From A Basement On The Hill Anti
Elliott Smiths swan dive sounds as elegant as it is disquieting,
its beauty vibrating as fiercely as its ugliness. Smith was recording
From A Basement On The Hill when he committed suicide in October
2003. The ache resonates as bluntly as an Ebow through an amplifier,
as the fifteen tracks left behind display everything he had and showcase
everything he might have become.
With songs like Twilight, Memory Lane and
Lets Get Lost, Smiths last release is a posthumous
kindling that will forever burn his talent into memory. His passing
makes the melodies sound more poignant, the guitars more hollow, and
the words more resonant.
Smiths integrity as a songwriter shines through on Hill,
as he exposes the nasty demons that are the source of his ethereal
music. Im going on a date with a rich, white lady.
Aint life great? he shouts sarcastically on Kings
Crossing. Give me one good reason not to do it,
he eerily replies.
Smith exhausts himself writing about the drugs that might have once
alleviated his pain, but now only exacerbate it; and love that used
to soothe him, but now only makes him want more drugs.
Hill documents Smiths decline into a losing battle with
himself; its disconcerting that it had to sound this lovely.
Gillian Titus (Posted 10/29/04)
Should Have Seen It Coming Bloodshot
One of the best things about living in the Midwest (other than tornados,
Fred Phelps and people who don't believe in evolution) is the occasional
appearance of the strange musical mutant know as "Contemporary
While country music is currently sweeping across the uber-hip West
Coast scene, the good old pickin' and grinnin' boys of Split Lip Rayfield
have faithfully plunked out their bluegrass-punk on stages alongside
Nashville Pussy (best name ever!) and the Reverend Horton Heat since
'01 or so.
Should Have Seen it Coming, their first CD in several years,
is 16 tracks of a rich man's biscuits and gravy, baby. With the ever-present
ker-thunk ker-thunk of Jeff Eaton's one-string gas tank bass (called
appropriately "The Stichgiver") and Eric Mardis' finger-bleedin'
banjo playing, the infectious nature starts thumpin' your boots from
the first notes of "Hundred Dollar Bill", an ode to truck-stop
lovelies, and doesn't stop 'till the last notes of "Just Like
A Gillian Welsh Song" (whatever that means...). Brandon
Whitehead (Posted 10/28/04)
The Best Of Marilyn Manson Interscope
Ah, how best to describe the...well, band, and of course the...uh,
person that is Marilyn Manson. Goth-Dadaist icon, bizzaro burlesque
superstar, '90s production-based pseudo-band flotsam? Frankly, this
updated (and of course remixed, as if you can tell the difference
in most of these synth-pop tunes) Best Of album answers few
if any questions, although it will be happy to take your money, thank
Best known for Manson's hyper-decadent behavior (bet you can't find
a single interview where he doesn't mention Absinth, having sex with
conjoined twins and his own superhuman creativity) and poor make-up
choices, the music mostly takes a backseat to the scene, and frankly,
that's probably a good thing. Mimicking a barrage of toneless industrial
house music mixed in a blender, with a side of crappy post-angst pothead
philosophy, these tunes quickly devolve into parodies of themselves
before most of the songs are half through.
This is the white suburban kid's equivalent to hard-core gangsta rap:
It's meant to shock their parents and contemporaries more than anything,
and it succeeds...for a little while. Wonder if Manson wears the makeup
on the way to the bank... Brandon Whitehead (Posted
The Libertines Rough Trade
The Libertines are a band that has lived up to its name. Unfortunately
for part-time vocalist and guitarist, and full-time heroin addict
and crack fiend Pete Doherty, hes taken the media focus off
the band and placed it squarely on his left arm, which looks rather
supple and in need of a quick fix on the cover of the bands
latest, a self-titled follow-up to its 2002 debut, Up the
What the band isnt in need of, however, is a sneering attitude,
which comes through brilliantly on such tracks as Cant
Stand Me Now and What Became Of The Likely Lads.
Fittingly produced by legendary punk agitator Mick Jones, who twiddled
the knobs on Bracket, The Libertines feels loose.
And while it feels spontaneous and ramshackle on tracks like Last
Post On The Bugle, and polished on songs like What Katie
Did, it can just as quickly fall apart into self-indulgence.
Lyrically incoherent, Dont Be Shy is an irritating
track that ambles as smoothly as a drunk with his pants around his
ankles as it stupidly challenges the listener to shine, dance
and hear your song.
At its best, the Libertines have a fractious lineup that can build
its tension into a timeless sound that recalls late 70s acts
like the Damned. Yet the band also has a wasted, one-more-round kind
of appeal that was patented by the Stones in the 60s and has
been selling ever since.
And just like the Stones, the joke could be on the Libertines, who
are on the precipice of oblivion. While the band may have two good
LPs under its belt, it could just as easily record its destruction
next. Gillian Titus (Posted 10/15/04)
Seven Days of Falling 215
Music is transformative, maybe jazz more so. Sometimes the process
isnt overly apparent, a subtle cerebral envelopment rather than
pure emotionalism. But with good music, theres always the intuitive
factor...something happens when listening, be it internal or just
a questioning of how such sounds were created.
Much is at work when listening to e.s.t. and their new release Seven
Days of Falling. This Swedish trio, with Esbjorn Svensson on piano,
Dan Berglund on bass and Magnus Ostrom on drums, is building critical
acclaim and expanding its cult-like following.
The first cut, Ballad For The Unborn, pulls the contemplative
strings and after a surface listen, its easy to write it off
as one of those coffee-in-hand, rainy afternoon, stare-out-the-window,
lost-in-thought kind of intimate jazz compositions. But Svenssons
deliberate pacing on the piano, the vibrating cymbals and the deep,
slow interjection of Berglunds bass takes the music beyond a
kind of fog-on-the-window profundity.
The title cut, Seven Days of Falling, follows a dominate
repetitive bass riff as the drums and piano build then break then
build again the composition with improvisations and electronics that
remind me of Cusco. A more traditional piece is Mingle In the
Mincing Machine a loud jazz train and full-room explosion
with a drivin piano run in front of a bass/drums push.
O.D.R.I.P." is the most bold in its delivery, almost tangential
with Svenssons piano leads, as if demonstrating the contradictions
inherent in higher-level jazz music that brings an awareness
wrapped in mystery. Bruce Rodgers (Posted 10/8/04)
Whats black, white, and red all over? While this is just a
rhetorical question only meant to point out the starkness of the cover
of the New York quartets latest, it also denotes the mood of
the work, which swells with desperation, unrequited love and loneliness
subject matter mined before on Interpols 2002 debut LP
Turn On the Bright Lights.
Unlike Bright Lights, however, which had a melodic warmth to
it even as it sent chills down the spine, Antics is more bleak,
with guitarist Daniel Kesslers effusive riffs cutting into the
stop-start dynamic of bassist Carlos Dengler and drummer Sam Fogarino.
These sounds are illustrated nicely on such tunes as Public
Pervert, which almost sounds like Joy Division covering the
Association, and Narc, which has a churlish rhythm that
boogies while vocalist Paul Banks bristles.
Lyrically, Banks doesnt mince words as he extrapolates on the
misery that is his love life on songs like Cmere
(Its way too late/To be this locked inside ourselves/The
trouble is that youre in love with someone else/It should be
me) and Slow Hands (Cant you see what youve
done to my heart and soul/Its a wasteland now...).
As it has been repeatedly pointed out, Interpol does sound like Joy
Division, especially when comparing Banks to the late Ian Curtis.
But if thats the worst thing it can be accused of, then its
doing something right.
Antics may lack some of the swagger that made Bright Lights
so lovely, yet one would be remiss to accuse it of being a sophomore
slump. Gillian Titus (Posted 10/1/04)