1. I have recently discovered The Avalanches. If you enjoy goofball hip-hop with a wide range of samples and influences, then I highly recommend their album, Since I Left You. If you’re interested in sampling the Avalanches, “Frontier Psychiatrist,” one of the album’s grand highlights (with something in the area of 50 vocal samplings), exists as a highly inventive music video that truly needs to be experienced. Strangely enough, these folks originate in Australia of all places.
2. I’ve loved Weller from the Jam onwards, but Paul Weller should probably not be experienced live. He is (or, at least, at the Warfield, he was) an extremely bitter performer with a generic-sounding blues band who showed remarkable contempt towards an audience that demanded that he perform Jam and Style Council songs. Let’s put it this way. He smoked two cigarettes on stage just before performing “That’s Entertainment,” did a lifeless cover a full stop below the recording, and then threw his guitar down at the end. I don’t blame a performer for getting annoyed when they perform their back catalog. But Weller could have easily reinvented the song and found a way to love it, the way he reinvented “English Rose” for his “unplugged” album, Days of Speed, and actually enjoyed himself in the process.
3. M. Ward (who I saw not too long ago with the magnificent Tito Perez) puts on a nice no-frills show, but I’m not sure if I like his baseball caps. Then again, I have a problem in general with baseball caps. So I’m sure it’s just me.
4. Elbow, the Manchester band that sounds dangerously like Coldplay but thankthegoodlord is not Coldplay, has a new album out called Leaders of the Free World. Alas, like the BRMC’s recent move towards undistinctive acoustic blues, this new album represents an unfortunate shift from the nuanced inventiveness of Cast of Thousands into the unfortunate territory of Travis/Coldplay clones. Do we really need any more? Even Guy Garvey’s voice suddenly sounds like Chris Martin’s. And the lyrics have shifted away from riffs on “sex toys” and are now more straightforward whinings about lost love. A shame.
5. Rick Moody wonders if rock ‘n roll is still for him at the age of 44. The real question is whether such a question can be answered when he genuinely believes that “the new Rolling Stones song has some pep.” But I’m sure he meant to write that the new Rolling Stones has one reaching for Pepto-Bismol.
6. And while I haven’t yet heard it, the new Paul McCartney album, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, is of interest because McCartney, in an effort to try something different, enlisted Nigel Godrich (producer of OK Computer) to produce this album. While Mick and Keith have demonstrated time and time again that they are incapable of growing old gracefully, it’s interesting to see rock icons attempt reinvention when they’re financially solvent.