MU­SIC RE­VIEWS

Some al­bums made it to the charts while oth­ers brought joy to their fans, even with­out be­ing on top of playlists. Here are a few of them

The Gulf Today - Time Out - - CONTENTS -

MU­SIC RE­VIEW: THE HAN­SON BROTH­ERS, WHO GAVE US ‘MMMBOP,’ TURN TO ORCHESTRAS TO GET THEIR MU­SIC OUT

The Han­son boys have done ev­ery­thing in their power to get you to lis­ten be­yond “MMMBop.” They’ve put out solid new mu­sic, live CDs, Christ­mas al­bums - OK, lots of Christ­mas al­bums - great­est hits col­lec­tions, and even cov­ers of songs by U2 and Ra­dio­head. Now they’ve gone up­town - they’ve gone orches­tral.

The 23-track dou­ble al­bum, “String The­ory,” inds Isaac, Tay­lor and Zac Han­son re­work­ing past songs and un­re­leased ones for swaths of strings, wood­winds, brass and per­cus­sion. One new song, “Siren Call,” uses a full 46-piece or­ches­tra.

Snark if you must, but any­thing that gets Han­son’s mu­sic a fresh lis­ten is wel­comed. Why this tal­ented trio has never matched the suc­cess of “MMMBop” is one of those mys­ter­ies that go un­solved in the mod­ern mu­sic busi­ness.

Many of the songs, thank­fully, aren’t over­whelmed by the Prague-based or­ches­tra or of­ten see its inluence melt away, like on “Where’s the Love” or “This Time Around.” Some­times it’s all a tad forced, like on “Some­thing Go­ing Round.” And some­times, truth be told, the orig­i­nal is just bet­ter, like “Year­book.”

“String The­ory” is not an­other great­est hits col­lec­tion. Some Han­son songs that have ap­peared on such pre­vi­ous com­pi­la­tions - like “Get the Girl Back” and “Penny & Me” - have not been picked to be or­ches­tra-tracked. New or un­re­leased songs in­clude “Reach­ing for the Sky,” ‘’Bat­tle Cry,” ‘’Break­town,” and the re­ally nice “No Rest for the Weary.”

But you re­ally want to know about what hap­pened to “MMMBop,” don’t you? The new ver­sion is slower, more com­plex and yet still fun and catchy, even though it’s been given a lush­ness rarely of­fered on other pop songs. We hope you lis­ten. Maybe con­sider stay­ing awhile?

THE SMASH­ING PUMP­KINS’ NEW AL­BUM, FEA­TUR­ING THREE OF ITS FOUR FOUND­ING MEM­BERS, IS SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT

It’s no ques­tion The Smash­ing Pump­kins has had a tu­mul­tuous past. Mul­ti­ple it­er­a­tions, breakups and solo ca­reers later, three found­ing mem­bers of the 90’s Chicago-rooted rock­ers - Billy Cor­gan, James Iha and Jimmy Cham­ber­lin - are back to re­lease their irst col­lab­o­ra­tive al­bum in 18 years, “SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT, VOL. 1 / LP: NO PAST. NO FU­TURE. NO SUN.”

The ti­tle of the LP is fit­ting, con­sid­er­ing there’s a past the band likely wants to leave be­hind.

The Smash­ing Pump­kins has teetered be­tween dis­so­lu­tion and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion since 1996, af­ter the over­dose death of tour­ing key­boardist Jonathan Melvoin and the ir­ing of Cham­ber­lin. Mem­bers have been in lux ever since, with the cur­rent ros­ter fea­tur­ing Cor­gan, Iha and Cham­ber­lin with gui­tarist Jeff Schroeder.

Ahead of their lat­est tour, one found­ing mem­ber, bassist D’arcy Wret­zky, was left in the dark. The cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing her ex­clu­sion from the band’s re­union started a feud be­tween Wret­zky and Cor­gan, com­plete with pub­li­cized text mes­sage screen­shots and name­call­ing.

Peel away the dra­mat­ics and dys­func­tion that marked the launch of “SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT” - and the Pump­kins’ past, for that mat­ter - and you’re left with an al­bum that stays true to the band’s clas­sic sound with the help of leg­endary pro­ducer Rick Ru­bin. Tri­umphant strings and dis­torted vo­cals open the al­bum, as “Knights of Malta” crescen­dos to a choir singing with the gut­tural Cor­gan singing, “We’re gonna make this hap­pen/I’m gonna ly for­ever.”

While the al­bum cap­tures the non­con­form­ing spirit of ec­cen­tric front­man Cor­gan - swing­ing be­tween manic, ob­ses­sive and edgy tracks like “So­lara” and del­i­cate, trance-like songs such as “With Sym­pa­thy” - over­all, “SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT” is no mas­ter­piece. Songs build then iz­zle, like “Sil­very Some­times (Ghosts),” a catchy tune lack­ing the cho­rus to be con­sid­ered vin­tage Smash­ing, de­spite its nos­tal­gic and dis­tinc­tive Pump­kins feel.

High­lights on the 8-track al­bum in­clude “Trav­els” and “With Sym­pa­thy.”Theop­ti­mistic“Trav­els” afirms the al­bum’s com­mit­ment to “No Past. No Fu­ture.” in a luid re­al­i­ty­whereCor­gans­ings,“Seelove, see time/see death, see life” be­fore un­folding­in­toa­cho­ru­sof,“It’swhere I be­long/but far from here or else I’m gone.” There’s an el­e­ment of opac­ity, com­mon to Pump­kins lyrics, but one that man­ages to feel pleas­antly un­re­solved by the an­themic track. “With Sym­pa­thy” pleads, “Please stay con­fused/dis­union has its use,” but wraps it­self in a com­fort­ing, steady melody.

“SHINYAND OH SO BRIGHT” bring­shopethatthe­band’sdark­days are dis­tant. Mil­lions of Pump­kins fans cer­tainly hope so.

THE REVIVALISTS STUM­BLE BADLY ON MESSY 4TH AL­BUM, “TAKE GOOD CARE”

The New Or­leans-based The Revivalists are back and big­ger than ever - lit­er­ally - with their fourth full-length al­bum. They’ve re­cruited a new mem­ber - they’re up to eight now, if you’re count­ing - and of­fer a bumper crop of 14 new songs.

The first half of “Take Good Care” is mostly promis­ing stuff, fea­tur­ing the band’s ex­cit­ing mix of jazz-funk grooves, blues rock and warm melodies. The sec­ond half falls off a cliff. They should have quit when they were ahead.

For any­one not a die-hard RevHead, the jam-band octet made a name for them­selves with the sweet and funky tune “Wish I Knew You,” which found ma­jor suc­cess on the al­ter­na­tive charts in 2016 and last year. Rolling Stone mag­a­zine named them one of “10 Bands You Need to Know.”

And for seven or so tracks on “Take Good Care,” the Revivalists prove they might be the real deal, es­pe­cially with the slow-burn­ing opener “Other­side of Par­adise,” the eu­phoric “All My Friends” and the clever rocker “Change,” all show­ing va­ri­ety and ex­pert mu­si­cian­ship. But by the time you get to the end, their sound has got­ten lat­tened-out, generic and bor­ing.

“Fu­ture” sounds like a lazy Strokes rip-off and “Some Peo­ple Say” is a warmed-over Chris Sta­ple­ton song. “Cel­e­bra­tion” and “When I’m With You” are sag­ging, needy songs that ape the E Street Band. There’s in­con­sis­tency and te­dious­ness all over the 14-track al­bum. How did this hap­pen?

One rea­son may be be­cause, for the irst time, the band handed over pro­duc­ing du­ties to three men: An­drew Daw­son, Dave Bas­sett and Dave Cobb. At best, their in­ger­prints are all over the al­bum. At worst, their in­gers are all over the throat of the band.

Things get so bad that the inal song is an ut­ter em­bar­rass­ment. “Shoot You Down,” a soft, labby plea against hand­guns (“I won’t shoot you down/Can we for once just live with no guns?”) that seems both cyn­i­cal, pas­sive and out of step with an al­bum that has twice glee­fully cel­e­brated guns (“You can put them bul­lets in that gun” on “Oh No” and “Faster from a bul­let from a gun” on “Change.”)

It looks like this time the Revivalists didn’t take the ad­vice of their own ti­tle - “Take Good Care.”

MAR­I­ANNE FAITHFULL’S 21ST AL­BUM, “NEG­A­TIVE CA­PA­BIL­ITY,” IS A MOV­ING, QUI­ETLY MA­JES­TIC COL­LEC­TION OF SONGS DWELLING ON AG­ING, PAIN, LOSS AND LONE­LI­NESS

Mar­i­anne Faithfull is a great mu­si­cal sur­vivor. She went from pure-voiced chanteuse of “As Tears Go By” to em­blem of 1960s drug ex­cess be­fore re-emerg­ing in 1979 with “Bro­ken English,” a soul­bar­ing blast of an al­bum that still packs a punch.

Since then, Faithfull has ma­tured into a diva of melan­choly, her ex­pres­sive voice rough­ened and deep­ened by time and life. “Neg­a­tive Ca­pa­bil­ity,” the 71-yearold singer ’s 21st al­bum, is a mov­ing, qui­etly ma­jes­tic col­lec­tion of songs dwelling on ag­ing, pain, loss and lone­li­ness - hardly the usual rock ‘n’ roll fare.

Faithfull is chief lyri­cist, work­ing with mu­si­cal col­lab­o­ra­tors in­clud­ing Mark Lane­gan, Ed Har­court and Nick Cave, who co-wrote, plays pi­ano and sings on the sin­gle “The Gypsy Faerie Queen,” a mid­sum­mer night’s med­i­ta­tion in­spired by Shake­spearean mys­ti­cism.

Faithfull and her pro­duc­ers, Rob El­lis and War­ren El­lis (one of Cave’s Bad Seeds), have crafted a suite of tune­ful, au­tum­nal, ten­ta­tively hope­ful songs, with sim­ple, ef­fec­tive ar­range­ments driven by acous­tic gui­tar, med­i­ta­tive pi­ano and somber strings.

Col­lec­tively, they work a mourn­ful magic. Faithfull brings an omi­nous touch to Bob Dy­lan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and re­vis­its two of her own songs: the Rolling Stones-penned “As Tears Go By,” which grows more poignant with age, and the mes­meric “Witches’ Song” from “Bro­ken English.”

“Born to Live,” writ­ten for the late Anita Pal­len­berg, wishes for “a good death,” while “Don’t Go” mourns an­other de­parted friend, Martin Stone.

“They Come at Night” is a bleak re­sponse to the 2015 at­tacks in Faithfull’s adopted home city of Paris, while “No Moon in Paris” inds lone­li­ness, rather than love, in the City of Light.

But it’s not all dark­ness. Faithfull’s in­domitable spirit seeks more - more life, more hope, more love.

“In My Own Par­tic­u­lar Way” of­fers a wry self-ap­praisal: “I know I’m not young and I’m dam­aged/ But I’m still pretty, kind and funny.” And, de­clares Faithfull: “I’m ready to love.”

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