Maybe Tea Partiers like Weezy

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Okay… here’s a quick postscript to my digital rant from last time. I scanned the Top 40 albums when the new issue of Rolling Stone arrived this week and, through no fault of trying on the part of the New York State justice system, I notice that Lil Wayne’s new album, I Am Not A Human Being sits at number one, just in time to greet him as he is released from Riker’s Island, which takes place on Thursday, November 4.

Now, I know it’s too late for Weezy to do anything about the election disaster that just went down, but maybe he can still do something to slow down this damn tea-bagger fiasco. It seems beyond the wildest imaginings that so many Americans would want to put the GOP back in a position of power in any arena of life. What the fuck is wrong with them? Haven’t these fools been paying any attention to the past thirty years or so?

Now, the automatic weapon-toting survivalists, the medicare-motorscooter morons and the twenty-something would be-fascist college Republicans with their heads up their asses are all getting in the way of any real dialogue and they’re blocking the way toward any real answers. Maybe Weezy can make some sense of it all and drop some knowledge on these dunderheads. Lord knows, we need something…

It should come as no surprise to anyone, I suppose, that the same world that hammers us with wretched dance and pop music as a soundtrack to life is also the world where secretive right-wing billionaires are funneling truckloads of money into the tea party movement which is screaming about deficit spending and taxes. Nevertheless, the absurdity of it all is too much to bear sometimes.

The Republicans reportedly spent several billion dollars in advertising for this election and ran a half million TV commercials nationwide. Former Ebay CEO and loser in the California gubernatorial race, Meg Whitman, spent $140,000,000 of her own money! That’s grotesque. Imagine where some of that money could go, and some of the important work that could be done with it all over the country. It’s enough to make a goat vomit…

Let’s get on to some music, since it’s been piling up…

Idlewild – Post-Electric Blues (Nice) What a comeback, and what a concept… Idlewild had been without a record company for a while, but they wanted to release an album anyway, so they decided to do the “fan funding” thing and made an appeal to the masses for assistance. The band made available a pre-order package with a limited edition CD, along with other downloadable tracks, and also offered to put the fan’s names in the liner notes and online.

Then they posted songs as works-in-progress and fans picked the ones they thought should be included on the album. The following is from an online statement by the band: “After 11 years of recording and releasing records within the constraints of the record industry, we now feel that the time is right and the technology exists for us to deal more quickly and directly with the fans. It also allows us total control of our music and will ultimately mean that, should you choose to get involved, you will hear our music as soon as it is available.” Sadly forgotten, pissed-on and not spoken of very often these days, Idlewild return with another divinely quirky album that’s as close to perfect as anything I could imagine them doing.

It’s a rather remarkable and matter-of-fact collection of songs that taste very different in subtle ways, but all blends together into a compelling and heady cocktail with some lofty aspirations. A few of my old, curmudgeonly punk friends will dismiss me as being overly excited, but I say, “Fuck that!” The opener, “Younger Than America,” is a damn near perfect song, and one of the very finest opening tracks on a rock album, ever. It’s beyond catchy, beyond infectious, with a great flow, and a note-perfect sing/speak melody that captures you immediately.

The vibrato in singer Roddy Woomble’s voice is as good as gold, with that accent that never really goes away. It’s difficult to describe a song that feels like it was pulled out of the ether fully formed, and there are eight of them on this album. “Readers & Writers” is among the best, calling out like a good friend next door, with its hypnotic marching rhythm and a sublime underpinning that’s impossible to define. Song after song sounds like the work of a band that has got it down cold. After six albums, and years of wading through the sewers of the music business, these guys have risen above it all.

A couple music writers seemed to suggest in reviewing this album that it comes too easy for them now, and that Idlewild should explode the whole thing and start over. I dare say that would be the dumbest thing they could do when they do this so well.

I Was A King – Old Friends (Sounds Familyre) On this album, Norway’s IWAK brings together the disparate talents of songwriter Frode Stromstad and vocalist Anne Lise Frokedal with John Ringhofer, Daniel Smith and drummer Kevin Shea, among others, for a collaboration that moves from a singer-songwriter ethos on some tracks to a more avant-garde pastiche on others. The album is the inaugural project for Daniel Smith’s Sounds Familyre Studio in New Jersey, and IWAK becomes part of the Sounds Familyre roster that also includes Sufjan Stevens and Soul-Junk.

The first song, “The Wylde Boys” is great, dropping itself squarely in the center of the Elephant 6 circle of swirling sounds, and fans of The Apples In Stereo would likely find something to dig into here. “Snow Song” is a fluttery ballad that floats between the 70s and 90s, with lean vocals; they add some noisy flourishes at the end and take the song to an entirely different place. “Here To Stay” and “Unreal” also ply the noisier, abstract wares. In between everything else there’s something vaguely Beatle-esque afoot, as well…

The Memorials – S/T (Arkiteks/Bungalo) This is a project involving Thomas Pridgen from the Mars Volta, who was rumored to have been fired from that band last year, after “getting into it” with Cedric. Not sure about that. What I can say about this is that he and singer Viveca Hawkins, who, I believe, has also worked with MF Doom and Blackalicious, obviously love all kinds of music, and they let it all hang out on this crudely produced album.

There’s a central funkiness to their superfreaky soul-rock, and Hawkins wails with conviction as she bounces off of the guitar lines laid down by Nick Brewer. She doesn’t sound like every other female vocalist who tries to push her voice playing rock music like this, and that’s a plus. The longer songs allow for all kinds of freedom of movement as they touch on Living Colour, Red Hot Chili Peppers and other purveyors of White-Black fusion, and they mix in some muscular psych-rock when they feel like it.

It’s all over the place in a good way, with tempos shifting and changes elbowing their way in, but it’s never just slapdash, and the grooviness comes through no matter what kind of groove they’re working on. “I Remember You” is Cali-funky like the Chili Peppers, “Natural Disaster” leaves the pleading vocals hiding behind the guitars and drums, and they can even take a silly song like “Let’s Party” and transform it into something workable… That’s it for now… Until next time…