>> Featured Artist: Veruca Salt
Still plugging away at those Beatles references*, Veruca Salt released IV last fall, and few of us noticed. It appears the band, which sountracked a small - but notable - part of the post-grunge '90s, is back again for another post-Nina Gordon full-length.
Many didn't like the schizophrenic third album, 2001's Resolver, as much as the Toaster, and we won't fault them for the bad reviews. (Hell, half of us are still reeling from the fact that that little brat actress from the creepy Gene Wilder movie is not in the band after all.)
The album was light on the clever schtick it had pulled off so well with Nina Gordon. And it was probably a bit too heavy on dead-weight numbers, songs that sounded like a band trying to imitate itself.
But a few tracks, namely Louise Post's incredibly honest ballad about losing Dave Grohl, "Imperfectly," the band was as close to greatness as it had ever been.
Which brings us to 2006, five years later and five more years past their prime. And Veruca Salt wants back in. Now on Sympathy for the Record Industry, the band sounds - good god! - like Veruca Salt.
While we're not ready to declare a return to greatness - after all, the sound is still very reminiscent of the 1990s - songs like "So Weird" announce at least a return to form, seemingly both poppy and alive.
While not quite back on the scene (lackluster sales mostly resulting from lackluster promotions), Veruca Salt is far from dead.
* The Beatles' American releases include 1965's VI. Two of VS's other albums, Eight Arms to Hold You (working title of the film Help!) and Resolver (a play on Revolver), are also Beatles allusions.
Oh, thank the Norwegian god above! Sondre Lerche is back. Back, we say. And it's not more of that crooner act he tried on last year. One more move like that and we'll start mispronouncing your name - the pronunciation of which we still are kind of unclear on**
The biggest surprise about Phantom Punch is that it comes packed with one. That's quite a loud guitar you have there, Sondre. You can hear on songs like "John, Let Me Go" that Lerche hasn't lost one bit of his craftmanship, even though he's rapidly approaching the age of 25. On this album, he has confidently expanded his sound - and here's the important part - without it feeling forced, which is something we can't say for his Duper Sessions release last year.
It's certainly nice to have the Scandinavian back. Leave the crooning to us.
** According to Wikipedia, it's pronounced Sän-drə Lâr-Kĕ. Which we're pretty sure sounds like "SAUN-dre LEHR-keh." His asshole fans on his fan forum (who are so tired of having to answer this question to us folks that they appear to have taken down the past posts about how to pronounce it correctly!) say it's agree or disagree and say it's pronounced "SÅNDRE LÆRKE," with the first "A with a halo" pronounced like the "a" in "always," the "E" pronounced like the "e" in "egg," and the "A-E thing" pronounced like the "a" in "camp." Wow.
>> Reverting to: 1965
With the news that Apple, Inc., and the Beatle-founded Apple Corps have kissed and made up over iTunes, this seems fairly appropriate:
(Note the verse-to-chorus costume changes!)