Wednesday, June 27, 2007


The newest recurring feature on HSW...."Whathaveyou." Larry King style rapid fire snippets regarding a wide array of miscellany pertaining to, for the most part, the current musical climate. Of course, gross editorializing will ensue. Enjoy:

  • Let's not kid ourselves: Jack White has the best voice in rock and roll.
  • No matter what you think of Bright Eyes, "Four Winds" is one of the best composed songs of the past couple of years.
  • Sufjan Stevens' characteristic ivory work lends a great deal to The National's stellar track, "Ada." But "Start A War" is still Boxer's best song.
  • I finally picked up a Velvet Underground album and was massively underwhelmed. It's the Andy Warhol one. Had to be there?
  • The Wilco VW ads are very tastefully done.
  • Two brilliant 2006 albums that I've discovered in 2007: Boys and Girls in America by The Hold Steady and Post-War by M. Ward.
  • There's word that Beck has recorded an album's worth of classic country songs. This is something I've long hoped for, so it will be much anticipated.
  • Because of initial disappointment, I didn't pay enough attention to Arcade Fire's Neon Bible. Perhaps a revisit is in store in the near future.
  • Fingers crossed for new releases from Band of Horses and Radiohead before year's end. If I had to choose one, it'd be BOH. We know what Radiohead is capable of. Let's see if Ben and the boys can deliver with their second go-round.
  • Lucinda Williams' latest release, West, was so disappointing that I hold little hope for her future creative output. Thank goodness for Car Wheels.
That's all for now. I hope to make this a weekly thing, but you know how that goes.


I feel like I whined a bit about my Adams experience. It was my first time seeing the man perform. I'd worked 14 of the last 16 days and drove hours to see him perform. I simply wished to see him lay his bravado on the line, to have his famed recalcitrance shine through by performing one or two of his sad, old, fucking standards.

This White Stripes clip makes up for it all, though. As much as we've discussed about the Stripes' schtick, Jack puts 150% into every performance. No dialing it in there.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Higher Ground.

I should perhaps go ahead and post a disclaimer: The following dispatch will be of no use to you if you've already read George's 'Easy Tiger' review. You will have already come to expect everything that I will proceed to say.

As I've mentioned before, I'll most likely leave the heavy-handed reviews to George. I believe he's much better equipped with the patience and stability to adequately dissect and debate the merits of new studio works, so long as I'm on the road.

That being said, seeing Ryan Adams at Higher Ground in Burlington, VT the other night seemed exactly like the sort of affair one would come to expect from a newly sober Adams. As an artist who's been alternately lauded with mountains of praise and excoriated with trash heaps of vitriol, one could conjecture that Adams might be moving toward maturity and indemnity by making amends with both of these contingents. (See AA Step #8.)

Adams chose to ameliorate the other night by "dad-rocking." Having to witness Wilco, another favorite, introduce three pieces to their gig ensembles, I'm pretty wary of bands who wish to dress for concerts or affairs in suits. Blazers and slacks were a staple of 60's bands performing on variety shows, but today's bands needn't have to break through TV barriers to reach viewers and sponsors any longer. Music lovers and the general populace have come to accept rock n' roll for what it is, which is sadly an almost impotent form of social subversion.

Therefore, Ryan and the boys showed up in suits. They sat down. Everybody knew they were to make "serious music." Adams gripped the mic as he once grabbed the bottle, dependent upon its ability to produce sentiment and truth. There was buzz about an injured hand. There was also conjecture about Adams wanking too hard. Adams, Cards and Co. rolled through the new songs, each as spot-on as the next, pristine and album-worthy. Hardly any dialogue. 'Carolina Rain' was pretty epic. Neil Casal provided some sweet guitar playing on 'Let it Ride.' Adams managed to pull out a somewhat convincing cover of Alice in Chains' "Down in a Hole." Hardly anything released previous to 2005 was played.

Going back to the suit theme of the night, Tweedy managed to introduce a business-like component to the band during the "Ghost is Born" era, but Adams has always been slave to his beautiful songs being purely dependent upon his ramshackle despondency. The 'Cold Roses' jam band teases were fun, but were never received like Adams' other albums because of the lack of brevity and other elements involved in Adams communicating a jam. In Burlington, Adams neither provided the band a focus nor took command of his presence as a drunken mutineer and showman.

Anyhow, a sort of disappointment plagued me after the show. I met Adams, a fellow native of Jacksonville, NC, a town he's mythologized in song, mentioned I was from there and only received simple responses, "Oh, right on. Tarheel state, bro."

I'm aware of his status. I'm aware that he's rather used to being catered to.

But, would Springsteen say the same thing to a man from Asbury Park?

New Music Review: Easy Tiger by Ryan Adams

Easy Tiger
Ryan Adams

I'd be hard-pressed to deny that any one artist has had more influence on my life than Ryan Adams. His music provided the greater part of the soundtrack to my most lasting relationships, and the lingering regrets that emanate therefrom. His songs manage to tap into some very complex emotional territory and invoke empathy if not always sympathy from his fiercely loyal fanbase. Perhaps it's his delivery; perhaps it's ability to give magnificent weight to microcosmic situations via gentle lyrical embroidery, as he does with fan favorites "Come Pick Me Up" and "Anybody Wanna Take Me Home."

In the past year or so--since the release of 29, the understated finale to his 2005 trilogy of albums--my infatuation with Ryan Adams has cooled. Rather, I've expanded my horizons at a financially unhealthy pace. I estimate that I've doubled my music collection over the past year; my CD tower has nearly reached its capacity. But it's all been beneficial. My ability to rationalize and contextualize music has grown by leaps and bounds since I decided to delete "Ryan Adams" from my iTunes Library search bar.

I didn't swear off Ryan. He was still in my rotation, amidst all the others. I simply took a step back. I travelled to Scotland, eschewing a number of the Cardinals' Southeastern tour stops in the process. I became less of an apologist, unafraid to discredit a poor song or stupid lyric. Less a fanboy, more a fan I became.

And now I find myself here, seated at my trusty work-station, the case to Ryan's newest disc, Easy Tiger, resting haphazardly over the edge of my desk. Is this a metaphor? Perhaps symbolizing the critical situation of my tepid relationship with David Ryan Adams, my once-musical savior?!?!?

Nah. That's just where it is.

And that's exactly how I tried to approach this album. Completely sans implications; no shining fanboy reaction, no neutralizing sour review. Just gonna listen to the music, knowing what I know about Ryan Adams and his, I quote, sweet disposition.

My conclusion: The album is solid. Not his best; not his worst. And that'll do nicely. These days, I'm always a bit nervous of what kind of stunt Ryan will pull next. We all heard the rap albums. Funny...but kinda lame. Crazy outfits, an unwieldy website, oddball online messages. Is this how people will remember Ryan?

Hopefully not. And luckily, Easy Tiger reminds us all that Ryan Adams...rapper, fashionista, socialite, skater punk, firebrand that he a goddamn fantastic songwriter. "Goodnight Rose", a recent live staple, is a grand and blasting introduction to the disc, although the cluttered second verse is the kind of imperfection that seems a bit forced rather than endearing. The song pans out well, and serves as sturdy bedrock on which the remainder of Easy Tiger is constructed. "Two" (ironically the album's first single) is a structual redux of Gold's "Harder Now That It's Over." Sheryl Crow's backing vocals are mercifully negligible, but it still kinda seems like something you'd hear at a grocery store. "I'm fractured/from the fall(CHHK)Price check, Spaghettios."

"Halloweenhead" is a song you'll either love or hate. It's one of those stunts to which I referred earlier. It's a goofball song, complete with "guitar solo!" shredtroduction and lyrical references to tricks, treats, candy bags and punks in drag. The song is catchy as a fuck, but I think it belongs on the b-side of a single, not batting clean-up on an otherwise refreshingly genuine album.

But redemption is the word, as the next trio of songs compensate for the antics of their predecessor. "Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.", although stupidly titled, is the kind of song Ryan does so well. Rife with self-pity, sorrow, but gleaming faintly with optimism: "The light of the moon leads the way towards the morning." On to "Tears of Gold," a countrified waltz that wouldn't have been out of place on Jacksonville City Nights, with its references to graves and food on tables, all sweetly woven in pedal steel, courtesy of Jon Graboff. "The Sun Also Sets" will be the chick-pick of the album, and rightfully so. The refrain of "There it is" is the kind of Ryan lyric that can make his songs so painfully fucking "I've had a pretty hard life" from "Easy Hearts", like "Lover, why do you leave" from the song of the same name, or "You don't do me right/When the rope gets tight" from "Don't Fail Me Now." Lines like these pour over your whole body like a gush of hot wind.

The next track, "Off Broadway," was given new life, having previously appeared on the unreleased Destroyer, along with "These Girls," formerly known as "Hey There Miss Lovely." I must say I prefer the earlier version of both. "Off Broadway" is spread too thin, trying to stretch out over the entire band. I'd say the song would have been best suited as a solo acoustic venture. "These Girls" is presented as such, but the lyrical changes from its earlier incarnation are a step back. The wonderful line "I'm the plastic three-inch armies you destroy," from the original is now "I'm the matchbox cars you buy and burn in your backyard," which seems trite and far less charming. But, of course, it's nice that such well-written songs receive a proper release.

These songs sandwich three more solid tracks. "Pearls on a String" is a mandolin/banjo vehicle that's as affecting as a summer evening hayride. "Rip Off" is my personal favorite--it's an earnest tune lyrically, with an equally strong piano chord progression. It's well-placed too, providing some depth at the tail-end of the album.

The sweet closer, "I Taught Myself How To Grow Old," is beautifully Neil Young; but unfortunately marred ever so slightly by a poor harmonica take. But the lyrics are a perfect example of the microcosmic situation stuff I was talking about earlier. Ryan's delivery is meek and heart-wrenching, his lyrics hopelessly accepting:

"Most of the time I got nothing to say
When I do it's nothing and nobody's there to listen anyway
I know I'm probably better off this way
I just listen to the voices on the TV 'til I'm tired
My eyes grow heavy and I fade away."
--"I Taught Myself How To Grow Old"

And so ends Easy Tiger. Again, the album is solid. It won't go down as an all-time great, or even Ryan's flagship effort. But, to be sure, it's not a stunt. It's unmistakably genuine, despite "Halloweenhead." And even that song retains some shreds of dignity. While Easy Tiger is a safe album, it's perhaps the album Ryan Adams needed to make. No gimmicks, no unsubtle tributes, no shtick. Even if it's just a swirling of elements from all his past albums, Easy Tiger isn't Dylan-esque, Dead-esque,'s Ryan Adams making a Ryan Adams album. And it's pretty damned good.

Synopsis: Easy Tiger sometimes borders on adult contemporary, but altogether it's a powerful album by a songwriter who is still writing with unwavering passion. The songs can be as vivid as a mountain range at sunset or as delicate as summer raindrops sliding down a window pane. Anyone outside of active Ryan-haters will find it enjoyable.

Standout Tracks: Tears of Gold, The Sun Also Sets, Rip Off

Good For: Watching summer evenings melt into a warm, starry night.

Buy It: Go ahead and pick this one up, but if you're stubborn you're likely to find it in the used bin down the line.

Packaging: Not great really. A phoned in cover, although the liner notes aren't half bad. There's a nice fold-out picture spread. The CD itself looks very amateurish, and does little to complement the music.


*(On a scale of 5)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Soul Brothers

Over the weekend I had the chance to revisit and discuss some of the most influential, entertaining and emotionally-charged music in history. Soul, that is. Sadly, this genre is slightly unappreciated and vastly unexplored by our generation.

Building on early crooners like Nat King Cole, the Blues; and fueled by lives of hardship, heartbreak and hatred, Soul musicians are the cream of America's music crop who helped break down walls of race by promoting "peace, love and understanding" (not unlike their inter-generational, hippie counterparts). Not only did they deal with (and write about) the struggles of everyday life, but they endured the trials of segregation, poverty, drug addiction and family feuds (Marvin Gaye was shot by his father in 1984) while their music has helped soothe generations. Many artists (like Gaye) fought the music machine of Motown in the 60s and 70s, longing for creativity rather than capital.

The evolution of Rock n' Roll in the 50s was a natural offshoot of earlier Black music, and was the inevitable result of literally electrifying the instruments used in Rhythm [and Blues] musicians as coexisting styles experienced and evolved one another. Soul music has more so evolved than originated; but since before Shakespeare, human beings have welded love with lyrics in a concoction of passionate sound meant (most of the time) for the opposite sex. After all, it's only natural.

However, the cream of the crop of which I speak are none other than the classics: Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Al Green (keep 'em comin').
(Granted, I mention the above artists because of their talent and my appreciation and familiarity of their music, that is not to say that there are not plenty of others out there.) Actually, my initial conversation sparked over Wilson Pickett, an artist whom I admit I had only heard the necessary hits but passed them off in a spectrum approaching (despicable) beach music. I was wrong. Pickett holds his own in the fraternity of Soul, mixing sounds traditionally dominated by black musicians (funk, jazz, soul and blues) into quick-tempo, heartfelt melodies that can make you crack a smile, shed a tear or drop to your knees in anguish. I could probably write a book about the music (some desirable, some not) these artists have influenced. But I'll try to take the more direct route out of relevant interest.

I only ask that you take a second listen to these artists--dig deeper into the catalogs of Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and others. The elements of social change are evident in their music and tie another knot in the personal emotional tension wrapped up in artists of this era. Not to mention the individual talents of some of these artists (aside from vocals--the savvy of Sam Cooke, the piano playing of Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and John Legend; Prince's multi-instrumentation).

Present torchbearers and barons of Neo-Soul John Legend, Musiq (Soulchild)--and this blogger's personal favorite--D'Angelo are slightly less tortured, but sustain the sweet caress,warm moods and stirring emotions that make us turn this music up when the lights go down. And don't think for a second that I forgot about Prince.

According to, Legend's work with Kanye West launched him into a more recognizable status. Nevertheless, Legend's rustic, straightforward sound is a faithful homage to the AM days of Soul--a sound otherwise lost on today's artists dishing out a steady diet of Fruity-Loops.

The same can be said of D'Angelo, who--at first glance--wears hip-hop on his sleeve in an emperor's new clothes fashion. But the man knows his craft and crafts it well, creating Soul music for the soul that, these days, has everything.
(To his credit, D'Angelo writes all and produces most of his

Unfortunately, these modern-day crooners are frequently drowned out by the loud mouths and looped-bass of their explicitly-chauvinistic, rapping counterparts. Needless to say, Soul music is the fruit born of an impressive family tree. And for us Southern boys and girls, can teach us a lot about the former state of affairs in our homeland and a wholly different perspective on life.


"Stay With You" and "Number One" by John Legend
"Feel Like Makin' Love" by D'Angelo
"My Girl" and "Just Friends" by Musiq (Soulchild)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sticky icky icky.

I'll now take this opportunity to introduce myself. Formally, I'm Drew. I'm a friend and colleague of fellow J-school cellar dwellers Thomas and George. I'm looking forward to contributing by keeping worthwhile dialogue with those who share some of our same tastes. And hecklers.

Informally, I'm a jerk. I've assumed the traveling life with my current gig and don't have the time to obsess over the latest releases, e.p.'s, mp3's, and cee deez. I'm hoping to dispatch a bit from the road as I travel, reviewing some shows, reporting on different rock and roll towns and waxing stupid poetic about what John Cougar really means to America. That being said, I'm not going to be much of a hype machine.

Yesterday, I bought "Icky Thump" by the White Stripes. Honestly, I haven't listened enough to stamp a solid review upon it. So far, it seems right on target, sure to be another classic from the Stripes' canon.

The only thing I can conclude thus far is that Meg White has the best job in music. Perhaps the world.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Three cheers for the new members of team hearsoundswrite...

I'd like to officially welcome my good friends Thomas and Drew on board. Between the two of them, I've been introduced to some of the filthiest music this side of the used bin. These guys boast an ear for sweet sounds, and can both write circles around my long-winded ass. Suffice to say, they'll be invaluable assets to this blog's well-being. So thanks in advance guys, looking forward to it. Cheers.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

New Music Review: End of History by Fionn Regan

End of History
Fionn Regan

Release Date: July 10, 2007

"Have you heard of Joe McStrumsalot? He's so good...seriously. Get his CD, he's, like, the real deal. He's gonna be the next big thing, there's no doubt!"

Yeah. Sure.

Singer-songwriters. A dime-a-dozen, am I right? Hell, I'm a singer-songwriter. You probably are too. And we've all been to a coffee shop when there's some toolbag playing "Fire and Rain", and you can't have a conversation because his vocals are way the fuck too loud and you just wish you could go all John Belushi on his $600 Ibanez. (See, I play a Taylor so I'm exempt from this scenario...)

It's these guys that make it so hard for me to glom onto singer-songwriters. Obviously you have exceptions, guys that set themselves apart via indisputable talent such as legends like Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, and Tom Waits, or more contemporary acts like Elliott Smith, Ryan Adams, Sam Beam, etc. But for the most part, I'd rather teabag a jet engine than spend 15 bucks on the next Dylan.

No word on whether Fionn Regan will be the next Dylan. But based on his excellent debut album End of History (available in the UK, out July 10 in the US) he may catch the ear of many, even those such as myself whose thirst for singer-songwriters has been long-slaked.

I must first establish that Fionn Regan is not Damien Rice, despite his equally marketable name and similarly smooth and timid Irish delivery. In Fionn Regan's songs lie something deeper than the swoon-inducing lyrical swells that have come to define Damien Rice; i.e. the "I can't take my eyes of you" repetition that landed "Blower's Daughter" on "Why I Hate/Love My (Ex-)BF(F)" mixes of nineteen-year-olds throughout upper-middle class America. Fionn doesn't rely on that sort of thing. His songs are meek and barebones, not dripping with syrupy strings; they stand on their own with an understated power that would be lessened by excessive texturing. Take "Underwood Typerwriter," a rag-time, Elliott Smith-esque fingerpicking progression that carries the vocal melody along. It's scarcely more than Fionn's voice and guitar, but the pensive, nervous feel of the song resounds.

What a strong start the album boasts, with the first seven tracks bounding around the snowy Irish countryside, all simple tunes that don't try to become anything more from quiet songs from a young man to a young girl. Not over-serious, but still relevant. "Hey Rabbit" and "Black Water Child" are sister songs, so-to-speak, the former being a 3/4 lope that ends abruptly with the faintly spiteful line "I made you rich/and you made me poor." "Black Water Child" snatches the baton and sprints along, a fulfilling catharsis that delivers the message its ambivalent predecessor was insinuating.

Unfortunately, the album droops a bit towards the end, featuring a trio of ghostly crowd-killers, drenched with the kind of melodramatic reverb that was absent in the first half-dozen (or so) tracks, which made them so charming. However, with the album closer "Bunker or Basement", Fionn returns to form. It's a fluttery tune seemingly about a familial black sheep, featuring a plinky piano that tip-toes over a rapidly half-strummed acoustic.

And then there're, like, two hidden tracks. But you gotta believe me, he's not Damien Rice.

A pretty album that has renewed my faith in singer-songwriters. The bias I've developed over the past few years puts the burden on the songwriter, but Fionn overcame. If you're a fan of Dylan, Nick Drake, early Ryan Adams, or Damien Rice's O, you'll appreciate what Mr. Regan has going on.

Standout Tracks:
Underwood Typewriter; Hey Rabbit; Black Water Child

Good For:
Provoking introspection; background music for a makeout sesh with an English major

Buy It:
If not upon release, would be a great late fall/winter album.

Don't really know to be honest. Got a promo copy from Lost Highway. But the UK cover is what you see above. I'm guessing it will be different when it comes out.


*(On a scale of 5)

Saturday, June 2, 2007


I recently listened to a track from Ryan Adams' upcoming album Easy Tiger. It's entitled Halloween Head, and it's pretty cool. A little on the goofy side, it will definitely serve as a pouncing point for critics with a distaste for the talented troubadour.

During the song, we hear Ryan call out "Guitar solo!" prior to a nifty little--well, you get the idea. This is a time honored tradition in rock music. Check out my three favorite Shred-troductions.

"Cici, pick up that guitar to me! --Poison, "Talk Dirty To Me"

This is the only thing that could have made a corny-ass hair metal song even cornier-ass. But if the song has already been going a few minutes, couldn't it be assumed that CiCi DeVille was already holding his axe?

"That's alright, I still got my guitar, look out now!" --Jimi Hendrix, "Red House"

This one is total badd-assitude to the max. Hendrix was such a god of cool that he could have done this whenever he wanted, although it probably would have devalued "Little Wing" if he'd done it there. "Take anything you want from me, anything! How about this here solo, look out now!"

"Now guitar, go get her!" --Kings of Leon, "Black Thumbnail"

This is a new one, from the Kings' most recent effort. "Thumbnail" is the best song on the album (so I think) and Caleb Followill's shred-troduction is the icing on the cake. Keep in mind he pronounces it "Now guitah, go get hah!

So there you have it. Of course, there are hundreds more. Shred-troductions have become as much a part of rock as the wah-wah or the heroin O.D. And why not? It's what rock is built around: Corny antics that are hailed as cool because guitars are involved. Just remember this formula:

Corny antics + Electric Guitars = Sickeningly awesome

Friday, June 1, 2007

New Music Review: Baby 81 by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Baby 81
by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Released May 1, 2007 on RCA

Having only embraced quality new music within the past half-decade or so, I'm now enjoying the phenomenon of anticipating new releases with increasing frequency. One of my most anticipated in recent memory was BRMC's follow-up to 2006's Howl, a beautifully folk-rockin' disc featuring nary a throwaway and at least half-a-dozen jewels.

But, there are two sides to anticipation. There is that satisfaction of fulfillment, and there is the emptiness of disappointment. Alas, Baby 81 falls into the latter category.

It's not awful. But it's not great. It's not a stand-out record, that's for sure. It's a collection of (mostly) clunky rock tunes that are less distinguishable than a dozen SUVs in a row of parking spaces. The lyricism, which was one of Howl's strongest aspects, seems secondary to the gritty guitars and overwhelming drums. I still think BRMC boasts two of the best voices in rock, with Robert Levon Been and (my preference) Peter Hayes manning the mic stand. But Baby 81's lyrics are lazy and seem meaningless. In the forgettable opener "Took Out A Loan," Hayes growls "I think I thought I heard you love me, I think you thought you heard I loved." I think they thought none too hard about those lines...

The songs are generally reliant on a single repeated line, such as the strong single "Weapon of Choice," featuring the choral repeat of "I won't waste it". "Windows" is a song that would have been much stronger had it been given the Howl treatment. But rather than a minimal arrangement relying heavily on piano and nicely layered acoustic instruments, an annoying reverb-laden lead guitar flitters along throughout, adding a chaos the song could have done without. Been's vocals are actually pretty catchy, but the guitar overwhelms.

"Cold Wind" is pure mindless rock--which is at times what everyone needs, I suppose. Then comes the fairly syrupy "Not What You Wanted", which features some very elementary backtracked guitar, the kind of gimmicky garbage that makes you clamor for Hendrix's "Castles Made of Sand," which is how it's supposed to be done.

"666 Conducer" is another forgettable heaving rock trudge, the kind of song that complements the frustration of being stuck in traffic on a sticky, sweltering day. On the other hand, "All You Do Is Talk" is a pretty song that should have started the record. The ethereal drone of the organs evoke a "Where The Streets Have No Name" vibe. It's an uplifting tune that's been written a hundred times over by as many bands, but its clearly a stand-out on the record.

But after that brief respite, its back to the mindless stuff with "Lien On Your Dreams." Nothing like some real-estate jargon to lend some extra weight to a rock track, am I right or am I right? "Need Some Air" is--wait for it--more masturbatory rock that's about as memorable as a throaty belch.

Skip ahead to "American X", which clocks in at a ridiculous 9:10. Now, my first musical love was Led Zeppelin, so I'm not averse to epics. But this is the kind of needless length that likely resulted from one of the band members saying "You know...we really need a 9 minute song." This is the bathroom-break song at the show, know what I mean?

After "American X" makes its final swirl down the toilet bowl, the album closer "Am I Only" begins promisingly, with the kind of quick acoustic strums that made Howl what it is. But apparently the guy from Five For Fighting ghostwrote the lyrics for the song, which is chock full of cliched rhymes and pop diarrhea:

"Nothing seems to show/The feelings come and go/And everything's so strange/The people never change."

These are the same guys who wrote "Devil's Waitin'"? What the fuck!?

Synopsis: All told, the album isn't quite as bad as I'm making it out to be. Sure, it's mostly comprised of gooey blobs of rock, but some inspired flotsam is bobbing within. It's the kind of disc that I'll spin every once in a while, after I've binged on the Flaming Lips or Radiohead or Beethoven. Or hell, even Howl. Only then will I turn to the mindless (there's that word again!) rockfoolery that is Baby 81. Well, maybe also when I'm stuck in a traffic jam.

Standout Tracks: All You Do Is Talk; Weapon of Choice

Good For: Lively yet noninvasive background music at a party.

Buy It: Used, if you have a few bucks to spare. Who knows, you might be able to trade it in for a few bucks off the next BRMC album.

Packaging: Quite good actually. A nice sleeve (the cover you see above is on the sleeve) over the case itself, which features a somewhat chaotic black and white collage. The liner notes feature a picture spread for each member but, conveniently, no lyrics.


*On a scale of 5 Stars