Thursday, July 27, 2006

Music Reviews: July 2006

Muse – Black Holes and Revelations (Warner Bros.)

This album fucking rocks. Bleep. Oops. All of Muse’s albums deserve an expletive, for they are the rare example of a band that continues to grow hydroponically with each album. Kinda like JC Chasez. On their fourth effort, they deliver a cohesive stroke of greatness that can best be described as a spacey rock extravaganza. I am not saying that this album is better or worse than their previous efforts; I am simply stating that you are a toothless gimp if you do not buy this immediately. Although they haven’t met the Pope or saved African villages, Muse IS one of the most important rock bands of the past decade, worthy of Radiohead-like worship and Michael Jackson hall passes. So why haven’t you heard of them? Probably because some people thought they copied Radiohead, and nobody likes a copycat. I say those people are whiny losers that hole up in chat rooms all day in their underoos. If anything sets Black Holes… apart from previous Muse albums, it’s Matt Bellamy’s focused lyrical themes and the varying styles that weave throughout. Produced by Rich Costey (who produced Absolution), the band indulges in Rich’s enormous sonic palate, which includes productions for Mars Volta, Franz Ferdinand and My Chemical Romance. “Take A Bow” starts off like an ABBA-meets-ELO cosmic frenzy that makes the following, Britpop-flavored “Starlight” a bit more palatable. Such a great song with so many damn hooks that I even forgot about the Coldplay-esque piano hook for a second. The single “Supermassive Black Hole” is a pounding, Evil Heat-esque banger that finds Matt Bellamy pulling a rare falsetto that sounds somewhere between Prince and Spoon. (What? Dunno. Just kinda came out.) After starting with a nod to Depeche Mode, “Map of the Problematique” snakes its way into an operatic prog monster while “City of Delusion” is a string-laden, flamenco-tinged bomb that will cause mood swings worthy of a prozac-less Sebastian Bach. Shit I just fell off of my chair because I’ve been deluged by so many hooks. Ouch and ahhh. Ouch and ahhh...

Wax these: “Take A Bow,” “Map Of The Problematique,” “City Of Delusion”
Wax it if you like: Radiohead and Mars Volta in a Bizarre Love Triangle

Check out "City Of Delusion"

or download it:
City Of Delusion


Shy Child – Only With The Sun (P-Vine)

Shy Child is comprised of two dudes from Brooklyn. (A band from Brooklyn? Go figure.) Using only keyboards, drums and vocals, these guys deliver a relentless bombardment of moog-infected dance-pop that would surely shake the ice off of Condi Rice’s left boob. While Nate Smith lays down the slinky beats, Pete Cafarella drops a barrage of synth delights a la Herbie Hancock on E at the Hacienda, topped off with an eclectic vocal style that sounds like the lovechild of Jack White and Conner Oberst. (Hey, I’m not condoning Connor Oberst here. I’m just making a comparison, knowing full well that if Jack and Connor ever hooked up, Connor would get kicked to the curb before carrying the child for 9 months.) Even with limited instrumentation, Shy Child manages to fuse Daft Punk, the Neptunes and Timbaland into a playful stew of twisted beats and burning gristle. And the titles are so damn apropos! “The Noise Won’t Stop” is a broken-beat, saw-toothed orgie that will deliver the average James Blunt fan to Bellvue’s doorstep, while my fave “Break Your Neck” transforms an infectious vamp into a head-nodding volley that begs you to pull out your teeth with unbridled delight. Just as you’re about to jack your face full of novocaine, “Echo and Throb” rolls through your nerve sockets like a hijacked freight train commandeered by a rogue group of nursery school drop outs. You know, the shy ones that you could never quite figure out. OK, so the ballad at the end is a wee bit out of place, but I’m willing to forgive and forget. Shy Child is not easy listening. It’s a mental workout.

Wax these: “Break Your Neck,” “The Noise Won’t Stop,” “Echo and Throb”
Wax it if you like: Conner and Jack’s love child fronting a radio un-friendly Killers

Check out "Break Your Neck"

or download it:
Break Your Neck


Lily Allen – Alright, Still (EMI)

Unless you’ve been living under Ruben Stoddard’s chin for the past few months, you’ve heard the name Lily Allen. You haven’t? Well damn, son; unfold the folds!!! Simply put, the Brits churn out guilty pleasures faster than a greased hot dog sliding down Courtney Love’s hallway. And that’s a pretty big hallway. Following in the herb-laced footsteps of fellow Brits Louchie Lou & Michie One (“Rich Girl”) and Althea & Donna (“Uptown Top Ranking”), Lily takes the rock-steady reggae vibe, throws in some other worldly spices and drops an album teeming with clever pop anthems that SHOULD have been Ms. Dynamite’s second record. Dyna dropped the ball. Lily took that shit, stuffed it in her belly and knocked out this pop jem just in time for summertime’s stanky back-end. The comparisons to Mike Skinner are inevitable - - real tales from the streets of London, delivered in a sweet-yet-tough vocal style; clever & witty, yet sharp enough to cut the mole right off of Aaron Neville’s forehead. In addition to the heavy rockers vibe, Lily doesn’t discriminate against a good sample: “Knock ‘Em Out” turns Professor Longhair’s “Big Chief” into a rant against that tool with no teeth that tried to jack your number the other night; “Everything’s Just Wonderful” twists an easy-listening 60s Esquivel vibe into an uptempo boogaloo gem with a vocal that makes me think of Pink. Not her package, her voice, son. The single “Smile” is a laid-back rocker about the joy of seeing her ex-bloke cry like a pansy, and reminds me of a more bangin’ version of Lauryn Hill’s “X-Factor,” minus the crazy-ass vocal chops. Damn I’m full of comparisons today. Speaking of which, where the fuck is Lauryn? Anyway….this record is like that cute bird in the bar the other night that ripped off your clothes with her eyes and shagged you with a pool cue…was that a pool cue? That might explain my chalky bum. Translation: this is the right record for the right time. Not groundbreaking, but deliciously fun.

Wax these: “Smile,” “LDN,” “Everything’s Just Wonderful”
Wax it if you like: a lost weekend of finger darts with Miss Dynamite, Michie One, Posh Spice and Pink

Check out "Everything's Wonderful"

or download it:
Everything's Wonderful


Hard Fi – Hometown Hi-Fi (mixmag)

Are you sick of me talking about Hard Fi yet? If so, I suggest you start a perpetual purge of last nights’s Olive Garden salad bar and listen up, cuz there is no end in sight. Don’t remove your finger just yet; Song Airlines just went out of business so I’ve got enough barf bags to last Nicole Richie 10 lifetimes…Hometown Hi-Fi came with last month’s Mixmag. I don’t usually buy the rag, mainly because they only write about how many hits of E you need to drop to see Tiesto in Ibeeee-tha, where it usually goes all kindsa Pete Tong anyway. Life begins at 125! Bollocks!!!! However when I saw this CD I made an exception. Mixed by DJ Wrongtom (www.wrongtom.com), this is perhaps the finest summer ass-shaking initiative since, um, Lily Allen’s record? Seamless mixing don’t mean too much without great tracks, and Wrongtom goes above and beyond the norm with this jammie. A crazy dancehall remix of Billy Bragg (!) starts it off, before settling into a track by the funkiest crate-digging honkies, The Nextmen with Dynamite MC. Hard Fi’s “Dubbed Up Too Tight,” which is on the In Operation CD injects some dub stylee, followed by Eek-A-Mouse, tasty remixes of The Kills “No Wow” and Justice’s classic reworking of Franz’s “The Fallen.” Wrapping up with electromatic Uffie’s “Ready To Uff” and some aural jizz by Spank Rock, this CD is worth the Pacha-worshipping rag that you’ll have to carry under your arm before you can actually get home and twist one up. Right-O, Wrongtom. Now please send me another.

Wax these: wax ‘em all, mate. It’s a mix.
Wax it if you like: not being a wanker

Check out Nextmen w/Dynamite MC's "Bloodfire"

or download it:
Bloodfire


Other Waxables…

Razorlight – Razorlight (Universal)
I’ve only given this a quick listen and it’s quite randy. But Johnny Borrell seems to think that he’s the second coming of John Lennon, so no matter how good this record is I have to say that you are mistaken. Organic production and great songs that sound like a mix of early Modest Mouse, Costello and a less-punky Clash. You can print that.

Journey – Live in Houston 1981: The Escape Tour (DVD/CD) (Columbia/Legacy)
Steve Perry hitting notes like Ike Turner’s temper, Neal Schoen with a denim-encrusted package and Steve Smith wearing jeans up to his armpits. Utterly classic concert. And you can NEVER, EVER get away from “Stone In Love.” Thank you Mark “Darkness” Miller for letting me dance around your living room like a little school girl on myspace.

Dirty Pretty Things – Waterloo To Anywhere (Interscope)
The less-sober Libertine, Carl Barat shows us what it’s like to actually show up to the studio sans crack pipe. The result? A full-on, rocking debut from a band that will hopefully stay away from Kate Moss. Picture an English pub full of hooligans and horny birds grinding their sweat-drenched bodies across a Guiness-soaked floor. They scream “You Fucking Love It.” I scream “Yes I fucking do.” Mentally addictive.

Thom Yorke – The Eraser (XL)
The press can’t seem to remove their firmly-planted mouths from Thom’s johnson, but my jaws hurt so allow me to vent. Yes, this is a good record. However, when I hear a solo effort I expect something that sounds a wee bit different than the artist’s respective band. Does this mean that Thom’s sound is Radiohead’s? Maybe so, but I would love to hear Thom backed by nothing but a guitar, a dollar and a dream. Hey, you never know. Does it mean that Thom and Nigel are lovers that can only hold hands under the blippy, computerized moonlight? Well, that kind of explains thing a bit better. C’mon, Thom. Bring some grime next time.

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