Please Tell Me Your New Album Has Enough Good Songs on it That I Don’t Have to Go Listen to a Random Selection of My Favorite Singles Again

I haven’t hated as much stuff as usual, lately, but I know it’s coming, what with the usual, late Aug & Sept-onward flotilla of releases by every label under the sun. I promise: more spite in the new world.

But from the Dept of :et’s Get It Out of The Way: I’d like to say that Zipcar is disappointing. A deep read of their website reveals that car rental prices – even per hour, which is Zipcar’s main attraction — rise significantly on weekends, to the point where renting from a regular agency costs the same, or sometimes even less. Sure, if you need a car from 2 pm to 5 pm on a Wed, or for one day on the weekend (maybe), Zipcar’s great – but who, in the city, would bother? Cars are for leaving the city. And if you don’t care what you look like, you can rent a uhaul van for $10 and keep it all day.

Mew, drooled over by Droolfork, hit me squarley in the nowhere. They sound like a million major label signings whose 15 minutes of worth lasted for a single record circa 1995-1998. Suede comes to mind. They do it well, but I’ve moved on.

I love Electrelane more now, not just becuase they’ve released their worthwhile b-sides, but because they have side projects and writing gigs (guitarist Mia Clarke writes for Wired and classes-up spoogefork) and just kick it all around. And they made my daughter dance in utero. The new collection contains a sub-par version of their cover of Roxy Music’s “More than This” – the vinyl b-side I have is not live, but studio, and longer and just more pants pooping great.

Still don’t care for the Hold Steady after hearing the new stuff. I like my literature above the waistline section, music below. And that brings me to the Decemberists. The point of pop music is to create a world in less than 4 minutes – and Meloy has been mostly expert at doing just that. But do I want to hear 20 minute songs, however well written, from his — at the end of the day – weak voice and serviceable bandmates? I can think of chores I could do that would better serve 20 minutes of my time.

Recent resurrrection: Tenpole Tudor. I recalled hearing their “Wunderbar” in college, and loved it for its ditzy ineptitude, like (Adam and) the Ants fronted by Sid Vicious. I didn’t know that their two albums are pretty good documents of the Stiff label’s ability to leave artists alone. It seems they did here. You could never make this record now, it’s such a mess. And yeah, I know Eddie Tudor is an actor now, sang (almost) with the Sex Pistols, blah blah. This is his real contribution.

The new Junior Boys is a miserable dud. Again, guys, write songs. Oh, and while I’m at it, would you buy back your last album, vinyl version?

The Chad Van Gaalen tune “Dead Ends” has put me back onto Chad Van Gaalen.

Dirty Pretty Things‘ new platter, while nothing I’ll listen to again, proves Pete Doherty’s drug problem isn’t a problem for the band, just Doherty.

A Sunny Day in Glasgow was growing on me until I heard their smart and maybe hilarious cover of GBVs’ “Game of Pricks.” Their unclear-structure-pop with a strong purpose reminds me of numerous likeminded outfits before them, but this is very well done, and I miss Life Without Buildings, Pylon, and early Delgados anyway. Someone in this band is thinking rather than trying too hard.

Say what you will or won’t about Springsteen, but “Atlantic City,” I don’t have to tell you, is absolute badass. And I’m a guy who spent a large part of his life hating the man. But I think this song might preview the future of popular music, in that Springsteen made it on four-track (!), and that’s all you hear, and it takes some real talent to create something like this, out of thin air, and have it be so deep with so little tech support. In the future, in addition to the TVs in our heads, there will be no labels – and bands will use myspace to promote their own stuff – and if they’ve got the real chops, what they make won’t matter on how much money they spent to get it done.

Yeah.

This week I’m stuck on these four:

Smog – River Guard
A personal theme song. One of his prettiest. Vinyl that got me through living in NJ.

The Sadies – Hold on Hold on

A Neko Case song, but they own it; saw them do it with her before her latest came out, and it sounded just a wonderful.

The Sadies – Dying is Easy
And it’s the one thing, one day, that everyone does.

Tobin Sprout – It’s Like Soul, Man

A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s cover of “Game of Pricks,” above, had me wondering what other GBV covers make the hit parade, and this one, really an expansion of a snippet by a former GBV member, but therfore a cover nonetheless, gets my top billing.

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21 thoughts on “Please Tell Me Your New Album Has Enough Good Songs on it That I Don’t Have to Go Listen to a Random Selection of My Favorite Singles Again

  1. Less Died Pretty Things, more Died Pretty. One thing I admire about you Mr. Parnell is your continued dislike of Hold Steady. This means that you can discover them at a later date like so many of us have done with the Smiths and REM when we thought we were too cool to dig those guys in high school.Hold Steady is cock rock by guys who read too much, not such a bad niche.

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  2. More Smog please. So, does Smog sound like Richard Buckner or does Richard Buckner sound like Smog?Did I mention, more Smog please?

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  3. I will never discover the Hold Steady at a later date because they will not have a later date. Their records will be out of print by 2015. Just like Lifter Puller now.If I’m ever caught admiring a band that puts me in a group of people that includes people who thought they were too cool to dig the Smiths or REM in high school, shoot me. I got Murmur for X-mas in the 6th grade. Cock rock by guys who read too much shouldn’t sound like they have such little cocks. Anyone making any kind of rock should read less. Otherwise we get solo Lou Reed records. Buckner sounds like Smog, meaning Smog came first. Smog makes better records, sometimes country, sometimes not.

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  4. Hold Steady – the best rock and roll band since the Replacements. Heck, if the Replacements could read, they would have been Hold Steady.

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  5. Intentionally insane statments, like that one, will not incite me. I may irascible, but I will not be toyed with.But if you truly believe what you write, you certainly haven’t listened to much music since 1990. The Butthole Surfers are better than the Hold Steady, no argument or debate possible. Sloan is better. Elliot Smith was better. Tindersticks is waaay better. To name a few.Every song by the Hold Steady sounds like Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”Bottom feeders, the HS. I wish them luck with the books on tape. Maybe they go to the same shrink as the Blue Aeroplanes.

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  6. Books on tapes, good one, really. The Buthole Surfers were about as entertaining as Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Eliot Smith grew up Simple Minds were “alternative.” In five years, Mr. Parnell will be digging books on tapes.

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  7. I’m proud to say that I have to be reminded of Sigue Sige Sputnik, rather than be able to remember them, as you can. And if the Hold Steady, in their NPR-ready blandness, their semi-popular music Aimee Mann-ready demographic witticisms, ever come up with an album title like “Hairway to Steven,” I’ll give them a chance. But they won’t. In five years, I’ll have read more books than tapes you’ve owned.

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  8. What, did you get the Curious George box set? My favorite is when he goes to hospital. Two things. 1) Smog is by far Drag City’s best act, and possible their only act worth two cents.2) Hold Steady would rip Elliot Smith a new asshole if Smith hadn’t pussied out on life. Perhaps a better comparison than the Replacements is this: The Hold Steady are what the Grifters could have been if they didn’t fail at being pretentious in the end.

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  9. What, did you get the Curious George box set? My favorite is when he goes to hospital. Two things. 1) Smog is by far Drag City’s best act, and possible their only act worth two cents.2) Hold Steady would rip Elliot Smith a new asshole if Smith hadn’t pussied out on life. Perhaps a better comparison than the Replacements is this: The Hold Steady are what the Grifters could have been if they didn’t fail at being pretentious in the end.

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  10. I wasn’t too cool to dig the Smiths. I just hadn’t gotten the joke yet. I think when I saw the video for “November Spawned a Monster,” the one where he has a Band-Aid over his nipple, I realized that he wasn’t so deadly serious. REM I liked, but after I heard the Replacements (not to mention Black Flag, etc.), they took a distant second. I was never too cool, because I was never cool. Still ain’t cool. I stopped trying years ago.I have to be waaaaaaaay against you on the Hold Steady. I actually get excited when they come out with a new record. Not pants-pooping excited — I’m too old for that — but “Oh, I think I’ll get that when it comes out” excited.<>In five years, I’ll have read more books than tapes you’ve owned.<>In five years, I’ll have pooped more times than you peed.New Electrelane? Excellent, although I probably have most of it. My personal favorite is their cover of “I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen. I always hated when non-NJ types would ask me if I liked Bruce Springsteen. What, so I have to like him because we hail from the same state? You’re from Illinois, so you must love Styx, right? I got all my Springsteen records for $1 each, and I really like about five or six songs … and Nebraska.

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  11. Curious George is a pre-1950s metaphor for imperialist slavery. Free your mind.There’s a little more to Drag City than Smog, although I agree it’s the label’s best act. But there’s Wil Oldham, for one. Silver Jews put stuff out on Drag City. Pavement’s ‘Westing …etc” is on Drag City. Half Japanese put out stuff on DC. Grifters/Hold Steady? Don’t see it. Even before they went to shit, the Grifters made two good records and one good EP. That’s three more pieces of good music than the Hold Steady, who have cursed us with their stateside version of The Tragically Hip. I’m with you on the Springsteen. All the vinyl, if cheap, yields a handful of decent tracks. And Nebraska, yeah. And almost most of Darkness on the Edge of Town.

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  12. I can’t believe I’m seeing J. Frank talking nice about Springsteen. The Sub Pop Nebraska tribute record has some excellent moments too. There’s a bonus track of Johnny Cash covering “I’m On Fire” there that shames the terrific Electrelane. When Cash sings, “Hey little girl, is your Daddy home…” it’s just <>filthy<>

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  13. It’s funny – the older I get, the more I like the earlier and earlier Springsteen. ‘Tis weird. Maybe I’m coming to the age that explains why so may baby boomers in their mid thirties loved him (when i was a teenager.)The Cash sound wunderbar. Will find/get it.

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  14. ps — Austin lost Britt Daniel, but gained Bill Callahan. Fair trade? It would seem so.pss — My opinion of The Hold Steady changes daily, really. One of my friends is The Original #1 Hold Steady Fangirl, er, I mean Groupie, so like, you know. It’s almost too personal at this point. 😛 I will say that the new stuff is pretty craptacular though.

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  15. Hold Steady just rocks a little harder and reads a little more than the Hoodoo Gurus. Both bands play to have fun, are uterally unpretentious, and are on the edge between fame and cult status. Hopefully, Hold Steady can keep playing and hold it together.

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  16. I found the Cash- thanks though. I like it, but it isn’t as dark as I’d like it – I think he’s picked a new key, too, to play & sing it in. It is filthy to hear him sing the words, yes.Didn’t know Bill Callahan had moved to Austin and Daniel had moved out. It’s like a baseball trade. If the Hold Steady ever wrote a melody like the Hoodoo’s “Death Defying” (and I don’t defend the HGs totally, they put out oodles of crap before calling it quits) and could actually sing it, they’d each have a Michael-Ironsides-Scanners moment, as I and David Cronenberg like to call it.

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  17. If you’re interested, other tracks on the tribute to look for are Hank III’s twisted “Atlantic City,” and Aimee Mann and Michael Penn’s duet on “Reason to Believe.” I know you don’t like Ms. Mann, but they do a reasonable job and they sound terrific together.Out of left field, Son Volt’s “Open All Night” nails the feel of the album better than most–Jay Farrar’s voice and a pedal steel transform what’s one of the more rocking tracks on the orignal into a near dirge. It’s a nice read on the song, and whenever I’m in a car on the Turnpike heading towards the Holland Tunnel, I now hear Farrar singing the “Early north Jersey/Industrial skyline…” line.

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