Friday, March 4, 2011

Album Ruiners

Today I want to address an issue that comes up for me seemingly at least once a year. Most recently Bibio's upcoming album Mind Bokeh brought me back to this topic. What happens when a good or even great album has a single song so bad that it nearly ruins the album. In the case of Mind Bokeh this would be the sixth track, "Take Off Your Shirt" (it's not about what you think ladies I promise). On an album full of overblown synths, J-Dilla and Boards of Canada infused pop songs it stands out like sore thumb. A fellow writer at Tiny Mix Tapes commented that it reminded him of Red Hot Chili Peppers and I can kind of see that in the vocal delivery. My wife said the guitar part sounded swiped from a Robert Palmer tape. I keep thinking that it sounds like a heavier BeeGees song or something that might have played at roller discos in the 1970s. Maybe that was the intention, I just don't know. Whatever the case, it really diminishes the impact of an album that, whether you like it or not, at least flows properly from beginning to end and sounds of a piece. And it's a terrible song. If you can empirically prove that it isn't I'd love an explanation.

Whenever I come across a track like "Take Off Your Shirt" my mind always drifts to Led Zeppelin's "The Crunge." Smack in the middle of what is otherwise my favorite Zep record, Houses of the Holy, comes this pretty awful funk jam with someone asking "has anybody seen the bridge"....yeah you guys really broke the 4th wall with that one.... This is the same album that contains "The Ocean," "Over the Hills and Far Away," and fucking "No Quarter" yet they chose to put "The Crunge" in there right along with them.

Just as I was getting over my disappointment with Bibio for including "Take Off Your Shirt" on Mind Bokeh along comes the new Cold Cave album with a similar problem. I will be the first to admit that I wasn't that impressed with CC's previous album Love Comes Close but any band with Dom Fernow as a member is going to get a second chance or two to impress me since I pretty much think Fernow's work as Prurient is the bees knees when it comes to harsh noise (see And Still, Wanting but you may want your hearing tested after its over because that is one hella loud album). Anyway, Cold Cave's new record, Cherish the Light Years, is pretty great. The first single from it, "The Great Pan is Dead" had me at hello. It kind of sounds like New Order if they were a lot more indebted to Throbbing Gristle or maybe Ministry circa Land of Rape and Honey. It's a fairly short record at only about 40 minutes and nine tracks but the seventh song on it, "Alchemy and You" sounds pretty out of place with regard to one of its embelishments. It has what appears to be a trombone arrangement that shitty late 1990s third wave ska would have been proud of....yeah that's right I'm talking about Reel Big Fish or Catch 22 or Save Ferris...hopefully you get the picture. Google those bands if you want, they're all terrible. Don't think so? Don't read this blog again. (insert canned applause).

Whether you agree or disagree on these particular songs and albums, I'm sure I'm not the only one who has ever struggled with this issue. Chime in and tell me some others that come to your mind.


Maximum Jack said...

I know I'm venturing into sacred cow territory, but dear gawd seven and half-plus minutes of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" kills Abbey Road for me-- or at least the first side. I've always been more of a pre-facial hair Beatle-lover anyway, but that song sucks.

Collin said...

"Only an Expert" on Laurie Anderson's Homeland. But didn't ruin it enough to keep it off my year-end list.

Chuck said...

I'm sure I could think of others, but just now I was thinking how much I deeply dislike "Need You Now," the 1st single from Cut Copy's Zonoscope, yet love the rest of the disc and pretty much all their stuff.