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Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

Heartbreaker

Pitchfork gets back in the ring with Ryan Adams for a rematch after their interview last year. I am linking this even though I’ve recently come to the realization that I no longer really care about DRA. I came to this epiphany when I saw the umpteenth copy of Cold Roses in the used bins and still couldn’t convince myself to drop $10 on it. That’s my subconcious trying to tell me something.

Yes, I was a big Whiskeytown fan and yes, I thought – and still think – Heartbreaker is an amazing record, but my patience for his mercurial behaviour and increasingly patchy albums has dropped below the Mendoza line. When you’re more interesting as a celebrity eccentric than you are as a musician, something’s wrong. I used to insist that the boy had great potential and that he’d get it together, but I’m not sure about either of those points anymore. Maybe if I read a review of an album that doesn’t bemoan his lack of quality control or say something along the lines of, “this would have been a great 40-minute record instead of a 130-minute double album”, I’ll reinvestigate. Until that day, however, I guess I’ll just wait for the best-of.

But I will still tell you that his next album, Jacksonville City Nights, is out on September 27 and the final volume of his 2005 trilogy, 29, is still slated for a November 1 release but considering how much time they allotted to work Cold Roses, unless they’re just going to rush the next two out, I would expect to see that get pushed back, especially since Jacksonville has already been pushed back two months since its initially announced release date. Finally, he’s also cover boy on the new issue of Harp this month.

But aside from all of that, I give the man props for being indirectly responsible for my closest celebrity encounter so far, standing about 3 metres away from Elton John at Adams’ October 2001 show at Lee’s Palace. Regardless of how I felt about Gold, that was a great show.

Here are the pics from Monday night’s Teenage Fanclub show – and to make up for making you wait a day, a piece from the New York Daily News.

Uh-oh, Fall conflict! After avoiding the Big Smoke for years and years, The Mountain Goats are back for a second go-around just five months after their debut with another show at Lee’s Palace on October 17. The May show back on my birthday was superb, but I have Son Volt locked in on my calendar for that evening. I hope the Goats don’t bring along any top-notch openers, though, because that could make things far more complicated.

Scotland’s Sons and Daughters are at Lee’s Palace September 5. Tickets $9, on sale today.

Billboard talks to Alex Chilton about reviving Big Star for their first album of new material since Third/Sister Lovers. The record in question, In Space, has been pushed back a couple of weeks and is now due out September 27 but when you’ve been waiting for 27 years, what’s another two weeks? Zoilus rubs his hands with anticipation and digs up a Big Star piece he wrote for The Globe & Mail a couple years ago.

Also in the “welcome back” department – Filter brings word that Mark Gardener will release his first solo album These Beautiful Ghosts on October 11. I wonder if the album title is a nod to the legacy of his old band? Gardener will be touring North America in support of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club this Fall, including a September 24 date at the Phoenix.

Pop (All Love) tries to quantitatively evaluate who exactly is the Best Band In The World, using an elaborate and fascinating baseball analogy, and finds that none other than Arcade Fire should be the odds-on favourite for world domination. Best line I’ve read this week? “Modest Mouse are a decent club, but they really only have one ace starting pitcher (a southpaw named Jesus de la Floaton)”.

Heavy.com has been putting out their Sumosonic compilation CDs for a while now, and they’re always interesting and eclectic collections with sharp packaging. Subscriptions are technically free, though you pay a nominal postage fee, but they’re currently offering a free copy, including gratis postage, to folks in Candada and the US. Check it out – subscribe or don’t, free is free is free.

np – Bob Mould / Workbook

By : Frank Yang at 8:22 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. tyrone says:

    hey frank, don’t you think that maybe ryan adams is doing it right? How often are you dissapointed for 40 minute albums every two years? Ryan Adams definately has his own perogative, and that gruff working man aesthetic he plays up maybe isn’t just an image. He really hasn’t done anything bad for a while, save ‘Rock N Roll.’

  2. Frank says:

    he hasn’t done anything good in a while, either. The double-shot of RockNRoll and Love Is Hell left me so amazingly underwhelmed that I just lost interest in his work – it just took me a while to realize it. There is an argument to be made for putting out lots of material and letting the listener sift through it all, but I simply don’t have the time to wade through the castoffs.

  3. Gary Campbell says:

    Sorry to disappoint, but "These Beautiful Ghosts" is a song he’s been hawking on the live scene for the past couple of years. The song is (of course) about a girl, breakup, regrets, and moving on. It could be a metaphor for Ride, but doubtful.

  4. Frank says:

    Gary – yeah, I didn’t think it’d be anything as sentimental or nostalgic as that. Nothing like George Harrison’s "When We Was Fab" or anything. I just thought it made good copy. Thank you for crushing that.

  5. Gary Campbell says:

    No prob. Anytime you need copy, nostalgia, idealistic notions of love, or dreams crushed, I’m your man.

  6. lucaswiththelidoff says:

    It’s a real shame that RA can’t get it together. He’s definitely got talent, but is unwilling to do what it takes to elevate his music and status to the next level.

    He’s got the new wave nipping at his heels. I wonder if putting out three albums in a year was a result of his thinking "Bright Eyes put out two records.. I have to put out three". I certainly hope not.

  7. Matthew says:

    Frank, you seriously have to give Cold Roses a try. I was *massively* disappointed in RocknRoll, it’s pretty lame, but CR looks to be my favourite album this year. Yes, it’s a little long, but out of 18 songs there are at least 10 great tracks, and the remainder are still pretty good. Pay the $10!

    I’m also willing to trade off middle-of-the-road filler on Adams’ albums for the fact he’s so prolific. He doesn’t sit on an idea, or polish his songs endlessly. In keeping with the baseball analogy, he takes a lot of swings but also hits a bunch or runs.

  8. fs says:

    speaking of bright eyes..wide awake its morning is the album Ryan Adams SHOULD have made….

  9. jimbob says:

    If you take the filler out of Heartbreaker, Gold & Love is Hell and you’ve got "Classic" albums like Dylan or Neil Young. I can’t comment on the new albums since I haven’t heard them.. but I bet it would be a terrific record and maybe extra E.P.

  10. Rick says:

    Best Ryan Adams comment I ever heard is "the man has an excellent album in him – too bad it’s going to take him 15 albums to make it". Every album since the Whiskeytown days has two genius songs on it, two horrid songs, and a bunch of ok. The boy is going to have an excellent greatest hits compilation.

  11. TS says:

    Cold Roses is a gorgeous album. Magnolia Mountain is one of the great songs written in a while….hearkens back to the days of Jerry Garcia.

  12. lucaswiththelidoff says:

    He’s the kind of guy you hate to love or love to hate. His live shows are either great or disasters.

    I would love to have been there for the Lee’s Palace / Elton jam though. Frank I am jealous!

  13. mike says:

    Don’t hate "Rock n’ Roll" because it’s a pop album. I like it alot.

  14. Frank says:

    I don’t hate RockNRoll because it’s a pop album. I don’t even hate it. I just don’t listen to because I find it soulless.

  15. jimbob says:

    I agree. RockNRoll is a substandard, uninspired album.

  16. Joe says:

    I agree with your Ryan Adams take, until Cold Roses, I really think its worth a bargain bin purchase….

  17. Jodi says:

    I really hope that the next album breaks his habit of throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks…But I highly doubt it.

  18. brads says:

    I say we get enough RA-related comments on here to get the attention of the man himself. If we’re lucky, he’ll call Frank and leave some crazy-ass messages. Who’s with me?

  19. Frank says:

    oh man, that would make my day. I think we’ve been too polite so far, though – no one’s said anything that hasn’t been said umpteenth times already.

    SOMEONE START SLANDERING!

  20. Shane says:

    How’s this: The guy is just a big PLAGURIST.

    The first track on Heartbreaker sounds exactly like a Bob Dylan song circa 1965.

    Love is Hell has a song that has the exact same chords, tempo / feel as Purple Rain.

    Cold Roses’ Magnolia Mountain is a total ripoff of Sugar Magnolia by the Grateful Dead. The least he could do was change a word in the title to throw people off his scent.

    Half his royalties should be going to other artists.

  21. Frank says:

    know what’s weird? more than a quarter of the comments in this thread – though credited to different authors – come from the same ISP/host. That’s weird.

  22. John Kenyon says:

    In the very least, at Adams continues to mine different territory with each new release. Each of his solo records seems to be cribbed from a different source, and that continues here (for the record, Heartbreaker = Gram Parsons, Gold = Springsteen/Van Morrison, Love is Hell = Brit mope-rock, Rock ‘n’ Roll = Strokes et al.) Here he tackles the Grateful Dead circa "Workingman’s Dead" and "American Beauty." And no, "Magnolia Mountain" doesn’t crib more than a title word from "Sugar Magnolia," but it does clearly show a GD influence (something Adams has readily acknowledged). I’m not sure we’ve ever heard Adams as Adamsn, but as long as he continues to spin out decent discs every year or so, who are we to complain? And Frank, once this shows up for about $8 in the used bin, I’d recommend you grab it.

  23. lucaswiththelidoff says:

    that would be my fault. some of my co-workers wanted to add their two cents to this string.

  24. jcbiii says:

    piss Ryan Adams off? Why would you want to do that? Summer of ’69 is an AWESOME tune.

  25. Frank says:

    lucas – that explains it. I thought maybe it was one person with the oddest multiple-personality disorder ever.

    John – I understand the musical doppelganger thing in regards to Adams and will admit he’s achieved a workmanlike effectiveness in everything he does, I think if he ever got the ADD under control long enough to do something that was "Straight From The Heart" (like Bryan did!) it’d be a fantastic record. I think Heartbreaker is the closest he’s come to that, but since then it seems like he’s been running away from that level of openness and honesty.

    That said, maybe I will give Cold Roses a shot after all. Eventually.

  26. John Kenyon says:

    You make a good point. It seems that music comes so easily to Adams that he doesn’t really focus when making a record. The guy is clearly talented, able to toss of a serviceable rock album like Rock ‘n’ Roll in quick order, but that maybe means he doesn’t labor over his songs until they’re really done, just done enough to move on to the next. If anything, Cold Roses at least feels like the organic product of a band playing music it enjoys, albeit music obviously inspired by the work of others.

  27. punky! says:

    I listened to it. Didn’t like. I’ve liked a few of Ryan Adams’ stuff in the past, but then realized they were all covers (legitimately).

  28. Quinn says:

    I think I’ve said this before every album since Gold came out… but the next one is going to me another classic.

    The thing that really gets me about RA is some of the unreleased songs that only see the light of day via bootlegs that are miles ahead of some of the album tracks.

  29. david says:

    Too much talk about Ryan Adams, not enough about Son Volt vs. The Mountain Goats.

  30. thomaus says:

    This thread would be awesome, if only it was edited down a bit, to get rid of the filler and a couple sub-par posts — oh wait, that’s been covered.

  31. Brushback says:

    "RockNRoll" sounded more to me like he was aping the Smiths than the Strokes, actually.

  32. Robert says:

    Frank: Long time reader, first time poster.

    RockNRoll is actually a pretty good modern T-Rex record and within that context is pretty fun. The live show at the Opera House in support was excellent.

    On the other hand, the show for the new record at the Kool Haus/Warehouse/Whatever House was dreadful — full of noodling and little interaction with the audience. It was the kind of show that turned me away from the new record — whcih I quite like.

    This is all an issue of quality control — a good producer might strip the mediocre songs from the great ones. Hasn’t happened with Adams yet.

    In other comments: I didn’t find the harmonies a problem in the mix at the TFC show. But since when did the Mod Club have a curfew. I wanted Everything Flows, dammit!

    Robert

  33. Arno says:

    Two things:

    One of the main reasons Heartbreaker was such an excellent record (and RA’s best since Whiskeytown) is that Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welsh played on it, two of bluegrass/Americana’s finest.

    Second, loved the exchange in the Pitchfork interview about Ryan vs. Bryan:

    Pitchfork: So have you ever met Bryan Adams?

    Adams: Yeah, once.

    Pitchfork: Was it weird?

    Adams: It was pretty weird. He was at this hotel in Germany. And I was upstairs, and I had really bad, bad fucking bronchitis, and I had to fly, you know? I think it was Munich. And I had flown over to do a week of press. I was so ill, like before the plane even landed, I was dying. So we tried to get the in-house doctor to come see me because I definitely needed something to break up some of mucous. And I got all these drugs, and then I got extra drugs, just because I was there, whatever else I was into at the time. I mean, it’s no mystery what I was into at the time. I basically got fixed up, he helped me to sleep. And it got charged to Bryan Adams’ room.

    Pitchfork: Did he call you?

    Adams: Yeah! So it was this big thing, and I get this call. And he’s like well, I think they’ve been charged to the wrong room. He’s got an English accent, I think his mom might be English or something. And he really wanted to come down and meet me. But I said no, I was too sick. I thought it would be greatest thing, I was just super-contagious. So we talked for awhile, and he was like "I definitely want to have a truce." And I was like, I’m not mad at you! He was being really emotional about it. And I was like, I don’t talk shit about you. I think everyone else has been making really weird comparisons or getting caught up in the name. And I was like, it’s a fucking Catholic name! Whatever. So then the medication I was taking made me kind of high, and I ended up calling him back later and asking him to be the tin man in that video I did with Elton John. Which he of course declined.

    Pitchfork: That’s a great story.

    Adams: I know, but I really shouldn’t have called him back. "By the way, man, do you want to play the tin man?"

    Pitchfork: I don’t think you should regret that.

    Adams: (In British accent): "I think I am going to be busy for the next thousand years."

  34. ohnonicole says:

    This is a shame. Cold Roses is a great album, if I had one bone to pick it would be to shorten it to one amazingly solid album of about 11-12 songs, instead of the double disc with lot of fill thing that seems to be all the rage. I’m looking at Dave Grohl here..

    As for Magnolia Mt ripping off the Grateful Dead….Ryan Adams is a huge fan of the GD. I’m a little tired of this whole ‘artists can’t show any sort of influence from any sort of other artist without being accused of plagerism’ shite. It’s stupid.

    Cold Roses features Adams in his element. No more of the pop drivel that was mediocre at best. A ‘countrier’ sound is definitly for him.

    As far as Adams and his songwriting goes, it doesn’t get better than "Friends" (ie "As pretty as a song/a song would ever be/like christmas on the river/without a boat or a christmas tree")

    Don’t be silly. If you can get it for ten bucks…there’s really no excuse. :P