Godspeed You Black Emperor!
I'd like to start off by saying that about a half-hour into this, I realized I really wanted to be re-reading Cormac McCarthy's excellent noir-western Outer Dark while listening. Seriously, if you've got any of McCarthy's work (which is all excellent, by the way), try listening to this while you read; it definitely makes it more disturbing. I really don't know how to describe this album(?) -- it's comprised of 3 tracks that span close to an hour, all of which end up sounding at least vaguely the same, and all of which glue different sounds and musics together like subtle paintings. The closest comparison would be to Ennio Morricone's soundtrack work (yeesh -- how many times can I make that one in an issue?), but there're also some truly frightening spoken bits, weird ambient-ish noise, orchestral movements, and even noise-rock (largely at the end of "Providence," after several minutes of silence). And the weirdest thing is that I couldn't stop listening -- the whole disc flows together so well like one long story that I felt compelled to keep listening, to see how the story ended. I figure that's about as good a recommendation as I can give... (JH)
The success of Dookie will almost certainly be seen as a fluke when the dust settles and industry types and fans alike realize that they may not have been duped but they certainly invested more importance on this band than they ever deserved. Nimrod continues to lower fans' expectations, most likely intentionally. Green Day are starting to take subtle chances, knowing full well that they have nothing to lose, at least nothing they can control. So they go down fighting, which for Green Day means giving you exactly what you want while flipping you off.
There's been a bit of press about the mellowing of Green Day, but frankly, it's misdirected. Sure, the acoustic "Good Riddance" is getting airplay on AAA as well as modern rock radio, but it's no different from Dookie's closing "F.O.D." (except that it doesn't lose its nerve and slam into distortovision halfway through). Petra Haden's violin wouldn't help the excellent Swingers ripoff "Hitchin' A Ride" if the band let her lead instead of fill in the gaps that were already there. Where are the praises of the loopy "King For A Day" (transvestitism set to a dixieland beat) or the instrumental "Last Ride In," a twangy western treat that seems to come from nowhere in these boys' SoCal upbringing?
Still, in the general scheme of Green Day's poppy punk, nothing's really changed overall. Billie Joe still sings from the middle of his throat. The rhythm section is still enormous. The lyrics are still stupid (not Ramones stupid, stupid stupid). "Tre Cool" is still a dumb name. Profanity is still strewn about as a pretension to honesty (tip: next time you hear "Hitchin' A Ride," imagine that Billie Joe is screaming "shock me" right before the solo instead of the profanity that's in the official lyrics and ask yourself which works better). And everybody who's going to buy this album most likely already has it, and thinks it's awesome, and plays it as a sort of badge of honor. And all for the wrong reasons. (MH)
I don't always like the Grifters, but they DO hit the mark more than most, at least for me. Side A is best described with words like "sultry," or "smoky" -- the whole thing is a dark and menacing groove that makes me think of an indie-rock soundtrack to a spy movie, of all things. Visions of men in black trenchcoats doing things you don't really want to see in dark alleyways is what this brings to mind. Side B is similarly dark and low-down, but in a bit more of a mid-tempo boogie vein (no organs here, as far as I can tell). (JH)
(Sub Pop Records)