There has been a recent rash of album releases in the last few weeks by many of my favorite bands (artists). Here is the low down:
“12 Memories” by Travis – I was first taken with Travis one summer in Europe. Their song “Sing” was a huge hit there, no matter what country I found myself in. When I finally returned home, I bought “The Man Who” and “Invisible Band” and wore them out. “12 Memories” has some of the same great melodies one comes to expect from Travis, but it seems the boys of Travis (they are four, not one) are noticeably upset with Tony Blair and his current exploits with G’Bush in Iraq. So the songs are a bit more politically charged and less about how groovy love is.
“Everything To Everyone” by Barenaked Ladies – Barenaked Ladies can do no wrong. Again, this is not a ground-breaking album for the Canadians, nor is it a branch-out album. Just lots more of the sweet harmonies and witty pop that is the glorious Ladies. However, I am always impressed with how the Ladies are bashful about nothing. They sing about mutual masturbation without a twitch, meanwhile I am checking over my shoulder making sure no one is watching me type out mutual masturbation (the horrors of which are compounded by the fact that I spelled it wrong the first time so Spellchecker kindly underlined my folly in red to ensure that the wandering eye would be drawn straight to the evidence that I am both illiterate and a pervert). You may have been distracted – “Everything To Everyone” is excellent.
“Room On Fire” by The Strokes – You may have read before that I am amazed that I like The Strokes at all. At any rate, I figured that first album would be it for them and they would suffer from Spin Doctoritis. But I am totally into this follow up album. There is nothing original here, so if you don’t want more of the same, steer clear. However, if you are the type of person who frequents David Spade films, you will enjoy this album.
“Sacred Love” by Sting – One of the finest bands ever was The Police (actually “is”, they have never officially disbanded). By default I am a Sting fan as well. Has he ever elevated himself to the greatness of The Police on his own, probably not. But he has certainly had many post-Police moments of genius. However, this last album is lackluster. He does explore some new territory and it does get enjoyably groovy in some places, but there are no stand out songs nor anything that particularly took my fancy. In some ways it seems like he made a new record just as an afterthought or just didn’t know what else to do with his time; felt the need to whore himself out to the corporate machine again. (Mind you, I am not knocking him for this. Seriously, if you are subscribing to AOL because Sting in an Abraham Lincoln beard told you how great their service is, you deserve to be a victim of The Devil Service.) Furthermore, I am totally creeped out by Sting’s spooky likeness on this particular album cover.
“North” by Elvis Costello – After the crackin’ album “When I Was Cruel”, this is surely the biggest disappointment on the list. This album is a bevy of ballads from Mr. Macmanus. Just him at his piano with occasional light orchestration. Some of the melodies are very interesting, and many of the songs are good, but a whole album of this is just intolerable. These songs would fare far better were they sprinkled amongst several albums. I realize that one could make an argument for my hypocracy for claiming “North” is a bad album and “Room On Fire” is fun. I hold Mr. Macmanus to a much higher standard. I expected nothing from The Strokes. And my loyalties will always be with Declan.
Now I ask you, “Where is a new Cake album already?!”