Glassjaw: Worship and Tribute

Adrien Begrand


Worship and Tribute

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

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.

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

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

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

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
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

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