Uncommon music criticized by the common man. (Or, exercises in futility masquerading as critical thought.)

Friday, April 30, 2004

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. "Mantra Of Love": I think this will be one of my next purchases. AMT has become one of those rare bands where I would buy their newest release based on reputation alone.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Hipster Detritus takes a look at the worthlessness of canon smashing, sparked by the upcoming collection of sacred cow butchering edited by Jim DeRogatis. (link found at Rock Critics Daily) Nate Patrin makes an excellent point: where's the savaging of the unpopular but critically acclaimed albums? Not that I necessarily think they deserve it, but why not also rip on the "classics" by bands like The Replacements, Husker Du, Guided By Voices, or Pavement? Is Zen Arcade really off-limits? Or why not also go after "forgotten classics" like Vincebus Eruptum or Third/Sister Lovers? Again, just asking.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Well fuck. I had a half-written review for my failed 10-in-10 experiment (it was Come's 1996 excellent mini-LP, Near Life Experience), posted it as a draft to finish later, and now it's gone. Oh well.

As I said, the 10-in-10 project failed, mostly because it got derailed last Friday when I went home for my sister's birthday/Easter, and I was never able to get back on track during the week. Technically, I could write 8 quick reviews right now and get it done, but that would be ridiculous. This ain't 75 of Less. Though, I might consider that in the future, since there's a certain challenge in trying to convey whether an album is worth your money in 75 words or less.

Anyway, here's the quick line on Near Life Experience (1996, Matador Records): if you like your rock music painted in dark hues and boiling over with emotional turmoil, all the while maintaining a beautiful stark quality, this is the record for you. And no, it sounds nothing like The Cure. This is more along the lines of The Beatles "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"--from which the album's opener, "Hurricane," borrows liberally--but more self-destructive.

I'll try this project again later.

Monday, April 12, 2004

I stole this exercise from SR.

List A: I currently own CDs by these Artists.
List B: I have seen these artists in concert.

List C: The intersection of List A & List B.

My List C would look like this:

Air Miami
The Apples in Stereo
Blonde Redhead
The Breeders
Cypress Hill
Richard Davies
De La Soul
Delta 72
Dirty Three
Dismemberment Plan
Don Caballero
Elysian Fields
Free Range Pilgrim
godspeed you! black emperor
Ice Cube
Jesus and Mary Chain
Jesus Lizard
June of 44
The Make-Up
Mercury Rev
Modest Mouse
Mojave 3
Most Secret Method
The Nightblooms
Parliament (well, actually George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars)
Poster Children
Reverend Horton Heat
Elliott Smith
Sonic Youth
Southern Culture on the Skids
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Storm and Stress
Teenage Fanclub
Telegraph Melts
Trans Am
A Tribe Called Quest
Urge Overkill
The Verve
Yo La Tengo

I think that's all of them. There are a few locals that I think I saw (Shudder to Think, Q and Not U, Tsunami), but can't remember for sure, so I didn't list them.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Just occurred to me that with my going home this weekend, I'm not going to have time to review more discs until Sunday night. Guess I'll just have to do three reviews that night. Or two that night and two the next. Or something. Oh well. 10 in 10...didn't say one per day. That's just an average, bitch.

Le review deuxieme

Sargasso Sea
American/Too Pure - 1995
Well, I've picked two albums at random and in each case they are the only albums I own by that artist, and both were released in 1995. What are the odds? Anyway...

I think it's kind of a good thing to review albums where I have no reference to the artist's previous or later works. I don't have to worry about things that other writers succumb to in their criticism, such as how the record stands up in comparison to the rest of the band's catalogue, what it represents in the band's evolution, etc. I can judge the album solely on its own merits, which, if you think about it, is the point of criticism these days. While that other stuff is certainly important if you're doing an overview of the artist's entire catalogue, for the here and now consumer, it doesn't add much to the argument of whether or not you should buy the album. (Unless, of course, you're trying to choose from several titles by the same artist. But now I'm sullying my own point...whatever that is.)

Can you tell I have little to say about this disc? Listening to it again, I have to say I'm not sure why I'm keeping this album. It's not a bad record all said, and there are a few good songs, but nothing that really grabs the listener. It's exceptional background music (except for during the part in "Crooked Tiles" where it sounds like their looping the sound of a cassette tape being eaten by an old tape player, which is a bit distracting), but not much more. Pram plays what I would describe as minimalist pop exotica. Unlike Stereolab (a band they are somewhat unfairly likened to), who also mine the pop exotica field to much better effect, Pram do not really inject much liveliness or sunshine into the music on this album. They seem content on trying to hook the listener with breathy, monotone vocals, a myriad of exotic sounding instruments (I could be wrong here, but I think included on various songs on the album are marimbas, vibes, chimes, maracas, a mini-gong, some sort of synth/organ...Jesucristo, I cannot identify instruments to save my life), and the occasional polyrhytmic thrust. On the occasions where they at least try to make the music more vibrant, it's not at all a bad listen, such as on the opener "Loose Threads," or the instrumental "Cotton Candy." But mostly, the music fails to go anywhere in particular, gelidly meandering in the shadows. If you want an all too suitable stereotype on which to pin the sound, think of some pseudo-boho scene with a bunch of people smoking and wearing black mock turtlenecks. This is the music being played. So unless you're sitting there smoking a pipe with elbow patches on your blazer, this probably isn't the music for you.

Okay, so starts the 10 in 10 experiment. We'll see how far I make it. The next 10 reviews will be from records randomly selected from my collection (previous reviews were not random at all). I figure this is as good a way as any to get reconnected to some CDs I may not have listened to in years. Review #1 is one of them. And now, without further Apu ("Oh, I have been zinged and I love it!")...

Optimistic Fool
The Pooh Sticks
Seed Records - 1995

This is the only Pooh Sticks album I own. I came to hearing the band's music a bit late (though I had heard of the band and read a few glowing reviews of what seems to be their best album by consensus, The Great White Wonder), and were it not for a radio station freebie, I may never had. I'm glad I did, though, because this is really a nifty little record that should not be overlooked as one of the better albums from the early 90s power pop boom. It may not be on the same level of Girlfriend (though I think that album is overrated) or Bandwagonesque, but save for the opener, the album delivers the catchy pop goodness song after song after song.

That opener is the appropriately titled "Opening Night," which is not awful, but seems a bit too precious, even for the Sticks. (Or is that the Poohs?) Its chorus of "opening night, opening night, whoa whoa, whoa yeah" seems like a put-on, which I know is probably the point, as the band's entire body of work is considered to be something of a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of pop music, but still, you have to draw the line somewhere, and this crosses the line for me, especially when they go a capella with hand claps. Thankfully, the song is kept brief and the pain (such as it is) is short lived.

Things pick up on the next song, "Cool in a Crisis," which--and this feeling creeps up a lot on this record, actually--would not be out of place on Fountains of Wayne album. The guitars are crunchier and the song is delivered with just enough thump that saying it rocks doesn't seem like a stretch. The next track, "Starfishing," turns the volume down on the guitars, but the drum sound is a bit "heavier," certainly enough to stand out in such a decidedly unheavy setting, and it propels the song forward quite nicely. This one, two punch of toe-tapping catchiness then gives way to the Mamas and Papas-like (on the chorus, anyway) title track. A restrained, lovey-dovey affair, I can imagine this song finding itself onto the mixtapes of many an indie pop nerd back in the day. Even though it clocks in just a hair under three minutes, it seems longer due to its relaxed nature in comparison to the songs that precede it. Such is the rest of the album, bopping around from power-pop thwack to (nearly) twee pop strum, all of it coasting on some great vocal harmonies and ridiculously catchy hooks. The sub-two minute "Who Was It?" is another one of those FoW-like crunchy pop songs that is probably the best track on the disc. "Miss Me," meanwhile, is another "rocker," a Cars-like pop number that reminds me of Weezer (circa their debut) with less guitar roar and angst. The album closer, "First of a Million Love Songs," is a hushed, gentle rocker that I'm almost positive is supposed to/should be an homage to Three Dog Night (something in the song reminds me of "Just An Old Fashioned Love Song", but I can't quite place what it is). It seems a fitting closer, as the song sounds as effortlessly crafted and hook-filled as everything on the album that precedes it. Though this was their final album, there seems little doubt listening to it that The Pooh Sticks really could have written a million more songs just as catchy if they wanted to.

Monday, April 05, 2004

THe Mother of Rock? Apparently (regardez mon ignorance!), that's Lillian Roxon. Might have to pick this up.

I bring to you another useless list from the people at Rolling Stone magazine.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Long time between posts these days. And to think, when I started this blog, I thought it would be the one getting the most updates. Ha!

So, in order to get those creative juices flowing again (here he goes again) as well as show this site a little more love, I am issuing a challenge to myself. I will attempt to write 10 reviews in 10 days from stuff in me collection, randomly selected. (The whole raison d'etre of this blog to begin with.) This will begin sometime next week. I'm hoping putting it out here will motivate me to actually do it. Much the way Mr. O is motivating himself to run in the Marine Corps Marathon. Go O!

(Run that together and you get Goo! I find that funny. Fuck you.)

Also, thinking of mixing up a CD or two here in the future. I used to churn these things out at quite a clip...now I can't remember the last one I made. Anybody interested? (And by anybody, I mean people I know, or cute girls who randomly stumble upon this post.)