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Monday, August 21, 2006

The Panic Channel "(ONe)"

What kind of rule is it that every supergroup, regardless of how innovative their original bands are, has to put out the most unoriginal schlock imaginable?

Following in the proud, safe tradition of chart toppers by Audioslave and Velvet Revolver, I present to you the Panic Channel. (ONe) sounds like the birthchild of the filler songs by both previously mentioned bands. Listening to this disc leaves no doubt in your mind as to who the musical mind was in Jane's Addiction.

Among the many, many problems the album has, perhaps the worst is lead vocalist Steve Isaacs. Isaacs, a former MTV VJ, has the vocal intensity of Chad Kroeger's less talented brother. Seeing as how Dave Navarro is a host for the CBS prime time show Rock Star, it's perhaps only fitting that the singer chosen for this band sounds like he came off a reality show.

"Win a chance to front Jane's Addiction, only without the heart, soul, or innovation!"

What a waste of talent.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Damnwells "Air Stereo"

Before getting recommended to this album, I had never heard of the Damnwells. After listening to Air Stereo, I wondered why.

Air Stereo is a damn good album. It's very likely the best alt-country album that you'll hear this year. The musicianship, whether it's electric or acoustic guitars, pianos, wind instruments, just seems to work.

Sounding more like a solo Tom Petty album than another Wilco tribute band, the album works by doing the little things right. Although it's poppier than many of it's predacessors, rather than giving the album an overproduced, over polished look, it just adds to what's already there.

It's an extremely delicate balance, and the Damnwells skate that line fearlessly. The only place they seem to cross the line is on the final track, God Bless America, where they get a little TOO self-indulgent.

Looking into the band, I saw they've toured with Cheap Trick. And in a lot of senses, that's what the album sounds like, if Cheap Trick heard too much Whiskeytown and decided to make their own version.

Fortunately, it works incredibly well for one of the best albums of the year.

A Change of Pace "Prepare the Masses"

A Change of Pace's Prepare the Masses feels like one of the most incredibly manufactured discs I've ever heard. With a sound that might remind you of a heavier mallpunk band, such as Fall Out Boy or Motion City Soundtrack, and lyrics that on the political songs are like a bad grass roots anti war movement(with "controversial" titles such as "How to Rape a Country"), and on the love songs just seem incredibly mundane.

You listen to the album, and start to wonder... "is this a joke? a parody?" But as you get through, you realize something. This is produced in an extremely slick package. You'll be humming along with the stuff, not even realizing it. As a pop album, even with the attempts to be cutting edge, it works incredibly well, especially on the electronic tinged "I'm Alive", the drum-heavy sexy "War in Your Bedroom", and quite possibly the strongest song on the album "I Wanna Be Your Rock-n-Roll", and it hits you.

It's an incredibly fun listen. It's short, clocking in at 42 minutes, but at the length it's at, it just works. And that's what I'd say about the album as a whole. It's got many, many flaws. It borders on mundane lyrically, the musicianship doesn't feel anything special, and the sound is extremely manufactured, but as you listen to this, you can't help but like it. So with that in mind, even though my brain is telling me to tell you to ignore this album, my gut is telling you to give it a listen and enjoy it... just don't expect anything revolutionary.

2006 as it stands right now.

I'm still listening to a LOT, but if all of my music was removed, and I couldn't get any more discs at all, this is what I'd say my Top 25 for the year 2006 was.

1. Blue October Foiled
2. Regina Spektor Begin to Hope
3. Rhymefest Blue Collar
4. The Sounds Dying to Say this to You
5. Ghostface Fishscale
6. Bubba Sparxxx The Charm
7. Gnarls Barkley St. Elsewhere
8. Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan Ballad of Broken Seas
9. Murs & 9th Wonder Murray's Revenge
10. Johnny Cash American V
11. Towers of London Blood, Sweat, and Towers
12. Tom Petty Highway Companion
13. Rebel Meets Rebel Rebel Meets Rebel
14. Butch Walker and the Lets Go Out Tonites The Rise and Fall of...
15. Under the Influence of Giants Under the Influence of Giants
16. Gin Blossoms Major Lodge Victory
17. Matisyahu Youth
18. Busta Rhymes The Big Bang
19. O.A.R. (of a Revolution) Stories of a Stranger
20. Rooster Circles and Satellites
22. Bruce Springsteen We Shall Overcome: The Seger Sessions
22. Eagles of Death Metal Death by Sexy
23. Roots Game Theory
24. Jack Johnson and Friends Sing a Longs and Lullabies from the film Curious George
25. Keane Under the Iron Sea

Some of it is not neccessarily a love of what's been released. The best stuff has been INCREDIBLY strong, but not every album on the list is GREAT to me.