As I wait for the 10 oclock showing of the new Narnia movie (how cool am I on a Friday night?), I figured I'd offer my takes on some recent musical purchases:
Byan Scary and the Shredding Tears-Flight of the Knife- This work of musical Literature is what Alexandre Dumas would write were he writing music. I think I've described Scary's live show as Genesis and Meatloaf having a piano orgy in space, and they don't disappoint on recording either. Scary takes us on an epic journey of fantasy, introducing us to characters like Susie High ("a walking imitation of the sky") and Airship Valentine ("the station master's son"). You get so caught up in the journey that you forget to question the incredible quirkiness of both the story and the music.
Atmosphere-When life gives you lemons, you paint that shit gold- This is a tough one for me. Ant's beats are so much fresher and more innovative than any previous album, yet Slug's rhymes, well, just don't have the edge they once did. I do admire him for departing from his usual tales of his own hardship and trying to tell other stories, but the truth is he's more passionate and knowledgeable about his own life, and it really shines through. What makes me keep coming back to it, though, is that every time you start to get down on Slug, he rips in with a sick line, just to remind you he's still the same rapper.
The Matches-A Band In Hope- Another tough one for me. I want to like this album so much, but it really is leaning towards mediocre. Every song has countless flashes of brilliance, but the only truly complete and solid song on the cd is "Wake the Sun" (which, by the way, is an AWESOME song). I maintain that The Matches will forever be on the forefront of punk--I've thought that since I saw them when they were 14 year olds opening for Wakefield, Zebrahead, and Reel Big Fish. And you can't deny them a place near the top of the live show ranks. But they missed just a little with this one. They'll be back.
Panic at the Disco-Pretty. Odd.- Oh, Panic, what emotions you stir in me. I want to love you and hate you at the same time, I want to stop listening to your music, but can't. It's just so. damn. catchy. The hottest thing out of Vegas since The Killers, Panic settled down from their debut on this CD to find their pop rock roots in the likes of The Beatles and Beach Boys. They said they went for a "timeless sound." Well, they got it. That's for certain. But that doesn't equal greatness. Timeless + innovative = greatness. When you define timeless, as The Beatles did, that's when you've created something great. Pretty. Odd., on the other hand, will be a good listen for a month or two--you know, til the next really catchy cd comes out.
Phantom Planet-Raise the Dead- "Holy what? You mean those guys who used to have Jason Schwartzman as a drummer and used to have the theme song to the most popular teenage tv show (The OC) are still making music?" Yep. And while they may not regain their fame from 2003-2004, they've learned to make some legitimately good music. Anyone who can get me screaming "GERONIMO!" out loud every time the chorus kicks in has done a helluva job in my mind. I can't say this is the absolute best album ever because ironically they've lost their gift with the slower songs, but it's absolutely worth your $10.
Death Cab For Cutie-Narrow Stairs- What happens when a talented set of musicians force a major label debut then take a ton of drugs to try to get back to their indie roots? The answer lies in Narrow Stairs. Of course they have their moments of brilliance--they're a very talented set of musicians--but on a whole this whole ordeal seems forced to me once again. Ben seems further separated from his lyrics, and all the rest of the band can do is layer the sounds to try to create a deeper narrative. Sorry guys, not my cup of tea.
Anti-Flag-The Bright Lights of America- Anti-flag's best effort of the past few, this still won't appeal to more than the punk fans. That being said, it is a very energetic album, and they keep that energy going for at least 3:30 in each song--which I think must be a record on punk albums. The only real reason this couldn't be huge is that singer Justin Sane's voice is an acquired taste.