>One-Listen Review: "Dig Out Your Soul" by Oasis

>Ladies and gentlemen, the Sean Rose well is beginning to run dry. Have you noticed? Have you noticed that, despite being halfway through the month already, I’ve only been able to drudge up a whopping TWO posts?? Dear Lord, the music world is crumbling around me. I can’t think of anything to write about anymore. No stupid piddly little semi-obscure albums from the late 70’s to drool over. I can’t think of any more that would be shocking or original or show off my fantastically broad musical tastes without making me look like a self-important jackass.

So here’s my attempt to be modern: I’m listening to the new Oasis album. That’s the best I can do. No modern indie, no Vampire Weekend or Hold Steady or any of those hot young studs. Jesus, a Lil Wayne review would probably be more relevant to rock ‘n roll than friggin’ Oasis right now. BUT HERE I AM LISTENING TO NEW OASIS FOR SOME REASON.

I don’t even listen to Oasis. I kind of like “Cigarettes and Alcohol” as a guilty pleasure, even though (read: because?) it blatantly steals the main riff from “Bang a Gong.” “Some Might Say” and “Don’t Look Back In Anger” are still good songs. “She’s Electric” is a cute number. “Wonderwall” isn’t that great because Liam Gallagher has kind of an asshole of a voice – I don’t know why they didn’t have Noel sing more songs. His voice is much nicer!! But no, they stuck with Liam. Have you ever heard him sing the word “shine”? He sings it like “SHYYYYYYYYEENE.” It gets on your nerves after a while.

Listen, it’s OK if you sound like an asshole when you sing. Steve Malkmus sounds like an asshole 90 percent of the time and I love his voice to death. Liam Gallagher though, nahh. I don’t buy it.

How ’bout a quick Dig Out Your Soul questionnaire? I bet you are dying to hear about the new Oasis record.

I guess so?

Not yet.

“Shock of Lightning” is okay. Everything else sounds drenched in Britpopian murk right now.

Listen, I’ve never heard anything past Be Here Now. I don’t know Oasis. I’m not an Oasexpert. If you are an Oasis scholar, like those guys at allmusic or something, please send me and e-mail and let me know if the new Oasis record stands up to their earlier work. To me it’s all runtogether.


Well let’s take a look at my iTunes Recently Added, shall we??

Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul: Yeah moving on
AC/DC – Let There Be Rock: “Whole Lotta Rosie” is pretty rad. But then there’s “Problem Child” which I already have off Dirty Deeds? Why American record labels??
Vertical Horizon – “Best I Ever Had”: A classic VH ballad I completely forgot about. This song makes me realize that the 90’s alt-rock movement eventually turned into a more boring version of pop metal. This song could’ve easily been a Poison song. And probably would’ve been more exciting!!
AC/DC – Powerage: No not again.
AC/DC – Highway To Hell: YEAHHHHHHH
Big Black – Atomizer: Cool SCREECH SCREECH ARRGH album. But I haven’t heard it in a while. Steve Albini might be kind of a cynical dlick but he’s got a good sense of riffage! Just loud and noisy and all that.

Maybe I should amp up this blog. I’m getting more readership. My hits have been up to almost 100 people per day. Sure, they’re mostly people who are mistakenly referred here from a Michael Jackson album cover and stick around for less than or equal to five seconds a person, but HEY. MAKE I CAN MAKE THEM STICK AROUND!!



Bottom Line: Oasis. They’re Oasis. They have a new album out. I stopped listening to it. It’s alright I guess. If anybody wants to listen to the rest of the record after the “Falling Down” song, please send in your fantastic e-review. I would love to hear it.

Next week: More reminiscings on old video games I played as a kid that you probably don’t give a shit about! GET EXCITED!!

>Album Review: "Powerage" by AC/DC


No really it’s a good album, please don’t let the cover spook you!!

When I hear a song like “Riff Raff,” a key Powerage track, I become convinced that the reason AC/DC are so beloved is not that they pull out a great riff for almost every song they’ve ever done – it’s that they pull out three or four. In “Riff Raff” alone, there’s probably around five, maybe six if you count the bassline: there’s the opening guitar salvo, the main riff, that little uppity figure before each verse, the outro riff… one after the other, they just keep blasting through you relentlessly until you’re left thinking, “JEE-sus, cut it out! The song’s already awesome enough, you beautiful Aussie motherfuckers.”

Yes, in case you couldn’t tell, I’ve been in quite the AC/DC mood recently. Maybe it’s fleeting, and maybe by the time I’m finished with this post I’ll be completely sick of them. Maybe I’ll finally submit and say something stupid like, “UGH they just keep writing the SAME STUPID hard rock song OVER AND OVER.” But I don’t think I would just lie to myself like that.

Powerage doesn’t have any hits on it, which is probably why it’s one of AC/DC’s lesser-known releases – not to mention it was released before Highway to Hell and Back in Black, two of their most definitive and beloved releases. Powerage is what you could call AC/DC’s “cult” album, held in lovingly high regard by Bon Scott-era AC/DC aficionados. Since this was the band’s last album produced by Vanda/Young, tossed to the wayside in favor of the more mainstream Mutt Lange for the next few albums, people consider this to be their last “rough” album, offering a grittier sound beyond the poppy sheen of their later releases – their last “pure” album, some might say. This is all arguable – AC/DC have always had the same basic sound, rough or not, for their entire career – but it’s hard to argue that Powerage was overlooked, and it shouldn’t have been.

Just look at the album’s tracklisting. You’ve probably never heard any of these songs before (I sure hadn’t), but man, they’re almost all great. And in ways you might not even expect from a so-called “simple” hard rock band like AC/DC: “Rock ‘n Roll Damnation” is a perfect Rolling Stones-esque boogie, “Sin City” is a creepy hard rock dirge, the aforementioned “Riff Raff” is a punk-worthy guitarfest, “Gone Shootin'” is a cool groove-rocker. Maybe the most unexpected piece of hard-rock bliss here is “Down Payment Blues,” maybe the best mid-tempo song AC/DC ever attempted: at six minutes, it features a seductive riff good enough to probably keep your attention for much longer than six minutes. And Bon Scott – AC/DC’s first and most entertaining lead singer – delivers some purely badass lyrics: “I know I ain’t doin’ much / doin’ nothin’ means a lot to me / livin’ on a shoestring / a fifty-cent millionaire / open to charity / rock ‘n roller welfare.” All sung in this kind of low, cool growl. And there’s some great basic AC/DC rockers on here too: “Gimme A Bullet” (featuring the immortal chorus “Gimme a Bullet to bite on / and I’ll make believe it’s you”), “What’s Next To the Moon?,” “Up To My Neck In You” and “Kicked In The Teeth” are greats all (even if the latter song there kinda steals the riff from “Let There Be Rock,” but it’s still pretty cool).

I don’t know. It’s the little things. The way Bon Scott suddenly does this “HAW HAW HAW!” thing in the middle of “Riff Raff.” The kinda-sorta handclaps littered throughout “Rock ‘n Roll Damnation.” That random bluesy riff that comes out of nowhere near the end of “Down Payment Blues.” The bass-only breakdown in “Sin City.” It’s all just so damn cool. Pure cool-rock. Apparently Powerage was Keith Richards’ favorite AC/DC record. I have no idea if that’s true – every review of the album I’ve read has cited him as a fan, but I haven’t seen any solid proof. People also say that Dick Clark has a copy of Third Reich ‘n Roll framed in his office, but who the fuck knows if that’s true? Who fact-checks these reviews?? Either way Powerage definitely has that Stonesy vibe, so if Richards was a fan I wouldn’t be surprised.

Listen. If you want to walk down the street and feel like a total badass, no matter who you are, just get some AC/DC on your iPod. Powerage ain’t a bad place to start. It’s a perfect blend of Bon Scott’s theatrically devilish sleaze and Angus and Malcolm Young’s mastery of the Pure Hard Rock Riff. How the fuck did they keep up with this riffage for so long?? God only knows.

Hey. I bet you thought I was gonna talk about Black Ice in this post? Ehh?? Hah, no. I only know one song from that record, “Rock ‘n Roll Train.” And admittedly, it’s pretty good, and Brian Johnston is in shockingly good voice for a 61 year old. The guitar sounds a little wimpier than I expected, but it’s solid nonetheless. But man, if you want some rippin’, organic early AC/DC, Powerage is choice. None of that Mutt Lange sheen. A rip-roarin’ misogynistic fantasy of a good time.

(Oh, and you should really check out this live performance of “Riff Raff” so you know what the hell I’m talking about here. I can’t embed it ‘cuz it’s disabled. Just watch for yourself. Don’t we all need this kind of music? All the time??)

>Album Review: "I Get Wet" by Andrew W.K.


Don’t worry folks. It’s just pig’s blood.

If you want to have a big rock ‘n roll party hit in the 2000s – one that will be played ad nauseum by irony-loving college students at parties for years to come – logic would dictate that it would have to be big, loud, and ridiculously campy. At least that’s been the trend: the Darkness’ “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” the Electric Six’s “Danger! High Voltage” and the Killers’ entire discography* are big fat attention-getters all. In the age of r’n’b and rap’s dominance, rock ‘n roll seems to appeal more to mainstream tastes when it’s presented as novelty – a fun, goofy diversion reminding folks of a bygone era. (Of course, this is also the decade of Coldplay, so maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about.)

Andrew W.K., more than anybody in the world, is guilty of propagating this trend. Once the absolutely insane “Party Hard” hit America’s airwaves, the world was never quite the same. It was one of those rare songs that appealed to critics and jocks alike – critics heard it as an utterly bloated parody of macho party rock, and jocky dudes just viewed it as a badass party anthem. This, of course, raised the eternal question: was this “Andrew W.K” just a big joke, or did he take this whole party-hearty persona seriously?

The answer – surprise surprise! – is somewhere in between. W.K., clearly, understands that what he is doing is ridiculous, and yet his dedication to making his ridiculous music as infectious and funny as possible obviously shows that he views it as much more than an ironic joke. The way I see it, the guy wants to make party anthems that are as funny as they are sing-alongable, and I Get Wet is a success on these terms. Most critics will tell you that every song on this album is essentially the same – they’re all adrenaline-fueled, processed-guitar-filled, shouted anthems encouraging constant partying and beer guzzling. And for the most part, this is true, and it isn’t a bad thing because the formula is fun as a nugget – it’s the kind of album that begs to be blasted at parties. What makes the songs funny, though, is the way they’re presented; almost every song on the album kicks off with a goofy 80’s styled non-rock instrument intro (the cheesy horns in the title track, the Casio keyboard in “Ready to Die,” the epic synth strains in “Don’t Stop Living In The Red”) and dependably kicks into high gear with lightning-fast beats, giant guitars and W.K.’s constantly howled lyrics. It’s kind of hard to take this music 100 percent seriously when the intros are so self-consciously silly.

Maybe the funniest aspect of I Get Wet is Andrew W.K.’s personality – throughout the album, you get the impression that this guy just wants to get the fuck down and have a good time, and absolutely NOTHING is going to stop him. It doesn’t even matter if he isn’t singing about partying; while you might expect “Ready to Die” to be some dark metallic epic or “She Is Beautiful” to be a power ballad, both burst through with the same irrepressibly positive energy as the rest of the album. Hearing W.K. shout lyrics like “I never knew girls existed like you / but now that I do, I’d really like to get to know you” with full frat-boy sincerity is just very very funny.

I Get Wet is a very pop-oriented album, though. Beyond the frat-rock novelty, there are some really fun, catchy songs here that aren’t simply “Party Hard” rewrites – “Girls Own Love,” with its hilariously misogynist lyrics (“You’ve got to make her understand / That you are a man“), seems almost like a stab at power-pop, and the over-the-top “Got To Do It,” a synth-horn-laden tribute to overcoming all of life’s obstacles, might be one of my favorites on the album. He even attempts bizarre electro-pop on “Fun Night,” which makes a lot more sense when you hear it than it does on paper. Despite these fun little diversions, however, the overall feeling of the album is still epic party-rock, and what makes I Get Wet so damned special is its positivity. There is no angst, no depression, no darkness to be found here; it’s just one big party. “Party Hard”, despite its slight over-playedness, might be one of my favorite songs of this decade just because it is THE perfect party anthem – fast, incomprehesibly loud, and funny as hell. If I am drunk at a good party, I will not stop bitching until this song is played. Pure and simple.

This album came out in 2001, but Andrew W.K.’s dream of one big, long, stupid party is still something we need in 2008. I’m a little upset that his output petered out after 2003’s The Wolf (which I still haven’t heard) because this kind of formula is something I imagine would be a lot of fun to hear again every few years, not unlike AC/DC or the Ramones. In the age of Mars Volta and Muse, the concept of one big ol’ party sounds more and more appealing. Hell, it’s always appealing.

Bottom line: if you don’t like Andrew W.K. GROW A FUCKING PAIR YOU PANSY-MAN, THIS SHIT IS KILLER!!!