Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mouse on Marrs

Let me first say that many other news sites will copy that headline, but you saw it here first, people!

Concerning Modest Mouse's newest album, this piece of news is particularly juicy:

"As of June 26, 2006, the band has finished its recording in Oxford, MS at Sweet Tea (Dennis Herring) and has returned to Portland, OR to finish overdubs and mixing of the latest album. Johnny Marr is a confirmed member of the band, co-writing songs for the new album with Isaac Brock." (link)

I love it! Marr is long overdue for playing in another popular band where he can perhaps match the output of Morrissey's recent, wonderful Ringleader of the Tormentors.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Videotape On Videotape

Earlier this summer, I resolved to not listen to The Eraser leak nor listen to bootlegs of new Radiohead songs. Needless to say, following my review of The Eraser, I have something to write about Radiohead's new material.

I am currently in love with the track "Videotape," a spiritual successor to "Pyramid Song." The backdrop is similar: Yorke is standing at the gates of heaven, looking back on the finer moments of his life gathered on videotape. Beginning with just Thom's vocals and his piano, the song builds as each band member contributes to this breathtaking epic. Any concerns about the quality of the new album can be put to rest. "Videotape" is the new "Street Spirit," "Exit Music," "How To Disappear Completely," or "Sail to the Moon."

The song is beyond beautiful. Have a listen.

When I'm at the pearly gates
This will be on my videotape, my videotape
Mephistopheles is just beneath
and he's reaching up to grab me

This is one for the good days
and i have it all here
In red, blue, green
Red, blue, green

You are my center
When i spin away
Out of control on videotape
On videotape

This is my way of saying goodbye
Because I can't do it face to face

No matter what happens now
I won't be afraid
Because I know today has been the most perfect day I've ever seen.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Summer of Sound

About those reviews I promised.

The Eraser
and Black Holes and Revelations are finally here, and I can definitely say this: The Eraser has prettier album art.

What else can I say about The Eraser? It's just a fucking good album. It bears most resemblance to Kid A: sparse in instrumentation, bursting with layers of sound, glitchy electronic beats, cut and paste samples, and themes of isolation and paranoia. All tracks are solid, with the exception of "Skip Divided." Sandwiched between four stellar tracks on both sides, this stream-of-conciousness rant about a former lover does not hold its own weight.

Like all Muse albums previous, Black Holes and Revelations houses its fair share of singles. "Supermassive Black Hole" is a bit silly, but an absolute stomper of a tune that brings to mind Prince, with its guitar hooks and falsetto vocals. This further proves my theory that I love Prince songs when they are not written or performed by Prince (see my retrospective of Midnite Vultures). Other possible singles include the piano-driven "Starlight" and closer "Knights of Cydonia," which harkens back to classic seventies-hair-band mega-ballads. Even better, Bellamy does it in a style that befits his band, not in a cheap, mimicky manner (see Wolfmother). Had BH&R came earlier in Muse's discography, say between Showbiz and Origin of Symmetry, I would have no hesitation labeling it a classic in its own right. The problem is, it follows right after the earth-shattering third album, Absolution. The album simply does not gel together the way Absolution does, nor is the song writing quite up to snuff with Origin. The album is marred by two truly awful songs right in the middle, easily the worst in Muse's catalog. The first is "A Soldier's Song," with its painfully obvious, unchallenging protest lyrics over an overused, familiar arpeggio line. To their credit, the opener "Take a Bow" is a proper protest song that nullifies the importance of this track. Immediately following is "Invincible," which has the worst lyrics Matt Bellamy has ever penned. What is intended to be a rousing anthem comes off as a Saturday morning cartoon, feel-good cheesefest. Despite those setbacks, BH&R demands to be heard. Bellamy continues to handle the band's over-the-top operatics with coolness and confidence. BH&R features more of the same from the kings of space rock, which is both good and bad. You can hear some hints of the band moving in new directions, but they never actually take off. New sounds brought in are still in the company of all the band's old tricks. It can be a frustrating listen for someone hoping to hear something new and exciting, just to settle with exciting. Preconceived notions aside, Muse has crafted a damn fine album, that, for the most part, can stand with their best work.