“Friday I’ll Be Over U” by Allison Iraheta

December 30, 2009

The reviews are out for Allison Iraheta’s debut, Just Like You, and they aren’t exactly raves.

Barry Walters at Rolling Stone complains that Allison sounds too much like Pink in spots, which is no surprise–while I was hoping her collaborators would try to draw out her original side, this is pop music we’re talking about where the goal often seems to be to do the same thing over and over until it’s deader than dead.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine at All Music Guide is a bit more kind:

Allison may strongly resemble her idols here, but chalk that up to youth: she’s still in the stage where she’s emulating, not innovating, but that doesn’t prevent her from conveying considerable charisma.

Both critics have kind words for album opener and first single, “Friday I’ll Be Over U,” a cross between Joan Jett and co-writer Max Martin’s usual Swedish pop. It’s a good, not great, number, but it does show some potential. I think what I like about it the most is that Allison’s braces haven’t been airbrushed out of the video–that touch shows a glimpse of the genuineness and edginess that I loved about Allison on American Idol.

Allison was my favorite American Idol contestant ever, so I hope she gets the chance to develop.

Allison Iraheta – “Friday I’ll Be Over U”

Cross-posted at Idolpundit.


Rest in Peace, Vic Chesnutt (“Isadora Duncan” by Jolene)

December 26, 2009

I was saddened to learn that Vic Chesnutt died yesterday. He had been in a coma for a week after an apparently intentional overdose of muscle relaxants.

I’m no expert on Vic Chesnutt, but I’ll write about my limited experiences.

I saw Vic when I was an undergrad in either late 1992 or early 1993. He was the first opener for Soul Asylum, at the peak of their popularity during the Grave Dancers Union tour. (Second on the bill was the Goo Goo Dolls, back when they were a pretty good rock band and not making shit-tons of money writing made-for-prom ballads.)

Vic was an odd choice for the bill. On a night of rock, out rolls this crippled dude in a wheelchair, accompanied by a female singer (I think his wife) and another musician, and they play some acoustic folky singer-songwriter stuff. I know the crowd thought it was strange, and I don’t think they liked it much. I, on the other hand, was intrigued.

A semester or two later, I received a promo of his album West of Rome. I was taken by its wry lyrics, and bon mots like “someday I will transcend / Just like Jane’s Addiction.” (Somehow he made it rhyme.)

Somewhere along the way, I lost my copy of West of Rome. I always meant to replace it, and further explore Vic Chesnutt’s catalog, but I never quite got around to it. I suppose that now that he’s gone, I’ll do the usual thing and gruesomely dig in. Better when Vic is late than never.

My favorite Vic Chesnutt song isn’t performed by Vic Chesnutt. It’s a cover by the obscure alt-country band Jolene, from their gem of a debut, Hell’s Half Acre (which I really ought to get around to reviewing). Without further ado, here’s “Isadora Duncan.”

Jolene – “Isadora Duncan”

Rest in peace.

Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)

December 19, 2009

Sonny Bono wrote at least three killer songs. I prefer “I Got You Babe” and “Needles and Pins” in cover versions, but when it comes to “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” I’ll take the original, by his then-wife Cher.

Cher’s melodramaticism is both the reason for her success and the reason she’s never really gotten respect. I understand both, but maintain that the world is a better place because “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” exists. Your opinion may differ, and I’m not inclined to put my reputation as a big-shot music critic on the line to argue. Regardless, she certainly had her moments, and “Bang Bang” may be the greatest of them.

(“He didn’t take the time to lie.” Now, that, my friends, is a lyric.)

Quentin Tarantino clearly loves the song as much as I do, but let’s face it, in hipster world, admitting you like Cher is not cool, not cool at all. So he used the then-obscure Nancy Sinatra version, released the same year as Cher’s, for Kill Bill. It works brilliantly in the context of the movie, but absent the anticipation of the beginning of a violent film, it’s a bit boring despite a nice vocal.

It’s OK, though. Now you have an excuse to admit you like a Sonny and Cher song.

This brings us to cult musician Terry Reid. I will probably write more on Terry Reid later, but for now I’ll briefly recap the legend. Terry Reid was asked by Jimmy Page to take vocals in Page’s new project. Reid declined, and suggested Page check out a fellow named Robert Plant instead. Page clearly knew exactly what he was looking for, because Reid is without question the proto-Plant.

Terry Reid’s version of “Bang Bang” is from his first long player, Bang, Bang, You’re Terry Reid. It has lots of guitar.

Jack White performs the song as well, in his Raconteurs guise. This take is more likely than not informed by the Terry Reid version. Unfortunately, Mr. White can’t stop himself from a cheap, obvious, and easy tweaking of the lyrics, and so turns the song into interracial homo cowboy kind of love, as the Reverend Horton Heat put it. This somewhat spoils an otherwise good interpretation, which is too damn bad. Playing it straight (no pun intended) would have been a much better call. Jack–when Cher is more subtle than you, there’s a problem.

On Deaf Ears™ is always delighted to tell you more than you ever really needed to know.

Album Review: Black Kids — Partie Traumatic

December 17, 2009

black kids

The above image was Pitchfork’s review of the Black Kids’ debut, Partie Traumatic.

That about sums it up.

The second side of Partie Traumatic is entirely comprised of songs with “I” or “me” in the title. It’s a narcissistic suite, which is appropriate, because the Black Kids think they’re the shit.

That’s just one reason why this album is so supremely irritating. The Black Kids are obviously talented, but their Robert Smith and Jarvis Cocker meet Disco Stu schtick gets old in a hurry. “Listen to your body tonight / it’s going to treat you right.” Good Lord. Hipster hell.

On the occasions when the Black Kids get serious (“I’ve Underestimated My Charm (Again)”) the results aren’t bad, but those songs sound out of place and are overwhelmed by more propulsive numbers with crappier lyrics.

So that’s what you get with Partie Traumatic–respectable Pulp impersonations surrounded by overly self-conscious tunes that are too cute by at least half. Their eyelids must be sore from all that winking.

As I said, the Black Kids are talented. There are folks out there who will really enjoy this album; I’m just not one of them. I suppose there’s the possibility that they could develop into a good band, but I suspect their case of hip may be terminal.

Black Kids – “I’m Not Going to Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You”

Black Kids – “Hurricane Jane”