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)

Tracks of the Decade: “The Weather” by Built to Spill

“The Weather”
by Built to Spill
from ANCIENT MELODIES FOR THE FUTURE
In light of the legions of alterna-rock heroes struggling to re-invent themselves in the last ten years, Doug Martsch comes off like indie’s grumpy old man. Of the three records his outfit Built to Spill released this decade, it can be argued that he REGRESSED artistically, but in my humble opinion, he simply found what he was great at and continued doing it. Take “The Weather” as Exhibit A. The sort of dreamy acoustic strummer that might have figured as a closer for The Smiths or The Replacements in their heydays, it’s a stunning and swoon-inducing achievement. It reaches back to early in the band’s catalog, when songs like “Fling” and “Car” hinted at Martsch’s considerable melodic and lyrical gifts, applying the same cosmologic instrumentation as the band’s other great slow-burner, “Else.” Still, “The Weather” stands out as the song that might one day make some director millions as the inspiration for the nostalgic teen coming-of-age comedy THE WEATHER. It’s Hughes-worthy, this song, something truly special in the vein of a “Wonderwall.”

DougMartschWEB-1The Weather
by Built to Spill
from ANCIENT MELODIES FOR THE FUTURE

In light of the legions of alterna-rock heroes struggling to re-invent themselves in the last ten years, Doug Martsch comes off like indie’s grumpy old man. Of the three records his outfit Built to Spill released this decade, it can be argued that he REGRESSED artistically, but in my humble opinion, he simply found what he was great at and continued doing it. Take “The Weather” as Exhibit A. The sort of dreamy acoustic strummer that might have figured as a closer for The Smiths or The Replacements in their heydays, it’s a stunning and swoon-inducing achievement. It reaches back to early in the band’s catalog, when songs like “Fling” and “Car” hinted at Martsch’s considerable melodic and lyrical gifts, applying the same cosmologic instrumentation as the band’s other great slow-burner, “Else.” Still, “The Weather” stands out as the song that might one day make some director millions as the inspiration for the nostalgic teen coming-of-age comedy THE WEATHER. It’s Hughes-worthy, this song, something truly special in the vein of a “Wonderwall.”

What makes this song great in your opinion?

Follow the Train: A Breath of Sigh (2006)

Follow the Train
A Breath of Sigh
Darla Records
My Rating: 79/100
Akwardly enchanting lullabyes…
After one listen to Follow the Train’s A BREATH OF SIGH, there’s no denying their influences: Afghan Whigs, The Cure, Joy Division, The Replacements, and, in general I’d say, the overall aesthetic of John Hughes. They are not unique in this regard. Plenty of bands continue to tread the familiar ground of the early indie greats, but it’s in the angle and the execution that Follow the Train manages to stand out from the pack. You won’t find sheening, over-produced hipster-bait here. Follow the Train write endearingly simple, stumbling odes to the finer things in life. The lovely “Endless Summer” sets things off on a nostalgic breeze, while “Flower” blooms into a striking love song. Tracks like “I’m Not Sorry” and “Thin in the Skin” demonstrate an inherent starkness to the overall sound of the album, as if each song was inspired from a black-and-white photo. Sometimes, there seem to be ghosts herein, benevolent beings for sure, but spooks nonetheless. My only complaint would be that the album is front-loaded – the first three tracks are just fantastic, and then it trends ever so slight downhill. Otherwise, a great record, one that has me thirsting for their (unfortunately posthumous) follow-up.
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Tracks
1. Endless Summer (5/5)
2. Flower (5/5)
3. I’m Not Sorry (5/5)
4. Thin in the Skin (4/5)
5. Up in Flames (4/5)
6. Kentucky (4/5)
7. Original Disconnect (5/5)
8. Afraid (3.5/5)
9. An Akward Lullaby (4/5)
10. Remember (4.5/5)

followthetrainFollow the Train
A Breath of Sigh; 2006
Darla Records

My Rating: 79/100

A breath of fresh air…

After one listen to Follow the Train’s A BREATH OF SIGH, there’s no denying their influences: Afghan Whigs, The Cure, Joy Division, The Replacements, and, in general I’d say, the overall aesthetic of John Hughes. They are not unique in this regard. Plenty of bands continue to tread the familiar ground of the early indie greats, but it’s in the angle and the execution that Follow the Train manages to stand out from the pack. You won’t find sheening, over-produced hipster-bait here. Follow the Train write endearingly simple, stumbling odes to the finer things in life. The lovely “Endless Summer” sets things off on a nostalgic breeze, while “Flower” blooms into a striking love song. Tracks like “I’m Not Sorry” and “Thin in the Skin” demonstrate an inherent starkness to the overall sound of the album, as if each song was inspired from a black-and-white photo. Sometimes, there seem to be ghosts herein, benevolent beings for sure, but spooks nonetheless. My only complaint would be that the album is front-loaded – the first three tracks are just fantastic, and then it trends ever so slight downhill. Otherwise, a great record, one that has me thirsting for their (unfortunately posthumous) follow-up.

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (4/5)

Tracks

1. Endless Summer (5/5)
2. Flower (5/5)
3. I’m Not Sorry (5/5)
4. Thin in the Skin (4/5)
5. Up in Flames (4/5)
6. Kentucky (4/5)
7. Original Disconnect (5/5)
8. Afraid (3.5/5)
9. An Akward Lullaby (4/5)
10. Remember (4.5/5)