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Archive for the ‘Mark Dunn’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THERAPY?–One Cure Fits All (2006).

I’ve always liked Therapy?’s brand of aggro-alt metal/whatever you call it.  Their earlier stuff was harsh and dark. During their middle years they grew surprisingly commercial (although they’ve always had a bit of a commercial side to them, even at their harshest).

The last album I got from them was 2003’s High Anxiety (the first in a series of grotesque and unpalatable CD covers which culminates with this horrorshow).  I think the band must have lost any kind of distribution deal in the States, because it is still very hard to find these later discs (without paying way too much for them).

I was delighted to find this one on Lala.  And it stands as a pretty solid Therapy? disc.  They have always had guitars that sounded very sharp, almost electronic, which I thought really exemplified their take on angry literate metal.  And this disc opens up with it (after the 30 second “Outro”)

Their earlier tracks (like the awesome “Teethgrinder”) employed sonic tricks that really propelled the songs onto genius territory.  These songs are a bit more conventional, and yet they’re hardly commercial.  The most likely single would be the “ballad” (which also rocks pretty hard near the end) “Dopamine, Seratonin, Adrenaline.”

The back half of the disc is more melodic and catchy (a sort of reversion back to their middle period?). The only song that veers too far into pop territory is the closer, “Walk Through Darkness.”  It’s almost a bit cheesey, especially after all the heaviness of the earlier tracks.

It’s a fun disc, and a shame that it (and those BBC Sessions, which I am drooling about!) have yet to get a proper release in the states.

[READ: April 28, 2010] “Austerity Program”

In one of the letters to The Believer this month a reader suggests that they start printing fiction.  No reply is given to the letter.  At the same time, here is a piece that is certainly fiction.  There is no comment or explanation attached (which is surprising as The Believer usually tells us everything that’s going on in the magazine.

So, I’m going to treat this as a short story.  Tucker Nichols is responsible for the art direction, while David Khoury wrote it.  It is printed as a series of letters on official letterhead (with a logo but no name) stationary.

Much like with the novel Ella Minnow Pea, the “austerity” is a cost saving measure in which letters are removed from general use. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BARENAKED LADIES-Barenaked Ladies Are Me (2006) & Barenaked Ladies Are Men (2007).

Barenaked Ladies decided to forgo a major label altogether and just use Nettwerk as a distributor. They called their own self publishing “label” Desperation Records. [There was a fascinating article in Wired way back when this was happening, which made me want to get their CD, and it’s still online here.] The details are sketchy to me now, but it seemed like they thought they could make it on their own, and Nettwerk seemed pretty innovative as well. So, they released two albums in the span of about five months, and the results are below.

areme.jpgBarenaked Ladies Are Me. As I said, I was excited that BNL were basically doing the whole thing themselves, and wouldn’t have any label pressure to release the next big thing. So, I was a bit disappointed at first that the album stayed in the same “mature” vein as Everything to Everyone. There’s nothing crazily exciting on the CD except for the last song “Wind It Up,” which is the rockingest thing they’ve done in years.

The one song that really stuck out for me though, was “Bank Job” a really catchy Ed Robertson sung song about, of all things, a botched bank job.  It is funny without being silly, and it is so catchy! The song gets stuck in my head for days and days.

As for the rest of the record, once I started listening a few times, and now having listened to it again for the first time in a while, it’s a very solid outing. Again, “Bank Job” and “Wind It Up” are the two tracks that really stand out, but the rest are solid, well-crafted songs. And, here I pay my respects to Kevin Hearn and Jim Creeggan. Usually I don’t enjoy their songs as much, but (and maybe it’s because they don’t sing them themselves) “Sound of Your Voice” is an up tempo singalong, “Everything Had Changed” is a pretty, mellow ballad, and “Peterborough and the Kawarthas” is a pretty, slow song, that really gets into your brain. These are real highlights of the record. Oh and what is Peterborough and the Kawarthas? Why not see for yourself.

So, I give the BNL Are Me a big thumbs up.

aremen.jpgBarenaked Ladies Are Men. Five months after Are Me, came this follow up. The packaging and styling of the disc is very similar to the other one (as you can see by the covers). I wasn’t even sure that it was a new record. Well, it turns out that these are more songs from the same recording session. And, rather than releasing a double album, they did a Use Your Illusion I and II type of thing (there, how many reviews of BNL refer to GNR?)

The problem, such as it is, is twofold: there are really too many songs on this record. Are Me had 13, and this one has 16, which may just be 3 too many. The other is that several of the songs sound like other songs, both from Are Me and from Are Men. There are at least two songs that start out with the same vocal melody line as “Bank Job,” and they’re both sung by Ed Robertson. And the very first song, “Serendipity” sounds an awful lot like one of the songs on Are Me. Fortunately, the songs are catchy, and removed from Are Me, Are Men is probably just as strong a collection. But really 29 songs is a bit much.

The allmusic review suggests that this one is a bit more rocking and diverse than Are Me, and that’s true. The first 8 or 9 songs show a nice breadth of style and feeling. I still think the record runs a bit too long, but overall these two records together are a very good sign of future things from BNL.

And good luck to them and their Desperation “label.”

[READ: December 27, 2007] Ella Minnow Pea.

Sarah read this book over the summer, I think. I sounded great, so I put it in my Amazon “order later” cart, and promptly forgot about it. (This was before I used any kind of reasonable system for keeping track of books). Anyhow, I stumbled upon it while placing holiday orders, and decided to check it out. And, hurrah, our library had it! (more…)

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