Fluxing miscellany. If you're looking for top 10 film lists, click here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Misc. music, 9/10

• New Thermals album — Personal Life is the first one I've been able to listen to from start to finish, no problem. Normally it gets pretty exhausting pretty fast, but Personal Life has pacing, which is pretty new for Hutch Harris et al. Slow songs, fast songs, etc., less boomingly epic than Now We Can see, wiry and poised. It's taken a long time for these guys to grow on me: they're probably the only band on the planet that could cover Green Day radio hits without seeming like assholes and making even a hater like me enjoy. Despite their semi-annoying personas (all that kneejerk leftwing bitching), the fact that Harris kinda sounds like Placebo's Brian Molko and the annoying fact that the band's been known to use Twitter to score weed on tour, they're still pretty good at what they do. "I'm Gonna Change Your Life" is a nicely threatening piece of obsessiveness to open on, and it's an all-round no-nonsense piece of work. Reviews have tended to complain a little bit about the missing energy and speculate this is merely transitional; me, I get on the train here for real.

• New Eels record (Tomorrow Morning) is getting the usual mixed notices; it's certainly the best of the alleged divorce trilogy. Hombre Loco has its moments ("That Look You Gave That Guy," "My Timing Is Off") amidst the general melange of half-assed pastiches (Mr. E should never be thinking about Jack White, ever), but End Times was personally too much to slog through more than once. Tomorrow Morning is as peppy an album he's made since Daisies of the Galaxy, containing at least two highly enjoyable moments of uncharacteristic, nearly-hubristic peppiness. "My baby loves me!" he barks on, uh, "My Baby Loves Me." "Unlikely but true." There's also "The Man," whose lyrics are a little off (you really have an epiphany talking to a homeless guy? And you get a moment of "silent grace" from a skinhead?), but it's lots of fun. Over at Slant, Kevin Liedel bitches that the long instrumental bits (Mr. E somehow pulls off the six-minute-plus "This Is Where It Gets Good" with a supple, unexpected sense of menace) are borrowed from "decade-old work" by Radiohead et al., which is true but kind of irrelevant. I don't really understand why Mr. E does stuff like write concept albums from the point of view of a wolf-boy (or whatever Hombre Loco was about), or what he needs all those dinky interludes for, but all the chaff is part and parcel of the package. Point being he doesn't need originality; you just show up for the baseline pop-craft, and it turns out lightly menacing (with a disconcerting swagger) is a good pose for him.

• Been straggling through T.I.'s Fuck A Mixtape mixtape; he's in good form as ever, but that proverbial DJ just won't shut up, which is seven kinds of annoying. The skits are actually funny; the real stand-out song is "Get Yo Girl," in which T.I. quietly and semi-politely demands some get this female out of his face, on account of her being drunk, her breath smelling like Patron and marijuana (which is somehow a problem for the guy getting arrested for hotboxing just after getting out of jail, but whatever), and stating very specifically that "she's very unattractive." I've never heard a song quite like it, though my friend Andrew Unterberger suggested its possible kinship to Ludacris' "Hoes In My Room," in which an uncharacteristically non-jolly Luda — exhausted after a show and just wanting to smoke some weed with Snoop Dogg — demands to know who let these hoes in his room. But still, not quite the same thing. Relatedly, I suppose, I've had two really morally unsound misogynist tracts by Clipse — "Ma, I Don't Love Her" and "So Fly (Now We've Had Her)," which is kind of like their version of episode five of Berlin Alexanderplatz ("we call her hand-me-down"), with its unforgettably nasty final taunt "See sis? We do girl records, right?"

• I still haven't managed to make it to the end of Drake's album, but I do enjoy Mr. Rick Ross' Teflon Don, which is fine start to finish but features three particularly fun tracks. "I'm Not A Star" is awesome, "Maybach Music III" rocks like c.-1978 Stanley Clarke (those guitar solos are out of control) and "MC Hammer" — with its massive, thuggish, clobbering backbeat — is wildly entertaining, as Ross inexplicably insists that not only is he MC Hammer ("Too legit to quit"), but that means he's "about dreams," which makes zero sense. (But it's adorable that Ross aspires to be MC Hammer; not many people would admit that.) Nice one-liners too ("I'm ridin' dirty/My dick clean").

Metric basically make music for 14-year-old girls (the fact that they're good friends with Olivier Assayas is kind of bizarre; they're so much squarer than anything else in his iTunes), but they're pretty good at it, and their two soundtrack songs this year keep the string of slick hits coming. Emily Haines is an embarassing, oft-histrionic lyricist, but she's got a pretty voice and a very technically-proficient rhythm outfit behind her, so it tends to work out OK. As they've gotten more pointed in their aggressive moments and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have added on more ballads, they're basically becoming indistinguishable. And Haines' melodrama is a perfect fit for the Twilight: Eclipse theme song, the perfectly enjoyable "Eclipse (All Yours)." Their Scott Pilgrim track "Black Sheep" is only the second-best song released under that name this year (Suckers take the prize), but it's a respectable enough five-minute workout. And it is, of course, that Metric were chosen to be in a movie with this many Canadian jokes. The soundtrack also features Beck's "Ramona," which is like a happier, slightly more psychedelic version of Sea Change in 4:23. It's the best thing he's done in five years.


  1. The line is "about cream," which makes somewhat more sense.

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