Daily Archives: February 20, 2009

New Music: U2 “No Line on the Horizon”

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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

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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-