Fall 2008: Music
Ok, time to break from the campaign, drink some wine and talk about music. Here are some of the platters that have been engaging me the most this fall:
Metallica Death Magnetic
The much-touted return to form from the once-mighty Metallica is indeed a kick to listen to. Apparently Rick Rubin used his Jedi mind tricks to get the band to think it was 1986 again -- and the ruse almost worked. Even though these cats will never, ever, ever be what they were 20 years ago (duh), Death Magnetic should at least encourage the obituary writers to put their pencils away for another couple of years. Nothing but Metal with a capital M here -- killer riffs galore (my favorite arrives at 3:58 of the album's second song "End Of the Line"), long arrangements and a mix that's so buried in the red, it clips (Ted Jensen, the mastering engineer, had his name withheld from the credits). And Kirk Hammett, making up for past abuses and lost time, hate-fucks every song with shrapnel-blast guitar solos. Good for him.
Ben Folds Way To Normal
In recent reviews, Ben Folds has been chastised for carrying his patented adolescent snark (made famous in his old band Ben Folds Five) into his 40s. I suppose that could be a problem if you're married to the guy, but I do still love his piano-pounding power-pop tunes (Folds is a master songwriter) and enjoy his state of emotional arrested development...from this comfortable distance.
(Whatever and Ever Amen still rules, btw)
And Also the Trees Green Is the Sea
Gotta thank my old friend Jeff from Pennsylvania for posting this CD to me just in time for fall. AATT remind me of Echo and the Bunnymen, Cocteau Twins, and tempests of swirling autumn leaves on steely-skied October days. If you want to know the kind of trouble Jeff and I get up to in our spare time, check out our fake black metal band.
Cibo Matto Stereo Type A
Thanks Joe for loaning me this (and several other discs on this list!). I've been loving Cibo Matto's first album Viva La Woman for years n' years but never bought this, their second effort. It's not as consistent as their debut, but the highlights are unbelievable, particularly the bumping hip-hop NYC travelogue "Sci-Fi Wasabi", which shines so brightly, it's blinding.
The Netherlands Gato Au Chocolat
A few months ago, my dear friend Hannah called and invited me to see her play bass/synth with this band The Netherlands at the Rock Star Bar, here in Williamsburg. I went to the show and had my clock cleaned -- they became my new favorite Brooklyn band, bar none. Wonderful terrifying guitar noise with screams, shrieks, Moog synths, leather masks and really fucking amazing musicianship. Timo Ellis, the genius mastermind/singer/guitarist of the band, is a multi-instrumentalist visionary, who, oddly enough, was once a member of Cibo Matto (he's all over the aforementioned Stereo Type A album). He's put out many records under various names, including The Netherlands, Gluttonius and The Off Scene.
Come see this band.
Fire Zuave Sand Fastened
I played on a bill with these Floridians during Meanyfest a few weeks ago (at Arlene's Grocery) and really enjoyed their melodic and rough-hewn indie-rock. So much so that I caught them a couple nights later at Trash. Their singer/guitarist Chuck Andrews was kind enough to give me a copy of their current release, Sand Fastened, which reminds me of the kinds of bands that populated the Ace of Hearts label in the 80s (Del Fuegos, Lyres). His cousin is the main guy from Of Montreal (forget his name).
Autolux Future Perfect
If this band had a target audience in mind when they made this album, then my back may as well be painted over in red concentric circles. Autolux do unisex shoegaze guitar art rock better than any band since Pink Noise Test (a shiny nickel to anyone who remembers that band). And "Angry Candy" owes at least a few nickels to Sonic Youth's "Sugar Cane". Produced by T-Bone Burnett.
Bozzio Levin Stevens Black Light Syndrome
Attention normal people: this record will probably bore you. But music geeks who love hearing instrumental virtuosi stretch out over voice-less compositions that last forever will drool over this confluence of head-cutters Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel) and Terry Bozzio (Zappa, Missing Persons). Each is frighteningly good at his craft, a fact that is more than amply clear by the time the 14:37-long opening track reaches its halfway mark. It does get a bit wanky at times, but there are some lovely moments, like the ornate "Back of Hours".
In Flagranti Wronger Than Anyone Else
My favorite Brooklyn dance act of the moment -- this whole CD is a visceral disco blast which inspired me to write a song or two of my own in the late summer (with favorable results, btw!!). Lots of divas, dirty words and kick drums that crush my skull. I found out about my neighbors by listening to Pandora.com.
USSA The Spoils
Spearheaded by two veterans of abrasive rock, ex-Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison and ex-Ministry bassist Paul Barker, USSA offers up a satisfactorily anti-social puree of nihilism, cold textures and industrial-era angst. The key players' musical smarts generally succeed in lifting their material from the quagmire of post-NIN generica, but not always.
Once again, Motorhead soldier on, impervious to trends, climate change or fashion. No surprises here, but a solid set, as post-millenial 'Head goes. All the usual subjects are touched on: sex, life on the road, injustice and war. Lemmy lies, btw, when he claims to eschew politics in his music; at least one song per album throws politicians under the bus ("When the Eagle Screams", this time).
Thanks, Mean Joe!