Friday, June 23, 2006

Love Is Just a Lyric in a Children’s Rhyme

Under the Iron Sea - Keane

When I first heard of , I though what a fresh idea; a three piece band with no guitars instead just a piano to drive the melodies with drums being the lone part of the rhythm section. But as soothing as Somewhere Only We Know was, I only found it as background music at best, and like most America, lost interested making Keane a good candidate for one hit wonder land. And that was almost the case as the band almost split up in between albums.

That animosity clearly shows up on the album that nearly spawned the split and is much darker from what I expected. The tone is set with the dark Atlantic that opens the disk. The mood builds and builds after a new creepy layer is brought starting with the piano, then the drums and other atmospheric sounds until it all comes crashing down when the vocals arrives only to build up once again. But the atmospheric mood quickly gives way to arena rock with the pompous Is it Any Wonder? The real wonder is how the three of them are able to create some much noise with the absent of guitars (and when it comes to arena rock, noise in a good way).

For those looking for a rehash of Somewhere Only We Know, don’t look for it on this album. Nothing in the Way starts off with what sounds like the same piano chords, but the song quickly becomes more edgy. But the chip on their shoulder vibe does wear thin after awhile making for a long fifty minute album. Hamburger Song and Try Again are the rare tracks where the band slows things down reminiscent of the former mellow self. Most of the songs sound like channeling but without the diversity. Maybe next time next time Keane should bring in a guitar for a song or two to spice things up for the next album. Well that's if they don't implode by the time that happens.

Song to Download - Is it Any Wonder?

Under the Iron Sea gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Big Head Ozzie and the Monsters

Ozzie GuillenFirst let me clarify ’s oversized dome isn’t due to performance enhancers like say, Big Head Barry, instead it is thanks to his bloated ego. And the more he hears himself talk, the larger it gets. His most recent growth spurt in the head started last week when dude puts a pitcher, Sean Tracy, on the mound for the sole purpose of plunking someone just because another pitcher beamed , rightfully so, a couple times. When the pitcher was unable to hit the guy Guillen picked out for retaliation, he then promptly sends the pitcher back to minors. What a bush league thing to do. And even though Guillen all but admitted to ordering the plunking, Bud Selig, like always, just turned his head. If this was David Stern, there would be a lot of money going to a charity of his choice by now. Granted this is all just another reason to hate the American League and their horrible idea called the designated hitter.

But the bigger, and more recent case of Guillen loving to hear himself talk is when he turned sights onto Chicago writer, and one of the many reasons not to watch Around the Horn, whom Guillen said of, “What a piece of (expletive deleted) he is, (expletive deleted) (derogatory term for homosexual).” Now I could care less what people say, I’ve heard a lot worse come out of kids that haven’t hit puberty yet. But here’s why I’m offended, that he’s throwing around insults that dudes in Middle School use as frequently as “The.” I’d like to think a grown adult, especially one who is in a position that requires a lot of public speaking, could come up with a more original insult that a sixth grader.

Well I was offended until I heard his apologies, which could rank as one of the greatest apologies of all time: “I don't have anything against those people. In my country, you call someone something like that and it is not the same as it is in this country.” Nothing says I’m sorry like referring to those you offended as “those people.” Oh, and Guillen has lived in the United States for twenty years and is a naturalized citizen, so that throws away that excuse. And when he said he apologized to “the people I offended” he actually used air quotes. Classy.

I go to WNBA game, oh yeah, and I kiss dudesBut that’s not the part that makes it the best apology ever, this is; Guillen further explained to Greg Couch of the Sun-Times that he has no problem with gays, and that he has gay friends, goes to WNBA games, went to a concert and plans to attend the Gay Games in Chicago. Really nothing says how gay friendly you are then going to WNBA games and Madonna concerts. I'm surpised he didn't bust out, "and I watch Will and Grace." This apology could actually be more insulting then the original slur. Oh, also lost in the apology, he called Mariotti “a piece a (expletive deleted)” again, twice, and threw in “he’s not a man” for good measure. Best apology ever.

Then after his initial comments, Guillen then got thrown out of that night’s game after one of pitcher, actually succeeded in plunking a batter in retaliation. Then today, surprisingly Bud Selig handed down some punishment for his actions. And for those keeping track at home, here’s the tally: Ordering a pitcher to plunk someone and missing - none; Ordering a pitcher to pluck someone and succeeding - one game suspension and undisclosed fine; Making offensive statements - undisclosed fines.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Girl Go Ahead Let Your Hair Down

Corinne Bailey Rae - Corinne Bailey Rae

As we entered this new decade, one genre that has seemed to disappear from the musical landscape has been R&B. Don’t talk to me about Usher or Ciara because that type of R&B has been taken over Hip-Hop influences. Yeah, it was novel when invented the sub-genre over ten years ago, but now that every R&B artist has Hip-Hop producers all over their albums, it’s become tiresome. Even , whose first two albums were great, sometimes lets Hip-Hop take over too much in her songs. When I talk about real R&B music, I’m talking about baby making music like and .

Enter and her self titled debut album. The English songbird has actually been able make an R&B record in 2006 that doesn’t have any Hip-Hop beats on it. Rae has been touted as a cross between and but her voice is much more assessable than Gray’s (though it does take a little time to get used to) and goes far beyond Arie’s acoustic soul leanings. The comparison must come from the acoustic guitar driven second single Put Your Records On.

In fact on the album Rae is able to catch the vibe of R&B throughout the decade starting with the opener, Like a Star, a soft and stripped down song that evoke . She then moves into the sixties with Trouble Sleeping which could have fit in easily at a time when Motown ruled. Then Call Me When You Get This with its pseudo-disco beat could have been played during the hey day of Studio 54. Breathless would have a good edition to any album. With the closing track, Seasons Change, Rae is even able to evoke Alicia Keys without the Hip-Hop beats.

This album may not be enough to bring back real R&B nor will it produced more babies than a release, but it’s definitely worth a listen to anyone who misses silky voices and are tired of aggravated drum beats. The diversity of the album, mixing a wide range of soul music as well as a wide variety of instruments from song to song, should keep Corinne Bailey Rae in music collections for years to come.

Song to Download - Trouble Sleeping

Corinne Bailey Rae gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I've Been Hurt by My Past but I Feel the Future

Loose - Nelly Furtado

One of the best debut albums this decade was ’s Whoa Nelly! Yeah, it was a little uneven at times but when she was on, it was great like with Turn out the Light. The mix of techno and pop was refreshing at a time that overproduced music was being overexposed. Then for her next album, Nelly went more introspective and stripped down for her follow up Folklore which was wrongfully overlooked.

But after hearing the new single, Promiscuous, it sounds like as if Nelly has done a complete one-eighty from the introspective stripped down songs from her last album instead going for of a hip-hop influenced album for her latest album . And how do you spot a hip-hop album, you might ask, well it’s as simple as looking at the track list and count up the songs that are “featuring” someone as this album features more artist than her last two combined (for those keeping track at home, it would be 3-0 and that doesn’t include the bonus track and the pulled before the album went to press track featuring the dude from ). Another tell tale sign is in the production as in addition to her usual production team of Track and Field, Nelly brought in uber-producers Timbaland and of the Neptunes as well as Scott Storch, the hip-hop producer rappers go to when they can’t afford .

Much has been made of Nelly’s new sound biting that of ’s solo effort of 80’s dance music meets 00’s hip-hop beats and for most of the first half album most notable on the upbeat Glow and the slow jam Showtime but Do It is vintage circa Holiday. Although I think Promiscuous is less Hollaback Girl (or My Humps for that matter) and has more of a lineage to 90’s rap classic, I Got a Man. But the problem with these songs is they are clearly disposable and will fall into obscurity within a couple years and will be forgotten until Hal Sparks waxes poetic about them on I Love the 00’s.

Sadly Maneater isn’t a cover of the classic and really that’s all I have to say about that song.

Then in the middle of the album Nelly switches gears and goes to her roots with the Spanish influenced No Hay Igual which should be heard coming from every bar down in South Beach this summer or from every campaign bus of politicians trying to court the Hispanic vote in the midterm elections. Nelly then duets with Latin superstar for Te Busque. Oddly enough there is a bonus Spanish Version at the end of the album although its title isn’t in English. Then Say it Right has Cuban drum beats that would make jealous.

Nelly then ends the album with the types of songs that peppered Folklore though none hit the emotional high that Try did. In God’s Hand lays it on pretty thick. But she does much better with All Good Things (Come to an End) co-written with the dude from Coldplay but this one was left on the album. Wait for You sounds like something from the Whoa Nelly! era. Loose is a decent mix of old and new, but hopefully on her next album, Nelly lays off the disposable pop that liters the front half of the album.

Song to Download - Promiscuous

Loose gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Illest (Expletive Deleted) in a Cardigan Sweater

As I reported last week, Jamie Kennedy has a hilarious new video, Rollin’ with Saget out from his show which I posted thanks to YouTube (see - Am I Throwing You Off?). Unfortunately though, YouTube isn’t really known for its quality video resolution. So for those interested is seeing a better quality version of the video as well as being able to download it so you don’t have to deal with the pesky streaming video, iTunes is currently offering up the video for free. Granted there are some drawbacks to getting this video, the first and foremost being better quality of video means a better view of Tara Reid whose better off looked at in bad lighting. The other major problem being that the video is the censored version. But hey, it’s free. But you can still buy the uncensored song for ninety-nine cents. For some reason I cannot make a direct link to the free video, but just go to the TV page of iTunes and the ad should come up, feel free to use the two previous links to open the program for you to the show or song.

In other music related new, after weeks of very little quality albums to review, I’m currently working on three album reviews of albums coming out tomorrow so those will be coming in the next couple days. For those who want hints as to who that will be, one’s initials are NF, another is trying to avoid one hit wonder status, and that last had an acoustic song included on my last Car Mix. Bonus points to anyone who can guess the artists (and by bonus points, I mean a hearty pat on the back, well a virtual hearty pat on the back). One album I won’t be reviewing, on account that I don’t review live albums or greatest hits, is the new live album, New Amsterdam. But I will say you will be better off getting their previous double live album, Across a Wire which has a much better selection of their songs. The album is worth the price of admission sole for the live version of Anna Begins.

Other posts to look for, after the recent Lost 2.x review, I only have one show left to review, the Scooter Television Award for Best Show winner, Veronica Mars, so expect that in the new future along with the season two long Toss Up between the two previously mentioned show. So if you watch both shows religiously and enjoy my weekly series and would like to help me with a few suggestions on categories the show should battle out for, shoot me an e-mail as I’d like this last one to be as comprehensive as possible. I’m been racking my brain since the shows concluded, so you don’t really need to send along anything obvious or something I’ve mentioned in previous installments of the Toss Up series.

Finally, with summer in full swing, I have been toying with the idea of taking the weekends off. I’ve noticed a sharp decline in viewership to the 9th Green on weekends, since it’s started to warm up. Plus there is less to write about over the summer in the world of entertainment as there is really only one appointment TV show for me (Rescue Me). I did renew my Blockbuster subscription, so I should have more DVD reviews than I done recently, which have been basically none. And on the subject of Blockbuster, and this goes to those who prefer Netflix for some reason, with little worth watching over the summer, may I suggest added Veronica Mars to your queue if you have yet to watch the show. And if you don’t have any DVD subscriptions, you may want to check out your local library to see if they have a copy as a group has raised a lot of money to buy up the show’s DVD’s and donate them to libraries across the country. Veronica Mars is a most see show and if you don’t watch it, you are totally a television snob, not that I’m entirely sure what a musical snob is.