Career In Brief: Jawbox

photo_rcol_ja_orangeINTRODUCTION

Jawbox were a DC area melodic post-punk act led by J. Robbins. Beginning as a three piece in 89/90, the band toured under the radar during the underground music revolution of 91/92. When the band added Bill Barbot as a second vocalist and guitar player around the same time, they laid the groundwork for the resounding success that was Novelty. 1994’s For Your Own Special Sweetheart found them on a major label, with the execs probably trying to position them to be the "next Nirvana", but FYOSS, while the band’s masterpiece in its own right (and one of the greatest post-punk records ever), didn’t achieve the success they and others were hoping. With that, they tried to smooth away the rough edges on their next eponymous album, but all that managed to do for them was disappoint the critics. They called it quits around 1997, and released a collection of rarities in 1998. Barbot and Robbins went on to form Burning Airlines, which released 2 excellent (if less melodic and more art-punk) LP’s around the turn of the century. Bassist Kim Coletta and drummer Zach Barocas both went on to non-musical careers in other fields.

MAIN RELEASES

Jawbox EP (1990) – [B]: Meat and potatoes post-hardcore. ["Tools & Chrome"] (my review)

Grippe (1991) – [C+]: Undercooked, but signs of promise. ["Freezerburn"] (my review)

Novelty (1992) – [A]: Who knew hardcore could be so beautiful? ["Static"] (my review)

For Your Own Special Sweetheart (1994) – [A]: A masterpiece, a brilliant set of tunes. ["Cooling Card"] (my review)

Jawbox (1996) – [B-]: Band leans radio-friendly, gets ignored, breaks up. Not bad though. ["Iodine"] (my review)

My Scrapbook Of Fatal Accidents (1998): There are some highlights here for sure (the Peel session, although it’s sort of a sub-par Peel session, with nothing new for the fan), their cover of Tar’s "Static", and rarities like "Apollo Amateur" and "Under Glass." Hey, there’s even a cover of The Cure’s "Meathook", which would be great in just about any form. You could even make a case for their cover of the R.E.M. obscurity "Low." Overall though, this is exactly what it’s supposed to be and nothing more, a clearing of the archives for a short-lived great.

OTHER

The two tracks from the "Tongues" single (now found at the end of most versions of Novelty) should not be missed, especially the title track, as it features Bill Barbot on lead vocals and is one of the best things the band recorded. Also, the 3 tracks from the Savory + 3 EP ("68", "Lil Shaver", and "Sound on Sound") are all keepers, but esp. "68". You can find them now on the FYOSS reissue. Also, their cover of Tori Amos’ “Cornflake Girl” is cool, regardless of what Amos’ own fans will probably tell you.

VIDEO

“Savory” official video
”FF=66” live on Jimmy Fallon (reunited in 2009)

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Quick Review (LP): All That You Can’t Leave Behind by U2

U2
All That You Can’t Leave Behind
Interscope; 2000

My Rating: B (72/100)

Best Tracks: "Beautiful Day", "Stuck In A Moment That You Can’t Out Of", "Walk On", "In A Little While"

After Pop, U2 makes a pop record.

NOTES

  • I can remember listening to "Beautiful Day" back in 2000 and thinking "They’re back!!!"
  • "Beautiful Day" is such a great song. It’s a bit overplayed radio-wise, but it’s deserving of that status.
  • I really love the transition from the second bridge to the song’s conclusion. The Edge’s guitar work there is brilliant.
  • Sure, the video is overwrought, but, c’mon, it just makes sense to have huge jets taking off over the head of U2.
  • "Stuck In A Moment" was one of my initial favorites. It’s sort of an R&B tune isn’t it?
  • Also, I saw Bono totally butcher the words to "Stuck In A Moment" in Indianapolis in 2001. Ironic.
  • Yes, "Elevation" does contain some ridiculous lyrics, but sue me, I like it.
  • My wife once had "Elevation" as her ring tone. So, yeah, someone would call and we’d hear Bono yell "A mole! Diggin’ in a hole!"
  • While I do love "Walk On", gotta say, the promos for the Friends finale almost ruined it for me. Man, they wouldn’t stop playing that song!!!
  • Seriously though, "Walk On" is prime U2. Beautiful melody, great guitar line, an all around feel good track.
  • "Kite" is a pretty gorgeous song, but something has always seemed a bit off about it to me. I like Bono’s inspiration for the tune though. Touching.
  • The last few lyrics of "Kite" have always seemed a little awkward to me.
  • "In A Little While" is a personal favorite. It’s another cut I could see being performed by an old school soul singer.
  • "Wild Honey" is the cutest thing they’ve done since "Sweetest Thing." It’s a sleeper.
  • Given the subject matter and the lyrical content, "Peace On Earth" strikes me as a hybrid of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and John Lennon’s "Imagine."
  • Very moving when he lists the names of the victims of the Omagh bombing.
  • While unusual, I dig the tones The Edge got out of his guitar on ATYCLB. See "When I Look At The World."
  • While I do like "New York", it does seem like it could have gone a little farther.
  • "Grace" feels like an afterthought, but it’s actually underrated.
  • It’s a return to form in certain ways, but U2 never really sounded this poppy and urban before. This is soul-pop the way only U2 could do it.
  • I think the concept here is leaving the past behind. Appropriate for U2 after Pop almost relegated them to the realm of has-beens. It may not be a critical favorite, but this is a solid, forward-looking album. Bono was fond of saying that they were reapplying for the job of world’s best band with this record. In terms of popularity, I think they got the job.
  • ATTRIBUTES
    Cohesion (5/5)
    Concept (5/5)
    Consequence (5/5)
    Consistency (3/5)
    Songs (4/5)

Quick Review (LP): A.M. by Wilco

Wilco
A.M.
Sire; 1995

My Rating: C (50/100)

Best Tracks: "I Must Be High", "Casino Queen", "Boxful of Letters", "I Thought I Held You", "Dash 7", “Passenger Side”

Not there yet.

NOTES

  • "I Must Be High" sounds like a Travelling Wilburys outtake. Catchy as a glove.
  • "Casino Queen" has a very FM radio feel. Sort of like 70’s Rod Stewart backed by 70’s Stones.
  • "Boxful of Letters" is a great tune, though a sub-par vocal peformance by Tweedy.
  • "Shouldn’t Be Ashamed" and "Pick Up The Change" start to run together. Average alt-rock.
  • "I Thought I Held You" is a cool tune. A bit like the direction the band would take on Being There. More alt-country.
  • Same for "That’s Not The Issue", but it’s not as good as the previous track. Sounds kinda jokey.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, Johnny Stirrat!!! ("It’s Just That Simple")
  • Some of the album’s best tunes are located towards the end. "Passenger Side" is one of the record’s grittier tunes, and "Dash 7" again foreshadows Being There as a more intimate, cosmic american music number.
  • "Blue-Eyed Soul" is sort of dull, mostly due to Tweedy’s vocals. I think he was too low in his range. Not a lot of soul in his voice. Maybe he’s hinting at irony there?
  • The riff on "Too Far Apart" sounds like it could’ve been a little more memorable with just a little more time.
  • The tunes here are surprisingly good. The problem wasn’t so much tunes as it was concept. The whole thing feels a bit like a commercial play, a bit generic, with no artistic personality other than radio-friendly alt-country, like a rootsier version of any one of the faceless grunge bands that MTV subjected us to back in the mid-90’s.
  • Also, Tweedy hadn’t really found his voice at this point. He was trying to be very full-throated back then, instead of embracing that wonderfully croaky croon of his. He was a youngster.
  • Here’s my write-up of AM from back in 2009. I more or less say the same things about it.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4/5)
Concept (2/5)
Consequence (3/5)
Consistency (3.5/5)
Songs (4/5)

Quick Review (LP): Pop by U2

U2
Pop
Island; 1997

My Rating: C (56/100)

Best Tracks: "If God Will Send His Angels", "Gone", "Wake Up Dead Man", "Last Night On Earth"

U2’s anti-U2 album.

NOTES

  • I can remember hating "Discotheque" when it came out. I thought it was U2 going off the deep end. It’s not so bad though. Strange/hilarious video.
  • "Do You Feel Loved" has a little bit of gracefulness to it. However, it’s nothing special.
  • On "Mofo", the band does their best Prodigy/NIN imitation and pretty much fails.
  • "If God Will Send His Angels" is one of the band’s best melodies. It’s almost like an old school soul song. In fact, I’d love to hear a soul singer cover it.
  • I always though "Staring at the Sun" sounded like U2 were a bit short on inspiration, but they were trying really hard to write their next big cultural milestone.
  • "Last Night On Earth" is a cool tune. Nice big chorus as you would expect from U2.
  • "Gone" is great. The Edge’s guitar work is impressive without sounding like The Edge.
  • "Miami" is just plain ugly.
  • You know, there might be something to "The Playboy Mansion." A twisted vision of heaven for sure, but isn’t that the point?
  • "If You Wear That Velvet Dress" and "Please" don’t really do anything for me. Both are pretty dull.
  • "Wake Up Dead Man" may be one of the band’s best closing tracks. Surprised to learn that it was originally conceived as an upbeat track during the Achtung Baby sessions.
  • Pop has a great concept. I’ve read something somewhere about the genius of the title. In the grand sense, Pop might be U2’s most spiritually significant record, in that it stands as the band’s ironic embrace of the hedonistic mentality of the late 90’s. Pop is a clash, full of noise and confusion, with the grace so common in U2’s work barely perceptible. Me? I love the heart on sleeve U2. I gave Pop a pretty harsh grade, but I can appreciate that this album might be one of their most rewarding for those willing to go as deep as U2 apparently wanted. I suppose that one of these days I might just come back to it and find an album I love.
  • A “C” does seem unfair. Not trying to be a hater.
  • Erlewine’s review at AMG is spot on: "Achtung Baby also was a comment on the numbing isolation of modern culture, but it made sweeping statements through personal observations; Pop makes sweeping statements through sweeping observations. The difference is what makes Pop an easy record to admire, but a hard one to love."

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (3/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (2/5)
Songs (4/5)

Quick Review (LP): Zooropa by U2

U2
Zooropa
Island; 1993

My Rating: A- (81/100)

Best Tracks: “Babyface”, “Lemon”, “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)”, “Some Days Are Better Than Others”

Post-U2 (and everything else).

NOTES

  • Man, “Zooropa” (the title track) is like the anti-“Where the Streets Have No Name.” Very Eno-esque, reminiscent of something off Another Green World, but a little groovy too. I dig it.
  • “Babyface” is one of the strangest things they’ve ever recorded. It’s also really good. Kind of like a collision of Radiohead’s “Kid A” and “The Fly” off Achtung Baby. Love the twinkly piano thing.
  • Ah, “Numb!” The one where The Edge sings in the monotone and gets his face abused. Bizarre, but strangely enjoyable. I think it’s Bono’s falsetto that makes this track, and the organ breakdown is so silly that it’s fantastic.
  • “Lemon” is wonderful. Beautiful inspiration, transcendent melody. This is one of the U2’s underrated greats. I adore the bridge. See my review of the track here.
  • Man, “Stay”…the goodness on this one just astounds me. That chorus rises to heaven.
  • “Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car” isn’t great, but it’s decent and pretty interesting. Bono calls it “industrial blues.”
  • The rhythm on “Some Days…” is some of the best work of Clayton and Mullen. Love Clayton’s bass line.
  • The atmosphere on “The First Time” is great. Another underrated gem. Kind of like a hybrid of “Mothers of the Disappeared” and “All I Want Is You.”
  • “Dirty Day” is a bit of a drag, but the overall tide of the album lifts it a few notches.
  • As much as I gotta respect Johnny Cash, I’m looking forward to hearing Bono on “The Wanderer” at some point in the not too distant future (AB deluxe perhaps?).
  • It’s amazing to think about how much this album has grown on me since its release. At the time, I though U2 had gone off the deep end, but as I listen to it now, I realize this is one of U2’s crowning achievements. It’s not quite a masterpiece, but this, like Achtung Baby, is a work of art.
  • There were apparently 20 tracks recorded during the Zooropa sessions, 10 of which are here, and 4 saw release (in re-recorded form) on Pop. I wonder what the other handful were, and if we’ll ever get to hear them? (I think “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” was one as well).

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

Quick Review (LP): Achtung Baby by U2

U2
Achtung Baby
Island; 1991

My Rating: A+ (100/100)

Best Tracks: "Even Better Than The Real Thing", "One", "Until the End of the World", "Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses", "Mysterious Ways", "Ultraviolet"

“Let us go then, you and I / When the evening is spread out against the sky…”

NOTES

  • Even today, "Zoo Station" is such a bizarre song. It certainly sent the message at the time that U2 were re-defining themselves as a band. The "Everything In It’s Right Place" of the 90’s.
  • "Time is a train/The future, the past/We’re standing in the station/Our face pressed up against the glass"
  • "Even Better Than The Real Thing" = prophecy. Brilliant guitar work from The Edge.
  • You don’t need me to tell you that "One" is great, but I really love the way the song avoids the traditional verse-chorus-verse. The guitar tones are wonderful too.
  • "Have you come here for forgiveness/Have you come to raise the dead/Have you come here to play Jesus/To the lepers in your head?"
  • "Until the End of the World" is worth the price of admission alone. Judas sings the lead. Jesus sings the "Love love love!"
  • "In the garden, I was playing the tart/I kissed your lips and broke your heart/You, you were acting like it was the end of the world…"
  • "Waves of regret and waves of joy/I reached out for the one I tried to destroy/You, you said you’d wait til the end of the world…"
  • That ending. Haunting, beautiful, amazing.
  • “Who’s gonna ride…?" has always been a personal favorite. Love the wall of sound, the glam coupled with the gorgeous and romantic melody. Amazing lyrics.
  • "Oh the deeper I spin/The hunter will sin/For your ivory skin/Took a drive in the dirty rain/To the place where the wind calls your name…"
  • "So Cruel" is another great from this record. Brilliant songwriting. Sort of sounds like Elvis, doesn’t it? I could see him covering this, a medley with "Suspicious Minds."
  • "The Fly" is a really cool tune. I’ve always loved Bono’s falsetto on that tune, and the way he duels with his own voice on the lower end is brilliant.
  • "Love/We shine like a burning star/Falling from the sky/Tonight"
  • "A man will rise/A man will fall/From the sheer face of love/Like a fly on a wall/It’s no secret at all…"
  • "Mysterious Ways" is the big poppy hit here, but it’s no less a brilliant tune. No one can make meaningful and rich radio rock like U2.
  • "Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World" is another personal fave. It’s another example of the band sounding completely re-vitalized and fresh, brimming with ideas. Love that ethereal synth part in the background. That makes the song in my book.
  • I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but "Ultraviolet" is such a wonderful song. Amazing atmosphere, amazing tune.
  • Achtung Baby contains the band’s best ending sequence. "Acrobat" sets things swirling, setting the mood for what comes next.
  • "Love Is Blindness" – the opening organ is a nice touch. A waltz – what a way to end the record!
  • By the way, what is that lyrical style called (on "Love Is Blindness")? Bono uses it quite a bit, but he really nails it here. Is it a litany?
  • Big awards go to all players here. Bono’s vocals and lyrics are rich and compelling, The Edge’s guitar work is other-worldly, and Clayton and Mullen changed their style to lay the groundwork for greatness. Also, Eno and Lanois work their magic again. Can’t forget Lillywhite or Flood either.
  • Nevermind and Out of Time may have helped spur the music revolution in 1991, but it’s Achtung Baby that stands alone as a truly revolutionary experience. Even today, there’s a magical "high art" quality to the record that is an extremely rare achievement in the world of pop music. Only U2 could pull off a tongue-in-cheek pop record concerned with such weighty themes. A marvel of biblical proportions, and perhaps the record U2 was pre-destined to create.
  • A previous write-up.
  • Really looking forward to the deluxe edition (6CDs!!!) in November.
  • One last thought – AB as a whole sort of reminds me of the T.S. Eliot’s “J. Alfred Prufrock.” I mean the feel of the record. I just realized that.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (5/5)
Songs (5/5)

Quick Review (LP): Rattle and Hum by U2

U2
Rattle and Hum
Island; 1988

My Rating: C (53/100)

Best Tracks: "Desire", "Angel of Harlem", "All I Want Is You", "Van Diemen’s Land", "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (live)"

The sound of a band losing the plot.

NOTES

  • U2 is often accused of trying to inherit The Beatles’ mantle with their cover of "Helter Skelter" opening this record. However, the biggest problem with their cover is that it sort of sucks.
  • "Van Diemen’s Land" is a harrowing little sleeper, isn’t it? Really nice stuff from The Edge.
  • "Desire" is the punchiest tune they’ve written since "I Will Follow."
  • "Hawkmoon 269" is okay. Nothing particularly special in my book. The gospel singers are a little cheesy.
  • Their cover of "All Along The Watchtower" is without vision and forgettable.
  • The live version of "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For" is really nice. The gospel choir takes it in a different direction, but really captures the essence of the song.
  • "Silver and Gold" wasn’t even good in the studio. It doesn’t stand a chance here.
  • The live version of "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" is decent. Nice singalong. "THE EDGE!!!" Love that part.
  • "Angel of Harlem" is such a great tune. It’s one of the few stellar moments here, a song that really transports you into the hustle and bustle of NYC.
  • "Love Rescue Me" was co-written with Bob Dylan. He can be heard on the track. It’s a decent sort of big city blues number with a horn section to boot.
  • "When Love Comes to Town" is one of the band’s firiest moments. It actually sort of reminds me of REM’s "Orange Crush" in a weird way.
  • "Heartland" is a cool tune. Though not among their greater tracks, it’s a definite highlight here.
  • "God Part II" is supposed to mark the jumping off point into techno for the band. It’s a dud.
  • Don’t really dig "Bullet the Blue Sky" anyway, so why would I like it live?
  • As simple as it is, "All I Want Is You" is prime U2.
  • The thing is, if they had cut all the filler, U2 might have had a decent (though still inferior) companion to The Joshua Tree on their hands. See below for my thoughts on a tracklisting.
  • Though it contains a handful of great tunes, Rattle and Hum is the work of band on the verge of nuking the fridge. As a film, it’s actually pretty enjoyable, but the record itself is confusing. It’s not an enjoyable listen from start to finish, and many of the tracks are questionable as anything other than interesting outtakes or incidental music. Towards the end of the Lovetown tour, Bono would famously tell the crowds that U2 needed to go away and "dream it all up again." Couldn’t have put it better myself.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (2/5)
Songs (3.5/5)

My Rattle and Hum tracklist
1. Hawkmoon 269
2. Desire
3. Van Diemen’s Land
4. Silver and Gold (The Joshua Tree version)
5. Angel of Harlem
6. When Love Comes to Town
7. Love Rescue Me
8. Heartland
9. God part II
10. All I Want Is You

Quick Review (LP): The Joshua Tree by U2

U2
The Joshua Tree
Island; 1987

My Rating: A (86/100)

Best Tracks: "Where The Streets Have No Name", "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For", "With or Without You", "Running to Stand Still", "One Tree Hill"

Monumental in every conceivable way.

NOTES

  • The Edge says that when they wrote "Where the Streets Have No Name", they were trying to write the ultimate live song. Mission accomplished.
  • For a band that had heretofore been basically post-punk, they nailed the gospel thing with "I Still Haven’t Found…" Transcendent. One of the most beautiful songs ever.
  • "I believe in the kingdom come/That all the colors will bleed into one…" Chills.
  • The fact that "With or Without You" has reached cultural saturation takes nothing away from the fact that it is both an amazing song and a brilliant performance.
  • "Bullet the Blue Sky" – amazing and incendiary guitar work by The Edge. Really brilliant. Never been crazy about Bono’s performance though. It is Bono at his most laughably Bono-esque.
  • After the fireworks of the first four tracks, "Running to Stand Still" rounds out side one on a hushed and meditative note. One of the band’s most underrated tracks. Cinematic.
  • "Red Hill Mining Town" – amazing chorus, and the rise to the chorus is great as well. "And you keep me holdin’ on/In Red Hill town/See the lights go down…"
  • "In God’s Country" has always been one of my favorites, a defining track for this album. Apparently, the band is not as crazy about it. I guess it does feel a little unfinished.
  • "Tripped through Your Wires" is great. Love the sound of The Edge’s guitar there. Rousing.
  • I love the way "One Tree Hill" begins with the synthetic beat and builds to a swell. Bono’s vocals are amazing here. Another personal favorite, and another underrated track.
  • I’ve never been sure about "Exit", but it’s growing on me. I think the mood just feels a little off (?).
  • "Mothers of the Disappeared" certainly ends the album on an unexpected note. The rest of the album soars, so “Mothers” almost feels out of place. It certainly requires an attentiveness that the rest of the album doesn’t. That being said, after many listens, I think it’s a decent tune, though not one of the band’s best, and questionable as a closer here.
  • Perhaps The Joshua Tree is the Mt. Rushmore of rock and roll? Grand in concept, glorious to behold, but unfinished and rough around the edges when viewed close up.
  • I tend to go back and forth on The Joshua Tree as a whole. It is absolutely a classic album, but I am not so sure that it is a perfect record. The highs, of which there are many, are so high that they make the lesser moments seem entirely dull. Specifically, I think they could’ve closed out the record in a far stronger way. (U2 needs to spend some time with Radiohead to figure out how to end a record.) It’s as if their ambition was beyond the reach of mere mortals, and by the end they simply ran out of energy and had to finished the record in a hurried way. That being said, U2 would not be U2 without that ambition, and this is the album where they assumed the mantle of international rock heroes.
  • DELUXE EDITION: Most of the tracks on the second CD come off like experimental drivel. There are only a few notable exceptions: "Spanish Eyes" and "Sweetest Thing" (not as good as the updated version released a few years back). Overall, however, I think the deluxe edition more than anything shows that this was a somewhat confusing period for U2. The Joshua Tree may be their most popular effort, but it was a transitional record, a continuation of the upheaval the band was going through as they tried to move beyond their post-punk roots into something fittingly transcendent.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

Quick Review (LP): You Can Play These Songs With Chords by Death Cab For Cutie

Death Cab For Cutie
You Can Play These Songs With Chords
Elsinor; 1997 (Barsuk; 2003)

My Rating: C (51/100)

Best Tracks: "President of What?", "Hindsight", "That’s Incentive", "Army Corps of Architects"

DCFC in embryonic form…

NOTES

  • I prefer this early version of "President of What?" to the version released on Something About Airplanes.
  • The power-pop influences really stand-out here. I detect significant influence from the likes of Teenage Fanclub and Matthew Sweet. Additionally, tracks like "Hindsight" display an affinity for the early, lo-fi work of PNW heroes like Modest Mouse and Built to Spill. Lastly, there’s a bit of Sebadoh in the mix for sure.
  • "That’s Incentive" is a cool bass-heavy sad-punk cut, although I’m certainly happy this wasn’t the main direction the band took.
  • The whole thing with throwing samples into songs as bridges is an annoying practice that I’m glad died away after the first album.
  • The most impressive thing about this early album is that its not all that impressive. Gibbard would certainly grow as a songwriter in the years to come.
  • BARSUK EDITION TRACKS: Only "Army Corps of Architects" is truly great among the extra tracks here, and to my knowledge it was was recorded far later in the band’s career. It reminds me a great deal of some of Modest Mouse’s great early singles, such as "Broke."

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (3/5)
Concept (3.5/5)
Songs (3.5/5)

Quick Review (LP): III/IV by Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
III/IV
PAX AM; 2010

My Rating: B- (62/100)

Best Tracks: "Breakdown Into The Resolve", "Ultraviolet Light", "The Crystal Skull", "Typecast", "Stop Playing With My Heart", "Kisses Start Wars", "Kill the Lights"

Quantity over quality, with a handful of strong tracks.

NOTES

  • "Breakdown Into The Resolve" is a cool little alterna-rock tune. Sounds like the Foos.
  • "Ultraviolet Light" is a definite high point here.
  • "Stop Playing With My Heart" is a cool little power-pop tune. Nice female backing vocals (who dat?).
  • Nice Beach Boys salute on "Kisses Start Wars" ("Don’t worry, baby!").
  • "Icebreaker" = serious butt rock. Holds true for a lot of IV.
  • What other tune does that guitar riff on "Typecast" hint at? And is that Norah Jones?
  • "Kill the Lights" is a cool rocker with tongue planted firmly in cheek. It’s like a punkish Allman Brothers tune.
  • Quantity over quality here for sure, but it’s obvious this was not intended by Adams as a "main" release anyway. It’s a decent collection of mostly forgettable tunes, but I can understand why Brad Pemberton liked driving around and listening to this one every once in a while. Adams may not produce greatness with every release, but his output is something to behold.
  • AMG hears The Replacements. I guess I agree with that.
  • So aren’t we at a place with music where bands can release everything from a session? Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a proponent of the album format, as in "this is the finished product, the record we set out to make when we began this project." But why not just go ahead and release everything worth releasing a year or two later? The great artists seem to do this, with the exception of a few of my favorites (Wilco, Radiohead, U2), who release a lot, but hold a lot as well. I applaud Mr. Adams for doing that here.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (3/5)
Consistency (3.5/5
Songs (4/5)