There are times when I wonder if I'll ever again be capable of feeling "at one" with today's music-buying audience!
Frankly, there have been recent occasions when I look at some of today's biggest bestsellers, and say--to myself, mind you, for I surely wouldn't want to alienate any of my many loyal readers--Good God, is it just my imagination, or is this current bestselling artist a talentless moron who has based his or her career entirely upon such flimsy concepts as his or her wealth, status, or public appeal rather than his or her innate musical talent?
At other times, I watch my TV and see pop music's biggest stars parading around onstage, lacking only the clown outfits they surely need, and ask myself, Whatever happened to those artists who I'd not only watch with fascination but, at times, even wish I could be?
But you know what? Things have changed after this weekend! I just watched the MTV Music Video Awards show--and my goal in life is to now dress like a man and kiss Britney Spears onstage!
Later, I figure we can go out for coffee, give each other blog-writing tips, and--if she's up for it--repeatedly tweet each other on the restaurant table!
Hah! That almost sounds kinky!
The Red Hot Chili Peppers: I'm With You (Warner Bros.) I don't think there's any denying that the new Red Hot Chili Peppers disc is their tenth album, features an absolutely fabulous picture of a common housefly perched upon a pill of some sort, a bunch of music featuring a conspicuously cracking rhythm section upon which a guy who has clearly had way too many voice lessons is singing over, and a brand new guitarist who is quite good--fits in very well--and has helped them make a brand new album every bit as good as we expected and then some! Incidentally, it might also be appropriate to point out that evolution is entirely disproven, the whole notion of "global warming" is a despicable fantasy put forth by evil scientists clamoring for government grants and handouts, and that blonde girls in red cars are generally more affable than overweight, tattooed guys in pick-up trucks! I've also noticed that this album sounds great when you're watching The Three Stooges on AMC! You just have to turn it down a little!
Lil Wayne: Tha Carter IV (Young Money/Cash Money) It's come to my attention that Lil Wayne recently introduced himself onstage in L.A. as "a 28-year-old self-made millionaire," which in my book makes him musically superior to nearly everyone there is! Heck! He must be great if he makes so much money! Besides, he's got tattoos! Plus, I just saw him on TV, but I forget where! My only fear: That he made his millions on a zany bet in Las Vegas that a mildly interesting rapper who continues to record albums dedicated to a now-unpopular Democratic president who once grew peanuts could sell an enormous amount of music via a plethora of mixtapes, an enviable marketing plan, and an overall palpable ennui which has taken this nation to a new, record-setting low! The sad truth? While Wayne himself is a musical titan, Lil Wayne--who reportedly stands all of four-and-a-half feet tall--barely measures up!
Lenny Kravitz: Black And White America (RoadRunner) Few would deny that at 6 years old, young Lenny Kravitz may have what it takes to make it big in the music business! For starters, he's into face painting! Plus, that whole "peace sign" thing is kind of cool! Additionally, he shares the same name as another rocker named Lenny Kravitz--who's a lot older, liked peace signs just as much, and enjoyed recycling other people's music for a while there until people finally lost interest! Imagine that! But to be honest, between that old actress on Bewitched and that creepy Richard Dreyfuss movie, I'd have suggested he change his name to Sugar Pie DeSanto, Jr. and wear a lot of plaid! That said, I really dig the shirt!
The Nightwatchman: World Wide Rebel Songs (New West) For the longest time, I used to tell people that I couldn't stand Rage Against The Machine because of their staggeringly obnoxious lead vocalist--but then it suddenly struck me that I was implying that without their lead vocalist, they might really have something going on! And that may have indeed been so! But unfortunately, Tom Morello--that band's lead guitarist and in fact the actual "Nightwatchman" himself--has continued his former band's tradition of singing songs about political topics that, to be blunt, aren't really the sort of things I want to be thinking about as I'm sitting alone in my living room, a tall drink in my hand, wondering about man's inhumanity to man and whether the version of The Hands Of Orlac that TCM is about to show is going to be the 1924 version or the 1960 one with Christopher Lee! But let's be realistic: that's no way to judge an album! Having an attractive girl on her knees on your album cover is! And we've got a winner!
Puddle Of Mudd: Re:(disc)overed (Flawless) ''We never put any cover songs on our records before, so it just seemed like something fun to do," says Wesley Scantlin, of much-admired Puddle Of Mudd! "Plus they're all hit songs, all timeless songs. Who wouldn't want to make a record like that?'' It's a fair question, Wesley, and it deserves a fair answer! So I asked my friend Larry, who just happened to be in the room with me while I was writing this, if he thought he'd want to put out an album featuring nothing but covers of songs by artists like Led Zeppelin, the Steve Miller Band, AC/DC, the Rolling Stones, and Elton John! "Gosh no," said Larry, clearly chagrined! "That would be a horrible sign of desperation! Of artistic bankruptcy! Of a band with questionable artistic validity who'd clearly run out of anything to say whatsoever! Say, where's the bottle-opener?" Ironically, it was in the kitchen drawer!
Tommy Stinson: One Man Mutiny (Done To Death) I can't say I had enormous expectations when I plopped on the latest album by Tommy Stinson--onetime Replacements member, whose checkered career in latter-day Guns N' Roses and his own band Bash & Pop weren't as memorable as one might've hoped--but I must express blatant admiration and some degree of wonderment at this entirely fine new album, which is textured, rocks, rolls, and at times sounds like Jules Shear sounding like Jackson Browne, however involuntarily, and is an entirely credible addition to the Replacements' distinguished legacy. Perhaps he should start a band!
David Guetta: Nothing But The Beat (Capitol) Most people who know me really well know that there's nothing I enjoy more than dressing up, going out on the town, hitting a few clubs, and dancing the night away! Well, except for stamp collecting! But I'm absolutely certain the next few weeks will involve repeated listenings to this great new album by producer/remixer/DJ David Guetta--featuring as it does guests like Flo Rida, Nicki Minaj, Taio Cruz, Jennifer Hudson, Lil Wayne, Jessie J, will.i.am, Akon, Usher and Timbaland! His first full album since his popular One Love, the disc is expertly produced, slick as a can of motor oil, and certain to fill dancefloors around the world! Best of all, were he to reissue the entire album stripped of everything but the rhythm track, no one could ever sue him! These new guys are so frickin' smart!
Devon Williams: Euphoria (Slumberland) A jewel of a record plucked from the increasingly fertile plethora of extremely solid, well-written and produced albums made by humans who simply want to make good music rather than appear on the MTV Video Awards show when they grow up! Tastefully textured, melodic, upbeat, melancholy--all the things that constitute a fine record you'll come back to repeatedly--Euphoria is completely charming, subtle, and the work of someone with serious songwriting chops. Personally, I like to look at the cover and pretend I've been tied to the ground by the inhabitants of Lilliput! How about you?
Tommy Keene: Behind The Parade (Second Motion) A few months ago, due to an unexpected flood and the urgent need to clean some of my vinyl records, I pulled out some older "power pop" records by dudes like Mr. Keene, the late Tommy Hoehn, Van Duren, Cargoe, and others of their ilk and...I was surprised at how much I still liked them. Mr. Keene, who has never really gone away since the early '80s, was most recently represented by You Hear Me: A Retrospective 1983-2009, an excellent 2-CD retrospective, and continues on in fine style here with his latest set--which like all of his material, will likely sound equally contemporary 50 years from now. Sadly, we won't!
Ry Cooder: Pull Up Some Dust & Sit Down (Nonesuch) I am so tired of these old guys ordering us around!