Rocknowski is listening to and reviewing the opening track of every new release we find interesting or worthy, for as long as he keeps his sanity. These reviews are for the opening tracks only, and go by the following rating system:
1 star – Could barely get through the one song.
2 stars – Will not listen to the rest of the album.
3 stars – Might listen to the rest of the album.
4 stars – Will definitely listen to the rest of the album.
5 stars – Could not wait to listen to the rest of the album.
Anna Calvi – Strange Weather – “Papi Pacify – **
- I can’t front. Songstress Anna Calvi has more beauty and talent than I’m even really usually comfortable with. Her latest EP, “Strange Weather” , is a volley of covers that features a guest spot by Ex-Talking Heads co-conspirator, David Byrne. The only one of the selected songs that I was previously familiar with is Alan Vega‘s “Ghost Rider.” Vega’s tunes have hit me many different ways over the years, but I believe this was my first boner.There’s no denying the atmosphere of this extended play. I’d say Miss Calvi has made the social climber’s make-out record of the year. This slab would also make a nice back drop for some of your classier suicides. If you’re gonna top yourself with an overdose of Vicodin washed down with a glass of port inside the New York or San Francisco city limits, this is your shit.
Bleachers – Strange Desire - “Wild Heart” – **
- Apparently this is the side project of one the kooky young men from the band, fun., You know what? The kiddos have exalted way less talented, way more obnoxious and way less infectious pop music over the years. As far as the sins of the Top 40 goes, this really ain’t that bad. Ten Hail Mary’s, tops. Believe me, I know. I live in Country Jam um…country. It could be worse.
Honeyblood - Honeyblood – “Fall Forever” – **
- Lester Bangs, the closest rock criticism has ever come to legend, once described The Clash‘s dub foray “Bankrobber” as sounding like “Every David Bowie single played backwards and at the same time.” Ok, so here’s Fat Cat recording artists, Honeyblood. And Honeyblood sounds like every single female fronted college rock band of the nineties. Then what happens? Let us say that every one of those bands had their DNA pulverized into a fine paste, and that paste was poured into a turkey baster and used to impregnate a vintage dress purchased at a thrift store. Then, that same soiled dress subdivided into Honeyblood and made this record. Somewhere during all that, some guitars jangled. To the degree that concept appeals to you, by all means check this shit out. If not, don’t trouble yourself.
Jason Mraz – Yes! - “Rise” – *
- Sit back, relax, lean back into the couch, close your eyes and imagine it’s 1987. U2 are heading into the studio to record their “Joshua Tree” album to be produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. Are you there? Good. Now imagine that a young Oprah Winfrey has been tapped to write all the lyrics and the Edge has quit the band. Or, if you don’t want waste time with imagining, take a listen to the new Jason Mraz.
John Hiatt – Terms Of My Surrender - Long Time Comin’ – **
- As I get older I tend to want to root for old guys more. I guess I want it proven by somebody that I’m not on the down side of relevance and vitality. Old ass John Hiatt doesn’t do much to help the old ass cause here. “Love can be so wrong, like a fat man in a thong.” Yeah, that’s kinda funny but it just seems like a lite parody of the late career, world weary crud Dylan’s been ramming down our throats for the last fifteen to twenty years.
Morrissey – World Peace Is None Of Your Business - “World Peace Is None Of Your Business” – ***
- The former Smith‘s lead singer’s biggest fans tend to be writers, not musicians. If you ever had sex with an English major that had a Sylvia Plath fixation, chances are this now grizzled old Manc was rolling around in that same subconscious. You probably got birthday cards and mix tapes that looked as though they’d gone out in a Morrisey/Plath rain without a bumbershoot. Those quotes will stain if you don’t replace them with some new age witchcraft/pyramid scheme. Where was I? Oh yeah, the new album’s ok but it’s like you died and went to theater kid heaven. Not a heaven to which this reviewer will be welcomed.
Puss N Boots – No Fools, No Fun – “Leaving London” – **
- Ok, let’s forget about the band bio. This is an all female country/jazz trio with one member who went ridiculously platinum with her debut album, and also almost killed me and my mother by putting us both to sleep on a drive home from aunt’s house in Harvard, one summer night twelve years ago. That was then. No hard feelings. This is a new venture. The production is tastefully under done. A pre-Civil Rights Act of 1964 Grand Ole Opry listener wouldn’t be shocked and appalled to have Puss N’ Boots spilling out of their Crosley. The songs sound like decent restorations of better, more ancient Americana, rendered by more talented but less inspired fans of the originals. Yes, sir. These girls can sing, and they can play. In terms of American roots music effectiveness, I’d put ‘em right at the la grange point between Emmylou Harris and Alannah Myles.
Rise Against – The Black Market – “The Great Die-off” – **
- This is perfectly competent mall punk. I suppose, if you don’t already have any Bad Religion, Naked Raygun, or even Against Me! records, this platter might do the trick.
Trampled by Turtles – Wild Animals - “Wild Animals” – **
- I’m what you call a non-traditional college student, so I can personally attest that TBT. is the closest thing this crop of young bloods have to a t-shirt band. What’s more, Trampled’s latest offering strikes me as proof-positive that the Flaming Lips are the most influential band around right now. Trampled By Turtles might channel Pink Floyd and Neil Young better than the current incarnation of the Lips but they have nowhere near the slow, crawl power and glory of the Lips (or Mercury Rev) in their mid-90′s prime. TBT’s website threatens that their gonna hit Red Rocks on August 16th. Which makes me wonder just how much cough syrup can one human being drink?
Soundtrack - Wish I Was Here - “So Now What” by The Shins - ***
- A decade ago, sitcom star Zach Braff made half of a great film. Braff packaged said film with a sound track that really spoke to the hooded sweatshirt and skinny jean set. Four years into the digital genocide of the traditional record industry, the soundtrack to Braff’s Garden State sold one million tangible units and pretty much gave the world the Shins, and vice-y versa. Allegedly, Wish I Was Here is a sequel of sorts to Garden State. and Braff the filmmaker has once again chose to lead with a Shins tune. The song sounds like Facebook era Beach Boys, as per usual with the Shins. It’s not bad. I mean, it doesn’t make me wanna go out and buy the album but it does make mildly curious about the film, despite the reviews.