April 28, 2005

XO's Mini-reviews for April

Ben Folds: Songs For Silverman
The new Ben Folds CD, Songs For Silverman - who is Silverman? - is his first really strong album since Ben Folds Five broke in 1999 with Whatever And Ever Amen. His success seemed to hobble him for awhile, so he went off and had a family while doing weird projects like a William Shatner CD. This record is incredibly strong on melody, arrangements and lyrics. I bought it as my first Dual Disc and it comes with a 25 minute documentary on the making of the album. Turns out that the goosebump inducing choral harmonies at the end of my favorite song ("Time") are done by...Weird Al Yankovic! HUH? The rest of the record is his usual mix of witty to biting to sweet lyric, often in one song, laid over Billy Joel piano-isms. "Gracie," for his 5 year old daughter, goes from poignant ("You will always have a part of me / That nobody else is ever gonna see") to practical ("You’ll be a lady soon / But until then / You got to do what I say"). "Sentimental Man" has the most elegant piano melody I have heard in ages...nothing on Tori that good. There's even a lament for Elliott Smith ("Too Late"). If you liked early BFF music, this record is for you. Favorite tracks: "Time" and "Sentimental Man"

Josh Rouse: Nashville
Josh Rouse never really clicked for me until he beefed up his arrangements on 2003's 1972 - an homage to the 70's music that he grew up on. The title of his new album Nashville is a misnomer. It is not country music, nor is it a tribute to the town. It was recorded in Spain and is more of the retro AOR that he does so well. The's definitely an homage thing going on here: "Winter In The Hamptons" is pure Smiths, while "My Love Has Gone" has Lindsey Buckingham vibes all over it. "Caroline" is the best REM song since Automatic For The People [you may not know I have abandoned that group - did not even purchase their last CD because other people, like Josh, do it better]. There is only one song on this record I dislike ("Why Won't You Tell me What" ) and I dislike it with a passion. Josh mines similar territory as Ryan Adams without being quite as poserish vocally and certainly not as self-indulgent , so try this please. Favorite Tracks: "My Love Has Gone" and "Steetlights"

Garbage: Bleed Like Me
Garbage took forever to make their new record and everybody knows the basically broke up during the making of it. I am here to say it is only half good. I like Garbage best when their songs exhibit a range beyond droning power chord rock and MUCH of this record is just that. Sometimes it works well, as on the FUCKING GREAT first single, "Why Do You Love Me" but just as often ("Bad Boyfriend") the songs sound half baked and go nowhere. At least "Metal Heart" weaves in an electro element that elevates it. "Run Baby Run" should be flat but it seems like a classic Garbage song. There is only one true ballad - "It's All Over But The Crying" - which is a waste of Shirl's more vulnerable angst. The litany-of-dysfunction-title-track name checks JT Leroy, his second appearance on a Garbage CD (he IS "Cherry Lips"). Favorite tracks: "Why Do You Love Me" and "It's All Over But The Crying"

Erasure: Nightbird
Erasure have always been on my radar but I have never owned any of their CDs. I tend to just love certain songs (the orgasmic "Blue Savannah" and the epic "Fingers And Thumbs" which I took very personally). This new album is totally Erasure By The Books but it's really GOOD! Who knew!? My favorite is "Let's Take One More Rocket To The Moon" - one of many really sweet, poignant love songs. "Breathe" seems dull at first but blooms after repeated listenings into a great song for the dance club or the car. Nightbird -good title!- wraps it all up for Vince and Andy- they are officially in the pop pantheon (I am on the voting Council, ya know). Favorite tracks: "Breathe" and "Let's Take One More Rocket..."

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