CD Review: Memphis [2010]

The Magic Kids
Release: 5/2010
Label: True Panther Sounds

1. “Phone” – A-
2. “Candy” – A+
3. “Superball” – A+
4. “Hideout” – B+
5. “Summer” – A-
6. “Hey Boy” – A+ [CLICK TO LISTEN!!!]
7. “Good To Be” – A-
8. “Skateland” – A-
9. “Sailin” –  A+
10. “Little Red Radio” – A-
11. “Cry With Me Baby” –  A

Comments: The Magic Kids were rightly called the next evolution of The Barbaras. The Barbaras might just never play again: at least one member is currently in Wavves (Stephen Pope and maybe, just maybe, Billy Hayes) and the other three are in this band, The Magic Kids. Hayes certainly incorporated a bit of the Barbaras surf-pop sound in “Baby Say Goodbye,” which was penned by him and released on Wavves 2010 LP King of the Beach. At any rate, comparisons to the Beach Boys have been a plenty since the release of this record. The initial critical response to this record was that it was pretty average: Memphis is a nice attempt at ’60s surf, but it just doesn’t do anything extra. To an extent, I suppose that that may be true. Let’s not forget, though, that some songs are just 100% pop gems like “Superball” and “Hey Boy” and the rest are not too shabby…maybe even great. Perhaps somebody not too familiar with this kind of music would lump it in the “oh, this all sounds the same category.” Touche, touche! If you are sucker for it, it’s quite like bubblegum — sweet and colorful. Though this is quite a summer record — nobody is going to mistake “Sailin” for “skiing” — it pretty much screams nostalgia. Nostalgia for those warm and sunny days that became no more after October 28 (in the Boston area). So anyway, Memphis is a keeper.

Grade: A- (93)

EP Review: Broken Dreams Club [2010]

Band: Girls
Release: 11/10
Label: True Panther Sounds

1. “Thee Oh So Protective One” – A
2. “Heartbreaker” – A
3. “Broken Dreams Club” – A+
4. “Alright” – A-
5. “Substance” – A
6. “Carolina” – B

Comments: “Thee Oh So Protective One” is Girls first major composition. There are an array of horns, shakers, and other instrumentation that Girls have not historically taken a crack at. Another thing is the outwardly Latin American feel. “Heartbreaker” continues in the same spirit, though with far less instrumental explosiveness. I must say the lead and rhythm guitars on “Heartbreaker” are up there with the best of what we heard on Album. Typical Owens lyricism from the get-go, but most especially apparent on the slower “Broken Dreams Club.” It’s not just that Owens is lonely. It’s more macrocosmic than that. The world “keeps going nowhere” with wars, poverty, and broken dreams abound. “Substance” reminds me of the scene in Nice Dreams where the dude asks the other dude for the “key” to get him out of the nut house. Timothy Leary puts the “key to the universe” — LSD — in the dudes’ mouths and they go for a “simple ride.” “Carolina” doesn’t really pick up until the song is six minutes deep. Even then, it hardly picks up. Don’t worry though — the first four tracks are pretty spectacular. This is a really good record.

Grade: A- (92)

CD Review: Sports [2010]

Release: 11/2010
Label: Slumberland

1. “Coma Summer” – B
2. “Youth Haunts” – C+
3. “Monday Morning” – C
4. “Monongah” – A-
5. “Landscape” – B-
6. “Age Class” – B
7. “Veil” – C
8. “End Times” – B+
9. “Afterimage” – C-
10. “Untitled” – B

Comments: Slumberland is a hot bed for noise pop these days. Pains of Being Pure at Heart released a structured self-titled debut that definitely was more pop slime than anything else.  Weekend’s music on this album, conversely, is more of a reflection of the kind of extended shoe-gaze that we just don’t to see much of anymore. The drumming, across the board, is really awesome. The bass lines are typically catchy, as well. The guitars — well, what do you expect? — are loaded with feedback and other sorts of effects that aren’t atypical of this style of music. “Monongah” is my favorite tune on here. For one, it is one of the shortest; we get more “song” than anything else. You’ve got to be a real noise-phile to love Sports ’cause I sure don’t! I like tennis. No, not that Tennis.

Grade: B- (80)

CD Review: Strychnine Dandelion [2010]

The Parting Gifts
Release: 11/2010
Label: In The Red Records

1. “Keep Walkin” –  A-
2. “Bound To Let Me Down” – B+
3. “Strange Disposition” – B+
4. “My Mind’s Made Up” – B+
5. “Shine” – A-
6. “Born To Be Blue” – A
7. “Staring” – A
8. “Don’t Stop” – B+
9. “My Baby Tonight” – B
10. “Sleepy City” – A
11. “Don’t Hurt Me Now” – A-
12. “Hanna” – B+
13. “I Don’t Wanna Be Like This” – A
14. “Strychnine Dandelion” – A-
15. “This House Ain’t A Home” – A

Comments: Greg Cartwright is an accomplished musician from one of earth’s top mecca’s of garage rock: Memphis, Tennessee. Cartwright — known as Greg Oblivian when he was in The Oblivians — has a knack for crafting solid oldies pop songs. This collaboration reeks of roots rock: old country, rockabilly, trash rock, etc. The verses on “My Mind’s Made Up” are virtual rockabilly re-takes on the verses on The King Khan & BBQ Show’s “Too Much in Love”. Credit to Cartwright and Coco Hames of the Ettes for dating this thing. Take the lyrics on “Born To Be Blue” for instance: “It’s a lonely stand/When a girl loves two and she must choose. Please understand/I still love you, but he needs me, too.” Classic girl group stuff, which re-appears on “Sleepy City.” Fans of everything that I’ve mentioned (and more), please check this out. It’s one of the best records that In The Red has released this year.

Grade: A- (90)

7″ Review: Semi-Precious Stone [2010]

Band: Wolf Parade
Release: 11/2010
Label: Sub Pop

1. “Semi-Precious Stone” – B+
2. “Agents of Love” – A-

Comments: This 7″ of leftover material from the Expo 86 sessions fits snug with what Expo gave to us. “Semi-Precious Stone” has the electronic elements — synthesizer, keyboard, distorted guitar — that we’ve gotten a taste of. It’s a larger than life, mythical tune sung by Spencer Krug. His vocal delivery is especially Sunset Rubdown-esque (in contrast to, say, his vocal delivery on “Cloud Shadow”).  I’d say “Agents of Love” is one of the more passionate rockers I’ve heard from the group since maybe the Apologies days. It’s not especially heavy or anything like that, but all the instruments are very compact, for lack of a better word.

Grade: B+ (89)

CD Review: The Lady Killer [2010]

Artist: Cee-Lo Green
Release: 11/2010
Label: Elektra

1. “Lady Killer Theme (Intro)” – N/A
2. “Bright Lights Bigger City” – C
3. “Fuck You” – B+
4. “Wildflower” – B-
5. “Bodies” – C+
6. “Please” – C+
7. “Satisfied” – C+
8. “I Want You” – C
9. “Cry Baby” – B-
10. “Fool For You” – C+
11. “It’s OK” – B-
12. “Old Fashioned” – C
13. “No One’s Gonna Love You” – C
14. “Lady Killer Theme (Outro)” – N/A

Comments: Let’s get it straight. “Fuck You” blew up on the Internet. Everyone was sending it to everybody and their grandmother and the rest was history. Of course, the clean version has substituted the rated PG “Fuck You” for the G “Forget You,” which is a million times worse than even “F U” because of the mere amount of syllables involved in saying that. The song itself is not special special. I’ve heard many special special songs in my life…and in the past two months. “Fuck You” comes nowhere near any of those. The rest of the material on here is sort of showtunesy soul and/or slow jamz. “Please” is of the showtunes variety, which reminds me of something culled directly from an action packed cruise musical. Same with “I Want You”. As a musical disciple of the psychedelic soul of Arish King Khan, I can’t say that Cee-Lo’s neo-soul does much for me. Cee-Lo’s tunes are sugary, for certain, but lack any real hooks. I mean, there are sucker hooks — hooks that’ll make the average pop fan smile — but as far as anything substantial…nah, not really. Sorry, Cee-Lo, bro, you are a one-hit wonder in 2010.

Grade: C+ (78)

CD Review: Man on the Moon 2 – The Legend of Mr. Rager [2010]

Kid CuDi
Release: 11/2010
Label: Universal Motown

1. “Scott Mescudi vs. The World” – B-
2. “REVOFEV” – B+
3. “Don’t Play This Song” – B-
4. “We Aite (Wake Your Mind Up)” – B-
5. “Marijuana” –  B+
6. “Mojo So Dope” –  C+
7. “Ashin’ Kucher” –  C
8. “Erase Me” – A
9. “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young” – B-
10. “The Mood” –  C
11. “MANIAC” – C-
12. “Mr. Rager” – B-
13. “These Worries” – C+
14. “The End” – B
15. “All Along” – B-
16. “GHOST!” – B
17. “Trapped In My Mind” – C

Comments: Kid CuDi is practically the only rapper of the past year or so that I enjoy listening to. I really loved Man on the Moon: The End of Day. It was pretty tight top to bottom. This album sort of sucks, though. Lyrical content is pretty lame and the rapping just isn’t catchy. I thought End of Day added a nice mix of psychedelia, but the attempted psychedelia on here overstays its welcome. Fans of CuDi hit singles should reasonably be skeptical of this record. “Erase Me” is great, but what else is there? Anything? “Marijuana”??? It’s a chill song and stuff, but it will not blow you out of the water. Take “GHOST.” It is really dumb, but has a solid base beat. Overall, I am really disappointed.

Grade: B- (80)

CD Review: Nobunny Live at Thirdman Records [2010]

Band: Nobunny
Release: 8/2010
Label: Thirdman Records

1. “The Gutter” – A-
2. “Hocus Pocus” – B+
3. “Mess Me Up” – A
4. “Give It To Me” – A
5. “Motorhead With Me” – A+
6. “It’s True” – A+
7. “Boneyard” – A+
8.  “I Am A Girlfriend” – A+
9. “I Don’t Know Why” – N/A
10. “Your Mouth” –  N/A
11. “Not That Good” – A+
12. “It’s So Easy” –  A
13. “Hippy Witch” – B+
14. “Monster Kiss” – A-
15. “Chuck Berry Holiday” – A+

Comments: This is thee live Nobunny album that everyone’s been talking about. The introduction “Today’s greatest rock and roll band on Earth…Nobunny ladies and gentlemen!” met by cheers of all of five people in the audience is more priceless than Jared Swilley’s “This is going to be the greatest live album of all time” on Los Valienteles Del Mundo Nuevo. Live at Thirdman is the product of a late arrival at Jack White’s homestead after a crazy night involving jails and cheerios. Nobunny starts off with “The Gutter,” an old country tune from the Raw Romance tape about spending your unemployment paycheck on smokes and booze and not having any money left over for anything else. “Hocus Pocus” is a dancer. “Sometimes my feet get the best of me” says Nobunny after that one. “Mess Me Up” is a classic off Love Visions that’s pretty raw. The next two are off the Give It To Me 7″ released in early 2009. “Give It To Me” is a punk rocker in the same vein as the fantastic “Motorhead With Me”. Dedicated to all the pretty girls out there is “It’s True.” “I know you heard it all before/And I don’t mean to be a bore but/you got eyes that sparkle like diamonds!/you got a smile that keeps me smiling!/you’re so cute there’s no denying…It’s true!” The raunchy incomprehensible “Boneyard” is just one of those live songs that is awfully hard not to love. Same is true with “I Am a Girlfriend” mainly because of the short “hey little girl” Ramones-esque interlude, but also because it is an incredibly sharp yet raucous live tune. So after that incredible stretch of songs, there comes a problem. Nobunny realizes he can’t play some songs live. No big deal! “I Don’t Know Why” is a soft acoustic number (presumably) that was never practiced before and “Your Mouth” pretty much the same except they practiced it once. So after about ten seconds of “Your Mouth” Nobunny does what he does best. He says “WE’RE JUST GONNA DO OUR REGULAR SONGS.” A ha! Good call, No-no. Fitting (but not really because we know Nobunny is the shit) that he dedicated “Not That Good” to himself (and his band). “It’s So Easy” is a Buddy Holly cover with a few lyrical modifications here and there. “Hippy Witch” is basically inaudible on Raw Romance, but makes sense here. “Monster Kiss” is a Halloween song. Yee! No better way to end a set than with “Chuck Berry Holiday” — the same tune that one fan of mainstream music only (MMO) has called a “catchy song!” Now, that’s something! I attribute that to Nobunny’s vocals and the guitar riff. It’s golden. That’s all I’ve got. See ya later, suckers! “It’s a black man in a white world!”

Grade: A (94)

CD Review: Death To False Metal [2010]

Band: Weezer
Release: 11/2010
Label: Geffen Records

1. “Tuning Up the Radio” – A
2. “I Don’t Want Your Loving” – A
3. “Blowin’ My Stack” – A
4. “Losing My Mind” – A
5. “Everyone” – A-
6. “I’m A Robot” – B
7. “Trampoline” – B+
8. “Odd Couple” – A-
9. “Autopilot” – B+
10. “Unbreak My Heart” – B-

Comments: Word. I think generally fans of early Weezer (TBA and Pinkerton) will think favorably of this release. This record (as a whole) is certainly edgier than “Beverly Hills” and the like. Death is old material encompassing a fairly vast variety of rock genres with 2010 production quality and aesthetics. There is some straight up power-pop, a little oldies/lighter pop, pop-punk, and some grunge. The first four tracks are absolute gems. The rest of the album is very good, but doesn’t quite have the passion (for lack of a better word) that is present on the first four tunes. The “Unbreak” cover borders on average. So maybe this is Weezer’s third best album ever?

Grade: B+ (89)

CD Review: Nothing Fits [2010]

Band: Tyvek
Release: 11/2010
Label: In The Red Records

1. “4312” – B
2. “Animal” – B-
3. “Potato” – C
4. “Future Junk” – B-
5. “Nothing Fits” – C
6. “Outer Limits” – C-
7. “Underwater 1” – B
8. “Underwater 2” – B
9. “Kid Tut” – C
10. “Pricks In A Car” – C+
11. “This One – That One” – C-

Comments: Every time I see “Tyvek” I think of Tyvek! The problem is I’ve never listened to any material from the band Tyvek…until now. Obviously, I was expecting some sort of lo-fi garage/punk/pop. In The Red has a reputation for releasing that kind of stuff. Listening to this, for me anyway, is like listening to St. Dad or the Homostupids. Tyvek is better, but they’ve got too much noise and screaming. My little ears can not really handle it. At their lightest (“Underwater 1”), they are like a hardcore Cheap Time. At their heaviest, they are like your average ’80s D.C area high school hardcore punk band.

Grade: C+ (78)