said one thing but meant another. Her double-talk image was similarly tantalizing, as she played the virgin/whore dichotomy by combining hot pants with teletubees or in-heat panting with talk of down-home values. All the young, forbidden hints and inuendos --though completely stupid -- were at least more titillating than all this cutting to the chase. Britney's new straight-talking, truculent stripper persona is about as sexy as a Sue Johanson seminar. For an album that is predicated so thoroughly on turning us on, this is about as big a flop as it gets.
More than just making me listen to a bad album, Britney makes me wonder about the state of the West. There are no less than four porn company reality shows on any given TV night, while HBO and Showcase recently debuted their most nude-filled series yet. We live in a world where that which used to fire our imaginations more and more just assaults our senses. We only get a little of what we need, but the amount of what we get is staggering. One-dimensional arousal is so readily available that there is no thrill, no chase. If I sound like a prude it's because we no longer understand the difference between sexual freedom and pole dancing fitness classes. Indeed, the central evil of all this pornographic pablum is not that it makes us grow up too fast, but that it keeps us infantile. There is thus a strange continuum between BRITNEY the tabloid nightmare and Britney the artist; both are predicated on a lowest-common-denominator sexuality that wants to titillate and shock, but mostly just leaves us cold. Even worse, this shit is everywhere, from the bedroom to the boardroom to the dark corners of my soul. And if my instincts are right it's going to be difficult for us not to become very, very boring because of it.
Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:26 PM
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"Jet! You're finally here! Nice to meet you; I'm Vali, I run the venue. Jesus, guys, I wasn't sure you were gonna show up tonight."
"Sorry, man. You know, bitches."
"Nice. But listen: You guys got a job to do now. We got a packed house, like, 50,000 shitfaced Americans out there and upwards of five Belgian exchange students, all of them dying for a fresh take on the old-school rock 'n' roll. You Aussie sons of bitches think you can handle that? I mean not that I'm worried, I have complete faith in you guys. Just go out there and give them what they want."
"Wait, man, are you telling us what to do? Fuck you, we're Jet! Wherever we play people sleep with us."
"That's great, but the crowd's getting anxious. You gotta get out there and play 'Last Chance'. People will love the shit out of that one."
"Hey, all you American motherfuckers, we're Jet! Here's a song that sounds like AC/DC, a band you love."
"What the? They're booing?! Guys, quick, get back over here. We gotta rethink our strategy."
"Man, American crowds are fucked up. Everybody loves AC/DC. That song is practically an AC/DC song."
"Guys, guys, don't worry about it, the crowd just needs to get warmed up. Go out there and do your big hit, 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl'. Seriously, the crowd is gonna eat this shit up. We got all the AV effects you wanted: Right now we got event security bringing out thirty fuckin' angry alligators with top hats on, Iggy Pop's gonna shoot out of that cannon, and midway through we're gonna send in the kid from the iPod commercial. Still working on the Oxycontin, though, sorry."
"Man, that's bullshit!"
"Listen, Vali, those alligators better be angry."
"Yeah, and no beret shit, either. The alligators want top hats."
"Fine, okay, done. Look, the crowd wants you back, just get back out there. Everything's all set. This time, the shit's gonna rock."
"Hey assholes, it's us again, Jet! Here's the song you came to hear, a shameless rip-off of 'Lust for Life' by Iggy Pop, who is here with us tonight in this cannon."
"'Fuck Jet!'"? Is that what the kids are screaming? Woof! Guys, get back here!"
"I cannot fucking believe this! Don't these people know who Iggy Pop is?!"
"Guys, I don't know what to tell you. I think you need to do some ballads. The crowd wants to hear some ballads. You got anything that sounds like Oasis, The Wallflowers, Bon Jovi?"
"Fuck you, man, we have songs that sound exactly like those guys. These kids won't know the difference. Awright, motherfuckers, let's get out there and melt some hearts. Hello again, Americans! Do you like insipid love songs that sound like wedding band covers? Get ready for five of them!"
"Jet! You guys are covered in shit! What's going on out there?"
"They threw their shit at us!"
"Wow, I have never seen that happen before. I'm sorry about this, but you guys are gonna need to come up huge. Do you have anything you can do?"
"We have a couple songs that sound like the Stones."
"Perfect! Everybody loves the Stones. Just get out there and do them. Maybe throw in a song called 'Get What You Need', which theoretically would sport a pilfered Kinks' guitar riff from 'All Day and All of the Night' and a bassline kidnapped from The Temptations' 'Get Ready'. If there's one thing Americans love, it is Rock-Motown. Just go give them some Stones, which they love, then a little honky-tonk piano because that's awesome, then close with some Rock-Motown."
"Oh my god, this is terrible. Jet! Come here. Stop playing. Listen, you guys are not going over at all. I can count the people out there on one fist. You better bail out quick."
"Dude, I don't understand. We sound like everyone's favorite old rock bands, we have insipid lyrics, we say 'Come On!' and 'Oh Yeah!' every five seconds, we have no discernable identity, and we're from Australia. What could people possibly dislike about us?"
"No idea, brah. Listen, why don't you do one more song, like about how DJs aren't actually musicians and you don't get how they pull tail."
"Oh, you mean 'Rollover DJ'? The one that goes, 'You've been playing other people's songs all night,' right?"
"Yes, that is exactly the song I'm talking about."
-Nick Sylvester, October 31, 2003
[Absolutely Kosher; 2003]
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Let me come out of the gate stating the obvious: The summer of 1996 was a fucking long time ago. I was fresh out of high school then, living with my parents in the outlying suburbs of Minneapolis, trying to craft an embryonic Pitchfork into something respectable without any prior writing experience. In the throes of that disgustingly humid, buggy summer in which it seemed I would one day die as I'd lived-- navigating the road construction obstacle course on Hwy 5 and despising an oppressive day job, yet forever hopeful of some distant, supernatural delivery-- Secaucus was sunwarmed bliss, the infinite pleasure zone I couldn't stop hitting.
Bursting immediately at its seams with the serrated dual guitar blast of "Yellow Number Three" and "Built in Girls"' steam-engine roar, Secaucus welcomes with a warm immediacy rare in even the most revered pop treasures, and a density whose every layer hides another secret synth melody, jagged hook or vocal harmony. The depth of realization in this record is unparalleled: every angle is perfected. Its surplus of pristine pop hooks and energetic discharge rivals the best of Built to Spill, Guided by Voices, Pavement, or any other heralded indie rock band, and tracks like the anthemic, accelerating "I've Made Enough Friends", the wistful malaise of "Won't Get Too Far", the hurtling "Surprise, Honeycomb", and the emotive high-school slowdance number "Jane Fakes a Hug" reveal proof in spades: Beyond their euphoric harmonies, melodic rapture, and marblemouthed vocals lie some of the greatest lyrics the genre's seen yet. Respectively, these songs contain tales of a nationwide murder rampage ("Being good made me burst/ The killing got worse/ It almost got fun"), a lovestruck abandonment of social lives ("A rush of wonder/ This charm we're under might last/ Are we too hoping/ Our years are showing and fast"), a hopeless high school graduate who fears he won't live up to his father's achievements ("I can't believe I'm grown/ None of my friends live at home/ Not since fall"), and the harrowing play-by-play of a brutal divorce ("Our oaths, our realty, a good job, a husband/ A husband or what/ Christ, Jane, I'm not/ I never was").
But as long ago as all of that was for me, for The Wrens, it's been an eternity. The band always made themselves accessible via Internet, and as the years passed, I would frequently email to wonder when a follow-up was due-- and even as I knew they had respectable careers and families, I didn't expect it would take seven years to see release. I also hadn't known that, at the height of their 1996 U.S. tour, all promotion for Secaucus was, allegedly, pulled in a huff by Grass Records labelhead Alan Melzter when the band dared question a million-dollar contract he'd tried to strongarm them into signing. It was just another in a long string of sloppy breakups that would eventually sour the band on the music industry. After endless reassurances that their third album would be out "in a few months, we promise," hope began to fade that the record would ever see light of day at all. Then came word that they had actually finished the record, and-- to celebrate and prevent them from further second-guessing-- were holding a party to destroy the master tapes.
The package finally arrived from the band themselves: an advance, unmastered CD-R labeled The Meadowlands with makeshift artwork and tentative song titles. Excitedly, I threw it into the car stereo, and waited. Waiting. Waiting. What the fuck happened to these guys? It had been seven years, sure-- no one was expecting anything as powerful as Secaucus from middle-agers, but to say The Wrens had mellowed would almost be a joke: There was little trace of the youthful, resonant joy or ecstatic intensity of Secaucus. This was a completely different band. These Wrens were defeated, miserable, hopeless, and-- in their own words-- exhausted.
Disappointed, I shelved the disc and stubbornly refused to listen to the final pressing, even after it arrived at the Pitchfork P.O. box loving wrapped in Tiffany-blue ribbon and paper. Which was about when everyone I knew began raving. People were stunned at my reaction: Surely we'd just heard different albums? And we had, but upon finally listening to the finished version after heavy persuasion from friends, it began to make more sense. This was a completely different band, defeated, miserable, and exhausted, absolutely, but not hopeless. Defying the unwritten rule that any band breaking a five-plus year hiatus must return lethargic and sapped of inspiration before retreating again to obscurity, here The Wrens prove themselves even more shockingly relevant than before-- they have survived extinction, and, fully inspired, they are telling the tale: The Meadowlands is a crushing confessional, documenting every disappointment of the past seven years, every difficult breakup, every bad gig.
If The Wrens were lyrically powerful when writing from third-person perspectives about trivial fantasies on Secaucus, they're devastating delivering their own personal failures, hardships and resignations. The breakup tracks are the least of it, and even those are masochistically autobiographical with recurring characters and story arcs bridging songs. "She Sends Kisses" opens on an acoustic strum and reflective accordion, increasingly piling on layers of instrumentation (electric guitar, drums, piano, vocal harmonies) while Charles Bissell reflectively croons, "A sophomore at Brown/ She worked lost and found/ I put your face on her all year." "Ex-Girl Collection" is upbeat on the surface and conflict beneath: "Ann slams in/ Another lightning round begins.../ 'Charles, I found out/ Wipe that smile off your mouth/ I think it's tell-me time.'" "13 Months in 6 Minutes" is somber and damp-eyed, dewy guitars drenched in wet reverb and whispered vocals at the end of a relationship: "I'm a footnote at best/ I envy who comes next."
But the first-hand accounts of the band's own struggles are what really hit hard, particularly for listeners who've waited the full seven years or who have intimate familiarity with similar situations. "Everyone Choose Sides"-- backed by crusty guitar fighting determinedly through tape falloff, electric piano, and Jerry MacDonnell's insistent, urgent drumming-- is a notable album peak: "Bored and rural-poor at 35/ I'm the best 17-year-old ever.../ We're losing sand/ A Wrens' ditch battle plan.../ Everyone choose sides/ The whole to-do of what to do for money/ Poorer or not this year and hell's the difference." And then there's "This Boy Is Exhausted", which blends the record's brightest hooks with its bleakest lines: Over two layers of blaring guitars (one pulsing, the other jangling), more of MacDonnell's colossal drumwork, and resolute background vocals, Bissell's hardened vocal buzzes: "I can't write what I know/ It's not worth writing/ I can't tell a hit from hell from one sing-along.../ But then once a while/ We'll play a show that makes it worthwhile."
The Wrens are now old enough to be considered indie rock's elder statesmen (their ages range from 33 to 40), and in trading the adolescent kick of Secaucus for ripened resignation, meticulous refinement for crippling maturation, they have realized their magnum opus-- the only album to eclipse Broken Social Scene's staggering You Forgot It in People on my year-end list. The Meadowlands exemplifies what every fan hopes for when a band announces a reunion or returns from more than a half-decade of silence: that they might have somehow improved exponentially each year they hid from the limelight, resulting in a payoff so cultivated it could be called their defining achievement by consensus. It's the reason we continue to harbor mixed feelings about a Pixies comeback: odds are, it ends in disappointment-- it always does-- but The Meadowlands is that one example left standing to offer a glimmer of hope. Black Francis, tomorrow this could be you.
-Ryan Schreiber, September 30, 2003
Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:27 PM
Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:29 PM
TOO LATE TO DIE YOUNG by DEPARTURE LOUNGE
The world's youngest and undoubtedly smartest rock critic guides us through his current fave record. He prefers to be told the song title after he listens to the track. Dylan Gershon/Los Angeles, CA. USA, Age 5. Dylan has recently reviewed Mobilize by Grant Lee Phillips for grantleephillips.com
Straight Line To The Kerb:
"This sounds like a baby shark waking up. He wakes up and says, don’t try this at home."
What You Have Is Good:
"I have to listen to this one more times. My brain is saying it's amazing, like a flying car."
King Kong Frown:
"This is a bunch of music. There's lots of guys playing this music at the museum and it's interesting. It feels like I'm doing karate." Dylan will show you his king kong frown upon request.
I Love You:
"This sounds like I’m dancing with Georgia (Dylan’s girlfriend). Just us and it's good. (Dylan runs out of the room and returns holding a photograph of Georgia. He becomes very emotional and says): I wish she was with me right now. I miss her."
Alone Again And...:
"I'm floating in water slowly and I'm awake and I'm hearing weird noises. It's good."
Tubular Belgians in my Goldfield:
"It sounds like I'm on the beach and I'm lying down. I'm being hypnotized. I felt it in my heart."
Be Good To Yourself:
"This is hip music (Dylan swings his hips). You jump with your legs, that's how you do it. This song is about man things, not girl things."
Over The Side:
"This sounds like Japanese music, like I’m in the garden and birds are flying around."
Coke & Flakes:
"It feels like I want to dance (and so he does. He also begins to play air saxophone). Really good guitar. I really like the music on this one."
"This is another peaceful one. It's so nice, just try it. It sounds like all around the world it's peaceful."
Animals on my Mind:
"In my heart, it feels like we're hugging all day. It's perfect."
The record ends and Dylan takes a moment to think about his listening experience and is moved to say:
"I really like Tim's voice and these songs. It's so complicated."
Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:32 PM
Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:35 PM
Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:47 PM
I don't have a specific review, but before Kot was at the Trib, there was this female critic, Brenda You (Herrmann) who reviewed tons of metal shows. She was a true metal fan, and it was always awesome to pick up a conservative rag like the tribune and find reviews of Cannibal Corpse and the like. I don't know how she squeezed so many metal reviews by her editor.
Anyway, I was just looking her up to see if I could pull some old reviews (I could, but I'd have to pay...so sorry somb) and I found out that she died at the age of 38 according to imdb! I got really sad because I'd read her stuff religiously (my mom subscribed to the Trib). I couldn't find anything else out, not even an obit in the Trib. If anyone else has any other info, I'd be curious to know what happened.
Not too much out there on this but she committed suicide, Nov 05.
Celeb Reporter Brenda You Found Dead
Brenda You, formerly the West Coast bureau chief for Star magazine, committed suicide in Los Angeles Sunday night, the Los Angeles County Coroner has confirmed to Gawker.
Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:53 PM
Rolling Stone interview with U2, Feb. 18, 1981
Here I am, an American writer, dining with an Irish band in a Greek restaurant in the heart of England. Strange? Well, so is the scene that's unfolding in front of me. A few feet away, two musicians are seated on a platform. One is playing bouzouki, a stringed instrument similar to a mandolin, while the other, a heavy-set fellow in black suit and dark glasses who looks remarkably like the Godfather, is hammering away at a small electric keyboard with built-in rhythm machine. In front of them, approving patrons toss plate after ceramic plate to the floor, where they shatter at the feet of U2's Bono Vox, who is demonstrating that a rock singer from Ireland can be quite a lively dancer. Though this seems like some sort of international celebration, it's only another preshow dinner for U2. The band, which has been touring Britain nonstop since the release of its debut album, Boy, in mid-October, has garnered more than the usual amount of attention -- thanks in part to an overzealous English music press. Since early last year, the media have been touting U2 -- vocalist Vox, drummer Larry Mullen, guitarist "the Edge" and bassist Adam Clayton -- as the Next Big Thing. If all the publicity weren't enough, Island Records President Chris Blackwell proclaimed the group the label's most important signing since King Crimson.
In concert, the loquacious Bono tries to play down all the hype -- he regularly tells audiences to "forget all that stuff you may have read and make up your own minds" -- but privately he concurs with the press. "I don't mean to sound arrogant," he tells me after the dancing has died down, "but even at this stage, I do feel that we are meant to be one of the great groups. There's a certain spark, a certain chemistry, that was special about the Stones, the Who and the Beatles, and I think it's also special about U2."
A mighty boast, to be sure. But Boy, scheduled for a late-January U.S. release, does indicate that U2 is a band to be reckoned with. Their highly original sound can perhaps be best described as pop music with brains. It's accessible and melodic, combining the dreamy, atmospheric qualities of a band like Television, with a hard-rock edge not unlike the Who's. In particular, Edge's guitar playing and Bono's singing stand out; the lyrical guitar lines slice through every song, while the vocals are rugged, urgent and heartfelt.
The title Boy is appropriate and significant: not only are the band members young -- Bono and Adam are twenty, Larry and Edge nineteen -- but the bulk of their songs deal with the dreams and frustrations of childhood. "We're playing to an audience in Britain that ranges in age from seventeen to twenty-five," Bono explains. "There is massive unemployment, and there is real disillusionment. U2's music is about getting up and doing something about it."
But wasn't that also the aim of punk? "The idea of punk at first was, 'Look, you're an individual, express yourself how you want, do what you want to do,'" Bono says. "But that's not the way it came out in the end. The Sex Pistols were a con, a box of tricks sold by Malcolm McLaren. Kids were sold the imagery of violence, which turned into the reality of violence, and it's that negative side that I worry about. People like Bruce Springsteen carry hope. Like the Who -- 'Won't Get Fooled Again.' I mean, there is a song of endurance, and that's the attitude of great bands. We want our audience to think about their actions and where they are going, to realize the pressures that are on them, but at the same time, not to give up."
Part of U2's attitude comes from the fact that they are, as Bono puts it, "appreciative of our background." The group formed in 1978 at an experimental school in Dublin. "It was multidenominational," he explains, "which, in terms of Dublin and Ireland, is quite unique. It was also coeducational, which was unusual too. We were given freedom, and when you're given freedom, you don't rebel by getting drunk."
That message comes across again when the group headlines a show at London's Marquee club a few days later. After a rousing forty-five minute set, the band returns to the stage for an encore. But before launching into another song, Bono makes a short speech about the little boy pictured on the British version of U2's LP. "Some people have been asking about the boy on the cover of the album," he says. "Well, he happens to be a kid who lives across the street from me. We put him on the cover 'cause he's a pretty smart kid. And sometimes I wonder what his future will be like -- and I wonder about ours."
At this point, U2's future looks bright. The band has managed to deal level-headedly with its sudden popularity in the U.K. In addition, they've shunned traditional rock and roll pitfalls as booze and drugs. Finally, the band is willing to work. A three-month U.S. trek will begin in March, and Bono is, as usual, confident about the band's chances in the States. "Right now, the word is 'go!' for U2," he says. "It is my ambition to travel to America and give it what I consider it wants and needs."
Someone should teach those kids to fish.
Posted 23 May 2008 - 01:00 PM
Not too much out there on this but she committed suicide, Nov 05.
Celeb Reporter Brenda You Found Dead
Brenda You, formerly the West Coast bureau chief for Star magazine, committed suicide in Los Angeles Sunday night, the Los Angeles County Coroner has confirmed to Gawker.
Thanks for digging that up. Very sad.