Random musical thoughts.
- Guess what: SMiLE is actually good. Really good, maybe classic. I need to listen to it a few more times, let it settle, but I'm really floored 'cause this album shouldn't be this excellent.
When my friend Mark played me scraps from the original/aborted version, I loved the idea of this mythic, lost work of art that exists only as shards of harmonies, bits of melodies and lots of fevered speculation. When I heard that Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks were getting back together to finish the album this year, I was apprehensive. When I learned that they were throwing out everything that had been recorded in the '60s and were starting fresh, I was convinced that the result was going to be total shite. Wrong. It's brilliant-- it's the radiating pocket-symphony that we'd been promised. It sounds like a ground-breaking album from the '60s-- but richer and not at all stale. Brian's vocals, while not perfect, are surprisingly strong (Dude can still hit some notes) and he surrounded himself with a supremely talented group of musicians and singers. Most impressive is the way the album flows and how painstakingly thought-out it is.
Here's to Brian: for getting out of the sand-box, past the "columnated ruins domino" echo-chamber, and back into the sun.
- I'm not really digging on the new Elvis Costello. I really want to, all the pre-release buzz sounded great, but the album just isn't doing it for me. I love certain musical moments (Stevie busting into West Side Story on "Button My Lip"), but lyrically and vocally Elvis is all over the place and in the end... shrug. And it kills me, 'cause I know the dude can still deliver (see also: When I Was Cruel), I guess I just need to accept the fact that to get to the good, we're going to have to wade through crap (see also: North).
- Full confession: I kind of like Marilyn Manson. When I was in high school, I hated that fucker a lot. I was annoyed with the "Sweet Dreams" cover and the broken Goth-Barbie doll look. But when he morphed into that white he-she that sang weird Bowie-esque songs, I suddenly got the the joke and found myself kind of liking the crazy (God of) fuck. I mean, c'mon, he goes to Salt Lake City and sings a song with a chorus that goes "I won't be a slave / to a God that doesn't exist," all the while he's wearing a body suit that gives him big white boobies... what's not to like? This is a long way of saying: I bought Manson's new disc, Lest We Forget: The Greatest Hits, and it's really fun-- all retarded-death kitsch, faux high school angst and silly pop-metal. I'm sorry, the guy makes me laugh. (Does that make me sick?) I dare you to look at this picture--in all its over-the-top-theatrics and desperation to shock--and not laugh:
See? Funny, knowing and slightly scary. I know, I know-- then why not listen to Weird Al and/or Slipknot and/or Gwar? Well, 'cause I think the Manson writes better shitty songs. I don't like the drugs (but the drugs like me), indeed.
- Another confession: I wanted to like the new Gwen Stefani record. When I saw the list of producers she was working with--The Neptunes, Dallas Austin, New Order, Nellee Hooper, William Orbit, Andre 3000, Missy Elliott--I figured there'd be plenty of hot pop-shit to cherry-pick off of iTunes. First sign of impending doom: she named the album Love Angel Music Baby (it spells LAMB!). Second sign of impending doom: the first single, "What You Waiting For," dropped. Boy does it suck ass. Ripping the melody off Weezer's "Hash Pipe" and setting it to sub-P!nk disco is not hott.
- But you know what is hott? That opening drum loop to the new Destiny's Child song. I have a hard time caring about the typically weak verses (Note to Beyone: hire a lyricist.), but that drumline opening? Sick. (Side note: I just noticed that those smug fucks over at Pitchfork dig on the opening of the song too. I guess I'm in good company. I guess.)