Monday, October 11, 2010

Sufjan Stevens - "The Age of ADZ" (2.0 out of 10)

I've been here before - I really have. Group or artist makes it big and then thinks they have to experiment and get artsy-fartsy or obscure...whatever. Fleetwood Mac with Tusk in 1979. Neil Young with On the Beach in 1974. McCartney with McCartney II in 1980...just off the top of my head. least in those cases the albums were interesting or at least LISTENABLE.
This may be one of the worst cd's I've ever heard - an exercise in the artists' self-indulgence and not something written to be enjoyed on any level. It is Stravinsky-esque if Stravinsky had no talent; John Cage if he had a melodic sense; or it is Gary Numan dicking around the studio one Saturday afternoon in 1980. I will not stand for any of this reviewer nonsense hailing this as a classic or masterpiece as I have read. This emperor is stark naked. Some of the reviews I've read have been painful and laughable as they grasp for straws in just what current artist he can be compared to or has been influenced by. He is a creative writer by trade, not a musician who is expert enough to know what or from whom he is borrowing. Plus, most of these songs are way too long, droning with sounds and flourishes like a creaky metal roof on a windy day. I hope he gets booed off the stage. The simple fact is, this cd is un-listenable. I dare you to use this as road trip music or use this as music beyond an audience of one. I'm hoping that Sufjan is just clowning with us, a la U2 in the Pop Mart period....but I have my doubts. Anyway - bottom line - do not buy this cd unless you really, really hate somebody.

Quickie Reviews form the past 2 months

Once again, dear reader, my absence has not been from lack of listening to new cd's. I have simply not had anything positive to say. So, here are some one sentence reviews of those cd's.

1. John Cougar Mellancamp - "No Better than This" (7.0 out of 10) We will all be better off when this T-Bone production thing just goes away. Nothing necessarily against T-Bone, but this "rustic" style of production is just a gimmick when there are crappy songs involved. I could record shit in Sun Studios.

2. Azure Ray - "Drawing Down the Moon" (5.0 out of 10) If they had continued as Little Red Rocket, these 2 women would be household names and headliners at summer festivals with their God given gift of crafting melodic pop. Instead, they spent way too much time with Conner Oberst and got all artsy on us. Sucks.

3. Robert Plant - "Band of Joy" (6.8 out of 10) Almost in the same vein/idea as mt T-Bone complaining above; the problen isn't necessarily with the genre per's just that the songs drag, guest stars are trotted out to spray paint the dung, and reviewers nod thoughtfully and call it inspired.
4. Grinderman - "Grinderman 2" (7.0 out of 10) I don't get it. Honestly.

5. Eric Clapton - "Clapton" (5.0 out of 10) Humiliating. Sad.

6. K T Tunstall - "Tiger Suit" (5.0 out of 10) Just awful. She once had such promise.

Belle and Sebastian - "Write About Love" 6.6 out of 10

I am broken-hearted and I have been here before. In 1985 Kate Bush released her magnum opus "Hounds of Love." Four long, agonizing (for her fans) years later she finally released a new cd - "The Sensual World." It was a great disappointment; a very mediocre effort. Belle and Sebastian fans have waited 4 and a half years to hear new music from the band. I was excited, thinking that a fresh Stuart Murdoch would be a classic Stuart Murdoch. I am here to report that this is by far their weakest effort as a band. A paint-by-numbers performance lacking vitality, wit, inspiration or punch. There are moments of course - "I Didn't See It Coming," "I Want the World to Stop," "I'm Not Living In the Real World," and the title track remind us (a little bit) of what once was. Oh well - you can't win 'em all. I'm calling this cd "Belle and Sebastian Write About Mediocrity."