Friday, August 05, 2005

Report Card, July 2005
Albeit a bit late.

Student of the month
Billy Corgan, TheFutureEmbrace
Well, it certainly wasn't supposed to go like this. The Pumpkins weren't supposed to flame out the way they did (though MACHINA/The Machines of God is underrated, and features my all-time fave SP track, "Stand Inside Your Love"), Zwan were supposed to, I dunno, be better, and not vaporize quite so quickly (that's Billy for you, I guess), and his first solo album was definitely not supposed to be so fucking grand. For those about to goth, we salute you: TheFutureEmbrace is my were-I-half-my-age-again musical wet dream, a kind of goth-pop new-wave record from which we (or at least I) learn that:
1. Corgan and Robert Smith should make an entire album of duets, as their harmonies on the chorus of "To Love Somebody" nearly send me into orbit. Wow.
2. "Walking Shade," while not a great single, is the great lost Love & Rockets single; Daniel Ash would've given up mascara (well, maybe not) for this 120 Minutes sure-shot.
3. Perhaps what's been weighing Corgan down musically is - guitars?
This album succeeds like nothing he's touched since Siamese Dream, and maybe since Gish. It's that good. It's not a Pumpkins record. It's the best 2005 has offered thus far. A


Beanie Sigel, The B. Coming
Hard-edged, dark, and occasionally a little schizoid, this is one helluva hip hop album, all held together by Sigel, who's got a distinctive timbre to his voice and a helluva lot to say with it. All the different producers and guests help prove the point that Beanie's the man here - some would say the man, period. A-

Common, Be
Well, sure the lyrics are a little on the soft side: this is Common, not 50 Cent. Honestly, this sounds like the Kanye record Kanye will never make because he's not a good enough rapper. He is, however, a good enough producer. And Common's a good enough rapper. B+

Richard Davis, Details
If Rufus Wainwright or Jeff Buckley were produced by Luomo, they'd kinda sound like this. On a Junior Boys tip, if the Junior Boys weren't as good as they are. B-

Shakira, Fijacion Oral Vol. 1
Whereas Emilio Estefan amped up the bland pop for Shakira's English-language debut, exec. producer Rick Rubin's guiding hand here keeps her return to Spanish edgy and nervous, so she's better able to jump from the refreshingly underproduced balladry of "En Tus Pupilas" (which finely shows off the soft side of her voice) to the energetic pop of single "La Tortura" and the "Rock Lobster"-isms of the Farfisa-kissed "Escondite Ingles." B+

The Tears, Here Come the Tears
Suede's Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler are reunited, and it feels okay. B


Parent's signature required
Brian Eno, Another Day On Earth
Yeah, Eno sings again, whoop-de-do. The music's still as somnambulist as ever, and that's not a compliment. C

Yeah, I agree re Eno's record. Did you read my review?

But we part company on Common and Kanye. I'd rather hear Kanye's awkward, mush-mouthed raps over Common's smooth flow and boring well-intentioned narratives anyday. (Call it an acute case of Bernard Sumneritis.) That said, I play the album a lot more than I've expected.
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