Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jay Reatard - Watch Me Fall

Jay Reatard
Watch Me Fall

It certainly has been a long, strange career for Jay Lindsey. The Tennessee native has nearly completed the circle he began with his first band. The Reatards had punk songs with pop sensibilities but a rawness and honesty not heard in pop punks like Green Day. The Reatards' sparse production and subject matter kept them from major media conscience. They were more of less angry Germs.

Then came numerous other projects, including the tremendous Lost Sounds. But in recent years, Lindsey set out on a solo career while reclaiming his Reatard moniker. The songs are very similar, complete with hooks and minimal production. Only now, the guitars are toned down. But that hasn't lightened Jay's garage punk attitude. He has a specific idea as to what his records should sound like and hasn't wavered. Watch Me Fall is Jay Reatard continuing to deliver on the promise he showed on 2006's Blood Visions. He has only gotten better as his singles collections from last year have proven. Could he finally be ready for world domination? Not if he can help it.

Track Grades
  1. It Ain't Gonna Save Me – 8.5
  2. Before I Was Caught – 8.7
  3. Man Of Steel – 8.0
  4. Can't Do It Anymore – 8.2
  5. Faking It – 8.1
  6. I'm Watching You – 8.8
  7. Wounded – 9.1
  8. Rotten Mind – 9.3
  9. Nothing New – 8.4
  10. My Reality – 8.7
  11. Hang Them All – 9.2
  12. A Whisper (There Is No Sun) – 9.4

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dinosaur Jr - Farm

Dinosaur Jr
LP/CD/2xCD (Ltd. Edition)

Don't let the hugging tree cover fool you. J Mascis & Co. have come back to blow you away. This, the follow-up to last year's original lineup reunion, is a romping good time. Like Beyond, Farm starts off with a bang and peters out a bit here and there. Dinosaur is, and always has been, at their best when Mascis's guitar cuts loose and Lou Barlow and Murph follow his lead. Not to diminish the power of the original line-up but, just as Mascis seemed to feel throughout the '90s, Barlow's songwriting contributions would be better served on a Sebadoh release. His songs really just tend to distract from Mascis's. Truth be told, the band sounds even more in lockstep this time around. This is in no small part due to the rhythm section playing. I may find Barlow's songwriting less interesting but the nuances of his and Murph's playing liven up the sound of the band that was missing for over a decade. Quite a sound to behold.

Track Grades

  1. Pieces – 9.6
  2. I Want You To Know – 9.4
  3. Ocean In The Way – 8.5
  4. Plans – 8.2
  5. Your Weather – 7.5
  6. Over It – 8.8
  7. Friends – 8.6
  8. Said The People – 8.3
  9. There's No Here – 8.4
  10. See You – 7.7
  11. I Don't Wanna To Go There – 8.6
  12. Imagination Blind – 7.6


Friday, July 03, 2009

Marilyn Manson - The High End Of Low

Marilyn Manson
The High End of Low

It has been well-documented of the self parody that Marilyn Manson has become. The curse of trying to live up to his image has tainted his work ever since 2000's Holy Wood. His message is much more effective and interesting when he is at his most honest instead of painting himself as society's number one pariah. Manson's tales of personal struggle ("Devour," and "Running To The End Of The World," are far more arresting than his childish word play (most other tracks).

In recent years, the musicianship in Manson's albums has suffered. Now, former bassist/guitarist and musical director Twiggy Ramirez (a.k.a. Jeordie White) has returned to try to write honest to goodness rock songs (with a little help from former Nine Inch Nails drummer, Chris Vrenna). The fault in most of the songs is in fact Manson's limited lyrical and vocal scope. Like his last few efforts, there are only a few tracks that can hold the listener's attention for more than 30 seconds. The music is the most interesting since 1998's Mechanical Animals but Manson himself stands in the way of most of the tracks' success. The one ingredient that helped him overcome his abilities was his fury and that is largely missing, along with the intrigue.

Track Grades

  1. Devour – 8.3
  2. Pretty As A ($) – 7.0
  3. Leave A Scar – 6.3
  4. Four Rusted Horses – 7.4
  5. Arma-goddamn-motherfuckin-geddon – 6.4
  6. Blank And White – 5.8
  7. Running To The Edge Of The World – 9.4
  8. I Want To Kill You Like They Do In The Movies – 6.6
  9. WOW – 4.8
  10. Wight Spider – 5.3
  11. Unkillable Monster – 8.3
  12. We're From America – 7.2
  13. I Have To Look Up Just To See Hell – 7.0
  14. Into The Fire – 7.5
  15. 15 – 6.8


Explosions In The Sky Live: Thursday, July 2nd 2009

This being the 10 year anniversary of Explosions In The Sky, the precocious Texans celebrated with a tour. Before the Chicago show, I checked out the merch table and found a curious item. The out-of-print CD of The Rescue, an installment in the Travels In Constants series from Temporary Residence Records lied there on the table labeled "Limit One". Needless to say, I plunked down my $15 and was instantly in a good mood. The Congress Theatre was packed but I found a seat in the very back of the balcony. I caught the last three songs of the set by Jason Lytle and was a little bored.

Then, Explosions took to the stage and were captivating. Their music is very easy to get lost in. Their beautiful cacophony was just loud enough to drown out the yammering harpies standing against the wall behind me. It is very impressive the way they keep their set moving amidst tuning changes, with only Michael James switching instruments from bass to guitar and back again. No matter the instrument, James provides the thunder along with Chris Hrasky's drums. Munaf Rayani and Mark Smith's guitar weave a textured tapestry over everything. They provide the beauty to James and Hrasky's beast. Their set was a fine mix encompassing at least two tracks from each of their full length albums. Converted fans as a result of the band's work on the soundtrack to Friday Night Lights only had the extended version of "Your Hand In Mine," that appears on 2004's The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place. The performance was powerful and flawless and benefitted from the fact that they weren't supporting any one album but celebrating their entire career. And we were right there with them.

The Setlist

  1. Memorial
  2. The Birth And Death Of The Day
  3. A Song For Our Fathers
  4. Your Hand In Mine
  5. Snow And Lights
  6. Greet Death
  7. A Poor Man's Memory
  8. Catastrophe And The Cure
  9. The Only Moment We Were Alone