I always thought File Under: Easy Listening was a very funny title. But it’s possible that people took it too literally as it didn’t sell all that well. And in Mould’s autobiography he says he didn’t have much time to write songs for this disc and he thinks it suffered. Of the three Sugar discs, this is definitely the weakest, although there are some great moments on it.
The disc opens with “Gift” which has some ragged distorted guitars. It’s got some noises and grungy sounding solos showing that FU:EL was a joke. Although, the overall sound is kind of a cleaner version of the angry songs on Beaster. “Company Book” is kind of a pounder, until the voice comes in and you realize…it’s not Mould! It’s got a catchy chorus, but after the kind of underwhelming opener, it’s a strange place for a song that’s also not so dynamic. Especially when it’s followed by “Your Favorite Thing” another great pop song from Mould—not top tier but a really strong second tier (although that bright, simple guitar solo is a real winner). “What You Want It To Be” is a another decent song (the addition of that extra guitar playing the melody line really makes the song shine. “Gee Angel” is also a high point. A catchy song, but which never quite reaches the heights of the previous albums.
“Panama City Hotel” has the same feel as the opening of Beaster: bright acoustic guitars and a similar riff. But it never really goes anywhere, and the 4 minutes seem. The “do do do do’s” that open “Can’t Help You Anymore” are certainly the brightest spot on the album, and a big pop song as well. “Granny Cool” has a nicely abrasive riff although it seems kind of mean spirited. It’s funny that he tucked “Believe What You’re Saying” at the end of the album. It’s a minor song but it sounds so bright on this album after the other songs. It’s really quite pretty.
And the closer, “Explode and Make Up” is one of Mould’s great angry songs. Unlike Beaster, this one has a happy acoustic field—bnright guitars with that raging distorted guitar underneath. It’s a great slow burner of a song and at five minutes it ends a somewhat lackluster album in a great way.
[READ: March 31, 2013] McSweeney’s #20
McSweeney’s #20 is an issue that I have read before. At least I think I have. My recollection is that it was the last one I read before I started writing about them on this blog. I was hesitant to read it soon again, which is why I waited until now. And while I remember the issue itself (with all of the art), I didn’t remember the stories. So who knows if I actually read it six years ago.
Anyhow, this issue comes jam-packed with art. Every fourth page has full-color artwork on it–many of them are quite famous. It makes for a very beautiful book.
In between these artworks are a number of stories–ranging in size from 2 pages to 30-some pages. There are no letters, and the explanatory and copyright information is on the cover of the book–which would be fine, except that it is covered up by a kind of 3-D artwork. I wonder if the whole text is available anywhere?
The book also comes with a separate pamphlet–an excerpt from Chris Adrian’s Children’s Hospital. I intend to read the novel eventually so I didn’t read the excerpt–although maybe if I put off the novel for six years I should just read the excerpt now. (more…)