Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Back to the Idol
Tonight they sing the 90’s. There was a lot of really good stuff in that decade, but there was just as much crap. This could be frightening…
Bo Bice Some Black Crows song. This song sucks--in its original version and in this setting. The good of it is that the man knows how to perform and that’s his saving grace. The vocal performance wasn’t so great tonight, but the overall performance was, ahem, rockin’. Simon’s wedding singer comment was a little harsh, but the fact is that this wasn’t a great musical moment.
Can I tell you how much I hated the Black Crows? I don’t see myself ever being nostalgic for that band…
The rest of the updates will be in the extended entry to save McGehee’s rather particular tastes.
Review: Woven Hand at Benders Tavern
On Good Friday, the g-phrase and I attended what was probably the best concert that I will see this year.
Benders Tavern is a bar and small concert venue that sits in the building formerly occupied by the Goth bar, Onyx. Where it used to be dark and gloomy, with its TVs showing a mix of stylish and campy cult films, Benders is a brighter space with more buoyant colors. It was the first time I had been in the bar since before it had changed ownership, and the experience was a little disconcerting.
The part that made it so strange wasn’t the new style, though, it was that some of the clientele didn’t seem to have changed all that much. Pierced and tattooed people still attended, wearing their uniforms of black PVC and leather, carefully cultivating their ironic detachment and sartorial separatism. At least one of the concertgoers was a former Onyx employee who wore a familiar starter Al Jourgenson Goth cowboy getup. I was surprised to see them at the comparatively happy Benders and even more surprised to see them attending a Christian rock concert.
But that’s precisely what was happening. The scene was the people--the tiny shot girl with the pink, wool bunny ear cap and an unsettling, vampiric smile; the cocktail waitress with the exaggerated, cat’s eye granny glasses; the cocktail waitress with what looked to be tatts covering her entire torso and arms. Scattered throughout was a smattering of people like me: jeans and sweaters type people who looked more out of place than the guy with plugs in his earlobes.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Review: Queens of the Stone Age, Lullabies to Paralyze
Sometimes a good album--even a particularly good album--can be a disappointment. In the case of Lullabies to Paralyze, the disappointment isn’t that the songs aren’t better or that the band isn’t as good without the volatile Nick Oliveri playing bass. The songs are solid nearly front to back and the only musical presence that is missed is that of Dave Grohl on drums. No, the disappointment is that the CD doesn’t feel like much of a move forward for a band whose first three albums all had singular, unique identities. Damned good is a step down from the greatness of Songs for the Deaf and Rated R, in particular.
It starts out well enough. The slow, precise “Lullaby” is a spare song, but when part-time vocalist Mark Lanegan starts singing, it becomes something much deeper. Lanegan’s voice has a transformative power, lulling the listener away from what could otherwise have been a tiny, cliché of a song. It also stands as the only surprise you’re likely to find on the disc.
“Medication” and “Everybody Knows That You’re Insane” both drive the disc forward with aggressive rhythms and the kind of hard rock that is hard to find from Grammy-nominated, big-selling bands these days. They both stand as good, but typical, efforts from the band; the songs are performed well, all the ingredients are there, but it’s hard to escape the sense that we’ve heard these tunes before.
A song like the slower, but wonderfully titled “Tangled Up in Plaid,” is the reason that it would be a crime to neglect to buy the album. A song like “Burn the Witch” is the reason that Lullabies still comes close to being a classic.
With Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top adding a touch of Texas blues and Lanegan providing a dry-throat scrape to back up Josh Homme’s high and clear falsetto, is the best song on the album. It exists in a place not far from Led Zeppelin, but belonging entirely to the Queens of the Stone Age. Anyone with a love for rock and roll will be singing along at the end—"Burn the witch, burn to ash and bone.” Demented, sure, but catchy as hell.
Another obvious highlight is the first single, “Little Sister,” which is almost as radio friendly as Songs for the Deaf’s perfect “No One Knows.” It would be safe to predict movie placement and radio overkill for the fun little rocker with the sing-along chorus. Soon after “Little Sister” closes out the first half of the disk, though, the going gets bland. “I Never Came” stands as the kind of near-pop song that makes Queens a still-cool band balanced right on the edge of the mainstream acceptance, “Skin on Skin” just makes for unpleasant, tedious listening.
Intriguingly distorted vocals don’t manage to save “Someone’s in the Wolf” from its arty pretensions. At over seven minutes long, the song devolves into Halloween sound effects and musical noodling that ultimately prove tiresome. From there, most of the remainder of the disc is skip-it filler. The only exceptions are the groovy “You Got a Killer Scene There, Man,” with it’s almost impossible to hear guest vocals, and the mellow “Long, Slow Goodbye.”
The UK version of the album (NME.com is streaming the entire UK release on their site) has a couple songs that we won’t be seeing on the US release, and that’s an absolute shame. The first song, “Like a Drug,” is elevated from one of the Desert Sessions discs and sounds like a song recorded in the late 50’s or early 60’s; the cover of ZZ Top’s “Precious and Grace” is an intense, earthquake of a song. With Billy Gibbons and Mark Lanegan exchanging vocals, this one would have been the perfect bookend to the opener. The US release is poorer for the absence.
Lullabies could have been great, but its second half is too self-indulgent and the overall disc doesn’t present the same kind of step forward that came when the band went from the self-titled album to Rated R to Songs for the Deaf. Lullabies is an album with some great moments that doesn’t quite live up to the expectations.
But those moments of greatness still act as a compelling reason to buy the thing.
© 2005 by the authors of ResurrectionSong. All rights reserved.
Powered by ExpressionEngine