Saddle Creek Records
celebration of their 50th issuing, Creek comes forth with a 2-CD
compilation that matches an oldie with a newie -- not a bad idea
for bringing along the uninitiated and curious, while sating the
hunger of those who've been there all along. The cherry-picking
is well-done, for the most part. Here's the rundown of the new,
The Faint -- "Take
me to the Hospital" -- sounds like a disco number because it
is a disco number. An obvious stab at a sing-a-long clap-along rant,
which means it's lyrically stupid, but if you're listening to the
words you're not dancing and you're missing the whole point. Hip-swinging,
head-bobbing mindless fun.
Now It's Overhead
-- "Dark Cycle" -- A forgetful stop-start-staggering droner
that's more about building atmosphere than building a song, thanks
to a flat-line melody. More music, less rhythm, please.
Rilo Kiley --
"Jenny, You're Barely Alive" -- I still say she'll be
first to break through to FM, or jump ship. This shiny ex-TV star
will always sound like a Jenny Toomey incarnate but with better
hooks. And everyone loves a good hook, don't they? Note to producer:
Leave her voice alone.
Cursive -- "Nonsense"
-- From chaos, order? Oh yeah. Cursive's strength has always been
its contrasts -- distortion vs crisp rhythms, awkward melodies vs.
Tim Kasher's worrisome cooing. Let the battle begin.
-- "The Moral of Rosa, Parolee" -- Son, Ambulance's Joe
Knapp is probably crazy. He's also the forgotten genius of Saddle
Creek. His music is all over the place, his Kermit-the-frog voice
leans dangerously close to the edge. And I can't stop listening
to it. The best song from either disc. Will he ever be discovered?
-- "Popn' Off at the F" -- The conscience of Saddle Creek?
Someone's gotta do it. Conor never sounded so screechy beneath the
grating cha-cha. I'm sure whatever he's saying is relevant, if I
only could understand him. Is anyone listening to the words, anyway?
The Good Life
-- "Aftercrash" -- The kinder, gentler Tim Kasher brings
things down a bit with an endearing look into his psyche. No matter
that he's asking you to drag his body from the constant car crash
and pick out the broken glass. "Hello? Richard Young?"
Azure Ray -- "Beautiful
Things Can Come from the Dark" -- The usual soft-as-a-lily
treatment from the Hush Sisters. Lots of strings, acoustic fingering
and no drums make this Lullaby for the Slacking Class. Still, you
can't beat those harmonies.
Sorry About Dresden
--- "People Have Parties" -- The least pretentious of
the bunch, SAD is always more interested in getting you to sing
along than changing the world, which is all right with me.
Mayday -- "Pond
Love" -- Ted Polecat croons and twangs like a long lost member
of The Band, complete with banjo and honky-tonk pee-ann-ah. I don't
miss that Lullaby outfit one bit.
Bright Eyes --
"One Foot In Front of the Other" -- It's just like him
to hog the spotlight by closing the disc with the best song he's
written (yet). Oberst is at his best when he isn't trying to make
huge gestures. His new style involves fewer, better-selected words
and simpler arrangements. Plus, his newfound political conscience
gives him something to sing about other than his broken rockstar
Also included are 45
"weekly movies" from the label's Web site -- an interesting
look inside the secretive world of Saddle Creek.
Posted May 9, 2003.
Copyright © 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.