Do you have eclectic tastes? Its going to cost you. If you stick to one genre theres less to buy. Heck, the latest electronica hype probably breaks your genre down to one band, say Plautmas, playing drill and tuba. If your fancies do range wider, however, youre in for an investment. Best to buy it on the cheap. The bargain bin also slows down your buying addiction. You can always buy a whole catalogue, but the bin asks for the old records to ripen and drop.
The Starlight Mints
Well, from the title you know these guys are clever, and yes, they are far too clever. The truly beautiful string arrangement that opens the album is followed by Allen Vests smart alecky voice, one thats pretty easy to dislike. I think Stephen Malkmus inspired a lot of bad singers to affect a yawny detachment. The only thing is, Malkmus can sing. And even if he has nothing to say, he says it well. This guy probably gets told all the time he has great lyrics, but he doesnt. Its a masquerade, the mousecapade and the like keep pulling at the corners of smarmy, and though they dont plunge into smirking assness ala the Barenaked Ladies, fans of such skimpy joys are the target audience.
What the band does have in barrelfuls are hooks, riffs and melodies. The short poppy songs can get caught in the head, like them or not. Certainly, there are people out there just begging for this kind of music. Theyre probably XTC fans, who like clever lightweight songs about some subconscious nattering, with genuinely fine arranged strings and well placed guitar phrases. Blinded By You, betrays a listen to Bowies Major Tom. The Twilight Showdown dares to pull a very Pixies kind of key change with a sort of Joey Santiago surf guitar. The melodies, for the whole, are generally fresh, sounding more like the aforementioned XTC and those Elephant 6 bands without blatantly going for the Beatle-esque sound. Still, Starlight Mints break a cardinal law of such poppy, psychedelic, Britpop influenced bands: Thou Shalt Not Sing About Submarines. Submarine kicks off the album with that strike, as well as the first listen to Vests nasality.
Each song has its own selection of musical ideas, until one might
want to shout All right! I get it! Youre geniuses!
They go by pretty quickly, in a sugary melting way, which could fool
the careless, doped up and melody deprived listener. The Twilight
Showdowns probably the most memorable, though it leaves you remembering
characters like Prince Augustus and other such eccentrics.
Did I mention this band is quirky? The angular dissonance of the horns
on Margarita have nothing to do with experimentation and
everything to do with some snotty musical wonderkind going, thats
pretty, how can I make it goofy? Lobotomize yourselves, boys,
and become producers or something. Learn some pain, and unlearn everything
Instrumental music is always questionable. Music theory wankers, most of the time. Jazz heads and dreamers too lazy to spit out a fully formed song. Techno geeks with irritating sideburns and bushy nostril hair. Vegetarian soundtrackers. Losers who wont sing, have nothing to say, but want everyone to listen. Windless windbags worldessly expressing themselves through their instruments, through their music Talentless hacks with a dull axe to grind. I hate them. Some of them.
Trans Am sing a little, but its often German sounding nonsense or such distorted vocoder business that it doesnt count. No, this is instrumental music ranging from minimalist beat pulses through some Ubertechno to huge bombastic guitar instrumentals. Yet I do not hate them. They are just some guys having a good time with music, playing with their friends, but they do not bore.
Youre not locked in a studio, forced to appreciate musical expertise or alien landscapes of sonic hedgework. Youre trapped in a cave, lost in the dark. Theirs something in there with you, but you cants tell if its some large animal or an elaborate robot beast. Its eyes glow red. You can see faint ripples of red reflections along the stalgmitic ceiling. Theres lots of synthesizers playing, too.
Then its all guitars, with the songiest number, Play In The Summer. I'm Coming Down
is also pretty good in a moldering rock way. Theres so much instrumental filler, but you probably wont feel cheated. Most of the filler is pretty cool pools of stasis, and youll probably just be happy when one of the more straightforward rockers comes splashing through. I was sure Play In The Summer was the third or fourth song in, but its the seventh. Towards the end theres a number with lyrics from mAKE UPs Ian Svenonius. The guitar wankout session goes too long, but the way these guys bring all these styles back into that cave is impressive. Though it could have been lucky. Theres always a question with (Near) instrumental music. It would be interesting to see if they can make more Play In The Summer, and less filler. Maybe get a singer, or become a singer. Lose the vocoder and get a decoder, man. That doesnt mean anything, but some good vocals could really generate something cool, or it could break the very fragile spell Trans Am cast. This is good stuff for a Walkman; youll feel cool as you march along, and your walk will evolve.
So the latest story is James Brown called an electrician, answered the door carrying a knife and a suit, and said the suit means hes with the CIA and has a license to kill, then he gets scary. I dont believe it. The mans not on PCP, hes on Soul Power. Even if it is true, after all hes done for music, the man has a right to get a little crazy and kill an electrician or pizza delivery guy. Who hasnt come close?
This seems a weird record, conceptually. Its 1970. In the wake of his longtime bands dissolution, The Godfather puts together a new team, including a head-spinning introduction of the world to Bootsy Collins. Sex Machine is the current hit, though not the version on this album. He splices together live numbers from the old band and the new with material recorded live in the studio (His usual method anyway) and audience response dubbed in. Conceptually, its Frankenstein, delivery-wise its a great concert album, a worthy companion piece to the next years Revolution of the Mind.
I WANT TO DO MY THING!
The familiar demand is proclaimed, but just as the show begins, it seems like its going to fall apart. So ah let me move some things around here he mumbles, and let me do my thing. Can I really get into it?
The response that Eddie Murphy parodied many years later comes, obedient to a man.
Like a like a sex machine?
MOVIN IT? [Hes back.]
But of course theres more. His scream is at it brassiest, and
the music is perched dynamically on the cusp between his old soul and
the new funk. Please Please Please is transformed into a
jazzy outro. He free-associates, telling the story of a breakup through
the titles of his hits. Again it comes off as more than self-reference.
Brown really means this story, even when the titles contradict each
other. He doesnt have to make sense; he has soul power.
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