Monday, July 9, 2007

Hunt for Oracle

Smashing Pumpkins - Tarantulla

I'm really not a fan of the "I'm a tortured artist SOB!" sub-genre of pop music in general or the Smashing Pumpkins in absolute particular, despite my enthusiastic appreciation for bald dudes as a species. And the Pumps fail my somewhat-subjective-but-still-surprisingly-accurate "Do I feel a little bit embarrassed for a band after typing there name more than ? test, which mostly parallels the relative suckiness of band and band name.

Really, folks. Try it at home. Smashing Pumpkins, Smashing Pumpkins, Smash... Ah geeez, the poor guys. Couldn't they have picked a poor name?

But this tune doesn't bug me much. Precise, machine gun drummin' is ALWAYS a good way to start your rock song and I dig the slightly atonal overdubbed background vocals and the surprisingly-metal-for-an-"alternative" band guitar solo. I'd almost rate it as good, 'cept I haven't given the lyrics a thorough listen and I'm afraid that if I do listen to the words it'll ruin my enjoyment of the song so I don't wanna do that.

Still, for a reworked cash-in-on-a-name-that-was-famous-ten-years-ago reunion tour version of a band I never dug much, this is a spectacular success, or at least beats the reformed Eagles or Stooges (which represent the two musical extremes the Pumpkins fall 'bout half-way between pretty well) all t'hell.

Blue Scholars - North By Northwest

Poetic lyricism with beats you can dance to. Marxist theory with Baha'i spirituality. Musical influences ranging from Thelonius Monk and Aphex Twin to Marvin Gaye and J Dilla."

I'm gonna Shuffle away from the pop radio for a second 'cause, honestly, my tolerance for music marketed at the kids half my age is kinda limited, we got a cut from the number one most played album on Seattle's KEXP, the station I spend most of my time streamin' when I'm hanging out at home in my pirate costume and scroungin' online for good deals on used parrots.

The 'bove quote from B.S.'s Myspace gives you a pretty good idea what this here band's about: Blue Scholars are a Seattle-based hip-hop group who spout an EXTREMELY Pacific Northwesty brand of commun0-anarchic laid-back liberalism. But at least on this track they do it over some cheerfully funky horn loops and scratched up gospel snippets, name-checking Thelonious Monk and Transformers along the way. On the downside, there's nothin' absolutely revolutionary on this cut and EmCee Geologic could certainly afford rockthe mike with a little more (HA! I made a funny!) with that KRS-ONE fire in th' belly. At the end of the day it's more good in the sense of being, um, good than good in the sense of "oh-they-probably-donate-to-the-NAACP-too so I should probably buy their album and play it very softly whilst driving my hybrid down to Whole Foods to see what new foods they have that are made out of hemp" sorta way. But I do wonder if it wouldn't do the band good to get away from Seattle and the kind of sleepy malaise that defines the city. A little more vibrancy and a little more urgency would make their positive "get off your ass and make art and fuck the major labels" hit home quite-a-bit harder.

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