This week’s New Music Monday post was preempted by Canada’s wacky-time mid-May holiday, Victoria Day (Canadian New Year)! Happy Victoria Day, my slobby Canadian comrades!
I was going to skip doing this altogether, but then decided that there were a few things happening in the world of music this week that I wanted to write about. I was convinced by a dear friend that it was okay to not necessarily always post this feature on a Monday. “Besides,” he said. “People will understand having to push the feature a day forward! Victoria Day is for quaffing moose-berry ale while dancing around the Canuck-pole!”
So today, exhausted from pole dancing but eager to serve, I bring you these opinions on newly released music.
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
I’ll cop to having been a really huge Radiohead fan in my late teens and early 20s. I’ll also cop to having turned on them pretty aggressively in the last few years, particularly upon the release of their last record. In trying to give a fair shot to A Moon Shaped Pool – and I have been trying – I’m struck by the fact that they’re still a fairly interesting act, musically. The melodic ideas, chord progressions and the way that this album sounds (for the most part) are all actually quite pleasing to me. Frankly, beyond a collection of warm-sounding, gently mournful songs (as this is), I’m not sure what one might wish to get out of a new Radiohead LP in this day and age.
I find myself getting hung up on something, though, and it prevents me from fully enjoying any of it. What I once considered to be the band’s greatest asset – Thom Yorke’s voice – I new consider to be their greatest weakness. His low-energy, mumbled croaking is simply not doing it for me. I can’t help but imagine him as a Frank Oz character, hunched against a craggy tree in a forest somewhere, shaking his cane at me as he imparts cantankerous nuggets of gnarled wisdom. There seem to be some moments of great material here, but I feel as though Yorke makes them sound goofy and tired, and I find his contributions to be something that I need to consciously try to ignore. If you’re still digging his pipes, you might love this record.
Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman
This sounds exactly like a million other very popular things to me. Sparse verses, mostly vocals and drum machine followed by a bigger chorus with a fat ol’ sawtooth synth driving it. You can’t sing this kind of song wearing not lingerie, by the way.
This was cooked in a lab to cause your pre-teen daughters to prance around in ways that will horrify you. Just like every other young pop idol since the beginning of time. Why draw a line in the sand about this one? Yawn.
Blake Shelton – If I’m Honest
If I’m honest, I’ll admit to thinking that it’s pretty funny to be caught in a high-profile affair/divorce scenario and then come out with such a pandering piece of desperate Christian piety as a single. Holy! Blake Shelton is a pretty huge dirtbag, huh? I’ve heard this guy’s speaking voice and confirms that his twangy drawl-ridden singing voice is 100% a contrivance – not that it matters. This kind of New Country pablum is a part of a cultural bedrock that practically has its own GDP. It’s going to do fine, sales-wise. Gwen Stefani guest-shot or no.
What kind of a name is Blake, anyway?
Eric Clapton – I Still Do
You still do what, Eric? Make banal, sub-par blues rock and coast on the undeserved laurels that people bestowed upon you when they were blitzed-out in the 60s and 70s and thought that you were a guitarist that was worth a damn?
Because, yeah. In that case, you still do.
Bob Dylan – Fallen Angels
This has an inoffensive shuffle that I could almost agree with until Bob started wheezing out a bunch of lyrics overtop of it. That said, if you’re down with Bob’s latter day delivery (and many are), this sounds like it may be a reasonable chill-out collection to put on while you’re ironing or something. The times they are a-changin’ indeed.
Zo! – SkyBreak
This is funky without making me want to punch anybody. That’s saying a lot, because I kinda hate funk music. This is some fun, high-energy, positive-sounding stuff. I Don’t Mind it. That bass synth is ridiculous.
Adult Jazz – Earrings Off!
The nice things about experiments is that there’s always a drawing board to go back to.
…go back to it, Adult Jazz.
Richard Ashcroft – These People
Coming from the former frontman of The Verve, it’s kind of unsurprising that this sounds like “Bittersweet Symphony” mixed with a really bad Tom Petty cover. I would much rather listen to Tom Petty or “Bittersweet Symphony”.
Saosin – Along The Shadow
Remember when everything sounded like this? That’s still now for these guys! I’m almost having a hard time believing it. Is this stuff coming back into vogue already? Too soon.
These 2003-vintage riffs and rhythms aren’t terrible, but I’d find it pretty tough to defend the vocals. Oh… I think he just sang “There’s no structure to my apathy”. Okay, listening to this kind of thing as an adult is just silly, guys. This is coming from a guy who still listens to Iron Maiden. Just say no.
Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts
Ohhhhh, yeah. That’s some stirring Nordic soul-metal(?).
Instead of talking about the music – which is … well, it’s something – I’d like to talk about something else that seems to be ubiquitous in the YouTube age: Lyrics videos. I’m not sure who initially thought that these videos would be a stellar marketing move, but they were spot-on. If you want to sell records, you should do your best to highlight the fact that your record contains lines like “The vapour of old love will transfigure through a veil of clarity”.
Lyrics for songs are almost exclusively atrocious. That an entire genre of internet video exists to celebrate song lyrics blows my mind.
Katatonia isn’t very good.
Tim Heidecker – In Glendale
Oh ha ha. I get it. You’re a comedian and the joke is that you make terrible yacht rock. Oh ha ha. So smart. Almost as good as those characters you do that eat shrimp or whatever.
Fuck this guy.
No Jay Hosking reviews this week! So… like, you’re just stuck with all of my negative bullshit, I guess.
Happy Victoria Day!