Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Whitman at Gettysburg

Whitman at Gettysburg at the Image Journal Blog. Yes, two places at the same time. I'm special that way.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ten for a Quarter

Quick takes on my ten favorite albums from the first three months of 2010.

Anais Mitchell – Hadestown

A musical for way, way off Broadway, Anais Mitchell’s stunning folk opera succeeds on many levels. It’s a brilliant recasting of the Orpheus and Euridice myth. It’s a pointed political commentary on what may be the downtrodden, cash-strapped America of 1933, or the downtrodden, cash-strapped America of 2010. And it features some wondrous ensemble singing, from Mitchell as Euridice, from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon as a seductive Orpheus, from Ani DiFranco as Persephone, and, most notably, from gruff-voiced folkie Greg Brown, who imbues the lord of the underworld with both maniacal glee and Dick Cheney’s calculus of pragmatic deathdealing.

Brad Mehldau – Highway Rider

Jazz pianist Mehldau collaborates again with pop producer Jon Brion, and this time the results far exceed 2002’s tentative Largo. Brion brings the hip beats, and Joshua Redman lays down some silky sax lines, but it’s the interaction between Mehldau’s jazz trio and a full classical orchestra that really stuns. Most Third Wave albums are snoozefests. Not this one. It’s a seamless merger of jazz, pop, and classical music, and it threatens to give the Jazz-Classical hybrid a good name.

Carolina Chocolate Drops – Genuine Negro Jig

The Mississippi Sheiks, who had their heyday in the 1920s and 1930s, aren’t exactly prime hipster fare. So the fact that Carolina Chocolate Drops pay homage to them, and to other ancient black string bands, probably won’t win them any kudos in Brooklyn. But they succeed admirably in both drawing attention to neglected music and in pushing back the old boundaries, reviving several classic tunes, adding a handful of originals that are almost indistinguishable from the old material, and completely reworking Blu Cantrell’s 2001 R&B smash “Hit ‘Em Up Style” as a hoedown.

Jaga Jazzist – One Armed Bandit

Once upon a time, long, long ago, jazz fusion did not elicit memories of noodling sax players and tame instrumental R&B. Jaga Jazzist is intent on reviving those old memories. One Armed Bandit is the kind of freewheeling, genre-defying, virtuosic album that Mahavishnu Orchestra and Miles Davis used to release in the early ‘70s. These guys have chops aplenty, led by Lars Horntveth’s dazzling keyboard work. But more impressively, they are bursting with creative ideas. The only criticism is that they sometimes try to do too much in too little time. But that’s a problem I’ll gladly live with.

Nick Curran and the Lowlifes – Reform School Girl

They don’t make records like this anymore. For that matter, they really haven’t made them since 1957, back when Little Richard was ripping it up and the pre-Army Elvis was making all the little girls weak in the knees. So if Nick Curran is guilty of little more than a revival of the rockabilly revival, which he is, it should also be noted that it’s hard to improve on unapologetic, manic rock ‘n roll. Cool stuff, daddy-o.

Scout Niblett – The Calcination of Scout Niblett

Niblett’s minimalistic approach – to say that she “solos” on the guitar would be charitable – simply leaves more room to appreciate the ferocious songwriting, wherein our intrepid heroine engages in breathtaking self-loathing, bitter invective, and an emotionally raw tug-of-war between the need for change and the ever-present pull to surrender to the void. This long and challenging album sounds like a suicide note from a Mississippi juke joint. But I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong.


Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago

Except for a couple songs where Jonathan Meiburg indulges his inner Broadway star, The Golden Archipelago is understatedly lovely and contemplative. But it’s in those dramatic dynamic shifts where Shearwater excels. The transition from the exquisite calm of “Hidden Lakes” to the percussive explosion of “Corridors” is the stuff of open-mouthed wonder. This is another very fine album in an increasingly impressive catalogue.

The Tallest Man on Earth – Wild Hunt

Dylan ’64 has already been done a thousand times, and furious acoustic strumming and high nasal vocals are usually enough to make me lose interest quickly. But what if, you know, somebody actually did Dylan ’64 about as well as Dylan did it back in 1964? And what if English wasn’t even his native language? Meet Sweden’s Kristian Matsson, AKA The Tallest Man on Earth. He’s foolin’ you. He’s only about 5’9”. But he sure sounds like Dylan ’64.

These New Puritans Hidden

TNP’s 2008 debut Beat Pyramid was a fine post-punk album that was deeply indebted to Radiohead’s Kid A. Join the alienated throngs, kids. But it was no real preparation for Hidden, which skitters off in the same paranoid electronic direction, but then quickly detours into neo-classical territory with children’s choirs and heavy orchestration. “We Want War” is the best thing I’ve heard this year, even if it is utterly uncategorizable. Imagine John Lydon sneering to the accompaniment of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, and you’re close.

Titus Andronicus – The Monitor

Ah, angry youth. Here Patrick Stickles can barely contain his disdain for anything and everything; principally his elders, the lousy economy, the broken American Dream, and the whole toxic state of New Jersey. Yelping with abandon, stringing together snippets of songs into ten- and fifteen-minute rants, and incorporating various rowdy Celtic bar band riffs and singalong choruses courtesy of The Pogues and Dropkick Murphys, Stickles and his drunken cohorts simply deliver a glorious mess. Album of the year? So far.

Honorable Mentions

Anders Osborne – American Patchwork
Citay – Dream Get Together
Drive-By Truckers – The Big To-Do
Eryka Badu – New Amerikah, Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh
Fionn Regan – The Shadow of an Empire
Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks
The Holmes Brothers – Feed My Soul
Son Lux – The Weapons EP
Spoon – Transference
Surfer Blood – Astro Coast
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks
Tindersticks – Falling Down a Mountain

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Alex Chilton

Like 99.999999% of the world, I paid no attention to Big Star when they were actually a recording and touring band. I recall seeing #1 Record in a music store when it was released. It was Big Star's s debut album, and my first exposure to the band, and I remember being vaguely amused by the audacity of a bunch of unknown musicians who would dare to call themselves Big Star and name an album #1 Record. But that was the extent of my interest. I certainly wasn't going to buy it. Who the hell had ever heard of Big Star?

And that was the way it went. Nobody bought the three albums the band released. The band broke up. Chris Bell, who may have been Alex Chilton's equal as a songwriter (and that's really saying something) died young and tragically in an auto accident. Nobody knew who Alex Chilton was except perhaps a few rabid music fans who remembered his soulful vocals as a teenager in The Boxtops.

I'm fairly sure it was Michael Stipe who brought the band to my attention. Somewhere in the early '80s, in the flush of those first few, great R.E.M. albums, I recall reading Stipe's admiring comments about Alex Chilton and Big Star. Since, at the time, I thought R.E.M. could no wrong, I tracked down vinyl copies of the three Big Star albums. They were, and are, enigmatic and marvelous. There were great songs there, for sure. But it was weird to hear these Memphis kids with their blatant Anglophilia. It was as if The Beatles had landed in the cotton fields. The first album was a pristine but derivative homage to Beatlemania. The second album was sloppy and loud, and utterly compelling and melodically brilliant. And the third album was just a dissolute, despairing mess. It was hard to believe that all three albums came from the same band.

But that was Alex Chilton. He was a superb pop craftsman who didn't give a flying fuck most of the time. He conveyed an air of cynical nonchalance: in the studio, on stage, in real life. And he wrote songs of such incredible depth and self-loathing that they could break your heart. He frittered away most of the good years, and I love him dearly. And now he, too, is gone too soon. Rolling Stone Magazine put all three of the Big Star albums -- and there were only three, as far as I was concerned, although later and inferior incarnations of the band put out a few others -- in their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. They were right. As Paul Westerburg of The Replacements sang, "Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton." As usual, he exaggerated. Even in their belated renaissance, Big Star were never more than a cult favorite. But he still got it right in spirit. The tens of thousands who finally paid attention, far too late, know that Alex Chilton was one of the greats. I'll miss him, and this is a sad day.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Titus Andronicus

I am listening to The Monitor by Titus Andronicus. There are moments on this album (and the whole last half of "Four Score and Seven" is one such instance) where I want to rise up from my cubicle and smite the corporate assholes hip and thigh with great slaughter, rain down bitter invective on all the money-grubbing, soulless, capitalist automatons, including Wall Street bankers and accountants of every persuasion and the rent-a-pennant New York Yankees, to call out for justice for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and to hoist a defiant middle finger to everyone with an MBA, myself included. You've got to watch yourself when you listen to this at work. What an album. Rock and roll.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bacon

h/t to John McCollum.

You know, if he had unveiled this new logo in 2008 I would have voted for him. Put that baby between two slices of bread, add lettuce and tomato, and you've got yourself a sammich. Who doesn't love bacon?

A BLT on every plate! McCain in 2012!


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Titus Andronicus -- The Monitor

I have a friend who is convinced that rebellious youth, as a cultural demographic group, didn’t really exist until the rise of relatively contemporary media such as film and television. And rock ‘n roll, of course. We can’t forget rock ‘n roll. According to this theory, kids were by and large docile, compliant creatures until they reached adulthood, at which point they assumed their rightful place as productive members of society. It all went to hell in the fifties and sixties. Then, under the influence of the powerful and pernicious media, kids were conditioned to believe that their elders were malevolent beings whose primary goal was to tame their nascent individualism and squeeze the life out of them. The only recourse, if you were a kid, was rebellion, escape, the desperate but noble pursuit of freedom. Hence free sex, Woodstock, drug abuse, Marilyn Manson, Columbine, etc. It’s been a steep downhill descent.

He may be crazy. But he certainly wouldn’t like New Jersey punks Titus Andronicus or their latest album The Monitor. This is “Born to Run” and “God Save the Queen” more than thirty years down the line, and if it’s steeped in the knowledge that there may not be anywhere to run, and that “no future” may be more true than ever, it’s nevertheless one continuous, noisy, contentious argument for the necessity of youthful rebellion. Or, as lead singer/songwriter Patrick Stickles sings, multiple times on multiple songs throughout this very long album, “The enemy is everywhere.” Be ever vigilant, wary youth.

There’s an ostensible American Civil War thread running through the mess. Good luck trying to follow it. The album title refers to the Yankee ironclad ship that defeated the Confederate behemoth The Merrimack in the Battle of Hampton Roads, which also happens to be the title of the epic punk closer on the album. There are songs called “A More Perfect Union” and “Four Score and Seven,” titles that reference Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. In between we get spoken-word pieces quoting Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman. All well and good, and even consistent with the theme. But then we get a song called “Richard II,” who was, if my memory serves, hunching around Merrye Old England almost 500 years before the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter. Then we have a song that namechecks Bruce Springsteen. And another one called “Theme from Cheers,” as in the TV sitcom, not what the brave men in blue and grey might have said to one another as they hoisted their tankards on the night before battle.

In other words, as concept albums go, this one is shot to hell even without the many references to warfare. It doesn’t really matter. Stickles is pissed off about everything – his lousy life, the poisonous state of New Jersey, the broken promises of his elders, the American Dream that has degenerated into the American nightmare – and he howls his debauched tales in much the same manner as Paul Westerburg and Joe Strummer did, elderly rebels before him. His band sounds well lubricated, loud, sloppy, and defiant, and these songs – most of which stretch beyond the seven minute mark, and one of which extends beyond the fourteen minute mark – set out to be nothing less than the definitive Anthems of Disaffected Youth. To say that they are overblown and indulgent largely misses the point. Of course they’re overblown and indulgent. But they pack a wallop, both lyrically and sonically, and they seethe with righteous indignation:

This is a war we can't win
After 10,000 years, it's still us against them
And my heroes have always died at the end
So who's going to account for these sins?

And I don't know who here is my friend
Well, I'm certain that I've seen only men
Christ, fuck me if I can remember when
Will I never be lonely again?

Well the tides are a-turnin' once more
Six dark-winged devils line up at my door
Each one is more evil than that which came before
Seven angels fly me across the floor

You believe you're a star
And I'll admit that it's worked out pretty well so far
But when they see the kind of person that you really are
Then you won't be laughing so hard
No, you won't be laughing so hard
You won't be laughing so hard

"We're all depraved and disgusting" I spew like a fountain,"
And debased, defaced, disgraced and destroyed,
"Most of all disappointed" I say atop this mountain
As I urinate into the void

Fuck, I'm frustrated, freaking out something fierce

Would you help me, I'm hungry, I suffer and I starve
Oh I struggle and I stammer 'til I'm up to my ears
In miserable quote unquote art.

But ever since our forefathers came on this land
We've been coddling those we should be running through
Please don't wait around for them to come and shake hands
They're not gonna be waiting for you

'Cause these humans treat humans like humans treat hogs
They get used up, coughed up, and fried in a pan
But I wasn't born to die like a dog,
I was born to die just like a man
I was born to die just like a man!

It's still us against them
And they're winning

I don’t know. I’m thinking my friend is still wrong. Along with Patrick Stickles, I’m thinking that the bastards are still out there in force, and that there still may be one or two things worth rebelling against. I hope it goes without saying that this is one fantastic album; deeply flawed and utterly compelling, raw and poetic, tender and desperate, yet another reminder of why the kids still need to get out while they’re young. You go, kid.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Just This Side of Pretentious

There is Close to the Edge (see ‘70s prog rockers Yes on the album of the same name). And then there is Over the Edge (see ‘70s prog rockers Yes on Tales from the Topographic Oceans). And it behooves musicians to know where the line is, and to stop on the right side of it. You go over the cliff if you mess it up. As a general rule, if the words “Suite” or “Opus” appear in a song title, or if songs employ Roman numerals, there’s a good chance that the line has been crossed. And it’s a long way down.

Discernment really is important. Too much pomp and circumstance and you can end up with an ostentatious mess (see Newsom, Joanna for contemporary reference). But stay on the right side of the line and you can end up with an album that defies conventions and pushes creative boundaries. Here are two albums that have their headscratching moments, but which stay on the right side of the line, stopping just short of pretentious.

These New Puritans – Hidden

Now here's a surprise. I liked These New Puritans' 2008 debut Beat Pyramid well enough. It was a good Public Image Ltd. and Wire post-punk homage. But I wasn’t prepared for this.

“This” includes oboes and bassoons, trombones and tubas, Japanese percussion, a children’s choir, and a phalanx of vibraphones. Everything about that previous sentence screams “overblown,” but lead singer/songwriter Jack Barnett and his Southend, Essex bandmates push the music in decidedly unconventional and surprisingly varied directions, mixing up the influences to take in minimalist composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass, the hushed, introspective piano jazz of Bill Evans, the skittering beats of electronica stalwarts Autechre and Boards of Canada, and the sobering austerity of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. There are echoes of the past, to be sure, but the end result is unlike anything I’ve ever heard; classical electronica fueled by poetic paranoia. Barnett dispenses Kid A-influenced menacing non sequiturs, the horns and woodwinds sway gently in the background, and the skittish drums and electronica blips and beeps suggest a dystopian nightmare. It’s a brave new musical world, and it’s an early contender for album of the year.

Anais Mitchell – Hadestown

And for those who prefer their mythology as folk opera (look, it’s easier to digest than Ovid), Vermont native Anais Mitchell offers Hadestown, a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice story set in what might be the America of the Great Depression, and what might be the America of 2010.

What we have here is a classic Greek tragedy dressed up as an American morality play and political editorial, and backed by musical accompaniment that ranges from folk ballads to indie rock, from ragtime to jazz, from blues to country. Whew.

This is the kind of musical offering that can just crush one’s hopes for a People’s Choice Award, but it’s a superb and frequently entertaining re-envisioning of a classic tale that also happens to be a ripping good story. Mitchell, who has a bit of namesake Joni’s soulful soprano in her vocals, sings the role of Eurydice beautifully, while Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon sings the role of Orpheus and brings an unexpected tenderness to several lovely songs. Other performers include Ani DiFranco as Persephone, The Low Anthem’s Ben Knox Miller as Hermes, and veteran gruff-voiced folkie Greg Brown as Hades. Jazz bassist Charlie Haden’s kids – Petra, Rachel, and Tanya – function as the Fates, and offer pointed, ironic commentary on the action. It’s a surpassingly strange and moving work, quite unlike any music I’ve ever encountered, and further evidence that weird can be wonderful, particularly when the lyrics are as insightful and the music as beautiful as this.

Johnny Cash -- American VI: Ain't No Grave

My review of Johnny Cash's final album American VI: Ain't No Grave is up at the Paste website.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Kids Are Alright

Every so often I venture forth from my cubicle and encounter the wider world. I emerge, blinking in the unaccustomed brilliance of natural light (to call it “sunlight” would be a little too optimistic in central Ohio), and make my way to educational institutions, usually to speak about music. That’s happened twice recently, once at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and once at Mosaic High School in downtown Columbus, Ohio. I always enjoy this. As best I can tell, the kids enjoy it, too, although they may just be feigning interest so they can get a good grade on the “What I Thought of the Guest Speaker” paper they have to write when I leave.

OU was a surreal time. I spent four of the best and worst years of my life in Athens, Ohio, and eventually matriculated, my worthless Creative Writing degree in hand. My youngest daughter goes to school there now. So it was a bit weird showing up at Scripps Hall, the journalism school, a place where I spent exactly 0 hours, and speaking to the would-be music journalists about a lucrative future in music journalism. I was joined by Columbus buddies Joel Oliphint and Dana Stewart, who write about music for local rags, and a guy named Jeff, who covers the music scene in Cleveland.

Our panel discussion was fun, freewheeling, and uninhibited. I still don’t think the kids actually believe that they will be working at Starbucks after they graduate. That’s okay. I wouldn’t have believed it at twenty-one, either. Twenty-three, maybe. That’s “Venti,” pronounced “Venty.” Remember the word, kids.

It was a fun social time. I got to hang out with my daughter Rachel. I got to hang out with Leo DeLuca, drummer and corporate Svengali for the wondrous Athens band Southeast Engine. I got to hang out with Chris Pyle, who runs Donkey, the best coffeehouse in the U.S. At Donkey they just say “Large.” I like it better that way. I got to chat with the owners of Haffa’s Records, which was there in Athens back in the Ford and Carter administration days, and which is still there. It was great to spend time with Joel and Dana, and with Joel’s brother Jared.

Then the assembled four music journalists got to judge a Battle of the Bands. A Battle of the Bands? Really? Apparently so, because the aspiring music journalists corralled us all into the Union Bar to listen to four bands. One was a high school version of Fugazi. The other three were decent to good, for different reasons. And eventually we picked a winner, resulting in crushing disappointment that turned into surly booing on the part of the fans of one of the bands that didn’t win. Remind me not to participate in a Battle of the Bands again if the bizarre notion ever enters my head. To the fans of that losing band: It’s okay. It had a good beat. You could dance to it. I’d give it an 82.

Mosaic High School, a week later, was a more concentrated version of Athens. I met high school English teacher Steve Shapiro, who plays in a rock ‘n roll band and reads Paste. That was great fun. I talked with an insanely bright group of high school juniors and seniors. I played some songs and talked about them. I read something I had written. I fielded questions. I had kids reviewing the contents of my iPod, trying to determine if I actually knew what I was talking about. I had aspiring songwriters and band members ask me to listen to their material. I talked to a poor, deluded young woman who wants to be a music critic. Perhaps I’ll see her down the line in Athens. It was a blast.

The kids are alright. I actually hold them in great affection, even the ones who organize Battle of the Bands contests. I’m thankful to be able to venture out occasionally.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

50 For 40

I surveyed my iPod to put together a playlist of, for lack of a better term, my favorite songs of the past forty years. I ended up with 50, a nice round number.

Why forty years? Because that pushes us back to 1970, intentionally skipping the '60s. We've all watched the VH1 Greatest Songs countdowns, and read the canonical Rolling Stone History of Rock. And I, for one, am tired of seeing lists dominated by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan. Don't get me wrong. I love those folks. But the 1970 barrier forces us to pass by most of the acknowledged classics.

A couple other caveats:

-- I focused on "pop" and "rock." I don't have any jazz, blues, country, or hip-hop here, and there's precious little soul. A broader list would certainly include those genres, but the list was tough enough for me to compile as it was.

-- It's a pretty white list, and it's a list dominated by Americans and Brits. This leaves me wide open to the charge of Good Ol' Boy Chauvinism. I don't know precisely why that is. If I had ventured back to the fifties and sixties, there would have been a more representative sample of African American greats. And certainly if I had included jazz and blues it would have been more diverse. But as it is, it's a singer/songwriter list, with a smattering of punks and guitar slingers. To rectify the situation somewhat, the graphic at the upper left includes a picture of Barack Obama and a Bob Dylan song featuring a woman's name.

-- The '80's were not the greatest musical decade for me. That's just the way it is.

But here's what I ended up with. How about you?

1970s

Tired of Being Alone – Al Green
Every Picture Tells a Story – Rod Stewart
Percy’s Song – Fairport Convention
Baby Blue – Badfinger
The Last Time I Saw Richard – Joni Mitchell
Listen to the Lion – Van Morrison
September Gurls – Big Star
The Return of the Grievous Angel – Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris
Farther On – Jackson Browne
Place to Be – Nick Drake
Cortez the Killer – Neil Young
Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen
God Save the Queen – The Sex Pistols
Blitzkrieg Bop – The Ramones
Heroes – David Bowie
Deacon Blues – Steely Dan
This Year’s Girl – Elvis Costello
Teenage Kicks – The Undertones

1980s

What I Like About You – The Romantics
Gloria – U2
A Million Miles Away -- The Plimsouls
April Fool’s Day Morn – Loudon Wainwright III
Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six – The Pogues
Bastards of the Young – The Replacements

1990s

There She Goes – The La’s
I Believe In You – Talk Talk
Chickamauga – Uncle Tupelo
Fake Plastic Trees – Radiohead
Echoes Myron – Guided By Voices
1952 Vincent Black Lightning – Richard Thompson
The Mercy Seat – Nick Cave
The Lakes of Canada – The Innocence Mission
Star Sign – Teenage Fanclub
Moses – Patty Griffin
I Can’t Remember – Vigilantes of Love
Tired of Sex – Weezer
Fort Worth Blues – Steve Earle
Windfall – Son Volt
Holland, 1945 – Neutral Milk Hotel

2000s

Don’t Let Me Go – Michael Penn
Fell In Love With a Girl – The White Stripes
One Great City! – The Weakerthans
Hate to Say I Told You So – The Hives
Casimir Pulaski Day – Sufjan Stevens
Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation – Joe Henry
Glenn Tipton – Sun Kil Moon
Hey Ya – Outkast
Glosoli – Sigur Ros
Stuck Between Stations – The Hold Steady

Monday, March 01, 2010

Frightened Rabbit -- The Winter of Mixed Drinks

It's been a year and a half since the band with the silly name of Frightened Rabbit made a serious dent in my musical sensibilities. Now it's time for the dreaded followup to the breakthrough album.

My initial reaction was and is disappointment. Not because The Winter of Mixed Drinks is a bad record. It's not. But The Midnight Organ Fight was such a rare album, simultaneously raw and soaring, that I suspect any followup would be disappointing for me.

There are many praiseworthy elements. I think Scott Hutchison is the most captivating, passionate rock vocalist since the early Bono. The hooks just won't quit, the lyrics remain quirky and non-cliched (for the most part), and there's a huge, anthemic sound here that clearly wants to reach the back of very large arenas. The negatives? It's unfocused. It's a collection of pop/rock tunes. There's nothing wrong with that, but TMOF had such a compelling forward momentum, highlighted by the worst of breakups, suicidal self-loathing, and, finally, a resolution to carry on in the midst of the shite, that it felt both exhausting and exhiliarating. This one? Nice songs. Most significantly, the production bothers me. A lot. I'll probably get used to it. But I think I've gone on record a few times in noting that I'm not a fan of Lanois/Eno production, and this sounds like The Joshua Tree Grows in Glasgow.

I love this band. There is every indication that this is the album that will break them big, and they deserve it. It's huge in every way. And, as I did when I first heard U2's War and realized that the rock 'n roll landscape was about to be permanently altered, there is a part of me that is a bit saddened. Call it the Inevitable Wow Factor, and call it slightly diminished returns.