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The Court of Flippant Reviews is Back From Recess!

June 29, 2011 2 comments

Back in February I whimsically reviewed albums that were sent to me for perusal.  For those that missed it, I had an abundance of these new records that I had gotten through the mail from a promotional group.  Unfortunately, given the time that I have each day to listen to music (dwindling, sadly) I hadn’t really had a chance to give them a spin.  So I spun and wrote about them quickly.  Found a few of the good and the bad while I was at it!

So I have another pile of these CDs that deserve a once over.  Again, these write ups are mostly from the hip so I imagine a truly dedicated, less-hackish of a music writer would delve more deeply into the song compositions, exquisite album art, or the moving lyrical content.  I’m not one of those guys.

Here goes it:

  • HoneyChild “Nearer the Earth” – A pleasant indie pop record with great, sugary vocals from Erik Donley.  Switches between soft and hard stuff quite often.  Try “The Owl”.
  • A House For Lions “I Want Us to Be Remembered” EP – Soft pop with the quiet, unimposing vocals like Jose Gonzalez.  Not much resonating impact after the last song finishes, but nice enough.
  • Stereoflower “It’s Alright, It’s OK, Satellite Commander” – Lengthy tracks fluctuate between softer pop and ambitious rock virtually every other track.  I hear a banjo here and there.  Similar to HoneyChild with a little more of a country twang feeling.
  • Louderbach “Shine” single – What’s this, a single?  For a song entitled “Shine”?   The Ian Curtis-like electronic tune drones on for awhile.  And honestly, when does a single ever need nine remixes?!   This one should get two, tops.
  • Manitoba Music “Sampler” – Well, this Canadian sampler I can dig.  Many artists with solid tracks without wearing out their welcome.  It’s all mostly soft indie tracks throughout.  Imaginary Cities, JP Hoe, Greg Macpherson, Wab Kinew and Enjoy Your Pumas stand out to me.
  • Green River Ordinance “The Morning Passengers EP – Acoustic Sessions” – Definitely aimed towards the soft pop, singer-songwriter crowd.  A bit too light and dramatic for me.
  • Hafdis Huld “Synchronised Swimmers” – Cute Icelandic blonde with precious voice might be a nice find for light pop enthusiasts.  Most of the thirteen tracks sound the same:  upbeat and simple.
  • Ringside “Lost Days” – Raspy vocalist and energized pop music sound good on “Money” and “Dayglo”.  Album consists of decent interweaving between electronic and typical pop.  Pretty good.
  • Eldridge Rodriguez “You Are Released” – Rodriguez sort of sounds like the quivering guy from Arcade Fire but with a deeper voice.  Some good rousing tunes (“This One Sends the Cast Home”) on here.
  • Simon Says No! “Self-Titled” – The one true rock band in this reviewable collection and they’re rather inconsistent.  Some good, brash moments with many predictable ones don’t make them stand out all that much.  Worth a listen if you’re looking for some new energy.

Not nearly as many clunkers as last time as I could probably find a good tune or two on most of these discs.  I likely won’t hang onto any of these to put in the long-term collection, but I did appreciate the Ringside, HoneyChild and Manitoba Music sampler the most if I had to choose.  I guess when you get it for free the expectations are what they are.  Court adjourned!

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Motley Crue – Girls, Girls, Girls

June 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Elektra Records, 1987

As one knows when it comes to dollar bins, one will find their mix of the obscure and the old hat.  I’ll admit, I get a slight sickly feeling when I see all those nineties bands amidst the dreck that I have to sift through.  It almost affirms that, aside from a few good indie artists that most people still have a hard time discovering (myself included sometimes), the nineties were full of mostly popular pop mush.  Thank goodness, then, that some of us at the time were still able to live off the artificial thrills of hair metal from the eighties.  Why Motley Crue ended up out of someone’s collection could be open to interpretation.  Either the person bought some sort of remastered version and is still rocking out to maximum volume … or that person has gone the way of shirt and tie and prefers Chopin and Mozart these days.  If the latter, that person is no longer walking on the wild side.  However, I have no such aversions to the dangers of hair metal yeaaaahhh!!!

Of course, any American living through those fist-pumping glitz and excess days of the late 80s know all about Motley Crue.  They were rude, crude, and liked to party all night with girls … girls, girls.  This record came out during the full swing of their high popularity, so one has to review it in hindsight with a little bit of understanding of the period.  Then again, shouldn’t the discussion be about why one would bother to pick it up today?  True, true.  Therefore, let’s see if you really need some Motley Crue in your life these days.

“Wild Side” depicts a life that would likely frighten the parents whose kids were dabbling with hair spray and heavy makeup a few decades ago.  Really, though, this song spoke to me as a boy from southern New Hampshire.  “Hollywood dream teens/yesterday’s trash queens” totally describes New England suburbia, and I lived that.  “Forward my mail to me in hell” describes my rebellious thoughts when I was sent to the ‘Silent Table’ in elementary school when I bopped my friend on the head during lunch.  Even though this song may not describe everyone’s gritty childhood life, “Wild Side” is still a fantastic rock ‘n roll anthem that must get the crowds really going at reunion concerts.  The riffs that Nikki Sixx delivers are still excellent throughout.

Of course, the title track is one of the few tracks that you buy this album at all for.  It’s classic, even if these guys might get some serious flak these days by the PC police for writing “Yankee girls ya just can’t beat/But they’re the best when they’re off their feet”.  Well, maybe they wouldn’t, since certain hip hop artists have no trouble saying it like it is and hardly a mumble is made.  Regardless, the tune is certainly one of the many anthems of that age.

One song that the group should never have bothered to throw on the record is “Nona”, which is an airy ditty that only goes on for one and a half minutes.  Where did this come from?  Why bother?  Perhaps the producer said to them hey, you’ve been sounding the same for the past four tracks so let’s throw in something to break up a little of the monotony.  KISS had a few of these kinds of tunes that showed their sensitive side, true, but I can’t imagine anyone was buying it from these guys in the late eighties.  Total tosser of a track.  At least “You’re All I Need” sounds like a halfway decent ballad later on the record.

The rest of the album is as one would expect with Neil’s sneering lyrics about the rock n roll life with Sixx’s deft guitar riffs.  Songs like “All in the Name of Rock” and “Sumthin For Nothin” hardly stand out, but they fill the record well in the same vibe as the more popular tracks.  The live cover version of “Jailhouse Rock” isn’t very memorable, so I imagine it was included to give those a taste of what a live Crue show was like.  Perhaps Motley Crue wanted to attract the ’50s crowd and lure more confused parents to the shows.

Motley Crue is, of course, still touring.  They look a little morose on their website, so perhaps one should just listen (or go see) them instead.

Even though they’re plentiful in dollar bins everywhere, very rarely will I bother with picking up a mainstream record from an age that has long passed.  I can’t stomach picking up most nineties stuff, (due to worn out grunge or electopop singles) and there’s virtually nothing from the early 2000s that is worth a grab.  However, classic hair metal is sometimes hard to pass up due to some really enjoyable tunes lurking amidst the camp and glitz.  So yeah, picking up a decent Motley Crue album was worth it for me for a few good songs and memories.

If you end up seeing an album from a time gone by, consider picking it up to relive those days a bit.  And who knows?  The artist may still be on an endless reunion tour for you to go see them!