Music

Gavin Rossdale: WANDERLust

Former Bush frontman opens his soul to reveal trivial lyrics and mundane instrumentation.


Gavin Rossdale

WANDERLust

Label: Interscope
US Release Date: 2008-06-03
UK Release Date: 2008-06-09
Amazon
iTunes

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. A mere 14 years ago, Bush looked to be the heir to the grunge crossover throne. Even if you couldn't fully get behind their debut masterpiece Sixteen Stones, you had to admit it was at least promising. Their follow-up Razorblade Suitcase was similarly promising, but seemed a step in the wrong direction, even though the British group was carving its place in pop-rock dogma. And yet with each release they seemed to become less and less relevant, going from pop powerhouse to irreparably obsolete by their fourth release.

Sooner or later pretty-boy frontman Gavin Rossdale made his way to the big screen and departed the fame he found with Bush in favor of small side projects. And in 2002, Rossdale decided to get his Alfred Stieglitz on and play second fiddle to the skyrocketing mainstream success of his new wife, Gwen Stefani. It seems though, that aside from watching the kids while Gwen was off touring, Rossdale has been working on something of a musical comeback: his first solo release WANDERLust, which certainly is … something.

Gone are the days of rainy day theatrics and rock superstardom. Rossdale is stripped down to his most vulnerable, and embarrassingly inane self. If nothing else, WANDERLust proves that artists can no longer spew countless nonsequitors á la mid-’90s Pearl Jam and call it a legitimate song. Somewhere in the past 15 years, people decided they wanted lyrics to mean something and not just sound interesting coming muffled out of a drunken grunger's mouth. Such is the bane of Gavin Rossdale.

Rossdale's random ramblings plague nearly every song of WANDERLust. Case in point: "This Is Happiness". Rossdale, with seemingly nothing to say, sings, "That was my favorite New York / You are the sea, so I dive in you / This is happiness." I'm sure this has some deep Freudian meaning to Rossdale. But to the average listener, it's mindless drivel. And songs like the egregiously named "If You're Not With Us You're Against Us" don't help him any ("I love you now, I've loved you not / I am the runaway, that turned to dust"). These are probably carbon copies of Bush lyrics circa 1994, but somehow they just sound scattered and parochial.

The real difference between Rossdale's work with Bush and WANDERLust, however, is the instrumentation. Maybe it was a function of the time, but Sixteen Stones, for all of its crossover tendencies, was more or less a grunge album. WANDERLust sounds similarly of its time, but unfortunately that's equivalent to a hard-hitting American Idol contestant. For all of the introspection on this record, it sounds strangely hollow and thin, lacking the hefty substance that drew everyone to Rossdale's former work. He stands no chance of reaching the quieted strain of "Glycerine" or the I'm-gonna-fight-someone-tonight energy of "Machinehead". Frankly, Rossdale is a 42-year-old man (!!) trying to make 20-year-old's music. It's just not working.

The one thing that has remained intact is Rossdale's ability to write some incredible melodies. While not all winners on WANDERLust, Rossdale proves he's not entirely over the hill. Tired and sentimental lyrics aside, "The Skin I'm In" is begging to be a karaoke track. The similarly tacky "Beauty In the Beast" has brooding verses, until Rossdale explodes with a certified golden chorus.

Ultimately, WANDERLust is an album Bush fans never wanted to see but knew was inevitable. It was impossible that someone with as much charisma as Rossdale would simply fall off the musical map. But few probably thought he would fall this far. Yet that might be the album's greatest advantage. Bush fans will almost certainly hate this new incarnation, but Rossdale has opened himself up to an entirely new audience, disregarding the rampant disregard of grunge's past, in search of more luscious pop -- not to mention economic -- stomping ground.

3

From drunken masters to rumbles in the Bronx, Jackie Chan's career is chock full of goofs and kicks. These ten films capture what makes Chan so magnetic.

Jackie Chan got his first film role way back in 1976, when a rival producer hired him for his obvious action prowess. Now, nearly 40 years later, he is more than a household name. He's a brand, a signature star with an equally recognizable onscreen persona. For many, he was their introduction into the world of Hong Kong cinema. For others, he's the goofy guy speaking broken English to Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour films.

From his grasp of physical comedy to his fearlessness in the face of certain death (until recently, Chan performed all of his own stunts) he's a one of a kind talent whose taken his abilities in directions both reasonable (charity work, political reform) and ridiculous (have your heard about his singing career?).

Now, Chan is back, bringing the latest installment in the long running Police Story franchise to Western shores (subtitled Lockdown, it's been around since 2013), and with it, a reminder of his multifaceted abilities. He's not just an actor. He's also a stunt coordinator and choreographer, a writer, a director, and most importantly, a ceaseless supporter of his country's cinema. With nearly four decades under his (black) belt, it's time to consider Chan's creative cannon. Below you will find our choices for the ten best pictures Jackie Chan's career, everything from the crazy to the classic. While he stuck to formula most of the time, no one made redundancy seem like original spectacle better than he.

Let's start with an oldie but goodie:

10. Operation Condor (Armour of God 2)

Two years after the final pre-Crystal Skull installment of the Indiana Jones films arrived in theaters, Chan was jumping on the adventurer/explorer bandwagon with this wonderful piece of movie mimicry. At the time, it was one of the most expensive Hong Kong movies ever made ($115 million, which translates to about $15 million American). Taking the character of Asian Hawk and turning him into more of a comedic figure would be the way in which Chan expanded his global reach, realizing that humor could help bring people to his otherwise over the top and carefully choreographed fight films -- and it's obviously worked.

9. Wheels on Meals

They are like the Three Stooges of Hong Kong action comedies, a combination so successful that it's amazing they never caught on around the world. Chan, along with director/writer/fight coordinator/actor Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, all met at the Peking Opera, where they studied martial arts and acrobatics. They then began making movies, including this hilarious romp involving a food truck, a mysterious woman, and lots of physical shtick. While some prefer their other collaborations (Project A, Lucky Stars), this is their most unabashedly silly and fun. Hung remains one of the most underrated directors in all of the genre.

8. Mr. Nice Guy
Sammo Hung is behind the lens again, this time dealing with Chan's genial chef and a missing mob tape. Basically, an investigative journalist films something she shouldn't, the footage gets mixed up with some of our heroes, and a collection of clever cat and mouse chases ensue. Perhaps one of the best sequences in all of Chan's career occurs in a mall, when a bunch of bad guys come calling to interrupt a cooking demonstration. Most fans have never seen the original film. When New Line picked it up for distribution, it made several editorial and creative cuts. A Japanese release contains the only unaltered version of the effort.

7. Who Am I?

Amnesia. An easy comedic concept, right? Well, leave it to our lead and collaborator Benny Chan (no relation) to take this idea and go crazy with it. The title refers to Chan's post-trauma illness, as well as the name given to him by natives who come across his confused persona. Soon, everyone is referring to our hero by the oddball moniker while major league action set pieces fly by. While Chan is clearly capable of dealing with the demands of physical comedy and slapstick, this is one of the rare occasions when the laughs come from character, not just chaos.

6. Rumble in the Bronx

For many, this was the movie that broke Chan into the US mainstream. Sure, before then, he was a favorite of film fans with access to a video store stocking his foreign titles, but this is the effort that got the attention of Joe and Jane Six Pack. Naturally, as they did with almost all his films, New Line reconfigured it for a domestic audience, and found itself with a huge hit on its hands. Chan purists prefer the original cut, including the cast voices sans dubbing. It was thanks to Rumble that Chan would go on to have a lengthy run in Tinseltown, including those annoying Rush Hour films.

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