the Sunday-night-just-before-sleeping update
Busdriver, Fear Of A Black Tangent - Form vs. content, and the battle gets ugly. In one corner: a crack assemblage of producers (none of whose names I know), pouring out one gorgeous track after another. In the other: a neurotic type named Busdriver, whose self-loathing often comes so fast that all conception of meter (not to mention basic intelligibility) flies out the mirror, pulverizing the music in the process. Busdriver is the exactly the kind of rapper that makes me hate underground hip-hop, and his intrusive vocals and very dense way of saying not a whole lot get on my nerves, fast. Still, some of it is gorgeous, so you'll probably want to look out for the elegiac trumpet of "Lefty's Lament" and the floating guitar of "Unemployed Black Astronaut," where for once Busdriver has a vocal hook that gives us at least a chorus to hang onto ("I am the first black astronaut to walk the moon in my air balloon").
Eels, Blinking Lights & Other Revelations - OK, this double-album crap has to stop. OutKast is responsible for the current surge, I guess, and that goes both for 2-disk sets you can only buy togheter as well as indulgences like those two Bright Eyes concept disks, etc. Not that it makes any fiscal difference to me, since I download pretty much everything, but, collective musicians of the world, I do not have the goddamn time or energy left to edit down your sprawling nonsense. Knock it off. Please.
This album has 8 INSTRUMENTALS. And I was never that sold on the eels in the first place; I picked up Beautiful Freak back in the day and wasn't terribly impressed, and the subsequent string of singles I've heard on various samplers didn't win me over. But Blinking Lights raced out of the metacritic gate with a 91 score (which has subsequently gone down, though not enough), blindsiding me into paying attention. Whatever: the tracks you really need are "The Trouble With Dreams," which does a stellar job of making angst catchy, and "Things The Grandchildren Should Know," which actually is the kind of amazing song that the whole album is supposed to be composed of. Capping off a list of hang-ups and minor accomplishments ("I go to sleep early in the evening/People think it's strange"), Mr. E touchingly concludes: "If I had to do it all again, well, it's something I'd like to do." There's the value of understatement so sorely missing from the rest of the album. The overall appeal of the eels remains a mystery to me.