Last night a DJ just...sorta...prolonged my life a little bit. Sigh. When a guy can weave wax into transporting soundscapes that leave you baffled one minute, giddy the next, a by-the-numbers hip-hop platter just isn't good enough. Too many clowns drown out the sounds.
The Flaming Lips, At War With The Mystics
I'll be the first to admit that I was expecting a masterstroke from the Lips. I think a LOT of people were. But outsized expectations alone don't account for the disappointment of Mystics. Generally speaking, most of these songs get so bogged down in the band's trademarked eccentricities that they just fail to get airborne. Instead of a masterpiece, it sounds more like a demo.
The Futureheads, News and Tributes
Replacing songs with schtick=a big, sad step backwards.
The Killers, Sam's Town
Oh, man. Go get some snacks. Rather than delivering a Killers album (which would have filled the critical need for one), Brandon and company go batshit crazy and attempt to create a Bruce Springsteen record. The result? Well, we are reminded of Jeff Goldblum's admonition in Jurassic Park: "You appropriated the technology without first acquiring the discipline needed to attain it." To the Killers, "Springsteen and America" meant wearing bolos, writing about mountains and hurricanes, and dudes who didn't look a thing like Jesus and stupid mustaches. You aren't fooled for a moment that Flowers has spent any time observing the American condition in the way Springsteen or a similar artist did. He just borrowed the costumes. And because of their misguided desire to fill a need that didn't need filling (The Boss is still recording and doin' just fine, thank you), they didn't even do what they do well: write catchy songs. ("Bones" sounds like a Calexico song being murdered in slow motion, for example.) And when they had the makings of a catchy song, like "When You Were Young", they take a cherry guitar hook and spend the entire song obscuring it, reinventing it, and burying it under hyper-compressed musical runoff. Sheesh. I know that I'm going on and on here, but this is just about anatomical in its disappointment.
Beth Orton, Comfort of Strangers
Maybe a little too comfortable, frankly. Orton's soft-spoken nature usually gets over with the help of a little bit of edge, but Strangers just mummifies her in gauze. It's like watching a pretty moth go into a coma.
Robert Pollard, From A Compound Eye
Wow, Robert. You broke up the greatest American bar band in the world for that?
The Raconteurs, Broken Boy Soldiers
What, is the musicianship NOT peerless? Of course it is. These four could make a communal shit sound pretty enough to slay rock bitches by the score. But for all the talent brought to bear on this record, the lack of risk in the undertaking is downright palpable. There's absolutely nothing at stake here--everyone involved knows that the sales and the cred and props are a foregone conclusion. That's too bad.
The Streets, The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living
On the bright side, Mike Skinner's got his "perils of fame" record out of his system. And there are a few pure keepers on this record, to be sure. But the way Skinner constructs his tunes is really starting to sound routine, now. And what's more, this record really lacks those moments of jaw-dropping gravitas that made his previous releases so extraordinary.
The Walkmen, A Hundred Miles Off
Apt Title of 2006.
Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
In a way, it's sort of perfect. Where their album Painful was kick ass, their Kick Ass album was just, in large part, painful.