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Archive for the ‘Paul Davis’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: GUSTER-Easy Wonderful (2010).

This Guster album is confusing.  It’s rather short (compared to their other discs).  Combined with the (kind of flimsy) cardboard packaging, it feels almost like an EP.  It also seems to be kind of religious (although I don’t think it is)–like a themed EP.  And yet it isn’t off-putting or anything (a few mentions of Jesus is all, although that’s a lot more than usual).

But, like most of Guster’s releases, it’s super catchy kind of alternative jangly pop.  After one or two listens the songs are instantly recognizable.  There isn’t a bad song in the bunch.  However, they’re also mildly underwhelming compared to their previous releases.  The songs feel a bit more subtle, but really it seems like they might be just a little too smooth.  The dynamics aren’t quite as exciting as they have been.

Having said all that, the disc is still pretty great and I find myself humming a lot of these songs all day long.

[READ: June 18, 2011] Five Dials Number 12

Five Dials Number 12 has a theme explicitly stated on the cover.  The premise of the theme is that the Conservative Party of Britain had been claiming (in their TV ads and billboards) that Britain was broken.  This idea was relentlessly pushed across Britain.  And Five Dials wondered if people thought that that was true in general.  So they asked 42 citizens (no idea what kind of random sample it may have been, realistically) and they recorded the results.

The rest of the issue has some of the standard Five Dials material we’ve come to expect: essays and fiction, advice and lists.  The theme gives an interesting tone to the proceedings.

CRAIG TAYLOR-A Letter from the Editor: On Broken Britain and Nick Dewar
Taylor addresses much of what is said above.  David Cameron (I still can’t get used to him being Prime Minister, it’s still Gordon Brown in my head–I guess Cameron hasn’t done much yet) is the man who keeps trying to “mend our broken society.”  Even though (and statistics are similar in the U.S.):

They found that violent crime had almost halved since 1995, while crime generally fell by an extraordinary 45%. The figures for teenage pregnancies – a favourite of those talking about social decay – remain constant since Labour came to power in 1997; so too do those for teenage abortions.

The rest of the letter is devoted to the passing of Nick Dewar.  Dewar drew the illustrations for Five Dials Number One.  I really liked Dewar’s style, and his absurdist sensibilities.  Taylor says that Dewar’s color work was even better.  And I think he’s right. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AUDIOSLAVE-Audioslave (2002).

Despite the pedigree of this band: Rage Against the Machine + Chris Cornell, I wasn’t all that interested in the band when they came out.  I was over Rage and was bored by Cornell’s solo stuff.  But then recently, someone donated a copy of this album to th elibrary, so I thought I’d see what all of the fuss was about (nine years ago).

There are times when this album is really superb.  The Rage guys get an amazingly full sound out of their instruments (the choruses of “Show Me How to Live” are so full).  And when it works, and Cornell’s amazing voice is in full force, this seems like a genius pairing.

But there’s a lot that feels kind of clunky here (and there’s some really bad choices of guitar solo work by Tom Morello–the weird noises that compriose he solo of “What You Are”–in Rage the noises were weird but exciting and inflammatory, these are just kind of dull.  Worse yet, is the, well, stupid solo in “Like a Stone”–boring and ponderous at the same time).  Although he redeems himself somewhat with the cool solo on the otherwise dull “Intuition”.

The biggest surpise comes in “Like a Stone” which is insanely catchy and mellow–something one assumed Rage didn’t know how to do).  Lyrically the song is pretty stupid (as are most of the songs), but the combination of melody and Cornell’s great vocal lines really raise this song high–shame about the solo).  Also, a song like “Shadow of the Sun” seems to highlight Cornell’s more mellow moments (and shows that the Rage guys can actually play that slow), and they all seem to be in synch.

And there are several songs that rock really hard, sounding at times like Rage and at time like Soundgarden, but working on all cylinders together.  “Cochise” and “Set It Off” are simply great riff rock songs.

But ten or so years later, and twenty years since Badmotorfinger (my favorite Soundgarden album), it’s nice to hear Cornell rocking again.  Although man, the record is too long!

[READ: June 1, 2011] Five Dials Number 8

For Issue Number 8, Five Dials went to Paris.  And so the whole issue is given over to French concerns and ideas.  For a magazine that didn’t need a change of pace, it’s a delightful change of pace.  The feel of the magazine is different, and there’s an air of vacation about it (which is not to suggest that it is slacking off in any way), and it feels really vibrant.

I don’t know a lot about France in general.  I mean, I’ve been there, and I keep up with things, but I am not a Francophile by any means. So a lot of this stuff was simply new to me, which is always fun.  What I especially liked about the issue was that they were not afraid to show some of France’s uglier sides as well–it’s not just a tourism booster.

It even starts out differently than the other issues. (more…)

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