Hot Summer Releases
Thom Yorke – The Eraser
Here’s a little bit of history, just in case you’re twelve years old or something: There once was a band called Radiohead who made two pop-rock albums, followed by a gigantic nerd opus called OK Computer that set the world’s population of dweebic collegiate brow-furrowers on fire like so many lighters at a Bon Jovi encore. After that, Thom Yorke had a stroke and forgot how to make words with his mouth, and Jonny Greenwood decided that he was too smart for tunes. Since then, they’ve been periodically plopping out bewildering hunks of semi-musical garbage which nerds pretend to enjoy in order to seem smart.
While Radiohead’s release schedule isn’t too regular, they are certainly prolific in one regard: the albums they occasionally do release are so jam-packed with stupid ideas that even the most voracious consumer of failure will be tided over for a good many years. However, within the constraints of a band so meticulous and perfectionist about giving each and every bad idea the mucous-shine of overwrought humorlessness, Thom Yorke found himself cooking up more bad ideas than could be accommodated by their plodding schedule. Nerds rejoice: Yorke’s po-faced pretension has finally burst the Radiohead dam, and a muddy tide of bad ideas is now spilling toward you like a tidal wave.
He looks more like Axl Rose with AIDS every year.
Unfettered by the musicality of his bandmates, Thom Yorke is now free to develop his music in whatever direction he sees fit. Judging by the prevailing sonic trends on The Eraser, that direction is “clicking and moaning.” While the record is comprised of approximately 45% clicks and 35% moans, Yorke puts his sonic genius on display by bunging the cracks with liberal smattering of beeps, bonks, shuffles, grating monotone loops, and a whirring cavalcade of sundry electronic nuisances.
Basically, imagine a Radiohead album with all the music removed and replaced by irritating, ticking bullshit.
Oh, silly me, that’s what the last three and a half Radiohead albums have sounded like anyway. How about this: imagine that Radiohead had all their musical instruments stolen and yet were contractually obligated to deliver an album in one hour.
You know what? This is all too complicated for something so fundamentally simple. Just imagine that Thom Yorke made a really boring, dashed-off solo album cobbled together exclusively from the worst elements of Radiohead’s recent career and lacking entirely in redeeming features. Now imagine Pitchfork Media ejaculating out their fingertips and every nerd you know not shutting the fuck up about it, ever. This record is seriously terrible, and when I say “seriously,” don’t mean that I’m serious about the album being terrible, I mean that the album is serious about being terrible.
Addendum: 22% of the letters in Thom Yorke’s name are superfluous. Fuck him.
Sonic Youth – Rather Ripped
Considering that at least four of the songs on this album sound exactly the same, you’ll feel “rather ripped” off when you buy this album! Ho ho! Somebody sell me to Jay Leno.
But seriously, I’m sure we’re all charmed that Sonic “Youth” have emerged from their veranda/rest home/Florida condo to grace us with this fine bit of geriatric noodling, but they’ll have to try harder than this to make guitars relevant again. Haven’t these coffin-dodgers heard the new Thom Yorke album? Guitars are out, clicking is in. Their pathetic devotion to making albums with things other than a laptop and a deep contempt for music puts them squarely in the dinosaur set.
Keane – Under the Iron Sea
I’d imagine there isn’t much overlap between the Your Band Sucks-reading demographic and the Keane-listening demographic, since the people who read my column are smug college-aged know-it-all assholes and the people who listen to Keane are retarded. There must be a lot more grocery-bagging money winding up in the hands of the mentally challenged then I thought, because they’ve pooled their spending money to buy up enough albums to make Keane into a commercial success.
Keane: Throwing Rings in Mountains for Retards
Their sophomore album continues their proud tradition of singing to the helmeted, sweat-pantsed, Velcro-walleted citizens of the world, making music so bland that it could not trip the hypersensitive “freak the fuck out” switch that every retardate has built into his psyche, which can be tripped by over-stimulation and tends to cause lots of yelling and flailing and knocking over of standing objects.
While cynical readers might choose to criticize Keane for their hobbit singer’s inconsequential crooning and for their ceaseless lyrical clichés and phoned-in musicianship, I believe that in providing artistic enjoyment to the differently abled, Keane does a fine service to our world. Also, girls love them (but who the fuck cares what girls think?).
Muse – Black Holes and Revelations
Last month, Muse royally pissed off their idiot fans by releasing a song that wasn’t yet another grandiose tornado of wild-eyed wailing and electro-baroque pomposity. After an industrious career of writing the same song fifty times, they wrote— god forbid— a different song. Any credit I might be tempted to give Muse for sticking it to dorks who like their usual material is instantly wiped away by the fact that their new single, “Supermassive Black Hole,” sounds like the Fatboy Slim remix of Lenny Kravitz imitating Prince. If you’re going to change your musical direction, Muse, try to avoid changing your direction off the edge of a goddamn cliff.
Elsewhere, the album remains true to the perennial Muse motto of “more is more,” and they are, as always, as overblown as Ron Jeremy’s flagellum in 1985. The album’s second single, “Knights of Cydonia,” sounds like the theme song to a wild-west Highlander sequel set in Freddie Mercury’s butt. To call the album “bombastic” would be a gross understatement. It’s so grandiose that it makes chandeliers and Faberge eggs obsolete. It’s so flamboyant that it makes Richard Simmons look like Humphrey Bogart. It’s so ostentatious that it would make Liberace’s finest jacket blush.
Muse: Elaborate Masturbation
When Muse engages in musical masturbation, which is all the time, they go for broke. They don’t just “jerk off” like the average Joe; they spread out a tarp and set up five video cameras on tripods and set out little bottles of scented oil from far-flung regions of the Orient. They crank up one of those Martin Denny Exotica records and get fully nude and do things to themselves that would, if Caligula happened to walk into the room, make him throw up his hands and shout “enough!” They really explore their bodies.
Unfortunately, they seem to have forgotten that the more elaborate their music gets, the less it will tend to appeal to people with aesthetic sensibilities that don’t happen to value things like dragon shirts, Star Trek, and Mountain Dew commercials. They’re too pussy to be metal and too metal to be cool. Tragically, even when they slow their tempos or switch their styles, Muse is doomed to be incapable of the only thing that might save them from pure shit-rock oblivion: fucking toning it down a little.
The “black hole” is Matt Bellamy’s own darkling anus, into which he has been burrowing ever further since 1999, and the “revelation” is that they still fucking suck. Case closed.
Sufjan Stevens – The Avalanche: Outtakes & Extras from the Illinois Album
Twenty-one tracks of outtakes from a twenty-two track album? Who the fuck do you think you are, Sufjan? I don’t even care if it’s good, buster. We’ll tell you when we’re ready to hear your outtakes. Maybe in thirty years when the brain deterioration caused by cell phones has turned our children into drooling morons, they’ll canonize you as some kind of musical genius, and then you can dig through your cast-off tapes and pull out some crap that somebody, somewhere in the world, will be happy to hear.
Right now, though, I don’t know whether to be mad at you or embarrassed for you. First of all, like I already said, who the fuck, etc. Secondly, you’re devaluing your shit by releasing, you know, one hundred fucking percent of it. Hold some stuff back. Leave some cards hidden. I don’t care how charming and clean-cut you are, I don’t want to see your fucking waste products being coiled out, still steaming, into my local record store.