Monday, December 29, 2008

Year-End Roundup, Part 3

Thank God for 10-12 hour car rides. Final installment for 2008.
  • The Cribs - The New Fellas (2005). After declaring these guys the next big thing on my radar, I felt a strong need to go back to check this album out. It's not as good as Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, but it is a solid, decent effort; there are more dead spots here, but it's still very good.
    Verdict: Recommended. It's a CD Rack-quality album that gets into the Portable CD Case based on their 2008 effort.
  • James - Pleased to Meet You (2001). Reviewed here, after their Greatest Hits compilation it seemed like the chapter was closed on these guys. This, their "spectacular" return to form (quoted from, is not as rock oriented as their previous efforts; lead singer Tim Booth has a great voice, but the previous successes of the band were based on contrasting his voice with the music. Here, they blend his voice with the music, which is fine, but just not as interesting to me. There's no song that reaches out and grabs you, which is what James is all about in my book; this is thus more consistent in a bad way. It needs more bite and a hit single.
    Verdict: Slightly recommended. This goes into the CD Rack for now, but I'd be surprised if the album is still there five years from now.
  • LCD Soundsystem - 45:33 (2006). This was commissioned by Nike to be a long-form song suitable for a 45 minute workout, which intrigued me. Here's what I read at Wikipedia (after I had bought and listened to the album): "The track is, strangely, 45 minutes and 58 seconds long, and was claimed to 'reward and push at good intervals of a run.' However it was later revealed that this was not the case, but that [LCD Soundsystem songwriter and frontman James] Murphy merely wanted the opportunity to create a long piece of music." Thanks for nothing then. In fact, the "track" is boring, monotonous, and plodding. (Hey, isn't that what we're trying to escape from during a workout?) I didn't like LCD Soundsystem before, and this effort and deception does them no favors with me for the future.
    Verdict: Not recommended. Run away (get it? get it? WOW I am clever). Pile of death.
  • Naked Raygun - Jettison (1988). Here's what you need to know about Naked Raygun: they know how to write a heavy guitar riff. It's old school, aggressive, viciously effective guitar play. This album includes four bonus tracks, which are well worth it: the cover of Stiff Little Fingers' "Suspect Device" is absolutely great. If it were more consistent, it'd be in the Car CD Changer... but it's not. Still damn fine punk/rock 'n roll.
    Verdict: Highly recommended. Portable CD Case.
  • Ride - Nowhere (1990). Ride was a significant shoegazer band in the early 90's, but history swallowed them up (like most of the other bands in the genre) in the mighty wake of shoegazer geniuses My Bloody Valentine. This is a great second place to MBV; time and the rock canon appear to have conspired to allow this one to fall through the cracks. It shouldn't be. It's not as layered and flowing as Loveless, but it's great in its own right.
    Verdict: Highly recommended. Car CD Changer.
  • Tears for Fears - Everybody Loves a Happy Ending (2004). This is a reunion I doubt anyone saw coming. Childhood friends Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith hadn't spoken since an acrimonious breakup of their songwriting partnership in 1992; Orzabal even made two more albums as TFF without Smith. In 2000, they were forced to communicate with each other for the first time since the break over some legal matters; they patched things up and decided to give it another go. Now, this is no Songs from the Big Chair (their 5x Platinum breakthrough), but it is a nice, pleasant, poppy, Beatles-esque album. It's listenable throughout, and a more mature sound, but "Quiet Ones"... well, that separates this reunion from others. It's classic TFF, and an absolutely sky-searing pop tune. Phenomenal. That song alone is worth the price of admission -- if they have more like this left in the tank, I hope they come back for at least one more rodeo.
    Verdict: Highly recommended. "Quiet Ones" takes this album on its shoulders and moves it from the CD Rack into the Portable CD Case.
- Snilch

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