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ISSUE
  Thursday
167
  March 4
2004
c o n t e n t s
 
Set to Sail on Songwriting Chops: The Decemberists’ Colin Maloy Talks About his Band’s Haunting Pop and its New, 18-Minute Prog-Rock Song
RED Reviews
 
A Dance By Any Other Name?

Lab’s ‘Hard Heart’ Hits Hard

A Tale of Two Johns:
A Review of the books by presidential candidates John Edwards and John Kerry
 
Stiller and Wilson Meet Starsky and Hutch:
The Funnymen Talk About Bringing a ’70s TV Show to the Big Screen

WEB EXCLUSIVE
‘Starsky and Hutch’ Revitalizes the TV Show Remake

Paris in the Springtime:
Bertolucci Returns to Form with ‘The Dreamers’
 
 
 
 

 theBeat
 
RED Reviews
 
by Brent Sallay

Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
TV on the Radio
Touch & Go
(out of 5)

They Were Wrong So We Drowned
Liars
Mute
(out of 5)

OK, important lesson for indie bands everywhere: You are in an indie band. You are not going to make much money at that. If by some chance you happen to come up with something truly amazing, something that unites the indie community in proclaiming your band the next big thing, that is probably your only shot. That is, your next album had better live up to expectations. If it does, you may have a shot at the big time. If not, people will find someone else who will.

Case Study No. 1: Liars. They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top. From the first time I saw the Liars open for Phil Elvrum in the fall of 2001, that album quickly attached itself to the upper end of my year-end list. In the year that followed, the album was more widely distributed as the band toured in support of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

People liked what they heard—a lot. And how could they not? They Threw Us All in a Trench was instantly danceable, but revealed even further pleasures upon subsequent listenings. Needless to say, expectations were high for the followup.

But no one in the band cared. Instead, on They Were Wrong So We Drowned, we get maybe one or two songs that remind us of Point A, and the entire rest of the album heads toward somewhere else, somewhere often meandering and pointless, hiding under the guise of “themed” or “art” music. To an extent it works, and some more tolerant fans may find something worthwhile here, but for the most part, all I can hear are hundreds and hundreds of people jumping off the bandwagon.

The members of TV on the Radio fare somewhat better on their first full-length album, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes. While still somewhat of a disappointment after last year’s sonically gooey (that’s a good thing) Young Liars EP, the new album has some noteworthy songs— and Tunde Adebimpe’s voice is still a show-stopper (which is allegedly what the band was focusing on this time around)— but compared to Young Liars, the end mix just feels sloppy at times. Not that that’s a bad thing. (I’ll be the last to condemn lo-fi.) It’s just certainly not what I’d expected or hoped for, especially when a formula that worked so well was only milked for, like, four songs.

I’m all for a band evolving its sound. But after The Bends, Radiohead didn't just jump right into Kid A. They recorded OK Computer. They won a Grammy. They took over the world. Then they started experimenting. Oh, indie bands! Be ye therefore even as Radiohead! Go forth and conquer!


Schizophrenic
JC Chasez
Jive
(out of 5)

Yeah, that’s right. I’m reviewing JC Chasez. Me. Brent Sallay (rhymes with Chasez). Have I ever listened to *NSYNC? No. What are you going to do about it? Stop reading? (Please don’t stop—your dreams keep us alive.) Let’s just accept the fact that I’m reviewing JC Chasez’s solo album and get on with the review.

First off, as JT (Justin Timberlake, not to be confused with JC) has already amply proven, *NSYNC solo projects need not have any of that crappy boy-band stigma attached. And while JC (not to be confused with “Home Improvement’s” JTT) continues in that vein, it’s also pretty much impossible to review his album without referring more than a few times to his fellow Mousketeer/friend-for-life.

For example, JC is to KJQ as JT is to KZHT. Whereas JT’s production from the Neptunes and Timbaland felt more hip-hop, JC’s reliance on eccentric dance purveyors Basement Jaxx, Rockwilder and several unknowns yields a decidedly more new-wave feel on several tracks. I’m copying this from Entertainment Weekly, but JC is to Prince as JT is to Michael Jackson.

Granted, several of the tracks on this very long album (come on, people, just because a CD fits 80 minutes on it doesn’t mean you have to use all of them) probably regress into *NSYNC style schmaltziness. (I wouldn’t know, remember?) And for an album so sexually charged, JC’s lyrics are uniformly PG-13— not “Whale Rider” or “The School of Rock” PG-13, but the kind of PG-13 that desperately wishes it had the balls to be R, the kind that is sure to please your mom, but not so much your girl.

Still, as the album's title suggests, Schizophrenic is much more varied than JT could ever hope to be, and more importantly, it’s extremely catchy and listenable, only stooping to cringeworthy high school-level libido pining on a rare few occasions.
In conclusion, maybe JC isn’t as good as JT, but at least he’s better than *NSYNC. At least I’m assuming. I don’t listen to that crap.
brent@red-mag.com

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