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What a fantastic review. This has been one of my most underrated albums of the past 20 years.
I think this review is thoughtful and fair. But for me Born to Die works. I see it as a beautiful exploration of the empty life. Its thinness is an intentional criticism; it clutches at despair and dark revelry like a lifeline; it conveys someone drowning in misguidedness. If it were a simple celebration of the decadent life I would agree that there was nothing here worth seeing. But in my opinion it captures a Modernist sensibility perfectly. We didn't have rock n' roll when Hopper was painting and Hemmingway was writing, but Lana Del Rey gives us the modern music equivalent of that experience in a way that hasn't been done as artfully in years. While I prefer artists who celebrate the transcendent and the good, I also find a sad beauty in those who can convey the lost life in a way that illuminates the truth of the good. and show the shadow cast by its absence.
Great piece, Dharma!
For me, it's not so much a stylistic thing, it's more that they've become caricatures of themselves thematically, as my review gets at (http://www.mulevariations.com/reviews/killers-battle-born). "It’s like the band forgot that archetypes are only powerful to the extent that individuals connect with them. And this is why, in order to be powerful, they need to be infused with personal stories which embody them. On their own, archetypes tend to devolve into the kinds of meaningless platitudes and forgettable generalizations that are all over Battle Born." (Yes, I just quoted myself).
Just saw them again on the Battle Born tour here in Denver. This album is an example of how, sometimes, solo projects get in the way. This band that has made cool, energetic-yet-not-heavy music, moved into a pop-ballad mode that just didn't click this time around. I blame Brandon Flowers' dalliance with Flamingo, which was the genesis of this 'soft pop' version of the Killers. It showed throughout Battle Born, and poked holes in their live show as well. I want more from them next time around. Let's hope this is just a bump in the road rather than a sign of things to come...
I bought it for $22.00 in Seattle at Bop Street Records. I don't really know how to value records other than looking for marks on the cardboard, listening to the quality of the play, and having the original sleeve (which this one didn't). Given that it is only from 97, I'm assuming it is not a re-issue. Tough to tell with newer vinyl cuz they've all got bar codes. It felt at least 10 years old, and it was worth at least 22.00 to me. I've got a vinyl problem lately, and I've been buying a lot on-line and elsewhere. I just purchased Strangers Almanac for around 15.00 on Amazon a couple days ago. I prefer to spend less and buy from local record stores and flee markets, but it's hard to find what you really want. Lucky Now on Ashes and Fire has a retrospective feel to it. Adams' biggest problem now is "waiting outside while [she] finds [her] keys." He seems to not believe who he's actually become, but he's content with his life's simplicity. I don't think Ashes and Fire is his middle-aged masterpiece, but it at least signals a change and acceptance of leaving his wild-boy days behind him.
Read Sabyrtooth's letter back to the press here: http://www.vice.com/read/its-not-paranoia-when-its-real
Wait a second, you got Sound of Lies on vinyl!?! I just checked on eBay and there was one copy for sale for like $300... Anyway, I appreciate your comments! It is weird how we go back to things we liked when we were younger and wonder why they meant so much. Eventually though, they still hold meaning exactly because they meant something to us then. The songs especially become autobiographical, reminded us of where we were and what we felt. And I like that you got that Ryan Adams reference, considering he's not even mentioned in the article. :) He'll be ready for his own middle-aged masterpiece pretty soon!
As always, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your essay, and I now have the final track on Easy Tiger stuck in my head. A couple reactions/comments: First, I think that nostalgia as a marketing model has reached an extreme. The aging rockers who cashed in on it in the 90's were recreating the ethos of the 60's/70's. Today, we have shows on rotation on VH1 that recall the 00's as if it is a bygone era that has withstood the test of time...There are "where were you when you first heard the Thong Song?" moments. Nostalgia diarrhea. My second reaction is to regard music in the same way I might revisit a book I read in college. Perspective inevitably changes with age. I recently re-read The Wild Palms [If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem] by Faulkner, a novel I had enjoyed probably 8 years ago. My reading experience was very different this time around because I was no longer a 22-year-old just out of college. You are correct that old music resonates in new ways as we age. Finally, I find myself searching for music that I may have missed when I was younger. I didn't have the benefit of coming from a musically immersed family with good sensibilities. There are several gems from the 90's that I missed while I was listening to The Smashing Pumpkins, Bush and Oasis. It's funny you mentioned Sound of Lies. I just purchased that on vinyl in an amazing record store I visited during a trip to Seattle (Bop Street Records). Great work, Josh. There's much more to consider, but I'll leave it at that.
she's not credited on the CD, but she made her presence known on stage!! Woop woop!
I loved them! I bought a 7 track sampling of their funk samples and breaks from well-known grooves. The current drummer Josh Cohen is not the same as the guy I remember from backstage - he was Black and had dreds. Where is that guy in the picture given here? I thought he was the drummer anyway. That female singer who collaborates with them, she's in the picture. What's her name?
Hey, I'm so glad that you got your hands on Dale's and you plan to execute the pairing. Sounds really fun, wish I were there! I thought the shows were of outstanding caliber too, I heard that Friday night had been a special treat too, with the hidden acronym in the setlist for kicks. Also, no, I haven't heard of Baxter's Stowaway. New England beer is it? Right now I'm trying a seasonal edition of Colorado origins: New Belgium's Red Hoptober which is awesome! It's more dark and less indian, but still very hoppy. Long live the boys from Vermont!
Great list! I agree wholeheartedly with your choices.
Nailed it, Dharma! I'm a huge Phish fan, and this is a great perspective on the band, and on two great beers. Fun to read. You saw one of the best shows of the tour! I just downloaded all the CO shows, stoked to listen. And I have some Dale's in the fridge right now! Lastly - have you ever tried Baxter's Stowaway IPA? Delicious.
"Yes, thank you Jacques Maritain" Ha! Love it.
Exactly, my friend. I love that you related those Dylan lyrics -- you are ahead of me there! I was talking about how Dylan loves the create myths about himself, and in that way, he can create whatever art he wants - he persona is malleable. I think this is the best album of the year so far, easily. And yeah, I was trying to draw the connection between the reality that we all 'accept' -- this virtual reality iphone bullshit we all buy into that actually pushes us apart -- and an artist who is stepping away from technology and making something real and lasting, imperfections and all.
We've got a leaked track from the forthcoming Come On Pilgrim! album: REGENERATOR. Enjoy.
Mr. Sousa - I enjoyed this review a whole lot. So, were you saying in paragraph 6 opening -when you finally mentioned the album being reviewed- that listeners can make a connection with reality that transcends their smartphone and login experiences where interractions are basically calculated, somewhat shallow - only a blurry reflection of real life experience? Is that sort of on base? I'm listening to the album and looking for those engagement points. I have heard "Love Interruption" almost daily on the radio and it seemed like an instant classic - maybe I thought it was the White Stripes at first. What is that instrument, an oboe? Anyway, "stick a knife in me and twist it all around" is very familiar from Blood on the Tracks, which you eschewed, but "like a corkscrew to my heart, ever since we've been apart"... make of that what you will. I love the words you used: paradox, layered, explosive, enigma, quirky to describe Black or the music. It seems by the end that the enigma of his character can't be cracked by the listener, and that's okay with you; you love this album anyway.
to check if any readers have posted questions about life / beer / alcohol regulations in Utah... none so far. But, fire away! I'll do my best to answer.
Thank you for reminding me of the power of poetry. I, like a lot of people I suppose, am often swept away by the speed and lights of the digital age tend to overlook poetry. This was a stimulating and poetic refresher on the power of poetry. I especially enjoyed the bits about poetry living on and at the margins (“Poetry as a political impulse is not left wing. It’s about the margins.”) as well as the discussion on the meaning of irony. Thank you!
Check it: http://vimeo.com/44019957
Fascinating. Another perspective that this raises is the whole sort of "middle class" of musicians. I assume that the numbers cited on album sales in the two eras refers to artists on record labels. But before the modern paradigm, if you were not on a record label, it seems to me that it was almost impossible to make money at all, much less make a living. But the thing that is (at least theoretically) possible now is for bands without label support to actually record good music, sell it without label and radio support, book shows, and potentially make a living (or at least some $). So I suspect that while the new era might not be any better for successful bands or bands with label support, it probably does offer many more bands who never would have won the record label lottery the opportunity to achieve moderate success (and with greater artistic freedom, as the article pointed out)...