Still Haven’t Found It
No Line on the Horizon Interscope
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U2 doesn’t have a chance in the weeklies or the blogs. These writers are a hodge-podge of thrift-shopping, left-leaning, dis-establishmentarianisms who love weird shit, listen to noisy music and were three-years-old when Joshua Tree came out. If we’re already seething with exasperation over Coldplay (so-deemed heir-apparent to U2’s legacy of epic arena rock with a dash of class and heavy-hearted conscience), then you can damn well bet we’re vomiting at the next lackadaisical, over-produced transgression that U2 is trying to push.
Last month, WalMart leaked snippets of each song from the Dublin-born quartet’s latest batch of histrionic “rock” ballads with their always-go-for-the-gullet guitar tones and shifts between pillowy garble and fist-pumping self-righteousness. After the leak, U2 streamed Horizon in its grooving cheesy glory on their Myspace site for free. Strategic, indeed, boys … you don’t want to fall in with the rest of those big-time arena-stomper types: the AC/DCs, the Bob Segers, the Bruce fucking Springsteens who have signed WalMart-exclusive deals. No, you’re on the Radiohead, free-on-the-internet bandwagon, (if only sample-wise, not download). But then, you also have an offensively elaborate box-set with pictures, books and whatever bells and whistles that’ll cost you $100, after tax. You’re also linked with the overarching (and lucrative promotion company) Live Nation, certainly promising them a hefty payday when you tour this glitzy, smooth-as-silk, not-too-banging, not-too-whimpy, Gap-ready background music around the world.
Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr, Adam Clayton, 30+ years as a band; from vigorous post-punk upstarts to moody adult-contemporary ballads, grandiose political statements and commercial-ready anthems for the rush-hour squares who can sing along to “Beautiful Day.” Now, we find them as the creepy uncle types who linger a little too long near the kiddie table counting “Uno, Dos, Tres … Quatro.” We indies snarl at them because the sometimes-pissy, often melodramatic, but as of late, groove-heavy adrenaline-rockers will continue to have all the marketing the drawbridges lowered for them, opening the Grammys with their still tacky, half-cocked rallying call to “Get On Your Boots” and setting up a five-nights-in-a-row Letterman gig. You win, U2!
Horizon tastes like a soggy TV movie, with awkward aims at gospel and soul (“Moment of Surrender”) or heartfelt poignancy, like mushy microwaved popcorn (“Unknown Caller”). For a bunch o’ wiry 50-year olds still playing the same tones and yelling the same notes, it’s disturbing, or awkward, to hear them singing songs like “I’ll go crazy / If I don’t go crazy tonight".
The hardcores will ask, why do you always have to shit on U2? Because when you hang around for 30 years, you inevitably become a parody of yourself but that doesn’t mean you have to stop making good music, a memo that U2 missed. Music has changed 9,000 times in the past decade alone. Think how much it’s changed since 1988! U2 thinks they can still pull the same tricks and deliver us the same schmaltz. The sad fact is that they will get away with it. It’s our lament, the underrepresented indies like us, that the system doesn’t recognize how perverse and lobotomized the mainstream has become. So, congrats WalMart and U2 … "Get On Your Boots," America; "Get On Your Boots," world. — JEFF MILO
Elvis Perkins In DearlandBeggars XL
On Elvis Perkins’ second album, he ups the ante with a full band. Regardless, there is still a subtle boredom that runs throughout the release. Sure, Perkins’ signature rambling, folk-fueled singing style is charming and appreciated but there is a certain restlessness that plagues Elvis Perkins In Dearland like phantom limb syndrome, leaving the listener a bit unsure of the album’s value, timelessness and appeal.
“Shampoo” begins the release with a strange, haunting authority that can only be attributed to reggae, as folk-ified as the track may be — chiseled organs add background atmospherics with great effect while Perkins’ Marley-melody captivates. On “Send My Fond Regards To Lonelyville,” strolling down memory lane with nothing more than a guitar and sparse percussion at his heels before the summery number melts into a New Orleans-style send-off.
The album’s standout track, “Doomsday,” follows suit with a sleepy, elephant-brass introduction that leads into a post-apocalyptic love song that displays Perkins’ reality-soaked lyrics in a dreamscape fashion: “Although you voted for that man / I would never refuse your hand / On Doomsday.” — RYAN PATRICK HOOPER
Love vs. MoneyDef Jam Recordings/Radio Killa
The-Dream is a genius songwriter. He's crafted pop diamonds in Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” It’s obvious that the North Carolina native has skills. So, his fantastic writing ability should be applied to his own album, right? Well, not really. Love vs. Money showcases a fine producer/songwriter trying to make the jump to center stage; Kanye West syndrome. Yet, West has the skills (apparent from Love track “Walk on the Moon”) while The-Dream looks like a nightmare. — ERIC ALLEN
Adult NightsSony Music Entertainment
A wistful debut rooted in rural New Hampshire and ’90s power pop with ties to an early version of the Arcade Fire, Adult Nights breezes against the ear like a steadily tempermental night wind, molding the atmosphere from restless to comfortable. Though it lets out displeasured lyrics like “Fuck today / Fuck Oakland / Fuck California,” the slow breathy singing soothes like a soft kiss. This feeling lingers as the album elicits power from place-specific intimacy by evoking sites like “a fork in the road where a car crashed.” — KELLY DURBIN
in my ear
Space-jazz, hip-hop cadet Dial81 brews up galactic jams layered with intellectual, spiraling wordplay that leaves some jealous. The dude’s been doing it for a long time (check the beard and swagger) and approaches each beat and countless side project with class. Check out Dial81 at Northern Lights on March 7 and check out the selections he’s currently listening to:
De La Soul
Buhloone Mind State
Siah and Yeshua Dapoed
The Visuals Anthology
Les Triplets de Belleville Soundtrack
Out My Window
Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Just as I Am
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