Media reviews

In high school, I wrote a regular column reviewing albums I liked. I even won first place in the state for my column. [That state has less people than Harris County -- ed. Yeah, well.] Once upon a time, I wanted to be a rock critic for the NME, but then I realized I don't particularly like listening to or reviewing music that I don't like. Also, working for the NME would involve living in London, and I'm not talking about London, TX.

Pat Green: Cannonball
Is Pat Green trying to hard? Is the pressure of going Nashville getting to him? This album just smacks of trying too hard for a certain sound, and it just doesn't work as a cohesive whole or as individual parts. And I'm not one of those people who thinks Pat Green lost it when he signed with a major label: his first two -- Three Days and Wave on Wave -- were fantastic. But this album and Lucky Ones just fall flat, even as much as I want them to succeed. Not that there aren't some redeeming moments. "Missing Me" and "Lost Without You", among others, both work, except that they don't sound like Pat Green and I feel like I've heard them before. That's an odd combination.

I've had this album for about a month, and I kept thinking I might get it. Nope. 4/10

Randy Rogers Band: Just A Matter of Time
Until now, the Randy Rogers Band was a rarity for me: a band I enjoyed more live than on record. They've always had great songs, but something wasn't fully captured on record.

Every track could feels like it could be a single, but not in a bad way. So it was a little bit of a surprise when I heard that the first single was "Kiss Me In the Dark." While, a great track, it sounded a little familiar, until I realized: Radney Foster co-wrote and producted it. It has the feel of a Foster track. That's a good thing. In fact, Foster does a spectacular job producing the album: polished but never overdone. The occasional genius extra touches (see, eg, the whisper on Kiss Me in The Dark).

With Foster at the helm steering the sound, the album probably emphasizes the "alt" a little more than the "country," and guitarist Geoffrey Hill is all over this record. But the fiddle is ever present, and the country roots remain, particularly i "You Start Over Your Way" and "If Anyone Asks."

For a major label debut, they managed to knock it out of the park. I'm predicting big things for them and for this album. As tough as it is to give out a 10, this one deserves it. 10/10

The Killers: When You Were Young (single)
Listening to The Killers is like drinking cheap sweet champagne. On first blush, it's quite enjoyable. It's cool, easy on the tastebuds, and leaves you with a warm glow. But it lacks complexity, and eventually you realize that...well, you're just drinking cheap champagne.

But I love cheap sweet champagne. [Although like any good Republican, I actually drink sparkling wine. Heh.] And it's no surprise that I love the Killers: they're from Las Vegas, but they sound like they are straight out of England. Even better, they're using Alan Moulder, one of my favorite producers, for their forthcoming album.

Thus are The Killers. Fun pop music, addicting to listen to for a little while, but I won't be listening to them in 10 years. In the meantime, I'll have "When You Were Young" cranked at max volume on repeat as I drive down the highway.

The Wire
I may be a little late to this show, but this HBO series is amazing. The show focuses on a special detail of Baltimore cops who are focused on some westside Baltimore drug kingpins and traffickers. I've been describing it to friends as The Sopranos, only set in Baltimore and focused on the police and their investigation. In other words, nothing like the Sopranos, except that it's an edgy HBO show about organized crime.

And it is edgy. Every other word is mf, or the n word (we're a family blog here). It's not as violent as the Sopranos, but it', edgier in other ways. The first season is great (9/10), whereas the second season drags in more than one place(6ish/10). I'm starting the third season now, and hope to catch up soon, because the fourth season is airing on HBO right now. Interestingly, Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich has a cameo as a cop, while his election opponent Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley declined a cameo offer. Perhaps that's because the series counteracts O'Malley's claim that he's changed Baltimore.

Posted by Evan @ 09/19/06 01:35 PM


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Heh, I had the complete opposite reaction on the new RRB. I really liked that band back in the pre-fiddle, steel guitar days, and I loved their CD that my friend Scott Melott produced. I've liked them less and less since the fiddle displaced the steel guitar and Radney Foster started guiding their sound, and it was all I could do to make it through this latest CD.

But I think you're right -- the RRB is probably destined for a breakthrough of sorts with this one. I don't think it will be quite as big as Pat Green's breakthrough, but maybe bigger than Cross Canadian Ragweed (which isn't really country, and doesn't appeal to the same sorts of people).

Truth be told, I just can't stand to hang out in smoky bars trying to sort out the up-and-comers like I used to like doing. Maybe if/when Doctor-Councilwoman expands her smoking ordinance... :D

Posted by kevin @ 09/19/06 02:51 PM

You're not a Radney fan at all?

I didn't expect that you'd like this album too much. My guess is that you also think Foster overproduced?

Posted by evan @ 09/20/06 02:30 PM

I saw Radney a long time ago do a solo guitar thing at the Mucky Duck. While I usually prefer the live band sound to singer-songwriter stuff, that show resonated with me more than anything of his I've heard on CD. It was really good.

His CDs just sound.... too damn near perfect to me (what a strange complaint, huh?). I don't know if I'd say overproduced so much as put together a little too neatly, and just a little too much of the edge removed.

Then again, I think Jay Farrar is a friggin' genius, but there's never one note out of place on his CDs either, which I just love (at least his band stuff... the weirdly experimental solo stuff, not so much). But he manages for it all to come together neatly while still being edgy....

I dunno. Music is such a subjective thing that I have trouble describing it.

Posted by kevin @ 09/20/06 02:38 PM

Well that sounds like what I'd call overproduction, but that's a pretty subjective term. I mean, even something like Texas in 1880 -- which I love -- is very produced. It's definitely done for a mainstream pop audience. That used to bother me, but I've become much less bothered.

I agree with your last sentence completely. Another reason why I decided not to be a music writer. But it is fun to try and describe my reactions to music every once in awhile, which is what I was trying to do here.

Posted by evan @ 09/20/06 03:12 PM

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