Spring 2006 Record Reviews

Spring 2006 Review Roundup

This week on Sound Opinions: Review-a-Palooza. Jim and Greg will look at some of the best and worst albums to be released this Spring including the new releases from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Morrissey, The Secret Machines and Ghostface Killah.

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reviewTen Silver DropsTen Silver Drops available on iTunes

The Secret Machines Ten Silver Drops

The first album up for review is Ten Silver Drops by The Secret Machines. This is the second album by the psychedelic Dallas band (now based in Brooklyn). Their previous release, Now Here is Nowhere, earned quite a bit of praise and won them some impressive fans. In fact, Bob Ezrin, who produced Pink Floyd's The Wall, even offered to handle Ten Silver Drops. The band decided to go it alone, however, and Jim and Greg manage to agree on the results. For them the album is full of strong melodies, surprising harmonies, and Josh Garza's signature seismic drumming. Both critics believe they may have surpassed their debut album and give this go-around a Buy It rating.

JimGreg
reviewRingleader of the Tormentors

Morrissey Ringleader of the Tormentors

Mythical. Mopey. Maudlin. Just some of the words used to describe that other Irish pop GodMorrissey. But after listening to his new album Ringleader of the Tormentors, you might have to add lustful to the mix. Morrissey has been famously celibate for a number of years, and that torment served him well. But now he not only admits to sexual trysts in Rome, but makes his own proclivities less ambiguous than in the past. The result gets a Burn It rating from both hosts, but for very different reasons. Jim finds Morrissey's lyrics as biting as ever, but is not impressed with his sonic decisions. Greg, on the other hand, believes a miserable Morrissey is a better Morrissey, but really appreciates the music, which was produced by former Bowie and T. Rex collaborator Tony Visconti.

JimGreg
reviewShow Your BonesShow Your Bones available on iTunes

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Show Your Bones

Next up is Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This Brooklyn trio has released Show Your Bones, the highly anticipated follow-up to their debut, Fever to Tell. That successful album produced a hit single, "Maps," and made the band one of the poster children for the new-garage (or new-new wave) scene in New York City. Jim is always skeptical of this scene and of hype in general, but really liked Show Your Bones. He's not sure what lead singer Karen O is singing about, but loves her energy, which channels a combination of Siouxsie Sioux and Chrissie Hynde. Guitar wizard Nick Zinner is also back in top form. Therefore it's a Buy It for Jim. Greg, however, can only give this disc, which was produced by hip hop producer Squeak-E-Clean, a Burn It rating. He thinks there are a number of great tracks, but the songwriting just isn't there.

JimGreg
reviewBitter TeaBitter Tea available on iTunes

The Fiery Furnaces Bitter Tea

The critical discussion really starts to get good with this next album. Oak Park natives Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger, otherwise known as The Fiery Furnaces, have just released their fifth full album, Bitter Tea, and our hosts could not disagree more. Jim has never been a huge fan of this sister and brother team, but this album just irritates the heck out of him. He finds it pointlessly eclectic, pretentious and basically unlistenable. Greg argues that Jim simply has the attention span of an ant. He loves Bitter Tea, and asks listeners to take their time with this one. Greg points to Eleanor's terrific Patti Smith-like vocals and Matthew's inventive, theatrical songwriting. It's a Trash It for Jim, but a Buy It for Greg.

JimGreg
reviewFishscaleFishscale available on iTunes

Ghostface Killah Fishscale

Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah also has a new album out. Fishscale is the fifth solo record for this hip hop veteran, who joined the Wu-Tang Clan over a decade ago. Ghostface has always been known as a complicated, skilled lyricist, and he lives up to his reputation on this release. Fishscale, itself a slang term for uncut cocaine, gives a narrative of life on the streets in New York. These stories are paired with samples and beats from producers like Jay Dilla, Pete Rock and Just Blaze. Listen to the sample of a blaxsploitation-style education film in the track we play, "Kilo." Incidentally, this is the first Ghostface solo album without any production from fellow Clansman RZA. Whether or not that bodes in Ghostface's favor is up to our hosts. Jim believes gangsta rap and songs about drug dealing are pretty played out, but admits that Ghostface brings something completely new. He compares the rapper to writer Jim Thompson and gives Fishscale a Burn It. Greg has to go with a Buy It rating. He is compelled by the stories of Ghostface's childhood, the surreal rap tangents and the immense hooks. According to Greg, this record parallels early NWA records and is not only one of the best albums of Ghostface's career, but of 2006.

JimGreg
reviewI'm Not DeadI'm Not Dead available on iTunes

Pink I'm Not Dead

Pink has the final album up for review during this week's show. I'm Not Dead is this pop riot grrrl's fourth album. Jim has always been a fan — while other pop starlets are not necessarily the best role models, Pink has always promoted feminism and independence. On her first single, "Stupid Girls," Pink basically satirizes the behavior of her peers, and Jim and Greg both think it's a pretty smart pop song. The rest of the album falls short, however. Pink is a great role model, but on this record, not necessarily a great songwriter. Both hosts believe that the record is sad and leaden and that Pink is taking herself much too seriously. I'm Not Dead gets a double "Trash It."

JimGreg

Featured Songs

  1. The Secret Machines,“I Hate Pretending,”Ten Silver Drops, 2006
  2. The Secret Machines,“Faded Lines,”Ten Silver Drops, 2006
  3. Morrissey,“At Last I Am Born,”Ringleader of the Tormentors, 2006
  4. Morrissey,“Dear God Please Help Me,”Ringleader of the Tormentors, 2006
  5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs,“Dudley,”Show Your Bones, 2006
  6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs,“Gold Lion,”Show Your Bones, 2006
  7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs,“Cheated Hearts,”Show Your Bones, 2006
  8. The Fiery Furnaces,“I'm In No Mood,”Bitter Tea, 2006
  9. The Fiery Furnaces,“Benton Harbor Blues,”Bitter Tea, 2006
  10. Ghostface Killah,“Back Like That,”Fishscale 2006
  11. Ghostface Killah,“9 milli bros,”Fishscale 2006
  12. Ghostface Killah,“Underwater,”Fishscale 2006
  13. Ghostface Killah,“Kilo,”Fishscale 2006
  14. Pink,“Stupid Girls,”I'm Not Dead, 2006
  15. Pink,“Dear Mr. President,”I'm Not Dead, 2006
  16. Pink,“Conversations With My 13 Year Old Self,”I'm Not Dead, 2006

Footnotes

amazon.com Buy ‘Ten Silver Drops’ thesecretmachines.com The Secret Machines' homepage metacritic.com Now Here is Nowhere morrisseymusic.com Morrissey's homepage davidbowie.com Bowie's homepage allmusic.com T-Rex allmusic.com Tony Visconti yeahyeahyeahs.com Yeah Yeah Yeahs' homepage amazon.com Buy ‘Show Your Bones’ metacritic.com Fever to Tell vamp.org Siouxsie Sioux's homepage freewilliamsburg.com Interview with Nick Zinner squeakeclean.com Squeak E Clean productions thefieryfurnaces.com The Fiery Furnaces' homepage wutangcorp.com Wu-Tang Clan's homepage metacritic.com Fishscale allmusic.com Jay Dilla wikipedia.org Just Blaze allmusic.com Ghostface Killah's first solo album wikipedia.org RZA randomhouse.com Jim Thompson's books allmusic.com NWA pinkspage.com Pink amazon.com Buy ‘I’m Not Dead' youtube.com Pink's“Stupid Girls”vidoe