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June 26, 2007

CD Reviews

IIBlackfield(SNAPPER MUSIC/ATLANTIC/WE PUT OUT RECORDS)The other day a friend of mine argued that “boring equals bad” when I mentioned a record I’d heard was “boring but not bad.” I still want to make that distinction, but then along comes a record like Blackfield’s II (do they think they’re the second coming of Led Zep or something?), and I have to concur that yes, sometimes, perhaps often, boring EQUALS bad.    I hate to eviscerate anyone’s artistic offering, as I understand the thought, time and effort that goes into making a record, but as we continue to drown in a sea of mediocre discs year after year, doesn’t someone have to put a foot down? This bland procession of straight-ahead, wannabe epic pop from another era (like something painful from the late ’80s) will have you falling asleep at the wheel.    Blackfield’s mildly interesting backstory (the band is composed of a well-known Israeli singer/peace activist and a lesser-known English musician from the band Porcupine Tree) gave me hope for this record. Sadly, Blackfield’s II kills hope. —L. ParkWoke Myself UpJulie Doiron(JAGJAGUWAR)Intimate and delicate music is a weakness. Categorize that with my being female? Whatever. Maybe. Exists regardless. A sappy bittersweet overtone joined by a voice that’s as gentle as hand bells in Sunday morning church is an incurable draw.     In this case, we get music that serves not as simple accompaniment but as a character all its own. Her lyrics are simple; her thoughts are neither complicated nor uncommon. She isn’t necessarily happy, but her melancholy isn’t agonizing either. She has struck that spot in between, where imagination isn’t overwrought with jubilation, but the music doesn’t cause the listener to knot his own noose. Classic.     “Don’t Wanna Be Liked By You.” Couldn’t have said it better myself, and god knows I’ve felt it multiple times. The title track has dual meaning, both through a translation clarified by the lyrics and esoterically indicated through every other song. The untitled track closes the album, literally and internally, and is absurdly accurate.     Doiron isn’t angry or depressed but refreshingly real. Expressing her emotion through her work seems no different than any conversation one may be lucky enough to have with her on any given day. —Michelle MankerSlightly SorryP.G. Six(DRAG CITY)    If you go to the Starbucks on the corner of Hurstbourne Lane and Shelbyville Road in the East End on a Friday night, you’ll find that they have live music, right there in the store! It’s usually some guy with a guitar. Occasionally, he has some girl with him who sings a little or plays some small percussive instrument.    Slightly Sorry is the record that Starbucks singers would produce, should they ever go to the studio.    Aside from the fact that P.G. Six’s record has one of the worst titles ever, it’s also quite uninspired. It’s a little more polished than just a simple singer-songwriter in a coffeehouse sort of thing (which it should be, because apparently this man has been recording since the early ’90s), but only just. Six tosses in a female vocalist here and there, maybe some nice keyboard sounds, but really, that’s just the product of heading to a recording company. The producers jazz it up a little bit. It’s not indicative of any personal style. If you’re the kind of person who really likes this sort of sound, might I recommend hitting up your local Starbucks instead of purchasing Slightly Sorry. The Starbucks guy is free. —Kirsten Schofield RoadkillovercoatBusdriver(EPITAPH)    Grab a blender, throw in Shinehead, Rush Limbaugh, Eminem, the kids from “South Park,” A Tribe Called Quest, ’80s synth, Soul Coughing, Bill Maher and Bone, Thugz ’n’ Harmony, turn that bad boy on high, and you might get an idea of Busdriver (and of just how insufficient comparisons and labels are). Busdriver moves easily from speed and staccato to atmospherics and psychedelia, spearing art-school kids and the self-pitying Left (Cuz smearing a salad on a SUV can’t/Save the black faces at the refugee camp), as well as yuppies and the corporate elite (They want an everyman milking the oldest gags/Spilling the contents of a Pepsi can on folded flags). And he’s equally self-deprecating. I can’t imagine a much more accessible and enjoyable combination of butt-movin’, beautiful music and socio-politico-cultural prescience. This is the kind of album that could open up new avenues for the average lover of more mainstream hip-hop and rap, and it’s also perfect for those who don’t usually find themselves attracted to those genres. —Adam DayBold Beginnings: An Incomplete Collection of Louisville Punk 1978-1983Various Artists(NOISE POLLUTION)This was about 20 years overdue. The bands featured have long been the stuff of legend to the local art/punk scene. Even in my younger days (closer to this heyday than I care to admit), cheap unknown-generation cassette dubs of the Babylon Dance Band, The Endtables and the Blinders were precious and highly coveted status symbols.    Noise Pollution has done a commendable and enviable job compiling and annotating the music and personalities of a very exciting time in local music history.    The liner notes — missives by artists involved and vintage photos — make for a pretty and informative package. It’s easy to wax romantic about this material.    Like Rhino Records’ excellent DIY series, Bold Beginnings represents influential bands that may have otherwise passed into oblivion, largely unnoticed. I hope there are more volumes to come. For a city that is perpetually cited as the “Next Big Thing,” our rich, creative history is woefully under-documented. This is a welcome and necessary step in the right direction. Next step: one of those giant building-sized portraits of Chile Rigot overlooking Baxter Avenue. —Michael Steiger