Skip to main content

Boys' Rock

The fall is already treating us really well, with these three releases making especially strong showings on my various music conveyance devices. All are surprising in their own unique ways.

189. Elbow: The Seldom-Seen Kid (2008)

It only took 18 years, but Elbow finally got my attention with this amazing album. The sound is big and majestic; the lyrics are up-close and personal. Singer Guy Garvey has a rough, accented voice that contrasts well with his band's polished sound, and the album is expertly sequenced.

Personal favorites include a lovely, swooning ballad called Mirrorball, the oblique and swampy Grounds For Divorce, and the joyous love song One Day Like This.

No offense to Coldplay, but this is what the meandering Viva La Vida should have sounded like. It's bound to be on a lot of best-of-the-year lists, if that kind of thing matters to you. Grade: A Fave Song: Mirrorball

190. The Broken West: Now or Heaven (2008)

ARTISTIC LEAPS are always tricky. Go too far and you risk alienating the fans you've garnered thus far (see the next review). But California's The Broken West did it right (and fast), not so much abandoning the buzzy power pop of last year's debut I Can't Go On, I'll Go On, as isolating what worked and expanding upon it.

As happens, it seems heartache led to inspiration, as several excellent songs wallow in pain (the bitter, piano-driven House of Lies, the desperate Auctioneer, and the lighter-waving Embassy Row, among many others) amid one ray of hope (the shimmery, propulsive Perfect Games). The melodies are catchy but unpredictable and the album flies by, only to beg to be played again. Grade: A Fave Song: The Smartest Man Alive

191. Kings of Leon: Only By The Night (2008)

Speaking of ARTISTIC LEAPS...

The southern boogie of Kings of Leon never really connected with me. Their first album came and went from my collection. I must admit, I never thought to wonder how I would feel if they started sounding less like The Black Crowes and more like U2, but now I don't have to.

Some fans are not so happy, crying the familiar, "They've sold out." I'm not completely unsympathetic; had I been a big fan of their earlier sound, I might have felt the loss of it. But with no such bias, the anthemic, atmospheric mood of this album suits me just fine.

The high point comes early with the staggering one-two punch of Sex On Fire and Use Somebody, but the family band land some other heavy hits with the groovy opener Closer, the dreamy Manhattan, and the sensuous I Want You. Throughout, the songs and performances are lived-in and passionate. If Kings of Leon stay on this evolutionary path, I'll be right behind them. Grade: A- Fave Song: Sex On Fire


Popular posts from this blog

Why Weezer is the Definitive Gen X Band

I’ve been thinkin’ ‘bout my g-g-g-generation.   One of the more fascinating side effects of the ever-intensifying culture wars is the emergence of generational mud-slinging battle between Baby Boomers and Millennials. Social media has played the role of both venue and promoter, and news outlets have done their best to cheer it on. As a member of the cohort that's situated between the two factions - Generation X - and thus removed from the fray, I've regarded this as an amusing sideshow in the never-ending circus of nauseating Internet discourse. The most illuminating part to me is how the conflict, and various reports about it, consistently omits the existence the generation between these two, and how very appropriate that is.   Now I'll start with the disclaimer that I'm well aware that no group of people is homogeneous. Generation X encompasses many different personality types, cultural experiences, economic realities, and a possible 15-year age difference (Gen Xers

20 From 2020

Every year since 2003 (coincidentally, the year I started this blog), I've made a compilation of some of my favorite songs of the year. I love the act of compiling and ordering, finding songs that speak to one another lyrically and that flow together seamlessly.  In order for the mixes to have longevity, I've typically avoided choosing too many songs that lyrically reflect the events of the year. That's gotten harder every year since 2016, and I was initially worried 2020 was going to be the tipping point. This year's mix might have looked a lot different if the presidential election had gone the other way. It would have certainly been more angry and despairing, and would have included such topical songs as Ben Folds's "2020," Ben Gibbard's "Proxima B," and Sloan's "Silence Trumps Lies." All good tunes, but I'm not sure how much I'll want to revisit them. Thankfully, instead, we have a mix with a variety of moods and cov

12 More by Jimmy Eat World

Sometimes an artist just needs 12  more  songs to summarize their career. Case in point... Sometimes your favorite band sneaks up on you. I'd been a Jimmy Eat World fan since the late 1990s, and have never missed one of their albums. But they didn't become my favorite band until a 2013 concert at First Avenue, where I found myself singing along with every single song by heart. It was then that I realized that for every phase of my adult life, Jimmy Eat World has been there to soundtrack it. You'll definitely want to check out the  12 by Jimmy Eat World  list to relive the first part of their career. 1. "Big Casino" (from Chase This Light , 2007) A highly caffeinated tune that contains one of my top ten all-time Jimmy Eat World lyrics: "Well there's lots of smart ideas in books I've never read / When the girls come talk to me I wish to hell I had." 2. "Always Be" (from  Chase This Light , 2007) Chase This Light came out when I was 30 yea