Thursday, November 13, 2003

Moving and music

Moving happens in a week. I'm freaked out both by the amount of stuff I have to move and by the lack of all the stuff it seems like I need (beds, dish drainers, olive oil, shampoo). I'm trying to ignore the lack of stuff and focus on packing (not that I've done that yet).

Instead of packing, I've been buying lots and lots of music. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my discount at the label will last as long as the label does... once you're Parasol, you're always Parasol, it seems. This didn't deter me from buying up lots and lots of CDs last week, though. You want half-assed reviews, you say? Well here they are:

I don't quite get all these claims that Julian Casablancas is as surly and distant as ever on Room on Fire. The lad was talking about not caring and being out that door a few years ago, but now he's asking his girl to skip the party and drink a nice forty with him. To accompany this new romantic mood, the band has decided to jump forward a decade; instead of the old dirty-ugly fuzzy early-70s sound from Is This It, they've moved solidly into Ric Ocasek territory. It serves the mood well--after all, Debbie Harry proved that one can be pretty as can be and still exude new wave misery.

General complaints--there are some great songs, but the back end of the album is a long, smoke-filled haze of very similar songs. As much as I love Albert Hammond (he just gets scuzzier every time I see him--I really do hope he turns into the Strokes' Keith Richards), the one song where he collaborates on the lyrics, "Between Love & Hate", was the weakest song on the album. Do you really need two people to write lyrics this boring? And do we really need to see Julian's (seemingly waxed) chest on the lyrics page? (I will ignore Ms. Alaska's howls here.)

I must admit, the only GBV I'd owned previously were cassettes of Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes from way back when. I really liked them, but I lost them before I graduated from high school, and didn't pay much mind to it... until I went crazy and bought the Hardcore UFOs box set last week. (This is what you do when you have a discount!) I haven't gone through all the CDs yet, but that's because I can stop listening to the greatest hits CD, Human Amusements at Hourly Rates. It's been said before, but I'll say it again--Robert Pollard might do a little better with some editing, and this edition proves it. Even the strong GBV albums always have at least a couple tracks that are random and bad rather than random and sublime, and this disc is a testament to the fact that Robert Pollard can do a little self-editing when he wants. (Though he does still mix things up a little--the box-set edition of this disc is chronological, while RP shuffles things in the independent-release version, and also chooses some alternate versions of tracks that are found elsewhere on the box set.) But enough with the negatives--this is just a fabulous disc. It spans from 1987 up to Earthquake Glue, and really brings out strong tracks from later albums, which have apparently been a little less killer and a little more filler. I must admit I'm not totally familiar with the newer stuff--I'm still dealing with "I Am a Tree" being DAMN NEAR FIVE MINUTES LONG, which makes it their "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands". Fun stats! Songs of length:

0:00-0:59: 1
1:00-1:59: 9
2:00-2:59: 15
3:00-3:59: 6
4:00-4:59: 1

average song length: 2:15

So, um, The Rapture really, really, really like the Cure, a lot. And, um, they like to count (they use counting as lyrics in 3 of the 11 songs on this album, including the chestnut "1234567, I'm floating in constant heaven." Apart from counting, their biggest hit has three lines, two of which are only used twice. They have some incredibly stupid package art, unless you consider several differently-tinted copies of B&W pictures of the band looking very sincere and intense as they play laid out next to each other to be something other than incredibly stupid. Also, they really, really like the Cure. They also use the term "conversating".

That being said, the album is not completely without redeeming features. It's just not very redeemable as an album. There are two really great dance-punk numbers--"Olio" and "House of Jealous Lovers". Yes, this song only has three lines other than counting--"house of jealous lovers" (though I think "jealous lovers' house" might be brought up, I'm not counting it), "shakedown", and "one hand ties the other"--and I don't even understand how that last line works--but it will get your booty shaking. Boys, release a single, not an album. And listen to some music other than the Cure. Maybe you can trade Interpol for their Joy Division albums! You'll like them, I swear! They're moody and British, too! And their lead singer killed himself instead of getting old and flabby. Look into it!

Another short note--everyone who's ever purchased a Matador album should sprint out and buy the re-release of the New Pornographers' debut, Mass Romantic, if only to hear Neko Case's amazing vocals on "Letter from an Occupant." I bought a copy of Blacklisted recently, too, but I haven't had time to really listen to it that well yet. Maybe later I'll talk about that, as well as the five bajillion freebie CDs I have strewn about.