Recent Release Round-Up:
Yes, I am still alive - just been really bogged down the past month with real life details like trying to juggle work, lots of writing, and keeping some semblance of a sanity restoring social life. For my first post-hiatus entry, I'll take a look at some of the recent records I've been spinning and exactly what I think of them.
Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (Domino)
These guys have been pretty much unavoidable in all the usual music forums over the past few months and with good reason, as they've managed to completely storm the British charts and are preparing to start making waves here in the States (starting with an SNL appearance in a few weeks). This debut managed to become the UK's fastest selling debut since some little band by the name of Oasis dropped their debut in 1994, and the first two singles have both gone straight to number one. So are they worth getting excited over? For the most part. This is by no means going to stand up as a classic album in the vein of Definitely Maybe or even Up The Bracket, but it is far more enjoyable than detractors would lead you to believe. There's nothing more than a group of kids having some fun and singing about what they know best - lusting after girls, running from the cops, and observing the seedy side of nightlife from a safe distance. The key part is the fun they are having, which gives these tunes a level of spunk and vitality that is all too often missing from current rock radio.
Recommended Tracks: "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor", "A Certain Romance", "Fake Tales of San Francisco"
Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies (Merge)
Considering how much has already been written about the latest album from sometimes New Pornographer Dan Bejar, there's really very little worthwhile for me to add other than echoing all of the praise and hype Rubies has received. This is definitely my favorite album of this young year so far and a very likely contender to finish in the top ten come the end of 2006. Bejar is a true craftsman when it comes to his albums, welding his intelligent and oftentimes witty meta-lyrics to dense instrumentation that engages from note one. I'd really be hard pressed to pick just one favorite moment off of this disc, but the lead in to the guitar solo that kicks in after the "she needs to feel at peace with her father, the fucking maniac" line in "European Oils" would probably come the closest - still gives me chills after fifteen listens.
Recommended Tracks: "European Oils", "Painter In Your Pocket", "Rubies"
She Wants Revenge - She Wants Revenge (Geffen)
People sometimes accuse me of liking far too many things that I talk about on this blog, wondering if I'm just easy to please or scared to slam albums or songs. The simple answer is that I really prefer to spend my free time writing about things I enjoy, it just seems rather pointless to waste time and energy on stuff I don't really like when I'm writing for "fun". But since I've decided to start doing this recent release round-up thing, I figured I should give some of the stuff I didn't find so exciting some space as well. The self-titled debut by She Wants Revenge falls squarely into the "didn't enjoy" camp, in fact I'd have to say that it is quite possible the worst album I've heard in months. Ripping off Interpol and Bauhaus with vaguely misogynist lyrics over weak new-wave "beats" is pretty much a horrible idea for anyone to undertake, let alone for a pair as uninteresting and uninspired as these former rappers are. The Bravery may have been posers too, but at least they cranked out one worthwhile single. To be fair, the single "Tear You Apart" isn't completely awful, but its pretty hard to wash the stink off the ten tracks of shit you have to wade through to get to it.
Recommended Tracks: "Tear You Apart" (that's it, avoid the album and download it from iTunes)
Kid Rock - 'Live' Trucker (Atlantic)
Any live album that uses Bob Seger for artistic inspiration has to be pretty rock-tastic, right? Well, in this case the answer is an unfortunate no. Hate all you want, but I managed to catch the Kid during the tour from which this album is pulled and I have to admit that the guy puts on one hell of an entertaining show. Problem is, this particular show recorded in front of a hometown crowd at Cobo Hall completely fails to capture the energy and fun of the one I witnessed. Rather than sounding like an inspired party guy, Rock sounds winded and tired through most of this set as he passes lines back and forth with his band. "Bawitdaba" and "American Badass" still manage to pack a punch and Gretchen Wilson taking the Sheryl Crow part in "Picture" works pretty well, but most of the rest of this set falls disappointingly flat. This could have been a great chance to show the doubters how far he's come as an entertainer and showman, but this will only confirm the suspicions that he's a washed-up rap-rock has-been. Which is a shame, because as anyone who head his self-titled 2003 album knows, the guy has far too much talent to be lumped in the same category as Fred Durst.
Recommended Tracks: "Bawitdaba", "Son Of Detroit", "Picture"