Thursday, February 7, 2013

Jim James "Regions of Light and Sound of God" (8 out of 10 stars)

I'm really shocked that I love this album so much simply because it's not immediately accessible, and the older I get the less patience I have for nuance and subtlety.  And there's a fine line between creativity and creative indulgence that's just noodling and posturing (see Yorke, Thom).  This comes across as a true labor of love from the My Morning Jacket frontman and it grows with each listen.  Lennon-esque at times with a dash of the best of Badly Drawn Boy (where has HE been?), his spiritual longings rarely come across as less than sincere and quite humble and there's enough melody sprinkled around to hold interest.  In fact, this album gets much better with each listen.  Great production too. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tegan and Sara "Heartthrob" (2 out of 10 stars)

Music Oasis back after over a year hiatus!  What has brought me (permanently) out of reviewing retirement?  Why, only the most disappointing album from any artist since the Black Keys "Attack and Release" in 2008 (off the top of my head.  Surely The Strokes are up there somewhere).  But before I put the knife into Tegan and Sara, a few words of praise and explaination are in order.
   First of all, no one has been a bigger fan of the Canadian twins than me.  I have carried their torch, sung their praises, and have been amazed at their albums since 2002's "Since There Was You."  They make beautiful songs with impeccable craft and stellar production.  They have grown as artists on every release and have brought me much joy listening to their music.  I could even argue that in the decade of the 2000's no one has done it better.  I love Tegan and Sara.  Secondly, I have no problem with artists "selling out" if by that you mean becoming more poppy or radio-friendly or whatever.  I want Tegan and Sara to succeed and make a bunch of money; they deserve it.  Pre-releases from them such as "Bodywork" and "Closer" actually had me excited about the upcoming album.
  However....Heartthrob is a complete embarrassment.  I just want the nightmare to be over and someone tell me that it was all a PR stunt.  Check out the song titles alone: "Goodbye, Goodbye," "I Was a Fool," "I'm Not Your Hero," "Drove Me Wild," "How Come You Don't Want Me," "I Couldn't Be Your Friend," "Love They Say," and "Now I'm All Messed Up."  Really?  Is this the Teen Mom 2 soundtrack?  Cheesy Taylor Dayne-like 90's synth sounds abound and what the twins I'm sure suppose is a bunch of harmless fun is just excruciating to listen to.  The melodies are juvenile, the beats unimaginative, and the lyrics don't rise much higher than the aforementioned song titles.  Just a complete disappointment of an album, especially when compared with their earlier efforts which had true passion, complexity, imaginative instrumentation, and inspired melodies.  This sounds campy and cheap.  I must, to be fair, say that the opener "Closer" is one of their best songs ever and it's possible to, perhaps, give a passing grade to the 1st 4 songs if the rest of the album had blossomed from there, that is.  But it doesn't.  If you love this album, good for you.  I realize that reviewing is a subjective art.  And I hope that these amazing ladies, who carry themselves with such class, make a ton of money from "Heartthrob."  I just honestly think it doesn't measure up and I can't recommend it.  At all.