After my last post, I got to thinking about other life long musicians who have recently released boring albums. 10 records came to mind from extraordinarily talented, albeit senescent artists.
1.Joni Mitchell, Shine, 2007
2.Paul Simon, Surprise, 2006,
3.Neil Young, Chrome Dreams II, 2007
4.Stevie Wonder, A Time to Love, 2005
5.Van Morrison, Pay the Devil, 2006
6.Lou Reed, Hudson River Wind Meditations, 2007
7.Bryan Ferry, Dylanesque, 2007
8.Aretha Franklin, Jewels in the Crown:Duets with the Queen, 2007
9.Prince, Planet Earth, 2007
10.The Rolling Stones, A Bigger Bang, 2007
Additionally, there were three recent releases that weren’t a total miss. More like touch-and-go albums, I loved certain tracks but not the album as a whole.
Bob Dylan, Modern Times, 2006
Bruce Springsteen, Magic, 2007
Tom Waits, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards, 2006
I know a lot of people will disagree with this statement, but that’s fine. Only one album, recently released by a career musician, was complete from start to finish…Tom Petty’s 2006, Highway Companion.
Tom Petty may not take many musical risks, but decade after decade his formula works. Highway Companion is yet another example of Petty’s straight-ahead, unwearied approach to music. Take my word for it, and buy this record.
When I think of all the successful musicians who died an early death, I understand that yes, it is a terrible shame they didn’t live longer but on the other side, at least they didn’t live long enough to record maudlin major label adult contemporary albums.
What the hell happened to Paul and Ringo? I know Paul has always been known for his light-hearted, playful bubblegum songs, but his 2007 album, Memory Almost Full, is a record you have to be over 50 to appreciate. Same with Ringo! He released his latest album, Liverpool 8, last week to the nostalgic delight of (only) his dedicated baby-booming audience.
That is all well and good but my biggest problems with these records are:
#1. The name dropping references (Ringo, everyone knows you were a Beatle)
#2. The wistful recollections of days-gone-by (Paul, if you have grown as a person stop dressing like a frat boy)
and #3. The slick, modern production techniques that reek of older musicians toying with Pro Tools.
Try and watch Ringo’s video for “Liverpool 8″ through to the end. I couldn’t.
Paul’s “Ever Present Past,” isn’t as bad as Ringo’s single, but if you listen to the rest of this album you will wonder why he didn’t just sell most of the songs to Justin Timberlake or Usher. At least if they were to record them, it wouldn’t suggest such a desperate attempt to maintain one’s relevance in today’s popular culture.
It is fairly ironic to hear Nico cover Bowie’s “Heroes” with such zonked out disregard. Her “we could be heroes, just for one day,” delivery is soaked with seemingly oblivious recollection. It is almost as if she is paying homage to the glorious by-gone days of her reign as the Queen of popular culture.
My, my, my, this video just bums me out. Oh Nico, take your coat off, you’re sweating! And why do you look so detached, so vacant? I have an idea… but I know the rule on assumptions. Sigh.
If the band Stereolab were ever to have a musical family reunion, I can imagine heaps of bands, all relatively familiar to their pioneering elder, mingling about games of horseshoes and eating deviled eggs.
Were I lucky enough to be invited to this hypothetical picnic, I’d gravitate towards my favorite Stereolab cousins. I’d ask Broadcast to play lawndarts, invite Electrelane to a round of Beerpong, get into a political argument with The Sea and the Cake, and see if The American Analog Set could drive me home.
After The American Analog Set dropped me off at my house, I would listen to these four songs and cry, knowing that Stereolab’s extended family is so much cooler than mine.
DIY-legends, Dead Moon consisted of drummer Andrew Loomis, Fred Cole and his wife Toody. Fred and Toody have been married since 1967, back when Fred was in a successful garage-rock group, The Weeds. Dead Moon was born in the late 80’s, but have called it quits after a 20 year run of touring and self-pressing their own records. Dead Moon’s gritty, bare-bone garage-punk anthems represents the music of the loner outlaw, standing the test of time.
“Walking on My Grave” and “Kicked Out-Kicked In” are both heavy blues numbers, and can be found on their 1990 record, Thirteen off my hook. Both songs share common Dead Moon themes of ostracization, rebellion, and survival.
“Walking on My Grave” is about drug overdoses, street violence and misguided politics by a younger generation; “a new kid on the block“. This is not a place Dead Moon wants to continue to hang out at. Remember, they are from the Flower Generation after all…
“Kicked out- Kicked In” is a song about limited career opportunities for the outcast:
“When I was 16 I was kicked out of school / They couldn’t dig my anti-social attitude / When I was 20 looking for a job they told me “kid, you got hair too long”
And of course only a square would cut their hair for a stinkin’ job. Dead Moon lives life by their own rules. Dig It!
Periodically, I muster enough angst from living in the Philly area for most of my life to make charged declarations like, “Screw Filthadelphia, I’m moving to New York…and far away from SEPTA!” Luckily, I can snap back to reality by reminding myself of all the music and art here that I love.
Steven Ward James and Jayson Scott Musson of Philly-based duo American Sneakers are a reason to stay put. Their rollicking, Stephin Merritt-esque tunes are providing the current soundtrack for my pedestrian exploits around the city.
And they’ve got some enticing album art to boot! Upon further comparison, I must say that I find the design of their most recent picture album Finito/CIA (2007) owns that of The Magnetic Fields’ Distortion (in my humble opinion). It was done by Philly artist Jim Houser, whose graphic paintings and installation work are a personal fave.
I am much obliged to Steven for this new track from American Sneakers’ upcoming album Nothing but Nothing, due out this May on Free News Projects.
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Why? Because the monster is insane and so is the music of Chris Clark. These days he simply goes by the name Clark, but since 2000, when he was often referred to as “the new Aphex Twin,” this dude has been banging out some of the most mind bending music in the IDM genre. Long before Justice made it chic, he was attacking ear-drums with hard-edged, glitched-out anthems.
“New Year Storm,” from his new, more acid-house flavored album Turning Dragon, is just as dark as anything in his catalog. Tribal, ominous, and fucking weird, it squeals while it shakes.
Pre-order this wicked shit now from Warpmart!
Holy shit, this video is awesome! MGMT’s epic song “Time to Pretend” is all about retreating from society and searching out more interesting lifestyles. Families and friends will be missed but like the song says, “life can always start up anew.” The new video, er visual adventure, for the song extends this playful, hippy-dippy concept with a Lord of the Flies theme and great use of cheesy 80’s 3D simulations. Ride the giant kitty, but look out for the over-sized flying crab thingy!
For those having trouble seeing the imeem version, check the YouTube version instead.
Le Loup’s “We Are Gods! We Are Wolves” may sound like an innocent and sweet electronic-pop tune on first listen, but on closer inspection it is pure evil. Sure, these kids are clapping their hands and playing oh-so-cute melodies on their Casio keyboards, but with lyrics like “Give your heart to us/Give your soul to us” it is clear they are celebrating one thing…our demise! Adorable.
Pick up their album Throne Of The Third Heaven Of The Nations’ Millennium General Assembly. but be careful not to let it catch you falling asleep.
“We ain’t born typical”- the line is repeated in the Kills‘ new single, which is a nice way of saying they are way cooler than you.
While visiting home on a winter break during college, I purchased The Teardrop Explodes‘ Wilder on vinyl in a smelly New Jersey record store for a mere three dollars. I had no idea what it was, but it was from 1981, and looked goth enough to pique my interest. For the price of a bottle of hairspray it was worth the gimmick. I was pleasantly surprised to discover genius lyricist Julian Cope through this record. Echo amd The Bunnymen, The Smiths, and early Pink Floyd can be heard in the new wave sound of The Teardrop Explodes.
“Reward” is a single taken from the 1980 debut album Kilimanjaro, which the band performed live on Top of the Pops with a full horn section! Check out Julian’s awesome white mop!
I’m tickled to know that militant Afrocentrics, Dead Prez, are subjectively such well balanced lyricists. These MC’s can write a track about sticking up a pizza man and pulling off credit card fraud, ala “Hell Yeah (Pimp the System).” While at the same time they can also offer advice about food preparation and menu planning with “Be Healthy.”
From their debut 2000 album, Let’s Get Free, “Be Healthy” has always struck me as a song suited for an elementary school health class, or something you may find on Sesame Street. These hardened social philosophers soften ever so slightly while urging listeners to be “careful how you season and prepare your foods, cause you don’t want to lose vitamins and minerals.”
My own mother couldn’t have said it better.