||[Jul. 1st, 2007|05:21 pm]
we want the airwaves back
hi! so i could probably think of some excuses for never writing anything but i'm not going to. my friend adam sweeney wrote some reviews. i will paste them in below. |
COULD WHOEVER UPLOADS THEM: put them a few dates apart - so it looks like the website is getting regular updates? because adam and i want to go to green man and don't want to pay for it, so it would be super money-savingly sweet if it appeared as if there were regular updates. more reviews will be forthcoming, perhaps from myself too. i am going to new york for a couple of weeks so it might not be until then. cheers!
QOTSA – Era Vulgaris
Ah, come on now. This is just bloody lazy. I mean I could put that last album down to an obvious abuse of record company funds and not enough songwriting time due to Josh boning that girl from the Dixie Chicks or whoever she was. The Distillers, that was it. But I mean, this is very similarly paper-thin, unballsy schmaltz to “Lullabies”. Eh….I guess there are some fairly good songs on here. “Sick, sick, sick” is good. I can see they tried; but ultimately, not a single thing on this album is above mediocre. The Rated R days are gone, never to return.
I need to stop this sick-puppy QOTSA thing I have where I look forward to each album as the return to form, and just consign them once and for all to the ‘Had it-Lost it’ shelf. That way if they ever do suddenly start making good albums again, I can be all like “Yeah I knew they had it in ‘em! That’s my boy Josh!!” etc.
But really, we all just want a Kyuss reunion….right? Anyone with me on that one?
Love of Diagrams – Mosaic
The debut album from Australia’s Love of Diagrams, on Matador. They sound like an oh-so-sweetly-twee band. But puke ye not! For they are no such.
LoD sound a lot like Sonic Youth with the more primal adirectional trash stripped away; and in the more rhythmic sections, like Gang of Four or Wire. I shit you not. They keep it stone hard and urgent and damned sweaty. Which, I’m sure even the oh-so sweetly-twee among you will agree, is cracking.
To quote the band themselves “Things sound better at 100%” and that’s actually a most apt way to describe this album – relentless high energy throughout these primarily instrumental, almost careless electric dirge songs, laden with squealing feedback and circling girlish vocals. It’s very summer frolicks - makes you want to throw foolishly large parties where all your drunken friends cop off with one another like sweaty hormonal teenagers on the floor, you stick this on, and regard the scene with vague disgust and juvenile giddiness. In fact this album would probably provoke that kind of impulsivity, for a full 39.7 minutes. If that doesn’t make you get it, I guess nothing will.
The snatches of lyrics, phrased nonchalant over the fatness of the sound, enhance each song. There is an expert blend of discordance, low female vocals half-heartedly whined, insistent drums and such mammoth bass dirge to make this a vital teenage riot. I’m not gonna go into it too much, because essentially there’s a lot of Sonic Youth influence in here, and they are part of the whole 80s revival; but thankfully, they’re a non-generic, genuinely good bit. This album won’t change your life, but it’ll make for a super-duper party.
Ted Leo and The Pharmacists – Living with the Living
Ted and pals are currently embarking on a HUGE tour to brandish this new album, their fifth full-length album on Touch and Go, and probably their most polished release to date – so much so, its practically shiny.
It’s a pretty political album. Ok. Don’t let that colour every word written from here on in. The politics isn’t rammed down your throat – there’s no yobbin’ and gobbin’ to invade the genuine songs on here. This is bright punk, punk in spirit and not in aesthetic. The lyrics, thankfully, have more subtlety and thought than to haphazardly brand an entire nation “idiot”. Rather, they profess honesty and self-reliance, in an age where The Doubters lurk round every corner. Or some shit.
One of the great strengths of this record is its diversity. Yes, I did put it in the Punk Pile, but that’s more to do with the undercurrent that invigorates every tune, and Monsieur Leo’s very human lyrics. This record incorporates folk influences (“Bottle of Buckie”) as well as soulful balladry (“Toro and the Toreador”). On certain songs these influences are more focused than others – for example, “The Unwanted Things” being a kind of abortive attempt at whiteman reggae – but on repeated listens these influences can frequently be detected, threaded throughout the record. The downside of this of course is that Ted Leo ends up treading a wavering path between broad experimentation channelled through one very musical man’s vision; and viciously cacking up the whole mixture in the style of those “experimental” pop crooners. Ugh. This occasionally results in the highly caustic experience of your ears utterly rejecting a particular song. It does seem that there are some tunes on here which could’ve done with a little more creative elbow grease – they tend to come out sounding like crappy filler.
Which is a damn shame, as every single song on here is as infectious as a Mexican hospital. “The Sons of Cain”, “Army Bound” and “La Costa Brava” are probably some of the bestest ditties I have heard of late, especially the latter. “Bomb.Repeat.Bomb”, the song providing most evidence of Brendan “Fugazi” Canty’s involvement as producer, is great. Even the filler-esque songs are really hummable. It’s just that there seems to be no real unity across this album, which makes it almost a difficult listen. The chopping and changing is stimulating but not absorbing (if that makes any sense). And the occasional piece-of-shit-track really distracts from the better songs.
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists are a boon to American punk, and American music in general. Ted bravely walks a tightrope betwixt pop-punk and good-punk, which can (sometimes) result in these spasms of cheesiness. You will skip tracks. Don’t feel bad, it’s OK. Just promise me this - make sure you dig out the good stuff, cos it’s gold.
A strong album; an example for genre peers. But depending on your mood this can be self-indulgent guff, or a genius bending the borders of American music. It’s hard to tell which.