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October 08


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The Cure
Suretone/Geffen Records

After 9 years and a “greatest hits” album (that usually means the death-bell of most bands), the Cure’s new studio album Dream sounds a lot like all the old Cure albums.

Oh sure, there’s still plenty of that jangle-ly guitar, synth-beats and of course Robert Smith singing somewhat off-key (and with plenty of compression on his vocals) about how he’s sad and missing things in his own inimitable pre-emo style and his Flock of Seagulls hair (proof of just how much cocaine everybody was doing in those days, by the way), so any Cure fan will be happy with what they get here.

Of course, The Cure was a central part of the whole MTV generation, a band as dependent on its image as its sound, something that today goes without sayin’ (and is the reason we have a lot of good-looking bad musicians out there).

It wouldn’t really be fair to blame Smith and the rest of the ‘80s pop world for the now-endless parade of pretty haircuts that now call themselves “musicians” (actually, they don’t even call themselves that — everybody is now apparently an artist, just in case you didn’t know), but the man sure does like his hairspray. There are still plenty of listenable songs here, like “The Only One,” which could be straight off 1988’s Disintegration album (one of their best, by the way), but frankly there are only so many ways you can use wind chimes in a song.

Still, one has to ask, well, why? Why wait almost a decade before coming out with a “new” album that pretty much sounds like the old ones?

Can you say…money? Geffen dusting off a band like the Cure is just the same as Hollywood remaking every crappy television show or old cartoon they can get their hands on.

There, of course, will be a big tour coming up, complete with Smith and company playing on every crappy morning news show, no doubt with a big tie-in with Sprint and Burger King. — Brandon Whitehead (posted 10/31/08)

Darker My Love
Dangerbird Records

Well, it is that time of year again, when the best and brightest of Americans gather to discuss the merits and abilities of our potential leaders, and pretend not to go insane listening to all that crap. Then, of course, the real debate begins, in the form of our most beloved entertainment, the incredibly useful and fact-filled political commercial.

That all being that, it’s nice to sit back and listen to some music, safe in the knowledge that at least a music column will certainly be free of any political adverti((ATTENTION: THE FOLLOWING IS A LOUD AND POINTLESS POLITICAL ADVERTISMENT: KENNY HULSHOF IS A NAZI. JAY NIXON THROWS PUPPIES OFF OVERPASSES.))sments. I mean really: just how much did all the candidates spend on all these moronic commercials? Still, since the economy is going sooo well after all their wonderful leadership, who cares?

Anywho, the five L.A. hipster-dudes who make up Darker My Love show some real musical leadership right from their first track “Northern Soul,” which could win the medal for “Psychedelic Rock Anthem of the Year,” if there was such a thing. With Tim Presley and Rob Barbato’s vocals, Andy Granelli’s slick drums and Will Cazoneri on the organs, DML sounds reminiscent of the Eagles of Death Metal (who just signed with Dangerbird, by the way), in it’s thick, funky grunge.

There are a few missteps here, although((ATTENTION: KAY BARNES BLEW UP THE SPACE SHUTTLE CHALLENGER. SAM GRAVES STOLE MONEY FROM YOUR GRANDMOTHER.))the odder tracks, such as “Add One to the Other One,” still have a cool if somewhat doped-out sound, like someone playing a Doors song at half-speed, which isn’t necessarily bad if you like that kind of stuff.

All in all, 2 is an impressive second album with a definitive psychedelic ‘70s style that rises above your standard pop album ((ATTENTION: OBAMA IS AN ARAB. JOHN MCCAIN IS A WAR CRIMINAL)),which is an actual message worth approving, right?

((ATTENTION: SOMEBODY SHOOT ME)) — Brandon Whitehead (posted 10/17/08)

The Vital Might
Red Planet
Magma Music

The Boston-based trio The Vital Might describes their own music as “Alt indie prog rock popadopalus,” which is either rather pompous or totally self-defacing, depending on your point of view. Right from the first track “Phantom Spaceman” (which could fit in perfectly in one of those “CSI” show montages of a slow-motion bullet going through the “vic’s” left lung) these boys put the Alt in Indie, or maybe the Rock in Prog, with skill and style.

These three, consisting of Andy Milk (guitar, vocals), Rick Gauthier (Bass) and Cracker (politically incorrect drums) have some eminently listenable stuff, sometimes reminiscent of And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead (still one of the best band names ever!), replete with lush, complex harmonies and orchestral overtones (that line also goes well at a good wine-tasting, too).

If anything, Red Planet is more of a throwback to the days of more adult-orientated pop music (say, before the OC started), with layered melodic tunes and far less screaming and whining. “Seasons” is a great example of the Vital Might’s style, moving from a wide-open sound-scape only to focus onto Milk’s almost child-like falsetto…and then brings both together in a raucous blast of music that transcends traditional pop music, truly making the sound their own.

The only complaint here would be Milk’s previously mentioned vocals, which seem to start off weak on almost every track, but somehow, every time, half-way through he simply nails it, which makes a critic wonder if that’s intentional?

If so, that’s a “mighty” big risk to take, but somehow these Bostonian boys make it work. — Brandon Whitehead (posted 10/03/08)

Brandon Whitehead can be contacted at kinginyellow@juno.com.

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