Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I listened to these albums mostly because of the hype surrounding them...and when I finished I didn't know what "they" were talking about.

This band, for all intents and purposes, is Coldplay Light. They try to survive with sentimental lyrics and large arrangements. Their debut album was listenable about 4.5 times through and then I'd heard enough. With this release I can't remember if I got through more than 75%. I grabbed it (along with 5,000 others) off Oink, listened a bit, and promptly got that filth off of my computer and iPod. Haven't missed it at all. The single from it appears on the radio as great but it's like finding a small diamond in a mound of dog crap. Why bother getting dirty? Save your time, your money, and most importantly you ears.

Sam's Town was supposed to be the record of the year. Shucks. The Killers went from unsung indie heroes, to super pop-indie (a la Franz Ferdinand), to over-hyped saviors in the span of about a year and a half. I admire them for shooting for the stars on this album, but the old addage of trying too hard definately comes into play on this album. It has some bright spots but they can't mask the other mediocre songs surrounding them. The reviewer on Pitchfork writes about how Brandon Flowers tries too hard to become Bruce Springsteen. If he was trying to capture The Boss' storytelling Flowers totally missed like a 5 yr. old shooting basketball to a 10 foot hoop...not even hitting the bottom of the net. They also try to embody the arena-rock stylings of U2. This too fails in many regards. As I kept listening to this album I kept waiting, and waiting, track to track for those stand-out singles and lost gems like Hot Fuss. Alas, they popped up a couple times but the filler lacked any bite. At best this album can be considered average. Hot Fuss has been so overplayed that I can't recall how good the singles sounded before I'd heard them 300 times. The lead single from Sam's Town has Flowers singing, "you don't look a thing like Jesus" but then again this album isn't the savior record of the year everyone's saying it was to become.

I'd heard about Ray LaMontagne from a live segment on Indie 103 (L.A. radio station "specializing in Indie music"). I liked what I heard and then I heard him again on NPR promoting his new record Till The Sun Turns Black. I listened to this album on the way into work (much like I did with The Weepies) since it was supposed to mellow and easy to listen to. This was supposed to be LaMontagne's break-out record. I know it will be a big seller, and people will praise his song-writing and arrangements, but again I was expecting more. When music get's hpyed to the point it's supposed to change the music landscape and make people listen I want it to backed up. This is a much stronger effort than the albums listed about but still...I found myself leaning into my car stereo trying to hear what Ray was singing to me. Many of the tracks are sung in a whisper. I understand this as a technique to draw the listener into the singer's world and make you a more aware listener, but after a while I became frustrated with trying so hard to get into LaMontagne's head. Ray LaMontagne certainly is a tallented musician and would look forward to what he'll produce next over the coming years, but don't be shocked when you don't find Magnetic Pole-reversing music hyped about here.

1 comment:

Ian said...

Your comments about Keane and the Killers are spot on!

I can't believe that either band have gotten away with it as long as they have.