Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tuesday Worship Service

Back to the music... Here's the quickie: Nick Cave's Grinderman project is okay at first listen. It's not the greasier, sleazier and grungier garage rock album you'd hoped, but it's Nick Cave nonetheless. Kings of Leon's "Beacuse of the Times" still sucks ass (except for "Knocked Up," which is listenable). I downloaded two songs off Brother Ali's new album, "The Undisputed Truth." Five letters: S - O - L - I - D. It's soulful, thought-provoking rap done right by his seemingly lazy, raspy voice. At times, he sounds like Everlast. At other times, his generous use of "lawdy-lawd" ("lordy-lord") makes him sound like a church minister. "Uncle Sam Goddamn" and "Pedigree" leave you begging for more. Downloading the rest of the album, as I type! (Note: iTunes must be reading this blog or at the very least had me in mind: they put a new tool that allows you to complete an album sale at a discounted price, should you download a couple of tracks and then kick yourself in the ass for not getting the whole album and paying song for song, instead of the standard $9.99--see blog entry about Brandi Carlile's new album.)

Still pissed at Modest Mouse for pissing away a golden, thick, frothy opportunity to use one of the most recognizable guitars of all times: ex-Smith Johnny Marr's. But even putting aside my obvious infatuation with los Smiths, Morrissey and all things mope, the album is still "eh."

The Onion nails it with their review on Bright Eyes' "Cassadaga": "But it's ["Cassadaga"] already been outclassed by last month's "Four Winds" EP, which matches one of "Cassadaga's" best songs with five tracks arguably better than anything on the album." True that--saddly.

Virginia Tech Massacre

What could I say that hasn't already been said by CNN, MSNBC, Fox News--over and over and over and over? The thing that gets me is that this seems to be an American problem. It seems at least once every few years some crazy son of a bitch snaps and takes as many people as he can down with him. If it's not some crazy kid shooting classmates from elementary school to college, it's some whack-job who takes his lack of getting some, mediocre existence and takes it out on his co-workers. Whatever the case, you just don't hear this type of thing happing with the same oomph and frequency as you do here. I'm positive it has most to do with the availability of guns. We Americans--sadly--are the most gun-slingin' cowboys on this earth. I guarantee if you researched the amount of times a gun came in handy (i.e. to scare off an intruder or thief) in a given year against the times a gun enabled an unprecedented tragedy, the evidence would be staggering. The possibility of Ted Nugent's stupid ass accidentally shooting a grandchild or his grandchild accidentally shooting himself is much, much, much more probable than Nugent saving his family from a would-be assailant.

Everytime a tragedy like this happens, folks briefly talk about guns, but quickly move onto parenting, pop culture and society. I'm proud to be an American and I'm proud that our Constitution and Bill of Rights--except in minor instances--have proven timeless. But our right to guns needs updating. Back in revolutionary times and in the lawless west, it made sense. Now, all it does is enables the wrong people and provides a morbid form of entertainment to others. In this day an age, no one NEEDS a gun. If you worried about home security, invest in an alarm system. Apart from that, when else would you NEED a gun like you NEED your right to free speech or a speedy trial? The gun amendment just doesn't fit anymore. It's outdated and unnecessary. Forget about gun control laws, just get rid of it as an unalienable right.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Jarvis Cocker's Solo Album So-So

Jarvis Cocker's album is probably getting better reviews than it deserves, because it's Jarvis Cocker. If you want his best work, dig into Pulp. That's not to say that the album's a total dud. "Black Magic" has the velvety magnificance and tempo of "Crimson and Clover" and "Fat Children," not only displays Cocker's great sense of humour, but it's a catchy, rockin' track that could fit in with Pulp's greatest hits.

Monday, April 9, 2007

My Easter Present: Brandi Carlile

This Easter I was pleasantly surprised by a fantastic new album: Brandi Carlile's "The Story." Although the album came out a few weeks ago, I discovered her during the last couple of minutes of her performance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Although I was laying out on the couch with my wife--teetering between sleep and awakedness--her performance was compelling enough to open my eyes long enough to take note, get up and go to iTunes to download. Ahhh! The beauty of technology: no more list of CDs that I need to pick up at more and more scarce and sparse record stores.

I'm certain she sang her single, "The Story," on Leno. It's a beautiful composition with a sweet melody that starts off soft and mighty purdy, as she gracefully strums her guitar as though she were singing a newborn to sleep. She then roars into an impassioned, heavy electric guitar-backed howl that's a little reminiscent of Sheryl Crow's chorus on "If It Makes You Happy ." But don't worry, the comparison to Crow ends there.

I won't try to categorize her, but I will say she is what she eats--er listens to. Her influences are Radiohead, Jeff Buckley and Patsy Cline. And if you could imagine a musical child of these three, you have Carlile.

Her new album is her sophomore major label release and she's on the quick up and up. It's not too shabby when master producer T. Bone Burnett agrees to do your album. The result is phenomenal. I downloaded the single because it's just so good. Then, I started sampling the other songs hoping there would be a few other gems. As I started downloading one by one, I knew the inevitable would happen. I ended up paying almost $13 for downloading the album song by song, instead of downloading the album in one shot for $7.99. Please don't make the same mistake. As for me, it was the best $13 I've spent on a single CD since way back in the day of Tower Records. Ahhh, technology!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Tuesday is My Day of Worship

Tuesdays are my favorite. It's my day of worship--the day new albums hit the streets.

After being on their myspace page for the whole week, the Kings of Leon's new album, "Because of the Times," dropped today. The reviews continue to be all over the place. The Washington Post got it right in calling their debut "excellent," but then they blew it by calling the new album "the Kings' best." They're also a little off in referring to "Aha Shake Heartbreak" as "underwhelming." "Aha" wasn't on par with "Youth and Young Manhood," but it's still a solid follow-up. I'm curious to see what the music snobs at Pitchfork (www.pitchforkmedia.com) think. They've blasted everything the Kings have put out, except their first EP. Pitchfork tends to delve into some interesting musical territory, but unfortunately they tend to blast new music just for the hell of it or just to go against the grain. Good music is good music is good music, regardless of who likes it or how popular it gets. If you wanna a good laugh, check out Pitchfork's review of Jet's dartboard album, "Shine On."

Anyway, I'm really stoked about listening to Jarvis Cocker's new solo album, "Jarvis." He's the brains and broken pelvis (read his bio on answers.com) behind Pulp. Though not as well known stateside, Cocker is a beautiful mess and the tabloids adoration, before Pete Doherty rolled along. Not quite as debaucherous as Doherty, but as cantankerous as Oasis' dueling brothers, he's sheer entertainment on and off stage. He's as well remembered for his hit song, "Common People," as he is for crashing Michael Jackson's performance during the 1996 Brit Awards, where he performed in front of hundreds of children (if only Cocker would have busted up Jackson's shenanigans at his Neverland Ranch). Anyway, Reports state that Pulp is simply on hiatus.

Sidetracking a bit, I've been on a real Britpoprock binge lately: Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, etc. The binge started after working on a piece for New Jersey's Star-Ledger. I interviewed the Britpop rockers-by-way-of-Argentina, Babasonicos, for a story that unfortunately fell through. Ex-Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown even has a song named after them and during a recent show in Buenos Aires, Brown asked the hometown band to join him on stage. Must have been a riveting performance. Speaking of missing great performances, I really hope the Happy Mondays play at Virgin Fest in Baltimore (so far only The Police, Smashing Pumpkins and Beastie Boys have been confirmed), since I will not be making it to Coachella this year for their reunion show. Supposedly, they will also release a new album. Note to self: get home and upload all the Happy Mondays and Kula Shaker stuff onto my iPod and quench my music thirst.

Nick Cave's garage band side project Grinderman will come out next week. Waiting for this one, should keep me pumped until next week. Gotta go read Pitchfork's Jarvis Cocker and Nicke Cave/Grinderman interviews.