JUST A SONG
Some quick capsule music reviews:
Klang, No Sound Is Heard: Perhaps the most pleasant surprise so far this year, if only because I expected it to not be very good. This is Donna Matthews from Elastica's new band, her lo-fi outfit. Some live MP3s they released last year were pretty unremarkable, but I managed to get a cheap vinyl copy of this minialbum and gave it a shot. Klang is a charming affair. It's not the spiky new wave of Matthews' former outfit, but more like a Sonic Youth-inspired flipside of the same. Little ambient drones, simple vocals, and a rambling nature that seems more exploratory than lost. A quiet little earworm worth tracking down.
Divine Comedy, b-sides to "Absent Friends": My favorite b-sides of the moment come courtesy of the title track of the latest Divine Comedy album. "Anthem for Bored Youth" (on the 7") and "Mr. Right" (on the two-track CD) are the sort of witty narratives that defined the band in their heyday, and have a more literate humor than can be found on recent tracks like "My Imaginary Friend" and "The Happy Goth."
The Ordinary Boys, Over The Counter Culture vs. The Killers, Hot Fuss: Two young bands tipped for greatness. Of the two, I find the Boys more agreeable. Their debut album reminds me of Ash's Trailer, a young hodgepodge that they need to get out of their system that's fun for what it is, but is only the first step towards them being truly great next time ("Just a Song," for instance, points to less frenzied depths, with a vocal style that reminds me of Strangelove and Ballroom, while other tracks remind me a tad of Marion). They follow a very traditional model of youthful British boys with snot on their guitars, but it feels refreshingly unpretentious right about now. The Killers, on the other hand, seem a couple of a paces behind. They are more straight ahead, reminiscent of a late '80s college rock American band. They have one truly godawful track on the record ("Glamourous Indie Rock & Roll/Change Your Mind"), some pretty cool ones ("Jenny Was a Friend of Mine," "Smile Like You Mean It"), and the rest are halfway decent. It's all a bit thin, though. It makes me think this was what Interpol might have sounded like two years before Bright Lights, and unlike The Ordinary Boys, I think The Killers may have been better off getting this out of their system in private.
Brandy, Afrodisiac: I looked into this because Timbaland did the bulk of the production, and I try to keep my ear on whatever the man does. He makes a sample of Coldplay's "Clocks" sound good on one of the songs here, so you know he has magic. Also, the tracks by producer Kanye West truly reveal how hollow West's work is beyond a couple of songs; he seems so very small next to Tim. Anyway, a great r&b record, probably my favorite so far this year, which is really saying something since I've never cared for Brandy before. Ian Shaughnessy does a track-by-track much better than I could, so check his out. I completely disagree with him about "Who I Am" as an opener, though; while as a song removed from the whole it might not be much, as the intro to the album, I think it's perfect. It's like a statement of intent, laying the themes out for the listener ahead of time. A good choice in my mind.
The Cure, The Cure:I didn't have high hopes for this album. Various television performances of "The End of the World" left me pretty cold. It sounded like The Cure doing a bad version of themselves from ten years ago. Thankfully, this is not how the whole record sounds. Instead, we get an angry Robert Smith and a dirtier, rougher production, with shades of Teutonic chilliness. Jen De Guzman and I seem in complete agreement that it's like a whole disc of the grouchier, more abstract cuts from Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and Wish (in fact, I think she stole the observation about how many times Bob says "fuck" from me!). I wouldn't have minded a couple of pop morsels, but hey, if Bob wants to be pissed off, I'm not going to talk him down.
I'm also enjoying the new Beastie Boys (the album Hello Nasty was pretending to be) and the new Cowboy Junkies (a bit of the same old, same old, though—the 'Neath Your Covers disc that comes with, featuring versions of Cure and Neil Young songs, is worth the price of adission).
UPDATE FROM YESTERDAY: Sign a petition against Bush's Kerry-is-Hitler ad here.
Current Soundtrack: The abovementioned Klang and Ordinary Boys