Greetings, Fussbudgets of the New Century:
Ummm... I'm in the middle of a long-overdue housecleaning, in anticipation of my imminent trip to Minneapolis, so this'll be short.
I decided to actually listen to some new records tonight while cleaning and do some flash-reviews for you. So here's what I got so far:
Saves the Day, "in reverie"
Totally not what I expected from KROQ darlings--this is what I'd call "small" music, which is not a diss--small romantic melodies and achy key changes, harmonies a' plenty, non-cheesy production and a lot of young heartbreak, and slightly whiny white-boy vocals almost like Ben Folds. Not challenging but earnest. Like the indie rock of ten years ago--a little boring, a little sad, a little smart--but much poppier, prettier, and less pretentious. No screaming demands that you feel their pain or anything. I liked it.
Aretha Franklin, "So Damn Happy"
Will someone please write this woman a song already? Like "A Rose Is Still A Rose," this is a lame record with one really good song, the first one, again. This time it's an uptempo torch song--a fun twist. "Deep inside I'm on the edge of tears/But I can't be cryin', sittin' round sighin'/Just 'cause you are not here.../No I ain't lonely!/This ain't no sad song!"
I like it because it's saying: Don't be a fucking crybaby, life is beautiful.
Plus it's a good song.
This is probably the first album to ever come out on Arista records that does NOT include the Lord in the thank-yous, either.
Rufus Wainwright, "Want One"
I could only listen to three songs before I reached my saturation point with his thick, thick voice. Great musician who I can't listen to. It's not his fault. Sorry I can't review it better for you. It sounds a lot like his other stuff--cabaret, opera, pop mixed into one. I loved what he said in the new Rolling Stone about musicians who are in the closet--he said, it must take incredible wherewithal and strength to be so dishonest--my hat's off to anyone who can stay in the closet!
David Bowie, "Reality"
Wow, this record is actually good! Crazy. The first song, "New Killer Star," is the hippest song yet about 9/11. Sounds a bit like "Heroes"-era Bowie--then he goes into a totally tweakin' cover of Jonathan Richman's "Pablo Picasso." His vocals are a little less interesting than classic Bowie but pretty much he sounds like himself. This is a rock 'n' roll record, no drum 'n bass nonsense or attempts to "innovate"--and that's A-OK with me. I'm actually listening to this as music, not as some historical oddity or obligation. Kool. It's as cold and cool as Bowie always is, with that weird cold-love of his bleeding through the cracks in his broken icy heart. (He covers George Harrison's "Try Some, Buy Some," which made me feel sadness for George Harrison, or maybe it was Bowie's sadness about it.) Some new wave bits and even a moment that, for a second, I thought was the Strokes--until I remembered, you know, where the Strokes got it in the first place. ooops. (by the way I way dig the new Strokes single.)
The Bled, "Pass the Flask"
This guy screams too much and it makes it impossible for me to listen to it AT ALL. In other words, I'm sure they're the next big thing.