Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Reviews, Previews, and Musings

-Robert Randolph and the Family Band Colorblind
Haven’t been able to hear this one yet, unfortunately, though I’ll get a preview when I see them in concert this weekend.  Regardless, they reside in my ‘buy as soon as released’ bin.  Encouraging, as opposed to the Barry Privett’s struggles I’ll soon mention, Randolph and the fam found their album overflowing with material.  The group took their time building up material, road testing some, and collaborating with the likes of Dave Matthews, Carlos Santana (who does not appear on the recordings), and Eric Clapton to put together others.  Indications are this album will lean more towards the 70s rock and funk sound that the Family Band frequently covers on tour (Hendrix covers are astonishingly faithful) than their debut album which was more soul and spiritual.  Colorblind is an album worth getting excited about – when studio work fills the cup to the point that unreleased cuts will spill into other artists’ albums, it’s almost always a good thing.

-Carbon Leaf Love Loss Hope Repeat
The Richmond, VA eclectic rock group released their follow up to the mainstream Indian Summer last week, and seem to be offering more made-for-radio sound rather than the more wide-ranging music that made up their first 4 studio albums.  This is an understandable route for a band still trying to break out after 11 years of playing, but it also washes out the color that made the group so distinguishable from the rest of the crowd on previous efforts.  It’s been talked about that lead singer Barry Privett struggled with writer’s block halfway through recording this album, and it does show as half the album seems polished and intriguing (the title track, Block of Wood, and Texas Stars, most notably) and the rest comes across as if it was written on the run.  The album is hardly bad, but it doesn’t measure up to the band’s ability.

-The Chuck Klosterman Trilogy
This is really more of a run up for Chuck Klosterman IV, which my thriftiness will preclude purchasing until it’s on paperback.  I had held a pre-conceived notion that Klosterman was an older drugged up Rolling Stone “journalist” that was a typical űber-political type (see: PJ O'Rourke).  Not half, and I’m thankfully that my friend Rob shoved Killing Yourself to Live down my throat this summer.  He works for Spin!  He’s almost my age!  He likes Fleetwood Mac!  That’s huge – I don’t understand why, but Fleetwood Mac is the anti-Simon & Garfunkle; they were big, but no one really likes them at all.  Well, in no time, I digested all three of Klosterman’s books: Sex, Drugs, and Coco Puffs, Fargo Rock City, and Killing.  Puffs and Killing are similar with a Seinfeldian feel; they’re about nothing, but wholly entertaining.   Puffs is a large collection of pop culture columns that covers a span of topics ranging from Born-again Christians to Klosterman’s hatred of Coldplay (righ with him there – nothing good associates itself with the likes of Paltrow).  Killing is ostentatiously about a pilgrimage to famous landmarks of deaths in rock, but is more built around a Klosterman stream of consciousness and assorted romantic stress.  Rock City stands apart from the other two works as more of a fan’s yearbook of 80’s metal.  It’s easily the most focused of the works, and is semi-scholarly.    Klosterman IV was written in a similar vein to Puffs and largely is a collection of previously published columns.  

The band that Avril Lavigne looks like.  Pop-metal, power-punk, however you’d like to label it, it’s like discovering a band that missed the memo that Nirvana killed 80’s rock.  Singer Noelle sounds so much like Avril, I assumed the single “Out Here All Night” was a B-side from Let Go (when Avril was still pretending to be punk rock), but don’t hold that against the band.  The band writes their own material, and all 4 members play their instruments even when not filming for TRL.  It lands more on the side of guilty pleasures, but isn’t that what Skid Row and company were back in 1987?

Speaking of bands that remind you of someone else, Wolfmother is apparently the result of genetic engineering from the DNA of Plant, Page, Jones, and Bonham.  Singer Andrew Stockdale is unapologetic in taking cues from the greatest rock band in history, and the evidence is plain from the album coverart, the vocals,the song subjects, the riffs, and more.  Maybe this sounds like they should be docked points for originality, but I can’t stress enough that Wolfmother honestly comes across as a reincarnation, not a knock-off.  This group sits firmly at the very top of my list of acts to see live.

A smarter, more serious movie from the Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch crew.  James Bond 2006, David Craig, stars in what can be simply described as a “one last caper before I get out” movie.  Don’t be deceived into thinking that the story itself will be so simple.  The direction and writing is sharp and top notch, but don’t try to watch it unless you’re able to pay attention.  If nothing else, the dialects can be something to cut through.

-The Departed
What’s this?  A crime thriller directed by Scorsese?  Jack Nicholson playing a seriously evil bad guy again?  What are the odds that this one will be a stinker?  1 in 250?  Damon and DiCaprio are double agents, one for the mob and the other for the cops.  Did I mention that Nicholson wanted to make his character to be the ultimate carnation of evil?  I’m excited.