Assumer Guide: Biology Dropouts And Action Figures
As Consumer Guide creator Robert Christgau once noted, there is so much recorded media coming forth every day, the idea that one would be able to listen to all of it is physically impossible. So we’ve taken the sage advice of gonzo rock writer Richard Meltzer to heart. Meltzer, ever the curmudgeon, considered promo albums precious commodities–provided you didn’t break the shrinkwrap on ’em, as doing so reduced their resale value. After the click-through, Andy Beta judges four new albums without even cracking open their covers.
PICK–Gonzales: Solo Piano (Sunnyside) Mexico’s answer to Erik Satie has never emerged from his Mexico City smogging, much less gotten over that one time when he was visiting Paris and un coq sold him a sack of schwag for 50 Euros. This sixteen-part piano recital is based on said incident, and how listening to David Crosby’s similar tale “Everyone’s Been Burned” (that giant cone on the front symbolizes Gonzales’s body) marks each conflicted emotion, from being sober and lost (“Bermuda Triangle”) to that murderous rage felt while standing on the beach (“The Tourist”). He issues a “Gentle Threat” to those freedom-hating “Paristocrats” and, of course, shows them Eurotrash by blazing said “Oregano.” A-
Frog Eyes: Tears of the Valedictorian (Absolutely Kosher) Graduating from a liberal-arts stronghold in the Northeast can make anyone tear up, especially since said ceremonies land squarely during allergy season. And boring real-world degrees in such fields as policy, oil, and political reform (“The Policy Merchant,” “Reform the Countryside,” “Evil Energy”) are pure drudgery. No amount of Old Testament portraiture or wholesale ripping off of Raymond Pettibon’s ink drawings can freshen up such a stale dorm room. For these biology dropouts to pretend that there’s something rocking in it is a crime though. What the world doesn’t need is another band of weepy grads pretending they can change the world. B-
Through the Sparks: Lazarus Beach (Skybucket Records) This husband-and-wife duo faced a quandary when shooting the cover of their third CD. Should the Mimakakis open up the original packaging of their Arrested Development action figures (in this case, Michael Bluth and his mother Lucille) so as not to fall short in their re-creation of that one scene wherein the Bluths discover that their Sudden Valley Ranch homes also appeared amid the Iraqi oilfields? Too bad: Removing the plastic molds sent their Bluth stock plummeting. (Plus Lucille looks more like Nancy Reagan.) Too late: The band chucks its childish things into the “Action Figure Graveyard.” C
DUD –Bill Callahan: Woke On a Whaleheart (Drag City) American sweetheart Joanna Newsom’s twenty-fifth entry in her alphabet-based opera cycle, Ys, was such a hit that even one of her back-up singers, a baritone named Bill Callahan, went the K-Fed route and got a record deal out of it. Rather than engage in similarly spun yarns with his gf’s pluckiness, puckish B-Call instead slurps down saccharine breakfast cereal and watches too many Saturday morning cartoons, resulting in these jittery ADD-addled sample-heavy collages. Such a concoction makes his sampler puke. And who really needs a cartoon recreation about how a certain Fairie Queene Newsom wakes up on Moby Dick? D-