Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pearl Jam - Backspacer (2009)

For those who know me, this statement will undoubtedly rip your flesh like weasels who had too much Buddy Holly and vodka. The last time Pearl Jam released a semi-decent album, I was a freshman in high school. (It was Vitalogy for those who don't know my age.) So I say with my rancorous cod-piece lodged squarely between my zoobies that I fully and eagerly intended on writing a Two Minutes Hate for this album and sadly cannot sate my inner Freudian wish-fulfillment fantasies. It's pretty good -- really. Part of my disdain for Pearl Jam for the last half portion of my life has been with their politics -- which is to say, their music oozed complete self-righteous seriousness, and the music fucking sucked. Like assfucker sucked. Like no better than Britney Spears sucked. Like you would rather watch Jack Bauer save Los Angeles from its 35th nuclear attack sucked. Read my previous two album reviews if you don't believe me, where the band found itself playing like they read the word torpor so many times on a piece of paper that it put them into one.

This album sounds like they had a ton of fun making it. It doesn't reek of self-seriousness and it doesn't sound tired, either. Amazing, right? I really dig the brevity as well (36 minutes or so). It kind of unfolds pretty quickly and then it's over. (Authorial interjection: Master Cianan, did I just hear you 3,000 miles away yelling, "Well, thank God for that!") I really like "Got Some" and "Supersonic," two fairly punk-like rockers and "Amongst The Waves," a nice sludgy ballad. "Just Breathe" may be my favorite song, and it'd probably surprise you to hear that it's actually just an acoustic love song with some strings -- it just sounds beautiful and I like it. So there. Of course, being the disaffected twaddling twit that I am who must find some fault with everything, I will say this: every Pearl Jam album (except for Ten) has at least one song that is so odious, so terrible, so toxic to the greater good of humanity that the band, the producers, the fans and any other associated party involved with the continued existence and preservation of that song should be violently reprimanded (myself included); and that song is "The Fixer" -- a most retarded example of what kind of music not to make. Otherwise, enjoy. B-

Arctic Monkeys - Humbug (2009)

Who the fuck are Arctic Monkeys? Extraordinarily over-hyped British band from a few years back that released a fairly brazen freshman record and a solid sophomore effort. Humbug? Third record. Getting better? Yes. The real interesting thing about this album is that Josh Homme (Queens Of The Stone Age, Kyuss, etc.) produced it and apparently encouraged these chaps to play like Kyuss -- that is to say, for no sake but for the music and for themselves. As a result, the album goes so far astray from what they've done before that it almost sounds like a new band. But by far the most impressive thing about this album is the fact that it is sluggish. Sluggish like a rainy dumpy Saturday afternoon stuck inside with no munchies and a dull but poignant hangover. Anyone heard their first two albums? Lotsa lotsa energy, quirky wordplay and snark. This? A fucking strange moody atmospheric drag. But a good one. Enough to lull you into a half-snooze but still retaining the chops to knock your ass backwards. If this were the 70s, it'd be grouped with "psychedelia." Except this isn't weird because of the drugs; this is weird because -- because they're weird? Or because Josh Homme produced it -- the guy whose last album featured Bulby the light bulb and whose website mailing list reads "Let Us Spam You"? You be the judge. "Fire And A Thud" is probably the only song I don't like -- perhaps "thud" more appropriately crystallizes my feelings towards it. Otherwise, my faves are "Potion Approaching," a great mid-tempo stomp that suddenly comes to a complete boozing crawl, "Crying Lightning" for its bass groove and choppy guitar lines, and the only frenetic song here, the punky "Pretty Visitors" -- my god! -- one of the lyrics is "What came first: the chicken or the dickhead?" 'Nuff said? B-

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

ZZ Top - Recycler (1990)

As I've mentioned below, today is a twofer. But now that I'm about to savage this album, in ZZ Top linguistics and metaphors no less, today is less like a twofer and more like a coin, one side being heads, one side being tails. And so it should come as no surprise that this album falls squarely into the complete and utter ass-end of ZZ's electric boogie whomp originating with all those MTV videos with that dork getting the chicks. Funny title, Recycler. Like these guys wrote 300 songs in the early 80s in the same vein and this is the rotten shit-bespeckled end of it. Except it's 1990. And here is Recycler. Funny, eh? My question to Billy Gibbons, one of the sickest guitar gods to ever touch a stringed instrument, who could probably pull a lick from his dick if he could see past his beard -- what the FUCK were you thinking? This album is like slow aural death. It sounds like you air-brushed a pearl necklace onto some chick to make it look like you're awesome, but in reality the chick was never there and you're just passing off your porn spanking on the wall. Sure, you had sex years ago, and probably did some crazy shit. But I mean, really? I'm pretty strict about my grading system, but even though the standings can never truly reflect how much an A+ means or how bad an F really is, I can say this: this is one of the worst albums ever. If I wasn't such a completionist, I would delete it off my hard drive. I suggest you do so if you are without my neurotic quirks. Destroy this and all copies you come into contact with. Make sure to wear gloves for proper disposal and a condom for even greater protection. Hell, if you are the charitable type, go to what few music stores that still exist or order like ten copies of this online and fucking smash it to fucking bits. There. FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

Warchild, Morgan Memorial Park, August 30, 2009

Today is Tuesday, and on this particular Tuesday you get a twofer. Whether you would have gotten lesser or equal value if I had just written one longer review is beyond my mental pay-grade. For some background, Warchild is a Jethro Tull tribute band from New York who replicates the sound and look of the original Jethro Tull circa 1970 or thereabouts; the lead singer/flautist dressed and looked somewhat similar to Ian Anderson, but his eerily similar voice, his excellent flute playing and his spot-on impressions of Anderson's physical stage mannerisms are what really sealed the deal. The rest of the band was equally note-for-note in regards to Tull's catalog, and overall, despite the wind problems completely fucking some of the sound, I was pretty impressed. The two hour set, in no apparent order, pardon my memory, consisted of: "Aqualung," "Teacher," "Locomotive Breath," "Cross-Eyed Mary," "Thick As A Brick," "Living In The Past," "Bourée," "Sweet Dream," "Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of A New Day," "Bungle In The Jungle," "Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll, Too Young To Die," "Nothing Is Easy," "Minstrel In The Gallery," "War Child," and a whole bevy of other tunes, some of which even I didn't recognize. And yes, they did "Thick As A Brick," but no, it was only a partial. Fucking righteous enough for me. B-