Monday, December 31, 2012

The Third Blog of Christmas: Yuck - Yuck (2012)

This was a difficult album to evaluate:  it does not work in all formats.  You'll need headphones and patience on this one.  Yuck clearly has an ecelctic mix of musical tastes:  I hear Superchunk, Elliott Smith, and Dinosaur Jr. in their music.  (And a little that dog too.)  Slightly laid back indie guitar rock with some soaring synths.  It's an album that is generally looking towards the sky.  For whatever reason, I think that Yves will like this one. 

Merch rating:  
I would buy the next album if it got good reviews.  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

On the Second Day of Christmas: The Cult - Choice of Weapon (2012)

First, some history.  

There are three eras of The Cult:  

  • 1985-1989:  their prime, with the classic and best) Cult albums Love, Electric, and Sonic Temple)
  • 1990-1995:  their collapse, with Ceremony and the equally terrible The Cult, and a breakup in 1995
  • 1999-2011:  their resurgence, with the great Beyond Good and Evil and the very good Born into This

(Before you Cult fans start berating me, I know the band roots can be traced back to 1981 and that there is another Cult album in 1984, but let's call it what it was:  just rubbish until Love.  Sorry.)

In any case, Choice of Weapon appears to be heralding a fourth era:  it's sad to say, but I am calling it "the end." It's a big step backwards -- it reminds me of Ceremony without the standout track "Wild Hearted Son," which means it's just crap on my shoe.  The lyrics are really straightforward in a dumb way, Ian Astbury sounds old, and the background vocals are just distracting.  I physically cringed a number of times while listening to this.  Bob Rock did wonders with Bush, but he did no favors to The Cult here.  Avoid at all costs.

Verdict:  Pile of Death.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

And Finally... the 2012 12 Blogs of Christmas

As Mark likes to point out, there is an inverse proportion of how much work I have to how often I post reviews.  Needless to say, I've been pretty busy.

This year, I will be employing a new strategy -- posting about one album at at time.  I've got some 2012 albums to run through, which I'll start here.  Hopefully there will be 12 Blogs of Christmas, but I was never very good at math.

We'll start with Bush - The Sea of Memories (2012).  

There are a few axioms in rock.  The Who will reunite.  Keith Richards will never die.  The greatest band in the history of rock is (of course) Loverboy.  And Bush sucks.

It's a pretty simple premise:  Bush is synthetic, overproduced pop sacchrine with no soul.  There's no bite, no edge, no rough bumps over the impossibly smooth surface.  It's slick style with no substance.

Enter legendary producer/engineer Bob Rock (Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, The Cult, Mötley Crüe, 311, Metallica, and, of course, Loverboy) for Bush's latest, The Sea of Memories.  I'm giving him all the credit on this:  that same grit that Bush has lacked for so long has magically appeared on this album.  Coincidence?  Probably not.

Thus, "The Sound of Winter" and "The Afterlife" are, without a doubt, actual rock songs.  Rock brings to the front a great rhythm section (including original Bush drummer Robin Goodridge) and an ace guitarist (Chris Traynor, formerly in Helmet), giving the album a much more "live" feel rather than the over-produced one that other Bush albums have had.  There's really not a bad song on the album; and not only are Gavin Rossdale's lyrics 75% less cliche than usual, they are actually a plus here.  Go figure! 

As Scott B pointed out, if this album had been Bush's first, we'd mark this as a band to watch over the coming years.  I just can't believe this album is this good, and is so consistent front to back.  You can't take Gavin Rossdale's indie cred card away from him now; he's produced something truly great.  Even a potential dud like "All Night Doctors" is a great slow number.  Now if Rossdael would just start wearing shirts like most normal human beings do and get on with it.

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