Monday, December 13, 2010

Pet Shop Boyz, Ke$ha, Coati Mundi are WORTH IT!!! Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah!!!

For some reason, an image search for all three of them yields this mulleted sweetheart.
These R just Xcerpts -- links provided if you wanna read the whole things.  AND YOU DO.

Ultimate Pet Shop Boys
"Now, if you shell out a not-unreasonable sum of money for the Special Edition, which includes two discs of live performances, including a complete set from Glastonbury earlier this year, you’ll get all of the above songs and plenty of others you may or may not wanna hear.  Look, there’s “Rent” on Top of the Pops!  Crazy smoke machine; it really gets you inside the febrile mind of the kept woman.  Of course, if you’re reading this review, you probably already own “Rent”, not to mention “Opportunities”.  If not, go buy Pop Art.  (The first Pet Shop Boys compilation, Discography, shouldn’t be considered in light of its rash decision to exclude “Go West”, the Boys’ most heartrending four minutes of bliss—said bliss, after all, is perpetually in the future, somewhere else—ostensibly because it “hadn’t been recorded yet” or something.)  As a single disc compilation, Ultimate lives up to that audacious adjective worse than any album in recorded history, with the possible exception of Radio Disney Ultimate Jams, which rashly excluded the A*Teens’ “Halfway Around the World”.  Se a vida é." (7/10)

 Ke$ha -- Cannibal
"“Cannibal” opens the EP with a blank-eyed rap, delivered almost in monotone, and then explodes into a chorus of at least three different Auto-Tuned voice effects. During the second verse Ke$ha breaks out her party-girl voice. Now, this voice is plainly an act. When K speaks in an interview, she sounds like a normal Midwesterner—some lazy Valley vowels aside, she could be a nightly news anchor. In song, she lays down a calculated mix of diphthongs, growly Midwestern “errrrr”s, and even some southern tics; so the phrase “stir my tea” comes out “sterr mah teeeeeeah”. If there’s a guiding principle to her cobbled “accent”, it seems to be “sound as improper as possible”. This back-and-forth, between unrefined Eliza Doolittle impropriety and blatant computer manipulation, would justify a couple online theses.  Above all, it’s Ke$ha’s way of selling her transgressive pop-music niche." (7/10)

Coati Mundi -- Dancing for the Cabana Code in the Land of Boo-Hoo
"Mundi and his collaborator E-Love have composed straight up disco beats, grounded on solid four-by-four thumps and layered with polyrhythms. Not for nothing is one song called “Dancing Disco 101”. The beats are dense, too—they really fill up the aural space. At first, the effect is monolithic, but once you get accustomed to the sound and let your ears wander into the rhythmic thicket, previously unheard elements—synth squeals, cheering crowds, congas, Mundi’s vibes and scatting—reveal themselves like exquisite rare flowers. Although apparently simple, these rhythms are impossible to fully grasp on first listen." (8/10)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

New Christmas/Holiday/Solstice albums that may or may not be WORTH IT...

I know it SEEMS like a weird title for a Christmas song, but they pull it off.

Le Bien...
Indigo Girls
Holly Happy Days

The Indigo Girls aren’t the only lesbians in The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music; but while we await a reissue of The Children of the Day Christmas Album, Holly Happy Days will happily suffice.  Hot on the heels of last year’s overlooked Poseidon and the Bitter Bug, the Girls’ first holiday album is heavy on the hoedowns, with an all-star bluegrass band racing through the Isaacs’ “I Feel the Christmas Spirit” and the Indigo original “The Wonder Song”.  Despite a couple snoozers, Amy and Emily rescue the ponderous “O Holy Night” with their matter-of-fact arrangement.  The real story on this album is the sense of community throughout.  GLAAD Award nominee Brandi Carlile contributes backing vocals; the recently-out Chely Wright contributes the swingin’ tune “It Really Is a Wonderful Life”.  The highlight is Woody Guthrie’s “Happy Joyous Hanukah”, resurrected several years ago by the Klezmatics.  With vocal help from Janis Ian—one of two gay people to pen a #1 Christian radio hit—and GLAMA winner Mary Gauthier, it’ll make you spin around the living room like some giddy dreidel.  This song simply cannot be recorded enough.  Holly Happy Days is exactly as skillful, thoughtful, and fun as you’d expect.  Your move, Jennifer Knapp! 

...le Meh:
December Songs

My word, but these kids can sing!  Sonos represent the innovative edge of nü-acapella, which means members blend the smooth pop-jazz harmonies of Bobby McFerrin with effects pedals, beatboxing that sounds like wan electro-pop, and NPR-friendly new songs, including the group’s own compositions!  Four of these December Songs are originals; I don’t expect they’ll storm the X-mas repertoire like John Lennon’s “War is Over”, but they’re not unpleasant if overheard while trimming your tree.  Really, though, you could do better.  The sextet’s “O Holy Night” is a static arrangement that offers nothing new. “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is an inspired choice, but the polite counterpoint adds little to the hymnal.  Sonos scatter some bright ideas here and there, but hasn’t surmounted acapella’s greatest obstacle: how to make the music sound necessary as music, rather than simply as a vehicle for the group’s obvious talents. l'Ug.
The Superions
Destination... Christmas!

My reluctance to enjoy Destination… Christmas! may be evidence that I lack a sense of humor.  If so, Fred Schneider’s Christmas music killed it.  The B-52s vet offers 11 bitchy, kitschy Christmas rants over the listless electronica of his Snuggie-garbed pals, Noah Brodie and Dan Marshall.  The songs tend to be one-joke takes on holiday ephemera—chalet vacations, hating Christmas, seasonal sex, hungry yeti, fruitcake—stretched out way past their sell-by dates.  At least Schneider seems to be having fun, but his B-52s-era exuberance is gone.  The one laugh comes at the beginning of the Serge Gainsbourg parody “Santa Je T’aime”, but once that laugh disappears, you’re left with an exhausting fake smile plastered on your face.  True, my preschooler now walks around the house singing “Santa’s Disco”, but he also says of “Fruitcake”, “This is a LONG song.”  It lasts three and a half minutes. 

[These all ran at, bless 'em.]