Introducing... the Loquacious CD Review Column!
This is the first installment of what I have cleverly titled, "The Loquacious CD Review Column." This (semi-regular) column will be published every time I pick up some new CDs and have had a chance to listen through them a couple of time. Then, I will share some brief thoughts about each CD (and thus the irony of calling it the Loquacious CD Review Column). On with the show. (BTW, this column is brought to you, at least unofficially, by my favorite online CD store, mymusic.com
, where you can get CDs at a surprisingly reasonable price, for very little in shipping, and nothing in sales tax).
-- The Remote Part
Solid rock album. Catchy songs constructed in regular verse chorus verse format. Intriguing song entitled "American English," which features the chorus, "Then you contract the American dream, you never look up once / You’ve contracted American dreams, I require you to stop and look up / Sing a song about myself, keep singing the song about myself / Not some invisible world." What does it mean? Not 100% sure, but it makes me keep listening. 4 stars out of 6.
-- El Corazón
Okay, so apparently Steve Earle has some sort of history involving drugs, jail, and the fickleness of success. I don't know much about that and can't really find it in myself to care. What I can appreciate, though, is the honesty that permeates Earle's roots rock and country sound on El Corazón. From his strangely political folk ballad "Christmas in Washington" to the breakup tune "Poison Lovers," you get the sense that Earle's speaking from his heart. I dig that. 5 stars out of 7.
-- A Rush of Blood to the Head
Coldplay's first album ("Parachutes") pretty much bored me outside of a couple good tunes, the singles "Yellow" and "Trouble" in particular. This disc is a vast improvement. Coldplay doesn't shy away from rocking out and even being a little "difficult" on occasion. Take the lead track "Politick," which begins with thumping drums and atmospheric cords. Olé! Not that Coldplay has lost their knack for the dirgelike pop ("The Scientist" and "Clocks"), but at least they're not only about the dirges. 4 stars out of 5.
-- Up the Bracket
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
-- Fever to Tell
Who's up for some '70's rock revival? So, the Strokes got you sweating and your heart beating in time with the music, but what do you do now? The Libertines and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have their answers. The former are a straight-up follow-up to the Strokes catchy, poppy "Is This It?" Kick it off with "Vertigo" and "Death on the Stairs," and you imagine that you're jumping around in some smoky NYC club. Good for you. They're more fun than they deserve to be, but haven't really gotten stuck in my craw. Call me old. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs take it a step further, mixing in a little '80's melodrama in with the amazing charisma of lead chantreuse Karen O, who's just a bottle of spit, venim, sugar, and spice. Some of the songs pass by like dreams, but the spastic rants of "Tick" and the sultry sex of "Rich" are hot hot hot. The Libertines: 3 stars out of 4; Yeah Yeah Yeahs: 7 stars out of 8.
And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead...
-- Source Tags and Code
Yes, if you go to the homepage of And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, you will find most of it written in what appears to be Latin. Then if you listen to their most recent LP, you will hear a bunch of screeching guitars and wailing vocals that you can't really imagine the Romans digging. But then, I think that sort of initial turnoff is what the dudes in AYWKUBTTOD are trying to accomplish. It makes you feel like you've really earned it when you realize that there are melodies underneath and those melodies are pretty. (There may also be lyrics hidden beneath those buried melodies, but that's a level I haven't yet reached.) It's abrasive but pretty. Epic and invigorating. Well worth the effort that it demands. 14 stars out of 17.
The White Stripes
They're red, black, and white. Rolling Stone gave their latest effort a five-star review. Who am I to try to review this? No one really, and while I'm not willing to declare perfection yet (really, I can think of only one album offhand that I'd give a purely perfect rating), this is a damn fine effort. The rolling bassline of "Seven Nation Army" is almost too good. The searing blues of "Ball and Biscuit." I love hearing Meg White get her turn at the vocals in "In the Cold, Cold Night." And the witty coda of "Well It's True That We Love One Another" leaves you will a post-coital smile. They haven't saved rock from Fred Durst yet, but they're a damn sight closer than most. 12 stars out of 13.
-- Get Rich or Die Tryin'
-- The Eminem Show
Hand on the Bible, I swear that I am not an afficiendo of rap. That's not to say that I'm not a fan. But I don't know Naz from Tupac or Big Pun from the Notorious B.I.G. Still, I enjoy some good beats and fine wordplay on occasion, so I was intrigued to check out Eminem's latest and the album that set the record for the most albums sold in its first week, 50 Cent's first effort. Now, to lay the rest of my cards on the table -- what I don't particularly care for in rap is the puffery, the "I'm the best fucking rapper ever" stuff. It can be clever, but mostly it just gets old. Which is why I don't really love 50 Cent's album. That's not to say that it doesn't have catchy tunes (see "What Up Gangsta," "Patiently Waiting," "In Da Club," and "Wanksta" to name a few), but most of it is just talking about how 50 Cent is the shit. He may well be, but I don't care. It's only when he talks about subjects that seem a little more heartfelt, like the scared shitless ballad "Gotta Make It to Heaven" or the can't-back-down "Many Men (Wish Death)" is he interesting. Eminem, on the other hand, is the equivalent of that guy you know who never shuts up about himself. Ask him for the weather and you get thirty-minutes on meteorology. I love it. With a few exceptions (the obligatory sex rap "Drips" and the failed attempt at playing both the softie and bad-ass in "Superman" -- oh, and "My Dad's Gone Crazy" kind of stinks too), Eminem and his team of producers hit on all cylinders. Rarely have I heard in any popular music such genuine vitriole as in "Business" or tenderness as in "Hailie's Song." And he hits some real political points in "White America" and "Square Dance." I don't want to get into a discussion of Eminem and politics right now, but there's an argument to be made that Eminem has a political caché great than any other pop musician. And I think that he deserves it. 50 Cent: 1 star out of 2; Eminem: 10 stars out of 11.