Music

The Vines: Melodia

Aussie garage rockers pick up where they left off... for the fourth time in a row.


The Vines

Melodia

Label: World's Fair
US Release Date: 2009-03-24
UK Release Date: 2008-10-06
Website
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

Is it just me, or do the Vines seem to relish the title of Garage Rock Punching Bag that was thrust upon them after the release of their underwhelming sophomore record, 2004's Winning Days, if not the moment the Hives blew them off the stage at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards? Acknowledging that status and doing something to fix it, however, are two different things, and it's one that plagues Melodia, the band's fourth album, and fourth identical-sounding-album-in-a-row, released late last year, but only seeing a stateside release now in Spring '09.

As ever, both iterations of the band -- fuzzed-out rockers and mid-tempo Beatles-apers -- make up Melodia's 14 tracks and 30 minutes. So yes, if you've spent any time with the Vines' three previous records you know what you're getting yourself into: the quietLOUDquiet singles candidates: "Get Out", "He's a Rocker" (where frontman Craig Nicholls exalts/excoriates the titular dude by noting "he's got nothin' to say / All he's ever playin' is that rock 'n' roll music"); the quietLOUDquiet album filler (same as above, only less memorable/well defined): "Braindead", "Merrygoround", and "Hey" (with Nicholls' telling assertion that "I had enough of my time / So I threw it away"); and the songs that start quiet... and stay that way.

After a one-album hiatus, the "Autumn Shade" saga continues -- here, snuck onto the tracklist as "A.S. III", and as the song floats away, one realizes that Nicholls has given more thought to the concept of "Autumn Shade" than anyone else on the planet. Meanwhile, "Orange Amber" might as well be called "Autumn Shade IV" and loses further points for the phrase "I remember standing in that orange womb." However, the six-minute string-laden centerpiece "True As The Night" and "Kara Jayne" point to the Vines at their best: relaxed, confident enough to turn down the volume, and heavily indebted to the Beatles sense of pop orchestration. Granted, these songs may not be "cool", and perhaps they stand out only when compared to the band's faceless, genero-rock output, but a) no one else seems to be mining this territory quite the same way; and b) they're good at the quiet songs.

I understand that the band has bigger fish to fry than silly old rock and roll albums, as Nicholls continues his uphill battle with Asperger's Syndrome, but going "quiet" may be something for Nicholls to consider next time he finds himself sitting in the autumn shade penning tunes for the next Vines record.

In the meantime, a fourth sound-alike album earns the band a four.

4

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image