MGF Presents The Wednesday Review Roundup #16

Soulja Boy –
Collipark Records (10/2/07)

“He’s a genius, man. It’s like catching Michael Jackson before he actually hit wax. It’s that kind of talent,” says Mr. Collipark (the guy who produces wack beats for wack rappers). Yes, I understand that Soulja Boy is signed to Collipark Music, but not even someone as musically inept as Collipark can honestly make a statement like this and not know that he’s completely full of shit. This is quite possibly the worst album I have ever heard, if not at the very least the worst album I have heard all year. The calypso-meets-Casio-driven “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” is one of the most successful singles of the year, and I still cannot wrap my head around this. Perhaps it’s because there’s a tacky dance to go with the song, which features the rapper (and I use that term as loosely as possible) grunting and groaning through three minutes and four seconds of my life that I will never get back. Had I not received a promo copy from Interscope, I would have never put myself through the torture of listening to the entire album; I’ll admit that I couldn’t even sit through the entirety of most of the songs. I might be taken off of Interscope’s mailing list after this, but it’s pretty much impossible to sugar-coat the degree of suck that this album achieves. Soulja Boy is a cheap sound-alike of Fabo from D4L (as if it wasn’t bad enough to actually be Fabo from D4L, we now have people biting him), with no real rhyming skills and terrible lyrics—not to mention that virtually every single song contains one line or phrase (in most cases the title of the song) repeated ad nauseum (as in “Snap and Roll”, “Yahhh!”, “Bapes” and most others)… really, it’ll make you nauseous. “Soulja Girl” is the obligatory song dedicated to the women who like crap music, as it features some T-Pain rip-off (it might actually be T-Pain, but does that really make a big difference?) trading barbs with Soulja Boy, who periodically grunts “YOU!” I guess this is supposed to be that new generation of crap rap that’s beat-driven, but even the beats are absolutely useless. Sounding like they were crafted on a twenty-dollar Casio keyboard, I could make better beats if I were blind, deaf, retarded and suffering from a bout of diarrhea. Hell… you could knock me out cold and throw my unconscious body onto a drum machine and I’d still make better beats. There are absolutely no redeeming qualities to this album. It sucks so incredibly much that I think I’m getting a relapse of the stomach flu that was plaguing me this past Sunday. Ghostface [Killah] once said that D4L is killing hip-hop, and if that’s the case, then Soulja Boy is standing at the side of hip-hop’s deathbed, urinating on its face as it takes its last futile gasps.

Treaty of Paris – Sweet Dreams, Sucker
Airport Tapes and Records (9/25/07)
Rock / Pop

I remember about two or three years ago, when it seemed like this band was playing a show in Chicago every weekend, jumping around the local small venues. I saw them once at, I believe, either the Empty Bottle or Schuba’s, and I thought that while not bad, they were nothing more than Just Another Pop-Rock Band. Now, after hearing this album, I’ve realized that… wait, no… yeah, they Just Another Pop-Rock Band. If I were to liken them to another band, I would say that they’re a slightly more tolerable, less pop-punk Fall Out Boy. I’m sorry, Treaty of Paris, but you’ve made your bed—now you’ll lie in it. While Fall Out Boy at least has enough spunk to get the 14-year-olds hot and bothered, though, these guys are pandering a bit more to older fans by bringing the tempo down a notch, and as a result, a lot of the album (while not particularly bad) ends up being pretty boring. Yes, they still sing about things like finding love and being scorned over an ex (as evidenced in “Here Goes Nothing”, and the album’s title track, respectively), so they’ll still get quite a few impressionable young fans with camera phones and blogs to hop on their band wagon. Three of the tracks were actually taken from the band’s 2005 Behind Our Calm Demeanors EP, one of which was the slightly pop-punkish “Rollerskates”, which is an exception on the album. The only song on the album that really jumped out at me was the slower “I’ll Come Back”, that actually emanated Elvis Costello, and that, ladies and germs, is my one good comment about this album.

Gina Gershon – In Search of Cleo
Self-released – GoGo Records (9/4/07)
Rock / Pop / Jazz

Available EXCLUSIVELY at Gina Gershon’s Web site

While Gina Gershon is best known for her acting accolades (even becoming a gay icon for her work in Bound, Showgirls and Cabaret), she actually began her career in the ’80s concentrating on song and dance, though she got her big break with a role as “Benny’s best friend” in 1986’s Pretty in Pink. While this would be the beginning of an illustrious film and television (and Broadway) career, Gershon has shown that she still has a passion for music by returning to her roots with In Search for Cleo (though she had starred in 2005’s Prey for Rock and Roll, later performing with post-hardcore band Girls Against Boys in support of the film; in doing so introducing many fans to her musical side), a lounge-infused concept album about the agony of losing her cat, and later finding said cat. It might sound ridiculous, but I give her points for creativity, and since the music really is very good, these points are not merely charitable. Plus, the search for her cat is essentially a metaphor for the search for love. The reason why I panned Treaty of Paris for this and am not panning Gershon is because (a) she is not whiny, (b) she is at least able to be poetic about it and (c) shut up—it’s my column. Opener “Watch Over Me” (written by Linda Perry) combines Gershon’s Chrissie Hynde-esque vocals with the tone of a classic Roy Orbison ballad for an excellent track, while “Cracks of Sin” has hints of ragtime that make Gershon’s claim that the music is “drinking theater instead of dinner theater,” quite feasible. “Pretty Girls on Prozac” (which, along with “Watch Over Me” has gotten the video treatment—see Gershon’s MySpace) is fantastic samba fusion track, while Gershon flexes her Jew’s harp muscles on “Marie” and “Peryle”. This album has a little bit of everything, without sounding like anything close to a fustercluck. Gershon wrote most of the tracks herself, so she’s responsible for all of this good stuff. Buy it now—it’ll give you yet another reason to be infatuated with her.