Tuesday, October 10, 2006

War Is Over (If You Want It)

>> Featured Artist: Christine Fellows

While the United States is busy funding wars and wiretaps, our logging-friendly neighbors to the north have been busy funding artists like Winnipeg's Christine Fellows. (From the liner notes: "We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Music Fund for this project.) The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle ascribed Fellows the almighty title of his "favorite songwriter," which says more than we can say right in a blog entry.

Fellows' songwriting is unique in that she is not a songwriter as much as she is a storyteller. Her lyrics, often without rhyme or obvious meter, read like a novelist's journal entries. Listen to "Vertebrae."

2005's Paper Anniversary could be the most overlooked, untrumpeted album of that year. The writing is inspired and seemingly thematic. If it wasn't enough to have a solidly written album, merely listening to Fellows' voice triggers something in the nervous system.

The Weakerthans' John K. Samson has good taste in wives.

>> Album Lookout: Friendly Fire
Sean Lennon - Released: October 3, 2006 Capitol

Sean Lennon's career hasn't not taken off. He's a relatively talented songwriter and he has a decent voice. He's got the backing of Capitol Records and his celebrity friends. And by all accounts he couldn't be a nicer guy.

He's just not his father. And because of that he will never escape into the realm of greatness.

His first album was just weird, even though it supposedly showed much potential as some revisionist historians have now remembered. The potential, of course, was lived up to (it's good to live up to something when you're Sean Lennon) with last week's release of Friendly Fire.

"Dead Meat," the pre-release leaked track, has Lennon sounding more like Elliott Smith or Badly Drawn Boy than the Sean Lennon we knew. It's a solid track, without a doubt. And the video features Lindsay Lohan. Woot.

[Bizzarely, it seems Sean was dating Lindsay Lohan, after 2005's New York Post public request for a girl between 18 and 45 and with an IQ above 130." Lohan apparently repaid the debt from being allowed to date a Beatle spawn by appearing in the video and giving him Hollywood cred.]

>> Reverting to: 1970

Having just seen The U.S. vs. John Lennon on what would have been his 66th birthday (and was Sean's 31st, as well as the 31st anniversary of John and Yoko's winning their immigration fight), we felt it appropriate to dish out some more Lennon.

Plastic Ono Band was Lennon's first solo album and the only one influenced directly from his primal scream sessions. It's also an album of loss and longing, mostly for his mother, but also from the loss of his band earlier that year.

"God" hits home in a way that only some Lennon songs do; he self-references, knocks religion, politics and culture (including idols Elvis and Bob Dylan) and comes back to a haunting resolution, "I don't believe in Beatles. I just believe in me. Yoko and me."

On the heels of the band's March 1970 dissolution, this statement seems particularly tragic - not foolhardy or silly as it might later have translated.

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