Saturday, June 11, 2005

Without a word as to why I haven't updated since Wednesday, here's PART 5 of MIXED BAG CD PROJECT REVIEWS!


The Best: This one gets off to a great start with ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead's "Will You Smile Again?", which manages to be melodically strong and bombastic at the same time. That's a band I've been curious about, and if this is indicative of their output I'll have to hear more sometime. Queens of the Stone Age's "Burn the Witch" is next- I used to like Kyuss OK, and I've always usually liked what I heard from the Queens as well...which doesn't explain why I don't own any of their records, but there ya go. "Witch" reminds me a bit of the style of Masters of Reality's Chris Goss, who has worked with both the Q's and Kyuss in the past- and in fact, his name is in the credits for the album that this comes from, Lullabies To Paralyze. I'm not all that familiar with Monster Magnet, except by name, but "Unbroken (Hotel Baby)" is a great churning rocker. Desert Sessions' "I Wanna Make It Wit'chu" is another great hard-edged Stonesy rocksong. I've never heard these guys before, but I'd like to hear more. Supergrass is a band that I've always thought I'd like after reading lots of praise for them, but the few songs I've heard in the past haven't impressed. "Brecon Beacon", though, with its ska-ish rhythm and short running time, is a nice, driving tune. Tomahawk, one of the multitudes of Mike Patton supergroup projects after Faith No More, is represented with a somewhat interesting cut titled "Harelip" which sounds like lounge music from hell- and also makes me curious about what the rest sounds like. Eagles of Death Metal's "Speaking in Tongues" also boogies along agreeably, reminding me a little of My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult or the Tubes. Elastica's "How He Wrote Elastica Man" is fast and loose, with that Farfisa organ/synth sound percolating along at its base. Short and sweet, just how I like bands like that. Burden Brothers' "You're So God Damn Beautiful" is a great churning rocker with an even greater title- who says country music gets all the good song titles? Finally, it was cool to hear a cut from Too Much Joy- I saw them open for the Royal Crescent Mob back in 1991 or so, and liked them a lot. However, I never got around to picking up any of their albums- why I don't know. They were an underrated bunch of smartasses.

The Rest: Never really worked up much of a taste for the heavy Berlinisms of Garbage. I've always liked the idea of Reverend Horton Heat and band than the actual execution, which never raises as much hell as his name would imply. Bill Hicks is usually always funny, and his "Rush Limbaugh" is no exception, but that said I don't always care to listen to spoken word comedy recordings more than once or twice. Other than "Clint Eastwood", everything that has been released under the Gorillaz aegis has bored me silly, and "New Genius (Brother)" doesn't deviate from that. I've never really been a big Nick Cave fan, but "The Curse of Millhaven" is pretty good- just overlong. Wish he could have reined it in at about 4:30 or so.

Subjects for further research: Several. Trail of Dead, Monster Magnet, Tomahawk, and of course the Queens.

Re-listenability: High, at least until I get some more music by some of these bands. Good job, Mr. Fuckwood!


The Best: Spoon's "Stay Don't Go" bops along agreeably. The New Pornographers' "The Body Says No" starts out in Springsteen territory, but kicks in about 52 seconds in to give us a track which sounds like a collaboration between the Boss, Ian Hunter and Sparks. Rocking, if not particularly tuneful. I've always liked the energy and high spirits of the Mooney Suzuki, and "Everything Gone Wrong" is a good example of what they do. I usually like whatever Ryan Adams puts out there, and while "1974" crashes and bashes a little more than I usually like from him, it's still an interesting throwaway with a nifty little acoustic ending. There's just something about that year, 1974. Enter the Haggis' "Another Round" is an enjoyable Beatles-meets-the Pogues romp. G Love and Special Sauce is a group that I generally like when I hear them, even though I don't own any of their music, and their Dylanish "Gimme Some Lovin'" goes down smooth. My Morning Jacket, who hail from my part of the woods in Louisville, KY, are represented with the low-fi but melodically strong "Sooner". I can say the same thing about the next cut, Iron and Wine's "Such Great Heights"- at least the production is less muddy. Ryan Adams pops up again, this time with his erstwhile group affiliation, Whiskeytown, on the Pneumonia cut "Jacksonville Skyline", a somber, nostalgic reminisce about his childhood.

The Rest: Thought OK Go's "Get Over It" was, well, OK. Think Gwen Stefani stole the beat for "Hollaback Girl"? Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's "In Like the Rose" reminded me a bit of the Church- doleful, rhythmic mope-rock for people who like to dress all in black. OK as far as it goes, but I generally don't get too excited about it. I'm sure that people who queue up to see the International Noise Conspiracy get to have a large time moshing like fiends during "Smash It Up", but that doesn't mean I necessarily want to listen to it in my living room. Same goes for Rock and Roll Soldiers' "Funny Little Feeling". I've always liked the name of the Sea and Cake, but their "Soft and Sleep" doesn't leave much of an impression. Jet's "Move On" is a reheated Allmans/Stones/Faces souffle, not terrible by any stretch but not the freshest thing on the buffet table. Cake gets the finale with the doubletime acoustic TMBG-like "End of the Movie". Appropriate as the closing track on a mix cd, but a little lacking as a standalone song.

Subjects for further research: Spoon (the Tick's favorite group?), and I keep meaning to pick up some My Morning Jacket albums someday. I'd like to hear more Black rebel Motorcycle Club, to see if this track was typical of their output.

Re-listenability: Moderately high- this starts off strong, but kinda peters out towards the end despite some good tracks. Some of the more sedate tracks could perhaps have been placed in different positions, mixing the ratio of slow-and-fast up a bit better.

Fred Hembeck's HEMBECK MIX 2005 2

Fred and I had exchanged mixes prior to The Project, so I already had the CD that he sent to most of the other Project participants. Problem is, I didn't know this- my disc had the track list for mix 1 on the front, so, thinking I had already heard it several months ago, I waited until the end to listen to it (except for a bonus disc he had enclosed, a collection of oddball covers by Andy Williams), whereupon I discovered that tricky Freddy had thrown me a curve worthy of Tom Glavine- he sent me a second mix, completely different than those I already had, and different from the enclosed tracklist! So, undaunted, I plunge ahead with the commentary but with this disclaimer: I'm not sure who all these musicians are, although I know most of them, and I haven't listened to this CD as much as I have the others. So with that in mind, here goes:

The Best: My disc leads off with one of my absolute favorite tracks by one of my absolute favorite groups: Mott The Hoople, with their US flop single (but no less great song) "All the Way to Memphis", with honking, squealing sax solo courtesy of Roxy Music's Andrew Mackay. From 1973's Mott, one of the three anybody curious about MTH should own. The serene sounds of Linda Thompson's voice, augmented by Richard Thompson's Fender guitar, comes via "Did She Jump or Was She Pushed", a painfully frank track from their justly praised but often difficult to listen to "Shoot Out The Lights" album. Breakup records always fall in the category of "Uneasy Listening". I've always loved 10cc (at least until 1979 or so), and their 50's sendup "Johnny Don't Do It" is a delight. Bing Crosby's "Pistol Packin' Mama" is a lot of fun. The Beach Boys contribute their trademark supernatural harmonies to a 50's doowop cover called "Hushabye" from 1964's All Summer Long. It is, of course, great. Next up is the Fab Four, no slouch with the harmonies themselves, on a cover of "Words of Love" by the late great Buddy Holly, from Beatles For Sale. The Traveling Wilburys' "End of the Line" is a great track from what I've always considered a minor masterpiece of a record. The disc finishes with a selection from The Kinks Album I Don't Have, Arthur, called "Shangri-La". It's great, and I gotta get that one one of these days...!

Mystery Songs: Track 2 is some cool, funny 20's jump jazz track, by musicians unknown to me. Then a doo-wop track, nicely melodic but again, I don't know who it is or what it's called. Track 9 sounds very familiar, like CSNY or at least Steve Stills solo, but I don't think it is. I'm stumped, and I'm sure I'll smack my forehead if I ever find out who it is. Track 11 is sung like a Native American chant set to pop music, and I'm clueless about this as well. Track 12 is a 25 second cut with a girl strumming on an acoustic guitar singing la la la. No idea. Track 17 has a tick-tock rhythm track, 80's production values and a female vocalist that sounds a little like Pat Benatar, but it's not her. Not a bad cut, but not one that grabs me where I feel it either. I'm equally lost on track 19, a popsong of recent vintage that sounds very familiar.

The Rest: I like Elvis Costello, but his reggae-fied "Watching The Detectives" always loses me a couple of minutes in. There's just something about that reggae sound that doesn't push the right buttons in my brain. Neil Young's "Down By the River", with its classic one-note guitar solo, is a great song that suffers only from overfamiliarity. I love Jimi Hendrix, and I love Bob Dylan, but for some reason I've never been all that crazy about "All Along the Watchtower". Heresy, I know... I think it's the clumsy, whiteboy beat that Mitch Mitchell provides that keeps me from embracing it. Radio wore me out on Tears For Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", and while I don't really hate it, I don't love it all that much either. Reminds me too much of the 80s and what I was doing then. Which was a whole bunch of nothing. That and Dennis Miller's HBO Show. Track 18 is Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" quite the departure for them, especially back then, and while I don't hate this song (in fact, it's one of the few GD songs I can stand to listen to more than once) I don't love it all that much either. Man, I must be the only person in the Project that doesn't dig Green Day!

Re-playability: Moderately low. Much to like here, but most that I like I already have. Still, I'll definitely pop it in upon occasion for the 10cc track, which I don't have, and the Richard & Linda Thompson cut, which I don't have on CD.

That's all for now, 2 more to go!

No comments: