I keep saying this is a great year for music, and it is, and some of the reviews below continue to reflect that fact, but some of them merely showcase solidly average offerings. And one review is of a disc I really wish the artist could recall since it sullies my fond memories of their earlier efforts. Anyway, onwards.
Be Your Own Pet – Get Damaged EP
Seriously? these songs were banned from the American release of their last album? Doesn’t that make total sense for a Major in these parts? I can just see the boardroom discussion: “Well, there’s these three songs, and they’re really catchy, maybe the best three songs on the album, but the lyrics seem a little scary. They’re about girls punching other girls and stuff like that. I mean if it was about Hos and Bros, or date rape, or getting drunk and getting it on I would be totally down with that, but this chick that’s singing sounds mean. That sort of scares me, so let’s take these songs off the album, O.K.?”
Mudcrutch – Mudcrutch
Tom Petty revives his first band to record the album they never got around to making. Is it the most rockin’-est, swingin’-est Petty has recorded in years? You bet it is! Is it exciting and interesting to listen to? With the exception o “Lover On The Bayou” you bet it ain’t. It’s kind of like if Uncle Tupelo had waited until after Anodyne to record No Depression. For fans only.
Human Highway – Moody Motorcycle
The dude from Islands mines his inner country indie-pop muse and comes back with an album of enjoyable, if slightly slight, tunes. Whispered vocals, sharply mellow beats, and minimal instrumententation mark the majority of the tunes. In fact, as the album went on I started to think of the band as being sonically akin to a laid back version of Fountains Of Wayne. If that sounds up your alley, check ‘em out.
Smoking Popes – Stay Down
If you don’t live in Chicago, you probably have no idea how much love the Smoking Popes receive. We like them way better than Alkaline Trio, The Pumpkins, Fall Out Boy, or Kill Hannah. Face it, the Caterer brother rule. So I was excited when they got the band back together and got Josh to sing about heartbreak again, instead of God (though I guess it can be argued God is in every heartbreak, but this is a music review, not a theology discussion).
So how does their first album in 10 years stack up against our sentimental memories? Pretty well! I’d say a number of the tunes would have benefited by sticking to the under 3-minute rule, but I’m willing to let that go in the face of how much fun I just had listening to the band bash it out again.
Seabird – Till We See The Shore
More grand British-sounding rock and/or roll performed by Yanks. The thing about these bands is they all mix Travis and Oasis into their sound to create such a populist melange that it’s difficult to ascertain any actual personality within the songs. At the same time, I like an urgent stadium rocker or over-the-top anthem just as much as the next cat, so Seabird does scratch a particular itch rather well. But they don’t really satisfy that itch, which leads one to not linger over their songs past a certain finite shelf-life.
Valient Thorr – Immortalizer
Yaaaaargh! Metal! Sweaty! Loud! Stinky! Balls-out! Waaaah! Too much metal for just one fist! Not too fucking shabby, actually. I mean, it is what it is. It ain’t groundbreaking, but it stays tight while still knowing how to swing.
Brett Anderson – Wilderness
I loved Suede. Honest I did. I worshiped Brett Anderson. So it pains me to describe this album as it is: the dude from Suede sings a bunch of incredibly mediocre , melodramatic, and maudlin ballads. Why, Brett, why?!
Be Your own Pet photo from their Myspace
Smoking Popes photo from their MySpace