I am good at generalizing. See, based on looking at this guy, I generalize that he is a hit with the ladies.
Generalizing. Despite the bad rap that moral or nice people want to give it, generalizing people and things based on an initial impression is the best way to proceed through life. Analyzing something or getting to know people is just a waste of time. With that in mind, I am going to generalize three new albums, two of which are some of the summer's most anticipated.
The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
As, Rutledge mentioned yesterday, this bad boy is now available for download at Itunes. I've listened to it sporadically over the last month and gave it the full treatment on Tuesday. This album is ok, not even close to Separation Sunday or Boys & Girls...in my mind. Nothing jumps out to me. Some pretty kick ass guitar rifts throughout, but alot of them don't really go anywhere in my mind. It just kind of stalls with less hooks, making much of the album less accessible than the aforementioned albums. When it's great, it's great (see Sequestered in Memphis, Lord I'm Discouraged, Slapped Actress - the best song on the disc) but the rest hasn't done much for me yet. Hence, it's meh rating (Navy Sheets by itself almost warrants a meh rating). I will say that it has much potential for getting better, unlike our next album...........
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
Look, I get it Jim James. I understand that you like to "evolve" and keep pushing musical boundaries. I understand that many of the greats have done this. That's fantastic, I'm just disappointed with where you took it or how it came out in this instance. There are some good ones: Evil Urges, where James' voice heads to areas his studio albums have rarely gone but works surprisingly well, I'm Amazed with the more classic James sound but with lesser lyrics (an unfortunate theme throughout), and Aluminum Park.
Much of the album falls flat for me unfortunately. Even songs with a killer pedal steel whining in the back ground, such as Sec Walkin, just don't work for me. It lacks punch and seems fluffy - something I would find on my local adult contemporary, soft rock station. I haven't even mentioned Highly Suspicious, there is plenty of discussion about it. I come down on the side that says it's a turd.
Despite the disappointment in the album, I'm not giving up on MMJ. I don't love this direction, but it's not really surprising considering some of the territory covered on Z. Jim James has proven to be a badass in my book and every great artist makes a bad record every now and again, right?
Centro-matic / South San Gabriel - Dual Hawks
While I had fully embraced the other two bands, Centro-matic has always been a mixed bag for me. I've always recognized Will Johnson's prolific talent and I've enjoyed many of his past offerings (hell, I rated Fort Recovery in my Top 10 of 2006) but for some reason it had failed to click, until now. See, some guys write so much music, they need multiple outlets, and that's how Johnson operates. He does solo stuff, but works mainly for Centro-matic with a little South San Gabriel on the side. This time, he released albums from both bands, at the same time. The result: a freaking 90 minute set of incredible songs. The first disc is Centro and brings their trademark rock that Centro-matic is known for. Caution: it isn't for the faint of heart and might take some listens (yeah, I know this goes against what I railed on in the beginning) but do not fear, you will be rewarded in the end. Crunch and hook - I like it!
Here's one of my favorites (among many) from the album:
Centro-matic :: All Your Farewells
The South San Gabriel disc is something different. It's still Johnson writing great songs and much of it is still catchy. But, the songs are much more mellow and composed much differently. It works as a perfect contrast to the grit and forwardness of Disc 1; Disc 2 is a little more haunting and ambient. Take a listen to my favorite on this side, Kept On The Sly. I was looking forward to this entire album less than the two above, but I clearly enjoy it more than the other two.
So yeah, I lied about the generalizing.