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Archive for the ‘Creem’ Category

nevermindSOUNDTRACK: THE FLAMING LIPS-Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2003).

yoshimiHow do you follow up the fantastic Soft Bulletin?  If you’re The Flaming Lips, you simultaneously pull back and push forward.  I often thing of Yoshimi as Bulletin part 2 but that’s really not right or fair.  Yoshimi has a more Pink Floyd vibe: it’s quite mellow and folky.  But nothing the Lips do can be completely commercial, so you get things in every song that add immensely to the sound, yet prevent it from complete accessibility.

The opening song “Fight Test” begins with an ominous voice saying “The test begins…  NOW!!” with loud distorted crashes, and yet it quickly turns into one of their most delicate and catchy songs.  The only nod to peculiarity is the watery bass lines that fill the song.  It’s a mystery why this song wasn’t huge.

The next track, “One More Robot” is a delicate song reminiscent of Radiohead with the walking bassline and soft vocals.  This leads to the fabulous title track “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Ropbots Pt 1.”  In which yes, Yoshimi disciplines her body to take on the evil machines.  It’s another shoulda-been single, with strumming acoustic guitar and more of that fabulous fat bass. ” Pt 2,” on the other hand is a noisy cacophonous march depicting the fight.  It includes Yoshimi P-We from the Boredoms and OOIOO adding appropriate shrieks and screams.

Two more delicate songs follow: “In the Morning of the Magicians” is one of their longer songs and is quite mellow.  It also features a very lengthy instrumental section with more of that awesome bass.  “Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell” is the most techno sounding song I can think of by the Lips.  It seems like maybe that touring work with Beck influenced them a bit.

“Are You a Hypnotist??” is a little louder and plays with the ascending chord progressions that Wayne does so well.   An uplifting track, with fun, interesting notes thrown in.  “It’s Summertime” has some great rubbery bouncing bass noises in the beginning, and it slowly morphs into a heavenly chorus.

The real highlight is “Do You Realize??”  It’ a song that goes from happy to sad to happy all in the space of a few lines.  But musically it is uplifting, with choruses and swelling orchestration.  I gather this was used for some ads, but I’m just surprised it wasn’t everywhere!

“All We Have is Now” is another delicate song, with gentle verses sung in an impossibly high falsetto.  The chorus is the most interesting part, with great bass notes interrupting the reverie.  The album ends with a gorgeous instrumental “Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)” which is an apt title (Pavonis Mons being a volcano of Mars) and it sounds quite interstellar.

What’s most notable about this album is that there’s nothing that stands out as peculiar from the rest of the record (except “Yoshimi Pt 2”). It’s a very  constant record, mellow and comforting.  And yet I’m not going to call it safe, because it’s not.  I don’t know if it made as many critical lists as Bulletin, but I know it sold better, and it seems like a really good place to start for latter days Lips.

[READ: February 18, 2009] Never Mind the Pollacks

After reading several Pollack stories in McSweeney’s I discovered that he had written a novel. This novel.

With an awesome title! Most of the awesomeness is purely luck that his name is Pollack (Never Mind the Debraskis doesn’t have the same ring). (more…)

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metalSOUNDTRACK: Hmmm….

There’s so much to choose from to go with this book.  And yet, despite how much I loved metal in high school, I really didn’t like hair metal at all.  In fact, when looking at the bands listed at the end of this book, there were very few that I own or intentionally listened to.

The bands that I liked in this book were: Ratt and Whitesnake.  I also liked Motley Crue’s first two records, but I gave up on them once their makeup went from Kiss to CoverGirl.  Nevertheless, I’m not going to review any of that music here, I’m just going to let you soak in the beauty of this book.

[READ: February 8, 2009] American Hair Metal

My brother-in-law received this book for Christmas. And he proudly showed it to me when we were visiting this weekend. I was immediately hooked, and rather than just flipping through the photos as I thought I might, I actually read the thing cover to cover.

So this book is a loving (or so it says) look at American hair metal of the 1980s and 1990s. The book is basically comprised of three things: outrageous photos, hilarious quotes and occasional comments from Blush. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SLOAN-Parallel Play (2008).

I’ve enjoyed Sloan since my friend Al played me their first single “Underwhelmed” back in the 1990s.  Unlike Al, however, I have enjoyed them ever since.  In fact, a few of their discs rank up as my favorites of all time (Between the Bridges, in particular).

The one thing I have never been able to do, however, is keep track of who is who in the band and who writes/sings which songs.  I think if I were younger and had more free time I’d be all over keeping these things straight.  However, at this point, it’s not worth the effort.  Which is fine, as I can’t decide who is my favorite songwriter anyway.  Just when I’m sure that “Witches Wand” is my favorite track on the record, I remember “All I Am is All I’m Not” or “I’m Not a Kid Anymore” and I give up trying to decide which guy makes me happiest.

What’s interesting about this album is that (at least according to one interview) the four guys wrote and played each one of their songs by themselves.  There are 13 tracks which means they each got 3 songs and someone got a bonus track.  The joke of the title is that, much like 2 year-olds who play next to each other but don’t interact, this album was played by 4 friends who never interacted with each other.

So, you get 4 songwriters, playing the full spectrum of their ideas, but who are all still Sloan, and you get a wildly divergent album that retains the overall sound of the band.  It’s really tremendous.   This album is also under 40 minutes, so you get great hook-filled songs that come in, rock your world, and then leave.  It’s also hard for me to pick a favorite Sloan album at this point, because each one has so many good songs.  Their last album, Never Hear the End of It was a little too long at 70 minutes, but it was still full of fantastic songs (and I guess if you have 4 songwriters each contributing something you’d be hard pressed to create crap).

Sloan are back, and still producing great stuff.  Now, if anyone wants to tell me who is who, that would be terrific.

[READ: October 29, 2008] “Hag”

I didn’t realize this was an excerpt until the very end where it states that you can read an expanded version of the story here.  I thought the story seemed unfinished, so that makes sense.  Anyhow, this story won the 2007 Summer Literary Seminar.

This two page excerpt shows Lance and the narrator hitching a ride to Calgary.  The time is the mid 70s, as noted by Creem Magazine (I used to love that mag!), Joni Mitchell’s Hejira record and vinyl albums lovingly stored in plastic sleeves.  (more…)

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