Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Good Charlotte -- Good Morning Revival

Many words come to mind when thinking of the band Good Charlotte. For most who listen to The ham on this sandwich is gold plated, AND I DON'T KNOW WHY!music at or above a tenth grade level, a few that come to mind are "terrible", "piss", "abortion", and the ubiquitous "worst". It seems like for every crazed fan, there are two even more zealous haters that go to extremes to show the band (and its fans) just how unwelcome their musical presence is. This was all too evident at the UK's ‘03 Reading Festival when the band was peppered with bottles on stage during their set. Four years later and the band’s still trying to recover (metaphorically) and pull a comeback of sorts. The band owned alternative rock radio back in ‘03 with "Life Styles of the Rich and Famous" and "Anthem" off their cleverly titled "The Young and the Hopeless". They became pop culture phenoms overnight, being routinely cattle prodded in award/talk show host punch lines (ie Chris Rock’sGood Charlotte? More like mediocre Green Day”). Since then, the band released The Chronicles of Life and Death in ‘04, to mixed reviews. The band clearly has had much of their buzz and attention of their fan base usurped by emo pop-punk upstarts My Chemical Romance and Fallout Boy.

As evidenced on their new release, "Good Morning Revival", the chaps appear to have been paying close attention to recent lectures by Associate Profs, Brandon Flowers/Justin Timberlake/Chris Martin. "Where Would We Be Now" Chris, how many good song will there be on the new album?features almost identical piano and drum beat found on Coldplay's "Clocks". Shockingly, a second track, "Beautiful Place", also features pretty much the exact same drum part as "Clocks". Didn’t half of planet Earth get sick to death of “Clocks” in ‘03, so why would anyone want to be haunted by it again 4 years later, on Good Charlotte songs no less? The band offers their modern take on mismatched relationships on "Something Else": "she drags me to parties with people who ask me where I went to college, she knows damn well I barely finished school…". There’s even mention of salaries and dividends later on. That's deep, and Charles Schwab would be proud. On "All Black", the answer to THE major burning question is revealed: What color are the seats in their Cadillac? ALL BLACK.

"Keep Your Hands Off My Girl" is a not so thinly veiled broadcast (subtleness rivaled only by Neil Young's "Let's Impeach the President" and "Donald Rumsfeld is a Straight-up Murderer"--from his I Do Not Agree with Many of This Administration’s Policies LP) that throngs of hott barely legal tail throws themselves at the band non-stop, much to the dismay of the bystanderUrban-er Hymns boyfriends. Pop stars get alot of action, really, is that true? I liked this song better when it was done by The Darkness four years ago ("get your hands off of my woman, motherfucker!"). Worse than the lyrics, is their stab at rapping, which makes Blizzard Man (Ludacris, Common) sound like Eminem by comparison. Much like "Chronicles…", many songs are drenched in synth and string arrangements that only a solo Richard Ashcroft could truly appreciate. GC (again) spends an awful amount of time on songs that are sans their traditional punky brewster-pop sound, opting instead for straight-up dance power pop (which leaves much to be desired). Piano pop ballad “March On” was inked well before Hilary Duff dumped singer Joel Madden ca. Nov ’06, but one can’t help think he’s probably using that song to move on with his life after getting duffed.

It’s not much of a consolation prize, but there are a few traditional GC tunes---"The River", "Face the Strange (Bonus track)", "Broken Hearts Parade" (which sounds like it features the out-of-work horn section from the Bosstones), and "Misery".

Three, it's a magic number.By the end, all one’s left with is unanswered questions. How did I listen to this album 3 times? Why did I listen to this album 3 times? Will I be able to delete this album from the iPod (in my mind)? And of course, who can I talk to about refunding the 3 hours of my life that were wasted listening to this album? Upon first listen, it’s obvs (whether intentional or otherwise) why this album’s release was pushed out several times from summer ‘06 to March ‘07.

Can't wait for debate teams across the US to square off on what's more laughable about Good Charlotte: Their lyrics or their "punk rock" image? Cornell-Hoffstra...slaughter. Decide for yourself, check under "Interesting Failures" at your local/online record store, or just wait 6 months for its inevitable dollar store release.

Rating: 1/5


Sunday, March 25, 2007

March 27 Notable Releases

A few of the 2,488 new and re-released albums coming out this week.

Mika -- Life in Cartoon Motion. Debut from a 22-year-old, Lebanese popster from the UK who's being compared to the over the top sonics of Freddy Mercury and Queen.

Good Charlotte -- Good Morning Revival.Not to pre-empt Damore's review later this week, but we'd guess this is more like, "Bad Morning Revival, Bad Charlotte". (Ha! We slay us.)

Kaiser Chiefs -- Yours Truly Angry Mob. Recent release from the later day Brit-poppers finally hits the states -- plus they have a guy named "Whitey" and a guy named "Peanut" in the band... can't go wrong there.

Also, it's worth noting that this week there are remastered re-releases from the excitable boy himself, Warren Zevon(including a couple albums never before on CD) and the Doors. Both serve up alternate takes of classic songs, which should be enough to get some fans who've already bought these albums 2 or 3 times to buy them yet again. Ray and Robbie from the Doors, particularly seem keen to re-up their cash flow, with a 40th anniversary book coming out later this year as well; but considering that they got Bruce Botnick, the original producer of their classic albums to supervise the mixes and "re-mixes" -- it's probably going to be worth a listen.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists -- Living With the LivingDmitri enjoyed the event

Dmitri enjoyed the eventFor reasons I only 70% understand, Living With the Living, the new album from Indie sloganeer Ted Leo takes me back to Full Moon Fever and a dozen other records I stole from Gorilla in middle school. It’s not the content so much as the temperament and execution: Half a dozen front loaded anthems, a few of which are impossibly great, and a padded second side of genre workouts, ballads and throwaways.

The OG Tom and TeddyWhen you’re young, you’re willing to put up with “Zombie Zoo” because of the majesty “Running Down a Dream,” and I’m sure there are plenty of folks willing to deal with the obvious “Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.” and British hooligan ode “Bottle of Buckie” (a tin whistle solo?? the 13 year old me would have shit his pants) for the perfection of “Sons of Cain” and “Who Do You Love?” Despite knowing better, somehow I still like all those ridiculous tracks, but that’s as much about the astonishing affability of Tom and Teddy.

That’s why you can’t fault this record for its earnest, well-crafted filler (even when it pushes past the sixth minute). It’s like (if I may throw in another emotional, rather than sonic metaphor) cheering for your best friend’s terrible prog band—that five-string bass solo rules because your buddy rules. (See Sufjan’s musings on “friend rock” and/or the raves of his
last record.)

Those people know liberalFlipping through the reviews of Living you get the idea people aren’t mad at Ted Leo for not self-editing, but maybe they’re sick of him being so reliable. “Consistent” is backhanded, passive-aggressive rock scribe code for “boring us.” Hence, admiring well-made records more than swooning over them.

And when this album draws that kind of pleasant indifference, it’s because Ted Leo is the archetypal "Reasonable Liberal."
And then I drove it in the pool!!  Man, I am going to live FOREVER!!!
Despite the consequences on his career, Ted Leo is a levelheaded, smart 30 something-guy's guy, who sits around wondering where the rude boys are, instead of going out and fucking shit up. He’s never gonna be banned from Holiday Inns and he’ll always offer you a vegan cookie, instead of slapping the burger out of your hand. He might occasionally slice his forehead open
on a mike stand, but he’s a polite enough punk not to bleed all over the first row.

In other words, he’s us—sensitive, well-meaning, if wimpy, former (and former wanna-be) punks trying to get through the world without blowing up any more dark-skinned foreigners than we have to.

Rating: 3/5

-Dmitri Jr.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

LCD Soundsystem -- Sound of Silver

Pardon the alliteration (and cliché, for that matter), but music makes memories. More commonly, songs in particular have the Wax the worst selling album in the history of Columbia Records... ps Nice hat Vinnieunprecedented ability to cause one to wax ecstatic those glorious halcyon days of yesteryear - good or bad. For instance, I’ll always remember when and where I was when first hearing The Verve’s epic “Bittersweet Symphony.” Or furthermore the fact that “In The Meantime,” the Moog-laden hit by forgotten and forgettable Brit act Spacehog, reminds me of my entire booze-fueled freshman year of college. Sure, this by no means is a revolutionary theory and most – if not all – of us can relate to such.

That said, an entire album of comparable significance is less frequent an occurrence, but unsurprisingly has more staying power. I find myself revisiting many LPs from the last decade much more than just specific songs, the mood and texture of each track transporting me to a time and place I at times still long for. And while it may be premature for me to say, Sound Of You said woodSilver – the brilliant second LP from New York disco-punk group LCD Soundsystem – will forever remind me of 2007, the twilight and closing chapter of my 20’s.

“The truth is, I was shocked,” sings LCD Soundsystem mastermind James Murphy on “Time To Get Away” and I couldn’t agree with him more. The group’s eponymous debut was inconsistent, though its bright spots (“Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”, “Losing My Edge”) were certainly shimmering and full of promise. That promise was better reflected in last year’s Nike-sponsored workout jam entitled 45:33, a high-energy adrenaline rush that would make even the laziest man get off his ass and run a 5K in record time. In fact, the most genius bits of 45:33 appear throughout Sounds Of Silver, most notably the album’s centerpiece, the hypnotic “Someone Great.” But the genius does not start, nor stop there.

Album opener “Get Innocuous!” has a thumping backbeat that seems destined for repetition if not for Murphy’s best David Yeah, Peabs used to hang with Bowie, but you won't hear him talk about it... just not a braggerBowie impression. The song sets the tone for the entire record; Murphy unabashedly wears his influences firmly on both sleeves – strictly as homage, not thievery. “All My Friends” is the musical equivalent to a runaway train (or endless party, perhaps?) chugging along until crash or climax. It feels as though the ride may never end, nor do you want it to. The title track borrows from the same formula as “Get Innocuous!” and “All My Friends” by using a continuous rhythmic assault, only to add layers of ear candy until reaching an intense zenith that borrows from early Depeche Mode. Closer “New I Love You…” is a confessional Lou Reed poem, and while it may be the album’s only downtempo moment, it acts as a perfect post-script to a joyous adventure; a come-down of sorts.

Not since Moby’s Play or Fatboy Slim’s You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby has a dance record sounded so marketable. It seemed Spike!as though every song from those aforementioned LPs appeared in some sort of advertisement, film or television program, and Sound Of Silver has that same appeal. This was what The Chemical Brothers were attempting to accomplish with Push The Button (and they did, but only to an extent).

Admittedly, I have been an offender of deeming something as masterful far too early. I’d be lying if I said that I first heard Sound Of Silver upon its release date of March 20th. However that was not the case: I received a copy last December and would’ve named it my ‘2006 Album of the Year’ if not for technicality’s sake1. What I have learned throughout years of music appreciation is that the best albums are always the ones you go back to. It has seemed like a lifetime since first hearing Sound Of Silver, and it still sounds like silver with every listen.

Memories indeed does music make. James Murphy has etched his way into mine for years to come.

Rating: 5/5



1 The management of recordreviews.org does not endorse nor personally sponsor the actions of "staff-writers" during off hours, which include 12am-11:59pm, Monday-Sunday. We have however, promised to buy everyone in the office lunch from White Castle should we ever get an office.

-- Cordially, the before mentioned management.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Adult -- Why Bother?

Who wants to sex Rapaille?Somewhere on Long Island sits a mansion that apes the appearance of a fairly grand European castle. The owner is a charismatic, French cultural-anthropologist named Clotaire Rapaille. Dr. Rapaille paid for his mansion by selling big time marketers on the idea of tapping into consumers' "reptilian brain."

The reptilian brain is essentially the brain stem and is concerned with fundamental needs such as survival, physical maintenance, hoarding, dominance, preening and mating. The basic ruling emotions of love, hate, fear, lust, and contentment are, according to neuro-psychologists, also rooted in this structure of our brains.

Rapaille, developed techniques for studding how these pre-cognitive impulses affect the way we approach consumption and thus products as diverse as coffee, automobiles and cosmetics. However, had he not chosen to sell this line of thinking to Folgers, GM, Chrysler and L'Oreal -- he might have written a hell of a book on popular music.

Love, hate, fear, lust, and contentment -- that pretty much covers rock n' roll, doesn't it?

While the rest of our brains build off the reptilian elements to build deeper meaning, context and relevance -- many artists succeed by tapping into elemental emotions over and over with great success.

Hell-OO!What's Metallica with out hate, anger and aggression?

What's a cartoonish crooner like Tom Jones without lust?

And finally, if not for love, Lionel Richie would have had to send Nicole to a crappy private school ("Brickhouse" could not afford Beverly Hills Prep alone.)

Which brings us (finally) to Adam Lee Miller and spouse, Nicola Kuperus, Detroit's own Adult. (Ignore the period at the end of their name and you'll incur a wrath that rivals the war Doves declared on "the".)

Yes, have some.Adult. knows how to tap into reptilian fear; more specifically, a response most of us would recognize as anxiety. Clearly, this is something they never felt the need to be subtle about, naming a previous album Anxiety Always and tracks on the current album, "Plagued by Fear," "I Feel Worse When I'm with You" and "You Don't Worry Enough." The linear notes say, "All Un-Easy Listening Music & Lyrics" by Adult.

You get the point.

In a live setting, they employ volume and strobes to enhance the effect. But basically they have a few sonic tricks up their sleeve that are pretty tried and true.

Sped up, syncopated beats from vintage drum machines so that you always know they are electronically derived.

The first 4 Ministry Albums were recorded with this exact setupOrchestrated noise.

Ping ponging sonic elements around the stereo field so that the listener is never sure where they're coming from, and then occasionally dropping them dead center so they feel like they are emanating from the center of your skull.

Using eq filters to subtly shift the textures of sounds so that the listener feels uneasy due to the changes, but can't always figure out why.

Last but not least, shrieking feminine vocals of the banshee variety. Not that there is anything wrong with wailing, but the lyrical content of said screams isn't very engaging. Simple rhymes dominate Kuperus's punk rock shouts which give the lyrics at times a Hop on Pop Suessian feel that's completely incongruent with the music. 30 years on, Patti Smith remains a musical novice, but lieu of vocal talent at least the content of her screams can be compelling.

While this New Center couple may not intend songs like "Inclined to Vomit" to be taken overlyWarning, appearance may not improve in 3-D seriously -- they do intend them to be seen as "weird." The adjective and it's derivatives are used to describe the music and duo on their album. The black humor portraits of the couple in dour black regalia with bloodied decapitated mannequins are obviously intended to give the same feeling. "Weirdness" is suppose to imply deviation from norm -- but Adult. is more akin to the girl who dressed up like Robert Smith in your junior high -- a completely dated stab at non-conformity.

This is not to say that any novice could just pull this album out of their ass and on to their laptop. I realize it takes more than what I've outlined to construct an Adult. album, but unfortunately, not much more that's absorbing.

There's very little on this album that you couldn't find on Pretty Hate Machine 18 years ago. But Reznor also mixed his fear with anger and lust, producing a cocktail that stands up to repeat listenings. The unfortunately titled Why Bother? gets old quick -- the tracks operate at a very shallow depth, leaving very little more than traces of ear candy to sink your ears into after a spin or two.

In other words, when the entire construct of your artistic endevor is directed by, "look at me, I'm different" -- you better damn well deliver "different".

Rating: 2/5


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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Modest Mouse--We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank.

Yossarian BuzzFollowing up a hugely successful album is the ultimate catch 22 for any emerging band. Modest Mouse moved from critics' darlings to mainstream chart attackers overnight with the surprise hit single 'Float On' off 2004's Good News For People Who Like Bad News. For their encore, thankfully MM neither plays it too safe nor strays too far away from what worked well previously. On We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, Isaac Brock & co wisely opted to stick to their core sound, while adding new elements that serve to challenge their fan base creatively while being more broadly accessible (more singles potential). Accomplishing that, while not alienating both new and longtime fans, AND without sounding overtly commercial is walking a fine line to say the least.

Adding new wrinkles to the scheme is due in large part to the addition of guitar hero Johnny Marr (The Smiths, Electronic). Marr's addition surprised many, though he worked and toured with a collection of younger rockers on his Healers project in 2003 (with mostly lukewarm response). Guitar prowess aside, Marr knows what works and what doesn't and his vast music biz Also not John Squire, Ian Brown.experience no doubt helped the band navigate through the herculean task of following up a monster album when the weight of major label expectations crushes so many bands in a similar spot.

While the addition of Marr undoubtedly quickly eased pressure from the band, it was by no means a sure thing. Adding a legend creates its own complications. Had Marr not been willing to play the wingman as the consummate professional, the effort would lose its strong melody and focus, thus getting lost in murky waters. Thankfully, Marr is not John Squire, and he realizes his purpose is to best serve the overall band‘s interest and not his own ego.
Riverside, oh so scary from a low angle
Throughout, MM maintains their chaotic quirky indie rock m.o, while the tasteful and razor sharp guitar hooks of Marr bolsters the entire ship. The background vocal contributions of James Mercer (Shins) also adds a nice touch to standout track "Florida" (not as much as expected on two others though). Brock’s voice doesn’t lose its maniacal energy on much of WWDBTSES. On “Invisible”, "March Into the Sea" and the end of “Parting of the Sensory”, one can easily imagine that the recording studio was inside an insane asylum called Riverside (aren’t they seemingly all called that?) where Brock spends most of his time sedated in restraints. Be that as it may, most impressive is Brock’s surprising vocal restraint and subtlety on tracks “Spitting Venom” and “Little Motel”, which shows real depth and makes the album more enjoyable with each listen.

While the album may be considered safe upon initial gut reaction, each additional listen reveals layers of sharp dynamic changes and Fake Jamacians, still out there, still a threat.strong melodies that hook the listener. The album is chock full of singles potential, and save for Florida” & “Fly Trapped in a Jar“, most of which aren’t hardly the strongest songs contained (“We‘ve Got Everything“, and “Missed The Boat“, “Education“--which sounds very similar in tempo/groove to “Float On“).

Humble Rodent appears to have crafted an album that satiates hard-core fans while making the band even more approachable to new fans w/out sacrificing creativity and quality. A solid addition to any record collection.

Rating: 4/5


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Sunday, March 18, 2007

March 20 Notable Releases

A few of the 2,182 new and re-released albums coming out this week.

LCD Soundsystem -- Sound of Silver. Kind of like Yosemite Sam shooting at your feet screaming, "DANCE, DANCE!"

Modest Mouse -- We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. Johnny Marris now an official member of the Mouse that Brock built. Fake Jamaicans beware.

Andrew Bird -- Armchair Apocrypha. The main man behind the Squirrel Nut Zippers drops the swing and gets all indie on your ass.

J-Dilla -- Ruff Draft (Dlx). New beats from the late Detroit hip-hop producer -- basement beats hit the big time.

The Jerky Boys -- Sol's Rusty Trombone. The Jerky Boys still exist. Sorry I had to be the one to break the news.


Monday, March 12, 2007

March 13 Notable Releases

A few of the 2,280 new and re-released albums coming out this week.

Aqualung --Memory Man. Matt Hales my friend, don't you go away uneasy. You poor old sod, you see it's only your second lo-fi, atmospheric album.

Neil Young -- Live at Massey Hall (CD/DVD). 1971 set from the folky Canadian, performed in his native land. Features some of the first public performances of some of his most enduring songs, including many from Harvest before they were even recorded.

Hot Club of San Francisco with David Grisman -- Yerba Buena Bounce. Django acolytes team up with the world's premiere hippie mandolin player -- expect mad chops shredding acoustic strings.

Various Artists -- Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Music to Be Murdered By. Reissue of two albums on one cd. At the time the albums were released to capitalize on the success of the famed director's tv show, which in turn capitalized on Hitchock's droll introductions and gigantic gut as much as they did clever twists.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Blownout from the Blowout or What I did On My 4 Day Weekend.

There's plenty of great pictures, write ups, reviews and somewhat more esoteric points of view on the 2007 Metrotimes Blowout, so I'll try to be brief. Here's a couple of links followed by a short list of a of bands to see if you get a chance in the future.

Chopin and Gorilla, Hamtramck heroes for the next centuryBig Matt's got some great pictures up at motorcityrocks.com -- p.s. if anybody from the General W. Sikorski Polish League of American Veterans Post 10 asks if Matt "Gorski" had a good 47th birthday, you say "yes". Sto Lat! Sto Lat!

I'm not sure anybody maximizes his Blowout experience as much as Jasper at Webvomit, this is of course in terms of $2.50 Molsons and total bands seen in 4 days.

There is only one Johnny Loftus and he prowls the Blowout with the pride of father on graduation day, if your dad got loaded on Molson and was wandering around near the stage during the convocation -- big props to the whole Metrotimes team and the city of Hamtramck for a job well done.

Don't miss Johnny's smoke break dissertation on the Blowout, with appearances by Brian Smith and the diminutive Eddie Baranek, who those outside of the D may also recognize as the man behind the 100 proof lyrics and guitar licks in the Sights.

I've had several discussion with other people about the Loftus assertion that Blowout sets the agenda for the Detroit music scene for the following year. The reactions are decidedly mixed, with about half heartily agreeing and half saying he blew Blowout out of proportion.

RON, have a chocolate covered Altoid, RON, HAVE ONE NOW, Bruce, you too, Damore, I don't have enough for you.Personally, I think Loftus is on to something, if perhaps it's overstated. I attended three out of four days (with a break for Badly Drawn Boy on Friday). I've come away from the long weekend with a list of bands I want to see again, that I want to "get to know better" and just as importantly, a list of bands that I missed but heard great things about on the way to another venue or between sets from other Blowout goers. We know most of these bands will never reach their potential, they'll implode, explode, fade away or just stagnate between this Blowout and the next. But personally, at least for the moment I'm reengaged with local music here in Detroit and damn happy about it.

I'd like to challenge my fellow D-town music bloggers and maybe even the Metrotimes to join forces to sponsor some "mini-blowouts" several other times during the year.

Call them showcases.

Call them "Suckins" for all I care.

Have them in one venue or a handful of venues.

Don't make eye contact with that guy, what ever you do Gorilla, don't look at that guy, cause I think he's a ZOMBIE!But clearly the "event marketing" quality of the Blowout works and even if it doesn't set the agenda, it does get the attention of the audience for local music and introduce a lot of great music to new people.

Okay, Soap box is put away...

Here's a couple of bands that I saw that I recommend you check out if you get the chance. Many will be completely familiar to folks in Detroit, and the others are being referenced elsewhere -- but I'll just throw my two cents in as well.

The Satin Peaches -- they look, like kids -- so I guess I'm old. The singer weighs about 75 pounds and sounds like the dude from Wolfmother. But they are tight and the word is that Oasis's manager is involved with the band, so expect to hear more of these guys, or least expect the NME to start handing out it's perfunctory hojos.

Adult -- Their songs have so much internal tension that Damore almost had a panic attack in the Majestic-- I actually kind of wanted to dance. New album is out in 2 weeks.

The Silent Years -- I have had several poor personal experiences with this band in the past. The fact that I can now say they have developed into a damn fine band and that you should see them if you get a chance is like a Dr. Phil kind of moment for me.

Eons -- I think this band may be getting the most positive eyebrow raises of the Blowout. There does seem to be some confusion among others trying to describe their sound. I will clear that up, it's indie rock with overt shoegaze references. In specific, the singer guitar player plays the exact same kind of guitar as Kevin Shields and does the My Bloody Valentine bang on the tremolo arm through the entire song thing. All in a good way.

Nomo -- Horn section. Bass player that has the best mohawk since Fishbone. Hipsters and hippies give knowning nods of afirmation. Good work Nomo.

Youth Group of Rome -- When Augie from the Hard Lessons began playing a toy guitar in this side project, Big Matt asked if Blowout had jumped the shark. Three days later, I'm still singing a song they did about the Pope to myself. "But the Pope does not live in It-al-ly, he lives in the VAT-i-Can Cit-aay."

Sea of Japan -- In retrospect, they may have been a fairly standard indie rock band, but I have every intention of trying to see them a couple of times as soon as I can.

The Prime Ministers -- Always best, especially when an old Polish woman is pouring shots of an indistinguishable liquor directly into people's mouths while dancing on the bar. Hey, did Coho die?

Porchsleeper -- 'Sleeper buzz. There is not a better way to finish 4 days of rock and roll than with the alcohol drenched rock solid tunes of these Ann Arbor vets in the shadow of an FDR portrait that looked old enough to have an authentic autograph.



Friday, March 09, 2007

A Brief History of Badly Drawn Boy in Detroit

As Badly Drawn Boy (aka Damon Gough) gears up for his 5th Detroit visit since 2000, let's take a piss in the wind and look back at his previous stops. Cheers.

Visit #1: 11/10/00 - Badly Drawn Boy @ Magic Bag - Ferndale, MI
Album Promoting: Hour of Bewilderbeast
Gough's age: 31

I was there, I was there at the Magic Bag.Gough's 1st ever U.S. tour and his 1st stop in Metro-Detroit. The show wasn't exactly sold out, but Gough nonetheless told us his next Detroit appearance would be in a much larger sports arena and that we'd be able to say "we saw him at the Magic Bag". The show was over 3 hours long and towards the end, Gough was standing on top of tables in the crowd either cussing out the Magic Bag's owner or reading a flyer of the venue's upcoming events. "Who the fuck are the Twistin' Tarantulas?" still sticks out in my mind.

That night at the Magic Bag also set the template of what to expect from future shows: ungodly amounts of cigarettes smoked (an ashtray was actually affixed to his mic stand), large chunks of time devoted to drunken-like rambling which at times causes the band to abandon him onstage and finally, set lengths to rival even the most seasoned jam band.

Related: Aaron Warshaw of Metro Times previews BDB's 1st U.S. Tour afew days prior to The Magic Bag stop.

Visit #2: 4/28/01 - Badly Drawn Boy @ St. Andrews - Detroit, MI
Album Promoting: Hour of Bewilderbeast
Gough's age: 31

BDB is a big, Big Matt Fan!Nearly 5 months after Gough said we'd next see him in a sports arena,he returned to Detroit via St. Andrews Hall (with a capacity of about 800 more than The Magic Bag).

Of my four BDB shows, this one is the favorite. The opening act was a short film of Gough playing a day in the life of Bon Jovi's pool boy. After the film, security guards parted the capacity crowd on the mainfloor down the middle so Gough could make his way to the stage. With small American flags on toothpicks sticking out of his trademark hat, he began what would be a another long night full of chatter (he compared himself to Bono at one point) and Bewilderbeast songs. All of this after the Rocky theme played of course.

It is also interesting to note that he spent much of the show's first half discussing his wife and newborn daughter between songs (he even passed around a baby picture while stressing it better make its way back to the stage). However, as the night went on, he began some heavy flirting with girls in the crowd and I'm pretty sure he invited one (or more) backstage. Always the family, er, ladies man.

Visit #3: 10/25/02 - Badly Drawn Boy/Adam Green @ St. Andrews -Detroit, MI
Album Promoting: Have you Fed the Fish?
Gough's age: 33

Oh, thanks, a music box, thanks a lot BDBBy 2002, live BDB shows had gained enough of a reputation for QMagazine to list him as one of the Top 50 Live Acts to See Before You Die. This claim even came after a few online BDB forums began comparing Gough's live antics from city to city only to determine the chaos may be much more "controlled" than previously thought. As early as 2001, fans were reporting seemingly identical rants and fits at each gig from city to city. However, with both the About A Boy soundtrack and Have you Fed the Fish released in 2002, BDB awareness in the U.S. was at a new high.

Despite all the hype, the 2002 St. Andrews show was pretty tame. Since it fell on a Friday night, the show had an early curfew (10:00 PM if I remember correctly) to make way for "Club Night". Not sure if Gough knew this ahead of time, but while still on stage he laced into both St.Andrews management and the club goers waiting outside for forcing him to cut his set short.

Visit #4: 11/27/04 - Badly Drawn Boy/Adem @ St. Andrews - Detroit, MI
Album Promoting: One Plus One is One
Gough's age: 35

Let's see, cig check, haven't shaved in 2.6 days check, running jacket, check, hat... oh fuck.The first order of business for Gough in 2004 as he took the St.Andrews stage for a third time was making sure we all knew he'd be playing two sets. He then made it clear the first set would consist entirely of the latest album, One Plus One is One, from start to finish. By the start of the second set, it felt like half the crowd had left. As that set drew to a close (somewhere between 1:00-2:00 AM), almost everyone was gone. Pity really, they missed long stories about where Gough shops for records in his native U.K.

The 2004 stop is easily the weakest of his four Detroit shows, but it did include one memorable moment: During Adem's opening set, Damore and I spotted Gough hanging out near the sound board. Damore mentioned the Bon Jovi pool boy film to which Gough replied, "Were you there? Were you there at the Magic Bag?" He then shooshed us by saying "Quiet. This is the greatest song ever written" as he turned his attention back to Adem's set. Despite Gough mixing up his Detroit show continuity, the whole encounter became legendary overnight.

Which brings us to...

Visit #5: 3/9/07 - Badly Drawn Boy/Adem @ Majestic - Detroit, MI
Album Promoting: Born in the U.K.
Age: 37

Dude, nice rig.Two years and one album later, we have no reason to believe the new tour will be any different. A fan going by the name "Mamamoth" posted on the itcamefromtheunderground BDB forum in regards to last Fall's LA show that "Damon threw tantrums, insulted us, spat water, kept complaining about the sound, smoked cigarettes violently, threw empty matchbooks around, and acted like a primadonna bitch."

The Philadelphia Daily News has also reported that Gough, along with his four-piece band, will be covering Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road"at every show during the US Tour. All this AND, with Adem on the bill again, we'll all have a second chance to hear the greatest song ever written. Best.

Related: Live Daily's review of Badly Drawn Boy in Washington DC on3/6/07


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Welcome Nummer to recordreviews.org

We're very excited to have the one and only Nummer writing for recordreviews.org. Most of you know him as whatevs.org resident SNL expert; but most of you have probably never had the pleasure of stepping into his more than impressive media room. Thousands of cds and dvds -- many rare or imported, line the shelves; vinyl, vhs and comics fill the closet -- it's bovs.

Nice hard wood floors too.

While Nummer will likely be writing new reviews as well, look for him to hit his vaults for classic albums reviews, concert reviews from the D and general awesomeness.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Stooges -- The Weirdness

Our man Bill McGraw points out in The Detroit Almanac, where once stood a big white farm house in which the Stooges lived, screwed and did mountains of drugs on the corner of Eisenhower and Packard in Ann Arbor, MI, there now sits a bank.

A LaSalle, I believe.

Now if you’re 15 and all angsted up, you might read all sorts of depressing insights into this: The I am Gene Hackman and this is Bonnie and Clyde, we'd like LaSalle to GFY!commoditization of art, the temporariness of rebellion, the Man holding us down with his jackboot zoning laws.

But it’s just a bank. They hold on to your money and let you buy a house when you promise to pay them back. What the hell can you really have against a bank?

Iggy Pop doesn’t hate banks either. Sure they tore down his old pad, but he’s hardly the sentimental type. And he’s perfectly coolio with raking in (much-deserved) cash helping cruise lines hit that key junkie, male prostitute demographic. You assume a smart guy like Igg would be down with diversifying all his funds and shit.

For every Curly, there is a Schemp or some yin yang bullshitYet on the Stooges comeback, The Weirdness, Mr. Osterberg, out of seemingly misplaced obligation, lashes out at modern finical convenience with a track called “ATM.”

Laying into automated teller machines is idiotic. Despite all his efforts over the years, we know Iggy Pop is not an idiot. Still he’s compelled to keep pretending here, hoping to recapture a bit of the glorious gold-sparkled stupidity of his less gnarled youth.

On Weirdness Iggy hits a whole series of “compulsory” topics. Druggy sex song? "Trollin"; War song? “My Idea of Fun”; Fuck American society at large song? "Free and Freaky"; Condemning greedy awful people song? uh “Greedy Awful People”: Each with dumber lyrics and more “your-dad-made-a-punk-album” guitar than the last.

Albini makes his happy faceIggy’s straining in some places and listless in others—more than anything he not having fun, not in control. I know Steve Albini’s MO is keeping everything stripped down and this is the Stooges, but please, please let the Ig-uana take another pass at “My Idea of Fun”. What’s worse is Pop, whose psychotic brilliance raised a less than average garage band to frenetic genius so long ago, now drags everybody else down.

If you get mutherfucking Mike Watt to be in your band and don’t let him go crazy on the thud staff, maybe you are the ’tard you want us think you are. Only Ron Asheton, still bitter about being demoted to bassist near the end of the group’s original run, makes any effort to prove himself. His spitfire little licks try to fill any dead air—a noble, if ultimately grating gesture.

Let’s be clear, it’s categorically unfair to waste any serious effort comparing a reunion album to the old stuff. It’s obnoxious to chalk up the record’s flatness to a lack of drugs as well. If you saw the boys live recently, you might feel disappointed, but if you picked up “Skull Ring,” no doubt you’ve braced yourself in advance.

Still two things are worth pointing out:

Diddley BuzzUno—By most accounts, the Stooges were universally reviled during their heyday, even in Detroit. [Of course they were never from Detroit, they were from Ann Arbor, 50 miles west. Of course they grew up outside A2 in Ypsilanti (the outskirts of Ypsi no less). That’s the outside of the outside of the outside…that’s how you get to be the kings of alienation.] Now we’ve been listening to people ripping off the Stooges for 30 years and it is not completely infeasible that we’re just too cynical to recognize the real deal anymore. Your grandkids might love The Weirdness and curse your bones for dismissing it.

Dos—“Mexican Guy.” Not just a decent Stooges song, one of the better things Iggy has done in years. Unlike the rest of the record, it doesn’t try to go anywhere near “Search and Destroy” or punk. It’s got a weird Bo-Diddley beat that Iggy squats right in the middle of and owns like only Iggy Pop can. It’s funny and menacing all at once and instantly reminds us this is where the Ramones started—not the other way around. It’s a song you can’t write when you’re 20—not until life has kicked the shit out of you on a global scale—and I’d kill to here nine more just like it.

Rating: 2/5

-Dmitri jr.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Idlewild -- Make Another World

After Idlewild's disappointing ‘05 release, Warnings/Promises, THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE RODDY!‘06 brought singer Roddy Woomble's folkish solo album (My Secret is My Silence) , which led many to believe the writing was on the wall for the band. Warnings/Promises didn’t justly garner ALL the hate mail it received as being merely a shallow attempt at being mid-late 80's REM---credit must be given at least for turning in a new musical direction, albeit a boring one. Some credit also had to be given to the band for not merely releasing The Remote Part 2.0 (like early sessions sounded like). 2 years later & the folk influences worn all over W/P & Woomble's solo sleeves thankfully are out of their system.

Don't Quit Yer Day JobWhile every UK band would obvs welcome US success, they don't seem to let it control or change their approach to music in the way bands such as Travis, Keane, & Snow Patrol have. At the core of Idlewild is melodic guitar driven songs coupled w/ the refreshingly honest, reflective hope-laden words of Woomble. He always seems to be astutely aware of his surroundings, yet he never seems to let the increasingly threatening world overwhelm him to the point where he loses his logical & optimistic take on life.
Make Another World (MAW) gets the band back on-course, returning to their guitar driven anthem sound of 2000's 100 Broken Windows & 2002's The Remote Part. The keyboard arrangements glaringly absent from Warnings/Promises adds depth to the beautifully sweeping "Finished It Remains", & "Future Works" is the type of song that Snow Patrol/Keane wish they could pull off, even featuring a nice trumpet section towards the end mixed w/ subtle keys. "You & I Are Both Away" has the best of both worlds for fans, part ballad, part rocker in the slow/fast/slow/fast format. In all, there are 6 solid songs contained.

That's not to say MAW is sans flaws though. It has its share of songs that feature unnecessary lengthy guitar solos that do little more than extend the album's total run time. Fuck you Bones.While good intentioned, they usually only serve to confuse the listener about whether or not you like the song as much as you did the minute prior. Even the impressive track "Finished It Remains" gets slightly bogged down by the-over-the-top guitar solo towards the end. It's even more evident on track "Once In Your Life" which starts w/ Woomble doing his best dead pan spoken word (Shatner stizz), & for a lack of better ideas for the verse/chorus, decides to end the last 1:15 w/ a 2nd guitar solo. Don’t even get me started on their crack at dance-rock, “No Emotion”. While there are some solid songs (and couple not so much songs), much of MAW fails to grab the throat the listener as profoundly in the ways that makes 100BW & The Remote Part so special.

Thom relaxing at home.But these days energy and effort go a long way, and despite some flaws, Idlewild seems to have their passion and sense of urgency back, making this album a solid play. The title may be a bit ambitious, think of it as “a homecoming” of sorts. These days while every band tries to be like Radiohead, re-inventing itself each time out (or at least trying) , what’s wrong w/ sticking to what's already worked?
In Competition For the Worst Time
Everything (As It Moves)
You & I Are Both Away
Finished It Remains
Make Another World
Future Works

Middle of the Road
If it Takes You Home

Not So Much
No Emotion
Once In Your Life
A Ghost in the Arcade

Rating: 4/5

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