Five-Minute Record Reviews! Our Best Edition Yet! The Offspring, Maroon 5, Kenny G, Flaming Lips and MORE!

What are Five-Minute Record Reviews, you ask?  Why, they're tiny little stabs in the dark, if you will.  We roll a doobie and not only listen to a new album in five minutes, but also write the review.  What you get is our first impression of a bunch of new releases, and you know what they say about first impressions, right?  Yeah, me neither.

The Offspring - Days Go By

If you're like me, you haven't bought an Offspring record since 1994.  Very soon after that, the band became a major label parody of itself that, for some odd reason, feels compelled to keep making new albums.

"No, I'm not gonna go away,
I've got something more to say."

Well, there's our answer, I guess, straight from "Secrets Of The Underground", the second cut on the band's sixth album since we stopped caring.  At this point, I'm thinking that the band seems to have fallen into formula, with Dexter Holland's vocals autotuned and Pro Tool'ed to the hilt.

Then the title cut rams its fist through the door that is my interest waning and makes me believe in rock & roll for at least three minutes.  At this point, I'm wondering who produced an album trying to sound this monolithic.  Sure enough, it was produced by Bob Rock.

Maroon 5 - Overexposure

There's nothing worse than seeing a band trying to look like they're having fun for as long as the camera is rolling, only to collapse in exhaustion when the director yells "Cut!"  That's the vibe this album gives me: from the cover art to the faceless performances that come ten years after the M5 juggernaut began gathering steam from the ashes of Kara's Flowers.

Since then, one M5 album after another has slid into same-y territory and the band always looks like they're a bit winded from trying to keep up with the younger kids running laps around them.

This one is no different, really, just all the latest and greatest studio bells and whistles that render Adam Levin's already-autotuned-sounding vocals unrecognizable at times.  The songs - well, they sound like tunes the band wrote for Justin Bieber, but the Beebster never got back to them.

In six months, all the sounds on this album will be obsolete and/or reduced to Sonic Wallpaper, used in Wheat Thins commercials.

The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends

The Lips are the one band that has literally gotten away with murder too many times to count, all at the expense of major label behemoth Warner Brothers, though, so it was hard to take the band to task.  Anybody that could get the WB to pay for a 4-CD album that requires four separate CD players to be played in unison to hear the album in its entirety can't be all bad, right?

And then I saw an L.A. Red Hot Chili Peppers show a quite emphatic indifference to Wayne Coyne's in-your-face carnival barker naivete.  Every attempt to connect with the audience, especially the one where Coyne floats atop the audience in a large hamster ball bubble.  The RHCP faithful wanted no part of it.  They didn't do what I thought they'd do and just let Coyne crash to the floor.  Instead, they held the singer atop their heads with great gusto.  I think it even surprised Wayne, just before the ball was thrust in the direction of the nearest exit.  Wayne had to triple his pace to break their momentum and make it back to the stage.

I guess what I'm saying is that you either dig the Lips, or find them ridiculous.  There is no middle ground.  This album, which sees the band collaborate with everyone from Ke$ha to Bon Iver to Nick Cave and Jim James (My Morning Jacket), is an overly ambitious attempt to go even further "out there" and, with a little help from their "fwends", declare themselves the first arena rock band from Mars.

Blues Traveler - Suzie Cracks The Whip

I admit that the new Blues Traveler album cover got my attention - so much so that I was compelled to check out an actual BT album.  Upon hearing the opening cut and first single, "You Don't Have To Love Me", all I could think was how tired I'll be of this song when Kenny Chesney or some lightweight kick-in-the-nads-to-country act gets a hold of it.

Thing is, the whole album sounds this way, as if the band wrote it for Dierks Bentley and, well, he never got back to them (I'm sensing a theme here).  While I never dug their original jam band vibe, not since The Ramones did away with their leather jackets to try and get a hit have I been so saddened to see a band part with all that makes them special in hopes of regaining their peak popularity from two decades ago.

Kenny G and Rahul Sharma - Namaste

I think Kenny G continues to put out new records just to thumb his nose at those of us that use him as the butt of many jokes.  When we heard of a band called "The Dead Kenny G's", we howled with delight.  But look at that album cover.  See that smirk on Kenny G's face?  That's a look that says, "While you were laughing at my expense, I just bought another Ferrari to park out in front of one of my six houses."

He's right, the bastard.

Fuck, if making fun of him only makes him stronger (and richer), how can we stop him?  We tried embracing him back in the 80s, hoping he'd notice it was a hug goodbye, not hello, and he just wouldn't go away.  In recent years, he has become a fixture on the holiday shopping season, releasing new albums just in time to become unwanted gifts.  Thankfully, he only does so once every two years.

This new Kenny G record sees him collobarate with Rahul Sharma, but the album still ends up sounding like you could slip it into the packaging of any previous Kenny G record and the consumer wouldn't know the difference.  It is as if he sucked up Sharma's soul, regurgitated it as something we all think we've heard before, which we have.

Mindy Smith - Mindy Smith

If you haven't heard of Mindy Smith, then you need to check her out if you're one of those who fancy a good old-fashioned "sanger" that can wrap pretty bows around the most infectious melodies, a la Dolly Parton circa "Jolene".

In a perfect world, she'd be as big as Lady Gaga and the Gaga would be relegated to "why isn't she huge?" cult status.  On her fifth studio album (if you count her holiday record), Smith just continues to lock into that hazily dirty groove she's been mining since she scored with "Come To Jesus" a decade ago.

If anything, this record tends to play it a little too safe, like a new Sheryl Crow record meant to be listened to whilst breast-feeding or nursing a toddler with teething pains.

Ty Segall - Slaughterhouse

We're all peppered with so much new music that it's easy to feel like we've heard it all, seen it all, and will never feel that orgasmic headrush that used to come anytime you discovered a band that you knew you would love for the rest of your life.

That's why it's great that albums like "Slaughterhouse" exist .. to remind us that we're not dead inside and that, even from the most simple ingredients, art of great intensity can be brought to life before our very ears.

Everything about this album - from the cover art to the production to the megaphone vocals - is iconic, bigger than life, almost otherworldly.  It's an album that you could see an alien making after our fifty years rock & roll shows reach his planet and give birth to rock & roll on Mars (I'm sensing another theme here).

This isn't the birth of a legend so much as a re-birth of a legend in hopes that the world will eventually be yanked from its Xbox coma and give a shit.

RIYL: The Fleshtones, Jack White, White Stripes, Flat Duo Jets, Alabama Shakes, et al.

Dalis Car - InGladAloneness

It was a bit of a wait for a second album after Peter Murphy (Bauhaus) and Mick Karn (bassist for Japan) released the seminal "The Waking Hour" in 1984.

Sadly, this album was recorded just before Karn's passing in 2011, the bassist knowing he had only months to live.  White it does tend to add a certain weight to his playing, this is a heavy album of dreams both fulfilled and forgotten until now.  Listen and be thankful such uniquely inspired music exists.

Ultravox - Brilliant (released June 5, but we just got around to listening, sorry)

Let's face it, most 80's reunions these days are little more than harsh reminders that time catches up to us all, but the return of the classic pop-era U-vox line-up (Midge Ure, Billy Currie, Chris Cross and Warren Cann).

Amazingly, they create an album that could very well have been the follow-up to the classic "Lament" album that cemented their fame in the UK and Europe.  It bristles with the same intensity and doesn't go out of its way to sound modern at all, bless its retro heart.  Then it dawns on me, this is what Pink Floyd would sound like if they'd formed amid the UK punk explosion of the '70s, but taken nothing from it.

If you've lost faith in most of your heroes and need a reason to believe that there are at least four other kindred souls still reaching for new heights, you owe it to yourself to buy this album.  It will inspire you.  Seriously.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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