Bad Astronaut’s debut album is really anything but that. The members come from some pretty famous punk bands of the 90s. Helming the mothership with his insipid vocals is Joey Cape, formerly of Fat Wreck Chord’s Lagwagon. Cape has also served time aboard Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Marko 72, performing bass duties, has also lent his expertise to Nerfherder and the Swingin’ Utters. Derrick Plourde drummed for Lagwagon on their first three adventures in recorded music.
So, needless to say, this is not the first time this band has been in the studio and it shows in this album. Biting lyrics mixed in with some comic relief make it an enjoyable listen, but as with most punk albums released since 1979, every song just runs together with very little thought given to any changes in pace. Then again, it is punk music. Acrophobe is worth listening to, but you won’t fall in love with it.
For a decade Pavement (b.89-d.99) were the definitive indie-rock band. Their slacker, cute-boy anthems were adored by millions (well, thousands is probably more like it) and their five albums ranged from secrectly revelatory to completely and utterly brilliant. Better still, they always had a way about them that suggested their notoriety was a total accident.
The band parted ways almost as quietly as their CDs found their way into your collection, but fans of the band should not despair; the true spirit of Stockton, CA’s darlings lives on with the debut album from Pavement’s leader Stephen Malkmus.
Stephen Malkmus is a surprisingly cohesive, non-sucky album that fights the good fight for bandleaders gone solo. “Jo Jo’s Jacket,” “Troubbble” and “Jenny and the Ess-Dog” are among the catchiest tunes you’ll hear this year. On the other side of the spectrum, “Pink India,” and even more so, “Church on White,” highlight Malkmus’ capabilities as a serious songwriter.
But most of all Stephen Malkmus sounds like a free soul, wandering wherever the songs take him. Refreshing.
Everything and Nothing
Formerly the lead singer of the British 80s group Japan, David Sylvian has had numerous solo albums. Oddly, he has only gotten attention in the mainstream as of late for this compilation. The reasoning behind that may be because for the ten albums he’s made, there hasn’t been much growth. This 2-CD set is good and consistent, perhaps a little too consistent; if you didn’t know this was a greatest hits album and you’d never heard his material before, you’d think it was just a studio album.
Most of the songs have a sort of Roxy Music-meets-Peter Murphy vibe, while others are slightly different having a Roxy Music-meets-Paul Weller vibe; either way he seems really into Roxy Music. The songs are mellow and melodic and Sylvian is an affective singer. Standout tracks include “Let the Happiness In,” “I Surrender,” and “Wanderlust.” The problem is that almost every song is over four minutes long and each CD is over an hour, which can be quite overwhelming if you aren’t in an artsy, synth-heavy mood.
This soundtrack is further evidence that Snatch-director Guy Ritchie is a big Tarantino fan. Like the soundtracks for Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Snatch collects snappy favorites, novelty tunes, and snippets of dialogue from the film. The album starts with some spoken gibberish courtesy of Brad Pitt and two back-to-back funky dance tracks. But put on your seat belt. It is a bumpy ride. The inclusion of British 70s MOR (“Hava Nagila,” “Hernando’s Hideaway”) while funny the first couple times, will probably be skipped over by most listeners after about the fifth time through.
Strange sequencing mars the soundtrack. The Immaculate Collection remix of Madonna’s “Lucky Star” comes right after Bobby Byrd’s funk classic “Hot Pants” which is a bit jarring to say the least. Also, the end of the CD features too many slow tracks that bog down the momentum of the album.
Snatch is great by comparison to most recent over hyped soundtracks, with classics like “Cross the Tracks” by Maceo and the Macks and the Specials’ “Ghost Town,” but a few songs cut out certainly would have improved the overall vibe. As a whole, Snatch resembles a mix tape gone awry.