Patti Smith‘s newest disc, Twelve, is a covers album. Anyone that’s heard Smith’s earlier readings of other folks’ work would probably be understandably excited about a disc full of reinterpretations since this is the woman that absolutely shredded Van Morrison’s “Gloria.” They should probably cool their jets a little, though.
Twelve is an interesting album, and at times an enjoyable listen, but for the most part it’s a failed experiment and a misstep in the same vein as Grant-Lee Phillips’ recent disc of tepidly read ’80s covers. Smith covers a group of songs and, for the most part, merely covers them. In fact the most surprising thing about the whole affair was my own discovery that she actually has a pretty sweet voice when she feels like employing it in the service of a mainstream melody.
In my opinion, this disc is probably just something she tossed off for fun, and her record company probably pounced on it in hopes of milking some sort of financial return out of her recent induction to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. Fair enough, since it’s only a disappointing listen if you’re looking for Smith to inject her passion into the tunes. For many it will be enough to hear a legend sing along to some older “standards.” I expect Starbucks should probably sell out of its alloted copies in under a week.
Her cover of the Doors’ “Soul Kitchen” does a particularly nice job of proving my point. Smith delivers a solid performance with some wonderfully nuanced vocals, but in the end it doesn’t move me as much as it makes me want to absentmindedly tap my foot along to a familiar oldie. She’s on the road quite a bit between now and her Chicago Lollapalooza stop, though, so maybe the songbook will have collected a few embers and burst into fire by the time she gets here.
MP3: Patti Smith “Soul Kitchen”
Photo by Angelo Cricchi
So it finally all makes sense to me; I’ve found an explanation / excuse for the non-stop rotation of Avril Lavigne‘s newest disc, The Best Damn Thing, in the ol’ tankPOD over the past few weeks. The album is the long-lost follow-up to (read: spiritual sibling of) the Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack that came out a few years ago. That particular soundtrack was one of those albums that almost nobody heard, but it was met with great appreciation and devotion by the few to whose ears its power-pop-punk found its way.
Lavigne has taken her pop-tart mall-brat persona and kicked it up a notch. The new album is heavy on the addictive rockers and rather light on the treacly ballads that marred her past efforts critically, but can probably be attributed with her phenomenal sales record. So the biggest difference is that she’s produced an album that has nine guilty pleasures for the Stereogum crowd instead of the usual single and a half that made their way on to previous albums.
The other difference is that Lavigne honestly seems to be trying to find her way as a lyricist. While kick-off single “Girlfriend” is a tune filled with as empty a set of platitudes as you’re going to find in the Top 40 today, she does try to stretch on a tune like “Ridiculous.” In that song she captures the early rush of that whole love and attraction thing, commonly enjoyed by most newly mets or, in her case, newly weds, and ends up with a song that mom and dad can relate to just as easily as a twelve-year-old experiencing her first major crush.
And then there are some tunes, like “I Can Do Better,” where Lavigne is content to let her inner ass-kicking bad girl take over and tell some dickhead it’s time to hit the road. For the one or two missteps she makes (there is one particularly lame rhyme about being bummed when some dude doesn’t pick up the check, which sort of picks away at her alpha-female persona) most of her songs rise to the challenge of trying to bridge the gap between junior high and the mortgage paying demographic.
The Best Damn Thing isn’t a guilty pleasure, because you have nothing to feel guilty about as you pump your fist, and leather bound wrist, into the air and sing along.
Count on Ted Leo to combine promotion of his most excellent new album with a good cause by teaming up with PETA2 for a fun giveaway. Here’s the skinny from Touch & Go:
It’s your turn to put the words in Ted’s (and Chris’s and Dave’s) mouth. The top ten entries to submit a caption for the following Ted Leo and the Pharmacists press photo will win a Ted Leo and the Pharmacists scarf, autographed copy of “Living With the Living,” Ted Leo prescription pads and a bunch of other fanboy gems.
The grand prize for the best caption we find will receive all of these prizes plus two tickets to the Ted Leo and the Pharmacists spring show in their city, a Peta2 “I Am Not A Nugget” hip bag and other sweet Peta2 items.
Send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Captions should be pasted into the body of the email (no attachments) and describe, in the participants words, what is taking place in the photo. Please, limit captions to 50 words maximum.
The contest ends Thursday, April 5 at 12:00 a.m. The entries will then be delivered in an electric car to Mr. Leo’s doorstep, where he will read each and every single one (no mash notes, please) and render his decision on who wins. Good luck!
Click the above image to enlarge for a better view of what you’ve got to work with, baby.
This just in from The Flaming Lips:
Wayne’s going to interview bands for a Tonight Show segment that will air next Thursday. Let all your favorite bands know to bug him if they see him.
He should be easy to spot with a full camera crew following a dude in a white suit walking down the street within a huge plastic bubble …
We’re #1! Well, we’re credited as such in Podbop‘s list of the Top 10 SXSW resources … check out the rest here.
I LOVE The Secret Machines. I dig the bombastic space-groove of their last two discs, and was blown away by their live show at last year’s Lollapalooza (anyone that can pull off that sort of spectacle in full daylight — including a full light show — deserves mucho respect).
I was excited to learn that the group was to enter the studio this Spring, but was stunned to learn the band would be doing so as a two-piece when I read the following from vocalist/keyboardist Brandon Curtis!
I am writing to make a couple of announcements. First of all I want to let everybody know that The Secret Machines have begun work on our third album. We expect to begin recording sometime in the beginning of May. Unfortunately, I also must share that after 7 and 1/2 years of playing music together Benjamin has decided to no longer be a part of the band. It is a sad day but also an exciting one as he prepares to focus full time on his new creative venture, School of Seven Bells. He has told me that he expects to be finished with a new record very soon as well as there being plans in the works to play some shows here in New York debuting the band. Of course Josh and I wish him all the best.
The (obvious) downside? Benjamin Curtis’ guitar work is pretty integral to the band’s sound. I suppose the parts are played by both brothers in the studio, but he’ll still be missed. The upswing? Maybe now i’ll have two awesome bands to choose from!
Thanks to Irene for the tip!
I just can’t make up my mind.
I’ve got the wristband, but not the badge. I’ve got peeps to stay with in Austin, but it’s a couple miles from the action. Obviously, as our excellent SXSW blog indicates, there’s a lot going on down there, but it’s been a few years since last I went and I’m not totally sold on going.
Part of this is because it doesn’t seem like a lot of folks I know are going. Of course that may be a complete misconception. For instance I had no clue my friend Chris was going until he asked me if I was going last week. So maybe that’s how it is for most folks around me: we all just assume the other is going and haven’t thought to bring it up.
Also, it seems as if the shift has turned to day parties, which would actually be good since this would be the first time I’m working the fest with a press wristband instead of a laminate (the primary downside of this: no Pete Townsend keynote for me. Boo!). On the downside, I’m still scarred from my early years of attending and always having to wait until the last minute before scoring an invite to the Spin party which, back then, was the end-all be-all of fest parties. I’ve been told it’s different, and a bit more egalitarian now, but there is always that younger sting lying under my older, more weathered surface.
So what do y’all think, should Tankboy make up his mind and just buy the plane ticket? Do you know of anything that would shift me decisively one way or the other? Parties for me to DJ? Day parties I shouldn’t miss? Inside info you’ve been keeping to yopurself, waiting to spring with just this sort of prodding?
I reckon I’ve got to buy the ticket today or tomorrow if i’m going to do do it, so help me make up my mind!
The Metro is beloved internationally, and we Chicagoans are proud it’s located here. This year it turns twenty-five, and it plans on celebrating with a year’s worth of shows. But they’re kicking off the party at SXSW … in Austin?
Oh well, who cares? With the exception of The Redwalls, it’s a killer two-stage bill! So make sure you get down there Tuesday to hit the paty first thing Wednesday!
Metro 25th Anniversary Party
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Noon to 6pm
603 Red River, Austin TX 78701
Emo’s (Main Room)
1:00 – 1:30 This Is Me Smiling
1:50 – 2:20 Sybris
2:40 – 3:10 The Hush Sound
3:30 – 4:00 The M’s
4:20 – 4:50 Catfish Haven
5:10 – 6:00 Smoking Popes
Emo’s Jr. (Side Room)
12:45 – 1:15 Of The Opera
1:35 – 2:05 The Prairie Cartel
2:25 – 2:55 Cameron McGill & The Quartet Offensive
3:15 – 3:45 Office
4:05 – 4:40 The Changes
5:00 – 6:00 The Redwalls
DJ sets by Bald Eagle (Life During Wartime), DJ JS (Metro), JAM DJs
featuring DJ poseur, DJ Anejo and dj lo-fi, DJ MR (Schubas) and more TBA
I supposedly drum for America’s #1 Sweetheart, even though we have yet to actually practice together, and I have yet to reclaim my snare from the dude who’s had it for the last four years, and I haven’t been behind a kit since that party at Rudy’s a year and a half ago. The main reason this hasn’t occured is because Kip got drawn into ex-Rockit Girl Gina Crosely’s new band, The Viv Savages, with her husband John and drummer Chad Romanaski (ex-Sarge, current-Dials). Am I uspet? Hellz no! Not after hearing what they’re been putting together.
Synthesis is a good word for what’s going on in this band. I can hear smidges and tidbits from every band each player has been in, and when it all comes together the sum is truly more powerful than its parts. You can hear a bunch of rough mixes of tumes they’re working on at their MySpace page, but i’m going to post their track “Friday Nigts” here. Why? Because I show up in the lyrics and I’m all flattered and such.
Also, keep a look-out for The Viv Savage’s contribution to the Triple Fast Action tribute album donewaiting’s own Chip Midnight is putting together!
MP3: The Viv Savages “Friday Night”
It’ll be on March 15th at Emo’s Annex Tent at 7pm.
I think I saw At The Drive in play that tent a couple years ago.
Anyway, the bill is a crushing one:
Stephen Brodsky’s Octave Museum
Oddly enough, the one I’m most looking forward to is Stephen Brodsky’s Octave Museum. I dug his album and want to see what he’s like live.