Saturday, September 02, 2006

U2: How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

For your consideration, click on the artwork and enjoy U2's most recent released classic album. I'm just sayin'


Ever since the beginning of their career, U2 had a sense of purpose and played on a larger scale than their peers, so when they stumbled with the knowing rocktronica fusion of 1997's Pop -- the lone critical and commercial flop in their catalog -- it was enough to shake the perception held among fans and critics, perhaps even among the group itself, that the band was predestined to always be the world's biggest and best rock & roll band. Following that brief, jarring stumble, U2 got back to where they once belonged with All That You Can't Leave Behind, returning to the big-hearted anthems of their '80s work. It was a confident, cinematic album that played to their strengths, winning back the allegiance of wary fans and critics, who were eager to once again bestow the title of the world's biggest and best band upon the band, but all that praise didn't acknowledge a strange fact about the album: it was a conservative affair. After grandly taking risks for the better part of a decade, U2 curbed their sense of adventure, consciously stripping away the irony that marked every one of their albums since 1991's Achtung Baby, and returning to the big, earnest sound and sensibility of their classic '80s work. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, the long-awaited 2004 sequel to ATYCLB, proves that this retreat was no mere fling: the band is committed to turning back the clock and acting like the '90s never happened.

Essentially, U2 are trying to revirginize themselves, to erase their wild flirtation with dance clubs and postmodernism so they can return to the time they were the social conscience of rock music. Gone are the heavy dance beats, gone are the multiple synthesizers, gone are the dense soundscapes that marked their '90s albums, but U2 are so concerned with recreating their past that they don't know where to stop peeling away the layers. They've overcorrected for their perceived sins, scaling back their sound so far that they have shed the murky sense of mystery that gave The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree an otherworldly allure. That atmospheric cloud has been replaced with a clean, sharp production, gilded in guitars and anchored with straight-ahead, unhurried rhythms that never quite push the songs forward. This crisp production lacks the small sonic shadings that gave ATYCLB some depth, and leaves How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb showcasing U2 at their simplest, playing direct, straight-ahead rock with little subtlety and shading in the production, performance, or lyrics. Sometimes, this works to the band's detriment, since it can reveal how familiar the Edge's guitar has grown or how buffoonish Bono's affectations have become (worst offender: the overdubbed "hola!" that answers the "hello" in the chorus of "Vertigo"). But the stark production can also be an advantage, since the band still sounds large and powerful. U2 still are expert craftsmen, capable of creating records with huge melodic and sonic hooks, of which there are many on HTDAAB, including songs as reassuring as the slyly soulful "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own" and the soaring "City of Blinding Lights," or the pile-driving "All Because of You." Make no mistake, these are all the ingredients that make How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb a very good U2 record, but what keeps it from reaching the heights of greatness is that it feels too constrained and calculated, too concerned with finding purpose in the past instead of bravely heading into the future. It's a minor but important detail that may not matter to most listeners, since the record does sound good when it's playing, but this conservatism is what keeps HTDAAB earthbound and prevents it from standing alongside War, The Joshua Tree, and Achtung Baby as one of the group's finest efforts.

Friday, September 01, 2006

For The Love Of Money: Trump Fires Carolyn!

It was bound to happen, nobody upstages the Donald. NBC announced Thursday that Donald Trump has fired his real life executive, and "Lady Di" TV sidekick, Carolyn Kepcher. According to reports, Carolyn was spending more time working on her celebrity status than the Trump golf courses she ran, and that kind of stuff just doesn't make good business sense.

"Donald and I had different visions for my future role in the company." she said. I
guess her vision included continued employment by the Trump organization, and co-starring on his television show "The Apprentice." Trump's vision did not. He incorporated larger roles for his kids on the show last season. Don't worry though, Carolyn retained an agent with International Creative Management and, in 2004, published a book called "Carolyn 101: Business Lessons from 'The Apprentice's' Straight Shooter." She even tried to audition to replace "the Black seat" held by Star Jones on ABC's "The View," sources said. I guess Carolyn just ain't street enough for Babs and her yappin' yentas.

Hey Carolyn? The show is called "The Apprentice." Umm, did you ever realize even for a second that you were working on a game show where in essence the winner replaces you? I'm just sayin!

My guess is that in the long run, she'll have a better fate than the show that spawned her popularity. Did anyone watch "The Apprentice" last season? It died on Monday nights competing against CBS's powerhouse sitcom "Two And A Half Men." Although the promos of "From 'Huge' to 'Medium" were quite clever,
even Trump couldn't on put his spin the ratings dip. Don't be surprised if NBC turns the table on Trump and uses his catchphrase against him. The show is obviously running out of steam, and this season looks like it's last... we hope.

For your consideration:
The O'Jays - For The Love Of Money Mp3

More Information on Beck's Nausea

No, he's not sick. Ok, perhaps he's sick, but like in a good way. I just got another single from Beck's new album "The Information," and it's called Nausea. Threw the CD single in my car and played it all afternoon. My review of the song can be done with a simple math equasion:

Lord Only Knows (from Odelay)

+Black Tamborine (from Guero)
=Nausea (from The Information)

Check Plus for you if you're still with me. I love the song's pulse, from the refrain of "Rock On" right down to the background "Fee Fi Fo Fum's." Needless to say, I smell the blood of a hit song. I think you will too. I'm just sayin'

For your consideration:
Beck - Nausea Mp3

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Information On Beck

Here's the 411:

Beck's new cd The Information is set for release on October 3rd by Interscope, and apparently is just a few fries short of being super-sized. We already knew about the color-form cover, but according to Billboard magazine, the album contains 15 tracks (the most songs on any Beck album to date) and a DVD featuring videos for each track. What, no toy?

Now if you are like me, and you just can't wait for the new CD to drop, enjoy for your consideration Beck's last two releases, "Guero" and it's re-mixed companion piece "Guerolito." Click on the album art below for the link.

Track listing for "The Information"

Elevator Music
Think I'm In Love
Cell Phone's Dead
Soldier Jane
Strange Apparition
Dark Star
Movie Theme
We Dance Alone
No Complaints
1000 BPM
The Information
New Round
Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton

For your consideration:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

UPDATES: Eddie Van Halen & The Black Crowes

Heya folks, I just wanted to update you on the topics some of my previous posts.

Stereogum has the two new Eddie Van Halen songs available for downloading. Click here for the songs. Click here for my article on the guitarist/perv. Oh, and one more time, enjoy the dirty old man picture to the right.

Also, I found the Black Crowes double CD "The Lost Crowes" available for your consideration. Click here for my article on the album. Click on the album cover for the link. The password is: N!MrOd

The Lost Crowes
Paint An 8 - Another Roadside Tragedy
If It Ever Stops Raining - Wyoming And Me
Predictable - Never Forget This Song
Lifevest - Grinnin - My Heart's Killing Me
Peace Anyway
A Conspiracy - Evil Eye - Cursed Diamond
P.25 London - Dirty Haired Halo
High Head Blues - Feathers - Nonfiction
Tied Up And Swallowed - Wiser Time
Sunday Night Buttermilk Waltz
Descending - Low Down - Tornado
Song Of The Flesh - Thunderstorm 654

Just a side note, it looks like Katie and Chris might be getting back together, despite those persistent rumors of her affair with Owen Wilson. I told you not to let her out of the house wearing that! I'm just sayin!

Punch or Lunch: Tia Carrere

Well kids, somebody had to call notice to it, and it looks like I'm the one that is up to the task. The Emmys were held Sunday night, and while I am disappointed that Steve Carrel of "The Office" lost his category, I am overjoyed that the Hollywood community as a whole has finally been taken down a notch. You see, the IRS has decided that all those swanky gift bags given freely to the privileged few who are nominated, win, or even present an award on these shows are considered income, and therefore it is taxable.

Which brings me to our Wednesday feature: Punch or Lunch. Today it is all about actress, Tia Carrere.

Tia was quoted in an article recently on the topic of the taxable gift bag.
While eyeing racks of free clothing she said this: "I am feeling guiltily gluttonous. The big question on everybody's mind is, are we going to pay taxes? I probably shouldn't say this, it sounds whiny, but we pay so much already, why should we pay more?"


Tia, you ignorant slut. You've made millions of dollars flaunting your amp
le bosom and making really bad movies. Yet somehow, amazingly, you keep working. It is apparent that you really have no idea how lucky you are. Ever care to think for a moment that there are people out there in the "real" world who earn in a whole year what you get for free from just one of those "celebrity outreach" events at the Emmy swag suite? The IRS should make you pay double for what you said, you doof. You really wanna complain about paying just the tax on a free $15,000 trip to Cabo San Lucas, free plastic surgery, free iPods, and free designer jeans, and perfumes? You are an actress (and I use that term refrerring to you with great suspicion), you get paid obscene amounts of money to do very little in return. So does your quote sound whiny? You bet your reconstructed ass is does, and for that, you deserve a punch... a free punch.

Think I'm sounding a little bit upset? Here is a picture of the gift bag given out at the Emmys by Entertainment Tonight/People Magazine, you be the judge. Now mind you, this bag was given out in addition to the official bag of the Emmys!

The ad on EBay (bid on it here) says the following about the bag:

"From the hottest Emmy Party of the year comes this one-of-a-kind gift bag that went to celebs such as Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman, Sandra Oh, Meghan Mullaly, and Charlie Sheen to name a few. Continuing in the tradition of providing the most coveted gift bag, guests left the ET Emmy Party with this exclusively designed Cole Haan "Weekender" bag, set to retail for $400 this fall in Cole Haan boutiques. And that's just for the bag!

This ET-People gift bag, valued in excess of $2,500, is filled with more than 35 high-end products from brands including Art of Shaving, CBS and MTV DVDs, Crabtree & Evelyn, DDF, Demeter fragrance, and Play-Doh set, Fairytale Brownies, Fenix, Freeze 24-7, Gal Pal deoderant, Hiya mints, IdeaVillage, Jaqua, JellyBelly, Joico Hair Care, Lärabars, L'Occitane, Lorac Cosmetics, Maybell ine, Nars, OPI, People, See's Candies, Sojourn Bags, Sony Image Station, Tea Forte, Trapp Candles, True Lemon and Urban Detox."

Ugh. I'm nausious. Does Eva Longoria really need more free crap? Isn't the hit show and the basketball boyfriend enough? I'm just sayin'

Hey Tia? I know you are likely so self centered that you only read the parts of the article that involved you, but I think that you, as well as my readers, might wanna check this part out: "Randy Wayne, a 25-year-old actor who moved to California from Oklahoma a few years ago, reflected on the strangeness of it all, even as he was being offered his pick of Coby electronic toys at Melanie Segal's suite. "I feel awkward taking things-— like, my God, I can have a gift?" said Wayne, who will play a young Luke Duke in "Dukes of Hazzard 2." But they want you to have it and they want you to talk about it. It's funny, because when you can finally afford it, it's free."

Telling quote ain't it? week's topic? Punch Or Lunch: The Makers of "Dukes of Hazzard 2" Aww to hell with it, let's just punch them too.

For your consideration:
George Baker - Little Green Bag Mp3

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Zero 7 At The Hollywood Bowl (Part Deux!)

Heya loyal readers, here is some video footage just uploaded from Monday night's Zero 7 concert at the Hollywood Bowl! Watch them in order to get the full experience, and yes, each take begins with a repeat of their introduction, you're not hallucinating. When you come down, go read my review, I'm just sayin'.....





Monday, August 28, 2006

Zero 7 At the Hollywood Bowl

Last night I had the good fortune to see Zero 7 and friends perform at the famed Hollywood Bowl. For those of you who read my past article lamenting the Bowl (The Flaming Lips Show), you should take solace in knowing that not every show there is like that. For this chilled, down-tempoed concert, the audience (at least from where I was seated) toned down the Trader Joe's and actually paid attention to the acts.

I do have one question though. Why was Zero 7 not the headliner? That distinction belonged to the Gotan Project, a band who does not nearly have the same rep in this country as Zero 7. Because of this, the band, who already is a rarity to see on the road, played what seemed like an abbreviated set, lasting only an hour and fifteen minutes. Zero 7 was done by 9:15pm. Shame.

But what a glorious set it was. Last night Zero 7 was fronted by two very distinct lead vocalist, Sia, the chanteuse, and Jose Gonzalez, the Swedish folkie. When not singing, Sia danced like a flapper from the roaring '20s and when it was her turn to the mic, she took it with the raw emotion of a torch song singer, and played it all the way to the back row. We were mesmerized. Gonzalez provided introspection to the songs he worked on, and was a nice change to Sia's theatrics. Throw in some of Zero 7's trademark instrumentals, and you have a recipe for a wonderful show. I'm just sayin' it wasn't long enough!

I found this television appearance of the band performing "Somersault" on You Tube. I think it will give you a better idea of what they are all about, and for your consideration I've posted 2 songs. The first song is a live version of a song found on "Simple Things" called Destiny with Sia on vocals, and a remix of Future, a song off of their current album entitled "The Garden," which features Gonzalez.