More Short Reviews

I’m In a bad mood and I don’t feel like doing a god damn thing today except listen to a shit load of music. I downloaded a bunch of new stuff recently so I am going to listen to shit and review it as it comes, again. If you don’t like the process, the reviews or the manner in which I do things, kindly, go fuck yourself. I don’t fucking care.

Music is the Enemy
Hollywood Finally
Self Released (free)

I love watching this local quartet (quintet? I don’t know if they have five members still) thrash faces. Music is the Enemy is one of those bands that has it going on. They rock hard, sometimes just thrashing about in chaos, sometimes delivering pummeling riffs ripe with dirty execution. It doesn’t hurt that the band drenched it’s persona in a bit of Nation Of Ulysses worship. Some might find it childish and cliché, but I think it serves a purpose and a point here in the small city in the middle of a desert surrounded by nothing and so isolated in culture creation. It’s clear that Music is the Enemy wants back as much as they give, singing “Nothing in this city ever changes and every dead artist is a poor man’s vindication” on “I’m Danny Tanner Material”. The thing is, despite the cynicism, they deserve the praise and glory. But the bottom line is this is some great punk music, filled to the top with vitriol, piss and gasoline. This five song EP is enough to sustain, but not quite satisfy my need for more stomping. Especially since it’s a step up from their debut full length. It packs a punch while still having that homemade feel, but rather than being owned by drums and vocals the bass and guitar finally get their push in the mix. They lose nothing and gain everything. Not only that, but the riffs herein are fantastic. Karie Morgan is just as much fun to listen to as she is to watch stamp and stomp all over the place. Her rock and roll inspired shredding turns this into a driving ruckus. They’re bringing it all down, singing “This is Hell/But We’re Still Dancing” but having a good time destroying everything.

The Mountain Goats
Transcendental Youth
Merge Records

I’m not gonna lie, I like John Darnielle more as a public figure and as an interview subject then I do as a musician. It’s not that the Mountain Goats (his musical moniker) don’t make great tunes that I find rather pleasant, but  the music mostly just songs the same to me. After the last two albums, All Eternals Dark and The Life of the World To ComeI couldn’t really distinguish what I was listening to. After one listen of Transcendental Youth I think I’m back on board. At least I am with this album. You know, John’s just a great artist to be interested in, even if he isn’t hitting home runs with every album. But this album packs a bit of that great punch that Heretic Pride did. It’s like a twin album or a really close companion. It’s not subdued and subtle, instead it’s full and rich and even has moments of grandeur, like the big horns on “Cry for Judas”. It also feels like they take some rhythmic risks that pay off. I love the groove in “Counterfeit Florida Plates”. It’s got this Paul Simon on Graceland feel to it. It’s so good it’s probably gonna be in like ten shitty indie rom com movies starring Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zoeey Deschanel or who ever we get to replace them next year. Further, there feels like a bigger use of electric organ, keyboard and piano throughout. Really, these choices just make the album sound fuller and gives them energy. I honestly don’t have much memory of the last two, but Transcendental Youth will be filling up the halls of my home for a while.

The Ambulars
Dreamers Asleep at the Wheel
Self Released (Free)

I’m pretty sure that indie pop is making a big come back. What with all this Swearin’ and Big Eyes and like nine hundred bands that Mikey Erg is probably in, pop punk with that indie swing is the shit. This is a late summer album that’s gonna help bring you into fall. It’s catchy, but light and soft. It’s total cuddle music. Michael Cantor has about the sweetest voice that just drips with syrupy love and sad dog eyes. It’s a dreamy kind of awesome rock.The slinky Fender guitar solo on “Teenage Hate” comes at you like some of the best rippers Superchunk ever throw at us. In fact, this is another one of those great bands that really understood the awesome power of the ‘Chunk. Over all, Dreamers Asleep at the Wheel is filled with great song writing, not wasting time and getting you right into. Recorded by Joe Mitra who is the sleeper engineer. I just wish there was a bit more Jen Twigg on this (she did a really great zine or something in a zine that I can’t find or totally recall, if someone wants to jog my memory). But other than that, this is pop perfection.  It’s too bad this band is in two cities (Chicago and Philadelphia) and made of kids going to school. Hopefully the public catches on and they can get an opening slot on a good tour next summer cuz people need to hear this. I’m sure Swearin’ will be huge by then, they should hook these DC ex-pats up!

The Blank Fight
House Band Feud (Reissue)
Silver Sproket Records

So the Blank Fight was a superhero band that has now been launched into mythical proportions. Including zinesters Cindy Crabb and Aaron Cometbus along with future This Bike is a Pipe Bomber Rymodee, all three would go on to different projects and bands that would gain much more acclaim in the DIY punk world. And so this album, released in various formats with various songs gets itself a proper vinyl release. It’s chock full of anthems and dirty rockers knocking people in the faces. This album would serve as a bench mark for a shit ton of Florida bands, The Tim Version doing the best with this sound. Some of Rymoedee’s future is present here, and his style as a guitar player and song writer becomes more defined. We even get a little harmonica on “Old Trick” which has a very Avail style riff. That makes total sense since Avail was kinda like the common language when this band was around. House Band Feud is slightly dated in sound and style, but the updated treatment makes it quite an awesome treat. It’s a history lesson and a great reminder, plus seriously, Cindy Crabb and Aaron Cometbus are like zine heroes playing music together. If that doesn’t get you excited then you should re-evaluate being friends with me.

Arguments with Dreams
Self Released (Free)

If Busdriver isn’t your favorite, motor mouth MC on this odd planet then you clearly aren’t paying attention to hip-hop. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this guy on a big stage where he felt like an alien and on the floor of a DIY space where he seemed more like a professor schooling a group of college kids. Both times his rapid fire vocals which are more like an instrument then a lecture. And so, here he is once again giving his fans some crazy space shit and he brought along Das Racist to get weird on a track with him. Busdriver he’s one of those dudes that pretty much every other rapper things is amazing but somehow the kids don’t seem to get him. Maybe it’s because he’s a bit political and abstract at the same time. Like the best of Picasso, fucked up faces, wide spreads of colors, rich in content but hard to handle, Busdriver gets it done on Arguments With Dreams. The cover says it all, this dude is running on some kinda rocket fuel that’s so crazy he’s gotta wear a dog on his t-shirt.

Turbulent Resurgence
Willowtip Records

When I listen to grindcore I don’t even know why I bother to talk to people who don’t. I don’t even know why I bother writing about it on a blog that like only a few people read and no one cares about. When I listen to grind core I don’t know why anyone talks to me or tries to relate with me or any of that shit because Grind is fucking brutal and smashes faces in and I just don’t think the rest of the world really understands how FUCKED UP everything is like a good grindcore record. Everyone is psyched for the new Pig Destroyer, but I have been eagerly awaiting this new Noisear album with just as much ferocity and blood lust. Turbulent Resurgence does not disappoint with its 23 tracks in under twenty minutes, it does what grind is supposed to do, beat in your brain until it slides down the back of your rotten skull and slides down into your neck, past your spinal column and out your stupid ass. Why am I even bothering with this review. You don’t care that Noisear took a turn away from the tech-grind and went super heavy. You don’t care that the vocals are more vicious and perfectly sit just underneath the pulverizing riffs. You don’t care that the drums are fast and furious but sound more natural and ass kicking while still being totally weird and all over the place. You don’t even care that there are a lot of great brutal metal albums out this year worthy of your attention but that Noisear belongs in rotation among Cattle Decapitation, High on Fire and Municipal Waste. I don’t even know why I bother with you.

Well, that’s all I feel like doing for now. Got some other albums I haven’t even heard yet that I am gonna play here in a minute. I honestly hope that today, I insulted you. If you read this in the future, I am sorry for any bad, mean things I said that hurt your feelings. If you read this today on 10/4/12 and don’t go listen to some awesome music, especially Noisear, then I hope you have a rotten day and fuck off and cry. Shit head. 


Quick Music Reviews

This is a list of stuff I am listening to at present. I am going to jump around a lot here. Short or long or whatever. Like the back of a punk magazine. You know, you should read one.

Bad Banana – Crushfield  – Self Released (FREE). I downloaded this ages ago and just listened to it now, tonight. It’s one of them Crutchfield sisters projects you’ve read about in the NY Times and shit cuz being a hipster treasure now makes you news worthy (not a diss on them or their music, but I bet a lot of dick heads are already talking about what sell outs they are). Anyway, the production on this demo sounds pretty low fi, and if you like that stuff, then you’ll love the syrupy pop-crunch punk with almost 90’s indie sound. For me it worked better for Waxahatchee, the low fi production made it intimate. Here it sounds like something they’ve already grown out of and forgotten.

Propagandhi – Failed States Epitaph Records. I want to love this album like I love the last three albums by Canada’s greatest export (next to toothless hockey players) but I am having a hard time with it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the Prop, so it hits all the points you’d expect. But that’s kind of the problem, it started out with a soft little intro and got all melodic and explosive just like I thought it would. It’s a predictable listen which is not what one expects from these angry anarchists from the north. I love the licks, the riffs, the vocals and the lyrics, but it sounds like the corresponding b-sides to Supporting Caste rather than a fresh effort. I’m trying to find its voice, but I’ll never give up on this band.

Big Eyes Back From The Moon 7″. Grave Mistake Records. There is a comic in Razorcake #69 by Liz Prince who writes the most crush-worthy comics ever. She loves pop punk. She wrote this comic about seeing Big Eyes in NYC. I hate NYC, but I checked out this single and I love it. It’s got that fresh but familiar energy of The Ergs. All the best parts about pop punk and indie rock that makes bands awesome. I also checked out there LP from 2011 (Hard Life) but I like this a bit better. The two songs on this 7″ have a great bit of energy and are just a bit crisper. But you should get into this band if you like to bounce around your living area in your underwear listening to music singing into a hair brush or at yr cats.

White Lung Sorry Deranged. This album smokes. I love this band. This is what music is supposed to be. Energetic, frightening, desperate. White Lung takes you to the edge. I don’t know if I want to kill or cry when I listen to this album. I feel alone, wandering the streets with no purpose, desperate for anything, hand on my pocket knife. No rules. No Cell Phone. Nowhere to go. A lot of bands get recognition outside of punk that is often unwarranted. There are bands that people who have listened and dedicated themselves to the genre know are just temporal and luke warm. White Lung sounds like nothing else and deserve to break the genre ghetto of appreciation. Devastating times call for damaged music. This is what I will be listening to when they finally start that war that ends us all. It’s coming. Here is your soundtrack to die to.

Kamikabe Abberation of Man Unique Leader. This is pure fucking awesome Death Metal and I love it. Working on a metal show I’ve gotten into death metal again and have been revisiting lots of Obituary. This band sounds nothing like them, but reminds me of what it is I first loved about Obituary (who isn’t just one of my favorite metal bands, but one of my favorite bands and Allen West is one of my favorite guitar players). Anyway, Kamikabe kicks it in the face. The kids would probably call this technical death metal. It has some great elements that remind me of Dying Fetus, Cattle Decapitation and Pig Destroyer. But make no mistake, this Pittsburgh five piece is their own band. It’s hard to stand out and be distinguishable in a genre of music that has so many rules and where being tech is so important, but Kamikabe stand out from the crowd.

Aesop Rock Skelathon Rhyme Sayers. It’s an Aesop Rock record, alright. You can’t really say this guy sounds like anything. I don’t even know if it’s hip hop. The musical language that Aesop Rock speaks is his own. And this truly is his album. Almost all the beats, lyrics and sounds are his. Aside from a few vocals from a few other people, he did it all. And it’s a sad sounding album. The Ian Curtis of rap. The Joy Division of hip-hop music. I worry about Ian Bavitz, then he puts out a record and goes on tour.

Swearin’ S/T Salinas Records (FREE). This is a first listen review. Literally listening to it for the first time. It did not come with a download code when I bought the record so I had to find this on the internet, which I was able to over at for donation/free. There is a lot of hype about this record and it’s not unfounded. It reminds me off some Discount, Superchunk, The Promise Ring, and a lot of pop-rock indie music that I don’t listen to that much anymore. It’s got that same feel as early Lemuria singles before they went all weird. Swearin’ might be a braver bet, making music that is catchy and accessible. It can be hard to wade in waters already tread and try to find new, interesting stones, but Swearin’ here seems to have confidence in what they are doing. Great work on the warbling vocals too. Someone earns a gold star on mixing for this one. Best aspect of the production that is otherwise straight forward.

Stop Breathing S/T No Idea Records. CHUGGAGHUGGAGHUGGAGHUGGAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Are you looking to have your mind blown or are you looking to pedal your ten speed bike as fast as you can down your street like you did when you were ten? IF you want the later, this skate rock inspired, three chord SOCAL punk rock will make you wish for those endless summer days when you didn’t care about anything but 50-50 Stalls on the curb and building the worst launch ramps in history. Nothing fancy, just the essentials. Dated but still timeless. Get those rat bones out kid, yr gonna need the big wheels to grind those curbs.

Post-Teens The Heat No Idea Records. Post Teens has the guitar player from Asshole Parade/Dead Friends +more so I thought this was gonna be heavy, but it’s more like the sloppy, low-fi, pop punk for drunk old dudes that my man Todd Taylor is all into. Oh yeah a dude from Shitstorm/Torche is in this band too. But like they all switch up on instruments and shit. It’s just punk rock music. Six songs, six minutes, it’s a good quick fix. I still wish it was a grind record, but I get the point.

Low Culture S/T Dirt Culture Records (FREE). Ex-member of Shang-A-Lang from Las Cruces New Mexico where they have a place where bands come through and tour instead of Albuquerque because Duke City is a weird town with a weird scene. Jangly guitars, catchy little ditties with a bit of space in there to build some excitement. Gets a little late 90’s pop-emo (the break down in “I Didn’t Know”) for a moment. Bryan Adams would be proud. Or maybe Ryan Adams would be cuz I think these dudes would just be like fuck it. It’s kinda all over the place, kinda like the Ergs because they had a lot of influences. I think they are still exploring all the sounds they are capable of. There’s enough here to make me check them out in the future.

Dan Padilla Sports Fans Dirt Culture Records (FREE). Dan Padilla (the band, not the man) has once again put out an album you can get free. Which makes two in a row. Davey from Tiltwheel/Too Many Daves plays in this band. This album, not quite as exciting as As the Ox Plows. It’s a little too Tim Version without the grit and grime. I liked the hints of sounds and influences of the last album. But I’m just kind of luke warm to this one.

Heathers  Kingdom Aunthill Records. I’m pretty sure that Heathers are the biggest thing in Ireland now and it’s well worth it. Kingdom finds the Macnamara sisters reaching way far out from their humble debut Here Not There. Luckily for me (or them?) I am a huge pop diva fan, because they get in some territory I did not expect, but I love. The bare sound of  an acoustic guitar and vocals are all but gone here. Instead they go all out, relying on a heavy dose of piano and dance beats to make their music now. But the root of what makes Heathers a band that I love is the vocals of Ellie and Louise. The melodies and harmonies are beautiful and striking. So when the duo makes this obvious move to go bigger, they don’t really sacrifice what makes them great, empowering lyrics, solid songs at the core and great singing. I mean masterful singing. This album has been on constantly in my home over the last week and probably will be for quite some time. It’s proof that pop music can be big and grand and sound slick and still be good, if you know how to write a damn song. Ellie and Louise do. I can’t wait to see them rise to heights as great as their talent.

XX Coexist Young Turks. I haven’t been lucid enough before going to bed to really listen to this album the way I want to. But what I have heard so far, I love. I shouldn’t love this. It’s too pretty, weird, soft and subtle for a man in his mid thirties who still thinks BEING LOUD AS FUCK is a good idea. Other reviews that I have read call this record even more minimal than their self titled debut, but I don’t find it that way at all. I think there is a subtle quality to the production that is amazing. It also helps that this trio fell in love with Sade, whose work I am both familiar with and a fan of. The influence shines through on some of their “bigger” songs (“Swept Away” and “Reunion”). This album also has a shit load more space in which the band finds a grove. The debut, while beautiful often felt restricted. For all its empty space, Coexist sounds like a big record. I need to spend more time with this, I feel like it’s getting lost in my collection and I’m pretty sure I love it as much as the first album, just like everyone else.

Tooth Soup Casting off Curses Plan-It-X (only $.66). Chris Clavin is back with a new punk band, but it sounds more like a collective effort then many of his previous works. He’s letting the influence of the other members into his music, songs and lyrics and it’s refreshing. He does what he always does best with the boy/girl vocals of hope, optimism, angst and disappointment wrapped up in a cutting but pleasant bit of pop punk. Tooth Soup probably won’t be your instant favorite, and it wouldn’t be the album I would use to introduce Chris’s work to others with. But it shows maturity in sonic range and will grow on you quickly. The other thing I like is that each member gets a track to share their individuality. All the members have other projects and each gets to display their singularity. It’s a great way to show how it all comes together, how each members sensibility and perspective comes together through insight, communication and compromise to make a whole. That’s pretty damn daring.

Verse Bitter Clarity,Uncommon Grace Bridge 9. I’m not really sure how I feel about this band. I must like them because I keep finding my way to this album. I haven’t looked at a lyric sheet yet, but it feels like that awesome La Dispute record that came out last year that I am in love with (Wildlife, get it here for $8 you won’t regret it if you like stories and came of age in the 90’s). But it feels like this dude has something to say, I just wish I would take the time to figure it out. It’s definitely an album that’s all connected and shit. The songs don’t stand on their own, but become something as a whole piece. There is something distinct and exact about this album that I can’t quite put my finger on. Lots of guitar solos too, which seems weird yet weirdly works here.

Gaza No Absolutes in Human Suffering Blackmarket Activities. From Salt Lake City, Utah, I was really stretched (and still am) how a band could call themselves Gaza. I haven’t done my research yet, but a few people assured me this wasn’t a bunch of straight edge mormon dip shits playing at hardcore and considering my tastes for metal and grindcore I would probably dig this. It’s not the most slaughtering music I have ever heard and it gets a bit metalcore at times (which is a BAD THING) but when they decide to be brutal and awesome and dig the grind, it’s something my ears and angry heart are attracted to. The verdict is still out (two songs reach over six minutes, which even at pummeling speeds seems excessive to me) because I just can’t blindly trust a bunch of privileged white boys who call themselves Gaza. That’s some heavy geo-political implications they are making there. Takes balls. Lets see if they have the ovaries to back that shit up.

What Happened to Indie Rock in 2010?

Most regular readers of this blog probably think I am nothing more than a fat, drunken imbecile who only likes drunken punk rock. And that isn’t far from the truth. But, my musical awakening in Washington DC was not just ushered in by Minor Threat but also by the insatiable pop rock of Unrest. In fact, I was more a fan of Teen Beat than Dischord in my formidable years and it probably wasn’t until my mid twenties, when I first became a home owner, that I really started a deeper dive into punk rock. Sure I had Black Flag, the Misfits and even by then a good part of the Dischord catalog pre-1987 to my name. But I have Teen Beat records that no one should own. Like the Romania 7″ or Tel Aviv’s first album. Not that they are bad, but they are the epitome of 90’s indie rock that put kids on a path of destruction.

However, especially over the last few years, indie rock, that is, the lighter side of independent music has vastly fallen off the radar. I’ve explored Metal and Hip Hop more and more and tried to find more far out sounds. The straight forward, relatively soft sounds that indie pop had to offer started to feel boring. After Unrest and then the short-lived Air Miami I started looking at other local bands to fill my ears with. Indie rock just kind of started to suck.

So what is this little rant all about. Well this week I purchased three records by some indie rock staples who are, in one way or another still churning them out. Scotland’s Belle and Sebastian kicked out a pink covered missive, Indie Rock Network Gods Superchunk recently returned to the recorded spectrum and former Sleater-Kinney wailer, both vocally and on the guitar, Corin Tucker produced her first solo album. And, as you will soon read, the results are mixed. Part of me feels really good to be in the familiar, but part of me recognizes that the over saturated market place has created a different landscape for these now grown kids to exist in. There is more competition now to get heard and more importantly to get those snot nosed fucking kids to actually buy the music. A decade ago, these three bands would easily be the highlights of the year and the concept of them all having albums out so close to each other would have been mind numbing. But now the founders, ground breakers and forbearers of  not just a musical style, but a whole way of life and ethics are unfortunately part of an ocean of shit. Without further ado, strap down, grab a mountain dew, kiss your children, cuz we are gonna fucking go for it

Majesty Shredding
Merge Records

I first read about Superchunk in Spin Magazine, one springish, summer day in my parents suburban, Northern Virginia Home. Instantly their North Carolina based Merge Records reminded me of my beloved Teen Beat and the description of their then released album Foolish was tantalizing. I headed to the local Kemp Mill records for a purchase of said record (I also bought a Government Issue compilation that sounded like shit) as soon as possible. The opening of that album turned my brain inside out. It was both punk rock and pop luscious. Aggressive but sexy. The album, at it’s most basic level, kicked serious ass. My friends and I traded copies of it and that summer we saw them at the Black Cat the night before we were heading to Lolapalooza and they DESTROYED. Laura Balance played bass like an angry Kim Colleta and bounced around with equal abandon. Guitarist Jim Wilbur was a fucking rock star, fingers punching holes in the fret boards as he laid down sweet guitar licks. We all pogoed like well-behaved white people should, but it was sweaty and fun none the less and good not top any of the bands we saw the next night, save for their own performance on the side stage that we immediately caught. Superchunk were fast, smart, sassy, witty and could play really, really well, which was sometimes regarded as novelty back then. They were musicians who actually knew what they were doing instead of making it up as they went along like so many of their peers.

A few years later, I kinda fell off the bandwagon. None of the albums I heard that preceded or followed Foolish lived up to those feelings.  Maybe it was a time and a place, maybe it was bands that came out in the wake of that record, clearly inspired by The ‘Chunk with their own spin that kept my attentions diverted. But by 1997, a slew of singles, compilations and a record I wasn’t totally comfortable with (Here’s Where the Strings Come In has some of their best songs, but also some of their most overwrought in my opinion) I had moved past the band.

So you know, it’s been a while since I’ve even really thought about Superchunk. And I am not gonna lie, I’m still left a little bitter about the whole thing. This is why, and this is criticism you probably will not read anywhere else, the mastering on this record absolutely sucks. Now I know what your thinking, “Dude what the fuck is mastering? Either the songs are good or they aren’t!” and I will address both those points in a second. Mastering is the balance of the sound on an album. It dictates the levels of sound waves, the highs, the lows and all in between. It also helps determine the volume of all of these things. The hotter (or higher) the mastering job, the louder everything gets. The louder everything gets the more detail you lose. So, for me, a not really that learned listener, this shit is too hot. If I have to turn down my stereo to listen to a Superchunk album, somebody fucked up. Pig Destroyer, Slayer, Cannibal Corpse they are not. They are Superchunk, with driving, upbeat, high tempo songs that are supposed to be pleasant to listen to.

Now, what does this have to do with the music? Everything! Part of Superchunk’s appeal is the nuance of the music. It’s not just blistering, blazing and barking. There is a finesse, a sexiness to it all. Hormones are raging for sure, but the music has always had a classy way of presenting itself. When everything is so fucking loud, that nuance is gone. The parts that make Superchunk the predecessors of modern independent music get buried in the mix.

There are moments that reign through. I miss Mac McCaughan’s warble, his vocals have definitely matured or aged, depending on if these performances are intentional or not, but he’s got the strength to carry another performance all the way through. And some of the songs on here are just as great as some of the earliest material. “My Gap Feels Weird” which has Mac twitching his voice out on the chorus is probably one of my favorite songs by the group now. “Learned to Surf” features some of his classic lyrics and is a solid stomper. And of course “Winter Games” is by the book Superchunk and showcases a band that has not missed a beat.

There is nothing musically about Majesty Shredding that indicates Superchunk are trying to reassert themselves. There is no left field collaborations, overshadowing experimentation with drum machines, or letting of the drummer sing to try to catch people’s attentions or break out of the mold. Superchunk knows what they do well and they wrote songs that show that. However, I can’t help but think that the post production decisions were not in part influenced by a changing marketplace. Something about this feels like the band is trying to seek a new audience, burning up the space to give the kids what their fucked up ears are used to. The tragedy in this is that the kids don’t buy records, but us old folks still do. And our old ears, we can’t take this shitty mastering. So yea, we may buy the album, but we won’t be singing along when you come through town.

Belle and Sebastian
Write About Love

Admittedly, I am not the world’s biggest Belle and Sebastian fan. In fact, this is the first album of theirs that I have purchased in the new section since their breakthrough smash Boy With the Arab Strap (see, I wasn’t kidding when I was talking earlier about breaking up with the indie scene). Through friends and the used store I have collected their complete works, because I know a lot of people who love the fuck out of this band. Belle and Sebastian are just one of those bands that well-mannered, middle of the road, boring white people love. I think this is because they are non-threatening, non-controversial and, most importantly, totally brilliant.

Over the last three years, my appreciation for the band has increased. High Profile exposure from the film Juno and being introduced to The Life Pursuit certainly increased my enjoyment of this band and made me reconsider their music as more than weirdo, slacker rock with a cooky singer. You know, sometimes the onslaught of metal, grinding hip hop and sloppy punk rock is just too much, so chilling out to some Scottsmen and women.

Well, now they have a new album out and frankly Write About Love should be called How to Be A Dirty Hippie in Eleven Easy Steps because they really lay on the 70’s sugar pop on this one. They do it to great effect and frankly, this album is a grower and now a shower. At first I thought it was pappy crap. But it’s the details that matter most of all. Sure, Belle and Sebastian will probably never be the quirky indie pop band they used to be. It seems they are saturated in swanky organs and up strummed guitars lifting up the high registers. But man, they do it well. And let’s face it, Stuart Murdoch is a great fucking singer.

But there are some road blocks on this album. First track, “I Didn’t See it Coming” is totally sung by the wrong member. I am not insinuating that Sarah Martin can’t sing and this is not some bash against her. It’s just such an obvious and classic Murdoch song and I think he would have delivered a stronger performance here. A switching of roles would have done this great. Then, seriously, Norah Jones guys? She’s boring and lifeless and kills some great lyrics on “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John. In fact, that’s where I would have put Sarah Martin had anyone had the decency to produce this album. But nobody did. And there is just something off about “I’m Not Living In the Real World”. It’s just too swanky, mid 70’s budget movie. That song just bugs the fuck out of me. I like the break down riff in it, but I can’t take the Monkee’s styled vocals. Ungh.

And it’s precisely these decisions that I doubt. The guest vocals of Carey Mulligan on the title track seems like a natural, fitting collaboration. I don’t doubt that Murdoch and Co didn’t immediately think of Jones for the album, but it comes off feeling forced. And some of the more straight ahead influences from days past leave a little to be desired. I’d prefer more of the Belle and Sebastian stamp all together. But perhaps that’s the whole point. How long can a band exist at a certain level and still make a living. Putting out an album after a five-year hiatus is a daunting task, no matter how well-loved you are and can be a bold career move. Belle and Sebastian have never been a dangerous band,  but even for them Write About Love feels just a bit too safe and familiar in some places, and too forced in all the wrong places.

The Corin Tucker Band
1,000 Years
Kill Rock Stars

I’m not even totally sure what to make of this album to be quite honest with you. When figure heads from bands go solo it ends one of two ways, usually. Either their true genius shines through and it’s determined that the band they were in truly was holding them back. I can’t cite a specific example of this because I don’t think it happens that often. The other road is that you find out, that lead singer or whatever you thought was so amazing was not as good as the sum of the parts behind them. Kele from Bloc Party released a luke-warm solo album this year. It has all the elements about Kele that I like, but it misses all the other great things that go on to the left, right and behind him that I like. Travis Morrison struck out on his own, and while we got his same sensibilities and playfulness, he never found people to match the power of the other guys in the band. Sure he was the principle, but no one plays bass like Eric Axelson on this planet.

So Corin Tucker’s first effort three years out of Sleater Kinney is an interesting endeavor. Now, I’m not gonna lie, I just got this album last night. I had to drive to my old house to pick up my misdelivered Amazon package the held the record. I listened to half of it late last night as I was reading Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution and then the whole thing on my rainy drive into work this morning. I am struck by how utterly different it is from Sleater Kinney. There is very little familiar in this album to me. In fact Corin Tucker’s voice sounds less like Corin Tucker then before.

None of this should be conceived as a bad thing. She doesn’t exceed Sleater Kinney here, but this is a very new voice for Tucker. This is not surprising really from a woman who was part of Dig Me Out which was such a great coming of age album where three people really begun to learn what they wanted to do together. Nor does it seem impossible for a person who was part of The Woods which was such a face fuck album with amazing guitar playing and totally unique song writing.

At times 1,000 Years feels like Corin is playing it safe. But in that moment, I realize that she’s never really wrote a fairly straight forward song before. Hearing her pick on an acoustic guitar is a totally new experience, simply because that instrument is in her hands. Countering that is “Half a World Away” which is such an interesting approach that I don’t quite know what to make of it. It’s something totally new once again that sounds neither like I’ve ever heard from this artists and yet it’s a product that I am not surprised she produced.

Corin Tucker is nearly Waits-like on 1,000 Years. It contains a language of music that is almost completely different from this artist’s past. And where it is more straight forward, it has Tucker’s great new singing voice on it. There are always enough twists and turns in the songs too that keep them curious and playful. Sleater Kinney was a dangerous, controversial band. Not because they were three women, or even that they were three women that “could actually play”. But because they made music no one else could have possibly made. They took so many chances in their career and never put out  records that people thought they should, they never repeated themselves. And all of that paid off for the band. 1,000 Years may not have been the far out exploration that people expected, but it’s a pretty solid, totally surprising album. No song sounds the same, but there is a context throughout the entire record.

KYS Presents Episode Ten – The “FUCK” Episode

Brought to you by the Korrupt Yr Self Church to the One Holy Scripture, One Word Long: Fuck. All Praise the Beautiful Word! Find it here.

A Fucking Intro
I Like Fucking – Bikini Kill
Welcome to another fucking episode of the Korrupt Yr Self Fucking Pod Cast You Sloppy Fuck
I Think We Should Fuck – Dead Teenagers
Hard Fucking – Tenacious D
Bravo, Another Beautiful “Fuck You” Song – Paint It Black
Mope Is A Fucking Piece of Shit – The Most Secret Method
Fuck on Off – Getaway Car
Where’s the Fucking Lyric Sheet – Guyana Punch Line
Home Fucking is Killing Prostitution – Guyanna Punch Line
Fuck This and Fuck That and Fuck That Dude With a Fucking French Hat
Thunderstorms Still Make Me Want to Fuck – A New Spelling of My Name
Fuck The Kids – NOFX
Fuck the Kids II – NOFX
Fuck the Kids (Revisited) – NOFX
Fuckuturn – Kid Dynamite
Fuck This, I’m Out – Off W/Their Heads
Go Fuck Your Self – Hammell on Trial
Who the Fuck – Now Sleepyhead
Fuck, is that stupid fuck still fucking talking? Fuck Me.
Don’t Say Motherfucker, Motherfucker – Turbonegro
Slack Motherfucker – Superchunk
Fuck the Border – Propaghandi
Bottom Line: Fuck You – Ruiner
Well, I’m sorry to say, but this is the end of the show, and I’ve never been more sad to say good bye. I really and truly want to cry because I enjoyed my self so much with this episode.
Fuck this Shit – Belle and Sebastian