Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Review: Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere

This is one thing that ALIEN CORPSE is thankful for: He is thankful that he lives outside of media saturation of music. This enables him to devour an album like Gnarls Barkley: St. Elsewhere, and not have to worry that he will hear about the album at every turn. That can really ruin an album. It is ALIEN’s sense that the general public of indie 20 somethings will have already found this album to be sequentially: exotic, vibrant, skillful, tired, and annoying. Thankfully, ALIEN just hears the groove.

This collaboration between King Midas himself, DJ Danger Mouse (reputed for his “Grey Album” mashup of The Beatles’ White Album and Jay-Z’s Black Album), and rapper/crooner deluxe, Cee-Lo Green, is a revelatory departure from everything else on the scene in 2006.

Blending Danger Mouse’s talent on the production side with Cee-Lo’s golden vocals was a match made in heaven. There is a nice combination between a hook-laden soul album with SOME genuine lyrics. Just when the listener has settled in for a long peaceful chill-out session, track 8, Transformer, rattles the cages and is a true Hip-hop song. Actually, the one-two punch of Just a Thought and Transformer is worth the price of the album alone.

Overall, this is a stellar release that embodies fun, uptempo music/lyrics and the skills of the greatest producer in the music scene today. Take that, Kanye!

Rating: 5 out of 5

RIYL: Gorillaz, DangerDoom, The Streets

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

List #2 - Top 5 Album Openers in the Last 15 Years

I think this list has only one solution. This is not preference, but rather the best Track #1s... in the last 15 years (1991-2006). These are the songs that best set the pace for the album they are opening, the most memorable opening tracks, and the most influencial opening tracks.

Let's assemble this list together. Feel free to add names/tracks.

12 Openers for Your Consideration (in no particular order):

  1. The Man Comes Around - Johnny Cash, American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002).
  2. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana, Nevermind (1991).
  3. Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes, Elephant (2003).
  4. My Name Is Jonas - Weezer, S/T (1994).
  5. Leave Me Alone - Razorlight, Up All Night (2005).
  6. Everything In Its' Right Place - Radiohead, Kid A (2000).
  7. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart - Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002).
  8. Small Stakes - Spoon, Kill The Moonlight (2002).
  9. Untitled - Interpol, Turn On The Bright Lights (2002).
  10. Break - Fugazi, End Hits (1998).
  11. One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces - Ben Folds Five, Whatever and Ever Amen (1997).
  12. Devil's Haircut - Beck, Odelay (1996).

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Grandaddy, Just Like the Fambly Cat

Just Like the Fambly Cat is Grandaddy’s fifth album in ten years. It is also their final album. Despite being on a major label for their last three releases, getting to tour with Pete Yorn, and having a song in a Honda commercial, (Nature Anthem, “I wanna walk up the side of the mountain.”), Grandaddy just can’t pay the bills. It must be pretty depressing to be in a critically acclaimed rock band, get four star reviews from everyone, and then come home from tour totally broke and unable to pay your rent.

So Grandaddy has called it quits and Just Like the Fambly Cat reveals the pathos of a rock band breaking up. The sweet and sad sample of a little girl asking the question, “What happened to the family cat?“ on the opening track seems to say it all. Where did we go wrong? How can Modest Mouse sell a million and we have to work stupid construction jobs when we get back from tour? “Elevate Myself” expresses disillusionment with the music industry and the loss of ambition to write the perfect pop song and be the biggest band in the world: “I don’t want to work all night and day on writing songs that make the young girls cry.” Ironically, “Elevate Myself” sounds like the perfect radio song that Grandaddy’s been shooting for. But the album ends with the disillusioned resolution, “I’ll never return…”

What is so sad about this being the last Grandaddy album is that it is their best. Just Like the Fambly Cat is on another level than the psychedelic pop being made by the Flaming Lips or the Dandy Warhols. You will still find all of the ELO-inspired synth swirls (space out to “Rearview Mirror“), crunching Cars-esque rhythm guitars (that the Strokes wish they could capture) and the quiet, innocent vocals that define the Grandaddy sound. But what really makes Just Like the Fambly Cat stand out is that it rocks. “Jeez Louise” uses some loud guitars and dissonance to create a psychedelic sound that is actually pretty heavy. The hardcore punk of “50%” is exactly what previous Grandaddy albums have needed to spice things up.

So Grandaddy has saved their best album for last. There is hope, though, that we‘ll be able to hear the Nature Anthem sound again. The magic of the Grandaddy sound was created by one man: Jason Lytle (Jason played all the instruments on Just Like the Fambly Cat except the drums). How can a band break up when it’s basically one dude?

Jason Lytle of Grandaddy getting his nature on.

You can stream “Jeez Louise” and “Rearview Mirror” from Grandaddy’s official site.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Neil Young - "Living with War"

Release: May 8, 2006
Has anyone else noticed that mutual fund and prescription drug commercials have gone hippie? I am talking the spokesperson for Charles Schwab in bellbottoms and tie-dye throwing down the peace sign. Of course this is just a matter of knowing your target market. After all most of today's wealthy aged have one thing in common - they were all at Woodstock.

If you are one of these peace-loving flower grandparents you will love Neil Young's new album - in fact you will probably not think twice about shelling out 300 bucks to get in at one of the amphitheaters across the nation that are carrying the Crosby Stills Nash and Young “Free Speech” tour this summer.

Apparently, based on what else I have been reading regarding the reception of Neil Young’s newest album, I am one of only a few who is bothered by the “protest for old time’s sake” aura that this album seems in my impression to have been born out of (this is my way of saying – pardon my dissension). These songs are being touted for their raw authenticity – having been recorded and written in an apparently very short time – but to me this sense of saying the first thing that comes to your mind makes the album come across as little more than fluff. I simply could not swallow refrains like “let’s impeach the president for lyin’ and sendin’ our country to war” – Okay maybe not a bad idea, but can I have less Michael Moore in my monitor? This seems to me to be the double edge of Neil’s writing – his knack for stating things very explicitly seems to have worked in the past in songs like Four Dead in Ohio (for me that is an archetypal “protest song”) but at times this stating things in an explicit sort of way leaves one wanting for the deeper things. In my impression this album has the shelf life of a Nick Lachey album.

And now for a slightly more constructive conclusion – I liked the sound of Neil backed up by a hundred member choir. This comes through particularly in songs like “After the Garden”. “Roger and Out” is a well crafted song – unfortunately this makes it sound like it doesn’t fit on the album. Bonus points for fitting the names Obama and Colin Powell in the same song. Grace points for this album’s proximity to one of Neil’s all time best albums, Prairie Wind, which was released last year – there is enough brilliant songwriting in that album to make up for some duds – which is what I am classifying this ten-track Hollywoodesque soapboxing gem. I expect more from a Canadian.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Coke's White-wash

Have you ever wondered what the result would be if a global megacorp that stands accused of assassinating trade union leaders in developing countries hired a songwriter who once beat a rival bandleader's face into a bloody pulp to write a jingle about how nice love is, and how neat it would be if we all did nice things for each other? Wonder no more! Head on over here to sate your curiosity. The worst part is... I think that it's a great ad. Somebody check- do I still have a soul?

Dear Bruce Springsteen

Dear Bruce Springsteen,

This is an open letter from Alien Corpse, intergalactic music snob and fellow prophet to the masses. I recently encountered an over-priced copy of your latest souped-up CD "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" during a recent invasion of Starbucks (which must to my surprise is now posing as a music store and movie production company). I would like to share with you my initial reaction to your start-studded cover album of Pete Seeger classics.

First, thanks for introducing your listeners to the real roots of folksy protest music. In the wake of the latest war, 18-35 year-olds across the country have strummed their guitars in coffee houses singing whiny-though-intended-to-be-wise lyrics satirizing Bush. You have reminded us that Peter Seeger, Woody Guthrie and pre-electric Bob Dylan perfected this politically-charged genre as an actual art-form. May the corduroyed bards of our day take note. Perhaps your covers of Seeger will serve as a gateway drug to the classics of folk music.

Second, beware of turning backwards. Bruce, you are already established as a rock legend. Reaching back to pre-rock roots reminds us just how old you are. Yet you have so recently shown that your music can forge ahead. Cover-albums of classics are a common sign of decline for an established artist. As you enter the pantheon of rock, you have a choice before you. Do you want to go the way of Rod Stewart, who wastes his cock-rock chops on the "Great American Songbook"? Or do you want to go glory route of Johnny Cash, who under Rick Rubin's guidance covered contemporary songs in his third and final comeback? I suggest the latter as befiting your greatness, but this latest record runs the risk of ending up like the former.

Third, shame on you for allowing your CD to be processed in a composite DVD format that does not play on many CD players. This kind of packaging, which has little to do with offering a mutli-media product and more to do with preventing piracy, betrays everything that leftist folk music stands for. Thus the form of this record betrays the content to the disappointment of many who try to enjoy your music in a '91 Volvo.

Alien Corpse

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Raconteurs

Interested in hearing Jack White collaborate and produce some near-pop music? Download the Raconteurs single, "Steady, As She Goes" from iTunes...FREE this week.

here's a link to a rolling stone article about the band.