Is this record worth a spin? Should I buy it? Will it add to or detract
from my credibility? Should I care?
I wish someone could break it down for me.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Duran Duran- Arena

Duran Duran was one of the first non-metal bands I got into as a budding teenager. My slow segue way  from Judas Priest, Icon, and Scorpions cut-off tees into Spandau Ballet leisure suits was abetted by my friend Mike. He indoctrinated me into the cult of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax" while conning me into believing I'd meet girls at a Wham concert in Philly, a show that saw them opening, AND closing, with "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go". But at Mike's house, the recurring soundtrack to our suburban malaise was always Duran Duran's Arena, a live record culled from their Sing Blue Silver tour after the release of their Seven and the Ragged Tiger album. Full of really weak vocals from Simon LeBon, ham-fisted riffs from Andy Taylor, and a hastily produced single, "Wild Boys", thrown into the middle of a live set?, it's clear that without the visual images of young attractive Brits to accompany flimsy ditties of unquenchable sex drive, the music loses its vitality. A few DD nuggets are included, "Is There Something I Should Know", "Hungry Like the Wolf", "Save A Prayer", but the exclusion of their hits "Rio", "Girls On Film", and "Reflex" is inexplicable ("Rio" and "Girls On Film" were included as part of the 2004 reissue). John Taylor, Duran Duran's other token pretty boy, is the most musically competent in the group, steadying the band with some fortified bass licks, and free-flowing locks. Arena is one for the vaults, meaning it should literally be sealed in a vault and forgotten about.

Buy this record if you're trying to make sense of your youthful transgressions.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fergus & Geronimo- Funky Was the State of Affairs

Pop regurgitators engage in pure self-indulgence on this new release. They've quickly segued from garage rockers aping Rolling Stones riffs to a bastardized amalgamation of The Mothers of Invention & Devo, tossing a little New York No Wave into the mix as they navigate a world of aliens, Roman Numerals, and wiretapping on this lo-fi concept album.  Endearing in a "we don't give a shit what anyone thinks" kind of way, ineffectual on a fundamental "we're gonna run with this alien concept idea" level.

Buy this record if your braces start vibrating morse code messages.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Twin Shadow- Confess

The chorus for the opening track "Golden Light" sounds eerily similar to the Gerard McMann penned "Cry Little Sister", which many of you would recognize as the theme song for the movie The Lost Boys. Twin Shadow's George Lewis looks vaguely vampirish on the Confess cover and I could imagine him performing The Lost Boys theme song himself if he had been making music back in the 80's. His music is one giant homage to the slickly overproduced hits of that decade. Twin Shadow's success is also allowing Lewis to live out his James Dean motorcycle rebel fantasy, and I must say, the looks suits him just fine. One of the interesting aspects to Lewis' music is the contrast between his guitar playing and his reliance on synth-laden hooks. After seeing Twin Shadow play live it's obvious that Lewis is a very competent guitarist, but buries his playing under a pile of new wave keyboard notes. It's this infatuation with dated sounds that is, at once, both charming and limiting. Prince is also a deceptively agile guitar player who, having always placed song structure above personal affectations, wavered through personas and his own genre nostalgia: soul and funk music. If the comparison between the two has not already been made, it should.  Confess provides more of the same, sonically and thematically, as the debut record Forget, but doesn't display much musical progression. Confess feels like the result of a lot of time on the road, writing at rest stops and in flea bag hotels, recording on a couple off days, touring again, a little writing, recording again while on holiday, etc. I hope that Mr. Lewis finds the time to rest and chart out a musical course because he has the potential for a long and fulfilling career.

Buy this record if you're recruiting future soccer stars from Middlesbrough secondary schools.