I seem to buy music in batches. I don’t know how it happens but somehow it does. Despite the amazing lack of music related posts, I’ve been listening to all kinds of good stuff recently. The problem is, I sit down to write about it and essentially come up with, “this album was great!” Although articles are generally shorter in a blog format, a one sentence music review might be too brief to consider an actual article.
In November I published a review of Passion Pit’s album “Manners”. It was easy to single that one out of the batch because of its quirky nature. I bought “Manners” at the same time as The Gossip’s “Music for Men” and Tegan and Sara’s “Sainthood”. Both of those albums were just as good as the Passion Pit album. However, when pressed to try and write about them I tended to come up with, “The lead vocalist of The Gossip, Beth Ditto, has a huge booming voice that when paired with the soul laced rock of the band creates musical magic,” and “Tegan and Sara create intelligent rock music that makes you want to roll down the windows of your car and turn the volume up.” All three albums were great, but for some reason I just couldn’t make proper reviews out of two of them. Trust me; it’s due to my ineptitude, not a poor quality product from The Gossip or Tegan and Sara.
Then, after my triumphant review of Sade’s new album “Soldier of Love”, which I call triumphant because it spent 3 weeks at #1 on the Billboard album charts, I again find myself in a music review pickle.
My recent batch of albums are varied: Weezer’s “Raditude”, Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint 3”, Johnny Cash’s “American VI: Ain’t No Grave”, and Florence and the Machine’s “Lungs”. Again I don’t know what to say about any one of them to make a proper music review, so I’m giving you my mini-reviews, and perhaps a video or two to round it out.
First up is Weezer’s “Raditude”. I love Weezer. Years ago I read an interview with the lead singer Rivers Cuomo about how he tried to create a mathematical equation for creating great pop music. All that geekiness with an electric guitar? I’ve been in love ever since. That said, I didn’t really care for Weezer’s previous album “Weezer aka The Red Album”. It was more experimental, which as a band was probably a good thing since internet rumor has it that Cuomo had been a bit of a control freak in the past, but not so great for me. I’m happy to say that with “Raditude”, I’m back full on into Weezer. Although I assume Cuomo abandoned his mathematical pop music musings, Weezer still crafts the best pop rock songs around. Whether it’s the anthemic “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To”, or the catchy ironic “Can’t Stop Partying” featuring Lil’ Wayne, you’re guaranteed to sing along and tap your foot. Singing along + tapping foot=great Weezer album. Here, tap your foot and sing along!
Next up is Jay-Z. I’m not overly familiar with Jay-Z’s past work, but I heard a few songs off of his latest album, “The Blueprint 3”, and just caught the Jay-Z bug. I found the album on sale cheap and said, what the heck, and picked it up. I haven’t listened to a rap album to death this much since the Nas “Untitled” album! Although lyrically “The Blueprint 3” isn’t as thoughtful as the Nas album, it is loaded with clever rhymes, and the beats, the music with it makes me try to do “The Harlem Shake” while typing at my desk. However, the coolest part of the album is the track “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)”. If you want to feel like a certified bad ass, put on your sunglasses, roll down the windows of your car, and turn it up. Seriously, this is good stuff.
(On a totally random side note, does anyone recognize the chef in this video? I swear it looks like the chef that did the Anthony Bourdain episode where Bourdain decided to work the line at his restaurant after years out of the game. Of course I could wrong, it has been known to happen.)
Since this will be quick, let me take a moment to address “American VI: Ain’t No Grave”. I love Johnny Cash. I say I love loads of artists, but I LOVE Cash. Ask anyone that worked with me during my time in music retail, they will tell you I put up with a lot of crap, but if anyone said anything bad about Johnny Cash they were given a stern talking to. It actually reached the point where some of my co-workers knew my abbreviated monologue on the greatness that is Johnny Cash. Despite his age and health issues, my heart broke a little bit when I heard he died. “American VI” is fantastic. Producer Rick Rubin gave America the final musical moments of Cash’s life. It’s a thing of beauty.
That leaves Florence and the Machine’s album “Lungs”. The album is excellent. I keep reading it being described as Kate Bush meets Bjork. I personally see it more as Siouxsie Sioux meets Ida Maria (As an aside, Florence, if you ever see this, I would love to hear you cover “Kiss Them for Me”.) Florence has an amazing voice; she can do smoky (“Girl With One Eye), she can go with epic storytelling vocals (“Rabbit Heart”), she can rub a little funk on it (“You’ve Got the Love”), and can channel the inner rage in just the cutest way (“Kiss With a Fist”). The Machine is actually a rotating cast of musicians that help create the varying sounds from song to song. The constant on the album is Florence’s amazing voice and intelligent lyrics. I love the album so much I find myself wanting to feature every video I can find of them on You Tube! (By the way, the peeps at Wikipedia say this is a “break up” album. If that is true, this may be one of the best break up albums in recent history. Beating Amy Winehouse’s “Back in Black” is an impressive feat.) Okay, let’s go with adorable rage…..