Music

Glassjaw: Worship and Tribute

Adrien Begrand

Glassjaw

Worship and Tribute

Label: Warner Bros.
US Release Date: 2002-07-09
UK Release Date: 2002-08-12
Amazon
iTunes

When I first received Glassjaw's second album, Worship and Tribute, I tried giving it a sample listen every once in a while, but whenever I tried to get through it, something would happen that would force me away from the stereo, and for about five times in a row, I had to stop the CD after the first five songs. So for a while all I knew about Worship and Tribute was that handful of songs, and judging from those, this new album sounded like it would be a keeper. Unfortunately, I eventually had to get through the entire album, and after a few listens to the CD in its entirety, I'm wondering how a band could louse up an album so badly after such a promising start.

The quintet from Long Island, New York, as they did on their debut album Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence, employ the services of Ross Robinson on this disc, and his trademark production style is all over the album: razor-sharp guitar work by Justin Beck and Todd Weinstock, an intense, tight rhythm section (Larry Gorman on drums, Dave Allen on bass), and extremely impassioned vocals. At its best, the album blends harmony and noise in an unholy cross between nu-metal and emo, and there are moments that show that Glassjaw can be capable of picking up where At the Drive-In (which Robinson himself produced) left off a couple years ago.

Those inspired moments are thrilling, and they comprise those first five songs on the album. The explosive "Tip Your Bartender" opens the CD, a searing blend of the sounds of Fugazi and Bad Brains, using the same effective, oblique, yet intensely personal lyrics that At the Drive-In excelled at: "All my X's live with hexes / This is why I hang / Myself with jealousy upon a fencepost half mast." The song immediately segues into the super-heavy Slipknot riffage of "Mu Empire", during which vocalist Daryl Palumbo flaunts his Mike Patton (Faith No More) styled range for the first time, providing subdued vocal harmonies, emotive howls, and wrenching, guttural screams, all in a song that ably finds the middle ground between heavy and melodic, something that few hard rock bands are capable of accomplishing. The catchy chorus in the excellent "Cosmopolitan Bloodloss" reminds me of the best moments of Jawbox's brief run almost a decade ago, and is the most accessible song of the bunch, sounding like a potential MTV2 hit. The mellower "Ape Dos Mil" has Palumbo and company in full Faith No More mode, and though whatever Palumbo means when he sings, "It's just a tango / But it's not easy, you know," is probably something the singer only knows, the song is a good exercise in obscure emocore balladry. "Pink Roses" is a return to more fervid fare, yet another deft blend of cacophony and melody, as Palumbo closes the song with a chilling line: "I want to drink you, scare you, fuck you and film you."

But that's it for the good stuff; in fact, those five songs comprise only 18 minutes of a 53 minute album, and the remaining 35 minutes quickly becomes tedious, repetitive, and self-indulgent. You hear it immediately on the sixth track, "Must've Run All Day", a maudlin ballad that apes the nauseating stylings of Canadian bland rockers Our Lady Peace, with Palumbo overemoting exactly like the preening Raine Maida, right down to the oh-so-earnest heavy breathing after every line. His intentions may be sincere, but when you hear the ludicrous line, "Where is my Sandanista?", it comes off as laughable. The boring noisefest of "Stuck Pig" is a failed attempt at a sketch of a drug user ("Some night's the wind pipe's covered in dope / I pray it be covered in a rope"), while "The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports" is just plain ridiculous, from its unoriginal, devoid-of-any-hooks musical arrangement, to the crying-white-boy vocals, and the high school journal lyrics that are nothing less than embarrassing: "My heart stays in the lead / And we see first, second behind my heart is my mind / Third behind my mind is my body / Fourth behind my body is my soul."

Basically, the rest of Worship and Tribute, with the exceptions of the by-the numbers, but effective punk of "Radio Cambodia", and the trippy Caligula tribute (at least, I think that's what it is) "Convectuoso", is a complete write-off. It's bad enough to listen to albums that are awful all the way through, but it's much, much more frustrating to hear a band like Glassjaw flex such creative muscle for less than half an album, and then just make it look like they're going through the motions the rest of the way. They've shown they're a smart band, both musically and lyrically, but on Worship and Tribute, listeners are stuck with 40 percent inspiration, 60 percent filler. If these guys ever manage to sustain such intense greatness over the course of an entire album, look out. In the meantime, though, just download those five or six songs and stick 'em on a mix CD.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

9
Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane
Music

Mobley Laments the Evil of "James Crow" in the US

Austin's Mobley makes upbeat-sounding, soulful pop-rock songs with a political conscience, as on his latest single, "James Crow".

Music

Jordan Tice's "Bad Little Idea" Is a Satirical Spin on Dire Romance (premiere)

Hawktail's Jordan Tice impresses with his solo work on "Bad Little Idea", a folk rambler that blends bluesy undertones with satiric wit.

Music

Composer Ilan Eshkeri Discusses His Soundtrack for the 'Ghost of Tsushima' Game

Having composed for blockbuster films and ballet, Ilan Eshkeri discusses how powerful emotional narratives and the opportunity for creative freedom drew him to triple-A video game Ghost of Tsushima.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Film

Love and Cinema: The Ruinous Lives in Żuławski's L'important c'est d'aimer

Żuławski's world of hapless also-rans in L'important C'est D'aimer is surveyed with a clear and compassionate eye. He has never done anything in his anarchic world by the halves.

Books

On Bruce Springsteen's Music in Film and TV

Bruce Springsteen's music in film and television captured author Caroline Madden's imagination. She discuses her book, Springsteen as Soundtrack, and other things Springsteen in this interview.

Music

Alt-pop's merci, mercy Warns We May "Fall Apart"

Australian alt-pop singer-songwriter, merci, mercy shares a video for her catchy, sophisticated anthem, "Fall Apart".

Film

Tears in Rain: 'Blade Runner' and Philip K. Dick's Legacy in Film

Blade Runner, and the work of Philip K. Dick, continues to find its way into our cinemas and minds. How did the visions of a paranoid loner become the most relevant science fiction of our time?

Music

London Indie-Poppers the Motive Impress on "You" (premiere)

Southwest London's the Motive concoct catchy, indie-pop earworms with breezy melodies, jangly guitars, and hooky riffs, as on their latest single "You".

Books

Vigdis Hjorth's 'Long Live the Post Horn!' Breathes Life into Bureaucratic Anxiety

Vigdis Hjorth's Long Live the Post Horn! is a study in existential torpor that, happily, does not induce the same condition in the reader.

Music

Konqistador and HanHan Team for Darkwave Hip-Hop on "Visaya"

Detroit-based electronic/industrial outfit, Konqistador team with Toronto hip-hopper HanHan for "Visaya", a song that blends darkwave and rap into an incendiary combination.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.