Worst CDs for the First Quarter of 2010
1. Peter Gabriel "Scratch My Back"
I love Peter Gabriel. Or scratch that... I love Peter Gabriel in the eighties and nineties. I loved his post-Genesis stuff, and "So" changed my life. Then why does he suck for the last ten years? Ok, ok, I kind of liked "Up", and some of his soundtrack work has been cute. But his smart idea for this CD was to cover other people's music. WITHOUT DRUMS. That's right... he has sucked out any life of these tunes. The power of David Bowie's "Heroes". Here it is a plodding dirge. The bounce and humor of Paul Simon's "Boy In The Bubble" is unrecognizable. And this CD made me like Radiohead and Arcade Fire a little less after hearing Gabriel's version. Peter, Peter, Peter... please come back to me. Or stop making music completely. I beg you.
2. The White Stripes "Under The Great White Northern Lights"
I like the White Stripes. Or I *did*. Maybe too much water has gone under the bridge. After falling in love with the Raconteurs, and his interplay and joy playing against Brendan Benson - after being challenged by the Dead Weather and delighted by Loretta Lynn's "Van Lear Rose" - maybe I've grown tired of the limited tonality of the guitar-and-drum gimmick. It doesn't help that his live concert has muddy sound and a mediocre set list, in my opinion. The tour was cancelled because Meg White went a little crazy. As you'd expect anybody would do hanging around Jack White. This CD is a memento of a failed concert, and I predict will be the last recording of the White Stripes as a band.
3. OK Go "Of The Blue Color Of The Sky"
What videos! And the first CD was cute, in a power pop kind of way. I had high hopes this band would be another Rooney or Wheatus. Instead, all of their songs are instantly forgettable. Plus, the CD is saddled with a pretentious tie-in to an obscure 1876 parapsychology book. The concept album idea doesn't hold up, and the only thing we are left with is a collection of limp songs.
4. Charlotte Gainsbourg "IRM"
I like Charlotte Gainsbourg as an actress. I liked "Antichrist" a lot more than Master Thor did. And this CD is ok. At least, it's much better to my ear than "5:55", due to the lavish production by Beck. And that's where my problem lies. Instead of making stunning music by himself, Beck is wasting his talent and wasting his time by creating boring lifeless techno for an actress with a middling voice. Which brings me to...
5. Broken Bells "Broken Bells"
I love Danger Mouse... both his solo stuff as well as his collaboration with Cee-Lo Green as "Gnarls Barkley". And I love James Mercer and the Shins, especially "Oh, Inverted World". So, I assumed I'd love the combination. No? No. It's a stale CD that actually feels like too *much* work went into it. It's like I can hear them calculating. There's no space in this CD... it's like they're playing music AT me instead of FOR me. I don't know what they intended with this CD, but I will pretend it never happened.