Monthly Archives: February 2009

Ladyhawke – My Delirium

I have not been feeling myself this week (allergies).  I’ll get back to writing actual content soon.  It’s the weekend, so let’s head out on the highway.  The phenylephrine highway.

Chris

Review: Morrissey “Years of Refusal”

Years of Refusal

“I’m doing very well.”

Morrissey opens up his latest solo album, Years of Refusal, with a strangely optimistic start. However, optimistic isn’t really the correct word to describe anything Morrissey related, is it? Also, that song (“Something is Squeezing My Skull”) is about being unable to feel alive in the age of prescription drugs.

Okay, so the old dog (sorry Moz) hasn’t really learned a new trick. However, he changes up his style just enough on Years to make you realize that maybe he doesn’t have to. This is probably Morrissey’s loudest album to date. At age 49, The Pope of Mope gives us a real rock album. And it’s a welcome addition to an already stunning catalogue.

Morrissey’s band, The Tormentors, are in full strength here. Boz’s guitar faintly mirrors some Smiths/Viva Hate era songwriting on songs like (personal favorite) “Mama Lay Softly on the Riverbed” and “All You Need is Me,” while the rest of the band provides enough sonics and energy to match.

And Moz himself still puts as much finesse into his voice and lyrics as his hairdo. He croons wonderfully on the first single “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris,” and on “That’s How People Grow Up.” He even goes into diva mode for the last half of “It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore.”

He’s had a pretty good run in the new millennia thus far, but every one of those albums has a song or two that are just……there. This is no different with Years. The guilty parties here are “You Were Good in Your Time,” and, depending on the day it seems, “Sorry Doesn’t Help.” His voice goes a little flat on “You Were Good…” and both songs really feel like fillers: unnecessary and unwanted.

That said, the song immediately following those two (the album’s closer), is the probably the strongest Morrissey cut in a decade. That’s right, “I’m OK By Myself” kicks copious amounts of arse. Moz’s voice is playful, angry, and unobtainable. It’s a perfect storm that already leaves me dreaming about his next album.

While this album may not convert anyone who doesn’t already adore the benevolent Suedehead, it does reaffirm why we need him around still.

And like the back of the LP says: Play Very Loud

-Chase

Jane’s Addiction – “Ted, Just Admit It” (Live)

I’m not going to pretend I’m not excited about a fully reunited Jane’s Addiction touring with Nine Inch Nails this summer.   I think I can put up with Dave Navarro long enough for that.

Live in Echo Park, Feb. 16:

Dead Prez – “Hell Yeah”

Chris

Five Black Lashes

Five black lashes

on a face lapped by rivers;

Hands that have coupled in prayer

and held sin as acorns.

 

Flowers grow in the most foolish soil,

under windows shuttered like dead

lungs.

 

Five black lashes

on a face bitter to logic,

tap-danced to dull marble.

 

Chris

 

 

By the Time I Get to Phoenix

By now everyone has seen Joaquin’s clusterfuck of a meltdown/Crispin Gloverimpersonation on David Letterman.  Personally, I still think it’s all an act, and as briefly entertaining as that act may be, nothing comes close to the life of Harmony Korine.

Korine, creator of such family classics as Kids, Gummo, Julien Donkey-Boy, and Mister Lonely, has been doing this since 1973.  He’s the kind of guy who choosesto hang out with Werner Herzog and write movies about adolescents smoking crack.  And raping each other.  And drowning cats.  And, you know, Disney stuff.  So until Spiritualized starts writing songs called Joaquin 4, I need more awesome proof of his perpetual meltdown.

Here’s Harmony’s second appearance on Letterman (yeah, second):

The best way to watch Kids is with a handful of anti-depressants.  Or on Valentine’s Day (you’ll have to wait until next year).

Chris

Public Image Ltd. – “Careering”

Chris

New Music: U2 “No Line on the Horizon”

aae

 

U2 is currently streaming their new album, “No Line on the Horizon”, on MySpace.  I put aside my hatred of all things Bono long enough to give it a (relatively) open-minded listen last night.  While doing so, I wrote down my thoughts.  Now I’m posting those thoughts.  One, two, three, fourteen!  Here we blow!

 

“No Line on the Horizon”

Pretty awful lyrics, which is kind of a given at this point in Bono’s career.  Something about a girl being like the sea and her brain/boobs/vagina sounding like a seashell.  Or whatever.  There’s one part where The Edge totally cops Jonny Greenwood’s style, which is weird.  The Edge is one of the more distinctive guitarists in pop music, so I don’t see the reasoning behind that.  Not a terrible tune, but now that it’s over I’ve already forgotten what it sounded like. 

 

“Magnificent”

The intro sounds pretty great, and fortunately Bono dials down the histrionics just a bit.  You can imagine Eno shouting: “Pretend you’re just a cardinal instead of the friggin’ Pope!”  That is, if Brian Eno were from the Bronx.  This is actually one of the better U2 songs I’ve heard in a long time. 

 

“Moment of Surrender”

The intro sounds like Coldplay.  And then Bono’s “Rattle and Hum” B.B. King duet voice comes in.  Then it starts sounding like adult contemporary Christian rock.  “I was pushing in the numbers at the ATM machine / I could see in the reflection a face staring back at me.” Really?  Does Bono come up with his lyrics Lil’ Wayne style?  The Edge then phones in the laziest slide guitar solo of all time.  This goes on for over seven minutes (the song, not the solo), which seems like a good way to kill the album’s momentum.

 

“Unknown Caller”

Incredibly lethargic.  Like, who put Xanax in their wine?  I don’t know what to think about the group robot chant.  Nothing?  Ok…nothing.  And then there is another lazy guitar solo.  Overall pretty bland.

 

“I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight”

At least this is a bit jauntier.  The lyrics are still pretty terrible.  I almost like the chorus, but the instrumentation sounds too “How to Dismantle” to me.  I’m hoping the title was written by Yogi Berra.

 

“Get on Your Boots”

Every man, woman, and child on the planet has been subjected to this already.  I think it sounds like DC Talk covering “We Didn’t Start the Fire”.  If DC Talk were retarded and Billy Joel’s first language wasn’t English.  The over-processed guitar sounds like a grunge band trying to go electronica, circa 1998.  Or U2, circa “Pop”.

 

“Stand Up Comedy”

I was almost hoping this was a skit.  Instead we get: “Come on ye(!?) people, stand up for your love!”  He kind of makes fun of himself with the line about being wary of a small man with big ideas.  Which would be sufficiently self-deprecating if I didn’t think Bono has been unintentionally making fun of himself for nearly 20 years.  The Fly is still buzzing around.

 

“FEZ-Being Born”

I thought it was PEZ at first.  But I guess there isn’t a PEZ, Morocco.  The high register keyboard is a little cheesy, but the rest of the song is actually not too bad.  If the album were more like “Magnificent” and this song, it might be fairly palatable.

 

“White as Snow”

A slow song with a subtle arrangement.  I guess it’s copping the melody of “O Come O Come Emmanuel”.  Why?  Because they’re fuckin’ U2 and if they want to redo a Christmas song on an album that comes out two months AFTER Christmas they will.  Not brilliant, but seems like it could be a grower.

 

“Breathe”

I’m not sure there needed to be another song in the world titled “Breathe”, but at least this isn’t U2 covering Prodigy.  Or Faith Hill.  Or U2 doing the Faith Hill song in a Prodigy style.  Wait…maybe that would be genius.  Starts out pretty strong.  I’m not sure about Bono’s beat poet first verse, but the chorus isn’t too bad.  I’m having a tough time deciding if the second half of the album is really this strong or it’s just in comparison to Side A.  I don’t know why, but I like the part when everything drops out and the cello comes back in like it just got off the “Magical Mystery Tour”.

 

“Cedars of Lebanon”

Another dialed-back song.  A much better album closer than “Yahweh”, which is like saying an orgasm is a better way to end sex than getting your dick chopped off. 

 

“Get On Your Boots” Live at the Brit Awards:

 

 

Chris

Jonathan Richman – I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar

Live on Conan, 1992:

Chris

Review: Beirut “March of the Zapotec & Realpeople-Holland” EP

Fire up your hookahs and espresso maker-Beirut has unleashed another one upon us.

Zach Condon is about as restless as Tyra Banks (clip)……sorry, I’ll never compare those two again.

That was supposed to be a statement about Zach’s neverending need to travel. For this split EP, Zach traveled to Mexico, and used a 19 piece local band to record these new songs with. I’m just glad the Patriot Act has slowed this guy’s passport down any, because if that were they case, your ear would not be able to enjoy March of the Zapotec

And enjoy it you will. The six new songs (with only three clocking in over 3 mins) are just a reminder how much you love to hear this man sing about amazing places you’ll never get to go. The single, “La Llorona,” is a wonderfully crafted song, on par with the best off of The Flying Club Cup. The disc’s closer, “The Shrew” is possibly one of the best Beirut songs ever cut, granted you can ever get “Postcards From Italy” or “The Penalty” out of your head.

So, once your friends slap you and make you take the first disc out, the Realpeople-Holland awaits you…….more or less.

Realpeople is Zach’s pre-Beirut handle. It’s basically an electro version of Beirut…but somehow it doesn’t sound nearly as good. It basically sounds like a bad producer took some Beirut vocal tracks and slapped them down over a tacky Garageband preset. I mean, “No Dice” sounds like an overdrawn, muddy version of “A Sunday Smile.” And unfortunately, this half of the EP is about double the length of the stellar first.

One or two of these tracks may grow on you. I’ve come around to finding “The Concubine” was the bridge between Realpeople and the expansion that became Beirut, and I now enjoy it’s existence.

That said, March of the Zapotec is just another prime example of why we love Beirut, and only makes future vicarious visits to stange lands with Zach even more tantalizing.

-Chase-