Music Reviews


Nirvana

Latest records: In Utero, Nevermind

Kurt Cobain was a guy who recognized The Pixies and conveyed their mirth mixed up with his unhappy demeanor. It can make you want to break things, but unlike The Pixies, you end up feeling pretty bad afterwards, because you realize the mirth stopped at some point and became empty resentment.


Yo La Tengo

Latest record: Painful

We like what they're doing. Guitar is expansive. Cowboy Junkies version of Spacemen 3 with a chick. Or a soft guy. "I Heard You Looking" is a good end and makes you like Pavement more. A carefully placed version of the Velvet Underground - an improvement. One should not talk about them like they are simply another band to lightheartedly assassinate over a few drinks, never getting down to what you actually think about the music. Their music is enjoyable, and it makes you think about music as a foreign art which is caught in the vast act of becoming less foreign.


Pavement

Latest records: Crooked Rain Crooked Rain, "Westing (by musket and sextant")

Hey Pavement! I don't know any of these guys. Being from Stockton is nearly enough to make Pavement enjoyable to hear. I don't know what they want from life, but they convey a very definite sense of mirth. They are good, drunken fellows. They are likable even without personal contact, because they make one happy as one's friends might. So you forgive them as one would forgive the drunken excesses of a friend, with affection, even liking their vice a little.


Frank Black

Latest records: Teenager of the Year, Frank Black

Frank Black's is the only contemporary music I know that is worthy of worship, making almost everyone else look like actors, lawyers and athletes. Dartmouth native Charles Thompson is an asshole for not telling us what he thought (or not thinking at all) of our first issue, America in Decline, having knowingly enjoyed our only featured advertisement and literary patronage. But Teenager of the Year is a work of unrivaled genius whose brilliance consumes all otherwise similar "alternative" music, the fictive authors of which often erect their arid souls on Frank's oily substrate without giving credit where credit is due, the most heinous of artistic crimes.

In short Frank Black is edifying, inspiring the truly free-spirited with an undefined vigor that makes the soul smile and laugh for no reason, with no object other than itself. I encourage you to seek out and attend the appearance of Frank Black in your city, likely to accompany the virtuous They Might be Giants. You really should buy Frank's new release of this band, better even than The Pixies, Teenager of the Year.


Elvis Costello

Latest records: Brutal Youth, The Juliet Letters

Mr. Macmanus is a brilliant fellow who exceeds all music critics, who broadly rejected The Juliet Letters for being pretentious, testimony to their populist aspirations. The Juliet Letters lets you get out of that mess of concern if you are willing. It makes one better able to enjoy German music. Compositionally, it is inspiring once you are trained to it. Brutal Youth is hard to comment on. While stunningly virtuous in this case, autobiography is an awkward business, particularly by a man I'm not sure I like.


American Music Club

Latest records: San Francisco, Mercury, Everclear, California, Engine, The Restless Stranger

Mark Eitzel vacillates between a new man and an old hag. The first time I saw him at The Great American Music Hall it was like seeing lost humanity manifested in Any Man. Nonfictional, he cried at us, conveying actual pain. I had paid $5 to see a man show his pain. We were devastated by it, those who could sustain it at all, splitting the crowd between the devastated and the ignoble. While this was clear as it happened, I was overcome with the realization that I was watching him, enacting the very detached mentality he exceeded heroically. So it is to behold American Music Club at work. Godlike, Eitzel usually forgives your failure to respond adequately to him, resolving the tension by encouraging a good natured humor that the audience accepts thankfully. Having achieved this as a Band, American Music Club is better than anyone except Frank Black. Greater popularity was expected after AMC received Rolling Stone's "Best New Songwriter" award for Mercury. But little followed: maybe more money, so they no longer have to work like the rest of us. Always complaining about dishwashing jobs, as if this work were inessential to their validity.


Unrest

Latest Records: Imperial, Perfect Teeth, Isabel

When you listen to Unrest you hear a group of people who could be your neighbors, who are intelligent and free. Like P.J. Harvey, they are not easily compared with any other entity. They sing about ecstatic love and dying of cancer. Their range is that powerful, and they do it well. They are one of the best bands to play while driving through Manhattan, but the music also agrees with Nebraska and the Dakotas.


Henry Rollins Band

Weight

I don't entirely understand Henry Rollins. His band is pretty good. He's kind of like a secular fundamentalist preacher who speaks directly to you, intrusively, but striking you effectively as right. He talks to young males, which few do today except Louis Farrakhan. Rollins' weakness is that he occasionally resorts to artistic methods, appearing as a performer rather than as a man.


Sugar

File Under Easy Listening

I don't like Bob Mould, because he is mean. To hear him is to suffer the cool, empty rancor of a cynically adjusted, disoriented younger misanthrope; you may grovel, commiserate, or unplug.


Cher U.K.

A Weird Little Snack

These Kansas citizens are congenial backstage. Their music can irritate due to its incessant and unrelieved anger. Their quality suffers from the singer's inability to sing out of his too-narrow throat. But you are glad they are from Kansas City, and that bands travel from city to city even if they don't have much money.


Counting Crows

Like the Black Crowes and Michael Bolton, Counting Crowes are recycled, latest to exemplify the depravity of Fiction Fashion. This Bay Area band is a Mickey Mouse version of the American Music Club, presenting a hollow caricature of emotion which hosts Fiction Feeling among that portion of humanity which longs for authentic sentience, but, unable or unwilling to endure its hardships, sates itself mimetically on this saccharine pablum instead.


P.J. Harvey

Latest records: Four Track Demos, Rid of Me, Dry

P.J. Harvey is the most exciting female vocalist currently producing music. Apart from being a stunning rhythm guitarist with an incomparable rhythm section, she is publicly generous, revealing the extraordinarily private in the light of day and the darkness of night simultaneously. To hear her is to encounter visions of the most beautiful woman, one consumed by a passion for the actual; to be inspired to objectless violence, which is the highest achievement of this genre. In this lies her intense, sun-drenched English sexuality. There is no woman alive today we would rather take out to dinner, preferably in London or on the farm where she lives.


PURCHASE JOHN HENRY, AN EXPLOSIVE NEW RELEASE BY THE EXPANSIVE THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS.


Beck

Latest record: Mellow Gold

Why they put a Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics on this record is pathetic or beyond me. I don't really know why people like this so much, actually. It reminds me of dipshit comedian Pauly Shore, and the implication of this disturbs me. It is dancey in moments, but only anthropologically, as if I were someone else. It protrudes garbage, alluring garbage, like Tom Waits. It loosens you in this way, which is nice sometimes. Beck is like pornographic Walt Disney or Paul McCartney, or might be called a castrated Tom Waits. On the other hand, sometimes the music breaks apart in a flooring way. "Mutherfu_er" is a riot. By his appearance the individual Beck is young. Who knows, maybe he is a genius, maybe an idiot.


Smashing Pumpkins

Latest record: Siamese Dream

Smashing Pumpkins are boring. Their success may be attributed to the same source as bands like Bon Jovi or Michael Bolton, who represent everything that is wrong about America. They are a bleached version of something that is great, like Frank Black, some new source. So lazy people can identify with it. The guitarist does Black Sabbath pretty well, and the singer is kind of cute, like what everyone wanted Black Francis of The Pixies to be. They piss me off, that there are so many idiots out there who drive the market with their wilted desire for little pissy shit-can fairy tales like this.


Ween

Latest records: Pure Guava, The Pod, God Ween Satan

Ween mocks genre. "Birthday Boy" is a painfully honest love song twisted in feedback; unlike Michael Bolton, it is real. "El Camino" pays tribute to Spyro Gyra by mocking the crappy cars we all thought were cool in the '70s. "Pork roll egg and cheese" is Supertramp stoned, pining for a sandwich. Finally, "Don't Get Too Close to my Fantasy" kisses Freddie Mercury on the cheek, and genuinely says "Thank You."

-"Right Geen?"

-"So right!"


Velocity Girl

Latest record: Copacetic

I am glad that Velocity Girl exists. Pixine happiness, guitars often like Bloody Valentine. Chick tracks sound like Fleetwood Mac. Too much like My Bloody Valentine without adding anything to it or diversifying its potency. But it is nice that she can sing the way she sings - like the bones in a girl's ear - with an expansive, muscular sound consuming her.


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