Quick Review (LP): How To Become Clairvoyant by Robbie Robertson

Robbie Robertson
How To Become Clairvoyant
429 Records; 2011

My Rating: C (48/100)

Best Tracks: "When the Night Was Young", "He Don’t Live Here No More"

Is Clapton a verb? As in, “He totally Clapton’d this record?”

RANDOM NOTES:

– He was rarely The Band’s voice, but he was its chief songwriter, and a darn good one at that.
– A bit smooth and suave, and sort of bland in a Clapton-ish sort of way.
– Honestly, I was hoping for a record of big Americana pop songs, much like his solo debut.
– And then Clapton shows up on Track 6. It had to happen, right?
– It all sounds a little bit too good times-ish. I’d love to hear something with a little more bite.
– "Madame X" rocks it Weather Channel style.
– There’s no stamp here, nothing that screams at me "This is the new Robbie Robertson record!" Other than the fact that it is the new Robbie Robertson record, but you know what I mean.
– Is it just me, or does he sound like a less talented John Mayer knockoff?
– "He Don’t Live Here No More" recalls some of the pop brilliance of his eponymous solo offering, which is a far superior record.
– I do like "When the Night Was Young", but it does seem a bit pathetic lyrically.
– "She’s Not Mine" sounds a bit like something U2 might produce today, which unfortunately is not a compliment.
– In my mind, the ability of old rock stars to age gracefully has a gold standard represented best by Mark Knopfler, with the last 10 years of Bob Dylan recordings as a close silver.
James Leven (Paste) gets it right: "Still, Clairvoyant feels a bit underpowered when you consider the sheer tonnage of talent surrounding it." "With Peter Wolf and Robert Plant out making records that push the needle in the revered oldster lane, Robertson and his famous friends could easily have taken more names."
– Queue us all wishing that he’d get back together with Levon so that he could get re-inspired by a little southern badassery.
– As far as aging rock stars go, you have a spectrum that ranges from Eric Clapton to Bob Dylan. This clearly leans heavily to the Eric Clapton side of things.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4/5)
Concept (4/5)
Consistency (3.5/5)
Consequence (4.5/5)
Songs (3/5)

Quick Review (LP): Kiss Each Other Clean by Iron & Wine

iron and wine kiss each other clean Iron & Wine
Kiss Each Other Clean
Warner Bros.; 2011

My Rating: B (66/100)

Best Tracks: “Tree By The River”, “Monkeys Uptown”, “Godless Brother In Love”, “Glad Man Singing”

Prediction: one of these days Sam Beam will make a lullabye-metal record, entitled Iron Maiden & Wine. For now, we must content ourselves with his exceedingly pleasant indie-folk, and Kiss Each Other Clean shouldn’t make anyone upset at that fact. Now from what I know of Iron & Wine, this is the grandest stretch Beam has yet made. It’s essentially a record that celebrates the soft-rock of the 70’s, with a little bit of Stevie Wonder’s good-times-funk thrown in for flavor. As for references, Paul Simon and Fleetwood Mac are primary, and “Half Moon” recalls Clapton‘s “Promises” big time. This is a friendly record, wide-eyed and fatherly, full of great melodies and warm, clever arrangements. Additionally, the best tracks feature some truly lovely moments, especially “Tree By The River” and “Godless Brother In Love.” This isn’t a great record – the last song in particular sort of stinks – but Beam deserves accolades for taking some serious chances here. A 70’s throwback record could easily have sounded hokey coming from Beam, but he pulls it off rather well. That’s much easier said than done. Worth a listen for fans of the soft-rock sound.

Concept (4.5/5)
Cohesion (4.5/5)
Consequence (3.5/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Songs (4/5)

AMG review
Pitchfork review
SputnikMusic review