Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Early Dispatches from the Stereo

>> Featured Artist: Rilo Kiley

Someimes it seems a band can do nothing wrong. That's what I would have told you had you approached me a few months ago about the new Rilo Kiley album, Under the Blacklight. Then I heard the leaked single - "The Moneymaker" - but I reserved judgment, sending a "Seriously, guys?" email to the band's info@ address late one night instead.

So it was with sweaty palms that I picked up Blacklight (with the New P's release) a few weeks ago.

Two spins in is as far as I could get. This album registers just north of "pure shit." Whatever it lacks in inspiration and interesting storytelling (two things I never thought would dry up for this combo) is made up for by forced sex themes and otherwise depraved goings-on (e.g., a disco song. Yes, a disco song - and probably not for irony's sake, unless of course it's double irony - "isn't it ironic that we actually wanted to do this and not just for irony's sake?").

The lyrics - usually the band's strong suit - are consistently weaker than anything I've ever heard come out of this band. Nearly every chorus (actually, it MIGHT BE EVERY CHORUS) comprises one words or phrase, usually including the title of the song, repeated.

Looking for something nice to say...hmm...the guitar work is usually pretty good. And, yes, there are some tolerable moments (the sole Sennett-penned tune "Dreamworld," is interesting; the start-a-dance-craze numbers "Moneymaker" and "Smoke Detector" are somewhat fun if you're drunk; "The Angels Hung Around" - even though I'm pretty sure the chorus rips off somebody else's melody - and the title track grace us with some much-needed acoustic guitar and nice melodies). But even these songs would have been easily skipped on More Adventurous. And these unoffensive songs are almost entirely drowned out by the awful (awful!) songs - "15," "Breakin' Up" - the aforementioned disco track - and the lame, cliched "Give a Little Love."

To be completely fair, I respect Jenny Lewis and company for not wanting to make the same album over and over again. Now I just ask that they move - without hesitation (i.e., cancel all tours) - to make some music nothing like this one.

>> Album Lookout: Challengers

The New Pornographers - Released: August 21, 2007 Matador

After one listen, Challengers leaves New P fanatics a little confused. Could it be that Carl Newman actually made something MEDIOCRE? Could this make August 21st the most disappointing new-release day of 2007?

But Challengers has something that Under the Blacklight doesn't - subtlety. And on nearly every track, repeated listens leave you hooked - just like on previous albums. This time it didn't come as fast.

The Onion put it this way: "If previous New Pornographers albums are the musical equivalent of Jolt Cola, Challengers is the caffeine-free diet version: less sugary, more mature, initially not as invigorating, but ultimately just as addictive."

Exactly. "Unguided," (REMOVED at the request of "Web Sheriff") Newman's attempt at a 6-minute epic, is the perfect example of this (and we're no fans of the 6-minute song, generally speaking).

Honestly, this isn't a 5-star album as each of the first three were. It's probably more of a 4-star. But then again last week I would have said it was a 3.75-star album. You be the judge.

>> Reverting to: 1967

It's summer in the Northern Hemisphere, so it's time for The Toaster to get his Beach Boys fix. I've had Pet Sounds and Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE on the mind for the past few weeks as I read the new Brian bio Catch a Wave. And now you can join me!

Here's the stereo version of the SMiLE classic "Heroes and Villains" (single version from Hawthorne, CA).

1 comment:

Web Sheriff said...

Protecting Your Rights
on the Internet
Tel 44-(0)208-323 8013
Fax 44-(0)208-323 8080

Hi The Toaster Talks,

On behalf of Matador Records and The New Pornographers, we would kindly ask you NOT to post newly released (non preview) New Pornographers links on this site / thread.

We do appreciate that - of course - you are fans of / are promoting The New Pornographers but, by the same token, you must also appreciate that, by posting a pirate copy of the album or tracks from the album pre-release / upon release (or linking to pirate copies), you are potentially causing considerable inconvenience and we are sure that you would not want to be personally responsible (or liable) for all of the resulting damage and disruption.

Thank you for respecting the artist’s and label’s wishes and, if you want good quality, non-pirated preview tracks, “My Rights Versus Yours” and “Myriad Harbour” are being made freely available to fans off the label’s and artist’s official web-sites, (check-out www.matadorrecords.com and www.thenewpornographers.com for full details), which you are most welcome to host / post etc. Unfortunately, "Unguided" is not one of the designated, preview tracks and, as such, it would be greatly appreciated if you could remove it asap / substitute it with "My Rights ..." .

Whilst writing, we’d add that The New Pornographers and Matador Records are not at all against free music BUT, at the end of the day, it should be (and is) the artist’s decision as to whether or not they effectively allow the unauthorized distribution of their album on-line before / upon its release - as it’s THEIR MUSIC !! Thank you, again, for respecting their wishes.

As you will appreciate, this e-mail - containing, as it does, a position that is potentially prejudicial to our clients’ open / formal position - is written on a without prejudice basis and, as such, all of our clients’ accumulated, worldwide rights remain strictly reserved : please excuse this required formality.

With Thanks & Regards,