One month and sixteen days ago I wrote a little piece on the Violent Femmes eponymous debut lamenting the fact that nothing new in vinyl had been re-released since Rhino did the job back in 2003. Well, that changed today folks…. YAY!
Newbury is offering it in exclusive green marble vinyl.
It looks pretty damn sweet. Anyway, here is a link to the original review and another to Newbury if you want this prize as badly as I.
Shooting for the sound of Joy Division and hitting the Psychedelic Furs instead means only one thing to a fan of Yukon Blonde; the sound was overhauled in a total ‘WTF’ way. Confusion can be forgiven when a leap from R.E.M. mixed with Teenage Fanclub becomes an analog synth driven kaleidoscope of the 80’s New Wave movement. The opening track “Confusion” may not have been written as a message to fans, but the coincidence certainly matches the sound I’m hearing.
That said – I’m digging it!
Gone are guitar fronted loose ‘extenda jams’ that were present in Yukon Blonde’s eponymous 2010 debut and in is the more atmospheric layered production of a far more evolved unit. The change shouldn’t be entirely shocking as synth-pop has always been an element of the Yukon Blonde sound. “Make U Mine” with its playful flirt has a slight Prince feel and single “Saturday Night” lays out that “Safety Dance” vibe that has weird haircuts and pastel clothing running for the dance floor.
The whole Yukon Blonde experience is built around fun and On Blonde is no different from Tiger Talk in terms of lyrical themes. Still, to have so completely transformed from one record to the next makes one wonder if they had The Breakfast Club stuck in a VCR at some old woodsy locale. You know, a few friends, some odd flavoured cider and that guy who says every line a step out of cue until you all start yelling.
For vinyl lovers, go to the Kings Road site where they are offering On Blonde in a pretty cool looking gatefold cover with orange/black splatter wax. Only 300 are available so move quickly.
The first person narrative has long been a device in rock music. So whether it is self proclamation (“Get Back Up”) or explanation (“Say What You Want”) or reclamation (“Piece Of Cake”) the only question to ask: Is the Barenaked Ladies road still worth travelling?
It sort of depends on where your music tastes start and stop. Silverball leans heavily on the pleasant sounds of the eighties, happily playing in a mix of Huey Lewis & the News, Katrina & the Waves, and the Live Aid era pop that saw the dangerous (Jagger & Bowie) become outrageous as they danced in the streets. Sure, “Get Back Up” is a song that looks at the band as having nothing left to prove, but that doesn’t mean nothing left to say.
In the Barenaked Ladies world growing older doesn’t mean much more than gaining perspective. When Robertson sings “maybe we got much better at looking at the others heart” on “Hold My Hand” it’s a gentle reminder to a partner that not only is everything golden, but that he wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s these kinds of personal reflections that give the record a good natured charm.
Silverball is good, really good in fact. It’s well produced, the lyrics are meaningful and you can play it in the background on a Saturday afternoon with a few friends gathered in your backyard as the bbq burns a few hot dogs. Which really, if Silverball has a point, it’s that after all these years it’s just fine to live for the little things.
Brandon Flowers best asset has always been his ability to convey emotion with even the most basic of lyrical content. Look at the Killers “Andy, You’re A Star” which soars like an epic even if the words are no more than jocular reminiscence. So now you have Flowers second solo outing which he has referred to as “what the Killers second record should have sounded like” and expectations begin to run high. BUT – that has always been what Flowers does, he shoots from the hip and sometimes he hits the mark and sometimes… well, not so much.
The Desired Effect comes off as being influenced by the biggest stadium rockers of the 80’s. “Dreams Come True” points towards Born In The USA Springsteen and it is followed by “Can’t Deny My Love” which is reminiscent of Security era Peter Gabriel. However both are bogged down with lyrical metaphors that drip of modern country music formula.
Things pick up by “I Can Change” which runs off a sample of Bronski Beat’s “Small Town Boy”, but I’m unsure if the rise in my attention was really due to Flowers song or his chosen sample. There are moments of playfulness (“Still Want You”), tenderness (“Between Me and You”) and renewed love (“Untangled Love”) but again the images seem to conjure little more than a closing sequence of Friday Night Lights mixed with a soundtrack of “the best songs you didn’t hear in the 80’s.”
The Desired Effect has the unfortunate problem of being bogged down in the sounds of a time long past without a twist of something new. It’s a perfectly pleasant listen but it also comes with a quick expiration date.