Smile Politely

One-minute rock reviews

The Flaming Lips And Stardeath And White Dwarfs With Henry Rollins And Peaches Doing Dark Side Of The Moon. Warner Brothers.

Bad! Sick! Revisionist rock! Sweaty, slimy, and crunchy. They shouldn’t have done this. But something had to be done! About the stupendously over-rated Gen X teenage nightmare Dark Side of the Moon, an album that has held sway over every tortured middle class male’s emotional life since 1974. 1973. Whatever. So why not the Flaming Lips, whose qualifications are limited to being as drug-addled as the Floyd were thought to be, and Henry Rollins, who has no qualifications, and even Peaches, who has better music to make. I don’t know White Dwarves, but I agree with them (and Pink Floyd) that there are too many bands named after the color “black.” Right, Henry? I hate this album less than the original! It is not as good, so let it fall like acid rain on the Floyd’s pyramid. I am liberated, freed from the chains of Roger Water’s seductive narcissism! I have a new love/hate relationship with Dark Side of the Moon! And now it’s finally on bile-green vinyl. Oh yes oh yes. Fuck you, Warner Brothers, please remind Henry Rollins that he used to be DIY, but thanks for the record!


Foals. Total Life Forever. SubPop.

Nice. Soothing, flatly dramatic, synth-driven pop. Like the record skipped back to 1982, these repetitive electronic songs about the songwriter’s soul are presented with a refreshing absence of irony, rising above the past three decades’ tumult of fashion and counter-fashion. A bassline wanders through an electronic jungle of dripping textures. This is not music I look to for startling lyrics, or to shatter the ice of complacency, or to subvert commercial paradigms. No revolutions here. Instead, I celebrate its inevitability. It’s a watercolor wash over life’s walls’ imperfections. It’s good. Like prom without the awkwardness.

Laurie Anderson. Homeland. Nonesuch.

Laurie Anderson is inarguably the most important artist currently working in the Cleveland, Ohio, multimedia performance art scene. Her latest album features a bevy of Cleveland greats, including virtuoso classical guitarist and humanitarian Lou Reed, and the modest saxophone session man John Zorn. It is nothing short of remarkable that the under-rated, misunderstood, vilified city of Cleveland could boast talent comparable to that of major coastal cities. Indeed, Anderson’s work has been studiously ignored by The Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, The Boston Globe, The New Yorker, and even The London Times and Guardian. Could it be that her warmth, her homespun femininity, her low-tech, down-to-earth midwestern sensibilities just don’t register with the tastemakers of culturally dominant cities? Or is the problem more dire: that the Manhattan elite must ignore the world across the poisonous Hudson, and continuously regurgitate the same flat, dull, precious, pretentious, overblown, craftless, “conceptual,” cold, dry, flat, waxen, posturing, phony figures decade after decade, overlooking the amazing strides forward taken and aesthetic boundaries forever shattered by cities like Cleveland?

I swear this CD looks pretty good. DVD and all. I’m probably going to take the shrinkwrap off it this weekend, and play it while I mow the lawn.

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