Arts & Life
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This article was published 5/2/2010 (3914 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Rebirth (Universal Motown)
Like a little Auto-Tune with your rock? Then you'll love Rebirth, because it's filled with the annoying effect. Didn't Lil Wayne listen to the last Jay-Z album?
Hip-hop's leading light in 2008 has ditched the inventive rhymes and stylistic loop-de-loops of Tha Carter III in favour of what he thinks a rock album should be, ie. a series of bombastic clichés, power chords, bad guitar solos, electronic flourishes and lots and lots of Auto-Tune. You want sex? There's plenty of it. He can "get the girls of my choice to take off their shorts and blouses," and he'll take you like a bull. That's not a metaphor, and what he actually says can't be printed in a family newspaper.
For a rock record, it's amusing that the highlight is Eminem's appearance on Drop the World. Lil Wayne gets a point for trying something different, but he dropped the ball. 'Ö
Realism is the third in the Magnetic Fields' trio of synth-less recordings, following 2008's Distortion. Songwriter extraordinaire Stephin Merritt abandons the disappointing experiment of that album, which found him almost strangling his pristine pop songs in Jesus and Mary Chains of feedback, for a tinklier sound that will ring bells with longtime fans.
However, all the baroque ornamentation can't hide the chilliness of the material, which is some of Merritt's least swoon-worthy to date. The accordion (by Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) and tablas and violins and sitars, though beautifully employed, are cloying when paired with the more singsongy tunes, some of which sound perilously close to nursery rhymes or novelty tracks.
There are flashes of brilliance, of course -- You Must Be Out of Your Mind is a classic, withering kiss-off ("You can't go round just saying stuff/ Because it's pretty/ And I no longer drink enough /
To think you're witty...") and Always Already Gone is a heartbreaker. But the general feeling is too distanced to be engaging. 'Ö'Ö'Ö
-- Jill Wilson
The Wooden Sky
If I Don't Come Home You'll Know I'm Gone (Black Box/Fontana North)
If I Don't Come Home... came out in 2009 and went unreviewed by the Free Press (though it was named one of the year's best albums by country/roots reviewer Bruce Leperre). The Toronto band's upcoming gig here at the West End Cultural Centre seems as good excuse as any to correct the oversight, especially since Leperre is absolutely right.
It just takes one listen to these lovely, unfussy tunes for them to insinuate themselves in your head and heart, but each new spin reveals fresh delights -- a particularly pretty organ part or guitar filigree, a deft lyrical turn or beautiful backing vocal. Calling this roots music sells its sound short -- there's a No Depression feel, sure, but there's gospel going on, some Weillian drama, some psychedelia, southern rock and all-out pop. Manitoba-born vocalist Gavin Gardiner has a classic roots-music voice, though, rough-hewn with an enveloping warmth. Hear it for yourself at the WECC on Tuesday, when they open for Rural Alberta Advantage. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö
-- Jill Wilson
Git High Tonite! (Transistor 66)
Montreal's Bloodshot Bill is a one-man hell raiser.
On his debut release for local label Transistor 66, the one-man band channels the likes of Hasil Adkins, Eddie Cochran and Heavy Trash as he unleashes a raunchy and raw mix of greasy 1950s rock 'n' roll (Paradise, She's My Baby), rootsy twang (Out of the Rain, Look My Way), wild psychobilly (Whole Hearts Desire) and revved-up rockabilly (Don' to Me).
His live shows are reputed to be hot, sweaty affairs too, so check him out at the Albert tonight when he holds his Winnipeg CD release party, with the Angry Dragons serving as his backing band. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö
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