\ Hip Displeasure: February 2005

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An independent music and pop culture commentary collective.


Sunday, February 27, 2005

Crooked Fingers - Dignity & Shame


For a guy who spent a decade in a band whose name invoked images of Robin Hood firing flaming arrows at steaming Nottingham turds, Eric Bachmann's music sure is purty, as evidenced by the latest album from Crooked Fingers (Bachmann's current nom de tune). Dignity & Shame leads off with "Islero," a bold and suspensful instrumental that sounds like something Cantinflas might listen to on his ayeayeayeayePod en route to a Mil Mascaras cage match. Mariachi horns aren't the only brilliantly incorporated instruments peppered throughout Dignity & Shame, as healthy portions of piano, lap steel, and conga only help to further enrich the sonic pallet.

Despite invoking such a wide array of styles, Dignity & Shame is immediately accessible, due in large part to a series of fantastic duets with silky-voiced siren Lara Meyerratken. "Call to Love" has the greatest potential to break big, though "Twilight Creeps" may have even more staying power. There's also plenty of raucousness to be had here, such as a deliciously reckless guitar solo unleashed during the last third of "Destroyer," the irresistable junkyard hoedown "Valerie," and the bad-ass bassline that propels "Coldways." There isn't a single sub-par moment on this entire album, though the title track just may trigger an interpretive dance by Ace and Gary at any moment. It's gonna take one hell of an album to knock this from the top spot in 2005.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Low - The Great Destroyer

Sub Pop

If there's one thing viewers of the Paris Hilton sex tape came away with, other than a raging case of retinal gonorrhea, it's the realization that seemingly high-quality content can be absolutely ruined by the way it's recorded. Rick Solomon's disastrous directorial debut probably should have been called Behind the Green Lens, because of his ill-fated decision to film the celebutante coitus through a pair of Arthur Kent's '91-vintage night vision goggles. A similar fate befalls the latest Low album, The Great Destroyer, as otherwise superb songs are submerged in a sea of shot subwoofers.

While the relentless onslaught of distorted low-end gives the intense "Monkey" an added sense of urgency, it spoils many of the other tracks on The Great Destroyer, such as turning the tender "California" into a tuneless trainwreck. Still, the album isn't a total loss. "When I Go Deaf" succeeds not in spite of, but because it sounds like Paul and Paula backed by Crazy Horse. And the beautiful ballad "Broadway (So Many People)" soars above not only the rest of this album, but nearly everything else released so far in 2005. The Great Destroyer, on the other hand, never quite manages to get fully off the ground.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Archer Prewitt - Wilderness

Thrill Jockey

It's been a rough couple of weeks for Steve Winwood. First, his Traffic bandmate Jim Capaldi dies; then, he reaches an even lower spark when Archer Prewitt's Wilderness bumps Blind Faith from the top spot on Roman Polanski's list of all-time favorite album covers. But unlike the subject of Prewitt's pederasstic cover art, the musical content of Wilderness is certainly not underdeveloped. Throughout this album, Prewitt plays the role of metaphysical minstrel better than just about anyone since Cat Stevens (before he started loading the boxcars on the Peace Train full of ammonium nitrate).

The lyrics are deep and mysterious throughout, as evidenced by the fact that I still haven't quite figured out whether "O, KY" is an ode to the Bluegrass State or America's favorite coital lubricant. And musically, there are certain moments scattered across various points of Wilderness that recall Pink Floyd and even Led Zeppelin, channeled through Seals and Crofts. Like his previous albums, Prewitt's latest requires repeated listenings to fully reveal itself, but you definitely won't mind getting lost in this Wilderness.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Detroit Cobras - Baby

Rough Trade

I loved listening to the latest in a long line of lyrically lewd and lascivious LPs from The Detroit Cobras, Baby. (Yeah, I know four releases isn't enough to constitute a "long line," and one of the four wasn't even an LP, but I was infected by the alliteration bug like so much hantavirus...just roll with me, here.) Led by rambunctiously raunchy Rachel Nagy, they once again mine the vaults of rare early '60s roadhouse R&B for another hip-shaking hullabaloo.

Rachel and the boys hit garage gold at every turn with their sly selection of obscure cover tunes, such as the smouldering Cropper/Hayes/Porter-penned Stax-era "Weak Spot" and Betty Harris' long lost "Mean Man." But the album's standout track is actually a Detroit Cobras original, the quadruple-entendre "Hot Dog (Watch Me Eat)." It certainly bodes well for an all-original album in the future, should they choose to record one. Even if they don't, they're still the best at bringing the wrong side of the tracks from the days of Camelot to The Nukeular Age.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Albums in the review queue

Having written only one review in the past 33 days (and counting, because this obvious attempt at pandering filler doesn't count as a review), you might think I've already failed on keeping my New Year's Resolution to review every 2005 release I hear this year. Truth is, until recently, that Kings of Leon record was the only 2005 release I HAD heard. BUT, I've *ahem* "obtained" several other 2005 releases over the past few days, which I am still in the process of absorbing. Once I've given each a sufficient number of spins (probably within the next few days), you can expect to see their reviews right here in living HTML! So, to tide you over (and, more importantly, to keep you from thinking I've bailed on this blog like I've done to dozens before), here are the albums in my review queue:

Archer Prewitt - Wilderness
Crooked Fingers - Dignity & Shame
The Decemberists - Picaresque
The Detroit Cobras - Baby
Low - The Great Destroyer

So, don't give up on us, baby...