Saturday, March 31, 2007

Hip-Hop Nation Takes It On The Chin: Modest Mouse Debuts On The Charts At Number One

...not that I think that Modest Mouse is rock n' roll's ace in the hole but isn't it amazing that their new release 'We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank' (the title is indicative of how ponderous a lot of their songs are) debuts on this week's Billboard Top 100 @ #1? Who'da thunk? I mean if any single rock-friendly artist were to give The All-Powerful Hip-Hop Machine the heave-ho this week I would think it would be this year's suburban breakout band The Kaiser Chiefs. I'm listening to their 'Yours Truly, Angry Mob' right now as I write this and it's pretty fucking fun: The jagged guitar lines are sleek, the harmonies are a tad bubblegummy and it's all very retro-British Invasion, which is white hot right now,...they're either The Knack or The Raspberries of 2007. And trust me, that's not a dig...I'm all about The Knack and The Raspberries. All three bands have an unshakable sense of melodic horndog-white boy 'la-la' choruses and who doesn't love 3 minute power pop singalongs? 'The Angry Mob' is so catchy it's like a well-earned case of morning-after crabs. The Kaiser Chiefs have razorburns that The Killers can't muster but they'll never be mistaken for a nihilistic band like The Cockney Rejects. In other words they're easily digested anarchy.

Modest Mouse is a whole other animal however...they're more kissing cousins to Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart then to Chris Daughtry or Nickelback and they have almost nothing at all in common with smarmy, arch teenbait Fall Out Boy (praise god) other than a producer with a sketchy resume (Counting Crows?!). Isaac Brock's obsessions sound immediate and compulsively put right out there on the table in front of mom and god. I want to say that there's a New Sincerity afoot because The Arcade Fire wear their hearts on their sleeves as well but at this point I may merely be seeing what I want to see. In short, I'm encouraged by this spike in diversity on the charts. This week Top 40 hip-hop is just no damn good whatsoever...with the exception of Baby Boy Da Prince's 'This Is The Way I Live' which is so mushmouthed and drawly that you have to wonder if Baby Boy Da Prince can ever get it together enough to wipe his own damn ass. Off the charts is Houston MC Devin The Dude...who is so gacked on weed and malt liquor he pukes, cries and croons like a Christian Wingnut Country Cracker on his new c.d. 'Waitin' To Inhale'. It's all just so. wrong.

Let's see what else broke-ass Satisfaction Pony is listening to:

Macy Gray's 'Big'. Macy's a whole lotta crazy under that frosted wig. Reefer-wracked Macy Gray should chill down south with Devin The Dude, I'm sure they've got a lot to raspy jibber-jabber to yammer at each other, although they should maybe refrain from breeding for the good of the unborn souls in the queue. 'Big' has a lazy, string-laden 70's AM radio vibe going for it but the songs are just so...lazy. Every track but three feels like 'novelty'-ish Dr. Demento fodder. The three tracks worth the effort are 'Finally Made Me Happy', a duet with Natalie Cole that is so uncanny the twosome should consider future collaboration, 'Slowly' which is an actual song instead of MacyCrazy Shocktart shit, and 'Everybody' which is just flat-out Sly Stone anthem greatness. 'Everybody' is a mixtape must.

Joss Stone's 'Introducing Joss Stone'. Joss Stone can blow, dawg. Her phrasing is preternatural for a white woman her age...she has greatness in her. But right now she's a crashing bore. I can't even guess what's going on with her bogus, strip-mall Janis Joplin aesthetic but more than likely her 'Piece Of My Heart' duet w/ Missy Etheridge has a whole lot to do with it. It's all very unfortunate and I'm sure she'll pass through this phase and move on to better things. Thankfully, this time around she's blessed with a savvy producer, Raphael Saadiq, so her bland, bubblehead lyrics are repotted in some crisp Northern Soul backbeats. It all sounds so delicious but this poor creature has absolutely nothing to say for herself except for martianfart, pre-teen diary-doodle. She needs somebody to step in and give her some substance to back up that great big black-velvet voice of hers. And tired-ass, Bon Jovi bitch Diane Warren should stay the hell away from her. There are two stellar singles here: 'Tell Me 'Bout It' and 'Headturner'. 'Tell Me 'Bout It' would be the 'Crazy' of 2007 if it had a thought in its head but as it stands it's right up there with Amerie's 'One Thing' and that's good enough.

Devin The Dude's 'Waitin' To Inhale': Hysterical, disturbing...example: "This dick is so clean/You can serve it with lima beans"...this guy is something else. If Spank Rock and Devin The Dude are ever on the same Smokin' Grooves Tour I am So, So There.

Kings Of Leon's 'Because Of The Times': 'Fans' is jaw-dropping, arena-thumping, southern boogie greatness, maybe as transcendent as 'Sweet Home Alabama': It's just that raw. You've got to hear this track. You'll be pumping your fist in the air like the shop-class meathead you feared and loathed in high school. The rest of 'Because Of The Times' is just as good. These guys are mythic.

I guess that's all for now. Avril Lavigne's 'Girlfriend' isn't that bad but I don't want to talk about it. *shame*.

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