Tuesday, May 18th, 2004
You're So Great
Feeling better today, which is good becaues another day sitting at home would have been pretty dull – I’m out of DVDs to watch. You would not believe how hard it’s been to find the first episode of Alias season two on Kazaa or Bit Torrent. Anyway.
The Metacritic reviews for Graham Coxon’s new album Happiness In Magazines has me intrigued. Phrases like “riddled with glorious pop songs”, “album of straight-up, dazzlingly well-realised British pop” and “A great lost Blur album” are not what I would have expected. Coxon’s contributions in Blur were easily my favorite songs in their ouvre, but his solo material has been decidedly more experimental and difficult and certainly reactions against what he was doing in Blur – I had his first couple solo records but sold them recently in a CD collection cull. But still, curious from the reviews and the fact that the new record was produced by Stephen Street (who guided Blur through their best albums), I grabbed the new record off Soulseek to give a listen (it’s import-only in North America so odds of finding it any other way to sample are slim to none). Initial impression? It’s pretty good. Certainly not as painfully introverted as The Sky Is Too High nor as spastically aggreessive as The Golden D, it sits pretty well in the middle of the only two reference points I have. There’s a lot of bashy rockers that hearken back to old Kinks but with a stronger pop sensibility than Coxon has seemed willing to allow into his work before. There’s even stuff in the vein of his Blur tunes – lead single “Bittersweet Bundle Of Joy” is definitely cut from the same mould as “You’re So Great” and “Coffee & TV” and “Don’t Be A Stranger” is delightfully loopy. It may have taken five albums for Coxon to find the right balance between all his disparate muses, but it seems like it’s finally happened and that bodes well for his future musical output.
The New York Times has more pop music commentary from Stephin Merritt. Interesting comments on Morrissey – “You Are the Quarry (Sanctuary), demonstrates more than ever that the best lyricist in rock, Morrissey, still surrounds himself with dull musicians incapable of properly filling out his introspective kitchen-sink dramas”. While I would debate (though not that vigorously) calling the Moz the best lyricist in rock, Merritt is spot-on in his criticism of every band Morrissey has worked with since the Smiths. They’ve all been horribly bland rock outfits, right down to the beer commercial guitar tones. Maybe if he ever had the vision to work with musicians he didn’t find down at the local pub I could get excited about his work. As it is, I’ll continue ignore anything post-Strangeways and not feel any poorer for it. From Stereogum.
Also from Stereogum – Jon Stewart’s commencement address to William & Mary University’s graduation class of 2004.
Fans of the late, lamented Wonderfalls may be interested to know there are at least three unaired episodes circulating around the internet in bit torrent form. You can find them on Suprnova.org, but there’s a catch – at least two of them are at a frame rate that Windows Media Player doesn’t like. So while they’re DVD-quality, they’re also all weird and jittery. Anyone who can tell me how to fix that will get my undying gratitude. Well, that’s not entirely true – I’m pretty sure that my gratitude will die with me, but you know what I mean.
The Beach Boys’ long-lost album Smile will finally be coming out this Fall on Nonesuch. NME reports a September 27 release date for the UK, which should mean a September 28 release date for North America. I’ve never heard any of the bootlegged versions of this record, so it’ll be all new to me. Is it possible that it can live up to the legend? We’ll see.
Some out-of-town concert news for my neighbours up the St Lawrence – Wilco is making the most of their Lollapalooza days off with shows in Ottawa on August 4th (Capital Music Hall) and Montreal (St Denis Theatre) on the 5th before coming back down to T.O. for their Lollapalooza show on the 6th. I’m envious – I’d obviously rather see them do their own show in a good venue than an outdoor festival.
A couple quick notes – the “Chicks With Attitude” tour (shudder) coming through the Kool Haus August 28 will indeed feature The Cardigans as a whole band on the tour – not just Nina Persson. There was some confusion about that.
It’s come to my attention that the Ben Kweller show that had been scheduled for June 10 at the ‘Shoe has mysteriously vanished from all listings. Laika & The Cosmonauts are now pencilled in on that date.
np – The Sundays / Blind