MGF Presents The Wednesday Review Roundup #9

The White Stripes – Icky Thump
Warner Bros. (6/19/07)
Rock / Garage rock / Alternative

Hi, I’m Jeff, and there are two sides of the fence on this album, which more or less serves as a microcosm for the band itself—critics either love The White Stripes and everything that they do, or they hate them for getting too big for their britches and will pan just about anything they release. Luckily for you, I could really take or leave The White Stripes as a whole. Yes, Jack White is a dick, but he is a talented musician. Yes, the band’s first album was good, the second was great, and the breakout White Blood Cells was a perfect mix of alt-pop and garage for a damn good album that was pretty much deserving of the praise that it received. I didn’t really dig anything that the band’s done since White Blood Cells, but after hearing that they were exploring roots-rock and even some norteño, I had to check it out. The first single, which is also the title track, sounds similar to the band’s older work, and while the music itself doesn’t have much of a Wild West feel to it, the lyrics and the video reflect it by dramatizing Jack “sitting drunk on a wagon to Mexico.” The Univox analog synth makes the song. “Conquest” and, to a lesser extent, “A Matryr for My Love for You” carries a strong Latin, Wild West influence, keeping with that loose theme, which carries into “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn”, a great folk-rock song that has an odd combination of Irish folk rock with some Native American elements thrown in for good measure. And yes, there are bagpipes on the album, as the chaotic “St. Andrew (This Battle Is in the Air)” blows by in under two minutes. The album as a whole is actually very good, as it seems that while they’re going back slightly to the rough-around-the-edges garage rock sound with which they first broke into the scene, they’ve also integrated elements of everything from blues, folk and various Latin elements. I dig it.

Hi, I’m Baby Jesus, and Jeff called me in to participate in this feature, as we go way back, and actually have the same birthday, except I’m about 1980 years older than him. While I actually did grow up to become a man who was crucified for the sins of all of you ridiculous ingrates, Jeff prefers the Infant Christ to the Adult One. [Editor’s Note: I’m not really sure what’s supposed to capitalized and not, so I’m just going to go f*cking nuts] I’ve never really seen why so many people hate The White Stripes. I mean, sure Jack White isn’t really the nicest person in the world, but really, who doesn’t want to punch Jason Stollsteimer? And c’mon, c’mon… the guy always has his hair hanging down over his face, anyway, so why does it matter that he suffered multiple contusions and had to be taken to local hospital after the fact? But back to the album, I’m a big fan of the Mexican influences. As you know, Mexicans love me, and really, nobody gives props to my mom quite like the Mexicans. I think I’ll reward them next week by appearing in a tortilla again.

The Icarus Line – Black Lives at the Golden Coast
V2 Records/Dim Mak Records (7/10/07)
Rock / Garage rock

When they’re not eschewing manners, they’re putting on ridiculously entertaining concerts, and sometimes… just sometimes, they manage to press an album. Yes, the Icarus Line sounds like just another whiny emo band, but these guys are almost the polar opposite of that (almost because the polar opposite of whiny emo would probably be some sort of rap). On Black Lives at the Golden Coast the band mostly echoes Frank Black and Iggy Pop (actually the lead singer looks like if Iggy Pop and Ben Stiller had a kid), with a strong nod to Detroit garage rock, while the music still manages to typify the filthy, “f*ck-you” attitude of Hollywood rock and roll. Sure some of these boys are in dire need of haircuts, but tracks like “Golden Rush” (I was reminded of Joe Walsh, actually) and “Sick Bitch” are so much fun that I’ll let it slide.

This album rocks. Really, it does. You probably weren’t expecting me to say it, but despite the fact that I am an infant, being the Messiah, I have messianic ears that are able to appreciate things other than the Teletubbies and Raffi. In fact, my favorite album is Skinny Puppy’s Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse. I’m not sure if Adult Jesus is as big on the Sk’uppy as I am—He really started liking some lame stuff once He hit His late teens. I mean, come on… Damien Rice? Maybe if I had insomnia that’d be a good idea. But back to Icarus Line, if doing copious amounts of drugs makes these lads create better music, I’m all for it.

Against Me! – New Wave
Sire Records (7/10/07)
Punk / Folk rock

Against Me! is one of those bands that the kids like, that is also a guilty pleasure of mine. I think it’s the fact that they mix quality music with Tom’s angry-yet-charismatic vocals. On New Wave, the Gainesville, Florida-based folk-punk band brings more of the same good stuff. The title track is a passionate ballad that segues into the jumpy “Up the Cuts”, which is a danceable in a “Don’t Lose Touch” type of way. “Thrash Unreal” flirts with pop, while the band gets political on the upbeat “White People for Peace” (the album’s first single) and the downtempo “Americans Abroad”. “Piss and Vinegar” was one of the standout tracks, with more of folk rock feel than some of the other tracks, though as a whole this is a hell of a rock album. It’s raw, passionate war you can dance to, and I’m not talking about hardcore kids throwing dropkicks at the Lamb of God show.

I like this one, too. I think it’s safe to say that Baby Jesus likes better music than Adult Jesus does. Perhaps that’s why Jeff selected Me, or maybe it has something to do with Christmas or that the Adult Christ has just really become pretty f*cking cliché. Yeah, that’s right… I can f*cking swear if I want to. Why does no one ever see Me in the water stain on the underpass? It’s always Adult Jesus. WHOOO… Adult Jesus is the greatest! Look at me, I’m Adult Jesus, with my beard and my crown of thorns! I died for your sins, too, you bitches! That includes beastiality, pederasty and even people liking Limp Bizkit. Seriously, what if you knew you were going to be murdered when you grew up because people two thousand years later liked to have sex with Golden Retrievers? I think it’s safe to say that you’d be pretty pissed off, too. And a memo to Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps: knock that shit off. All of it. You don’t f*cking know me, and I would never be caught dead hanging out with either of your idiotic asses. Keep my name out of your f*cking mouths.

Poison – POISON’D!
Capitol Records (6/5/07)

The production on this album is incredible, but at times some of the 13 tracks (all covers) seem so contrived that they might as well be karaoke sessions (see, “I Need to Know”, “Just What I Needed”, et al.). “Little Willy” is a good cover, as it’s essentially an old-school glam song, so being a glam metal band, they do well with it. Re the selection of “Suffragette City” for their David Bowie cover, meh… I would have actually liked to see what they would have done with “The Jean Genie” or even “Rebel Rebel”. The version Alice Cooper’s “I Never Cry” felt very lukewarm, while “What I Like About You” made me cringe for the most part, especially after learning that it’s the first single off of the album. Ouch. “Can’t You See” is one of the saving graces on the album, as it carries a genuine passionate and it seems as if Bret Michaels really did draw influence from Marshall Tucker for his own sound, not just on the track but in general. “Dead Flowers” was another good effort, though it was covered much better by Guns N’ Roses. The last five tracks of the album are all culled from previous releases, and include “Rock and Roll All Nite”, “Squeeze Box”, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim”, “Your Mama Don’t Dance” and :We’re an American Band”. While the KISS track is from the 20-year-old Less Than Zero soundtrack, the others previously appeared on other Poison albums. This five-song block is pretty much the best thing about the album and its saving grace. I’m quite certain that the band and label execs were sitting around one day and thought, “Hey, we’ve got some decent covers in the vault. Why don’t we throw them all on an album with some other newly recorded random covers and hope that it works?” Unfortunately, it really doesn’t. An exclusive edition of the album offered by Wal-Mart features a cover a “SexyBack” (yes, that “SexyBack”), thus proving that when they’re not violating human rights by subjecting illegal aliens to hours of labor for mere dimes an hour, they’re violating our human rights subjecting us to a Justin Timberlake song recorded by Poison. I didn’t buy the Wal-Mart version, and I don’t need to buy it to know that that was a bad idea.

Jeff, you said enough about this one, so I’m going to keep it short. This album makes me cry. Isn’t that what you wanted me to say, Jeff? Huh? Huh, f*cko? Well I said it, so give me my damn Hickory Farms gift basket, and it had better have summer sausage! But back to the album, sure, the older stuff is okay, and yes, “Little Willy” kicks ass, but I’m going to have to agree with Jeff that is a major disappointment. The only thing that makes me cry more than this is when a new Southern rapper is born. Those are the guys that should really be crucified in the name of beastiality.