cd reviews

Random Stabbings & Artless Critique

Taking stock of current releases

By Eric W. Saeger

Chemical Brothers


(Astralwerks Records)

We can dispose of this fairly quickly, being that the difference between this and other instrumental housey stuff will go over the heads of people who aren’t rave veterans, while fans of the Chemicals will buy this no matter what, as they should. The idea behind this is a conceptual ebb and flow pursuant to their live shows, very few traditional vocal lines per se. There’s certainly no “Salmon Dance” joking around for this one; the fellas have obviously been listening to old Astral Matrix and such, so it’s basically break out
the head drugs and strap in, if that’s your
bag. The only song with the big-breakbeat stomp you’re looking for is “Horse Power” at
mid-album, while “Won-ders of the Deep” wraps the album up on a high, hopeful note. This experience does require sitting through all five-count-em minutes of glitchy, bad-falsetto nonsense on opener “Snow,” which ultimately coheres with the rest of this if you stick with it. Grade: B

Roberto Badoglio


(Spice-Rack Records)

Italian-born Berklee-trained bassist Badoglio is as fascinated with ‘70s fusion as any other twentysomething wonk, but rather than taking one of two ill-advised paths – feather-and-mink funk-pimp posturing or trying too hard to get Return to Forever’s acid-weirdness down to a science – he puts down such easy-listening progressive breeze you don’t even know your brain is under-
going surgery. His playing is jaw-dropping, up there with, yes, Jaco, be
|it on the getting-sit-uated intro-track “Scirocco’s Theory” (it’s as eggheaded as it looks), the only half-kidding video-game patter of “Bruce Wayne On the Run,” the space-scaping “Dojo” or the ethnic rollcoaster “Essaouira Marketv.” Mind you, even through several model and world-music ideas, the album flows like you won’t believe. A quiet but massively
powerful study. Grade: A+

Scissor Sisters

Night Work

(Polydor Records)

With Lady Gaga around and consumers pinching pennies, there’s no longer any excuse or need for a band that specializes in danceable baubles to play small-ball. Scissor
Sisters know that their time is now – the straights can either go back through the band’s gay-themed back catalog or not, it doesn’t matter, because now is for great songs, tunes that kids and oldsters and hipsters can all dig at the wedding reception. There’s a modicum of shtick here and there, some PG-rated sex stuff no more risqué than When Harry Met Sally, (to tilt the odds even further in their favor, Ana Matronic fakes straightness) but other than that it’s a parade of dance-pop singles, whack whack whack, one after another, like a best-of LP without any past to draw from. No strummy half-joke songs or tearful remembrances of dead friends, no Bee Gees falsetto until “Any Which Way” at the number four spot, and even that one settles for nothing less than Saturday Night Fever soundtrack usability. Even more gratifying is that they’re not interested in being some sort of Village People LGBT inside-joke, they’d rather be ABBA, and may even become that if they keep doing no-filler albums like this. The first two songs bounce on the octave-jumping bass that built ‘70s disco but manage to avoid the gay-disco joke-ology of old, and cripes, it just continues, doling out more hooks than their entire genre has come up with in all its existence, finally exiting on a house note (“Invisible Light”) that doesn’t need remixing from any Eurotrash DJ. Just change the subject when grandma asks about the band name and you can certainly play this at
the cookout. Grade: A+

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers


(Reprise Records/WEA)

The more your ear allows in what’s current the more clear it becomes that blues is quickly going the way of R&B-diva longevity. Twelve-bar has wilted to soil profoundly depleted in today’s musical landscape, a place now ultimately habitable only by bands that can successfully throw the right sort of electro at the right sort of world/jazz/pop/whatnot dartboard.

Enter this, a record that like its creator isn’t concerned with what you or Billboard or Warner Brothers think, it’s just, you know, blues, an old sock Petty wore when he was a twentysomething and which he revisited with his old-sock band Mudcrutch in 2008 for an album whose sessions were summed up “We would play and then we would just talk about the old days,” by the band’s old-buddy guitarist, who is not Mike Campbell, who is, thankfully, here to lay down one more carpet of desert-plains guitar.

The play-by-play isn’t enticing to a hip guy like you: “Candy” is “Dirty Water” in a fake moustache; “I Should Have Known It” resulted from some Physical Graffiti flashbacks; “Let Yourself Go” is “LA Woman” version 1.5; “Don’t Pull Me Over” is a footnote from Reggae For Dummies; and “Lover’s Touch” is a Clapton snooze. Rolling Stone – at least old school Rolling Stone – would softball a few comments about “roots,” “longevity,” “royalty” and “badass solos,” but in reality all that goes on here is an old royal idly marking his longevity by going back to his roots and letting Campbell do a little badass soloing – nothing of note, in other words Grade: B-

Reach DCP
freelance writer
Eric W. Saeger
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