Tuesday, March 2, 2004
"Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Seconds: A Short Cut to Teenage Fanclub" (Jet Set)
There's nothing worse than when a band that has proven itself more than attention-worthy gets ignored. And that's pretty much been Teenage Fanclub's lot in America.
Hailing from Scotland, they hit their peak here in the early 90's with Bandwagonesque, an album of power-pop tunes a la Big Star set to extremely loud fuzz guitars (listen to "The Concept"). Teenage Fanclub's loud guitar sound and flannel shirts fit in well with the rules of grunge rock popularized at that time.
But as their sound continued down more of a Byrds/Beach Boys-ish path and vocal harmonies began to outweigh distortion, the band slipped into obscurity in America.
For all those who need it, "Four Thousand..." is a proper introduction. This comp crams 80 minutes-worth of the 'Club onto a single CD, 21 songs spanning their multi-faceted 15-year career, slightly favoring the later years. Also, three brand new songs continue to re-establish the influence of the three distinct songwriting voices in the band (Norman Blake, Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley). Blake's new tune, the simple yet mesmerizing "Did I Say," boasts a stronger hook than most these days, and presents Teenage Fanclub exploring a more progressive side of pop.
Rockin' With Hawks, 4-6am, Sundays
Eyedea & Abilities
"E & A" (Rhymesayers/ Epitaph)
The year? 2000. The place? HBO. The event? Blaze Battle. It seems so long ago that I stayed up late watching this unknown guy take down with ease the best of the underground battle emcees. Fast forward four years and two albums, Eyedea returns with his partner in rhyme, DJ Abilities, to bring back lyricism and turntablism. Eyedea's subject matter range from dependant relationships on "Paradise" to man's obsession with superiority with "Man vs. Ape" to battle rap competitions on "Act Right." Yet it's on "Exhausted Love" that Eyedea best reaches our generation and how we often trade in our dreams for a low-level job to get by. Abilities holds up his end with cuts and scratches on each track with the force of a "Return of the DJ" album. Get this album if you want to hear life rhymed over a turntablist soundtrack.
New music rotation, 2-4am Mondays
"The Dexateens" (Estrus)
Did Kings of Leon start something with the whole southern edge on garage-rock or is it just a coincidence that another band is doing nearly the same thing? Oh well. The Dexateens are doing it better anyway. The Dexateens play 70's rebel rock in the vein of a Lynyrd Skynyrd that tried to become a punk band but failed -- in a good way. The Dexateens are a brash rash of foolish public drunkenness but with a feeling that they might be too good to boogey at your local bar. You can catch them at the state fair, though. Yeah, they're that good.
New music rotation, 2-4am Fridays
"Aux Armes Et CÃ:tera" [2 CD] (Mercury)
This isn't the first round for this album nor is it the first time Gainsbourg incorporated reggae in his music. The late singer/songwriter found the form fit well with his offbeat, sensual style and daring lyrics in the early 70s when he recorded possibly his best record, Histoire de Melody Nelson. This time around he posthumously puts out a double disc that fuses the original Aux Armes Et CÃ:tera (1979) with dub remakes and DJ covers of old and new songs. The music is sharp with skillful Jamaican musicians providing the grooves while Gainsbourg provides the playful wit he's known for.
"Courtney on the Cracklebox," 4-6am Saturdays
"All Balls Don't Bounce" (Decon)
Dumb luck has put more phenomenal albums in my hands than you could shake a mic at. Take this classic debut by the genesis of the West Coast underground, Aceyalone. As a 13-year old, the title spoke to my pubescent sense of humor and my cash was practically leaping out of my pocket. Impulse buying doesn't always end in disgust, though, and in All Balls, I found an MC ahead of his time, who had styles like Imelda Marcos has shoes, who slid from topic to topic effortlessly, and whose influence on current groups like Jurassic 5 is apparent.
Saved from out-of-print hell by Decon, this album is an impressive balance between the loose dynamic of Freestyle Fellowship albums and 1998's moodier Book of Human Language.
The first single from the album, "All Balls," starts things out and establishes a precedent. Although the beats on this album can best be described as average, Acey makes the listener forget all about it with inflection and differing rhythms that establish his voice as a precise instrument, able to elevate the beats to rhyme level. Acey is comfortable assuming any subject matter as well, from the insane MC-schooling "Arhythmaticulas" to the humorous odes to both "Annalillia" and "Makeba." There's even a "Beavis and Butthead" bite at the close of "Knownots."
Anyway, thank someone for this re-release. It's a triumph for Aceyalone, whose belt is already rife with classics, a testament to the respect due to one of hip-hop's most innovative minds.
Breakfast for Beatlovers, 9-noon Tuesdays