Monthly Archives: September 2011

500. Beastie Boys – “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two”

It is appropriate that I should hit the much-delayed five-zero-zero with an album which was also tardy, numerically inclined, and from an act who’ve been occupying a very high possie on my all-time rankings since way back.

album cover a CD Review  Beastie Boys Hot Sauce Committee Part Two 2Even more exciting is that this album is a welcome return to form from an act who I felt had gone off the boil.

Despite looking like crusty old bastards, the trio have clearly supped from some magic youth-rejuvenating potion.

The album takes a thankful glance over the shoulder to a simpler time of MCing. The beats are both tinny and fat.  The effects and samples feel like they were patched together in an analogue world, and I personally feel like I’m in a happier, simpler time.

The humour doesn’t seem forced. The name-dropping (Lee Majors, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam amongst many) will have anyone under the age of about 38 scratching their head, yet it’s hard to imagine anyone not feeling the urge to throwthemselves around and to party for their MFing right to fight!

While the album is startlingly coherent, my only real criticism is the lack of an absolute killer single (other than the celeb-heavy clip above goes damn close)… but I wanna hear everything on here again.

File under: No hidden agenda

Bonus for the 500th review: the extended 30 min version of the above clip (with much more silliness and a few more famous folks):

499. Death Cab for Cutie – “You Can Play These Songs with Chords”

Another CD I picked up in recent months.

album cover Death Cab for Cutie You Can Play These Songs With Chords Cd Review blogA trap for young album purchasers is accidently buying a ‘for the fans only’ album like this one.

This is a pastiche of the 8-track demo that got DCFC ‘noticed’, plus ten other early recordings from the infant act. As you’d expect, it is a bit of a hit and miss affair with no end of experimentation, loads of tentative steps and half-formed ideas, plus some misfires.

I don’t want to sound too negative, however, as the A&R folk were right to get excited about the promise here, and there are loads of hints of how competent this guys would get (and in a pretty short period of time too).

The upsides of the CD are the diversity of ideas, and the ease with which Ben Gibbard appears to produce well-penned tracks built around rhythms that start to mesmirise. I am glad he got over the dated tape-looping and the more bratty power-punk efforts.

I also love that he messed up the lyrics of a Smiths classic, thus pissing of a posse of pompus prats who take some sort of fundamentalist view of the sanctity of the:

 

 

498. Fiona Apple – “When the Pawn…

Another gift from reader extraordinaire Andy.

The full name of this album is “When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing Fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You’ll Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You Know That You’re Right.”

So, now I only have less than 100 words to review it.  Oops, and that used up a few more!

As you can guess from the title, Ms.Apple is a rather wordy lass with a few angst issues.  This album sits squarely in a genre occupied by fellow reviewees Higgins and Di Franco.

The musicianship is top notch, with a nice balance of orchestration and rawness, and Fifi can hold a tune better than most.  She structures her laments to a world of difficult loving in an approachable conversational tone.

I find a few too many tracks here to be pedestrian and same, same, but she can nail it:

File under: iLike

 

 

 

 

497. Bright Eyes – “The People’s Key”

Here’s another act we caught live in NYC.  The attraction was really the venue (Radio City Music Hall), and a couple of cool-ish supports (, Wild Flag, and Wild Flag).

But I had some inkling that I’d quite enjoyed reviewing an earlier Bright Eyes release, and the chance to see them showcase a new CD was appealing.

I went along expecting a pretty mellow, warbly singer-songwriter affair, with perhaps a little artiness.

What we got was an elaborate, full-band, full-blown art-rock extravaganza, which matches perfectly to the content of this recording.

The CD abounds with whacked out Rasta imagery, lengthy soundbites of some very creepy L.Ron Hubbard-esque rambling and refreshingly organic electro sounds.  The drums in particularly are well-mixed (and live were reproduced through multiple drummers – Modest Mouse style), while Oberst’s vocals are much stronger than I expected.

The songwriting is expectedly verbose and eccentric, and rewards multiple listens. This album reminds me most, in terms of overall feel, with the recent Arcade Fire effort, and I’d certainly be delighted to see these two acts back-to-back on some festival stage.

Last time I reviewed BE I promised to pick up some more of their albums. This album reminds me I need to do just that (plus the Wild Flag debut). If you’re unsure, you can watch/hear this entire album here:

File under: Ear-opening

496. Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears – “Scandalous”

This is the album BJL and his sweet furry buddies were showcasing then we caught them live back in May.

It must be a blast having such a brash, party-inducing groovathon to drag around the stages of the world.

This album is bigger and sleazier and even more confident than their last. The riffs are a bit more up-front and the horns are sharper. In essence the album feels louder.

Mr.Lewis sounds a little more ragged, like a slightly weary and exhausted bluesman on the wrong side of a three-week bender, rather than a natty-suited Cee-Lo-esque soulster. That doesn’t step him belting out the tunes however.

The songwriting is appropriate to the genre(s) -  a lot of mentions of “baby”, “booty”, “lyin’” and “lovin’”.  It’s not exactly high literature, but you’ll feel the jukejoints, roadtrips and very late nights right down to your bones.

The scatting on the opener works perfectly with the horn-heavy groove:

And once the lads invite us all along to the magical town of Booty City, I start to wonder why this album isn’t compulsory listening for all red-blooded humans:

File under: Should be making more headlines than corduroy pillowcases

 

 

 

 

 

495. Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears – “Tell ‘em what your name is!”

One of my three readers mentioned she was missing my reviews, so here I am back again…

Our stay in New York saw us pick up a variety of new CDs from the A-L section.  This here is one of two from an Austin band I’d never heard of before, but can’t seem to stop recommending.

This soul-funk collection takes a fresh, modern approach to some very familiar sounds.  It’s all horns, funky bass, call and responses, shouted choruses and a big, raw vibe.

We caught these guys on stage in NYC and they are absolute crowd-pleasers. It’s not surprising they are becoming festival regulars down under (and elsewhere).  The work is super approachable.  Energy levels are high and happy.

This is the sort of work you could imagine a young James Brown pumping out (there’s even a track with the “please, please…” chorus!), with a little Wilson Pickett thrown in for good measure.

I love the humour and playfulness of this CD, and the swings between slower grooves and the more frenetic.  Here are my two favourite tracks:

File under: Climb onboard this soultrain