Mastodon played “Oblivion” from Crack the Skye on Late Show With David Letterman back on May 15th. Adrien Begrand said of the song: “Mastodon’s new direction is made apparent immediately, starting with the opening track. Compared to Blood Mountain‘s incendiary ‘The Wolf is Loose’, ‘Oblivion’ is far more understated, its murky opening riff slowly gaining momentum, but when the chugging begins in earnest, the emphasis is placed not on the rhythm riff but the richly layered vocal melodies instead, with drummer Brann Dailor (in a shockingly good vocal turn) handling the verses, bassist Troy Sanders joining in the bridge, and guitarist Brent Hinds taking over during the choruses.”
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Five years ago this week the Streets released A Grand Don’t Come for Free, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Original Pirate Material (2002). Adrien Begrand said back then “like Mike Leigh’s film High Hopes, like Pulp’s Different Class, A Grand Don’t Come For Free is a superb, perceptive portrait of everyday British life, completely devoid of any pretentiousness, and musically, though his beats are toned down, it cements Skinner’s status as a true original in UK music. The album spawned four singles, one of them (“Dry Your Eyes”) a #1 in the UK, and here are the videos.
“Fit But You Know It” (1 March 2004) - #4 UK
“Dry Your Eyes” (31 May 2004) - #1 UK
“Blinded by the Lights” (13 September 2004)
“Could Well Be In” (8 November 2004)
Dark Night of the Soul is a collaboration between Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse. Add to this already impressive pairing a dream team of assembled guests (Frank Black, Suzanne Vega, Gruff Rhys, Jason Lytle, Nina Persson, Iggy Pop, Vic Chesnutt, etc.), promised visual accompaniment by David Lynch, and details released on April Fools’ Day, and it is tempting to doubt the existence of something so potentially amazing.
Recent reports about the project suggest that skepticism is justified, though not because the project is bogus. Some “ongoing dispute” between Danger Mouse and label EMI is blocking the official release of the album. This dispute is possibly related to EMI’s disagreement with Danger Mouse over his Grey Album.
In what must be a music industry first, Dark Night of the Soul is being sold as a blank CD-R, and the following message appears at the store section of the project’s website: “Due to an ongoing dispute with EMI, Danger Mouse is unable to include music on the CD without fear of legal entanglement. Therefore, he has included a blank CD-R as an artifact to use however you see fit.”
NPR is streaming the album in its entirety as well as offering individual tracks. The album is also showing up elsewhere on the Internet, apparently allowing those purchasing the blank CD-R to “use however [they] see fit”.
The CD-R (with poster) is available for $10.00, and another edition (CD-R plus exclusive book of original photographs by David Lynch) is limited to 5,000 copies and available for $50.00.
Dark Night of the Soul [Stream]
Eminem - Relapse
To say the record industry is hoping for big things from Slim Shady is an understatement. The music biz is in freefall, rather like print media, and Eminem is one of the few bonafide platinum disc movers left these days. Undoubtedly this one will sell well, but the truth is Marshall Mathers’ routine is growing pretty stale. Relapse is full of more violent fantasies, drug tales and moping about his screwed up family. Eminem has one of the best flows in the game and it would be nice if he would start using it to actually say something beyond self-indulgent rhymes.
Tori Amos - Abnormally Attracted to Sin
Amos continues her multimedia approach to creativity with this compelling 17-track album, each song to be accompanied by a video “visualette” as something of a documentary accompaniment to the music. Amos still defiantly creates “albums”, full works of art with strong conceptual underpinnings. This is not music for the easily distracted. Sit down with the headphones on and give a solid hour of your time and stay away from that “shuffle” button.