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Showing posts from July, 2007

151. Rooney: Calling The World (2007)

It's safe to assume that the Schwartzman household had a pretty good record collection, including - but not limited to - Cheap Trick, The Raspberries, E.L.O. and early Elvis Costello and the Attractions. Rooney frontman Robert Schwartzman's songwriting owes a huge debt to these power pop powerhouses. So did the sound and sensibility of his brother Jason's old band, Phantom Planet. The cover art for Calling The World even looks like a Badfinger album.

Rooney's first record was a keeper. It was one of those CDs I kept trying to leave off my end-of-the-year top ten but just couldn't. On first blush, Calling The World is even better, more varied, layered and mature. And it better be! Word has it that the band recorded TWO albums between their debut and Calling The World, and weren't happy with either. Only three songs survived from the two interim albums.

As a result, Rooney sound much more seasoned than any band on its sophomore record has any business sound…

150. The Bacon Brothers: Getting There (1999)

Writer's Note: This was the second album review I ever wrote. I composed it at work one February day to amuse myself and my friend Shalini, who found the record for cheap and loaned it to me.

The Bacon Brothers' 1999 album Getting There is further proof that entertainment crossovers are just a bad idea. Just as Britney Spears' acting failed to redefine cinema as we know it, no one should expect much from a musical project by Hanes pitchman Kevin Bacon.

Surprisingly, this is actually the second effort from the band (which is filled out by bassist Paul Guzzone, drummer Marshal Rosenberg and Kevin's brother Michael). Lest you think this just the whim of a bored star, consider that Kevin himself wrote or co-wrote 9 of the 15 songs on this album. He appears to be at least as serious about being a rock star as Keanu, Jared, Minnie, Juliette or Russell.

The album isn't unlistenable, but it isn't good either. The opener Ten Years In Mexico has a pleasant James Taylor…

149. Wilco: Summerteeth (1999)

Writer's Note: This was the second album review I ever wrote. It appeared in the Augustana Observer on March 26, 1999.

Wilco is one of those rare prolific bands that never seems to run out of quality material. From 1995 to 1999 the band released the equivalent of a record per year and always managed to show up on critics' end-of-the-year lists.

Wilco rose from the ashes of country rock darlings Uncle Tupelo. The group's two songwriters started rival bands, Jay Farrar formed Son Volt, Jeff Tweedy (and drummer Ken Croomer) formed Wilco. Both bands continued the roots rock sound of their former group, with a bit of twang and a debt owed to Neil Young.

Summerteeth, Wilco's fourth album, found the band sneaking away from the genre that defined them, showing barely a hint of twang. Instead of Hank Williams, it seems Tweedy was listening to the Beach Boys. The band still made singable songs with lyrics that are sweet ("When I forget how to talk I sing") and sca…