Tuesday, July 5, 2011
I've been meaning to P.S. in my last few posts that a lot of good new music out there right now. After the winter doldrums, there is a lot of spring stuff to be excited about.
I've been waiting for the new F*ked Up album to arrive before I filed a report.
When I mentioned F*ked Up's "Chemistry of Common Life" in my best of 2010 list , I didn't mention that it's the best rock album of the last five years, that "Crooked Head" may be the ultimate song, that they put on a monumental show at The Casbah in early '09 (like Henry Rollins fronting the Ramones) and that they're probably the best band in America (even if they are Canadian).
Well their new album/disc/download, "David Comes To Life," is here! I am so stoked! "Chemistry" was the album that you waded through all the other stuff for. It's the payoff for listening to everybody and everything. It's one of those moments when you say, "WHY CAN'T EVERY ALBUM BE LIKE THIS?" So I've been waiting and waiting for the follow up. How good can it possibly be?
It is good. Eighty minutes minutes good. So dense, so complex, that they break it up as a double album (like an LP) on the back of the CD case--something you'd miss if you got the download. And it is too dense and too complex. I can't take it all in one sitting.
I've tried to avoid all reviews and reports about "David Comes To Life" but unfortunately I've read enough to know that it's supposed to be a rock opera. They figured if Arcade Fire could do it, so could they. I have almost been reduced to actually reading the lyrics. But I refuse! I try to treat it as an entity: words, music, package, design, etc.
As an entity, as a CD, as a band, "David Comes to Life" is an example of how good rock can be. The guitar layers and overtones that the lead guitarist Mike Haliechuk (aka 10,000 Marbles) and cohorts generate are positively Reichian in design. The three minute opening song, "Let Her Rest" builds to an unbelievable intensity before it suddenly stops, the next song starts and vocalist Damian Abraham (aka Pink Eyes) is added as another instrument. Yeah, he's telling a story, something is going on, but his monochromatic delivery is becoming a drawback, something even he has admitted in interviews. They do bring in female vocalist here as they did on the "Year of the Pig" EP, which is a bold move given the primordial growls usually bellowing from Abraham's gullet.
And kids, this disc should be listened to on a good system. It cannot be truly appreciated on your laptop, your iPod or your iPhone. It's time to invest in a good system with good speakers.
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
If they ever send another space probe into the void carrying residue from civilized man to show our distant relatives what rock music was all about, the intro to The Pains of Being Pure At Heart's "Too Tough" would be all you would need to send (and the rest of the song ain't bad, either). Yeah, it's a chord progression that's been done a zillion times, but when it's done right, done perfect, it just gives you chills, man!
Their first self-titled album showed the Pains following the Velvet Underground-Ramones-JAMC-Strokes continuum. The new "Belong" shows them channeling their inner Billy Corgan. With the help of name producer Flood, the Pains have added the depth and production missing from the first disc. The guitars throb and pulse. The occasional synthesizer line evokes The Cars via The Strokes (toldja). I could live without the usual lame heartsick lyrics, but I can ignore them here.
When news gets out that there is a new Feelies disc, Feelies fans are stunned! It has been twenty years since "Only Life." Twenty years since they opened for Lou Reed downtown, twenty years since they played Montezuma Hall. And over thirty since the classic "Crazy Rhythms." And . . . it's like they never left. The vocals ain't much, the songs are pretty basic, the lyrics are functional, but the guitars! "Here Before" sets up the usual settings for Glenn Mercer and Bill Million's driving, intertwining, trebly playing. The only drawback on "Here Before" is that there isn't any one cut where they really stretch out. Most of the songs fall into the three-four minute range. But they know when to cut loose, and it's worth the wait on every song for the solos.
Ponytail's Molly Siegel doesn't sing. She is in every sense of the word, a vocalist. She moans, yelps, screams and occasionally throws in the coherent
word. On 2008's "Ice Cream Spiritual" she was more the outsider, making noises over the bands caterwaul. On the new "Do Whatever You Want All The Time" she shows herself as more of a guiding force, leading the band into different sections and then letting them play. The music is similar to the atonal drive of Sonic Youth without the atonality.
Let's hope that all the above bands show up in San Diego soon (well, I don't really expect The Feelies) to make this a kickass summer.
In more exciting news, The Fall
are releasing a new album in September. A new Fall album in the fall! (be still my heart).